Category Archives: Justice System

Progressives Were For Religious Freedom Before They Were Against It!

Of course, this comes as no surprise – the flip flopping of Progressive (pRegressive) politicians who will say anything for political expediency. pRegressive politicians and their Praetorian Guard in the mainstream media have their panties in a bunch over the correct Supreme Court Hobby Lobby decision. Driven by either agenda or ignorance, they don’t even remember that at one time they were all champions of the same religious freedom they are now against.

The SCOTUS ruling is NOT about contraception. Instead, it affirms a law dating back to 1993 – The Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA). This law, “to protect the free exercise of religion,” according to the U.S. Senate. Specifically, the purpose of the law is “to provide a claim or defense to persons whose religious exercise is burdened by government.” That is the crux of the Hobby Lobby claim. Congress passed this law almost unanimously.

The RFRA was introduced following an unpopular SCOTUS decision curbing the religious freedom of Native Americans to use peyote. Congressman Charles Schumer introduced the bill in March 1993, a time when liberals were strongly in favor of religious freedom. The bill was cosponsored by many of the same pRegressives screeching the loudest about the SCOTUS decision, including Rosa DeLorio, Luis Gutierrez, Nancy Pelosi, and Maxine Waters. The Senate passed this bill by a vote of 97-3.

I am sure you will recognize some of the names:
Mr. KENNEDY (for himself, Mr. HATCH, Mr. BENNETT, Mr. BOND, Mr. BRADLEY, Mr. BUMPERS, Mr. CAMPBELL, Mr. DANFORTH, Mr. DASCHLE, Mr. EXON, Mr. FEINGOLD, Mrs. FEINSTEIN, Mr. GRAHAM, Mr. HARKIN, Mr. HATFIELD, Mr. JEFFORDS, Mrs. KASSEBAUM, Mr. KERRY, Mr. LAUTENBERG, Mr. LEVIN, Mr. LIEBERMAN, Mr. METZEN- BAUM, Ms. MIKULSKI, Ms. MOSELEY-BRAUN, Mr. MOYNIHAN, Mrs. MURRAY, Mr. PACKWOOD, Mr. PELL, Mr. REID, Mr. RIEGLE, Mr. SPECTER, Mr. WELLSTONE, Mr. WOFFORD, Mr. KOHL, Mr. SARBANES, Mrs. BOXER, Mr. DECONCINI, Mr. SASSER, Mr. INOUYE, Mr. BROWN, Mr. COHEN, Mr. KEMPTHORNE, Mr. PRYOR, Mr. KERREY, Mr. MCCONNELL, Mr. DODD, Mr. DURENBERGER, Mr. AKAKA, Mr. GLENN, Mr. GREGG, Mr. NICKLES, Mr. COATS, Mr. LUGAR, Mr. BREAUX, Mr. DORGAN, Mr. ROCKEFELLER, and Mr. MACK) introduced the following bill; which was read twice and referred to the Committee on the Judiciary

What a difference a new pResident and a new agenda make (despite the fact that the Constitution has remained the same)! Senate Weasel Harry Reid was in favor of religious freedom before he was against it. Voting FOR the RFRA in 1993, he is now indignant that the SCOTUS upheld the same law he voted for. Ditto for Nancy Pelosi, who is fussing about “a gross violation of workers’ religious rights.” What religious rights are being violated (must be the fact that progressivism and intrusive government is a religion to these people)? Are the Hobby Lobby employees members of a religion with a commandment, “Thou shall be provided abortifacients paid for by someone else”? Or is it the employer whose religious rights are being violated – “Thou shalt not kill” – by making him or her purchase these drugs for the employees?

Hillary Clinton also found the Hobby Lobby decision “deeply disturbing.” How ironic that her co-president husband, in November 1993, signed the RFRA into law, and when upheld 20 years later, she finds it “disturbing”. At the signing, then-President Bill Clinton remarked, “We all have a shared desire here to protect perhaps the most precious of all American liberties, religious freedom.” He also noted that “our laws and institutions should not impede or hinder but rather should protect and preserve fundamental religious liberties.” Commenting on the Founders, he observed that they “knew that there needed to be a space of freedom between Government and people of faith that otherwise Government might usurp.”

Protecting “religious freedom” was politically expedient 20 years ago. But now the dumbed down talking point is the “war on women”. It serves its purposes for speeches and fund-raising, especially when you have a captive audience of mindless drones. The RFRA passed almost unanimously, while obamacare barely passed along party lines in the House and was rammed through the Senate using budget procedural methods rather than proper voting procedures.

Don’t expect the Praetorian Guard (media) to acknowledge the flip-flops by our pRegressive politicians – after all it is an election year. The must mindlessly continue the propaganda.

A Retired Admiral’s Take on Benghazi

The following is a letter that was re-printed in a military newsletter I get from a retired navy admiral to Bill O’Reilly regarding the entire Benghazi affair.  I originally posted this at the end of the recent Benghazi thread.

Mr. O’Reilly,

I am mad as hell because the truth about how combatant commanders and the department of state can and should protect embassies is not being clearly explained. The fact is that there are policies, precedent, resources and procedures that could and should have prevented the embassy in Benghazi from coming under attack, or defended it if it did come under attack, or vacated it if the threat was too high. The ongoing discussion on your show and elsewhere that centers on the video and subsequent cover up is necessary as is the discussion about whether or not we should have responded during the attack. But those discussions have not brought to light the fact that none of this should have happened in the first place.

Fact: The combatant commanders, in this case AFRICOM, have access to our national inventory of intelligence community resources as well as international resources in order to thoroughly understand the risks and threats in any part of their Area of Responsibility (AOR). The complete picture of what was happening in Libya should have been known by AFRICOM leaders and this should have been briefed up the chain daily.

Fact: The first two cornerstones of AFRICOM’s mission are (1) Deter and defeat transnational threats posed by al-Qa’ida and other extremist organizations and (2) Protect U.S. security interests by ensuring the safety of Americans and American interests from transnational threats… In other words it is the mission of AFRICOM to prevent exactly what happened at the embassy in Benghazi.

Fact: The policy is for AFRICOM leaders to work in-conjunction with the state department’s Regional Security Officer (RSO) to establish the threat and then work with the Joint Staff and inter-agency to quickly provide plans and resources to deny that threat.

Fact: There are units specifically designed to bolster security in embassies. The USMC has three companies of Fleet Antiterrorism Security Teams (FAST) and one of these companies (or units from it) could have been deployed to FASTEUR in Rota, Spain, as the risk materialized. Each company has six platoons of 50 men each.

Fact: In July 2003 when I was the J3 at European command (AFRICOM had not been created yet) we had a similar situation develop in Liberia whereby two warring factions were threatening the embassy in Monrovia. The EUCOM team began planning for embassy support PRIOR to Ambassador Blaney’s request. When he did ask for help, we responded immediately, worked with his staff and received SECDEF approval to deploy a single FAST team platoon from Rota to the embassy to provide security. We worked with the Joint Staff and created the mission and structure for Joint Task Force Liberia, an anti-terrorism force based upon USS Iwo Jima and the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU).

Fact: Elements from the MEU arrived and relieved the FAST platoon. The warring parties signed a cease fire, the embassy in Monrovia was secured, no Americans were hurt.

So, the questions are:

1. What was the assessed level of threat in Libya prior to the September attack?

2. If it was not considered high then what were the intelligence failures that lead to that wrong conclusion?

3. If the threat was considered high then why wasn’t a FAST team or other resource deployed?

4. What did Ambassador Stephen’s see as his threat and what did he ask for? If he asked for help and was not provided it, that is inconceivable to me. My two bosses at EUCOM, General Chuck Wald (USAF) and General James L. Jones (USMC) would have bent over backwards to provide anything the ambassador asked for and more. They would have leaned on the Joint Staff to provide the authority to deploy and, in fact, during the Liberian situation described above, they were pushing me every day to provide solutions for the Joint Staff to approve. And should anyone forget, this was July of 2003. We were already in Afghanistan and had invaded Iraq just four months before. We were busy but not preoccupied.

Very Respectfully,
Hamlin Tallent
RADM, USN, retired

The admiral raises a lot of good points.  I guess we’ll see where this goes.  At least the right guy is chairing the select committee.  If Congressman Goudy doesn’t have the cajones to get to the whole truth in this matter, then I doubt that anyone can.

 

 

 

Too Big to Punish

Ever heard of HSBC?  I’ll bet most haven’t, but it is one of the largest banks in the world.  Founded in the 1860’s in Hong Kong (“HSBC” stands for Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation) in part to finance the growing opium trade with China, the bank is currently headquartered in London (the bank fled Hong Kong when the Japanese arrived in 1941) and has offices and branches pretty much everywhere in the world.

It turns out that HSBC decided it could turn a tidy profit by money laundering for drug cartels and terrorist States/groups.  The actions taken by HSBC in these efforts were pretty brazen and eventually they came to the attention of the United States government and legal action was started.  And HSBC faced what amounted to a “death penalty”.  The criminal activity was so pervasive that the criminal penalties would have demanded an end to HSBC’s activities in the United States and probably a bunch of other nations where it is alleged the “rule of law”is prevalent.

But, in the end, all HSBC got hit with was a $1.9 billion fine.  Don’t get me wrong, that is a pretty hefty chunk of change, but with a market capitalization of nearly $196 billion, it is the merest chump change as  far as HSBC is concerned.  They’ll probably make it up by moving their money laundering operations to some backwater where US writ doesn’t run and just add a surcharge to the drug lord’s monthly fees.   No directors of the firm were arrested or charged, nothing else is going to happen.  A gigantic criminal enterprise which makes the mafia pale in comparison and all that happens is a fine.  The likely reason they got off with a wrist slap?  Taking down HSBC would have roiled the financial system with incalculable effects:  it might have been something like a Lehman Brothers.

Continue reading

Supreme Court Oral Arguments on ObamaCare – Open Thread

The Supreme Court is halfway through its 3 days of oral arguments on the constitutionality of ObamaCare, highlighted by this reaction from Justice Anthony Kennedy:

Justice Anthony Kennedy, a possible swing vote for the court, was rigorously challenging Verrilli. Kennedy said he needed to answer a “very heavy burden of justification” to show how the Constitution authorizes Congress to require that individuals buy insurance or pay a penalty.

At one point, Kennedy said the mandate changes the relationship between citizens and the government “in a fundamental way.”

Lots of news on this, and judicial bloggers are having a field day.  Good time for an open thread.

Obama’s Re-election Strategy

Is Obama trying to lose the election?  The current disconnect with reality and desire to pander to every far left cause has me wondering if Obama is trying to lose, is he just this clueless, or, as Rush noted recently, is he simply confident that he has bought enough votes to assure his re-election?

The keystone pipeline was a no brainer, and could have boosted consumer confidence to a new level resulting in higher approval numbers for Obama, not to mention bringing unemployment down, creating good paying jobs, and stimulating the local economy of many towns along the way, but Obama chooses to pander instead to environmental extremists.

The recent constitutional over reach with respect to religious liberties was another bone-headed move and not very well thought out, although it appears the move may be the first broadside in an effort to shift the political conversation away from abortion to “the GOP wants to ban contraception”.  I guess we’ll find out in a few months if that’s a viable strategy.

The fact that Obama is talking out of both sides of his mouth with respect to the individual mandate in Obamacare, on one hand calling it a tax, and on the other calling it a fine, depending on the audience, was largely overlooked by the MSM. But then his budget director got caught on camera saying this.  So either the OMB Director committed perjury before Congress or the Solicitor General will be perjuring himself before the Supreme Court.  Either way, it should be interesting.

Obama’s allegiance to AG Holder and turning a blind eye to Fast and Furious, would be a huge controversy were it not for complicity of the MSM. To date, no one has been fired, much less prosecuted.

The recent call for significant nuclear disarmament at a time when the threat level is at a post-Cold War high, and the continued indifference to the action in Egypt, Syria, etc., may pander to the far Left, but the majority of Americans have to see these actions as detrimental to America’s future.

Obama proves once again that he is not a serious president by submitting a budget with a deficit that adds another 1.3 trillion of debt, when it was just 4 years ago while campaigning he called Bush unpatriotic for much smaller deficits. When the GOP finally lands on a nominee, the conversation will be about Obama, and not only can he not defend his record, his own words will be used against him to a point that everyone will finally realize that he is not a serious president.

America is slipping into a malaise of mediocrity under his guidance and if he is reelected, we may have federal school officials checking our kids’ lunch boxes for the proper nutrition ……… Oh wait.

This president has abdicated leadership and is the most partisan president this country has ever had. The only things Obama has improved in the last three years are his bank account and golf game.

Thanks to Cluster for most of the content for this post.//RS

Can America Tolerate Sharia?

Eliyahu Stern in a New York Times Op-Ed argues that Americans have nothing to fear from the importation of Sharia law in to the United States – he likens laws banning Sharia to past attempts at excluding Jews from full civil rights:

…The suggestion that Shariah threatens American security is disturbingly reminiscent of the accusation, in 19th-century Europe, that Jewish religious law was seditious. In 1807, Napoleon convened an assembly of rabbinic authorities to address the question of whether Jewish law prevented Jews from being loyal citizens of the republic. (They said that it did not.)

Fear that Jewish law bred disloyalty was not limited to political elites; leading European philosophers also entertained the idea. Kant argued that the particularistic nature of “Jewish legislation” made Jews “hostile to all other peoples.” And Hegel contended that Jewish dietary rules and other Mosaic laws barred Jews from identifying with their fellow Prussians and called into question their ability to be civil servants…

This argument does strike a chord – not just in someone familiar with the history of anti-Semitic persecution in the Christian West, but even for those – like myself – who are Catholics and know how our ancestors were considered unsuited for American citizenship as we allegedly owed loyalty to a foreign prince, the Pope.  Of course it was always nonsense to hold that Jews and Catholics couldn’t be good citizens of the United States – such views were just a hold-over of Protestant bigotries from centuries prior.   And, of course, once Jews and Catholics became numerous in the United States and demonstrated their loyalty again and again, it became absurd for anyone to hold to those old bigotries.  Is it the same for people of the Muslim faith?  Are we just rushing to judgment before we’ve given Islamic Americans a chance to prove themselves?

Perhaps – but here is the difference:  anti-Semitism and anti-Catholicism pre-date the founding of the United States of America.  Indeed, the Puritans who founded Massachusetts and set the stage for the growth of American liberty were, to a man and woman, ferociously opposed to any manifestation of Catholicism.  When those Puritans came from Europe to America, the war between Protestantism and Catholicism was still raging in Europe (when the Puritans landed at Plymouth Rock Europe was in the second year of what would become the Thirty Years War which was just a horrific war made even worse by sectarian animosities being used as a cloak for greed and cruelty).  We, as it were, inherited a bigotry…but Islam never felt such animosity in America until people of the Muslim faith started to massacre Americans for no justifiable reason whatsoever.

Remember that – it is key:  there is not and has not been an iota of justification for Muslims to feel hostility towards the United States.  Indeed, the proper feeling among Muslims should be gratitude…gratitude that American influence was set against the European colonial powers; gratitude that when Muslim States started to steal Western assets via nationalization the United States refused to coerce Islam in to restoring the stolen property; gratitude that the United States has restrained Israel from occupying Cairo and Damascus; gratitude that we pressured Israel to give up the Sinai and the West Bank even though Israel had no cause to do so; gratitude that we have helped to topple tyrants ruling over Muslim States; gratitude that time and time again the United States has rushed aid to Muslim States stricken by disaster.  The hatred felt by Muslims towards the United States is unreasonable…and the murder of Americans by people claiming to act in the name of Islam is a blot upon Muslim honor.  This blot is compounded by the fact that Americans have yet to see a vigorous, Muslim campaign to stamp out the people who murder Americans.

The words “bigotry” and “mistrust” are not synonymous.  We would be nothing more than bigots if we asserted that all Muslims are bad – but if we express mistrust of Muslims, the question must be asked – why?  Because Muslims have unjustifiably attacked Americans.  Because we have many examples of Sharia-advocates using it as a tool for persecution.  Because some of the most fervent advocates for Sharia have connections to the most vile, anti-American groups.  Certainly no American will object to a Muslim going to an Islamic court to clarify matters of faith and morals – no more than any American, of whatever belief, objects to a Catholic getting a ruling on the validity of a marriage.  But there is enough evidence in the actions of some Muslims who advocate for Sharia to convince Americans that Sharia is not compatible with American ideals.

It doesn’t have to remain this way – in fact, in just a few, short years American attitudes can be vastly altered.  All Americans will need to see is action on the part of Muslims to go after those who attack the United States and/or use Sharia as an excuse to brutalize their fellow human beings.  It won’t do the least bit of good for 10,000 people to swear that 99.9% of Muslims would never dream of attacking Americans or using Sharia as a means to oppress…words are meaningless unless matched to action.  It shouldn’t take American special forces and drone attacks to kill radical Islamists – Muslims should be doing it.  The sort of people who carry out terrorist attacks and use Sharia for oppression are not fit for decent company…no rational, well-meaning people would tolerate such in their midst.  But just as long as Islam at least appears to tolerate those sort, so will American mistrust of Islam remain, and likely grow.

You can’t excuse yourself from the act of building civilization by simply accusing others of being bigots.  We, as non-Muslims, have our duties to perform…to be tolerant of differences, to show love towards our fellow men and women, to fight for what is right.  Muslims have these same duties.  And I say to all Muslims who wish to have a world in which mistrust of Islam is a thing of the past – get busy:  you’ve a lot of work to do.  Once you’ve done it, you won’t have to ask for tolerance of Sharia…it will be automatic; in fact, you’ll find Christians and Jews to be willing collaborators in helping Muslim observance of Sharia…provided it is, as some claim, just a matter of adjudicating Muslim religious practices.

What are the Limits of Self Defense?

Interesting story from the Colorado Springs Gazette:

An El Paso County jury on Friday awarded nearly $300,000 to the daughter of a burglar who was fatally shot in 2009 while breaking into an auto lot…

To nutshell the linked article – a family-owned business had been victimized of late by burglars and the owners (realizing that when seconds count, the police are only minutes away) decided to stand vigil over their property through the night.  Some time during the night, two drug-addled, petty thieves broke in and the family members sprang in to action, firing a total of four shots, one of which killed one of the two burglars.  The DA referred the shooting to a Grand Jury which declined to indict, so no crime was committed  as far as Colorado is concerned.  The plaintiff’s attorney argued that the family deliberately set out to kill whomever might break in and as they were never in personal danger, this was a wrongful death…the civil jury agreed.

I, personally, would never kill to defend property – not even 100% sure I would kill to defend myself, but I would kill to defend any innocent person, if there was no other way to protect them.  But my attitude about criminals is that they have chosen a path fraught with danger…if they wind up injured or dead as a result of their voluntary actions, then no fault accrues to anyone who assists them in to the hospital or the hereafter (except if some weirdo took captive a criminal and then did him in, or some such thing like that – once a criminal is definitely rendered harmless, no one has a right to take his life except by due process of law).  It is too bad that the burglar died – but his death sentence was signed when he got stoned and decided to steal to support his habit.  If it hadn’t been this bringing an untimely end to his life, it would have been something else…and perhaps something much worse, and maybe with the burglar taking innocent people with him.

On that jury, I would have told the burglar’s family to take a hike.  People have a right to defend their lives and property – and anyone who enters property without the owner’s permission and with an intent to do wrong has just taken his life in to his hands.

What do you think?

 

Our Broken Police Forces

Over at Huffington Post, Radley Balko covers a disturbing story:

Jose Guerena, a 26-year-old Marine and Iraq war veteran, was killed May 5 when a SWAT team broke into his home a little after 9:30 a.m. According to Guerena’s wife, Vanessa (who was home at he time, along with their 4-year-old son), Guerena thought the police were home invaders. He ushered his family into a closet, then grabbed a rifle. When the police battered down the door, they saw Guerena and his rifle, and opened fire. The SWAT team released 70 rounds. Guerena didn’t fire a shot; the safety of his rifle was still on.

Last week, Arizona attorney Chris Scileppi filed notice of a $20 million lawsuit against Pima County, Ariz., on behalf of Guerena’s family. The lawsuit provides a good opportunity to look back at what has happened since since the morning of May 5…

Do read the whole thing – because it does bring to my mind, at least, a question about the utility of “special forces” units in our local police forces.  Indeed, it brings up along with it a question about what the police are for, and how civilian control is to be effected.

This story is extra meaningful to me because we here in Las Vegas also had a case of police officers wantonly gunning down a military veteran of excellent character…and then we watched as the police slandered the dead man, and then used a rigged investigation system to ensure that no officer was called to account for his errors.  If even our military veterans aren’t safe from out of control police actions, whom among us is?  When will the heavy club of law enforcement fall upon us?  Whom among us has the resources to fend it off?

Keep in mind that I am pro-police.  As I stated in my linked article, the police do a job I am not good enough to do.  Those people who are dedicated police officers are better men and women than I could ever hope to be.  But a baleful spirit of careerism, bureaucratic infighting and union corruption has taken over all too many of our local police forces.  The good cops are powerless against these forces…the bad cops get to rule the roost because they have gained control of the levers of power.  And, so, when a SWAT team goes on a stupid raid which results in an innocent death, no one is called to account.  Time and time again we have all seen this.

To me, the reason we have things like SWAT but don’t have a cop on the beat is because of the bad influences which have taken over the police.  Rather than have armored, heavily armed combat forces which can come crashing through my door at 2 am, I’d rather have a patrolman walking my neighborhood at night.  The patrolman will ensure that no one is breaking in to my home, that the teenagers are off the streets at a reasonable hour and that there is thus no need for anyone out there to think that my door should be battered down.  Corrupt and bureaucratic police forces like flashy things like SWAT teams; they make it seem like the cops are doing something good, when all they are donig is wasting time and resources which should be spent on crime prevention.  Police forces made up of people dedicated to law enforcement and keeping the peace have cops on the beat, who know their neighborhoods…who is supposed to be there and when.  It isn’t as sexy as SWAT, but it gets the job done.

My view is that what is most needed is a re-assertion of civil control over the police as this will ensure that the police get back to business.  That is, get back to seeing their primary task as peace keeping…preventing crime, rather than investigating crimes after they have happened.  Making certain the crack house never gets started, rather than raiding a house with machine guns at the ready, even if they’ve got the wrong house.  To that end, in my linked article I suggested the Civil Review Board – a means whereby average citizens can submit complaints about the police without the police being able to stop  or control an investigation.  That, in and of itself, would go a long way towards fixing the police…the next step would be to find political leaders who would be willing to take on the police unions (who really drive the corruption) and force the law enforcement agencies to do what the people need, not what corrupt unions bosses want.

Among the many callings a person can have, being a police officer is one of the most honorable.  Done properly, it is the height of service – the definite willingness to show the greatest love of all: that of being ready to lay down one’s life for another.  The police should never lack for support – monetary and moral.  They do one of the dirtiest jobs in the world and all of us should be wary of second-guessing a police officer in the performance of his duty.  But the police must be what we need them to be – guardians of the peace in our communities, not armed forces using razzle-dazzle, super-cop nonsense to cover up incompetence.