Friday, June 28, 2013

If It Weren't Hilarious, It Would Be Harassment

The White House has been emailing my wife.

Those of you who know my wife may want to stop chortling long enough to read the rest of this. No, we do not apologize for your having sprayed your beverage all over your computer monitor. If you were snacking and don't have anybody around to give you the Heimlich, use the back of a chair. Once you catch your breath, come on back and finish reading.

Anybody else, if you are drinking coffee, water, or some other beverage, put it down, now. You may want to abstain from food for a few minutes as well.

If it didn't so quickly denigrate into the butt of jokes, it'd be harassment. If anybody other than the White House were sending the emails, the replies of "quit spamming me or I'll press charges" would actually elicit a positive response of "sorry ma'am, we'll take you off of our list". However, we already know that Obama believes he is above the law.

My wife tries to be apolitical. However, she married me. She knew what she was getting into. Keeping that in mind, let me also inform a few of you that my wife adores the BlogCon-CLT T-shirt I passed along to her. It is the "Freedom Badger Don't Care" shirt some of you may be familiar with. She also will wear her BlogCon-13 T-shirt to the gym on Fridays.  If you haven't seen the pictures, my wife had a bit of fun meeting, socializing, and listening to some of the people she's heard me talk about over the past few years.

If Steve Crowder, Chris Loesch, Dana Loesch, Mandy Nagy, Deneen Borelli,  Brandon Morse or Steve Green happen to read this, she still talks about BlogCon-13. In fact, each time our daughter coerces us into playing the video for "Mr. America", my wife is quick to point out "I met them... all of them".

She can't wear that T to work. She has a strict dress code where she teaches. They have to dress up like Walmart employees. It does make things easier, though. She gets to forgo the 15 minutes of outfit coordination she was encumbered with at her last job.

The BlogCon-13 T-shirt is red. We like to wear red on Fridays. My wife and I are both veterans. R.E.D. stands for Remember Everyone Deployed. 

When saying my wife is "apolitical" it isn't to mean she doesn't have views. She is quite conservative. In fact, on many topics, she is more conservative than my libertarian-leaning positions. She just isn't overly vocal. If you read her reviews of The Hunger Games and How Do You Kill 11 Million People, you can see she is relatively conservative.

Many times I bounce my ideas off of her before I open my yap (or start hammering at the keyboard). I'll run some facts toward her and see what she has to say. In some cases, her reaction is much more conservative than mine. In some cases, when she hears the news playing on the radio, she will look at me and say "Did he/she [insert liberal politician] just actually say that? No! That is just... just stupid. Are you going to write about that?"

She knows my audience isn't on par with Michelle Malkin, Dana Loesch, or Erick Erickson. Still, she thinks that even the 30-100 people I reach is a good start.

Though she's working on her delivery, my wife can pull off some amazing bits of witty humor at times. Recently, she almost had me convinced that she didn't vote for Ted Cruz. "In the final election? I wrote in Dewhurst". She voted for Cruz in both of the primaries and in the final.

I won't buy it if she tries that same tactic should Dewhurst be facing Todd Staples. She met Mr. Staples and liked him.

So, there is a little background on my wife.

While preparing for bed the other night my wife looked at me. "Why in the hell am I getting emails from the White House?"

In case you didn't catch it, that means she considers them unsolicited and a nuisance.  Surprisingly, she didn't instantaneously tag them as junk mail. She started reading the first one to me. After two sentences, I stopped her and summarized it for her. She asked if I received the same mail. I informed her that I heard the rhetoric earlier in the day as Obama played demagogue and propagated his latest pile of rubbish that is recycled more yet less utilitarian than cow patties. Cow patties can be used as fertilizer, helping to grow food. They also emit methane gas. If some smart chemical engineer could learn to harvest that gas, safely and efficiently, it would make a great fuel source.

That brings us to the email's topic. It was soliciting my wife to buy into Obama's rhetoric on "green energy" and punishing fossil fuel producers. My wife doesn't "buy into" anything without doing her own "market research". Right off the bat, however, she asked how much more it will end up costing her to fill up the car each week.

Yes, that is one of the key problems with Obama's latest policy push regarding our Republic's energy self-reliance. He wants our energy costs to be beyond what an average person can afford. I guess being able to drive yourself to a job, earn a paycheck, pay your share of taxes, drive to the store, buy your own food with your own earnings, drive home, cook your own food, and have a family meal in the house you bought for yourself with your own earnings is more than Obama thinks we deserve. He thinks that the government should provide all of the above by putting the burden onto the backs of others who have earned.

So, Obama had a staffer send out emails to justify even more fascist, unlegislated regulations being issued by the bureaucracies within the executive branch.

Let's take a little look at how ridiculous the EPA has become. The EPA, and others, did an environmental impact study before starting a wind generator experiment on some military bases. One of them identified serious potential threats to some avian wildlife as well as a protected species of bat. The bottom line was that the windmill couldn't operate in hours that present the greatest activity of the bats. In addition, they were told to operate until a certain number of avian deaths were confirmed. Of course, those responsible for operating and maintaining the wind generator are the same who will check for dead birds and bats. No external oversight was tasked. It is a "green energy" project. Therefore, they get a pass.

On the contrary, try setting up a fractured hydraulic drilling rig on private property in order to collect and use your own natural gas. The EPA will be up your poop-shoot on a regular basis. That is if you are even allowed to build on your own land in the first place.Under the new proposed regulations, the regulatory fees and taxes would make it unaffordable. Then again, wind power and solar power tend to not be cost-effective to your average homeowner either.

But you'd be allowed to kill birds, just as long as you don't report yourself for having killed too many.

My wife received a second email from the White House. She passed it along to me. She didn't bother to read it. But we had a nice laugh over breakfast after I summarized it for her.

In short, this staffer wanted to tell us all the great work Obama did this week.

First came more "green energy, punish energy sources that are cost-effective and actually work!" propaganda.

When was the last time you can remember a week like this? On Tuesday, President Obama committed the full weight of American leadership to the fight against carbon pollution and climate change.
This staffer wants us to believe that Obama's executive powers are so great that he can control the weather! Oh, let us not forget "carbon pollution". I guess he forgets that trees, grass, humans, plants, animals, and fish are all carbon-based. I guess they are all pollution, now.

Next, Obama took credit for the Supreme Court ruling that DOMA violates state's rights. If you aren't laughing, look at Obama's track record on states' rights issues. Start with Obamacare. Next, move on to voter registration. How about the issues he has with Arizona's SB-17. Obama does not care one iota about states' rights. He cares about buying votes and stealing individual freedoms with empty promises. We can remind him that he supported DOMA when Bill Clinton signed it into law. Oh, Obama also took credit for the SCOTUS throwing out the case concerning California's Prop. 8. They didn't rule. They remanded it back to California courts. Read the ruling. It does not say "overturned". It specifically says "Vacated and Remanded".

In any case, I guess there are some people who believe that Obama has some special executive power that supersedes the US Constitution and allows him to issue court opinions with Roberts' or Kennedy's signature blocks. His auto-pen is just that damn good.

If you believe Obama supports state and individual rights, you may want to review his views on the Voting Registration Act decision:

Before the President spoke on Tuesday, the Supreme Court struck down one of the core provisions of the Voting Rights Act that has helped to protect one of Americans’ most fundamental rights for nearly 50 years. As the President said, it’s now up to Congress to ensure that every American has equal access to the polls.
So, despite what the US Constitution says, Obama is trying to order the US Congress, an equal branch of government to the executive branch, not subordinate to it, to violate the US Constitution and tell states how to govern their electoral processes. But we digress...

That isn't what got us laughing. What got us laughing was Obama praising the US Senate for passing yet another "comprehensive" bill that they failed to actually read before voting.

The email discusses "undocumented workers" and "undocumented immigrants". First, if they are "undocumented" it's only because the US Government has failed to process all of those caught breaking the law. The USBP is still employing a "turn back south" policy. Instead of capturing and deporting invaders, the US Government is asking them to "please go home". It's like asking a bully "please stop picking on me". They won't until you pop them in the nose.

Today, 68 members of the U.S. Senate, Republicans and Democrats, came together and voted to reform our nation's immigration system. They voted for a bill that secures our borders and cracks down on employers who refuse to play by the rules. They voted for a bill that provides undocumented immigrants with a way to earn citizenship so they can come out of the shadows. They voted for a bill that provides visas to foreign entrepreneurs looking to start American businesses, reunites families, and helps the students and young people who've never known any home but America fully embrace the country that they love.
Well, the if some super-smart chemical engineer could generate methane from the amount of bull droppings in that statement, the US would be energy sufficient for a decade. 

Many of those not caught, captured, deported, processed, or "turned back south" evade the USBP. They get documentation. It is usually forged. Many times, it also includes stolen personal identification information (PII). That is a crime also known as "identity theft". It is illegal. So, they are not "undocumented". They are "fraudulently and illegally documented". So let's shorten that mouthful to just "illegal" or "criminal".

Of course, Obama's rhetoric doesn't account for those who do come legally but end up in "illegal" status. Many of them are victims of the bloated bureaucracy run by the administration and the labyrinth of red tape they created to justify their jobs and budget. It causes delays in notification and processing of these otherwise legal immigrants, causing their visas to expire without any notification or warning. In fact, once such a person gets such a visa, they have to apply for a renewal the next day to get it processed in time.

What is hilarious, though, is that Obama's little staffer attempts to give three examples. She makes it appear as though these are illegal immigrants who made good on the American Dream. All three of these people do need to be applauded. They were not illegal or "undocumented" immigrants. All three went through the proper legal process and became naturalized US Citizens the right and legal way. If anything, they are examples against Obama's own rhetoric. These are what opponents of the Senate mockery of immigration reform actually want:  legal immigrants that prosper.

We heard from a 24-year-old honors student named Ruben who told us that he has dreamed of joining the U.S. military since he was 17 years old. "Since then," he said, "there has not been one day in which I do not think of the day that I will finally become a U.S. Marine."

We heard from a man named Miguel who arrived in the United States at 12, speaking hardly any English. He's now a citizen, a taxpayer, and the president of his local Chamber of Commerce.

We heard from a woman named Ramona whose father landed on Ellis Island in 1920, then helped build the New York subway system. "We all have come from someplace else if we go back far enough," she wrote.

It's the ones that Obama doesn't address that we oppose:  those who sneak in while carrying drugs to pay for  their passage and fraudulent documents. Obama also magically omits the cases of slavery and indentured servitude his policies have been complicit in fostering.

Also, Obama wants the criminals to be viewed as victims. After all, it is the fault of the prosperous, hard working US Citizen who has his identity and voter registration stolen by an illegal. The illegal immigrant is the victim. They deserve the right to vote and their share of your earnings because you worked so hard. Then again, he'll also tell you "you didn't build that". I guess the illegal invaders that stole your identity did.

To that White House Staffer, you have a job as a comedy writer. Wait, you weren't being satirical? You were serious? That makes this even more funny!

Anyway, thanks to this young lady for the laughs:

Cecilia Muñoz
Director, Domestic Policy Council
The White House

She is also a member of the rather racist and anti-US organization known as La Raza. She even proudly proclaims her membership in the hate-group in her White House Staffer bio. Putting La Raza in charge of immigration policy is like putting the fox in charge of the hatchery, or a pedophile in charge of a government-run pre-K indoctrination installation ("school"). Crap, I'm giving him ideas...

While you are there, you can look at Obama's "Director of Progressive Media". Basically, he's what the Soviet Union called a "Political Officer" and chief of what Orwell termed "Thought Police".

Thursday, June 27, 2013

A Simple Question Of Owning A Human Life

With Texas's SB5 and other states debating legislation limiting surgical (or pharmaceutical) abortions to the first 20 weeks of gestation, the abortion debate is back in full swing.

First of all, I must state that my views were altered by empirical data emerging in the past few months. Prior to that, I contended that a woman has the right to an abortion, up to the third trimester, as long as she paid for it herself. Look, no strange pregnant woman is going to take kindly to somhead and forcing her to pay for my friends' attempts at in utero or in vitro fertilization. Asking them to pay for a woman's elective surgery (through taxation or any other use of force) is just immoral and unethical.

Then came the Kermit Gosnell trial, and the other cases and investigations that have resulted since. The pictures of the live-birth babies that were murdered is disgusting. The fact somebody would do that is nothing less than evil. Some of the late-term (after 20 weeks) abortions Gosnell and his associates performed left aborted bodies dumped into waste baskets that could not be mistaken for anything less than a human baby.

My views have altered because of that.

I am still pro-choice. I am still, also, pro-consequences and pro-responsibility. People should not take any action that they are not willing to take full responsibility for the consequences thereof. It is just that simple.

Rape somebody and suffer the punishment.

I still contend that rape victims, if impregnated, have a right to choose abortion. I do not agree with that choice. But I am not a woman, and I cannot be impregnated by a rape. I would not have to suffer further those psychological scars from having to look at a resulting child every day.

But 20 weeks is a long time to make up your mind. Most rape victims would have that choice made within 4 weeks. Many would have made up their mind within 4 minutes.

One who claims to be mature enough to partake in an adult action that is biologically intended for procreation should be mature enough to make a decision on abortion in less than 16 weeks. In fact, the adult and mature thing would be to have the cash saved up and the decision made as a contingency before engaging in that mature/adult act in the first place. Not ready to take that responsibility? Then don't do the act. There, the decision is simple.

Don't attempt the "birth control" arguments. None of them is 100% effective except for abstinence. it is a proven scientific fact. Even "sterilization" such as a vasectomy or tubal ligation is not effective. Bodies are resilient and can repair themselves.

Sure, if you are ready to take on those responsibilities but just would rather not, then use the birth control. Go buy it. Go use it. While you are at it, save up to cover raising a child or aborting it. Have your mind made up and have the contingency planned. Be the grown-up you claim to be. Take responsibility for your actions.

20 weeks? Kingdoms have been built and tyrannies toppled in less time than that.

This is not about cases of forced impregnation (rape or incest). It is about those elective surgeries performed as a means of birth control. (Condoms are $.75 each, kids. They are cheaper than a 20 oz. Coke.)

It isn't even about those. It is about a serious question I'd like both sides of the debate to answer:

At What Point Does One's Life Belong To Them?

In other words:  When Does A Person Have A Right To Their Own Life?

See, I am very much opposed to human slavery. If you have been reading my articles for the past couple of years, you'd know that I have strongly and aggressively supported the fight against sex slavery. It still happens in our country.

I oppose human slavery to the point I was appalled when some on the left gleefully announced that they were glad that they we are owned by our government. Sorry kids, I am nobody's property. Neither are you, unless you willingly give up your freedom. I do not understand why anybody would.

So is a human life its own or somebody the property of somebody else?

Our US Constitution forbids the ownership of a human being.

On the pro-life side, I have heard many state that life begins at conception, and back up their claim with scientific corroboration. However, the scientific community is in debate on what stage conception actually takes place. Is it before or after implantation? Is it during inseminate fertilization? Is it when the first mitosis takes place? The answer is not definitive. The jury is still out and is likely to be for years to come.

During the earlier portion of a pregnancy, a child is fully dependent upon the mother. The mother provides blood, nutrition, digestion, oxygen, etc. The mother expels the waste. Then, at some later point, the baby begins to be capable of doing those functions on its own. It is still growing. Those bodily systems are still maturing and strengthening. But they are formed and working.

At 20 weeks, they are all functioning. At 20 weeks, they are all capable of sustaining those functions on their own.

So, is that life still a dependent part of the woman's body?

Again, it comes down to ownership. The "women's rights" pro-choice argument will claim ownership of the woman's body by the woman. Ok, no argument there, at all. Yes, the woman owns her body.

Conversely, does that woman own the baby's body? Does one human have the right to claim ownership of another?

If those "women's rights" activists and civil rights activists want to argue the ownership of one's own body and life, they must concede that the baby, at some point, owns its own life.

Some may argue that the baby cannot self-sustain until after birth. I can push that envelope. I know 30 year old men and women who are not capable of sustaining themselves. Many of them have EBT cards and gleefully proclaim that the government owns them, like slaves. Terminating one of their lives is legally (and morally) murder. So that argument is moot.

If the mother/government/taxpayers/village/tribe owns the child, when does its slavery end?

My daughter does not "belong" to me. I own that part of our relationship. I am her step-father. She is my step-daughter. It is just as my wife is my wife because I am her husband. We, together, own that relationship. As we jokingly remind each other on occasion, neither of us are the indentured servant of the other. We are equal partners, she mine and I hers. The same goes for a parent-child relationship. 

Many will concede that a human being owns its own life starting at some point during its infancy. They base that view on the baby's body's capability of sustaining its own life functions: digestion, respiration, circulation, defecation/urination, etc. If modern science has demonstrated that a child at 20 weeks of prenatal gestation can perform those functions if removed from the womb, wouldn't the baby own its own life at that point?

So, women own their own bodies and have rights to them. Agreed. When does the child own its own body and have rights as well?

For one final thought before anybody tries to answer these questions (hopefully intelligently with nice empirical data and verifiable facts):

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." ~Thomas Jefferson paraphrasing John Locke, The Declaration of Independence, 1776
 Note: by "men", Jefferson and Locke referred to human beings, mankind. He used the grammatically correct and gender-neutral version of the word. 

Texas Congress -- Get Back In Your Room!

Governor Rick Perry has called the 83rd Texas Legislature back into another special session. 

When you watch an unruly mob interrupt the due process of a special legislative session, what do you do?

There is a bit more to the story.

Texas's 83rd legislative session had come to an end. However, SB2 (the state budget), some bills regarding legislative district lines, and a couple of other bills were left unfinished. A few of those are quite important to how the state will do its business in the near future.

So, Governor Perry sent the 83rd Congress back into session.

After about two weeks or so, many of the issues completed their time in the legislative gauntlet and were passed or shot down. Among those bills were several dealing with medical regulations, specifically abortion. The various bills were amended to a comprehensive bill called SB5.

SB5, a Senate Bill, passed the Senate and was sent to the House for its vote. The House amended the bill and passed it on June 23rd. On June 24th, the Senate was set to do a reconciliation vote concerning the amendments attached by the House.

A Democratic state Senator, Wendy Davis, decided she would follow in Rand Paul's footsteps and filibuster on principle. She was not sure she'd stop the bill. But she had to try to keep the bill from passing before the clock ran out on the special session.

Well, she failed. The Senate voted for cloture with enough time to conduct its final vote to pass the bill.

However, in came the mob. The mob, who calls for "human rights" came in to champion taking those rights from unborn children who are past 20 weeks of gestation. A child past 20 weeks is capable of being born alive and living a full life outside of the womb. The child may not be fully developed and may need some special care, but the child can live. Then again, this describes most full-term births as well. You would be hard pressed to find any infant that was fully developed (adult teeth, hair, needed to shave, fully grown) and capable of getting a job at three days old.

The mob created a ruckus. Much of it was in support of the filibustering senator. Others were in support of the bill's passage. In any case, the mob preempted the vote, the bill's passage, and Lt. Gov. Dewhurst from signing the bill, recording the passing vote, before that clock expired.

There are soccer fans out there. So one of you may need to help educate others on "injury time". The information here may be incorrect as the author is not much of a World Cup Soccer fan. During World Cup and Olympic soccer games, there is a period after "official time" called "injury time". In short, the timekeeper adds together all the seconds the officials take from standard game time while making calls, throwing out crybabies, etc. They then restart a clock on a countdown in order to allow those "stolen" seconds to be played.

That is what that last day of the special session needed -- Injury Time. The standard rules do not account for mob actions. Those seconds that the mob stole from the legislature needed to be added back. The legislative process was injured/impeded. But there is no provision allowing for that within the chamber rules.

The filibuster and the mob's interference also delayed votes on other key bills, including ones much less partisan in nature. 

So what do you do about this?

If you are Governor Rick Perry, you exercise your constitutional executive privilege to recall congress to another special session. You give them that "injury time".

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Supremes Throw Out Prop. 8 Case

The US Supreme Court issued its ruling on the controversial Hollingsworth v Perry case concerning California's controversial Proposition 8.

The ruling is ambiguous. One thing is clear, the Supreme Court basically threw the case out, overturning lower federal court decisions in the process.

Gay Marriage advocates are cheering that the decision allows California to resume same-sex marriages. Their claim is that the court opinion dismisses the Ninth Federal Appellate Court's jurisdiction to hear the case.

Others read the decision differently. If you read the ruling and the majority opinion(s), it appears as though the high court threw out all federal court decisions on the basis they had no jurisdiction.

Here is Chief Justice Roberts' summary in the majority opinion:

We have never before upheld the standing of a private party to defend the constitutionality of a state statute when state officials have chosen not to. We decline to do so for the first time here. Because petitioners have not satisfied their burden to demonstrate standing to appeal the judgment of the District Court, the Ninth Circuit was without jurisdiction to consider the appeal. The judgment of the Ninth Circuit is vacated, and the case is remanded with instructions to dismiss the appeal for lack of jurisdiction.
Chief Justice Roberts, however, upheld this as a State-Level issue with state-level jurisdiction.

The California Supreme Court’s reasons for deciding that state law authorizes petitioners to defend Proposition 8. See post, at 3–5. Wedo not “disrespect[]” or “disparage[]” those reasons. Post, at 12. Nor do we question California’s sovereign right to maintain an initiative process, or the right of initiative proponents to defend their initiatives in California courts.
Kennedy echoed his views on the state's rights issue that he stated in the majority opinion for the DOMA case:

It is for California, not this Court, to determine whether and to what extent the Elections Code provisions are instructive and relevant in determining the authority of proponents to assert the State’s interest in post-enactment judicial proceedings. And it is likewise not for this Court to say that a State must determine the substance and meaning of its laws by statute, or by judicial decision, or by a combination of the two.


It is the product of the California Constitution and the California Elections Code. There is no basis for this Court to set aside the California Supreme Court’s determination of State law.The Supreme Court of California explained that its holding was consistent with recent decisions from other States.

Here is the point of contention. After the Federal District Court decided the case at its level, a private citizen took up the case on behalf of the State of California. The private citizens did so because they had defended California's constitutional amendment in the District Court that ruled prop. 8 unconstitutional at the federal level. That district court enjoined the officials who passed and executed the amendment as defendants.

So, in reality, the District Court decision was against Hollingsworth, the very party that the Supreme Court held could not represent the case in the federal courts.

Therein lies the ambiguous portion of the opinion. The Supreme Court ruling vacated federal jurisdiction and remanded the case back to California. That is being interpreted two ways. Some interpret that to mean the District Court ruling holds. Others see this and interpret it to mean that the California Supreme Court ruling that this was a lawful amendment to their state constitution holds, and federal courts have no jurisdiction, meaning the District Court decision is, potentially, also vacated. However, recall Roberts' words. He specifically named the Ninth Appellate Court.

The ruling was a 5-4 split decision that defied party lines. Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Scalia joined three "liberal" justices in the majority. Sotomeyer joined Kennedy, Thomas and Alito in the dissent.

Concerned parties should read the entire decision, to include the ruling order, the majority opinion, and the dissent and make up their own minds. After seven readings, the ruling isn't any more clear to this author.

Implications On States Banning Same-Sex Marriage

The simple answer is that the Prop. 8 ruling will have no direct, immediate bearing on state-level bans of same-sex marriage. Kennedy's majority opinion in the DOMA case as well as his dissent in this case still lean towards the issue being one of state jurisdiction and not federal. The majority opinion by Chief Justice Roberts does not appear to refute or rebut that opinion.

It could mean that same-sex marriage could be legislated and either legalized in California, or it may remain illegal. The state may decide to seek refining its constitutional amendment (created  by Prop. 8). In other states, the decision has no bearing at this time. Should same-sex couples harmed, directly, by their state's laws or constitutional amendments take the case before the federal courts, the future standings would remain in the decisions in those potential future cases.

Same-sex marriage remains legal in 12 states. It remains ambiguous in California. In 37 other states, it remains illegal. Those 37 states will not issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

Supremes Strike Down DOMA!

The US Supreme Court has ruled in the US v Windsor case that questioned the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). As predicted during the oral arguments, the US Supreme Court has ruled DOMA is unconstitutional under the 14th Amendment's fair and equal treatment/application of the law.

The high court's decision did not directly address the 10th Amendment facets of the debate, perhaps reserving that for their opinion in the case addressing California's Proposition 8.

   1. This Court has jurisdiction to consider the merits of the case. This case clearly presented a concrete disagreement between opposing parties that was suitable for judicial resolution in the District Court, but the Executive’s decision not to defend §3’s constitutionality in court while continuing to deny refunds and assess deficiencies introduces a complication. Given the Government’s concession, amicus contends, once the District Court ordered the refund, the case should have ended and the appeal been dismissed. But this argument elides the distinction between Article III’s jurisdictional requirements and the prudential limits on its exercise, which are “essentially matters of judicial self-governance.” 
   2. DOMA is unconstitutional as a deprivation of the equal liberty of persons that is protected by the Fifth Amendment. Pp. 13–2

However, one portion of Kennedy's majority opinion strongly indicated that marriage is a state responsibility and beyond the scope of federal authority, invoking the spirit behind the 10th Amendment (emphasis added):

The recognition of civil marriages is central to state domestic relations law applicable to its residents and citizens. See Williams v. North Carolina, 317 U. S. 287, 298 (1942) (“Each state as a sovereign has a rightful and legitimate concern in the marital status of persons domiciled within its borders”). The definition of marriage is the foundation of the State’s broader authority to regulate the subject of domestic relations with respect to the “[p]rotection of offspring, property interests, and the enforcement of marital responsibilities.” Ibid. “[T]he states,at the time of the adoption of the Constitution, possessed full power over the subject of marriage and divorce. . . [and] the Constitution delegated no authority to the Government of the United States on the subject of marriage and divorce.”

As expected, Justice Kennedy opined with the more "liberal" justices in a 5-4 split decision. Kennedy delivered  the majority opinion. It appears as though the dissenting justices each filed their own dissenting opinion. 

History of DOMA

DOMA was passed with bipartisan support as part of a deal to pass the controversial "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" law that allowed for homosexual service in the military. Gleefully, liberal president Bill Clinton signed DOMA into law without any reservations. During the debate and controversy leading up to DOMA's passage, Clinton openly advocated the bill.

The irony is that Clinton is a hero and champion of  the political ideologies falsely believed to more advocate same-sex and gay collective rights.

The Future of Same-Sex Marriage

The future is uncertain. The decision in Perry v Hollingsworth, which opines California's Prop. 8, vacates the federal decisions and remands the decision to the state-level courts.

How this decision on DOMA applies, however, is clear. States that legalized same-sex marriages may continue to perform them. States that have them banned can still continue to deny marriage licenses for same-sex couples.

What it does mean, however, is that same-sex marriages will be recognized as legal at the federal level. For federal tax purposes, those legally married in a state that allows them, same-sex couples may file as married. The same goes for federal survivor benefits under Social Security and Veterans' benefits. The same goes with every federal program to include subsidies.

The states, however, at this time may not affect state laws. That means that state-level programs may still exclude same-sex couples from those programs. In fact, Kennedy's opinion clearly states that it is the right of each state to legislate and adjudicate (courts) its own marriage laws.

So, for states that legalized same-sex marriage, those couples have the provisions those states allow. For those states that do not, the couples married in same-sex states who then establish residency in non-same-sex states enjoy only the federal level provisions.

The future is a step towards acceptance. But it now is remanded to a state-level issue to determined in each of the 50 sovereign states, individually.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

SCOTUS on Voting Rights Act of 1965

A much anticipated decision on Shelby County, AL v. Eric Holder was handed down as the US Supreme Court enters its waning days of the 2012 Docket Session.

The high court's sessions run from October through June, usually ending prior to Independence Day.

The case questioned portions of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 that required some states and counties to seek federal approval before any new voting legislation or electoral law could be implemented.

The opinion was an expected 5-4 majority along "party lines".

Chief Justice Roberts delivered the majority opinion with Justice Thomas filing a concurring opinion. Justice Ginsberg was tasked with delivering the dissenting opinion.

The Supreme Court Ruling reversed lower court rulings and declared Section 4 of the VRA as unconstitutional. In doing so, they reversed an earlier Supreme Court decision based on that decision's very wording. The previous case produced an opinion that held that the data used to support the law's necessity was temporal, and required regular review for applicability. In other words, that previous decision held that the law would be constitutional only as a temporary measure. Once it was no longer necessary to support the 15th Amendment to the US Constitution, it would become unconstitutional. The court decided that time has come.

Held: Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act is unconstitutional; its formula can no longer be used as a basis for subjecting jurisdictions to pre-clearance. Pp. 9–25.
(a) In Northwest Austin, this Court noted that the Voting Rights Act “imposes current burdens and must be justified by current needs” and concluded that “a departure from the fundamental principle of equal sovereignty requires a showing that a statute’s disparate geographic coverage is sufficiently related to the problem that it targets.” 557 U. S., at 203. These basic principles guide review of the question presented here. Pp. 9–17
(b) Section 4’s formula is unconstitutional in light of current conditions. Pp. 17–25.

In his majority opinion, Chief Justice Roberts stated:

     Striking down an Act of Congress “is the gravest and most delicate duty that this Court is called on to perform.” Blodgett v. Holden, 275 U. S. 142, 148 (1927) (Holmes, J., concurring). We do not do so lightly. That is why, in 2009, we took care to avoid ruling on the constitutionality of the Voting Rights Act when asked to do so, and instead resolved the case then before us on statutory grounds. But in issuing that decision, we expressed our broader concerns about the constitutionality of the Act. Congress could have updated the coverage formula at that time, but did not do so. Its failure to act leaves us today with no choice but to declare §4(b) unconstitutional. The formula in that section can no longer be used as a basis for subjecting jurisdictions to pre-clearance.

     Our decision in no way affects the permanent, nation-wide ban on racial discrimination in voting found in §2. We issue no holding on §5 itself, only on the coverage formula. Congress may draft another formula based on current conditions. Such a formula is an initial prerequisite to a determination that exceptional conditions still exist justifying such an “extraordinary departure from the traditional course of relations between the States and the Federal Government.” Presley, 502 U. S., at 500–501. Our country has changed, and while any racial discrimination in voting is too much, Congress must ensure that the legislation it passes to remedy that problem speaks to current conditions. The judgment of the Court of Appeals is reversed.

Conversely, Justice Ginsberg, in her dissenting opinion stated:
After exhaustive evidence-gathering and deliberative process, Congress reauthorized the VRA, including the coverage provision, with overwhelming bipartisan support. It was the judgment of Congress that “40 years has not been a sufficient amount of time to eliminate the vestiges of discrimination following nearly 100 years of disregard for the dictates of the 15th amendment and to ensure that the right of all citizens to vote is protected as guaranteed by the Constitution.” 2006 Reauthorization §2(b)(7), 120 Stat. 577. That determination of the body empowered to enforce the Civil War Amendments “by appropriate legis­lation” merits this Court’s utmost respect. In my judg­ment, the Court errs egregiously by overriding Congress’ decision.
* * *
For the reasons stated, I would affirm the judgment of the Court of Appeals.

Justice Thomas concurred with the majority, but filed his own opinion. In that opinion, he stated a desire to see Section 5 of the VRA also declared unconstitutional.

Section 4 of the VRA covers federal oversight of select states and counties. The bill, and section 4, do seem to violate the 14th Amendment's requirement of fair and equal treatment under the law among the several states. It singles out and targets select areas.

Some History of the Voting Rights Act

The VRA of '65 was passed in an effort to reduce an inequity in voter registration evaluated within racial/ethnic demographic categories. Since, the disparity has greatly declined.

The bill was passed then executed during the Johnson administration. President Johnson originally opposed the Civil Rights Act and the VRA when they were first proposed by conservative Republicans. After entering office as the President, Johnson reversed his support for both. Allegedly, Johnson changed his support for purely political purposes. He did so in an effort to chain and enslave minority voters to the Democrat Party by creating a sense of dependence upon government assistance. The VRA was designed to facilitate those dependent voters in registering and voting for the party that was keeping them from self-sufficiency.

Conservatives supported the bill on the grounds that it promoted protections of individual rights and privileges. However, since 1965, that disparity has much declined, and many of the targeted states and counties have shifted towards more a conservative majority that supports and defends individual rights and responsibilities over government intrusions and subsidies.

In recent times, the law that once had bipartisan support has been used as a political tool that granted the US Department of Justice under an appointed Attorney General the power to violate the 10th and 14th Amendments and take over a sovereign state's constitutional rights to determine its own electoral criteria.

Collateral Effects of Court Decision

Section 4 not only grants the federal government, particularly the executive branch, tyrannical dominion over states. It also outlaws any metric or requirement to understand the US Constitution or local electoral laws in determining voter registration eligibility.

While "Voter ID" laws are still a point of contention among the people, in the several states, and in the Federal Courts, the decision can pave the way for some voter integrity laws.

Poll taxes are still illegal and immoral. However, requiring a voter to be responsible and understand the basic tenets and history of the US Constitution is not. The striking of Section 4 may lead to some states requiring such testing as part of the registration process, at least when using the state-level registration forms. Previous Supreme Court Opinions declared that federal registration forms fall under federal laws that preempt state registration laws and forms. So, a state may require a test or proof of identity (and citizenship) when employing a state-level form. Such requirements will not be imposed on anybody registering when applying for a drivers; license or when using the federal form.

SCOTUS Opines In Favor Of Individual Property Rights

In a case of alleged regulatory overreach, over-taxation, and eminent domain against a Florida landowner, The US Supreme Court ruled in favor of the land owner.

The 5-4 split decision fell along party lines. The "conservative" justices ruled in favor of individual rights while the "liberal" justices voted in favor of government power to seize, tax, and regulate private property.

Koontz vs. St. John's River Water Management District surrounded some basic individual rights concerns. Koontz had applied for a "land use permit" in order to use their privately owned land. The permit was denied. The River Management District attempted to tax Koontz in both land and monies to pay for improvements on public lands that border the Koontz property.

Several lower courts ruled in favor of Koontz. However, the Florida Supreme Court reversed these rulings. The case was then appealed to the US Supreme Court.

The trial court found the District’s actions unlawful because they failed the requirements of Nollan v.California Coastal Comm’n, 483 U.S. 825, and Dolan v. City of Tigard, 512 U. S. 374. Those cases held that the government may not condition the approval of a land-use permit on the owner’s relinquishment of a portion of his property unless there is a nexus and rough proportionality between the government’s demand and the effects of the proposed land use. The District Court of Appeal affirmed, but the State Supreme Court reversed...

The Court held that a government may not seize lands as a form of taxation or processing fee, especially when denying a permit. The claim is that the land confiscation did not meet the necessity for an eminent domain claim. Using taxation as a means to seize lands for eminent domain purposes is unconstitutional.

1. The government’s demand for property from a land-use permit applicant must satisfy the Nollan/Dolan requirements even when it denies the permit.
2.The government’s demand for property from a land-use permit applicant must satisfy the Nollan/Dolan requirements even when its demand is for money.

In an exhaustive opinion, the US Supreme Court reversed the Florida Court's ruling. Justice Alito delivered the majority opinion.

Mindful of the special vulnerability of land-use permit applicants to extortionate demands for money, we do so again today.
* * *

We hold that the government’s demand for property from a land-use permit applicant must satisfy the requirements of Nollan and Dolan even when the government denies the permit and even when its demand is for money. The Court expresses no view on the merits of petitioner’s claim that respondent’s actions here failed to comply with the principles set forth in this opinion and those two cases. The Florida Supreme Court’s judgment is reversed, and this case is remanded for further proceedings not inconsistent with this opinion.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Texas Congress Special Session Focuses On Abortion

The Texas Senate and House, in a special session, consider, debate and vote on a suite of abortion related bills.

In a special session, the Texas 83rd Legislature convened in an effort to conclude some unfinished business. The regular session concluded in late May. However, the congress resumed an extended session starting on June 11, 2013.

From June 17th-21st the legislature concentrated on bills referring to the state legislative districts in preparation for future state Senator and Representative elections.

However, on June 23rd and 24th, both houses seem to be concentrating, primarily, on bills dealing with various abortion issues.

Prohibition on Abortion After 20 Weeks

SB5 is a comprehensive abortion regulation bill. The portions of the bill governing abortions 20 weeks after fertilization comes from companion bills filed in both the Texas House and Senate. SB13 and HB16 contain the majority of the law. The later-filed bills were, essentially, smaller portions of the comprehensive SB5. The hopes were that should SB5 fail to pass, one portion or another of the comprehensive bill would pass.

The house postponed its vote on HB16. It passed the more comprehensive SB5, with amendments. The Senate still has SB13 pending a floor vote, and entered on the calender. It is still scheduled for a floor vote on the 24th or the near future. More than likely, it will be postponed or tabled, since SB5 passed both chambers.

Legislation On Abortion Inducing Drugs

SB5 contains elements of another bill seeing action in the summer session. SB5 contains much of SB18, which is pending a Senate floor vote. SB 18 is designed to regulate abortion inducing pharmaceuticals. SB18 was a precursor to SB97, which was filed later. All three of the above named bills contain similar text. SB 5 has passed both houses, setting the stage for further legislation in regards to "abortion pills". Mental Aikido reported on SB97 when it was first introduced.

Comprehensive Abortion Legislation, SB5: 

Senate Bill SB 5 passed the House, amended, then passed the Senate with the House's Amendments. The bill includes the following criminal code:

 Sec. 171.0031.  REQUIREMENTS OF PHYSICIAN; OFFENSE. (a)  A physician performing or inducing an abortion: 
             (1)  must, on the date the abortion is performed, have active admitting privileges at a hospital that: 
                   (A)  is located not further than 30 miles from the location at which the abortion is performed or induced; and 
                   (B)  provides obstetrical or gynecological health care services.

Violation of these stipulations carry a $4k fine and a Class A Misdemeanor conviction.

SB5 also prohibits all abortions after 20 weeks of gestation.

       Sec. 171.044.  ABORTION OF UNBORN CHILD OF 20 OR MORE WEEKS POST-FERTILIZATION AGE PROHIBITED. Except as otherwise provided by Section 171.046, a person may not perform or induce or attempt to perform or induce an abortion on a woman if it has been determined, by the physician performing, inducing, or attempting to perform or induce the abortion or by another physician on whose determination that physician relies, that the probable post-fertilization age of the unborn child is 20 or more weeks.
The bill also governs the use of abortive pharmaceuticals or "abortion pills", requiring verification of the post-fertilization age of the child. In addition, it limits who is authorized to prescribe the drugs.

(a)  A person may not knowingly give, sell, dispense, administer, provide, or prescribe an abortion-inducing drug to a pregnant woman for the purpose of inducing an abortion in the pregnant woman or enabling another person to induce an abortion in the pregnant woman unless:
             (1)  the person who gives, sells, dispenses, administers, provides, or prescribes the abortion-inducing drug is a physician; and
             (2)  except as otherwise provided by Subsection (a-1), the provision, prescription, or administration of the abortion-inducing drug satisfies the protocol tested and authorized by the United States Food and Drug Administration as outlined in the final printed label of the abortion-inducing drug.
       (a-1)  A person may provide, prescribe, or administer the abortion-inducing drug in the dosage amount prescribed by the clinical management guidelines defined by the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists Practice Bulletin as those guidelines existed on January 1, 2013. 
       (b)  Before the physician gives, sells, dispenses, administers, provides, or prescribes an abortion-inducing drug, the physician must examine the pregnant woman and document, in the woman's medical record, the gestational age and intrauterine location of the pregnancy.

The bill also stipulates qualifications and locations where abortions can take place. They must be conducted in a licensed and approved/inspected surgical facility. The procedure must be conducted as an elective surgery unless performed in an emergency, life-saving manner. In the case of medical emergencies after 20 weeks, all feasible attempts to save the life of the child must be taken.

The bill does not violate Roe v Wade. There is no federal preemptive law applicable. The law is not designed to punish mothers or women. The listed punitive measures apply to medical personnel involved, maintaining the privacy of the patients/mothers.

The full text of SB5 forwarded to Governor Rick Perry for signature can be found here.

Discussion and Analysis

SB5 was filed before the case against convicted murderer and abortionist Kermit Gosnell came to light. However, on the heels of the Gosnell verdict and currently pending similar criminal cases, this bill clarifies that late-term abortions in Texas are illegal.

By and large, I am pro-choice. That statement makes conservatives cringe. The term "pro-choice" cannot be restricted to only the abortion debate, but all individual natural rights. It is on that basis that I maintain a "pro-choice" stance.

"Pro-Choice" is only half of the equation. The other half is accepting responsibility for the consequences. I firmly believe that all humans were imbued with the divinely-give blessing/curse of "free will". We have the right to choose, so long as we do so fully prepared to accept responsibility for the consequences of those choices. It is not a license to exercise moral relativity expecting impunity.

If you choose to drive in excess of the posted speed-limit, you chose to break the law. You accept responsibility for any collision it may cause. You accept responsibility for any harm to person or property your action may generate. You accept the fines and punishments a court may impose upon you. You made an adult decision and must accept the consequences.

You decide to exercise your right to free speech and insult some dude's mother, then you accept the consequences when he busts your mouth open with his fist. He then accepts the consequences of a possible battery conviction.

The same goes for terminating a life. When dealing with the life of an innocent, the potential consequences are great. They should not be mitigated any more than is reasonable in the given circumstances.

With free will, we are allowed to make choices. We are allowed to make bad choices. We are allowed to make unethical and immoral choices. With making those choices we must accept the repercussions, the effects, the consequences. We can choose to murder. In doing so, we accept the legal, spiritual, and psychological ramifications, to include punishment.

This comes with being an adult. If one believes herself mature enough to make the adult choice to participate in an action, one accepts the full adult responsibilities. That goes along with smoking cigarettes. You make the choice, you accept all of the health consequences. The same thinking goes along with sexual intercourse. If you believe yourself mature enough to make the decision to take that action, you also make the decision to accept responsibility for any life you create. There is no moral relativity. It is that "black and white".

It is the reason why minors, under 18, who decide to commit certain felonies and capital crimes can be tried as adults. They made the adult decisions. They deserve the adult consequences. 

I was born premature. I was also born before the controversial judicial activism known as Roe v Wade. I was not given great odds in "making it". However, after some time in an incubator, I survived and have since thrived. I grew into an adult man. I made an adult decision to serve my country for over 20 years. Since that decision, I faced many moral and ethical decisions in my life. Far too many of them were "life and death" decisions.

I oppose abortions as a general rule. However, I accept that there may be circumstances that should allow for that decision to be legal. I do not agree with abortions in cases of rape. But I understand why a woman may see otherwise. I respect her right to make that decision and live with the consequences. Legal consequences do not need to add to the already traumatic and heart-breaking situation. The rape victim has suffered enough.

I do support abortions in cases of incest, though. Too much scientific evidence demonstrates potential defects and other dangers to both mother and child in cases of incestuous pregnancies. In many of those cases, the victim is well under 18 and had no real choice in the events leading to her pregnancy. Like with rape cases, the victim has suffered enough, perhaps even more.

In both of these cases, I contend that it is still an individual decision that the mother needs to be free to make. She needs to be properly informed. She needs the data. She needs the freedom to make that very adult decision that has been thrust upon her, against her will.  

SB 5 still allows choice. It does not legislate morality. It applies morals and ethics to current science, defining the legal consequences of those decisions.

SCOTUS Tells 5th Circuit "Wrong, Do It Over" on Affirimative Action

In a 7-1 ruling (Kagan abstained on the opinion) in the Fischer v University of Texas affirmative action case, the US Supreme Court, in short, told the Fifth Circuit Court "Wrong, go do it again until you get it right".

Strict scrutiny must not be “‘strict in theory, but fatal infact,’”Adarand, supra, at 237; see also Grutter, supra, at 326. But the opposite is also true. Strict scrutiny must not be strict in theory but feeble in fact. In order for judicial review to be meaningful, a university must make a showing that its plan is narrowly tailored to achieve the only interest that this Court has approved in this context:  the benefits of a student body diversity that “encompasses a . . . broa[d] array of qualifications and characteristics of which racial or ethnic origin is but a single though important element.” Bakke, 438 U. S., at 315 (opinion of Powell, J.). The judgment of the Court of Appeals is vacated, and the case is remanded for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.
Justice Ginsberg was the sole dissenting justice.

The case is one that questions "reverse discrimination" and affirmative action quotas in regards to admissions standards at institutions of higher learning.

Fischer contends that the University of Texas used admissions policies allegedly intended to "increase diversity" as, instead, a means to restrict applicants' acceptance based upon racial demographics rather than academic potential.

UT responds that it does its best to make the university equally accessible not only to members of all racial demographics, but at a mixture they believe generates a culturally diverse learning experience that enhances the world view of all students.

The debate and arguments go deeper. Transcriptions of the oral arguments are available here

The courts' decision was to send the case back to the lower courts with guidance to take a closer look at UT's admissions policies and procedures in regards to its "diversity policy". 

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Crossing The Fine Line Between Hero and Traitor

Edward Snowden has gained the glory he sought and become somewhat of a household name.

Some find him a hero. Others have already labeled him a traitor. However, he rests somewhere in between, perhaps diving deeper into the "villain" end of the pool as days progress.

A moral person with high regard for individual natural rights protected and guaranteed by the US Constitution has to hold some level of admiration for the young man. Knowing he would be breaking some laws, he decided to take what he saw to be the hard right over the easy wrong.

The violations done through the DoJ's partnership with the NSA infuriate the sensibilities of anyone that supports the Fourth Amendment of the US Constitution. Despite some judicially created loophole from a federal court decision in 1979; personal information should be kept private and/or confidential. In these days where identity theft is rampant, the necessity to safeguard this information is paramount. Yet, that decision in 1979 holds that personal information on private citizens belongs to the telecommunications companies and not to the individual citizens whose information the data contains. The Privacy Act of 1974 seems largely ignored in this whole debacle, as well.

The fortuity of whether or not the phone company in fact elects to make a quasi-permanent record of a particular number dialed does not, in our view, make any constitutional difference. Regardless of the phone company's election, petitioner voluntarily conveyed to it information that it had facilities for recording and that it was free to record. In these circumstances, petitioner assumed the risk that the information would be divulged to police. Under petitioner's theory, Fourth Amendment protection would exist, or not, depending on how the telephone company chose to define local-dialing zones, and depending on how it chose to bill its customers for local calls. Calls placed across town, or dialed directly, would be protected; calls placed across the river, or dialed with operator assistance, might not be. We are not inclined to make a crazy quilt of the Fourth Amendment, especially in circumstances where (as here) the pattern of protection would be dictated by billing practices of a private corporation.

We therefore conclude that petitioner in all probability entertained no actual expectation of privacy in the phone numbers he dialed, and that, even if he did, his expectation was not "legitimate." The installation and use of a pen register, [442 U.S. 735, 746] consequently, was not a "search," and no warrant was required.  ~Smith v Maryland, Justice Blackmun, 1979

Snowden divulged the information concerning the PRISM project and other violations of the public trust he perceived the NSA and DoJ to be guilty of. He took a stand and took action. Was this disclosure an ethically and morally right thing to do? Arguably, yes. Was it legal? No. Was it treason or espionage? That is so debatable it is best left to the court system to decide.

Where Snowden first crossed the line was in divulging that information to a foreigner. He leaked the information to the foreign press. From an Information Operations point of view, it was a sound tactic. Had he disclosed through a US-based media outlet, his story may have been covered up, ignored, or relegated to only a few conservative-leaning reporters. It would not have gotten mass-media attention across the spectrum. Still, it was illegal.

However, Snowden's disclosure of state secrets did not stop with blowing the whistle on the NSA's violations of Intelligence Oversight. Reportedly, he has given information regarding the US's cyber-warfare capabilities to China. He has also allegedly disclosed information about US's intelligence allies' abilities. If he did so, he has crippled US capabilities. Actions of this sort are equivalent to Caincross, Fuchs, and the Rosenbergs' passing of US nuclear technology and capabilities to the USSR. The Rosenbergs were found guilty and executed.

In the military, there is a saying:  "10 'Atta-boys' are erased by a single 'screw-up'" [cleaned-up, PC version]. Well, Snowden's one "Atta-boy" just may have been thrust into non-existence by more than one other violation.

If you want to compare Snowden to Manning, Manning doesn't have even that small measure of redemption in revealing potential crimes being committed against US Citizens. Snowden at least had that. However, more and more it is seeming as though Snowden may have been more glory-questing than initially thought. His intentions may have not been as moral as he first claimed. Had they been, he would probably have been less willing to compromise other programs necessary to national defense, particularly those that do not target US Citizens.

In both cases, Julian Assange's name joins the discussion. Assange runs a company called "Wikileaks" whose sole purpose is to disclose national security related intelligence to the world in an effort to destroy all separate governments. He does this under an ideology of imposing a one-world tyranny over all nations.

It turns out that Assange is supporting and facilitating Snowden. He reportedly intends to leak more secrets that Snowden intends to divulge. In addition, Assange, who is currently an international fugitive after his part in Manning's intentional disclosures, among other crimes, may be assisting Snowden in his evasion.

The US Government is already seeking the capture and extradition of Snowden. China indicated that they may not be cooperative because they can argue that Snowden is sought for political reasons and not for crimes. Since announcing the intent to extradite and charge Snowden, the US Department of Justice has, now less than, 60 days to file an official indictment against him.

US Citizens should want to see the man properly and legally tried. His case needs to be heard. Perhaps he should be vindicated for his disclosure of the DoD spying on US Citizens, especially those not engaged in international dealings of any sort. However, if he is a moral man, he also needs to accept the consequences of any other crimes he may have committed beyond exposing the PRISM project.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Block Bad Bills

The past several years have seen some bad bills passed through congress. Most, if not all of these legislative atrocities, should have fallen victim to executive veto. Instead they were hailed, lauded, and championed by the seated president.

One such bill was the so-called "Patriot Act". While used responsibly, it allows some necessary sharing between military intelligence agencies, such as the NSA, and civilian law enforcement, such as the FBI. When used irresponsibly, it violates the US Constitution and leads to tyranny. The conservatives who voted in favor of it did so in order to better protect the US from international terrorists. The progressives who did so were looking forward to the day when they, again, held the reigns. Those who didn't see the abuse coming under the party of government intrusion failed to adhere to the first rule of legislation:  "The party of this administration won't always be in charge. So, how can the other side abuse it?"

Well, US Citizens found out. As you do your little teasing emails to your friends about that boy or girl who winked at them in the club, some NSA geek is scratching his head not getting the joke, or laughing himself to abdominal cramps. It can make one wonder if Anthony Wiener actually believed his "private" sexts and R-Rated pictures were really "private". He was in congress. He should have known better.

Then there was the "Dodd-Frank" act. The bill was allegedly meant to make housing more affordable to lower-income families. Instead, it led to false hope. Those low-interest rates were temporary. Once that five-year period expired, they skyrocketed. That led to the Fed dumping the prime rate into the basement. Housing values plummeted. They should have recovered in 24 months. Instead, they continued to drop for years. Between values dropping and those interest rates skyrocketing, many people, including many who were not within the Dodd-Frank demographic, lost their homes, their savings, and their jobs. Only now is the housing market starting to recover.

Next was that fiasco known as the "Stimulus Act". The only thing that stimulated to grow was government incompetency, the deficit, and the national debt.

That brings us to the "Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act". Obamacare has not protected a single patient. In fact, it has started to limit treatments available to people. It has caused providers to drop medicare and medicaid patients. It is causing outlandish inflation in insurance premiums. This was one of those long "comprehensive" bills that would have served better if it were broken down, bit by bit. Some parts were good. Most of it was bad. The bad is so bad it actually keeps the good from over coming to fruition.

Comprehensive bills, vague bills, and bills with more holes than a loaf of sourdough bread are just plain stupid. There needs to be a constitutional amendment that forbids "comprehensive bills". That same amendment should also limit bills to a length no longer than the US Constitution's original articles.

That leads us to a few bills on the table that fail the "common sense" test. Any bill that fails this test will also fail to adequately govern or enact any compassionate act of "social justice". One part of the "common sense" test is simple. In legislation, it must be good for one person AND every person. If good for only one small group or collective, it violates the 14th Amendment. The smallest minorities need protection. The smallest minorities are individual people, not some special collective.

No demagogues propagating an alleged "compassionate intent" of a bill will ever overcome the laws of common sense and consequence. In other words, you cannot put off consequences forever. Eventually, the dam will break and the resulting deluge will be more catastrophic. Further, no "compassionate legislation" will ever be effective if it fails the "common sense test".

One of these bills is the so-called "Farm Bill". The farm bill is meant to deal with farming subsidies, increasing the propensity (opportunity) for prosperity for the agricultural-based businesses. Instead, it pushes for increasing food subsidies. Those subsidies actually harm farmers and ranchers. It requires more taxes levied on taxpayers then redistributing that stolen money. Those given the EBT cards under the SNAP program then buy food with it. The problem is that stores are reimbursed less than the normal market value. The producers make less. They then require some form of government handout. It's a downward spiral.

Those who wonder what SNAP has to do with agriculture, the answer is quite obvious. The subsidies are tied together and both managed by the USDA. That's right, the USDA governs food stamps, instead of HHS. HHS controls condoms and abortions. The IRS controls healthcare (Medicare and Obamacare). 

To top it off, there are ten states that currently have more people on SNAP than they have employed. This includes states such as California. California has businesses fleeing to places such as Texas, where "right to work" and no income tax have helped maintain a healthy economy. Meanwhile, California has so many EBT cardholders. Yet California is a huge food-producing state, as is Texas. Soon, however, California may find itself without enough residents to harvest the food that is grown.

Another such state is Illinois, known for growing corn, barely, and wheat. Illinois also has its share of dairy farms and other agricultural commodities. Yet, despite the amount of food the state produces, they have more people on SNAP than they have employed. Imagine if they had to harvest that food in order to earn their "fair share"!

One key "selling point" behind the "Farm Bill" is the provision that stays the execution of a law passed in 1949. Should a bill fail to be passed that would delay that 1949 bill's execution, the price of milk could double, or more, overnight. The 1949 bill calls for government confiscation of milk products, among other "bad ideas". The laws of supply and demand will cause the price to skyrocket. The 1949 bill failed the "common sense test". So does the so-called "farm bill".

Then comes a bill with the built-in word of warding: "comprehensive". The only comprehensive bill we need is a comprehensive bill that repeals Dodd-Frank, the Patriot Act, the income tax amendment (16th), Obamacare, and adds the Balanced Budget Amendment to the US Constitution all at once. It can be called "the comprehensive common sense test application act". 

The absolute worst sin involved in "comprehensive" bills is that they are usually not thoroughly read, comprehended, or discussed. That leads to a legislature passing laws it never intended to pass. the consequences are that free people will be made to suffer tyranny.

The comprehensive bill to be wary of is the "comprehensive immigration reform bill". Like Obamacare, its "comprehensive" nature makes it self-defeating. The bill does not reform immigration. It complicates the process instead of streamlining it. Instead of curbing illegal immigration and better rewarding legal immigration, it does the exact opposite.

The bill needs to be broken into 3 or 4 parts, each passed as its own bill, separately. First, the border needs to be secured. Second, legal immigration and visa applications need to be streamlined and made a better option. States such as Texas need guest workers, especially during planting and harvesting seasons. Third, violations need to carry stricter consequences. This third bill should make identity theft carry stricter punishments. It should increase penalties for human trafficking and drug smuggling. It needs to have punitive clauses for those who employ illegals, to include jail time rather than just fines that can be written off as costs of business. It should also include a federal requirement for proof of citizenship in order to register to vote.

The last bill should deal with those illegals already here. The previous need to be done first. Only after the above are enacted should this be addressed. There are no simple answers, here. Some of the people need to be kicked out. Others need to be jailed, then kicked out. Still others need to be jailed for a very long time. But there is, in reality, a majority that don't necessarily deserve those more punitive actions. A better solution would deny amnesty, put in place a plan for permanent resident status, forever deny citizenship (unless they honorably serve 4 years in the military), and never grant the right to vote. Also, unless they go the military service route and earn citizenship, they should never receive any government subsidies such as SNAP or Section 8 housing subsidies.

Regardless, the longer the debate continues, the more amendments to an already complicated and ineffective "comprehensive" bill will be filed. Each of those causes self-contradiction and makes the bill more and more worthless. The few good amendments that were suggested have all, thus far, not passed.

How do we block bad bills?

The answer is simple, get involved and make your voice heard. It's all fine and dandy to sit around the bar or the table and complain. Take your rhetoric where it belongs. Pick up the phone and call the office of your elected representatives. Be professional. Tell them your concerns. Then let them know that if they vote for that bill, they are going to lose votes when they run for re-election. You may even inform them that, in some cases, they may face petitions for recall elections. Also, send emails, sign petitions (read them carefully), and send snail-mail letters. Elected officials and their staffers know that for each letter, phone-call, or email they receive, there are at least 10 other voters who think similarly. That number may be closer to 100. So, speak for yourself! In doing so, you may also be voicing the views of one who is too timid to speak up. The next step is to urge others to do the same.

Also, tell them that any bill labeled as "comprehensive" starts out as bad, and will just get worse with age.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Moral & Ethical Dilemmas Vs. Relativism

Various events and issues of discussion bring morals and ethics back to the forefront.

Mr. Snowden's revelation of the PRISM project and other activities by a Department of Defense agency (the NSA) against US Citizens rings of violations of Posse Commitatus, the use of the military against their own employers (US Citizens). Some with more flexible views of the US Constitution may even interpret such activity as violations of the Third Amendment.

The activities also bring allegations of violations to the Fourth Amendment, despite a US Supreme Court ruling many years ago that determined your account data with a telecommunications company belongs to the provider, not to the customer.

Further information on Mr. Snowden indicates he may have leaked more than just the PRISM program's indiscretions. He may have revealed other classified data as well as the conduct of other programs that do not target US Citizens in any way.

There are moral and ethical lines. Sometimes one must cross one in order to better serve another moral or ethic of greater value.

The case of Bradley Manning does paint a stark contrast to Snowden's leak concerning the PRISM program. Snowden viewed PRISM as violating the Fourth Amendment and Intelligence Oversight laws. He viewed privacy and the constitutional protections against unlawful and unwarranted search and seizure over any potential good such a program supposes to generate. It was an ethical and moral dilemma that required an amount of courage. Snowden, as a former military service member and current contractor working within the Department of Defense, took an oath to support and defend the US Constitution. To him, this program violated that oath.

Manning, however, disclosed intelligence necessary to national security. In doing so, he placed US Citizens at risk. He also caused severe harm to not only current national security by the ability to maintain it in the future. His actions may have led directly to the death of human assets and Soldiers. It also crippled US Diplomatic missions. Those missions are intended to be the first line of national defense, the efforts to achieve peaceful agreements necessary to avoiding military conflicts. There was not a feasible ethical or moral dilemma. His dilemma was one of moral relativism. The leaks were not done due to serving some higher oath or some moral code. He did so to serve flexible and relative values, subject to his whims.

Meanwhile, after various gun-violence incidents, several have come forward in favor of repealing the Second Amendment in favor of banning civilians from owning firearms. Their claim, to blame the tool not its wielder, is that guns create the violence. They tend to ignore all of the data that clearly demonstrates that guns in the hands of law-abiding citizens actually reduce the incidence of violent crime.

Many of the same individuals then picket in favor of abortion clinics and the right to terminate life. They wish to ban guns based upon the perception that they kill people. Then they walk door-to-door with petitions to strike down legislation that bans late-term abortions such as those done by convicted murderer Kermit Gosnell. Morally, there is no difference between the insane jackass who shoots up a school and a doctor who kills newborn babies because their mother didn't want them. In both cases, it is murder.

Of note: this is not a discussion of early term abortions. These are abortions done in the second or third trimesters. Kermit Gosnell was doing abortions after 20 weeks. In many cases, the child was born alive. He killed the kids after they were born. Since the Gosnell case, other abortionists conducting late-term abortions have been investigated. Several more are facing indictments under suspicion and allegation of doing the same.

The point is that, to these moral relativists, the value of human life is relative. For them, there is no intrinsic moral value. It is all relative to the socio-political message they wish to propagate on a given day.

Concerning the value of life, a dilemma takes on a different scenario or vignette. If a police officer must shoot a 16 year old before he can harm or kill another person (say he has already killed one and maimed another, is armed, and is about to do similar to another victim), that is a dilemma. The officer values life. But he must choose between taking one life or allowing other lives to be taken. Chances are, the perpetrator will continue unabated.

The same dilemma faces Soldiers at war. Soldiers do their best to preserve civilian life. They place the lives of others above their own. That is not to say they don't value their own lives. They do. In fact, their love of their own lives is one of their motivating factors to do what they do on a daily basis. They just tend to value the lives of others even more. So, when a 12 year old boy starts throwing hand-grenades at US Soldiers, Local National Police, and unarmed civilians in line to deposit their paychecks in the bank, what should a Soldier do? There is no time for a deep philosophical debate. The Soldier must act. It is one life versus many. The age of the child who is attacking is not considered in the moment. It will haunt the Soldier for years afterwards. Soldiers do not kill kids. This kid was a direct threat to other people, including other kids. It is a moral dilemma. It is a hard decision to make. That 12 year old received two well-placed bullets to his little body. Lives were saved.

The difference between a morally or ethically relative decision and a true moral dilemma is obvious in those examples. Some times the lines are not so clear. So how do we recognize the difference?

This is not an easy topic to discuss. Emanuel Kant wrote a long book that largely addresses ethics and dilemma. However, Kant strongly supported moral relativism over morality. Conversely, Kierkegaard used his perception of existentialism to bolster morality over relativism.

A moral or ethical dilemma does require one to assess or judge right or wrong based upon relative moral or ethical values. The difference is that these values remain consistent. The value placed on, say human life, is not changed to fit some agenda or whim of the day.

Most world religions have similar core values. They may weight some over others. However, Jews have the Ten Commandments. Christians have the same Commandments then add the Seven Deadly Sins, Seven Divine Virtues, and the two rules professed by Yeshua bin Josef. ADF Druids hold to 9 Virtues. They all boil down to simple moral values. Value faith and natural law. Value life. Honor your family. Don't steal or envy things others have lawfully acquired. Don't lie in order to harm another unjustly. Be charitable. Love your children. Hurting people for no reason or for selfish reasons is evil. Harming somebody because you have no choice in order to defend the property or life of another is regrettable, but not evil.

Relativism is based on weighing those values, actually changing them, based upon perceptions. They would value a new car over the life of its owner. They want the car. So, in their view, somebody having worked hard and earned the car is "unfair", because the relativist has not done so. So, out of that skewed and immoral view of "fairness", they see it as ethical to kill the car owner and steal the car.

Relativism leads drug addicts to value the influence of the drugs over life, property and welfare. They intentionally risk their lives for that "high". They value that sensation over the property of others, willing to default on debts or even steal in order to acquire their drugs. They seek the high over their children, seeking the chance to "get high" over supervising and teaching their kids. They teach their kids this same relativism through their poor example instead of demonstrating a moral compass. Why? They place a value on the drugs above social mores and values and natural law.

This formula, after applying Occam's Razor, pretty much applies to all moral and ethical questions. It comes down to weighing those moral values, seeing the difference in both the act and the collateral effects (consequences) and making the decision. Moral decisions are not made to be easy to live with. If they were, then ethics and morality would be relative, flexible, and to be ignored. That would negate any essence of any wrongdoing. It would negate the concepts of right and wrong, good and evil, justice and injustice, fair and unfair.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

SCOTUS Decides Silence Can Incriminate

In a 5-4 "party-line" decision, the US Supreme Court decided that silence by the accused can be considered incriminating evidence. In order for it to be protected by the Fifth Amendment, you must verbally invoke the protections.

Last week, the USSC ruled against the state of Texas in regards to the Red River Compact and Oklahoma retaining its sovereignty over water inside its borders. This decision was, conversely, in favor of the State of Texas and its system of due process.

The court upheld in Salinas v Texas that the accused was properly read his Miranda rights statement. Afterwards, Salinas voluntarily answered many of the investigators' questions. However, when asked about what Salinas may guess ballistic tests would reveal, Salinas refused to answer. He remained silent, but never uttered any phrase indicating he was invoking his Fifth Amendment protections.

The Supreme Court upheld Salinas's conviction, stating that the Republic of Texas utilized appropriate due process in investigation, prosecution, and conviction.

This decision may cause a change to Miranda warning statements. Perhaps a new phrase of  "You have the right to remain silent and may invoke your Fifth Amendment rights, verbally, at any time" and "whatever you say, do not say, or do may be held against you in a court of law".

Justice Alito wrote the majority opinion:

So long as police do not deprive a witness of the ability to voluntarily invoke the privilege, there is no Fifth Amendment violation.
* * *
Before petitioner could rely on the privilege against self incrimination, he was required to invoke it. Because he failed to do so, the judgment of the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals is affirmed.
It is so ordered.

Flynn Succumbs to Cancer -- Rapp's Future Foggy

Author Vice Flynn succumbed to prostate cancer at the young age of 47. Mr. Flynn penned 15 novels featuring covert CIA operative, Mitch Rapp.

The news marks a foggy future for Mitch Rapp fans. It is unknown if anybody can or will attempt to take-up the iconic series. Flynn's portrayal of Rapp is an act that will be nearly impossible.

Flynn first learned of his ailment after he published "Kill Shot", his 13th novel. He assumed it was just some form of bacterial infection. The news and following battle came not long after, when tests discovered the cancer.

Among the fans of Flynn's Rapp novels are rumored to be Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama. In addition, retired talk show host and author of the Fair tax books, Neal Boortz, is known to be both a friend and avid fan of the late novelist.

This news echoes words talk show host Dana Loesch stated at the opening of her speech at BlogCon 2013, in Dallas Texas. "Guys, go to the doctor and get yourself checked out. I am sick of burying my friends". Dana's words came just days after finding fellow conservative Chip Gerdes of Quincy, IL died of a sudden heart attack. Chip was a close associate and friend of the late Andrew Breitbart, who also died suddenly in early 2012 of a heart attack. Both were great men who are sorely missed.

Dana's words are wisdom. Vince Flynn may have discovered his cancer earlier, when treatment was more optimistic. Had that happened, his chances of surviving the disease would have been much greater. The same advice is true of other preventable and treatable ailments such as arterial sclerosis, high cholesterol, and heart disease.

My father urged me to read Vince's works for years. After retiring from the military, I found the latitude to start enjoying the Mitch Rapp novels. Coming from an intelligence background, I quickly suspended disbelief and was hooked. They are well worth your time. News of Mr. Flynn's passing is heartbreaking.

USSC Strikes AZ Voter ID So Cruz Files Amendment Bill

The US Supreme Court ruled against Arizona's voter ID law that required proof of citizenship be provided at the time of registering to vote. The high court ruled that Arizona's law attempted to preempt the federal Motor-Voter law.

The National Voter Registration Act of 1993, also known as the "Motor-Voter Law" requires a uniform federal registration form for all federal level elections such as US President, Vice President, and US Senators.

The Supreme Court decision reinforces a lower court opinion in the case of Arizona v The Inter-Tribal Council of Arizona. Both courts stated that Arizona can require additional proof of citizenship on its state level voter registration forms. However, the state cannot add those requirements to the federal registration forms.

Those federal forms require only a signatory affidavit (affirmation and attestation by checking a block and signing the form). Lying on that block and signing the form is both perjury and fraud in regards to the federal form. However, the US DoJ rarely proffers charges when this federal law is broke. Voter Integrity advocates feel that this practice amounts to voter fraud being committed with relative impunity.

The Supreme Court further opined that registering at state-level drivers' license testing and processing locations falls under the federal form. Their decision attaches the registration at a state agency to fall under federal jurisdiction because of the federal Motor-Voter law.

The court does uphold, however, that the state can deny registrations if there is reasonable suspicion that an applicant using the federal form is not a US citizen. The court asserts that there is no requirement to register every applicant.

Also, it is not all bad news for the Arizona law:

Arizona may, however, request anew that the EAC include such a requirement among the Federal Form’s state-specific instructions, and may seek judicial review of the EAC’s decision under the Administrative Procedure Act.
The EAC is the US Election Assistance Commission. Justice Scalia penned the majority opinion.

The Court decision was 7-2 with Justices Alito and Thomas comprising the dissenting opinion.   

Legislative Reactions  Call For Reform of Federal Voter Laws

In response, Senator Ted Cruz of Texas filed an amendment to the controversial Rubio-Schumer immigration bill. That amendment would, in effect, amend the Motor-Voter law with a federal requirement to provide proof of citizenship beyond just a signatory affidavit on federal and state voter registration forms.

The amendment is co-sponsored by Senator David Vitter of Louisiana. The Cruz-Vitter Amendment is predicated on a statement in Justice Alito's dissenting opinion, "I do not think that this is what Congress intended". In order to back Justice Alito's assertion, Senators Cruz and Vitter seek to fix the unintended consequence of the law.

The Cruz-Vitter Amendment is simple and straightforward in its text:

Section 6 of the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 (42 U.S.C. 1973gg-4) is amended by adding at the end the following new subsection:
‘‘(e) PROOF OF CITIZENSHIP .—Nothing in subsection (a) shall be construed to preempt any State law requiring evidence of citizenship in order to complete any requirement to register to vote in elections for Federal office.’’

The current Immigration Reform bill circulating the US Senate is already a point of contention. Most conservatives oppose the bill on the grounds that it does little to insure border security and port-of-entry reform. Those are seen as the first necessary steps to immigration reform. Others contend that the "path to citizenship" measures are far to lenient, amounting to another round of amnesty. The 1980s era immigration reform allowed amnesty as what was intended to be a "one-time-deal". Since, illegal immigration has drastically increased, indicating that illegals assumed "they did it once, they'll do it again, just wait it out" attitude. This current bill indicates their prediction was correct, and criminals will be rewarded for their crimes, rather than punished.

Further points of concern revolve around the applicability of Obamacare and the intentions to allow illegal immigrants access to subsides provided by already over-taxed tax payers in a depressed economy.

The addition of this amendment will likely sink the immigration bill debate further into a quagmire. That will amount to the bill not being passed, and this necessary change to the Motor-Voter law not being enacted.