Monday, September 30, 2013

The Last Time DC Turned Out The Lights

There is banter all across the world over a possible "government shutdown" if both houses of congress can't agree on something that Obama will sign.

The last such impasse came about 17 years ago. Newt Gingrich led the House, which held a Republican (albeit, not necessarily conservative) majority. Several times they pushed through a budget bill. Several times it was kicked back by the Senate. Eventually, bills passed both houses and went to Clinton's desk. Four times Clinton vetoed the bill.

The bill was able to pass with a majority of both houses, but not the 2/3 majority required to override a veto.

The media attempted to blame Newt Gingrich. In reality, the "government shutdown" was due to Clinton's veto. It was his fault. He never owned it. However, once he did, due to severe popular and political pressure, due to a couple of scandals from when he was the governor of Arkansas, eventually sign the bill, Clinton took credit for its positive effects. The biggest effects included the budgetary surpluses in his last two fiscal years.

Another political coattail ride Clinton took came out of the military. Clinton also signed an NDAA companion to that budget bill. It granted a series of raises in military enlisted pay. Those raises were intended to close the disparity between enlisted military salaries and their private sector equivalents. Those were orchestrated by Speaker Gingrich and were also vetoed several times by Clinton. But he took credit for the bills he opposed and was forced to stop blocking.

I remember the eve of that last "government shutdown". I remember them well. I also remember the first day of it.

The summer of 1995 I redeployed from Panama. Clinton had sent us there for two missions. The first was to deal with a few Cuban refugees that he diverted to the US-owned Canal Zone. Well, the Cubans decided to hold a "rock concert". In concert, they started throwing rocks at those on the humanitarian relief mission to help them. See, they received word that Clinton wasn't going to let most of them into the US. So, they decided to riot. We went there to quell the riot and maintain order until Clinton could figure out what to do with them.

Our original mission, however, was supposed to be to beef up security while they closed most of the US Military posts along the Canal-Zone in preparation to give the canal to Panama. Another great socialist, Jimmy Carter, had signed a treaty giving a canal we built and paid for away. We were there to help keep our end of the deal. The riots took place while we were on our way to Panama. So, we accepted our new orders and diverted to the refugee camps for a few months. Once that operation completed, we then still did the original mission. I will admit, we did have some fun.

Upon returning, we had replacements arrive. One of them was a guy named "Matt". We had quite a bit in common and quickly became friends. In fact, if I decided to write a book about crazy stuff Soldiers do, Matt and my exploits could take up a few chapters of hilarity.

Matt had a common law wife, so to speak. She moved to the Puget Sound area to be with him. Given our not-so-great pay back then, Matt, Patty (his "wife), and I split a 3 bedroom apartment. See, neither Matt nor I could stand barracks life. (It's loud and some idiot is always acting crazy enough to keep everybody awake, for one thing). A month or two later, our buddy "Rick" and his girlfriend moved into the apartment beneath ours. (Rick and I can also fill a chapter with our joint exploits.)

The days leading up to the "shutdown" we talked a lot about what it meant to us. Many of us lived almost month to month. Even a delayed paycheck would hurt. The three of us did a little research and found out that the military budget wasn't directly attached to the rest of the federal budget, per se. So, the rhetoric our of congress that the "shutdown" wouldn't affect military pay nor most military benefits seemed sound. Some DoD and DA Civilians might be affected, which could slow down some military services. But the Army would be "Rolling Along".

Naturally, we still didn't trust politicians. Most of them never served in the military. Most of them don't have any appreciation of military life or the sacrifices our families make. So, the general attitude towards politicians in our unit was that we didn't trust them.

That led to the "what if" talk Soldiers will do. Soldiers love the "what if" talks. "What if Batman put on kryptonite boxing gloves, would Superman be toast? Would Batman get to bang Wonder Woman?". "What if we shoot an AT-4 at an enemy fuel point, would it blow up or just spray diesel and mogas all over?". "If g-d were in the Army, what MOS would he be?".

Those of us who considered current events to be more than sorts scores had been paying attention to the news out of our nation's septic tank. We asked "What if they shut down, will we get paid?" (yes). "Will we be paid on time?" (maybe, maybe not). "If we don't get paid, do we still have to show up to work?".

That last question led to lots of typical infantry bravado-speak. "If I check my account and I'm not paid, f-k them, I ain't showing up until I get a paycheck. Our checks are for services rendered and time served. They owe me!". Anybody who has been in the military knows that if they screw up and pay you too much, they are very quick to take it back at the most inconvenient time. However, if the gov't owes you, it could be months before you see a partial payment.

Rick, Matt and I carpooled to work. It saved us gas money and helped keep all three of us usually early and honest. On the eve of the shutdown, we discussed it on the ride home.

Rick, in a sarcastic and jocular tone quietly stated "I don't know. I may show up. I might not. I'll let you know in the morning."

Matt made fun of those who said they wouldn't show up. "I like this stuff. I'm surprised I get paid to do it. I'd have nothing better to do anyway, so why not?". Matt had served in part of Desert Storm, while he was national guard, but had not been on any real deployment since, or as active duty.

I looked at the two of them. "I don't think we really have a choice. I mean, I took an oath. I'm pretty sure you guys took the same one. It doesn't say 'subject to receipt of a paycheck' in there. I don't think it's worth the trouble. I mean, they'll take the pay for sure if we don't show. At least if we show, they'll owe us the money, and we'll get it a year from now, right?".

They laughed.

That night, the weather moved in. All three of us were alerted to come in early. So we left as early as we could, knowing the 15 minute ride would probably take us over an hour. We it ti the gate just in time for them to "shut down post". When weather gets too bad to travel or train, they close all but one gate (for emergency purposes and essential personnel only). They shut down most of the roads on post (you can lose your driving privileges on post if caught driving). It took us another 30 minutes to get to the gate that would let us in. Then we had to convince them to do so.

Well, I asked Rick if he got paid. "I didn't get a chance to check. If I didn't, I may or may not go to work tomorrow."

I hadn't checked, yet, either. I didn't bother to ask Matt. I had some savings in the bank, enough to cover bills for a month or two, so I wasn't overly worried.

We got to our unit. The First Sergeant was there. I was the training NCO, so I immediately started my morning duties. He stopped me. "Take account of who is here, then go the f-k home. Post is closed. The Commander isn't showing up. I'm leaving right after you."

Rick checked on his guys. Matt did the same. They came to me to find out why we were the only off-post people who showed up. Technically, we all had barracks rooms, though. None of us were legally married nor of rank high enough to live off post. We had the commander's permission to do so. But we were technically still listed as living in the barracks. That's why we were called in. They needed 100% accountability of all barracks personnel to make sure nobody was trapped out in the blizzard. So they made us drive in it.

The next three days we spent snowed into our apartments. I drove in for about one hour on day three to help the First Sergeant with something. Other than that, we were considered "non-essential personnel".

This was in the days before online banking. You could check your balance at an ATM machine, or at your bank, in person. But there was no way to check from home. Because of the blizzard, most people could not make it out to check. The bank on post was closed due to the weather, as well.

When we finally were able to return to work, the jokes flew. According to some, the powers that be (g-ds, etc) sent the blizzard so we wouldn't have to work until our paychecks made it into the bank. The irony is that Matt, Rick and I did check an ATM on the way home that first day. Yes, we had, in fact, been paid, on time.

All in all, the shutdown did not affect our training. It did not affect our pay. Our lives as Soldiers continued. Eventually, congress rammed the budget down Clinton's throat. Meanwhile, we never skipped a beat and we were still promptly compensated.

In the end, our country was better off for it for the next few years. That, and I gained insight, experience, and a story to share.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Texas Gets S&P's Highest Credit Rating

Yesterday, Standard and Poor issued a statement revising the credit rating of the Republic of Texas. The state's credit rating is at the highest level S&P grants (AAA), "based primarily on its budgetary and cash management discipline, which allowed the state to preserve a strong level of reserves throughout the Great Recession," according to S&P's report (link requires registration). Meanwhile, the US Government's credit rating has dropped more than once over the past 4 years.

Texas must be doing something correct. Business in Texas is booming while other states, like Michigan and Illinois, continue to suffer. Texas has no state level income tax. The corporate taxes and state level payroll taxes are among the lowest in the country. Yet businesses like X-Cor are flocking to Texas from states such as California.

S&P's report on Texas stated the following among their reasons for the increased rating:
  • Strong revenue forecasting and cash management practices, including comprehensive monthly revenue and expenditure cash monitoring and forecasts, as well as a willingness to maintain strong liquidity to meet its constitutionally defined priorities, including the repayment of debt service;
  • Low overall net debt and below-average unfunded retirement liabilities; and
  • Potential long-term budgetary pressures, which are primarily related to the growing proportion of school revenues Texas is required to fund, as well as insufficient new sources of recurring dedicated tax revenues to support the increased education funding.
Riding the state's good-credit coattails, the following subordinate accounts will also see increased favorable credit ratings in the near future, according to S&P:
  • Texas Water Development Board;
  • Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board;
  • Texas Transportation Commission;
  • Texas Public Finance Authority;
  • Texas Veterans Land Board.

In reaction to S&P's announcement, Texas Governor Rick Perry issued the following statement:

"S&P's decision to raise Texas' credit rating to AAA is no accident, but further proof that the Texas model of conservative fiscal discipline is a key element of our strong economy, and a stark contrast to the out-of-control spending and rising debt ceilings of Washington, D.C. In Texas, we adhere to the powerful combination of keeping taxes low and government spending in check, ensuring Texas remains the best place in the country to live, work, raise a family and build a business."
In Washington, the US Senate has failed to pass a budget since the FY09 one passed in 2008, while President George W. Bush was still in office. Even when the Democratic Party controlled the majority in both houses of congress, they failed to pass a budget. Instead  they fight over a continuing resolution to maintain the FY09 budget with increases to spending, including spending on the so-named "Obamacare" law that the US cannot afford and the majority of US citizens do not want. 

Meanwhile, for the 7th time in 5 years, Obama has demanded that congress raise the federal credit limit. The US is already nearly $17T in debt, representing the highest percentage of GDP in history. In short, the US Government already owes more than it can afford to pay. Yet they continue to spend money of frivolous things such as studies of shrimp on treadmills and doomed businesses such as Solyndra. The US Constitution does not allow federal revenue to be invested in private businesses in the first place.

The US Government's credit rating remains a AA+ for long term credit and AA- for short term. These are still viewed as positive and stable ratings. However, some indicators within the (re)insruance securities market may alter those ratings (potentially downward) once Obamacare is fully implemented.

The City of Detroit is the shining example of where the federal Government's current economic and fiscal policies are headed. Their credit rating was dropped to a "C with negative outlook", according to S&P and Global Credit.

Perhaps, the State of Texas is the example they should be following, instead, since, according to S&P, Texas is headed in the correct and responsible direction.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Con Man Gets 40 for Stealing From Elderly

The 380th Texas District Court sentenced Robert Joseph Mangiafico, Jr. to 40 years in prison for stealing over $655,000.00 from elderly women. Justice Benjamin Smith handed down the sentence after Mangiafico plead guilty to four of the counts against him. The four confidence schemes he admitted to conducting resulted in the theft of over $450,000.00 from four elderly women.

The hearing lasted over two days and involved just the sentencing portions.

Mangiafico was named in an indictment of Security Financial Services, LLC owned by Thomas Grimshaw. Both were indicted by a grand jury in 2011 on charges of theft, fraud, money laundering, and organized crime. 

The men convinced elderly women to liquidate legitimate securities in order to buy fraudulent ones. Their scheme ran from at least 2007-08. In 2009, Grimshaw lost his license to sell financial securities in '09 when allegations first emerged.

Mangiafico never had a license to sell securities, insurance, or any form of annuity. Previously, Mangiafico had several other run-ins with the law including four convictions for theft and at least one DUI conviction. Allegedly, he may have also committed perjury and given false statements to police officers.

This conviction is the latest in a string of investigations and prosecutions of security and financial fraud that the Texas Securities Board (TSB) actively pursued. Other major investigations and prosecutions from recent months include a 25-year state sentence for a man who stole money from an elderly woman he convinced to invest in non-existent oil and gas wells.

In another win for the TSB's anti-fraud team, Sami A. London, also known as Sami Mahomad, was found guilty of securities fraud. He was selling fake oil futures. He sold the securities for an oil project, but spent the money his victims invested on personal items, instead. He was sentenced to 10 years, under delayed adjudication (probation) and restitution. London's first oil and gas company, Imperial Resources, LLC, went bankrupt in 2007. He never revealed that bankruptcy to his potential investors, which violates full-disclosure laws as well.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

True The Vote Jumps To Defense of Texas

On Sept 20th, True The Vote won their 3 year long battle for NPO 501(c)(3) status. The US Dept. of Justice and the Internal Revenue Service immediately filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit True The Vote filed against them.

Just a few days later, True The Vote has announced it is jumping to the defense of the Republic of Texas. During the last legislative cycle, Texas passed several voter integrity measures to include requirements for government-issued picture identification cards to register to vote and to file a ballot. The state law includes measures to provide the necessary identification without any costs of service fees to the applicants. That avoids any allegations of a "poll tax".

“The Holder Justice Department has made clear its litigation against Texas will serve as a warning that other states should not pursue election integrity measures – True the Vote stands ready to fight their effort to dilute voters’ rights.” ~True the Vote President Catherine Engelbrecht
True The Vote filed this motion to intervene and inform/educate on the need for the Texas voter integrity laws.

In this case, Plaintiff asks the Court to enjoin the State of Texas from continuing toenforce Senate Bill 14, the state’s requirement that registered voters establish they arewho they say they are before they cast a ballot by means of a variety of state approved identification documents. 

Plaintiff seeks this relief on the grounds requiring  that voters establish identity through various documents violates Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act (42 U.S.C. § 1973), Section 12(d) of the Voting Rights Act, and violates rights contained in the Fourteenth Amendment and Fifteenth Amendment. 

Proposed Intervener respectfully submits that Plaintiff is wrong and that Plaintiff lacks standing to assert any constitutional claims. Plaintiff also notably seeks to re-impose federal mandates on the entire state of Texas which the Supreme Court recently invalidated as unconstitutional in Shelby County v. Holder  133 S. Ct. 2612 (2013) under Section 3 of the Voting Rights Act.

AG Eric Holder dislikes voter integrity laws. Holder filed a suit against Arizona for their voter integrity reforms. The suit lost most of the counts, but won one in regards to the use of federal registration forms. The State of Arizona was told any registrant using the federal form does not have to show ID or prove citizenship. The form asks for only a signed affidavit under penalty of perjury, cases of which are seldom prosecuted.

So, Holder set his sights on Texas. He is also a close associate of Rep. Sheila Jackson-Lee (D-Houston-TX). It was one of Lee's past elections that spawned True The Vote in the first place. Smelling something fishy, the founders of True The Vote conducted an independent audit and investigation of the ballots. They found thousands of suspicious ballots. In response to this and several alleged cases of voter fraud and intimidation since, Texas passed several laws including SB14. Eric Holder contends that SB 14 and the other Texas voter integrity reform laws are "discriminatory", according to the tort filed against Texas.

True the Vote is non-partisan. They do not serve any political party. Their mission is to help insure that elections are fair and legal. Their idea is to work towards making sure votes have their proper weight and value without being devalued through ballot-stuffing, ballot fixing/forging, and voter fraud.

Those who claim that voter fraud is a thing of the past were not paying attention when unions in Wisconsin bussed in Michigan residents to vote in the Wisconsin recall elections. These people were not Wisconsin residents. The unions hoped to flood the ballot boxes with same-day registrations. Perhaps they wanted to stuff the ballot boxes. Perhaps they sought to invalidate the election that Governor Scott Walker was destined to win. In any case, the attempted fraud was blatant.

Most attempts are less blatant and obvious. People ineligible to vote acquire fraudulent identification, usually through identity theft. They vote, usually multiple times, illegally, using other people's names. Through mail-in early voting ballots, some will gather up the ballots of registered voters and fill in the bubbles for them. They pick who they want, not who the voter wanted to vote for.

The list of tactics goes on. Dead people somehow vote, many times because the death certificates were not filed before the deadline to clean voter registration rolls. Voters are registered on the PEVL, but another address, to one of the criminals, replaces theirs on the form. The voter never gets the ballot, but somehow has a vote cast in their name.

True the Vote educates people on how voter fraud is pulled off and how it affects them. They lobby for legislation meant to mitigate and deter voter fraud. These measures are called 'Voter Integrity" measures.

Votes have power. According to the US Constitution (and the decision in the US Supreme Court decision on Bush v Gore), citizens do not have a right to vote, directly, for US President. They vote for representatives, electors, who vote for them, traditionally. These days, many states have changed to a popular vote means of determining the electoral votes in the presidential elections, though. The US Constitution set up the election process for US Representatives to be by popular vote of eligible voters in each congressional district. An Amendment to the US Constitution changes the selection of US Senators to the same popular vote in a state-wide election process. These are the people who legislate (create) laws and run the federal budget.

On the local level, elections determine who will have the responsibility to govern the local school districts. They determine who will legislate local ordinances and state laws. The list goes on. Ballot stuffing, voter fraud, and votes cast by non-citizens corrupt the process. This process is considered "democratic in nature". It seems highly suspicious that the so-named "Democratic" party would prefer corruption of such a process that determines the elected representatives in our constitutionally-mandated republican form of government. Perhaps these "democrats" do not really like any democratic process?

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Non Sibi Sed Patriae - Sen. Cruz

While this is penned, Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) is conducting a filibuster on the vote for cloture on the House's Continuing Resolution that continues the FY09 budget yet cuts funding of Obamacare. 

Reid's call for cloture is an effort to close all debate over the CR. It is a proposal to end any amendments except his single amendment to negate the provisions of the House's CR that cuts that funding. It is a call to avoid proper procedures in the Senate in order to, it seems, order the citizens of this country to obey Barack Obama as though he were a dictator.  

Sen. Cruz says "no". His speech is an effort to incite US Senators to do their jobs and listen to their constituents. 

During this now 18+ hour long speech, Sen. Cruz made several profound statements. Among them was one to the effect that his actions should not be sensationalized into headlines. He asked, instead, that the damage the PPACA does to the citizens of this country be the headline. 

In short, the spirit of Cruz's filibuster is this: Non Sibi Sed Patriae... Not for self, but for Country. 

Non Sibi Sed Patriae

It is a spirit that those of us who have made oaths to serve the people of this nation know well. Those who do not embrace this motto do no serve the citizens of this country. They serve their cabals. They serve their greed. They serve their lust for power. They do not serve the country. 

Those who ascribe to Ayn Rand's egoism and objectivism may question "what's the difference?". If asking that question, they didn't understand Rand's philosophy. 

It is this simple. Those who do not embrace the spirit of Non Sibi Sed Patriae are not really acting in their own self-interests. They are enslaved by their addictions to power. The policies they champion, such as the PPACA, do not serve them. They do not serve the people. They serve the leviathan. If these policies served them, they would, like Senator Rand Paul suggested, sign up for the programs. They would be first in line for the exchanges. However, they exempted themselves from it. That exemption is the true service to self. It is what is best for them, as individuals. It is what is best for their family members. 

What is best for the one is what is best for all. That is the idea behind egoism and objectivism. Obamacare is not good for the individual. Even socialist/collectivist groups such as the Teamsters see the damage this bill causes. It is harming their individual members. 

Non Sibi Sed Patriae

When a soldier goes to war, he does so with this spirit. He fights to win, to survive, to aid his buddy to his left, right, front, back, to win, to survive. Why? Because his survival and victory is America's. His self-interest IS the best interest of the country. Should he fall so his brother-in-arms live and achieve victory, it was for that brother. It was for that other "self". It was for country. 

Non Sibi Sed Patriae  becomes Si Vis Pacem, Para Bellum

The two are inseparable. 

If something is so great it is worth keeping, it is worth fighting for. Our kids are worth fighting for. Our spouses are worth fighting for. Our land is worth fighting for. It's ours. We were blessed with it. We earned it. Nothing worth having is easy. That's the way the world works. It makes us appreciate what we earned. 

If you want to keep it, you have to be prepared to defend it. To defend it, you have to be ready to fight. If others notice you are ready to fight, you become a hard target. They are less likely to try to take it from you, by force. They have to ask how hard they are willing to fight in order to steal it from you. 

Si Vis Pacem, Para Bellum

If you want peace, prepare for war. 

Obamacare is an effort to take your inalienable, universal, individual rights away. It is an effort to place all of them under the whims of a government bureaucracy. 

They will have permission to run your life for you. They will make the decisions on what healthcare you receive, form whom, and to what extent. No longer will you have the choice, the vote. You will not have the option to pay for better care or to forgo it. You will have to pay for services that you may not be allowed to use. This is your very life the bill seeks to control. You want to smoke? No... that's a fine. You want a beer? No, that is bad for you. You want to eat fried potatoes? No, too greasy. If you do, you won't be allowed an angioplasty, even if you could have afforded it on your own before Obamacare. The new taxes will make it no longer affordable. The IRS will choose what you are allowed to pay for. 

They steal your liberty. You no longer have your choice of coverage. Many healthcare providers are leaving the industry, further reducing options. You are no longer free to choose what healthcare you want to afford.

It steals your pursuit of happiness. If you know where that phrase originates, you know that it refers to the right to work and create. It refers to the right to the fruits of your efforts and the consequences, be they gain or loss. It refers to, as John Locke phrased it, property. That property is your time. That property is your sweat. It is your intellectual effort. It is your physical effort. It is your intellectual creations. It is the physical products of your efforts or service. It is the fruits of commerce from trading or investing these properties. It is your right to earn, on your own merits, at fair market value. 

Obamacare steals that by forcing you to buy a product. It does so by telling you what product/brand you have to buy. It does so by punishing you if you do not do what you are told. Next, the government will be telling kindergarteners "you must be a cariologist, and you a pediatrician, and you a nurse, and you a librarian, and you a urologist because Obamacare needs new doctors and specialists. No, you cannot be a fireman, a cowboy, a Solider, or an engineer." 

Wake up. Obama and his cronies, like Harry Reid, have declared war on America. No, it isn't a war of bullets and bombs. It is a war of policy and economics. It is a war of ideology and power. If you love having power and control over your own decisions, your own life, your own choice, your own thoughts, and your own possessions (and your kids' future rights to theirs), then Obama has declared war on you. 

If you want to keep them, you must defend them. You must defend them with your vote. You must defend them with your wallets (by keeping what is in there, in there). You must defend them by firing emails and phone calls to your Representatives and Senators telling them to end Obamacare. You must shoot your voice and make DC listen. That is their job. Your taxes pay them. You are their boss, not the other way around. 

Si Vis Pacem, Para Bellum. It's time to fight the war of information and wills. Fight. 

Do so.

Non Sibi Sed Patriae 

Not just for yourself, but for your kids, for your country, for our nation's future.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Are DoJ & IRS Afraid of True The Vote?

Three years after applying for tax-exempt status, True the Vote has been granted their 501(c)(3) status. They were among the many NPOs that were labeled as "right-wing political organizations" that the IRS targeted with additional investigations, delaying or denying tax exempt status.

“We are pleased and relieved that the IRS and the DOJ are finally doing what should have been done three years ago, which is to recognize TTV as a charitable and educational organization, which we have always been and will continue to be,” said True the Vote President Catherine Engelbrecht. 

True the Vote is a non-profit organization. Their mission has political and electoral ramifications, but is apolitical in nature. They seek to expose voter fraud and educate citizens in how to protect their votes so that they count, properly, legally, and effectively.

True the Vote has advocated legislation around the country. Much of this legislation concerns so-called "Voter ID laws" and other reforms for mail-in ballot procedures. They also advocate for reforms in voter registration policies in order to reduce or mitigate voter fraud and increase voter integrity. These measures have never been in support of any political party or candidate. They do not endorse any candidate.

True the Vote joined many other organizations is filing federal lawsuits against the IRS and its affiliates for targeting the organization and its members. Then the US Dept. of Justice began investigating True The Vote for voter intimidation and election tampering. This came in conjunction with the AG Holder's announcement that he is seeking charges to overturn Voter ID and other voter integrity laws passed in states such as Arizona and True The Vote's HQ state, Texas.

On Sept 20th, True The Vote was unofficially informed their status was granted. The US DoJ and the IRS filed for dismissal of True the Vote's lawsuit against the federal agencies. Why?

The motion for dismissal claims the suits are "moot" because True the Vote has, in fact, garnered tax exempt status. That opens the question of the DoJ and IRS's motives. Did they grant the status to avoid the lawsuit? Did they fear the outcome of that suit? Did they fear the sort of investigation against the IRS and the DoJ for targeting groups they view as political opposition? What are they hiding?

True The Vote does not intend to drop the suit.

Cleta Mitchell, lead counsel in the litigation, and a partner at Foley & Lardner, LLP in Washington, DC, responded to the DOJ filings by noting, “While we are glad the IRS has realized TTV’s tax exempt status should be granted and is now moving to rectify its failure to do sooner, this case is far from moot. There are still many questions to be answered, such as:
  • When is the IRS going to actually issue its letter granting tax exempt status to True the Vote?
  • What about the costs and damages incurred by True the Vote for the past three years while the IRS unlawfully delayed issuing the letter of recognition? 
  • What about all of the confidential and proprietary information sought and demanded from True the Vote that the Treasury Inspector General has stated was not necessary for determining True the Vote’s eligibility for exempt status, and which is now apparently going to be made public? 
  • What about the violation of True the Vote’s constitutional rights by the IRS and its agents and employees during the course of these last 3 years?

With the DoJ attempting to ramp up its fight against Texas's new voter integrity laws, True the Vote will, likely, be involved in assisting the defense of those laws. One of those laws restricts how many absentee and mail-in ballots one person may deliver. That is an attempt to reduce mass-ballot tampering. Such tampering members of True The Vote suspects may have occurred in one of the past elections of Rep. Sheila Jackson-Lee, D-Houston-TX. Another of those laws requires photo identification to vote. The same bill offers free photo-identification to registered voters who need such proof. The price (free) of the IDs negates any allegation of a "poll tax". Holder has stated he intends to fight to get these laws overturned.

The recent "bad press" against the IRS for its targeting may be seen as a hindrance to Holder's suits against Texas, given True The Vote's advocacy for these laws.

Monday, September 23, 2013

The Farm Bill Fiasco

The House recently passed "The Farm Bill". It allegedly supplies subsidies to farmers who supply our national food supply. However, the fact remains that the largest subsidy that falls under the US Dept. of Agriculture's budget has little to nothing to do with farming. It is also the more controversial portion of the "Farm Bill":  the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).

SNAP is also known as "food stamps", after the old-fashioned coupons given out for government-bought food. These days, SNAP is doled out through a sort of debit-card system known as an "EBT". The EBT was established to lower the stigma of using "food stamps". It has also opened the program to increased fraud and abuse.

That same fraud and abuse was what reforms during the Reagan Administration sought to reduce. Now, because of EBT payments being integrated with standard debit and credit card swipe machines, the fraud has escalated far beyond where it was in the early 1980s.

The federal SNAP funds far exceed any farming subsidies in the so-called "farm bill".

Last Thursday, the US House voted to continue many of the farming subsidies while reducing SNAP funding by approximately $39B during FY14. It is a less than 10% cut.

On the right, many claim the cut is far from enough. the cuts won't be enough to motivate people to return to work or to better their stations. With an increasing number of citizens more and more dependent upon the government, the right argues, liberty and personal responsibility are stripped. When those are stripped, so is the American Dream of self-sufficiency (liberty), success and prosperity (pursuit of happiness), and life being one's own (not enslaved to the wills and whims of another).

Meanwhile, many on the left, argue that the cuts to SNAP are stealing food from your children.

Let's examine that. First of all, a child's food should be earned by his parents. If his parents fail to do so, they should be help accountable. SNAP steals food from those who earned it by taxing away what they lawfully and rightfully earned. That is greed and larceny. Greed is no keeping what you earn. Greed is acting on coveting what somebody else earned.

SNAP kills charity. No logical and compassionate adult will argue that charity is a bad thing. It is moral. That is something the left and the right agree upon. However, many on the left believe that using force to redistribute what one has rightfully earned to those who failed to earn is "charity". It isn't. Charity is a function of free will. If the charitable act is not done willingly, it is not free will. It is extortion, theft, fraud, and immoral.

SNAP kills these acts of kindness by reducing what compassionate people have available to consider giving. When, after taxes, you have just enough to feed your family, pay the mortgage, and pay for fuels necessary to live (transportation, heating, cooking, etc.), there isn't enough left to give, freely, without taking from the mouths of your own kids.

So, reducing SNAP does not take food from your kids' mouths. It helps keep the food there, in the hands of those who earned it. Anything in excess can be donated.

Many on the left scream their heads off that the right attempts to "legislate morality" with many states banning same-sex marriage and restricting abortions to 20 weeks of gestation. Perhaps they are correct. However, it's a fact that many children are capable of surviving outside the womb at 20 weeks of gestation, especially with modern science. Science, the religion that the atheist left lauds over any deity. That same "religion" supports these abortion restrictions. So do those calling for better facilities at the abortion clinics. That isn't "morality". It's science and common sense. 

The same-sex marriage issue is one that has gone for centuries and will continue. It is up to the general (majority) society of each state to determine their laws. The only detail that needs to be addressed goes back to Loving v. Virginia. A marriage in one state needs to be accepted as legal in all states. Beyond that, it is a state by state right to issue marriage licenses in accordance with the state's own cultural beliefs. Sorry, kids, marriage is not a religious condition in our country. The First Amendment saw to that when it called for a ban of any state-sponsored religion. That being said, the left may be correct in their allegations regarding same-sex marriage. Again, the rules are for each state to determine for themselves.

However, it is highly hypocritical for the left to advocate for pilfering and extortion from those who work and earn in order to feed the kids of those too irresponsible to provide for themselves or their kids.

The House did not vote to take food out of your kids' mouths. They voted to stop taking it out of your kids' mouths, if you earned it. They voted to steal less from the citizens.

What is the story of Robin Hood?

A lesser lord returned home from the crusades. He found that the prince had increased taxes in the name of his brother, the king, who was fighting the war. The prince claimed the increases were for the war effort. Those fighting the war didn't see a penny. It was being redistributed to the nobles who supported John, to a bloated bureaucracy, and to those aristocrats poised to make John richer.

Robyn stood up for his people and against the unfair taxation. So John ordered Robyn stripped of his family's land (100% tax rate). Was the land given to the poor people? No, it was given to another nobleman, one who supported John's extortionist methods.

So, Robyn joined the freedom fighters. He looted the tax collectors and returned the unlawfully garnered "taxes" back to those who earned it. Once those people got their money, goods, and food back, they had enough to pay tithes to the church and donate food and goods to those in need.

Well, 80% of the funding collected for "food stamps" goes into the pockets of bureaucrats and con-artists. Imagine if the people who earned it were to give it directly to those in need. The amount of good would increase by nearly 400% if the government got out of the way.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Budget CR has 2 Big Hurdles To Go

The US House, in a bipartisan effort, passed a Continuing Resolution (CR) that funds the government for three months, but cuts funding for many Obamacare programs.

In a 230-189 vote, the house passed the bill that extends the current budget, funding government activities and programs through until January 2014. The FY13 budget expires at midnight Oct 1, '13. This resolution is a means to keep the government working until a budget can be passed.

Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) released this statement after receiving the news:

“Today, the House of Representatives did what Washington pundits only a few weeks ago said was impossible: a strong bipartisan majority voted to defund Obamacare. This is a victory for House conservatives, and it is a victory for Speaker Boehner and Republican leadership.

“The American people overwhelmingly oppose Obamacare — a program which is killing jobs, dragging down the economy, and harming the most vulnerable among us. They deserve a fight — and House Republicans are leading that charge.

“But the House was just step one. Step two is the Senate, where all accounts suggest Harry Reid plans to use procedural gimmicks to try to add funding back in for Obamacare.

“If Reid pursues this plan — if he insists on using a 50-vote threshold to fund Obamacare with a partisan vote of only Democrats — then I hope that every Senate Republican will stand together and oppose cloture on the bill in order to keep the House bill intact and not let Harry Reid add Obamacare funding back in.

"Now is a time for party unity; Senate Republicans should stand side-by-side with courageous House Republicans.

“The fight to save America from Obamacare is just beginning — it may well go back and forth from the House and Senate several times — and a united Republican front means that Harry Reid and the President cannot ignore the American people.”

However, congress has failed to pass and Obama has failed to enact a budget since Jan. 20, 2009. The FY09 budget was passed while Bush was still in office. No budget has been passed since. Each year, similar CRs have been passed to "kick" the proverbial federal budget "can down the road". This happened even during '09 and '10 when the Democratic party held a super-majority in both houses of congress. In addition, each year, Congress has passed an NDAA (National Defense Authorization Act) that added the national defense budget to other annual legislation concerning the military. The US Constitution requires congress to pass a military budget biannually.

The US House was the first of three major hurdles for the CR. It was also the easiest.

During the August Recess, many representatives and senators conducted meetings with constituents. Those who did not saw their offices flooded with emails, phone calls, and direct mailings. The message was clear. At least 51% of the people want the PPACA unfunded and, at least, delayed. Many representatives who opposed legislation that would cut the funding for most of the major programs and provisions of the law changed their minds. Many of them are already looking at their re-election campaigns which are already starting. The elections will take place in November 2014, more than a year from now.

The House was the easy obstacle. The US Senate will prove more difficult.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who tends to do Vice President Biden's job of leading the Senate these days, has declared the Senate will not pass this CR. He has declared it "Dead, dead, dead" on arrival. Meanwhile, several GOP Senators are facing potentially career-ending primary elections in 2014. Why? Because their constituents feel betrayed over their inaction on cutting funding on Obamacare and repealing it.

Still others, more aligned with the grass roots organizations who supported their elections, such as Senators Ted Cruz and Mike Lee, are fighting hard to pass this CR in the Senate. With the fierce opposition from the Democrat majority and seeming apathy or compliance from more entrenched insiders such as Lindsey Graham and John McCain, it will be a hard battle. Political analysts have predicted the CR will pass with amendments that cancel the cuts to the PPACA. Should that happen, the bill will return to the House for reconciliation. After a defeat in the Senate and with another budgetary cliff only inches away, fears are the House will balk and pass the Senate's changes.

Even should the CR pass both houses, as is, and retain the cuts to the PPACA, Obama has already declared he will immediately veto the CR. At that point, it will take 2/3 of each house to pass his veto. The measure may pass the House with a 2/3 majority. It will not pass the Senate, though. The only answer is some form of compromise with Obama. There are several deals Obama could make that include options for Syria, restrictions on coal, wasting taxpayer money on "green energy" scams, repealing the 22nd Amendment, passing unconstitutional infringements on the 2nd Amendment, and many others. All of these deals would be extremely harmful to the nation. The question would be if Obamacare is a greater threat to our nation and our economic future. 

Castro & Cronies My Have Cut Themselves

San Antonio's Anti-Discrimination Ordinance has come under a lot of fire and heated debate through and since its passing. The repercussions continue as several elected officials in the city face ramifications including potential recall elections.

The ordinance that passed contained some key revisions prior to its final version. Yet, some portions of the ordinance may become a double-edged sword that those who opposed the ordinance may use against its proponents.

The controversial ordinance is not yet publicly available through the company contracted to publish San Antonio's official ordinances online. Municode still has the older version of the city ordinances listed under "current", and does not yet contain the Article X portion of Part II Chapter 2 that the ordinance created.The only official document currently available is a "fact sheet" circulated by the ordinances supporters within the city government.

Several versions of the draft proposal are still circulating, however, stirring further controversy. One version contains the following text under section 2-552 of Part II (code) chapter 2 (administration):

(b)     Prior Discriminatory Acts.

         No person shall be appointed to a position if the City Council finds that such person has, prior to such proposed appointment, engaged in discrimination or demonstrated a bias, by word or deed, against any person, group or organization on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, veteran status, age, or handicapdisability.

(c)     Discrimination by Appointed Officials – Malfeasance.
        (1)  No appointed official or member of a board or commission shall engage in discrimination or demonstrate a bias, by word or deed, against any person, group of persons, or organization on the basis ofrace, color, religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, veteran status, age or handicapdisability, while serving in such public position.

      (2)  Violation of this standard shall be considered malfeasance in office, and the City Council shall be authorized to take action as provided by law to remove the offending person from office.

Another version of the draft removed paragraph (b). It revises paragraph (c) to read any act by "word or deed" while "actively serving in office". If this second version is the one that passed, it would make perfect sense. Under the original paragraph (b), Julian Castro and many members of the city council would be subject to immediate removal from office. So would several of their appointees.

Julian Castro has a very strong past affiliation with La Raza, an organization that seeks to make the Southwestern States from Texas to California part of Mexico. The group has made several attacks against non-Hispanic and non-Latino races. Castro's mother was rather high in the organization. Julian and his twin brother have both attended and participated in La Raza events. Castro has appointed La Raza members to various city offices.

Furthermore, under paragraph (c), if Castro received any campaign assistance from La Raza or made appearances at any of their events since taking office, he is in violation of the ordinance.

Considering the final, passed, effective version of the ordinance is not yet available to the public, it's unknown which version passed. It is highly likely that the city council, seeing the potential double-edged sword swinging back towards their careers, cut it.

The double-edged rule is one that cautions policy makers and legislators to be wary of what they enact lest those actions be used against them should an opposing party gain control. But this rule of politics is not the last of the woes for the ordinance's proponents.

Grass roots organizations within San Antonio are circulating petitions to recall Julian Castro and his allies on the City Council. The ordinance is a major catalyst for the efforts.

Members of the organizations do not oppose anti-discrimination laws. They purport that the new ordinance is discriminatory against certain religious beliefs. The First Amendment to the US Constitution prohibits the federal government (and any local or state government) from establishing an official religion. That includes secularism and atheism. Prohibiting somebody from political office, or denying them a business license, because they have strong religious convictions is picking a religion of secularism or atheism, violating the second portion of that clause. That second part of the religion clause makes it illegal to restrict any tasteful,  free, public practice of any religion, be it Christianity, Judaism, Druidry, Islam, or Atheism.

The law also infringes upon private property rights. Julian Castro has demonstrated a lack of respect of those rights, in the past. For example, he lobbied to have certain private lands confiscated and amended/annexed to the San Antonio Mission National Park.  This ordinance seeks to tell private business owners whom they can and cannot serve. They should be allowed to service the customers of their choice and let the market decide if any exclusionary practices make or break their businesses. Those businesses are, after all, their private property.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Fix The Federal Fiscal Fiasco

While spin-doctors get to work on the Navy Yard Shooting, infringing on the Second Amendment, covering up the terrorist attack in Libya, and denying that helping Al-Q'aeda backed Syrian Rebels is a form of aiding the enemy; our economy is still screwed up.

The simple reason is too much government. Too much government in terms of regulations and red-tape has gotten in the way of the free market, eliminating competition, and wasting tax dollars. Too much government is stealing what citizens have rightfully earned to support programs that give 20% of the take to those who "need" and wasting the other 80% on a bloated bureaucracy that doesn't deserve it.

More homes these days are being bought "cash", about 30%. That means fewer mortgage loans. That seems good to those consumers who are forgoing the debt. But that is bad for banking. They don't make any interest off of mortgages, then. That means the common citizen isn't getting interest from checking accounts, savings accounts, CDs, money market accounts, etc. Instead, those who have enough stuffed in their mattresses are risking it in an uncertain stock market. So, the finance indices like the Dow and NASDAQ are reporting strong numbers. That doesn't mean anybody is profiting, other than the stockbrokers.

Meanwhile, we have another "fiscal cliff" debate headed our way. We have another argument over credit limits already emerging. We haven't had a budget passed since 2008, when Bush was still in office. So what is the "fix"? Name-calling, rhetoric, and lies being told to gullible citizens.

Obama made a claim that, in our nation's entire history, congress (or a party within) has never held the budget "hostage" over a "non-budget issue". he doubled down on that claim stating the same over the debt ceiling debate. Then again, to Obama, our nation didn't exist before January 20, 2009. Such a tactic was employed by progressive Democrats in 1953, for one example. There have been several others since.  In short, Obama lied.

Obama's claim that the attempts to remove funding from the PPACA are a form of legislative extortion. He also claims that the PPACA has nothing to do with the federal budget, the debt ceiling, or anything within government that would require funding. He may want to actually read the law. It is embedded within the budget simply because it is, legally, a tax. It sets up government programs and expands federal bureaucracy, which requires funding (a budget) to operate. It is deeply entrenched in the budget. That scares him.

The PPACA will increase individual costs. It mandates citizens purchase something or pay a tax. Either way, it means less in the pockets of citizens. It also adds taxes to "medical supplies" including exercise equipment and "stress management tools" like fishing tackle.

Next, Obama's minions in the unions have taken up his call for a "living wage". In January, Obama called for an increase in minimum wage. Somehow that got distorted into unskilled laborers in the fast food industry protesting for $15 an hour. Similar cries have gone out towards Walmart as well. What these high school dropouts fail to understand is basic economics. If their wages double, so do the costs of the products they make. Demand will fall. People will be fired. Stores will close. Unemployment will rise. Basic commodities like a loaf of bread will be unaffordable until the cost of living reaches symbiosis with inflation.

Then again, the number of people (including illegal aliens) on SNAP (Food Stamps) continues to rise. When a Big Mac costs $9 for just the sandwich, that will eat up those EBT funds rapidly. More people will be living in poverty. Yet, the rhetoric over a potential $4B cut in SNAP funding has the progressives already scraping to increase addiction to unearned "entitlement". Let us not forget that there are Starbucks, etc. that accept EBT cards for a luxury vice item such as a double-shot latte with vanilla. A better solution would be those 5lb blocks of orange wax labeled as "cheese" from the early 80s. 

Perhaps many of those people would gladly work a better-paying, skilled job if one were available. Blackberry just announced it is cutting its number of employees across the board. Other companies, because of the PPACA, have shifted positions to part-time, or cut back their labor force and production. Cutting production decreases supply, increasing prices, by the way. The U3 unemployment rate has dropped only because people have given up even trying to find a job. It's more cost effective to take those government handouts that are funded through Prince "John" Obama and the Sheriff of Nottingham (the IRS). Pay no attention to the fact that $1 in taxes is supplying $0.20  to the "needy". 

To meet our nation's debt and to pay for the necessary functions of the federal government does require some revenue. The question is simple. Is it better to sell 10 widgets to 10 people at $1000 each or to sell 10000 widgets to 10000 people at $10 each? Imagine 80% overhead. The second option earns a lot more. That's the same concept as a tax base versus a tax rate. The larger base gets more revenue at a lower per capita cost. Well, when you count so much on income (and payroll) taxes, fewer people working means a lower base, lower overall revenue. The answer is the government needs to get out of the way of business and allow the market to correct. Increasing regulations and taxes does the exact opposite. It shrinks the base.

The Federal Reserve just punctuated the bad news by revising its predictions for the rest of 2013 and for 2014. Our Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is set to grow at only 2%. Inflation is above 4%. That leaves a 2% deficit. That translates to less average per capita income. In other words, less money for the government to tax, therefore even less government revenue. The Fed also predicts a drop in the U3. What they fail to admit is that this drop in unemployment will be the most likely result of a diminishing and disappearing workforce.

Meanwhile, federal spending as a percentage of GDP is high. It is unsafely high. It is at bankruptcy levels. In other words, our nation is in debt and will be making less than it will spend in the next 18 months, at least.

Back to the legislative arguments, Obama wants his credit limit increased, even though he is showing that he has a lower earning potential and won't be able to pay back the new loans. Any legitimate lending agency would tell him "No!". Congress should do the same.

It's time for the lies and diatribe to cease. It is time for an adult to come into the room and balance the budget. The first step is cutting funding to Obamacare, the Department of Education, and the Department of Energy. (Sorry kids, that pesky 10th Amendment strongly implies that the federal government should not be involved in local education programs such as public schools). Start cutting funding to private businesses unless they are directly contracted to provide a good or service to the government. In other words, don't fund any more research projects, especially ones involving a prawn on an elliptical machine.

This isn't some political move of some rogue faction holding the budget hostage or extorting policy changes. This is a group of representatives who actually listened to their constituents who are sick and tired of this non-recovery-recovery.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

TAPS -- COL (ret) Jerry Tait US Army

US Army Colonel (COL) - retired Jerry Tait passed suddenly on Sept. 14, 2013.

COL Tait had a distinguished 30 year career as a military intelligence officer in the US Army. That service culminated as he served as the III Corps Assistant Chief of Staff, G2 (Intelligence). His service led to multiple deployments to combat areas to include Iraq.

He was a great man. He was a good intelligence officer. His many accomplishments and successes may never be known to the public.

Jerry had a sense of humor. Even in dark times in Iraq when intelligence and operational reports seemed to be one bad incident after another, he seemed to keep his spirits high. He was motivating.

Another talent seemed to be to keep some General officers "in check" so that he and his boss, the III Corps Commanding General, could get the information they needed.

He pushed people to excel, but never pushed them to break. That is a talent that many military leaders seek but rarely perfect.

Hearing of Jerry's death breaks my heart. Just the other day, I was just thinking of him and a few others I served with. He always seemed happy to see me and seemed to look forward to my briefings. Perhaps that was because I tended to bring glimmers of good news. I tended to brief on who/what we captured/killed and to the next targets we expected those successes to lead us. That was 2004-5. In 2006-7, he regularly emailed me, asking my analysis of things. It was an honor.

The intelligence community lost a great intelligence officer the day he retired. The world lost a great man on September 14th.

COL Jerry Tait will be sorely missed and fondly remembered.

Sorting Through Static On Alexis

On Monday, Sept 16, 2013 at least one gunman, identified as former Sailor Aaron Alexis, entered the Navy Yard in Washington, DC and opened fire. He killed 12 people before a civilian police officer armed with an AR-15 shot him.

Aaron Alexis worked for a civilian company that had a defense contract. That contract granted Alexis limited access to the Navy Yard and a Secret clearance.

We know Alexis attempted to purchase an AR-15 days before. His background check was denied, so he purchased Vice President Joe Biden's favorite noisemaker, a shotgun. Using the shotgun, Alexis killed several people, wounding others. From one of his victims, he was able to steal a handgun.

We also know Alexis served in the US Navy. He had acquired two of the lowest service medals given in the military. Like everybody who served after Sept 11, 2001, Alexis had a National Defense Ribbon. He also has a Global War on Terror Service Medal, meaning he served in some unit that supported, directly or indirectly, units deployed in the War on Terror. Alexis fixed Navy helicopters. That is a form of support to the war effort filling GWOTSM criteria.

We also know Alexis never deployed to a war zone. So, he did not suffer the injury known as "PTSD" or "Post-Combat Stress".

One of his former shipmates described Alexis as somebody who was aware of race, but was not outwardly bigoted or racist. This in light of that former coworker's observation of the common use of racial and ethnic terms in their conversation. That shipmate was quick to point out that Alexis was rather "liberal minded" and strongly supported Obama. But this, like a lot of the data is suspect. It is just hearsay.

We also know Alexis had at least three altercations with the law. In Texas, he "accidentally" fired his weapon while cleaning it. He served in the Navy and should have had basic firearms training. So, he knew to always treat a weapon as though it is loaded and that clearing a weapon is the first step to disassembling a firearm in order to clean it. So, most military veterans won't buy that hype. He had a negligent discharge.

He had a "blackout" incident in Seattle where he was allegedly involved in an assault. Now, rumors are circulating that he may have been involved in another incident at a bar in Georgia in 2008.

There are also rumors of his having heard voices and having possible schizophrenia. Allegedly, leaked information from his medical records indicate he may have been prescribed an SSRI for depression.

Marijuana use can disqualify one for a security clearance, but not automatically. Current use or admitted adult use can. Any drug related police record usually will, as well. Other mental conditions will disqualify one, as well. PTSD will not, necessarily. Neither will depression or a prescription of weaker SSRIs. However, schizophrenia and borderline personality disorder usually will. However, there are many with ADHD and OCD serving in the intelligence ranks. They are not disqualifying conditions.

As of now, we still do not know Alexis's motives. He may have been disgruntled over pay. He may not have had his contract reviewed. He may have been irked at any number of things. Heck, the voices he allegedly heard may have told him to do it. Right now, we don't know.

But we do know that only one person was shot with a 5.56 rifle round from an AR-15. That was Aaron Alexis.

The ban on firearms on military installations is a muddy one. Clinton signed the executive order in 1993 based upon a directive issued during Bush 42's administration. Civilians and military personnel residing on post can have firearms in their homes, within certain limitations. No soldier may have them in a barracks room (they have to be locked in the arms room). Soldiers under a certain rank must also keep their firearms locked in the arms room. They may take their weapons to registered ranges both on and off post (during non-duty hours).

In the case where members of 2nd BN 75th INF Regt. (RANGERS) shot up a suspected drug dealer's residence during off duty hours. In that case, the unit armorer was at the party when the drunk Rangers decided to take action. The privately owned weapons were locked in the arms room. The soldiers went and retrieved them without their commander's permission. Yes, they got in trouble, a heap of it.

Hasan kept his weapon in his private, off-post residence until the day he went on his jihad-terrorist murder spree on Fort Hood. It is still legal for law abiding citizens, be they military or civilian, to keep their lawfully owned firearms in their off-post residence. Conversely, they need to register those weapons with the military installation and get permission to bring them on post to hunt or to use the range at the Rod and Gun Club. While transporting, the weapons need to be cleared and locked with the ammunition locked in a separate container. Because gate guards, usually civilian contractors, rarely check, not everybody follows those rules all of the time, though.

So, the questions again loom as gun-grabbers want military-style firearms banned. They care less that their favorite US Supreme Court Case, Miller, decided  that the Second Amendment applied mostly to military-style firearms that could be used by a private citizen if that citizen was called to muster in the local militia.

Many on the other side question the limited ban on carrying private weapons on military installations. the argument is that trained military could have responded quicker and possibly mitigated these mass shootings. Others argue there would be more of them. Those of us who understand the founding fathers' caution and worry over standing armies more than understand the potential misuse of power behind having our standing armies walking around armed at all times.

With the limited data available, we have more and more questions than we have answers. The best course of action in preventing any recurrence of this or the Fort Hood incident is not to start stripping individual rights. It is to find out exactly what happened, how it happened, and why it happened. That way we can be more vigilant and prepared.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Aged 226 Years, US Constitution & Its Companion

Today is marked as the 226th birthday of the US Constitution. In reality, that beloved document that serves as the supreme law of our land does not have a birthday. It was written over time. If you include the amendments, you can say it was written over centuries.

In fact, if you study the history and circumstances that led to the penning of the original base document, it evolved from a couple of centuries worth of data, analysis, study, and thought. Some of the ideas date back to Aristotle. Others to Magna Carta. Most date to works that were more contemporary such as the writings of John Locke, Adam Smith, Thomas Jefferson and Thomas Paine.

Ratification was not a quick process, either. There were many who questioned giving even that much power, albeit limited, to a federal government. Today, we should heed those warnings and remember the intended safeguards built within the US Constitution, many of which some members of the "political class" attempt to circumvent or ignore.

In writing the constitution, three men emerged as its champions. In letters written to objectors, these men sought to convince others of the necessity of a stronger federal government that would still be limited in its authority to only those few responsibilities that should be reserved to a federal government.

Among most prominent  necessary authorities are: national defense (military), paying national debts, governing disputes between states including commerce, a high court, diplomatic actions on behalf of the states with foreign powers, and the authority to collect revenues (taxes) in order to pay for the above.

With the 10th Amendment, the ratified document was complete. That amendment blatantly stated what much of the verbiage within the base document implied:  if it isn't listed in here as a federal responsibility or authority, it isn't -- so leave the states and individuals alone.

The three champions: John Jay (1st US Supreme Court Chief Justice), Alexander Hamilton, and James Madison (4th President of the US); wrote their arguments. Today, a compendium of these letters, known as The Federalist Papers, serve as sort of an owners' manual for the US Constitution. While they do not address the amendments that came after them, the words of wisdom within should be taken into account when considering any alteration or amendment to the US Constitution. They are just as relevant, if not more so, today as they were 226 years ago.

These works should be celebrated along side of the US Constitution. So, today, let's give thanks to those three great men and commemorate the US Constitution and The Federalist Papers on their 226th Anniversary. 

Monday, September 16, 2013

Mogadishu 20 Years Later

October 3, 2013 will mark the 20 year anniversary of the battle of the black sea, otherwise known as the battle of Mogadishu. The battle took place during Operation Gothic Serpent, a mission to capture (or kill) Aidid and his Al Q'aeda linked militia in Somalia. The events of that night have been immortalized in the book (and movie) Blackhawk Down.

The fierce fight earned two SFOD-D heroes the Medal of Honor.

Fierce fighting and numerous attacks led up to the operation and continued afterward. Today, Mogadishu is not much better off. It is still one of the most violent cities in the world.

Film makers approached a few of the US Army Rangers who were part of the operation that night. They asked them to travel back to Mogadishu 20 years later. What resulted is the short documentary "Return to Mogadishu".
"In 2000, the Academy Award winning film, Black Hawk Down, told the story of the 160 U.S. Special Operations Forces who were sent to Mogadishu, Somalia and tasked with the fateful mission of capturing war criminal Mohammed Farrah Aidid. Now, 20 years later, Major Jeff Struecker, a former Army Ranger from the battle and a key character in the film, returns to what is still considered the most dangerous place in the world, the lawless streets of Mogadishu, to relive the battle. In this audacious attempt to retrace the exact route the rescue convoy took during the firefight, filmmakers reveal Jeff’s story first hand while driving through the narrow city streets as they identify key landmarks from the film and come within blocks of the original target building. With some of the first footage shot from inside the notorious “Bakaara Market” where the battle took place, Return to Black Hawk Down uncovers the fear, courage, and faith experienced by the special operators during the battle in a way never before experienced as Jeff wrestles with the aftermath of a place that reshaped his own perspectives on life and death."

The former Rangers involved in the film bring you through the spots where some of the most intense fighting took place both during the operation to capture Aidid and some of the precursor battles. Many of the buildings remain pockmarked with bullet holes and scars from explosions.

Photo Courtesy of CRU from the file "Return to Mogadishu"
Copyright 2013 by CRU, Used with Permission.

The imagery needs to be seen to be believed. Military Historians as well as those who support our brave military members will enjoy the movie.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Star Of Texas Awards 2013

Gov. Perry Presents Star of Texas Awards To First Responders and Families
Photo courtesy of The Office of the Governor of Texas, Public Domain
More photos from the ceremony available at this link.

Thursday, Sept. 12, 2013 The Star of Texas Award was presented to first responders, or their family members, for service above and beyond the call of duty, usually sustaining serious injuries or sacrificing their lives in the process.

The award was created in 2003. In 2007, legislation expanded the scope to include federal agents who distinguished themselves with similar acts of bravery and valor.

This years recipients:

Michael E. McLelland, Kaufman County District Attorney
Cynthia McLelland

Terry J. Taylor, Bellaire Police Department
Jimmy R. Matus, West Volunteer Fire Department
William R. Uptmor Jr, West Volunteer Fire Department

Mark A. Mirelez, Robstown EMS

Jerry D. Chapman, Abbott Volunteer Fire Department
Kevin Sanders, Bruceville-Eddy Volunteer Fire Department
Gregory W. Pickard, Bryan Fire Department
Frank E. Wallace, Bryan Fire Department
Cyrus A. Reed, Bynum and Elm Mott Volunteer Fire Departments
Kenneth "Lucky" Harris Jr, Dallas Fire-Rescue
Stanley A. Wilson, Dallas Fire-Rescue
Robert Bebee, Houston Fire Department
Robert Garner, Houston Fire Department
Matthew Renaud, Houston Fire Department
Anne Sullivan, Houston Fire Department
Jalen S. Smith, Jackson Heights Volunteer Fire Department
Perry W. Calvin, Navarro Mills Volunteer Fire Department
Larry Nelson, Val Verde Co. Rural Volunteer Fire Department
Morris W. Bridges Jr, West Volunteer Fire Department
Cody F. Dragoo, West Volunteer Fire Department
Joey F. Pustejovsky Jr, West Volunteer Fire Department
Douglas J. Snokhous, West Volunteer Fire Department
Robert Snokhous, West Volunteer Fire Department

Craig G. Story, Arlington Police Department
Bryan M. Hebert, Beaumont Police Department
Jimmie D. Norman, Bellaire Police Department
Brian D. Bachmann, Brazos County Constable Precinct 1
Angel D. Garcia, El Paso Police Department
Jonathan K. Molina, El Paso Police Department
Chad C. Key, Grayson County Sheriff's Office
Jaime J. Zapata, Homeland Security Investigations
Lance A. McLean, Hood County Sheriff's Office
Mark E. Hasse, Kaufman County District Attorney's Office
D. Robert-Martin Harvey, Lubbock County Sheriff's Office
Larry D. Candelari, Pasadena Police Department
Jesse T. Hamilton, Pasadena Police Department
Joshua S. Mitchell, Reagan County Sheriff's Office
Edrees Mukhtar, San Antonio Police Department
William J. Sprague, Texarkana Police Department
Joshua S. Williams, Waxahachie Police Department

Ricky D. Mantey Jr, Bryan Fire Department
Mitchel S. Moran, Bryan Fire Department
Cameron E. Veitch, Community Volunteer Fire Department
Johnnie J.D. Johnson, Corpus Christi Fire Department
William Dowling, Houston Fire Department
Anthony Livesay, Houston Fire Department
Foster Santos, Houston Fire Department
Robert Yarbrough, Houston Fire Department

Toby W. Douglass, Arlington Police Department
Kenneth C. Casaday, Austin Police Department
Mandi L. Novak, Austin Police Department
Jared S. Ralston, Austin Police Department
Patricia M. Valdez, Austin Police Department
Jose L. Esquivel, Bexar County Sheriff's Office
Justin C. Oehlke, College Station Police Department
Watt Carroll Jr, Dallas Police Department
Samuel B. Hussey, Dallas Police Department
Matthew J. Wagner, Dallas Police Department
Perry S. Kram, Fayette County Sheriff's Office
Josh R. Bell, Fort Worth Police Department
Chad W. Davis, Granbury Police Department
Roland E. Dahlin III, Harris County Constable Precinct 4
Leigh Ann Snyder, Longview Police Department
Hector Camarillo, Madisonville Police Department
James H. Boyd, Montague County Sheriff's Office
Michael R. Huffman, Pasadena Police Department
Troy W. Clark, Texas Department of Public Safety
Kent A. Coleman, Texas Department of Public Safety
David R. Cramer, Texas Department of Public Safety
Germaine C. Gaspard, Texas Department of Public Safety
Robert J. Sims, Texas Department of Public Safety
Arthur Senteno, Washington County Sheriff's Office
Governor Rick Perry was on hand to present the awards and make a few remarks. Among his words was an acknowledgement of how critical these first responders have been, recognizing the efforts that have taken place since the 2001 attacks on the Pentagon and World Trade Center.

"It's a privilege to be here with you for this year's Star of Texas Awards, among so many who have given so much in service to their fellow Texans.

"It's difficult to believe that more than 12 years have passed since the events of September 11, 2001.

"The wreckage of the planes has been cleaned away, the Pentagon has been rebuilt, and a new tower is rising above the New York skyline on the site where the Twin Towers once stood.

"It's been a time of healing, a time of rebuilding, and a time of rebirth.

"But the events of that day truly changed our nation.

"We better understand the dangers of global threats.

"We better understand the need to be prepared for any eventuality.
"And we better understand the extraordinary sacrifices made every day by our nation's first responders."
He continues by highlighting the work and sacrifices of Texas's First Responders:

"Texas' first responders know there is no such thing as 'routine'... Not in their jobs.

"As such, they demonstrate the kind of bravery we witnessed on Nine-Eleven each and every day they go to work.

"That certainly was the case in West this past [Spring], when fire broke out at a fertilizer business.

"Not only did the community's volunteer firefighters respond, so did paramedic trainees, and a Dallas chief who lived in the area.

"That certainly was the case as Brazos County Constable Brian Bachmann arrived to serve an eviction notice in College Station, only to come under fire of the resident inside.

"Constable Bachmann was killed, and three other peace officers wounded in the shootout before the gunman could be brought down.

"And that was certainly the case near Hillcroft last May, when a five-alarm blaze at the Southwest Inn Motel claimed the lives of four firefighters, including probationary firefighter Anne Sullivan, who was working just her second fire.

"Anyone in this room knows, however, that this calling. This noble service carries with it a great element of danger.

"They understand that placing yourself in harm's way will sometimes carry a cost.

"These individuals we lost over the past year lived with that understanding, but it was part of living lives of meaning.

"They were part of a higher calling, and like the other honorees here with us today, they helped make Texas a safer, stronger and better place to live.
A transcription of Governor Perry's full remarks are available at the Governor's official web site. 

Friday, September 13, 2013

Al-Q'aeda Hydra Far From Slain

Not long after SEAL Team 6 cornered and killed Usama bin Laden, Obama and his minions declared that Al-Q'aeda was "broken" and "on the run". Many Americans believed the man who is known for canceling or ignoring his daily intelligence updates. However, people who have spent the last 15-20 years of their lives tracking the terrorist organization cringed.

Refusing to admit his ignorance, Obama joined Susan Rice and Hillary Clinton in falsely accusing an American who made a YouTube video for events in Behghazi, Libya. Those events were initially reported as a protest turned into an angry mob. That "angry mob" somehow managed to infiltrate the consulate compound using sympathetic local national security guards. Once inside the compound, this "angry mob" found their target, the US Ambassador, and raped him. They sodomized him. They beat him. They murdered him. Then they dragged him and three other Americans' bodies through the streets of Benghazi.

But it wasn't an "angry mob". It wasn't some unplanned, spontaneous action. Hillary Clinton would have you believe that it no longer matters if this was a planned, coordinated, rehearsed, and well-executed attack or some spontaneous violence. The truth,as we know it, is that it does matter. This attack proved Obama to be lying when he stated that Al-Q'aeda was no longer a viable threat.

This is exacerbated by information that indicates the events may have coincided with covert attempts to arm Syrian rebels through their Al-Q'aeda affiliated associates in Libya in an "Operation Fast and Furious" type operation. We can hope that those involved in this operation keep better tabs on those items than Eric Holder and the ATF did when they armed Mexican drug cartels.

You can make up your own cover story. You can make up your own fairytale. But you cannot change facts or reality. You can merely obfuscate them with rose-colored perception alteration spectacles, smoke, and mirrors. The attack was planned and well coordinated by Al Q'aeda.

As it turns out, the brothers who committed the terrorist bombing of the Boston Marathon were linked to Al Q'aeda. Nobody should be surprised.

Not long ago, Turkish intelligence and security personnel caught people with canisters of Sarin gas attempting to cross their border, illegally. It was discovered these people were members of Al Q'aeda (The Al-Nasra Front) who were actively working with the rebel factions in Syria. This should scare every American at least a little. Al Q'aeda operatives had (and may still have) one of the most deadly weapons of mass effects known to man. It wouldn't be the first time that terrorists employed chemical warfare, either. In fact, terrorists used to drop plague infested meat and rats into town water supplies.

Cut Off One Head & Two Replace It

Meanwhile, Ayaman Al-Zawahiri was busy making his own tape. Instead of video, he stuck to an audio transmission. In it, AAZ claims Sept. 11 on the Christian Calendar as a day of victory to be celebrated. He claims victory in the attacks in 2001. He claims victory in the attacks in Behghazi. He celebrates "Blackhawk Down" and other operations against US Forces in Somalia as Al-Qaeda victories. He also claims victory in the attack on the Boston Marathon, among others. He then calls for more small-scale, stealthy attacks of that nature.

Who is AAZ? Some like to claim he is the "next Usama bin Laden (UBL)". Others claim he is just a pale and reluctant replacement. He is lauded as the current figurehead in charge of Al-Q'aeda. His history goes much deeper than that.

When they were younger, AAZ recruited UBL into a group known as the Egyptian Islamic Jihad (EIJ). Given bin Laden's family, UBL was a great asset to the terrorist group. UBL had funding. He had charisma. He had ties to the Saudi Arabian nobility through his wealthy and influential family. Usama was also a devout Wahabbi, to an extreme that made most Salafists cringe. The two were fast friends.

Later, when UBL began building Al-Q'aeda, AAZ served as UBL's second-in-command. He served as his ambassador. He served as UBL's closest confidante and adviser. Speculation indicates that UBL may have been more of a mouthpiece for some of AAZ's machinations. AAZ is smart. He holds several degrees and is a medical doctor, a surgeon. In fact, over the last 10+ years of UBL's life, AAZ served as UBL's personal physician. Usama needed regular dialysis due to kidney disease and diabetes.

With AAZ's audio transmission  came an attack on another US Consulate, this one in Herat, Afghanistan. The consulate compound was attacked with two Vehicle-Borne Improvised Explosive Devices. Two security personnel at the consulate were killed. So were at least seven terrorists reported as members of the Taliban. They were most likely trained and outfitted by Al-Q'aeda operatives. Luckily, no US personnel were killed in the attack. Ironically, the attack happened within a week of a similar attack in Afghanistan.

Al-Q'aeda tied Taliban terrorists attacked the Iranian consulate. Iran has been supporting the Assad Regime in Syria in their fight against the Al-Q'aeda tied Al-Nasra Front rebels. That is the same rebel group who had Sarin gas canisters near the Turkish border. Those are the same terrorists that were to receive the weapons being smuggled in through Libya. They are the same rebels who Obama was going to ask Congress to approve to support. They all hang on the words of AAZ, and they all want to kill Americans.

Now, would somebody like to explain to us how Al-Q'aeda is no longer a threat? Those of us with open eyes and experience are seeing things quite differently. Perhaps there's information out there that isn't being shared with either US Citizens or the intelligence community.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

'Revolution' & the 'Beast'

With movies and television shows these day ripe with anti-capitalist, big government, pro-socialism messaging, two shows contain bits and pieces of good ol' American spirit.

Now, some may interpret them otherwise. They most likely do so out of lack of basic education in American History and Civics.

The first show is "Revolution". My wife and I just started watching the show on Netflix. Others may be a season ahead. Those who haven't yet discovered the show may want to look into it.

The premise behind the show is that all electrical energy is magically shut off. Nothing that uses electronics will work. It isn't like some electromagnetic pulse blackout. Something, still a mystery in the first few episodes, has simply sucked up all the electricity. It is though something impedes the movement of electrons.

Scientifically, if possible, that would also kill most animal life, since our nervous systems require some flow of electrons. But that is the beauty of fiction.

In any case, society collapses. Most current governments fall. Transportation is relegated to walking or beasts of burden. (I'm still lost on how steam power was effected). The US falls into separate zones. Each zone is controlled by its own government with its own militia. The show concentrated on the so-called "Monroe Republic".

The "Monroe Republic" is named after its founder. A former US Army NCO, now "General" Monroe is president of the "republic" and general of its militia. He is a tyrant.

Under Monroe, no person who is not an active member of the militia is allowed to own firearms. All hunting and home protection must be done by edged weapon or bow. Owning a firearm is a capital offense that carries a swift death penalty.

The "republic" seems to lack any real representation. Instead, it appears to be headed by one man. That is not a republic. It is a dictatorship, a system of government on the far left wing of the political spectrum. Merely speaking out against Monroe is an offense. His militia all seem to fall lockstep into the state approved religion. Voicing religious views counter to that religion is also an offense.

This "republic" seems a lot more like Plato's "Republic" than a true republic as designed by our US Constitution. It is something much further left of any true republican ideology. Like the term "liberal" was hijacked by the left, having its meaning changed from "free" to instead refer to unfettered application and expansion of tyranny and government authority, "republic" in this show more means "anti-public".

Still, champions of the US Constitution and its basic principles exist. There  are "the rebels". They keep, wave, and are tattooed with the "rebel flag". That "rebel flag" has alternating red and white stripes, 13 of them. It has a field of blue in the upper left corner. Affixed upon that field of blue is a union of 50 stars. The crime of this "rebellion" is their ideology and purpose:  to restore the Republic of the United States of America.

Any left-winger in today's real world watching the show must cringe at the heroes and cheer for Monroe, since he embodies the goal of their ideology.

The second show is the modernization of "Beauty and the Beast". Being fond of the original series starring Ron Perlman (Sons of Anarchy) and Linda Hamilton (Terminator), I was curious how they'd interpret the remake. The story is much changed. Cat is not an assistant DA. Vincent is not some disfigured lion-man crossbreed mutant. In fact, most of the time, Vincent walks around appearing human.

Vincent is more of a Jekyl and Hyde character like The Hulk. He sees somebody being hurt or bullied, he runs in to help.

The character of Vincent is what points to conservative and patriotic ideals in the show. Symbolically, the show is more about Post-Combat Stress (PCS) otherwise poorly termed "PTSD". He was a surgeon working on his residency when the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks from Al Q'aeda happened. He worked on the casualties. He lost two brothers, both FDNY firefighters, who died rescuing others. In a moment of righteous indignation and moral outrage, Vincent joined the US Army.

While serving in Afghanistan, Vincent was trained with some fictitious black-ops special forces unit. The highest rank he achieved was E-4, unusual for somebody with a medical doctorates degree. The lower-enlisted rank is also unusual for any special forces unit other than the 75th Ranger Regiment. In any case, he received specialized combat training as well as "vitamin treatments" that were actually experiments to alter his genetics. He became stronger. His senses increased. He developed sort of an intuition. He became faster. His body can morph, growing claws and fangs as his face temporarily becomes grotesque. For those who play White Wolf's World of Darkness games such as Vampire the Requiem, this secret government contractor turned Vincent into a gangrel.

When they found that those experimented upon maintained their free will and could not be controlled, the black-ops contractor killed off most of the unit. Vincent faked his death and returned back to the states under assumed names. Now he lives in New York City and helps people.

He is your patriotic soldier returning from war with PCS/PTSD. He has some issues, yes. But that the core, he is a good guy who is there to fight for those who need somebody to fight for them. The anti-capitalist government-backed corporation represents, again, the left wing agenda. They want to hunt down those with PTSD and make them disappear, ore make them feel segregated and ostracized from society. Why? Because they represent true sacrifice on behalf of liberty.

Now, there is one adversary in the show, an Assistant District Attorney. He is also a genetic mutant victimized by that same  government-backed corporation. Instead of being experimented upon while serving, his symbolic PTSD comes from childhood abuse at the hands of "the system". Again, it was the government that, "just trying to help", indoctrinated and abused him. He cannot control his bestial shifts without drugs. This is a symbol of dependence upon government assistance. He symbolizes what government schools and institutions are doing to our kids -- mutating them to be against the founding principles of our great nation.