Daily Archives: April 18, 2012

Shredding the Constitution

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By Janet Levy

The U.S. Constitution, which has guided American society for over two centuries, inspiring nations worldwide and serving as a model for governance, is under serious threat today.  Ironically, that threat comes from the very individuals charged with protecting the Constitution — federal, state, and local government officials.

All these public officials take an oath to support the Constitution and to refrain from actions or laws that interfere with individual rights and liberties specified in the Constitution.  Yet President Obama and officials all along the way down to local police chiefs are today actively engaged in the daily shredding of the U.S. Constitution.

The Obama administration has expanded its executive branch powers under a comprehensive czar system and myriad executive orders.  Meanwhile, Congress quietly passes questionable legislation with the potential to limit personal freedoms — and U.S. agencies, such as the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Department of Justice (DOJ), engage in activities that raise serious concerns about constitutional violations.  Even local law enforcement officials have become increasingly intrusive and hostile to civil liberties.

Several dramatic examples illustrate this growing problem and highlight the need for increased vigilance and public scrutiny if we are to remain a constitutional republic with our individual rights intact.

Obama Administration

Obama has established a precedent of not working with legislators from both parties to pass congressional bills, instead resorting to changing laws and policies through executive fiat.  With over 40 czars controlling various functions, he has structured a second tier of unaccountable government officials that operate behind the scenes away from the glare of public scrutiny.  This shadow government undermines Congress, the people’s representatives, and the Cabinet secretaries who undergo a Senate vetting process.  It subverts the foundational principle of government by representation for government by proxy.

A dramatic example is the Council of Governors, established in January 2010 when Obama signed Executive Order 13528.  The stated intent was to solidify the relationship between the federal and state governments and protect the nation.  State governors representing ten FEMA regions in the United States were appointed and serve at the pleasure of the president to “represent the Nation as a whole.”  Their duties include “reviewing matters related to the National Guard of the various states, homeland defense, synchronization and integration of State and Federal military activities in the United States[.]”

Also on board are the secretaries of defense and homeland security, the U.S. Northern Command commander, the commandant of the Coast Guard, the chief of the National Guard, and other federal officials.  The secretary of defense designates an executive director.

One small problem: the Council in effect ignores the 1878 Posse Comitatus Act, a law that bars the military from exercising domestic police powers.  The Council’s existence also erodes the power of the states and their ability to control their militias.

Meanwhile, on Friday afternoon, March 16, with little fanfare, Obama issued another executive order, the National Defense Resources Preparedness Order.  In this one, he granted himself absolute power over all American resources during times of peace and national emergency, including food, water, livestock, plants, energy, health resources, transportation, and construction material — all without the consent of Congress and the American people.  Although this represented an amendment to an existing order, the new phrase, “under both emergency and non-emergency conditions,” fueled speculation that the new order could allow peacetime martial law.

As for who has the authority to declare war, the Obama administration apparently believes that it has no need to consult Congress, although the power to declare war is clearly enumerated to Congress in the U.S. Constitution.  In March, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta denied any need for Congressional involvement and explained that the administration would instead seek permission from NATO and the U.N. for an “international legal basis” to commit U.S. troops abroad.  This, despite the fact that our country’s founders clearly specified that only Congress shall declare war so that the People could be closely involved in a decision that could gravely impact their lives.

Congress

Congress, meanwhile, in February passed the Federal Restricted Buildings and Grounds Improvement Act of 2011.  Signed into law by President Obama in March, the act empowers the Secret Service to designate areas in which free speech, association, and redress of government grievances are prohibited, even temporarily for specific events or if individuals are attending who are protected by Secret Service.  Under the Act, anyone who congregates in a restricted area may be prosecuted and, if found guilty, imprisoned for up to ten years.  In other words, Secret Service agents may decide where to create “no free speech zones” in which protests may be banned and protestors subject to arrest.  This constitutes blatant government suppression of speech.

Also in February, Congress passed a $63-billion FAA appropriations bill, H.R. 658, that could result in up to 30,000 unmanned aerial vehicles surveilling the United States by the end of the decade.  The bill authorizes the government to fly across the country conducting warrantless aerial searches but fails to address serious privacy issues raised by the drones.  These unmanned aircraft have sensitive surveillance technology to see, hear and record, including GPS, high-power zooming, infrared, ultraviolet, and see-through capabilities.

Federal Departments

Also involved with drones is the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), currently building its drone fleet for deployment along U.S. borders, allegedly to curtail the flow of human trafficking, weapons, and contraband.  This stated use for DHS drones seems suspect in light of a recent DHS order for an unprecedented 450 million rounds of hollow-point ammunition.  As has been demonstrated in Afghanistan and Pakistan, drones are capable of being weaponized and also hacked and captured by opposition forces.  All of this deserves heightened concern in light of the ill-fated Fast and Furious operation, in which the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, under the supervision of the Holder Justice Department, put weapons into the hands of Mexico’s narco-terrorists and then lost track of the firearms.  The guns were linked to crimes, including the murder of a U.S. Border Patrol agent.

Further, recent policies belie the stated purpose for employing drones.  The Justice Department is suing Arizona, Alabama, South Carolina, Georgia, and Utah for upholding immigration laws that are mirror-images of federal illegal immigration statutes, and the DHS is blocking deportation of illegal immigrants.  Meanwhile, Obama signed an executive order to stop the automatic deportation of illegal aliens.

Local Government

On the local government level, the New York police department is testing gun detection technology with a scanner placed on police vehicles to reveal concealed weapons.  This could constitute a violation of Second Amendment rights to bear arms as well as a challenge to the 4th Amendment, which prohibits illegal search and seizure.  Broad use of this new technology represents a trespass on personal property for information-gathering when a reasonable expectation of privacy exists and law enforcement lacks a judicially sanctioned warrant, which would check police power.

Police have also stepped up their attacks against the First Amendment right to religious expression.  In May 2010, when junior high school students from an Arizona Christian academy visited the U.S. Supreme Court on a field trip and stopped to pray outside the building, a police officer abruptly interrupted their prayers and ordered the group to stop.  The students were told they were violating the law.  Later, a public information officer for the court stated that no policy prohibits prayer.

In Dearborn, Michigan, in June, 2010, a pastor and two lay Christians were arrested outside an Arab festival, under the pretense that they were blocking a tent entrance, creating a public danger, and “screaming into a crowd.”  Video footage of the event clearly showed that this was untrue.  Last year, an assistant evangelical pastor from a Southern California church and two church members were arrested by the California Highway Patrol for reading the Bible outside a DMV office to those waiting in line almost an hour before opening time.  Although the Christians were 50 feet away from the entrance, they were cited for “impeding an open business.”

On an individual basis, any of the above orders, laws, and actions might seem innocuous and make concerns over government usurpation and abuse of power seem exaggerated and unsubstantiated.  However, taken collectively, they represent an alarming trend of a small and steady overthrow of our constitutional guarantees and liberties by elected representatives and unelected government officials.

At a time when the president is using the EPA to limit access to vital energy resources and to impinge on private property rights and has instituted an unpopular, unprecedented mandate to purchase government health care under threat of legal action, the fight for constitutional restraint couldn’t be more critical.  If Americans can be ordered to purchase health care and prohibited from the free and clear use of their private property, where does it end?  Are our rights, guaranteed under the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights, safe?

The Constitution’s unprecedented fundamentals — separation of powers among the three branches of government with its enumerated powers and checks and balances, the principle of limited government and the concept of a government that exists solely to represent the interests of the governed — were exquisitely designed to protect the natural liberties of the people and prevent government tyranny.  The Bill of Rights, the first ten amendments to the Constitution, guarantees specific personal freedoms, limits the government’s power in judicial proceedings, and reserves all unspecified power for the states.  The time to reaffirm and reinvigorate these constitutional principles, to limit government power, and to preserve individual liberties is now.

Read more: American Thinker

The Obama Oil Embargo

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David Kreutzer, Ph.D.
April 18, 2012 at 6:46 am

From canceling oil leases in his second week in office to denying the XL Pipeline this year President Obama and his administration have offered up a non-stop assault on affordable energy.  Now that high gasoline prices have come home to roost, the president is flailing around for an energy policy.

His recent attempts at energy policy include:

  • Nobody can do anything about high gasoline prices.
  • Maybe I should release crude from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve.
  • There is a lot of drilling that I haven’t been able to stop.  Don’t I get credit for that?

The latest attempt is to blame everything on speculators.  And why not?  Previous polling shows that 80 percent of Americans believe petroleum price spikes are caused by speculation, which means no more than 20 percent believe it is caused by the fundamentals of supply and demand.

There are several flaws in “the speculators did it” theory.  The first is why do they only do it occasionally?  That is, why don’t speculators want to make unconscionable profits all the time?

Second, why do the index funds and all the other bad guys only speculate in oil?  Where are the profiteering speculators in natural gas, whose current price is about half of what it averaged over the last decade?

Third, there are sophisticated traders on both sides of the petroleum markets.  For every speculator who makes money on a trade, somebody else will lose money.  Blaming speculators on continued price increases requires an endless string of chumps to take the other side of the speculators’ deals.  If anybody should be the chumps, it should be the newbies from the insurance industry and hedge funds, but they are at the top of the most-wanted list.

Finally, for speculation to drive up prices, the speculators must either cause oil production to slow down (which they haven’t) or to pull oil off the market.  If the flow of petroleum and its products remains unchanged, the price at the pump will not change.  If petroleum is pulled off the market, which can happen even though there are limits to what can be stored, it will eventually come back on the market.  And the question becomes, “When the oil comes back on the market, is the price higher or lower than when it was pulled off the market?”  The price will only be higher if the amount supplied at that time is lower or the demand is higher.  In either of those cases, speculators have helped moderate price fluctuations and will be rewarded with profits.  If the price is lower, then the speculators did a bad thing and will be punished by losing money.

The real problem is that combating high gasoline prices requires a greater supply, and this administration’s policies have pushed the other way.  It seems the administration does not really want lower gasoline prices.  Steven Chu, Obama’s non-car-owning Secretary of Energy, famously said we need to get our gasoline prices up to the $8-$10/gallon level they are in Europe.

imageUnfortunately for the president, the voters want more gasoline and lower prices.  So, in the time-honored Washington tradition, he creates a boogeyman and blames his energy failures on speculators.

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The NDAA, The TSA, 30,000 Drones in the Sky by 2020? Is This Still the Land of the Free?

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Posted on April 18, 2012
by Nick Sorrentino

From the Jack Hunter comes this piece. Apparently there are some conservatives on the Hill who are seeking the repeal (or to at least amend) the National Defense Authorization Act which gives the president the authority (though in the Constitution there is none) to detain American citizens indefinitely and without due process. Good on ya House GOP. Though I don’t see leadership endorsing the effort.

To date the push has been led by Republican Congressman Justin Amash, a real shining light of liberty and hopefully a rising star in the House too.  He seeks to raise the profile of the NDAA, and to the degree that we can we seek to help him.

The NDAA is un-American. It is a blot on our country. Never should such power be given to the president. Never.

It is of such concern that recently in Worcester Massachusetts a group of Occupiers and a group of TEA Partiers got together for an afternoon to protest this horrible law. That’s something!

Sadly however the surveillance state continues to grow.

We now live in a society where the TSA can and does accost us every time we get on a flight. We must now take off our shoes, belts, toss out our shampoo, potentially get felt up, and be subject to doses of radiation just to get on a plane.

We have robot cameras on highways issuing speeding tickets. One camera in Washington DC across from the German embassy has issued “tens of thousands.” I heard this morning that someone actually hired a guy to stand with a sign beside the road warning drivers of the camera.

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The Department of Homeland Security is a beast that continues to rage out of control. It, along with other law “enforcement” agencies will soon deploy drones in American airspace. By 2020 the FAA anticipates that there will be 30,000 drones patrolling the skies.  How can a country which calls itself the “Land of the Free” allow this to happen? We will be watched everywhere we go. And why? Because we must thwart terrorism!

I’m sorry but I am WAY more concerned about 30,000 drones peering into the lives of everyday Americans than I am about acts of terrorism. I feel like if we have 30,000 drones flying around watching us then the terrorists it can be said have won. We have abandoned our western liberal ways for an almost subhuman existence in may respects. It certainly is not the life of a “citizen.” Citizens are free people.

We are heading down a very dangerous road here. If Americans don’t really start to buck the surveillance state now, they will never throw it off. But alas, we are all too busy, with jobs, and children, and bills, to notice that the sun is increasingly being blocked out by the government eye in the sky.

The cherry on the surveillance sundae is that as our liberties slip away, one at a time, there are people making big bucks off of every slip.

Looks like Orwell was only off by a few decades.

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