Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Quotation of the Day

From Andrew McCarthy, in National Review:

… the degree to which Obama has wielded executive power in favor of America’s enemies and against his own political opponents and scapegoats is breathtaking. The treasonous Manning gets an 80 percent shave off his sentence. Now we learn Oscar Lopez-Rivera, an unrepentant FALN terrorist convicted of waging war against the United States, has also had his sentence commuted. Taliban commanders are released, replenishing our jihadist enemies even as they continue prosecuting a terrorist war against our troops and allies, in exchange for Bowe Bergdahl, a deserter who may, at least indirectly, have caused the deaths of American soldiers. Iran is enriched and empowered with tens of billions of dollars – including ransom cash – and a mammoth nuclear energy program (with the certainty that it will yield a nuclear weapons stockpile) even as it remains the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism calling for “death to America.”

But if you are Dinesh D’Souza, a conservative Obama critic, the Justice Department inflates an administrative violation into multiple felonies and aggressively advocates (thankfully, without success) for a stiff prison sentence. If you are a tea party group gearing up to fight Obama’s re-election, here comes the IRS. If you are “anti-Muslim video producer” Nakoula Basseley Nakoula and Obama needs a scapegoat for his derelictions in Benghazi, you end up in the slammer. If you are a deep-pocketed financial institution that Obama wants to make the culprit for the government-driven financial meltdown, or to raid so the radical left’s legion of “community organizers” can be funded, prepare to pony up a 9- or 10-figure “settlement.” If you are a police department, be ready to be scandalized as a practitioner of racially malicious enforcement. If you are Israel, brace for the “international outlaw” smear.


Katielee4211 said...

Which begs the question: Why do people even question where his loyalties lie? Why is the answer greeted with surprise? Isn't it evident? Why do they avoid it?

Anonymous said...

I understand in a gesture of conciliation Obama is going to pardon the Blind Sheikh Omar Abdel-Rahman .
One wonders if a person was to set out to destroy this country if there is anything Obama has done that this person would not have done?
"I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States."
Just a piece of parchment in Obama's words.

Ignatius Acton Chesterton OCD said...

And the worst of these transgressions is the IRS scandal.

The Steve Miller-Lois Lerner federal community organizing against citizen community organizers is a disgrace of the highest order. And it was instructive, in that it demonstrated once-and-for-all the complete ideological alignment of the Obama administration and big media -- those pathetic pseudo-watchdog avatars of the mainstream press. The Fourth Estate has squandered whatever dignity it had left, and the distrust they have sown is richly deserved. They are beneath contempt. When Trump calls CNN "fake news," talks of expanding who gets to attend White House briefings to horrified "professional journalists," or tweets over their heads to shape the narrative, I just smile. It's brilliant. And the press is deeply upset by all this. They have no one but themselves to blame. And the most entertaining part is that they haven't a clue what's happening or why it is happening. They are oblivious.

The truly scandalous feature about the IRS scandal is how it was systematically ignored. If any Republican executive had used the IRS to threaten and stymie his opponents, he would be ruthlessly, relentlessly hounded for answers, and legislators would justifiably call for his impeachment. As with so many things with Obama, the IRS scandal elicited a big YAWN from our journalist sages, quickly followed by a tangential diversion or complete change of subject. That's why I don't take them seriously now, and doubt I ever will again. Even Fox News, with their coordinated GOPe hit job at the Cleveland debate, and their punditry's complete deafness to the mood of the country. The ideological titans of the Republican party have marginalized themselves. They're all tone deaf. Too many cocktails at too many NYC-DC cocktail parties. We all want to fit in, but c'mon... have some dignity! At least try to understand the dynamics in play.

Barack Obama weaponized the Internal Revenue Service in order to intimidate people who were acting in a purely grassroots capacity. It was different than all political corruption scandals before. It targeted citizens.

So the press is horrified by Trump. They don't like being bullied, shut out, neutralized, ignored, shamed, needled, harassed, heckled, distrusted, and made fun of. Too bad. When the press asks people like me to protect their free speech and their right to question authority, I will ask where they were when Tea Party groups lost their voice for doing nothing more than seeking to organize, express and advocate their views of how government ought to operate. That's fundamentally what the First Amendment is all about! It's not about systematically weaponizing institutions for the benefit of the Democrat Party.

I've come to find that the press is very attached to one clause in the First Amendment, and ignorant of the rest of the Constitution. Pardon me if I find their lugubrious wailing to be amusing. Ah, schadenfreude.

Trigger Warning said...

"the worst of these transgressions is the IRS scandal."

I must differ, my friend. "Scandal" does not begin to meet that event where it lives. A bipedal rhinoceros wearing a designer tent renting 30 rooms in a Marbella uber-luxury hotel for a "mother-daughter" vacation on the taxpayer dime is scandalous.

The IRS Event was a high crime, plain and simple; i.e., "misconduct peculiar to officials, [including] perjury of oath, abuse of authority, [...] intimidation, misuse of assets, failure to supervise, [and] dereliction of duty.

That no one landed in prison is criminal in its own right.

As Chief Justice John Marshall observed, the untrammeled power to tax is the power to destroy.

Ares Olympus said...
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Ares Olympus said...

The commuted sentence for "Chelsea" Manning did surprise me.

My own position on "whistleblowing" is that we should all work through our conscience first, but be willing to pay the social price. 35 years in prison would seem a very high price to be willing to pay for expressing conscience, but its not just imprisonment, but the conditions. And given "she" went on a hunger strike last year, it suggests there are not sufficient protections for prisoners rights.

And the whole transgender issue complicates things immensely, and I don't know how to deal with that at all. And even for ordinary people, I do see how anyone has a "right" to medical expenses for gender transition, and in 99.9% of time and places of humanity's existence, there would be no right at all. If God cursed you with a confused identity, that's your burden in life to carry, and not the world's fault for not accepting you complete as you want to be seen. And for prisoners, do you put a trans-person in prison with their old or new gender? It's all hopeless to me.

On the other hand, if you're wealthy like "Caitlyn" Jenner, and you want to spend your own wealth and reputation to try to convince people that you really are a woman trapped in a man's body. And apparently our president-elect is not offended or embarrassed by support from Jenner, or which restroom "she" wants to use, even while he is supported by a party that freaks out over potential perverts calling themselves transgender to play peeping Toms, or worse, in the women's restrooms.
North Carolina should allow people to “use the bathroom they feel is appropriate,” Donald Trump said this morning of the state’s new law that bans people from using bathrooms that don't match the sex indicated on their birth certificate.
Asked whether Caitlyn Jenner would be free to use any bathroom she wanted if she walked into Trump Tower, he said, “That is correct.”

So now Jenner seems to believe a Trump presidency will allow voices like "hers" to continue promoting trans-rights. And in the very least, perhaps Trump is correctly neutral here where the whole issue is a distraction and its republicans who are wasting time and energy fighting this issue while the economy and jobs should be the issue that needs attention.

Somehow Trump's scapegoating rhetoric has so far avoided transgenders. He'll call women pigs, and perhaps he'd call a transwoman a pig as well, but only if she deserved it, i.e. said something mean about Trump.

And back to Obama, and his apparently wide use of presidential powers to grand clemency, like mostly on 3-strikes-you're-out life-prison sentences of nonviolent offenders.

However carefully done, NO ONE can say these actions can ever be "fair", and perhaps 10% or more of those who benefit will end up back in prison or make bad choices after they're freed, while thousands of others might have fared better at a second chance, and we can never really know. So clemency must always be considered about undeserved mercy than anything to do with justice. Some people win the lottery, most don't, some benefit when they win, but many will squander their winnings.

Ares Olympus said...
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Ares Olympus said...

p.s. It looks like all the clemency cases were not all nonviolent.
López Rivera is one of the US’s, and the world’s, longest-serving political prisoners. Aged 73, he has spent more than half his life behind bars. He is convicted of killing no one, of hurting no one. His crime was “seditious conspiracy” – plotting against the US state in the furtherance of Puerto Rican independence. He still believes in what he calls that “noble cause”: full sovereignty for his Caribbean birthplace that is classified as a US “territory”.

But his views on how to attain that goal have changed. Two decades ago he and his fellow Puerto Rican independence fighters renounced violence and embraced peaceful political reform. The last year in which the militant group to which he belonged committed a violent act was 1983.
He was picked up in 1981 at a traffic stop in Chicago and charged with seditious conspiracy – a very rare count of plotting against the US state that was first used after the civil war against southern refuseniks and then applied to anarchists and socialists before being turned against Puerto Rican independistas like himself.

Calling him a "political prisoner" sounds funny, but apparently its legal based on the charges since there was no proof of his personal involvement in any deaths.

It makes me wonder what happened to all the generals of the Southern army after the Civil War. I see some history here...
On May 29, 1865, President Andrew Johnson issued a Proclamation of Amnesty and Pardon to persons who had participated in the rebellion against the United States. There were fourteen excepted classes, though, and members of those classes had to make special application to the President. Lee sent an application to Grant and wrote to President Johnson on June 13, 1865:

Being excluded from the provisions of amnesty & pardon contained in the proclamation of the 29th Ulto; I hereby apply for the benefits, & full restoration of all rights & privileges extended to those included in its terms. I graduated at the Mil. Academy at West Point in June 1829. Resigned from the U.S. Army April '61. Was a General in the Confederate Army, & included in the surrender of the Army of N. Virginia 9 April '65.

On October 2, 1865, the same day that Lee was inaugurated as president of Washington College in Lexington, Virginia, he signed his Amnesty Oath, thereby complying fully with the provision of Johnson's proclamation. Lee was not pardoned, nor was his citizenship restored.

Three years later, on December 25, 1868, Johnson proclaimed a second amnesty which removed previous exceptions, such as the one that affected Lee.

People who consider themselves at war against an "occupying government" are certainly fairly called terrorists, but once the danger has passed, apparently it is possible and sometimes even prudent to offer pardon or clemancy to people who would otherwise deserve death or life imprisonment under the law.

I suppose the coming battles of "states rights" with self-declared militia will be testing the limits of their constitutional rights to use weapons to defend themselves and what they consider theirs, whether western ranchers, or native Americans defending their water against oil pipelines.

But in general it looks like the best call is the Gandhian approach of being provocative, and the documenting an overly aggressive government authority is a better bet than armed rebellion or bombings which are basically excuses for state powers to use "all force necessary" to neutralize your rebellion. (And the same trick exists for governments to use provocateurs and propaganda to paint protestors as violent, so a double-reason to keep your own ranks in order while you appeal to public sympathy.)