The Obama Administration is sending mixed messages this week in relation to the NSA leaker. Edward Snowden, the now 30 year old hacker who released confidential records that were said to be of serious and utmost security for the US, is getting what seems to be a quasi-pass from President Obama. In a recent speech, President Obama gave an at best unemotional and at worst a “below my pay grade” response in relation to his handling of Snowden, a message which was received with much criticism among Republicans and some Democratic pundits alike.

The President, who has been snubbed by both Russia and China in their aiding of Snowden, appeared to be unaffected by the Snowden case. Asserting that he would not rank this at the top of the priority food chain, he served to create confusion as to the seriousness with which his Administration was taking the violation. Snowden has been panned as providing some of the most crucial information to our enemies in a treasonous attempt to create hysteria and anger over the security measures with which government officials have been taking, including surveillance of private phone records. Secretary of State John Kerry seemed outraged by the act, with Speaker John Boehner and Senator John McCain not far behind in their outrage. Yet, the President took a more relaxed stance, seeming to disdain reporter questions about the hacker. In essence, he appeared bored by the question, aloof, and not quite as concerned as those in his own party.

What must anger the President over this situation is that his strength and influence is being called into question. Though he labels this issue as one that is in the police jurisdiction, there is no doubt that the snubbing by Russian and Chinese officials have challenged his own perception of his influence. It could be that he simply does not care or see Snowden as a threat or he it could be that he has not enjoyed the lack of power behind his words in international affairs. Time will tell how the conflict is resolved, but there is no doubt that the world perception of the President has weakened… whether he admits it or not.

The recent news cycle is replete with celebrations of the SCOTUS rulings on same-sex marriage. Activists on both sides of this very personal and contentious issue are either joyous or despondent depending on which side of the issue they find themselves.

I myself am sorrowed – but not for the reasons you might think. I see the frothing activists and sign-waving chanting protestors screaming at each other on the steps of the Supreme Court and wonder what has happened to this country. We have abandoned the legislative process for social change and replaced it with an ad-hoc random judicial circus which places the most important legal, social, and cultural issues of our times in the hands of nine unelected jurists. Four of them lean conservative. Four of them lean liberal. One man – Anthony Kennedy  – decides for a nation of 300 million people.

Yeah. That’s a recipe for disaster right there.

If you listen to the MSM, you’ll learn that the Supremes handed down two major rulings on same sex marriage yesterday. On one hand, the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), passed by Congress and signed by none other than President William Jefferson Clinton, was declared invalid on its face. Fine. That’s very cut and dried. I’ll skip the news of Clinton celebrating the judicial invalidation of a law he signed because I’m simply tired of hypocrisy today.

The second ruling had to do with the very contentious amendment to the Constitution of the State of California known as Proposition 8. This ballot initiative was passed on the same ballot that elected Barack Obama to the Big Chair in 2008. 52% of California’s voters followed the law as laid out in the State Constitution and defined marriage as a union between a man and a woman. Thus the State Constitution was legally and lawfully amended by the citizens of that state.

You may not like that process. You may find those people who voted for that proposition to be bigots and homophobes and you may resent the enshrinement of what you consider to be bigotry in the State Constitution. You may believe you have the overwhelming majority of public opinion behind you in your belief. Fine. The bottom line is, in America the only poll that matters in defining the law is the one take on Election Day and when the votes were legally and lawfully counted your opinion was outnumbered.

Them’s the breaks. If you don’t like that, it’s up to you to garner enough votes to change the law with which you disagree.

That’s the way America works. Spare me the lectures on fairness, equality, and justice. The whole “Equal Justice Under Law” concepts applies to everybody – including those who hold an opinion different than yours. Under the Rule of Law this is how it works.

Unless you’re Arnold Schwarzenegger and “Moonbeam” Jerry Brown in 2010. When the Anti-Prop 8 crowd brought the much anticipated lawsuit against the implementation of Prop 8, Arnold and Jerry made the decision that the State of California would not defend the legally and lawfully passed amendment to the State Constitution. In other words, they simply up and decided to abdicate their constitutional duty to defend their State Constitution because they personally disagreed with the voice of the people.

Lest you doubt my reasoning in accusing Arnold of violating his oath of office, here’s what he swore to do when he ascended to California’s Big Chair:

“I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of the State of California against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of the State of California; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties upon which I am about to enter.” (Emphasis Added)

The Governor is the State’s Chief Law Enforcement Officer. It is his job to enforce all the laws of the state – even those with which he personally disagrees. This duty is what separates our society from the arbitrary-ness associated with two-bit dictatorships everywhere else in the world. Arnold’s duty was to defend the law regardless of his personal opinion. Even people accused of the most heinous of crimes are afforded a competent defense by counsel at their trial. By abdicating this duty, Arnold put the 52% of California voters beneath even the lowest of criminals.

Because Arnold abdicated his constitutional duty, citizens of the State of California banded together to defend the legally and lawfully passed ballot initiative. When SCOTUS ruled on Proposition 8 yesterday, it did not decide the constitutionality of the issue. SCOTUS simply ruled that the citizens group did not have “standing” to defend the case. That duty, they said, is the exclusive domain of the state government.

This sets in quickly drying concrete a dangerous precedent – and where SCOTUS is concerned, precedent is important. While you may applaud the ruling on its face value, the devil is always in the details. Now a chief executive can simply decide for him/herself what laws they will choose to enforce and defend. Imagine for a moment a right leaning governor of a fictional state who – after reading this decision – decides that he will no longer enforce the legislative under-pinnings  of the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision simply because he finds it unconstitutional. You may scoff at such a possibility but I bring it up only to illustrate the unforeseen penalties related to the Law of Unintended Consequences.

For the time being, proponents of same sex marriage are going to take their victory lap. I’m sure many a wedding will be planned and tens of thousands of ugly dresses will be purchased with promises that they can be tailored to fit any shape and of course can be re-used as evening wear next summer. Horrifically overpriced flowers will adorn inedible cakes and the Wedding Industrial Complex will get its own version of a custom made economic stimulus package. Go forth. Be happy. Good luck with all that.

Just remember that, in the end, how you get what you want is oft times more important that getting it. The newly blazed trail can, and most likely will, be used by someone else whose goals and objectives are diametrically opposed to your own. The next time a governor or state attorney general decides – in an arbitrary or capricious manner – to ignore the law of the land based solely on his personal beliefs, that law may well be one that personally affects you. The shoe will then be on the other proverbial foot as will all the other proverbs associated with that metaphor.

In the mean-time, cheers to the happy couples. Enjoy your cake and finger sandwiches.

Here endeth the lesson.

Wednesday Open Thread

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Filed Under Congress on Jun 26 

The result of the Massachusetts Senate election concluded in less than favorable results. Democrat Edward Markey won the election against Republican opponent Gabriel Gomez. This was one of the few important elections this year. Markey will take the Senate seat of former Senator John Kerry who left his seat to become Secretary of State.

As a result of this election, Democrats have a 55-46 majority over Republicans in the Senate. Markey will only be in the Senate seat for a year and a half which is the remainder of John Kerry’s term.

The man behind the NSA scandal is on the run…literally. Edward Snowden has been jumping from location to location and country to country in an attempt to escape the United States government. The man that is an enigma, a hero to some and a villain to others, is running around the world hiding from what could be a problematic fate in the US. His goal is to find asylum and protection as a refugee in a country that will embrace him for his sabotage (or whistleblowing whatever your personal belief).

The problem is not so much the uproar over Snowden’s movement. It is the blatant hypocrisy for which the man stands. The young man who supposedly is a beacon of freedom and revelations on the activities of the NSA is now hiding behind countries that stand for nothing of the sort. From China to Russia, the young expatriate is heading to locations that are known for shutting down media, having closed discussions, and directing scripted discussions among their own citizenry. The irony of his movements is assuredly not lost on him.

The awareness that Snowden brought to a problem is not the issue at hand directly. There is a sound basis for criticizing the reach of the government in this case. While the political parties fight out whether or not he is a hero or villain, with Republican Speaker John Boehner falling solidly on the side of harsh criticism, the real issue is how these other countries are protecting him. With Russia and China both seeming to protect the young man, there is a direct message being sent to the leaders in Washington and, specifically, the Obama Administration: Your opinion doesn’t matter. This may come as a shock to the global President who tries hard to treat well the enemies of this country or stand in line with causes that are detrimental to the United States, but the fact remains that he is not the end all be all when it comes to other leaders. He is simply the leader of the United States, a country that they hate and that they see no real value in at their core. Maybe this will wake our Commander in Chief up to understanding that no matter how hard he tries to appease those who dislike us he will not change their hearts or minds and is only making us weaker in the process. Chances are, however, his ego will remain unchallenged by this blatant disrespect and he will continue the world apology tour he started before his presidency ever began.

The Senate voted this week to push forward a bill on immigration that has been the beneficiary of much praise and much criticism. In a 67 to 27 vote, Senators made the decision to end talks on an amendment that was added just recently. The vote signified more than just the pushing forward of a bill that could legalize the presence of millions of illegal immigrants in the country. Rather, it is an indicator that the bill will proceed with success and passage through the upper branch of Congress and be ready to be signed into law, much to the chagrin of many Republican Party members.

The bill has been under scrutiny for its perceived weakness on border security. The amendment, added last week, was meant to silence the naysayers by adding elements of heightened control of the border. The amendment would increase the amount of border patrol agents to double the number now on stationed there. Further, the fence is expected to increase per this amendment hundreds of miles beyond its current stature.

The 119 page bill has numerous intricacies and additives, however, which are raising concern. Senator Jeff Sessions, a Republican from Alaska, has warned that this is a bill that is harkening back to ObamaCare where there was such a rush to pass that the details were not fully understood. His point may be a valid one as both House and Senate leadership are urging a quick passage of the bill with Senator Harry Reid hoping for a pre-July 4th vote.

The idea that a bill this big and robust, meant to overhaul the immigration system as it is currently structured, is being seemingly pushed through without full consideration should be viewed as concerning. It could take years to unravel the benefits and the hidden traps in the law and, ultimately, the country may be a less secure one as a result. Time will tell how far the President’s push goes and how weak the bill truly may be. But, if it is anything like ObamaCare, it may do much more harm than it could possibly do good.

The Immigration Bill is coming closer and closer to a vote in the Senate. Republicans and conservatives are coming under fire from both leadership and their constituents about the bill’s nuts and bolts. It is a concern of many that the Party is not taking a strong enough stance on border security, leaving last minute amendments hanging in the air that could begin to build a coalition among the Party elite and moderates alike. The infighting, however, has become a public display with Democrats sitting back and watching. Though the bill would be one that would affect their constituents equally, Democratic Senators are taking the backseat in promotion and support of the bill, but why?

There are clear reasons why Democrats are putting efforts elsewhere in their legislative efforts. First, and foremost, is the fact that the Republican’s public bickering is beneficial to their causes. A party that is not unified is easier to break apart when the time comes. Like a snake in the grass, they are waiting for the appropriate time to exploit this fighting and either use it to divide and conquer or simply point out the perceived inadequacies of their opposition.
Another reason that Democrats are pulling back in their conversation regarding the immigration debate is because they feel they have the constituency that it would most affect, Hispanic and Latino immigrants, are strongly in their camp.

The champions of immigration rights (illegal and legal) is a self-ascribed adjective that the Democratic Party provides themselves, with good reason based upon past national elections. They feel as if taking a subservient role, yet active in the Gang of 8, can work to their advantage. Simply sit back and wait for the opportunity to criticize when it presents itself, a tactic that may serve them well if the fighting and bickering among the GOP continues.

The NSA is charged and under scrutiny on Capitol Hill and in the public for their investigation into technology and communications. The agency has been alleged to have searched everything from Facebook to Google to Verizon communications. The idea of the government having such a far reach is highly disconcerting to many Republicans and Democrats alike. However, NSA top officials have said that the programs that they have developed and implemented, a continuation and expansion of many Bush Administration policies, protected Americans from numerous terrorist attacks.

The question of the NSA and the whistleblowers from various agencies have raised the question of security in a post 9/11 world. Following the September 11th attacks there was an understandable panic that spread through the country. The USA had been attacked by radical Islamists who sought to destroy this country via its financial sector. The goal was to tear us down and it understandably resulted in panic and fear, as well as a belief in the need for further protection.

The government of the USA has been since its inception running spy operations and surveillance on those that could potentially pose a threat. But, in the modern age where technological records could track even the innermost actions and thoughts, there was, arguably, more access to personal information regarding citizens and non-citizens alike. After September 11th, the Patriot Act was enacted which gave the Federal Government a broader reach in the name of security.

There is no doubt that there has to be some surveillance and research on those who may attack us. We want to be protected by our government and like to think that they are working to keep us safe from outsiders. But, in so doing, we must realize we are giving up liberties and our own privacy. There is a thin line that must be walked between security and true freedom. Both Republicans and Democrats should take heed and be prepared to answer the tough questions honestly, if that is possible. There are no easy answers but their are definitive lines that must be made.

The infighting on Capitol Hill among Republicans continues over the immigration bill. The bipartisan legislation, worked on by Senators Rubio and Graham both, is coming closer to a vote. The bill, which is believed to be light on border security is causing what could potentially be a major rift in the Republican Party. While some Republicans are strongly in support of what is considered by many to be a “flawed” piece of legislation, others see it as the key to victory in 2016.

Senator Graham warned that blockage of the bill would be a lethal action by the Republican Party. He asserts that this would just continue the party’s failure to reach out to immigrants and garner the Latino and Hispanic vote if those threatening to block actually do. Other Party representatives state, however, that they can simply not support a bill where border security is not prime consideration. It is the containment of the border, the critics say, that matters most to Republican Party members and voters, not amnesty.

Whether intentional or not, the conversation regarding immigration that the President pushed for is clearly causing rifts in the Republican Party. The rush to provide legislation which meets the masses expectations is leaving the Party in a potentially problematic position. Suddenly, the image of a unified party (or the feigned presence of one in opposition to the President) is falling short. Public displays of tension and obvious problems with coming to a unified, majority opinion is showing to the masses (or those paying attention) that the Republican Party is in disagreement over a very key issue in the public’s eyes. Where and how this debate is ended is not yet known. Many officials on Capitol Hill are catering to the Party hierarchy rather than taking into consideration what they are sacrificing in the process.

Imagine, as an American citizen, going to Iran and being welcomed with open arms. Imagine a government that would allow you to speak freely and openly about political and religious beliefs. Imagine that when visiting Iran you were entering into a country that was so politically open and standard-free that you could actually vote or show allegiance via polling stations during American Presidential election cycles. Too far-fetched? Too unrealistic? Assuredly so but that is not stopping movements by some extreme Iranian Americans who are currently participating in these activities throughout the United States.

It was announced this week that the Islamic Republic of Iran is planning on having nineteen polling stations open in the United States where Iranian Americans can have their say (politically speaking only) in the Iranian Presidential election. The stations are being set up in Texas, California, and other states throughout the country. Though the vote itself is likely to be meaningless, the effort at allowing some sort of polling center is meant to send the far reach of radical Islam into the core of the American way of life.

The idea of having Iranian polling stations throughout the United States is not something that should be taken lightly. It is not an arbitrary vote and allowing it openly and without the appropriate restrictions and current enforcement of US law is appalling. Republican and Democratic leaning individuals alike should be terrified by this move. Paranoia it is not to be wary of Iran increasing its hand into the American populace. Thought the Obama Administration and many liberals are afraid to say it, this country and countries around the world are at war with radical Islam. Voting and polling are just voting and polling until one country wishes the other death and complete annihilation. It is time that the freedom loving nation recognized that Islam in its radical form is a threat and actions like this should be stopped. But, in a government that did not even know that the Boston Bombers attended a mosque founded by a convicted terrorist, this is probably seen as a great thing.

Partisan bullies

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Filed Under Obama News on Jun 14 

I humbly point you to George Will’s latest prose despite the fact it resides on the website of the Washington Post. He’s done some digging and found that past behavior can often be used to predict future results and this is true in the case of the now infamous IRS executive Lois Lerner. Will’s research and facts are undeniable and he comes to this conclusion:

Lerner, it is prudent to assume, is one among thousands like her who infest the regulatory state. She is not just a bureaucratic bully and a slithering partisan. Now she also is a national security problem because she is contributing to a comprehensive distrust of government. (Emphasis added)

Read the whole thing.

Here endeth the lesson.

 

Marco Rubio, the poster child of Republican hope these days, has been under fire for comments made in a Univision interview. The Senator from Florida asserted that the plan for immigration, one which he seems to back, is that first comes the legalization then securing the borders. As anyone who follows politics could guess, this revelation did not sit well with those on the right who believe that securing the borders is the first step in the immigration battle. Rubio, who is part of the Gang of Eight working in the Senate for immigration reform legislation, seems to contradict himself with this statement, as noted by those following the discussion closely.

Rubio has asserted that he could not fully support the immigration bill that he helped to develop in the Gang of Eight. He asserted that the strength of the border is paramount to a bill that he will show full support to, a position echoed by many in the Republican Party. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has said he has doubts about the proposed legislation asserting that the border security issue is not a done deal. It is the work of the Senate, in McConnell’s opinion, that will determine where this bill goes and with serious doubts among Republicans, it is likely to be an uphill battle.

Rubio’s previously strong stance and openness about a need for a secure border and where it fit in his list of priorities for immigration bills has left many on the right scratching their heads and others furious by his claims on Univision. Pundits from Glenn Beck to Ann Coulter and more are lambasting him for being a RINO. It is leaving many trying to figure out Rubio’s true motives and positions and others already writing him off of the 2016 ticket. Time will tell if these statements can be forgiven among top Republicans and pundits but Rubio is feeling the weight of his words.

For those of you who still have not heeded The One’s admonition to learn a language other than English, I will condescend from my multi-lingual enlightenment and translate the post title for you mono-lingual knuckle-draggers. The phrase comes from the medieval Latin and is roughly translated to “Who watches the Watchmen?”

Someplace in Hong Kong, there’s a 29 year old punk who has made international headlines with an allegedly revelatory scandal claiming that the United States Government has set up an enormous digital Hoover vacuum which is currently sucking up phone records for every man, woman, and child making calls in the United States. Some people are (rightly or wrongly) outraged that the government of the Land of the Free would engage in such activity.

You may be outraged at the enormous trove of electronic information absorbed by the guys and gals over at Fort Meade  – home of the National Security Agency. What you shouldn’t be is surprised.

Only the truly naïve can believe cyber-space is not a front in the Global War on Terror. Yes, Dear Reader, there is still a war going on and most of it takes place in the digital realm. This realm knows no geographical boundaries and there are few laws governing activity therein. Were the United States Government not using any and every available asset to fight this digital war, We the People would be justifiably irate with said government because government’s first role is to protect its people.

There are those who get their unmentionables in a Gordian knot when they think about this kind of thing. Some years ago I commented on Naomi Wolf’s “Hot Molten Crazy” Huff Po meltdown. I haven’t heard much from her since. I assume she’s coated  the inside of her apartment with tin foil to keep the government mind control rays at bay.

The bottom line here is the majority of Americans live very boring lives and the NSA doesn’t have the time, interest, or inclination to dig through your emails to your Aunt Ethel asking her for the secret family fruitcake recipe.

Perhaps I am in the minority, but I want my government to be good at spying. I echo the declaration of the great American philosopher Dennis Miller when he admonished then DHS Secretary Tom Ridge:

Look, Tommy, I don’t care if you’re gonna spy on me, but if you do, just do a good job. I don’t want to hear you breathing on the other end of the phone!

The problem we as a country face now is we no longer trust the watchers of the Watchmen. The Obama Administration has become over run with ideologically driven bureaucrats who feel duty bound to enact in policy what they hear their President declare from the Bully Pulpit. If you can find me a more palatable reason behind the IRS “conservative group” targeting scandal I’d really like to hear it. The same can be said for PFC Bradley Manning and Wikileaks and the Edward Snowden and the current NSA debacle.

Say what you want about the W Administration’s failings but I dare you to find an example where the full force of the United States Government was brought to bear on private citizens in a manner similar to that employed by the IRS and other executive branch agencies against organizations and people whose politics are opposed to the sitting President.

I believe President Obama’s lasting legacy will not be one of fundamental transformation. It will be something far less illustrious. Obama has taken a country whose distrust of government was already encoded in its DNA and exacerbated it to the point that few people with trust government to fulfill its fundamental mission to protect its citizenry.

There is an old adage that political process is much like that of making hot dogs. You never really want to see either process in its entirety. The same can be said for the process of gathering, analyzing, and exploiting intelligence data and information. You really don’t want to know how it’s gathered or where it came from. You only want to know those who engage in it have the best interests of the country at heart and will use that information to defend the country and kill bad guys. The Obama Administration, by its willingness to exploit private information for political gain has given Americans reason to distrust those charged with watching the Watchmen.

That, Dear Reader, is a consequence for which We the People will pay a hefty toll for a very long time.

Here endeth the lesson.

Guns have long been a hot button issue in the United States. From when they are able to carried, where, and what purposes they can serve, the heinous acts of crime committed by INDIVIDUALS using guns have been the cause of much public debate. While some on the left believe that a relatively unarmed citizenry is the best option those right of center believed that the only way to protect society is with a gun owning population, the focus seems to have turned to children. No, not violence against children and the use of actual guns by our minor population (which would actually be something to discuss)… instead at focus lately in schools across the United States is how to remove all images, toys, and other gun-inspired play items from the hands of our youth. Big Brother? Are you there?

The idea that a Nerf gun, water pistol, or even a pop tart bitten into the shape of a firearm is going to incite violence in our youth is absolutely absurd. A toy gun is just a toy gun, unless it is taught to be something more. Yes, accidents happen and children are injured by actual guns. These are tragic circumstances that need to be addressed. But, to teach our children to fear everything gun related is equally as troubling.

The battle cry of the left and Democratic pundits is that exposure to guns is too much for children to handle. It will desensitize them to reality and make them see guns as toys. But, if we remove all references to guns, let children avoid playing cops and robber (in which the good guy should win and teach a valuable lesson of right vs. wrong), and remove all references to guns are we not equally preparing them for failure? A gun in the hands of a child is wrong when that child is not utilizing that for game hunting under supervision or if they do not have the respect for the weapon. Removing all notes or aspects of guns from children, however, will create an intrigue and a desire to potentially experiment with the weapons when they are within access.

There is no clear answer to how to treat guns and children. No one has the answers. But I find it a hard stretch to believe that removing Nerf guns and pop-tart pistols, and punishing kids that play, will reach the right end goal either.

The Cincinnati Office of the IRS is going rogue or so it would appear. The initial spark that lit the fire that has become the IRS scandal started when complaints began filing in about this particular IRS location. Officials in the IRS did their best to blame those in Cincinnati for utilizing their power inappropriately, but those lower ranking officials did not take the claims lying down.

The Cincinnati office and its employees take offense to Lois Lerner and other IRS officials explaining that their office was an anomaly, taking actions unbeknownst to the larger IRS family. The truth, as has been alleged by the Cincinnati employees, is that they were told to actively investigate and hold the applications for tax-free status for several conservative Tea Party organizations, and those with assumed to be similar viewpoints.

The office, in a sense, is now going rogue. Tired of the blame shifting, they are speaking out amidst the inquiry by Republican and Democratic Officials into how far this discriminatory IRS behavior extends. The two officials that are speaking out and saying where their marching orders came from should be praised. They are taking a risky position in speaking the apparent truth, the truth that so many of those following this story already know, that this was not a one office problem.

The claims of the Cincinnati officials could not have come at a worse time for Lois Lerner, who is clinging to her 5th Amendment rights with vigor and anger. She seems dismayed and frustrated that denial of improper action did not suffice in relinquishing her culpability in the situation. Her position is still unknown at this time and her likelihood of staying in power (as head of Obamacare implementation no less). Hopefully, Lerner will be seeing her way out of any federal, state, or local political endeavor but Administration officials seem slow to dismiss her or even blame her for the obvious. For the good of this country, Lerner’s exit will be sooner rather than later.

We want a government that is vigilant. A government that stands ready and willing to fight an enemy that stands knocking at the gates ready to bombard through if necessary to destroy the life and happiness of the American people. These threats are obvious to spot or come cloaked in a garment of pride in their deception and deceit. When the threat to liberty comes from within, however, it can be much more detrimental to the will of the people and the spirit of those who seek to defend it.

The National Security Agency is under investigation this week for data mining and trolling the accounts of numerous different technology sources. Specifically, phone records have been analyzed for different activities that may appear suspicious or cause alarm. Though in a post 9/11 world, where the Patriot Act has usurped a great deal of power and undermined several civil liberties in the name of security, many may think this program okay. It is the idea that we must stop the terrorist before they start to act or have the chance to hurt freedom loving people.

But, the problem becomes that it imbedded in the supposed rights that allow for an activity like this data mining and information search to occur is the idea that reasonable suspicion is enough to allow the search. The depth of the probe is unknown yet, and just what was the reasoning, who was targeted, and other information is still sketchy at this point. Regardless (and Republican leaders will tell you that yes… we know that Republicans are not unknown for this behavior as well), the idea that our government has an increased amount of police power is alarming.

We must not, as a nation, become so fearful of external threats that we allow our government to continue to take our rights away. We must not allow “national security” to become a catchall phrase or reasoning for removing our power as individuals. We must stay vigilant of our government, aware of the actions that they take, and hold them accountable with a clear head. Easier said than done.

In the most recent weeks, these sobering investigations remind me how disappointed I was when the votes were counted on Election Day. My conscience is clear because I never voted for the guy. However, I do share a society with the 51% of voters who did vote for this useless, manipulative, dishonest creep.

Years ago, I got it. It was a popularity contest. He’s undeniably a charismatic speaker, much like his democratic predecessor, Bill Clinton, and people believed what he had to say. Now I wonder how that 51% feels.

On the down side, it only just started. It’s disheartening to be in this great nation, and hear and see such dishonest revelations from our government, and this is likely just scratching the surface. Alas, it’s Obama’s last term, yet it has only just begun.

The investigation into the IRS’s illegal activities continued on Capitol Hill this week. The result was not only a better understanding of the depth of the tax agency’s investigation into conservative and Republican groups, but also just how disconnected some of the leaders of this country are from the American people.

Representative Jim McDermott (D) asserted in a hearing with members of IRS targeted groups that they were partially to blame for the investigation into their behaviors. He argued that the reason that they were the interest of the IRS was because they had chosen to pursue a nonprofit tax exempt status from the federal government. Referencing past behavior of the Bush Administration, McDermott took a page in passing the buck. The Federal Government is not the problem. The IRS is not the problem. It is the people’s fault.

McDermott was not without his critics. Amidst cheers from the crowd, former Vice Presidential candidate and current Representative Paul Ryan spoke up. Seemingly astonished by the (insane) and insensitive statement of the elder statesman. He reiterated perfectly to the panel of conservative targets the insanity that the room had just heard mumbled from the mouth of McDermott.

Of course, the exchange between Ryan and McDermott may not have been predicted in its entirety, but this is a narrative that has been building in the halls of congress and the White House for years. The usurpation of power and the sheer audacity, taken to new heights by the Obama Administration, to curtail civil liberties and declare unnecessary political enemies is astounding. Those elected or chosen to run the will of the people and bring it to fruition are instead attacking those who provide them with their ultimate power. When the people of the United States wake up and begin realizing that the IRS scandal (and cover-up) is a true threat to liberty, the country will begin to better its path. Representative Ryan assessed the situation best with his sheer astonishment at the blame shifting. When will the American people begin to show that same disgust?

Secretary of State John Kerry has announced his support this week for the UN gun treaty. The international organization’s gun law, in essence, states that a country (nation or state in context) would have to evaluate the transporting of guns to a second country or nation. The goal of these efforts would be to determine whether or not said second country would be using the arms for the purpose of human rights violations. The Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) does state that the sovereignty of a nation reigns supreme in domestic situations and arms trade, but the implications of these laws are quite frightening.

First and foremost, the question of giving up any rights (domestic and foreign) should be taken as a highly concerning for the United States. Acquiescing powers of arms trades and movements to second and third countries can greatly impact foreign policy and protection. Further, having to check with the UN Secretariat and report where guns are going may seem like a positive but giving our power over for approval is something that should anger Republicans and Democrats alike.

Of course, the left is sugar-coating this issue as a positive. They argue that this will work to help protect our nation and make sure guns are not found in the wrong hands. That would be great, if unicorns and rainbows and sunshine were perpetual realities, but as with many things, there are tremendous concerns. Republicans on the Foreign Relations Committee and throughout Congress are nervous that signing this treaty could be used to control and restrict citizens. Further, they (like those of us who are wary of giving our power to other countries) are concerned that giving over power to an exterior, international group could mean disaster and the release of power we can never get back. All of these are real concerns, and Republicans are rightfully working on legislation that would curtail and intervene in the direct signing of the Treaty by the U.S. Time will tell if their efforts will yield results but the debate is sure to be a hot one.

Do you think the ATT is a good thing or is it another relinquishment of power?

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius has not been able to escape the scrutiny of potential scandals on Capitol Hill. The Obama appointed Secretary has found her way into a less publicized scandal that has some Republican Congressional leaders on Capitol Hill angry and frustrated. Sebelius is accused of securing funds from private entities to be used in ObamaCare related efforts. Though the question of illegality remains, it is the ethics of her decision to solicit money that is an ever growing issue for many on the right.

The issue with Sebelius’ request for money is not that she is seeking donations per say. Her office has asserted that seeking monies for private enterprises and agencies is not unheard of and not illegal. The problem comes from the obvious conflict of interest in the acquisition of funds and what they are to be used for. Sebelius is alleged to have, and so far has not denied, that money was sought from private organizations and given to groups that were given the task of signing up individuals to be part of the new ObamaCare plan.

Republicans are highlighting the conflict of interest and encouraging the Department to start an independent investigation into the depth of the relationships and whether or not financial laws were broken. Further, Republican leaders are also encouraging this independent investigatory team to look into the ethical implications as well. Is it right for an agency, whether or not they are able to do so or not, to promote and ask for donations for a program that they helped create, implement, and are trying to gain support for? Republicans want to know and they want to know now.

This scandal or potential scandal is a quieter one, behind Benghazi, the IRS, and wire-tapping. It’s implications for Sebelius’ future seem less threatening at this point. The quiet nature of the issue may be just what she needs to keep it this way.