James Lankford, Republican Representative for Oklahoma’s 5th district, has won the GOP primary for retiring Sen. Coburn’s seat. The Tea Party candidate gathered up more than 50% of votes to avoid a runoff and now heads to the November race. T.W. Shannon, also Tea Party, lost out in what was an aggressive campaign between the two candidates, each claiming superior conservative credentials, and Lankford´s campaign supporters criticizing T.W. as being backed by out of state politicians and groups. There was little daylight between them on most issues but Lankford is the clear winner on this one, while there is no doubt that TW, House Speaker of the State Legislature, still has a bright future.

Certainly, Lankford, in 3 short years, (especially by Washington standards), has stepped into some important roles in the House. As chairman of the House Policy Committee, he has the 5th ranked position in the Republican Caucus and sits on the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. That’s a good place to put into practice some of the reforms on issues he has spoken out over. It’s about “getting Washington out of our families” rather than his family going to Washington as he punningly put it. He also has deep experience in the Oklahoma Baptist Convention and was former director of a Christian Youth Camp.

The interesting question is, how much space will start to appear between Tea Party Candidates in upcoming elections? Right now, it’s mostly about who has the most rock-solid conservative credentials and the themes seem to line up fairly consistently – from libertarian values like opposition to Obamacare and big government in general, to conservative topics like rolling back gun control. Maybe the Tea Party will remain a unified wing within the Republican Party, charged with trying to keep the party’s path heading in what they believe is the true direction. Whether at some point Tea Party and Republican will essentially become synonymous, or whether they will remain a conservative wing of the party is still a long way from being decided. Time will tell.

Two weeks ago GOP House Majority Leader Eric Cantor was soundly and unexpectedly beaten by tea party favorite David Brat in Virginia. Immediately the left was screaming that radicals had come to dominate or at least control the agenda of the GOP. Meanwhile on the right, tea party types declared it an absolute victory while the establishment sought to find excuses for the loss. More importantly, Cantor’s loss was seen as the beginning of a possible trend that would be played out across the country in the weeks that followed where establishment incumbents would be ousted by more conservative opponents in primaries. If the results of Tuesday’s primaries are any indication though, the tea party is in no position of dominance.

In primaries from New York to Oklahoma, from Mississippi to Colorado, tea party affiliated candidates were defeated. Now this isn’t to say that it was a total drubbing for conservatives as several races were extremely close. This is most true of the Senate race in Mississippi where incumbent Senator Thad Cochran had been trailing his tea party opponent Chris McDaniel. Cochran’s campaign team got their act together in the final week leading to less than a 2 point margin of victory over McDaniel. Though one must consider that Cochran’s extremely narrow victory was had by the votes of Democrats. Cochran had lost in the weeks prior to McDaniel but since neither secured over 50% of the vote a runoff was necessary, a runoff which non-Republicans could vote in.

Where Cochran’s margin of victory was minimal others weren’t such as Oklahoma Representative James Lankford who resoundingly defeated T.W. Shannon by over 25 points in a race to succeed retiring Senator Coburn. T.W. Shannon received the backing of numerous tea party groups while having the support of tea party favorite Senator Cruz. Elsewhere, incumbents cruised to victory over tea party opponents, several in races where both establishment and tea party groups had invested heavily in candidates.

So what does this all mean? Cantors loss was blown up into something it wasn’t. It was an aberration this year, not a trendsetter and most certainly not an indication of tea party dominance. Cantor acting as House Majority Leader is a national Republican and ambitious and in so much, he lost the support of his constituency. Furthermore his campaign was sloppy believing that victory was all but assured and buoyed by Cantor’s 2012 79 point victory of his tea party challenger then. Additionally several polls showed the complete opposite of what would transpire no doubt leading to overconfidence in Cantor team. Negative campaigning and political attacks on Brat also served to garner more support for the latter.

Despite all of this one can’t discount the tea party. Though small it has the power to make the difference in close elections. Despite losing in primaries, ideas of the tea party will find their way into establishment incumbents and candidates. Again though, the message is cast again that tea party candidates either can’t win or face tremendous hurdles in winning. In certain cases it is good for the party that tea party candidates didn’t prevail. In several races, their victory would have cast doubt on the potential for victory in November in seats that would otherwise be easily won by moderate Republicans. Furthermore, the GOP would be saved from pouring money into the campaigns of candidates whose eventual success would be in doubt.

Finally, I think one must take a step back and rebuke the talking point of the left that the tea party “radicals” control the GOP agenda. One needs to only look at the primaries that have been held this year to see that such an accusation or belief is false. I for one take joy in the left losing that talking point. Whatever the case, the Tuesday primaries showed that the moderates and establishment do and will continue to prevail. At the same time, they show that the tea party is still a force that has influence.

General Carl Von Clausewitz’s portrait is disappointingly elegant with his narrow face framed by hair that is brushed back to reveal a slightly receding hairline. But make no mistake, the mind behind that face was pure steel and his work, On War, is quoted as much as Hamlet nowadays. The fog of war, War as an extension of politics by other means: when we try to make sense of war in the 21st century, the Prussian General´s ideas are still very much with us. I’m not sure if Byron York or Bill Crystol have read On War cover to cover; most of us have dipped into it but perhaps not studied it as carefully as an officer at the United States Army War College say. Both have opined forcefully over the last decade or so on the Iraqi War and last week, Byron York, in the Washington Examiner, delivered an article somewhat critical of the pro-Iraqi War camp, including his colleague Bill Crystol. York suggested that an admission of inadequacies, if not failures, was necessary on the part of those who sought and executed the campaign, in order to move forward with a unified front against the current crisis in Iraq and Syria.

What would Von Clausewitz have said? In the Chapter “Ends in War More Precisely Defined” he states the following: “the individual causes, which no one knows who is not on the spot, and many of a moral (political) nature which are not heard of, even the smallest traits and accidents, which only appear in history as anecdotes, are often decisive. All that theory can here say is … a certain center of gravity, a center of power and movement, will form itself, on which everything depends; and against this center of gravity of the enemy, the concentrated blow of all the forces must be directed.” In Washington in 2014, with power and information spread across a multitude of agencies and branches of government, how best to apply those words of wisdom to conclusively defeat an enemy like ISIS? Unlike Rumsfeld, Von Clausewitz didn’t have to give an in depth interview with Jim Lehrer on the News Hour to justify the Iraqi War. Unlike the General’s times, we now have Representative Government accountable to voters. But the issue of how to determine ISIS center of gravity in such a fluid situation and how to deliver a fatal blow to that center of gravity is a priority now. Some sort of admission of errors committed in the past can help move us forward but the situation is moving too fast for partisan debates on who said and did what back ten years ago.

Confidence in Congress is at what must be an all time low. We can’t know for sure, because the Gallup survey in question only dates back to 1973. Respondents are asked to rate their own level of confidence in a fairly long list of American institutions. The latest results released show Congress right at the bottom and the military right at the top. Small business, the police, and the church or organized religion follow the military at the top. Just above Congress at the bottom are HMO’s, Unions, Big Business, Media, and Banks. Huddled together in the middle are the presidency, the medical system, SCOTUS, public schools, and the criminal justice system.

Is there a pattern here? One way to analyze the anger inherent in these results is to remind ourselves of the Declaration of Independence which will celebrate 238 years of life on July 4. Everyone remembers Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness, but what follows those world-changing words sheds a severe light on the current state of events. It states, “Whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.” The words refer directly to the British Monarch but are so overarching that they echo with dangerous tones over two hundred years later. What had the Monarchy of King George III done to cause such anger? Some of the grievances make for uncomfortable reading: The first three complaints have to do with George III’s refusal to pass, or give assent to, “Laws of immediate and pressing importance.” Then follows complaints about interfering with Legislatures and elections, as well as interfering with immigration and the judiciary. Then comes this one: ” He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people, and eat out their substance.” Its corollary, Taxes without Consent, follows a little bit later.

This is a declaration of war on unrepresentative government and while it is not the Constitution, the anger sharpened into words that still live and burn themselves into our conscience should always serve any government and any member of Congress as a reminder of what the People, as divided and diverse as they may be, seek throughout the country – and around the world: the freedom to pursue happiness with reasonable guarantees of safety. The ties that bind Congress to the voters are strained to put it politely. Lets see what further unravelling of those ties November brings.

Continuity and Graceful Exits

By

Filed Under Congress on Jun 23 

House Speaker Boehner had to move fast. On the night of Tuesday, June 10 House Majority Leader Cantor lost to David Brat. By Thursday next week, June 19, House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy would be the new House Speaker, voted in by GOP House colleagues in a rushed effort to ensure continuity of the current House Leadership. The Speaker ensures the Whip gets the Leadership, and it’s all about experience, fellow House Republicans have been telling the media. There is no doubt that McCarthy, as House Whip, had a few IOU’s he collected on, but time will tell how wise a choice he was. Maybe Boehner honestly felt he had no choice; the party had to vote quickly and move on, avoiding a damaging debate between moderates and conservatives. The problem is, that debate will continue to happen, whether the GOP House leadership wants it or not. Boehner has indicated he plans to hold onto the Speaker’s chair now that his heir apparent, Eric Cantor, will not be around to take it over from him. If Boehner resigns at some point, maybe after the November elections, then Jeb Hensarling may decide to run for the position, according to many. Maybe Boehner just wants a gracious exit from Washington D.C. and is setting the stage for just that. In that case, continuity of House Leadership has little to do with voter concerns – hardly a shock, but at this point couldn’t there be just a little soul searching on the part of the leadership? Debating a platform, even if that debate gets a little ugly, would mean the GOP can take advantage of the midterm elections which seems a whole lot more sustainable than hanging on until November to see which way the chips fall. Does the leadership feel there is no longer enough time to do that? Everything seems a little up in the air on the hill, but on the ground there’s a lot of voters who need to be listened to.

Suspected terrorist Ahmed Abul Khattala is under US custody aboard a Navy ship and on his way to America. After a swift US military and law enforcement operation in Libya, he will now face prosecution for his role in organizing the Benghazi attacks. The Obama administration along with the military have confirmed the capture this Tuesday. Unfortunately, the news from Iraq is less positive. ISIS continues to gain ground and it even appears that Iraq army personnel were told to abandon their posts in Mosul which has now been overrun by the former Al-Qaeda linked sunni extreemists. What do the experts tell us to do? Fahad Nazer, terrorism analyst and former political analyst at the Saudi embassy in Washington, warns America to proceed with caution in Iraq as they supposedly have in Syria. The reason? Don’t get the Sunni’s mad. He excoriates al-Assad’s brutality towards the opposition rebels in Syria and Prime Minister Maliki’s marginalization of sunni Iraqui’s is seen as a root cause of ISIS rise to military prominence. Al Qaeda are sunni – as are almost 90% of muslims worldwide – while Iran and Hezbollah are shia. Do people like Fahad Nazer have the Obama Administration’s ear?

A controversial but fascinating view is put forth by Joe Hoft at The Gateway Pundit’s website. It suggests that one can organize this Administrations actions around a very clear axis: support for sunni muslim organizations against shia organizations. What sect controls how much oil that ends up in the US seems not to be the driving factor, given the enormous boost of domestic production due to shale oil and gas as well as surging oil sands production in Canada. This seems to be ideological instead. To say Obama has deep sunni sympathies after spending part of his youth in Indonesia, (sunni of course), living with his stepfather and mother is probably a stretch, but it seems he has been well aware of the divide between the two sects of Islam from a much earlier age than most of us. Has this influenced his outlook? Barack Obama Sr. was born into a muslim family and converted back after a time in his youth as a Roman Catholic. Throughout his childhood, the President seems to have been surrounded – if at a distance – by Islam. Has this meant that he has consciously decided to back the majority sunni sect as part of his worldview? It is suspected that shiite Iran has made a deal with Al-Qaeda. Do the Administrations actions suggest that they as well are on the same side as Al-Qaeda in the civil wars now raging in the Middle East? One hopes that the nations interests are not being filtered in such a manner.

 

Last year, Lois Lerner, the director of the IRS Exempt Organizations Unit came into prominence due to revelations that her unit had specifically targeted a number of conservative tax-exempt organizations. Immediately the right slammed the IRS for its supposed selective treatment under a Democratic presidency. Lerner in a subsequent Treasury Inspector General audit into the matter answered what she knew to be and later revealed as planted questions concerning the matter and attempted to deflect the blame for the situation to subordinates even though this was proven wrong. Later after repeatedly invoking her Fifth Amendment right not to testify before congressional hearings she was found in contempt of Congress in 2014 over her refusal to testify. Now in further investigation, it has been revealed that e-mails from her time as director have been lost. Foul play or bureaucracy stupidity, you decide, whatever the case, awful.

Apparently, all the e-mails associated with the tenure in question of Lerner have been lost. Lerner has offered her explanation, “Sometimes stuff just happens.” Meanwhile the IRS has offered that it was a catastrophic computer crash that destroyed everything. Convenient when one considers how much this government spends a year on retaining information about private citizens through a variety of mediums. Now the IRS has stated that due to financial and computing constraints, emails on individuals’, computers from January 2009 to April 2011 “no longer exist.” The U.S. is willing to spend over $300 million on a fighter plane that doesn’t work but it can’t supply its senior bureaucrats with backup memory to cover even 100 gigabytes each of a single years’ worth of e-mails for the sake of record and ultimately transparency? Even if the story is true from Lerner and the IRS it is disgraceful in the end.

What I just can’t figure out is how conveniently her e-mails in question have disappeared. More revelations have revealed that the IRS has some fairly short term aimed e-mail policies that ultimately limit the amount of e-mail data that can be stored for a single year and furthermore, once a limit has been reached backup tapes are recorded over. What is the cost of backup records when one looks at the big picture? Though at the same time, e-mails that are “created or received in the transaction of agency business,” and or “appropriate for preservation as evidence of the government’s function or activities,” or “valuable because of the information they contain” are kept on record at the discretion though of the receiver.

Why isn’t there a standard policy on what is considered “official record” as such emails would be? Perhaps leaving the question to be answered by bureaucrats allows for questionable activity to occur which can be hard for investigators to follow and behooves many to push for the preservation of the system at hand. Or perhaps it’s a simple mistake, the gravity of which has escaped our bureaucracy until now when confronted with such a situation.

Is Lois Lerner lying? Who knows, she pled the Fifth enough and showed as much indifference to the situation where one might assume that she is. If she isn’t, well that shows that the American people can’t expect the bureaucracy to be held accountable to anything then if record keeping of its own actions is so poor. Regardless how the Lerner and IRS scandal play out, I firmly believe a more concerted effort should be made to increase the longevity of stored documents pertaining to correspondence between senior bureaucrats, I mean, this is a country that prides itself on transparency, right?

What Does Mexico Want?

By

Filed Under Foreign Affairs on Jun 18 

Sgt. Andrew Tahmooressi sits shackled in a Mexican prison since March 31, when the veteran took a wrong turn and crossed the border on his way to visit a fellow vet. Four Mexican soldiers did the same a while back and were released within 48 hours. Two very different countries, two very different legal systems. In a country where corruption is much more than a suspicion, one has to ask: what does Mexico want in return for the release of Sgt. Tahmooressi? And of course, what is the White House doing to bring him home? This wouldn’t be about the millions of illegals from Mexico, and other Central and South American countries, who crossed that same border to enter the USA? Does Obama’s White House understand that Sgt. Tahmooressi’s wrong turn is not a chip that Mexico can cash in to gain assurances that immigration reform, with some type of amnesty attached, is on the way?

House Judiciary Chairman (R-VA) Bob Goodlatte admits that any chance of the House passing a bill on immigration reform before the August recess is just about nil since Cantor’s defeat. He would like some sort of Republican position te be defined but, as even a moderate like him admits, border security has to be improved beofre anything else gets done. And any true border security requires trustworthy cooperation between the two or more nations that define a border. With Mexico that is just not possible for several reasons: Mexico does not want to curtail the flow of illegals as it solves unemployment problems and increases the remittance flows back into the country as illegal workers send part of their paychecks to their families in Mexico. As well, the flow of narcotics across the frontier has been a problem for as long, or longer, than the flow of illegal immigrants has. Who is involved in that illegal drug trade on the Mexican side of the border is a troubling question. Because of this, border security is a one way solution, with the American taxpayer funding the costs and American border and security officers putting themselves at risk to ensure those resources are well spent defending the border.

In other words, it is a matter of law, in the most fundamental sense. The legal framework and the Constitution which gave it life, and the courts which update and define the laws are the foundation of the country and the prime mover behind its success. Eroding that foundation to solve the problem of illegal immigration is a dangerous excercise with unforetold consequences. Mexico has to understand that and has to understand that the White House will – make that should – do everything to bring Sgt. Tahmooressi home, except grant amnesty to those who broke the law.

In the past several days, the Sunni militia group ISIS (the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant) has made massive gains in its campaign against the Iraqi government by taking Tikrit and Mosul. While some Iraqi military units have fought valiantly against these fundamentalists, many have just evaporated before the group. At no time in the past several years has Iraq faced a crisis as grave as this and if not dealt with soon, the government is in danger of falling. The Iraq of today which has cost the U.S. and our allies so heavily in blood and treasure since 2003 is coming undone and the President is dithering.

ISIS was formed shortly after the 2003 invasion in Iraq by Sunni extremists bent on creating a new Islamic caliphate. It has been responsible for numerous attacks in the past against Coalition forces and has had a strong presence in Syria. For numerous reasons, ISIS is hostile with many groups, some contradictory like the forces of Syria’s Assad and its opponent the FSA (Free Syrian Army). This is primarily due to their brutal tactics, inability to have sustainable working relationships with other groups and their ultimate goal which is incompatible with other groups. Al Qaeda has even viewed ISIS as too extreme. Regardless, ISIS has formed itself into a well-organized fighting force and its recent success in Iraq prove as much.

While ISIS has been a known threat for some time in Iraq, the most recent events are predated by the capture of Fallujah by ISIS this January. Fallujah is a mere 43 miles west of the capital Baghdad and since January, the Iraqi government has not been able to wrest control of it back. Now ISIS is preparing to advance further south into Shia regions (regarded by ISIS as infidels) and into Baghdad itself. I get the distinct impression that this was a threat that we should have been far more aware of and should’ve taken a much closer look at.

So why should the U.S. care? As I already said, we’ve spilt too much blood and spent too much treasure to have Iraq fall into flames. To allow such a situation to happen is a slap in the face to all the sacrifices made by the U.S., our allies, and the 100,000 plus Iraqis who have died over the past decade. Now I know the President is happy because in his mind he ended the war in Iraq as ending a war is something as simple as pulling out troops. Initially the administration offered limited response to this crisis, mainly typical ineffectual White House calls to end the violence and that we’re watching the situation closely with great interest. Now though the administration is considering the possibility of military action.

What I don’t understand is that in Iraq, a country we invested so heavily in that the preparation for the assault of Mosul and Tikrit by thousands of armed militiamen in an organized operation went apparently unnoticed. Is our intelligence in Iraq that bad that we failed to foresee this? Furthermore, the Iraqi government has requested U.S. airstrikes against ISIS, requests we immediately rebuffed. Only now is Obama saying that airstrikes are on the table but given the actions of this president in other situations I’ve learned to place a very small value on his words.

Iraq is falling. The government of Maliki is losing its support while the Iraqi military is running from fighting this tyrannical group. The Kurds seeing that the government can’t protect its citizens have called up the Peshmerga (Kurdish fighters) to occupy cities that the Iraqi military has withdrawn from while Shia groups are preparing to do defend themselves and do battle against ISIS. The government is teetering while the threat of full blown sectarian violence is real. This isn’t Syria or the Ukraine, this is Iraq, a country that for many Americans is much closer to home.

We have no problem launching drone strikes all over the Middle East to kill some bomb maker in this country or a propaganda chief in another. But when an ally is collapsing, we sit back. Now I’m not saying we need troops on the ground and I wouldn’t support that. This doesn’t mean we don’t have other options. We can provide intelligence that the Iraqi government seeks, the airstrikes which the Iraqi military isn’t capable of performing, and the public support that can show our resolve is real. In this situation, I just can’t fathom the indecisiveness and indifference by my president.

Now after well over a week since the prisoner swap story over Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl story broke, the Obama administration has decided to shift responsibility for it to Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel. After Hagel stated that the decision had been made by a group, the White House is now claiming that he “signed off” on the deal to hand the Sgt. over in exchange for the five Taliban prisoners. Now by law, Secretary of Defense Hagel is required to sign off on such a deal but I get the distinct impression that the administration is using Hagel as a scapegoat in light of the backlash it has received concerning the swap from all political corners. Regardless of how people might feel about Hagel and his policies and views, it is downright disrespectful and shameful for the administration to throw him under the bus this way.

I still have many questions over the story of Sgt. Bergdahl but I will reserve judgment on them until more information is released to the public and an investigation is conducted. I refuse to condemn the man and his plight over the past 5 years until the truth is revealed. What I will not stand for though is a man such as Secretary of Defense Hagel receiving the full brunt of criticism for this exchange before a full investigation is carried out. Fault Hagel for multiple defense-related issues that one might not agree with but to have him take the fall for this administration to save President Obama’s approval ratings from further falling is disgusting.

Secretary of Defense Hagel was brought into this administration under many questions from the right. For starters, he was a Republican who during his Senate tenure was very outspoken against the war in Iraq during the Bush administration, a position which failed to earn him any points in the heart of conservatives or those Americans interested in an active foreign policy. During his confirmation hearings in the Senate last year though, he for the most part faced criticism over his failure to adopt a highly supportive position on Israel and a hawkish stance on Iran; it was perhaps this issue that drew the most criticism of him and not issues that truly affect the U.S. military such as the dangerous increase in suicides or our declining technological advantage against certain possible future opponents.

Whatever the case, Hagel was confirmed as Secretary of Defense. Since then, Hagel has been accused of directly downsizing the U.S. military to dangerous levels, reducing the security of Israel, and caving into the Russians and Chinese to the detriment of U.S. security among other things. Now, while it may be true that SoD Hagel has supported positions that have played into these negatives, he isn’t the executive who signs off on them. While the SoD is “the principal assistant to the President in all matters relating to Department of Defense” large issues are not handled independently of the president. Don’t think for a second that the SoD operates in a closed environment.

Now to believe that the POTUS wasn’t highly involved in the Bergdahl exchange as this was the first time in how long that the U.S. has conducted a prisoner swap is absurd. Regardless, despite however you feel about the swap, one must accept the fact that it wasn’t solely the result of a decision made by the SoD but of multiple administration officials and at the top, the POTUS himself. Ever since the swap though, public approval of it has rapidly deteriorated as more negative information has emerged. Unfortunately for SoD Hagel, as public disapproval has mounted, so has the blame by the administration for the prisoner swap transitioned from the POTUS to Hagel.

Now I accept the fact that as a member of the public I’m not privy to all the information that is available and the absolute truth might never be known. Regardless whatever the situation concerning Bergdahl may be, it’s the approval granted by the POTUS and not SoD Hagel that secured his release. I for one am sick and tired of this administration and president deflecting blame for every action it takes and placing it on a subordinate. When will this administration adopt the policy of the “buck stops here” rather than always conveniently seeking out a scapegoat.

At the State of Massachusetts Department of Children and Families website, they tout the engagement of social workers, the partnership with unions, and the involvement of the legislature to help them meet their stated goals of keeping “children safe and families strong.” They might have added the courts as well. Juvenile court Judge Joseph Johnston, in a ruling over a year ago, scolded the girl’s parents for being abusive and unhelpful. Why? In a visit to Boston Children’s Hospital to see specialist Dr. Flores, the already wheelchair bound Jennifer arrived by ambulance and was held by an unnamed resident who refused to send her on the specialist Dr. Flores, and had a physiologist diagnose her rare condition — Tufts Medical Centre had been treating her for mitochondrial disease — as a mental disorder that was all in the girl’s head. The Massachusetts DCF took control of the girl, claiming “medical abuse” on the part of the parents who were furious when the intern tore their daughter from them. She spent about a year at the Boston Children’s psychiatric facility and was then transferred to the Wayside Youth and Family Network in Framingham. She is now in a facility in Thompson Connecticut.

Now the DCF has reversed itself and declared that Justine should be reunited with her family. Oops, our bad. The trouble is, it is still in the hands of Judge Johnston, who in the past has refused to take into account the original diagnoses of doctors at Tufts. In other words, an intern at the emergency room in a hospital has the power to take your child away from you and you have the full force of the State of Massachusetts DCF and juvenile court system against you. Don’t you dare get angry as you see your loved daughter wheeled off to the psychiatric facility because an ambitious young doctor has decided he or she, along with a psychologist, knows what’s best for your kid – despite the reasoned diagnoses of experienced practitioners at Tufts and the unconsulted expertise of a doctor at the very same hospital. You can’t get mad because you will be hit with medical abuse charges and they will keep your child. This is not just the case of a mistaken young doctor or a stubborn juvenile judge. This is a state apparatus weighing in with brute force against your right to raise your child in the best manner you see fit. The abuse has been solely on the part of the State of Massachusetts, against Justine, against her sister and parents, against the doctors at Tufts and even against Dr. Flores, the specialist at Boston Children’s Hospital, who was the only reason Justine showed up in an ambulance at the hospital. There needs to be a complete review of the DCF and the juvenile court system in Massachusetts to ensure they do what they should be charged with doing: protecting real cases of abuse and not turning a loving family’s life into a nightmare worthy of a socialist state run amok.

Listening to David Brat

By

Filed Under Congress on Jun 12 

While Eric Cantor will apparently be supporting Kevn McCarthy and Jeb Hensarling decides if he even wants the job of House Majority Leader, and as fellow Texan Pete Sessions throws his hat into the ring, it is interesting to take a look at the man who started this dance so to speak. The man who defeated a sitting House Majority Leader for the first time since the position was created just before the turn of the last century, Professor David Brat. He was outspent 40 to 1, although he did have some talk radio hosts like Ingraham, Mark Levin and Anne Coulter on his side. An economics professor and a devout Roman Catholic, he ran partly on immigration reform – against it to be more precise. Anger at the GOP by its very supporters is clearly far greater than the GOP orthodoxy has calculated or even bothered to consider. Within most of the media, the Tea Party has been seen as a fringe, a branch of the Republican Party that will eventually wither and return to its roots. This view is no longer possible and the biggest surprise of all seems to be within the Republican party itself. How the party reacts to this will be fascinating. Pundits are already claiming that Cantor’s stunning defeat shows you can’t play to both wings of the party. What no one seems to be saying yet, is maybe David Brat connected with voters in Virginia in a way Cantor is no longer able to.

Consider Brat’s reference to the “Republican Party of Virginia Creed” and its six principles: unqualified support for free enterprise; equal rights, justice, and opportunities for all individuals who in turn must assume their responsibilities in a free society that offers them those very rights; true fiscal responsibility at all levels of government; strict observation of constitutional limitations; a strong national defense as the best preserver of peace; and faith in God as essential to the moral fiber of the nation, as recognized by the Founding Fathers. Maybe this up to now unknown college professor has reminded the GOP and the nation of the principles that guided the US at its birth and as it grew into the world leader it has long since been. Maybe David Brat is an inconvenient truth for both parties, but to Republican voters in Virginia and many elsewhere, he’s a truth that bears listening to.

Alfonso Aguilar, ex Chief of US Office of Citizenship under George W. Bush, has criticized President Obama’s unwillingness to explain his deportation numbers, which are robustly high according to the Administration, That is, when Obama is speaking to a more conservative audience. What the President doesn’t do is explain the deportations to a Democratic, read Hispanic, audience. Aguilar is executive director of the Latino Partnership for Conservative Principles, launched in 2010 by the American Principles Project and focused on developing conservative grass roots movements in the Hispanic community. They have a five part immigration strategy: strengthening border security, a guest worker program that is generous, the promotion of patriotic assimilation, giving priority to criminal cases in domestic enforcement, and legalizing illegal immigrants but with a penalty attached rather than out and out amnesty. That’s an impressive agenda, and it throws up some interesting ideas but one of the main problems is where do you start? Which one comes first or do you try all 5 at once?

This is no easy matter, nor should it be. The aim of their reform has to be stemming the flow of illegals across the border and it makes sense to have a multi-pronged attack that makes it tougher to sneak across the border and lowers incentives to do so illegally. Tighter border security is obvious but how to spend an increased budget to get that done is key. A guest worker program depends on what business needs and wants but it also should depend on what registered voters want. How generous should it be while still claiming to be conservative? Patriotic assimilation seems tautological; shouldn’t all assimilation produce patriots who love the country they have chosen to move to? Whatever their creed or ideology? Well no, but that unfortunately is for another topic. Giving police the resources, legal as well as material, to pursue criminals who cross the border seems painfully obvious, but again necessary to state explicitly in these times. Legalizing with a penalty seems a tricky balance to achieve in practice but is far better than outright amnesty.

So Aguilar’s group has a plan that may help but implementing it will be difficult and most difficult of all, just like the difficulties the President is avoiding, will be convincing conservatives and Hispanics that it is a worthwhile solution in the quest for immigration reform. Let’s hope that the Latino Partnership for Conservative Principles continues to make the hard choices when speaking to their own community.

Hilary Clinton does not believe that the country, specifically the Congress, should be playing minor league ball. The deaths in Benghazi and Congress attempts to find out exactly what happened in what the evidence clearly suggests was a planned, terrorist attack by groups linked to Al-Qaeda, is not worthy of a great nation according to Clinton. To the four officials who died, her words are an offense and she must understand that, having attended the ceremony at Andrews Air Force Base in September of 2012 when the four heroes were returned home. Obama and Clinton were already spinning hard by that point, and the spinning continues. The credibility of Obama’s White House with regards to foreign policy and National Security, is at stake, as is Hillary Clinton’s run for the top job. Ambassador Stevens is the first US ambassador to be assassinated since Adolph, “Spike” Dubs was kidnapped and assassinated by rebel militant groups in Kabul in 1979 during Jimmy Carter’s presidency. Protecting the officials who themselves are responsible for the security and safety of Americans abroad is a cornerstone of any administrations foreign policy. When it goes badly wrong, it is the duty of Congress to investigate why it happened, to ensure it never happens again.

“The United States divides foreign policy powers between the President and the Congress so that both share in the making of foreign policy”. That’s on the State Department’s website in case Hillary and Obama forgot. It is a continual tug-of-war and it is intended to be that way. It is time for Obama and his administration to let Congress have the facts they need to advise and help shape foreign policy so that officials who work abroad can do their job with reasonable security backed by timely intelligence that does not prioritize spin and upcoming election campaigns. It is the least that the men and women who serve around the world can expect in return for that service.

Clinton, and others, might also want to be a little more careful about using the minor league metaphor as well. The farm system of Major League Baseball, has been a resounding success and the teams involved are spread across the nation and have storied histories and passionate devotees. It may be an inevitable habit, but is also an offense to a league that is at the heart of what America is and the spirit and culture that infused the lives of those brave men who perished in Benghazi.

Did Bergdahl seek out the Taliban? His team leader in Afghanistan, Evan Buetow, was present when a radio report revealed an American was seeking someone who spoke English so this person could talk to the Taliban. This was shortly after Bergdahl disappeared from his camp. Not only that, in the months afterwards, the Taliban’s attacks became far more precise as if they had been informed of the methods and likely reactions of the US military to an attack, according to Buetow. Did Bergdahl switch sides? Or was he forced to reveal information after idiotically seeking out Taliban members in a nearby village? If a former team leader of Bergdahl is aware of this information, how much else is known about Bergdahl? Was Bergdahl, (assuming his disappearance/desertion was idiocy and not something worse), then used by military intelligence to gain information about the crowd of terrorists he had decided to hang out with? Gaining back whatever advantage they could from what is looking more like treason with each passing day?

Included within Article 3 of the Constitution is the following: “Treason in the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort”. As more information becomes available about what exactly Bergdahl did, it may be that the homecoming awaiting him will have been for a traitor. Here again, intent matters, but the outcome does as well. How many died and suffered as a result of possible information he may have revealed? When does idiocy become treason? How much can be excused by virtue, (a perverse use of that phrase if there ever was one), of delusion? No one can dispute that Bergdahl chose to put himself in harm’s way in a part of the world most of us will be lucky never to have to brave. No one can doubt that combat stress is real and something most of us will never understand the way a veteran does. But this is starting to resemble Charles Robert Jenkins and his alcohol fueled crossing of the DMZ into North Korea in January 1965. Hoping to avoid a tour of duty of Vietnam and hoping, insanely, to be able to seek refugee status in the USSR, he made his mad dash and spent the better part of his life in the confines of that crazed Stalinist state’s communism. Bergdahl hss had a luckier life so far. But questions about his intent, as well as the consequences of his actions, grow darker by the hour.

In Illinois, if you care for a disabled family member in your own home with the aid of a state subsidy funded through Medicaid, you are deemed a public sector worker and you have to join a union; The Service Employees International Union,(SEIU). The dues annually pocketed by the SEIU from you and your fellow caregivers in Illinois adds up to about $10 million annually. You have a former governor, now in federal prison, Rod Blagojevich, who awarded the SEIU exclusive representation rights some 10 years ago. You have Democratic governor Pat Quinn deciding in 2009 that you are elgible to unionize and in the corresponding election both the SEIU and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees got less than 40% of the vote. But that doesn’t matter; the vote can be held over and over again until perhaps they get enough votes. So maybe, as a caregiver, you’re a little fed up.

Harris v. Quinn, which the Supreme Court should decide soon, is the result of 8 of those caregivers having challenged the view that they are public employees of the state. The resulting vote at SCOTUS may have a profound impact on labor across the country as it might provide a federal basis for right-to-work law, as detailed by Sean Higgins in the Washington Examiner. As the Supreme Court experts analyze the likelihood of an oveturning or modification of Abood v. Detroit Board of Education — it gave states the right to sign “exclusive representation” contracts for their employees — there is a more basic question. Why has this taken so long? The fact that, in most cases, a majority of union employees are not interested in paying dues and being members is not even a dirty secret. This is about the big, and sometimes, if not always, corrupt, business of big unions and their impact on political speech. No one who defends big labor would say politicians like Blagojevich are necessary to defend worker’s rights, so why defend a process that limits worker’s freedoms in fundamental ways and has historically been prone, to say the least, to corruption? The least SCOTUS could do is curtail the right by executive order for unions to run repeated elections until they get the result they want. It would be a welcome first step, and would let workers vote once and get on with their lives.

While military personnel are listed as deserters 30 days after going AWOL, desertion itself is generally defined by the military as a matter of intent. A Pentagon inquiry in 2010 concluded that Sgt. Bergdahl had walked away from his unit in 2009 and was perhaps naive and delusional, thinking that by doing so he could help the Afghan people. The military forces in Afghanistan limited their searches for him accordingly, all the while gathering intelligence on his possible whereabouts. Leaving your kit in a neat little pile and walking away from your outpost reveals intention by any standard. Whether that may have been the result of combat stress of some kind is another matter. The question then becomes; did Bergdahl go bonkers or did he desert? In the past few years, the Army has had to prosecute a higher percentage of desertions “in order to maintain the health of the force”, as Army spokeswoman Edgecomb stated in 2007. All the way up to 6% of deserters, leaving over 90% of deserters unprosecuted. Perhaps that percentage is appropriate when managing soldiers fighting a war, but the question remains, did Bergdahl desert? His fellow soldiers say definitely yes, and the Pengagon seems to have concluded the same if avoiding using the term.

The other question — why those five top Taliban terrorists? — can only be answered one way. When one looks at the moral hazard of the decision, it is obvious that the consequence will be an increased risk for Americans, (and others), around the world, whether civilian or military. President Obama and his staff must understand that but simply decided another priority was more important; negotiating with the Taliban in order to completely withdraw from Afghanistan. And in this context, the issue of Sgt. Bergdahl’s behavior on duty becomes secondary to the strategists in the Administration who need a positive story as they unwind the U.S. military’s role in that troubled nation and hand the country back to the same fanatical terrorists who drove it straight into the stone age.

Ever since the Russian annexation and incorporation of the Crimea earlier this year, news in the United States concerning the situation in the Ukraine has slowly dropped to a trickle. Americans like others have news fatigue and it’s inevitable that interest in stories will wane as time goes on. Unfortunately, the situation in the Ukraine, particularly in the East has vastly deteriorated and the region is now inching towards a civil war.

In recent weeks, the Ukrainian military has gone from being easily disarmed by unarmed pro-Russian protesters to actively engaging armed pro-Russian militants. While some may take comfort in the fact that sizable Russian military forces that had been amassed on the Ukraine-Russia border have since been withdrawn, a potentially more dangerous situation has emerged. A conflict between Russia and the Ukraine would be awful, disastrous for the Ukraine but would draw enough international attention and condemnation that it would be relatively short. The same can’t be said of an expanded conflict between a pro-Russian insurgency and the Ukrainian military which would be a long, drawn-out fight that would ultimately see increased civilian casualties.

While the Russian takeover of the Crimea was done with little blood, the fight to retake revolting portions of Eastern Ukraine hasn’t been, far from it. In recent weeks multiple ambushes and attacks have occurred with loss of life on both sides to the tune of over 200 and it is only getting worse. What’s more unnerving is that the pro-Russian insurgent’s aren’t solely using small arms such as pistols and sub-machine guns and improvised weapons such as Molotov cocktails. They’ve also been using RPGs (rocket propelled grenades) and other more deadly weaponry that can only have been obtained by raiding Ukrainian military munition dumps or which are being provided to them by external entities such as Russia.

On May 29th, a Ukrainian Mi-8 helicopter was shot down by militants resulting in the loss of life of 14 Ukrainian servicemen including a Ukrainian general. This by no means is the first nor will it be the last shoot down of a Ukrainian helicopter by pro-Russian forces. The shooting down of helicopters is not a hallmark of low-level domestic crises. This is a dangerous situation and unfortunately one that is now being too under reported. What’s worse, if the Russians feel that the Ukrainians are going too far, President Putin will have in his mind and under Russian law his mandate to intervene militarily in Eastern Ukraine to protect Russian citizens. Though I’d be hard pressed to find a person not from the Kremlin who believes that Putin doesn’t have a direct hand in this already.