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Monday, December 30, 2013

National ID headed for your wallet, purse

Homeland Security to require digital features in driver's license


Just as you were wrapping your mind around the idea that under Obamacare and the accompanying changes in the health-care system, your medical records will be floating around in some online repository, available to far too many people, you’re being told you’ll soon have a National Identity Card and a Western Hemisphere-compliant travel document whether you want it or not, if you plan to drive in the United States.
The federal government says it soon will be enforcing its demands that state-issued driver’s licenses and ID cards comply with Department of Homeland Security standards.
DHS announced just before Christmas a final schedule for the full enforcement of the REAL ID Act of 2005.
That was set for a phased implementation beginning in January 2014 and full-scale enforcement planned no later than May 2017, at which time the federal government will no longer accept state-issued driver’s licenses and ID cards that do not meet the minimum security standards set by DHS.
For many Americans, the full implementation of the REAL ID act is certain to trigger unfortunate memories of World War II and the modus operandi of fascist, totalitarian states, where travelers and ordinary citizens on the street are stopped by authorities and demanded, “Your papers, please!”
In the U.S., the justification for the REAL ID Act of 2005 was the concern for enhanced travel security after the 9/11 Commission documented several of the 9/11 terrorists had valid state-issued driver’s licenses and were able to freely board airplanes even though they were terrorists who had entered the U.S. illegally.
Among the DHS requirements for a state-issued driver’s license to be DHS-compliant will be the presentation by the applicant of a valid birth certificate, verification of the applicant’s Social Security Number or documentation the person is not eligible for Social Security, and proof the applicant is either a U.S. citizen or lawfully admitted to the U.S. as a permanent or temporary resident.
Further, driver’s license and IDs issued by the states will have to meet stringent requirements as set by the federal government.
They also must have features that establish the individual’s identity, including but not limited to full facial digital photographs, plus machine readable coded information in the form of a bar code that captures the key printed information on the card, such as name of the applicant, address, gender, unique driver’s license or card-identification number, state of issuance, date of application, and date of expiration.
With this announcement, DHS is putting state governments on notice that by May 2017, states not complying with REAL ID requirements will find that their state-issued driver’s licenses and ID cards will not be considered valid by the federal government, such that individuals with non-compliant identification may be prohibited from passing through Transportation Security Administration security to travel on airlines on trains within the United States or internationally.
“States have made considerable progress in meeting the need identified by the 9/11 Commission to make driver’s licenses and other identification more secure,” said David Heyman, DHS assistant secretary for policy. “DHS will continue to support their efforts to enhance the security in an achievable way that will make all of our communities safer.”
In the agency’s Dec. 20 announcement, DHS commended the 21 states that already meet the act’s minimum standards for their leadership in improving security for state-issued driver’s licenses and identification cards: Alabama, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Iowa, Indiana, Kansas, Maryland, Mississippi, Nebraska, Ohio, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Wisconsin, West Virginia, and Wyoming.
DHS also announced extensions for 20 states and territories that have provided information demonstrating that they are on the pathway toward achieving full compliance, including Arkansas, California, District of Columbia, Guam, Idaho, Illinois, Michigan, Missouri, New Hampshire, Nevada, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Texas, U.S. Virgin Islands, and Virginia.
DHS made clear 75 percent of all U.S. drivers currently hold licenses from state jurisdictions deemed to meet the REAL ID standards, or from states that have received extensions.
As of Dec. 20, 2013, DHS listed the following states/territories as not yet REAL ID compliant: Alaska, American Samoa, Arizona, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Marianas, Oklahoma, and Washington State.
DHS said TSA will continue to accept driver’s licenses and state-issued identification cards from all jurisdictions until at least 2016, meaning that enforcement for boarding aircraft will not begin until then.

Economic Indicators Up, Obama's Not

There is reason to look back on the year about to end with some satisfaction – not joy, but satisfaction. The until-now deeply troubled industrial sector last month topped its December 2007 pre-recession peak for the first time, and is over 20 percent above its June 2009 low. Autos led the way: motor vehicle assemblies are running at their highest level since 2005. The industry will produce about 15.6 million cars and light trucks this year, over one million more than in 2012, which was a good year. This sales boom was fuelled by a rise in auto-loan debt carried by consumers, which has pessimists worried that a wave of defaults might be lurking behind the good news, and optimists saying the borrowing proves consumers are more confident and, anyhow, can carry more debt because interest rates are so low. 
The housing industry produced equally good news. Total sales of new and existing homes will top five million this year, the highest in five years. Some 430,000 new, single-family homes will be sold, 17 percent more than last year—and last year was a good year. That has builders breaking ground for new homes at the highest rate in five years. The Federal Reserve Board’s decision to keep interest rates low during most of the year kept real estate agents as busy as car salesmen, as frantic buyers chased a dwindling supply of homes in a market in which bidding wars drove up prices. Due in part to the recent rise in interest rates, which are now a full percentage point higher than at the beginning of the year, the market seems to have cooled, but not very much. Pessimists expect the cooling to extend into next year unless rates fall, while the cheerier sort argue that the rate rise reflects the improved  economy and jobs market, good rather than bad news for the housing market.
Investors agree with the optimists: the bulls routed the bears in 2013. The three main indices of share prices—the Dow Jones Industrial Average, the broader S&P 500, and the Nasdaq—will likely show gains of 25 percent, 30 percent, and more than 35 percent, respectively, when trading ends this year. 
Workers have not done as well as investors this year, but nevertheless are facing an improving labor market. The overall unemployment rate has dropped from 7.8 percent to 7.0 percent, the lowest level in five years, with the rate for workers 25 years and older holding a bachelor’s degree or higher down from 3.9 percent to 3.4 percent. The reserve army of the unemployed—out-of-work men and women actively seeking jobs—has dropped by over one million workers, to 10.9 million, and those unemployed for 27 weeks or longer fell from 4.8 million to 4.1 million. Unfortunately, the decline in unemployment is due in part to a drop in what is called the labor force participation rate, workers becoming so pessimistic about their prospects for finding a job that they opt for the couch and the dole, and therefore are not counted among the unemployed. Still, the number of employed Americans rose to 144.4 million this year, an increase of a bit over one million.
All of the above, and especially the improvement in the labor market, prompted Federal Reserve Board chairman Ben Bernanke to use his final press conference to announce that he and his monetary policy committee have finally decided to “taper”—reduce the program of quantitative easing that has put downward pressure on long-term interest rates. The fact that this announcement did not send the markets and perhaps the economy into the spin that many analysts were predicting can be credited to three rather shrewd moves. First, the taper is modest in amount and subject to review in light of incoming data. Second, it was accompanied with a promise to keep short-term rates low until at least well into 2015, even if the labor market continues to improve, and especially if the inflation rate lingers below 2 percent. Third, Bernanke announced that Janet Yellen, his successor, is fully signed on to this policy, thereby removing uncertainty about monetary policy.
Not to be outdone in providing good news, the political class added to holiday cheer by finally announcing an agreement on a budget deal that pushes future approaches to a fiscal cliff two years down the road. There is still a battle to be waged over the debt ceiling, but Republican congressional leaders have no taste for a showdown with a president who would accuse them of taking the nation into default. The fracture in American political life might not be healed, but it is not as disabling as it was last year. Equally important, especially to latter-day Keynesians, is the easing of fiscal policy that resulted from the budget deal, while those worried that budgetary pressures are reducing our military’s ability to defend the nation found some relief in the additional funds being made available to the Pentagon.
In this improving year one important indicator has sunk like a stone—the popularity of and trust in President Obama. The portion of Americans disapproving the president’s performance has risen from around 42 percent to 54 percent according to an average of several polls calculated by Real Clear Politics. That is the result of the botched introduction of his signature achievement, Obmacare, an emerging awareness that if the introductory “glitches” are cured the fatal flaws in the plan will remain, and of his parsimony with the truth when he promised the 80 percent of Americans who like their insurance plans and their doctors that they could keep both. They can’t. It is now clear that Obama was fully aware of that fact and that support for his health-care revolution from the satisfied 80 percent would evaporate unless he made the false promise. Now, reality bites.
This was also the year in which the Anglo-Saxon competitive, market-based economic model saw off its competition, to the consternation of leftish critics. Both the American and British economies are on the road to recoveries, over-due and not very robust recoveries, but recoveries nevertheless. Meanwhile, China, lumbered with inefficient state-run enterprises, is struggling to avoid a credit crunch, while unemployment rates in the bloated welfare states of the EU remain stuck in double digits. Not models likely to attract emulation.
Next week—what 2014 is likely to look like. 

N.Y. Times serves up baloney on Benghazi

Hit-piece 'investigation' parrots discredited talking points

The report, entitled, “A Deadly Mix in Benghazi,” was authored from Benghazi by Times writer David D. Kirkpatrick.
Bringing back the Muhammad film
One of the main contentions of the Times piece is that “contrary to claims by some members of Congress,” the Benghazi attack “was fueled in large part by anger at an American-made video denigrating Islam.”
“There is no doubt that anger over the video motivated many attackers,” continued the Times.
The New York Times article seeks to link the Benghazi attack to protests planned outside the U.S. embassy in Cairo.
Reads the Times piece: “[O]n Sept. 8, a popular Islamist preacher lit the fuse by screening a clip of the video on the ultraconservative Egyptian satellite channel El Nas. American diplomats in Cairo raised the alarm in Washington about a growing backlash, including calls for a protest outside their embassy.”
However, the Cairo protest on Sept. 11 was announced days in advance as part of a movement to free the so-called “blind sheik,” Omar Abdel-Rahman, held in the U.S. over the 1993 World Trade Center bombing.
The State Department’s 39-page Accountability Review Board report, or ARB, described a group acting to free Rahman was involved in previous attacks against diplomatic facilities in Benghazi.
The Times fails to report the anti-U.S. protest movement outside the Cairo embassy was a long-term project about freeing Rahman.
As far back as July 2012, Rahman’s son, Abdallah Abdel Rahman, threatened to organize a protest at the U.S. Embassy in Cairo and detain the employees inside.
On the day of the Sept. 11, 2012, protests in Cairo, CNN’s Nic Robertson interviewed the son of Rahman, who described the protest as being about freeing his father. No Muhammad film was mentioned. A big banner calling for Rahman’s release can be seen as Robertson walked to the embassy protests.
The Times claim the Benghazi attack was fuelled by the anti-Muslim film also doesn’t jibe with an independent investigation that reportedly found no mention of the film on social media in Libya in the three days leading up to the attack.
A review of more than 4,000 postings was conducted by the leading social media monitoring firm Agincourt Solutions, reportedly finding the first reference to the film was not detected on social media until the day after the attack.
“From the data we have, it’s hard for us to reach the conclusion that the consulate attack was motivated by the movie. Nothing in the immediate picture – surrounding the attack in Libya – suggests that,” Jeff Chapman, chief executive with Agincourt Solutions, told Fox News.
The Times claim of popular protests about the Muhammad film further may not hold up to logic. The U.S. Special Mission was not a permanent facility, nor was its existence widely known by the public in Libya.
Indeed, State’s ARB report on the Benghazi attack itself documented the facility was set up secretively and without the knowledge of the new Libyan government.
“Another key driver behind the weak security platform in Benghazi was the decision to treat Benghazi as a temporary, residential facility, not officially notified to the host government, even though it was also a full-time office facility,” the report states.
No al-Qaida in Libya?
Another main contention of the New York Times article on Benghazi is there was “no evidence that Al Qaeda or other international terrorist groups had any role in the assault.”
However, the Times’ next statement in effect contradicts that claim. The Times relates, “The attack was led, instead, by fighters who had benefited directly from NATO’s extensive air power and logistics support during the uprising against Colonel Qaddafi.”
Scores of news media reports documented those “fighters” included al-Qaida groups among their ranks. Many of those “fighters” were widely quoted in news media reports as fighting under the al-Qaida banner.
The Times further claims, “Benghazi was not infiltrated by Al Qaeda, but nonetheless contained grave local threats to American interests.”
This contention is contradicted by the U.S. government, as WND first reported.
A Library of Congress report detailed – one month before the deadly Sept. 11 attack in Benghazi – how al-Qaida established a major base of operations in Libya in the aftermath of the U.S.-NATO campaign that deposed Muammar Gadhafi and his secular regime.
The report documented al-Qaida and affiliated organizations were establishing terrorist training camps and pushing Taliban-style Islamic law in Libya while the new, Western-backed Libyan government incorporated jihadists into its militias.
The document named Benghazi as a new central headquarters for al-Qaida activities.
“Al-Qaeda adherents in Libya used the 2011 Revolution to establish well-armed, well-trained, and combat-experienced militias,” stated the congressional report.
The report also said a terrorist released from the U.S. Guantanamo Bay detention camp in Cuba became the leader of the al-Qaida-affiliate Ansar Al-Sharia in Libya, which espoused anti-Western ideology.
The Martyrs of 17 February Brigade, which was hired by the State Department to protect the U.S. facility in Benghazi, operates under the Ansar-Al-Sharia banner.
The document said scores of Islamic extremists were freed from Libyan prison after the U.S.-supported revolution in Libya.
The August 2012 document was prepared by the Federal Research Division of the Library of Congress under an inter-agency agreement with the Combating Terrorism Technical Support Office’s Irregular Warfare Support Program.
More al-Qaida and organized extremist connections to the Benghazi attack were reported by the Daily Beast, which confirmed an October 2012 Wall Street Journal report that fighters affiliated with the Egypt-based, al-Qaida-linked Jamal Network group participated in the Benghazi attack.
The Daily Beast’s Eli Lake further quoted Seth Jones, associate director for the international security and defense policy center at the RAND Corporation, about Jamal’s involvement.
“There was at least one member and may have been more members from the Mohammed Jamal network on the compound for the attack on Benghazi along with members of Ansar al-Sharia and members of al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb,” Jones stated.
‘Not pre-planned’
Another main claim by the Times piece is that the Benghazi attack was largely not premeditated, although the article allows some aspects were loosely planned that day.
“Surveillance of the American compound appears to have been underway at least 12 hours before the assault started,” reported the Times. “The violence, though, also had spontaneous elements. Anger at the video motivated the initial attack.”
The Times claims, “Looters and arsonists, without any sign of a plan, were the ones who ravaged the compound after the initial attack, according to more than a dozen Libyan witnesses as well as many American officials who have viewed the footage from security cameras.”
That description doesn’t fit with the State ARB investigation into Benghazi.
The ARB described a well-orchestrated attack with militants who seemingly had specific knowledge of the compound. It doesn’t focus on looters but rather on “men armed with AK rifles” who “started to destroy the living room contents and then approached the safe area gate and started banging on it.”
In another detail bespeaking a plan, the ARB states the intruders smoked up Villa C, likely to make breathing so difficult that anyone inside the safe room where Ambassador Chris Stevens was holed up would need to come out.
It may be difficult for keen observers to swallow the Times’ claim of unplanned looters in light of events that demonstrated the attackers knew the location of the nearby CIA annex, or that they set up checkpoints, as they did, to ensure against the escape by Americans inside the Special Mission.
Fox News reported late Florida Rep. Bill Young said he spoke for 90 minutes with David Ubben, one of the security agents severely injured in the assault. Young said the agent revealed to him the intruders knew the exact location of Stevens’ safe room.
“He (Ubben) emphasized the fact that it was a very, very military type of operation [in that] they had knowledge of almost everything in the compound,” stated Young. “They knew where the gasoline was, they knew where the generators were, they knew where the safe room was, they knew more than they should have about that compound.”
With additional research by Joshua Klein.


Military men say time for new George Washingtons to take over


For more than 15 years, Col. George Washington had been retired to farm the Virginia countryside, until Boston patriots waged their famous tea party and the Battles of Lexington and Concord erupted. Washington, the former fighter of the French and Indian War, determined he could remain on the sidelines no longer.
When Col. Washington (ret.) showed up shortly thereafter at the Second Continental Congress in his dusted-off uniform, the spirit of the American Revolution had at last found a man it could follow.
Today, as the tea party rages again in cities across the U.S., a retired American military commander is drawing attention to a new crop of George Washingtons already leading the charge for freedom.
As WND reported, Maj. Gen. Paul E. Vallely declared it’s time for millions of Americans to “stand up” to a federal government that is “conducting treason … violating the Constitution, violating our laws.” He’s calling for marches, a legislative vote of “no confidence” in President Obama and congressional leaders, even citizen arrests – drawing inspiration from the 33 million Egyptians who stood up to their government and removed Muslim Brotherhood officials from office.

Maj. Gen. Paul E. Vallely (ret.)
Now Vallely tells WND the radio interview in which he called for a new American uprising has struck a note with the millions of modern tea partiers who are looking for unifying leadership.
“It’s been all over Facebook, a number of websites, radio shows calling me for interviews,” Vallely said. “And the response I’ve received has been 99-percent positive.
“I think the biggest thing is that someone is finally standing up to lead,” he explained. “We need someone to lead; we need a new George Washington.”
Vallely pointed to the work of the Citizens’ Commission on Benghazi – which included Vallely, Navy SEAL Capt. Larry Bailey (ret.), Admiral James Lyons (ret.), former Congressman and retired Army Lieutenant Colonel Allen West and several other retired military officers – as evidence that the missing leadership may once again be rising from the same place it did in 1775: from the ranks of those who have served our nation in combat.
“It’s fallen upon senior, retired military to take stands against the overreach and tyranny of a corrupt government,” Vallely said. “I think for people, they respect what the military has gone through. Senior military guys are very well educated, they’ve gone to the right schools, gone to combat for the most part, have had to manage enormous budgets, were involved in major financial decisions and are heavily steeped in foreign policy and national security.
“No other group, no CEO that has that kind of background,” he said. “Obviously our politicians don’t have that background. They have legislation experience, not leadership experience.”
So what should be done with the current crop of political leaders?
Vallely said since impeachment isn’t likely and recall votes aren’t in the Constitution, the people need to rise up and accept nothing less than the resignation of D.C. leadership.
“We like to do things by the Constitution, but our forefathers never anticipated we’d be in a place where we have so many corrupt leaders, impeachment wouldn’t happen,” he said. “We had a demand of resignation with Nixon, and he resigned, so the power of the people can be heard.”
And the next opportunity to sound the rally cry, Vallely said, is at the 2014 South Carolina Tea Party Coalition Convention, where Vallely will join Lt.Col. Bill Cowan, USMC (ret.) and former Navy SEAL Benjamin Smith among the speakers.
“I’m going back to the big kickoff in Myrtle Beach in January,” Vallely told WND. “I’m a big believer in the tea party as a movement. Many of us retired military leaders are all together. We need to demand the resignation of Obama, [Vice President Joe] Biden, [Republican House Speaker John] Boehner, [Senate Republican Leader Mitch] McConnell, [House Minority Leader Nancy] Pelosi and [Senate Majority Leader Harry] Reid. The leadership of both parties needs to step down and new leaders step up.”
Who are the new leaders?
“I think that George Washington is out there; we need to find him,” Vallely said. “[New Jersey Governor] Chris Christie, [Florida Senator] Marco Rubio – these guys are amateurs on the world scene. We have to go beyond politics and not put congressman into higher office, but true leaders.”
Vallely has been immensely popular among tea party organizations that are seeking a way to restore the rule of law to Washington.
Among other things, they cite the Obamacare law, and the 15 or more times Obama has changed the law – without consulting Congress.
In a statement earlier to WND, Vallely said a vote of no confidence could be used.
The founder of Stand Up America, an organization that provides education resources for leaders and activists based on the values of the Founding Fathers, said: “Clearly America has lost confidence and no longer trusts those in power at a most critical time in our history. … It is true that not all who ply the halls of power fit under that broad brush, but most of them are guilty of many egregious acts, and we say it is time to hold a vote of no confidence. It’s time for a ‘recall.’”
Vallely believes the “credibility of our current leadership is gone.”
Now, he said, “we listen to their excuses, finger-pointing, lies and all manner of chicanery.”
He admitted there is no legal authority in a vote of no confidence, but he argued it will “take back the power of discourse.”
“What else is our nation to do now that the rule of law has effectively been thrown out the window by the Obama administration? How are we to trust our government anymore, now that lying and fraud are acceptable practices?” he asked.
Vallely believes impeachment likely wouldn’t lead to conviction and doesn’t solve the problem, anyway.
“Harry Reid still controls the Senate, so like in Clinton’s day, forget about a finding of guilty,” he wrote. “Incidentally, if Obama was found guilty and removed from office, Joe Biden would step in, Valerie Jarrett still wields all the power, and likely we get more of the same.”
The Constitution can be amended without going through Congress, he pointed out, but it would take too much time, “a luxury we just do not have it we are going to save our republic.”
“That brings us to the other word no one wants to utter, revolution. In our opinion, this is the least palatable option. … Others talk about the military taking over as we saw in Egypt; again, we do not support this route,” he said.
Vallely listed a sampling of Obama’s broken promises and lies, crediting Peter Wehner at Commentary Magazine:
  • His promise not to allow lobbyists to work in his administration. (They have.)
  • His commitment to slash earmarks. (He didn’t.)
  • To be the most transparent presidency in history. (He’s not.)
  • To put an end to “phony accounting.” (It started almost on Day 1 and continues.)
  • And to restore trust in government. (Trust in government is at near-historic lows.)
  • His pledge to seek public financing in the general election. (He didn’t.)
  • To treat super-PACS as a “threat to democracy.” (He embraced them.)
  • His pledge to keep unemployment from rising above 8 percent. (It remained above 8 percent for the longest stretch since the Great Depression.)
  • To create five million new energy jobs alone. (The total number of jobs created in Obama’s first term was roughly one-tenth that figure.)
  • To identify all those “shovel-ready’ jobs. (Mr. Obama later chuckled that his much-hyped “shovel-ready projects” were “not as shovel-ready as we expected.”)
  • To lift two million Americans from poverty. (A record 46 million Americans are living in poverty during the Obama era.)
  • His promise to bring down health care premiums by $2,500 for the typical family (they went up) … allow Americans to keep the health care coverage they currently have (many can’t) … refuse to fund abortion via the Affordable Care Act (it did) … to respect religious liberties (he has violated them) … and the insistent that a mandate to buy insurance, enforced by financial penalties, was not a tax (it is).
  • Obama’s pledge to stop the rise of oceans. (It hasn’t.)
  • To “remake the world” and to “heal the planet.” (Hardly.)
  • To usher in a “new beginning” based on “mutual respect” with the Arab and Islamic world and “help answer the call for a new dawn in the Middle East.” (Come again?)
  • To punish Syria if it crossed the “red line” of using chemical weapons. (The “red line” was crossed earlier this year – and nothing of consequence happened.)
  • That as president “I don’t bluff.” (See the previous sentence on Syria.)
  • And of course the much-ballyhooed Russian reset. (Tensions between Russia and the United States are increasing and examples of Russia undermining U.S. interests are multiplying.)
  • And let’s not forget Mr. Obama’s promise to bring us together. (He is the most polarizing president in the history of the Gallup polling.)
  • Or his assurance to us that he would put an end to the type of politics that “breeds division and conflict and cynicism.” (All three have increased during the Obama presidency.)
  • And his counsel to us to “resist the temptation to fall back on the same partisanship and pettiness and immaturity that has poisoned our politics for so long.” (Remind me again whose campaign allies accused Mitt Romney of being responsible for the cancer death of a steelworker’s wife.)
“It is time to recall the reprobates and reclaim the power of the people,” Vallely said. “We need to start with the White House and all of Obama’s appointees, especially Eric Holder. … Then on to Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi – the architects who shoved Obamacare down our throats. We also cannot forget John Boehner and company who openly castigate the tea-party caucus, which are only doing that which they campaigned upon.”
Vallely quoted commentator Andrew C. McCarthy, who said that “absent the political will to remove the president, he will remain president no matter how many high crimes and misdemeanors he stacks up. … And absent the removal of the president, the United States will be fundamentally transformed.”
Vallely noted that while the U.S. Constitution lacks a provision for a “recall” at the federal level, “there is nothing to prevent its use as a comprehensive de facto indictment and conviction for contempt of Congress, violations of oath of office and of the Constitution itself – for all the reasons stated in such a resolution.”
He warned of growing “tyrannical centralized rule” without action.
There may be advances in the 2014 elections, but will that be a solution?
“Obama is still the president, and his Cabinet and appointees still remain in power. … Obama will just continue to subvert the Constitution he took an oath to faithfully protect. His track record shows us that no matter what the make-up of Congress is, he will twist his way around it with a pen and secure even more power reminiscent of a dictator,” Vallely said.
“When that does not work, he will manipulate the courts and law enforcement will be run by fiat, choosing winners and losers.”
Congress already is addressing charges that Obama is violating the Constitution.
WND reported when Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., said Obama’s actions have reached “an unprecedented level, and we’ve got to do something about it.
“Assume that a statute said you had to provide two forms of ID to vote. Can the president require three forms? Can the president require one form? Can you suspend all requirements? If not, why not?” he said. “If you can turn off certain categories of law, do you not also have the power to turn off all categories of law?”
Gowdy cited Obama’s decisions to ignore certain immigration laws, even though Congress did not approve the changes. He also cited arbitrary changes to the Obamacare law and Obama’s “recess appointments” of judges even though the U.S. Senate was not in recess.
His proposal is for Congress to take the White House to court over the president’s actions, through a resolution proposed by Rep. Tom Rice, R-Ga., that would authorize the House to sue the Obama administration. It has 30 co-sponsors.
Rice said that because of “this disregard of our country’s checks and balances, many of you have asked me to bring legal action against the president.”
“After carefully researching the standing the House of Representatives has and what action we can take, I have introduced a resolution to stop the president’s clear overreach,” he said.
A Fox News interviewer asked Gowdy if Obama could refuse to enforce election laws.
“Why not?” asked Gowdy, “If you can turn off immigration laws, if you can turn off the mandatory minimum in our drug statutes, if you can turn off the so-called Affordable Care Act – why not election laws?”
Gowdy noted that a liberal law professor, Jonathan Turley, agrees.
WND reported Turley’s concerns earlier this month.
Turley has represented members of Congress in a lawsuit over the Libyan war, represented workers at the secret Area 51 military base and served as counsel on national security cases. He now says Obama is a danger to the U.S. Constitution.
He was addressing a House Judiciary Committee hearing Dec. 4. Chairman Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., asked him: “Professor Turley, the Constitution, the system of separated powers is not simply about stopping one branch of government from usurping another. It’s about protecting the liberty of Americans from the dangers of concentrated government power. How does the president’s unilateral modification of act[s] of Congress affect both the balance of power between the political branches and the liberty interests of the American people?”
Turley replied: “Thank you, Mr. Chairman. The danger is quite severe. The problem with what the president is doing is that he’s not simply posing a danger to the constitutional system. He’s becoming the very danger the Constitution was designed to avoid. That is the concentration of power.”
Turley explained that the “Newtonian orbit that the three branches exist in is a delicate one but it is designed to prevent this type of concentration.”
“There are two trends going on which should be of equal concern to all members of Congress,” he said. “One is that we have had the radical expansion of presidential powers under both President Bush and President Obama. We have what many once called an imperial presidency model of largely unchecked authority. And with that trend we also have the continued rise of this fourth branch. We have agencies that are quite large that issue regulations. The Supreme Court said recently that agencies could actually define their own or interpret their own jurisdiction.”
Turley was appointed in 1998 to the prestigious Shapiro Chair for Public Interest at Georgetown. He has handled a wide range of precedent-setting and headline-making cases, including the successful defense of Petty Officer Daniel King, who faced the death penalty for alleged spying for Russia.
Turley also has served as the legal expert in the review of polygamy laws in the British Columbia Supreme Court. He’s been a consultant on homeland security, and his articles appear regularly in national publications such as the New York Times and USA Today.
WND reported that it was at the same hearing that Michael Cannon, director of Health Policy Studies for the Cato Institute, said there is “one last thing to which the people can resort if the government does not respect the restraints that the Constitution places of the government.”
“Abraham Lincoln talked about our right to alter our government or our revolutionary right to overthrow it,” he said.
“That is certainly something that no one wants to contemplate. If the people come to believe that the government is no longer constrained by the laws, then they will conclude that neither are they.”
Cannon said it is “very dangerous” for the president to “wantonly ignore the laws, to try to impose obligations upon people that the legislature did not approve.”
Several members of Congress also contributed their opinions in an interview with talk-show host Sean Hannity.
Vallely explained that a “no confidence” vote now “would also tell the world that we recognize the mess this administration has wrought upon the world and we do not support his actions. Despite what supporters of Obama say about our standing in the world, the world is laughing at us. We are not pleased!”
Without that action, he writes, “Obama will just continue to subvert the Constitution he took an oath to faithfully protect.”

Syria Has Yet to Move Arms. Deadline Nears

An image taken by local activists in Damascus shows the remains of a rocket implicated in a chemical attack in August.


GENEVA — Two days before a deadline for getting its most deadly chemical weapons out of the country, and despite an international effort to mobilize the resources needed to do so, Syria has apparently not even begun to move them, observers familiar with the mission said Sunday.
Their assessment came as the United Nations and the international chemical weapons monitoring group overseeing the program acknowledged that Tuesday’s deadline would most likely be missed.
“At this stage, transportation of the most critical chemical material before 31 December is unlikely,” the United Nations and the chemical weapons group said in a joint statement issued in the Syrian port city of Latakia on Saturday. They said that volatile security conditions in Syria had “constrained planned movements” and that logistical problems and bad weather had contributed to the delay.
Once movement of the chemicals gets underway, the mission can be conducted quite quickly, according to those familiar with the mission, who spoke on the condition that they not be identified because of the sensitivity of the issue.
Their comments echoed remarks made Friday by a Russian diplomat, Mikhail Ulyanov, after an international meeting on the chemical arms removal effort. Mr. Ulyanov, the head of the Russian foreign ministry’s disarmament department, said, “The removal has not yet begun,” according to the Russian news agency RIA Novosti.
The government of President Bashar al-Assad has until mid-2014 to destroy its chemical weapons program under a deal struck by Russia and the United States in September. To meet that challenging timetable, it agreed with the watchdog group, the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, to remove more than 500 metric tons of its most toxic chemicals by the end of this year and the remaining 700 tons of chemicals in its stockpile by early February.
The organization warned of possible delays when it approved the plan, and the statement issued on Saturday noted the “important progress” Syria has made in dismantling its chemical weapons program in the past three months. Three weeks ago, the head of the group, Ahmet Uzumcu, acknowledged that meeting the deadline would be “quite difficult.”
American officials have acknowledged the particular challenges of moving dangerous chemical weapons across a landscape torn by civil war, and took the news of the delay in stride. “This was always going to be complex,” a senior administration official said in Washington on Sunday, referring to the deadlines as “milestones” instead. “We’re going to work with international partners to keep this on track and to keep up the pressure on the Assad regime to meet its commitments.”
The plan the group agreed to this month called for Syria to transport the critical chemicals, including 20 tons of sulfur mustard and precursors for making sarin and VX nerve gas, from 12 storage sites around the country to Latakia. Danish and Norwegian ships are to then take them under naval escort to an Italian port for transfer to an American vessel fitted with special equipment for destroying them at sea.
Syria now has “virtually all” of the logistical and security assets it needs to undertake the movement of its chemical weapons, Mr. Uzumcu said in a statement released after a meeting on Friday in Moscow attended by all countries providing maritime support for the operation. Russia, which has shipped armored vehicles to Syria to transport the chemicals, is due to provide security at the Latakia port and, with China, Denmark and Norway, has offered to provide naval escorts for part of the voyage.
But transporting the chemicals by road to Latakia poses a particular challenge. Syrian government forces, which reportedly control the road from Damascus to the port, may still face the danger of rebel attacks.

The Year In Stupid

Derek Hunter 

It seems like a lifetime ago, but it was only last January when “catfishing” bubbled to the forefront of the public consciousness. Though it had been a show many of us had enjoyed on MTV, most were too busy and/or mature to notice. Having grown up in Detroit, I’d heard of (and may well have told) stories of a “girlfriend in Canada,” the legendary answer to the “You don’t have a girlfriend” taunt in elementary school. Most grew out of that, not all did.
The rest of the world became all too educated on the term “catfishing” thanks to Notre Dame football star Manti Te’o. We learned – to his eternal embarrassment – that not only was the story of his girlfriend’s tragic death was a hoax but her existence was too. President Reagan’s “trust, but verify” was forever amended to include “that they exist” when it comes to online relations. It cost Te’o several slots in the NFL draft and the rest of the world many laughs at his expense.
This year also saw the rise of the “concern troll” in the mainstream media. “Concern trolls” are liberals who feign worry over the future of people or groups they, of course, vehemently oppose. Twitter is full of them. As the mainstream media has been reduced to press release regurgitators for Democrats, they naturally turned their caring eyes to the Republican Party. Every major liberal media outlet pondered how the party could survive the year, let alone beyond, after losing the White House in 2012.
Under the guise of worry over a one-party system, they offered their advice on how to make Republicans “relevant” again. Naturally, this included (and essentially concluded with) casting aside the Constitution and shunning conservatives. Given where the year ended for President Obama and Democrats in the polls, this concern trolling is even funnier than it was at the time.
People will regale future generations with tales of how they survived sequestration – those dark when government agencies that got by with so much had to suffer the indignity of getting by with not quite as much more as they’d expected. It was hell.
To mix my metaphors, Chicken Little cried “wolf.”
Somehow, we survived this slight decrease in the rate of increase of government spending. Sadly, we also survived long enough to see Republicans use the same rhetoric as Democrats in describing these modest decreases in expected increases as “cuts.” As in, in the end-of-the-year budget deal, Republicans military pensions were “cut” because Democrats refused to cut illegal aliens off the government teat. Horrible, yes. Doubly horrible that troops are liberals’ go-to for saving money. But Republicans are ceding some ground here by misusing the word “cut” in this way – no matter how noble the cause.
Time will tell if this comes back to haunt them.
The middle of 2013 saw a major push for “comprehensive immigration reform,” which is a deliberately confusing way to describe granting amnesty for undocumented Democrats and setting them on them on the path to voter registration rolls. Lawmakers from both sides of the aisle pushed the measure – none more prominent than Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.). Not only would this legislation have effectively ended the Republican Party, it would have – in the words of the president – fundamentally transform the nation for all time.
The supposed need for this legislation was never explained beyond “It’s the right thing to do” with a healthy dose of “through no fault of their own” thrown in for good measure. How a president unwilling to enforce other laws he’d happily signed into existence could be trusted to enforce new immigration laws he didn’t like, such as border security, was never explained.
The Senate passed the bill, but, thankfully, the House of Representatives has not taken it up and hopefully never will. But if there’s one pretty-sure way to make a lot of money in Washington, it is by betting Republicans, particularly House Leadership, will do stupid things that harm themselves and the country, so the jury is still out on this one.
I, for one, would like to hear how adding 11 million to 30 million new competitors for work to an economy with 7 percent unemployment (really double that) helps Americans. I suspect that’s the question supporters fear the most.
Also, 2013 could easily be described as the year of Obama scandals. Having effectively gotten their candidate re-elected, the throne-sniffers in the media finally found themselves facing an Obama scandal they wouldn’t ignore…because it affected them directly. When it was revealed the Justice Department had seized phone records of journalists and media outlets in a push by “the most transparent administration in history” to quash leakers, even MSNBC had to take exception.
The outrage didn’t last long. Like abused spouses who simply can’t bring themselves to leave, the media was back to playing human shield for the president when the IRS scandal broke shortly thereafter. There are only so many scandals we can ask the media to track … and two, of course, is too many.
The stories of the year are clearly the NSA revelations by Edward Snowden and the morphing of Obamacare from theoretical failure to disastrous reality. Everyone knows these stories; they’re still unfolding and will be with us well in to the future. Every American has been affected by the actions of the NSA Snowden exposed, and we’ll all be affected this year by Obamacare.
The Obamacare rollout went so badly it wiped the 17-day government shutdown from the collective memory of all Americans save for the teleprompter writers at MSNBC. IF Republicans don’t blow it – and that’s an all-CAPS, 100-point IF – the failure of Obamacare could do more than any candidate or campaign either side could put forward to stomp progressives back down the shame hole of their collective history.
It’s not easy to box a shadow, and President Obama was nothing but a shadow in his first term. He has played the hands-on, smartest–president-evah card when it suited him and the babe-in-the-woods kept in the dark by staff card when he needed it. The media helped him every step of the way, but it can’t help him anymore.
Obamacare is such a wide-ranging epic failure that touches everyone where they live, and it has his name all over it. “The lie of the year” is an understatement, and the American people know he told it, over and over and over again…
It’s been a year full of stupid (I can’t list it all), and most of that stupid was self-inflicted. Those who don’t know history are doomed to repeat it, but those who think they got away with it will do it again deliberately. Here’s to hoping 2014 is the year everyone remembers the stupid from the previous 365 days and recognizes it when it boomerangs again.
Happy New Year.