The American Dilemma and How We Can Fix It

Posts tagged ‘Barack Obama’

HANDS UP, PLEASE SHOOT

With the bad rap that the liberal left in America is generally heaping on the police in this country, it might be useful for the mainstream media to pay some attention to the hostage situation in Sydney, Australia which fortunately has been resolved with minimum injury.The alleged hostage taker, one Man Haron Monis has been captured and his captors released.

“Monis has long been on officials’ radar. Last year, he was sentenced to 300 hours of community service for writing offensive letters to families of soldiers killed in Afghanistan. He was later charged with being an accessory to the murder of his ex-wife. Earlier this year, he was charged with the sexual assault of a woman in 2002. He has been out on bail on the charges.”  (AP – Kristen Gelineau).

While Australian authorities are downplaying the hostage taking as a “one-off” event, during the course of his occupying the Lindt Coffee Shop, apparently Monis forced several of the hostages to hold up the Islamic State flag within the store, inscribed on which is the Shahada, the first of Islam’s Five Pillars of Faith and required that other of the hostages stand in the window of the store with their hands up in the symbol of surrender.  Is this merely a matter of “shopping center violence” or is there something deeper going on here?

Fortunately, the police were successful in defusing the situation.  But I couldn’t help think, what if, (God forbid) this situation had occurred in the United States and Hillary Clinton were president (double God forbid).  Given her “enlightened and progressive” views and worldview and her recent statements, this situation might well have been handled in a different manner:

 

 

The fundamental problem of the left in characterizing the Ft. Hood shooting, the beheading of the innocent woman in Oklahoma and countless other tragedies is that if you refuse to recognize the reality of what your enemy is about, it is impossible to deal with defeating that enemy effectively.  This applies not only to radical Islamists but to the situation in our inner cities where black on black violence continues unabated and where the focus of the “race mongers” including President Obama and his Henchman in Chief,” Al Sharpton, want to deflect from the real problem and focus our attention on “police brutality” and racism.

I suspect that when the hostages in Sydney were rescued from their captor, thanks to the Aussie SWAT team that liberated them, they probably cried out, “Hands Up, Please Shoot – the hostage taker”

Islamic Flag in Sydney Hostage Siege Analyzed

 

 

 

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SOME THOUGHTS ON GRAND JURIES AND JUSTICE

The Grand Jury system comes to us from England where it was implemented by Henry II in 1166.  So named because there are more jurors than a normal panel of twelve (a petit jury), its proceedings are done in secret.  If we were previously unaware of how these juries deliberate, that has been dispelled with the notable reportage on the events in Ferguson, MO and New York City.

One of the king’s motivations in using this secretive jury was to be able to ramrod indictments against those whom the crown wanted to prosecute.  I won’t repeat the much used phrase which explains how easy it is for a prosecutor to get an indictment from such a jury for fear of offending our Muslim neighbors.  That in fact, particularly in the Ferguson case, no such indictment was handed down has caused many to question the reason that occurred.  It is at this point that the facts seem to separate from the emotions and some people choose to infer motivations from the actions of the District Attorneys who were involved in presenting the cases.

Surprisingly, one of the greatest claims by those who reject the St. Louis County Grand Jury’s decision is that the system does not provide transparency.  Well, that is certainly true – and the system is designed in just such a manner,  Attorneys for the Brown family are outraged and believe that an indictment should have been handed down and that a public trial should have been conducted.  In fact, they believe the District Attorney should not have bothered with a Grand Jury but moved directly to trial.  That would certainly provide greater transparency, but one has to wonder whether it would have resulted in a different conclusion.

The level of proof necessary to obtain an indictment from a Grand Jury is far lower than that to convict, “beyond a reasonable doubt.”  There have been witnesses, notably Dorian Johnson who initially made the claim that Michael Brown was running away with his hands raised when he was shot in the back by Officer Wilson – testimony that was disproven by the forensics.  Mr. Johnson also changed other parts of his story in subsequent interrogations.  A reasonable person, even without referring to his own personal run ins with the law, might question his veracity as a witness.

On the other hand, six African-American witnesses testified to the Grand Jury that Mr. Brown was charging toward Officer Wilson when the fatal shot was fired.  They further concurred that they heard the officer order him to stop on two occasions – orders which Brown ignored.  Obviously, there is a vast difference between these two accounts.

For the sake of argument, let’s assume that in the Brown case the DA had followed the advice of the Brown family attorneys and gone directly to trial.  Given the glaring conflict in witness testimony, there are two possibilities that the trial jury would return a guilty verdict beyond a reasonable doubt – “Slim” and “None.”  But the people of St. Louis County would have had to bear the expense of a trial, the cost of additional and ongoing law enforcement presence throughout that trial – and probably the same amount of damage by way of looting and burning because the only “fair” verdict that those who see themselves as being “Brown supporters” will accept is one of “guilty.”

All of this begs the fundamental question – should we be fearful of authority abusing its power over the citizenry?  That is a question that exceeds the particular of race. If we accept, for sake of argument, that people of certain races are “targeted” and we allow that to continue with impunity, then we open ourselves to the possibility of belonging to some particular group which will subsequently fall into disfavor and be equally subject to that sort of persecution.

This is far more dangerous than what we saw in Ferguson or New York because it is an endorsement that people should have the ability to pick and choose the laws they wish to observe and those they choose to ignore.  Sadly, that is precisely the path that both President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder have been following during their time in office.  When lawlessness is endorsed in actions by those whose jobs are to ensure that we are truly a “nation of laws,” then they give tacit endorsement to others to be law breakers themselves.

Let the riots, lootings and burnings begin.  Perhaps that’s what’s written on the Christmas cards the White House is sending out this year.

HO, HO, HO!

IGUALA, MX AND FERGUSON, MO

Forty-three Mexican college students, studying to be teachers, were out fund raising for their college – soliciting money to buy supplies for the school.  They were stopped in Iguala by the police and three of them were shot by these same police.  Apparently, the Mayor of Iguala was concerned that the students were planning to disrupt a speech that his wife was scheduled to give.  The surviving students were turned over to a local drug cartel “to be disposed of.”  And the cartel did its job well.

They executed these kids at a trash dump and then the cartel had a “student roast,” burning the bodies in a fire that lasted for sixteen hours – as the cartel members stood by and watched.  Except in the case of Marine Sgt. Andrew Tahmooressi who was finally released after six months in Mexican prison for inadvertently entering the country while in possession of legally owned weapons, Mexican “justice” can be inexorably efficient, swift – and terminal.

The mayor and his wife were arrested in Mexico City a week after the students disappeared.  He has had several charges leveled against him and  is currently in jail awaiting further processing.  As of this writing, no charges have been brought against his wife.  Although it is only an allegation, there appears that there may be a tie between these two and the local drug cartel.

Subsequent to the students’ disappearance a search began for them.  The announcement by the Mexican Attorney General, Jesús Murillo Karam that the students’ remains had been found resulted in protests throughout the country with tens of thousand marching in peaceful protest against a government that has corruption at its most basic foundation.  Additionally, other protesters with a less pacifistic view of the events, burned government buildings, cars and blocked highways in Guerrero state where these murders occurred.  In the course of the search, several mass graves were discovered – apparently additional victims of the local drug cartels.

It is probably difficult for most Americans to conceive living in a country where the police, rather than occupying a position of “serving and protecting” people actually function as the judiciary and dispatch summary “justice” with impunity.  Difficult unless you believe that is the same system we have in the United States.  And if you turn your attention to Ferguson, MO and the protests that have been ongoing for the last three months you might believe that is the case.

On August 9, 2014, a shooting occurred in Ferguson, MO resulting in the death of Michael Brown.  The deceased was a young black man; the person who shot him was a white police officer, Darren Wilson.  Those are the facts that no one disputes.  The specific circumstances of causality have now been before a Grand Jury for several months and we are awaiting their determination.

I believe it is fair to say that if, under the same set of circumstances a white police officer shot a white teenager; if a black police officer shot a black teenager; and perhaps if a black police officer shot a white teenager, there would have been no lootings in Ferguson, MO; no businesses would have been burned there; neither President Obama nor Attorney General Eric Holder would have expressed an opinion on the event; and the media would have not covered it.

The only reason for interest and the tension that it has evoked has, unfortunately, nothing to do with the late Mr. Brown.  It has to do with race and, more specifically, the allegation that the black community has no reason to have confidence that the police are there to protect them but rather, Mexican style, are self-serving racists whose ultimate goal is their annihilation.  If that theory were in fact true, there would be legitimate reason for concern by the citizens of Ferguson, MO.  There would then be validation for their peaceful protests – although it is hard to understand how committing additional crimes such as lootings and burnings can be justified, efforts to the contrary notwithstanding.

Neither my readers nor I have all the facts and details of what happened between Michael Brown and Officer Wilson.  Hopefully, the Grand Jury will have those presented to them and will make an informed and fair judgment based on what they review.  And, whatever their decision, it is incumbent on those who truly want to live in a country where the rule of law is respected to accept that verdict.  Otherwise we invite upon ourselves a system of “justice” like that which we just saw in Mexico.  And that is something that no intelligent person would bring down on his own head.

We know how that system played out in Mexico.  We’ll soon see how things work out in Ferguson, MO.

PIPE DREAMS

After a mere five years’ worth of dawdling which is possibly a record even for moribund Washington, D. C., the Congress is now going to take up a vote on the Keystone XL Pipeline. The timing of this couldn’t be more transparent as Sen. Mary Landrieu grasps at straws to maintain her seat in the upper chamber for a fourth term – a contest to be decided on December 6th.  This caused me to refresh myself on the definition of a word that I think describes the reason that so many of us voted to change the makeup of not only the Congress but further entrenched Republicans in many many statehouses and legislatures.

Cynic – A person who believes that people are motivated purely by self-interest rather than acting for honorable or unselfish reasons.

The timing of the pipeline vote, while clearly an attempt to salvage Senator Landrieu’s sinking campaign comes at an interesting moment in history as the president, acting in his capacity as Chief of Negotiating Bad Deals, makes a commitment that the United States, the world’s second biggest “polluter” will make further efforts to reign in our carbon dioxide emissions while the People’s Republic of China, the world’s worst polluter will be allowed to continue to increase their emissions until the year 2030 and then will “try” to limit those going forward.

Obama has characterized “climate change” as the most pressing issue of our time and has devoted himself during the remainder of his term to focusing on addressing the “problem.”  By pressing, if you are to accept the arguments that are advanced on the imperiling effects of “climate change,” if we delay taking remedial action even for one day, we take the risk of having put ourselves on a path which has only one ultimate destination – driving the planet past the point of no return and wiping out all life on Earth.

If those who consider themselves “environmental good guys” wonder why, despite the purported agreement of 97% of the “scientific community” that greenhouse gases are the root cause for “climate change,” there are still “deniers” who reject or at the least question their conclusions, it might be that the message which they are peddling is inconsistent.

If we are about to head into the abyss, then it is incomprehensible how the person who has the unique position of being President of the United States, a position which still has some swag, although a declining amount, throughout the world could even consider an agreement with China which allows them to increase and further entrench themselves as the world’s worst polluter – for at least another fifteen years.  Particularly if that president has gone on record as saying this is the most important issue facing the nation and the world.

The delay in determining the debate on Keystone XL has, of course, centered around the purported environmental impact which building and using it might cause.  I think it would be fair to say that no one, not the drillers, not the owners of the pipeline nor any reasonable person would want to develop a project that had the potential for causing hazardous leaks.  The operators would, should such an event occur, lose revenue and would undoubtedly be subject to significant fines.  It is in their own best interest to make sure that the pipeline, if constructed, not only functions as intended but does so efficiently on a consistent basis.  The “environmentalist” side argues that no such assurances can be given.

The proposed pipeline was intended to be developed in four separate stages, three of which have been completed and comprise an already built 2,151 miles of pipe.  That portion of the project is fully operational.  The fourth phase, the one under consideration, would be composed of an approximately similar additional amount of pipe.  In total, the entire project is composed of less than five thousand miles of pipe.  America currently has a network of more than 185,000 miles of liquid petroleum pipelines, nearly 320,000 miles of gas transmission pipelines, and more than 2 million miles of gas distribution pipelines according to the National Resources Defense Council, an organization that has opposed the completion of the pipeline.  We already rely heavily on pipelines to move energy from the source of production to refineries and then the ultimate consumer.

Perhaps the most direct correlation between Keystone XL would be to the Trans-Alaska Pipeline – now forty years old.  Have there been leaks and spillages that have affected that Alaska Pipeline?  The answer is yes – there have been two that have been of significance in its forty year life.  And both of those were caused by saboteurs who purposely attacked the pipeline.  One of those was an “environmentalist” and the other was a drunk.  Should we expect the same if Keystone XL is finally approved?  Well, there are more “environmentalists” now than forty years ago – and anyone who both watches and is concerned by the machinations of this administration is probably an excellent candidate for over indulging in demon rum.

The spectre of true environmental damage, if left alone, stemming from the pipeline seems minimal at most.  Virtually every scientific study that has examined the question has returned that same verdict.  Whether the pipeline would offer continuing high salary employment to tens of thousands is a matter for debate – but it is not debatable that, at the very least, it would provide employment to thousands during its construction.  And the argument that it would not benefit Americans by way of lower energy prices as the pipeline’s product would be shipped overseas, ignores the facts of a global economy in which greater production of a product tends to lower the price of that product everywhere that it is consumed.

The real argument, one which you will seldom if ever hear, is that the “environmentalists” want to replace all fossil fuels with renewable alternate sources of energy.  While that goal might be admirable, it is, at best, unlikely as even the most optimistic sources feel that green energy might someday provide the world with ten percent of our needs.  That falls on deaf ears for people who believe that the only way we will seriously attempt to find new ways to invent green energy is if we make it so painful to use traditional fossil fuels by making them so expensive that we are forced into the effort.  Reaching that goal, whatever the price, is their “admirable” aim – and it doesn’t matter to them that hundreds of thousands might die in the process because they cannot afford to turn on and pay for the heat on which they relied their entire lives.

I try to approach every question, particularly ones of importance, such as the Keystone XL Pipeline and green energy, conservation and environmentalism, with an open mind.  It would be refreshing if those who argue their position on whichever side of the issue, were actually honest and transparent.  Like much of the dogma which is preached by the left, those are two qualities that are conspicuous by their absence.  Dishonesty is one of the things that turns me off the fastest.

Perhaps one day those in the liberal camp will wake up and have an epiphany.  They’ll get out of bed and find that Santa has left them a present – a new pair of “Big Boy Pants.”  And they’ll advocate for their position truthfully and without deception.  That will be the day I will take them seriously and listen to their position with interest and without prejudice.  But that event, should it ever occur, seems to be something belonging to a far distant future.  Or that it will ever occur – well, perhaps that’s just a pipe dream.

THE LONGEST DAY

It began at four a.m., waking up, hitting the shower and making sure that my game plan was in order and ready for execution.  I seldom ate breakfast because my stomach was always nervous.  It was election day, another cold, bleak November morning – and time to place wake up calls to the lieutenants in the field – to make sure they were ready for the ensuing battle.  It was Chicago – and we were outnumbered and under-armed – but we would once again venture into the fray, if not expecting victory, intent on doing our best as a matter of civic pride and honor.  Despite the overwhelming odds we were going to give it our best shot – and make sure that each of our voters made it to the polls.

By six the polling place next door to my apartment building had opened for business.  It was the responsibility of my volunteer poll watchers to make sure that within the precinct no monkey business was conducted.  In some years, depending on the intensity of the election and the offices up for grabs, that proved more difficult.  But I had learned some tactics over the eight years I had engaged in this campaign and had pre-planned to minimize or negate the enemy’s tactics.  There’s one good thing about having your opponent stick with a tried and true plan.  They seldom deviated from it – which provided as much insight as the opposition coach getting his hand on the other team’s playbook.

My Democrat counterpart was an efficient woman who had run the precinct as though it was her own (and it pretty much was) for decades.  Although it could never be proven, her job with the Corporation Counsel’s office depended on her getting out her voters and bringing in the precinct with both a vast Democrat majority and a large percentage of voters having cast their ballots.  The goal was 100% of those who had registered as Democrats.  She usually came pretty close to bringing in that number.

But for those who had indicated no party affiliation on their registration she had one last tool that she had employed with success for many elections – a last minute reminder that the Chicago machine wanted them to have before they cast their ballot.

Officially, there was to be no “politicking” within 100 feet of the entrance to the polling place.  So the night before the election she would park her car directly in front of the entrance and put placards and bumper stickers within the car – and leave it there.  The car was parked legally, even if the material in the windshield and side windows was not supposed to be displayed.  That year I beat her to the punch.  I waited until that space was available a few days earlier and parked my car there – and then took the bus to work until election day.  She was not amused at my defusing her strategy – and on election day she let me know that in no uncertain terms.  Despite my having acquired this most desirable spot, I did respect the laws and did not have any political placards within the car.

In those days, prior to early voting, election day was the day for casting a ballot.  The number of absentee ballots represented a fraction of one percent of eligible votes that would be cast.  So the primary job was to make sure that my voters got to the polls.  In close co-ordination with the poll watcher who was keeping track of who had voted, this meant placing calls, ringing doorbells and, most importantly, transporting those who were elderly to the polls by car.  Of course I had to rent a car for the day as mine was situated in front of the polling place’s door.  I didn’t have a cushy job with the city or any other government agency – so I bore that expense myself.

On election day there was usually a large group of voters who would show up as soon as the polls opened so that they could do their duty and then go to work.  After that initial flurry it quieted down with people coming in sporadically through the midmorning and early afternoon.  This was an ideal time for me to garner my voters and drive them to the poll.  As we approached the closing at seven p.m., the pace picked up once again.  And after the last voter in line had cast her ballot, the poll was officially declared closed by the Judges of Election.  It was now time to record the results from the back of the voting machines.

Someone once said, “It isn’t how you voted – it’s who counts the votes.”  That someone must have been a Chicago resident.  As the two Judges read off the tally for each office, my poll watchers and I verified the accuracy of the number they claimed was on the machine – and one of us watched as that number was written down on the official tally sheet.  On more than one occasion we found that “237” was written down as “327”.  Perhaps it was an honest mistake – or perhaps not.  The Democrats talk about their famous ground game – and transposition of numbers was part of it – at least in the Windy City.

Fortunately, because of the lulls in voting during much of the day, I had the opportunity to run home and walk and feed the dogs.  I think they sensed that something was up and they weren’t going to be on their normal schedule.  My Irish Setter, Tristan gave me a look that said, “Why are you doing this to me?”  But he was a forgiving sort and I always tried to have an extra special dinner for him and his Belgian Shepherd/Newfoundland mix companion, Josh.  Josh was a lot more tolerant than his compadre.  So the two of them got their dinner off schedule and after they had eaten I returned to the poll for the countdown.

Other than in years when there were a large number of judicial paper ballots, I usually got home at nine, after recording all the numbers for each office on my own tally sheet to be turned in to Republican headquarters to make sure that they hadn’t been changed en route to the Chicago Board of Elections’ offices when the official canvass was conducted later in the week.  In one respect, there are those who might consider this an exercise in futility as the final score was always lopsided: Democrats – a million; Visitors – forty-seven.

Looking at the final tally, a reasonable person might argue that, “Only an idiot or a masochist would expend the amount of time and effort just to prove that once again he or she would go down in flames.”  But to my way of thinking, my job, irrespective of how bleak the results, was to get out every one of the comparatively few votes on which I could rely – and if I succeeded in doing that – I had accomplished my mission.

The other day at his news conference, President Obama, in commenting on the election results, made the point that, “Two thirds of the eligible electorate didn’t vote.”  Somehow we were to take that as a tacit endorsement by those non-voters that they approved his policies and had they bothered to show up, things would have been different.  That statement stems from pure vainglory and wishful thinking on the president’s part.

We have made it so easy to vote – in my view, too easy – that those who do not exercise this fundamental right and obligation, have no voice in the discussion.  They themselves, not restrictive voter ID laws, bad weather or any other excuse, are responsible for their lack of civic duty.  And if they want to stay home again two years from now, it would be fine with me.

A CONCISE ANALYSIS OF THE 2014 ELECTION RESULTS

 

“You can fool all the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time.”

– Abraham Lincoln

FOLLOW THE LIEDER

 

Despite his brief thirty-one years, Franz Schubert was one of the most prolific composers of the classical age.  Among other compositions, he had more than six hundred secular songs (lieder) to his credit.  “Die Forelle” is one of the most charming and best known of these.

I’m fairly certain that when Schubert composed this song he was thinking little more than of an encounter between the fish and fisherman – which ended badly for the trout.  But as I listened to this lovely song I thought to myself that there is a clear analogy between the story Schubert told and our world today.

Perhaps you’ve heard President Obama’s recent statement that, “This is the world’s most tranquil period in human history.”  I know that he recently went to Colorado to fund raise.  Perhaps he stopped at one of the recently opened marijuana shops and picked up a stash of weed.

Domestically we have an influx  of illegals entering the country.  Sadly, some of them are trying to escape horrible conditions in their home countries and we all, if we are compassionate, have concern for them – whether they are children or adults.  But before we offer our largesse to these visitors, ought we not have at least as much concern for our own citizens – particularly our black citizens – who live in our inner cities and are subject to as much violence as any of these newcomers?  Two thirds of American voters believe that is the case.

In addition to NSA spying on everyone in the world with a phone or an email account we now find out that the CIA which is supposed to operate only internationally has been prying into the private affairs of U. S. senators.  More is being revealed daily that the “phony scandal” at the IRS seems to be a calculated plan to destroy the administration’s opposition politically.  Whether the sole perpetrator of the conspiracy was Lois Lerner or whether others were both willing and involved participants remains to be learned.

We as a nation have now given Obamacare it’s worst approval rating since it began to be implemented.  This FUBAR law has yet to see its most important implications but those will be coming soon as insurers review their pool of customers (as best they can as there are many who think they are insured but are regularly being denied coverage since healthcare.gov’s back end still isn’t function correctly despite the system’s $800 million cost) and consumers who don’t like the law now are in for a big surprise as they receive their premium notices for 2015 and the employer mandate kicks in finally.

Internationally – well, where do we even start?  There is a mini war going on in Ukraine.  Two weeks after the downing of MH 17 there are still the bodies of eighty victims rotting in the fields.  An Ebola epidemic is breaking out in west Africa – with possible worldwide consequences should it be exported.  Hamas has already broken this weekend’s 72 hour cease fire with Israel – hours after it was adopted.  ISIS claims to have taken over and is now in control of Benghazi, Libya.  This list is far from complete.  If this is tranquility then it is hard for me to imagine what turmoil must look like.

With this litany of issues that are fomenting, what do we see our government doing?  The quick answer is that like our clever fisherman who stirred up the waters to muddy the hapless trout’s perspective, the administration is trying to focus the public’s attention on things like a purported impeachment effort (this is pure hype) and the injustice that heaps opprobrium on any caring citizen because of the Washington Redskins team name.  To quote one of my favorite political pundits of all time, Charlie Brown, “Good grief.”

The president and his administration have added an entirely new meaning to the expression, “Muddying up the waters.”  It’s only a shame that those who voted for a second four year Obama administration and now regret that decision hadn’t the perspicacity to see what so many of us realized in 2008 and got hooked when the waters were still clear.

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