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Archive for May, 2013

As Washington DC stews in the mix of several scandals, several of which demonstrate little or no regard to the rule of law, I’ve been thinking about “What It REALLY Means™”, and as per usual, I expect that my conclusions won’t be very well received.

Consider: 

1.  Ample evidence to suggest not only that the Administration left Ambassador Chris Stevens and 3 other Americans to die in Benghazi, knowing they were under attack, but it participated in crafting deliberate lies then shopped to the American public about that attack on our consulate there.

2.  HHS Secretary Kathy “I never met a baby I didn’t have a plan to kill” Sebelius making phone calls to health care companies…companies that will be regulated by her agency when ObamaCare reaches its full killing potential…to solicit funds to help pay for this usurpation of authority.  From inside her agency.

3.  The IRS conducting targeted harassment and investigations of conservative Americans trying to obtain 501(c)(3) status for their groups.   And the more that is revealed, the more it seems that this harassment intruded on First Amendment rights, and spilled over in the private lives and businesses of some of these individuals.   And in an agency that has regulations for how its agents are supposed to sit at their desk or how they are to drink coffee, those in supervisory positions would have us believe that this was the work of a few improperly supervised low-level employees in just a few offices, despite the growing evidence that it was anything but, and invocations of the Fifth Amendment by those in a position to know better.  Never mind the hundreds of visits to the White House by Commissioner Doug Schulman during this time.  This isn’t the gross and systematic abuse of power you’re looking for.

4.  Eric Holder’s DOJ wiretapping 20 AP phones in an effort to get to the bottom of a leak that revealed what was obvious to anyone who has mocked the North Koreans at any time in the last 20 years.  But he didn’t know anything about it, because he recused himself.  He just can’t say when he did it, he didn’t put it in writing so subordinates could KNOW that he recused himself, and not report to him on the matter, and avoiding this unnecessary and redundant step would be standard operating procedure for an attorney professional enough to be appointed Attorney General of the United States.  If the United States was a banana republic.

5.  Eric Holder’s DOJ made allegations of criminal activity by FOX reporter James Rosen in order to tap his phones, private emails, and those of his parents, too.   But again, AG Holder claims to have recused himself, and that he knows “nussink…NUSSINK” about any of this.  I can only assume that he did this AFTER he signed the documents seeking the warrants.

So to recap, we have an Administration venial enough to let Americans die when they didn’t have to, as there were multiple resources available to mount a rescue mission.  Then this Administration, and the State Department meticulously edit and re-edit the “talking points” until the only thing true in them was that the Ambassador and his 3 companions were killed.  They then picked a State Department flack who had no trouble selling a lie, and sent her out to peddle the story.

Then we have a Cabinet Secretary extorting money from those that she is to be regulating, and doing it on government time, with government resources.

We have the most brutal collection agency on the planet, and the only part of the US Government that gets to proceed under the presumption that you are guilty until you prove your innocence targeting Americans who have a political philosophy that is at odds with the political philosophy of the Administration, while the Commissioner of the IRS is meeting with the White House more than 100 times.

And we have a Department of Justice run by a second-rate attorney and thug who has proven to indulge excess and disregard for the Constitution he is sworn to uphold, who also has no problem perjuring himself when he is asked about it under oath.

So tell me, when you consider all of this, are you so silly to think that government can be entrusted with the decision to kill US Citizens abroad?  I have been thinking about this off and on for about a week now, and I think back to my previous post on the DOJ White Paper that outlined the government’s guidelines for making the decision to kill citizens abroad with drones.

And I specifically considered the test set forth by the DOJ:

“In the view of these interests and practical considerations, the United States would be able to use lethal force against a U.S. citizen, who is located outside the United States and is an operational leader continually planning attacks against U.S. persons and interests, in at least the following circumstances:

(1) where an informed, high-level official of the U.S. government has determined that the targeted individual poses an imminent threat of violent attack against the United States;

(2) where a capture operation would be infeasible—and where those conducting the operation continue to monitor whether a capture operation becomes feasible; and

(3) where such an operation would be conducted with applicable law of war principles.”

Given what we’ve heard over the last few weeks, I’m not sure we have a high-level official of the U.S. government who is “informed” about anything.  And the fact that the “test” has a checklist of circumstances isn’t particularly reassuring, seeing as there are laws and rules and regulations that are in place NOW that government officials and employees can’t seem to be bothered with following when doing so would crimp their attempts to advance their ideology.  If there is nothing wrong with using your office to shake down companies and bring the force of the IRS to bear on American citizens trying to exercise their Constitutional rights, then why would any thinking person believe that it would be wrong to indiscriminately target Americans abroad if they were of the wrong political persuasion?  And to all of those who were filled with snark over the delayed answer from Attorney General Holder on the DOJ’s position on the use of drones to kill citizens here at home…it shouldn’t see quite so silly anymore, nor should you be as trusting of his answer as you were before.

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U.S. DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE
Economics and Statistics Administration
U.S. CENSUS BUREAU
1201 East 10th Street
Jeffersonville IN 47132-0001

Re: American Community Survey

Dear Sirs:

I am writing to thank you for your gracious requests that I take part in your American Community Survey…the requests that also prominently contained the admonition that “YOUR RESPONSE IS REQUIRED BY LAW.”   However, despite your shotgun “invitations” to take the survey, I’m afraid I must respectfully decline.

You see, while the Census is mentioned in the Constitution, it exists for the purpose figuring out the population of the country, and where people live, so that Congressional delegation size and apportionment may be determined for the states. As a citizen, I am happy to truthfully and accurately report to you how many people reside in my home. Unfortunately, that is as much of an intrusion into my privacy and my time as I am willing to tolerate from your agency, as I already informed you when I received the “long form” in the last census.

I appreciate your efforts to be as appealing as possible, however, the disclosure that filling out the paper questionnaire, that you sent to me unsolicited, should only take me about 40 minutes really doesn’t move me to comply with your attempts at information gathering. I am a busy attorney and a full-time parent. Spending the better part of an hour revealing not just information you have absolutely no business asking me to give you, but information that is of a sensitive nature, and could be abused to my detriment, and then expecting me to simply do it for free is truly unacceptable. If you were serious, you should be offering to pay me for an hour of my time, which I bill out at $200.00 an hour, by the way. You still wouldn’t be likely to get my cooperation, but at least I wouldn’t get the distinct impression that you all sit around laughing at what rubes the people you send these coercive “requests” to must be.

I’m going to be frank with you. I’m not going to give you the names, ages, birthdate, race, and relationships to each other of everyone who lives under my roof. As I’m sure you are aware, such information would be very useful to identity thieves, and while I might voluntarily share at least some of that information with other entities, such as banks or credit card companies, I would do so with the expectation of an exchange of value.

Likewise, I am not going to tell you what kind of home I reside in, when it was built, and when each of us came to live here. Nor am I interested in telling you the acreage. Much of that information can be gleaned online from county records, and I have no interest in doing that work for you. It is also none of your business whether or not I operate a business out of any part of the property, or how much was earned in the last 12 months from the agricultural sales on the property. You could learn the answer to either of those questions from the IRS, and regardless of unequivocal rules prohibiting them from sharing taxpayer information outside of the agency, recent events have proven them all too willing to do so.

It is none of the federal government’s business if I have hot and cold running water, a flush toilet, a bathtub or a shower, a sink with a faucet, a stove or a range, a refrigerator, or a computer, let alone what kind of computer or the number of computers. You don’t need to know if I have internet access, or what kind of access I have.

I’m not telling you how many automobiles are owned by members of this household, how we heat our home, the amount of our monthly electric bill, our monthly gas bill, our sewer and water bill, or the cost of fuels used in our home.

I’m not going to tell you if we have used SNAP benefits in the last 12 months, if we have a condo fee, or if we rent. I’m not going to tell you what I think my residence is worth, what my annual property taxes cost, or the cost of fire, hazard, and flood insurance for our home. I’m not going to tell you if I have a Deed of Trust on the property, or whether my property taxes, or homeowners insurance are included in my house payment. I’m not going to tell you if I have a second mortgage on the property, or how much I pay altogether for both if I do. All of this information is already known to other governmental entities, and again, I have no interest in becoming an unpaid data collector.

I absolutely will not tell you the education level for every person in my home. It is also none of your business what kind of health insurance we may or may not have. You don’t need to know if any of us has trouble hearing or seeing, if we have trouble remembering or making decisions, if we have trouble walking or climbing the stairs, or difficulty bathing or dressing ourselves. I’m not going to tell you if any of us have trouble with daily errands because of some infirmity.

Our marital status is none of your business. Nor is whether or not any of us has ever been divorced, how many times we’ve been married, or if anyone has given birth in the last 12 months. If any of us was currently in the armed forces, or had previously served, the federal government would already know, as it would also know if anyone here was receiving disability, and for what degree.

You don’t need to know if anyone here worked for pay last week, where we worked, including address, how we got to work, whether or not we shared a ride, how long it took any of us to get to work or to get home. You don’t need to know what kind of work I do, who I work for, the industry I work in, what kind of work I do, or what my duties are. You don’t need to know my income, or the sources of my income.

While I’m sure that knowing all of this information would undoubtedly be useful to Congress in their never-ending shopping trip to buy votes with the public fisc, the fact of the matter is that the federal government continues to expand far outside of the spheres of influence that it was intended to occupy, and as I pointed out, much of this information is known already to state and local authorities, who can at least claim with a shred of honesty and a straight face that they need to know as part of the exercise of their lawful authority. Conversely, the federal government has serious trouble delivering the mail, securing the borders, maintaining the interstate highway system, and running the military, let alone responsibly budgeting the taxpayers’ money…and those are all things that it actually has the lawful authority to do. When you start requesting data that state and local governments need to have, I can only conclude that it is a precursor to yet another usurpation of power or authority that was not specifically delegated to the federal government. While this information is desirable for these purposes, as well as other more innocuous purposes which I’m sure you would be quick to cite if we were discussing this face-to-face, the fact is I can glean the “real” purpose, and I don’t trust you with the information. Yes, I know that you included a nice pamphlet assuring me that all information that I give you won’t be shared, and that it will be kept strictly confidential. Given the recent goings on at the Internal Revenue Service, you really will have to forgive me for not relying on these assurances.  And yes, I took note of the stick you made sure I could see you dangling.  I understand that 13 U.S.C 193 states that ” the Secretary may make surveys and collect such preliminary and supplementary statistics related to the main topic of the census as are necessary to the initiation, taking, or completion thereof.”  However, the information you are attempting to gather is either (a) readily available by other means; (b) information that no other individual or entity would have a right to ask me, and I could sue if they did; and (c) I’m not persuaded that the requested data is preliminary OR supplementary statistics related to the main topic of the census, the purpose of which is clearly delineated in both the U.S. Constitution, Article I, Section 2, Paragraph 3, and 13 U.S.C. 141.  I’ve read 13 U.S.C. 221, by which the federal government means to compel its citizens to participate in this invasion of privacy.  The fine is not overly large, and I have no intention of paying such a fine when you are requesting information that is none of your business, and cannot be reasonably said to comport with the parameters which are imposed on the scope of your data collection to begin with.

In closing, I would like to remind you of a salient fact that you, and your sister agencies in the federal government seem to have lost sight of:  Americans do not like a bully

As an attorney, I have become accustomed to the federal government finding new ways to waste time with various forms, demands, and entire redundant bureaucracies which delight in making citizens, the people for which it ostensibly answers to, dance like trained monkeys, and act under the mistaken belief that they have to simply accept this treatment from an entity which is out of control, and increasingly imposing burdens on the productivity and creativity of a nation while this same government insults, undermines, and lavishly lives off of these very same citizens.  Because I am used to this, I almost let it slide by me without comment, but the passive-aggressive nature of your correspondence regarding this survey was really just too much, especially in light of recent developments showing that the IRS and the Justice Department are out of control.  I hope by publishing this letter, other Americans will also resist your intrusion and presumption, at least that is my hope. 

Sincerely,
An American Citizen Fed Up With Federal Overreach, Presumption, and Arrogance.

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“But at a time when our discourse has become so sharply polarized – at a time when we are far too eager to lay the blame for all that ails the world at the feet of those who think differently than we do – it’s important for us to pause for a moment and make sure that we are talking with each other in a way that heals, not a way that wounds.”

“But what we can’t do is use this tragedy as one more occasion to turn on one another. As we discuss these issues, let each of us do so with a good dose of humility. Rather than pointing fingers or assigning blame, let us use this occasion to expand our moral imaginations, to listen to each other more carefully, to sharpen our instincts for empathy, and remind ourselves of all the ways our hopes and dreams are bound together.”

-President Barack Hussein Obama, Tucson, Arizona, January 12, 2011

When much of the country is looking at the President with new eyes in light of the scandalpalooza that the Administration is mired in, in which deliberately discriminatory behavior against “those who think differently” than those in government and in the White House by several “independent” agencies, as well as lingering questions about Benghazi, Fast and Furious, the AP wiretaps, and the deliberate and intrusive surveillance on questionable grounds of James Rosen and other FOX reporters, and a weak defense that amounts to “We’re incompetent, not evil.”, it would be tempting to sort through the details of each to determine which is this Administration’s biggest failure.  If you were to pursue this inquiry, it wouldn’t be without good cause, but it would be missing the elephant in the room.

The Tucson speech, which I would grudgingly admit was one of the best and most appropriate of his Presidency should also be counted as the indicator of his greatest failure.  While he actually talked about the emotions America was feeling, and speaking honorably, and touchingly of the dead, he also managed to keep from making it about himself, and his wife (Contrast this with his memorial speech after the Boston Marathon bombing to see exactly what I mean.)  While his call for a return to civility in our discourse sounded hollow coming from someone with his record and campaign rhetoric, it turned out to be an opportunity wasted. 

If the President, or his advisors had even a shred of self-awareness,  they might have decided to treat it as an “Only Nixon could go to China.” moment, and deliberately choose to do something that he has never chosen to do his entire time in office:  Lead ALL the American people, rather than calling himself a great uniter when he is in fact a Great Divider. 

I could try to rationalize this by observing that old habits die hard, and being a graduate of the school of Chicago politics, it would require too much of any man.  But the fact is, that after observing his “leadership” for five years, I realize that he needs to be able to blame someone, anyone when nothing changes, when things don’t go as he planned, or when the situation requires leadership he is unable to provide.  Such a man isn’t capable of recognizing that this speech provided him and us with an opportunity for a lasting legacy that doesn’t require any government action at all.  This was a chance to do something that wouldn’t cost a thing, and would have gone a very long way toward ameliorating the “polarization” that he lamented.  But he didn’t, and instead his legacy will be one of encouraging the public revelations of ugliness and hypocrisy by his supporters, such as Lizz Winstead, who in their smugness reveal a lack of compassion and desire for the diversity they pretend to champion with statements like her deleted tweet about the Moore, OK tornado yesterday.

Thanks to his unwillingness to practice what he preached, the world is an uglier place today, and out of his legacy of failure, this may be the most enduring and damaging to the nation.

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TetroIf you’re anything like me, when you see that a filmmaker has put their name in the title of a movie that was not widely released, your “Pretentious Dreck Ahead” alarm probably starts ringing like the government scandal bell in major press outlets this past week.  That said, I wanted a few hours away from that, and as I was looking through my DVDs, this seemed like it might be just the diversion I was looking for.

The movie opens with Benjamin, played by Alden Einreich walking through the streets of Buenos Aries late at night, trying to find the apartment of his older brother, Angelo, played by Vincent Gallo.  When he gets there, he is greeted by Angelo’s girlfriend, Miranda, played by Maribel Verdu, who sets him up on the couch.

As the movie unfolds, we learn that Angelo, who now goes by the name “Tetro”, left New York a decade earlier to go on a writing sabbatical, and never returned, despite promises to his little brother Bennie to do so.  Tetro seems to accept Bennie’s presence, as it will only be five days before the cruise ship Bennie works on will repair its engines, and continue on its way, but he clearly doesn’t want to answer any of Bennie’s questions about the past, about his new life, or much of anything.  He forbids Bennie from telling anyone who their father really is, and makes it clear that family shouldn’t be a topic of discussion with anyone.  He almost grudgingly lets his little brother tag along as he lives the life of a frustrated artist, but won’t even introduce Bennie to his friends as his brother, something that clearly frustrates Bennie.

As the five days pass, Tetro seems to be warming to having Bennie around, and even throws Bennie a party for his 18th birthday, attended by Tetro’s theatre friends.  During this same time, Bennie and Miranda come to know one another, and slowly tease information out of each other about the mysterious Tetro from each other.  As the two exchange information, and Bennie “accidentally” finds his brother’s manuscript, we are treated to flashbacks, set apart from the rest of the film because they are in color, and frame-in-frame, in which we see that their father, played by Klaus Maria Brandauer, a world-famous symphonic conductor, alienates his older brother, steals away 20-year-old Angelo’s girlfriend, and remains distant after a car accident in which Angelo was driving takes the life of his mother, and his father’s first wife.  Miranda finally comes to better understand the man she met in an asylum, and has only understood in pieces.

As fate conspires to keep Bennie in Buenos Aries, Miranda makes sure that Bennie can continue to read the manuscript, and is caught by Tetro doing so.  He naturally feels betrayed, and it immediately cools their rekindled friendship.  Bennie compounds this betrayal, believing that he is helping his brother, ratcheting things up to 11, and leading to the climax in which Tetro has to admit a terrible secret to Bennie, who learns that everything he’s ever known is a lie.

I enjoyed ‘Tetro’, but to be honest, I needed some time to come to that conclusion, which is probably why it was never widely released.  And while it isn’t the first film that I wasn’t quite sure how I felt about after watching, unlike Watchmen, or Defiance, I’m not likely to watch it again, because the journey of discovery is the story, and I don’t think it could ever have the same impact now that I know the real secret of the story.  That doesn’t mean that it wasn’t worth telling, and I’m glad that Coppola got the chance to tell it beautifully.

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Screw Them.

No.  I mean that.  Seriously.

Screw Them.

They REFUSED to see this America-hating empty suit for what he has ALWAYS been.  He told us who he was in lectures, and interviews.  He told us who he is in presumptive and conceited “memoirs” and autobiographies that were in and of themselves, audacious in the belief that a life marked with so little accomplishment in such a short period was somehow worthy of not one, but two tomes dedicated to his self-important navel gazing and intellectual lily-gilding.

And now when he turns the apparatus of Fedzilla loose upon the very people who abdicated their duty to make sure that the electorate knew about the man asking to be made their leader, we’re supposed to share in their outrage?   They were simply late to a party they never thought they’d be invited to. 

I can be happy that they can finally bring themselves to point out their Emperor’s nakedness, but that doesn’t mean that I should or will forgive them for their complacency when it was *only* people like me being targeted by the apparatus of big government lead by a narcissistic popinjay with tyrannical tendencies… or for their refusal to see a pattern of selective enforcement and arbitrary and capricious application of coercion and intimidation.  Or for their ridiculous and insulting focus on people like me who understand the threat to basic Constitutional liberties posed by a government that makes a concerted effort to blame those who oppose overreach combined with a lack of accountability for its failure to completely fulfill its promises to give until it hurts to some from the earnings of others.  Or for their constant attempts to vilify those whose only “offense” was to oppose a government big enough to give them everything they want, because such a government would be big enough to take all we have.

No.  In the face of all the evidence they needed to see this President, and his agenda, and his administration for what it is, and has always been, they chose him anyway, happy to blame those like me for what ails the nation, because they never believed that they would be fed to the alligator.  Welcome to the country you chose.

*walks off whistling Elvis Costello’s ‘Welcome to the Working Week’*

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…is not compatible with the American Mission Statement set forth in the Declaration of Independence.

The Gosnell trial was telling, not only because it revealed a physician running a charnel house that would have to sterilize with a squad of flamethrowers before it could pass inspection as meat-packing plant, but until Katie Pavelich shamed her colleagues into actually reporting on the story, the indifference to it in the legacy media was just as disgusting. While the verdict found the butcher guilty on three counts of murder in the case of babies delivered alive, then nearly beheaded when he “snipped” their spinal cords, even now the usual suspects have engaged in some serious creativity to avoid referring to these babies as babies, since doing so might spark some viewers/readers to consider the weighty question of why exactly a murder verdict is appropriate for children who were only seconds earlier still inside their mothers and fair game for the good doctor to dispatch with relish.

Gosnell’s clinic was by all accounts unsanitary and extremely filthy. This doesn’t just indicate a disregard for the babies he enjoyed dispatching, but a disregard for his “patients”, who were routinely infected with STDs as a result of unsterilized equipment. On its own, it is a stinging indictment of the laughable mantra “Safe, Rare, and Legal”, but coupled with such horrors as jars filled with babies feet, and baby corpses stuffed in a freezer, the evil on the inside becomes physically manifest.

And yet, much like the Bene Geserit Reverend Mother in Lynch’s DUNE whispering “The Spice Must Flow…”, Klanned Murderhood is out, unrepentantly claiming that Gosnell is the exception, making sure that the real questions never get asked because “The [Taxpayer] Money Must Flow.”

We can’t encourage murder for hire by pretending that it’s ok if we call it part of some greater right of “privacy” and then expect that the evil that it is won’t be manifested by the practitioners. It was easy to convict Gosnell because he used the scissors, but the fact is that we’re all guilty for perpetrating the fiction that the taking of the most innocent lives among us is a legitimate “women’s health” procedure. Two go in and one comes out (sometimes) is NOT a health procedure, no matter what the ghouls with the bloody upturned palms tell us.

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Used With Permission.

Hopefully this blog will not survive long term because history will show you to be a fool. A melodramatic and opportunistic one at that.

But don’t worry, I am no fool. If Obama is reelected I know full well you and yours will find some excuse to impeach him. Hopefully it will end like Clinton with you looking purely political and Obama cementing his place among Presidents who left a valuable legacy.

Cheers.

-Rutherford

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