Tonight President Obama will deliver his third State of the Union address, but something that happened yesterday illustrates the true state of our union far better than anything you’ll hear tonight. As we reported yesterday, Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.) was detained by Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officials at the Nashville International Airport. Paul was detained by TSA officials after refusing an invasive full body pat-down following some kind of anomaly in the body scanner’s reading. Some might argue that there’s nothing to get worked up about here. After all, shouldn’t we expect senators to be treated like everyone else? But it is precisely because everyday citizens are subjected to these invasive procedures on a daily basis that Sen. Paul’s detention is so alarming. His high-profile detention by the TSA serves as a reminder that Americans are having their privacy violated every day on their way through the nation’s airports.
You probably won’t hear about Sen. Paul’s detention by the TSA in President Obama’s address tonight. You’re not likely to hear anything about it in the GOP response delivered by Governor Mitch Daniels (R-Ind.), nor even in the Tea Party response offered by businessman and former presidential candidate Herman Cain (R-Ga.). You probably won’t hear about the National Defense Authorization Act, the Stop Online Piracy Act, or any of the other manifold ways that Washington has undermined the Bill of Rights. But whether our politicians want to raise these issues or not, these are the issues that define the state of our union in the 21st century. And the state of our union is dire.
I like to think that while I am a very well informed person when it comes to US political news, I generally remain somewhat detached regarding what the latest artificially created crisis du jour facing the nation is. I find that regardless of what dire consequence both sides try to convince us will happen if the other side gets their way, life goes on, business as usual for the rest of us, and inevitably some compromise is reached which allows both sides to claim victory. It is a cycle I’ve seen play out so many times in my relatively short time on Earth that I find it quite comical. However, I do find my blood pressure rise ever so slightly when contemplating the mismanagement and lack of leadership in energy policy in this country. The recent Keystone XL Pipeline debacle is a perfect example of how DC politicians chose to put political posturing ahead of US energy security, national security and true environmental policy.
Given President Obama’s first instincts to centralize power in Washington and expand his own executive power, it might seem unlikely that he would issue a veto threat against the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and its Senate counterpart, the Protect IP Act (PIPA). But we might be able to persuade him if we speak in language that is well understood at the White House, which is the language of reelection. While the Obama campaign might think backing SOPA/PIPA will help the president’s reelection efforts by way of generous campaign contributions from Hollywood, the White House might want to consider that signing SOPA/PIPA into law could damage his chances of reelection in at least five important ways.
1. SOPA/PIPA will alienate independents. No question about it, independents love and are well-informed about threats to their civil liberties. The Obama campaign might want to remember an ACLU poll from 2007 that showed a large majority of independents insisting that the next president should restore civil liberties that were eroded during the eight years of the Bush administration. That President Obama largely hasn’t restored those civil liberties hasn’t gone unnoticed. Maybe that’s why new polling shows Ron Paul and Mitt Romney beating Obama and even Rick Santorum nipping at his heels among independents. Many independents are independents precisely because they don’t trust either party to protect their civil liberties. Obama can kiss those independent voters goodbye if he signs SOPA/PIPA into law.
A few days after the 2008 elections, Valerie Jarrett, co-chair of President-Elect Obama’s transition team, was interviewed by Tom Brokaw on “Meet the Press”, where she stated: “ [Obama] is prepared to really take power and begin to rule day one.” At the time it was written off by most as simply a poor choice of words, but after the last three years in which Obama has compiled an inglorious record of contempt for the Constitution, Jarrett’s words now have proven prophetic. Obama has even surpassed FDR in the sheer brazenness of his contempt for our nation as a rule of law under the Constitution, and in attempts to make servants of the other co-equal branches of government.
Obama truly seems to see himself in the role of a king, with power to enforce his agenda by sheer will, ignoring law and precedent in crushing opposition to his executive branch tyranny. Two recent events have added to our despicable president’s legacy of corruption, disdain and contempt for the Constitution; his signing of the National Defense Appropriations Act, which funds military and defense operations, but that also contains a provision that should terrify every American that loves freedom; and Obama’s appointment of Richard Cordray as Director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, a new agency created by the Dodd-Frank financial reform law.
There’s an old saying, “What’s good for the goose is good for the gander.” For the metaphorically impared among you, it means that if something is acceptable for one person to do, then it should be equally acceptable when another does the exact same thing. Failure to adhere to this is generally called hypocrisy.
So, now that President Obama has made three recess appointments - you know, without Congress actually being in recess or anything - there is a factor out there that’s not really being discussed. Sure, many people are arguing against the constitutionality of his actions, and rightly so. However, the question I have is whether Democrats who are applauding this move now will do so when a Republican president tries it a few years down the road?
For the record, I’m going to guess that they won’t be as understanding.
This isn’t a new phenomenon in politics in the least. Look at arguments against President Clinton getting us involved in Kosovo. They look remarkably like arguments made against President Bush getting us involved in Iraq (including the idea that we should get United Nations support). The only difference was the speakers. On the flip side, the arguments for going into Kosovo were mirrored by the other side leading up to our invasion of Iraq.
The thing is, these kinds of moves only create a precedent by which the other side can try the exact same thing next time around. However, many progressives are applauding the action. Many conservatives are denouncing it. I’m willing to bet that the next time around, the roles will be a complete 180 from where they are now and I would laugh if it wasn’t so tragic.
We’re winding down on another year. Much like recent years, 2011 represented challenges for liberty and the Constitution. These hurdles came from all sides, including the Obama Administration and Republicans in Congress, and we are ending the year a little less free than in 2010.
Below is a recap of some of bigger stories of the year that were covered here at United Liberty (though a couple are thrown in for fun). Thanks for reading in what was a record breaking year for this blog. We appreciate the readership and hope you’ll keep coming back in 2012
Happy New Year!
— The Death of Osama bin Laden (Jason Pye): On Sunday, May 1st, word broke that the White House had called notified the press of a major announcement. You could tell that it was a significant event since the president was making such a statement late on a Sunday evening.As you probably remember, wild speculation started almost immediately as many people said that it could have only meant a couple of things, either we were going to war or Osama bin Laden had finally been captured.
Around 11pm, President Barack Obama told Americans that, after nearly 10 years after murdering nearly 3,000 innocent people, Osama bin Laden was dead. Bin Laden, leader of the terrorist group, al-Qaeda, was killed in Abbottabad, Pakistan by a group of Navy SEALS at a compound that he had lived in for five years.
[UPDATE - 7:23pm] The United States Senate passed the NDAA this evening by a vote of 86 to 13. It will now head to President Obama’s desk for approval.
As noted yesterday, House and Senate conferees were moving the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) forward to the final action in both chambers with compromise legislation that kept in controversial language that would allow for the indefinite detention of American citizens and legal residents of the United States.
Unfortunately, the House of Representatives passed the NDAA overwhelmingly last night by a vote of 283 to 136. You can see how your representative and the members of your state’s delegation voted here. It now heads to the Senate for final passage.
For those of you that are just now catching up on this, the House basically voted last night to suspend the right to due process, the right to a trial by a jury of an accuser’s peers, and the right to habeas corpus. And now that the so-called “war on terror” has been expanded to include not only al-Qaeda but also the Taliban and other “associated forces.” Given the war on terrorism has become an open-ended war with civil liberties being offered by Congress on the alter of the “national security,” this provision will be no doubt be abused; if not by this administration than the next.
It was also noted that the White House asked for the language, at least according to Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI). So it should come as no surprise that the White House has backed off veto threats of the NDAA:
This evening, I spoke on the floor of the House of Representatives against Section 1021 — the indefinite detention language — of the National Defense Authorization Act, which passed this evening. You can read my comments on this provision below the video:
I rise in opposition to Section 1021 of the underlying Conference Report (H.R. 1540, the National Defense Authorization Act).
This section specifically affirms that the President has the authority to deny due process to any American it charges with “substantially supporting al Qaeda, the Taliban or any ‘associated forces’” – whatever that means.
Would “substantial support” of an “associated force,” mean linking a web-site to a web-site that links to a web-site affiliated with al-Qaeda? We don’t know. The question is, “do we really want to find out?”
We’re told not to worry – that the bill explicitly states that nothing in it shall alter existing law.
One of the most disturbing trends I’ve witnessed over these last few years is a coordinated attack from the left on the institutions and principles that make America great. Maybe nowhere has this been more evident than in the vitriol spewed by our eternal Campaigner-in-Chief and his dutiful Minions of Social Justice, all bemoaning the evils of capitalism, and the inequity of wealth distribution (although oddly, their desire for more equal distribution does not extend to income taxes, where the top one percent earn 19% of the income and pay 40% of all income taxes, while the bottom fifty percent that pay exactly zero).
Obama has set so many straw men on fire that he’s now the leading cause of global warming. He accused doctors of slicing out tonsils and amputating limbs just to bill a few more dollars to insurance companies. He’s accused business owners of not caring about their employees and only about their company’s bottom line. He accused the Chamber of Commerce, without proof, of using foreign money to buy elections. His NLRB threatened Boeing for opening a new, billion dollar plant in right-to-work South Carolina, and his wife urged young students not to go into the corporate world, but rather “work for the community” like her community organizer husband, as if bringing valued goods and services and the accompanying jobs and wealth into the community was not a worthwhile endeavor.
When did we reach the point where we extol the timid and the parasitic? Where wealth creation was bad, and the American Dream had been supplanted by a desire for European-style social welfare? We don’t even have to look back in history to see what a nightmare this is; we just have to turn on the news. The Greeks are rioting in the streets at the thought of giving up an ounce of their lavish social welfare benefits, and the European Union is at the brink of collapse as it struggles under the weight of its debt driven by these welfare state policies.
I need to offer an apology. For the last couple of months I’ve been highly critical of the Occupy Wall Street movement, accusing them of being violent, misbehaved, clueless social malcontents. However, in light of recent events, I’ve concluded I was wrong, and we should embrace the philosophy of government enforced equality for all. No more disparities in anything we do or have, just an equal distribution of everything to everyone.
I had this epiphany a few days ago while watching ESPN and coverage of the NBA lockout, now nearing its 150th day. What it boils down to is multi-millionaire owners and multi-millionaire players arguing over who gets the biggest piece of a multi-billion dollar league revenue pie. I realized that all of this bickering could be resolved by implementing the demands of equality espoused by the Occupy Wall Street protestors.
So here’s the deal…since President Obama wants to increase taxes on “the rich” who need to “pay their fair share” so that we can “spread the wealth”, we simply set the maximum NBA player salary at the level Obama defines as “rich”, which is $200,000 for an individual. That is $50,000 more per year that what it takes to be in the Top 5% of income earners in this country (a threshold which starts at just under $160,000). In fact, that will be the salary for EVERY NBA player, because it is immoral to discriminate simply on the basis of talent, productivity or some other performance-based metric. Just because one player was not born with the natural talent of another player, or refused to succumb to the oppressive dictates of some evil corporation (after all, the NBA is basically a big corporation) with its constant demands to maintain physical fitness and practice all the time, doesn’t mean they should be punished.