George W. Bush

Obama Makes a Mockery of Due Process, DOJ Memo Justifies Targeted Killing

Imagine that you live in a country that is run by a powerful handful of people that can order the death of any of its citizens, at any time, for any given reason without ever pressing charges against that citizen or bringing him or her to justice.

Imagine that this country you live in has apologists picked by the democratically elected president telling you and your family that what the president decides to do, should be done, whether you like it or not. They claim that his decisions should be supported by you, whether you think that what he’s doing is right or not, or even if what he chooses to do doesn’t represent you or your loved ones in the slightest.

This country is the United States of America, and the handful of people ruling our resources and citizens have a hit list of Americans and non-Americans they can kill at any given time, for any given reason, without due process.

The president’s apologists also want you to believe that that’s okay, he knows exactly what he’s doing and you shouldn’t be afraid.

According to a Washington Post report, President Obama’s hit list, which goes by the title “disposition matrix,” included at least three Americans. During President George W. Bush’s administration, an intelligence official claimed that he “did not know of any American who was approved for targeted killing.” Under Obama, at least three American names are known to have been part of the hit list.

Gallup: Obama’s approval rating hit second-lowest mark of presidency

Barack Obama’s average yearly approval rating fell to the second-lowest point in his fifth year in office, according to a report released this morning by Gallup, and the final quarter of 2013 nearly matched the lowest of his presidency.

Consumed by scandal and controversy, the first year of President Obama second-term in office was a quite a struggle, to say the least, with the White House frequently playing defense. In May, for example, it was revealed that the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) had improperly targets conservative groups seeking nonprofit status.

The following month, in June, the public learned that the National Security Agency (NSA) was collecting phone records of virtually every Americans for domestic surveillance purposes. In the fall, controversy arose over the disastrous Obamacare rollout and millions of health plan cancellations caused by the law, despite frequent assurances from President Obama that Americans could keep their current coverage.

In his fifth year in office, President Obama averaged an approval rating of 45.8%, according to Gallup, the second-lowest point of his presidency.

Gallup based the results on more than 175,000 interviews conducted between January 20, 2013 through January 19, 2014. His third year in office remains President Obama’s worst, when his approval rating averaged 44.4%.

Looking at the fifth-year numbers compared to past two-term presidents, Obama ranks near the bottom, barely surpassing the 45.7% average approval rating of George W. Bush. Richard Nixon has the lowest fifth-year approval rating, at 41.1%.

Lights out on the incandescent bulb

light bulb

Thanks to the 2007 energy bill, passed by a Democratic-controlled Congress and signed into law by President George W. Bush, Americans will no longer be able to purchase 40- and 60-watt incandescent light bulbs at the beginning of 2014. These relatively cheap light bulbs will be phased out by year’s end in favor of pricier, energy efficient light bulbs.

Though supporters of the light bulb ban argue that energy efficient light bulbs will be cheaper in the long haul for energy consumers, the Heritage Foundation points out it’s just another example of government imposing its will on consumers by eliminating choice:

Proponents of government-imposed efficiency standards and regulations will say, “So what? There are still plenty of lighting options on the shelves at Home Depot; we’re saving families money; and we’re reducing harmful climate change emissions.”

The “so what” is that the federal government is taking decisions out of the hands of families and businesses, destroying jobs, and restricting consumer choice in the market. We all have a wide variety of preferences regarding light bulbs. It is not the role of the federal government to override those preferences with what it believes is in our best interest.

Families understand how energy costs impact their lives and make decisions accordingly. Energy efficiency has improved dramatically over the past six decades—long before any national energy efficiency mandates.

Drone strikes fuel terrorism, says Malala Yousafzai

Malala Yousafzai

Malala Yousafzai was returning home from school on 9 October 2012 when Taliban gunmen attempted to assassinate her. She was shot in the neck and in the head as a result of the assassination attempt. Despite the severe wounds and the time she spent in critical condition, Malala was able to recover.

Last Friday, Malala Yousafzai met with President Barack Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama and their daughter Malia in the Oval Office. She talked about her difficulties as a young girl living under Taliban rule and the hardships girls face in Pakistan when they decide they want to obtain an education.

The White House reported that the first couple invited Malala as their guest to discuss her work as an inspiring education activist, but what President wasn’t expecting was to hear what the youngest nominee for the Nobel Peace Prize had to say about this administration’s drone use.

After the meeting, Malala issued a statement expressing her concerns regarding the U.S. drone strikes in Pakistan. She stated that she worries the strikes fuel terrorism by claiming the lives of innocent victims and encouraging Pakistani people to act out of resentment. The White House statement did not mention Malala’s concerns regarding the U.S. drone strikes in Pakistan soil but in Yousafzai’s official statement, however, her words are clear:

“I thanked President Obama for the United States’ work in supporting education in Pakistan and Afghanistan and for Syrian refugees. I also expressed my concerns that drone attacks are fueling terrorism. Innocent victims are killed in these acts, and they lead to resentment among the Pakistani people. If we refocus efforts on education it will make a big impact.”

Syria might be turning neocons into skeptics

John Bolton

If you watch Ed Schultz’s show or read his tweets (and let’s be honest, only schadenfreude-fueled right-wingers do), you’d think that conservatives were leading the march to war in Syria:

Neoconservatives specifically are often assumed to be most forcefully pushing for foreign intervention. In most cases, that has been true. But on Syria, even some of the most boisterous neocons in the past have been cautious or outright skeptical.

John Bolton, George W Bush’s former late-term UN Ambassador, said yesterday that if he were in Congress, he wouldn’t vote to approve a strike on the Assad regime:

“I don’t think it’s in America’s interest. I don’t think we should, in effect, take sides in the Syrian conflict. There’s very little to recommend either side to me. And I think the notion that a limited strike, which is what the president seems to be pursuing, will not create a deterrent effect with respect either to Syria’s use of chemical weapons or, more seriously, Iran’s nuclear weapons program. So, all in all, since I don’t see any utility to the use of military force in Syria in this context, I would vote no.”

There is no smoking gun in Syria

The White House has determined that that the Syrian government carried out a chemical attack against its own citizens. President Barack Obama made the comments during an interview on PBS NewsHour on Wednesday evening.

“We have looked at all the evidence, and we do not believe the opposition possessed nuclear weapons on – or chemical weapons of that sort. We do not believe that, given the delivery systems, using rockets, that the opposition could have carried out these attacks, President Obama told host Judy Woodruff.

“We have concluded that the Syrian government in fact carried these out. And if that’s so, then there need to be international consequences,” he said.

But it seems that it’s anything but clear that this is actually the case. Much like the Bush Administration presented a case for war in Iraq based on a faulty premise, President Obama seems to be ready to go to war based on information that hasn’t actually been confirmed. Moreover, the Obama Administration hasn’t had substantive conversation about Syria with chairman of congressional intelligence committees as they continue to decide what action they will take in the Middle Eastern country.

No, the War Powers Act does not authorize unilateral executive preemptive military action

After the recent chemical attack by the Syrian government on its rebelling citizens, the war drums in Washington DC are rumbling. Ships are positioned, missiles are pointed, sabres are rattled, allies are consulted, the UN is in motion (sluggish, corrupt, meaningless motion). But can the President alone make the decision to attack another nation’s government or military forces? According to the Constitution and the War Powers Act of 1973, the answer is absolutely NO.

After decades of war in Korea and Vietnam without congressional authorization, Congress passed the War Powers Resolution (commonly known now as the War Powers Act) specifically to make explicit limits on the President’s authority to engage in military action. It states that the President can engage in hostilities under only three conditions: a Congressional declaration, other Congressional authorization, or in retaliation for an attack on America.

Section 1541(c)

States fight back against Obama Administration policies

Don't Tread On Me

There has been somewhat of a revival of nullification over the last few years as governors and state legislatures have pushed back against some of the policies pushed by the Obama Administration. While some may scoff at the idea of nullification, citing federal supremacy over states, Washington has passed a number of laws that have passed on heavy costs to states or trample into areas that should left to their control.

Politico recently highlighted the pushback from states on various policies being pushed by the Obama Administration — including gun control, ObamaCare, and REAL ID — and whether it’s an viable tool to buck federal mandates:

Infuriated by what they see as the long arm of Washington reaching into their business, states are increasingly telling the feds: Keep out!

Bills that would negate a variety of federal laws have popped up this year in the vast majority of states — with the amount of anti-federal legislation sharply on the rise during the Obama administration, according to experts.
But critics respond that the flood of legislation to override the feds is folly that won’t stand up in court and amounts to a transparent display of the political and personal distaste for President Barack Obama. And in some cases, the moves in the states have provoked an administration counteroffensive: Attorney General Eric Holder sent a letter to Kansas after it passed the Second Amendment Protection Act threatening legal action if necessary to enforce federal laws.

Wyoming Republicans underwhelmed by Liz Cheney’s primary

Liz Cheney

There a quite a primary fight brewing in Wyoming that highlight the divisions in the Republican Party. Liz Cheney, the daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney, announced last week that she is going to challenge Sen. Mike Enzi in the Republican primary for U.S. Senate in Wyoming.

This isn’t an ordinary primary challenge. Though an incumbent, Enzi has a fairly conservative record. His has a lifetime score of 82% from FreedomWorks and 71% from the Club for Growth. Enzi’s biggest stumble recently was his legislative push for the online sales tax, which was opposed by Tea Party and grassroots organizations.

While Enzi’s voting record isn’t as good as it could be, Cheney isn’t like the primary challengers we’ve seen over the last couple of cycles. Tea Party primary challengers threatened Old Guard Republicans, calling into question big spending and the misguided foreign policy that was so prevalent during George W. Bush’s presidency.

Cheney’s argument for running against Enzi are sort of peculiar. She doesn’t question his credentials or even his record. There are no fundamental differences of which to speak between the two. Her argument for his run is, essentially, that Enzi is too old.

Actor John Cusack not happy with media’s NSA coverage

John Cusack

Yes. We’re still talking about the NSA, the wide range of spying programs the agency continues to run and how Americans are handling the apparent incessant flow of leaks.

Just before enthusiastic reports concerning the NSA whistleblower’s whereabouts, the drama involving the plane carrying Bolivia’s president Evo Morales, and how France and Portugal refused to allow the plane to travel in their airspace came about, actor and producer John Cusack expressed heartfelt umbrage when asked how he felt about the media and its handling of the issues.

“Why are the red and blue elites in the establishment press so afraid of an informed public”? As a Freedom of the Press Foundation’s active board member, John Cusack expressed frustration with the media’s seemingly neglectful coverage of the NSA’s spying programs and distasteful approach to the whistleblower’s character during a recent phone interview.

According to Cusack, the media is doing a great job, if the its sole purpose is to assassinate the whistleblower’s character and avoid tackling the real issues.

The views and opinions expressed by individual authors are not necessarily those of other authors, advertisers, developers or editors at United Liberty.