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Aeschylation

Monday, December 15th, 2014

“In war,” the Greek dramatist Aeschylus told us, “truth is the first casualty.”

This came to mind when Secretary of State John Kerry testified in the Senate last week.

The new Iraq War has been pitched exhaustively to the American people as “only air strikes” and “absolutely no boots on the ground” — even as the Obama Administration continues to send additional U.S. military advisors to place their boots on Iraqi sand (and, at least once thus far, to engage ISIS directly via Apache attack helicopters hovering above Iraqi ground.)

Kerry again assured senators that the president “has been crystal clear that his policy is that U.S. military forces will not be deployed to conduct ground combat operations against ISIL.”

Strangely, however, the Secretary most adamantly urged Senators not to pass an Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) that would restrict President O from doing precisely what he has so often and emphatically pledged not to do: put combat boots on the ground in Iraq.

The fact that the Obama Administration has foreclosed any possibility of putting US troops on the ground to fight, according to Sec. Kerry, “doesn’t mean that we should preemptively bind the hands of the commander in chief or our commanders in the field in responding to scenarios and contingencies that are impossible to foresee.”

Impossible to foresee? Yeah, right. The “no boots” promise provides all the stability of leaves in the wind.

Having any trust in this administration is impossible to foresee.

This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.

Keep Your Money

Friday, December 5th, 2014

“Thanks, but no thanks.”

So says Michigan State Representative Tom McMillin to President Barack Obama.

In response to the police shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, and its aftermath, and then the non-indictment of the officer involved, and its aftermath, President Obama requested that Congress fund a new $263 million Justice Department spending package. Part of the spending, a total of $75 million, would put federal dollars toward outfitting 50,000 local policemen with body cameras.

Rep. Tom McMillin, a Rochester Hills Republican, has introduced House Bill 5970 to require all gun-toting state and local police in Michigan to wear body cameras. The legislation would mandate that video footage be destroyed within weeks except in cases where police use force, make an arrest, a complaint is filed or a request is made by a citizen.

McMillin thanks Obama for supporting the idea of body cameras, but the state rep argues that “providing body cameras to state and local police officers in Michigan isn’t a proper role of the federal government,” adding: “We could figure out how to pay for it here in Michigan.”

“Frankly, the feds have put me and my kids in enough debt,” he says, “I wouldn’t want them adding to it.”

Great point. Plus, the federal government really doesn’t have to pay for every single thing that happens in this world.

I’ve advocated the cameras, calling them “justice vision.” Where tried, the video system has served to protect citizens and police and improve public confidence.

But doing the right thing in our hometowns doesn’t require a Washington bribe.

That’s Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.

Dead Document?

Tuesday, December 2nd, 2014

Could it be? We do not live under the Constitution of the United States. The document has been a dead letter for a century, maybe longer.

Ours is a Post-Constitutional America.

Surely, there have been great moments of executive usurpation.

Andrew Jackson, in defiance of the Supreme Court, and against all normal principles of law and justice, removed the Cherokee from their agrarian holdings in Georgia and contiguous southeastern United States, sending them marching to Oklahoma. The Supreme Court said his order was unconstitutional. Jackson’s response? Not really much different from “nyah nyah, nyah nyah, nyah nyah.”

Much of the Civil War and Reconstruction was undertaken on the shakiest of constitutional grounds. And then came the “great progressive” presidents.

Republican Teddy Roosevelt and Democrat Woodrow Wilson defied the explicit intent of the Constitution’s authors — as written in The Federalist as well as in the state houses that adopted the new compact. Both presidents construed the Constitution as authorizing the federal government to do pretty much darn near anything not explicitly forbidden in the document.

That was not the original understanding.

And then there is war. The U.S. Congress hasn’t declared an explicit war since World War II. But we’ve been in a never-ending string of wars.

With Obama, the post-constitutional prevarication has reached new . . . effrontery. The current president says that, though he had previously declared the “Iraq War” a done deal, over, finito, he now says his new attacks upon ISIS are constitutionally justified by 2002’s Authorization for Use of Military Force against Iraq.

“Post-constitutional”? It means our leaders are liars, beyond the law.

This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.

Who Needs Canada (or Oil)?

Monday, November 17th, 2014

What has Canada done for us lately, eh?

Sure, Canadians invented peanut butter and the egg carton. But hey: peanut allergies . . . and loose eggs in a grocery sack will do.

Canada also gave us the Wonderbra, Trivial Pursuits and Instant Replay. But put those all together and what have you got?

A country where it snows too much. That’s what.

But what about oil?

The U.S. House of Representatives voted last week to build the Keystone XL pipeline to bring that Canadian oil down to our Gulf Coast refineries. The Senate is set to vote on similar legislation tomorrow.

But our President sports a veto pen, and refuses to allow a bunch of peanut-butter-eating, Wonderbra-wearing Canadians to invade America with all their dirty crude.

“I have to constantly push back against this idea that somehow the Keystone Pipeline is either this massive jobs bill for the United States or is somehow lowering gas prices,” an exasperated Obama complained. “Understand what this project is. It is providing the ability of Canada to pump their oil, send it through our land, down to the Gulf, where it will be sold everywhere else.”

Well, if the 40,000-plus jobs from the pipeline’s construction are discounted . . . well, then, those jobs don’t count.

And to suggest that increasing the supply of petroleum might lower prices because of the law of supply and demand? Surely, an executive order trumps economic law.

The Daily Beast’s Jack Holmes also minimizes Keystone’s benefits, noting it amounts only to “a few billion dollars kicked the U.S. economy’s way.”

Yeah, who needs a “few billion dollars” or some construction jobs or more oil or our northern neighbors . . .

This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.

For Some Reason

Thursday, September 18th, 2014

Yesterday, the House voted to extend the legal ability for the Export-Import Bank to run . . . for another nine months. The people’s legislature passed the “stop-gap” measure, 319-108, with both bipartisan support and bipartisan opposition.

Just last month, President Obama expressed dismay that Republicans would be against it.

“For some reason,” he intoned, “right now the House Republicans have decided that we shouldn’t do this. . . .” He pretended to incredulity and puzzlement. He gave the usual reasoning for the subsidized financial guarantees, and insisted that “every country does this.”

“When,” he asked, “did that become something that Republicans opposed?”

Obama could’ve asked all those members of his own party who opposed it.

But then, he could have asked himself. Back in 2008, he very clearly put the Ex-Im Bank on the theoretical chopping block. Candidate Obama gave the big business bank up as a program that “didn’t work” and one that had become “little more than a fund for corporate welfare.”

So why the change of mind, Mr. Obama?

Has the Ex-Im ceased being a fund for corporate welfare?

No. It’s still there, propping up big businesses doing business abroad — indeed, multinationals abroad, the kind of companies that Obama’s Occupier friends despise so deeply.

What has changed? He’s in power, now. And that power derives from the mighty federal purse, filled by taxing hundreds of millions of Americans, and used to give hundreds of millions and billions in benefits to the few, the insiders.

President Obama and the congressional leadership of both parties are tighter than ever with special interests.

This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.

If DADOOJ Existed

Monday, August 18th, 2014

The important group Democrats Against Democratic Obstruction of Justice (DADOOJ) has yet to be formed to denounce ongoing cover-ups by the Obama administration.

If a DADOOJ did exist, though, its two or three members would surely cite a recent Hill column by Rick Manning, “More lost emails—When will Democrats have enough?

Manning, of Americans for Limited Government, notes that some twenty different Obama administration officials have “lost”/destroyed congressionally requested email records. He echoes Darrell Issa, the exasperated chairman of the House Committee on Oversight who says it “defies logic that so many senior administration officials were found to have ignored federal record-keeping requirements only after Congress asked to see their emails.”

What we have here, concurs Manning, is “coordinated and condoned cover-up,” not massive coincidence of careless keystrokes. So why aren’t any prominent Democrats expressing outrage at this “affront to our constitutional system,” and demanding answers? During the Watergate scandal, at least a few Republicans soon joined calls for the Republican president to come clean. Today, though, Dems are mute en masse.

Investigators should find a way to raid the offices of the IRS, DOJ and so forth; don’t just solicit cooperation. Confiscate or clone drives and servers so we can do some exhaustive forensics on the zeroes and ones. If we look real hard — maybe even not that hard — we’ll find the missing email.

I offer this proposal gratis as the first item for the DADOOJ advocacy agenda.

This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.

Wrong Lesson Learned

Monday, August 11th, 2014

Last week’s interview with New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman brought a rare admission from President Barack Obama.

Friedman asked, “What’s the biggest thing you’ve learned doing foreign policy?”

“I’ll give you an example of a lesson I had to learn that still has, you know, ramifications to this day,” Obama replied, “and that is our participation in the coalition that overthrew Gaddafi in Libya.”

The president was quick to defend the “lead from behind” 2011 intervention, itself, as “the right thing to do,” because “had we not intervened, it’s likely that Libya would be Syria, right?”

Or Iraq, perhaps?

He decided to attack Libya militarily, Mr. Obama went on to explain, precisely “because Gaddafi was not going to be able to contain what had been unleashed there” (via the Arab Spring) and thus, “there would be more death, more disruption, more destruction.”

Does that make any sense? Was Gaddafi’s inability to wield more complete and total power over his rivals within the country plausibly be the rationale behind the NATO intervention?

In acknowledging his error, the president said, “What is also true is, I think we underestimated . . . the need to come in full force — if you’re going to do this. Then it’s the day after Gaddafi’s gone, when everyone’s feeling good, everybody’s holding up posters saying ‘Thank You, America!’ At that moment, there has to be a much more aggressive effort to rebuild societies that don’t have any civic traditions.”

Of course, it isn’t possible to “re-build” that which you admit never existed.

And it isn’t the role of the U.S. Government.

This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.