The shorter the campaign, the easier it is for a longshot unknown to pull off a surprise win. I have a feeling this campaign isn’t short enough for Gabriel Gomez.
A week before the special election for U.S. Senate, Gomez is something of a mystery man. Ask him any question, and the answer is he was a SEAL. Ask him again and he’ll say he’s had a successful career in the business world. But he won’t talk about what he did in the SEALs, and he won’t talk about what he worked on in the private sector.
At an ed board this week, I noted that he’d never held public office, never been involved in public policy, never been a legislator and, other than the military, never worked in government. In the private sector, would you hire someone with so little direct experience? What if you needed heart surgery?
He said serving in the Senate isn’t the same thing as heart surgery. OK, but that doesn’t make it an easy job. Doing it right takes brains, initiative, courage, judgement, and a dozen other skills. What in Gomez’ background shows he has those things? He won’t say.
But Gomez does show a penchant for saying things that just aren’t true. In the first debate he declared Markey had authored no significant legislation in 20 years. In the final debate, he declared that “the people have a clear idea of who I am” and offered to put his resume up against Markey’s anytime.
“It’s a question of trust,” Gomez said.
Markey did a terrible job of defending his record, but he almost shouldn’t have to, because the more voters see of mystery man Gomez, the more he looks like an empty flight jacket.
What, exactly, was the Obama Regime thinking when it got the bright idea of having bilateral negotiations with the Taliban in Afghanistan? As might be expected, the Taliban got the immediate message that the US isn’t even pretending any longer that Karzai is anything other than a puppet, and the Taliban remember the delightful outcome of the withdrawal of American troops from Vietnam in 1973 and see the joys of history repeating itself. Karzai may be a puppet, but he’s no fool, and he knows when he’s being sold out. (maybe karzai should refuse to engage in negotiations until settlement buildings on occupied Indian lands near Washington is stopped) But the broader message is that Obama is willing to sell out friends and allies for political expediency, which is a great message to send to places like Israel, who are being told to be patient about Iran. In the meantime, looks like the Obama Regime, which is in a scandal ridden death spiral, is about to have the tail wag the dog, as he marches us into war in Syria. If the United States has a foreign policy, other than glorification of the regime on an ad hoc basis, I’d like someone to explain it to me.
Congress should launch an immediate investigation into the death of Michael Hastings, the award-winning journalist and critic of the Obama Regime who died in a suspicious car accident near Los Angeles on Tuesday morning.
As I’ve said before, you don’t have to criminalize unhealthy behavior to reduce it. Case in point is the greatest public health success story since the development of antibiotics, vaccinations and sewage collection and treatment systems.
Smoking tobacco among American adults has now dropped to 18 percent, the CDC reports. Considering nicotine is a contender for the most addictive substance known to science, that’s pretty impressive. Here’s how the numbers have changed over the last 50 years:
Smoking Prevalence Among U.S. Adults, 1955–2010
(as a percent of population, 18 years of age and older)
The “explainer-in-chief” came to Worcester Saturday to fire up the Ed Markey campaign. As was the case when he spoke to the Democratic National Convention last year, Bill Clinton did a better job of making his candidate’s case than the candidate himself.
Among the points he made that I thought worth writing down:
- During his presidency, the earnings of the bottom 20 percent rose as much as for the top 20 percent. but he said he’s even more proud that 100 times as many people moved from poverty into the middle class in his presidency than under Reagan.
- In 2000, Jim McGovern came to me with a program to tie foreign food aid to school attendance, just like we do in our own school lunch program, Clinton said. “I found $300 million of your money to fund that program. Jim McGovern is personally responsible for sending 6 million poor kids to school.”
- 300,000 jobs were created because Ed Markey brought competition to the internet and telecommunications industry through the 1996 Telecommunications Reform Act, which he was proud to sign. But it wouldn’t have happened without Ed Markey.
- “I didn’t know we were importing assault weapons from China until Ed Markey told me, and we stopped it.”
- Affordable Care Act: “Massachusetts proves we can make it work,” Clinton said. “And we don’t need another member of Congress praying for America to fail.”
- The largest health care organization in greater DC has been switching away from fee-for-service. It saved $36 million in 2011 and $98 million in 2012. This matters. Americans spend 17.8 percent of GDP on health care, the most among developed countries. The number two country spends 11.8 percent of its GDP on health care. The difference each year adds up to $1 trillion.
- “You have as qualified a candidate for U.S. Senate as I’ve seen in a month of Sundays.”
Both on the pundit circle in D.C. and to some extent on this blog, there is a perception that protection of privacy rights must come from Washington D.C., and that if Congress doesn’t do it, and if the Regime won’t back down, then we’re all just screwed.
But people forget the 9th Amendment to the United States Constitution, which states that “the enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.” And then there is that pesky 10th Amendment, which states that “the powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.”
Much of the discussion of checking the abuses of the Regime is not taking place in Washington–its taking place in state capitals of both blue and red states. The notion is this–Congress can pass whatever laws it wants, and the Regime can do or not do what it wants, but the state legislatures of the states, respectively, are a valid check on abuse of natural rights. Thus, Congress can create the FISA court, but a state can refuse to do business with any corporation which agrees to comply with an unconstitutional court. Thus, a state could very well protect its citizens by saying to Verizon, “no contracts with the state of ___ without a pledge not to comply with the FISA Court warrants…” There are other things a state can do, and it is worth while to check out Daniel A. Farber’s book Retained by the People for a more thorough discussion. There is already some movement afoot in California and Texas to determine what the states can do to protect their own citizens, and it will be interesting to watch the debate unfold.
Remember 1861? I wonder if the Regime is ready to send troops to California to enforce the right to issue FISA warrants?
My column on America’s warfare by targeted killings is here. The situation presents quite a quandary.
Obama didn’t create the Joint Special Operations Command, described by a retired lieutenant colonel as “almost industrial-scale counterterrorism killing machine,” but he expanded and embraced it, and he codified a system of identifying “high value targets” for routine assassination anywhere on the global battlefield.
Who’ll stop this madness? Congress shows no interest in stopping it. The defense and intelligence establishment is behind it. JSOC has been the path to fame and promotion for generals like Petreaus, McChrystal and McRaven. The people love wars fought by hit squads and drones, wars that don’t produce American casualties. The culture celebrates SEAL teams and other bands of pumped-up warriors who blow up the bad guys.
The only one with a chance of getting the war on terror genies back in the bottle – reining in the NSA snoopers, demobilizing JSOC – is the president who said a month ago that “a perpetual war – through drones or Special Forces or troop deployments – will prove self-defeating, and alter our country in troubling ways.”
Gail Collins puts a human face on the NSA data-mining program, reminding us of Brandon Mayfield, the Oregon man bugged, harassed, arrested and exonerated because a fingerprint showed up at the scene of the Madrid subway bombings that kinda, if-you-squinted looked a little like his. Mayfield had never been to Spain, but on the plus side, he had married an Egyptian and converted to Islam.
So the secret FISA court issued a secret warrant allowing agents to secretly invade his home – rifling through his daughter’s computer along the way. Eventually, saner heads – in Spain – prevailed, Mayfield got an apology and a $2 million settlement.
It’s just one case, as Collins says, and the program is slightly more legal than it was back then. But since the feds insist on everything being secret, we have no way of knowing either how many successes the NSA has had or how many innocent people have been hurt by it.
Meanwhile, I’m starting to wonder what it takes to shield my emails and web-browsing from the data miners at Google as well as the data-miners at the NSA. Not that I have anything to hide – though as a journalist, the thought that using keywords or visiting a website on some secret watch list might flag me for special scrutiny does have a chilling effect – but I find the idea of being micro-targeted, whether by advertisers or the state, just creepy.
Anyone know of a secure web-browser or an email program that will keep all my keystrokes from going into Google’s massive database?
I don’t wade into Framingham’s affairs as much as I might like, mostly because most of our readers don’t live here. But I waded into a local matter in today’s editorial, firing back at the NIMBYs opposing a proposal to turn the lovely Marist Brother’s property on Pleasant Street into a lovely campus for the treatment of eating disorders and depression.
Many will consider us wrong on this matter, but at least we’re consistent. We supported locating a methadone clinic in downtown Framingham, near a residential area, over the objections of neighbors and the local political establishment. We supported a group home in a Southside neighborhood for kids with a different eating disorder, Prader-Willi syndrome, over the objections of neighbors. We supported Wayside’s new campus for troubled adolescents in Rob’s old neighborhood.
The Pleasant Street proposal was an easy call for me. When one former town official wrote to me complaining that letting a health care business into an area zoned residential would destroy “the integrity of the neighborhood,” I responded that, as a fan of multi-use zoning, I’m not a big fan of the old-style “only this can go here, only that can go there” zoning adopted back in the ’60s. The Marist parcel is a lovely island of green in a sea of single family subdivisions. In my view, replacing it with yet another 40-home subdivision would destroy the integrity of the neighborhood.
Besides, the opponents have trotted out a particularly ugly line of attack, using the Sandy Hook massacre to declare that the depressed, anorexic women seeking help at Walden Behavioral Care endanger the children in the school down the street. I’m glad to have a chance to take the other side.
The latest piece of crap to come out of the Regime is the idea that the disclosure of material by Snowden has caused the terrorists to change their tactics. As Vashnu Prudahar points out in the Mumbai Independent this morning, that would explain why the Boston Marathon terrorists weren’t picked up by PRISM. Oh, wait, that was before PRISM, he points out. As Prudahar notes, while many Americans were caught off guard by the NSA scandal, the terrorists have known for over five years about government monitoring, and the Boston Marathon bombing is proof positive that terrorists adapt quickly and quietly without stimulus from leakers.
I pointed out in several blog posts that the Boston Marathon bombing is a state murder case, not a federal terrorism case. My point on those threads was that the Boston Marathon bombers seemed to have avoided all the instrumentalities of interstate commerce and communication. In short, NSA snooping was unlikely to have ever tracked these folks, since the modification of tactics happened faster than the modification of counter terrorism. So, what’s next? Listening devices in every home?
The Regime must think we are all really, really stupid (and not just those who voted for the Regime). Clearly, the terrorists didn’t wake up last week and change tactics. The biggest threat to our troops in recent years have been IEDs. The “I” stands for “improvised.” That’s the biggest tool in the arsenal of the terrorist. When it becomes apparent that drones fixate on cell phone signals, they stop using cell phone. When cell members start vanishing after making a call on a Verizon land line in Virginia, the terrorists stop using land lines. Disclosure doesn’t force a change of tactics–it simply reveals how ineffective our counter terrorism tactics are.
A tactic I’d like to see change is an end to the constant stream of dishonesty pouring out of the White House.
As the Obama Regime’s coverup and stonewalling roll on, General Keith Alexander, the director of the National Security Agency, was trotted out to lie to Congress. This time, the story line is that the unconstitutional spying was “disrupting or contributing to the disruption of terrorist attacks”, and he said that this has happened “dozens” of times, but, alas, he says that he can’t discuss those incidents, because “he would rather be criticized by people who think he’s hiding something ‘the jeopardize the security of this country’ ” and if speaks out “Americans will die.”
Respectfully, General, that’s not your call. When Congress asks questions, General, its your job to wipe that smarmy smile off your face and answer the questions put to you by the civilian government.
But it hasn’t taken long for the civil liberties bar to unpack the nuances of his smug, self-righteous and utterly unhelpful performance before the Congress. What does it mean to “contribute to the disruption of terrorist attacks?” And aren’t we back to the Carmen Ortiz Disneyworld of terrorism and the Tarek Mehanna problem? And when does a “terrorist attack” begin? So we can unpack the examples: Homeland Security sets someone up, provides the explosives and then arrests the person. Is that a terrorist attack, and is disruption of an attack which could never succeed the same as disrupting a terrorist attack? If someone is arrested and sent to Gitmo for having the audacity to think a pro Jihadii thought, has that disrupted terrorism, or has it locked up the usual suspects? And how did the Boston Marathon bombing get through the net? That wasn’t disrupted. The serious suggestion here is that the NSA is not disrupting serious terrorist attacks, but some rather ambiguous concept of what a terrorist attack is. Alas, the General testified, the definition of terrorist, terrorism, disrupt and contributes are all classified in the context of this program, so the American people are just going to have to take the good word of the Regime that this is helpful.
Well, frankly, General, bullshit. One example. Give us one example. I don’t believe our national security would be harmed by one example of disruption of a terrorist attack. name. date. target. level of imminent threat. how the program disrupted the threat. the current location of the terrorist. the bomb. something. The Regime is asking us to believe that we are trading liberty for security. In that kind of exchange, the very least this Regime can do is give us one example so we can understand the bargain we are being asked to strike. Otherwise, we’re being asked to buy a car, locked in a garage, that we can’t see, based on the good word of the smarmy used car salesman. Not good enough. No way close to not good enough. Because this administration has no credibility, no integrity, no honesty, no openness. We’re the guys with the thumb screws. Trust us.
For those looking to apply current headlines to the current U.S. Senate race, note that Ed Markey “voted against reauthorizing the Patriot Act in 2005, 2010 and 2011. And he voted against reauthorizing the Foreign Intelligence Security Act last year.” In 2011, he uncovered 1.3 million requests from law enforcement for cell phone users’ location data. He authored the 1998 Children’s Online Privacy Act.
Gomez, on the other hand, won’t tell us what he did in the war on terror, won’t reveal the clients of his hedge fund, and gives Obama “the benefit of the doubt” on domestic surveillance. But he is highly critical of the IRS and says voters distrust government.
Does it matter?
You get to a point in any scandal crippled regime where the regime has so tied itself up in its lies that it can’t untangle what is true any longer. The Obama Regime is at a point where its credibility is so harmed that the only possible remedy is resignation of the fuhrer and his entire cabinet. the latest is that the regime has released a series of documents which are supposed to show that Najibullah Zazi was precluded from carrying out his heinous attack because of the regime’s STASI-like surveillance program. Turns out that the documents that were released either don’t confirm the regime’s original fables about this episode, or are not accurate now. by way of example, the released documents don’t even show that the regime’s surveillance program had anything to do with interception. Second, James Clapper now says that Zazi was “found with backpacks with bombs,” which simply is false. AP reports that Feinstein says that the FBI had Zazi under surveillance for six months, although more credible testimony clarifies that the surveillance lasted two weeks. One of the problems of secrecy is that the regime thinks that it is ok to lie in the interests of national security. Then, it tries to disclose selective documents to support later lies, even if the later lies are not consistent. I have an idea-maybe the Regime’s successor after resignation can try something novel–disclosure and truth.
The Massachusetts legislature needs to pass a law requiring ad hoc groups to post bonds when the ad hoc group exists for the purposes of denying developers their lawful rights. It has become a primary tool of such groups to use the courts to stop lawful projects, knowing that years of delay will more than likely kill a project. We’ve seen this with the proposed fat farm in Framingham, as well as everywhere else in Massachusetts. The most egregious example is the declaration by towns like Holliston, Hopkinton and Ashland, who have created an ad hoc group to stop a Milford casino. As the MWDN has reported, opponents of the casino in Milford hope to drag out the project for decades, in the hope that it will cause the developer to throw in the towel. Well, the Milford casino is desperately needed for jobs, the economy and infrastructure improvement, and the power of towns like Holliston, Hopkinton and Ashland (which, quite frankly, as glorified trailer park communities are hardly in a position to criticize Milford, or Everett, where these NIMBYs think casinos do belong) is simply unconscionable. The natural solution is simple–make these folks put up a bond, so that if, 20 years from now, it turns out that they had no legal basis for obstruction, and harm has been caused, then the developer has some right of recourse. In the case of the casino, a one billion dollar bond is probably in order. Surely, that’s not too much to ask. Allowing puritanical zealots to stop wise development requires a remedy and a recourse. Go ahead, NIMBY ites, and sue a developer, but put your money where your collective mouths are.
Maybe Obama can’t help it. I mean, not only does he lie as a matter of course, but its very clear that he places a high premium on lackies who will lie for him. Case 1: Send Senator John Kerry to lie about ContractorGate in Lahore, and reward him with Secretary of State. Case 2: Send Rice to lie to Congress, reward her with head of NSA, the American equivalent of the STASI. But Barry, who purports to have taught constitutional law, seems to feel that Americans can be lied to because they will believe anything. Notwithstanding that some Americans voted for Barry twice, I don’t think Americans are that stupid.
Case 3: When the Regime trots out the line that domestic spying is legal because it was approved by the FISA Court, even Barry knows that this isn’t true. There’s that tricky language in the Constitution that says “Congress shall make no law…” So for something to be legal, it has to be both passed by Congress and passed by Congress within the limits of its power. I guess spying on the American people is within the taxing power, like the ObamaTax?
It is not up to Congress or to Barry or to Susie to decide how much freedom we will “give up” for security. Even assuming that such a preposterous suggestion makes sense, which it doesn’t, what Congress and the Regime are trying to do can only be done by a change in the First, Fifth, Sixth, Fourteenth and Fourth Amendments. It is up to the people, acting through their state legislatures, to ratify such dramatic assaults on privacy and basic rights, not Barry, not Congress. It is not a mere academic debate to be pondered in the press, or at cocktail parties or on the Sunday morning television circuit. It is a debate reserved to the people, acting within the provisions of the Constitution, and our erstwhile constitutional professor in chief clearly understands, but lies about, repeatedly.
I, for, one, am not prepared to surrender an iota of my freedom or privacy for security. I don’t recall having been asked if I want the Fourth Amendment changed. And until such time as I am asked, I have a right to be secure in my home, my office and my occupation, without my data being grabbed by the fed without my consent. That’s the law, that’s the constitution, and what needs to happen next is that Congress needs to either put this to the people as a constitutional amendment, or it needs to make it clear to Barry that his conduct is not legal. The next elections-2014 and 2016, need to be about this basic issue. its not the economy. its the constitution, stupid. And once we know if our privacy and our freedoms will be respected, we can make the basic decision to remain in this country or go elsewhere. We are living in a brave new world, in which peace is war, slavery is freedom, and no one objected to PRISM, so its ok, even though we didn’t even know it existed. Impeach Now!!
In this week’s column, I take note of the calm, orderly way most politicians, government officials and citizens are handling the rapid loosening of restrictions on marijuana. In Massachusetts, regulations have been created over the last few months governing medical marijuana, without hysteria or rancor. Even Framingham Town Meeting, no haven for hipsters, voted against putting a moratorium on marijuana dispensaries. Colorado has witnessed a similarly civil process while it established rules for legal recreational marijuana.
Meanwhile, a new report on marijuana arrests released by the ACLU exposes the continuing toll the war on marijuana is taking in money wasted and lives ruined.
In related columns in Sunday’s MWDN:
Governor’s Councillor Bob Jubinville says he wants judges in state courts who have empathy for people with mental illness and an understanding of the virtues of treating drug addiction instead of punishing it.
George Will found one of those unicorns some of us hope will help lead Congress out of gridlock: A top liberal (Pat Leahy) and a top libertarian (Rand Paul) working together to look at ways to prune back the redundant laws and self-defeating sentencing rule in the federal criminal code.
On a beautiful spring Sunday, it’s nice to find some positive movement on something.
- We shouldn’t be surprised at the domestic surveillance stuff coming out. As we note today in an editorial, Neither Bush nor Obama promised to rein in domestic surveillance by the National Security Agency, and Congress dutifully appropriated billions in new funding to grow its capacity to keep an eye on global electronic communications.
Rick had a thread last week about the failing infrastructure and the need to put infrastructure money to use on necessary projects. In Newtown Connecticut, a perfectly good elementary school is going to be torn down because people are squeamish about going there, as if the place is somehow haunted or something weird. Fifty million dollars in infrastructure improvement money will be used to tear down a perfectly serviceable public building to build a new building. According to the AP, “efforts are being made to secure federal money.” The money that is being sought is money that would otherwise be used on roads that are failing and bridges that are falling. If the good people of Newtown want to spend their own money on a new school, that’s fine. But in a time when we can’t find money for roads and bridges, the idea of using scarce money for the luxury of tearing down a good building is not only a waste of tax payer money and an affront to good usage, but also an endangerment to the public at large. The people of Newtown should be embarrassed and ashamed of their self-centered greed.
One of the common threads about the rise of the warrior cop phenomenon is the frustration with a very serious erosion of Fourth Amendment and Fifth Amendment rights. It has always been a paramount part of our society that our police officers wear distinct uniforms, in large part so that you recognize them as officers of the state. When you see out of uniform officers on television at crime scenes, the officers always wear jackets with their id clearly marked in large letters, whether that designation is FBI, ATF or even just POLICE. It is a fundamental principle of our liberty that your words cannot be used against you if you are interrogated without knowing that jeopardy has attached, although the Maryland v. King decision has raised doubts even about that.
During the aftermath of the bombings on April 15, one of the striking things about the thugs stalking through the streets of Watertown is that they were unmarked, and it was virtually impossible to tell who those folks were. But of even greater concern is a phenomenon reported in some of the books coming out this summer about warrior cops–the notion that cops are never off duty, and that no miranda warnings are ever given when the issue is “public safety.” There are a growing number of cases of people who have been convicted of crimes for making statements to cops, who seemed to just be neighbors at a little league game, or people arrested after inviting a neighbor in for dinner–who happened to be a cop. In New Jersey, in the wake of the shootings in Connecticut, the police ran a safety program in schools. Children were asked by the police about how their parents handled gun safety at home, and kids who volunteered answers had that information cross checked on the towns gun permit records and arrests were made for unlawful gun possession based upon interrogation of children in a school program. A week ago, I would have said that the Supreme Court would have howled at that, but after King I’m just not sure.
We’ve had lots of conversation in recent years about the amount of liberty you surrender in order to be secure. Do people really see East Germany as the perfect role model for our society?
The strangest thing Gabriel Gomez said in the first Senate debate – not counting his unfortunate call for the U.S. to “united ourselves with the right terrorist group” in Syria – was when he accused Ed Markey of not having authored a bill signed into law in the last 20 years.
Gomez might have thought it gutsy to go after Markey’s strongest suit, but all the charge did was give Markey an invitation to list all the laws he has written. Markey listed as many as he could fit in before moderator Jon Keller cut him off, but there are plenty more the fact-checkers and the Markey campaign will be circulating in the next few hours. Markey didn’t even mention the V-chip, the Telecommunications Act of 1996, or the more recent change Markey authored expanding Daylight Savings Time.
Another missed opportunity for Markey: Just today, the TSA announced it was canceling its plan to allow small knives on planes. Markey was a leader of the effort to get that policy reversed.
I thought both candidates exceeded my low expectations. Both scored points on style if not substance. Maybe this debate will inject some excitement about the race into voters. But I doubt it.