Monthly Archives: December 2009

Chipping Away At Our Freedoms And Offering Nothing In Return

“A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

Western Washington is reeling at the deaths of six law enforcement officers in just under two months: Officer Timothy Brenton, Sergeant Mark Renninger, Officer Ronald Owens, Officer Tina Griswold, Officer Greg Richards, and earlier this week, Deputy Sheriff Kent Mundell.

With a lightning quick response – Rahm Emmanuel would be proud – supporters of the Aaron Sullivan Public Safety and Police Protection Bill are using one of the deaths, Brenton’s, to justify the legislation, which would ban the sale of military-style semi-automatic weapons.”

The bill  is sponsored by Rep. Ross Hunter, D-Medina; Sen. Adam Kline, D-Seattle; and Sen. Jeanne Kohl-Welles, D-Seattle. “The ban would cover semiautomatics designed for military use that are capable of rapid-fire and can hold more than 10 rounds. Semiautomatics designed for sporting or hunting purposes wouldn’t be banned.”

This is the type of empty gesture of which the left is so enamored. It gives the appearance that the sponsors are “tough on crime” yet does nothing to actually stop criminals from acquiring such weapons, nothing to actually increase public safety…while at the same time seriously infringing on the right of honest citizens to keep and bear the arms of their choice.

Yet Kohl-Welles doesn’t believe the ban would be unconstitutional.

She also said she doesn’t believe such a ban would violate the Second Amendment, the right to bear arms. “Did the framers of our Constitution ever envision something like a semi-automatic weapon?” she asked.

Whether or not the “framers of the Constitution” envisioned semi-automatic weapons has no bearing on the advisability of the current legislation. Rep. Kohl-Wells should re-read the 2nd Amendment and try to understand the thinking behind it. The 2nd Amendment wasn’t written to protect the rights of hunters and sportsmen; it was written to protect the “the security of a free state.” Consequently, it should be assumed that the author envisioned citizens as being well armed according to the standard of the day.

I believe that Hunter, Kline and Kohl-Welles are well-intentioned, albeit dangerously misguided. Here is the simple and rather obvious point that they are missing: You can never make enough laws to guarantee good behavior from people who are willing to break the law. You can, however make so many laws that the rights and freedoms we cherish are gradually eroded until…they are…no more.

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Of Pat Downs, Scanners and Profiling

Bernie Goldberg asks the eminently sensible question, “And What Exactly is Wrong with Profiling?

My trip on El Al comes to mind because of what we’ve been hearing recently about the “underwear bomber” who tried to blow up a Northwest flight en route from Amsterdam to Detroit on Christmas day.  By now we all know the story:  his father, a prominent banker in Nigeria warned the U.S. State Department in Lagos that his son was becoming a religious fanatic and might be dangerous.  His travel history included a trip to Yemen.  He bought a one-way ticket.  He paid for it in cash.

Did any of this set off alarms?  Nope.  Too bad he wasn’t wearing a sign that said, “I’m a terrorist and I plan to blow up your airplane.”  But frankly, I’m not sure those eagle-eyed authorities would have noticed that, either.

When I look at some of the alternatives to profiling, such as full body scanners, profiling starts looking a lot more attractive. Authorities know who is more likely to commit acts of terror. Patting down five-year-olds is a feel-good measure designed to make us feel as though everything possible is being done to keep us safe, but that actually leaves us more vulnerable because it diverts finite resources away from actual sources of danger.

The United States government owes it to the rest of us to do whatever is within their power to keep us safe. If that includes profiling – and I believe it does – let’s get on with the program.

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A Rare Convergence Of Politics And Citizenship

Washington Attorney General Rob McKenna’s concerns about the constitutionality of the Senate health care reform legislation led him to join with other Republican AGs in protesting the deal.

In an interview today, McKenna said he believes that provision could violate Article 1, Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution, which says Congress may collect taxes for the “general welfare” of the U.S., not for a special benefit for a particular state.

“We think it’s constitutionally defective. We’re continuing to research it,” McKenna said. And apart from the legality, “it just doesn’t seem right,” he added.
snip…
He said he may also look into whether it would be constitutional for the federal government to require all U.S. residents to purchase health insurance.

McKenna said that mandate may violate the 10th Amendment, which limits the powers of the federal government – reserving other powers for the states.

“The U.S. government has never before required the citizens of the U.S. to buy a particular good or service,” McKenna said. He stopped short of saying he’d launch a legal challenge on that basis. “We need to do more work on it,” he said.

While the Seattle Times new-found conservative streak causes them to object to Ben Nelson’s “Cornhusker Kickback” deal – even to hope that a court will “strike it down” – it doesn’t stop them from concluding that the Republican AGs are acting with a political motive, even though it just as possible that they’re acting because it’s the right thing to do. I’ve heard AG McKenna speak about the Constitution; his knowledge of and respect for it are impressive. There’s no reason to assume that he’s acting for any motive other than a belief that the Constitution actually is the law of the land. To do so is merely to prove that political biases are hard to shed.

Personally, I’m just grateful that someone is willing to take a look at the constitutionality of the health care monstrosity and if this happens to be one of those times when good politics happens to coincide with good citizenship, that’s okay by me.

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You Know You’ve Got Trouble

"Don't blame me if you have crappy Senators"

When even the left-leaning Seattle Times questions the constitutionality of your legislation, you know you’ve got trouble.

SEN. Ben Nelson, D-Neb., exacted a special price for his vote on the Senate health-care bill. Opening up the Medicaid program to 15 million more Americans over the next decade will cost the states billions of dollars — but not Ben Nelson’s state. For Nebraska, the cost, estimated at $100 million through 2016, will be paid by the federal government.

The Republicans called this the “Cornhusker Kickback.” It is a cute way to label it corruption — which it is. It is the bending of a federal law in order to buy the vote of one legislator.

Federal law is supposed to be uniform. It’s a concept that shines through several places in the Constitution, which calls for a “uniform rule of Naturalization” and “uniform Laws on the subject of Bankruptcies.”

When they double down and call the deal corruption, it’s serious.

The Republicans called this the “Cornhusker Kickback.” It is a cute way to label it corruption — which it is. It is the bending of a federal law in order to buy the vote of one legislator.

For the record, I don’t hold Senator Nelson – or Senator Landrieu, who seems a bit confused as to why people don’t believe she “can’t be bought” (@ 0:45) – any more responsible for the passage of the Senate health care monstrosity than any of the other 59 rank and file Democrat Senators. I’m saving that “honor” for Senate Majority Leader, Harry Reid, who apparently believes that every piece of legislation should be loaded up with pet projects…and if any states miss out, it’s just a poor reflection on their Senators.

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Shorter Napolitano: “All’s Well That Ends Well”

I don’t really know all that much about Janet Napolitano but after her appearance on CNN’s State of the Union, I give her an F  for her ability to evaluate the effectiveness of U.S. safety measures. Or as President Obama would say, she earns a solid B+. Napolitano’s assessment, from the transcript.

What we are focused on is making sure that the air environment remains safe, that people are confident when they travel. And one thing I’d like to point out is that the system worked. Everybody played an important role here. The passengers and crew of the flight took appropriate action. Within literally an hour to 90 minutes of the incident occurring, all 128 flights in the air had been notified to take some special measures in light of what had occurred on the Northwest Airlines flight. We instituted new measures on the ground and at screening areas, both here in the United States and in Europe, where this flight originated.

So the whole process of making sure that we respond properly, correctly and effectively went very smoothly.

I missed the show, so I don’t know if  Napolitano managed to keep a straight face while letting this drop or not. I’m not sure how anyone could seriously say the system worked when a bomb was successfully smuggled onto a flight bound for the U.S.  We have the incompetence of the would-be terrorist to thank for the failure of the attack as much as any success of the system. Still, I’m glad she’s is feeling good about how smoothly everything went and how everyone played their proper role, self-esteem being so important.

Apparently Secretary Napolitano sets a very low bar. I’d rather not have to rely on inept terrorists and brave, quick-thinking passengers to keep me safe on a flight. I’d rather that people whose behavior has become so problematic that family members report them to the U.S. embassy have their visas rescinded. Call me crazy.

Unfortunately, the new procedures being put in place (the ones we’re hearing about, anyway), appear to be regrettably misguided and reactionary. The measures, which seem designed to deny would-be terrorists access to and opportunities to deploy their cleverly smuggled bombs, seem more likely to inconvenience law-abiding passengers than thwart a determined terrorist. What’s to keep a terrorist from launching into action 90 minutes prior to landing rather than 59 minutes?

More importantly, will airport sales of Depends surge as passengers are forced to remain in their seats for the last hour of the flight? Should I buy stock?

Even sensible precautions such as pat downs become nonsensical when applied evenly across the board to blue-eyed grandmothers and young Muslim men with ties to al Qaeda who have recently returned from Yemen “vacations.”

Either Janet Napolitano deliberately chose to mislead the American people by calling this situation a success or she doesn’t have the mental capacity to perform her duties competently.

(As  is becoming the norm, if you want all the details of a story that might reflect poorly on the Obama Administration, read the Telegraph. God bless the Brits.)

Update: Jimmie hits all the relevant points with his signature snark.

Update 2: Jimmie has more to say about Janet Napolitano, who plays the “out of context” card.

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A Dearth of Common Sense Or Political Correctness That Kills?

By now you’ve heard about the Nigerian citizen, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, who was overwhelmed by other passengers while attempting a terrorist attack on a Northwest Airlines flight about to land in Detroit.

Why did Abdulmutallab possess a visa allowing him to enter the U.S., despite appearing in at least one U.S. database which one would hope would result in automatic disqualification?

The sources told CNN that the suspect flew into Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam on a KLM flight from Lagos, Nigeria, and is not believed to be on any “no fly” list, although his name does appear in a U.S. database of people with suspect connections. He did not undergo secondary security screening in Amsterdam, an administration official said.

Pardon my crudeness, but screw the “no fly” list. Why, in the name of God, would we grant a visa to someone with “suspect connections,” especially one whose behavior has been so strange as to cause his own father to report him to the local U.S. embassy.

Another government official said Abdulmutallab’s father went to the embassy in Abuja with his concerns, but did not have any specific information that would put him on the “no-fly list” or on the list for additional security checks at the airport.

Neither was the information sufficient to revoke his visa to visit the United States. His visa had been granted June 2008 and was valid through June 2010.

No “specific information.” “Insufficient information.”

I am reeling under the weight of that bit of bureaucratic ineptitude.

His foreboding was so great, the elder Abdulmutallab took the extraordinary step of visiting the U.S. embassy to report his son. Most parents wouldn’t take such an action in the absence of grave concerns; even then only after much soul-searching and with great anguish. What kind of simpleton would fail to recognize the significance of that act?

We don’t owe entry into the United States to any foreign national. Decisions as to who is or isn’t granted a visa should be based solely on the best interests and safety of the United States. I prefer that our officials err on the side of caution and if that occasionally results in someone wrongly being denied entry…yeah, whatever.

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For Unto Us A Child Is Born, Unto Us A Son Is Given

The prophecy…

Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel. Isaiah 7:14

For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. Isaiah 9:6

Fulfilled…

And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed. (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.)

And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:) to be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child. And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.

And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.

And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

A very merry Christmas to you. May all the joys and blessings of the season and the peace of our Lord and Savior be with you now and throughout the new year.

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