Tuesday, April 28, 2015

It Could Be Worse...

Loretta Lynch Is Sworn In as Attorney General

At first, when I found out that she had received 56 votes in the Republican controlled Senate, I wanted to know who the Republicans were that voted for her.  I wanted them out.  Then I saw the list, which included Jeff Flake, Kelly Ayotte, Ron Johnson and Rob Portman.  I didn't understand, I wanted to hear their explanations.

And then it was explained to me.  I had heard somebody on the radio say "constitutional crisis", and I thought they were blowing things out of proportion.  The President simply needed to nominate another individual.

Who would that be?  Who would satisfy the basic requirement that Lynch did not.  We wanted the President to nominate somebody who under questioning by the Senate, would acknowledge that the President's unconstitutional amnesty act was…oh wait a minute. Dern it! The President was not going to nominate anybody that would then turn around and prosecute him, or, anybody that would be willing to admit it was unconstitutional but yet not prosecute him.

Can you imagine the meetings with potential Attorney's General?

Loretta Lynch is NOT a "career prosecutor" as many media outlets are reporting.  To be a "career prosecutor" at the DOJ, you have to stay through the low pay (low for lawyers) years and through opposing administrations.  She was in private practice for many years of her career.  That does become difficult for Lynch and others who are promoted from Assistant United States Attorney (i.e. a career prosecutor) to United States Attorney (appointment by President), when a new President comes in.  If you remember, the Democrats made a big fuss about President Bush firing six US Attorneys.  Its traditional to get rid of all of them, and replace them.  Bush held on to some, who then did not prosecute the way he wanted them to, so he fired them.

Anyway, Lynch is INFINITELY better (on paper) than her predecessor…

Hopefully she can stay above the fray.  But with this President…how can she?

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Love and Marriage...

Go together like a horse and…and…and something that the horse is comfortable with at this current time.

Oregon's Kate Brown to Become First Bisexual Governor

SALEM, Ore. -- Kate Brown, a Democrat, has served as Oregon's Secretary of State since 2008, and is set to become Oregon's 38th governor on Feb. 18. 
Since Oregon does not have a lieutenant governor, Brown is first in line of succession with the resignation of Governor John Kitzhaber. 
Brown, 54, was born in Spain but grew up in Minnesota. She currently lives in Portland with her husband Dan. She is also openly bisexual and was the first statewide officeholder in the nation to come out with this identity. 
Her sexuality has never been a prominent issue in Oregon, where Portland recently had an openly gay mayor in Sam Adams and where the current speaker of the House, Tina Kotek, is a lesbian.

Just to be clear, Governor Brown is married to Dan.  Dan is a man.  Governor Brown is a woman.

I know what you are saying, yes, it was the first thing I thought of too….August 2004, New Jersey Governor Jim McGreevey (a man) boldly stated, "I am a gay-American," as his wife (a woman) stood by him and nodded.  If you remember, he announced this after it was discovered that his Director of Homeland Security knew nothing about Homeland Security…but lots about Broadway plays, and all things Liza Minnelli.

And I found further evidence that Kate Brown is not the first openly bisexual Governor:

See, she "dropped the fraud charge" - so it was not a fraud.  He was a gay-American, married to a female-American woman.

However, to Governor Brown's credit, McGreevey resigned - so I'm not really sure how long he was openly serving?

But back to the point at hand.  Governor Kate Brown is bisexual.  And married to a man.  And again, she is a woman.  So basically she is "currently" married to a man.  But things may change.  Who's to say, with divorce rates what they are, the popularity of the WNBA, that Mr. Brown (I'm guessing he's Mr. Brown, along with the bombshell that his wife may someday want a wife herself, the article only provides Dan's first name, sorry Dan).

I have got to wonder what those vows were like, 'Do you Kate, take Dan, to be your lawfully wedded husband, as long as you both shall live?'  'Well, of course, for now, but I'm not only attracted to other people, I don't discriminate, so I may someday decide to marry somebody else, which may, in fact, be a woman like me. But for now, definitely, yes, I do.'

More importantly…would you cater that wedding?

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Saturday, April 18, 2015

We Simply Cannot Be Alive and Give Up...

Why I Require FBI Agents to Visit the Holocaust Museum -  By James B. Comey

The writer is director of the FBI.

This commentary is adapted from a speech given Wednesday at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum’s 2015 National Tribute Dinner.

I believe that the Holocaust is the most significant event in human history. And I mean “significant” in two different ways.

It is, of course, significant because it was the most horrific display in world history of inhumanity, one that simply defies words and challenges meaning. I was born into an Irish Catholic family in this great, wonderful and safe country, but the Holocaust has always haunted me, and it has long stood as a stumbling block to faith.

How could such a thing be? How is that consistent with the concept of a loving God? How is that in any way reconcilable with the notion of a God with a role in human history? How could there possibly be meaning in life, when so many lives were snuffed out in such a fashion?

I have asked those questions since I was a young teenager. I have asked them my entire life. I asked the same questions standing in the pit at Ground Zero in early 2002. I have asked those questions many times as I have confronted unimaginable suffering and loss.

And I know I am in good company asking such questions. Last month, on a flight home from Eastern Europe, I reread Viktor Frankl’s wrenching “Man’s Search for Meaning,” in which he seeks to find meaning in suffering and loving, among other things.

And going much farther back, back before I was a religious studies major in college, I recalled the voice from the whirlwind in the Book of Job, rebuking us for even asking the question “Why?” “How dare you!” the voice seems to say. “It is not for you to ask, it is not for you to know.”

And yet I ask, as so many of us do. And I still don’t know.

But I do know this: I know it is our duty, our obligation, to make sure some good comes from unimaginable bad. Not so we can comfort ourselves by saying, “Oh, that was worth it then.” That’s nonsense. That would be perverse. It will never be “worth it.”

Instead, I believe it is simply our duty to do that, and I believe this is truth no matter where you come from on a philosophical or religious spectrum. Our obligation is to refuse to let bad win, to refuse to let evil hold the field. As Abraham Lincoln said on a field of unimaginable pain and loss, it is essential “that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain.” Our resolution does not justify the loss, but we simply cannot be alive and give up.

There are so many ways to fight evil to ensure it doesn’t hold the field. Some do this through public service that can involve actual physical battles against evil; others by different kinds of service, including the service of teaching a world what happened, teaching a world what is true.

The Holocaust was, as I said, the most horrific display in world history of inhumanity. But it was also the most horrific display in world history of our humanity, of our capacity for evil and for moral surrender.

And that second significance is the reason I require every new FBI special agent and intelligence analyst to go to the Holocaust Museum. Naturally, I want them to learn about abuse of authority on a breathtaking scale. But I want them to confront something more painful and more dangerous: I want them to see humanity and what we are capable of.

I want them to see that, although this slaughter was led by sick and evil people, those sick and evil leaders were joined by, and followed by, people who loved their families, took soup to a sick neighbor, went to church and gave to charity.

Good people helped murder millions. And that’s the most frightening lesson of all — that our very humanity made us capable of, even susceptible to, surrendering our individual moral authority to the group, where it can be hijacked by evil. Of being so cowed by those in power. Of convincing ourselves of nearly anything.

In their minds, the murderers and accomplices of Germany, and Poland, and Hungary, and so many, many other places didn’t do something evil. They convinced themselves it was the right thing to do, the thing they had to do. That’s what people do. And that should truly frighten us.

That is why I send our agents and our analysts to the Holocaust Museum. I want them to stare at us and realize our capacity for rationalization and moral surrender. I want them to walk out of that great museum treasuring the constraint and oversight of divided government, the restriction of the rule of law, the binding of a free and vibrant press. I want them to understand that all of this is necessary as a check on us because of the way we are. We must build it, we must know it and we must nurture it now, so that it can save us later. That is the only path to the responsible exercise of power.

(*FBI agents have been required to attend a "field trip" to the Holocaust Museum for years, Comey has continued this tradition).

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Securing the Homeland...

Do you know what the IRS does? Do you know what the Secret Service does? Do you know what the DEA does?

If you answered tax stuff, protect the president, and enforce drug laws - you would be mostly right.  As you may know, the IRS enforces healthcare laws, the Secret Service investigates counterfeiting crimes, and the DEA…well as far as I know they just do drug violations.

What about the Department of Homeland Security?  Created after 9/11 with bi-partisan support, it really was just a new administrative organization of other departments - with an overall head at the Cabinet level.  An abbreviated list of the departments that were put under "Homeland Security" would include:

Secret Service (protecting the President)
FEMA (disasters, federal emergency aid)
INS (Immigration and Naturalization)
TSA (Planes, trains, and well really mostly planes)
Customs (stuff coming in the country)
Coast Guard (I really thought they were part of the military)
Border Patrol (patrolling, protecting the border)

So, that all kind of makes sense.  We already had all these agencies, but some were under the US Treasury (which sounds weird, but back in the day, that was what needed protection, and they just stayed there), and the Department of Transportation (which builds highways and taxes gas…).

So, the new Department of Homeland Security would protect us from another 9/11 by focusing on who comes in the country (INS, TSA, Customs, Border Patrol, Coast Guard), what comes in the country (TSA, Customs, Border Patrol, Coast Guard), keeping the head of our government save (Secret Service), and that we could take care of national level problems (FEMA).

Good. Great.

ICE, Homeland Security Arrest More Than 1,200 in Nationwide Gang Raids

Wait what?

I happen to know that numerous federal law enforcement agencies (FBI, DEA, ATF, US Marshals) received calls a while back from HSI (Homeland Security Investigations) inviting them to participate in a nationwide "takedown."  HSI was looking for other agencies to offer up targets, i.e. people with warrants, fugitives, to be arrested.  The other agencies could suggest targets, and/or participate in the arrests.  I happen to know that some federal agencies declined.

I also happen to know that former ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) agents now consider themselves HSI agents (well, because that is what they are - they were transferred, and have no knowledge of how or what to do with immigration or customs), and they investigate crimes against children, violations of drug laws, violations of firearms laws, trafficking (within the US) in stolen property, fugitives, etc.  What do they NOT do - inspect cargo ships coming in, anything to do with immigrations, port security.

Homeland Security is an agency looking for a mission, and avoiding what we all think they do.

*For those who may have legitimate questions regarding 'So who does national gang cases?' - the answer is state and local law enforcement.  On the federal level the FBI targets criminal "organizations" or "criminal enterprises" - and the DEA or ATF would be involved to focus specifically on drugs or weapons violations.  The US Marshals do fugitives (they protect the court houses, so, well, they traditionally do fugitives too). Homeland Security may sound like a good title for doing "nationwide gang raids," but we already had agencies to do that - what we don't have, is enough people doing immigration and checking what is being brought in the country.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Media Bias...

Just a quick hit.  You know those really stupid article links that you find at the bottom of a "real news" website? Some you are not sure they are Ads until you click on them.  These were RIGHT BELOW THE HEADLINE articles on ABC news.  The ABC news we all grew up not watching (I was an NBC guy when there were just three).

I clicked on the Laura Bush article.  She was listed as one of the worst first ladies.  Why?  Because she supported George W. Bush.  That was the listed reason.