December 18, 2013
“[I]f the public are bound to yield obedience to laws to which they cannot give their approbation, they are slaves to those who make such laws and enforce them.” –Candidus
GOVERNMENT & POLITICS
Second Amendment: Sheriffs and the Constitution
| Sheriff John Cooke
In December 2012, a madman murdered 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. First, he murdered his mother in order to steal her guns. The Left wasted no time in calling for all manner of anti-gun legislation to “do something” about the problem, despite the fact that everything the murderer did that day was already illegal. Congress, fortunately, ended up doing nothing, leaving states to enact their own laws. Some, such as Colorado and New York, acted on their emotional panic by passing tyrannical and draconian laws banning standard-capacity magazines for guns and other such nonsensical and unconstitutional restrictions.
The good news is that executing the law is at least partially left to sheriffs, and quite a few are declining to enforce these horrible gun laws. In fact, reports The New York Times, “All but seven of the 62 elected sheriffs in Colorado signed on in May to a federal lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the statutes.” Even those who declined to join the suit admitted that enforcement will be a “very low priority” because enforcement would be a nightmare. Sheriff John Cooke asked a crowd to distinguish between a magazine bought before the ban and one bought after the ban. (Hint: They look exactly alike.) Politically, two Colorado Democrats were recalled for their votes, and a third resigned rather than face the same fate.
In New York, two sheriffs publicly opposed the state’s new laws, which Democrat Gov. Andrew Cuomo warned would set “a dangerous and frightening precedent.” We can understand why Democrats would find following the Constitution “dangerous and frightening,” but as for ignoring laws, the president himself set the precedent and the bar is low — political inconvenience is sufficient reason for him. At least these sheriffs have legitimate constitutional objections.
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ECONOMY, REGS & TAXES
A New Export Commodity?
A legacy of the 1970s oil crunch is a restriction placed on most oil exports. Put into place by Congress through a series of bills in the wake of the first major energy crisis, the laws require would-be exporters to receive special permission from a bureau of the Commerce Department. But the dam may be ready to break, as surging supplies of domestic oil provide the opportunity for suppliers to expand the market beyond the current level of just 95,000 barrels a day, which mostly goes to Canadian refineries.
Ironically, one problem with our current system of refineries is that they are set up for the heavier, lower-quality crude imported from Mexico, Venezuela and the Middle East. American crude oil is considered to be lighter and of a higher quality, making it desirable in other markets.
The drive to open up the export market got an unexpected boost from Energy Secretary Dr. Ernest Moniz, who told reporters that the issue “deserve(s) some new analysis and examination in the context of what is now an energy world that is no longer like the 1970s.” This approach, never mind the very suggestion of helping the domestic oil industry, stands in stark contrast to the heavy emphasis — and well-documented failed subsidies — on renewable energy under Moniz’s predecessor, Dr. Steven Chu.
Obviously the export of American crude would have an effect on the oil market, but experts can’t be sure how that would affect domestic gasoline prices. Opponents of lifting the ban claim gasoline prices would rise due to shorter domestic supplies, but until American refineries are retrofitted to accommodate better-quality oil it’s probable that lower overall crude oil prices will benefit American motorists. Furthermore, making America an export player in the global oil market can provide a counterweight to the geopolitical force of OPEC.
While the Energy Department cannot change the rules enacted by the Commerce Department, Moniz expressed the willingness to provide technical analysis on the issue. Congress can also pitch in by revisiting its four-decade old legislation and repealing it to embrace the new reality of America the bountiful.
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Iran’s Bid for Oil Deals
Iran continues talking nice as it moves ever more toward its goal of throwing off international sanctions while keeping its nuclear program alive and well. This week Foreign Minister Mohammad Zarif claimed that Iran is “100% committed to reaching a comprehensive final agreement” over its nuclear program. We can easily imagine they are committed, but not to a deal satisfactory to anyone except themselves. Iran’s desired “final agreement” would enshrine uranium enrichment capability, leave the Arak heavy water reactor intact, leave Iran in possession of every gram of its enriched uranium inventory, and leave all 19,000 centrifuges in place. In short, it would leave Iran capable of developing nuclear weapons, with the only obstacles being technical and political. That’s exactly where they are now after the temporary agreement reached last month.
As expected, an Iran now free of some sanctions has been actively courting major oil companies around the globe to invest in its petroleum industry, including British Petroleum, Dutch Shell, France’s Total — even U.S. firms Exxon and ConocoPhillips. Iran has perhaps a year to get these industry giants involved in lucrative deals in order to increase economic leverage in resistance to future sanctions. European support will be critical for any sanctions. Would they be more or less likely to support future sanctions if it meant their economies would forfeit multi-billion dollar deals, along with their citizens paying higher prices at the gas pump? It’s a shrewd move by the Iranians, and it will almost certainly pay dividends — for them.
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CULTURE, SCIENCE & FAITH
Judge Rules Against Contraception Mandate
In the first permanent ruling on the ObamaCare contraceptive mandate, a Brooklyn judge sided with a group of Catholic organizations, saying that they do not have to fund their employees contraceptives. In doing so, the judge reaffirmed religious freedom as one of the most important rights in this country.
Archdioceses are already exempt from the mandate; however, the Obama Department of Health and Human Services thought it could force religious schools and health care providers to comply. U.S. District Court Judge Brian Cogan disagreed, stating this would be tantamount to making them support a “repugnant belief.” Most importantly in this era of judicial activism, Cogan stated, “It’s not for this court to say otherwise.”
Now, we must wait and see if other justices rule along those lines. Several for-profit organizations, such as Hobby Lobby, are also fighting for their right to adhere to religious beliefs. How the courts find in these cases will determine the future “health” of the contraceptive mandate. We certainly don’t think it passes constitutional muster, and experts say the government would have to show that it has a “substantial interest” in forcing companies to fund contraception to their employees. Exit question: Why is it that leftists want you to stay out of their bedroom but pay for what they do in it?
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Re: The Left
Columnist Charles Krauthammer: “Barack Hussein Obama is not just late to discover the most elementary workings of government. With alarming regularity, he professes obliviousness to the workings of his own government. … Hence the repeated no-one-is-more-upset-than-me posture upon … any number of scandals from which Obama tries to create safe distance by posing as an observer. He gives the impression of a man on a West Wing tour trying out the desk in the Oval Office, only to be told that he is president of the United States. The paradox of this presidency is that this most passive bystander president is at the same time the most ideologically ambitious in decades. … What bridges that gap is rhetoric. Barack Hussein Obama is a master rhetorician. It’s allowed him to move crowds, rise inexorably and twice win the most glittering prize of all. Rhetoric has changed his reality. For Obama, it can change the country’s. Hope and change, after all, is a rhetorical device. Of the kind Obama has always imagined can move mountains.”
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Columnist Terence Jeffrey: “The Founding Fathers of this country understood that there are absolute rules of right and wrong that all men and all governments must obey. And that human beings are imperfect and thus constantly tempted to violate these rules. When the flawed human beings in government are permitted to routinely break the moral rules and violate the rights of the citizens, a nation is on the road to tyranny. Our Founding Fathers wrote a constitution for a strictly limited government specifically designed to deny human beings in government the authority to violate the rights of citizens or impose inordinate controls on their lives. In recent decades, many of our political and cultural leaders have proudly denied the basic unchangeable rule of right and wrong. At the same time, politicians and judges have worn down the constitutional limits on the federal government. Were American politicians obedient to both the moral rules and the constitutional limits on government power, the dawning age of super-electronics would be an age of wonders. In an era of growing government power and amorality, it could become an age of horrors.”
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The Washington Times: “Three years ago, the Milwaukee County district attorney opened an unusual legal process known as a ‘John Doe’ investigation, targeting a who’s who of prominent Republicans and conservatives in Wisconsin, looking for violations of campaign-finance law. Under this rarely used procedure, groups such as Americans for Prosperity and the Club for Growth have been forced to turn over hundreds of thousands of emails and confidential documents. What makes the process especially pernicious is that the targeted have no legal way to challenge the subpoenas. They can’t even acknowledge what’s happening. … Any conservative who complains about the treatment or who speaks up in his own defense can be jailed. Democrats get to read through the plans and goals of their opponents, and taxpayers are paying for it. This is meant to tell national conservative groups to stay out of Wisconsin lest they get pulled into the dragnet. … They can’t beat Mr. Walker on policy or at the polls, but a partisan prosecutor doesn’t need a legitimate case to take an incumbent down. Investigations, often deliberately stalled to make the pain exquisite, can drag on for years. This is power that no district attorney, of whatever party, should have. Reform of prosecutorial power is long overdue.”
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For more, visit The Right Opinion.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi: “[I]t breaks your heart to see what is happening [to illegal immigrants]. It’s not the right thing. It’s not who we are as Americans. … We would frankly … like to move on and pass comprehensive immigration reform so that the problem is put to rest. In the meantime, 1,100 people, on average [are being deported each] day. It’s just wrong.”
Barbara Walters: “We thought that [Barack Hussein Obama] was going to be — I shouldn’t say this at Christmastime, but — the next messiah.”
From the ‘Non Compos Mentis’ File
Sen. Dianne Feinstein: “Hillary [Clinton] is a Patriot who loves her country completely. Her deep commitment to public service and progressive causes runs through her veins. … I was an early and enthusiastic supporter during Hillary’s run for the White House in 2008. I believed she would be a spectacular leader and a transformative president for our country. I still believe that. Now more than ever.”
Bloomberg columnist Caroline Baum with an ObamaCare promotional idea: “[A]nnounce and advertise that everyone between the ages of 18 and 34 who enrolls on the health-care exchanges by the end of the year is automatically entered in a lottery. Winners will receive everything from a free iPhone or iPad to a full-year of health-care underwritten by Uncle Sam. Refer a friend and get a discount. Buy one (year), get one free. In states that have legalized marijuana for recreational use … by all means, throw in a bag of cannabis.”
The BIG Lie
HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius: “I think that the statement about keeping your plan was one that is applicable to the vast majority of Americans in the health insurance market. What we know is that we also designed the implementation of the Affordable Care Act to make sure that plans that were in place in March of 2010 … were actually eliminated from needing to conform to any of the consumer protections in the 2014 Affordable Care Act. So a number of customers in the individual market had those grandfathered plans in place. It varies by company and by market.”
Kathleen Sebelius: “There are some individuals who may be looking at increases. I think you cannot make a statement based on cost unless you compare what they had to what they’re going into.”
Comedian Jay Leno: “Over the weekend the ObamaCare website was down. Fortunately, most Americans were unaffected because they never knew it was up.”
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Semper Vigilo, Fortis, Paratus et Fidelis!
Nate Jackson for The Patriot Post Editorial Team
Join us in daily prayer for our Patriots in uniform — Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines and Coast Guardsmen — standing in harm’s way in defense of Liberty, and for their families.