Monday, September 17, 2012

Observations From the Back Row



Disturbing Calls For Censorship In America By Professors, Journalists, U.S. Diplomats, And Egyptian Government
By Hans Bader

In response to a film that mocked Mohammed, journalists on MSNBC, a professor, and the Egyptian government called for punishment of the film’s producers. Prominent left-leaning law professors have similarly advocated that such speech be restricted, citing customary international law. Their position, if accepted, would seriously menace free speech in America, and harm the publishing and film industries. (At the UN, the Obama administration has also lent qualified support to restrictions on “hate speech” and speech that incites hostility to Islam and other religions.)…… In reality, the minister that the MSNBC commentators blamed for the film depicting Mohammed does not appear to have been involved in its production, and the attack on our embassy in Libya that left our ambassador and three others dead appears to have been preplanned, and not inspired by recent outrage over the film after it was publicized in the Islamic world.

Should “Sam Bacile” be jailed?
By Ken White

Absolutely not! But an Ivy League professor, writing in USA Today, wants to lock him up for his hateful film - A version of this article originally appeared at Popehat.
What does it take to be a professor at an Ivy League university and to get an opinion published in USA Today? Anthea Butler is an associate professor of religious studies at Penn. Yesterday she called for the arrest of “Sam Bacile” — the “person” associated with the anti-Islam movie associated with violent riots in Libya and Egypt. I say “Sam Bacile” and “person” because it appears increasingly likely that “Sam Bacile” is a made-up persona, possibly of a convicted fraudster named Nakoula Basseley Nakoula. (Moreover, it’s increasingly in doubt whether the worst violence in the embassy attacks was inspired by the film or just used by the anti-film mobs as an opportunity to launch an assault.) Anyway, Butler called for his arrest on her Twitter account, then swiftly made her account private when criticized.

Obama Violates the First Amendment
To prove how serious the authors of the Bill of Rights were about this indispensible freedom, they gave Americans the ability to defend the right by force if necessary in the very next Amendment. Even given the historic support from the High Court for the First Amendment and the means to defend it given by the Founders, this past week the Obama Administration violated its oath to uphold the Constitution by issuing a decree abridging the First Amendment right to speech.   In a memo to private health insurers from a senior official at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) the Obama Administration issued a decree ordering them to stop informing Medicare beneficiaries that health reform legislation before Congress could hurt them and curtail their benefits if enacted. The memo went on to say that the government might take legal action against insurers that are mobilizing opposition to the legislation by sending "misleading and confusing" messages to seniors. (emphasis added by me)


Obama citizen-detention plan in trouble

Administration refuses to say writers' 1st Amendment rights protected - A district-court judge has suspended enforcement of a law that could strip U.S. citizens of their civil rights and allow indefinite detention of individuals President Obama believes to be in support of terror. The Obama administration has refused to ensure that the First Amendment rights of authors and writers who express contrary positions or report on terror group activities are protected under his new National Defense Authorization Act. m Targeted in the stunning ruling from U.S. District Judge Katherine B. Forrest of New York was Paragraph 1021 of the NDAA, which Obama signed into law last Dec. 31. The vague provision appears to allow for the suspension of civil rights for, and indefinite detention of, those individuals targeted by the president as being in support of terror.  Virginia already has passed a law that states it will not cooperate with such detentions, and several local jurisdictions have done the same. Arizona, Rhode Island, Maryland, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Washington also have reviewed such plans.


Judge to feds on citizen detention: I said no!

A federal judge has told the Obama administration that all Americans are protected by her preliminary injunction preventing enforcement of a citizen detention clause in a new federal law supported by Obama. The federal government had told the judge it concluded that her recent ruling exempted only the named plaintiffs in a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the provision. That interpretation would have enabled the government to enforce the detention provision against all Americans except the plaintiffs. U.S. District Judge Katherine B. Forrest shot back in a new Memorandum Opinion and Order yesterday that said because the possible injury to Americans includes the loss of their rights, her order was intended to protect everyone.  “The injunction in this action is intentionally expansive because ‘persons whose expression is constitutionally protected [and not party to the instant litigation] may well refrain from exercising their rights for fear of criminal sanctions by a statute susceptible of application to protected expression,’” Forrest wrote…… “The government was given a number of opportunities at the hearing and in its briefs to state unambiguously that the type of expressive and associational activities engaged in by plaintiffs – or others – are not within [paragraph] 1021. It did not. This court therefore must credit the chilling impact on 1st Amendment rights as reasonable – and real,” Forrest said.


Obama administration: Trust us on detention
By Bob Unruh

The Obama administration is pulling out all the stops in its defense of a provision in a federal law that critics say allows the unrestricted detention of Americans should Washington decide the citizens are in “support” of any terror group or activity. This from a government that previously has called those who support third-party presidential candidates, the Second Amendment or pro-life positions possible domestic terrorists. Just this week, the Obama administration appealed to the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals a district judge’s decision to grant a temporary injunction against the enforcement of the detention provision, which is found in the most recent National Defense Authorization Act, signed into law by Obama just last winter.

Obama: Detention OK for 1st Amendment 'activities'

The Obama administration is battling to restore a controversial provision of a new federal law that it admits could have been used to arrest and detain citizens indefinitely – even if their actions were protected by the First Amendment. A federal judge this week made permanent an injunction against enforcement of Section 1021 of the most recent National Defense Authorization Act, which was declared unconstitutional. The Obama administration then took only hours to file an appeal of the order from U.S. District Judge Katherine Forrest, and attorneys also asked her to halt enforcement of her order. In her order, Forrest wrote, “The government put forth the qualified position that plaintiffs’ particular activities, as described at the hearing, if described accurately, if they were independent, and without more, would not subject plaintiffs to military detention under Section 1021.” But she continued, “The government did not – and does not – generally agree or anywhere argue that activities protected by the First Amendment could not subject an individual to indefinite military detention under Section 1021.”

Editor’s Note: This was sent to me by one of my regular readers and is about seven years old….but in light of the previous articles it seems to me to be worth posting.

The Homeland Security State
By Nicholas Turse

A host of disturbing and mutually-reinforcing patterns have emerged in the resulting new Homeland Security State, among them: a virtually unopposed increase in the intrusion of military, intelligence, and "security" agencies into the civilian sector of American society; federal abridgment of basic rights; denials of civil liberties on flimsy or previously illegal premises; warrant-less sneak-and-peak searches; the wholesale undermining of privacy safeguards; the greater empowerment of secret intelligence courts (like the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act court) that threaten civil liberties; and heavy-handed federal and local law enforcement tactics designed to chill, squelch or silence dissent. Some of us may have even known that since 1989, in the name of the War on Drugs, there has been a multi-service command (comprised of approximately 160 soldiers, sailors, marines, airmen and Department of Defense operatives) known as Joint Task Force Six (JTF-6), providing "support to federal, regional, state and local law enforcement agencies throughout the continental United States." Now, we know as well that there are an unknown number of commando squads operating in the U.S ?

Chicago Teachers Union: Overpaid Babysitters?
By Matt Patterson

The grand themes of the current Chicago teacher’s strike opera are broadly similar to other union-agitated public work stoppages. The union makes demands (more money, etc.) the city/company balks (“We can’t afford that!”) and then makes overly generous counteroffers that the union still manages to find repugnant.
Ad infinitum, ad nauseum.  However, this particular teachers’ strike has a particularly vile motif lurking beneath its the already dis-harmonic melodies. The unionized teachers of Chicago don’t want to be held accountable for their student’s academic performance (as measured by standardized tests), because, they claim, teachers of inner-city youth are often tasked with educating the products of dysfunctional or non-existent family lives, crushing poverty, and violence-steeped neighborhood cultures. Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis put it best when she pleaded on behalf of her members, ”Evaluate us on what we do, not the lives of our children we do not control.” Or as she put it on September 9: There are too many factors beyond our control which impact how well some students perform on standardized tests, such as poverty, exposure to violence, homelessness, hunger and other social issues beyond our control.

My TakeSo if the reason these children are failing is because of circumstances beyond the control of teachers please explain to me how giving them more money and benefits is going to some how give them the control they seem to lack? Babysitters do a much better job for a lot less money….after all ……they just watch children also.


Teacher Evaluation At Center of Chicago Strike
By Sophia Tareen

Educators in Los Angeles just signed a new deal with the city's school district. So, too, did teachers in Boston. Both require performance evaluations based in part on how well students succeed, a system that's making its debut in Cleveland.  So what's the problem in Chicago, where 25,000 teachers in the nation's third-largest district have responded to an impatient mayor's demand that teacher evaluations be tied to student performance by walking off the job for the first time in 25 years?...... In Cleveland, the city's school district made its deal with teachers by agreeing to a loose framework for the new evaluations that would take four years to implement. The school system and the union spent a year constructing the evaluations, and then began a two-year pilot process that will not incorporate student test scores. That will come for the first time in the 2013-14 school year. "This is complex work and it takes time to build it thoughtfully and carefully," said Cleveland schools CEO Eric Gordon. "It really has been a joint commitment in the beginning. We all believe that this is the right (approach)."

My TakeI guarantee that this will be watered down to the point that it will be meaningless. There is only one solution. Competition! Create a voucher system and let parents send their children where-ever they like. RK


GM is Alive and the Volt is Dead

One of the talking points that Obama’s reelection campaign has been pushing is that “Bin Laden is dead and GM is alive!” It’s fair to say that the success of GM is a pretty important linchpin to his reelection case. Something that Obama has not been running on is his failed attempts to force his green dreams on an unwilling public. You won’t see him selling bumper stickers about Solyndra or Fisker. For Obama, his supposed successes and his actual failures merge into one story. Such is the case with the Chevy Volt, Obama’s green initiative and GM’s “moonshot.” But these days even the Obama-friendly press is having trouble keeping up the act after the Volt halted production following their dismal sales of 21,000 vehicles since manufacturing first began. Honing in on the outlandish claims the administration & GM had made in the beginning that in hindsight are clearly unrealistic, the Washington Post Editorial Board ripped apart the administration on their failure to make their investment in the Volt worth the taxpayer’s while.

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