Jim Geraghty of National Review and Greg Corombos of Radio America on President Obama’s approval ratings dropping to 41%, 500 Al Qaeda terrorists who escaped from Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, and Obama soliciting celebrities to advertise Obamacare.
Archives for July 2013
Earlier this month, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano announced she would resign her post later in the year. Reaction from both Democrats and Republicans largely heaped praise upon Napolitano, but a longtime constitutional attorney says there is not much to applaud for anyone concerned about preserving freedom and limiting government intrusion in their lives.
“What the Department of Homeland Security became under Janet Napolitano is this monstrous surveillance and very intimidating group,” said Rutherford Institute President John Whitehead, a constitutional attorney for the past 40 years and author of “A Government of Wolves: The Emerging American Police State
“I think originally there were some good intentions with the Department of Homeland Security but what happened under President Obama is that it accelerated rapidly,” said Whitehead. “I criticized George Bush’s policies. Under President Obama, we’re zooming.”
Whitehead says the Napolitano legacy of reducing freedom is evident across the board, starting in early 2009 when the department issued a report listing returning soldiers as one of the greatest threats to American security.
“Another program Napolitano set up is Operation Vigilant Eagle, which is a surveillance system done on all returning veterans from overseas, where they watch Facebook posts, text messages, emails of returning veterans to see if they’re going to be disgruntled,” said Whitehead. “There are quite a few disgruntled veterans. In fact, one that we helped just filed a major lawsuit against the Department of Homeland Security.”
“They arrived one day at his door, arrested him and actually put him in a mental institution for his Facebook posts criticizing the government. We got him out and then we sued the government,” said Whitehead.
Another outrage, according to Whitehead, is the harassment of Americans living on or somewhat near our national borders with Mexico and Canada. He says law-abiding citizens have been forced to hand over their laptops while the government officials download the information. The Rutherford Institute has also received reports of Americans being removed from their cars and searched without probable cause.
These allegations, and criticism of drone use near the borders, comes as Congress hotly debate immigration reform legislation. Whitehead says the problems he’s talking about have nothing to do with border security.
“The people coming over from Mexico are not coming over at checkpoints. Incredibly stupid, and that’s where a lot of emphasis has been placed,” said Whitehead. “Obviously, they’re not focused in the right direction. They put drones on the border but the drones obviously have not been very effective. In fact, what we found our about those drones now, on the Canadian border, turned the drones in. They’re flying inland, photographing and watching what American citizens are doing and surveillance on American towns.”
Whitehead says that sort of activity will only get more common and more intrusive until the American people stand up and refuse to accept what he considers a major infringement on our constitutional liberties.
“Drones are coming in 2015. They’re going to be awesome. They’ll have scanning devices, rubber bullets, sound cannons. They can look through the walls of your home,” said Whitehead. “They’re just going to bypass the fourth amendment and they already are doing that.”
A change at the top of DHS doesn’t give Whitehead any hope that the government will rein in its activities. He says potential replacements, like New York City Police Commissioner Ray Kelly, will likely be no different from Napolitano.
Jim Geraghty of National Review and Greg Corombos of Radio America discuss Detroit’s filing bankruptcy, the dim outlook for our economy despite Obama’s promise to promote job growth, and they welcome the royal baby.
Last week, Texas Gov. Rick Perry announced he would not run for re-election in 2014 and leave office after more than 14 years as governor. Perry won’t say if he will run for president again, but the waiting game has the Capitol Steps looking back at Perry’s 2012 campaign and speculate about his political future.
Greg Corombos of Radio America and Jim Geraghty of National Review applaud a Massachusetts State Police photographer for releasing photos of the real Dzokhar Tsarnaev in response to the Rolling Stone cover photo. They also rip the corrupt and incompetent leaders who led Detroit into ruin and bankruptcy. And they wonder why New York Rep. Peter King is mulling a 2016 White House run.
Florida Rep. Daniel Webster is viewed as a key player in the immigration debate, with Democrats hoping he can be persuaded to back the Senate version of the legislation. However, Webster makes it clear he wants nothing to do with the Gang of Eight approach to the issue.
House Democrats think Webster can be flipped since he represents a competitive district, and 14 percent of the voters there are Hispanic. The idea is to get about 23 House Republicans to back something very close to the Senate bill and squeak a compromise bill through both chambers
But it seems Democrats will have to find one of their votes somewhere else. Webster sees plenty of fatal flaws in the Gang of Eight bill, beginning with the process.
“We have made a huge mistake in this Congress by accepting the fact that comprehensive bills are a solve-all. They’re not. Look at what’s happened with Obamacare. Look at what happened with the stimulus package. Look at what happened with Dodd-Frank and all these other bills that are major, all-encompassing bills,” said Webster. “What the House plans to do is, one-by-one, step-by-step, in a methodical way, take up each individual issue and pass it as a separate bill.”
So which small bill on immigration should come first?
“I think we have to seal the borders first. That was the mistake made in 1986,” said Webster, who says doubts about border enforcement nearly stopped a heavily Democratic House from passing the bill and changes were made that still didn’t result in a secure border.
Republicans and Democrats both insist they want border security, but how to verify a secure border remains a major point of contention. Although Webster did not explain who should be tasked with declaring the border secure, he did lay out what criteria he wants to be met before that can happen.
“You set thresholds. We would say 90 percent secure means that we have reduced the number of people coming across by 90 percent. You have to put the plan in place first. Then you fund it. What the House would be proposing is to come up with a way where we can build the fence, build the wall, hire the right people and come with the number it takes to do that and then implement the plan,” said Webster. “That becomes the trigger. You’ve got to have that first before you do anything else.”
Efforts to recruit GOP support for immigration reform generally follow along two lines. One is that the party needs this to attract Hispanic votes. The other argument is that bringing illegal immigrants out of the shadows will be good news for our economy. Opponents of the current version of reform say passage will result in exactly the opposite both politically and economically. Webster says whether an immigration bill passes or not, President Obama is making economic progress and job creation extremely difficult.
“This administration has turned its back on jobs. It’s turned its back on building the (Keystone) XL Pipeline. It’s turned its back on producing oil in North America and not across the seas. It’s turned it’s back on businesses by putting extra regulations. It’s turned its back on the coal industry. When you do things like that, you’re killing jobs day by day by day,” said Webster.
“To me, the key is to get our economy rolling and I think (immigration reform) doesn’t play that much into it,” said Webster, who blasted Democrats for trying to convince Americans to accept 7.6 percent unemployment as the new normal.
We think of human cloning as something out of a science fiction novel. Aldous Huxley’s “Brave New World” and the cylons in Battlestar Galactica come to mind. But in May, science fiction became reality when researchers at the Oregon Health & Science University successfully cloned a human embryo. While the story hardly made a blip on the news radar, it marks a significant advancement in science technology and raises a number of ethical concerns. Is human cloning ethically acceptable? Should we advance cloning or outlaw these experiments before they go too far? Bioethicists weigh in on the ethics and future of human cloning. Radio America’s Elizabeth Hamilton reports.
Jim Geraghty of National Review and Greg Corombos of Radio America discuss Ken Cuccinelli’s suspicious donor gifts, Virginia congressman Frank Wolf on why Benghazi survivors signed nondisclosure agreements, and the man who cited Joe Biden’s advice on self-defense in shooting charge.
Under the threat of a presidential veto, House Republicans forged ahead with their effort to postpone implementation of both the individual and employer mandates within the Obama health care laws.
The administration announced earlier this month that it was unilaterally postponing the enactment of the employer mandate by a year, a move most Republicans welcome but not without congressional authorization.
“I approve of the actual policy (of delay) but I don’t approve of the fact that the president can do it without coming back to Congress,” said Florida Rep. Daniel Webster, a longtime business owner. “So we’re passing a law that would give that mandate credibility in that no one could ever challenge it. We passed this law we can take it back.”
Webster says the vote on the individual mandate is not an attempt to pile on the implementation difficulties but is actually a nod to the Obama’s administration own argument during the health care debate that not implementing the mandates together would create major headaches,
“We were told by the administration that we had to have an all-inclusive, all-encompassing health policy, and every single element of that has to be in place in order for it to work,” said Webster. “Now we’re being told, yesterday in the Rules Committee, by the person that came to testify against these bills we don’t really even need to have an employer mandate. It’s not all that important, never was important.”
“If you’re going to get rid of the mandate, then get rid of it for both the business world and for the individual purchaser,” he said.
Obama vows to veto the plan if it reaches his desk, citing the individual mandate as key to preserving popular options like keeping adult children on their parents’ health plan to age 26 and making sure that Americans with pre-existing conditions can get coverage. Webster says that argument has nothing to do with what the House is doing.
“That’s bogus, because this does not repeal the fact that you can stay on your parents’ policy until you’re 26. It doesn’t repeal the pre-existing condition part of that bill. It just repeals the mandate. That’s all. So every part of his veto threat, the reasons he uses are bogus,” said Webster.
Webster says businesses in his district are taking all sorts of measures to avoid penalties associated with the employer mandate, whenever it takes effect. He says some companies simply won’t hire more workers so they don’t meet the 50-employee threshold for falling under the mandate. He says some have gone evern further, reducing hours of full-time workers down part-time status so the penalties don’t apply.
The Senate is not expected to take up the mandate delays, much less approve them.
Eliana Johnson of National Review and Greg Corombos of Radio America discuss a recent poll that shows support for the president dropping among blacks, hispanics and the youth. They are astonished to find the Justice Department declined to prosecute improper scrutiny of candidates and campaign donors. And they are sadly unsurprised to find Spitzer and Weiner ahead in New York City polls.