Wednesday, May 22, 2013

The Morphing of Homeland Security

The Department of Homeland Security was formed during the George W. Bush administration in response to the attacks on the United States of September 11, 2001.  National Strategy for Homeland Security defines their mission as  "a concerted national effort to prevent terrorist attacks within the United States, reduce America's vulnerability to terrorism, and minimize the damage and recover from attacks that do occur". Because the Department of Homeland Security also encompasses the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), they are also responsible for preparation for and response to natural disasters.

It should be clear to every thinking person that our main threat from terrorism comes from Muslim fanatics. There have been numerous attacks by Islamists against Americans and other westerners:  the attack on the Marine barracks in Beirut in 1983, the bombing of the World Trade Center in 1993, the attack on the USS Cole in 2000, and the ultimate attack on our own soil on September 11, 2001, to name a few. Not all Muslims are terrorists, but the vast majority of terrorist attacks on this country have been by Muslims.  

During the Obama administration, a couple of things that raise red flags have occurred. Janet Napolitano, head of Homeland Security, has made it clear that she considers returning veterans and conservative political groups to be dangerous and possible terrorist threats. At the same time, the administration twists itself into knots in their efforts to avoid labeling violent acts as terrorism, and in particular terrorism perpetrated by Muslims.  For example, in 2009 Major Nidal Hassan went on a shooting rampage at Fort Hood in Killeen, Texas. Hassan had clearly displayed signs of growing fanaticism, carried cards identifying him as a "soldier of Allah" and shouted "Allahu Akbar" as he murdered 13 people and attempted to kill 32 others.  Yet, in spite of this, Obama has insisted on referring to this horrible incident as "workplace violence".  

On the other hand, there were protests yesterday by tea party members outside several IRS offices across the country in response to the IRS' admission that they unfairly targeted conservative groups seeking nonprofit status.  Despite what Obama and other left-wingers would have you believe, tea party gatherings are not known for being violent or disruptive, yet armed Homeland Security agents were highly visible at these protests.  Why not have the local police there instead? The answer is that tea party members are usually conservative and clearly Napolitano considers them a threat to the security of this country.  

This shift in attitude is, to my way of thinking, alarming.  Add to that the fact that Homeland Security has recently purchased 2,700 armored vehicles for domestic use and it starts to get creepy. Last, but certainly not least, DHS has also gone on a buying spree for ammunition, stockpiling an astounding 1.6 billion bullets.  Makes one wonder what they're preparing for, doesn't it? 

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Bully Mindset

The Internal Revenue Service is supposed to be nonpartisan and impartial in executing our tax laws.  As revealed recently, however, this has certainly not been the case in recent years.  I refer, of course, to the targeting of conservative organizations seeking tax-exempt status.  

To refresh your memory, these organizations were subjected to long, intrusive questionnaires which inquired about the resumes of their past and present directors, as well as attempts to obtain the names of their donors.  The waiting times for approval of their tax-exempt status were so long that some organizations simply gave up and quit trying.  

President Obama made a puzzling statement yesterday, saying that "if in fact IRS personnel" targeted conservatives, that would be "outrageous".  Why make this conditional, when the IRS has already admitted its actions?  Actually, the actions of the IRS may be worse than what they have admitted.  

Meanwhile, what we the people are getting are the usual obfuscations and outright lies from the administration. President "I never knew anything about this" Obama would have us believe that he was totally unaware of the situation, yet he "joked" in 2009 that he could use the IRS to target political enemies, but said, of course, that he never would.  

IRS spokeswoman Lois Lerner insists there was no political motivation in what the IRS did.  If that's the case, then why did they target only conservative organizations? There are abundant data that these, and earlier, inquiries were indeed politically motivated. It's also known that these inquiries came not just from the Cincinnati office, as Ms. Lerner implied, but also from offices in California and Washington D.C. 

IRS officials are still sticking to their story that these questionnaires were not meant to intimidate these groups. Yet anyone who has ever received mail from the IRS can attest to the fact that when that envelope arrives, your blood runs a bit colder.  Everyone  knows that the IRS doesn't contact you just to be friendly.

I don't know how much President Obama knew about this and I'm not implying that he gave direct orders to harass these conservative groups. Obama politico David Plouffe tweeted that what the IRS did was "dumb and wrong", but that Republicans will use this to raise more money.  In Plouffe's world, apparently all that matters is partisan advantage instead of equal treatment under the law that Americans have a right to expect from their government. The actions of the IRS were prompted by a mindset that's prevalent in this administration, i.e., hit your enemies hard with whatever means you have available. That bully mentality has filtered down from the very top.  Whether you're conservative or liberal, Republican or Democrat, every American should be disturbed by this abuse of  power.  

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Murder Is Not a Normal Part of Life

The Benghazi hearings began again today, with witnesses who were on the ground in Libya testifying as to the terrible events of September 11, 2012. As you'll recall, our ambassador and three other men were killed by Islamic fanatics on that terrible night. 

The State Department has done its best to avoid taking any blame for these deaths, Hillary Clinton famously saying during her testimony, "What difference, at this point, does it make?"  I daresay it matters a great deal to the families of these men, as well as a large segment of the American populace.  

Today, Representative Elijah Cummings (D-MD) added his own inane statement to the proceedings, saying "death is part of life".  Well, Mr. Cummings, natural death is part of life, but our ambassador and three others were murdered. Would you dare make such an insensitive statement about the children who were killed by a crazed gunman in Connecticut?  What about those who died at the hands of James Holmes in Aurora, Colorado?  

This particular consulate had been attacked twice previously by Islamists in 2012.  That fact alone should have made increased security imperative, yet none was provided.  September 11 is a significant date in our recent history, yet when that anniversary approached, no additional precautions were taken.  Didn't common sense dictate that this was a date which might entail heightened danger, especially in light of the fact that we had advanced warning?  

Now Democrats are in full CYA mode in their attempt to protect the administration.  I look at the testimony and it's sickeningly clear that this administration cared more about politics than it did about saving American lives (keep in mind that this occurred before the election).  In fact, it's been reported that after hearing that the consulate was under attack, the president was so concerned that he went to bed to rest up for a fundraiser the following day in Las Vegas!  

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said a few days ago that "Benghazi happened a long time ago".  To that, I would say two things:  first, how dare you and this administration be so flippant about these murders?  Second, Benghazi happened eight months ago.  I'm sure that doesn't seem like a long time to the families of these victims; eight months is a long time only to children.