Saturday, June 23, 2012

Jerry Sandusky verdict: For some victims, guilty verdict means 'it's finally over'

By The Patriot-News
June 23, 2012

Former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky (center) leaves the Centre County Courthouse in handcuffs after a jury found him guilty in his sex abuse trial on June 22, 2012 in Bellefonte, Penn.

BELLEFONTE- After the jury found Jerry Sandusky to be a serial pedophile, the mother of the young man known as Victim 6 embraced her son.

Despite the cheers outside the Centre County Courthouse that accompanied the announcement that Sandusky was headed to prison, quite probably for the rest of his life, she couldn't celebrate.

“Nobody wins,” she said. “We’ve all lost.”

But on Friday night, Sandusky lost, too.

After two days of deliberations, the jury found Sandusky guilty of 45 of 48 counts of child sex abuse against 10 boys over 14 years.

The 68-year-old Sandusky left the courthouse in disgrace and handcuffs, headed to Centre County Prison. His maximum sentence would exceed more than four centuries.

Sandusky was once a hero. As defensive coordinator of Penn State’s football team, he helped the Nittany Lions to two national championships. He gained even more admiration when he formed a children’s charity, The Second Mile. Through much of his adult life, Sandusky reveled in the cheers of the crowd.

On Friday, the crowd of several hundred outside the courthouse gave rousing cheers when he was found guilty.

Sandusky’s attorney, Joe Amendola, pledged to appeal the verdict, but didn’t elaborate on the grounds for appeal. But he said his client is not frightened about the prospect of spending the rest of his life in prison.

“He’s not scared,” Amendola said. “He has said to himself based on the circumstances and the weight of the evidence against him, this was the likely outcome.”

Even Amendola acknowledged the uphill court battle. A few hours before the verdict was announced, the defense attorney said he would “probably die of a heart attack” if Sandusky would be acquitted of all charges. The verdict might mark a milestone in what is perhaps the biggest scandal ever in college sports.

But it’s not over yet.

Acting Pennsylvania Attorney General Linda Kelly, who appeared at the Centre County Courthouse, made clear that prosecutors aren’t done.

“This is an ongoing investigation,” Kelly said.

Other cases loom, and attention will now turn to the cases directly involving Penn State University.
Two former Penn State administrators — Tim Curley and Gary Schultz — are charged with lying to the grand jury that investigated the child sex abuse accusations against Jerry Sandusky.

Schultz, the former university vice president, and Curley, the athletic director on administrative leave, also are charged with failing to report allegations of child abuse. Both maintain their innocence.

A judge has scheduled a 1 p.m. July 11 hearing for Curley and Schultz.

‘An important milestone’

The jurors — seven women and five men — filed into the courtroom just before 10 p.m.. Most made every effort to avoid looking at the defense or prosecution tables.

A poker-faced Judge John M. Cleland reviewed the verdict slips, handed them back to the foreman, and Sandusky’s reign of abuse came to an end.

Sandusky looked resigned to his fate from the moment he entered court. He lowered his head slightly as the first few verdicts were issued. He then gathered himself and stared blankly through the rest of the proceeding.

Several feet away, his wife, Dottie, took the news in with a stern look on her face, betraying no emotion.

The news seemed too much for Sandusky’s son, Jeff, who had his head in his hands from the moment the first guilty was read.

Afterward, the small group of family members — also including son John and daughter Kara — declined comment.

Across the room, Victim 6, whose 1998 shower with Sandusky prompted a police investigation that did not result in charges at that time, could not contain his emotions at his delayed justice.

He was in tears, embracing prosecutors.

On Friday night, the jury didn’t spell out the precise turning points for the trial. The jury did not take questions on their deliberations.

It’s impossible to overstate the impact of the case.

The verdict capped an intense two-week trial that came three years and seven months after a Clinton County teen spoke up about sexual abuse that he said he privately endured for years.

That boy, now known as Victim 1, and his mother heard about the verdicts the way the rest of the world did — on television.

Victim 1, now 18 and a recent high school graduate, was on his way to work. “I called him, I cried, I’m happy. I’m very happy,” his mother said.

He told his mom, “Thank God,” she said.

That youth’s disclosure triggered the slowly evolving investigation that would lead to Sandusky’s arrest in November. It lit a powderkeg that unseated a national icon.

Joe Paterno, who led the Nittany Lions to more wins than any other major college football coach, was fired days after Sandusky’s indictment. The trustees said he failed to show sufficient leadership. Paterno died of lung cancer in January.

The Sandusky scandal also led to the ouster of then-Penn State President Graham Spanier, the indictment of two former administrators and unprecedented criticism and scrutiny of Penn State.
The Paterno family issued a statement late Friday night:

“Although we understand the task of healing is just beginning, today’s verdict is an important milestone. The community owes a measure of gratitude to the jurors for their diligent service. Our thoughts and prayers continue to be with the victims and their families.”

‘Predatory pedophile’

Prosecutors hailed the jury’s decision as justice for the apparently still-undefined pool of victims that might be out there. Prosecutors said Sandusky used The Second Mile as a “victim factory.”

Regularly outside the courtroom this week, advocates for victims of childhood sexual abuse said it represented a landmark in their fight to help combat this scourge.

They said it showed victims that they will be believed if they come forward, even if on the surface, their abuser is a living legend.

Indeed, relying almost entirely on the often powerful accounts of the victims, lead prosecutor Joe McGettigan produced a compelling portrait of Sandusky as “the perfect serial predatory pedophile.”

Sandusky, he said, selected children from his youth charity’s popular summer camps and used his local fame and access to the Penn State football program to engage them.

Then, Sandusky tried to push boundaries as far as he could get with boys who — in most cases — were desperately seeking a father figure.

The charges stemmed from allegations of the abuse of 10 boys between 1995 and 2008.
Among the guilty verdicts were 10 counts of involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, each of which carries a minimum prison term of at least five years, or 10 years in cases that date after 2007.

The sentences, if added up, would put him in prison for more than 400 years. Given the likelihood that Cleland will run some of those sentences consecutively to mete out some degree of punishment for each victim, it is entirely possible that Sandusky is looking at a minimum prison term of at least 40 years.

After court recessed, Sandusky was immediately whisked to the county prison about 2½ miles out of town to be housed in a cell in its sex-offender unit.

County Sheriff Denny Nau acknowledged that security was bolstered slightly as Sandusky left the courthouse.

As overwhelming as the victory was, it was not a clean sweep for the prosecution.

Sandusky was acquitted of three counts, including the most serious charge stemming from one of the cases in which no victim had ever come forward.

Jurors acquitted Sandusky of the incident in 2001 in which former Penn State assistant coach Mike McQueary said he saw the former coach engaging in what he believed to be a sex act with a child at the school’s football locker rooms.

He was found guilty of lesser charges resulting from that incident.

Sandusky never testified in his own defense. Seeing Sandusky’s now-notorious interview with NBC’s Bob Costas, most legal experts concurred that keeping Sandusky off the stand was a smart move.

In the Costas interview, Sandusky’s halting responses to pointed questions sounded to many like a textbook case of a pedophile rationalizing years of secret behavior that had suddenly come to light.

The Costas interview figured greatly in the case, as prosecutors played audio clips of it to reinforce their case.

McGettigan reminded jurors of the interview in his closing argument Thursday, noting that Sandusky stumbled over what any normal person would instantly deny or find appalling.

‘It’s finally over’

Acting Centre County Prison Administrator Denise Elbell noted Friday that Sandusky will be locked in his cell — with a Bible, maybe one other book — pretty much around the clock, with limited access to the day room with a television.

When he is in that day room, Elbell said, all the other inmates in the unit will be in their cells.

It’s a security step the prison takes for all inmates committed for serious sex crimes. They’re usually in lockdown with very little movement throughout the facility, Elbell said.

Even his meals will be eaten in isolation. The solid doors in the sex offenders’ unit have pass-throughs for food, Elbell said.

It is a startling turn but fitting end, some said, for a man once held up as the kind of coach every parent would want their child to learn from.

He is now deemed a sexual predator who, despite several close escapes and free passes over the years, seemingly could not prevent his lust for young boys from turning him into the kind of monster capable of destroying a childhood.

And while prosecutors continue investigations, for the parent of one victim, there could be some satisfaction, and possibly even some closure.

“I think it’s finally over,” said Victim 1’s mother. “It’s been a long time. I think it’s finally over.”

Related topics: jerry sandusky, sandusky trial, sandusky verdict

Obama the first Invented-American president

By Mark Steyn
The Orange County Register
June 22, 2012

The Dunhams at Barack Obama's Punahou School graduation, 1979.

Courtesy of David Maraniss' new book, we now know that yet another key prop of Barack Obama's identity is false: His Kenyan grandfather was not brutally tortured or even non-brutally detained by his British colonial masters. The composite gram'pa joins an ever-swelling cast of characters from Barack's "memoir" who, to put it discreetly, differ somewhat in reality from their bit parts in the grand Obama narrative. The best friend at school portrayed in Obama's autobiography as "a symbol of young blackness" was, in fact, half Japanese, and not a close friend. The white girlfriend he took to an off-Broadway play that prompted an angry post-show exchange about race never saw the play, dated Obama in an entirely different time zone, and had no such world-historically significant conversation with him. His Indonesian step-grandfather, supposedly killed by Dutch soldiers during his people's valiant struggle against colonialism, met his actual demise when he "fell off a chair at his home while trying to hang drapes."

David Maraniss is no right-winger, and can't understand why boorish nonliterary types have seized on his book as evidence that the president of the United States is a Grade A phony. "It is a legitimate question about where the line is in memoir," he told Soledad O'Brien on CNN. My Oxford dictionary defines "memoir" as "an historical account or biography written from personal knowledge." And if Obama doesn't have "personal knowledge" of his tortured grandfather, war-hero step-grandfather and racially obsessed theater-buff girlfriend, who does? But in recent years, the Left has turned the fake memoir into one of the most prestigious literary genres: Oprah's Book Club recommended James Frey's "A Million Little Pieces," hailed by Bret Easton Ellis as a "heartbreaking memoir" of "poetic honesty," but subsequently revealed to be heavy on the "poetic" and rather light on the "honesty." The "heartbreaking memoir" of a drug-addled street punk who got tossed in the slammer after brawling with cops while high on crack with his narco-hooker girlfriend proved to be the work of some suburban Pat Boone type with a couple of parking tickets. (I exaggerate, but not as much as he did.)

Oprah was also smitten by "The Education of Little Tree," the heartwarmingly honest memoir of a Cherokee childhood which turned out to be concocted by a former Klansman whose only previous notable literary work was George Wallace's "Segregation Forever" speech. "Fragments: Memories of a Wartime Childhood" is a heartbreakingly honest, poetically searing, searingly painful, painfully honest, etc., account of Binjamin Wilkomirski's unimaginably horrific boyhood in the Jewish ghetto of Riga and the Nazi concentration camp at Auschwitz. After his memoir won America's respected National Jewish Book Award, Mr. Wilkomirski was inevitably discovered to have been born in Switzerland and spent the war in a prosperous neighborhood of Zurich being raised by a nice middle-class couple. He certainly had a deprived childhood, at least from the point of view of a literary agent pitching a memoir to a major publisher. But the "unimaginable" horror of his book turned out to be all too easily imagined. Fake memoirs have won the Nobel Peace Prize and are taught at Ivy League schools to the scions of middle-class families who take on six-figure debts for the privilege ("I, Rigoberta Menchu"). They're handed out by the Pentagon to senior officers embarking on a tour of Afghanistan (Greg Mortenson's "Three Cups of Tea") on the entirely reasonable grounds that a complete fantasy could hardly be less credible than current NATO strategy.

In such a world, it was surely only a matter of time before a fake memoirist got elected as president of the United States. Indeed, the aforementioned Rigoberta Menchu ran as a candidate in the 2007 and 2011 presidential elections in Guatemala, although she got knocked out in the first round – Guatemalans evidently being disinclined to elect someone to the highest office in the land with no accomplishment whatsoever apart from a lousy fake memoir. Which just goes to show what a bunch of unsophisticated rubes they are.

In an inspired line of argument, Ben Smith of the website BuzzFeed suggests that the controversy over "Dreams From My Father" is the fault of conservatives who have "taken the self-portrait at face value." We are so unlettered and hicky that we think a memoir is about stuff that actually happened rather than a literary jeu d'esprit playing with nuances of notions of assumptions of preconceptions of concoctions of invented baloney. And so we regard the first member of the Invented-American community to make it to the White House as a kinda weird development rather than an encouraging sign of how a new post-racial, post-gender, post-modern America is moving beyond the old straitjackets of black and white, male and female, gay and straight, real and hallucinatory.

The question now is whether the United States itself is merely the latest chapter of Obama's fake memoir. You'll notice that, in the examples listed above, the invention only goes one way. No Cherokee orphan, Holocaust survivor or recovering drug addict pretends to be George Wallace's speechwriter. Instead, the beneficiaries of boring middle-class Western life seek to appropriate the narratives and thereby enjoy the electric frisson of fashionable victim groups. And so it goes with public policy in the West at twilight.

Thus, Obama's executive order on immigration exempting a million people from the laws of the United States, is patently unconstitutional, but that's not how an NPR listener looks at it: To him, Obama's unilateral amnesty enriches stultifying white-bread America with a million plucky little Rigoberta Menchus and their heartbreaking stories. Eric Holder's entire tenure as attorney general is a fake memoir all by itself, and his invocation of "executive privilege" in the Fast & Furious scandal is preposterous, but American liberals can't hear: Insofar as they know anything about Fast & Furious, it's something to do with the government tracking the guns of fellows like those Alabama "Segregation Forever" nuts, rather than a means by which hundreds of innocent Rigoberta Menchus south of the border were gunned down with weapons sold to their killers by liberal policy-makers of the Obama administration. If that's the alternative narrative, they'll take the fake memoir.

Similarly, Obamacare is apparently all about the repressed patriarchal white male waging his "war on women." The women are struggling 30-year-old Georgetown Law coeds whose starting salary after graduation is 140 grand a year, but let's not get hung up on details. Dodd-Frank financial reform, also awaiting Supreme Court judgment, is another unconstitutional power grab, but its designated villains are mustache-twirling top-hatted bankers, so, likewise, who cares?

One can understand why the beneficiaries of the postwar West's expansion of middle-class prosperity would rather pass themselves off as members of way-cooler victim groups: it's a great career move. It may even have potential beyond the page: See Sandra Fluke's dazzling pre-Broadway tryout of "Fake Memoir: The High School Musical," in which a 30-year-old Georgetown Law coed whose starting salary after graduation is 140 grand a year passes herself off as the Little Rigoberta Hussein Wilkomirski of the Rite-Aid pick-up line. But transforming an entire nation into a fake memoir is unlikely to prove half so lucrative. The heartwarming immigrants, the contraceptive-less coeds, the mustache-twirling bankers all provide cover for a far less appealing narrative: an expansion of centralized power hitherto unknown to this republic. In reality, Obama's step-grandfather died falling off the chair while changing the drapes. In the fake-memoir version, Big Government's on the chair, and it's curtains for America.


Friday, June 22, 2012

Maraniss Bio Deepens Obama Birth Mystery

By Jack Cashill
June 22, 2012

David Maraniss has no use for "birthers." In a recent interview, he dismissed their beliefs as "preposterous" and wonders why they cling to them, since "every fact and document leads in another direction."

Yet the one core belief that has united the birther community -- if there be such a thing -- is that Obama dissembled when he talked at both the 2004 and 2008 Democratic Conventions about his parents' "improbable love" and "abiding faith in the possibilities of this nation."

Birthers have known for years that there was no Obama family, that the couple never lived together, that Obama campaigned on a lie, and that the major media covered for him every step of the way.
This, ironically, Maraniss confirms in Barack Obama: The Story, a book that has to be parsed as carefully as the Talmud or Finnegan's Wake to be made sense of. Despite his slam on birthers, the facts herein will come as more of a shock to the Obama faithful than to those who have questioned the official birth narrative.

"In the college life of Barack Obama [Senior] in 1961 and 1962," writes Maraniss, "as recounted by his friends and acquaintances in Honolulu, there was no Ann; there was no baby." Although Maraniss talked to many of Obama Sr.'s friends, none of the credible ones ever so much as saw him with Obama's mother, Ann Dunham.

One Obama friend, a Cambodian named Kiri Tith, knew the senior Obama "very well." He had also met Ann through a different channel. "But he had no idea," writes Maraniss, "that Ann knew Obama, let alone got hapai (pregnant) by him, married him, and had a son with him."

Having established the facts, Maraniss turns protective. He refuses to explore the implications of his own reporting. The most consequential is that Obama grounded his 2008 campaign -- his very persona, for that matter -- on a family story that was pure fraud. Lyndon Johnson's masterful biographer, Robert Caro, would never let his subject walk away from such a lie unscathed.

The casual reader of the Maraniss book is left with the impression that Ann and Obama had a one-night stand that they both regretted, but that they consented to marriage because that is what people did back in 1961. The more informed reader wonders whether Barack Obama, Sr. was fronting for the real father, the best candidate being Obama's future mentor, Frank Marshall Davis. Maraniss opens the door on both possibilities but fails to even peek through.

As to the presumed February 1961 wedding, the usually thorough Maraniss offers no detail at all. His endnotes say only this: "Marriage facts recorded in divorce records." To be sure, Ann and Obama claimed a wedding. It suited both their purposes: Obama to extend his visa, and Dunham to legitimize her baby with a black husband.

As to the divorce, Dunham at the time was desperately trying to keep her future husband Lolo Soetoro in the country. The INS believed her to be married to Obama. Even if she were not married, a divorce would have been useful to clear the way for a marriage to Soetoro. Maraniss explains none of this.

Like all other mainstream biographers of the Obama family, Maraniss tells us not a single word about Ann's life in the six months between the February wedding and Obama's August 1961 birth. Given the controversy surrounding Obama's place of birth, Maraniss should have commented on a void of this duration, and he knows it.

Later, when discussing Obama's murky New York years, he opines, "Nothing is so tempting for conspiracy theorists as what appears to be a hole in a life." Maraniss attempts to flesh out the New York years. He makes no effort to fill this critical hole in Ann's life.

On the subject of the birth, the usually voluble Maraniss is as tight-lipped as he is on the wedding. He reports that Obama was born at 7:24 in the evening of August 4, 1961 at Kapi'olani Hospital. As reference, he cites "State of Hawaii Certificate of Live Birth," presumably the unverified document posted online last April.

In the way of confirmation, Maraniss offers only one story -- an elaborate one that he takes two pages to tell. It comes down to this: a woman is having lunch shortly after Obama's birth with an OB/GYN, who tells her, "Stanley had a baby. Now that's something to write home about."

The woman, Barbara Czurles-Nelson, has been telling this story for several years. Maraniss adds the clarification that the doctor in question was not the one who delivered the baby, as first reported, but someone who had heard the "Stanley" anecdote on the grapevine.

One serious flaw in Maraniss's reporting is that he gives too much credence to obviously inflated memories. A glaring example, one that has been cited often as fact, is of the paper Obama allegedly wrote as a schoolboy in Indonesia in which he said, "Someday I want to be president."

Maraniss quotes the entire, seemingly impressive paper, both in English and in the Indonesian language, Bahasa. He then adds, "The paper no longer exists, though [the teacher's] memory is precise and there is no reason not to trust it." No, David, there is every reason not to trust it.

Czurles-Nelson also remembers her story much too well. In the gratuitously lengthy account of the "Stanley" anecdote, the reader learns, for instance, that 50 years earlier, Czurles-Nelson and the doctor were sitting "near the lunch buffet." This is the kind of confirming detail Maraniss likes to provide.

All the stranger, then, is his failure to provide a single shred of information regarding the circumstances surrounding Obama's birth. The reader has no idea who took Ann to the hospital, who delivered her baby, who took her home, or even where "home" was.

Maraniss hints at where home was not -- namely, the residence her parents shared with the Pratt family at 6085 Kalanianole Highway, the address listed on the birth certificate. As Maraniss relates, the Pratt daughter, then an adolescent, "has no memory of the Dunhams' daughter bringing an infant home." He adds, "[Ann] and Obama and the infant never lived [at 6085 Kalanianole]."

Indeed, the young family never lived together, and this Maraniss concedes. "Within a month of the day Barry came home from the hospital," he writes, "he and his mother were long gone from Honolulu, back on the mainland ... ." They had decamped for Seattle, where they would live for the next year.

Maraniss interviewed not a single person who saw the newborn in Hawaii. It is likely that Obama Sr. never saw young Barry. Barry Obama's first sighting was in Seattle. Maraniss tells us nothing about how Ann and the baby got there.

In the blogosphere, these revelations do not comes as news. In the mainstream media, however, they must stun. In their respective biographies of Obama and his family, all published 2010 or later, the New Yorker's David Remnick, the Boston Globe's Sally Jacobs, and the New York Times's Janny Scott and Jodi Kantor each consciously skirted the facts to sustain the illusion of a functioning Obama family. More troubling, conservative writer Dinesh D'Souza did the same in his disingenuous 2010 bestseller, The Roots of Obama's Rage.

As recently as Father's Day 2012, Obama was telling America's schoolchildren that his father "left when I was two years old." The media let him get away with it. Is it any wonder that birthers don't take their criticisms too seriously?

Maraniss debunks this fraudulent birth narrative much too quietly. Perhaps he feels guilty about contributing to it himself. He wrote a 10,000-word Obama bio for the Washington Post in August 2008, and he made a total botch out of the birth narrative. Had he gotten the story straight then, he might have turned the election.

Obama’s amnesty-by-fiat: Naked lawlessness

The Washington Post
June 22, 2012

“With respect to the notion that I can just suspend deportations [of immigrants brought here illegally as children] through executive order, that’s just not the case, because there are laws on the books that Congress has passed.”

— President Obama, March 28, 2011

Those laws remain on the books. They have not changed. Yet Obama last week suspended these very deportations — granting infinitely renewable “deferred action” with attendant work permits — thereby unilaterally rewriting the law. And doing precisely what he himself admits he is barred from doing.

Obama had tried to change the law. In late 2010, he asked Congress to pass the Dream Act, which offered a path to citizenship for hundreds of thousands of young illegal immigrants. Congress refused.

When subsequently pressed by Hispanic groups to simply implement the law by executive action, Obama explained that it would be illegal. “Now, I know some people want me to bypass Congress and change the laws on my own. . . . But that’s not how our system works. That’s not how our democracy functions. That’s not how our Constitution is written.”

That was then. Now he’s gone and done it anyway. It’s obvious why. The election approaches and his margin is slipping. He needs a big Hispanic vote and this is the perfect pander. After all, who will call him on it? A supine press? Congressional Democrats? Nothing like an upcoming election to temper their Bush 43-era zeal for defending Congress’s exclusive Article I power to legislate.

With a single Homeland Security Department memo, the immigration laws no longer apply to 800,000 people. By what justification? Prosecutorial discretion, says Janet Napolitano.

This is utter nonsense. Prosecutorial discretion is the application on a case-by-case basis of considerations of extreme and extenuating circumstances. No one is going to deport, say, a 29-year-old illegal immigrant whose parents had just died in some ghastly accident and who is the sole support for a disabled younger sister and ailing granny. That’s what prosecutorial discretion is for. The Napolitano memo is nothing of the sort. It’s the unilateral creation of a new category of persons — a class of 800,000 — who, regardless of individual circumstance, are hereby exempt from current law so long as they meet certain biographic criteria.

This is not discretion. This is a fundamental rewriting of the law.

Imagine: A Republican president submits to Congress a bill abolishing the capital gains tax. Congress rejects it. The president then orders the IRS to stop collecting capital gains taxes and declares that anyone refusing to pay them will suffer no fine, no penalty, no sanction whatsoever. (Analogy first suggested by law professor John Yoo.)

It would be a scandal, a constitutional crisis, a cause for impeachment. Why? Because unlike, for example, war powers, this is not an area of perpetual executive-legislative territorial contention. Nor is cap gains, like the judicial status of unlawful enemy combatants, an area where the law is silent or ambiguous. Capital gains is straightforward tax law. Just as Obama’s bombshell amnesty-by-fiat is a subversion of straightforward immigration law.

It is shameful that congressional Democrats are applauding such a brazen end run. Of course it’s smart politics. It divides Republicans, rallies the Hispanic vote and preempts Marco Rubio’s attempt to hammer out an acceptable legislative compromise. Very clever. But, by Obama’s own admission, it is naked lawlessness.

As for policy, I sympathize with the obvious humanitarian motives of the Dream Act. But two important considerations are overlooked in concentrating exclusively on the Dream Act poster child, the straight-A valedictorian who rescues kittens from trees.

First, offering potential illegal immigrants the prospect that, if they can hide just long enough, their children will one day freely enjoy the bounties of American life creates a huge incentive for yet more illegal immigration.

Second, the case for compassion and fairness is hardly as clear-cut as advertised. What about those who languish for years in godforsaken countries awaiting legal admission to America? Their scrupulousness about the law could easily cost their children the American future that illegal immigrants will have secured for theirs.

But whatever our honest and honorable disagreements about the policy, what holds us together is a shared allegiance to our constitutional order. That’s the fundamental issue here. As Obama himself argued in rejecting the executive action he has now undertaken, “America is a nation of laws, which means I, as the president, am obligated to enforce the law. I don’t have a choice about that.”

Except, apparently, when violating that solemn obligation serves his reelection needs.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Today's Tune: Chris Knight - Down The River (Live 2011)

The Plot Thickens: Obama Asserts Executive Privilege to Block Fast & Furious Disclosures

By Andrew C. McCarthy
June 20, 2012

US attorney-general Eric Holder talks with House Oversight Committee and Government Reform chairman Darrell Issa. Photograph: Kevin Lam/Reuters

The Obama administration has a narrative about Fast & Furious. The Wall Street Journal obligingly reported it this morning, as follows:
The gun-walking tactics in Fast and Furious turned up in earlier ATF cases, during the Bush administration. When they were uncovered by Justice officials in the Obama administration, a top Justice official raised concerns with ATF officials, according to Justice documents released last year. But the officials never alerted Mr. Holder, didn’t do enough to prevent similar cases and weren’t aware the operation was under way until months later, according to Justice documents.

Mr. Holder, in a letter last week to Mr. Issa, said, “The record in this matter reflects that until allegations about the inappropriate tactics used in Fast and Furious were made public, department leadership was unaware of those tactics.”
There are a variety of reasons to be skeptical of this version of events. To name only two:
(a) there were wiretaps in the F&F investigation, and when the government seeks a wiretap, federal law requires it to explain what investigative tactics have been used in the case, an explanation that is vetted by top DOJ officials because the government cannot apply for the wiretap without the approval of the attorney general or his designee (a high Justice Department official) — it seems highly unlikely, assuming DOJ complied with wiretap law, that top Justice Department officials did not know about the gun-walking tactic until late in the game; and (b) the gun-walking tactic — which in F&F involved providing well over a thousand firearms to violent criminals — was shocking, and it is hard to believe that if “Justice officials” knew enough to raise their concerns with the ATF brass, they failed to alert Attorney General Holder or follow through to make sure ATF and the U.S. attorney’s office — both arms of the Justice Department — stopped the tactic.

But let’s put all that aside for argument’s sake and assume that the Obama administration’s narrative is true. If this is what really happened, Attorney General Holder does not deserve our condemnation; he deserves a commendation. And if this is really what happened, what are the chances that the administration that can’t shovel national defense secrets out fast enough to the New York Times would withhold a paper trail that covers Mr. Holder in glory?

The issue in F&F is not the withholding of DOJ documents. The issue is the reckless provision of an arsenal fit for an army to violent cartels, quite predictably resulting in the murders of possibly hundreds of people including at least one United States law enforcement officer. That is the reason Congress did not go away, as it usually does, when the Justice Department ignores or slow-walks demands for information. What happened here is too grave to take “no” for an answer.

If this were a Republican administration, the press would long ago have made the Department’s obstruction of Congress a five-alarm scandal. Bush administration Attorney General Alberto Gonzales was forced to resign over a matter that was less than frivolous compared to F&F. The press is in the tank for Obama, so Holder & Co. have relatively smooth sailing — even when it became clear that they provided blatantly false information to Congress about the use of the gun-walking tactic. Chairman Darrell Issa (R., CA) has been heroic in pursuing this investigation at a time when Republicans have been generally feckless in challenging Obama’s abuses of power.

But while Holder has been in the eye of what little storm there was, it has always been the case that F&F is Obama’s scandal. Holder has never done anything other than implement Obama’s policies and manage relations with Congress as Obama wished them to be conducted. Obviously, the hope was that if DOJ was intransigent enough, the House would get frustrated and bored and move on to other things. That hasn’t happened, thanks to Rep. Issa and his colleagues. But the focus on Holder and withheld documents should not obscure that F&F is really about Obama and the murders of a federal agent and hundreds of others — very likely, to promote the Left’s political argument that American Second Amendment rights are the cause of international violence.

Because Issa has been dogged, we have now gotten down to brass tacks. The prospect of the attorney general’s being held in contempt finally prompted the president — the only official in the government empowered to assert executive privilege — to claim that the documents sought are being withheld at his (Obama’s) direction, based on his constitutional authority.

Executive privilege is a vestige of Richard Nixon’s desperate effort to conceal criminality in the Watergate scandal. The last thing Obama wanted to do, with the November election looming, was resort to the Nixon strategy (which, we should recall, failed in the end). And, again, if the Obama administration’s story was true, they would want to release the documents that support it.

They really don’t want you to see what is in those documents.


By Ann Coulter
June 20, 2012

l-r: Rep. Rashida H. Tlaib, Senate Minority Leader Gretchen Whitmer, Rep. Lisa Brown, Eve Ensler, and Rep. Stacy Erwin Oakes

A Michigan legislator, Lisa Brown, gave a speech in the statehouse last week that would have made her right at home in a women's studies course at a local community college, but a wacko in a group of actual legislators.

She commented on a pending abortion bill by first announcing that she was Jewish, kept kosher, described her various sets of plates, and then saying that Jewish law makes abortion mandatory to save the life of the mother.

This had absolutely nothing to do with the bill being considered, but it may explain why there are no Jewish Tim Tebows.

Then she said: "I have not asked you to adopt and adhere to my religious beliefs. Why are you asking me to adopt yours?"

Her smashing crescendo was: "And finally Mr. Speaker, I'm flattered that you're all so interested in my vagina, but 'no' means 'no'!"

It's not clear where Rep. Brown got the idea that the Republican caucus was planning on date-raping her, but I think there's been a terrible misunderstanding. The bill under consideration merely ensured the safety of women having abortions -- and, in a small way, the safety of the fetus, whom the U.S. Supreme Court has prohibited legislatures from protecting directly.

Thus, the bill addressed insurance and inspections of abortion clinics, and included a requirement that the abortionist confirm that the woman having the abortion was not being pressured by a third party to do so.

I have not polled all the Republicans in the Michigan statehouse yet, but the ones I've spoken to assure me that Rep. Brown's vagina played a very small role in their deliberations. It's odd that she seems to think she's the object of so much Republican male fantasy.

Why must a certain type of woman always start shouting about her vagina whenever the topic of abortion comes up?

Do what you want with your vagina. Pro-lifers just want to stop babies from being killed. It would be as though a slaveholder complained that Republicans wanted to regulate his anus by abolishing slavery and taking away his right to crap on his slaves.

For making inappropriate remarks during a legislative session, Brown was prohibited from making floor speeches for one day. Being an hysterical drama queen who believes the Michigan Legislature was thinking about her and her vagina, Rep. Brown responded to the sanction by claiming she had been "silenced." A vulgarian gets a one-day penalty, and suddenly she's Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn.

Rep. Brown was not being silenced. She was being admonished for a crazy display of narcissism utterly irrelevant to the bill under discussion. I would never in a million years silence a woman because of her views on abortion, but I'd vote for a month of silence from this self-dramatizing freak.

The media are in full smirk mode, not at Rep. Brown's perversely self-referential speech positing that Republican legislators wanted to date-rape her, but at Republican bluenoses, whom they seem to think are shocked by the word "vagina."

Hey, does anyone else remember way back into the distant past three months ago when liberals were ablaze with indignation because Rush Limbaugh used the "s-word" to describe Sandra Fluke, another drama queen, who was demanding taxpayers pay for her contraception? That word had liberals fainting like Victorian virgins.

In a letter to House Speaker John Boehner, 75 Democrats in Congress called the language used by Limbaugh "sexually charged," "patently offensive," "obscene and indecent," and called on Republican leaders to condemn it. The president of the United States even called Fluke to see if she was OK after having been called ... the "s-word"!

But now, lo these many weeks later, you can't find a liberal female who isn't screaming "vagina." Thousands of beastly women appeared near the Michigan statehouse on Monday -- as well as every show, every hour on MSNBC that night -- to shout "vagina!"

On one of the 800 TV shows Rep. Brown did this week -- which, ironically, were the exact same shows that had featured Fluke describing her trauma at having been called the "s-word" -- MSNBC's Lawrence O'Donnell gushed about the advances society has made since the days when women did not prattle about their vaginas in public. He said: "It's easy, I think, for some of our audience tonight who are in their 30s or 20s to not be able to even comprehend what that world was like."

Rep. Brown somberly agreed, saying, "We have all, as women, come a long way."

Another guest, Eve Ensler, authoress of "The Vagina Monologues," talked about the magic of thousands of women shouting "vagina" in public: "Many young women came up to thank both of us for giving them voice, for allowing them to be authentic, for allowing them to love their bodies, for allowing them to feel agency over their bodies and their rights, to know that they have choices, that what they decide to do with the reproductive decisions or abortion decisions or whatever they decide is their choice. It's their body."

That is, unless your little body hasn't been born yet, in which case, liberals think it can be torn to shreds and dumped in the garbage -- a point they argue by shouting "vagina" and claiming Republican legislators want to date-rape them.


Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Obama's grandfather tortured by the British? A fantasy (like most of the President’s own memoir)

By Toby Harnden
The Daily Mail
19 June 2012

Barack Obama with his grandparents Stanley Armour Dunham and Madelyn Dunham in New York in the 1980s.

A new biography of Barack Obama has established that his grandfather was not, as is related in the President’s own memoir, detained by the British in Kenya and found that claims that he was tortured were a fabrication.

'Barack Obama: The Story' by David Maraniss catalogues dozens of instances in which Obama deviated significantly from the truth in his book 'Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance'. The 641-page book punctures the carefully-crafted narrative of Obama’s life.

One of the enduring myths of Obama’s ancestry is that his paternal grandfather Hussein Onyango Obama, who served as a cook in the British Army, was imprisoned in 1949 by the British for helping the anti-colonial Mau Mau rebels and held for several months.

Obama’s step-grandmother Sarah, Onyango wife, who is still living, is quoted in the future President’s memoir, as saying: ‘One day, the white man’s askaris came to take Onyango away, and he was placed in a detention camp.

‘But he had been in the camp for over six months, and when he returned to Alego he was very thin and dirty. He had difficulty walking, and his head was full of lice. He was so ashamed, he refused to enter his house or tell us what happened.’

In a 2008 interview, Sarah Obama claimed that he was ‘whipped every morning and evening’ by the British. ‘They would sometimes squeeze his testicles with metal rods. They also pierced his nails and buttocks with a sharp pin, with his hands and legs tied together. He was lucky to survive. Some of his fellow inmates were mutilated with castration pliers and beaten to death with clubs.’

But Maraniss, who researched Obama’s life in Kenya, Indonesia, Hawaii and the mainland United States, found that there were ‘no remaining records of any detention, imprisonment, or trial of Hussein Onyango Obama’. He interviewed five people who knew Obama’s grandfather, who died in 1979, who ‘doubted the story or were certain it did not happen’.

This undermines the received wisdom that Obama’s grandfather was a victim of oppression, an assumption that has in turn fuelled theories that Obama harbours an animus towards Britain based on a deeply-rooted rage about the way Onyango was treated.

John Ndalo Aguk, who worked with Onyango before the alleged imprisonment and was in touch with him weekly afterwards said he 'knew nothing' about any detention and would have noticed if he had gone missing for several months.

Zablon Okatch, who worked with Onyango as a servant to American diplomats after the supposed incarceration, said: ‘Hussein was never jailed. I know that for a fact. It would have been difficult for him to get a job with a white family, let alone a diplomat, if he once served in jail.’

Charles Oluoch, whose father was adopted by Onyango, said that ‘he did not have any trouble with the government in any way'.

Dick Opar, a relative by marriage to Onyango and a senior Kenyan police official, gave what Maraniss judged to be the most authoritative word. ‘People make up stories,’ he said. ‘If you get arrested, you say it was the fight for independence, but they are arrested for another thing.

‘I would have known. I would have known. If he was in Kamiti Prison for only a day, even if for a day, I would have known.’

Maraniss also casts a sceptical eye on Obama’s grandmother’s tales of racism in Kansas, doubting whether she was ever chastised for addressing a black janitor as ‘Mister’ or ridiculed for playing with a black girl.

Obama himself, Maraniss finds, deliberately distorted elements of his own life to fit into a racial narrative. The author writes that Obama presents himself in his memoir as ‘blacker and more disaffected’ than he really was.

The memoir ‘accentuates characters drawn from black acquaintances who played lesser roles his real life but could be used to advance a line of thought, while leaving out or distorting the actions of friends who happened to be white’.

In the forward to his memoir, Obama wrote that ‘for the sake of compression, some of the characters that appear are composites of people I’ve known, and some events appear out of precise chronology’.

But Maraniss writes that Obama’s book is ‘literature and memoir, not history and autobiography’ and concludes: ‘The character creations and rearrangements of the book are not merely a matter of style, devices of compression, but are also substantive.’

Writing about his schooldays, Obama created a friend called Regina, a symbol of the authentic black American experience that Obama yearns for.

Maraniss found, however, that Regina was based on Caroline Boss, a white student leader at Occidental College. Regina was the name of Boss’s Swiss grandmother.

The book also notes that Obama removed two white roommates in Los Angeles and New York from his story. Obama himself told Maraniss in a 90-minute interview that a racial incident involving a New York girlfriend had in fact happened in Chicago.

A tale of the father of Obama’s Indonesian stepfather Soewarno Martodihardjo being killed by Dutch soldiers as he fought for Indonesian independence turns out to be ‘a concocted myth in almost all respects’, Maraniss finds.

According to the book, both Obama’s father and his paternal grandfather were abusive towards women and Maraniss finds that Obama’s story that he was abandoned by his father when he was two was false – in fact, Obama’s mother fled to Washington state a year earlier, possibly because she was being beaten.

A character in Obama’s memoir called Ray, portrayed as a symbol of young blackness, is in fact based on a fellow pupil who was half Japanese, part native American and part black and was not a close friend.

‘In the memoir Barry and Ray, could be heard complaining about how rich white haole [upper class white Hawaiian] girls would never date them. In fact, neither had much trouble in that regard.’

Obama notes of his own grandfather that he was apt to create ‘history to conform with the image he wished for himself’.

Maraniss, who also wrote an acclaimed biography of Bill Clinton, suggests that throughout his life Obama himself, following on from his forbears on both sides, has done the same thing.

Read more:

Today's Tune: Joe Ely - Live Forever (Live)

What Maraniss Obviously Missed

By Jack Cashill
June 19, 2012

I read the lead in the review of David Maraniss's much discussed new book, Barack Obama, the Story, by Ben Smith of Buzzfeed of with at least one eyebrow arched.

"David Maraniss's new biography of Barack Obama is the first sustained challenge to Obama's control over his own story," writes Smith, "a firm and occasionally brutal debunking of Obama's bestselling 1995 memoir, Dreams from My Father."

Although those of us in the blogosphere lack Maraniss's resources and access to friendly witnesses, we have been debunking Obama's Dreams for the last four years. As I note in the introduction of my 2011 book, Deconstructing Obama, "In unlocking [Obama's] past, I have discovered that the story that Obama has been telling all his life varies from the true story in ways big and small." 

Maraniss documents those variations better than I ever could have. "I counted 38 instances in which the biographer convincingly disputes significant elements of Obama's own story of his life and his family history," writes Smith. According to Maraniss, and this comes as a revelation to Smith, Obama falsified his bio largely to portray himself as "blacker and more disaffected" than he really was.

What is missing from the Maraniss book, however, is any real understanding of how Obama came to do this. A little background is in order here. It just so happened that Barack Obama was not the only black icon in his neighborhood to write a best-selling memoir. Boxing great Muhammad Ali produced one long before Obama, and he too with more than a little assistance. In Ali's case, that assistance has been well documented by black scholar Gerald Early. 

According to Early, the Nation of Islam oversaw the entire production of The Greatest: My Own Story. The NOI newspaper's Marxist editor, Richard Durham, taped any number of conversations with the nearly illiterate Ali or between Ali and others and then gave them to an "editor" for writing.  That editor was a young Toni Morrison. Ali's is surely the only boxing autobiography ghosted by a future Nobel Prize winner. NOI honcho Elijah Muhammad's son Herbert reviewed every page. As you might expect, Ali's Muslim helpmates rendered his story poorer, tougher, and blacker than the truth would bear. I relate this tale of literary gamesmanship in my own book, Sucker Punch.

As I came to believe early on, whoever guided Obama steered him towards a grievance narrative like Ali's, if not quite as obvious or extravagant. Even on my first reading in July 2008, I could see that Obama's muse proved particularly eloquent on the subject of the angry black male.

Phrases like "full of inarticulate resentments," "knotted, howling assertion of self," "unruly maleness," "unadorned insistence on respect" and "withdrawal into a smaller and smaller coil of rage" lace the book. Yet in the several spontaneous interviews Obama had given on the subject of race, I had not seen a glimpse of this eloquence or of this anger.

The evidence eventually led me towards an odd conclusion: The man who lent Obama his voice on the subject of blackness gave all appearances of being white. The more I researched Bill Ayers' background, the less unlikely this seemed. Skin color aside, Ayers and Obama had much in common. Both grew up in comfortable white households, attended idyllic, largely white prep schools, and have struggled to find an identity as righteous black men ever since.

"I also thought I was black," writes Ayers only half-jokingly in his 2001 memoir, Fugitive Days. He read all the authors Obama did -- James Baldwin, Leroi Jones, Richard Wright, Malcolm X. As proof of his righteousness, Ayers named his first son "Malik" after the newly Islamic Malcolm X and the second son "Zayd" after Zayd Shakur, a Black Panther killed in a shootout that claimed the life of a New Jersey State Trooper. Just as Obama resisted "the pure and heady breeze of privilege" to which he was exposed as a child, Ayers too resisted "white skin privilege" or at least tried to.

Tellingly, Ayers, like Obama, began his career as a self-described "community organizer," Ayers in inner-city Cleveland, Obama in inner-city Chicago. In Chicago, Ayers also found a strategic ally in Jeremiah Wright, a man he called a "distinguished theologian and major intellectual," meaning that Wright too spelled "Amerikkka" with three Ks. In short, Ayers was fully capable of crawling inside Obama's head and relating in superior prose what Obama calls, only half-ironically, a "rage at the white world [that] needed no object."

In Fugitive Days, "rage" rules. Ayers tells of how his "rage got started" and how it evolved into an "uncontrollable rage -- fierce frenzy of fire and lava." In fact, both Ayers and Obama speak of "rage" the way that Eskimos do of snow -- in so many varieties, so often, that they feel the need to qualify it, as Obama does when he speaks of "impressive rage," "suppressed rage" or "coil of rage."

This rage leads Ayers to a sentiment with which Obama was altogether familiar. Ayers writes, "I felt the warrior rising up inside of me -- audacity and courage, righteousness, of course, and more audacity." Ayers had likely pulled the concept of "audacity" from the same source Jeremiah Wright did, Martin Luther King. Something apparently got lost in translation.

Ayers may have outgrown his affection for violence by the time he and Obama hooked up, but his attraction to radical politics smoldered on. Like so many on the hard left, he supported those politics with whatever historical invention he could get away with. "If there is no God," said Jean Paul Sartre in his famous paraphrase of Dostoevsky's Ivan Karamazov, "everything is permitted." Ayers admits as much. "The old gods failed and the old truths left the world." Ayers observes. "Clear conclusions were mainly delusional, a luxury of religious fanatics and fools."

The respective memoirs of Ayers and Obama follow the kind of rules one would expect from someone indifferent to truth. Ayers describes his as "a memory book," one that deliberately blurs facts and changes identities and makes no claims at history. Obama says much the same. In Dreams, some characters are composites. Names have been changed. Events occur out of precise chronology.

Like Maraniss, Obama-friendly biographer David Remnick cuts Obama a lot of his slack for his many twists of the truth. What makes Dreams "exceptional," he observes, is "not that Obama allows himself these freedoms, but, rather, that he cops to them right away." Not that exceptional. Ayers copped to these freedoms right away too. He asks of his own memoir, "Is this then the truth?" He answers, "Not exactly. Although it feels entirely honest to me."

Maraniss's book promises to be the first of two volumes. For all of his good work to date, until he can bring himself to address the obvious question of authorship, he will be casting only the dimmest light on history's greatest presidential mystery.

Eric Holder's Politics of Contempt

The attorney general has it coming, but the answer isn't a special prosecutor.

By William McGurn
The Wall Street Journal
June 19, 2012

Finally, Eric Holder is on the ropes. House members are readying to vote him in contempt of Congress. Senators wonder aloud whether he can be trusted to investigate White House leaks that have exposed inside information about some of our most successful antiterror operations to some of our most dangerous enemies.
Alas, the old bulls of the Senate—including Republicans John McCain, Lindsey Graham and Chuck Grassley, along with Independent Democrat Joe Lieberman—are calling for the one thing that might derail the accountability train: a special prosecutor.

It all makes for the perfect tea party moment, an opportunity to make one of the most attractive arguments from the 2010 revolution: that process is as important as outcome, and that the Constitution gives us all the process we need to hold our leaders accountable.
The most immediate constitutional mechanism for accountability happens to be the one Mr. Holder is trying to put off—a vote by the House to hold him in contempt for refusing to turn over documents relating to "Fast and Furious." That was a stupid policy that had tragic results when a weapon smuggled into Mexico by U.S. authorities ended up being used to kill a U.S. Border Patrol agent.

Should the House hold him in contempt, Mr. Holder would be left with three choices: standing by as a U.S. attorney begins prosecuting him; directing the U.S. attorney not to prosecute him; or invoking executive privilege to justify not releasing the documents Congress seeks.

There are huge downsides to all three. Let's take them one by one.

A sitting attorney general under federal prosecution would be fatally weakened, with his continuing presence in the job a fat target for the president's political opponents. On the other hand, ordering a U.S. attorney not to prosecute him suggests a massive conflict-of-interest, not to mention conveying that he has something to hide. Ditto for "executive privilege." Not only does executive privilege have a tainted history, it couldn't be invoked without admitting that the White House is also implicated in Fast and Furious.
In no scenario are we likely to have the satisfaction of a definitive conclusion. Then again, the Framers of the Constitution didn't expect we would. Their view was to let the different parties and different branches of government go at it, and leave accountability for the voter to impose at the next elections.
The furor over Fast and Furious started out as a policy dispute, with Congress trying to find out who ordered what and why. Mr. Holder has helped escalate the issue into a contempt vote by his stonewalling response.
The fuss over national-security leaks is different. Unlike stupid policy decisions, leaking classified information is inherently criminal. That's why Mr. Holder has appointed two U.S. attorneys to investigate.
President Obama says his White House didn't leak. But books and news stories—about drones, the virus that attacked Iranian computers and more—cite as their sources the president's advisers and former advisers.

That's the reason why Mr. McCain and others are calling for a special prosecutor: How can attorneys who report to Mr. Holder oversee any credible investigation of their boss? Especially when, instead of saying he will fire anyone found to have leaked, President Obama publicly asserts that there have been no leaks?

Perhaps after a few years and gazillions of tax dollars, a special prosecutor would give his results. What purpose, however, is served by keeping those answers to a prosecutor instead of to the American people? The proper vehicle for getting answers is Congress, using its oversight powers to conduct hearings and get the appropriate officials on the record and under oath.

The best outcome would be for Mr. Holder to reach an accommodation with the House Oversight Committee's Darrell Issa (R., Calif.) that would avoid a contempt vote altogether. Unfortunately for the attorney general, he enters the conversation with a highly politicized record—here investigating CIA interrogators whose intel would later help his president hunt down bin Laden, there declining to defend the Defense of Marriage Act, there again declining to prosecute Black Panthers for voter intimidation.
Mr. Issa and House Speaker John Boehner have their own calculations to make. They must weigh whether holding the attorney general in contempt would backfire if Americans decided it was the latest Beltway attempt to criminalize policy differences. Forcing that political calculation is also as the Framers intended.
For tea partiers, this is a crisis that shouldn't go to waste. We're well reminded of the Obama people who today express doubts about a special prosecutor but sang a very different song when Bush administration folks were the target. We're even better reminded that the possibility that the nation's highest law enforcement officer might be held in criminal contempt by Congress means we need not look outside the Constitution for accountability.

Write to
A version of this article appeared June 19, 2012, on page A11 in the U.S. edition of The Wall Street Journal, with the headline: Eric Holder's Politics of Contempt.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

A Nation of Paper, Not of Men

By Andrew C. McCarthy
June 18, 2012

In continuing the dramatic shift from American constitutional democracy to rule by executive fiat that has marked his tenure, President Barack Obama now claims that the illegal aliens, to whom he purports to grant what effectively is amnesty, are “Americans … in every single way but one — on paper.” That is false. They are not Americans under the only thing that matters, the thing the Obama administration has chanted like a mantra — while riding roughshod over – since its very first day in power: the rule of law.

The Constitution and congressional statutes are written on parchment. That is the only relevance of “paper” in this equation — as the “hard copy” of our social contract and of the laws enacted pursuant to it. Under the Constitution, Congress, not the president, is endowed with such a power: “To establish an uniform Rule of Naturalization.” Congress exercises this power by passing laws. Under the Constitution, which Obama took an oath to preserve, protect, and defend, and under the laws it is his duty to execute faithfully, illegal aliens — no matter how sympathetic their plight, no matter how blameless they may be for the illegality of their status — are not citizens of the United States. They are not Americans. Period. It is not “paper” that separates them from our body politic, it is the law, of which Obama is supposed to be servant, not master — as I argued in this September 2011 essay for The New Criterion: “The Ruler of Law — On ‘Justice’ in the Age of Obama.”

Nevertheless, immigration is only the context of the president’s latest usurpation. It is a critically important issue, yes, but the real gravity of what Obama has done lies not in the subject matter of his edict but in the authoritarian assumptions of its issuance. They transcend mere arrogance: the president proposes to eviscerate our constitutional system. He claims nothing less than the dictatorial power to pronounce what the law is. This usurpation, moreover, complements the dictatorial powers he has already claimed to enforce only the laws of his choosing and to use the police powers of his office to deprive the sovereign states and the people of their constitutional prerogatives and rights.
To be sure, a president has not only the authority but the duty to refrain from enforcing congressional statutes that violate the Constitution. Presidents are no less duty-bound in this regard than the federal courts, which are obliged to hold that such enactments are null and void when the question arises in litigation. That, however, is not what Obama is doing.

As John Yoo observes, there is no conceivable argument that the federal immigration laws are constitutionally suspect. Obama simply rejects them as a matter of policy preference. That itself is a blatant violation of his constitutional oath.

Lest we forget, the president of the United States is the only federal official required by the Constitution to swear, as a condition precedent to assuming the vast powers of his office, that he will “faithfully execute the office of president of the United States, and … to the best of my ability, preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States.” Nor ought we forget that every nominee to the Supreme Court and the office of attorney general is grilled by the Senate regarding his or her willingness to abide by and enforce those laws and precedents with which he or she, on policy grounds, disagrees. It is a bedrock principle that once the people’s representatives enact a law to which there is no plausible constitutional objection, government officials must honor that law — regardless of their personal views about it — unless and until it is repealed or amended through the process prescribed by the Constitution.

Nor can prosecutorial discretion remotely justify Obama’s gambit. Resources are finite. Practicality demands — and the law acknowledges — that good-faith judgments must be made by the Justice Department and other Executive Branch agencies regarding which violations of law are a priority to address and which may go unaddressed. President Obama, however, is not saying the Executive Branch lacks the resources to enforce the immigration laws. He is proclaiming that he chooses not to enforce them.

Moreover, he is not simply refraining from law enforcement. He is affirmatively obstructing the states from enforcing their sovereign right to police their territories. He furthermore proposes to confer positive benefits on a class of illegal aliens in order to legitimize their status, something it is in the power only of Congress to do and something which Congress — having considered the matter carefully, and having heard the objections of the American people — has specifically declined to do.
This is another instance of Obama’s brazen lack of regard for the system he is duty-bound to honor: He claims he cannot sit back and wait for Congress to act; but as he well knows, lawmakers have acted: They said “no.”

Obama is not merely failing to enforce the immigration laws. He is destroying the system on which our liberty depends, a system he swore to safeguard. This oath was a solemn one, of far greater consequence than, say, a pitcher’s oath to testify truthfully to Congress about steroid use — an incident over which the federal government has spent millions of taxpayer dollars in an effort to convict Roger Clemens of a felony, notwithstanding the utter absence of any federal interest in the integrity of professional baseball.

We are entitled to conclude Obama defrauded the American people in taking his oath of office. He prefaced the oath by unabashedly declaring his intention to “fundamentally transform the United States of America.” He followed the oath with a series of usurpations designed to do just that. This highlights another mendacious aspect of Obama’s pandering to the hard Left on illegal immigration and, symmetrically, on election fraud (the policing against which he similarly obstructs).

The president says the young illegal aliens he has in mind are “Americans” except on paper. But who is Obama to say what an American is? By his own self-heralding, he is here to transform the United States. His mantra is “change.” He has stacked his Justice Department and the rest of the Executive Branch sprawl with progressive operatives whose obsession is to transmogrify America culturally, economically, and politically — to alter our very nature. When Obama talks about someone being “an American” or something being one of “our values,” he is not talking about the America that is; he is invoking the authoritarian, collectivist, redistributionist, post-sovereign, transnational America of his design.

It ought not matter whether we agree or disagree with Obama’s policy objectives on immigration — or the glut of areas from the use of force to labor relations to state sovereignty to socialized medicine to debt to diet, etc., on which he presumes to dictate rather than honor the law. Our social compact as a body politic demands that policy objectives be pursued within a system of divided powers in which the prerogatives of the president and of the federal government are strictly limited. Obama rejects this bedrock principle. Therefore, we must reject him.

If he is not removed from office — and if, while he retains office, politically accountable actors at the federal and state level continue their feckless failure to use their constitutional muscle to block him and rein him in — this will no longer be America. Not even on paper.

Roger Clemens not worthy of Baseball Hall of Fame induction despite not guilty verdict at perjury trial

Baseball writers will be next judge and jury Roger Clemens faces

By Bill Madden
The Daily News
June 19, 2012

Roger Clemens emerged from a federal courthouse in Washington late Monday afternoon acquitted of all counts of perjury, obstruction of justice and making false statements before Congress.

It was a throwback of 91 years, to a time when Shoeless Joe Jackson and seven of his Chicago White Sox teammates and co-defendants walked out of the Cook County courthouse in Chicago acquitted of conspiring to fix the 1919 World Series.

Acquitted all of them in the court of law for their crimes against baseball, but not so in the court of public opinion. Clemens himself conceded as much in his testimony at the 2008 congressional hearing when he said: “No matter what we discuss here, I’m never going to have my name restored.”

Nevertheless, Clemens spent millions of dollars in legal fees — refusing a plea deal — to do just that: to have his adamant denials of using performance-enhancing drugs validated by a jury of his peers.

He did so because he desperately wants to have his career and all that “hard work” that went into those 354 wins, third-most strikeouts (4,672) and record seven Cy Young Awards get validated by being voted into the Hall of Fame by the Baseball Writers Association.

The problem Clemens is going to have with that, however, is that the crimes for which he was acquitted Monday had nothing to do with whether he did or didn’t use steroids and, despite the court verdict, there is still considerable evidence he was a cheater.

I suspect a prime reason for the jurors – many of whom had to jar themselves to stay awake during the tedious nine-week trial — reaching their verdict so quickly was because they concluded this was a baseball issue and not a federal case.

And so they threw it out, like a used baseball, right into the laps of the baseball writers, who will be Clemens’ next judge and jury, beginning in January. That is when he will make his debut on the Hall of Fame ballot along with fellow alleged steroid cheats Barry Bonds and Sammy Sosa, and Mike Piazza, the former Met who, though never named in the Mitchell Report, has been tainted. The writers have made a clear statement about how they feel about steroids cheats with their dismissal of Mark McGwire with less than 20% of the vote (with 75% necessary for election) and Rafael Palmeiro with just 12.6% last year.

As one fellow voter said to me Monday: “It’s hard enough to get 75% if there is no taint on you.”

In that respect, Clemens’ choking up upon mentioning “all you media guys who know me and followed my career... I put a lot of hard work into that career” was telling. He wants us to believe those 162 wins and three additional Cy Youngs after the age of 35, after a 10-13 season with the Red Sox in 1996 when Boston GM Dan Duquette dissed him as “entering the twilight of his career,” were all the product of “hard work.” He wants to dismiss the claims of his personal trainer, Brian McNamee, that he repeatedly shot the righthander up with steroids, as the jury did, just as he wants us to “misremember” like he claimed his teammate, Andy Pettitte, did of a conversation in which Clemens allegedly told him about taking human growth hormone.

If nothing else, the jury’s action further muddies this whole steroids/Hall of Fame controversy. A guilty verdict would have made it a whole lot easier for the baseball writers and would have given some needed credence to the Mitchell Report. Its only value was its recommendation that baseball adopt a comprehensive drug-testing program. For that, you have to credit the commissioner, Bud Selig, who wasn’t interested in whether steroids cheats should or should not be in the Hall of Fame, but rather how to get steroids out of his game.
We’ll see, off this acquittal, if Clemens will be able to get past that clause on the Baseball Writers’ Association Hall of Fame ballot about sportsmanship and integrity.

I can’t speak for my brethren, but I take that clause seriously and will vote accordingly. It has been my stance that if you want me to vote for all of these guys — Bonds, Clemens, Sosa, the rest — sheerly because they have reached Hall of Fame numbers, then take the clause out of the ballot.

He can feel justifiably elated by Monday’s verdict, but at the same time, Clemens might want to take a gander back at history and the statement baseball commissioner Judge Kenesaw Mountain Landis issued the day after the eight “Black Sox” were acquitted: “Regardless of the verdict of juries, no player who throws a ballgame, no player that undertakes or promises to throw a ballgame, no player that sits in conference with a bunch of crooked players and gamblers and does not promptly tell his club about it, will ever play professional baseball.”

Even though Shoeless Joe Jackson, one of the greatest hitters of all time, was acquitted in court, he never played another game in the majors, and there is no plaque for him in the Hall of Fame.

Nor — unless circumstances and criteria are changed by the Hall of Fame — should there be one for Clemens.





Monday, June 18, 2012

Eugene Selznick, Beach Volleyball Pioneer, Dies at 82

The New York Times
June 16, 2012

Gene Selznick, a beach volleyball player who pioneered the sport in Southern California and twice coached U.S. teams in the Olympics, died last Sunday at Kindred Hospital in Los Angeles. He was 82. (Lawrence K. Ho, Los Angeles Times / June 11, 2012)

Eugene Selznick, a celebrated volleyball innovator who helped raise American players’ game to international caliber in the 1960s, and whose shrewdness in drafting Wilt Chamberlain for a 1970s exhibition of beach volleyball helped make Californians’ beach-party game an Olympic sport, died on June 11 in Los Angeles. He was 82.
The cause was pneumonia after a series of illnesses, according to USA Volleyball, the sport’s governing body.
Selznick, who never got to play on an Olympic volleyball team, was widely considered one of the two or three best American volleyball players.
He was captain of the United States men’s national volleyball team from 1953 to 1967, leading it to world championship titles in 1960 and 1966. He coached women’s volleyball teams that won numerous national titles, twice coached United States teams in the Olympics, and personally coached the Olympic beach volleyball players Misty May-Treanor and Holly McPeak.
Beach volleyball, with two players on a team, is to Los Angeles what stickball once was to Brooklyn, and Selznick’s devotion to it made him a well-known figure in Southern California, where the beach is a dominion with an aristocracy of its own. Selznick was known there as the First King of Beach Volleyball.
He is also credited with almost single-handedly reinventing the American game of indoor volleyball: he lobbied unrelentingly in the early ’60s until the United States Volleyball Association agreed to run American tournaments according to the same rules used in international competitions. The rules changes transformed the game (played with six members on a team) into a faster, more power-driven sport and helped American players begin winning consistently against foreign teams.
Doug Beal, the chief executive of USA Volleyball, which succeeded the Volleyball Association, said Selznick’s battle helped American volleyball but may have hurt Selznick.
“The association was slow to make the change, and Gene wasn’t very diplomatic about it,” he said in an interview.
When indoor volleyball became an official Olympic sport in 1964, at the Tokyo Games, Selznick was denied a spot on the United States team — a major disappointment in his life — and volleyball people connected the dots. “His conflicts with the organization may have had something to do with his not being selected,” Beal said. “Most people feel he should have been on it.”
As a player, Selznick was not overwhelmingly athletic. But he was known for uncanny reflexes, an ability to anticipate where the ball was going and a level of concentration that made his game nearly error-free. “He brought footwork and speed to the game no one had ever seen before,” said Arthur Couvillon, author of “Sands of Time” (2002), a history of beach volleyball.
Chamberlain, the 7-foot-1 N.B.A. star, was near the end of his basketball career in the early 1970s when he took up beach volleyball to help rehabilitate his battered body. Selznick proceeded to cajole Chamberlain into joining him and other top players for a nationwide exhibition tour in the summer of 1973, the year he retired from basketball.
The publicity generated by the Chamberlain tour, as it was known, brought a new generation to volleyball and laid the groundwork for a boom in popularity that began in the ’80s. Beach volleyball became an official Olympic sport in 1996. Selznick coached the men’s Olympic beach volleyball team of Sinjin Smith and Carl Henkel to a fifth-place finish in Atlanta in 1996, and the women’s Olympic team of May-Treanor and McPeak to fifth place in Sydney in 2000.
Eugene Selznick was born on March 19, 1930, in Los Angeles, and began playing volleyball seriously soon after graduating from high school. To earn a living, he managed parking lots and restaurants on the Sunset Strip.
His survivors include three sons, Dane, Bob and Jack.
On his 75th birthday, Selznick told an interviewer how he had become interested in volleyball, and beach volleyball in particular. “I liked all sports,” he said. “But volleyball was much nicer, because we played on the beach, and there were lots of girls in bathing suits. Those other sports didn’t have that.”