Archive for July 14th, 2009

The Vine and the Branches

Tuesday, July 14th, 2009

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. 4emain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.

Jesus Pruning

“I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.

“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit—fruit that will last. Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name.

John 15:1-16 (New International Version)

“The Economy Is Even Worse Than You Think” By Mortimer Zuckerman

Tuesday, July 14th, 2009

The recent unemployment numbers have undermined confidence that we might be nearing the bottom of the recession. What we can see on the surface is disconcerting enough, but the inside numbers are just as bad.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics preliminary estimate for job losses for June is 467,000, which means 7.2 million people have lost their jobs since the start of the recession. The cumulative job losses over the last six months have been greater than for any other half year period since World War II, including the military demobilization after the war. The job losses are also now equal to the net job gains over the previous nine years, making this the only recession since the Great Depression to wipe out all job growth from the previous expansion.

Here are 10 reasons we are in even more trouble than the 9.5% unemployment rate indicates:

– June’s total assumed 185,000 people at work who probably were not. The government could not identify them; it made an assumption about trends. But many of the mythical jobs are in industries that have absolutely no job creation, e.g., finance. When the official numbers are adjusted over the next several months, June will look worse.

– More companies are asking employees to take unpaid leave. These people don’t count on the unemployment roll.

– No fewer than 1.4 million people wanted or were available for work in the last 12 months but were not counted. Why? Because they hadn’t searched for work in the four weeks preceding the survey.

– The number of workers taking part-time jobs due to the slack economy, a kind of stealth underemployment, has doubled in this recession to about nine million, or 5.8% of the work force. Add those whose hours have been cut to those who cannot find a full-time job and the total unemployed rises to 16.5%, putting the number of involuntarily idle in the range of 25 million.

– The average work week for rank-and-file employees in the private sector, roughly 80% of the work force, slipped to 33 hours. That’s 48 minutes a week less than before the recession began, the lowest level since the government began tracking such data 45 years ago. Full-time workers are being downgraded to part time as businesses slash labor costs to remain above water, and factories are operating at only 65% of capacity. If Americans were still clocking those extra 48 minutes a week now, the same aggregate amount of work would get done with 3.3 million fewer employees, which means that if it were not for the shorter work week the jobless rate would be 11.7%, not 9.5% (which far exceeds the 8% rate projected by the Obama administration).

– The average length of official unemployment increased to 24.5 weeks, the longest since government began tracking this data in 1948. The number of long-term unemployed (i.e., for 27 weeks or more) has now jumped to 4.4 million, an all-time high.

– The average worker saw no wage gains in June, with average compensation running flat at $18.53 an hour.

– The goods producing sector is losing the most jobs — 223,000 in the last report alone.

– The prospects for job creation are equally distressing. The likelihood is that when economic activity picks up, employers will first choose to increase hours for existing workers and bring part-time workers back to full time. Many unemployed workers looking for jobs once the recovery begins will discover that jobs as good as the ones they lost are almost impossible to find because many layoffs have been permanent. Instead of shrinking operations, companies have shut down whole business units or made sweeping structural changes in the way they conduct business. General Motors and Chrysler, closed hundreds of dealerships and reduced brands. Citigroup and Bank of America cut tens of thousands of positions and exited many parts of the world of finance.

Job losses may last well into 2010 to hit an unemployment peak close to 11%. That unemployment rate may be sustained for an extended period.

Read the complete article here.

CIA Plan Envisioned Hit Teams Killing Al Qaeda Leaders

Tuesday, July 14th, 2009

Hummm…I wonder how many other secret plans designed to save American lives from terrorist can be exposed and destroyed under this administration? Who’s side are Oboe and his team on anyway? Are they the least bit interested in protecting us at all?

WASHINGTON — A secret Central Intelligence Agency initiative axed by Director Leon Panetta examined how to assassinate members of Al Qaeda with hit teams on the ground, according to current and former national-security officials familiar with the matter.

The goal was to assemble teams of CIA and special-operations forces “and put bullets in [the Al Qaeda leaders’] heads,” one former intelligence official said.

The plan was never carried out, and Panetta canceled the effort on the day he learned of it, June 23. The next day, he alerted Congress, which didn’t know about the plan.

“The agency hasn’t discussed publicly the nature of the effort, which remains classified,” said agency spokesman Paul Gimigliano. The Wall Street Journal reported Monday the effort stemmed from a presidential order dated September 2001 that directed the CIA to find ways to kill or capture Al Qaeda leaders.

The revelation has intensified a growing battle between the executive branch and Congress over the conduct of the CIA and U.S. intelligence operations.

Democrats in Congress are calling for an investigation into whether or not it was properly briefed on the matter. Meanwhile, Sen. Kit Bond, the top Republican on the Senate intelligence panel, said the thrust of the plan should be resurrected. “The general concept in the plan is one that should be explored somewhere. Whether it’s a modification of this plan or some related plan,” he said in an interview.

Original Link.

Google Blocks Blog Exposing Homosexual Agenda

Tuesday, July 14th, 2009

Well, they didn’t actually block it. They put a content warning on it, but it can still be viewed. Are they being duplicitous when they don’t use this warning for many sites showing sexually oriented material? Probably.
We made our start on Blogger. But the main reason we bought our own domain and moved was because I didn’t like the idea of someone being one click away from pornography. Some might argue I overreacted, but I believe the distinction was important.

Google’s blog hosting service, Blogger.com, admits that in the name of “free speech” some of its blogs are “offensive, harmful, inaccurate,” but when one of its clients blogged in opposition to a transgender rights bill, Google drew the line.

A day before the Massachusetts Legislature plans to review a controversial gender identity bill, Blogger.com blocked the blog of MassResistance, an organization that exposes the increasingly open agenda of the homosexual movement in Massachusetts, with a warning that some of the content may be “objectionable,” requiring readers to confirm their intent to visit.

“Some readers of this blog have contacted Google because they believe this blog’s content is objectionable,” the warning reads. “In general, Google does not review nor do we endorse the content of this or any blog. For more information about our content policies, please visit the Blogger Terms of Service.”

MassResistance blogger Amy Contrada, however, writes that the only potentially “objectionable” items on the blog are photos taken
in public settings and her group’s politically incorrect viewpoints.

“We publish only facts, ‘uncomfortable truths,’ not rumors or personal attacks,” Contrada writes on her blog. “And obviously, our photos reveal the ugly truth. Then, we identify those public figures who are twisting the law to enable public perversion and subversion of our youth and culture.”

“We’ve had that blog on there since 2005,” said Brian Camenker, president of MassResistance, “and only when we started posting on the new transgender bill before the Legislature did this happen.

“If you look at Google’s policy on hate speech, they do state you can’t include hate against people for their sexual orientation or gender identity,” Camenker told WND. “But the things we write are all factual; we don’t advocate beating anyone up. On the other hand, there are an enormous number of blogs against religious people that are clearly vile and hateful, particularly during the Proposition 8 battle in California. Some of that content was hideous, and it’s still up.

“Nothing on our site could be construed as ‘hate,'” Camenker said.

Specifically, Google’s terms of service state, “Google does not monitor the content of Blogger.com and Blogspot.com, and takes no responsibility for such content. … By their very nature, Blogger.com and Blogspot.com may carry offensive, harmful, inaccurate or otherwise inappropriate material.”

The website’s content policy further states, “It is our belief that censoring this content is contrary to a service that bases itself on freedom of expression.”

MassResistance, however, told WND that Google’s actions speak louder than the words in its policies.

“Google seems to have a double standard,” Camenker said. “It hosts a large number of gay activist sites that are vile and vicious, particularly against religious people, yet they put up an ‘objectionable content’ warning on our blog. How do they define what’s offensive?”

Contrada told WND that as more and more states – and even the federal government – look to pass “hate speech” bills and laws protecting the undefined labels of “sexual orientation” and “gender identity,” Americans will be shocked, both by what they see displayed on the public streets and by what they can’t say in the public square.

“I’ve been anticipating this for quite a while now,” Contrada said. “Obviously Google is a private enterprise at this point, but their actions represent a trial balloon for government censorship of undefined ‘hate’ speech. And just like the gender identity bills, nowhere is it clearly defined what the terms mean. What will be classified as ‘hate?’

“MassResistance’s blog has pointed out this can of worms, and I think that’s one of the reasons it draws ‘objections’ from transgender activists,” Contrada said. “This act of censorship is just a harbinger of what may come.”

Camenker also said that as Google becomes more technologically entrenched in every aspect of communications, he fears how content will be monitored in the future.

“It’s Orwellian,” Camenker told WND. “With Google controlling operating systems, blogs, Web searches, Internet access and software, it can get pretty bad. It could happen to anyone with a company as powerful as Google.”

WND contacted Google for comment on its content advisory and permission confirmation on the MassResistance blog, but a representative merely pointed to the site’s page on “flagging” a blog:

“The Flag button isn’t censorship and it can’t be manipulated by angry mobs,” the Google page reads. “Political dissent? Incendiary opinions? Just plain crazy? Bring it on.

“When someone visiting a blog clicks the Flag button in the Blogger Navbar, it means that person believes the content of the blog may be potentially offensive or illegal,” the Google help page continues. “We track the number of times a blog has been flagged as objectionable and use this information to determine what action is needed. This feature allows the blogging community as a whole to identify content deemed objectionable.”

Original Link.

“The Law and the Wise Latina” by Jeff Schreiber

Tuesday, July 14th, 2009

Voting against the confirmation of Sonia Sotomayor will take a wealth of political courage. Giving Sotomayor a rough time with regard to the plethora of reasons why she should not sit on the United States Supreme Court will take even more.

It would be relatively easy for a senator to explain to his or her constituents that he or she look forward to a day when they could vote in favor of confirming a nominee who is both Hispanic and qualified. Explaining why they relentlessly pointed out overt, repeated acts of racism and judicial activism on her part—not to mention the several occasions where her decisions, rooted in a stark dearth of intelligence, were overturned by the Supreme Court—would be slightly more difficult.

This morning, I heard South Carolina Sen. Lindsay Graham say, in his opening statement, that he was greatly troubled by the overtly racist statements made on several occasions by Sotomayor – but I also heard him say that elections have consequences, and that he would likely vote to confirm her absent some sort of “meltdown.”

If that truly is the case, I never, ever, ever want to hear Senator Graham ever advocate adherence to the United States Constitution again. If he is willing to overlook a woman who is equally willing—if not more so—to shred the Constitution in the name of social justice, Graham has lost the ability to evoke our founders, their values, or the documents in which they were enshrined for the remainder of his political career – which, if he intends to turn his back on the Constitution because “elections have consequences,” I hope will be extremely short.

And that goes for any Republican.

The Democrats have never, ever shown any sort of respect or restraint when questioning conservative nominees, regardless of their ethnicity or of the “quality” of their life story. Never. Instead, they have carried on as they usually do – with the politics of personal destruction.

Now, we see that tactic in place again, this time not against one of their own—Sotomayor—but against those who wish to point out that she cares more about the color of a party’s skin than of the rule of law. This time, we’re seeing supporters of Sonia Sotomayor looking to ruin New Haven, Connecticut firefighter Frank Ricci in the same way they looked to ruin Joe Wurzelbacher, that plumber who dared to point out presidential candidate Barack Obama’s aspirations of destroying small business and the American economy. In the case of Ricci, however, the very same people who claim to “stand up for the little guy” and “work tirelessly on behalf of the disabled” are instead looking for any way possible to disparage a man who just wanted to be treated the same regardless of his debilitating dyslexia.

Lindsay Graham was correct in saying that elections have consequences. As we see by rising unemployment, a disenfranchised intelligence community and emboldening terrorists worldwide, they most certainly do. In this case, however, Sonia Sotomayor is looking to shape America for generations to come. For life. Unfortunately for our nation, for the rule of law, and for the fading memory of our founding fathers, she will likely be confirmed – in the meantime, however, it should be the mission of each and every Republican to ensure that every American knows the difference between original thinking and judicial activism, and knows exactly the kind of damage that Barack Obama and the Democrats are bringing down upon our country.

I will work tirelessly to campaign against any Republican who votes in favor of Sotomayor’s confirmation, and for any Democrat who votes against it. And it is my only hope that politicians on both sides of the aisle will drop the gloves and treat Sonia Sotomayor with the exact same deference and respect—read: disdain—with which Justice Clarence Thomas, Justice Samuel Alito, Chief Justice John Roberts, and others like Miguel Estrada have been treated.

Here are my questions for the Hon. Sonia Sotomayor:

1. Is a Hispanic female party more or less likely to bring a bona fide grievance before the Court than a white male party?
2. If you were in my shoes, and Chief Justice John Roberts were to have said, on several occasions, that he has been able to come to a better decision because of his life experiences and his being a white male judge than, say, a Hispanic or black or Native American female judge could, how fit would you consider him to be objectively adjudicating matters where the legal and constitutional issue, rather than the parties, are of the utmost importance?
3. Most of your decisions which have reached the Court at which you aspire to sit have been overturned or otherwise scrutinized for your failure to properly interpret the law. With no court to review the Supreme Court, should the American people be confident you’ll get it right?
4. Article I, Section 8 of the United States Constitution lays out the 17 enumerated powers vested in Congress. Are there any limits to the power of Congress pursuant to that clause? What is your opinion as to the role of the “Necessary and Proper Clause?”
5. When it comes to interpreting the Constitution, what role if any should foreign and international jurisprudence play?
6. When it comes to interpreting the Constitution, what is the role of the original intent of our founders?
7. Which carries more weight, in terms of being more persuasive or even binding, the contemporaneous writings of our nation’s founders at the time the Constitution was adopted, or the various facets of international and foreign law?
8. What extrinsic factors and considerations, outside the law, should have an effect on your decisions, and to what extent?
9. Absent a “case” or “controversy,” what is the power of a federal court to interpret the law?
10. In terms of statutory interpretation, what role does the actual text of the statutes play?
11. In your various speeches, you’ve spoken of the rapidly changing social policy here in the United States. Is it the role of a judge to update and adapt the law in order to reflect and account for those societal changes?
12. Should the Constitution be interpreted so as to allow capital punishment?
13. For more than a decade, you counseled the Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund on many issues of law and policy. You served on the group’s board, you served as an executive. That group, while an admirable one, touted capital punishment as a manifestation of racism – what role did you have in assisting the PRLDEF in taking such a position on capital punishment?
14. Do you personally believe that capital punishment is a manifestation of continuing racial underpinnings in our society?
15. What relationship, if any, did the PRLDEF have with ACORN, the community organization group under investigation in more than a dozen states for voter fraud and intimidation?
16. Why does Lady Justice wear a blindfold? Is the Constitution color-blind?
17. Do you believe that the City of New Haven, Connecticut should have been permitted to do away with all of the firefighter examinations because of race alone?
18. With regard to the claims of Frank Ricci and the other firefighters, did constitutional concerns take a back seat to the nature of the case and ethnicity of those involved? What of the dissent by your Court of Appeals colleague and mentor?
19. How did your life experiences and insight as a wise Latina judge affect your disposition on the Ricci matter?
20. What role does empathy have in adjudicated cases and controversies before the Court?
21. How can a judge fairly and objectively adjudicate a certain matter and apply the law if he or she is of the opinion that different standards and differing versions of the truth apply to different people based upon race, national origin, or financial status?
22. What role does the First Amendment play in campaign finance?
23. Are there any provisions in the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act worthy of consideration as possibly unconstitutional?
24. The Supreme Court, in District of Columbia v. Heller, noted that “[u]nder any standards of scrutiny that we have applied to enumerated constitutional rights, banning from the home ‘the most preferred firearm in the nation to ‘keep’ and use for protection of one’s home and family’ . . . would fail constitutional muster.” Given the Court’s decision in Heller, how do you reconcile your decision in Maloney v. Cuomo—nearly two years later—that a state or city not under federal purview could ban the possession of weapons for self-defense?
25. Should the Second Amendment be incorporated against the states?
26. What did you mean when you held, in United States v. Sanchez-Villar, that the Second Amendment does not protect a fundamental right?
27. At what point, under our Constitution, does an unborn child have constitutional rights, equal protection of the laws?
28. Do you consider Roe v. Wade to be good law? Is it the role of the federal government to weigh in on abortion in America?
29. Speaking of possible government overreach, what role should a judge have in defining the nature of a marriage or family?
30. Again, speaking of the role of the federal government and judges, does the Takings Clause provide for any restriction in the power of government to take private property?
31. In Kelo v. City of New London, the Court supported eminent domain by arguing that the plan by the city to take public property—in that case, houses—and give them to a private entity for the development of a shopping mall fell under the Fifth Amendment’s “public use” requirement. In her dissent, Justice Sandra Day O’Connor warned of the slippery slope. What is your perspective on “public use” and eminent domain?
32. In the name of “social justice,” can the federal government rewrite contracts such as residential mortgages and leases?
33. What role does the government have, if any, in the regulation of activity that does not cross state lines? What is your feeling as to the nature of “commerce?”
34. What is the role of the Court with regard to national security? What measure of deference, if any, should the court have to the judgment of Congress and the White House?
35. How should the Court reconcile the duty of the federal government to protect America and Americans against terrorism from sources overseas and stateside?
36. What rights should captured foreign terrorists enjoy under the United States Constitution?
37. Where in the Constitution is the right to privacy?
38. In the history of the Court, which Justices do you most admire? With which do you find yourself most continually at odds?
39. What has been the Court’s biggest triumph? Greatest mistake?
40. Why do you want to serve on the United States Supreme Court?

Original Link.