Yes, Congress can steal your liberty

Can the president use the military to arrest anyone he wants, keep that person away from a judge and jury, and lock him up for as long as he wants? In the Senate’s dark and terrifying vision of the Constitution, he can.

Congress is supposed to work in public. That requirement is in the Constitution. It is there because the folks who wrote the Constitution had suffered long and hard under the British Privy Council, a secret group that advised the king and ran his government.

We know from the now-defunct supercommittee, and other times when Congress has locked its doors, that government loves secrecy and hates transparency. Transparency forces the government to answer to us. Secrecy lets it steal our liberty and our property behind our backs.

Last week, while our minds were on family and turkey and football, the Senate Armed Services Committee decided to meet in secret. So, behind closed doors, it drafted an amendment to a bill appropriating money for the Pentagon.

The amendment would permit the president to use the military for law enforcement purposes in the United States. This, of course, would present a radical departure from any use to which the military has been put in the memory of any Americans now living.

The last time the federal government regularly used the military for domestic law enforcement was at the end of Reconstruction in the South, in 1876. In fact, the deal to end Reconstruction resulted in the enactment of federal laws forbidding the domestic use of American military for law enforcement purposes.

This has been our law, our custom and our set of values to which every president has adhered for 135 years.

It is not for directing traffic that this legislation would authorize the president to use the military. Essentially, this legislation would enable the president to divert from the criminal justice system, and thus to divert from the protections of the Constitution, any person he pleases.

And that person, under this terrifying bill, would have no recourse to a judge to require the president either to file charges against him or to set him free.

Can you imagine an America in which you could lose all liberty — from the presumption of innocence to the right to counsel to fairness from the government to a jury trial — simply because the president says you are dangerous?

Nothing terrified or animated the Founders more than that. The Founders, who wrote the Constitution, had just won a war against a king who had less power than this legislation will give to the president.

Read more here.

Who Needs Congress

President Barack Obama this week will announce a series of actions to help the economy that will not require congressional approval, including an initiative to make it easier for homeowners to refinance their mortgages, according to a White House official.

The actions come as Obama is facing resistance from Republicans to a $447 billion jobs package he has urged Congress to pass.

The first of the initiatives will be unveiled during Obama’s three-day trip to western states beginning Monday.

He will discuss the changes in mortgage rules at a stop in Nevada, which has one of the hardest-hit housing markets in the country.

The Obama administration has been working with the Federal Housing Finance Agency, the regulator for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, to find ways to make it easier for borrowers to switch to cheaper loans even if they have little to no equity in their homes.

The FHFA intends to loosen the terms of the two-year-old Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP), which helps borrowers who have been making mortgage payments on time but who have not been able to refinance as their home values have dropped.

Read more here.

Coming Soon: Investigations

The new Republican-majority House will vote on repealing or changing last year’s health care overhaul before the State of the Union address, Rep. Fred Upton, incoming chairman of the energy and commerce committee, said on “Fox News Sunday.”

Upton, a Michigan Republican, said that his party had 242 votes in favor of repeal, and that “there will be a significant number of Democrats who will join us.”

if the House does manage to repeal the health care bill, such a move would likely meet strong obstacles in the Democrat-controlled Senate and White House.

President Obama signed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act in March, after promoting Democratic-led health reform efforts for months after taking office. The law is widely considered to be the signature legislative accomplishment of the president’s first two years in office.

Among other things, the measure was designed to help millions of uninsured and under-insured Americans receive adequate and affordable health care through a series of government-imposed mandates and subsidies. Critics have equated it to socialized medicine, fearing that a bloated government bureaucracy will result in higher taxes and diminished health care services.

Congressional leaders return to Washington Wednesday to open the first session of the 112th Congress.

Read more here.

Democrats Stand Against Border Fence And Security

One of the few responsibilities of our federal government is the security of this nation. For decades they have not done their job securing our borders. Now that We The People are calling for action and Arizona has passed a strong illegal immigration bill, the Republicans have started pushing forward with legislation to strengthen the borders.  While Obama is sending up to 1,200 National Guard troops to border, Sen. John McCain has referred to that move as inadequate and introduced a bill calling for 6,000 troops to be sent.

McCain got about twelve Democrats to join him, but it was not enough for the 60 vote supermajority needed and so the measure was killed.  As was a measure requesting more than $2 billion in additional border security spending that was introduced by Republicans John Cornyn of Texas and Jon Kyl of Arizona.  So the Democrats stood against more border security today.  But they were not finished with just these two pieces of legislation.

Jim DeMint proposed an amendment to finish the 700 miles of border fence in one year.  A press release from Senator Jim DeMint on the amendment said:

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Senator Jim DeMint (R-SC) today announced that he will introduce an amendment to the financial regulation bill to require the completion of 700 miles of double-layer physical fencing along the U.S.-Mexico border within one year. Senator DeMint’s amendment follows through on the four-year-old promise made by Congress to secure the border under the Secure Fence Act of 2006. According to staff at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), just a fraction of double-layer fencing has been completed to date, with only 34.3 miles of double layer fencing in total (11.8 in California, 9.1 in Arizona, and 13.4 in Texas).

Senator DeMint’s amendment was already approved last year by the Senate in a bipartisan 54-44 vote, with 21 Democrats joining 33 Republicans in support of the measure. However, Democrat leaders gutted the amendment behind closed doors after “the Obama administration had opposed rapid expansion of the fence.”

“We’ve now had two administrations fail to keep their promise to the American people to secure our border and Americans are tired of excuses,” said Senator DeMint. “Americans have demanded a real fence to combat the very real problems of illegal immigration that have led to human trafficking, drug trafficking, kidnapping and violence on our border. Congress will never be able to achieve long-term reform to create a legal immigration system that works until we secure our borders.

“We’ve had rhetoric and promises for four years without results. It’s time we completed the fence and secured our borders to protect American citizens.”

Jim DeMint just tweeted at around 8pm ET this evening that the measure had been defeated by the Democrats in a vote of 45 to 52.  We cannot even get these incompetent imbeciles in Congress to at least build a fence.  A fence they promised us and are required by law to build.  A fence that has worked wonderfully for San Diego.  The Democrats are not interested in border security obviously.