Three Cuban Spies, Four Dead Americans + More – Daily Digest

Posted on Fri 12/19/2014 by

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THE FOUNDATION

“There can be no greater error than to expect, or calculate upon real favors from nation to nation. ‘Tis an illusion which experience must cure, which a just pride ought to discard.” –George Washington, Farewell Address, 1796

TOP 5 RIGHT HOOKS

Three Cuban Spies, Four Dead Americans

Barack Obama’s deal with Cuba may be worse than we thought. National Review’s Brendan Bordelon writes, “The three Cuban spies traded to the Castro regime in exchange for American contractor Alan Gross and a U.S. spy went far beyond the usual political or economic espionage carried out by foreign agents. In fact, the Communist agents were engaged in detailed reconnaissance against U.S. military bases in south Florida, and fed information to the Cuban government that resulted in the murder of four American citizens.” Of course, we know from experience that an incident involving Obama and four dead Americans is likely to be laughed off as a “phony scandal.” In the Cuba case, there is a legitimate argument to be made for changing policy toward the Caribbean nation, but Obama got virtually nothing in exchange for doing so while insulting the families of those dead Americans in the process. Just another day in the Oval Office.

Break Out the Cuban Cigars for Castro’s Visit

On the heels of Barack Obama’s Cuban Bay of Pigs fiasco, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest added some astounding news: The administration’s decision to normalize relations with Cuba may include a White House visit by Raul Castro. “The analogy that we’ve tried to draw – or at least identify – is that there are important national security reasons for the president to travel to other countries that have what we would describe, at best, as having checkered human rights records,” Earnest said, noting trips to China and Burma. “Having an open relationship, in which the president engages with the leaders of other countries, can actually serve as a useful way to shine a spotlight on the shortcomings of other countries’ records as it relates to human rights,” he added, concluding, “So I guess the point is, that the president has had the leaders of both Burma and China to the United States. And for that reason, I wouldn’t rule out a visit from President Castro.” How far will this president go to legitimize thug dictators at the expense of our nation’s credibility and moral standing?

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Holder and Obama Continue to Target Racist Cops

Outgoing Attorney General Eric Holder told listeners of MSNBC that people of color should fear the cops, and cops should fear the neighborhoods where they police. Talk about stirring up racial tension. Holder said, “We’re not at a stage where I can honestly say, you know, truthfully say that if you’re a person of color, you should not be concerned about any interaction that you have with the police in the same way I can’t say to a police officer, you shouldn’t worry about what community you are being asked to operate in. Building trust that does not now exist, but has to exist. … We as a nation have failed. It’s as simple as that. We have failed.” Let this sink in: The leader of this nation’s justice system has just criticized every law enforcement officer down to the rookie cop. Meanwhile, Barack Obama doesn’t even pretend to go to Congress and signs an executive order creating a commission to find faults with America’s racist police forces. Nothing trumps the race-bait narrative.

IRS Commissioner Warns of Tax Refund Delay This Year

It certainly seems that IRS Commissioner John Koskinen threated to delay America’s tax refunds because the bureaucracy got its budget cut again. “Everybody’s return will get processed,” he said. “But people have gotten very used to being able to file their return and quickly get a refund. This year we may not have the resources.” In other words, the commissioner just channeled a mob boss: “Nice refund you got there. Shame if anything happened to it.” This year, the IRS will receive $10.9 billion. In 2010, the IRS received $12.15 billion. Koskinen continued, “There isn’t any more give in the system. You make any further cuts in this organization and the wheels are going to start falling off.” Funny how the first thing to be cut because of tight money in a government bureaucracy is customer service. More…

Chaplain Accused of Sharing Faith Defends Himself

The Army chaplain who received a Letter of Concern from the commander of the Airborne and Ranger Training Brigade at Ft. Benning, Georgia, after he spoke about his faith in a suicide prevention class has told his side of the story. “When I spoke about … my Christian faith, it was clear that I was speaking from first-person account,” Capt. Joe Lawhorn told The Daily Signal, “and I shared with my audience some of the struggles I had with depression and how I overcame it. In my particular situation, it was my faith that helped me to persevere and remain resilient in the face of depression. And I was very clear to my audience that that was one way to handle depression and thoughts of suicide, but it certainly was not the only way.” He also shared some materials that had Old Testament passages printed on them, but Lawhorn said he made it clear those handouts were optional for the troops in attendance. If our military chaplains can’t talk about the basics of faith or how faith affected them personally – especially in a suicide prevention class – then what on earth (or in heaven) can they talk about? More…

For more, visit Right Hooks.

RIGHT ANALYSIS

North Korea Censors Hollywood

Hollywood faced major embarrassment when hackers uncovered and released unflattering emails between Sony Pictures executives, producers and other big shots. The emails included racially tinged jokes about Barack Obama’s taste in movies – but that was just the tip of the iceberg. The hacking led to the release of the screening version of five current films as well as the script to the upcoming James Bond movie – all among more than 38 million unauthorized files snatched from Sony’s servers.

Eventually, an entire movie release was canceled by Hollywood’s intrepid defenders of our First Amendment.

This intrusion marks a new chapter in the relationship between the United States and North Korea. Federal officials blamed hackers from the NoKo-allied “Guardians of the Peace,” a group that vowed “the world will be full of fear” of 9/11-style attacks if a Sony movie called “The Interview” was released as scheduled on Christmas Day. “The Interview” is a comedy starring Seth Rogen and James Franco, and it tells the story of a fictional CIA plan to assassinate North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Un after two journalists, played by Rogen and Franco, secure an interview with him.

But never fear; the White House is working on a “proportional” response, while Barack Obama boldly declared, “My recommendation would be that people go to the movies.”

Well, they can’t see “The Interview.” In response to the hackers’ threats, the Carmike Cinemas theater chain opted not to show the film, at which point four other major chains followed suit. With no major chains willing to risk showing the film, Sony abandoned plans to distribute it at all, meaning a $44 million investment will be scrapped.

This despite the fact that at least two State Department officials screened a rough cut of the movie in June and approved it. That Sony sought government approval is as troubling as the result of the hacking.

And the damage isn’t done, as another studio likewise dropped plans for a North Korea-based “paranoid thriller.” Then, as if to add further insult, Paramount Pictures yanked the movie some theaters wanted to show in place of “The Interview” – a 2004 satirical comedy starring marionettes and dubbed “Team America: World Police.” That movie depicted Kim Jong-Un’s father, the late North Korean despot Kim Jong-Il, as the comedic villain in a terrorist plot.

So how did we come to be so afraid of a group of hackers – or should we say the pudgy young third-world dictator who directed them – that we bow to their wishes and scrap a $44 million movie? It’s likely Sony can only guess at the amount of economic damage caused by the data breach, but the bigger problem is whether other rogue nations and groups will be emboldened whenever media or broadcast portrays them in a bad light. Clearly, the blueprint for blackmail now exists.

As National Review’s Charles C.W. Cooke writes, “How grotesque it is … to see businesses in the United States act so cravenly to what appears to be little more than a glorified letter of complaint. Is this now to be how America works? If so – if the friends of a campy two-bit dictatorship can force us to put our tails between our legs and ask not to be thrown into the briar patch – then one can only wonder how we might expect to stand up to our more competent foes.”

Heck, even The New York Times editorialized that “this decision will establish a dangerous precedent that could further embolden rogue regimes and criminals.” When the Times is even slightly hawkish, you know something’s up.

For decades, Hollywood made films and television shows about America’s toughness. In the days of John Wayne, Clint Eastwood, Sylvester Stallone and Chuck Norris the message was “Don’t mess with America.” That era of Hollywood ended some time ago, however, and in the politically correct morass that we’ve come to know as modern Tinseltown it was only a matter of time before someone blinked. We’re not defending the content of Sony’s movie one way or the other, but we do think Liberty is worth defending.

Memo to Obama: Your Power Has Limits

The scope of Barack Obama’s abuse of power is even worse than previously thought. According to Gregory Korte of USA Today, Obama’s clever use of executive “memoranda” together with traditional executive orders puts him in the running to take more high-level executive actions than any president since Harry Truman. So much for his claim to be the “most transparent” president ever.

We’re all painfully aware of the executive actions Obama has taken while in office and the contempt he holds for Rule of Law. Earlier this year, when it became clear that Congress was not going to bend to his imperial will, he vowed, “We are not just going to be waiting for legislation in order to make sure that we’re providing Americans the kind of help they need. I’ve got a pen … and I can use that pen to sign executive orders and take executive actions and administrative actions that move the ball forward.” These words and the actions Obama has since taken to back them up have created a constitutional crisis.

Naturally, statists say we shouldn’t worry. In a typical child’s playground tactic, leftists get caught doing something they’re not supposed to and then point the finger at someone else, saying, “But look what he did.”

Press Secretary Josh Earnest blamed Congress, arguing that Obama’s actions are only meant to “move this country forward” in the face of “congressional inaction.”

And in February, then-Press Secretary Jay Carney told reporters with a straight face, “There is no question that this president has been judicious in his use of executive action [and] executive orders, and I think those numbers thus far have come in below what President George W. Bush and President Bill Clinton did.”

Shadee Ashtari, writing for the Huffington Post in November, bent over backward to point out that Obama has released fewer executive orders than any president since McKinley. She also notes, with glee no doubt, that Obama’s per-year average of executive orders falls below the last three Republican presidents.

That’s just executive orders, though. As Korte’s analysis inadvertently points out, no one seems to be counting executive memoranda. Obama has already signed 33% more presidential memos than Bush did in a full eight years in office and 45% more than Clinton. Add the memos to the executive orders and Obama now becomes the president to issue more executive actions than any president since Truman.

But it’s not the number that’s the problem. It’s the scope. One executive order clarifying a law does not equal a memo essentially writing a new law.

So why issue one instead of the other? Executive orders carry legal weight, and are numbered, indexed and noted in the Federal Register. Memoranda carry essentially the same legal force, but they are not numbered, and although they must also be published in the Register they are not required to contain a “citation of authority” noting the law they are based on like executive orders. Until recently, memos were not really tracked except in the historical record.

There’s also a difference of impression. An executive order sounds like what it is – an edict from the White House to make or change a rule without consultation with Congress. A memo sounds like a harmless note someone would draft to call attention to an issue.

Would any sane American consider Obama’s recent unilateral action on immigration harmless? Contrary to popular misconception, that was accomplished via a series of presidential memoranda, not an executive order.

Obama also issued memoranda after the Newtown shootings ordering federal law enforcement to trace firearms that are part of federal investigations and expand the data available to federal background checks. Other memos have tinkered with labor regulations for federal employees. As recently as this week, a presidential memorandum declared Bristol Bay, Alaska, off-limits to oil and gas exploration.

The difference between orders and memoranda is much more than just a semantic one, but Obama has counted on our inability to connect the two to obscure the fact that he has stretched the power of his office far beyond constitutional bounds.

We the People should be very alarmed. Obama has found an unconstitutional route around his lame-duck incumbency, and his hubris and utter contempt for our constitutional system of checks and balances will assure that he doesn’t lose sleep at night while he does it. Worse, now that he’s no longer accountable to the electorate in any way for the next two year, the harm he has already caused may be small by comparison. If he wants to do something, he’s just going to do it and dare Congress to stop him.

For more, visit Right Analysis.

TOP 5 RIGHT OPINION COLUMNS

For more, visit Right Opinion.

OPINION IN BRIEF

Author Maxwell Anderson (1888-1959): “When a government takes over a people’s economic life it becomes absolute, and when it has become absolute it destroys the arts, the minds, the liberties and the meaning of the people it governs.”

Columnist Mona Charen: “Has there ever been a president more eager to make concessions to vicious regimes than Barack Obama? The opening of diplomatic relations with Cuba is the latest and, one fears, not the last in a string of preemptive concessions. Obama, with his blend of hard-left prejudices and vaulting solipsism, has sought throughout his presidency to atone for what he and his party view as America’s past sins. … It’s a good thing that Alan Gross and 53 political prisoners have been freed. But the way it was done makes it look to the world that holding a gun to America’s head (in the form of taking hostages, which the Taliban has also learned) works wonders. In exchange for diplomatic recognition and valuable economic concessions, the U.S. (and the Cuban people) got nothing. No promise of free elections, no guarantee of international inspections of the prisons, no freedom of the press – nothing. Why? Because in his heart Obama believes that his nation has always been on the wrong side, and he will use his power in the remaining two years to punish us. A deal with Iran is next.”

Columnist Charles Krauthammer: “Sydney’s Man Haron Monis … was a marginal, alienated Iranian immigrant with a cauldron of psychopathologies. Described by his own former lawyer as ‘unhinged,’ Monis was increasingly paranoid. … His religiosity was both fanatical and confused. A Shiite recently converted to Sunni Islam, his Internet postings showed not just the zeal of the convert but a remarkable ignorance of Islam and Islamism. He even brought the wrong Islamic banner to the attack. He had to ask the authorities to provide him with an Islamic State flag. Which led to a frantic search to find an Islamic State connection or conspiracy. But for the disturbed like Monis, the terror group does not provide instructions, it provides a script. It offers the disoriented and deranged a context, a purpose, a chance even at heroism. I suspect this is the case with most of the recent cluster of lone-wolf terrorist incidents, from the beheading of a fellow worker in Oklahoma to the Queens ax attack on New York City police. … The great new specter is the homegrown terrorist. But he is less homegrown than we imagine. He is fed from abroad. Which is where, as ever since 9/11, the battle must be fought.”

Jonah Goldberg: “Obama did eventually say the public should ‘go to the movies,’ but that’s about it. This at least is progress for an administration whose first response to a terrorist attack in Benghazi, Libya, was to blame an American-made video and, with much fanfare, throw its creator in jail. … America is effectively giving one of the most evil regimes in human history a veto on our First Amendment. Where’s Captain America when you need him?”

Semper Vigilo, Fortis, Paratus et Fidelis!

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