The Council on Foreign Relations recently asked the above question of some of its favorite commentators. One of the answers sent to this seat of the Eastern Liberal Establishment likely surprised whoever received it. Andrew Bacevich is a professor of International Relations at Boston University. He happens to be a fairly new member of the CFR. But he is also the father of an Iraq War victim; his U.S. Army lieutenant son perished during the fighting. In his uninvited response to the query posed by the CFR, Professor Bacevich scoffed at the customarily cited benefit — the capture and death of Saddam Hussein. Then, without mentioning the loss of his son, he added:  
In a decision a plaintiffs' lawyer called an effort “to put lipstick on a pig,” a panel of the in San Francisco upheld Thursday a congressional grant of immunity from law suits to telecommunications companies that had surrendered records of their customers phone calls and electronic communications to warrantless government searches. The three-judge panel unanimously affirmed  a lower court ruling holding the congressional action constitutional. The case consolidated 33  lawsuits filed against various telecom companies, including AT&T, Sprint Nextel, Verizon Communications Inc. and BellSouth Corp, on behalf of the companies' customers. The legal battles grew out of presidential order signed by George W. Bush in 2002 authorizing the National Security Agency to conduct electronic surveillance on Americans and others inside the United States in search of evidence of terrorist activity. The presidential directive authorized searches without either the domestic court warrants required for criminal investigations or those issued by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court for investigation of activities of foreign persons or organizations, as required by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978.
James Williams of Matagorda County, Texas said in a pro-Ron Paul campaign advertisement released December 28 that in the early 1970s he saw "Ron Paul come to my rescue. He just stepped in and went to work with my wife." Williams' wife was pregnant and extremely ill, and until Dr. Ron Paul showed up, nobody at the hospital would care for his wife. Williams suspects the bi-racial family in the deep South may have been a factor (he's black, his wife is white) in the wait to see a doctor. But Ron Paul saw his wife immediately. "He said, as far as the bill," Williams continued in the RevolutionPAC advertisement, "he would take care of everything. Which he did. I never got a bill from the hospital or anything. And he was a doctor of medicine and that's what he was doing, was practicing medicine. And it didn't matter who, and what, and why. He was doing it because he'd  think of one human being just as much as another. He's just an honest man, and that's something we need now in this day and time." It's a moving advertisement, but it could be argued that any SuperPAC can create an emotional ad for the candidate they back.
The Republican Party of Virginia will require all citizens of the state voting in the Republican primary on March 6, 2012 to sign a loyalty oath before being permitted to cast their votes.  Put plainly, anyone who shows up at the polling place must sign a form wherein he or she swears to support the Republican candidate who wins the nomination. Refusal to sign the pledge results in revocation of the right to vote in the Republican primary election.    
A senior communist officer who helped bring an end to a standoff between local government officials and residents of the village of Wukan, located in China’s Guangdong province, warned Chinese officials to prepare for more protests and takeovers by Chinese citizens with grievances over government corruption that has included land confiscation and other abuses. Zhu Mingguo, a deputy Communist Party secretary in the Guangdong province, led a team that met with Wukan village residents who had taken over the community in protest over a lack of compensation for lands co-opted by local government leaders. They also demanded an investigation into the death of one of the protest leaders while he was in police custody. According to Reuters News Service, for over a week the residents “had fended off police with barricades and held protests over the death in police custody of activist Xue Jinbo, whose family rejects the government’s position that he died of natural causes, and against the seizure of farmland for development.” On December 21, following the meeting with Zhu and other provincial officials, leaders of the protests told residents to take down barriers and allow government officials into the village. For their part, the provincial government officials agreed to take a closer look at the dealings of local Communist Party bureaucrats in the sale of farmland to developers, as well as investigate the death of Xue Jinbo.
In a front-page editorial Thursday, the publisher of the New Hampshire Union Leader told readers of the statewide daily that "Ron Paul is a dangerous man." While the Republican presidential candidate's libertarian views on domestic issues are attractive to some voters, the editorial conceded, "it is Paul's position on issues of our national security that are truly dangerous." "He has repeatedly said that we should allow Iran to continue to develop a nuclear weapon," is one of the charges against Paul in the editorial, written by publisher Joseph W. McQuaid "This is the same country whose leadership vows death to America, the 'Satanic power,' and who wants Israel wiped from the map." Yet the editorial page of the same newspaper two days earlier featured a column by Patrick J. Buchanan, in which the columnist cited the statement of Pentagon spokesman George Little in clarifying recently televised comments by Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta. "The secretary was clear that we have no indication that the Iranians have made a decision to develop a nuclear weapon," Little said. While statements by President Obama and the other GOP presidential candidates have either alleged or implied that Iran is right on the verge of producing a nuclear bomb, Rep. Paul has argued against forcing a military confrontation over a weapon that might not even be in the developmental stages — one that, according to the Pentagon spokesman, the Iranian government may not have even decided to build. Paul insists that our nearly nine-year war in Iraq over alleged "weapons of mass destruction" should be instructive in that regard.
The prayers of faithful Christians in Nigeria were interrupted by bombs detonated by Islamic militants during worship services on Christmas Day — attacks that are becoming perennial in a nation that rests on one of the theological fault lines between Christianity and Islam. Last year, bombings in the Nigerian city of Jos killed dozens of people and wounded nearly a hundred more; this year the attacks by the Muslim group Boko Haram killed approximately 40 people. Bombs were detonated in the cities of Madalla, near the capital city of Abuja, Jos in central Nigeria, and in Damaturu and Gadaka in northern Yobe state, where fighting between the government and Boko Haram has been particularly fierce. The name of the terrorist organization at the heart of the recent violence — Boko Haram — describes the character of its agenda: Boko Haram means “Western education is forbidden.” Of course, Christianity is far from being a religion exclusively identified with the West; a faith that spread in its earliest days from Jerusalem throughout the Middle East and northern Africa, even as it began to make inroads European territories of the Roman Empire is hardly “Western.” But the Christmas bombings have been an annual element of the campaign of terror that members of Boko Haram have waged against Nigeria’s Christians.
On March 30 of this year, President Obama dropped in to greet Sarah Brady, who was meeting with White House Press Secretary Jay Carney. Sarah is the wife of Jim Brady, the former White House Press Secretary under Reagan, who was shot but not killed in an assassination attempt on President Reagan in 1981. The Bradys subsequently became strong supporters of gun control. According to Brady, the President brought up the issue of gun control “to fill us in that it was very much on his agenda. [The President said,] 'I just want you to know that we are working on [additional limits on gun ownership]. We have to go through a few processes, but under the radar.'" Thanks to the efforts of freedom advocates such as John Lott, Obama’s efforts to stay under the radar are now glistening in the sunlight. Lott reviewed an unsettling and lengthy list of Obama’s “processes,” starting with the President’s intention to ignore at least 20 parts of the 2012 omnibus spending bill that he signed into law last week. Using the controversial and likely unconstitutional “signing statements," Obama said, “I have advised Congress that I will not construe these provisions as preventing me from fulfilling my constitutional responsibility … such measures as I shall judge necessary and expedient.” Buried in the 1,200-page bill was a restriction that bars health officials from using taxpayer funds to lobby for gun control. To rub it in, Obama iterated his position: “Our spending decisions shall not be treated as dependent on the approval of congressional committees.” In plain English, the President just told Congress to go jump — he was going to do what he wanted to do, regardless.
“A dictator enjoys unrestrained power over the people. The legislative and judicial branches voluntarily cede this power or it’s taken by force. Most of the time, it’s given up easily, out of fear in time of war and civil disturbances, and with support from the people, although the dictator will also accumulate more power with the use of force.” Those prescient words of Republican presidential candidate Congressman Ron Paul (R-Texas) are taken from his book Liberty Defined: 50 Essential Issues That Affect Our Freedom. The tyrannical assumption of power by the President and the cession of unheralded power to him by the Congress has taken place precisely as Dr. Paul warned.   The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) is an unprecedented, unconstitutional, and unchecked grant of dictatorial power to the President in the name of protecting the security of “the homeland.” Ron Paul described the bill (soon to be signed into law by the President) as a “slip into tyranny,” one that will almost certainly accelerate “our descent into totalitarianism.”   What of the NDAA? Are there indeed provisions contained therein that so ferociously tear at the constitutional fabric of our Republic?   In a word — yes.
“I would put our legislative and foreign policy accomplishments in our first two years against any president — with the possible exceptions of Johnson, FDR, and Lincoln — just in terms of what we've gotten done in modern history.” So spake Barack Obama, in an interview with 60 Minutes earlier this month. The news program left the above braggadocio out of its broadcast, a fact some attribute to media bias. According to my sources, however, the real story is that by that time Obama’s head had swelled to a point where it blocked out the camera. Critics were quick to jump on this self-exaltation, pointing out that Obama not only ranked himself ahead of father of our nation George Washington, but, writes P.J. Gladnick at NewsBusters: Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your Obama. That's because in his not so humble opinion, he ranks even higher than John F. Kennedy. Don’t feel so bad, President Kennedy. Obama also feels that his administration is better than that of Presidents Jefferson, Madison, Monroe, Jackson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Ronald Reagan to name a few.
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