Today Rep. Justin Amash explained the detainee policy in the final NDAA bill.

Donald Trump’s announcement on YouTube on Tuesday night that he was cancelling the Republican presidential candidate debate scheduled for December 27 tried to pin the blame on the Republican Party. A lot of the candidates aren’t coming to his debate “because they think I’m going to run for political office, something I can’t do now … But around the middle of May I’ll be able to do whatever I want and I could run as an Independent. The Republican Party doesn’t want me running as an Independent. So they’ve made this debate pretty impossible…”

 

Are African elephants an endangered species?  Like so many questions, the answer depends on who’s giving it. Villagers in northern Uganda whose food the animals devour would likely call them an endangerment — or worse. “[After] I found the elephants eating my crops in the garden, I started banging an empty jerry can to scare them but one of the big elephants charged at me. I was lucky because I ran in between the trees and the elephant stopped. I gave up my garden of millet and rice,” said Mateo Ojok. He’s one of the “internally displaced persons (IDPs) … struggling to resettle because persistent elephant incursions into their fields are threatening their livelihoods, and sometimes, their lives.” Mr. Ojok added, “[Life in] this place is a struggle between the elephants and human beings. The elephants are giving us a hard time, they are really aggressive.”

So aggressive, in fact that “the UN Food and Agriculture Organization estimates … the annual cost of elephant raids to crops in Africa” at “US$60 in Uganda … per affected farmer.” That’s a sizable chunk of wealth in a country where the “gross national income per capita” for 2009 was $511.9 in “current US [dollars].”

At a speech in Sacramento, California, on December 10, Richard Mack, former sheriff of Graham County, Arizona, and founder of the Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association (CSPOA), announced that within a matter of days he will be filing a lawsuit in federal court against the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) for slander, libel and defamation.

Sheriff Mack, who successfully challenged the 1993 federal Brady handgun control act in a landmark case that went all the way through the United States Supreme Court, has been an outspoken champion of constitutionally limited government and a critic of federal usurpation and abuse of police powers. The forty-year-old Southern Poverty Law Center is notorious for lionizing left-wing extremists (such as unrepentant Weather Underground terrorist Bill Ayers) and equally notorious for smearing innocent individuals and organizations with the “racist,” “extremist,” “anti-semitic,” “anti-government,” and “hate group” labels. It is not surprising then that it has targeted Richard Mack for vicious treatment in a number of its publications and web sites over the years. But even more troubling than what it has published about him, says Sheriff Mack, are the lies that it has spread to law enforcement agencies about him in the seminars and training programs the SPLC conducts for federal, state, and local agencies.

Forty members of Congress have sent a letter urging the House and Senate Armed Services Committee leaders to protest provisions of the National Defense Authorization Act that would legalize the indefinite detention of American citizens. The NDAA first passed in the House of Representatives weeks ago but endured strong opposition from a handful of lawmakers in the U.S. Senate last Thursday, where the bill was passed but with the addition of an amendment that forced the measure to be reconciled and revised for a final vote. The revised version of the NDAA was finalized on Tuesday, and a vote on it is set to take place this week.

 

Renewing a tune it has sung over the past few years, the federal National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is once again proposing a nationwide ban on drivers texting and using cellphones.

As reported by CNN, the proposed federal ban “is the most far-reaching yet” made by the NTSB, “which in the past 10 years has increasingly sought to limit the use of portable electronic devices — recommending bans for novice drivers, school bus drivers and commercial truckers.” Should the intrusive ban be pushed through nationally, non-emergency calls as well as all texting by drivers would be outlawed. The ban would include both hands-free and hand-held devices, but would exclude devices installed by carmakers.

The NTSB alleges that around 3,092 traffic fatalities last year were caused by distracted drivers — including those texting or on cellphones — but they insist that the numbers may actually be higher. “Needless lives are lost on our highways, and for what?” asked NTSB Chairwoman Deborah Hersman, who is heading up the campaign. “Convenience? Death isn’t convenient. So we can stay more connected? A fatal accident severs that connection.”
 

With the January 3 Iowa Caucus just around the corner, every tiny fluctuation in the polls seems to matter. Just weeks ago, there was a four-way tie in Iowa among Texas Congressman Ron Paul, former Godfather Pizza CEO Herman Cain, former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney. Those numbers have changed several times since then, particularly with Herman Cain dropping out of the race, and according to the most recent Public Policy Polling, Ron Paul and Newt Gingrich are now tied for first.

Just last week, Newt Gingrich held a clear lead in Iowa, but Paul has now closed the gap, polling at 21 percent, virtually matching Gingrich’s 22 percent. Ron Paul reportedly has a great deal of support in Iowa and Romney is now coming in third in the Hawkeye State, with 16 percent.

Paul’s campaign has been extremely successful in reaching Iowa voters, and intends to continue in its efforts. Paul’s campaign has organized a “Christmas Vacation with Ron Paul” program which will feature approximately 500 youth in Iowa knocking on doors and manning the phone bank for their candidate. Additionally, the campaign purchased a $1-million ad buy in Iowa, which includes radio, TV, and mail advertisements, many of which focus on Newt Gingrich, who is currently Paul’s greatest rival.

What is the price of freedom? $662 billion.  That’s the amount that will be spent on the defense budget for 2012 if it becomes law.  For a moment, set aside the fact that the bill authorizes spending billions of dollars on the perpetuation of two unconstitutional foreign conflicts (Iraq and Afghanistan).
 
Set aside momentarily that the bill greases the skids for the deployment of forces into Iran (after “sanctions” fail to persuade Ahmadinejad to see things our way).
 
This bill, the National Defense Authorization Act for 2012 that will now be sent in its conference form, will soon arrive at the House and Senate for a final vote. Then, on to the desk of President Obama for his signature or veto.
 
Apart from the obvious eviscerations of the separation of powers and the enumeration thereof in the Constitution, this legislation converts America into a war zone and turns Americans into potential suspected terrorists, complete with the full roster of rights typically afforded to terrorists — none.
 
In advance of the holiday break set to begin on Friday, Congress is hurrying to enact the defense budget with an eye-popping $662-billion price tag.

On November 17, four convicted terrorists appealed to the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver, Colorado, to review the alleged violation of their constitutionally guaranteed due process rights on the part of the government of the United States. The four co-petitioners are Omar Rezaq, Ibrahim Elgabrowny, El-Sayyid Nosair, and Mohammed Salameh. While these names may not sound familiar, their deeds are infamous. A brief “rap sheet” for each follows.
 
Omar Mohammed Ali Rezaq is the sole surviving hijacker of EgyptAir Flight 648. He was one of three members of the militant Palestinian organization Abu Nidal (named for the founder of Fatah, Abu Nidal) who participated in the hijacking of the plane in 1985. The other two hijackers were gunned down either by armed sky marshals or by Egyptian commandos who stormed onto the airplane. On July 19, 1996, a federal district judge sentenced Rezaq to life imprisonment for his role in the hijacking.
 
 

Conservative economist Robert Higgs' warnings about the Heritage Foundation’s Index of Dependence on Government were already outdated when they were published on Thursday. The updated statistics from Heritage for 2011, published the next day, showed the situation in the United States to be even worse than Higgs warned.

Higgs noted that the so-called “ruling class” (taken from Angelo Codevilla’s book of the same name) is a tiny percentage of the total population in the country, and has in the past only been able to maintain its legitimacy through vote-buying and mainstream media credibility. The fear of the ruling class has always been that dissatisfaction and distrust would result in their expulsion from the seats of power. But Higgs notes that now there are so many Americans dependent upon the government for their very subsistence that resistance to the tyranny of the ruling class is being increasingly neutralized.

The more dependent the citizens become on their government, the less influence they are likely to have in any substantial downsizing of that government:

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