Saturday, February 15, 2014

U.S. Dictator Obama: "Immigration Reform Will Pass Before I Leave Office"


During a brief speech Friday at the House Democratic Issues Conference in Cambridge, Maryland, Obama repeated that one of his legislative priorities for this year is immigration reform

WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama said Friday that immigration reform will pass before he leaves office in January 2017.

“I believe it will get done before my presidency is over,” he said during an interview with Univision Radio. “I’d like to get it done this year.”

“The main thing people can do right now is put pressure on Republicans who have refused so far to act,” the Democratic president said.

He showed once again that he's unwilling to adopt unilateral measures to halt deportations of the undocumented until reform is passed, though many activists demand it insistently, mostly in the Hispanic community.

During a brief speech Friday at the House Democratic Issues Conference in Cambridge, Maryland, Obama repeated that one of his legislative priorities for this year is immigration reform.

What must be guaranteed is “a smart immigration policy in this country that grows our economy – gets people out of the shadows, makes sure that our businesses are thriving. That’s got to be a top priority,” he said.

“(W)hen it comes to immigration reform, we have to remind ourselves that there are people behind the statistics, that there are lives that are being impacted,” Obama said, referring to the more than 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the country.

“(P)utting things off for another year, another two years, another three years, it hurts people. It hurts our economy. It hurts families,” the president added.

The Senate approved last June a bipartisan bill that strengthens border security and includes a path to citizenship for the undocumented.

The Republicans who control the House presented in late January their immigration-reform policy, which only contemplates a guarantee of citizenship for young people who were brought into the country as children and are now enrolled in college or are serving in the Armed Forces.

Nation of laws must rein in Obama


A few days ago, Danish journalist Lars Hedegaard wrote me with a new assignment to write for the European paper he co-edits:

“Would you write something about a disturbing phenomenon — the fact that Obama rules by decree and neglects the Constitution. How can this go on? Nixon was a complete amateur compared to this would-be Kim Jong-Un. It looks like a coup d'etat. Nobody talks about it in Europe.”

So that's what America looks like from 4,000 miles away.

Given the lack of context “over there,” my overview had to start with the basics of Barack Obama's presidency: numerous unconfirmed “tsars,” sweeping executive orders and massive amounts of regulation. “I've got a pen and I've got a phone” is the way the president recently described his tools of power, noticeably omitting whether he also had a copy of the U.S. Constitution.

For many Americans, living through the Obama era day by day, executive order by executive order, our nation's transformation becomes so much enveloping static. Yes, there are shrieks and screams (over ObamaCare's rollout, for instance), but mostly people seem to shut out the background noise of an aggressively collectivizing government doing business. Obama's poll numbers dip, yes. White noise ensues.

Obama is seizing powers that belong to the legislative branch. He's not the first president to do so; not by a long shot. That's also part of the ambivalence problem. Obama fits an accepted historical mode of abuse exemplified, for example, by the even more dictatorial FDR.

What distinguishes Obama's fiats in our time, however, as Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, told, is that Obama “has repeatedly made use of executive orders to change statute, to change law, to change legislation enacted by Congress.”

A president can't do that. The crisis exists because the legislative branch is letting him.

During a December hearing before a House Judiciary subcommittee on “The President's Constitutional Duty to Faithfully Execute the Laws,” liberal law professor (and onetime Obama voter) Jonathan Turley stated: “The problem with what the president is doing is that he's not simply posing a danger to the constitutional system. He's becoming the very danger the Constitution was designed to avoid.”

What to do with a president who rewrites his own laws, enacts legislation that has failed (repeatedly) to pass into law, and creates legislation through executive agency regulation?

The boldest proposition on the table so far — not moving, I will add — is for Congress to stop funding executive orders that upset the Constitution's “balance of powers.” This is an obvious “check” to restore “balance.”

But Obama's systematic assaults on constitutional governance require more than defunding, and more than static. They require, first and most urgently, a full airing. Impeachment, which may begin with an impeachment inquiry, is the means the Constitution provided us. It offers the way “forward,” as the president might say, to re-establish that America is a nation of laws, not men.


UNION FAIL: Educated VW auto workers wise to CP-USA backed UAW


UAW falls 87 votes short of major victory in South

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (AP) — Just 87 votes at the Volkswagen plant in Tennessee separated the United Auto Workers union from what would have been its first successful organization of workers at a foreign automaker in the South.
Instead of celebrating a potential watershed moment for labor politics in the region, UAW supporters were left crestfallen by the 712-626 vote against union representation in the election that ended Friday night.
The result stunned many labor experts who expected a UAW win because Volkswagen tacitly endorsed the union and even allowed organizers into the Chattanooga factory to make sales pitches.
The loss is a major setback for the UAW's effort to make inroads in the growing South, where foreign automakers have 14 assembly plants, eight built in the past decade, said Kristin Dziczek, director of the labor and industry group at the Center for Automotive Research, an industry think tank in Michigan.
"If this was going to work anywhere, this is where it was going to work," she said of the Volkswagen vote.
Organizing a Southern plant is so crucial to the union that UAW President Bob King told workers in a speech that the union has no long-term future without it. The loss means the union remains largely quarantined with the Detroit Three in the Midwest and Northeast.
Many viewed VW as the union's best chance to gain a crucial foothold in the South because other automakers have not been as welcoming as Volkswagen. Labor interests make up half of the supervisory board at VW in Germany, and they questioned why the Chattanooga plant is the company's only major factory worldwide without formal worker representation.
VW wanted a German-style "works council" in Chattanooga to give employees a say over working conditions. The company says U.S. law won't allow it without an independent union.
In Chattanooga, the union faced stern opposition from Republican politicians who warned that a UAW victory would chase away other automakers who might come to the region.
Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee was the most vocal opponent, saying that he was told that VW would soon announce plans to build a new SUV in Chattanooga if workers rejected the union. That was later denied by a VW executive, who said the union vote had no bearing on expansion decisions. Other state politicians threatened to cut off state incentives for the plant to expand if the union was approved.
After 53 percent of the workers voted against his union, King said he was outraged at what he called "outside interference" in the election. He wouldn't rule out challenging the outcome with the National Labor Relations Board.
"It's never happened in this country before that the U.S. senator, the governor, the leader of the House, the legislature here, threatened the company with no incentives, threatened workers with a loss of product," King said. "We'll look at all our options in the next few days."
The union could contend that Corker and other local politicians were in collusion with VW and tried to frighten workers into thinking the SUV would be built in Mexico if they voted for the union, said Gary Chaison, a labor relations professor at Clark University in Worcester, Mass.
But Chaison said it will be difficult to tie the politicians to the company, which remained neutral throughout the voting process.
"It's the employer that has real power," he said.
The loss put a spotlight on the union's major difficulty in the South: signing up people who have no history with organized labor and are fearful of being the first in the area to join, Chaison said.
Dziczek said the union may have to change its tactics in future organizing efforts, because King's strategy of the union and company working together to help each other did not work.
Republican Gov. Bill Haslam said through a spokesman that he was pleased with the vote and "looks forward to working with the company on future growth in Tennessee."
Corker echoed that sentiment in a release issued after the vote.
"Needless to say, I am thrilled for the employees at Volkswagen and for our community and its future," he said.

GOOD NEWS: Fatal shooting ruled a 'clear case of self-defense' for 76-year-old Lincolnville man


Deputies said Robert Deziel used this stun gun, which is disguised as a cellphone, to attack and try to rob Charles Petit on Sunday.
The young man who confronted 76-year-old Charles Petit outside his Lincolnville home Sunday had parked his car a quarter-mile away.
He used a stun gun disguised as a cellphone to shock Petit.
He wore two sets of clothes: camouflage pants over blue jeans and a hooded sweatshirt over a sweater.
He knew Petit from the flea market where his mother worked. Petit sold jewelry there.
Those factors led investigators to think that 25-year-old Robert Deziel of Summerville meant to rob Petit, then shed a layer of clothing as he ran away.
That's why authorities ruled Thursday that Petit was justified when he pulled out a .38-caliber handgun and fatally shot Deziel.
Ninth Circuit Solicitor Scarlett Wilson said Petit's actions made up a classic case of self-defense based on legal doctrines that "go back eons."
He didn't need extra legal protections under the S.C. Protection of Persons and Property Act, a 2006 law that contains the state's "stand-your-ground" provisions. The statute can give immunity from criminal prosecution and civil liability to people who act in self-defense.
"Even if he had a duty to retreat, he could not do so safely because he was being attacked by a younger person," Wilson said. "This is a very clean, clear case of self-defense."
Wilson and Charleston County Sheriff Al Cannon announced the finding during a news conference Thursday afternoon.
Shortly after Petit called 911 to report the shooting about 6 a.m. Sunday, deputies started gathering evidence indicating that he had acted lawfully. But Cannon and Wilson said it was investigators' duty to further corroborate his story.
Deziel did not have a criminal history.
Petit told them that he ventured outside his house on Dunmeyer Hill Road to warm up his car, Cannon said. He planned to man his jewelry booth that day at the Coastal Carolina Flea Market in Ladson.
Outside his car, Petit was attacked. Deputies later found defensive wounds on his hands and an injury on his face.
Petit managed to reach his revolver. He was not required to have a permit to carry the gun because he was on his own property.
He squeezed the trigger five times. One of the rounds didn't go off. Of the four bullets that did fire, one hit Deziel in the chest.
Petit hurried inside and called for help. His wife also was at the home.
He told deputies that he didn't know the man who tried to rob him. The attacker had a hood pulled over his head.
But later, when he saw a photo lineup, Petit recognized Deziel from the flea market. Deziel's mother ran a booth there, and most of the merchants knew Petit, the sheriff said.
In Petit's front yard, deputies also found what at first appeared to be a cellphone. It had a screen featuring a photo of a mountainside lake, a button to access the phone's contacts and an icon for Facebook.
But users can't place calls on the Streetwise Immobilizer. It was designed to deliver a jolt of electricity.
"All of that pointed to him robbing (Petit)," Cannon said. "Petit was protecting himself."


Growing The Bureaucracy: State Department plans Arctic ambassador


JUNEAU, Alaska - The U.S. State Department plans to create an Arctic representative position to highlight the growing importance of that region.
In letters sent to Alaska's two U.S. senators, Mark Begich and Lisa Murkowski, Secretary of State John Kerry said he planned to name a "high-level individual of substantial stature and expertise" to serve as Special Representative for the Arctic Region. He said he hoped to get input from both of them in creating the post and finding the right person.
"For a long time now, I've shared the view that the Arctic region really is the last global frontier, and the United States needs to elevate our attention and effort to keep up with the opportunities and consequences presented by the Arctic's rapid transformation," Kerry wrote in the letters, released by the senators' offices Friday. "Properly managed, this region provides an opportunity for creative diplomatic leadership - but truly establishing and capitalizing on this leadership role will require making the Arctic region a higher U.S. priority; greater attention paid by senior policy makers; and, in keeping with President Obama's call for 'national unity of effort' on the Arctic, coordination of operational departments."
With the U.S. set to take over the rotating chairmanship of the eight-nation Arctic Council in 2015, Kerry said he believed it was vital to elevate Arctic issues and interests within the State Department.
In a separate statement, Kerry said the Arctic has "enormous and growing geostrategic, economic, climate, environment, and national security implications for the United States and the world." He said the special representative, referred to by Begich as an Arctic ambassador, would play a critical role in advancing American interests in the region.
Kerry called the Arctic's transformation "a very rare convergence of almost every national priority in the most rapidly changing region on the face of the earth."
State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf on Friday said she had no personnel announcements to make, but she might soon.
Begich, a Democrat, and Murkowski, a Republican, have been pressing for an ambassador or envoy to the Arctic.
'This is not to take anything away from what the State Department has worked on. But they are just so inundated with so many international issues (that) I believe the Arctic was slipping past us," he said.
Other federal departments also "were kind of on their own path and not really focused on the long-term benefit of the Arctic. So this will really hone it in," Begich said.
He said the position would not be ceremonial and his understanding is the special representative will have the authority and power to represent the United States on Arctic issues.
Begich said Friday that he hadn't heard a timeline for when an appointment would be made. "But they know we want this done sooner rather than later," he said.
Begich added that he doesn't think it would be necessary for the position to be confirmed by Congress.
Murkowski, in a statement, said the White House's efforts to seize on opportunities opening in the Arctic so far "have been a national embarrassment."
While she said she welcomed the administration devoting more energy to an Arctic agenda, she questioned whether a special representative would be "on par" with an ambassador, which she said most of the eight Arctic nations have. Murkowski said she would seek clarity from Kerry on that point.
Murkowski has been critical of where the U.S. stands compared with other nations staking their claims to the region, saying in the past that the U.S. is behind in its vision and thinking.
She sent a letter to the president earlier this week expressing disappointment with the White House's plan for the Arctic.
Murkowski said the plan did nothing "to advance our already lagging role in the region."
She noted that Russia and Canada have been aggressive in their plans and investment and that non-Arctic nations also are looking at opportunities that come with diminished polar sea ice.
"The United States has never been last in a race to the future, but absent any visionary leadership and meaningful resourcing, we will continue to take a back seat and fail to capitalize on all the Arctic has to offer," Murkowski wrote.
Begich said he would like to see the job filled by someone from Alaska who understands the diplomatic arena and different aspects of the Arctic and who can walk into a room and have the respect of other ambassadors because of their history of work on Arctic-related issues.
Begich said he had some names in mind, but he declined to share them.

R.I.P.: Alaska Territorial Gov. Stepovich dies at age 94


Former Alaska territorial Gov. Mike Stepovich

Former Alaska territorial Gov. Mike Stepovich

Former Alaska territorial Gov. Mike Stepovich, in this undated photo, received an honorary doctor of laws degree at the University of Alaska Fairbanks 2009 commencement. 

FAIRBANKS - Former Alaska territorial Gov. Mike Stepovich died early Friday morning, six days after he was badly injured in a fall at his son's San Diego home. He was 94.
Stepovich suffered a serious head injury in the accident and had been hospitalized in a semi-conscious state. His 13 children all traveled to San Diego to say goodbye, said his oldest daughter, Antonia Stepovich Gore.
Stepovich was born to in 1919 at St. Joseph Hospital, the son of an immigrant gold miner from Montenegro. He grew up in Oregon after his family moved away but returned to the Interior after earning his law degree from Notre Dame University and spending a tour in the Navy.
Following three terms in the Alaska Territorial Legislature, Stepovich became the state's youngest and first Alaska-born governor when President Eisenhower appointed him to the position in 1957. He was just 38 years old.
The self-deprecating Republican often claimed the job was the easiest he'd ever had, since he simply needed to be the "messenger boy" for the federal government. But he was a tireless advocate for statehood, constantly traveling the country to lobby for Alaska's admission to the union.
"He didn't toot his own horn, but he worked very hard at it," Stepovich Gore said of the role.
Those efforts included an appearance on "Tonight with Jack Paar," as well as a visit to the game show "What's My Line" that can be seen on YouTube. Stepovich was on the cover of Time magazine in 1958, his portrait appearing in front of a totem pole morphing into a jet airplane and oil rig.  
Stepovich faced skepticism even from some of his political allies. Eisenhower initially thought that Alaska would be more useful as a buffer between the U.S. and Russia than as the 49th state. Even when the president warmed to the idea, he had to be convinced that the massive territory shouldn't be split in half before entering the union.
Stepovich was at the center of perhaps the most well-known photo from the statehood era, shown with a broad smile as he held a newspaper with the headline “WE’RE IN” while standing between Eisenhower and Secretary of the Interior Frederick Seaton. 
"He was one of the young men in that group that was very involved in statehood and was very convinced that was the right thing for Alaska," Stepovich Gore said.
Stepovich resigned as governor to make a run at the U.S. Senate but lost a narrow race to Ernest Gruening. He returned to Fairbanks to practice law and raise a family with his wife, Matilda.
Fairbanks attorney Charlie Cole met Stepovich in 1955 and said he was a warm family man who would share a smile and conversation with everyone he met.
He recalls dinner at the Stepovich home, where Matilda managed a boisterous group of kids and a steady stream of guests. The children all attended Immaculate Conception School and Monroe Catholic High School, which was just a short walk from their home in Slaterville.
"It was a big, convivial, happy family when you'd go over there," Cole said.
Cole said Stepovich was also an outstanding athlete and attorney. Stepovich would routinely pummel Cole in their weekly handball matches, he said, then head to court to work on a wide variety of colorful cases in post-war Fairbanks.
"He was a formidable trial lawyer," Cole said. "I sometimes think he could convince a jury that black was white."
Stepovich was fondly remembered by Alaska politicians on Friday after word of his death was made public. Gov. Sean Parnell ordered state flags lowered to half-staff. 
"His love for our state is a great legacy that will endure for generations of Alaskans," Parnell said in a statement. "A devout family man, the governor will be missed and never forgotten."
U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski praised Stepovich as a "true family man" and a vital player in Alaska's statehood.
"Today we have lost another link to Alaska’s territorial history, and that leaves a huge hole in my heart," Murkowski stated.
Sen. Mark Begich called Stepovich one of Alaska's "most historic figures."
"His vision and commitment to statehood as well as his role as a proud statesman laid the path for the early success of Alaska, and for that, all Alaskans are grateful," Begich stated.
Stepovich and his wife moved Outside about 30 years ago but returned each summer to visit with friends and family in Fairbanks. Matilda Stepovich died in 2003 at age 81.
Stepovich Gore said the children stayed in regular contact with their father through daily phone calls and regular visits. They arrived in San Diego this week from far-flung points around the U.S. — Florida, Virginia, Washington state and, of course, Alaska — to say goodbye to their father. 
"His love of Alaska and identification with Alaska was always very strong. … It was always family, faith and Alaska, on any given day in some order," she said. 

Left Nut World: Progressive Commies announce bid to take over Richmond California


Richmond Progressives Announce 2014 Political Candidates; Mayor McLaughlin to Run for City Council

There has been a great deal of speculation about who will be running for the Richmond City Council in November, and on Thursday, the Richmond Progressive Alliance, which has been the strongest political force on the council in recent years, announced the names of four candidates who will be running in what promises to be a series of hotly contested races against large corporate interests, labor unions, and well-funded candidates.
The RPA refuses all corporate contributions, and in past elections has been remarkably successful in running bare-bones campaigns that rely on grassroots organizing. The RPA-dominated council also has been bold in challenging corporate interests who have large amounts of money to defeat the RPA members and their causes at the polls. In 2012, Chevron and the soda industry outspent the RPA 28 to 1 by throwing a record $4.2 million at political action committees, candidates, nonprofits, and top shelf political consultants who mobilized to defeat RPA candidates and the RPA’s Measure N, which would have levied a one cent tax on sugary drinks (total RPA spending for candidates and Measure N was $148,000). Measure N and RPA's candidates lost in that in election.
The coming election cycle promises to be just a difficult for the RPA with national real estate interests and major banks expected to oppose RPA council candidates over a controversial proposal to relieve struggling homeowners by taking over underwater mortgages through eminent domain. With five seats open on the seven-member council, there is an opportunity for Chevron and other corporate interests to regain control of the council and they will likely spare no expense in winning as many seats as they can.
The RPA’s candidate for mayor is Mike Parker, a newcomer to politics who is running his first campaign for public office. Parker is an author and retired industrial electrician for the Chrysler Group. He served as a national delegate for the United Auto Workers and currently works as an electrical instructor and Los Medanos Community College. Parker said his focus will be on job training. “It’s the issue that speaks to the needs of Richmond resident,” he said. “Better job training will attract better jobs.”
While the deadline for officially announcing is not until August 8th, Parker is expected to be running against at least three candidates, including longtime West Contra Costa County school board member Charles Ramsey who has been steadily collecting labor endorsements and money for the past year. As of the end of December, Ramsey has already collected nearly $100,000 in contributions — mostly from unions. Also expected to run are Councilmember Nat Bates, a veteran of Richmond politics who is a staunch supporter of Chevron, and Uche Uwahemu, the CEO of a local business consulting firm.
Gayle McLaughlin.
  • Gayle McLaughlin.
Mayor Gayle McLaughlin, a RPA founder and perhaps the organization’s most popular elected official, will be termed out of the mayor’s office in 2014, though she has announced that she will seek another term as councilmember. McLaughlin has led the council by challenging the Chevron refinery — which exerted unchecked influence over city politics for decades before the RPA began winning council seats in 2004 — over issues such safety (particularly in relation to a 2012 refinery explosion and fire), underpaid taxes and an environmentally problematic refinery upgrade. McLaughlin also caught the attention of the national media when she championed a plan to deter blight and help homeowners by taking over underwater mortgages through eminent domain.
Running for reelection is Vice Mayor Jovanka Beckles who has been a strong advocate for reintegrating ex-offenders into the workforce. She was the author of legislation that prevents the city from disregarding municipal job applicants due to previous incarceration. Beckles, a lesbian, also was the target of homophobic taunts and harassment during a council meeting by a nonprofit group closely associated with pro-Chevron Councilmember Corky Boozé. Boozé has since publicly renounced the verbal attacks.
Rounding out the RPA slate is Richmond Planning Commissioner Eduardo Martinez, a retired elementary school teacher who narrowly lost a bid for city council in 2012.
Other candidates who have unofficially announced their intention to run for council this year are Councilmember Corky Boozé, who for decades had been a combative gadfly who was finally elected to the council in 2010 after nine failed campaigns, and Councilmember Jael Myrick, who was appointed to the council after Councilmember-elect Gary Bell became seriously ill and then died after winning a council seat in 2012.

PSSD: Post Snow Stress Disorder?


Bogota resident allegedly used snowblower to attack DPW employee, police say 

BOGOTA — A borough resident allegedly used a snowblower to attack a public works employee Friday morning after the two argued over his throwing snow into the street in front of his home, police said.

Department of Public Works Superintendent Gordon Kholes said the worker was hit in the face and eyes with slush and ice while sitting in his truck after a resident blowing snow into Fairview Avenue allegedly pointed the blower’s ejection chute toward the truck’s open window.

The unnamed worker had argued with Bogota resident Rohit Chatterji about blowing snow onto a street that DPW crews plowed clear after Thursday's snowstorm left North Jersey blanketed.

“My foreman called the paramedics to make sure he was OK,” the superintendent said. “This was supposedly slush that could have contained salt and oil from the road. You have to get that checked out.”

Borough Police Chief John Burke said Chatterji was cited for violating an ordinance prohibiting residents from throwing snow from driveways and sidewalks into streets.

Further charges would be up to the DPW worker, who was treated at Holy Name Hospital in Teaneck and released, Burke added.

Chatterji could not be reached for comment Friday evening.

Bogota Mayor Antero “Tito” Jackson said residents may be “a little winter-crazy,” but shouldn’t resort to taking it out on the DPW.

“Our DPW has been working non-stop to keep the streets clear,” Jackson said. “I understand people are getting snow-beleaguered. But people have to keep their heads about them.”


Exercising State Rights While They Still Exist


Kansas House passes bill allowing refusal of service to same-sex couples

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) -- Kansas Senate president says a bill that would prevent lawsuits against someone who refuses, for religious reasons, to provide services to gay and lesbians will not pass in her chamber as it is currently written.
Senate President Susan Wagle says Friday that the bill goes beyond protecting religious freedom. She raised concerns about discrimination and how it could impact businesses that would refuse services to gay couples.
The bill passed the House on Wednesday, drawing strong reaction from across the country. It would prohibit government sanctions or lawsuits over faith-based refusals to recognize same-sex unions or to provide goods, services, accommodations or employment benefits to couples.
Wagle says most Republican senators support traditional marriage and protecting religious freedom.
Most Senate Democrats oppose the bill.