The shorter the campaign, the easier it is for a longshot unknown to pull off a surprise win. I have a feeling this campaign isn’t short enough for Gabriel Gomez.
A week before the special election for U.S. Senate, Gomez is something of a mystery man. Ask him any question, and the answer is he was a SEAL. Ask him again and he’ll say he’s had a successful career in the business world. But he won’t talk about what he did in the SEALs, and he won’t talk about what he worked on in the private sector.
At an ed board this week, I noted that he’d never held public office, never been involved in public policy, never been a legislator and, other than the military, never worked in government. In the private sector, would you hire someone with so little direct experience? What if you needed heart surgery?
He said serving in the Senate isn’t the same thing as heart surgery. OK, but that doesn’t make it an easy job. Doing it right takes brains, initiative, courage, judgement, and a dozen other skills. What in Gomez’ background shows he has those things? He won’t say.
But Gomez does show a penchant for saying things that just aren’t true. In the first debate he declared Markey had authored no significant legislation in 20 years. In the final debate, he declared that “the people have a clear idea of who I am” and offered to put his resume up against Markey’s anytime.
“It’s a question of trust,” Gomez said.
Markey did a terrible job of defending his record, but he almost shouldn’t have to, because the more voters see of mystery man Gomez, the more he looks like an empty flight jacket.
What, exactly, was the Obama Regime thinking when it got the bright idea of having bilateral negotiations with the Taliban in Afghanistan? As might be expected, the Taliban got the immediate message that the US isn’t even pretending any longer that Karzai is anything other than a puppet, and the Taliban remember the delightful outcome of the withdrawal of American troops from Vietnam in 1973 and see the joys of history repeating itself. Karzai may be a puppet, but he’s no fool, and he knows when he’s being sold out. (maybe karzai should refuse to engage in negotiations until settlement buildings on occupied Indian lands near Washington is stopped) But the broader message is that Obama is willing to sell out friends and allies for political expediency, which is a great message to send to places like Israel, who are being told to be patient about Iran. In the meantime, looks like the Obama Regime, which is in a scandal ridden death spiral, is about to have the tail wag the dog, as he marches us into war in Syria. If the United States has a foreign policy, other than glorification of the regime on an ad hoc basis, I’d like someone to explain it to me.
Congress should launch an immediate investigation into the death of Michael Hastings, the award-winning journalist and critic of the Obama Regime who died in a suspicious car accident near Los Angeles on Tuesday morning.
As I’ve said before, you don’t have to criminalize unhealthy behavior to reduce it. Case in point is the greatest public health success story since the development of antibiotics, vaccinations and sewage collection and treatment systems.
Smoking tobacco among American adults has now dropped to 18 percent, the CDC reports. Considering nicotine is a contender for the most addictive substance known to science, that’s pretty impressive. Here’s how the numbers have changed over the last 50 years:
Smoking Prevalence Among U.S. Adults, 1955–2010
(as a percent of population, 18 years of age and older)
The “explainer-in-chief” came to Worcester Saturday to fire up the Ed Markey campaign. As was the case when he spoke to the Democratic National Convention last year, Bill Clinton did a better job of making his candidate’s case than the candidate himself.
Among the points he made that I thought worth writing down:
- During his presidency, the earnings of the bottom 20 percent rose as much as for the top 20 percent. but he said he’s even more proud that 100 times as many people moved from poverty into the middle class in his presidency than under Reagan.
- In 2000, Jim McGovern came to me with a program to tie foreign food aid to school attendance, just like we do in our own school lunch program, Clinton said. “I found $300 million of your money to fund that program. Jim McGovern is personally responsible for sending 6 million poor kids to school.”
- 300,000 jobs were created because Ed Markey brought competition to the internet and telecommunications industry through the 1996 Telecommunications Reform Act, which he was proud to sign. But it wouldn’t have happened without Ed Markey.
- “I didn’t know we were importing assault weapons from China until Ed Markey told me, and we stopped it.”
- Affordable Care Act: “Massachusetts proves we can make it work,” Clinton said. “And we don’t need another member of Congress praying for America to fail.”
- The largest health care organization in greater DC has been switching away from fee-for-service. It saved $36 million in 2011 and $98 million in 2012. This matters. Americans spend 17.8 percent of GDP on health care, the most among developed countries. The number two country spends 11.8 percent of its GDP on health care. The difference each year adds up to $1 trillion.
- “You have as qualified a candidate for U.S. Senate as I’ve seen in a month of Sundays.”
Both on the pundit circle in D.C. and to some extent on this blog, there is a perception that protection of privacy rights must come from Washington D.C., and that if Congress doesn’t do it, and if the Regime won’t back down, then we’re all just screwed.
But people forget the 9th Amendment to the United States Constitution, which states that “the enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.” And then there is that pesky 10th Amendment, which states that “the powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.”
Much of the discussion of checking the abuses of the Regime is not taking place in Washington–its taking place in state capitals of both blue and red states. The notion is this–Congress can pass whatever laws it wants, and the Regime can do or not do what it wants, but the state legislatures of the states, respectively, are a valid check on abuse of natural rights. Thus, Congress can create the FISA court, but a state can refuse to do business with any corporation which agrees to comply with an unconstitutional court. Thus, a state could very well protect its citizens by saying to Verizon, “no contracts with the state of ___ without a pledge not to comply with the FISA Court warrants…” There are other things a state can do, and it is worth while to check out Daniel A. Farber’s book Retained by the People for a more thorough discussion. There is already some movement afoot in California and Texas to determine what the states can do to protect their own citizens, and it will be interesting to watch the debate unfold.
Remember 1861? I wonder if the Regime is ready to send troops to California to enforce the right to issue FISA warrants?
My column on America’s warfare by targeted killings is here. The situation presents quite a quandary.
Obama didn’t create the Joint Special Operations Command, described by a retired lieutenant colonel as “almost industrial-scale counterterrorism killing machine,” but he expanded and embraced it, and he codified a system of identifying “high value targets” for routine assassination anywhere on the global battlefield.
Who’ll stop this madness? Congress shows no interest in stopping it. The defense and intelligence establishment is behind it. JSOC has been the path to fame and promotion for generals like Petreaus, McChrystal and McRaven. The people love wars fought by hit squads and drones, wars that don’t produce American casualties. The culture celebrates SEAL teams and other bands of pumped-up warriors who blow up the bad guys.
The only one with a chance of getting the war on terror genies back in the bottle – reining in the NSA snoopers, demobilizing JSOC – is the president who said a month ago that “a perpetual war – through drones or Special Forces or troop deployments – will prove self-defeating, and alter our country in troubling ways.”
Gail Collins puts a human face on the NSA data-mining program, reminding us of Brandon Mayfield, the Oregon man bugged, harassed, arrested and exonerated because a fingerprint showed up at the scene of the Madrid subway bombings that kinda, if-you-squinted looked a little like his. Mayfield had never been to Spain, but on the plus side, he had married an Egyptian and converted to Islam.
So the secret FISA court issued a secret warrant allowing agents to secretly invade his home – rifling through his daughter’s computer along the way. Eventually, saner heads – in Spain – prevailed, Mayfield got an apology and a $2 million settlement.
It’s just one case, as Collins says, and the program is slightly more legal than it was back then. But since the feds insist on everything being secret, we have no way of knowing either how many successes the NSA has had or how many innocent people have been hurt by it.
Meanwhile, I’m starting to wonder what it takes to shield my emails and web-browsing from the data miners at Google as well as the data-miners at the NSA. Not that I have anything to hide – though as a journalist, the thought that using keywords or visiting a website on some secret watch list might flag me for special scrutiny does have a chilling effect – but I find the idea of being micro-targeted, whether by advertisers or the state, just creepy.
Anyone know of a secure web-browser or an email program that will keep all my keystrokes from going into Google’s massive database?
I don’t wade into Framingham’s affairs as much as I might like, mostly because most of our readers don’t live here. But I waded into a local matter in today’s editorial, firing back at the NIMBYs opposing a proposal to turn the lovely Marist Brother’s property on Pleasant Street into a lovely campus for the treatment of eating disorders and depression.
Many will consider us wrong on this matter, but at least we’re consistent. We supported locating a methadone clinic in downtown Framingham, near a residential area, over the objections of neighbors and the local political establishment. We supported a group home in a Southside neighborhood for kids with a different eating disorder, Prader-Willi syndrome, over the objections of neighbors. We supported Wayside’s new campus for troubled adolescents in Rob’s old neighborhood.
The Pleasant Street proposal was an easy call for me. When one former town official wrote to me complaining that letting a health care business into an area zoned residential would destroy “the integrity of the neighborhood,” I responded that, as a fan of multi-use zoning, I’m not a big fan of the old-style “only this can go here, only that can go there” zoning adopted back in the ’60s. The Marist parcel is a lovely island of green in a sea of single family subdivisions. In my view, replacing it with yet another 40-home subdivision would destroy the integrity of the neighborhood.
Besides, the opponents have trotted out a particularly ugly line of attack, using the Sandy Hook massacre to declare that the depressed, anorexic women seeking help at Walden Behavioral Care endanger the children in the school down the street. I’m glad to have a chance to take the other side.
The latest piece of crap to come out of the Regime is the idea that the disclosure of material by Snowden has caused the terrorists to change their tactics. As Vashnu Prudahar points out in the Mumbai Independent this morning, that would explain why the Boston Marathon terrorists weren’t picked up by PRISM. Oh, wait, that was before PRISM, he points out. As Prudahar notes, while many Americans were caught off guard by the NSA scandal, the terrorists have known for over five years about government monitoring, and the Boston Marathon bombing is proof positive that terrorists adapt quickly and quietly without stimulus from leakers.
I pointed out in several blog posts that the Boston Marathon bombing is a state murder case, not a federal terrorism case. My point on those threads was that the Boston Marathon bombers seemed to have avoided all the instrumentalities of interstate commerce and communication. In short, NSA snooping was unlikely to have ever tracked these folks, since the modification of tactics happened faster than the modification of counter terrorism. So, what’s next? Listening devices in every home?
The Regime must think we are all really, really stupid (and not just those who voted for the Regime). Clearly, the terrorists didn’t wake up last week and change tactics. The biggest threat to our troops in recent years have been IEDs. The “I” stands for “improvised.” That’s the biggest tool in the arsenal of the terrorist. When it becomes apparent that drones fixate on cell phone signals, they stop using cell phone. When cell members start vanishing after making a call on a Verizon land line in Virginia, the terrorists stop using land lines. Disclosure doesn’t force a change of tactics–it simply reveals how ineffective our counter terrorism tactics are.
A tactic I’d like to see change is an end to the constant stream of dishonesty pouring out of the White House.