by Fausta Rodriguez Wertz

According to many Obama supporters, pretty much all criticism of Obama is racist; you can add the New York Times, that arm of the VRWC (Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy) to the racist list: Today they have Bruce Ackerman in the op-ed page,
Obama’s Betrayal of the Constitution

PRESIDENT OBAMA’s declaration of war against the terrorist group known as the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria marks a decisive break in the American constitutional tradition. Nothing attempted by his predecessor, George W. Bush, remotely compares in imperial hubris.

That was the opening salvo; Ackerman ends with,

He is acting on the proposition that the president, in his capacity as commander in chief, has unilateral authority to declare war.

In taking this step, Mr. Obama is not only betraying the electoral majorities who twice voted him into office on his promise to end Bush-era abuses of executive authority. He is also betraying the Constitution he swore to uphold.

You could argue, as some of the NYT commenters, that Obama has not declared that the U.S. is going to war against a nation, just that “We will degrade, and ultimately destroy, ISIL through a comprehensive and sustained counterterrorism strategy.”

Whatever that means.

For now, Obama’s sending only “an additional 475 servicemembers to Iraq,” but “these American forces will not have a combat mssion” to fight “terrorists [who] are unique in their brutality.”

John Kerry assures us it’s not war, “it is a major counter-terrorism operation.” David Corn calls it a “nuanced war”.

I guess that explains why the Turks, the Germans, and the Brits are not joining in Obama’s broad coalition of partners. Germany will provide support to the Kurds, but Germany and the UK won’t be providing airpower for American airstrikes. They are not nuanced enough.

Then there’s Obama’s line, delivered with a distinct lack of affect, about

This strategy of taking out terrorists who threaten us, while supporting partners on the front lines, is one that we have successfully pursued in Yemen and Somalia for years.

Yemen and Somalia, two failed, strategically marginal, states, with active untamed insurgencies, while, as Dr. Krauthammer points out,

The Islamic State controls a vast territory in the heart of oil-rich Mesopotamia, threatening everything of importance in the Middle East.

How will this glaring mismatch of ends and means all turn out? As Pete put it,

This is by design because no matter what President Obama and the Democrats say, the only way to beat ISIS is boots on the ground and they know it. However they are determined to avoid that responsibility.

Richard Fernandez is gloomy, “My own view on the matter can be summarized in a word: Libya. Libya on a gigantic scale.”

Clearly, the Islamic State is Islamic. What is not clear is whether the Commander in Chief realizes that the Constitution does not grant him unilateral authority to declare war . . . because, nuanced or not, war is war.

Fausta Rodriguez Wertz writes on U.S. and Latin American politics, news and culture at Fausta’s blog.

John Hinderaker summarizes

Milwaukee District Attorney John Chisholm, a Democrat, has subjected Governor Scott Walker and nearly every conservative group in Wisconsin to a four-year campaign of harassment in the form of a “John Doe” investigation that has now been branded as illegal and enjoined by a federal judge. That case is on appeal

Under Wisconsin law, a “John Doe” is essentially a gag order, since it allows prosecutors, with a judge’s approval, to require complete secrecy from all involved. It has the effect of preventing targets or witnesses from publicly defending themselves or responding to damaging leaks.

Stuart Taylor, Jr. of the American Media Institute reports that the District attorney’s wife drove case against Wis. Gov. Walker, insider says

Now a longtime Chisholm subordinate reveals for the first time in this article that the district attorney may have had personal motivations for his investigation. Chisholm told him and others that Chisholm’s wife, Colleen, a teacher’s union shop steward at St. Francis high school, a public school near Milwaukee, had been repeatedly moved to tears by Walker’s anti-union policies in 2011, according to the former staff prosecutor in Chisholm’s office. Chisholm said in the presence of the former prosecutor that his wife “frequently cried when discussing the topic of the union disbanding and the effect it would have on the people involved … She took it personally.”

Eric O’Keefe, one of the directors of the Wisconsin Club for Growth, has argued that the investigation violates First Amendment protections on free speech.

Guy Benson agrees, and links to former FEC official Hans Von Spakovsky, who (emphasis added)

Last week, I joined three other former members of the Federal Election Commission in filing an amicus (“friend of the court”) brief for the organizations unfairly targeted. Based on our extensive experience interpreting federal campaign finance law, we argue that issue advocacy is at the core of our rights to free speech, to assemble and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

To allow an investigation of issue advocacy based simply on allegations of collaboration between elected officials and the public would chill core political speech. The right of citizens and their membership associations to directly engage elected leaders is all the more important on politically charged questions of public policy. Such collaboration is the norm in the political arena, where there is extensive interaction between citizens groups and elected officials about proposed legislation. In fact, such coordination is vital to a functioning democracy.

The Left is engaging in a campaign to criminalize political disagreement; whether that conflicts with civil liberties doesn’t matter to them. After all, they are guided by rule #12:

“Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it.” Cut off the support network and isolate the target from sympathy. Go after people and not institutions; people hurt faster than institutions.

Fausta Rodriguez Wertz writes on U.S. and Latin American politics, news and culture at Fausta’s Blog.

by Fausta Rodriguez Wertz

As Russia continues its grasping, President Obama is in Wales for the NATO meeting . . . but he was “noticeably absent” from the start of the meeting,

Obama was late to the Ukraine meeting because of other meetings on Afghanistan and a meeting with King Abdullah of Jordan, according to a White House official.

Considering that NATO meetings are scheduled months in advance, the conflicting schedule signals incompetence, or, more tactfully, poor management skills.

But fret not, he more than made up for being late by making sure you could spot him in the group picture,

This has been a typical week for the Obama administration. Joe Biden, who has been Vice President for almost six years and was Senator for thirty six, gave a speech on Labor Day saying, “It’s time to take back America”,

From whom?

Taking back America is an explicit call to punish the man who’s making this very call.

Too bad Joe doesn’t realize that, just as he hasn’t explained how we’ll follow ISIS “to the gates of hell until they are brought to justice,” considering the plan to reduce the military to pre-World War II levels.

An aside: Am I alone in wondering if following ISIS “to the gates of hell” is part of the leading from behind foreign policy? Shouldn’t it be chasing ISIS “to the gates of hell”? And what about the “until they are brought to justice” part? Whose justice? What kind of justice can there be, besides total extinction, when you’re dealing with a deadly enemy?

But I digress.

Over in Nantucket, Secretary of State John Kerry was kiteboarding while the world burns but took some time to think about global warming, so, on Wednesday he connected the dots:

The Secretary of State pointed to Scripture, claiming it is the United States Biblical “responsibility” to “confront climate change” to help protect “vulnerable Muslim-majority countries.” Kerry did not, however, cite Bible passages to support his argument that this responsibility “comes from God.”

Never mind that John Kerry is as familiar with the Bible, any bible, as he is with the Koran or the Constitution; “Vulnerable Muslim-majority countries” have a heck of a lot more to immediately worry about than climate change.

As the IBD editorial put it,

Great leadership isn’t necessarily about intelligence, expertise or background. It’s more about wisdom and judgment.

Americans should be very concerned indeed.

Fausta Rodriguez Wertz writes on US and Latin American politics and culture at Fausta’s blog.

by Fausta Rodriguez Wertz

For his Labor Day speech, President Obama floated the concept of “immigration rights“:

Cynicism is a bad choice. Hope is the better choice. Hope is what gives us courage. Hope is what gave soldiers courage to storm a beach. Hope is what gives young people the strength to march for women’s rights, and worker’s rights, and civil rights, and voting rights, and gay rights, and immigration rights.

Let’s go back fifty years or so, to the days when union activist Cesar Chavez was advocating farmworkers’ rights:

Mr. Chavez, perhaps the best-known Mexican-American activist, fought for better wages and conditions for workers but held complex and evolving views on the status of unauthorized immigrants, some of which would be at odds with the changes many Hispanics and others are seeking today.

What the NYT reporter euphemistically calls “complex and evolving views” was decades-long opposition,

These days, Chávez is revered among Mexican-American activists and others as a civil rights figure. Yet that’s not who he was. Chavez was primarily a labor leader, and so one of his main concerns was keeping illegal immigrants from competing with and undercutting union members either by accepting lower wages or crossing picket lines. When he pulled workers out of the field during a strike, the last thing he wanted was a crew of illegal immigrant workers showing up to do those jobs and take away his leverage.

So Chavez decided to do something about it. According to numerous historical accounts, Chavez ordered union members to call the Immigration and Naturalization Service and report illegal immigrants who were working in the fields so that they could be deported. Some UFW officials were also known to picket INS offices to demand a crackdown on illegal immigrants.

Exactly what does Obama mean by immigration rights? asks John Hinderaker

Legally, of course, no one has a right to violate our immigration laws, whether the Obama administration enforces them or not. So what does the president have in mind here? It seems clear that Obama isn’t suggesting that immigrants are somehow being denied their actual rights under American law. Certainly he made no such explicit claim. Rather, his point appears to be that some people–not everyone in the world presumably, but some unspecified group of people–have a “right” to enter the United States, or stay here, even though it is illegal to do so under U.S. law, as long as Barack Obama opposes the law in question.

“Immigration rights”, for whom? It doesn’t matter, as long as Obama’s talking points are repeated.

For a Labor Day speech, however, it’s worth remembering that Chavez recognized that flooding the labor market with low-wage, low-skill laborers worked against his unionized farmworkers.

Fausta Rodriguez Wertz writes on U.S. and Latin American news, politics and culture at Fausta’s Blog.

by Fausta Rodriguez Wertz

NYT: Obama Urges Calm in Face of Crises in Ukraine and Syria, while admitting that

“We don’t have a strategy yet,” he said. “I think what I’ve seen in some of the news reports suggests that folks are getting a little further ahead of where we’re at than we currently are.”

Well, some folks indeed “are getting a little further ahead of where we’re at than we currently are.” As Richard Fernandez so aptly puts it, Predators have always gone for the weak and defenseless prey from the beginning of time.

Putin:
Ukrainian PM: ‘Russian Military Boots Are on Ukrainian Ground’

ISIL:
ISIL has claimed responsibility for bombing attacks in Iraq going back to 2010.

ISIS:
WARNING: GRUESOME PHOTO
Continue reading “The audacity of taupe”

by Fausta Rodriguez Wertz

Ah, Warren Buffett. The Oracle of Omaha, loved by American liberals every time he claims to be paying a lower rate than his secretary (which was debunked, by the way), the guy after whom the Buffett rule is named. Buffett orchestrated Burger King Worldwide Inc.’s acquisition of Tim Hortons Inc. (a coffee-and-doughnut chain), and Burger King will move its Miami, FL, headquarters to lower-tax Canada. BK’s operational headquarters will remain in Miami (emphasis added):

If the deal goes through, Berkshire will end up paying taxes on its income from the preferred securities at the 35% U.S. corporate tax rate, rather than the 14%, after deductions, that an insurance company such as Berkshire would be liable for under the originally envisioned structure.

Mr. Buffett, who helped finance 3G Capital’s buyout of H.J. Heinz Co. last year and has said publicly he would like to team up again, negotiated a deal that would cover the cost of Berkshire’s higher tax bill, the person familiar with his thinking said. He wanted Berkshire to be compensated for the more than $50 million in additional taxes it would pay because of the planned move to Canada.

Buffett managed a deal that not only minimizes the corporate tax rate, it actually compensates Berkshire for the taxes it would pay because of the move.

Sweet.

Of course, his fans still assert that No, Warren Buffett Is Not a Tax Hypocrite on Burger King, since

suggestions of hypocrisy ring false because Buffett has never, ever held himself out as person who pays more taxes than he has to. The whole point of his story about his tax rate vs. his secretary’s is that he was allowed to pay less than he thought he should. He never said he was writing a check to the Treasury to make up the difference.

Back in 2012 I was pointing out that

Until Warren coughs up his personal tax returns, we should dismiss anything he says as hypocritical propaganda.

What I left out is, hypocritical propaganda coming from a firm believer in crony capitalism.

The issue is that of competitiveness. Canada is attracting investors because of its lower corporate tax rates. In the U.S. we have the highest corporate tax rate in the world; the convoluted, Byzantine tax code forces businesses to spend millions of dollars that could otherwise be used for research and development, salaries and manpower, equipment, and investment. Businesses have the obligation to legally maximize their investment. If that means moving overseas, they do.

As one of the commenters in the Wall Street Journal said, “Money goes where it is well treated.”

In the meantime, did anyone find out if Berkshire Hathaway paid up the taxes it owed since 2002?

Fausta Rodriguez Wertz writes on U.S. and Latin American politics and culture at Fausta’s Blog.

by Fausta Rodriguez Wertz

Venezuela, sliding further into Cuban-like totalitarian Communism, faces severe food shortages. Take a look at the lines at a food distribution center:

What next?
Venezuela Proposes Fingerprinting Grocery Shoppers

President Nicolas Maduro says a mandatory fingerprinting system is being implemented at grocery stores to combat food shortages by keeping people from buying too much of a single item. He calls it an “anti-fraud system” like the fingerprint scan the country uses for voting.

In a country where accusations of electoral fraud have plagued several elections, that’s almost risible, but I digress.

Questions of where the broke and corrupt regime will find the funds to equip and maintain the machines to scan fingerprints at every grocery store (considering it’s not maintaining the government-owned oil producing monopoly, PDVSA) aside, the issue is that of control, and failure. Failed governments are really good at only one thing: controlling and oppressing the people. Juan Cristobal Nagel writes of a Venezuelan facing onerous currency controls while visiting him abroad:

Watching this hero of mine, this towering figure from my youth, reduced to going from one ATM to another trying to see if “pasó la tarjeta,” if their card was actually working, kind of broke my heart. It brought home the inherent perversity of a system like Cadivi. He couldn’t really enjoy his vacation, because he was always worried that he wouldn’t be able to pay off his hotel bill, his car rental, his incidentals. You never knew when the government would pull the plug on your financial independence, when they would revoke the permission to use your money wherever you please.

You, my gentle reader, may wonder, what doe this have to do with you, who may not even have met a Venezuelan, let alone been to the country, in your whole life?

Well, let’s go back to Nagel’s post (emphasis added):

Sometimes, you give up your freedoms because you have to, because they are taken away from you. That is the case in Venezuela. But the least you can do is be mindful of it. This thing from last night? It’s just the corollary of what you’ve been subjected to.

Here in the U.S. we’re not as complacent with the concept of “you give up your freedoms because you have to, because they are taken away from you”; but first we must be mindful.

Fausta Rodriguez Wertz writes on U.S. and Latin American politics and culture at Fausta’s Blog.

by Fausta Rodriguez Wertz

Thomas Jefferson, farmer, architect, at age 33 one of the writers of the Declaration of Independence and later one of the framers of the U. S. Constitution, ambassador, and President, is known as the sage of Monticello, after the essay written by Inez Nellie Canfield McFee in 1913 (and part 6 of a 1981 biography by Dumas Malone).

Jefferson’s talents were many and bright, a true son of the Age of Enlightenment, for it is Jefferson’s work that helped bring about American democracy.

It is then particularly insulting to have The Economist draw a parallel between Thomas Jefferson and José Mujica.

“José who?”, you may ask.

José Mujica, president of Uruguay, a.k.a. Pepe, which The Economist exults as The sage of Montevideo.

About the only thing Jefferson and Mujica may have in common is their ownership of farms, albeit, in Mujica’s carefully-burnished image as the world’s ‘poorest president’, Mujica’s estate is no Monticello.

Indeed, the friend of George Soros has a nasty background, which even The Economist can’t ignore,

Another ingredient in the mystique is his extraordinary personal history. In the 1960s he was a leader of the Tupamaros, an urban guerrilla movement.

And just what was Pepe after?

Contrary to leftist myth, Mr Mujica did not fight a dictatorship. The Tupamaros bombed, kidnapped and murdered in a bid to turn democratic Uruguay into a version of Fidel Castro’s Cuba.

The result?

They succeeded only in helping to precipitate a right-wing military takeover (after Mr Mujica was jailed).

The fellational “Bello”, author of The Economist piece, considers Mujica “Latin America’s most original leader.”

National Book Award winner and Yale University professor Carlos Eire, who knows a thing or two about Fidel Castro’s Cuba through personal experience, is not as kind on Pepe: Uruguay’s President Mujica: Avatar of all things Latrine, and comments about the article,

If you want to know why so many countries in Ibero-America deserve to be called Latrine American rather than Latin American, read this article

But hey, The Economist is copacetic with Pepe’s “most original” leadership.

Fausta Rodriguez Wertz writes on U.S. and Latin American politics and Culture at Fausta’s Blog.

by Fausta Rodriguez Wertz

In view of the genocide against Christians, the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, which traditionally keeps a low profile, issued the following (emphasis added):

This Pontifical Council, together with all those engaged in interreligious dialogue, followers of all religions, and all men and women of good will, can only unambiguously denounce and condemn these practices which bring shame on humanity:

-the massacre of people on the sole basis of their religious affiliation;

-the despicable practice of beheading, crucifying and hanging bodies in public places;

-the choice imposed on Christians and Yezidis between conversion to Islam, payment of a tax (jizya) or forced exile;

-the forced expulsion of tens of thousands of people, including children, elderly, pregnant women and the sick;

-the abduction of girls and women belonging to the Yezidi and Christian communities as spoils of war (sabaya);

-the imposition of the barbaric practice of infibulation;

-the destruction of places of worship and Christian and Muslim burial places;

-the forced occupation or desecration of churches and monasteries;

-the removal of crucifixes and other Christian religious symbols as well as those of other religious communities;

-the destruction of a priceless Christian religious and cultural heritage;

-indiscriminate violence aimed at terrorizing people to force them to surrender or flee.

No cause, and certainly no religion, can justify such barbarity.
. . .
The dramatic plight of Christians, Yezidis and other religious communities and ethnic minorities in Iraq requires a clear and courageous stance on the part of religious leaders, especially Muslims, as well as those engaged in interreligious dialogue and all people of good will. All must be unanimous in condemning unequivocally these crimes and in denouncing the use of religion to justify them

While the persecution of Christians in Muslim lands is nothing new, the horrific actions demand a universal condemnation of ISIS. John Allen explains,

It’s the lived reality of the new caliphate proclaimed by the Islamic State, which means that the Vatican and other Christian leaders are no longer so worried about the aftermath of a conflict. They’re much more preoccupied by the here and now, and thus more inclined to back anyone who seems prepared to do something about it.

It is not, however, a general call to arms; Ed Morrissey comments,

This looks, Allen said, like the Vatican’s attempt to “cash in on 50 years of ecumenical outreach” in order to marginalize ISIS. The Council’s question is a challenge to their partners, demanding some investment in the risks of peace and tolerance. Pope Francis’ last two predecessors both took a lot of criticism for their efforts to reach out in dialogue with Muslim leaders. Now it’s time to see whether those leaders and their successors have the same fortitude, or whether these have just been empty gestures all along. If after decades of engagement these leaders cannot bring themselves to condemn the forced conversion, beheadings, ethnoreligious cleansing and flat-out genocides of ISIS, then it leaves very little value in continued engagement from the Vatican’s perspective.

Indeed.

Fausta Rodriguez Wertz writes on U.S. and Latin American politics and culture at Fausta’s Blog.

by Fausta Rodriguez Wertz

Nicaraguan liberation theology advocate and member of Daniel Ortega’s inner circle Miguel D’Escoto has been restored to the priesthood.

He had been suspended by John Paul II (who knew a thing or two about Communists) in 1985:

D’Escoto served as the Republic of Nicaragua’s Minister for Foreign Affairs for more than a decade and currently acts as Senior Adviser on Foreign Affairs to President Daniel Ortega Saavedra. He is still a member of the Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN), a political movement rooted in Marxist philosophy and which once had ties to the Soviet Communist party.

D’Escoto received the 1987 “Lenin Peace Prize” from the Communist Party of the Soviet Union.

As head of the U.N. General Assembly, D’Escoto accused Israel of genocide in 1999,

“The number of victims in Gaza is increasing by the day… The situation is untenable. It’s genocide,” d’Escoto said at the UN in New York.

An unrepentant, active Sandinista, serving in the administration of anti-American alleged child rapist Ortega, reinstated?

The Code of Canon Law prohibits priests from holding partisan political offices.

D’Escoto continues to hold office in both a political party and a regime.

Fausta Rodriguez Wertz writes on U.S. and Latin American politics and culture at Fausta’s Blog.

 

Update:   DTG:  It’s not often that I find myself in disagreement with one of my writers, but given that this priest is elderly and asked for reinstatement for the right to say the holy sacrifice of the mass again before his death, not to mention that Francis’ pontificate is known for pushing repentance it is entirely consistent with  his methods to give a person another chance, particularly when they’ve served a suspension of nearly 3 decades.