And this is the thanks they get

At the height of the war in Iraq, the military offered large bonuses for experienced troops who chose to stay in despite the grueling deployment tempo, the risk to life and limb, and the effects on their families.

But Uncle Sam always reserves the right to change the terms of the deal whenever he wants:

Nearly 10,000 California National Guard soldiers have been ordered to repay huge enlistment bonuses a decade after signing up to serve in Iraq and Afghanistan, a newspaper reported Saturday…

A federal investigation in 2010 found thousands of bonuses and student loan payments were improperly doled out to California Guard soldiers. About 9,700 current and retired soldiers received notices to repay some or all of their bonuses with more than $22 million recovered so far.

Soldiers said they feel betrayed at having to repay the money.  ((Editor’s note: THEY WERE!))

These bonuses were used to keep people in,” said Christopher Van Meter, a 42-year-old former Army captain and Iraq veteran who was awarded a Purple Heart. “People like me just got screwed.”

The government breaks its promises to We the People on a regular basis.  But this is an unusually egregious case.  To entice a veteran to stay in uniform during increasingly unpopular (and poorly managed) wars, have some of them wounded, crippled or killed, then wait a decade and say “now you have to pay it all back” is COMPLETELY UNACCEPTABLE.

Why isn’t the government of California on the hook for “overpaying” its National Guard?  Why should these soldiers suffer because someone made a promise that was not theirs to make?  Which bureaucrats will lose their jobs over fraudulently recruiting?  (I know… I’m not holding my breath.)  Why is it there’s always money and favors to give to illegal immigrants or foreign terror regimes, but never any to take care of Americans?

There have been too many broken promises, too much corruption, too many of our politicians on the take, and nothing for the average, law-abiding citizen of this nation.  Our self-appointed elites are so stupid that now they’re bashing thousands of combat veterans who may be wondering which way to point the rifle next time.  That’s just one of dozens of reasons why I’m convinced the United States is a dead country walking, and will soon collapse with a heartrending crash.  Why would anyone defend it, when this is the thanks those defenders get for putting their lives on the line?

For what little good it may do, there is an online petition to the White House asking to forgive these ‘debts’ that should never have been levied.  You can add your name here.

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Bathrooms and battle lines

It would appear some people have had enough of the LGBQXYCRAZYNUTS agenda:

A yearlong battle over gay and transgender rights that turned into a costly, ugly war of words between this city’s lesbian mayor and social conservatives ended Tuesday as voters repealed ((by a two-to-one margin…  — Jemison)) an anti-discrimination ordinance that had attracted attention from the White House, sports figures and Hollywood celebrities.

The City Council passed the measure in May, but it was in limbo after opponents succeeded, following a lengthy court fight, in putting the matter to a referendum.

Supporters said the ordinance was similar to those approved in 200 other cities and prohibited bias in housing, employment, city contracting and business services for 15 protected classes, including race, age, sexual orientation and gender identity. Opponents said the measure would allow men claiming to be women to enter women’s bathrooms and inflict harm, and that simple message — “No Men in Women’s Bathrooms” — was plastered on signs and emphasized in television and radio ads, turning the debate from one about equal rights to one about protecting women and girls from sexual predators.

But the queer need never fear: Uncle Sam is likely ready to swoop in and teach these local ‘reactionaries’ a lesson in Federal power:

A school district near Chicago, Palatine 211, provides numerous accommodations for transgender students. The district calls the students by requested names, honors selected gender (including allowing them to play on the sports teams of the gender they identify as belonging to), and permits them to use single-sex bathrooms, since stalls ensure privacy.

But the federal government has decided that the district is still guilty of violating Title IX, the law prohibiting sex-based discrimination, over certain locker room restrictions.

“District 211 is not excluding transgender students from their gender-identified locker room,” said district superintendent Daniel Cates in a statement. “Though our position has been inaccurately reported, a transgender student may use his or her gender-identified locker room simply by utilizing individual measures of privacy when changing clothes or taking showers.”

That’s unacceptable to the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights

In short, the Federal government won’t be happy until the school allows a very confused boy to be in a complete state of undress around similarly unclad girls without any privacy barriers involved.

If parents were doing this, we’d call it child abuse

Since this is allegedly about ‘equal rights,’ why do the rights of teenage girls not to have to be around naked boys never come into this?  I don’t care what “it” thinks it is, biology is biology (“you don’t want to be anti-science, do you?!”), and no amount even of cosmetic mutilation will remove that pesky Y chromosome.  To borrow a phrase from our opponents, this law HAD to be overturned, “for the children.”

Two conclusions should be obvious from this:

  • Leaving your kids in public, federally funded schools is now tantamount to parental malpractice (as the Instapundit has been saying for some time now).  GET THEM OUT — NOW.
  • The Federal Government is not only NOT representative of the people’s worldview and wishes, it is actively hostile to it… and should be delegitimized accordingly.

It would literally be a hell of a thing if the straw that finally breaks the camel’s back and winds up getting States and localities to actively resist federal power is the drive to defend daughters from indecent exposure at schools.

Then again, defending the virtue and honor of women (who themselves are willing to remain honorable and virtuous) has long been a hallmark of civilization… so maybe ours isn’t quite dead just yet.  If nothing else, the escalation of nihilistic and barbaric behavior over the past couple decades is finally starting to generate a response.  Let’s just hope and pray it isn’t too late.

Sad symbolism

A couple of centuries ago, some fairly wise fellows gathered in Philadelphia to hammer out a document that, once augmented by the Bill of Rights, quite clearly enumerated protections of the liberties Americans had so recently won.  Those protections include a presumption of innocence until proven guilty, and restraints on the ability of the State to simply seize what it wants.

Sadly, the Founders wouldn’t recognize Philly today:

Under civil forfeiture, property owners do not have to be convicted of a crime, or even charged with one, to permanently lose their property. Instead, the government can forfeit a property if it’s found to “facilitate” a crime, no matter how tenuous the connection…

Philadelphia law enforcement has transformed a once obscure legal process into a racket that treats Americans as little more than ATMs. Every year, the city collects almost $6 million in revenue from forfeiture. According to data collected by the Institute for Justice, between 2002 and 2012, the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office seized and forfeited over 3,000 vehicles, nearly 1,200 homes and other real estate properties and $44 million in cash…

Civil forfeiture is a nationwide problem. ((That’s an understatement — Jemison))  But the scale and scope of Philadelphia’s forfeiture machine is practically unrivaled on the municipal level…

Incredibly, property owners battling civil forfeiture have fewer rights than those actually accused of committing a crime. Unlike in criminal cases, the government does not need to prove “beyond a reasonable doubt” to prevail. Instead, once prosecutors show merely that there was a link between a property and some alleged criminal activity owners must prove their innocence. Moreover, since these cases are in civil court, owners facing forfeiture do not have a right to an attorney.

Read the whole thing, and check out the links to additional information about this organized plundering known as civil forfeiture.

Land of the free?  This is not the country you are looking for…

 

The tax man’s cut

Compared to the median American salary, many Federal employees tend to do fairly well.  In fact, the District of Corruption (or “Capitol”) is doing quite well economically, compared to the Districts rest of the country.  But wait — there’s more! TM

report from the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration shows that between Oct. 1, 2010, and Dec. 31, 2012, the IRS paid $2.8 million in bonuses to employees cited in the past year for such things as drug use, making violent threats, fraudulently claiming unemployment benefits, misusing government credit cards and — get this — failing to pay their taxes.

The report said more than 1,100 employees who failed to pay their taxes received discretionary awards of more than $1 million in cash bonuses and more than 10,000 hours in extra paid vacation.

At least five employees received performance awards after being disciplined for intentionally under-reporting their tax liabilities for multiples years, paying taxes late and under-reporting income.

I wonder how many truly timely medical appointments $2.8 million could have provided at the Veterans Administration hospital in Phoenix, Arizona:

At least 40 U.S. veterans died waiting for appointments at the Phoenix Veterans Affairs Health Care system, many of whom were placed on a secret waiting list.

The secret list was part of an elaborate scheme designed by Veterans Affairs managers in Phoenix who were trying to hide that 1,400 to 1,600 sick veterans were forced to wait months to see a doctor, according to a recently retired top VA doctor and several high-level sources.

For six months, CNN has been reporting on extended delays in health care appointments suffered by veterans across the country and who died while waiting for appointments and care. But the new revelations about the Phoenix VA are perhaps the most disturbing and striking to come to light thus far…

To summarize: those in charge of taxing the rest of us can commit all kinds of offenses, and get REWARDED with more of our tax dollars.  Meanwhile, those who bore the burden of our nation’s many ill-advised recent foreign adventures are stranded deliberately by a bureaucracy far more concerned with providing good reports than good supports.

It’s said you can tell a lot about a person’s priorities by looking at their spending.   What do these two reports tell us about Uncle Sam?  Sadly, it also tells us a lot that with this revelation capping a particularly revealing year, there aren’t massive demonstrations demanding dismantlement of the IRS.

No more benefit of the doubt

Another example why “we the people” simply MUST exercise more scrutiny and accountability of our government.  It is no longer entitled to any confidence based on “you gotta trust us on this secret stuff:”

After seven years of litigation, two trips to a federal appeals court and $3.8 million worth of lawyer time, the public has finally learned why a wheelchair-bound Stanford University scholar was cuffed, detained and denied a flight from San Francisco to Hawaii: FBI human error.

FBI agent Kevin Kelley was investigating Muslims in the San Francisco Bay Area in 2004 when he checked the wrong box on a terrorism form, erroneously placing Rahinah Ibrahim on the no-fly list.

What happened next was the real shame. Instead of admitting to the error, high-ranking President Barack Obama administration officials spent years covering it up. Attorney General Eric Holder, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, and a litany of other government officials claimed repeatedly that disclosing the reason Ibrahim was detained, or even acknowledging that she’d been placed on a watch list, would cause serious damage to the U.S. national security. Again and again they asserted the so-called “state secrets privilege” to block the 48-year-old woman’s lawsuit, which sought only to clear her name…

At one point, Judge Alsup dismissed the case. A federal appeals court reinstated it in 2012, more than a year after Alsup tossed it. A month before Ibrahim’s trial, the judge said he learned the Kafkaesque truth. “I feel that I have been had by the government,” he said in a November pretrial conference.

Last week he laid it out all in his final order in the case, ruling for Ibrahim following a five-day, non-jury trial that was conducted largely behind closed doors in December:

“At long last, the government has conceded that plaintiff poses no threat to air safety or national security and should never have been placed on the no-fly list. She got there by human error within the FBI. This too is conceded. This was no minor human error but an error with palpable impact, leading to the humiliation, cuffing, and incarceration of an innocent and incapacitated air traveler. That it was human error may seem hard to accept — the FBI agent filled out the nomination form in a way exactly opposite from the instructions on the form, a bureaucratic analogy to a surgeon amputating the wrong digit — human error, yes, but of considerable consequence. (.pdf)”

Time and again we’ve seen what happens when government is allowed to operate within a large veil of secrecy: abuse, coverup, and disregard for Constitutional restrictions on their powers. The only way to reverse this is to dismantle the National Security State that has grown like a cancer on this society. I concede there are legitimate secrets that governments must maintain while executing their legitimate functions to defend the nation. We no longer have any reason to believe our government will exercise such prerogatives in OUR interests, versus theirs. Thus the only response open to us is to minimize the need for any secrecy. Stop foreign interventionism. Bring the troops home. Secure the borders. Then conduct the people’s business in the full scrutiny of daylight.  Anything less is unworthy of the legacy that was bequeathed to us, and which we are so close to selling out for nothing.

When such deception as the above is revealed, the parties responsible should be removed from office and barred from ever working again in a public capacity.  I’m looking at you, Eric Holder and James Clapper.  A court has now determined that both of you made FALSE statements that materially damaged the ability of an innocent traveler to clear their name.  That means neither of you are worthy to hold any authority or to draw another paycheck paid for by US tax dollars.

As for you, America — until and unless you demand such accountability, you can count on this government to become even more corrupt and oppressive than it already is.  Speak now, or go silently the way of most nations in human history.