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Mark Caserta: Taliban trade may mar Obama legacy

12 Jun

Bergdahl

Jun. 12, 2014 @ 12:00 AM

The Obama administration just released arguably the five most dangerous Taliban leaders detained at Guantanamo Bay in exchange for Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl. And it appears the president knowingly and willingly broke the law in doing so.

Under the National Defense Authorization Act, signed into law by Obama last year, the administration was required to notify Congress 30 days in advance of any such action. And even if the president can somehow find “legal” justification for what he did, he did not abide by the law.

Even Senate Intelligence Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., said that it was “very disappointing” that President Obama decided not to alert Congress about the deal, suggesting a low “level of trust” at the White House.

Taliban leaders are reportedly hailing the release of the five prisoners as a major victory over Obama and the U.S.

A senior member of the Afghan Taliban described the exchange for Bergdahl as an “historic moment for us.” He went on to tell NBC News this was the first time its “enemy” had “officially recognized our status.”

President Obama was defiant in his remarks that he will “make no apologies” for a trade in which he openly admitted the possibility that these leaders may “return to activities that are detrimental to us,” despite families who still mourn the loss of six brave American troops who died while searching for Bergdahl after he went missing five years ago.

So who were these five Taliban leaders Obama released?

One was Abdul Haq Wasiq, a Taliban deputy minister of intelligence who reportedly used his office to support al-Qaida and to “assist Taliban personnel in eluding capture.” Wasiq has been accused by Human Rights Watch of mass killings and torture.

Mullah Norullah Noori, a senior Taliban military commander, is described as a military mastermind who engaged in hostilities “against U.S. and Coalition forces.” Noori has been implicated in the murder of thousands of Shiites in northern Afghanistan and reportedly “does not express any regret” for his actions.

Mullah Mohammad Fazi, a former Taliban deputy defense minister, was held at Guantanamo after being identified as an enemy combatant by the United States. He’s also wanted by the United Nations on war crimes for the murder of thousands of Shiite Muslims in Afghanistan.

Mullah Khairullah Khairkhwa, the former governor of the Herat province, once had close ties with Osama Bin Laden. He “represented the Taliban during meetings with Iranian officials seeking to support hostilities against the U.S. and coalition forces.”

Mohammad Nabi Omari, a senior Taliban leader, once held multiple leadership roles in various terror-related groups. Nabi reportedly helped al-Qaida operatives smuggle missiles in Pakistan for use against the U.S. and coalition forces.

So what would prompt Obama to bypass Congress to trade these Taliban militants for a questionable soldier and risk retribution against the U.S.?

The president’s argument that “we don’t leave our men or women in uniform behind” is pretty hollow given his failure to act in Benghazi.

This is one decision which may return to haunt the Obama legacy.

Mark Caserta is a conservative blogger, a Cabell County resident and a regular contributor to The Herald-Dispatch editorial page.

Mark Caserta: Americans need answers, not more cover-ups

22 May

soldier

May. 22, 2014 @ 12:00 AM

The Obama administration faces yet another scandal.

As if the ongoing investigations into Benghazi, the IRS, and the Justice Department weren’t enough, the president and his administration now face a scandal involving the possible mistreatment of our brave military veterans.

Evidence is mounting showing the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has been keeping “two” sets of books in some of its hospitals to make it look like they were reducing wait times experienced by military veterans before seeing a doctor.

The VA, which has long been the target of complaints of delays and dysfunctional bureaucracy, made the commitment in 2010 to introduce a new appointment system for veterans designed to reduce wait time for an appointment with a primary care physician or specialist in one of its hospitals or outpatient clinics.

It’s surmised the pressure felt by the VA to meet the increasing demands of veterans returning from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan compelled them to “cook the books” to make it look as if they were indeed making the headway expected from a department that’s received substantial increases in taxpayer funding.

Even more damning are the allegations from a “whistleblower” doctor in Arizona who claims dozens of patients at one hospital died while languishing on a “hidden” waiting list without ever being given as much as an appointment.

In an interview with CNN, Sam Foote, a retired VA doctor of 24 years in the Phoenix area, revealed that as many as 40 patients had died after being placed on a secret waiting list and that officials at the hospital actually shredded documents and faked evidence to cover up their actions.

Since then, numerous whistleblowers have alleged similar practices in at least seven other VA hospitals around the country claiming that officials at the hospitals were sometimes even paid bonuses for reducing “declared” wait times.

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., took the Obama administration to task last week for being slow to react to what he called “a systemic, cultural problem” inside the VA.

“It’s been more than a month since allegations that some 40 veterans died while waiting care at the Phoenix VA were first made public.” McCain said in the weekly GOP address. “To date, the Obama administration has failed to respond in an effective manner.”

Exacerbating the problem for Americans is that once again we’ll see no independent investigation into the matter. The VA secretary, Eric Shinseki, will oversee an “internal” investigation.

Now with all due respect to the retired Army general who was himself wounded twice in Vietnam, Shinseki should recuse himself from oversight of the investigation and allow an independent counsel to conduct the inquiry.

But this follows a familiar pattern within this administration that totally contradicts Barack Obama’s promise of transparency and a new era of “openness in government.” Team Obama has excelled in sweeping their liberal dirt neatly under the White House rug.

Failing our brave military veterans in this manner is inexcusable, and it’s time to hold this administration accountable.

Americans deserve answers, not more cover-ups.

Mark Caserta is a conservative blogger, a Cabell County resident and a regular contributor to The Herald-Dispatch editorial page.

Mark Caserta: Liberals value progressivism over the truth

15 May

progressive movmt

May. 15, 2014 @ 12:00 AM

Why do you suppose liberals refuse to ever hold Barack Obama accountable for the lies and poor decisions he’s perpetrated on the American people?

It’s interesting how they refuse to call the president out on any mistake no matter who gets hurt or how great the loss. Instead they resort to diversions and tactics designed to devalue his involvement, unless of course it was one of those “rare” photo op, publicist’s moments. One might think Obama did everything short of firing the shot that killed Osama bin Laden — but he wasn’t even in the situation room during the attack on our consulate in Benghazi.

And if anyone disagrees with the president, well, it must be racism. In fact, it’s been suggested more than once on this very opinion page that the reason West Virginians don’t support Obama has nothing to do with dwindling jobs or the president’s war on coal. It’s because he’s black.

It’s time liberals learn incompetence comes in all shapes, sizes and colors. Playing the race card is simply indicative of an inability to defend the facts related to Obama’s failures.

One such failure emanates from the president’s unschooled foreign policy. His perceived lack of strength and strategic savvy prohibits him from competing on the world stage while his policies of appeasement and accommodation are prompting rogue leaders across the world to successfully rattle their sabers against the U.S.

But liberals share no conviction over Obama’s failures and aren’t interested in truth.

Liberals aren’t even interested in finding the truth about the terrorist attack in Benghazi and in fact have referred to any such pursuit as “drivel” and “old news” and prompted by politics.

Let me be clear. No true American patriot would ever refer to the unexplained death of four brave Americans serving their country as “drivel.” I doubt the families of Ambassador Stevens, computer specialist Sean Smith and former Navy Seals Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty would agree with such an insensible remark.

And I submit that liberals, not conservatives, are playing politics. Conservatives seek the truth for the healing of a nation. Liberals only seek closure of the investigation before a smoking gun is located.

And liberals don’t mind the president telling an occasional lie if it serves the “higher” progressive purpose.

It doesn’t bother liberals that the president knowingly misled the nation about the true nature of the terrorist attack in Benghazi, blaming it on an obscure anti-Muslim video.

It’s insignificant that Obama repeatedly lied to Americans about being able to keep their healthcare plan if they liked it and that millions are losing their existing plans.

It doesn’t matter that he lied about lowering annual insurance premiums for families by $2,500 with his signature healthcare initiative.

Liberals never attempt to defend any of these falsehoods. They simply believe the end justifies the means.

In fact, when it comes to Barack Obama, liberals value his contribution to the progressive movement far beyond truth, and they will go to any length to protect him.

The rest simply doesn’t matter.

Mark Caserta is a conservative blogger, a Cabell County resident and a regular contributor to The Herald-Dispatch editorial page.

Mark Caserta: Progressives repudiate founding principles

8 May

progressives

May. 08, 2014 @ 12:00 AM

Today’s progressive movement and the liberal policies it has generated arose from a conscious repudiation of the principles on which our nation was founded.

Americans must be keenly aware of the progressive yearning to fundamentally transform society into one which imposes no “concrete” sanctions for immorality and no restrictions within which we should live our lives. We are in a sense “gods” within ourselves able to transcend through reason.

Progressive confutation stems from their view that society is changing and “intelligent” people must adapt accordingly. They claim Christians are archaic in their beliefs and “modern” Christianity should be tolerant of varying lifestyles. And precepts by the Bible’s writers or our nation’s founders were penned without “clairvoyance” of the future — discrediting any possible unction by an omnipotent God.

But God’s Word says in Matthew 7:13, “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it.”

Now, the progressive movement hasn’t “broadened” the road overnight. Its tenacious approach calls for constant pressure against the “status quo” designed to move the parameters of acceptance further and further to the left.

But unchecked, where will it end?

The single largest barrier facing liberalism is God’s Word and the influence of Christianity in our society. It’s imperative for liberal “theologians” to question the plausibility and intent of biblical scripture to uproot preconceived notions of morality or principle.

Some recall Barack Obama’s June 2007 rant against the “Christian Right” for hijacking religion and using it to divide the nation:

“Somehow, somewhere along the way, faith stopped being used to bring us together… Part of it’s because of the so-called leaders of the Christian Right, who’ve been all too eager to exploit what divides us,” Obama said.

In retrospect, this quote should be added to Obama’s growing list of infamous accolades as the single most “hypocritical” statement ever made.

Liberals want us to believe our nation wasn’t founded on Christian principles. But Thomas Jefferson, our third U.S. President and drafter and signer of the Declaration of Independence said:

“God who gave us life gave us liberty. And can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are of the Gift of God?”

Liberals want us believe we’re not a nation blessed of God. But in Genesis 12:3, God told Abram, “I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse…” God is referring to Abram’s descendents, the nation of Israel, with whom our relationship must be symbiotic. Our nation’s obedience to God has heretofore secured His blessings according to the 28th chapter of Deuteronomy.

But I believe as progressives promulgate disobedience to God’s Word, those blessings will be revoked accordingly.

There’s one more “biblical reference” found in Matthew 12:36 which is apropos for the progressive movement.

“But I tell you that everyone will have to give account on the day of judgment for every empty word they have spoken.”

Mark Caserta is a conservative blogger, a Cabell County resident and a regular contributor to The Herald-Dispatch editorial page.

Mark Caserta: Obamacare more about power than healthcare

29 Apr

Barack%20Obama-JTM-046564

Dec. 26, 2013 @ 12:00 AM

Americans have been given a false choice regarding healthcare reform.

There were many viable alternatives for making healthcare more available and affordable in America that didn’t require tearing down the entire system and replacing it with a mandate that all Americans “bow” at the altar of the Department of Health and Human Services or the Internal Revenue Service.

Yet Democrat leadership failed to pursue reasonable solutions which studies have shown would significantly improve healthcare in the U.S. while maintaining an individual’s right to choose the coverage which best suits their needs.

Americans struggling to make ends meet should receive tax breaks commensurate with their income enabling them to afford quality healthcare for themselves and their family. I would personally like to see the money our government sends to other nations outside of humanitarian needs redirected to subsidize healthcare coverage for Americans at or below our nation’s poverty level. America must stay strong to help others!

People with pre-existing conditions shouldn’t be left out in the cold. But we can’t expect insurance companies to simply “absorb” these additional costs. Again, our government should re-allocate foreign aid funding, as well as eliminate their own irresponsible spending, to cover these additional costs in the form of a tax subsidy.

We must allow insurance companies to sell their policies across state lines. We have every reason to believe that healthy competition will reduce costs and provide more options for Americans just as every other U.S. industry.

Tort reform on medical malpractice is needed. Our current system increases costs both directly, in the form of higher malpractice insurance premiums, and indirectly, in the form of defensive medicine when medical services are prescribed simply to circumvent liability rather than benefit the patient.

Employers should be encouraged to offer Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) to their employees. HSAs allow individuals to set aside money from each paycheck, before taxes, for future medical care. The American people are much more frugal and conscientious with their money than the government! An HSA may also be an excellent fit with a high-deductible insurance plan.

Pre-Obamacare, according to the Congressional Budget Office, (CBO) there were around 15 million uninsured Americans in the U.S. But based on CBO projections, once Obamacare is fully implemented, and working smoothly, that number climbs to 30 million in 2023!

I submit the Obamacare journey, which has cost our nation billions of dollars, has never really been about providing health coverage for all Americans, but something entirely different.

President Obama and Democrats sold Obamacare on a series of lies knowing it would result in a base of voters not only dependent upon government, but subject to extortion of their tax dollars if they defied the mandate.

A defining characteristic of this administration is to arrogantly operate within the narrowest definition of executive power and outside of the people’s consent.

The fact that Obamacare shifts power away from the people and to government challenges the fundamental belief that government must derive its “just powers from the consent of the governed”.

Obamacare isn’t about healthcare. It’s about power.

Obama acts is if he’s above the law; he’s not

29 Apr

one bill at at time

Feb. 27, 2014 @ 12:00 AM

What liberals refer to as “obstructionist” tactics by Republicans in blocking the socialist policies of Barack Hussein Obama, conservatives call “preserving the Constitution.”

It’s interesting that while the president has often referred to himself as a “constitutional law professor,” the title is somewhat gratuitous. While never a full-time or tenured professor, he did teach courses in constitutional law at the University of Chicago as a “senior lecturer.”

Unfortunately, rather than use his knowledge to adhere to its provisions, the president has chosen to test the boundaries of our government’s founding document.

Article II, Section 3 of the U. S. Constitution, sometimes known as the “Faithful Execution Clause,” is best read as a duty that qualifies the president’s executive power. By virtue of this power, the president is required to “take care” that our nation’s laws are “faithfully executed.”

But not only has Obama been derelict in his duty to protect our laws, he’s an offender.

As Democrats are so fond of reminding Republicans, Obamacare is now the law of the land.

But despite the fact The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act was indeed signed into law in 2010 and ultimately upheld by the Supreme Court, President Obama believes it’s within his power to make changes without Congressional action!

Our Constitution clearly grants legislative powers to Congress. The president does not have the authority to arbitrarily “alter” legislation signed into law.

The employer mandate, which requires businesses employing 50 or more full-time employees to provide health insurance or pay a fine, was scheduled to take effect in 2014, but has been delayed entirely or in part, twice, by the president!

The fact that Obamacare is poor legislation doesn’t grant the president powers exceeding those afforded him by the Constitution.

And in the first case of its kind, the Supreme Court is now arguing the legality of four “recess” appointments made by President Obama to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau in 2012. The Constitution allows the president to make temporary appointments to those positions that otherwise require Senate confirmation, but only when the Senate is in recess. The problem is — the Senate was not in recess!

Three federal appeals courts have already ruled that Obama overstepped his authority in these appointments.

It’s obvious the president is following the “executive version” of the liberal playbook which calls for continuous contestation of preconceived limitations designed to “progressively” tilt the scales of totalitarian power to the left.

President Obama is arguably the most liberal president in our nation’s history. If he’s successful in these attempts to bypass our nation’s laws, what leftist policies will he pursue in his remaining years in office?

The U.S. Constitution is not merely a guideline to be consulted by those it was written to regulate. It’s the supreme law of the land written to protect the rights of all Americans and must be protected.

It’s time Americans “tether” President Obama to the Constitution and hold him accountable for adhering to its precepts.

This president is not above the law.

Mark Caserta is a Cabell County resident and a regular contributor to The Herald-Dispatch editorial page.

Mark Caserta: Liberals’ only interest is fundamental change

17 Apr

holder

hillary

lerner

sebelius

Apr. 17, 2014 @ 12:00 AM

Few government entities have the capacity to impact Americans more than the Justice Department, the State Department, the Health and Human Services Department and the Internal Revenue Service. All are led by individuals appointed by the president with the advice and consent of the U.S. Senate.

With a combined annual budget approaching $1 trillion of taxpayer money, these agencies shoulder significant responsibility in managing the infrastructure of government and taking care of the people’s business.

Yet despite the substandard performance of each of these government agencies during the Obama administration, liberals seem more focused on advancing their progressive movement than strengthening our nation and seeking justice.

In 2012, Attorney General Eric Holder was held in contempt by the House of Representatives for refusing to turn over documents tied to the botched “Fast and Furious” gun-running operation. Two guns found at the scene of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry’s fatal shooting were determined to be linked to the Justice Department operation. While the investigation is ongoing, Holder insists the tragedy is simply being leveraged for political advantage.

On the night of September 11, 2012, a heavily armed group of terrorists attacked the American diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya, killing four brave Americans, including U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens. In the days following the attack, the State Department would engage in what appeared to be a cover-up of what actually happened during the attack with a fabricated story claiming the uprising was in opposition to an anti-Muslim film that had triggered protests in Egypt and elsewhere.

Recently, shouldering the weight of a miserable Healthcare.gov rollout and feeling the pressure of an upcoming election, Kathleen Sebelius resigned her post as secretary of Health and Human Services. But timing is everything in politics, so it was important for the Obama administration to “accept” her resignation in the wake of the announcement that 7.5 million people already had signed up for Obamacare. Interestingly, the White House will not provide answers to key questions, such as how many enrollees were previously insured and how many have actually paid their first month’s premium.

But this administration has proven it won’t allow facts to get in the way of advancing its agenda. It’s mind-numbing for liberals to be so infatuated with this president it means absolutely nothing to them that he repeatedly and unrepentantly lied to Americans about the Affordable Care Act!

And just last week, The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee approved a resolution to hold ex-IRS official Lois Lerner in contempt of Congress for refusing to testify at two of the panel’s hearings. Lerner, who headed an IRS division that reviews applications for tax exemption, invoked her Fifth Amendment right at both hearings when asked about targeting of Tea Party affiliated organizations.

Now, we’ve always had government corruption, but the scope and practice here is unprecedented. Despite the Obama administration’s autocratic, unfettered approach, liberals don’t seem to care.

They simply want fundamental change.

Mark Caserta is a conservative blogger, a Cabell County resident and a regular contributor to The Herald-Dispatch editorial page

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