Archive for the ‘Patriots’ Category

By Stephen Dinan – The Washington Times Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Five hours into Sen. Rand Paul’s old-fashioned, hold-the-floor filibuster Wednesday, top Senate Democrat Harry Reid came to the floor to try to end the affair, asking whether Mr. Paul would settle for going only 30 more minutes before the chamber voted on confirmation of a CIA director.

Nothing doing, said Mr. Paul — not until he got assurances from the Obama administration that it will not use drones to kill Americans on U.S. soil.

“I would be happy with the vote now — I’ve talked a lot today — but the only thing I would like is clarification, if the president or the attorney general would clarify they’re not going to kill noncombatants in America,” Mr. Paul said.

A frustrated Mr. Reid cast a folded paper onto his desk and stalked off the floor, caving to Mr. Paul’s will, at least for the day.

“We’re through for the night,” Mr. Reid told colleagues as he canceled any hope of voting on Mr. Brennan’s nomination Wednesday.

Mr. Paul took the floor at 11:47 a.m. and more than nine hours later was still going strong, and his stand became an instant sensation on the Internet, spawning fawning admiration on Twitter, where “#StandWithRand” was among the top U.S. hashtags all afternoon and evening.

The filibuster, which had run to more than eight hours Wednesday evening with no sign of slowing down, became an instant sensation on the Internet.

Along the way Mr. Paul, a Kentucky Republican in his third year in the Senate and contemplating a presidential bid in 2016, raised his national profile, pushed the issue of drone executions into the public spotlight — and drew comparisons to the Texas heroes who fought in the Battle of the Alamo, which had its anniversary Wednesday.

Mr. Paul took the floor at 11:47 a.m. and more than 11 hours later was still there, and his stand became an instant sensation on the Internet, spawning fawning admiration on Twitter, where “#StandWithRand” was among the top U.S. hashtags all afternoon and evening.

Along the way Mr. Paul, a Kentucky Republican in his third year in the Senate and contemplating a presidential bid in 2016, raised his national profile, pushed the issue of drone executions into the public spotlight — and drew comparisons to the Texas heroes who fought in the Battle of the Alamo, which had its anniversary Wednesday.

“It is a brilliant policy and political statement,” one Republican strategist said. “He instantly becomes the man to beat in 2016.”

Indeed, some of the other potential candidates serving in the Senate came to the floor to help him out — and to get some of the camera time Mr. Paul was basking in.

Sen. Ted Cruz, Texas Republican, was first, coming to the floor along with Sen. Mike Lee of Utah.

Together, they asked Mr. Paul questions, allowing him to keep the floor while giving his voice a rest. Later in the day, Sen. Marco Rubio, Florida Republican and a potential 2016 candidate, also came to the floor to take part, as did Sen. Ron Wyden, an Oregon Democrat who makes common cause with Mr. Paul on the drone issue.

Democratic leaders, though, wouldn’t give an inch to Mr. Paul.


More than seven hours in, he offered to shut down his filibuster if he could get the Senate to hold a vote on a nonbinding resolution stating the Senate opposed targeted killings of noncombatant Americans on U.S. soil.

Sen. Richard J. Durbin, the No. 2-ranking Democrat, blocked that deal, saying such a vote was “premature.”

He instead offered to hold hearings.

“I think this is something we should look at,” he said.

But Mr. Paul said he wanted more than vague promises down the road.

Late in the evening, he told colleagues he was in contact with the White House but that no promises or statements had been forthcoming.

While Democrats wouldn’t give Mr. Paul the assurances he was seeking, they were accommodating of his filibuster, including allowing him to yield for very long questions that sounded more like speeches — something that stretches Senate rules past their breaking point.

In the first 10 hours, eight Republicans came to the floor to help Mr. Paul, including Mr. CruzMr. LeeMr. Rubio and Sens. John Cornyn, John Barrasso, Jerry Moran, Saxby Chambliss and Pat Toomey.

For Mr. Cruz, a freshman elected in November, it was his first time speaking on the Senate floor. He read out Twitter messages praising Mr. Paul, and read from Shakespeare’s Henry V.

Mr. Paul used the breaks to stretch his legs, though according to Senate rules he was required to keep standing the whole time in order to signify he still controlled the floor.

As he crossed the 11-hour mark, Mr. Paul’s fight was gaining more support among his colleagues, with five of them on the floor to help share the rhetorical load — including Sen. John Thune, South Dakota Republican, who had not yet spoken.

Mr. Paul now joins an elite group of senators who have had the moxie, fortitude to launch an old-style solo filibuster.

The filibuster is an old parliamentary tactic that essentially means holding the floor and blocking action. It was elevated to iconic status by the Jimmy Stewart movie “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington,” but it is rare that anyone attempts a filibuster.

The last time a senator held the floor and talked at length was Sen. Bernard Sanders, Vermont independent, who spoke for more than eight hours in 2010, objecting to an end-of-year tax-cut deal. But Mr. Sanders wasn’t blocking any action.

Mr. Reid, the current Senate majority leader, was the last one to launch a real one-man filibuster blocking action when he spoke for more than nine hours in 2003, halting some of President George W. Bush’s judicial nominees. Mr. Reid spent his time reading from a book he wrote about his hometown, Searchlight, Nev.

Mr. Paul didn’t resort to those tactics. Instead, he had come to the floor armed for the long haul.

He had several binders of information, and his staff kept reloading his supply throughout the day.

In one 10-minute period, Mr. Paul covered everything from constitutional privacy to corruption in African governments to libertarianism versus conservatism to the history of the auto bailouts.

Mr. Paul also revealed that he had at one point owned stock in Fruit of the Loom, an underwear company.

He also drank sparingly from the glass of ice water that is always within reach on Senate desks when members are speaking.

Some senators who have filibustered have had their efforts constrained by their need to use the restroom.

ORGAN PIPE CACTUS NATIONAL MONUMENT, Ariz. — On a hot desert morning last week, a group of 20 tourists gathered in the visitor center in Arizona’s Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument to attend a mandatory safety briefing before taking a guarded van tour to Quitobaquito springs. The springs is part of the 69 percent of the remote border park west of Tucson that has been closed to the public since Kris Eggle, a 28-year-old law enforcement park ranger, was shot and killed while pursuing drug runners armed with AK-47s in 2002.

Organ Pipe was named “the most dangerous national park” that year and also in 2003 by the U.S. Park Rangers Lodge of the Fraternal Order of Police, before the group discontinued the series. The drastic increase of drug activity on Arizona’s southern border since the 1990s has turned Organ Pipe rangers into de factor Border Patrol agents, and spurred state lawmakers to pass several laws cracking down on illegal immigrants within the state.

Since 2009, the park has offered van tours to the springs, as long as rangers armed with assault rifles go along to protect the visitors. Now, ten years after Eggle’s murder, the park’s leadership has decided to open up a portion of the closed areas to the public in March, citing improved safety conditions and a big increase in Border Patrol agents in the area.

In the run-up to Tuesday’s Republican presidential primary in Arizona, immigration has once again been a hotly contested topic in the state: Mitt Romney in a debate last week praised Arizona’s immigration laws as a “model” for the country, while President Obama’s Justice Department is suing Arizona to overturn one of those laws, called SB1070. The law–which has not gone into effect because of a federal court order–requires police to check a person’s immigration status during stops if there is a “reasonable suspicion” that someone is in the country illegally. It also makes it a state crime to fail to carry immigration papers or for illegal immigrants to solicit work. Drug violence has claimed tens of thousands of lives in Mexico since President Felipe Calderon declared war on the cartels in 2006, but spillover violence has so far been minimal in the United States. Still, Jan Brewer, the Republican governor of Arizona, falsely claimed that beheadings occurred in the Arizona desert in 2010, the same year she signed SB1070 into law. Arizona was also the first state to pass a mandatory E-Verify law in 2007, to ensure employers don’t hire illegal immigrants.

Brewer says the law will help police officers combat drug trafficking and crime, but critics say it will encourage racial profiling and interferes with federal control over immigration. Yahoo News went to Organ Pipe last week to witness the challenges of the border as the presidential candidates debate how best to control it.

‘They’ll have M14s at hand. Don’t be worried.’

“There is a chance we might have to cancel the tour if there’s some sort of apprehension in progress,” Park Ranger Karl Sommerhauser, wearing a bulky dark green bulletproof vest, told the tourists last week. Sommerhauser had an ear piece curling out of his left ear. “We expect you to take direction from Ken,” he said sternly.

Ken Hires, an unflaggingly cheerful park ranger dressed in reassuringly normal-looking tan ranger clothes, bounded to the front of the room. Hires is what’s called an interpretive ranger, which means he has no law enforcement duties and does not carry a weapon. (“I spent my five years in Vietnam. Enough shooting,” he said later.) Hires explained that some law enforcement officers would be hiding in the hills and closely watching the two-hour nature hike, while another pair of armed rangers would follow the tourists closely from the ground. “They’ll have M14s at hand,” he told the group. “Don’t be worried.”

“You might see something interesting off the trail, but please don’t go wandering off,” Hires continued, explaining that it made it difficult for the rangers to track people from the hills. “Please be respectful that those people are putting themselves on the line for us.”

As the group loaded into the vans, one woman from Idaho whispered to her husband: “Does it make you worried? They get chest protections, and we don’t get none of them.”

Hires, sitting in the passenger side of the van, began talking quickly into his radio to the rangers. He turned to the back and explained: “We operate this as if it were an incident.”

“You say there was an incident out there?” a walrus-mustachioed passenger wearing a cowboy hat asked warily.

“We’re it,” Ken said, to nervous laughter.

‘There’s nothing normal about Organ Pipe’

Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, a 330,000-acre, surprisingly green stretch of Sonoran desert populated by barrel, saguaro and organ pipe cacti, spans 30 miles of the U.S.-Mexico border. The park became a corridor for drug runners in the 1990s after border security tightened at major ports of entry and in urban areas, driving human and drug traffickers to rural crossings. Alan Bersin, the Customs and Border Protection commissioner until last year, admitted that the Tucson sector of the border was “out of control” until recently. In 2010, half of all border apprehensions and drug seizures occurred in the Tucson sector, which encompasses much of Organ Pipe.

Drug runners would cut across Mexican Highway 2 through Organ Pipe’s dirt roads in a car and then quickly hop onto U.S. Highway 85, which shoots up to Phoenix or Tucson. The vehicles blazed more than 200 miles of unauthorized roads through the park, and rangers found themselves in dangerous, high-speed chases nearly every day. An $18 million, 23-mile vehicle fence put up after Eggle’s murder by the Department of the Interior cut down on this vehicle traffic. Now, cartels have had to get smarter, sometimes cutting into the fence, removing it, driving through, and then putting it back together again. Drug runners also started coming more on foot, dropping their packages in designated spots on the highway for someone else to pick up.

The Department of Homeland Security recently put up nine surveillance towers in the park, making it easier for agents to detect this new foot traffic, so the drug runners are now hiding in the hills, where the towers can’t see them. (A Border Patrol helicopter operation last year in these hills netted 800 pounds of trash and a whole “herd” of people, according to Hires.) Border Patrol set up a check point on Highway 85 within the park in the past year, which has pushed drug traffickers to the neighboring Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge and Tohono O’odham reservation, adding as much as four days to their on-foot journeys. “They’re very adaptive, more so than us,” said Organ Pipe park superintendent Lee Baiza wearily, during an interview with Yahoo News last week.

Baiza said he spends about 80 percent of his time working with Homeland Security and handling border concerns. “There’s nothing normal about Organ Pipe,” he added.

The superintendent, who took over in 2007, has faced criticism for preventing Border Patrol agents from building new roads in the wilderness areas of the park, which is part of a larger struggle between Homeland Security and national park and land agencies that operate on the border. (More than 85 percent of border property in Arizona is federally owned.) Bob Bishop, a Republican representative from Utah, introduced a bill last year that would waive environmental laws up to 100 miles north of the border, freeing up Homeland Security to build roads through the wilderness to combat illegal immigration and drug running. Bishop criticized the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service for preventing Border Patrol agents from driving off-road in the Quitobaquito area of the park because of a pond nearby that contains the endangered Sonoran desert pupfish.

“I may care about the pupfish, but I also care about kids getting hooked on illegal drugs that are coming over that border,” Bishop told Yahoo News. Drug runners cause more environmental damage to the border by leaving trash, he said, than Border Patrol agents would by building roads.

“Every congressman seems to have his own idea of what we’re doing wrong,” Baiza said. “The reality is all of that has improved immensely since 2007.”

Apprehensions in the park were down last month for the first time in three years, Baiza said. Border Patrol would not release park-specific data, but a spokesman, Jason Rheinfrank, said that the Tucson sector overall saw a 40 percent drop in apprehensions last fiscal year, while the number of agents has nearly tripled since 2000. Illegal crossing arrests over the entire border were at a four-decade low last fiscal year, in part because of the flagging American economy.

On March 1, 46 percent of the park–instead of 31 percent–is scheduled to be open to the public. Baiza cited the increased fencing, number of Border Patrol agents, and technology in the park as the reasons for the change.

Organ pipe cactus. (Liz Goodwin/Yahoo)

‘What we are trying to do is retake this landscape’

“The real problem we have with safety is drug dealing, not the people looking for work,” Hires said from a loudspeaker system at the front of the van. Three different border patrol agents riding ATVs raced by, waving. “What we are trying to do is retake this landscape so we can all be free to be out here,” he added.

Twenty minutes later, the vans arrived at Quitobaquito, where two young men toting heavy M14 rifles were already waiting. The rangers arrived at the springs two hours earlier to scour the area and make sure no one was hiding.

“Please be respectful and don’t photograph them,” Hires warned. The park service is worried that cartel members would retaliate against the rangers if their faces were publicized. Baiza says Organ Pipe never sends out press releases announcing new ranger hires for the same reason.

The armed park rangers didn’t greet the group and stayed about 20 paces ahead on the trail. Hires showed the tourists the endangered Sonoran desert pupfish in the pond (the endangered Sonoran mud turtles were nowhere to be found), and answered questions about the names of different plants and flowers. He explained that the springs has been a crossroads for thousands of years, an oasis drawing thirsty desert-dwellers and entrepreneurial shell traders. The tour ended, and two volunteer rangers stood guard as visitors used the restroom in the bushes before the long van ride back.

“You got to show me your visa,” one volunteer ranger joked as people began loading back into the van.

On the way out, Hires pointed out the two park rangers at the top of the hill, green specks on the horizon.

Another border patrol ATV zoomed past the van and stopped the law enforcement park rangers who were escorting the group back to the visitor center.  Two brown packages were tied to the back of the ATV.

“See those bundles? Want to guess?” Hires asked. “Marijuana.” In 2005, the last year the park released border incident data, Organ Pipe park rangers seized 17,000 pounds of marijuana.

The rangers let out a dog from the back of the SUV, as the visitors craned their necks to watch from the van. The dog jumped out and ran to the bundles. He sat down abruptly and pointed his nose at the packages, then looked back at his masters. “That’s the sign,” Hires said. The rangers tossed the jubilant dog a toy, and the Border Patrol agent drove off again in the ATV.

“There’s been a sighting of a UDA,” Hires said a few minutes later, listening to his radio. (UDA means undocumented alien.) “He’s sitting next to a trashcan which means he’s waiting for us to pick him up and give him a ride home. He’s given up.”

‘I feel safer here than in Fresno’

Despite all the excitement on the trip, Hires said he thinks the park is very safe because of the law enforcement rangers and the Border Patrol agents.

“I feel safer here than in Fresno,” Hires said after the tour. (He works seasonally in Sequoia and Kings Canyon national parks near Fresno, California.)

But visitors–or rather, the people who are choosing not to be visitors–still have concerns. In 2010, visits to the park plunged to a 10-year low of 209,600. Baiza says that when state politicians focus on the dangers of Mexico and the border, fewer people visit the park.

“They come here all petrified,” Bonnie Auman, a park volunteer, said. “Then they see all the law enforcement, the Border Patrol.”

Bishop, the Utah congressman, said that while the stagnant economy may have significantly deterred unauthorized migrants who are looking for work, he doesn’t think it has made a dent in the number of drug runners targeting Arizona. “That’s why we need to control the border,” he told Yahoo News. “They’re not going to be affected by E-Verify and the economy, and the Border Patrol needs to have the ability to battle that.”

It remains to be seen whether visitors will be lured back. Hires journeyed to the Quartzsite, Ariz., RV Show last month to recruit wary RVers to visit the park. “The No. 1 question: ‘Is it safe there?'” he said. “And the second one was, ‘Are you open?’ People thought we totally closed the place.”

Sir, I trust I have long since made my peace with the King of kings. No personal consideration shall induce me to abandon the righteous cause of my country.

Samuel Adams

Pinal sheriff: Armed conflict with drug cartels coming soon Armed conflict in Arizona between sheriff’s deputies and heavily equipped drug cartel squads is inevitable, Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu said Tuesday during a speech in Ahwatukee Foothills. “We’re expecting a conflict,” Babeu told the Ahwatukee Republican Women’s organization at the Grace Inn, 51st Street and Elliot Road. “I absolutely believe you’re going to see that happen in the next 30 to 60 days. It’s not like I’m trying to start a war with the cartels. They’re coming through like they own this place, and we’re trying to stop them. I pray that every time, they surrender.” About 70 people turned out to hear Babeu, who was re-elected recently to a second term as president of the Arizona Sheriff’s Association. A self-described friend and ally of Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, Babeu has risen to the forefront of the national debate over illegal immigration and is an outspoken critic of what he believes is the federal government’s adversarial relationship with Arizona and federal officials’ failure to secure the U.S. border with Mexico. “The federal government has literally become an enemy who is fighting us, and I have not been afraid to fight them,” he said. Babeu ripped into Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano’s contention that the border is as safe and secure as it has ever been. Last year in the eastern portion of Arizona’s two sectors, which includes Phoenix and Tucson, the U.S. Border Patrol reported apprehending 241,000 illegal immigrants. However, the agency estimates there were an additional 400,000 illegal border crossers in this sector that were not caught, he said. “Close to 20 percent already have criminal records established in America,” Babeu said. A significant percentage of illegal immigrants caught in Pinal County are from countries other than Mexico, he said, including “countries of interest” such as Yemen, Somalia and Syria. “Nations whose governments have sponsored terrorists or are anti-American,” Babeu said. After the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, the public was told to be vigilant and not be lulled into a false sense of security, he said. “Our own federal government is the one who is trying to lull us into a false sense of security,” Babeu said. Drug seizures in Pinal County have more than doubled in the last two years, while the number of high-speed police pursuits rose from 142 in 2007 to 340 in 2010, he said. The federal Bureau of Land Management has erected more than a dozen signs in Pinal County warning people to stay away from places designated as active drug and human smuggling areas where visitors might encounter armed criminals. Drug cartels have infiltrated the U.S. and have set up observation posts to ensure their shipments make it through, Babeu said. He likened the cartel’s activities in the U.S. to a foreign insurgency. “Less than 30 miles from where we are now, they have 50 locations in Pinal County that are scout locations,” Babeu said. “They’re providing safe passage for drug and human smuggling coming though our county. They’re reinforcing their supply routes.” On Oct. 25, cartel hitmen killed an informant who was working for the Sheriff’s Department, shooting him a half-dozen times, he said. “A cartel hit in Pinal County. That’s what we’ve arrived at,” Babeu said. In another recent incident, the cartels sent a team of heavily armed assassins to Arizona to dispatch bandits that had been robbing drug mules, he said. “Certainly they’ve destabilized their country,” Babeu said of the Mexican cartels. “That stuff is coming here.” Deputies have discovered abandoned vehicles used by bandits that have been made up to look like police cars, complete with spotlights, sirens and red and blue lights, he said. Such tactics not only could lead illegal immigrants to distrust U.S. law enforcement, but it could touch off a gunfight if deputies attempt to confront armed men, he added. “They may believe we’re bandits saying we’re the sheriff,” Babeu said. He endorsed a plan put forward by Arizona senators John McCain and Jon Kyl to send armed U.S. soldiers to the border and to construct a double-barrier security fence. Additionally, Babeu said authorities should hold illegal immigrants in custody for longer periods as a deterrent to repeat offenders, rather than using the current system of “catch and release.” “The core problem is an unsecured border,” Babeu said. “I’ve asked (President Barack Obama) to give me a half hour and I’d give him the solution to the border. He hasn’t called me back.” He accused Napolitano, Obama and U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder of “throwing up their hands and saying, ‘We can’t do it'” and of portraying local authorities as racial profilers instead of as protectors and enforcers of the law. “We do have the answer to secure the border. It’s not beyond us. That is literally un-American for them to say that,” Babeu said. “How have we arrived at this point in America, that it’s the job of the local sheriff to fight cartels from a foreign country?” As for the drug cartels, he said, “I want to say to them publicly, ‘You’re not coming through.'”

Exit Poll Results 2010: Good News!

Posted: December 29, 2010 in Patriots

Great News to Start the New Year! After elections, it often takes up to six weeks to get the final results from exit polling. This information helps us know which groups voted, and why they voted as they did. The results for the 2010 election provide some astoundingly good news for conservative people of faith who are concerned with both social and economic issues. (The media has focused on the economic mandate delivered by voters in November, but they have completely ignored the equally strong message that voters sent on traditional religious and moral issues.) For example, this election was record-breaking for conservative Christian turnout, and voters carried their values with them when they voted. As just one indication, of the 16 new Freshmen U. S. Senators, 13 of the 16 – or 81% – are prolife; and of the 97 new Freshmen U. S. House Members, 81 of them – or 84% – are pro-life! (Compare that with just two years ago, when just 2 of the 14 Freshman Senators – or only 14% – were pro-life, and only 23 of the 57 Freshmen House Members – or just 40% – were pro-life.) This election has resulted in the most pro-life U. S. House since the Court legalized abortion in Roe v. Wade in 1973. There are many other unreported but equally impressive results from this year’s election. You can read or download a copy of the 2010 Election Report. We think you will be thrilled with the phenomenal (but largely unreported) victories in this election. Exit Poll Results:

Many of you heard the story about Cody Alicea and the School Board telling him he had to take his
American Flag off his bike. Well here is an update of what happened when young Cody went to school this A.M.

Posted by Jim Hoft on Monday, November 15, 2010, 11:49 AM

Hundreds of American Legion Riders and fellow patriots escorted Cody Alicea to Denair Middle School this morning. They all
had American Flags on their bikes.

A veteran brings Cody to tears when he gives him his Purple Heart hat during a rally outside Cody’s school. (KCRA)

Live Wire has several photos from the parade of patriots this morning.
Hat Tip Roland C.

Hundreds of riders joined Cody this morning on his ride to school.

How cool.