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Today we remember the day liberty died in America

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Today we remember the day liberty died in America

Seventeen years ago today, an Islamic terrorist group hijacked four commercial airliners and crashed two of them into the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in NYC and one into the Pentagon. The fourth jet — believed to be heading for the US Capital — crashed in a Pennsylvania field after passengers attempted to overpower the hijackers and regain control.

Today we remember those tragic events: the thousands who died, the first responders who risked their lives to save others along with the many who died trying, and the heroism of the Flight 93 passengers on the fourth plane.

Following that horrendous day, Americans vowed to never forget this tragedy and to do all they could to make sure that the terrorists would never win. While such sentiments are noble and inspiring, they have proven over the years to be little more than political rhetoric used by big-government Democrats AND Republicans to chip away at liberty and freedom in the name of safety and security.

In short, liberty also died on 9/11.

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA). The Patriot Act. The Patriot Act II. Spying on Americans by the National Security Agency (NSA). Fake cell towers to tap your cell phone. These are just a few of the ways Big Brother government has destroyed our God-given right to liberty since 9/11.

Most of this attack on liberty obviously began under George W. Bush — one of the many evidences that “compassionate conservative” was really code for “progressive” — and grew under Barack Obama. Unfortunately, the trend toward tyranny has continued under Donald Trump.

In a piece I wrote last year commemorating 9/11, I documented the host of ways that Trump — who claimed in 2011 that he predicted 9/11 in his book The America We Deserve — was keeping Bush’s and Obama’s terrorism policies in place.

Since that piece, Trump and the GOP have taken the assault on liberty to new heights.

After being given control of Washington, they created the US Cyber Command within the NSA, an idea originally proposed by Obama, giving the agency greater power to spy on Americans. Trump and Co. have also reauthorized FISA-702 to give the NSA authority to conduct warrantless electronic surveillance on Americans.

Cyber security and electronic surveillance are becoming code words to disguise policies designed to destroy liberty. For example, though not yet law, the Department of Homeland Security Reauthorization Act sitting in Congress will include amendments giving DHS power to monitor our elections.

Who could have imagined that the rationale used to justify the government’s response to the 9/11 terrorist attacks would be the same rationale used to justify the creation of an army of armed federal agents to “monitor” polling places? Talk about unintended consequences. Then again, maybe they aren’t unintended after all.

Liberty died on 9/11, not at the hands of Islamic terrorists but at the hands of our own government.

Originally posted on StridentConservative.com.

 


David Leach is the owner of The Strident Conservative. His daily radio commentary is distributed by the Salem Radio Network and is heard on stations across America.

Follow the Strident Conservative on Twitter and Facebook.

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Entertainment and Sports

Binge-worthy show: Counterpart works because J.K. Simmons is incredible. Twice.

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With season 2 of the Starz hit Counterpart getting going, I thought I should go ahead and binge the first season to see if it’s one to follow going forward. Despite a 100% on Rotten Tomatoes and universal acclaim, I’ll admit I probably wouldn’t move forward to season 2 if it weren’t for two letters and a surname: J.K. Simmons.

Very minor spoilers ahead for the sake of understanding why you should see this show.

Imagine if the world we know copied itself 30-years ago. These two worlds continued without knowledge of each other, save for a select few on each side who are aware of the tunnel below a building in Berlin that connects the two worlds. Now, imagine if both sides kept the existence of this secret from everyone, even most of the world’s governments, and instead ran a shadow organization in the building above the tunnel that allowed the two sides to cooperate.

That’s the world of Counterpart.

This is where it gets interesting. J.K. Simmons plays Howard Silk… twice. In the “alpha” version of the world he’s a mild-mannered operator working in the building above the tunnel but unaware of what it does or the role he plays in everything. The “prime” version is a badass secret agent who must travel to the “alpha” side to foil a plot that would bring the two sides to war.

The premise is pretty clever, albeit not completely unique. There have been stories of alternate realities playing with or against each other in everything from comic books to Star Trek shows. This is the first I’ve seen that plays it more as a spy game in an inter-reality Cold War setting, but nonetheless it’s a relatively common premise. What Star Trek fan doesn’t remember evil Spock?

Spock Mirror

On the merits of the story alone, I’d see this as an acceptable show to watch. Not quite binge-worthy, but a nice aside while waiting for the next season of The Expanse for sci-fi fans. What pushes it up to the binge-worthy level is the dual performances of Simmons. Despite the parallels between the two characters he plays, the audience is never confused about which one they’re seeing. He doesn’t even have to speak most of the time. We can tell by the way he carries himself, the expressions he makes, and the bearing he holds when looking at people.

That’s actually not that hard. What Simmons does masterfully is he accomplishes this without exaggerating the differences. He brings them to light with subtly, giving us just enough understanding of who the characters are without overplaying those differences.

There’s one more thing that the show does well that should be noted since it almost lost me otherwise. Just when you’re getting a little bored with the mundane aspects of the spy game, it slams you across the face with an unexpected twist or impromptu action scene. Even a simple conversation about arranging travel can turn into a gun versus fireplace poker fight to the death.

Great actors can take good material and turn it into something special. Though we’ve only seen one full season of Counterpart, it’s clear that J.K. Simmons makes it worth the watch.

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In Israel, the deception of quiet has been shattered. Now what?

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In Israel the deception of quiet has been shattered Now what

Terrorism threatens both Israeli and Palestinian civilians. The coming weeks will see whether Israel and the Palestinian Authority will be able to contain an escalating situation and roll back the violence, or whether the region will slide into a new and dangerous phase.

 The succession of deadly Palestinian terrorist attacks in the West Bank in recent days is a painful reminder of a bigger truth, and that is that the security quiet that prevailed until recently was little more than an illusion.

The motivation of terrorists—whether backed by an organized armed faction or acting on their own—to attack Israelis remains high, and the relative quiet that existed was not for their lack of trying.

The Israel Defense Forces and Shin Bet intelligence service have thwarted a staggering number of attacks this year alone. A look at the official figures confirms the scale of the threat and highlights just how deceptive the so-called quiet really was.

According to Shin Bet head Nadav Argaman, no fewer than 480 organized terror attempts based in the West Bank have been attempted (and prevented) this year. Those murder plots included 280 planned shootings, 76 attempted bombings, six suicide bombings and seven kidnappings. The intended Israeli targets were on both sides of the Green Line.

The number of unorganized attackers stopped in their tracks in 2018 is approximately 400, and their arrest has been made possible due in part to technological breakthroughs in the collection and analysis of big data.

The threat Hamas poses to Israel and the Palestinian Authority has been the glue that’s held together security coordination on the ground.

New technology in the service of national security has helped drastically reduce such attacks, which were frequent just a few years ago.

Hamas has been instrumental in attempting to destabilize the West Bank, both because this serves its jihadist siren call of violence against Israel and because it serves its goal of weakening its domestic foe, the Palestinian Authority, which it seeks to replace, just like it did in Gaza. Hamas believes that it is entitled to set the West Bank alight with violence, even as it keeps its home turf of Gaza in a state of ceasefire most of the time.

The threat Hamas poses to both Israel and to the P.A. has been the glue that has held together security coordination on the ground between Israeli and Palestinian forces. This glue has so far stuck, despite severe diplomatic clashes between the P.A. and Israel. The P.A. subtly recognizes that Israel’s anti-Hamas operations benefit it as much as it does Israelis.

Israel broke up more than 220 West Bank Hamas terrorist cells this year, including one cell that was ordered by Hamas’s military wing in Gaza to bomb crowded targets in the heart of Israeli cities in October. That cell was preparing bombs that were unprecedented in their quality of explosive materials, the Shin Bet investigation found.

In recent months, Israel quietly arrested hundreds of West Bank terror suspects, including students, and young men and women who were recruited into Hamas’s secret networks.

That has not stopped Hamas from trying, again and again, to turn the West Bank into a hotbed of terrorism. Israel’s preemptive capabilities have served as a silent, life-saving safety net around the clock.

Shifting the balance

Harrowingly, however, no safety net is fool-proof. It’s too soon to say whether Thursday’s deadly shooting attack on a bus stop near Ramallah was the result of organized terrorism or a local “initiative.”

Either way, the most immediate risk is that this shooting, as well as the attack that preceded it on Dec. 9, will provide the fuel to light a chain reaction in the form of copycat attacks. The first signs of this risk came in a car-ramming attack that injured a soldier just a few hours after Thursday’s incident.

Anticipating this trend, the Israel Defense Forces mobilized a number of back-up infantry battalions to the area, who will be tasked with both defending Israeli communities and assisting the offensive raids, and searches for the perpetrators.

In the past 24 hours, Israel’s Counter-Terrorist Unit conducted successful operations that resulted in the killing of the gunman behind the Barkan shooting attack and a gunman linked to the Dec. 9 Ofra Junction shooting.

Israel’s ability to catch up with the terrorists—no matter how hard they try to hide or embed themselves in challenging urban settings—reflects a world-leading counter-terrorism level that is unmatched and should not be taken for granted.

It also reflects the fact that Israel can send forces to operate anywhere in the West Bank, at any time—a reality that did not exist during the dark days of the Second Intifada some 15 years ago.

A dangerous period ahead

The commemoration of Hamas’s founding, which will be marked on Dec. 14, the risk of another Gaza escalation and the unending “bubbling up”’ of terror plots under the surface can all act as catalysts, accelerating a deterioration in the security situation in the coming days and weeks.

The IDF’s challenge in the West Bank is in some ways much more complex than its border-protection duties on the fronts with Gaza, Lebanon and Syria. In the West Bank, the IDF protects some 400,000 Israeli civilians who live in the midst of around 2 million Palestinians, with no obvious separating border the two populations.

The Israeli army’s challenge in the West Bank is in some ways much more complex than its border-protection duties on the fronts with Gaza, Lebanon and Syria. Credit: IDF Spokesperson’s Unit.

The Israeli army’s challenge in the West Bank is in some ways much more complex than its border-protection duties on the fronts with Gaza, Lebanon and Syria. Credit: IDF Spokesperson’s Unit.

To pursue this enormously complex mission effectively, the military offers both carrots and sticks; both are aimed at preventing the situation from worsening.

The sticks come in the form of nightly security raids targeting terrorists, while carrots are offered to Palestinian noncombatants in the form of freedom of movement and increased economic opportunities to push them away from the calls to violence, which are issued by the armed Palestinian hardline factions and fill social media.

The IDF’s own experience and its analysis of past trends tell it that driving a wedge between Palestinian civilians and terrorists—and seeking to maintain a normal fabric of life for ordinary Palestinians who are not involved in terrorism—drives down the number of attacks and saves lives.

Yet this balancing act of attempting to isolate the terrorists from the civilians changed dramatically on Thursday, when the IDF encircled Ramallah and placed it under lockdown. Placing a city that is the de facto capital of the Palestinian Authority under such restrictions reflects the severity of the latest attack, and the Israeli military’s urgency in placing its hands on the perpetrators.

Such a development could also act as a reminder to the wider Palestinian public, according to which, Israel can employ more disruptive sticks. A return to the days of mass violence, as many realize, will likely result in significant harm to Palestinian freedom of movement and economic stability.

Ultimately, the terrorism that has reared its head threatens both Israeli and Palestinian civilians. The coming weeks will see whether Israel and the P.A. will be able to contain the situation and roll back the violence, or whether the region will slide into a new and dangerous phase, a development that Hamas will be sure to celebrate and exploit.

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Immigration

Failure to fund the wall is the GOP’s biggest failure

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Failure to fund the wall is the GOPs biggest failure

Next year’s Congress is going to look very different from the one that is finishing up now. Democrats will be in control of the House of Representatives, and while the Senate will be more Republican, they’ll be useless to get much done with Nancy Pelosi as Speaker of the House.

Many are pointing fingers at Pelosi and Senator Chuck Schumer for not wanting to fund the border wall. President Trump has asked for $5 billion in DHS funding, but the Democrats say they won’t give him the votes. As a result, the President says he will force a partial shutdown of the government.

In the midst of the holiday season, it’s hard to imagine the President following through with his threats. He could have. He’s had opportunities in the past to do so, but he has relented even while threatening to shut it down next time. Meanwhile, he and the Republicans are trying to lay blame on the Democrats for blocking the wall.

Here’s the thing, and I’ll refer to Shannon Joy’s Tweet to explain why the Republicans, not the Democrats, should be ashamed of their failure to fund the wall.

The problem of illegal immigration should be well on its way down the road of multiple solutions being enacted at once to dramatically reduce the flow. The wall should be trucking along in a way that’s noticeable; it shouldn’t require the President trying to convince people that there’s been progress on fixing walls here and building partial walls there. We should see it. We should feel it. Illegal immigration should be dropping.

Instead, it’s rising.

I’ve bit my tongue for too long on this issue, deferring to some of our immigration experts to write on the topic. But this is becoming ridiculous. Illegal immigration has been on the rise lately and thousands of migrants from the various caravans are already finding their way across the border.

Now, a child has died.

7-year-old immigrant girl dies after Border Patrol arrest

http://noqreport.com/2018/12/14/7-year-old-immigrant-girl-dies-border-patrol-arrest/The Washington Post reports the girl died of dehydration and shock more than eight hours after she was arrested by agents near Lordsburg, New Mexico. The girl was from Guatemala and was traveling with a group of 163 people who approached agents to turn themselves in on Dec. 6.

It’s unknown what happened to the girl during the eight hours before she started having seizures and was flown to an El Paso hospital.

Processing 163 immigrants in one night could have posed challenges for the agency, whose detention facilities are meant to be temporary and don’t usually fit that many people.

I don’t blame the border patrol and anyone who does is missing the point. They are overwhelmed right now. With no wall and limited funding to defend the border, it’s way too easy for parents to think they’re doing the right thing by bypassing the amnesty they’re being offered in Mexico with hopes of getting better opportunity in America. I’m not suggesting the father isn’t to blame; in fact, he should be charged for putting his daughter in this situation to begin with. But it’s the failure of the GOP to use the power the people gave them that compelled these migrants to make the journey. After two years of control, the message should have been sent that we take our border security seriously. Instead they’ve learned something different.

The message has been the even with control, the GOP is feckless. The Democratic minority is more powerful than the Republican majority when it comes to border security.

President Trump deserves some blame, but it’s really his ignorance and inexperience at play instead of motivation. He was definitely motivated to build his glorious wall for the world to see, but he was conned by multiple “allies” into thinking they would get there in time. They stalled him in 2017 by claiming they could get Obamacare repealed and tax cuts done. Then, the stalled him in 2018 saying it wasn’t the right time to do battle before the midterms. Now, there’s no wall funding and no more time to get it.

The GOP is working harder on building a narrative than building a wall. We’re stuck between a damaging shutdown that may still not get the wall funded or no wall at all. Republicans and Independents voted for it, but the GOP failed to deliver.

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