DOJ Investigating State Voter ID Law

Talking Points Memo is reporting the Justice Department is investigating the Corbett/Turzai VoterID law.  PennDot has been charging voters $10 for the ID which makes this a poll tax.  Other voters must pay for birth certificates and other documents in order to obtain a voter ID.  These indirect costs also make this law unconstitutional.  In fact if it even entails paying a bus fare to get to a motor vehicle photo office (and not every county even has one) it should be declared unconstitutional.  Having to pay a fee for the right to vote is Unamerican.

It’s easier to get a gun here than to vote.  Maybe if we all showed up at the polls with purple ink on our fingers they’ll let us vote.  We spent $3 trillion imposing democracy on Iraq and it’s easier to vote there than here.  Perhaps China can invade us and force democracy back on America.  Turnabout is fair play correct?

The Civil Rights Division wants state data on voters and ID’s to determine if the Mike Turzai law unlawfully targets minorities.  Sec. of State Carol Aichele could not cite a single instance of voter impersonation during hearings and also claimed it would only effect 1% of voters.  It turns out that 758,000 Pennsylvanians do not have a photo ID.  This is about 9% of the state.

A rally against Voter ID will be held tomorrow at 1PM on the Capitol steps.  Commonwealth Court begins hearings on a lawsuit challenging the validity of the law Wednesday.

Obama Initiative Will Put Cops on Pennsylvania Streets

In an announcement earlier today the Obama Administration announced a new initiative which will put veterans to work as cops, some in Philadelphia.  Vice President Joe Biden headlined a White House conference call on the issue.  He said these post 9/11 veterans deserve employment as highly trained professionals.  One aspect of the program will be for the military to certify veterans for the training and experience they received while serving.  They can use these official certifications, whether it be in welding, law enforcement or whatever, to better get jobs in the private sector.  Unemployment for veterans is bad and President Obama has made getting jobs for vets a top priority recently.

The White House released this statement today:

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Justice Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) today announced funding awards to over 220 cities and counties, aimed at creating or saving approximately 800 law enforcement positions.  The grants will fund over 600 new law enforcement positions and save an additional 200 positions recently lost or in jeopardy of being cut due to local budget cuts.  All new law enforcement positions funded in the COPS 2012 Hiring Program must be filled by recent military veterans who have served at least 180 days since September 11, 2001.  In his State of the Union Address, President Obama called for a new Veterans Jobs Corps initiative to help put veterans back to work on a range of projects that leverage skills developed in the military, including first responder jobs. In February, the President announced that preference for this year’s COPS and Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) grants would be given to communities that recruit and hire post-9/11 veterans to serve as police officers and firefighters.

More than $111 million is being awarded to local public safety agencies across the country.  The list of this year’s grantees includes Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, PA; Chicago, IL; Boston, MA; Atlanta, GA; Trenton, NJ; Alameda County and Los Angeles, CA; Akron, OH; and Tacoma, WA.  The COPS Office will work with transition centers across the country to connect veterans with the new grant-funded law enforcement opportunities.  For the entire list of grantees and additional information about the 2012 COPS Hiring Program, visit the COPS website at www.cops.usdoj.gov.

“Since we got into office, the President and I have been committed to helping our returning heroes find jobs and transition back into civilian life. A lot of them want to keep serving now that they’re back, and these COPS Grants help give them that chance,” said Vice President Joe Biden.

“Today, we step up our support for recent veterans by offering them the chance to pursue meaningful careers in law enforcement,” said Attorney General Eric Holder. “At a time of budget shortfalls, these grants will provide opportunities for much-needed, highly-trained professionals – with a proven commitment to service – to continue their careers in communities all across the country.”

“This new opportunity for veterans is a commitment to support those who are coming home from their tour of duty,” said Bernard Melekian, COPS Office Director.  “We sincerely hope this effort encourages our veterans to continue to protect and serve the United States through new law enforcement careers.”

The COPS Hiring Program makes grants to state, local and tribal law enforcement agencies to hire or rehire community policing officers.  The program provides the salary and benefits for officer and deputy hires for three years.  Along with the pledge to hire military veterans, grantees for the 2012 Hiring Program were selected based on fiscal need and local crime rates.  An additional factor in the selection process was each agency’s strategy to address specific problems such as increased homicide rates and gun violence.

Today’s announcement builds on several steps President Obama has taken to support veterans in developing skills and finding work, including by: creating new tax credits for businesses that hire veterans; challenging the private sector to hire or train 100,000 veterans and their spouses by 2013; helping veterans obtain industry-recognized credentials and licenses; increasing access to intensive reemployment services; developing online tools to boost veteran employment; and increasing hiring of veterans in healthcare-related fields.

Aliquippa will get one new policeman, Chester five, Philadelphia 25 and Pittsburgh 13.  The COPS program begun by President Clinton once put 100,000 community oriented police officers on the streets.  It was credited with a significant decline in major crimes where implemented.  George W. Bush proceeded to gut its funding.  Community police officers get to know the communities on their “beats” and the direct interaction reduces crime.  The Bush Recession cut thousands of police positions and this new initiative puts some of them back on the street.

Obama Appoints Two PA U.S. Attorneys

One of the chief criticisms Democrats have had with President Obama has been his negligence in appointing new U.S. Attorneys.  every new President gets to choose their own federal prosecutors and the “Loyal Bushies” who helped corrupt the Justice Department have largely remained in office.  That is beginning to change as today the White House announced seven people to serve in this capacity, two of them here in Pennsylvania:

Zane David Memeger: Nominee for United States Attorney, Eastern District of Pennsylvania

Zane Memeger is currently a Partner at Morgan, Lewis & Bockius, LLP where he has been since 2006. Previously, Mr. Memeger had served as an Assistant United States Attorney in the United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, from 1995 until 2006. From 1991 until 1995, Mr. Memeger was an Associate at Morgan, Lewis & Bockius, LLP. Mr. Memeger graduated from James Madison University in 1986 and from University of Virginia School of Law in 1991.

Peter J. Smith: Nominee for United States Attorney, Middle District of Pennsylvania

Peter Smith, is currently retired. Prior to his retirement, Mr. Smith was the Deputy State Treasurer for the Pennsylvania Treasury Department from 2005 to 2009. Mr. Smith was the Deputy Auditor General for Performance Audits in the Department of the Auditor General for the state of Pennsylvania from 1997 to 2005. From 1994 to 1997, he served as the Deputy Chief of the Environmental Crimes Section in the United States Department of Justice. From 1992 until 1994, Mr. Smith was an attorney for Vaira and Associates, P.C. From 1991 to 1992, he was an attorney with Buchanan Ingersoll. Mr. Smith also served as the State Inspector General for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania from 1987 to 1991. From 1976 to 1987, Mr. Smith worked in the United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania as an Assistant United States Attorney, where he served as the First Assistant United States Attorney and from 1986 to 1987, and Chief of the Criminal Division from 1985 to 1986. In 1976, Mr. Smith was an Assistant Attorney General in the Attorney General’s Office for the State of Pennsylvania in the Office of the Philadelphia Special Prosecutor. From 1973 to 1976, Mr. Smith was a Staff Enforcement Attorney in the United States Environmental Protection Agency, and he served as an Assistant District Attorney in the District Attorney’s Office for the city of Philadelphia from 1971 to 1973. Prior to entering law school, Mr. Smith served in the United States Naval Reserve, from 1962 to 1966, where he achieved the rank of Lieutenant (Junior Grade). Mr. Smith graduated from King’s College in 1962 and Georgetown University Law Center in 1971.

Who knows anything about these two?  They certainly seem well qualified by their resumes.  Obama pledged to take political prosecutions and considerations out of the process of enforcing the law, investigating people and corporations and the prosecution of justice.  The Western District (Pittsburgh) remains open.  The Senate still must confirm today’s selections.

The enormous scandal which erupted around Karl Rove and Alberto Gonzales’ politicization of Justice resulted from action taken by Sen. Arlen Specter.  Without his enabling legislation they couldn’t have fired and replaced a slew of U.S. Attorneys.  This has had little play, as yet, in the Senate primary.

Key Missteps

Early missteps are marring the reputation of the new Administration.  Aside from the obvious problems of Cabinet appointees who failed to pay taxes, something which ha salready become the most significant hallmark of the Obama regime in editorial cartoons, two other serious issues have arisen.

Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner prevailed in holding his posiiton that his friends on Wall Street should not have to confrom to standards and salary limitations being demanded by the nation.  Americans have been outraged to watch their assets being funneled into banks and financial institutions for perks, huge salaries and corporate jets.  Geithner came from Wall Street and argued against senior White House advisers putting restrictions on the taxpayer funds.

I opposed Geithner’s nomination for these reasons.  The man is an insider, a Friedmanite and unqualified to be Treasury Secretary.  This was a mistake and the tax issues he faced during confirmation should have sufficed for rejecting him for this position.  He must be replaced.

The second incident this week is, perhaps more disturbing.  The Justice Department arguing for the new Administration kept the Bush position on abusing the state secrets act to quell opposition.  A man arrested on non existent grounds was rendered by the CIA to another country so he could be torured.  Barack Obama is siding with George W. Bush’s position on the extraordinary use of secrecy to further violate the man’s rights.

The accused was arrested for viewing a satirical website mocking others about constructing a nuclear bomb.  This is like being arrested and tortured for reading The Onion.  That’s the sort of website we’re talking about in this case.  Regardless President Bush accused him of conspiring to build a dirty bomb.  His testicles were cut with a scalpel among torture which we authorized.  Now Barack Obama is defending this treatment in federal appeals court.

Shameless.  We thought we had change we could believe in.  Perhaps not.