Expatriate Owl

A politically-incorrect perspective that does not necessarily tow the party line, on various matters including but not limited to taxation, academia, government and religion.

Friday, March 30, 2012

His Majesty's Own

As CEO of the United States government, Barack Hussein Obama needs to get his Executive Branch to function towards its objectives. That is the function of a CEO.

There is a problem of financial crimes, which not only assail law and order, but also place a strain upon public finances and the country's economic health. And so, on 17 November 2009, the President issued Executive Order 13519, establishing a Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force (FFETF) consisting of diverse Federal agencies. The concept is a good one (though the creation of such a large and complex organization runs the risk, a very high one, of additional strain upon and dysfunction of the government bureaucracy).

FFETF has been working diligently, bridging the bureaucratic and cultural barriers among the agencies so that they can root out financial crimes. And they have some nice results to show (including, but not limited to, here and here). Nice work, guys and gals!

For the law-abiding taxpayer citizen, what is there to not like about FFETF?

One thing that bothers me is that it is referred to in the above-linked Department of Justice press releases as "President Barack Obama’s Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force," as though BHO has some sort of personal proprietary interest in the organization.

In England, they have lots of "Her Majesty's Own" groups, military and otherwise. But that is what a monarchy is all about. The King or Queen (and princes and princesses and other nobles), as the personification of the body politic, has his or her own retinue groups.

If the FFETF is preficed with the qualifying "President Barack Obama's," then one must wonder whether (A) doesn't that smack of the monarchy we rejected as our form of government back in 1776; (B) Barack Hussein Obama still has a proprietary interest in the FFETF after he leaves office; and (C) does BHO really intend to leave office in the first place, or is this just a prelude to a dictator's power grab.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

British Plans Gang Agley in Benghazi

This one here is now making the e-mail rounds: Libyans desecrating the British Benghazi War Cemetery in Libya, as an exemplar of why we shouldn't help Arab countries. And I agree that the video makes crystal clear as to what to expect from the Arab nations. The video speaks for itself. It needs to go viral!

But I also note that several Scottish regiments are represented amongst the burials in that cemetery, including the Black Watch, the Gordon Highlanders, the Queens Own Cameron Highlanders and the Scots Guards. And additionally, there are many a Scottish name to be found amongst the listings from British Army regiments which are not distinctly Scottish.

I cannot help but wonder whether, in the cosmic scheme of karma, there might be some sort of payback element for the Scottish Ministry of Justice's release of Abdelbaset al-Megrahi, the so-called Lockerbie Bomber.

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Thursday, March 08, 2012

Warding Off the NYPD

As noted here, here and here, Michael Ward, the FBI Special Agent in Charge in Newark, is now saying that the New York Police Department's monitoring of suspicious Muslim groups and individuals in New Jersey has compromised the FBI's efforts to reach out to the Muslim community.

There may well be some validity in Ward's contentions. But it is noted that the NYPD fully appreciates, and tries to fully utilize, its intelligence-gathering skills, and, to such end, has liaison officers stationed nationally and internationally, including but not limited to London, Tel Aviv and Hong Kong.

Ward is whining that the NYPD didn't fully apprise his people and others of the Joint Task Force of NYPD's activities in Ward's geographical territory. It has been characterized as a turf war, which it may well be.

But wait a minute! In order for the FBI to effectively do its intelligence work so well, it really, really needs to be above such pettiness. More to the point, why didn't the NYPD tell the FBI of its particular intelligence-gathering activity?

Could it be that the NYPD's trusted and reliable colleagues in its sister law enforcement agencies were not so trusted or reliable?

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Monday, March 05, 2012

A Lesson for Teachers

Christine Rubino is still a teacher for the New York City Department of Education. The preceding sentence is couched in the adverbial because the Board of Education had attempted to terminate Rubino for a Facebook posting.

The incident transpired substantially as follows (there I go again with the adverbs):

In 2007, the NYC Board of Education, in partnership with Columbia University, opened up the Columbia Secondary School for Math, Science, & Engineering, an institution which, as its name implies, is a "selective, public, college preparatory school with a focus on science, math, and engineering." [It never ceases to amaze me that so many Columbia University alumni are always whining about the evils of elitism.].

On 22 June, 2010, a class of students from this select academy of higher learning, chaperoned by three teachers of supposedly commensurate qualification, went to Long Beach for an outing at the beach. Notwithstanding the signs advising that there were no lifeguards on duty, and notwithstanding more than one drowning incident at the same beach within the previous few weeks, the chaperones managed to allow the children to go into the water. 12-year-old Nicole Suriel did not come out of the water alive.

Of course, the news of the incident went viral amongst the New York City public school community and beyond. One of the individuals to whose attention the incident was swiftly brought was Christine Rubino, a tenured teacher at P.S. 203 in Brooklyn. Rubino's teaching day had been very frustrating. Rubino used her Facebook page to vent her frustrations:

"After today, I am thinking the beach sounds like a wonderful idea for my 5th graders! I HATE THEIR GUTS! They are the devils (sic) spawn!"

Disciplinary proceedings were brought against Rubino, and, following her due process hearing by the Board of Education, Rubino received her notice of termination.

Rubino appealed to the courts. Justice Barbara Jaffe did not take the First Amendment bait; she found that, free expression concerns notwithstanding, while Rubino's conduct was unbecoming of a teacher, the penalty of removal was too extreme for a single incident on Rubino's otherwise clean record. [Disclosure: Before she became a judge, Barbara did me a little favor which was a big help for my career as an attorney.].

The Rubino case is an exemplar of how the judiciary keeps the administrative agencies from going overboard; precisely the checks and balances dynamic intended by the Founding Fathers to operate amongst the branches. But the case also is an exemplar of what how the new technologies blur the line between the personal and the professional, between the public and the private, and between the adult and the child.

It is perfectly understandable that a teacher might experience frustration, especially during the last week of classes before the summer vacation (I do remember what I was like when I was a fifth grader). Rubino, then, is a cautionary tale of what to do -- and to not do -- to keep oneself in the clear when using the social media of the internet.

[To all of you who e-mailed, snail-mailed, called or visited us on our recent bereavement, I give my heartfelt gratitude on behalf of myself and my family. For the most part, we are continuing our normal activities, projects and pursuits -- which is certainly what Dad would want us to do.].

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