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Mt. Soledad Cross War Monument ruled unconstitutional

A two-decade fight over the Mount Soledad National Veterans Memorial in San Diego took a solemn turn when an appeals court ruled the towering tribute to American War Veterans is unconstitutional and favors the Christian religion.

The war memorial overlooks San Diego and contains six concentric walls that contain 3,200 black granite plaques, purchased by donors, etched with the names and photographs of war veterans.

Built in 1952 on public land, the cross at the war memorial has been ground-zero for a decades-long constitutionality battle in San Diego.

Once word of the court decision reached two San Diego Congressmen they promptly wrote letters to the Department of Justice Attorney General Eric Holder and the Department of Defense Secretary Robert Gates urging them to defend the San Diego landmark.

“For more than a half-century, the Mount Soledad Memorial has been a fixture of the San Diego community, honoring not only the service and sacrifice of the brave Americans whose stories are told by the monument’s plaques, but millions of others who served in defense of our nation,” said Congressman Duncan Hunter Jr. (R-CA).

“The Ninth Circuit’s decision is a disservice to these men and women and blatantly ignores the Memorial’s proud history as a symbol of military service. I’m confident the Memorial will remain intact as the judicial process proceeds, but it’s important the federal government does whatever it can to defend the Memorial and ensure it remains untouched,” Hunter said.

Echoing Rep. Hunter’s views was Rep. Brian Bilbray (R-CA) who continues to fight for the rights’ of service members and a Memorial that honors servicemen from his family.

“The Mount Soledad National Veterans Memorial holds a very special place in my heart because the plaques of my father, brothers, and stepfather are among the thousands of stories of military service. It is unfortunate that the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals continues to politicize this sacred Memorial and obstruct the memories and history the landmark proudly represents,” he explained. “I strongly urge Attorney General Holder and Secretary Gates to join Congressman Hunter and myself in continued defense of the memorial.”

For the time being, opponents of the Memorial have won. However the battle continues as the appeals court did not mandate the 43-foot cross to be immediately torn down.

The American Civil Liberties Union, a co-defendant, responded quickly and affirmed the court ruling saying it validated their legal principles.

“This is about fundamental principles and freedom of religion,” said David Blair-Loy, the legal director for the San Diego ACLU told the Union Tribune. “Our view has always been the best way to protect freedom of religion is to keep government out of religion.”

Members who have fought to keep the cross war memorial in place vow to take their fight to the U.S. Supreme Court if the lower court mandates the removal of the landmark.

The new lawsuit was filed by the Jewish War Veterans, the ACLU and individuals who question a cross being placed and maintained on federal land.

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© Copyright 2011 Kimberly Dvorak All Rights Reserved.

Amnesty debate heats up with the DREAM Act

Senate leader Harry Reid (D-NV) will add the controversial DREAM Act legislation into a Defense Department spending bill essentially attaching amnesty for some to the weaponry and supplies needs for the wars in the Middle East.

The Development Relief and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM Act) would provide a road to citizenship for young illegal aliens if their parents brought them into the country before age 16 and they attend college for at least two years or join the U.S. military.

During this six-year conditional period, immigrants would not be eligible for federal higher education grants, but they would be able to apply for scholarships, student loans and work study grants.

If the illegal alien does not meet the educational or military service requirement within the six-year time period, their temporary residence would be revoked and they would be eligible for deportation authors of the bill say.

Some of the DREAM Act provisions include; proof of arriving in the United States before age 16, proof of residence in the U.S. for a least five consecutive years, compliance with Selective Service, applicants must be between the ages of 12 and 35 at the time of bill enactment, graduate from an American high school or obtain a GED and finally be of “good moral character.”

The DREAM Act’s play on minors is misrepresentative. The age group included in its legislative language says 35-year-olds are eligible for amnesty and not many Americans consider their 35 year-old offspring -kids.

Amnesty proponents think it is a great strategy to attach the DREAM Act or amnesty for minors (to the age of 35) to the defense authorization bill.

“This is the first of many positive steps to take,” said the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) National President Margaret Moran. “I think it is really important that we move forward on this legislation.”

However the chairman of the Immigration Reform Caucus Congressman Brian Bilbray (D-CA) disagrees, “When American men and women are fighting in Afghanistan and the human-trafficking cartels are murdering innocent people trying to cross the border in Northern Mexico, Harry Reid has the audacity to play politics with the Defense bill while enticing people to risk their lives with the cartels along our unsecured southern border. This is irresponsible, and the United States Senate should not stand for it.”

While adding legislative amendments to a non-related bill is not uncommon, sneaking amnesty for children who gained entry into America illegally during a highly political midterm election cycle has divided lawmakers and citizens alike.

Congressman Lamar Smith (R-TX), the Ranking Member on the House Judiciary Committee contends; “The DREAM Act is a nightmare for the American people. It is an assault on law-abiding, taxpaying American citizens and legal immigrants.”

When many American’s are struggling to pay the bills and get their kids to college another argument presents itself. Many colleges are filled to capacity and asking American families to now compete with 2 million additional children who are not in the country legally sends the wrong message to those who continue to stream across the borders illegally.

“For every illegal immigrant admitted, an American student or legal resident would be turned away at a time when every state university is raising tuition, and many are curtailing enrollment,” Rep. Ed Royce of California said.

Yet pro-amnesty groups see things very differently. “Young people who came here as children with their parents should be allowed to contribute to the only country they have known by attending college, joining the military and continuing to be productive members of society,” Moran of LULAC says.

President Obama also welcomed the idea of the DREAM Act and suggested that this was a good first step on the long road to comprehensive immigration reform.

“I just don’t want anybody to think that if we somehow just do the DREAM Act, that solves the problem,” Obama said in an interview with La Opinion. “We’ve got a bigger problem that we have to solve. We still need comprehensive immigration reform. The DREAM Act can be an important part of that, and, as I said, I’m a big supporter of that. But I also want to make sure that we don’t somehow give up on the bigger strategy.”

Nevertheless the DREAM Act does have a price tag.

The early estimates of the DREAM Act come in the $20 billion range for the first two years alone, according to U.S. Money Talk. They claim that this is a “disaster in the making” and “comes at a time when the U.S. economy has stretched so many millions of Americans so thin.”

Lawmakers phones are already ringing off the hook from concerned constituents informing their representatives on both sides of the aisle that the midterm election is less than 50 days away and their jobs are on the line if the vote in favor of the DREAM Act.

According to NumbersUSA, a Washington D.C. think tank against amnesty, their supporters are out calling the open borders activists by a 10 to one ratio.

“Currently we are being beat by anti-immigrants 10 calls to 1. That means for every 1 call you make in support 10 people are calling against the DREAM Act,” was one message from a pro-amnesty group’s alert last night.

Roy Beck, president of NumbersUSA says; “The DREAM Act leaves intact the chain migration system that will allow these 2.1 million illegal aliens to eventually send for millions more relatives. The amnestied illegal aliens would be able to get green cards for their parents. And millions of additional relatives would be able to start planning their applications and getting in line. This starts with adult siblings and moves on to aunts, uncles and cousins.”

Republicans are banking on the fact that this new attempt to pass a kinder, gentler form of amnesty will not slip past the American people.

“During these tough economic times, it is incomprehensible that Senate Democrats are planning to attach controversial legislation that has the potential to grant amnesty to over two million illegal immigrants. This would present a huge cost to the American taxpayer, as the illegal immigrants would be eligible for a wide array of federal benefits, including more educational benefits. Rather than reward those that have broken our nation’s immigration laws, Democrats should focus on fixing the economy and putting Americans back to work,” said Rep. Gary Miller (R-CA).

While the amnesty debate boils over, Democrats have failed to listen to the majority of Americans who say “it’s the economy stupid,” and continue to concentrate on other issues rather than jobs. This strategy will most certainly come at a price in the midterms. National polls already indicate the Democrat majority in Congress is set to lose power and with incumbent Republicans losing their jobs to newcomer primary challengers, it appears the winds of change are having a hurricane effect on Washington insiders.

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GOP’s new health care slogan is “repeal and replace”

save California from financial ruin, 12 Republican Representatives in California are asking Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and State Attorney General Jerry Brown to join other states with lawsuits based on Constitutional merits.

Several states attorneys’ general filed lawsuits challenging the federal governments ability to mandate health care insurance and force states to pick up the tab.

Congressional members in California are concerned the new law will add too many financial burdens to the state in a time of deep recession. Lawmakers also contend the federal government will short-change individual states and it would only be a matter of time before state governments would have to enact steep tax increases to pay for the millions of new health care participants.

Virginia Attorney General Kenneth Cuccinelli, who has filed a lawsuit in federal court in Richmond, Virginia, said Congress lacks authority under its constitutional power to regulate interstate commerce and force citizens to buy health insurance. He contends that the bill also conflicts with a state law that says Virginians cannot be required to buy insurance.

In addition to the pending lawsuits, bills and resolutions have been introduced in 36 state legislatures seeking to limit various aspects of the health care reform plan through laws or state constitutional amendments, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

“When the Democratic majority in Congress passed their health care bill, they ignored the simple fact that forcing every American to buy health insurance, even if they don’t want to do so, might very well undermine the constitutional rights of Americans,” Congressman Hunter said.

“Of course, we can’t predict the outcome of challenges on this basis, but there is a very good chance the mandate, as well as the legislation itself, is determined unconstitutional. Congress has never before mandated that individuals buy a specific product, so anyone who suggests that the legislation is standing on solid precedent is wrong. But regardless, the federal government has always left these types of decisions to states,” he explained.

According to a new Rasmussen Reports poll, 55 percent of the voters want the Republicans to repeal the health care bill, while 42 percent say leave it alone. These numbers combined with the lackluster Presidential approval rating in the mid-40s prompted the Commander in Chief to hit the road and campaign in favor of the new health care legislation.

Companies like John Deere and Caterpillar (where Obama made a pitch to employees that health care will help their business) have predicted their health care costs will increase by as much as $100 million under the Democrats new health care bonanza, this will force large manufacturing companies to shed jobs – not add to the payroll. These companies insist the new plan bends the costs of health care up, not down as hoped.

The California Representatives wrote a joint letter to impress upon the Governor and Attorney General that President Obama’s new health care bill could be an “unconstitutional overreach of authority that severely undermines the individual liberty of every American.”

“We need health care reform, but not at the expense of the Constitution. The president must remember that the Constitution comes before politics, and all we are asking is for California to address this in the courts,” said Congressman Bilbray (R-CA).

The federal government will now require all individuals to purchase health insurance or face substantial financial penalties; something many proponents argue is within the purview of the commerce clause.

However, “contrary to this interpretation, we believe such a mandate and coinciding penalties for non-compliance are unconstitutional on the basis that even the broadest interpretation of the commerce clause would not confer on Congress the authority to force individual citizens to purchase health insurance,” the letter reads.

The California delegation points to Virginia and Idaho that has enacted state laws to protect their constituents from any federal mandate and as more details are uncovered by lawmakers other states are weighing their options when considering similar lawsuits.

“We hope you will offer your support for this effort and provide the necessary leadership to help bring a measure forward,” the Congressmen said.

The health care beef with most Americans lies in the constitutionality of the federal government forcing citizens to purchase a service. The Congressmen and the Supreme Court have acknowledged limits when it comes to interstate activities.

However there are also several financial issues to consider when the Health and Human Services Department begins the arduous task of implementing the massive health care program.

Californians’ can expect to pay $2-3 billion annually for the various health care related expenditures as well as growing the state Medicaid program. Currently, California is operating with a $20 billion budget deficit and this new entitlement program is sure to create a wider budget gap.

In an effort to gain support, the President has embarked on his “sell the health care package to the American people” tour and he has taken jabs at the Republican Party along the way by mocking the Armageddon that would happen if health care became law.

“So after I signed the bill I looked around to see if there were any asteroids falling or cracks opening around the earth,” Obama said. “Turns out it was a nice day. Birds were chirping. Folks were strolling down the Mall. People still had their doctors.”

Most question why the President has to go on the road to sell a bill if it is so popular with Americans? “He has to sell legislation because it is so unpopular.”

The California Congressmen that signed the letter to Governor Schwarzenegger and Attorney General Brown were; Duncan Hunter (R-CA), Tom McClintock (R-CA), Darrell Issa (R-CA), Brian Bilbray (R-CA), Ken Calvert (R-CA), Ed Royce (R-CA), Devin Nunes (R-CA), Tom Campbell (R-CA), Mary Bono-Mack (R-CA), Wally Herger (R-CA), Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) and Kevin McCarthy (R-CA).

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Seniors put health care on the line with Congressman Bilbray

A group of concerned seniors gathered at La Costa Glen retirement resort to discuss health care and their futures. When Congressman Brian Bilbray-R –CA greeted the seniors something extraordinary happened – a civil debate ensued.

There was nothing angry about this group and they definitely did their homework. These seniors were well-armed with all the facts and insisted their concerns were addressed one by one.

As the microphone was passed around the room it was clear they did not want to take the brunt of the so-called waste, fraud and abuse of Medicare. “We want to keep our supplements,” one said and heavy applause followed.

A lot of these retirees are a product of the Great Depression and know the value of a nickel. “You can’t tell me that we are going to insure 50 million new people and there is not going to be a shortage of doctors and facilities,” Paul Cook said. “Why isn’t anyone in Washington talking about this obvious severe shortage on the horizon?”

The Congressman had an answer. “I’m working on a program that will encourage war veterans returning from Afghanistan and Iraq to enter into the medical profession. If we have federal grants in place we can re-train our veterans, cover their tuition expenses and put their experience to work.”

Another issue of contention with seniors is the fact that this bill will be conveniently operational in 2013 when they say the President will be a lame duck. “We like to hold our elected officials accountable and if this plan is so great and we can’t wait until passes, then get it up and running next year,” said one skeptical senior.

Other topics on tap included the government-made drought in California’s Central Valley. Seniors were specifically concerned about the government purposely turning the state’s bread basket into a dust bowl.

“In the case of the Central Valley, the Endangered Species Act is wrong. They should never put a fish before farmers’ rights to survive,” said Bilbray.

Although this was a fairly friendly crowd for the Congressman, some remained skeptical as to just what one politician can do in a state and federal government dominated by the left.

“We need to stop looking at the differences that divide us and zero in on issues we have in common. Once we start working together it becomes easier to pass legislation all parties can live with,” Bilbray explained.

The La Costa Glen residents were wily enough to not let the Congressman wiggle out of any questions. “You’re right, California is big on recycling – recycling their elected officials,” Bilbray said.

As the Congressman prepared to conclude the town hall he pointed out the fact that America is an incredibly resilient country and he defied anyone who counted America down and out. “The age of miracles is on the horizon,” he said.

If the August town halls were any indication as to how frustrated voters are, California politicians may find their way into the recycling bin. These Americans are paying attention.

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