Archive for Congress

Lost and Found

Lost: One Republic, 238 yrs old, fixer-upper; red, white, and blue; friendly, but do not abuse; answers to “America”.

Found: 30,000 emails (see above):

Up to 30,000 missing emails sent by former Internal Revenue Service official Lois Lerner have been recovered by the IRS inspector general, five months after they were deemed lost forever.

The U.S. Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) informed congressional staffers from several committees on Friday that the emails were found among hundreds of “disaster recovery tapes” that were used to back up the IRS email system.

“They just said it took them several weeks and some forensic effort to get these emails off these tapes,” a congressional aide told the Washington Examiner.

Just “weeks” and “effort”, huh? That’s all it took to recover the irrecoverable? On a Friday, the Friday before Thanksgiving week, no less? And they accuse us of cynicism!

The missing emails extend from 2009 to 2011, a period when Lerner headed the IRS’s exempt-organizations division. The emails were lost when Lerner’s computer crashed, IRS officials said earlier this year.

In June Koskinen told Congress the emails were probably lost for good because the disaster recovery tape holds onto the data for only six months. He said even if the IRS had sought the emails within the six-month period, it would have been a complicated and difficult process to produce them from the tapes.

The IRS also lost the emails of several other employees who worked under Lerner during that period.

Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., said the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee he chairs will be one of the committees that will examine the emails.

“Though it is unclear whether TIGTA has found all of the missing Lois Lerner e-mails, there may be significant information in this discovery,” Issa told the Examiner. “The Oversight Committee will be looking for information about her mindset and who she was communicating with outside the IRS during a critical period of time when the IRS was targeting conservative groups. This discovery also underscores the lack of cooperation Congress has received from the IRS. The agency first failed to disclose the loss to Congress and then tried to declare Lerner’s e-mails gone and lost forever. Once again it appears the IRS hasn’t been straight with Congress and the American people.”

I said the other day that Putin is to Obama as Obama is to Congress. Putin flouts the law, abuses norms, lies, justifies, and laughs in the face of argument or protest. Oh, did I write “Putin”? That’s Obama. Putin doesn’t even bother prevaricating; he just takes. It’s time for Ukraine—and Congress—to fight back. Edmund Burke: “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”

In lieu of good men, we’ll just have to hope for the best from the Republicans—i.e. we’re hosed.

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Ripe for Impeachment

I’m not saying it’ll happen: impeachment is more a political act than a legal one.

But Andy McCarthy makes the case:

I drew on Faithless Execution in last weekend’s column and in a follow-up Corner post, positing that, short of credibly threatening impeachment, Congress and the courts can neither compel a president to enforce the laws nor stop him from using his plenary pardon authority to grant a sweeping amnesty. That gets Obama two-thirds of the prize he is pursuing — namely, several million aliens whose illegal status has been purged, put on the path to inevitable voting rights that will give Democrats an invincible electoral majority.

By calling on Congress to pass a bill to his liking, Obama has admitted he doesn’t have the authority to do this on his own. He has said exactly that several times over the years, as captured in a video we posted yesterday. By issuing this fiat, therefore, he will exceed his authority—by his own admission and reasoning. Either the proposed amnesty will have no validity; or, if he attempts to enforce it, he will be violating the Constitution. Again, he says so.

That may seem like a political impossibility—I am far from prepared to issue one of my Thirstradamus predictions—but it may become more possible over time:

Congress could, in theory, block the president from granting illegal immigrants legal status and other positive benefits (such as work permits) without impeaching him. To do this in reality, though, Congress would have to use its power of the purse. Translation: It would take the credible threat of a government shutdown to check the president’s lawless conferral of benefits.

Alas, that constitutional parry has already been disavowed by GOP congressional leadership.

Against this backdrop, I am gratified that Fox News’s Megyn Kelly and Charles Krauthammer have just given the topic of impeachment in the immigration context more of the serious consideration it deserves. Appearing on The Kelly File Thursday, Dr. Krauthammer asserted that the president’s anticipated amnesty decree for millions of illegal aliens “is an impeachable offense.”

He is plainly correct. As Faithless Execution elaborates, “high crimes and misdemeanors,” the Constitution’s trigger for impeachment, is a term of art for abuses of power that violate the president’s fiduciary obligations to the American people he serves, the constitutional system he takes an oath to preserve, and the laws whose faithful execution is his core duty. High crimes and misdemeanors are not — or at least, not necessarily — the same as “crimes” and “misdemeanors” prosecutable in the courts. Impeachment is a political remedy (i.e., the removal of political authority), not a legal one (i.e., the removal of liberty after criminal indictment and conviction).

A sweeping amnesty for millions of unrepentant lawbreakers that punishes American workers, imposes crushing burdens on the states, and betrays law-abiding aliens who comply with our immigration rules is not an indictable offense. Yet it is obviously an impeachable one. So is the failure to enforce the immigration laws. And the effort to award by executive decree benefits that only Congress has the power to grant is patently lawless and thus just as clearly impeachable.

Exactly. And, not to be tiresome, but Obama, the ex-Senior Lecturer in Constitutional Law, has said so himself, repeatedly.

The argument goes on, but let me peel off here to discuss the politics. Impeachment requires a majority vote in the House, one I believe would pass easily. The case then is handed over to the Senate for “trial”. To convict, two-thirds (67) of the Senators need to vote in favor. When the new Congress is seated, there will be 54 Republicans, all of whom (let’s say) will vote for impeachment. Can they convince 13 Democrats to go against the party (and the country) to join them? Almost certainly not.

Obama’s proposed decree is politically unpopular, as is he, and a few Dems will vote to impeach. But not enough. As McCarthy says, impeachment is a political act more than a legal one. And there are more than enough political hacks among the Democrats in the Senate to spare The Nation’s First African American President™ from the humiliation of impeachment.

So, is it worth it to proceed? Democrat pollster Pat Caddell described Obama as a “raging narcissist”. Such people do not slink away with their tails between their legs. He’s not bluffing. He doesn’t have to: he can do the math as well as I can (both of us having gone to the same university). I’m not sure I see the point in pursuing a strategy that has almost no chance of success at the end, will leave the offending act unchanged, and may be political overkill.

And I’d vote to impeach him faster than you can say “undocumented citizens”.

But I wonder if wielding the power of the purse might not be a better option, even if it does lead to a shutdown. The GOP feels it took the brunt of criticism for the last “shutdown” (slowdown, barely), yet it just won an historic election. Unlike impeachment, cutting off funds is, as this administration likes to say, a “time-limited, scope-limited” action. A specific remedy to an unpopular act.

I’d also take my chances in the Supreme Court, however this issue might come before them. Even there, the issue would be as much political as it would be legal. But I think a majority of Roberts, Alito, Scalia, Thomas, and Kennedy would rule that the Constitution is not the president’s napkin at a barbecue joint, to be soiled, wadded up, and thrown away whenever it suited him. On that, I would give my Thirstradamus guarantee.

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Lieawatha Up For Promotion

Deputy Assistant Chief, but it’s a tight race:

Senate Democratic leaders are considering adding Sen. Elizabeth Warren to their leadership team, according to a source familiar with the discussions.

The source wouldn’t say which position the Massachusetts liberal is under consideration for, but the four top leadership jobs are expected to be held by the senators currently holding them: Sen. Harry Reid of Nevada, Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois, Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York and Sen. Patty Murray of Washington.

One possible post would be the head of the steering committee, which helps dole out committee assignments to Democrats. That position is currently held by Sen. Mark Begich of Alaska, who lost his re-election bid, although he told reporters Wednesday night he won’t formally concede until every vote is counted.

It’s not like she hasn’t climbed to her prominent height over the bodies of the fallen—Ted Kennedy, the Cherokee Nation. What’s one dead Eskimo?

And how perfect that Exalted Cheekbones will be in a leadership position for the minority party. Today, the wigwam; tomorrow, the White House!

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Noli Me Tangere

At least somebody gets news from MSNBC!

Morning Joe host Joe Scarborough and Meet the Press moderator Chuck Todd appear to have a much better relationship with senior Democratic leaders than President Obama does.

“I actually had a senator–and it happens quite a few times where senators will call us saying, what are you hearing over at the White House? What are they thinking on this bill?” Scarborough said. “I’ll go, are you kidding me?”

“I’ve had those conversations…” Todd said.

The distance between the president and senior Democratic leaders on the Hill is not a recent development, Scarborough said.

“One of the things that we’ve all heard from so many people–and it wasn’t like six years in–it was like two months in from the most senior Democrats–senators, on the Hill–‘He never calls; he never talks to us,’” Scarborough said.

To be fair to the big-eared galoot, you didn’t want him anywhere near you the past six months. Now it’s all “he never writes, he never calls”. He’s your goddamn president, you told us how dreamy he was! You don’t like him, vote to impeach. Then we’ll know you’re serious. Otherwise, shut up.

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Who Ordered the Egg Salad?

Remember all the stories about how Obama never mixed with members of Congress? He didn’t schmooze or gladhand? He even avoided his cabinet, preferring the company of intimate insiders like Valerie Jarrett and…Valerie Jarrett.

This has got to be hard for him to swallow:

Obama invited the top four House and Senate leaders to each bring along their top three deputies to the lunch in the White House Old Family Dining Room.


That’s right, sir. You take a big ol’ bite out of that s**t sandwich.

Republican aides said before the lunch that House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) and Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who is in line to become Senate majority leader, would press Obama and Democratic leaders to support dozens of House-passed bills that they believe could be quickly approved next year when the new Congress convenes and could help jump-start the economy.

Boehner and McConnell were also expected to remind Obama — as they did in public this week — that he runs the risk of spoiling any attempt at bipartisan cooperation if he takes steps to overhaul the nation’s immigration laws by using his presidential executive authorities, aides said.

“Finding common ground is going to be hard work, but it will be even harder if the president isn’t willing to work with us,” Boehner told reporters Thursday at his post-election news conference. “I’ve told the president before, he needs to put politics aside and rebuild trust.”

Which president does he mean? Fillmore? Not this one, surely. The first words out of his mouth to Republicans after the inauguration were “I won.” He has ignored Congressional intent, abused his office, and conspired with fellow Democrats in Congress to ruin the traditions and rules of the legislative body. Rebuild trust? Work with you? If you bring a knife, John Boehner, he’s bringing a gun.

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BTL’s I-Told-You-So Moment

Remember October 6th?

Sure you do:

My point is that the pall of Obama is so long and dark (dog whistle!), any race (dog whistle!) in which a Republican is within four points (maybe five) is statistically tied. If I’m right, the GOP will pick up as many as 9 out of ten seats, and hold a 54-46 edge in the Senate.

As of this moment, the GOP has 52 seats, with three seats—Alaska, Louisiana, and Virginia—still in contention. Give me Alaska and Louisiana (the latter in a runoff), and I’ll take my victory lap. And if Jeanne Shaheen’s disgraceful, repugnant siccing of the IRS on American conservatives had been known for even 24 hours longer than the 12 hours it was, the GOP would have won another seat in New Hampshire.

But then my prediction would have suffered. Sorry, Scott Brown, but I’ll save a glass of champers for you.

PS: As the race seemed to tilt rightward in the last few weeks, Rush wondered how much of that was actually happening compared to how much was the polling agencies finally acknowledging what was the case all along. No one wants to be wrong, polling agencies least of all, and after serving Democrat interests for most of the campaign (by making the races appear close), they have to shift closer to the truth to save their reputations. Rush, right again.

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Benghazi Blues

Over at NRO, something is bothering Andy McCarthy’s mind—and mine:

Why Won’t Republicans Get to the Bottom of Benghazi?
It’s not just Democrats who don’t want a full public airing.

In the midst of Libya’s civil war, the United States government decided to switch sides — we went from support for the Qaddafi regime that had been regarded as a key counterterrorism ally to support for “rebels” who very much included the anti-American jihadists Qaddafi had been helping us track. That was not just an Obama-administration policy preference; it had strong support from prominent senior Republicans in Congress. The toppling of Qaddafi that resulted enabled jihadists to raid the regime’s arsenal. That has greatly benefitted both al-Qaeda and the Islamic State terrorists currently rampaging in Iraq, Syria, Libya, and much of northern Africa.

Meanwhile, the Obama administration, again with significant Republican support, decided to aid and abet Syrian “rebels” who, as in Libya, very much included anti-American jihadists. There is colorable suspicion that this assistance included the gathering up of arms in Libya for shipment to Syrian “rebels.” Abdelhakim Belhadj, the al-Qaeda operative who was Ambassador Stevens’s “rebel” point-man in Benghazi, was clearly involved in at least one major shipment of weapons that went to Syrian “rebels” — including to some of the jihadist groups the United States is now bombing. That shipment was coordinated by Turkey, a country with which Ambassador Stevens, Secretary Clinton, and President Obama worked closely — a country whose ambassador was the last diplomat Stevens met with in Benghazi before being killed.

There will be no accountability for the Benghazi massacre absent a full public airing of what the United States government was doing in that most dangerous of places: Setting up shop among anti-American jihadists and staying there like sitting ducks even as other countries and international organizations pulled out. What was the benefit? Trying to limit the damage caused by switching sides in Libya? Fueling a new jihadist threat in Syria and Iraq — the very one we are now struggling to quell?

In Washington, there seem to be a lot of people resistant to a full public airing of the policy. They may not all be Democrats.

Libya, Syria, Turkey, Obama, Clinton, Stevens…and Republicans?

I’m as partisan as the next man—more, much more—and I love to see Clinton twisting in the wind, but if that’s all Benghazi is to Republicans in Congress, shame on them. If Stevens was part of some shady, dirty operation, maybe he knew what he was in for. Maybe Sean Smith did too. But Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty died trying to save them. I’d say their sacrifice deserves a little more than cheap point-scoring, regardless of where the story leads.

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BTL’s Midterm Prognostication

Like Carnac the Magnificent, I can see the future.

Unlike Carnac, I do not need a turban or an envelope.

The news will do:

Angry and frustrated voters are planning to use the midterm elections in one month to tell President Obama they oppose his agenda, the highest “no vote” percentage in the last 16 years measured by Gallup.

The polling outfit found that 32 percent of voters want to send a message of opposition with their vote, compared to just 20 percent who are sending a signal of support.

That is 13 points higher than in 1998 when former President Clinton was headed to impeachment for lying about his sex affair with a former White House intern and even a smidge higher — 2 points — than in 2008, when Americans were tired of President Bush’s military actions in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Obama is more hated, more detested, than a philanderer and a war criminal. Armed with that information (such hate speech, BTL!), let’s look at the map:

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And polling of the closest races:

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RCP averages several polls, some out of date, but let’s use these numbers. My point is that the pall of Obama is so long and dark (dog whistle!), any race (dog whistle!) in which a Republican is within four points (maybe five) is statistically tied. If I’m right, the GOP will pick up as many as 9 out of ten seats, and hold a 54-46 edge in the Senate. They’ll certainly keep, probably widen, their lead in the House.

I’ve thought this since ObamaCare self-destructed, but who even remembers ObamaCare (for the moment)? Border security and the walking dead (from Liberia) may have shot to the top of Obama’s Incompetence Chart. And his promise of amnesty for illegal aliens can’t be far from voters’ minds.

But so what? What will the Republicans do with their majority? God knows, there’s a lot they can do (or undo), but do they have the will, the nerve, even the intent to push back against Obama’s overreach? 2016 will have to wait; the Democrats are going down—have to go down—this year.

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We Get Results

Just the other day I asked where was Medea Benjamin and Code Pink now that we’re going to wa—, no, wait a minute…time-limited, scope-limited…no, that’s not it.

“A very significant counterterrorism operation”:

Before Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel could finish the first sentence of his opening statement before the Senate Armed Services Committee, protesters from anti-war NGO Code Pink infiltrated the room and shouted down the Defense Secretary and committee chairman Carl Levin (D., Mich.).

“No more war!” the protester shouted. “The American public does not want war! We do not want war! No military solution to this! No more war! No more war! No military solution!”

“You’re acting very warlike yourself,” Levin said.

After Hagel’s opening statement, two more protesters from Code Pink stood up in an attempt to interrupt the hearing and were promptly removed from the chamber, but not before shouting, “No more war! No military solution!” several more times.

That’s not all that happened:

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[T]hings took a turn for the creepy when another protester, another young woman took the floor, and Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) quipped, “I always enjoy attention from this group,” prompting another senator to shoot back, “I don’t think she’s old enough for you.”

What good is being an old man if you can’t be a dirty old man? Good for Code Pink—I’d rather see this hottie than Medea Benjamin or Cindy Sheehan, God forbid.

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Can Hamass Have Our Cake and Eat it Too?

The answer is getting closer to no:

The US Congress is targeting the Palestine Authority (PA) with a cutoff of funds unless US President Barack Obama can justify how continued support to Ramallah advances national security needs.

Moves by both houses of Congress to terminate two decades of economic and security assistance come in response to the June 2 establishment of a new Fatah-led consensus government backed by Hamas, a US-declared terrorist organization.

The House Appropriations Committee on Tuesday approved a 2015 foreign operations bill that bars aid to the PA from some $440 million in proposed funding.

The Senate’s version of its 2015 foreign operations bill, which includes similar language barring funding to the PA, was approved by the Senate Appropriations Committee on June 19.

Unlike previous years, when the House banned funding for a government over which Hamas “exercises undue influence,” this year’s language targets any type of power-sharing government “that results from an agreement with Hamas.”

Both Houses saw fit to include language that limits Obama’s ability to ignore the law, as is his wont.

Alas, they missed this chance:

A much more restrictive bill, introduced in April by Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., failed to attract sufficient support by Senate colleagues.

Labeled the “Stand With Israel Act,” the bill aimed to rescind the president’s right to waive funding for any type of Palestinian unity government.

The text:

“Prohibition on Foreign Assistance.

(a) In General. Except as provided under subsection (b) and notwithstanding any other provision of law, no amounts may be obligated or expended to provide any direct United States assistance, loan guarantee, or debt relief to the Palestinian Authority, or any affiliated governing entity or leadership organization.

(b) Exception. The prohibition under subsection (a) shall have no effect for a fiscal year if the President certifies to Congress during that fiscal year that the Palestinian Authority has —

(1) Formally recognized the right of Israel to exist as a Jewish state;
(2) Publicly recognized the state of Israel;
(3) Renounced terrorism;
(4) Purged all individuals with terrorist ties from security services;
(4) Terminated funding of anti-American and anti-Israel incitement;
(5) Publicly pledged to not engage in war with Israel; and
(6) Honored previous diplomatic agreements.”

Israel-boosters look upon Rand Paul with some suspicion, given the foreign policy of his father. But given the length he has gone to in order to keep President Barack Hussein Obama from funding Arab terrorists, it would appear we’re focusing on the wrong politician.

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Why Do Bad Things Happen to Good People?

After 22 terms in Congress, he was just getting the hang of it!

Over his 40-year career, Rep. Charles B. Rangel, “the congressman from Harlem,” became one of best-known political figures in American politics and a defining voice in the nation’s black politics.

The longest-serving member of the influential New York delegation, Rangel was one of the founders of the Congressional Black Caucus and over time came to represent one of the standards of Democratic liberalism.

But the campaign for the Democratic nomination, to be decided in a primary Tuesday, has turned into a debate about whether Rangel has stayed too long in office and whether he still best represents the interests of the district.

Through immigration and redistricting, what is now New York’s 13th Congressional District — a seat held by Rangel since 1971 and seen as the center of New York’s modern black political power structure — has seen a seismic demographic shift from majority black to majority Hispanic.

Hoping to seize on those demographics as well as the perception of Rangel’s waning political power in the years since he was formally censured by Congress in 2010 for ethics violations, state Sen. Adriano Espaillat is mounting a spirited challenge to the 22-term incumbent — a rematch of the 2012 race in which Rangel topped Espaillat by just 1,000 votes.

Don’t the Dominicans know how much Charlie Rangel loves their Republic?

Rep. Charles B. Rangel (D-N.Y.), who was until his recent troubles one of the House’s most powerful members, was found guilty Tuesday of breaking 11 separate congressional rules related to his personal finances and his fundraising efforts for a New York college.

Those charges pointed to a collection of infractions related to four central elements of the case: that Rangel improperly used his congressional staff and official letterhead to raise seven-figure donations from corporate charities and chief executives for a college wing named in his honor; violated New York City rules by housing his political committees in his rent-controlled apartments in Harlem; did not pay taxes on a villa he owns in the Dominican Republic; and did not properly disclose hundreds of thousands of dollars in personal financial assets.

We all gotta go sometime, Charlie, even corrupt Democrats. What a world, what a world.

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Cantor Autopsy

Lots of stories about Eric Cantor, almost all of which I haven’t bothered to read. But some of which seem to be further off the mark than others.

Should Democrats be “giddy” over victories by a movement they declared dead and buried? The Tea Party is misnamed: it is a movement of similar-minded people that espouses a few common core beliefs (small government, low taxes, etc.), but nowhere near as many beliefs ascribed to them (racism, militantism, etc.). There are some Tea Party aligned organizations, but nothing as centrally organized as a party.

Whatever RINO horns the Tea Party may claim in no way redounds to the benefit of Democrats. The Virginia 7th will still have a Republican representative, likely one more hostile to compromise with Democrats than Cantor. I hesitate to draw too many conclusions from Cantor’s loss, but the little I’ve gleaned is that it was just as much Brat’s win. It took some nerve to run to the right of a seven-term congressman in a leadership position in a party primary, but to do so with no money, no national support, against prevailing polls—and win, convincingly—says something about the candidate. A caller to Rush today from that district cemented the point. She had been a long-time supporter of Cantor, but found his attitude to a qualified challenger off-putting. She recruited as many friends as she could to consider going for Brat over Cantor. In a congressional district, that sort of word of mouth can have an effect, especially if the incumbent and his supporters are taking the race for granted. As Cantor surely was.

I said before that Cantor was defeated over local issues, like potholes and bus schedules. But that’s not exactly right. Certainly, Cantor had “gone Hollywood” (Beltway, in his case): he acted as a party leader, not as a direct representative of the people who had to get his contract renewed every two years. But the concerns of his constituents were just as serious the rest of ours: immigration, federal lawlessness, etc. I also noted before that his share of the vote drifted ever lower in reelection after reelection. He doubtless would have beaten a Democrat opponent in the general election in a heavily Republican district, but he was vulnerable in the primary. Obviously.

My prediction of a repeat of 2010 in 2014 predates Cantor’s loss, and it’s only been bolstered by it. There may be a case where a Tea Party-esque candidate will prove too far to the right to win in the general election. But I think the opposite will be the rule. The Tea Party will bring out the voters.

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