Archive for Constitution

We Can Quantify The Loss Of Personal Freedom Under Obama

Do you remember all those people who claimed that George W. Bush was taking away our personal freedoms? All those fiery dinner parties? Where are those folks now?

Americans’ assessments of their personal freedom have significantly declined under President Obama, according to a new study from the Legatum Institute in London, and the United States now ranks below 20 other countries on this measure.

The research shows that citizens of countries including France, Uruguay, and Costa Rica now feel that they enjoy more personal freedom than Americans.

As the Washington Examiner reported this morning, representatives of the Legatum Institute are in the U.S. this week to promote the sixth edition of their Prosperity Index. The index aims to measure aspects of prosperity that typical gross domestic product measurements don’t include, such as entrepreneurship and opportunity, education, and social capital.

The freedom scores are based on polling data from 2013 indicating citizens’ satisfaction with their nation’s handling of civil liberties, freedom of choice, tolerance of ethnic minorities, and tolerance of immigrants. Polling data were provided by Gallup World Poll Service. The index is notable for the way it measures how free people feel, unlike other freedom indices that measure freedom by comparing government policies.

“This is not a good report for Obama,” Legatum Institute spokeswoman Cristina Odone told the Washington Examiner.

In the 2010 report (which relied on data gathered in 2009), the U.S. was ranked ninth in personal freedom, but that ranking has since fallen to 21st, with several countries, including France, Germany and the United Kingdom passing the U.S.

The nation’s overall personal freedom score has declined by 17 percent since 2009, with a 22 percent drop in combined civil liberty and free choice contributing to that decline.

Of the eight categories in the index, personal freedom was America’s second lowest performance relative to other countries. The U.S. had its lowest ranking when it came to safety and security (a broad measure of how threatened citizens feel in instances such as walking late at night, or expressing their opinions) — ranking 31st out of 142 countries.

More at the link.

– Aggie

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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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Document Dump

Holder finally releases some Fast and Furious documents, during mid-term election coverage

The Justice Department sent Congress 64,280 pages of documents it had previously withheld from the botched Fast and Furious gun-walking operation on Tuesday, in a move Republicans said was an admission by President Obama that he overstepped his legal bounds.

Investigators had sought the documents for years, with the House even suing in federal court to force their release. Mr. Obama had asserted executive privilege, claiming the documents were part of the “deliberative process” of White House decision-making and therefore didn’t need to be divulged, but the court rejected those claims.

The most despicable administration evah.

– Aggie

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This Is What American Fascism Looks Like

Obama planning amnesty by Christmas

The law? Why Obama Is The Law.

ABC News Chief White House Correspondent Jon Karl reported that according to WH officials “the president will move forward with an executive order on immigration reform “no matter how big a shellacking Democrats get tonight” during ABC’s Election coverage on Tuesday.

Karl said “White House officials are saying that you can expect the president to set an aggressive, and defiant tone tomorrow. You’re not going to see any mea culpas, no big firings, no change in direction.”

He added “officials tell me the president is prepared to aggressively pursue his agenda using his power of executive authority, where he can’t work with Congress, and the big one is going to be on immigration reform. White House officials tell me that the president will move forward with an executive order on immigration reform no matter how big a shellacking Democrats get tonight.”

I surely hope that all you O-Bots recognize what you’ve done to the country.

– Aggie

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Why Bother With Elections?

No matter how you vote, the machine registers for the democrat.

Early voting just started last week in Maryland, but there are already accusations that some voting machines are changing Republican votes to Democrat. Now Republicans are calling for an investigation by the State Board of Elections.

As Marylanders go to the polls, there are concerns that the vote you cast may not be for the candidate you want.

“We’ve heard from scores of citizens in our district and around the state who have had this problem where they hit one button to vote for one person, and when they go to the summary they see that the other person was checked,” said Del Nik Kipke, (R) Anne Arundel County.
Republicans say they’ve received several dozen reports of Republican votes being changed to Democrat.

Del. Kathy Szeliga says it happened to her.
“I kept pushing the Republican guy’s name and the machine kept going beep, beep, beep,” said Szeliga, (R) Baltimore & Harford co.
Now GOP leaders are calling for an investigation.

Investigation, eh? That’ll make a big difference.

– Aggie

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The Monday Morning After

After that exhausting weekend cavorting with golf buddies on the links and at Camp David, President Obama returns to work:

Obama Schedule || Monday, August 4, 2014
by KEITH KOFFLER on AUGUST 3, 2014, 9:30 PM
Today is President Obama’s 53rd birthday.

11:00 am || Receives the Presidential Daily Briefing
11:45 am || Meet with Treasury Secretary Lew

He could sleep till 10:45, haul his hungover ass in to the Oval Office for the briefing (mug of coffee in hand), do the Sudoku until Lew shows up, then go back to bed.

And people say he’s checked out.

PS: What do you give to the man who has everything?

President Obama has made it clear that he has a pen and a phone, and that he is willing to go around Congress and the Constitution to get his way. So for his birthday, the RNC is delivering a copy of the U.S. Constitution to the White House so Obama can read it before he picks up his pen or phone.

PS: Of course, as this writer observes, the only good President Obama is a golfing President Obama:

[T]he best we can hope for is presidents who simply do nothing. Going back to 2009 when he reached the White House, had Barack Obama hung around the White House bowling alley these last six years he would be presiding over a booming economy today as previously mentioned.

Fast forward to 2014, Obama is finally doing very little, and unsurprisingly the health of the economy is starting to reflect stock market optimism about a do-nothing president that began to register many years before this one. To be consistent, conservatives should now be praising our listless, exhausted, unfocused president. Let the economic boom begin!

The jobless economic boom, he means.

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Part Of ObamaCare Illegal

President vows to ignore ruling

In a potentially crippling blow to Obamacare, a federal appeals court panel declared Tuesday that government subsidies worth billions of dollars that helped 4.7 million people buy insurance on HealthCare.gov are illegal.
The 2-1 ruling said such subsidies can be granted only to people who bought insurance in an Obamacare exchange run by an individual state or the District of Columbia—not on the federally run exchange HealthCare.gov. The ruling relied on a close reading of the Affordable Care Act.

“Section 36B plainly makes subsidies available in the Exchanges established by states,” wrote Senior Circuit Judge Raymond Randolph in his majority opinion in the case known as Halbig v. Burwell, where he was joined by Judge Thomas Griffith.

“We reach this conclusion, frankly, with reluctance. At least until states that wish to can set up their own Exchanges, our ruling will likely have significant consequences both for millions of individuals receiving tax credits through federal Exchanges and for health insurance markets more broadly.”

In his dissent, Judge Harry Edwards, who called the case a “not-so-veiled attempt to gut” Obamacare, wrote that the judgment of the majority “portends disastrous consequences.”

Indeed, the 72-page decision threatens to unleash a cascade of effects that could seriously compromise Obamacare’s goals of compelling people to get health insurance, and helping them afford it.

White House will ignore:

The Obama administration said it will ask the full U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit to reverse the panel’s decision, which for now does not have the rule of law.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest said the ruling—for now—”does not have any practical impact” on premium subsidies issued to HealthCare.gov enrollees now.”

“We are confident” that the ruling will be overturned, Earnest said. “We are confident in the legal position we have . . . the Department of Justice will litigate these claims through the federal court system.”

Earnest said “it was obvious” that Congress intended subsidies, or tax credits, to be issued to Obamacare enrollees regardless of what kind of exchange they used to buy insurance.

Our Tin-Pot-Dictator-In-Chief Has Spoken!

Also, Professor Larry Tribe of Harvard has this to say:

President Obama’s old Harvard Law professor, Laurence Tribe, said that he “wouldn’t bet the family farm” on Obamacare’s surviving the legal challenges to an IRS rule about who is eligible for subsidies that are currently working their way through the federal courts.

“I don’t have a crystal ball,” Tribe told the Fiscal Times. “But I wouldn’t bet the family farm on this coming out in a way that preserves Obamacare.”

– Aggie

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He’s Not Constitutional, Bitches

And far from being the law of the land, he is the law unto himself:

JONATHAN TURLEY: Frankly it’s difficult to discuss these quaint constitutional issues in what is often a poisonous political environment. As a people we’ve become — we’ve come to the point where we can’t just simply disagree, we have to despise each other. We subscribe to the worst motivations of our opponents and elevate our own proposals over process. To put it simply, we’ve embraced what the Queen Mother said in Richard III. We just think of our babies as sweeter than they were and he who slew them is fowler than he is.

I don’t believe the president has a desire for tyrannical authority. I don’t question his motivation. I question his means. Our system is changing and this body is the one branch that must act if we’re to reverse those changes. We’re seeing the emergence of a different model of government, a model long ago rejected by the framers. A dominant presidency has occurred with very little Congressional opposition. Indeed, when President Obama pledged to circumvent Congress, he received rapturous applause from the very body that he was proposing to make practically irrelevant. Now many members are contesting the right of this institution to even be heard in federal court. This body is moving from self-loathing to self-destruction in a system that is in crisis.

The president’s pledge to effectively govern alone is alarming, and what is most alarming is his ability to fulfill that pledge. When a president can govern alone, he can become a government unto himself, which is precisely the danger the framers sought to avoid. What we’re witnessing today is one of the greatest crises that I expect the members of this committee and this body will face. It has a patina of politics that is hard to penetrate. It did not start with President Obama. I was critical of his predecessor, and certainly this goes back long before George Bush, but it has reached a tipping point. (House Rules Commitee, July 16, 2014)

And this guy is a self-described fan of Obama. He even tries to share the blame for Obama’s unconstitutional behavior with a spineless Congress. To which there is some truth, even if that’s like blaming the victim of an abusive relationship. Obama says he wants to “do stuff”, but Congress won’t let him. A former Senior Lecturer at law school, he should recognize that as a “check”, intended to “balance” two equal branches of government. Instead, this petulant brat acts out by leaving his family behind and gorging on junk food. If only that were all.

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Smidgen of Corruption Update

Another red line is crossed:

STEVE KORNACKI, MSNBC: Jonathan, let me bring you in now. [...] Presidential overreach, executive orders they think sort of undercut Congress, but you know, you’ve been following this, their complaints for the last few years, really. Legally speaking, is there any kind of a case here?

JONATHAN TURLEY, PROFESSOR OF LAW: Oh, I think there is a case against the president for exceeding his authority. I happen to agree with the president on many of his priorities and policies, but as I testified in Congress, I think that he has crossed the constitutional line.

KORNACKI: Where has he crossed it? Like what specific issue has he crossed it on?

TURLEY: When the president went to Congress and said he would go it alone, it obviously raises a concern. There’s no license for going it alone in our system, and what he’s done, is very problematic. He has shifted $454 million of the ACA from appropriated purpose to another purpose. He’s told agencies not to enforce some laws, like immigration laws. He has effectively rewritten laws through the active interpretation that I find very problematic. While I happen to agree with him, I voted for him, I think this is a problem.

One broken law is a tragedy. A million is a statistic.

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I Know Where Lois Lerner’s Emails Are!

Buried with Jimmy Hoffa! Once we find the highest profile victim of a mob hit, we’ll find the highest profile target of the Obama criminal family.

Start with the north end zone of Giants Stadium.

The top Republican on one of the House committees investigating the IRS targeting scandal reacted furiously late Wednesday to a report that ex-IRS official Lois Lerner’s hard drive had been recycled, making it likely that many emails sent to and from Lerner prior to the summer of 2011 will never be recovered.

The Politico report cited two anonymous sources, as well as Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, who confirmed that the Senate Finance Committee had been told that the hard drive had been discarded.

“If the IRS truly got rid of evidence in a way that violated the Federal Records Act and ensured the FBI never got a crack at recovering files from an official claiming a Fifth Amendment protection against self-incrimination, this is proof their whole line about ‘losing’ e-mails in the targeting scandal was just one more attempted deception,” House Oversight and Government Reform Committee chairman Darrell Issa, R-Calif., said in a statement. “Official records, like the e-mails of a prominent official, don’t just disappear without a trace unless that was the intention.”

Are there no Woodwards among the press anymore? I’d take even one Bernstein. Heck, I’d accept Geraldo Rivera in a towel if he just asked the basic questions. Like, I don’t know, what kind of idiots do you think we are? Check that: we know what kind of idiots they are:

That was from the New York Times, if you didn’t catch it. You think someone like that is going to accuse Obama of Nixonian tactics? Even Nixon destroyed only 18 minutes.

Anyway, as any and all IT professional has already told us, there ought to be multiple back-ups, indeed possibly hard copies, of everything on Lerner’s computer. One could even access the computers of all of Lerner’s common correspondents to piece together an email trail. If the Iranian revolutionaries could piece together the secrets of the US Embassy in 1979, how hard could it be today if we really wanted to know?

PS: I am reminded of my favorite Doonesbury strip from over 40 years ago:

Untitled

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The Koch Amendment

You can call it the Steyer Amendment if you prefer

But if you want to know Harry Reid’s target, Koch is it:

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) on Thursday said the Senate would vote in the coming weeks on legislation for a constitutional amendment to give Congress the power to regulate spending levels in federal campaigns.

Reid said Democrats are pushing for the vote to combat what he said is an effort by billionaires Charles and David Koch to “buy” the U.S. Senate this year. He said that effort is allowed in light of Supreme Court decision that prevents limitations on political spending, and said Congress must act to save democracy from the rich.

“It’s unacceptable that the recent Supreme Court decisions have taken power away from the American voter, instead giving it to a select few of mega-billionaires,” Reid said on the Senate floor.

Reid said the vote would be held shortly on a proposed constitutional amendment from Sens. Tom Udall (D-N.M.) and Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), S.J.Res. 19.

I was curious to know: what does the Amendment say?

‘‘ARTICLE
‘‘SECTION 1. Congress shall have power to regulate the raising and spending of money and in kind equivalents with respect to Federal elections, including through setting limits on—

‘‘(1) the amount of contributions to candidates for nomination for election to, or for election to, Federal office; and

‘‘(2) the amount of expenditures that may be made by, in support of, or in opposition to such candidates.

‘‘SECTION 2. A State shall have power to regulate the raising and spending of money and in kind equivalents with respect to State elections, including through setting limits on—

‘‘(1) the amount of contributions to candidates for nomination for election to, or for election to, State office; and

‘‘(2) the amount of expenditures that may be made by, in support of, or in opposition to such candidates.

‘‘SECTION 3. Congress shall have power to implement and enforce this article by appropriate legislation.’’.

Odd that the legislation is dated November 1, 2011—two and a half years ago—and Reid is only now getting around to it. You wouldn’t suspect politics, would you? It sounds innocuous enough, until you think about it. Congress is partisan by nature—yet Congress will seek to regulate free speech. It’s a direct contradiction of the First Amendment.

What’s going on inside their heads? And what will they say if this thing becomes law (it won’t), and Tom Steyer and the Teamsters are told to put their checkbooks away? Our home state of Massachusetts offers a clue: when the Democrat legislature feared that a Republican governor might make an interim appointment, they changed the law. When the law later threatened to work agains them, they changed it back.

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Thank God

It’s Constitutional, bi—…blessed:

The Supreme Court says prayers that open town council meetings do not violate the Constitution even if they routinely stress Christianity.

The court said in 5-4 decision Monday that the content of the prayers is not critical as long as officials make a good-faith effort at inclusion.

The ruling was a victory for the town of Greece, N.Y., outside of Rochester.

In 1983, the court upheld an opening prayer in the Nebraska legislature and said that prayer is part of the nation’s fabric, not a violation of the First Amendment. Monday’s ruling was consistent with the earlier one.

Raised by a pair of atheists (one nominally Christian, one nominally Jewish), I was occasionally made uncomfortable by public prayer. So the [bleep] what? I lived, I got over it. In fact, I’m a little jealous of those with a religious upbringing. Faith is the one thing I find hard to fake.

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