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Saturday, August 31, 2013

Rand Paul: If Boehner Passes Amnesty, Will Be 'Final Thing He Does as Speaker

Rand Paul: If Boehner Passes Amnesty, Will Be 'Final Thing He Does as Speaker'

on Fri, 30 Aug 2013

Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) said on Laura Ingraham’s radio program that House Speaker John Boehner’s speakership is in jeopardy if any form of amnesty, such as the Senate's immigration reform bill, becomes law. 

“I’m worried about conference,” Paul said Friday,according to Roll Call. “The only way to avoid a problem with conference is for the speaker of the House to say we are not going to conference, and we will not allow a vote on anything coming out of conference that resembles the Senate bill, and if there were a much more limited bill that emphasizes border security first, that we would do that.”

"Conference" refers to a legislative processwherein after the House passes its own immigration bill, it will enter negotiations with Senate leaders and even the White House to reconcile the differences between the two chambers' bills. Conservative lawmakers fear that in conference, Boehner would allow Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to include a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants in the final law submitted to President Barack Obama.

Paul asserted that if Boehner passes anything like the Senate bill, conservatives in the House will more than likely drive him out of office.

“If he allows something to pass out of conference that looks anything like the Senate bill and is passed with a majority of Democrats, I think that will be the final thing he does as speaker,” Paul said. “So, I think he knows that, and I think he’s going to be very cautious, and I hope he will defend us on this and not pass something that looks like the Senate bill.”

Boehner has agreed that any bill, or conference committee report, that would be voted on would need the support of the majority of House Republicans before receiving a vote in the House. But Boehner has not agreed to kill the Senate bill once and for all by saying no House immigration bill, or group of bills, would be allowed to go to conference with it.

According to The Hill, House Budget Committee chairman Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), the GOP's most recent vice presidential candidate who with Mitt Romney lost to President Obama almost a year ago, is working with the Chamber of Commerce to finalize a deal on immigration legislation.

Obama Will Ask Congress for Authority to Attack Syria

Obama Will Ask Congress for Authority to Attack Syria

on Sat, 31 Aug 2013

President Barack Obama spoke from the Rose Garden on Saturday, announcing his decision to seek Congressional approval for a strike on Syria. In the past week, as evidence grew that the Syrian government used chemical weapons on its own citizens, members of Congress urged Obama to consult with them before the US undertook any military action against Syria. 

Obama said he was convinced Syria was guilty of using chemical weapons. He also said he believed he had the authority to take military action. He added, though, that as the leader of a constitutional republic, he thought it better to get Congressional approval. 

Obama said our military capability to strike Syria would still remain a week or a month from now. The international uncertainty, then will continue. Congress is not scheduled to return to Washington until September 9th. 

Congress is scheduled to meet for 9 legislative days in September. In addition to debate over military intervention in Syria, Congress will also have to extend government spending authority, which expires at the end of the month. 

Reports: Tea Partiers Heckle Rubio over Amnesty in Orlando

Reports: Tea Partiers Heckle Rubio over Amnesty in Orlando

on Fri, 30 Aug 2013

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) is trying to regain credibility with the conservative base by helping Sens. Ted Cruz (R-FL), Mike Lee (R-UT) and Rand Paul (R-KY) with their effort to defund Obamacare in the upcoming Continuing Resolution (CR), but Tea Party activists are still placing pressure on the junior Senator.

“Amid a smattering of boos and yells of ‘no amnesty,’ Sen. Marco Rubio waded through a rowdy summer-recess crowd on Friday where he tried to focus more on the push to defund ObamaCare than the ongoing debate over immigration legislation,” Fox News’ Serafin Gomez reports from Orlando’s Americans for Prosperity Summit.

During his remarks, Gomez notes, “Rubio made no mention of immigration legislation that has irked some in the audience—including a group of elderly women from New Mexico who were wearing ‘Pink Slip Rubio’ buttons.”

The Washington Post’s Matea Gold reports that Rubio “did not acknowledge” the heckling crowd and did not directly address immigration legislation before Congress.

The Post quoted a couple Tea Party activists in the crowd disappointed by Rubio’s performance in Washington. 

“I’d like to see Marco Rubio, just so I can tell him what I think of his positions: He’s on the wrong track of being a conservative,” Rick Barr, an activist from Indianapolis, told Gold.

“We’re all a little irritated with Marco,” Judy Peterson, an activist and retired special education teacher, said, according to Gold. “Now, that doesn’t mean we’ve thrown him under the bus. But we would like him to, just come on. He hasn’t explained it very well.”

The continued pressure from the conservative base against Rubio comes as Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), an opponent of the immigration legislation that Rubio shepherded through the Senate, predicted House Majority Leader John Boehner will lose his Speakership if he allows the Senate bill or anything like it to become law. 

“If he allows something to pass out of conference that looks anything like the Senate bill and is passed with a majority of Democrats, I think that will be the final thing he does as speaker,” Paul said on Laura Ingraham’s radio program on Friday. “So, I think he knows that, and I think he’s going to be very cautious, and I hope he will defend us on this and not pass something that looks like the Senate bill.”

Friday, August 30, 2013

Appeals court says White House visitor logs can be kept from public |
Appeals court says White House visitor logs can be kept from public |

Photo - President Obama and his successors in the Oval Office are not obligated to make public the names of individuals visiting the White House, according to a decision of the federal Circuit Court for the District of Columbia made public Friday. (AP/Jacquelyn Martin)
President Obama and his successors in the Oval Office are not obligated to make public the names...

President Obama and his successors in the Oval Office are not obligated to make public the names of individuals visiting the White House, according to a decision of the federal Circuit Court for the District of Columbia made public Friday.

The case was brought by Judicial Watch, the government watchdog nonprofit that has been fighting a long legal battle seeking to force release of the White House visitor logs as public records under the Freedom of Information Act.

But in a decision that is drawing intense criticism from across the ideological spectrum, the circuit court said the president has a "constitutional perogative" not to tell the American people who he or his staff meets with in the White House.

The court said the president has such a prerogative because he is not covered by the FOIA and because of "special policy considerations" that allow exemption of visitor logs from classification as agency records subject to release under the public records law.

President Obama began making public some of the White House visitor logs in 2009, but refused a Judicial Watch request for all of the logs.

Administration spokesmen have often pointed to the partial release of the logs to support the president's claim that his is "the most transparent administration in history."

Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton was extremely disappointed by the decision, saying "a president that doesn't want Americans, under law, to know who his visitors are is a president who doesn't want to be accountable. The appellate court decision punches another hole in the Freedom of Information Act, the law which allows Americans to know what their government is up to."

Fitton's group is considering filing an appeal, which would be to the Supreme Court. There is no guarantee that the high court would accept the case.

"The legal gymnastics in this unprecedented decision shows that President Obama is not only one willing rewrite laws without going through Congress. And this legal fight, in which President Obama is fighting tooth and nail full disclosure under law of his White House visitors, further exposes his big lie that his administration is the most transparent in history. The silver lining is that at least the appellate court opened up the records of tens of thousands of White House visits that Obama was trying to keep secret."

The Obama administration is not solely responsible for the status of the logs, however, as the court repeatedly cited in its decision a 2006 memorandum of understanding between President George W. Bush and the U.S. Secret Service, which has custody of the records.

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, another nonprofit watchdog group that, like Judicial Watch, often focuses on FOIA-related issues, pointed to the MOU's role in the decision:

"Central to the court's ruling was a 2006 memorandum of understanding (MOU) the White House and Secret Service entered into after CREW made requests and then sued for access to the visitor logs. That MOU specified that White House visitor records are controlled at all times by the White House. The timing and circumstances surrounding the creation of the MOU strongly suggest it was manufactured solely to buttress the government's litigation posture, but the D.C. Circuit refused to consider the government's motives."

Melanie Sloan, CREW's executive director, said the "White House visitor records have proven of enormous value to the public in exposing the outside influences brought to bear on presidential decisions and policies. With this ruling, that window on the White House is now shut."

Go here to read the court decision.

Mark Tapscott is executive editor of the Washington Examiner.

The lonely president

The lonely president

Recent events have put President Obama in an uncomfortable, go-it-alone spot. | AP Photo

By GLENN THRUSH & JENNIFER EPSTEIN | 08/29/2013 10:49 PM EDT | Updated: 08/30/2013 09:08 AM EDT

President Barack Obama had hoped for a quick, convincing strike on Syria, but growing opposition and Great Britain's stunning rejection of the attack has thrust him into the uncomfortable position of go-it-alone hawk.

Just how Obama, whose career sprung from the ashes of George W. Bush's Iraq policy, got to this extraordinary moment in his presidency is a tale of good intentions, seat-of-the-pants planning and, above all, how a cautious commander-in-chief became imprisoned by a promise.

Obama seems likely to bull ahead with air attacks despite an impact and popularity that will be, at best, limited - an unsavory outcome marginally better than packing up his Tomahawks and going home, which would deal a humbling blow to U.S. prestige and embolden the Assad regime.

It's a dilemma first-term Obama - who warned author Bob Woodward in 2010 that "once the dogs of war are unleashed, you don't know where [they are] going to lead" - was careful to avoid.

(Also on POLITICO: White House offers Hill no timetable on Syria strike)

But second-term Obama, tethered to his August 2012 "red line" pronouncement on Assad's use of chemical weapons and eager to shed his lead-from-behind image, now runs "the risk of looking weak any way this turns out," in the words of one former adviser who cited the limited impact of any missiles-only strike.

"Obama's caution has served him well in the past, but he's completely abandoned it, and he's paying for it now," said Daniel Kurtzer, who served as Bill Clinton's ambassador to Egypt and George W. Bush's ambassador to Israel.

"On two occasions, the rhetoric has gotten ahead of the policy-making process. Once when the president talked about chemical weapons being a game changer and a red line," Kurtzer said. "Then [this week] when Obama and [Secretary of State John] Kerry made remarks that point clearly in the direction of some kind of military action - even though he hasn't decided what he's going to do and he hasn't found a coalition."

Obama: Sex Ed for Kindergartners ‘Is the Right Thing to Do’ | CNS News

Obama: Sex Ed for Kindergartners ‘Is the Right Thing to Do’ | CNS News

( - The Chicago Public Schools this year are mandating that the district’s kindergarten classes include sex education, fulfilling a proposal President Barack Obama supported in 2003 when he served in the Illinois state senate and later defended when he ran for president in the 2008 election cycle.
At a Planned Parenthood convention at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Washington, D.C., on July 17, 2007, a teenage girl who said she worked as a sex-education “peer educator” in the D.C. public schools asked then-U.S. Sen. Obama what he would do to encourage the teaching of “medically accurate, age-appropriate, and responsible sex education.”
Obama first noted that he had worked with Planned Parenthood to push a sex education bill when he served in the Illinois state legislature.
Then he said: “I remember Alan Keyes—I ran against Alan Keyes—but I remember him using this in his campaign against me, saying, ‘Barack Obama supports teaching sex education to kindergartners.
“And you know,” said Obama, “I didn’t know what to tell him. But it is the right thing to do, to provide age-appropriate sex education, science-based sex education in the schools.” published a story about what Obama told Planned Parenthood. It carried the headline: “Sex Ed for Kindergartners ‘Right Thing to Do,’ Says Obama.”
To explain Obama’s position further to ABC News, Obama’s campaign pointed to an Oct. 6, 2004 story in the Chicago Daily Herald about a speech Obama had given at a Catholic college in Illinois. This story carried the headline: “Obama clarifies sex ed views at Benedictine.”
"Nobody's suggesting that kindergartners are going to be getting information about sex in the way that we think about it,” Obama is quoted as telling the children. "If they ask a teacher 'where do babies come from,' that providing information that the fact is that it's not a stork is probably not an unhealthy thing. Although again, that's going to be determined on a case by case basis by local communities and local school boards."
To further clarify Obama’s position on sex ed for kindergartner’s, Obama’s campaign spokesman, Bill Burton, pointed MSNBC to the “curriculum for those in kindergarten” produced by the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States (SIECUS). This curriculum suggested discussing same-sex relationships—in non-graphic terms--with kindergartners.
In response to a campaign ad that Sen. John McCain later put out focusing on Obama’s support for sex education for kindergartners, SIECUS itself published an explanation of the Illinois state bill Obama had supported. SIECUS explained that the bill Obama supported did indeed extend sex education to kindergartners in Illinois. At that time, Illinois mandated sex education only for children in grades six through 12. SIECUS also said the bill would have removed all mention of “marriage” from sex education in the state’s public schools.
“The ad is referring to Senate Bill 99 (SB99), which was assigned to the Health and Human Services Committee in the Illinois Senate in 2003,” said SIECUS. “At the time, State Senator Barack Obama was Chairperson of the committee. He did not sponsor the bill, but he did vote in favor of it.

“SB99 proposed to make changes to Illinois’ existing sex education law which requires instruction in grades six through 12 that includes teaching about the prevention, transmission, and spread of AIDS,” said SIECUS. “Illinois law also states that schools much teach ‘honor and respect for monogamous heterosexual marriage.’ SB99 would have eliminated all references to marriage in the Illinois sex education code, and required that all material used in classrooms be age- and developmentally appropriate and medically accurate.
“It would also have expanded sexuality education to students in kindergarten through fifth grade and mandated that students be taught the age of consent, positive communication skills, and that they [the pupil] have the power to control behavior,” said SIECUS.
Despite Obama’s support for it, the bill did not pass and did not become Illinois law.
According to a report published yesterday by the CBS affiliate in Chicago, the new sex education program mandated in Chicago public schools will—like  the SIECUS curriculum—instruct kindergartners about same-sex relationships.
“Students will also take a look at the different family structures that exist in today’s society,” said the CBS report. The report then quoted Stephanie Whyte, the chief health officer of the Chicago Public Schools: “Whether that means there’s two moms at home, everyone’s home life is different, and we introduce the fact that we all have a diverse background.”
- See more at:

Sources: Pelosi Pushes for Syria Retaliation

Sources: Pelosi Pushes for Syria Retaliation

According to Politico sources, Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) pushed Obama administration officials "to take military action to punish Syrian President Bashar Assad in response to reports that he used chemical weapons in his nation’s ongoing civil war."

Last night, Obama administration officials (sans Obama) held an unclassified 90 minute conference call after a growing number of Congress members demanded to be consulted regarding military action in Syria.  Susan Rice, Chuck Hagel, John Kerry, Director of National Intel James Clapper and Sandy Winnefeld, the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, spoke for the administration.

After the call, Pelosi made a statement asserting: "It is clear that the American people are weary of war. However, Assad gassing his own people is an issue of our national security, regional stability and global security," Pelosi said in a statement after the call.
Sources on the call reported Pelosi "said we should do something," the second source said, adding that Pelosi was advocating "for action."
Party leaders, Congressional committee chairmen and ranking members were on the call. 

Only 10% of Americans Think Race Relations Have Improved Under Obama

Only 10% of Americans Think Race Relations Have Improved Under Obama

Only 10% of Americans think race relations have improved since the election of Barack Obama, according to a new Rasmussen poll. 43% think race relations have deteriorated and 44% say there’s been no change. Only 30% of those polled think race relations are good or excellent.

Yet in January 2009, just before Obama was inaugurated, 48% of Americans thought race relations would improve, including 75% of blacks. But now, 87% of black Americans say the U.S. justice system is unfair to blacks. 80% of black Americans think George Zimmerman was guilty in Trayvon Martin’s shooting death.

For Millions Of Workers, ObamaCare Is the 'Unaffordable Care Act' -

For Millions Of Workers, ObamaCare Is the 'Unaffordable Care Act' -

Health Costs: The official title of ObamaCare is the "Affordable Care Act." But for millions of workers dumped into one of the government-run exchanges, it will be anything but that. A new report shows their costs will go way up.
The analysis was done by the National Journal, which is hardly some right-wing, anti-ObamaCare outfit. It looked at what would happen to insurance costs for workers forced to buy coverage in an ObamaCare exchange after their employers canceled their benefits.
This is not idle curiosity. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that 7 million workers will lose their employer-based coverage thanks to ObamaCare, as companies decide to pay the penalty instead.
That estimate, by the way, is nearly double the CBO's previous forecast, and the CBO admits the number could be as high as 20 million.
To find out what these millions of workers will face, the Journal compared what the average worker pays toward employer-provided health insurance today with what they would pay in an ObamaCare exchange.
This year, the average worker pays between $862 and $1,065 a year for single coverage, with the employer picking up the rest of the tab. Families pay an average of up to $5,284 toward their work-based premiums.
If these workers are dumped into an ObamaCare exchange, most will end up paying far more, even with the taxpayer subsidies. The Journal found, for example, that workers earning more than $20,000 would pay more in the exchange than they do today, as would families making over $62,300.
In other words, 66% of all single workers and 57% of all families pushed into the exchanges will be worse off financially.
Meanwhile, there's evidence that those who already have policies on the individual market will be hit with higher premiums next year, thanks to ObamaCare. As IBD reported recently, the cheapest plan available in the ObamaCare exchanges will be more than twice as expensive as the cheapest plan offered to individuals today in eight states.
ObamaCare backers now point to an Obama administration-commissioned study by the Rand Corp. released this week that, not surprisingly, says the law won't boost premiums for individuals.
But a table buried in that report shows that Obama-Care actually will push premiums up 22% nationwide, when compared with the average cost of insurance available on the individual market today, "with several states experiencing an increase of 30% or more."
Yes, taxpayer subsidies will hide those huge cost hikes from many, but Rand admits that about a third won't be eligible for any subsidies. In any case, it hardly makes sense to vastly increase the cost of insurance and then try to cover it up with $1 trillion in taxpayer subsidies.

Read More At Investor's Business Daily:
Follow us: @IBDinvestors on Twitter | InvestorsBusinessDaily on Facebook

Does America Really Need Another War in the Middle East? | RealClearPolitics

Does America Really Need Another War in the Middle East? | RealClearPolitics

"Oh, when will they ever learn? Oh, when will they ever learn?" -- Peter, Paul and Mary
By the time you read this, U.S. missiles and bombs may be falling on Syria. Why? Syria hasn't attacked us. It does not pose a security threat to the United States.
These were arguments made against the Bush administration's intervention in Iraq by some who now urge us to make war on Syria.
Secretary of State John Kerry, who as a senator was for the funding of U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, before he was against it, says the United States is certain that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has used chemical weapons on his own people, thus crossing a "red line" established by President Obama. 
Never mind that there were similar reports in June that al-Assad had used chemical weapons. This time it means war! Weren't we told of the "certainty" that Saddam Hussein had chemical weapons?
Have we learned nothing? The future of Iraq is in doubt after a huge American investment of lives and money. Ditto Afghanistan. After U.S. help in toppling Moammar Gadhafi, Libya is anything but stable. Egypt is in turmoil after the Obama administration backed its Muslim Brotherhood-controlled government, whose leader and elected president, Mohamed Morsi, has been ousted by the military.
What makes anyone think bombing Damascus is going to bring positive change?
Obama has not asked Congress for permission to attack Syria, as President George W. Bush did before attacking Iraq. He hasn't gone to the feckless United Nations, because Russia and China have announced they will veto any resolution authorizing military force.
The president doesn't appear to have established anything like a "coalition of the willing," as President Bush did with Iraq. Britain is with us, as usual, and France has pledged support, but what about the Arab World? The Saudis may be quietly helping, but that appears to be about it.
What's the endgame? If by some miracle al-Assad and his leadership are hit by a missile, how do we prevent al Qaeda, present in Syria, from seizing power? There is a secular faction in Syria, but given the strength of Islamic fundamentalism throughout the region it is doubtful they will play a role.
Misjudging the Middle East has been a bipartisan experience. Then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton displayed a shocking lack of judgment when she said on CBS's "Face the Nation" two years ago: "Many of the members of Congress of both parties who have gone to Syria in recent months have said they believe (al-Assad's) a reformer," meaning I suppose he might be better than his father, who killed an estimated 25,000 of his fellow countrymen when his power was challenged.
Two days later Clinton attempted to walk back her comment, saying she was not speaking for herself or the Obama administration.
In 2007, then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., visited Syria against the wishes of the Bush administration. She said, "The road to Damascus is a road to peace." That "road" appears to have developed a giant sinkhole.
If the only reason for U.S. intervention in Syria is humanitarian, where is the constitutional justification for that? There are many other inhumanities throughout the world. The Congo is one. As Jeffrey Gettleman noted last December in the New York Times: "Congo has become a never-ending nightmare, one of the bloodiest conflicts since World War II, with more than five million dead." We're not intervening there.
A Reuters/Ipsos poll has found that just 9 percent of American respondents favor U.S. military intervention in Syria.
Iran has threatened to strike Israel if the United States attacks Syria. There is grave danger, including possible terrorism, if we attack Syria. When will we ever learn? 

Read more: 
Follow us: @RCP_Articles on Twitter

Charles Krauthammer: Shamed into war? - The Washington Post

Charles Krauthammer: Shamed into war? - The Washington Post

Having leaked to the world, and thus to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, a detailed briefing of the coming U.S. air attack on Syria — (1) the source (offshore warships and perhaps a bomber or two), (2) the weapon (cruise missiles), (3) the duration (two or three days), (4) the purpose (punishment, not “regime change”) — perhaps we should be publishing the exact time the bombs will fall, lest we disrupt dinner in Damascus.
So much for the element of surprise. Into his third year of dithering, two years afterdeclaring Assad had to go, one year after drawing — then erasing — his own red line on chemical weapons, Barack Obama has been stirred to action.
Charles Krauthammer
Krauthammer writes a politics column that runs on Fridays.
Or more accurately, shamed into action. Which is the worst possible reason. A president doesn’t commit soldiers to a war for which he has zero enthusiasm. Nor does one go to war for demonstration purposes.
Want to send a message? Call Western Union. A Tomahawk missile is for killing. A serious instrument of war demands a serious purpose.
The purpose can be either punitive or strategic: either a spasm of conscience that will inflame our opponents yet leave not a trace, or a considered application of abundant American power to alter the strategic equation that is now heavily favoring our worst enemies in the heart of the Middle East.
There are risks to any attack. Blowback terror from Syria and its terrorist allies.Threatened retaliation by Iran or Hezbollah on Israel — that could lead to a guns-of-August regional conflagration. Moreover, a mere punitive pinprick after which Assad emerges from the smoke intact and emboldened would demonstrate nothing but U.S. weakness and ineffectiveness.
In 1998, after al-Qaeda blew up two U.S. embassies in Africa, Bill Clinton lobbed a few cruise missiles into empty tents in Afghanistan. That showed ’em.
It did. It showed terminal unseriousness. Al-Qaeda got the message. Two years later, the USS Cole. A year after that, 9/11.
Yet even Clinton gathered the wherewithal to launch a sustained air campaign against Serbia. That wasn’t a mere message. That was a military strategy designed to stop the Serbs from ravaging Kosovo. It succeeded.
If Obama is planning a message-sending three-day attack, preceded by leaks telling the Syrians to move their important military assets to safety, better that he do nothing. Why run the considerable risk if nothing important is changed?
The only defensible action would be an attack with a strategic purpose, a sustained campaign aimed at changing the balance of forces by removing the Syrian regime’s decisive military advantage — air power.
Of Assad’s 20 air bases, notes retired Gen. Jack Keane, six are primary. Attack them: the runways, the fighters, the helicopters, the fuel depots, the nearby command structures. Render them inoperable.
We don’t need to take down Syria’s air defense system, as we did in Libya. To disable air power, we can use standoff systems — cruise missiles fired from ships offshore and from aircraft loaded with long-range, smart munitions that need not overfly Syrian territory.
Depriving Assad of his total control of the air and making resupply from Iran and Russiafar more difficult would alter the course of the war. That is a serious purpose.
Would the American people support it? They are justifiably war-weary and want no part of this conflict. And why should they? In three years, Obama has done nothing to prepare the country for such a serious engagement. Not one speech. No explanation of what’s at stake.
On the contrary. Last year Obama told us repeatedly that the tide of war is receding. This year, he grandly declared that the entire war on terror “must end.” If he wants Tomahawks to fly, he’d better have a good reason, tell it to the American people and get the support oftheir representatives in Congress, the way George W. Bush did for both the Afghanistan and Iraq wars.
It’s rather shameful that while the British prime minister recalled Parliament to debate possible airstrikes — late Thursday, Parliament actually voted down British participation — Obama has made not a gesture in that direction.
If you are going to do this, Mr. President, do it constitutionally. And seriously. This is not about you and your conscience. It’s about applying American power to do precisely what you now deny this is about — helping Assad go, as you told the world he must.
Otherwise, just send Assad a text message. You might incur a roaming charge, but it’s still cheaper than a three-day, highly telegraphed, perfectly useless demonstration strike.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

REGULATION NATION: Courts emerge as hurdle to Obama regs

REGULATION NATION: Courts emerge as hurdle to Obama regs
By Ben Goad and Julian Hattem - 08-29-13 06:00 AM ET

Photo by Getty Images

President Obama’s frequently rocky relationship with the judicial branch has emerged as a major obstacle to his second term goals.

With most of Obama’s agenda going nowhere in a gridlocked Congress, the president hopes to enact many of his second-term goals on the environment, workplace protections, healthcare and financial reform through regulations.

Agencies will be taking the lead in policymaking, predicts Jody Freeman, the director of Harvard Law School’s environmental law program and a former lawyer in the Obama White House, “and the primary check on their power is going to be the courts.”

That gives the nation’s federal court system, which has been routinely at odds with the White House, enormous sway as arbiters in disputes over the limits of executive authority.

“The relationship is sort of like a bad marriage — neither can get out of it, so they just keep fighting,” UCLA law professor Adam Winkler said of the Obama administration and the courts.

The president’s critics complain Obama is already flouting the law with aggressive rule-making.

Eighty-nine active lawsuits have been brought by roughly two dozen GOP state attorneys general against federal agencies, according to data from the Republican State Leadership Committee (RSLC).

“This administration seems to be willing to get way beyond any authority granted by Congress,” said Chris Jankowski, the group’s president.

Obama’s defenders counter that the administration is merely pursuing his policy agenda through any means available. Some of the forthcoming climate rules, for instance, are being drafted under the Clean Air Act, which was approved more than four decades ago and was last updated in 1990.

“He’s decided to use the tools in his toolbox,” said Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), chairman of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works.

Many of Obama’s regulations will be judged by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, considered the nation’s second most powerful court.

Three of its 11 seats are vacant — one since 2005.

Obama has nominated people to fill the vacancies, but Republicans have alleged that he is attempting to “pack” the court with favorable judges to rubber-stamp his regulations.

Republicans in the Senate have blocked the approval of several of Obama’s nominees. Only one Obama nominee to the D.C. court has been approved during his years in office.

C. Boyden Gray, a lawyer who worked in the White Houses of Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, argues Obama is trying to use his nominations to “shift the balance” of a court that has been balanced for decades.

He also argued that the court has “the lowest caseload in the country of any circuit court,” and doesn’t need any new judges.

Obama and his supporters have replied that he’s merely doing his job.

“I didn’t create these seats,” Obama said in the White House Rose Garden while announcing his new nominees. “I didn’t just wake up one day and say, let’s add three seats to the District Court of Appeals. These are open seats. And the Constitution demands that I nominate qualified individuals to fill those seats.”

The D.C. court has, in many cases, dealt damaging blows checking Obama's executive reach.

Earlier this month, for instance, it ruled that his call for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) to halt its consideration of a controversial nuclear waste site at Nevada’s Yucca Mountain was an illegal violation of the law.

Judge Brett Kavanaugh, seen as a potential Supreme Court nominee in a conservative administration, wrote for the majority in a three-judge panel that the case raised “significant questions about the scope of the Executive’s authority to disregard federal statutes.”

The D.C. Circuit court is also where, in January, President Obama’s 2012 appointments to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) were ruled unconstitutional, since they happened during a short break in the Senate’s calendar that did not constitute a recess for the purposes of presidential appointments.

The Supreme Court has agreed to hear the case during its next term. If the appeals court ruling stands, it could invalidate more than a year of the NLRB’s decisions.

The courts have not always acted as a hurdle to regulations, however.

Liberal and environmental groups have used the court system to sue federal agencies to finalize overdue regulations on everything from endangered species listings to air quality standards.

Business groups and Republicans have charged that the practice has allowed agencies to issue rules costing hundreds of millions of dollars each year via court settlements, behind closed doors and outside of the normal regulatory process.

Groups behind the suits contend that they’re merely holding the government up to the standard of the law.

“It’s the fundamental way of how our system works is checks and balances,” said Heather White, the executive director of the Environmental Working Group. “And it’s critical that third parties are able to say, ‘This is what the law says: You’re not doing your job, and you need to do your job.’”

The limits of regulators’ ability to ignore legal deadlines burst onto front pages earlier this summer when the administration announced it would delay for a year the employer mandate in the Affordable Care Act.

A portion of the law mandates that employers with more than 50 full-time workers offer health insurance or pay a fine by Jan. 1. But the administration, citing business concerns, pushed that back until 2015.

The decision drew harsh criticism from congressional Republicans.

“He tells people, 'Part of the law we'll go ahead and enforce, other parts we won't,” Rep. Mike Kelly (R-Pa.) said.

Many of the legal questions will likely not be resolved for years to come, leaving the fate of several of Obama’s central policy goals in jeopardy.

“Courts are going to be really central players to figuring out exactly how much Obama can accomplish over the coming years,” said Philip Wallach, a fellow at the Brookings Institution.

Exclusive--RNC slams Gutierrez for 'Hyperbolic Language, Scare Mongering' Over Immigration

Exclusive--RNC slams Gutierrez for 'Hyperbolic Language, Scare Mongering' Over Immigration

on Thu, 29 Aug 2013

The Republican National Committee, which has expressed support for comprehensive immigration reform, has come out against Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-IL) and criticized him for using potential rapes and death to argue for amnesty. The RNC argues that Gutierrez does not sound like he is serious about immigration reform when he uses language like that.

"The immigration system in our country is broken, but this hyperbolic language and scare mongering doesn’t sound like someone trying to find solutions,” RNC spokesman Raffi Williams told Breitbart News on Thursday.

Gutierrez said at a recent town hall in Chantilly, VA, that Congress must pass immigration reform soon or women will be raped and people will die.

“What we need to understand is today, someone is going to die in that desert trying to return to their families; women and men are going to die in that desert,” Gutierrez said. “Someone’s going to lose a finger, a hand, an eye, a life today because an unscrupulous employer is going to put them in harm’s way. Someone’s going to die. There’s a woman that’s going to be raped in a field somewhere in America today because she has no rights in this country, and we need to end that.”

Gutierrez also asked his audience to think of the children: "There are children who are going to cry and there are marriages that are going to be destroyed because someone is going to be deported, and there are going to be children that are going to be left orphaned in this country.”

Debt showdown: Another battle looms in Congress over red ink - Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Debt showdown: Another battle looms in Congress over red ink - Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Americans must be appalled to learn, from both sides of the political street, that they are about to be subjected again to partisan wrangling over raising the debt ceiling and setting a budget for the next fiscal year, which begins Oct. 1.

The kickoff for the mud wrestling will be Sept. 9, when Congress returns to work from its five-week summer vacation. The first deadline will be Sept. 30, when government spending authorizations expire. The second will be mid-October, when the United States will hit its next debt limit.

Two messages on Monday, one from each side, show the country what awaits in the coming weeks. The first, from Treasury Secretary Jacob J. Lew, was that Congress must raise the debt ceiling quickly so the government will not run out of money and that the Obama administration does not intend to bargain on the matter. The second, delivered by House Speaker John Boehner, was that Americans should expect "a whale of a fight" over these fiscal issues.
The debt limit and the budget are critically important, and both problems must be worked out to keep the country functioning. The national debt will hit a horrifying $16.7 trillion in mid-October. 

At the same time, Americans know that the United States must pay its bills, the same as a household must pay its electric and water bills, or else. A mix of new revenues and budget cuts are needed to deal with the federal deficit and, in the long run, to tackle the national debt. The question is whether the cuts are done sensibly and with precision, or administered by a meat-ax like the sequester, which is inflicting painful, random damage on government services and employment.

In the meantime, with only a fight and not a solution on the fiscal issues being promised by Washington and with Vice President Joe Biden the latest in the administration to pound the war drums on Syria, the world oil price is rising and global markets are described as disturbed. The climb in the oil price means that U.S. companies will have an excuse to raise gasoline prices at the pump for Labor Day, while disturbed global markets provide Wall Street a chance to pocket more commissions from transactions. Given this appalling circus posing as government, how are ordinary Americans supposed to win?

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A War With Syria to Save Face | RealClearPolitics

A War With Syria to Save Face | RealClearPolitics

Apparently the United States is going to go to war, at least sort of, with Syria.
That’s not because Syria has attacked the United States, because it hasn’t.
It’s not because the United States believes that it has strategic interests at stake in Syria’s civil war that warrant military intervention. If that were the case, we would have already taken action.
And it’s not really out of humanitarian concern with what’s going on in Syria’s civil war, although that will be the rhetorical cloak with which we don our military action. If we were truly acting out of humanitarian concern, we would have intervened tens of thousands of civilian deaths ago.
Instead, we are going to war with Syria because the President of the United States said that the use of chemical weapons was a “red line” that would change his “calculus” regarding involvement and Syrian strongman Bashar Assad has apparently made such egregious use of them that it can no longer be ignored.
In other words, we are going to war with Syria to save face.
Supposedly, the United States now has to take action because if we don’t, our subsequent threats won’t be taken seriously by other powers.
It’s already too late for that. The reluctance of the Obama administration to take action even after the president’s red line was crossed is transparent and obvious to all. Unless the military action is large enough to result in Assad’s ouster, which doesn’t appear to be in the offing, the rest of the world will continue to significantly discount the Obama administration’s bluster.
The Middle East is on fire. The Syrian civil war is lapping over into Lebanon and Jordan. Egypt is wretched politically and economically.
The places where the United States has previously intervened militarily are hardly oases of stability. Afghanistan appears likely to revert to rule by local warlords. Renewed sectarian violence is breaking out in Iraq. Libya is a place where a U.S. ambassador was killed by jihadists and has become an arms depot for jihadists throughout the region.
The argument is made that the Arab Spring went bad and the Middle East is on fire because the Obama administration retreated from involvement in the multitude of conflicts going on there. Think through the implications of that claim.
According to this line of thinking, the United States should have sufficient troops stationed in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya to ensure relative peace and security in each country.
We should have picked which Syrian rebels to back and given them the firepower to knock off Assad. Although whether we should have supported the factions backed by Saudi Arabia or those supported by Turkey and Qatar, which are different, isn’t clear.
And the United States should have somehow bullied the Muslim Brotherhood to govern more inclusively in Egypt or the military not to engage in a coup.
A more grounded understanding of U.S. interests in the Middle East begins with accepting that we have no true allies in the region except for Israel.
Is the House of Saud our ally? Saudi Arabia promotes a radical strand of Islam, Wahhabism, throughout the world. Wahhabism often spawns jihadist movements. Jihadi terrorism gets important financial support from Saudi sources.
Saudi Arabia is one of the most despotic regimes in the world, including religious intolerance and persecution.
The principal difference between the House of Saud and the Muslim Brotherhood isn’t really religious and certainty isn’t relative commitment to democratic capitalism. It’s that the Brotherhood doesn’t believe in hereditary monarchies. And that’s a fight the United States should get in the middle of?
We have no true allies. There is not even a semi-clear path to peace and stability in the region. And even if there were, there’s not much the United States could do to steer regional powers toward it.
It’s hard to see how a war to save face is a meaningful step in any right direction. 
Robert Robb is a columnist for the Arizona Republic and a RealClearPolitics contributor. Reach him at

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George F. Will: Obama talks himself into trouble with Syria - The Washington Post

George F. Will: Obama talks himself into trouble with Syria - The Washington Post

Barack Obama’s foreign policy dream — cordial relations with a Middle East tranquilized by “smart diplomacy” — is in a death grapple with reality. His rhetorical writhings illustrate the perils of loquacity. He has a glutton’s, rather than a gourmet’s, appetite for his own rhetorical cuisine, and he has talked America to the precipice of a fourth military intervention in the crescent that extends from Libya to Afghanistan.
Characterizing the 2011 Libyan project with weirdly passive syntax (“It is our military that is being volunteered by others to carry out missions”), he explained his sashay into Libya’s civil war as preemptive: “I refused to wait for the images of slaughter and mass graves before taking action.”
George Will
Will writes a twice-a-week column on politics and domestic and foreign affairs.
With characteristic self-satisfaction, Obama embraced the doctrine “R2P” — responsibility to protect civilians — and Libya looked like an opportunity for an inexpensive morality gesture using high explosives.
Last August, R2P reappeared when he startled his staff by offhandedly saying of Syria’s poison gas: “A red line for us is we start seeing a whole bunch of chemical weapons moving around or being utilized.” The interesting metric “whole bunch” made his principle mostly a loophole and advertised his reluctance to intervene, a reluctance more sensible than his words last week: Syria’s recidivism regarding gas is “going to require America’s attention and hopefully the entire international community’s attention.” Regarding that entirety: If “community” connotes substantial shared values and objectives, what community would encompass Denmark, Congo, Canada, North Korea, Portugal, Cuba, Norway, Iran, Britain, Saudi Arabia, Poland and Yemen?
Words, however, are so marvelously malleable in the Obama administration that the Oxford English Dictionary’s definition of “coup” (“a change in the government carried out violently or illegally”) somehow does not denote what happened in Egypt. Last week, an Obama spokesman said: “We have made the determination that making a decision about whether or not a coup occurred is not in the best interests of the United States.” So convinced is this White House of its own majesty and of the consequent magic of its words, it considers this a clever way of saying the law is a nuisance.
Section 508 of the Foreign Assistance Act forbids aid to “any country whose duly elected head of government is deposed by military coup” until the president determines that “a democratically elected government” has been restored. Secretary of State John Kerry was perhaps preparing to ignore this when he said something Egypt’s generals have not had the effrontery to claim — that the coup amounted to “restoring democracy.”
Perhaps Section 508 unwisely abridges presidential discretion in foreign policy, where presidents arguably deserve the almost unfettered discretion they, with increasing aggressiveness, assert everywhere. And perhaps if Obama were not compiling such a remarkable record of indifference to law, it would be sensible to ignore his ignoring of this one.
But remember Libya. Since the War Powers Resolution was passed over Richard Nixon’s veto in 1973, presidents have at least taken care to act “consistent with” its limits on unilateral presidential war-making. Regarding Libya, however, Obama was unprecedentedly cavalier, even though he had ample time to act consistent with the Constitution by involving a supportive Congress. As Yale Law School’s Bruce Ackerman then argued:
“Obama has overstepped even the dubious precedent set when President Bill Clinton bombed Kosovo in 1999. Then, the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel asserted that Congress had given its consent by appropriating funds for the Kosovo campaign. It was a big stretch, given the actual facts — but Obama can’t even take advantage of this same desperate expedient, since Congress has appropriated no funds for the Libyan war. The president is simply using money appropriated to the Pentagon for general purposes to conduct the current air campaign.”
Obama is as dismissive of “red lines” he draws as he is of laws others enact. Last week, a State Department spokeswoman said his red line regarding chemical weapons was first crossed “a couple of months ago” and “the president took action” — presumably, announcing (non-lethal) aid to Syrian rebels — although “we’re not going to outline the inventory of what we did.”
The administration now would do well to do something that the head of it has an irresistible urge not to do: Stop talking.
If a fourth military intervention is coming, it will not be to decisively alter events, which we cannot do, in a nation vital to U.S. interests, which Syria is not. Rather, its purpose will be to rescue Obama from his words.