Free Markets, Free People

Congress

What if Obama can’t lead?

That’s the question headlining a Ron Fournier article in National Journal.  My first reaction was to laugh out loud.  My second reaction was to wonder why it has taken all this time for someone in the press to actually ask that question.

The evidence of his lack of leadership has been on the table for 4 plus years.  And for me that’s a double edged sword.  On the one side, I’m happy he’s such a dismal leader because it limits what he can destroy.  On the other side, especially the policy side both foreign and domestic, it has led to a decline in almost all areas.  A decline a real leader will have to address when Obama is finally relegated to history. 

Anyway, here’s Fournier’s take:

In March, a reporter asked Obama why he didn’t lock congressional leaders in a room until they agreed on a budget deal. Obama’s answer was based on two assumptions. First, that his opinion is supreme. Second, he can’t break the logjam. What a remarkable combination of arrogance and impotence.

"I am not a dictator. I’m the president," he said. "I know that this has been some of the conventional wisdom that’s been floating around Washington; that somehow, even though most people agree that I’m being reasonable, that most people agree I’m presenting a fair deal, the fact that they don’t take it means that I should somehow do a Jedi mind meld with these folks and convince them to do what’s right."

Obama could still do great things. But not if he and his advisers underestimate a president’s powers, and don’t know how to exploit them. Not if his sympathizers give Obama cover by minimizing his influence. Cover to fail. Not if the president himself is outwardly and boundlessly dismissive of his critics, telling The New York Times, "I’m not concerned about their opinions."

To say the situation is intractable seems akin to waving a white flag over a polarized capital: Republicans suck. We can’t deal with them. Let’s quit.

I’m afraid they have quit—all of them, on both sides. At the White House and in Congress, most Democrats and Republicans have abandoned hope of fixing the nation’s problems. If leadership was merely about speaking to the converted, winning fights and positioning for blame, America would be in great hands. But it’s not.

Well I’m not so sure they’ve quit … or at least Obama hasn’t quit. He has no desire to persuade or do the hard work of  a leader and work with Congress.   Instead, where he’s headed does give lie to his claim of not being dictator.  That’s precisely what he’d prefer to be.  And Daniel Henninger brings you that bit of insight:

Please don’t complain later that you didn’t see it coming. As always, Mr. Obama states publicly what his intentions are. He is doing that now. Toward the end of his speech last week in Jacksonville, Fla., he said: "So where I can act on my own, I’m going to act on my own. I won’t wait for Congress." (Applause.)

The July 24 speech at Knox College in Galesburg, Ill., has at least four references to his intent to act on his own authority, as he interprets it: "That means whatever executive authority I have to help the middle class, I’ll use it." (Applause.) And: "We’re going to do everything we can, wherever we can, with or without Congress."

Every president since George Washington has felt frustration with the American system’s impediments to change. This president is done with Congress.

The political left, historically inclined by ideological belief to public policy that is imposed rather than legislated, will support Mr. Obama’s expansion of authority. The rest of us should not.

And Obama is engaged in the systematic demonization of the other two coequal branches of government in order to sway the public toward his dictatorial inclinations:

To create public support for so much unilateral authority, Mr. Obama needs to lessen support for the other two branches of government—Congress and the judiciary. He is doing that.

Mr. Obama and his supporters in the punditocracy are defending this escalation by arguing that Congress is "gridlocked." But don’t overstate that low congressional approval rating. This is the one branch that represents the views of all Americans. It’s gridlocked because voters are.

Take a closer look at the Galesburg and Jacksonville speeches. Mr. Obama doesn’t merely criticize Congress. He mocks it repeatedly. Washington "ignored" problems. It "made things worse." It "manufactures" crises and "phony scandals." He is persuading his audiences to set Congress aside and let him act.

So too the judiciary. During his 2010 State of the Union speech, Mr. Obama denounced the Supreme Court Justices in front of him. The National Labor Relations Board has continued to issue orders despite two federal court rulings forbidding it to do so. Attorney General Eric Holder says he will use a different section of the Voting Rights Act to impose requirements on Southern states that the Supreme Court ruled illegal. Mr. Obama’s repeated flouting of the judiciary and its decisions are undermining its institutional authority, as intended.

Clearly, Obama’s arrogance leads him to believe that a ruler is what we need, not a president.  And he’s up for that job, because it doesn’t brook interference and it doesn’t require leadership.  Tyranny is the the usual place people who couldn’t lead an alcoholic to a bar end up.  And we’re watching that happen now. 

Henninger ends his piece with a final, ironic quote:

"To ensure that no person or group would amass too much power, the founders established a government in which the powers to create, implement, and adjudicate laws were separated. Each branch of government is balanced by powers in the other two coequal branches." Source: The White House website of President Barack Obama.

Our Constitutional scholar is now involved in a process to wreck that balance and enhance executive powers to the point that he really doesn’t need Congress or the courts.  And a compliant media along will the left will do everything in their power to enable the transition.  Because their ideas and ideology would never pass the test of a real democracy and they have little chance of persuading the population to go along with them.  So imposition is truly the only route open.  That’s precisely what you’re going to see in Obama’s remaining years as president.  Executive imposition of his version of laws or, if you prefer, a brand of executive lawlessness unprecedented in our history.

But then, that’s what dictators do, isn’t it?

~McQ

Did Republicans cave to avoid the “nuclear option” in the Senate?

Jonathan Chait certainly thinks so:

Unlike the last time Democrats threatened to change the Senate rules, and backed down without winning anything, this time they won something important: They broke Senate Republicans’ ability to hold presidential appointments hostage. It’s a total victory for the Democrats.

In fact, Chait says the bottom line is this:

Democrats had proposed to change the Senate’s rules to prevent filibusters on executive branch nominations (but not to ban filibusters of legislation or judicial nominees). They’ve won.

However:

Republicans got one face-saving concession: Democrats have to pick new names for the NLRB. This became an issue because Obama tried to execute an end-run around Congress by appointing them to their positions when Congress was functionally, though not technically, in recess, and was struck down by the Republican-controlled D.C. circuit court.

You can obviously tell which side Chait comes down on if you didn’t know before.   The D.C. circuit court struck it down not because it is “Republican-controlled” but because the appointments were Constitutionally illegal. By the way, so did the Third circuit court.

But it leaves us with a very interesting question.  If the Democrats agreed to have two new appointments made to the NLRB, aren’t they at least tacitly admitting the current two appointments are illegal?  And if so, what does that make any rulings the current NLRB made during that time it was illegally constituted?  Common sense says those rulings should be invalidated, don’t you think?  And that’s what Cablevision is still asking.  It was one of the companies this illegally constituted board issued a ruling against:

“The role of Congress is to ensure a balanced NLRB and the Obama Administration bypassed Congress in order to stack the NLRB in favor of Big Labor. Two different federal courts — the D.C. Circuit and the Third Circuit — have established that the NLRB is illegally constituted and has no authority to take action. The NLRB continues to ignore these rulings, and we ask the Supreme Court to compel the NLRB to immediately halt its unlawful proceedings against Cablevision.”

Will anyone address this?  Will anyone actually take action to annul these rulings from an illegally constituted board? Or, as usual, will we see it ignored, the injustice shrugged off and the usual lack of accountability further enshrined in our political culture?

~McQ

Reid under pressure to use “nuclear option” to limit minority party power (update)

You remember the post I did about the presidential appointments to the NLRB that were deemed by all but the Democrats to be illegal?

Well, there’s a move afoot to use what is being referred to as the “nuclear option” to fix that.  The Washington Examiner explains:

Senate Democrats are considering invoking the so-called “nuclear option,” which would curb the minority party’s use of the filibuster and prevent Republicans from blocking presidential nominations.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., signaled privately to President Obama that he may change Senate rules this month so it would take only 51 votes – instead of the current 60 – to approve judicial and executive branch nominees.

Democrats now control 55 Senate votes. Republicans have 45, but the GOP often still asserts itself by using the filibuster to keep nominations or legislation from coming to a vote.

Republicans charge that imposing the nuclear option would virtually eliminate the minority party’s chief means of keeping the majority in check and jeopardize any potential bipartisan agreements on top-priority legislation, including immigration reform, the budget and tax reform.

So, what would happen in the case of the NLRB appointments?  If Reid (who by the way, adamantly opposed such a rule change when he was in the minority and spoke eloquently  – well as eloquently as is possible for Harry Reid – about how it destroyed the rights of the minority) does this, then 51 Democrats will dutifully line up and “legalize” the NLRB without the minority party having had any voice in the matter.

That’s not how our republic was supposed to function.  In fact, our founders were just as adamant as Reid was previously about minority rights.  James Madison wrote in Federalist No. 10, “the great danger in republics is that the majority will not respect the rights of minority.” President Thomas Jeffersonproclaimed in his first inaugural address, “All, too, will bear in mind this sacred principle, that though the will of the majority is in all cases to prevail, that will, to be rightful, must be reasonable; that the minority possess their equal rights, which equal laws must protect, and to violate which would be oppression.”

Reid, of course, now believes that to be poppycock.  Instead he’d prefer that the minority simply hush and let he and the Democrats appoint whomever they wish whenever they wish.  Of course, we all know how quickly his position would change should he suddenly become the minority leader again.  And that should tell you all you need to know about why this is a terrible idea and one that he nor the Democrats would stand for were they on the other side of the line.

But then, political expediency seems to trump statesmanship today and we’re all the worse for it.

UPDATE: Ah, the other shoe drops:

The Hill reports: “The nuclear option strategy is gaining momentum in the Senate in part because of growing pressure from organized labor, which wants Reid to break the impasse over the NLRB.  AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka … will call for rules changes at the Center for American Progress, a Democratic think tank, Wednesday morning.”

Payoff time.

~McQ

Congress? Who needs Congress? And the Constitution? Forget about it

That’s preciesly what this administration and president have done. Bypassed Congress and trashed the Constitution:

The employer mandate in the Affordable Care Act contains no provision allowing the president to suspend, delay or repeal it. Section 1513(d) states in no uncertain terms that “The amendments made by this section shall apply to months beginning after December 31, 2013.” Imagine the outcry if Mitt Romney had been elected president and simply refused to enforce the whole of ObamaCare.

This is not the first time Mr. Obama has suspended the operation of statutes by executive decree, but it is the most barefaced. In June of last year, for example, the administration stopped initiating deportation proceedings against some 800,000 illegal immigrants who came to the U.S. before age 16, lived here at least five years, and met a variety of other criteria. This was after Congress refused to enact the Dream Act, which would have allowed these individuals to stay in accordance with these conditions. Earlier in 2012, the president effectively replaced congressional requirements governing state compliance under the No Child Left Behind Act with new ones crafted by his administration.

The president defended his suspension of the immigration laws as an exercise of prosecutorial discretion. He defended his amending of No Child Left Behind as an exercise of authority in the statute to waive certain requirements. The administration has yet to offer a legal justification for last week’s suspension of the employer mandate.

There’s even talk of impeachment, although you know that will go nowhere (see my last post).  No one has the stomach to really enforce any rules up there and that goes for both sides.  But, as the Constitutional scholar that wrote the above points out, the Constitution pointedly charges the executive with “the faithful enforcement of the law”.  In fact it is his or her constitutional duty.

The Supreme Court has been pretty clear on this too.

Of all the stretches of executive power Americans have seen in the past few years, the president’s unilateral suspension of statutes may have the most disturbing long-term effects. As the Supreme Court said long ago (Kendall v. United States, 1838), allowing the president to refuse to enforce statutes passed by Congress “would be clothing the president with a power to control the legislation of congress, and paralyze the administration of justice.”

And that’s pretty much where this is headed.  We are being subjected to the arbitrary enforcement of law.  The rule of men.  In the case of the statutes for ObamaCare, it’s because of politics.  That’s why you hear no outraged voiced by Democrats.  They will benefit electorally by not having to face the uproar sure to come with it’s implementation should that happen before the 2014 midterms.  However, as noted above, if Mitt Romney had been elected and was the one doing this, Democrats would be squealing like stuck Constitutional hogs.

Another recent example of Obama’s arrogance is his “recess that wasn’t a recess” appointments to the National Labor Relations Board.  How can anyone have confidence in the rulings of the NLRB when it appears to have been illegally constituted – another arrogant example of ignoring the lines between executive and legislative power.  If a board is illegal, how are its rulings enforceable?

These are important questions that demand an answer.   Instead, they’re ignored, the corruption and arrogance grows and we’re subjected to arbitrary rule with no check.

If I’m not mistaken, we once based a revolution on those sorts of abuses.

~McQ

NLRB appointments indicative of Obama’s desire for executive rule

Here’s a story not getting much attention, but is indicative of how President Obama tends to use executive power when he can’t get his way with Congress.  Rule by executive fiat.

What am I talking about?  As you may recall, Obama made appointments to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) during a supposed Congressional recess.  Except it wasn’t really a recess.  Congress was not between sessions (that constitutes a recess), but was instead it was on an intrasession break, one of many Congress takes during any session.  Never have those been considered recesses of the type in which recess appointments could be legally made.

That is until this administration.  That’s precisely how the vacant slots on the NLRB were filled with Obama appointees.

Enter Cablevision.

Over the past year, Cablevision has been in the midst of a brutal public battle with the Communication Workers of America over pay for technicians and allegations of union-busting. In May, Cablevision sought the intervention of an appeals court to stay proceedings at the NLRB, and now, the company is hoping that the high court will take up the issue of the NLRB’s authority.

The point, of course, isn’t particularly about the dispute.  It’s one in a long line of management and labor disputes. The question is whether or not the NLRB is legally constituted given the way the appointments were made.  It’s about the rule of law.  When citizens see the government flout the law or ignore it, it doesn’t set a good precedent.  Yet that’s precisely what has happened in this case.

And that’s what Cablevision is questioning.  How is there legitimacy in an illegally appointed board?   And why, should their rulings be obeyed, given the circumstances of the board’s recent constitution. Here’s the point:

“The role of Congress is to ensure a balanced NLRB and the Obama Administration bypassed Congress in order to stack the NLRB in favor of Big Labor. Two different federal courts — the D.C. Circuit and the Third Circuit — have established that the NLRB is illegally constituted and has no authority to take action. The NLRB continues to ignore these rulings, and we ask the Supreme Court to compel the NLRB to immediately halt its unlawful proceedings against Cablevision.”

Shades of Hugo Chavez’s Venezuela – Chavez kept the institutions of a democracy, but he packed them with his loyal appointees that shared the same ideology and agenda.  With what has happened with the IRS and the EPA, etc, that’s not as big a stretch as one might imagine.

~McQ

Remembering the promises, looking at reality

You remember the grand promises a certain candidate made in 2008.  And in the area of foreign policy he told us how huge a mess it was and how he was going to clean it up and how the world would love us again.  He was going to “reset” relations with Russia and get us out of all these wars.  Oh, and of course, solve the problems in the Middle East.

Yeah, that was then and this is reality:

The [Middle East] is unraveling and American policy is in deep disarray. Our strategic options are getting worse, and the stakes are getting higher. When former President Bill Clinton is warning that his successor risks looking “lame” or like a “wuss” or a “total fool,” it’s a safe bet that the Kremlin and Tehran aren’t impressed by White House statements. Meanwhile the Obama administration seems to be locked into a sterile, short-term policy approach driven by domestic considerations; it is following the path of least resistance to a place that in the end will please no one and is increasingly likely to lead to strategic disaster.

An insightful article by the Democratic-leaning Bloomberg columnist Jeffrey Goldberg offers a deeply unsettling view of a Syria foreign policy process gone off the rails. If Goldberg has the story right—and he usually does—Secretary Kerry and the bulk of the White House security team want the President to authorize a no-fly zone and other strong measures in Syria, in part because they fear that American dithering in Syria is empowering the hardliners in Tehran and that by avoiding a small war in Syria now the White House risks a much uglier confrontation with Iran not all that far in the future. But the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs wants nothing to do with it, pointing to the difficulties and costs of the military mission.

And rightfully so.  It has also really “reset” relations with Russia … to the Cold War era.  Well done, Mr. President.   But that’s not the real problem is it?  It is how we got in this mess in the first place: Amateur Hour at the White House:

As Goldberg tells it, the biggest problem for the administration is that its early aggressive, poorly judged rhetoric that Assad “must” go now makes it impossible to avoid Obama’s looking like an irresolute bluffer if the Butcher stays put. This is the conclusion, anyway, that both Russia and Iran will draw, and they will respond by pushing the US along other fronts as well.

This is an entirely self-created problem; there was absolutely no objective reason for the administration to lay those markers on the table. There was no requirement in America’s foreign policy that the administration bounce in with the categorical demand that Assad step down.

That is absolutely correct.  But as is mentioned further on it was fighting for re-election and didn’t what there to be a wimp factor.  As usual, politics trumped what was best for the nation.

So in every real way, this administration has lived up to few if any of it’s grand promises of 2008.  In fact, if truth be told, the honeymoon is over with Europe.  The proof, as they say, is in the turnout:

When John F. Kennedy delivered his “Ich Bin Ein Berliner” speech in front of the Brandenburg Gate on June 26, 1963, 450,000 people flocked to hear him. Fifty years later a far more subdued invitation-only crowd of 4,500 showed up to hear Barack Obama speak at the same location in Berlin. As The National Journal noted, “he didn’t come away with much, winning just a smattering of applause from a crowd that was one-hundredth the size of JFK’s,” and far smaller than the 200,000 boisterous Germans who had listened to his 2008 address as a presidential candidate.

As for the Middle East … well there’s no love lost there either.  This administration has fumbled everything to do with the region during it’s tenure and has no one to blame but themselves. They’ve totally and without any help, managed to bottom out our image in the area in the same way they’ve bottomed out the economy.  If this guy isn’t the worst president with the worst team we’ve ever had inflicted on us … twice … then I don’t know who might be.   And don’t even get me started on the “leadership” in Congress – from both parties.  They’re absolutely the worst yet.  That may come as small consolation to the administration, but the combination of the two is killing us.

~McQ

We can’t have ObamaCare effect these folks – they’re “federal employees” for heaven sake!

When I read articles like this they infuriate me.

Dozens of lawmakers and aides are so afraid that their health insurance premiums will skyrocket next year thanks to Obamacare that they are thinking about retiring early or just quitting.

The fear: Government-subsidized premiums will disappear at the end of the year under a provision in the health care law that nudges aides and lawmakers onto the government health care exchanges, which could make their benefits exorbitantly expensive.

Why?  Because there doesn’t seem to be any ability to relate their problem with the problems they’ve imposed on business through their ramming through this horrific legislation we call “ObamaCare”.  Even with the effects beginning to be understood, like that above, they don’t get it:

Rep. John Larson, a Connecticut Democrat in leadership when the law passed, said he thinks the problem will be resolved.

“If not, I think we should begin an immediate amicus brief to say, ‘Listen this is simply not fair to these employees,’” Larson told POLITICO. “They are federal employees.”

But apparently it is “fair” to the employees of business who, in some cases, will see 100% plus increases in their premiums.  It only becomes a problem when it effects who?  Why, ‘federal employees’, of course.  You know, our so-called “public servants”.  And then, apparently, only that subset of federal employees that work for Congress.  They seem oblivious to the fact that the same thing is happening in thousands of places and effecting multi-thousands of businesses.  Freakin’ clueless.

Even as mad as this made me, I got a chuckle out of this:

If the issue isn’t resolved, and massive numbers of lawmakers and aides bolt, many on Capitol Hill fear it could lead to a brain drain just as Congress tackles a slew of weighty issues — like fights over the Tax Code and immigration reform.

Talk about silver linings to storm clouds.

~McQ

How bad do you have to be NOT to be hired?

I wondered, when Barack Obama was re-elected, how bad you had to be to be fired.  Apparently worse than Obama, if that’s possible.

Now, with the confirmation of Chuck Hagel – another politician who has never run a large or complex organization and who was abysmal in his confirmation hearings – I have to wonder how bad you have to be NOT to be hired.

Apparently, worse than Chuck Hagel, if that’s possible:

Republicans siding with Democrats, the U.S. Senate voted Tuesday to confirm Chuck Hagel as President Obama’s secretary of defense, a nomination that drew strong opposition within the Republican former senator’s own party, with some troubled by past statements on Israel and Iran.

GOP Sens. Rand Paul (Ky.), Thad Cochran (Miss.), Mike Johanns, (Nebr.) and Richard Shelby (Ala.) supported Hagel in the 58-41 vote. No Democrats opposed him.

Again, let down by the GOP (the ‘good old boy club’ just couldn’t say no to a former member).

Anyone seeing a pattern here?

~McQ

Benghazi: McCain essentially says “what does it matter now?”

If it weren’t for the old ladies of the GOP, you might get some answers to some very compelling and yet unanswered questions as well as force this administration to be transparant.

But then there’s McCain and the continued capitulation of the GOP:

Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) said Thursday that the White House’s response to his and other Republican senators’ questions on the September attack in Benghazi, Libya was satisfactory. The senior Arizona senator said he is now ready to find a way to end the filibuster that is holding up the confirmation vote for defense secretary nominee Chuck Hagel, CNN reported.

“I think it was an adequate response, yes,” McCain said. “We are working on and having negotiations now trying to smooth this thing out and get it done.”

Yes, that’s right, nothing to see here, move along now, move along.

The Great and Powerful John McCain (I will celebrate when this yahoo shuffles off to retirement) has decided that Beghazi is over and we must, must have an incompetent buffoon for Sec. of Defense.

Must!

Parodies that write themselves come in the guise of our politicians.

~McQ