Freedom and Liberty
Executive and regulatory over reach, aka trashing the Constitution? Even Lawrence Tribe has problems with the Obama agenda:
As President Obama forges ahead in his fight against climate change, a leading Harvard Law School scholar says a central piece of the president’s strategy is akin to “burning the Constitution” merely to advance an environmental agenda.
In testimony before the House Energy and Commerce Committee on Tuesday, Harvard constitutional law professor Laurence H. Tribe said the Environmental Protection Agency’s plan to limit greenhouse gas emissions from U.S. power plants is built on a shaky legal foundation. The proposal, Mr. Tribe argues, far exceeds EPA’s authority under federal law and strikes a blow to the 10th Amendment by essentially making states subservient to Washington on energy and environmental matters.
Mr. Tribe’s testimony — with which other legal scholars strongly disagreed during Tuesday’s hearing — comes about a month before the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals will hear arguments in a case that challenges EPA’s so-called “Clean Power Plan,” which would limit pollution from both new and existing power plants and is designed to reduce coal use across the country.
“EPA’s proposal raises grave constitutional questions, exceeds EPA’s statutory authority and violates the Clean Air Act,” said Mr. Tribe, who has argued before the Supreme Court dozens of times and represented Al Gore in the case that ultimately decided the 2000 presidential election.
“EPA is attempting an unconstitutional trifecta — usurping the prerogatives of the states, the Congress and the federal courts all at once,” he continued. “Burning the Constitution of the United States … cannot be a part of our national energy policy.”
On CNN this morning, White House aide David Simas avoided congratulating Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on the Israeli elections. Instead, he would only congratulate the Israeli people on having an election.
“We want to congratulate the Israeli people for the democratic process for the election that they just engaged in with all the parties that engaged in that election. As you know now, the hard work of coalition building begins. Sometimes that takes a couple of weeks. And we’re going to give space to the formation of that coalition government and we’re not going to weigh in one way or another except to say that the United States and Israel have a historic and close relationship and that will continue going forward,” Simas said.
Hillary Clinton continues to be a dominant force heading into the 2016 presidential election, according to a new CNN/ORC poll. The former secretary of state maintains a broad lead over the field of potential Democratic challengers she could face in a nomination contest and sizable advantages over the leading contenders from the Republican side in general election match-ups.
Hopefully, given Hillary’s latest scandal, Al Gore will be the only thing left standing on the Democratic side when the election rolls around. Because, well, because the Democrats deserve him. And Ezra Klein is all for him filling in for the “inevitable one.”
But that’s not my main subject today. Two notes of interest that are likely to get the short shrift in the press with all the usual nonsense flying around.
Global emissions of climate-warming carbon dioxide did not rise last year for the first time in 40 years without the presence of an economic crisis. “This is a real surprise. We have never seen this before,” said IEA chief economist, Fatih Birol, named recently as the agency’s next executive director.
So here is what is likely to happen. With this bit of news, you can expect to see a huge push by the Chicken Little contingent to claim credit and victory. Why see what they’ve done! Never mind the fact that the temperature hasn’t risen in over 10 years and forget about that brutal winter you’ve just survived. We’re winning against “global warming”.
Trust me … you’ll see it soon. Of course there will be no science to support their claims, but then that’s nothing new, is it?
Meanwhile, in the face of all that, Japan is increasing its use of coal as it continues to replace nuclear energy and we’re in the midst of an oil glut that doesn’t appear ready to tail off anytime soon.
“Yet US supply so far shows precious little sign of slowing down. Quite to the contrary, it continues to defy expectations,” said the IEA in its monthly Oil Market Report, which sharply revised up its output estimates for the end of last year and forecasts for the begging of 2015.
With US crude stocks striking all-time records, it noted storage capacity limits may soon be tested.
So cheap gas? Oh, yes, much cheaper than the Obama Administration and the Greenies would like.
The question then is with an abundance of cheap gas and other petro products, no warming in over 10 years and evidence that we’re not increasing the CO2 emissions, how inclined to you think the average joe is going to be to change his habits?
Yeah, not very. In fact, my guess is he’ll be quite resistant to the idea as he tools around in his SUV.
So, please, bring on the Goracle.
We need the entertainment.
A “told you so” follow up on that $15 minimum wage hike in Seattle (and coming to San Francisco soon):
Seattle’s $15 minimum wage law goes into effect on April 1, 2015. As that date approaches, restaurant across the city are making the financial decision to close shop. The Washington Policy Center writes that “closings have occurred across the city, from Grub in the upscale Queen Anne Hill neighborhood, to Little Uncle in gritty Pioneer Square, to the Boat Street Cafe on Western Avenue near the waterfront.”
Of course, restaurants close for a variety of reasons. But, according to Seattle Magazine, the “impending minimum wage hike to $15 per hour” is playing a “major factor.” That’s not surprising, considering “about 36% of restaurant earnings go to paying labor costs.” Seattle Magazine,
“Washington Restaurant Association’s Anthony Anton puts it this way: “It’s not a political problem; it’s a math problem.”
“He estimates that a common budget breakdown among sustaining Seattle restaurants so far has been the following: 36 percent of funds are devoted to labor, 30 percent to food costs and 30 percent go to everything else (all other operational costs). The remaining 4 percent has been the profit margin, and as a result, in a $700,000 restaurant, he estimates that the average restauranteur in Seattle has been making $28,000 a year.
“With the minimum wage spike, however, he says that if restaurant owners made no changes, the labor cost in quick service restaurants would rise to 42 percent and in full service restaurants to 47 percent.”
Key quote: “It’s not a political problem; it’s a math problem.” Of course it is a “political problem” because it is clueless politics that pushed this. However, for the owners, it is indeed a “math problem”. And the math for staying open doesn’t add up.
Are there alternatives to closing. Sure. But they’re the same ones we’ve talked about for years:
Restaurant owners, expecting to operate on thinner margins, have tried to adapt in several ways including “higher menu prices, cheaper, lower-quality ingredients, reduced opening times, and cutting work hours and firing workers,” according to The Seattle Times and Seattle Eater magazine. As the Washington Policy Center points out, when these strategies are not enough, businesses close, “workers lose their jobs and the neighborhood loses a prized amenity.”
Welcome to the land of $17 dollar cheeseburger. And, as you can figure out fairly quickly, everything else will be more expensive too … which, of course, erodes the purchasing power of that $15 wage. More importantly, if you work for one of those establishments that is closing, your wage is $15 times zero hours, isn’t it?
Or so the most recent Gallup poll says:
Yes, that’s right – climate change.
Notice the top “problem”, and apparently increasingly seen as such by more and more Americans.
Notice also that every other problem listed is one in which government has at least a finger in if not stuck in it up to the elbow.
Our public education system is not good – it’s run by the government. Our federal budget is a disaster – government ill-discipline. Foreign policy doesn’t exist – government malfeasance. Terrorism is increasing – government ineptitude. National security at risk – government incompetence. Race relations – government partisan bias. Poverty – government enabling. And healthcare – don’t even get me started. Etc. etc.
Every “problem” under the top problem have become more of a problem because of government meddling, incompetence, over-reach, bumbling, malfeasance or partisan bias.
And yet one of Obama’s stated goals as president was to again make big government “cool”.
Well, heck of a job there, Barack.
You know, anymore you have to wait a couple of days for the hysteria to settle before you can figure out what may or may not have happened. And unfortunately, our “National Enquirer” media is usually the leaders of the hysteria.
This supposed “treasonous” letter, for instance. Finally, Jennifer Rubin lends a little sanity to what have been the equivalent of click bait headlines these past few days.
[T]he letter was “open” — that is, akin to an op-ed, not dropped in the mail with a Tehran address. This is not a private negotiation or even a message primarily to the Iranians; it was a statement concerning the president’s powers, in contravention of prior promises, to make an critically important deal without Congress. It was unfortunate that it was not instead a letter to the editor or the president; the content would have been the same and Democrats would have been deprived of a silly but unifying talking point. But let’s get to the reason it had to be sent in the first place. As Jeb Bush noted in a statement, “The Senators are reacting to reports of a bad deal that will likely enable Iran to become a nuclear state over time. They would not have been put in this position had the Administration consulted regularly with them rather than ignoring their input.”
Can’t begin to see how that measures up to “treason”. I can see how the subversion of the Constitution could lead in that direction though.
Second it is a warning to Iran to deal straight with the President:
Republicans are saying to the mullahs they’d better not sucker the president into a sweetheart deal because ultimately that deal will have to pass muster with Congress. Any savvy negotiator would use that to say to the mullahs they need to deliver more, not less, because of the ornery lawmakers. But Obama is so determined to give the mullahs whatever they demand he cannot recognize bargaining leverage when it is staring him in the face. It is only when you are trying to give away the store that you consider a letter warning the mullahs the bar will be high for a deal to be “sabotage.”
So instead, it’s backing this
idiot’s sucker’s President’s play. They’ve actually managed to give Obama some leverage and Obama is rejecting it for heaven sake.
The letter was meant to highlight a point about which critics have not quarreled: The president can have a binding treaty with Senate approval, or he can have an executive agreement that may be null and void when he leaves office. (If he has told the Iranians otherwise, either he is confused or he is selling snake oil.)
Got that? Deal straight and make the sort of deal we will approve in the Senate.
But, as Rubin points out, there’s a bigger question:
What does the president think he is negotiating if he intends to keep Congress in the dark and present a fait accompli?
Does he understand that if he thinks its a “treaty” and it doesn’t go before (and get passed by) the Senate, it isn’t worth a war bucket of spit? I mean, he may have a pen and a phone, but he can’t agree to a treaty without Congress’s okay no matter how hard he tries to pretend he can.
Which may necessitate some more “depends on what the meaning of ‘is’ is” reasoning from Democrats.
There’s the story.
So, in terms of the letter, another partisan tempest in a teapot.
Meanwhile, the big Constitutional question mostly gets ignored.
The title is essentially what is going on in California as the Democratic controlled state imposes a tax for the “prevention” of global warming.
Californians will now have to pay yet another tax as part of the state’s effort to fight global warming. Residents will now pay a global warming tax for buying gasoline on top of the already existing state gas tax.
But being “smart” politicians, they don’t call it a tax:
The global warming tax on gas retailers is part of the state’s cap-and-trade program. But state officials are not calling the global warming charge a tax, instead they are saying it’s a fee paid by gas retailers when distributors load tanker trucks — even though the cost is passed onto consumers through the cost of fuel.
“They are not calling it a tax, and these guys (wholesalers) are adding it to the cost of the fuel, so you are paying a tax on a tax,” Max Castillo, who owns a convenience store and gas station, told the San Diego Union-Tribune. “California is the leader of the nation in paying taxes.”
That’s right, folks, it’s a “fee”. So Californians, who live in the state with the highest taxes, now get to pay a tax on a
tax “fee”. The result?
The global warming tax adds about 10 cents a gallon to wholesale gas prices and 12 cents to diesel prices, reports the Union-Tribune. But with gas prices down about one dollar from last year, few residents have noticed the global warming fee being added to their gas bills.
Californians pay a whopping 77 cents per gallon extra on gasoline due to fees and taxes. The Union-Tribune reports that “[e]xcise taxes… cost consumers 36 cents per gallon for the state and 18.3 cents for the federal government.” This is in addition to the 2 cent underground storage tank fee and the “global warming fee, which is variable and could soar in the future, added about a dime this week.”
The global warming fee adds 2.25 percent to the full retail price of gasoline — which includes existing taxes and fees — meaning that once gas prices start to rise, Californians may take notice when their gas bills go way up.
Science doesn’t support this. It simply isn’t there. And California’s politicians deciding to do it on their own is simply an exercise in political arrogance and vanity. A decision to get the “little people” to again pay for a political boondoggle (see current “light rail” boondoggle). Nothing will come of this in real terms. California fossil fuel usage for transportation needs is 96%. That hasn’t changed much and isn’t likely to change anytime in the near future.
However, that apparently doesn’t prevent politicians from imposing their utopian pipe dreams on the citizens of that state – and frankly, they richly deserve this given their past voting record.
The imposition of a global warming tax on fuel retailers comes as Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown announces plans to push the state to get 50 percent of its energy from green sources and move away from oil.
“If we have any chance at all of achieving that, California, as it does in many areas, must show the way. We must demonstrate that reducing carbon is compatible with an abundant economy and human well-being,” Brown said in a recent speech.
Brown wants to put the state on track to get 50 percent of its energy from green sources, like wind and solar, by 2030 and cut the state’s use of petroleum in half in the next 15 years. Brown also promised more rules to make buildings more energy-efficient.
“All of this is a very tall order. It means that we continue to transform our electrical grid, our transportation system and even our communities,” Brown said.
It’s BS built on a questionable scientific theory based in models which have been found to be horribly wanting and consistently wrong. This isn’t about the environment (other than it will help keep that lobby a bit quieter and in the politician’s pocket), it’s about money – revenue. And power.
But then, when isn’t it anymore?
Yes, today I’m going to talk about Hillary Clinton, who does indeed feel entitled and also seems to believe that the law is only for “the little people”. There are others who feel entitled to the presidency (on both sides) that I don’t want anywhere near it as well, but this is one person who would essentially be an Obama third term if she were to win … and her actions prove that.
Right now we have a man in the Oval Office who is, frankly, a scofflaw. If a law is inconvenient, he simply ignores it, or issues his own in the guise of an executive action or, working through his “executive agencies” sees that unelected bureaucrats produce regulations that do his will, all without Congress. Or oversight. Or the Constitution for that matter.
Now we have a contender for his position who has demonstrated the same sort of inclination to ignore the rules and laws that are designed to keep our elected and government officials on the straight and narrow and provide a vital record of their doings.
Hillary Clinton, did, with malice aforethought, conspire to work around the law and the rules that required her to do government business on a government email account. There’s no disputing this. The email server is in her home. It was set up prior to her becoming Secretary of State. And we know, thanks to a hacker, that she received highly sensitive emails from various cronies and State Department personnel on that account. An account that wasn’t at all secure enough for such traffic (that point made obvious by the hack).
Just last week, the Washington Post shocked the public with the news that the Clinton Foundation had “accepted millions of dollars from seven foreign governments” during Hillary’s “tenure as secretary of state, including one donation that violated its ethics agreement with the Obama administration.” In and of themselves, these gifts were highly abnormal.
But, as Charles Cooke continues:
“Rarely, if ever,” the Post noted drily, “has a potential commander in chief been so closely associated with an organization that has solicited financial support from foreign governments.” But the infringement is made even worse when one acknowledges that these donations were never so much as reviewed for eligibility by the powers that be within the State Department. There really is no other way of putting it than to record bluntly that, while she was secretary of state, Hillary Clinton was making private deals with foreign governments via private e-mail, and then declining to request the requisite approval from the U.S. government.
So, let’s see if we have this straight. Private email account, knowingly refusing to use the government one, and soliciting foreign governments for donations while Secretary of State?
That’s definitely, at a minimum unethical and an abuse of office. So who does she think she is?
Cooke answers that:
The answer to that question is as it ever was: She is Hillary Clinton, and she believes, with some justification, that she will get away with anything and everything she tries. “Why,” supporters grumble, “knowing full well how effective the charge of elitism can be during a presidential campaign, does she continue to take $300,000 per speech?” Answer: Because she’s Hillary Clinton. “Why,” others inquire, “when tempers are still hot and nerves are still frayed, does she continue to take money from the outfits that are widely blamed for the financial crisis of 2008?” Answer: Because she’s Hillary Clinton. “How could she possibly believe that her ex-president husband’s temporary inability to buy a multi-million-dollar house rendered her ‘dead broke’”? Because she’s Hillary Clinton, and she has a sense of entitlement that would make Imelda Marcos blush. And so, having been championed and overpraised for years, lionized more for her immutable characteristics than for any concrete achievements, and allowed to pretend that her few successes have been the product of her own ability and not her husband’s uncommon political talent, Clinton has of late fallen disastrously deep into the professional celebrity’s most pernicious trap: She has begun to believe her own hype. How long can it be before her fellow disciples begin to lose faith in more than just the small hours of the night?
Supreme arrogance, and a willingness to take a chance that this will all come to nothing. After all, we’re talking about the era of politics and government where no one is really held accountable for anything. The smartest woman in the world probably also figured we’d never put two and two together (i.e. private email, foreign donations). And if we did? Heh … they tried that out yesterday and it failed miserably:
The strongest argument in favor of this behavior — legally, at least — is that Clinton is a clueless, confused, and out-of-touch old woman who struggles to grasp basic technological concepts, and that she therefore had not the first idea what was expected of her. In the immediate aftermath, this was the first defense offered. It’s “worth remembering,” a former Clinton administration staffer assured me quickly on Twitter, “that Hillary didn’t have email until she was in her forties. She was clueless.” “I just mean,” he added, desperately, that “she’s no dummy — except possibly with computers — where she kinda is.”
Bulltacos. There have been countless stories and battles over the use of official emails that this is a complete non-starter. As Cooke notes, it’s “desperate”. This wasn’t some technodunce-granny completely befuddled by this new age. This was a deliberate and calculated attempt to circumvent the system:
Digging a little into the story today, Business Insider’s Hunter Walker recorded today that Clinton did not so much inadvertently continue to use her previous account as she had her team build and configure an alternative system over which she had full and unadulterated control.
Exactly. And now, she should pay the price.
If anyone can find it in themselves to hold people like Hillary Clinton accountable for her misdeeds.
I certainly have no qualms about doing it. At a minimum, she should be shamed, shunned and dismissed from public life. She’s demonstrated she isn’t fit to hold the highest office in the land. And we certainly don’t need and probably couldn’t survive an Obama 3rd term anyway.
This is Hillary Clinton, who would love to be your next president, talking about the power grab over the internet by the FCC and Obama administration. She’s fine with it:
“For the FCC to do what they want to do, to try to create net neutrality as the norm, they have to have a hook to hang it on,” Clinton said. She said it’s the only hook the FCC’s got. But that she’d vote for regulating the Internet.
And despite her husband’s administration not taking such action, Clinton suggested the Internet had developed in such a way that something needed to be changed.
“I would vote for net neutrality, because as I understand it, it’s Title II with a lot of changes within it, in order to avoid the worst of the utility regulation,” Hillary Clinton said.
She said President Obama was “right” on the issue.
“It’s a foot in the door, it’s a value statement, I think the president is right to be upfront and out front on that.”
“It’s a foot in the door …”.
To understand her and the left’s mindset, that’s really all of the quote you need to read and understand. The exponential expansion of government power with her and her ilk at the helm.
A pretend problem (that no one was complaining about) and the usual solution (of which 61% disapprove according to the most recent poll I’ve seen). I.e. more government, more rules, more power and more powerbrokering. It’s another beachhead on the sands of freedom. An unelected commission just took over one of the largest and most innovative entrepreneurial engines we’ve ever seen and has decided to impose 20th century utility regulations on it by fiat.
And the gutless GOP Congress? Well, just like immigration, DHS, and ObamaCare … they’ll talk about it, stick their fingers in the air, monitor a hostile press and in the end … well, look where we are and figure it out for yourself.
That’s the apparent intent of a BATFE proposal as it applies to 5.56 ammunition. The left, for years, has been trying to ban “assault weapons”, which are, essentially dressed up semi-automatic rifles. Assault weapons, as you might imagine are capable of fully automatic fire. Such weapons are already illegal without a very difficult to get permit.
Nevertheless, it is a long cherished dream of the left to implement gun control, because, well the key word is the second one – control.
So, having been absolutely and totally rejected when they tried to impose such laws, they’re decided to take what Marie Harf would surely characterize as “a more nuanced approach“.
As promised, President Obama is using executive actions to impose gun control on the nation, targeting the top-selling rifle in the country, the AR-15 style semi-automatic, with a ban on one of the most-used AR bullets by sportsmen and target shooters.
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives this month revealed that it is proposing to put the ban on 5.56 mm ammo on a fast track, immediately driving up the price of the bullets and prompting retailers, including the huge outdoors company Cabela’s, to urge sportsmen to urge Congress to stop the president.
At issue is so-called “armor-piercing” ammunition, an exemption for those bullets mostly used for sport by AR-15 owners, and the recent popularity of pistol-style ARs that use the ammo.
The inexpensive 5.56 M885 ammo, commonly called green tips, have been exempt for years, as have higher-caliber ammunition that also easily pierces the type of soft armor worn by police, because it’s mostly used by target shooters, not criminals. The agency proposes to reclassify it as armor-piercing and not exempt.
But now BATFE says that since the bullets can be used in semi-automatic handguns they pose a threat to police and must be banned from production, sale and use. But, as Goodlatte noted, the agency offered no proof. Federal agencies will still be allowed to buy the ammo.
And, according the the article, there is no proof to provide. None exists.
Of course, the AR15 is one of America’s most popular weapons and hundreds of thousands of them, if not millions are in the hands of Americans. Certainly not a hard weapon for a criminal to get and use on police. However, they rarely do. They tend to eschew small caliber arms for those which have a bigger punch in a handgun.
So, logically, that makes little if any sense. As for the armor piercing capability, while I’m sympathetic to the point, a little proof of it being a problem would be helpful. To this point, everything I’ve read says it hasn’t been a problem to this point.
“This round is amongst the most commonly used in the most popular rifle design in America, the AR-15. Millions upon millions of M855 rounds have been sold and used in the U.S., yet ATF has not even alleged — much less offered evidence — that even one such round has ever been fired from a handgun at a police officer,” said Goodlatte’s letter.
Even some police don’t buy the administration’s claim. “Criminals aren’t going to go out and buy a $1,000 AR pistol,” Brent Ball, owner of 417 Guns in Springfield, Mo., and a 17-year veteran police officer told the Springfield News-Leader. “As a police officer I’m not worried about AR pistols because you can see them. It’s the small gun in a guy’s hand you can’t see that kills you.”
Another manufactured “crisis” and another “solution” which involves government using its coerscive power to ban something that a particular political ideology finds odious – beside you being free, that is. And, of course, it opens the door to more invented problems solved by more bans.
This is called “democracy”. One side gets enough votes to seize power and then they force their ideology on you – if not by legislative means, then by executive action. The document that is supposed to protect your freedom from government has been declared null and void. Your freedoms? Well, let’s just say that they’re up for interpretation depending on which faction is in power. But what is for sure is they’re eroded and will continue to erode under this system of politics. Government gets larger and more intrusive and as it does, it squeezes out your freedoms in the name of the “greater good”, or “for the good of police” or “the children” or whatever bit of gimcrackery they can use to attract enough votes.
Your freedom suffers the consequences.
It appears as the climate alarmists and our political betters pursue global warming (with the “big meeting” in December of this year), some scientists are much more concerned about global cooling.
Why? Uh, the Sun?
“The main driver of all weather and climate, the entity which occupies 99.86% of all of the mass in our solar system, the great ball of fire in the sky – has gone quiet again during what is likely to be the weakest sunspot cycle in more than a century,” echoes vencoreweather.com. “Not since cycle 14 peaked in February 1906 has there been a solar cycle with fewer sunspots. We are currently more than six years into Solar Cycle 24 and today the sun is virtually spotless despite the fact that we are still in what is considered to be its solar maximum phase.”
“There have been two notable historical periods with decades-long episodes of low solar activity,” continues vencoreweather.com. “The first period is known as the “Maunder Minimum”, named after the solar astronomer Edward Maunder, and it lasted from around 1645 to 1715. The second one is referred to as the “Dalton Minimum”, named for the English meteorologist John Dalton, and it lasted from about 1790 to 1830.
“Both of these historical periods coincided with below-normal global temperatures in an era now referred to by many as the “Little Ice Age”.
“If this trend continues for the next couple of cycles, then there would likely be more talk of another “grand minimum” for the sun.”
This, of course, will be roundly ignored in December when the “world” meets to decide on how to address …
global warming climate change. Because the conclusion has been determined before the meeting. The meeting is about how much to charge you for fixing this nonexistent problem and how to divide up the loot.