Earlier this week, the Chicago Tribune ran a little noted editorial on the insider trading scandal plaguing Congress, calling out phony efforts to reform the rules and demanding that we finally put a stop to this outrageous and unethical behavior.If you haven’t read the editorial yet, I recommend you do because while the professional political punditry class is more interested in superfluous items like the political horse race and candidate attire, the reality is that members of both parties in Washington, D.C., are abusing their positions and ordinary Americans have had enough.As the editorial notes, “’60 Minutes’ reported that Pelosi and her husband participated in an initial public offering from Visa in 2008, just as credit card legislation started moving through the House. The Pelosis bought 5,000 shares at the IPO price of $44 a share. Two days later, the shares traded at $64. The legislation, which was likely to cut credit card company profits, went nowhere that year. It passed two years later.”It’s not enough members of Congress make $174,000 a year, some are trading on inside information to use their public service to enrich themselves.Please click here for the rest of the post.
Democrats generally tend to operate on the hope that most American voters can’t remember anything that happened longer than about a month ago. Very often they can get away with it, especially on something as esoteric as recess appointments or filibusters. But it is worth noting the history of this particular sordid tale which culminated yesterday, in order to understand why, even in the normal give and take that is to be expected when two parties are battling for power, Obama’s action yesterday truly was an unprecedented abuse of power.Presidents have long used the recess appointment to fill vacancies caused by a racalcitrant Congress. Clinton used them very frequently when Republicans controlled the chamber. During the GWB administration, after the Republicans retook the Senate in 2002, the Democrats in the Senate – including one particular Democrat Senator named Barack Obama – upped the ante through the widespread use of the filibuster to block all manner of Bush appointments. It is quite rich for Obama to complain about Republican minority obstructionism when he participated in the inception of the program. In fact, in 2004, when the Senate was without question in an intra-session recess, Bush recess appointed William Pryor for a seat on the 11th Circuit Court of appeals. Senate Democrats, led by Ted Kennedy, were so incensed that they unsuccessfully sued to prevent Pryor from being seated. Ultimately their suit was unsuccessful (although it never reached the Supreme Court) because a short recess is still a recess. Thus the Democrats were ultimately impotent to prevent Bush from thwarting their filibusters via recess appointment – until, that is, they took over Congress in 2006. Then the Congressional Democrats – again including Barack Obama – devised a scheme whereby the Senate never went into recess, thus preventing Bush from making further recess appointments. In other words, we are where we are today because of something the Democrats were doing themselves three short years ago.Against this backdrop, Barack Obama is making the claim that since he has made relatively few recess appointments during his tenure as compared to Bush, it is completely okay for him to violate the plain text of the Constitution and spit on the separation of powers. One point should be made here – the main reason Obama hasn’t had to make many recess appointments is that for the first two years of his three year Presidency his party controlled the House and also had a filibuster-proof rubber stamp majority in the Senate. The relatively small number of recess appointments is hardly evidence of any restraint on his part.Please click here for the rest of the post.
President Obama, Secretary of Defense Panetta, and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Dempsey gave a brief press conference this morning on America’s new defense strategy, crafted in the face of massive national debt and looming budget crises (actually, it would be more accurate to say that the latter two gave a press conference; the president gave a statement, and then departed without taking questions). Though the $487,000,000,000.00 in upcoming DoD budget cuts – which Panetta called “politically sensitive” – were repeatedly mentioned (particularly by Deputy SecDef Carter in the second part of the presser), the entire conference on America’s “strategic turning point” (a.k.a. America’s “historic shift to the future“) was an exercise in generalities, with Panetta continually referring reporters to Obama’s forthcoming budget for specifics. Whether he was asked about weapons systems or military health care, Panetta never strayed far from his standard line that “everything was on the table” and “the President’s budget will have more specifics.”A key message that Panetta and Dempsey repeatedly hammered was that the overall force (particularly the Army and Marine Corps) would be undergoing a “resizing” that, while made necessary by budget imperatives, would ostensibly be prevented from leading to a reduction in overall capability by the accompanying defense strategy. While the “unique global leadership role of the United States in today’s world” would continue to be recognized and acted on, Panetta said, a necessary part of this will be a stronger reliance on “alliances” and an effort to “find innovative ways to sustain US presence” abroad. Given the resource problems that have been demonstrated by our effort to engage in combat and nation-building efforts in two countries at once over the last decade (not to mention the contingency operations being conducted in several other locations worldwide), it’s clear such deep cuts will have an effect on defense capability, even if America’s military is reorganized and its strategy rewritten with the new budgetary reality squarely in mind.Please click here for the rest of the post.
With Iowa now under his belt there is some monumentally big news for Mitt Romney that no one has really noted yet today. Allow me to congratulate him.For the first time since November of 2010, Mitt Romney has broken through the 25.5% ceiling that has been his maximum share of support in the Real Clear Politics polling average.This is pretty significant as he has been on an upward trend since early December. But this is the first time he’s gone above 25.5%. He is now at 26.6%.Please click here for the rest of the post.
On February 14, 2002, Democratic Senators Joe Biden, John Edwards, Diane Feinstein, Ron Wyden, Robert Torricelli, and Chris Dodd amongs joined with every single Republican in the Senate including Susan Collins, Olympia Snowe, Lincoln Chaffee, and the rest to kill a measure that would have given felons, including rapists, drug traffickers, and arsonists, the right to vote.The measure failed 63 to 31.But while Joe Biden and Dianne Feinstein were siding with the Republicans in the United States Senate, there were actually three Republicans joining 28 Democrats to support giving these felons the right to vote. One was Senator DeWine of Ohio who the voters would thereafter throw out of office.The other two Republicans were Senators Rick Santorum and Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania.Please click here for the rest of the post.