The mad doctor:
The thrill appears to have disappeared for the arms-folded Matthews.)
These clips have been making the rounds, and for good reason. The gentleman from South Carolina, a former federal prosecutor, was en fuego on the House floor yesterday as he rose to defend the constitution's separation of powers. Gowdy was advocating on behalf Republicans' ENFORCE Act, which is meant to grant members of Congress standing to sue the executive branch if an administration arbitrarily disregards duly-enacted laws. President Obama issued a veto threat over the bill, which passed mostly along party lines:
President Obama is threatening to veto a law that would allow Congress to sue him in federal courts for arbitrarily changing or refusing to enforce federal laws because it "violates the separation of powers" by encroaching on his presidential authority. "[T]he power the bill purports to assign to Congress to sue the President over whether he has properly discharged his constitutional obligation to take care that the laws be faithfully executed exceeds constitutional limitations," the White House Office of Management and Budget said Wednesday in a statement of administration policy. "Congress may not assign such power to itself, nor may it assign to the courts the task of resolving such generalized political disputes." The lead sponsor of the measure, Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., said it was designed to curb Obama's abuse of presidential authority, most notably in his frequent changes to Obamacare. Obama also threatened to veto another bill by Rep. Ron DeSantis, R-Fla., which would require the administration to explain decisions not to enforce laws when those decisions are rooted in policy concerns rather than just constitutional concerns.
In essence, the White House is arguing that the constitution's sacred separation of powers prevents Congress from seeking a legal remedy to reign in the president's...abuse of the constitutional separation of powers. This president has repeatedly and unilaterally altered, delayed and abandoned elements of the so-called "Affordable" Care Act, which was enacted by Congress and signed into law by Obama in 2010. As liberal law professor Jonathan Turley has warned, the Obama administration's sundry executive power grabs have been pervasive, impacting issues as far afield as immigration and presidential war powers. Here's Gowdy upbraiding his Democratic colleagues for standing and cheering Obama's State of the Union promise to bypass the people's branch in pursuit of his ideological agenda (via Twitchy):
In a separate speech, Gowdy rehearsed a series of verbatim, golden oldie quotes from Senator Barack Obama denouncing what he saw as President Bush's executive overreach -- including one assertion from Obama that one of the judiciary's most essential imperatives is to "guard against the executive branch's encroachment on the powers of the other branches." Yet here we are, with President Obama threatening to veto a bill that would address the exact constitutional safeguards he once demanded. Gowdy:
You've come a long way, champ:
From President Obama's unilateral re-write of education law, to his many Obamacare delays, a growing chorus of conservatives, and recently even some liberals, have been decrying Obama's abuse of executive power.
Up until now, most of Obama's liberal allies have either stayed silent or supported these actions. But now that it is becoming increasingly clear that Obama will get nothing done in Congress, these same liberal allies are asking Obama to abuse his executive power even further.
Take BuzzFeed's Jacob Fischler has a story out today on union frustration over Obamacare. “It’s clear they have chosen not to use what I believe is the same administrative authority and executive authority to address some of the issues that we have been pointing out that they have found basis to use for other areas,” International Association of Fire Fighters General President Harold Schaitberger told Fischler.
In other words, if Obama can delay the employer mandate, refuse to enforce minimum health insurance requirements, and functionally repeal the individual mandate entirely, then why can't they fix labor's Obamacare Cadillac Tax problem too?
Obama is facing the exact same dilemma on immigration. After failing to pass amnesty legislation in his first year in office, as promised, he did manage to regain Latino support in June 2012 by unilaterally creating a limited mini-amnesty (the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program) without Congress.
At the time, conservatives warned that if Obama could get away with rewriting immigration policy through "enforcement discretion" as he did with DACA, then there was nothing stopping him from unilaterally enacting a much broader amnesty program.
It took almost two years, but amnesty advocates now completely agree with conservatives on the legal question. The Washington Post's Greg Sargent reports:
“There has been a shift within the Hispanic media,” Jorge Ramos, the influential Univision anchor who has been called the “Walter Cronkite of Hispanic media,” told me. “If you read the editorial pages in the most important Spanish language newspapers, you notice immediately how the conversation has changed from attacking Republicans to attacking Obama.”
Ramos insisted there are some categories — parents and siblings of DREAMers, and parents of Latinos born here — that could legally benefit from presidential action. But whatever the legality of this, Latino media are increasingly convinced Obama can do this. “We are seeing more and more reporting in Spanish language media that Obama has the power to stop deportations,” Ramos said.
And the Spanish language media is 100 percent correct. If DACA is legal, then it should also be legal for Obama to end almost all deportations. The executive authority Obama claimed when justifying DACA simply has no limiting principle.
Obama's unilateral legislating is coming back to haunt him. Obama desperately needs Latinos and union members to show up at the polls this November, but the only way Obama can make them happy is by further shredding the Constitution's separation of powers doctrine.
But if he does that, he will only further motivate the Republican base and turn off moderate voters.
Which path will Obama choose? Will he turn to Congress to work on the legislative fixes he needs? Or will he continue to legislate from the White House?
Considering his recent personnel choices, the question answers itself.
…ummm no, Congresswoman. We have not.
Anyway, we all make mistakes and say dumb things. I do all the time. However, one would at least expect Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX) -- a sitting member of Congress, mind you -- to have some idea of when the U.S. Constitution was ratified. Nope:
In her defense, perhaps the speech was written by an unlearned staffer. And since a representative’s schedule is often hectic and subject to change, maybe she didn’t have time to proofread the speech before reading it verbatim on the House floor. This of course presumes she’s not speaking extemporaneously -- she very well could be, I can’t really tell from the video, can you? -- and thus the blame sits squarely on her shoulders.
Either way, she’s off by well over a hundred years. Oops. Better luck next time, I guess.
In case anyone thought we knew everything about the NSA spying scandal, once again, we have new information about how the government has worked its way into our homes. According to a new report out yesterday, the National Security Agency has been using automated systems to infect computers with malware since 2010. And at times it even pretended to be Facebook in order to perform this installation.
A program codenamed TURBINE contaminated computers and networks with malware “implants” that could spy on users. All of this information has come from new documents leaked by Edward Snowden.
According to this report somewhere between 85,000 and 100,000 implants were deployed worldwide so far.
The agency used what is called “man-on-the-side” attacks to trick users into thinking that they were accessing Facebook, and once they were fooled, the NSA would hack into their computers and extract data from the hard drives.
Facebook claims they had no idea that the NSA was doing this. But the social network also said that it is no longer possible for the NSA or other hackers to attack users that way. Other social networks may be vulnerable still.
The NSA has also apparently used spam emails to infect malware onto computers. And depending on what kind, malware can do anything from using the computer’s microphone to record audio, to recording a computer’s internet history, and even using the camera to take pictures.
In the report, it also states that the NSA has been infecting computers with malware since 2004, but used to do so manually. Now because this has been accomplished remotely, the number of deployments of these infections has risen greatly.
Clearly the NSA hasn’t given up on their efforts to spy into our lives. Obviously we are all just going to have to be careful when downloading new software and using other social networks that are susceptible to this kind of hacking.
Ares Armor, a San Diego company that manufacturers and produces parts for firearms that are legally built at home, has been granted a restraining order against the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms. The company is trying to prevent ATF agents from seizing a 5,000 customer list in addition to $300,000 in inventory. ATF is threatening to shut the company down if they fail to turn over requested information.
Why does ATF want a list of customers? ATF has classified plastic receivers as "firearms," while at the same time classifying the same receiver made of metal as legal. ATF wants to see who has purchased a plastic receiver from the company.
"Last week the BATFE Raided EP Armory based on a determination letter that had deemed the 80% Polymer product to be a firearm. The determination letter that the BATFE used to obtain warrants against EP Armory is based on incorrect information about the manufacturing process. The BATFE has been notified of their error and the incorrectness of their determination based on this error. This week on Monday, March 10th the BATFE threatened to raid us even though they are fully aware that their determination letter is factually incorrect. They requested that we turn over a list of every customer that had purchased a polymer lower from us and turn over the remaining inventory that we have," Ares Armor CEO Dimitrios Karras said in a declaration posted on the company website. "Our customer’s privacy is of the utmost importance to us. I cannot in good moral conscience turn over a list of names to the BATFE just because they unduly threaten us with an unjust raid based on information they KNOW TO BE FALSE! For the time we are SAFE! We were granted a Temporary Restraining Order against the BATFE on March 11th."
Thanks to the restraining order being granted yesterday, a raid of the company was stopped outside their front doors. ATF agents who showed up to raid the company were forced to leave. Karras described ATF's request for the list, saying an agent intimidated him "with the possibility of criminal charges if he was not satisfied" and that "I am now in constant fear for the safety of my employees, my customers and myself."
Here is a report from a local news outlet (please ignore the reporter's classification of AR-15s as "assault style" weapons).
If I had to venture a guess, I’d say Sen. Mark Pryor (D-AR) is probably the most vulnerable incumbent senator up for re-election in 2014. Perhaps this is why Americans for Prosperity (AFP) has announced yet another ad buy to send him packing and into early retirement. Per Politico, the conservative group has already funneled $1.4 million into the race -- and unfortunately for Team Pryor, AFP's latest television spot will be seen all over the state:
The 30-second spot from the Koch brothers-backed group is set to air statewide on cable and networks, along with digital advertising, for three weeks. Text at the end reads, “Senator Mark Pryor voted for Obamacare. Tell Sen. Pryor, Obamacare hurts Arkansas families.”
If the special election in Florida teaches us anything, it’s that Obamacare is an issue Republicans can win on. Despite having state-wide name recognition and tons of money, Democratic candidate Alex Sink lost by roughly two percentage points to her Republican opponent -- Congressman-elect David Jolly (R-FL). What’s notable, however, is that she ran on a platform of “fixing” Obamacare, as Guy noted in his analysis of the race. (Her opponent argued for its repeal). So just how toxic, then, is Obamacare? The election results, I think, speak for themselves.
A recent poll, too, found that among respondents most likely to vote, Pryor trailed his Republican challenger, Rep. Tom Cotton (R-AR), by nine percentage points. Thus Pryor is already feeling the effects of conservative attack ads. It’s early, of course, but the political headwinds that for so long were blowing against Republicans seem to be receding.
Ads like these are making a real difference:
The magnitude of Obamacare's failure is becoming increasingly clear every day. Enrollment rates and demographics are weak. Central promises have been shattered. Affordability remains elusive for millions. Costs for families, small businesses and the federal government are going up. And the uninsured aren't participating. In spite of a parade of delays and "fixes," Reeling from a bellwether special election loss, Democrats find themselves right back where they were in late 2013: Panicked over their poisonous signature law. Back then, they tried to blame "glitches" in the rollout. The problems that persist today cut to the heart of the law itself. How will Democrats spin Obamacare heading into November? They've devolved from vowing to proudly run on Obamacare, to focusing on making needed changes to the law, to...chaotic disagreement. Politico reports:
Democrats can’t even agree whether Obamacare was the reason for their crushing loss in a Florida special election Tuesday. Now picture how their messaging plan for the health care law is shaping up for 2014. Republican lobbyist David Jolly’s victory over Democrat Alex Sink has many Democrats privately worried and publicly split about how to talk about Obamacare. A few Democrats are advocating a drastic rhetorical shift to the left, by criticizing their own party for not going far enough when it passed the law in 2010. Other Democrats plan to sharply criticize the Affordable Care Act when running for re-election. Many plan to stick to the simple message that Obamacare is flawed and needs to be fixed —a tactic that plainly didn’t work for Sink. Taken together, the Democratic Party is heading into an already tough election year divided — instead of united — on the very issue Republicans plan to make central to their campaigns.
Pro tip: Messaging isn't the problem. Among the Democrats with the most to lose in November is a trio of vulnerable southern Senators: Kay Hagan, Mary Landrieu and Mark Pryor. Hagan has literally fled Obamacare questions, Landrieu is on record saying that she is "100 percent" responsible for the law, which Mark Pryor called an "amazing success story." Rattled by how badly his "success story" is proceeding, Pryor is running an erratic campaign. He accidentally touted his opponent's website at a press conference on Medicare (which he repeatedly voted to cut in order to pay for Obamacare), and bizarrely accused his Republican foe of feeling "entitled" to his seat due to his military service, or something. That, coming from a career politician who used his family's prominent political name to get elected. Americans for Prosperity has launched a $700,000 television ad buy in Arkansas targeting Pryor for misleading his constituents about keeping their existing health coverage:
President Obama's Surgeon General nominee, Dr. Vivek Murthy, has a history of gun control adovacy. When questioned on the topic during his confirmation hearing in February, Murthy said under oath that he won't make gun control a "priority" should he be approved by the Senate to lead the Department of Health and Human Services, despite saying in the past that guns are a "healthcare issue."
Last night, NRA-ILA Executive Director Chris Cox made an appearance on The Kelly File and warned that Murthy will treat gun ownership and the Second Amendment like a disease.
"Mr. Murthy is not just a gun control supporter, he's a gun control activist and it is clear his agenda is to treat a constitutional freedom as a disease. That's not something the National Rifle Association is going to sit idly by and watch happen," Cox said. "The top doctor in America should not be a partisan ideologue...teaching people about obesity and all those issues that keep people healthy and safe is where the focus should be, not on the gun control agenda."
The NRA will score Senate votes for or against Murthy and has urged its five million members to contact and urge their Senators to vote no on his confirmation.
"We don't trust this nominee and there's a reason for it and that's because he's been an activist and like I said he's hell bent on treating a constitutional freedom like a disease. That should offend and concern everybody, whether you're a Second Amendment supporter or not," Cox said.
The Senate is expected to vote on Murthy's nomination sometime in the next few weeks.
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