Flip-flopper-in-chief: Barack Obama was against the crony Ex-Im Bank before he lobbied for its reauthorization

President Barack Obama used his weekly address to make a sales pitch for the Export-Import Bank, the New Deal-era agency that has come under fire from conservatives in Congress because of its taxpayer-backed loan guarantees to large corporations. Congress will take up the reauthorization of the Bank at some point next month, which could lead to a showdown between conservatives and the Washington political establishment:

President Barack Obama urged the owners and employees of businesses that rely on Export-Import Bank financing to tell members of Congress to “quit treating your business like it’s expendable” in his Saturday morning address.
[…]
Obama took aim at that characterization of the bank on Saturday.

“Its sole mission is to create American jobs. That’s it,” Obama said. “It helps many American entrepreneurs take that next step and take their small business global.”

The bank has been reauthorized 16 times before, “always with support from both parties” and under both Republican and Democratic presidents, the president said.

“This time around shouldn’t be any different,” he said. “Because the bank works. It’s independent. It pays for itself. But if Congress fails to act, thousands of businesses, large and small, that sell their products abroad will take a completely unnecessary hit.”

Boom: Government Accountability Office says that Obama’s Taliban prisoner exchange broke federal law

The Obama administration broke two laws when authorized a trade for Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl in exchange for five Taliban detainees who were being held at Guantanamo Bay, according to a report released late last week by the Government Accountability Office:

President Obama’s decision to exchange captive Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl for five Guantanamo Bay detainees violated federal law, according to a legal opinion the Government Accountability Office sent to Congress Thursday.

That’s because the administration failed to notify Congress at least 30 days before the transfer, as required under a law passed in February. The Pentagon notified Congress of the deal on May 31, the same day the transfer was made.

And because Congress did not authorize spending for the exchange, it also violated the Antideficiency Act, a law intended to protect Congress’s power of the purse.

The Department of Defense spent $988,400 on the transfer, the Pentagon told the GAO.

An intentional violation of the Antideficiency Act is a crime punishable by up to two years in prison, but those criminal penalties are rarely enforced.

The Department of Defense Appropriations Act of requires the administration to notify Congress of a prisoner exchange at least 30 days before the transfer takes place. President Obama believes that this law is unconstitutional because he believes that it violates the separation of powers. He issued a signing statement making his objection clear when he signed the measure into law.

It Wasn’t Me, Says TN Supreme Court Justice on Ethics Complaint; Blogger Continues to Pursue Formal Charges, Public Sanctions

Tennessee Supreme Court Justice Gary Wade has responded to an ethics complaint filed by a United Liberty contributor under the state’s Code of Judicial Conduct for violations of election rules, but the complainant will continue to pursue formal charges and public sanctions.

Tennessee Supreme Court Justice Gary R. Wade

Gary Wade, a sitting justice of the Tennessee Supreme Court, fresh off one of the narrowest statewide judicial retention election wins in history (though his colleague Justice Sharon Lee will replace him as Chief Justice on September 1, 2014), has blamed his campaign committee’s counsel for a prohibited electioneering communication on a billboard that he and his campaign committee erected in Sevier County, Tennessee this summer while campaigning for judicial office. In a one-paragraph letter dated August 12, 2014, a copy of which is below, Justice Wade claims that the billboard was erected “prior to receiving advice from legal counsel that the sign may potentially infringe upon the Rules of Judicial Conduct, which may prohibit the endorsement of other candidates on the same court.” Wade’s letter also notes that, as soon as counsel notified him that there was a problem, he contacted both Board of Judicial Conduct Disciplinary Counsel Timothy R. Discenza, a former federal prosecutor, to “[report] the matter,” and the billboard company, to notify them that the message would need to be changed.

Political Ads Are Litmus Test for FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler

Obama's FCC pick Tom Wheeler

Since he took the helm of the Federal Communications Commission, Tom Wheeler, the former chief cable industry lobbyist, has come under fire for playing favorites with his former employers.

Now, the embattled Chairman is scrambling to clean up the mess caused by exempting pay-TV operators from political ad disclosures as candidates gear up for the election this November.

The law has long required broadcast television stations, cable operators, and satellite television to maintain publicly-accessible political files that disclose the identity of candidates and organizations that buy political ad time and how much it costs. That changed in 2012, when the FCC started requiring that broadcast television stations publish their political files in a searchable database hosted by the FCC.

Uber learns its lesson: In Washington, you only go legit when you go full crony

David Plouffe and Uber

Before Catherine Ann Novelli, Apple’s VP for “global government affairs,” was nominated as the Obama administration’s under secretary for economic growth, energy, and the environment, Congress used the excuse Apple moved money around to reduce its owed taxes while simply following the tax code to grill its CEO Tim Cook.

Politicians who were angry Apple didn’t use its influence to gain some leverage with lawmakers by creating political action committees used this official investigation to serve as a way to teach Apple - and other companies - just how they must proceed to be allowed to play the game.

The message was clear: either ramp up your lobbying and spend more of your hard-earned money on political campaign efforts, or be prepared for a major Beltway shakedown.

Unlike Apple, Uber - the transportation company that was recently under the spotlight for being threatened by the Taxi cartel - did not wait until a shakedown was put in place to act; the company has recently hired President Obama’s former campaign manager and White House adviser David Plouffe as a senior vice president of policy and strategy.

What does that mean? That his influence in Washington will help assure Uber’s strong ties with government are in place, helping sustain the company’s dominance over the industry.

Ferguson, the 2nd Amendment, and Militiarized Police

Ferguson, Missouri

Things seem to be calming down a bit in Ferguson, and that’s good. It proves that people can, and do, behave rationally despite a national news media stirring the pot with constant, perhaps sensationalist, coverage.

There’s little need to rehash the details, and the Grand Jury has begun collecting evidence to get to the facts of the Michael Brown case. Also good, because there’s every possibility that, even if this case proves that Officer Wilson was by-the-book justified, there may be some problem with police overzealousness in Ferguson, perhaps related to race (although class structure may be a bigger culprit, as is usually the case).

But the one very interesting debate that has emerged is the notion of police militarization and if our community police forces are looking more and more like civilian armies ready to squash any protest — peaceful and justified or otherwise — before grievances can be heard. And how, exactly, can people distrust that kind of policing and still be in favor of the 2nd Amendment?

Watch MSNBC’s Chris Matthews blast Barack Obama over his response to ISIS

Chris Matthews, the MSNBC talk show host who once said that Barack Obama gave him a “thrill up [his] leg,” isn’t happy with the President’s response to the brutal execution of James Foley in Iraq at the hands of Islamic militants.

In a segment on Wednesday evening, Matthews blasted President Obama’s statement on Foley’s death and his promise to see his killers are brought to “justice.”

“I don’t know why he used the word ‘justice.’ It’s not appropriate here. This is an attack on our country, we have to react to it,” said Matthews, according Newsbusters. “This is our country versus this group that’s declared war on us. What’s justice mean in this con— I don’t know why the word’s used, like we’re going to go to the World Court with this?”

Just after he gave the statement on Foley’s death, The Hill reported that President Obama, who returned to Martha’s Vineyard to finish his vacation on Tuesday after a two-day visit to Washington, “hit the golf course” with former NBA star Alonzo Mourning, among others.

Federal judge orders Eric Holder to turn over a list Fast and Furious documents to a House committee

A federal judge has delivered a blow to the White House and the Justice Department’s attempt to keep information related to Operation Fast and Furious out of the hands of members of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.

Although she didn’t order the release of the documents themselves, Judge Amy Berman Jackson did order Attorney General Eric Holder’s department to send a list of the documents to the committee:

Judge Amy Berman Jackson ruled that the Justice Department must provide the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee with a list of documents — but not the documents themselves — withheld on the gunrunning operation.

The agency has until Oct. 1 to turn over the documents, Jackson said during a status hearing.

Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), chairman of the Oversight panel, cheered the ruling.

“This administration has been so intent on hiding the contents of these documents that it allowed Attorney General Holder to be held in contempt instead of just turning them over to Congress,” Issa said. “The privilege log will bring us closer to finding out why the Justice Department hid behind false denials in the wake of reckless conduct that contributed to the violent deaths of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry and countless Mexican citizens.”

Venezuela’s socialist government is now rationing food after prices controls proved to be a miserable failure

Venezuela food shortages

The socialist government of Venezuela is, basically, rationing food. With food shortages a concern, one that’s been around for some time and was one of the issues at the center of protests earlier this year, its implementing a biometric system that will track how much people buy to stop them from overbuying:

The Venezuelan Executive Office is to implement a biometric system for the purchase of food in private supermarkets, for the purpose of controlling the sale of staples per individual. Authorities have outlined the move seeks to “collect data on Venezuelans’ purchases, included items and frequency” in order to tackle food smuggling.

With the mechanism, customers’ identity card numbers and fingerprints will be recorded, so as to prevent them from buying the same product more than once during the same week.

The current Venezuelan president, Nicolas Maduro, has continued the most of Hugo Chavez’s policies and announced the biometric food rationing system in the spring. Maduro, who’s led the country since March 2013, has blamed hoarders, smugglers, and the Central Intelligence Agency for the food shortage.

Hilarious: “Air Mary” taunts vulnerable Louisiana Democrat at a Baton Rouge event

The Louisiana Republican Party is trolling Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA) over her use of public funds to fly to campaign fundraisers. A group of protesters, dressed in flight uniforms, followed the vulnerable Senate Democrat to an event in Baton Rouge on Wednesday where the held up “Air Mary” signs.

Here’s the video via America Rising:

Landrieu isn’t just under fire for taking at least four trips to campaign fundraisers on the taxpayer dime, but also her excessive use of charter planes. In 2013 alone, for example, Landrieu’s Senate office dropped $47,000 on charter flights for visits to her home state.

 


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