Here we go again: Barack Obama tells Congress he doesn’t need authorization to wage war

Well, it looks like President Barack Obama is going to bypass Congress to wage a military campaign once again avoiding the constitutional role Congress has in determining when the United States is at war.

President Obama told the four main congressional leaders — House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH), House Minority Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) — that he doesn’t need a vote in Congress authorizing military action against in Iraq against the Islamic State:

The president is expected to use [his Wednesday evening] speech to announce the expanded use of airstrikes against ISIS targets in Iraq, as well as his administration’s efforts to build an international coalition to confront the terror threat.

The president is also weighing the possibility of airstrikes against ISIS targets in Syria, as well as asking the United Nations to pass a binding resolution requiring governments to prevent the flow of foreign fighters to the region.

While Obama told the House and Senate leaders he would welcome congressional action that demonstrates a unified front, the president told the bipartisan group “he has the authority he needs to take action against (ISIS) in accordance with the mission he will lay out in his address,” according to the White House.
[…]
None of the four leaders present in the meeting mentioned the need for congressional action following the meeting, nor did they offer many clues as to what new strategy elements Obama might announce.

Voter fraud in Georgia: Two groups tied to Democrats are under investigation for forged voter applications

There’s some big news is coming out of the Peach State that implicates organizations tied to state House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams (D-Atlanta), a supporter of Michelle Nunn and Jason Carter, the Democratic Party of Georgia’s nominees for U.S. Senate and Governor.

Third Sector Development, founded by Abrams, and its subsidiary, the New Georgia Project, have allegedly forged voter registration applications, forged signatures, and told voters that they have to re-register. The two organizations focus their efforts on minority engagement. According to WSB-TV, the Georgia Secretary of State’s office subpoenaed records from the two investigations after receiving numerous complaints:

In a memo sent to county elections officials, Secretary of State Brian Kemp said in recent weeks his office has “received numerous complaints about voter applications submitted by the New Georgia Project.”

Kemp wrote, “Preliminary investigation has revealed significant illegal activities’ including forged voter registration applications, forged signatures on releases, and applications with false or inaccurate information.”

A spokesman confirmed Kemp’s office was contacted by officials in DeKalb, Gwinnett, Henry, Bartow, Butts and Muscogee counties.

About time: House of Representatives condemns Barack Obama’s Taliban prisoner swap

The House of Representatives slammed President Barack Obama early Tuesday evening with the passage of a resolution “[c]ondemning and disapproving” of his administration’s failure to notify Congress of the release prisoners as required by law — in this case, five Taliban leaders — from the U.S. Naval Base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba:

The measure passed largely along party lines in a 249-163 vote, but 22 Democrats broke ranks to rebuke the president, with just two months to go before the midterm elections.

The executive branch is required by the 2014 Defense Appropriations Act to notify Congress at least 30 days before transferring prisoners at the Guantánamo Bay detention facility. A Government Accountability Office report found last month that the administration violated the law by not adhering to the requirement.
[…]
The resolution further states that the exchange hurt the administration’s relationships with lawmakers. The text says that “these actions have burdened unnecessarily the trust and confidence in the commitment and ability of the Obama administration to constructively engage and work with Congress.”

Republicans are about to cave on the crony Ex-Im Bank, surrendering more ground to the Obama White House

After months of a very public debate over the future of the Export-Import Bank, House Republicans are poised to temporarily extend the life of the controversial New Deal-era agency to avoid any drama before the mid-term election.

The Ex-Im Bank has, rightly, been criticized by conservatives both inside and outside of Congress because it has become symbolic of cronyism, the marriage of big government and big business. The Bank has doled out billions of dollars in taxpayer-backed loans to some United States’ biggest corporations, including Boeing, Caterpillar, General Electric.

Despite the efforts of some members willing to take on cronyism, House Republicans are poised to reauthorize Ex-Im, albeit temporarily, instead of risking a big fight before the chamber, because, apparently, there’s never a good moment to get into a debate over bad policy:

Speaker John Boehner on Tuesday signaled the House will extend the Export-Import Bank’s charter, saying that one of the institution’s biggest critics is on board.

The Ohio Republican said he is working with Texas Rep. Jeb Hensarling, the Financial Services chairman, who “thinks a temporary extension of the Export-Import Bank is in order.”

Bad news for Mark Begich: Obamacare premiums are going to rise by an astronomical rate in Alaska

The last couple weeks haven’t been kind for Sen. Mark Begich (D-AK). He’s facing backlash over a campaign ad that falsely accused his Republican challenger, former Alaska Attorney General Dan Sullivan, of setting a man free from prison who is now accused of killing two people. The Alaska Democrat was forced to pull the ad from the air due to complaints from the victims’ family.

Once seen as the most likely vulnerable Senate Democrat to survive a Republican challenger, Begich now trails Sullivan by 6 points, according to a poll released over the weekend, the first that has come out since the dust up over the ad. Further complicating matters for Begich is a new report that Obamacare premiums in Alaska are set to rise by a significant margin:

Alaskans buying health insurance through their state exchange can expect a price spike of more than 30 percent on average, news that could hurt Sen. Mark Begich (D-Alaska), who voted for ObamaCare.

More hypocrisy: Senate opens debate on amendment to partially repeal the First Amendment while taking corporate cash

Sen. Tom Udall (D-NM)’s S.J. Res. 19, the constitutional amendment proposal that would severely handicap our First Amendment political speech protections, has just been pushed forward in the Senate.

The Hill reports that early on Monday, the Senate advanced the amendment proposal after 20 Republicans voted with Democrats. The amendment, which would reverse the Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, has been worded to restrict the work performed by issue-focused nonprofit organizations and political action committees. It would also target corporations, which is the reason why this amendment is being so widely supported by liberals.

While most Republicans originally stood against boosting the regulatory burden on political speech, Sens. Marco Rubio (R-FL), John McCain (R-AZ), and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) - among others - voted to push the motion forward. Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), among others, voted against the proposal.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) has claimed he will spend as much time as Republicans need to debate the issue. To him, campaign spending reform is necessary to curb the easy flow of what he calls “dark money” in politics. According to Reid, “this constitutional amendment is what we need to bring sanity back to elections and restore Americans’ confidence in our democracy.”

America’s “infrastructure crisis” is an argument for decentralization rather than a bigger federal government

Michael Strain of the American Enterprise Institute looks at the topic of infrastructure spending and I’m left with mixed feelings.

Some of what he writes is very good.

Yes, the claims of an “infrastructure crisis” by President Obama, many liberals…are exaggerated. …yes, existing laws and regulations turn infrastructure projects into boondoggles that take an order of magnitude longer to complete than necessary and cost more than they should.

Amen, particularly with regard to the absurd notion that America is suffering some sort of crisis. The International Institute for Management Development in Switzerland, publisher of the World Competitiveness Yearbookputs the United States in first place when ranking nations on the quality of infrastructure.

Moreover, the just-released Global Competitiveness Report from the World Economic Forum puts the United States in 12th place for infrastructure, which also is a rather high score (if you want to know where the United States does lag, we’re in 73rd place for wastefulness of government spending, 82nd place for burden of government regulation, and 102nd place for the total tax rate on profits).

Well, this is unconstitutional: Senate Democrats want to go after corporations that have left the U.S. over the last 20 years

Article I, Section 9 of the Constitution explicitly prohibits ex post facto laws, those that are passed and signed to outlaw some sort of activity after the fact. But don’t tell that to Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY). He may soon introduce legislation that would penalize companies that moved their headquarters overseas because the United States’ unfriendly tax climate, reaching as far back as 1994:

A top Senate Democrat’s proposal to limit future deductions for companies that moved tax addresses out of the U.S. as many as 20 years ago would penalize dozens of so-called inversion deals.

The proposal by Charles Schumer of New York, the No. 3 leader in the Senate’s Democratic majority, would reduce the amount of deductible interest for inverted companies to 25 percent of U.S. taxable income from 50 percent, according to a draft obtained by Bloomberg News.

President Barack Obama has included a similar provision in his annual budgets, and this is the first time the language made it into a legislative proposal, Robert Willens, a New York-based independent consultant on corporate taxes, said by phone yesterday.

“It would have a very profound and immediate effect on these companies and would be very effective at reducing the attractiveness of inversions,” Willens said. “This is certainly a political statement.”

Barack Obama punts on immigration until after the election to help vulnerable Senate Democrats

Make no mistake about it. President Barack Obama’s decision to delay an executive order on immigration has nothing to do with Speaker John Boehner’s (R-OH) recent statement that immigration reform could happen next year, with a new Congress and, possibly, a Republican Senate. It has everything to do with the mid-term election and concerns of vulnerable Senate Democrats, who have urged the White House to delay action:

Abandoning his pledge to act by the end of summer, President Barack Obama has decided to delay any executive action on immigration until after the November congressional elections, White House officials said.

The move is certain to infuriate immigration advocates while offering relief to some vulnerable Democrats in tough Senate re-election contests.

Two White House officials said Obama concluded that circumventing Congress through executive actions on immigration during the campaign would politicize the issue and hurt future efforts to pass a broad overhaul.
[…]
The officials said Obama had no specific timeline to act, but that he still would take his executive steps before the end of the year.

The last two paragraphs in the excerpt above are contradictory. President Obama realizes that an executive order would make it difficult to pass immigration reform in his remaining two years. But he still plans to do something before the end of the year, anyway. That doesn’t make any sense.

When America’s interests are threatened, it must act: Non-interventionism is not pacifism, and sometimes you have to hit back

The mainstream media is all atwitter this week about how the new breed of Republican doves is already turning back to their old hawkish ways in the face of new global threats. I’m not sure if this is a not-so-subtle attempt to paint non-interventionism as unsustainable, or if conventional wisdom is just that ignorant about what non-interventionism actually is.

So let’s set the record straight once and for all. Non-interventionism is not pacificism. When American interests are threatened or Americans are killed, non-interventionists are right to demand action, and that doesn’t make them no longer non-interventionists.

Robert Costa and Sebastian Payne at the Washington Post provide good reporting on a faulty premise in their “Rise of Islamic State tests GOP anti-interventionists.” Naturally, Hawk-in-Chief John McCain is using this piece to mock Rand Paul and others via subtweet.

 


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