Barack Obama

Rules for Liberty

Don't Hurt People and Don't Take Their Stuff

Don’t hurt people, and don’t take their stuff. That’s the philosophy of liberty in a nutshell. Everyone should be free to live their lives as they think best, free from meddling by politicians and government bureaucrats.

To me, the values of liberty just seem like a commonsense way to think about political philosophy. The rules are easily understood, our aspirations for government are modest and practical, and our designs on the lives and behavior of other people are unpresumptuous, even humble. The rules are pretty straightforward because they treat everyone just like everyone else: simply; they are blindly applied like Lady Justice would; across the board. No assembly required.

I am not a moral philosopher and I don’t particularly aspire to be one. That said, I have stayed at more than one Holiday Inn Express. That makes me at least smart enough to know what I don’t know. So the rules that follow represent my not-so-humble attempt to boil down and mash up all the best thinking in all of human history on individualism and civil society, the entire canon of Judeo-Christian teachings, the spontaneous evolution of common law, hundreds of years of English Whig, Scottish Enlightenment, and classical liberal political philosophy, lots of Friedrich Hayek, Adam Smith and Ayn Rand, a smattering of karma, and, like any morally relevant updating of a time-tested ethos, at least a few hat tips to The Big Lebowski. All of this in six convenient “Rules for Liberty.”

Supreme Court rejects Obama’s power grab: Justices unanimously invalidate NLRB recess appointments

The White House got a big reality check from the Supreme Court this morning. In a unanimous decision, the High Court invalidated recess appointments President Barack Obama made to the National Labor Relations Board in January 2012 because the Senate was technically in session.

The Constitution, in Article II, Section 2, allows a president to make appointments to fill vacancies when the Senate is not in session. These nominations are reviewed by the Senate when it reconvenes and must be approved by two-thirds of that chamber.

The issue at hand is that the Senate was in pro forma session — meaning that it had not formally adjourned — when President Obama made the appointments. The opinion in National Labor Relations Board v. Noel Canning, written by Justice Stephen Breyer, makes very clear that President Obama exceeded his constitutional authority by trying to sneak in bureaucrats who would rubber-stamp his and big labor’s agenda.

“In our view, however, the pro forma sessions count as sessions, not as periods of recess. We hold that, for pur­poses of the Recess Appointments Clause, the Senate is in session when it says it is, provided that, under its own rules, it retains the capacity to transact Senate business,” Breyer wrote. “The Senate met that standard here.”

“The standard we apply,” he continued, “is consistent with the Constitu­tion’s broad delegation of authority to the Senate to determine how and when to conduct its business.”

House Republicans plan to sue Barack Obama over illegal executive actions

The House of Representatives is getting pretty tired of President Barack Obama going around the Constitution to enact laws through executive and regulatory fiat as well as ignoring laws passed by Congress. Roll Call reports that Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) is preparing a lawsuit against the White House over executive overreach:

The lawsuit could set up a significant test of constitutional checks and balances, with the legislative branch suing the executive branch for ignoring its mandates, and the judiciary branch deciding the outcome.

Boehner told the House Republican Conference during a closed-door meeting Tuesday morning that he has been consulting with legal scholars and plans to unveil his next steps this week or next, according to sources in the room.
[…]
Boehner’s legal theory is based on work by Washington, D.C., attorney David Rivkin of Baker Hostetler LLP and Elizabeth Price Foley, a professor of law at Florida International University College of Law.

Rivkin said in an interview that in addition to proving institutional injury, the House would have to prove that as an institution, it has authorized the lawsuit. A vote by the Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group would do so.

The suit would also have to prove that no other private plaintiff has standing to challenge the particular suspension of executive action and that there are no other opportunities for meaningful political remedies by Congress, for instance by repeal of the underlying law.

The potential remedies the legislative branch has to deal with executive overreach are limited, and not all of them are politically viable.

No, Obamacare didn’t magically make young people healthier

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They were anticipating this like their lives depended on it. Democrats and the media breathlessly reported Wednesday morning that a study found that “young adults” are healthier after the passage of Obamacare:

Starting in 2010, the Affordable Care Act allowed adults under age 26 to remain on their parents’ health plans, the first coverage expansion to take effect under the law.

Previous surveys have indicated that this provision, which remains among the law’s most popular, allowed millions of young adults to get health insurance over the last several years.

The new study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Assn., suggests the coverage expansion also measurably increased the number of young adults who reported that they are in excellent physical and mental health.

Researchers also found a significant drop in how much young people were paying out of pocket for their medical care after the law went into effect.

Great news! Problem solved! Crisis averted! Let’s pass another one! Except under further scrutiny, nearly every claim being extrapolated from this study is wrong.

Here is the actual data collected:

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The survey collected responses from two groups twice: young adults (19-25) and other adults (26-34) each before Obamacare and after. Both groups were asked if they had health insurance, which medical services they used, and to rate their physical and mental health.

More evidence that we must be vigilant: Barack Obama begs cops to stop reminding Americans they’re under constant surveillance

We have all heard of the now infamous technology known as “stingrays,” which law enforcement uses to track cell phones.

The military and local law enforcement agencies have been making use of this technology for years. The devices are used by law enforcement to trick cell phones into giving in details on its identification and location. This process takes place once the tool used by the authorities mimics a cell phone tower. The target then receives electronic signals that transform the phone into a tracking instrument.

Stingrays are reportedly used by law enforcement when officers are not willing to contact the phone companies during an investigation. They ignore a few steps of the operation, ignore any need for warrants, which they have already ruled unnecessary when using stingrays, and focus on obtaining information on a potential suspect by going straight for the target’s phone.

Some of the most recent coverage the use of these technologies has obtained was linked to the special motion filed by the American Civil Liberties Union. ACLU filed the motion in the Florida state court to obtain access to information on why law enforcement was using this technology, but federal authorities were having none of it.

According to Wired, U.S. Marshals grabbed the files before ACLU even had the chance to review any documents.

Whether this technology is widely and consistently used by law enforcement across the country or not, privacy proponents are not ignoring its capacity. Now, however, new revelations seem to indicate the real scope of the matter.

Incompetent and Corrupt: Scandals Pile Up for “No Drama” Obama

Six years into his presidency, Barack “No Drama” Obama has been anything but drama-free. His presidency has been one series of scandals after another, the magnitude of each increasing with each successive revelation. Initially, these scandals centered around partisan bullying, political cronyism, and general corruption, but as his second term unfold, more and more the scandals involve dead Americans.

One of the most fascinating aspects of the scandals surrounding the Obama presidency is that the sheer volume seems to inoculate him from being brought down by any one scandal. No sooner do we start making progress investigating one scandal than another one breaks. It’s like watching a dog chase a ball but suddenly stop and change directions moments before retrieving it when another ball is tossed in the opposite direction.

The current scandal involves Obama’s decision to negotiate with terrorists. In violation of the absolutely clear requirements of the law, the Obama administration revealed last week that it had negotiated the release of Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl, who had been held by Taliban forces for five years. In exchange for Bergdahl, Obama released five senior Taliban fighters who are responsible for the deaths of countless Americans.

The outrage surrounding this exchange is multi-faceted. First, there is the fact that Obama broke long-standing U.S. policy of never negotiating with terrorists. Even were that not the policy, Obama’s negotiating skills were exposed as horrendously deficient considering the Taliban gets five hardened fighters in exchange for one relatively low-level American soldier.

Obama’s ludicrous, anti-consumer cap and trade regulations aren’t actually about the environment

It’s been overshadowed by the continuing coverage of the Bergdahl-Taliban five swap, but reports began to surface this week that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), at the direction of the White House, has begun pushing new carbon rules on existing coal plants that aim to reduce their emissions by 30% from 2005 levels.

Call it cap and trade by regulatory fiat:

Analysts widely expect the final rule to give states the option of joining or creating cap-and-trade programs, which allow companies to trade credits for emissions. The draft released on Monday does not discuss that possibility.

“There are no commercially viable [carbon capture and storage methods]. That’s why we expect cap-and-trade,” said Michael Ferguson, an associate director at S&P who covers merchant energy producers.

At risk of drawing the ire of the climate change true believers, there was a reason the climate change cap and trade legislation failed a few years back, and it wasn’t because evil, bible-thumping conservatives are convinced mankind has no effect on the environment (for the record, we do. But our carbon emissions, for example, are pretty negligible compared to things like decaying organic matter and volcanoes).

No, it was defeated in the Senate because many Democrats that voted against hailed from states that relied on jobs related to the coal industry. And if there’s one thing that moves a politician, it’s the voice of a united constituency.

But not to be deterred, the Obama administration used the EPA and the Clean Air Act to declare carbon emissions a health hazard that must be regulated:

Obama’s economy: 63 percent of Millennials say the American Dream is impossible to achieve

For many immigrants, the American Dream has always meant living on your means and searching for your own happiness in an unrestrained fashion, like Americans always have been able to do.

While many often agree with that definition, they have started letting skepticism and pessimism bias get the best of them.

Can you blame them?

More than 480,000 people under the age of 25 left the workforce in April while Democrats celebrate the drop in the country’s unemployment rates. About 40 percent of college graduates are unable to find work and at least 29 percent of Millennials choose to stay home and live with their parents.

According to a poll carried out by CNN and ORC International, not even American exceptionalism is engaging citizens lately.

The results show that Americans are having a hard time agreeing that the American Dream is a possibility, whether they agree with the definition provided in this article or not.

A shocking 63 percent of Millennials, young adults between the ages of 18 and 34, say that the American Dream has become impossible to achieve.

Some experts believe that the pessimism is the result of the harsh financial reality of many low- and middle-income Americans. Also, according to the poll, nearly two-thirds of Americans believe that the next generation will not grow up to be better off than their parents.

The grim outlook could simply mean that this generation is more realistic about their country’s economic reality, but it could also be a reflection of their ultimate disappointment in this administration.

President Obama made it to the White House with the help of Millennials who were simply tired of having their lives being held hostage by big government policies, but Obama is managing to disappoint everyone.

Democrats only care about dying veterans when their jobs are in danger

Eric Shinseki

**After this story was written news broke that Eric Shinseki officially resigned today as Secretary of Veterans Affairs, and that wait times at VA facilities may be related to employee bonuses. No word yet as to what an official investigation into the matter may look like, but Congress has called for an inquiry.

In yet another entry in the annals of weird and conflicting policy ideas from the Democrat side of the aisle, Veterans Affairs (VA) Secretary Eric Shinseki is taking a beating from left-leaning politicians looking to hang onto their seats on the Hill in the wake of the abhorrent stories of veterans dying and committing suicide while awaiting treatment in VA facilities around the country.

There really is no excuse for what’s been going on because we’re not talking about annoying bureaucratic realities where you don’t get a tax return in a timely fashion. People who served their country were treated as secondary to a system that clearly couldn’t handle the demand.

But hiding that inefficiency came first in the form of secret waiting lists, while treatment of veterans took a back seat. And Shinseki is no doubt responsible for his agency’s negligence. But the calls for his head, as CNN points out, may be more about political savvy than concern for ailing vets.

Thos calls began after a damning VA Inspector General’s report indicating that “1,700 military veterans waiting to see a doctor were never scheduled for an appointment and were never placed on a wait list at the Veterans Affairs medical center in Phoenix.” But, also as CNN points out perhaps a bit more cynically, those on the Hill lighting torches have something in common:

Barack Obama is the middle class’ biggest enemy

Some of the best intentioned among us may think regulations indeed serve a greater purpose, after all, certain companies are only in it to make as much as they can with as little effort as they can! Somebody should certainly make sure they are working under strict rules so this type of predatory behavior can be avoided and consumers can be protected.

Well, that’s everything regulations promise to do and the exact opposite of what they actually achieve.

A recent study carried out by American Action Forum demonstrated that the increase in consumer prices under the Obama administration is directly linked to the surge in the number of regulations it has adopted.

The study shows that since 2009, this administration has imposed at least 36 new regulations that range from new fuel-efficiency standards, which resulted in an increase in the price of automobiles by $91, to the cost of mortgages, which has risen to an abysmal $362 annually.

ObamaCare, this administration failure disguised as health care law, has also increased the prices of health care insurance.


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