White House

Lessons from the Auto Bailout Controversy

This past week, the US Senate failed to concur with the House of Representatives in passing a bailout package for the nation’s large domestic automakers. This bailout had the support of the Democratic leadership in Congress as well as the Bush White House. Already, doomsayers are bemoaning this lack of financial infusion from an already depleted federal budget. However, I applaud this decision as a victory for principle over pragmatism. Hoping that conservatives will learn from this effort to continue enlarging government, consider some lessons from the bailout controversy.

The Craziness of the Auto Bailout

Tonight, the U.S. House of Representatives voted 237-170 to use taxpayers funds for a downpayment on a recovery program for the failing auto industry. Alabama’s US Senator Richard Shelby is leading the opposition to the bailout. Shelby declares that the total cost of the bailout will easily exceed $100 billion. The late Samuel Francis often quipped that the United States has two political parties: the Evil Party and the Stupid Party. Occasionally, you see a true bi-partisan effort and you can count on that bi-partisanship involving both evil and stupidity.

Can the GOP Come Back?

Think about it! Four years ago, the Republican Party held the White House and both houses of Congress. Now, the Democrats have won the Presidency by a sizable margin, gained additional seats in the majority Democratic House, and could possibly hold a sixty-vote majority in the Senate—large enough to end any Republican initiated filibuster.

First of all, consider the magnitude of the Republican loss. What support shifted from four years ago?

The Issue of Race and the Presidency

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Race played a unique role in the recent presidential election and will continue to do so in the upcoming Obama administration.  David Remnick of the New Yorker magazine and Mark Whitaker of NBC News discuss race and the presidency on MSNBC.




Palin Going Rogue? About Time.

Palin_rogueCNN is reporting that Palin is ready to “bust free” of the constraints placed upon her by the struggling McCain campaign and all I have to say is, “Thank goodness!”

Democrats have found their scapegoat, and it’s not Barack Obama

Debbie Wasserman Schultz

President Barack Obama’s approval rating is falling faster than Usain Bolt can run. The latest poll from The New York Times and CBS News shows his foreign policy numbers in the tank, dropping to the lowest point of his presidency. His numbers on the economy haven’t really moved much this year, either. Meanwhile, the GOP’s favorability rating — once in the cellar — has almost pulled even with Democrats.

Yet, Democrats seem to be looking for a scapegoat who isn’t named Barack Obama. Sure, many party faithful will concede that this White House is a drag on Democratic House and Senate candidates. And they acknowledge that President Obama’s approval ratings could cost them control of the upper chamber.

But, in politics, everything rolls down hill. And, according to a recent report from Politico, it appears that a scapegoat has been identified in Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL), who has led the Democratic National Committee since May 2011:

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.

Amateur hour at the White House continues: Obama says he has no strategy to deal with ISIS

The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, commonly known as ISIL or ISIS, has been a threat in the Middle East for some time, but you wouldn’t know that from the reaction of President Barack Obama and administration officials.

The Islamic militant group’s bloody and violent rise in Iraq, which came into focus for the United States in June, appeared to catch the White House by complete surprise. Nearly three months later, President Obama has yet to form a coherent strategy to deal with ISIL, something to which he owned up on Thursday afternoon:

“I don’t want to put the cart before the horse, we don’t have a strategy yet,” Obama said in a press conference Thursday of seeking congressional approval for additional airstrikes in the Middle East.

Obama has been under pressure to expand U.S. bombings from Iraq to Syria, but his advisers remain divided about the prospect of military intervention there.

For his part, the president seemed to suggest Thursday that he was less interested in using military action in Syria than Iraq.

“My priority at this point,” Obama said, “is to make sure the gains that [ISIS] made in Iraq are rolled back.”

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.

Back on vacation: Obama leaves Washington to work on his golf game

As expected, President Barack Obama left Washington yesterday afternoon to return to his vacation in Martha’s Vineyard, though the White House won’t say why exactly he came back to the nation’s capital, according to The Hill, except to say that some meetings were involved:

Obama’s two days in Washington were mostly quiet, and concluded with the president receiving his daily national security briefing in the morning, and joining Vice President Biden to huddle with members of his economic team in the afternoon.

Administration officials have insisted for weeks that the president just wanted to return to the White House for a series of meetings, but the explanation was met with a healthy dose of skepticism, since Obama rarely interrupts his vacations.
Speculation for why Obama returned focused around the possibility of a secret foreign leader meeting or the roll out of a new administration initiative on immigration or corporate taxes.

But no such explanation materialized.

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