Posts Tagged ‘Senate’
March 12th, 2015 at 3:53 pm
Tom Cotton’s Letter Echoes Jesse Helms’ Defense of the Constitution

If the Obama administration thinks U.S. Senator Tom Cotton’s (R-AR) letter is a threat to their negotiations with Iran, they should consider the actions of the late Jesse Helms.

Helms (R-NC) was the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee during the latter part of the Clinton presidency and made no bones about attempts to circumvent Congress so the White House could claim a big foreign policy headline.

In an op-ed published the day Clinton was to engage in talks with Vladimir Putin about reducing missile defense capabilities, Helms declared, “After dragging his feet on missile defense for nearly eight years, Mr. Clinton now fervently hopes that he will be permitted, in his final months in office, to tie the hands of the next President.”

Helms would have none of it. “Well I, for one, have a message for the President: Not on my watch. Let’s be clear, to avoid any misunderstandings: Any modified ABM treaty negotiated by this administration will be dead-on-arrival at the Senate Foreign Relations Committee… The Russian government should not be under any illusions whatsoever that any commitments made by this lame-duck Administration, will be binding on the next administration.”

And with that, the talks dissolved.

In this context, Cotton’s letter is tame by comparison. Which isn’t to say that it lacks verve and importance. Cotton and the forty-six other Senators who educated the Iranian leadership on the limitations of Obama’s go-it-alone strategy are guarding against the misimpression that Obama’s dealmaking lasts any longer than his hold on office.

What Helms and Cotton have in common is a clear-eyed view of constitutional procedure, and the difference it makes when shunted aside. If Obama wants a legacy pact with Iran, he can’t do it on the cheap. Congress – and specifically the Senate – needs to be consulted, the sooner the better.

February 12th, 2015 at 6:36 pm
GOP Senators: Obama Admin Officials “Evading” Whether Backup Plan Exists If Supremes Strike Down Subsidies

Does the Obama administration have a backup plan if the Supreme Court interprets ObamaCare according to its terms and prohibits federal subsidies to Americans in 36 states?

If so, top administrators at Health and Human Services, the Internal Revenue Service and Treasury aren’t sharing.

That lack of transparency – and the havoc it could wreck on millions of mandatory ObamaCare users – angers a group of powerful Senate Republicans.

“I want to make certain that the government has notified people who have signed up through the HHS insurance exchange – including the thousands of Georgians who were forced to enroll after ObamaCare cancelled their health plans – of the potential consequences of the Court ruling against the government, especially given the fact that the cost of the program could be significantly increased,” Senator Johnny Isakson (R-GA) said in a statement.

“The Obama administration needs to be forthcoming about its backup plans so my constituents can make their own backup plans.”

Isakson and other Republicans serving on the Senate Finance Committee sent a strongly worded letter to several government agencies demanding details of any contingency plans. In it they charge HHS Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell, Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew, and IRS Commissioner John Koskinen with “lack of candor” and “evad[ing] the issue when it was raised at hearings before the Committee this week.”

Consider this another unfulfilled promise of “the most transparent administration in history.

February 3rd, 2015 at 7:36 pm
Harry Reid and the Senate Democrats Vote to Shut Down DHS; Time for GOP to Play Hardball

Harry Reid (D-NV) and his Senate Democrats voted to shut down the Department of Homeland Security today.

The piece of legislation they voted down was a Republican bill to fund DHS for the rest of the fiscal year with the caveat that no funds could be spent implementing President Barack Obama’s unilateral immigration amnesty. Currently, the DHS budget is set to expire at the end of February.

The decision probably didn’t involve too much deliberation or anguish since Reid & Co. can count on a sympathetic media to frame the result as Republican obstruction, i.e. not letting Obama and the Democratic Party run roughshod over federal law to curry favor with millions of potential future voters.

If anything Reid and his allies probably think they helped Obama save face by shielding him from having to veto common sense legislation for naked political reasons. Now, Obama can blame Congress for not working, even though it’s the members of his own party that are throwing up roadblocks.

One thing that is clear is that Reid never would have whipped his entire caucus in opposition unless Obama had authorized it. So, call this an indirect veto of Republicans’ immigration funding maneuver and we’re right where we would have been had the bill passed and been rejected.

Obama and Reid play on the same team, so Republicans can’t let the media portray this as anything other than what it is – a high stakes dispute over whether policy gets decided according to the rule of law or the whim of one.

If the president wants to start the negotiating process earlier than expected, so be it. Republicans in Congress shouldn’t use this an excuse to cave.

There had to be a strategy to overcome the veto, at least in the court of public opinion. After today’s vote, it’s time to accelerate the time line.

January 14th, 2015 at 2:16 pm
Freshman Bill Cassidy Off to Fast Start in U.S. Senate

Fresh from beating Democratic incumbent Mary Landrieu in a run-off last December, Republican Bill Cassidy is off to a fast start as a freshman in the U.S. Senate.

Making good on his campaign promise to get rid of ObamaCare, Cassidy, a physician, has introduced two bills within just weeks of taking office.

The “No ObamaCare Mandate Act” would repeal the medical device tax, the employer mandate and the individual mandate, according to a report in The Hill.

In addition, “The Employee Health Care Protection Act” would reduce benefit requirements in health insurance plans regulated by ObamaCare, giving providers more flexibility and consumers more options.

And apparently, Cassidy knows how to give a good speech. In defending the Keystone XL pipeline from ideologically motivated attacks by environmentalists, Cassidy said, “We are not to be guided by our prejudice. We’re not to be guided by what we want to be the case. We are to be guided by the facts.”

Usually, it’s liberals who claim the mantle of science and scold conservatives for being fearful of the truth. It’s good to see a conservative U.S. senator return the favor.

December 19th, 2014 at 10:02 am
Mukasey: CIA Interrogations Followed the Law
Posted by Timothy Lee Print

We explained last week how the Feinstein “Torture Report” constituted governmental malpractice for a variety of reasons, including its failure to interview any of the relevant former CIA directors, deputy directors or officials who had briefed them on the enhanced interrogation techniques, and in its preposterous and counterfactual denial of the interrogations’ fruitfulness.  Largely overlooked in current debate, however, is how too many people carelessly assume that the approved interrogation techniques constituted “torture” or failed to meet the applicable legal standards.

Enter former U.S. Attorney General and District Judge Michael Mukasey.

In a searing must-read commentary this week in The Wall Street Journal, Mukasey explains that the interrogations followed the law:

It is stunning to hear those now criticizing the program issue the solemn reminder that ‘we are a nation of laws’ – while devoting little attention to what was actually in those laws.  Odder still, among the critics those who wrote the laws seem to devote the least attention to them…  Laws are a technical business in which both terminology and chronology play a part.  So if the law that criminalizes torture defines it in a certain way, that definition – and no more – is what it is, punditry and cocktail-party figures of speech notwithstanding.”

Mukasey proceeds to state that the applicable law requires an intent to cause “severe physical mental pain or suffering,” how the techniques used did not violate that rule as determined by courts or the law’s text, how we apply those same techniques to our own troops during military training, how Senator Feinstein herself was briefed on the techniques and how she unsuccessfully attempted to change the law to make those techniques illegal.  If they violated existing law, then she obviously wouldn’t have needed to propose that change.

He then illustrates how, if the interrogation techniques in question constituted “torture,” then it wouldn’t be the case that so many have voluntarily subjected themselves to them in the intervening years:

If she is looking for a ‘common meaning’ of torture, how about something like a procedure to which no rational person would submit voluntarily?  More journalists have tried the experience of being waterboarded than terrorists were subjected to it.  That wouldn’t be the case if, for example, we were talking about needles under fingernails.”

Finally, he wisely notes that while Senator John McCain (R – Arizona) is often lauded as a particular authority on what constitutes “torture” due to his own experience as a prisoner of war, “Others with credentials similar to Sen. McCain’s, including Medal of Honor recipients and fellow Vietnam prisoners of war Leo Thorsness and Bud Day, believe in the efficacy and morality of waterboarding.”  It’s an excellent piece that re-centers the ongoing debate upon the actual legal standards, as opposed to sloppy and easy shorthand employed by people like Senator Feinstein and many in the mainstream media.

September 12th, 2014 at 10:18 am
David Horowitz: Stop Playing Nice Guy, Republicans
Posted by Timothy Lee Print

In our piece this week entitled Senate Democrats and Scorched-Earth Judicial Politics , we note the way in which Senate Democrats habitually play hardball, whereas Republicans tend to play Nerf.  Disturbingly, the Democrats’ methods paid off just days ago:

Just days ago, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, which Reid and Obama had packed after ending the Senate filibuster, voted to rehear en banc the Halbig v. Burwell decision from earlier this year…  The full court’s unjustified decision to rehear the case en banc not only unnecessarily obstructs and delays Supreme Court resolution, it appears to be a transparently politicized decision to rescue ObamaCare.  On that note, Harry Reid openly congratulated himself when asked whether his Senate tactics underlie this turn of events by saying, ‘If you look at simple math, it sure does.’”

Famed conservative author David Horowitz agrees in an excellent Washington Times piece today entitled “Why Nice Guys Finish Last in Politics:  Politics is War, but Some GOPers Just Don’t Get It.” His observations are worth quoting at length:

Going into the 2016 election, you can count on Republicans to stay ‘positive,’ to emphasize policy, and above all, not to hit the Democrats where it hurts.  You can also count on Democrats to do just the opposite.  Because they always do…

Democrats have a massive punch in the mouth for Republicans, and it’s always the same punch.  Republicans are painted as racists, sexists, homophobes, anti-poor, selfish and uncaring.  Note that this is a moral indictment.  It defames the character of Republicans like the corporate predator and dog-abuser Mitt Romney.  The only answer to an attack like this is to attack Democrats with an equally potent indictment of their moral character…

How difficult is it to understand this:  If you are perceived by voters as racist or even just selfish and uncaring, they are not going to have the same interest in your policy advice, as Mitt Romney found out in 2012.  Here is what Republicans need to understand to win:  Politics is street war, and there are no referees to maintain the rules – and the ones that infrequently pop up (such as CNN’s Candy Crowley during one of the last presidential debates) are there to bury you.  Attack your opponents before they attack you.  Attack them with a moral indictment;  if well-executed, it will win the day.

And remember that even if you fail to do this to them, they will certainly do it to you.  You can count on that.”

Americans can determine for themselves whether Horowitz’s advice is wise.  But they must also acknowledge that Republican presidential campaigns in recent decades have been more notable for their moderation than their tenacity, whereas the opposite is true of Democratic campaigns.  And which party has won five of the past six popular presidential votes, after the landslide Reagan and Bush victories of the 1980s?

September 1st, 2014 at 6:54 pm
Marco Rubio Evolving on Immigration

If at first you don’t succeed, pivot to the next best alternative.

That seems to be the strategy used by U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) as he positions himself for a potential White House run in 2016.

Rubio, once the darling of conservatives and a top GOP presidential contender, quickly fell out of favor with the grassroots when he supported a version of comprehensive immigration reform championed by the Obama administration and some of the most liberal members of Congress.

After the Senate’s “Gang of Eight” bill was pronounced dead-on-arrival in the House of Representatives, Rubio has since modified his position on how to pursue immigration reform. Unsurprisingly, it now aligns with what conservatives have said all along: secure the border first, build trust in the federal government’s commitment to the rule of law and national sovereignty, and only then discuss how to integrate illegal immigrants into American society.

Last week, Rubio sent a letter to President Barack Obama warning against a unilateral executive action that would grant some kind of legal status to as many as 5 million illegal immigrants. In Rubio’s words, such an act “will increase the perception of ambiguity in our laws, incentivize more people to immigrate here illegally, and significantly set back the prospects of real reform.”

It’s too early to tell whether Rubio’s repositioning will be enough to convince conservatives that he’s changed his principles instead of just his tactics. Until he can give a convincing explanation of why next time will be different, skepticism about his true beliefs will remain.

August 25th, 2014 at 7:06 pm
Pro-Amnesty Congressman: ‘Get Ready’ for Obama Executive Order

One of Congress’ biggest amnesty boosters is telling allies to “get ready” for a presidential announcement that could shield as many as 5 million illegal immigrants from deportation.

Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-IL), an amnesty supporter who called on fellow Hispanics to “sign up to vote and punish those who speak ill and criminalize children who come to our border,” expects to hear very soon that President Barack Obama will issue an executive order to effectively legalize half of the United States’ illegal immigrant population.

“It’s music to my ears that someone would have a source at the White House that say it’s 5 million,” Gutierrez said on MSNBC today. “Let me just say, tomorrow, the next day, and all of this week we’re getting ready.”

By “getting ready,” Gutierrez means preparing to process 5 million quasi-legal residents into semi-permanent status. The problem is, Gutierrez has no idea what those structures will look like – or how they’ll be funded – because Congress has refused to pass any type of immigration reform that includes amnesty or anything like it.

Perhaps President Obama will opt for the complex “Registered Provisional Immigrant” status outlined in the Senate Gang of Eight bill that died in the House of Representatives. After all, Gutierrez and other amnesty supporters have “urged Obama to legalize all of the illegal immigrants that would have qualified under the Senate’s amnesty bill,” reports Breitbart News. If Obama can achieve the same policy goal as Congress, why can’t he do it using the same policy means?

Besides, just because the legislative branch won’t pass a law doesn’t prohibit the executive from doing whatever he wants, right?

Today, Gutierrez may be gleeful at the prospect of Obama violating the Constitution to benefit his pet issue, but he should remember: Once you brush aside the separation-of-powers, there’s no check on tyranny. Tomorrow, you lose.

August 4th, 2014 at 2:21 pm
Obama’s CIA Caught Spying on Congress

Obama’s CIA Director was caught lying to Congress about spying on a Senate investigative committee, and so far it looks like his only punishment will be an apology tour.

In March, CIA Director John Brennan took issue with a line of questioning by U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) alleging that the agency had hacked into a computer system used by Senate investigators. “Nothing could be further from the truth. I mean, we wouldn’t do that,” he said.

His cover blown, Brennan is facing bipartisan calls for his resignation. Despite his earlier claim, the embattled director is hoping his apology will quiet the critics and spare him the same fate as David Petraeus, his predecessor who was hounded from office by revelations of an extra-marital affair.

I’m no fan of firing people to make a point, but one does wonder what Congress could and should do now that the CIA – an executive branch agency – has been shown to be spying on a portion of the legislative branch.

Glenn Harlan Reynolds provides some answers.

“Congress can, of course, charge Brennan with contempt of Congress, or refer him for prosecution under the False Statements Act. But in both cases, the decision to prosecute would be made by Attorney General Eric Holder, who seems to see his role not as administering justice, but as running interference for the Obama administration and protecting its officials from consequences.”

Perhaps better, then, to make the agency as a whole feel the brunt of punishment for acting badly. “Probably the best that Congress can do is to punish the entire CIA by using its budgetary power to make employees’ lives worse: Cutting back on bonuses, raises, conferences, and other perks.”

None of these answers are completely satisfying. Punishing everyone for the misdeeds of a few can be precisely as unjust as the initial bad act. The truth is we want and need competent, honest public servants whose tenure in office won’t trigger massive expenditures of time and money cleaning up their messes. Until the man in the Oval Office sets a better example for following the rule of law, we’ll likely continue to see his subordinates faithlessly executing their duties.

May 14th, 2014 at 12:56 pm
Add Sasse to the Senate’s Tea Party

The U.S. Senate’s Tea Party caucus will soon get a lot of Sasse.

Ben Sasse, that is.

Last night the 42 year old president of Midland University won the Nebraska GOP’s U.S. Senate primary election with 48 percent of the vote in a four-way race.

In deep-red Nebraska, Sasse is expected to win the November general election easily, and take his persona as a conservative health policy wonk with him.

Running hard against ObamaCare, Sasse convinced Republican primary voters that his background in health policy (Assistant Secretary at HHS under George W. Bush), his stint as a top flight business consultant for McKinsey and his turnaround success at Midland qualify him to work alongside the likes of other conservative reformers like Mike Lee of Utah, Ted Cruz of Texas, Marco Rubio of Florida and Rand Paul of Kentucky.

And like most of these, Sasse has ruffled some establishment feathers along the way. He angered Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky by accepting the endorsement and financial support of the Senate Conservatives Fund – a political action group that is helping McConnell’s primary opponent.

Winning changes everything though. Yesterday as it became apparent Sasse would win, he pledged to support McConnell as Leader, and McConnell’s camp reciprocated with some mostly nice words of encouragement.

If both Sasse and McConnell make it to the Senate in 2015, expect them to work well together.

For those unfamiliar with Sasse, a profile some months ago in the Weekly Standard provides excellent background reading.

Even if Sasse wins and retains Nebraska’s seat for the GOP, Republicans still need to capture 6 Democrat-held seats to win control of the U.S. Senate.

If that happens, expect Sasse to be the most visible and vocal freshman since, well, his soon-to-be Senate Tea Party colleagues.

January 13th, 2014 at 5:53 pm
Supreme Court Hears Arguments in Constitutionally Suspect Recess Appointments Case

Two years ago President Barack Obama decided to appoint three new members to the National Labor Relations Board, even though none of them could clear the U.S. Senate.

Blocked from getting what he wanted, President Obama installed the nominees anyway, arguing that the Senate was on recess; a move allowed under the U.S. Constitution’s Recess Appointments Clause.

There was just one little problem. The Senate had not recessed.

Republicans in the chamber anticipated Obama’s move and negotiated an agreement with majority Democrats to keep the Senate open every three days during the Christmas and New Year’s break in order to conduct business. Thus, as far as the Senate’s own records are concerned, the body never went on recess. By refusing to give its consent, the chamber, in effect, told Obama to nominate three new people.

He declined.

The fight now is before the Supreme Court, which today heard oral arguments from the Obama administration and counsel representing 45 members of the Senate Republican caucus, among others.

While there are a host of arcane and at times interesting constitutional questions to consider this particular case boils down to whether the Court thinks the President or the Senate has the final say as to when the Senate is in session.

The answer should seem obvious, but don’t underestimate the Court’s ability to choose wrongly.

Victory for President Obama in this suit would be a body blow to the Constitution. The Senate’s ‘advise and consent’ role is designed to ensure that only those qualified for high governmental service actually serve in such posts. Yes, the confirmation process is political, but that’s the name of the game when one is a political appointee. Sometimes you lose.

Once again, we have an instance where President Obama, unwilling to compromise, is trying to impose his will by fiat, constitutional processes be damned.

The Court’s ruling is expected in late June. For the good of the republic, it should find a way to rein in an out-of-control executive.

November 19th, 2013 at 6:20 pm
Of Obama’s 27 Senate Dem Accomplices, 3 Might Lose Their Seats in 2014

Byron York has a potential sneak peak at some of the most devastating political ads in the upcoming 2014 election.

It’s a list of Democratic U.S. Senators parroting President Barack Obama’s promise that “if you like your insurance plan, you can keep it.”

The list comes with names, dates and the exact phrasing from 27 current Democratic Senators, courtesy of Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY).

Among those profiled, three are in tight reelection fights ahead of 2014: Mark Begich (Alaska), Mary Landrieu (Louisiana) and Kay Hagan (North Carolina).

If you live in one of these states, expect to see and hear the following statement as the campaign season heats up:

SEN. MARK BEGICH (D-Alaska): “If you got a doctor now, you got a medical professional you want, you get to keep that. If you have an insurance program or a health care policy you want of ideas, make sure you keep it. That you can keep who you want.” (Sen. Begich, Townhall Event, 7/27/09)

SEN. MARY LANDRIEU (D-La.): “If you like the insurance that you have, you’ll be able to keep it.” (MSNBC’s Hardball, 12/16/09)

SEN. KAY HAGAN (D-N.C.): ‘People who have insurance they’re happy with can keep it’ “We need to support the private insurance industry so that people who have insurance they’re happy with can keep it while also providing a backstop option for people without access to affordable coverage.” (“Republicans Vent As Other Compromise Plans Get Aired,” National Journal’s Congress Daily, 6/18/09)

November 13th, 2013 at 6:05 pm
Boehner Nixes Immigration Deal on Senate Gang’s Bill

House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) is pulling the plug on the Senate Gang of Eight’s immigration bill.

“We’ve made it clear that we’re going to move on a common sense, step-by-step approach in terms of how we deal with immigration,” said Boehner, according to the Washington Times. “The idea that we’re going to take up a 1,300-page bill that no one had ever read, which is what the Senate did, is not going to happen in the House. And frankly, I’ll make clear we had no intention of ever going to conference on the Senate bill.”

That last line about having “no intention of ever going to conference on the Senate bill” might come as a surprise to those who remember the viability of that option prior to freshman Rep. Tom Cotton (R-AR) unleashing a public and private remonstrance against it.

I’m sure there were a lot of factors that went into Boehner’s decision to put the kibosh on the Senate’s version of immigration; not least of which is politics. Immigration reform splits the GOP to the advantage of Democrats. Focusing on all of Obamacare’s failures unites Republicans ahead of the critical 2014 midterm elections.

Whatever the weight given to individual factors, it’s good to see House Republicans opting for unity over division. On both issues, the conservative perspective wins.

October 16th, 2013 at 4:11 pm
If I Were in the House of Reps…..

I would vote “no” on the Senate deal. I would insist that without a delay of at least six months in the ObamaCare individual mandate, I would not vote for it. In the end, it is the president who must make sure that the nation doesn’t go into default. He can only do so by meeting halfway with the House that holds the power of the purse. The failed ObamaCare rollout has proved that it makes no sense to require somebody to enroll in something they literally cannot enroll in, because the government isn’t ready to have them enroll. No, no, no.

September 23rd, 2013 at 5:31 pm
Senate Immigration Bill to Help Illegals Convicted of Other Crimes

Here’s the immigration reform version of “we have to pass the bill so you can find out what is in it.”

Speaking to attendees at the Congressional Black Caucus’s annual conference, Esther Olavarria, the White House’s director of immigration reform, highlighted some provisions of the Senate’s bill that she would like the public to ignore.

Making it easier for illegal immigrants convicted of crimes to stay in the country got special attention.

In Olavarria’s telling, the Senate bill reverses a 1996 law that says any criminal conviction can serve as the basis for deportation. The new language would exempt convictions followed by a suspended sentence, meaning that deportation would not be an option if the offender gets probation instead of jail time.

Bear in mind, the conviction referred to is for a crime separate from illegally entering the country.

Thus, if passed, the Senate bill would not only excuse the foundational illegality of unlawfully entering the country, it would further protect from prosecution those who have been convicted, but not yet served jail time.

But if you haven’t heard about this controversial change in law, Olavarria explains why.

“We haven’t played [them] up because we want to be able to maintain them as we go through the legislative process,” she told the conference attendees. “The bill has a number of other important provisions that have stayed under the radar, and we’d actually like to keep them under the radar.”

That’s because the White House knows it can’t win an open and honest debate about granting illegal immigrants not one, but (at least) two free passes when it comes to breaking the law.

This subterfuge is yet another reason to scrap the Senate’s bill and start over.

H/T: The Daily Caller

September 4th, 2013 at 6:16 pm
Senate Lying to Self with ‘Tailored’ Syria Resolution

A highly regarded separation of powers expert says the Senate Foreign Relations Committee’s oddly worded resolution to authorize military force in Syria might be more expansive than its drafters intend, according to the Washington Times.

At issue is the resolution’s use of the words “limited and tailored” in the phrase giving President Barack Obama power “to use the armed forces of the United States as he determines to be necessary and appropriate in a limited and tailored manner against legitimate military targets in Syria…”

Louis Fisher, a former long-time expert at the Congressional Research Service and author of a leading treatise on presidential war powers, says the word choice is unprecedented and could be so vague that it creates space for an escalation.

“What could possibly be the meaning of ‘limited and tailored’? I doubt if I’ve ever seen the word ‘tailored’ in a bill,” Fisher told the paper. “Even if the ‘intent’ of Congress is a limited war, war has its own momentum.”

In other words, use of the word ‘tailored’ in the resolution can mean anything to the clever lawyers who will twist it however they please, so in reality that word, and any limiting effect it is designed to have, is meaningless.

It is impossible for me to imagine that the people drafting this resolution don’t know this. Therefore, it seems almost certain that the underlying intent here is to sound like they are limiting the President’s options while in fact not doing so at all.

If we’re going to bomb Syria then we are going to war with Syria. If that’s in America’s national security interest, Congress should declare it in unambiguous language.

To my mind it’s better to do nothing than to say something that means nothing.

Otherwise, Congress is just lying to itself so that it can act outraged when the President uses the resolution to wage a war the Senate and House impliedly authorized.

July 22nd, 2013 at 5:30 pm
Elizabeth Warren Errs Again with ‘Stand Your Ground’ Comment

If you wanted to know what a U.S. Senator from Massachusetts thinks about a Florida murder trial, the Huffington Post has you covered.

Speaking to the press in South Boston today, Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) said that while she thinks people should accept George Zimmerman’s acquittal in Trayvon Martin’s shooting death, it is reasonable to criticize ‘Stand Your Ground’ laws.

Except that it’s completely unreasonable in Zimmerman’s case. As I pointed out in my column last week, Florida’s ‘Stand Your Ground’ law played absolutely no part in the trial for either the prosecution or the defense. Instead, Zimmerman argued that once Martin started beating him he was entitled to use deadly force to defend himself. Zimmerman relied on traditional self-defense, not ‘Stand Your Ground’ – a law which drops the requirement that a person reasonably fearing death or great bodily injury must first try to escape before engaging his attacker.

This isn’t the first time Senator Warren has played fast and loose with the facts. For decades she (at best) made misleading assertions about her alleged Native American ancestry, allowing her to get plumb academic jobs at Penn and Harvard Law ahead of other more qualified candidates. Earlier this year, Warren claimed that her brother lived solely on his Social Security checks – a claim she walked back after admitting that she and her millionaire husband give him assistance.

And so on with today’s politicization of Florida’s ‘Stand Your Ground’ law.

Warren, like other liberal elites, is turning a tragedy into an activist agenda to repeal a law that played no part in Martin’s death. It would be comical if it didn’t betray a serious disregard for reality. Warren and friends need to stop directing anger at the wrong source, and start acting with the competence and prudence their high offices demand.

July 19th, 2013 at 5:49 pm
Senate Dem Using ‘Stand Your Ground’ Hearings to Target ALEC, NRA

In the days since a Florida jury acquitted George Zimmerman of the shooting death of Trayvon Martin, liberal politicians and pundits have tried to argue that without the state’s ‘Stand Your Ground’ law providing a defense, Zimmerman would be guilty.

The problem with this argument is that Zimmerman’s lawyers never invoked ‘Stand Your Ground’ as a defense in the trial. ‘Stand Your Ground’ was irrelevant to the verdict.

But that hasn’t stopped liberals like Attorney General Eric Holder from using the mere existence of ‘Stand Your Ground’ laws as a pretext for unmerited lawsuits. In a speech to the NAACP this week, Holder encouraged members of the NAACP to agitate for the repeal of such laws in the 30+ states where they exist.

Now, Congress is upping the ante.

Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) is promising to hold congressional hearings about the effects of ‘Stand Your Ground’ laws, including such topics as “when racial profiling and ‘stand your ground’ laws mix,” according to a press release.

Amid all the racially charged theater, Durbin also announced what has to be his real motive behind the hearings – scrutinizing the roles that the NRA and ALEC played in promoting ‘Stand Your Ground’ legislation.

Durbin has no right to subject either organization to an investigative fishing expedition designed to criticize private groups for exercising their First Amendment rights. If Durbin follows through with his threat, someone in the Senate GOP needs to throw some brush-back pitches in Dick’s direction. After the politician-inspired IRS scandal, it’s time for liberals to be held accountable for their wild-eyed accusations.

July 18th, 2013 at 12:55 pm
On Immigration, Rubio Seems to Lack Conviction

Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) is surprisingly mum about whether House Republicans should pass, amend or kill his signature legislative achievement this year: Comprehensive immigration reform that legalizes up to 11 million illegal immigrants before securing the border.

According to an interview with Politico, Rubio said the House GOP deserves “the time and space… to come up with their ideas about how to reform immigration – and I hope they will – but that’s up to them.” But while Rubio obviously wants to create some distance between himself and a bill that his conservative base hates, now is precisely the time to put his influence to work if he really believes that his immigration reform is the right thing to do.

As Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC), a co-author with Rubio on the bill says, “If he’s got some influence in the House, now is a good time to use it.”

That Rubio is refusing to gives the strong impression that much of his support for the Senate’s version of immigration reform is more about politics than policy. Now that his 2016 presidential aspirations look endangered because of his stance on immigration, the rising conservative is looking to bolster his image by talking about fiscal responsibility and social issues.

But the problem remains that his performance on immigration – for the bill when it seems to help him, against or at least ambivalent toward it when it hurts – indicates his most important criteria is whether a particular stance propels him closer to the White House.

That’s a fine way to operate if one is a paid consultant looking for any advantage to climb the ladder, but it’s the exact opposite of what people expect from a statesman. Rubio helped pass and craft the Senate’s immigration bill, so he either needs to defend it to the death or disown it for principled reasons. Enough calculating. Make a decision and own it.

June 28th, 2013 at 2:04 pm
Passed in Senate, Gang’s Immigration Reform Will Die in the House

After the bipartisan back-slapping subsides, the Senators who passed the Gang of Eight’s immigration reform bill yesterday know one thing for sure – the House Republicans will ignore it.

In place of the ‘comprehensive’ scheme favored by the Senate, the House GOP is already making progress in passing piecemeal legislation that tackles specific immigration issues.

And, unlike the backroom deals used by the Senate Gang and its supporters, the House process is using an open and transparent committee process, reports National Review.

Last week, [House Immigration Committee Chairman Bob] Goodlatte approved two bills out of committee, an interior enforcement bill and an agricultural guest-worker program. This week, he is moving one bill to expand E-Verify nationwide and to reform the high-skill-visa system.

Breaking up a big issue like immigration reform into its constituent parts is the clearest and best way to solve problems. Focusing on specific policies and programs allows Members of Congress – and, just as importantly, the American public – to get their head around the main goal and the means to achieve it.

Kudos to the House GOP for treating the American people, and immigration reform, with the attention and respect they deserve.