Speaker’s Boehner’s meaningless, craven lawsuit

June 25, 2014
"Timid"

“Timid”

Pathetic. Speaker John Boehner announced plans for the House to sue President Obama in court to force him to do his job and enforce the laws. Without being specific about the grounds of the suit, one can safely assume it covers Obama’s non-enforcement of immigration laws along the southwest border and, perhaps, the administration’s unilateral rewrites and illegal waivers of the Affordable Care Act and it’s serial failure to cooperate in the IRS investigations.

Speaking to the press, Boehner added the following:

Boehner strongly brushed aside a question of whether impeachment proceedings could result from the suit. “This is not about impeachment. This is about his (Obama’s) faithfully executing the laws of our country,” he said.

Pardon me a moment; I was rolling my eyes so hard on reading that, I was getting dizzy.

Mr. Speaker, on taking office, every president swears the following oath:

“I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”

The President is Chief Magistrate of the United States, its top federal law-enforcer. “Faithfully execute” means doing that job. If you are suing because the president has broken his oath by not faithfully executing the duties of his office, then you have perforce invoked grounds for impeachment by reason of maladministration.

You’ve said it, so don’t go denying in the next breath what we all know it means. Leave being a weasel to the Democrats.

More:

He also rejected a suggestion that the suit was designed to give traditional Republican voters a reason for going to the polls this fall when control of Congress will be at stake.

“This is about defending the institution in which we serve,” he said. “What we’ve seen clearly over the last five years is an effort to erode the power of the legislative branch.”

Argh. The Congress has been surrendering legislative power to the Executive, more under Democrats, less so under Republicans, since the Progressive era. More and more regulatory authority has been given to panels of bureaucrats in the guise of “rule making,” when really it amounts to the power to make law. It’s more accurate to say this process has greatly expanded under Obama, who pushes the bounds like no president has since FDR (or maybe Nixon), but let’s not pretend this hasn’t been going on for a long time. If the Congress were truly interested in “defending its prerogatives,” as Madison intended, it has had plenty of opportunities, but has done so only fitfully.

You want to “defend the institution” in which you serve? Then forget the ridiculous lawsuit (and Senator Paul’s and Senator Johnson’s); you don’t resolve political power struggles between the legislature and the presidency by running crying to the courts (1). You have two powers: cutting off funds and impeachment. The former seems to be ineffective, but you have the latter. As I wrote yesterday:

I’d suggest forming another [House Select Investigating Committee] for the IRS scandal and one for Fast and Furious, both with full subpoena powers and special counsel hired to lead the inquiries. They all should work through the summer and, when done, present their findings to the full House. Forget the Department of Justice; it can’t be trusted with Eric Holder in charge. Instead, the House should impeach whomever is found culpable by the investigations.

While impeaching the President himself isn’t politically practical (yet), his political appointees bear the same responsibility as he: faithful execution of the laws and obedience to the Constitution. If committee investigations find any derelict in their duties, such as top management at the IRS, impeach them, place them on trial before the Senate, and make Harry Reid defend their abuses of power. Fence Obama in by taking away his minions.

That’s how you defend the institution, Mr. Speaker. If you really want to.

Footnote:
(1) For one thing, the courts rely on the Executive to enforce their orders. If you can’t trust Obama to enforce the laws…

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


(Video) #Benghazi Rep. Gowdy asks some darned fine questions

May 8, 2014

 

"Star rising?"

“Star rising?”

It was recently announced that Congressman Trey Gowdy (R -SC), a former state and federal prosecutor, would  be heading up the forthcoming House Select Committee on the Benghazi massacre. Quite a few of us have been cheering his selection, because, since the massacre, he has shown himself to be a master of the issues at stake and a dogged questioner, unlike most of the so-called press.

And speaking of the press, and courtesy of my blog-buddy ST and Kat McKinley, here’s video of Rep. Gowdy posing some questions to the press. Consider this an appetizer for the main course to come:

Let’s hope, for the sake of an honest media, that at least some in the audience were red-faced at receiving this needed lesson.

Bring on the hearings. smiley popcorn


#Benghazi: Boehner to appoint special investigating committee? UPDATE: Here we go

May 2, 2014
American Blood, US Consulate, Benghazi

American Blood, U.S. Consulate, Benghazi

At last. Just posted on Fox News:

House Speaker John Boehner is “seriously considering” appointing a special committee to probe the Benghazi attacks and an announcement from GOP leaders could come as early as Friday, sources tell Fox News.

One senior GOP source told Fox News that Boehner, who has faced pressured from rank-and-file members for months to form such a panel, is expected to go forward with the committee.

It’s unclear whether the decision is yet final. Some sources told Fox News this is a “done deal,” while others said it is “close.”

The movement comes after newly released emails raised questions about the White House role in pushing faulty claims about the attacks.

For more about the emails in question and their significance, see….

This is one of those “about danged time” moments. What was probably the back-breaker for Boehner was the revelation that the White House had withheld this email when first demanded by the House, then released it only as part of a judicial decision in a FOIA lawsuit regarding Benghazi, and then claiming it really had nothing to do with Benghazi, even though it clearly did. (And why release it as part of the documents demanded in a Benghazi lawsuit, if it had “nothing to do with Benghazi, per se” and was previously classified? And why was it classified?) This just screams “something to hide.” which is like blood in the water to Opposition politicians.

Keep in mind there are really three parts, interrelated but distinct, to the “Benghazi question:”

  1. Prior to the attack: What was the role of then-Secretary Clinton, her top aides, and the State Department in determining the level of security in Benghazi, and why wasn’t the level or protection raised, or the compound evacuated, in the face of clear warning signs? Why were no emergency-reaction assets pre-positioned nearby to come to the aid of a station in a clearly dangerous area? Defense and the White House, too, have questions to answer here.
  2. During the attack: Where exactly were President Obama and Secretary Clinton, and when? Who was calling the shots? What actions, if any, did they take that night? Who made the decision not to even attempt a rescue with assets available in Sicily and Italy? (This last question was examined by the House Armed Services committee, which found no wrongdoing, but the testimony yesterday of General Robert Lovell (ret.), Deputy Director for Intelligence for Africom, the combat command responsible for Benghazi, makes it worth reopening.)
  3. After the attack: Who came up with the largely fraudulent story about a video? Why was it pushed on the American people for weeks after the massacre, including Secretary Clinton lying to the faces of the victims’ families? Why were the reports from State Department and CIA personnel on the ground in Libya that there was no anti-video demonstration ignored? My strong suspicion is that this was done to protect Obama’s reelection and Hillary’s 2016 prospects, but we need to know a lot more.

Clearly this committee would have a lot of work to do, much of it taking a lot of time. (Remember how long the Watergate hearings took?) Even if nothing criminal occurred, the American public has a right to a full public audit of the decisions and actions of its hired help before, during, and after the crisis.

Having raised the possibility, I can’t see Boehner not going through with this, which means we can expect some televised fireworks as witnesses are called under oath and House Democrats try desperately to protect the White House.

Stock up on the popcorn. smiley popcorn

 

RELATED: Earlier posts on the Benghazi massacre.

UPDATE: It’s on. Boehner will form the committee and Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC) (1) is expected to lead it. Meanwhile, Issa’s House Oversight Committee has subpoenaed Secretary Kerry regarding the State Department withholding documents.

Footnote:
(1) Good choice.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


In praise of Boehner and McConnell?

February 16, 2014
Not RINOs?

Not RINOs?

It’s been common among my colleagues on the Right to deride House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell as “RINOs,”  or “Republicans In Name Only.’ Weak, cowardly leaders who are practically supine before the Democrats, even after taking back the House in the Tea party wave of 2010. And the complaints are understandable: conservatives won a big election then and, since the House represents the people directly, arguably represent a majority of the nation. So why is the debt still going up, why is spending still increasing, and why (among other things) are we still stuck with the albatross of Obamacare? When are we ever going to fight? Throwing up our hands in the air in exasperation, we decide it’s the Washington Republican Establishment that doesn’t want really want reform and we focus our ire on Boehner and McConnell, even hitting the latter with a primary challenger.

“Not so hasty!”, as Tolkien’s Treebeard might say.

At National Review, Charles Cooke (no squish, himself) argues that tactics matter, that passing the continuing resolution last fall and the recent debt-ceiling increase were both wise, and that Boehner and McConnell are playing  a smart long game:

“I’d be willing to risk losing the Senate if we could keep America,” Mitch McConnell’s primary challenger, Matt Bevin, told Glenn Beck this morning. What an astonishingly incoherent and misguided sentence that is. “For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?” asks the King James Bible. A fair question, yes, but politics is a different game altogether, and, in this case, the alternative isn’t an otherworldly victory or spiritual advancement but simply more loss. The question for Bevin must be “for what shall it profit a man if he shall lose another debt-ceiling fight and lose his party’s shot at the Senate as well?” And the answer is “not at all.” If this is what we are to expect from the revolution — a host of nihilistic, suicidal, performance artists who would rather be outside of the control room screaming than inside and in charge — then give me the cynical calculations of a Mitch McConnell any day of the week.

“Any time, you and I question the schemes of the do-gooders,” Ronald Reagan complained in 1964, “we’re denounced as being opposed to their humanitarian goals. It seems impossible to legitimately debate their solutions with the assumption that all of us share the desire to help the less fortunate. They tell us we’re always ‘against,’ never ‘for’ anything.” Could this sentiment not be applied currently to some slices of the Right? After all, pretty much every single Republican agrees on the question of Obamacare. Pretty much every single Republican agrees on taxes and spending and the size of government. Pretty much every single Republican agrees on the debt. They disagree, however, on tactics. And tactics matter. Make no mistake: For all the bluster, the Democratic party and the wider progressive movement is absolutely terrified of Obamacare, which has been a liability for almost five years now, and which is not going away. As I noted yesterday, the majority of the elections this year are going to yield fights between a candidate who wants to repeal the law completely and a candidate who is critical of it in at least one way. There is nothing that the president would like more at this moment than to play last October over again — to paint the GOP as an extreme, risk-taking, rump party holding the country hostage. McConnell and Boehner were right to recognize that handing him that opportunity this year would have been a disaster.

I largely agree, though I believe the “Establishment” could have been more aggressive in the recent debt-ceiling argument by, for example, demanding that insurance companies not get a guaranteed bailout in the event they lose money over Obamacare. That would at least have forced the Democrats to go on record as being in favor of giving public money to one of the most hated industries in the nation.

But, overall, I think Cooke is right. It’s not a cop-out to say we only control one-half of one branch of the government; it’s simply an acknowledgement of reality and that, therefore, our options are limited. While it’s satisfying to give in to the urge to fight-fight-fight at every instance, it profits neither conservatism, the Republican Party, or the nation –to which our ultimate responsibility lies– to fight battles we’re sure to lose, such as the “defund Obamacare” effort of last fall. The will to fight is important, but knowing when to strike is equally so, if the goal is to win.

Politics is an art that requires patience, a willingness to move in increments, rather than having it all now. It’s an art the Left practiced to take over the Democratic Party after the 1960s, and it’s served them well. Populist, Tea Party conservatives have done less well at it, perhaps because of a powerful “Jacksonian” strain in our political DNA — we’re “hasty,” in other words, and we mustn’t in our impatience let the Democrats off the hook they’ve caught themselves on before November’s elections.

If so, then perhaps Cooke is right, and we should praise McConnell and Boehner, rather than throw rotten tomatoes at them.

You may call me RINO, now.

Addendum: To answer the almost-inevitable “Well, Fahrquar, when are we gonna fight? It’ll be more of the same shite after we take over the Senate!”, well, that’s nihilism and I’m not a nihilist. Yes, it’s possible the Beltway Establishment would rather accommodate itself to the expanded progressive “new normal,” but, for now, I’m willing to give them some leash and work like the dickens to give the Republicans the Senate — while electing the most conservative candidates possible, at the same time. Then we test them. With both chambers, they’ll have no excuse for not passing reform budgets, repealing and replacing Obamacare, and fixing entitlements. Place the onus on Obama, let him threaten vetoes: momentum will be on our side and, in the required compromises, we’ll have a much better chance of winning the incremental game.

And if the leadership balks, then we break out the pitchforks and torches.


Ding-dong, Waxman’s gone!

January 30, 2014
Henry Waxman, D-Statist

Henry Waxman, D-Statist

Oh, this is a moment I’ve long looked forward to. Henry Waxman (D-CA), one of the most obnoxious progressives in the House and co-author of the economy-killing, state-growing Waxman-Markey climate bill, has decided to retire:

Rep. Henry A. Waxman, whose legislative record has made him one of the country’s most influential liberal lawmakers for four decades, announced Thursday that he will retire from his Westside seat, the latest in a wave of departures that is remaking the state’s long-stable congressional delegation.

Waxman-Markey failed, thank God, but the LAT article reminds us of another of Henry’s gifts to America:

Among his legislative victories was the 2010 Affordable Care Act, which he helped write and push through the House. Passage of the law fulfilled “one of my lifelong dreams” by guaranteeing access to healthcare coverage for Americans, he said.

Translated: “I’ve done all the damage I can do, so, since there is no chance Democrats will retake the House and we’ll likely lose the Senate, I might as well retire to enjoy my pension and become a lobbyist.”

Henry Waxman was Leviathan personified, a statist who tried his hardest to insert the federal government into every aspect of our lives. He is also a vile partisan who, I’m sure, regrets he couldn’t institute one-party rule.

His district here in Los Angeles is solidly Democratic, so there is no hope of a Republican pick up, but almost anyone the Democrats run will at least be no worse.

Goodbye and good riddance, Henry Waxman.

UPDATE: Charles Cooke reminds us that Waxman co-authored the Clean Air Act, which set the stage for the EPA’s aggressive rule-making, and signed off as often as he could on surrendering legislative authority to executive agencies. Bah.

UPDATE 2: Hmm. Per Allahpundit, maybe Henry’s seat isn’t so safe after all.


Is it time for Speaker Boehner and team to resign?

October 17, 2013
"We needed a better plan"

“Strategy and tactics”

I’ve never been a basher of Speaker John Boehner; figuring that it’s always easier to be the “Monday-morning quarterback” than the man on the field calling the signals, I wanted to give him the benefit of the doubt his years of experience warranted, even if I haven’t always agreed with his actions.

And, as some will recall, I was very skeptical of the defund/shutdown strategy against Obamacare. Still am, in fact, but that’s neither here nor there; once the battle had been joined, it was up to our leaders in the House, where the main action would be fought, to conduct the operations competently and come out of them with a win. The House majority, representing as it does a majority of the people, was well within its constitutional prerogatives to refuse funding for government operations until the Senate and the White House agreed to acceptable changes.  And if the leadership couldn’t get everything –that is, defunding or delaying Obamacare for a year, which was never going to happen– then at least get some significant concessions that would make the struggle worthwhile. That would require effective negotiation and compromise by both sides, and it is in the conduct and results of those negotiations that we should judge Speaker Boehner, Majority Leader Cantor, and Majority Whip McCarthy.

Writing at The Federalist, Sean Davis examines Boehner & co.’s performance, as well as the lack of trust between them and the caucus, and concludes that it is time for them to resign. First, the trust issue:

So why the bloody fight over [tactics]? The battle erupted because conservatives did not trust Boehner and Cantor to actually fight on the debt limit. To many conservatives, the constant Boehner/Cantor strategy, regardless of the issue at hand, boils down to “the real battle is the next battle.” Surrender this fight, and we’ll promise to fight for real next time. Their proposed debt limit/delay strategy perfectly resembled that caricature. They won’t fight on the less risky battle (shutdown), so why should we trust them to fight on the really risky battle (default)?

That distrust, regardless of which side of the defund or delay argument you come down on, is the primary reason for the mess in which Republicans currently find themselves. Democrats stayed united because they trusted the strategy laid out for them by Reid and Obama. The GOP fracture was caused entirely by a lack of trust in its leadership.

Then there’s Speaker Boehner’s utter incompetence as a negotiator:

The next negotiating factor that eliminated any Boehner credibility in the eyes of Obama and Reid is Boehner’s terrible habit of offering unilateral concessions without getting anything in return from Reid or Obama. In order to explain why those actions were so problematic, we first need to define what was at stake. The object of the negotiation — the thing that nearly everybody wanted — was for the government to re-open and for default to be avoided. Democrats wanted a clean spending bill and a clean debt limit extension with nothing else attached. That was their dream deal. Republicans wanted any spending bill and debt limit to be coupled with some sort of full delay or defunding of Obamacare. That was their dream deal. Any deviation from either side’s dream deal is defined as a concession — it’s something they gave up in order to get to the object of the negotiation.

The trouble is, per Davis, Obama and Reid bet that, if they stayed firm and offered no concessions, Boehner would start “negotiating with himself,” which is exactly what happened, as Boehner offered unilateral concession after unilateral concession. All the Democrats had to do was sit back, say no, and wait. It was as if he had a cartoon sucker hanging over his head:

"Suckers."

“Your House negotiating team”

But what of his deputies, Majority Leader Cantor and Majority Whip McCarthy? Davis does not spare them, either:

First, [Boehner] never took the time to determine what negotiators call the “walkaway value” of his conference. What is the final deal that they would accept? Granted, that is a very difficult value to agree on, especially when you have more than 200 individuals who think their solution is best and everyone else is an idiot. But that’s the Speaker’s job. When you are negotiating on behalf of other people, you cannot walk into a negotiation without knowing their walkaway value. And where were Cantor and McCarthy during all this? If Boehner thought he would be advantaged by staying above the fray, then Cantor and McCarthy — the whip whose sole job it is to count votes — should’ve been listening and whipping and cajoling on Boehner’s behalf. Their job is to support the Speaker, and every indication is that they completely failed to do so.

In other words, their job was to “take the temperature ” of their caucus, find out what their minimal agreed conditions were, get everyone signed off on the same page, and convey that to Boehner, so that he could then field a unified caucus in the negotiations, knowing that he could deliver the votes in a deal. Instead, Cantor and McCarthy failed to do this, Boehner failed to make them do this, and instead the Speaker offered deal after deal that he could not carry out.

The result, then, was not only a defeat for Republicans and conservatives in this round (and it was a defeat, no matter how much some spin it), but also a weakening of our position in any future conflicts, because of both the caucus’ continued lack of trust in the leadership (now deepened) and Reid and Obama’s defensible belief that, in another showdown, they could use the same intransigent strategy again and expect to win. With the current leadership, I’d say they were justified in that belief.

Under the parliamentary, “Westminster system” of government, Cabinet ministers are considered accountable for the functioning of their department and can be expected to resign if something bad goes wrong. It’s called the principle of “ministerial responsibility.”

While the American Executive Branch doesn’t usually operate under the same principle (1), I do believe it applies more closely in party caucuses in the House. Boehner and his leadership team have failed repeatedly in their negotiations with the Senate and the White House. They can’t run the government, obviously, but they are not even achieving what could be reasonably expected when controlling a majority of the chamber that most closely represents the People. And that comes down to individual failures by John Boehner, Eric Cantor, and Kevin McCarthy.

It’s time for the Speaker and his deputies to accept responsibility, resign, and make way for new leadership that has the confidence of the caucus.

Footnote:
(1) Especially not this administration; under any decent government, HHS Secretary Sebelius would have resigned over the Obamacare roll-out fiasco. And don’t get me started about Eric Holder.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Questions for @RepSpeier (D-CA 14) about Bob “Filthy” Filner #WarOnWomen

August 9, 2013

Dear Representative Jackie Speier,

In an article excerpted today in the California Political Review, you are quoted as saying Bob Filner should resign as Mayor of San Diego:

“In [Filner's] case, I think he was abusing his power, and I find it disgusting that he would hit on sexual assault victims in the military or veterans, I should say,” Speier said.

You’ve served as part of the California delegation to the House and as a member of the Democratic caucus there since since 2008. Filner was in the House from 1993-2012, also as a member of the Democratic caucus. So you overlapped for four years. It’s been widely reported that Bob Filner was harassing women during his time in the House. Indeed, that’s where he got the nickname “Filthy,” as well as a few others. The former head of the California Democratic Party flew to Washington to speak to Bob about his “issue.” There’s no way this stayed secret from the caucus leadership and, given the number of women complaining about Filner’s behavior in the House, it’s difficult to believe you didn’t know.

And so some questions come to mind:

When did you first hear of Bob Filner’s disgusting behavior in the House? Why did you not complain about it then? Why did you not demand his resignation or expulsion? Since you had to have known about it then, why are you only denouncing it now? Are you concerned your caucus leadership was apparently engaged in a cover up of a sexual predator who preyed on veterans? Were you part of that cover up? Will you denounce Nancy Pelosi’s involvement in a cover up and her effective enabling of Bob Filner’s abuse of women?

And, if you truly didn’t know what was going on, if you didn’t notice what so many women were complaining about and you weren’t “read in” by your caucus leadership, are you concerned about what that says about your job performance and place in the caucus and the California delegation?

Will you resign for your failure as a feminist to protect the women of the House?

Kind Regards,

–A California Voter

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


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