Republicans move to (finally) impeach IRS director

October 28, 2015
John Koskinen

John Koskinen

Honestly, I never thought they would really do it:

House Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R., Utah) filed an impeachment resolution on Tuesday against IRS Commissioner John Koskinen, the turnaround expert who was brought in to clean up the tax agency in 2013. Mr. Chaffetz was joined by 18 fellow Republicans.

The charges focus on the destruction of magnetic tapes that contained e-mails from Lois Lerner, the former agency executive whose office gave extra scrutiny to the groups.

“John Andrew Koskinen engaged in a pattern of deception that demonstrates his unfitness to serve as Commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service,” the resolution says, focusing on Mr. Koskinen’s statements last year about the agency’s efforts to retrieve documents for congressional investigations. “Commissioner Koskinen made a series of false and misleading statements to Congress in contravention of his oath to tell the truth.”

“The IRS vigorously disputes the allegations in the resolution. We have fully cooperated with all of the investigations,” the agency said in a written statement.

Of course, the IRS also said there had been no high level coordinated efforts to harass conservative and libertarian groups applying for non-profit status in the run-up to the 2012 election, and then, when that was shown to be a lie, said they couldn’t find Lois Lerner’s emails. That was also shown to be a lie. During the whole of his time in office, Commissioner Koskinen has stonewalled, obstructed, and flat-out lied to the Congress, the elected representatives of his bosses: us. His arrogance in several hearings I’ve watched has just been astounding. If not impeachment, he certainly deserves a pie in the face.

Long-time readers of this blog (all two of you) will recall that I often called for the impeachment of former Attorney General Eric Holder and that I believe Barack Obama merits impeachment and removal from office. Partly because their malfeasance and incompetence in office (1) deserve it, but also to restore some respect for Congress’ role as the representatives of the people and the states. Congress has been so reluctant to impeach and remove officials who abuse their power that it has contributed to the decline of the legislature’s status as a co-equal branch and the rise of “Crown government.” Along with denying funds, impeachment is the only weapon Congress has to hold the Executive to account.

Make no mistake, however: as the article points out, removing even a minor wretch like Mr. Koskinen will be difficult. Other than judges, Congress has gone after Executive Branch officials only twice: Grant’s Secretary of War and President Clinton, himself. Removing Koskinen requires 67 senators voting to convict, which means several Democrats would have to turn against the Obama White House, which appointed him. Ain’t gonna happen.

However, putting this malicious bureaucrat on trial would be a small first step on the road toward restoring Congress’ authority by asserting its institutional and constitutional prerogatives. In other words, you abuse your power,  you get your power taken away from you.

By all rights, this should be the first of several.

Pour encourager les autres.

Quote Of The Day: 2015 is the new 1938 edition

September 12, 2015

The fruit of appeasement

National Review’s David French on Democrats voting for the Iran deal:

It’s entirely appropriate that the Democrats filibustered Republican efforts to block the Iran Deal on September 10. After all, the Democrats — now fully the party of jihadist appeasement — are the primary political repository of September 10 thinking, but without the excuse of ignorance. We know what jihadists are capable of. We know their war aims. And yet the Democrats overwhelmingly voted to grant the world’s most powerful terrorist state a $150 billion economic stimulus, access to international arms markets, and access to ballistic missile technology – without even stopping their nuclear program or establishing a viable inspection program

Remember that. Democrats know just how bad a deal Obama and Kerry have crafted: that’s why they filibustered the cloture motion — the cowards didn’t want to be on record voting to let genocidal maniacs in Tehran get their hands on nuclear weapons. It doesn’t matter, however; the public knows the Democrats own this fiasco-in-the-making.

And for those who forget, we’ll make sure to remind them. This is unforgivable.

To paraphrase Cato the Elder: Factio Democratica delenda est.

PS: Click through to the original post for video explaining the subject line.

Respectfully disagreeing: the Republican letter on Iran was proper and needed

March 10, 2015

Turn almost anywhere in D.C. and you’ll find someone screaming in outrage about something: taxes, health care, regulations of one sort or another, the secret Lizard People conspiracy to control our government, whatever. The latest chorus of outrage has arisen because of an open letter to the Iranian government written by Senator Cotton (R-AR) and 46 others among his Republican colleagues. The senators wanted to remind Iran that the US Senate has a constitutional role to play regarding any treaty with Tehran and that no agreement would be lasting without the Senate’s consent. You can read the letter here, but below is a key excerpt:

First, under our Constitution, while the president negotiates international agreements, Congress plays the significant role of ratifying them. In the case of a treaty, the Senate must ratify it by a two-thirds vote. A so-called congressional-executive agreement requires a majority vote in both the House and the Senate (which, because of procedural rules, effectively means a three-fifths vote in the Senate). Anything not approved by Congress is a mere executive agreement.

Second, the offices of our Constitution have different characteristics. For example, the president may serve only two 4-year terms, whereas senators may serve an unlimited number of 6-year terms. As applied today, for instance, President Obama will leave office in January 2017, while most of us will remain in office well beyond then—perhaps decades.

In other words, “there’s no real deal unless it contains provisions we approve of.”

This started a firestorm of criticism from the Left, with perhaps the most shrill, hysteria-laden attack coming on the cover of the New York Daily News:

Hyperbole much?

Hyperbole much?

Graphic via Hot Air

(Aside: “treason” is a word thrown around far too easily in recent years. By the Left and the Right.)

And the reaction from the White House and their allies in Congress wasn’t much farther behind:

Congressional Democrats joined the White House in denouncing the letter, with Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) calling it “a cynical effort by Republican Senators to undermine sensitive international negotiations — it weakens America’s hand and highlights our political divisions to the rest of the world.”


Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, accused Republicans of trying to “sabotage” the nuclear talks.

“This bizarre, inappropriate letter is a desperate ploy to scuttle a comprehensive agreement and the chance for a peaceful resolution, which is in the best interests of the United States, Israel and the world,” Boxer said in a statement.

Well, if anyone understands “bizarre,” it’s Barbara Boxer.

I’ll leave it to Noah Rothman to deal with the rank hypocrisy of the Democrats’ statements (here’s one huge example from The Federalist), but there were criticisms, or at least sad regret, from some on the Right, too. First, while Byron York at the Washington Examiner acknowledges that Obama started this mess, he still sees little good in the issuance of the Cotton letter:

It should go without saying that the reason Republicans are doing these things is because they are deeply concerned about a possible Iran deal. But another reason they’re acting is because they can. On Iran and before that on immigration, healthcare, and other matters, Obama has pushed his executive authority beyond its proper limits, on the flimsy pretense that he is entitled to act unilaterally if Congress does not pass bills he wants. Could anyone fail to anticipate that in response Congress would stretch its own authority, too?


Of course, it is still a bad thing. It is not good to invite a foreign leader to address Congress in a campaign against the U.S. president. It is not good to undermine the president’s authority to conduct foreign policy. But it’s not a good thing to undermine Congress’ authority to make laws, either. And to threaten even more undermining in the future, as Obama has done.

Meanwhile, at Hot Air, my friend Jazz Shaw thinks the letter is too much, too soon:

The whole point is that the system seems to be breaking down, and this letter is yet another example of the United States airing its dirty laundry for the rest of the world to see. Under ideal conditions, this would all be hammered out in private between Obama and the Congress and he could then send Kerry to negotiate something they could all live with. That didn’t happen either, so this is clearly not a case of all the fault being on one side of the aisle. In fact, when the President turned around and said this wasn’t really a treaty so he could do what he liked, that was possibly an even worse sin than what Tom Cotton and his cosigners have done. Trying to change the nature of a major deal between nations by calling it an agreement rather than a treaty is just a dodge, and not a particularly artful one at that.

Still, I find myself disagreeing with Tom Cotton (who I admire very much, and have since I interviewed him during the election) and wishing that this letter hadn’t been written. If there had to be an official response, a resolution of disapproval of the negotiations (or later, of the deal itself) could have been passed on the Senate floor. That would have at least kept the communications in house, rather than having the Legislative branch dive directly into the mix with Iran. The system of how things need to work to keep Washington functional continues to break down, and this letter did nothing to help with that challenge.

Both writers express an understandable wish for comity between the parties and branches when facing a dangerous foe. And many of us are old enough to remember when such a period existed when politics (mostly) “stopped at the water’s edge” — that era from World War II to the fall of the USSR when  there was a general consensus on foreign affairs between the parties in the face of threats from first the Nazis and then the Communists.

But that period slowly came to an end with two developments: first the rise of the anti-war socialist and communist-sympathizing Left and their liberal dupes to domination of the Democratic Party after 1968. They simply did not and do not share the foreign policy assumptions of the older, New Deal liberals who formed half of the consensus.

The other event was the end of the Cold War and the collapse of the Soviet Union.  With the deadly enemy gone, the pressure to unite against the outsider was lifted. Hence it became easier to take politics beyond the water’s edge.

And, while I opened this by saying I respectfully disagree, York and Shaw (and others) have a valid point: It *is* regrettable that there is no consensus anymore on our foreign affairs (1), and it is a shame that oru squabbles have to be carried out in public. Ours is a largely informal system in which policy makers would (should) come to a consensus based on agreement on broad principles.

But, for now at least, that agreement is gone, and one side pushes so far beyond the bounds of what has been acceptable that the other feels forced to retaliate.

Yet I still disagree that Senator Cotton and his colleagues should not have done this. As York himself notes, the administration and congressional  Democrats have shown little but contempt for constitutional norms and bounds since Obama was inaugurated. And in the face of the many slights against the American settlement perpetrated by the Obama White House and colluded in by the congressional Democrats, congressional Republicans have been nearly supine. The latest, the failure to stop Obama’s illegal, unconstitutional amnesty plan via the DHS budget, was a humiliating disgrace that could well encourage other adventures in petty tyranny on the president’s part. And it was just one moment, albeit egregious, in the long march of Congress surrendering more and more of its authority to the Executive since progressivism took hold.

Congress needed to push back to start reclaiming its role in our system, and this letter represents a good start. And it was better to do it now, while the agreement is still being worked out, than wait until it could be presented as “take it or leave it, and the consequences of rejection be on your shoulders.” Far from interfering in foreign affairs, this represents the Senate majority asserting its proper constitutional role and demanding it be honored. If Senator Cotton is representative of the newer generation of senators, then I have hope some balance will be restored.

While it’s regrettable that the fight has taken public, it’s much more heartening to see the legislature assert itself as Madison intended, jealously guarding its interest.

(1) Kind of hard to have one when one side still believes in a muscular, exceptional America as a force for good in the world, and the other sees American power as the problem and chooses national decline.


#Obamacare: Democrats scared law they wrote might actually be enforced

February 16, 2015

satire train wreck

And well they should be. Obamacare was structured so that you paid a fine fee tax (1) if you didn’t have the required insurance. That fine was trivial for the first year, but scheduled to go up each year for the next two years: from $95 in 2014 to $325 this year to as much as $1,100 next year. That rule is now coming into effect, so…

Cue Democrat panic:

The three are Michigan’s Sander Levin, the ranking Democrat on the Ways and Means Committee, and Democratic Reps. Jim McDermott of Washington, and Lloyd Doggett of Texas. All worked to help steer Obama’s law through rancorous congressional debates from 2009-2010.

The lawmakers say they are concerned that many of their constituents will find out about the penalties after it’s already too late for them to sign up for coverage, since open enrollment ended Sunday.

That means they could wind up uninsured for another year, only to owe substantially higher fines in 2016. The fines are collected through the income tax system.

This year is the first time ordinary Americans will experience the complicated interactions between the health care law and taxes. Based on congressional analysis, tax preparation giant H&R Block says roughly 4 million uninsured people will pay penalties.

When they wrote this anti-constitutional monstrosity of a law, Reps. Levin, McDermott, and Doggett, along with all the other Democrats who voted for it (2), had fooled themselves into thinking that it would become so popular that the number of people subject to a fine would be de minimis.

Four million angry voters is not what they imagined, though it seems as if they have started to have nightmares about it, since they’re begging Obama to use his pen and phone (and the authority he does not have) to rewrite the law –again– so Democrats can avoid the consequences of their arrogance and stupidity.

Trouble is (for them), I’m not so sure President Obama cares all that much anymore what happens to Democratic congressman. He doesn’t have to worry about reelection, now does he?

And, oh yes, these voters will be angry, and Republicans will be sure to remind them just who visited this hurt on them.

Like elections, votes in Congress have consequences.

via Conservative Intelligence Briefing

(1) Only John Roberts understands which.
(2) And not a single Republican, let us be clear. This mess isn’t our fault at all.

Is there anyone lower than a Senate Democrat?

February 4, 2015
"Senate Grinch"

“Senate Grinch”

I’m really not sure, after this stunt:

In a shocking move, Senate Democrats today filibustered all funding for the Department of Homeland Security. They refused to allow the DHS funding bill, which has already passed the House, to be brought up for a vote. This means that funding for DHS, including its many vital national security functions, will soon run out.

Why would Democrats vote unanimously to shut down DHS? Because the funding bill excludes the implementation of President Obama’s patently illegal and unconstitutional subversion of the nation’s immigration laws. The Democrats’ position is: either you go approve of and pay for the president’s illegal acts, or we will shut DHS down.

Note that “unanimously” includes supposed bridge-building moderate Joe Manchin (D-WV), who says he’s in DC to “get things done.” Remember this lesson: there is no such thing as a moderate or conservative Democrat, not when it counts — in a vote. They’ll say all the right words their voters want to hear about being “centrist” and standing against the president, but, when push comes to shove, they still vote with their progressive leadership.

But then, what else should we expect from a caucus still lead by Harry Reid, who as Majority Leader turned himself into a human roadblock against almost any bill passing, even amendments his own party members wanted considered? When it came to being “Dr. No,” Reid made Andrei Gromyko look like a paragon of cooperation.

Now in the minority, he apparently plans to do the same thing, all to protect Obama’s anti-constitutional usurpation of the Congress’ power to write our laws.

Again, what should we expect from the man who ran as fast as he could to a microphone to stab our Armed Forces in the back and scream “all is lost” just as they were about to begin a major campaign against al Qaeda?

Harry Reid is a venal, mean-spirited old wretch of a man whose idea of the “national interest” extends no further than his party’s caucus chamber and who couldn’t give a tinker’s cuss about his responsibilities to the Constitution.

The Senate will be improved immeasurably once he retires.

More from Politico.

Something I rarely say: “Good for you, Senator McCain”

January 29, 2015
Get off his lawn.

Get off his lawn.

I’m not a great fan of John McCain (R-AZ) (1), but when given a choice between him and the juvenile, narcissistic, sanctimonious anti-American pendejas of Code Pink… Well, the choice is obvious:

As the protesters from the group Code Pink chanted “arrest Henry Kissinger for war crimes” and waved a pair of handcuffs in the 91-year-old’s face, former Secretary of State George Shultz, who was also called to testify, confronted them, and several senators, including Republicans Tom Cotton of Arkansas and Joni Ernst of Iowa, came down from the podium to assist. Capitol Police, meanwhile, did not intervene to stop the protests.

“You’re going to have to shut up or I’m going to have you arrested,” McCain told them, then added: “Get out of here, you low-life scum.”

Code Pink protesters are a common feature at Armed Services hearings in both chambers, but McCain said Thursday’s protest was beyond the limits of what was acceptable.

Damn straight it was unacceptable. We give plenty of leeway to protesters and they have many means to make their voices heard. However, disrupting a hearing in a democratically elected legislature and attempting to intimidate a witness —a 91 year old witness— is not one of them. McCain wants these brownshirts pinkshirts prosecuted, and I hope the Capitol Police follow through on it.

One question: Why the heck did the Capitol Police let it get this to the point where US senators felt they had to come down to protect Dr. Kissinger?

One observation: Both Senator Cotton and Senator Ernst recently served in the Army. I would not have laid money on Code Pink’s chances, had they tried to press their luck.

(1) In fact, I’ve been know to utter the words “vain old fool” in connection to him…

(Video) Andrew Klavan with the revolting truth about the Senate “torture report”

January 16, 2015

Writer and satirist Andrew Klavan takes a sober, dignified look at the recent report on torture and the CIA’s enhanced interrogation techniques from the Senate Intelligence Committee. I think he sums it up just about right:

Notice how quiet the Democrats and the MSM have become about that report? That’s because they realize it was such an embarrassingly bad hack job that even they can’t defend it.


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