Monday, June 24, 2013

Supreme Court to rule on Obama recess appointment

** FILE ** Visitors walk past the Supreme Court in Washington on Saturday, March 23, 2013. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)The Supreme Court said Monday that it will take up the case of President Obama’s controversial recess appointments, with the justices agreeing to weigh in on what’s become a simmering constitutional crisis.

And the justices appear to be particularly interested in whether Congress can use the strategy pioneered by Democrats and continued by Republicans — but which Mr. Obama flouted — of meeting every three days in pro forma sessions to deny the president his powers.

“In addition to the questions presented by the petition, the parties are directed to brief and argue the following question: Whether the president’s recess-appointment power may be exercised when the Senate is convening every three days in pro forma sessions,” the justices said in their order taking the case.

Oral arguments would be held in the next session, when the court reconvenes after its summer vacation.

Two federal appeals courts this year have ruled that Mr. Obama overstepped his constitutional powers with several recess appointments to the National Labor Relations Board, and both the White House and its opponents said they wanted to see the Supreme Court take the case and settle the matter.

At stake is decades of practice by presidents of both parties, who have used their recess powers to appoint judges and executive branch officials as a work-around when the Senate is blocking them.

But Mr. Obama pushed the limits early last year when he moved to appoint members to the National Labor Relations Board, even though the Senate — prodded by the House — was meeting in pro forma sessions every few days specifically to deny him the ability to use his recess powers.

Backed by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, a bottling company sued the NLRB after the newly constituted board made an adverse decision. Senate Republicans joined in that suit, arguing that the courts needed to step in and check the president’s powers.

The White House argued that since the Senate was only meeting in pro forma sessions, most lawmakers were out of town and so they were not really available to give “advice and consent” on Mr. Obama’s nominees — which the administration said was the same as being in recess.

But the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit ruled that the president cannot claim those powers for itself.

“Allowing the president to define the scope of his own appointments power would eviscerate the Constitution’s separation of powers,” the judges said in their opinion early this year.

Another federal appeals court has since ruled the same way, invalidating another decision involving an Obama recess appointment to the NLRB.

Both appeals courts ruled that the president can only use recess powers after Congress has adjourned a session permanently, which during modern times usually means only after Congress goes home for the end of the year. That would rule out the weekend and holiday breaks that lawmakers regularly take — sometimes for more than a month.

But the two courts reached their decisions based on different readings of the Constitution, which signals how much room there is for differing interpretations in this area of constitutional law.

Indeed, the D.C. appeals court ruled that not only can the president only make recess appointments after Congress has fully adjourned, but those appointments can only come on positions that became vacant during that recess.

That holding would severely limit the president’s powers.

Senate Bill Grants Napolitano Waiver of Border Security Provisions

By: Bob Beauprez / Townhall Columnist
 
 
No wonder Janet Napolitano supports the latest evolution of the Gang-of-Eight's immigration reform legislation; it specifically gives her the unilateral authority to ignore the key border security provisions.

Late last Friday, Napolitano issued the followingstatement of supportfor the border security amendment offered by Republican Senators John Hoeven (ND) and Bob Corker (TN):

"The president has made clear that commonsense immigration reform legislation must include measures to strengthen border security, create a path to earned citizenship, crack down on employers that hire undocumented workers, and streamline our legal immigration system so everyone is playing by the same set of rules.  The border security amendment agreed to by a bipartisan group of Senators is in line with that criteria.  It will devote important additional resources to the robust border security system this administration has put in place and strengthen what was already an unmatched piece of border security legislation."

Originally hyped as a major get-tough improvement to the Gang of Eight's border security provisions intended to attract more Republican support, Corker volunteered to reporters that the "Gang has been involved" in drafting the amendment, noting in particular that two of the most liberal Democrats, "Senator Schumer and Senator Menendez have been very active."

Knowing that, it comes as no surprise to learn that the so-called Hoeven-Corker amendment specifically gives the Secretary of Homeland Security the sole discretion to waive the provisions to build hundreds of miles of new fencing and the installation of technological equipment to aid in securing the border.

Regarding the border fence, according to theWashington Times, the 1190 page "amendment" reads that "nothing in this subsection shall require the secretary to install fencing, or infrastructure that directly results from the installation of such fencing, in a particular location along the southern border, if the secretary determines that the use of placement of such resources is not the most appropriate means to achieve and maintain effective control over the southern border at such location."

The Hoeven-Corker legislation also calls for very specific installation of technology including, 685 ground sensors, 50 towers, 73 fixed video cameras, and 28 mobile surveillance systems.  But, again the bill gives the Napolitano or her successors waiver authority "if the secretary determines that an alternate or new technology is at least as effective as the technologies described in paragraph (3) and provides a commensurate level of security."

Hoeven-Corker also mandates an increase in "the number of trained full-time active duty U.S. Border Patrol agents deployed to the Southern border to 38,405."  How that rather specific number of agents was determined is unclear, but the secretary gets eight years –until September 30, 2021- to ramp up to that level.

Those watching the debate on both sides are predicting lawsuits in bunches if a bill is eventually signed into law, which would likely stall implementation of various provisions of the legislation, as well.

However, regardless of whether any fencing, technology, or agents ever get deployed, or border security ever improves, "immigrants will be given permanent status in ten years no matter what" according to Byron York, chief political correspondent for theWashington Examiner, who has meticulously followed the Senate's deliberations.

The Senate is expected to vote on Hoeven-Corker as early as Monday, June 24 after having only the weekend to review the 1200 pages of complex legislative language.  Want to make a bet as to how many of the Senators will have read the bill before they vote on it?

York actually calculated the task at hand: 3 days, 16 hours a day, 24 pages and hour.  "That's certainly doable," York says, "But, it's also not easy, because reading the amendment requires comparing the new text to the original text of the bill to try to spot changes."  Then there's the obvious – what Senator is going to spend the weekend doing that anyway?

Senator Mike Lee (R-UT) has assigned 100 page sections of the Hoeven-Corker amendment to members of his staff to review.  Rest assured that he is the exception.  Last Thursday, before the text was even available, Senator Corker told reporters thatfourteen Republicanswere ready to support the bill as rewritten.

Something seems likely to pass the Senate.  It also appears that the House may pass their own version of Immigration reform legislation, but likely not until September at the earliest.  That means a Conference Committee would need to be formed to reconcile differences in the two bills (likely significant differences) as Congress enters full blown campaign season before the 2014 elections. 

Then it's anybody's guess if both chambers would pass the Conference compromise, and if the President would sign or veto it.

So, as badly as a good solution needs to be found to a major problem that has been decades in the making, our bet is that the efforts of this Congress will yield the same result as the several previous ones – not much.

Brazil Woke Up: What Americans Can Learn From The So-Called “Vinegar Revolt”

By: Austin Hill / Townhall Columnist
 
The headlines were telling, but the caption on the protester’s sign said it all: Brazil Woke Up.

Did you see it? It appeared at Drudgereport.Com for a couple of days last week. It linked to a news story that detailed the uprisings which have been nicknamed the “vinegar movement” and the “salad revolt” and that have plagued that entire country for several days.

The protestations have been so named because of a video that recently went viral on YouTube which depicted a journalist named Piero Locatelli being arrested for carrying a bottle of vinegar in his backpack. Protesters theorize that covering ones face with a vinegar soaked cloth helps one to resist teargas, yet law enforcement officers (at least in Brazil) theorize that vinegar can be used to make a bomb (the veracity of either of these theories is, at least in my mind, questionable).

Residents of Sao Paulo were already furious over yet another recent rate hike with their public transportation lines. But then seeing a guy get incarcerated for merely possessing vinegar turned out to be the match that struck the fuse which then ignited the powder keg. So now vinegar is to Brazilians as tea was to Bostonians in 1773.

At the core of the protests lies one important truth: human beings naturally want to live with freedom and dignity. Brazilians are experiencing yet again the tyrannical and undignified consequences of a big, inefficient, and abusive government, and they are perhaps learning all over again that government frequently can’t provide even the most basic of services, let alone fulfill all its promises.

The Brazilians’ story is not unique. It has been repeated throughout the course of history, while slightly different versions of it are playing out right now in Turkey, Spain, Cyprus, Iran, Egypt and Greece. And to a lesser but yet very real degree, it is our story right now in the United States.

Think about it. In America, layers upon layers of dysfunctional and inefficient federal, state and local government consume more and more of our economic resources (and all too often we eagerly agree to hand over those resources), while providing fewer and fewer services. Agents of government frequently enjoy the best employee benefits and retirement pensions at taxpayer expense.

Self-gratifying politicians in turn rage against “rich people” and insist that some of our fellow Americans aren’t paying their “fair share” in taxes, while legislatively dodging the very rules and constraints that they place on the electorate.

If that seems overly cynical, think about this: how difficult is it, really, to imagine that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security might one day forbid the public possession of vinegar, claiming that the substance has become a “public safety threat?”

Americans need to develop a healthy dose of skepticism about the promises of politicians to meet our every need, and we should abandon this false assumption that the agents of our government will exercise their power fairly. History suggests that governmental power is usually abused, and America may be on its way to repeating that history.

But here’s the good news: in many other ways, some of the founders of our nation understood human nature so remarkably well that they foresaw a day when future generations would want not so much a President, as a messiah. And some of those same early Americans offered some guidelines that, if we choose again to follow them, could help lead us out of our current malaise.

Such wisdom is yours for the reading in “The Federalist Papers,” that old compilation of some 85 newspaper editorials that argued for the ratification of the U.S. Constitution, published between 1787 and 1788. While making the case for limiting the power of government, and establishing “checks and balances” between government’s various “departments,” James Madison eloquently wrote in “The Federalist Number 51:”

“ It may be a reflection on human nature, that such devices should be necessary to control the abuses of government. But what is government itself, but the greatest of all reflections on human nature? If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary. In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself. A dependence on the people is, no doubt, the primary control on the government……”

It would seem that Madison the philosopher (who went on to become our Fourth President of the United States) was quite certain that those who govern will never be “angels” (he would probably also concur that a President will never amount to a messiah). Madison also seems to indicate that those who govern will naturally begin to think a bit too highly of themselves, and will have difficulty with ‘self-restraint.”

The good news, even in this brief passage of Madison’s writings, is that “the people” - - those of us who are “the governed” - - can still function as the force that prohibits government from spiraling out of control. Certainly, we are still “free enough” – at least for now, anyway - to speak out, to allow our voices to be heard, and to freely exchange ideas about our country and its government - - even if those ideas are contrary to the edicts of a dead-certain Command-In-Chief.

The question is not “can we,” but “will we” function as that balancing force against a government that has seized way too much control of our lives.

Madison and the other founders set the course. Brazilians are waking up. But will Americans wake up and follow their founders?
Op-ed: 
The NSA leaks...a diversion like none ever before                                                   
By: Diane Sori

It was the OJ car chase revisited…Snowden was in the air…he was going to Moscow…he was going to Cuba…he was going to Iceland…he was going to Ecuador…he circled and went back to Hong Kong…stay tuned as the circus continues.

And the infamous WikiLeaks was the ringmaster of this circus, a role they happily took on when issuing this statement:
“Mr Edward Snowden, the American whistleblower who exposed evidence of a global surveillance regime conducted by US and UK intelligence agencies, has left Hong Kong legally. He is bound for a democratic nation via a safe route for the purposes of asylum, and is being escorted by diplomats and legal advisors from WikiLeaks”
“Mr Snowden requested that WikiLeaks use its legal expertise and experience to secure his safety. Once Mr. Snowden arrives at his final destination his request will be formally processed.”
NOW there’s a real trusted source of information and protection for you (gag).

And while we had asked Hong Kong to issue a provisional arrest warrant for Snowden, the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region said there were problems with the request.
“Since the documents provided by the U.S. government did not fully comply with the legal requirements under Hong Kong law, the HKSAR government has requested the U.S. government to provide additional information,” Hong Kong officials said.

Adding because Hong Kong didn’t have enough information,“there is no legal basis to restrict Mr. Snowden from leaving Hong Kong,” and so Snowden supposedly left the country. 
Yeah right…how about he was let go because that was the plan all along…for what Snowden supposedly ‘exposed’ was made public long ago.

On October 4, 2001 in the aftermath of 9/11, President Bush authorized the NSA to track suspected terrorists by monitoring domestic communications without a warrant. However, the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act prohibited the government from eavesdropping inside the United States without first getting a warrant from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (known as the FISA court), so he had to work around this and thus the Patriot Act came into being...well intentions turned into a nightmare.

And on October 26, 2001, Bush signed the Patriot Act into law, thus expanded the government’s electronic surveillance powers. Bush said, “The existing law was written in the era of rotary telephones. This new law that I sign today will allow surveillance of all communications used by terrorists, including emails, the internet, and cellphones”.

Notice the word ‘terrorists’ NOT American citizens…NOT ‘We the People’.

And none of that was ever kept hidden from the public. In fact, in February 2002, The New York Times reported that the Information Awareness Office, a Pentagon agency, “is developing technologies to give federal officials instant access to vast new surveillance and information-analysis systems” and in November they reported on “a vast electronic dragnet” that could sweep up electronic and voice communications as well as financial data.


Fast forward to 2006 when USA Today reported that the NSA has diverted from Bush’s original intent, and had been tracking tens of millions of Americans’ phone calls using data provided by AT&T, Verizon, and BellSouth…data they claimed was needed if they had even an inkling of a reason to believe those 'targeted’ were connected to foreign terrorists or terrorist organizations.

And major newspapers reported on other incidents like this over the years including a New York Times report back in May 2006 stating that immunity had been given to phone companies that had participated in the NSA’s warrantless wiretapping program, and in June 2009 the New York Times reported that private information was being disseminated by Facebook and Google among others.

The difference now from what Bush did then is that Barack HUSSEIN Obama is willfully and deliberately misapplying the intent of the Patriot Act to allow expanded domestic surveillance...spying...on people they know in NO way have connections to terrorists or terrorist organizations.

So Snowden did NOT report…expose… whistleblow…on anything that wasn’t already known and reported on, therefore, NO acts of treason have been committed and NO damage has been done to the United States by his supposed disclosures making this entire situation a ruse of the first degree…a ruse to divert us away from a truth that has been almost a year in coming…a diversion to keep us focused on a scandal that was NEVER a scandal to begin with.

And as events unfold, I now believe Snowden is working for ‘someone’...was sent to Hong Kong by ‘someone’...is being paid by ‘someone’...will get asylum (it seems like in Ecuador) with the help of ‘someone'...all to keep us baited and focused on leaks that are NOT leaks at all for all this information was always out there…one just had to search newspaper archives or the internet to find it.

And who is that 'someone'...who has the major amount of money and power needed to pull this off...only one name comes to mind...the 'puppet master' himself...Mr. George Soros...for the 'anointed one' must be protected at all costs.

NO leaks NO scandal...yet someone is obviously being being protected...so what is behind all this...what would cause such a scandal to be concocted…the one and only scandal that must permanently be made to go away is...in a word...Benghazi.  Benghazi…the stuff of murder…cover-ups…aiding and abetting the enemy…orders to ‘stand down’… gun and weapons running…true treason committed by this president of the United States and his former secretary of state.

Benghazi…the Obama called ‘bump in the road’…the only thing that can actually take down this president and his administration, and they know it…and thus the NSA leaks were born so that the word ‘treason’ would be shouldered by another…willingly it seems…willingly and for a high price I would assume…someone who didn't mind taking the heat off Barack HUSSEIN Obama and Hillary Clinton for as long as possible so that attention would be diverted away from the fact that on June 26th General Carter Ham, head of AFRICOM during the Benghazi attack, testifies before the House Armed Services Committee on the events of that night (in a closed hearing and there would only be one reason for it to be held behind closed doors), and I’m willing to bet that it won’t be pretty...and notice NOT a mention of it in the media.

Benghazi...the ghosts of four dead Americans taint everything this miserable excuse of a president and his administration do, concoct, and cover-up, but maybe now those ghosts will finally be able to Rest in Peace...and it might just take this phony scandal to do it.