Filed under: Politics, Domestic Policy, The Constitution, Economy, Democrat Corruption, Capitalism, Law, The United States, Regulation, Bureaucracy | Tags: Executive Orders, Presidential Memoranda, Presidential Determinations
“A bipartisan consensus has long held that a healthy democracy requires a significant measure of government transparency.” Since 1950 the Federal Records Act has required the government to preserve documents about its decisions.
Since the 1960s the government has been subject to the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) which gives citizens the right to see those records. In 2009, the National Archives issued rules requiring federal agencies to preserve employee work on non official accounts in a government record-keeping system.
The Obama Administration has long talked “transparency” but tried to hide everything from this legal regime. Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State conducted most of her correspondence on a private, homemade email system that she failed to disclose, kept away from the federal government, and when the system was exposed — Mrs. Clinton declared that she would be the arbiter of what she would allow the American people or Congress to see. Her aide Huma Abedin also had an account on that system, but Mrs. Abedin has not yet bothered to deliver her government records to State.
In August, the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) filed a FOIA request to gain access to the private email account of White House science czar John Holdren, who may have used a private account for government work.
CEI exposed former EPA Director Lisa Jackson for using a secret alias “Richard Windsor” when emailing on the EPA system, which was apparently designed to thwart any FOIA requests for her conversations since “Lisa Jackson” didn’t appear on her emails.
Lois Lerner’s emails from the IRS have been subpoenaed for two years, without success and with extensive lies and obfuscations. Now it turns out she had a second private email account to conduct government work under the name “Toby Miles” and the IRS still cannot account for its contents.
It is becoming apparent that the practice is rampant among Administration officials, including the Secretaries of Agriculture, Labor and HHS. All have secret government email accounts that neither Congress nor the public are aware of in defiance of federal law.
Last week a federal court subpoenaed former EPA official Phillip North after a complaint by a mining concern called the Pebble Partnership. Mr. North worked from inside the EPA with outside activists to scuttle Pebble’s proposed Alaskan mining project, and he did so on private email.
The Lerner and North cases also highlight the Administration’s sloppy, or willfully obstructionist, approach to recordkeeping. Recall the crash of Ms. Lerner’s hard drive, and the IRS’s claim for months it had no backup of her work. Treasury’s Inspector General would later find some. Mr. North’s hard drive also crashed, and Pebble claims that key North emails and documents have gone missing from EPA’s official record.
The people are justified in believing that this Administration’s evasion of disclosing information is not an accident. The public has a right to ask just what is being done in their name. President Obama believes in government by executive order — the latest example is changing the designation of what is clearly a Treaty to a mere executive order. The Washington Post recently noted that the White House seeks to misdirect.
Obama issued only 20 executive orders in 2013 (the lowest single-year total in more than a century. But that year he issued 41 presidential memoranda, along with nine additional presidential “determinations.” And there are more avenues: regulatory action, signing statements, legal interpretations and administrative orders technically issued by department heads, but at the behest of the White House.
Then there are other ways of making the presidential preferences known, and the Washington Post lists them. And lists some of the worst abuses cited by those who feel that the president has abused his executive authority. It would be interesting to see just how many FOIA requests are hanging around waiting for a reply. Then there are all those computers that ‘unexpectedly’ crashed, lost everything, bad computers sent to the dump, and of course “wiped.” There’s a real reason why Hillary is in so much trouble.
Repeating Jonah Goldberg’s aphorism:
“The people are the boss, the government is the servant. The Constitution is the government’s job description. The Declaration of Independence is its mission statement. Campaigns are the job interview, elections are the hiring and firing process.”
Filed under: Capitalism, Democrat Corruption, Economy, Freedom, Law, The Constitution | Tags: Executive Orders, He Has a Phone and a Pen, The Imperial Presidency
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Filed under: Democrat Corruption, Economy, Freedom, Law, Politics, The United States | Tags: A Lawless President, Creating Jobs 101, Executive Orders
The upcoming State of the Union address is expected to be focused on the economy, so the President is picking up the pace of jobs messages, and attempting to demonstrate how he can advance his economic agenda. The problem, of course, is that presidents cannot create jobs, except by federal hiring, and that just takes more money out of taxpayer pockets.
Jobs are created by businesses confident in their ability to grow and expand, unfettered by excessive regulation and excessive taxation. Mr. Obama clearly believes that he can create jobs if he just speaks forcefully enough to business.
We’re not just going to be waiting for legislation in order to make sure that we’re providing Americans the kind of help they need. I’ve got a pen and I’ve got a phone,” Obama said Tuesday as he convened his first Cabinet meeting of the year.
Obama continued: ”And I can use that pen to sign executive orders and take executive actions and administrative actions that move the ball forward in helping to make sure our kids are getting the best education possible, making sure that our businesses are getting the kind of support and help they need to grow and advance, to make sure that people are getting the skills that they need to get those jobs that our businesses are creating.”
Obama’s message to his cabinet is “that we need all hands on deck to build on the recovery that we’re already seeing. The economy is improving, but it can be improving even faster.” The approach is meant to portray Obama as an impatient executive in the face of inaction from Congress, particularly in the Republican-controlled House.
Only through legislation can he get some of the most ambitious items on his economic agenda. He really can’t do it with his pen and phone. Executive orders won’t do it. And hopefully, it won’t get done. He wants a higher minimum wage, which is an unemployment act for young people already suffering from monstrously high unemployment rates. He wants universal preschool, which the results of Head Start, and dozens of careful studies have shown, does not work to give kids a better start in school. It amounts to expensive babysitting.
President Obama’s attempts at job creation have a remarkably poor history. His efforts at killing jobs have been much more successful. If he would just ignore the former and eschew the latter, we’d be better off. Early on there were the shovel-ready jobs and roads and crumbling bridges, crumbling schools too. Then there were all the green jobs that renewable energy would create.
The federal government added job-training programs in home insulation and energy-related stuff. Unfortunately the government was already overloaded with job training programs, mostly duplicative, and run by different departments who were unaware of each other. Few people actually found jobs after the training. The high-speed rail that was going to connect the cities of the Midwest died, and the railroad to nowhere in California is on life-support. The president visited every new manufacturing plant that offered a good photo-op, but his presence and blessings didn’t prevent bankruptcy.
He eliminated the possibility of drilling for oil on all coasts and most federal lands, but privately funded wildcatters went ahead and drilled with new fracking techniques on private land that is the only part of the economy that is actually booming and America is rapidly becoming through their efforts the energy powerhouse of the world. Even at that, 42 percent of our electricity is still produced by coal-fired power plants, which Obama is determined to put out of business with their millions of jobs.
There are things that a president can do with executive orders, but laws are made by Congress— according to the Constitution which Obama promised to preserve, protect and defend. The Executive is supposed to see that the laws are enforced. Americans are slowly becoming aware of the President’s legal end-run around Congress, and they don’t like it. According to a new IBD/TIPP poll, 55% disapprove of such a fiat rule. Americans are hamstrung by their deep respect for the office of the presidency.
Filed under: Democrat Corruption, Freedom, Law, National Security, Politics, The Constitution, The United States | Tags: Executive Orders, Laws Are Made by Congress, Separation of Powers
In the first two years of his presidency, Barack Obama had an easy relationship with Congress, for both houses were controlled by Democrats, and what Obama wanted, Obama got. In the second two years, Republicans won a solid majority in the House of Representatives, and the president faced opposition. Mr. Obama has made it clear that he doesn’t like disagreement.
Republicans are deeply worried about the administration’s profligate spending, and worry that raising taxes, as they agreed to in January, will put the nation back into recession. Mr. Obama believes that spending is the way to economic growth.
The president’s arrogant attempts to go around Congress and the excessive flow of regulation from the administration have alarmed administration watchers. Promises of “transparency” have proven to be ephemeral.
Answers about the “Fast and Furious” gunrunning scandal have not been forthcoming. Sensitive security information about the bin Laden raid was released to the media for political purposes. Obama told Defense Contractors to hide scheduled layoffs until after the election, breaking the law.
The attack on the Benghazi compound and the death of the ambassador, his technology aide, and two former SEAL team members was covered up, blamed on an obscure video, the filmmaker imprisoned on spurious charges, amid charges that the administration made no effort to save their lives during a seven-hour battle. The president was disinterested and went to bed, as did the Secretary of State.
It came to light that the president has a “kill list” of terrorists who could be eliminated by drones. A terrorist in Yemen who was killed turned out to be an American citizen. His young son who was an American citizen was also killed. Lots of questions were raised. Does the president have the authority to kill an American citizen, even if he is a suspected, or known, terrorist? Are there rules? And what are they?
News report: Homeland Security ordered 450 million rounds of ammunition for its 65,ooo armed personnel. In 2011, the FBI ordered up to 100 million bullets for its 13,913 agents. A tragic mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School brought demands to end “gun violence.” Posturing politicians like California’s Dianne Feinstein went after “assault weapons,” though no one could identify just what an assault weapon is — it seems to be entirely cosmetic. Americans saw this as an effort to repeal the Second Amendment, and rushed to gun dealers to buy weapons and stock up on ammunition. What did you expect?
President Obama made a series of nominations for major cabinet offices, and chose, for Defense, a former enlisted man who believes in eliminating nuclear weapons and seems not to understand our recent wars at all. Obama fired, or encouraged the departure of two of our top generals. And for CIA he chose a man who was apparently involved in running a secret operation in Benghazi that affected the attacks there, and who seemed incapable of answering simple direct questions.
The Department of Homeland Security bought 7,000 5.56 x45 NATO personal defense weapons (real assault weapons), both automatic and semi-automatic. DHS has also purchased 2,717 MRAP (Mine-Resistant Ambush-Protected) vehicles with gun ports, for use on American city streets. Why?
Overarmed federal officials are increasingly employing military tactics as a first resort in routine law enforcement. They are employing heavily armed SWAT teams against harmless, frequently innocent civilians who are accused of non-violent civil or administrative violations. Deroy Murdock enumerated some of the victims of over-armed military style agency attack.
If these separate actions and incidents have made many Americans a little paranoid, it’s hardly surprising. Governments have been brought down for less.
When Americans demand “transparency,” they actually mean it. The President and all his minions and our representatives in Congress work for us. They are not autocrats entitled to keep their actions secret. The oaths they take to defend the Constitution are not matters of tradition, but promises they make— in return for the offices we allow them to hold temporarily. They need to explain their actions. They are responsible to us.
The government has no money of its own. The funds they squander so carelessly came out of our pockets, and represent a vacation we couldn’t afford, a neglected repair for the house, a needed new appliance that will have to wait for another year. We didn’t elect them to “fundamentally transform” the United States of America. We elected them to preserve, protect and defend. and they’ve been doing a lousy job of it. We want straight answers, and ethical behavior.
Senator Rand Paul had some questions about John Brennan, the nominee to head the Central Intelligence Agency. He wrote to Mr. Brennan requesting some clarification of administration attitudes toward their powers of authorizing drone strikes against a U.S. citizen on U.S. soil , and without trial. This came in the wake of considerable talk about the use of drones in the United States, and the execution with a drone of an American Citizen and his family in Yemen. The administration handed the question over to Attorney General Eric Holder, who was incapable of giving a straight answer, as was nominee Brennan.
So Rand Paul filibustered the nomination. Eric Holder could not clarify the distinction between what is a matter of due process and what is war-making and subject to the rules of war. Democrats would not give a “Sense of the Senate” that drone attacks could not be made on American citizens on American territory.
It is to be hoped that the administration will gain some understanding of the problems that have been caused by their own lack of transparency, their refusal to give straight answers to straight questions, and a general arrogance that proclaims that they are our betters and are not answerable to us.
Filed under: Capitalism, Democrat Corruption, Domestic Policy, Economy, Freedom, Intelligence, Statism, Terrorism | Tags: Cybersecurity, Executive Orders, The President Cannot Make Law
On Tuesday, before 4:20 p.m., the White House emailed reporters that President Obama had signed a highly anticipated Executive Order aimed at protecting cyber security. The order is aimed at setting up new programs aimed at stopping online espionage and terrorism, was embargoed until after the State of the Union speech was delivered. The White House summary of the Executive Order is here.
The Heritage Foundation’s “The Foundry’ suggests that based on drafts that circulated, the executive order is apt to be highly flawed in its efforts to impose regulations on the dynamic cyber realm. It is a poor policy choice. Obama, the Foundry suggests, seems set on burning bridges with Congress by circumventing them on this issue.
The House easily passed the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA) which was designed to improve the sharing of information on cyber threats and vulnerabilities. The Senate and the administration insisted the cybersecurity regulations be the main feature of any bill. Many Senators thought regulations might actually hurt security, and impose large costs, encourage compliance, and failed to pass a regulatory bill. They wisely decided that regulation was not the way to go.
The president intends to go around Congress if they won’t pass what he wants them to. The Supreme Court, in the past, has indicated that laws are to come from Congress, that is their Constitutional function, and the White House does not get to make law. There’s a reason why the Constitution does not give that function to the Executive. Obama has made it clear that he has no respect for the constitutional separation of powers. Will this come to a showdown? Or will the new “regulations” subject us to an even worse attack, with no courageous group of computer geeks to take up the digital sword to defend us.?
I just finished reading Mark Bowden’s 2011 book: WORM: The First Digital World War. The Conficker worm infected its first computer in November 2008. Within a month, it had infiltrated 1.5 million computers in 195 countries. Banks, telecommunications companies and critical government networks, including the British Parliament and the French ad German military were infected. By January 2009, Conficker lay hidden in at least eight million computers, and the botnet of linked machines it had created was so large that an attack might crash the entire world internet, with unimaginable consequences.
Mark Bowden, of Black Hawk Down fame, has written of a gifted group of hackers, researchers, millionaire Internet entrepreneurs and computer security experts who took on the task of confronting the threat, tracking it down, and defending the world. He has managed to take the unintelligible world of computer language and turn it into a gripping tale of espionage and defenders in the first digital world war. There is, thank God, an extensive glossary, and a cast of characters (volunteers all), a great help to one whose eyes glaze over when the brilliant post I’m in the middle of crashes, amid cries of “help.” It’s a great read, and as compelling as any thriller.
The book also makes it crystal clear just why Congress was correct to refuse to pass a regulatory bill and why the President is completely wrong, and has undoubtedly damaged the security of the computer world. I recommend WORM highly.
Filed under: Democrat Corruption, Domestic Policy, Economy, Health Care, Progressivism | Tags: Executive Orders, NPHPPHC, Obamacare Bureaucracy
While all of the news last week was focused on the oil spill and the Gulf Coast, Barack Obama quietly signed an executive order to establish the National Prevention, Health Promotion and Public Health Council (NPHPPHC, or maybe this one doesn’t get an acronym).
The council will be headed by Surgeon General Dr. Regina Benjamin and includes 13 other luminaries like Janet Napolitano, Kathleen Sebelius, Hilda Solis, and Arne Duncan, who will oversee another 25 non-federal government officials to be appointed by Obama. They will be licensed health-care professionals with expertise in work site health promotion, community services, preventive medicine, health coaching, public health education, exercise, geriatric, and rehabilitation medicine.
Starting this year, the council will submit an annual report to the president and Congress that outlines the progress made with its efforts to advance health promotion and disease prevention. It is expected to address “lifestyle behavior modification” of the American people, including smoking cessation, proper nutrition, appropriate exercise, mental health, behavioral health, substance-use disorder, and domestic violence screenings, and whatever else catches their fancy.
All the news coming out about Obamacare has been resoundingly negative. It costs way more than it was supposed to, and it is unlikely to improve anyone’s health as care is sure to deteriorate and shortages of doctors are likely. So this is another little huge agency to add to the hundreds of additional agencies, corps, commissions, offices, departments, units, administrations, programs, panels, services, centers and bureaus, already created in the immense expansion of the proposed Obamacare bureaucracy. (Do click to enlarge the graphic image).
Like a fatal cancer, the cells of Obamacare just keep multiplying and destroying the last vestiges of life in our society.