Boehner Throws Small Business Owners Under The Bus In Order To Find Suit To File Against Obama

The weakness of Republican efforts to paint Barack Obama as a dictator who has been abusing his presidential powers have been shown to be a sham with John Boehner’s attempt to find grounds for a law suit against Obama. Boehner, in a desperate attempt to ward off the Tea Party fanatics who are pushing for impeachment, decided on filing a frivolous law suit against Obama instead. For years Republicans have made all sort of claims of executive overreach under Obama, after ignoring real cases of abuse of executive power under Bush and Cheney. With all their screaming of a dictatorial president out of control, all Boehner could come up with was a complaint that Obama postponed enforcing the penalties in the employer mandate contained in the Affordable Care Act by two years.

The biggest irony here is that Republicans opposed the Affordable Care Act and the employer mandate (despite previous Republican support for mandates before Obama called for them). Republicans are suing Obama for failing to enforce a law which they opposed. Obama granted the two year extension in order to make it easier for small business to comply with the Affordable Care Act. With this suit, Boehner and the House Republicans are taking a stand in opposition to the interests of small business owners.

Of course Republicans had no objection when George Bush made a similar delay durinig implementation of the Medicare D program. Clearly if there was any validity to any of the other Republican complaints against Obama’s use of power they would use a different case for the lawsuit. As Brian Buetler posted, John Boehner’s Lawsuit Against Obama Proves the President Isn’t Lawless.

Obama is correct in calling this a political stunt and had these comments on the do-nothing Congress:

As long as Congress will not increase wages for workers, I will go and talk to every business in America if I have to. There’s no denying a simple truth: America deserves a raise, and if you work full-time in this country, you shouldn’t live in poverty. That’s something that we all believe.

Now, here’s where it gets interesting. There are a number of Republicans, including a number in the Texas delegation, who are mad at me for taking these actions. They actually plan to sue me. Now, I don’t know which things they find most offensive — me helping to create jobs, or me raising wages, or me easing the student loan burdens, or me making sure women can find out whether they’re getting paid the same as men for doing the same job. I don’t know which of these actions really bug them.

The truth is, even with all the actions I’ve taken this year, I’m issuing executive orders at the lowest rate in more than 100 years. So it’s not clear how it is that Republicans didn’t seem to mind when President Bush took more executive actions than I did. Maybe it’s just me they don’t like. I don’t know. Maybe there’s some principle out there that I haven’t discerned, that I haven’t figure out. You hear some of them — ‘sue him,’ ‘impeach him.’ Really? Really? For what? You’re going to sue me for doing my job? Okay.

I mean, think about that. You’re going to use taxpayer money to sue me for doing my job — while you don’t do your job.

There’s a great movie called ‘The Departed’ — a little violent for kids. But there’s a scene in the movie where Mark Wahlberg — they’re on a stakeout and somehow the guy loses the guy that they’re tracking. And Wahlberg is all upset and yelling at the guy. And the guy looks up and he says, ‘Well, who are you?’ And Wahlberg says, ‘I’m the guy doing my job. You must be the other guy.’ Sometimes, I feel like saying to these guys, ‘I’m the guy doing my job, you must be the other guy.’

So rather than wage another political stunt that wastes time, wastes taxpayers’ money, I’ve got a better idea: Do something. If you’re mad at me for helping people on my own, let’s team up. Let’s pass some bills. Let’s help America together.

It is not clear what will become of this suit. The first question is whether the House has legal standing to file the suit. If it does proceed it is certainly possible that both Bush and Obama technically broke the law in extending deadlines independent of Congress. Even should there ever be a  ruling against Obama, it will not make much of a difference. By the time it works through the courts the issue will no longer matter as the temporary extension will be coming towards an end, if not already ended. It is over a pretty minor issue in the implementation of the Affordable Care Act and will have no bearing on the overall law. It is a pretty empty gesture by Boehner, but he has no real grounds to support right wing rhetoric that Obama has abused executive power.

Why McCain Is Losing And the Conservative Era Has Ended

Hugh Hewitt ignores the polls and argues that John McCain will close and win. It is a post worth reading to better understand why not only John McCain but the Republican Party is losing across the board, with similar arguments coming from McCain and Palin. Hewitt’s argument comes down to arguing that electing Obama is too great a risk, not only because of his inexperience but because of what Hewitt sees as far left policies. What the Republicans fail to understand is that they are losing because they have moved too far to the right for the American people, and what they see as far left is far closer to the middle of American opinion.

Obama is winning because he embodies common sense ideas which transcend the left-right divisions and which are in tune with those of the American people. On the economy, Obama offers pragmatism rather than ideological extremism. While Hewitt tries to portray Republicans as the defenders of “growth and capitalism’s essential genius” the reality is that their polices represent a stark break with our capitalist system, attempting to use government to transfer the wealth to a small oligarchy. Their economic principles, like their political principles, represent those of a banana republic, not the United States of American which most Americans remember. Obama, who receives much of his economic advice from the University of Chicago, hardly a bastion of socialism, is our best hope of restoring the economic system which has made American great, not for just a few but for entrepreneurs and all Americans who desire to work hard to get ahead.

Hewitt describes the foreign policy crises we face, but it is Republican policies which have weakened us and have seriously undermined American influence throughout the world. Americans know, as five previous secretaries of state recently stated, that we must talk with our enemies, as well as work with our friends.One of the most important decisions any president must make is over whether to go to war, and John McCain has showed that he lacks to judgment to be trusted on this. John McCain’s greater experience is worthless when his decisions are so flawed.

While Hewitt tries to paint Obama as a radical, his liberal values represent traditional American values. The use of torture is a violation of our values, and John McCain’s halfhearted opposition is not enough. Americans desire to restore the separation of powers which protect us from oppressive government, and do not want someone such as Sarah Palin who desires even more power than Dick Cheney and has a history of attempting to ban books to be a heartbeat away from the presidency.

Americans recognize the importance of the fourth estate and understand the danger of political leaders who repeatedly attack the free press. Claims that those in the media who expose them are biased only works for so long. If the media which fails to repeat their distorted view of the world appears to conservatives to be biased, this is only because, as Stephen Colbert put it, “reality has a well-known liberal bias.” Conservatives regularly ignore reality in their defense of the Iraq war, their Voodoo economics and claims that tax cuts always pay for themselves, their denial of evolution as the basis of modern biology, and in their denial of the scientific consensus on the human role in climate change. Hewitt’s reasons for why McCain will win are similarly a denial of reality.

Hewitt attempts to repeat the tired Republican claims of liberals being hostile to religion, confusing support for separation of church and state which our founding fathers wisely supported for hostility to religion. As Obama has pointed out, traditionally it has often been religious leaders who were the strongest defenders of separation of church and state, recognizing that this is essential to guarantee the right for everyone to worship as they choose. Americans are especially wary of a political party which panders to religious extremists to increase the power of government in their lives. Following the extremism of Republican rule, Obama’s experience in teaching Constitutional law is far more important in restoring the greatness of our nation than John McCain’s years of experience in failed Republican government.

The voters have been fooled by Hewitt’s arguments in the past. The loss of Congress by the Republicans in 2006 and Obama’s strong lead in the polls today show that they are catching on. These same old arguments are no longer fooling them. Smears based upon Wright, Ayers, and Rezko no longer work as voters want to hear about the real issues and are increasingly realizing that Republicans only know how to smear and have no idea how to govern. Besides, the same type of attacks tend to apply far more to Republicans than Democrats. Americans realize that voting for Obama doesn’t represent a “lurch to the left” but a return to normalcy after a period of having government in the hands of extremists.

Palin Annoyed By Couric, Wants More Power Than Cheney

Having failed in two interviews with network anchors and being limited to avoiding answers to questions in last night’s debate, the McCain campaign decided it would be safer to limit Palin to friendly interviewers, such as Fox and right wing talk radio. She might actually be of some help to the campaign there if she helps motivate people on the far right to get out to vote. Palin was interviewed by Carl Cameron of Fox and there has actually been a couple items of interest to come out of the interview.

Sarah Palin clearly preferred her interview on Fox as she said how Katie Couric annoyed her. That is hardly surprising as she did not like follow up questions which exposed the fact that she did not understand the issues being asked about.

The next item makes us relieved that in reality Palin will probably be used for nothing other than ceremonial events and outreach to the far right should McCain be elected. She elaborated on her statement during the debate regarding wanting more power for the vice president:

CAMERON: Would you change any of that, (INAUDIBLE) than the Bush/Cheney administration in terms of the power of the executive?

PALIN: Well, again, as I tried to explain last night, our executive branch will know what our job is. We have the three very distinct branches of government. You know, we might be bleeding our authority over to the Legislative or Judicial branch to do our job in the Executive branch as administers.

If Palin could be taken seriously, (or if she ever winds up with real power) she could present an even greater threat to separation of powers than Dick Cheney, who Biden referred to as “the most dangerous vice president we’ve had probably in American history.”

Edwards Continues To Show Lack Of Respect For Separation of Powers

Usually when politicians make a mistake they will have the sense to either drop the point (or sometimes try to rewrite history such as Bill Clinton on Iraq). One exception is John Edwards, who shows once again why Bob Shrum called him a “lightweight” and “a Clinton who hadn’t read the books” and why a National Journal survey ranked him as the most overrated Democratic candidate.

Edwards’ anti-Democratic threats against Congress should they fail to pass his flawed health care plan have been the subject of criticism both for being unrealistic as first proposed and for being far too similar to the Republican efforts to concentrate excessive power in the Executive Branch. When Edwards first brought up his threats the idea was generally laughed at but didn’t get very much attention. After raising this threat again in an ad in mid November, Edwards received wide spread criticism. Edwards has apparently learned nothing about how democratic nations work since his days of working on the Patriot Act.

Any sensible politician would realize it was time to drop the idea, but Edwards has decided to continue to play the authoritarian populist despite a steady drop in support which some, such as David Yepsen, see as a possible collapse. John Edwards repeated his threat in an interview on New Hampshire Public Radio.

Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards said it’s “absolute nonsense” to suggest he’s grandstanding with his vow to take government health coverage away from Congress if it fails to adopt a plan that insures all Americans.

“It is nonsense, absolute nonsense. We are going to have to have someone who goes in and shakes things up,” Edwards said Monday during “The Exchange with Laura Knoy” on New Hampshire Public Radio.

Critics of the former North Carolina senator point out it would take a change in federal law, not an executive order, to remove health care from Congress, which has the same plan as all federal government employees.

Edwards is currently tied with Bill Richardson for third place in New Hampshire, a state with libertarian leanings where his populist message is not as welcome as in Iowa.

The Supreme Court and the 2008 Elections

The New York Times looks at the impact of the 2008 elections on the make up of the Supreme Court. After all, this is on promise which George Bush did deliver on for his base:

President Bush’s promise to change the makeup of the Supreme Court was one of his most reliable applause lines, as candidate and as president. It energized conservative activists like few other issues, kept them going in the face of other disappointments, kept them loyal and focused on the long view.

The move to the right should make the Supreme Court an important issue for liberals, but so far Democrats have failed to capitalize on it:

Liberals have been warning of the dangers of a Bush court since his 2000 campaign against Al Gore, but it was never an easy issue to drive home, even among people who support much of the progressive agenda, analysts say.

Celinda Lake, a Democratic pollster who has studied public attitudes toward the court for Planned Parenthood and other groups, said it takes a long time to penetrate the public’s consciousness about the importance of the nine justices.

“They don’t know much about the court, they don’t understand lifetime appointments, they think each president can have an impact,” she added.

Mark Mellman, another Democratic pollster, said that in the past, “people had some confidence that the court was not going to change the way the country did business in dramatic ways.”

In other words, liberals were often warning about potential dangers to their agenda from a changing Supreme Court. The issue was not a hypothetical for conservatives, who felt devastated, over the years, by decisions from previous courts, most notably Roe v. Wade, the 1973 case declaring a constitutional right to abortion.

Now, some Democrats and their allies say they are hearing hypothetical worries turn to outrage, and not just in the Democratic cloakroom of the Senate. “The right has always been energized on this issue,” said Mr. Schumer. “The recent decisions have now energized the left.”

The more the Court moves the country to the right, the more aware voters will be of the need to prevent the far right from choosing more justices. This should not be limited to “people who support much of the progressive agenda.” The move to the far right provides reason for more than just the left to be concerned. Moderates who desire to preserve our civil liberties, abortion rights, and the separation of powers should also see the move by the Court to the far right as cause for concern. The average voter might not necessarily support, or even be aware of, what the Times considers “the progressive agenda” but would not like to see conservative changes in these vital areas. Democrats must make this case, and not simply argue that Democratic appointees are necessary to pursue a specific political agenda.

Conflict Between Congress and Bush Grows–Could It Lead to Impeachment?

While Democrats from Pelosi to Obama have recently been quoted as taking impeachment off the table, this does not mean that there won’t be significant battles to come between the Legislative and Executive branches:

The chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee said yesterday that he will attempt to cite the White House for criminal contempt of Congress if it does not turn over documents related to the firing of nine federal prosecutors.

“If they don’t cooperate, yes, I’d go that far,” Sen. Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.) said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “This is very important to the American people.”

Leahy’s comments raise the stakes in a growing conflict between the Democrat-controlled Congress and the Bush White House, suggesting that the constitutional clash may end up in a court case that could last beyond Bush’s tenure as president.

Congressional investigators want testimony, internal e-mails and other documents to clarify what role President Bush’s senior staff members played in the Justice Department’s removal of nine prosecutors last year. The firings have triggered bipartisan calls for Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales to resign.

The White House has refused congressional requests for information, asserting executive privilege, a claim invoked since George Washington’s time to mean that the separation of powers embodied in the Constitution allows each branch to operate freely from the control or supervision of the others.

In a letter sent last Friday to Leahy and House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers Jr. (D-Mich.), White House counsel Fred F. Fielding said the privacy of the documents must be respected to ensure that presidential advisers feel free to provide “candid and unfettered advice.”

This leaves it for Congress to respond:

Lawmakers have given the White House until next Monday to provide a signed letter from the president asserting executive privilege, as well as a description of each withheld document, a list of who has seen the documents and the legal basis for arguing that the documents may be shielded from public view.

Leahy’s committee last week issued more subpoenas to the White House, Justice Department and vice president’s office seeking information about the domestic eavesdropping program run by the National Security Agency.

The next step is for the congressional committee chairman to rule on the validity of the privilege claims. If the claims are deemed invalid, the committee can repeat the directive to comply. If the president continues to refuse, the committee can find the president in criminal contempt, and the issue would go to the full Senate or House. If a majority in either chamber approves the criminal citation, the matter is referred to a U.S. attorney with a recommendation to issue an indictment.

I wonder if there are enough U.S. attorneys left who would take on the White House in this manner. If Congress believes that George Bush has committed criminal contempt, the only alternative might be for Congress to seek an indictment in to form of impeachment.

Democrats May Subpoena Documents on NSA Domestic Wiretaps

The Democrats were placed in control of Congress last fall by those of us who wanted to see an end to the war, and to see the Bush administration held accountable for its violations of the law and the Constitution. So far we’ve been disappointed. The Democrats capitulated on financing the war, but there remains hope of a different outcome in September. Some investigations are under way, and some pre-war intelligence demonstrating that Bush ignored warnings of the inevitable outcome in Iraq were released, but we still await further investigations into Bush’s misleading of Congress and the country to get us into the war. In the latest attempts to investigate the actions of the Bush administration, The New York Times reports plans that Democrats may subpoena documents related to the NSA warrantless wiretaps:

Senior House Democrats threatened Thursday to issue subpoenas to obtain secret legal opinions and other documents from the Justice Department related to the National Security Agency’s domestic wiretapping program.

If the Democrats take that step, it would mark the most aggressive action yet by Congress in its oversight of the wiretapping program and could set the stage for a constitutional showdown over the separation of powers.

The subpoena threat came after a senior Justice Department official told a House judiciary subcommittee on Thursday that the department would not turn over the documents because of their confidential nature. But the official, Steven G. Bradbury, principal deputy assistant attorney general and head of the Justice Department’s office of legal counsel, did not assert executive privilege during the hearing.

The potential confrontation over the documents comes in the wake of gripping Senate testimony last month by a former deputy attorney general, James B. Comey, who described a confrontation in March 2004 between Justice Department and White House officials over the wiretapping program that took place in the hospital room of John Ashcroft, then attorney general. Mr. Comey’s testimony, disclosing the sharp disagreements in the Bush administration over the legality of some N.S.A. activities, has increased Congressional interest in scrutinizing the program.

At the same time, the Bush administration is seeking new legislation to expand its wiretapping powers under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. Democratic lawmakers in both the House and the Senate have argued that they do not want to vote on the issue without first seeing the administration’s legal opinions on the wiretapping program.

“How can we begin to consider FISA legislation when we don’t know what they are doing?” asked Representative Jerrold Nadler, Democrat of New York, who heads the subcommittee.

The Failed Attorney General: New York Times Calls on Bush to Dismiss Gonzales

The New York Times has called for the removal of Alberto Gonzales for his many failures:

During the hearing on his nomination as attorney general, Alberto Gonzales said he understood the difference between the job he held — President Bush’s in-house lawyer — and the job he wanted, which was to represent all Americans as their chief law enforcement officer and a key defender of the Constitution. Two years later, it is obvious Mr. Gonzales does not have a clue about the difference.

He has never stopped being consigliere to Mr. Bush’s imperial presidency. If anyone, outside Mr. Bush’s rapidly shrinking circle of enablers, still had doubts about that, the events of last week should have erased them.

First, there was Mr. Gonzales’s lame op-ed article in USA Today trying to defend the obviously politically motivated firing of eight United States attorneys, which he dismissed as an “overblown personnel matter.” Then his inspector general exposed the way the Federal Bureau of Investigation has been abusing yet another unnecessary new power that Mr. Gonzales helped wring out of the Republican-dominated Congress in the name of fighting terrorism.


Civics 101 For Conservatives

I’ve often noted the authoritarian tendencies of the right wing as they see the Executive Branch as above the law and ignore the separation of powers and checks and balances envisioned by the founding fathers. Blog Critics asks why our tax dollars are being spent to send Senators Kerry and Dodd to Damascus, and questions the fact that they are meeting with Syrian leaders writing, “I never knew that congress discussed foreign policy matters with the leaders of other nations, especially those who are considered to be America’s ‘enemies.'”

What they forget is that the government has three branches, and the duties of the Legislative Branch include both involvement in foreign policy and oversight of the Executive Branch. John Kerry and Christopher Dodd are both members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Here’s an overview of their responsibilities in an introduction written by the outgoing Republican Chairman of the committee:

Welcome to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee website. Our Committee is responsible for the foreign policy activities of the U.S. Senate. We evaluate all treaties with foreign governments; approve all diplomatic nominations; and write legislation pertaining to U.S. foreign policy, the State Department, Foreign Assistance programs, and many associated topics. I hope that you find this website to be a valuable resource in following our activities and understanding the role of the Senate in foreign policy.

Warrantless Wiretaps–A Felony Regardless of Precautions

Conservative bloggers are all hot and excited over the report yesterday that Bush’s hand picked lap dogs approved of his warrantless wiretaps. This was hardly a surprise. The panel consisted of four Republicans and one neoconservative Democrat with a history of bashing Democrats–sort of a Joe Lieberman without the prestige of a Senate seat. The panel found adequate safe guards to protect civil liberties, but that is hardly surprising. With such a biased panel, which lacked subpoena power, it is no surprise that they found nothing wrong. We could just as easily chose a panel of four liberal Democrats and one Repubican such as Congressman Bob Barr which would come to the opposite conclusion.

Even if there were adequate precautions in place to protect the civil liberties of Americans, this is not the point. The simple point here is that Congress specifically made such conduct a felony, and the Executive Branch is not above the law. The founding fathers established the separation of powers for good reason. Even if a President is currently breaking the law is not violating the civil liberties of Americans, there is no assurance the next President won’t. This is not a matter of being a Bush supporter or opponent, but of a basic respect for the rule of law.