Pres. Obama vows to “fix” immigration problems “without Congress”

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King Obama

Image via Salon.com

Wish I could say I was surprised by this:

President Obama vowed Monday to bypass Congress and pursue unilateral changes to the country’s immigration system, defying House Republicans who say his executive actions are part of the problem. 

The president, speaking in the Rose Garden, said he is forced to go it alone because the House has failed to act on a comprehensive overhaul. He said Speaker John Boehner informed him last week the House will not vote on an immigration bill this year. 

“America cannot wait forever for them to act,” Obama said. He said he’s launching a new effort to “fix as much of our immigration system as I can, on my own, without Congress.” 

The president’s announcement is sure to infuriate congressional Republicans. Obama is pushing for new executive actions in defiance of Boehner’s vow last week to pursue a lawsuit against the president over alleged executive overreach. Even before Monday’s announcement, Boehner and his colleagues alleged that the president has gone too far in making changes without Congress to immigration policy, the Affordable Care Act, environmental regulations and other issues. 

[…]

As for his conversation last week with the president, Boehner said he only told Obama what he’s been saying for months: that until the public and elected officials trust him to enforce the law, “it is going to be difficult to make progress on this issue.” 

Obama, though, said he would still prefer to seek changes via Congress, and he’d continue to press the House to act. 

But for the time being, the president announced two steps. First, he’s directed Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson and Attorney General Eric Holder to move “available resources” from the interior to the border to address security. Further, the president said he’s directed a team to “identify additional actions my administration can take on our own within my existing legal authorities to do what Congress refuses to do and fix as much of our immigration system as we can.” 

The usual arguments about the President’s routine and disturbing tendencies to act unilaterally without Congressional approval apply, but there’s something else at play here as well – which you won’t see any op/eds written about in the New York Times. And it’s not rocket science:  Obama and Congressional Republicans are at constant odds because of the President’s – and Senator Harry Reid’s – failure to demonstrate leadership in compromising with the opposition.   We have a divided government.   The US House is controlled by Republicans.  The US Senate is controlled by Democrats.  The President and Reid continually demand that the House make all the concessions when it comes to key and critical legislation they want to pass, and if they don’t slide far enough to the left, they’re “obstructionists.” Well, what about Reid and Senate Democrats who refuse to “meet in the middle”?

Bill Clinton and Ronald Reagan both worked with Congresses that were largely hostile to their agendas but they still ultimately got things done, even if it wasn’t always (and it frequently wasn’t) exactly what they wanted.  Our current President can’t make that same claim – because he doesn’t know how to lead and never has.  For all that talk about “bridging the partisan divide” in 2008, he has little to show for it.  He can blame the House GOP all he wants to, but the truth of the matter is that Obama is not much for compromise nor disagreement, and he won’t let a little thing like Congress stand in his way.  What the President should really be doing when playing the “woe is me” blame game is looking straight into a mirror, because that’s where the lion’s share of the problem exists.

Liberal freak-out commences in the aftermath of #SCOTUS Hobby Lobby ruling

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Panic button

I had a million things going on today so I wasn’t around much in the immediate aftermath of today’s Supreme Court ruling on the Hobby Lobby case, but it was pretty predictable how the left would react if the court didn’t rule in favor of the Obama administration’s position on the so-called “birth control mandate.” Just to recap, the court ruled in favor of Hobby Lobby’s position:

The Supreme Court ruled Monday that certain “closely held” for-profit businesses can cite religious objections in order to opt out of a requirement in ObamaCare to provide free contraceptive coverage for their employees.

The 5-4 decision, in favor of arts-and-crafts chain Hobby Lobby and one other company, marks the first time the court has ruled that for-profit businesses can cite religious views under federal law. It also is a blow to a provision of the Affordable Care Act which President Obama’s supporters touted heavily during the 2012 presidential campaign.

“Today is a great day for religious liberty,” Adele Keim, counsel at The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty which represented Hobby Lobby, told Fox News.

The ruling was one of two final rulings to come down on Monday, as the justices wrapped up their work for the session. The other reined in the ability of unions to collect dues from home health care workers.

Justice Samuel Alito wrote the majority opinion in the ObamaCare case, finding the contraceptive mandate in its current form “unlawful.” The court’s four liberal justices dissented.

In other words, it was a bad day all around (again) for liberals when it comes to Supreme Court verdicts. The first wave of bad news hit last Thursday with their rulings against President Obama’s recess appointments position as well as striking down the Massachusetts abortion clinic “buffer zone law” on First Amendment grounds.

Understandably, Thursday was bad enough but today’s “setbacks” for the left were too much for some to bear, and they lashed out in a big way.   Sean Davis at The Federalist blog compiled a tweet round-up (with responses) of some of the most ridiculous arguments coming from high profile Democrats in the aftermath of SCOTUS’ majority opinion on Hobby Lobby, while Twitchy Team took left-wing Twitter’s temperature earlier today after all was said and done and found more than a few folks, er, hot under the collar.

Probably the dumbest Tweet of the day was a quote from – surprise – Senator Harry Reid:


Because only five (liberal) female Supreme Court justices would be able to “correctly” interpret the US Constitution in cases involving “women’s rights”, right? *insert eye roll here*

Open Thread: #SCOTUS Hobby Lobby ruling

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SCOTUS

The interior of the United States Supreme Court.

As I noted yesterday, the Supreme Court is expected to announce today their verdict in the Hobby Lobby religious freedom case, which pits the family-owned company against the Obama administration’s Obamacare “birth control mandate.” The Hill provides a preview of what’s ahead:

The boundaries of religious freedom hang in the balance as the Supreme Court prepares to close out its term with a decision on the Affordable Care Act’s “birth control mandate.”

Monday’s ruling, the most closely watched of the season, decides round two for ObamaCare at the high court, and will be the second time that the justices will close their term with a ruling on President Obama’s signature law.

The stakes are high. A ruling against the administration could undermine the statute’s provision requiring companies to offer contraceptive services to workers as part of their insurance coverage.

It would peel away a significant portion of the mandate, potentially affecting preventive health coverage for millions of women, the government and backers of the law say.

Perhaps even more important, they contend, are the ramifications of a finding that corporations could be exempt from federal statutes on grounds that they have religious objections.

“This really is about whether or not employers based on religious views can pick and choose which federal laws to follow and not follow,” Kathleen Sebelius, who guided the law’s rollout through rough political waters during her turbulent tenure as Obama’s health secretary, said Friday.

Critics of the provision are on equally sharp tenterhooks in advance of the ruling, which will strike at the very root of the Constitution’s First Amendment.

The consolidated case, generally known as Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby, centers on challenges to the contraception mandate brought by a pair of companies: the Hobby Lobby craft store chain and Conestoga Woods Specialties, a Pennsylvania-based cabinetmaker.

The firms and like-minded critics of the mandate say it violates both the First Amendment’s free exercise clause and the 1993 Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), which provides that, “government shall not substantially burden a person’s exercise of religion.”

That statue trumps the contraception rule, argues Noel J. Francisco, a partner at Jones Day, who has represented business interests before the Supreme Court and chairs the firm’s government regulations practice.

“That regulation, like all regulations is subordinate to RFRA, which is a law,” he said, asserting that Congress approved the measure “to protect against this kind of thing.”

10 a.m. ET today is when we’ll find out. Please make sure to check SCOTUSblog’s live blog of proceedings as well as their Twitter feed in order to stay updated on the latest news regarding the high court’s ruling on this case. And no doubt all the major 24 hour news networks like Fox News, CNN, and MSNBC will be providing news and analysis of today’s verdict in real-time.  Also, please feel free to use this as an open thread to express your opinion on both the ruling and its implications going forward.

Lois Lerner’s attorney: She tried to retrieve lost #IRS emails

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Lois Lerner

Lois Lerner

Not a believable story, in my humble opinion. Via Fox News:

The attorney for ex-IRS official Lois Lerner claimed Sunday that his client “did everything she could” to retrieve emails and other files after an apparent computer crash in 2011, though he did not venture an explanation as to why the agency went so far as to destroy her hard drive after the meltdown. 

The comments from William Taylor come as Republicans escalate their probe into how those files disappeared. 

The IRS stunned GOP lawmakers earlier this month after claiming Lerner’s computer failed in 2011, and an untold number of emails from 2009 to 2011 were lost in the process. Republicans want those emails as part of their investigation into Lerner’s role in the targeting of Tea Party and other conservative groups. 

Taylor, though, claimed Republicans are playing “election-year politics” and looking for a “demon that they can create.”  He said the record of Lerner’s hard-drive crash is “undisputed.” 

“She walked into the office one day, and her screen went blue. She asked for help in restoring it.  And the IT people came and attempted to restore it,” Taylor told CNN’s “State of the Union.” “They even went so far as to send it to another expert to try to restore the emails.” 

He claimed “nobody was thinking about trying to keep anything from being discovered.” 

“She did everything she could to retrieve it. She reported it right away, and that’s the story,” Taylor said. 

Some Republicans and computer experts, though, have questioned how hard Lerner and the agency really tried to retrieve the missing emails. Email discussions from the time of Lerner’s crash, provided by the IRS, show Lerner asking for help retrieving “personal” files, but include no mention of missing emails. 

They also question why the hard drive itself was, as IRS Commissioner John Koskinen has claimed, destroyed without any record of her files from backup tapes

And that, friends, is the million dollar question.

I firmly believe that there are very few coincidences when it comes to the government – especially, in this case, considering how Republicans had been after those emails for months only to be recently told that the hard drive had mysteriously “crashed” and that critical emails for a two year period between Lerner and key Democrats were somehow lost and could never be recovered.   Don’t buy it.

Lerner’s attorney’s explanation doesn’t pass the smell test, and I still smell a rat.   Issa won’t fall for it, either.  As they say, stay tuned.