Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is making moves to advance his filibuster reform plan for executive branch nominees, despite his January promise to leave the filibuster alone during this Congress.
On Wednesday, Reid refused to pledge not to exercise the so-called nuclear option after demands from Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. The nuclear option would allow filibusters to be broken by a simple majority vote of 51 senators instead of the current required supermajority of 60 votes.
McConnell argued against the move, stating that Republicans have not blocked a single executive nominee this year.
But Reid has already met with about two dozen Democrats to discuss the issue, according to Politico. His main targets are senators who have experienced life in the minority party and are therefore skeptical to changes.
Some Democrats, like Senator Jay Rockefeller, are wary of changing the filibuster rules because they fear Republicans, once in control of Congress once more, while use the nuclear option to repeal Obamacare.
“If they take over the White House and the Senate, they will get rid of the healthcare bill in a shot. We can do business the way we are,” said Rockefeller, according to Politico.
McConnell referred to Reid’s filibuster fight as part of the Democratic “culture of intimidation.”
“Their view is you had better confirm the people we want when we want them, or we’ll break the rules of the Senate to change the rules so you can’t stop us,” McConnell said.
Reid must be wary in his further advances for filibuster reform, for he risks losing Republican support with the immigration bill on the Senate floor over the summer.
Still, he accused Republicans of ignoring the Founders’ intent “by creating… an unworkable standard whereby the weakest of rationales is often cited as sufficient basis for blocking major nominees.
With several Democrats hesitant, it seems fairly certain that Reid’s fight won’t reach the floor anytime soon.
A few nominations that have faced delays for Senate votes include positions in the Environmental Protection Agency, the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the National Labor Relations Board, and the Consumer Product Safety Commission.
OK, so that’s a paraphrase. Here’s what the New York mayoral candidate actually said, on WNYC this morning: “It is what it is.…People may decide they want to come forward and say, here’s another email that I got or another photo. But I’m certainly not going to do that. So people may hear things that are true, they may hear things that are not true, but I’m going to try to keep leaning forward and talking about the issues that are important to New York City.”
In January, Rush Limbaugh warned that there was “an effort under way to normalize pedophilia,” and was ridiculed by liberals (including CNN’s Soledad O’Brien) for saying so. But now liberals have joined a crusade that, if succeesful, would effectively legalize sex with 14-year-olds in Florida.
The case involves Kaitlyn Ashley Hunt, an 18-year-old in Sebastian, Florida, who was arrested in February after admitting that she had a lesbian affair with a 14-year high-school freshman. (Click here to read the affidavit in Hunt’s arrest.) It is a felony in Florida to have sex with 14-year-olds. Hunt was expelled from Sebastian High School — where she and the younger girl had sex in a restroom stall — and charged with two counts of “felony lewd and lascivious battery on a child.” The charges could put Hunt in prison for up to 15 years. Prosecutors have offered Hunt a plea bargain that would spare her jail time, but her supporters have organized an online crusade to have her let off scot-free — in effect, nullifying Florida’s law, which sets the age of consent at 16.
Using the slogan “Stop the Hate, Free Kate” (the Twitter hashtag is #FreeKate) this social-media campaign has attracted the support of liberals including Chris Hayes of MSNBC, Daily Kos, Think Progress and the gay-rights group Equality Florida. Undoubtedly, part of the appeal of the case is that Hunt is a petite attractive green-eyed blonde. One critic wondered on Twitter how long activists have “been waiting for a properly photogenic poster child of the correct gender to come along?”
Portraying Hunt as the victim of prejudice, her supporters claim she was only prosecuted because she is homosexual and because the parents of the unnamed 14-year-old are “bigoted religious zealots,” as Hunt’s mother said in a poorly written Facebook post. The apparent public-relations strategy was described by Matthew Philbin of Newsbusters: “If you can play the gay card, you immediately trigger knee-jerk support from the liberal media and homosexual activists anxious to topple any and all rules regarding sex.”
None of Hunt’s supporters seem to care about the possible consequences of issuing what Philbin calls a “Get Out of Jail Free” card to their teenage lesbian hero-victim. Some have deliberately falsified the narrative of Hunt’s crime, claiming that the sexual relationship began when she was 17, when in fact Hunt turned 18 last August and the incidents at issue occurred between November and January. According to the arrest affidavit, the 14-year-old ran away from home on Jan. 4 and spent the night at Hunt’s home where, in the words of a Sheriff’s Department detective, the two teens “put their fingers inside of each other’s vaginas, put their mouths on each other’s vaginas, and both of them used a vibrator on each other to insert it in each other’s vaginas.”
This is “behavior that is both fairly innocuous and extremely common,” the American Civil Liberties Union declared Tuesday in a statement condemning the prosecution of Hunt. The ACLU statement parrots the arguments of all the other “Free Kate” crusaders who emphasize that the sex between Hunt and the 14-year-old was consensual, and who are apparently indifferent (or even openly hostile) to the right of parents to safeguard their minor children against sexual exploitation. The liberal Daily Kos blog goes so far as to proclaim that officials are “prosecuting an 18-year-old for being in love.”
This confusing clamor from Hunt’s liberal supporters has nearly drowned out the common-sense caution expressed by Florida authorities. “If this was an 18-year-old male and that was a 14-year-old girl, it would have been prosecuted the same way,” Indian River County Sheriff Deryl Loar told reporters at a Monday news conference. The state’s attorney for the district, Bruce Colton, explained: “The idea is to protect people in that vulnerable group from people who are older, 18 and above. … The statute specifically says that consent is not a defense. … You’re talking the difference between a senior in high school and a freshman in high school. That’s what the law is designed to protect.”
Prosecutors in the case are apparently determined to resist the politically correct demands of the ACLU, MSNBC and other liberals who don’t care about the precedent that might be set by nullifying Florida’s age of consent laws. What is remarkable — and alarming to many parents — is that liberals appear to be unashamed to argue for legalizing sex with 14-year-olds. Such arguments are a logical result of the Supreme Court’s 2003 Lawrence v. Texas ruling that cited an “emerging awareness” doctrine as the basis for overturning state sodomy laws. Who knows in which direction this awareness might further emerge?
As I remarked after learning of the Hunt case yesterday, “You deviant weirdos thought Jailbait Lesbian School Girls was just a popular DVD title, but now it’s a civil right.”
“In this sad world of ours, sorrow comes to all; and, to the young, it comes with bitterest agony, because it takes them unawares. The older have learned to ever expect it.” –Abraham Lincoln
Feature of the Day: Amazon Is Planning a Massive Biodome HQ So No One Ever Has To Leave
New York Times
Wall Street Journal
New York Times
Wall Street Journal
Top Conservative Stories of the Day:
The American Conservative
The Daily Caller
Washington Free Beacon
Top Liberal Stories of the Day:
The Daily Beast
Talking Points Memo
As I mentioned in my blog note last evening, I would support giving immunity to Lois Lerner if that’s what it takes to get her to testify about the true source of the orders to the IRS to target conservative and Tea Party groups.
Once upon a time I was a naval officer. There was a saying back then, to the effect that you can delegate authority, but you cannot delegate responsibility.
What did that mean, you ask? Well, the example you’d hear in junior officer training was that the captain of the ship can give you the authority, for example as “officer of the deck” when underway, to give orders to steer a certain course and speed and to deal with any emergencies that arise. But, whatever happens, the ship is the captain’s responsibility.
So, if the ship was at anchor outside a harbor somewhere, and the captain left you in charge as the watch officer while he went ashore for dinner, you had the authority to take such actions as you deemed prudent. If a storm came up and the ship began to drag its anchor, you were authorized to take steps to prevent a mishap. But, if notwithstanding your efforts the ship drifted and ran aground, the captain was responsible.
This was a real life rule. If the ship ran aground, the captain’s career went with it. Maybe your career as well, along with anyone in the crew who was negligent. But the captain? He was toast.
This was a harsh rule, unforgiving, and its application might seem unfair in some circumstances. But it created the right incentives, as I’m sure you can understand.
Today, at least in the public sector, we have unfortunately and conspicuously abandoned this rule. So last fall, our Secretary of State gives a talk about Benghazi saying that she accepts responsibility. But she is not serious, for she follows that statement by what is in effect a denial of responsibility, insisting that no consequences should ensue.
Our President does the same, and to this day we don’t know exactly where he was or what he said or failed to say that fateful night. We only know that Americans died that night, that forces ready to go to the rescue were ordered to stand down, and that mysteriously no one is accountable. Well, except for the producer of a video seen by no one, which produced attacks extraordinarily well coordinated considering they were spontaneous.
And it is the same with the IRS. We behold this week a circus like atmosphere in Congressional hearings, where exasperated members of Congress are confronted by witnesses who know nothing, recall nothing, and regret nothing. A stone wall. One after another, witnesses claim that, although technically responsible for the actions of IRS offices under their supervision, they really didn’t know what was happening. Thus a systematic operation to intimidate and harass law abiding American citizens, who sought to exercise their First Amendment right to engage in political speech, was carried out for over two years, across two election cycles, and may well have had a decisive effect on the 2012 presidential election.
And today, who can say about the military? It’s not so clear that the rule applies even there, when commanders relieved for seeking to send aid to the embattled retire and remain silent. How about a sense of responsibility? A sense of honor?
At every turn, people with responsibility claim that they should not be held accountable, because they chose to look the other way. They knew better. And so do we. We should be rid of them, and of all the politicians who give them aid and comfort.
Earlier today, when House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA) allowed IRS scoundrel Lois Lerner to stop testifying after she “took the Fifth,” I said that Issa had made a mistake.
He should have made her stay and answer, even if her answers were continuing to take the Fifth, if only for the political spectacle.
My assertion stood as my opinion even separate from the statement by Congressman Trey Gowdy (R-SC) that by making an opening statement, essentially asserting that she had done nothing wrong, Lerner had waived her Fifth Amendment rights.
No doubt Rep. Issa heard a barrage of similar comments from the political right (and I’d like to hope that his staff saw the Twitter posting related to my opinion.)
Liberal attorney Alan Dershowitz has now opined of Lerner that “She’s in trouble. She can be held in contempt.”
So it is gratifying for multiple reasons that, according to reports, Issa will recall Lerner to testify. She will be told, presumably, that she cannot take the Fifth. My guess is that she will do so anyway, leading to a lawsuit between her lawyers and the Committee’s lawyers. It should be a beautiful thing to watch, making Jay Carney squirm every step of the way.
While Dershowitz seems to agree with Gowdy, other attorneys disagree. Should make for an interesting time in early June.
It would be OK with me if the Committee offers immunity to Lerner if she agrees to testify where the orders to target conservative groups came from, as long as the deal also comes with her losing her job.
Congratulations to Congressman Issa for reconsidering. It takes a big man to admit he was wrong in so public a forum, and then to do the right thing.
I first found out about today’s terrorist attack in London via Ross’ post.
My first thought is that this isn’t the first act of Islamic terrorism in Britain and it won’t be the last.
It has been widely reported that the man who was murdered in broad daylight was a British soldier. Sadly, American soldiers are not unfamiliar with these types of attacks. There was the murder of Private William Long outside a military recruitment center in Arkansas by a Muslim convert in June 2009. Abdulhakim Muhammad (formerly known as Carlos Bledsoe) shouted “Allahu Akbar” as he was led into the courthouse. In March 2011, two U.S. Airmen were shot dead at the Frankfurt Airport by a German born Muslim of Kosovar origin. The gunman shouted, “Allahu Akbar” as he fired.
And lest we forget Fort Hood where Nidal Malik Hassan shouted “Allahu Akbar” as he gunned down 12 military personnel and one civilian.
British Prime Minister David Cameron has said there are “strong indications that this is a terrorist incident.” If this attack had occurred in the United States, President Obama not only would not have described it as a terrorist attack; he would have characterized it as streetplace violence.
Finally, a comment on Ross’ post itself. He concluded the post by writing, “Time to start deporting Muslims from England.”
Unfortunately, it isn’t as simple as all that. At this point, the two men who perpretrated this attack have yet to be identified. When they are don’t be surprised if they were U.K. born and raised. Let us not forget that three of the four men responsible for the London Underground Bombings on July 7, 2005 were born in Britain.
This isn’t to say that unchecked immigration isn’t part of the problem especially with clerics like Abu Qatada spreading jihad to eager audiences in the U.K. The problem is that the U.K. has been trying to deport Qatada without success for seven years. Qatada may soon be deported to Jordan where he faces terrorism charges but that was supposed to happen six years ago. So Lord only knows if that will ever happen.
But even if Qatada is deported, their ideas and influence remain amongst British Muslims regardless of where they were born and regardless if they were born Muslim. The surest way to counter these ideas would be the re-assertion of British values of liberty. The problem is there may not be anyone in Britain willing to re-assert those values.
For the University of Mobile’s Center for Leadership, I put the current media-chilling narrative in broader perspective.
But now it’s not just freedom of the press that seems threatened by a government that some people fear is becoming too powerful. As I’ve written herebefore, freedom of religion also has come increasingly under attack. Fortunately, the federal courts so far seem to be keeping government in its place more often than not - and the Supreme Court in a strong, unanimous decision ruled that churches and faith-based institutions do indeed enjoy First Amendment protections against government interference in their choices of “ministers” (and other employees who perform faith-related functions).
Alas, (moving back to free speech), one Supreme Court Justice actually has written that speech rights are to be “doled out” by government, presumably at the government’s discretion. And a recent Alabama columnist even opined, in admiration but obvious confusion, that “governments g[i]ve … rights and demanded obligations.” This is precisely backwards: The American creed always has been that we already own our rights, and we demand obligations from government to help secure those pre-existing rights from outside attack.
And I didn’t even discuss how the IRS abuses are, in effect, an attack on the freedom of groups to petition their government for redress of grievances…..
Members of both parties expressed a strong interest in protecting constitutional rights while prosecuting the war on terror at a House Judiciary Committee hearing Wednesday.
The sparsely attended event touched on fundamental issues of liberty and security. Chairman Robert Goodlatte (R-Va.) began by singling out the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act, which, along with the original Authorization for Use of Military Force after 9/11, could be interpreted as permitting the indefinite detention of American citizens without trial if they were party to terrorist activity.
“The mere notion that this authority exists is troubling in and of itself,” Goodlatte said, unsatisfied by the Obama administration’s assurance that it would never actually indefinitely detain citizens, “and I believe that this body should make clear that citizens of this nation cannot be detained without receiving all of their due process rights in an Article III court.”
Ranking member John Conyers (D-Mich.) concurred, saying Madison’s warning that war is the greatest threat to liberty has been ignored. The hearing was convened on the matter of U.S. citizens’ constitutional rights, but Conyers proposed to consider non-citizens’ rights as well, and noted that the Constitution protects individuals detained anywhere in the world by the United States. This sentiment was earnestly affirmed by Chairman Goodlatte and undergirded the larger discussion.
Conyers and many other members zeroed in on the Boston Marathon Bombing in discussing the balance between the constitutional right to due process and the public safety interest in extracting information from suspects. Unless they are independently corroborated, a suspect’s statments are only admissible in court if he or she has been Mirandized, informed of the right to remain silent, etc. However, other considerations, such as presentment, also complicate the question of due process vis-a-vis lawful interrogation.
Brookings Institute Senior Fellow Benjamin Wittes encapsulated the fundamental issue: “I think there are things Congress can do to add flexibility on that issue [of presentment], but at the end of the day we are dealing with people’s constitutional rights and sometimes they will assert them,” he said, later adding, “That has consequences and sometimes those consequences are intelligence loss.”
Overall the mood among the assembled witnesses was optimistic. By consensus, robust frameworks have been established since 9/11 to allow the traditional justice system to handle cases with bearing on national security. The key issue moving forward is ensuring that this framework, not a completely novel military detainee paradigm, can function effectively.
A key development today in the evolving story of America’s overseas targeted killing program. The White House has officially acknowledged the killing of four of its own citizens with unmanned aerial systems, popularly known as drones. The New York Times reports:
In a letter to Congressional leaders obtained by The New York Times, Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. disclosed that the administration had deliberately killed Anwar al-Awlaki, a radical Muslim cleric who was killed in a drone strike in September 2011 in Yemen.
Tomorrow President Obama will give a speech about targeted killings, as well as the military detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. These gestures signal a new openness about the drone program; the executive branch only recently began acknowledging its existence.
With the hornets nest of conservative and libertarian anger which Colorado Governor John “I’m a moderate” Hickenlooper stirred up by supporting a raft of anti-gun legislation in this once-red state, I thought there was little chance he would pardon or commute the sentence of Nathan Dunlap. Particularly since Hickenlooper made sure that a bill ending the death penalty in Colorado did not get a vote in the state legislature.
Today, with a “temporary reprieve,” the governor may have just done the politically unthinkable: He has made it possible for a Republican to beat him in 2014.
Nathan Dunlap shot five people, killing four of them, in a Chuck E. Cheese restaurant in Aurora, Colorado in 1993. He later said that killing the people was “better than sex.”
Hickenlooper says that the time since the conviction has given “the benefit of information that exposes an inequitable system.” Whether or not the system is inequitable is not relevant. There is no question as to Dunlap’s guilt. Zero, nada, zilch. He did it, and he was proud of it.
He deserves to die.
George Brauchler, the recently elected District Attorney of the judicial district where Dunlap was convicted, and where the mass-murderer James Holmes is soon to face trial, has argued that “justice demands the death of Nathan Dunlap.” I couldn’t agree more.
The parents of Dunlap’s victims are rightfully furious.
Furthermore, if Dunlap doesn’t deserve death, then what is the purpose of having a death penalty in Colorado?
How about also pardoning the other people on death row here, including one who murdered the son of Colorado State Representative Rhonda Fields?
As usual, Hickenlooper wants to have it both ways: By doing this by executive order, and as reprieve, it means a future governor could undo today’s move and send Nathan Dunlap to his just reward unless Hickenlooper does something more permanent before leaving office.
My prediction: This will make many Coloradoans, not just Republicans, extremely angry. And it will cause several Republican gubernatorial hopefuls who had been on the sidelines because Hickenlooper had seemed extremely difficult to beat now put their hats in the ring. The number one campaign slogan for the eventual Republican nominee: “I promise that Nathan Dunlap will get what he deserves.”
One thing which occurred to me when the anti-gun legislation was being shoved down the throats of unwilling Coloradoans was this: Hickenlooper is aiming to get a high-paying job working for Michael Bloomberg.
Today’s events make me think I may not have been unduly conspiracy-minded after all.
John Hickenlooper just stabbed his state, and the justice system, in the back. Now it’s time to hope that voters do the same to his political career in 18 months, and return this state to some sense of sanity.
There’s a fine line between brave and stupid, and I’m always grateful when the hilarious Steven Crowder gets close to crossing it. (Whether he’s actually crossed it or not is probably up to the viewer, though I imagine certain folks — no description needed — will take this much worse than others.)
But particularly in light of Wednesday’s horrific murder of a British soldier by immigrant Muslims in London, Crowder’s latest video comparing Jesus to Muhammad deserves a viewing (or two or three.)
Opponents of this particular form of satire will not only be working to get the video removed from YouTube, but following a prior “Qur’an Challenge” video (also a great use of a few minutes of your time), Crowder received death threats. The second comment on the YouTube page for the newest video says “i hope you die choking on ur own blood.” (sic)
This is the world we live in today, where our enemies are emboldened by an American president who refuses to name, or even identify, an evil which is intent on destroying modern civilization.
At least, with that sober thought in the background, Steven Crowder can always make us laugh.
One of the fundamental and most memorable lessons in economics, regarding specialization and cooperation, is captured in Leonard Read’s 1958 essay, I, Pencil.
Milton Friedman also popularized the idea and the Competitve Enterprise Institute made a short film of the same name.
Today, my contribution to economic theory, the Kaminsky Corollary to I,Pencil:
No individual person can make a pencil, but a single puppy can destroy them with remarkable efficiency.
(Does this imply that a puppy is more powerful than all of mankind?)
Iranian soldiers are fighting alongside troops supporting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and Hezbollah troops, according to a State Department official.
The Washington Post is reporting:
An unknown number of Iranians are fighting inside Syria, the official said, citing accounts from opposition forces supported by Western and Arab governments. The official spoke on the condition of anonymity to preview a strategy session that Secretary of State John F. Kerry will hold Wednesday with key opposition supporters.
Syrian rebels have claimed for weeks that Iran is sending trained fighters to the Syrian civil war, and Iran-backed Hezbollah has said baldly that it will not let Assad fall.
Obama has already let the Assad regime cross his red line on using chemical weapons, so it’s hard to imagine he’ll care about this.
Someone who might care? Benjamin Netanyahu, the prime minister of Israel. Israel, which shares a border with Syria, has already taken military action there. Earlier this month, the Israelis bombed a Syrian research facility and a missile shipment to Iranian-backed Hezbollah. This week, Israeli troops near the Syrian border faced a direct hit from Syria, one of a number of encounters that have occurred in recent months.
Israel already has well-founded concerns about Iran, so knowledge that Iran has soldiers in a country that Israel borders and with which it has had recent violent conflict is another step in the wrong direction. Israel has shown that it isn’t afraid to take action when it needs to, so this is definitely a situation to watch carefully.
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?