Category Archives: Amendments

Shutting off the path to the federal trough


The wealth of individual members of Congress is staggering, yet they seem to have overlooked including themselves in their plans for financial rehab.

Perhaps they’re handling the notion of pulling themselves off the public dole like one would an addiction — slowly but with purpose. Continuing to suck up taxpayer dollars when they themselves are filthy rich yet lecture us daily about wage gaps and social inequality can only be explained if they’re drunk or high.

We know the wealth ex-presidents jumps once they leave office, but what about members of Congress? Every year Roll Call reports on congressional wealth, informing us that in 2014, the combined net worth of members of Congress jumped $150 million to $2.1 billion. They note it took a net worth of $7.4 million to “crack the exclusive club” of Congress. Other gems from the Roll Call analysis:

There are “188 millionaires — about a third of Congress — up from 185 the previous year. The median lawmaker on our ranking has a minimum net worth of $456,522. The minimum net worth of the Senate is nearly $570 million, with 50 senators topping $1 million. The House has a minimum net worth of $1.53 billion, with at least 138 millionaires but a median of just $338,000.”

Once they leave Congress, these rather well-off individuals then tend to become lobbyists, making even more money than before. Breitbart reports, “In 1974, just 3 percent of retiring members of Congress became lobbyists. Today, 50 percent of retiring senators and 42 percent of retiring House members stay in D.C. and become lobbyists. The more than 1,500 percent increase goes a long way toward explaining how an entrenched, permanent political class has risen in D.C.”

Not only a permanent political class, but even more wealth for a group already swimming in taxpayer dough. I genuinely appreciate Mr. Chaffetz’s efforts to end the presidential millionaire welfare paid for by taxpayers, but once that is passed (and it better pass), they need to extend the means-testing to themselves.

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Filed under "Transparency", Amendments, Economics, Government, Politics

GOP Finally Has Tool to Repeal ObamaCare


Over the next two weeks, while Congress is in recess, the House and Senate will begin to hammer out small differences between the budget resolutions that passed each chamber. Leaders in both chambers have vowed to meet the April 15th deadline to produce a final budget resolution.

The final product of House and Senate negotiations on a budget resolution matters less than the process by which any deal will be enacted. Congress, particularly the Senate, can use “reconciliation” to make policy changes that involve the final budget agreement. Reconciliation limits the amount of debate in the Senate on the final resolution and, most importantly, operates outside the filibuster process, so it requires only a simply majority of 51 votes for passage.

Reconciliation was used in the 1990s when Bill Clinton was in the White House and Republicans controlled Congress to produce the last real balanced budget. It was used to pass the Bush tax cuts early in his presidency. It was also used to enact ObamaCare.

Keep these examples in mind, because if the GOP finally uses its power to repeal ObamaCare under reconciliation, the media will no doubt scream about the “unprecedented” nature of the congressional actions.

With reconciliation, the GOP now has the very tool it campaigned for during these past 5 years. It could repeal ObamaCare, enact long-overdue tax reform and give citizens real choices over entitlement programs. It can push its policies without the specter of a government shutdown or against the false narrative of a government default.

Obama will no doubt veto the final budget resolution, especially if it repeals his signature legislative legacy. Fine. No single action will better define the stakes in the next presidential election.

Congress can simply make small changes to the final document and repeatedly resubmit to Obama for his continued vetoes. In this case, he alone will be blocking the adoption of a final budget resolution. The media will no doubt try to continue his false “GOP obstructionist” narrative, but the optics will be inescapable for voters.

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Filed under "Transparency", Amendments, Government, Insurance, IRS, ObamaCare, Politics, Taxes

Welcome to our world, your honor…

‘Like an idiot I believed that’: Judge blasts DOJ over immigration claims, threatens sanctions

A federal judge sharply scolded a Justice Department attorney at a hearing on President Obama’s immigration executive actions, suggesting that the administration misled him on a key part of the program — and that he fell for it, “like an idiot.”

The testy court hearing was held Thursday in Texas by U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen. The judge suggested he could order sanctions against the administration if he finds they indeed misrepresented the facts.

At issue is whether the DOJ misled the judge into believing that a plank of the Obama program — giving deportation reprieves to thousands of young illegal immigrants brought to the U.S. as children — would not go forward before he made a ruling on a request to halt it. In fact, federal officials had given more than 108,000 people three-year reprieves before that date and granted them work permits under the program.

Obama’s executive actions would spare from deportation as many as 5 million people who are in the U.S. illegally. Many Republicans oppose the actions, saying only Congress has the right to take such sweeping action. Twenty-six states led by Texas joined together to challenge them as unconstitutional. Hanen on Feb. 16 sided with the states, issuing a preliminary injunction blocking Obama’s actions.

Hanen chided Justice Department attorney Kathleen Hartnett for telling him at a January hearing before the injunction was issued that nothing would be happening with regard to one key part of Obama’s actions, an expansion of the 2012 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, known as DACA, until Feb. 18.

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The times, they are a changin’…

Support Change in Federal Marijuana Law

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Filed under Amendments, Government, Medical Marijuana

Push for ‘Convention of States’ to stop Obama


It already has major league endorsements from former Sen. Tom Coburn and radio talk show host Mark Levin.

In focus this week will be efforts by Palin and others, backed by digital ads, to win Virginia’s support for resolutions to use Article V of the Constitution to hold a convention of states and limit Washington’s power. A vote is scheduled Wednesday and has the support of the House and Senate Republican leaders.

“Three states have already successfully passed legislation calling for a convention of the states, and right now it’s Virginia’s turn,” said Palin.

“The beauty of this process is that neither the President nor Congress has the authority to stop it. It is truly in the hands of We the People,” she added.

Montana, Wyoming and North Dakota are voting on joining the convention this month also.

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Filed under "Transparency", Amendments, Americana, Government, Law, Politics

Obama’s Shattered Credibility


National Journal’s Ron Fournier, a journalist whom I respect, is hardly a conservative. He’s said before he supported passage of the Affordable Care Act. And so it’s worth noting when someone like Mr. Fournier says, as he did the other night, that “the central attribute you have to have as any leader, in any walk of life and certainly in government is trust — and this president has destroyed the credibility of his administration, himself and government itself.”

Mr. Fournier’s judgment is a harsh one, but an entirely appropriate one. I take no joy in saying the president lies and then lies about his lies. But that is what the record shows, indisputably; and those lies have now caught up with Mr. Obama. They are having a corrosive effect on trust between him and the people he was elected to serve. It’s one thing to be inept, as the president surely is. It’s quite another to deceive and dissemble, to govern with the philosophy that the ends justify the means, and to act in ways that show contempt for the truth and for the American polity. This has been a hallmark of the Obama years, and it’s done irreparable damage to him, and great damage to our political and civic culture.

This is not what hope and changer were supposed to be.

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Filed under "Intelligence", "Transparency", Abuse of Power, Amendments, Constitutional, Cronyism, Democrats, Elitism, Entitlement, Executive Order, Government, Hypocrisy, Immigration, Impeachment, Insurance, Law, Liberals, ObamaCare, Politics, President

In an honorable world…

Go Home, Congress. You’re Done.

All of which leads me to “The Lame Duck Congress,” one of my favorite episodes of “The West Wing.” As the episode begins, the Democrats have taken a shellacking in the midterm elections. President Jed Bartlet is considering calling a lame-duck session of the Senate to ratify the comprehensive test ban treaty. His staff knows that the crucial vote will be cast by Senator Tony Marino of Pennsylvania, a leading proponent of the treaty who has just lost his seat. Toby Ziegler, the White House communications director, is tasked with tracking him down, to be sure that Marino and the other votes he influences are on board with the idea of a lame-duck session.

Near the end of Act Three, the two men finally meet, and Marino drops a bombshell: If President Bartlet calls a lame-duck session, he will not vote to ratify. The following dialogue ensues:

MARINO: Toby, I’m a lame duck Senator. The people of Pennsylvania voted me out and Morgan Mitchell …

MARINO: Nobody expects, nobody expects. Toby, it seems to me that more and more we’ve come to expect less and less from each other. And I think that should change. I’m a senator for another 10 weeks, and I’m going to choose to respect these people and what they want. You call a lame-duck session now, and I’ve got to abstain.

The deftly written scene appeals to a principle of democracy often mooted nowadays but poorly understood. Winners like to say that elections have consequences. But the consequence isn’t — or shouldn’t be — “Now we can do what we want.” The principle should be, in the words of Gerald Ford (on quite a different subject) “Here the people rule.” The fictitious Senator Marino understands that. The voters considered his position on the issue and chose the other guy. That, for Marino, is the end of the matter.

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Filed under "Intelligence", "Transparency", Abuse of Power, Amendments, Cronyism, Democrats, Elitism, Entitlement, Hypocrisy, Liberals, Politics

Halbig Shows How We Legislate Now

Do we even pass laws any more?

This is important because the majority of states declined to set up those exchanges—deciding to reject a system and a set of obligations foisted on them by Washington. And ObamaCare is just a big, complicated mechanism for delivering subsidies. Without that, all it does is cancel everyone’s insurance policies and force them into more expensive plans they didn’t want. So you can see why ObamaCare’s defenders really need to keep those subsidies.

So they screamed that the court’s decision was totally ridiculous and implausible—and then up pops a two-year-old video from one of the Affordable Care Act’s architects, Jonathan Gruber, in which he clearly explains that this is exactly what the law says—that denying subsidies on the federal exchanges was a way of pressuring the states to get on board.

But the big question is: why do they think they can get away with this? Why do they think they can write something into the law, go around for a couple of years explaining that provision to audiences, and then pretend later that it wasn’t there at all and it’s patently ridiculous for anyone to think it ever was?

They think they can get away with rewriting the law on the fly because of the way we legislate now. With previous regulations, the abdication of power from Congress to the executive branch agencies was a way of evading responsibility for unpopular decisions. That, ladies and gentlemen, is how we legislate now. What used to be a “law” is now just an open-ended grant of power coupled with a vague aspiration.

If you understand that context and that mentality, then you can see why ObamaCare’s defenders were so confident—and in many cases remain confident—that they get to skate on following the actual letter of the law. They believe no one will hold them to it, not the courts, not the press, not the public, because that’s the system they’re already living in.

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Filed under "Community Organizers", "Intelligence", "Transparency", Abuse of Power, Amendments, Buying Indulgences, Constitutional, Cronyism, Democrats, Elitism, Entitlement, Executive Order, Government, Hypocrisy, Impeachment, Insurance, Law, Liberals, ObamaCare, Politics, President, The Supremes

They shouldn’t be doing things to embarrass themselves while being recorded…

Federal Judge to Camera-Shy Austin Cops: People Have a Right to Record You. Deal With It.

Americans have a well-established constitutional right to record police officers as they publicly perform their duties. Yet cops across the country continue to harass and arrest people for exercising that right, using bogus charges such as wiretapping, resisting arrest, and interfering with police. Yesterday yet another federal judge issued a clear message to those cops: Cut it out.

The case was brought by Antonio Buehler, an Austin, Texas, activist who has had several run-ins with camera-shy cops. The first incident occurred on January 1, 2012, when Buehler pulled into a 7-11 in Austin to refuel his truck and observed a traffic stop during which police dragged a screaming passenger from a car and knocked her to the ground. After Buehler took out his phone and began taking pictures of the encounter from a distance, Officer Patrick Obosrki manhandled him and arrested him for “resisting arrest, search, or transportation.”

Buehler filed a complaint about the incident with the Austin Police Department but never received a satisfactory response. The experience led him to start the Peaceful Streets Project, which aims to help “individuals understand their rights and hold law enforcement officials accountable.” The organization routinely records police encounters “to prevent and document police brutality.” That work led to two more arrests of Buehler, both for “interference with public duties,” on August 26, 2012, and September 21, 2012. The third arrest again involved Oborski. On both occasions police took Buehler’s camera and never returned it.

In response to Buehler’s federal lawsuit, Oborski and several other officers claimed they did not realize he had a right to record them. But according to U.S. Magistrate Judge Mark Lane, they really should have. In yesterday’s decision, which allowed the lawsuit to proceed, Lane cites “a robust consensus of circuit courts of appeals”—including the 1st, 7th, 9th, 10th, and 11th—that “the First Amendment encompasses a right to record public officials as they perform their official duties.” He also notes two decisions in which the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit, which includes Texas, “seems to assume, without explicitly stating, that photographing a police officer performing his official duties falls under the umbrella of protected expression.”

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Filed under "Community Organizers", Abuse of Power, Amendments, Government, Law

I’d say reject the fed money…

Obama to non-profits: celebrate LGBT or else

He With a Pen and a Phone will sign an executive order today forcing all private companies with government contracts to adopt policies giving lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender applicants special protection.  There is no exemption for religious beliefs or conscience, except in the very narrow case of “ministerial” employment (clergy).

Most large, for profit companies already have non-discrimination policies, and most of them have detailed gender identity protections.  Even most small companies that deal with the government are used to hiring quotas, 8A requirements, and other federal red tape.  This executive order is targeted at one group in particular: non-profits.

It means that non-profit, religious groups, such as church-based daycare centers, adoption services, and soup kitchens will, in order to receive federal money, be forced to hire transgender and cross-dressing men and women, who don’t agree with the organization’s own values.  In fact, they’ll be forced to hire people who work against the organization’s values and conscience.

Obama’s signature will accomplish by fiat much of what the failed ENDA legislation would have done, with two key differences.  ENDA had broad exemptions which were negotiated into the latest drafts, which would protect most religious organizations from having their core values violated, and ENDA would have applied nationally, across the board.

If you are involved with a religious charity that accepts any kind of federal money, get ready.  Overt persecution is about to become the norm.

As Erick has said many times, you will be made to care.


Filed under "Intelligence", "Transparency", Amendments, Buying Indulgences, Culture, Government, LGBT, Religion, Religious Freedom