Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Cruising the Web

The best aspect of the Republicans taking over the Senate would be seeing and hearing less of Harry Reid. This is his most humorous complaint. He has decided to waste a whole lot of Senate time on debating a proposed amendment that has no chance of passing out of Congress since it would need two-thirds of both houses. He wanted the symbolism of the proposal, but didn't really want to go any further. But it ended up that Republicans voted for advancing the proposed amendment to the floor for debate. And now Reid is annoyed that the Republicans voted for his purely symbolic time-waster.
After all his complaints about Republican obstruction this year, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid expressed frustration last night after Republicans helped guarantee a floor vote on a measure he supports.

The Nevada Democrat has accused Senate Republicans of chicanery for voting to advance to the Senate floor a Democratic constitutional amendment allowing Congress to regulate all campaign speech and spending.

After Monday's bipartisan 79-18 vote, Reid vented to reporters that Republicans were trying to "stall" the Senate, indicating that he never intended for the campaign finance amendment by Sen. Tom Udall, D-N.M., to go to a real floor debate.

Politico reporter Burgess Everett writes that many Republicans voted to advance the amendment Monday in order “to foul up Democrats’ pre-election messaging schedule, freezing precious Senate floor time for a measure that ultimately has no chance of securing the two-thirds support necessary in both the House and Senate to amend the Constitution.”

The move not only guarantees a lengthy debate over Democratic efforts to limit the First Amendment, but it also limits the amount of time left for debates over other doomed measures on gender pay equality and the minimum wage, which were intended to frame the coming elections for Democrats as they defend their Senate majority.
How funny is that?

Oh, don't you hate when you try to spin the media on how the Justice Department is handling the IRS scandal and you end up calling to the Republicans instead of the Democrats?
A senior communications aide to Attorney General Eric Holder seemingly called House oversight committee chairman Darrell Issa's staff by accident and asked for their help spinning new revelations about the IRS scandal, Issa said in a September 8 letter to Holder.

The aide, Brian Fallon, is a former senior aide to Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and a well-known personality on Capitol Hill. The letter describes Fallon as “audibly shaken” when he realizes his request to leak documents to help get ahead of news stories about them was mistakenly made to the very office he was seeking to undermine. Issa believes the call was intended to be made to Democratic Rep. Elijah Cumming's staff, the ranking member on the oversight panel, the letter said.

According to the letter, Fallon – who is not named in the letter but confirmed he made the call – asked if the aides could release the IRS scandal documents to “selected reporters” to give Fallon an “opportunity to comment publicly on it.”
How funny. And what do you bet that the DOJ goes ahead with their spin plan?

Byron York asks a very pertinent question. "Why didn't Obama pass immigration reform when he had the chance?"
n light of President Obama's decision to delay his much-anticipated edict on immigration until after November's elections, some critics are asking why the president and Democrats in Congress didn't pass immigration reform back when they had overwhelming majorities in both House and Senate. It's a good question — and a good reason to revisit 2009 and 2010, when immigration reform could have become a reality.

As a presidential candidate, Obama promised to "put comprehensive immigration reform back on the nation's agenda during my first year in office." After victory in 2008, he had the clout to do so: sky-high approval ratings, 257 Democrats in the House and, for a while, a filibuster-proof majority of 60 Democrats in the Senate.
He kept making promises to Hispanics and then kept postponing action.
And that has led to the question of why the president didn't act when he had the chance. Wasn't the immigration system just as "broken" then as Obama says it is now? The answer is, in Obama's world, there was always something more important than immigration reform. And no, it wasn't because the economic crisis was so severe that Obama could focus on nothing else; indeed, for him, the crisis year of 2009 was mostly about Obamacare.

During the days when his power was at its peak, Obama pursued higher-priority issues even as he led immigration activists to believe they were up next. Which leads to the conclusion that perhaps immigration reform — the substance of it, not the politics — has never been all that important to the president.

Now, there's still something more important: protecting vulnerable Democrats from voter disapproval of unilateral presidential action on immigration.

Obama says he will finally act, after the election, after voters can no longer hold him or his party accountable. But who knows? Maybe something more important will come up yet again.

Al Franken calls Citizens United "one of the worst decisions in the history of the Supreme Court." Really? Hasn't he ever heard of Dred Scott, Plessy v Ferguson, or Korematsu? Those are the most infamouos cases, but there are quite a lot of lesser known cases that could be added to the list. All Franken has done is betrayed his ignorance of history.

Michael Barone hopes that President Obama has lost his delusions.
So one hopes that, as Obama left the fundraiser trail and headed to NATO ally Estonia and the NATO summit in Wales, he arrived stripped of the delusions he carried into his presidency. They include, in no particular order, the following:

• The delusion that the world would love the United States once the first black president — a “citizen of the world,” as he called himself in Berlin — took office. But symbolism important to American voters has less purchase overseas. The elites and chattering classes of other nations, even allies, are always going to resent the enormous asymmetrical power of the United States and complain about its policies.

• The delusion that once the United States withdrew all its troops from Iraq, tranquility would reign in the Middle East. The idea was that Middle East Muslims were provoked by Americans’ bossiness and blunders. That takes no account of the longstanding hatreds, desires for revenge and religious fanaticism present in the region before 2003 and flaring again now that U.S. forces have left.

• The delusion that the key to solving the problems in the Middle East is to arrange a peaceful settlement between Israel and the Palestinians. The problem here is that there are no Palestinian interlocutors willing to make or able to deliver on a promise to live in peace with Israel.

• The delusion that the hatred of Islamist Muslims for the United States would disappear once Barack Hussein Obama (as he referred to himself in his June 2009 Cairo speech “to the Muslim world”) was its leader. Like an American politician recalling his Italian or Polish grandmother, Obama assumed that having a common background would be appealing. The fact that his father was a (very unobservant) Muslim and that he attended Muslim schools cut no ice with Islamists, who consider apostasy a capital crime and are willing to die to make others submit to their version of the faith.

• The delusion that relations with Russia were ready to be reset now that the cowboy who provoked Vladimir Putin was back in Texas. The fact, as George W. Bush belatedly understood, was that Putin, seething with resentment, was bent on restoring something like a czarist or Soviet empire. His aggression in Georgia in 2008 and in Ukraine this year were the result not of misunderstanding, but of deliberate intention.
Somehow I don't think Obama has lost any of those delusions.

Ross Douthat contemplates Obama's announced delay of his Caesarism on issuing an extra-constitutional executive order on immigration. He links to Ezra Klein's comment which is quite apt.
4. The criticism of Obama's executive action on immigration has been that it's an undemocratic end-run around congressional gridlock. This makes it even less democratic. Putting aside the contested question of the (unknown) policy's legality, Senator Mitch McConnell has a point when he says, "What's so cynical about today's immigration announcement is that the president isn't saying he'll follow the law, he's just saying he'll go around the law once it's too late for Americans to hold his party accountable in the November elections."

....8. This is the problem with the White House's decision — and, to some degree, the way they've managed this whole issue. If these deportations are a crisis that merits deeply controversial, extra-congressional action, then it's hard to countenance a politically motivated delay. If they're not such a crisis that immediate action is needed, then why go around Congress in the first place?

9. In those June 30th remarks, Obama slammed Republicans for defying "the will of the majority of the American people who support reform." It is hard to attack Republicans for defying the will of the majority of the American people but then delay your own immigration actions until after the election.

Glenn Reynolds links to this story that demonstrates just how little common sense there is in some public schools. A middle school student in a D.C. public middle school is a straight-A student and an internationally recognized violin player. But the school is charging her with violating the District's truancy laws for missing too much school for her violin performances.
Avery’s parents say they did everything they could to persuade the school system. They created a portfolio of her musical achievements and academic record and drafted an independent study plan for the days she’d miss while touring the world as one of the star pianists selected by a prestigious Lang Lang Music Foundation, run by Chinese pianist Lang Lang, who handpicked Avery to be an international music ambassador.

But the school officials wouldn’t budge, even though the truancy law gives them the option to decide what an unexcused absence is. The law states that an excused absence can be “an emergency or other circumstances approved by an educational institution.”

Too bad, so sad. After 10 unexcused absences, it doesn’t matter whether a child was playing hooky to hang at the mall or charming audiences in Hong Kong with her mastery of Mozart. D.C. bureaucrats will label the kid a truant, will mar her transcript with that assessment and will assign a truancy officer to the case.

When Avery returned in March from winning the Grand Prix at a big competition in Hartford, Conn., for her performance of a Chopin Waltz, she didn’t get calls of congratulations from her school. That was her 10th absence, so a truancy officer was called.
Her parents have been forced to home school her. Any rational school system would be thrilled with this girl's achievements and figure out a way to give her a waiver given the experiences she's having and contributions she's making while maintaining her grades. But arbitrary laws prevent such rational behavior. It's just like the children who get suspended for bringing in such dangerous weapons such as miniature guns from GI Joe.