December 10, 2018

McConnell and Obama Both Wrong on Scalia Replacement

220px-Obama_and_Mitch_McConnellOne of the dumber debates in recent history has broken out in the wake of Justice Antonin Scalia’s passing. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has suggested that President Obama shouldn’t nominate a replacement for Justice Scalia because Obama is in the last year of his final term.

Opponents, including the president himself, have responded that the Senate has a constitutional duty to bring Obama’s appointments to a vote and to confirm one, if qualified.

Both sides are completely wrong. The President has the legitimate authority to nominate a successor on every day of his presidency, up to and including the very last day. That precedent was set by no less than the second president of the United States. As Elizabeth Warren astutely observed,

Article II Section 2 of the Constitution says the President of the United States nominates justices to the Supreme Court, with the advice and consent of the Senate. I can’t find a clause that says “…except when there’s a year left in the term of a Democratic President.

But neither can be found the words “shall bring to an up or down vote” or anything to the effect that the Senate is required to take action on the President’s nominees. The Constitution was deliberately constructed so that inaction would be the starting point in all matters. The reason for the separation of powers was to ensure that things didn’t get done efficiently within the federal government, because efficient government is a threat to liberty.

Read the rest on The Huffington Post…

Tom Mullen is the author of Where Do Conservatives and Liberals Come From? And What Ever Happened to Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness? Part One and A Return to Common Sense: Reawakening Liberty in the Inhabitants of America.

Cop Killings Are Way Down During Obama Presidency

obamaMilwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke told Fox News yesterday, “President Obama has breathed life into this ugly movement,” meaning Black Lives Matter and the “war on cops” Clarke says the president is at least partly responsible for.

This is part of a larger narrative in right-wing media that cop killings are increasing due to Obama’s tacit support for anti-cop activist groups and failure to condemn those who attack or kill police officers.

There’s only one problem with the narrative: Cop killings are way down during Obama’s presidency and on pace this year for the lowest annual total this century.

Read the rest at The Huffington Post…

 

Tom Mullen is the author of A Return to Common Sense: Reawakening Liberty in the Inhabitants of America.

It’s not affordable and Obama doesn’t care

Obama_desk_s640x427TAMPA, January 3, 2014 – Two days ago, Americans rang in the first New Year in its history in which they were required to buy a private company’s product, regardless of their wishes. Predictably, the bloom was already off the rose, even for supporters of this debacle.

The reality that the Affordable Care Act will make insurance premiums go up and eliminate existing health plans whether members liked them or not had already set in. As for those 45 million uninsured we heard so much about four years ago, 44 million of them presumably remain uninsured under the ACA. That the website can’t handle the traffic is likely providing cover for millions of Americans who just aren’t interested in complying.

The lion’s share of blame has been focused on President Obama, but that is really counterproductive. Despite his name being forever attached to “Obamacare,” Obama really had little to do with creating it. He didn’t write the bill. He probably hasn’t even read it.

President Obama’s role in Obamacare was to use the “bully pulpit” of the Oval Office to pitch a tired, old and previously rejected idea that suddenly had new life because of a financial crisis that was largely blamed on the Republican Party, fairly or not.

So where did it come from? The snap answer would be Democrats, who passed the bill without a single Republican vote. That’s good politics for the Republicans, but only because Americans have an extremely short memory.

Even Romneycare in Massachusetts was not the genesis of Obamacare. The individual mandate, subsidies for low income earners and most other attributes of Obamacare were all part of the Health Equity and Access Reform Today Act of 1993, introduced by Republican U.S. Senator John Conyers and supported by fellow Republicans Orrin Hatch, Chuck Grassley, Bob Bennet and Kit Bond, among others.

Bennet would go on in 2007 to join Democrat Ron Wyden in introducing the Healthy Americans Act, which also featured an individual mandate and “State Help Agencies,” now called “health care exchanges” or “health care marketplaces.”

That Republicans used to introduce this horrible program as an alternative to the even worse single payer proposal by Democrats is no excuse. It is precisely the tyrannical, economically obtuse and grossly unfair program that Republicans have described it as for the past four years – after promoting it for the previous twenty.

It goes to show that given a long enough stay in Washington, D.C., anyone will begin to see govenrment as the only answer to any problem, most of which are created by government in the first place.

More importantly, debacles like Obamacare are rarely the result of presidential elections. Presidents like FDR, LBJ and Obama merely become the face associated with laws that finally pass after resistance has been worn down over decades.

James Madison’s words from the Federalist are instructive:

“But in a representative republic, where the executive magistracy is carefully limited; both in the extent and the duration of its power; and where the legislative power is exercised by an assembly, which is inspired, by a supposed influence over the people, with an intrepid confidence in its own strength; which is sufficiently numerous to feel all the passions which actuate a multitude, yet not so numerous as to be incapable of pursuing the objects of its passions, by means which reason prescribes; it is against the enterprising ambition of this department that the people ought to indulge all their jealousy and exhaust all their precautions.”

Despite the many usurpations of power by the executive branch, it is still “the enterprising ambition” of Congress that causes most of the misery government continues to spread. Given enough time, they will impose their boondoggles, no matter how unwise and unpopular they are.

There are over 100 members of the House of Representatives that have sat in those seats since at least the 1990’s. There are almost 30 members of similar longevity in the Senate.

Who knows what they’ll drag out of the dustbin next? It’s time for voters to do a little sweeping of their own. The letters after representatives’ names should make little difference.

Tom Mullen is the author of A Return to Common Sense: Reawakening Liberty in the Inhabitants of America.

Obama administration makes Putin, Russians look like the good guys

putinTAMPA, September 10, 2013 – Syrian foreign minister Walid al-Moallem said earlier today that his government would accept the proposal to surrender its chemical weapons for destruction by the international community, according to the Associated Press. The proposal was made by the Russian government in an attempt to avoid U.S. airstrikes in reprisal for alleged chemical weapons attacks by its Syrian counterpart against rebels and civilians on Aug. 21.

The Syrian government has consistently denied launching the attacks.

President Obama has now reportedly changed the goal of his meetings today with Congressmen from persuading them to approve his military strikes to participating in the diplomatic solution. This begs an obvious question.

Why was it Russia that proposed a diplomatic solution, while the Nobel Peace Prize-winning U.S. president would consider nothing but war?

Indeed, Russian president Vladimir Putin has consistently been a calm voice of restraint and caution during the entire crisis, while Obama has sounded more like Khrushchev than Kennedy.

Syria is a longtime Russian ally and the home to Russia’s only military base outside its borders. The U.S. threats of military action against Syria is only the latest in a long train of provocative actions by the U.S. government towards its former Cold War adversary. As Pat Buchanan wrote in the American Conservative,

“George W. Bush sought to put an anti-missile system in Poland and the Czech Republic. Neither country had requested it. We said it was aimed at Iran. When my late friend, columnist Tony Blankley, visited Russia in the Bush II era, he was astounded at the hostility he encountered from Russians who felt we had responded to their offer of friendship at the end of the Cold War by taking advantage of them.”

The Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, chiefly for economic reasons. That’s not the same as surrendering to an adversary in a hot war. Yet, the U.S. government has treated Russia more like Germany after the Treaty of Versailles than the major First World power that they remain.

Imagine how the U.S. government would react if Russia were talking about bombing Israel in response to some alleged misdeed?

Yet, Putin has avoided bellicosity in the face of the Obama administration’s refusal to consider anything but military action, asking only that the administration at least wait for all of the evidence to be presented and examined.

Yesterday, it was Putin who proposed a diplomatic solution to the crisis while Obama maintained his full court press for war. This isn’t the first time that Americans have been confronted with bizarre role reversals between their government and Russia’s. At a G20 conference in 2009, while the Obama administration was promoting its housing bailout bill, Putin lectured the administration about the evils of socialism.

“Excessive intervention in economic activity and blind faith in the state’s omnipotence is another possible mistake…In the 20th century, the Soviet Union made the state’s role absolute. In the long run, this made the Soviet economy totally uncompetitive. This lesson cost us dearly. I am sure nobody wants to see it repeated,” said Putin.

For the past four and a half years, the Obama administration has pursued the very interventionist economic policies it had so vehemently criticized the Bush administration for, while the Russian government advised to let the market do more of the work.

During the Syrian chemical weapons crisis, the Obama administration has demonstrated the same eagerness for war, the same rush to judgment and the same disregard for the opinions of the international community and its own citizens that it criticized the Bush administration for in the lead-up to Iraq. It has managed to make the Russians look like the good guys.

That’s because in this case, they are.

Tom Mullen is the author of A Return to Common Sense: Reawakening Liberty in the Inhabitants of America.

 

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Obama says Edward Snowden isn’t a patriot

Tampa August 10, 2013 – Yesterday, President Obama spoke to reporters about his plans to address the growing public outcry over domestic spying programs run by the NSA and other U.S. intelligence agencies. During the press conference, Obama said that he didn’t consider Edward Snowden a patriot. Instead, those doing the spying are the patriots, along with those who have “lawfully raised their voices” to defend civil liberties.

Edward Snowden may have broken the law, but “the law is often but the tyrants will,” as Thomas Jefferson famously said.

Never has that been truer than now, when the law protects lawbreakers and forces defenders of our most sacred principles to seek political asylum in other countries. That anyone would seek asylum from the United States government at all, much less in Russia, would have been the stuff of wild fantasy just a few decades ago. Now, the torture of prisoners, arrest and detention without warrant and even execution without a trial are regarded as commonplace.

President Obama is on the wrong side of history.

Edward Snowden will be remembered as a patriot.

President Obama will be remembered as the first U.S. president to kill an American citizen without a trial. History has a word for that, too.

It isn’t patriot.

This has all happened before. Read my op-ed in The Washington Times on the first Edward Snowden in U.S. history…

Obama race speech confirms Zimmerman trial dangerous to Bill of Rights

TAMPA, July 21, 2013 — President Obama made a speech on Friday that liberals are calling courageous and conservatives are criticizing as race-baiting and divisive. Whether it was prudent from a political perspective or not remains to be seen. How it makes conservatives or liberals feel is irrelevant.

The important and ominous part came near the end, where Obama floated his ideas on what the government should do.

First, Obama recognized what big government supporters would see as “the problem.”

“Traditionally, these are issues of state and local government. The criminal code and law enforcement is traditionally done at the state and local levels, not at the federal levels.”

No, Mr. President, the prosecution of murder and theft isn’t done at the state and local levels because of “tradition.” It’s done at the state and local levels because the U.S. Constitution does not delegate any power to the federal government that could remotely be interpreted to allow it to prosecute someone for murder or theft.

That means that no one ever consented to giving the federal government that power.

To ensure that those who don’t understand this wouldn’t exercise the power anyway, a Bill of Rights was ratified that leaves no room for confusion:

“The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”

The architects of the $4 trillion federal monster have traditionally circumvented this troublesome “obstacle” by claiming that new powers they want to grant the federal government (without amending the Constitution) are actually part and parcel of “regulating interstate commerce,” although the high priests in black robes recently pulled off a novel innovation in ruling Obamacare a tax.

Courts have made some inroads into the reservation of this power to the states or the people when crimes such as kidnapping or murder have included travel across state lines. But so far, murders that do not involve what federal courts liberally interpret as “interstate commerce” have remained within the sole jurisdiction of the state or local governments.

This is more than just a formality. When one is accused of the highest of crimes and presumed innocent until proven guilty, it matters which government is authorized to prosecute. The most local government and a jury of one’s peers have the greatest interest in preserving local justice and keeping the local peace. They are less likely to be motivated by political or other factors. We saw this in the Zimmerman case, where the local prosecutor declined to prosecute based upon lack of evidence.

Then, the president weighed in, prompting the Governor of Florida to override the Sanford District Attorney’s decision not to prosecute. The local police chief was fired for refusing to charge Zimmerman with a crime.

It’s not as if the Sanford police or district attorney are “pro-defendant” or reluctant to prosecute criminals. If there was a shred of credible evidence of Zimmerman’s guilt, they would have indicted him. It’s the exception rather than the rule that the law enforcement community decides not to prosecute. It’s even more unusual for a lead detective to testify that he believes a defendant’s story, but that’s just what eventually happened in the trial.

Zimmerman’s supporters, likely motivated by political correctness, feel an obligation to qualify their support of the verdict with statements indicating that Zimmerman “may have acted irresponsibly” or “made mistakes” like following Martin after the police dispatcher told him not to.

But there is no evidence that Zimmerman did any of these things. No one seems to be considering the possibility that Zimmerman didn’t do anything wrong at all.  Yet, that’s what the evidence seems to suggest. That’s why a police detective, normally biased against believing anyone, made the unusual statement that he believed Zimmerman’s story.

This whole fiasco has been a demonstration of the wisdom of reserving the power of prosecuting most crimes to the states or local governments. They certainly aren’t perfect, but they don’t bring the additional political baggage that the federal government would bring to exercising this power.

The federal government isn’t any less racist in its administration of justice, either. If you need proof, visit a federal prison. If you conclude that blacks make up 13% of the inmates, you need glasses, remedial math lessons, or both. Most are non-violent drug offenders, prosecuted for breaking laws that were originally passed to target specific racial groups.

Mr. Obama has every right to express his opinion on any matter as a private citizen. But when he says “I think it would be useful for us to examine some state and local laws,” alarm bells should immediately ring. Just who is “us” and what does “examine” mean? If he is talking about the federal government having any influence over power reserved to the states or people, he’s just continuing the ongoing assault on the Bill of Rights.

Libertarianism, anyone?

Tom Mullen is the author of A Return to Common Sense: Reawakening Liberty in the Inhabitants of America.

IRS scandal nothing new: Targeting dissenters is bipartisan

TAMPA, May 16, 2013 ― The IRS targeting conservative groups for audits and enforcement actions is the latest scandal for a federal government that is so out of control that even the lapdog media are starting to sound libertarian while covering it. But targeting dissenters is nothing new and certainly not an innovation by the Obama administration. It is old as the federal government itself.

One does not have to go back as far as the Alien and Sedition Acts or Abraham Lincoln’s imprisonment of northern journalists who opposed the Civil War. One doesn’t even have to go outside the IRS. Just nine years ago, they were doing the exact same thing under Bush, going so far as to investigate a church because of an anti-war sermon which the agency said it “considered … to have been illegal.”

Ironically, for all of their talk about “small government” and “balanced budgets,” the tea party and patriot groups most recently victimized by the IRS are for the most part rabid supporters of American militarism. So, whether you’re pro-war or anti-war, you’re a candidate for predation, so long as you oppose any aspect of the federal monster.

Conservatives are obviously making this about Obama and Obama is doing his best to deflect blame, pointing out that the activity occurred while a Bush appointee was still IRS Commissioner. Sadly, most of the American public will likely jump on one bandwagon or the other and miss what is really important here.

This is the inevitable outcome of giving any government the kind of power that the federal government has, particularly the powers granted to the IRS. You cannot enforce an income tax without inviting the government into virtually every aspect of your life. Once there, it is going to defend itself against any attack, whether related to your tax liability or not.

Let’s not forget that one of the pillars of conservative attacks on Obamacare was the thousands of new IRS agents that would be necessary to enforce its individual mandate. Tea Party and Patriot groups were largely formed around opposition to this law.

That’s what pro-war conservatives in 2012 had in common with anti-war liberals in 2004. They opposed the growth of government: the addition of new government jobs and the increase in funding. Whether for a war or a healthcare program is really immaterial. The beast just wants to grow and when it encounters opposition it defends itself like any other organism.

If the American public wants to stop the federal government from laying waste to the entire country the way it did the City of Detroit, it has to stop taking the left/right, liberal/conservative bait. There are two sides to this struggle, but they are not liberal and conservative.

They are those who benefit from the parasitical federal government and those who are victimized by it. Both groups are populated by liberals and conservatives. Let’s not forget that the majority of the military establishment is just a right wing welfare program, for individuals and large corporations alike. And it’s not like there are no liberals among that 5% of the population that pays most of the taxes.

The federal government can’t be fixed by throwing the current bums out and replacing them with new ones. It is not a job for a monkey wrench or a surgeon’s scalpel. It is a job for a motivated public armed with sledgehammers.

Libertarianism, anyone?

Tom Mullen is the author of A Return to Common Sense: Reawakening Liberty in the Inhabitants of America.

Obama right: Boston Marathon bombing possibly not terrorism

TAMPA, April 16, 2013 – Conservative critics immediately criticized President Obama’s initial statement about the Boston Marathon bombing because he did not classify the crime an act of terrorism.

“We still don’t know who did this or why, and people shouldn’t jump to conclusions before we have all the facts. But, make no mistake; we will get to the bottom of this,” said the president.

This libertarian doesn’t get to say this very often about any president, but Obama was right. The bombing was a heinous crime, but there is no way to know if this was an act of terrorism until it is determined who perpetrated it and, more importantly, why. That’s because a mass murder is not necessarily an act of terrorism, unless it is carried out for a political purpose. According to Title 22, Chapter 38 of the United States Code,

“…the term ‘terrorism’ means premeditated, politically motivated violence perpetrated against non-combatant targets by subnational groups or clandestine agents;”

Definitions vary internationally, but virtually all definitions distinguish terrorism from other crimes against life and property by its political motivation. When perpetrated by foreign agents, acts of terrorism are viewed as quasi-acts of war, carried out by enemies of the state who may not represent a foreign government but nevertheless believe themselves to be at war with the target country. Examples would include the perpetrators of both World Trade Center attacks.

Read the rest of the article at Liberty Pulse…

Obama has state of the delusion speech shovel ready

TAMPA, February 12, 2013 — Pundits are already atwitter over tonight’s annual exercise in political posturing. The question many are asking is whether Obama will stay on the attack against his Republican opponents or attempt to use the speech to identify areas where he can work with them.

The real question is whether the president will make a single remark that bears any resemblance to reality.

The State of the Union address (SOU) has always been little more than a nationally televised stump speech. As all presidents believe that anything happening anywhere in the country is a direct result of their policies, none have ever wanted to paint a less than rosy picture about the supposed “state of the union.” After all, if it’s in a bad state, it must be their fault.

However, with the U.S. now in full-fledged collapse, the speeches have become so detached from reality that they should be called “state of the delusion” addresses.

The speech is interminably long, but let’s look ahead to the main areas it will cover and try to separate fantasy from reality.

The president will remind us that he inherited an economy in shambles, which is true. He will hope that listeners draw the inference that his predecessor was wholly at fault for this, but that isn’t close to true. Every president since at least Teddy Roosevelt contributed to the problem, with the largest contributions coming from Democrats.

It will really turn bizarre when Obama starts talking about “the recovery” that’s underway. We’ll be told that while we’re not out of the woods and there is still “a lot of work to do (i.e., more government meddling to accomplish),” new jobs are being created, new industries are flourishing and things are generally looking up.

In reality, the United States is in a depression, just like the one in the 1930’s, and it’s being prolonged for all of the same reasons. The official numbers say that unemployment has been hovering around 8 percent, but that’s only because they’ve changed the way unemployment is measured. If they measured it the same way that they did in the 1930’s, unemployment would be the same as it was in the 1930’s.

As an aside, there isn’t any substantive economic distinction between “recession” and “depression.” Politicians just decided to stop calling them depressions to con the public. After a while, they started believing their own bovine waste products.

Read the rest of the article at Communities@ Washington Times…

Obama outmaneuvers Republicans again on gun control

TAMPA, January 20, 2013 — One day before his second inauguration ceremony, President Obama has plenty of reasons to smile. Despite a persistently weak economy, he was reelected by a comfortable margin in November and then completely outmaneuvered his Republican opponents in the tax hike standoff. That ended with Republicans breaking a decades-old pledge never to raise taxes.

Following the usual calls for more gun control following a widely publicized shooting, it looks as if Obama has outmaneuvered the GOP again. After appointing Vice President Joe Biden to head a gun violence task force, Obama made an ominous-sounding statement.

“Well, my understanding is the Vice President is going to provide a range of steps that we can take to reduce gun violence. Some of them will require legislation. Some of them I can accomplish through executive action. And so I’ll be reviewing those today. And as I said, I’ll speak in more detail to what we’re going to go ahead and propose later in the week.”

The Republican response was predictable. Cries of constitutional crisis and calls for impeachment exploded from Republican politicians and conservative-leaning media.

Whether because of the Republican reaction or by design, Obama’s executive orders were remarkably uncontroversial. Despite rumors that the president had written 23 new executive orders restricting gun ownership, Obama actually didn’t write any. Instead, he wrote 3 “presidential memoranda” directing existing federal agencies to do a better job at what they are already doing.

This leaves Republicans who yelled “impeachment” before even hearing what the president proposed looking like “extremists” again, not to mention somewhat silly. It sets up the Democrats perfectly for the upcoming congressional fight over new gun legislation. Republicans will be under pressure to compromise to undo the political damage done by this latest gaffe.

There are certainly constitutional arguments against Obama’s actions, but Republicans are in no position to make them. Strict constitutionalists have long argued that the mere existence of agencies like the ATF and the CDC is unconstitutional, but the Republican Party, which created one and greatly expanded the other, has no grounds upon which to make this argument.

Those few GOP legislators who can do so with any credibility, like Senator Rand Paul or Rep. Justin Amash, are considered outsiders by the party elite.

There is a fundamental problem here that the GOP has to resolve if it does not wish to fade into irrelevance. It has to define some fundamental philosophical differences between it and the Democratic Party. Despite rhetoric about small government and free markets, there just isn’t any meat on the GOP bones for opponents of the Democratic Party to sink their teeth into.

Read the rest of the article…