President Barack Obama is trying to put the people and policies in place that he wants to outlast his presidency in the final weeks before Donald Trump takes over. But his supporters want more, way more.
Since Election Day, President Barack Obama has appointed 56 people to boards, commissions and offices in the hopes that they remain in those posts for years to come.
He has reduced the prison sentences of 79 federal inmates. He has handed out the nation’s highest civilian honor to 21 people who he said personally made an impact on his life.
President Obama honored 21 recipients during his last Presidential Medal of Freedom ceremony at the White House Tuesday. “Everybody on this stage has touched me in a very powerful, very personal way,” Obama said. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Elouise Cobell, Ellen
And he has churned out rules, regulations and policies several times a week.
Obama is trying to put the people and policies in place that he wants to outlast his presidency in the final weeks before Donald Trump takes over. And his supporters want more, way more.
Every president tries to push through last-minute policies before their time in office comes to a close. But this year has a more frantic feel as special interest groups push Obama to do more, not just because the president-elect is of a different party but because few people know what he will do.
“People are, as you can imagine, they are getting quite desperate,” said Rena Steinzor, a member of the Center for Progressive Reform, a liberal advocacy group, who is pressing Obama to act. “Filling boards and doing whatever he can to establish protections that Trump would have to unwind is a good strategy.”
With six weeks remaining, their to-do list for Obama is long:
They want him to issue an executive order requiring federal contractors to disclose their political donations. They want him to pardon immigrants in the country illegally and direct federal employees to quickly process applications for immigrants who came into the United States illegally as children. And they want him to make good on his campaign pledge to close the prison for suspected terrorists at Guantánamo Bay.
Time is running out for President Obama to fulfill his promise to close Guantánamo. He now has less than 50 days to finish the job and close the door or he risks opening the floodgates for President-elect Trump. Amnesty International USA’s Security & Human Rights Program Senior Campaigner Elizabeth Beavers
No one disputes that Obama has the authority to do what he is doing, but Trump supporters don’t think he should be doing them anyway. Read the rest of this entry »
That fact has begun to grate at Democrats, who have complained bitterly at Republicans’ stands against Obama’s nominees.
Manu Raju and Ted Barrett report: Senate Democrats are eager to make Donald Trump pay a political price for nominating staunch conservatives to fill out his Cabinet, hoping to exact revenge for the GOP’s stubborn opposition to President Barack Obama’s nominees.
But there is little they can do about it — and some top Democrats are now coming to regret it
“Yes, we changed the rules. We had to change rules because we now have a DC Circuit that functions, we’ve got 98 judges, and we have a functioning National Labor Relations Board …. And remember, with now 48 senators, we only need to pick up a few Republicans of goodwill to stop some of these nominations.”
— Harry Reid
That’s because Senate Democrats muscled through an unprecedented rules change in 2013 to weaken the power of the minority party to filibuster Cabinet-level appointees and most judicial nominees, now setting the threshold at 51 votes — rather than 60 — to overcome tactics aimed at derailing nominations.
“I do regret that. I frankly think many of us will regret that in this Congress because it would have been a terrific speed bump, potential emergency break, to have in our system to slow down nominees.”
— Sen. Chris Coons of Delaware, a Democrat who voted for the rules change three years ago.
With the Senate GOP poised to hold 52 seats next Congress, some Democrats now say they should have thought twice before making the rules change — known on Capitol Hill as the “nuclear option.”
“I do regret that,” said Sen. Chris Coons of Delaware, a Democrat who voted for the rules change three years ago. “I frankly think many of us will regret that in this Congress because it would have been a terrific speed bump, potential emergency break, to have in our system to slow down nominees.”
With their power weakened, Democrats are weighing how to make life difficult for the Senate GOP.
They are planning on making the fight over Rep. Tom Price’s nomination to lead the Health and Human Services Department a proxy war over the GOP’s plans to to dramatically overhaul Medicare. They want to turn Steven Mnuchin’s nomination to lead the Treasury into a battle over regulating Wall Street. And they want to make Sen. Jeff Sessions answer for his hard-line stands on civil rights issues and against comprehensive immigration reform.
Senate Democrats plan to make speeches and mount objections to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s efforts to quickly schedule votes to confirm much of Trump’s Cabinet by the time he is inaugurated in January. Under the rules, they could delay votes from taking place for a few days at a time, temporarily slowing down the Trump agenda.
But they ultimately won’t be able to stop those nominees — unless Republicans defect and join the Democratic opposition. And that fact has begun to grate at Democrats, who have complained bitterly at Republicans’ stands against Obama’s nominees — most notably their unprecedented refusal to even give the President’s Supreme Court choice, Merrick Garland, a hearing.
Some Democrats realize they’ve made life harder for themselves. Read the rest of this entry »
The New York City Campaign Finance Board hit disgraced former congressman Anthony Weiner with a $65,000 fine for a number of violations including using campaign funds from his failed 2013 mayoral run for his own personal use.
The board found that Weiner accepted contributions over the donation limit, failed to show that money he spent was in furtherance of his 2013 mayoral campaign and spent money after the election that was not related to the campaign.
The board is also ordering him to return $195,377 in matching campaign funds, DNA Info reported.
The NYC Campaign Finance Board hit disgraced former congressman Anthony Weiner with a $65,000 fine for a number of violations including using campaign funds from his failed 2013 mayoral run for his own personal use (pictured above in 2013)
The board found that Weiner (pictured above in 2013) accepted contributions over the donation limit, failed to show that money he spent was in furtherance of his 2013 mayoral campaign and spent money after the election that was not related to the campaign
Money that Weiner spent for personal use included him paying his cell phone bill and another personal line he used for fundraising. For that violation, he was fined $2,308. Read the rest of this entry »
A former Santa Fe High School teacher has been arrested and charged with three counts of
having an improper relationship with a student raping a student.
“Gutierrez went to the student’s residence and had sex in his bedroom, court records show.”
Kelsey Gutierrez was arrested Monday, Nov. 28 and is being held in the Galveston County Jail with no bond.
“Investigators said Gutierrez admitted to having a sexual relationship with the student, and that they found evidence on both of their phones about meeting times and the student’s sexual performance.”
Gutierrez was an English teacher at Santa Fe High School, but was terminated after an investigation that began with a tip to authorities, prosecutors said.
“Gutierrez met with the 18-year-old Santa Fe High student around midnight Nov. 12 in the parking lot of the student’s residence. The two began kissing in the front seat of her car, then climbed into the back seat to have sex.”
Four days later, Gutierrez went to the student’s residence and had sex in his bedroom, court records show.
Investigators said Gutierrez admitted to having a sexual relationship with the
student, and that they found evidence on both of their phones about meeting times and the student’s sexual performance.
“Court documents state that in 2015 Gutierrez had a sexual relationship with another teen, who was still enrolled as a student at Santa Fe High School at the time.”
In May 2015, Gutierrez picked up the second student in her car, and they drove to a gas station parking lot, where they kissed in her car, according to prosecutors.
A few weeks later, court documents said Gutierrez picked up the second student and parked on the side of the road, where they made out in her car.
“Gutierrez and the second student met up a few months later and hooked up for a fourth time, according to court documents.”
The two ‘hooked up’ again at the second student’s residence, investigators said…(read more)
“As soon as the district learned of the allegations, an internal investigation began including campus administrators and the district police department, and the teacher’s employment with the district ended,” Santa Fe ISD officials said. Read the rest of this entry »
Anna Giaritelli reports: Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton urged President-elect Donald Trump on Thursday evening to “forget about healing Hillary Clinton” and instead allow the conservative watchdog organization to continue its independent investigations into her actions while secretary of state.
“He doesn’t need to prosecute Hillary. He’s not personally responsible for prosecuting anyone. He just needs to allow the Rule of Law to continue — to get back to regular order where the prosecution or frankly an investigation can take place free of political interference at the Justice Department. That’s not happening now.”
“He needs to heal the Rule of Law and he needs to forget about healing Hillary Clinton,” Fitton told Fox Business host Charles Payne. “He doesn’t need to prosecute Hillary. He’s not personally responsible for prosecuting anyone. He just needs to allow the Rule of Law to continue — to get back to regular order where the prosecution or frankly an investigation can take place free of political interference at the Justice Department. That’s not happening now.”
“It would be at odds with the promises to ‘drain the swamp’ that President-elect Trump made — promises that helped him win office.”
The leader of the watchdog group added that while Trump has walked back some of his comments since Monday, choosing not to look into Clinton would be “at odds” with promises he made to supporters throughout his campaign.
“I have a feeling that the appointees in the Justice Department are more apt to let things proceed normally where you might see grand juries. In the least, I hope the Trump administration stops the obstruction we’re getting from the Obama gang at the State Department and Justice Department.”
“It would be at odds with the promises to ‘drain the swamp’ that President-elect Trump made — promises that helped him win office,” Fitton explained.
Fitton said Trump could have his nominee for attorney general, Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions, appoint a special prosecutor to oversee an investigation into whether corporations and foreign governments engaged in illegal or unethical activity through Clinton’s time at State. Read the rest of this entry »
“It doesn’t matter what the origins of the Second Amendment were,” says Cody Wilson, creator of the first 3D-printed gun and author of the new book, Come and Take It: The Gun Printer’s Guide to Thinking Free. “With the internet, we can transform this thing into right to resistance on a global scale. If it’s just a fact that the government serves guns now, this is just a point of political life.”
CORRECTION: The Ghost Gunner sells for $1,500 not $250. The deposit is $250.
[Order Cody’s book “Come and Take It: The Gun Printer’s Guide to Thinking Free” from Amazon.com]
The full transcript of this interview is available here.
Reason is the planet’s leading source of news, politics, and culture from a libertarian perspective. Go to reason.com for a point of view you won’t get from legacy media and old left-right opinion magazines. Read the rest of this entry »
Bob Bryan reports: Paul Krugman, the Nobel-winning economist and New York Times columnist, suggested Thursday that an “alliance” between a faction of the FBI and Russian President Vladimir Putin swung last week’s election in favor of Donald Trump.
“So it looks more and more as if we had an election swung, in effect, by a faction of our own security sector in alliance with Putin.”
— Paul Krugman, during a psychotic break, on Twitter
Krugman said that given the small margin in swing states that decided the election, the FBI’s reactivation of its investigation into Hillary Clinton’s private email server was just enough to change the minds of some voters.
“The economist has frequently taken to Twitter in the days after the election to bemoan the outcome and to draw concern over early policies of Trump.”
FBI Director James Comey announced the discovery of new emails “pertinent” to the case on October 28 — 11 days before the election — before clearing her again a week later.
“As evidence accumulates that Trump benefited from a lot of late deciders breaking his way, the case that it was Comey gets stronger,” Krugman wrote in a tweet.
The US intelligence community publicly accused the Russian government of being behind the hacks of emails of members of Democratic Party organizations and Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta, whose electronic communications were released in droves by WikiLeaks during the final weeks of the campaign. Read the rest of this entry »
At federal agencies across Washington, regulators are rushing to finalize rules before President Barack Obama leaves the White House.
Where the administration has issued an average of 2.2 rules per day this year, 10 were pushed out the door on Tuesday and Wednesday, according to a count by the American Action Forum.
“We’re running — not walking — through the finish line of President Obama’s presidency,” U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy said to agency staff in a post-election e-mail.
The Federal Register, the dense tome where the government publishes new agency rules, swelled to 1,465 pages on Friday — the thickest volume yet this year. Since the Nov. 8 election of Donald Trump, who has vowed to fight “radical regulations,” the White House has finished reviews of nine economically significant rules — compared to eight during all of September.
One reason for the speed: The later a regulation is released by an outgoing administration, the easier it can be killed by the next one. Republican lawmakers are on track to adjourn early to take advantage of a measure intended to guard against so-called midnight rule-making that permits them to void regulations put in place in the last 60 days of the legislative session. Read the rest of this entry »
Free association should not be for powerful liberals only
Stephanie Slade writes: “As one who celebrates and strives for diversity, individual freedom, and respect for all lifestyles, I will not participate in dressing or associating in any way with the next First Lady,” wrote fashion designer Sophie Theallet in an open letter this week.
“Personally, I applaud Theallet’s design to disassociate herself with the next occupant of the White House. I see Donald Trump as a shameful human being with few redeeming qualities as a leader and even fewer as a person, and if I were a business owner, I too would decline to serve his administration.”
People magazine reports Theallet, who has designed and donated clothes for outgoing First Lady Michelle Obama numerous times over the last eight years, may not be alone: “A source tells People, ‘This has already been going on for months. Designers wouldn’t lend to Melania, Ivanka or Tiffany, so they either bought the items themselves or wore Ivanka’s brand. … There was a lot of shopping their own closets.'”
As Theallet put it, ‘we consider our voice an expression of our artistic and philosophical ideals.’ I suspect Barronelle Stutzman, the white-haired grandmother who owns Arlene’s Flowers, feels the same way about her craft.”
Personally, I applaud Theallet’s design to disassociate herself with the next occupant of the White House. I see Donald Trump as a shameful human being with few redeeming qualities as a leader and even fewer as a person, and if I were a business owner, I too would decline to serve his administration.
“But instead of assuming a live-and-let-live attitude on the matter, Washington state has systematically worked to destroy Stutzman’s business unless she agrees to take part in a celebration to which she is morally opposed.”
Both are examples of associational freedom—the right to make decisions for yourself about how and with whom you spend your time and energy. This includes the right not to take on a client or project that elevates, in your view, a value you disagree with. Read the rest of this entry »
Thomas told 1,700 people at a dinner in honor of Scalia that the Supreme Court has too often granted rights to people that are not found in the Constitution.
Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas called on fellow conservatives Thursday to continue the work of the late Justice Antonin Scalia to keep the power of the courts and other branches of government in check.
Thomas told 1,700 people at a dinner in honor of Scalia that the Supreme Court has too often granted rights to people that are not found in the Constitution. He cited the decision in 2015 that made same-sex marriage legal across the country.
Thomas said he and his longtime friend and colleague formed an “odd couple” of a white New Yorker and a black man from Georgia.
He paraphrased Lincoln’s Gettysburg address to exhort the audience to “be dedicated to the unfinished business for which Justice Scalia gave his last full measure of devotion.”
Thomas and Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito were the bookends of the Thursday meeting of the Federalist Society, at which conservatives were reveling in Donald Trump’s unexpected victory in the presidential election because it is likely to result in the appointment of conservative judges to the Supreme Court and other federal courts.
Alito issued his own rallying cry to conservatives, describing religious freedom and gun rights as among “constitutional fault lines,” important issues at stake in the federal courts.
The conference of conservatism’s leading legal lights took on a new air of importance with Trump’s victory, and included a list of judges the president-elect has named as candidates to fill the vacancy created by Scalia’s death last February.
In their remarks, Thomas and Alito didn’t mention the election or the vacancy, rather using the platform to pay tribute to Scalia, a longtime colleague and conservative ally in high-court battles on hot-button social and political issues. Read the rest of this entry »