[VIDEO] Reid’s Obstructionist-Era Senate Ends, McConnell Era Begins : Already More Amendments Voted On Than All Of 2014Posted: January 24, 2015
WASHINGTON—House Republicans re-elected John Boehner (R., Ohio) for a third term as House speaker on Tuesday over the objections of a band of frustrated conservatives lobbying for a new leader.
Senior Republicans expressed some frustration that internal GOP dissent was grabbing the headlines on the first day of the 114th Congress.
Mr. Boehner, 65 years old, faced more opposition from his party’s right flank than in years past, but not enough to oust him from the House’s top post. After being selected among House Republicans for the post in November, he was officially re-elected in a floor roll-call vote, as the new Congress—now fully controlled by Republicans—convened on Tuesday.
Conservatives defecting from Mr. Boehner said they objected to how he ran the House, faulting him for hashing out too many deals behind closed doors and not giving lawmakers enough time to read legislation before voting.
Even some of the most conservative House Republicans voted for Mr. Boehner, citing the party’s victories in last fall’s midterm election that gave the GOP control of the Senate and expanded the House’s Republican majority.
“I’ve had my differences with the speaker, but I plan to support him,” Rep. John Fleming (R., La.) said before the vote. “He led us through a period where we’ve increased our majority, substantially.”
In November’s midterm election, House Republicans won 247 seats, their largest majority in decades. After the resignation of Rep. Michael Grimm (R., N.Y.), effective Monday, Republicans control 246 of the chamber’s 435 seats. Read the rest of this entry »
A look at some of the more entertaining recent headlines to come out of Obama’s America
Before the tryptophan in the turkey induces somnolence, give thanks for living in such an entertaining country. This year, for example, we learned that California’s Legislature includes 93 people who seem never to have had sex. They enacted the “affirmative consent” law, directing college administrators to tell students that sexual consent cannot be silence but must be “affirmative, conscious and voluntary agreement” and “ongoing throughout a sexual activity.” Claremont McKenna College requires “all” — not “both,” which would discriminate against groups — participants in a sexual engagement to understand that withdrawal of consent can be any behavior conveying “that an individual is hesitant, confused, uncertain.”
A severely moral California high school principal prohibited the football booster club from raising money by selling donated Chick-fil-A meals because this company opposed same-sex marriage. The school superintendent approved the ban because “we value inclusivity and diversity.” Up to a point. At a Washington state community college, invitations to a “happy hour” celebrating diversity and combating racism said white people were not invited.
At Broward College near Miami, a conservative who was asking students if they agreed that “big government sucks” was told by a campus security guard that she must take her question to the campus “free-speech area.” She got off lightly: The federal government has distributed to local police, including those of some colleges and school districts, more than 600 surplus MRAP (mine-resistant ambush-protected) armored vehicles designed for Iraq and Afghanistan.
The federal government, which has Tomahawk cruise missiles and Apache and Lakota helicopters, used the code name “Geronimo” in the attack that killed Osama bin Laden but objected to the name of the Washington Redskins. The Department of Homeland Security, unsleepingly vigilant, raided a Kansas City, Mo., shop to stop sales of panties emblazoned with unauthorized Royals logos. A U.S. Forest Service article on safe marshmallow toasting did not neglect to nag us: It suggested fruit rather than chocolate in s’mores. The droll Orange County Register wondered, “Why not replace the marshmallow with a Brussels sprout?” The federal government’s food police began cracking down on schools’ fundraising bake sales: Step away from those brownies and put your hands on a fruit cup. Read the rest of this entry »
Happy times are here again! Republicans have won the Senate, and they surely won’t screw it up this time. Right?Posted: November 9, 2014
The GOP Senate: A New Utopia Dawns
P.J. O’Rourke writes: Like all good Republicans, I’m so happy I could frack the moon. I could drone strike the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, I’m flying that high. I’m feeling good enough to lay 1,179 miles of pipe with my honey-bunny Keystone XL. And now that the GOP has bedded the House andthe Senate, she is, ahem, about to come – delivering crude oil from Canada to the Gulf Coast and all the wetlands, wilderness areas, and sensitive eco-systems in between.
“Extraordinary things occurred the last time Republicans took legislative power away from a liberal quack…”
And that’s just the beginning of the wonderful events that are about to transpire. This is more exciting than the Newt Gingrich congressional triumph of 1994. Obama is a bigger sitting duck than Clinton. And Obama is a lame duck too. No Democratic Senate or House candidate was sitting in the voter blind with Hope and Change decoys on the electoral pond calling, “Barack! Barack! Barack!” Even the Dems ducked Obama.
“To sum those things up in just two words, which still stir the heart of every right-thinking member of the Grand Old Party: Monica Lewinsky. Was that fun or what?”
And there was the Contract with America, with its balanced budget and term limits Constitutional Amendments and its Personal Responsibility Act to discourage having children out of wedlock.
In 1993, 27 percent of American children were illegitimate. Now it’s, um, about 40 percent. But, come on, what kind of self-respecting Republican writes a contract that he can’t wiggle out of with the help of lawyers? And practically everyone in Congress is one. Read the rest of this entry »
Last Friday afternoon, the time when officials make announcements they hope no one will notice, the State Department declared that it is putting off a decision on Keystone XL indefinitely — or at least, it seems, well past November’s midterm elections. This time, the excuse is litigation in Nebraska over the proposed route, because that might lead to a change in the project that various federal agencies will want to consider. The State Department might even decide to substantially restart the environmental review process . This is yet another laughable reason to delay a project that the federal government has been scrutinizing for more than five years.
At this point, there is little doubt about the big picture. After two thorough environmental analyses, State Department experts determined that the pipeline’s impact probably would be minimal, even on climate change-inducing carbon dioxide emissions. The economic rewards of extracting Canadian oil are too attractive and the options for getting it out of the country are too numerous. We would rather see Canadian crude traveling a well-built, well-regulated pipeline in the United States than on the rail cars, barges and ocean tankers that will move it until cheaper options inevitably come online. Read the rest of this entry »
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Obama administration is extending indefinitely the amount of time federal agencies have to review the Keystone XL pipeline, the State Department said Friday, likely punting the decision over the controversial oil pipeline past the midterm elections.
“This decision is irresponsible, unnecessary and unacceptable.”
— Sen. Mary Landrieu (D)
The State Department didn’t say how much longer agencies will have to weigh in but cited a recent decision by a Nebraska judge overturning a state law that allowed the pipeline’s path through the state, prompting uncertainty and an ongoing legal battle. Nebraska’s Supreme Court isn’t expected to rule for another several months, and there could be more legal maneuvering after that. The delay potentially frees President Barack Obama to avoid making a final call on the pipeline until after the November election.
In an ironic show of bipartisanship, prominent Democrats from energy-dependent states joined Republicans in blasting the Obama administration for delaying the decision once again.
“The agency consultation process is not starting over. The process is ongoing, and the department and relevant agencies are actively continuing their work in assessing the permit application,” the State Department said in a statement.
Republicans were quick to blast the latest delay in a review process that has dragged on for more than five years. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., accused Obama of kowtowing to “radical activists” from the environmental community, while House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, called the decision “shameful” and said there were no credible reasons for further delay. Read the rest of this entry »
Jim Geraghty writes: In recent weeks, we examined the Obama administration’s willingness to reverse positions that it had once proudly proclaimed — on whether an individual mandate is necessary, whether the individual mandate is a tax, whether it is important that you can keep your plan or doctor, whether lobbyists should work in a president’s administration, whether a donor should be appointed U.S. ambassador, and so on. Then we noted environmentalists who said they would not criticize or attack lawmakers who supported the Keystone Pipeline, as long as they were Democrats.
“What kind of a country do you get when political leaders are driven by a desire to feel that they are more enlightened, noble, tolerant, wise, sensitive, conscious, and smart than most other people?”
Last week, we expanded the discussion to progressives’ wide-ranging willingness to contradict their own professed principles: gun-control proponents who travel with armed bodyguards, voucher opponents who send their kids to private schools, and minimum-wage-hike advocates who pay their staff less than the minimum wage, among others.
So what do progressives really want? If, as I suspect, the currency of progressivism isn’t policies or results, but emotions, what does that approach build? What kind of a country do you get when political leaders are driven by a desire to feel that they are more enlightened, noble, tolerant, wise, sensitive, conscious, and smart than most other people?
Jonah Goldberg writes: Leland Yee, a Democratic state senator and candidate for secretary of state in California, has been a longtime champion of gun control. This week he was arrested on numerous charges, including conspiracy to deal firearms without a license and conspiracy to illegally transport firearms. Yee, a prominent foe of assault weapons, allegedly took bribes to set up a meeting between an undercover agent and an international arms dealer to broker the sale of automatic weapons and shoulder-fired missiles. A lengthy FBI affidavit also describes Yee’s ties to a Chinese triad and his desire to help out Islamist militants.
In short, the story makes for what journalists call “good copy.”
And yet, so far no reporter has raised the possibility that Yee supported tighter restrictions on guns in order to keep gun prices high and his own services in demand. Economist Bruce Yandle popularized the idea of the “Bootleggers and Baptists” coalition. The apocryphal Baptists want to ban alcohol. Bootleggers don’t make much money when liquor can be bought legally at a grocery store or bar. So the bootleggers bankroll the Baptists’ effort to ban booze.
Now I sincerely doubt that Yee was that clever. The more likely explanation is that he believes in gun control and he’s a greedy hypocrite (and maybe not too bright either). The fact that gun-control policies are to his advantage is just a happy coincidence.
What’s interesting — and vexing — to me is that this sort of analysis is all the rage when it comes to conservatives and Republicans, and utterly incomprehensible to most journalists when it comes to liberals and Democrats. Read the rest of this entry »
Green demands to stop drilling for natural gas come at an awkward time for Obama and his party
Kimberley Strassel writes: The environmental left is seeing Democrats the Keystone XL pipeline, and raising them natural-gas exports. The question of who folds on this issue will play big in this midterm election year.
“The White House is technically in favor of natural gas, has reaped its environmental and economic upside, and its candidates are coalescing around drilling and export expansion. The president’s green troops now demand an end to this. To crack down on fracking would be economically and politically dumb.”
A split is growing in the Democratic Party, one that ought to rival the divisions on the right that the headlines trumpet. Greens are increasingly bitter about President Obama —annoyed that he’s dropped climate legislation, scaled back green subsidies, ignored fracking. They’ve channeled their frustration into the fight against Keystone, warning that they’ll turn their significant money and resources against Mr. Obama’s party if the president approves more “dirty oil.” Since this president cares about nothing so much as winning elections, he’s sat on the pipeline for five years. Read the rest of this entry »
Murdock writes: Regarding the Keystone XL Pipeline, Obama might have a logical leg on which to stand if KXL were the first such conduit to ravage the American heartland with miles and miles of rivets and steel. Alas for Obama, Meriwether Lewis and William Clark are long gone, and so is this country’s pipeline virginity. It lost its innocence, in that sense, in the same century when those explorers conducted their Corps of Discovery Expedition from St. Charles, Mo., to what is now Astoria, Ore., between May 1804 and September 1806.
The first U.S. pipeline to transport oil started carrying crude from Coryville to Williamsport, Penn., in 1879. In the intervening 135 years, the continental USA became interlaced with 2,600,000 miles of these steel tubes. And how many more such miles would KXL add? A grand total of 852. That’s an increase of 0.033 percent, or the rough equivalent of delivering an extra faucet to the plumbing department at your local Home Depot. Believe it or not, this microscopic change in America’s pipeline profile fuels this massive controversy.
If you are laughing, you are enjoying an unintentional comedy titled “I’m Thinking It Over,” starring Obama. Despite five neutral-to-positive reports from the State Department, he has spent five years and five weeks deeply contemplating KXL. Obama simply refuses to make up his mind and, instead, demands even further study.
FREE THE PIPELINE
Jonah Goldberg writes: Welcome to the “year of action.” In last week’s State of the Union address, the president vowed to do whatever he must to help the economy, even if that means working around Congress: “What I offer tonight is a set of concrete, practical proposals to speed up growth, strengthen the middle class, and build new ladders of opportunity into the middle class. Some require congressional action, and I’m eager to work with all of you. But America does not stand still, and neither will I. So wherever and whenever I can take steps without legislation to expand opportunity for more American families, that’s what I’m going to do.”
The White House has touted the fact the president has a “phone and a pen” and he’s not afraid to use them.
[The Tyranny of Clichés is now on sale in paperback.]
The president also vowed to cut red tape, and not for the first time. In 2013’s State of the Union, he insisted that “my administration will keep cutting red tape and speeding up new oil and gas permits.” And in 2012: “In the next few weeks, I will sign an executive order clearing away the red tape that slows down too many construction projects.”
All of this was in the wake of Obama’s 2011 executive order requiring the elimination of “redundant, inconsistent, or overlapping” regulations. The administration had hailed the order as an “unprecedented” move to boost growth. In an op-ed for the Wall Street Journal touting the order, the president wrote: “We’re also getting rid of absurd and unnecessary paperwork requirements that waste time and money.”
Laymen might have the impression that the president wants to cut red tape and take action on job-creating infrastructure, particularly oil and gas projects.
The U.S. State Department is poised to issue an environmental review of the proposed Keystone XL oil pipeline that will likely say the project will not appreciably increase carbon emissions, sources said late Thursday, forcing President Barack Obama closer to a tough decision.
“We’re expecting to hear the same conclusion that we’ve heard four times before: no significant impact on the environment”
Rumors swept through Washington late Thursday that the long-delayed review of the 1,179-mile (1,900-km) pipeline to bring oil from Canada to Nebraska would finally be released as soon as Friday.
“The Environmental Impact Statement is in the final stages of preparation and we anticipate a release of the document soon,” a senior State Department official said late on Thursday, speaking on condition of anonymity.
The comment gives a clearer insight into where the long-awaited assessment stands. One government official said the overdue report, part of a process lasting more than five years that has strained relations with Ottawa, would be released on Friday.
Keystone to the Kingdom
Matthew Continetti writes: The White House’s newest staffer is John Podesta, the 64-year-old founder of the Center for American Progress (CAP), the head of President Obama’s 2008 transition team, a former chief of staff to President Clinton, and a former lobbyist and cofounder, with his brother Tony, of the Podesta Group. You know: an outsider.
Podesta is joining the administration for one year as White House counselor specializing in energy policy. And despite the fact that he has done more than any other unelected official to shape the policies of cap-and-trade and green energy subsidies, and to employ and place the talent that has attempted to implement those policies during the Obama presidency, the White House assures us that he will never, never have any say in whether the Keystone Pipeline, slow-walked by this president for years, is approved or denied.
“John suggested that he not work on the Keystone Pipeline issue,” a White House aide emailed Ryan Lizza of the New Yorker, “in review at the State Department, given that the review is far along in the process and John’s views on this are well known.” Podesta opposes the pipeline, vociferously, because he says it will exacerbate global warming. But if his opposition to Keystone disqualifies him from working on the issue in the West Wing, wouldn’t that also be a problem for his seat on the Foreign Affairs Policy Board at the State Department, where the pipeline issue is “in review”? Or for his seat on the Secretary of Energy Advisory Board, which must have discussed the pipeline at some point? And does anyone besides the gullible greens at Credo Action, the political arm of a cell phone company that provides its customers feelings of moral superiority, really believe Podesta will be “silenced” when it comes to “what may be the single most closely watched decision of the Obama presidency”? Does anyone who has ever interacted with Podesta or his brother believe either man is capable of silence?
While numbers are elusive, President Obama seems to be the most-heckled president in a long time – particularly from people on the left. Some might be trying to get him off script.
Linda Feldmann reports: Heckling politicians is as old as the hills, but when a young man standing behind President Obama began shouting at him during an event Monday, that seemed especially noteworthy.
After all, the man – a 24-year-old undocumented immigrant from South Korea named Ju Hong – was invited by the White House to stand there as part of the “human wallpaper” often seen at presidential events.
And yet even, or maybe especially, in that privileged spot, Mr. Hong felt compelled to interrupt Mr. Obama’s scripted remarks on immigration and call on the president to stop deportations. Obama waved off the Secret Service, which was moving to escort Hong from the room, and addressed his complaint – denying he could use his executive power to halt deportations.
To many observers, instances of the president being heckled are on the rise – particularly, in the case of Obama, by those to his left – though numbers are scarce. Even Mark Knoller of CBS Radio, keeper of myriad presidential statistics, begs off: “Sorry, haven’t kept a heckle count.”
Gregg Lindskog, a presidential scholar at Millersville University who has researched sociopolitical disruption, feels certain that Obama has been heckled more than his two predecessors. “It would be hard to debate that,” he says. Read the rest of this entry »
J.T. Young writes: Five years in, Obama’s presidency appears more divisive than decisive. There is a high irony in this outcome for a candidate elected on promises of unity and change. Yet the increasingly obvious pattern is that Obama is unwilling to make a tough decision and as a result, he not only alienates a growing number of voters, but an increasing number of his supporters.
Obama’s presidential campaign was explicit in its commitment to an administration both unifying and bold. “Hope,” “Change we can believe in,” and “Yes we can!” promised a muscular agenda America could rally around. And America did.
Obama won with the largest popular vote percentage (52.9%) of any Democrat since LBJ in 1964. The day after his inauguration (1/20/09), Rasmussen polling showed he had a 65%-30% approval to disapproval rating.
However, that favorable view has faded fast. Unlike other two term presidents, whose popular vote percentages increased in reelection, Obama’s fell, winning with only 51% of the popular vote and by just over half his 2008 margin (3.8% to 7.3%).
Still in only his second term’s first year, his disapproval rating routinely exceeds his approval rating. His signature policy achievement fares worse. Obamacare’s disapproval margin is in double-digits in virtually every poll. And Obama’s lowest job performance ratings come on Americans’ biggest concern: the economy. Read the rest of this entry »