Category: New Posts

Colin Powell on Clinton — what's not to dislike?


Colin Powell’s leaked emails are a treasure trove of great quotes — from his recognition that everything Hillary Clinton “touches she kind of screws up with hubris” to his accusation that former President Bill Clinton is still “dicking bimbos” in his Chappaqua, N.Y., home.

The view they offer of the uncensored opinions of a respected general not known for harsh partisanship is both amusing and piquant. Powell, thinking his emails would remain private, does not mince his words, and dishes it out hard on Donald Trump and several former Bush administration colleagues.

But Powell also reveals something about Clinton that many in the news media would rather not acknowledge, which is that even her friends don’t like her.

Those who know her personally find her off-putting, just as the public does, and for the same reasons. There’s every reason to believe that Powell’s comments reflect the unvarnished views of the political elite, which mostly go unsaid.

In one email exchange, Powell calls Clinton a “friend” whom he respects, but adds that he “would rather not have to vote for her.” He then explains why: “A 70-year person with a long track record, unbridled ambition, greedy, not transformational.” Then the general adds the bit about Bill and the bimbos.

Powell is not Clinton’s BFF, but he knows her a lot better than most people do. And his close acquaintance with her does nothing to overcome his concerns about her venality and hyper-ambition. He embodies the old maxim that familiarity breeds contempt.

And that’s what appears to have happened with voters, too. Clinton has hung around for so long in public view that people know well what she is. They have not grown to like it and they never will.

Voters watched the nastiness between Clinton and then-Sen. Barack Obama in 2008, and, according to Powell’s emails, the Clintons still hold a grudge, allegedly referring to the president as “that man.”

Voters have watched Clinton shift her position on issues including trade and national security. This makes her seem like the kind person who would say or do almost anything to get elected, which is what Obama said of her in 2008.

Trump eats fast food to avoid being poisoned

Also from the Washington Examiner

Donald Trump reveals the reason he relies so heavily on fast food when he’s on the road.

09/16/16 12:58 AM

She scatters blame like grapeshot to avoid accountability for her own misdeeds. For Powell, the last straw, which came long after the email quoted above was sent, came when Clinton tried to blame him recently for her email scandal. She insinuated that she was following his advice when she set up her private email server in the basement of her country house.

Voters have also noticed her self-serving lies, her cavalier disregard for the law and her transformation of public service into a multi-million dollar personal fortune.

Tellingly, Powell suggests that these flaws are not somehow balanced out by good qualities of a “real Hillary,” a good Clinton who’s in there somewhere but remains unobserved by the public. Nope, it doesn’t exist.

In other words, the popular notion that Clinton is greedy and conniving is not the result of people not knowing the real Clinton. It’s based on people observing what she’s really like, based on her actions, her statements, her excuses and her irritation at those who try to hold her accountable.

Powell didn’t write as though he were saying anything controversial or unusual when he dissed Clinton. Everyone, really everyone, recognizes what she is, even elite Democrats. Democratic megadonor Jeffrey Leeds wrote to Powell that “no one likes her” and that she would “pummel [Obama’s] legacy” if she could, perhaps just to spite him for winning in 2008.

Clinton rejoins the trail in crucial North Carolina

Also from the Washington Examiner

The Democrat first has to right her own ship.

09/16/16 12:01 AM

The more people see (and hear) Clinton, the less they like her. There are seven weeks to go before the election. Perhaps there is enough time, but only just.

5 reporters who agree with Clinton's 'basket of deplorables'

Top Story

Some journalists think she her comments were perfectly in line with reality.

09/16/16 12:01 AM



Source link

Polling and older voters' flight from the Democratic Party


Every day, a brand-new new poll emerges in the 2016 presidential race. In fact, on most days, it seems like multiple polls are released.

How is it possible, many people want to know, that polls asking the same questions and taken during the same time yield different results? The answer to that question is both complex and simple.

First, polls are based on random-sampling respondents. Those respondents are then “weighted” by a given pollster to mirror the electorate as a whole. For example, if 1,000 people participate in a poll, the pollster adjusts the actual results to reflect the assumed percentages of men voters and women voters, older voters and younger voters, Republican voters and Democratic voters that will actually vote on Election Day.

Not surprisingly, the smaller the number of respondents in a given survey, the harder that poll is to accurately weigh. But the mathematics here is not the root problem. The difficult question every pollster has to answer is: Who will actually turn out to vote on Election Day?

Some of these current polls simply assume that the voting population on Election Day 2016 will be almost identical to the 2012 electorate.

Chuck Todd at NBC recently deconstructed a CNN poll by using the weighting from the 2012 presidential electorate. Chuck’s experiment showed a massive change in the final results of the poll. The original CNN poll had Trump winning by 2 points. The dismantled and reconfigured poll had Clinton winning by 4 points.

This experiment is a very clear example of the importance of carefully and accurately weighting a poll in order for it to have any information value to voters. MSNBC viewers may have came away with the impression that the experiment was proof the CNN poll was in error. I would argue that instead the experiment proves the error of Static Electorate Theory.

It’s almost axiomatic to say that the 2016 electorate will be different than the voters of 2012. Different groups of people are angry, energized, disgusted, and apathetic.

And we already know for a fact that over the last 4 years, there have been massive shifts in voter registration numbers in certain key states. Almost everyone agrees that four critical states this November will be Ohio, North Carolina, Florida, and Pennsylvania.

Trump eats fast food to avoid being poisoned

Also from the Washington Examiner

Donald Trump reveals the reason he relies so heavily on fast food when he’s on the road.

09/16/16 12:58 AM

What many people do not know is that these four states have 750,000 fewer registered Democrats now than four years ago. These same four states also have 200,000 more registered Republican voters than in 2012. These shifts, in key states, could have a profound impact.

Meanwhile, the mainstream media have has written quite a bit about the growth in the Hispanic population. In fact, there is so much written about it you couldn’t read it all.

Since the election in 2000 when George W. Bush narrowly beat Al Gore, our country has changed a great deal. Nearly 30,000,000 senior citizens have died since that election. What does it mean to the American population as a whole? Don’t all seniors vote the same way?

It is a little remembered fact that senior citizens were a very strong voting base for the Democrats for about 70 years, from the time of FDR’s New Deal through the Clinton White House. Al Gore won seniors by four points in 2000.

In fact, seniors only started voting Republican in 2010. Mind you, there was no sudden change of mind for seniors. The change was the result of the long, steady demise of “New Deal Democrats.”

Clinton rejoins the trail in crucial North Carolina

Also from the Washington Examiner

The Democrat first has to right her own ship.

09/16/16 12:01 AM

Six years later, we are seeing the same shift continue today. It is almost impossible to overstate the effect of both the Great Depression and the New Deal on our politics. The Democratic Party benefited for decades from loyal folks who consistently supported the party they felt rescued the nation from economic collapse. Unfortunately for Democrats, there are not many of these voters left. Those New Dealers were white, middle class and mostly moderate.

In 2000, Al Gore won 42 perent of white voters. In 2012, President Obama won 39 percent of white voters. The latest CNN Poll has Hillary Clinton capturing only 34 percent of white voters. That’s a powerful and consistent trend line.

In 2000, white voters made up 81 percent of the electorate. This year, estimates are about 75 percent of all voters will be white.

The demise of the New Deal Democrats has resulted in white voters becoming more Republican than ever before. The CNN Poll showed 67 percent of white voters had an unfavorable opinion of Clinton. If you think that’s scary, how about the fact that 70 percent of white voters believe she isn’t “trustworthy.”

The same survey said Trump was winning senior citizens by 15 percentage points, 52-37. Those kinds of numbers were not thought possible six years ago.

The make-up of this year’s presidential electorate is changing. Ignoring those changes will make for lots of surprised voters on Election Day.

Barry Bennett is a Republican Political Consultant and CEO of Synovation Solutions. This cycle he Managed Dr. Ben Carson’s Campaign and served as a Senior Advisor to Donald Trump’s Campaign. Thinking of submitting an op-ed to the Washington Examiner? Be sure to read our guidelines on submissions.

5 reporters who agree with Clinton's 'basket of deplorables'

Top Story

Some journalists think she her comments were perfectly in line with reality.

09/16/16 12:01 AM



Source link

Criminal justice reform doesn't have to mean 'soft on crime'


The phrase “criminal justice reform” is loaded with emotional impact. To some, the words translate to “soft on crime,” which has been a political mantra and damning epithet for more than 30 years. To others, it represents subjugation of the poor and minorities. Laws passed during the 1980s under the label of “reform” created vast sentencing disparities between powder and crack cocaine offenses, with crack crimes receiving sentences up to 100 times longer than those associated with powder cocaine crimes. It was not missed that crack addicts were largely economically bereft, disproportionately black, and living in the inner cities of America.

That sentiment will no doubt come to the fore as the U.S. House of Representatives plans to take up a legislative package this coming month that takes a balanced approach to criminal justice reform. Some fear these changes, believing we are on the cusp of a nationwide crime wave. In fact, on the national level, crime continues to go down. But more importantly, conservatives should welcome these reforms as long-overdue efforts to preserve fairness, protect taxpayers and reinstate the cherished values of federalism.

The statistics most often-cited as support for the belief that a crime wave is looming deal with a recent rise of violent crime in some of the nation’s biggest cities. Perhaps most alarmingly, Chicago suffered 2,988 shootings in 2015 and has seen 2,739 through Aug. 25, 2016. But it bears noting that even in Chicago, where fears about the violent crime wave certainly are legitimate, the crimes are concentrated in a few neighborhoods on the city’s South and West sides. These are areas that have struggled with crime and poverty for generations. It would be inappropriate for Congress to view its current criminal-justice-reform package – which include bills that range from raising the standard of proof needed in civil asset forfeiture cases to mens rea reform to reducing mandatory minimum sentences for drug offenses – only through the myopic lens of violent crimes in a few major cities and in a few neighborhoods of those cities.

This is particularly true when one considers that these crimes are almost solely within state and local jurisdiction and would not be affected by the federal reforms currently under consideration. Congress’ ability to micromanage criminal sentencing is limited. Most convictions are imposed at the local levels, while federal laws are more of a “meat cleaver” tool than a precision instrument.

Moreover, the modest reforms before Congress can hardly be accused of being “soft.” Not only will they save taxpayers money, but they also will help ensure at the federal level that those with violent convictions stay where they belong – behind bars. Indeed, H.R. 3713 – the measure targeted for perhaps the most criticism for allegedly being “soft on crime” – specifically excludes anyone with state or federal violent felony convictions from its mandatory minimum relief.

The legislation also increases punishment for crimes involving firearms, as well as those drug-trafficking offenses involving fentanyl or heroin, an attempt to stem the opiate epidemic seen in many parts of the United States. In short, the current criminal justice package before Congress takes a scalpel to make modest reforms that will save money and refocus attention on those who deserve to be punished.

The reforms also represent Congress’ attempt to retake ground lost in the policymaking arena and stem the tide of executive overreach. Since he took office, President Barack Obama has granted 562 commutations, including 214 issued on a single day. To put those numbers in perspective, the president has issued more commutations than the past nine presidents combined, with more likely to come. In a statement, White House Counsel Neil Eggleston boasted that “our work is far from finished. I expect the president will continue to grant clemency in a historic and inspiring fashion.” It’s important to note that many of those who received the president’s grace would not be eligible under the reforms currently before the House, because they have been deemed violent felons.

No crime should be excused and we should pursue every loss of life or property. At the same time, the 18th century English jurist Sir William Blackstone’s famous admonition was that “it is better that 10 guilty persons escape than that one innocent suffer.” That still rings true when addressing the justice system’s most important goal — fairness. Let’s remember that Lady Justice holds her scales of fairness in front of her and the sword of punishment behind her.

Arthur Rizer is Justice Policy Director at the R St. Institute. He is a former associate professor at West Virginia University College of Law and visiting professor at Georgetown University Law Center. He also spent nine years as a trial attorney with the U.S. Justice Department and served in Iraq (Purple Heart). Thinking of submitting an op-ed to the Washington Examiner? Be sure to read our guidelines on submissions.

Trump eats fast food to avoid being poisoned

Also from the Washington Examiner

Donald Trump reveals the reason he relies so heavily on fast food when he’s on the road.

09/16/16 12:58 AM

5 reporters who agree with Clinton's 'basket of deplorables'

Top Story

Some journalists think she her comments were perfectly in line with reality.

09/16/16 12:01 AM



Source link

Could Hillary's health problems lead to Bill's third term?


The ongoing debate over Hillary Clinton’s health has focused on the nature and extent of her maladies, and (as a longshot) who might replace her on the presidential ticket should she be unable to continue the campaign.

But what if Clinton’s health deteriorates after she wins the presidency?

If she were to die, the Constitution calls for her vice president, Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine, to step in. But what if a President Hillary Clinton merely becomes unwell? Again, the Constitution provides for the ascension of the vice president not only in the case of the president’s death, removal or resignation but also in the event that he or she is unable “to discharge the powers and duties” of the presidency. But what if Clinton is rendered unable to perform the duties of the presidency but no one is told about it?

This would be unusual, of course, but not unprecedented. Just look at the case of Woodrow Wilson and his second wife, Edith Wilson.

Just look at the case of Woodrow Wilson and his second wife, Edith Wilson. (AP Photo)

On October 2, 1919, President Wilson suffered a severe stroke that rendered him partially paralyzed, unable to speak and partially blind in one eye. As the president moved in and out of consciousness, Edith was left to run the government by proxy.

Woodrow continued to suffer from the effects of his stroke until the end of his presidency two years later, but the first five months were especially trying. Wilson’s personal physician, Dr. Cary Grayson, and Edith, who was extremely protective of her husband, felt total isolation gave him the best chance of survival and recovery. During those first five months, the public didn’t see its president at all.

Edith felt it was her main task to control who had access to the president. She took on most of the decision making herself. She signed documents in Woodrow’s hand, haggled with congressmen over pending legislation, issued vetoes and helped craft a State of the Union address. She even decoded secret diplomatic codes.

In “The Strangest Friendship in History,” George Viereck writes that “While Wilson was on his back, Edith exercised the functions of the President … no senator, no member of the Cabinet, not the President’s own secretary could gain a glimpse of Wilson without her permission. Her whim decided whether a king or an ambassador was to be received, whether a bill awaiting the President’s signature would become law or not … no act of Woodrow Wilson from this period until the end of his life, was undertaken without the knowledge and consent of Edith Bolling Wilson.”

Clinton rejoins the trail in crucial North Carolina

Also from the Washington Examiner

The Democrat first has to right her own ship.

09/16/16 12:01 AM

There was no doubt that Edith had taken the reins of power. As William Hazelgrove notes in his forthcoming book, “Madam President: The Secret Presidency of Edith Wilson,” “When looking through the Papers of Woodrow Wilson, one is struck by how much correspondence from 1919 to 1921 was directed toward Edith. From the debate over America’s entry into the League of Nations to winding down World War I, to the recognition of diplomats, Edith was on the front lines.”

But much of the business of the United States simply piled up at what Hazelgrove called the “Edith Wilson dam.” Miners were striking, railroads still hadn’t been returned to their owners after World War I and Coast Rica needed to be recognized as a country. But all of that had to wait—the president needed his rest.

Perhaps Edith’s greatest feat was that she kept it all secret from the public. For months, the media were told that the president was suffering from “nervous exhaustion.” Grayson regularly fed journalists cheery medical assessments.

The public was left wondering whether their president had gone crazy. Edith felt that to reveal the true nature of her husband’s illness would only encourage a coalition of senators that had formed to oppose the League of Nations, Wilson’s signature initiative. She believed resignation would destroy his greatest reason to live.

So the public was left in the dark, and the media were left to speculate. As Hazelgrove writes, “No one, including the vice president, was to be informed that President Woodrow Wilson was now a low functioning invalid.” Only Edith and Dr. Grayson knew the full extent of the damage, and to a lesser extent Ike Hoover, the president’s valet. In his diary, Hoover wrote, “Never was deception so universally practiced in the White House as it was in those statements being given out from time to time.”

Dems cave to GOP on spending offsets to fight Zika

Also from the Washington Examiner

The agreement emerged Thursday as part of a bill to fund the government through Dec. 9.

09/16/16 12:01 AM

The case of Woodrow and Edith Wilson prompted Congress to pass the 25th Amendment, which clarifies the rules of presidential succession.

Edith Wilson is sometimes referred to as the first female president. But her story prompts the following question: What would America’s real first woman president and her husband do in a similar situation?

It might seem obvious that such a deception would be impossible in today’s era of ubiquitous social media and the 24-hour news cycle.

But does anyone think that Bill and Hillary Clinton — two of the most secretive and deceptive politicians of their generation — wouldn’t at least consider orchestrating a similar cover up?

After all, Edith was able to pull it off with just two years of formal education. Bill is a former two-term president who may well be eager to assume to reins of power once again.

Daniel Allott is deputy commentary editor for the Washington Examiner

5 reporters who agree with Clinton's 'basket of deplorables'

Top Story

Some journalists think she her comments were perfectly in line with reality.

09/16/16 12:01 AM



Source link

Trump blames 'budget problems' for junk food in schools


"A lot of schools aren't providing proper food because they have budget problems and they're buying cheaper food and not as good a food," Trump said. (AP Photo/Kamil Krzaczynski)

While appearing on “The Dr. Oz Show,” Donald Trump blamed budget problems for schools’ failure to provide nutritious food for students.

“A lot of schools aren’t providing proper food because they have budget problems and they’re buying cheaper food and not as good a food,” Trump said, responding to a teacher’s question on childhood obesity. He also said obesity is “a hereditary thing, too.”

The teacher also asked Trump what he would do about schools that don’t give students enough exercise and recess time.

“When I went to school I always loved sports and I would always — I loved to eat and I loved sports and it worked,” Trump said. “Because I could do both. A lot of schools today don’t have sports programs and that is a big problem. I would try and open that up. I’m a big believer in the whole world of sports.”

Jason Russell is a commentary writer for the Washington Examiner.

5 reporters who agree with Clinton's 'basket of deplorables'

Top Story

Some journalists think she her comments were perfectly in line with reality.

09/16/16 12:01 AM

Subscribe to Alerts

Learn more about Washington Examiner’s Alerts

Loading Next Article



Source link

America's embarrassingly low economic freedom ranking


Americans love to win, especially when it comes to proving we’re freer than the citizens of other countries. But we continue to lose when it comes to our economic freedom ranking.

According to the annual rankings from the Fraser Institute in Canada, the U.S. ranks 16th in the world for economic freedom. That puts the country behind Canada, the United Arab Emirates and the United Kingdom, among others.

President Obama has overseen much of the recent decline. In 2008, the U.S. was ranked seventh in the world with an economic freedom score of 8.1 out of 10. The latest rankings use 2014 data and show the country’s economic freedom score has declined to 7.8.

Much of the decline since 2008 comes under the “sound money” component, emphasizing the importance of consistent monetary policy and long-term price stability. Largely because of annual growth in the country’s money supply, the U.S.’s sound money score has dropped from 9.7 in 2008, second-best in the world, to 9.4 in 2014, 39th in the world.

The worst part of the country’s economic freedom score, though, comes from the size of the federal government. In that area, the U.S.’s score has declined from 6.9 in 2008, 49th-best in the world, to 6.4 in 2014, 57th-best.

The good news is that the world’s average level of economic freedom has grown steadily over time. Average economic freedom was 5.3 in 1980. It’s since risen to 6.86.

Worldwide, the countries with the most economic freedom tend to have the highest per capita incomes and longer life expectancies. The amount of income held by the poorest 10 percent of the population doesn’t change much depending on economic freedom in a given country. But in countries with more economic freedom, the poorest 10 percent of their populations have much higher incomes.

Hong Kong has the highest economic freedom rating in the world, at nine out of 10. It’s followed by Singapore, New Zealand, Switzerland and Canada to round out the top five.

CAIR ties spike in anti-Muslim incidents to Trump rhetoric

Also from the Washington Examiner

Preliminary report says 2016 could become one of the worst years for anti-mosque incidents.

09/15/16 10:52 PM

Of the 159 countries included, the Republic of Congo and Libya have some of the worst economic freedom ratings, with Venezuela coming last. North Korea was not included.

Jason Russell is a commentary writer for the Washington Examiner.

Clinton dodges reporters in six-question press conference

Top Story

Clinton wouldn’t answer about when running mate Tim Kaine found out about her pneumonia.

09/15/16 4:58 PM



Source link

Quinnipiac: Voters see Trump as more transparent than Clinton


Clinton and her campaign tried to turn the tables on Trump and ask why he hadn’t released his tax returns. (AP Photo/Mary Schwalm)

GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump won’t even release his tax returns, yet voters still think he’s more transparent than Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, according to a new Quinnipiac University poll.

Fifty-four percent of likely voters said Trump is transparent, compared to 37 percent who said the same of Clinton.

In the past week, Clinton’s campaign has tried to position her as transparent, after she was accused of withholding information in the wake of her Sept. 11 “medical episode.” The campaign first claimed she was overheated, but after video surfaced of the candidate appearing unable to stand on her own, the campaign said she had been diagnosed with pneumonia the previous Friday.

This was yet another example of the campaign appearing to lie first before telling the truth. In the days since, the campaign has tried to point out that Clinton has released more medical records than Trump and that they would release more soon.

But this week, both candidates released the results of their physicals, complete with vital signs (and Trump’s testosterone level, if you were wondering).

As her health records were discussed, Clinton and her campaign tried to turn the tables on Trump and ask why he hadn’t released his tax returns, something Clinton has already done.

Apparently, that line isn’t sticking, as voters still find Trump more transparent than Clinton.

Ashe Schow is a commentary writer for the Washington Examiner.

CAIR ties spike in anti-Muslim incidents to Trump rhetoric

Also from the Washington Examiner

Preliminary report says 2016 could become one of the worst years for anti-mosque incidents.

09/15/16 10:52 PM

Clinton dodges reporters in six-question press conference

Top Story

Clinton wouldn’t answer about when running mate Tim Kaine found out about her pneumonia.

09/15/16 4:58 PM

Subscribe to Alerts

Learn more about Washington Examiner’s Alerts

Loading Next Article



Source link

Obama and the true measure of progressivism


My sense is that President Obama wanted his administration to be the capstone of a century-long, progressive project.

He wanted to consolidate the federal government’s control over key aspects of our lives and prove, once and for all, that the country would be better off. Just look at what he said.

Only eight months after taking office, he took his focus off the economy and put it on what he hoped would be his single biggest domestic achievement: healthcare reform. He came before Congress and said, specifically, “I am not the first president to take up this cause, but I am determined to be the last.”

It’s clear he saw himself as the latest in a long line of progressive leaders. This certainly explains the sheer breadth of issues he tried to take on, whether it was cap-and-trade or immigration or gun control. He wanted to lock in progressivism’s gains. But his ultimate legacy will be showing the country that progressivism in practice just doesn’t work.

Start with the healthcare bill. When he was running for office, Obama promised that it would cover every American and cut the typical family’s premium by up to $2,500 a year. Despite the American people’s clear disapproval, he rammed the bill through a Democrat-led Congress.

Six years later, there are still 33 million people without insurance, and the average family’s premium has risen by almost $5,000 since 2008. Millions of people’s insurance plans were canceled, forcing them to change coverage, and there’s been a pronounced consolidation in the industry as hospital chains gobble up small clinics and doctor’s offices.

It’s not just healthcare. We’ve also seen consolidation in the banking industry. Since Dodd-Frank became law, our country has lost on average one community financial institution per day. There are now fewer than 6,500 banks in total, the lowest level since the Great Depression.

And Dodd-Frank’s regulations have not helped the American people. Before Dodd-Frank, 75 percent of banks offered free checking. Two years after it passed, only 39 percent did. A study by Javelin Strategy and Research suggests that Dodd-Frank regulations fueled a 21 percent surge in checking fees between 2006-12.

But this consolidation is all part of the progressive vision. Free enterprise and local communities are just too messy and unreliable to solve problems. Instead, you need a big government to control big business, both of which must be run by a small, select elite — or as we call them today, “the experts.”

CAIR ties spike in anti-Muslim incidents to Trump rhetoric

Also from the Washington Examiner

Preliminary report says 2016 could become one of the worst years for anti-mosque incidents.

09/15/16 10:52 PM

This vision is very impatient with the checks and balances of the Constitution. If the experts have settled on the right idea, what’s a 200-year-old document to stop them? This more than explains why the president has routinely run around Congress and tried to enforce his policies through executive orders. And perhaps this is the most troubling aspect of his legacy: the slow, steady erosion of self-government.

There are plenty more examples, which we’ve been highlighting as part of our “Real Obama Liberal Legacy” project on Speaker.gov. But what do we have to show for all this?

The president likes to brag that “we’re in the middle of the longest streak of private-sector job creation in history.” But what he doesn’t mention is that this recovery has also been historically weak. He can point to a low unemployment rate, but it doesn’t include the near-record high of 94 million people out of the work force. For all the tax hikes and reckless spending and red tape, America is not better off.

In more and more areas of American life, President Obama has given government the starring role and pushed the people into the wings. He might consider this a success, but here’s the true measure of progressivism: After eight years of it, the vast majority of Americans say we’re on the wrong track.

Rep. Paul Ryan is speaker of the House of Representatives. Thinking of submitting an op-ed to the Washington Examiner? Be sure to read our guidelines on submissions.

Navy determines cause in fatal Blue Angels crash

Also from the Washington Examiner

A flight team member died in a test flight over Tennessee in June.

09/15/16 10:42 PM

Clinton dodges reporters in six-question press conference

Top Story

Clinton wouldn’t answer about when running mate Tim Kaine found out about her pneumonia.

09/15/16 4:58 PM



Source link

r960-c8c6c8e68b75cf7a1a3237d60c18b639.jpg

The Obama legacy: An assault on the Bill of Rights


Part of a magazine series examining The Obama Legacy. Read more about this series below.

The Bill of Rights is a barricade protecting Americans from their government. Part of President Obama’s legacy will be that he inflicted damage on that barricade, eroding freedom of speech, free exercise of religion, the right to bear arms and the right to due process.

Through his political arguments, executive actions and political leadership, Obama has taken some of the holes punched by previous presidents and made them broader or more permanent.

This means that after Obama leaves office, people will be more easily silenced, killed or disarmed by their own government. Obama is leaving behind a public less protected from state power.

Curbing speech in politics and on campus

The heart of the First Amendment is arguably the freedom to criticize the people in power. Obama’s campaign-finance proposals have directly targeted that freedom.

He took the extraordinary step in 2010 of scolding the Supreme Court in his State of the Union for their ruling in Citizens United. The mere act of scolding could be part of his legacy, as his successors will have a precedent in waging political war against the judicial branch.

Citizens United struck down a campaign-finance provision barring groups such as nonprofit organizations, corporations and unions from attacking or praising politicians close to Election Day. Obama argued that the government has the authority to limit such “electioneering communications.”

In fact, his deputy solicitor general stated in oral arguments that the government could even ban the publication of certain books too close to an election.

CAIR ties spike in anti-Muslim incidents to Trump rhetoric

Also from the Washington Examiner

Preliminary report says 2016 could become one of the worst years for anti-mosque incidents.

09/15/16 10:52 PM

The solicitor general at that time was Elena Kagan. She is now on the Supreme Court, along with Justice Sonya Sotomayor, another Obama nominee. If Obama’s third nominee, Merrick Garland, is also confirmed, “it seems quite clear that Citizens United will be reversed,” says UCLA law professor Eugene Volokh.

Volokh believes Sotomayor is less antagonistic to political speech than are Kagan and Obama, which could leave a majority in place to defend the First Amendment in many cases.

Citizens United struck down a campaign-finance provision barring groups such as nonprofit organizations, corporations and unions from attacking or praising politicians close to Election Day. (AP Photo)

He warned, however, of Obama’s legacy in another free-speech battle: campus speech codes.

Obama’s Justice Department and Education Department “have pressed for interpretations of Title IX that would essentially force universities to have speech codes,” Volokh said.

Navy determines cause in fatal Blue Angels crash

Also from the Washington Examiner

A flight team member died in a test flight over Tennessee in June.

09/15/16 10:42 PM

Obama’s DoJ has explicitly discarded the precedent on when “unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature” constitutes sexual harassment. The Justice Department, in an investigation of the University of New Mexico, stated that such conduct “constitutes sexual harassment regardless of whether it causes a hostile environment or is quid pro quo.”

Since “unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature” can include something as simple as a dirty joke, according to the government, Obama’s DoJ has arguably said universities must ban dirty jokes or even published statements about sex and sexuality that people find offensive.

This paves the road for a future DoJ to force campuses to bar all sorts of politically incorrect arguments about sexuality, including expression of religious or traditional ideas about marriage or gender roles.

Volokh has written: “The same logic, if accepted, will likewise extend to racially themed speech that some people find offensive, plus probably also anti-gay speech and the like.”

Free exercise of religion

Narrowing the free exercise of religion may also be part of Obama’s legacy.

“Freedom of worship” was often Obama’s preferred phrase, in contrast to the actual freedom guaranteed in the First Amendment, the “free exercise of religion.”

The Obama administration laid down very clear and very narrow boundaries for religious freedom.

The Obama administration argued that the Little Sisters were “mistaken” to believe that it violated their consciences to sign a form ordering their insurer to cover contraceptives. (AP Photo)

Obamacare (the Affordable Care Act) included a provision requiring employer-sponsored health insurance to cover every penny of “preventive care” for women. Obama’s Department of Health and Human Services decided that this encompasses all forms of contraception, including sterilization and morning-after contraceptives, which can kill a fertilized egg, according to the manufacturers.

Many employers objected to paying for contraception, which the Catholic Church teaches is contrary to moral law, and even more objected to covering sterilization and morning-after contraception, which can arguably induce abortion. Obama’s administration first issued a very narrow exemption covering churches. After heavy pressure, it slightly expanded the exemption to include other religious organizations.

But religious individuals operating private businesses also value their freedom of conscience and free exercise, so they challenged the rule. The administration stood up to Hobby Lobby, the family-owned chain of craft stores, whose owners argued that government was violating the 1993 Religious Freedom Restoration Act, or RFRA.

The administration argued in a legal brief that Hobby Lobby’s owners don’t have free exercise rights in their operation of their store. “Hobby Lobby is a for-profit, secular employer,” the Obama administration wrote in a brief, “and a secular entity by definition does not exercise religion.”

The principle that individuals lose their constitutional rights when they combine into groups — such as businesses or nonprofits — is the same principle behind the administration’s arguments in Citizens United. Both of Obama’s Supreme Court nominees share his view on the question.

When the Little Sisters of the Poor lost their challenge to Obama’s contraception mandate in the 10th Circuit in 2014, it was Obama appointee Scott Matheson who wrote the opinion that broke new ground.

While RFRA and all previous RFRA jurisprudence had prescribed that judges take plaintiffs at their word as to what their religious beliefs are, Matheson wrote an opinion in which he personally decided what it was that the nuns believed.

The Obama administration argued that the Little Sisters were “mistaken” to believe that it violated their consciences to sign a form ordering their insurer to cover contraceptives. Matheson agreed.

Other judges on the circuit called for a review of the case on the basis that Matheson’s ruling was “clearly and gravely wrong.”

The dissenters wrote that Matheson “does not doubt the sincerity of the plaintiffs’ religious belief. But it does not accept their statements of what that belief is. It refuses to acknowledge that their religious belief is that execution of the documents is sinful. Rather, it reframes their belief … But it is not the job of the judiciary to tell people what their religious beliefs are …”

The Obama administration argued that the judges should and could decide for the Sisters what their belief really was. Obama appointee Matheson made exactly that judgment. To date, his and Obama’s novel argument has lost in the courts. But given eight years of Obama appointees to the courts, the Obama administration’s argument could take hold. Conscience protections would evaporate.

Obama transformed the Left’s culture war stance from “live and let live” to “bake me a cake, or else.” And he brought most of the media and half of the government with him. (AP Photo)

Obama has opened up still other new fronts against the freedom of religion.

His Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, for instance, ruled that a Catholic school in Georgia must keep a gay teacher employed after he publicly announced he was marrying a man, in essence saying that codes of behavior grounded in ancient religious teaching were illegal if they clashed with modern ideas about non-discrimination that even Obama himself rejected just a few years ago.

The president’s biggest long-run impact on religious liberty may be less his legal arguments and judicial appointees than his bold political decision to provoke a culture war.

Through executive regulatory processes, Obama mandated contraception coverage (even though the Affordable Care Act doesn’t call for it). Then he (not the law itself) chose to make the religious exemptions narrow.

When Republicans pushed back, Obama’s team dialed the culture war up to maximum volume, making the mandate and religious conservatives’ requests for exemptions a centerpiece of the 2012 campaign.

Obama even put law student Sandra Fluke on stage at the Democratic National Convention in prime time to argue that allowing employers to choose whether to pay for their employees’ contraceptives amounted to letting bosses “control” “access to birth control.”

In short, Obama trolled religious conservatives. He forced them to do something they found immoral, and when they asked to be left alone, he blasted them as misogynistic theocrats.

This Obama approach spread throughout elite culture. After the Supreme Court obliged states to conduct gay marriages, Apple CEO Tim Cook took to the pages of the Washington Post to portray wedding photographers and bakers as the ones imposing their morality.

Democrats in the 1990s championed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. By the end of the Obama administration, RFRA has become a curse word, a retrograde hate-attack by the Religious Right.

Obama transformed the Left’s culture war stance from “live and let live” to “bake me a cake, or else.” And he brought most of the media and half of the government with him. This battleground, prepared by Obama, will be where future cultural battles are fought. Will Catholic hospitals be forced to perform abortions? Will Washington crack down on homeschoolers?

Second Amendment

President Obama has declared open-season on gun rights, moving gun control from a cause championed only by a passionate minority of the party’s base to a central plank in the platform, and a sine qua non for any Democrat with ambitions.

If Democrats maintain the gun-control stance that Obama has prescribed, it’s only a matter of time before they break down Second Amendment protections that have long stymied gun-controllers.

Obama didn’t move the ball legislatively, but he declared war, and his party followed him, both in ambitious gun-control policy and bombastic rhetoric. (AP Photo)

Gun control was dead in 2008 when Obama ran for president. The Heller decision, affirming the individual right to bear arms, came down at the beginning of Obama’s general-election run that year, and the presumptive nominee barely said a word.

“I have always believed that the Second Amendment protects the right of individuals to bear arms,” the candidate said in a quietly emailed statement. “I have said consistently that I believe that the Second Amendment is an individual right,” Obama argued on Fox News, “and that was the essential decision that the Supreme Court came down on.”

That was as bold as he was willing to get before taking office.

“[T]he gradual disintegration of the gun control movement that once drove Democratic politics is now pretty much complete,” Dan Schnur, a Republican operative, wrote in the New York Times.

“For decades, the true meaning of the Second Amendment has been the subject of wrenching public debate. But last Thursday, when the court expressly and historically extended the right of gun ownership to private citizens, the Democratic Party’s nominee for president merely shrugged.”

Eight years later, Heller and the Second Amendment still stand, but an army is now arrayed against it. The army is the Democratic Party, and they were led to this battle by the president.

After he won re-election, and after the school massacre at Sandy Hook, Conn., Obama went on the war path against guns. On a stage filled with children, Obama announced 23 gun-related executive orders in January 2013, which beefed up background checks, among other things.

He wrapped up his State of the Union address that month with a barn-burning bit of rhetorical fire, demanding a vote on gun control.

He began demanding Congress pass gun laws “if there’s even one life that can be saved.” Obama didn’t move the ball legislatively, but he declared war, and his party followed him, both in ambitious gun-control policy and bombastic rhetoric.

Policy-wise, some Democrats took up Obama’s flag, and called for a new “assault-weapon ban,” which would outlaw many rifles. Senate Democratic leaders, along with Pennsylvania Republican Pat Toomey, in 2013 pushed a bill requiring universal background checks, including many private sales.

In 2016, Democrats, along with Maine Republican Susan Collins, championed a bill to strip gun rights from all individuals on terror watch lists and no-fly lists.

Rhetorically, Democratic lawmakers also followed Obama’s lead.

Citing her Senate colleague Chris Murphy, Elizabeth Warren tweeted in June, “@ChrisMurphyCT said it right: The @SenateGOP have decided to sell weapons to ISIS.”

Eight years later, Heller and the Second Amendment still stand, but an army is now arrayed against it. The army is the Democratic Party, and they were led to this battle by the president. (AP Photo)

This assault on due process, and the willingness of supposedly serious lawmakers like Warren to engage in flat demagoguery, reflected how far Obama had pulled his party in eight years.

His judicial appointees agree. In a 2010 gun-control case, three liberal justices, including Sotomayor, Obama’s only appointee at the time, rejected a core idea of Heller, that individuals have the right to bear arms.

“I can find nothing in the Second Amendment’s text, history or underlying rationale that could warrant characterizing it as ‘fundamental’ insofar as it seeks to protect the keeping and bearing of arms for private self-defense purposes.”

Kagan wasn’t on the court then, but her career reveals a sclerotic view of the Second Amendment. “I’m not sympathetic” to the claim that “the District of Columbia’s firearms statutes violate [an individual’s] constitutional right to ‘keep and bear Arms,’ ” Kagan wrote, while a clerk to Justice Thurgood Marshall.

Due process, drone strikes and wiretaps

“Congress should act to make sure no one on a no-fly list is able to buy a gun,” Obama said in December 2015. “What could possibly be the argument for allowing a terrorist suspect to buy a semi-automatic weapon?”

There’s an obvious argument: The no-fly list is created without transparency or oversight. Individuals are added to the list without due process, and there is no process for getting removed. Taking away gun rights based on this list seems to violate the Fifth Amendment, which includes the words, “No person shall be deprived of life, liberty or property, without due process of law.”

Obama’s endorsement of congressional Democrats’ “No Fly-No Buy” ploy cemented the party as squarely opposed to both the Second and Fifth Amendments, a position that held firm throughout the 2016 Democratic National Convention.

This fits the pattern of Obama’s legacy on other civil liberties protected in the Bill of Rights: If you think of other recent presidents, especially President George W. Bush, as workmen who chiseled away at civil liberties, and set down their pick axe, Obama has taken up that axe and continued their work of cracking the foundation of due process and privacy rights.

Anwar al-Awlaki was an American citizen who had never been convicted, or even charged with a crime when Obama ordered him killed by a drone strike in 2011. The administration called him “an imminent threat,” but he wasn’t driving to a terrorist attack when Obama’s drones cut him down.

“It was in deliberately targeting al-Awlaki,” writes Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Charlie Savage in his book Power Wars, “that the United States on Obama’s watch broke new ground.”

Obama also set new precedents, and new records, in prosecuting leakers. “Law enforcement officials on Obama’s watch took several steps of unprecedented aggression when investigating and charging leak cases,” Savage wrote.

It wasn’t merely the number. Obama brought nine criminal leak cases, while all 43 previous presidents brought a combined total of three. Obama went after leakers at 129 times the rate of his predecessors.

The administration called American citizen Anwar al-Awlaki “an imminent threat,” but he wasn’t driving to a terrorist attack, nor was he ever convicted, when Obama’s drones cut him down. (U.S. Air Force Photo / Lt. Col. Leslie Pratt)

The president’s lawyers set this record with the help of new legal arguments, Savage laid out. They equated leaking with treason, designated a reporter a criminal coconspirator and worked to establish as a legal precedent that the First Amendment’s freedom of the press doesn’t protect reporters from being prosecuted for protecting their sources.

Obama’s legacy will also include making permanent some of George W. Bush’s post-9/11 tactics, such as military tribunals and indefinite detention of terrorist suspects.

The president, in his 2009 inaugural address, promised to take up the task of “remaking America.” The Bill of Rights, as a barricade creating a sphere of freedom from government intrusion, has always been an essential part of America. Obama has, in fact, “remade” the Bill of Rights. He leaves that sphere of freedom a bit smaller. And he leaves America diminished and more easily intimidated.

Clinton dodges reporters in six-question press conference

Top Story

Clinton wouldn’t answer about when running mate Tim Kaine found out about her pneumonia.

09/15/16 4:58 PM



Source link

Obama's military crisis needs fixing


This fall is shaping up to be a busy time for the debate on defense spending. While every military spending bill is critical, this year’s comes at a particularly significant time for our security.

In his proposal for 2017, President Obama cut $100 billion from the amount his own secretary of defense, Bob Gates, anticipated our military would need in 2017.

This estimate came well before Russia began invading its neighbors, China started creating new islands in contested waters, the president extended the mission in Afghanistan and the Islamic State declared a caliphate and began bombing European cities.

What’s worse is that while proposing a significant increase in military deployments around the world, the president has not actually asked for additional funds to pay for their missions. Instead, he again cuts tens of billions from what the services say they need for training, maintenance and replacements for weapons so worn out they can no longer be repaired.

The House and Senate are working together to address this readiness gap, beginning with the 2017 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).

The term “readiness” is used often, but what does it really mean? Readiness is the ability to prepare for, support and accomplish a mission that the political leadership asks the military to do. Being “ready” requires the right number of people, who are capable, fully trained and appropriately equipped.

Budget cuts over the last few years, coupled with the pace and the number of military deployments, have created a readiness crisis across each of the services. Unfortunately, we are beginning to witness the tragic consequences.

“Class A” aircraft mishaps, accidents that lead to fatalities or loss of the aircraft, are up 84 percent in this fiscal year over the 10-year average for the Marine Corps. Earlier this year, 12 Marines were killed in a helicopter crash during a training exercise off Hawaii, and 11 more were killed in a similar incident off Florida’s Gulf Coast last year. Similar trends are emerging in the Army.

The Washington Examiner — along with Fox News, CNN, the Washington Post and others — have revealed the real-world consequences of these trends, reporting that recent fatal domestic training accidents are causing alarm, flight-training hours are below acceptable levels and that troops are cannibalizing aircraft in museums to meet current operational needs.

CAIR ties spike in anti-Muslim incidents to Trump rhetoric

Also from the Washington Examiner

Preliminary report says 2016 could become one of the worst years for anti-mosque incidents.

09/15/16 10:52 PM

This situation is taking a real and personal toll on our most valuable resource — our people.

I have seen it in the eyes of pilots who are not getting even the minimum number of flying hours to stay proficient. I have also seen it with mechanics who are working longer and longer hours with no days off to keep those planes flying. And I have seen it in the frustration of a commander about to deploy but not knowing when — or if — he will get the equipment he needs.

Congress owes our Armed Forces a solution. That is why correcting readiness shortfalls is a major emphasis in both the House and Senate versions of the NDAA. Both bills begin to reverse cuts to troop strength, increase investments in training and maintenance programs and boost funding to rebuild crumbling facilities like barracks, runways and hangars.

Recognizing that some of our equipment is too worn out to fix, it restores funds for replacement weapons. Both bills also give our troops a pay raise and make needed reforms to acquisition and the Pentagon bureaucracy.

House and Senate Armed Services Committee leaders will continue to negotiate a final version of the NDAA, after a bipartisan majority of members in both chambers have voted to increase defense spending above current spending caps. Press reports indicate that the White House is preparing a supplemental request to fund some of the operations not covered by the president’s original budget, but not all.

Navy determines cause in fatal Blue Angels crash

Also from the Washington Examiner

A flight team member died in a test flight over Tennessee in June.

09/15/16 10:42 PM

The American people are becoming increasingly alarmed about this emergency readiness crisis facing our men and women in uniform. Understandably so. Congress has a responsibility to do what is right for our troops and our security, and to do it immediately.

Mac Thornberry represents Texas’ 13th congressional district in the House of Representatives. Thinking of submitting an op-ed to the Washington Examiner? Be sure to read our guidelines on submissions.

Clinton dodges reporters in six-question press conference

Top Story

Clinton wouldn’t answer about when running mate Tim Kaine found out about her pneumonia.

09/15/16 4:58 PM



Source link