Congress and DOJ debate about IRS: What they say and why it matters

By Michael Vass | July 19, 2014

On July 17, 2014 as Deputy Attorney General James Cole spoke to the House Oversight and Government Reform Subcommittee on Economic Growth, Job Creation and Regulatory Affairs. For those that may have listened to any of the prior Oversight Committee’s hearings on the IRS scandal and Lois Lerner, the lack of a legal dictionary surely has made its impression known. We would feel quite safe in stating that at points (especially once Rep. Gowdy gets on a roll) the average American can become quite lost as various legal precedents, rules and regulations, and legal opinions are cited.

A substantial portion of the more than 3 hour long hearing on July 17th was dedicated to what the Department of Justice (DOJ) is, can, and must do in regard to the investigation of the IRS abusing its power and targeting Americans based on their political beliefs. The simple summary of the hearing was that the DOJ cannot and will not discuss any part of the investigation not already known by the public – which is incredibly little.

Expanding beyond that oversimplified summary, there was a long debate – still unresolved – over the issue if the Attorney General (a political appointee) is being impartial and fulfilling his duties to the full extent of the power of the DOJ. Democrats on the Committee cited questions and testimony trying to support AG Eric Holder and the DOJ as being lambs stalked by the political aspirations of the Republicans. For their part, Republicans cited the disbelief the American public has with regard to the IRS abuse (and sudden loss of emails), President Obama’s assertion that there was not a “smidgen” of wrong-doing, and that the DOJ has apparently done nothing to get to hold wrong-doers accountable.

Before we go further, let’s clarify where the American people appear to be. In May 2013, a Quinnipiac University national poll found

“American voters say 76 – 17 percent, including 63 – 30 percent among Democrats, that a special prosecutor should be appointed to investigate charges the Internal Revenue Service targeted conservative groups…”

More recently a Fox News poll asked,

“Do you think Congress should continue to investigate the Internal Revenue Service’s targeting of hundreds of conservative and tea party groups until someone is held accountable, or not?
Jun 21-23 2014: Yes-74%, No-21%, Don’t Know-5%”

Thus, according to polls and not the partisan preferences of Dems in Congress, the IRS hearings are on target. Equally, the DOJ seems to be remiss in their duty to take action. The public wants accountability, and so far a contempt charge has been the only visible example of holding anyone accountable.

Which brings us to Lois Lerner and the contempt charge from Congress. On May 7th the House of Representatives voted 231 to 187 in favor of charging Lerner with contempt. To date the DOJ has taken no action to bring the contempt charge to a grand jury. The reasoning that Deputy AG James Cole stated was the May 30, 1984 Office of Legal Counsel opinion written by Ted Olson. The opinion, called Olson by Cole and several members of the Committee during the testimony, asserts prosecutorial discretion.

At this point more than a few following the hearing got lost. Even several of the Committee members, including ranking Democrat Rep. Cummings was confused. A continuous debate went on for the rest of the hearing focused on a single word “shall”.

So lets focus on this and why it is important.

First is prosecutorial discretion. In effect it means that a prosecutor has the right to pick what cases they may bring to trial. In the most broad sense, as used by President Obama, this was the means used to rewrite immigration law in 2012 and allow tens of thousands of illegal aliens to avoid deportation. Regardless of a crime being committed or not, a prosecutor can choose to not bring a case to trial that they think they cannot win – or in the case of President Obama, that political partisanship would prefer not to occur. Prosecutors cannot be forced to go to trial.

A congressional contempt citation – 2 U.S. Code § 192 – Refusal of witness to testify or produce papers – is when any person before Congress or a Committee “refuses to answer any question pertinent to the subject under inquiry“. This is what Lois Lerner did when she answered some questions and then enacted her 5th Amendment right on other questions. The penalty

“…shall be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor, punishable by a fine of not more than $1,000 nor less than $100 and imprisonment in a common jail for not less than one month nor more than twelve months.”

The enforcement of the contempt citation is found under 2 U.S. Code § 194, and states

“…it shall be the duty of the said President of the Senate or Speaker of the House, as the case may be, to certify, and he shall so certify, the statement of facts aforesaid under the seal of the Senate or House, as the case may be, to the appropriate United States attorney, whose duty it shall be to bring the matter before the grand jury for its action.”

So to summarize, Lois Lerner initially spoke to Congress and professed her innocence. She then took the 5th when asked about what she did or did not do that seemed to conflict with that claim of innocence. Because of this seesaw of answers, Lerner was held in contempt. The United States attorney, who works for the Department of Justice, is required (that is where the “shall” comes in) to bring this to a grand jury, and if they believe a case can be won, to trial. This has not been done, and Deputy AG Cole claims this is because of prosecutorial discretion via the opinion of Olson.

So what is Olson? It states

“As a matter of statutory construction and separation of powers analysis, a United States Attorney is not required to refer a congressional contempt citation to a grand jury or otherwise to prosecute an Executive Branch official who carries out the President’s instruction to invoke the President’s claim of executive privilege before a Committee of Congress.”

In other words, in the opinion of Ted Olson, 30 years ago, high ranking political appointees of the President cannot be brought before a grand jury. Thus AG Eric Holder, who also was held in contempt of Congress, was not brought before a grand jury – he is a political appointee with Executive privilege. But Lois Lerner was not.

Thus, what Deputy AG Cole tried to present as a reason not to place Lois Lerner in front of a grand jury is a fiction. Not only is this opinion of Ted Olson not law (though it is legally binding on the Executive Branch), more importantly it does not apply. Lerner did not serve at the pleasure of the President, but was an employee of the IRS – which is part of the Executive Branch. If the contempt charge was placed against IRS Director John Koskinen then Olson might apply, but that is not the case.

So why does this matter? What does all the boring legalese come down to in the end?

It matter because this is about accountability. This is about an abuse of power by the IRS, against American citizens who were exercising their 1st Amendment rights. If any Agency or Branch of the Government is allowed to silence any amount of speech based solely on political preferences, and there is no accountability for that violation, then in effect the 1st Amendment ceases to exist.

The rule of law must apply to Lois Lerner, and the IRS. That’s why a majority of Americans want a special prosecutor and people held accountable. If the DOJ does nothing, they violate the purpose of the DOJ and the freedoms all Americans enjoy every day. Using a legal opinion that does not apply, to subvert law, even as the President tries to divert the public’s attention and opinion, is just a very long-winded way to take freedoms from the people and give that power to the Executive Branch.

It may be boring, but in our non-legal opinion this is a critical issue that most of the mainstream media is ignoring at the detriment of the masses.

Rating 3.00 out of 5

Clinton supporters send a message to 2016 Dem hopefuls

By Michael Vass | July 18, 2014

Even the most casual observer of politics knows that Hillary Clinton is the front-runner for the Democrat nomination for the Presidential race. Again. But unlike in 2007, when an unknown and untested junior Senator appeared and stole her spotlight, Hillary supporters are on the attack even without an official statement from Clinton.

One of the most recent Democrat hopefuls to feel the wrath of the spectre of Hillary for President 2016 is Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley. Gov. O’Malley has announced that he is done waiting for the former Secretary of State to officially decide what has been observed to be a de facto campaign for the presidency disguised as a Clinton book tour. He has already started to set speaking dates in bellwether Democrat-leaning States like Massachusetts, California, and Wisconsin.

Yet, outside his home State, Gov. O’Malley may best be know for his comments in 2012. It was September 2nd, and Gov. O’Malley was asked a critical question as the race of the Presidency was heating up. Bob Schieffer, of CBS’ Face the Nation, asked if the nation was better off than 4 years prior. Gov. O’Malley stated, as we quoted at the time,

“No, but that’s not the question of this election. The question, without a doubt, we are not as well off as we were before George Bush brought us the Bush job losses, the Bush recession, the Bush deficits, the series of desert wars — charged for the first time to credit cards, the national credit cards.”

Gov. O’Malley would go on to backtrack that statement almost immediately. By Sept. 7th, he was back in line with the pro-Obama gameplan and announced on MSNBC that America was better off. As a side note – on this day in 2008 the number of unemployed was 13.5 million with 80 million not in the laborforce. In 2012 those numbers were 22.8 million & 87.8 million respectively. Today the figures are 18.8 million & 92.2 million. It would seem the right answer was the first one.

Still, Maryland’s Governor was undaunted. He has moved forward with plans to run for President, assuming the masses cannot remember his flip-flops from 4 years ago. But the Clinton machine does not forget, and they do not like competition.

That might explain why after criticizing the White House on the illegal alien children crisis (and taking away the thunder of Hillary Clinton), equating deportation of these children to “certain death”, there was a leak of a private (at least it was private at the time) conversation between Gov. O’Malley and an annoyed White House Domestic Policy Director Cecilia Muñoz. Confirmed by the White House, Gov. O’Malley stated,

“…not to send any of the children to the facility in Westminster, Md., that the White House was looking at. It’s a conservative part of the state, he warned.”

In 2 sentences Gov. O’Malley’s chances of becoming President in 2016 have now been damaged. The hypocrisy of trying to appear immigration friendly, as long as it does not affect his State, and an attack on Conservatives (implying they would harm children) is sure to cut at any support he is garnering. While likely recoverable – as Gov. O’Malley will once again flip-flop the public record – the bigger message was sent with full clarity. The White House accepts no criticism and friends of Hillary Clinton will make sure you don’t get too far ahead to make a difference. That was the conclusion of CNN

Coincidentally, the leak on O’Malley has come out at the same time that a NBC News/Marist poll of Democrats in Iowa and New Hampshire shows landslide support of Hillary Clinton vs VP Joe Biden. Of course the poll did not consider Gov. O’Malley or even New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, or any other prominent Democrat whispering about a run in 2016.

The fireworks have begun. Hillary Clinton has a lead, and her supporters want to keep it that way.

Rating 3.00 out of 5

Putting WH Press Secretary Earnest claim of “most transparent” to the test

By Michael Vass | July 17, 2014

On July 13, 2014, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said,

“I have a responsibility in this job to try to help the president live up to his commitment to be the most transparent president in history.”

President Barack Obama
We found this to be a compelling statement considering our attempts to learn the average cost of a round of golf for President Obama. In fact we were willing to even have just the cost of 1 round of golf. Our efforts involved FOIA request to the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) and to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB).

On March 20, 2013 we made a FOIA request of the GAO – Why won’t the White House answer the question?. On March 26, 2013 we made the same FOIA request of the OMB, with a response on April 17, 2013 – OMB apparently believes Pres. Obama golf rounds are for free.

These FOIA requests were made in response to a question asked by Jonathan Karl of ABC News on March 14, 2013 (which we covered in article So how much does it cost for President Obama to golf?),

“How much does it cost for him to go and play golf?”

After 34 days of research and requests, the net result was essential that there is no cost that can be attributed to a single round of golf played by President Obama since 2009. A laughable response until you consider that this is taxpayer money we are dismissing.

But 2014 is a new year, Josh Earnest is a new Press Secretary, and perhaps the Obama Administration has suddenly become a more transparent Administration since our last FOIA request. So we decided to take up Secretary Earnest and ask our question again – with a few more specifics to see if that would help.

The following FOIA request was sent to the OMB on July 17, 2014 @ 2:56am:

Subject: FOIA request for information about 7/12/2014 golf outing at TPC Potomac

To whom it may concern,

I am a member of the press representing the Examinier.com and M V Consulting, Inc’s political news and commentary division.

I am requesting cost amounts related to the July 12,2014 round of golf involving President Obama, ESPN co-host Michael Wilbon, White House aide Marvin Nicholson, and co-founder of Silver Lake Partners Glenn Hutchins. This round of golf took place at TPC Potomac at Avenel Farm in Potomac, Maryland as reported by the press.

To be specific, I am requesting:

1) The cost of gas and aviation fuel (if applicable) to transport President Obama to and from the golf course, as well as all members of staff that accompanied the President.

2) The average cost of non-salaried staff that had not volunteered their time, and were at this golf outing, as well as the approximate number of non-salaried staff.

3) The approximate cost of salaried staff under the same conditions as non-salaried staff.

4) The above can exclude any figures of Secret Service staff, or other applicable individuals where national security concerns may be involved.

5) The cost of food and refreshments for all involved including staff.

6) The cost of grounds fees.

7) The total of any donations of fees, food, refreshments, services, ect that were provided to the President and staff to reimburse or otherwise compensate the costs of this golf outing. In addition the name(s) of the institutions/organizations/individuals that made these donations if allowed by law to be reported.

8) Any and all other reasonably applicable costs in conjunction with this golf outing.

If the OMB does not have these records and another Department or Agency does have this information, we ask for the contact information to whomever we should be making this FOIA request with.

If there is specific legislation that prevents disclosure of part and/or the total of the records we have requested, we ask for the specific title of that legislation.

I thank you for your efforts in this matter.

Sincerely

Michael Vass

We hope to see an example of the “most transparent” Administration that Secretary Earnest has proffered to the American people. We will provide, verbatim as always, any and all responses from the OMB as we receive them.

Rating 3.00 out of 5

Can Congress sue the President?

By Michael Vass | July 17, 2014

The headline question facing the nation has far-reaching consequences and cannot be taken lightly. Executive Power is a serious matter. Politics alone is never reason enough for such a powerful issue.

Given is the fact that the political parties are always biased in regard to this. Under Republican presidents Democrats scream outrage, and vice versa. All presidents push the envelope of Executive Power during their tenure. Thus the real question is where is the line that a President dare not cross, and what should be done when it is crossed?

Speaker Boehner has chosen the changes to Obamacare that President Obama unilaterally put into place for his line in the sand. There is no question that the President took action without Congress, as well as that the changes were changes in law and not just execution of the law. So the question of standing – the first hurdle that a lawsuit must clear to move forward – is valid.

But Obamacare is not the only case that can be claimed as crossing the line. The unilateral action on immigration – DACA – violates Executive Power as defined in the Constitution in that it affects an entire class of people, not a case by case discretion which is solidly in the purview of the Executive Branch. Lesser arguments can be made for violation of the War Powers Act last summer with Syria and even earlier with the bombing of Libya. There are many other examples that can be used, with varying degrees of support and credibility, but the point is that the Presidential overreach is occurring regardless of the issue used for the lawsuit being proposed.

So Speaker Boehner has picked potentially the best case to make the argument, at a time when the President has repeatedly publicly stated he will act unilaterally on a host of issues in debate in Congress. Still Rep. Slaughter, during the House Rules Committee hearing on the lawsuit July 16, 2014, took the partisan position of defending the Party first and the Constitution a far second.

“Furthermore the Constitution gives the Congress the power to write the laws. The legal theory put forward by the Republicans to explain why this lawsuit should prevail relies on the notion that somehow President Obama has nullified the House’s legislative power. This is simply not the case.”

Just as a quick summary response to Rep. Slaughter we provide the following from Forbes (2/24/14)

“But Obama has changed all of that, instead using executive orders on offense, to trigger a set of policy changes he wants but fears Congress won’t enact… frustrated by the inability of Congress to pass immigration reform, Obama kicked off his own set of reforms by executive order, halting the legal deportation of thousands of immigrants in the U.S. illegally… Congress won’t pass gun control? No problem, as Obama signed 23 executive orders on gun control, a couple of recent ones setting up possible confiscation of guns using the Affordable Care Act… Obama has found yet another use for executive orders: changing and amending his own laws… Don’t like the mandate on small companies? Fine, we’ll just postpone it. How about the requirements on big companies? Fine, we can ease those too. In all, the president has issued 22 modifications or delays of his signature legislation.” [emphasis added]

There is no lack of documentation, reports and commentary that support a simple conclusion, President Obama has executed law. In fact, at the 2014 State of the Union Address, President Obama made his intent crystal clear

“I’m eager to work with all of you,” a confident Mr. Obama told lawmakers of both parties in the 65-minute nationally televised speech in the House chamber. “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.” [emphasis added]

Thus the question becomes, without partisan defense of their own party for political self-interest, has the Executive Branch grown in power such that it today exceeds the intended limits outlined in the Constitution?

We believe that the House Rules Committee testimony of Johnathan Turley, a George Washington Law School professor, outlines the issue and the resolution.

We agree with Speaker Boehner, Rep. Sessions, Elizabeth Foley, Johnathan Turley, Georgia State University law professor Neil Kinkopf (accusing President Bush of presidential overreach), U.S. District Court Judge Vaughn R. Walker (who ruled against the Bush & Obama Administration’s claim of state secrets privilege for warrantless surveillance program) on Presidential overreach. Easily since President Franklin D. Roosevelt authorized the internment of Japanese Americans with Executive Order 9066 in February 1942, if not even before that time, the power of the Executive Branch has steadily grown and is now far out of balance with the Congress and courts in our opinion.

Can Congress sue the President? Yes. More importantly the Congress must act, not just because of the promise of even further unilateral legislation, but because the power of the Executive is a slippery slope to a form of Government that our Founding Fathers created the Constitution to fight against.

Our conclusion is that the greatest benefit to the nation, now and in the future, is a direct action to curtail the overreach of the Office of the President. Because as John Nichols (Washington correspondent for THE NATION) said in part in 2007,

“He has taken powers unto himself that were never intended to be in the executive. And, frankly, that when an executive uses them, in the way that this president has, you actually undermine the process of uniting the country and really focusing the country on the issues that need to be dealt with. Let’s be clear. If we had a president who was seeking to inspire us to take seriously the issues that are in play and to bring all the government together, he’d be consulting with Congress. He’d be working with Congress. And, frankly, Congress, through the system of checks and balances, would be preventing him from doing insane things…”

Those words apply as much today as they did 7 years ago, if not more. IF Congress fails to act, imagine what will be said about Presidential overreach in another 7 years.

Rating 3.00 out of 5

Self inflicted wounds: illegal alien child crisis

By Michael Vass | July 15, 2014

Since 2008, Democrats and President Obama have promised supporters immigration reform. Until 2012, that was all that was done. Even with the power of a supermajority at hand and a campaign promise to create immigration reform in the first year of the Obama Presidency. But in 2012 President Obama and Senate Democrats decided the time was ripe (and the pressure of a presidential election was around the corner) to again promise reform. This time, with full awareness that House Republicans were vehemently opposed to a path to citizenship that Dems insisted on, President Obama subverted the power of Executive Orders to circumvent Congress and create new law for a class of people – children of illegal immigrants. The floodgate was opened.

Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) established that at least tens of thousands, if not more, illegal aliens would not have immigration laws enforced upon them. The primary focus of this “get out of jail” Executive Order masquerading as law are those 18 and under. Politically it was a gambit to force immigration reform discussions, as it seemed to be assumed that no politician would dare risk being seen as targeting helpless children. The gambit succeeded in galvanizing opponents of a path to citizenship, polarizing the issue further, and motivating parents in 3rd world nations.

That last part is hypercritical. All parents love their children, all want their child to have a better life. In forcing new law upon America, President Obama equally made an open invitation to the parents, effectively placing the thought that children will not be deported in the minds of illegal aliens around the globe.

Thus in approximately 9 months some 57,000 (depending on the source you use) unaccompanied children have landed upon US shores. This includes those that are sick, with diseases including swine flu, dengue fever, Ebola virus and tuberculosis – though the magnitude of such infectious disease is unknown. With such huge numbers of minors, young gang members have also infiltrated the rush to enter America illegally – yet only 16 such gang members have been reported to date.

In total, the influx of unaccompanied illegal minors has led to President Obama requesting $3.7 billion in emergency funding to address the situation that has already overtaxed several States ability to address the flood. That works out to a cost of $64,912 per child to date. That’s more than the cost of a year of college ($23,066 average 4-year program) or even 4 years at a State college ($57,168 average) [ National Center for Education Statistics]

As bad as all this may sound, it gets worse. The White House estimates that an additional 150,000 unaccompanied illegal minors will enter the nation in the next year. If the cost burden were to stay constant, it would require an additional $9.7 billion in that year alone.

As Mexican comedian and legal immigrant Paul Rodriguez stated on CNN

“Let’s just say we allow this [57,000] to stay here and grow up in American and go to our schools. What do we say to the 60,000 that are going to follow them. And the 150,000 that will follow. Can we house them all Father [panelist on the program with Rodriguez]? Do we have the whereabouts? We can’t even take care of our own kids now.” – 1:28 in the video of discussion on CNN

In creating DACA, in attempting to force immigration reform without bi-partisan compromise, in trying to obligate a path to citizenship, President Obama and Democrats have effectively started down a path that turns into a vortex of ever growing numbers of illegal alien children, from every corner of the globe, as parents from Africa to China, to Honduras and beyond opt to risk sending their children to America for a better life – or to skip the line of legal immigration lest their child be denied entry or delayed.

In many ways this is akin to the 1983-85 famine crisis in Ethiopia. While tens of millions of dollars in aide were donated internationally, the inadvertent effect was sustaining a corrupt government, siphoning of funds to para-military groups, and extended suffering for tens of thousands of Ethiopians that the world was trying to help. In America’s crisis, the more that is done to enable these children to remain in the nation, the more children that will come.

Politicians rarely understand the consequences of their actions. Most are content with kicking a problem down the road to a time when they will no longer be in office and have to deal with the aftermath of their actions. But children are hardly skipping stones. The damage is equally to America, the parents of these unaccompanied minors, and the children that must endure immense hardships without their loved ones.

There are no winners in this game of political oneupmanship on immigration reform that President Obama has used to skewer the nation upon. The only lasting answer, that prevents the unintended tragedy as well as the long-term damage to our economics and law, is to act with compassion and swiftness in returning these children to the nations they originated from while destroying the law-breaking invitation that is DACA.

Perhaps then bipartisan action can resume on a solution to immigration reform that neither Party will love, but will benefit America the most.

Rating 3.00 out of 5

If you don’t agree with Obama Administration you must be a racist – well not quite

By Michael Vass | July 15, 2014

Once again, as the Obama Administration fall under fire again, the ultimate go-to for Democrats and Liberals has been used. If you disagree with President Obama, and Attorney General Eric Holder, you must be racist. What else could it be?

At least that is the conclusion AG Holder wants America to draw.

“There’s a certain level of vehemence, it seems to me, that’s directed at me [and] directed at the president,” Holder told ABC News. “You know, people talking about taking their country back . . . There’s a certain racial component to this for some people. I don’t think this is the thing that is a main driver, but for some there’s a racial animus.”

Inherent in the words used by AG Holder is a verbal dexterity that is expected of someone at the top ranks of the Government. With just 2 sentences he is able to lay a blanket over a swath of people that may disagree with the policy and actions of the President. He covers them with a title of racist. A term, rightly filled with anger from the trials and tribulations of the 1960′s, that since the political correctness movement of the 1990′s has been used to end any further discussion upon its utterance.

Except that this is all claptrap. It is a means to silence opposition, to end debate, to force compliance. It is the solution to a problem that otherwise has no positive outcome for the Obama Administration.

Just for a second, consider the ultimate test to determine racism. Take the argument being made and replace the target with a person of the opposite color (or sex, ect). Is the statement/situation still bias? If so, then it is assuredly racist. If not, then it is just wool over the eyes.

Let’s try this out.

‘There’s a certain level of vehemence, it seems to me, that’s directed at President Bush’ – is that racist? Well beyond being accurate, NO. You can substitute any President and the statement will always be true. Race is NOT a factor.

‘You know, people talking about taking their country back [from President Bush, or Bill Clinton, or Jimmy Carter]. . . There’s a certain racial component to this for some people. I don’t think this is the thing that is a main driver, but for some there’s a racial animus.’ – Still true? NO. Certainly there were and are people furious with the economic and international policies of each of President. Certainly there were people shouting how each president (and literally any president) was destroying some aspect of the nation during their tenure (like in the 60′s and 70′s). But none of them were about race.

Of course someone will say that’s because they were all White. Fair enough. But even at the height of the Obama public opinion, in 2008, Politico noted the study by Stanford University and AP/YahooNews

“Race is not the biggest factor driving Democrats and independents away from Obama. Doubts about his competency loom even larger, the poll indicates. More than a quarter of all Democrats expressed doubt that Obama can bring about the change they want, and they are likely to vote against him because of that.”

Thus, from day one, negative racial impressions – within Democrats and Independents that President Obama won with large numbers in both 2008 and 2012 – have always existed and have not prevented his Administration from moving forward.

More importantly, the scandals and problems that AG Holder and President Obama are facing have nothing to do with race. Fast & Furious, NSA, IRS, Benghazi, VA, even the massively failed launch of Obamacare are all independent of any implication of race. In each case the issues are solely about the inefficient and incompotent administration of rules and regulations and operation of the Government.

With regard to President Obama’s promises to circumvent Congress to enact partisan legislation the President prefers, the issue is with the powers of the Executive Branch. The rulings of the Supreme Court, which the Obama Administration dislikes, are about the power of the Executive Branch. Lastly, for AG Holder, the contempt charges he has faced, and the pressure on him currently is based solely on the performance of his duties and executing the law as it stands.

In each case, ANY President and AG can be substituted for our current ones, and the result will not change due to race. Bad governance is not impacted or decided by skin color, religion, or anything but performance. The failures of President Obama and AG Holder are strictly because they have failed in their duties. In fact, if anything, the media has downplayed their failures in comparison to other Presidents and AG’s, arguably due to their race and the fear of being called racist.

But there is one more thing to consider. It is most aptly described by this meme found on Facebook

RacismforObama

Is it racism to disagree with the political view of one man, even of color, while you support the opposite political views of several men, also of color?

The groups, alluded to by AG Holder and often targeted by Democrats and Liberals – including Sen. Harry Reid and Rep. Nancy Pelosi to name just 2 elected officials of note – that are berated as racist support many people of color. They just happen to hold political views separate of Democrats and President Obama. How does that make their support of political beliefs that are ensured by the 1st Amendment inherently racist? How is it racist when people of color are supported for their political beliefs, while other people of color are not supported due to their job performance? Where does race factor in?

It doesn’t.

Ultimately, there is no question that race is a difficult subject for America. Racism, like homophobia, religious intolerance, and other prejudices, exists and affects people across the nation everyday. But, such difficulties are not a factor in the failures of the Obama Administration and its policies. While claiming so may sell newspapers and bring eyeballs to videos, even motivating some parts of the electorate, it fails any real analysis and lacks any proof.

To disagree with President Obama, like any president, is primarily an expression of our 1st Amendment rights and a reaction to the job performance observed by the public. To seek to eliminate valid objections and silence opposition under a banner of racism is a disrespect to the public and our political system.

Rating 4.00 out of 5

Spinning economic growth without spurring growth

By Michael Vass | July 13, 2014

President Barack ObamaThe Obama Administration has had one consistent triumph in regard to economic policies – it knows how to spin the numbers. The fact that this has been one of the slowest recoveries after a recession would normally indicate that the economic policy chosen has been lacking, but for the Obama Administration it somehow justifies plowing ahead as long as the headlines sound good.

A critical example of this has been the unemployment rate. As the headline grabbing percentage has decreased there has been huge cries of economic policy success. Sadly these cheers of the headline data fail to provide even a glimmer of the true economic snapshot.

Since the recession started, there has been a non-stop decrease in the participation rate. The current participation rate is 62.8%, a low not seen in decades. It means that there are fewer Americans working than at any point since the 1950′s. The benefit of this (politically) is that the headlines show a decrease in unemployment when the reality is that there is an increase in the number of people no longer being counted in the calculation. We recently reviewed the underlying data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics in the article 6.1% Unemployment Rate: celebrate the headline, fear the facts

We also spoke about that trend in January 2013 – 6.8% Unemployment – another rose colored report – repost 1/10/14

“Since November 2008 there has been a continuous decrease in the number of people working in the nation. In that time there has been a drop of 3.1% in the participation rate, with no signs of improvement in the BLS data [http://www.bls.gov]. Yet, with a lower participation rate, the unemployment figure has decreased in December 2013 – because 400,000 people just don’t count anymore.”

But this game of hide-and-seek with the pertinent underlying economic data is hardly the sum total of the Obama Administrations attempt to claim success where there is none. The latest example is a bit of a shell game, where the general impression is an improvement that does not exist.

On July 12th, the Obama Administration announced the SupplierPay initiative. The plan is that some private companies, like the federal government, will pay smaller companies that provide goods to the larger company in a faster timeframe. The target goal is payment for goods and services in 15 days.

“The White House said that program [QuickPay - federal version] has accelerated more than $220 billion worth of payments to federal contractors…”

Note the wording. Accelerated payments. Not new payments or sales. How does this spur growth?

Company X sells 15 widgets for $1000. Company X sends a bill for the sale to their Client, who normally pays in 30 days. But due to the Obama initative SupplierPay (or QuickPay) Company X has their money in 10 days. Should Company X start hiring new employees?

Of course not. Company X did not make a larger profit. Company X did not get new sales. The cost of raw goods and production has not been affected. Nothing has changed for Company X – so the result is NOT economic growth. It does circulate money through the banking system, but that is not the stated goal and a subject for a different discussion.

Yet it sounds like this is a massive positive. It sounds like Company X has more money, even though they only have exactly the same money they expected to have.

Much like the unemployment rate headline hiding the real problem in the participation rate, the headline of paying small companies faster does not directly create economic growth in those companies. This is the economics of headlines. There is no substance. There is no improvement.

Once again we suggest that President Obama, and the Congress, work to lower the corporate tax rate. A bi-partisan idea that has been trotted out every election year and then packed away without being addressed. It is one economic policy that has yet to be tried, and the one with an actual history of effectiveness.

If economic policy for the nation is to be anything more substantive than a headline, our Government must seek out effective policies that actually affect growth. That means that both the President and Congress must work together. It means that attempts to placate the American people – and the deception via obfuscation of facts – must cease. Spinning headlines does not create jobs or improve the economy, even when President Obama is doing the spin.

America’s economy and people deserve better than spin as policy.

Rating 4.00 out of 5

Shock and awe: illegal aliens send kids in hopes of DREAM Act protections

By Michael Vass | July 11, 2014

Often in the world of politics, politicians consider the laws they enact completely devoid of consequences. A law to obligate consumer spending (such as on health care), or a short-term bonus for purchasing cars (cash for clunkers) is completely separate of the commensurate decrease in consumer spending. The examples are endless, and non-partisan. Yet, reality always proves that every legislative action has a reaction, intended or not. Which brings us to immigration.

Upon the 2008 victory of President Obama, Democrats seized upon the idea of immigration reform. Just the idea, as they took no action to create legislation though there was initially a supermajority for Dems in the House, Senate, and presidency. That idea was the DREAM Act. A way to provide a path to citizenship for millions of illegal aliens – an idea that was unpopular with the general public and resulted in no action beyond election campaign soundbites.

But in 2012 President Obama decided that waiting for Congress to enact immigration reforms under a bi-partisan law was too time consuming. Thus he acted via Executive Order, in a manner directly not authorized by the Constitution and expressly objected to when Senator Obama was still running for the highest office in the land, to modify the DREAM Act. The result was dubbed the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA).

DACA was forced upon the nation and allowed tens of thousands of illegal aliens to remain in the United States, flaunting written law, as long as they were:

  • Been under the age of 31 on June 15, 2012
  • Arrived to the United States before reaching their 16th birthday
  • Continuously resided in the United States from June 15, 2007 (last five years) to the present
  • Entered without inspection before June 15, 2012, or had any lawful immigration status expired on or before June 15, 2012

    These key points meant that the children of illegal aliens were suddenly a protected class. While their parents remained, supposedly, at risk of deportation and the rule of law those kids that qualified were exempt. Unless the August 2013 ICE directive Facilitating Parental Interests in the Course of Civil Immigration Enforcement Activities, is not considered. The ICE directive

    “…was to expand the president’s amnesty-by-executive fiat beyond the so-called DREAMers to cover also illegal aliens who are parents or caretakers of children — anybody’s children, anywhere, of any immigration status.”

    It is accepted without question that all parents want a better life for their children. Equally accepted is the fact that people living in 3rd world nations would prefer a higher quality of life. Given these facts, almost anyone – except politicians who cannot see the consequences for their actions beyond the next poll or election race – can infer the response. As long as President Obama is in office, as long as Democrats talk up immigration reform and the path to citizenship, the children of illegals will be less likely to be deported and have a higher quality of life. Built on the emotional foundation, the fight to prevent illegal alien families from being separated further locks illegal aliens in America.

    It is this consequence of Executive Order, and political promises, issued under a premise of zero accountability that leads to the surge of illegal immigrant children entering the nation. Literally, in 3rd world nations across the globe, the actions and words are taken as an invitation. Send your children, and America will take care of them. Once the children are in the system, they will become de facto citizens and eventually the parents can come to America as well.

    This really isn’t a question of if this scenario is a reality. We need only look at our borders today, more than 52,000 children have entered the nation in the past 9 nines alone. A 900% increase. A consequence that was predictable, and inevitable. An increase that is projected to grow to 150,000 minors in the next year.

    Thus we are faced with a scenario very similar to that described by Senator Obama in March 2008

    Either America is willing to continue to invite illegal aliens, via the use of Executive Orders that expand the power of the Executive Branch in a manner that the 2008 Senator and congressional law professor directly stated was unconstitutional; OR, America must uphold the rule of law and hold illegal aliens accountable. Currently, the White House request of $3.7 billion to address the current surge of illegal minors seems to indicate the course the nation is on.

    Ultimately, no one in America should be shocked or amazed. America, via Democrats and President Obama, have invited illegal minors and thus their parents since 2008 and these illegal aliens are accepting the offer in droves. This “crisis” will not end, no matter how much money is thrown at it, until the invitation is rescinded and the rule of law (and not the partisan political whims of Executive Orders) is enforced.

    Rating 3.00 out of 5
  • Supreme Court decision contrast with NSA, Drones

    By Michael Vass | July 10, 2014

    With the current lull in scandals involving the White House, we wanted to take a moment to reflect upon one of the recent decisions of the Supreme Court. The case of Riley v California is a strong affirmation of the 4th Amendment, but how does this contrast with the decisions by the Obama Administration on the NSA and drone as promoted by the Drone Caucus in Congress?

    All 3 issues are focused around the 4th Amendment and its application in the modern landscape. Each takes a different view of the 4th Amendment, and in doing so, affects the lives of all Americans differently.

    Starting with the Supreme Court, Riley v California is the case where the question of what is private in the modern cell phone/internet age is asked. The Supreme Court decided that

    “Our holding, of course, is not that the information on a cell phone is immune from search; it is instead that a warrant is generally required before such a search, even when a cell phone is seized incident to arrest.” – Chief Justice Roberts

    In this decision, the Supreme Court found that the Government has no right, without warrant, to search a cell phone and effectively data mine the contents. The implications are vast, but as the Court concluded, privacy (and thus the 4th Amendment) comes at a cost.

    So the 4th Amendment protects Americans even in the event of an arrest, as has always been the case, even in the technological age of the internet and smart phones. Given that protection, we must ask how this applies to the NSA and Drones?

    The NSA has been, and continues, to troll the internet. It has been proven that the NSA has used it’s perceived power to copy the internet keystrokes and path of virtually every American, in addition to phone records and potentially credit card transactions. The justification has been that the Government needs this data to be able to protect citizens, and that the data – stored for an unknown time period – is only accessible under specific conditions.

    While there is proof that the NSA has abused its power over these records, the greater question is the impact to the 4th Amendment. If the Supreme Court has found that even at the time of arrest the 4th Amendment protects data of an individual, then we must ask why that very same data is accessible to the Government via the shadowy guidelines of the NSA? If data mining is not permissible without warrant, even at the time of arrest, how is such data mining permissible in the homes and on the mobile devices of citizens?

    Then there is the question of drones. Unmanned aerial systems whose use is not covered by current law, that is intended for use by corporations, Government at all levels, and even public citizens.
    While the stated use for drones are the public benefits they can provide, such as finding people in a fire or allowing police to track criminals without need of potentially dangerous car chases or delivering goods to consumers; there is a reality that drones are not limited to this use.

    Commercial drones have a capability to record citizens as they fly past homes, as well as when they deliver a good. It is an unintentional, yet pervasive intrusion of privacy.

    As for Governmental use, drones can be an alternate means of wiretapping that would otherwise require a warrant or might be disallowed. Drones can be used to track citizens, recording their activities, and those of other citizens that may well be beyond the scope of any charge or investigation.

    If the Government cannot access a cell phone due to 4th Amendment privacy concerns, how then is it permissible to allow that same Government the ability to record the private lives of citizens in their daily lives, and homes? How is it permissible for a corporation to do the same?

    This of course says nothing for the ability of private citizens to spy on neighbors, stalking and peeping toms.

    The 4th Amendment is a powerful Right, and the Supreme Court wisely ruled that digital data on cell phones and other devices remain protected by the 4th, even when a person is under arrest. Warrants are a needed protection of the people from a Government that can misuse such personal data it has no right to.

    But given the decision of the Supreme Court, we must point to the other likely and highly probable violations of the 4th Amendment that are actively taking place and soon to be implemented. There is a serious gap that is being created, to the detriment of the American populace. The ramifications are widespread.

    We strongly suggest that all reading this send letter and make phone call to their elected officials to request action to protect our 4th Amendment rights. Inaction will inevitably lead abuse, but there is time to prevent that. If citizens stand up now.

    Rating 3.00 out of 5

    6.1% Unemployment Rate: celebrate the headline, fear the facts

    By Michael Vass | July 3, 2014

    Once again the American economy is in the headlines, but this time there are cheers to go with the headline. Sadly, for those that actually read the content, all the implied positives of the news that the unemployment rate decreased is eliminated by the reality of America’s economic landscape.

    On June 26th, we wrote about the news that the revised 1st Quarter growth of the nation was -2.9% (The economy didn’t just shrink, it’s falling off a cliff long-term). A devastating reality that we attributed to 2 factors:

  • 1) During the 1st Quarter there was a steep decline in health care spending.

  • 2) The participation rate and the number of self-employed (small business owners who are de facto job creators) have continued a multi-year decline.
  • Today the Bureau of Labor Statistics added some salt to the wound. The data for June 2014 reveals that the Participation rate currently sits at 62.8%. The over 4 year decline continues unabated. That is a massive long-term problem, which the headline of 6.1% unemployment will never reveal.

    Add to this the fact that the engine of job growth, self-employed small business owners, has continued its steep 5 year decline, reaching a seasonally adjusted low of 8.37 million. Again, a long-term complication that hinders the economy and hobbles prospects of improvement. If there are fewer self-employed, there are fewer jobs – its just that simple.

    Then there are those who are employed part-time. While they number of part-time employed is down year over year, quite unshockingly given the 1st Quarter negative growth, there has been a massive increase versus just the month of May. An increase of roughly 900,000 unadjusted or 300,000 seasonally adjusted. This is where the decrease of unemployment was created. It is a negative trend that strips any joy that could be had from the headline of an decrease in the unemployment rate.

    In fact, the number of people that normally work more than 34 hours a week decreased year over year, to a high of 19.5 million (seasonally adjusted – an increase of 800,000 people). These are people who no longer are able to qualify for employer paid health insurance, likely will seek government aide to feed their families or maintain their homes, and are now otherwise financially restricted. Which means that discretionary spending is out the window, further dragging on the economy short- and long-term.

    Suffice to say, there is no joy in the news the unemployment rate has trended down on this news. Considering all factors, and the downward revisions to the economy, the spectre of Pres. Carter’s stagflation looms large on the horizon. By any accurate measure – outside of a headline – the economy in spiraling down the drain with neither the Congress nor the Obama Administration having provided any concrete means to reverse the trend.

    We believe that ultimately a continuation of this trend will lead to significantly higher inflation, accelerating the growth of the national debt beyond current predictions, further fueled by the fact fewer Americans are actively able to pay into the system to offset Government spending.

    Our conclusion is that amid the public high 5′s for the headline of lower unemployment, there is a growing understanding that history will show the Obama Administration’s economic abilities are on par with it’s ability to govern the IRS, VA, and other leadership disasters.

    Rating 3.00 out of 5