Senator Mitch McConnell Crowns Senator Elizabeth Warren

You guys, I am so far behind in writing about politics. Every day has so much political news that it feels like I’m aging in dog years. And then how will I ever catch up?

Anyway, tonight I bring you tidings of Senator Elizabeth Warren. It’s not unusual for the liberal Massachusetts senator to throw a grenade over the fence at the populist Trump, or for the president to respond with snarky tweets about “Pocahontus”, a jab at Warren’s debunked claim of being Native American. At the same time, Sen. Warren is clearly positioning herself to run in 2020. (Watch for fireworks between Warren and Senator Cory Booker. Or perhaps they’ll be running mates.)

Saint Elizabeth

The Boss of the Democratic Party

It may have been a combination of her distaste for Trump and the desire to be in the limelight that led to this week’s spectacle. Sen. Warren was urging the Senate to vote down Trump’s appointment of Senator Jeff Sessions for Attorney General. Warren produced a copy of a letter by Coretta Scott King, widow of Dr. Martin Luther King. The letter was written in 1986, and the main premise was that Sen. Sessions wasn’t fit for a judgeship for which he had been appointed, because his record demonstrated hostility to civil rights of black Americans. Sen. Sessions didn’t get the job, possibly due in part to this letter. Sen. Warren was clearly hoping Mrs. King’s letter would work a treat to kill the Attorney General nomination for Sessions.

It was a lousy plan, because no matter how furious Elizabeth Warren gets, no matter how her voice trembled with indignation as she read this 31-year-old letter, nothing was going to stop Sessions from becoming Attorney General. Also, if racism did motivate him in the 1960s to prosecute black civil rights leaders for voter fraud, as Mrs. King suspected, he must have used the past three decades to become a little smarter. Several black citizens were called as character witnesses for Sen. Sessions during his recent confirmation hearings and they spoke glowingly of him.

Senator Jeff Sessions

Senator Jeff Sessions

But Sen. Warren was either the recipient of dumb luck, or she accurately predicted that Senator Mitch McConnell would be unable to resist snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. With the lack of excitement that characterizes everything he does, Republican Senate Majority Leader McConnell objected to Sen. Warren’s reading this letter, citing obscure Rule 19 that prohibits trash talking fellow Senators while on the floor of the Senate. If you pay much attention to Congress, you’ll know that Sen. Warren is hardly the first senator to do this. However, she was admonished, and adminished again, and again, but Warren just kept going back to the letter and finally was asked to sit down and was banned from speaking again during the debate over Sessions.

US Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell

US Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell

Elizabeth Warren could not have been more delighted with herself. She knew she had no hope of defeating the Sessions’ nomination, and she knew she was boring everyone to death. Then, like a turtle-faced guardian angel, Sen. McConnell mumbled his way to her rescue.

She revelled in leftist adulation for an entire news cycle, doing numerous interviews from the Senate floor and darkly hinting that McConnell did not really object because of Rule 19. I agree with her. But while I know he was objecting to her personally because she was being shrill and obnoxious, Warren imagines she was ‘silenced’ because McConnell was unable to control his racism and sexism. It was pretty disgusting to hear her compared to the suffragettes and sitting at a lunch counter in Jim Crow South, when all she had done was try to exploit Mrs. King’s letter. (Am I the only person who feels offended by the hyperbolic comparisons in the media? “Trump is Hitler!” “Elizabeth Warren is a Suffragette!” It makes Hitler a synonym for “I disagree”, and cheapens what the suffragettes did.)

Interestingly, Mrs. King’s niece, who had served as her Communications director, spoke out immediately against Sen. Warren, noting that her aunt wanted to bring people together and probably would have supported Sessions for Attorney General, given his current record, but that Elizabeth Warren was playing the race card and using her family’s name to be divisive.

I don’t even want to think about how mad Cory Booker is right now. He also did some grandstanding and Mitch McConnell just sat there and listened. If McConnell was a more enterprising sort of fellow, he could sell his next objection to Booker for a cool $15,000.

you may have defeated me this time, Elizabeth Warren, but I'll be back!

you may have defeated me this time, Elizabeth Warren, but I’ll be back!

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What in the World is the Obama Administration Doing?

Soon-to-be-former President Barack Obama has been busy. He sprints through the final days of his term like a bargain basement, determined to have something significant Trump can’t undo. To that end, the president has devoted last week to bridge-burning with our allies.

It began when a UN resolution was passed that condemned Israeli settlements on the West Bank. The U.S. historically vetoed anti-Israeli bills like these but they didn’t this time. No explanation for the about-face on U.S. policy was given to the public, but Secretary of State John Kerry gave Israel a patronizing lecture that contained a few clues. “You can be Democratic or you can be Jewish, but you cannot be both,” he said. Note: This is the only documented instance of John Kerry saying anything interesting on record. Who cares if it’s nonsense?

Planned talks for a 2-state solution collapsed two years ago, and it didn’t trouble Obama until last week. His refusal to stand by Israel is more likely a byproduct of his icy relationship with Netanyahu.

netanyahu

No bromance here

Trump sent a tweet calling Kerry a traitor and inexplicably referring to him as “the worst import from Vietnam”. He appeared with Don King for a mini-press conference (because why not?), and the boxing promoter waved small U.S. and Israeli flags. Trump said relatively little about Kerry except his speech “spoke for itself.”

The Israeli government responded quickly: “We have ironclad information that the Obama administration really helped push this resolution and helped craft it.” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu accused Secretary Kerry of supporting terrorism, which was unfairly harsh. Kerry doesn’t originate ideas or map out strategies. His only skill is reading in grave, statesman-like tones; he probably thinks the West Bank settlement is a condo community in Georgetown. 

Seriously, I don't know anything. But I look just like Andrew Jackson, right?

Seriously, I don’t know anything, but I look a lot like Andrew Jackson.

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The Origins of Barack Obama’s Madness

In the twilight of President Obama’s term, I’ve been vaguely worried he might have a surprise or two up his sleeve. Not so much flowers and tax relief. More like one last black eye from your soon-to-be-ex. A parting gift, if you will. I’m sorry to be proven right. I’m even sorrier I underestimated the extent of his hijinx.

With the final weeks of this president’s term winding down, each frigid day is punctuated with a string of ill-advised statements and poorly-thought-out actions, courtesy of the Obama administration. I want to share a key point about Barack Obama first, to give you an idea of what is driving him. It doesn’t make his actions any wiser but it’s good to know:

As the US and our allies watch uneasily, the outgoing president has stepped up his already infamous use of executive actions, to take increasingly serious steps, some with global consequences, without the advice or consent of anyone. Who needs other perspectives? The official term for this phenomena is midnight regulations, or laws created unilaterally by an outgoing president. Maybe these regulations are called “midnight” because the concept won’t bear close inspection. Too much examination would be sure to outlaw them.

Nostalgia has set in, and Obama can’t resist returning to his favorite character: the finger-wagging moralist lecturing the masses on ‘the right thing to do’. Midnight regulations are the perfect complement to executive actions, lest any skeptical person think they are at liberty to determine for themselves what the right thing to do is.

Obama

The president is stretching these regulations far beyond their limits. Why? The GOP leadership created a lot of unnecessary hostility between themselves and the president; they treated Obama shabbily, swearing to vote down anything the Democrats advanced, which is just ridiculous.

You can’t blame him for feeling angry at this unfair treatment but when they went low, Obama went even lower. He didn’t make an extra effort to gain allies in Congress as every other president has. Instead, Obama simply cut Congress out of the process, using executive action to pass whatever he wanted and saying bluntly, “I’ve got a pen and I’ve got a phone.”

Because of the friction with Congress, the majority of President Obama’s important actions, including the Affordable Care Act (ACA), i.e., Obamacare, were passed through executive action. Note: a small piece of the ACA did go to Congress, but the majority was passed via executive action, under a very broad umbrella of budgeting legislation. Because stuff costs money, right? Trillions, in this case.

The Heart of the Issue

The founders were very clear about the separation of powers, and passing law through Congress, as prescribed in the Constitution. To safeguard the country against a president ruling like a king through executive orders (much as the president has done), there is a clause: anything passed by executive action can be repealed by executive action.

Everything important Obama did as president was via executive action. President-elect Donald Trump has vowed to repeal all of Obama’s executive orders.

It's me again!

It’s me again!

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