Weekly Musing 3-15-15
The President Must Respect the Rule of Law American immigration law is composed of thousands of pages, written by dozens of Congresses and federal agencies over a span of decades, and signed into law by numerous U.S. presidents.
But President Barack Obama has decided that all that doesn’t matter, and that he can now rule by decree. Regardless of whether you support or oppose the president’s amnesty plan, the simple fact remains that, in the United States, no individual may or should have that much unchecked power. It flies in the face of the rule of law, which in any government is all that stands between freedom and tyranny.
The rule of law is at the very heart of the case that Texas filed against President Obama in December, an action that has been joined by 25 other states, forming a bipartisan coalition. These plaintiffs are concerned about the president’s unilateral use of executive power to accomplish through edict what he could not achieve legislatively. And that’s why the full injunction that we won from U.S. district judge Andrew Hanen is so important: It has stopped the president from single-handedly enacting what is effectively a whole new system of laws, in the process granting amnesty to millions of people who came to this country illegally.
Run Ted Run…here’s why
We need the right candidate, with the right message to win. And Ted Cruz is the right candidate – in significant part because of his ability to build and attract a coalition that will be vibrant beyond just expanding our grassroots conservative turnout.
Cruz is a leader who is not afraid to stand on principle, speak out for what he believes and ruffle more than a few feathers when it comes time to standing up and fighting for the future of our Republic and everything that has made America the greatest country in the history of mankind.
He’s the candidate many in the mainstream media and Washington chattering class love to hate. He is demonized by many while revered by so many more throughout the heartland of America. He speaks his mind, stands his ground and is willing to fight the fight.
Cruz is grounded by a loving family, his Christian faith, his conservative principles and a moral compass that is all too often lacking in political life.
Cruz is a movement conservative.
…As the campaign unfolds, I believe we need a bold leader, a man of character, passion and principle that is willing to fight the fight. Like Reagan, he has a clarity of vision, a unique ability to communicate and connect with the average American voter and the focus and drive to get it done. In an endeavor like this, never underestimate a candidate’s character, will and drive. Ted Cruz has the “fire in the belly” to go the distance.
A Contrived Controversy
Finally, a debate about Iran. Last week, 47 Republican senators released a public letter addressed to the leaders of the Iranian regime. The letter made what might have seemed a self-evident point: If the Obama administration reaches a deal with Iran, Congress will not be bound by parts of the deal to which it has not assented.
“The letter to Iranian leaders from 47 Republican senators could well destroy critical bipartisanship in U.S. foreign policy for years to come and treacherously undermine the bargaining power of the person constitutionally authorized to conduct American affairs abroad—the President of the United States,” wrote Les Gelb, president emeritus and senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. “On top of what House speaker John Boehner did by unilaterally inviting Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu to address Congress, this letter seriously points to one terrible conclusion: a formidable number of congressional Republicans hate President Obama more than they love America.”
The New York Daily News labeled “traitors” the letter’s signatories and its author, Senator Tom Cotton (combat tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, Bronze Star). Max Fisher at Vox.com called the letter “unprecedented” and claimed Republicans were bringing their legislative obstructionism to “the previously sacrosanct realm of foreign policy.” John Kerry bellowed that the “letter ignores more than two centuries of precedent in the conduct of American foreign policy.” Hillary Clinton claimed that if the senators’ objective wasn’t to undermine the president, it was to help the mullahs in Iran. President Obama accused senators of forming a “coalition” with Iran’s hardliners. NBC News called the letter “stunning” and declared that it signaled an end to the days when politics stopped at the water’s edge.
to attach labels to those making these claims or offer judgments on their love of country. Instead, some perspective:
A war of Obama’s making
The White House and some Democrats are livid over congressional Republican attempts to circumvent President Obama’s authority to make a nuclear arms deal with Iran. They have a right to be angry — but not to be surprised.
There’s a war going on between the executive and legislative branches in which Obama has shown contempt for Congress’ constitutional powers, and now, in response, Congress is showing contempt for the president’s constitutional powers. It’s an unfortunate situation, but it’s what Obama has wrought.
The latest development is an open letter to Iranian leaders written by GOP Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., and signed by 46 other Senate Republicans. Released Monday morning, the letter reminds Iran that Obama is negotiating with them on his own, without the formal approval or support of Congress. Obama is not pursuing a treaty, which would have to be agreed to by the Senate, or a joint executive-congressional agreement, which would also require Congress’ approval.
“We will consider any agreement regarding your nuclear-weapons program that is not approved by the Congress as nothing more than an executive agreement between President Obama and Ayatollah Khamenei,” the Republican senators write. “The next president could revoke such an executive agreement with the stroke of a pen and future Congresses could modify the terms of the agreement at any time.”
Just in case there’s any confusion, the Republicans remind Iran that the next U.S. president will be inaugurated in January 2017, about 22 months from now, while at least some of the GOP senators who signed the letter will remain in office for many years to come.
The Cotton letter comes on the heels of House Speaker John Boehner’s decision to invite Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to address Congress in what amounted to an extended attack on Obama’s Iran negotiations.
It should go without saying that the reason Republicans are doing these things is because they are deeply concerned about a possible Iran deal. But another reason they’re acting is because they can. On Iran and before that on immigration, healthcare, and other matters, Obama has pushed his executive authority beyond its proper limits, on the flimsy pretense that he is entitled to act unilaterally if Congress does not pass bills he wants. Could anyone fail to anticipate that in response Congress would stretch its own authority, too?
Visualizing the GOP’s 2016 Bracket
The Republicans running for president in 2016 will all compete in the same primary, but they won’t all be chasing the same voters, especially at the start. Instead, the candidates start out fighting to emerge as the front-runner among a smaller subgroup—in some ways like college basketball teams fighting their way through one side of a tournament bracket before the finals.
There are tons of constituencies within the Republican Party, but most broadly, the GOP breaks into two sides: A more “establishment”-oriented one and a more “grassroots”-oriented side. Now, new polling data from Iowa reveal just how much certain candidates find themselves going head-to-head for the same groups of voters.
On one side, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker—currently Iowa Republicans’ top choice for the 2016 caucuses—is trying to wrest away voters who also take a liking to candidates such as Sens. Rand Paul and Marco Rubio, former Gov. Rick Perry, and retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson. On the other side, a largely different group of voters has gravitated toward Jeb Bush and Chris Christie.
Below, the data shows just how much some candidates’ support overlaps—and why Walker’s early lead is so tenuous. The governor currently holds a broad piece of turf in the all-important opening caucus state, but he’s going to have to defend it from a horde of hungry competitors.
Behind the GOP’s Backbench Revolt
‘Our goal is to get to a ‘yes’ vote, not to divide the party. It’s to fight for all those voters who are getting left out of Washington. And to do it in as smart and as aggressive a way as we can that brings our team together.”
That’s Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan talking, though Speaker John Boehner might wonder. Ten weeks into their huge new majority, Republicans are struggling to cobble together 218 votes for anything that matters. The Boehner leadership team puts the blame squarely on some 30 to 50 conservative members, who are variously described as crazy, or divorced from political reality, or unwilling to compromise. Or all of the above.
In the wake of last week’s immigration spectacle—in which Mr. Boehner was forced to fund Homeland Security with largely Democratic votes—I thought I’d ask Mr. Jordan to explain the thinking from the backbench. A favorite of conservative groups for his limited-government stands, he also has some credibility among the wider conference for his willingness at key times to be a team player. His position as chairman of the newly founded Freedom Caucus—what he calls an “agile, active group” of about 40 members devoted to conservative principles—has made him the de facto leader of the dissenters.
Mr. Jordan does seem to want to get to yes, though the defining feature of his group is frustration with a lack of Republican strategy and message. That comes out in Mr. Jordan’s view of the recent immigration debacle, a mess he traces to December. That was when Republicans chose to fund all of government except Homeland Security—in protest of President Obama’s lawless immigration order. “We told the voters this was going to be the defining moment, we said we were going to stop money for the president’s action,” says Mr. Jordan. “And you just can’t build up that moment, and then on February 27 say we aren’t going to do it.”
Having set the strategy, Republicans owed it “to run a two, two-and-half-month campaign to make the case.” That didn’t happen, I note, so why fight on? Mr. Jordan believes the party had a “chance,” even at the end, to get to House-Senate conference, fall back to a more narrow funding restriction, and earn Democratic votes.
Why Republicans Hold an Early Edge for 2016
With all the attention focused on the details of Hillary Clinton’s personal email over the past week, it’s easy to overlook the political big picture for the 2016 presidential campaign. If anything, Team Clinton’s cautious, tone-deaf response to the potential scandal is a reminder of all the challenges that her candidacy will entail. Far from being the juggernaut that her campaign has been portrayed as, it’s becoming clear that she will be facing strong headwinds in vying to succeed a divisive president, overcoming her past personal baggage, and convincing voters desperate for change that she’s the candidate of the future.
The whole episode has raised glaring red flags about the emerging Clinton operation. It’s only March, and the nascent campaign is still grasping for a message while being surprisingly unprepared to respond to criticisms about her email practices, which were known to her inner circle. A week that was designed to underscore her work for women across the globe descended into damage control over why she concealed emails as secretary of State on a private server. Her campaign operation resembles a clunky bureaucracy, filled with both allies from the last Clinton administration (Lanny Davis, David Brock) and younger strategists from President Obama’s campaigns tasked to shake things up. She’s got a well-defined brand, but one that’s losing its luster amid controversy and organizational dysfunction. Sound familiar?
Ambitious younger Democrats may be kicking themselves for passing up a primary opportunity against Clinton, but Republicans have shown no such hesitation in challenging her. And there are early signs that the political environment, which has been difficult for them over the last two presidential elections, is looking more favorable at this early stage. Here’s why:
ROVE: Democrats Are Bullish On Retaking The Senate
The theory is that states Obama won in 2012 are ripe for the plucking.
The GOP took the Senate in 2014 by winning seven seats held by Democrats in states Mitt Romneycarried in 2012—Alaska, Arkansas, Louisiana, Montana, North Carolina, South Dakota and West Virginia—along with seats in two states Mr. Obama carried, Colorado and Iowa. So Democrats argue that if GOP Senate candidates can carry states that go Republican for the White House, then Democratic Senate candidates are likely to carry states Democrats have won in presidential elections. Although it is true that the Senate landscape in 2016 will be better for Democrats than last year, there are flaws in their narrative. First, the states Republicans won in 2014 tilted far more Republican than the states with GOP incumbents up next year tilt Democrat. For example, Republicans defeated incumbent Democrats in states Mitt Romney carried by 23.7% (Arkansas), 17.2% (Louisiana), 14% (Alaska), 5.4% (Colorado) and 2% (North Carolina). By comparison, Republican incumbents are up next year in states Mr. Obama generally carried by smaller margins, namely 0.9% (Florida), 3% (Ohio), 5.4% (Pennsylvania), 5.6% (New Hampshire), 5.8% (Iowa) and 6.9% (Wisconsin). Only one GOP incumbent senator is in a state Mr. Obama carried by double digits: Illinois, which he carried by 16.9%. Second, it is hard to beat an incumbent. In the last eight presidential elections, Democrats have defeated four or more Republican incumbent senators twice, picking off five in 2000 and in 2008. It took extraordinary circumstances to pull this off. In 2000 President Clinton was unusually popular for a two-term incumbent—and 2008 was a flat-out bad year for Republicans. No one believes Mr. Obama’s Gallup job-approval ratings will be close to the 57% Mr. Clinton enjoyed on Oct. 28, 2000, right before that year’s presidential election. Mr. Obama last reached that level in December 2012, right after his re-election. Given the world’s trajectory, his approval ratings next year are more likely to be lower than the 45% he received in this week’s Gallup poll. Moreover, seven of eight Republican senators in states Mr. Obama carried at least once are running for re-election. If the eighth—Florida’s Marco Rubio—is in the hunt for the presidential nomination at the May 2016 filing deadline, the GOP has two statewide elected officials, Attorney General Pam Bondi and Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater, in the wings. Third, Democrats are struggling to recruit Senate candidates. The only declared Democrat in Pennsylvania, former congressman Joe Sestak, announced without notifying national Democrats and is viewed skeptically by party leaders. Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid tried to clear the field in Ohio by endorsing defeated former Gov. Ted Strickland, age 73, but failed. The favored prospects in North Carolina and Wisconsin, former Sens. Kay Hagan and Russ Feingold, are spending this year teaching in Massachusetts and California, respectively. New Hampshire Democratic Gov. Maggie Hassan is mum about running for the Senate, but the legislature is shredding her budget and her idea to hire a chief operating officer for the state is being widely ridiculed. Several Democratic congressmen are considering running in Florida and Illinois, raising the likelihood of expensive, debilitating primaries. Conversely, not a single Republican seat in a red state looks at risk today. The only chance Democrats have to win these is if Republican incumbents draw serious primary challengers that divide the GOP. The fourth problem for Democrats is they will be playing defense in at least two purple states: Nevada, where Sen. Harry Reid had a 41% unfavorability rating in a Pew Research Center/USA Today poll late last year; and Colorado, where a recent Quinnipiac poll found only 32% say Sen. Michael Bennet should be re-elected. Finally, each incumbent Republican senator is busy raising money, building serious organizations and compiling a governing record that appeals to independents and Democrats so they run ahead of the GOP presidential candidate in their states.
Surprise!?! The New York Times CROPS OUT George W. Bush from their SELMA front page picture The totally objective and completely unbiased New York Times made sure that their readers didn’t see George W. Bush and Laura attend the Selma 50th Anniversary by awkwardly cutting them out of their front page picture.
Obamanomics – The Solution to Inequality: Exile the Rich
Potential presidential candidates looking to make a splash should consider the following bold proposal to solve our inequality problem once and for all: exile the top 0.1% of income earners. Round up all 136,080 taxpayers who make more than $2.16 million a year and ship ’em off to whatever country will accept them. Presto. Problem solved.
We’d still, of course, have inequality in America. But we’d at least have brought it back to the healthy 1960s’ levels that Paul Krugman and Elizabeth Warren nostalgically pine for. The 0.1 percenters, whose growing incomes have been fueling the rise in inequality over the past several decades, will have vanished overnight.
This proposal will surely strike many as extreme. But drastic times call for drastic measures. President Obama, after all, has called growing inequality “the defining challenge of our time.” Krugman agrees and notes that “the increase in U.S. inequality has no counterpart anywhere else in the advanced world.”
Never mind that, according to surveys, most Americans couldn’t care less about an abstract statistical trend stretching over decades. In a Politico poll in the lead-up to the last election, only 1 percent of voters thought inequality was the most important issue. But, as Obamacare architect Jonathan Gruber might say, we should not let “the stupidity of the American voter” get in the way of advancing progressive policies.
While exiling the wealthy will do wonders for inequality in America, it will put a serious dent in the government’s finances. Almost one in every five tax dollars that the government collects comes from the 0.1 percent. To make up for the shortfall, we should probably also confiscate all their assets before exiling them.
What about the jobs the 0.1 percenters create and the value they add to the economy? After all, we’d be losing all but twelve of the CEOs from the 300 largest companies in the country. The show business industry would collapse overnight with all the star talent in exile. Gone too would be the best investment bankers, financial consultants, surgeons and lawyers. One third of the NFL’s roster and well over half of the NBA’s roster would also be culled.
Maps: How Ukraine became Ukraine
For the past year, Ukraine has been plunged into chaos. Mass protests against pro-Moscow President Viktor Yanukovych led to his ouster in February 2014. That sparked a spiraling crisis: a fledgling interim government in Kiev looked on as Russia first seized and then annexed the territory of Crimea, a strategic Black Sea peninsula. A pro-Russian separatist insurgency in eastern Ukraine, believed to have direct backing from Moscow, has led to the deaths of thousands since.
To some, Ukraine has become the geopolitical faultline between the liberal democratic West and authoritarian, neo-imperial Russia under President Vladimir Putin. Foreign policy luminaries in Washington openly discuss the current state of affairs as a new Cold War.
Beneath the political divisions of the present lies a country’s deep, complex past. The land that’s now Ukraine has long been dear to Russian nationalists. But it has also been home to a host of other peoples and empires. Its shifting borders and overlapping histories all have echoes in the current heated moment.
What follows is a sketch of how Ukraine became Ukraine over 1,300 years of history, mapped by The Washington Post’s cartographer Gene Thorp. Ukraine’s modern borders are outlined in green throughout.
The Successes and Scars of a 25-Year Journey Out of Soviet Clutches
As communism crumbled a quarter-century ago, the first nation to emerge from the Soviet ruins was a long way off resembling a functioning democracy.
Today, Lithuania is a member of the European Union, the euro currency bloc and NATO. In celebrating independence this week, the nation of 3 million can look back at a rocky road to the greater prosperity it now enjoys. While it overcame hyperinflation to boost living standards and build investor trust, the Baltic country has struggled with emigration, health issues related to the upheaval of the transition and a fear of its former master.
“It’s been a huge economic progress from a very chaotic start,” said Vilija Tauraite, an economist with SEB in Vilnius. “Euro adoption this year placed Lithuania within the very West, which seemed inconceivable 25 years ago. Economically it’s been fast to re-orientate, yet challenges remain with demographics.”
The most eye-catching number in Lithuania’s transformation is income per capita, which outshines all former Soviet republics. The average Lithuanian’s salary jumped 7.2 times between 1994 and 2014. Car ownership surged more than fourfold as Volkswagens, Audis and Fords replaced Soviet-made VAZ vehicles. The advance comes despite a 2009 slump that wiped 14.5 percent off economic output and ushered in one of the EU’s harshest austerity programs.
Awesome!!! Researchers have achieved wireless speeds of 1 Tb per second
Researchers at the University of Surrey in England have achieved 5G speeds of 1 Terabit per second (Tbps) over 100 metres in the lab – by far the fastest wireless connection to date.
The 5G, or fifth generation, mobile network will eventually replace our current 4G technology, with its comparatively poxy speeds of around 15 Mbps, and it’s hoped that it will revolutionise how we use mobile devices.
It’s previously been estimated that speeds of 50 Gbps could be achieved on the 5G network, but now the University of Surrey’s 5G Innovation Centre (5GIC) has gone and smashed those expectations.
“We have developed 10 more breakthrough technologies and one of them means we can exceed 1Tbps wirelessly,” Professor Rahim Tafazolli, the director of 5GIC, cryptically told Dan Worth for UK technology news site V3. “This is the same capacity as fibre optics but we are doing it wirelessly.”
To put that into perspective, a US Internet provider last year rolled out the fastest home Internet ever in the Minnesotan city of Minneapolis, which reaches speeds of 10 Gbps. So this would be 100 times faster – which means you could download around 100 feature films in less than a second and stream multiple TV shows at once – all from your phone.
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