Jim Geraghty of National Review and Greg Corombos of Radio America discuss former Democratic governor of Montana Brian Schweitzer’s decision not to run for 2014 Senate seat and how this presents an opportunity for republicans. They are astonished at Harry Reid who said the Zimmerman trial still isn’t over. And they laugh at Glenn Greenwald for claiming Snowden has enough secret information to harm the US more than any other person.
Archives for July 2013
Pressure is mounting on the House of Representatives to pass the Senate immigration bill, but Texas Rep. Steve Stockman says the Senate plan is unconstitutional and is not nearly focused enough on border security.
House Republicans met on Wednesday to get a sense of where the members stand on immigration and what the GOP strategy should be?
Rep. Stockman says Republicans don’t feel much pressure to pass the Senate bill . He says Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has not submitted the bill to the House because he knows the GOP believes it’s unconstitutional.
“The bill is unconstitutional because Article 1, Section 7 says quite clearly that all taxes are to be started in the House, not in the Senate. The thing is loaded with taxes, loaded with pork, so Harry Reid to my knowledge has never sent it over to the House,” said Stockman.
The congressman says if Reid does submit it, the House GOP will request a point of order on the alleged constitutional violation. He believes that would be followed by the House “blue-slipping” the bill.
“When the Senate creates a tax and it doesn’t come from the House, we have a right to send the entire package back to the Senate and tell them to rework it and remove all the income tax and all other taxation related to the bill. They have to remove it, and if that happens usually the bill dies,” said Stockman.
In the meantime, Stockman is confident that House Speaker John Boehner will keep his word and not allow a bill opposed by a majority of Republicans to reach the House floor.
“We were promised by the Speaker that this scenario would not happen. We asked privately if it would happen. Publicly, we asked him. So, if the Speaker goes back on his word…I think he’ll have major problems in maintaining his leadership position and I think it would backfire. Ultimately, I don’t think that’s going to happen,” said Stockman.
Several conservative lawmakers fear a solid House bill would get weakened in a House-Senate conference and a bad bill could end up passing both chambers. As a result, they don’t want to see the House pass anything on the immigration front. Stockman shares their concerns but not their strategy.
“Being from Texas in a border state, we have to control our borders. This bill that my colleague, (House Homeland Security Committee Chairman) Mike McCaul has introduced is comprehensive border security. We need to do border security first before addressing any other immigration issue,” said Stockman.
Stockman says the McCaul bill would create an independent commission to certify whether the border is secure rather than leave that determination to the discretion of the Department of Homeland Security.
The recent decision of the Obama administration to delay implementation of the employer mandate in the health care law is another concern to border security advocates, who fear the president would simply refuse to enforce tough border security provisions in the law. Stockman worries about that as well.
“I absolutely agree with that. In fact, I would like to see it taken to court and someone sue the administration. You can’t just pick what bills you want to enforce,” said Stockman, who cited Obama’s refusal to defend the Defense of Marriage Act in addition to selectively implementing the health care law.
“This administration continues to act more like a monarchy than someone that’s in a democracy or a republic,” he said.
As for the fate of Obamacare, Stockman says he would like to see the individual mandate permanently shelved.
“It should be delayed forever. It’s a wreck on our economy. It’s now two trillion. Of course it’s supposed to be under a trillion and I think they should permanently delay the whole implementation. It’s a train wreck. Fixes will be made constantly in order to fix this huge, huge bill,” he said.
Stockman also cheered the impending passage of the new abortion laws in Texas that would ban most abortions after 20 weeks, require abortion providers to have hospital admitting privileges and force greater health standards at abortion facilities.
“I think Texas took a logical step in protecting women and protecting life and unfortunately there are those they had to bring to Texas. A lot of them weren’t even from Texas to be disruptive while we tried to pass our law. So I’m glad it passed. I praise our governor for taking a bold step,” said Stockman.
Greg Corombos of Radio America and Jim Geraghty of National Review are pleased to see Homeland Security Sec. Janet Napolitano stepping down. They also groan as Senate Democrats whine about Republican overuse of the filibuster. And they react to San Diego Mayor Bob Filner admission of sexually harassing his employees and his plea for residents to let him prove he can change.
The Justice Department spent thousands of dollars and dedicated manpower towards efforts to convince Florida authorities to press charges against George Zimmerman, a revelation a former Obama Justice Department attorney says is taking a racial agenda to a new level.
According to documents obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request by the watchdog group Judicial Watch, the Justice Department spent more than $5,300 after being “deployed” to Florida to “work marches, demonstrations and rallies related to the shooting death of an Africa-American teen by a neighborhood watch captain.” It was all related to the public pressure for prosecutors to charge Zimmerman with murder in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin.
The effort was conducted by the Community Relations Service within the Justice Department. Its job is traditionally to maintain calm in the midst of a volatile atmosphere, influenced by race or any other factor.
“They go down wherever there’s a hot spot and they’re supposed to act as a buffer between the two sides. They’re supposed to explain to people how to behave, explain to the opposing sides what to do and what not to do, essentially just to calm things down. They’ve been doing this since the 1960s,” said J. Christian Adams, who served in the civil rights division of the Justice Department under President Obama.
Adams says it’s clear the Justice Department had no intention of being a buffer in this case.
“What’s troubling about it is that Justice only showed up after jokers like New Black Panther Malik Zulu Shabazz were holding press conferences demanding bounties be put on George Zimmerman’s head. Did Community Relations Service come down and lecture Malik Zulu Shabazz about such incendiary language? I very much doubt it. This is the same Malik Zulu Shabazz whom I sued in federal court and (Attorney General) Eric Holder cut loose in the voter intimidation case out of Philadelphia. Like so many other things with this Justice Department, the Community Relations Service seems to be on one side, stoking racial resentment,” said Adams.
Adams says the bias on the Zimmerman case within the Justice Department came early and often, including public comments from Holder and even President Obama stating that if he had a son, he would look like Martin.
“This is a Justice Department that should have kept its hands off things in Florida but instead seemed to pour gasoline on the fire,” said Adams.
The actions of the Justice Department have frequently troubled Adams over the past few years, particularly within the civil rights division, but he says this type of involvement takes the activity to a much more troubling level.
“In all the other scandals involving the civil rights division, usually what happens is a state like South Carolina gets blocked from their voter ID or a business gets sued. In this particular case, however, an innocent man might go to prison. That raises the level of the Justice Department taking sides to a whole new mode of misbehavior that Eric Holder, in the past, has not even done,” said Adams.
Jim Geraghty of National Review and Greg Corombos of Radio America sympathize with Chuck Todd’s annoyance at the excessive coverage of the Zimmerman Trial. They discuss Bob McDonnell’s unreported gifts scandal. And they joke about Death Valley National Park which asked visitors not to fry eggs on the pavement.
Greg Corombos of Radio America and Jim Geraghty of National Review are intrigued by a possible Sarah Palin Senate run. They also cringe as a down economy forces the U.S. birthrate down. And they have fun with the push by two House Democrats to build a national park on the moon.
The Obama administration has botched its Egypt policy for years and its handling of the recent coup is more of the same, according to former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton.
The administration made very few public statements up to and during the coup. In his main remarks following the ouster of former President Mohammed Morsi, President Obama chided Morsi for not responding to the demands of the people but also scolded the military for removing a duly elected leader. He also told Americans and the world that the United States cannot dictate the course of events in Egypt.
Bolton says the president was unimpressive in response to the crisis but he claims that’s nothing new.
“I think he’s handled it badly in the last few days but I think he’s handled it badly for the last two and a half years. It’s been one mistake after another,” said Bolton. “By the time you get to evaluating how we have done in the past week, you’d have to view it against a long, long period of mishandling before that.”
Bolton says there is some truth in Obama’s comments about the extent of U.S. influence, but the ambassador says the president is underestimating what clout we do have.
“It is true. We do not have unlimited influence in Egypt. We can’t snap our fingers and have it turn out the way we want. But saying we don’t have unlimited influence is not saying the same thing as saying we have no influence. There, I think, the absence of clear American leadership has cost us a great deal,” said Bolton. “Not only have we not had public statements by the president or the secretary of state, we haven’t had much behind the scenes activity either. That leaves people very uncertain about what is to come next and it gives some support to the Muslim Brotherhood and the idea that if they just tough it out long enough, they might yet end up back in power.”
White House Press Secretary Jay Carney told reporters on Tuesday that the Obama administration will take plenty of time before determining whether the Egyptian military’s removal of Morsi constitutes a coup. The review is due largely to U.S. law forbidding additional foreign aid to any nation where a democratically elected leader is forced from power. Bolton says the administration’s semantics exercise is ridiculous.
“Of course it was a coup. I don’t think any of us gain anything by trying to obscure what actually happened,” said Bolton. “I think the way you deal with the prohibition on foreign assistance in the statute is to go to Congress directly and say we need to fix this. We need to make it absolutely clear that it’s in America’s national interest that we find a way to support the interim government and the military.
“Yet, the Obama administration takes what appears to be its preferred route of twisting the meaning of a statute all out of proportion to what the words of the statute actually say. That doesn’t benefit the United States government and it doesn’t benefit, frankly, trust and credibility of the president,” he said.
But for all his criticism of the Obama policy on Egypt, Bolton sees the developments in Egypt as positive and a potential catalyst for change in the region.
“I think it will have a ripple effect. I think the struggle between the radical Islamists, who are often allied with terrorists, and other forces that want a secular democratic government in many Middle Eastern countries. They’re going to watch what happens in Egypt very carefully,” said Bolton. “This is much more important than Syria. Egypt has a population of 70-80 million people, far and away the largest Arab country. So what happens there makes a huge difference and so too does the role of the United States have a ripple effect around the region as well.
“So it’s troubling the United States is absent, not just because of it’s impact in Egypt, but because of it’s impact across the region,” he said.
The ambassador says America has several major national security interests in Egypt, so getting this policy right is important.
“We do have an interest in a stable Egyptian government that can uphold the Camp David Peace Accords with Israel, keep the Suez Canal open and ensure some measure of order in Egypt so that religious minorities like the Coptic Christians are not trampled and to get the Egyptian economy back on its feet obviously requires order as well,” said Bolton.
Bolton isn’t sure whether the clashes between the military and the Muslim Brotherhood will escalate into something more more serious since he believes Morsi supporters are deeply divided on whether to force a confrontation with the military. He is confident that the Muslim Brotherhood instigated violence with the military in recent days in order to claim martyrs for their cause.
He also favors a lengthy stretch before new elections in Egypt. Bolton says a short schedule is how the Muslim Brotherhood successfully gained power in the wake of Hosni Mubarak’s fall from the presidency in 2011.
In the final analysis, Bolton says the Egyptian military did the right thing and really had limited choices.
“The military did not have much of an option. We saw in the days before it issued the ultimatum, millions of Egyptians demonstrating in the streets demonstrating against the Muslim Brotherhood, with every prospect that the pro-Muslim Brotherhood supporters and the anti-Muslim Brotherhood advocates would end up fighting in the streets. I think the military, which prizes order and stability, didn’t want to let that happen,” said Bolton.
Jim Geraghty of National Review and Greg Corombos of Radio America explain why Republicans are unlikely to support immigration reform because they don’t trust Obama will enforce border security provisions. They lament over the recent report that 101 million Americans receive federal food aid. And they shake their heads at Wall Street titan Jon Corzine who will not be charged for misusing MF Global funds.
On the heels of the Obama administration clamping down on oil and gas exploration and President Obama declaring what many consider to be a war on coal, environmental groups are now urging the government to deny exploration of the world’s largest known copper reserve before the permitting process even begins.
The Pebble Mine in Alaska could produce more than 80 billion pounds of copper, an amount that could wipe out America’s need to import the element. Currently, some 35 percent of the copper used in the U.S. is brought in from foreign sources.
Dan McGroarty is president of the American Resources Policy Network. He says it’s no surprise that environmental groups are opposed to a Pebble Mine, but he says activists don’t even want the idea to be considered.
“It’s entirely legitimate to examine whether any mine project that’s actually put into the permitting process for it’s impacts and for ways to mitigate them and weigh out the competing public goods that one has. What’s dramatically different in this instance is that many environmental groups are urging the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to exert a unlilateral power to stop the mine project from even going into the permitting process. In other words, there will be no permitting process. They would simply say the mine can’t go forward. End of story,” said McGroarty, who explained that the permitting process is a very long and detailed experience that goes over every detail of a proposal.
“When a mining project goes into the permitting process, there are local avenues for some of the permits, there are state avenues for some of the permits and federal as well,” said McGroarty. “So it’s multi-layered and it takes an average of seven to ten years for a mine to get through that process once begun. I have looked at Pebble and my understanding is that they would require upwards of 60 different types of permits from the state, local and federal levels. So there would be an enormous amount of scrutiny put on the mine plan.
“What some of the environmental groups are saying is they don’t want that process to even begin. Pebble has no mine plan right now. They have not submitted anything for review, so this is about stopping for the first time a mine from even entering the permitting process,” he said.
So does the EPA have the power to unilaterally veto a mining plan before the permit process begins? McGroarty says that’s actually up to the EPA itself.
“It is a matter of the EPA being urged to interpret the powers it already has to allow this sort of veto activity. They’re using a section of the Clean Water Act, which dates back 40-plus years, and interpreting it in a way that would allow them to stop this project from going into the permitting process to stop it before it begins,” said McGroarty. “If EPA does this, they will be granting themselves the authority to do this. I must say, Pebble might be the first mine and copper the first metal but it will by no means stop with one mine and it will effect many different metals if the EPA takes that power.”
McGroarty says if the EPA starts down this road, the economic impact on this nation could be immense.
“There’s an independent study that indicates that over $200 billion of planned economic activity in the United States actually runs through Section 404 of the Clean Water Act. That would put the EPA in a position of thumbs up, thumbs down on an enormous amount of economic activity. That is something no agency should be allowed to do without other parts of the government being able to look at that and see whether that’s what they intended,” said McGroarty.
Beyond the alleged push for a major government power grab, McGroarty says the environmental lobby’s arguments on Pebble aren’t even logically consistent. In an opinion piece for the Wall Street Journal, he quotes Joel Reynolds of the Natural Resources Defense Council as saying, “We view (Pebble) as one of the worst projects anywhere in the world today.”
McGroarty says by removing our need for imported copper, the U.S. would stop doing business with mines in the Congo, where eight-year-old slave labor is brutally forced to extract the resources, or in Zambia, where Chinese-owned mines don’t even provide their workers safe breathing equipment or leak-proof boots. He contends those conditions are far worse than anything that would make it through the government permit approval process.
Furthermore, he contends that opposing copper mining projects like Pebble undermine the green agenda. He explains that copper is vital for transitioning to renewable energies and the environmental groups are blocking their own goals with these tactics.
“Some of the environmental groups who are opposing this copper mine outright are otherwise touting on their websites and in their talking points a transition to green energy. That is they want to get their power from the sun, from the wind, geothermal for instance. Every one of those utilities actually uses copper in order to make that power effective,” said McGroarty.
“A single industrial wind turbine uses upwards of three tons of copper for just one wind turbine. Solar panels use a composite called CIGS. “C” for copper. “S” on the other end for selenium, a metal that is also derived from copper. And then geothermal, which basically delivers power through copper coils. Of course, all those means are delivering power to the national grid through copper cables,” he said.
Jim Geraghty of National Review and Greg Corombos of Radio America discuss Chuck Todd saying that the White House is pessimistic about the immigration bill passing the House, the latest jobs report showing employment still low, and Eliot Spitzer’s decision to run for New York City comptroller.