Weekend Download (June 12 – 14)
The Weekend Download is a synopsis of the news you might have missed if you stopped paying attention after Thursday night. Administrations have a way of releasing bad news on Fridays in the hopes you’re not listening. This administration is no different.
Obama Fires Inspector General; Violates Several Laws
On Friday, President Obama illegally fired Gerald Walpin, the inspector general for AmeriCorps. Walpin was investigating Sacramento Mayor (and former NBA player) and Obama campaign donor and friend, Kevin Johnson for misuse of federal education grants. The project Walpin was investigating was a pet project of the First Lady, and many have speculated that Michelle Obama was involved in the illegal decision to fire Walpin.
Walpin received an email just before 5:00 on Wednesday demanding that he resign within an hour or be fired. The email evoked a harsh rebuke from Senator Chuck Grassley, who felt compelled to remind the alleged professor of Constitutional law, President Obama, of the need for independence of inspectors general, and the laws prohibiting the firing of inspectors general for political reasons. Nonetheless, Walpin was fired by the White House on Friday.
The firing of Walpin is illegal for several reasons. First, a 2008 law, co-sponsored by then Senator Obama, prohibits the President from firing any inspector general without cause, and even then requires 30 days’ notice to Congress. In addition, the firing is in contravention of the Recovery Accountability and Transparency or “RAT” Board, which has exclusive jurisdiction over inspectors general investigating abuse of stimulus and other federal funds abuse. The RAT board was created by the stimulus bill for which Obama pressed so urgently and which he, himself, signed into law.
You may recall that President Bush was lambasted by the media for firing a several US Attorneys. All Presidents, including Clinton and Obama clean house in the same way, as US Attorneys are political appointees and serve at the pleasure of the President. Then candidate Obama claimed (falsely) that President Bush violated the Constitution by dismissing Clinton-appointed prosecutors. Unlike US Attorneys, however, inspectors general have inherently conflicting interests: their primary responsibility is to investigate the government that employs them. Therefore, unlike US Attorneys, inspectors general cannot be removed for political reasons, but only with cause. That is the law that Obama violated, and for which he should be made to answer.
This is the sort of blatant abuse of power that should cause a scandal in Washington. Other than Fox News and the reliably independent Jake Tapper, it remains to be seen whether any mainstream media outlets with be prompted by this story to stop doodling “Mrs. Barack Obama” in their notebooks and actually do some investigating.
North Korea Responds to Hope & Change™ with Whoosh and Boom™
The United Nations Security Council released a weakened response to North Korea’s continued belligerence. U.S. Ambassador to the U.N., Susan Rice proved she was fully on board Obama’s Unicorn Pony Express by praising the statement as “unprecedented” and stating that it had “teeth that would bite.” The only “teeth” contained in the statement is the ability to interdict suspected shipments of weapons materials to North Korea. Far from unprecedented, the United States already has such a right under the Proliferation Security Initiative, which was used to interdict similar shipments to Libya in 2003. Indeed, even these minor concessions have proven useless as China has warned the United States against actually enforcing the provision in any meaningful way.
In a predictable response to the Security Council resolution, North Korea has said it will refine all of its spent nuclear reactor rods in order to make additional nuclear weapons. Pyongyang also threatened nuclear war, and promised to use its arsenal if any of its ships were inspected. The State Department’s response has been to ask North Korea to stop it’s provocative actions. Maybe if we ask really nicely, they won’t hurt us or our allies.
Obama Praises Sham Elections in Iran
Proving that his naivete does not stop at the water’s edge, President Obama praised the Iranian election, saying he was “excited by Iran’s robust election debate.” The announcement was reminiscent of Jimmy Carter’s validation of the rigged Venezuelan recall vote in 2004 that kept Hugo Chavez in power. A subsequent terse White House statement, following reports of protests in Tehran, noted that the administration would “monitor the entire situation closely, including reports of irregularities.” Privately, however, senior U.S. officials acknowledged that the elections were, in fact, rigged.
The obviously rigged elections (Ahmadinejad won his rival’s home town) lead to widespread violence and reports of deaths throughout Iran. The uprising has even forced Ahmadinejad to defend the election as ‘real and free’ and to acknowledge and denounce the protests, something not usually done in totalitarian states with full control over the media. Andrew Sullivan (who has been wrong before–a lot) is reporting that one Iranian Mullah is refusing to recognize the results and is calling for Ahmadinejad to step down. This is the sort of grassroots uprising that an experienced leader would encourage, rather than give legitimacy to a rigged election, as Obama rushed to do.
Detainee Musical Chairs
On Thursday, Obama moved four Guantanamo detainees (Chinese Uighurs) to Bermuda, a British protectorate. On Friday it was learned that, not only did the Obama administration not consult with the British government, it deliberately prevented the British from learning of the transfer until it was too late for Britain to respond. Another daggar in the heart of the special relationship.
Separately, in its continuing effort to destroy whatever credibility the United States has left, the Obama administration on Friday simultaneously signaled that (i) it had “all but given up” on the idea of releasing or even transferring detainees to the United States and (ii) that it had not “ruled it out.” Some have said that the mark of a first rate intelligence is the ability to entertain two conflicting ideas at the same time and still be able to function. The Obama administration’s apparent goal then is to make the world’s sole super power look as “intelligent” (not to mention stable and predictable) as a schizophrenic amphetamine addict with epilepsy. As with any Obama policy, if you don’t like it, wait five minutes.
Obama Reneges on Another Naive Campaign Promise
Jim Geraghty likes to say that every statement Obama makes comes with an expiration date. Environmentalists are finding out that their agenda is no exception. On Friday, the Obama administration approved a plan that would continue the controversial practice of mountaintop mining, a practice Obama had promised to outlaw if he was elected. Rather than banning the practice, the new plan will regulate it.
Transparency is as Transparency Does
Obama’s promise of becoming the most transparent administration ever took several more hits this weekend as Obama moved to keep secret the location of 44 high-risk coal ash sites that some claim pose an environmental risk. The administration also asked the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals to prevent the release of information regarding rendition of detainees as state secrets. The New York Times even warned that the Obama administration’s new cyber terrorism policy will endanger privacy and other civil rights.
Homosexual Rights Advocates See Neither Hope nor Change
Obama came under criticism from gay rights groups as his administration sought to uphold the Defense of Marriage Act. In court papers, the administration even claimed same sex marriages were analogous to incest and pedophilia. The administration received a strong rebuke from six major gay rights advocacy groups. In an unrelated story, the bloated idiocracy that is the New York City bureaucracy accidentally allowed two men to marry, in violation of New York law. Not only did the city issue a valid license, the City Clerk performed the ceremony (one of the grooms was a pre-op transsexual and wore women’s clothing).
Culture of Corruption Continues un-Change™-d
- President Obama selected four more campaign donors for cushy ambassadorships on Friday.
- Dick Durbin, Obama’s former fellow Senator from the ethics paradise Illinois allegedly used insider information to avoid massive losses prior to the financial collapse in September. Durbin transferred over $100,000 from his mutual fund accounts into shares of Berkshire Hathaway after a closed-door meeting (in his official capacity) with then Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson and Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke, the day before the collapse.
- Soon to be former Connecticut Senator and Friend of Angelo Mozilo, Chris Dodd sought an extension under the Senates rules for financial disclosures on Friday. Dodd, who was involved in the same banking crisis/circus as Durbin and is now involved in the health care circus, has financial connections to both industries, which this extension allows him to delay discussing publicly.
Global Warming™ Update
So far, temperature’s in Obama’s adopted hometown of Chicago are a full 12 degrees cooler than last year and far below average. The average June temperature at Chicago’s O’Hare airport through June 12 was only 59.5 degrees, the coldest since records were kept there and nearly 7 degrees below average. Food prices are also expected to rise this year as farmers deal with crop failures and below average harvests, both due to lower than normal temperatures. While it is true that the plural of anecdote is not data, it would be very difficult to explain continued cooling trends in a manner consistent with Al Gore’s theory of Global Warming™. He would say that the Earth is a complicated system (it is.) and we don’t full understand the mechanism (we don’t), etc. But then, isn’t that the same as saying there is no concensus on the Global Warming theory?
- Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu announced Israeli settlements on the West Bank would continue, in spite of Obama’s moral equivalence argument that they cease.
- Contrary to Obama’s promise to guard every penny, an accounting firm warned that the stimulus fund could be defrauded by as much as $50 billion.
- Obama suggested that some US cities may have to be bulldozed in order to survive the recession.
- Congress announced that Obamacare will require $600 billion in new taxes.
- Even the New York Times thinks blaming Bush is getting a little old.