Saturday, February 16, 2019

All in all it's just another brick in Trump's wall...

So the President stood down in Texas celebrating a new six mile stretch of the border which will be guarded by a brand new shiny steel and concrete barrier. This six miles was not part of any recent agreement, nor part of any previous agreement under Obama.

This was part of last year's budget that apparently included a reasonable amount of (very quiet) money to build barriers.

Add to the few miles of  barrier that has been going up over the past couple of years the 1.4 billion that will be used to construct another fifty five miles of steel fencing, along with the other 23 billion provided for other border security measures, and it seems like the President is getting a great deal of things done on the southern border.

Arguably Democrats are being had in many ways.

By drawing such a hard line against the so called "wall" they have been quick to surrender in other areas of border security, providing literally billions and billions of extra money in border security. While the Democrats are split between being "openly" open border and publically pro-border security (but privately open border) the truth is that not many Democrats want to stop the flow of immigrants from the southern border.

But ultimately, the border is becoming more and more secure every day. While there is still a long ways to go, the addition of the new barriers, the additional border security and customs agents, along with all of the new technological security measures has been a giant win for Trump and the GOP even as the media tries to portrait it as a loss on the "wall".

Oh, and the Democrats have still not gotten any concessions at all on DACA. While I tend to believe that DACA is a typical Democratic talking point (which is to say an issue they love to talk about so much that they don't actually want it resolved precisely because they love to talk about it so much) there is a danger of looking like you got nothing in return for giving in on border security (and the wall).

That won't sit well with those who backed Pelosi as speaker because of her promised ability to win battles and get things done for the Democrats.

Friday, February 15, 2019

Trump looks to push the barrier funding to 8 billion

Trump will tap $6.6. billion in Pentagon, Treasury funds for wall, source says
President Donald Trump on Friday will use his executive authorities to access more than $6.6 billion in Pentagon and Treasury Department funds for his border wall after he signs a bill that will bring the total to $8 billion, according to a source with knowledge of his plans.
A declaration of national emergency authorizes the President, “without regard to any other provision of law,” to tap into funds already appropriated for military construction and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ civil works program.

So to be perfectly clear here folks, while the power of the purse resides in the legislative branch, the powers of exactly how to spend those appropriated funds can (and usually does) fall on the shoulders of the various agencies and entities who uses those funds to keep themselves afloat.

While they must to go Congress for a yearly budget, they do not have to go back to Congress if they decide to use some of their funds on replacing broken equipment, or deciding to hire in one department rather than the department that they originally believed might need the help.

The idea that someone can go to court and declare that every decision being made about spending must go through Congressional approval is idiotic. Of course, that won't prevent Pelosi and the rest of the Democrats from making the argument that Congress not only controls funding, but also has constitutional authority to micromanage the specifics of now those budgetary funds are spent.

So is the President "misusing" the laws that provide the authority to declare a national emergency? Well, that is ultimately a question that is designed to be determined by members of Congress. The law provides members of Congress the ability to override the President's order if they can muster up a two thirds majority (similar to overriding a Presidential veto)*.

(commenting available on previous thread)

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Trump to sign bill and declare National Emergency

Well all the media huffing and puffing (aka fake news stories) about how Republicans would join Democrats in decrying a national emergency was just that, huffing and puffing. Not only will the President likely declare a national emergency, but he will do so with the support of many GOP leaders, including Mitch McConnell.

So the idea that Congress (as WaPo, Politico, and NYT contended) would offer up a scathing rebuttal in the form of some sort of overwhelming bipartisan Congressional rebuke is sort of out the window. No doubt Democrats in the House will likely put together some sort of official House denouncement, but it probably will not have the widespread support that some on the left were hoping for.

That being said, many conservatives are not happy with the idea of Trump attempting to garner wall funding with the use of executive action, due to the fact that they believe it creates the wrong precedent. They are afraid that if he ultimately succeeds in pushing this through that it opens the door for future Democratic Presidents to use a similar action to declare a politically charged issue (like global warming) as a national emergency, and then spend trillions.

There are a couple of logical problems with this suggestion:

The most obvious is that national emergencies are unfunded declarations. Most of these declarations spend little or no money. They are policies that do things like restrict international trade with countries, restrict private business with certain entities, seize property, or block entrance into the United States for foreign nationals from hostile nations.

Even with the declaration of a national emergency, Presidents still have no authority to simply add money to the budget.

The statutory language allows for a President to find and use only otherwise unobligated funds. This only would allow the President to move money out of projects that are currently overfunded (such as a national disaster fund that is no longer necessary), or take it from budget areas that allow for non-specific funding (such as certain military construction money that has no specific purpose). In the grand scheme of things there is simply not a lot of cash to be found in this manner. Expert opinions vary, but most suggest that there is only a few billion dollars that could be reasonably allocated for this sort of purpose. While that would certainly accomplish the goals in this situation, it would certainly not allow for any sort of project that would require massive amounts of money (such as funding the Green New Deal).

Secondly, there is actually nothing that would prevent a Democratic President from striking first in this situation. Even if Trump decides against the national emergency, there is nothing to prevent the next President, or the next President after that, or the next President after that from declaring a national emergency over something like global warming.

Of course, this sort of declaration would likely go through the same legal battle that Trump will go through if/when he declares his emergency. While Congress put some very specific limits on what a President can do with a national emergency declaration, it did not provide much input on what sort of situations would fall under the umbrella of a national emergency.

In my humble opinion, the current makeup of the USSC would likely allow Trump to prevail with his national emergency under the logic that Congress did not distinguish what creates a national emergency, and because border security is something that specifically falls under the reign of the executive branch.

However, I think that the current USSC would have a much harder time favoring a declaration of national emergency that attempted to rebuild our economy and business make up because of global warming. In that case, the courts may fall back on the constitutional separation of powers to declare that such an emergency would require not just a declaration from the executive branch, but also specific funding from Congress. Not only because there would not be enough unobligated money to fund such an overhaul, but also because something like the Green New Deal seems to clearly fall under the authority of Congress (not the executive branch).

Billy Barr confirmed 54-45

Newest A.G. 

Three Democrats (Doug Jones, Kystren Sinema, and Jumpin Joe Manchin) voted in favor, and one Republican (Rand Paul) voted against. Somebody was missing?

Amazon decides against NY

“While polls show that 70% of New Yorkers support our plans and investment, a number of state and local politicians have made it clear that they oppose our presence and will not work with us to build the type of relationships that are required to go forward with the project we and many others envisioned in Long Island City,” the company said.
Ocasio-Cortez gets her wish! 

Not exactly sure why Ocasio-Cortez and other liberal politicians did not want the jobs and commerce in NY, but I guess it is what it is. Amazon will be better served doing business elsewhere.

Says more about the deep state than the President...

Andrew McCabe Says DOJ Seriously Discussed Assembling Trump’s Cabinet to Remove President From Office
A short clip of entire 60 Minutes segment aired Wednesday on CBS Morning, but the more interesting part came in the panel discussion afterward, in which Pelley described what he found to be the “most illuminating and surprising thing” they discussed: the eight days that followed President Donald Trump’s firing of then FBI Director James Comey.
Pelley shared how McCabe explained what was happening behind the scenes at the highest levels of the FBI and Department of Justice in which serious discussions of invoking the 25th amendment to remove a sitting president.

So let's be clear here folks. Donald Trump had been president for barely three months when he fired James Comey. Moreover, James Comey deserved to be fired. He failed to follow policy, he likely broke the law, was blatantly insubordinate, and quite frankly most of the American public had lost confidence in him.

Andrew McCabe had very little interaction (if any) with the President. He would have no known reason to suspect that the President was behaving in a fashion that demanded he be removed from office (3 months into his Presidency) based on some form of inability to function.

What McCabe is offering (admitting might be a better term) is that the FBI and holdover members at the DOJ were scheming for possible ways to undo the 2016 election results, because they did not like the choice that the American public made, and they were now holding a grudge because Trump fired their buddy James.

This sort of behavior should be appalling for anyone who has even the slightest respect for our system of Government and the manner in which we elect our leaders. Our peaceful transfer of powers went uninterrupted for 240 years. Then we had for all practical purposes an attempt at the sort of coup you might expect in a third world banana republic.

This also proves exactly how far members of the DOJ and FBI were willing to go to sabotage the 2016 election results. If they were willing to draw up the concept of an overthrow of the President on dubious personal grounds, then starting an unwarranted and damaging investigation for political reasons seems like an easy call.

The sweet reality of the situation is that Comey, McCabe, Strzok, Page, and all of the other big players in this deep state mutiny have been disciplined, fired, and charges are still being considered against some of them.

Meanwhile, Donald Trump IS STILL PRESIDENT and is still keeping his campaign promises. Moreover the DOJ and FBI seem no worse off for having lost these low lifes. They thought that they were the "the law" - but the "the law" fought the President, and in this case the President won!

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

The "S" word?

Does anyone remember the "sequester" of 2013? 

The sequester created an automatic reduction of discretionary spending in both military and non-military spending. Back in 2013 the sequester laws led to a mandatory reduction of spending by over $80 billion dollars between the two.

Well unless Congress does something (and the President agrees to sign whatever they come up with) we are heading for another "sequester" standoff at the end of this fiscal year. That could reduce domestic discretionary spending by approximately $55 billion dollars, and military spending by even more.

Now the difference here is that there is no immediate "shutdown" to worry about. Pretty much all essential and most non-essential Government spending would be covered. But a ton of discretionary programs would have to be cut, and there would be exactly zero chance of the Democrats being able to include any of their new spending ideas coming into the 2020 election.

Of course the GOP (being an advocate for a strong military) would strongly object to any cuts in our military budget, so both sides have something to lose. Ultimately this is what led to the agreements (that have been updated as we go along) to suspend this automatic action of reducing spending limits.

So the possibility of the President leveraging additional spending on the border wall for his support of another suspension of the sequester is being tossed around. It's not a "today" solution, but it's something that might start to "loom" as we get closer. In this case the President doesn't even have to need the full support of the GOP either. Just enough in either the House or the Senate to prevent an override of any appropriation vetoes.

While Pelosi and some of the crazies in the House might be willing to go toe to toe again with the President on this one, one has to assume that hamstringing the Democrat's ability to spend money and provide the incentive of more free stuff to garner votes in 2020 might be something many other Democrats would want to avoid.

Is there a liberal double standard regarding religion?

So the Ilhan Omar situation has been pretty big news here in Minnesota. For those of you not very familiar with this, Omar is the now infamous Muslim Congresswomen who alledgedly married her own brother to garner her citizenship. But she is most recently in the news for making some fairly inflammatory anti-semetic remarks on her twitter feed. She offered what seemed to be a fairly insincere apology, while not really walking anything she stated back. In fact, shortly after making the so called apology, she scheduled herself to appear in public with someone who is considered extremely anti-Semitic.

The problem here is that Omar seems to be a fairly devout old school Muslim who has some pretty set in stone ideas about Israel, Palestine, and the role of the Jewish community in the Middle East. It's abundantly clear that (like most of the billions of Muslims in the world) that she does not like Jewish people and basically hold anti-Semitic views that she probably sees as mainstream Muslim beliefs.

The problem is that Omar quite obviously sees her role in Congress as one of looking out for these Muslim beliefs, and pushing Middle-Eastern policy based on those beliefs. Now this is not necessarily different (in principal) from a Jewish Congress member pushing Middle-Eastern policy based on what is best for Israel and the Jewish community there. But of course, only one side of this debate is looking to eliminate the other side from existence in the area.

Moreover, American support of the State of Israel in the region is a long held and important middle eastern policy, in large part not only because of our large Jewish population, but because Israel happens to be one of the only Democracies in the area.

This is one of those areas where a Christian can be accused of being a religious zealot due to the fact that they might be pro-life, or accused of being part of a hate-group if they believe that marriage should be between a man and a women. But we are supposed to provide a wide latitude when the religion in question is Muslim, and the beliefs being spouted are anti-Semite and possibly even an advocation of violence.

Keep in mind that the Muslim faith holds some the strongest anti-gay beliefs of any religion. Homosexually is not accepted by most Muslims (much less gay marriage).  Homosexuals can be stoned to death in some Muslim countries.

President Trump has called on Omar to resign. Democratic leadership has condemned the remarks.

But all of this just goes to show how difficult it will be to consolidate all of these beliefs (tactfully) now have a Congress that has a make up of Christian, Jewish, and Muslim faiths. Obviously these faiths have not always been friendly to one another, and these differences have been responsible for much war and carnage over time.

I think it's important for everyone to be respectful of all faiths, even when your particular faith takes serious issue with another. If this is to work, we have to be just as hard on Omar and other Muslims who are being elected, as we are with Christians or Jews who serve. If these Muslims become prone to supporting policies that might include the destruction of Israel and the extinction of the Jewish faith, then we have be even harder on them.

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Well duh!

According to the NBC News report, the Senate Intelligence Committee is approaching the end of its investigation after two years and 200 interviews. Both Republicans and Democrats on the committee concluded there was no direct evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.
Dem. Senate investigators who spoke to @NBCNews on condition of anonymity did not dispute Chairman Burr's characterizations, but said they lacked context.
"We were never going find a contract signed in blood saying, 'Hey Vlad, we're going to collude," a Democratic aide said.

This boils down to the fact the Trump administration did not conspire with Russia, and that (rather than some conspiracy to withhold the truth) is why the Senate Intelligence Committee did not and will not be able to make any findings that prove otherwise.

Now certainly there will be Democrats on the committee (and elsewhere) who will continue to demand that there is lots of smoke, but that comes from a context that is easy to manipulate when your only goal is to raise "suspicion".

There are an infinite amount of ways someone can speculate regarding something like this, but in a case like this the only thing attempted to be determined is if there was any nefarious actions that would constitute something illegal or even just unethical. Not a lot of time was spent looking to see if these actions (being questioned) were routine.

I heard that some Democrats are going to try to raise the issue of  the Administration's decision making when it came to contacts with Russian officials. But that is sort of the sort of circular reasoning that makes it so hard to take politicians seriously.

It was Democrats (and their ilk) who decided to question things, and then when they don't find what they are looking for, they want to place blame elsewhere for making them look in the first place. The reality is that you made the allegations, those allegations were denied. You had no evidence when you made the allegations, and you still have no evidence two years later.

Perhaps instead of looking for someone to blame for coming up short, you should just apologize for accusing the sitting President of treason without a shred of evidence?

El Paso photos

Can't have a good Democratic rally these days without someone flying the flag of Mexico!