Wednesday, December 28, 2016
Barack Obama delivers last-minute hit to democracy
Barack Obama’s presidency is ending with a fine contempt for democracy as he exhibits every trait of hubris, arrogance and disregard for the messy business of elections and democratic mandates in his efforts to tie the hands of his successor on contentious policy that Obama was never willing to take to the electorate, or put before congress.
On two contentious issues — Israeli settlements and offshore drilling in the Atlantic Ocean and the Arctic — Obama is taking actions directly against the spirit and practice of democracy by using bureaucratic and legal manoeuvres to try to put policy decisions beyond democratic revision. Obama chose to wait until after the presidential election to take these steps. Obama, with Hillary Clinton, was always the best advertisement for Donald Trump, even more so now, for Obama, at the extreme end of lame duckery, demonstrates a peerless elite disregard for democratic process and the messy and inconvenient business of electoral results.
It is Obama, not Trump, who pioneered American weakness and retreat from leadership.
Obama has been kind to America’s enemies, but he is a dangerous friend. America’s allies, in this case Israel, have been his chief victims. By abstaining, Obama allowed a resolution to go through the Security Council that the US had always previously vetoed. It is a one-sided and expansively worded condemnation of all Israeli settlements outside the lines of the state of Israel as it existed before the 1967 war.
On its face, the resolution makes no sense as the land the resolution chiefly concerns was never officially Palestinian land but, before 1967, belonged to Jordan. Israel has always accepted that the final status of this land must be worked out in negotiations and has made at least three serious offers to give more than 90 per cent of the land in question to a new Palestinian state.
In exchange, the Palestinian leadership must accept that this is an end of claims, must recognise the legitimacy of Israel, and must commit to its future security. The Palestinians have not been able to meet these conditions.
No one who lives in the real world thinks the Israel-Palestine dispute can be solved in today’s environment of a Middle East in flames.
Let’s be quite clear about this. Obama, with extreme irresponsibility, is licensing a new wave of global anti-Semitism. And he knows exactly what he’s doing.
Because of the blanket terms in which the UN resolution condemns Israel — simplistically equating every Israeli suburb in East Jerusalem with the most provocative and, in Israeli terms, illegal settlement outpost in Palestinian population centres in the West Bank — it will give massive encouragement and legitimacy to every international effort from the most toxic actors in the world to demonise Israel and to demonise Jews.
And to be reversed it will require another Security Council resolution, which Trump’s administration will no doubt move, but will be surely vetoed by Russia and China.
Obama’s contempt for democracy is equally evident in the Atlantic and Arctic oil drilling bans.
He has every right to prevent such drilling if he wishes, but he has chosen to do so under an ambiguously worded law that means that when Trump reverses Obama’s edict this will inevitably be challenged in court.
This is just the behaviour which brings democracy into contempt and fuels a backlash like that which propelled Trump to the presidency.
Obama cannot leave office a day too soon, though God alone knows what other harm he might accomplish before January 20.
Lame Duck Obama Sneaks Two Radicals Into Bureaucracy
President Barack Obama does not intend to go quietly into retirement.
Despite historical precedence, Obama named two Far Left radicals to six year terms on the U.S. Civil Rights Commission.
Dego Adegbile received one of the sinecures on the strength of his defense of murderous cop killer Mumia Abu-Jamal.
John McNesby, president of the Philadelphia chapter of the Fraternal Order of Police, called the appointment a “kick in the teeth to the cops.” Sam Cabral, president of the International Union of Police Associations, called the appointment a “slap in the face to every law enforcement officer in this great nation” in a statement released Friday.
Pennsylvania’s Senator had more pointed reaction to Obama’s sneakplay:
“Mr. Adegbile did not simply defend a client. He supervised an effort to lionize unrepentant cop-killer Mumia Abu Jamal, who cold-bloodedly murdered Philadelphia police officer Danny Faulkner 35 years ago,” Toomey’s statement read. “Mr. Adegbile supervised the effort to spread misinformation about the trial and evidence, fabricate claims of racism, malign Philly police, and organize rallies across the globe that portrayed this brutal cop-killer as the victim.”
“A Democrat-led U.S. Senate evaluated the facts and agreed that Debo Adegbile is not fit to represent the American people as an enforcer of civil rights. This judgment included the votes of seven Democrats. I call on President Obama to adhere to the bipartisan judgment of the U.S. Senate and withdraw his appointment of Debo Adegbile to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights,” the statement
The other radical now drawing a fat government paycheck thanks to President Obama is Catherine Lhamon.
Catherine Lhamon orchestrated the Obama administration’s overhaul of Title IX, co-authored the “Dear Colleague” letter mandating transgender bathroom use in public schools, and also played a key role in the now-infamous Rolling Stone hoax. Her appointment is a similarly aggressive appointment for a president with just over a month left in office.
Generally speaking, President’s leave vacancies this close to the end of their term for the new President. However, Obama could not pass up a chance to stick two Far Left apparatchiks in positions of power.
Congress Needs to Fix America's Broken Financial System
Whole forests have been cut down to print the books written about the financial crisis of 2007/8 and America’s response to it. Far fewer have been written on what’s wrong with the financial system now. Yet there’s a lot wrong with it. Despite historically low interest rates, banks aren’t lending to businesses or individuals, smaller and community banks have had to close or merge, low-income customers have seen free checking accounts disappear and their fees rise. The financial system is dysfunctional and not fit for purpose.
Most of the blame for this can be laid directly at the feet of the Dodd-Frank Act, passed in 2010 supposedly to stop another financial crisis happening by reining in the big banks with regulatory compliance. Yet the effect of the law has been to strengthen the position of the Wall Street banks most at fault for the crisis, while punishing the Main Street banks who behaved responsibly (there are more details on how this came about in my 2015 paper, “How Dodd-Frank Harms Main Street”).
In addition, the Dodd-Frank law also created a powerful regulator with all the conditions necessary for it to go rogue, which it did quickly – the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The CFPB was created with a powerful director who did not serve at the pleasure of the President, independence from Congressional oversight via funding, and with many of its decisions protected from judicial review. The Bureau’s exercise of the enormous power granted to it over the financial system finally led to a court case, PHH Corp. v CFPB, which found the Bureau not only to have acted outrageously towards the plaintiffs, but to have been structured unconstitutionally.
Congress needs to fix this system before another financial crisis hits. CEI’s scholars outline their suggestions for doing this in chapter 2 of our new Agenda for Congress. Our recommendations are:
* Congress should pass the Financial CHOICE Act, in whole or in part, to fix the system by, for instance:
* Allowing banks to swap a higher capital buffer for burdensome regulatory compliance
* Make regulators accountable by reforming the Federal Reserve, CFPB, and other agencies
* Provide a better resolution to the “Too Big to Fail” (TBTF) problem by replacing the counterproductive “orderly liquidation authority” of Dodd-Frank with a new chapter of the bankruptcy code.
* Make the CFPB accountable. While the PHH case, if upheld, would make the CFPB Director directly responsible to the President, Congress needs to assert the power of the purse over the Bureau by making its funding part of the appropriations process.
* Pass a series of reforms preventing regulatory overreach in financial services. These include:
Protecting federalism by making sure that loans issued in one state cannot be considered usurious by another state.
Create a system of optional federal charters for nonbank finance companies that would allow them to export interest rates to out-of-state consumers.
Reforming the laws that enabled the Department of Justice to persecute financial companies whose activities they disapproved of in Operation Choke Point
Repeal the Durbin Amendment that capped fees related to debit card use, which resulted in banks increasing other fees without the consumer getting any benefit in reduced store prices.
Pass laws protecting innovation in financial technology – fintech. These laws would allow firms to seek more investment through crowdfunding platforms, allow more people to qualify as “accredited investors” who can invest in a wide range of enterprises, stop the Securities and Exchange Commission from regulating peer-to-peer loans as if they were securities, and protect digital currencies from overregulation.
Finally fix the TBTF problem by restricting the power of the Financial Stability Oversight Council, phase out Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, phase out federal deposit insurance, and restrict regulators’ power to stop new banks from forming without adequate reason.
With these reforms, Congress will take the financial system off forced life support and allow it to start breathing freely again. The reforms will help unleash financial innovation and provide much-needed access to capital for businesses and individuals.
Something to make a numbskull kid think: "The New York Police Department has stripped Sgt. Eliezer Pabon of five vacation days after an administrative trial found him guilty of using excessive force. Pabon shoved a handcuffed 14-year-old [black] boy through a store window after the boy mouthed off at him. The boy suffered a punctured lung and had to have glass removed from his heart.
Trumpstein?: "President-elect Donald Trump was bombarded with antisemitic tweets from his social media followers shortly after he tweeted "Happy Hanukkah" alongside a picture of a menorah on the first night of the Jewish festival of lights. Some social media users were angered, claiming that they had voted for the Trump camp on the basis that he was a good Christian, and they "don't support satanic Jews," while others accused him of being a "sellout." The feed soon turned into a fight between those who support Trump and those who don't.
Babyface says Trump is an authoritarian: "CNN and one of their main hacks Brain Stelter continue to prove that Donald Trump lives rent free in their egg heads. Stelter is now urging other media hacks to call Trump Authoritarian because he mocks ‘journalists’ and the liberal press.
Black suspects more at risk from black cops: "Despite an intense national focus on high-profile police shootings involving white officers and black men, a new study shows that white officers are not statistically more likely to shoot and kill a black suspect. Among a sample of 2,699 fatal police killings between 2013 and 2015, the study found that the odds of a black suspect being killed by a black police officer were consistently greater than the odds of a black suspect getting killed by a white officer"
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Posted by JR at 1:20 AM