South Dakota GOP Asks House Rep To Start Obama Impeachment Proceedings

The South Dakota Republican Party voted by a narrow margin over the weekend to ask its single delegate to the House of Representatives, Republican Congresswoman Kristi Noem, to initiate articles of impeachment against President Barack Obama.

By a 191-176 vote, the State party approved a resolution which “calls on our U.S. Representatives to initiate impeachment proceedings against the president of the United States,” according to the Sioux Falls-based Argus Leader, because the President has “violated his oath of office in numerous ways.”

The gesture marks the latest instance of impeachment saber-rattling, continuing a conservative trope that has endured throughout Obama’s first 5.5 years in office.

South Dakota’s GOP leaders evidently realize the measure’s impact is, likely, merely symbolic. But their remarks indicate the resolution represents an important demarcation of the party’s collective belief that Obama has flouted the Constitution, brought enduring shame to the institutions of public service at the Federal level, and subverted the intended balance of power between the three branches of government.

According to the Argus Leader, Allen Unruh, the measure’s sponsor, believes the South Dakota GOP will “send a symbolic message that liberty shall be the law of the land” by formally requesting impeachment proceedings.

“If anyone in this room cannot see the horrendous, traitorous scandals run by the Obama administration, I will pray for you,” Larry Klipp, another of the resolution’s supporters, told the party.

But Noem — who has been plenty critical of Obama — isn’t likely to forge ahead with the impeachment idea.

“The Congresswoman currently believes the best way for Congress to hold the President accountable is to continue aggressive committee oversight and investigations into the Administration’s actions like the ongoing VA scandal, the targeting of conservative groups by the IRS, Benghazi, and the recent Taliban prisoner exchange,” a Noem staffer told the newspaper following the impeachment vote.

IRS Chief Koskinen Has History Of Donating To Democrats

Stuck in the swelter of House Republicans’ angry criticism for his agency’s misplacement of subpoenaed emails, as well as his own leisurely disposition toward Congressional investigators looking into discriminatory targeting of political conservatives, IRS Commissioner John Koskinen might understandably hold an adversarial view of the GOP these days.

But if campaign finance records offer any insight, that’s nothing new: the 74-year-old Koskinen has been an energetic donor to Democratic campaigns for more than 30 years.

Dating back to the late 1970s, Koskinen has shelled out close to $100,000 for Democratic candidates and causes — most recently just last year, when he contributed $2,500 to the campaign of Senator Mark Warner (D-Va.).

According to a report Monday at The Washington Free Beacon, Koskinen’s track record as a campaign donor reveals a clear pattern of partisan sympathy that’s spanned half a lifetime:

Koskinen has been a reliable donor over the years, contributing a total of $19,000 to the Democratic National Committee from 1988 to 2008. He has made a contribution to the Democratic candidate for president in each election since 1980, including $2,300 to Obama in 2008, and $5000 to Obama in 2012.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has received $3,000 from Koskinen since 2008, and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee received $2,000 from 2004 to 2006.

…Koskinen’s most recent contribution was $2,500 to Sen. Mark Warner (D., Va.) in February of 2013.

Koskinen was appointed IRS commissioner later that year, and was tasked with revamping the tax agency in the wake of criticism that it was allowing partisanship dictate which groups applying for tax-exempt status would receive extra scrutiny.

Koskinen began his IRS appointment with a general pledge to un-dig the hole in which the agency has found its public image in the wake of the still-simmering conservative discrimination scandal. “It took a little while to dig the hole, and it’s going to take us a little while to get out of it,” he told reporters after being sworn in in early January.

“The public needs to be confident that they will be treated fairly no matter who they are, what organization they are or whom they voted for,” he reiterated at a Washington luncheon in May.

But as the agency’s good faith response to House investigators’ requests for evidence has faltered — particularly with respect to its alleged withholding of information about the disappearance of email communications between IRS employees named in the scandal — Koskinen has literally become less apologetic about the damage the IRS has done to his longtime ideological opponents.

“I don’t think an apology is owed,” Koskinen told Ways and Means Committee member Dave Camp (R-Mich.) at a hearing on the matter last week.

Mixed Reactions To Supreme Court’s Ruling On EPA Power Grab

Depending on which story you read today about the Supreme Court’s 5-4 decision on how far the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) can stretch its ambitious regulatory authority, you may have gotten the impression that the Court is the Obama Administration’s rubber stamp or the immovable object blocking the advance of the President’s global warming agenda.

The Court upheld the EPA’s legal power to enforce both current and future regulations on power plants and manufacturing facilities already under its regulatory purview. But the Court also ruled that the EPA does not have the legislative authority to arbitrarily revise regulatory standards already on its books, and cannot impose new restrictions on alleged polluters not currently included in the Obama Administration’s schedule of entities that are subject to the greenhouse gas emissions permitting process.

The ruling does not affect the Obama Administration’s fresh round of rules proposals, which purport to effectively trim carbon gas emissions emanating from existing facilities by up to 25 percent over the next two decades.

“We hold that EPA exceeded its statutory authority when it interpreted the Clean Air Act to require… permitting for stationary sources based on their greenhouse gas emissions,” wrote Justice Antonin Scalia for the majority. “Specifically, the agency may not treat greenhouse gases as a pollutant for purposes of defining a ‘major emitting facility’ … in the context of a ‘major source.’ To the extent its regulations purport to do so, they are invalid.”

That means the EPA can’t justify new regulations on plant expansions or new construction of facilities on the simple basis of how much greenhouse gas they might emit – other “traditional” pollutants must factor into that mix of well-intentioned concern.

“Specifically, the court said the EPA may require a greenhouse gas permit on any entity that already requires a permit for traditional pollutants such as soot and nitrogen oxide,” reported The Hill, which viewed the ruling as a net win for the EPA and the Obama Administration.

Indeed, the EPA offered a chirpy spin on the decision, borrowing liberally from Obama’s straw man-toppling rhetorical playbook. “Today is a good day for all supporters of clean air and public health and those concerned with creating a better environment for future generations,” the agency responded in a statement.

Sadly, there was no public rebuttal today from all the supporters of filthy air, pandemic illness, and the destruction of the environment to spite future generations.

Unlike The Hill, conservative news website The Daily Caller hailed the decision as a much-needed judicial check on the Obama Administration’s expansion of regulatory power, proclaiming in a headline the Court had essentially struck down the “first phase of EPA’s global warming agenda.”

“The decision was welcomed by power companies, as well as the oil and gas industry, because the rules also extended to refineries and other large manufacturing facilities,” the site reported. “…The Supreme Court’s decision, however, does not affect upcoming regulations limiting carbon dioxide emissions on new and existing power plants.”

So which is it – an EPA seal of approval, or a major blow to Obama’s reach? Mostly, it’s the former. It’s a signal the EPA can move forward with just about everything the Obama Administration has planned for it in the short term, and an indication that the agency can continue to rely on the Clean Air Act as the basis for its ongoing broad regulatory powers over the emission of carbon gases – so long as it doesn’t attempt a rewrite of existing environmental law at the policy level.

Scalia said as much as he announced the decision.

“EPA is getting almost everything it wanted in this case,” said Scalia. “It sought to regulate sources that it said were responsible for 86 percent of all the greenhouse gases emitted from stationary sources nationwide. Under our holdings, EPA will be able to regulate sources responsible for 83 percent of those emissions.”

Culture Shift: Obama Administration Rolls Out ‘Unlawful Migration’ To Replace ‘Illegal Immigration’

In an evident attempt to resow the rocky cultural landscape defined by impassioned views of both sides of the Nation’s unfolding illegal immigration crisis, the Administration of President Barack Obama is clarifying its position on the issue by attempting to change the language it uses to describe the act of illegally entering and living in the United States.

The Weekly Standard made note of the Administration’s attempt at subtly changing the narrative of the illegal immigration debate on Friday, observing that Obama unveiled the new terminology in a phone conversation with Mexican president Peña Nieto on June 19.

A summary of that conversation, provided by the White House, includes Obama’s use of the new phrase:

This afternoon President Obama spoke by phone with Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto to discuss a regional strategy to address the influx of unaccompanied children coming from Central America, through Mexico, to the U.S.-Mexico border. The President noted that Vice President Biden will attend a regional meeting in Guatemala on Friday, June 20, to discuss the urgent humanitarian issue, and welcomed the opportunity to work in close cooperation with Mexico to develop concrete proposals to address the root causes of unlawful migration from Central America. He also discussed the United States and Mexico’s shared responsibility for promoting security in both countries and in the region.

The Obama Administration has used “unlawful migration” at least once before, although — as The Weekly Standard points out — the context was very different. In 2009, the White House used the term in a joint statement between the U.S. and China concerning the two countries’ collaboration on criminal investigations into financial and drug crimes, as well as into — wait for it — “combating unlawful migration.”

Paul Ryan Hammers IRS Chief Koskinen On Missing Lerner Emails: ‘Nobody Believes You’

Congressman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) led the Republican chorus of bitter criticism today against Internal Revenue Service Commissioner John Koskinen, telling the IRS boss that it’s inconceivable the agency would hold itself to such a lax standard for recordkeeping while it expects American taxpayers to do better with their personal tax documents.

“I’m sitting here, listening to this testimony, I don’t believe it,” Ryan said this morning during Koskinen’s testimony before the House Ways and Means Committee.

“That’s your problem: Nobody believes you. The Internal Revenue Service comes to us a couple years ago and misleads us and tells us no targeting is occurring. Then it said it was a few rogue agents in Cincinnati. Then it said it was also on progressives. All of those things have been proven untrue.

“You are the Internal Revenue Service. You can reach into the lives of hard-working taxpayers and with a phone call, an e-mail or a letter you can turn their lives upside down. You ask taxpayers to hang onto seven years of their personal tax information in case they are ever audited, and you can’t keep six months’ worth of employee e-mails? And now that we are seeing this investigation, you don’t have the e-mails; hard drives ‘crashed.’ You learned about this months ago. You just told us, and we had to ask you on Monday.”

Koskinen struggled to interject a few remarks while Ryan held the floor, but objected that he had had a long career and had never before been told by a colleague that his information couldn’t be trusted. He also told the Committee “I don’t think an apology is owed” for withholding from Congress the knowledge that emails subpoenaed in the House investigation had been lost – even though he shared that same information with the Obama Administration six weeks before sharing it with Congress.

Ryan said that’s not “forthcoming” behavior from an agency that has pledged its full cooperation with the House investigation.

“Here’s what being forthcoming is: If we are investigating criminal wrongdoing, targeting of people based on their political beliefs and the emails in question are lost because of a hard drive crash that is apparently unrecoverable, which a lot of IT professionals would question, and you don’t tell us about it until we ask you about it, that is not being forthcoming,” said Ryan.

Senate Report Condemns Obama For Rushing Obamacare Rollout To Save Face

Politically motivated flogging to hasten the rollout of the Affordable Care Act by the Administration of President Barack Obama was responsible for the disastrous launch of the President’s signature achievement, according to a damning new report issued by a pair of GOP Congressmen.

The report — released Thursday by Senators Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), both members of the Senate Finance Committee — comes months after many mainstream media outlets had penned an early epilogue for the Republican-led criticism of Obamacare as a significant 2014 campaign issue.

Titled “Red Flags: How Politics and Poor Management Led to the Meltdown of Healthcare.gov,” the Senate Finance report accuses Obama of willfully ignoring experts’ warnings about the readiness of Healthcare.gov, the Federal Obamacare website, to accept applications for healthcare coverage, to securely store customer information and to process payments.

“Both metaphorically and factually, the website was designed to be the public face of President Obama’s signature achievement,” the report states. “… No one wanted to be the messenger that told the White House that its signature piece of legislation was going to crash at takeoff. The administration prioritized political success over protecting taxpayers.”

The report includes previously unreleased information about a pre-launch audit of the website conducted by TurningPoint Global Solutions, which warned the Administration repeatedly that the site was far from ready, identified “677 serious defects” and found that the system was plagued by more than 20,000 lines of bad programming code and could crash if even 500 people attempted to access the site at the same time.

The report accuses Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) administrator Marilyn Tavenner, feeling the pressure to burnish Obama’s political reputation in what was supposed to be his finest moment, of ignoring those warnings and forging ahead with the rollout — even against the advice of at least one colleague who had called for a delay.

On the other side of Obamacare’s fall 2013 rollout, of course, the Obama Administration has been forced thorough its own bad choices to unilaterally and illegally alter the law, issuing delay after delay and adjusting policy rules in order to accommodate the loudest complainers.

“The administration looked the other way on problems, even when the independent contractor hired to monitor the project was waving red flags, pointing to likely failure,” Grassley stated. “This website wasn’t a ‘Field of Dreams’ fantasy where you hope for the best and everything works out because it’s a movie.”

New York Times Endorses Charlie Rangel’s Opponent In New York House Race

Disgraced Congressman Charlie Rangel (D-N.Y.), who has served 22 terms in the House of Representatives, has lost the endorsement of The New York Times, which published an editorial this week supporting Rangel’s challenger in next week’s Democratic primary.

The Times’ editorial board didn’t beat around the bush concerning Rangel’s embarrassing Congressional censure in 2010, nor its effect on his reputation with voters and within power circles in the Nation’s capital.

“After a humiliating censure by Congress four years ago for failing to pay taxes and other ethical lapses, Representative Charles Rangel has steadily lost power in Washington,” The Times asserts. “After nearly 44 years in office, it is now time for him to yield to the next generation.”

The paper instead urges residents of the State’s 13th Congressional District, which lies entirely within the City of New York, to vote for Democrat Adriano Espaillat, a New York State Senator who “has been spent [sic] his 18 years in the States [sic] Legislature, mostly fighting for tenants, day-care staff and farmworkers,” according to The Times. “He has pushed for in-state tuition at public universities for undocumented children, called for a repeal of exorbitant tax breaks for expensive apartment buildings and has strongly supported immigrants’ rights.”

Rangel is trying to win by running on his career longevity, “fighting Espaillat on the campaign trail by arguing his seniority and experience as a legislator will benefit the district,” according to USA Today.

The 84-year-old Congressman was formally censured in December 2010 after a protracted scandal involving his non-payment of taxes on a Dominican beach house and his alleged abuse of elected office for illegal fundraising. Among his many public statements immediately following that embarrassment, Rangel defended his misdeeds by pointing out: “I did not curse out the speaker. I did not have sex with minors. I did not steal money.”

In April of last year, Rangel filed suit against the House Ethics Committee over the censure, not because he disputed his own guilt, but because he thought the House investigation into his activities was sloppy. He has since been the target of bitter criticism, both for revisiting a disgraceful moment in the annals of Congressional decorum and for spending one-third of his 2014 campaign war chest on the legal bills associated with the effort to have the censure overturned.

Michelle Obama Welcomes New U.S. Citizens By Promoting Immigration Agenda

First lady Michelle Obama spoke Wednesday at a swearing-in ceremony commemorating the efforts of 50 freshly-minted U.S. citizens at attaining their citizenship through legal means.

The diverse group of new citizens, reportedly hailing from more than a dozen countries, “waved American flags excitedly as they stood before the nation’s founding documents and completed the oath of citizenship,” The Washington Post reported Wednesday.

Obama congratulated them and praised the contributions that immigrants historically have made to the Nation’s growth.

Then she essentially told them all that they’d just been played, insinuating that future naturalized citizens should have a much easier path toward their goal than the one they’d all just followed.

“Today, here in Washington, folks are still debating whether or not to fix our immigration system, even though just about everyone agrees that it is broken,” said the first lady just before the ceremony ended. “I want you all to know that my husband has made this his top legislative priority because, at the end of the day, this fight isn’t just about principles, it’s about real people.”

Is that something that this group of people – in the very moment their pride in achieving the goal of citizenship through hard work and in accordance with U.S. law is, justifiably, at its zenith – really wants to hear?

The Post described Obama’s choice of occasion and venue as “an important backdrop for the first lady as she pressed her husband’s stagnant immigration agenda. …The first lady did not directly address the number of immigrants living in the country illegally, which, along with the Obama administration’s deportation policy, are sticking points on the contentious issue.”

 

Al Gore Confident Obama Will Block Keystone Pipeline

Former Vice President Al Gore must have some insight into President Barack Obama’s environmental strategy that no one else does. Either that or he’s making generalized, unverifiable statements to sympathetic media outlets again.

In a guest piece for Rolling Stone Wednesday, Gore said Obama has “signaled” that he’ll “reject the absurdly reckless Keystone XL-pipeline proposal,” giving Gore fresh hope that the President — who Gore thinks hasn’t gone far enough to advance climate change policies through his first term — has finally “taken hold of the challenge with determination and seriousness of purpose.”

It’s no secret that Obama’s heart appears to be aligned against Keystone, but the political and economic consequences of an outright rejection have so far left his Administration’s disposition toward the XL (“export limited”) expansion an open-ended question. Canada signed off on the expansion in 2010, but Obama’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), already preoccupied with expanding regulations on traditional energy sources, has found various reasons for postponing a final decision.

Gore did not offer any context for his remarks on Obama’s ultimate rejection of the XL project, although Obama has attempted to link the Keystone expansion with unclean air in rhetoric promoting the EPA’s new carbon rules.

Gore attempted to do the same thing, lumping carbon emissions with the current Administration’s stance on the pipeline project:

He [Obama] has empowered his Environmental Protection Agency to enforce limits on CO2 emissions for both new and, as of this June, existing sources of CO2. He has enforced bold new standards for the fuel economy of the U.S. transportation fleet. He has signaled that he is likely to reject the absurdly reckless Keystone XL-pipeline proposal for the transport of oil from carbon­intensive tar sands to be taken to market through the United States on its way to China, thus effectively limiting their exploitation. And he is even now preparing to impose new limits on the release of methane pollution.

All of these welcome steps forward have to be seen, of course, in the context of Obama’s continued advocacy of a so-called all-of-the-above energy policy — which is the prevailing code for aggressively pushing more drilling and fracking for oil and gas.

“Absurdly reckless” is a hyperbolic description of a project that has been studied, re-studied and given the seal of approval by the Department of State Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs.

Then again, hyperbole has been Gore’s calling card ever since leaving his elected role. In the same Rolling Stone article, Gore managed to shake down the philosophical underpinnings of American free enterprise itself, lamenting that “civilization is confronting this existential challenge at a moment in our historical development when our dominant global ideology — democratic capitalism — has been failing us in important respects.”

Obama Says Congress Not Needed For Action In Iraq

If the U.S. takes military action to shore up the Iraqi regime it left in place after leaving on icy terms in 2011, the executive branch won’t seek a permission slip from Congress to do it, President Barack Obama told several lawmakers today.

Meeting at the White House with four members of Congress to discuss the potential role the U.S. might play in beating back Sunni militants as their organization, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), advances toward Baghdad, Obama said the best lawmakers should hope for is to be apprised of whatever actions the White House will have already decided to take.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, one of the four who met with Obama, said the President pledged only to “keep us posted,” according to The Hill:

“The President briefed us on the situation in Iraq and indicated he didn’t feel he had any need for authority from us for steps that he might take and indicated that he would keep us posted,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) told reporters after the hour-long meeting at the White House.

Separately, a congressional source familiar with the meeting said Obama told the four leaders that he did not plan to ask for congressional authority because he did not expect to order any action anytime soon that he felt would require congressional approval.

Whether that means Obama will stop short of an act of war, Congressional Democrats argue he’s already permitted wide discretion in planning military action under the same Congressional law that granted President George W. Bush permission to authorize military force in Iraq in 2002.

“I do not believe the President needs any further legislative authority to pursue the particular options for increased security assistance discussed today,” said House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), who also attended the meeting.

As The Hill points out, that’s an ironic statement for supporters of the same Administration that has sought to repeal the Bush-era authorization.

Not all Congressional Democrats are supportive of Obama’s interpretation of his war powers, should he decide to use force. “I certainly believe that the President always has to get Congressional approval,” Senate Foreign Relations Committee member Tim Kaine (D-Va.) told reporters today. “If there’s an emergency, you may need to come back and get a Congressional ratification. That’s the way the process is supposed to work.”

That belief was echoed by Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.), who told the media the President should not presume he can order proposed air strikes against ISIS on Iraqi soil without coming before the legislative body.

“A new war has started, and if people want to go be involved in a new war, the job of Congress is to vote on it,” said Paul. “I don’t think you can have a Congress of 10 years ago make a decision for the people here 10 years later.”