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Can Congress Keep President Obama out of the Twilight Zone?

twilight-zone

Jonathan Weisman writes for tomorrow’s Wall Street Journal:

As a candidate, Mr. Obama vowed that he wouldn’t abuse the presidential signing statement, a declaration issued by the president when he signs a bill to give his interpretation of that law. President George W. Bush used so many signing statements — more than 750 — that the American Bar Association criticized it as an abuse of power.

After Mr. Obama’s issuance of his second signing statement last month, even some Democrats say he isn’t keeping his word on reining in unilateral presidential actions.

“Of course there’s a broader issue here,” said House Financial Services Chairman Barney Frank (D., Mass.), referring to the brewing battles with Mr. Obama over presidential prerogative. “It’s outrageous. It’s exactly what the Bush people did.”

Oooooh! Barney may have to be called to the Oval Office for another charm injection. It sounds like the last one is wearing off.

On June 24, Obama issued a signing statement claiming that he did not have to follow the limitations on funds that Congress appropriated for the World bank and International Monetary Fund. Incensed,

The House rebuked President Obama for trying to ignore restrictions to international aid payments, voting overwhelmingly for an amendment forcing the administration to abide by its constraints.

House members approved an amendment by a 429-2 vote to have the Obama administration pressure the World Bank to strengthen labor and environmental standards and require a Treasury Department report on World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF) activities.

Back to the WSJ article:

In a letter slated for delivery on Wednesday, Mr. Frank, House Appropriations Committee Chairman David Obey (D., Wis.), and New York Democratic Reps. Nita Lowey and Gregory Meeks will inform the president that if he issues another signing statement on IMF and World Bank funding, Congress will cut off the funds he wants.

Interestingly, Sonia Sotomayor was asked about presidential signing statements in her Senate Confirmation Hearing today. Senator Diane Feinstein asked Sotomayor if it is Constitutional for Presidents to refuse to enforce certain parts of laws passed by Congress. Her response:

Justice Jackson, in his concurrence in the Youngstown steel seizure case, and that involved President Truman’s seizures of steel factories” — that was a 1952 case in which the court dealt a stinging rebuke to what it considered to be Truman’s executive overreach — “there, Justice Jackson … says that you always have to look at assertions by the president that he or she is acting within executive power in the context of what Congress has done or not done…. First, you look at, has Congress expressly addressed or authorized the president to act a certain way.” If so, she said, “then he is acting at his highest stature of power. If the president is acting in prohibition of an expressed or implied act of Congress, then he is working at his lowest ebb.

“If he is acting where Congress hasn’t spoken, then he is acting in what Justice Jackson called ‘the zone of twilight.’ ”

She concluded: “You can’t speak more specifically than that… Other than to say, a president can’t act in violation of the Constitution. No one’s above the law.”

Okay, so is it Constitutional for the President to be in the twilight zone? Sotomayor didn’t quite commit herself on that one.

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LMAO Open Thread

blogstalkers


From the pathetic nether regions of the blogosphere:

Given the frequency with which the Effluence is linked at Memeorandum in recent weeks, I’m suspecting that someone at Memeorandum has the hots for one of the Effluencers, blackmail may be involved, or possibly even bribery.

He he he – here’s a hint:

“Size matters”

This is an open thread.

Grilled Sotomayor

071409_sotomayor1


They tried, but they didn’t lay a glove on her:

Sonia Sotomayor pushed back vigorously Tuesday against Republican charges that she would bring bias and a liberal agenda to her seat as the first Hispanic woman on the Supreme Court, insisting repeatedly she would be impartial as GOP senators tried to undercut her with her own words from past speeches.

[…]

Sotomayor, 55, kept her composure — judge-like, supporters said — during the intense day of questions and answer, listening intently and scribbling notes as senators peppered her with queries, then leaning into her microphone and gesturing for emphasis as she responded. She returns for another full day of questioning on Wednesday.

“My record shows that at no point or time have I ever permitted my personal views or sympathies to influence the outcome of a case,” the appeals court judge declared during a tense exchange with Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama, the top Republican on the committee that is conducting this week’s confirmation hearings. He repeatedly questioned her ability to be objective as a Supreme Court justice, citing her own comments.

Sotomayor backed away from perhaps the most damaging words that had been brought up since Obama nominated her seven weeks ago — a 2001 comment suggesting that a “wise Latina” judge would usually reach better conclusions than a white man. She called the remark “a rhetorical flourish that fell flat.”

“It was bad because it left an impression that I believed that life experiences commanded a result in a case, but that’s clearly not what I do as a judge,” Sotomayor said.

She also distanced herself from the man who nominated her, after Republican Sen. Jon Kyl asked whether Sotomayor shared Obama’s view — stated when he was a senator — that in some cases, the key determinant is “what is in the judge’s heart.”

“I wouldn’t approach the issue of judging in the way the president does,” she said. “Judges can’t rely on what’s in their heart. They don’t determine the law. Congress makes the laws. The job of a judge is to apply the law.”

Republicans sounded unconvinced by Sotomayor’s defense.

“I am very troubled that you would repeatedly over a decade or more make statements” like the one in 2001, Sessions said.

And Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said Sotomayor’s answers Tuesday were starkly at odds with her previous comments. “That’s what we’re trying to figure out — who are we getting here?” he said.

During her first chance to answer questions publicly, Sotomayor stopped short of calling the right to abortion settled law but also said, “All precedents of the Supreme Court I consider settled law subject to” great deference but not absolute. Under repeated questioning, she said she’d have an open mind on gun rights.

She also defended her most frequently criticized ruling: a decision by a three-judge panel of the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals last year to dismiss the claim of white firefighters in New Haven, Conn., who alleged racial discrimination after being denied promotions.

[…]

Sotomayor said the lawsuit, in which New Haven scrapped the results of a promotion test because too few minorities did well, was not about quotas or affirmative action.

“We were following precedent,” she said.

Leahy was the first to question Sotomayor on the case, and he teed up a sympathetic portrayal of her approach, saying she would have been criticized however the panel had ruled — “You’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t,” he said. Prodded by Leahy, Sotomayor said she “absolutely” would have approached the case differently in light of the new standard she said the Supreme Court laid out in its recent ruling.

[…]

Sotomayor, who hasn’t ruled on the issue during her 17 years on the federal bench, shed little light on her view, confining her answers to legal-speak that never went beyond what the high court has said on the subject. She said the right to abortion is “the Supreme Court’s settled interpretation of what the core holding is,” as affirmed in a separate 1992 ruling.

Sotomayor’s came close to saying the issue was settled law — but stopped short of that flat declaration. Under questioning by Sen. Herb Kohl, D-Wis., Sotomayor did say she considered the existence of a right to privacy — considered a key precursor of Roe — to be “settled law.”

Under questioning by Graham, she also professed ignorance of cases in which the Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund, a civil rights group she advised as a board member between 1980 and 1992, argued for taxpayer-funded abortions.

“I never reviewed those briefs,” Sotomayor told Graham.

Leahy was first to ask about the “wise Latina” comment that has sparked so much controversy.

“I want to state upfront, unequivocally and without doubt: I do not believe that any racial, ethnic or gender group has an advantage in sound judging,” Sotomayor said. “I do believe that every person has an equal opportunity to be a good and wise judge, regardless of their background or life experiences.”

It’s all Kabuki anyway – the Republicans don’t have the votes to block her. They’re just posturing for the folks back home.


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Bloviating Gasbag (R-Alabama)

Bloviating Gasbag (R-Alabama)

Priceless:

Sen. Jeff Sessions (R., Ala.), seeking to discredit Judge Sonia Sotomayor’s judicial philosophy, cited her 2001 “wise Latina” speech, and contrasted the view that ethnicity and sex influence judging with that of Judge Miriam Cedarbaum, who “believes that judges must transcend their personal sympathies and prejudices.”

“So I would just say to you, I believe in Judge Cedarbaum’s formulation,” Sessions told Sotomayor.

“My friend Judge Cedarbaum is here,” Sotomayor riposted, to Sessions’ apparent surprise. “We are good friends, and I believe that we both approach judging in the same way, which is looking at the facts of each individual case and applying the law to those facts.”

Cedarbaum agreed.

“I don’t believe for a minute that there are any differences in our approach to judging, and her personal predilections have no effect on her approach to judging,” she told Washington Wire. “We’d both like to see more women on the courts,” she added.

Open mouth, insert foot.


UPDATE:

Here’s some video:

Sonia Sotomayor: Live Blogging the Confirmation Hearings

Sonia Sotomayor

Your Breakfast News, Served By The Confluence

Confirming The Next SC Justice

Sotomayor opens by stressing fidelity to the law

US Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor introduced herself to the nation on Monday, presenting a compelling story of family struggle and a few words of explanation to her harshest critics.

Sotomayor: The Drinking Game

[C]rack open a beer and let the buzz words start flying, says Tom Goldstein, who has argued more than 20 Supreme Court cases and is founder and manager of SCOTUSblog.

‘Jane Roe’ Arrested at Supreme Court Hearing

Norma McCorvey, 61, of Texas, better known as “Jane Roe” in the famous Roe v. Wade case from January 1973, was arrested after she and another protester started yelling during the opening statement of Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.), according to Capitol Police. McCorvey, whose pursuit of the right to access to abortion in the early 1970s led to the ruling that has been a pivotal part of every Supreme Court nomination process since, eventually become a notable opponent of the procedure.

Why the Supreme Court Needs a “Critical Mass” of Women


Health-care Reform

Liberals brace for fight over scope of health legislation

On a broad array of contentious issues — from government’s role in providing insurance to the sizes of subsidies for lower-income Americans — the liberals who largely control the agenda in the House are holding fast to their principles.
[…]
The Democratic liberals face stiff challenges from moderates and conservatives in their own party, however, on the price of the legislation.

Q+A: U.S. healthcare overhaul proposals and goals

Pressure on Obama mounts over healthcare

The president has been a cheerleader for reform, but he’ll soon need to address specifics: how to pay for it, and whether government-run insurance should be involved.

Obama to Meet Baucus, Rangel to Discuss Health Care

Clive Crook sya it’s all good. Nothing to worry about
Two cheers for US health reform

After a frazzled week, the politics of US health reform looks messier than ever. Yet the odds on a bill passing in the end are improving. It will be an untidy thing, but if it moves the country close to universal health insurance the administration will call it a success.


Economy Watch

The Case for More Fiscal Stimulus (By Justin Wolfers)

The case for more stimulus is pretty simple: the economy is doing badly, and fiscal stimulus can help. And the risks are asymmetric. Doing too little risks both deflation and the possibility of doing lasting damage to the economy. Doing too much is both unlikely and unlikely to have as unduly severe consequences.

Goldman execs sold $700m of stock in Lehman aftermath

Executives at Goldman Sachs sold almost $700m worth of stock following the collapse of Lehman Brothers last September, according to filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Most of the sales occurred during the period in which the investment bank enjoyed the support of $10bn from the troubled asset relief programme.

U.S. mulling mortgage aid for unemployed

President Barack Obama is mulling new ways to delay foreclosure for jobless homeowners who are unable to keep up with monthly payments, an administration official said on Monday.

The Economy Is Even Worse Than You Think

The recent unemployment numbers have undermined confidence that we might be nearing the bottom of the recession. What we can see on the surface is disconcerting enough, but the inside numbers are just as bad.

Time to tackle the real evil: too much debt (By Nassim Nicholas Taleb and Mark Spitznagel)

With deficit topping $1 trillion, what does it all mean?

Shadow Banking: What It Is, How it Broke, and How to Fix It

I hope this Q&A with a very smart professor and economist at Barnard College Professor Perry Mehrling provides answers to each of those questions.


Palinpalooza: We simply can’t get enough

Sarah Palin Has Captured Our Imagination

Americans can’t get enough of Sarah Palin. It doesn’t matter which side of the Sarah Palin argument you’re on. Awe or apoplexy produces the same result: Give me more coverage of Sarah.

Republican pundits open fire on Sarah Palin

Palin has been a polarizing figure from the moment she stepped off the tundra into the bright lights last summer as John McCain’s surprise vice presidential running mate. Some of that hostility could be expected, given the hyper-partisanship of today’s politics.

What is remarkable is the contempt Palin has engendered within her own party and the fact that so many of her GOP detractors are willing, even eager, to express it publicly — even with Palin an early front-runner for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination.

Strong Grassroots Support For Palin’s SarahPAC

SarahPAC reported $733,000 in total receipts through June 30, of which $420,000 was “unitemized” or from donors who contributed $200 or less.


Around The Nation

Fla. suspects up to 8 involved in couple’s slaying

Cameras set up for child care saw chilling break-in

Down the Mississippi: Barack Obama effect ends white rule in Deep South town

A tiny Mississippi delta town has elected its first black mayor after the white incumbent, unopposed for 30 years, faced a young challenger inspired by President Barack Obama’s feat in winning the White House.

Alabama Physician Chosen as Surgeon General

An African-American, Dr. Benjamin is nationally known for establishing a rural health clinic in Bayou La Batre, Ala. — a small, medically underserved shrimping village along the Gulf Coast. Hurricana Katrina destroyed the clinic in 2005, and then when it was rebuilt, the clinic burned down on the eve of re-opening.

Surgeon General Once Paid in Oysters Pushed Health Care to All

After Hurricane Katrina, Regina Benjamin took only what her patients could afford to pay: bushels of oysters or lumps of Gulf Coast crab meat. Her Alabama health clinic was destroyed and still she helped, navigating through the mud in a pick-up truck to make house calls.

Somebody must be living in Cuckooville
Soldier balks at deploying; says Obama isn’t president

Says he shouldn’t have to go to Afghanistan because Obama is not a U.S. citizen


Middle Eastern Headaches

In Iraq, “mission accomplished”.
Iraq catches it from all sides

As Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki walks the tightrope between Sunnis and Shi’ites, the United States and Iran are breathing down his neck. Turkey, Syria and Iran, meanwhile, are not pleased at the revival of Kurdish ambitions in Kirkuk, while the Kurds in turn are alarmed by calls for a stronger central government in Baghdad

I was starting to miss these guys. Where would they go next, now that in Iraq, the “mission” has been “accomplished”.
U.S. hawks urge ‘sabotage’ against Iran

Some U.S. lawmakers are urging the Obama administration to do more to support Iranian opposition groups seeking the downfall of the hard-line clerical regime in Tehran.
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, a leading Republican hawk, even called Sunday for the United States to “sabotage” Iran’s oil and gas industry to trigger an economic crisis that would bring about regime change.

7 soldiers, linguist injured in N. Iraq

Seven American soldiers and a linguist traveling with them were wounded in a bomb blast as they walked out of a meeting with local government officials in northern Iraq

Obama to U.S. Jewish leaders: Israel must engage in self-reflection

Obama told the leaders that he wants to help Israel overcome its demographic problem by reaching an agreement on a two-state solution, but that in order to do so, Israel would need “to engage in serious self-reflection.”

Britain halts some arms exports to Israel in response to Gaza conflict

Britain became the first country to halt arms exports to Israel in response to its Gaza offensive, rescinding five export licences for parts used on warships which were deployed in the conflict.


Around The World

Germany lead opposition party to Obama: Stop meddling
Obama Predicts Merkel Victory in Coming Election

In an off-the-cuff remark caught on camera, US President Barack Obama told German Chancellor Angela Merkel she was bound to win the September election. The forecast has annoyed Germany’s Social Democrats.

You thought Uighur people were persecuted in China because of their religion? Think again. There may be other reasons.
Confused about the Xinjiang riots? Follow the money.

The unrest is less about Islam and more about economics.

Uighurs Lament their Lost Homeland

As it did in Tibet, the Chinese leadership is harshly cracking down on unrest in Xinjiang. The region’s Muslim Uighurs feel degraded and robbed of their culture while they suffer in their homeland under the dominance of the Han Chinese.

In exile, an Iranian ‘lion’ keeps fighting

The “Lion Woman’’ of Iran sits outside her 10th-floor office atop the main library at the University of Massachusetts-Boston campus, chafing with frustration as she talks of the turbulence shaking her homeland.

More troops lost to roadside bombs: a familiar pattern

The Taliban and other militants in Afghanistan are turning to a familiar tool to try to kill more Americans and allied troops: the roadside bomb.

Ultimatum issued on Honduras talks

Ousted President Manuel Zelaya warned yesterday that he would deem mediation talks over the country’s political crisis “failed’’ unless he is reinstated at the next meeting, which will probably be held this weekend.


From The Word Of Science

Who needs Oxycontin or anger management? There are much better ways to alleviate your pain.
Why the #$%! Do We Swear? For Pain Relief

Bad language could be good for you, a new study shows. For the first time, psychologists have found that swearing may serve an important function in relieving pain.

That’s it! No more extras for my cat. I suspected all along that he thought I was a sucker. Now I have the confirmation.
Cats ‘exploit’ humans by purring

Researchers at the University of Sussex have discovered that cats use a “soliciting purr” to overpower their owners and garner attention and food.
Unlike regular purring, this sound incorporates a “cry”, with a similar frequency to a human baby’s.

I knew it!

Maroon

head-up-ass

Where do they find these asshats?  From the Ledger-Enquirer:

U.S. Army Maj. Stefan Frederick Cook, set to deploy to Afghanistan, says he shouldn’t have to go.

His reason?

Barack Obama was never eligible to be president because he wasn’t born in the United States.

On the other hand, our nation is probably better off without this dipshit leading soldiers in a combat zone.

(comments closed – I’m not giving any birthers an engraved invitation to spew their insanity in here)