Archive for the ‘Congress’ Category

3branchesBelow is my column in the Sunday Washington Post on separation of powers — authored with United States Senator Ron Johnson (R, Wis.). As the piece states, Johnson and I come from sharply different political perspectives, though the most surprising aspect of this collaboration is that he is a Packers fan and I am a Bears fan. We decided to write a piece together to try to seek a nonpartisan response to the rapidly expanding executive power in our system — and the corresponding decline of legislative power. We have been discussing this worrisome shift within our system and the lack of any collective institutional identity, let alone action, from members. We thought, if we could show the common ground in these concerns, it might encourage other members to reach across the aisle in the interests of their institution.

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By Mark Esposito, Weekend Guy

abuAhmed Abu Khatallah’s boat docked yesterday and the reputed Benghazi attacks mastermind was met with a contingent of U.S. Marshals, Navy security and a phalanx of Justice Department types all eager to hear his gilded version of events and to usher him to a US federal courtroom near the White House where the processes of the US justice system could start slowly grinding now in earnest. He pled not guilty for anyone interested. Before his arrival, however, a cacophony of Republican lawmakers decided to weigh in on his treatment aboard the trans-Atlantic cruise ship, the USS New York, provided by the Navy.

As many know, Abu Khatallah was captured in a clandestine operation conducted by US special ops aided by shadowy figures from both inside and out of the Libyan power structure who lured him to a villa where US forces made the arrest. Abu Khattallah, designated by the State Department as a global terrorist, was regarded as a prime suspect due to his affiliation with a group he helped to found and known as the Ansar al-Sharia. A fundamentalist militia group that rose to power after the fall of Gaddafi, it has claimed responsibility for the attack against the U.S. Embassy and American school in Tunis, leading the Tunisian government to declare it a terrorist organization. The group has been implicated in attacks against Tunisian security forces, assassinations of Tunisian political figures, and attempted suicide bombings of locations that tourists frequent. Not exactly the kind of guys you bring home to dinner.

Abu Khatallah’s capture was coup for an administration looking to change the dialog on the Benghazi attack which left four Americans dead including US ambassador J. Christopher Stevens. Criticized for everything from the response (or lack thereof) to the attack by US security forces as well as even the characterization of  the attack itself, the administration has been attempting to change the narrative since 2012. In his new book, Blood Feud, excerpted by the New York Post, author Edward Klein claims President Obama pressured then Sect’y of State Hillary Clinton to issue a release stating the attack was a spontaneous uprising relating to an obscure internet video criticizing Islam.  Knowing the attack coincided with the anniversary of the 2001 attacks on US soil, Clinton bristled.  According to Klein, Clinton said, “Mr. President, that story isn’t credible. Among other things, it ignores the fact that the attack occurred on 9/11.” But the president was adamant. He said, ‘Hillary, I need you to put out a State Department release as soon as possible.” (more…)

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Rep. Frank Lucas of Oklahoma

Rep. Frank Lucas of Oklahoma

Submitted by Elaine Magliaro, Weekend Contributor

Frank Dean Lucas, a Republican, is the U.S. Representative for Oklahoma’s 3rd congressional district. Prior to representing the 3rd district, he served the 6th district from 1994 to 2003. Lucas currently chairs the House Committee on Agriculture. He also serves on the House Committee on Financial Services and the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology. Last Tuesday, Rep. Lucas won his Republican primary easily—garnering more than 80% of the vote. His primary opponent Timothy Ray Murray—who received only 5.2% of the vote—is planning to contest the election. Murray’s reason for contesting the election: He claims that Lucas was executed three years ago by the World Court and that the Congressman has been replaced by a body double. Murray even suggested on his campaign website that the “Frank Lucas” who bested him in the primary might be an artificial look alike or a man-made replacement.

In a press release posted on his website, Murray wrote, “The election for U.S. House for Oklahoma’s 3rd District will be contested by the Candidate, Timothy Ray Murray. I will be stating that his votes are switched with Rep. Lucas votes, because it is widely known Rep. Frank D. Lucas is no longer alive and has been displayed by a look alike.”

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By Charlton Stanley, Weekend Contributor

Mark Mayfield Jackson Attorney Photo by Jackson, MS police department

Mark Mayfield
Jackson Attorney
Photo by Jackson, MS police department

As I write this, the news is still coming in, and the full story is far from being told. I will provide breaking news as I hear it, but our intrepid bloggers should consider the comments an Open Thread. If you have solid news to report, please do so, and source the information. Otherwise it is just gossip.

It should come as no surprise to anyone that conspiracy theorists are breaking out the tinfoil hats.

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module_img_1 It is with a great sense of relief and thankfulness that I can now report that all charges have been dropped against my client Dr. Sami Al-Arian. Minutes ago, United States District Judge Anthony J. Trenga signed the order dismissing the indictment against Dr. Al-Arian. The case was before Judge Leonie M. Brinkema, but it was Judge Trenga who signed the order on Friday afternoon.

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FSA_FighterPresident_Barack_ObamaAs both Iraq and Afghanistan meltdown after spending $4 trillion and losing thousands of lives, the Obama Administration wants to pour $500 million into training and equipping the Syrian rebels. Ignore the fact that the Syrian rebels have been accused of human rights violations and atrocities (as has the regime). The government insists that U.S. weapons and money will go to the “right” forces — just ignore all those pictures of ISIS rebels driving around with U.S. equipment in Iraq.
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Supreme CourtPresident_Barack_ObamaThe Supreme Court has ruled in Noel Canning v. NLRB, No. 12-1115, and found that President Obama had indeed violated the constitution in his recess appointment. The decision was unanimous. I will be discussing this and the abortion case ruling at 1pm with Wolf Blitzer on CNN.

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Supreme CourtIn a major (and increasingly rare) victory for privacy, the Supreme Court voted unanimously to require a warrant for police to search cellphones of arrested individuals. Chief Justice Roberts issued a consolidated opinion in two cases: Riley v. California, No. 13-132, and United States v. Wurie, No. 13-212. The second case is another loss for the Obama Administration which fought to strip citizens of privacy over their cellphone records — a consistent attack on privacy by this Administration. The Supreme Court also issued a major ruling in favor of cable companies in American Broadcasting Companies, Inc. v. Aereo, Inc., a decision that may not sit well with the many citizens who despise these companies. I will be discussing these decision on CNN with Wolf Blitzer today.

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scalia220px-AlfedPalmersmokestacksAssociate Justice Antonin Scalia eked out a victory against the Environmental Protection Agency in a 5-4 opinion today limiting the EPA’s ability to regulate greenhouse gases. However, the decision however does not prevent the EPA from using other means to regulate the pollutants linked to global warming. Specifically the vote means that the Clean Air Act does not allow for the EPA require a point source to obtain a PSD or Title 5 permit. The vote was a straight ideological division with Justice Anthony Kennedy joining his conservative colleagues in the majority. The majority held that “A brief review of the relevant statutory provisions leaves no doubt that the PSD program and Title V are designed to apply to, and cannot rationally be extended beyond, a relative handful of large sources capable of shouldering heavy substantive and procedural burdens.” Utility Air Regulatory Group v. Environmental Protection Agency is the lead case of six cases on the regulation of greenhouse gases.

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350px-Washington_Redskins_logo.svguspto-logoBelow is my column in the Sunday Washington Post on the stripping of the trademark protection from the Washington Redskins. The decision effectively negates a decision in 2003 by the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board that barred a challenge to the Redskins name on the basis that such a challenge had to have been made soon after the Redskins registered their nickname in 1967. In 1999, another court issued a similar ruling. This use of the trademark laws creates a dangerous slippery slope as the agency identifies names that it considers disrespectful. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi celebrated the decision as sanctioning “disparaging or offensive names” and added “[w]hile we respect the right to free speech, slurs have no right to trademark protections.” But what of other “slurs” that reference ethnicity like the Atlanta Braves or the combative Kansas City Chieftains. There is also the cartoonist grinning Chief Wahoo of the Cleveland Indians. These teams have critics who say that the names and images are offensive. What is the objective line to distinguish such teams? The column focuses on the highly ambiguous standard in the federal law that would seem to make a vast array of marks as potentially violative and unprotected.
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170px-MDA_interceptor_on_launch_pad_ift107

Respectfully submitted by Lawrence E. Rafferty (rafflaw) Weekend Contributor

Forty Billion Dollars is a heck of a lot of money.  It seems like an even larger number when you realize that just one defense program spent that large sum, and it has arguably been a disaster.  I am talking about the highly political missile defense system program.  You have probably heard about that program.  It is supposed to stop any wild-eyed dictators from successfully sending any ICBM’s into our air space.  It may just be an amazingly expensive pipe dream! (more…)

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President_Barack_Obama220px-B-2_spirit_bombingWe have been discussing the growing concerns over President Barack Obama’s series of unilateral actions in ordering agencies not to enforce law, effectively rewriting laws, and moving hundreds of millions of dollars from appropriated purposes to areas of his choosing. One of the greatest concerns has been his unchecked authority asserted in the national security area. I previously represented members of Congress in challenging Obama’s intervention in the Libyan civil war without a declaration from Congress. In the case, President Obama insisted that he alone determines what is a war and therefore when he needs a declaration. Since the court would not recognize standing to challenge the war, it left Obama free to engage in war operations in any country of his choosing. As with his approach in Libya, Syria and other combat operations, President Obama declared this week that he does not need any approval or even consultation with Congress if he decides to commit us again to war again in Iraq.
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supreme court220px-Clarence_ThomasThe Supreme Court has handed down a unanimous decision in Susan B. Anthony List v. Driehaus. This is an important case for the free speech community. It involved poorly written Ohio laws that SBA prohibit the use of false statements in campaign advertisements. It allows politicians to harass public interest groups and force them into costly administrative litigation. The case was brought by the pro-life organization, the Susan B. Anthony List (“SBA List”). Associate Justice Clarence Thomas wrote the opinion for the Court in finding that SBA had sufficient injury to bring the challenge, another victory this term for standing this term after years of disastrous rollbacks by the Court that have barred groups from the courts. The SBA case was one of those considered by my Supreme Court class and once again the class got the prediction right and also mirrored the Court on the merits. We voted 8-2 to reverse the Sixth Circuit. We then voted 9-1 in predicting a reversal.

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225px-Hillary_Clinton_official_Secretary_of_State_portrait_crop200px-Terry_GrossWe have been discussing the disconnect between the parties and the voters this year. The voters have made clear that they (1) detest the ruling elite and (2) want real change. The two parties controlling our duopoly have thus far responded with the Democrats virtually pre-nominating Hillary Clinton (with Joe Biden as a contender and the Republican leaders pushing for Jeb Bush. The process of reinvention has begun. Clinton has been a fascinating case study. Recently, she came out and said that her Iraq War vote was a “mistake” but that she has learned the truth over the years (despite refusing to listen to many who opposed the war at the time). Now, she is claiming the same gradual realization that gays and lesbians deserve equal rights in marriage. Usually in Washington media, politicians are allowed to make a spin, refuse to answer a question, that the media simply meekly fades away. As shown in the video below, however, this time Clinton was facing NPR icon Terry Gross who persisted in trying to unravel what she viewed as spin. While unfailingly polite, Gross kept returning to question of why Clinton for so many years did not support same-sex marriage. Eventually, Hillary expressed discomfort if not anger at the continued questioning. Putting aside the merits, most of us were shocked for another reason. There was a reporter who actually refused to let a politician duck and spin in an interview. It was like seeing a Phoenix rise in Washington journalism.

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By Mark Esposito, Weekend Guy

130227203059-supreme-justices-horizontal-galleryCarol Anne Bond was overjoyed to learn that her best friend, Myrlinda Haynes, had become pregnant. That joy was short-lived when she learned that the father was none other than her husband,Clifford Bond. The Philadelphia woman embarked on a course of revenge that would result in federal charges for deploying chemical weapons and a trip to the United States Supreme Court. Passed in 1998,  the Chemical Weapons Convention Implementation Act, enabled Congress to enforce the terms of an  international treaty banning deployment of some chemical weapons. Taking advantage of that law, federal prosecutors charged Bond with obtaining two chemicals which together or separately could have killed her pregnant rival.

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