Tag Archives: executive action

Executive action on guns draws expected fire

gun over american flag

President Obama is considering some executive action he hopes will require gun dealers to go through increased background checks.

Does it mean that “law-abiding Americans” will be denied their right to “keep and bear arms” as provided by the Second Amendment to the Constitution.

Obama says “no.” Republican presidential candidates say “yes.”

Who do you believe? I guess that depends on your political party, your philosophical persuasion, your own bias.

Me? I’m willing to let the president give it a try.

I am going to take the usual — and expected — criticism from readers of this blog who believe as GOP contender Chris Christie said that Obama is acting like a “dictator.”

I disagree with that characterization. The president has a team of constitutional lawyers surrounding him who’ll likely advise him that he’s acting totally within the law in issuing the orders to require the checks.

Congress won’t do it. Heck, Congress wouldn’t even approve legislation that would have restricted people placed on no-fly lists from owning firearms. Does the president expect Congress to follow his lead on his effort to curb gun violence? Not a chance.

So he’ll do what he needs to do on his own.

Do I feel threatened? Are the feds going to knock on my door and take my guns away from me? No and no.

However, the president’s apparent move toward executive action has prompted the apoplectic response from the GOP presidential field.

But what the heck. That’s politics.


Speaker's future suddenly gets cloudy

It might be that a supposition put forward to me months ago by someone close to House Speaker John Boehner might be panning out.

Boehner might want to throw in the towel on his effort to be the Man of the House. He might just quit and go home.

The speaker got a swift kick in the face yesterday as House Republicans teamed up with Democrats to defeat a short-term funding bill for the Department of Homeland Security. Those TEA party Rs remain angry with President Obama over his immigration-related executive action — which granted temporary delay in deportation of 5 million illegal immigrants — so they want to defund the DHS to stick it in Obama’s ear.


Boehner sought to stave off a DHS shutdown. The measure failed, but then the House and Senate came up with a one-week funding plan. We’ll be back at this at the end of next week.

So … now the chatter has turned to whether Boehner could be tossed out by the raucous Republican rabble-rousers. Twenty-five GOP members voted against Boehner to be speaker when the new Congress convened. Others might join the anti-Boehner parade.

That source I mentioned who had said he thought Boehner might pack it in was speculating about whether the speaker could contain the rebel wing of his party. His thought this past fall was that Boehner would be re-elected as speaker, then he would resign from Congress and do something else — such as become a lobbyist or a K Street consultant.

I shudder at the thought of someone from that TEA party wing — and I’m thinking of East Texan Louie Gohmert, who actually sought the speakership against Boehner — taking control of the House gavel.

Given the wackiness that hasn’t gone away, absolutely nothing at all would surprise me.

Let’s all watch this one play out.


McConnell acts like a grownup on DHS bill

Well, glory be.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell actually is capable of acting like a governing grownup. Good for him.

He wants the Senate to pass a “clean” Department of Homeland Security funding measure, without trying to undo President Obama’s executive action on immigration. He’s now putting the screws on the House of Representatives, which might resist the Senate boss’s efforts to keep DHS functioning after Friday.


Without the funding bill, DHS will furlough 30,000 federal employees and will effectively shut down, putting the nation’s borders at risk of infiltration by undesirables — you know, drug smugglers and terrorists.

It’s not that McConnell wants to give Obama a pass on the immigration action. He said he’s willing to vote on defunding the executive action after voting on the DHS bill. Whatever.

The big story is that McConnell is willing to avoid shutting down a key national security agency over a partisan political fight.

National security — protecting the homeland, for instance — ought to be above partisanship. In this day and time, though, everything becomes a partisan battle. Everything!

Congress has shown a propensity for pulling rabbits out of its hat. The DHS funding issue has a lot of Americans — including me — worried about the level of gamesmanship both sides are willing to play, even if it involves protecting the nation.

Lawmakers have three whole days to get this thing done.

Do it, ladies and gentlemen.

GOP plays with fire over DHS funding

Congressional Republicans — and Democrats, for that matter — keep insisting that national security should be above partisan politics.

What, then, is going on with GOP threats to shut down the Department of Homeland Security because its congressional caucus is so upset with President Obama’s executive order on immigration?


Good bleeping grief, people! The Homeland Security department, as its very name says, is charged with protecting the United States against internal and external threats. The 9/11 terrorist onslaught produced the agency, correct?

Now, though, it’s becoming a political football, being kicked around Capitol Hill by congressional Republicans who just cannot get over the notion that the president acted within his constitutional authority to delay the deportation of several million undocumented immigrants.

They are threatening to sue Obama over his action. They want to repeal it. They are insisting that he acted unlawfully. Yet no one has produced a shred of evidence to suggest that the president acted outside of the authority granted him by federal statute and the Constitution of the United States of America.

DHS money is going to run out on Feb. 27 unless Congress approves money to pay for it.

The House of Representatives has approved money for DHS, but have added some amendments stripping the president’s executive action of its authorization. Senate Democrats object to the GOP amendments and have held up the appropriation, drawing criticism — quite naturally — from House Republicans. Speaker John Boehner said the GOP has done its job; now it’s up to Senate Democrats.

That’s all fine, except Senate Democrats object to GOP complaints about the executive actions on immigration, which were legal and constitutional.

Thus, the gamesmanship.

What in the world has happened to good government?


GOP gangs up on Ted Cruz … good deal!

Ted Cruz keeps trying to rouse the U.S. Senate rabbles with his obstructionism.

But now the freshman Texas Republican lawmaker is finding trouble in a most unlikely place: within his own GOP Senate caucus.


The fiery loudmouth wants to employ procedural trickery to delay the Senate Judiciary Committee vote on attorney general-designate Loretta Lynch’s nomination to take over the Justice Department. Why? Because he just cannot stand the fact that she supports the president’s executive actions on immigration reform. Who knew?

That she would endorse President Obama’s executive authority just isn’t possible, right?

Oh, wait! Lynch is Barack Obama’s choice to be attorney general. Gosh, do you think she’s on the same page as the president of the United States on this contentious issue?

None of that matters, of course, to the Cruz Missile.

He’s going to do whatever he can to disrupt, dismiss and just plain dis the president whenever possible.

Fellow Texas Republican Sen. John Cornyn also opposes Lynch’s nomination, but he doesn’t want to block her confirmation vote from proceeding. Indeed, Lynch already has gathered considerable Republican support for her nomination, including from serious conservatives such as Orrin Hatch of Utah, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Jeff Flake of Arizona.

Cruz should look at it this way, as well. Every day that Lynch is denied the nomination on the basis of some specious procedural chicanery is a day longer that Eric Holder remains as attorney general. After all, Senate Republicans are known to detest Holder more than they oppose Lynch.

Eric Holder did a good job as attorney general — and Loretta Lynch deserves confirmation and she needs to get to work.


Greg Abbott: plaintiff's lawyer in chief

It’s 31 lawsuits — and counting — for Greg Abbott, the Texas attorney general who’s about to become the state’s next governor.

Abbott has sued President Obama over the president’s recent executive order that protects about 5 million illegal immigrants from immediate deportation. He made good on his campaign promise to sue Obama over this issue.


I must pose some inquiries about this action.

First, how much are these lawsuits costing the state? It strikes me that Abbott — a self-proclaimed fiscally conservative Republican — is running up an incalculable legal tab as he challenges the president over immigration, health care reform and whatever else.

Second, as a Republican who has support tort reform efforts to rein in the cost of court settlements, he’s becoming one of those dreaded plaintiff’s lawyers Republican officeholders have loved to hate. We’ve all heard the mantra that Democrats are plaintiff-friendly, while Republicans look out for the interests of defendants in civil court proceedings. Texans seem to have sided with the GOP on that one, electing an all-Republican state Supreme Court, which rules fairly routinely in favor of business interests who’ve been sued by plaintiffs.

And third, does Abbott really have a case against the president or is he being pressured by the TEA party wing of the GOP to do something — dammit! — to stick it in Barack Obama’s ear? The Texas Tribune reports: “‘It’s ill advised. I don’t think he has standing. He gets the basic terminology wrong, and he protests too much when he says he’s not politicizing it, because all of it is simply about the politics of it,’ said Michael Olivas, an immigration lawyer and professor at the University of Houston. ‘He characterizes what the president did as an executive order — it is not an executive order. It’s executive action.'”

I didn’t used to consider Abbott to be a fiery conservative. I’ve long thought of him as a more thoughtful politician. He could be feeling the heat from the right wing of his party to carry through with his campaign pledge to sue the president one more time.

Well, he’s got 31 lawsuits in the can already. For my money, enough is enough.



So long, D.C. bipartisanship

Perhaps you’ve noticed during the time I’ve been writing this blog that I’ve called for more bipartisanship in Washington, D.C., and in Austin.

Well, my desire to see both parties working together for a change hasn’t changed, other than it might have been intensified. I was hopeful for a more bipartisan atmosphere in Washington after the mid-term election. The president said he wanted it. The new Republican majority leader said the same thing.

We can kiss it goodbye.

President Obama is going to issue an executive order today that will enrage his Republican “friends.” It will tinker a bit with immigration policy, deferring deportation for millions of illegal immigrants, as well as strengthen border security.

I think it’s a good plan, but the incorrect strategy. I wish he would wait. And no, the president is not plowing new ground with this action. He’s doing the same kind of thing on immigration that Republican presidents dating back to Gerald Ford have done.

Still, Obama is going to stick it right back in the eyes of Republican leaders in Congress. He said he’s “waited long enough” for Congress to act. Some in D.C. are talking about impeachment, which is a ridiculous notion on its face.

But the era of even pretending to want bipartisanship in Washington appears to be over.

It’s unclear what the outcome will be for the remainder of Barack Obama’s term as president. A friend of mine, an Australian journalist with a keen interest in American politics, mentioned to me in a recent email that he predicts a miserable and torturous slog toward the end of the Obama presidency. He believes — as I do — that Republicans are feeling emboldened now that they’ve taken control of the Senate and strengthened their grip on the House.

And the president’s response to that bold new opposition? Why, he’s digging in his heels and daring them to fight.

It need not end this way — but it surely will.


'Immigrant' gets clarification

The term “immigrant” became the subject of a brief tempest after I posted a blog entry that mentioned U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas.

I mentioned that Cruz opposes immigration reform and suggested there was a certain irony in his opposition, given that he immigrated to this country from Canada.


A friend of mine disagreed with that assertion. He said that Cruz was a U.S. citizen upon birth because his mother is an American. Federal law grants children of U.S. citizens automatic citizenship, so that meant little Teddy was an American the moment he entered this world. That instant citizenship means Cruz isn’t an immigrant, my friend said.

I disagree with my friend.

Thus, I looked up the word “immigrant” in my American Heritage Dictionary.

“Immigrant” is defined simply as “one who immigrates.”

Aha! So, I looked up “immigrate,” which the dictionary defines this way: “To enter and settle in a foreign country.”

Cruz was born in Canada. He and his family subsequently relocated to this country. Teddy grew up to be a smart fellow, went to law school, became a lawyer and now he’s a U.S. senator.

By my reading of the dictionary, that makes Ted Cruz an immigrant.

Why mention this at all? Well, immigration has returned to the front burner of the national discussion. President Obama is likely to issue an executive order that’s going to upset a lot of Republicans, including tea party members of Congress, such as the former immigrant Sen. Cruz. They’ll go apoplectic.

Yes, immigrants such as Cruz entered the country legally. The issue here is how to handle the illegal immigrants who’ve come here. Many in Congress want them deported. The president and his allies in Congress want to give them a chance to achieve legal status and eventually become U.S. citizens.

He’s already deported more illegal immigrants than any president in history. An executive order delaying deportations of about 5 million undocumented residents will constitute a change in policy at the White House.

I just find it curious that a one-time immigrant would feel so strongly that others seeking a better life in this country shouldn’t have a chance to make their dreams come true.




Ready for court fight, Mr. President?

The overheated and inflated response of congressional Republicans to President Obama’s vow to use executive authority to move issues forward would make you think the president is imposing some brand of imperial law on the country.

It’s not happening.


The sound had barely been turned off in the House of Representatives chamber after Obama’s State of the Union speech Tuesday night before we heard GOP lawmakers proclaiming the president was overstepping his constitutional authority, was trying to crown himself King Barack the First or seeking to render Congress totally irrelevant.

Give … me … a … bleeping … break.

Barack Obama’s use of executive orders is but a fraction of its use by many of his predecessors. He’s acted in such a manner less frequently than President George W. Bush or Ronald Reagan, two heroes of the GOP right/far-right wing.

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., believes Obama is abusing “the intent of the Constitution.” Really? What precisely is that intent, senator? He doesn’t offer specifics, other than to rattle his sword and bluster about taking the Obama administration to court.

Let’s quit hyperventilating here. President Obama’s legal team is fully aware of the constraints placed on him by the Constitution. He cannot write law. He cannot raises taxes. He cannot increase the minimum wage for every American — but he can, and did, raise the minimum wage for some Americans, such as federal government contract employees. This is small stuff, ladies and gentlemen of the GOP.

Let’s lose the righteous indignation and take Barack Obama up on another pledge he made at the State of the Union: let’s work together.