As a Republican member of Congress whose mixed-in-every-way Colorado district includes Aurora, suburbs of Denver, and a large Air Force Base, Mike Coffman has long argued that the nation must make cuts in the Defense Department budget.
This week, Coffman will propose legislation to cut $500 billion from defense spending over the next decade through a range of 15 measures that include reducing programs “which do not contribute significantly to military capability,” using local civilian contractors instead of military personnel for “commercial-type activities at military bases,” lowering bureaucratic head count through attrition, and reducing the number of U.S. troops stationed in Europe.
This man is no RINO, and no naïf on defense issues. In addition to having an American Conservative Union ranking of 95 in his four years in Congress and serving on the House Armed Services Committee, Coffman has served in both the U.S. Army and the Marine Corps (in active duty and reserve capacities in each).
He volunteered to join the Army when he was 17 years old. And in more recent years Coffman voluntarily gave up safe, comfortable jobs in Colorado government, both while serving as a legislator and later as State Treasurer, to serve in combat in Kuwait and later helping to establish local governments in Iraq.
Today, Rep. Coffman believes — or at least hopes — that the sequester gives him “leverage to try to get these reforms done.” He doesn’t have illusions that his reforms will pass in the roughly 100 hours before the sequester hits, but rather that over coming months he will be able to pass, whether as amendments or stand-alone legislation, changes that replace across-the-board cuts with specific cuts aimed to save nearly as much money.
Please read the entirety of my article for the American Spectator here:
Colorado, the site of the Columbine and Aurora mass shootings, is now ground zero in the national debate over “gun control.” Last Friday, the State House of Representatives — controlled by Democrats after yet another dismal election showing by the GOP here — passed four bills restricting gun rights. They will soon go to the State Senate, where passage is likely given the Democrat majority in that chamber, and then on to Governor John “Really, I’m a Moderate” Hickenlooper (above), who has already said he will sign at least three of them.
Colorado Democrats have avoided the “assault weapon” debate and are focusing on ways more likely to fool average citizens into feeling good about “doing something.” Unfortunately, what they are doing will harm both liberty and safety for most Coloradoans.
The debate in the Centennial State is garnering national attention, with Vice President Joe Biden calling four perceived Democratic moderates (three freshmen and the Speaker of the House) to encourage them to vote for the measures. One Democrat who received a call said that “[Biden] just said he’s watching us and asked if we had a chance to move these bills forward and said what an important signal it would send to the country if we do.” I imagine that the “watching” part sounded very much like a threat, given the schoolyard bully nature of this administration. After all, this is a president who said to a Democratic member of Congress “Don’t think we’re not keeping score, brother.”
The four measures, which passed out of committee on party-line votes and then passed the House with unanimous Republicans (and a few, but not enough, courageous Democrats) in opposition, include:
Please read the rest of my article for the American Spectator here:
A little irony: Last night, while much of America was watching Barack Obama spew his usual statist drivel, I was at the Pepsi Center watching The Who in concert, hearing Roger Daltry sing "Won't Get Fooled Again."
A little stupidity: I ordered some Valentines Day flowers from the web site of 1-800-Flowers. Today I got a message from UPS that the flowers were damaged in transit. (I was going to have them delivered today so they'd be at my house in the morning.) I wanted to call the people I ordered from to discuss options, so I did a Google search for "1800 flowers" to find their phone number. (As if that's not dumb enough, the Google search result was not 1-800-FLOWERS. But at least I was smart enough to dial that anyway.)
It is rarely a productive exercise to accuse Democratic politicians of hypocrisy. After all, they so rarely campaign on principles that there is seldom an opportunity to notice when they violate the few principles they claim to hold dear. The hypocrisy-laden debates over the nomination of Chuck Hagel thus offer a unusual opportunity.
What pass for Democratic principles, but which in fact are just rationalizations of desired outcomes regarding the transfer of power and wealth, include, in domestic policy, that the rich get rich by making other people poor and, in foreign policy, that the U.S. is just one nation among many and therefore not exceptional.
A principle-free case in point: Democrat politicians, including particularly President Obama, are attempting (again) to destroy the educational opportunities of America’s poorest and poorest-served children in order to please teachers unions – perhaps the single most corrosive force attacking America’s youth and our nation’s ability to compete in the future of a global economy. I wonder what “principle” this travesty stems from. (John Boehner forced the reinstatement of the DC Opportunity Scholarship Program in 2011 after Obama and his fellow Illinoisan, Dick Durbin, had torpedoed it two years earlier, but Obama has taken aim again. And why not, since voters in Washington, D.C. cast 91 percent of their ballots for him?)
What tax-raising, UN-loving, union boot-licking congressional Democrat could easily be called a hypocrite when their few core beliefs are little more than the statist, irrational detritus of the educational system they themselves have devastated?
Please read the entirety of my article for the American Spectator here:
The Leadership Program of the Rockies Annual Retreat, which I’ll be attending for the 8th year in a row in late February at the Broadmoor Hotel in Colorado Springs, is always one of the highlights of my year. Full of lovers of liberty, and packed full of some of the most interesting speakers you’ll ever hear (if you’re interested in politics, and especially if you have a conservative/libertarian pro-free market viewpoint), this year’s event promises to be another great one. And the hotel is so fantastic, that even non-political spouses love the event.
The keynote speaker for the Friday night dinner will be Fox News reporter and libertarian champion John Stossel. Other great speakers (see regularly-updated list here) will include Bill Whittle, Mia Love, Yaron Brook, and -- the person I'm most looking forward to hearing -- DC Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Janice Rogers Brown, whom I've written about several times as one of the best (most principled) judges in America. If the Saturday lunch speaker is who I think it is, that will be fantastic, too, but I don't have official confirmation yet, so I won't say who I think it is.
Click here or on the picture below to open the printable PDF file with information about Retreat attendance, or learn more and register online here. The sooner you book, the better your chances of getting one of the block of discounted rooms.
The 2011 retreat, one of the best so far, featured Charles Krauthammer as the dinner’s keynote speaker, along with a raft of other great people addressing the crowd on politics, economics, and foreign policy.
You can see highlights of the 2011 Retreat here:
This year’s Retreat will be held on Friday and Saturday, February 22nd and 23rd, at the Broadmoor Hotel in Colorado Springs, and LPR has an incredible discounted room rate available for Retreat attendees. Just ask for the Leadership Program rate when you call hotel reservations at (866) 837-9520.
It’s likely that this year’s event will be sold out, so please book soon.
As always, there will be a VIP reception – at which you’ll be able to say hello to John Stossel and other speakers and have your photo taken with Stossel – available to those who purchase a package which includes it. The number of attendees permitted at the VIP reception is limited in order to maintain a true “VIP” feeling about that part of the event.
I hope to see you at this great event. You’ll be telling your friends for months afterwards how much fun you had, how much you learned, and how many interesting people you met. So again, please visit the LPR Retreat web page to get more information and register!
The Obama administration released a photo of President Obama shooting skeet, although you can't actually see what he's shooting at.
They added a rather amusing warning to the photo release:
This official White House photograph is being made available only for publication by news organizations and/or for personal use printing by the subject(s) of the photograph. The photograph may not be manipulated in any way and may not be used in commercial or political materials, advertisements, emails, products, promotions that in any way suggests approval or endorsement of the President, the First Family, or the White House.
So in the spirit of civil disobedience, here are four pictures of Obama shooting his shotgun, the first being the official one released by the White House, the second (I am told) comes from a contest at Michelle Malkin's web site, and the last two done by a friend of mine.
It has recently become fashionable in conservative circles to attack Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) and the bipartisan “Gang of Eight” for putting forward a framework of principles for reform of America’s broken immigration system. The critiques from serious thinkers such as Utah Senator Mike Lee (perhaps my single favorite member of the U.S. Senate) and my American Spectator colleague Larry Thornberry, usually revolve around the word “amnesty” and suggest that Sen. Rubio is somehow caving in to leftist ideas in the way we normally expect from RINO and “establishment” Republicans, not from Tea Party champions.
These criticisms, both of the framework and of Senator Rubio, are misguided. They represent — but not for the reasons most people think — a primary cause of President Obama’s winning a second term and the primary reason that the GOP will have little chance at better future results unless the party — and the perception of the party — change dramatically.
The importance of the immigration debate is not mostly about its impact on several million Spanish-speaking illegal aliens (a term I don’t shy away from using). It is not even mostly about the economic impacts of immigration (a debate for another day). Instead, it is about how an ever-increasing number of voters view the Republican Party even if they have little interest in the details of immigration policy.
Please read the entirety of my article for the American Spectator here:
but only Bloomberg's guys have guns...
I'll be guest-hosting for Mike Rosen on Denver's 850 KOA from 9 AM to noon (Mountain time, 11 AM to 2 PM Eastern time) on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, January 28-30.
If you can't listen over the air, you can listen online at http://www.850koa.com
Please listen in, and you can join the conversation by calling 303.713.8585
In the first bit of good news for those opposing the ever more tyrannical Obama administration, a 3-judge panel of the DC Circuit Court of Appeals has overturned a ruling of the National Labor Relations Board on the basis that President Obama's appointment of three members was unconstitutional. In particular, Obama claimed them as recess appointments when the Senate was not in recess.
It is heartening to read an opinion in which judges actually refer to the text of the Constitution and the intent of the Founders, even quoting the Federalist Papers in their analysis.
The judges note that there were no intrasession "recess" appointments made until 1867 (and maybe not even that one was an intrasession appointment), and a total of only three (including that one) over the ensuing 80 years. From the opinion: "we conclude that the infrequency of intrasession recess appointments during the first 150 years of the Republic suggests an assumed absence of [the] power” to make such appointments."
The Obama administration argued that they should be able to determine when, in their opinion, the Senate is in recess. The judges would have none of it:
An interpretation of “the Recess” that permits the President to decide when the Senate is in recess would demolish the checks and balances inherent in the advice-and-consent requirement, giving the President free rein to appoint his desired nominees at any time he pleases, whether that time be a weekend, lunch, or even when the Senate is in session and he is merely displeased with its inaction. This cannot be the law. The intersession interpretation of “the Recess” is the only one faithful to the Constitution’s text, structure, and history.
While the court's ruling that the Senate was not in recess, and therefore that recess appointment is not possible, is enough to overturn the NLRB's ruling in this and all cases decided by the NLRB with the same Board makeup, the judges went on to a ruling which has potentially much greater implications for future administrations and politics:
They ruled that the Constitution's provisions on recess appointments only allow appointments during a (true) recess for vacancies which happen (i.e. come into existence, not just happen to exist from a prior time) during a recess. In other words, the DC Circuit has ruled that if a vacancy occurs while the Senate is not in recess, then that vacancy cannot be filled by a recess appointment.
The NLRB argues (indeed almost any administration of either political party would argue) that this interpretation could lead to inefficiencies caused by extended vacancies in certain offices. The court said that may be true, but that Congress could do something about that if they wanted to. And most importantly, it's a more than reasonable price to pay for a true system of checks and balances and for the rule of law based on our Constitution:
The power of a written constitution lies in its words. It is those words that were adopted by the people. When those words speak clearly, it is not up to us to depart from their meaning in favor of our own concept of efficiency, convenience, or facilitation of the functions of government. In light of the extensive evidence that the original public meaning of “happen” was “arise,” we hold that the President may only make recess appointments to fill vacancies that arise during the recess.
This ruling should mean that no ruling of the (utterly corrupt, and stacked with union hacks) NLRB since those faux-recess appointments is valid, and that the NLRB remains unable to act until at least three of its five members are lawfully confirmed by the Senate.
But more than that, it severely restricts the ability of presidents to fill vacancies during even true recesses. If a vacancy for a position which normally requires "advice and consent" of the Senate did not occur during a Senate recess, it may not be filled as a recess appointment.
But wait, there's more:
Consistent with the structure of the Appointments Clause and the Recess Appointments Clause exception to it, the filling up of a vacancy that happens during a recess must be done during the same recess in which the vacancy arose. There is no reason the Framers would have permitted the President to wait until some future intersession recess to make a recess appointment, for the Senate would have been sitting in session during the intervening period and available to consider nominations.
Wow. Not only can a president only use a recess appointment to fill a vacancy that first occured while the Senate was in recess, but he must make that recess appointment during the same recess. Barack Obama's life (and future presidents' as well) just got a little harder. And that's a good thing.
Of course, what we'll see now is collaboration among members of a political party, especially if that party controls both the Senate and the White House, along with those office holders who are considering stepping down. If the politicians believe the replacement is too controversial or would for any other reason not be approved by the Senate, they will try to get the retiring office holder to step down during a true recess, or try to define as a true recess something which was not the Founders' intent, so they can then fill the office during the now much narrower window.
I would think it very likely that this ruling will be appealed to the Supreme Court by the Obama Administration, not least because the DC Circuit expressly notes that it disagrees with a ruling on a smilar issue by the 11th Circuit in 2004. I'd bet that enough of the leftist judges will want to hear it that the case will be granted cert unless it is clear to the Justices that the DC Circuit ruling will be upheld. I just hope they get this one right if it gets to the Supremes. Separate from partisan issues, Americans should be very wary of an overpowerful Executive Branch, and very grateful for judges who believe in searching for the true, original intent of the meaning of the Constitution's words.
For those who enjoy reading such things (as I do), the following section of the opinion is worth quoting extensively as an example of "originalist" judicial reasoning which is all too infrequent, and tremendously welcome:
At the time of the Constitution, intersession recesses
were regularly six to nine months, Michael B. Rappaport, The
Original Meaning of the Recess Appointments Clause, 52 UCLA 23
L. Rev. 1487, 1498 (2005), and senators did not have the luxury
of catching the next flight to Washington. To avoid government
paralysis in those long periods when senators were unable to
provide advice and consent, the Framers established the
“auxiliary” method of recess appointments. But they put strict
limits on this method, requiring that the relevant vacancies
happen during “the Recess.” It would have made little sense to
extend this “auxiliary” method to any intrasession break, for the
“auxiliary” ability to make recess appointments could easily
swallow the “general” route of advice and consent. The
President could simply wait until the Senate took an intrasession
break to make appointments, and thus “advice and consent”
would hardly restrain his appointment choices at all.
To adopt the Board’s proffered intrasession interpretation
of “the Recess” would wholly defeat the purpose of the Framers
in the careful separation of powers structure reflected in the
Appointments Clause. As the Supreme Court observed in
Freytag v. Commissioner of Internal Revenue, “The
manipulation of official appointments had long been one of the
American revolutionary generation’s greatest grievances against
executive power, because the power of appointment to offices
was deemed the most insidious and powerful weapon of
eighteenth century despotism.” 501 U.S. 868, 883 (1991)
(internal quotation marks and citation omitted). In short, the
Constitution’s appointments structure — the general method of
advice and consent modified only by a limited recess
appointments power when the Senate simply cannot provide
advice and consent — makes clear that the Framers used “the
Recess” to refer only to the recess between sessions.