Archive for the ‘United States Congress’ Category

From HotAir:

Last month I seemed to anger some of my regular correspondents when I asked why IRS worker Lois Lerner was able to employ the 5th Amendment in the way she had. I was bothered by the way she seemed to be benefiting from the “best of both worlds” in terms of dancing around the law while apparently flaunting the national interests her job would require her to support. I suppose the lawyers in the crowd have made their case well enough for now, but rather than dragging her into court, how about if we just fire her? That could be the result if a new proposed rule is put in place.

Alabama Republican Rep. Mo Brooks has sponsored legislation that would make refusing to testify in front of Congress a firable offense for federal workers, The Hill reported Thursday

The legislation is nicknamed the “Lerner” bill, after Director of IRS Exempt Organizations Lois Lerner, who plead the Fifth Amendment in front of a House committee on May 22 about her role in the IRS’s targeting of tax-exempt tea party groups.

A tool for termination already exists.  It’s called “lack of candor“.

The short version is that if you don’t answer questions about your own work duties and if you aren’t forthcoming about your own work, you get fired.  The government can’t afford to have someone who will withhold information and is untrustworthy.

Well, Obama’s IRS and EPA and DOJ and ATF can, but in most of the government, it’s still supposed to be treated as a bad thing.

A description and example from Tully Legal:

Appellate courts also take a hard-line stance with respect to lack of candor charges. As the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit explained in its 2001 ruling in Ludlum v. Dept. of Justice, lack of candor involves an employee’s “failure to disclose something that, in the circumstances, should have been disclosed in order to make the given statement accurate and complete.”

This charge should not be confused with falsification, which involves an “affirmative misrepresentation” and intent to deceive.

In Ludlum, the Federal Circuit affirmed an MSPB decision that upheld a lack of candor charge against an FBI special agent who was not completely forthcoming about how frequently he used his work vehicle to pick up his daughter from daycare. The case represents an all too common situation whereby federal employees engage in lack of candor when attempting to explain (or not explain) work-related situations tangential to their performance objectives in the workplace.

In the case of Lerner, she’s not answering a question directly related to her job from Congress.  If Joe the FBI Agent or Jose the USBP Agent or Jane the SSA Investigator did that, they’d have OIG on them in a heartbeat and be on their way out the door.  There’s no reason this law is necessary – the problem is the IRS again isn’t doing their job.  Whoever her superiors are should be crushing her right now, but they aren’t, because they’re just as corrupt and in agreement with targeting the Tea Party as a financial-warfare wing of the Democrat party.

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There’s also a special warning given for when federal employees are targeted and are obligated to speak due to their job, but still protected by the 5th Amendment.  It’s called Kalkines rights.

The Kalkines warning is an advisement of rights usually administered by United States federal government agents to federal employees and contractors in internal investigations. The Kalkines warning compels subjects to make statements or face disciplinary action up to and including dismissal, but also provides suspects with criminal immunity for their statements. It was promulgated by the U.S. Court of Federal Claims in Kalkines v. United States.[1] In that case, a federal employee was fired for not cooperating with an internal investigation. The Court of Claims found that the employee had not been sufficiently advised of his immunity to criminal prosecution, nor sufficiently warned that he would be fired if he refused to cooperate.

As a federal employee, a worker can be threatened with termination and might worry more about their job than jail.  The fedgov can and will lean on someone’s job if they suspect them of criminal activity, but Kalkines lets them know they don’t have to give up their 5th Amendment rights even though their job is being threatened.

It’s an important distinction to note that one can be both administratively looked at and criminally looked at; and makes the point so the employee knows where they stand.  It’s a rock and a hard place, but something they have to balance out.

When Lerner took the Fifth, she announced she wasn’t going to answer what happened at work, and violated her job.  She demonstrated lack of candor.  She can be fired right there for not doing her job.  Then she can plead the Fifth as a private citizen all she likes to avoid criminal prosecution.

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It’s no different than if she worked at McDonalds and was asked to explain why she got caught pissing in the soft drink machine.  Her boss can fire her right there, and she can plead the Fifth to the health inspector and the police about her attempts to poison the public.  If she works at a big police station as a concessionaire and pisses in the cafeteria soft drink machine, she doesn’t get to plead the Fifth and just keep pissing in the Coke.

Video from House Oversight and Reform Committee, (via Jawa Report):

And the big exchange with Rep. Trey Gowdy and IRS Official Lois Lerner and her refusal to testify… after she testified with her own statement:

HotAir has a whole lot of conjecture and speculation on where Lerner’s decisions will lead.

http://www.c-span.org/Live-Video/C-SPAN3/

Goes for a few hours yet.

If you have the time, much like the Fast and Furious hearings, it’s worth watching.  It’s fascinating to see exactly what happens and is discovered versus what the media will report afterwards.

Reading the first few paragraphs of this Bloomberg article really begins to give a feel for what the Obama administration is:

When President Barack Obama delivers his State of the Union address on Tuesday night, the biggest question he’ll face will be how to get an ambitious second-term agenda through a divided Congress.

The answer: Go around it.

On climate change, gun control, gay rights, and even immigration, the White House has signaled a willingness to circumvent lawmakers through the use of presidential power. Already, plans are being laid to unleash new executive orders, regulations, signing statements and memorandums designed to push Obama’s programs forward and cement his legacy, according to administration aides and allies.

“The big things that we need to get done, we can’t wait on,” said White House senior adviser Dan Pfeiffer. “If we can take action, we will take action.”

Congress is unpopular because there’s no face to congress other than that of the whiny weakling John Boehner.  The right hates congress because they’re constantly surrendering, and the left hates congress because the right in congress isn’t surrendering enough.  The low information voter just hears complaints about congress and believes it, rather than looking at their own representative.

There is no congressional media office out trying to paint a picture of congress as a benevolent deliberative body in the same way that Obama has his numerous official and unofficial propaganda wings.  Half the country that supports Obama’s agenda (until they find themselves targeted) represents a great amount of support.  Half the country that supports their half of congress doesn’t support the other half of congress, so popularity remains low.

And in this void, with the elected representatives of the people both hated and demonized, comes that powerful figure to simply work around them.  Checks and balances exist for a reason, and working around those checks and balances – imposed by free people who vote for their representatives to represent them – is someone who will simply make things happen.  There is a certain allure to a “man of action” who will make decisions while others deliberate – it’s those exciting, dynamic “men of action” who seize power that make for compelling stories.  A president who merely presides and works to uphold the rule of law and execute the orders issued by the citizens through congress isn’t as fascinating as a heroic figure who goes it alone and tells off the yammering talkers.

But in governmental context, that’s a dictator.

From the NY Post:

New Yorkers of all income levels got a rude awakening yesterday when they saw in The Post how much more they will pay in taxes next year without a fiscal-cliff deal by Jan. 1.

“It’s that much higher?” asked IT worker Vikas Kataria, 34, who discovered that his combined household income of about $250,000 per year will cost him nearly $10,000 more in taxes.

“I thought it was a couple thousand — but that’s a lot,” said Kataria, who works at Merrill Lynch in Manhattan and is married to a systems analyst for a brokerage firm. “That’s huge!”

Jan Losick, a Medicare-aged counselor at Au Pair in America, makes about $150,000 when combined with her husband’s salary, and would pay about $6,000 more.

“The Senate and the House of Representatives should be sacked!” said Losick, who would have to cut down on vacations, going to the theater and eating out, and just stick to the basics. “They should be doing our bidding — not their own.”

With a likely tax increase of $2,200 looming, Andre Hunter, 49, is kissing his dream of owning a home goodbye.

Funny, because they don’t get that home ownership is viewed as a problem by bigger forces.

See, the thing is, Democrats are for higher taxes, and they don’t negotiate – Democrats don’t compromise.  Remember this exchange?

Boehner to Obama: “I put $800 billion [in tax revenue] on the table. What do I get for that?’
Obama to Boehner: “You get nothing. I get that for free.”

If we go off the cliff, Obama blames Republicans in congress.  If congress negotiates, Obama takes what he wants anyway and Republicans end up voting for tax increases, while there are no spending cuts made – the same thing that happened to Reagan in the 1980s.  Or Democrats just send us off the cliff anyway and reap the rewards.  The Tea Party Republicans in congress are standing firm against raising taxes and demanding concessions in the way of spending cuts, but Obama has demonstrated that he just doesn’t care.  He gets to hurt his political enemies, and he gets to hurt the citizen and blame his political enemies for it.  It’s very cruel, Alinskyite politics, but that’s what happens when you elect a man raised by communists.

Also, Democrats saying “revenue” are cleverly disguising that what they are doing is trying to take money out of Losick’s pocket, or Hunter’s house, or from Kataria’s pocket.

Because they don’t understand that higher taxes mean people will flee the taxation rates, and will work less to earn less, even well-meaning Democrats who aren’t totally on board with the Obama ideology will never see these ideas solve anything.

And then there are those Democrats (again, Obama) who avidly use the Curley Effect to create new voters, who know that increased taxes mean it’s often financially better for people to stay on welfare.  Of course, once you’ve got them addicted to handouts, they’ll always vote for Democrats.

The presidential race looks like it’s going to be a popular vote win for Romney, and an electoral vote win for Obama (at least as of right now), but there’s going to be some legal wrangling and recounts unless Romney concedes.

As anyone who’s followed The Patriot Perspective for more than a day knows, Operation Gunwalker/Fast and Furious are very, very important issues.  Two of the key congressmen involved in the House Oversight and Reform Committee are Jason Chaffetz and Trey Gowdy, and both are staunch advocates for facts, pushing for the whole story of gunwalker and for accountability for the DOJ and ATF and the criminal operation they were running.

So the good news, if the preliminary reports of Obama winning re-election are right, is at least that Chaffetz and Gowdy have both won their respective districts.

From the Salt Lake Tribune:

After relatively quiet campaigns, Republican Congressmen Rob Bishop and Jason Chaffetz appeared headed toward big wins in their races Tuesday.

Both were ahead in early unofficial returns, and both were projected as winners by the Utah Colleges Exit Poll.

And from AP State News on The Item:

The GOP’s Trey Gowdy has easily won a second term in South Carolina’s strongly Republican 4th District in Greenville and Spartanburg counties.

With about a third of precincts reporting, Gowdy had about 65 percent of votes cast in the three-way contest that included Democrat Deb Marrow and Green Party candidate Jeff Sumerel.

The long march towards accountability in the Gunwalker/Fast and Furious case goes on.

Big news.  Oversight report can be read here, and Oversight reports’ exhibits here.

From Daily Caller:

The latest congressional report on Operation Fast and Furious found that the gunwalking-program-turned-scandal was the result of a “deliberate strategy created at the highest levels of the Justice Department aimed at identifying the leaders of a major gun trafficking ring.”

The report is the second installment in a three-part series from Senate Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Sen. Chuck Grassley and House oversight committee Chairman Rep. Darrell Issa.

That “deliberate strategy,” congressional investigators argue, sprang from “a series of speeches about combating violence along the Southwest border” that Attorney General Eric Holder delivered shortly after taking office.

And from Katie Pavlich at Townhall here (also big kudos to Katie – your added attention to citations in recent weeks have been noticed!):

The most recent report contains damning information and documentation showing Attorney General Eric Holder’s Deputy Chief of Staff Monty Wilkinson and DOJ Official Patrick Cunningham discussing plans for Holder to participate a press conference announcing the “take-down” or the end of Operation Fast and Furious before Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry was killed on December 15, 2010. Guns from the Fast and Furious program were left at Terry’s murder scene. Holder claims he didn’t know about Operation Fast and Furious until May of 2011. The email below was sent on December 14, 2010 at 12:28 pm, just 12 hours before Terry’s murder. (email pic here)

And from Breitbart (first part is quoting the report):

“He spoke about the development of a prosecution and enforcement strategy with respect to firearms trafficking, noting that the ‘administration launched a major new effort to break the backs of the cartels,’ … In particular, the attorney general said that the Justice Department was committed to adding ‘100 new ATF personnel to the Southwest Border’ and that Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) would add ‘16 new positions on the border.’ Most importantly, the attorney general noted that there must be ‘an attack in depth, on both sides of the border, that focuses on the leadership and assets of the cartel.’”

After these speeches, congressional investigators found  “a Firearms Trafficking Working Group was formed,” which was tasked with “exploring and recommending proposals to enhance law enforcement efforts to curb firearms trafficking, focusing specifically on investigation, interdiction, training, prosecution, and intelligence-sharing.”

Missed updating this last week, from FOX:

The Justice Department on Monday night sought dismissal of a lawsuit by a Republican-led House of Representatives committee demanding that Attorney General Eric Holder produce records about the botched law enforcement probe of gun-trafficking called Operation Fast and Furious.

President Barack Obama has invoked executive privilege and the attorney general has been found to be in contempt of Congress for refusing to turn over documents that might explain what led the Justice Department to reverse course after initially denying that federal agents had used a controversial tactic called gun-walking in the failed law enforcement operation.

In its court papers, the Justice Department says the Constitution does not permit the courts to resolve the political dispute between the executive branch and the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee that is seeking the records. The political branches have a long history of resolving disputes over congressional requests without judicial intervention, the court filing said.

If the lawsuit is allowed to go forward, “countless other suits by Congress are sure to follow, given the volume of document requests issued by the dozens of congressional committees that perform oversight functions,” the Justice Department’s court filing stated. “This case thus illustrates vividly why the judiciary must defer to the time-tested political process for resolution of such disputes.”

The problem with this is that if the lawsuit doesn’t go forward, then the DOJ can simply stonewall on any criminal activities they’re involved in.  The president’s use of executive priviledge is suppposed to be limited to things he knows about, yet here he claims no knowledge, yet exerts priviledge to prevent the investigation from finding the criminals he’s protecting.  The lawsuit is pushing against that shady use of executive priviledge to protect criminals in the DOJ, and now Eric Holder’s DOJ is trying to dismiss the lawsuit so there will never be disclosure.

From February 2012, for some idea of the stonewalling:

House Oversight & Reform Committee hearing today.  Viewable live here.

Plenty of questions about what was going on, when, and how.