Will Obama Go Fascist on the Debt Ceiling?

Ben Johnson, The White House Watch

Barack Obama has sometimes been fond of branding his Republican foes “hostage-takers,” but officials in his administration have found a new hostage in their negotiations over raising the debt ceiling: the U.S. Constitution. The president’s advisers and several “unbiased” media outlets are suggesting if Congress refuses to raise the debt ceiling, Barack Obama can force the nation to continue borrowing money. The Founding Fathers required all expenditures originate in the House of Representatives, but Obama officials are wrapping his actions in the 14th Amendment. For the first time in living memory, the president is threatening to commit an impeachable offense if he does not get his way.

CBS News has reported the debt ceiling impasse leaves “the option of a congressional end-run by President Obama a possibility.” Reporter Whit Johnson said, “The stalemate in Washington has some asking if President Obama could simply bypass Congress and order the Treasury to keep borrowing.” Obama or his spokesman Jay Carney has been asked twice about the possibility and, despite an incredibly misleading headline from the Associated Press, neither rejected the possibility. (Carney merely said, “I don’t think that I want to get into speculation about what might happen if something does or doesn’t happen”; Obama replied, “I don’t think we should even get to the constitutional issue.”) MSNBC’s Powerwall dared the president to carry it out, claiming it would be smart politically.

Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, who has never shown much regard for financial laws, claims the president has this power under the Fourteenth Amendment. The fourth clause states:

The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, including debts incurred for payment of pensions and bounties for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellion, shall not be questioned.

Geither made his comments at….

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Experts Say Obama Fundraising Video Shot in White House is Illegal

Matt Cover, CNSNews.com

A video of President Barack Obama filmed in the White House and included in a fundraising e-mail sent to supporters is not legal, two election law experts told CNSNews.com.

The video was included in an e-mail sent to supporters of President Obama promoting a fundraising drive that offered participants a chance to win an invitation to dinner with Obama and Vice President Joe Biden.

The video was filmed in the White House and, because it is intended to raise funds, constitutes a violation of federal law, according to two election law experts contacted by CNSNews.com.

“I think this is a violation [of the law],” Cleta Mitchell, a member of the American Bar Association’s election law committee, told CNSNews.com.

“It is a specific prohibition on solicitation [of money] by the president, the vice president, or any member of Congress on any federal property,” she said.

According to federal law (Title 18, subsection 607 U.S.C.), “It shall be unlawful for an individual who is an officer or employee of the Federal Government, including the President, Vice President, and Members of Congress, to solicit or receive a donation of money or other thing of value in connection with a Federal, State, or local election, while in any room or building occupied in the discharge of official duties.”

The White House contends that the video is legal, noting that the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) issued a memo in 1979 explaining that the president can solicit funds in the White House, so long as he does so in the residential portion of the mansion, not in a room used for official business.

However, Hans von Spakovsky – former member of the Federal Election Commission and a Heritage Foundation legal analyst – told CNSNews.com that that exemption may not apply in this case because it appears that the video was not filmed in an area where the president actually lives.

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Golfing While the Constitution Burns

Ben Johnson, The White House Watch

When Barack Obama and John Boehner played golf this weekend, they played on the same team. How appropriate.

Barack Obama has violated the Constitution’s war-making power – reserved by Article I, Section 8, to Congress – from the moment he sent American troops into harm’s way without Congressional approval. He has been violating the War Powers Resolution since at least the 60th day of that campaign. And he has violated the most liberal reading of that act – the one Boehner has adopted as his own – since this weekend. Yet despite the letter Boehner authored last week, which the media presented as an “ultimatum,” Obama has neither obtained Congressional authorization nor removed our troops. Boehner’s letter weakly supplicated “I sincerely hope the Administration will faithfully comply with the War Powers Resolution,” but at least it seemed to set this weekend as a definitive cut-off point.

The “deadline” has come and gone, and Obama has not answered the most burning questions of the mission’s legality to anyone’s satisfaction. Instead, the president has thumbed his nose at Congress in general, Boehner in particular, and the American people at large, and the Speaker-cum-caddy has made no meaningful response whatsoever.

Obama insists the American role in Libya is too diminutive to constitute “hostilities,” so his action is perfectly legal. White House spokesman Jay Carney repeated his boss’s party line at Monday’s press conference, stating, “the War Powers Resolution does not need to be involved because the ‘hostilities’ clause of that resolution is not met.” However, soldiers in Libya are receiving an additional $25 a month in “imminent danger pay.” American drones still rain missiles down upon military targets. NATO is alternately bombing Muammar Qaddafi’s home and killing the innocent Libyan civilians they are purportedly protecting. (We had to kill the civilians in order to save them?) NATO admitted (at least) one of its bombs went off target on Sunday, killing nine civilians in Tripoli, while allied bombs allegedly killed 15 civilians in Sorman on Monday.

Not to worry, though; Defense Secretary Robert Gates said over the weekend, in a confidence-builder worthy of Churchill, “I think this is going to end OK.” Gates, who once opposed the Libyan adventure, has pulled a 180 on the matter.

Even Obama’s short-term fellow Illinois Senator, Dick Durbin, agrees Libya more than rises to the level of hostilities.

So, too, we have learned, do the best legal minds of Obama’s administration (not a coveted nor much-contested title, I assure you). In overruling his own lawyers, Obama rejected the considered conclusions of Jeh C. Johnson, the Pentagon’s general counsel, and Caroline Krass, the acting head of the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel (OLC). The New York Times reported it is “extraordinarily rare” for any president to overrule the OLC. “Under normal circumstances, the office’s interpretation of the law is legally binding on the executive branch.”

But then, nothing in the Obama administration transpires under “normal circumstances.”

Two former OLC lawyers outlined precisely how unusual the dismissal was….

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DoJ: Obama Can Send U.S. Troops to Do the UN’s Bidding by Decree

Ben Johnson, FloydReports.com

The Justice Department has decided: it is perfectly acceptable for the president to send American troops into foreign military adventures without so much as consulting Congress, as long as he is carrying out the will of the United Nations.

Just before Barack Obama’s speech on the budget on Wednesday, the White House revealed that American jets have continued to bomb Libya, after giving the impression this would end. Since the “hand-off,” U.S. troops have operated under NATO command. And some figures are beginning to catch on that there is no evidence the Libyan intervention prevented genocide.

With the evidence piling up, the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel weighed in on Obama’s war-by-decree in Libya. Although figures as diverse as Ron Paul and Dennis Kucinich have declared the military adventure is grounds for impeachment, the OLC found that Obama acted within his “constitutional authority.” James M. Lindsay of the Council on Foreign Relations mentioned the report on the CFR’s blog last Friday. The OLC’s opinion states:

As we advised you prior to the commencement of military operations, we believe that, under these circumstances, the President had constitutional authority, as Commander in Chief and Chief Executive and pursuant to his foreign affairs powers, to direct such limited military operations abroad, even without prior specific congressional approval.

It states “a variety of national interests…alone or in combination, may justify use of military force by a President.” Among them is “maintaining the credibility of United Nations Security Council mandates” or “enforcing UNSC mandates,” citing such national mistakes as Haiti, Bosnia, and Somalia. Libya involved “the combination of at least two national interests…preserving regional stability and supporting the UNSC’s credibility and effectiveness,” and this “provided a sufficient basis for the President’s [sic. -- government entities always capitalize their titles as though they were Oriental deities] exercise of his constitutional authority to to order the use of military force.”

This means two things: 1) Barack Obama had time to consult with the OLC, as well as the Arab League, NATO, and the United Nations Security Council before war, but not Congress; and 2) the OLC could not care less about the Founding Fathers’ interpretation of our founding document.

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