Obama has “full faith” in DCIA who doesn’t know what CIA is up to

CIA Director John Brennan is under fire from the Senate Intelligence Committee after the CIA admitted that it searched the computer files and read the e-mails of Senate investigators who were probing the agency’s use of harsh interrogation measures on terrorist in the aftermath of 9/11.

The fire is well-deserved. Earlier this year, Brennan responded to charges of the misconduct described above by denying them. Now, he admits that the CIA surveillance of Senate investigators occurred.

It’s bad enough that Brennan didn’t know what his operatives were up to. But for him to have falsely told Senators that the spying didn’t take place makes his position untenable. Not only can Congress not count on Brennan’s ability to know what’s going on his agency, it cannot rely on his word.

How did President Obama react to the fact that his CIA spied on Congress and falsely denied doing so? By expressing his “full faith” in Brennan.

Obama was less kind to the Bush era CIA. He denounced it for using harsh interrogation tactics (which he labeled “torture”) in the aftermath of 9/11.

It’s sad when a U.S. president is more outraged by CIA efforts to obtain information from hardcore terrorists than by CIA spying on the legislative branch of government. The post-9/11 CIA interrogators were trying to protect this country from deadly attacks. The Obama era CIA snoops were trying to protect the CIA from the Senate.

I don’t mean to deny that the CIA could use protection from Senate Democrats, though. That lot is all too eager to write post 9/11 history in a way that makes Democrats look good and the CIA look bad.

And this is what makes Brennan’s screw-up all the more disgusting. The Senate is about to issue its report alleging CIA abuses. The CIA needs a Director who can credibly push back against the report.

Manifestly, John Brennan isn’t that man. Is this what Obama, who sides with Senate Democrats when it comes to rewriting post 9/11 history, has confidence of?

House Passes Improved Immigration Legislation

The Republican Party narrowly avoided a self-inflicted disaster tonight–that is my reading, anyway–when the House passed two separate bills dealing with immigration. The first is a supplemental/enforcement bill that is not as good as doing nothing, but is significantly improved over the version against which conservatives rebelled a day or two ago. It fixed a problem with the earlier bill that would actually have slowed deportations down, and it made clear that states can deploy the National Guard on their own. It also dealt a blow to Eric Holder’s power to appoint immigration judges.

But the big news is that the House passed the “Cruz amendment,” which bars President Obama from illegally repealing existing immigration law so as to grant legal status to five to six million illegal immigrants. Such legislation shouldn’t be necessary, obviously, and the bill will never get a hearing in the Senate, where Harry Reid backs Barack Obama’s unconstitutional usurpations. But the bill helps to clarify the border issues that the nation faces, and it places the Democratic Party on the wrong side of the issue.

Jeff Sessions, who owns this issue, focused on the House’s effort to block the Democrats’ lawlessness in this statement:

I applaud the hard work of House Republicans in putting together this package, and in particular would like to recognize the steadfast and unflinching efforts from members of our Alabama delegation.

The border bill has been substantially improved, and provides a marked contrast to the Senate Democrat bill—defeated on a bipartisan basis—that would have deepened the crisis.

Most importantly, the House has taken a firm vote today to block the President’s plan to provide unlawful executive amnesty and work permits to 5-6 million illegal immigrants. They have again acted to protect U.S. workers. President Obama’s suspension of immigration law created this crisis and his new plan, if implemented, would escalate that crisis to an unimaginable degree.

While the Republican House has voted to protect our constituents and our Constitution, Senate Democrats have abandoned both in the face of this clear and present danger. Indeed, last night, all Senate Democrats except one voted to thwart the Republican effort to stop the President’s illegal actions. All but one Democrat voted with their Senate leader instead of the people who sent them here.

But the fight in the Senate is only beginning. Now that the House has passed this measure to block the President’s unlawful actions, we will demand that every Senate Democrat be held to account. We will fight, and keep fighting, for its passage. I appeal tonight to all Americans: ask your Senators where they stand on President Obama’s executive amnesty. Ask them where they stand on protecting unemployed citizens from a plan which will give work permits and jobs to millions of illegal workers.

Senators face a time for choosing: to be complicit in the nullification of our laws, or to end this lawlessness and create an immigration policy we can be proud of. Mr. Reid: you and every single member of your conference will face this choice. On the defining issue of our nation’s laws and sovereignty, there is nowhere to hide.

Some of our readers have suggested that statues of Senator Sessions should be erected to commemorate his heroic defense of American workers. I can’t disagree.

Kidnapped Israeli soldier may be dead

Hamas’ military wing says it doesn’t know the whereabouts of the IDF soldier who was captured by Hamas during an ambush. According to Hamas, it lost contact with the unit that carried out the ambush. Hamas speculates that the ambushers were all killed by Israeli bombardment and that the IDF soldier, Second-Lieutenant Hadar Goldin, may have been killed along with them.

There’s no reason to believe anything Hamas says. But if Hadar Goldin is still alive and under Hamas’ control, we should be seeing pictures of him soon. Hamas will no doubt use him as a bargaining chip.

Regardless of Goldin’s fate, Israel’s best course of action is to press ahead with the destruction of Hamas’ tunnels, the personal destruction of its leaders and fighters, and the degradation of its rocket launching capability. And, of course, no more “ceasefires” for Hamas to violate.

When Israel has finished destroying the tunnels and degrading the rocket launching capability, it should withdraw. There should be no attempt to reoccupy Gaza. Israel should never have left, but at this point reestablishing authority and policing Gaza would be too difficult and too costly.

If, once Israel withdraw, Hamas ceases its missile attacks on Israel, that will be the “ceasefire” — no piece of paper required. If Hamas persists, Israel should resume bombardment of Gaza.

Israel obviously should continue with its blockade of Gaza and, indeed, should tighten it. Egypt will likely cooperate with Israel in attempting to cut off arms and material to Hamas.

Any outcome in which Hamas ends up with a better deal, in terms of access to outside world, than it had before the war would be a clear and disastrous defeat for Israel. It would mean that Israel’s soldiers died in vain. I find it shocking, but not surprising, that the Obama administration has pushed to impose such a defeat on Israel.

It’s possible that, with Hamas’ tunnels and rockets destroyed and Gaza even more isolated than before, Hamas will be unable to maintain its grip on Gaza. More likely, Hamas will retain that grip.

In that event, Israel will need, somehow, to do a better job of monitoring Hamas’ activity. Apparently, Israel was taken very much by surprise by the extent to which Hamas has tunneled its way towards, and indeed into, Israel.

The above prescription would require Israel to ignore much of what President Obama and Secretary Kerry demand. That’s not a pleasant prospect for Israel.

But the rest of the world manages largely to ignore these two. So can Israel. Fortunately for all of us, the days in power of Obama and Kerry are numbered.

On Immigration, the National Rifle Association Shows the Way

For reasons I do not understand, some Republicans remain convinced that the House needs to “do something” on immigration. This, despite the fact that stopping illegal immigration polls as the number one issue among Republicans, and public opinion in general is turning decisively away from the Obama administration. So I understand why Democrats hysterically demand that the Republican House “do something”–misery loves company. But why should Republicans fall into that trap?

Conservatives should take a lesson from the success of the pro-gun movement. For decades, pro-gun forces have fought off efforts at various forms of gun control, in large part with a simple response: how about if we enforce the laws that are already on the books? That basic principle resonates with a large majority of voters, not just conservatives. It appeals to common sense: we already have hundreds if not thousands of laws and regulations relating to firearms, many of which are widely ignored. Not to mention the fact that every crime committed with a gun is already a crime. So rather than casting about for new laws to be broken, let’s enforce the laws we already have.

Conservatives can make much the same point on immigration: the first thing we should do is enforce the laws we already have. The truth is that the Democrats don’t want to enforce immigration laws–any immigration laws–but that is hard for them to admit in public. Given that our current laws are widely ignored, with the connivance of the federal government, what is the point of passing new ones? They will just be ignored, too. Until we establish control over our borders and demonstrate that we are in control of immigration into our country, passing new laws is pointless. We have an immigration regime on the books, so let’s start by enforcing it. My guess is that 75% of voters would subscribe to that simple proposition.

When asked what they propose to do about immigration, every Republican’s first response should be: let’s enforce the laws that are already on the books. After all, if we have abandoned the rule of law, what is the point of changing the laws?

The Awful Jobs Picture: 6.2% Unemployment Is Only the Beginning

The Labor Department reported today that the economy added 209,000 jobs in July as the official unemployment rate rose to 6.2%. But, as Peter Morici explains, that dismal unemployment number only begins to tell the story:

Adding in discouraged adults who say they would begin looking for work if conditions were better, those working part-time but say they want full time work, and the effects of immigration, the unemployment rate becomes about 15 percent—and that is a lower bound estimate. …

Many Americans who would like full time jobs are stuck in part-time positions, because businesses can hire desirable part-time workers to supplement a core of permanent, full-time employees, but at lower wages. And Obamacare’s employer health insurance mandates will not apply to workers on the job less than 30 hours a week.

Young people have been hit hardest:

Many young people are being duped both by unscrupulous for-profit, post-secondary institutions—as well as accredited colleges and universities with low admission standards—to enroll in useless programs. They would likely be in the labor force now but for easy access to federally sponsored loans and will end up heavily in debt.

Adding in these students, the real unemployment rate among U.S. citizens and permanent residents is at least 18 percent.

Morici makes important points about the role of both our welfare system and illegal immigration in perpetuating low levels of labor force participation:

Since 2000, Congress has enhanced the earned income tax credit and expanded programs that provide direct benefits to low-income workers, including food stamps, Medicaid, Obamacare, and rent and mortgage assistance.

Virtually all phase out as family incomes rise, either by securing higher hourly pay or working more hours, and impose an effective marginal tax rate as high as 50 percent. Consequently, these programs discourage work and skills acquisition and encourage single parents and one partner in two adult households not to work. Often, these motivate single people to work only part-time.

Undocumented immigrants face more difficulties accessing these programs, and lax immigration enforcement permits them to openly take jobs that government benefits discourage low-income Americans from accepting.

When the supply of workers exceeds the demand for work, it should be no surprise that wages are stagnant, or worse:

No surprise, average family income, adjusted for inflation, has fallen from about $55,600 in 2007 to $51,000 even as the gap between families at the bottom and top widens.

In view of this dismal picture, it is almost beyond belief that the administration, and even some misguided Republicans, want to import tens of millions of unskilled, low-wage foreign workers.

Today’s Climate Embarrassment & Green Weenie Award

Stiff competition for the biggest climate embarrassment of the week.  It could be the screenwriter of Sharknado 2, the improbably named Thunder Levin, who said on MSNBC that climate change could cause Sharknado to come true.  Said Levin:

“You know we just felt it was time that the world was alerted to the perils of global warming and bio-meteorology, so it was just a matter of doing our research and getting the facts out to everybody.”

This is perhaps just a clever attempt to cause The Warmlist site to crash irretrievably.  Or maybe Levin is actually a climate skeptic punking MSNBC, and no one noticed.  In which case he deserves an Emmy for Sharknado instead of a Green Weenie.

The Washington Post gamely tries for the prize with speculation that global warming will increase the spread of flesh-eating bacteria.  Can zombies be far behind?  (Oh wait: Been there, done that.  From NASA, no less.  And you thought “climate zombies” referred to Michael Mann and such.)

But the winner belongs to that repeat champ, the New York Times, which on Wednesday ran an op-ed from a purported economist named James K. Boyce advocating for a “cap-and-dividend” idea that would put more money in everyone’s pocket!  Like this:

What if we could find a way to put more money in the pockets of families and less carbon in the atmosphere without expanding government? If the combination sounds too good to be true, read on.

If it sounds “too good to be true,” it’s because it is.  Boyce’s argument requires more sleight-of-hand than a bad Vegas street magician.  Pay close attention and spot the fallacies:

Paying dividends to all isn’t rocket science. The state of Alaska has been doing it since 1982. That’s when the Alaska Permanent Fund, the brainchild of Gov. Jay S. Hammond, a Republican, began to pay dividends from oil royalties based on the principle that the state’s natural wealth belonged to all its people.

Of course, the production of Alaskan oil represents the creation of new net wealth.  Cap and trade ideas don’t create anything new—it promises, at best, to shift around the source of energy production, very likely resulting in a net loss of overall wealth since most “clean energy” sources are more expensive.  But let’s keep going:

The number of permits initially would be capped at the level of our 2005 carbon dioxide emissions. This cap would gradually ratchet down to 80 percent below that level by 2050. Prices of fossil fuels would rise as the cap tightened, spurring private investment in energy efficiency and clean energy. Energy companies would pass the cost of permits to consumers in the form of higher fuel prices. But for most families, the gain in carbon dividends would be greater than the pain. In fact, my calculations show that more than 80 percent of American households would come out ahead financially — and that doesn’t even count the benefits of cleaner air and a cooler planet.

As the cap tightened, prices of fossil fuels would rise faster than quantity would fall, so total revenues would rise. The tighter the cap, the bigger the dividend.

Boyce seems not to notice that people would be getting paid dividends with their own money.  Oh wait, not really, as Boyce goes on to explain:

The outsize consumption — and outsize carbon footprints — of the richest 10 percent of Americans means that they’ll furnish a similarly high fraction of the carbon dollars generated by household spending on gasoline, electricity, airplane trips and so on. For these households, the dividends won’t outweigh the costs. But the affluent can afford to pay for their emissions.

So in other words, this “cap-and-dividend” scheme is nothing like the Alaska oil dividend, and is simply another attempt to set up a wealth transfer from the rich.

Other than that, looks just fine.  Oh yes—how much would such a plan, if fully implemented, reduce global warming?  Silly—it’s not about reducing global warming (the correct answer is zero, of course).  Kudos to Boyce for disguising the real purpose so poorly.  He’d better not try this kind of misdirection on the sidewalks in Vegas.  He’ll get worse than booed.  And worse than just a Green Weenie.

GOP gaining ground in House races

The Cook Political Report has revised its district-by-district assessment of this fall’s House races. 21 races have a new rating and 17 of them favor Republicans.

Of particular interest for us is the reassessment of the race in Minnesota’s Eighth District, in which John’s friend Stewart Mills is challenging incumbent Democrat Rick Nolan. Cook has switched this race from “leans Democrat” to “toss-up.”

Stewart Mills will be one of our “Power Line Picks.” We will be presenting our full slate very soon.

Two other Minnesota races have moved favorably to Republicans, according to Cook. The race involving John’s congressman, John Kline, has been moved from “likely Republican” to “solid Republican.” And in the Seventh District, the race between incumbent Democrat Collin Peterson and Republican Torrey Westrom has moved from “likely Democrat” to “leans Democrat.”

There are now 16 House races that Cook rates a toss-up. Thirteen of them involve seats held by Democrats. We like that math. We also like the trend Cook detects.