President Obama

President uses an autopen to complete a bill

The controversial Patriot Act was given a new lease on life, thanks to President Obama. The bill went to the president from Congress, though President Obama is currently in France. It was revealed the document was finalized into law using an autopen, a pseudo-robotic system that replicates signatures, and this act has proved controversial.

Not ending government surveillance just yet

Recently, certain key provisions of the Patriot Act, were set to expire unless a bill was created, passed by Congress and finalized by the president. Three provisions of the domestic security laws that allow for highly controversial surveillance procedures would have expired, according to the Christian Science Monitor, but Obama signed the bill at the last moment. Even though Senator Rand Paul tried to rally against the bill, the government can still use the internet, business records and wiretaps without a warrant whenever they want. However, according to CNN, brouhaha in Congress has begun since the president used a robotic pen.

Working on the autopen

The signature was needed immediately on the document in the president was in France. He used an autopen to sign it. The autopen is a device that could be used. A person's signature can be reproduced with it. It is virtually extremely hard to tell the main difference between a genuine signature and an auto signature. MSNBC reports that the machines could be very complex or not complex at all. Several sites are reproducing an interview with Bob Olding who is the owner of one of the two corporations that exists in the U.S. that makes the machines. ABC spoke with Damillic Corp., owner Olding who said that the technology hasn't changed much since the 1930s when it came out. He makes sure the goods are being used ethically by Damillic customers as part of company policy.

Legality problems

In the Constitution, it simply states the president will sign a bill. "He shall sign it" is in there. The Department of Justice says a signature is valid if it is directed to be attached to a document. The Justice Department initially looked into the use of an autopen for precisely this reason in 2005 and informed then President Bush that as long as he indicated his consent to the signature, an auto signature was legally valid. V.P. Quayle admits that he used an autopen in 1992 while Donald Rumsfeld used one in 2004. This was for the letters he sent to families of troops killed. The signature and letter duplication machine was built in the 19th century. Thomas Jefferson was responsible for this. Autopens aren't that uncommon. They were used in the past by astronauts, business executives and government officials.

Citations

Christian Science Monitor

csmonitor.com/USA/Politics/2011/0527/Patriot-Act-three-controversial-provisions-that-Congress-voted-to-keep

CNN

whitehouse.blogs.cnn.com/2011/05/27/rise-of-the-machines-autopen-puts-bill-into-law/?hpt=T2

MSNBC

firstread.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2011/05/27/6731197-the-great-presidential-autopen-hullabaloo

ABC

blogs.abcnews.com/politicalpunch/2011/05/robama-is-it-ok-for-a-president-to-autopen-a-bill-into-law.html

Damillic Inc

realsig.com/index.htm

Response to President Obama's State of the Union Address

Introductory Note: In 2008, then-Senator Barack Obama gave a response to the State of the Union Address of then-President George W. Bush prior to President Bush’s address to the joint session of Congress. I believe that turnabout is only fair play so I will give my response to President Obama’s 2011 State of the Union Address before he delivers it.

Good evening. My name is Alan Peel and I am a private citizen and small business owner in Leawood, Kansas.

Before I begin, I would like to extend my thoughts and prayers to Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and her family as well as the other victims and the victims’ families in the recent shooting in Tucson, Arizona. We wish a speedy recovery for those who were injured and solace for those who lost loved ones in this senseless act.

We Americans are confronted with several issues and problems either with us currently or on the horizon that could imperil our country as we go deeper into the 21st Century. Applying many of the same solutions that have been implemented in the last century will not solve our debt problems, lack of spending restraint, everyday issues affecting businesses and households and challenges abroad.

We all agree that America has a debt problem. Borrowing $14 trillion without any ideas as to how to reduce our debt to countries that may or may not have our best interests at heart is not a good thing for our country. However, the way in which we get to complete debt elimination is where we the American people disagree vehemently with President Obama.

The American public has come to the conclusion that America has a spending problem and not a revenue problem. We already have some of the highest tax rates in the world even when state and local tax rates are excluded. Instead of hoping for an economic recovery to reduce our deficit or raising taxes in the middle of a fragile economic period, we should consider cutting spending significantly. I am personally looking forward to the House Republican’s unveiling of their plan to cut spending and reduce the debt by over $2 trillion by the end of the decade. I also invite President Obama to outline a budget that will significantly reduce the deficit and lead us to a balanced budget within the next three years.

One quick way for the president to reduce the debt in the future would be to support the repeal and replacement of ObamaCare. When proposed, there were only six years of benefits, ten years of new taxes, kickbacks and pork-barrel spending and several accounting gimmicks that would make Bernie Madoff blush.  This was used by President Obama to sell his own party on passage of his disastrous health care plan and ultimately led to the a midterm election last November that even he called a "shellacking". Even as millions of jobs hang in the balance thanks to ObamaCare’s existence, we look forward to having ideas presented to the president as to how we can expand coverage for all Americans and to reduce health care costs without onerous levels of government regulations and bureaucratic interference.

Another understanding that has been reached by the American public is the idea that government spending as a means to create jobs and create prosperity is nothing more than an overhyped myth that leaves government deeper in debt and Americans jobless. Instead, we should be looking to permanently extend all of the Bush tax cuts before the end of the year and extend the payroll tax cuts for another three to five years while looking for ideas as to how we can improve the revenue streams for Social Security while looking for ways to reduce the tax burden for everyday Americans and by not cutting benefits for those who have paid into the system.

The American people are wide awake and realize that the plans of bailouts and stimulus do not work.  In fact, the recent actions taken by the Federal Reserve to inject more printed money into circulation will actually lead us to further chaos with massive inflation coming this year that risks ending any hopes of a strong economic rebound and puts us on the road to a lost decade similar to that of Japan's lost decade of the 1990's where stimulus and central planning hurt that nation's economy.

Furthermore, Washington needs to learn lessons from what families are doing during hard times. Most families have been getting their family budgets under control and have made great sacrifices to ensure their own financial security. In learning from everyday Americans, fiscal restraint is our only option at this time and we should solve our nation’s fiscal nightmare of trillion-dollar deficits by drastically reducing spending and getting government within its means.

The surest way to create jobs is to empower entrepreneurs. Keeping tax rates low and eliminating onerous regulations are essential for job growth and job creation. Millions of jobs can be created by unleashing the entrepreneurial spirit of our country. We have the most resourceful, talented, and knowledgeable workforce in the world. The only way that we can take advantage of our workforce is to motivate and empower them to produce for themselves so that they can take the necessary risks of hiring employees and improving America’s jobs picture.

Also, the American people are disheartened that we are getting more of the same from President Obama on energy policy. The drilling moratorium because of last year’s disaster in the Gulf of Mexico has begun the rise in fuel and energy prices. Sharing and depending on already scarce resources is not the way to ensure low energy prices. Instead, we need an all-at-once approach to cultivate and develop new resources and to allow the free markets to determine America’s energy future, not environmentalists using junk science and empty promises to manipulate us to pursue unproven energy technologies that are still a good 15 to 20 years away from being ready for the over 300 million people who require energy to for all of our everyday uses. Instead, we need to develop short-term resources such as domestic oil drilling and coal mining, develop more mid-range resources including nuclear energy, and longer-term resources that will ensure that we no longer import another drop of energy from OPEC.

Finally, America is best when she is at her strongest abroad. It hurts to see President Obama deferring to the United Nations and other countries when America’s leadership is essential and necessary.  We also believe that it is not constructive for our president to conduct constant apology tours or for the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize winner to host a state dinner for the leader of a regime that currently has the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize recipient in prison whose only crime was speaking out for freedom.

Furthermore, a country without borders is not a nation.  Posting signs telling Americans on American soil that going beyond a certain point is not a sound border protection plan.  Instead, we need to empower border patrol agents to do their jobs and to stop this act of human trafficing, drug trafficing and rampant crime on our southern border.  Instead of pursuing politically-motivated amnesty for people here in this country illegally, we should be looking to enforce the law and to work with state and local law enforcement agencies to deal with the crime-related issues of illegal immigration.  Suing states like Arizona who have lost their patience with the federal government's refusal to enforce the law is not constructive and should be abandoned immediately.

Make no mistake: we care about the people in other countries and we especially love to have visitors and people who want to become Americans.  We just ask that we enforce the laws and regulations and expect everyone who comes to our country to become a part of America the right way.  Permitting those to come across our borders in violation of our laws is not the way it should be done.  Instead, we need to change our system so that more legal immigrants can enter our country and not be turned away.  Those who can provide skills to our already outstanding job force or those who want to pursue better educational opportunities for themselves and their children are always welcomed and our policies should be a reflection of that and not that of quotas or limits as to who can and cannot come to America.

We also have questions about whether or not America will win in Afghanistan before we draw down from our current troop levels. If we are to fight this war the right way, we should either be fighting to win in Afghanistan or we should immediately withdraw all our troops from Afghanistan. Instead of fighting to appease special interest anti-war groups, we should be fighting to ensure that our troops come home victorious and to do soon. We also don’t want to see future generations of Americans dying in our streets in acts of terrorism or have to fight wars in the future because we didn’t fight to win the ones we are currently fighting.

With these approaches and an embracing of American exceptionalism, America will be an even greater and stronger nation in the future. Thank you for your time. Good night and may God continue to bless this great nation of ours that we all love.

Stop Gloating

Scott Brown’s victory is an enormous opportunity – for the Democrats.

That is if we repeat the mistakes of the past in interpreting a “change” election.

There is no doubt that President Obama and Democratic over-reaching on stimulus and health care – to no immediate effect – fueled the Brown momentum in Massachusetts.  They know that and after they get through finger-pointing and in-fighting, they will do some serious soul-searching in the wake of Brown’s election much like we did after November 2008.

Republicans meanwhile appear to be reacting to Brown’s win by puffing up our chests and assuming that we will win every place we play.

However, more than anything, voters in Massachusetts – as in states around the country – are fed up with government.  The have no faith in the current leadership of both parties for good reason.

Neil Newhouse, the pollster for the Brown campaign, posted a summary of the verbatims from Massachusetts voters during the last two weeks of the race.  “We’re mad as hell and we’re not going to take it anymore,” “Washington isn’t listening to us,” and “Don’t take my vote for granted.” 

I worked with Neil on a race in 2006, and these were nearly word-for-word the verbatims we were hearing then.  Voter dissatisfaction has nothing to do with party: the reason a plurality of independents voted for Obama in states like Virginia and Massachusetts, but voted to reject the status quo by voting for a Republican in November 2009 and yesterday.

Gauging the overall reaction to Scott Brown’s victory returns bold statements about a Republican sweep in 2010, and the expectation that new candidates will materialize to challenge entrenched Democrats across the country.  The theme “If Democrats Can Lose Massachusetts, They Can Win Anywhere” is taking off along with its sunnier twin, “If Republicans Can Win in Massachusetts, They Can Win Anywhere.

We can, and we will probably sail to victory in some races. Yet, in the same way that an over-confident, arrogant Martha Coakley saw the race slip from her hands, like Hillary Clinton in the 2008 Democratic primary, it’s quite possible that several Republicans could suffer the same fate if we misinterpret the Brown win.

Failure to step back from a health care bill proven enormously unpopular. Failure to utilize new, effective tools and tactics for reaching voters like social media and online advertising. Failure to hold frequent townhalls, forums or events whereby a conversation takes place between candidate and citizens.

These failures are all hairline fractures caused by the same injury: arrogance.  It’s so last year to criticize Republicans for aloofness, but it will be so this year if we don’t take a measured response to Brown’s victory. 

Pusillanimous Lack of Leadership by President Obama at West Point

Tuesday night at West Point, President Obama had a golden opportunity to demonstrate that the world’s only superpower is lead by a tough, determined, world leader, able to make difficult decisions.  Instead, President Obama chose to take a hedged, triangulated position between those in America that support the war in Afghanistan and those that oppose it.  There was more nuance in the President’s address than there was determination and resolve, which is unfortunate for America and for international security around the globe.

There really are no good options for America and the situation in Afghanistan.  Looking backwards into the rearview mirror does us no good; we are where we are and fair or not, the President is forced to look ahead and play the hand he has been dealt.  As evidenced by the delay and lengthy deliberation regarding additional troop commitments, President Obama is learning that it is more difficult to actually lead a nation than it is to merely campaign to lead a nation.

Whether the best course of action is committing more troops or withdrawing could be debated by reasonable people, but it is less important than commitment and dedication to one or the other, with resolve.  The President needed to get it right last night—either we’re all-in or we’re out—and he failed, choosing conditional commitment and putting his weakness and equivocation on full display for the world.

Rather than attempting to placate his left flank by holding back 25% of the 40,000 troops requested by General McChrystal, the President could have demonstrated he was in it to win it, giving the general the 40,000 troops he requested.  Why hold back 10,000 troops?  If ever an ounce of prevention were better than a pound of cure, this would be it—give the general what he is requesting and “get ‘er done.”  The left is not placated by his gesture to send 30,000 more troops and hold back 10,000, and history informs us well that underwhelming the enemy or relying on the pathetic troop commitments of our allies is a recipe for disaster and defeat.

Clearly, the ultimate pusillanimous act last night was announcing a troop draw-down in 18 months.  This was not leadership, but a cowardly act that undermined any attempt by the President to even feign commitment, again serving only one purpose, to unsuccessfully attempt to appease the left.

The left and right are not happy with the President, nor is Middle America, which wants us out of Afghanistan, best achieved by either a total commitment to get out or bucking-up and committing overwhelming force.  Giving General McChrystal less troops than he requested  and announcing a draw-down in 18 months are jellyfish maneuvers, difficult to rationalize other than through a purely political prism.  Middle America deserves leadership from President Obama and knows all too well that the only thing in the middle of the road is a dead possum on a dotted white line.

 

http://americanmuser.wordpress.com

The Permanent Obama Campaign

Mark McKinnon says it's unsurprising that Obama has dropped the "change" charade.

[T]he presidency is all about politics. Obama did an artful job of creating an image of someone divorced from the nitty-gritty of hardball, brass-knuckled politics. But it’s far from reality. Obama got elected, in part, because he put a team around him of combat-proven veterans who know how to, as Bill Clinton once famously said, put his opponents’ teeth on the sidewalk. [...]

It was pretty clear to me early on that President Obama understood the importance of maintaining and fueling a political machine. He was presented with the option to kill the budget for the political operations that work out of the White House. It would have sent a powerful signal about ending politics as usual. But then he would have handicapped his ability to enact the kind of change he’d promised his supporters.

This is exactly right. Obama has been more artful at this "iron fist in a velvet glove" game than most, but he's always been a ruthless machine politician.  The appointment of Rahm Emanuel was a very clear signal that Obama had no intention of changing the game.

Obama knows his strength, his brand, is his ability to appear conciliatory, thoughtful and sympathetic.  He can't be the Bad Guy in his administration.  So Obama has hired a Chief of Staff who can handle the Enemies List.   Rahm Emanuel will be the ruthless guy who knocks heads, threatens opponents and generally does the dirty work, leaving Barack Obama to sweep in as the nice guy who wins friends and charms enemies.  Good cop, bad cop.  We won't necessarily see it happening, but it will happen over and over again.

I measure the seriousness of a politician by how willing they are to work against their own interests to enact good policy.  It is a rarity.  As McKinnon points out, Obama's unwillingness to close the political shop - to elevate governance above politics - is a sign that he'll probably be an effective advocate of his policies....but he certainly wasn't serious when he wrote "it's not enough to just change the players. We have to change the game."

Democrats have not changed the game.  They aren't even changing the players.

Follow-up - Someone Accepted the President's Invitation

I'm not sure he's the first, but I'm glad to see someone called the President's bluff about going over the healthcare reform bill "line-by-line".

Rep. Tom Price of Georgia has formally accepted the invitation.

http://rsc.tomprice.house.gov/News/DocumentSingle.aspx?DocumentID=140269

Maybe the President will save some time and review this 268 page bill proposed by the Republican Study Committee:

http://frwebgate.access.gpo.gov/cgi-bin/getdoc.cgi?dbname=111_cong_bills&docid=f:h3400ih.txt.pdf

Summary of the plan:

http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0709/25581.html

Who Will Be the First To Call This Obama Bluff?

In a campaign style event yesterday President Obama made this promise about the healthcare bill:

"If they want to come over to the White House and go over line-by-line what is going on, I will be happy to do that."

http://www.voanews.com/english/2009-07-29-voa53.cfm

This one is easy.  I hope some spunky Republican back-bencher steps up to call that.  "Mr. President, I'd like to come over during the recess and go over this 1,000+ page bill with you, line-by-line." 

National Review Lays Smackdown on "Birthers"

http://article.nationalreview.com/?q=ZTRjMTFhMzQxYmEzNjA2YWIwOTU4YWVjNzRmODE2NTI=

Anyone still questioning the President's birth status, please follow the link.  I appreciate the desire to click our heels together and make it all go away, but that's a fantasy we can't afford right now.  Aside from the all too obvious Springsteen reference, I agree completely with the editorial linked above.  Far more valuable uses of our time, energy, and credibility exist.  For starters, how about putting pressure on the FEC to investigate President Obama's campaign finances? 

F-22 Raptor Program Cut

 

On Tuesday the Senate passed an amendment to the Defense Appropriations bill that stripped $1.75 billion in funding for the F-22 Raptor program.  The military will end up with just 187 of these amazing fighters.  While opinions in the Pentagon seem to vary, in the past officials have estimated we need 250-380 to maintain air supremecy and preparedness into the forseeable future.  To borrow a phrase, I think the Senate has "acted stupidly" here.

First of all, the Raptor is awesome!  It is far and away the best fighter jet in the world.  That may not always be the case, but for the moment nothing can match it.  This is not really in dispute.  Having a full arsenal of these bad boys provides the U.S. a huge advantage over the rest of the world. 

Second, the critics of the F-22 point to the F-35 as a better alternative.  This is just ignorant.  The F-35 is slower and less agile.  It is not designed for the same purpose as the F-22, being more suited to Air-to-Ground assaults than Dogfights.  The F-35 is not ready for production and won't be for years - it's already behind schedule.  The trump card, however, is that the F-35 is a Joint Strike Fighter - part of a program in which we share in the development of the fighter jet with other countries.  The F-22 technology is all American; it is against the law to be sold abroad.  All things being equal, shouldn't we prefer to stock our military with weapons no one else can duplicate? 

Third, in a time when the administration is desperate to pump stimulus into the economy and "save jobs", the F-22 program is the very definition of effective stimulus.  The various stages of production for the F-22 employ 25,000 Americans.  The $1.75 billion is a mere .2% (that's two tenths of a percent) of the funding authorized in the Stimulus bill earlier this year - and a fraction of the funds set aside in that bill for ridiculous high speed rail lines from LA to Vegas. 

This is another example of Democrats just not looking closely enough.  And America suffers as a result.  Hopefully, we can find a way to resurrect the F-22 program yet.

Also, check out this nice piece on the memes employed in the debate over the F-22 (spoiler: they don't hold up to facts):

http://www.aviationweek.com/aw/blogs/defense/index.jsp?plckController=Blog&plckScript=blogScript&plckElementId=blogDest&plckBlogPage=BlogViewPost&plckPostId=Blog:27ec4a53-dcc8-42d0-bd3a-01329aef79a7Post:338b1664-f6f7-4795-939b-16536947dafb

 

Wowza! First Poll Showing Obama Approval Going Negative

http://www.rasmussenreports.com/public_content/politics/obama_administration/obama_approval_index_history

Rasmussen's daily tracking has the President's approval at 49%, 51% disapproval.  The Presidential Approval Index (strongly approve - strongly disapprove) is now -8%. 

This is mind-boggling; especially so since he was at nearly 60% approval on the same poll in early June.  I know the healthcare "plan" is unpopular, but even given that, I am at a loss to explain such a rapid and deep fall that doesn't appear to be leveling off.  Feels pretty good to be back in the majority! 

A word of caution - the President's approval in the Rasmussen daily poll has consistently been at the low end among the various polls.  So consider this as from a conservative-friendly source.  Even so, the trend is remarkable. 

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