A current events round-up for conservatives
THE OTHER SHOE DROPS: Turning back the tide of information overload with a digest of the latest developments in news conservatives need to pay attention to:
† Never mind Marxism. Will an Obama administration be totalitarian?: Part II (click here for related article): A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit brushed aside the legal opinion issued by the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel earlier this month, and unanimously ruled that President Barack Hussein Obama’s recess appointments to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the National Labor Relations Board are unconstitutional and that he overstepped his authority, The Washington Post reports:
[The judges] ruled that allowing the president to make such appointments as a way around Senate opposition “would wholly defeat the purpose of the Framers in the careful separation of powers structure” they created. …
The ruling acknowledged that it conflicts in parts with what other federal appeals courts have held about recess appointments. The issue is likely to be decided by the Supreme Court.
Obama appointed Richard Cordray to head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and added Sharon Block, Terence Flynn and Richard Griffin to the NLRB during the Senate’s 20-day Christmas break, during which time pro forma sessions were held every three business days to forestall such recess appointments – a tactic both parties have used. But since the Senate was not conducting any business, Obama declared that the upper chamber of the legislative branch was not in session and went ahead with the appointments.
“Obama sought to establish the principle that he, not the Senate, was entitled to decide when the Senate was in session,” Commentary notes, adding, “[w]ere he to prevail in this assertion of presidential power, it would have gutted the Senate’s power to advice and consent to nominations to executive posts and thus eliminated one of the Constitution’s carefully designed checks on executive power.” Commentary explains that Obama may not prevail if the matter gets kicked up to the high court:
[The Supreme Court] could let the lower court’s decision stand simply by refusing to grant a writ of certiorari, which is necessary to appeal most cases to the high court. The fact that the ruling from a three-judge panel was unanimous greatly increases the chances that the court will not “grant cert,” to use the jargon of the court.
Assuming this decision stands, all the decisions of the NLRB since January 4th, 2012, will be void. His appointment of Richard Cordray head to the new, and very powerful Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, made at the same time, and being challenged in a separate case, would also fall.
Presidents have increasingly used recess appointments to get around Senate obstruction, usually a filibuster. But this use of the power was brazen as Obama had only just nominated the men and the Senate had not had any time in which to act.
The validity of Obama’s recess appointments to the NLRB had been challenged in court by WA state Pepsi bottler Noel Canning, which argued that the agency did not have a quorum of three when it agreed with Teamsters Local 760 that the company had violated the National Labor Relations Act. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and 41 other Republican senators filed an amicus brief in the case, as did House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH).
Relieved that “the courts are finally awakening to the news” that Obama “has shown increasing contempt for the constitutional limits on his power,” The Wall Street Journal points out that there is legal precedent to invalidate all of the NLRB’s rulings since the beginning of the year, citing a 2010 suit in which the Supreme Court voided 600 decisions made by the NLRB without a three-member quorum. However, NLRB chairman Mark Gaston Pearce issued a statement vowing to press on with the agency’s “important work,” because the appellate court ruling “applies to only one specific case” and “the President’s position in the matter will ultimately be upheld.”
† Journal News gun permit map shot down by citizens, law enforcement and elected officials: That infamous interactive map of suburban NY pistol-permit holders posted online by The Journal News in December and just taken down was riddled with inaccuracies, because in their rush to finger law-abiding citizens as potential spree shooters, the paper neglected to do the checking necessary to weed out names and addresses of people who had moved, died or no longer possessed a gun. USA Today reports:
Rockland County provided the names and addresses for 16,998 permit holders, but County Clerk Paul Piperato categorized the vast majority of those as "historical," with some dating to the 1930s. Only 3,907 permits were considered current. …
Until this month, only Westchester, Suffolk and Nassau counties required permits to be renewed every five years; New York City requires an update every three years.
Every other county in New York – including Rockland – issued permits that were good for a person's lifetime, and though it was the responsibility of the permit holder to update his information, many simply did not, Piperato said.
The gun control law that Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D-NY) rushed enact require all gun owners living outside NYC to renew their permits every five years. NYC’s gun control regulations are not affected by the new law.
† “Persistent vegetative state” diagnoses too often a rush to judgment (second item on the page): A brain scan performed last week on former Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon, who was believed to be in a vegetative state after a catastrophic stroke seven years ago, showed “significant brain activity in response to external stimuli, raising the chances that he is able to hear and understand,” The New York Times reports. In October 2011, Sharon’s son Gilad told a reporter for The Times that, “When he is awake, he looks at me and moves fingers when I ask him to. I am sure he hears me.”
† The federal government pays people to stay poor: Many people on public assistance play the lottery with their benefits, and NC State Rep. Paul Stam (R-Wake) is proposing a bill that would penalize vendors selling lottery tickets to anyone who uses food stamps to buy groceries, The Associated Press reports, because “We're giving them welfare to help them live, and yet by selling them a ticket, we're taking away their money that is there to provide them the barest of necessities.” Some 1.7 million food stamp recipients in the state would be affected by the law.
† Inner City Pathology Has Become A Cliché (second item on the page): A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit affirmed September 2011 lower court ruling dismissing a copyright infringement suit against rapper 50 Cent (AKA Curtis Jackson) by Shadrach Winstead of Newark, on the grounds that the “story of an angry and wronged protagonist who turns to a life of violence and crime has long been part of the public domain,” New Jersey Law Journal reports:
Winstead failed to state an actionable claim for copyright infringement because, although his book and 50 Cent's works share similar themes and setting, the stories are common, the panel said.
The court was unpersuaded by Winstead's argument that common, short hip-hop phrases from his book were copyright protected. "The average person reading or listening to these phrases in the context of an overall story or song would not regard them as unique," the court said.
So there you have it: Not only Winstead’s life story and 50 Cent’s “Before I Self-Destruct” are urban clichés, but the words they both use to tell pretty much the same story are also unoriginal.