Jim Hickey’s American Politics

Let's Get Real.

Clinton May Not Have Violated Any Laws with Email Scandal

Former Secretary of State Hilary Clinton has recently come under fire for using a personal email account for official state business while in office, and in spite of the controversy that this has raised, she may not have broken any laws.

Recently, Clinton gave the State Department a copy of her personal emails so that they could be saved for history. However, emails were only included as a part of the record when departmental employees were messaged at their official email addresses. This practice stops short of ensuing each email that Clinton wrote was included in the official federal archive.

Despite the security concerns that use of personal email raises, Clinton may not have violated any federal laws or regulations stated Reuters in a recent article. During the time that Clinton was at the State Department, there was not a requirement for senior government employees to preserve their emails. That particular law did not come into affect until 2014, a year after Clinton left the office.

Clinton spokesperson Nick Merrill defended the former Secretary of State’s actions.

“Like secretaries of State before her, she used her own email account when engaging with any department officials,” Merrill said. “For government business, she emailed them on their department accounts, with every expectation they would be retained.”

Federal Judge Rules Gay Marriage Ban In Nebraska Is Unconstitutional

U.S. District Judge Joseph Bataillon Calls Nebraska’s Ban An Unabashedly Gender-Specific Infringement Of The Equal Rights Of Its Citizens.

There may be a flicker of hope in Nebraska. Federal Judge Joseph Bataillon issues an injunction brought about by seven same-sex couples. He didn’t beat around the bush when a request to stay his decision was made. He said his injunction would take effect March 9 to give Nebraska officials time to wrap their arms around this monumental decision.http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/03/02/us-usa-gaymarriage-nebraska-idUSKBN0LY1MM20150302

But Nebraska state officials appealed the ruling to the 8th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals before the ink dried on the injunction. In Highland Village, Governor Pete Ricketts also had something to say about the decision, and it wasn’t in the judge’s favor. Ricketts said “The definition of marriage is an issue for the people of Nebraska, and an activist judge should not substitute his personal political preferences for the will of the people,”

State officials wanted the judge to wait while the Supreme Court decides if states can ban gay marriage, but Bataillon said there was no need to wait. Banning same-sex marriage is unconstitutional according to judge, and just about anyone else that knows something about human rights agrees with him.

Senator Barbara Mikulski to Retire

Senator Barbara Mikulski to Retire

Getting elected to a political office can be the start of a long era for some aspiring political officials. As of Monday, the era involving Senator Barbara Mikulski will soon come to an end.

At a press conference held this Monday in her hometown of Baltimore, the Democratic Senator officially announced her retirement from the Senate. She stated that she wasn’t interested in being re-elected but rather wanted to focus on her constituents said Haidar Barbouti. Mikulski said that “I want to give 120% of my time focused on my constituents. It’s never been about me, it’s always been about them.”

Mikulski first ran for and became part of the Baltimore City Council in 1971, then running for the United States Senate in 1974, when she won the Democratic nomination but failed to win a Senate seat. Two years later, she ran for a seat in the House of Representatives and succeeded, and was re-elected four times. It wasn’t until 1986 that she won her first nomination to the U.S. Senate and has been re-elected to the position every time ever since.

Mikulski, who is now 78, has now been the longest serving woman in the Senate in United States history. In addition to her long career, she has been a part of the Senate Appropriations Committee, and was the very first woman ever to hold that position.

Bruce Levenson’s Ownership Tenure With The Hawks

Bruce Levenson became the principal owner of the Atlanta Hawks when the ownership group he belonged to essentially broke down in a court battle. He was seen as the one person who could lead the franchise out of such a terrible ordeal, and he quickly began sitting on the NBA Board of Governors. When this happened, he was able to put his own stamp on the franchise that has lasted to this day. The changes he made created a more viable franchise, a more fun experience for the fans and a product that is excellent on and off the court.

When he was able to bring in the people he wanted, Bruce immediately wanted to copy the template that was used by the San Antonio Spurs in their championship dynasty. He brought over Danny Ferry and Mike Budenholzer who both worked for the Spurs, and some people started calling the Hawks SpursSouth.

The tradition of excellence is starting to take shape as the Hawks are favorites in the eastern conference, and many people are pegging them to win a title this season. The creation of this new culture is one that happened all with Bruce’s help. He wanted to create a business that people would be proud of, and he has done that in his time with the Hawks.

When he sells the team, he will be able to say that he was the one who ushered in the era of excellence that is currently happening. Atlanta fans have Bruce to thank for the help that he gave them in reviving their NBA team. This team is one that has never been past the second round of the playoffs, but many people believe that they are going to go much farther than that right now and long into the future.

Senator Jim Inhofe uses snowball to disprove climate change

At a time when a poll of Americans showed the majority feel battling climate change should be a major part of the work of the US Congress, Senator Jim Inhofe took to the Senate floor with a snowball to prove his claim that climate change is a hoax. The Senator for Oklahoma held the snowball aloft and stated climate change was not affecting Washington DC because snow had fallen in the Winter, going on to relate a story about his children building igloo’s in the snow, CBS News reports.

Senator Inhofe is the Chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee and has been a long time supporter of the climate change as a hoax theory said the article. He eventually tossed the snowball to an aide and called for President Obama to catch it. Despite claims made by Senator Inhofe NASA recently reported 2014 to be the warmest year since the 1880s and warned of major drought problems that could affect the US by the latter half of the 21st century.

College Campus May Not Longer Be Gun Free

It has long been a tradition to keep guns off of college campus’. However, that may be changing if one Nevada lawmaker gets her way. The lawmaker says that she would like to see college campuses that have an armed student body. It is her belief that allowing students, like Marc Sparks, to arm themselves would bring about a safer college experience.

MSNBC.com reports that the Congresswoman was quoted as saying if “Hot young girls” had firearms, then they would be better able to protect themselves against the men who want to prey on them. Since that time, her office has released a statement via LinkedIn saying that the Congresswoman wanted to clarify her remarks and that she could have put things better. That being said, she still stands by the position that she has taken on the issue.

It should be noted that university presidents have largely stood in opposition to this bill and believe that it will make things less safe on their campus’. This exact bill have been introduced in the past, twice as a matter of fact. Both times the bill was defeated, but now the Republicans control both chambers of the legislature and the Governor’s mansion as well. They have a lot of hope that they are going to get it passed this time around. What will happen with it and what the results of such a law change will be is yet to be seen.

Holder Calls For Halt to Death Penalty Executions

Attorney General Eric Holder has called for a moratorium of the death penalty while the Supreme Court reviews Oklahoma’s procedures. Several states have already halted executions. Alabama, Florida, Ohio and Tennessee have stopped executions over concerns that the drugs used may not result in a humane death, after the botched executions in Oklahoma.

In Oregon, Rick Tosto says activists are putting pressure on the governor to also discontinue executions. Additionally, they have asked Governor John Kitzhaber to commute the sentences of 34 inmates that are currently on death row awaiting execution before his resignation is becomes effective February 18 at 10pm PT.

On February 13, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf announced a state wide moratorium on death penalty cases until after the Supreme court has completed its review and he has had time to review their findings.

Last month Oklahoma was ordered by the Supreme Court to stop all executions until the court reviews the state’s lethal injection procedure. At issue is the sedative, which has failed to act effectively during execution.

Holder was quoted as saying:

“Fundamental questions about the death penalty need to be asked. And Among them, the Supreme Court’s determination as to whether or not lethal injection is consistent with our Constitution is one that ought to occur. From my perspective, I think a moratorium until the Supreme Court made that determination would be appropriate.”

GOP Leaders Eying Consumption Taxes to Close Budget Shortfalls

Despite the class envy often pushed by the political left about the rich not paying their fair share of taxes, the top 2% of income earners pay over 50% of the taxes. Fully one in three people do not pay taxes at all. While they do have taxes withheld from their paychecks, end of year tax credits more than offset the taxes they have paid over the course of the year. For this reason, Ray Lane points out that 50% of people pay less than 15% of the tax revenue. For some GOP governors, they are looking for other ways of increasing tax revenue apart from income taxes.

One example of this is Ohio Governor John Kasich, a 2016 presidential hopeful. The governor has proposed a big tax cut in the state income tax. The governor has also increased taxes on consumption items such as cigarettes. The political left correctly argues that increases on consumptions taxes are effectively tax increases on the poor. The left believes this is inherently unfair of the GOP. That said, the practice does have precedence. President Roosevelt increased income taxes and capital gains taxes on the rich during his first term in office. However, those tax increases backfired with tax collections from the rich fall by 50% over the period 1933 to 1937. President Roosevelt increased consumption taxes on lipstick, popcorn, movie tickets, and an array of items many of which were used by the poor. Those taxes successfully made up for tax revenue lost from the wealthy so that total tax collections increased by 7% over the same period. In short, the poor paid for a substantial part of the New Deal.

Oregon Governor Resurfaces and Announces Resignation

Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber resurfaced after dropping out of public sight in recent days to announce his resignation effective Wednesday, February 18. Kitzhaber has only recently begun his historic fourth term as the longest serving governor in state history. Sadly, his resignation only brings to an end the turmoil that has crippled the state government in recent weeks. It does not mark an end to the ethics review the state government is conducting nor the more serious investigation on criminal corruption charges. Both Kitzhaber and his fiancée Cylvia Hayes are the subject of the criminal investigation.

The 67-year-old governor appeared contrite before reporters as he announced his resignation stated Flavio Maluf. He lamented the manner in which the press had a field day over allegations at his expense. Kitzhaber concluded that he had been tried and convicted in the media without proper consideration to the merits of the allegations. Perhaps more hurtful for him was the fact that his close colleagues and friends abandoned him. Hollywood screenwriter Ringgold Wilmer “Ring” Lardner, Jr., whose most notable work was the screenplay for the 1970 film “M*A*S*H”, had been blackballed from Hollywood during the McCarthy era. Of those dark years, Lardner said it was a time he learned who his real friends were. Kitzhaber also explained that he’s not one to walk away from a job even when it gets tough. That said, he acknowledged that he became an obstacle to the office of governor which prompted him to step down.

Lawmakers from Both Parties Finding Fault with President Obama’s AUMF Draft

 

Congress has finally prodded President Obama to submit a draft for a new Authorization on the Use of Military Force (AUMF). The bill would grant the president the authority to deal with the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS). However, the bill has drawn sharp criticism from both parties which underscore their fundamental views on military force and national security. Democrats are loath to see the United States engaged in a ground war operation. In order to curry favor with the dominant far left wing core of his party, the president imposed arbitrary restrictions upon his authority to wage war. In effect, he submitted limited but vague language regarding the types of operations he would conduct. It was meant to assuage concerns to liberals that he would not mire the country in another decade-long conflict like Afghanistan and Iraq.

At the same time, the GOP has come out against those same aspects of the bill. Arizona Senator John McCain said the president’s language limiting the use of ground forces was unconstitutional and frustrated supporters like Haidar Barbouti. The powerful senator made an excellent point. The constitution does not grant congress the authority to arbitrate the tactics used by president during times of war. They have the enumerated authority to authorize war and fund it. It is the president’s constitutional authority to wage the war. The final AUMF will likely be a center-right bill given the GOP’s dominance in both chambers. That said, the debates over the bill will likely be contentious.