This is Sunshine Week, the week where we celebrate government transparency and our “right to know.” But over the last eight years the clouds have crept in, and they’re showing no sign of going anywhere.
Former President Barack Obama failed to deliver on his campaign promise of being the “most transparent administration” ever, and ran up a bill in doing so.
The Associated Press reported Tuesday that the Obama administration spent a record $36.2 million in its final year on legal costs related to refusals to turn over federal documents under the Freedom of Information Law (FOIL). Not only is that fiscally absurd, it’s also a slap in the face to those who actually believed Obama would follow through on his transparency promises.
On top of running up the legal fees, the Obama administration also set a record for the number of denied FOIL requests. The administration also told journalists and citizens it couldn’t find the requested documents more times in 2016 than ever before.
C-SPAN recently released the 2017 Presidential Historian Survey, in which a group of presidential historians rank all previous presidents from best to worst. President Obama did extremely well, coming in as the 12th best president of all time. Obama was commended for his handling of the economy, public persuasion, and (the most unsettling reason) his moral authority. Survey respondents seemed to have overlooked a simple fact, though, which should shatter any image of moral authority from the Obama tenure in office: his destructive and inhumane foreign policy.
Obama’s record on warfare is, frankly, abysmal. It’s particularly galling considering that he was awarded a Nobel Peace Prize in 2009. In 2016 alone, the Obama administration dropped over 26,000 bombs on seven different countries; that’s three bombs every hour. The campaign in Libya destabilized the country in a vein similar to the US invasion of Iraq. He killed a 16 year-old American citizen living in Yemen, and recently increased US involvement in the Yemeni civil war — a war that is starving the country’s citizens. And there is significant skepticism that his administration came even close to telling the truth about the amount of civilians killed in drone strikes over the last eight years.
This does not sound, at all, like a president that retained any semblance of moral authority. To the group’s credit, they gave him “below-average” marks in international relations. It seems like a generous standard, though, for an administration that had a secret “kill list” and caused foreign teenagers to dream about their own deaths by drone strikes.
Continue reading at The Libertarian Institute.
As a presidential candidate, Donald Trump successfully tapped into voters’ frustration about the country’s broken immigration system. While it is still unclear how the president-elect will resolve the issue, immigration opponents are pressing him to consider repealing the Obama administration’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy that enables many migrants to become productive economic players. Giving into these pleas to use executive fiat will further marginalize the important role of the legislative branch. Instead, Trump should utilize his deal-making skills to work with Congress on a more comprehensive immigration reform.
Enacted in 2012, DACA permits children of undocumented parents to work and study in the U.S. on a temporary basis. DACA also stayed the deportation of those who benefit from the DREAM Act, a law providing conditional residency for immigrants with no felony convictions or significant misdemeanors who are enrolled in school, graduated from high school, or are enlisted in the military.
With Trump’s election, DREAMers are afraid that the policy that offered them the opportunity to achieve their dreams in their new homeland could soon be overturned. Take the case of Diana Chacon, a DACA recipient originally from Lima, Peru, who is studying in college with hopes of attending law school. “DACA changed my life,” Chacon recalls. “It allowed me to be involved in school more, spend more time doing my class work assignments, spend more time applying for programs, and just get involved in my community in general.”
Continue reading at The Greenville News.
Politico recently ran a piece by Bill Scher on the 1980s miniseries Amerika, a program that depicted a Soviet puppet government installed in the US “after a sham election in which both major party candidates were Soviet stooges.” Scher’s dystopian piece compares Amerika to the election of Donald Trump, hysterically rhapsodizing about “American conservatives with a nationalist, and even authoritarian, bent like Donald Trump [who] are not unnerved by the prospect of Russian influence over the U.S. government.”
Scher’s hysterical tone conveys exactly what the highly distrusted left-media means it to, namely that Trump is an illegitimate aberration whose every move must be thwarted. The fourth estate recoils at the effectiveness of Trump’s Twitter bully pulpit, and recognizes that the formerly dominant “media gatekeepers” might soon be settling into a diminished role. Despite the fact that Obama is the one who doggedly pursued media whistleblowers, Trump’s non-cooperation with news outlets who despise him—ditching the press pool time and again—has been labeled “a dangerous precedent.”
Astute observers will recognize that the controversy about Russian meddling in the election has more in common with Wag the Dog, a film in which the president’s PR men fabricate a foreign policy crisis as a means of distracting from the commander-in-chief’s sex scandal, than it does with Amerika.
Of late, Barack Obama has done his damnedest to politicize the intelligence community and escalate tensions with Russia to distract from this conclusion from the Intelligence Community Assessment on Russian hacking: “DHS assesses that the types of systems Russian actors targeted or compromised were not involved in vote tallying.” The left-wing calumny that Russia changed the results of the election simply can’t be substantiated.
Continue reading at Townhall.
After Trump’s surprise upset victory last week, it is clear that the United States will soon have a president who does not support the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). Unfortunately, the Obama administration recently said that it is giving up on passing TPP in the lame duck session, citing a lack of congressional support. This would be a mistake, and Congress should use the time it has with a pro-TPP president to ratify the trade deal.
Some have argued that no matter what rhetoric a presidential candidate uses on the stump, every president since FDR was forced to bow to the overwhelming consensus among economic experts that trade is good for the economy. While this is cause for optimism, we may not have time to wait for our next president to come around on trade.
A study released by White House economists this month found that Pacific Rim countries are hoping the U.S. decides to pass TPP, but will turn to China as an alternative if it looks like the deal won’t pass. Already, several countries involved in TPP are looking to the Chinese-led Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), a competing trade deal in the region. While some countries intended to join both, allowing TPP to flounder while the RCEP gains strength could be devastating for U.S. economic and foreign policy goals.
Continue reading at Real Clear Policy.