Saturday, June 29, 2013

Future of GOP may depend on immigration reform

The immigration reform bill is headed to the House of Representatives and an uncertain future. The Senate passed the bill overwhelmingly on Thursday with a 68-32 vote. Fourteen Republican senators joined the entire Democratic caucus to pass the bill.

The immigration reform bill is likely to face strong Republican opposition in the House, but many conservatives argue that passage of the bill will be a boon to Republicans. As previously reported by Examiner, Republicans lost an embarrassing percentage of the Hispanic and Asian vote in 2008 and 2012. The GOP won only 31 percent of the Hispanic vote in 2008 and did even worse in 2012 with 27 percent. Likewise, the percentage of Asians voting for the GOP declined from 35 percent in 2008 to 26 percent in 2012.

It wasn’t always this way. As recently as 2004, George W. Bush won 44 percent of the Hispanic vote and 43 percent of Asians according to exit polls from the Roper Center. In 2000, Bush won 35 and 41 percent of those groups respectively. Bob Dole in 1996 won 21 percent of Hispanics and 48 percent of Asians. George H.W. Bush won 25 percent of Hispanics and 55 percent of Asians in 1992 and 30 percent of Hispanics in 1988. The fluidity of these statistics indicates that other minority groups are far less solid in their support of Democrats than are blacks, who only voted less than 90 percent Democrat in 1992 when Ross Perot split the vote.

At the same time, the number of white voters as a percentage of the electorate has been declining. In 1988, 85 percent of voters were white. By 2004, the number had declined to 77 percent. In 2008, the percentage of white voters fell to 74 percent and, in 2012, reached an all-time low of 72 percent.

It should be noted that Republican support from Hispanics peaked in 2004 after George W. Bush proposed an immigration reform bill. It should also be noted that Republican support from Hispanics cratered after Mitt Romney proposed “self-deportation” of illegal aliens, an idea that may have cost him the election according to Forbes.

It is obvious from these statistics that in order to survive the Republican Party must do better to reach out to minorities. It would be difficult for any GOP candidate to do better than among white voters than the 59 percent won by Romney, but it is not longer good enough to do well among white voters.

This does not mean that Republicans should adopt Democratic positions on issues such as affirmative action or compromise their principles. Republican principles work to better the nation as a whole and would be beneficial to everyone, but in order to get this message across Republicans first need to gain credibility with minorities.

Protecting an obviously broken immigration system or espousing a no-mercy system of deportation are not good ways to gain credibility as Mitt Romney learned. To the contrary, the GOP may start losing support from farmers and businessmen who depend on immigrant labor if the party shuts off the supply of illegal workers without replacing it with legal ones. When Georgia passed a strict immigration law two years ago, it led to shortages of farm workers that left crops rotting in the fields.

Good immigration reform should be tough, but fair. Fairness does not include eliminating any possibility of forgiveness for illegal immigrants who came to this country years ago, often as children, and have no other country to go back to. Many others have children who were born in this country and are U.S. citizens. Splitting families up through deportation would not help Republicans at the polls.

According to the U.S. Code, “improper entry by an alien” is a civil infraction punishable by “not more than six months” in jail or fined “at least $50 but not more than $250.” In contrast, according to How Stuff Works, the average U.S. fine for speeding, another often committed infraction, is $150. Should illegal aliens forego all possibility of citizenship ex post facto for such a trivial crime? Eighty-seven percent of Americans say no according to a June 19 Gallup poll. Even 86 percent of Republicans agree.

By agreeing to common sense immigration reform, including enhanced border security, the Republican Party would remove a prime roadblock towards reaching out to minorities. To the contrary, Republicans in Congress could hold out and scuttle a bipartisan agreement that even 86 percent of their own party favors. What would be the result? Republican immigration foes might prevent the current generation of illegals from voting, but they won’t prevent their children who are native U.S. citizens from doing so. If the next generation sees Republicans as racist and unfair, people who don’t want them in the country, then they will most assuredly vote Democrat.

The most likely result would be that President Obama would use his executive powers to grant a de facto amnesty as he did last summer when, five months before the election, he unilaterally announced that the federal government would halt deportation of illegal immigrants who entered the country as children and canceled federal law enforcement agreements with Arizona. Obama has made broad use of executive authority, recently announcing a plan to regulate carbon by decree since Congress has not passed cap-and-trade. He would not shrink from doing the same thing with immigration.

The Democrats would also be certain to pass an amnesty bill if they regain control of Congress. The Democrats failed to address immigration when they controlled all of Congress from 2009 through 2011. They will not make the same mistake twice and a Democratic bill would definitely not include border security provisions craved by conservatives. A Democratic amnesty would ensure that Hispanics would become a permanent Democratic voting bloc.

Perhaps the biggest beneficiaries of an immigration compromise would be Republican presidential candidates in 2016. If the immigration issue is settled prior to the campaign, GOP contenders will not have to balance between the hardliners on the party’s right and moderates in the rest of the country. If Mitt Romney had favored reform, he might have won the general election, but would probably have lost the nomination.

Compromising on immigration reform is not a sure path to minority votes for Republicans. Party members and elected officials will still have to reach out to members of minority groups and show up at events in their neighborhoods. It will, however, remove a major obstacle that prevents minorities from being open to other Republican ideas and principles. The alternative is to stand in the way of a tsunami of public opinion.

Originally published on National Elections Examiner

Thursday, June 27, 2013

What’s next for defenders of marriage?

gaymarriageWednesday’s Supreme Court rulings on marriage, while hardly unexpected by most traditional marriage advocates, have nonetheless left social conservatives disappointed. For supporters of traditional marriage, the saving grace of the rulings was that they did not apply to the 35 states with definition of marriage laws or constitutional amendments.

That situation is likely to change. If, as Justice Kennedy wrote in United States v. Windsor, a traditional marriage definition “violates basic due process and equal protection principles” then it is likely that future Supreme Court rulings will invalidate the right of the states to keep marriage between a man and a woman. This may come through a direct challenge to a state constitutional marriage amendment or through the Constitution’s Full Faith and Credit Clause, which requires that states respect “the public acts, records, and judicial proceedings of every other state.” Barring a change in the balance of the Court, it is likely that the justices will continue to chip away at traditional marriage.

One possible response to the rulings would be to give up and move on. Polling shows substantial movement toward acceptance of gay marriage in recent years. A CNN/ORC poll from June 11-13 shows that 55 percent of Americans now believe that same-sex marriage should be recognized as valid with 44 percent opposed. Ten years ago, 55 percent opposed same-sex marriage and 39 percent approved. Much of the change has come since Barack Obama was elected president.

Public opinion is not static, however, and the stakes are high. A 2012 study reported in Examiner found that the instability of gay families is more likely to cause children to experience depression, substance abuse, delinquency, sexual abuse, and a variety of other problems. Studies from Europe’s experience with gay marriage show that childbearing has become increasingly separated from marriage in those countries. This leads to more entitlements and government debt. Likewise, the cost of Social Security and benefit payments for gay partners cannot be accurately calculated, but may well be greater than the additional tax revenues the government will receive.

On another social issue, public opinion has reversed in recent years. In 2009, for the first time in more than a decade, more Americans considered themselves to be pro-life than pro-choice according to Gallup. A Gallup poll from May 2013, found that 48 percent of the country is pro-life and 45 percent pro-choice. As recently as 1995, pro-choice Americans had outnumbered pro-lifers by 23 percentage points (56 to 33 percent).

Even though Roe v. Wade still stands, states can tighten restrictions on abortion incrementally. Many states prohibit late term abortions and some states have effectively regulated abortion clinics out of business. No such incremental restriction would be likely if the Supreme Court decrees that gay marriage is the law of the land, so what logical course, other than voting for politicians who will appoint judges friendly to traditional marriage, can marriage supporters take?

Since definition of marriage statutes have proven less resilient than amendments, gay marriage proponents will likely target those states with lawsuits or attempt to pass their own legislation. Marriage supporters are also likely to attempt to pass additional definition of marriage amendments, even though state constitutions are vulnerable to federal judges.

A more permanent solution might be to resurrect the idea of a federal marriage amendment. An amendment to the Constitution defining marriage was attempted in the past, but failed. On June 26, Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R-Kan.) announced his intention to reintroduce an amendment preserving traditional marriage.

According to the Constitution, an amendment must be passed by a two-thirds vote of both the houses of Congress. This would require 288 votes in the House and 67 votes in the Senate. Currently the GOP controls the House with 234 seats, 54 short of the necessary majority. If the amendment passes the House, it is unlikely to succeed in the Senate where Democrats hold the majority. A Constitutional amendment does not have to be signed by the president.

The Constitution does provide an alternate means of proposing an amendment. Two-thirds of the states, 30 legislatures, can call a constitutional convention. This method has never been used to amend the Constitution.

In either case, the proposed amendment must be ratified by three-fourths of the states to become law. This would require acceptance of the new amendment by 38 of the 50 states, a number very close to the number of states that already have marriage laws. With changing attitudes towards same-sex marriage, the outcome of an attempt to amend the Constitution could easily go either way, but the difficulty in amending the Constitution (there have been only 27 amendments in more than 200 years, the last in 1992) favors gay marriage advocates.

In Georgia, where a definition of marriage amendment passed with more than 70 percent of the vote in 2004, there is still strong support for traditional marriage. A Public Policy poll from December 2012 found that 65 percent of Georgians opposed same-sex marriage.

Although this week bore good news and celebrations for supporters of gay marriage, the issue is not yet decided for the majority of the country. The fight will almost certainly continue for both sides for years.

Originally published by National Elections Examiner

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Racial divide may shore up Obama approval

A new poll by Gallup illustrates the large opinion divide between whites and minorities and may help explain why President Obama’s job approval remains high in spite of a spate of recent scandals. Even though his administration has been buffeted by a series of scandals over the past few months including questions about Benghazi, IRS abuse of conservative groups, spying on reporters, telephone and computer surveillance of Americans, and the revelation that the Affordable Care Act, President Obama’s signature piece of legislation, is driving up insurance prices. In spite of the scandals, President Obama still has a 47 percent approval rating according to Gallup (44 percent disapprove).

A new Gallup poll released today shows that the president’s support is concentrated among minorities, who are also more confident in most American institutions. The poll compares the confidence of non-Hispanic white adults with those of Hispanics and blacks. The sharpest difference between the two groups was their confidence in the presidency. Fifty-four percent of nonwhites had confidence in the presidency compared with 29 percent of whites, a difference of 25 percentage points.

By double-digit margins, nonwhites also had more confidence in television news, Congress and newspapers. By smaller margins, they also were more confident in nine other categories that ranged from the church to unions to banks and “big business.”

There were three categories in which the confidence of whites exceeded that of minorities. These categories included small business (69-52 percent) and the police (60-48 percent). There was also strong support for the military (79-72 percent) from a broad cross section of Americans.

The poll notes that much minority confidence in the presidency is likely due to the fact that Barack Obama is the nation’s first black president. This is borne out when Hispanic and black attitudes are compared. Seventy-one percent of blacks were confident in the presidency compared to only 44 percent of Hispanics. While President Obama’s support among blacks remains high, it is sharply lower than the 93 percent he received in the 2012 election according to an Examiner analysis of exit polls. Obama received 73 percent of the Hispanic vote in 2012.

Over the past few years, nonwhites have become more confident in many institutions of government while whites have lost confidence. In a 2004-2006 poll, whites were more confident in the presidency by a margin of 47-32 percent. Gallup points out that part of the disparity can be explained by the fact that Obama is Democrat and minorities tend to favor Democrats.

There is some good news for Republicans in the poll in the decline in confidence in the presidency over Obama’s 2012 vote share. The problem for Republicans is how a party that is perceived to be dominated by whites can appeal to disaffected minorities.

The poll is an aggregate of interviews conducted in June 2011, 2012, and 2013 so the full impact of the recent scandals may not be taken into account.

Originally published on

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

United States of Obama pledge of allegiance

This new pledge of allegiance is the companion piece to the new, abridged, Obama Constitution.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Obama Big Brother poster

Sales of George Orwell's classic novel "1984" have skyrocketed since knowledge of the NSA's eavesdropping programs became widespread.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Collection of blood samples at roadblocks ires Alabamans

Drivers in Alabama over the weekend were concerned as rumors of sporadic roadblocks spread through northeastern Alabama. According to the rumors, which spread quickly on Facebook and other social media, the roadblocks were manned by local law enforcement and agents of the Department of Homeland Security who were collecting DNA samples from drivers.

The rumor seemed to be confirmed by law enforcement officials on the Alabama news site, The report said that law enforcement authorities in St. Clair and Bibb counties had confirmed that the roadblocks took place as part of a research study by the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation.

Lt. Freddie Turrentine of the St. Clair County Sheriff’s Department told that the roadblocks were positioned at several locations around the county from Friday through Sunday. Off duty deputies would stop cars and ask for participation in the voluntary and paid survey. Turrentine said that signs at the roadblocks clearly stated that participation was voluntary and for pay. Drivers were offered $10 for a mouth swab and $50 for a blood test. Those who refused were not detained, Turrentine said, even though social media reports had indicated otherwise.

A report on Birmingham’s ABC 33/40 quoted Erika Skeivlas, a driver who participated in the survey. Skeivlas said that researchers swabbed her mouth and took a blood sample after asking her a few questions from an iPad. Skeivlas said, “Basically they were asking how much over the counter or prescription medication you take? How many times a day do you take it? Do you drink alcohol? Do you drive after drinking?”

Skeivlas said that she was given a paper stating that the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation was conducting the survey which was funded by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to “better understand impaired driving on our nation's roadways.” There was no indication that the Department of Homeland Security was involved in any way.

Jose Ucles, a spokesman for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, told on Sunday that the researchers did not collect DNA, but were testing the volunteer drivers for over-the-counter, prescription, and illegal drugs as well as checking the driver’s blood alcohol content. The results of the tests were kept anonymous and not relayed to law enforcement.

The roadblocks were part of a major driver impairment study at 60 different locations within the country. Previous studies were done in 1973, 1986, 1996 and 2007. Lt. Turrentine confirmed that St. Clair County had also participated in the 2007 study.

Diane Williams, the Pacific Institute’s communications officer, confirmed to Examiner that no DNA samples were taken at the roadblocks. John Lacey, the researcher responsible for the study was not immediately available for comment.

Originally published on Atlanta Conservative Examiner

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Verizon phone records are different from IRS scandal

This week’s revelations of widespread data gathering by the federal government have shocked many Americans.  Coming on the heels of the recent scandals about Justice Department spying on reporters and IRS agents harassing political opponents, the new information about America’s intelligence gathering activities have drawn widespread opposition and indignation.  There are important differences between the activities of the National Security Agency and the other scandals, however.

On Wednesday, leaked court documents demanding that Verizon turn over phone records to the federal government sparked an uproar over the NSA’s phone surveillance program.  On Friday, James Clapper, the director of national intelligence, released more details about the program.  Reported by the Associated Press, Clapper noted the program, which presumably includes other companies as well as Verizon, is reviewed every 90 days and the government is prohibited from indiscriminately examining the records of Americans.  The information obtained by the NSA does not contain the content of the calls, but only “metadata” such as the phone numbers involved, time, location, and duration of the call.

On Friday, the Washington Post also published leaked reports of PRISM, a secret program that analyzes internet traffic in a manner similar to the NSA’s examination of phone records.  According to the leaked documents, “e-mail, chat, videos, photos, stored data, VoIP, file transfers, video conferencing, notifications of target activity...log-ins, etc., online social networking details” were available from major internet companies.  A CNET analysis of the PRISM documents indicates that it is theoretically possible that the government has been reading private emails of American citizens.

Even though the amount of information collected by the NSA and PRISM is staggering, there is so far no evidence that it has been used to spy on Americans or intrude on their privacy.  Instead, it seems that the federal government has been engaged in a process called “data mining.”  Data mining is the use of computer programs to discover hidden patterns in data.  Private companies frequently use data mining to target advertisements to likely customers.  Cookies on websites and tracking software collect information about internet users, which is then sold to internet advertisers.  Computer programs can even “read” your emails to target ads to your screen.  Similar programs might be used to block suspicious credit card transactions based on the user’s past history. 

While the NSA is not interested in selling anything to Americans, it is presumably interested in suspicious contacts between the United States and known terrorists in other countries.  On Thursday, Mike Rogers (R-Mich.), chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, told Politico that “Within the last few years, this program was used to stop a terrorist attack in the United States.”  Rogers added, “It is a very valuable thing. It is legal.”

Rogers appears to be correct.  Both programs appear to be legal if they were implemented properly.  In 1979, the Supreme Court ruled in Smith v. Maryland that telephone users have no expectation of privacy with regard to telephone numbers dialed because telephone companies regularly track such information.  Likewise, CNET points out that the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 2008 and the Protect America Act of 2007 permit intelligence gathering of internet data.  The Protect America Act is limited to people “reasonably believed to be located outside of the United States” (Section 105A) and the Section 702 of the FISA Act clarifies that U.S. citizens or people within the United States cannot be targeted. 

On Friday, President Obama defended the NSA programs, saying, “Nobody is listening to your telephone calls.” In a PBS transcript, Obama continued, “By sifting through this so-called metadata, they may identify potential leads with respect to folks who might engage in terrorism. Now, with respect to the Internet and e-mails, this doesn't apply to U.S. citizens, and it doesn't apply to people living in the United States.” 

In a separate speech on Friday, transcribed by NBC Bay Area, Obama noted that “ if people can't trust not only the executive branch but also don't trust Congress and don't trust federal judges to make sure that we’re abiding by the Constitution, due process and rule of law, then we’re going to have some problems here.

The other scandals of the Obama Administration have worked to diminish public trust in government, however.  Even before the recent scandals, Pew showed public trust in government at all-time low levels.  The reports of systematic abuses of power against the president’s political opponents (summary on and spying on reporters have only heightened the crisis of confidence in the federal government.   A June 5 Rasmussen poll showed that an unprecedented 56 percent of Americans view the federal government as a threat to individual rights.  Even normally trusted agencies such as the FBI have been implicated in the Obama Administration’s apparent suppression of conservative groups.   Even the New York Times said Thursday that “The administration has now lost all credibility on this issue. Mr. Obama is proving the truism that the executive branch will use any power it is given and very likely abuse it.

Unlike the data mining by the NSA, the allegations against Obama Administration in the IRS and DOJ media spying scandals include the specific targeting of American citizens.  The IRS has admitted that it specifically targeted conservative groups and an investigation by McClatchy News confirmed that no liberal or nonpartisan groups received unfair treatment.  Several IRS employees have said that their scrutiny and harassment of conservative groups was directed by IRS officials in Washington according to the Associated Press.  Likewise, Attorney General Holder personally approved the warrant for surveillance of Fox News reporter James Rosen according to MSNBC.  Unlike the NSA surveillance, which was apparently a legitimate program directed at foreign terrorists, the IRS and Justice Department programs were specifically directed at Americans and apparently had political motives.

The NSA’s surveillance programs are not new.  They have been public knowledge since 2005 when the New York Times published an account of the program.  However, the programs are likely viewed with more concern by many Americans due to the recent reports of spying and abuses of power against American citizens.  If the IRS and DOJ could illegally target Americans for political purposes, many are concerned that NSA data might be used for the same reason.  
Originally published on

Thursday, June 6, 2013

TSA says no knives on airliners after all

The Transportation Security Administration announced on Wednesday that it was reversing its previous decision to allow small knives and other previously prohibited items to be carried on airline flights. In March, the TSA had announced that it would allow airline passengers to carry small folding knives with blades less than 2.36 inches long and less than half an inch wide in carryon baggage. Sporting equipment such as golf clubs, hockey and lacrosse sticks and miniature baseball bats would also have been allowed.

The items have been prohibited from carryon baggage since the September 11 attacks. The TSA focus on knives and small, sharp objects led some to joke that the agency’s acronym stood for “taking scissors away.”

The proposed changes were part of move by the TSA to transition toward risk-based security initiatives which recognize that the majority of airline passengers do not pose a risk, even if they carry a knife or hockey stick. Risk-based security focuses on determining which passengers pose a greater risk through behavior analysis, interviewing, and screening out low-risk passengers through additional information provided voluntarily through programs like Pre-check and Clear.

Even though risk-based screening has a proven history in Israel, the technique has sparked criticism in the United States. According to a USA Today report, a Homeland Security inspector general cited problems with assessing the effectiveness of risk-based screening and the lack of a comprehensive training program. Critics have also alleged that the system amounts to racial profiling.

The proposed changes to the prohibited items list drew opposition from a wide range of groups. 133 members of Congress, primarily Democrats, wrote to TSA administrator John Pistole to oppose the change. Flight attendants, air marshals, and other law enforcement officials also opposed the new rule.

Airline travelers can find a comprehensive list of acceptable items for both carryon and checked baggage on the TSA website. As a general rule, knives and other items that are considered weapons are permitted only in checked baggage. Chemicals and flammable items may not be permitted at all. When in doubt, travelers should also contact their airline.

See the 10 dumbest things people try to get through airport security.

Originally published on Examiner:

Monday, June 3, 2013

Listen live as solar airplane crosses U.S.

The Solar Impulse, a solar powered airplane that Swiss pilots Bertrand Piccard and Andre’ Borschberg hope to fly around the world without using fuel, is crossing the United States. The airplane is flying today from Dallas to St. Louis using only the energy of the sun for propulsion. The flight can be watched live on the internet at the The team plans to land in St. Louis in the early morning hours of June 4.

The plane was disassembled and transported to Moffet field in Mountain View, Calif. earlier this year. From California, the Solar Impulse began its journey across America on May 4. The first leg consisted of a flight from Moffet field to Phoenix Sky Harbor airport in Arizona, a distance of approximately 550 nautical miles. The Solar Impulse made the trip in 18 hours and 18 minutes for an average speed of about 40 miles per hour. The average altitude was 10,000 feet, but the plane flew as high as 21,000 feet on its trip to Phoenix. The 18 hour 21 minute leg from Phoenix to Dallas took place on May 22.

The Solar Impulse is powered by 12,000 solar cells that are built into the wings. The solar cells power four 10 horsepower electric motors. Because the solar cells also charge the Solar Impulse’s lithium batteries, the airplane can also flight at night or in cloudy weather. To make the Solar Impulse a reality, the team had to make advancements on lightweight solar energy technology, batteries, and decrease the necessary weight of the airplane as well. The Solar Impulse website contains many details about the aircraft itself.

Because of the long and slender structure of the wings and fuselage, the Solar Impulse is very vulnerable to high winds and turbulence. The team typically tries to take off and land and night to minimize exposure to turbulence. The recent severe weather and tornadoes in the Midwest have led the decision to park the airplane in an inflatable hangar during its stay in St. Louis for protection.

The current Solar Impulse, the HB-SIA, will be replaced by the HB-SIB for an attempted flight around the world in 2015. The HB-SIB will have several improvements over the HB-SIA. Performance will be better and there will be a larger cockpit to accommodate the pilot for flights lasting several days. The HB-SIA has already set three world records for maximum altitude (30,298 feet/9,235 meters), gain in altitude (28,687 feet/8,744 meters), and maximum duration (26 hours 10 minutes 19 seconds).

The founders of the Solar Impulse program are Bertrand Piccard and Andre Borschberg. The two Swiss pilots have worked on the program for more than a decade. Piccard is a psychiatrist by profession, while Borschberg is a mechanical engineer.

Originally published on Aviation Examiner

IRS and press harassment similar to other Obama scandals

The Obama Administration has become embroiled in three simultaneous scandals over the past few weeks. Much speculation has been made about what President Obama knew and when he knew it. Regardless of whether President Obama gave the order or had personal knowledge of spying on reporters or the harassment of conservative groups, the charges are well within the character of an administration well known for executive overreach and disregard for the law. The Obama administration has been hallmarked by disregard for the rule of law since its early days.

In the spring of 2009, the Obama Administration ignored established bankruptcy law to cast aside secured creditors of Chrysler and GM in favor of unsecured but better connected creditors such as the United Auto Workers pension according to National Affairs. Creditors were denied their right to have input on the company reorganizations through a sub rosa plan in which the assets of “old” Chrysler and GM were “sold” to “new” Chrysler and GM, bypassing creditors in the process. When some investors stood up for their rights, President Obama attacked them as “speculators” in a speech at Chrysler.

The closing of dealerships in the aftermath of the auto bankruptcies fueled speculation and rumors that the Obama Administration was using the auto bankruptcies to target political opponents. The Washington Examiner pointed out at the time that dealers on the list of closures had donated millions to Republicans, but only $200 to Obama. The list of closures seems to have been dictated by Steve Rattner, President Obama’s “car czar.”

On the heels of the auto bankruptcies came “Fast and Furious.” In the spring and summer of 2009, Democrats from Secretary of State Clinton to Sen. Diane Feinstein (D-Calif.) claimed that 90 percent of the guns used in Mexican crimes came from the United States. While claim is not accurate, thousands of the guns that actually did get to Mexico from the United States apparently were allowed across the border by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (BATFE). Whistleblowers later told Congress that they had orders to let smugglers take illegally purchased guns across the border into Mexico. As Examiner reported in 2011, several of the illegal weapons were found at the scene of the murder of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry on December 15, 2010. The guns turned up at numerous other crime scenes in Mexico as well. In 2011, another American officer, Jaime Zapata, was murdered in Mexico with a gun that had been tracked by the ATF according to CBS News. The Mexican government was not pleased with the revelations that the Obama Administration allowed thousands of illegal guns into their country.

After the BP oil spill in 2010, President Obama issued a unilateral moratorium on deepwater drilling. When a court ruled that the drill ban was unconstitutional, the Department of Interior still refused to issue new drilling permits. This led a federal judge to hold the Obama Administration in contempt of court for its “determined disregard” for its continued drilling restrictions.

In the spring of 2011, after dithering for months, President Obama approved U.S. intervention in the Libyan civil war. Obama notified Congress within 48 hours as required by the War Powers Act, but neglected to seek congressional approval within 60 days. Obama also failed to end American involvement within 30 days of the deadline for seeking congressional approval as required. The N.Y. Times called the Libya intervention “illegal” and said that it “set a troubling precedent that could allow future administrations to wage war at their convenience — free of legislative checks and balances.”

The matter is all the more stark because President Obama had said in 2007 that “The president does not have power under the Constitution to unilaterally authorize a military attack in a situation that does not involve stopping an actual or imminent threat to the nation.” After Libya, Politifact rated the statement a “full [flip] flop.”

Also in 2011, the Obama Administration’s loan to Solyndra, a solar panel manufacturer, went sour. While most analyses of the Solyndra scandal focus on the poor judgment involved in making a loan that ultimately cost taxpayers $535 million according to Yahoo, laws might have been broken here as well. According to the Christian Science Monitor, it may have been illegal for the Obama Administration to restructure Solyndra’s loan to put private creditors ahead of taxpayers.

In 2012, the Supreme Court affirmed the power of the government to compel its citizens to purchase a private product, keeping Obamacare’s individual mandate intact. The legal status of other parts of Obamacare remains questionable. The mandate that all insurance policies cover contraceptive and abortifacient drugs has been successfully challenged in court as a violation of the freedom of religion.

Since 2010, the Department of Health and Human Services has issued more than 1,200 Obamacare waivers to companies according to The Hill. As noted in Examiner, the language of the Affordable Care Act did not permit such waivers. In 2013, Politico reported that members of Congress were secretly negotiating an exemption from Obamacare’s requirements under concerns that staffers would face sharp increases in premiums when Obamacare goes into effect.

More recently, faced with a $1.5 billion shortfall in funds to implement Obamacare, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius resorted to soliciting donations from insurance companies according to the Washington Post. As Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) points out in the Wall St. Journal, the Constitution and other laws do not permit the government to spend money that has not been appropriated by Congress. Soliciting donations from companies that Sebelius regulates is likely a conflict of interest as well.

Earlier this year, President Obama received a strong rebuke from a federal court for several appointments that he had made to the National Labor Relations Board. The president styled the appointments as recess appointments even though Congress was still in session. The decision, described on Examiner, stated that Congress, not the president, decided when it was in session and then went a step further, stating that recess appointments could only be used to fill vacancies that arise during a recess. A second appeals court issued a similar ruling in May after the NLRB ignored the first court’s ruling and continued to issue decisions on cases heard by the invalid members.

President Obama also has a record of issuing executive decrees when Congress fails to act. In December 2010, the EPA announced plans to regulate carbon after Congress failed to pass cap-and-trade legislation. At the same time, the FCC unilaterally issued “net neutrality” rules in spite of a court ruling stating that the agency did not have the power to regulate the internet. Before even asking Congress to enact new gun control laws, the president signed 23 executive orders relating to guns.

The new scandals, lying to public about Benghazi, spying on reporters to ferret out leakers within the administration, and using federal enforcement agencies to quash political opposition, are merely the latest in a long line of abuses of power by President Obama and his deputies. The common threads among all of the Obama scandals are abuse of executive power disregard of the law for political gain. The new trio of scandals is no different.

A form of this article was originally published as Atlanta Conservative Examiner.