Republicans are outraged that President Obama ignored U.S. law and released Taliban suspects from Guantanamo without first notifying Congress. This, even as the “signing statement” that Obama attached to the law foretold his intention.
But guess whose pique is a little more nuanced.
“There have been multiple presidents who have used signing statements for different purposes, so it is wrong to speak of signing statements in blanket terms,” said Sen. Ted Cruz as a preamble to his robust criticism of the president’s decision to swap Taliban suspects for American prisoner of war Bowe Bergdahl.
Another leading 2016 presidential hopeful, Marco Rubio, offered a bit of the same. He dodged the question of the signing statement altogether, implying that presidents do indeed have the authority to do what’s necessary to ensure U.S. security.
“Most of these laws have a national security waiver built into them,” he said. “The more important issue here is not whether Congress received a heads-up. The most important issue is that five extremely dangerous anti-American terrorists have been released, and I think a precedent has been set.”
Many presidents have attached signing statements to legislation, but their use as tools by the executive branch to shape laws started under the Reagan administration, when then-lawyer, now-Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito issued a memo encouraging the expansion of executive power through such statements.
President George W. Bush issued more than 150 signing statements that declared how he intended to enforce the law, and he claimed constitutional authority to make changes or disregard parts of the law if necessary, a controversial practice that prompted the American Bar Association to study its constitutionality and ultimately issue recommendations against it.
Obama said during his first campaign for the White House that he would not use statements to nullify congressional instructions, and while he has issued relatively few signing statements compared with his predecessor, the one he is using now to defend the Bergdahl swap appears to violate that campaign promise.
There’s one Republican on the 2016 leader board who hasn’t shied away from directly addressing the use of signing statements. That’s Rand Paul, often the most vociferous critic of not only Obama but the expansion of executive power.
“I objected to Bush’s signing statements, I objected to this president’s signing statements,” he told National Journal. “That would be akin to the president legislating. It’s unequivocally unconstitutional.”
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Foreign Policy takes a look at the future of mining the estimated "100,000 near-Earth objects—including asteroids and comets—in the neighborhood of our planet. Some of these NEOs, as they’re called, are small. Others are substantial and potentially packed full of water and various important minerals, such as nickel, cobalt, and iron. One day, advocates believe, those objects will be tapped by variations on the equipment used in the coal mines of Kentucky or in the diamond mines of Africa. And for immense gain: According to industry experts, the contents of a single asteroid could be worth trillions of dollars." But the technology to get us there is only the first step. Experts say "a multinational body might emerge" to manage rights to NEOs, as well as a body of law, including an international court.
Not to be outdone by Jeffrey Goldberg's recent piece in The Atlantic about President Obama's foreign policy, the New York Times Magazine checks in with a longread on the president's economic legacy. In it, Obama is cognizant that the economic reality--73 straight months of growth--isn't matched by public perceptions. Some of that, he says, is due to a constant drumbeat from the right that "that denies any progress." But he also accepts some blame himself. “I mean, the truth of the matter is that if we had been able to more effectively communicate all the steps we had taken to the swing voter,” he said, “then we might have maintained a majority in the House or the Senate.”
Ronald Reagan's children and political allies took to the media and Twitter this week to chide funnyman Will Ferrell for his plans to play a dementia-addled Reagan in his second term in a new comedy entitled Reagan. In an open letter, Reagan's daughter Patti Davis tells Ferrell, who's also a producer on the movie, “Perhaps for your comedy you would like to visit some dementia facilities. I have—I didn’t find anything comedic there, and my hope would be that if you’re a decent human being, you wouldn’t either.” Michael Reagan, the president's son, tweeted, "What an Outrag....Alzheimers is not joke...It kills..You should be ashamed all of you." And former Rep. Joe Walsh called it an example of "Hollywood taking a shot at conservatives again."
In a sign that she’s ready to put a longer-than-expected primary battle behind her, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (D) is no longer going on the air in upcoming primary states. “Team Clinton hasn’t spent a single cent in … California, Indiana, Kentucky, Oregon and West Virginia, while” Sen. Bernie Sanders’ (I-VT) “campaign has spent a little more than $1 million in those same states.” Meanwhile, Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Sanders’ "lone backer in the Senate, said the candidate should end his presidential campaign if he’s losing to Hillary Clinton after the primary season concludes in June, breaking sharply with the candidate who is vowing to take his insurgent bid to the party convention in Philadelphia.”
The team behind the bestselling "Clinton Cash"—author Peter Schweizer and Breitbart's Stephen Bannon—is turning the book into a movie that will have its U.S. premiere just before the Democratic National Convention this summer. The film will get its global debut "next month in Cannes, France, during the Cannes Film Festival. (The movie is not a part of the festival, but will be shown at a screening arranged for distributors)." Bloomberg has a trailer up, pointing out that it's "less Ken Burns than Jerry Bruckheimer, featuring blood-drenched money, radical madrassas, and ominous footage of the Clintons."