Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Last Call For Executive Actions

The paranoid winger right is fully mobilized against the notion that President Barack Obama has any right to issue executive orders, and are doing everything they can to suggest that him doing so is not only immoral, but criminal and even necessitating armed rebellion to stop him.

A retired Army general and Fox News analyst told a Tea Party group that he would lead a military coup against the U.S. government, if only reluctantly.

Paul Vallely, a retired major general and senior military analyst for the conservative news channel, told the Surprise, Arizona, Tea Party Patriots during a Dec. 3 speech that other retired military personnel and veterans groups had contacted him about the possibility.

I had a call this afternoon from Idaho, the gentleman said, ‘If I give you 250,000 Marines to go to Washington, will you lead them?’” Vallely said as the group laughed and gasped. “I said, ‘Yes, I will, I’ll surround the White House and I’ll surround the Capitol building, but it’s going to take physical presence to do things.”

Vallely, who has suggested a variety of extra-constitutional remedies to remove President Barack Obama from office, said extraordinary means were necessary to achieve the legislative results he wanted.

“Writing letters to these senators and congressmen, I am so frustrated because nothing happens,” Vallely said. “I’m not inciting a revolution, but we’ve got to get more physical and stand up and protest.

He said such a protest would be a continuation of Tea Party activism.

Sure, you're not inciting a revolution.  But you wouldn't have any problem with one, or leading one if given the opportunity.  That seems like a sane, responsible thing to do, right?

But what of Obama's hundreds upon hundreds of executive orders that must spark a second American revolution to bring him down?  Surely these patriots of justice wouldn't be lying about his 923 executive orders, would they, Snopes?

The item reproduced above purports that President Obama has so far issued a whopping 923 executive orders (compared to about thirty each for previous presidents) and offers supposedly alarming provisions of some of those orders. However, the entirety of this item is erroneous.

First of all, the number of executive orders issued by President Obama is grossly exaggerated here. Through the first five years of his presidency (i.e., as of 20 January 2014) the count of all executive orders issued by President Obama was 168, not 923. Moreover, compared to President Obama's predecessors in the White House, this is not an unusually large number of orders for a modern president: President George W. Bush issued 291 executive orders during his eight years in office, while President Bill Clinton issued 364 such orders over the same span of time. 

So then, far fewer executive orders than Bush 43 or Clinton (and it turns out far fewer than Eisenhower's 484, Nixon's 346, or Reagan's 381.)  Poppy Bush issued 166 order in 4 years, Ford 169 in 4.  In other words, Obama has issued the fewest number of executive orders per year of any modern President, not the most.

Turns out if you really do want to see a President who issued a metric crapton of EOs, take a look at either Roosevelt.  Teddy issued over a thousand, and FDR over thirty five hundred.

But Obama is, you know, Kenyan and stuff.  So WOLVEREEEEEEEEEEENES!

The Greatest Glibertarian Meltdown Ever

Oh Truth, you are not only stranger than Fiction, you are also far, far more entertaining at times.

U.S. government agents have arrested Charlie Shrem, the CEO of Bitcoin exchange BitInstant, charging him with laundering money for customers of online drug bazaar Silk Road.

Just the first sentence is pure Dudebro rage fuel:  A Bitcoin exchange CEO, getting busted by Evil Government Types, for using the cryptocurrency to by drugs online. And Shrem is no small fish, either.

The U.S. attorney in the Southern District of New York said Shrem helped someone he hadn't met in person, Robert Faiella, sell more than $1 million worth of bitcoins to Silk Road customers. Faiella, a 52-year-old Florida man, allegedly ran an underground Bitcoin exchange using the alias BTCKing.

Shrem was arrested at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York on Sunday, and Faiella was arrested at his home in Cape Coral, Fla., on Monday, prosecutors said. Both are charged with conspiracy to launder money and operating an unlicensed money transmitting business. Additionally, Shrem faces a charge for not tipping off the feds to what was allegedly going on.

Here's the best part:

Shrem, 24, is a major player in the Bitcoin world. The BitInstant exchange, based in New York City, lets people buy bitcoins locally at more than 700,000 locations in the United States, as well as Brazil, Russia and elsewhere. It received a $1.5 million investment last year from Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss. Shrem is also vice chairman of the Bitcoin Foundation, one of the currency's biggest advocates.

On the board of the Bitcoin foundation AND took angel money from the Winkelvii.   The story is literally GOLD! WEED! END THE FED!

Bonus question:  What did you guys think glibertarian tech dudebros were using an all-digital, non-country based currency for, anyway?  To cure cancer?

SNAP Off The Heater, Will Ya?

There's a deal on Capitol Hill to finally cut expensive red state direct farm subsidies pork in the farm bill, but Republicans get to extract their pound of flesh from blue states where there's an additional state bonus to SNAP checks to help pay for heating.

The bill changes the current agricultural subsidy system. It ends direct payments to farmers for planting crops and replaces it with a revamped, beefed-up crop insurance program.

"Today's bipartisan agreement puts us on the verge of enacting a five-year Farm Bill that saves taxpayers billions, eliminates unnecessary subsidies, creates a more effective farm safety-net and helps farmers and businesses create jobs," said Sen. Debbie Stabenow, a Michigan Democrat who chairs the Senate agriculture panel.

The changes to food stamps would trim $8 billion from the program over the next 10 years, according to congressional aides. That's less than the $39 billion that Republicans had wanted to cut from the program, but double what Democrats had suggested.

Lawmakers say the deal will prevent 17 states from doling out more generous food stamps to people who get federal help to heat or cool their homes, even if the help is as little as $1. They stress the move won't cut families from food stamps, it will just shrink the amount some families get. 

So, not only do the SNAP cuts at the end of this year become permanent, there's $8 billion more being cut from the program.  Granted, it will only affect a small number of total SNAP beneficiaries (850,000 or so out of 47 million) but the cuts will be significant:  as much as $90 a week.  That's real money to real people who are going to have real problems this winter.

I don't like this deal, but given the fact that Republicans wanted to cut nearly $40 billion from SNAP, it's something of a Pyrrhic victory.


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