The Administration

Shielding the press

The White House has asked Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) to reintroduce a press shield law, …   The move comes after questions were raised about the seizure of Associated Press phone records by the Justice Department as part of a national security leak investigation. — Politico, May 15, 2013
ERIC HOLDER: IT WASN’T ME. — The Daily Beast, May 15, 2013

Poor President Obama. He needs good counsel and isn’t getting it from his attorney general. While a federal shield law is overdue, it won’t cure the problem that generated these blurbs above. 

Whether reporters are protected from government investigations of their sources is a matter of policy rather than constitutional law. Eminent journalists such as the late Anthony Lewis and jurisprudential scholars like the late Ronald Dworkin agree. 

But the policy considerations are so strong that the Supreme Court and most jurisdictions recognize the need to protect the independence of media, through case precedents and statutes. Thirty-one states and the District of Columbia have shield laws, and most others have limited protections which balance reporters’ rights with legitimate government secrets. Congress has wrestled with passing a federal shield law for decades, unsuccessfully.


IRS abuse and leak investigations

First, I propose readers ignore those who imitate the usual suspects in "Casablanca," whether they are Republicans who offer their latest ritual condemnation of President Obama and predictions of great GOP victories or Democrats, if you can find any these days, who offer their latest ritual defense of whatever President Obama does. 

Some things have clearly gone wrong. Serious people discuss why. Regarding the IRS scandal, two thoughts: It is entirely legitimate to test whether overtly partisan political groups meet the legal standards of the tax code they employ to minimize taxes. And it is entirely illegitimate, morally wrong, politically indefensible and wholly unacceptable to use the tax code as a weapon to single out any political party or point of view without applying the same standards to all.


The left's real shame

Obama’s failure to push his gun control agenda through the Democratic-controlled United States Senate revealed the craven political power of big government.

A president with the assistance of a friendly media can drive emotional messages featuring victims, along with media-certified four-Pinocchio statements to try to whip the nation into a frenzy to urge legislation. Yet, only when it fails does the real big government beast expose itself. 


President Obama's masterful Israel visit

I have been blessed to have spent quality time in Israel on eight different occasions. It is without a doubt my favorite place in the world, besides my beloved USA. So many of my colleagues have called, Skyped, texted, emailed, or whatever to express their impressions of our president's recent visit.


Halligan falls, judgeships vacant, gay marriage pending, Siegelman wronged

Anthony Lewis, the greatest legal journalist of our times, has left us. My guess is, as he ascends to heaven, Lewis is putting in a word in upstairs: Would you please inspire President Obama to offer nominees to fill vacant judgeships, inspire Senate Democrats to stand up to filibusters and inspire the Supreme Court to provide equal rights to gays who marry and straights who marry?


The comatose press and populace

It is interesting that the White house has decided to cancel public tours due to budgetary constraints. The cost to the taxpayer would only be about $18,000 monthly, and many individuals have volunteered to shoulder the cost themselves.


Fearmongering and loathing on the sequester

The scene at the White House on Tuesday was befitting a national emergency. President Obama held a press event with a backdrop of first responders, aiming to pressure Republicans to accept a compromise to avoid the sequester. The fearmongering was at DEFCON 4.

What, according to Obama, would the sequester mean?


Forget the fiscal cliff

President Obama wants more spending — 29 programs, in fact — but he says it won’t cost a dime. That must mean he wants to raise taxes.


Partisan, forgettable State of the Union by an overly confident president

The 2013 State of the Union address was President Obama’s most significant State of the Union speech and his last significant State of the Union Speech.  The moment presented to him, free from facing the voters ever again, newly confident with the support of a majority of American voters, was short.


A make-or-break speech

One week from today President Obama will give his fifth State of the Union address, the first of his second term and the most important one of his presidency. Sure, he has four years ahead of him as president, but this year is his last year to secure a legacy, and make progress on critical issues including an economic recovery before the political campaigns begins - for the midterm elections of 2014 and the open presidential election of 2016.

Following his second inaugural address, which surprised members of both parties, the focus on Obama's upcoming SOTU address is more intense than usual. Given a fiscal crisis and several crises overseas, the president's landmark speech on equality, historic as it was, left so much unsaid.