News & Politics

Obama's 7 Deadliest Lame-Duck Sins

Obama's 7 Deadliest Lame-Duck Sins
(AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

President Barack Obama has been making the most out of his lame-duck status as he runs out the clock on his eight-year reign of terror. The fear that he would be at his most dangerous when he was free to make unpopular decisions with little political consequence has turned out to be well founded.

In the past month, Obama has unleashed a boatload of “midnight regulations,” executive orders, and pardons. He’s also released more Gitmo detainees, increased refugee resettlements, and accelerated a highly politicized DOJ “probe” of the Chicago Police Department. Last but not least, he permitted (or more likely encouraged) the UN Security Council to pass a destructive and dangerous resolution declaring all Israeli settlement activity to be illegal.

1. Costly Midnight Regulations:

The Obama administration has put forth 25 so-called “midnight” regulations, which will cost the economy $44.1 billion, according to a report from the American Action Forum.

Midnight regulations are rules that are published after Election Day and before the next president is inaugurated in January 2017. Earlier this year, the administration estimated that there would be $5.2 billion in regulatory costs incurred during that time.

The $44.1 billion in regulatory costs have overshot that estimate by more than eight times.

Obama’s job-crushing regulations have stifled economic growth, making him the only president in modern history whose time in office didn’t include at least one year of economic growth at the 3% historical average.

2. Economy-Crippling Executive Actions:

With less than a month left in his presidency, Obama has launched an initiative to wipe out coal mining and handicap offshore drilling for oil and natural gas.First, he ordered the Environmental Protection Agency to proceed with its controversial Stream Protection Rule. By one estimate, that would make mining so difficult it would make 85 percent of the nation’s coal reserves unrecoverable.

Then, on Tuesday, the president designated most government-owned areas in the Arctic Ocean and a large swath off the Atlantic Coast closed to drilling. That would prevent production of huge reserves of oil and gas.

For the past eight years, the Obama administration has abused the power of the executive branch by issuing unconstitutional, unilateral executive actions to push his agenda. Article I of the Constitution, which grants enumerated legislative powers to Congress — not the president, became a quaint, but outdated artifact from the past under Obama. Hopefully Donald Trump will return the country to constitutional governance.

3. Record Wave of Pardons and Communtations: 

President Obama on Monday pardoned 78 people and granted another 153 commutations, amounting to the most acts of clemency granted by a U.S. president ever in a single day.

White House Counsel Neil Eggleston announced the decisions in an official blog post. He described all the individuals being pardoned or seeing their sentences shortened as “deserving.”

“The 231 individuals granted clemency today have all demonstrated that they are ready to make use – or have already made use – of a second chance,” he wrote.

He also previewed additional clemency decisions in the weeks ahead, saying: “I expect that the President will issue more grants of both commutations and pardons before he leaves office.”

The White House boasts that Obama has commuted the sentences of more prisoners than all of the last six presidents combined. Most of them were drug offenders, who have a high recidivism rate. As 50 percent of drug traffickers were rearrested shortly after they were released, about half of the Obama release pool are likely return to the streets.

Don’t be surprised if Hillary Clinton, Cheryl Mills, Huma Abedin, and Anthony Weiner are among those pardoned in the next wave.

From Obama’s perspective, the decision to grant or withhold a pardon is a political and a personal one. Legal considerations do not directly arise.

Like all presidents at the end of their terms, he is concerned about the legacy he leaves for history. Does he want his legacy to include a pardon of the secretary of State who served under him during the entirety of his first term in office?

Because acceptance of a pardon amounts to a confession of guilt, the acceptance by Clinton would, to a degree, besmirch both Clinton and also Obama. After all, Clinton was Obama’s secretary of State. If she was committing illegal acts as secretary, it happened literally on his watch.

On the other hand, if the new administration were to prosecute and convict Clinton of crimes committed while she was secretary, that might be an even greater embarrassment for Obama post-presidency.

4. Ramped-up Refugee Resettlements:

President Barack Obama is speeding up the “refugee” resettlement process before he turns over the White House keys to his successor, President-elect Donald Trump – in an effort to boost the numbers so high that it is now projected that they will exceed his target of 110,000 for this fiscal year by nearly 600.

According to the Refugee Processing Center, the Obama administration has already welcomed 23,248 individuals to the United States as “refugees” through the first 11 weeks of the 2017 fiscal year – almost doubling the 13,786 who were accepted for the same period in 2016.

Last spring, the Washington Post reported on exactly how ISIS was able to infiltrate terrorists into Europe, hiding them among the flood of refugees so they could carry out deadly attacks.

In addition to that, a survey by the Arab Center for Research and Policy Studies last year showed that 13 percent of the Syrian refugees in Europe sympathize with the Islamic State.

5. A Final Push to Empty Gitmo:

According to a New York Times report, the Obama administration has notified Congress it plans to transfer 17 or 18 prisoners from the detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, before president-elect Trump takes office.

In all, the military prison has housed nearly 780 detainees. That number was down to 242 by time President Obama took office. Today, there are 59 remaining, including 22 who have been approved for transfer to other countries. That’s if certain security conditions were met there.

After this latest batch of transfers, 41 or 42 prisoners would be left at Guantanamo Bay for Mr. Trump’s administration to handle.

Earlier this year, the Washington Times reported that 118 of 676 former prisoners released under both President Obama and President Bush were confirmed to be reengaging in terrorism, while another 86 were suspected of doing so. That’s approximately 30% of the prisoners released who have returned to a world of slaughtering innocents.

Fox News reported a total of 208 either returning to terrorism or suspected of returning to terrorism according to the national Intelligence Office.

6. A Big Push to Get DOJ Report on Chicago Police Dept. Done Before Trump Takes Office:

NBC5 Chicago has learned a massive team of attorneys and investigators from the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Justice Department is, on the eve of Christmas and Hanukkah, working feverishly to complete its probe of the Chicago Police Department.

And they’re planning to finish their work before the Obama administration ends and the Trump administration begins.

Sources with a working knowledge of the investigation tell NBC5 that the goal, requiring unprecedented speed by DOJ standards, is to issue a detailed “Findings Letter” into the pattern and practice of CPD. And to do so whether or not Mayor Rahm Emanuel or his law and police departments have agreed to the terms of a consent decree for corrective action.

Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced the investigation a year ago after video of a white Chicago police officer fatally shooting a black teenager was released.

Chicago police blog Second City Cop says the report “is turning out to be exactly what everyone suspected — railroad job driven by numerous exaggerations, outright distortions and Rahm caving to a loud group of political terrorists.”

Thanks to the Obama-era “Ferguson effect,” proactive policing in Chicago (and other major cities) has declined, leading to an astonishing 787 murders and 4,336 shootings this year in the Windy City. With four days remaining in 2016, Chicago is almost certain to reach 800 murders before the year is through.

7. Obama Administration’s Betrayal of Israel:

Adding a final shameful chapter to a foreign-policy record that already runneth over with them, Barack Obama on Friday abandoned America’s commitment to Israel’s security, and to the vindication of democracy over sharia-supremacist aggression. In an act of cowardly venom, the president had the United States abstain from — and thereby effectively enact — a United Nations Security Council resolution that condemns Israeli settlement activity. At least, that’s what the resolution ostensibly does. The reality is much more than that. The resolution undertakes to render our ally indefensible. It was a black day in modern American diplomatic history, a flurry of sinister wheeling and dealing while the nation — exhausted by the election, anticipating a weekend of Christmas and Hanukkah celebration — was looking the other way.

Harvard Professor Alan Dershowitz calls it “Obama’s ill-advised, lame duck, and undemocratic effort to tie his successor’s hands.”

This is what President Obama has wrought in his ill-advised refusal to do what American presidents have done for decades: exercise their veto in preventing biased, destructive, and one-sided resolutions from being enacted against Israel by the automatic anti-Israel majority that exists in every institution of the UN.

The bad news is that no future president, including President-elect Trump, can undo this pernicious agreement, since a veto not cast can never be retroactively cast. And a resolution once enacted cannot be rescinded unless there is a majority vote against it, with no veto by any of its permanent members, which include Russia and China, who would be sure to veto any attempt to undo this resolution. Obama’s failure to veto this resolution was thus a deliberate ploy to tie the hands of his successors, the consequence of which will be to make it far more difficult for his successors to encourage the Palestinians to accept Israel’s offer to negotiate with no preconditions.

There are a few things President Trump can do to ameliorate the effects of this “bigoted resolution,” Dershowitz says, including “officially recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and moving its embassy there,” but the damage Obama has done is grievous and will be hard to undo.

There are 22 days left in Obama’s second term. Let’s cross our fingers that there will be no more nasty surprises.