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Author Topic: Obama defies Congress with ‘recess’ picks
velcro
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JWatts,

I hate to be repetitive, but you ignored my point.

You claim that Obama supported pro-forma sessions in the past. I asked for a source. You answered the second part of my post, so you obviously read it, but ignored the first part. The part that asked for a source.

If you choose to ignore that request for a source, I (and many other readers) will choose to believe you made it up. If you provide solid evidence, I will immediately concede the point, and apologize for any perceived offense by my asking for sources.

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G2
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quote:
Originally posted by Pyrtolin:
quote:
Obama has assumed the power to decide for Congress when it is and is not in recess. It's 100% unconstitutional for the President to determine the status of the Senate.
Except, of course, for the fact the declaring Congress to be in recess is an explicitly granted Constitutional power of the President.
What section provides the president this power?
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Wayward Son
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Look it up, G2.

That's what I did.

And that's what you always tell us to do. [Big Grin]

[ January 05, 2012, 12:49 PM: Message edited by: Wayward Son ]

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Pyrtolin
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Article 2, Section 3:
quote:
Section 3 - State of the Union, Convening Congress

He shall from time to time give to the Congress Information of the State of the Union, and recommend to their Consideration such Measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient; he may, on extraordinary Occasions, convene both Houses, or either of them, and in Case of Disagreement between them, with Respect to the Time of Adjournment, he may adjourn them to such Time as he shall think proper; he shall receive Ambassadors and other public Ministers; he shall take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed, and shall Commission all the Officers of the United States.

If the Senate is holding pro forma sessions because the house won't let it recess or because it can't manage to get a motion to adjourn to the floor, the President is very explicitly empowered to break the jam and send them home for as long as he likes.
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JWatts
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quote:
Originally posted by Pyrtolin:
Because the House won't vote to let them recess. Procedurally, each house needs the permission of the other to fully recess, and the president has the explicit power to fully recess them if they can't properly handle it themselves.

No this wrong. Neither House can adjourn during a Session for more than 3 days. The period we are referring to is between Sessions.

Certainly the Republicans in the House can keep the Senate from adjourning for more than 3 days over Memorial day weekend (Only in Congress is a holiday weekend longer that 3 days). But the House has no control over the adjournment of the actual Session.

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Wayward Son
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And, of course, it only applies to a disagreement regarding when to Adjourn. Since the Senate agreed to the Pro Forma sessions, there is no actual disagreement.
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Pyrtolin
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quote:
The period we are referring to is between Sessions.
They can't be between sessions until the Session is formally adjourned by a vote of both houses. Without that vote, the Senate is legally required to go no more than 3 days without holding a session, so their choices are to force attendance at full sessions or agree to hold pro forma session instead so that most of them can stay home.

And even there, precedent exists when Teddy Roosevelt made recess appointments in the gap between when one session had to end to allow the next one to start.

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G2
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quote:
Originally posted by Wayward Son:
Look it up, G2.

That's what I did.

And that's what you always tell us to do. [Big Grin]

I did, I could not find it and which is why I asked - and got exactly the response I expected:

quote:
Originally posted by Pyrtolin:
Article 2, Section 3:
quote:
Section 3 - State of the Union, Convening Congress

He shall from time to time give to the Congress Information of the State of the Union, and recommend to their Consideration such Measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient; he may, on extraordinary Occasions, convene both Houses, or either of them, and in Case of Disagreement between them, with Respect to the Time of Adjournment, he may adjourn them to such Time as he shall think proper; he shall receive Ambassadors and other public Ministers; he shall take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed, and shall Commission all the Officers of the United States.

If the Senate is holding pro forma sessions because the house won't let it recess or because it can't manage to get a motion to adjourn to the floor, the President is very explicitly empowered to break the jam and send them home for as long as he likes.
Now, if you will just point out where in that section the president is granted the power to designate Congress in recess?

You are taking the position that recess and adjournment are the same thing. They are not. FYI, from the dictionary:
quote:
In legislatures, adjournment officially marks the end of a regular session.
and
quote:
A recess in legislative practice is an interval of time between sessions of the same continuous body, as opposed to the period between the final adjournment of one legislative body and the convening of another at the next regular session.
See, very different ain't it?

If you're still not sure:
quote:
Recess n. a break in a trial or other court proceedings or a legislative session until a date and time certain. Recess is not to be confused with "adjournment" which winds up the proceedings.
You've done what the definition of recess explicitly says should not be done - confused recess with adjournment.

So the president does indeed have the power to adjourn Congress. He does not have the power to declare it "in recess" - as in, trying to make recess appointments. It is unconstitutional for the President to declare Congress in recess.

Quick poll, how many times in US History has the president found it necessary to use the power to adjourn Congress? Anybody know? Civil War, WW1, WW2, The Depression, all those massive historical events, how many times did a President exercise this power?

[ January 05, 2012, 01:52 PM: Message edited by: G2 ]

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Pyrtolin
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quote:
So the president does indeed have the power to adjourn Congress. He does not have the power to declare it "in recess" - as in, trying to make recess appointments. It is unconstitutional for the President to declare Congress in recess.
Irrelevant, as precedent for use recess appointment power allows it to apply in to both intersession and intrasession appointments..
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JWatts
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quote:
Originally posted by velcro:
JWatts,

I hate to be repetitive, but you ignored my point.

You claim that Obama supported pro-forma sessions in the past. I asked for a source. You answered the second part of my post, so you obviously read it, but ignored the first part. The part that asked for a source.

Velcro,

It's clear that this pro-forma session policy was:
a) Used by the Democratic led Senate to block recess appointments by Bush.
b) That Harry Reid explicitly used the policy for that reason.
c) That Barack Obama was a Democrat and a Senator at the time.

There's an implicit assumption that Barack Obama supported the tactics of his colleague and leader of the Senate.

There are only two viable positions on this, either you supported the policy or you didn't. It's hardly a stretch to claim that Senator Obama supported the policies of his own party in the Senate of which he was an active Senator.

Now if you can find any comment that Senator Barack Obama made saying he was against the Democratic Senate position of the time, I will concede the point.


quote:
Originally posted by velcro:
If you choose to ignore that request for a source, I (and many other readers) will choose to believe you made it up.

[Roll Eyes] Why do you resort to whining every time I fail to address every comment you direct towards me? It's like you expect me to be waiting with baited breath to read your pearls of wisdom and respond immediately. I respond to comments from multiple people all the time, I also end up ignoring the majority of the comments directed towards me. You don't read Al, Pry, GregD, TomD, Rall or a multitude of others whining. I have a limited amount of time. You aren't special. Grow up.
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AI Wessex
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JWatts, I really do want you to explain why you chide Obama when he clearly has the lowest rate of recess appointments of any President in 30 years. Bush's rate was 3x higher if you leave out his last 2 years in office. Since you're the one who brought it up, I do think you're on the hook to answer. It's not like I don't know how to whine, too.
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JWatts
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quote:
Originally posted by AI Wessex:
JWatts, I really do want you to explain why you chide Obama when he clearly has the lowest rate of recess appointments of any President in 30 years.

Because a President only uses a recess appointment if he can't get his appointments through Congress directly, or he's trying to hasten the process. Obama made many appointment in his first year in office. Indeed, Obama didn't even feel the need to make any recess appointments until March 2010.

Comparing recess appointments doesn't tell us how many total appointments were made, it just gives us a relative feeling for how well the President could get his picks through Congress. The fact that Obama didn't make any recess appointments for his first 14 months in office indicates he wasn't encountering an excessive amount of opposition.

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JWatts
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quote:
Originally posted by Pyrtolin:
They can't be between sessions until the Session is formally adjourned by a vote of both houses.

No, that's incorrect. Sessions are (roughly) within the calendar year. The 112th Congress (current) consists of two Sessions.

quote:

112th United States Congress
Duration: January 3, 2011 – January 3, 2013

Sessions
1st: January 5, 2011 – December 30, 2011
2nd: January 3, 2012 – present

Wiki

It does not require an agreement between the two Houses to adjourn at the end of a session for the rest of the year.

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Grant
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I think it is fairly obvious that JWatts chides the President because JWatts believes that the President did not advocate such action when he was a senator, but does advocate such action now as the President, which would appear to be fairly convienient.

The fact that the President has conducted less of the action in question then past Presidents is irrelevant to his reasons for finding fault in this particular case. His actual point of view of the correctness of the action, or who is conducting the action, is not part of his case. His only case is that he believes the President convieniently changed his mind.

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G2
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quote:
Originally posted by Pyrtolin:
quote:
So the president does indeed have the power to adjourn Congress. He does not have the power to declare it "in recess" - as in, trying to make recess appointments. It is unconstitutional for the President to declare Congress in recess.
Irrelevant, as precedent for use recess appointment power allows it to apply in to both intersession and intrasession appointments..
This is very relevant, you can't simply move the goal posts and say it no longer matters when you once hinged your whole position on it. Recess and adjournment are not the same, there is no power in the constitution for the president to place Congress in recess.

Precedent is actually contradicting what is happening. You're now just making it up as you go along. You're taking the position that the advice and consent clause is merely at the president's pleasure, it's not. You're saying that President could announce his next SCOTUS appointment, and then two weeks later when the Senate breaks for the weekend just declare them in recess and appoint him to the Court. The president can't just declare Congress in recess any time he feels like it.

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G2
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quote:
Originally posted by Grant:
I think it is fairly obvious that JWatts chides the President because JWatts believes that the President did not advocate such action when he was a senator, but does advocate such action now as the President, which would appear to be fairly convienient.

I am unaware of anyone, ever, advocating the president have the power to place Congress in recess (except Pyrtolin). The power to do so simply does not exist under the Constitution.
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Grant
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quote:
Originally posted by G2:
I am unaware of anyone, ever, advocating the president have the power to place Congress in recess (except Pyrtolin). The power to do so simply does not exist under the Constitution.

That would be unrelated to the inital argument made by JWatts:

quote:
Another case of Obama's hypocrisy. When he was a Senator he was for a 3 day waiting period for recess appointments. Now that he's President, he completely ignores his earlier stance. His own Justice Department has indeed also confirmed this point of view.


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DonaldD
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quote:
Comparing recess appointments doesn't tell us how many total appointments were made, it just gives us a relative feeling for how well the President could get his picks through Congress. The fact that Obama didn't make any recess appointments for his first 14 months in office indicates he wasn't encountering an excessive amount of opposition.
That is not a given - there are other reasonable alternatives, some of which are not consistent with your position.

I will be honest and say that I have no knowledge of recess appointments whatsoever, but another alternative is that Obama did not use them for 14 months because he felt it would be 'wrong' to do so. Maybe something occured to change his mind after 14 months.

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G2
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quote:
Originally posted by DonaldD:

I will be honest and say that I have no knowledge of recess appointments whatsoever, but another alternative is that Obama did not use them for 14 months because he felt it would be 'wrong' to do so. Maybe something occured to change his mind after 14 months.

To understand recess appointments, you first need to understand that the president can't make a recess appointment unless Congress is actually in recess. Congress is not in recess.
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Pyrtolin
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quote:
Originally posted by JWatts:
Comparing recess appointments doesn't tell us how many total appointments were made, it just gives us a relative feeling for how well the President could get his picks through Congress. The fact that Obama didn't make any recess appointments for his first 14 months in office indicates he wasn't encountering an excessive amount of opposition.

Appointments made vs. appointments that came to the floor for a vote would be an indication of how much obstruction he was meeting. The number of recess appointments used to get around that obstruction would just be an indication of which tactics he chose to use to try to resolve the obstruction.
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Pyrtolin
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quote:
Originally posted by JWatts:
It does not require an agreement between the two Houses to adjourn at the end of a session for the rest of the year.

http://wiki.answers.com/Q/What_is_the_difference_in_congressional_recess_and_adjournment

quote:
There are four types of adjournment:

(1) adjournments to end the day, which are accomplished through a motion to adjourn.
(2) adjournments of a stated period of three days or less, which are achieved by adoption of a motion to adjourn;
(3) adjournments of more than three days, which require the consent of the other chamber are accomplished by adoption of a concurrent resolution in both bodies; and
(4) adjournments "sine die", which end each session of a Congress, require the consent of both chambers, and which are realized by adoption of a concurrent resolution by both.

To officially end the session, both houses much pass a concurrent resolution. The nominal dates scheduled on the calendar aren't the actual procedural results- sessions can run over their schedules (and, in the senate specifically, a legislative day can run for many real days depending on whether a vote is held to end it)
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JWatts
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quote:
Originally posted by Pyrtolin:
To officially end the session, both houses much pass a concurrent resolution. The nominal dates scheduled on the calendar aren't the actual procedural results- sessions can run over their schedules (and, in the senate specifically, a legislative day can run for many real days depending on whether a vote is held to end it)

Ok, good enough for me. I concede the point.
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JWatts
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A thoughtful article on the subject.

In Which A Whig Thinks About Recess Appointments

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Pyrtolin
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quote:
Originally posted by G2:
quote:
Originally posted by DonaldD:

I will be honest and say that I have no knowledge of recess appointments whatsoever, but another alternative is that Obama did not use them for 14 months because he felt it would be 'wrong' to do so. Maybe something occured to change his mind after 14 months.

To understand recess appointments, you first need to understand that the president can't make a recess appointment unless Congress is actually in recess. Congress is not in recess.
BY that mixing of definitions, the president can only make recess appointments when the Senate breaks for lunch or committee meetings. The precedent for the application of the recess appointment power has nothing to do with the specific definition of recess that you're trying to apply, but with what are, in fact, procedural adjournments.
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Pyrtolin
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quote:
Originally posted by JWatts:
A thoughtful article on the subject.

In Which A Whig Thinks About Recess Appointments

That's definitely a good look at the issue, and the conclusion is about right- if anything, this should be taken by Congress (the Senate in particular) as a procedural wake-up call to get its house in order to fix its rules so that it doesn't actively serve as a justification for tilting the scales toward the Executive just to maintain reasonable balance and functionality
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G2
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quote:
Originally posted by Pyrtolin:
quote:
Originally posted by G2:
quote:
Originally posted by DonaldD:

I will be honest and say that I have no knowledge of recess appointments whatsoever, but another alternative is that Obama did not use them for 14 months because he felt it would be 'wrong' to do so. Maybe something occured to change his mind after 14 months.

To understand recess appointments, you first need to understand that the president can't make a recess appointment unless Congress is actually in recess. Congress is not in recess.
BY that mixing of definitions, the president can only make recess appointments when the Senate breaks for lunch or committee meetings.
Actually, the president can make recess appointments whenever Congress is in recess. The only one mixing definitions is you.

quote:
Originally posted by Pyrtolin:
The precedent for the application of the recess appointment power has nothing to do with the specific definition of recess that you're trying to apply, but with what are, in fact, procedural adjournments.

I'll refer you to the definitions provided above again ... recess and adjournment are not the same thing, no matter how you insist they are.
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TomDavidson
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quote:
I think it is fairly obvious that JWatts chides the President because JWatts believes that the President did not advocate such action when he was a senator, but does advocate such action now as the President, which would appear to be fairly convienient.
I don't see anything to suggest that Obama advocates making a habit of recess appointments. He's said he was driven to it by necessity, and frankly based on the evidence and raw numbers I'm inclined to agree with him -- especially based on the rarity of recess appointments under his administration.
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velcro
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JWatts,

Grow up yourself, comma.

I asked for sources. You provide none, and call me a whiner for asking for sources. You have a history of making claims and ignoring anyone who calls you on it. I just make sure it is clear you were called on it and did not respond.

Your argument is that since Obama is a Democrat, and a Democratic leader had a strategy, Obama must support that strategy. That is an exceptionally weak argument. You are right, either he took a positive action to support it, or he did not. You claim he took a positive action to support it. The burden is on you to provide evidence, not to ask me to prove a negative.

When I make a claim, and realize I have no source, I back down, like a grown up, not double down when I got nothing.

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Grant
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quote:
Originally posted by TomDavidson:
I don't see anything to suggest that Obama advocates making a habit of recess appointments. He's said he was driven to it by necessity,

Did the President only oppose recess appointments when they were not "necessary" when he was a senator? If not, then it is irrelevant. It's like somebody saying adultery is wrong, then changing their view after comitting adultry and stating "adultery is okay if it is necessary, and in my case, it was necessary".

I think the question of wether the President actually did state that he opposed the ability of the executive to make recess appointments in any or all cases, is still in doubt.

In the end though, I have to admit I don't find much sympathy for your case, JWatts. You find fault in the President for saying one thing and doing another. What politician doesn't do this? It's like the woman's perogative, they can change their minds when it suits their purposes.

[ January 05, 2012, 05:35 PM: Message edited by: Grant ]

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JWatts
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quote:
Originally posted by velcro:
JWatts,

Grow up yourself, comma.

I asked for sources. You provide none, and call me a whiner for asking for sources.

[Roll Eyes] I didn't call you a whiner for asking for a source. I called you a whiner for your repetitive and whiny comments.

quote:

If you choose to ignore that request for a source, I (and many other readers) will choose to believe you made it up.

That's a petulant comment.
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JWatts
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quote:
Originally posted by Grant:
In the end though, I have to admit I don't find much sympathy for your case, JWatts. You find fault in the President for saying one thing and doing another. What politician doesn't do this? It's like the woman's perogative, they can change their minds when it suits their purposes.

Fair enough. But just because President's can change their mind doesn't mean they shouldn't be publicly condemned for it.
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DonaldD
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Where did this idea come from, that changing one's mind is in all cases not just wrong, but worthy of condemnation?
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D.W.
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When I stated I was against "A", I never envisioned scenario "B". Now that it has happened, I have refined my opposition to "A".

We'll file this under, “and I should give a *expletive deleted* why?”

If he felt he had exhausted all other avenues and was left with a distasteful option why should anyone act shocked he took it? Is this a victory for the opposition? Forcing your opponent to play dirty or look weak?

Actually wait, it IS a tactic I’ve seen before. My younger brother would instigate and or hit me. I would finally retaliate. He would cry to mom. I would get in trouble. It even worked for awhile until at some point the response shifted to, “You probably deserved it.”

I think / hope the American population is waking up to a “You probably deserved it.” attitude regarding the Republican party. I guess we’ll see next election.

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Grant
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quote:
Originally posted by JWatts:
But just because President's can change their mind doesn't mean they shouldn't be publicly condemned for it.

That's true. But I see no point in condeming a particular pig for horrible table manners at the trough. I just accept that pigs eat sloppily and that Presidents will change their mind when it is politically expedient.
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Grant
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quote:
Originally posted by DonaldD:
Where did this idea come from, that changing one's mind is in all cases not just wrong, but worthy of condemnation?

The question is not one of changing one's mind, but how and why. An individual who campaigns against smoking pot for years, and then begins to smoke pot because they "changed their mind", might be rightly questioned. What made them change their mind? Was it convience? Is that what they base their decision making and ethical stances on? Political convienience?

Nobody would question sincere change of heart or mind. The question revolves around the "why". So my question is: Did President Obama not support the use of recessed appointments by the executive while he was a Senator? And if so, then WHY did he not support such appointments? Then WHY does he supposedly support them now? Then, tell me how I can totally and unreservedly believe the amount of poo that will be heaped upon me?

[ January 05, 2012, 06:08 PM: Message edited by: Grant ]

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Wayward Son
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quote:
I'll refer you to the definitions provided above again ... recess and adjournment are not the same thing, no matter how you insist they are.
Except that, by the definitions you provided, the Article of the Constitution doesn't make sense.

To quote one of your definitions:

quote:
A recess in legislative practice is an interval of time between sessions of the same continuous body, as opposed to the period between the final adjournment of one legislative body and the convening of another at the next regular session.
So a recess is a break only during a Congressional session (if I understand it correctly). Once Congress is adjourned for the year, that is something entirely different--not a "recess."

But the Second Article of the Constitution states:

quote:
The President shall have Power to fill up all Vacancies that may happen during the Recess of the Senate, by granting Commissions which shall expire at the End of their next Session.
So, if a "recess" is only a break during the session, the President is powerless to appoint Recess Appointment while Congress is not present, but only when they take a break while present.

Or as Pyrtolin so colorfully put it, "the President can only make recess appointments when the Senate breaks for lunch or committee meetings." [LOL]

Considering the history presented earlier, where Congress would take breaks between sessions that would last for months, this makes absolutely no sense.

Therefore it is obvious that when the Constitution refers to a "recess," it includes the breaks between sessions--those breaks that are started by an adjournment. So the President does have the power to create recesses, as defined by the Constitution.

Your definitions, while currently valid, are not the ones used by the drafters of the Constitution.

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TomDavidson
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quote:
Nobody would question sincere change of heart or mind. The question revolves around the "why". So my question is: Did President Obama not support the use of recessed appointments by the executive while he was a Senator?
A better question is: did President Obama not support the use of recess appointments by the Executive Office when necessary while he was a senator?

I have no doubt at all that Obama would, even as a Senator, agree that the ability of the executive to appoint staff while the Senate is recessed is not only necessary but a Constitutional right. The only relevant question becomes, then, what constitutes a "necessary" appointment.

So we're not arguing about hypocrisy. We're arguing about Obama's belief that he needed to appoint someone in this specific case more than Bush needed to appoint someone in some specific cases. Assuming Obama actually has some internal justification for that (and I assume he does, whether or not everyone here would agree with it), it's not a case of political double-speak at all.

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JWatts
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quote:
Originally posted by TomDavidson:
So we're not arguing about hypocrisy. We're arguing about Obama's belief that he needed to appoint someone in this specific case more than Bush needed to appoint someone in some specific cases. Assuming Obama actually has some internal justification for that (and I assume he does, whether or not everyone here would agree with it), it's not a case of political double-speak at all.

So if I stop you from doing X, but later I do X because I believe I need to do it more than I thought you needed to do it, that's fine.

That sounds more like a partisan rationalization than an argument. Ergo, I believe my side needs to do X more than your side, so when your side does it, it's wrong, but when my side does it, it's fine, as long as I have some internal justification.

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DonaldD
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quote:
The question is not one of changing one's mind, but how and why.
That is certainly a question, but not seemingly the one that JWatts is asking.
quote:
Did President Obama not support the use of recessed appointments by the executive while he was a Senator?
This is certainly a possibly pertinent question - though not in and of itself either sufficient to identify whether Obama is a hypocrite, or even to identify whether he changed his mind on recess appointments at all.
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TomDavidson
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quote:
So if I stop you from doing X, but later I do X because I believe I need to do it more than I thought you needed to do it, that's fine.
Recently, a young woman shot a man who walked through her front door. We all agree, I'm sure, that most people should be stopped or dissuaded from shooting people. Is it wrong for her to have done it?
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