What’s In The Water In Massachusetts?

The commentary has begun to percolate on the recess appointment of John Bolton to the United Nations post, for which Senate Democrats twice filibustered rather than allow a confirmation vote. The comments have predictably shown their partisan bias. Republicans, except for George Voinovich, have offered their support and decried the necessity of a recess appointment. Voinovich reiterated his opposition to Bolton but pledged to support him and his work in the future. Democrats, for the most part, have emphasized their opposition to Bolton but kept their remarks rational.
However, in this last group, we have already seen two exceptions, and to no one’s great surprise, the exceptions come from Massachusetts’ Senators, Ted Kennedy and John Kerry. Both remain true to form in their reactions. Kerry gets his facts wrong, and Kennedy sees dark conspiracies and abuses of power. Kerry first (emphases mine):

“The president has the right to make this recess appointment, but it’s the wrong decision. It only diminishes John Bolton’s validity and leverage to secure America’s goals at the U.N. John Bolton has been rejected twice by the Senate to serve as our Ambassador to the United Nations. This is not the way to fill our most important diplomatic jobs.”

Kerry gets it wrong yet again. A filibuster does not equate to a rejection; it means that the minority refused to let the Senate vote to accept or reject the nomination. Bolton did not get rejected by the Senate at all, and had the Democrats not filibustered the vote, he would have won confirmation, albeit on a narrow margin. That foregone conclusion led the Democrats to stage the filibuster in the first place.
Either Kerry has spent twenty-odd years in the Senate without learning the difference, or he’s just lying for effect. Given his history of Christmas in Cambodia, running guns to the Khmer Rouge, and so on, I’ll leave it to CQ readers which explanation suits them best. At least Kerry has read the Constitution, however, which is more than one can say for his senior partner:

“The abuse of power and the cloak of secrecy from the White House continues. … It’s a devious maneuver that evades the constitutional requirement of Senate consent and only further darkens the cloud over Mr. Bolton’s credibility at the U.N.”

Cloak of secrecy? Bolton has gone through months of attacks in the media for his nomination to this position as well as a highly contentious Senate hearing. His confirmation literally received endless debate in the full Senate. The White House has talked about the possibility of a recess appointment for weeks. Some secret!
As far as it being an “abuse of power” that evades “Constitutional requirement” of a Senate confirmation, perhaps Senator Kennedy might like to read Article II, Section 2, Clause 3 of that same Constitution:

Clause 3: 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.

No abuse of power there; the Constitution clearly gives the President the exact power he just exercised. The Senate appears to have abused its power by denying Bolton an up or down vote on his confirmation, however, because the word “filibuster” doesn’t appear anywhere in the Constitution, nor does the right of endless debate.
Each party has its shrill and un-credible voices. Unfortunately for the Democrats, they picked their leadership from that contingent.

Bolton Gets The Recess Nod

John Bolton accepted a recess appointment as ambassador to the United Nations this morning, bringing to a close a long and embarrassing chapter of Senatorial obstructionism. Bush didn’t hesitate a single day of the Congressional hiatus to elevate Bolton to the top spot at Turtle Bay, a cesspool of corruption and intrigue that sorely needs a firm voice and a stubborn disposition:

“This post is too important to leave vacant any longer,” Bush said.
Senate Democrats had blocked Bolton’s nomination in a dispute over documents amid accusations that Bolton doesn’t have the temperament for the nation’s top U.N. post.
Under the Constitution, the president has the power to make temporary appointments without Senate confirmation when Congress goes into recess. Lawmakers began their current break on Friday.
The recess appointment puts Bolton at the United Nations until at least January 2007.

Senator Chris Dodd tried a last-minute rhetorical block on Bolton’s appointment, warning the White House that a recess appointment would mean that Bolton does not have the “confidence of Congress” in his new position. Quite clearly, the President doesn’t care. Bolton always had Bush’s confidence, and right now Bush wants that position filled by someone who undoubtedly speaks directly for George Bush at all times. He also wants someone who will take on the difficult task of reforming the UN, a task which quickly proved too daunting for the more courtly John Danforth.
If the Democrats want to stamp their feet and pout over this, they have no one to blame but themselves. They have made the filibuster for executive appointments a regular factor instead of the rare technique it had been before the last two sessions of Congress. They still have not learned that elections have consequences and that when voters put a party in charge of both the Executive and the Senate, it means that they intended to see smooth implementation of that party’s agenda.
The filibuster on Bolton should particularly embarrass the Democrats, although it won’t, as the UN ambassador post is a political appointment that only lasts as long as the president wishes. Unlike judicial nominations, it does not carry a lifetime commitment — and as such, Congress has historically given the President leeway in selecting those whom he feels best represent his policies. Filibustering over a document dispute for this long, especially since the effort was made so transparent with the prior example of Miguel Estrada as simple political obstructionism, says much more about the confidence of Democrats about their future as a minority party than it does about their confidence in Bolton as UN ambassador.
ADDENDUM: Here’s an interesting look at recess appointments by recent presidents. Thus far, Bush has 106 in over 4 years; Clinton had 140 in two terms, and Reagan had a whopping 243.

The Continuing Scandal At Air America

The New York Sun takes on the Air America story today and advances it by leaps and bounds, talking with the president of the non-profit which had its money taken by Air America founder Evan Cohen. It turns out that Cohen didn’t just get money for the netlet, but also managed to get plenty for his own pockets as well while sitting on the Gloria Wise Boys & Girls Club board:

Initially, members of the executive committee viewed Mr. Cohen fondly because he had thrown a tremendously successful fund-raising affair for Gloria Wise in Manhattan last year. They recalled being impressed by the wealthy clientele and the large sums of money he raised, according to Ms. Graves.
Because of that confidence in Mr. Cohen, she said, the executive committee approved two loans to Air America, one for $80,000 and another for $87,000.
Ms. Capell said she had met Mr. Cohen several times.
“He was very suave, a very wonderful young man. He left a very favorable impression,” she said in a telephone interview.
After the initial two loans, Ms. Graves said that just before the launch of Air America her organization lent the network another $213,000, authorized with a rubber stamp of her signature on a document she said she never saw. More recently, Ms. Graves said, Gloria Wise made a wire transfer of at least $400,000 to Air America without her knowledge.
In addition, according to Ms. Graves, the longtime executive director of Gloria Wise, Charles Rosen, later told the board he had lent an additional $35,000 of the organization’s funds to Mr. Cohen for medical expenses. According to Ms. Capell, the board member, Mr. Cohen told Mr. Rosen he needed $25,000 to pay for chemotherapy. Mr. Cohen told associates that he recovered from brain cancer, according to Ms. Capell. Later, Mr. Cohen asked for $10,000 – which he was lent – be cause his father, a businessman in Asia, was “gravely ill,” Ms. Capell said.
Ms. Graves said that she knew of the personal loans to Mr. Cohen, but that she thought they were taken from Mr. Rosen’s personal discretionary budget, “not the agency’s.”

Now we have potential wire fraud, forgery, and fraud by deception, and probably a host of other potential charges against Mr. Cohen for his actions with Gloria Wise and Air America. Ms. Graves also tells the New York Sun that AA has agreed to pay back $800K over the next two years, not just the $480K originally noted by the Bronx News. Fortunately, Gloria Wise remained solvent, despite the wording in Piquant Media’s earlier statements which tended to suggest otherwise.
Clearly, though, AA did not pay a dime back before this investigation broke open. Nor did they agree to pay back the illegal transfers immediately, which again underscores their fragile economic status. They still have to meet that payroll, including that of their stars, who apparently don’t mind taking their money ahead of what’s owed to the poor kids, elderly, and Alzheimers patients served by Gloria Wise.

Michelle Malkin
and Brian Maloney have plenty more on this story, including lots of links to past and present indicators of AA’s precarious position. The New York Post also has started to cover the issue, which should garner even more national attention.
One certainty has arisen: this is no “phony” story. Air America had better get out in front of this, and its supporters should stop blaming the blogs for AA’s miscreancy and demand that AA resolve the issue forthwith. Two years of dragging out payments for stolen money means two years and more of albatross-dragging for an enterprise that cannot afford any more baggage than it already has.
UPDATE: Welcome, Instapundit readers!

Saudi King Dies At 84

The Saudi king who both opened an era of closer relations with the US and lent legitimacy to the radical Islamists which target us died earler today. King Fahd had ruled in name only for the past decade after suffering a debilitating stroke and real power had been wielded by his brother, Crown Prince Abdullah, only three years younger at age 81:

“With all sorrow and sadness, the royal court in the name of his highness Crown Prince Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz and all members of the family announces the death of the custodian of the two holy mosques, King Fahd bin Abdul Aziz,” according to a statement read on state-run Saudi TV by the country’s information minister. …
The Saudi statement said the new King Abdullah announced that his half brother and the Saudi defense minister, Prince Sultan bin Abdul Aziz, 77, would be the nation’s next crown prince.
During his rule, the portly, goateed Fahd, who rose to the throne in 1982, inadvertently helped fuel the rise of Islamic extremism by making multiple concessions to hard-liners, hoping to boost his Islamic credentials. But then he also brought the kingdom closer to the United States and agreed to a step that enraged many conservatives: the basing of U.S. troops on Saudi soil after the 1990 Iraqi invasion of Kuwait.

This will not mean much in terms of any change to the relationship between the US and Saudi Arabia. Abdullah has run the country for Fahd for ten years, and Abdullah’s policies are the ones in play now. The real key to the future of Saudi-American relations may not be either Abdullah or Sultan, but whoever comes after that. Abdul-Aziz had many sons, but they have all reached old age. At some point the Saudis will have to turn to the second generation of royalty to lead their nation, a diverse generation that has both more Western and more radical Wahhabist elements than the first.
With the older generation fading away, we will probably see the true future direction of Saudi royalty in ten years or so. By that time, we had better have beaten and discredited Islamofascism, or our task may be made exponentially more difficult by the Saudi succession.