President Obama has only about 3.5 months left in his administration — but don’t be fooled. He still has plenty of time to do lots of damage.
Obama just ceded U.S. government control over the internet by relinquishing Commerce Department oversight of ICANN, which keeps track of website addresses and names. That is only the beginning of his late fourth-quarter drive for the presidential legacy end zone.
Here are a few of the perils that lie ahead:
Get Out of Jail Free Cards
Obama will retain the power of the pardon until the moment Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton says “So help me God” on the steps of the Capitol Jan. 20, and it’s certain he intends to use it. Before his presidency is over, hundreds of convicted drug felons will have had their sentences commuted.
We know that, because hundreds already have. On Aug. 3, Obama granted clemency to 214 inmates — a single-day record. That made for a total of 562 for his presidency, more than the nine previous presidents combined, according to The Washington Post. Most were drug dealers, and 67 were serving life sentences.
Imagine the effort and risk to life and limb it took police officers to lock up these criminals who were polluting our society and killing our children with illegal drugs.
Obama’s commutations come on top of the thousands of drug offenders and other federal prisoners who have had their sentences shortened and been released — and the many no longer even being charged — because of changes in federal sentencing guidelines.
There Goes the Neighborhood
As part of Obama’s plan to urbanize the suburbs, the administration by the end of the year will likely finalize a regulation that would spur low-income Americans to take up residence in more affluent areas. The plan, which was proposed in June, would provide low-income Section 8 housing voucher recipients a bigger subsidy if they live in higher-income areas, and less cash if they are in poorer neighborhoods.
Even some Democrats think the idea is cockamamie, supposedly because it would make housing more expensive for low-income earners who don’t move. But just maybe another reason for concern is the threat that limousine liberals may be forced, literally, to live with the consequences of their programs, as the unwashed masses move in next door.
The Coast Will Soon Be Clear to Bully Israel
Israelis fear that after Election Day, when Obama no longer cares about getting Jews to the polls to elect Democrats, he will turn forcefully against Israel. Among the concerns is that he could stick it to his old nemesis, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, by allowing passage in the United Nations of some kind of anti-Israeli resolution. Obama, who declared in his remarks to the world body last month that Israel “cannot permanently occupy and settle” Arab land, could permit the resolution outlining a peace settlement favorable to the Palestinians, and then hand the fallout to his successor.
The Trans-Pacific Partnership
Both presidential candidates say they oppose the Trans-Pacific Partnership, and the deal has significant roadblocks on Capitol Hill. But don’t count Obama out. The president has already signaled he intends to make a major push to squeeze the measure through during a “lame duck” congressional session after the election.
He’s lining up the business lobby in Washington to work the halls of Congress, even summoning defeated GOP presidential candidate Ohio Gov. John Kasich to the White House for a briefing room dog-and-pony show last month designed to promote the deal. The Republican leadership, joined at the hip with the Chamber of Commerce and other DC business big wigs, wants the deal and knows that neither Clinton nor Trump would push it anytime soon, even if they went back on their word to oppose it. Come November, it may be now or never for TPP, and Obama intends to make it now.
Making Muslims a Protected Population
The White House Friday dropped into the Federal Register a proposed rule that would make those of Middle Eastern and North African heritage a new racial category, along with white, black, Hispanic, and Asian. Arabs are currently considered “white.” Ostensibly applicable to those of all religious faiths, including Christians and even Jews, it doesn’t take a Ph.D. in demography to get that this is aimed at making a race out of Muslims.
Just imagine, with their new status, the lawsuits that Muslims could launch. And imagine the new legal impediments that will be faced by officials charged with waging counterterrorism.
No-First-Use of Nuclear Weapons
President Obama is considering changing decades of U.S. policy by declaring the United States would never be the first to use nuclear weapons. Though a recent New York Times report suggested it now looks less likely he will issue such a declaration, the legacy-greedy president may still be tempted, since he believes it would mark him in history as the man who helped save the world from nuclear annihilation. But Obama’s own advisors get that a no-first-use policy would rattle our allies, who are already concerned about the America’s commitment to their defense, and remove a deterrent to bad behavior by enemies like North Korea.
Of course, this is just some of what awaits us. Obama can make more subtle mischief by, for example, refusing to enforce various laws and directing money toward domestic programs — and foreign countries — that strike his fancy.
Less than four months before years of golf begin. He’s going to make the most of it.
Keith Koffler is the editor of White House Dossier and the newsletter Cut to the News.