WASHINGTON— A Senate panel held a confirmation hearing Wednesday to fill the White House’s post of “regulatory czar” – a powerful but little-known position charged with reviewing rules proposed by government agencies.

President Obama tapped Howard Shelanski, an economist and lawyer, for the post in April.

If approved by the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee and confirmed by the Senate, Shelanski would serve as administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA). While not a cabinet-level position, the OIRA administrator must receive the Senate’s approval.

The administrator post at OIRA has been vacant since last August when Cass Sunstein departed after three years in the job. Boris Bershteyn, a lawyer who had served as counsel at the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), took over as acting administrator.

A small but influential office, much of OIRA’s work is to help federal agencies work through the rulemaking process. The obscure agency is in charge of making sure that the costs of regulation do not outweigh the benefits.

The Paperwork Reduction Act established OIRA in 1980 as part of the OMB. Under the 1980 act, no federal agency is allowed to collect information from American citizens without permission from OIRA. Shortly after assuming office, President Reagan gave OMB the additional responsibility of reviewing and approving rules from federal agencies. That responsibility is exercised by OIRA within OMB.

In his largely anecdotal book [1], Sunstein described just how much power the OIRA wields in the Obama administration. According to Sunstein, as the OIRA administrator he had the authority to ensure that rules were never implemented, or that the favorite rules of regulators were rejected.

“Although some people think we need to choose between regulation and having a robust, growing economy, I disagree. I believe that federal regulations should only be issued when there is a real need, when they are cost-effective, and when they make sense,” Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.), the committee’s chairman, said during the hearing. “When these conditions are satisfied, federal regulation serves an essential purpose in protecting the environment, health, safety, consumers, and our financial system.”

Shelanski said that he would continue the regulatory look-back process emphasized by Sunstein, noting that prioritization and the approach of retrospective reviews is the primary responsibility of the OIRA administrator.

ANDREW McCARTHY: “PRAGMATIC MODERATE” WINS IRAN AND THE WEST IS PREDICTABLY SWOONING The Obama administration and European leaders, so predictably, are swooning over Iran’s newly elected “pragmatic moderate” president Hassan Rouhani, who is actually a Khomeini disciple and supporter of the current, despicable Khameini regime — and who (a) wouold not have been permitted to run without the regime’s blessing, (b) enthusiastically supports Iran’s nuclear program, (c) called […]

Acceptance, Silence, and Submission: Mark Steyn **** Four years ago in this space, I was anticipating an increase in Islamic-conversion rates in the likes of Amsterdam and Rotterdam: Let’s say you work in an office in those cities: One day they install a Muslim prayer room, and a few folks head off at the designated time, while the rest of you […]

Behind Iran’s ‘Moderate’ New Leader SOHRAB AHMARI

Hassan Rohani unleashed attacks on pro-democracy student protesters in 1999. So this is what democracy looks like in a theocratic dictatorship. Iran’s presidential campaign season kicked off last month when an unelected body of 12 Islamic jurists disqualified more than 600 candidates. Women were automatically out; so were Iranian Christians, Jews and even Sunni […]


America sets the bar high in defining traitorous acts. But ‘adhering’ to the enemy in times of war? Watch out.

The case of the runaway spy Edward Snowden is igniting talk of treason. No less a figure than the speaker of the House, John Boehner, has gone on ABC’s “Good Morning America” and called Mr. Snowden a “traitor,” while the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Dianne Feinstein, deemed his revelation of U.S. surveillance methods an “act of treason.”

This is a teachable moment in respect of a heinous crime. It reminds us of why the Founders made it so difficult to bring charges of treason. But it’s also a moment to reflect on a warning sounded by an early chief justice. The constitutional protections against abuses of treason charges remain strong, but once war is levied—that is, waged—citizens will want to take care about how they behave.

For treason turns out to be unique in American law. It is the only crime that the Constitution forbids Congress from defining. It is the only crime to which a court may never accept a confession given to the police. It is the only crime for which restrictions are laid down on how much evidence juries must hear. The Constitution itself underscores that the Founders feared treason law.

The Absent Commander in Chief
Obama isn’t defending the war powers he has used so robustly.

President Obama’s admirers—who include most of the press corps, the Nobel committee and President Obama—believe above all in the power of his oratory: A “major speech,” in Philadelphia, Tucson or Cairo, can always calm troubled political waters. Which makes the silence of this wordiest of Presidents all the more unusual and dangerous amid the political uproar over National Security Agency antiterror surveillance.

In the 11 days since the story broke, Mr. Obama has offered only one brief and elliptical defense of the NSA programs. “I welcome this debate,” he said, adding that “We’ll have a chance to talk further during the course of the next couple days.”

Mr. Obama went on to spend the next couple days avoiding the debate he said he welcomed. Between fund-raising appearances in Miami Beach and Santa Monica, he squeezed in an event welcoming the women’s professional basketball championship team to the White House, an Ed Markey for Senate rally in Boston, and a celebration for gay pride month. The core national-security obligations of the Presidency? Nada.

Samuel Westrop: Prominent British Charity “Linked to Hamas” The British charity, Human Appeal International, seems more than happy to use democratic means, such as the courts, to silence its critics. Britain’s leading Jewish newspaper, The Jewish Chronicle, issued an apology recently to Human Appeal International, a British charity with a number of worldwide affiliated branches, all particularly active in the Palestinian […]

They Voted for a Moderate; Now What? by Shoshana Bryen The bad news is that Rouhani has little influence on the three major power centers in Iran. Rouhani, who knows for whom he works (and it is not the Iranian people), will try to use his negotiating skills to effect changes in American behavior toward Iran. The 686 men who expressed their desire to […]

President-Elect Hasan Rowhani on the Sublimity of Khomeini’s “Model”: Andrew Bostom

Shiite cleric Hasan Rohwani has been elected as Iran’s next President, from amongst a slate of ruling Ayatollah “guardian council”-approved candidates.

Hassan Rowhani has a lengthy history in Iranian politics, having served as the Secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council for more than 16 years. He was also a former deputy speaker of the parliament. During the Mohammad Khatami’s Presidency, in 2003, Rowhani became Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator. Rowhani maintained the post for two years before being replaced by Ali Larijani when Mahmoud Ahmadinejad assumed the presidency in 2005. He is also a member of Iran’s Expediency Discernment Council, an advisory body to the Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, as well as the Assembly of Experts, a body vested with the power to elect and remove the Supreme Leader. Rowhani is reputed to be close to both Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and former President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, the Chairman of Expediency Discernment Council.

Right until his election to the presidency, Hassan Rowhani headed the Tehran-based think tank, the Center for Strategic Research. Rowhani, in a 2009 monograph published by the Center for Strategic Research, “Islamic Political Thought, Volume I: Theory,” extolled Iranian theocrat Ayatollah Khomeini’s alleged enlightened “vision” for Islamic governance, as follows (translation kindly provided by Amil Imani):

It appears distancing from any fundamental ideals of the Islamic Revolution, would only mean to be held in the prison of western politics, “politics without ethics” or a medieval European dungeon, “backward religious thoughts”…And we all have witnessed and taken notes of the warning of great architect of the Islamic government, Ayatollah Khomeini, that we avoid falling over that cliff…[T]he Islamic Revolution and its theorists, and above all, Imam Khomeini, were exemplary leaders who were the first projected, defined and implemented a superb divine Islamic model for all humans and all times.


….FROM AND E-PAL BUD B. One wonders if all of those people and countries who are advocating a boycott of Israeli companies and products are willing to fly in aircraft not outfitted with this system
The company is based in Haifa. No gimmick, it’s the real thing.