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Monday, November 24, 2014

Cruising the Web

Son now poor ol' Chuck Hagel has been fired is stepping down as Secretary of Defense.
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel is stepping down amid criticism of the president’s national security team on a series of global issues, including the threat posed by the militant group known as ISIS.

Senior defense officials confirmed to NBC News Monday that Hagel was forced to resign.

The officials say the White House has lost confidence in Hagel to carry out his role at the Pentagon. According to one senior official, “He wasn’t up to the job.”
Well, what a surprise that he wasn't up to the task. Remember those confirmation hearings when it was quite clear that he "wasn't up to the job." It was one of the most embarrassing performances by any major cabinet nominee.
At one point he told Sen. Saxby Chambliss, R- Ga., regarding U.S. policy toward Iran’s efforts to build nuclear weapons: “I’ve just been handed a note that I misspoke and said I supported the president’s position on ‘containment.’ If I said that, I meant to say that obviously – his position on containment – we don’t have a position on containment.”

Hagel then said, “I’ve had more attention paid to my words in the last eight weeks than I ever thought possible.”

This prompted Armed Services Committee chairman Sen. Carl Levin, D- Mich., to intervene, “Just to make sure your correction is clear, we do have a position on containment – which is we do not favor containment.” Hagel quickly concurred with Levin’s statement.

Hagel told the panel in his opening remarks that he is “fully committed to the president's goal of preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon,” and that “all options must be on the table to achieve that goal. My policy is one of prevention, and not one of containment and the President has made clear that is the policy of our government.”

At another point, Hagel, explaining his criticism quoted in a 2008 book by Aaron David Miller, of “the Jewish lobby” and his allegation that “it intimidates a lot of people” in Congress – comments for which Hagel has apologized – said he ought to not have used the word “intimidates.”

“I should have used ‘influence,’” he said.

Later, Sen. Lindsey Graham, R- S.C., challenged Hagel to “name one dumb thing we’ve been goaded into doing” by the pro-Israel lobby or to identify one member of Congress whom the pro-Israel lobby had intimidated. Hagel said, “I didn't have in mind a single person," and did not identify any policy the U.S. government had been goaded into.

Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, played Hagel a recording of an interview Hagel did in 2009 with an al Jazeera program. A listener submitted a question asking about “the image of the United States is that of the world’s bully” and whether the United States needed “to change the perception and the reality” before asking other nations to reduce their arsenals. In that 2009 program Hagel began his reply by saying, “Her observation is a good one … .”

When Cruz asked Hagel to explain this reply, he said Thursday, “I think my comment was it was a relevant and good observation. I don’t think I said that I agree with it.”
So is anyone shocked that he didn't work out as Secretary of Defense? However, it wasn't his fault that he had to carry out the pusillanimous and contradictory policies of President Obama? The fish rots from the head.

Josh Rogin of Bloomberg has some fun tweeting about Hagel's firing.

Every year I have to break it to my students that the song they learned as a child from Schoolhouse Rock about how a bill becomes a law is just a nice fairy tale. We'll put up the classic steps in their textbook and from the video of how a bill becomes a law. Then I'll ask them where are the places where a bill can be killed. Soon they realize that a bill can be killed at any stage along the way. I used to joke that it was more a story of "Kill Bill" than Schoolhouse Rock though my students are now too young to have heard of those movies. Now the story will have to be appended to talk about a new step when a president just decides unilaterally to ignore the law. And, amazingly, SNL is ahead of me on this with their opening segment.

David Harsanyi examines how truly revolutionary Obama's view of executive power is.
But he has to be the first president in American history to overtly and consistently argue that he’s empowered to legislate if Congress doesn’t pass the laws he favors. It’s an argument that’s been mainstreamed by partisans and cheered on by those in media desperate to find a morsel of triumph in this presidency.

Obama acknowledges his overreach openly every time he argues that he intends to do the job of an obstinate Republican congress. In his speech, Obama scolded those who question whether he has the authority to change the legal status of millions of people, offering this: “I have one answer: Pass a bill.”
But, as Harsanyi writes, Congress doesn't have to pass a bill. And there is little chance that the sort of bill that the Republicans might pass is one that Obama would like.
The president’s entire argument is predicated on the idea that a “broken” immigration system gives him dispensation from engaging in the process. Authoritarians, great and minor, always claim more powers to fix some unprecedented emergency. He’s not the first around these parts to do it. The thing is, our education system is also broken. Our foreign policy is broken. Our welfare system is broken, too.
Shhh. Don't tell Obama or he'll decide to ignore Congress on those issues also.

The Hill looks at those in Hillaryland are worried about. I don't know. Somehow I doubt that they're truly trembling at the thought of opposing Rand Paul. And even Elizabeth Warren is probably not a major fear for Hillary supporters. Chances are Warren won't decide to run, but if she did, it would give Hillary an opportunity to run to the middle. I just suspect that, even those who vote in Democratic primaries, the Democrats across the country are not quite as excited about Elizabeth Warren as those who cheer her from the MSNBC sidelines are. She may well be the national equivalent of Wendy Davis.

President Obama's remarks that America will be looking in 2016 for someone with "that new car smell" really sounds like a not-so-subtle dig at Hillary Clinton. Whatever one says about Hillary, she doesn't have a sense of freshness about her.

And now Dan Balz is warning that Hillary needs more to run on beyond saying that she would be the first female president. She needs a reason why she is running. And so far she doesn't have that yet.
Still, machinery doesn’t win elections, which means the second and more important step for her is to know exactly why she wants to run for president again and how she is alike and different from her husband and Obama, and then to be able to articulate those reasons in a compelling and forward-looking message.

Clinton is nibbled from all sides as she thinks through the rationale for a campaign. On the left are rising demands for a populist economic message of the kind associated with Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts. She has edged toward that, but sometimes awkwardly, as when she said last month, “businesses don’t create jobs,” a shorthand that baffled nearly everyone by its inarticulateness....

Her prospective candidacy offers the possibility of the first female president in history, but for all the power behind that aspiration, it is not a message. Nor, as the midterms proved, are narrow appeals to women of the kind that fell short for Democratic candidates for Senate in Iowa and Colorado — two states vitally important in a general election.
Ryan Lizza at the New Yorker notes that Hillary hasn't said anything about reforming the NSA or the Keystone pipeline.

Zoltan L. Hajnal writes in the NYT about how the Democrats may have a problem with white voters after the President's immigration move. That may or may not be true. But what struck me is how the writer lumps Latinos and Asian-Americans together as supporting the President's action. I really wonder if that is so. Few of the Asian-Americans who have come to this country have come here illegally. Most of them have waited and worked hard to get visas allowing them to come. I've noticed in my classes that, whenever the subject of immigration reform comes up, the Asian-American students in the class take a much harder line than the white students because they're aware of what their parents went through in order to come here. They represent the groups who waited in line to come here according to the rules and they're not impressed with those who didn't.

Josiah Neeley explains how the efforts to block Keystone are really about how to "milk" more donations from interest groups who want to influence the decision.
In this case, Keystone pits two traditionally Democratic allies each other. In one corner are well-heeled environmentalists, who have spent big fighting Keystone in the court of public opinion. In the other corner is organized labor, which largely favors approval as a source of jobs, and even some energy companies (which have contributed to Landrieu’s campaign). Any final decision on Keystone would risk alienating a key Democratic constituent (and would threaten to cut off the pipeline of campaign donations). By keeping the issue in everlasting limbo, however, Democrats can continually use the prospect of Keystone approval as a renewable resource both financially and electorally.
Meanwhile the Washington Post gives Obama three Pinnochios for his claim that the Keystone XL crude would go "everywhere else" except the United States.

Politico explains all the mistakes the Democrats made in their efforts to take over Texas. They just have no understanding of the state.

The media reporter at the Baltimore Sun marvels at the dominance Fox News had on election night swamping not only the other cable news channels, but also the network news. Well, the networks devoted very little time to covering the election results. So why would people interested in the results tune into them. And given that it looked like it was going to be a night of triumph for the GOP, wouldn't it make sense that more Republicans would be tuned into the results than Democrats? And is it all that surprising that those Republican viewers would tune into Fox rather than CNN or MSNBC?

Charles Krauthammer explains how phony the supposedly historic climate deal with China really is.
Unfortunately, the Obama-Xi agreement is nothing of the sort. It is a fraud of Gruberian (as in Jonathan) proportions. Its main plank commits China to begin cutting carbon emissions 16 years from now. On the other hand, the United States, having already cut more carbon emissions than any nation on earth since 2005, must now double its current rate of carbon cutting to meet a new, more restrictive goal by 2025. In return for which, China will keep increasing its carbon emissions year after year throughout that period — and for five years beyond.

If this sounds like the most one-sided deal since Manhattan sold for $24 in 1626, you heard right.
It makes one full of faith of what quality deal Secretary Kerry will negotiate with Iran, doesn't it?

Israel is not impressed with the proposed deal that Kerry is working on with Iran. After all, we've seen in the past what happens when the international community puts its faith in inspections.
But "our intelligence agencies are not perfect," an Israeli official said. "We did not know for years about Natanz and Qom. And inspection regimes are certainly not perfect. They weren't in the case in North Korea, and it isn't the case now – Iran's been giving the IAEA the run around for years about its past activities."

"What's going to happen with that?" the official continued. "Are they going to sweep that under the rug if there's a deal?"

On Saturday afternoon, reports from Vienna suggested the P5+1 – the US, United Kingdom, France, Russia, China and Germany – are willing to stop short of demanding full disclosure of any secret weapon work by Tehran.
But that is not the only weakness in the deal. We're no longer asking Iran to dismantle its nuclear weapons program.
But compounding Israel's fears, the proposal Jerusalem has seen shows that mass dismantlement of Iran's nuclear infrastructure – including the destruction, and not the mere warehousing, of its parts – is no longer on the table in Vienna.

"Iran's not being asked to dismantle the nuclear infrastructure," the Israeli official said, having seen the proposal before the weekend. "Right now what they're talking about is something very different. They're talking about Ayatollah Khamenei allowing the P5+1 to save face."
And that oversight of Iran's program have an end date.
Yet, more than any single enforcement standard or cap included in the deal, Israel believes the Achilles' heel of the proposed agreement is its definitive end date – the sunset clause.

"You've not dismantled the infrastructure, you've basically tried to put limits that you think are going to be monitored by inspectors and intelligence," said the official, "and then after this period of time, Iran is basically free to do whatever it wants."
Oh, here is the most predictable breaking news story - Iran nuclear talks are being extended. Of course they are. That's all Iran wants - to delay things while they keep doing research and move ahead with their plans while pretending to negotiate with gullible diplomats like our dear John Kerry..

Nate Cohn explains why, contrary to the dire warnings from Democrats, voter ID laws don't swing many elections.

Dan McLaughlin has done an exhaustive study of how the various polling firms did in 2014.

Deroy Murdock notices how the NAACP ignored the election of three Republican blacks to Congress.

This is quite funny - The college essay by the boy from Jurassic Park. It captures all the artificiality and pomposity of such essays.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Cruising the Web

This headline from Ed Morrissey about sums it up.
Semi-retired President invokes the Sick And Tired clause of the Constitution
Obama claims that he has to act because Congress hasn't acted doesn't mean that he can just ignore Congress. In fact, knowing that Obama was planning this action, the voters sure didn't vote an endorsement of Democrats in this past election. If the situation was so exigent, why didn't he move in the first two years when he had control of both houses and could have easily passed what he wanted? If the situation was such an emergency, why could he postpone it until after the election? His reasoning simply disintegrates in face of those questions.

As someone who isn't necessarily opposed to some sort of amnesty for illegal immigrants who have been here working, I'm still appalled by the President's action. This will send the message to anyone who wants to come here and not wait in line for legal documents that they just have to get here and wait around for amnesty. The border has to be better secured first before such a regularization of immigrants' legal status can go through or all we are doing is strengthening the magnet. But this has to be done legislatively. Every day I teach students about how the Constitution is supposed to work. And nowhere in there is there a section that says that a president who hasn't been able to get Congress to go along can just do it on his own. That violates every principle underlying the structure of our government. And once stretched like this by Obama, it will never return. We've been expanding the powers of the federal government and the president since 1788 but this is one huge increase of a different character that will fundamentally alter our system of supposed checks and balances.

The President included a section in his speech saying how Homeland Security will be focused on going after the criminals trying to enter the country. Really? Six years into his presidency, he's just deciding to do this? Please.

Rich Lowry examines the lawlessness of the President's action.
President Obama insisted the other day that his previous ringing statements about the separation of powers were only in response to questions about whether he could impose comprehensive immigration reform on his own. This is so demonstrably false, you wonder why he even bothered. As Glenn Kessler of the Washington Post demonstrated, the president was repeatedly asked about exactly the sort of action he is now about to undertake.

The president and his supporters pretend that the Immigration and Nationality Act contains a gigantic asterisk that says, notwithstanding the elaborate legal infrastructure set out in the law and the distinctions among different categories of immigrants, the president can do whatever he wants.

No Congress would ever write the law this way. And even if it did, it wouldn't pass constitutional muster.
"The case law," according to David Rivkin of the law firm Baker Hostetler, "clearly recognizes that delegations of any type of legislative authority to the president must contain some limiting principles; they can never be open-ended. To do otherwise, would unconstitutionally transfer core legislative powers to the president."

The president's defenders rely on the notion of prosecutorial discretion, the existence of which is uncontroversial. The executive doesn’t have the resources to hunt down and prosecute every violator of our laws, and therefore has to establish enforcement priorities.

The Congressional Research Service did a report on prosecutorial discretion and immigration that, for the most part, emphasizes its piddling reach. It says, for instance, that immigration officers may use discretion to decide whom to stop, question, and arrest; whether to issue or cancel a Notice to Appear; whether to settle or dismiss a proceeding; and so on.

No one heretofore has thought this leeway could be used by a president as warrant to eviscerate an entire statutory scheme.

Again, if the reporting is accurate, the administration will announce a class of people numbering in the millions that can get work permits, Social Security numbers, and legal identification, at clear variance with the laws passed by Congress.

This isn’t prosecutorial discretion—making enforcement decisions based on limited resources—it is affirmatively expending resources not appropriated by Congress for this purpose to administer a new system.

Under the Obama precedent, future presidents can use the pretense of prosecutorial discretion to dispense with swaths of the federal code and unilaterally come up with alternatives.

Can’t prosecute all pot dealers? Ignore the drug laws. Can’t find every tax scofflaw in the country? Re-write the tax code. The only limits will be the legal imagination and brazenness of the White House at any given moment.

Obama and Reid sure have changed their minds on illegal immigration over the years.
Pop quiz time. Who said the following?

Number one: “There’s no denying that many blacks share the same anxieties as many whites about the wave of illegal immigration flooding our Southern border — a sense that what’s happening now is fundamentally different from what has gone on before. Not all of these fears are irrational.”

Number two: “Taxpayers simply cannot continue to sustain new populations the size of San Diego or the state of Nevada every year.”

Number three: “If this huge influx of mostly low-skill workers provides some benefits to the economy … it also threatens to depress further the wages of blue-collar Americans and put strains on an already over-burdened safety net.”

Number four: “Americans have sat freely around a bountiful dinner table. The table is becoming overcrowded. People are squeezing in and elbowing each other to get what they want. Unless changes are made, our dinner table eventually will collapse, and no one will have security and opportunity.”

Number five: “Native-born Americans suspect that it is they, and not the immigrant, who are being forced to adapt.”

The answers are: Barack Obama, numbers 1, 3 and 5. Harry Reid, 2 and 4.

But that was then (in Barack’s case 2006, in Reid’s 1994) and this is now.
Avik Roy refutes the implication of Obama's order that these new legalized illegal immigrants will be paying "their fair share of taxes."
But the vast majority of undocumented aliens don’t make enough in income to have a net income-tax liability. As I note in Forbes, a 2006 analysis by the Century Foundation, a progressive think tank, concludes that “we can be virtually certain that illegal immigrants earned less than $24,000 per year, on average, probably much less.” That amounts to around $29,000 in 2014 dollars, well below the threshold where an American has a net income-tax liability.

Legalizing this population is unlikely to result in significantly higher payroll-tax revenue, because many illegals have fake Social Security numbers that their employers use to pay payroll taxes on their behalf. Century estimates that “about $6 billion in annual payroll taxes are allocated to non-existent Social Security accounts. . . . This sum is certainly more than any income taxes that would be owed on the earnings involved.”

Century concludes that “it is likely that the undocumented workers will end up receiving rather than paying the Treasury money.” (Emphasis in the original.)
Roy goes on in Forbes to explain how Obama's order will involve Obamacare.
In 2014, two-member households with incomes below $62,920—400 percent of the Federal Poverty Level—are eligible for subsidized coverage on Obamacare’s insurance exchanges. Those with incomes below 138 percent of FPL, in states that expanded Medicaid, are eligible for that program.

One key point is that Obamacare’s employer mandate, combined with the President’s executive order, incentivizes companies to hire amnestied illegal immigrants over low-income U.S. citizens. The employer mandate’s fines are only levied on companies that don’t offer health coverage to workers eligible for Obamacare exchange subsidies; if the amnestied population is not eligible for those subsidies, employers are better off higher those individuals over legal immigrants and citizens.
Roy also points out that Republicans should pass the sort of bill strengthening the border that they've been wanting to pass.
While much of the talk on Capitol Hill has been about shutting down the government in response to the Obama executive order, what Republicans ought to do is pass the border security bill they’ve always wanted to pass. They no longer need to trade border security for amnesty, because the President has already granted amnesty. “With the family-visa issue out of the way, the new GOP majority would be free to pass immigration policies it prefers,” observes former George W. Bush staffer Juleanna Glover.
The GOP should put together separate bills addressing specific problems with immigration and send those to Obama. See if he'll veto what he has professed to support. Now that they don't have to make tradeoffs for amnesty, they can pass commonsense provisions. The WSJ, which has been supportive of regularizing the status of illegal immigrants, but opposes the President's lawlessness makes this recommendation.
The best GOP revenge would be to trump him on immigration. Before Mr. Obama’s decree, smart Republicans were discussing a legislative strategy focusing on piecemeal immigration reforms. Separate bills addressing individual problems (border security, agriculture and tech visas) could pass with rotating majorities that show the GOP has immigration solutions of its own. Some bills might get to Mr. Obama’s desk, forcing him to reveal his cynical political hand if he uses his veto to block durable reform.
And no, what Reagan and Bush did were not precedents for what Obama has done. As Gabriel Maior writes,
What the Progressive commentariat is not telling you is that the Reagan and Bush immigration orders looked nothing like Obama’s creation of a new, open-ended form of immigration relief....

In 1986, faced with a large and growing population of illegal aliens, Congress created a new, time-limited form of immigration relief for certain aliens who, among other things, had to have come to the United States more than six years previously. This is the much ballyhooed Reagan amnesty. It was, unfortunately, riddled with fraud in its execution, the uncovering of which is still roiling the immigrant community. But even setting that aside it left President Reagan with a moral dilemma. Congress’ amnesty was large—just shy of 3 million people—and it had the unanticipated effect of splitting up freshly-legalized parents from their illegally-present minor children who did not qualify for relief.

So Reagan, seeing this family unity problem that Congress had not anticipated or addressed when it granted amnesty to millions of parents, issued an executive order to defer the removal of children of the people who had applied for immigration amnesty under Congress’ new law. He allowed those children to remain in the United States while their parents’ applications for amnesty were pending. A few years later, Bush 41 extended this bit of administrative grace to these same children plus certain spouses of the aliens who had actually been granted immigration amnesty under Congress’ new law.

Congress, though it had desired to grant amnesty, had not considered and not included the spouses and children. Importantly, nor had it excluded them. So Presidents Reagan and Bush 41 filled that statutory gap. “What do we do with spouses and children?” INS asked. “Well,” the executive branch leaders said, “defer their deportation. Decline to exercise your lawful authority for the particular cases that are related to those Congress has offered amnesty.”

These Reagan and Bush 41 executive actions were obviously different than what Obama is doing now. They were trying to implement a complicated amnesty that Congress had already passed. Congress’ action was a form of immigration relief that obviously fit within our constitutional system. Moreover, Congress left a gap when it came to immediate family members, including minor children, of individuals who qualified for the amnesty. Presidents Reagan and Bush 41 forbore from deporting people in that select group.

Obama, in contrast to Reagan and Bush 41, is not trying to implement a lawfully created amnesty. There has been no congressional amnesty. In fact, there has been no immigration action from Congress in the past few years except the post-9/11 REAL ID Act of 2005, which made it harder, not easier, for aliens to qualify for immigration relief. More than that, Congress declined to pass a legalization of the type Obama is issuing during both Obama’s term and in a hotly-contested bill during President Bush 43′s term.

Thus, Obama is clearly contravening both ordinary practice and the wishes of Congress—as expressed in statute—by declaring an amnesty himself. This is nothing like Reagan’s or Bush’s attempts to implement Congress’ amnesty. The progressive media’s claims otherwise are blatant lies, relying on their readers’ ignorance of events in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Such attempts should be rejected wherever they are found.

Meanwhile, this is truly scary.
Critical U.S. infrastructures are being penetrated by foreign states in preparation for devastating future cyber attacks designed to cripple electrical power, communications and financial networks, the commander of the U.S. Cyber Command told Congress on Thursday.

Adm. Mike Rogers, Cybercom chief and director of the National Security Agency, said foreign states have broken into the networks that control industrial systems for a range of what the U.S. government considers 16 critical infrastructures, ranging from electrical power, water, telecommunications and financial systems.

“We have seen instances where we’re observing intrusions into industrial control systems,” Rogers told the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.

“What concerns us is that access, that capability, can be used by nation-states, groups or individuals to take down that capability,” he said, noting that hackers believed linked to Iran destroyed 3,000 computers at the Saudi state oil company Aramco.
If this comes to pass, we won't have to worry about regularizing illegal immigrants. We'll have much bigger problems to worry about. And perhaps we'll wonder if the Department of Homeland Security should have been more focused on protecting us from cyber attacks than spending the entire year trying to figure out the President's amnesty plan.

The Associated Press fact-checks the President.
OBAMA: "It does not grant citizenship, or the right to stay here permanently, or offer the same benefits that citizens receive - only Congress can do that. All we're saying is we're not going to deport you."

THE FACTS: He's saying, and doing, more than that. The changes also will make those covered eligible for work permits, allowing them to be employed in the country legally and compete with citizens and legal residents for better-paying jobs.


OBAMA: "Although this summer, there was a brief spike in unaccompanied children being apprehended at our border, the number of such children is now actually lower than it's been in nearly two years."

THE FACTS: The numbers certainly surged this year, but it was more than a "brief spike." The number of unaccompanied children apprehended at the border has been on the rise since the 2011 budget year. That year about 16,000 children were found crossing the border alone. In 2012, the Border Patrol reported more than 24,000 children, followed by more than 38,800 in 2013. In the last budget year, more than 68,361 children were apprehended.


OBAMA: "Overall, the number of people trying to cross our border illegally is at its lowest level since the 1970s. Those are the facts."

THE FACTS: Indeed, in the 2014 budget year the Border Patrol made 486,651 arrests of border crossers, among the fewest since the early 1970s. But border arrests have been on the rise since 2011.

The decline in crossings is not purely, or perhaps even primarily, due to the Obama administration. The deep economic recession early in his presidency and the shaky aftermath made the U.S. a less attractive place to come for work. The increase in arrests since 2011 also can be traced in part to the economy — as the recovery improved, more people came in search of opportunity.


OBAMA: "When I took office, I committed to fixing this broken immigration system. And I began by doing what I could to secure our borders."

THE FACTS: He overlooked the fact that he promised as a candidate for president in 2008 to have an immigration bill during his first year in office and move forward on it quickly. He never kept that promise to the Latino community.
Ed Morrissey notes a fact check from Jay Carney of all people.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Cruising the Web

Here's a true sign of how far Obama has fallen - the networks aren't going to air his prime-time address tonight.

Thomas Sowell slashes away at the idea that it is the "legacy of slavery" that is keeping blacks poor today.
Kristof’s other “overwhelming” evidence of the current effects of past slavery is that blacks do not have as much income as whites. But Puerto Ricans do not have as much income as Japanese Americans. Mexican Americans do not have as much income as Cuban Americans. All sorts of people do not have as much income as all sorts of other people, not only in the United States, but in countries around the world. And most of these people were never enslaved.

If we wanted to be serious about evidence, we might compare where blacks stood a hundred years after the end of slavery with where they stood after 30 years of the liberal welfare state. In other words, we could compare hard evidence on “the legacy of slavery” with hard evidence on the legacy of liberals.

Despite the grand myth that black economic progress began or accelerated with the passage of the Civil Rights laws and “War on Poverty” programs of the 1960s, the cold fact is that the poverty rate among blacks fell from 87 percent in 1940 to 47 percent by 1960. This was before any of those programs began.

Over the next 20 years, the poverty rate among blacks fell another 18 percentage points, compared to the 40-point drop in the previous 20 years. This was the continuation of a previous economic trend, at a slower rate of progress, not the economic grand deliverance proclaimed by liberals and self-serving black “leaders.”

Ending the Jim Crow laws was a landmark achievement. But, despite the great proliferation of black political and other “leaders” that resulted from the laws and policies of the 1960s, nothing comparable happened economically. And there were serious retrogressions socially.

Nearly a hundred years of the supposed “legacy of slavery” found most black children being raised in two-parent families in 1960. But thirty years after the liberal welfare state found the great majority of black children being raised by a single parent.

The murder rate among blacks in 1960 was one-half of what it became 20 years later, after a legacy of liberals’ law-enforcement policies.
The evidence goes on and on. It's amazing what happens when factual evidence is put up against emotional arguments.
If you know someone who would benefit from such arguments, I would suggest any book by Sowell as a present.
Or Sowell himself recommends Jason Riley's new book.
If we are to go by evidence of social retrogression, liberals have wreaked more havoc on blacks than the supposed “legacy of slavery” they talk about. Liberals should heed the title of Jason Riley’s insightful new book, Please Stop Helping Us.
Taking the opposite view from many black liberals, Juan Williams celebrates black Republicans who were elected to Congress this year.

David Brooks is so very disappointed in Barack Obama. When once it seemed to be enough that Obama had crisp creases in his pants, now The One is just not playing politics in the way that Brooks approves. What is funny is how Brooks bemoans how Obama is getting sucked into the sort of obstructionism that he used to oppose. Oh, please. Where is the evidence that Obama ever worked in a bipartisan fashion whether as a senator or as president to craft substantive policy proposals?

Ramesh Ponnuru makes mincemeat of some of the arguments that liberals are making now about why Obama is right to go ahead with his plans for executive amnesty.
The second response is that the president has to act because the system is broken. Nathan Pippenger, writing at Democracy's blog, argues that the president is striking a mighty blow against "the normalization of dysfunction." This is very different, he says, from saying that the president should act whenever he doesn't get his way. But he never explains the alleged difference. The closest he comes is to complain that House Republicans haven't held a vote on the Senate immigration bill and that they haven't followed through on promises to pass one of their own.

I tend to think that the House's failure to pass a deeply flawed Senate bill is a sign of the political system's health, even if the status quo isn't anybody's ideal. But let's assume for the sake of argument that the bill is worth enacting. The House's failure to go along doesn't give the president a license to do what he pleases. Pippenger suggests that the presence of millions of illegal immigrants in our country may constitute a "crisis," but doesn't fully endorse the idea. He was right to stop short. Illegal immigrants and the rest of us have managed to put up with this -- again, admittedly less-than-ideal -- situation for years. The president himself decided that action could wait until after the election. There's no justification for dispensing with the normal mandate that legislation is required for major policy changes.

The alternative isn't for the president to "surrender." It's for him to accept the limits of his constitutional authority.
Meanwhile, Mark Krikorian looks at the amnesties that Reagan and George H.W. Bush signed and how they were nowhere on the scope that Obama is contemplating.
Whatever their merits, the Reagan and Bush measures were modest attempts at faithfully executing legislation duly enacted by Congress. Obama’s planned amnesty decree is Caesarism, pure and simple. “Precedent” isn’t the right word for the Obama crowd’s invocation of Reagan. The right word is “pretext.”
We cannot establish the precedent that, whenever a president doesn't get Congress to pass a policy proposal he likes, he can go ahead and do it on his own authority. Barack Obama used to understand that. As Glenn Kessler of the Washington Post demonstrates, Obama is quite clearly reversing himself from previous statements he'd made that the President doesn't have the power to do this sort of executive order absent action from Congress. In fact he has said so 22 separate times.

Daniel Henninger explains the real problem for Democrats in the Gruber videos.
The problem is not one MIT economist’s arrogance. The problem is that the technocracy itself has become a political problem for the Democratic Party.

For some 80 years, that technocracy has been the life force of the Democratic Party. Now it’s a kind of noxious green sludge consuming the party.

Calling itself “the administrative state,” a technocratic army of social scientists, lawyers and bureaucrats has kept the Democratic Party supplied for decades with the policy details behind its promises to the electorate. ObamaCare was going to be one more victory march into the end zone of federal entitlements with a playbook designed by Jon Gruber and the other grandchildren of the original administrative elites.

But no one’s popping champagne for this one. When 50 years from now historians search for evidence of when the Democratic Party’s decline began, they’ll fix on this famous blurting of the truth about ObamaCare by House Speaker Pelosi: “We have to pass the bill so that you can find out what’s in it.”
For over a century, liberals have put forth the idea that they have good intentions to help people and when you put those intentions together with running the government through the benevolent actions a disinterested experts, they could achieve great things. Unfortunately, the results don't bear out these assumptions.

Jon Stewart has a lot of fun ridiculing "Petty Woman" Nancy Pelosi who stuck by antiquated caucus rules to prevent Tammy Duckworth from voting by proxy since Duckworth is eight months pregnant and has been advised by her doctor not to travel to Washington.
"Seriously, you should go." Ouch.

Pelosi argued that she didn't want to create a precedent whereby all sorts of members would be ducking their responsibilities and skipping important caucus meetings. But there was an alternative that has been used for decades. Someone who was going to vote the opposite of Tammy Duckworth could have abstained and thus made moot Duckworth's absence. A thoughtful Speaker could have facilitated such a maneuver. But not the Petty Woman.

And the precedent argument is so bogus. As Christine Rousselle writes,
The "slippery slope" argument is essentially moot--there simply are not that many pregnant congresswomen to merit alarm.
Apparently, House Democrats were not impressed with Pelosi's pettiness and voted down her candidate for the House Energy and Commerce Committee anyway.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Cruising the Web

Well now that Mary Landrieu's pretense of exercising her supposed influence to get a Keystone bill through the Senate has fallen short, she seems to have no hope of winning her runoff election. Why should Louisiana voters choose to keep her there for her supposed influence when her influence couldn't get through a bill when her party is in control of the Senate? They can elect Cassidy and look for the new GOP majority to easily pass in January what Landrieu couldn't get done for the past several years. I count up 9 Democrats who voted Yea and who will be in the Senate come January. So the Republicans can easily pass the bill then. And they still won't have the 2/3 vote to override a veto. And now it turns out that she hasn't been such a leader on energy issues as she is now pretending. Bloomberg News reports,
Yet her outspokenness and perseverance in legislative forums is relatively new, emerging in the 10 months since she took over the chairmanship of the Senate Energy and National Resources Committee and as she faces an uphill battle in a Dec. 6 runoff against Republican Representative Bill Cassidy.

Between January 2009 and this week, Landrieu didn't speak or submit written testimony or questions at almost 70 percent of the energy committee hearings, according to an analysis of congressional records, videos and transcripts....

But Landrieu hasn't always been so vocal on the energy panel. From 2009 to 2010 she was silent at or skipped 65 of 87 hearings. From 2011 to 2012, she didn't say anything at or didn't attend 50 of 66 meetings. And from 2013 to 2014, her presence was undetectable at 22 of 47 sessions. Some of those hearings covered important issues for her coastal state, including the potential for oil spills, gas prices, the Department of Energy's budget, nominations of key energy regulators, the implementation of the stimulus bill, and the current status of the Strategic Petroleum Reserve.
Defenders will say that legislators typically miss committee hearings. Perhaps that is evidence that Congress is doing too much missable stuff. I do an activity with my students when we cover the Congress unit and give them an excerpt that David Price, a Democratic representative from our area of North Carolina wrote. He includes a schedule from a typical day in his life as a congressman. The students soon notice that he has overlapping meetings all day long. He meets with constituents and interest groups, pops in at several committee meetings and then goes to several fundraisers in the evening. He's busy from early in the morning until late in the evening. Then I ask the class what he does not have on his schedule. Someone will finally notice that there is no time on his daily schedule for him to read bills, do research, or have a briefing on a policy. If this is what they're doing all day long, how do they have time to understand the policies they're voting on? They have to just vote the way their party leadership or interest groups or aides advise them to. Is this what the Founders had in mind when they set up a system of representative democracy?

I start off the unit on Congress by giving them Edmund Burke's famous speech on what it means to be a representative.
Your representative owes you, not his industry only, but his judgment; and he betrays, instead of serving you, if he sacrifices it to your opinion.
We discuss the trust model of a representative as Burke enunciates it and the delegate model in which a representative just votes how his or her constituents want. Some students prefer one model or the other. But what we seem to have now is something else in which representatives vote how their party or interest groups indicate they should. They are neither delegates of their constituents' choices or representatives whose judgment we can trust.

The NYT reports that, just as Al Sharpton has become a more important member of the liberal movement praised by Democrats from President Obama to Mayor de Blasio, he seems to have somehow neglected to pay taxes.
Mr. Sharpton has regularly sidestepped the sorts of obligations most people see as inevitable, like taxes, rent and other bills. Records reviewed by The New York Times show more than $4.5 million in current state and federal tax liens against him and his for-profit businesses.

And though he said in recent interviews that he was paying both down, his balance with the state, at least, has actually grown in recent years. His National Action Network appears to have been sustained for years by not paying federal payroll taxes on its employees.

With the tax liability outstanding, Mr. Sharpton traveled first class and collected a sizable salary, the kind of practice by nonprofit groups that the United States Treasury’s inspector general for tax administration recently characterized as “abusive,” or “potentially criminal” if the failure to turn over or collect taxes is willful.

Mr. Sharpton and the National Action Network have repeatedly failed to pay travel agencies, hotels and landlords. He has leaned on the generosity of friends and sometimes even the organization, intermingling its finances with his own to cover his daughters’ private school tuition.
And this is the man who has bragged about his influence in helping Obama choose the next attorney general. This guy has built his career on corruption and despicable race-baiting. Why should anyone expect him to have changed? Kudos to the NYT for this detailed report.

Politico says that Democrats are craving Obama's leadership. But wasn't it his leadership that has led them to lose both houses of Congress as well as several governorships and state legislators?
Democrats are in worse shape than when President Barack Obama came into office — the number of seats they have in Congress, the number of governors, a party approval rating that’s fallen behind Republicans for the first time in recent history, enthusiasm, energy. The White House, Brazile said when she came to meet with Simas, has got to focus for the next two years on getting the party into better shape, and Obama’s the best and most effective person to get out the message.
Story Continued Below
As much Hillary Clinton anticipation as there is, two weeks later, Democrats are still reeling and anxious. Obama may have built his political career without the party — and created anti-establishment alternatives — but he’s a lame duck with a new Congress that’s been elected to oppose him. He needs Democrats. And they need him.
“The base craves his leadership,” Brazile said in an interview later that week, following a meeting of the DNC committee that’s beginning to set the rules for the next presidential nomination. “They want him in the mix, talking about what Democrats accomplished, what Democrats are fighting for, and what the president has done to make lives better.”

....“He may or may not be the best messenger,” said Vic Fazio, the former California congressman who was the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee chair for the 1994 rout. “But at this point, he is still our messenger. And the first year is very important.”
At least until the next presidential campaign begins in earnest, Democrats say, it’ll be up to Obama to centralize the Democratic message around something other than simply trying to paint the Republicans as extreme.
Isn't this what Obama has been blaming his party's losses on - that he hasn't been able to communicate to the American people how wonderful his policies have been for the country? And somehow, the American people are all too "stupid" to understand just how fantastic everything Obama has done has been for our country and world affairs.

Sean Davis collates all the evidence that Jonathan Gruber played a key position in designing Obamacare and that Democrats were touting him as such up until these embarrassing videos emerged.
Jonathan Gruber was a key architect of Obamacare who was intimately involved in the drafting of the legislation.

That is a fact. It is not arguable. It is not assailable. It is backed up by overwhelming contemporaneous evidence long before Gruber became a controversial figure whose loose lips threatened to sink the Obamacare ship. And the people who pimped Gruber as the all-knowing health care savior who single-handedly built the model that guaranteed a future of health care glory were not Obamacare’s critics. They were its most ardent proponents.
You can now watch a clarifying two-minute video of Gruber's greatest hits that pairs Democrats praising his importance for crafting the bill with some of his more honest videos expressing what the Democrats were thinking as they merrily misled the American people.

David Harsanyi explains why Obama's actions to try to legislate without Congress is ultimately more damaging to the country than whatever actions he takes on immigration. I've been teaching checks and balances this week in my A.P. Government class and I can't help thinking that the typical list of what the Constitution created for each branch to balance the others is now totally out of date. And the harm of creating the many precedents that Obama has created of executive action beyond the laws that Congress may or may not pass is a harm that will endure much longer than the effects of anything he does on immigration.

Mark Steyn isn't impressed with Obama's skills at social media and the role of the American media in deceiving the public.
Kate McMillan contrasts the fawning media coverage from a couple of years back about Obama's brilliant use of social media with the revelation that over 60 per cent of Obamacare Facebook comments come from just 100 users. She adds:
It doesn't matter if you "win" the social media battle. What matters is that you convince an incurious, supportive media that you've won. That's why they spend so much effort on faking it.
This is true, and an important point. Almost every aspect of Obama's "cool" - from his peerless communication skills to his genius at cutting-edge social media - is totally bogus. His real genius is in pulling the wool over the media's eyes, and given that they walk into the room wearing back-to-front ski-masks that doesn't take much doing, either. For example, Jonathan Gruber couldn't get away with his contempt for the American people if he didn't also have a contempt for the American media. In the latter case at least, it's well deserved.