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Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Cruising the Web

What type of evil lunacy would motivate the New York Times to publish Officer Wilson's personal address? Do they really want to incite more violence? What other motivation could they have?

President Obama just admitted publicly that he "just took an action to change the law." So much for claiming that all that was happening was prosecutorial discretion.
"Listen, you know -- here. Can I just say this, all right? I've listened to you. I heard you. I heard you. I heard you. All right? Now I have been respectful, I let you holler. All right? So let me just -- nobody is removing you. I have heard you, but you have got to listen to me, too. All right? And I understand you may disagree, I understand you may disagree. But we have got to be able to talk honestly about these issues, all right?

"Now, you're absolutely right that there have been significant numbers of deportations. That's true. But what you are not paying attention to is the fact that I just took an action to change the law."
Just what conservatives have been saying all along. Obama was acting unconstitutionally to change the law without the action of Congress.

John Cassidy writes at the New Yorker that forcing Hagel's resignation raises questions about Obama's judgment.
Perhaps the move is a reflection of Hagel’s managerial skills and his occasional public stumbles, as some have argued. However, it also raises questions about Obama’s judgment in a number of respects: in hiring Hagel in the first place; in his Administration’s failure to foresee the series of challenges the Pentagon is now facing; and in the execution of its efforts to roll back the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham.
As Michael Crowley writes, Obama hasn't solved his problems with foreign policy with firing Hagel.
Both Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and The New York Times editorial page agreed that, in the words of the Times, Hagel “was not the core of the Obama administration’s military problem. That lies with the president and a national security policy that has too often been incoherent and shifting at a time of mounting international challenges” and “tightly controlled… by a small group of aides.”

....And while some say that dumping Hagel was intended, in part, to cool the criticism of Obama’s foreign policy machinations, the immediate effect has been to draw more attention to the way life-and-death decisions are made in the White House Situation Room — and why they’re not working out better in trouble spots like from Syria to Ukraine.
Some close observers say the responsibility is borne by a few key officials, including national security advisor Susan Rice and White House chief of staff Denis McDonough, who have further centralized decision-making, cut midlevel officials out of the policy process and convened endless meetings before making decisions.

Well, now he tells us.
Sen. Chuck Schumer upbraided his own party Tuesday for pushing the Affordable Care Act through Congress in 2010.

While Schumer emphasized during a speech at the National Press Club that he supports the law and that its policies "are and will continue to be positive changes," he argued that the Democrats acted wrongly in using their new mandate after the 2008 election to focus on the issue rather than the economy at the height of a terrible recession.

"After passing the stimulus, Democrats should have continued to propose middle-class-oriented programs and built on the partial success of the stimulus, but unfortunately Democrats blew the opportunity the American people gave them," Schumer said. "We took their mandate and put all of our focus on the wrong problem—health care reform."

The third-ranking Senate Democrat noted that just about 5 percent of registered voters in the United States lacked health insurance before the implementation of the law, arguing that to focus on a problem affecting such "a small percentage of the electoral made no political sense."

The larger problem, affecting most Americans, he said, was a poor economy resulting from the recession. "When Democrats focused on health care, the average middle-class person thought, 'The Democrats aren't paying enough attention to me,' " Schumer said.

The health care law should have come later, Schumer argued, after Democrats had passed legislation to help the middle class weather the recession. Had Democrats pushed economic legislation, he said, "the middle class would have been more receptive to the idea that President Obama wanted to help them" and, in turn, they would have been more receptive to the health care law.

Schumer said he told fellow Democrats in the lead-up to the passage of the Affordable Care Act that it was the wrong time to pass the law.

"People thought—and I understand this—lots of people thought this was the only time to do this, it's very important to do. And we should have done it. We just shouldn't have done it first," he said. "We were in the middle of a recession. People were hurting and saying, 'What about me? I'm losing my job. It's not health care that bothers me. What about me?' … About 85 percent of all Americans were fine with their health care in 2009, mainly because it was paid for by either the government or their employer, private sector. So they weren't clamoring. The average middle-class voter, they weren't opposed to doing health care when it started out, but it wasn't at the top of the agenda."
It would have been nice if he'd been that up front with his doubts back in 2009 and 2010. Conservatives were arguing at the time that, since the great majority of people were happy with their health insurance, any health reform should have been much narrower and targeted the people who honestly couldn't get health insurance instead of up-ending the entire health care system. Schumer is just being honest now because he's seen what the electoral results have been for his party. Perhaps, he argued differently behind the scenes and had to give in to Obama and Reid. You think he'll part from them at all in the coming Congress? No chance. He'll shut up and get in line next time just as he did back when Obamacare was passed.

Jack Dunphy is exactly right about the Ferguson rioters.
And as for the riot, that too was a foregone conclusion. Why? Because the rioters, many of whom came from far beyond the St. Louis area, were looking forward to it as a child does to Christmas. They don’t care about Michael Brown, and they don’t care what the grand jury decided. They just like to steal and break things. Indeed, for the rioters, from the common street thugs to the Occupy types in their ridiculous Guy Fawkes masks, last night in Ferguson was like Christmas, Mardi Gras, and New Year’s Eve rolled into one: a big party, after which you went home with stuff you didn’t pay for.
And who cares if they burned down stores, the majority of which are owned by minorities.

This is the skewed perception that one Democratic congressman has of the First Amendment as Pennsylvania's Representative Robert Brady thinks that Jonathan Turley should be banned from appearing in the media because he's working with the House GOP on their suit against Obama's abuse of executive power.
As part of his contract with the House of Representatives, Turley agreed not to speak to the media about the case itself. But Brady wants to extend that to pretty much anything critical of Obama’s use of executive power — especially convenient given the uproar concerning the White House’s announcement of executive amnesty just last week.
But, hey, what's a little freedom of speech when stifling criticism of President Obama can be done?

Noemie Emery reminds us of all those people who told us what a remarkable temperament Barack Obama had. Yet now we're not seeing any of that supposedly splendid temperament.
Obama's coalition exists only in memory. The glory days of 2008 and mass adoration are gone, and he seems unable to face this development. His main tactic now is to appear before small crowds of loyal supporters who roar when he unloads upon his tormentors. He seems now to believe those voting against him have let him down in his own expectations, and he seems determined to make them all pay.

Needless to say, this is not what was promised in those brave days of 2008. In October that year, there was a stream of defections from those connected by blood or by service to the Republican Party who threw in their lot with the bright new aspirant, using the idea of “temperament” to explain it away....

What these brains helped to give us was the worst presidential temperament since Richard M. Nixon, an under-experienced brittle narcissist, lacking in all the political skills save those of campaigning, whose main legacies will be an unworkable healthcare “reform” and a wholly avoidable Middle Eastern crisis. Obama's lack of political sense has gotten him into many disasters, which his lack of political temperament only makes worse.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Cruising the Web

It really sounds that the Grand Jury did a careful job and reached the right decision. But that doesn't matter to the people who would prefer to hug their grievances to themselves and take to the street. The media deserve blame up and down from hyping up this story. The race mongers who crowded into the Missouri to exacerbate the tensions are serving to help destroy a community. And now they've rioted, looted, and burned down businesses. Is that going to help people in that town find jobs? Who will want to operate a business in Ferguson? Where are these protesters as thousands of blacks are killed by other blacks? Why don't they take to the streets to protest black children being killed by gang violence? Are the only black victims they care about the ones who are killed by whites.
Last year, 76 law enforcement officers were killed in the line of duty, and I’m hard pressed to name one of them. Yet, high-profile cases such as the shooting deaths of Trayvon Martin and Mr. Brown in the present case have made these names well known across America and around the world. Their sad fame comes at the hands of those who push the narrative that white cops are motivated by racial animus to kill blacks. How else to explain the media ignoring the thousands upon thousands of blacks who die at the hands of other blacks but the sensationalized 24/7 coverage involved when violence is inflicted at the hands of whites towards blacks?
But hey, there are liquor stores to be looted. That will guarantee justice, won't it?

As Ron Christie, a black columnist at the Daily Beast, writes,
Last year, 76 law enforcement officers were killed in the line of duty, and I’m hard pressed to name one of them. Yet, high-profile cases such as the shooting deaths of Trayvon Martin and Mr. Brown in the present case have made these names well known across America and around the world. Their sad fame comes at the hands of those who push the narrative that white cops are motivated by racial animus to kill blacks. How else to explain the media ignoring the thousands upon thousands of blacks who die at the hands of other blacks but the sensationalized 24/7 coverage involved when violence is inflicted at the hands of whites towards blacks?
Jazz Shaw is not impressed with President Obama's speech last night and the subtext behind what Obama said.
Yes, the President stated that the decision was the Grand Jury’s to make, but it was continually followed by caveats. There was another message in the way the President chose to frame his response:

The normal investigative process was followed, but you have a right to be angry. We had a months long investigation and mountains of evidence presented to a jury of your peers, but this was clearly a bad decision caused by the country’s legacy of racism. The evidence may have indicated that Officer Wilson acted within the framework of the law, but this isn’t just about one cop in Ferguson. White cops all over the country are out to get the black man and I’m sending Eric Holder to find out about it.

This is not a message of healing, nor is it a statement of support for the rule of law. That speech was a thinly veiled call to action, not to improve the nation, but to reinforce the idea that the legal system is not to be trusted. Barack Obama was telling everyone that you can have your day in court (or in this case, before a Grand Jury to decide if it even goes to court) but there is no reason for you to either trust or accept the results. If things don’t go the way you want, then it’s the courts that are wrong, not you. And when the legal dust settles, of course we don’t want any violence, but it’s completely understandable why you are so angry.

It sends a second message to Officer Darren Wilson and the rest of the first responders around the nation as well. If you are on the job in a community where you don’t belong because you don’t look like everyone you are protecting, you are a suspect by default in any controversial situation. And in a horrible case like this, even if a jury of your peers examines the evidence and finds that you were simply doing your job, your government will go out with a wink and a nod and tell everyone that you are probably still guilty. Also, your job will be forfeit and your life will be fundamentally changed because you will still be guilty in the court of public opinion. And nobody from the government is coming to your assistance. In fact, we’re going to throw you under the bus.

So why should you bother signing up to do this job in the first place? That’s probably a question a lot of cops are asking themselves this morning.

Chris Cillizza says farewell to the whole "Team of Rivals" theory of the best way for a president's cabinet to put be together.
The arc of Obama's presidency when it comes to who he listens to most, however, appears to be not all that dissimilar from the one he rose to prominence critiquing. It turns out that in politics, keeping your friends close and your enemies (or at least rivals) closer isn't as important as keeping your friends close.

Glenn Reynolds explains how Ivy Leagues are now treating Asian students as they once treated Jewish ones.
Decades ago, the Ivy League colleges thought they had a problem: too many Jews. These recent immigrants, from a culture that prized education and academic achievement, had an unfortunate characteristic: They worked harder, studied longer and cared more about school. In short, they had all the attributes required for success in the Ivy League.

Problem was, the Ivy League didn't really want them. Being first-generation students, these applicants didn't have rich alumni parents who would be likely to donate big bucks. Being from an ethnicity not associated with America's governing class, they didn't help the Ivy League with its biggest selling point — that going to college there provides an opportunity to rub shoulders with America's governing class. And they were seen as boring grinds who studied too hard and weren't much fun.

The result was a change in admissions criteria to reward "leadership," and "well-rounded" candidates — a thin disguise for "WASPs" — and, following closely on, actual quotas for Jewish students, so that no matter how many applied, their numbers on campus would stay just about the same. After several decades, this came to be seen as racist and unfair, and the quotas were dropped. (Though by then, conveniently enough, the Ivy League was able to find Jewish applicants with plenty of money, polish and governing-class connections without too much trouble).

But while the quotas for Jews are gone, the Ivy League now, by all accounts, has quotas for Asian students. They are seen as people who study too hard, boring grinds who aren't much fun — and, of course, their parents aren't as rich and connected. And though the numbers of highly qualified Asian applicants have grown dramatically, the number of Asians admitted stays pretty much the same every year.

Oh, please. Just say no.
John McCain Encouraging Lindsey Graham To Run For President

And...another set of Pinocchios for Obama's claim that George H.W. Bush had given amnesty to 40 percent of the undocumented population at the time.

The NYT edited their own story on the Chuck Hagel firing to take out the ways that Hagel had contradicted the President on ISIS. Their original story makes it seem that the White House was fine with Hagel until he started contradicting the administration's narrative on ISIS.

What Jonathan Gruber told one state, Wisconsin, is not what the Obama administration was telling the American people based on Gruber's own model.
While President Obama campaigned on a promise that his universal health care plan would lower premiums, his controversial adviser and plan architect was privately warning the state of Wisconsin that Obamacare was poised to massively increase insurance costs for average residents, internal documents show.

Jonathan Gruber, the MIT economist currently under fire for suggesting the Obama administration tried to deceive the public about the Affordable Care Act, was hired by former Democratic Wisconsin Gov. Jim Doyle in 2010 to conduct an analysis on how the federal health-care reform would impact the state.

Mr. Gruber’s study predicted about 90 percent of individuals without employer-sponsored or public insurance would see their premiums spike by an average of 41 percent. Once tax subsidies were factored in, about 60 percent of those in the individual market were projected to see their premiums go up 31 percent, according to his analysis.

In addition, 53 percent of those insured by companies with fewer than 50 employees, would see their premiums rise by an average of 15 percent even after subsidies, Mr. Gruber forecasted. The report warned such increases could impact small companies’ decision whether to provide health insurance to their workers.
Amazing how Obama was promising exactly the opposite at the same time.

Alicia ponders the selective outrage of people and the media who are jumping up and down in outrage over allegations against Bill Cosby, but who attacked all the women who alleged that Bill Clinton had sexually assaulted them or who neglected for years the young girls who were kidnapped and brutally gang-raped by Pakistani gangs.

Ah, the MSM. They're always at it trying to run interference for Obama. Now the Washington Post ran a fact-check on SNL's skit ridiculing Obama's executive action on immigration. Think of that - they ran fact-checking on a comedy skit. A comedy skit! Ed Morrissey runs his own fact-checking on SNL's other notable skits.
Will fact-checking satire and comedy be a regular feature at the Washington Post? I’m not aware of a deep and critical need for such an effort, but then again, I’m handicapped by having a sense of humor. Let me contribute to the effort to make sure that comedy sticks to the facts:
There are actually very few people with cone-shaped heads, and they rarely talk like robots.
-The Blues Brothers were actually not related to each other in real life.
-Gerald Ford was actually one of the most athletic and physically gifted Presidents we’ve had.
-Catholic schoolgirls don’t really stick their fingers in their armpits and smell them for inspiration.
-There are no such things as landsharks.
-Don’t Fear The Reaper didn’t really need more cowbell.
-Church ladies are usually lovely, vivacious women who contribute much to their communities.
-Czechoslovakian refugees had more to worry about than going “wild and crazy” at discos.
-Sarah Palin never said she could see Russia from her house.
-We have not, in fact, checked the lobster, but it might be delicious depending on its preparation. You should tip the waitress, though, even if she does have a couple of days off during the week.
Let me know when I can join the Comedy Fact-Checking Brigade at the Washington Post. Hopefully I get in soon, because the job will certainly disappear when a Republican gets elected President in 2016.
James Taranto adds,
On the other hand, Generalissimo Francisco Franco is still dead. And you’re not Chevy Chase (unless you are), so he gets a dozen Geppettos or whatever the Post gives to guys who tell the truth.

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.