I’ve been reading on Facebook what my Leftist friends, and their Leftist friends, have to say about Obama’s imperial pronouncement on amnesty. One comment struck me especially strongly, because I have no doubt that Obama already has something prepared on his desk. I’ve changed the wording slightly to protect the Facebook author’s privacy, but the substance is unchanged:
Predictably, those of my Progressive friends on Facebook who are at all politically aware, are kvelling about Obama’s executive order on amnesty. “Best president ever!” “I totally agree with what he did.” “He did the right thing.” My Facebook page is filling up with those statements. To those Progressive friends, I have the following, initially sarcastic, response:
I have to admit that I’m impressed with what President Obama did, mostly because he’s bucking a famed constitutional scholar’s take on precisely this issue:
Kevin D. Williamson says that the IRS scandal is the worst scandal ever in American politics, since it fundamentally undermines our form of government. I’m inclined to agree with him and would even go so far as to wonder whether he’s been reading my blog.
And while I’m on the subject of destroying our form of government, Barack Obama is again investigating whether the power to issue executive orders is actually the power to re-write entirely federal legislation to suit his own political purposes. The administration claims it’s contemplating this exercise of power because the current program is controversial — but it’s only controversial because there are a lot of people who want to grant de facto amnesty to illegal immigrants. Here’s the deal in America as it once was: if you didn’t like the law, you changed it through the legislative process. Only in banana republics do you let the Dear Leader ignore the law and do it his way.
Even if common core works perfectly in some pristine education program on an Ivy League campus, it’s a disaster in real life. H
Here’s a squirrely idea from me: One of the things that totalitarian governments do is separate children from the parents, either physically or emotionally. (Remember that Hitler’s Youth would turn in their own parents for infractions.) To the extent that common core makes it impossible for parents to help elementary school aged children with what used to be basic math problems, you have to wonder if a goal, or a pleasant by-product, of the Common Core program is that it makes children see their parents as stupid, unhelpful, and unreliable.
Hillary lies again, this time about Iran. You’d think Hillary would eventually wise up to the fact that, in an internet age, it takes minutes, not years, to expose blatant lies. Of course, she’s counting on the media to shelter her. That’s naive too. In 2008, the media dropped her in a New York minute when Barack came along last time around. It even seems as if Bill’s dropping her, and Keith Koffler amusingly ponders why that’s so.
Career overseas civil servants should also think about dumping Hillary. The DiploMad explains that she (and her whole State Department) broke the special bond between America and her employees overseas.
More and more people are catching on to the fact that the Left is entirely adolescent in its approach to itself and to world governance. Matthew Continetti applies that adolescent theory to the New York Times, which is caught up in a firestorm made up of allegations that it fired Jill Abrahamson, its first female executive because she complained about wage discrimination. (And isn’t that irony lovely from a paper that carries the Democrats’ water on the wage discrimination campaign issue?)
Everything you need to know about life in Obama’s America: The same Pentagon that is actively or passively responsible for the VA program that intentionally killed veterans through neglect is working hard to get a sex change operation for convicted traitor Bradley Manning.
Meanwhile, the insanity on America’s college campuses continues. This time, a college is dropping “hump day,” because the camel theme (complete with a camel petting zoo) is seen as disrespectful to Arab culture.
And finally, a look into the ugly heart of ProgressiveLand:
According to Power Line, when a Fox News Poll asked people point blank whether our system supports a president circumventing Congress, 74% of respondents said “no” and only 23% said “yes.” That answer was only marginally different when the question was re-framed to ask people to ignore the way things should be under our Constitution and, instead, to answer whether they thought it was okay for Barack Obama to circumvent Congress. In that case, 60% of respondents thought that it still wasn’t okay and only 37% of them approved of Obama acting as a dictator.
My very first thought when I read about that 37% was that I think I know every one of them on my real-me Facebook. In that Facebook account, with the exception of conservative friends I’ve made in the last few years, and a handful of apolitical people, everyone else in my world — the world made up of school friends, work friends, and neighborhood people — is rabidly Progressive.
These Progressives have been silent since October, when it became clear that Obamacare was going to be an even more dismal, dysfunctional failure than Republicans predicted. Now, however, with Obama promising to enact his agenda unilaterally, they’re happy again. When they’re not celebrating gay rights (and I’d so that, gay or straight, 75% of their political Facebook posts are about gay rights), they’re starting to put up MoveOn.org style posters encouraging what most Americans recognize as Obama’s lawlessness.
If one were to ask my highly educated, well compensated friends to support their position, I’m sure that all would reply that (a) whatever is wrong now is the fault of Republicans in Congress and (b) that the ends justify the means. That phrase, incidentally, is one of the scariest in the English language.
Nor would any of them be fazed if they were shown Obama’s blatant hypocrisy:
These Progressives would only say, again, that it’s not hypocrisy at all. The problem wasn’t executive overreach, they’d say, it was Bush’s executive overreach. When Obama does the same thing, it’s different.
One of the things making the rounds on my “real me” Facebook is a poster claiming that Bush signed off on many more executive orders than did Obama. Since the poster is obviously out of date (not to mention the fact that it compares Bush’s 8 year term to Obama’s 1 or 2 year term at the time), I went to Wikipedia and found some interesting numbers.
Over eight years, George W. Bush issued 291 EOs, with the largest number in 2001 (presumably because of 9/11). That’s an average of slightly more than 36 per year. In the course of five years, Obama has issued 167 EOs, or an average of almost 21 per year. Under that metric, Progressives are absolutely right that Bush was the bigger offender.
It seems to me, though, that a numerical argument is a red herring. I’m under the impression — and I’m asking you, please, to correct me if I’m wrong — that conservatives’ objection to Obama’s EOs stems from the nature, not the number. That is, Obama is using EOs to void legislation, rather than as directives to effectuate legislation. In doing that, he’s unconstitutionally usurping Congress’s power (although Democrat Congress people seen fine with waving — or waiving — their prerogatives goodbye).
Please let me know if I’m right or wrong, and please direct me to articles with more information about this subject.
(And yes, I know I’m being lazy “crowd sourcing” this question, rather than doing the research myself. The thing is that I’ve learned from experience that you guys, individually and collectively, have extraordinary funds of knowledge. I’d be crazy, therefore, not to tap into those funds.)
There’s an element of truth to the frequently voiced concern that Obama is engaged in some sleight of hand when he keeps guns as the front story in the news. By doing so, he keeps people distracted from the real news, which is our spendthrift government’s debt. With that in mind, I’m going to taper off on the gun posts, limiting myself today to these three links:
You can see here Obama’s just-announced list of 23 “executive actions” on guns, which range from inconvenient to stupid to impossible. This is grand standing. Even Obama concedes that the ones that require actual legislative action won’t go anywhere. This is more evidence, if you needed it, that Obama’s playing games. This demagoguery feeds the masturbatory frenzy on the Left while directing the nation’s attention away from his dramatic economic failures.
With regard to these executive orders — orders that Democrat Legislators begged for — my friend Lulu commented that one should ask Dems how they’d feel if a Republican president issued a slew of executive orders limiting abortion (which isn’t even an explicitly stated Constitutional right). After all, when the next Republican gets into office, there’s now precedent for executive order over reach outside of the realm of enforcing existing laws or carrying out military goals consistent with the President’s role as Commander-in-Chief.
In today’s Wall Street Journal, Jeffrey Scott Shapiro, a former prosecutor in Washington, D.C., provides solid evidence that gun bans mostly benefit criminals. Since reading it this morning, every time one of my liberal Facebook friends has linked to some gun control initiative (i.e., New York’s new bans or the President’s executive orders), I’ve commented as follows: “Americans really have to decide if we want to limit guns or limit violence. The two ends have different means. This article (which I link to in the comment) indicates that, if your goal is to limit violence, limiting guns is, paradoxically, the wrong way to go about it.” I enjoy the mental image of eyeballs exploding.
Lastly, Wolf Howling looks to Mexico, a country with unusually stringent gun controls and unusually widely distributed and extreme gun violence, and uses it as an object lesson showing that leaving guns solely in the hands of criminals (who don’t care that arms are illegal) is a very bad idea.
A friend pointed me in the direction of a New York Times article that argues that both Second Amendment supporters and Abortion supporters are too quick to panic whenever the topics come up for debate, thereby precluding all rational discussion. After describing the way VP Biden’s mention of Obama and executive orders regarding guns got reported on the conservative side of the blogosphere as a putsch that would see Obama effectively overriding the Second Amendment, the editorial goes on:
The distance between what Mr. Biden said and what The Examiner reported gets at why it’s so difficult to conduct a national conversation on the regulation of firearms. If the gun-control camp mentions restrictions the anti-gun-control camp hears bans. If the former mentions a ban on certain kinds of guns, the latter hears all guns, plus confiscation.
Many gun-rights activists, moreover, seem to suspect that the other side argues in bad faith. In public, gun-control advocates may sound reasonable, proposing only limited regulations, but what they really want is to repeal the Second Amendment, or to overturn Heller, and force the complete disarmament of the civilian population. First they’ll come for our Bushmasters, then they’ll come for our hunting rifles.
The fear that restrictions are a Trojan horse, the prelude to outright prohibition, similarly animates the staunch defenders of another controversial right: Abortion.
Writing in Slate in 2006, during Samuel Alito’s confirmation hearings, the legal academic Dawn Johnsen argued that Senators asking whether he would overturn Roe were missing the point. He would more likely “hollow it out.” Ms. Johnsen suggested that Roe opponents have taken an “incremental” approach to eviscerating abortion rights. They’ve pushed for restrictions such as waiting periods and “informed consent” laws; restrictions “designed to sound reasonable while also limiting the number of abortions performed, ultimately as completely as would a criminal ban.”
Last December, Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder signed an abortion bill requiring doctors to screen women for coercion (among other measures). Supporters claimed the bill was necessary to safeguard women’s health; opponents said it was a paternalistic assault on women’s rights. The same argument played out in Kansas in 2011, when the state set compulsory standards for abortion clinics. Supporters claimed the regulations were an effort to protect women from unsafe conditions; opponents said they were a ruse to curb reproductive freedom.
The editorial is certainly correct that the debate on both sides tends to be argued most loudly at the extremes, rather than in the middle. It errs, though, insofar as it presumes a legal equivalence between the two issues. The primary difference between the two issues is gun ownership is an explicitly and affirmative stated Constitutional right, while abortion is an emanation of a penumbra — or, in other words, a judicially created right.
Moreover, for those who actually bother to read Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court made very clear that the state has a continuing interest in the fetus. As the fetus develops towards recognizable person-hood (meaning that it can survive outside the womb), the state’s interest increases dramatically. Although recent(ish) Supreme Court decisions have expanded a woman’s rights over the state’s/fetus’s rights, the Court has never erased that state interest entirely.
The Second Amendment, of course, vests all interests in the citizen. What this means is that, in theory, the State has no rights whatsoever when it comes to arms. That’s the theory. In fact, though, the Supreme Court has long allowed local and federal jurisdictions to place some limitations on arms in order to maintain the peace. Significantly, however, by imposing these limitations, the State is intruding on a citizen’s absolute constitutional right. In the case of abortion, the citizen seeking an abortion is intruding upon the State’s interest in nascent citizens.
Why does this distinction matter? Because while Roe gives the state the right, power, and duty to protect the smallest citizens, so that state interference is the appropriate way to approach the issue, the Constitution doesn’t grant the government the authority to interfere with the People’s right to keep and bear arms. Moreover, Obama, as the nation’s chief executive, has only a subset of the powers granted to the Federal government as a whole, and this subset is limited to those executive orders necessary to carry out Congress’s dictates. It therefore becomes a matter of supreme citizen interest when Obama’s minions announce that he intends to bypass Congress entirely and act in a way that diminishes an expressly stated Constitutional right vested in citizens, not government.
Rational discourse is a great idea. But it’s less of a great idea when it operates off the premise that, with regard to both abortion and guns, the State holds all the power cards. More than that, Second Amendment advocates would be fools to engage in a “gun control” debate, because framing the discussion that way automatically cedes to the government the right to control guns. Rather, we should be talking about the government’s actual responsibility in a civilized nation, which is exert some authority over violence. As I’ve noted before, statistical data indicates that framing the issue in such a way militates in favor of more arms, rather than fewer.
Years ago, during the Bush administration, Terry Gross, of NPR’s Fresh Air, interviewed a writer who was in an absolutely tizzy about Bush’s use of executive orders. Sadly, for the life of me, I can’t find that interview. What I also can’t find is any evidence that this author has again gone onto Terry Gross’ show to complaint about Obama’s extraordinary use of executive orders, a use that overwhelms Bush’s small efforts in that area. Obama has vastly enlarged the nature and number of those orders, so much so that he’s becoming his own little legislature.
Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ) has written a lucid, interesting article detailing everything that is wrong with Obama’s abuse of the executive order:
Let’s focus on the supposed authority of the President to simply enact laws by the stroke of his pen. Article I Section I of the Constitution vests all legislative powers in Congress. All. None are given to the President or the Courts. All government acts need to be evaluated on whether they are consistent with our Constitution.
The executive branch has the Constitutional responsibility to execute the laws passed by Congress. It is well accepted that an executive order is not legislation nor can it be. An executive order is a directive that implements laws passed by Congress. The Constitution provides that the president “take care that the laws be faithfully executed.” Article II, Section 3, Clause 5. Thus, executive orders can only be used to carry out the will of Congress. If we in Congress have not established the policy or authorization by law, the President can’t do it unilaterally.
That’s pretty simple: Executive orders simply give the president the power to effectuate Congress’ legislation, not the authority to make his own. Nor can the president use executive orders to prevent legislation from going into effect (as Obama did with immigration without any opposition) or to circumvent the Constitution itself (as he apparently intends to do with guns).
I urge you to read the whole thing, and then send it along to people you know who intuitively understand that what Obama’s doing is unconstitutional, but who need more facts and argument for their intellectual armory.