The Bookworm Beat (11/21/14) — The imperial presidency edition (plus illustrations and Open Thread)

Woman writingI keep meaning to write something profound about what happened to our country yesterday, only to discover that other, much better writers and thinkers already got there before I did. I’ll just summarize by saying that Obama behaved illegally, unconstitutionally, and undemocratically.  Having said that, of course, the really important question becomes: What next?

Let’s see if I can start this round-up by passing on some ideas.

Conservative thinkers tackle what to do in the wake of Obama’s imperial overreach:

Suggestions to challenge Obama’s grossly and blatantly unconstitutional act range from impeachment (not going to happen); to defunding (either defuding entirely, which risks shutdown, or with a scalpel, which risks ineffectuality); to censuring (as if Obama cares); to lawsuits (which will take years to resolve, although Paul Mirengoff thinks a suit might work), to one of my favorites, which is for Boehner not to invite Obama to deliver the SOTU address to Congress. As Drew, who came up with this idea, explains:

Yesterday, Boehner said, “The president had said before that he’s not king and he’s not an emperor,” Boehner says. “But he’s sure acting like one.”

Why would the Speaker invite such a man to address “the people’s house”? All Obama would do would use the time to lecture members of a co-equal branch on what they must do and what he deems acceptable work product for them. Members of the United States Congress are under no obligation to sit mutely while the President brow beats them.

Obama has said he doesn’t feel compelled to listen to the voters who showed up to the polls a little over two weeks ago. The Representatives elected by those people should make it clear they are simply acting in kind, they will not listen to him.

Drew hastens to add that this proposal is in addition to, not instead of, other avenues for addressing presidential lawlessness. Still, he’s right that it makes a very important symbolic statement and I heartily applaud it.

In one of her best articles ever, Kim Strassel imagines a memo to an incoming Republican president in 2016 (Republican, that is, if historical trends tell us anything) who might have to grapple with a Democrat Congress:

Yes, the Constitution matters—Article I, Article II, blah, blah—though let’s be honest: What really counts in this town is precedent. And the ace news is that your predecessor blew up about 230 years of it. We’ve attached an 87-page list (check your spam box) of President Obama ’s unilateral actions: altering the ObamaCare statute; refusing to enforce federal drug laws; granting waivers to education reforms; using Justice Department suits to impose new industry rules; drafting agency regulations to go around Congress. Don’t forget 2014, when he rewrote federal immigration law. Like, all of it. By himself.

And here’s where it gets sweet. We’ve been analyzing the Obama team’s justifications. Some are p-r-e-t-t-y creative, but they boil down to this: Whenever a law is “unworkable,” or inadequately “funded”—and Congress won’t do anything—the president gets to act! How is that for new precedent? Think about it. This city has yet to produce a single statute or reg that is “workable” or that has, according to Democrats, enough money. Not a one. Remember that old Imagine Dragons tune, “I’m On Top of the World”? That’s you, boss. That’s you.

So here’s our plan for getting your entire agenda done—all of it!—by May:

You really have to read the whole thing. It’s priceless, and should give celebratory Democrats pause. If Strassel’s article is behind a pay wall, try googling the title (“The Next Prez and the Obama Way”), and see if you can get to it through the Google link.

John Hinderaker’s post agrees with Strassel that there’s some virtue to embracing the “Obama Non-Enforcement Doctrine”. After offering a few compelling examples (some of which overlap with Strassel’s ideas), Hinderaker sums it up thusly:

Under the Obama Non-Enforcement Doctrine, a president can’t enact new laws by decree, but he can exercise his discretion by not enforcing existing laws. This means that the doctrine is a one-way ratchet with an inherently libertarian bent. Given a little thought, conservatives could come up with a long list of laws that we would be better off without. Each one would be a candidate for the Obama Non-Enforcement Doctrine.

My guess is that if a Republican president applied Obama’s doctrine a couple of times, the Democrats would say “uncle.” There would be bipartisan support for a constitutional amendment to make it beyond dispute that the Obama Non-Enforcement Doctrine is defunct. That goal could be accomplished through a constitutional amendment requiring that the president “take care that the laws be faithfully executed,” or some such language. But in the meantime, Republican presidents could use Obama’s precedent to good effect.

Ed Morrissey believes that now is the time for border reform and that Boehner may, finally, be spoiling for a fight:

They have a few good options, actually. They can sit on Obama’s appointments for a long while, for one thing, which Democrats will be helpless to stop. More to the issue, they can pass a tough border-security bill as I suggested earlier and force Obama to veto it, and vulnerable Democrats to sustain a veto on a popular component of immigration reform. As the border gets rushed by people looking to take advantage of the situation, Republicans can lay the entire blame on Obama and his half-baked amnesty plan. None of these are perfect, but with control of Congress, the GOP has better options in January than they do right now.

I know I read other articles I loved, including one that said that, to the extent Obama drew inspiration from non-voters, not voters, we’re being led by someone who hears voices, but I can’t find the darn things. If you have wonderfully quotable quotes, please include them in the comments.

Obama’s fundamental dishonesty

The section above dealt with what Republicans, conservatives, and others who value the Constitution should do. I do want to spare a moment, though, to address the fact that Obama dug more deeply than ever into his bottomless well of dishonesty.  I mean, if the AP — or, I should say, the AP!!!wrote a rather scathing fact-check pointing out the many lies in his statement about amnesty, you know Obama abandoned the truth the moment he stepped to the podium.

Mark Krikorian also had a few choice words about Obama’s many lies. This one is just one of many:

[H]e lied about what his non-amnesty amnesty consisted of: “All we’re saying is we’re not going to deport you.” As polling has suggested, this is less likely to provoke opposition than the truth: “All we’re saying is we’re not going to deport you — and also, here’s a work permit, a Social Security number, and a driver’s license.”

Obama also included a legalistic lie when he averred that he’s just engaging in “prosecutorial discretion.” Andy McCarthy explains how that one is wrong on more levels than one can easily count:

Prosecutorial discretion means you are not required to prosecute every crime — which, since doing so would be impossible, is just a nod to reality. It does not mean that those crimes the executive chooses not to enforce are now no longer crimes. Prosecutorial discretion has never meant that the passive act of non-enforcement has the legal effect of repealing criminal laws enacted by Congress. And it has never even been suggested, because to do so would be absurd, that under the doctrine of prosecutorial discretion, the executive decision not to prosecute certain crimes means the people who commit those crimes should be rewarded for committing them. That, of course, would only encourage others to commit them on a more massive scale.

Yet that is President Obama’s theory. He is claiming not only the power to determine what immigration laws get enforced and which illegal immigrants get prosecuted — power he unquestionably has. He also claims the power to declare (a) that criminal acts are somehow lawful — that illegal aliens now have a right to be here — just because Obama has chosen not to prosecute them; and (b) that those who engage in this unprosecuted activity will be rewarded with benefits (lawful presence, relief from deportation, work permits, etc.), as if their illegal acts were valuable community service.

That is an utter perversion of prosecutorial discretion and a blatant usurpation of congressional power. Only Congress has the power to repeal criminal laws and confer positive legal benefits on non-Americans.

Although amnesty is overtaking the grubby Grubergate as the big story, there’s still more to be said about Gruber

Yes, amnesty is sweeping aside the whole Gruber scandal, which is the inevitable result when you have scandals following one after the other, each more scandalous than, or at least as scandalous as, the one that came before.  Nevertheless, considering how Obamacare has riven the nation and what a drag it will be on the economy (a drag made worse by amnesty), it would be wrong to cast Grubergate aside, especially because of what it says about the Progressive elites’ view of ordinary Americans.

Jonah Goldberg is especially unwilling to let go of one of Obama’s bigger lies about Gruber, which is that there was a full debate about Obamacare. Goldberg refuses to let that lie stand. You have to read Goldberg’s whole article, but I’ll just whet your appetite with this excerpt:

Real debates require honesty. If I say, “Two plus two equals four,” and you say, “No, it equals a duck,” and then refuse to accept any contrary facts or evidence, that’s not a debate, it’s performance art.

In 2009, ABC’s George Stephanopoulos confronted Obama about the fact that the individual mandate is a tax. Obama scoffed and filibustered. Stephanopoulos responded by citing the dictionary definition of a tax.
“George,” Obama responded, “the fact that you looked up . . . the definition of tax increase indicates to me that you’re stretching a little bit right now. Otherwise, you wouldn’t have gone to the dictionary to check on the definition.”

Huh? In what open and transparent debate is the dictionary definition of a word irrelevant? By the way, if the Supreme Court had agreed with Obama, the law would be unconstitutional.

President Obama lied — relentlessly — during that so-called “debate.” Most famously, he repeatedly said, “You can keep your doctor” (and your insurance) if you want. He often ended such lies by saying, “Period. End of story,” as if his emphatic assertion were irrefutable fact. Either he knew he was lying, or the law is so un-transparent that even the man who signed it into law couldn’t understand its most basic functions.

The New York Times’ Jerusalem Bureau Chief thumbs her nose at the idea that facts are stubborn things

Seth Mandel took issue with the fact that Jodi Rudoren, the New York Times’ Jerusalem Bureau chief has made so many factual mistakes in her reporting lately that one might be tempted to think that she’s doing it on purpose.  Rudoren defended herself against the charge that her error rate is excessive by saying that the mere fact that she gets outraged mail from both sides of the political divide means that she has no obligation to check her facts.  She feels that, because she’s offended everyone, she must be getting something right.  Mandel skewers this nihilistic view of reality:

It’s impossible [not] to notice that Rudoren’s comments prove the criticism of her to be completely correct. And she is making it clear she refuses to learn more, because she regards that learning process itself as a concession to her critics. Out of sheer pride, Rudoren will remain uninformed.

There are several critiques to unpack in her response, but the most important one is this: “we have pretty much equal accusations of biases on both sides.” Rudoren is a firm believer in the single most toxic fallacy that bad reporters believe in. Namely, the idea that if both sides of an issue hate your writing, you must be doing something right. In fact, it often means you are doing a great deal wrong.

That’s because both sides can be right in their criticism. Imagine another industry in which someone’s behavior receives howls of disapproval from all sides, and the person involved takes that to mean they must be doing their job well. It’s delusional, and we would say so. And so we should say so here. If there is a consensus that you’re terrible at your job, that consensus is not to be worn as a badge of honor. Rudoren, embarrassingly enough, believes it should be.

But there’s more to Rudoren’s statement, and it explains why she sees criticism of her as illegitimate. Pro-Israel readers who object to Rudoren’s reporting are considered by her to be uninterested in the truth and acting out of loyalty to Israel. It’s not surprising that a resident of the leftist bubble that is the Times would think this, but it’s rather amazing that she thinks it’s appropriate to say.

Or as I would say, Rudoren is arguing that, if you hold a view contradictory to her view, that bias means that she has no obligation to examine the accuracy of the facts you assert.  Wow!  That’s kind of the whole New York Times ethos in a nutshell, isn’t it?

Israel once fought its enemies, but now it compromises.  It’s time to rewind the clock on that one

Daniel Greenfield has written yet another powerful essay, this one about the fact that Israel once used to fight terrorists and, as a result had a fairly small number of terrorist attacks aimed against her.  Now, Israel weeps and negotiates, and the terrorist attacks escalate relentlessly.  It’s time, Greenfield says, for bullets, not for tears, because “tears don’t protect against murder.

David Burge explains why all  Americans, in both North and South American, should be upset by Obama’s actions

Simply Jews has some propaganda from all over

It’s kind of mind-boggling — one picture with the weight of three different propaganda items poured on top of it.


As always, my thanks to Caped Crusader, who is responsible for the bulk of these (although the first came from another friend):

Climate change historical recap

Americans dropped leaflets to try to save Japanese

Tianamen tank man

Emperor Obama

Ann Coulter's market-based advice on the laws of supply and demand


Alleged statement from a Jordanian Muslim about the Palestinian lie

Communist until rich, feminist until married, atheist until facing death

Only in America are rich who pay taxes accused of unfairness by those who don't

Rewarding immigrant cheaters unfair to those who followed rules

Liberal double standards sluts can wear what they want scientists can't