[guest post by Dana]
Gruber seems a bit chipper in the clips, doesn’t he? Maybe it’s the happiness that comes from finally being able to reveal to the world just how clever and smart one really is.
[guest post by Dana]
Gruber seems a bit chipper in the clips, doesn’t he? Maybe it’s the happiness that comes from finally being able to reveal to the world just how clever and smart one really is.
[guest post by JD]
The Hail Mary pass for Sen Landrieu fails as the Dems express the bought and paid for solidarity with Tom Steyer and Warren Buffett’s billions.
It’s amusing that they’re using the specter of an UNTRAMMELED TED CRUZ! as a scare tactic — but if that’s what it takes to get through to Democrats, so be it:
DEMOCRATS URGING President Obama to “go big” in his executive order on immigration might pause to consider the following scenario:
It is 2017. Newly elected President Ted Cruz (R) insists he has won a mandate to repeal Obamacare. The Senate, narrowly back in Democratic hands, disagrees. Mr. Cruz instructs the Internal Revenue Service not to collect a fine from anyone who opts out of the individual mandate to buy health insurance, thereby neutering a key element of the program. It is a matter of prosecutorial discretion, Mr. Cruz explains; tax cheats are defrauding the government of billions, and he wants the IRS to concentrate on them. Of course, he is willing to modify his order as soon as Congress agrees to fix what he considers a “broken” health system.
That is not a perfect analogy to Mr. Obama’s proposed action on immigration. But it captures the unilateral spirit that Mr. Obama seems to have embraced since Republicans swept to victory in the midterm elections. He is vowing to go it alone on immigration. On Iran, he is reportedly designing an agreement that he need not bring to Congress. He already has gone that route on climate change with China.
I don’t agree with everything in the editorial, but it’s refreshing to see a Big Media mouthpiece come out and actually point to the damage Obama is about to do to the separation of powers. It’s also nice to see them quote Obama from the past saying he can’t do this:
Three years ago, when advocacy groups pressed him to take such a step, Mr. Obama demurred. “Believe me, the idea of doing things on my own is very tempting,” he said. “Not just on immigration reform. But that’s not how — that’s not how our system works. That’s not how our democracy functions. That’s not how our Constitution is written.”
True enough. Good on the Post for noting it.
Thanks to Ed Morrissey.
P.S. The polls are ever-so-slightly against Obama taking this breathtakingly unconstitutional action: 46-42. Yes, fully 42% of those surveyed say: make up your own law, Obama, because who needs Congress? That is a testament to Big Media silence on the sweeping implications of this action, and a further indication that the WaPo editorial is a small but critical corrective to the general lack of focus by Big Media on this issue.
“If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice.”
– Rush, “Freewill”
It is always amusing to watch people cynically change their views on the filibuster. We saw an example of that recently with the New Republic, which ran a gazillion pieces decrying the filibuster and praising the nuclear option — right up until the last election, at which point they displayed a Strange New Respect for the filibuster.
But people’s views can indeed honestly evolve, and I think it might be useful to disclose one way in which my own views have evolved — and to announce it at a time (now) when it doesn’t help my side ideologically in any way. Indeed, it could hurt it.
So, apropos of nothing, let me summarize the change in my opinion, which has to do specifically with judicial filibusters, and not filibusters generally.
OLD POSITION: The judicial filibuster is constitutionally infirm because the “advice and consent” clause requires an up or down vote for any nominee. The “nuclear option” is constitutionally required for votes on judicial nominees.
NEW POSITION: The Senate has the right to set its own rules. A majority of Senators has the power to do anything it wants, including honor filibusters, reject filibusters, or change filibuster rules. Thus, the “nuclear option” is not constitutionally required for votes on judicial nominees, but it is always available to a majority.
As you can see:
1) This has nothing to do with the traditional filibuster.
My view on that has never changed: if the Senate wants to use the traditional filibuster, it can. My view on the judicial filibuster is now in line with my long-held view on the filibuster generally.
2) The only difference is that now I don’t think the nuclear option for judicial nominees is constitutionally required.
Ideologically, this should make no difference at a time like now, when the party most in line with my views is about to control the Senate with fewer than 60 votes, at a time when the opposing party controls the Presidency. The only way it could make a difference is in this incredibly unrealistic scenario: Obama nominates someone so awesome from our perspective that a majority of the GOP wants to push the nomination through, but the Democrat minority wants to filibuster the nomination. In that unthinkable scenario, I could not (consistent with my new position) advocate that the nuclear option was constitutionally required, but merely available to the majority.
So you see, I am actually changing my mind for principled reasons: namely, I have thought about it more. Let me explain.
When I previously advocated that the nuclear option was constitutionally required, it was because I believed that the “advice and consent” clause required an up-or-down vote from the whole Senate. Somewhere in the back of my mind, though, there was always a voice whispering: doesn’t the Senate have the right to set its own rules? Usually, I think, I would discount that by pointing out (correctly) that the current Senate is not bound by rules that it did not adopt.
And I still believe that. The main difference in my thinking, and it is a subtle one, is that a majority of Senators may behave as if they are bound by those rules.
In my view, the majority can do whatever it wants, but is not required to. The majority is not bound by any tradition of filibusters, which tradition is inconsistent in any event. Nor can a majority be bound by rules that say they need a supermajority to change the rules. However, a majority can choose to behave as if they are bound by these traditions, if they choose to do so for institutional reasons.
As the quote that opens this post implies, even if a majority of Senators chooses not to decide — i.e. chooses to allow a filibuster to go forward — they still have made that choice. And as long as they recognize that they have the power to change it, they may, for institutional reasons, choose not to exercise it.
This is going to come up again, and there will probably be times that my position slightly hurts me ideologically, and other times when it helps me a little. I figured I would say it now, when it doesn’t matter, so I wouldn’t be like those New Republic hypocrites.
[guest post by Dana]
As JVW pointed out this weekend, the Los Angeles Times finally acknowledged Grubergate…in the Sports section and as a introduction to an op-ed about the NFL.
This weekend, I emailed the LAT Readers’ Rep to ask why there has been, thus far, no reporting on the six Gruber videos:
It has been a week since the first videos of Jonathan Gruber discussing the behind-the-scenes motivations and decisions regarding Obamacare were released. Why has the LAT not reported on a story that has blown up so rapidly? The president responded to Gruber’s assertions today from Australia, and still nothing from the LAT. As the Washington Post, New York Times and Wall St. Journal have all been giving print space to these important revelations, why is the LAT ignoring what is an issue of great importance as well as impacting millions? I would think your newspaper would be right on top of this in your commitment to keeping readers well informed. Unfortunately, what it looks like to readers is that there is a partisanship at work here and that the LAT is giving cover to this administration. Please explain to me how this assumption is incorrect.
I look forward to hearing back from you.
Tonight I did another search at the LAT for any Grubergate reporting and came up empty-handed. However, ironically, when I searched “Sarah Palin emails”, 48 results popped up! I didn’t scan through all of them, but I did pull up the database the newspaper had set up to catalog 444 Palin emails. Remember that? Readers were even invited to comment and make suggestions at the “Sarah Palin emails: The Alaska archive.” I couldn’t help but think, hm, that’s 444 emails vs. 6 videos. How much effort did it take to read through the emails, catalog them by date, and of course, closely scan them for any salacious tidbits vs. how much effort would it take to post six YouTube videos that revealed we were lied to by this administration and that they counted on our stupidity? I mean, would it really be that exhausting of an effort? Surely their Obamacare would cover any wrist guards necessary for preventing onset Carpal Tunnel from loading the videos. As it stands, I’m sure on this we can agree: this administration will never have to doubt whether they can still count on the LAT.
On a side note, while searching for Grubergate mention, I found an op-ed written by Gruber himself from February 2014. You can read it here. In light of the recent Gruber videos and his comments, the op-ed is post-worthy in itself.
I will keep readers informed
when if I hear back from the Readers’ Rep.
UPDATE BY PATTERICO: Nice post. Here is the disclosure the L.A. Times made to Gruber’s op-ed:
Jonathan Gruber is a professor of economics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a member of the Scholars Strategy Network.
Is that good enough, when the guy was getting paid by the White House to help draft the legislation? I think not.
There is another ISIS beheading, and it is of an Army Ranger. Honestly? A man has to know his limits, and I am not a foreign policy expert and don’t pretend to be. As outrageous as these beheadings are, though, I share the concerns expressed by Justin Amash about the way we are going about fighting ISIS.
So I am just going to sound a lonely note of caution. When I read something like this, from Jazz Shaw at Hot Air, I just feel I have to register my disagreement:
Woodrow Wilson desperately wanted to avoid going to war and the nation was largely behind him in that reluctance. But when the time came, in April of 1917, he pulled up his big boy pants, went before Congress and requested a declaration of war. In that address he said, The challenge is to all mankind. Each nation must decide for itself how it will meet it. We have seen how other nations will respond and you do not have the luxury of an assembly of world leaders ready to fight at your side. You may have to lead the way onto the battlefield alone. This is the terrible, lonely responsibility of the job you sought. With luck, others will follow, but leading from behind is not an option here.
I don’t think Woodrow Wilson was reluctant to engage in war at all. I think he desperately wanted to get involved (to push his silly League of Nations idea on the world), and offered absurd justifications for U.S. involvement (Germans, hear this: Americans get to ride on boats carrying arms to your enemy, and if you sink those boats, it’s an act of war on us!). I think Wilson stomped on the liberties of anyone who dared speak against the war, and “pulling up his big boy pants” is an analogy that completely falls flat for me as a matter of historical accuracy.
And talk about unintended consequences! (as I often do when I discuss such matters). One could argue that our involvement facilitated the oppressive terms of the Treaty of Versailles, which led to the rise of Hitler and the Holocaust. All things to bear in mind on this 100th anniversary of the beginning of that horrible war.
Again, I’m probably a lonely voice here. So be it. But as Rep. Amash said on September 17:
If Congress chooses to arm groups in Syria, it must explain to the American people not only why that mission is necessary but also the sacrifices that that mission entails.
The Obama administration has tried to rally support for U.S. involvement in the Syrian civil war by implying that our help would be at arm’s length. The amendment Congress will vote on broadly authorizes “assistance” to groups in Syria. It does not specify what types of weapons our government will give the groups. It does not prohibit boots on the ground. (The amendment is silent on the president’s power to order our troops to fight in the civil war; it states only that Congress doesn’t provide “specific statutory authorization” for such escalation.) It does not state the financial cost of the war.
As we should have learned from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, we must plan for multiple satisfactory ends to military conflicts before we commence them.
We get into these conflicts too easily, and the results never seem to be quite what we intend.
Hypocrisy Day continues here at Patterico, with more hypocrisy on Jonathan Gruber. (JD covers this below — but for non-clickers, which is a lot of you, I want to put it all right in your face.)
“The fact that an adviser who was never on our staff expressed an opinion that I completely disagree with in terms of the voters is not a reflection on the actual process that was run,” Obama told reporters in Australia where he is attending a G-20 summit.
Which made it kind of awkward when a video emerged in which Gruber talked about being in the room with Obama, talking about ways to pass the unpalatable “Cadillac tax” (which, Gruber has explained in a different video, was done through a dishonest sleight of hand:
Oh: also, Obama said as far back as 2006 that he has “liberally” “stolen ideas from” Gruber (and others):
Now, let’s put this latter video in context, in the spirit of fairness and honesty. This is from an April 5, 2006 gathering at the Brookings Institution, when Obama was a Senator. Here is the transcript, which contains the full context of the quote:
That is what I hope we will see from The Hamilton Project in the months and years to come. You have already drawn some of the brightest minds from academia and policy circles, many of them I have stolen ideas from liberally, people ranging from Robert Gordon to Austan Goolsbee; Jon Gruber; my dea friend, Jim Wallis here, who can inform what are sometimes dry policy debates with a prophetic voice. So I know that there are going to be wonderful ideas that are generated as a consequence of this project.
The Hamilton Project, according to the description given in the transcript, was a Brookings Institution project designed to “put together an economic strategy that deals with the issues of the country in the ways that we [“we” meaning Brookings Institution-style lefties — P] all would think sensible.” It appears that Gruber contributed to a paper on “retirement security and easier ways for low income Americans to save.” Health care, in short, while mentioned at the gathering, does not appear to have been a central part of the discussion that day.
That said, the video does show a connection between Obama and Gruber going well back before Obama was even elected. We should not overstate its significance, because that would be the wrong thing to do — but we should also recognize that what the video does tell us is not insignificant.
So: 1) a video in which Gruber relates discussions between Gruber and Obama about health care and how to pass politically unpalatable ideas, and 2) evidence that the Gruber/Obama relationship went back to 2006. Sounds like we’re just talking about “an adviser who was never on our staff”!
[guest post by JD]
Obama lies so effortlessly and reflexively, because he knows the MFM won’t call him on it.
Teh Won, apparently, doesn’t know how the internet works. Or doesn’t care, since he can count on the MFM to continue to carry his water for him.
Just another guy from the block.
UPDATE BY PATTERICO: Much more on this in my post here.
[guest post by JVW]
In the avalanche of news that came from the elections results on November 4, it was easy to overlook many smaller races that yielded interesting results. Progressives, who otherwise got metaphorically smacked in the mouth in the election, like to point to successful minimum wage hikes passed by initiative in several states as well as the defeat of personhood amendments championed by pro-lifers in two states (though a third state, Tennessee, voted for an amendment asserting there exists no right to abortion or taxpayer funding for abortion services). Writers at left-wing organizations such as Mother Jones, Slate, and the New York Times have used those results to suggest that the results of the election were a reaction to Obama Administration’s executive and bureaucratic difficulties and not a rejection of progressive principles, which they believe remain on the ascendancy.
But not all went swimmingly for the Vast Progressive Consensus on election night. It initially escaped notice outside of a narrow slice of the Pacific Northwest, but voters in blue, blue Oregon voted by a two-to-one margin to prohibit driver’s licenses for illegal immigrants in the very same election in which they overwhelmingly voted to reelect their Democrat governor, their Democrat U.S. Senator, and their Democrat U.S. Representatives (four of the five seats, each of which was won by no less than a 14% margin).
For some reason, this news hit the Internet over the past weekend with several outlets running this story. I found out about in the print version of my local newspaper this morning, with a brief blurb about the vote. It’s even being spun as a warning to President Obama that elite progressive opinion on what the administration likes to call immigration reform doesn’t necessarily filter all the way down to the rank-and-file Democrat voter. Now Oregon is but one data point among the blue states, but it’s looking more and more to me that this whole charade is being driven largely by activists in three big states, California, Illinois, and New York, with garden-variety media and academia lefties who live in the other
54 47 states obediently parroting the party line, with dissenting voices within the Democrat party having been shamed into silence. The President and his court eunuchs would do well to ponder the notion that there is a groundswell of popular resentment that their arrogance and isolation allows them to overlook. And the “immigration activists” who are so skilled at dominating media coverage might consider that perhaps their demands are too far ahead of public opinion on this issue.
It’s Hypocrisy Day here at Patterico, and having skewered Politico, it’s now Obama’s turn.
Jazz Shaw has an excellent post collecting some quotes from Barack Obama on his inability to unilaterally suspend deportations through executive order. I thought I would do a post that quotes these more extensively and adds one new quote to the list, to show what an utter hypocrite this guy is. This is a post you will want to bookmark for future reference, as you’ll see in a moment.
THE PRESIDENT: Well, first of all, temporary protective status historically has been used for special circumstances where you have immigrants to this country who are fleeing persecution in their countries, or there is some emergency situation in their native land that required them to come to the United States. So it would not be appropriate to use that just for a particular group that came here primarily, for example, because they were looking for economic opportunity.
With respect to the notion that I can just suspend deportations through executive order, that’s just not the case, because there are laws on the books that Congress has passed — and I know that everybody here at Bell is studying hard so you know that we’ve got three branches of government. Congress passes the law. The executive branch’s job is to enforce and implement those laws. And then the judiciary has to interpret the laws.
There are enough laws on the books by Congress that are very clear in terms of how we have to enforce our immigration system that for me to simply through executive order ignore those congressional mandates would not conform with my appropriate role as President.
MES: But why the deportations? Why is it necessary?
PBO: But, but, well, because that’s the law that’s on the books right now. And the way our system works, the president doesn’t have the authority to simply ignore Congress and say, we’re not going to enforce the laws that you’ve passed. What we do have the ability to do, and what we have systematically done, is to use our administrative authority to prioritize and say, let’s not focus on Dream Act kids. Let’s not focus on a law-abiding family that is out there trying to, you know, make their way. Let’s focus on folks who are engaged in criminal activity. Let’s focus on those that are breaking laws not just immigration laws. And in fact you’ve seen a steady increase in the percentage of those who are deported who have committed crimes. Now I can’t, again, just wave away the laws the Congress has put in place.
THE PRESIDENT: I just have to continue to say this notion that somehow I can just change the laws unilaterally is just not true. We are doing everything we can administratively. But the fact of the matter is there are laws on the books that I have to enforce. And I think there’s been a great disservice done to the cause of getting the DREAM Act passed and getting comprehensive immigration passed by perpetrating the notion that somehow, by myself, I can go and do these things. It’s just not true.
Now, what we can do is to prioritize enforcement, since there are limited enforcement resources, and say we’re not going to go chasing after this young man or anybody else who’s been acting responsibly and would otherwise qualify for legal status if the DREAM Act passed.
But we live in a democracy. You have to pass bills through the legislature, and then I can sign it. And if all the attention is focused away from the legislative process, then that is going to lead to a constant dead-end. We have to recognize how the system works, and then apply pressure to those places where votes can be gotten and, ultimately, we can get this thing solved.
But what I’ve said in the past remains true, which is until Congress passes a new law, then I am constrained in terms of what I am able to do. What I’ve done is to use my prosecutorial discretion, because you can’t enforce the laws across the board for 11 or 12 million people, there aren’t the resources there. What we’ve said is focus on folks who are engaged in criminal activity, focus on people who are engaged in gang activity. Do not focus on young people, who we’re calling dreamers, who are studying, grow up here, who through no fault of their own find themselves suddenly under the threat of deportation. That already stretched my administrative capacity very far. But I was confident that that was the right thing to do. But at a certain point the reason that these deportations are taking place is, Congress said, you have to enforce these laws. They fund the hiring of officials at the department that’s charged with enforcing. And I cannot ignore those laws anymore than I could ignore, you know, any of the other laws that are on the books.
For example, there are those in the immigrants’ rights community who have argued passionately that we should simply provide those who are [here] illegally with legal status, or at least ignore the laws on the books and put an end to deportation until we have better laws. And often this argument is framed in moral terms: Why should we punish people who are just trying to earn a living?
I recognize the sense of compassion that drives this argument, but I believe such an indiscriminate approach would be both unwise and unfair. It would suggest to those thinking about coming here illegally that there will be no repercussions for such a decision. And this could lead to a surge in more illegal immigration. And it would also ignore the millions of people around the world who are waiting in line to come here legally.
Ultimately, our nation, like all nations, has the right and obligation to control its borders and set laws for residency and citizenship. And no matter how decent they are, no matter their reasons, the 11 million who broke these laws should be held accountable.
And now, we have the New York Times this past Thursday:
WASHINGTON — President Obama will ignore angry protests from Republicans and announce as soon as next week a broad overhaul of the nation’s immigration enforcement system that will protect up to five million unauthorized immigrants from the threat of deportation and provide many of them with work permits, according to administration officials who have direct knowledge of the plan.
(Oddly, no hint of the above quotes makes it into the article.)
If you like your Constitutional respect for separation of powers, you can keep it.
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