If You Want It, Here It Is, Come And Get It

Big Johnson:  I’m Special Agent Johnson of the FBI.  This is Agent Johnson.  No relation.
Robinson:       Dwayne Robinson, LAPD.  I’m in charge here.
Big Johnson:  Not any more.
            —Robert Davi as Big Johnson and Paul Gleason as Deputy Police Chief Dwayne T. Robinson in Die Hard
I have to say I was a little taken aback by Monday’s Supreme Court ruling on the Arizona immigration law.  Despite my prior cautions against reading too much into justices’ questions and comments during oral argument, I really thought the administration was going to lose this one, and lose it badly.
Boy, was I wrong.
By now you are undoubtedly aware that on Monday the Supreme Court struck most of the Arizona statute as unconstitutional on the basis that it “undermine[s] federal law” in an area where the federal government has exclusive domain.  “Undermines”?  How do you figure?
The Court struck three aspects of the Arizona statute.  One made it a crime for immigrants to seek employment without work permits.  This did not create a new state registration requirement.  The permits to which the law referred are federal work permits already required under existing federal law, and the hiring of someone without that permit is already illegal under existing federal law. 
Another made it a crime for immigrants not to carry their immigration papers on their person.  Again, this didn’t create a new state registration requirement; no one had to file an application in Phoenix to get an Arizona green card.  This part of the Arizona law was referring to the federal immigration paper work again already required under existing federal law.
The third stricken part of the Arizona immigration law allowed the police to arrest anyone suspected of committing a deportable offense.  Once again, Arizona wasn’t creating any standards for deportation, or otherwise establishing substantive immigration policy.  All it was doing was authorizing state and local police to enforce existing federal immigration law as established by Congress.  That is no different than local police making an arrest for interstate heroin trafficking, or for purchasing or selling an unregistered Class III firearm (i.e., a machine gun).
In all three aspects of the statute, all Arizona was trying to do was provide supplemental enforcement mechanisms in support of existing federal immigration policy as set forth in existing federal law enacted by Congress.  The Arizona statute did nothing to impair federal authority over immigration, and was in no way inconsistent with it.  Yet a majority of the Court held that where the federal government is supreme, even complementary State action is forbidden. 
The administration, in challenging Arizona’s law, has been long and loud in its cry that this was its exclusive domain, and that States needed to butt out.  And as if to put a final cymbal crash on it, the Department of Homeland Security within hours of the Court’s ruling suspended all cooperative arrangements with the State of Arizona.
Yes, Goose, I know the finger.
Disappointed as I am in the ruling—and as nervous as it makes me about what I had been convincing myself was going to be a Thursday ruling striking Obamacare, and I fear the prospect that Chief Justice Roberts might turn out to be another David Souter (surely the Bushes couldn’t have repeated their mistake, could they?)—there may be a silver lining here.  This ruling is more likely to motivate flagging Tea Party types to stay in the game and get to the polls than it is to drive happy Latinos to vote.  But I think there’s a step further that can be taken here.
Some of you are going to tell me I need to be careful what I wish for, and you may be right.  But it seems to me that two can play this game that the federal Beast is imposing on us.  If the federal government wants the States to butt out of its policies and programs, even with complementary support or enforcement, fine.  Here are some suggestions: 
I’d like to see Arizona Governor Jan Brewer—God bless her—continue to stick to her guns.  If her problem is the federal government isn’t enforcing its own laws in an area in which it claims exclusive jurisdiction, make it put its money where its mouth is.  She should get together with Texas Governor Rick Perry (no chance Governor Moonbat in California will go along, and I have no idea what you’d hear from New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez) and sue the United States, Barack Obama, Eric Holder, and Janet Napolitano in federal court in Texas (we go to the 5th Circuit, not the 9th as you would out of Arizona) seeking a writ of mandamus and an affirmative injunction orderingthem to enforce the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 as it was written by Congress. 
Get as many states as will join to terminate (if possible) all leases for all federal agencies renting space on State property, and ban all federal law enforcement personnel from entering any State park or building.  What’s yours is yours, and what’s mine is mine.
End all State maintenance activities on Interstate highways.  Refer all complaints to Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, and explain that those are federal projects and are the responsibility of the federal government, as the federal government itself has made clear.  I’m sorry, I’d like to help, but we’ve been told by the White House and the United States Supreme Court to butt out of federal affairs.
Order all state and local law enforcement agencies to cease any efforts to investigate or arrest people in cases of tax evasion or any other enforcement of federal law.  Telephone or other communications from the FBI, Treasury Department, BATF, or any other federal law enforcement agency are not to be responded to beyond do it yourself.
Finally, end all State participation in Medicaid and any other unfunded federal mandates such as the Clean Air Act, Americans With Disabilities Act, etc.  Refer complaints to HHS, EPA, EEOC, or whatever the appropriate federal agency is.
The States are not mere subordinate subdivisions of the federal government to be employed or dismissed at the snap of the Beast’s finger.  They need to reassert their sovereignty, and the ongoing federal war against Arizona provides a perfect backdrop against which to do it.  The Beast picked this fight, not the States.  Time for the States to push back and tell the Beast “You want exclusive jurisdiction, you got it.  Take care of those things your own damn self.”
What’s the Beast gonna do about it?

Responsibility And Consequences

She was a girl from Birmingham
She just had an abortion
She was a case of insanity
Her name was Pauline, she lived in a tree
She was a no one who killed her baby
She sent her letters from the country
She was an animal
She was a bloody disgrace
Bodies, I’m not an animal.
            —Sex Pistols, Bodies
Meet Jennie Linn McCormack.
Last Sunday the Houston Chronicle reprinted a June 16 L.A. Times piece telling us that Ms. McCormack is the unfortunate victim in the middle of a vicious legal battle heading to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals next month challenging the constitutionality of an Idaho statute that makes it illegal to obtain abortion pills from out-of-state doctors.  The tragedy here, as the Times tells it, is that Ms. McCormack found herself pregnant in December 2010, but didn’t have practical access to an abortion.  Idaho has only two in-state abortion providers, and both were several hours away from her location in Southeastern Idaho (it is worth noting that Planned Parenthood does have abortion referral services at its Logan City, Utah facility about 50 miles away, but apparently Ms. McCormack didn’t have a car).  Without access to an abortion, she was going to be forced to bear the burden of a child she could not afford.
Oh, the horror of a child.
So to avoid her predicament, Ms. McCormack obtained an RU-486 abortion pill from her sister, who purchased it over the Internet in Mississippi, and aborted her pregnancy at home (As an aside, where are the federal mail/wire fraud and controlled substances charges against them both for lying to obtain and distribute a controlled substance across state lines?).  When local law enforcement found out about it she was charged with a felony under a 1972 Idaho statute that requires abortions to be performed by a doctor, and in the case of second-trimester abortions, that they be performed in a hospital.
Rusty, why do you bring up the second trimester?  Oh, did I forget to mention that her baby—the Timesarticle was careful to use the sterilized terms “fetus” and “it,” and of course never mentions a gender—was at 19 weeks when she performed the self-administered abortion? 
Yep, 19 weeks.  Five months. 
Charges were dismissed because there was no physical evidence left of the drug itself.  She has since filed a federal lawsuit seeking to block any further charges should additional evidence come to light—like, I don’t know, her public admission that she did it?—and to declare the law unconstitutional.  Joining her in the lawsuit is her lawyer—also a physician—who is challenging a 2011 statute prohibiting abortions after 19 weeks, arguing that permitting the state to punish abortion doctors limits abortion access.
Well, let’s see “the rest of the story,” as Paul Harvey used to put it.
This is not a tragic case of some 17 year old high school girl who shouldn’t be punished for life because she “just made a mistake,” as President Obama likes to tell it.  Jennie Linn McCormack, according to the Timesarticle, is a 33 year old unemployed single mother of three, living on $250 a month in child support.  The Times, of course, raises this to try to further cast her as the unfortunate victim.  But my take is a little different.  If the Times is correct, Ms. McCormack has kind of been there, and done that as far as pregnancy, and I think we can safely assume she’s got a solid idea what causes that particular “health problem.”  Presumably she’s also well aware of her precarious financial situation.  So what the hell is she doing placing herself and her kids at risk of having to add another unaffordable mouth to feed by having sex in the first place (never mind how she had time for that when she should be looking for a job to feed her kids, and by the way where were the kids since we know she can’t possibly have afforded a babysitter)?
Don’t come at me with the it’s not always voluntary bit.  There isn’t even a hint of rape or involuntariness in this story, and you know the Times would have been all over it if there were any evidence (even just Ms. McCormack’s uncorroborated allegation) of that, because it just makes the hapless victim storyline that much stronger.  No, even Ms. McCormack is not claiming that her pregnancy was anything other than the result of voluntary consensual sex.
So what we’re dealing with here is not an invasive violation like a rape, or even an innocent youthful mistake, but deliberate high-risk behavior by an “adult” who should know better.  Compounding the problem, according to the Times Ms. McCormack is a serial offender in this respect.  She had had at least one prior abortion just 18 months earlier (one wonders how many others the Timesignored or didn’t document), and the Bannock County prosecutor is quoted as saying that she had also had “miscarriages” (plural).  Not to make light of miscarriages—they do occur naturally among women who have no intention of aborting their pregnancy, and they are among the most heart-wrenching things anyone can experience—but combined with a history of multiple abortions, and the pattern with Ms. McCormack is readily apparent.
To make matters worse, the abortion was performed in this case at 19 weeks (RU-486 is typically indicated for less than 7), right at the edge of viability, given modern medical technology.  Are we really to believe that Ms. McCormack, who apparently has been through at least six prior pregnancies (three live children, at least one prior aborted pregnancy, and at least two miscarriages), didn’t know she was pregnant much earlier?  Puhleeze.  This baby was at the point he or she could have survived, given a chance.  But I guess carrying to term and giving up for adoption was just too inconvenient when weighed against the alternative of killing him or her.
But it gets even worse.
At 19 weeks, Ms. McCormack’s baby had hair, fingernails, and facial features.  He or she—again, we don’t know, not because it’s not knowable, but because in sterilizing the story the media doesn’t tell uswould have looked like a human baby.  Because of the way RU-486 works, Ms. McCormack would ultimately have had to see that.  Yet in a shocking display of callous disregard for human life and the responsibilities of parenthood, Ms. McCormack couldn’t even be troubled to give her baby the dignity of a decent burial, or at least turn the baby’s body over to authorities.  Instead, police found the baby’s frozen remains in a cardboard box on Ms. McCormack’s barbecue on her back porch.  And somehow she had the audacity to complain to the Boise Weekly that local residents now treat her like a pariah, and her remaining kids “feel a bit ashamed” because of what they’re hearing at school.
Can’t think why.
This woman is an obvious and disgusting poster child of irresponsibility.  But she is also the predictable—indeed, inevitable—product of a culture in which we increasingly shield people from the consequences of their own actions.  Corporations are deemed “too big to fail,” so we spread their losses among the citizenry in general, then we wonder why corporations continue to take unacceptable risks.  We so fear that holding children back in school will “stigmatize” them that rather than expecting them to master the material or fail, we eliminate grades (or at least failing grades) altogether, then we’re shocked to find that 18 year old Johnny can’t read.  We take money from young workers to provide their grandparents with a stipend, then we’re surprised that people aren’t saving for their own retirement.
It is little wonder, then—although more than a little ironic—that when we afford unfettered access to abortions in the interest of protecting women’s supposed “right to control” their own bodies we find examples like Ms. McCormack of women who take advantage of this system of infinite do-overs simply to exercise no control at all.  With no consequences, there is little incentive for her to govern her behavior.  She can seek all the immediate gratification she wants, because there is no price to be paid for it—at least not by her, but who else matters?—other than the cost of a pill and a used shoebox.  And all the while the press celebrates her as the unfortunate victim.  Hell, she may eventually get to talk on CNN (if she hasn’t already), and maybe even get her own reality TV show.
And so the cycle continues. 
I have no illusions that the 9th Circuit will do anything other than strike the Idaho abortion restrictions, because that Court hasn’t in decades seen a “pro-choice” issue it didn’t love, Constitution be damned.  How long we will allow serial abusers of the system to be bailed out of the consequences of their own deliberate acts of self-gratification at the cost of another human being’s life?

It Only Hurts Me When I Cry

“The lady doth protest too much, methinks.”
            —Queen Gertrude in Hamlet
My, my, my.  Things in the most transparent of all transparent and accountable administrations just got a little more opaque and a little less, well, accountable.
On Wednesday President Obama granted Attorney General Eric Holder’s request to invoke executive privilege to avoid disclosing documents being sought by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee relating to the investigation of Operation Fast & Furious.  As we touched on last last Monday, at issue are some 1,300 documents dating from February 2011 forward that the Committee has been trying to see since last October.  Holder tries to make that and the 7,600 pages already provided sound like a monumental effort.  As a commercial litigator, I can tell you it’s not.  A standard banker’s box (the roughly 16 x 20 inch box commonly used for storing and transporting documents) holds about 2,000 pages.  So the DOJ’s production to date consists of a grand total of less than four boxes; you will find at least that many on the floor in any associate’s office at any decent-sized law firm.  Over my nearly two decades in litigation practice, it was not uncommon to see document productions a couple of orders of magnitude larger.  1,300 documents is nothing.  Yet the Attorney General has delayed, redirected, and outright refused to comply with the subpoena (although in fairness he did sit down with Committee Chair Representative Darrell Issa (R-CA) to discuss the documents off the record). 
But Obama’s jumping into the fray with Wednesday’s privilege claim raises interesting questions.
First, where has this claim been for the last 8-9 months?  If these documents are properly covered by executive privilege, why was that privilege only invoked on the eve of Holder facing a possible contempt of Congress charge?  In litigation, a privilege that isn’t timely asserted is waived.  The documents are either privileged, or they’re not.  If the privilege applied, it has applied all along.  And it’s more than passing curious that although as recently as Tuesday night neither Holder nor Obama had said so much as “boo” about asserting any privilege, by Wednesday morning Holder had a detailed eight page, single spaced letter to the President setting out his legal research supporting the claim and asking the President to do it; the President had read it, presumably digested it and maybe even discussed it with the Attorney General or with White House counsel, and made the decision to act on it; and the Department of Justice had a four page, single spaced letter to Representative Issa informing him of Obama’s decision to invoke the privilege and explaining Holder’s version of events.  Of course, I’m just speculating, but having been around a legal opinion letter or fifty in my time, I know they typically don’t come to pass overnight; one suspects Holder and Obama have been holding this in their back pocket for some time.  Why are we only seeing it now?
Second, the executive privilege exists to protect candor in the executive’s deliberative process.  In other words, we want to ensure that the President receives the most candid internal discussion and advice in the course of his decision making, and without the privilege his advisors might be more guarded and less helpful than they might otherwise be.  If that’s so, then how can these documents be covered by the executive privilege if Holder had to write to tell Obama what they were, and affirmatively ask Obama to claim the privilege?  That is, if they were truly part of executive decision-making, shouldn’t the executive already know what those documents are and be seeking on his own to claim the privilege?
Third, to what “deliberative process” do these documents pertain, and more importantly, of what vital national security interest are they such that they need to be protected (a point then-Senator Obama made on national TV in criticizing the Bush administration’s invocation of the privilege)?  Fast & Furious, an operation even Holder has publicly admitted was a “mistake” that “should never have happened,” is over.  It’s not an ongoing project.  Moreover, the documents at issue don’t deal with the operation itself, and thus should have no implications in terms of jeopardizing personnel or current law enforcement activities.
In his letter to the President justifying his request that Obama claim the privilege, Holder throws the phrase “deliberative process” around like so much candy, because he knows it is the touchstone for the legal standard governing whether the privilege applies.  But he uses it with no mooring to any substantive executive branch activity, instead apparently assuming that if he just uses the phrase enough times, it will be accepted as the truth.  The best Holder can do is claim that the documents from February 2011 forward deal with executive branch deliberations over how to respond to the media and to the Congressional inquiry.  In other words, they are documents not about the administration’s policy or the law enforcement project, but on how the administration was going to cover its ass once Fast & Furious became public. 
Given that the Justice Department originally told Congress on February 4, 2011 that there was no Fast & Furious—a representation Holder has since had to admit was “incorrect” (read: an outright lie), the administration’s response IS the issue.  The salient point Representative Issa has been trying to get at for months has been who knew about the operation and when, and why was Congress originally told it didn’t exist (not coincidentally, essentially the same questions asked of the Nixon administration with respect to Watergate; the difference here is we have at least one dead American as a direct result of the activity the administration initially denied even took place).  The documents Holder, and now Obama, are withholding go directly to those questions.
Fourth, and most importantly, why are Holder and Obama going to such lengths to prevent these documents from seeing the light of day?  What’s in those documents that is so vital they not be turned over to Congress?  We are repeatedly told not to worry about it because the DOJ’s Inspector General is investigating, but of course that’s like the wolf telling you not to worry about that incident in the chicken coop because the fox is looking into it.  Oh, OK.  Meanwhile, every time Issa’s committee presses further, Holder’s and the DOJ’s story changes; Wednesday, the DOJ was forced to retract Holder’s recent testimony in which he attempted—erroneously and with no evidence—to claim that the Bush administration was briefed on a similar sting called Operation Wide Receiver.  If there’s nothing nefarious going on, why all the secrecy, and why can’t they keep their tale straight?  Why are they crying unless the questions hurt?
And why do they have to keep trying to blame Bush?
Assuming Obama and Holder are both clean on this, there’s no reason for them to resist turning these things over, and indeed doing so would presumably have demonstrated that very fact, and thus long ago ended any political mileage for Representative Issa to gain by continuing to investigate.  Yet the family of slain Border Agent Brian Terry and the American people remain with no answers as to who in this most transparent of all transparent administrations is to be accountable.
They and we deserve better. 

Too Little Too Late

First they came for the Communists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Communist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—
And there was no one left to speak out for me.
            —Rev. Martin Niemöller (at various times, and in various versions)
You’ve probably seen that a series of lawsuits has been filed by various Catholic organizations challenging the abortion-funding and contraception mandates emanating from Obamacare.  Timothy Cardinal Dolan, leading the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, has been most vocal in opposition to these obvious intrusions into Catholics’ free exercise of their religious convictions.  And rightly so.
But my question to Cardinal Dolan and others is:  Where have you been?
To begin with, while I applaud the recent outspokenness, I have to say that the sudden righteous indignation over government mandates involving abortion and contraception rings a bit hollow.  Granted, I’m a recent arrival to the Church via the RCIA process.  But in the five years I’ve been attending Mass I can count on two fingers the times I’ve heard any discussion of the Church’s teaching about human life and the abortion/contraception issue (and we didn’t cover it in RCIA at all).  This is not a cafeteria plan elective issue—it’s fundamental to the faith.  Yet my experience has been that by and large we deal with it by not dealing with it, particularly when it’s come to challenging the District.  I’m not aware of Sean Cardinal O’Malley in Boston, or Donald Cardinal Wuerl in Washington, D.C., or Archbishop George Niederauer in San Francisco, or Archbishop Joseph Naumann in Kansas City, or Bishop Francis Malooly in Wilmington so much as denying communion to, much less excommunicating “Catholic” politicians like Vice President Joe Biden (D-DE), Senator John Kerry (D-MA), Representative Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), or HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius (D-KS), all of whom have actively pushed pro-abortion and pro-contraception policies directly in conflict with the Church’s teaching.  The Church whines the whine now, but it has to a certain extent failed to walk the walk on the abortion/contraception issue. 
That said, there’s a larger point at work here.
I’ve been discussing this issue off and on with a buddy of mine for awhile.  The USCCB and others complain now that the federal government’s overstepping has landed squarely on their First Amendment toes.  But this has been something that was coming for a long time, and they’ve not only been silent as government creep has swallowed liberty in other areas, they’ve actually been actively cheering it on.  In other words, for all their current complaining about government overreach, the Obamacare problem is something Catholic leadership in the U.S. has to a large degree brought on itself by consistently supporting an ever-expanding federal government to accomplish objectives that are more properly the province of the private efforts of the Church. 
Consider (and h/t to Brutus for feeding me most of these links):  

  • The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has been favoring a government overhaul of healthcare since 1919.  In short, the USCCB has for a century advocated that the government nationalize this private industry, and that health care for one person be paid for with tax dollars taken from another.  
  • Continuing an at least tacit opposition to free markets and private property, the Church—apparently including at least some U.S. Bishops—supported the “basic sentiment” of the “Occupy” movement, including the government-forced redistribution of wealth,and global “regulation” of economies.  
  • As far back as at least 2001, the USCCB was advocating for government “stimulus,” again forcibly redistributing wealth by taking it from one person in the form of taxes, and giving it to another in the form of “benefits.”  
  • The USCCB opposed Representative Paul Ryan’s (R-WI) budget in part because it took measures to deal with the fraud endemic in the Child Care Tax credit.    Recall, as I reported here that billions were being lost through this program as illegal aliens were claiming credits—resulting in their receiving actual checks from the U.S. Treasury—for children that did not exist, or were not in this country.  But no matter to the Church, even though through this fraud illegals are literally stealing money from taxpayers.  
  • And the USCCB has advocated the creation of a National Housing Trust Fund, to create housing funded through taxpayer money siphoned from FHA and Ginnie Mae.

The Church has excelled at supporting social issues through its charitable works for millennia.  In the U.S., for over 100 years Catholic Charities USA has been working to reduce poverty and hunger—in 2010 alone CCUSA fed over 7 million people, and provided various social services to over 10 million.  There are over 400 Catholic hospitals in the U.S.  Nearly 7,000 Catholic primary and secondary schools boast a total enrollment of over 2 million children.  There are 244 Catholic colleges and universities.

Where the Church and the Bishops run astray is when they seek to accomplish their social mission through government.  The Church can collect and distribute alms, and when it’s voluntary  that’s fine.  But she goes too far when she attempts to use the force of government to extract those alms at the point of a federal bayonet.  Yet time and again the Church, and more specifically the USCCB, has advocated just that, apparently with no regard for the intrusion on free markets and private property rights such efforts pose.
I’ve written on this subject before.  God instructed us to be our brother’s keeper, but what God expects from us is always voluntary.  As the USCCB should well know, in our Catholic liturgy, during the Eucharistic Prayer at every Mass the priest recites that even Jesus’ Passion—the ultimate social justice program—was something into which He “entered willingly.”  God gave us free will, and when we look at social works in a biblical context, it is the willingness to give that is the touchstone, not accomplishing charitable aims by any means necessary, including force of government.

For too long the Church in the U.S. has misunderstood the proper role of government in our constitutional republic, and failed to appreciate the ramifications of the ratchet effect inevitably associated with government creep.  The Bishops cheered the expansion of government when it furthered the Church’s social aims, but they did so with too little foresight as to what  ramifications expanding government intrusions in one area might have on others.  They howl now that they’re getting bitten by the law of unintended consequences, and they’re shocked to find that the Beast to which they’ve fed others’ liberty for decades has now turned to devour theirs. 
Having unwittingly sowed the wind, the Church is now reaping the whirlwind (see Hosea 8:7). 
God help us.

Breaking All The Rules

I need you so, that I could die
I love you so, and that is why
Whenever I want you, all I have to do
Is drea—-eam, dream.
            —The Everly Brothers, All I Have To Do Is Dream
By now you are no doubt aware of President Obama’s (at times surly and even childish) announcement last Friday of a new Homeland Security initiative to suspend deportation of certain illegal aliens who were brought here as children and have kept themselves out of trouble.  The action fulfills his pledge last year to act where Congress fails to act, and was lauded by Hispanic activists and decried by conservative commentators as obvious political pandering.  All the usual sources have spent the weekend blasting the President’s announcement as an unconstitutional end run around Congress, and they’re correct.  
But I don’t see that anybody’s really detailing whythat’s so.
To begin, let me say that this isn’t an I hate Obama thing.  Nor is it some racist push to free America from the dead weight of people of color (and no, I’m not saying non-whites are dead weight; I’m mocking what I’m going to be accused of).  It’s true that I have substantive objections to amnesty and the DREAM Act, but the discussion today isn’t about the content of the President’s new policy.  It’s about how that policy has come to pass.
If you’ve ever tried to play a board game with a four-year-old, you know that the actual rules set out on the inside of the box only matter as long as they suit the four-year-old.  The minute it becomes more interesting or more expedient—four-year-olds can’t say “expedient,” but they dang sure understand the concept—those rules change, often unannounced and even in undefined ways.  The game, of course, then devolves into a meaningless chaos in which the only certainty is that either the four-year-old will win, or everything comes to an end and there is much rending of garments and gnashing of teeth.
Well, it seems that’s kind of what we’re dealing with with Obama.
I’ve covered this before here, and here, and here, and here.  But it appears we’ll have to go through it again. 
The cornerstone of our democratic republic, and the reason we’ve been able to avoid any meaningful attempt at a violent coup d’état to this point in our history, is that our government and society are based on the rule of law.  We don’t make it up as we go; decisions are made through the application of known principles without the intervention of discretion.  That is, we have a set of rules that are well understood and apply to everybody, such that we operate in a predictable set of circumstances, and we can be confident that the same rules that apply today will apply tomorrow.  That’s not to say we don’t change or evolve.  But even that evolution proceeds according to a defined and predictable process.
The Constitution is our basic legal framework, the rules on the inside of the boxtop setting out how the federal government is supposed to operate.  Article I, Section 1 reads, in its entirety:
All legislative Powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States, which shall consist of a Senate and a House of Representatives.
“All,” according to Black’s Law Dictionary, means “the whole of,” or “every member or individual component of.”  To “legislate” means “to enact laws.”  To “enact” is “to establish by law” or “to decree.”  “Power” is “the right, ability, authority, or faculty of doing something.”  The Framers could hardly have been more clear:  the entire right, ability, and authority to establish or decree laws—every bit of it—rests with Congress.  Period.  There isn’t even a second sentence to Section 1.
The Framers made no mention of the President in this respect.
But for the learning-impaired, we can go a step further.  Article II , Section 1 sets forth the basic job of the President:
The executive Power shall be vested in a President of the United States of America.
Nowhere in Section 1—or anywhere else in Article II—does the Constitution mention a power to legislate.  “Executive,” as distinguished from legislative or judicial, is the branch of government charged with “carrying laws into effect and securing their due observance.”  Indeed, to “execute”  is to “complete,” or “to carry out according to its terms.”  And not to put too fine a point on it, the only mention Article II makes of “laws” at all, other than in the context of appointing public officials (and even then it’s limiting the presidential appointment power to those matters that Congress decides by law to confer), appears in Section 3:
[The President] shall take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed[.]
The Constitution simply does not confer any power upon the President to create laws.  There is no exception for the President to act in an area simply because Congress doesn’t.  Nor is there an exception when it’s “the right thing to do.”  In the context of Obama’s announcement Friday, it doesn’t matter if his new policy is similar to a proposal made by Tea Party favorite Marco Rubio.  There’s a key difference:  Marco Rubio is a Senator—a member of that Congress that isvested with the power to legislate—and he can sponsor legislation. Obama isn’t, and can’t.  And in any event, no matter how good or right an idea it is, or how Republican its origins, Barack Obama and Marco Rubio don’t collectively comprise a majority or even an quorum of both houses of Congress.  They still need 218 Representatives and 50 more Senators to vote “aye” before their idea can become law.
Furthermore, Congress has acted with respect to the deportation of illegal aliens.  The Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 (8 U.S.C. § 1101 et seq.)—a law pushed by liberal favorite Ted Kennedy—lays the ground rules for immigration and deportation.  You can read it for yourself at the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services website here.  The statute confers NO discretion upon the President to enforce or not enforce the Act as he sees fit, and there is no exception from the deportation rules (8 U.S.C. § 1227 (Sec. 237 at the USCIS website)) for illegal aliens who were brought here as children.  There is very limited discretion vested in the Attorney General, the Secretary of State, and the Secretary of Homeland Security to do some very specific things in some very specific circumstances on a case-by-case basis, typically dealing with individual instances of domestic violence.  But otherwise, what the statute does do (8 U.S.C. § 1103 (Sec. 103 at the USCIS website)) is charge the Attorney General with the responsibility “to guard the boundaries and borders of the United States against the illegal entry of aliens,” a power Eric Holder has emphatically claimed for himself and the federal government in his lawsuit against the State of Arizona, but which his (and his predecessors’) dereliction in discharging is the root cause of the very dilemma Obama is purporting to address with his partial amnesty.   
This is the law enacted by Congress and to which the President is constitutionally bound to take care is faithfully executed.  I don’t see how unilaterally decreeing an express policy of refusing to enforce this law is “faithfully executing” anything.
To be sure, Barack Obama is not the first President to issue an executive order, nor is he the first to stretch the boundaries of presidential power.  But what we are seeing now is the pinnacle of a branch too long left unchecked, and it has now come fully untethered from its constitutional moorings.  The Framers deliberately excluded the ability to make laws—and refusing to enforce is, at a practical level, every bit an act of legislating as is drafting a bill from scratch, because it is effectively writing the law out of existence—from the discretion afforded the President.  Our Founders gave us a constitutional republic in which the power to make law rests solely with the People, through their representatives in the two houses of Congress.  They wanted to stay away from a government in which the power to make laws resided in the discretion of a single man.  They had a word for such a man:
They called him a “king.” 
And our Founders pledged their lives, fortunes, and sacred honor to be free of such a man.   

The Agony Of Defeat

“First, don’t f@*% with me.  I’m a desperate man!  And second, I want some fresh coffee.  And third, I want a recount!  And no matter how it turns out, I want my old job back!”
            —Mark Carlton as defeated Old Detroit Mayor Ron Miller in Robocop
Unemployment is at 8.2% and expected to climb.  Real unemployment is at a near-Great-Depression-level 14.5% and climbing.  The Eurozone is on the brink of collapse, and there’s no telling to what extent they’ll drag us down with them.  The Russians are arming the Assad regime in Syria, and providing materiel for Iran’s oh-so-innocent nascent nuclear program.  The New York Times readily and repeatedly obtains—and prints—classified intelligence information, but the United States Congress can’t get anything out of the Department of Justice beyond name, rank, and serial number. 
So what’s at the top of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s (D-NV) legislative agenda?
That’s right, the United States Senate hasn’t passed a single budget proposal in three years on his watch, has taken no action on a dozen or more jobs bills that have passed the House, and Harry Reid’s concern is federal regulation of professional boxing.
I’m not even making that up.
I confess I haven’t followed boxing at all since Mike Tyson bit Evander Holyfield’s ear off back in 1997.  For those of you like me who were still wondering why the sun rose an hour late last Sunday morning, I now have the answer: apparently Manny Pacquiao lost a controversial split decision to Timothy Bradley for the WBO Welterweight title on Saturday night.  According to many observers, Pacquiao should have been awarded the decision; it’s all a great travesty, and there are multiple investigations sure to result in those responsible being sacked.  It doesn’t seem to occur to anyone that this is a problem inherent in any “sport” in which winners and losers are decided based on a judging panel’s subjective assessment of the largely aesthetic quality of an athlete’s performance (see gymnastics, figure skating, ice dancing, diving, synchronized swimming, pretty much any “X-Games” event, and the BCS football championship).
Based on complaints by others who saw the Pacquiao/Bradley fight, Reid—who didn’t see the fight himself, but who was an amateur boxer and rumor has it stayed in a Holiday Inn Express last night—is renewing calls for a federal commission to regulate the sport nationally.  Yes, the solution is always some kind of government intervention.  In this case, Reid wants to set up a National Boxing Commission—I prefer “Commission for the Regulation and Administration of Pugilism”—to establish health and safety regulations, license boxers and officials, and also regulate the business side.  Presumably the notion is that if only there had been government oversight of these things, the Pacquiao/Bradley result would have been different.  I also suppose it’s just a coincidence that Manny Pacquiao has been a political supporter of Reid’s (although I’ve got to think that the Vegas boys who run the casinos that host these fights can’t be happy with their senator inviting federal noses to peek into their operations).
Doesn’t the Senate have anything better to do with its time?
The irony here is that the fight took place in Las Vegas—in Reid’s own home state—where the Nevada Athletic Commission already has health and safety regulations for boxing, licenses participants and officials, and regulates the business.  In other words, government is already doing what Reid wants government to do.  So apparently Reid’s position is that the federal government will do it better.  Oh, now I see.  And you know Reid’s right on this, because his co-sponsor on past efforts to pass this kind of legislation is none other than John McCain (R-AZ), and anything McCain supports has to be good.
This might be different if someone crossed state lines for a bout—thus implicating interstate commerce—and got hurt because of inadequate safety measures, although it is worth noting that the major private boxing authorities—the WBC and IBF at the time—handled reforms themselves after Duk Koo Kim was killed in a bout with Ray Mancini in 1982.  But that’s not the issue with Pacquiao/Bradley.  The sole concern in this instance is that some people don’t agree with the outcome of the contest, and feel that someone other than the one who won should have won.  If that is the impetus for regulation, what Reid is really advocating is that the United States federal government literally step in and sort out the winners and losers.
Of a game.  
A rough and sometimes brutal combat-oriented game, but a game nonetheless.
This idea that government needs to intervene to correct the results of sporting events is, in a word, stupid.  To begin with, I can’t find anything in the Constitution that even comes close to suggesting that Congress has any authority to act in this fashion.  Nowhere in the Federalist Papers did Madison, Jay, or Hamilton discuss federal regulation of sports.  The Preamble doesn’t say “We the People, in order to assure right and just outcomes of athletic contests . . .”  There is no constitutional right to a correct decision in a boxing match—or any other sporting contest—or even to a fair fight for that matter.
More importantly, where does it end?  If Congress is going to regulate the judging of boxing matches, will it next be setting up commissions to ensure the results of gymnastics competitions?  Is there going to be a federal panel reviewing ball/strike calls at Fenway?  Are we going to have mandatory instant replay review of every questionable pass completion in the NFL?
Oh, wait.  I forgot we already have that.
And why stop at professional sports, or even organized athletics?  Maybe there should be an agency in the District to oversee Little LeagueAlex, who is Danny Almonte?or a federal bureaucrat to certify the winner when my six-year-old and her friends play Chutes and Ladders.  Hell, maybe we should even consider bringing in U.N. observers, just to make sure it’s all on the up-and-up.
I love sports, but we’ve got to get ahold of ourselves.  At the end of the day sports are just games, and human errors and unlucky breaks are a part of them.  Unlike capital punishment, it’s not really thatimportant in the grand scheme that we move heaven and earth to get it 100% right whether the ball was in or out. 
In golf it’s called “the rub of the green”: sometimes good shots bounce into bad places.  The USSR gets three cracks with time expired to beat the U.S. to win Olympic basketball gold in 1972.  Mike Renfro is incorrectly ruled out of bounds, costing the Oilers a game-tying touchdown in the 1979 AFC championship game against the Steelers.  Colorado scores on fifth down to beat Missouri in 1990.  Jeffrey Maier reaches from the seats into the field of play to steal a home run for the Yankees’ Derek Jeter in the 1996 ALCS vs. the Orioles.  Yankee second baseman Chuck Knoblauch tags out Boston’s Jose Offerman from several arms’ lengths away in the 1999 ALCS.  That’s just the way it goes, and life seems to go on, even in Red Sox Nation.
Reagan taught us back in 1960 that “No government ever voluntarily reduces itself in size. So, governments’ programs, once launched, never disappear.”  It is the very nature of government agencies to metastasize, both in size and in jurisdictional reach.  Once we start involving government in regulating the officiating and results of sports, it’s only a matter of time before it moves beyond simply ensuring that the player who should win in fact does win, to ensuring overall “fairness.”  In the interest of creating an “even playing field,” regulators will begin skewing the rules—or selectively applying them—so that better players don’t have an advantage over inferior players.  Maybe bad golfers will get a federally-mandated bigger hole, or slower track runners will get a head start enforced by administrative rule.  From there, they will seek to eliminate advantages created by one player having grown up in an environment more conducive to developing playing skill, and from there move to force-fitting the win/loss results to some pre-determined distribution reflective of the demographic cross-section of society regardless of skill level, performance, or effort.
This pathological impulse to resort to government regulation as the panacea for every perceived societal deficiency has got to stop.  More importantly, the pervasive interest of government at all levels in controlling the minutiae of our lives has got to stop.  Sports.  The size of the Coke you get at a restaurant.  Your popcorn at the movie theater.  A glass of milk.  Where is the end to what the Statists want to control?
Jefferson wrote that “the policy of the American government is to leave their citizens free, neither restraining nor aiding them in their pursuits.” 
He would not recognize this country today.

Brilliant Disguise

Now you play the loving woman
I’ll play the faithful man
But just don’t look too close, baby
Into the palm of my hand
            —Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, Brilliant Disguise
In October 2008, then-Senator and Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama campaigned on the premise that “we need to end an era in Washington where accountability’s been absent.”  He followed that up in January 2009, shortly after taking office, by signing an executive order setting ethics guidelines for his administration, promising “a new era of openness,” and that “[t]ransparency and the rule of law will be the touchstones of this presidency.”
Amazingly, he even said these things with a straight face.
Fast forward to 2012, where Attorney General Eric Holder last week was once again hauled before Darrell Issa’s (R-CA) House Judiciary Committee on Department of Justice Oversight.  Holder claimed that a series of 2010 emails did not in fact pertain to the disastrous Operation Fast & Furious, but instead to the Bush-era Operation Wide Receiver, despite the fact that the emails repeatedly and specifically referred to “Fast & Furious” and “F and F”.
These aren’t the ‘droids you’re looking for.
To reset the issue, in December 2010 U.S. Border Agent Brian Terry was murdered in Arizona.  Guns linked to the killing were traced to Mexican drug cartels, which had acquired the guns from weapons smugglers in the United States.  The Department of Justice had the opportunity to intercept the guns, but under Operation Fast & Furious the guns were allowed to “walk” in an effort to track where the smugglers’ traffic was going.  Representative Issa has been trying for over a year to get to the bottom of who was responsible for this.  Although Holder has admitted that the program was unacceptable and should never have happened, no one has yet been held accountable for it, and the DOJ has given Issa little but the finger in his quest to obtain information.
For all the trumpeting about this administration’s commitment to transparency and accountability, all evidence is they’re much more interested in deflecting blame and covering their asses than in getting to the truth:
February 2011:  DOJ sends a letter responding to an inquiry from Senator Charles Grassley (R-IA) of the Senate Judiciary Committee effectively denying the existence of any “gunwalking” operations, and claiming that every effort was being made to prevent the traffic of guns into Mexico. 
Doesn’t exist.  Nothing to see here.  Move along.
May 2011:  When the February letter unraveled and the existence of Fast and Furious became too well-documented to deny, Holder admits that the February letter was “inaccurate,” but testifies before Issa’s committee that he didn’t know anything about it, and had only learned of the existenceof Fast & Furious “for the first time over the last few weeks.” 
OK, maybe it existed, but we only found out about it around April of 2011.     
November 2011: Confronted with yet another set of documents clearly demonstrating earlier knowledge than he previously disclosed, Holder admits that he probably should have said “couple of months” instead of “last few weeks” when he testified in May.  His defense against the documents?  They consisted of reports he couldn’t possibly be expected to have read. 
Um, maybe we actually knew about it in February or March of 2011.
So what about these new emails?  They consist of a string from late October 2010—i.e., before Brian Terry was killed—in which not only is Fast & Furious repeatedly mentioned by name, but the topic of conversation was how much flak the administration was going to catch over “gunwalking” when the operation became public, which was expected to be soon.  More importantly, the emails were between Deputy Assistant Attorney General Jason Weinstein, and James Trusty, at the time the Principal Deputy Chief for Litigation.  These aren’t field personnel in Arizona—these are people with the Justice Department in D.C.  So we have people fairly high up in the DOJ considering the degree to which there needed to be damage control over Fast & Furious becoming public.  They knew the operation’s name and its nature.
Does this mean Attorney General Holder knew about the operation that far back?  Not necessarily.
But it begs the question why he keeps dodging the issue and changing his testimony as to when he did know.  More importantly, why does he keep getting all indignant about being dragged back before Issa’s committee instead of getting to the bottom of who in DOJ did know about it and firing them?  This would have been over months ago had he done that.
But he hasn’t.  And he won’t.
Instead he tries to claim that “Fast & Furious” isn’t talking about Fast & Furious, it’s talking about George Bush.
What?  This man is the Attorney General of the United States, and that’s the best he can come up with?
Once again, we see there is simply no substance to this administration.  From the top down, they are almost without exception completely out of their depth, which is why they are reduced to cheap semantic games and sophomoric political pranks.  You thought it depends on your definition of “is” was bad?  These people think it’s all a big game, that if they just wink and smile  they can say anything and it’ll all be OK.
Smile and wave, boys.  Just smile and wave.
Consider that this President has attended 191 fundraising events through early March of this year.  He’s played 93 rounds of golf—an average of right at one every two weeks.  His bi-monthly vacations—transportation courtesy Air Force One, sometimes with a separate private 747 for the Mrs.—to ritzy playgrounds for the uber-wealthy are well-documented.  Less well-known, although Mark Levin frequently reads from these on his syndicated radio show, Obama’s published schedule almost invariably shows his work day beginning no earlier than 10:00 a.m. and ending by 4:30 p.m. (when he has anything scheduled at all).  Meanwhile, he hasn’t submitted a single serious budget since taking office; his last two budgets have failed to net even a single aye vote, even from the Democrats.  Other than Obamacare—which he’s about to lose in the Supreme Court—he hasn’t managed to enact a single significant initiative, despite having a sympathetic supermajority in both houses of Congress for two years of his presidency.  The President screams bloody murder when members of Congress on both sides of the aisle question where the New York Times keeps getting its steady diet of classified intelligence information, yet doesn’t even say boo when the Russians are shipping materiel to Iran for its nuclear program.
He’s been all about being the President instead of doing the job of the President.  He has plenty of time to make NC-17 jokes about his wifehello, NOW, anyone home?but no time to order his attorney general to get to the bottom of who is responsible for an official DOJ program that has been directly linked to the death of a federal border agent.  I guess it’s a matter of priorities.
This was supposed to be the most transparent and accountable administration of all time.  Yet with Fast & Furious, it has stonewalled and dodged an investigation that it should have been leading itself.  Ironically, while it’s been doing everything it can to prevent anyone from looking under the skirt on this, I see it’s been accumulating a terrifyingly detailed cache of information about you, from what you read, to where you shop, who your friends are, and how you vote. 
This administration is transparent, all right.  We may have just misunderstood which direction the two-way mirror runs.

Carry That Weight

“This is Bob.  Bob had bitch tits.”
—Ed Norton Jr. as The Narrator in Fight Club 
I’m going to step away from the political today.  OK, well mostly.
Those of you who are regular readers of this space know that I don’t make it a habit of agreeing with Michelle Obama.  And unlike her I’m not going to suggest that what I’m going to talk about today is something that needs a government solution.  But she’s right about one thing:
We’re fat.  

Really.  Freaking.  Fat.
I spent last week on vacation with the family in San Antonio, watching sea lion and killer whale shows at Sea World, riding roller coasters ‘till we puked at Six Flags Fiesta Texas, and slip-slidin’ away at the Aquatica waterpark.  And while we had a really good time, I have to tell you the consistent and lasting impression I had was that, on the whole, we are shockingly, colossally, carnival-side-show overweight.  Over those four days, I saw more cottage cheese thighs (and calves, and waists, and arms . . . ), man-boobs, belly rolls, triple chins, underarm flaps, and solar eclipse-inducing asses than I’ve ever seen in my life.
It was, well, gross.
What was really startling, however, was how consistent and across-the-board this observation went.  Yes, there were the occasional gym rats.  But my very unscientific guess was that seven in ten were visibly overweight.  Of those seven, five were what anyone would call downright fat.  Three were objectively and catastrophically obese.  At any given time, from where I was standing I could count at least a dozen people who could have passed for Jabba the Hut without prosthetics.  Mr. Creosote had nothing on this crowd, Brother.  Even among the three in ten I would call reasonably healthy, most—myself included—were carting around an ample spare tire around the midsection.
While you statistics majors may challenge whether I had a representative cross-section and a sufficient sample size (I will say in this regard we waded through tens of thousands of people), this was no isolated snapshot.  It was the same every day, whether walking around downtown, touring the Alamo, or at any one of three different parks.  And the phenomenon knew no demographic boundaries.  I saw it in the old and the young.  Black, white, Asian, and Hispanic.  Male and female.  I mean, it was across the board. 
Saddest—and most inexcuseable—was how consistently I saw it in children.  I saw one young man sitting on a bench who might have been eleven years old, plus or minus.  He had his shirt off, because he’d been in the pool.  Sitting there, slump-shouldered, he had by my count five separate folds in his flesh above the belt: one near his armpits above his breasts, his breasts themselves, and then three different belly folds.  This was not an abberational observation.  It was typical of what I saw.  Kid after kid looked like the love child of the Bibendum (look it up) and Aunt Jemima.
We didn’t used to be like this.  Look at photos from the Civil War and World War I—you almost never see fat people, and never the seriously obese.  The average adult male fighting for the U.S. in World War II was 5’8”, and weighed 155 lbs.  I saw plenty of children last week who were pushing that weight.  We’re not getting soft—we’re flat mushy.
What happened to us?
The short answer is we consume too much and move too little, but that doesn’t really tell the full story.  The conveniences and abundance of our modern America have separated most of us from what it actually takes to produce food.  Our grocery store shelves are packed with pre-fabricated processed foods—just add water and nuke it, and you’re good to go; never mind what’s in it or where it came from.  Our streets are lined with fat-laden fast food chains.  Our TVs bombard us with programming like the Travel Channel’s Man vs. Food, in which the obese host travels from town to town gorging himself on ridiculously portioned—frankly downright shamefully wasteful—foods like 50 pound hamburgers.  There’s never a thought given to what it took to generate that burger, how many multiples of people that could have fed, or the cost of the waste if it gets thrown out.  That it would have even occurred to anyone to make that thing in the first place, much less create a TV show out of watching some fat guy try to eat it, speaks volumes about where we are now.
This is dangerous.  God bless our men and women in uniform, but the AVF won’t be nearly enough to defend us if it really came down to a serious war of conquest against us.  If we had to resort to a mass callup to defend ourselves, and if what I saw last week was any indication of the pool from which we’ll have to draw to do it, we’re in trouble.  I don’t care how much whoop-ass you think is in that can you’re going to open on those Chinamen, Jethro; if you can’t catch them, it’s not gonna matter much.
You think we have a problem with our healthcare system?  Well, don’t look at the insurance companies, and don’t talk to me about coverage for pre-existing conditions or illegal aliens.  How much are we spending, and how many resources are we unnecessarily tying up or downright wasting because of the basic lack of conditioning of huge swaths of our population in this country?  I submit this is a good place to start.
Look, I don’t expect everyone to be shredded like a Navy SEAL.  And I don’t believe in strict numbers like the Body Mass Index that try to dictate a weight for a given height.  I’m less concerned about the number on the scale than about what that number’s made of.  But here are some clues, based on my observations last week, that can tell you if the weight you’re carrying—and, more importantly, what that weight is comprised of—is too much for your individual body:
1.        If you can hide your finger underneath the flesh on your torso (women’s breasts excepted), you’re too fat.  And guys, don’t tell me those are your pecs.  The Rock has pecs.  You don’t.  His pecs don’t have a fold underneath.  Yours do.  Those aren’t pecs, they’re breasts.
2.         If your nipples or navel face the ground, you’re too fat.  I’ll cut some slack to those who are a little older—gravity does take its toll over time.  But for most of us, those things that we started life with facing forward should still more or less point that direction.
3.        If you need a brassiere to support the flesh on your ribs below your armpits, you’re too fat.  That’s just gross.
4.         If your navel is substantially further from your spine than your nipples are, you’re too fat.  We’re not supposed to be shaped like pears.

5.       If your arms at your sides point anywhere other than down, you’re too fat.  Self-explanatory.

6.        If you have to go sideways through any opening designed for normal adults to pass through going forward, you’re too fat.
7.        Guys, if you have to lift anything out of the way other than the seat in order to pee, you’re too fat.
8.         Ladies, one roll for your breasts is fine.  Two is too many.  Three is, well . . . you get the idea.
9.         You should have a chin, not a neck attached to your lip.
10.       You should have only one chin.

Let’s all put down the Haagen-Dazs and the TV remote, and try to move around a little more than we have been.

Before it’s too late.


EDITOR’S NOTE:  Changes in the demands on my time may reduce the frequency in posts over the coming weeks, but I will continue to post as time permits and the news cycle feeds my muse.