…it is very difficult not to fall into the almost universal tendency to treat our knowledge as a set of basically fixed truths, and thus not of the nature of process….
Obama Versus The Federal Constitution
The president has ordered changes in the enforcement of immigration law that will permit a large number of aliens to remain in the USA, though on the 19th of November, 2014, they were not authorized to be in the country. Obama’s action is controversial, to say the least. Perhaps the following commentary can clarify matters.
In truth, the scope, nature, and intent of The One’s executive action are all immaterial. Perhaps immigration law should be changed exactly as he demands; perhaps he’s utterly wrong, and the law should be left alone. None of that matters.
The only valid concerns are not at all what he has done or why, but how he has done it, and what that reveals about him.
The specifics of what Obama has ordered in his ukase — briefly, he wants some provisions of immigration law to be disregarded rather than enforced — are a distraction. What matters at the moment is not exactly what his ukase demands, but that Obama has evaded the federal constitution, thereby exceeding the extent of his authority.
A brief history of Obama’s will to power
From the first, Obama talked like a man with a mission. This newsletter struggled to understand his ideals, motivations, and goals — and could only speculate about a man who appeared to be trying to behave candidly while actually concealing a great deal about himself. Eventually a verdict was in: The One is a Utopian collectivist with bitter anti-colonialist (meaning basically anti-British) sentiments, appalling economic ignorance, a disturbing inability to put events into perspective if they appear to involve racial sensibilities, and a tendency to impatience. He is suspected of anti-Jewish bigotry. He is driven by reformist ideals that lead him to prevaricate when it is convenient, and then deny his ethical lapse.
He is an authoritarian who expects to inspire, and then command.
Three signal events in domestic policy are evidence for that view: first, Obama’s unethical protection of his attorney general, Holder; second, the debacle that was and is Obamacare; and third, the abuse of the Internal Revenue Service as a club with which to beat the Tea Party and its allies. Further, the surveillance-obsessed state that the USA has become both nationally and internationally is a fell threat to personal Liberty, but because it enhances governmental control of the individual, it grows apace. In foreign policy, the Benghazi tragedy and the subsequent appointment of Kerry as secretary of state were indicators of dangerous incompetence. Little is publicly known about current fraught relations with Israel. Finally, Iran’s literally insane path to the Twelvers’ longed-for nuclear Armageddon remains clear, thanks to feckless and cowardly US policy.
In fact Obama would agree that not all his policies have been smoothly realized. In his eagerness to reform just about everything, dispense with the toxic icons of the past, and lead the nation into an ideologically uniform paradise, Obama has encountered frustration. That’s because the USA can’t be fixed.
To elucidate: the United States must be tended, encouraged to evolve under the aegis of its founding principles, and reassured with increasing levels of Liberty. Decent governance both depends on and fosters the common sense of the individual. The authoritarian fantasies of managers, rulers, and enforcers are inimical to the common weal.
For a radical collectivist reformer like Obama, those facts define an intolerable situation.
The enemy of genuine progress in a nation like the USA is the reduction of the number of choices available to the individual. Obama, by contrast, is a man who craves control and knows he must limit choices. For him, a decent government will embrace the people, directing their activities in order to accomplish a fair distribution of the wealth.
That vision demands planning and management, and Obama is prepared to oversee both. He knows what is best, and he’s not above lying in order to impress his point on churlish, balky citizens who reject his seminal Utopian dream.
Remember: Obama is not an admirer of the US federal constitution. For him, it shields the individual from some governmental behaviors that it regards as evil. That means it promotes abstractions that, if realized, can easily obstruct progress. Too, it provides nothing of essential substance, so it is simply “negative”.
First, Obama proclaimed that his ill-begotten universal health insurance would be adjusted, because Congress did not get it right. Once the law was passed, the president began fine-tuning it. That is, after all, the way a Leader behaves: he sets up his new program, and then issues commands that modify it, assigning new responsibilities to the governed.
Second, Obama has told one of the law enforcement arms of the federal government to modify its treatment of a class of individuals. The law as written will not be applied; the new law proceeds from the White House. It will be obeyed.
Obamacare needed tinkering. End of report.
Congress has not acted in obedience to the demands of the White House. Those demands are not requests, suggestions, or pleas for help in drafting legislation: they are demands. Either Congress obeys, or The One Leader will do what is necessary. It cannot be otherwise, for The One Leader is correct.
Obama is acting unconstitutionally
You might recall the book review in Nr. 359 of this newsletter. Professor Hamburger makes a very simple, clear, and verifiable point: Congress has sole legislative authority. That means all federal law is supposed to come from that democratically representative body. No, the executive branch is not entitled or permitted to adjust the law once it has been enacted.
Obama claims he is simply following in the footsteps of multiple presidents, and he is correct. The abuse of presidential power emerged most notably under Woodrow Wilson; the man was an autocrat of unbounded hubris who disgraced himself at the end of World War I by trying to order the European powers to implement his Utopian fantasies. He bequeathed a heritage of prototypical fascism to his nation. For more on Wilson’s corrosively anti-democratic legacy, see Goldberg’s Liberal Fascism, reviewed in Nr. 273 of this newsletter.
Obama has no authority to order law enforcement to operate selectively any more than he has the power to repeal the law. The reason is simple, and no amount of Obamoid babble can obscure it: to prevent a given law from being imposed on a select class of individuals is tantamount to replacing that law with a new and different law. Congress and Congress alone is permitted to do that.
Why does the constitution insist that legislative power is restricted to a single branch of the government? Because Congress is democratically elected, and that means the people are governing themselves. No One Leader is needed; the people are sovereign, and there is no extra- or supra-legal personage, no matter how brilliant or inspired he might be, to dictate to the people. Representative democracy will not be mocked.
The constitution is explicit and unambiguous, even for power-hungry “progressives”: it is strictly forbidden for any person or persons other than Congress to have the power to create law. (Though the concept of judicial review does not appear in the constitution, it does not conflict with that document. Is it not the case that the judicial branch does not repeal unconstitutional laws, but instead declares them unenforceable? Presumably that is not a power that apes the authority of Congress to amend or abolish existing law by legislating anew.)
That is the US system of democratic governance. Obama does not understand its value, and cannot live by its constraints. He believes The One Leader is permitted to act when he is frustrated by the legislative branch. He dreams that he has power above and beyond the constitutionally exclusive power of Congress.
A sophistical rejoinder is possible: some proponents of an “activist” executive might point out that the president is elected by the people, and therefore is a manifestation of the will of the citizenry. That is, of course, why the electoral college exists. Its contemporary critics should ponder that very carefully.
There is more. The law-making authority was to remain solitary, unrivaled, and unshared, as far as the founders of the USA were concerned. If their views are to be set aside, a new constitution would be required, and it would be wise to examine very deliberately the prospect of dividing the legislative power between two potentially competing branches of government. That would require grasping the intent of the framers of the constitution; after all, those men constructed the legislative branch very carefully. Their creation is complex and bristles with multiple hindrances to haste and thoughtless action. No one was more aware than Madison and his colleagues that lethal problems arise when the law-giving power is in few hands.
Of course that truth is reinforced by the hideous polar opposite of a complex legislative body. The claim that the national will can be expressed and imposed by a single individual is the basis of the malignant political doctrine perhaps best exemplified by the Nazi Führerprinzip.
Yes: what Obama tacitly proposes by his arrogant action is the very essence and ethos of one-man dictatorship.
It’s not for nothing that this newsletter has long employed Oprah Winfrey’s sobriquet for Obama: he is indeed The One. He has always planned to be The One.
Does that surprise you?
For US citizens: what you should do
Ponder the wisdom of the current immigration law, and then tell your elected representatives (who include your federal senators) what you hope they will do.
Obama is not now and will never be tolerant of that advice. In the recent US election, the Senate came under the control of the Republicans. That prompted Obama to assume the legislative power and act to nullify the current law. He has demonstrated clearly that he is unwilling to abide by the wishes of the electorate.
Obama styles himself the man who knows best. He assumes that his vision is perfect, and he demands that his ideas be implemented.
If the duly elected representatives of the people — the representatives who have sole legislative authority — are to be relegated to insignificance by the president, then one can only conclude that the secular democratic republic has been overturned. Thus ends — perhaps temporarily — the unique American exercise of democracy.
Everything is up to the Republicans in Congress. This newsletter cannot be optimistic, for those Republicans are a spineless, sappy bunch. Privilege has corroded their wisdom.
The supreme court? Don’t be ridiculous.
Perhaps the nation will have to put up with The One Leader, and hope that he steps down when his term of office is over. If he does not….
Specific Issues Of Immigration Law
Perhaps the links found immediately below will prove helpful to you as you consider what you want Congress to do.
1. Levels of immigration. The link provides a crystal-clear view of the demographic figures. That information is fundamental.
2. One of several humanitarian aspects: the impact of US immigration policy on world poverty.
3. This is a virulently partisan attack on the two sources immediately above. Its emotional and somewhat disorganized nature is not well supported by hard facts, yet it is a necessary opinion in any debate on immigration.
4. Commentary from the Washington Post on immigration, Obama, and the Republicans in Congress. Read with care; it’s artfully crafted by stealthy Obamites.
5. Before Obama acted, the author of this commentary attempted to predict events. Again, caution is advised, for this piece is strongly anti-Obama, and that might affect its portrayal of the facts. The predictions and strategies mentioned here are shaky, and the real issue is only hinted at (which is better than what the WaPo managed to do in its commentary, linked just above).
6. Furious “wingnuts” mock suddenly disobedient lapdogs. Of the six links listed here, this one could be the most consequential and interesting.
Links Courtesy Of The Tramp Abroad
You probably won’t see this cartoon on any of the Saturday morning TV shows, nor will the book be found in the school library. Although…they both should be accessible….
Putin spricht vor dem Deutschen Bundestag, und zwar in deutscher Sprache. The first 2m:30s are in Russian with German subtitles, then he switches to German. (Ed.: Over to you, Barry O.)
A portrait of Vladimir Putin by Hubert Seipel. Herr Seipel apparently has very good access to Mr. Putin, who allowed him to make this film. Although a bit critical, it apparently did not offend Mr. Putin, who did a one-on-one interview with Herr Seipel last Thursday. This is the follow-on interview that Hubert Seipel had with Putin two Thursdays ago in Vladivostok.
The IRS scandal: I did not think they would be able to hide behind this flimsy excuse for very long.
Make yourself a clarinet out of a carrot.
An old-school operation lost in the hullabaloo about the NSA. For sure, more than just “covers” have been copied. To expand on the old adage, “You cannot tell [much] (about) a book by its cover” — you have to read it to get the real meaning.
Bavarians dealing with their xenophobia.
Read “The Climate Scam’s Meltdown” here. Takeaway quotes: “A conspiracy does not require secret planning.” “Think here of how (the website) Wattsupwiththat demolished the charlatan Michael Mann and his infamous hockey stick, and the Climategate emails revealed the lengths professional warmists are prepared to go in order to silence sceptics, not least by debasing the conventions of the peer-review process.” “The core alarmist proponents only comprise a few dozen, mostly third-rate, academics whose scientific reputations are minimal outside of climate alarmism.” It’s the biggest hoax in the history of science.
A hat tip goes to reader JH, who suggests this web page will inspire a smile. He’s right!
In case you missed this shocking discovery: the planet Uranus, which is thirty times farther from the sun than is Earth, has storms that are hot enough to melt steel.
Consistency is the hobgoblin of the AGW cult. It’s called “The LessMore syndrome”.
The Dean suggests that veterans of the US armed forces might benefit from a look at this list. Good idea, and thanks go to this newsletter’s distinguished senior subscriber.
The Dean also suggests that we understand how the US military views global climate change. The linked article is interesting because it makes clear that the Pentagon knows that climate is not static, and does not care what the causes of change are — the fact of change is itself of strategic and tactical interest to the long-term planners. It’s too bad that not everyone is this rational….
What causes earthquakes? Recent research might surprise you.
Regarding police violence: words of wisdom from Joe Rogan and Sam Harris.
Here’s Sam Harris again, this time discussing jihadis, Islamists, and peaceful Muslims.