The Court, Arizona, & the Constitution: The Obama Response

The Supreme Court yesterday, in a much-anticipated ruling, upheld the central feature of the Arizona illegal immigration law that has been the center of controversy for the last few years. Yes, the Court did strike down other features of the law, but they were minor in comparison to the provision that allows police to check the immigration status of citizens who happen to be stopped under suspicion of breaking a law. Although the Obama administration, spearheaded by Eric Holder of the Department of Justice [it still has the name, but not the substance of the name] has branded the law racist, the phoniness of that charge was laid bare in this decision. Why? The Court ruled unanimously in favor of that so-called controversial provision—both liberals and conservatives on the Court declared it valid, which, in a sane world, would put to rest the idea that racism was behind the law.

In my view, the entire law should have been upheld, and Justice Scalia wrote a stinging dissent making that very point. He stated that the law didn’t create anything new, but simply mirrored federal laws that were not being carried out by the federal government, thereby forcing the state of Arizona to try to make up the difference. States have a right to defend themselves. The three most conservative justices all agreed on this.

So what did the Obama administration do immediately upon hearing of the Court’s decision? The Department of Homeland Security [another agency that is quickly becoming an oxymoron] suspended its cooperative agreement with Arizona for border security. In effect, it has said the state is now on its own in protecting its borders and dealing with illegal immigration. Further, it has published a phone number for Arizona citizens to call to report on police attempting to do their duty. Obama and his people have decided that Arizona is the criminal and must be punished. The federal government will do even less of its job in the future. It will refuse to execute the law of the land.

This is almost breathtaking, if you really stop to consider what’s happening at the highest levels of our government. In a series of actions and/or inactions, the president has trampled the entire concept of separation of powers and has taken it upon himself to be the government, purposely ignoring the constitutional limitations of his office and relegating the legislative and judicial branches to irrelevance. Here are examples of what he has done lately:

  • He has adamantly refused to enforce the Defense of Marriage Act, duly passed by Congress, and has declared his approval of same-sex marriage.
  • He has unilaterally suspended the rules on how to handle illegal immigrants aged 16-30 and substituted his own agenda, again without any congressional act to authorize it.
  • He has misused the right of executive privilege to shield himself and his attorney general from potentially embarrassing information in documents needed by a congressional committee investigating Fast and Furious.
  • Fast and Furious itself was an out-of-control operation by the Justice Department that led to hundreds of deaths with guns deliberately passed to organized crime in Mexico.
  • Now, with the denial of help for Arizona in policing illegal immigration, the president once again has violated his own oath of office, which says that he pledges to uphold, protect, and defend the Constitution and the laws passed under its authority.

And it’s all politics. Hispanics, on the whole, seem to be in favor of his “new” rules for illegal immigrants, despite the damage this does to the rule of law. He has solidified their votes for November. His “evolving” view on same-sex marriage mollified a segment of society that has money to burn in the upcoming election. He now has greater access to those funds.

With this man, everything is political. But why should anyone be surprised? He was weaned on corrupt Chicago politics. He never was a genuine hope and change kind of guy; it was all political theater that worked amazingly well in the wake of a disillusioned electorate that, without thinking rationally, just wanted to take out its angst on Republicans. Few listened to the voices that were warning of the true nature of the candidate. I only hope eyes have now been opened and ears are more willing to hear.

America doesn’t crown monarchs, and when a president tries to act like one, the voters can let him know they won’t abide such arrogance. At least the voters who aren’t on the public dole won’t abide it. Are there still enough of those to make a difference?

The Fast & Furious Questions Just Won’t Go Away

I was thinking I’d skip writing about Fast and Furious, Eric Holder, contempt of Congress votes, and executive privilege today, but there’s at least one point I didn’t cover last week. And I may need to amend a comment I made about this being policy-oriented and not political in nature. Since the invocation of executive privilege seems to be inappropriate in this type of situation, it’s quite possible there’s a rather embarrassing revelation that could come from inspecting the documents. We’re told they’re not hiding anything, but the argument, in this case, is not very persuasive. It kind of reminds me of someone else in a similar situation:

Speculation has been circulating that the real reason for the operation was to push for stricter gun-control laws. In other words, blame the people who sold the guns rather than the government agents who allowed those guns to get in the hands of drug dealers, etc. What facts might lend themselves to this interpretation? Well, first of all, there was no attempt to trace where these guns were going. If you’re planning a sting operation, shouldn’t you be on top of the path of these weapons? Second, there was no coordination with the Mexican government. Apparently, they didn’t even know this was going on. When you take all of this together, it doesn’t look good for Holder or his boss.

On other matters, this administration has boasted of its secrets when it shouldn’t have said anything. Now we see just the opposite. Again, it makes one wonder why:

The Democrats are circling the wagons in the same way they did with Bill Clinton when he faced impeachment. But there are some cracks in the solid wall. A number of high-profile Democrats, including the governor and a senator from West Virginia, have decided not to attend the Democrat convention. They don’t want to be identified with a president who is not popular in their state. The rest of the Democrat party will try to say this is all a Republican political maneuver, but they are ignoring one salient fact:

As I said last week, and will repeat again, this is much worse than Watergate. If the media had any semblance of integrity, this could lead to the resignation of the attorney general and could possibly bring down a presidency. The big difference: they hated Nixon; they love Obama.

Worse Than Watergate

The Fast and Furious scandal has many commentators comparing it with Watergate. Might I point out some major differences between the two? First, Watergate was not policy-oriented; it was a political scandal entirely. It was basically a botched burglary at the Democrat National Headquarters in Washington, DC. Some of President Nixon’s supporters, without his knowledge or approval, decided to break into the HQ to steal documents. As I’ve often told students, it was wrong to do so, but in addition, it was one of the dumbest moves any campaign ever made. The Democrat nominee that year, George McGovern, had no better chance of defeating Nixon than I would have trying to dunk a basketball over Lebron James.

When the aspiring burglars were caught in the act, they had achieved nothing—there were no stolen documents. That’s all this event would have been had Nixon not made matters worse by attempting to shield his offending supporters from the consequences of their foolishness. This turned into a coverup of the illegal activities carried out by others. For this, he was brought down, and deservedly so.

One caveat to the aura of Nixonian corruption: prior to Watergate, Nixon had never done anything remotely illegal. In fact, as a first-term congressman back in 1948, his doggedness in pursuing the truth in the Chambers-Hiss case was essential to the eventual prison sentence for Hiss as an underground communist agent seeking to influence American government policies. Then, in 1960, when he “lost” the presidential election to Kennedy, he had every reason to believe the result was fraudulent. Dead people in Texas and Chicago apparently found their way to the polls that year. If Nixon had won those states—and he lost both by extremely slim margins—he, not Kennedy, would have been elected. Yet he chose not to press the case; he was concerned for what a long, drawn-out recount would do to the country. Watergate was an unfortunate ending to a career that previously had some high points.

Now let’s switch to Fast and Furious, which, at least at its inception, was not political, but a policy. The supposed goal was to track where guns went, but those in charge allowed these guns to land in the hands of drug dealers and other criminals who, in turn, used them to kill many of their Mexican countrymen and at least one U.S. border guard, Brian Terry. This was miscalculation and stupidity on a grand scale. It was far more than a botched burglary; this time lives were lost. Any comparison of Watergate with Fast and Furious must begin with that essential difference, a difference that makes the latter a greater scandal than the former.

Add to that the lying and stonewalling by the attorney general, Eric Holder, and the invoking of executive privilege by his boss, the president, to avoid releasing documents that would shed light on who was responsible for this warped idea, and you have something that makes Watergate pale in comparison. If only the mainstream media were honest, they would be digging deep into this and not rest until the truth came out. They will not do so, however, preferring to call it a Republican political ploy in an election year.

Did anyone in the media and the Democrat party ever stop to consider that perhaps the Republicans on the Oversight Committee are pursuing this investigation because they believe wrongs were done and they need to be rectified? No. Everything is political. What’s this outworn concept of right and wrong?

At least some cartoonists are on the job. Here are some prime examples:

 

In a country that had a greater desire for truth and honesty, this would be a front-page and top-of-the-broadcast news item. The networks, though, have been slow to cover it, and are doing so now reluctantly, while offering their own partisan interpretation. Where is Deep Throat when he is really needed?

The two significant developments in the Fast and Furious investigation yesterday were 1) the invocation of executive privilege over the documents subpoenaed from the Justice Department by the House Oversight Committee; and 2) the vote by that committee to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt. It was a busy day for those of us who seek to master the intricacies of constitutional authority. Here’s what I’ve come to after reviewing a number of analyses.

First, executive privilege is only used in matters of national security or dealing with communications between the president and one of the members of his administration. The investigation into Fast and Furious is an attempt to get information from the Department of Justice to figure out who was responsible for this foolish policy of allowing guns to enter Mexico—guns that have led to countless deaths south of our border and the death of one of our own border agents. The Justice Department, while part of the executive branch, is a creation of the Congress. The department is not mentioned in the Constitution; it was created by legislation. If the Congress chose to do so, it could dismantle the department tomorrow. The Justice Department has an obligation to report to Congress and Congress has authority to oversee its actions. That’s all that is taking place in these committee hearings as they try to find the truth behind this failed policy. Yet Holder has stonewalled most requests for documents, and remains adamant even in the face of a rising tide of calls for his resignation.

He has kept Congress at bay for months, sometimes teasing with the promise of information but always drawing back at the last moment. He has proven himself arrogant and untrustworthy.

Second, if Obama is really invoking executive privilege, that invites questions about his involvement in this controversy. After all, if his basis for invoking the privilege is the protection of communication between the office of the president and his subordinates, he must be saying he’s had conversations about this. So now we get back to those age-old questions: what did this president know and when did he know it? Watergate, anyone?

Then there’s the contempt of Congress resolution. It is serious. It hasn’t been carried out often, but penalties do come with it. If the full House, which is planning to vote on it next week, agrees with the committee, Holder could potentially face jail time if he doesn’t cooperate with the investigation. The full House has the authority to call upon the federal judiciary to bring charges against the attorney general. Now, on the practical level, will a Democrat judge, for instance, do this, or will he/she instead follow the expected Obama line that this is a valid use of executive privilege?

Back in 2007, then-senator Barack Obama was quite vocal against President Bush’s use of executive privilege in the matter of dismissing certain attorneys in the Justice Department [a right, by the way, that all presidents have—this was a trumped-up charge with no basis]. At the time, Obama said it was an abuse of power and showed the president had something to hide. Oh, really? Then what does that mean for Mr. Obama now that he is president and is invoking the same privilege? Is this a double standard or is he doing another one of his evolutions in thought?

Unfortunately, most of his evolutions are in the wrong direction. We elected a president who is supposed to be answerable to the people, not a king who is above the law. Given his refusal to enforce the Defense of Marriage Act, his trampling of religious liberty via Obamacare, and his unilateral alteration of illegal immigration policy, we are much closer to a monarch who operates outside the law than we are to a constitutional presidency.

When the Department of Justice Undermines Justice

This has to be the most politically partisan Justice Department in American history. I want to be cautious in making such a bold statement; as a historian, I need to be careful not to exaggerate—there’s a whole lot of history to review. Yet consider the latest moves. In my state of Florida, the governor, Rick Scott, tasked the Florida Secretary of State to clean up the voter rolls to ensure that only American citizens were actually voting in elections. That sounds like common sense, doesn’t it? Only American citizens have that privilege, and if people are voting who should not be, that would be against the law. Also, based on the 2000 election—surely that hasn’t faded from anyone’s memory yet—it’s evident that even 500 invalid voters could determine the next president of the United States.

So what does the Justice Department, under Eric Holder, do? It is suing the state of Florida for moving forward with the effort to guarantee that only real voters are voting. Frankly, this is a stunner. The DOJ tries to justify its action by saying the effort was not approved by the Voting Rights Act. This is ludicrous, and only those who are hopeless Obama partisans can really believe the rationale. The DOJ declares, without proof, that this is discriminatory, aimed at minorities, especially Hispanics, since Florida has a large number of illegal immigrants. It implies that the effort is an attempt to purge the voter rolls of genuine Hispanic citizens who can vote. There is no evidence that this is behind the cleanup process; it’s merely a duty of government to make sure those who are ineligible to vote don’t break the law and unduly influence elections.

What does the DOJ want here? It’s not hard to believe the political appointees at the top, starting with Holder, want to look the other way if illegals vote. They know where those votes will go. To its credit, the government of Florida is now suing the Department of Homeland Security for refusing access to its database of illegals. Governor Scott has declared the cleanup will proceed. He is right to stand up to this obvious political ploy.

This comes on the heels of Holder’s attempt to stop states from requiring a photo ID for voting. Again, the old canard is dragged out to justify it: this is an attempt, they say, to depress minority voting. It’s fascinating where Holder sees discrimination and where he doesn’t. He’s the one who killed the prosecution of Black Panthers who stood outside a polling place in Philadelphia threatening voters. How are we to believe this isn’t political?

It was kind of funny last week when it became known that anyone wanting to meet the First Lady at a book signing had to provide a photo ID to be allowed access. So people need a photo ID for that, but not for voting? In fact, a photo ID is required for lots of things in our society:

It’s time to call their bluff. Florida has chosen to do so. More power to Governor Scott and his administration for standing up to federal bullies who misuse the authority of their offices for partisan purposes.

The Obama Woes

President Obama’s press conference last week didn’t go as well as he had hoped. When asked about the economy, he stated, “the private sector is doing fine.” That brought such a barrage of incredulity that he had to go before the cameras once more and walk back those remarks. But the damage was done. The Romney campaign already has an ad running touting how out of touch the president is. The ad is accurate.

Yet there was another part of his statement that was even more revealing than his knowledge deficit on the status of the private sector. He remarked that the “real” problem we face is the loss of jobs in state and local governments. That, he believes, is the true indicator of our economic woes. In other words, cutting back on government spending is the culprit. If only governments at all levels would spend more, this economy would be booming. You know, like it did after his stimulus package. Right.

These comments showcase the Obama worldview: it’s a world where government is the engine for prosperity, not private business. Only more government spending and more government control over the choices of individuals, families, churches, and businesses will create the type of society where all are happy.

Well, he’s had three years to test that hypothesis. His administration touted the summer of 2010 as “Recovery Summer.” Does anyone recall that recovery? Where do we stand this summer?

Recovery Summer III is a sequel that has lost its glitter.

That press conference was only the last of a series of awful events for this White House in the past few weeks. Here’s a short list of what has gone wrong for the Obama team:

  • Key Democrats have criticized the Obama campaign’s attacks on Bain Capital, Romney’s old firm. Newark, New Jersey, mayor Cory Booker called the attacks “nauseating.” He’s no longer on the president’s short list for a cabinet post. Bill Clinton keeps going rogue as well, first saying that Romney did a fine job at Bain, then advocating the extension of the Bush tax cuts for everyone, even the wealthy. He was called to task on that last one and did his own walkback. Some are seriously wondering if he’s secretly hoping to torpedo Obama’s reelection. They’ve never been the best of friends.
  • The jobs report a week and a half ago was dismal. Even with more people dropping out of the workforce, the unemployment rate still went up.
  • National security leaks have outraged both Republicans and Democrats in the Congress. Some of these leaks could only have come from individuals in the inner circle of the White House due to the nature of the knowledge leaked. Accusations that the Obama campaign is orchestrating the leaks to bolster Obama’s “tough guy” image are increasing.
  • Scott Walker’s solid victory in the Wisconsin recall election does not bode well for Obama either. It means Wisconsin is probably in play for the Republicans. Obama studiously avoided being seen or heard anywhere near Wisconsin in the days leading up to the election. He knew defeat was looming.
  • Attorney General Eric Holder is on the edge of receiving a contempt of Congress slap in the face for his continued stonewalling on the Fast and Furious investigation. Holder’s arrogance and stubbornness mirror that of his boss.

But of course we know none of this is Obama’s fault. How do we know? He has said so repeatedly. When his portrait is eventually placed in the White House next to George Bush’s [sooner rather than later, one hopes], I think it may be one of the most original of all the portraits:

Going Backwards on Discrimination

The Trayvon Martin/George Zimmerman case has put racism back on the front page again, at least in the minds of some. One can argue, however, that it has never left the front page with the current administration. The Eric Holder Justice Department is setting a record of sorts by challenging a number of commonsense laws, from photo IDs for voting to Arizona’s attempt to stem the tide of illegal immigration. Yet it dropped a case of voter intimidation by the Black Panthers. Sources within the department say race is the determining factor for much of what goes on there.

I thought the election of a black president was supposed to lead us into a paradise of racial harmony. Well, not if you bring an aggrieved attitude with you into the office. All you do is fan those racial flames. I think we’re actually in worse shape with respect to race relations now than we were before Obama entered the scene. Charges of racism fill the air:

It’s not just a black/white thing, either. In what passes for higher education in our country, we see a strange sort of discrimination at work:

And if you’re a conservative who wants to be a professor at one of our institutions of higher learning, you may be in for a rough ride, as shown by an incident that has made the news lately. Discrimination comes in all forms when progressives are in control:

I write about double standards quite often. They are one of my pet peeves. Of course, they go far beyond peevishness; they are pernicious to the spiritual health of a nation. As long as sin abounds, they will exist; but we can temper their influence by insisting on judging people righteously, according to their character. I seem to remember someone who once said he had hope for a day when character, not the color of one’s skin, would be the determining factor for one’s worth. We’re going backwards.