PowerLine -> Dreams from Obama – Obama weighs in on DACA, disingenuously

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PowerLine -> Dreams from Obama – Obama weighs in on DACA, disingenuously

Powerline image at HoaxAndChange

Powerline image at HoaxAndChange

Daily Digest


  • Testing the Ratchet Effect
  • Franken opposes, Klobuchar disposes
  • Obama weighs in on DACA, disingenuously
  • Dreams from Obama
  • APSA After-Action Report
Testing the Ratchet Effect

Posted: 05 Sep 2017 04:17 PM PDT

(Steven Hayward)

The “Ratchet Effect” is the well-known theorem that once liberals get a social welfare program in place, it is nearly impossible for a subsequent conservative government to roll it back. Margaret Thatcher did privatize a lot of nationalized industries in Britain, but then socialist or Labour Party governments did the same thing in New Zealand, Australia, and even France back in the 1980s, as the incompetence of government ownership of the means of production was too obvious to be ignored. But not even Thatcher dared attempt to dismantle Britain’s national health service, despite its well-known shortcomings.

In other words, the best conservative governments have been able to do over the decades—sometimes all they aspired to do (see: Eisenhower Administration)—is manage the welfare state more efficiently. The repeal and replacement of AFDC with TANF—the welfare reform of the mid-1990s—is looking more and more like a one-off anomaly.

The failure to repeal and replace Obamacare is a large data point on behalf of the Ratchet Effect. Even though Obamacare is broadly unpopular, it has acquired enough of a constituency, including among insurance companies who have made their peace with it, that it is proving politically difficult to accomplish.

President Trump’s decision to stop the DACA program is another test of the Ratchet Effect. President Obama’s own people understood that DACA was legally shaky, but went ahead on the view that once DACA was set in motion, a future administration would be hard pressed to end it. Only someone as bold as Trump would take today’s step: can anyone imagine President Jeb Bush or President Rubio doing this? Of course not. The uproar today about Trump’s decision to return to the legal status quo ante shows how well this game of the left works.

Congress may step in and pass some kind of compromise on DACA that will leave everyone unhappy. (NB: One of the surprises of the APSA over the weekend was the number of times I heard the Senate’s terrible “Gang of Eight” immigration bill from 2013 described as a “fascist” bill because it didn’t result in open borders. That’s how far gone the left is on this subject. Hence, any bill Congress passes on the issue of children brought here by their parents will be bitterly attacked by the left.) But this will be a positive step, as one of the great questions of the Trump presidency is whether it will cause a return to old-fashioned congressional lawmaking, instead of relying more and more on the abuse of executive power. Even if you are pro-immigration, what Trump is doing here is all for the good.

  

Franken opposes, Klobuchar disposes

Posted: 05 Sep 2017 03:12 PM PDT

(Scott Johnson)

This past Thursday the SEIU, the NEA, the NAACP and other left-wing interest groups promulgated a joint letter opposing the nomination of Minnesota Supreme Court Justice David Stras by President Trump to fill a seat on the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals. I read the joint letter as an echo of Franken’s comments on the nomination as well as a cue to Franken to oppose Stras. Today Senator Franken duly announced he would withhold his blue slip with the intent of blocking the Senate’s consideration of Justice Stras. Following his announcement, Senator Amy Klobuchar — who had maintained radio silence — announced that Stras was okay with her; at least he deserves a hearing. Keeping up the appearance of bipartisanship, Klobuchar slithers like a snake.

The Star Tribune has carried essentially no news on the Stras nomination since the day he was named by President Trump. Yet the machinations by Franken and Klobuchar in connection with the nomination have been varied and many. We have done our best to keep up with them on Power Line despite Senator Klobuchar’s persistent refusal to respond to our requests for comment. She’s been busy slithering.

The Star Tribune covers developments today in a story by Jennifer Brooks here. Brooks goes so far as to observe that President Trump may move on to appoint a lawyer who comes from a state other than one represented by Minnesota’s Klowns. As for the blue slips, the ball is in Senator Grassley’s court.

Developing….

  

Obama weighs in on DACA, disingenuously

Posted: 05 Sep 2017 02:09 PM PDT

(Paul Mirengoff)

Former President Obama takes to Facebook to attack President Trump’s decision to phase out DACA. As one would expect, Obama’s piece is a masterpiece of misdirection.

Scott has posted the full text of Obama’s statement. As Scott says, the former president indulges in his favorite pastimes: question begging, condescension, and attempting to make his opponents out to be indecent, immoral and stupid.

I found this passage from Obama’s statement telling:

Over the years, politicians of both parties have worked together to write legislation that would have told these young people – our young people – that if your parents brought you here as a child, if you’ve been here a certain number of years, and if you’re willing to go to college or serve in our military, then you’ll get a chance to stay and earn your citizenship. And for years while I was President, I asked Congress to send me such a bill.

That bill never came. And because it made no sense to expel talented, driven, patriotic young people from the only country they know solely because of the actions of their parents, my administration acted to lift the shadow of deportation from these young people. . . .

But if deporting these illegal immigrants made no sense, and indeed is contrary to “basic decency” (as Obama says later), why did he ask Congress for a bill to end the deportations? Why didn’t he order the DACA amnesty straight away? If he feared that a future president would revoke the order, he could have sought congressional approval later.

Obama went to Congress because he recognized that only Congress has the power to enact such a change. As Obama himself once said in this context, he was not a king.

When Obama decided, in effect, to play king on this issue, he defended it as an act of “prosecutorial discretion.” If that’s what it was, he never needed to go Congress in the first place.

But prosecutorial discretion is no basis for a de facto grant of amnesty to an entire class of lawbreakers. As Andy McCarthy explains:

In principle, prosecutorial discretion is a resource-allocation doctrine: The assets available for law-enforcement functions are finite, so the executive branch must prioritize — meaning serious violations get the most attention, while comparatively trivial violations often go unaddressed. Nevertheless, the president may not use prosecutorial discretion as a ruse to, in effect, repeal congressional statutes or decree new “laws.”

Obama’s DACA amnesty wasn’t really about using precious assets to prosecute serious violations. It was predicated on the belief that it is immoral to view the “dreamers” as having committed any violation at all.

Obama’s Facebook post makes this clear. He relies on the familiar “who we are as a people” argument. He even uses the phrase.

Appealing to the American creed, he states:

What makes us American is not a question of what we look like, or where our names come from, or the way we pray. What makes us American is our fidelity to a set of ideals – that all of us are created equal; that all of us deserve the chance to make of our lives what we will; that all of us share an obligation to stand up, speak out, and secure our most cherished values for the next generation. That’s how America has traveled this far. That’s how, if we keep at it, we will ultimately reach that more perfect union.

There are at least two problems with this argument. First, it reads out of the American creed one of our most important ideas — Constitutionalism. Obama may not realize it, but respect for our Constitution is a big part of how America “has traveled this far.” We would not have made it as far with a king.

Doing an end-run around the Constitution in the name of “prosecutorial discretion” is not who we are as a people.

Second, if DACA-style amnesty is an essential element of Americanism, surely Congress will enact it. President Trump is giving it the opportunity to do so by delaying full implementation of his order repealing DACA. There is bipartisan support for such amnesty.

Congress is a better guide to who were are as a people than an ex-president whose goal it was fundamental to transform America. If Obama’s worldview were a good indicator, the Democrats would not have suffered a devastating shrinkage of their power, notwithstanding years of economic growth, during his administration.

  

Dreams from Obama

Posted: 05 Sep 2017 01:27 PM PDT

(Scott Johnson)

One of the defining characteristics of President Obama that we disliked most was his disdain for the rule of law. If he could get his way, he might take the prescribed route to his destination. If not, he took a shortcut, with his phone and his pen. He even bragged about it.

Obama’s DACA program — a supposedly temporary stopgap — represents the quintessence of his monarchical disposition. Before he bragged about its virtues, however, he explained many times why he couldn’t do what he subsequently did (video below). As he put it on one such occasion: “The problem is, is I’m the president of the United States, I’m not the emperor of the United States.” Even I could understand that.

Then when it suited his inclinations, he was Emperor of the United States. For the purposes of public appearances, Obama adopted a novel approach. If Congress declined to follow his lead, he would reform the law on his own. Thus DACA (DHS memorandum here, Andrew McCarthy here), when Congress declined to enact the DREAM Act (Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act). Thus the creation of the acronym “DREAMer” or “Dreamer” for the beneficiaries of DACA.

Given the Trump administration’s refusal to bend its knee to DACA, Obama has spoken today. Here is his statement in its entirety:

Immigration can be a controversial topic. We all want safe, secure borders and a dynamic economy, and people of goodwill can have legitimate disagreements about how to fix our immigration system so that everybody plays by the rules.

But that’s not what the action that the White House took today is about. This is about young people who grew up in America – kids who study in our schools, young adults who are starting careers, patriots who pledge allegiance to our flag. These Dreamers are Americans in their hearts, in their minds, in every single way but one: on paper. They were brought to this country by their parents, sometimes even as infants. They may not know a country besides ours. They may not even know a language besides English. They often have no idea they’re undocumented until they apply for a job, or college, or a driver’s license.

Over the years, politicians of both parties have worked together to write legislation that would have told these young people – our young people – that if your parents brought you here as a child, if you’ve been here a certain number of years, and if you’re willing to go to college or serve in our military, then you’ll get a chance to stay and earn your citizenship. And for years while I was President, I asked Congress to send me such a bill.

That bill never came. And because it made no sense to expel talented, driven, patriotic young people from the only country they know solely because of the actions of their parents, my administration acted to lift the shadow of deportation from these young people, so that they could continue to contribute to our communities and our country. We did so based on the well-established legal principle of prosecutorial discretion, deployed by Democratic and Republican presidents alike, because our immigration enforcement agencies have limited resources, and it makes sense to focus those resources on those who come illegally to this country to do us harm. Deportations of criminals went up. Some 800,000 young people stepped forward, met rigorous requirements, and went through background checks. And America grew stronger as a result.

But today, that shadow has been cast over some of our best and brightest young people once again. To target these young people is wrong – because they have done nothing wrong. It is self-defeating – because they want to start new businesses, staff our labs, serve in our military, and otherwise contribute to the country we love. And it is cruel. What if our kid’s science teacher, or our friendly neighbor turns out to be a Dreamer? Where are we supposed to send her? To a country she doesn’t know or remember, with a language she may not even speak?

Let’s be clear: the action taken today isn’t required legally. It’s a political decision, and a moral question. Whatever concerns or complaints Americans may have about immigration in general, we shouldn’t threaten the future of this group of young people who are here through no fault of their own, who pose no threat, who are not taking away anything from the rest of us. They are that pitcher on our kid’s softball team, that first responder who helps out his community after a disaster, that cadet in ROTC who wants nothing more than to wear the uniform of the country that gave him a chance. Kicking them out won’t lower the unemployment rate, or lighten anyone’s taxes, or raise anybody’s wages.

It is precisely because this action is contrary to our spirit, and to common sense, that business leaders, faith leaders, economists, and Americans of all political stripes called on the administration not to do what it did today. And now that the White House has shifted its responsibility for these young people to Congress, it’s up to Members of Congress to protect these young people and our future. I’m heartened by those who’ve suggested that they should. And I join my voice with the majority of Americans who hope they step up and do it with a sense of moral urgency that matches the urgency these young people feel.

Ultimately, this is about basic decency. This is about whether we are a people who kick hopeful young strivers out of America, or whether we treat them the way we’d want our own kids to be treated. It’s about who we are as a people – and who we want to be.

What makes us American is not a question of what we look like, or where our names come from, or the way we pray. What makes us American is our fidelity to a set of ideals – that all of us are created equal; that all of us deserve the chance to make of our lives what we will; that all of us share an obligation to stand up, speak out, and secure our most cherished values for the next generation. That’s how America has traveled this far. That’s how, if we keep at it, we will ultimately reach that more perfect union.

I won’t comment except to note the rhetorical habits from which Obama has not weaned himself. Whatever Obama says immediately following the injunction to “be clear” is clearly false. Obama’s favorite form of argument is begging the question. Obama’s favored tone of voice is condescension. Obama occupies the high ground while he makes out his opponents to be indecent, immoral and stupid.

  

APSA After-Action Report

Posted: 05 Sep 2017 09:46 AM PDT

(Steven Hayward)

I’m still digesting the weekend’s endurance contest better known as the annual meeting of the American Political Science Association. It’s one of those chores I take on so that you don’t have to. A lot of the panels are of course silly, like “Søren Kierkegaard and Political Thought.” Description:

Altogether, in broad strokes, Kierkegaard’s thought saturated the air of the most important moments in twentieth century political thought—interwar Germany, post-WWII France, and the 1960’s Anglophone world—so that his influence pervades the 20th century canon. And yet, he is wholly absent within the discipline of political theory. While Kierkegaard has historically been a significant figure in the history of political thought, with an influence no less than Nietzsche’s, contemporary political theory has left him unstudied.

Count me unpersuaded on the importance of existential slobberings of the great Dane.

Many of the panels were devoted to the general topic that might have gone under the heading, “What the hell happened”? Lots and lots of panels about how Trump won and why, and why political scientists missed it. There were a few signs of admirable humility. Paul Pierson, one of the smarter liberals at U.C. Berkeley, admitted, “No Americanist political scientist should be in the business of prognostication at this point.”

I looked but didn’t see any panels on the equally germane question: why was Hillary’s campaign so bad? More particularly, how did she spend over $1 billion? We know her campaign had fewer field offices than Obama’s 2012 campaign, so just where did all that money go?

I did hear some supposedly well-placed rumors that Hillary’s forthcoming book, What Happened?, is going to blow up the Democratic Party because she’s going to blame Bernie, the DNC, and lots of other people for her loss. Already a few passages are leaking out (along with a number of phony ones that are sure to be metaphysically accurate). Pass the popcorn.

But there were many more panels devoted simply to the ideological partisan imperative of deploring Trump and Republicans generally. Like “Disavowing Violence: Imperial Entitlements, From Burke to Trump (Fuck That Guy)” and “White Genocide is Gonna Get Your Mama!” And if these panels belie the premise of detachment you expect from “scientists” of any discipline, there were many more panels that were open about activism and “resistance,” such as “Activist, Teacher, Scholar: Transformative Practice in the Era of Trump.”

One of my favorites was a panel that inadvertently reveals the deep confusion the left has imposed on itself with its identity fixation: “Let’s Talk about Sex (and Gender and Sexuality): Teaching Identities.” Drink in this description slowly (though if you need to add tonic that’s okay):

Despite their best intentions, many political scientists are uncertain about how to address sex, gender and sexuality in the classroom. This presents two challenges that will be addressed in this roundtable discussion. First, it is incumbent upon faculty to make gender a legible identity in the classroom, and to create an atmosphere that is inclusive of students who are genderfluid, transgender, or gender nonconforming. As such, the roundtable discussion will review and engage proper terms and evolving concepts of gender and sexuality as well as introduce strategies for recognizing individual identities (e.g. asking one’s preferred pronouns) in the classroom. Second, while courses on gender and politics have long been staples of many political science programs and courses on LGBTQ politics have proliferated in recent years, teaching gender as distinct from sex and sexual orientation and doing so in a way that that acknowledges the complexity of gender identity – including its social and legal construction, fluidity and intersectional components – requires a meaningful and substantive commitment by faculty. To that end, the roundtable participants will discuss how to incorporate the politics of gender into existing syllabi and texts and creating new courses and syllabi as well as strategies for teaching gender and sexuality in the current political environment.

Translation: This is the latest on how to keep up with all the new and changing terms, and woe unto anyone who doesn’t get it right!

I decided to attend the panel on “Race, Gender, Sexuality, & the Politics of Legitimacy: 8 Months in Trumplandia,” in part because I wondered what had happened to class, which used to be central in the holy trinity of identity politics. Apparently, class is being slowly phased out because it may refer to white working-class voters who vote the wrong way. One panelist said that the most egregious outcome of the 2016 election was the “privileging of the narrative of white males in the upper midwest states.” I gather that whiteness is now so blindingly bright that leftist thinkers can’t take account of the fact that white working-class voters in the Midwest are the key swing vote in national elections, and that as such any practical political party might want to think about how to appeal to them. But who needs to be analytical when you have pure justice on your side.

It was a very revealing window onto the confusions and contradictions of the left in the Age of Trump. The panel couldn’t decide whether “identity politics” was a real thing—one panelist suggested that the phrase itself was like “political correctness,” a term of the right at attack the left—or whether to double down on the idea. Another panelist said that Tim Kaine was part of Hillary’s problem, that because Democrats rely on a large vote from minority voters Hillary shouldn’t have picked Kaine. More: “The Democratic ticket in 2020 cannot be two white men!” Okay, good to know.

One of my favorite questions during the all-too-brief time left for questions was the person who noted that the idea of “democratic norms” was part of the oppressive structure of our system, but suddenly we’re appealing to “democratic norms” as a mechanism to constrain Trump. What’s a confused leftist to do in this circumstance? The panel ignored this question entirely.

One other thing: they really hate Mark Lilla, for his heresy of dissing identity politics. I mentioned here a couple weeks ago that I was looking forward to watching the left have a cow over Lilla’s book, and I was not disappointed. Lilla’s name came up several times unbidden by anyone, and he was described in terms that you’d think would be reserved only for Steve Bannon. Which makes me wonder if these folks aren’t secretly on the payroll of the Trump 2020 campaign.

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