Category Archive 'The Rule of Law'

13 May 2018

The Death of Obama’s Legacy Proves the System Actually Still Works

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David Harsani observes approvingly.

It’s strange that a president who had such a transformative effect on our national discourse will leave such a negligible policy legacy. But Barack Obama, whose imperial term changed the way Americans interact and in some ways paved the way for the Trump presidency, is now watching his much-celebrated and mythologized two-term legacy be systematically demolished.

This, in many ways, tells us that American governance still works.

When President Trump announced that the United States would withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal, he was able to do so without much difficulty because the agreement hinged on presidential fiat rather than national consensus. Obama’s appeasement of Iran was only one in a string of unilateral norm-busting projects that deserve to be dismantled.

You’ll remember the panic-stricken coverage we endured when the United States withdrew from the faux international Paris climate agreement last year. It’s true that the deal was oversold as a matter of policy, but it was symbolic of how the Obama administration concerned itself more with international consensus than domestic compromise.

We know because the president would never have won ratification for a deal remotely similar to the one he entered — nor did he attempt to. Obama had about as much interest in genuine concession as his political adversaries did.

The defense rested on the idea that the Republican-led Congress had failed to “do its job” and act on issues Democrats had deemed vital. But Congress, of course, “acted” all the time by checking the president’s ambitions. This was not only well within its purview but also in many ways the reason the electorate handed the GOP Congress in the first place.

Even if you substantively supported Obama’s actions, the reasoning that girded these supposedly temporary executive decisions was soon revealed to be abusive. In 2012, Obama told the nation that the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, a stand-in for legislation, was merely a “temporary stopgap measure.” By the time Trump overturned it, the measure represented “who we are as a people.” That’s because by “temporary” Obama always meant “until Democrats can make it permanent through the courts or electoral victories.”

RTWT

29 Oct 2017

Hypocrisy, Thy Name is Andrew

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This week, in his hebdomadal New York magazine piece, Andrew Sullivan was back to pure left-wing democrat partisan flackery. Just one little section, though, I thought, cried out for particular attention, the bit where Andrew sternly rebukes that lawless reprobate Donald Trump:

Almost all our liberal democratic norms and institutions are much weaker today than they were a year ago. Trump has not assaulted the Constitution directly. He has not refused a court order, so far. But he has obstructed justice in his firing of James Comey, and abused the spirit of the pardon power by using it for a public official who violated citizens’ Constitutional rights, before he was even sentenced. In the most worrying case so far, he has refused to enforce the sanctions against Russia that were passed by a veto-proof margin by the Congress. I fear this is because his psyche cannot actually follow the instructions of anyone but himself. This is also why, after failing to repeal, replace or amend Obamacare, he has not faithfully executed the law, but actively sabotaged it. If he does not have his way, he will either sulk and refuse to do his constitutional duty, or he will simply smash whatever institution or law that obstructs his will. At some point, we may come to a more profound test of his ability to operate as just one of three equal branches of government. I think he’ll fail it.

Yes, the forms of the Constitution remain largely intact after nine months. But the norms that make the Constitution work are crumbling. The structure looks the same, but Trump has relentlessly attacked their foundations. Do not therefore keep your eyes on the surface. Put your ear to the ground.

This is pretty rich stuff coming from illegal immigrant Andrew Sullivan who managed to successfully defy for most of two decades the 1987 ban on entry to the United States by HIV-infected persons. Sullivan managed to elude deportation, despite being diagnosed with HIV in 1993 (the same year the ban on immigration was statutorily re-affirmed) using Blat.

Andrew was then editor of The New Republic, a very influential and big deal position, and he was consequently, despite his contagious and potentially fatal, perverse-sex-connected illness, able to swing an indefinitely renewable “O” visa, a special status awarded to an alien “who possesses extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics, or who has a demonstrated record of extraordinary achievement in the motion picture or television industry and has been recognized nationally or internationally for those achievements.”

All our liberal democratic institutions took another very big hit for Andrew in 2009, when the US Attorney working for the Obama Administration declined to pursue a marijuana charge against the British-born journalist because it would have resulted in the (probably permanent) deportation of a prominent commentator passionately devoted to the incumbent administration’s support. So flagrant was the special treatment Andrew Sullivan received that the US Magistrate Judge wrote an 11-page dissenting memorandum protesting what had occurred.

Boston Globe (12 September 2009):

[A] federal judge says Sullivan did not deserve preferential treatment from prosecutors who dropped a marijuana possession charge after the journalist was recently caught smoking a joint on a federally owned beach on Cape Cod.

In a strongly worded memorandum issued Thursday, US Magistrate Judge Robert B. Collings said the decision by Acting US Attorney Michael K. Loucks to dismiss a federal misdemeanor possession charge against Sullivan flouted a “cardinal principle of our legal system’’ – that all persons stand equal before the law.

Three other defendants charged with the same offense had to appear before Collings the same day as Sullivan, the judge noted. But Sullivan’s case was the only one prosecutors did not pursue, out of concern that the $125 fine carried by the relatively minor offense could derail his US immigration application.

“It is quite apparent that Mr. Sullivan is being treated differently from others who have been charged with the same crime in similar circumstances,’’ Collings wrote in the 11-page memorandum, adding that prosecutors’ rationale for the dismissal was inadequate.

Collings added with obvious irritation that he had no power to order prosecutors to pursue the case, and granted their motion to dismiss it. The fact that he did, however, “does not require the Court to believe that the end result is a just one,’’ he wrote.

So, tell us, Andrew, which outrage shakes the foundations of our liberal democratic norms and institutions more violently, the merciful (though obviously partisan) clemency sparing jail time to an 80-something-year-old Sheriff facing a contempt charge from a judicial political adversary (Joe Arpaio) or covert White House intervention to quash a criminal drug possession rap that might deport a useful journalistic ally (you)?


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