Respect and Mushrooms

Well, that’s nice, I guess. I’m glad he cleared that up. Personally, I thought respect was defined much as Oxford says,:

A feeling of deep admiration for someone or something elicited by their abilities, qualities, or achievements:

And by that standard I think he might have misapprehended the world’s reaction, indeed, he might even be deluded. For me, at least this about sums it up

Or maybe the White House Chef really does have a stash of magic mushrooms.



This Parallel Between LBJs And Obamas War Plans Will Terrify You

This is more than a bit worrying. Johnson did an outstanding job of messing up the war effort by his ridiculous micro-management. But one has to admit that he did pay attention. With Obama we’re likely to have the spectacle of micromanagement without supervision. Worse, unimaginably worse in every way.

From the Federalist.

Here’s where it gets spooky. Compare that paragraph to the following quote from the book “American Generalship: Character Is Everything: The Art of Command.” In it, the author recounts a passage from Gen. William Westmoreland’s memoirs about how political interference from a know-it-all president severely hampered the American campaign in Vietnam. The parallels are terrifying:

Westmoreland LBJ Outhouse

Via This Parallel Between LBJs And Obamas War Plans Will Terrify You.

The King’s Prerogative

English: President Barack Obama's signature on...

English: President Barack Obama’s signature on the health insurance reform bill at the White House, March 23, 2010. The President signed the bill with 22 different pens. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

We have talked several times about the rise of administrative law and it’s almost exact similarity with the King’s Prerogative. You can find those articles here, here, here, and one here at Jess’, nearly all of those articles also have links, if you’re interested.

Today we are going to speak of how the Obama administration and its Democratic sycophants are defending it. In the Affordable Care Act (ACA, Obamacare, and other less complimentary names), it states clearly and unequivocally, that to receive a subsidy one must purchase through an exchange established by a State.

In fact that was one of the major inducements included to try to force the states to establish exchanges. A majority of the states, being more attuned to the people than Washington is, refused. And the matter came to the DC court last week, which ruled that the words meant what the words said. That was what the Democrats had campaigned on back in the effort to pass the law, but now, they find it most inconvenient, since it means that many Americans will have to pay the full price of the overpriced, not very good insurance available on the exchanges.

So now, not understanding apparently, that we were listening (and that You-Tube exists) they are now saying that what they meant was an exchange established by a state or by the administrative bureaucracy of the federal government. Most of the administration, legislature and judicial officials owing loyalty to the Democratic party are supporting this nonsense, and some courts will no doubt rule accordingly. And so we are likely to end up at the Supreme Court again.

On Sunday Angelo M Codevilla wrote on the Library of Law and Liberty on this. Here is a bit of it.

[…]America has moved away from the rule of law in recent decades, as more and more of the decisions by which we must live are made by administrative agencies in consultation with their favorite constituencies and judges rather than by the people’s elected representatives. More and more, statutes passed by Congress are lengthy grants of power to administrative agencies, the content of which is determined by complex interactions between bureaucrats, special interests, and judges aligned with either. Hence House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi’s famous statement—that the ACA’s meaning would be determined only after its passage—was true of it and most other modern legislation as well. This is the rule of men, not of law.

But the transition away from the rule of law has been masked by the (ever thinner) fiction that the administrators are merely filling in the interstices of laws. Were they to prevail, the administration’s arguments for casting aside the ACA’s explicit provision because it conflicts with its will and its clients’ convenience would mark the dropping of the mask. America’s transition from the rule of law to the rule of the sovereign, largely accomplished some time ago de facto,would now be fulfilled de jure. Openly, this President and his partisans would have trumped law by will. Thereafter, continuing to pretend that America lives by law would be a mockery.

The importance of this is difficult to exaggerate. The nation’s slide into something foreign to its past would accelerate.

Barack Obama is not the last President America will ever have. Sooner or later, someone will come into the presidency representing a majority of Americans who—rightly or wrongly—may be aggrieved by what they feel are measures that the previous administration and its partners have shoved down their throats. They may be eager to engage in retaliatory activity with lots of compound interest. The administrative machinery, the legal arguments, and the political precedents would be ready for them.[…]

You really need to read it all

This morning Robert Tracinski also wrote on The Federalist on this. He shows that this type of legislating is what we increasingly do. Here’s a bit of that:

[…]But the big question is: why do they think they can get away with this? Why do they think they can write something into the law, go around for a couple of years explaining that provision to audiences, and then pretend later that it wasn’t there at all and it’s patently ridiculous for anyone to think it ever was?

Partly this a measure of crass partisanship, and partly it’s a measure of desperation. Without the subsidies, what happens to ObamaCare? And without ObamaCare, what does their messiah have to show for his presidency?

But this also fits into a larger context. They think they can get away with rewriting the law on the fly because of the way we legislate now. For more than a century, it has become increasingly common for Congress to write laws that declare a broad, vague goal without clearly defining the specifics of its implementation—and then leave it to bureaucrats in federal agencies to fill in the blanks.[…]

Again, you should read his entire article

But the main takeaways here are that the legislative authority in our system is vested in the Congress, and only the Congress. One of the results of this mispractice is that Congress can evade their responsibility for what the legislation says, and simply blame HHS or EPA or whatever bureaucracy is concerned. That is not what the Founder’s intended. The bureaucracy (and the executive generally) were established to enforce the laws the Congress passed, essentially without comment, although it wouldn’t do any harm if the Legislative and Executive branches were to occasionally remember that they also have sworn to uphold the Constitution.

In truth this practice is not measurably different that The Statute of Proclamations (1539) that allowed Henry VIII to rule as a despot. This allowed the King to issue proclamations which had the force of an Act of Parliament.This essentially did away with the need for Parliament. And that is pretty much what we are seeing with Obama’s reliance on his “pen and a phone”. I should note that very soon after Henry’s death that Act of Proclamations was repealed, although all the way to 1689 English Monarchs kept trying personal rule under various guises.

This was one of the abuses that the Constitution was specifically written to prohibit. We’ve let it sneak back in, in the guise of administrative law.

Nothing new under the sun is there?


The Power of the Purse

us-uk_flag_408x212 (1)We’ve been hearing quite a lot out of Washington about the power of the purse, haven’t we? We’ve also been hearing about how the Republican only have one half of one-third of the government. I’m so tired of their whining I could spit. Why? That 1/3 of 1/2 is arguably the most important thing in keeping a free people free. Quite a few people quite literally died to give them that power of the purse, that they like to claim is so useless. What am I talking about?

This. The sole right to write revenue bills, which the Constitution gives to the House of Representatives, was inherited from the House of Commons. This right is the one that brought King John to sign Magna Charta, which is where Parliament derives the right. The exercise of this right by the Commons was one of the main causes of The English Civil War which eventually cost Charles I his head. Parliamentary supremacy in the UK can be dated from 2 July 1644, when Prince Rupert overreached and lost the North for Charles, thus paving the way for Cromwell. And when it became time to restore the monarchy, it could not be done until parliament was reconstituted. Over the centuries that power was vested in the House of Commons, and that fact is why Great Britain is governed by the Executive in Parliament.

Our founders chose to organize the government slightly different but, the purse held by the House of Representatives, is the same one that Parliament used to Break King John, to kill King Charles I, and to replace James II with William and Mary, with the English Bill of Rights making the monarchy expressly at the pleasure of the commons.

This is the power that Boehner finds so useless in attempting to curb a wannabe king in the White House. I submit the power is plenty although the arm that wields it may be lacking  Somehow I don’t see the strength of the great parliamentarians of Britain (or America) when I look at the Speaker.

And make no mistake, it is exactly the same battle. Over at Power Line, Professor Hamburger started a series yesterday, on his book on Administrative Law, you need to be reading this series, in the opening he has shown already, how Administrative Law is nothing more or less than the return of absolute power. The power of the executive to act on his own,

Here’s a bit:

In reality, administrative power has a much older and darker history. Far from a novel and modern response to modernity, it revives what used to be called prerogative or absolute power. Put more concretely, it revives extralegal power. It thus is exactly what constitutional law developed in order to prohibit.

Up through the seventeenth century, English kings repeatedly sought to govern their subjects through extralegal edicts. As early as the Middle Ages, English kings were expected to rule through the law–through acts of Parliament and through the acts of the law courts. Far from rejecting rule through the law, monarchs generally liked the legitimacy of this regular mode of governance.

At the same time, however, kings often had difficulty securing the statutes they wanted from Parliament. They therefore often sought to rule not through law, but extralegally, through binding proclamations, regulations, or decrees. They also frequently attempted to adjudicate not through the law courts, but through prerogative tribunals, such as the king’s council, the Star Chamber, and various commissions.

This power exercised not through law, but through other edicts, lacked the legitimacy of law, and kings and their lawyers therefore defended it as an alternative mode of governance. In particular, they increasingly justified it as a prerogative or absolute power. Of course, this extralegal power was the personal power of a king, not the bureaucratic power of a state, and it therefore was not yet administrative, but otherwise this prerogative power was little different from contemporary administrative power.


And so we see that John Boehner find a power that was forged by dint of blood and war over the centuries from the Kings of England, is not enough power for him to stop a two-bit agitator from Chicago. Personally, I don’t think the power is the problem, I think the problem is with the arm that wields the power.

But that’s just me, of course.

But perhaps the barons at Runnymede, and the Parliamentary Army at Marston Moor 370 years ago yesterday, and the delegates at Philadelphia 238 years ago were wrong, and Kings John, Charles I, and George III were right?

I really don’t think so, I just think they were opposed by better men.

Boko Haram: the Illusion of Clean Hands, and the End of Americans in Space

MichelleObamaBringBackOurGirlsThis is an outstanding article and it links through to more outstanding articles. I heartily recommend them all, I wish I was a good enough thinker and/or writer to produce these. Anyway, see you on the other side.

Grim has an interesting post up on the much ballyhoo’d photo of the First Lady’s recent foray into hashtag diplomacy. In it, he responds to a piece by Mark Steyn pointing out the yawning gap between political rhetoric and policy:

Contempt may well be warranted, but not for the failure to deploy special operators into this.

…You can’t drop a SEAL team if you don’t know where to drop them, and we most likely don’t have any idea. That’s not contemptible. It’s a fact of the art of war.

The right reason to feel contempt is at the posture, which makes our nation look weak and helpless. We probably can’t rescue these girls in a Hollywood-style raid, but we could wipe this group off the face of the earth in a few hours if we were willing to kill a lot of innocent people too. We could wipe them out in weeks, with less danger to innocents, if we were willing to deploy the 1st Cavalry Division for that purpose with a very loose set of ROE.

If we don’t do those things, it’s because we are choosing not to do them. It won’t do for the White House to beg, plead, or scold, or make sad faces in front of a camera.

Take responsibility for your choice.

via Villainous Company: Boko Haram and the Illusion of Clean Hands.

And that is what I find so contemptible about this whole hashtag thing. Grim is right, when done by Hollywood celebrities and average people it can be considered almost a form of “speaking truth to power” and in that sense, is good.

But when Michelle Obama and even more David Cameron stand there looking sappy with their signs. Just who in the hell do they think the are trying to persuade? They are “The Man”, although I suspect they are reluctant to admit it to themselves, it implies that they are responsible for many things, and they don’t want that to be true. But it is true, Elections have consequences. Now it up to the two of you, largely whether 276 Nigerian Christian teenage girls will live in freedom, live in slavery, or die. You, Barack, you wanted the job, you got it, you get the responsibility. Just like you are responsible for every person who dies because of Obamacare. Your policies, in great part, emboldened Boko Haram to commit this outrage. You, Obama, no one else, you are the captain of the ship, you bear responsibility.

th (1)The same is true for poor David Cameron, only more so. In a very real sense these are his girls, they are Nigerians and thus in a sense British, just like the Falklanders that Maggie restored to freedom all those years ago. Just like those Pakistanis that whole British and American armies fought to free from Imperial Japan.

Those who seek and find great prestige, always find that it comes with great responsibility. If you shirk the responsibility, you will find the prestige, and your honor as well, has left with it. And so has whatever share of manhood you had. Sad, really, for our so-called leaders. Sadder for us who are being so poorly led. Saddest of all for those girls in the Niger, and their dead brothers whom we have ignored. When great powers are led by small men, there is little protection for any of us, and soon they shall no longer be great powers either.

In other news, because of our intrepid stand in the Ukraine, Russia has announce that we will no longer be welcome in the (approximately 85% American built) International Space Station., Nor will they ferry our astronauts, after 2020. And they will quit selling us the rocket engines that we use to launch military satellites.

Soft power, it’s what for dinner.

Remember this.

Yeah, enjoy. That America died a few years ago, about 2008, if I recall. But we’ll be fine as long as China keeps selling us electronics for our defense department.

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Apathy in the Executive

English: Lech Walesa in 2009.

English: Lech Walesa in 2009. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In the last few years, I’ve said some fairly harsh things about Peggy Noonan. Part of that is because I expect a lot from her. Anybody who could have written Reagan’s Pointe du Hoc speech for the 40th Anniversary of D-Day; knows enough not to be taken in by the Cult of Obama™. And in truth, when she gets out of Manhattan, and brings her A game, there are few better. Apparently she went to the canonization the other day, and this was the result.


Friends and I kept seeing groups of Poles who’d taken planes or 20-hour bus rides to be here for the canonization of John Paul II. They did not look wealthy. A lot of them wouldn’t have had tickets to the big Mass because the Vatican kept saying there were no tickets. (In fact there were, and they were thoughtfully color-coded.) A lot of them knew they’d spend a rainy night on the floor of a church or, some of them, wrapped in plastic parkas as they slept on the street on yoga mats they carried on their backpacks. Many would watch the proceedings on a Jumbotron in a piazza far from St. Peter’s. They didn’t care. They came anyway because they loved him. He was enmeshed in their lives, and whether they’d known him or not they felt enmeshed in his. Lech Walesa, at an American reception, seemed to speak for them when I asked how he felt to see his old friend elevated. “I feel I will have a friend in Heaven to greet me if I get there,” he said.

In the days before and after the canonization, I couldn’t help reflect on what a leader is, and how it is that great leaders engender gratitude, loyalty and love.

You have to stand for something. You have to suffer for it. (John Paul was shot and almost killed, and he spent the last third of his pontificate in constant physical distress. He kept showing up anyway.) You have to be brave. (He wasn’t afraid of any earthly power, not even the Soviet Union.) You have to stand by your beliefs as long as you know they are right; you have to speak and write the truth. […]

She’s obviously right, and she should know better than most, after all she spent the Reagan years in the White House, and did a good job of capturing Reagan in her speechwriting. There’s considerable more there that you should read. And there is this further down in the column.

To be in Europe is to realize, again and at first hand, that America has experienced a status shift. Europeans know we are powerful—we have the most drones and bombs and magic robot soldiers—but they don’t think we are strong. They’ve seen our culture; we exported it. The Internet destroyed our ability to keep under wraps, at least for a while, our embarrassments. People everywhere read of our daily crimes and governmental scandals. The people of old Europe thought we were great not only because we were wealthy but because we were good. We don’t seem so good now. And they know we’re not as wealthy as we were.

via Apathy in the Executive –

And you know, I suspect she is exactly right here. We’ve never been exactly shy about putting our troubles right in the show window. A Canadian commentator during the Watergate mess, many years ago commented on that tendency of ours. If you’re my age, you probably remember it, it was widely republished here. If not, here it is.

And you know, he proved pretty much correct, but we didn’t really get back on track till the ’80s. Now, we publicize our problems even more, not least because of the internet, which makes us look even worse, but if we work through it, it can make the recovery even swifter, than it was then.

But you know, as do I, that our problems this time are not external, they are internal. Are we still the traditional free American, or have we turned into a bunch of statists no different from our European cousins. You know the ones, those who didn’t have the drive our ancestors did for a better life and for freedom. Like so many things, time will tell.

But I have to tell you, I’m far less confident in my countrymen than I was in the ’70s.  Then I had no doubt that we would come roaring back, now I find myself doubting it, and strongly too.

If that is so, it will be a sad end to the dream

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