NANOTECHNOLOGY UPDATE: Micrometer-scale structures built from DNA bricks.
November 26, 2014
SELF-GRUBERING: Obama: “I just took an action to change the law.” Well, this should help the legal challenge to his immigration order . . . .
SO I SAW INTERSTELLAR LAST WEEKEND, AND I WAS GOING TO POST A REVIEW, but I’ve been busy and honestly I don’t have a lot of thoughts. It looked great on IMAX. The beginning and end were good; the middle not so much. I don’t expect Hollywood productions to get the orbital mechanics right, but good grief. . . . Overall, I give it about a 7. Parts were excellent, but I wish they’d spent as much time on story refinement as they probably did on deciding whether or not to include fake lens-flare in shots of Saturn’s rings.
SO WHY ALL THE FERGUSON HOOPLA? Last time the Dems and Sharpton made a big deal of a shooting, it was the Trayvon Martin case, hyped to keep up black turnout for 2012. But now there’s not an election. So why Ferguson, and why now? Polling indicates that most people aren’t all that sympathetic, and protests that tie up Interstates, etc. aren’t going to attract swing voters.
But it’s not about swing voters. It’s about the base. And it’s not about the Democratic Party’s base, but about certain leaders’ base within the Democratic Party. This may be best understood as an intra-party struggle. Obama is the champion of the urban-black wing of the party, and because of him that wing has been on top. But his star is fading, black voters are beginning to realize that they haven’t benefited economically, and the next Dem nominee — whether it’s Hillary Clinton, Jim Webb, or Elizabeth Warren — will be from the white gentry-liberal wing of the Democratic Party. The riots, the marches, the traffic-blocking are a way of telling them that the Sharpton wing is still a force to be reckoned with, and to improve its bargaining power between now and 2016. At least, that’s the only way this — not at all spontaneous — street theater makes sense.
MASCULINITY, AT A GUESS: Zero Tolerance For What? “The University of Virginia’s Board of Visitors on Tuesday unanimously committed to adopting a zero-tolerance policy toward sexual assault – although the university hasn’t figured out what zero tolerance means.”
You want to show zero tolerance for rape? Report it to the police. Plus, from the comments:
If this is true, and i suspect it iS, then a zero-tolerance policy is likely to dissuade many students from even applying for admission to UVa. Who would want to risk expulsion for having a sexual relationship that could be misinterpreted, intentionally or otherwise, as sexual assault?
21ST CENTURY RELATIONSHIPS: Why are so many young men paying for sex? Well, it protects you from the Campus Sex Police.
IN THE MAIL: From Gregory Zuckerman, The Frackers: The Outrageous Inside Story of the New Billionaire Wildcatters.
Plus, today only at Amazon: Up to 50% Off Toys from Mattel and Fisher-Price.
And, also today only: Photive Water Resistant Bluetooth Speaker, $39.95 (71% off).
WHY UVA COULDN’T WIN:
I’ve spoken at length about the troubling impact that campus adjudication with limited due process can have on the lives of accused men. I’ve spoken less, however, about the other problem, which is how it can leave predators free to commit more rapes. Helping victims focus on their own healing may well be better for the victims; I’m not an expert, so I couldn’t say. But it’s probably worse for the future victims. Expelling a man may be a pretty big burden on him, but we’d really like to put an even bigger burden on people who gang-rape 18-year-old girls; we’d like to lock them up where they can’t get at any more 18-year-old girls. I’m at least open to arguments that a college disciplinary hearing is what we need to combat “non-consensual-kissing.” But it is ludicrously inadequate as either a punishment for, or a deterrent to, what allegedly happened in that fraternity house.
Do victims have a right to stay home and focus on themselves, while leaving the predators who did it at large to rape again? Do administrators have a right to focus on the victims, rather than the risk to the community? These are hard questions, and I’m not sure I have good answers. But I do worry that by bundling gang rape into the catch-all category of sexual assault, in the hopes of raising the offensiveness of groping women and otherwise forcing your unwanted attentions on their bodies, we are also reducing the seriousness with which we treat gang rape.
When a currency is inflated, it loses value. That applies to moral currency, too.
AUSTIN BAY: As The World Burns, Obama Fires Hagel. “Gates and Panetta demonstrated a commitment to U.S. defense, a commitment beyond dramatic gesture. Their post-Pentagon assessments of the Obama administration are both scathing. They see Obama as a political leader focused on his own political welfare. Obama is fixated on two figurative battlefields: domestic U.S. social justice/identity politics and the next news cycle. He is very good with words. He is very good at winning presidential election, but as for other deeds? Not so much. . . . A SecDef serves at the president’s pleasure. Contradicting your boss has risks, especially a boss with a brittle ego. Hagel is gone. The Islamic State, however, remains. The Islamic State will have to be convinced it’s a junior varsity. Vladimir Putin is a big-league player; he persists in waging an imperial war in Eastern Ukraine. China probes its Southeast Asian maritime border. Iran’s quest for nuclear weapons continues. Syria bleeds. Libya fragments. North Korea builds ICBM’s. Unless backed by demonstrated capabilities and the demonstrated will to act, dramatic gestures and words in the Washington Beltway do not affect these circumstances a whit.”
CHANNELING YEATS. WELL, KINDA. James Delingpole: These Cambridge buttocks have restored my faith in the future of Western Civilisation.
AT AMAZON, countdown to Black Friday deals. Browse and save!
And, today only: Just Dance 2015, $24.99.
And please do me a favor: When you shop at Amazon, just click through one of my links first. You’ll support InstaPundit at no cost to yourself. I appreciate it, especially this time of year!
ROGER SIMON: The New York Times and Other Members of the Ferguson Hall of Shame. “That the photograph of Walter Duranty — the New York Times Moscow correspondent who deliberately whitewashed Stalin’s 1930s forced starvation of millions of Ukrainians and won the Pulitzer for it — still is on the newspaper’s wall of fame with their other prize winners is apparently no aberration. The New York Times has no moral center. In fact, it’s despicable. On November 24, they published the home address of Officer Darren Wilson.”
Plus: “Not quite cancer but pretty bad is Jay Nixon, the governor of Missouri. Not only did he attempt to prejudge the case, calling for Wilson’s head like some minor league Robespierre months before there was any evidence, but then, on the night of the grand jury announcement, after having brought in the National Guard, he goes completely AWOL and doesn’t use the Guards at all, leaving the poor store owners of Ferguson to fend for themselves, not to mention the police. Everyone got to watch the results on TV.”
WHO WANTS TO BE THE LAST CAREER TO DIE FOR A MISTAKEN PRESIDENCY? Hagel successor, with limited room to maneuver, will face quandary in Iraq, Syria. “The next defense secretary will also have to contend with a sometimes-tense relationship with the White House. Both of Hagel’s predecessors, Leon Panetta and Robert Gates, have criticized Obama’s handling of national security matters since leaving office and have complained of White House micromanagement of the military.”
The White House isn’t competent. But it is involved.
IT’S NOT A CURE-ALL, BUT IT’S DEFINITELY SOMETHING I FAVOR: Brown Family Statement Vows Campaign for Police Body Cameras.
HEY, REMEMBER WHEN HE HAD CONTROL OF BOTH HOUSES OF CONGRESS? Roll Call: Obama Wants Middle Class Aid Before Corporate Tax Breaks.
Meanwhile, I have a few proposals of my own.
HEY, I WAS SAYING THAT BACK IN 2009. Schumer says Democrats erred by passing ObamaCare. “Schumer says Democrats ‘blew the opportunity the American people gave them’ in the 2008 elections, a Democratic landslide, by focusing on healthcare reform instead of legislation to boost the middle class.”
Do tell. It’s almost as if helping the middle class wasn’t a priority.
November 25, 2014
LEFTIES ALWAYS WANT TO ELIMINATE ALTERNATIVE POWER CENTERS IN ANY SYSTEM THEY CONTROL: UVA Faculty Want Abolition of Greek System, Emails Reveal.
THOUGHTS ON DOMESTIC VIOLENCE: “Domestic violence is not a gendered issue. When it comes to violence in the family, women are just as violent as men, and until we stop acting like this is a men’s problem and start treating it like a problem women and men alike face, as both victims and perpetrators, we can never make things better. The ones who suffer most are the children who grow up in environments where hitting and other forms of abuse are how you solve problems or resolve frustrations. . . . I think our problem as men is our inability to see women as dangerous and violent, as if women are not fully grown adults capable of as much violence and abuse as we are. I’ve seen time and again, not just in myself but in other men, an almost complete inability to label a woman acting violently as an abuser.”
The American right was at once mocked and feared by liberals for the scrutiny they devoted to the sex lives of average Americans. This impulse among conservatives culminated in George W. Bush’s administration’s unsuccessful attempt to enshrine heterosexual marriage into the U.S. Constitution.
The critiques of social conservatism in the last decade as prudish and meddling were well-founded, but that seems like a generation ago. As American conservatism continues to embrace a more libertarian view on those policies which relate to the policing of consensual relationships, the left has become consumed with supervising sexual activity and defining more and more of it as unconventional.
Mrs. Grundy self-identifies as feminist now.
ELIANA JOHNSON: Henry Waxman’s Republican Heir: Jason Chaffetz hopes to land the kind of blows that Darrell Issa hasn’t been able to. To be fair, Waxman always had a lot of help from the press.
ROBERT MERRY: Obama’s Big Ferguson Failure.
Related: Flames of Ferguson Illuminate Age of Obama. “When history remembers the Obama administration, the flames of Ferguson will light up our memories. It wasn’t just an AutoZone and Jade Nails burning up in the fires of Ferguson, it was also the ‘Hope’ of 2008 going up in smoke. Instead of hope, the age of Obama has been characterized by racial division and discord.”
IN THE MAIL: Men on Strike: Why Men Are Boycotting Marriage, Fatherhood, and the American Dream – and Why It Matters, now in paperback.
Plus, today only at Amazon: 66% Off “The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings Ultimate Media Collection.”
And, also today only: Up to 40% Off Lionel Trains.
WELL, WE CERTAINLY DON’T WANT MORE WHITE HOUSE IN IT: The Case for More Congress In American Foreign Policy.
At the same time, with our Libyan policy, like the country itself, in ruins, one has the sense that the Benghazi investigation missed the larger point. The United States participated in the overthrow of the Qaddafi government, largely on humanitarian grounds, but we were utterly unprepared for the aftermath. Libya is in chaos today, radical jihadi groups have proliferated in the ruins, Qaddafi’s arms and fighters have fanned out across North Africa and the Middle East, and arguably more Libyans have died as the result of the intervention than would have perished had we stayed home. On top of this, there are credible allegations that the U.S. had guaranteed Qaddafi’s safety when he gave up his WMD program. Did our intervention in Libya break a pledge, or did it reduce our ability to persuade other countries to abstain from WMD programs? Did the decision to intervene in Libya also mean that the U.S. was less ready and able to respond appropriately to the much greater humanitarian and strategic crisis that holds Syria in its grip? . . .
A review of our policy failure in Libya (or earlier ones in Iraq and elsewhere) isn’t just about second guessing and assigning blame. It is about making sure that the nation’s foreign policy infrastructure is up to the tasks that our turbulent century has set for us.
This is the investigation we needed after the Libya fiasco. Unfortunately, unless something changes we are unlikely to get it.
What we need to do at this point is begin to rethink the role of the Congress in American foreign policy. If there is one thing that has become clear since the end of the Cold War, it is that the United States needs to raise its game in foreign policy.
Yeah, that’s pretty obvious.
HE WAS A LOUSY CANDIDATE, BARELY CONFIRMED, BUT STILL SMARTER THAN HIS BOSS: Bumbling Start, White House Micromanagement Doomed Hagel. The big news is that you’re hearing this from the National Journal.
DANA MILBANK: With Chuck Hagel’s departure, Obama is turning into George W. Bush. Most of Bush’s flaws, none of his virtues.
Plus: “Obama went on at great length about the ‘class and integrity’ of the ‘great friend’ he was pushing out the door, praising Hagel for everything from drawing down U.S. forces in Afghanistan to working to reduce sexual assaults. Only in passing did Obama mention the war that threatens to dominate the last two years of his presidency.”
Yeah, winning the war is job number one. Obama’s failure here will come to dominate his portrayal in history. The other stuff, not so much.
Taken as a whole, the original New York Times story paints a pretty damning picture of the White House’s national security policy setting. Mr. Hagel, so long as he was a loyal foot soldier for the President, was okay even if he was on the outside of the White House cool kidz team.
But the moment Hagel spoke up on ISIS, contradicting the White House, it was game over.
In other words, Chuck Hagel was not fired for incompetence. He was fired for telling the truth on ISIS — calling it an “imminent threat to every interest we have,” thereby forcing Barack Obama to deal with a threat he very much would like to ignore.
It’s only made more interesting by the New York Times’s decision to complete delete that bit explaining the motivation for his firing.
Someone from the White House called them, presumably.
But Fallen Angels was just a science fiction novel, you guys. Right? Guys?
HOW DO YOU SPELL SCAPEGOAT? H-A-G-E-L. “So Chuck Hagel has been fired as defense secretary. We were critical of his appointment, and opposed his confirmation by the Senate. But let’s be clear: Hagel has done what he was asked and what was expected of him at the Pentagon. To the degree he has deviated from the Obama White House line, he’s been more right than wrong (e.g., on the threat the Islamic State poses). So why has he been fired? Because the Obama White House needs a scapegoat. President George W, Bush fired Don Rumsfeld in connection with a change in strategy (the surge) and to bring in someone of independent stature. That’s not the case today. President Obama continues to want a Pentagon with weak leadership and little independence. There’s therefore no reason to expect the next two years of Obama foreign and defense policy to be any better than the past two.”
ED DRISCOLL: Season’s Greetings From Ferguson.
Related: Ferguson Witness Told Investigators That Michael Brown Charged Cop “Like a Football Player. Head Down.” “The witness’s account of the unarmed Brown charging Wilson–even after he had been shot in the hand during a struggle at the cop’s patrol car–supports the officer’s contention that he fired a series of shots as Brown bore down on him.”
UPDATE: So, Hillary’s been awfully quiet. This, via Facebook, may explain why. I’d guess that Today Show viewers are her core demographic.
Yeah, the margin seems huge, but it’s an online survey of Today viewers, not a poll. I suspect it would be a lot narrower if people hadn’t awakened to images of burning and looting, too.
Meanwhile, I went to the Today site to see if the number has updated, and now I can’t find the survey at all. I found a clip encouraging people to come to the site and vote, but either I’m just missing it or it’s been taken down.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Well, that’s not too far from this online poll at the New Orleans Times-Picayune. My guess is that this means the media coverage will drop off sharply.
MORE: And here’s a poll at NJ.com:
While aides described the departure as a mutual decision based on shifting priorities at the Department of Defense, there are signs that tensions between Hagel and the White House contributed to the personnel change.
Hagel struggled to break into the president’s tight-knit inner circle, and clashed with influential White House officials on key policy initiatives. His frequent rhetorical missteps contributed to perceptions he was out of sync with the West Wing.
Ultimately Hagel believed the pivot to combating ISIS represented a dramatic change from the types of reforms he had hoped to accomplish during his tenure at the Pentagon, aides said.
White House and Defense officials said Hagel was tapped to spearhead efforts like combating sexual assault in the ranks and trimming the Pentagon’s budget to deal with sequestration.
Yeah, I think their priorities were off a bit. Plus:
The steady stream of stories in recent weeks that suggested Hagel was having a difficult time penetrating the president’s inner circle carried echoes of Robert Gates and Leon Panetta, two past Defense secretaries who went on to write tell-all books critical of the president’s handling of defense policy.
Former Democratic aide Brent Budowsky said Democrats across the Capitol saw Hagel’s ouster as the latest example of “unprecedented” drama created by “too tight and too controlling of an inner circle.”
Translation: Valerie Jarrett.
IN LIGHT OF THE BILL COSBY STORIES, ANOTHER PROPOSED LAW: I suggest the Casting Couch Act of 2015. This would make it a felony to promise anyone an entertainment-industry position in exchange for sexual favors. Also, statutory damages of at least $100,000 per offense, and legal fees. Like campus sexual assault, this is a War On Women that must be stamped out with the Power Of The State!
Perhaps Kurt Schlichter can offer some related suggestions.
November 24, 2014
SOME OF US FIGURED THIS ALL ALONG; OTHERS ARE JUST FIGURING IT OUT NOW. Yes, Obama Is A Phony On Torture. He used to indicate otherwise as a means of brand differentiation, but he doesn’t need that anymore. And I think that some kind of deal has been cut.
UPDATE: Related: “How did the man who was supposed to tame the imperial presidency become, in certain ways, more imperial than his predecessor?” Because you were sold a pack of lies, and you were dumb enough to believe it.
Federal managers have fired fewer bad employees each year since President Obama took office.
Fewer than 4,900 career civil servants were fired in fiscal year 2013 out of 1.4 million — about one out of every every 300 employees — according to Office of Personnel Management data.
The figures were 5,700 in 2010, 5,500 in 2011, and 5,200 in 2012. Only partial data was available for fiscal 2014, but it was on track for 4,800, the lowest in recent memory.
There are also about 7,700 senior executives in the federal government, who are held to a higher standard than those in the General Schedule rank and file.
But only five in the Senior Executive Service were fired in 2012, seven in 2013 and none in the first half of 2014.
Well, Romney said he liked firing people who wouldn’t do their jobs. And then the voters picked the other guy.
REPORT: No Indictment In Ferguson Case.
Background: The Grand Jury. Fiat justitia ruat caelum.
— Chris Loesch (@ChrisLoesch) November 25, 2014
Here’s an Obama Truth Squad flashback, for those who don’t remember 2008.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Obama talks as, on the other side of the screen, Ferguson burns.
— Adam Serwer (@AdamSerwer) November 25, 2014
— Ben Howe (@BenHowe) November 25, 2014
NO INDICTMENT IN FERGUSON CASE, USA Today reports:
A white police officer will not face charges for fatally shooting an unarmed black teenager in a case that set off violent protests and racial unrest throughout the nation, an attorney close to the case said Monday night.
A St. Louis County grand jury declined to indict officer Darren Wilson, 28, for firing six shots in an August confrontation that killed 18-year-old Michael Brown, said Benjamin Crump, an attorney for the family. The decision had been long awaited and followed rioting that resembled war-zone news footage in this predominantly black suburb of St. Louis.
“The jury was not inclined to indict on any charges,” Crump said after being informed of the decision by authorities. Prosecutors scheduled an news conference to announce the decision.
Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon, a Democrat, called for calm after calling up National Guard troops to stand by in case of unrest. Speaking before the decision was announced, he urged that “regardless of the decision, people on all sides show tolerance, mutual respect and restraint.”
Much more from Glenn, shortly.
YES, BECAUSE RICHARD DAWKINS IS ALWAYS CALLING FOR HIS FOLLOWERS TO BEHEAD THE BELIEVERS: “British fears about Islamists and Saudi fears about atheists are two sides of the same coin.” If they’re two sides, at any rate, they’re two very different sides.
FOR A BRIEF WHILE, Virginia Postrel’s The Substance of Style is just $1.99 on Kindle. It’s well worth reading.
PHOTOGRAPHY IS NOT A CRIME: Employee Fired After Posting Pictures Of DHS Vehicles Parked In Hotel Parking Lot. Well, if a company has promised to keep government presence secret, and an employee breaches that promise, firing might be okay. But I’m not entirely clear if that’s what happened here, and certainly the threat of arrest made by the DHS was bogus and unconstitutional.
SOMEHOW, I THINK THIS ROBERT HEINLEIN QUOTE IS WORTH REPEATING ONE MORE TIME:
Throughout history, poverty is the normal condition of man. Advances which permit this norm to be exceeded — here and there, now and then — are the work of an extremely small minority, frequently despised, often condemned, and almost always opposed by all right-thinking people. Whenever this tiny minority is kept from creating, or (as sometimes happens) is driven out of a society, the people then slip back into abject poverty.
This is known as “bad luck.”
NEWS YOU CAN USE: Most Heavy Drinkers Are Not Alcoholics.
UPDATE: Tom Maguire is unimpressed with their definitions:
Talk about defining deviancy down! A guy who has two beers a night and cuts loose on Saturday by having a third is an excessive drinker? Even though he never even gets tipsy? But, fortunately, he is not an alcoholic! Imagine my surprise.
Well, I suppose their classification scheme can be justified if the available categories are “No health consequences” and “Possible adverse health consequences”. But I think most people would consider there to be a large grey area between “Not bad for your health” and “Doing real damage to your health”. And I would guess that fifteen drinks in a week (or one wild night of five drinks during a month) is well within most people’s conception of that grey area. Or put another way, someone who drinks too much once a month won’t be considered by anyone to be an alcoholic.
What does Stephen Green say, anyway?
Yeah, the medical establishment seems to be of two minds on alcohol. But I’m sure they’ll come down on the nanny side, because that’s where the federal funding is.
SHOT: Under The Fourth Geneva Convention, “Collective Punishment” Is A War Crime. “Article 33. No protected person may be punished for an offense he or she has not personally committed. Collective penalties and likewise all measures of intimidation or of terrorism are prohibited.”
CHASER: U-Va. president suspends fraternities until Jan. 9 in wake of rape allegations. “Faced with mounting pressure from students, faculty and alumni, University of Virginia President Teresa Sullivan suspended all campus fraternities Saturday, an action prompted by a searing magazine account of an alleged 2012 gang rape inside a fraternity house at the school. The suspension, which includes sororities and other Greek organizations, will continue until Jan. 9, the Friday before the spring semester is to begin, Sullivan said in a statement posted on the university’s Web site.”
Snark aside, let’s remember what the University did here. It knew about this for quite a while, but didn’t do anything until there was an article in a magazine. Then it boldly and dramatically took action — against people who didn’t have anything to do with the alleged crime. As Ashe Schow says, another argument why universities shouldn’t be involved in prosecuting rape. Plus, while there’s showy collective punishment for the innocent, the actual accused were helped by the University’s mishandling: “In Jackie’s case, Eramo eventually told her that ‘all the boys involved have graduated.’ This meant the case was no longer in the university’s hands and if Jackie wants justice, she’ll have to go to the police, only now it will be more difficult as the attack was years ago, meaning evidence and witnesses may no longer be available.”
UPDATE: In the comments below, much skepticism about the Rolling Stone report. Well, I guess you can’t expect Rolling Stone to get it right every single time.
HIGHER EDUCATION BUBBLE UPDATE: Number of College Students Taking Remedial Courses Explodes. “The number of college students taking at least one remedial course rose to 2.7 million in the 2011-2012 academic year from 1.04 million in 1999-2000, federal data show. During the same span, the amount of federal grants spent by undergraduates enrolled in at least one remedial course rose 380%, after inflation, Education Department figures show. There was also a drastic rise in remedial students taking on student debt. . . . Now, the high dropout rate among remedial-education students—along with a sharp rise in student debt—is fueling debate about whether the government should be more stringent in awarding student aid. Critics—ranging from some think-tank academics and conservatives to a trustee of a community-college system in Texas—say aid should be targeted toward students who are better-prepared.” These are students who shouldn’t be in college. Colleges are letting them in because they want their money.
WELL, ACTUALLY, THIS PROBABLY IS SMART DIPLOMACY: John Kerry Advised Russian Foreign Minister ‘Just Ignore Obama.’ At least, it’s probably good advice for most everyone these days. Forget what he says, and watch what he does.
Related: Peter Thiel: Thinking Too Highly Of Higher Ed. The “church” metaphor isn’t just a metaphor. Universities descend from clerical institutions, and have adopted poses, and enjoyed privileges — like internal disciplinary procedures and semi-immunity on their campuses from ordinary law enforcement — that descend from those institutions, too. But that’s problematic in today’s world, and the contradictions are becoming more apparent.
Josh’s discussion also reminds me of MCI V. AT&T, 512 U.S. 218 (1994), in which the Supreme Court held that the FCC couldn’t stretch a statutory provision allowing it to “modify” tariff requirements into a general rule eliminating the need for most of the industry to file tariffs at all. That seems fairly analogous to what Obama is doing with immigration, and possibly a better fit than Heckler v. Chaney.
On the contra side, though, there’s the case I always bring up when people suggest that executive power has exploded in recent years, U.S. v. Spawr Optical. (Also discussed here.) Spawr is a Court of Appeals case, not a Supreme Court case, and turned on some particularly sweeping statutory delegations, but still. . . .
Meanwhile, some thoughts from Ilya Somin.
I also think that if the Supreme Court wants to hear this in a hurry, it can. If it takes it in the ordinary course of business, we’ll probably see a decision in June of 2016. Could Obama — already seen as passively aggressively undermining Hillary in other ways — have put a long-range torpedo into the water that will explode around the time of the Democratic Convention?
WALTER RUSSELL MEAD: Obama’s Big Miscalculation.
Frank Fukuyama, no howling partisan, has tagged President Obama’s decision to circumvent Congress on immigration as a “bad call,” and while the President’s limited offer of a three-year temporary work authorization for people in the country illegally was not the worst or the most radical step he could have taken, Frank is right. This was the wrong step at the wrong time. At the very minimum, the President should have given the new Congress ninety days to act before going it alone. Failing to do so isn’t just a slap in the face of his Republican opponents; it is a slap in the face of the voters who no longer trust the President and his party on the big issues of national life.
If the new Congress proved unable or unwilling to act, the President’s step would have had at least an element of political legitimacy to it. As it is, this half-hearted, hobbled amnesty will likely join President Obama’s flawed health care law as a toxic legacy that will haunt the Democratic Party for years to come. Just as the President’s poor reputation was a millstone around the neck of many Democratic candidates in 2014, future Democratic candidates are going to run away from Obama’s memory, and their opponents will work to tag them with the heavy burden of a presidency that most Americans will want to forget. As a political brand, the name “Barack Obama” now risks drifting into Jimmy Carter territory and becoming a label that blights the prospects of the Democratic party and its candidates for years.
Moreover, as with the health care law, the President’s immigration policy doesn’t solve the underlying problems it addresses and makes the task of real reform more difficult. As often happens with our careful and deliberative President, he’s balanced so many concerns so nicely and split so many hairs so finely that the final product doesn’t get much done.
It’s almost as if he’s just not all that good at this Presidenting stuff.
REPORTS THAT HE’LL BE REPLACED BY JONATHAN GRUBER ARE UNCONFIRMED: Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel To Resign. I’m no Hagel fan, but he’s been one of the less-incompetent members of the team. There have been signs that he was being marginalized for quite a while.
Perhaps as a favor to Hillary, Obama will offer the job to Jim Webb. Or maybe it would be a favor to Elizabeth Warren. . . .
ELIANA JOHNSON: Rand Paul Hires McConnell Finance Director. Paul seems more comfortable with inside game than his father was, which is a big boost for his chances of being elected, of course.
WELL, THAT’S BECAUSE THEY’RE DUMB: Michael Barone: Nobody is pushing Thomas Piketty’s policies to combat economic inequality. “America already has lots of economic redistribution. American voters evidently sense that more redistribution more would sap economic growth. They’re willing to throw a little to minimum wage earners, but they don’t want to kill the geese laying the golden eggs. Americans are not alone in feeling that way. You don’t see much demand for Piketty policies in other countries either.”