April 15, 2014

AMERICA IN THE ERA OF HOPE AND CHANGE: Can the US Government Confiscate a Citizen’s Passport for No Apparent Reason? It Just Did.


America was founded on the notion that most politicians can only be expected to be ornery, low-down, crooks. Nobody in those days was fool enough to believe they could be Light-workers, Messiahs and create a world without guns. Thus in the Founder’s view the only way to guard against rogues was to ensure that government remained as small as possible relative to its essential jobs; to change those in office frequently and often, like we change underwear.

The Founders saw roguery as the byproduct of high office. And so they wrote a constitution — you know, the document more than a hundred years old that nobody smart reads any more — to keep the weeds down. For they knew better than our modern enlighteneds that any politician sufficiently powerful to disarm the people is sufficiently powerful to sell missiles bought from Russia to Muslim rebels in Mindanao.

Unless one remembers this there is no defense against crooks in high places.


HIGHER EDUCATION BUBBLE UPDATE, LEGAL EDUCATION EDITION: Orin Kerr bursts the sunny bubble inhabited by Erwin Chemerinsky and Carrie Menkel-Meadow.

BILL DE BLASIO’S class warfare against poor immigrants.

UPDATING THE TAXI INDUSTRY: USA TODAY EDITORIALIZES IN FAVOR OF UBER: “It’s no surprise that the industry has long been ripe for disruptive competition. The surprise is that it took so long.”

MAN CHARGED WITH FELONY CHILD ABUSE for slapping unruly teen.


NEWS YOU CAN USE: Why Your Spouse May Be ‘Hangry’ for a Fight. I pretty much only get angry when I’m hungry. I think the reason my Scots-Irish ancestors had such a tetchy reputation is that they were always hungry.


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WIRED: Out in the Open: Inside the Operating System Edward Snowden Used to Evade the NSA. “Originally developed as a research project by the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory, Tor has been used by a wide range of people who care about online anonymity: everyone from Silk Road drug dealers, to activists, whistleblowers, stalking victims and people who simply like their online privacy. Tails makes it much easier to use Tor and other privacy tools. Once you boot into Tails — which requires no special setup — Tor runs automatically. When you’re done using it, you can boot back into your PC’s normal operating system, and no history from your Tails session will remain.”

PAUL MIRENGOFF: Is Scott Walker on his way to 2016 front-runner status? “Revealingly, Walker fares well in an electorate that does not seem particularly conservative and that, if anything, appears to be slightly to the left of American voters in general.” It’s at least a year until anyone can be called a “front-runner.” But I like Scott Walker.

MICHAEL WALSH: Of ‘First Amendment Areas’ and Jay Carney’s Commie Posters.

SCIENCE: How to Flirt — Backed by Scientific Research.

DICK MORRIS: Bill Clinton Hated Janet Reno But Couldn’t Fire Her Because Of Waco. See, this is funny, because Dick Morris was also central to getting Clinton to exploit the Oklahoma City bombing, which was a consequence of the criminal ineptitude at Waco. But now look how Morris is positioning himself.

AT AMAZON, deals on Best-Selling Cookware.

Also, deals on Must-Have Handbags.

MY USA TODAY COLUMN: Obama’s War On White House Women: We’d be closer to pay equity if Democrats would stop cheating their own female staffers. “If I were the GOP, I’d start running attack ads in these legislators’ home states, quoting President Obama and asking why these Democrats hate women. It just might work — and it would certainly drive home a useful lesson about bogus statistics. Which President Obama — who is now even attacking unequal dry cleaning bills — could use.”

HEADLINES FOR THE ERA OF HOPE AND CHANGE: Marc Ambinder: If a nuclear bomb exploded in downtown Washington, what should you do?

Well, the ground he’s treading has been treaded on by me before. See also this video.

But isn’t it funny that this is happening under a President who recently mocked Mitt Romney for a 1980s approach?

HIGHER EDUCATION BUBBLE UPDATE, LEGAL EDUCATION EDITION: Nova Offering Buyouts To Senior Faculty. “Nova’s NSU Shepard Broad Law Center is not the only law school to offer buyouts to professors. Several law schools around the country, including Albany Law School, Vermont Law School and [SUNY] University at Buffalo Law School, have offered faculty members buyouts to shore up finances as enrollment continues to drop.”

I THOUGHT THEY JUST GAVE YOU $200 AND A NEW SUIT: Hacker “weev” demands bacon following prison release.

I’LL BET THEY’D WORK EVEN HARDER TO DEFEAT ANY SORT OF REAL TAX SIMPLIFICATION: TurboTax Maker Linked to ‘Grassroots’ Campaign Against Free, Simple Tax Filing.

A “STIMULUS” PROGRAM THAT LIVES UP TO THE NAME: The way drugs and prostitution boost the economy. Seems more like an effort by governments to mess up the figures so that it will be hard to tell that things are getting worse.

READER GUN-GEAR PLUG: Reader Kurt Vogel is selling fancy hand grips for 1911 pistols. Here’s the site for his company, Jackrabbit Grips.

FRUITS OF THE #DROPDROPBOX CAMPAIGN: UC Irvine Should Immediately Rescind Its Invitation to 2014 Commencement Speaker (and War Criminal) Barack Obama. “Unmanned drone strikes have increased rapidly under the Obama administration, killing at least 2,400 people over the last five years. The Bureau of Investigative Journalism estimates that as many as 951 civilians, including 200 children, have been killed by Obama drone strikes in Pakistan alone. Obama has authorized the assassination of multiple U.S. citizens via drone strike.”

HOW LONG can a message in a bottle last?


HIGHER EDUCATION BUBBLE UPDATE: Do We Over-Invest In Non-Traditional Students?

GOVERNMENT: Stifling Commerce: How the Department of Commerce smothers what it’s supposed to promote.

WELL, HE WOULD KNOW: ‘Money just simply corrupts,’ Leland Yee said weeks before arrest. Though some people begin with a headstart.

VIRTUAL PRESIDENT BILL WHITTLE on Taxes. You know, if Bill and Barack would just switch their actual/virtual presidencies, I think the country would be better off.

And if I were rich, I’d buy time for these addresses on a regular basis. After a while, a lot of low-info voters would probably think Bill Whittle was actually the President.

IN THE MAIL: From Michael J. Totten, Resurrection: A Zombie Novel.

Also, today only at Amazon: Up to 65% Off Select Kingston Memory Cards and USB Drives.

TAXPROF ROUNDUP: The IRS Scandal, Day 341.

THE FEDS BACK DOWN AGAIN: Social Security stops trying to collect on old debts by seizing tax refunds.

The Social Security Administration announced Monday that it will immediately cease efforts to collect on taxpayers’ debts to the government that are more than 10 years old.

The action comes after The Washington Post reported that the government was seizing state and federal tax refunds that were on their way to about 400,000 Americans who had relatives who owed money to Social Security. In many cases, the people whose refunds were intercepted had never heard of any debt, and the debts dated as far back as the middle of the past century. . . .

The suspension of the collection effort is “the right thing to do,” said Grice’s attorney, Robert Vogel. “It’s a first step. The next thing they have to do is stop collecting debts from children under any circumstances.”

Vogel filed suit in federal court in Greenbelt last week, alleging that the government denied Grice due process by failing to give her notice of the debt and by taking the money from her, even though she was not receiving government benefits at the time the debt was incurred.

Vogel and several members of Congress argued that the government should not be holding children accountable for the financial acts of their parents. The Federal Trade Commission, on its Web site, advises Americans that “family members typically are not obligated to pay the debts of a deceased relative from their own assets.”

After The Post’s article was published late last week, many hundreds of taxpayers who had had their refunds intercepted came forward and complained to members of Congress that they had been given no notice of the debts and that the government had not explained why they were being held responsible for debts that their deceased parents may have incurred.

It was a reliance on brute power, and it’s nice to see it pushed back.

GOP ESTABLISHMENTARIANS NOT SO HOT ON RAND PAUL. I think he’s a very smart and talented politician. Whether he should be the 2016 nominee is, of course, to be determined over the next couple of years. But I keep having to lecture GOP establishment folks on this point: If you criticize GOP candidates more harshly than you’re criticizing Democrats, you’re doing it wrong. There are plenty of ways to say that someone wouldn’t be the best nominee without screeching. Because screeching alienates those candidates’ supporters. And you’ll need all of them to turn out in 2016. And in 2014. This sort of thing seems like Politics 101 to me, but apparently not to everyone.

UPDATE: Bill Quick points out problems with the “Rand Paul is weak” argument. That said, the Halliburton comment was dumb.

ELIANA JOHNSON: Bolton PACs Raise Big Money.

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MY USA TODAY COLUMN: Obama’s War On White House Women: We’d be closer to pay equity if Democrats would stop cheating their own female staffers. “If I were the GOP, I’d start running attack ads in these legislators’ home states, quoting President Obama and asking why these Democrats hate women. It just might work — and it would certainly drive home a useful lesson about bogus statistics. Which President Obama — who is now even attacking unequal dry cleaning bills — could use.”


HIGHER EDUCATION BUBBLE UPDATE: Small U.S. Colleges Battle Death Spiral as Enrollment Drops. “Dozens of schools have seen drops of more than 10 percent in enrollment, according to Moody’s. As faculty and staff have been cut and programs closed, some students have faced a choice between transferring or finishing degrees that may have diminished value. . . . Harvard Business School professor Clayton Christensen has predicted that as many as half of the more than 4,000 universities and colleges in the U.S. may fail in the next 15 years. The growing acceptance of online learning means higher education is ripe for technological upheaval, he has said.”

All is proceeding as I have foreseen.


See also my Second Amendment Penumbras piece.

Oh, and did I mention I have a new Second Amendment piece out?



JAMES TARANTO: Meet the New Boss: Sebelius steps down, and ObamaCare supporters pretend to rejoice.

We observed in October that a new HHS nominee’s confirmation hearings would subject ObamaCare to political scrutiny, which Democrats were understandably anxious to avoid. That’s still true. “There are going to be some troublemakers who use the confirmation of the next person charged with overseeing Obamacare to raise hell, much as they did last fall, about the law,” writes Scott.

The way we’d have put it is that critics will use the hearings to raise questions about ObamaCare. To stigmatize opposition lawmakers as “troublemakers” raising “hell” is reminiscent of the old Soviet Union, where dissent was labeled “hooliganism,” a term that has come back into vogue in Vladimir Putin’s Russia.

Meanwhile, Ezra Klein hails the success of the Five Year Plan: “Obamacare has won. And that’s why Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius can resign.” If Sebelius had quit during what Klein calls the “catastrophic launch”–see what we mean?–it would have been a sign of White House “panic” and “made it harder to save the law,” Klein argues.

It’s surely true that the immediate political risk of Sebelius’s resignation is considerably less now than it would have been then. In October it might have emboldened vulnerable Senate Democrats to abandon ObamaCare or at least press for serious legislative fixes. It’s late for that now. By maintaining party unity this long, Obama probably bought enough time to assure that Congress won’t threaten what is invariably called his “signature legislative achievement” this year.

Can blotting your copybook count as a “signature?”

MATT LEWIS: Claire Shipman’s Flexibility. By going part-time to spend more time with her kids, she’s made pay between men and women at ABC less equal. Obviously, this should be forbidden. But there’s more:

Call it hypocrisy or irony, but I’m reminded of two similar things — one from a few years ago — and one I just discovered.

First, the old one. During the 2008 Republican National Convention, then-MSNBC’s Norah O’Donnell suggested that maybe — just maybe — Sarah Palin should be home with her child (instead of running for vice president.)

O’Donnell was, herself, a busy working mom — married to a busy restaurateur. And yet, here she was suggesting (albeit in the “some people are saying” style of questioning) that Palin’s family would be better served if she were … baking cookies and standing by her man? — it’s unclear. Palin made a decision that would normally be applauded by feminists, but — because of her politics, I suppose — was subjected to a certain amount of suspicion. Shipman, in comparison, is the more traditional conservative, and is earning plaudits.

The second thing I’m reminded of is this: Veep star Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi were recently quoted in the New York Times dispensing some terrific advice about marriage (both have been married just once).

“[M]y marriage and my family have been a priority, said Louis-Dreyfus. “That may sound stupid. Many people would say exactly that. But I worked very, very hard to keep us intact. And it’s been my pleasure, because it’s the only way I could have survived in this business — with my family unit in place.”

“A successful marriage is a decision,” added Pelosi. “You decide it’s going to work.”

In Shipman, Louis-Dreyfus, and Pelosi, we see another interesting phenomenon: Liberal women living lifestyles one might associate with conservatism — or at least, traditionalism — while simultaneously advocating policies that would ostensibly have the result of incentivizing or encouraging opposite decisions (abortion on demand, postponing marriage, unwed motherhood, no-fault divorce, etc.)

Granted, these are very busy working women. But Pelosi didn’t run for Congress until after her kids were basically grown. Either way, both are eschewing the “a woman needs a fish like a man needs a bicycle” philosophy, in choosing — not unlike Shipman — to be flexible, to make sacrifices, and, yes, to stay committed.

Well, sure. For them.

IRS SCANDAL UPDATE: Lois Lerner sits in her lavish house on $2.4 million property as she awaits possible contempt charge. Just another struggling civil servant.

ROLL CALL: Congress Takes Hands-Off Approach to Miriam Carey Shooting.

Release of the final autopsy report for Miriam Carey, the 34-year-old dental hygienist who was shot outside the Capitol on Oct. 3 after a fast and furious car chase from the White House, has renewed calls for action from an attorney for her family.

Six months after the shooting, with a wrongful death claim filed against the Capitol Police and Secret Service seeking $75 million in compensation, New York-based attorney Eric Sanders is calling on Congress to “use its legislative powers” to investigate the confusing series of events.

But spokespeople for the committees with jurisdiction over the Capitol Police and for law enforcement declined to comment, aside from saying there are no plans to investigate because the U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia is still looking into the shooting. Members charged with oversight have expressed no interest in launching their own investigation.

Something about this story just seems wrong.

THE HILL: Snowden Reporters Win Pulitzer.

ORLY LOBEL: My Ideas, My Boss’s Property. “A world where what is fair and what is law diverge so markedly raises a number of important moral, legal and economic questions, the most basic and important of which is: How does a reality in which we own so little of what we create affect our drive to make something new and original?”

A TAX DAY REMINDER: In 2009, Barack Obama “Joked” About Auditing His Enemies.

HIGHER EDUCATION BUBBLE UPDATE: It’s Not Just Athletes: College Screws Everyone.

April 14, 2014

MY USA TODAY COLUMN: Obama’s War On White House Women: We’d be closer to pay equity if Democrats would stop cheating their own female staffers. “If I were the GOP, I’d start running attack ads in these legislators’ home states, quoting President Obama and asking why these Democrats hate women. It just might work — and it would certainly drive home a useful lesson about bogus statistics. Which President Obama — who is now even attacking unequal dry cleaning bills — could use.”

JOHN HINDERAKER: Why You Should Be Sympathetic Toward Cliven Bundy.

LELAND YEE UPDATE: Feds to File New Charges Against Yee by July.

CHINA’S PROPERTY MARKET COLLAPSING? “Premier Li Keqiang has a few tools at his disposal, but they look insufficient to stop a general collapse of property prices across the country. The problems, deferred from late 2008 with massive state spending, have simply become too large. And we must remember that he works inside a complex, collective political system that is generally unable to meet challenges swiftly. But that does not matter. There is little any leader can do. Collapses occur when people lose confidence. That is now happening in China.”

That sounds terrible. Luckily, we face no such problems.

ALMOST 1200 OVER 1500 DOWNLOADS ALMOST 2000 DOWNLOADS GOING ON 2500 DOWNLOADS for my The Second Amendment As Ordinary Constitutional Law piece. Thanks to everyone who downloaded!

TAXES ARE FOR THE LITTLE PEOPLE: Tax-writing lawmakers’ tax issues – do as I say… “The House Ways and Means Committee is the oldest, and arguably the most powerful, in Congress with members responsible for writing the nation’s tax laws. But a CNN investigation of all 39 Democrats and Republicans on the committee found that at least eight members have faced tax problems of their own.”

NEWS YOU CAN USE: Lessons Learned From One-Night Stands.

21ST CENTURY RELATIONSHIPS: On Being My Black Boyfriend’s First Black Girlfriend.

COOL STUFF AT Amazon Supply. It’s like a Home Depot that lives in your computer!

Also, deals on Exercise & Conditioning Equipment.

BATTLESPACE PREP: Don’t Worry About Hillary’s Health — She’s Got A Great Doctor!

There’s even a bit of subtle Obama-distancing: “As close as he is to Mrs. Clinton, Dr. Hyman has not collaborated with the current first lady. He said Michelle Obama has been overly influenced by the food industry on her ‘Let’s Move!’ initiative to combat childhood obesity.”

SHOWING SMART: “In a new study, both male and female subjects were able to accurately evaluate the intelligence of men simply by viewing photographs of their faces.”

Plus, this caveat, which should be added to most studies reported in the news: “While the study’s principal finding merits a booze-bolstered conversation at a dinner party, it will need to be replicated among men of broader age and cultural backgrounds before we take it too seriously.”

RON RADOSH: Who Inspired the Nazi-Klan Leader’s Actions in Kansas? The Answer Here. “What will our good friends at The Nation say now, when his very first sentence notes how inspired he is by the words of none other than Max Blumenthal, whose antisemitic and anti-Zionist book was released by the magazine’s own publishing house, Nation Books?”

21ST CENTURY RELATIONSHIPS: Human Ken Meets Human Barbie.

BENEFICIAL RELATIONSHIPS: The Hillary-Boeing-Russia triangle.

DRIVING THE AUDI ALLROAD: “Allroad? So it can go on all the roads? So what? So can any other car with tires!”

WHENEVER I SEE THE TINDER LOGO, I THINK OF THE 1982 WORLD’S FAIR, BUT MAYBE THAT’S JUST ME: Tinder May Not Be Worth $5B, But It’s Way More Valuable Than You Think. Then again, there was a lot of hooking up there, notwithstanding that it was an app-less era.

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Also, Spring Deals on Pool-Cleaning Tools & Supplies. Summer is coming.

TAX SEASON: What To Do When You Owe More Than You Can Pay.

HIGHER EDUCATION BUBBLE UPDATE, LEGAL EDUCATION EDITION: Legal scholarship in the lean years. “I expect that scholarship will receive less attention inside the legal academy. In the last two decades, scholarship became an ever-increasing priority for law schools because they had the resources to make it so. . . . I would guess that the new environment also will have at least some impact on the substance of legal scholarship. My thoughts are tentative, but here’s a prediction: The lean years will create pressures for scholarship to have more relevance to the bench and bar.”

21ST CENTURY BUSINESS RELATIONSHIPS: When The Restaurant You Googled Googles You Back. “It’s not the thought that counts; unexpected in-person customization feels icky.”

A NEW BLOG: SUFFOCATED SCIENCE is about how the science bureaucracy is crushing creativity.

THE NEXT RED MEAT: Lab-Grown Meat.

WHY ALL CARS LOOK THE SAME NOW: How The Feds Outlawed Beautiful Cars.

TODAY IN PROSECUTORIAL MISCONDUCT: Former Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes admitted he believed man cleared of murder after nearly 16 years in prison was innocent. “In a stunning about-face, former Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes admitted in a recent deposition that he did not believe a man exonerated for murder was guilty — even though one of his prosecutors insisted, as the man’s conviction was vacated, ‘We believe in this defendant’s guilt.’”

People should be facing jail time over this, but it will be an amazing example of accountability if they’re even disbarred.

CULTURE OF CORRUPTION: How Obama’s Justice Department Selectively Blocks Mergers By Republican CEOs.

JOAN HEMINWAY: Business Lawyering In The Crowdfunding Era.

IN THE MAIL: From Steven Pressfield, The Lion’s Gate: On the Front Lines of the Six Day War.

Also, today only from Amazon: The “Rocky Heavyweight Collection” on Blu-ray, $22.99 (62% off).

TAXPROF ROUNDUP: The IRS Scandal, Day 340.

THE TODD AKIN OF VIRGINIA: Arlington County Board chairman apologizes for ‘Latino time’ comment.

Noting that board colleague Walter Tejada had not yet arrived at the swearing-in and would be a bit late, Fisette said that Tejada was running on “Latino time.”

Fisette was questioned about the phrasing by a reporter from WJLA-TV, and said that after talking with friends, he found that “some were offended.”

Do tell. And I’m sure the WaPo and Jon Stewart will be all over this. Background: The “GOP Lawmaker” Principle: Why You See So Many Articles About Random Right-Wing Politicians. “As the national electoral plight of Democrats increases, so does the incidence of stories about obscure state Republican lawmakers.” While stories about Dems get buried.

Because, you know, the press is largely made up of Democratic operatives with bylines. (Hat tip: Hinkle.)

BAY AREA HATEWATCH UPDATE: San Francisco: Where You Get Beaten Up For Wearing Google Glass.

VICTOR DAVIS HANSON: Our Psychodramatic Campuses. “Our pampered elite college students are creations of the very exploitation they project onto others.”

POWER PROBLEMS: The Costs Of Nixing Nuclear.

Japan is officially restarting its nuclear energy program, after shutting down its reactors in the wake of the 2011 Fukushima crisis. It’s an understandably emotionally fraught decision, but as the FT reports, it’s crucial for the country’s shaky economy. . . .

Nuclear’s benefits aren’t just economic; it’s an effectively zero-emissions energy source, and when countries phase it out, as Japan and Germany did in the wake of the Fukushima disaster, their emissions go up. Of course, if that was the whole story, it would be easy to chart Japan’s energy future. But when nuclear goes wrong, it can go very wrong. Japan sits on a tectonic boundary—not the ideal location for nuclear plants (it’s worth noting that the case for nuclear energy in Germany, which is not vulnerable to the same seismicity, is much more straightforward).

Fortunately, there’s a new generation of nuclear reactors coming down the pipe, reactors that are fail-safe by design, which would lessen the likelihood of another Fukushima catastrophe happening again.

Faster, please.

HOPEY-CHANGEY: Sharyl Attkisson: “Chilling effect” from Obama administration on journalists. “Attkisson told Kurtz that political considerations were at play, but the bigger issue is the ‘chilling effect’ of the Obama administration on journalists, but also ‘corporate interest’ pressure as well, which don’t tend to balance themselves out but add together. Kurtz wondered aloud whether her growing reputation as a ‘conservative’ journalist wasn’t an attempt to discredit Attkisson, and she agrees. When she went after the Bush administration, Attkisson noted, no one was calling her a ‘progressive’ journalist — and her CBS bosses were delighted to run those stories.”

The political/corporate synergy of the Obama Administration is its greatest danger, and doesn’t get enough attention for precisely that reason.

CLAYTON CRAMER: ‘This Nonviolent Stuff’ll Get You Killed:’ Guns and the Civil Rights Movement. Clayton Cramer reviews Professor Charles E. Cobb, Jr.’s This Nonviolent Stuff’ll Get You Killed: How Guns Made the Civil Rights Movement Possible.

This might profitably be read along with Prof. Nicholas Johnson’s Negroes And The Gun: The Black Tradition Of Arms. Here’s my interview with Johnson.

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WE MIGHT AS WELL REPEAL THE CIVIL SERVICE LAWS AND GO TO A SPOILS SYSTEM; THEY’VE BEEN POLITICIZED ALREADY: Complaint suggests HUD may have inappropriately promoted Obamacare. “Political priorities do not authorize agencies or the White House to violate appropriations law by taking agencies off of their congressionally mandated tasks.”

MICKEY KAUS: “I agree with WaPo‘s Greg Sargent that amnesty backers are increasingly realizing that it may be now or never for legislative action–-in part because the ‘comprehensivist’ coalition has begun to splinter, in part because it would be difficult for the GOP establishment to pass an amnesty bill in 2015 or 2016 without sinking the presidential candidacy of what may be their last, best horse in the race, Marco Rubio. But the desperation runs on both sides of the aisle–-affecting Democratic amnesty backers (including maybe Sargent) as well as GOP businessmen scared of tight labor markets, GOP strategists whose seemingly only strategy is to ‘get right’ with Latinos, and the GOP House leaders who love both groups.”

Related: Asians Derail Affirmative Action In California.

BOB WOODWARD ON THE IRS SCANDAL: “There’s obviously something here.”

Related: Loyal to the regime: CBS’s Bob Schieffer Interviews Dem. Elijah Cummings, Ignores His Relationship With Lois Lerner.

UPDATE: Schieffer link was bad before. Fixed now. Sorry!

NOW OUT: Law Prof Blog Traffic Rankings.

NO. NEXT QUESTION? The Hill: Is Obama Enforcing The Law?

Republicans are ratcheting up accusations that President Obama is playing fast and loose with enforcing federal statutes.

On issues ranging from marijuana legalization and criminal sentencing to healthcare and immigration, the president’s lieutenants have taken actions that critics say violate his constitutional duty to “take care that the laws be faithfully executed.”

The administration has sought to deflect the criticism, claiming not only that the president has acted within his power, but that an obstructive Congress has left him no other choice.

In testimony Wednesday before the House Judiciary Committee, Obama’s top law enforcement officer, Attorney General Eric Holder, claimed “a vast amount” of prosecutorial discretion in how the Justice Department enforces federal laws.

“I do think that the policy pronouncements that I’ve made in the recent months are consistent with the law and also are consistent with good law enforcement,” Holder said.

The remarks drew fresh criticism from those who say it reveals a flawed legal view that has served as the basis for executive overstep.

“The testimony reflected the near absolute view the administration has toward its powers,” said Jonathan Turley, a liberal-minded George Washington University law professor who said he voted for Obama and generally agrees with administration’s policy positions.

“I do not agree that prosecutorial discretion supports the full range of unilateral actions that the administration has taken in these areas,” Turley said.

In Congress, a growing chorus of GOP lawmakers charge the administration with creating federal policy via memo, blowing statutory deadlines and even showing a willingness to ignore laws entirely.

If he were a Republican, the press would be screaming for impeachment. And he’s acting badly enough that, even though he’s a black Democrat, they’re beginning to take some small notice.

A QUESTION WORTH REVISITING: How Did Harry Reid Get Rich? His career in public service has ended up being remarkably lucrative.

SALENA ZITO: Dems’ Latest False Wedge Issue.

Barack Obama has divided this country since the beginning of his presidency. He has not been transformative; instead, he has indulged one special-interest group after another — women in this case, but also blacks, young people, the lesbian-gay-transgender community and Hispanics in earlier instances.

He has governed by sliced-and-diced division, fear, secrecy and resentment, all accented with toothless executive orders used as political weapons.

This is definitely not the transparent and compassionate administration that he promised.

Maybe this is what happens when you over-promise, or maybe this is who Barack Obama is.

Well, there’s not much evidence to the contrary.

DIVORCE, BELTWAY STYLE: The Democratic breakup that exposes Washington’s rotten core.

The documents, which you can read below, did not become available to the rest of us until yesterday. They tell stories not only of a May-December romance gone sour, but of how obscene wealth can be amassed through rent-seeking and influence-peddling in Washington D.C., and of the hoary means by which the princelings of the capital and their consorts maintain and grow that wealth. They tell stories not only of an ugly divorce, but of the power of lobbying, of how one family maneuvered to the center of the nation’s dominant political party, of the transactional relationships, gargantuan self-regard, and empty posturing that insulates, asbestos-like, the D.C. bubble.

That the broken couple now uses the tools of their trade—the phone-call to a friend, the selective leaking of documents, the hiring of attorneys, the launch of a public-relations campaign—against one another is more than ironic. It is fitting. Tony and Heather Podesta reached the pinnacle of wealth and influence in Barack Obama’s Washington. Now they, like he, are in eclipse. . . .

Corporations give to Democratic politicians, avoiding the scrutiny of liberal attack dogs in the media and nonprofit sectors, and enjoying the ego boost that comes with being on the “right side of history.” Then those corporations hire the Podestas to get them out of the Rube Goldberg traps the Democrats have enacted into law. John’s innovation was to establish a corporate-funded think tank where the burdensome policies would be concocted, and whose staff would go on to man the regulatory agencies that put their wool-headed ideas into practice. And to whom do the corporations turn when they find themselves on the receiving end of all this uplift, all this do-goodery, all this progress, hope, and change? Why, to the man in the red Prada loafers, and to his flamboyantly patterned wife.

Read the whole thing.

A DISTURBING VIDEO COMPILATION: All 134 Times Harry Reid Has Mentioned the Koch Brothers on the Senate Floor. Get help, Harry.

ANDREW KLAVAN: Black Lives, Democrat Lies. “Now to someone like me — a former liberal who became a conservative, in part, because I saw the devastation wrought on poor black neighborhoods by leftist policies — this is no surprise, not even all that interesting. What I did find riveting though were the desperate attempts by presumably left-leaning social scientists to explain the discrepancy away.”