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CHECK YOUR PRIVILEGE: Pentagon Renaming “Illegal Combatants” as “Unprivileged Belligerents.” No, seriously. The Obama Administration seems determined to live up to every right-wing caricature. Hey, maybe those aren’t caricatures after all, then.

HMM. WHAT DOES THIS SAY ABOUT BARACK OBAMA’S PRESIDENCY? Elizabeth Drew: The Firing of Chuck Hagel.

While I had come to admire Hagel as a thoughtful man, there’s a question of whether anyone can make the leap from a senator’s office—with an average staff size of 34 people, to the Pentagon, the world’s largest institution, which employs about 26,000 personnel on site, plus about a half million overseas, plus an active military of about 1.5 million men and women. In general, transitions from Capitol Hill to a cabinet office, in either party, haven’t been markedly successful. The Pentagon has been a sinkhole of failures.

So if the transition from Senator to SecDef is too much, how about from Senator to Commander In Chief? The evidence would seem to support Drew’s position there, too . . . .

BIG GOVERNMENT: How the Obama administration gives away military-grade weapons to local police. “In the weeks after the death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., images of officers training rifles on crowds of protesters from the turrets of armored vehicles became a potent symbol of the distrust between law enforcement and citizens in Ferguson — and elsewhere.”

Though, to be fair, in light of what’s happened in Ferguson since then, my initial distaste for that behavior has weakened somewhat.

SELF-GRUBERING: Obama: “I just took an action to change the law.” Well, this should help the legal challenge to his immigration order . . . .

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.

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.”

Related: Middle East Policy: The Other Huge Obama Disaster Of The Week.

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.

UPDATE: John Fund: Why Obama Is Finding It Hard to Get a New Defense Secretary.

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.

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.”

UPDATE: “Communist agitators stirring up a civil rights protest sounds like a bad ‘60s flashback, but that’s just what happened last week in Ferguson, Missouri.”

WELL, SOMEBODY’S NOT HAPPY:

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.

UPDATE: The New York Times Changes Its Story Deleting The Most Remarkable Thing About Chuck Hagel’s Firing.

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.

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.”

THE HILL: How Obama and Chuck Hagel reached the end of the line.

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.

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.

MANAGEMENT: Getting fired is Mission: Impossible for federal bureaucrats in the Obama era.

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.

PLUS: NB: this DA is a Democrat, as is the County Executive and the governor.

RELATED:

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.

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.

JOSH BLACKMAN: The Constitutional Limits Of Prosecutorial Discretion. Also, Prosecutorial Discretion With Rubber Stamps.

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. . . .

YA THINK? Sharyl Attkisson: Faith In Government Has Declined Due To Obama Administration Lies.

YOU CAN’T JUDGE A MAN A FAILURE, EXCEPT IN REGARD TO WHAT HE’S TRYING TO ACCOMPLISH. Iran: Obama’s Biggest Failure Fails Again.

TMZ POLITICS SEEMS TO BE COVERING STUFF THAT OLD MEDIA WON’T:

Others are catching on:

Background here. I wonder how well he knows Bill Clinton?

Plus, Nancy Pelosi.

And a challenge:

Note: Not a verified TMZ account. . . .

A COUPLE OF IDEAS FOR THE GOP IN RESPONDING TO OBAMA’S IMMIGRATION INITIATIVE: These would be embarrassing for Obama to veto, popular with the public, and a good idea anyway.

First, a much stricter prevailing-wage law for H1B visas, with big damages designed to make plaintiffs’ attorneys zero in on this area. You can import foreign help if you want, but you have to pay those Indian or Chinese software engineers the prevailing wage for American software engineers in Silicon Valley, rather than paying the pittance most companies pay now. (In one case, a Silicon Valley firm was paying $1.21 an hour.) There has been a lot of cheating on H1 visas, and this should help. The tech companies’ excuse for hiring immigrants is that they can’t find enough qualified Americans, not that they just want to pay sweatshop wages, though that excuse is bogus. Companies also draw out the H1B application process to keep workers under their thumbs and away from competitors, something called “handcuffing.” Maybe shortening the fuse on the application process there would be a good idea, too, or — again — creating damages that trial lawyers can exploit. (Most GOP types reflexively hate trial lawyers, but, like Kurt Schlichter, I think it’s better to have them working for you than against you). For more fun, make CEO’s and HR heads personally responsible for violations, a la Sarbanes-Oxley. . . .

Tech companies will hate this, but I don’t see any downside for Republicans in siding with employees against the super-wealthy of Silicon Valley. It might even split off some tech-industry support, dividing the Silicon Valley worker bees from the oligarchs. I have Democratic friends who work there and this is a really big issue among them. And who could be against paying a “living wage?” For added fun, have some hearings where fatcat Silicon Valley oligarchs are grilled about worker exploitation.

Second, a tax on remittances to Mexico and other countries from which we get a lot of illegal immigrants. Make it equal to the tax bracket of the average working American. Since they’re not paying taxes, it’s only fair for them to chip in while they’re earning money here. 25% sounds like a good number. And how can Obama veto a tax? Make him.

DAVID RIVKIN & ELIZABETH PRICE FOLEY: Obama’s Immigration Enablers: The administration’s Office of Legal Counsel endorsed a view of executive power never imagined by the Founders.

A few hours before announcing his new immigration policy, President Obama received an opinion blessing its legality from the Office of Legal Counsel. Regrettably, the OLC’s made-to-order legal analysis is shockingly flawed in five major respects.

First, the OLC justified the policy as a prioritization of government’s “limited resources.” But the executive order does more than prioritize. It rewrites existing law. Illegal immigrants won’t be deported if they aren’t a threat to national security, public safety or border security. Beyond these three categories, deportation may be pursued only if it serves an “important federal interest.”

Under current law, by contrast, anyone entering the U.S. illegally is a “deportable alien” who “shall, upon the order of the Attorney General, be removed.” The president’s policy transforms an entire category of aliens deemed deportable into two different categories, whereby some are deportable and some aren’t. This is a shift in kind, not merely degree.

A president prioritizing resources would do what previous presidents have done: enforce the entirety of immigration law, while allowing prosecutors to make case-by-case determinations. By announcing a global policy of nonenforcement against certain categories, Mr. Obama condones unlawful behavior, weakening the law’s deterrent impact, and allows lawbreakers to remain without fear of deportation. As he puts it, “All we’re saying is we are not going to deport you.” These individuals are no longer deportable, although Congress has declared them so. . . .

The OLC’s memo endorses a view of presidential power that has never been advanced by even the boldest presidential advocates. If this view holds, future presidents can unilaterally gut tax, environmental, labor or securities laws by enforcing only those portions with which they agree. This is a dangerous precedent that cannot be allowed to stand.

Well, we shall see.

STEPHEN MILLER: Memo To Reince: Enough is Enough. Boycott NBC and ABC. “ABC and NBC have instituted a three-week blackout — on network broadcasts, websites and social media pages — of the devastating admissions of MIT economist Jonathan Gruber. The ACA architect repeatedly boasted of deceiving the American public about legislation that cost six million people their family doctor. This should be the final straw in any relationship the GOP and RNC leadership has with these networks, period. No more debates, no more appearances on ‘Meet The Press,’ ‘Morning Joe,’ or ‘This Week’ on ABC. . . . Boycott both NBC and ABC over failing to report on Gruber’s revelations and put CBS on final notice over the revelations that they coordinated with the Obama administration to tank Sharyl Attkisson’s Benghazi reporting. Network news is a dying religion becoming more ideologically rigid, forgoing any attempt to stay relevant in a media landscape that no longer needs them. Leave them behind. We’ve already shown that it works. Marginalize them and label them progressive news outlets and make them live by it. MSNBC came out of the progressive closet fully earlier this year and their ratings and web traffic got worse. Air America is no more and Current TV is now an unloved stepchild Al Gore gave away for oil money.”

UPDATE: A reader points out that ABC News did cover Gruber, though, of course, not in the saturation-bombing way they would have covered it if parties were reversed.

HOPEY-CHANGEY: Despite highest poverty numbers in 50 years, Obama okays illegals to compete for jobs in US.

IS THE OBAMA ADMINISTRATION’S PROBLEM a symptom of watching The West Wing? I’d say it’s more a symptom of watching House of Cards and wanting to emulate. . . .

IT’S COME TO THIS: SNL Snubs Obama, Mocks Executive Order.

MY MONEY’S ON JIM WEBB, AT LEAST IF HE GETS A BETTER HAIRCUT: Democrats Need a Hillary Backup.

The Democratic presidential bench is looking a little thin these days, isn’t it? After Hillary Clinton, we have … um … Jim Webb, who I bet you can’t even remember what office he held, and outgoing Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley, who couldn’t even get his own lieutenant governor elected as his handpicked successor in a blue state. If anything happens to Hillary Clinton, the Democratic National Committee will effectively be taking out LeBron James to send in Pee-wee Herman.

But how big a problem is this? You don’t need a dozen good people on the bench, just one or two who could make a plausible run for the presidency. And those people tend not to emerge when there’s not much of a realistic shot at winning — for example, when you’ve got a high-profile candidate with great name recognition, primary experience and most of your party’s donor base sitting in their back pocket. Once Hillary wins or loses, other people will presumably start grooming themselves for a serious run, rather than make an idealistic attempt to pull the party leftward in the primaries or a long audition for the VP slot.

I’ve seen this argument made by smart people who know more about politics than I do, and part of me is convinced. But the other part of me wonders where those candidates are going to come from if Democrats remain confined to the deep-blue parts of the map. Those places are more populous, but less numerous, than the red states — which means fewer governors and congressmen to choose from. Especially because a few blue states have shown a penchant for electing Republican moderates to rein in their liberal legislatures.

Barack Obama aside, political talent has to be nurtured.

I think Barack could have done with a bit more nurturing himself.

SMOOTH OPERATOR: Obama Offers to Walk John Boehner’s Dog. Boehner Doesn’t Have a Dog.

IT’S COME TO THIS: Watch as CNN pushes Josh Earnest to explain Obama’s immigration ‘flip-flop.’

Cuomo, who is the brother of New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, questioned this line of thought, pushing the White House press secretary to explain what appears to be a pretty obvious “flip-flop.”

“[T]he president promised not to do this,” he said. “He kept saying, ‘I won’t take executive action.’ Everybody keeps showing the tapes of him doing it … And they said if you care about working with us, don’t do this. And then he did it. What’s the calculation?”

Earnest’s response? Blame House Republicans.

Gee, who could have seen that coming?

MICKEY KAUS ON OBAMA AND IMMIGRATION: Tomorrow’s Conventional Wisdom, Today!

IOWAHAWK ON OBAMA’S IMMIGRATION MOVE: Somewhere a legal immigrant engineer in his 10th year of paperwork and lawyers is on Orbitz shopping for flights back home.

Which leads to an idea for the GOP: How about legislation to refund the fees to legal immigrants who have applied over the past six years? Dare Obama to veto that. . . .

DEROY MURDOCK: The Silence Of The Colored People.

Voters on Election Day chose Tim Scott as South Carolina’s U.S. senator. They also sent Utah’s Mia Love and Texas’ Will Hurd to the U.S. House of Representatives. Thus, the 114th Congress will include three black Republicans. This is a new high-water mark for black Americans.

Too bad the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People couldn’t care less. (America’s oldest civil-rights organization still plasters that retrograde expression all over its logo and website.)

NAACP has yet to congratulate, acknowledge, or even attack Scott, Love, and Hurd — now America’s three most powerful elected black Republicans. What you hear is the silence of the Colored People. Despite 10 separate requests for comment on this “advancement of colored people,” I could not squeeze a consonant out of NAACP’s Baltimore headquarters, its Washington, D.C. office, or even its Hollywood bureau. . . .

NAACP did issue a November 14 press release expressing its “strong support of the new Qualified Residential Mortgage rule” under the behemoth Dodd-Frank financial services law. The group praised the rejection of new down-payment rules for home loans. Who needs strong credit standards? What could go wrong?

NAACP has offered communiqués praising Obama’s new draconian carbon-dioxide regulations and even applauding LaJune Montgomery Tabron for becoming president of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. As for three black Republicans getting elected to Congress? Crickets.

The NAACP is just a race-based arm of the Democratic Party. Since nothing it says about these winners can help the Democrats, it says nothing.

NOBEL PEACE PRIZE UPDATE: While you were sleeping, Obama re-upped us for another year in Afghanistan. “Was Barack Obama conveniently waiting for after the midterm elections to add another year of combat duty to our tour in Afghanistan, or is this just a big coincidence?” Obama’s entire presidency will take place after the 2014 midters — except for what he’s saving until after the 2016 presidential election. You say “lame duck,” he says “more flexibility.”

SO IF YOU’RE FEELING DEPRESSED ABOUT OBAMA’S IMMIGRATION ACTION, or the situation in general, well, don’t be. Instead, read Kurt Schlichter’s Conservative Insurgency, and make your plans.

YOU’VE BEEN GRUBERED! If You Like Your Obamacare Health Plan, You Can Keep It, If HHS Doesn’t Pick a New One For You. “Here’s a Friday Obamacare news-dump for you: In a 300-page regulatory proposal released late this afternoon, the Department of Health and Human Services announced that it is considering changing Obamacare’s auto-renewal rules so that, within the health law’s exchanges, instead of being automatically renewed into your current health plan, you’d be moved into the lowest cost plan from the same service tier. . . . It’s not just auto-reenrollment. It’s auto-reassignment. Basically, if you like your plan, but don’t go out of your way to intentionally re-enroll, the kind and wise folks at HHS or state health exchanges might just pick a new plan—perhaps with different doctors, clinics, cost structures, and benefit options—for you. And if you want to switch back? Good luck once open enrollment is closed. There’s always next year. A hassle? Maybe. But have faith: They know what’s best.”

ON A FRIDAY AFTERNOON, WHILE AMNESTY-TALK FILLS THE AIR AND WITH A FERGUSON JURY VERDICT IN THE OFFING. HOW CONVENIENT: 30,000 missing emails from IRS’ Lerner recovered.

More evidence of the Obama “dense pack” approach to scandals. Can I call ‘em, or what?

IN CASE YOU MISSED THIS DURING LAST NIGHT’S AMNESTY TALK EXPLOSION: Top Obama bundler accused of child rape.

On Wednesday, Portland, Ore. police arrested Terrence Patrick Bean, who has been charged with two felony counts of having sex with a minor last year. This man is not just any old guy accused of having sex with a 15-year-old – he’s a big-money Democratic donor and liberal political activist with connections inside the Obama White House. Bean raised more than a half-million dollars for Obama’s 2012 re-election campaign. . . .

A search of the Federal Election Commission’s campaign-finance database turns up thousands in donations every cycle by Bean to the Democratic Party’s most powerful leaders, including Hillary Clinton, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Sen. Dick Durbin, and Rep. Barney Frank, among others. Photos of Bean posted online show him flying on Air Force One with Obama.

Although this report is in USA Today, I assume the major TV networks — which haven’t even covered Jonathan Gruber — will give this story a pass. Remember: Making sure you know what they want you to know is job #2 for them; making sure you don’t know what they don’t want you to know is job #1.

JERRY POURNELLE: Don’t Panic Over Obama’s Executive Amnesty.

LIFE IN THE OBAMA ERA: Poverty Number Highest Since Records Were Kept:

The official U.S. unemployment rate has indeed fallen steadily during the past few years, but the economic recovery has created the fewest jobs relative to the previous employment peak of any prior recovery. The labor-force participation rate recently touched a 36-year low of 62.7%. The number of Americans not in the labor force set a record high of 92.6 million in September. Part-time work and long-term unemployment are still well above levels from before the financial crisis.

Worse, middle-class incomes continue to fall during the recovery, losing even more ground than during the December 2007 to June 2009 recession. The number in poverty has also continued to soar, to about 50 million Americans. That is the highest level in the more than 50 years that the U.S. Census has been tracking poverty. Income inequality has risen more in the past few years than at any recent time.

Related: Number of Ultra Rich Increased 6% in 2014.

Hey, they don’t call him President Goldman Sachs for nothing.

USA TODAY EDITORIALIZES: Obama’s wrong way to do the right thing: The sweeping nature of his immigration plan amounts to executive overreach.

Best-case scenario: The Supreme Court knocks it down quickly, as in the Steel Seizure Case, and then he and Congress have to actually come to something mutually satisfactory if anything is to happen. You know, the way the Constitution says.

Worst-case scenario: Americans decide we’re not living under the rule of law anymore, adopt third-world strategies of evasion, passive resistance.

BOMBSHELL: Email Proves that White House, DOJ Targeted Reporter Sharyl Attkisson.

Judicial Watch reports that the Obama administration has turned over about 42,000 pages of documents related to the Fast and Furious scandal. The administration was forced to turn the documents over to Judicial Watch in a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit. Judicial Watch is posting them on its web site. The administration turned them over on November 18, 2014.

One of the documents provides smoking gun proof that the Obama White House and the Eric Holder Justice Department colluded to get CBS News to block reporter Sharyl Attkisson. Attkisson was one of the few mainstream media reporters who paid any attention to the deadly gun-running scandal.

In an email dated October 4, 2011, Attorney General Holder’s top press aide, Tracy Schmaler, called Attkisson “out of control.” Schmaler told White House Deputy Press Secretary Eric Schultz that he intended to call CBS news anchor Bob Schieffer to get the network to stop Attkisson.

Schultz replied, “Good. Her piece was really bad for the AG.”

Schultz also told Schmaler that he was working with reporter Susan Davis, then at the National Journal, to target Rep. Darrel Issa (R-CA). Issa led the House investigation into Fast and Furious. Davis now works at USA Today. In the email chain, Schultz tells Schmaler that he would provide Davis with “leaks.”

Davis wrote a critical piece on Issa a few weeks later.

Attkisson was later subjected to hacking of her computer by people who remain unknown, but who likely belong to a government agency. She and CBS parted ways earlier in 2014, and Attkisson has since said that the network blocked her reports from airing.

As Michael Barone says, gangster government.

POLL: Lukewarm Latino support for Obama executive action.

A six-percentage-point margin of approval is far short of overwhelming. A higher number of Latinos, 56 percent, told pollsters they would support congressional action on the issue, and 69 percent supported the idea of a pathway to citizenship for those now here illegally. But a core of Latinos opposed those measures too: 32 percent opposed congressional action, and 30 percent opposed a pathway.

And even more oppose unilateral Obama action. It turns out Latino support for the president’s strategy, which doesn’t even amount to a majority, is not quite as decisive as some advocates hope.

Plus, from IowaHawk: “LOL at all those Latin American immigrants who came here to escape tinpot dictatorships.”

INVESTOR’S BUSINESS DAILY: Obama’s Amnesty Threatens To Shut Constitution.

There’s more at stake here than mere political fortunes. We are at the constitutional tipping point that Georgetown University law professor Jonathan Turley warned us about as Obama continues to wield executive authority that he himself once said he did not have.

We live in a constitutional republic, and the president who says he cannot wait for the Congress to act ignores a Constitution that says he has to. Article I, Section 8 gives Congress exclusive authority to “establish a uniform Rule of Naturalization” and Article II, Section 3 says that it’s the president’s duty “to take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed.”

Yeah, he doesn’t care about that.

IMPERIAL PRESIDENT: The Hill: Obama moves to give legal status to 5 million illegal immigrants.

Plus: Obama Would Veto Any Bill Undoing Immigration Executive Action.

And: Sen. Sessions reacts: We must stop Emperor Obama.

Plus, this observation on tone from Moe Lane, which is spot-on: “Barack Obama wants you to be angry. The Democrats NEED you to be angry. So don’t be. Smile, shake your head ruefully, and say no. Nicely.”

Plus, from Mickey Kaus: Don’t Count Out the Court.

With Obama’s executive amnesty imminent, anonymous White House aides are cockily dismissing John Boehner’s threatened lawsuit against it as a stunt. Even among opponents of executive amnesty — and I’m with them — there’s a tendency to pooh pooh the suit. It’s a loser, it will take forever to decide, it’s an attempt to ‘redirect Republican rage’ away from budgetary remedies like denying funding, etc.

Not so fast. I’m all for giving defunding a try — also holding up appointments — but don’t sell the lawsuit short. I’ll even go so far as to lay down an Yglesias style marker: If Obama’s executive action is as broad as described, the Supreme Court will strike it down.

I think he’s right. I agree that this is comparable to the Steel Seizure Case. And I’m also a fan of Richard Neely.

Plus — Exclusive! Must Credit Instapundit! — a photo of President Obama immediately after his speech.

SunKingObama

TEACH OBAMA SUPPORTERS NOT TO RAPE: USA Today: Top Obama bundler accused of child rape.

Conservatives complain that President Obama gets a free pass from the media, which acts as a de-facto public-relations shop for the Democrat in the White House. Never has that charge seemed truer than now as an ugly rape scandal unfolds on the west coast.

On Wednesday, Portland police arrested Terrence Patrick Bean, who has been charged with two felony counts of having sex with a minor last year. This man is not just any old guy accused of having sex with a 15-year-old – he’s a big-money Democratic donor and liberal political activist with connections inside the Obama White House. Bean raised more than a half-million dollars for Obama’s 2012 reelection campaign.

“Bean has been one of the state’s biggest Democratic donors and an influential figure in gay rights circles in the state,” reports oregonlive.com. “He helped found two major national political groups, the Human Rights Campaign and the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund and has been a major contributor for several Democratic presidential candidates, including Barack Obama.”

A search of the Federal Election Commission’s campaign-finance database turns up thousands in donations every cycle by Bean to the Democratic Party’s most powerful leaders, including Hillary Clinton, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Sen. Dick Durbin, and Rep. Barney Frank, among others. Photos of Bean posted online show him flying on Air Force One with Obama.

The scandal is escalating. Earlier today, according to local media Kiah Loy Lawson, allegedly 66-year-old Bean’s 25-year-old former boyfriend, was arrested by the Portland Sex Crimes Unit for sexually abusing the same boy. After the relationship between the two men ended, Lawson went public with claims that Bean had a practice of secretly videotaping himself having sex with others.

​This story was first reported by the local press, and there have been vague references to sexual trouble for Bean and Lawson since June, but the national media has not picked it up. That oversight is politically convenient for President Obama as he tries to pull off one of his riskiest political moves ever with his amnesty executive order.

Telling you what they want you to know is job #2; not telling you what they don’t want you to know is job #1.

WELL, NHTSA HASN’T COVERED ITSELF WITH GLORY LATELY: Obama nominates Mark Rosekind for next NHTSA administrator. “Rosekind has served the past four years as a member of the National Transportation Safety Board, the independent government organization that investigates transportation accidents and makes recommendations to other agencies on how to strengthen safety. His appointment is still subject to Senate approval, but safety advocates believe he’ll be an effective new leader for the beleaguered agency.”

IT’S POTEMKIN VILLAGES ALL THE WAY DOWN: Report: White House secretly counted dental plans in Obamacare enrollment numbers; Without counting dental plans, Obamacare would have missed its goal. When your Potemkin Village is so unconvincing that even Vox is pointing out the papier-mache and chickenwire. . . .

ED MORRISSEY: Obama’s Immigration Ploy Smacks of Contempt for ‘Stupid Americans.’

ROGER KIMBALL: A “particularly dangerous moment.”

UPDATE: NBC poll: Executive amnesty is… pretty unpopular with just about everybody. “Shockingly, only 63 percent of Democrats in that survey expressed support for an executive order. Even more surprisingly, that poll found that immigration reform via executive order is not especially popular with even Hispanic voters. Just 43 percent of Hispanics polled support an executive action creating legal status for millions of illegal immigrants while 37 percent disapprove.”

ANOTHER UPDATE: J. Christian Adams: Obama, Our Modern John C. Calhoun.

ALEXA SHRUGGED: My ObamaCare Story In 1 Picture. “THIS is why Obama had new insurance premium prices held until AFTER the election! Last year, they were posted October 1st.”

ThanksObamacarelg

WHEN YOU HAVE NO SHAME, EVERYTHING IS A BADGE OF HONOR: White House: Obama wears GOP criticism as ‘a badge of honor.’

But, you know, it’s not just the GOP. They’re getting criticism even from places like the Washington Post and the New York Times. And if blacks understood how much harm they’d get from expanded illegal immigration, they’d be criticizing him, too. Heck, according to NBC’s new poll, even Latinos aren’t so hot on it.

So why’s he so eager to do it? It seems like an effort to do what Labour did to Britain. How’s that working out for ‘em?

PETER WEHNER: Obama Is About to Commit an Act of Constitutional Infamy. So what’s the country going to do about it?

RACISM IN OBAMA’S AMERICA: Ferguson Protester Wants To Target People Who ‘Don’t Look Like Me.’

THE GO-IT-ALONE PRESIDENCY: Obama to host 18 Democrats, no Republicans, for immigration dinner.

JAKE TAPPER: Obama promised Obamacare wouldn’t do exactly what Gruber says it will do. And what it’s now clear it was intended to do all along.

At a town hall meeting where he campaigned for health care legislation in 2009, President Barack Obama pledged to voters that he did not want any tax on health insurance plans he perceived as wastefully generous to ever impact average Americans. But in recent comments by one of the men who helped draft the legislation, MIT economist Jonathan Gruber, that is not only precisely what will happen — but that was the intention of the tax. White House officials had no comment, despite repeated requests by CNN.

It’s Potemkin Villages all the way down.

UPDATE: Academia Runs Interference for Obama: Universities Are Now Taking Down Their Jonathan Gruber Videos.

RESET-BUTTON UPDATE: “Salami Slicing” and Deterrence.

The second way deterrence can fail is gradual, through a chipping-away at the credibility of the leading power in the system. This is not mutually exclusive of catastrophic failure, in that gradual collapse can degenerate into a large-scale war, with the unforeseeable outcomes such a conflict brings. The difference lies in the fact that one of the parties is intentionally seeking to readjust the status quo undergirded by deterrence by means of a gradual alteration of expectations and credibility. The revisionist side wants to engender a gradual failure of deterrence because it considers the existing geopolitical order not to be attuned to its interests or prestige. But it also does not want to jump into a large conflict with the power or powers that underwrite the status quo because it may be the weaker side, or simply because war is dangerous business. The objective is to alter in a steady and almost stealthy way the expectations of future behavior that keep deterrence alive. That is, the revisionist power wants to make all parties involved—the rival as well as his allies—believe present promises of behavior will not be honored in the future. Once such a belief sets in, the options for the targeted powers are limited to accepting the new geopolitical reality or restoring the status quo ante. In either case, deterrence has failed—not violently, but in the realm of perceptions and expectations.

America’s international rivals today are seeking to cause the failure of U.S. extended deterrence using this latter method. Aware of their weaknesses against the United States and its allies and cognizant of the incalculability of engaging in direct confrontation with the world’s most powerful nation, they are engaged instead in a cautious game of “salami-slicing.” Their strategy is to break deterrence bit by bit, through repeated demonstrations of its insolvency in small, hard-to-counter crises.

The proper response, of course, is to punch back twice as hard, making such efforts disproportionately painful. But — and this is the key — it’s not so much that Obama is weak, as that he just doesn’t care. He has more flexibility to ignore this stuff after the election, and he’s using it.

Related: Putin Targets The Scandinavians. If it were me, I’d give the Poles nukes. Instead, we’re letting the Iranians develop them. . . .

CULTURE OF CORRUPTION: Gruber’s Obamacare payday highlights ulterior motives behind ‘do something’ cry.

For all the cursing of congressional gridlock, one of the greatest sources of Washington’s evils may be the bias in favor of doing something.

As voices chime in from the major media, from K Street, and from party leadership for the new Republican Congress to do something, it’s worth pausing, taking a breath, and looking at the recent problems caused by this urge — and the less-than-noble incentives that sometimes drive it.

The Beltway media’s predominant bias is that, for every issue, Washington politicians should do something. The simplest explanation for this bias: it gives reporters something to write about. Inaction is bad for readership.

Democratic politicians’ uncontrollable urge to do something is tied up with their view of government’s role as the champion of justice, the wise arranger of the economy and shaper of culture.

But there’s a deeper motivation to do something, and the Republican leadership shares it: When government takes a more active role in the economy, it creates private-sector employment opportunities for the policymakers — and for their advisors, like Obamacare architect Jonathan Gruber.

Gruber, the MIT professor who won almost $400,000 in contracts from the Obama administration in a non-competitive contract process, came into the spotlight again this month when a new video surfaced in which he admitted that “lack of transparency” was crucial to passing Obamacare.

My colleague Byron York pointed to a more interesting Gruber detail: After the bill passed, Gruber won hundreds of thousands of dollars in contracts with state governments setting up the exchanges under Obamacare.

Gruber, then, had to mislead Americans (or maybe just their senators) in order to pass Obamacare, and that opened a gusher of lucrative contracts for him. There is no doubt that Gruber sincerely thought the country needed health-care reform. But still, his financial interest in the bill ought to have raised some skepticism about the numbers he was peddling.

Nonsense. Only greedy conservatives advocate policies out of greed.

THE HILL: White House prepares activists for Obama’s immigration order.

The White House held calls with activist groups on Tuesday to prepare them for President Obama’s executive action on immigration, sources tell The Hill. . . .

One source said the White House sought to “temper expectations,” on the executive action, cautioning that while some advocates have pushed for him to carry out the Senate’s immigration reform bill, Obama doesn’t have the legal authority to go as far by acting alone.

“They’re setting expectations, making it clear he has the legal authority to do what he’s going to do, but that he’s not going beyond his authority, as some advocates would like,” said one source familiar with the calls on Tuesday.

The source predicted that, given the timing of the calls, that the White House could announce the executive order as early as Wednesday, but cautioned the president could also wait for the government funding fight in Congress to run its course.

“My guess is whatever they have teed up is already ready,” the source said.

Multiple reports have suggested Obama is poised to dramatically expand his deferred action program, allowing the parents of children who are legal residents or citizens of the United States to avoid deportation proceedings. Obama might also expand the eligibility for the current deferred action program, which allows children who were brought to the United States and remained in violation of the law to remain.

The president is also reportedly poised to expand specialty visas for high-tech workers. In total, an estimated 4 to 5 million illegal immigrants could be eligible for the program.

Stay tuned.

THE PALACE GUARD MEDIA ARE STILL AT WORK: Major media mostly giving Gruber ‘stupidity’ videos the silent treatment.

Half a dozen videos have exploded online showing Obamacare architect Jonathan Gruber calling the American people stupid, but most major media outlets are downplaying the controversy or portraying it as little more than partisan Republican noise.

Only a handful of major news organizations have devoted significant coverage to Gruber’s “stupidity” remark and his other admissions, including his saying the law’s “lack of transparency” was key to its passage by Congress and that the measure was vaguely written so the Congressional Budget Office would not score it as a tax.

The Washington Post and CBS News have published several stories on the Gruber videos, but they have also downplayed his role in writing Obamacare and focused a great deal on the GOP’s response to the controversy in partisan terms.

As a result, the Post’s reporting has included these headlines: “Did Jonathan Gruber earn ‘almost $400,000′ from the Obama administration?” “Obamacare consultant under fire for ‘stupidity of the American voter’ comment,” “Despite what Jonathan Gruber said, Romneycare didn’t ‘secretly’ rip off Medicaid” and “GOP’s anti-Obamacare push gains new momentum in wake of Gruber video.”

Kristine Coratti Kelly, Vice President of Communications for the Washington Post, said in an email to the Washington Examiner that she disagrees with the notion that the news group has focused too much attention on the GOP’s reaction to Gruber’s comments.

“[W]e have done a great deal of reporting on the matter covering a wide variety of angles,” she said.

Meanwhile, CBS News has focused on the Republican reaction:

“[W]hen the bill was being written, the administration paid Gruber almost $400,000 for technical advice on drafting the law,” CBS reported Thursday. “Republicans, for their part, turned Gruber into an all-important player.”

Other CBS Gruber headlines have proclaimed “GOP gets more fuel in fight against Obamacare” and “Found footage fuels GOP’s fight against Obamacare.”

ABC News’ sparse Gruber coverage included this headline: “How Little-Known MIT Professor Jonathan Gruber Shook Up Washington This Week,” which ignored Gruber’s prominent role in crafting the law.

NBC News, for its part, has all but ignored the story, with only a discussion on Sunday’s “Meet the Press” penetrating the blockade.

Coverage has also been light among the nation’s most widely circulated newspapers.

They’ve got too much invested in Obama to report honestly on him.

LEADERSHIP IN THE OBAMA ERA: UNCARING, UNREALISTIC, AND OUT OF TOUCH: Key ObamaCare official used threats, ‘tantrums’ to push website launch despite concerns, email claims. “A key ObamaCare official engaged in a ‘cruel and uncaring march’ to launch the federal health care website last year and wasn’t open to seeking a delay despite concerns, according to a newly revealed email from her former second-in-command. . . . In the September 2013 email to Todd Park, the former Chief Technology Officer of the U.S., Snyder characterized her then-boss, CMS Administrator Marilyn Tavenner, as a temper tantrum-throwing, demanding official who vowed the website would launch on time ‘no matter what.’ Snyder implied that Tavenner had threatened her job if Snyder was unable to deliver.”

AIRBRUSHING IN THE ERA OF OBAMA: University of Rhode Island Removes Gruber Video After It Goes Viral. First Penn, now this. You’d almost think that the higher ed establishment is in the tank for the Democrats or something.

OUCH: WaPo: Keystone XL: Mary Landrieu’s final indignity.

She cast the deciding vote in favor of ObamaCare in exchange for the “Louisiana Purchase.” I wonder if she thinks that was worth it, now.

CULTURE OF CORRUPTION: Obamacare’s Insurance Cronyism. “The New York Times has finally caught on to the fact that the Affordable Care Act’s biggest winners are not individual Americans but huge insurance companies. A recent piece in the paper of record notes that insurance companies benefit from vast federal subsidies and the legal mandate that everyone has to buy their stuff. In return, these companies provide support for the Affordable Care Act and the Administration, including helping to fix the troubled Healthcare.gov and backing the law against its legal challengers. Out are the ringing denunciations of insurance company profiteering that were commonplace in the Democratic party before the ACA was passed; in are gratitude and paeans to ‘cooperation.’”

When government and industry are “cooperating,” it’s usually at your expense.

SEAN DAVIS: It’s Time For Leftist Gruber Truthers To Give It A Rest. “Gruber was an Obamacare architect who helped draft the law. This is a fact regardless of whether it’s currently convenient for the Left.” Nonsense. Things that are inconvenient for the left aren’t “facts.” They’re things “Republicans claim.”

THE HILL: Why is Obama ignoring the experts on illegal immigration? What, Jonathan Gruber wasn’t available to provide “objective analysis” in favor of his policy?

ACCOUNTING RULES ARE FOR THE REGULATED, NOT THE REGULATORS! GAO says CFPB’s spending accounting flaws are serious, require prompt fixes. “The CFPB was created by Congress and President Obama four years ago to help consumers better understand and use sometimes complicated financial resources, but a new Government Accountability Office review has found for a second straight year serious deficiencies in the bureau’s stewardship of its own budget.”

RON FOURNIER: The Extraordinary Smallness of Washington: Institutional shrinkage marks the politics and governing of the Bush-Obama era. Hmm. My first thought is that the term “Bush-Obama era” would be convenient for Hillary — and maybe other Democrats — who want to distance themselves from Obama’s presidency. . . .

WAIT, A REPORTER ASKING A REAL QUESTION? YOU CAN SEE WHY THEY WOULDN’T KNOW HOW TO RESPOND. Reporter’s Gruber question prompts Obamacare flack’s eyeroll.

WASHINGTON POST: In Mr. Obama’s own words, acting alone is ‘not how our democracy functions.’

Two thoughts: (1) Expiration date. (2) What makes you think he cares about our democracy?

RON FOURNIER: Obama ‘Destroyed the Credibility of His Administration and Government Itself.’

DAN MITCHELL: Advice To GOP: Don’t Unilaterally Disarm On Government Shutdown.

IT’S POTEMKIN VILLAGES ALL THE WAY DOWN (CONT’D): Obamacare Facebook page comments mostly from small group of supporters: 60 percent of site’s 226,838 comments attributed to fewer than 100 unique profiles.

Organizing for Action declined to comment to The Times when asked whether it hired paid commentators to post on the site during high-traffic days or tried to spur online conversation through volunteers.

Organizing for Action also handles the president’s Twitter feed. This summer, it was found that nearly half of the president’s 43 million followers at the time appeared to be fake, according to researchers at Barracuda, a computer security company in Campbell, California. Organizing for Action also declined to comment at that time.

I expect we’ll eventually find that this is the tip of the iceberg in Obama campaign social-media fakery. An interesting question is whether Facebook and Twitter knew.

BARACK OBAMA: I did not mislead America with that man, Jonathan Gruber.

GRUBERGATE HITS COLORADO.

The Colorado Consumer Health Initiative paid Obamacare advocate and administration analyst Jonathan Gruber to produce an “independent” report in support of Colorado’s Health Insurance Exchange in 2011. This work came after the analyst’s failure to disclose his paid work to editors at newspapers which published his columns advocating for the law. The Initiative describes itself as “active supporters” of Obamacare and its implementation here in Colorado.

Gruber is currently under scrutiny for a series of video clips in which he 1) acknowledges having lied about the content Obamacare in order to help get it passed, 2) refers to the “stupidity” and “economic illiteracy” of the American public as assets in passing the law, and 3) admits that the plaintiffs’ argument in pending litigation is correct – enrollees on the federal exchange were specifically and intentionally excluded from receiving subsidies.

Forgotten, however, is that in January 2010, Gruber was penning oped pieces in the Washington Post and New York Times advocating for Obamacare, without having disclosed to his editors that he received nearly $400,000 from the administration to produce an “objective analysis,” that would be used in promoting the legislation.

The discovery of this conflict of interest by the liberal blog FireDogLake eventually caused the Times’s Public Editor, Clark Hoyt, to admit that the source’s interest in the news ought to have been disclosed.

It’s Potemkin villages all the way down.

GALLUP: Support for ObamaCare hits a new low. “Support for Obamacare continues to decline, with the law hitting a new low in approval, and a new high in disapproval, as the second enrollment period has opened for Americans, according to Gallup.”

ROSS DOUTHAT: The Great Immigration Betrayal: “We now have a clearer sense of just how anti-democratically this president may be willing to proceed.”

Plus:

So there is no public will at work here. There is only the will to power of this White House.

Which is why the thinking liberal’s move, if this action goes forward, will be to invoke structural forces, flaws inherent in our constitutional order, to justify Obama’s unilateralism. This won’t be a completely fallacious argument: Presidential systems like ours have a long record, especially in Latin America, of producing standoffs between executive and legislative branches, which tends to make executive power grabs more likely. In the United States this tendency has been less dangerous — our imperial presidency has grown on us gradually; the worst overreaches have often been rolled back. But we do seem to be in an era whose various forces — our open-ended post-9/11 wars, the ideological uniformity of the parties — are making a kind of creeping caudillismo more likely.

But if that evil must come, woe to the president who chooses it. And make no mistake, the president is free to choose. No immediate crisis forces his hand; no doom awaits the country if he waits. He once campaigned on constitutionalism and executive restraint; he once abjured exactly this power. There is still time for him to respect the limits of his office, the lines of authority established by the Constitution, the outcome of the last election.

Or he can choose the power grab, and the accompanying disgrace.

He’s not worried about disgrace, because he expects the press to cover for him.

UPDATE: SHOCK FLASHBACK: Obama Says Illegal Immigration HURTS ‘Blue-Collar Americans,’ STRAINS Welfare [VIDEO].

BYRON YORK: GruberGate Shines Spotlight On ObamaCare Profiteers.

Remember when Nancy Pelosi declared that Obamacare was a jobs bill? “It’s about jobs,” Pelosi said in 2011, during a news conference to mark the first anniversary of passage of the Affordable Care Act. “Does it create jobs? Health insurance reform creates 4 million jobs.”

Like many other promises about Obamacare, that hasn’t worked out. But there is no doubt that Obamacare created a lot of work for at least one American — MIT professor Jonathan Gruber. Gruber’s frank admissions that he and others deceived the public about Obamacare have drawn a lot of attention in recent days. But the money that Gruber made from Obamacare raises yet another issue about his involvement in the project. Throughout 2009 and 2010, he energetically advocated a bill from which he stood to profit. And when it became law, the money rolled in.

In 2009, as Obamacare was moving its way through Senate committees, Gruber, who had achieved a measure of fame as the architect of Romneycare in Massachusetts, was a paid consultant to the Department of Health and Human Services. In March of that year, he received a contract for $95,000 to work on the project, and in June he received a second contract to continue that work; it was worth $297,600. Together, they comprise the “nearly $400,000″ that critics have said Gruber received to work on Obamacare.

But after the bill became law, Gruber made a good deal more from it. The Affordable Care Act provided for states to set up exchanges to sell taxpayer-subsidized insurance coverage. For those states that chose to do so, exchanges would have to be built from the ground up. Studies would have to be done. Contracts would be let.

Just another argument for my revolving-door surtax!

NO CONTEST: Jake Tapper vs. Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT) on “Irrelevance” of Gruber Comments.

Plus, related thoughts from Howie Carr.

Do you realize that every last one of the many disasters that has befallen this nation in the last half-century can be traced right back here to the banks of the Charles River?

C’mon down, Jonathan Gruber, economics professor at MIT. He’s the moonbat who, after engineering the ongoing fiasco that is Obamacare, then took a nationwide victory lap in which he repeatedly described the American people as “too stupid” to realize the Democrats were destroying their health care.

Maybe he’s right about our stupidity. After all, he cashed in $392,000 worth of federal no-bid contracts to wreck the best health care system in the world, plus another $1.6 million or so in various state wrecking-ball contracts.

This goober, I mean Gruber, now says that when he sneered about how stupid Americans are, he made a mistake. Oddly, he made the same “mistake” five times (and counting). When you say something publicly five times, it’s part of your stump speech.

The Unaffordable Care Act — from the same Beautiful People who gave you Vietnam, the War on Poverty, the Immigration Reform Act of 1965, global warming, SSI, busing, gay marriage and gender reassignment.

Asked about Prof. Goober, Nancy Pelosi said, “Who he?” Then some video was produced of Madame Botox citing his no-bid brilliance. A moonbat in-the-satchel reporter from Vox pooh-poohed the goober’s role as “mostly number-crunching.” Two years earlier this same bumkisser said he “pretty much wrote Obamacare.”

The first place this moonbat millionaire’s obnoxious comments turned up was on a website of the University of Pennsylvania (which made fake Indian Granny Warren an affirmative-action hire back in the 1990s).

As soon as Penn realized that its video might be causing consternation to Dear Leader, it excised the footage.

Nothing to see here, comrades. Move along.

I’m beginning to lose confidence in the idea that the Ivy League is a net plus for America.

FORMER CNBC JOURNALISTS: WE WERE SILENCED. “When I was at CNBC, I pointed out to my viewers that the math of Obamacare simply didn’t work. Not the politics by the way; just the basic math. And when I did that, I was silenced.”

I was writing about this in 2009, but it’s worth reporting now. And maybe people need to show up at shareholders meetings again.

HEH: “For five years, Republicans have been searching for the perfect messenger to speak out against Obamacare. They have finally found him. His name in Jonathan Gruber.”

HE HAS LEARNED NOTHING, AND FORGOTTEN NOTHING: Obama unmoved by looming Keystone XL vote: ‘My position hasn’t changed.’

JAY ROSEN CRITIQUES A PRESS TROPE: “Republicans have to show they can govern.” No, they don’t. Please stop saying that. A reporter’s wish masquerading as an accepted fact.

These are false statements. I don’t know how they got past the editors. You can’t simply assert, like it’s some sort of natural fact, that Republicans “must show they can govern” when an alternative course is available. Not only is it not a secret — this other direction — but it’s being strongly urged upon the party by people who are a key part of its coalition.

The alternative to “show you can govern” is to keep President Obama from governing. Right? Keep him from accomplishing what he wants to get done in his final two years and then “go to the country,” as Karl Rove used to say, with a simple message: time for a change! This is not only a valid way to proceed, it’s a pretty likely outcome. . . .

Now keep in mind that for NPR correspondents like Chang, a “factual basis” is everything. They aren’t supposed to be sharing their views. They don’t do here’s-my-take analysis. NPR has “analysts” for that. It has commentators who are free to say on air: “I think the Republicans have to show they can govern.” Chang, a Congressional correspondent, was trying to put over as a natural fact an extremely debatable proposition that divides the Republican party. She spoke falsely, and no one at NPR (which reviews these scripts carefully) stopped her.

Similarly, Jeremy Peters of the New York Times has no business observing in passing that the Republicans are now a party “that has to show it can govern.” They don’t! They have other options available to them. It’s fine with me if the New York Times wants to loosen up and let reporters say in the news columns: “My take is that it’s going to be awfully hard for the Republicans to regain the White House if they don’t show they can govern during these two years.” But that’s not what Peters did. He went the natural fact route: the Republicans have to show they can govern because… because they do!

Why does this matter? Because reporters shouldn’t be editorializing in the news section? No. That’s not why.

Asserted as a fact of political life, “Republicans must show they can govern” is a failure of imagination, and a sentimentalism. It refuses to grapple with other equally plausible possibilities.

Well, this stuff gets past the editors because they share the reporters’ sensibilities. And because they like a formulation that puts an additional burden on the GOP.

BYRON YORK: Dems’ path after Obamacare: Down, down, down.

There were 60 Democrats in the Senate on Christmas Eve 2009, when they voted in lockstep to pass the Affordable Care Act. Soon there will be 46 Democrats in the Senate, or perhaps 47, if Sen. Mary Landrieu manages to eke out a win in Louisiana. In plain numbers, the post-Obamacare trajectory has not been good for Senate Democrats.

The 46 or 47 Democrats in the next Senate are a bit different from the group that passed Obamacare. Sixteen of them took office after the Affordable Care Act was signed into law. They never had to vote for it and have never had to defend voting for it.

Are those post-Obamacare Democrats as strongly opposed to changing the law as their colleagues who voted for it? Or are they possibly a little less personally invested in staving off challenges? It’s a question that will be tested in coming months.

“After [the midterms], the conditions for repeal and replace may be even better than most people think,” writes a Senate Republican aide in an email exchange. “Not only is there a fresh crop of Republicans eager to make good on campaign pledges, but a significant number of Democrats have no particular attachment to the law and may even want to be rid of it as a political issue.”

Well, why should they stick their necks out to protect Obama’s legacy? He certainly won’t do anything to protect them.

TO BE FAIR, THEY’RE NOT MEANT TO BE GOOD IDEAS, THEY’RE MEANT TO CONSOLIDATE POWER: Net Neutrality—and Obama’s Scheme for the Internet—Are Lousy Ideas.

Meanwhile, here’s my FCC testimony on this subject from five years ago.

A CHEAPER, SIMPLER OBAMACARE PLAN?

As a frequent critic of Obamacare, I’m often asked, “Well, how would you solve the problem? Huh?” The implication is that if I don’t have a solution, I should shut up and endorse the one Democrats provided.

This is not sound policy thinking. As I am fond of saying, “The existence of a problem does not therefore imply the existence of a solution.” It is not inevitably true that there is some policy solution that would be better than the status quo, even if we really dislike the status quo. . . .

We could have spent the last four years fighting over something else progressives wanted, such as serious action on climate change.(Which is something I want, too, and no, for reasons I will explain shortly, the latest China deal doesn’t count.)

I think that from the libertarian perspective, either of these proposals should be preferable to Obamacare. I’d even argue that they should both be more appealing to progressives. But the administration didn’t want simple, modest and stable; it wanted a massive, transformational legacy. Which is why, four years later, we’re still fighting about it.

Well, it’s transformed a bunch of Democratic Senators into former Senators. That’s something.

ED MORRISSEY: WaPo fact check: Yes, Gruber got $400,000 for ObamaCare work. “Or, if you prefer a more acerbic conclusion, taxpayers paid Jonathan Gruber in the mid-six-figures to lie to them, and then brag about it to all of his friends and fans later.”

And also, as Morrissey notes, to lie to the CBO.

HEY, THESE POSSIBILITIES AREN’T MUTUALLY EXCLUSIVE, YOU KNOW: The Nancy Pelosi possibilities: lying, suffering from serious memory loss, or a facade whose power is exercised by unelected others.

Plus: “A sign of the times: Lefty website FireDogLake attacks: ‘Trying to pretend Gruber had no part in crafting Obamacare or that you have never heard of him despite considerable evidence to the contrary does sound like someone who is relying on a lack of transparency and the stupidity of the American voter – doesn’t it?’”

Related: Lefties Deceive As They Try to Distract from Gruber’s Praise of . . . Deceit. “This is who they are and this is what they do.”

LAWS ARE FOR THE LITTLE PEOPLE: Federal judge tells CFPB it must give depositions even if doing so ‘annoys.’ “A federal judge forced the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to obey the same rules of discovery in civil litigation that apply to everybody else even if government officials are annoyed by them. . . . Tucker suggested that CFPB’s aggressiveness may be a result of having ‘more junior staff attorneys [who] may be less experienced. In addition, some staffers are relative newcomers to consumer financial services issues.’” I suspect that they’re entitled Obamabots who just think the rules don’t apply to them.

HEY THEY DON’T CALL HIM PRESIDENT GOLDMAN SACHS FOR NOTHING, YOU KNOW: Forget the 1%: It is the 0.01% who are really getting ahead in America.

ROLL CALL: Obama Veto Pen Could Soon Get A Workout.

President Barack Obama might want to find some veto pens. A lot of them. After setting a modern record for fewest vetoes — just two early on in his presidency — thanks to a Democratic Senate, Republicans could soon be sending him reams of legislative cannon fodder.

While conventional wisdom suggests relatively few controversial bills would head to the president’s desk, because after all, Republicans will need at least six senators who caucus with the Democrats to beat back filibusters — Republicans can bypass filibusters in multiple ways if Democrats try to gum up the works.

Republicans have already talked about using the budget reconciliation rules to bypass filibusters so they can put spending and tax bills on the president’s desk with their priorities — including potentially an attempt to gut much of Obamacare.

They also plan to use another power to strike at the heart of Obama’s pen-and-phone agenda. Under the Congressional Review Act, the House and Senate can vote to block recently enacted regulations, and such votes cannot be filibustered.

Or, you know, go full Harry Reid and just eliminate filibusters entirely. Because democracy! Speaking of which, will we see any more pieces from lefty pundits on how the filibuster is an evil relic of slavery or something?