Unexamined Premises

Comprehensively Yours

One size fits all

One size fits all — ours

Some years back, I was having a discussion with several of my liberal friends, who asked what my objection to their ideology was. My answer was simple: because liberalism (or “progressivism,” as they now prefer), when taken to its nth degree, must and does end in fascism. In order to achieve the liberal paradise, and since the common folk cannot be trusted, coercion must be part of the solution; the generation that screamed “off the pigs” now controls most of the levers of the federal government, and have become the pigs themselves.

Consder the mantra: “comprehensive.” Immigration reform, healthcare reform, campaign-finance reform, whatever. In the guise of “reforming” a system that may or may not even be broken (but, since nothing works perfectly, everything is “broken” to one degree or another), the Left insists upon a mandated straitjacket, into which they can cram all their pet policies, nostrums and phobias in the hopes of finally slaying whatever bugbear keeps them awake at night. And that bugbear, when you examine it closely enough, is Freedom.

Why the Left — which devotes a great deal of time and energy to the promotion of sybaritic pursuits, especially sexual license without consequences — should fear freedom so much is not at first obvious. After all, they’re the ones who claim to want the government “out of the bedroom” — and yet they’ve put it there, right at the moment of conception, in the Patient Deflection and Unaffordable Care Act. They’re the ones who have used the First Amendment as a shield — and quite correctly, too — against government censorship for decades, and yet now they can think of all sort exceptions to it. The Second Amendment makes them profoundly uncomfortable, since they find it inconceivable that an armed private citizen’s first instinct is not to shoot up a school or a shopping mall but to defend himself and his loved ones, and they have a touching, almost childlike faith in the ability of the “pigs” they once denigrated to come to their own personal rescue in times of trouble.

They won’t, of course, but that’s a personal problem — when seconds count, the cops are only minutes away. The institutional problem is, for the Left, no problem at all. With the reins of power in their hands since David Axelrod, the Jake Lingle of his day, gave the country the unasked-for and unwanted Trojan Horse of Barack Obama, they’ve discovered the joys of executive action, and of civilian control of the military and the police. When Obama promised “fundamental transformation” just five days before the 2008 election, he meant it. And who’s going to gainsay him?

Now, five years later, we’re getting a pretty good idea of what that “fundamental transformation” entails: the remaking of the U.S. into a nation of billionaires and beggars, of “public servants” and supplicants, of an imperial capital in the reign of the Emperor Hussein and a threadbare, exploited heartland, which exists at the sufferance of its betters on the coasts.  All utterly predictable, if you understood back in 2008 who Obama was and whom he represented.

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But don’t worry: the worst is yet to come.  As I warned repeatedly during the disgraceful, sham Romney campaign, the election of 2012 was Obama’s last hurdle before the real “fundamental transformation” could begin. The first term was largely devoted to hammering through Obamacare and then prodding, poking, pushing, testing the limits of what a real Imperial Presidency might look like once electoral constraints were removed. And now we know.

 REP. BOB GOODLATTE (R-VA): Professor Turley, the constitution, the system of separated powers is not simply about stopping one branch of government from usurping another. It’s about protecting the liberty of Americans from the dangers of concentrated government power. How does the president’s unilateral modification of act of Congress affect both the balance of power between the political branches and the liberty interests of the American people?

JONATHAN TURLEY: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. The danger is quite severe. The problem with what the president is doing is that he’s not simply posing a danger to the constitutional system. He’s becoming the very danger the Constitution was designed to avoid. That is the concentration of power in a single branch.

Now that’s what I call “comprehensive” governmental reform. 

The only check left on Obama is impeachment — something the GOP has scrupulously avoided discussing until recently. From Jonathan Strong’s piece on the subject over at NRO:

“The ultimate check on presidential lawlessness is elections and, in extreme cases, impeachment,” Georgetown law professor Nicholas Rosenkranz told Representative Darrell Issa at a House Judiciary Committee hearing Tuesday on the president’s duty to uphold the law.

With that first mention of the “i word,” leaks began springing from the dam that had been holding back the House GOP lawmakers united by frustration with President Obama’s executive abuses. Republicans have been watching impotently as Obama has walked all over the law, with increasing brazenness the further he gets into his tenure. His first term included major clashes over Congress’s subpoena power and, months before the election, the president’s imposition of the “DREAM Act” by fiat — something he had publicly said before was beyond his legal authority.

Almost a year into Obama’s second term, his unilateral delays of Obamacare and other legally questionable actions are now routine. He even threatened to veto a bill that would have ratified something he had done on his own without any clear authority, the delay of Obamacare’s employer mandate.

“It’s a real problem,” House Judiciary Committee chairman Bob Goodlatte says. One of the biggest frustrations: Senate Democrats don’t seem to give a rip.

And why should they? Comprehensively speaking, they’re holding all the cards, including the recent abolition of the filibuster in the Senate for most presidential nominees. Naturally, the Left cheers for more:

Winston Churchill famously remarked that democracy is the worst form of government… except for all the other forms. He was right. Democracy is unbelievably messy, convoluted, and sometimes maddening. But despite these drawbacks, it does not have to be dysfunctional or impossible. In fact, the whole idea of democracy is government by the people, of the people, and for the people, so why is it that anything but the votes of the people are allowed to decide political measures?

Yet that is precisely what the filibuster does. Unlike a simple nay vote on a measure that a Senator disagrees with, it is an insidious mechanism to prevent a vote on the measure in the first place, with the goal of killing it by running out the clock.

That bears repeating. It prevents a vote on a measure, which is essentially the same as a trial attorney refusing to let a jury deliver a verdict through a never-ending closing argument. If that sounds ridiculous, it is. What makes it even worse is that the filibuster does not need to involve actual debate on the measure but can be accomplished by almost any tactic that plays for time, including objecting to the preliminary motion to proceed to the measure.

Given all this, would it not make sense to abolish the filibuster entirely? It would, but that point seems to be lost on both political parties.

There’s been a good deal of head-scratching on the Right regarding the “nuclear option,” which Harry Reid — probably the most corrupt man in American politics — recently exercised. (The GOP had its chance, remember, but it was thwarted by our old friend John McCain and his Gang of 14 back in 2005.) Why, the thinking goes, did Reid pull the trigger on a naked power grab when he must know that it will come back to bite him and his party on the rear end when the GOP retakes the Senate? The thought never seems to occur to them that Reid & Co. have no intention of ever being in the minority again. 

“This is our moment,” said Obama upon securing the Democratic nomination in 2008. “This is our time.” It’s a phrase and a sentiment he repeated throughout the campaign, including in the commercial below. The Old Guard interpreted that as a transient statement of victory in the political struggle with Hillary Clinton. Those of us who came of age in the 1960s heard it as something else entirely: the fulfillment of a century-old dream.

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You be the judge.