White House Down: Obama Version
I don't know how he does it, but Internet Wit Sans Peer, Iowahawk, wrapped up the week more succinctly than anyone:
BREAKING: State Department says Egyptian military overthrow spontaneous reaction to 'White House Down' movie"
The scandal in Benghazi still awaits a full investigation (as do the others in the to do scandal box, including the IRS abuse of Obama's political opposition as to which the FBI still hasn't interviewed a single targeted tea party member). In the meantime the administration's feckless foreign policy suffered a serious blow with the ouster of Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi and the roundup of the Moslem Brotherhood, the object of the administration's love that dare not speak its name.
In the week that preceded the Egyptian upheaval, our always foolish Secretary of State John Kerry was playing shuttle diplomacy with himself, Israel, and a negotiating partner to be named, in the nonsensical belief that if only Israel would concede a bit more the entire Middle East would be at peace. As the marchers massed in Tahriri Square (crowd estimates were in the double digit millions) many carrying signs attacking Obama and our Ambassador Patterson as tools of Morsi and the Moslem Brotherhood, Kerry was yachting off Nantucket, or as one wag online tweeted "leading from Be-Heinz". U.S. law precludes our giving foreign aid to administrations which rule by virtue of a coup d'état, and as the administration scolded the Egyptian military it struggled to avoid an accurate description of events, just in case it occurred to them that they might want to put that check in the mail after all.
Foreign Policy says Obama's achieved the impossible, getting all factions angry with the U.S.
U.S. President Barack Obama's administration has achieved the hat trick of alienating all factions in Egypt. It neither defended nor pushed out Hosni Mubarak, thereby earning the embitterment of both the "deep state" that had been America's ally for 30 years and liberals who agitated against it; gave the military a pass during the 18 months of its "caretaking" when policy choices and governance rules might have been established; waived congressional concerns limiting U.S. foreign aid; gave the elected government too little support to have influence; was largely silent during a crackdown on nongovernmental groups; and now condescendingly suggests Egyptians would do better to politically organize than protest.
Unlike Benghazi, where Obama disappeared when the fighting began and didn't show up till our ambassador and his defenders were murdered, this time Obama called in his crack security team to hear him announce his "concern".
Well, that's the White House version. Maybe he just had travel pictures from his expensive European and African trip to show them before he heads out for his summer vacation.
In some further bad news for the administration, Obama's good friend Turkish Prime Minister Recep Erdogan had troubles of his own in Istanbul and elsewhere where only a very heavy hand has kept him from being a "guest" of his opposition. And the bloody slaughters in Syria where once again we find ourselves and Obama's "smart diplomacy" on the side of the Islamists, continue without resolution or even a brief visit from Assad's old friends Pelosi, Rockefeller, and Kerry.
The foreign news kept getting stranger. Hacker Edward Snowden is truly the man without a country. Russia said it wouldn't consider giving him asylum unless he stopped leaking U.S. secrets (!) and he withdrew his application for help from Putin. Ecuador said he couldn't be considered unless he was on their soil, but with his U.S. passport having been revoked, there's no plane out of the Moscow transit lounge that'll take him, though belief that Bolivia's president was smuggling him out caused us to press European allies to deny that plane overflight rights and caused the plane to be boarded and inspected in Austria where it made an emergency landing, something Bolivia has likened to a "kidnapping". European leaders are steaming (or pretending to) because of the Snowden revelations though seriously the claim that we spied on the European Union is proof we have no idea of what we are doing. Who in his right mind would bother to listen in on the pettifoggers who decide the shape of bananas and the type of tomatoes one can sell in Europe?
Here's one example of the uproar in Europe which is pretending to be shocked there's spying going on:
France's top security official publicly dressed down the United States at the American ambassador's July 4 garden party, denouncing alleged U.S. "espionage" of France and other countries, while the European Parliament voted to open an investigation.
Interior Minister Manuel Valls was guest of honor at the fete hosted by Ambassador Charles Rivkin Thursday. In a speech before hundreds of guests, he said that "in the name of our friendship, we owe each other honesty. We must say things clearly, directly, frankly."
He said that President Francois Hollande's demand for clear and precise explanations about reports of U.S. spying are justified because "such practices, if proven, do not have their place between allies and partners."
Online a cartoon was circulated without naming the artist or publication . It appears to be from The New Yorker and features a man and woman walking down the street over this caption:
"My desire to be well-informed is currently at odds with my desire to remain sane"
It strikes a chord. For not only our foreign policy ended the week in shambles -- as it deserved to -- but as well, the president's signature achievement, ObamaCare, is now patently on the ropes.
As the Independence Day holiday was upon us, the Treasury Department announced that the employers' mandate to offer health insurance was being postponed for another year. While the president's media fluffers downplayed the effect of this, it's a big deal. It represents a serious blow to the mud and wattle ObamaCare construction. For one thing the individual and employer mandates are so intertwined, I do not see how what's left can be enforced. And if this was, as expected, an effort to stave off blowback before the 2014 elections, it won't work unless the individual mandate is also suspended. Of course, besides the impossibility of enforcement, if that mandate is not also delayed, voters will see that the two major promises of ObamaCare -- that they can keep their insurance and costs will go down, are patently untrue. States are refusing to set up health exchanges; big insurers are dropping out of the business and rates are skyrocketing. Millions will be impacted just as the economy is stuck in the doldrums and unemployment and underemployment worsening.
Both sides know it, and Republicans are turning up the heat, as House leadership put out a statement calling for a "permanent delay" in implementing the law. ("The Administration has been busy granting waivers, delays, and special carve outs from the burdens of ObamaCare to special interests and those with Washington lobbyists, but the American people keep getting left behind. The President owes the American people an answer: why does he think businesses deserve a one year delay from the mandates in ObamaCare, but middle class families and hardworking Americans don't?") This has turned into a gift-wrapped populist issue for Republicans.
Obamacare also has turned into a repeat of President Obama's credibility disaster in the sequester fight. He said horrid things would happen if the cuts weren't stopped; no calamity ensued. On Obamacare, he said everything was just swell; it's not.
It will be quite a strain for Democrats to pretend all of this is just a flesh wound. As a practical matter (e.g. state exchanges not ready) and as a political matter (e.g. exempting big employers from the mandate while still forcing individuals to buy insurance), it becomes harder to sustain the illusion that everything is going swimmingly. The employer mandate is the most glaring and humiliating stumble for the administration, but it is hardly an isolated one. The pressure to delay the whole kit and caboodle of regulations will build. The question is whether the Dems will voluntarily do it or be forced by circumstances and/or voters to do so.
For those who scream that the Republicans should sue to stop the rest of the law from being enforced, this analysis from a correspondent, Chicago lawyer Joseph A Morris, explains why this is impossible, riffing off Professor Adler's blog at Volokh Conspiracy
It seems to me that, as a general proposition, the Executive has great discretion in deciding whether or not to refrain from enforcing law (as in deciding whether or not to prosecute any particular crime).
(As an aside, there is a conceptual nexus here to the Second Amendment debate. Governments -- Federal and State -- have authority to protect me from crime, and they have authority to prosecute people who commit crimes against me. But they have has no duty, enforceable by me, to protect me from crime, nor a duty, enforceable by me, to undertake any particular prosecution. There are exceptions, I suppose, as when government systematically refuses to protect me because of my race while it protects everyone of another race; or if I become a victim of crime because government somehow wrongfully put me in harm's way; but my remedies, even then, are likely to be civil damages rather than injunctions commanding government to protect or to prosecute. The absence of a cognizable "duty to protect" coupled with the practical inability to protect in many places and circumstances makes a compelling case in the interests of self-protection alone for the vindication of Second Amendment rights.)
Thus the remedy for the Executive's exercise of discretion not to enforce law is not judicial but political, that is, at the polls or by impeachment. [snip] Rather than impeaching Mr. Obama for refraining from enforcing ObamaCare, we should confer upon him a medal for admitting that his law is improvident, unenforceable, and, ineluctably, stupid and injurious to the people.
That medal should be conferred visibly, loudly, and repeatedly in public discourse from now through the elections of 2014 and probably all the way to 2016, for it is at the polls that the best, surest, and most resounding remedy will be found.
I call attention to the reference to an observation made by Randy Barnett that appears at the very end of Adler's post on VC [ed: Volokh Conspiracy]. Mr. Obama himself sets the precedent for a decision by a future President not to enforce ObamaCare in gross.
[snip] I observe that, in the absence of the conferment by a statute of some cognizable right that the statute makes assertable against a person (or entity) with a cognizable duty to yield to or satisfy the right (be it the government itself or a third party), it's hard to see how anyone has standing to seek judicial compulsion of executive action. And that's probably a good thing. If it is true that, in the real world, not every law can be enforced and not all laws can be enforced at all times, then someone has to decide which laws get enforced and which laws don't, and when. That, it seems to me, is a decision soundly committed by the Constitution to the Executive and not to the Legislature or the Judiciary. That the Legislature doesn't get to enforce the laws it makes is a check on the legislative power; that the Judiciary doesn't get to pick which cases come before it is a check on the judicial power. The Executive's power of inaction is thus a legitimate check on the powers of the other two branches, and the proper venue for review of the exercise of that is not the courtroom but the debating chamber or the hustings.
Keep this in mind when you rail, as many of you are already, that the Republicans should force a judicial resolution to this mess. They can hold hearings to emphasis the kerfuffle, and they can impeach him in the House, knowing a Democrat majority in the Senate will not convict him, Or you can get off the couch, round up your neighbors and vote for the opposition next fall. And the Republican leadership needs to have the guts to make the case that ObamaCare needs to be repealed and they are the means to do just that.