Monday, April 27, 2015

The Disgraceful Republican Cave-in on Loretta Lynch

Has the Left -- abetted by RINOs -- destroyed the rule of law in America?

Hillary Clinton didn't have such a bad week after all. Sure, she's reeling from the latest unseemly revelations about the Clinton Foundation family piggy bank. But they're only marginally worse than earlier unseemly revelations about the Clinton Foundation.

They are roughly on par with the revelations about how Mrs. Clinton obstructed Congress's Benghazi investigations by purging her unlawful private e-mail system, which was worse than her obstruction of the State Department's Benghazi investigation. Yet it may not have been as bad as the obstruction of justice that was a staple of her husband's administration.

Those obstructions, in turn, were on par with her husband's selling of a pardon to a fugitive fraudster on the FBI's Ten Most Wanted List . . . which itself was not quite as bad as his awarding pardons to FALN terrorists - to ingratiate Hillary! with the New York Puerto Rican community (or at least the radicals therein) in preparation for her Senate campaign.

We could go on corruptio ad absurdum. But you get the point: Reeling is not so bad. Reeling is what Clintons do. The way they operate, it's what they have to do. They should change the Clinton Foundation's name to Reel Clear Politics.

But what difference, at this point, does it make? Not much. See, it wasn't that bad a week for Hillary because, even with all the reeling, there is a very good chance she will be the next president of the United States.

If that happens, we may remember this as the week that put her over the top. Or better, the week Republicans put her over the top, right after they got done putting Loretta Lynch over the top.

On Thursday morning, top Republican strategist Karl Rove proclaimed, "The dysfunctional Congress finally appears to be working again as the Founders intended." Just hours later, the GOP-controlled Senate confirmed as attorney general - i.e., as the chief federal law-enforcement officer of the United States - a lawyer who quite openly supports the systematic non-enforcement of federal law. In fact, Ms. Lynch also supports President Obama's blatantly unconstitutional usurpations of legislative authority, including most notoriously, of Congress's power to set the terms of lawful presence by aliens in our country.

Now, I happen to like Karl Rove - if you're looking for the Rove pi¤ata at the end of the Tea Party, you will not find it in my columns. But can someone as smart as he is really think Congress under Republican control is working as the Founders intended? The Founders intended Congress to rein in a president who behaved like a monarch. Anyone who has read the 1787 constitutional-convention debates knows they would have impeached and removed a president for a bare fraction of the malfeasance carried out by President Obama.

The Founders, moreover, thought oaths of office were serious business - having pledged their own lives, fortunes, and sacred honor to the cause of liberty against great odds and a great power that would have put them to death had the revolution failed. They therefore required (in Article II, Section 1) that the president take an oath to execute the laws faithfully, and to preserve, protect, and defend a Constitution that Mr. Obama takes less seriously than his NCAA brackets. Beyond that, the Founders mandated (in Article VI) that oaths to support the Constitution also be taken by senators and executive-branch officers, among others.

So, in what we're now to believe is a functional Congress, Loretta Lynch, the president's nominee for attorney general, testified without compunction that she endorses and intends to facilitate the president's lawlessness and constitutional violations. With that knowledge, senators then had to consider her nomination.

If oaths mean anything, she should never even have gotten a vote. To repeat, the position of attorney general exists to ensure that the laws are enforced and the Constitution preserved; plus, each senator has taken an oath to uphold the Constitution. So this was not a hard call.

Yet, Republicans were up to their now familiar shenanigans.

In October, while courting conservative support for the upcoming midterm election, Senator Mitch McConnell declaimed that any nominee to replace Eric Holder as "the nation's highest law-enforcement official" must, "as a condition of his or her confirmation," avoid "at all costs" Holder's penchant for putting "political and ideological commitments ahead of the rule of law" - including as it "relates to the president's acting unilaterally on immigration or anything else."

Turns out he was kidding.

Once the November election was safely won (including his own - McConnell won't face the voters again for six years), the majority leader swung into action, laboring behind the scenes to drum up support for Lynch. He not only whipped for Lynch from the shadows; by voting for her confirmation, he mocked any conservatives who'd been na‹ve enough to take his campaign rhetoric seriously.

In this he joined nine others on the roster of Republican senators who took an oath to uphold the Constitution then supported an attorney general who had vowed to undermine the Constitution: Orrin Hatch (Utah), Lindsey Graham (S.C.), Jeff Flake (Ariz.), Susan Collins (Maine), Rob Portman (Ohio), Mark Kirk (Ill.), Thad Cochran (Miss.), Kelly Ayotte (N.H.), and Ron Johnson (Wis.).

That doesn't begin to quantify the perfidy, though. In order to get Lynch to the finish line, McConnell first had to break conservative opposition to allowing a final vote for her nomination. The majority leader thus twisted enough arms that 20 Republicans voted to end debate. This guaranteed that Lynch would not only get a final vote but would, in the end, prevail - Senators Hatch, Graham, Flake, Collins, and Kirk having already announced their intention to join all 46 Democrats in getting Lynch to the magic confirmation number of 51.

So, in addition to the aforementioned ten Republicans who said "aye" on the final vote to make Lynch attorney general, there are ten others who conspired in the GOP's now routine parliamentary deception: Vote in favor of ending debate, knowing that this will give Democrats ultimate victory, but cast a meaningless vote against the Democrats in the final tally in order to pose as staunch Obama opponents when schmoozing the saps back home. These ten - John Thune (S.D.), John Cornyn (Texas), Bob Corker (Tenn.), Lamar Alexander (Tenn.), Pat Roberts (Kan.), Richard Burr (N.C.), Shelley Moore Capito (W.Va.), Cory Gardner (Col.), Mike Rounds (S.D.), and Thom Tillis (N.C.) - are just as willfully complicit in Lynch's confirmation and her imminent execution of Obama's lawlessness.

This is not a Senate back to regular order. It is a disgrace, one that leads to the farce's final act: On Monday, Loretta Lynch will ceremoniously take the oath to uphold the Constitution she has already told us she will undermine.

This is not about immigration, amnesty, health care, and the full spectrum of tough issues on which reasonable minds can differ. It is about the collapse of fundamental assumptions on which the rule of law rests. When solemn oaths are empty words, when missions such as "law enforcement" become self-parody, public contempt for Washington intensifies - in particular, on the political right, which wants to preserve the good society and constitutional order the rule of law sustains.

In 2012, Barack Obama was reelected despite hemorrhaging support. Obama drew three-and-a-half million fewer votes than he had in 2008. He is president today because, despite deep dissatisfaction with his tenure, millions of former Republican supporters were too vexed by the party's insipidness to believe voting would make a difference. They stayed home.

The GOP, it seems, is going to great lengths to convince them that they were right. It may be that, for an entrenched Beltway political class, the important thing is to stay entrenched: better to play ball with the "opposition" party than to represent a base that wants Washington - the political class's source of power - pared way back.



Minimum Wage Backfire

McDonald's already moving to automate orders to reduce worker costs

If there's a silver lining for McDonald's in Tuesday's dreadful earnings report, it is that perhaps union activists will begin to understand that the fast-food chain cannot solve the problems of the Obama economy. The world's largest restaurant company reported a 30% decline in quarterly profits on a 5% drop in revenues. Problems under the golden arches were global-sales were weak in China, Europe and the United States.

So even one of the world's most ubiquitous consumer brands cannot print money at its pleasure. This may be news to liberal pressure groups that have lately been demanding that government order the chain known for cheap food to somehow pay higher wages.

Unions have made McDonald's a particular target of their campaign for a $15 an hour minimum wage and have even protested at corporate headquarters in Oak Brook, Ill. The pressure was enough to cause CEO Don Thompson this summer to capitulate and endorse President Obama's call to raise the federal minimum to $10.10 an hour from $7.25. Many states have already enacted wage floors above the federal minimum.

If higher wages force higher prices on the menu, will union-backed activist groups agree to compensate McDonald's franchisees for futures sales declines? We're guessing not. So we'll offer the chain some free consulting and suggest that with sales slipping lately, higher prices probably aren't the way to draw more customers. Alternatively, McDonald's could cut its beef costs by changing its popular burger to a fifth-of-a-pounder and hope nobody notices.

The McDonald's earnings report on Tuesday gave a hint at how the fast-food chain really plans to respond to its wage and profit pressure-automate. As many contributors to these pages have warned, forcing businesses to pay people out of proportion to the profits they generate will provide those businesses with a greater incentive to replace employees with machines.

By the third quarter of next year, McDonald's plans to introduce new technology in some markets "to make it easier for customers to order and pay for food digitally and to give people the ability to customize their orders," reports the Journal. Mr. Thompson, the CEO, said Tuesday that customers "want to personalize their meals" and "to enjoy eating in a contemporary, inviting atmosphere. And they want choices in how they order, choices in what they order and how they're served."

That is no doubt true, but it's also a convenient way for Mr. Thompson to justify a reduction in the chain's global workforce. It's also a way to send a message to franchisees about the best way to reduce their costs amid slow sales growth. In any event, consumers better get used to the idea of ordering their Big Macs on a touchscreen.

Entry-level fast-food jobs have never been intended to support an entire family. So-called quick-service restaurants provide opportunities to lots of young people with few skills and limited experience. Across all industries, about two-thirds of minimum-wage workers who stay employed get a raise in the first year.

Amid a historically slow economic recovery, 1970s labor-participation rates and stagnant middle-class incomes, we understand that people are frustrated. Harder to understand is how so many of our media brethren have been persuaded that suddenly it's the job of America's burger joints to provide everyone with good pay and benefits. The result of their agitation will be more jobs for machines and fewer for the least skilled workers.



New Arizona law blocks Obamacare enforcement mechanism

A bill signed into law by Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey creates significant roadblocks for implementation of the Affordable Care Act, leaving the federal program without an enforcement mechanism in the state.

Sponsored by Rep. Justin Olson and Rep. Vince Leach, HB2643 prohibits the state of Arizona from "from using any personnel or financial resources to enforce, administer or cooperate with the Affordable Care Act."

"If the federal government is going to enact a law, then the federal government needs to enforce that law," Olson said. "We're not going to do it."

The Senate approved HB2643 by a 16-10 vote with minutes remaining in the regular session. The House passed the legislation 34-24


HB2643 not only blocks the state from setting up a state-run exchange, but also prohibits Arizona employees from helping residents enroll in a federally operated exchange.

The new law also bans "funding or aiding in the prosecution of any entity for a violation of the [federal health care] act." This will prohibit the Arizona Department of Insurance (DOI) from investigating or enforcing any of the federally mandated health insurance requirements in the PPACA.

Tenth Amendment Center national communications director Mike Maharrey said this will prove particularly problematic for the feds because state insurance departments and commissioners serve as the enforcement arm for insurance regulations in the states. When residents have issues with their mandated coverage in Arizona, they will have to call the feds.

"That's going to prove a bit problematic," Maharrey said. "Disputes about these mandates arise under federal, not state law. The federal Department of Health and Human Services can't commandeer the Arizona Department of Insurance to force it to investigate alleged violations of PPACA mandates. Congress passed a law and failed to establish any enforcement mechanism, unless you count IRS enforcement of the mandate penalty - or tax - or whatever they're calling it. I guess people can call the IRS with their insurance issues."

Additionally, the law expressly prohibits the state from "Limiting the availability of self?funded health insurance programs or the reinsurance or other products that are traditionally used with self?funded health insurance programs."

Self-insured health plans remain exempt from many of the taxes and mandates that Obamacare imposes on businesses and individuals. The NY Post called moving to these plans an "escape hatch." According to Jack Biltis at Forbes, "Moving to a partially self-funded (aka partially self-insured) plan allows an employer to overcome most of the burdensome regulations and taxes, potentially reducing insurance costs by 40 -80 percent."

Maharrey said the new Arizona law represents step toward doing what Congress won't - repealing the federal health care act.

"In Federalist 46, James Madison said states should refuse to cooperate with officers of the Union when the federal government passes `unwarrantable measures.' Obamacare is the epitome of unwarrantable. This tangle of regulations and mandates that seems to mostly benefit big insurance companies is a disaster of epic proportions and needs to be dismantled before it causes irreparable damage to the U.S. economy," he said. "Congress won't ever repeal it, but if enough states follow Arizona's lead, we can simply make the thing collapse under its own weight and open the door for a better approach to health care in America."



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