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17 August 2013

'Toons of the Day: Time Is Not On Their Side

Political Cartoons by Steve Breen

Political Cartoons by Glenn McCoy

Political Cartoons by Glenn Foden

Obama Suspends the Law. What Would Lincoln Say?


 The current president's hero tried to abide by the Constitution and enlist Congress's support.

By Nicholas Quinn Rosenkranz

The Obama administration announced last month via blog post that the president was unilaterally suspending ObamaCare's employer mandate—notwithstanding the clear command of the law. President Obama's comments about it on Aug. 9—claiming that "the normal thing [he] would prefer to do" is seek a "change to the law"—then added insult to constitutional injury. It also offers a sharp contrast with a different president who also suspended the law.

On April 27, 1861, President Lincoln unilaterally authorized his commanding general to suspend the writ of habeas corpus so that he could detain dangerous rebels in the early days of the Civil War. Lincoln's order was constitutionally questionable. The Constitution provides that "The privilege of the Writ of Habeas Corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in Cases of Rebellion or Invasion the public Safety may require it." 

A rebellion was in progress, so suspension was permissible. But the Constitution doesn't specify who can suspend the writ in such circumstances. Since the Suspension Clause appears in Article I of the Constitution, which is predominantly about the powers of Congress, there is a strong argument that only Congress can suspend the habeas writ.  

Lincoln's order was legally dubious, but what he did next showed remarkable constitutional rectitude. On July 4, 1861, he delivered a solemn message to Congress, in which he did everything possible to square his action with the Constitution. In this message, he set forth the best possible constitutional arguments that he had unilateral power to suspend the writ. These arguments may have been wrong, but they were serious, and they were presented seriously, in good faith. 

Lincoln also made a powerful argument about the necessity of his action. Even if he was wrong, and only Congress had the power to suspend the writ, surely the circumstances had to be considered: Congress was in recess and the South was in open rebellion. "The whole of the laws which were required to be faithfully executed, were being resisted, and failing of execution, in nearly one-third of the states," Lincoln said to Congress. 

Should Lincoln have refrained from suspending habeas, if doing so meant that the republic would fall? As he put it: "[A]re all the laws, but one, to go unexecuted, and the government itself go to pieces, lest that one be violated?

Lincoln also invited Congress to ratify his actions: "Whether there shall be any legislation upon the subject, and, if any, what, is submitted entirely to the better judgment of Congress." On Aug, 6, 1861, Congress did indeed retroactively ratify "all the acts, proclamations, and orders of the President . . . respecting the army and navy of the United States." And later, on March 3, 1863, Congress expressly authorized the president to suspend the writ. 

Scholars have debated whether Lincoln exceeded his power by suspending the writ and whether Congress's retroactive ratification cured any constitutional infirmity. Whatever one's answer, this is a case of a president—himself a constitutional lawyer—trying, under impossible circumstances, to be as faithful to the Constitution as possible. 

Contrast all of this with President Obama's announcement that he is unilaterally suspending part of the Affordable Care Act. Like Lincoln, Mr. Obama is a constitutional lawyer. And like Lincoln's action, Mr. Obama's was a unilateral executive suspension of the law. But in every other way, the president's behavior could not have been more different from Lincoln's.

First, Lincoln's action was at least arguably constitutional, while Mr. Obama's is not. The Constitution has a provision for suspending habeas. It has no general provision for executive suspension of laws. English kings used to suspend laws, but the Framers rejected that practice: The president "shall take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed." 

Second, Lincoln volunteered an articulate constitutional defense of his action. Mr. Obama seemed annoyed when the New York Times dared to ask him the constitutional question. When the reporter asked whether he had consulted with lawyers about the legality of the mandate's delay, he declined to answer. 

As for Republican congressmen who had the temerity to question his authority, Mr. Obama said only: "I'm not concerned about their opinions—very few of them, by the way, are lawyers, much less constitutional lawyers." Mr. Obama made no mention of Iowa Sen. Tom Harkin—a Democrat, a lawyer and one of the authors of ObamaCare—who said: "This was the law. How can they change the law?" 

Third, Lincoln offered a brilliant and compelling argument about the necessity of his action, given that the republic was in imminent danger. Mr. Obama's official version of the constitutional-necessity argument was nothing more than a breezy blog post attributed to an assistant secretary for tax policy. The title? "Continuing to Implement the ACA in a Careful, Thoughtful Manner." 

Fourth, and most strikingly, Lincoln promptly looked to Congress to ratify his unilateral action. Congress agreed with Lincoln, and the president welcomed and signed new legislation. President Obama says only that he wishes he could follow the same course. Last week, he said he would like to "simply call up the Speaker" of the House to request a "change to the law" that would achieve his desired delay. 

In fact, as the president knows, he doesn't even need to pick up the phone: On July 17, the House of Representatives passed the Authority for Mandate Delay Act (with 229 Republicans and 35 Democrats voting in favor). This would authorize President Obama's desired suspension of the law, just as Congress ratified Lincoln's suspension of habeas corpus. 

But unlike Lincoln, President Obama doesn't welcome this congressional ratification. He has called the House bill that fixes the constitutional problem he created "unnecessary," and he threatened to veto it. Why? Because the House also passed a companion bill that would delay the individual mandate too. For political reasons, the president doesn't want to be in the inconvenient position of signing one bill that would give companies a reprieve from ObamaCare, while vetoing another that would grant individuals the same delay. The Democratic-controlled Senate will quietly kill the House bill and save Mr. Obama the awkwardness of having to veto it. 

Faced with military exigencies, Lincoln did everything possible to enlist Congress's support—and thus to follow the Constitution. Mr. Obama, faced with mere political and bureaucratic inconveniences, spurned Congress's support and flouted the Constitution.

Mr. Rosenkranz is a professor of law at Georgetown and a senior fellow in constitutional studies at the Cato Institute.

Clowning Around

A former clown reflects on the Obama circus’s creeping Stalinoidism.

By Happy Jack Feder

I’m surprised, in the efforts to lynch the Obama Clown and brainwash other cowboys with sensitivity training, that the Obama regime and cronies have failed to recount one of my favorite Stalin stories from long ago. 

After a hard day’s work, Uncle Joe blessed a Moscow circus with his presence. The clowns performed a bit that contained (what Stalin perceived as) political commentary obliquely critical of him. Yet the audience roared with delight at the funny clowns!

True to form, Stalin had his armed guards line up the clowns in center ring and execute them, on the spot. 

Then, as a clever follow-up on Stalin’s part, he had the guards turn their guns on the audience and slaughter dozens. Call it a curtain call: it was curtains for all.

Oh, the dangers of mocking Great Leaders. 

As a young man I was for several carefree years a professional clown and juggler. I also wrote two books of clown and mime performance routines which, in the tiny genre of professional clown literature, are what pass as standards (or so I like to think). I’ve given a lot of intellectual effort to un-intellectual humor.

My experience informs me that nothing brings a bigger laugh than cartoon violence inflicted on the performer. Many a roar of guffaws I elicited by SMACKING! the floor with a prat fall, BANGING! my noggin with a hammer, CRASHING! off a chair onto my kiester, SHOOTING! my face with a hunting rifle (filled with water, and sundry other self-inflicted assaults, KABOOM! smoking my exploding cigar. HA HA HA! Universal and timeless humor. 

The audiences, mostly kids age 5 to 10 (the older ones were too cool, the younger ones ran away from me in screaming horror) loved the gags. Adults too.

Were my stunts code words to the audience to commit violence? It’s true that many a seven-year-old boy felt free to throw a fork or pizza slice at me, and on occasion land a hefty punch in the crown jewels, but for the most part, the response was a cathartic laughter. And often, I was touched by the little child who’d hug my leg and say “I love you, Mr. Clown!” 

I can also tell you that, except for liberal activist politically correct clowns (who in truth are nothing more than Alinsky-ites subverting an establishment art form for propaganda purposes), your basic, hard-working, underpaid clown uses the same jokes and gags on the newly inaugurated president as he did on the retiring president. Yes, even I simply transformed a few Jimmy gags onto Ronnie.

You can bet your bottom dollar that if the nefarious Missouri clown had come across an equally cartoonish mask of George W., he would have performed the same bit with the bulls as he did with the Obama mask. And Republicans would have laughed! Or if they booed, it would have been a laughing, good-natured sort of booing.

Vaclav Havel (if my memory is correct) wrote on how the inability of a powerful leader to laugh at himself was both the sure sign of decadence, corruption, and incapacity, as well as a sign that he was on his way out, if only in the eye of the public. 

When a President and his ilk can’t laugh along with a  timeless, harmless, sure-fire gag about Himself, Joe Public smells a fish — and there’s to be a clown who will pull a rubber fish out of an Obama look-a-like’s pants. HA! HA! HA!

British Judge Orders Sterilisation of Man with Learning Difficulties

By  Charles C. W. Cooke

Here is a sentence I never wanted to read in an English newspaper: “Man with learning difficulties to be sterilised in unprecedented court ruling.” According to the Telegraph:

Mrs Justice Eleanor King, sitting in the Court of Protection, said there was “no question” of the 36-year-old having the mental capacity to use contraception and that it was “lawful and overwhelmingly in his best interests” to be sterilised.

The man, identified only as DE, and his long-term girlfriend who also has learning difficulties, had a son in 2010.

As a result, measures were taken to take to prevent another pregnancy and DE was required to be supervised at all times, effectively losing his limited but “hard-won” independence.

The consequences were “profound” for both families and the judge noted that the couple’s long-standing relationship “nearly broke under the strain, but remarkably weathered the storm”.

The last sentence is a chilling example of soulless utilitarianism; of the tendency to subjugate the human condition and the rights of man to the sum of their externalities. Even if she and the man’s carers are correct in their assessment, is it really the role of the judicial branch to determine whether a couple’s relationship “breaks” or not, or whether the consequences of a man’s having children are “profound” or immaterial? One is indeed welcome to be sterilized if that is what one wishes. But to be ordered?
For all the temptation to cry “Eugenics,” this is not quite H. G. Wells arguing for a regime that is

shaped primarily to favour the procreation of what is fine and efficient and beautiful in humanity […]and to check the procreation of base and servile types, of fear-driven and cowardly souls, of all that is mean and ugly and bestial in the souls, bodies, or habits of men.

Nevertheless, the legal precedent is worrying. There are many people in England who would presumably be more independent and have stronger relationships if they were unable to produce children. I’m by no means convinced that we want judges making the call as to who they are.


'Carrie Buck, "Three Generations, No Imbeciles, But A Mandate'
'War Against the Weak--Eugenics and America's Campaign to Create a Master Race'
Progressivism, Eugenics, and the Jewish Butcher of Buchenwald
Progressives' Dirty, Little Secret
When It Comes To Abortion, Progressives Can Be Counted On To Fully Reveal Their Racism And Ignorance
'Being A Progressive Means Never Having To Admit That You Were Wrong Or Saying You're Sorry.'
How Progressives Killed Robert Goldstein Through Censorship, Police State Tactics, Unconstitutional Laws, & Railroading All The Way Into A Cattlecar On The Road To A Nazi Concentration Camp
Sterilisation in America
Eugenics And The Nazis — The California Connection
The Left’s Lie About Fascism Will Outlive Cockroaches In A Nuclear Winter
The Nation's Top 50 Progressives… and Socialists and Communists

The Citizen of the World Presidency

Disasters are overtaking our nation without any real response from the White House. Who does not feel a growing sense of unease as our allies, facing repeated instances of an amateurish and confused administration, reluctantly conclude that America is unwilling or unable to fulfill its obligations as leader of the free world? Who does not feel rising alarm when the question in any discussion of foreign policy is no longer “Should we do something,” but “Do we have the capacity to do anything?”

Today, China takes risky measures in Asian seas to show its neighbors who is boss in that region and builds its military power even as ours is reduced. Putin pressures nations in his orbit and brings a new age of KGB-style oppression to Russia. Iran moves steadily closer to a nuclear weapon in defiance of a hundred UN and IAEA resolutions and Obama speeches, and it is now bold enough to send troops to fight in Syria to protect its hold there on the shores of the Mediterranean and its alliance with the terrorist group Hezbollah. Our Arab allies in the Gulf see an America unwilling to act to protect its interests and theirs, and wonder if a hegemonic Iran will really displace the United States as the region’s dominant power. The wave of democratization in Latin America is now receding, and dictators rule in Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador, and Nicaragua. Cuba violates UN sanctions to do military trade with North Korea—and North Korea makes fools of the United States by taking our aid and improving its nuclear weapons and missiles. The world’s bright spots in these last four years—yes, things seem more stable and more democratic in Burma and Senegal—throw a mocking light on the rest.

And while this is happening, from Washington come not cries of alarm but the self-satisfaction of an administration that believes we are moving closer each year to our proper place in the “international community.”

Who does not feel a growing sense of unease, then, and who does not feel rising alarm? The answer may be the president who is the author of these policies, for they are doing just what they were meant to do. If not reversed, they will produce an America that is a “citizen of the world” like all the others, shorn of the ability to lead and believing that leadership means little more than hubris and risk. For Barack Obama, this will mean his foreign-policy ideas have won the day.