Spring Snow Hits Denver. Warming Alarmists Hardest Hit…Literally.

The weekend is in the history books, but we’ll always have the memories. Like when the climate action marchers protesting the new administration and Americans’ stubborn refusal to carbon tax ourselves back to the stone age got hit by a Spring snowblast. Now, every adult with an IQ higher than his or her age knows that a weather event does not equal climate. But climatistas and some celebrities and politicians haven’t gotten the memo. They are so tediously predictable and wrong in jumping to blame every tornado, hurricane, forest fire, dry spell, hot spell, or flood on “climate change.”  Life must have been a paradise before indoor heating and the internal combustion engine.

Warm earthers making their point.
Photo credit: KUSA

So, when they take to the streets to protest how modern civilization is torching the planet, only to get a cold wet dumping two days before May, well, it’s hard not to have one’s heart warmed a little by the schnowdenfreude.

Coors Field the day warming passed the critical point.
Photo: Colorado Rockies.

Leftist Judicial Philosophy: Heads we Win. Tails Trump Loses.

Last week, a federal judge in San Francisco issued a lawless order declaring it is okay for cities to establish policies and welfare and law enforcement practices that ignore federal immigration law, but it is unconstitutional for the Trump administration to withhold federal dollars from the scofflaw cities. Well, the Supreme Court will see about that. In the meantime, the Left is having a hard time stifling its gloating over the string of federal judges who have been eager to play piñata with Trump’s immigration policies.

 

Senior Legal Editor for Slate Magazine Dahlia Lithwick gloated “Trump can’t win his battle with the judges.” My purpose here is not to track the legal arguments over defunding sanctuary cities or targeting immigration restrictions at certain nations. Rather, it’s to shine a light on the casino house rules the Left tries to enforce in the courts.

 

The gist of Lithwick’s argument is that Trump is a blunderbuss who huffs and puffs wordwinds, but judges are careful stewards of the law who apply the text and reach prescribed results. They bristle at the suggestion there is anything political about their swings and hits and batting average.
 

“Here is one thing I can say for certain about judges: In addition to having a generalized and free-floating anxiety about public attacks on their legitimacy and authority, they resent deeply any efforts to say that words—the sole implement of their craft—have no meaning or that those meanings are inchoate and shifting and may expand or contract with the president’s hastily tweeted words or fleeting feelings.”

 

Aside from Lithwick’s sleight of hand in switching the gusts out of Trump’s mouth or twitter account for the text of his executive orders (is she suggesting judges have to parse Trump’s public prose to review his written orders?) she also executes a startling somersault about the Left’s conception of the proper role of the judiciary. Since judicial construction or interpretive philosophy entered public consciousness during the Bork confirmations hearings, liberals have insisted strict construction, originalism, or other forms of adherence to dead text is a dead end for public justice. Fair rulings require a living Constitution, flexibility of statutes so judges can plumb behind the words to identity the intent of the legislature, and other tools that essentially liberate judges from following the law, and empower them to enhance the law.
 
Lithwick herself has been one of the bearers of these tidings. In a 2010 interview on NPR, she dismissed John Roberts’ metaphor that judges are umpires; they don’t call the plays or play the game, they call ball, strike, fair, foul, safe out.
 
“It made judges look like they were robots who really didn’t matter what their preexisting views were because all they do is, quote, ‘apply the facts to the law.’ But while it was clever, I think it’s really disserved the judiciary, because it makes it look as though judging is easy, and it’s just not.”
 
Well, it certainly takes verbal dexterity to perform the semantic gymnastics Lithwick favors over Neanderthal originalism. In a 2005 NPR interview, Lithwick discussed response she received when she invited readers to send her defenses of originalism or of a living constitution. She found the arguments of originalists quite angry and the submissions for a living Constitution brilliant and nuanced. Lithwick sums up that restraining judges to law with fixed meaning is It’s “very, very critically important, but I don’t think it gets you where you need to go in most of the hard, hard, close cases.”
 
So there we have it from Slate’s Senior Political Editor. Judges need a verbal free hand to reach just results—until they are accused of applying a political agenda to thwart a president. And then, don’t be silly. They are just doing their job and following the law.
 
 

Weekend Heroics: Medal of Honor Winner Roy Benavidez, cited by Ronald Reagan For Unimaginable Bravery and Service.

This is one of the most incredible things I’ve ever heard. It takes President Reagan five minutes to read the just-the-facts citation for the Medal of Honor, which had me in misty-eyed awe. Sergeant Benavidez then humbly fills in background and details that blow away the bare bones narrative.

Teaser: The heroics leading to the Medal of Honor award happened after Sergeant Benavidez previously had been grievously wounded and told he’d never walk again. He stubbornly fought the prognosis and a mandatory medical discharge and demanded to go back to Vietnam.

One YouTube comment: “Best spent 25 min of my life on Youtube.” Another comment: “J____ C_____ this guy did more in five minutes than I’ll do in my entire life.”

I thank my friend Tim Ziegler for posting this video on Facebook. Watch, enjoy, and be humbled and inspired.

 

Yes, Virginia, There Is Such A Thing As Constitutional Executive Orders

The Washington insider publication The Hill recently ran a breathless piece proclaiming that President Trump is “using executive orders at an unprecedented pace” and in a “whirlwind” he has unleashed “a rash of executive orders.” This focus on quantity, rather than quality, or more precisely, substantive nature, misses a key Constitutional point: There is nothing per se wrong or problematic with executive orders. It depends on who is being ordered to do what.
 
The president has authority to issue orders to the executive branch within the law. The key issue is whether the order directs the priorities or operations of the executive branch regarding how it enforces existing law. That is entirely proper. What is improper, indeed, unconstitutional, is if the order alters the rights or obligations of citizens in a way not provided by law, in other words, if the president effectively legislates by order.
 
It appears that at least one of Trump’s orders has crossed that line on an issue in which President Obama also abused his authority. Both presidents issued orders that altered the operation and effect of the Affordable Care Act in a way that conflicts with the plain language of the statute (at least that’s how Trump’s order was reported). The question isn’t whether the changes are sensible, or better than the existing statute. It is whether the order attempts to change statute. That is not a proper executive power.
 
Some observers note that Obama did not issue a particularly large number of orders compared to his predecessors. This again misses the point. By the content of his orders, the president often tried to alter the law of the land. A report by the Heritage Foundation cites numerous examples: As noted, he effectively amended Obamacare several times. He waived corporate reporting requirements to prevent bad economic news from coming out during the 2012 election season. He acted to unilaterally raise the minimum wage of employees of federal contractors. He upended immigration law and tried to grant legal work status to immigrants barred by law. He exempted school districts from some of the requirements of No Child Left Behind if they would adopt the administration’s preferred policies, such as Common Core.
 
In contrast, virtually all of Trump’s executive orders pertain to matters already within the authority of executive agencies or to reversing prior executive orders by Obama. For example, he directed the Education Department to review Obama era rules and regulations over K-12 Education. He directed the Department of Commerce to study the factors contributing to America’s trade deficit with certain nations. Trump is acting to remove barriers Obama erected to arctic drilling. He directed the Interior Department to study the Obama administrations methodology in using the Antiquities Act to seize millions of acres of undeveloped land without action by Congress.
 
None of those orders purport to change governing law (except in the case of removing improper “law” that Obama previously imposed). They are all proper exercises of directing the executive branch.
 

There’s another reason Trump might lean heavily on executive orders. Following eight years of Obama and decades of unchecked growth, overreach, and power grabs, the federal bureaucracy is a hard beast to tame. It is notoriously aggressive, unaccountable, and hostile to the intentions of Trump or any president that would attempt to rein it in. Issuing orders regarding specific reforms highlights the issues, gives purpose and presidential approval to cabinet secretaries implementing the policy, and may add to grounds to dismiss resistant bureaucrats for insubordination.

Given the stakes and the magnitude of the task, it is likely the stream of orders will continue. And if properly directed, that is a good thing. People who equate executive order with abuse of power are misunderstanding.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Elizabeth Warren Blows the Whistle on Obama, Sort Of.

Heh. Faucahontas Warren has concerns about Wall Street Barack. Sen. Elizabeth Warren says she’s concerned about former president Barack Obama raking in a $400,000 fee for an upcoming speech at a Wall Street Conference:

“I was troubled by that,” the Massachusetts Democrat said Thursday on SiriusXM’s “Alter Family Politics.” “One of the things I talk about in the book (“This Fight Is Our Fight: The Battle to Save America’s Middle Class”) is the influence of money. I describe it as a snake that slithers through Washington and that it shows up in so many different ways here in Washington.”

While it’s reasonable to wonder what Obama delivers that justifies his lavish payday,  there are several odd things about Warren’s outburst of scruples. First, it’s a private organization and Barack Obama is now a private citizen. He does not wield the levers of government, oversee  lucrative public contracts, or steer large government grants.

Second, where was the good senator’s Wall Street phobia when the president peopled the highest ranks of his administration with bankers from the empire? When he refused for two terms to prosecute a single scoundrel with dirty hands in the 2008 financial crisis? Was she sounding the alarm about the potential for money influencing the president then, when he was the most powerful man on earth?

For that matter, how was the “troubled” senator able to rouse herself to be Hillary Clinton’s biggest champion and surrogate during the 2016 campaign? Hillary gave $2 and $3,00,000 speeches to rich and powerful interests with regularity. And this at a time she was expected to be the next president of the United States. Clearly there was a lot more for potential sale in her tawdry transactions than there is now in the former president’s portfolio.

And lastly, while Warren fashions herself, with enthusiastic media complicity, as the scourge of the wealthy and the champion of the little guy, the facts are pungent with a different aroma. Warren is no stranger to the perks of privilege and ways to work the system. The fair haired Oklahoman’s career has benefited greatly from her undocumented claim of Indian heritage. She made a small fortune in distressed real estate, employing the buy-low-sell-high tactics that any good operator would, but that seem to gratingly clash with her pronouncements against profiteering and taking advantage of the poor and vulnerable.

Most recently she used creative accounting to avoid disclosing a $1.3 million line of credit on her $2 million Cambridge home. Rhetoric aside, Warren is no slacker in the ways of the shyster. Watching so many rich operator politicians criticize rich operator business people in a play for the support and votes of working Americans, one can’t help but think it’s all a cynical charade. Maybe that’s why they’re losing their audience to Trump and they’re in a panic.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Trump/DeVos Looking to Pull the Federal Boot Off Education’s Back.

Keeping a campaign promise, President Trump signed an executive order yesterday directing Education Secretary Betsy DeVos to review federal overreach into state and local management of K-12 education. On the campaign trail, Trump had promised to try to pull Washington back and restore authority to states and communities.

 
This is good news for education for several reasons. Washington’s involvement in education creates a redundant layer of control and expense without adding value to teaching or learning in the classroom. Congress isn’t and shouldn’t be a 535 member national school board governing from the East Coast. An institution laboring under the dysfunctional leadership of partisans like Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi, Mitch McConnell or Paul Ryan, should stick to trying to clean up the federal government’s act, not sticking their noses into local classrooms.
 
Similarly, the United States Department of Education isn’t and shouldn’t be a super national District Administration pulling strings across the country. But that’s close to the reality of the the federal impact. Compliance with rules, regulations, red tape, and passing whims of national figures (Michelle Obama’s misguided lunch crusade comes to mind) creates huge administrative burden and expense for school districts. A lot of district professional and legal staff is driven by the need to track, understand, and comply with federal statutes, regulations, and “guidance letters.”
 
It would be one thing if the national burden improved classroom results. But, there’s no evidence this is the case. The Department did not even exist until October of 1979, and was birthed by Jimmy Carter as a reward to the national teachers union for endorsing his run for president. Since then, student achievement and test scores have not improved, but have continued to languish in mediocrity relative to other advanced nations.
 

A serious problem in addressing the unhelpful behemoth is that interest groups, particularly union interests, treat criticism of the federal role as if it were criticism of the concept of education, as if pulling Washington’s paws back were the same thing as razing the local school house. When interest group power grabs meet political grandstanding and fearfulness, good policy suffers.

American communities elect local school boards and state legislatures. These institutions have all the authority and resources necessary to administer a quality education system, and did a good job for most of America’s history. Transferring more power and money to DC has not improved education. The former bodies are closer to, more representative of, and more accessible to the families they serve than the remote federal government. Trump’s directive to DeVos to figure out how to restore more authority to states and communities is a healthy step. It doesn’t actually grant her any additional power as she already has authority to administer and change Department priorities and actions. It does, though, give direction and stature to her task and demonstrate that she has the president’s support in her efforts.

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