After conservatives on Thursday brought down House Speaker John Boehner’s bill to address the border crisis, the new House Republican leadership team issued a joint statement declaring that President Obama should fix the problem himself.Ah, so you think that Republicans suing Obama for using his executive authority, while urging him to use his executive authority is contradictory? Why, you've barely opened that crazy floating door into The Republican Zone.
“There are numerous steps the president can and should be taking right now, without the need for congressional action,” the leadership quartet proclaimed, “to secure our borders and ensure these children are returned swiftly and safely to their countries.”
Just the day before, House Republicans had voted to sue Obama for using his executive authority. They called him lawless, a usurper, a monarch, a tyrant — all for postponing deadlines in the implementation of Obamacare. Now they were begging him to take executive action to compensate for their own inability to act — even though, in this case, accelerating the deportation of thousands of unaccompanied children coming from Central America would likely require Obama to ignore a 2008 law.
Ross Douthat says that Republicans are not, are not, are not really thinking about impeaching President Obama. But they should be.
Over the last month, the Obama political apparatus — a close aide to the president, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and the “independent” voices at MSNBC — has been talking nonstop about an alleged Republican plan to impeach the president. John Boehner’s symbolic lawsuit against the White House has been dubbed “impeachment lite,” Sarah Palin’s pleas for attention have been creatively reinterpreted as G.O.P. marching orders, and an entire apocalyptic fund-raising campaign has been built around the specter of a House impeachment vote.See. See people! The GOP is totally not going to impeach Obama for being a tyrant, and the fact that people are talking about has nothing to do with umpteen Republican House members campaigning on how Obama should be impeached. No! It's all part of a plan to make the GOP look crazy, so that Obama can do do tyrannical things, for which he really should be impeached. So... the only solution is to impeach Obama! Oh, he's tricky. He's so tricky.
Anyone paying attention knows that no such impeachment plan is currently afoot. So taken on its own, the impeachment chatter would simply be an unseemly, un-presidential attempt to raise money and get out the 2014 vote.
But it isn’t happening in a vacuum, because even as his team plays the impeachment card with gusto, the president is contemplating — indeed, all but promising — an extraordinary abuse of office: the granting of temporary legal status, by executive fiat, to up to half the country’s population of illegal immigrants.
...in political terms, there is a sordid sort of genius to the Obama strategy. The threat of a unilateral amnesty contributes to internal G.O.P. chaos on immigration strategy, chaos which can then be invoked (as the president did in a Friday news conference) to justify unilateral action. The impeachment predictions, meanwhile, help box Republicans in: If they howl — justifiably! — at executive overreach, the White House gets to say “look at the crazies — we told you they were out for blood.”
Look, that signpost up ahead, it's... time to go past the jump...
Jonathan Capehart carries on the insanity.
The [Washington Post] articles on the House Republican revolt over the border bill and and the role Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) played in making it happen have nuggets of information that show why I’ve been harping about the possibility of impeachment since June.It's been obvious for years that Boehner is incapable of running the House effectively. It's also clear that the House likes it that way. Chaos suits them.
As the article on the revolt notes, Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and his allies said they had the votes to pass a border bill that not only speeded up deportations but also had a $659 million price tag, which was considerably less than the $3.7 billion President Obama asked for. And then the bill was pulled from the floor — like so many others before it.
With all the talk of Obama’s lawlessness, his imperial presidency, his shredding of the Constitution, his acting like a king, his unwillingness to follow the laws as written by Congress, his use of executive action, etc., Boehner’s caucus will be right to wonder why they aren’t punishing him while he is still in office. This will especially be so if Republicans succeed in taking over the Senate in November. Once that happens, if past is prologue, Cruz will be leading the charge and Boehner will be powerless to stop him.
Doyle McManus stares into that chaos.
The emergency immigration bill House Speaker John A. Boehner initially proposed last week was never going to become law — and he knew it. President Obama had already promised a veto, so the bill was mostly a political message, designed to show that House Republicans could act decisively in a crisis.Now, keep all this in mind as we move to the next bit.
Except they couldn't.
Tea party conservatives revolted, demanding a chance to undo Obama's decision to defer deportations of young immigrants. And the speaker added to the picture of disarray by calling on Obama to use more executive power in the border crisis — only a few days after authorizing a lawsuit against the president for excessive use of executive power.
The disaster was a public humiliation for both Boehner and his newly elevated majority leader, Kevin McCarthy (R-Bakersfield) — on McCarthy's first week in his new job.
But it was only the most recent of many such battles in the House Republicans' unresolved civil war.
Jonathan Turley looks at the mythology of impeachment.
People pushing for President Obama’s impeachment have cited rationales ranging from the border crisis to Benghazi to Obamacare to the dismantling of “our constitutional republic, our national security, our electoral system, our economic strength, our rights and liberties.” In other words, anything goes. This echoes the characterization by Gerald Ford, who as House minority leader in 1970 made the ill-considered statement that “an impeachable offense is whatever a majority of the House of Representatives considers it to be at a given moment in history.” (This interpretation was, not surprisingly, part of a frivolous effort to impeach Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas, whom Ford denounced for espousing “liberal opinions,” for defending the “filthy” Swedish film “I Am Curious (Yellow)” and for writing a magazine article that “praises the lusty, lurid, and risque along with the social protest of left-wing folk singers.”) ...Turley's piece is your read-it-all assignment for the morning (yes, even though Turley has testified against President Obama more than once). However, note that Turley's conclusion is that Obama will not be impeached, first because he's not committed an impeachable offense and second because it wouldn't make political sense. To which I say, please review the Capehart and McManus pieces to see how much either of these things actually matter in the current House.
But Congress’s exclusive power to impeach does not license it to abuse that power, any more than the Supreme Court’s final say on laws gives it license to deliver arbitrary rulings. The framers carefully defined the grounds for impeachment as “treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors” — language with British legal precedent. They clearly did not want removal of the president subject to congressional whim. Indeed, they rejected the addition of “maladministration” after James Madison cautioned that “so vague a term will be equivalent to a tenure during pleasure of the Senate.”
And hey, the next time you read a piece about Gerald Ford, great healer of the nation, who did the right thing by forgiving Nixon, remember that Ford wasn't so eager to forgive when the person in his crosshairs was a liberal.
Serge Schmemann does the political calculus on a trio of stories, including why this isn't just a repeat of every other time Israel went into Gaza.
This miniwar between Israel and Hamas is very different from previous ones.Israel... does not agree.
A central difference is in the way the “Arab spring” has altered the political calculations of the Arab states and their feelings toward Hamas. Egypt, now back under military rulers hostile to Islamists, along with Saudi Arabia and other Persian Gulf autocracies, have not-so-secretly welcomed Israel’s campaign to crush Hamas. That has reduced the ranks of mediators Washington can draw on to lean on the Islamic militants. Mahmoud Abbas, the leader in the West Bank, has little sway over Hamas, despite a purported political alliance formed in April; the United Nations, which joined Washington in seeking a cease-fire, has no credibility with Israel after decades of lopsided votes against the Jewish state. So Mr. Kerry has been compelled to work through Qatar and Turkey, two states that can still communicate with Hamas.
But Hamas itself has no urgent reason to end the fighting. As in the past, the huge toll in civilian lives, along with the tragic strikes on schools, beaches and homes, have roused an international outcry against Israel. Hamas evidently believes that sustaining the fighting can eventually rouse enough international pressure on Israel to compel it to open Gaza and release Palestinian prisoners.
Roger Cohen looks at why Americans continue to support Israel, even when almost no one else does.
To cross the Atlantic to America, as I did recently from London, is to move from one moral universe to its opposite in relation to Israel’s war with Hamas in Gaza. Fury over Palestinian civilian casualties has risen to a fever pitch in Europe, moving beyond anti-Zionism into anti-Semitism (often a flimsy distinction). Attacks on Jews and synagogues are the work of a rabid fringe, but anger toward an Israel portrayed as indiscriminate in its brutality is widespread. ...Sorry, world. Get back to us when you need something blown up. More blown up.
In the United States, by contrast, support for Israel remains strong (although less so among the young, who are most exposed to the warring hashtags of social media). That support is overwhelming in political circles. Palestinian suffering remains near taboo in Congress. It is not only among American Jews, better organized and more outspoken than their whispering European counterparts, that the story of a nation of immigrants escaping persecution and rising from nowhere in the Holy Land resonates. The Israeli saga — of courage and will — echoes in American mythology, far beyond religious identification, be it Jewish or evangelical Christian. ...
Oppressed people will respond. Millions of Palestinians are oppressed. They are routinely humiliated and live under Israeli dominion. When Jon Stewart is lionized (and slammed in some circles) for “revealing” Palestinian suffering to Americans, it suggests how hidden that suffering is. The way members of Congress have been falling over one another to demonstrate more vociferous support for Israel is a measure of a political climate not conducive to nuance. This hardly serves America’s interests, which lie in a now infinitely distant peace between Israelis and Palestinians, and will require balanced American mediation.
Ruth Marcus looks at the ups, downs, and sidewayses of Richard Nixon.
Just when you thought you could no longer be shocked by Nixon’s willingness to abuse power, his seething resentments and paranoia and his florid anti-Semitism, another round of tapes emerges. ...Marcus shows how silly it is that "-gate" gets appended to every perceived political scandal, because nothing comes close to the levels of duplicity that encompassed Watergate. Or maybe... WMD-gate?
In Watergate, the crime, it turns out, was even worse than the coverup. “I want it implemented on a thievery basis,” Nixon explodes at aides. “Goddamn it, get in there and get those files. Blow the safe and get it.”
Nixon is referring to an earlier, aborted plan to burglarize the Brookings Institution. By the time of the break-in at the Democratic National Committee — and it took the bungling burglars several attempts — Nixon had already orchestrated a burglary at the office of Daniel Ellsberg’s psychiatrist.
Lawrence Downes looks at how legalization is working out for Colorado.
For seven months Coloradans have been lawfully smoking joints and inhaling cannabis vapors, chewing marijuana-laced candies and chocolates, drinking, cooking and lotioning with products infused with cannabis oil. They are growing their own weed, making their own hash oil and stocking up at dispensaries marked with green crosses and words like “health,” “wellness” and “natural remedies.” Tourists are joining in — gawking, sampling and tripping in hotel rooms. Business is growing, taxes are flowing, cannabis entrepreneurs are building, investing and cashing in.Dear other states, apparently you would rather spend taxes on overflowing prisons than to make money from legal sales tax. So... are you sure it's marijuana that makes you stupid?
Cannabis sales from January through May brought the state about $23.6 million in revenue from taxes, licenses and fees. That is not a huge amount in a $24 billion budget, but it’s a lot more than zero, and it’s money that was not pocketed by the black market. ...
The ominously predicted harms from legalization — like blight, violence, soaring addiction rates and other ills — remain imaginary worries. Burglaries and robberies in Denver, in fact, are down from a year ago. The surge of investment and of jobs in construction, tourism and other industries, on the other hand, is real.
NASA isn't actually calling a holiday from the laws of physics, but...
Nasa is a major player in space science, so when a team from the agency this week presents evidence that "impossible" microwave thrusters seem to work, something strange is definitely going on. Either the results are completely wrong, or Nasa has confirmed a major breakthrough in space propulsion.Which may not sound like a revolution, be trust me, it is. Essentially, this is an unequal reaction -- thrust without propellant. Either that, or a big screw up in measurement, which at the moment is far more likely. Stay tuned.
...a US scientist, Guido Fetta, has built his own propellant-less microwave thruster, and managed to persuade Nasa to test it out. The test results were presented on July 30 at the 50th Joint Propulsion Conference in Cleveland, Ohio. Astonishingly enough, they are positive.
The Nasa team based at the Johnson Space Centre gave its paper the title "Anomalous Thrust Production from an RF [radio frequency] Test Device Measured on a Low-Thrust Torsion Pendulum".