Impeachment? Seriously?

The Democrats are salivating at the idea that Republicans might try to impeach President Obama. They think, perhaps, that impeachment is the one thing that could salvage Obama’s second term. In the meantime, they are furiously raising money with the claim that Republicans are bent on impeachment. The Blaze offers a rather comical account:

The notion of impeaching President Barack Obama got substantial attention Friday from two White House officials, who both said senior Republicans wanted to see it happen. But they couldn’t name any senior Republicans when pressed.

Further, White House press secretary Josh Earnest expressed doubt about whether House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) was sincere when he said impeachment is not on the table. …

The topic first made news Friday after Dan Pfeiffer, a counselor to the president, told a Christian Science Monitor breakfast: “I would not discount that possibility. I think Speaker Boehner, by going down the path of this lawsuit, has opened the door to Republicans possibly considering impeachment at some in the future.”

As far as I know, Sarah Palin is the only Republican of any stature who has talked about impeachment. There is no such movement afoot in the House. But the Democrats don’t care; fundraising is always priority number one for them, and talk of impeachment is catnip to their base. I get several emails a day from various Democratic Party organizations soliciting donations to combat the alleged threat of impeachment. This one, which came in today from my good friend Nancy, is typical. Click to enlarge file size:

ImpeachmentEmail06

Note that the Democrats say “Congress” voted to sue Obama. Actually, of course, it was the House. But the Democrats don’t want to admit that they control the Senate, and they frequently talk about Congress as though it were all Republican. To take advantage of those low approval ratings, I assume. Reportedly, the Democrats are raising a great deal of money with these impeachment scare appeals.

Is there any reason why Republicans should think seriously about impeaching the president? He certainly has committed impeachable offenses, as I have written before. He has failed to “take care that the laws be faithfully executed,” and on the contrary has deliberately subverted the rule of law with respect to immigration and other important subjects. Further, he has misused the powers of the executive branch to harass and intimidate his political opponents. These are precisely the sorts of offenses for which the constitutional remedy of impeachment was intended.

However, impeachment is a political remedy, not a legal one. Is there significant support in the electorate for such a drastic step? Some have gotten excited over polls like this one, in which 36% said that they favor impeachment. But that is a pretty typical number for a second-term president, and the 36% are overwhelmingly Republicans. Lots of Democrats wanted to impeach George W. Bush, too, but their party’s leaders were too smart to attempt that after they took control of Congress for the last two years of Bush’s second term.

Old-timers remember the Nixon impeachment drama, but for most voters, “impeachment” conjures up the Republicans’ well-intentioned but politically disastrous effort to remove Bill Clinton. That is the precedent to which the Democrats now appeal, and it is not an experience that Republicans should want to re-live. Not unless events drastically change the political landscape.

Obama rejects Kurds’ plea for help against ISIS

President Obama famously failed to act when warned that ISIS was preparing to mount an offensive in Western Iraq. This left ISIS free to conquer, with virtually no resistance, city after city in the defense of which American soldiers have shed blood.

Now Obama is receiving new warnings, this time from the Kurds in Northern Iraq. In fact, according to the Washington Post, the Kurds are “pleading for U.S. military aid.”

Unlike the Iraqi government, the Kurds possess a viable military that is prepared to fight ISIS. Indeed, they are fighting ISIS, and fairly effectively.

However, the Kurds now have a 650 mile border to defend, thanks to the abandonment of the area by Iraq’s military forces. Thus, the Kurdish forces are stretched extremely thin.

The Kurds should be receiving a share of the weapons the U.S. is supplying to the Iraqi government. But that, of course, isn’t happening. Mansour Barzani, the Kurdistan Regional Government’s intelligence and security chief, told the Post that Baghdad hasn’t provided “a single bullet.”

Meanwhile, says the Post, the ISIS forces attacking the Kurds have seized weapons worth hundreds of millions of dollars from retreating Iraqi soldiers. In effect, Baghdad is supplying ISIS while providing the Kurds with nothing.

Unfortunately, but not surprisingly, the Obama administration has rejected Kurdish pleas for arms with which to fight ISIS. Its rationale is that assistance must come through the central government.

But the central government is (a) dysfunctional and (b) unwilling to lift a finger to help the Kurds in any case. In fact, the Iraq government’s unwillingness to “play nice” with the Kurds has been part of the Obama administration’s rationale for not doing more to help the government.

Unlike the government of Iraq, the Kurds are ready and willing to inflict defeat on ISIS. With assistance from the U.S. in the form of weaponry, the Kurds would probably be able to inflict that much-needed defeat.

It seems criminal for Obama to deny this assistance in the name of defending the interests of a central government that Obama has condemned for its dealings with the Kurds (among others).

ISIS is looking to establish a caliphate, and making good progress toward that end. Meanwhile, Obama dithers, using the Iraq government’s poor treatment of the Kurds as an excuse for not doing more to help it fight ISIS, and the Kurd’s natural animosity to the government as an excuse for not helping them.

It’s almost as if Obama is indifferent to the progress of ISIS and willing to embrace any excuse for standing idly by in the face of that progress.

Just For Fun, a Half Hour With C.J. Box

I hosted the Laura Ingraham radio show one day last week, and will be doing it again next week, both Wednesday and Thursday. We are working on lining up some good guests; please tune in if you have the opportunity.

Last week, one of my guests (along with Tom Cotton and Prof. Philip Hamburger, author of Is Administrative Law Unlawful?) was C.J. Box, one of America’s best-selling authors. C.J.–Chuck, to his friends–is a great guy and a fun interview. Here it is, courtesy of Laura’s producers, last week’s interview with C.J. Box. And, as a bonus, the last two segments are on immigration, with callers:

Hamas’s big plan disrupted

In an update providing the necessary context to Israel’s rejection of a ceasefire at this stage of its offensive in Gaza, The Israel Project‘s Omri Ceren writes:

Leaks have begun to trickle out on what Israeli interogators are learning from captured Hamas fighters. One plot in particular is getting overwhelming attention.

Hamas was apparently a few months away from conducting a mass attack on Israeli civilians during the upcoming Jewish holiday of Rosh Hashana, on September 24. The raid would have been like something out of a movie: hundreds of heavily-armed Hamas fighters would have emerged from over a dozen underground tunnels in the dead of night, jogged 10 minutes to their targets, and then infiltrated a set of lightly-populated and lightly-guarded Israeli communities. Casualties could have reached the thousands, and some of the victims would have been taken back alive as hostages.

The offensive attack tunnels seem to quite literally have been built for this kind of purpose. The IDF recently published a map of how they were dug to spill out on both sides of nearby communities (https://pbs.twimg.com/media/BtYjL4mCAAAI6c6.png). Israeli soldiers have been reporting that just inside some of the tunnels were storage units filled with tranquilizers, handcuffs, ropes, and so on.

The reports on this are mostly in Hebrew right now (the original one is here if you want it: http://www.nrg.co.il/online/1/ART2/600/825.html?hp=1&cat=875&loc=1). There are bits and pieces are getting translated on blogs and in think tank bulletins. The Gatestone Institute’s Lawrence Franklin has the best English-language I’ve seen so far, and I’ve pasted it below.

If the reports are confirmed, there are some immediate adjustments that analysts, journalists, and diplomats will all but certainly make:

(1) A ceasefire without at least the destruction of Hamas’s tunnel network would likely becomes a non-starter. It would be militarily untenable – and probably politically impossible – for Israeli leaders to accept anything less.

(2) The inevitable Israeli investigation into pre-conflict failures – and the Israelis always hold these, no matter how well things go – will have to take into account both how so many tunnels got built and why Israeli intelligence failed to crack the tunnel plot earlier. There’s a lot of focus right now on the former, but a lot of the digging and earth moving happened underground. It’s the latter debate, about sigint and humint, that has the potential to cost people careers.

(3) Confirmation of the plot would raise the stakes in the growing controversy over how human rights groups and diplomatic bodies pressured the Israelis into liberalizing restrictions on cement imports. Kilometers and kilometers of reinforced tunnels were being built deep into Israeli territory while Gaza-based offiicals railed against cement shortages. Some critics have already begun to name names, and the debate is already become very granular: TIP held a conference call yesterday in which one expert described how Hamas filled emptied UNRWA relief bags with dirt and then drove them away in UN-painted trucks, so that drones overhead saw what looked like a UN-sanctioned aid convoy.

(4) The public debate over the degree to which Operation Protective Edge was a “war of choice” for the Israelis would become constrained. A full-blown war would be seen as in some sense inevitable, with the only difference being whether it came before or after the Jewish High Holidays this fall.

Here is Lawrence Franklin’s column, cited above. I thought that readers trying to understand the course of the war would find this information useful.

JOHN adds: Israel’s refusal to enter into a week-long cease-fire agreement also likely had something to do with this: REPORT: HAMAS MORALE COLLAPSING, TERRORISTS FLEE IDF:

The source added that in recent days, a recognizable wave of demoralization has washed over Hamas’s combat battalions. “They simply escape, leaving behind weapons and suicide bomb vests that were laid out for battle. This morning we stormed a position, and they just weren’t there. I don’t see a determined enemy. We have encountered stronger pockets of fighting in the past. But now, I would not give them a high grade for fighting spirit.”

Also this:

“The spirit of Hamas terrorists is weakening,” Southern Region Commander Maj. Gen. Sami Turgeman says. “I see terrorists in distress, abandoned by their commanders who deserted them at the front and stayed behind…and facing them, our reserve and standing army units led by commanders leading the force.”

Leading from behind! It doesn’t work for Hamas any better than it does for President Obama.

Ron Dermer does CNN

Israeli Ambassador to the United States Ron Dermer is of course working overtime to speak up for Israel during its present hostilities with Hamas. He went above and beyond the call of duty yesterday, listening to its coverage for two hours. Now that hurts.

Dermer noted that something was missing as CNN ran stories depicting the incident in which 16 people were allegedly killed in an airstrike on a Gaza school. Check this out.

The Washington Free Beacon posted the video along with this explanation:

Dermer reminded Burnett Hamas has been using schools, hospitals and other non-military installations as weapon depots.

“It would be a disservice to your viewers for a reporter from Gaza not to mention that in the last week we had two different UNRWA schools where we had actually rockets found in the schools and handed over to Hamas,” he said.

Dermer grew angrier when he mentioned he’d watched two hours of CNN and not heard a single reporter tell the viewers of this practice.

“I have not heard a single person say what I just said to you now, and I think that that does a disservice to your viewers to not give them the context they need to make these judgments,” he said. “Hamas is placing missile batteries in schools, in hospitals, in mosques, and there must be outrage by the world at Hamas to end this.”

The news without the context that Dermer supplied is something more akin to propaganda than news. In disseminating the propaganda CNN is a willing tool, which is a role that CNN has played before and has not yet tired of playing.

Hilarious Fail of the Week: Gruber Claims It Was a “Speak-O!”

As all the world now knows, Obamacare architect Jonathan Gruber is on video explaining that under the ACA, tax subsidies will only be available to individuals who enroll in state-created exchanges, and will not be available to those who participate in the federal exchange. In other words, the limitation of subsidies to state exchanges was a deliberate policy, intended to give states a major incentive to create exchanges, and not a “typo” as liberals are now claiming. Which, in turn, means that the Halbig majority was right.

So Jonathan Cohn contacted Gruber to ask him for a reaction to the now-famous video. Ed Morrissey quotes Gruber’s response:

I honestly don’t remember why I said that. I was speaking off-the-cuff. It was just a mistake. People make mistakes. Congress made a mistake drafting the law and I made a mistake talking about it.

During this era, at this time, the federal government was trying to encourage as many states as possible to set up their exchanges. …

At this time, there was also substantial uncertainty about whether the federal backstop would be ready on time for 2014. I might have been thinking that if the federal backstop wasn’t ready by 2014, and states hadn’t set up their own exchange, there was a risk that citizens couldn’t get the tax credits right away. …

But there was never any intention to literally withhold money, to withhold tax credits, from the states that didn’t take that step. That’s clear in the intent of the law and if you talk to anybody who worked on the law. My subsequent statement was just a speak-o—you know, like a typo.

If you have watched the video, this is ludicrous. Ed comments:

In order to believe that, though, you’d have to ignore the plain meaning of the question Gruber was asked, and the plain meaning of the answer he gave. Gruber explicitly identifies states balking at running exchanges as one of the three main threats to the success of ObamaCare, at the 28-minute mark in the full video…

Yes. Gruber’s comments are not exactly ambiguous:

Q: You mentioned the health implementation exchanges in the states, and it’s my understanding that if states don’t provide them, then the federal government will provide them. What do you say to that?

GRUBER: Yeah, so these health-insurance Exchanges, you can go on ma.healthconnector.org and see ours in Massachusetts, will be these new shopping places and they’ll be the place that people go to get their subsidies for health insurance. In the law, it says if the states don’t provide them, the federal backstop will. The federal government has been sort of slow in putting out its backstop, I think partly because they want to sort of squeeze the states to do it. I think what’s important to remember politically about this, is if you’re a state and you don’t set up an Exchange, that means your citizens don’t get their tax credits. But your citizens still pay the taxes that support this bill. So you’re essentially saying to your citizens, you’re going to pay all the taxes to help all the other states in the country. I hope that’s a blatant enough political reality that states will get their act together and realize there are billions of dollars at stake here in setting up these Exchanges, and that they’ll do it. But you know, once again, the politics can get ugly around this.

Also, per Glenn Reynolds, a second recording has emerged of Gruber saying the same thing o different occasion. Another speak-o!

Like so many things that liberals say, Gruber’s denial is not intended to persuade the intelligent, but rather to fool the ignorant.

But I want to make a broader point about the claim, advanced by large numbers of Democrats, that the operative language of the ACA–”established by the State under section 1311″–was a “typo.” This assertion is ridiculous on its face. If the statute was printed and came out looking like this–”established by the Stat under section 1311″–that would be a typo, and a court would read “state” for “stat.” But the absence of any reference to a federally-established exchange, while it could be a mistake, is not a typo.

The Democrats’ willingness to add language to a statute that is plainly not there is one more manifestation of their general lawlessness. If the rule of law means anything, it means that we are governed by what the law says. If bureaucrats (here, the IRS) decide that the law would be better if it said something different, and judges defer to the bureaucrats’ “interpretation” of the statute, we are no longer living under the rule of law. Instead, we are living under a regime of arbitrary decree by the political party in power. Sadly, it appears that almost all Democrats, and a very large number of Democratic judges, want exactly that sort of regime to prevail.

Obamacare architect explained intent behind allowing subsidies only on state exchanges

Jonathan Gruber, a professor at MIT, is widely is regarded as the architect of both Romneycare and Obamacare. Following the D.C. Circuit’s decision in Halbig, he asserted that the provision of Obamacare limiting subsidies to the state exchanges was a “typo.” Indeed, he found it “criminal” to suggest that Obamacare was intended to work this way.

But William Jacobson (via one of his readers) has unearthed video from 2012 in which Gruber explains why Obamacare limits subsidies to participants in state exchanges — the view of the statute he now finds “criminal.”

Gruber stated: “I think what’s important to remember politically about this is if you’re a state and you don’t set up an exchange, that means your citizens don’t get their tax credits.”

This, of course, is precisely what the D.C. Circuit concluded in Halbig.

Gruber’s use of the word “politically” is the key to understanding why Obamacare limits subsidies to state exchanges. As Gruber went on to explain in the 2012 talk, by limiting the subsidies, Congress put pressure on states to open exchanges so that their citizens will receive the subsidy benefit.

Are Gruber’s 2012 remarks legally significant? They should be because, as Jacobson says, they confirm that there is a solid rationale, of which Obamacare’s architects were well aware, that explains why Obamcare, by its unambiguous terms, limits subsidies to participants in state exchanges.

It is now quite untenable to argue that interpreting Obamacare in accordance with its plain language defeats the purpose of the law, much less that this interpretation renders the law absurd. To the contrary, as Gruber said, such an interpretation is entirely consistent with the “political” purpose of the law

As a practical matter, though, Gruber’s 2012 remarks may not be of much consequence. Liberal judges will not be moved by it; presumably, their determination not to sink Obamacare is absolute.

As for the judges who matter most — Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Kennedy — they already had all the information they would need to uphold the Halbig result. For them, I suspect, the question would be whether it is politic to pull the trigger.

JOHN adds: Lest anyone doubt Gruber’s role as a principal architect of Obamacare, check out this adoring profile in the New York Times of March 28, 2012, right around the time of the video:

After Mr. Gruber helped the administration put together the basic principles of the proposal, the White House lent him to Capitol Hill to help Congressional staff members draft the specifics of the legislation.