December 4th, 2013

Tyranny testimony

One of the courses that George Washington University law professor Jonathan Turley teaches is constitutional law. He is also an Obama supporter and a liberal, although he doesn’t always toe the party line. Turley certainly didn’t pull his punches in this article, or in his testimony before the House yesterday, on the topic of Obama’s presidential overreach and the possible remedies for it.

The entire article is worth reading (although I’ve only gotten through the first few pages so far). Here’s an excerpt:

Despite the fact that I once voted for President Obama, personal admiration is no substitute for the constitutional principles at stake in this controversy. When a president claims the inherent power of both legislation and enforcement, he becomes a virtual government unto himself. He is not simply posing a danger to the constitutional system; he becomes the very danger that the Constitution was designed to avoid…

…[T]he loss caused by the circumvention of the legislative branch is not simply one branch usurping another. Rather, it is the loss of the most important function of the tripartite system in channeling factional interests and reaching resolutions on matters of great public importance. The importance of this central function of Congress is magnified when the country faces questions upon which there is great division. Ironically, these are the same areas where presidents are most likely to issue nonenforcement orders due to opposition to the underlying legislation. Consider illegal immigration. There are few issues that are more divisive today. The immigration laws are the product of prolonged debates and deliberations over provisions ranging from public services to driver’s licenses to ICE proceedings to deportations. Many of these issues are considered in combination in comprehensive statutes where the final legislation is a multivariable compromise by legislators. Severity in one area can at times be a trade-off for leniency in another area. Regardless of such trade-offs, the end result is by definition a majoritarian compromise that is either signed into law by a president or enacted through a veto override. The use of executive orders to circumvent federal legislation increases the shift toward the concentration of executive power in our system and the diminishment of the role of the legislative process itself. It is precisely what the Framers sought to avoid in establishing the tripartite system.

There is no question that Turley is very alarmed by what’s been happening during the Obama administration. But today he reflects on something different but related—press coverage of the hearing at which he testified:

The Washington Post has a controversial take on yesterday’s hearing in its coverage by Dana Milbank. The hearing raised the serious question of a pattern of allegedly unconstitutional actions by President Obama in either barring enforcement of federal law or directly violating those laws. However, the Washington Post only reported on the fact that impeachment was raised in the hearing in the discussion of the constitutional means left to Congress to address presidential abuse. Republicans object that the Post piece misses 99 percent of the hearing detailing the rise of an imperial presidency under Obama and four hours of discussion of the dangerous shift of power in the tripartite system.

Turley goes on to analyze the testimony vs. the coverage and concludes the coverage was incorrect and misleading, mischaracterizing both the substance of the hearing and Republicans’ role in it. To those of us on the right, such news is no news at all. In fact, seeing this happen over and over again was one of the things that sparked the beginning of my political change experience.

When one first notices it, it’s hard to believe how blatant and shameless the distortions are. Turley was struck by it in part because he knew from personal experience, having been a major player in the hearings, how badly the WaPo misrepresented what happened there. I haven’t followed Turley’s work before, although I plan to do so now. But I wonder whether he knows how commonly this happens, and how pernicious are the effects on the voting public and its perceptions of reality.

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30 Responses to “Tyranny testimony”

  1. George Pal Says:

    Tagged as Eureka Moments?

    There are more ways than spittle and dirt to make the blind see. Apparently being witness and eyewitness opens some eyes. Who new?

  2. Paul in Boston Says:

    Turkey was surprised by bad reporting?

    If you don’t read the newspapers you’re uninformed. If you do read the newspapers you’re misinformed.
    – Mark Twain

    “Briefly stated, the Gell-Mann Amnesia effect is as follows. You open the newspaper to an article on some subject you know well. In Murray’s case, physics. In mine, show business. You read the article and see the journalist has absolutely no understanding of either the facts or the issues. Often, the article is so wrong it actually presents the story backward—reversing cause and effect. I call these the “wet streets cause rain” stories. Paper’s full of them.
    In any case, you read with exasperation or amusement the multiple errors in a story, and then turn the page to national or international affairs, and read as if the rest of the newspaper was somehow more accurate about Palestine than the baloney you just read. You turn the page, and forget what you know.”

    ― Michael Crichton

  3. neo-neocon Says:

    Paul in Boston:

    I thought it was clear from my post that, since I was previously unfamiliar with Turley, I have no idea whether or not he was surprised by the bad reporting. But if it wasn’t clear, let me clarify: I don’t know whether Turley was surprised or not.

    However, when I was undergoing my own change experience over ten years ago, I was surprised by it.

  4. NeoConScum Says:

    Dear Professor Turley: Well, DUUUUHHHHHHH…!!

    That goes for The Boy King’s OVEREACH and the WaPo’s lips on the aforementioned anal pore. Sheeesh.

    *That said, welcome to REALITY. Just now ‘getting it’? Again: Shheeeeeeeesh.*

  5. DNW Says:

    No one who’s read Dana Milbank’s self-celebratory tale of his family’s place in the progressive’s march through American history, should be surprised at his shrugging duplicity. It’s for the cause. As he tells it the good guys are winning by advancing the collective by any means necessary, while the chastened bad guys are whining over losing their unjust and anti-community values privileges of property and self-direction. And so what else is new; smirk smirk …

    What surprises me is that anyone anywhere could be any more surprised at this than if Debbie Wasserman Schultz started showing up in public in full bolshevik commissar regalia; workers cap, soviet style leather jerkin, jodhpurs, and knee high boots included.

    Who would even bat an eye? It’s probably how most people see her anyway.

  6. Mike Says:

    Turley is the sort of Liberal who doesn’t want the blame for the evil he has done.

    Most Liberals are like that.

    When the revolution comes he’ll be a trash man. That’s his level.

  7. Paul in Boston Says:

    Neo,

    I’d say he was surprised. The 20 page paper that is his testimony before the committee contains the word impeachment once. He mentioned it in passing and only to point out that it was in the Constitution.

  8. T Says:

    “I wonder whether [Turley] knows how commonly this [misrepresentation] happens, and how pernicious are the effects on the voting public and its perceptions of reality.”

    Perhaps Turley answered this question with his own admission: “Despite the fact that I once voted for President Obama . . . .”

    Only once? It would imply that Turley began to “get religion” long enough before the election to affect his 2012 vote. (I can’t entertain any possible notion that Turley didn’t vote for Obama in 2008 but did vote for him in 2012).

    This puts him in the same category as Ann Althouse, which only goes to prove that even educated and intellectually discriminating people can be conned by a street-huckster.

  9. Lizzy Says:

    All things considered, I’m happy that people like Turley are finally catching on, even if it is too late for him to effect an Obama election. Perhaps his
    work will more accurately depict Obama’s presidency now that the veil is slipping from his eyes. Amazing he’s been in DC so long without noticing, though.
    This is what triggered my shift to the right, listening to C-SPAN radio in the car (various hearings, speeches, etc. later in Clinton’s scandal-plagued 2nd term) and then seeing which 5-10 second soundbite was selected as the basis for each totally biased evening news story about it.

  10. Wolla Dalbo Says:

    From the parts I saw of this hearing, it seemed like every one of the witnesses, and most members of Congress who asked questions at this hearing–Trey Gowdy the exception–were very carefully avoiding acknowledging the real and very extreme danger to our Republic that Obama, his lawlessness, and his increasingly tyrannical actions represent.

    They were all tiptoeing around the rim of the volcano without acknowledging that it was there, that the heat was intense, and that it could blow at any moment.

    The witness from the CATO Institute, coming closer to the truth than any other of the panelists, pointed out that if citizens believed that the government was not constrained by and no longer obeyed the law, then they would no longer feel constrained by or obey the law either.

    In the clip I saw, the witness from CATO also rushed through the last part of his testimony, which cited Lincoln’s statement that, if the people did not like the government they had they could rearrange it, or overthrow it by revolution. Such a revolutionary option enshrined, I might add, in our Constitution.

    Unfortunately, but, I think, inevitably, talk of such a “revolution” as a solution is starting to appear more and more often here and there in comments on the Internet.

  11. momo Says:

    Shocked that Turley would have such a racist opinion!

    That can only be the only explanation for his uncomfortableness with Obama’s just and righteous act of social justice.

  12. blert Says:

    Barry’s an absolutist.

    Hence: pushing back twice as hard.

    He’s a brittle politician — no flex at all.

  13. parker Says:

    Too late is too late. I have no sympathy for those who do not come clean and admit their entire world view was BS.

  14. Det. John McClane Says:

    Dear Professor Turley,

    Welcome to the party, pal!

    Best,
    John

  15. Gary Says:

    Prof. Turley wrote:
    Republicans object that the Post piece misses 99 percent of the hearing detailing the rise of an imperial presidency under Obama…

    Neo comments:
    Turley goes on to analyze the testimony vs. the coverage and concludes the coverage was incorrect and misleading…

    No wonder this dismal reporting caught Prof. Turley’s attention. Normally, the MSM keeps its fraction of mistakes, lies, omissions and distortions within the 70% – 90% range.

  16. Gary Says:

    Given the lawlessness of “Obama’s presidential overreach,” his constant “use of executive orders to circumvent federal legislation,” and “his claims [of] inherent power of both legislation and enforcement,” I prefer the honorific, King Barack.

    I don’t see why I should legitimize his outrages by playing along with the charade that he is behaving like a US President. His actions and haughty, overbearing demeanor clearly demonstrate he is more comfortable in the role of monarch, emperor, autocrat, despot, or czar.

  17. Cornhead Says:

    Obey the law? We have 3 million people living here on the premise that the law does *not* apply to them. And they can register to vote via a Motor Voter postcard that asks if they are citizens.

    We have become lawless.

  18. I R A Darth Aggie Says:

    In the immortal words of John McClane: Welcome to the party, pal!

  19. Steve D Says:

    Another (rube? natch) we’ll call him a “tool” self identifies.

  20. Ymarsakar Says:

    A cow has gotten out of the fenced area. Coral it back in!

  21. Ymarsakar Says:

    This puts him in the same category as Ann Althouse, which only goes to prove that even educated and intellectually discriminating people can be conned by a street-huckster.

    Several cons work better if the person is educated and thinks they are able to judge things correctly. Many stupid people are hard to con, because they adhere to principles of justice or virtue.

  22. Eric Says:

    Obama is a textbook Max Weber charismatic authority.

    Democrats have peremptorily swept aside criticisms of Obama from principled leftist activists, eg, Nader and Greenwald. Their current political advantage is based on propaganda against the Bush admin. Their propagandists won’t have any trouble spinning away the likes of Turley.

  23. Don Says:

    Several cons work better if the person is educated and thinks they are able to judge things correctly. Many stupid people are hard to con, because they adhere to principles of justice or virtue

    I’ve attended university and can confirm that being formally educated does not necessarly require intelligence.

  24. Don Says:

    “Their propagandists won’t have any trouble spinning away the likes of Turley.”

    Of course not, but their bigger problem is that Obamacare is crashing and Obama’s lies are exposed to all.

  25. Ray Says:

    We have all had the experience of attending some event, then reading the newspaper account of it and wondering if the reporter was in some alternate universe. I remember the NYT in the 1970s reporting that those stories about the killing in Cambodia were all lies. Walter Duranty still lives.

  26. momo Says:


    This puts him in the same category as Ann Althouse

    My contempt for Althouse knows no bounds.

    She is the type of woman that has never had to deal with any true consequences for her actions. She has always been too pretty, too intelligent, too female, too white, … in short, too privileged to have to live with the fallout of any of her mistakes. She strikes me as the type of person that always had someone else to clean-up for her, always had someone else make a special exception for her, always got to go to the front of the line. And, if any misfortune fell upon her, it was never something she truly considered her fault; not a learning experience from which to grow. She was always “inconvenienced” because she was an oppressed minority.

    Althouse strikes me as the type of individual that never internalizes anything. She instead externalizes everything. Nothing is ever truly her fault. It is all someone else’s problem.

    When life become inconvenient for her all she has to do is: (a) bat her eyes, (b) claim privileged as an elite professor, or (c) claim to be oppressed as a women or other social group (beyond the effects of her personal life choices). Responsibility just bounces off her armour of privileged and elitism.

  27. Don Says:

    ” I remember the NYT in the 1970s reporting that those stories about the killing in Cambodia were all lies. Walter Duranty still lives.”

    I watched the movie “The Killing Fields” as a teen in a friend’s house with his liberal parents. I recall the rationalized ending where the main character tries to blame the killing on Nixon’s bombing. Then, the movie ended with John Lennon’s “Imagine”, which my friend’s liberal mother (educated former teacher) called “appropriate”. I was 18 or 19 but I thought “ironic”.

  28. Don Says:

    “She is the type of woman that has never had to deal with any true consequences for her actions.”

    This is a common type of problem in good neighborhoods, with both men and women but moreso the latter. Typical in upper class and upper middle class, but even regualr middle class neighborhoods as well.

    Sort of a result of what the japanese called “victory disease”.

  29. Ymarsakar Says:

    The Left corrupts all, no exceptions. Academia is like being exposed to communicable diseases all the time.

  30. [VIDEO] Jonathan Turley: The Left’s Indifference to Obama’s Executive Power Grabs is ‘Beginning to Border on a Cult of Personality’ | pundit from another planet Says:

    [...] Tyranny testimony (neoneocon.com) [...]

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Previously a lifelong Democrat, born in New York and living in New England, surrounded by liberals on all sides, I've found myself slowly but surely leaving the fold and becoming that dread thing: a neocon.
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