Friday, August 1, 2014

Obama's Cookin Up Trouble in the Constitution Kitchen, Boehner is No Gordon Ramsay

For some, Kitchen Nightmares is a show they love to hate; for others, it is a show they hate to love. The premise is simple:  a restaurant is falling apart, chef Gordon Ramsay comes to the rescue after receiving a videotape from the owner or others describing the current decline (and sometimes the former glories) of an eatery.

Ramsay arrives on the scene, samples the fare (I am fairly sure that I have never seen him compliment a single dish served at this point in the drama), meets owners and staff, and then watches a prime service, whether it is the dinner service, or Sunday brunch or the like.  All hell breaks loose.  A chef becomes indignant, or an owner, or an owner-chef.

Rat droppings are found aplenty.  Molded food is found in the cold storage.  A commercial kitchen stove only works half the time.  And to top it all off, either the decor crawled out of the belly of a sick animal, or the atmosphere is a confusing mishmash of cutesy homeyness and uncomfortable seating.

In the end, Ramsay cajoles the angered chef or owner back inside, gains a tearful commitment to progress and change, and then rub-a-dub-dub, the place gets a scrub, a make over, and an updated menu!  By the hour's end, we have the impression that all can actually be well again.

So, look, if you don't like the Constitution, you can do the Kitchen Nightmare approach.  In constitutional terms, the Gordon Ramsay treatment for the US Constitution is to amend or repeal it. Doing so is as formulaic as Kitchen Nightmares.

That's the kind of thing pro-lifers have been hearing for years, ever since Harry Blackmun invented the right to dismember your own child while it is alive inside of you.  So here we are, living under a Constitution.  One that gives Congress NOT THE PRESIDENT plenary power to regulate migration into the USA.  So, if Obama wants to wrest that power from Congress all he has to do, and the only thing he has to do, is amend the Constitution.

Now as a "professor of constitutional law," I'm sure that was perfectly understandable for Professor Obama.  So, when Congress did NOT enact the DREAM Act -- a proposal that would have deferred deportation action for applicants brought to the US before their 16th birthday that had continued their education, gotten work, and avoided serious criminal law issues -- Obama could have said, "I'm tired of Congress not doing its job ... let's amend the Constitution so that I have the power to enact laws without Congress."

He didn't do so.

Instead, he issued an Executive Order on DACA, Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals.  That Executive Order simply adopted key features of the DREAM Act as regulations. VOILA!  Just add Obama, no Congress necessary.  Now there isn't even any need for cooks in the kitchen.

When a madman enters your kitchen and begins cooking up mudpies and grass soup, you have a few options for addressing the situation.  And when a President enters a field belonging solely to Congress, it has a few options for addressing the situation.  For the trespassory Sham Chef, the solutions include calling the police to remove him, removing him yourself, and letting him run the kitchen.  For the trespassory president, there are the options of embarrassing him through the public exposure of oversight hearings, hamstringing him by the discipline of a restricted budget, or impeaching him.

So, when the Executive Chef of the House kitchen, John Boehner, tells America that tossing the Sham Chef out (impeaching him) is not on the table, but that suing the Sham Chef is a best option, you need to think about hiring a new Executive Chef.  After all, the Sham Chef is cooking away in the kitchen, creating havoc reminiscent of the scene In "Close Encounters of the Third Kind" where Richard Dreyfuss is pulling up hedges and dirt and throwing them into his kitchen to make his mud mountain rendition of Devil's Tower.

After Thursday evening, perhaps Boehner is giving thought to passing his jaunty Chef's cap along to another.

On Thursday evening, House leaders cancelled a vote on an emergency bill to fund activities responding to the border immigration crisis that has been much in the news of late.  CANCELLED.  Some headlines suggest that the House is in disarray.  The AP report explained that Representative Peter King, of New York, among others, laid the blame squarely at the feet of ... Senator Ted Cruz.  Strange, isn't it, that a man who doesn't have the privilege of the floor in the US House, a man who chairs no committee in the House, is made to be the conquistador of House Republicans.

So what was it that Senator Cruz did?

He invited House Republicans over for pizza.

While I'm certain the pizza was delicious (what pizza isn't?), I doubt that Senator Cruz doped the pizza and drugged his guests.  I'm thinking, and it is a guess, that what Senator Cruz did was meet with those Representatives who shared his concerns about executive overreach by Obama, about violation of Congress' sole prerogative regarding immigration.  In that meeting, he pitched to them the idea that no emergency border funding legislation should pass the House unless it expressly DEFUNDED Obama's lawless and unconstitutional Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals activities.

Such a quid-pro-quo would make sense.  It applies budgetary discipline short of impeachment to a crass and clumsy overreach by Obama into an area of plenary congressional authority.  It gives the Administration funds to deal with the mess that the Administration has created by lax enforcement of borders and by enticing children to America with the Pied Piper promise of Deferred Action.

Apparently, Chef Boehner would have none of it, and without the DACA defunding provision, his sous chef Republican majority refused to cook up a dish that only the Democrats could ingest with pleasure.