When Is a Senator Not a Senator?


Sen. Mike Lee, like many of his Senate colleagues, has a law degree.  His is from Brigham Young and, apparently, Lee fancies himself to be something of a constitutional scholar.  I say that because Mike Lee likes to pronounce things unconstitutional.  Especially things like Obamacare.

Lee also appears to be quite the over-achiever.  For example, whilst serving as the brand new senator from Utah, Lee has somehow managed to find the time to write two books (not one—count ‘em, two books) while also trying to learn the ropes of senator-ing. 

If John McCain is any judge of the latter, Lee probably ought to stick to book-writing:

Anybody who cranks out books at that rate must have some ideas that might be useful in the Senate but as far as Lee’s actual Senate work products?  Well, let’s see . . . Lee was responsible for what Adam Serwer of Mother Jones has dubbed the “Downton Abbey Exception” to the Comprehensive Immigration Reform bill that is currently on life-support in the senate. 

Here’s the lowdown on that:

It’s apparently really hard to find good (cheap) help these days, so Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) has a modest proposal: Let’s allow unauthorized immigrants to work—but only if they’re doing low-paid domestic service jobs. Lee’s amendment would exempt “services performed by cooks, waiters, butlers, housekeepers, governessess, maids, valets, baby sitters, janitors, laundresses, furnacemen, care-takers, handymen, gardeners, footmen, grooms, and chauffeurs of automobiles for family use” from “prohibitions on unlawful employment of unauthorized aliens.”  Next: An amendment that would allow employers to feed said domestic workers stale cake.

OK.  So, to be fair, what Mike Lee does [or doesn’t do] in the Senate is between him and his constituents.  But the books? the first is entitled: The Freedom Agenda: Why a Balanced Budget Amendment Is Necessary to Restore Constitutional Government; and the latest? [get ready]: Why John Roberts Was Wrong About Healthcare.

Sen Lee promoted his book yesterday in a radio interview with Glenn Beck because where else can a conservative get maximum exposure and a credibility boost.  As Erica Ritz (seriously?) of The Blaze swooned:

The argument that Roberts changed his vote has been made in the past, but is certainly lent additional credibility when a U.S. senator writes a book making the case.

In describing the premise of his blockbuster expose Mr. Lee said that initial indications were that Mr. Roberts was going to vote against the constitutionality of The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. But that a very public “campaign of intimidation” pushed him to vote on the side of the government.

His evidence:

First, the senator claimed “the opinion was written in a way to suggest he switched his vote,” and that the dissenting opinion reads like it was originally written as the majority.

Well, golly, I guess Sen. Lee watches Face the Nation, too, because I heard the same thing last July from Jan Crawford of CBS News. 

But, I digress:

Lee added that several news outlets reported that Roberts did change his vote, based on insider information.

Not only that, he said, but the court performed an unusual feat of “legal gymnastics” in upholding the legislation, particularly with regard to whether the fines incurred are or are not taxes.  They had to re-write sections of the the bill not once, but twice.

Lee continued to say that he has “no evidence” that Roberts was being blackmailed, but said that doesn’t mean Roberts wasn’t under any kind of “direct pressure.”

Now I know that Lee wants me to imagine SpecOps guys in black coptering in to Roberts’ backyard, in the middle of the night, to “influence his vote” on orders from the Commander-in-Chief.

You know what, Mike?  It’s been copiously reported that Chief Justice Roberts actually was, in fact, under unrelenting duress pre-decision—coming from—guess who?—Justice Antonin Scalia and Justice Anthony Kennedy.

As reported by Jan Crawford of CBS News:

Chief Justice John Roberts initially sided with the Supreme Court’s four conservative justices to strike down the heart of President Obama’s health care reform law, the Affordable Care Act, but later changed his position and formed an alliance with liberals to uphold the bulk of the law, according to two sources with specific knowledge of the deliberations.

Roberts then withstood a month-long, desperate campaign to bring him back to his original position, the sources said. Ironically, Justice Anthony Kennedy – believed by many conservatives to be the justice most likely to defect and vote for the law – led the effort to try to bring Roberts back to the fold.

“He was relentless,” one source said of Kennedy’s efforts. “He was very engaged in this.”

But this time, Roberts held firm. And so the conservatives handed him their own message which, as one justice put it, essentially translated into, “You’re on your own.”

The conservatives refused to join any aspect of his opinion, including sections with which they agreed, such as his analysis imposing limits on Congress’ power under the Commerce Clause, the sources said.

Instead, the four joined forces and crafted a highly unusual, unsigned joint dissent. They deliberately ignored Roberts’ decision, the sources said, as if they were no longer even willing to engage with him in debate.

IMO, any guy who can stand up to a month-long harangue-and-pout from Antonin Scalia isn’t likely to cave to any lily-livered liberal administration operatives.  Isn’t it possible that Roberts simply construed that the Constitution upheld the law? isn’t it possible that Chief Justice Roberts knows a little more about constitutional law than Mike Lee?

You’re weak, Mike.  Do your constituents a favor and write books full time, I’m sure the folks who voted for you weren’t expecting that you’d be an embarrassing DC gadfly pounding the pavement to pimp your “books” while nothing but nothing gets done in our pathetic dysfunctional Congress.

Posted by Bette Noir on 06/19/13 at 04:25 PM • Permalink

Categories: PoliticsBedwettersNuttersTeabaggeryOur Stupid Media

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When even Senator McGrumpy starts smacking a fellow Gooper around for being a clown, time to reflect on what your job really is.  But, of course, the GOP doesn’t believe in government other than as a mechanism for subsidizing the rich so I see little possibility for a functional Congress for years to come.

Lee is just the sort of alternate reality case I expect from Utah, especially after the Utoids decided Orin Hatch was insufficiently wingeresque.* 

*If Orin Hatch isn’t conservative enough for you, you’re not only already around the bend, you’re reaching for infinity.

*If Orin Hatch isn’t conservative enough for you, you’re not only already around the bend, you’re reaching for infinity.

@SoS it also seems increasingly clear to me that there’s something cultish about the GOP these days—so many seemingly bright people with big degrees from prestigious schools and dazzingly work experience are willing to make fools of themselves, in public, saying plumb stupid shit to advance ultra-conservatism.

It’s downright Stepford . . .

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