All posts in Culture

It only goes one way

If you didn’t think there’s a war going on for the hearts and minds of our country then consider the following from Instapundit. And this is deep in the heart of Texas.

Liberal activists (the ones who matter) understand intuitively (and Alinsky-ites consciously) that all means are not only available but also good when it benefits the cause.

Unfortunately the tide of history goes one direction. And it is dramatically worse with Obama at the helm, as inept as he is, because he provides the air support that is critical for the liberal troops on the ground to accomplish their broader goals.

From Instapundit:

JULY 13, 2012
HMM. THINK THERE ARE ANY POLITICS INVOLVED HERE? “The University of Texas at Austin has opened a fact-finding ‘inquiry’ into allegations of research misconduct against a tenured faculty member who concluded in a recent published study that children of same-sex couples may be at a disadvantage when it comes to certain forms of success in adulthood. While the university has not opened a formal investigation nor taken any action against Mark Regnerus, an associate professor of sociology at UT-Austin, the case has provoked spirited critiques of his methodology as well as allegations that the Texas sociologist was unduly influenced by two politically conservative organizations that helped fund his study.”

I don’t know if the study’s any good or not — but I’m positive that if it had found that children of gay couples do better, there would be no such inquiry, regardless of who had funded it. And the point here is mostly to warn other researchers that it’s just better not to look into certain subjects, or to come up with the wrong conclusions if you do.

And my advice to conservative activists is to lodge scientific misconduct complaints against the authors of all those “conservatives are dumb and crazy” studies that come up, most of which are no better than this. If we’re going to go after junk science on political grounds, nobody should be safe.

Some good points about the risk of Condi as VP

From National Review.

Is the Socialization of America Economically Impossible?

Brandon Smith at Alt-Market has written a very interesting piece that is turning up across the web.  His bottom line is that socialism is bankrupt as a system and the United States is already insolvent.

Unfortunately I don’t agree that Obamacare couldn’t be implemented or that we couldn’t as a country go a lot farther down the road towards socialism.  To buy into the argument as a practical matter is to invite a lot of pain on the belief that purity of reason always prevails.  In fact it rarely does, and it certainly does not in the short run.

That said, I would encourage you to read his article.  His premise is spot on and his conclusions are logical and, apart from the timing component, mostly correct.  Smith:

I understand the dream of the common socialist.  I was, after all, once a Democrat.  I understand the disparity created in our society by corporatism (not capitalism, though some foolish socialists see them as exactly the same).  I understand the drive and the desire to help other human beings, especially those in dire need, and the tendency to see government as the ultimate solution to all our problems.  That said, let’s be honest; government is in the end just a tool used by one group or another to implement a particular methodology or set of principles.  Unfortunately, what most socialists today don’t seem to understand is that no matter what strategies they devise, they will NEVER have control.  And, those they wish to help will be led to suffer, because the establishment does not care about them, or you.  The establishment does not think of what it can give, it thinks about what it can take.  Socialism, in the minds of the elites, is a con-game which allows them to quarry the favor of the serfs, and nothing more.

There are other powers at work in this world; powers that have the ability to play both sides of the political spectrum.  The money elite have been wielding the false left/right paradigm for centuries, and to great effect.  Whether socialism or corporatism prevails, they are the final victors, and the game continues onward…

Knowing this fact, I find that my reactions to the entire Obamacare debate rather muddled.  Really, I see the whole event as a kind of circus, a mirage, a distraction.  Perhaps it is because I am first and foremost an economic analyst, and when looking at Obamacare and socialization in general, I see no tangibility.  I see no threat beyond what we as Americans already face.  Let me explain…

Socialism Is Failure
A country that feels the need to socialize has, in my view, already failed culturally.  Read more…

What we should really be upset about

Obama’s Systematic Assault on the Truth

| @Peter_Wehner 07.02.2012 – 9:19 AM

The Democratic talking points have been issued and are being followed to the letter (see here and here). And they go like this: The Affordable Care Act (ACA) is not a tax; it’s a penalty. Those who suggests it’s a tax are wrong, in error, disingenuous, and dissemblers.

Here’s the problem, though: characterizing the Affordable Care Act as a tax isn’t simply the interpretation of Chief Justice John Roberts and a majority of the Supreme Court; it’s the interpretation of the Obama administration.

As this story put it:

Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. said the Court had a duty to uphold an act of Congress if there was a constitutional basis for doing so. And the basis he seized on was the fallback argument [Solicitor General Donald] Verrilli included in the briefs—that the Constitution gives Congress a broad power to impose taxes to “provide for the general welfare.”

The government’s legal brief said the insurance mandate operates in practice as a tax law. No one would be prosecuted or punished for not having insurance. If they had taxable income, however, they would be forced to pay a small tax penalty.

The chief justice agreed with this argument, and so did the four liberal justices. Though Congress may not “order” people to buy insurance, Roberts held in the 5-4 decision, it may impose a small tax on those who refuse.

The Affordable Care Act, then, was upheld as constitutional based on the tax argument put forward by President Obama’s legal team. And yet the Obama administration is now insisting the Affordable Care Act never was a tax, is not now a tax, and shall never be a tax.

This is yet another example of how Barack Obama is a thoroughly post-modern president. Words and facts have no objective standing; they are relative, socially constructed, a way to advance personal reality. If referring to the Affordable Care Act as a tax helps advance the Obama agenda, then it’s a tax. If referring to the ACA as a penalty helps advance the Obama agenda, it becomes a penalty.

You like tomato and I like tomahto.

That philosophy may be fine for liberal arts professors and even tolerable among community organizers. But when the president of the United States systematically assaults truth—if words mean whatever you want them to mean—it becomes rather more problematic. Yet that is precisely where the United States finds itself in the summer of 2012.

From Commentary.

Hinderaker’s solid piece on Roberts’ thinking

This is a long but good write up that is worth reading.  Hinderaker is no conservative radical but he is sound, relatively unemotional and clear-thinking.  I like his approach.

Hinderaker:

It Was Always a Tax

Yesterday I posted the rather pathetic video of White House Chief of Staff Jack Lew on Fox News Sunday, where Lew struggled to deny that the Obamacare mandate is a tax, and that the Supreme Court upheld it only as such. When confronted with footage of the administration’s lawyer telling the Court that the mandate is a tax, Lew acted as though he had never heard such a thing before.

In fact, the Democrats have always argued that the Obamacare mandate is a tax, and as such is constitutional. During the debates in Congress, they emphasized this point when the law’s constitutionality came under attack. Max Baucus, Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, said:

Mr. President, our committee and the HELP Committee have given a lot of thought to the provisions in this legislation. We also gave a lot of thought to the constitutionality of the provisions—how they work and the interrelationship between the power of Congress and the States and what States will be doing, particularly under the commerce clause and the tax-and-spending powers of the Constitution.

It is very strongly our considered judgment, and that of many constitutional scholars who have looked at these provisions—and many articles have been put in the Record—that clearly these provisions are constitutional. The commerce clause is constitutional, the tax-and-spending clause, and the provisions clearly are constitutional.

Mr. President, the bill before us is clearly an appropriate exercise of the commerce clause. We further believe Congress has power to enact this legislation pursuant to the taxing and spending powers.

These were always the Democrats’ two arguments. It is worth noting that they were not arguing in the alternative; there is no inconsistency between the two theories. They always claimed that Obamacare was constitutionally justified by both the Commerce Clause and the Tax and Spend clause. Read more…

The Journal declares the apocalypse

From the annals of overreaction, here’s the Journal’s take on Roberts’ opinion.  Is the writer wrong?  Probably not, with respect to many of the details.  But I stand by my earlier post.  We live in a democracy, folks, like it or not.  Talk about a republic all you want but in those famous cliched words, it is what it is.

So read this.  Think about it.  Then do something if you care.

A Vast New Taxing Power

The Chief Justice’s ObamaCare ruling is far from the check on Congress of right-left myth.

The commentary on John Roberts’s solo walk into the Affordable Care Act wilderness is converging on a common theme: The Chief Justice is a genius. All of a sudden he is a chessmaster, a statesman, a Burkean minimalist, a battle-loser but war-winner, a Daniel Webster for our times.

Now that we’ve had more time to take in Chief Justice Roberts’s reasoning, we have a better summary: politician. In fact, his 5-4 ruling validating the constitutional arguments against purchase mandates and 5-4 ruling endorsing them as taxes is far more dangerous, and far more political, even than it first appeared last week.

Editorial board member Joe Rago on how Chief Justice John Roberts’s rewrite of ObamaCare weakens the Constitution’s federalist structure. Photo: Associated Press

This is a minority view. By right-left acclaim, at least among elites, the Chief Justice has engineered a Marbury v. Madison-like verdict that camouflages new limits on federal power as a reprieve for President Obama’s entitlement legacy and in a stroke enhanced the Supreme Court’s reputation—and his own. This purported “long game” appeals to conservatives who can console themselves with a moral victory, while the liberals who like to assail the Chief Justice as a radical foe of democracy can continue their tantrum.

It’s an elegant theory whose only flaw is that it is repudiated by Chief Justice Roberts’s own language and logic. His gambit substitutes one unconstitutional expansion of government power for another and rearranges the constitutional architecture of the U.S. political system. Read more…

The story on Terrell Owens

Why is this relevant?  It’s not, really.  But for every American who’s watched football for the last decade it’s fascinating.

Terrell Owens’s Darkest Days

Broke, blackballed, and out of work, T.O. looks for another chance

By Michael J. Mooney on

 

Since signing with the Allen Wranglers, Terrell Owens hasn’t exactly been excited to talk to reporters. Back in his Philadelphia days, in the prime of his career, he used to hold press conferences all the time, sometimes in his own driveway. He couldn’t wait to be on camera. He would tell reporters what questions to ask. He never shied away from a microphone: not in a locker room, not in a studio, and certainly not on his own reality show.

But now that he’s been relegated to the lowest rung of professional football, with no team in the NFL even interested in watching him work out, Owens hasn’t been so loquacious. He made an appearance on Dr. Phil with three of the four mothers of his kids to explain why he hasn’t been paying child support (he’s broke), and why he hasn’t even seen some of his children (it’s complicated). And he’s done a few brief radio interviews. But he hasn’t wanted to talk much about playing in the Indoor Football League. He hasn’t wanted to talk about his financial troubles, or his personal life, or what it’s like to fall so far so fast. He’s pushed back interviews. He’s skipped press conferences. He’s missed scheduled appearances. Read more…

Enough with the whining and hand-wringing. Let’s move on

I’m as interested in what the pundits and legal analysts have to say about the recent Obamacare ruling as the next guy. It was an absolutely fascinating piece of jurisprudence that people, and future courts, will be trying to untangle perhaps for generations to come.

But I’m tired of hearing the whining and moaning and the et tu’s from my conservative allies. First of all, I’ll say again, I don’t like the ruling any more than anyone else. I loathe Obamacare and the intrusions of the federal government in the private lives of others. I fear the collapse of our economy and free society under continued statist-inclined administrations and Congresses. I believe it will happen some day.

But on the whole we’ve been headed in that direction, with some interspersed periods of respite, since at least the 1930s. More government, more entitlements, more taxes, more regulations, fewer freedoms. Has the price been worth paying? That is part of the debate that is going on right now. Wake up and join it.

Let’s consider some facts about Obamacare:

1. During his 2008 campaign Obama was vehemently and openly opposed to the individual mandate.
2. Obama flipped and decided to support the individual mandate once he was safely in office. But he made clear it was definitely not a tax!
3. Obamacare made it to a vote because of an elected Republican.
4. The legislation was passed by a democratically elected Democrat-controlled Congress and signed into law by a democratically elected Democratic President.
5. At the moment the legislation passed very few people seriously thought that the Supreme Court would overturn the new law. (By the way as a rule conservative-minded folks should never hope for salvation from the courts!)
6. As time passed and the arguments were fleshed out, lo and behold, everyone, including the president, began to appreciate that maybe the mandate (and therefore the law itself) might not be constitutional. Oops.
7. All of a sudden even intrade was in on the action, setting the likelihood that the Supreme Court would overturn Obamacare at 70%.
8. And everyone was right, until Roberts pulled the rabbit out of his hat, rejecting Obama’s commerce-based arguments while making other arguments on his behalf that he wasn’t really wanting to make, thereby formally ushering us all into an era that our elected officials in their wisdom have crafted for us.
9. Wait a second! It is a tax!
10. No one was betrayed. It’s just that no one intervened. And we now have as a law a ridiculous and largely unread behemoth set of binding rules that will be funded by a penalty tax levied against people who can least afford to pay. And that doesn’t even touch the inevitable massive increase in costs and inefficiencies as the people who brought you the post office assume the reins of your health care. If it weren’t real it would all be pure comedy.

If you care, then let’s stop the whining and join the fight. November is going to be huge.

Taranto

“Bitter concurrence” may sound like an oxymoron, but Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg, joined by colleagues Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan, filed one yesterday in NFIB v. Sebelius, the ObamaCare case.

Reuters
Justice Ginsburg
Ginsburg was full of snark, and her target was Chief Justice John Roberts (citations omitted): “According to the Chief Justice the Commerce Clause does not permit that preservation. This rigid reading of the Clause makes scant sense and is stunningly retrogressive. . . . The Chief Justice’s crabbed reading of the Commerce Clause harks back to the era in which the Court routinely thwarted Congress’ efforts to regulate the national economy in the interest of those who labor to sustain it. . . . The Chief Justice’s novel constraint on Congress’ commerce power gains no force from our precedent and for that reason alone warrants disapprobation. . . . The Chief Justice also calls the minimum coverage provision an illegitimate effort to make young, healthy individuals subsidize insurance premiums paid by the less hale and hardy. This complaint, too, is spurious. . . . Failing to learn from this history, the Chief Justice plows ahead with his formalistic distinction between those who are “active in commerce,” and those who are not. . . . The Chief Justice accepts just such specious logic when he cites the broccoli horrible as a reason to deny Congress the power to pass the individual mandate. . . . If long on rhetoric, the Chief Justice’s argument is short on substance.”

This outpouring of vitriol led the Washington Post’s E.J. Dionne, always conscious of the need for civility, to pen a column demanding her resignation. Oh wait, sorry, that was another justice’s dissent in another case. Still, a call for Ginsburg’s resignation is a “fairly possible” construction of the Dionne column.

If Ginsburg’s side won the case, why is she so angry? Because on the central constitutional question at issue, Roberts in fact issued the legal left a powerful rebuke. To quote from his opinion–a portion of it in which he spoke only for himself but with which the four dissenters (that is, the actual dissenters–Antonin Scalia, Anthony Kennedy, Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito) agree: “The Commerce Clause is not a general license to regulate an individual from cradle to grave simply because he will predictably engage in particular transactions.”

Those of us who follow the Supreme Court closely can name cases in which the court reached the right decision but did so with faulty constitutional analysis. Sometimes this has long-lasting negative repercussions. One of our favorite examples is University of California Regents v. Bakke (1978), in which the high court by a 5-4 vote struck down a scheme of racial discrimination in college admissions.

Justice Lewis Powell was in the majority. But he wrote a lone opinion expressing the view that the goal of having a “diverse student body” justified racial discrimination. Colleges that wished to practice discrimination exploited this loophole, and in 2003′sGrutter v. Bollinger, Justice Sandra Day O’Connor adopted it as a constitutional doctrine, albeit an intellectually frivolous one, for reasons Justice Anthony Kennedy made clear in his dissent. Nearly 35 years after Bakke, discrimination persists thanks to Justice Powell’s half-baked notion.

In NFIB v. Sebelius, Chief Justice Roberts did something of the opposite. He provided some splendid analysis of the Commerce Clause, setting a precedent that may have beneficial repercussions in coming years. He then proceeded, as the dissenters wrote, “deep into the forbidden land of the sophists.” He engaged in a convoluted reconstruction of the statute in order to reach a bad result.

That drew some revealing plaudits. Jonathan Chait of New York magazine: “Roberts peered into the abyss of a world in which he and his colleagues are little more than Senators with lifetime appointments, and he recoiled. The long-term war over the shape of the state goes on, but the crisis of legitimacy has been averted. I have rarely felt so relieved.”

The “crisis of legitimacy” that Chait claims Roberts averted would have consisted of people like Chait screaming bloody murder about a 5-4 decision whose result they didn’t like. A 5-4 decision whose result they like is just dandy. In other words, the source of the hypothetical “crisis of legitimacy” was not the decision or the 5-4 vote but the left’s rejection of it.

Podcast

James Taranto on NFIB v. Sebelius.

We’d go a step further and say that the left in America is experiencing its own crisis of legitimacy, in part as a result of the welfare state’s crisis of resources. The combination of slow economic growth and already sclerotic government makes it increasingly difficult to expand the latter in order to maintain the loyalty of Democratic voting blocs. The Democrats’ and public-sector unions’ political failures in Wisconsin are the most dramatic example of the increasingly adversarial relationship between taxpayers and those who are rewarded with tax dollars for supporting the party.

The pre-emptive attacks on the Supreme Court were of a piece with the increasingly desperate and absurd charges of racism that those on the left hurl at their opponents. Again, they are projecting their own illegitimacy onto others.

The most charitable way of describing Roberts’s apparent motive in upholding ObamaCare is that even as he was advancing good legal doctrine, he wished to shield the court from a political storm. That is an understandable impulse, though we are skeptical that yielding to it was wise.

“Liberals who waxed hysterical about a politicized court need to reckon with the fact that the most ‘political’ of all the opinions on the health care law was the one that ultimately upheld it,” writes the New York Times’s Ross Douthat. Actually, they don’t need to reckon with it unless they suddenly develop intellectual integrity.

But a reckoning may be in order for Chief Justice Roberts. He appears to believe that in order to get beyond politicization, he must first take account of politics. Perhaps instead the way to stop deciding cases on the basis of politics is to stop deciding cases on the basis of politics.

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702304058404577496662674376768.html?mod=WSJ_Opinion_MIDDLETopOpinion

Commentary Magazine rejects the idea that conservatives should take comfort in Roberts’ decision

Omri Ceren is spot on in many respects. As I mentioned before, I think Kennedy got it right in his dissent and Roberts should have probably just stuck to his conservative guns. The fact is the political war over the direction of our country will not end by conservatives throwing bones and asking for peace.

You cannot rely on judicial nuance to carry votes. And while Obama and Pelosi are gloating now, it will only get worse as we approach November. Democrats will not claim victory on Obamacare with an asterisk.

But what I come back to is the fact that ultimately it is up to the people, the masses, when it comes to what kind of government they want. And we might as well get this show on the road.

I am not optimistic at all that we will win this battle in November. But one thing that Roberts has done for us is drawn a clear line in the sand.

You are either for it or against it. The people will decide.

November’s vote will go down as one of the most important elections in our nation’s history. You watch. Or better yet, vote.

Executive privilege for Nixon, er, Obama

When “compassion” is the enemy

This is a theme I think about often: what is the place of compassion, mercy and generosity in the public realm. I will come back to it again and again over the coming months as the idea of compassion is used as a weapon to bludgeon sound thinking when it comes to public policy.

Since the president is the one who loves to sophomorically point out out all the false choices out there let’s talk about his own: you’re either for Obamacare or else you want poor people to live lives which are nasty brutish and short.

The idea of taxation for social welfare is another obvious one: you are either for paying more in taxes to the government or you are an unenlightened selfish bastard who cares only about yourself.

Of course the real debate shouldn’t even be on that planet but if the proponents of bigger government can force you to fight the battle there then they have already won. And all we have left to argue about is just how much control the state should have as opposed to whether it should be in the conversation at all.

That’s about what the 2008 presidential campaign was reduced to once it became clear that McCain was either unwilling or simply unable to debate Obama on ideas and assumptions.

The best thing about this year’s election, with the backdrop of a wheezing US economy and the imminent collapse of Greece and the Eurozone as we know it, is that finally the assumptions and other garbage that the left has spewed for decades is being challenged in a serious and fundamental way.

Of course we don’t know how this election will turn out but if one thing is clear from the vibrant urgency of the national debate it’s that it is not going away any time soon. The fight is on.

On that note there is an outstanding post that Zero Hedge is running this morning from Rex van Schalkwyk of Casey Research that everyone should read, if only to whet our appetites to think more about it. Here’s the conclusion:

If the hypocrisy of the pop stars is nauseating, the grandiloquent but meaningless oratory of the aspirant political “leaders,” of which much will be seen and heard in the coming months, is almost certain to produce results, the very opposite of what is pledged.

Greece, Spain, Portugal, Italy and others besides have fallen into the trap of bribing their electorates with promises that become ever more unsustainable. In each of these states, expectations have been created that cannot be met and that cannot now be undone. This is surely a recipe for social unrest.

These will not be the only countries to succumb to failure. The national debt, the unaffordable long-term cost of social security, health care and a myriad other entitlements and the mounting evidence of the insolvent state point to the same outcome for the UK and the US. Failure is ensured; the more pressing question is, what happens next?

And the link.