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Krauthammer echoes, and eloquently

Charles Krauthammer: Why Roberts did it

Charles Krauthammer
Thursday, Jun 28, 2012

It’s the judiciary’s Nixon-to-China: Chief Justice John Roberts joins the liberal wing of the Supreme Court and upholds the constitutionality of Obamacare. How? By pulling off one of the great constitutional finesses of all time. He managed to uphold the central conservative argument against Obamacare, while at the same time finding a narrow definitional dodge to uphold the law — and thus prevented the court from being seen as having overturned, presumably on political grounds, the signature legislation of this administration.

Why did he do it? Because he carries two identities. Jurisprudentially, he is a constitutional conservative. Institutionally, he is chief justice and sees himself as uniquely entrusted with the custodianship of the court’s legitimacy, reputation and stature.

As a conservative, he is as appalled as his conservative colleagues by the administration’s central argument that Obamacare’s individual mandate is a proper exercise of its authority to regulate commerce.

That makes congressional power effectively unlimited. Mr. Jones is not a purchaser of health insurance. Mr. Jones has therefore manifestly not entered into any commerce. Yet Congress tells him he must buy health insurance — on the grounds that it is regulating commerce. If government can do that under the commerce clause, what can it not do?

“The Framers . . . gave Congress the power to regulate commerce, not to compel it,” writes Roberts. Otherwise you “undermine the principle that the Federal Government is a government of limited and enumerated powers.”

That’s Roberts, philosophical conservative. But he lives in uneasy coexistence with Roberts, custodian of the court, acutely aware that the judiciary’s arrogation of power has eroded the esteem in which it was once held. Most of this arrogation occurred under the liberal Warren and Burger courts, most egregiously with Roe v. Wade, which willfully struck down the duly passed abortion laws of 46 states. The result has been four decades of popular protest and resistance to an act of judicial arrogance that, as Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg once said, “deferred stable settlement of the issue” by the normal electoral/legislative process.

More recently, however, few decisions have occasioned more bitterness and rancor than Bush v. Gore, a 5 to 4 decision split along ideological lines. It was seen by many (principally, of course, on the left) as a political act disguised as jurisprudence and designed to alter the course of the single most consequential political act of a democracy — the election of a president.

Whatever one thinks of the substance of Bush v. Gore, it did affect the reputation of the court. Roberts seems determined that there be no recurrence with Obamacare. Hence his straining in his Obamacare ruling to avoid a similar result — a 5 to 4 decision split along ideological lines that might be perceived as partisan and political.

National health care has been a liberal dream for a hundred years. It is clearly the most significant piece of social legislation in decades. Roberts’s concern was that the court do everything it could to avoid being seen, rightly or wrongly, as high-handedly overturning sweeping legislation passed by both houses of Congress and signed by the president.

How to reconcile the two imperatives — one philosophical and the other institutional? Assign yourself the task of writing the majority opinion. Find the ultimate finesse that manages to uphold the law, but only on the most narrow of grounds — interpreting the individual mandate as merely a tax, something generally within the power of Congress.

Result? The law stands, thus obviating any charge that a partisan court overturned duly passed legislation. And yet at the same time the commerce clause is reined in. By denying that it could justify the imposition of an individual mandate, Roberts draws the line against the inexorable decades-old expansion of congressional power under the commerce clause fig leaf.

Law upheld, Supreme Court’s reputation for neutrality maintained. Commerce clause contained, constitutional principle of enumerated powers reaffirmed.

That’s not how I would have ruled. I think the “mandate is merely a tax” argument is a dodge, and a flimsy one at that. (The “tax” is obviously punitive, regulatory and intended to compel.) Perhaps that’s not how Roberts would have ruled had he been just an associate justice and not the chief. But that’s how he did rule.

Obamacare is now essentially upheld. There’s only one way it can be overturned. The same way it was passed — elect a new president and a new Congress. That’s undoubtedly what Roberts is telling the nation: Your job, not mine. I won’t make it easy for you.

letters@charleskrauthammer.com

The good thing about the Obamacare ruling and why John Roberts is a genius

The spin has already started about the Supreme Court’s ruling on Obamacare.  Obama Pelosi & Co are gloating (“It’s constitutional, b*tches”) and Republicans are saying “it ain’t so bad” and vowing to make the presidential election a referendum on the Obamacare legislation.

Now I need to say at the outset that I haven’t yet made my way through Roberts’ and Kennedy’s opinions but I’m looking forward to it.  But I’ve read enough of Roberts’ words to be immediately struck by his genius.

To borrow a phrase from our president, let me be clear.  I’m not saying he’s a genius because he gamed the system or because he somehow in partisan fashion set the Democrats up for failure. Instead, he is ingenious because he (1) remained pure to his conservative judicial philosophy while (2) reining in his liberal colleagues on the court to his view and (3) forcing the president and his allies to accept victory at the risk of being villainized for imposing the greatest single tax hike on the American people in the history of our country (which from a Republican strategist’s point of view offers the added benefit of allowing the president to declare victory only if he is also willing to accept the moniker of liar).

While Roberts had to understand that a vote against Obamacare would result in the united proclamation among the media and talking heads in Washington that the verdict was rigged and he is a racist, I don’t think Roberts wrote what he wrote because he was afraid of such slander.

I think Roberts wrote what he wrote because it’s what he believes.  I won’t argue with whether he was right, but he is smart, thoughtful and he believes that it is not the Supreme Court’s job to legislate.  That is a great starting point.

Having said all that, I do look forward to reading Justice Kennedy’s dissenting opinion.  I’m not a Constitutional law expert, but I’m inclined to believe that it’s the Court’s minority that got it right as a constitutional matter.  As a matter of law, it is hard to swallow that Congress can levy a tax (a) that the law’s drafters and proponents always insisted wasn’t one or (b) that is based on the inactivity of American citizens (for not purchasing health insurance–isn’t that really just a penalty that Congress is asking the IRS to enforce?).  That kind of interpretation requires a special kind of judicial sleight of hand.

However, what it seems that everyone on the Court agrees on is that the individual mandate to purchase health insurance can only pass muster as a law if it is understood as a tax.  Remember, Roberts wrote the opinion on behalf of the four “liberals” on the Court, while Kennedy wrote the dissent for the “conservatives.”  The Supreme Court at least has drawn a line in the sand that, contrary to Pelosi’s idiotic remarks, there is a limit (perhaps theoretical) to the federal government’s powers.

It may not be long, after the initial glow of victory has begun to fade, before Obamacare advocates start to realize that the Court’s decision has put them and their big government party in a bit of a bind.  While Democrats like to be the ones who give away free stuff, they will not like being saddled with the now explicit burden that their most recent generosity is only possible by a radical new increase in taxes on the middle class.

My guess is that once this realization sinks in the criticism of Roberts will begin anew and the Obama spin (aka lies) will be even harder to stomach.

Some pre-Obamacare ruling comments regarding the left and right

The Left, the Right, and the Constitution
By Yuval Levin
June 27, 2012 2:15 P.M.

Whatever decision the Supreme Court announces on Obamacare tomorrow, the various liberal missives of anticipatory anxiety in recent days have already revealed a great deal about the Left’s attitude toward our constitutional system. What we’ve learned can hardly come as news to conservatives, but it has been put forward in an unusually clear and undiluted form, and so is worth some thought. A few reflections below the fold (as this is a day that seems to call for long posts).

The basic message of these left-leaning diatribes is pretty simple: A majority of the Court could only disagree with liberals about whether requiring all Americans to buy health insurance is beyond the proper bounds of the Congress’s power to regulate commerce if that majority acted in a purely political or partisan way; there is no room for disagreement regarding the actual interpretation of the actual Constitution.

E.J. Dionne says that if the Court overturns any part of Obamacare, “we will need a fearless conversation about how a conservative majority of the court has become a cog in a larger right-wing project to make progressive political and legislative victories impossible.” James Fallows says that “the Roberts majority is barreling ahead without regard for the norms, and it is taking the court’s legitimacy with it.” Yale law professor Akhil Amar thinks the proper outcome is so obvious that if even four justices disagree with him then the Court must be a sham—and he takes it personally. “If they decide this by 5-4,” he told Ezra Klein, “then yes, it’s disheartening to me, because my life was a fraud. Here I was, in my silly little office, thinking law mattered, and it really didn’t. What mattered was politics, money, party, and party loyalty.” Other examples abound this week.

It would be easy to criticize all this for its sheer unselfconscious lack of seriousness: These people are actually saying that any outcome except the one they want must be driven by an outcome-oriented political crusade. Only their view could result from an actual engagement with the question before the Court, and any other view could only be a function of corruption or of cynicism. It must be nice to be so enlightened.

More interesting, however, is what such an argument implies about one’s view of politics. Dionne, Fallows, Amar, and similar observers on the Left seek to draw a stark distinction between political and judicial thought, and it reveals their very low opinion of political ideas. They imply that there ought to be no connection between the most basic political divisions that define our public life—crudely encompassed in the Left/Right division—and ways of understanding the Constitution. This is a profound mistake, and a very telling one. As the Left often does, they underplay the substantive seriousness and significance of the Left/Right divide, presumably because they do not think of themselves as possessed of a particular worldview and believe they are merely objectively analyzing the obvious realities of the world around us. But there’s much more than they think to the Left/Right divide.

To put the matter much too broadly, the Left/Right divide begins in a disagreement about the nature of the liberal society; the Left and the Right are really two kinds of liberalism. I took up this subject in NR last fall, writing:

The difference between these two kinds of liberalism — constitutionalism grounded in humility about human nature and progressivism grounded in utopian expectations — is a crucial fault line of our politics, and has divided the friends of liberty since at least the French Revolution. It speaks to two kinds of views about just what liberal politics is.

One view, which has always been the less common one, holds that liberal institutions were the product of countless generations of political and cultural evolution in the West, which by the time of the Enlightenment, and especially in Britain, had begun to arrive at political forms that pointed toward some timeless principles in which our common life must be grounded, that accounted for the complexities of society, and that allowed for a workable balance between freedom and effective government given the constraints of human nature. Liberalism, in this view, involves the preservation and gradual improvement of those forms because they allow us both to grasp the proper principles of politics and to govern ourselves well.

The other, and more common, view argues that liberal institutions were the result of a discovery of new political principles in the Enlightenment — principles that pointed toward new ideals and institutions, and toward an ideal society. Liberalism, in this view, is the pursuit of that ideal society. Thus one view understands liberalism as an accomplishment to be preserved and enhanced, while another sees it as a discovery that points beyond the existing arrangements of society. One holds that the prudent forms of liberal institutions are what matter most, while the other holds that the utopian goals of liberal politics are paramount. One is conservative while the other is progressive.

The principles that the progressive form of liberalism thought it had discovered were much like those that more conservative liberals believed society had arrived at through long experience: principles of natural rights that define the proper ends and bounds of government. Thus for a time, progressive and conservative liberals in America — such as Thomas Jefferson and Thomas Paine on one hand and James Madison and Alexander Hamilton on the other — seemed to be advancing roughly the same general vision of government. But when those principles failed to yield the ideal society (and when industrialism seemed to put that ideal farther off than ever), the more progressive or radical liberals abandoned these principles in favor of their utopian ambitions. At that point, progressive and conservative American liberals parted ways — the former drawn to post-liberal philosophies of utopian ends (often translated from German) while the latter continued to defend the restraining mechanisms of classical-liberal institutions and the skeptical worldview that underlies them.

That division is evident in many of our most profound debates today, and especially in the debate between the Left and the Right about the Constitution.

It is not by coincidence that the Constitution is central to the argument. The constitution largely embodies in its forms and structures the more conservative form of American liberalism, and from the moment the progressive movement was born its adherents understood that the Constitution as traditionally understood must be their foremost target for reform. The first real skirmishes between conservatives and progressives (about a century ago) were explicitly about the Constitution, and many subsequent ones have been too.

It thus makes sense that the Left/Right divide should be embodied in a divide on the Court—a divide about serious questions of interpretation in light of a serious dispute about the purpose and character of our society, not a divide over “money, party, and party loyalty,” as Akhil Amar puts it. Many people who are liberals or conservatives are (at least implicitly) liberals or conservatives for a serious set of reasons, and that serious set of reasons also shapes how they understand and approach the Constitution.

There is a serious debate to be had between the partisans of these two sets of views, and it is a debate that often is had among Supreme Court justices in their written opinions. If we understand the contours of that debate, we can have some sense of where serious people on either side are likely to fall much of the time. After all, the liberals on the Supreme Court are at least as predictable (indeed more so, as is evident in the Obamacare speculation) as the conservatives. Dionne, Amar, and Fallows are too. And that makes sense: They hold certain views for reasons that we and they can understand, and they seek to apply them thoughtfully to particular instances.

This debate is indeed a political debate, in the best and highest sense. But that does not make it a cynical debate, or an illegitimate one. On the contrary. The apparent inability of many left-wing commentators to see that point tells us more than all their diatribes in recent days. Their anger about the very possibility that the Court might disagree with them about Obamacare suggests that they do not believe that there can be such a thing as a serious political debate—they take serious and political to be opposites. And it shows.

Thanks to National Review.

The two scariest charts in Europe make for scary reading in the US (especially with an jobs-killing president at the helm)

The charts say it all.

Fast and Furious: At least someone (Jon Stewart) is paying attention

I frequently wonder when I read the news how many other Americans are reading the same news as I.  It’s a fairly easy study to undertake.  First, you can take in Drudge Report.  Then flip to CNN.com.  The funny thing is how little overlap there is.  The next funny thing is that a lot of the controversial stories that CNN covers the Drudge reader will have already read some time before.  Most of the time, however, what you see in Drudge is only brought to light in the mainstream media (CNN, ABC, CBS, NBC, NY Times, Washington Post) kicking and screaming.

That brings me to Jon Stewart.  I’m not a huge fan of his, but that’s a personal thing and really beside the point.  For the most part his political bias is plain despite his protestations to the contrary.  But I’ll cut him some slack.  Were they any other he wouldn’t be on Comedy Central.  So when he alights upon an issue that is near to conservatives’ heart, e.g., Fast and Furious, it warms my heart and while it occurs all too infrequently you know when it does that the liberal establishment has to sit up and take notice.

His takedown of Holder and Obama on the Fast and Furious scandal and the president’s naked power move of asserting executive privilege over it is (1) spot on and (2) hilarious.

Enjoy.  (Btw if you can’t watch embedded version you can click on “Watch on YouTube.”)

Executive privilege for Nixon, er, Obama

The “real choice” for president

NYC Mayor Bloomberg has been in the news lately for stating what those of us who don’t intend to vote for Obama in November think is obvious: Romney would run the country better than Obama.  The mayor added that he can’t endorse Romney, though, because of his stance on some social issues.

I don’t know that this non-endorsement does much one way or another, but it certainly isn’t helpful to Obama in the competency category, which seems to me the most important perception issue for many rank and file Americans.

That said, it’s Bloomberg’s comments at the end of the New York Times story that really caught my eye:

“They’re very different, and they give the public a real choice. It’s hard to argue that you can’t tell the difference, if you will. They run the spectrum on lots of different issues.”

For all of Zero Hedge and other libertarians’ revulsion at the seeming similarities between candidates that come out of our two-party system, the fact remains that there is actually a significant difference on the whole between the parties, their candidates and between Romney and Obama in particular.  That difference may be difficult to see once one candidate or another takes control of the behemoth of a mother ship that is our federal government, but the chasm that separates these two men who are running for president couldn’t be wider no matter what anyone tries to say.

Is Romney my ideal candidate?  Of course not.  But that is a pointless question.  Only communists, socialists, banana republicans and Democrats (especially of the 2008 variety) believe that there is such a thing.

All this brings us back to a relatively simple choice.  Who do you think would be a better president for our country in 2012–Barack Obama or Mitt Romney?  Fortunately, and despite the objections of the conspiracy theorists out there, voter fraud or intimidation should not play a decisive role in our election.  I think it is unlikely that the outcome will depend on a hanging chad.  These are different times and like Mayor Bloomberg said, Obama and Romney are “very different, and they give the public a real choice.”

It doesn’t take much in terms of reading and listening to understand what that choice is.

For example.

Obama wants a bigger, more expansive, more expensive state for the ostensible purposes of taking care of people who can’t take care of themselves.  This comes at the price of freedoms.  And no, that is not a false choice.  More bureaucracy, more taxes, more regulations–these things by definition require citizens to cede, to a greater or lesser extent, discretion and authority over their lives to the state. There is also that nagging problem of whether a continuously expanding state can ever be paid for but for sake of argument let’s put that on the back burner.

Romney argues for a smaller, less expensive, less invasive state.  While protecting the freedoms of individual Americans, this comes at the price of additional government benefits and protections.  Only Democratic spinsters and sophomoric cynics will tell you that Romney is a big government guy too.  Even if true it’s a ridiculous and unpersuasive argument–not to mention a cop out–as a reason to vote for Obama or as a reason not to vote at all.  The fact is we already have a gigantic government!  There is no getting around it.  It is not a justification for intentionally, volitionally and with (malice) aforethought making the problem worse!

The candidates believe fundamentally different things about the reason and role of government.  Don’t fool yourself that there isn’t a choice; that there isn’t a difference.  Romney isn’t the “one we’ve been waiting for.”  But he has an understanding of how things actually work.  He understands that in addition to benefits, public policies also have costs and someone has to pay for them.  He’s right on the issues that matter.

In November there may be a choice.  But we don’t have an alternative.

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.

Thomas Sowell understands history and economics. He also knows Obama

If you haven’t read Thomas Sowell then you need to. Sowell is a free thinking economist and template buster who refuses to kowtow to the sacred cows of modern intellectualism. He also happens to be black (making him “cool” in the parlance of the Congressional Black Caucus). On an interesting cultural note, David Mamet cites Sowell as one reason he’s no longer a brain dead liberal.

I would also encourage you to spend some time with Investor’s Business Daily, both for its investments insights as well as its opinion section. It is bold and spot on in its calls for a freer society and markets and in its criticism of anyone who seeks to curtail that freedom, even if that person is the President.

So it’s double the fun when Sowell has a piece in IBD as he does today. As usual he offers some excellent insight and we would do well to heed his words.

Here’s an excerpt:

What President Obama has been pushing for, and moving toward, is more insidious: government control of the economy, while leaving ownership in private hands. That way, politicians get to call the shots but, when their bright ideas lead to disaster, they can always blame those who own businesses in the private sector.

Politically, it is heads-I-win when things go right, and tails-you-lose when things go wrong. This is far preferable, from Obama’s point of view, since it gives him a variety of scapegoats for all his failed policies, without having to use President Bush as a scapegoat all the time.

Government ownership of the means of production means that politicians also own the consequences of their policies, and have to face responsibility when those consequences are disastrous — something that Barack Obama avoids like the plague.

Sowell goes on to break down the conventional criticism of Obama as socialist. The truth is scarier.

Read the rest here.

The real disease at Commerce

Here’s an interesting post on the scandal at the Commerce Department.  Highlights:

Last Saturday, it is being reported that U.S. Department of Commerce Secretary John Bryson was involved in two auto accidents that may have been related to a seizure he suffered during the incidents.  According to CNN, Bryson is currently under investigation for a felony hit and run.  It is unclear at this point if the Commerce Secretary’s health condition played a part in either accident.  Police currently don’t believe drugs or alcohol were involved.  Whatever the case, Bryson’s insider status will likely help him escape any significant legal trouble that could arise from the episode.  That’s just how plutocracies roll. Perhaps now is a good time to analyze the oxymoronic reasoning behind a government bureaucrat in charge of regulating commerce.  According to Article 1, Section 8, Clause 3 of the U.S. Constitution, Congress shall have the authority “To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes.”  For those not fooled by the fantasy that government will always abide by the rules set up by its founders, the fact that Congress has used such vague language to regulate anything and everything under the sun comes as no surprise.  If the ruling class of the state really wants to ignore previously defined limits to its powers, there is little that will stop them short of full blown domestic revolution…

What ever medical condition Secretary Bryson may have is negligible in comparison to his statist mindset as the head of a regulatory bureaucracy.  Those who had their vehicle plowed into by his Lexus are not the only ones who have suffered at the hands of Secretary Bryson.  It is the businesses and innovations that will never see the light of day due to the endless amounts of regulatory red tape which permeate from Washington into the economy like a deadly plague.

Thanks to Zero Hedge for the link.

 

Obama and the Castros: The enemy of my enemy is my friend

I’ve got nothing against Sarah Jessica Parker.  I remember watching her in Square Pegs on syndicated TV 20+years ago and kind of liking her.  Who knew she would become the cultural icon she has become after her seminal work on Sex in the City.  Back then she was kind of cute.  Big glasses, awkward, dorky.  Total diamond in the rough.

Her transformation reminds me of that woman in the old Equinox gym commercial where she rips off her trench coat to let her inner vixen out and show just how much her ex is missing–thanks to Equinox.  Okay you may have missed that one.

Today Sarah Jessica Parker is like a senior stateswoman in the Democrat fundraising machine.  Older wiser richer more famous than you.  She still has some of that girl next door charm so when she invites you to participate in a raffle for the chance to come to her house and sit next to her and Anna Wintour (the British devil lady who has the geriatric hairdo and also wears Prada) and I guess meet Barack Obama, if you watch so much TV that the condescending falseness of the pitch doesn’t make your skin crawl then maybe it’s alluring in some pre-teen way.

But still, Parker and Wintour are not my enemies.  Nor are they the enemies of our country except to the extent that they contribute to the cultural and moral rot that afflicts all free societies.

Politically, however, they are enemies of the Anyone but Obama campaign and more specifically they are enemies of Romney.  That makes them, according to the famous Arabic and Chinese proverbs, friends of Obama.  Of course we knew that.

So that brings me to Mariela Castro.  In case you didn’t know, she is the unapologetic daughter of Cuban dictator Raul Castro and the niece of Fidel.  These men and their totalitarian regime are unequivocally and unabashedly the enemies of America.

That, however, did not prevent Raul’s daughter from visiting the U.S. nor from weighing in on our election.  From the Wall Street Journal:

Mariela Castro proclaimed her support for the sitting president 10 days ago, during a visit to the United States. “I believe that Obama needs another opportunity and he needs greater support to move forward with his projects and with his ideas, which I believe come from the bottom of his heart,” she said in a CNN interview in New York.

Mary Anastasia O’Grady’s piece in the Journal is a must read.  She goes on to question how on earth it is that sexologist Castro gets a visa to come to the U.S. on “free speech” grounds when (1) her father is holding at least one American hostage and (2) this administration has denied or yanked visas for any number of foreign official for all kinds flimsy political reasons.

So if the bar that has to be cleared is set by democratic standards, human-rights records and anticorruption, how in heaven’s name did this regime mouthpiece sail into the U.S. while her father is holding an American hostage? The State Department maintains that the official policy restricts access only for “senior [communist] party members and senior members of the government.” Yet Ms. Castro did not travel in the U.S. like a private citizen. She was flacking for her old man and the State Department even gave her a security detail. A department official told me that she was entitled to that as a “child of a head of state.”

This is the kind of thing that makes U.S. presidents look weak in the eyes of tyrants and that seems to be the way Ms. Castro likes it. If Mr. Obama had more backing from Americans, she speculated in her CNN interview, U.S.-Cuba relations could be “as good or better than we had under President Carter.” And isn’t every American just pining for the good old days of Carter foreign policy?

It is well known that Fidel Castro and his brother’s 50-year-old regime is a murderous, oppressive and despotic one that has spit in the eye of America and its ideals of freedom for all from the early post-Motorcycle Diary days when Che dropped his pen and, along with Fidel, picked up the sickle with which he slit the throats of millions of innocents–90 miles from our shores.

Obama is too cool, too sophisticated, too desperate for cash, to carry the torch for the causes of life and death.  He loves the things that are airy, light, breezy.

He may not like the sex but he definitely likes the city.  He likes the vogue.  But he seethes from his perch on the left at the goings on of those who oppose his will.  He knows a comrade when he sees one.  So while he may pay lip service to America’s Cuban doctrine, his heart is with those who do not resist him and who loathe those whom he loathes.

In other words, welcome Mariela!

Even if we don’t subscribe to that famous old proverb, her endorsement of the president should be sufficient to not vote for him.

How is that “serious and frank discussion” working out, Kofi?

In a classic case of it’s easy to pick on the vulnerable bad guys, the Obama-Annan school of foreign policy has run into the reality that their words mean little and their threats mean even less.  Syria is a train wreck but Assad’s got friends who’ll back him up and his enemies are blowhards.  Is Syria really different from Libya?  Probably so.  But the real difference is that Gaddafi didn’t have any friends left.

I’m not saying we should intervene in Syria.  But a “big stick”?  I don’t think so.