From National Review.
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The most disgusting part of politics has to be the deceit and disingenuousness that permeate seemingly every part of it. The stench is especially unbearable when the media fans it while professing impartiality and exuding condescending self regard for its assumed role in our national affairs.
Every once in a while, though, the vapid bleating of the media elite runs into a person who is not only armed with blunt facts but who is also willing to contradict one of the herd’s carefully manicured cliches. Katie Couric, meet Condi Rice. In the following interview, Couric does her best to intimidate Ms. Rice with an “everybody knows” assumption which she covers in the silky and smooth-from-training comforter of condescension, fully expecting Ms. Rice to keep nodding and just go along, but FULL STOP. Come again?
Of course, it’s not long before Rice has know-nothing Couric on her heels, and yet she manages to accomplish this feat in a disarming and inoffensive way.
I don’t know if Romney can bring her in but I’m all for a Romney-Rice ticket if he can. Watch:
I wish I were as flat out optimistic about Romney (and Obama’s chances of reelection) as our good friend Larry Kudlow. But I’m with him and I’m all in for Romney so let’s drink up the kool aid and get this party started. Time for some strong animal spirits for a change.
Read Kudlow on Obama’s goose.
Mitt Romney is making it hard to get behind him. But we have no choice. I will enthusiastically vote for Romney in November, at this point because Obama holds the gun that is pointed at our collective head. Unfortunately he appears to be a tone deaf simple politician who lacks understanding when it comes to the great issue of our time, namely, freedom. But he’s all we’ve got and he’s far far better than the alternative.
And who knows. Maybe he’ll eventually rise to the occasion.
Here’s a piece from Powerline on the topic:
When the Mitt doesn’t fit
Romney campaign strategist Eric Fehrnstrom appeared on MSNBC yesterday (video clip below). What is a top Romney campaign adviser doing on MSNBC? Nothing good, as it turns out.
MSNBC’s Chuck Todd extracted Fehrnstrom’s concurrence with Obama that Obamacare’s mandate is not a tax. Taking Fehrnstrom as Romney’s spokesman, we can conclude that Romney begs to differ with Obama’s lawyers (i.e., Obama in court) and with the Supreme Court: it’s not a tax.
What can we learn from this? I offer a multiple choice question.
(a) Romney is not the ideal candidate to don the mantle of opposition to Obamacare.
(b) Romney’s political instincts are lacking on a key campaign issue.
(c) Romney’s campaign requires an overhaul.
(d) Romney isn’t much of a Power Line reader.
(e) All of the above.
Obama’s Systematic Assault on the Truth
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.
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.
“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.
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.
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.
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.
In case you didn’t go to law school, mens rea is Latin for “guilty mind.” Without mens rea, generally speaking, you have no crime.
You may ask, what does this have to do with Barack Obama? A lot, in my opinion. Why? Because our current president graduated from what many consider the finest law school in our land. And he wasn’t just any student. I hear he was also Editor in Chief of the Harvard Law Review. This president at some point supposedly taught constitutional law as well.
So whatever one may think about his intelligence or intellectual aptitude, I find it impossible to believe that he did not master the basics at law school. But I’m still not talking about mens rea. I’m talking about understanding distinctions and the rational arguments underpinning them. This is a man that has no excuse when it comes to understanding what he is doing with respect to the law. He understands the legal implications of his oath of office; he understands the legal significance of his position as head of the executive branch of our federal government; and he knows all too well the conventional understanding of what his job is, from a constitutional perspective, as the President of the United States.
The same cannot be said for, you name them: Mitt Romney, George W. Bush, John McCain, Ronald Reagan, even John Kerry and Al Gore. At some level these men, if they had to, could fall back on the excuse that they were simply acting with their heart, that they were doing what they believed right in their own eyes and what someone had told them was in keeping with constitutional requirements and norms. In other words if someone accused them of breaching their constitutional duty they could always claim an absence of mens rea. Bill Clinton could not. And Barack Obama cannot. The difference there is that Clinton never asserted executive privilege the way Obama has become so cavalier at doing.
I cite two examples (there are so many more). One Fast and Furious and the refusal to turn over documents that Congress quite simply has the authority to see.
But even more problematic is Obama’s recent amnesty pronouncements on immigration. At least with respect to Fast and Furious there can be a good old fashioned argument over where a line is drawn. On the issue of illegal immigration the president has simply proclaimed that he does not intend to uphold the law.
First, remember the words from Article II of the Constitution and the 1884 presidential oath of office:
Before he enter on the Execution of his Office, he shall take the following Oath or Affirmation:–”I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.
And the oath:
I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter: So help me God.
As Joseph Curl writes, the president even told a group of young Hispanics in 2011:
“America is a nation of laws, which means I, as the president, am obligated to enforce the law. I don’t have a choice about that. That’s part of my job.
“Congress passes the law. The executive branch’s job is to enforce and implement those laws,” he said. “There are enough laws on the books by Congress that are very clear in terms of how we have to enforce our immigration system that for me to simply through executive order ignore those congressional mandates would not conform with my appropriate role as president.”
Yet in the past week the president announced he would no longer enforce a key aspect of federally-legislated immigration laws, namely, that if illegal immigrants were younger than 16 when they illegally entered the country they can receive a 2-year exemption from immigration. This discretionary policy from the Obama administration will be extended to any illegal immigrant up to the age of 30.
Now I’m not here to debate the merit or wisdom of this law. But I am saying that it is a LAW. It also happens to be a law that many people in this country, right or wrong, support and which neither the Supreme Court nor any US appellate court has ever declared unconstitutional. What it is not is something that the president has discretion to enforce or not.
The bottom line is the president needs Hispanic votes in large numbers in key states to win this election and promoting this illegal amnesty program for illegal immigrants is one way he thinks he can pull that off. Obviously Democrats won’t complain about the overreach and the Republicans who do will be labelled as (a) racists and (b) rank partisans. Again, it is another carefully calculated move to arrogate power for himself that he was not given by the Constitution.
One may argue that this has been going on since the beginning of the republic and there may be some partial truth to that statement. The difference here is the sheer brazenness of the move and the outright flouting of bright line established law. This is not something that is blurred at the margins.
But most damning of all is the president’s guilty mind. The mens rea with which he has seized the reigns of power, ignored the law and turned his back on one of the most fundamental obligations he has as President of the United States.
He knows what he has done and he is without excuse.
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.
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.