A Rasmussen survey of likely voters taken June 29-30 shows that Democrats have work left to do to convince the electorate that Mitt Romney specifically and Republicans generally are “extremist.” In fact, 47 percent of respondents said they consider President Obama’s views “extreme,” while 31 percent used the same word for Romney’s views.
A bare majority, 51 percent, called Romney’s views “mainstream,” while 18 percent said they had no opinion on the matter.
Rasmussen’s July 7 tracking poll shows Romney and Obama tied at 45 percent.
Way back in February I expanded on a report in the Christian Science Monitor that suggested al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) had set up shop against the Assad regime, in Syria. Writing both here, and for the Foreign Policy Association, I joined the chorus of analysts, academics, and pundits who urged caution against arming Syrian rebels — precisely because it’s unthinkable to equip battle-hardened veterans of an Iraqi insurgency who cut their teeth fighting American servicemen in the street of Fallujah, Tikrit, et al.
These initial warnings surfaced around the time al Qaeda’s de facto leader, Ayman al Zawahiri, urged Levatine Islamists of all shapes and sizes to take the fight to Damascus. In essence, he was appealing to members of the most-radicalized membership of the Ikhwan movement and violent Salafists, many of whom live on the eastern side of the shared, 600 mile border between Syria and Iraq.
Needless to say, rank-and-file types serving in such organizations as AQI, the United Jihad Factions, Jaish al-Rashidun, and the Islamic Army in Iraq weren’t necessarily produced by a monolithic, indigenous militant Islamist movement in Iraq. They came from other countries. Many of them came from Syria. And now they’ve returned home.
This latter statement was confirmed by Iraqi Foreign Minister, Hoshyar Zebari, on Thursday. AP reports suggested leadership in Baghdad feared an extremist toehold in Syria — Zebari elaborated cautiously, but did state his main concern is “extremist, terrorist groups taking root in neighboring countries.”
An understandable concern, given the current state of Iraq — a country so fragile, it exists in a perpetual state of simmering self-implosion. A famous German proverb states that a long war leaves a country with three armies — an army of cripples, an army of mourners, and an army of thieves. While the latter force occupies the parliament in Baghdad, one might argue a fourth army manifested itself in the Iraq war, and it’s now pitched camp in Syria.
Lest we make the same mistakes again… let us recognize the latest confirmation of collateral damage wrought by war in Iraq — when first we beheaded (if not quite literally) our unlikely Iranian counterbalance and ally in the war on radical Islam, Mssr. Saddam Hussein. The Butcher of Baghdad was a vile despot. His tyranny represented the petty archaism of socialist Pan-Arabism, and his iron fist throttled the lifeblood of his countrymen. But coalition war on Iraqi Arabs cultivated popular protest — the sort of social upheaval that resulted in the ouster of two of America’s most unpopular proxies, Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali of Tunisia and Hosni Mubarak of Egypt. Of course this was before the NATO bombing campaign over Libya created a migration crisis that ultimately destabilized Mali.
Before the next Turkish plane gets shot down, I’d expect Ankara to demand a contingency plan from fellow NATO members. Well, it’s time to “just say no,” and tone down our insatiable instinct to intervene.
Rep. Thaddeus McCotter (R-MI) has announced his resignation from Congress.
Today I have resigned from the office of United States Representative for Michigan’s 11th Congressional District.
After nearly 26 years in elected office, this past nightmarish month and a half have, for the first time, severed the necessary harmony between the needs of my constituency and of my family. As this harmony is required to serve, its absence requires I leave.
The recent event’s totality of calumnies, indignities and deceits have weighed most heavily upon my family. Thus, acutely aware one cannot rebuild their hearth of home amongst the ruins of their U.S. House office, for the sake of my loved ones I must “strike another match, go start anew” by embracing the promotion back from public servant to sovereign citizen.
Just a short time ago, McCotter was rising in the House Republican ranks and emerging as a mordant, pop culture-savvy defender of conservative principles on television and radio. He launched an ill-fated bid for the Republican presidential nomination that was dropped well before the Iowa caucuses and failed to qualify for the GOP primary ballot for renomination after many of his signatures proved invalid. An investigation has been launched into the signature-gathering process employed by the campaign.
I profiled McCotter in the December ‘09/January ‘10 issue of The American Spectator.
Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) has come under fire for siding with the Obama administration over Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK) on the EPA’s air toxics rule for power plants. But a liberal environmental group, the Environmental Defense Alliance Fund, has bought $200,000 in ads thanking the senator.
The June jobs numbers are essentially unchanged from the disappointing May report, with the economy adding just 80,000 new jobs and the unemployment rate holding steady at 8.2 percent. President Obama told supporters this was a “step in the right direction” and his administration cautioned against reading too much into any single jobs report.
The last bit is sage advice. So let’s look at the bigger picture:
The Romney campaign has released a statement showing Obama saying some version of the following after each jobs report since November 2009: “Therefore, it is important not to read too much into any one monthly report and it is informative to consider each report in the context of other data that are becoming available.”
I’m not saying Rick Santorum is the best choice for vice president (although polls should be taken, in order to find out). But it defies all logic for Mitt Romney to fail to strongly consider Santorum. Think about it: When, in modern political history, has the strong runner-up in a presidential primary season failed to be at least on the short list for veep (other than in a case where the party already had an incumbent, as with Jimmy Carter in 1980)?
The only two times I can think of in which a strong runner-up was not short-listed were by Mondale in 1984 and Dukakis in 1988 — both resulting in huge losses.
But that’s just history. Why should Romney give Santorum a serious look? Well, this is reading between the lines in a number of polls and in anecdotal evidence — plus, judging from reader mail I get — but…. it seems to me that there are still large numbers of would-be-right-leaning voters who will not vote for Obama but who are still very large risks to stay home out of disgust at both parties. The political class, all wrapped up in the importance of this election, doesn’t seem to comprehend the “pox on both houses” mentality, but it is real, and it is significant. A lot of these would-be voters ted to vote based on factors of cultural identity or, rather, cultural/attitudinal consanguinity. Mitt Romney, the silver-spoon money manager, who also practices a religion they think is suspect (this isn’t religious bigotry: they might still vote for him, but it just makes him seem even less “like” them and thus less to get enthusiastic about), is hardly somebody to make them take the time to go to the polls — especially if they live in hard-scrabble rural areas, such as the Blue Ridge in Virginia or the Smoky Mountains in North Carolina. Indeed, I venture to guess that it is not in the Virginia suburbs of DC where that state will be won or lost, but in the turnout rates in the western half of Virginia.
Likewise, in all those rural areas of Ohio, Wisconsin, Michigan, and Minnesota where Rick Santorum did well, Romney is noticeably weak. He also, of course, has done a less than stellar job enthusing blue collar workers, especially in the Rust Belt.
Of course, these are areas where Santorum shines. He also enthuses the greatest turnout machine known on the right, namely Christian/Evangelical conservatives. Politicos just don’t understand that Evangelicals swing widely between full participation in elections and bored non-participation. But they do. Yes, they’ll vote more heavily this time if only to stop Obama, but for a lot of them, even that won’t be motivation enough. A lot of people need somebody to vote for, not just a cause to oppose.
Moreover, my observation is that cultural-identiy voters are more ikely than, say, suburban professional “soccer moms” to change voting behavior based on the second half of the ticket. Why? Because what they are looking for — in deciding not WHOM to vote for, but WHETHER to vote at all — are cues (and clues) that somebody on the ticket “gets” them, understands them, cares about them. Soccer moms, on the other hand, are all about the financial standing of their families. In a booming economy, they will vote more on cultural concerns such as abortion, Clintonian small-ball like school crossing guards, and the like. But in troubled economic times, they will look to the top of the ticket and make decisions based almost entirely on the economy. They don’t need cultural cues about whom to vote for, nor do they threaten not to vote if unenamored of both presidential candidates, nor do they care as much about who the running mate is. Instead, if they see better economic times coming with one candidate but not with another, they will vote for that above all else.
Even if the supposition is correct (which it might not be) that Rick Santorum isn’t strong among this class of “swing voter,” that won’t make much difference. They are Romney’s to win or lose based on Romney’s own appeal, not based on the choice of running mate. But blue-collar and rural voters — especially lower-mid income workers — really don’t trust either side when it comes to economics. They want attitudinal solidarity, or they won’t vote at all.
Polls in the weeks after Santorum dropped out of the race showed him to have remarkably high positive-to-negative ratings among Republicans overall; and among the broader electorate, it seemed clear to most observers that he was respected for genuineness even where he was disagreed with on some social issues. Among the borader electorate, Rick Santorum was seen as a well-meaning striver, an overachiever, a loving family man, and a smart and principled guy even among those who don’t like his conservatism. And soccer moms aren’t going to be really turned off, in bad economic times, by a Veep candidate who dotes so much on his wife and family.
So the upside of choosing Santorum is far greater than any perceptable downside. He’s been vetted in public; there aren’t any secrets to hurt the ticket; and he is a proven debater (all but one debate performances were good) and incredibly energetic campaigner.
If Romney doesn’t give a nod to Santorum’s millions of supporters nationwide, it’s like giving them the extended middle finger. Romney’s camp really, really, really ought to do polling in Pennsylvania, Michigan, Ohio, Wisconsin, Virginia, Missouri, Minnesota, Iowa and Colorado to see if a Romney-Santorum ticket would fare better than a plain Romney-unknown ticket. I’ll bet they would find the polling impressive. If so, Santorum should rise toward the top of the list.
Folks, the constitutional rule of law lost. To use a more appropriate metaphor, the only thing that looks silver is the shining metal of knives the government wields.
The unprecedented takeover of one-sixth of our economy and the greatest loss of individual liberty that the largest number of Americans have suffered in over a century is just the tip of the iceberg. Whatever rhetorical spin one can put on Roberts’ opinion is more than offset by the practical, deep, transcending, and even hidden effects of the ObamaCare ruling.
Fitzgibbons also makes a crucial point that has received too little attention:
The principal duty of any court is to adjudicate the matter before it. Opponents of ObamaCare lost the case. Period.
All this talk about Roberts cleverly setting the court or the national political debate up for the next round is completely wrongheaded. That is not a judge’s, or a justice’s, job. The job is to decide correctly the case immediately before them. That’s why it’s called “case law.” The reigning interpretation of the Constitution and laws is developed by slow accretions of court decisions, not by the courts playing politics to protect their own “majesty” while supposedly painting political actors into a corner. Each case decision ought to stand on its own, with its own logic enjoying ample foundation. This decision manifestly doesn’t. Fitzgibbons is right to point that out.
Chief Justice John Roberts’ decision on the ObamaCare case was, if anything, even worse than most conservative critics have said. At CFIF, I consider it point by point. Although I didn’t use these terms, what I show is that Roberts mischaracterized precedents, tortured logic, deliberately skated around constitutional restrictions on the taxing power, redefined words, unliterally rewrote the statute in two places, conflated tax breaks with an unprecedented beast amounting to a tax on inactivity, blatantly politicized the court in the name of avoiding a politicized image, and, as an aside, elevated a cliched aphorism to quasi-precedential status. In some places, he was grossly intellectually dishonest; in others, he was intellectually incoherent and/or philosophically hollow. If indeed he bowed to pressure from Barack Obama and the media, then he was pathetically craven; in finding a taxing power that not a single other court had found, he was stupendously arrogant. The decision was hamhandedly manipulative, logically insupportable, and deeply cynicial — and, of course, was, throughout the taxing part, full of utter sophistry.
Maybe Roberts was hoping that, with regard to the East Coast establishment, he will be seen like Confederate General Johnston was outside Atlanta, when he kept retreating rather than engaging Gen. Sherman in battle. A local newspaper editor, enthralled, wrote the Johnston’s reputation had “grown with every backward step.”
In terms of constitutional law and effective limits on federal action, by acknowledging limits on the Commerce Clause while expanding them on the taxing power he was like the American officer in Vietnam who said he had to “destroy the village in order to save it.” This decision was the judicial equivalent of a justice showing evidence of suffering from Stockholm Syndrome with regard to the coastal “elites.”
Call Roberts the Bart Stupak of the Supreme Court. He capitulation was just that bad.
Again, please do read my CFIF piece. Here’s one paragraph, from a much larger article:
The maxim to choose an interpretation of a law that would accept the law as constitutional, over an alternative interpretation that doesn’t, is meant to apply in cases where the two interpretations are equally or near-equally reasonable. Here, though, as we have seen, Roberts had to strain and stretch and twist and skate and float and use misdirection in order to somehow, some way, pretend to impose a plausible interpretation on an assertion that is not even in the same logical solar system as interpretations that are “straightforward” and “natural.”
And yes, I do cite chapter and verse (figuratively speaking) to back up these assertions and conclusions.
Rick Tonry has died.
Rick Tonry was a Democratic Louisiana state representative who was elected to Congress in 1976. His general-election opponent was a little-known prosecutor who had been drafted into the race at the last minute when the intended Republican candidate pulled out because of… I think it was business setbacks, or something like that. Anyway, in a seat thought to be safe for Democrats, Tonry won a surprisingly tight race. Soon, however, he was under fire for an alleged vote-buying scheme dating from his also-close Democratic primary. The evidence was substantial; Tonry resigned from Congress after only four months (and eventually was convicted of several charges).
The defeated Republican prosecutor quickly announced for the special election to replace Tonry. Still an underdog, the Republican won, in August of 1977. It was the very first sign of an incipient Republican, conservative comeback nationwide. It presaged important GOP House pickups in an important freshman class of 1978, with a net pickup of 15 Republican seats, and with the 77 new members overall (GOP and Democrat) being considered decidedly more conservative than their predecessors. Among the newly elected House members who were, or who would become, Republicans, were Dick Cheney, Newt Gingrich, Richard Shelby, Bill Thomas (later House Ways and Means Chairman), Dan Lungren (still in the House after an interim stint as California AG), Jerry Lewis (later House Appropriations Chairman, Olymia Snowe, Gerald Solomon (later the very influential chairman of the Rules Committee), Bill Clinger (Chairman of Committee on Reform and Oversight, which ran the Travelgate and Filegate investigations of the Clinton administration), Carroll Campbell (later goernor of South Carolina and key power broker in presidential politics), Phil Gramm, Ron Paul, and Jim Sensenbrenner (later chairman of the Judiciary Committee). (As an interesting sidelight, the newly elected Democrats included Geraldine Ferraro and Tom Daschle.)
The Louisiana Republican whose election started this wave was my former boss, Bob Livingston, who as House Appropriations Chairman oversaw the cutting of a then-whopping $50 billion (in actual dollars, not projections) in two years from domestic discretionary spending. Largely for better although obviously in one key instance for worse, Livingston played an outsized role in many of the key developments of the 1990s.
All of which was at least assisted in being catalyzed by the crookedness of Rick Tonry, without which it is surely not certain that Livingston would have gotten another chance. Livingston’s win in 1977 served sort of like the elections of Chris Christie and Bob McDonnell in 2009, or of George Allen in 1993, energizing conservatives for a watershed election by proving that victory was possible.
As for Tonry, he was later convicted of another bribery scheme, which then was thrown out on a technicality.
Tonry is dead at age 77.
Washington, D.C. Still in Grips of Record Heatway (CNBC)
Solyndra Times Three? (Breitbart)
Federal Government Bypassing Tennessee’s Sovereignty, Funding Planned Parenthood Against State Policy (Daily Caller)
iPhone Apps Hit by Corruption in App Store (The Guardian)
Jobs Growth Stagnates, Unemployment still at 8.2% (CNBC)
Racist Politico Reporter Blames Right Wing Extremists for Termination (Weasel Zippers)
Obama Still Insists Health Care Law Benefits Middle Class (Politico)
The Greater Boston Tea Party has organized a Repeal Obamacare rally tomorrow afternoon and I have been invited to speak. Details here.
Are John Roberts’ conservative critics more interested in the results than the law? Before the July 4th holiday, some of his conservative and libertarian defenders made that case. Matthew Franck tees off on Jan Crawford’s Roberts vote-switching story:
But what does Crawford actually claim to know? Just the following:
- that Roberts held one view in March, and a different one in May;
- that one or more of the four conservative justices, notably including Kennedy, tried to win him back to their view;
- that a month of trying to persuade him failed;
- that Chief Justice Roberts “pays attention to media coverage.”
That’s it. Sadly, for such a talented (and obviously well-placed) reporter, Crawford seems to work hard to achieve a certain effect in her story, namely that Roberts decided as he did for reasons that had nothing to do with the merits of the arguments in the case.
Doug Mataconis concurs, writing:
One need only look at the gun control cases (District of Columbia v. Heller and Chicago v. McCormack) or Citizens United for evidence of that. Why would he suddenly be so concerned now about what the media elite or the New York Times Editorial Board thinks of him or the Court?
First, the gulf between the Kennedy-Scalia-Thomas-Alito (and maybe Roberts?) opinion and Roberts’ final destination is pretty wide. It’s a big swing within a relatively short period of time from someone whose overall judicial philosophy appears to have remain unchanged. If on top of that you think his reading of the statute is strained, not an act of judicial restraint, and not as persuasive as the rest of his opinion, it’s natural to ask whether he was trying to force this conclusion.
Second, the examples of Heller and Citzens United cut both ways. They reveal Roberts is willing to strike down laws and portions of laws he clearly finds unconstitutional rather than err on the side of judicial restraint. But gun control and campaign finance reform, as important as they remain in some circles, have receded as political issues compared to health care reform. There is simply no comparison between McCain-Feingold or the restrictive gun laws of liberal cities and the signature domestic legislation of the sitting president of the United States.
But while it’s intellectually interesting to speculate why Roberts voted the way he did, ultimately what matters is how he voted. A lot of legal conservatives, perhaps including Roberts, apply originalism and textualism in a very limited way. If you understand the entire Constitution to be saying that whatever the federal government isn’t authorized to do is prohibited, you don’t have to be results-oriented to realize that the number of constitutionally acceptable results is limited.
Bob Tyrrell takes a different view, and Roberts will look like a genius if the health care law ends up being repealed without the Supreme Court being pulled into a political morass. But if you understand the Constitution to be establishing a federal government with powers that are few and defined, this really wasn’t a close call.
In recent weeks, I have been making the argument that adopting a unisex definition of marriage will have unintended consequences. There will be no institution in which adults not only make a public promise to care for each other, but also any children their sexual union happens to produce. Case in point is a bill being considered in California that tries to grapple with life post-traditional marriage by allowing a child to have more than two legal parents.
Nor is this just a mom, stepdad, dad kind of arrangement. The Sacremento Bee reports:
State Sen. Mark Leno is pushing legislation to allow a child to have multiple parents.
“The bill brings California into the 21st century, recognizing that there are more than Ozzie and Harriet families today,” the San Francisco Democrat said.
Surrogate births, same-sex parenthood and assisted reproduction are changing society by creating new possibilities for nontraditional households and relationships.
The genesis of this bill?
SB 1476 stemmed from an appellate court case last year involving a child’s biological mother, her same-sex partner, and a man who had an affair with the biological mother and impregnated her while she was separated temporarily from her female lover.
The Bee gives some example of who would benefit:
Romney: ‘Obamacare is a Tax’ (WaPo)
Fewer Unemployment Claims Than Expected, Renews Optimism (Bloomberg)
Renewed Focus on Oversight of Banks (WSJ)
Is Obama’s Autobiography ‘Greatly Exaggerated’? (Fox News)
WikiLeaks About to Publish 2.4 Million Syrian Emails (LA Times)
Obama’s Poor Campaign Strategy (Boston Herald)
Why California Should Open its Doors For Business Again (Forbes)
Savings Groups May Be the Answer to Global Poverty (NY Times)
The day before the Fourth of July, the Obama Administration saw fit to apologize to Pakistan. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton apologized for the November 2011 NATO airstrike which resulted in the deaths of 24 Pakistani soldiers. In return, Pakistan agreed to reopen NATO supply lines to Afghanistan that had been closed following the incident.
So does this mean the U.S. no longer believes that Pakistan fired upon Afghan troops? What does Afghanistan think of the U.S. apology? I can’t imagine they would be too happy about it.
One more question. When is Pakistan going to get around to apologizing to the United States for harboring Osama bin Laden?
Actor and TV icon Andy Griffith passed away today. A cause of death has not been released. He was 86.
Griffith is best known to most as the Sheriff of Mayberry on The Andy Griffith Show which aired on CBS between 1960 and 1968. He would also charm audiences for nearly another decade as defense attorney Ben Matlock in Matlock which aired first on NBC and then ABC. Griffith was also a fine musician. Occasionally, Griffith would play guitar with The Darling Boys (played by The Dillards) on The Andy Griffith Show. He also possessed a rich voice which he deployed in gospel music.
Politically, Griffith was a Democrat. In 2008, Griffith’s co-star Ron Howard recruited him along with Henry Winkler for an unofficial ad in support of Barack Obama. As someone who is not a fan of Obama, I have to say that this was the most effective ad produced on behalf of Obama. Griffith came across as he always did - gentle and reassuring. While I can’t prove it, Griffith probably helped Obama capture North Carolina because of that ad. In 2010, Griffith ruffled some feathers when he appeared in a government ad in support of Obamacare. Nevertheless, he left this world with a smile.
On Friday, Congress overwhelmingly passed a transportation/flood insurance/student loan conference bill, ends three years of ad-hoc action by Congress to keep transportation funding from ending. While the bill was not as flawed as it could have been, and some concerns expressed by conservatives – including myself – about the political process related to the bill never came to pass, it is still a major disappointment that it got through so easily.
The issues with legislation are not just policy-driven; there were at least two procedural issues. Some good reforms were included, but four major sticking points stand out:Continue reading…
“Dishonest John” Roberts sold out the Constitution last week for a mess of pottage—accolades from the Left. Now Mitt Romney appears to be selling out the health care system. But then, he originally sold it out long ago as governor.
Significantly, his campaign appears to want to take the most potent argument against the president on the health care subject off the table, likely out of fear the Romney himself is vulnerable when it comes to his health care record. He, after all, supported a mandate as governor of Massachusetts, and doesn’t want that to be considered a tax, either.
For an issue that’s supposedly potent against Democrats, Romney’s campaign is declaring a cease fire. This, even as the law polls unfavorably and it proved to be a motivating force for Republicans and disaffected independents in the 2010 midterms.
Of course, this should not come as a surprise. Romney always was for a health care mandate before he was against it.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s comments on Obamacare repeal, as reported by the Hill, aren’t terribly encouraging.
“If you like the bill — and some of you may — it is hard to undo something of this magnitude. It was a 2,700 page bill, which nobody really understands anyway,”McConnell is quoted as telling a Kentucky audience.
“If you thought it was a good idea for the federal government to go in this direction, I’d say the odds are still on your side,” McConnell continued. “Because it’s a lot harder to undo something than it is to stop it in the first place.” That’s true enough, but the overall tone doesn’t show a lot of fight. McConnell said after the Supreme Court decision that he would seek to repeal the health care law through reconciliation if he became majority leader.
This comes on the heels of Romney aide Eric Fehrnstrom denying that the individual mandate is a tax. Some speculated he was distancing himself from the logic by which the Robert Court upheld the law, but more likely he was trying to insulate his boss from charges he had raised taxes by signing a mandate into law in Massachusetts.
Dontrelle Willis announced his retirement from baseball yesterday. The southpaw had been pitching with the Norfolk Tides, the Triple A affiliate of the Baltimore Orioles. He is only 30.
Willis was drafted in the eighth round by the Chicago Cubs in 2000. Prior to the 2002 season, he was dealt to the Florida Marlins along with Julian Tavarez for pitchers Antonio Alfonseca and Matt Clement. Willis was an immediate sensation in 2003 winning 14 games and NL Rookie of the Year honors. Willis would also earn a World Series ring with the ‘03 Marlins. His high leg kick and gregarious personality earned him the nickname “D-Train”.
After a so-so campaign in 2004, Willis had the best season of his career in 2005 leading the NL in wins (22), complete games (7) and shutouts (5). He would finish runner up in NL Cy Young balloting to Chris Carpenter of the St. Louis Cardinals.
Willis would never again approach those numbers. By 2007, he gave up an NL leading 118 earned runs during a season in which he went 10-15 with a 5.17 ERA. However, this didn’t prevent the Detroit Tigers from acquiring Willis along with Miguel Cabrera in blockbuster trade prior to the 2008 season. While Cabrera lived up to his superstar billing, Willis struggled with his control and by June was demoted to their Single-A affiliate in Lakeland. Although he would return in September, he still struggled with his control. In 2009, Willis had to be put on the DL due to an anxiety disorder.
The Tigers would trade Willis to the Arizona Diamondbacks for pitcher Billy Buckner during the 2010 season. However, Willis would be released by the D’Backs a month later. He did sign a minor league deal with the San Francisco Giants but did not make the big club. After the Marlins traded Willis to the Tigers, he won only four more big league games. The last of which came in 2011 with the Cincinnati Reds in which he went 1-6 with a 5.00 ERA.
Willis did sign a one-year contract with the Philadelphia Phillies last December but was released during spring training. Days later he signed with the Orioles but did not want to pitch in relief which resulted in him briefly walking off the team.
I told my sister about Willis’ walkout during the course of San Francisco Giants pitcher Tim Lincecum’s struggles earlier this season. She responded that baseball could be a very sad sport. I hope Willis can find the kind of peace and contentment that alluded him the past few years on the baseball diamond. The D-Train may have made his last stop but Dontrelle Willis will have to find a way to move on in life.
The most recent edition of Georgetown Magazine, Georgetown University’s alumni magazine, reports that former NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue and his wife, Chandler, have made a $5 million donation to the $1.5 billion For Generations to Come campaign.
One million dollars will be devoted to establishing the Tagliabue Initiative for LGBTQ Life: Fostering Formation and Transformation, which will be overseen by Georgetown’s LGBTQ Resource Center.
Tagliabue is a Georgetown grad and chairman of GU’s board of directors. The couple has a son, Drew, who is openly gay.
“The Center is inspired by Catholic and Jesuit principles of respect for the dignity of all and education of the whole person, and we are very pleased to support its services that provide a safe, inclusive and respectful environment for LGBTQ students and promote their acceptance in the entire campus community,” the Tagliabues said in a statement.
Georgetown University President John J. DeGioia, said that the Tagliabues’ donation is “further evidence of their belief in and support for what Georgetown is and aspires to become.”
It’s also further evidence that GU is leading the way in the continuing surrender of Catholic higher education to the secular culture.
Georgetown University was in the news recently when GU Law School student Sandra Fluke complained before a fake congressional hearing that her friends couldn’t get free contraceptives because the Jesuit Catholic university wouldn’t cover the allegedly onerous costs of birth control (which turned out to be about $9 a month, hardly burdensome for students who can expect to make six figures upon graduation).
GU hasn’t yet changed its policy against paying for its students’ birth control. But it’s done more to advance the homosexual rights agenda than any other Catholic university. GU’s LBGTQ Center, Georgetown Magazine proudly notes, is “the first such center at a Catholic university.”
Conservative media is, if you’ll pardon the 21st-century pun, all atwitter following Romney advisor Eric Fehrnstrom’s interview with MSNBC’s Chuck Todd in which Fehrnstrom said that Governor Romney believes the Obamacare “individual mandate” is a penalty rather than a tax.
Some analysts on the right are describing it as “snatching defeat from the jaws of victory” while Democrats think it’s such a big deal that their “Rapid Response” team has posted the video of the interview to their YouTube channel (linked above.)
And on these very pages, Jeff Lord suggests that Romney should “Take Eric Fehrnstrom Off Television.”
No doubt Fehrnstrom’s words seem counter-productive on the surface. And no doubt that to the extent they can be spun by the left or by the media (if you will pardon my redundancy) as undermining opposition to Obamacare, the words are counter-productive.
But if you actually listen to the relevant 90 seconds of the interview, a fair hearing of Fernstrohm suggests he was trying to make a different point: Governor Romney believes that the individual mandate is not a tax, and therefore that it is unconstitutional.
Fehrnstrom was clumsily reemphasizing that Mitt Romney agrees, as the candidate has said from within minutes of the Roberts’ cave-in on Obamacare, with the Supreme Court’s four dissenting Justices, namely that Obamacare should have been found entirely invalid.
(To be sure, Romney prefers the mandate not to be a tax because it it were one, that would allow Romney to be accused of having raised taxes in Massachusetts. Not the most important political argument of the day but nevertheless something he would rather avoid.)
What Romney should say is this: “If calling Obamacare a tax was the twisted logic required by the Supreme Court to uphold a law which based on its own language (not calling it a tax) would otherwise have been overturned as unconstitutional, then Republicans are perfectly justified using all legislative methods which apply to taxes to repeal this horrendous law. But just as the Court had to also say that it is not a tax in order to be able to hear the case in the first place, I continue to believe that the mandate is what the law’s plain language says it is and what Democrats across the board have always said it is, a penalty, which the Supreme Court made clear would have been unconstitutional on that basis. In other words, whether you call it a tax or not, this assault on our nation’s health care system and our liberty must go, and when elected I will do everything in my power to make sure it does.”
A careful hearing of Fehrnstrom’s words suggest this was the message he was trying to get across. He didn’t do the best possible job, but neither were his words as undercutting of an anti-Obamacare message and movement as pundits on both sides of the political aisle are suggesting. Eric Fehrnstrom’s only real mistake was wording his thoughts in a way that they could be sliced and diced to his candidate’s disadvantage. True, one would wish that the senior advisor to the Republican candidate for president would not make this mistake on such an important issue. But in this case, I say let he who has never slightly misworded his point, even an important point, cast the first stone.
Now that the blogosphere is crucifying Fehrnstrom and throwing smoke bombs to distort the Romney campaign’s position on this critical issue, Mitt Romney should offer a well-considered statement which reinforces his commitment to dismantling Obamacare while clarifying the basic point that Fehrnstrom was trying to make: Romney believes the mandate is not a tax and that therefore the entire law is unconstitutional, but if the Court wants to save the law by calling it a tax, well, he can play that game too.
This is how bad it is.
By allowing the penalty included within Obamacare to stand under the federal government’s taxing authority, Chief Justice John Roberts has enshrined the policy ambitions of one Frank Marshall Davis.
In a column published on July 21, 1955 in the Honolulu Record, Davis, a long-time communist operative, who served as a close mentor to Obama, champions the idea of taxpayer funding for universal health care.
The history her is carefully and methodically unpackaged by Paul Kengor, a professor of political science at Grove City College, in his upcoming book entitled: The Communist: Frank Marshall Davis, the Untold Story of Barack Obama’s Mentor.
Kengor describes Davis as “a devoted communist” with “Pro Soviet, pro-Stalin and Pro-Mao” credentials. Kengor’s book draws from declassified FBI documents and Soviet archives. Before arriving in Hawaii, Davis also wrote for the Chicago Star, a Communist Party publication. Fellow columnists included Sen. Claude Pepper of Florida, and Charles Kramer, a Soviet agent, who was also Pepper’s chief of staff.
“In his wildest dreams, Justice John Roberts couldn’t imagine that he has fulfilled the ambitions not only of Barack Obama, but of Frank Marshall Davis and Communist Party USA,” Kengor laments, in a recent article.
Other thoughtful conservative commentators have argued that because Roberts ruled that the law did not hold up under the commerce clause he actually struck a blow for limited government over the long term. If Gov. Mitt Romney is elected president, that may yet turn out to be true.
But there’s a long history of Republican presidents accommodating big government and of Republican nominees to high court betraying constitutional principles.
Right now, it looks to me like Frank Marshall Davis is the one who was forward looking and shrewd.
Judging from the comments, there seems to be widespread misunderstanding of my post yesterday about what Republicans could have done differently in the run-up to Obamacare. I reject completely the idea that negotiating with the Democrats in 2009-10 would have produced any meaningfully conservative results. I am not advocating any “Obamacare lite” or slower adoption of government-run health care.
The exact opposite: Republicans should have championed policies that move health care in a more free-market direction, with fewers mandates and regulations, with more freedom for consumers to choose. They should have removed the distortions in the tax code that make it difficult for people to obtain health insurance apart from their employer.
It was actually Republican indifference to free-market health care reform that produced Obamacare Lite as well as Obamacare. When we hear about the conservative/Republican pedigree of the individual mandate, that history is almost entirely a product of conservatives looking around for some alternative to Hillarycare’s employer mandate, grabbing something that was supported by a handful of wonks, and then hoping the issue would go away. But the fact is that public discontent with rising health care costs, which endanger political support for limited government more generally by eating away at wage growth, didn’t go away. Neither did some level of concern about the uninsured.
The final outcome was that the country ended up with Obamacare. Our best hope for Obamacare’s repeal is the election of a former governor who is perhaps the only Republican in the country to try to seriously promote Obamacare Lite at the state level, helping to further implicate the GOP in the history of the individual mandate.
I think, and have written repeatedly, that Republicans were right to throw themselves in the tracks two years ago and hope they could stop the oncoming Obamacare train. But if they had dealt with health care on free-market terms when they ran the government, they might have been able to derail it before it left the station.
In a round-up of conservative reactions to the Supreme Court’s Obamacare ruling, an Economist blogger (I think Will Wilkinson based on initials and dateline, but the Economist is funny about bylines) mentions my column from yesterday and concludes, “Of course the constitution has meaning apart from what the judges say. Actually, it has lots of meanings apart from what the judges say. Too many meanings.”
A paragraph above that he writes, “Many conservatives tend to get fixated on the fantasy that the constitution has a determinate meaning and that constitutional questions therefore have determinate answers.” Constitutional questions aren’t always easy and in some cases there are no final answers. The Framers never intended the Constitution to be an exhaustive policy agenda for every conceivable issue that could come up in the history of the Republic.
But the whole idea behind the Constitution is that it contains explicit grants of power to the federal government, with some prohibitions on the states. It wasn’t intended to be an entirely free-flowing expression of whatever the fertile imaginations of judges (or the political class) could design. It by definition does have some exact and discernible limits, and those trying to answer constitutional questions should try to understand what the ratifying public thought they were delegating to the federal government.
I was reminded of this when reading Yuval Levin’s critique of the ruling: ““The law as the Supreme Court has rewritten it today would not have passed.” Such rewriting is a textbook example of judicial activism. It also provides a good test for constitutional interpretation: if judges must reach their conclusions by rewriting a constitutional provision in a way that it would not have been ratified, and is unsupported by any amendment that was subsequently ratified, they are reaching conclusions at odds with the concept of a written Constitution.
There he goes again.
I’m sure Romney aide Eric Fehrnstrom is a nice guy. Doubtless he loves dogs, cats, family and colleagues.
But for the second time in a matter of months Mr. Fehrnstrom has managed to shoot his candidate in the foot — by flatly contradicting Governor Romney’s message.
The last time, under intense scrutiny by conservatives that prompted the Governor to show up at CPAC and proclaim himself a “severe conservative” — Fehrnstrom took to the airwaves sometime later to say that well, no. Once Governor Romney was nominated he would morph into an “etch-a-sketch” candidate.
There was the inevitable rush of apologies and, predictably, the story vanished.
Now comes yet another Fehrnstrom story. Worse …infinitely worse…than the first.
There was a small matter of a Supreme Court decision. In which, infamously, Chief Justice John Roberts voted with liberals to uphold ObamaCare — by declaring the mandate a tax.
Now let’s recall the zillion times candidate Romney insisted — under withering criticism — that his views on health care (“RomneyCare”) for Massachusetts did not, would not, could not — not a thousand times ever and ever — apply to America as a whole. No sireeeeeeeeeeee Bob.
Then, literally within days of the Supreme Court decision that by a 5-4 vote say the mandate is a tax, not a penalty, there is Mr. Fehrnstrom on MSNBC to directly contradict his own boss.
Here’s the key conversation between Fehrnstrom and MSNBC’s Chuck Todd:
TODD: Okay. Which — so I guess — we’re — I think we’re talking around each other. The governor does not believe the mandate is a tax? That is what you’re saying?
FEHRNSTROM: The governor believes that what we put in place in Massachusetts was a penalty and he disagrees with the court’s ruling that the mandate was a tax.
Got it? Now the Romney campaign is not only agreeing with President Obama and Nancy Pelosi, they are saying exactly the opposite of what the Governor said in the primary. Which was that “the last thing” he would ever do was “to take what we had done for one state and impose it on the entire nation.”
Now, it seems, while the idea of the mandate was seen by Governor Romney as a penalty in Massachusetts — lo and behold — according to Mr. Fehrnstrom, Governor Romney now believes it applies in exactly the same fashion in the nation as a whole! What was a penalty in Massachusetts must now be seen as a penalty for the entire nation — not a tax!
Which is to say, either Governor Romney spent the whole season fibbing to Republicans when he said what applied in Massachusetts did not apply nationally — or… well… or?
Is this really true?
Is Team Romney suddenly being gifted with one of the greatest gifts in presidential campaign history — only to deliberately kick the ball away?
Or, was the Governor never a believer all along in his well-stated opinion that there were two rules on health care —one for states and one for the country?
Did Governor Romney really never believe that what applied to the states — in this case that the mandate was a penalty — should never be applied to the nation as a whole?
And has he now changed his mind, disagreeing with the Chief Justice who has now said, quite plainly speaking for the majority of the Court, that the mandate is a national tax.
By the grace of the Fourth of July holiday this latest Fehrnstrom contradiction may — may — vanish into the holiday ether. But it will kick around forever somewhere. As a reminder that the next time Mr. Fehrnstrom shows up on television it should be somewhere after President Romney gives his second-term farewell address.
And it’s also a reminder that:
1) Presidential nominees need to coordinate their message with the Congressional leadership of their party (leaders Boehner, McConnell and Ryan were all well out there on the tax message); and;
2) If Governor Romney has in fact moved from position (A) — that what applied at the state level doesn’t apply at the national level — to position (B) —that, well, he was just misinterpreted and that he’s now a big believer that what happened in Massachusetts shouldn’t stay in Massachusetts then there is….
A problem. A big one.
And in the public discussion of this problem, Eric Fehrnstrom should be anywhere but within reach of a television camera.
Power Outages Persist, Tempers Flare (WaPo)
Lawmakers Divided Over Dodd-Frank (Bloomberg)
John Roberts’ Crossover May Be Dawn of Major Conservative Wins (Politico)
June Unemployment Data Likely to Hurt Obama’s Reelection Chances (The Hill)
McDonald’s Staffers to Don Mad Men-Inspired Uniforms for U.K. Olympics (Vanity Fair)
White House Payroll Up 2 Percent From Last Year (Washington Times)
Obama’s Foreign Policy Failures (National Review)
[Updated at 10:12 a.m. ET] Star of ‘The Andy Griffith Show’ and ‘Matlock’ Dies at 86 (NBC)
But it left the Republicans with no leverage on policy: they had nothing to offer wavering Congressional Democrats (from Ben Nelson to Bart Stupak) who had problems with the legislation but wanted to vote for some kind of reform, and they had nothing substantial to put forward when Scott Brown’s victory seemed as if it might force the White House back to the negotiating table.
As a result, now that the bill has been passed and the Supreme Court has declined to do their work for them, the Republicans are left to thread a very narrow needle. First they need to take the Senate as well as the White House, and then they need to find a way to pass a party-line repeal bill while lacking any clear consensus on a replacement. Otherwise they will have combined a political victory with a once-in-a-generation policy defeat.
As I’ve written at length before, my view is that the Republicans actually had very limited leverage and that some version of Romneycare was always the only realistic final outcome, bipartisanship or no bipartisanship. But I do think the Republicans’ failure to come up with an alternative health care policy led to Obamacare in this respect: by never uniting around their own health care reform ideas after the defeat of Hillarycare, Republicans virtually ensured the issue would next be dealt with on Democratic terms. And so it has been.
Art is transgressive, we’re told, but not all transgressions are equal. For example, write a book of poems called Babyf—-er, and you’ll be rewarded with The Heimrad Bäcker Prize for Experimental Literature in German. Review more books by men than women, however, and you’ll be pie-charted by Canadians. Or dare to put on plays (like Henry V, The Winter’s Tale or Twelfth Night) with more male than female roles, and you’ll be chastised. After all, seeing all these male actors discourages women from pursuing careers in the theater, and “you can’t be what you can’t see,” Lynda Rooke tells us, to the disappointment of blind kids everywhere.
And if it’s political, just make sure it’s the right kind of politics. Protesting the Olympics, which were invented almost 3,000 years ago to distract people from the current financial crises is OK. So is rudely (though somewhat ambiguously) demanding free health care, student loan forgiveness, a bike and a chicken coop. And using art to further the political agenda of certain politicians is fine, too, but other politicians who compromise the “neutrality” of art will be renounced worldwide.
What to make of this, though, no one knows.
Twenty years ago today, the Supreme Court issued its ruling in Casey v. Planned Parenthood. At the time, the 5-4 decision was a crushing disappointment to pro-lifers and conservatives. The bitter fight to get Clarence Thomas confirmed the year before was mostly predicated on the idea that he supply the fifth vote to overturn Roe v. Wade. An anti-Roe majority existed on the Court until Anthony Kennedy flipped his vote. (Sound familiar?)
The end result was a decision that upheld Roe’s core holdings. The plurality opinion was joined by three Republican appointees: Kennedy, Sandra Day O’Connor, and David Souter. Kennedy’s opinion was filled with philosophy prof howlers like this: “At the heart of liberty is the right to define one’s own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life.”
But Casey did uphold most of the Pennsylvania abortion restrictions that were at issue in the case. In doing so, it opened the door for more state-level regulations where the public sided with pro-lifers: parental-notification laws, parental-consent laws, waiting periods, informed consent laws requiring women to be given information about abortion and its alternatives, etc. There was a further setback in the Court’s Stenberg v. Carhart decision, but then further progress was made with Gonzales v. Carhart, upholding tougher clinic regulations and bans on certain abortion procedures.
Between 1992 and 1996, the number of abortions dropped from a peak of 1.6 million annually to about 1.2 million. By some estimates, the abortion rate declined by 33 percent. Public opinion and state laws have moved in a pro-life direction. All of which occured after a Supreme Court decision that was supposed to resolve the abortion debate as a permanent defeat for the pro-life movement.
Health care reform is a different issue than abortion, obviously. But Casey is a good reason to not accept National Federation of Independent Business v. Sebelius as a permanent defeat either. Turning points can be found in unexpected places.
Forgive the return to golf, but the following question continues to stick in my craw: Why is it that so many golfers for the past 15 years have pulled El Foldo routines when matched head to head with Tiger Woods? It is just astonishing how many times his competitors just collapse and hand him tournaments. (To be fair, of course, there also are more than the usual number of tourneys in which Tiger has hit miracle shots to win.) Anyway, there we were again yesterday, with Woods tied for the lead but already lying three and still not on the green on the par-5 16th hole, while Van Pelt sat in the fairway looking at a six-iron approach for his second shot — in other words, effectively a two-shot advantage. Naturally, Van Pelt completely hashed up the hole from then on, taking five strokes to get down from there and thus matching Woods’ bogey. Van Pelt proceeded to bogey the next two holes as well — a bogey-bogey-bogey finish that handed the title to Woods on a silver platter.
Look, golf is a hard game. But it’s really pitiful the way Woods’ fellow pros seem to be intimidated by him. Tot this day, not a single soul in the United States (I think Thomas Bjorn may have done it once abroad, but I need to re-check the record) has defeated Woods, from tied or behind on the last three holes, by making birdies when it really counted. (Hal Sutton did hold Woods off at the Players Championship in the gloaming once, but Sutton was ahead and hanging on, not tied or coming from behind.)
Woods is a remarkable talent. All credit to him for his golf skills. But really, isn’t there anybody out there with the guts to stare him down?
Closings, Postponements, and Cancellations in the D.C. Region (WaPo)
Poll: Supreme Court Ruling Not Helping Obama’s Ratings (Breitbart)
NY Minor League Soccer Team to Wear Romney Jerseys (The Hill)
High Unemployment Among Young Voters May Jeopardize Obama’s Reelection (Politico)
Spain Defeats Italy 4-0, Wins Euro 2012 Championship (BBC)
Health Care to be Key Policy Issue in November Election (Fox News)
Pena Nieto Set to Become Next President of Mexico (The Economist)
Anderson Cooper: ‘The Fact is, I’m Gay’ (The Daily Beast)
Former Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir died yesterday after a long battle with Alzheimer’s. He was 96.
The Polish born Shamir emigrated to British Mandated Palestine in 1935. His family opted to remain in Poland and they would perish in the Holocaust. Shamir became active in the Irgun, the alternative Zionist movement to the Haganah that was seeking a Jewish homeland. Later, Shamir would be involved with the more militant and controversial Stern Gang.
Some years after the Israeli government broke up the Stern Gang, Shamir joined the Mossad where he spent a decade. He was first elected to the Knesset in 1973 as a member of the Likud Party and four years later became its Speaker when Menachem Begin came to power. Begin would appoint Shamir as Minister of Foreign Affairs following the resignation of Moshe Dayan in 1981. Despite his opposition to the Camp David Accords, Shamir would become a key figure in its negotiation and implementation.
Shamir became PM following the death of Begin in 1983. However, Shamir would enter into a National Unity coalition with Labor after the inconclusive 1984 election. Shamir spent the first two years as Foreign Minister while Labor Party leader Shimon Peres was Prime Minister. Peres and Shamir would switch roles in 1986. During this period, Israel entered a bilateral free trade agreement with the United States. It was the second such bilateral free trade agreement the United States entered into after Canada. Shamir was elected as Prime Minister in his own right in 1988 but entered into another National Unity coalition with Peres before collapsing in 1990 in favor of a more conservative alliance.
In 1991, Shamir was reluctantly persuaded by President George H.W. Bush not to respond to Scud missile attacks ordered by Saddam Hussein during the First Gulf War in order to keep the U.S. led multinational alliance against Iraq. Following the Gulf War Ceasefire, tensions escalated between Bush and Shamir over the Madrid Conference which attempted to bring about peace between Israel and several of its Arab neighbors (Jordan, Syria and Lebanon) and the PLO. Bush threatened to withhold loan guarantees intended to aid the absorption of Soviet Jews into Israel. Shamir eventually backed down but demanded the UN rescind the infamous “Zionism is Racism” resolution as a condition of its participation which it did shortly after the conference.
In addition to absorbing large numbers of Soviet Jews, Shamir also embarked upon a massive airlift of Ethiopian Jews as the Marxist government of Menigstu was collapsing in May 1991.
Shamir would lose the June 1992 election to Yitzhak Rabin (who had initially served as his Defense Minister in the National Unity government) ending Likud’s 15-year reign in power. He resigned as Likud Party leader the following year and was succeeded by Benjamin Netanyahu.
Here’s an interview Shamir conducted while he was still PM in 1988.
As you may know, Egypt’s new President Mohamed Morsi has called upon the United States to release Omar Abdel-Rahman (a.k.a. “The Blind Sheikh”) during his inaugural speech. The Egyptian born cleric is currently serving a life sentence for his involvement in planning the first WTC bombing in 1993 and planning terrorist attacks against other landmarks mostly situated in New York City.
It doesn’t scare me that Morsi would call for The Blind Sheikh’s release. That should come as a surprise to no one. But what scares me is that it isn’t inconceivable that U.S. officials could one day release him in some kind of misguided attempt to appease the Muslim Brotherhood. If the Brits were prepared to release the Lockerbie bomber then what is to prevent the U.S. government from releasing Abdel-Rahman?
Just so we all (a million or more) know — that was no ordinary thunderstorm last Friday night. It was a “derecho” — a meteorologist’s fancy word for a line of storms. Fast-moving and violent, a line more than 240 miles long with gusts of 60 mph or more. By all accounts, more than a million customers in the D.C. area lost electric power and many at this writing are still waiting for Pepco or one of the other distributers to turn them back on.
Speaking of Pepco, and I seldom do, some years ago my neighborhood went 8 days powerless. A vice-president of the company came by, took a look at a tree that had sheered some powerlines, and declared there was nothing to be done, at least for the moment. Fortunately, a neighbor across the street had a guest who drove down a major thoroughfare and happened across a crew of linemen and their New Jersey truck. (It was bad enough for Pepco, then as now, to import repair crews from other states.) The visitors averred they had nothing to busy themselves, Pepco having told them the work was about finished. “Ah, no,” said the visitor. “Just up the street is an entire neighborhood that’s been powerless for more than a week.”
Sure enough, the visitors drove up, saw the tree, fixed the wires, and the neighborhood lights went on! After eight days of darkness.
Power companies are now saying the remains of the derecho may be with some of the tens of thousands of victims for seven days or more. Much of the damage was done by uprooted trees and repairs have called for crews as far away as Oklahoma.
Of course, losing power in hundred degree heat is more than inconvenient; it is life-threatening.
There is a solution. It is seen (or unseen) in every new division or subdivision being established these days. The wiring is all underground. How expensive would it be to put all the wiring underground? Trees could then be decorative but not utility bearing and the next derecho that comes along would not have the disruptive power of this last one. Expensive? Darn right. Worth it? Right again. An expensive project that would put wires out of the jeopardy of willful winds and save millions from the sort of grief that stalks today.
1. Before storms rocked the D.C. region, there was the Obamacare ruling. There is a growing consensus in Washington, across the political spectrum, that John Roberts switched his vote in the health care case. The joint dissent by Anthony Kennedy, Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas, and Sam Alito reads like a majority opinion and refers repeatedly to Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s partial dissent/partial concurrence as “the dissent.” There have been reports that after Roberts switched sides, Kennedy led a campaign to try to win him back.
2. There are four reasons I don’t buy the conservative/libertarian defenses of Roberts even if I do think the ruling contains silver linings:
3. We are already seeing that the Democrats are going back to the statute’s language and calling the individual mandate a penalty rather than the tax the ruling they embrace claims that it is. They even have a bit of a point, since the mandate is clearly a punishment rather than something designed to raise revenue. But the political value of this is limited: if the Democrats were to resist a Republican repeal attempt through reconciliation, it is hard to see where they would have a legal leg to stand on.
4. For Barack Obama, the tax language is the biggest political downside from the ruling. The Supreme Court has basically declared him a middle-class tax hiker.
5. For Mitt Romney, the biggest political downside is that it puts the focus back on the individual mandate. Obama and his media supporters are already making hay of Romney’s past for support for the mandate and its roots in Republican/conservative policy circles.
6. In non-health care news, last week was a good one for incumbents. Orrin Hatch easily survived his primary challenge. Charlie Rangel’s contest was more competitive, but he still won by a comfortable margin. New York will, however, avoid the shame of having a congressman whose Jew-baiting was sufficient to win him the endorsement of David Duke despite being a former Black Panther.
In Washington the Left pays for constitutional treason with accolades rather than pieces of silver. And liberal praise for John Roberts’ untenable, even dishonest opinion upholding ObamaCare as a tax continues to come in. The latest is New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman who announces that the decision “was inspired by a simple noble leadership impulse at a critical juncture in our history.” Just as all liberal decisions are inspired, he might have added. As long as you are aggrandizing government power, you obviously are on the side of the angels.
“Dishonest John” is worse than either David Souter or John Paul Stevens. They were clear and unabashed enemies of constitutional liberty. So no one expected anything different than opinions constantly undermining constitutional protections for individual liberty and against government power.
Roberts has become the Manchurian Jurist, whispering sweet rhetoric into conservatives’ ears while delivering results to the leftish establishment which runs Washington. His dicta against an expansive interpretation of the Commerce Clause sounds nice, but is meaningless, since he has provided the roadmap for evading its effect in the future. Even Nancy Pelosi cannot have missed “Dishonest John’s” invitation to treat everything as a tax, which doesn’t even require calling it a tax.
No doubt “Dishonest John” will receive some nice dinner party invitations when he returns from his two-week sojourn to Malta. He might believe that the entire affair is a joke, but the rest of us will pay with our constitutional liberties for the rest of our lives.
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?