John Roberts Ruling Day 2: Obamacare Hangover

I think I can speak for a lot of folks in the Blogosphere when I say that yesterday was mentally draining. I read opinion after opinion on the Roberts's ruling and listened to various talk show hosts talk about the legal and political ramifications. Now, 24 hours later I'm not sure there's any more clarity. Conjecture is still the name of the game.

I think Charles Krauthammer has it right when he says Roberts was doing everything he could to avoid another Bush v. Gore. When you think about it, what other explanation can there be? The notion that he's "evolved" like other Supreme Court Souteresque disappointments seems weak to me. This is a guy who belonged to the Federalists Society. But, like Charles says, he's the Chief Justice and protector of the court. He could have sided with the 4 conservatives and struck down the whole thing but this "it's a tax" opinion is the ultimate nuance that allows him to protect the commerce clause but avoid the metaphorical (and perhaps real) Molotov cocktails that would have been flung at the Court had it been that 5-4 decision. Not saying he was right to play it this way, just speculating that that's probably the reasoning. It's a gamble, like something out of John Grisham legal thriller. Perhaps he is hoping this will lead to political change and perhaps some conservative justices in the future. If Romney gets elected twice, the chances of Ruth Bader Ginsburg outliving his terms are slim. That's morbid, but no doubt the thought is on a lot of minds.

Here's something to chew on: What Roberts did, in my mind, was clearly judicial activism but of an unusual sort. He declared Obamacare a tax and threw the whole issue right back to the people of the United States, essentially saying "We're not gonna bail you out when you screw up at the ballot box anymore." Thus, did this one act of judicial activism serve to limit the power of the Judicial Branch more than any other decision in history. In other words, is this Obamacare Supreme Court decision the anti-Marbury v. Madison?

Chew away.


John Roberts: Traitor or Diabolical Genius? A Roundup of Opinion

The opinions on the SCOTUS Obamacare ruling are coming fast and furious and they seem to be pretty split. (By the way, I'm talking about conservative pundits, the only ones who opine in good faith.)

We start with Rush Limbaugh:

The administration and the Congress said, "No, it's not a tax!" Arguing before the court, they said, "No, it's not a tax!" Then a couple of whispers, "Yes, it is a tax." The chief justice says (paraphrased), "I can't forbid this. It's not our job to protect the people from the consequences of their political choices. I gotta find a way. Congress wants this, so I gotta find a way to make it happen. Okay, we'll call it a tax, and that makes it perfectly legal." So today the sovereign nature of the individual wasn't just weakened; it was eviscerated.

George Will:

Conservatives won a substantial victory Thursday. The physics of American politics — actions provoking reactions — continues to move the crucial debate, about the nature of the American regime, toward conservatism. Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. has served this cause.


By persuading the court to reject a Commerce Clause rationale for a president’s signature act, the conservative legal insurgency against Obamacare has won a huge victory for the long haul. This victory will help revive a venerable tradition of America’s political culture, that of viewing congressional actions with a skeptical constitutional squint, searching for congruence with the Constitution’s architecture of enumerated powers. By rejecting the Commerce Clause rationale, Thursday’s decision reaffirmed the Constitution’s foundational premise: Enumerated powers are necessarily limited because, as Chief Justice John Marshall said, “the enumeration presupposes something not enumerated.” 

Mark Levin:

There's nothing about the Obamacare decision that is redeeming.  Nothing.  I will talk about it at length on my show tonight - 6 PM eastern.  There are lawyers and political operatives spinning this decision, but don't buy any of it. 

Charles Krauthammer:
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.

And perhaps most interestingly, the changing opinion of Ken Cuccinelli, Attorney General for Virginia who was a leading voice in the case:
Virginia Republican Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli told The Daily Caller that after reviewing the Supreme Court’s decision on President Barack Obama’s health care law, he’s changed his mind and determined that the ruling actually isn’t so bad for the country in the long-term because it actually curbs federal power.

“If you asked me at the beginning of this process if I could have this ruling, would I take it, I’d have taken it,” Cuccinelli said in a Thursday afternoon phone interview.

The attorney general said he and his staff were gathered in their executive conference room early Thursday when they watched the news that the court largely upheld Obama’s health care law.

Cuccinelli’s first reaction was “negative,” he said, “based primarily on the fact that the law mostly stayed up.” He reacted Thursday morning by putting out a press release saying, “This is a dark day for American liberty.”

But his thoughts on the decision changed, the Republican said, as he dived into the ruling. “Once we got into the opinions, we got considerably more optimistic because our first motivation here is protection of the Constitution and restraint of the federal government. And that was very much achieved in this case.”


“One hundred years from now this will be looked on as a win,” he said.

Curiouser and curiouser.

MORE: Some diverse opinion on the Spectator Blog, but mostly anti-.

NRO Editors: Roberts's Folly.

SCOTUS Obamacare Decision Unbound

Well, Liberty had a good run. If you look at the totality of history, 236 years is a pretty impressive stretch of individual freedom.

But, alas.

The Obamacare decision came down this morning. In the last few days my inkling was that the court would some how try and give both sides something, much as it did with the Arizona immigration ruling (don't we all love "compromise?"). However, the more you read into this, it's much more of a win for Obama and the statists.

Now, I'm no Constitutional scholar but I know more than most. The idea that the government could force people into commerce is not constitutional. A six-year old could glean that. However, what the Court has ruled is essentially the government can't force you into commerce but it can punish you if you don't engage in that commerce. So the government can say, "buy this salad and eat it" and you're well within your rights to say "no way." The government can then turn around and say, "that's your prerogative, however because you won't do this, you owe us $$." So again, government can't make you engage in commerce but can tax your ass off (to quote Walter Mondale) if you don't. It's like the proverbial "sin" tax, only backwards. Instead of being taxed for doing something harmful like smoking, you're taxed for not doing something beneficial like eating your veggies.

Interesting side note. What happened with this decision is very similar to the court challenges to the New Deal. The politicians went all over the place saying "no way is this a tax," while the lawyers for FDR told the courts, "this is totally a tax, big time." Needless to say, the FDR packed court ruled in his favor more times than naught.

So where does this leave us? First, the Court doesn't let the GOP and Romney off the hook. The law still has to be repealed, and if the court now indeed ruled the government can tax people not only on their income but on the behavior that's a loophole that needs to be closed. The only way it can be closed is to elect a new, radical group of politicians. In other words, the Tea Party on steroids.

This movement will begin today. Whether it can gather the sheers numbers needed to make an impact is unknown, but it's coming.

Now on to the inside baseball side of this. Chief Justice John Roberts: the new Souter? Maybe. I suspect he and George W. Bush's names will be cursed aplenty today on the Right. Anthony Kennedy gets the last laugh as not only was he not the swing vote, he wanted to overturn the entire law. Shorter Kennedy: "I don't want to go to your damn cocktail parties Ms. Quinn!" Justice Kennedy, my apologies.

How about a conspiracy theory just for fun? Roberts is actually more right-winged than anyone thought. Wrote this decision to light a fire under the Tea Party and get Romney elected. Eh, kinda weak, but fun to think about.

Actually surprised I'm not more depressed but I think I've been mentally preparing for this for awhile. I've been saying that the election this November will have a major impact on the decisions in my life. Do I play it safe or do I take chances. Obama wins, play it safe in every aspect of life. Romney wins, there may (repeat, may) be hope for something more. Or maybe it's too late already.

Here we go...


LeRoy Neiman Dies

I met Neiman at the Stardust Hotel in 2006. Couldn't have been a nicer man.


Report: Mubarak Only Mostly Dead

Miracle Max unavailable for comment.

This Isn't MMA: Romney Right To Stay The Course

Two good men, Charles Krauthammer and Allen West have different opinions on how Mitt Romney should have responded to President Obama's immigration power-grab:

Meanwhile Allen West says: "I guess I feel a little bit dejected because I think that it goes back to what my mother taught me, 'a man must stand for something, or else he’ll fall for anything."

I respect that view but this is where we have to realize that the race for the presidency isn't a mixed-martial arts fight where we are constantly on the attack and always taking it to our opponent. Romney is playing this smart. In the primary he had a simple strategy: let the (quasi-)conservative candidates brutalize each other and be the last man standing. It worked. Now in the general election, Romney's campaign is economy, economy, economy. He'll talk about other stuff on the periphery but the economy will always be the lead actor in this play and (so far) he's not going to let Obama distract him from that. Krauthammer's right. This Obama power-grab was a trap worthy of Admiral Ackbar and there will be more to follow. Romney has been up on Obama in the Rasmussen poll for a week now (granted it's Rasmussen so in reality it's probably closer to a tie) which I think is a reflection of this strategy.


The Scandal of Our Age

Victor Davis Hanson has a piece over at PJMedia that demands to be read. Here's a taste:

In the Watergate scandal, no one died, at least that we know of. Richard Nixon tried systematically to subvert institutions. Yet most of his unconstitutional efforts were domestic in nature — and an adversarial press soon went to war against his abuses and won, as Congress held impeachment hearings.
As far as national security went, Nixon’s crimes were in part culpable for destroying the political consensus that he had won in 1972, at a critical time when the Vietnam War to save the south was all but over, and had been acknowledged as such at the Paris Peace Talks. But Watergate and the destruction of Nixon’s foreign policy spurred congressional cutbacks of aid to South Vietnam and eroded all support for the administration’s promised efforts to ensure that North Vietnam kept to its treaty obligations.
What I call “Securitygate” — the release of the most intricate details about the cyber war against Iran, the revelations about a Yemeni double-agent, disclosures about covert operations in and against Pakistan, intimate details about the Osama bin Laden raid and the trove of information taken from his compound, and the Predator drone assassination list and the president’s methodology in selecting targets — is far more serious than either prior scandal. David Sanger and others claim that all this was sort of in the public domain anyway; well, “sort of” covers a lot of ground. We sort of knew about the cyber war against Iran, but not to the detail that Sanger provides and not through the direct agency of the Obama administration itself.

Here is the crux of the scandal: Obama is formulating a new policy of avoiding overt unpopular engagements, while waging an unprecedented covert war across the world. He’s afraid that the American people do not fully appreciate these once-secret efforts and might in 2012 look only at his mishaps in Afghanistan or his public confusion over Islamic terror. Ergo, feed information to a Sanger or Ignatius so that they can skillfully inform us, albeit with a bit of dramatic “shock” and “surprise,” just how tough, brutal, and deadly Barack Obama really is.

Yet these disclosures will endanger our national security, especially in the case of a soon-to-be-nuclear Iran. They will probably get people killed or tortured, and they will weaken America’s ability for years to work covertly with allies. Our state-to-state relations will be altered, and perhaps even the techniques and technology of our cyber and special operations wars dispersed into the wrong hands. There is nothing in the recent “exclusive” writings of David Sanger or David Ignatius that was necessary for the American people to know at this stage, unless one thinks that we had a right to the full story of the Doolittle Raid in 1942, or that Americans by July 1944 needed an insider account of the date and planning of D-Day, or that we should have been apprised about what was really going on in New Mexico in 1944.


Handling Heckers 101: A Primer

I don't think it's accurate to call what happened in the Rose Garden today "heckling," but nevertheless I thought it useful for President Obama to see how true leaders handle hecklers:

Howard Dean's Socialism 101 Seminar

Howard Dean has another one of his psychotic episodes, this time on Larry Kudlow's show, first by spouting the usual Fox News hatred (which is becoming passé, as Fox is becoming more and more establishment). Anyone, here was his nugget of "wisdom:"

“You made a lot of money because you live in the United States of America,” Dean said. “We owe something to the government to grow up in this great country. And I’m tired of hearing people in the private sector talk like they don’t owe the government anything because we do. This is a great country because we all pay into it. It’s about time we all pay into it. It is not nonsense. You’re damn lucky to live in America and you ought to pay the right bill for it.”

So much here. First line:

“You made a lot of money because you live in the United States of America.”
That's true. Our system of free enterprise and personal liberty has created the conditions for amassing wealth.
 "We owe something to the government to grow up in this great country." 

We the people decided many years ago to form our government where the citizens live under the rule of law and the government forbidden to deny the people of certain inalienable rights (that was the idea, anyway). By having this government, yes, it must be funded by the citizens. However, to say owe the government is the wrong wording, but from Howard Dean's point of view, it's the correct wording. To him, we only have our freedoms and economic standing because the government allows us to have them. Therein lies the major disconnect between liberty and statism.

"And I’m tired of hearing people in the private sector talk like they don’t owe the government anything because we do."
Straw-man. NO ONE in the private sector is saying they shouldn't pay taxes. The debate is how much and how the money is used. 

"This is a great country because we all pay into it."
Wrong. That's not why this country is great, but regardless, we don't ALL pay into it. Forget the 1% vs. 99% nonsense, the real breakdown is 50/50. Half the country pays taxes, half does not. Howard wants the 50% that do pay taxes to pay more taxes.
"It’s about time we all pay into it."
Agreed. But he doesn't mean that.
 It is not nonsense.

"You’re damn lucky to live in America and you ought to pay the right bill for it.”
The rich don't pay enough taxes, cycle and repeat. The man is insane.


Anna Wintour Releases Obama Clothing Line "Runway to Win"

All items of clothing have extra pockets for food stamps.

UPDATE: Some suggestions from commenter johne2123

Obama necklace: Has a handy option to make it easy to hang yourself when you loose your job.

Obama T Shirt Line: Comes pre-printed with such handy slogans as : Will work for food -- God Bless -- and the always favorite I voted for Obama -- I'll bend over while you screw me!!

Obama Shoe Line: Extra comfort for standing in food lines.

Obama Belts: They come in one size small so that you can not eat too much.

Obama Helmets: Come in handy for all those nights you are hitting your head against the wall for voting for him last time. 

"When Are We Going To Understand That You Don't Solve A Debt Crisis With More Debt?"

My guess would be around the 15th of Never. (Hat tip: RSMcCain)


The Final Word On The Wisconsin Recall

You can't let an election pass without hearing how Herr Hitler took the news. Never get tired of these.


Bill Clinton On The Loose

Dick Morris thinks Bill Clinton wants Obama to lose the election. Normally I take Morris' predictions and theories with a grain of salt but I think he may be right this time. Here's why:

1) Clinton wants back in the White House. A six-year old can gather that. However, Edward Klein claims Bill wanted Hillary to challenge Obama this year saying he wasn't sure he'd live long enough to wait another four years. Gossip, yes, but believable.

2) Clinton defends Romney on his time at Bain Capital.

3) Today, Clinton calls for extending the Bush Tax Cuts (temporarily).

4) Clinton's goal is getting Hillary (and thus him) in the White House. Since the ship has sailed on option #1, it makes sense that the best play for Billary is to face Romney in 2016 rather than run for the office after an 8 year Obama/Democrat Party fiasco. Bill knows as well as any Tea Partier what a second Obama term will bring.

Either way, Hillary Clinton is running in 2016. How do I know? Because she's said she won't run. Simple. Easy.

UPDATE: Great minds think alike. Michael Walsh at NRO.


Richard Dawson Dies

He'll no doubt be best remembered as the kissing host of "Family Feud," but I'm more a fan of the campy "Hogans Heroes."