Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Religion

A Primer on Middle East Democracy (Update)

Bob Reilly takes on neo-conservative Middle East expert Reuel Marc Gerecht in today's Wall Street Journal. Reilly points out that a presupposition of democracy is solution of the religious issue--that is, freedom of conscience. That is, the American model remains the most reasonable means of establishing democratic self-government.

UPDATE: The Reilly letter in op-ed form.

Categories > Religion

Foreign Affairs

Today's History Lesson

Looking for a cheap lunch at a favorite Vietnamese restaurant, got an education instead.

0430021244_0001.jpg

Categories > Foreign Affairs

Presidency

The Politics of the OBL Killing

What has been underappreciated about Obama's decision to kill bin Laden was that he had planned it out in his mind years before. During the 2008 campaign he made news--e.g., this commentary--by declaring he would not hesitate to violate Pakistan's sovereignty if necessary. Obama must have asked himself what he could do to project foreign policy strengths while maintaining internationalist credentials. The most politically popular goal was to get Osama, and he reverse-engineered how this might happen: increased drone strikes, for one. When intelligence connected enough dots, he made his move, and he won. This victory of course does not excuse a multitude of other sins, all intended to force America into multilateral agreements, even in a good cause (e.g., Libya). If anything, the killing of bin Laden is the exception that proves the rule about Obama's often feckless foreign policy.
Categories > Presidency

Economy

Right in the Middle

AEI's on-line magazine, The American, posits that "Middle America is a clear picture of how much the basics matter: Cost of living, job quality, schools, and opportunities to develop the right skills for the best jobs."

The Midwest's story is important because it serves in significant ways as a regional microcosm of how growth and opportunity should look in America today.

In a recent study we look at trends that upend the conventional wisdom about the Midwest. We find that it is neither doomed to a slow and dirty demise like an old house on an eroding slope, nor forced to reinvent itself Dubai-style in order to compete with Silicon Valley or Manhattan. The Midwest's future is rooted very much in its past--but with some important updates.

What do we mean? For starters, this means capitalizing on Americans' desire to reside where the cost of living and doing business is favorable. As the last Census showed, Americans move in droves to regions where the cost of living is low, businesses face fewer obstacles, and workers have choices. As Wendell Cox and Joel Kotkin have shown, this goes for 25- to 35-year-olds as well as 55- to 65-year-olds. People want options and a good quality of life at a price they can afford.

In the Midwest, these trends have favored placed like Columbus, Ohio . . . .

Noting that 83% of manufacturers nationwide complain of "a moderate or severe shortage of skilled production workers," the authors suggest that the Midwest is on the verge of a "new industrial paradigm," which will be "characterized by a blend of heavy manufacturing, new technology, a more highly educated industrial labor base, and lighter labor restrictions." That last factor is a reference to labor law reforms such as the recent movement to quell labor unions and establish "right-to-work" states.

When you add to all of this the new energy sources discovered in some parts of the Midwest--such as new finds in Utica shale in Ohio--a new industrial paradigm in the region could end up being a large source of new wealth creation in the coming generation.

Let us hope that Ohio may provide the model by which to lead America from economic malaise. But to do so, those who are opposed to labor reform and who wish to suppress natural gas production will have to be defeated. Unions and environmentalists - that is, Democrats - continue to prioritize self-interest and disfavored ideologies above economic recovery. One hopes that these factors will influence voters in Ohio, the Midwest and throughout America in November.

Categories > Economy

Education

What Are Millennials Thinking?

I wrote a post yesterday on the prevailing political priorities among young voters, which is complemented by this 2012 Millennial Values Survey of "Religion, Values and Politics among College-Age Millennials." The findings are remarkable. For example:

  • 40% describe themselves more negatively than their parents; only 19% more positively.
  • 40% believe in the American Dream; 10% say it never existed.
  • 73% believe economics unfairly favor the rich; similar numbers favor reforms to raise the poor and soak the rich.
  • Evenly divided on whether the government pays too much attention to minorities and whether discrimination against whites is as much a problem as discrimination against minorities.
  • Strong majorities believe that Christianity has good values and expresses love, but also believe that it is anti-gay and judgmental.
The report is an interesting read. While it is not likely a window into the future - since liberalism in youth often matures to conservatism in adulthood - it is nevertheless useful as a reflection of the mores and lessons currently being inculcated into the young.
Categories > Education

Journalism

Is Slow Growth Actually Good for the Economy?

So reads NPR's latest headline - a 2012 candidate for the media's most shameless attempt to spin bad news in favor of Obama. The U.S. economy slows at an inopportune moment in the election cycle and NPR responds with "Is Slow Growth Actually Good for the Economy?" You can't make this stuff up.

James Taranto takes up the theme of the poodle media and Obama's unseemliness in today's Best of the Web, wondering whether "A more aggressive press corps might have motivated him to preserve his dignity." This seems to be a certainty. Obama - and liberals in general - are able to behave in particularly classless ways with the confidence that the higher they rise in the hierarchy, the more deference they'll receive from the media. The inverse is true for Republicans. (Fox News excluded, of course.) Taranto lists a few of the media's hypocrisies and a few of Obama's less dignified moments

UPDATE: NPR has changed the article title to "Is Moderate Growth Good for the Economy?" It seems even NPR has a modicum of shame.
Categories > Journalism

Foreign Affairs

Our "Waivering" President

Among the most egregious and apparently corrupt aspects of Obamacare is the widespread waivers which excuse Obama's allies and big donors from complying with the more burdensome and expensive regulations of the act. Not only does this represent political cronyism at its worst, but it also presents an unparalleled intrusion of governmental favoritism into private financial markets. Obama has effectively told America that any business or corporation which doesn't support his party will be punished with targeted regulation to which their left-leaning competitors will be excused.

Now comes confirmation that Obama has given a waiver to another liberal darling: Palestine. The Palestinian Accountability Act stipulates that "no funds available to any United States Government department or agency ... may be obligated or expended with respect to providing funds to the Palestinian Authority." Congress froze $192 in aid when Palestine petitioned the UN to recognize Palestinian statehood last year - that was shortly after it was revealed that Palestine was using U.S. aid dollars to pay the "salaries" of Arabs imprisoned in Israel for terrorism.

Obama has now given Palestine a waiver, excusing them from U.S. law.

The AFP news agency quoted White House spokesman Tommy Vietor as saying the $192 million aid package would be devoted to "ensuring the continued viability of the moderate PA government under the leadership of [Palestinian Authority] President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Salam Fayyad."

So Obama is defying - that is, waiving - American law in order to benefit Palestine in their hour of antagonism toward America. One is left to wonder which moderate PA government policies Obama hopes to keep viable through American funding.
Categories > Foreign Affairs

Elections

What Are Young People Thinking?

In today's New York Times, Charles Blow highlight a survey released this week by Harvard University's Institute of Politics which "asked respondents ages 18 to 29 to choose between pairings of issues to determine which ones they felt were more important."

Among domestic issues, creating jobs almost always won, while combating climate change almost never did. Immigration is also a losing issue (except when paired with climate change), while access to affordable health care is a winner.

"Reducing the role of big money in U.S. elections," a reference to the Citizens United decision which liberals had hoped to convert into a powerful election issue, also seems to be a non-starter among the young. One must doubt whether Obama's ruckus over student loan interest rates will have any effect, as well.

On the foreign affairs front, the youth vote cares about withdrawing from Afghanistan, combating terrorism and preventing a nuclear Iran. They are not particularly concerned about North Korea or solving the EU's troubles.
Categories > Elections

Foreign Affairs

Confidence in New Europe

The Czech Republic survived a vote of no confidence on Friday, whereas the Romanian government has fallen. Both countries are implementing austerity measures which domestic leftist movements deeply oppose. (Sound familiar?) The Czech Republic has increased sales and income taxes and introduced modest university fees (which will likely never disappear, now that they have been successfully introduced - signaling an end to "free" college education). They have also proposed deep spending cuts.

Romania, on the other hand, has failed to accept austerity measures and courts political chaos.

Romania took a €20 billion ($26 billion) bailout loan from the International Monetary Fund, the European Union and the World Bank in 2009 when its economy shrank 7 percent. The government has hiked the sales tax to 24 percent and slashed public sector wages by one-fourth in 2010 to meet the conditions of the loan, angering many Romanians.

The IMF and European Commission said in a statement they expected Romania to "continue to observe its economic policy commitments to its international partners."

Whether Romania will comply with the former government's international obligations is an interesting question. And whether Romania presents a potential trend of ruling party collapses is another interesting question. The Czechs seem to have barely avoided such a fate, but France seems likely to depose Sarkozy in light of the continuing fiscal crises and subsequent French unemployment. With Spain at 24% unemployment and Greece still circling the drain, Europe remains a fragile enterprise.
Categories > Foreign Affairs

Health Care

Sebelius Brushes Off Religious Liberty

At a congressional hearing, HHS Secretary Sebelius has to admit she did not consider constitutionally protected religious liberty when she issued her now infamous HHS mandate on insurance coverage of sterilization and contraception. Congressman Gowdy pins her down. Her worst excuse was that she is not a lawyer.

Categories > Health Care

The Founding

Federalism (and Limited Government) Reaffirmed

Many contemporary friends of limited government adopt erroneous theories ("states' rights," secession) that actually increase the possibility of tyrannical government, as American history bears out.

Often the case for secession as a device of limited government resorts to the Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions. But Villanova University professor (and MAHG instructor) Colleen Sheehan argues that James Madison, author of the Virginia Resolutions, had a much profounder view of not only federalism but the nature of popular government than his friend Thomas Jefferson, who authored the Kentucky Resolutions.

Whereas Jefferson sought to implement modes outside of the ordinary processes of law, in the form of constitutional conventions or negations of contractual/compact agreements, Madison sought to establish a political practice in which, whenever possible, the settled decisions of the people would control and direct government. Madison's cure was not to pit the extraordinary authority of the people against the ordinary deliberative processes of majority decision-making, but to hold the government dependent on and answerable to the deliberate, sovereign public.

Her essay appears in a series on the provocative Library of Law and Liberty website of the Liberty Fund.

Categories > The Founding

Conservatism

A Largely Forgotten Man

A hero to many contemporary conservatives and libertarians, William Graham Sumner (who penned the phrase "the forgotten man," which was then misappropriated by FDR), takes a beating from Steve Hayward. Sumner joined the attack on Progressive Darwinists who, along with this Social Darwinist, renounced the Declaration of Independence.

Categories > Conservatism

The Founding

Your Constitutional Authority

The Heritage Foundation has put on-line its Guide to the Constitution, co-edited by David Forte and Matthew Spalding. This is a line-by-line commentary with major essays by significant legal scholars. Heritage does terrific work with its instant digests on contemporary policy issues, but this is something different, yet relevant to policy debates.

Take this analysis of the first line of Article II of the Constitution, on the nature and scope of executive power, "the vesting clause." There's even a teacher's companion guide, besides the essay by UVA law professor Sai Prakash and a brief (and diverse) bibliography of legal scholarship.

Or consider co-editor Forte's thoughts on the commerce clause, now at the heart of the Obamacare case, to be decided by the Court this term. Are you clear on the meaning of "to ... regulate commerce ... among the several states"? And so it goes, line by line, through the whole Constitution.

The achievement deserves favorable comparison with the best encyclopaedias of legal thought, such as the grand project of the late Leonard Levy. And besides Heritage's is on-line, will be constantly updated (not a living Constitution, but a lively commentary) and free.

Categories > The Founding

Political Philosophy

Ah, To Be Informed and Open-Minded

Daily Caller reports on a Pew survey, "Partisan Differences in Knowledge," which "shows that Republican supporters know more about politics and political history than Democrats."

The Pew survey adds to a wave of surveys and studies showing that GOP-sympathizers are better informed, more intellectually consistent, more open-minded, more empathetic and more receptive to criticism than their fellow Americans who support the Democratic Party.
. . .

A March 12 Pew study showed that Democrats are far more likely than conservatives to disconnect from people who disagree with them.
. . .

A March Washington Post poll showed that Democrats were more willing to change their views about a subject to make their team look good. For example, in 2006, 73 percent of Democrats said the GOP-controlled White House could lower gas prices, but that number fell by more than half to 33 percent in 2012 once a Democrat was in the White House.

The article also mentions "novel research from the University of Virginia."

UVA researchers have used a massive online survey to show that conservatives better understand the ideas of liberals than vice versa. The results are described in a new book by UVA researcher Jonathan Haidt, "Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion.

The book uses a variety of data to argue that conservatives have a balanced set of moral intuitions, while liberals are focused on aiding victims, fairness and individual liberty. Conservatives recognize how liberals think because they share those intuitions, but liberals don't understand how conservatives think because they don't recognize conservatives' additional intuitions about loyalty, authority and sanctity, Haidt argues.

And this bit of "commercial research into the tastes and political views of potential customers" was also highly amusing to me.

. . . researchers have learned that Internet sites offering financial information, sports scores, online-auctions attract far more interest from Republicans than from Democrats, according to a 2010 study by National Media Research, Planning and Placement, based in Alexandria, Va.

In contrast, Democrats outnumber Republicans at online dating sites, job-searches sites, online TV and online video-game sites, said the firm.

All very interesting - and very unsurprising.

Education

The Global One-World Classroom

Wired Magazine profiles an initiative by a couple of Stanford professors to open some of their classes to "anyone with an internet connection." A recent class attracted 160,000 students in 190 countries. They are supremely optimistic, auguring that "there will be only 10 institutions in the world delivering higher education" in 50 years. All of which, naturally, will be internet-based and have a global reach.

I have my doubts. On-line schools will definitely rise in the years to come, particularly if prohibitively-expensive college tuition continues to rise. But it will be very difficult to replicate the small classroom experience and employers will have to accept their legitimacy. Presently, the only significant difference between the Stanford experiment and other on-line colleges is prestige (and cost - the former is still free).

A shift toward on-line schooling will likely be gradual - but if it is to be successful, it will result from initiative and experimentation on the part of on-line schools, as well as the stubborn refusal of traditional colleges to reduce costs and adapt.
Categories > Education

Progressivism

Facing Death

The New York Times Magazine has a lengthy article on the breaking trend of providing end-of-life patients with drugs. Psychologists are effectively administering magic mushrooms and hailing "the healing power of psychedelics." One of the leading researcher's reports:

On psychedelics you have an experience in which you feel there is something you are a part of, something else is out there that's bigger than you, that there is a dazzling unity you belong to, that love is possible and all these realizations are imbued with deep meaning. I'm telling you that you're not going to forget that six months from now. The experience gives you, just when you're on the edge of death, hope for something more.

The role which psychedelics are hoped to serve at the end of life is pretty much the same as that supplied to most people by religion. One doubts that the writers at the Times know any such people. So, the substitute for faith is hallucination. Perhaps the Times sees them as one and the same. But I suspect most people comprehend the difference.

My first reaction is that this is a cowardly way to approach death - just as drug use is a cowardly way to approach life. Such a solution has always been available. Re-branding it as science, medicine or progress changes nothing. Those of faith have nothing to fear and everything for which to hope. Atheists at least have nothing to fear. And sinful sorts can benefit from a little fear and trembling.

This is not medical advancement. It is social regression.
Categories > Progressivism

Foreign Affairs

Syria's in Trouble Now!

The New York Times reports:

U.N. Security Council Unanimously Agrees to Send More Observers to Syria

The UN also demands an immediate halt to the violence that has been steadily escalating since the UN's cease-fire took effect last week.

If Syria doesn't mind it's P's and Q's, the UN may be forced to send them a strongly worded letter.
Categories > Foreign Affairs

Race

Trayvon's Legacy

I continue to have little opinion on the Trayvon Martin case, just as I have little opinion on the other 45 alleged murders which occur daily in the U.S. But the killing continues to have reverberations on the left. Today, MoveOn.org began a national petition to force the district attorney for Chadbourn, North Carolina to bring charges in the killing of Jasmine Thar. The reason for their passion in this particular case? Thar was "a 16-year-old African American" and the person who fired the fatal shot is a "23-year-old Caucasian" who possessed "a Confederate flag and Nazi literature in his home."

MoveOn does not mention news reports that the
23-year-old Caucasian burst from his house after the shot was fired and began shouting "No! No! No!" as he fell to his knees. Another witness saw him crying in front of his house and observed, "I've never seen anyone's face so twisted with anguish." He was arrested but released when police determined that the discharge was accidental and may have been a mechanical failure of the weapon.

I have no idea if the Caucasian is innocent or guilty. And neither does MoveOn, who is calling for an new, "unprejudiced" investigation. That is, they assume that the reason charges have not been brought is based on race. The vast majority of blacks in America are killed by blacks, but have you ever noticed a liberal movement to end black-on-black crime? If this case did not involve a Confederate flag and Nazi literature, I would never have heard of it. Yet can you imagine the howls of outrage from the left if conservatives presumed a black man's guilt based on the possession of a Black Panthers' emblem and Nation of Islam literature?

Thee here: http://www.charlotteobserver.com/2012/04/18/3180944/1-bullet-3-victims-many-questions.html#storylink=cpy
The left's obsession with race transcends their devotion to the rule of law and prejudices their perception of crimes across racial lines. This is not virtuous concern for "insular minorities," but rather racist bias rooted in psychological insecurity and liberal ideology. Liberals do not want justice for blacks - if that were so, they'd address the black-on-black crimes which claim most black lives. Rather, liberals want to make a spectacle of white-on-black crimes, purely for political gain and personal psychological satisfaction.

Trayvon's death was tragic, but liberals have made his legacy into something corrupt and unseemly.
Categories > Race

Literature, Poetry, and Books

Remembering Twain

Mark Twain died today in 1910. The "greatest American humorist of his age" was also lauded by William Faulkner as "the father of American literature." An American treasure, his talents and legacy have been recalled by succeeding generations of fine Americans.

Health Care

Koreans Love Oreos

A tiny tempest in a teacup has erupted around Kraft Foods due to the leak of a Korean Oreo advertisement which shows an infant breastfeeding while holding an Oreo cookie. Since the photo shows partial nudity, I'll link to it rather than post it here.

I find the ad to be a bit egregious ... but pretty funny, nonetheless.

Asian humor is ... distinct. 
Categories > Health Care

Progressivism

Pelosi's "War on Civil Society"

Many Republicans wryly welcomed the reign of Madam Speaker Pelosi, as the gaffe-prone San Franciscan representative was sure to provide a spectacle of liberal lunacy. She is surely a crusader for the far left and perceives the world through a peculiar lens. For example, on Thursday she declared:

The fact is this president has been so respectful of the Republicans in Congress. He has given them every opportunity for the executive and the legislative branch to work together, to have a solution that has bipartisan support. He's been criticized by some for taking the time that it takes to find out that they're never going to give him a break, which is a compromise

These must be new definitions of respect, bipartisan and compromise of which I was previously unaware.

Now comes news that Pelosi has endorsed a constitutional amendment to strip free speech rights from everyone but individual persons. The People's Rights Amendment reads:

Section 1. We the people who ordain and establish this Constitution intend the rights protected by this Constitution to be the rights of natural persons.

Section 2. People, person, or persons as used in this Constitution does not include corporations, limited liability companies or other corporate entities established by the laws of any state, the United States, or any foreign state, and such corporate entities are subject to such regulation as the people, through their elected state and federal representatives, deem reasonable and are otherwise consistent with the powers of Congress and the States under this Constitution.

Section 3. Nothing contained herein shall be construed to limit the people's rights of freedom of speech, freedom of the press, free exercise of religion, and such other rights of the people, which rights are inalienable.


As Eugene Volokh notes, Pelosi's amendment would deprive newspapers, churches, non-profits and all corporate entities of free-speech.

So just as Congress could therefore ban the speech of nonmedia business corporations, it could ban publications by corporate-run newspapers and magazines -- which I think includes nearly all such newspapers and magazines in the country. ...

Congress could also ban the speech and religious practice of most churches, which are generally organized as corporation. It could ban the speech of nonprofit organizations that are organized as corporations. (Congressman McGovern confirms this: "My 'People's Rights Amendment' is simple and straightforward. It would make clear that all corporate entities -- for-profit and non-profit alike -- are not people with constitutional rights. It treats all corporations, including incorporated unions and non-profits, in the same way: as artificial creatures of the state that we the people govern, not the other way around.") Congress could ban speech about elections and any other speech, whether about religion, politics, or anything else. It could also ban speech in viewpoint-based ways.


This is not an attack on evil corporations. It is an attack on "civil society" - defined as the "mediating layer between the individual and the state." Pelosi's strategy dovetails Obama's war on the Catholic Church, in that they are attempting to dismantle and eliminate all non-governmental entities which share power and influence over individuals. Churches, private societies and all other such organizations in which individuals gather together provide alternatives to - and therefore dilute the authority of - the leviathan of government.

There is a reason that so many people deride liberal democrats as socialists and communists - they both have a seemingly unlimited deference to the state and a concomitant distaste for any other form of public assemblage. They view society as individuals under the state bureaucracy with no room for light between the two. Conservatives rightly view individuals and the state as commingling in public (that is, "political") forums. But we also recognize that the majorities of our lives take place outside the realm of politics, within a variety of religious, social and private venues collectively known as civil society. 

Pelosi's and the like have no appreciation that they would cripple society - in the same manner that communism invariably crippled societies - by deteriorating the non-political social bonds of civil society.
Categories > Progressivism

Foreign Affairs

If You Lie Down With Dogs . . .

Cristina Kirchner's Argentina is a socialist-lite South American dictatorship-in-the-making - a country increasingly modeled after Hugo Chavez's full-fledged socialist dictatorship in Venezuela. As a soft-socialist, Kirchner has nationalized sparingly - relying instead upon onerous regulation and government interference in the private sector in order to ensure "social democracy." As of late, however, her ambitions have been less subtle.

Facing intense criticism over the nationalization of its biggest oil firm, Argentina on Thursday ordered the seizure of YPF Gas, another group controlled by Spain's Repsol, a move expected to further inflame tensions.

When criticized for expropriating an oil firm, respond by seizing a gas firm. That'll teach 'em.

The move postures Argentina in direct conflict with Spain, the U.S., the EU and the IMF. But such is par for the course for socialist regimes - when the going gets tough, take what belongs to someone else. As Margaret Thatcher was fond of saying, "The problem with socialism is that eventually you run out of other people's money." Others would do well to stop placing their money within Ms. Kirchner's reach.

In fact, that same principle may apply to those in America who have a penchant for spending other people's money.
Categories > Foreign Affairs

Progressivism

Eugene Robinson's Rhetoric is Over the Top

Believe me, I would prefer not to dignify the ravings of Eugene Robinson by commenting on them. But today's article is a special kind of poison that cannot be safely ignored.

Not all overheated political rhetoric is alike. Delusional right-wing crazy talk -- the kind of ranting we've heard recently from washed-up rock star Ted Nugent and Tea Party-backed Rep. Allen West (R-Fla.) -- is a special kind of poison that cannot be safely ignored.

Let me be clear: I'm saying that the extreme language we hear from the far right is qualitatively different from the extreme language we hear from the far left -- and far more damaging to the ties that bind us as a nation. Tut-tutting that both sides should tone it down is meaningless. For all intents and purposes, one side is the problem.

Believe me, I would prefer not to dignify the ravings of Nugent or West by commenting on them.

As a rule, I believe nothing Eugene Robinson says, but his absurdities today reveal a particularly delusional pathology. The rants of Nugent (referring to the Obama administration as "coyotes in your living room") and West (referring to members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus as communists) do not hold a candle to the daily incendiary language of the left.

Here's a bit from yesterday's Forbes Magazine:

We know who the active denialists are - not the people who buy the lies, mind you, but the people who create the lies. Let's start keeping track of them now, and when the famines come, let's make them pay. Let's let their houses burn. Let's swap their safe land for submerged islands. Let's force them to bear the cost of rising food prices.

They broke the climate. Why should the rest of us have to pay for it?


That didn't take long to find.

The very suggestion that the most vitriolic rhetoric comes from the right is absurd. This same assertion was made after the Arizona shootings and was equally fallacious. I'll happily compare the rhetoric of the Tea Party to the Occupy Wall Street thugs - or, for that matter, any conservative group (pro-life, NRA, religious) to any liberal group (labor unions, environmentalists, secularists).

Unlike Robinson, I'm not arguing the conservatives are better human beings. I'm not even arguing that a bit of toxic rhetoric is all that bad. I'm only observing that, by way of comparison with the right, the rhetoric of the left is far more vitriolic, violent and ... poisonous.
Categories > Progressivism

Religion

Faith and Politics in the Next America

Charles Chaput, the Archbishop of Philadelphia, formerly of Denver, and probably the most outspoken, serious and influential Catholic thinker in America (perhaps second only to USCCB president Timothy Dolan in political influence), has just published a short book titled, A Heart on Fire: Catholic Witness and the Next America (available in e-book format from Amazon for $0.99 - it was my first PC Kindle purchase, and well worth the 1/4 cup of Starbucks coffee price).

Actually, the "book" should be considered an essay and will likely serve as the forward to a second edition of Chaput's 2008 publication, Render Unto Caesar: Serving the Nation by Living Our Catholic Beliefs in Political Life (due out this summer). Though written as a pastoral letter to Catholic faithful, Chaput is conscious of his wider audience and couches his message of religious freedom in authentically American terms. But he is hardly equivocal - his theme is one of persistence and active, unflinching engagement in the political sphere. He offers no quarter to the separationists who would have religious citizens check their faith at the door to political participation. Bringing faith to the political discussion is our duty, not merely our privileged, and so we must vigilantly ensure our right to cultivate faith and reason in the public forum.

You'd be hard pressed to find a better way to spend $0.99 and 30 minutes of your life.
Categories > Religion

Foreign Affairs

War is Still the Answer

The world is a scary place. Within the last week or so, North Korea tried to shoot a nuclear-capable rocket over my head, India boasted the ability to nuke China's major cities and the Sudanese have fully embraced a quasi-civil-war. It seems that arms races, whether high tech or low, are still the means by which countries seek to resolve differences and strategically position themselves for international diplomacy.

I believe it is safe to say that the UN has been an unmitigated failure in its primary mission to achieve world peace. Of course, that was a tall order to begin with. The EU has been generally stable in Western and Central Europe - although, following the two world wars for which that area is chiefly responsible, they were due for a few years of peace and we should wait a little longer to determine if theirs is to be an enduring peace. It is a fretful thought to consider that modern terrorism has not actually replaced traditional nation-based warfare, only accentuated and complemented it.

The world presently attempts to provide disincentives for arms-races and war-like aggression in the form of sanctions, but they have proved largely ineffective. Sanctions often weigh heaviest on the weak and ignorant. Further, poverty breeds desperation. It has always been rich and powerful nations which (after a bit of conquering and colonization) have instituted lasting peace. Such is was during the Pax Romana, Pax Ecclesiae and Pax Britannica. Attempts to equalize nations - or, in Obama's words, to level the playing field - foolishly seek to depress nations into a posture ripe for conflict.

Until we find a better trans-national solution or men are ruled by their better angels, my hope for world peace remains the pragmatic Pax Americana. Our abdication of the leading role in peace-keeping through superior diplomatic, economic and military power destabilizes global truces and imperils world peace. America as "world policeman" is still the best option on the table.
Categories > Foreign Affairs

Courts

Cosmic Constitutional Theory

In today's WaPo, George Will reviews Judge J. Harvie Wilkinson III's "Cosmic Constitutional Theory: Why Americans Are Losing Their Inalienable Right to Self-Governance." Will interprets Wilkinson's self-governance as a prerogative of majorities, preferring instead self-governance based on the liberties of individuals.

Ripe for thoughtful comment, I'd say.
Categories > Courts

Elections

Quote of the Year

I nearly missed this one from Michelle Obama a few days ago:

"This President has brought us out of the dark and into the light."

I must say, Barack found himself a devoted and faithful bride in Michelle. This administration has a record that only a mother could love. But Michelle is still praising her man with psalmic reverence.

The quote, of course, mirrors 1 Peter 2:9:

...who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light.

The Biblical quote references the messiah, though one wonders if the same is true for both quotes. Perhaps Michelle would subscribe to the whole verse, with minor substitutions:

But you are a chosen generation, a kingly priesthood, a holy nation, a purchased people: that you may declare his virtues, who has called you out of darkness into his marvelous light: Who in times past were not a people: but are now the people of [Obama].

After all, until Obama's ascension, America was a nation of "uninvolved," "uninformed," "complacent" "cynics" and "sloths," who were "guided by fear," whose "souls are broken" and who were "just downright mean." Michelle had never felt pride in America until Obama was elected. So it would not be difficult to imagine that America is now a chosen generation, a kingly priesthood, a holy nation, a purchased people, because it has declared Obama's virtues and become his people - a people called out of the darkness and into his marvelous light.

Is such an interpretation any less delusional than the claim that Obama has somehow delivered America out of darkness and into the light?
Categories > Elections

Courts

Torturing "Individuals"

The Supreme Court ruled unanimously today that foreign entities, including terrorist organizations such as the Palestine Liberation Organization, are not included in the Torture Victim Protection Act of 1991. The act allows victims of foreign torture to sue the "individuals" responsible for such conduct. A case was brought by the family of Azzam Rahim, an American who was murdered at the hands of the PLO. Plaintiffs argued that since corporations, for example, are generally considered "persons" under the law, organizations could be cast as "individuals." But the Court ruled that Congress' intent was to limit the law's reach to "flesh and blood" individuals, excluding the organizations to which they might belong.

Regardless of your opinion on the substantive matter of suing organizations which routinely torture, the Court was right to defer to Congress rather than sua sponte expanding the act to include entities beyond the act's intended scope. Nevertheless, a ruling is still pending on the Court's interpretation of the 18th century Alien Tort Claims Act, which would effectively grant universal jurisdiction to U.S. federal courts for international law violations affecting anyone, anywhere in the world (regardless of their ties to the U.S.). I previously mentioned the ATCA case here. So the Torture Victim Protection Act may soon become a moot point.
Categories > Courts

Foreign Affairs

How Covert Can It Be...?

... if the CIA is publicly "seeking authority to expand its covert drone campaign in Yemen?"

Shhhhh . . . maybe we're assuming Yemeni terrorists can't read.

Of genuine interest, however, is the requested expansion of the CIA's authority to launch "strikes against terrorism suspects even when it does not know the identities of those who will be killed."

Securing permission to use these "signature strikes" would allow the agency to hit targets based solely on intelligence indicating patterns of suspicious behavior, such as imagery showing militants gathering at known al-Qaeda compounds or unloading explosives.

But don't go thinking we're entering a brave new world or anything.

The practice has been a core element of the CIA's drone program in Pakistan for several years.
I wonder if that's also a covert action.

Obama's declined such a request last year, but seems poised to acquiesce in light of the troop draw-downs in the Middle East. Yet "signature strikes" against unidentified persons was certainly not on Obama's to-do list when he ran for president. It's good to see a liberal "evolve" in office in the "right" direction, for once.

Categories > Foreign Affairs

Health Care

Is "Eating" also "Mistreating"?

I awoke today to news that Obama ate a dog.

In the West Wing?

With the wife and kids?

Poor Bo?

Then I realized that it was decades ago, when Obama was a child in Indonesia, and of which he had written openly in his first book. The only aspect of the story which strike me as amusing is that the contents of his own autobiographies are still a mystery to most people (especially in the media).

Otherwise, I do not find the story of Obama "mistreating" dogs by eating them as a child to be overly unsettling. But then, I live in Korea - where dog is on the menu - and until recently lived in Italy - where horse is on the menu - and recently visited . . . well, you get the picture.

P.S. Ok, but this is really funny.
Categories > Health Care

Environment

Environmentalism's Waning Light

These two WaPo stories were side-by-side in my inbox today:

Naturally, the environmentalists have no where to go but to the Democrats (aside from the UN, of course, but that's a different matter). Yet the irony of the articles' wry placement reveals the sad state of affairs when a dwindling faction completely in the pocket of a single party begins to lose its influence. Big labor may be fully Democrat, but they're still collecting (often forced) dues and scaring up (often literally) votes so as to remain a force to be reckoned with. Environmentalists are beginning to see the limits of their influence.

But we haven't yet rid ourselves of radical environmentalism. Case in point: The new and improved $60 "Earth Day" light bulb. I don't expect this novelty to win over any new converts, but the fact that the Obama administration spent $10 million dollars during an economic crisis for a more expensive light bulb (and spent who knows how much political capital to pass legislation forcing Americans to buy said light bulb) reveals the lingering influence of the green industrial complex.
Categories > Environment

The Founding

If you shoot at a King...

Dr. King then applied for a gun permit. Ann Coulter on a brief history of blacks and gun control. Gun control remains a good litmus test of liberty--whom do you trust, yourself and your law-abiding friends, or lawless people and an arbitrary law? A WSJ op-ed puts Florida's "stand your ground" law in perspective and finds it moderate, and no license to shoot at will, or even when attacked.
Categories > The Founding

Conservatism

Mourning Tocqueville

Yesterday marked the 153rd anniversary of the death of Alexis de Tocqueville, the extraordinary biographer of America, in all its splendor and its deficiencies. His principal virtue was his insight that liberty-smothering bureaucracy--what he termed "centralized administration"--was at the core of contemporary ills, and it would worsen, as this scandal  (more serious than the GSA) reminds us.

This Tocqueville anniversary coincides with the 100th anniversary of Woodrow Wilson's bold attack on the American founders and his celebration of the administrative state, "What is Progress?" The presidential campaign address also proclaimed the need for Darwinian science to form the basis of our political science. The contrast between Wilson--who equated democracy and socialism--and Tocqueville, who denied such equivalence is most instructive.

Obama's ill-informed attribution of "Darwinism" to Paul Ryan, et al. flies in the face of his own Progressive, Darwinian assumptions, which repudiate constitutional government and justify tyranny.

A few years ago Diana Schaub penned a typically elegant essay on the anniversary of Tocqueville's death.

Categories > Conservatism

The Civil War & Lincoln

America's Good Friday

Abraham Lincoln was assassinated on April 15, 147 years ago today. The event fell on Good Friday.

History

Washington: Britain's Arch-Nemesis

Fox News reports from London:

George Washington has been named Britain's greatest ever foe, according to the UK's National Army Museum.

The American Revolutionary War hero and the country's first president was the winner of a vote held at the museum Saturday to identify the Britain's most outstanding military opponent, The (London) Daily Telegraph reported.

Washington triumphed over the likes of Michael Collins, Napoleon, Rommel and Ataturk for the (in)famous title of "greatest foe ever." One hopes that the title was born of respect on the part of the British. Of course, Collins, Napoleon and Rommel were ultimately unsuccessful and Ataturk enjoyed only limited successes. Washington alone won a victory for all ages, as it were, in American democracy. And his miraculous cannon fortification of Dorchester Heights during the ultimately successful siege of Boston remains an unsurpassed example of military leadership.

Perhaps the British merely wished to name the only man to defeat them in recent history as the greatest of men in recent history. If one must be defeated, let it be by the greatest of adversaries. Whatever their reasoning, the truth is the same: Washington was the greatest of men.
Categories > History

History

Guelzo on Titanic

Over at NRO, Allen Guelzo writes of the legacy of the Titanic, which sank along with over 2/3rds of its passengers 100 years ago this weekend. "The Titanic, name and thing," he quotes, "will stand for a monument and warning to human presumption." In the piece, Guelzo takes issue with some of the crimes committed by James Cameron in his epic portrayal of the disaster, and gives proper praise to the heroic captain of the Carpathia, Arthur Rostron, who did not flinch in rushing his ship through iceberg-infested waters to rescue whoever he could from the doomed ocean liner. "Presumption was what killed the Titanic. Presumption that technology relieves us from prudence, presumption that intelligent regulation will eliminate fear and pain, presumption that we have achieved exemption from the dangers that plagued earlier generations, presumption that nature can be driven out with a will-intentioned pitchfork...The sea hath spoken." Read the whole thing.

Additionally, this excellent graphic puts some perspective on the sinking of the Titanic, how deep James Cameron recently went in his submarine, and other interesting things about the mostly-unexplored depths of our oceans.
Categories > History

Conservatism

10 Years of the Claremont Review

The Claremont Review of Books is an indispensable trove of conservative thought and the Claremont Institute is a natural and worthy sister institution to the Ashbrook Center. Claremont marks its 10th anniversary with a new compilation of conservative thought, Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness: Ten Years of the Claremont Review of Books. No Left Turns' Peter Schramm, William Voegeli and Steven Hayward join a long list of luminaries in this new conservative collection of essays. Required reading for the conservative scholar.
Categories > Conservatism

Economy

Buffett, taxes, and the mandate

National Review has an editorial up on President Obama's "Buffett tax" gambit. As they note it won't generate much income for the government, and most people with $1 million or more in income already pay a roughly 30% tax rate.

If the President really wants to tax Buffett, and if Buffett really thinks he's undertaxed, there's a much better way to go.  Mr. Buffett claims roughly $40 million in income. He has a net worth of roughly $50 billion. That means his return on investment is less than 1%, for officially purposes at least. Why so low?  Buffett pays no dividend in his holding company, and does not take the kind of salary that most people who run large companies take. 

If we really want to raise taxes on Mr. Buffett, we should pay attention to the reason why his income is so low.  Mr. Buffett's refusal to pay a dividend deprives we the people of a greater share of his true income.  And if the failure to buy an item can be taxable--the argument that he supporters of Obamacare make--surely it is also reasonable to force Buffett to pay an "idle capital" penalty. So long as he conspires against the people, and deprives us of tax revenue, by refusing to pay a dividend, he should pay a penalty.

Categories > Economy

Politics

The Ideological Hack As Universal Genius

President Obama's stubborn persistence when he is wrong can be perplexing.  So last week he said that the Supreme Court overturning Obamacare would be a "an unprecedented, extraordinary step of overturning a law that was passed by a strong majority of a democratically elected Congress."  Now that obviously wasn't right.  And there is nothing wrong with misspeaking sometimes.  Everybody does it.  If he had just said he was wrong, the only people who would hold it against Obama would be the ones who are already against him  But he couldn't just admit he was wrong.  He had to say that he was right but that everybody misheard him (stupid everybody.)  President Obama then clarified by telling us that he only meant that the Supreme Court had not struck down an economic law passed by Congress since Lochner.   Only several problems with this analysis.  Lochner wasn't about a federal law.  It was about a state law.  Also, the Supreme Court continued to invalidate federal economic regulations for more than a quarter century after the Lochner decision.  So why did President Obama double down on the wrong?

I think it is because he is used to not getting caught.  President pretends to be the above-it-all guy who isn't about ideology.  He is about reality and everybody else is about ideology.  He has a good affect to pull of this act.  He is naturally confident and very calm.  The calm is especially important.  Rick Santorum has plenty of confidence, but he often comes across like a hothead.  It often looks like Santorum's reason has been overcome with his passion.  If people don't know the specifics of what Obama is talking about, they are inclined to give his statements the benefit of the doubt.

So President Obama says that the Solyndra loan was happened because "The understanding is that some companies are not going to succeed, some companies will do very well -- but the portfolio as a whole ends up supporting the kind of innovation that helps make America successful in this innovative 21st century economy,"  So he is just a futurist technocrat right?  He is making the investments that are going to make America a big success.  So let's give the government capitalist in the White House a break.  He isn't going to get all of the calls right. 

Well then it turns out that the vetting for Solyndra was rushed and that the real experts at the Treasury Department weren't allowed to weigh in.  The real story is that Obama is less a visionary investor in the future and more a crony capitalist with an ideological fixation on green energy.

Or what about Obama's attack on the latest version of the Ryan budget?  President Obama argued that, under Ryan's plan, seniors would have to pay more to enroll in traditional Fee For Service Medicare.  It turns out that all the programs offered under the Ryan budget would include at least the same actuarial benefits as Medicare and lower cost options would only be viable if they offered the same benefits at a lower price.  Oh, and Ryan proposes to grow Medicare spending at the same rate as President Obama.

So why does Obama do all this?  The main reason is that he usually gets away with it.  A lot more people have heard Obama's promises about government-financed green energy than have heard about the Treasury Department's inspector general report on Solyndra.  The President has the megaphone so a lot more people heard his attack on the Ryan budget than read Ryan's rebuttal.  The problem with Obama's "unprecedented, extraordinary step of overturning a law that was passed by a strong majority of a democratically elected Congress" comment wasn't that it was false, it was that so much of the political press called him out on it and lots of people have the vague, remember-it-from-high school knowledge that the Supreme Court has struck down federal laws lots of times.  Most people have no such context when it comes to Solyndra or the Ryan budget. 

The Obama above-it-all act works pretty well, but it is fragile.  If he gets skewered just right, it doesn't matter how calm or confident he seems.  The spell is broken.  The Romney team needs to point to the gap between the rhetorical Obama and the real Obama.  He is the constitutional law professor who tries to tell you that the Supreme Court never struck down a law passed by a "strong majority" of Congress.  He is the crony capitalist who says he is investing in the future but is really just carelessly shoveling money out the door to politically connected companies.  He can't tell the truth about either his own Medicare proposal or that of the Republicans and then he says it is all about the math.  I think humor would be the best weapon here.  There is something absurd about the way Obama presents himself.  Exposing the absurdity in a way that doesn't come across as mean spirited would be the best way to deflate the incumbent, but that is a hard trick to pull off.         
Categories > Politics

Quote of the Day

Quotation du Jour

In light of the Left's conniption fit about the possibility that Obamacare might be ruled unconstitutional by the court, I thought it might be worth reposting this pearl of wisdom form Professor Tribe:

Whenever I suggest in these essays, for want of space or of humility, that one or another decision seems to me "plainly right" or "plainly wrong," or that some proposal or position is "clearly" consistent (or inconsistent) with the constitution, I hope my words will be understood as shorthand not for a conclusion I offer as indisputably "correct" but solely for a conviction I put forward as powerfully held.

Categories > Quote of the Day

Education

Founding Documents Bill Signed into Law

I went down to Columbus on Monday for the Governor's ceremonial signing of Senate Bill 165, the "Founding Documents Bill."  I testified on behalf of this bill a few months ago.  State Senator Larry Obhof (R-Montville Township) led the charge on behalf of the bill that is now law. The state's model curricula will now include the Declaration of Independence; the United States Constitution, with an emphasis on the Bill of Rights; the Northwest Ordinance; and the Ohio Constitution.  The curricula will include reading the primary documents in their historical context.  As Sen. Obhof said, this law will help "ensure that all Ohioans are adequately prepared for their role in democratic self-governance."

Categories > Education

Courts

Loose Construction, Strict Construction, and Deconstruction

Richard Epstein's latest post gives strength to my post the other day, which argued that Progressives view the constitution the way a passenger on a plane sees the country from 30,000 feet--everything is homogenized into one, unified landscape.  Moreover, he notes that that is the only way to justify the modern view of the commerce clause.

Epstein points to Charles Fried as a case in point. (Fried may have served in the Reagan administration, but, as Epstein notes, he has bought the Progressive re-writing of the constitution. Fried also supported Obama for President.)  Fried insists that there is no practical limit to the federal government's power under the commerce clause.  As Epstein points out, Fried claims  "that the scope of the commerce power was settled as early as 1824 in Gibbons v. Ogden, which he does not refer to by name. Of Gibbons, Fried explains, "If something is within the power of Congress, Congress may exercise that power to its fullest extent." 

On the contrary, Epstein notes, notes that Progressives like to cite Chief Marshall's opinion in Gibbons v. Ogden to justify a very expansive reading of the commerce clause, "in Gibbons, Chief Justice Marshall wrote without embarrassment that "the completely interior traffic of a State" was beyond the power of commerce to regulate. A fortiori, the regulation of manufacture, agriculture, mining, or health care was far outside the scope of Congressional regulation." 

Epstein goes on to note that Chief Justice Marshall very clearly indicated that the federal government has no authority, at least under the commerce clause, to regulate intra-state commerce--of which there was a good deal: "in Gibbons, Chief Justice Marshall wrote without embarrassment that "the completely interior traffic of a State" was beyond the power of commerce to regulate. A fortiori, the regulation of manufacture, agriculture, mining, or health care was far outside the scope of Congressional regulation."

In the founding era, the argument was between loose construction (which the Federalist Party supported) and strict construction (which the Republican Party supported). Both sides agreed that there were real limits to the federal government's power.  They disagreed about whether there were implied powers at all.  Nowadays, the argument not about whether there are implied powers, but, rather, about whether there is anything that cannot be turned into an implied power.  If one may discover some implied powers, may one be justified in discovering any conceivable implied power?  Progressives seem to think that the answer is yes--so long as History or Progress demands it.

In other words, the argument today is between loose construction and deconstruction, not between strict and loose construction of the Constitution.

Categories > Courts

Courts

The Constitution Liveth (And it Keeps on Living)

President Obama is probably just trying to work the refs in his comments suggesting he is  "confident that the Supreme Court will not take what would be an unprecedented, extraordinary step of overturning a law that was passed by a strong majority of a democratically elected Congress."

Since Progressives have long praised the Court for taking away from the people the right to make law on may subjects, the comment might seem striking.  But I actually think it is entirely consistent with the Progressive understanding of the "living constitution." Whatever furthers the Progressive agenda is good, and whatever blocks it is bad.  Living is only supposed to be in the direction of "progress."  If the Court strikes down laws Progressives like, they will decide that judicial review is passe.

But what if the country is divided about what is "forward" in history? And what if some (many, I suspect) Americans are not living in an Hegelian world in which History has direction?

More evidence that a living constitution is impossible absent a consensus about what's next.

P.S. Obama's criticism of Paul Ryan for "thinly veiled Social Darwinism" draws out a related point. Uncle Barry's moral ideas are from fifty years ago. His Progressivism is trapped in the past. His living constitution is the prisoner of 20th century Progressivism.

Categories > Courts

Politics

Our Constitutional Law Professor President

President Obama edified the country today when he told us that "Ultimately, I'm confident that the Supreme Court will not take what would be an unprecedented, extraordinary step of overturning a law that was passed by a strong majority of a democratically elected Congress."

If he wasn't a former constitutional law professor, I would point out one could maybe find precedent for a law passed by a strong majority of a democratically elected Congress that was overturned by the Supreme Court. 
Categories > Politics

Foreign Affairs

Burmese Spring?

Limited elections in Burma have nearly unanimously rewarded the opposition democratic party and an iconic Burmese leader. According to Slate:

Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi's party, the National League for Democracy, is on track to win at least 43 of the 44 contested seats in Burma's historic parliamentary by-elections.

However, sober observers remind that the road to democracy is long and winding for Burma.

One by-elections, in other words, will not plant the seed for Asia's version of Nelson Mandela's Truth and Reconciliation Commission. If this be a revolution, it will not be in the mold of South Africa. Certainly not of the Philippines, Indonesia, or the Czech Republic. But in a society heavily into astrology and karma, heaven help the junta, neither will it be of the Arab Spring.

Burma remains one of the most benighted lands on Earth, but any erosion of the ruling junta's power is a good thing. These electoral successes, while meager, will hopefully lead to a continuing democratic movement.
Categories > Foreign Affairs

Politics

Deeply Shaken

I saw Howard Dean on Fox News Sunday.  He was saying that it would be a victory for the President if the Supreme Court Justices strike down the individual insurance purchase mandate and uphold the rest of Obamacare.  We've come a long way from when liberal commentators were assuring us that the legal case for Obamacare was a slam dunk.  Now we have Howard Dean pretty much begging the Supreme Court to uphold part of Obamacare and hoping he can spin the partial survival of the law into a political win.  Smugness has been replaced with panic.

The panic is premature.  I take it as a given that only Anthony Kennedy knows how he is going to vote on Obamacare.  And maybe not even he knows.  And even if he thinks he knows, he might change his mind.  I've been rereading Jan Crawford Greenburg's excellent  Supreme Conflict.  The book won't help you predict what Kennedy will do on the mandate, but it might make your confusion better informed.

From the oral arguments, Kennedy clearly seemed to think that the insurance purchase mandate was an unprecedented and fundamental expansion of federal power under the interstate commerce clause.  He was skeptical that the interstate commerce clause gave Congress the power to force citizens to contract with a private company to purchase a particular class of product.  He also seemed skeptical that, if the Supreme Court consented that Congress had this power in matters of health insurance, the power could then be cabined to only health insurance and not cell phones, broccoli, burial insurance, or whatever other product Congress imagined.  Every attempt by the Solicitor General to construct a "limiting principle" was quickly demolished.  This is possibly because neither the Solicitor General, nor the administration he represented, nor the congressional majorities who voted for the law believed that any such limiting principle was necessary.  The result was a group of badly thought out bad faith arguments that collapsed under questioning.  Before liberals get too upset with the Solicitor General, they should remember that he would have fared even worse if he had been more honest and argued something along the lines of "Hell yeah the Congress can mandate that Catholic Charities purchase aborted fetuses by the dozen as a way to reduce premiums for government-mandated abortion insurance.  The Supreme Court said so.  Where?  It was that case with the wheat or the weed, or the national bank.  I dunno."

So what is Kennedy going to do?  I think some of it will come down to Kennedy's self-image.  Greenburg quotes Kennedy as saying "I try to accommodate more of the precedents in a more case-by-case approach than does, say, Nino [Scalia] or Bill Brennan."  I think that Kennedy's self-image has some major reality problems when you look at his votes and opinions on the death penalty and social issues, but it is still his self-image.  If the conservative Supreme Court Justices (and especially the careful and prudent John Roberts) can convince Kennedy that striking down the Obamacare mandate does not mean striking down (even in part) New Deal-era precedents like Wickard, then Kennedy might vote to strike down the mandate. 

On the other hand, Greenburg writes that Kennedy "pays attention to the social and political fallout from the Court's work, and frequently winds up in the middle, looking for that elusive compromise position that will resolve the most divisive either-or cases."  Kennedy must know that, if he votes to strike down the mandate, he will be cursed by center-left dominated institutions to his grave and beyond.  So he might put aside his principles (to the extent he has any or understands those he thinks he has), and try to find a "compromise" that will maximally salvage his reputation with every side and maybe accommodate his principles a little too.  One can imagine Kennedy talking himself into a "compromise" where he votes to uphold the mandate and conservatives get a little eyewash about how Congress only has the power to impose purchase mandates on health insurance - until Obama appoints another Supreme Court Justice.  Heh, heh.

Liberals and conservatives each have plenty of reason to chew antacids until the Supreme Court announces its decision.     
Categories > Politics

Progressivism

Who Does the European Left Hate?

Not the Eurozone PIIGS who have plunged the EU into economic ruin. Not the former soviet bear who yet strives to embrace a sphere of oppression in Europe's backyard. Not the Islamic sponsors of terrorism vying for nuclear arms to trade on the global market. Rather, the EU - which is generally synonymous with the European left - has focused its ire on Hungary. As Alex Alexiev correctly explains:

Technically, at issue is a quarrel between the European Commission (EC) and the government of Hungary over some obscure laws on judges' retirement ages, ombudsman roles and whether or not Central Bankers ought to swear an oath to the constitution of the state they serve. In reality, the conflict is over fundamental issues such as who decides what European values are, from whence does democratic legitimacy derive in the EU and should a democratically-elected national legislature or the European bureaucracy ultimately decide what legislation is legitimate and what's not.

. . .

It is an irony worth noting, that the democratically-elected government of Hungary is being judged by the unelected EC bureaucratic mandarins, who among other recent deeds, denied a democratic referendum to the Greeks and forced on them and the Italians unelected governments, to say nothing of imposing on the Europeans thousands of rules and regulations on which no one has been allowed to vote.
The real viciousness of this conflict, however, goes clearly beyond economic policy and political reform and cannot be explained except by realizing that what the Hungarians have done is to commit the mortal sin of challenging the prevailing political culture of the European Union establishment today and thus the very legitimacy of its leftist, multi-cultural Weltanschaung. Much more unacceptable than [Hungary]'s economic policies, to its adversaries, are its political philosophy as exemplified by the new constitution's insistence that Hungary is a Christian nation and proud of it, that marriage is between a man and a woman and that life begins at conception. Commonsense propositions to most Europeans as these are, they make the politically correct EU elites go truly unhinged.
Categories > Progressivism