Herman Cain confuses the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, but his impressive announcement speech ends with one of the most powerful lines of political oratory in recent years. He makes congruent the squared circle of bureaucracy and civil rights that was the original plague of a bureaucratic state enforcing civil rights (Sunstein makes this clear, btw). Among Republicans only he could have delivered it so effectively. He can't get the nomination, but he diminishes Republican confidence in the rest of field by speaking so pointedly.
But Cain's mistake is far overshadowed by Obama's use of the Declaration to promote his containment of Israel. Obama appears to assume that Palestinians recognize the equal natural rights of humanity. Moreover, the equality of all human beings by virtue of their natural rights means that not all cultures are created equal. Which side in the Middle East most resembles the "merciless Indian savages" denounced in the Declaration? Herman Cain would not make this mistake, however diligently Obama and the State Department persist in making it.
For the American people, the scenes of upheaval in the region may be unsettling, but the forces driving it are not unfamiliar. Our own nation was founded through a rebellion against an empire. Our people fought a painful Civil War that extended freedom and dignity to those who were enslaved. And I would not be standing here today unless past generations turned to the moral force of nonviolence as a way to perfect our union -- organizing, marching, protesting peacefully together to make real those words that declared our nation: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal."
Those words must guide our response to the change that is transforming the Middle East and North Africa -- words which tell us that repression will fail, and that tyrants will fall, and that every man and woman is endowed with certain inalienable rights.
Earlier he had oddly stated: "The dream of a Jewish and democratic state cannot be fulfilled with permanent occupation." But Israel is no dream; it exists. If its land is to be equated with "permanent occupation," then he is saying Israel is illegitimate. (Similar arguments are raised in the U.S. about the illegitimacy of European settlers.) Obama's speech does not even rise to the amorality of moral equivalence.
As if there wasn't enough division in the world, the universe has now been exposed as lending to the problem. According to NASA: Dark Energy Is Driving Universe Apart.
A five-year survey of 200,000 galaxies, stretching back seven billion years in cosmic time, has led to one of the best independent confirmations that dark energy is driving our universe apart at accelerating speeds.
It's a bad day for gravity, which is now repulsive rather than attractive at great distances, and a good day for dark energy, which comprises 96% of the universe along with dark matter (reserving a mere 4% for normal matter - including everything made of atoms).
Worse yet, this inequality on the part of the universe's dark components is only getting worse. Environmentalists should take heed:
Observations by astronomers over the last 15 years have produced one of the most startling discoveries in physical science; the expansion of the universe, triggered by the big bang, is speeding up.
That is, there will be more dark bits of the universe and even less atomic bits. What's global warming compared to galactic expansion? We need to immediately take drastic action to stop the universe from growing and perpetuating inequality. It's the poorest galaxies which will be most negatively affected, after all.
Remember when Democrats accused Republicans - particularly George W. Bush - of abusing their authority, defying the law and governing illegally? Of course, that was all just hyperbole - only the most fanatical and unhinged actually believed Bush or his ilk had actually broken the law. But Democrats demagogued and won elections on the promise of reversing these lawless trends.
Well, now Democrats are violating their own interpretation of lawful behavior as well as defying objective legal standards in every branch of government they control. First, as Robinson notes below, President Obama is engaged in an illegal war by his own standards and has now violated the War Powers Resolution. Second, Senate Democrats have not passed (or even proposed) a budged in over two years - a clear and blatent violation of the law which Harry Reid flippantly disregards. There can be no greater examples of prioritizing politics above the law than waging an unauthorized war and refusing to address fundamental fiscal responsibilities during an economic crisis.
Democrats are largely unfit to govern on account of their morally bankrupt, ever-expanding government policies - but their unsuitableness for democratic responsibilities is also well reflected in their disregard for the rule of law.
... and, the world hasn't ended.
Or, none of NLT's readers got picked up for the Rapture. No surprises there, I suppose.
Pity. Looks like you're stuck reading NLT a little longer!
As Doug Kendall of the Constitutional Accountability Center explained today, the Republicans who opposed Liu's nomination "were completely ignoring what Goodwin Liu testified to under oath," instead relying on "a distorted interpretation of things he said years ago in his scholarship." It was as if the sworn testimony had never even happened. Liu testified not once but twice before the Senate Judiciary Committee, and he was unfailingly temperate, scholarly, and sober. Yet from the start Republicans depicted him as the Tim Riggins of the legal academy--all beer-soaked hair and bloody knuckles--and never varied that picture in the face of the evidence. The caricature of Liu as careless and reckless and "wacky" never dimmed, even while it never fit. A few lines plucked from a few articles, repeated on an infinite loop, obscured one of the most thoughtful and serious legal minds of a generation.
Columbus' own "Macho Man" Randy Savage died today. To loyal fans of the legendary faux wrestler, our most respectfully over-the-top and larger-than-life condolences. He was a colorful entertainer who helped define an entire genre.
Obama's most radically leftist nominee to the federal bench has been defeated by GOP filibuster in the Senate. Goodwin embodies the more extremist notions of the living constitution. Powerline discussed Liu's radicalism on several occasions.
The GOP and the Gang of 14 drew a line in the sand on Liu, defining his views as the "extraordinary circumstances" which merit judicial filibusters (see Richard Adams below). Time will tell if this is a singular anomaly or the beginning of a trend of GOP assertiveness on judicial nominations.
The borders of Israel and Palestine should be based on the 1967 lines....
Obama has long been accused of kowtowing to America's enemies while betraying our friends. This policy reversal on Israeli security - rejecting Israeli security while promoting Palestinians' "right to return" - surely fuels the fires of such accusations.
It looks like Senate Republicans are going to filibuster Goodwin Liu to keep him off the Bench. Turnabout is fair play, certainly. And precedents matter. But I wonder whether the filibuster is proper for nominees.
The key question is when the Senate is doing its "avise and consent" role, rather than working with the other branche(s) of the Legislature to make law, is it acting in Article I or Article II. If giving its advice and consent is not a legislative task, and if the filibuster is a legislative action, then the answer is no.
Given the precedents that exist already, it's probably too late to do anything, but I thought the question worth raising, perhaps as a matter of historical interest.
One could argue that way back at the start of Washington's first term, when the Senate kicked the President and Secretary of War out of their chamber, rather than discussing instructions for negotiations with the Creeks that set the precedent for most of what followed in that area.
1. Thou shalt make no hyperbolic nor dishonest criticisms of Ryan's policies nor those of any other Republican who suggests thoughtful policies for dealing with our fiscal situation.
2. Thou shalt not offend thy fellow citizens by offering shallow, dishonest, crowd pleasing pseudo-solutions to our fiscal problems. If thou makest policy suggestions, they shalt be responsible, and plausibly address the fiscal issues of the land.
3. Thou shalt not make an idol, nor even a litmus test, of Ryan's policies, and thou shalt welcome incisive critiques and plausible alternatives.
Since the passage of the Patient Protection and Affordability Care Act (PPACA) by a Democrat-controlled Congress and President Obama, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has given out 1,372 waivers to part of the law. Of the 204 most-recently approved Obamacare waivers, 38 went to restaurants, hotels, and nightclubs in Nancy Pelosi's congressional district--almost twenty percent. Three entire states have been granted exemptions from the law, the most recent being the state of Nevada--thanks to the work by one of the Obamacare architects, Senator Harry Reid (D-NV). The vast majority of those who have received waivers are large corporations and labor unions such as McDonalds and the Teamsters.
Most of these waivers are not complete exemptions from the law, and so far do not appear to be permanent. They mostly target one section of the law that makes it illegal to place annual or lifetime limits on health plans, and most of the big businesses and unions in question currently offer limited coverage plans to some employers that would be rendered illegal due to Obamacare. Without the resources to be able to afford the more comprehensive coverage demanded by the law, businesses would need to drop coverage for their employees altogether in order to avoid being penalized. Rather than do that, they have lobbied HHS to get waivers that exempt them from this provision in the law.
The Obama Administration has justified this waiver practice by saying it avoids disruptions to some people's current health plans. It is worth noting that Congress did include language in PPACA that explicitly grants HHS authority to grant waivers to other particular provisions of the law, but did not make such permission for HHS to arbitrarily grant waivers for this portion. Thus it is no surprise that, without authority and thus without guidelines from Congress, the recipients of these generous waivers have been the wealthy, the well-connected, and the politically muscled rather than the struggling small businessman or the Midwestern farmer.
This waiver practice represents gross contempt for the rule of law by establishing an unequal application of the law, resulting in some being more burdened by Obamacare than others. It favors those wealthy and powerful enough to work their way through the complicated provisions of this overreaching boondoggle, opening the door for completely unacceptable corruption and favoritism. The waivers also serve a political purpose of allowing the Obama Administration to placate their political allies and wealthy corporations for a few years until the full law comes into effect, helping to mute criticism of Obamacare and keep its bad provisions from being fully realized in the mean time; they are betting on the belief that Americans would notice if tens of thousands of McDonalds employees suddenly lose their health plans, but not if a dozen people at the mom and pop place down the street do.
Some in Congress are doing what they can to rein in the Obama Administration and reinforce the rule of law. Congressman Michael Rogers (R-MI) and eighty others are sponsoring House Resolution 984: Health Care Waiver Fairness Act of 2011, which requires the administration to establish an official waiver process with clear, particular guidelines. The summary of the proposed law provided by GovTrack.us is:
"Health Care Waiver Fairness Act of 2011 - Amends the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) to require the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS), the Secretary of Labor, and the Secretary of Treasury to establish waiver processes under which the administrator of a health plan, an employer, an individual, or other entity may seek to waive the application of a health insurance coverage requirement under PPACA. Sets forth PPACA requirements that may be waived, including those related to minimum essential coverage and employers offering health care coverage to employees. Establishes requirements for the waiver process, including requiring submission of a statement describing how the imposition of the PPACA requirement would result in a significant decrease in access to coverage or a significant increase in premiums or other costs for such plan, employer, individual, or entity. Deems to be approved any waiver including such a statement. Requires the Secretary of HHS to conduct a public awareness campaign of the waiver process with funds made available for the Prevention and Public Health Fund."
Congress would do well to pass the Health Care Waiver Fairness Act in order to allow everyone who stands to suffer from Obamacare's implementation to have the same opportunities as the labor bosses and the Wall Street executives to receive a waiver. While it is important to take the seeking and giving of waivers as further proof that Obamacare is bad policy and thus should be repealed or radically amended, there is an even more important thing to protect here: respect for the rule of law.
We must remember that laws, not men, rule us. Before the law, with Justice deaf to our pleas and blind to our station in life, we are equal. When we allow men to become the arbitrators of their own personal form of law, politics and corruption overcome unprotected Justice and we find ourselves in a land of inequality and uncertainty. In engaging in this corrupt waiver practice, the architects and enforcers of this far-reaching health care law express contempt both for the power of Congress and the rule of law, and insult the common decency of our political order. Without the rule of law, we are without the protections of liberty and justice. It is shameful, and it must stop.
1. Gingrich should not be President. Obviously.
2. More importantly as Ross Douthat points out, we should avoid two temptations in talking about the Medicare reforms in Ryan's Path To Prosperity. First, we should avoid and stigmatize the kind of cynical, short-sighted, and incompetent triangulation displayed by Newt Gingrich. We are already having a "national conversation" on these matters, and Paul Ryan has done more than any other politician to advance that conversation. Politicians who combine hyperbolic attacks on Ryan with fantastical policy alternatives (end waste and fraud? really?) are worse than wasting our time. They are damaging our ability to think through our problems. It would be a good thing if other Republican politicians took this lesson from Gingrich's fiasco.
The second temptation is more subtle. Ryan's PTP has political and (I think) policy problems. Support for the PTP's Medicare proposals should not be a litmus test for either presidential or congressional candidates. Constructive disagreement from the right should be welcomed. We need more and more Ryan(ish) plans competing in the marketplace. If the 2012 Republican presidential nominee has a Medicare strategy of "cut fraud" and "have a national conversation", the Republicans will certainly have failed to be equal to the moment. If the Republican nominee is running on an unmodified PTP, they will be worthy of respect, but they will have missed an opportunity to give themselves the best chance to win and implement the change we need.
Refine & Enlarge
Confidence in progress has now been replaced by postulation of change. Progress is achieved and can be welcomed, but change just happens and must be adjusted to. "Adjusting to change" is now the unofficial motto of Harvard, mutabilitas instead of veritas. To adjust, the new Harvard must avoid adherence to any principle that does not change, even liberal principle. Yet in fact it has three principles: diversity, choice, and equality. To respect change, diversity must serve to overcome stereotypes, though stereotypes are necessary to diversity. How else is a Midwesterner diverse if he is not a hayseed? And diversity of opinion cannot be tolerated when it might hinder change.
Ramesh Ponnuru argues that Mitt Romney's interests coincide with those of Michele Bachmann. She would prevent Pawlenty or Daniels from consolidating the right-of-Romney vote (she would dominate the populist vote and Romney the establishment vote with Pawlenty and Daniels squeezed out) but have too narrow an appeal to win a nomination race against Romney. I think that is right if it comes to that, but I think there is another way to think about the divisions within the GOP primary electorate.
There are lots of axes dividing Republican primary voters. There are those who would not vote for either an economic or social liberal but who prioritize economic issues above social issues and vice versa. There are evangelical and non-evangelical voters. Ponnuru sets up the axis of establishment vs. populist. I think one very important axis dividing the GOP primary electorate is governance-oriented conservatism vs. subgroup affiliation-oriented conservatism.
On the one hand are voters who prioritize some kind of governing competence, electability and some minimum of ideological fidelity to what they imagine are conservative principles. On the other are voters who value the candidate's authenticity as a real conservative. It really isn't about ideology past a certain minimum (current pro-choicers and Obamacare supporters won't win over much of either group when push comes to shove.) A lot of it has to do with social group relations. Who do you show contempt for? Who shows contempt for you? For a certain fraction of voters, these questions are important markers of what side you are on. Or to put it another way: Alaska is not a right to work state and Alaska state workers are still unionized at the state level. Mitch Daniels ended collective bargaining for Indiana state government employees, slashed the size of the state employee workforce, and fought and won a series of education reforms that severely wounded the Indiana teacher unions. But if it came to a race between the two, some fraction of the Republican electorate would declare Palin the "real conservative" partly because Daniels didn't fight for right to work laws (he sacrificed that goal in the course of trying to get his education reforms through) and Palin was a principled and tough fighter for conservative goals. At this stage, whether you said Obama runs a gangster government works better for you (with a fraction of that electorate) than what you might have done to reform health care policy in your state. It isn't just the emotional satisfaction of seeing Obama and his media supporters assailed. The willingness to attack demonstrates the character that will be needed to take on the key issues of the day when times get tough in Washington. The contempt of the liberal media (especially if reciprocated) is a sign that they will never co-opt you. Pawlenty understands this dynamic. That is why he hollered about Obama's apologies and used a domestic violence metaphor in describing how Obama's agenda should be opposed.
Romney's main current challenge is not that Daniels or Pawlenty will consolidate the right-of-Romney and win enough centrist-leaning voters to beat Romney. It is that they will displace Romney among those voters who most value displays of governing competence and conservative accomplishment. When it comes to records as political executives, they both have him beat. Pawlenty and Daniels did not convert to being pro-life just before running for President. Daniels's social "truce" comment will hurt him (as it should), but he also signed Indiana's law defunding Planned Parenthood and defended it prudently. They both slashed government spending and balanced budgets, but neither signed an Obamacare-like health care bill. Daniels' record on reforming health care policy is far superior to Romney's. They also served two terms to Romney's one. When it comes to policy and ideological consistency, Daniels and Pawlenty are superior to Romney. In 2008, Romney could have argued that he was the candidate who best combined executive competence with ideological consistency (if you bought the makeover), but that was when his main opponents were Huckabee (often sounded too statist on economic issues) McCain (amnesty, the Bush tax cuts, and too much else), Giuliani ( where to begin..) and Fred Thompson (no executive experience.) Romney could claim either an experience or ideological advantage against any one of them.
Lacking the experience and ideological advantages of 2008, Romney will have to use his name recognition and war chest to prevent Pawlenty and Daniels from drawing away those voters looking for governing competence (well one definition of it anyway), conservatism, and electability.
The Sage of Mt. Airy reminds us what's really wrong with Gingrich's opportunistic attack on Paul Ryan: as a deprivation of liberty, social engineering is by definition left-wing. Moreover:
Use of the phrase belies a fundamental belief that what currently divides our country can be adequately captured on some continuum of thought, left to right. But that notion itself belies an even more fundamental belief that, actually, nothing divides our country, that it's all a matter of degree. The modern, nanny-state leviathan is the norm; we're only arguing about more or less, (Always privileging "more", of course.)
The GOP seems to be having some trouble in New York. Some thoughts,
1. The Republican candidate seems flat footed and the "Tea Party" candidate is a classic straw (a candidate with no chance to win whose goal is to to help one of the viable candidates by pulling votes from another viable candidate.)
2. Medicare reform has to be a choice between centrally administered rationing that will hit current seniors (the Obama/Democrat approach) and patient-centered reform for future seniors. If it is just Republican Medicare cuts vs. nothing, then Republicans lose. And Republicans have to be on offense tying their Democratic opponets to IPAB.
3. Gingrich made the job of Democrats marginally easier. His new first name is Even (as is even Newt Gingrich the right-wing Speaker is against this radical right-wing social engineering plan.)
4. The Capretta-Miller Medicare reform plan would be a more prudent reform plan for 2012 (along with being better policy imho.)
With no video, no search optimization, no slide shows, and a design that is right out of mid-'90s manual on HTML, The Drudge Report provides 7 percent of the inbound referrals to the top news sites in the country.
The site also generates 12-14 million unique visitors / month.
How does Matt Drudge do it (all these years after the Lewinski scandal that propelled him to fame)? Simple. He does one thing (wire editing) very well and he doesn't let anything else pollute the simplicity. The site generates 12-14 million unique visitors / month.
And, adding further insult to injury for the MSM, Matt Drudge is a conservative. While he links broadly and needn't stoop to pandering, the tilt of his headlines and organization are often unflattering toward liberals. But the news itself untouched by Drudge - he just offers an assortment of links and leaves it to the reader to judge the truth. Imagine that as a concept of journalism - no wonder the MSM hate him.
Unwilling to trade fortune and fame for a public salary, Donald Trump has bowed out of the presidential race. Trump was always more of a side-show distraction than a serious option in the eyes of most Republicans, but he garnered a good amount of attention, affected the field (Obama finally revealed his birth certificate) and provided a bit of insight into popular sentiments. One shouldn't ignore the fact that Trump lead in many GOP presidential polls. This may not have translated into an actual electoral victory, but it reveals that voters were attracted to a non-political businessman willing to speak his mind (even when they were not altogether persuaded by everything that he said).
People are still hungry for change. Obama promised change and was elected on that account, but he failed to deliver. As a result, people were willing to entertain the prospect of a TV entertainer as president. They want anything but the status quo. Republicans should be mindful of this lesson, and thankful to Trump for stirring up the pot.
Do you ever buy coffee or other products marketed as "Fair Trade" because you think it's better for the farmers who produce them?
Yeah, me neither.
Look, I have my disagreements with Paul Ryan's Medicare reform proposal, but calling it "right-wing social engineering" is a level of demagogy that not even President Obama has stooped to (yet). The only Medicare policy proposal Gingrich offered (and I'm using the word "proposal" loosely) is to eliminate waste. Behold the idea factory at work. He also came out for new tax cuts. But don't worry about the trillion dollar budget deficits as far as the eye can see. He will bring those budgets under control by (wait for it...) cutting waste. He also referred to himself as a "proposer of very serious, very fundamental policy change."
Several political scientists I have great respect for have been discussing whether they would prefer Gingrich or Palin as Republican nominee and President if it came to a constrained choice between the two. Palin. By a mile.
Kevin "Seamus" Hasson has announced that he is leaving the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, the preeminent religious liberty law firm which he founded and has led since 1994. I interned with the Becket Fund during law school and had the good fortune to work with Seamus (as he demanded to be called, refusing to be called Mr. Hasson in the house that he built). Later this week, Hasson will be awarded an honorary doctorate in humane letters by the Catholic University of America. Both he and the law firm are extraordinary entities.
But the Becket Fund will not be left without able leadership. William Mumma of Mitsubishi Securities will serve as the next president and Mary Ann Glendon of Harvard Law will become chair of the board. Capable hands.
James Taranto calls out the New York Times' editorial board for hypocrisy in opposing the Supreme Court ruling in AT&T Mobility v. Concepcion when compared to its support of the Kelo decision supporting eminent domain.
Taranto aptly cites the Times' "phony populism" in raising the specter of class warfare in their new opposition whereas they were possessed of no such scruples with regard to Kelo. Perhaps the fact that the paper "benefited from eminent domain in clearing the land for the new building it is constructing opposite the Port Authority Bus Terminal" explains the seeming contradiction.
The Times editorialists pose as class warriors against corporations, but in fact are selective and self-serving. Never get into a foxhole with the Old Gray Lady; you will find she is an unfaithful ally.