Archives for June 2012
A lot of people have asked me about Rand Paul’s endorsement of Mitt Romney. Does it mean I now support Mitt Romney? Does it mean that Rand has abandoned the libertarians? Are the Pauls fighting? Is it part of some two-pronged Paul-Paul strategy to get some respect from the mainstream GOP for Rand’s presidential run in 2016 or 2020?
While I wasn’t exactly thrilled to see Rand endorse Mitt Romney, there are some reasons that this endorsement makes sense. Plus, in four (or eight) years when Rand runs for president, those who criticize him for the endorsement now won’t care about it then. On the other side of that coin, those delighted by the Romney endorsement won’t have the “not a team player” card to play at that time.
It’s also important to remember that endorsements these days mean almost nothing. Like a free toothbrush at the dentist’s office, anybody who really wants an endorsement can get one. If Rand Paul wants to endorse Romney as a candidate, that’s fine with me. Plus, Paul is an elected Republican with real presidential possibility. In what universe would endorsing someone other than the GOP nominee make any sense for him?
Rand’s endorsement of Romney the candidate means nothing to me. But if Rand endorses Romney’s philosophy, we’ve got issues. Playing nice within the Party is one thing; jumping on the big government bandwagon is something else entirely.
You can imagine my delight when I saw this article from Rand Paul. He is very direct in his criticism of the Obama administration, especially since Obama campaigned on a platform of ending wars and since his election, he has done the exact opposite. Obama deserves this criticism.
For nearly four years now I’ve heard, ad nauseum, some variation of the phrase “You should respect the office, if not the man,” when referring to criticism of President Barack Obama. While I agree with that sentiment in principle, I am weary of being told that any and all criticisms of the High Exalted Obamessiah can have no other motivation than the fact that he is a Melanin-Enriched American. Oppose the stimulus bill? Racist. Oppose government forcing you to buy health insurance? Racist. Oppose $5 trillion in new debt? Racist. Critical of an inept foreign policy? Racist. Oppose billions in tax dollars going to “green” energy companies who just happen to be big donors to Democrats? Racist. The list is endless. For those willing to look past the rhetoric to the truth, we now have ample proof that our president is nothing more than a typical Chicago political thug whose own agenda supersedes any allegiance to the rule of law. The man we are told we must respect because of the office he holds has shown nothing but contempt for the responsibilities of that office, the law he is charged with enforcing and the people he was elected to serve.
This charlatan’s enormous ego and his get-my-way-at-all-costs philosophy should be no surprise for those paying attention. We saw glimpses of it when Obama was campaigning, telling us he’d bankrupt coal companies through harsh regulations that would make it too expensive to operate. At his Democrat-nomination acceptance speech to a packed stadium in Denver, this Prince of Pompousness vainly declared that his nomination would mark “the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and the Earth began to heal.” Good heavens, that fool actually believed his own hype! So did his minions, as we discovered when Valerie Jarrett, Obama’s current chief adviser, said in an interview prior to the inauguration that Obama would be “ready to take power and RULE day one.” Rule, not govern! Such arrogance!
Over at BuzzFeed, Andrew Kaczynski has unearthed video of a 2008 health care forum where then-presidential candidate Joe Biden came out against the idea of an individual mandate. His opposition, however, was pragmatic, rather than principle. Here’s what Biden said:
One word Americans don’t like — ‘mandate.’ They don’t like the word ‘mandate.’ I dont’ want to make this hard. I want to make this simple, and not susceptible to what some of the insurance companies and the right-wing will argue this is; a mandated socialistic system. I don’t want Harry and Louise eating me alive.
Here’s the video:
The reference to “Harry and Louise” points to the ad ran in 1994 that opposed the health care plan being pieced together by the Clinton Administration. The ad helped solidify opposition to the plan and eventually led to its demise.
The SCOTUS is set to rule this week on Obamacare, and that ruling will likely hinge on the individual mandate.
Conservatives, libertarians, constitutionalists, and just about everyone anywhere close to the right wing, oppose the individual mandate. Their criticisms center on this belief: government should not be able to force anyone to purchase a good or service. Fair enough.
Accepting that belief, however, raises some questions for an honest intellect. What about Social Security?
Social Security, created by Congress in 1935, is essentially a compulsory retirement program. The money is automatically withdrawn from your paycheck. There isn’t an opt-in, and there isn’t an opt-out. There is no choice—it’s a mandate.
There are, however, a couple of differences between the ObamaCare mandate and that found in the Social Security program.
First, the government taxes people to pay for the program rather than mandating it and allowing them to shop around in the market place. Apart from the distortion of forcing people into the marketplace, Obamacare allows people to use the market to choose their insurance. You can choose plans that better fit your needs. Social Security doesn’t allow that luxury.
Second, Obamacare’s mandate doesn’t proscribe a specific amount that consumers must spend. Social Security isn’t so lax. It requires 4.2% of employees’ income, a matching 6.2% from employers, and, from the self-employed, 10.4%. You can’t compare rates between firms, and you can’t shop for a better price.
In other words, Social Security not only mandates that you buy a product—retirement savings—but it also mandates from whom and for how much you have to purchase the service.
Can any intelligent and consistent person oppose Obamacare’s individual mandate and simultaneously support compulsory participation in Social Security? It’s a hypocritical attitude, and it should be abandoned.
With a contempt vote against Attorney General Eric Holder looming in the House of Representatives thanks to his failure to turn over documents related to the “Fast and Furious scandal, a new poll from The Hill shows that Americans believe President Barack Obama overreached last week by invoking “executive privilege”:
A clear majority of likely voters believes President Obama has exercised his executive power inappropriately — particularly in blocking the release of documents relating to “Operation Fast and Furious,” according to a new poll for The Hill.
Obama last week invoked executive privilege to stop certain Justice Department documents relating to the botched “gun-walking” operation from being disclosed to the House Oversight and Government Reform committee.
The same panel, chaired by Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), voted along party lines to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress.
The Hill Poll found that likely voters disapproved by an almost 2-to-1 margin of Obama’s assertion of presidential power in the case. Overall, 56 percent of voters disapproved of his action, while only 29 percent approved.
Sixty-one percent of independents said they disapproved of the president’s actions, and just 25 percent approved. Among Republicans, opposition to the president’s use of executive privilege was more entrenched at 78 percent.
Even 28 percent of Democrats, and 30 percent of self-identified liberals disapproved of Obama’s position.
Emboldened by the response to my piece last week, I put on my political theorist hat this weekend and penned another editorial that has now been published in The Daily Caller. Here’s an excerpt:
“Don’t we all have a right to know,” asks Obama campaign manager Jim Messina in a recent fundraising email, “exactly which corporations and individuals are spending millions in attack ads to influence elections – and what their agendas are?” While we should expect this type of rhetoric from bullies who think that the government should force workers to give up their right to a secret ballot in unionization proceedings, making it easier for Democratic supporters to rake new campaign funds from their peers’ paychecks, this is one of those times when “No” is a complete, forceful, and declarative sentence.
But in fairness to Messina, to whom I wish a swift and humiliating trip to the unemployment line this November, we should (for a moment) take his claim at face value. We should ask, “Upon what moral principle” – we’re talking about rights, after all – “is this ‘right to know’ predicated?”
As you know, the Supreme Court did not rule yesterday on the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Many observers speculated that they would not rule on the Arizona immigration case and ObamaCare on the same day. Everyone is now looking to Thursday, which is the last day the Supreme Court will deliver opinions for the current term.
The thinking right now is that Chief Justice John Roberts will write the majority opinion, which leads opponents of ObamaCare to believe that, at the very least, the individual mandate will be struck down. Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT), who clerked for Justice Samuel Alito, is among those that express this thinking, as noted by Philip Klein:
Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, a former clerk to Justice Sam Alito, said that if Chief John Roberts writes the majority opinion in the health care case, as some have speculated, it would make it “substantially more likely” that the Supreme Court would strike down the individual mandate.
Following the release of today’s decisions, SCOTUSblog’s Tom Goldstein suggested that the decision on the constitutionality of President Obama’s health care law would “almost certainly” be written by Roberts, based on the authorship of recent opinions.
“It certainly would not surprise me,” Lee told the Washington Examiner, standing outside the Court after this morning’s opinions where handed down. “It would not be unusual for a Chief Justice to assign to himself a decision of monumental importance. This certainly fits into that category.”
On Thursday, Jaime Daremblum, who is a former Costa Rican ambassador to the US and now a fellow at the Hudson Institute, wrote a piece called The Cuba Fallacy. In it he tries to argue against lifting the nearly 50 year old US embargo against Cuba.
Stop me if you’ve heard this before: “The U.S. embargo against Cuba is the single biggest reason that Washington and Havana do not enjoy better relations. If we want the island nation to become a democracy, we should drop sanctions and pursue a policy of aggressive engagement.”
It is a simple and seductive argument, which explains why so many people have embraced it. Unfortunately, it is based on a fallacious reading of history and a naïve understanding of the Cuban dictatorship.
Over the past four decades, every American president who has pursued a serious rapprochement with Havana — Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, and Barack Obama — has been left shaking his head in frustration. Whenever the United States has extended an olive branch, the Castro regime has responded with an act of foreign aggression (such as lending military support to Communist forces in Africa or killing four Cuban-American pilots) or domestic repression (such as jailing a U.S. citizen on bogus espionage charges) so provocative that it effectively ruined any chance of détente.
Daremblum also goes on to detail some of the human rights abuses committed by the Castro regime.
Mitt Romney is bringing a lot to the table from a foreign policy prospective with which to be concerned. The GOP nominee recently said that he didn’t need congressional approval to go war with Iran, taking the executive power acquired under President Barack Obama, who bombed Syria without congressional approval, to the next step.
Just as concerning is that Romney is rumored to be considering John Bolton, who served as UN Ambassador in the Bush Administration, for Secretary of State:
Former Reagan administration Navy Secretary John Lehman, a current Romney adviser, is said to be a favorite for defense secretary. Also being mentioned for the top Pentagon post is former Sen. Jim Talent, Missouri Republican and also a current Romney adviser. Mr. Talent headed a blue-ribbon commission on preventing the spread of weapons of mass destruction.
John R. Bolton, the U.N. ambassador during the George W. Bush administration and specialist on arms control and security issues, is said to be a leading candidate for secretary of state.
Paula Dobriansky, another former Reagan administration official, is said to be eyed for a senior State Department post as well.
Bolton is very popular among conservatives, but as Daniel Larison, who, like me, finds the this prospect to be very concerning, notes that there is a good chance that he won’t be confirmed by the Senate to the post:
Former McCain advisor and George W. Bush Communications Director Nicole Wallace speaks to Rachael Maddow and tries not to admit that it matters. But clearly it does. For instance, in Virginia, Paul supporters have thrown out the Primary (saving taxpayers a ton of money) in favor of choosing their nominees at the state convention instead.