Posts Tagged ‘National Review’

The Dangerous Self-Delusion of Some Conservatives

Saturday, June 30th, 2012

Et Tu, Brute?

In the wake of the Supreme Court ruling on the Affordable Care Act, I have noticed a curious phenomenon in which some conservative commentators seem to be so desperate to find a silver lining to the ruling that they have abandoned all logic.  Consider George Will, who wrote a column in the aftermath of the ruling that actually puts forward the argument that we conservatives should take the fact that Roberts didn’t rely upon the commerce clause as evidence that there might be some constitutional limitation on the federal government after all.  That would be a wonderful aspect of this ruling, if they had overturned the law!  Instead, what we have is a monstrous precedent set in which the court re-writes a law in order to make it constitutional by imputing into the act a tax that had not existed in fact.  This is an unmitigated disaster.  I have heard a few who have noted hopefully that this ruling will energize the conservative base, and while that’s probably the case, I’m not certain I am so concerned about the political fall-out as I am about the long-run constitutional implications.  You see, the political situation may permit us to repair the law, but it doesn’t permit us to immediately repair the damage done to the body of case law  upon which future courts will rely as precedents in their own rulings.

The other thing I have read is the bizarre notion put forward by the National Review that what Roberts did was more conservative because he exercised judicial restraint in not striking down the law.  Balderdash!  Once you realize the legal contortions through which Roberts arrived at this ruling, it makes no sense whatever to claim he hadn’t acted as an activist.  The convoluted logic by which he found a tax in a law that plainly states it does not contain one is an onerous breech of any notion of strict construction.  I cannot conceive of any intellectually rigorous examination of this ruling by which this can be seen as a positive by anybody who is in favor of strict construction.  When it came to the Anti-Injunction section of the ruling, it was held not to have been a tax, but just a few pages later, as Roberts performed mental gymnastics, he declared it was a tax after all.

On Thursday evening, Mark Levin summarized the matter better than anybody I’ve heard speak to this matter, in part because he understands the legalities in question, his Landmark Legal Foundation having been a participant in this case, but also because he knew Justice Roberts years ago when they both worked in the Reagan administration.  Levin’s critique of the decision mirrors most of my own, and indeed, there was one aspect I hadn’t considered until Levin led me to it.  That premise led me to yet another that I don’t believe Levin has yet realized in full.  What one must understand is that this ruling is an unmitigated disaster, and no search for some alleged silver lining can repair it.

What justice Roberets actually did was to expand the definition of what constitutes a permissible tax .  Congress is permitted to levy only certain forms of tax, and this one doesn’t fit the definition of any of them.  In dispensing with that issue, Roberts held that it didn’t matter, and that words don’t matter, and that plain-written legislative language doesn’t matter.  He also ignored the context of the law, and the intent of Congress.  One version of this bill had an actual tax, but Congress could not pass it in that form, so Congress altered it to contain no tax.  What John Roberts did was to ignore the actual text of the legislation, and to say that the labels didn’t matter:  If it looks like a tax, it is one.  The problem with this is that it does nothing to restrain Congress from levying new taxes, and ignores the definitions of what sort of taxes Congress may enact.  This is a wholesale extension of Congressional taxing authority because what Roberts ruled with respect to the particular form of the tax, insofar as the question of whether Congress had met the constitutional limits on whether it could impose it was effectively: “Close enough.”

That is offered to us as evidence of John Roberts’ alleged strict construction?  Close enough?  What this means, effectively, is that if Congress enacts some tax that it has questionable constitutional authority to levy, smiling John will be there to tell us it’s “close enough,” with every leftist monster on the court standing behind him to uphold it.

Ladies and gentlemen, there exists no silver lining to this ruling.   All of the crackpot, delusional happy-talk from some conservatives in media is designed to make you feel better.  You’ve just lost both arms and legs in a brutal assault, but they tell you, you should consider this a happy opportunity to enjoy the comforts of a new wheelchair and mouth-controlled joystick.  You’ve just lost your family to a violent home-invasion, but, they tell you, you should view this as a chance to start over.  The intention here is to keep you calm.  The intention now is to serve a political end, while your country is dying around you.  Your most sacred law, the US Constitution, has been crumpled and tossed into the ash-bin of history, and you are told you should do a happy-dance to the calming sounds of “Oh Happy Days.”

I’d like you to inventory the whole of the conservatives to whom you listen, or whose columns and opinions you read, and I want you to take care to note which of them are imploring you to consider some silver lining.  They are lying.  They have good intentions, many of them, and they have contorted themselves into a formless spaghetti of reasoning in order to find some good in this awful plate of refuse you’ve been handed.  Don’t surrender your minds by sprinkling Parmesan on it and wolfing it down.  Are there some limited political opportunities as a result of this decision? Yes, but they require the fulfillment of a whole laundry-list of “if-then” statements.

IF Mitt Romney is elected, and IF he doesn’t sell us out, and IF we hold the House, and IF we recapture the Senate(and at least 60 votes) and IF the moderates in either house don’t screw us, and IF Boehner and McConnell have the guts to do in repealing what the villains Reid and Pelosi did in passing the ACA, and IF they can deliver a bill to President Romney’s desk, and IF John Roberts and the other liberals on the court can be replaced, and IF Mitt Romney can replace them with actual strict constructionists, THEN you might have a chance to undo this damage.  IF any of these don’t happen, your constitution is effectively dead as a restraint on government.

The danger of self-imposed delusions is that you come to believe them, like a pathological liar.  It is by this form of self-delusion that we’ve permitted our country to lose its roots in reverence for the Constitution.  We cannot defeat the statists by pretending this isn’t the disaster that it is, if we can defeat them at all.  I believe some talking heads know this, but do not want to yield to what will come in the wake of such a monstrosity.  They’re hanging on, stubbornly telling us that the stench of smoke reaching our nostrils is merely an air freshener of a novel scent.  Rather than screaming “Fire,” and warning conservative Americans that the house is ablaze, the barn is wiped out, the surviving farm animals running loose in a frantic bid to stay ahead of the flames licking at their heels, many are now telling you that it’s all okay.  It will be fine.

No, it won’t.

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National Review Goes After Gingrich Again

Monday, February 13th, 2012

NRO's Editors Dump on Newt

I think it’s pretty clear that there is only so much room in the market for conservative media outlets, and since it’s likewise clear that the National Review has slowly transformed into the Establishment publication of record, I am calling on the editors at the National Review to set aside its claims to conservatism.  Since they’re so interested in cleaning up this race, I think they should step aside as the conservative journal of record.   You may think I’m nuts, but you see, according to the National Review, Newt Gingrich should withdraw from this race for the sake of Rick Santorum.  Newt Gingrich is simply an obstruction, they say.  He doesn’t have the temperament or the popularity to govern or even win the election, they say.  He must go, they say.  To all of this, I say “Nuts!”  Gingrich should respond similarly.  While the Review plays its silly games, pretending to favor Santorum,  I know what it is that they’re really after.

Don’t get me wrong: If Rick Santorum is able to make good on his recent victories, and becomes the eventual Republican nominee, vanquishing Romney, it will be better than Romney winning, but the trouble is that such an outcome isn’t set in stone, and more than this, I believe the call for Gingrich to withdraw is a head-fake.  The National Review doesn’t want Santorum either, but what they would like to do is reduce this contest to just two candidates(other than Ron Paul.)  You see, if this is reduced to a Romney v. Santorum race, Romney and the National Review suspect that with all of the cash at his disposal, Mitt Romney will be able to power through to the nomination.  If Gingrich withdraws, the National Review will likely have been correct, as Romney will grind him down with negative attack ads until the electorate’s eyes bleed.

The problem is that the editors of the National Review are positing a notion intended to give them what they want, but not necessarily what the country needs.  We need a hard fight all the way to the convention, and if it’s a brokered convention in the end, what of it?  That’s our process, and to be blunt, I have more faith in the outcome of that alternative than I do in trusting this process to the judgments of the National Review and the GOP establishment it represents. Make no mistake about it: The National Review is pushing here not for Santorum, but to set Santorum up for elimination. By reducing the number of targets for Romney’s negative campaign, they hope he will finally wrap this up.

Naturally, I disagree with the National Review’s board of editors on this call for Gingrich to withdraw.  Instead, I am calling on National Review to withdraw from the realm of conservative publishing, because if they were actual conservatives, they would be in favor of letting this process work itself out as designed. They would understand that this struggle  is important to the long-run health of the party, and if they really want to issue demands for somebody to  withdraw, perhaps they should focus their calls on the least conservative candidate of them all: Mitt Romney.  No, while the editors claim they think Romney isn’t up to it, they call instead for the withdrawal of a man who  is more conservative by leaps and bounds.  I have no interest in what they have to tell us because at this point, they’ve become the mouthpiece for establishment manipulations in this process.

The National Review has fallen a long way in my estimation, and it seems to have begun as Mr. Buckley’s influence has been on the wane subsequent to his death.  I didn’t always agree with Buckley, but at least I knew he was a sincere conservative.  I no longer get that sense from the National Review, and this call for the withdrawal of Newt Gingrich is just one more bit of evidence that the editors there are interested in short-changing this process.  Conservatives everywhere should recoil at the notion.

Why Romney Can’t Win: It’s Obama-care, Stupid!

Sunday, January 15th, 2012

Romney Will Do His Dirty Work

One of the problems with our current Republicans field is that its putative front-runner effectively nullifies the entire issue of Obama-care as an effective election issue on which to defeat Barack Obama.  This is because Mitt Romney’s own Massachusetts health-care reform law, known widely as “Romney-care,” is essentially the forerunner of President Obama’s own signature legislation, known widely as Obama-care.  I need Republicans to listen closely:  If you want to defeat Obama in November, and have any chance of repealing Obama-care, you need to focus on this as an electoral issue in the primaries.

You can talk about the economy, jobs, and all the rest, but there is no single issue on which you have more clear-cut support, and no other issue that has two-thirds of the American populace behind you.  To nominate Mitt Romney is to mute yourselves on this issue, because Romney-care is essentially the same thing.  You won’t win with this lousy contradiction stalking your every step, and until you confront the fact that your best winning issue is Obama-care, you’re doomed.  If in 1992, as James Carville then said, “It’s the economy, stupid,” then in 2012, the refrain must echo in the rafters, if Republicans are to win: “It’s Obama-care, stupid!”

Of course, as Doug Brady over at C4P writes, there’s reason to believe that some in the GOP establishment are increasingly comfortable with the idea of Obama-care remaining the law.  Once you consider that companies contributing to establishment Republicans are happy with the arrangements provided under Obama-care, you start to realize how the fix might well be in.  Ann Coulter has offered that repeal of Obama-care will never happen if Obama is re-elected, and she’s right, but she offers this as rationale for why you should support Mitt Romney.  The problem with this argument on her part is that it is precisely the Romney-supporting establishment wing of the GOP that really wouldn’t mind if Obama-care went into full effect.  Even if they did oppose Obama-care as thoroughly as do most Americans, Mitt is the wrong person to make this case since he actually implemented a plan on the state of Massachusetts that is every bit as crippling to that state’s economy as Obama-care will be to the entire nation, and similarly dictatorial with its individual health insurance mandate.  How will Romney argue with Obama over this?  The simple answer is that he won’t. He can’t. He’s neutered on the issue, and if you pick him as the party’s nominee, it’s over.

Some of you are hoping the Supreme Court will ditch Obama-care, but as Brady links to an article by Andrew McCarthy, it was McCarthy who pointed out back in November that Obama-care may well pass muster before the Supreme Court.  If that disaster occurs, then there will be only one way to overturn that piece of tyrannical legislation and it will be by full repeal by Congress, signed into law by a president.  If that President is still Obama, you can forget it, and if the program stays in place through its full implementation, you can forget it, because nobody will repeal it seven years after-the-fact, just like there was no stopping the other entitlement programs once they were up and running.  This truly is your last chance, and it will depend upon defeating Obama this coming November with a candidate who is a credible opponent to Obama-care, and who will make that a focus of the campaign. Anything else will leave the GOP picking around the margins of a host of issues, but if any of them happen to break in Obama’s favor, he’ll win the day.

There’s no way around this: If you select Romney as the nominee of the Republican party, not only will you never repeal Obama-care, but you will never win the election in November.  Obama has it in his power to rig job numbers, and the expected vote fraud of his legions of illegal immigrants will undoubtedly help him in the fraud at the polls.  Romney will not be able to make the argument against Obama-care, and by last measure of which I am aware, over 60% of the American people want it repealed.  Nominating Romney is Obama’s great hope, because it enables him to neuter the Republicans across the board.  He may even re-take the House, since a losing Romney would certainly offer no coat-tails.

Ladies and gentlemen, it’s time to shake the trees and rattle the cages: If Mitt Romney is permitted to win the nomination, the country is over.  It’s really as simple as that, and the sooner you grasp how badly Obama wants Romney to be the nominee, the better the chance you will be able to change that outcome, and give Obama something he does not want:  A candidate who will be able to oppose him effectively on his signature legislation, that the vast majority of the American people hate, and want repealed. Just as we shouldn’t permit 20-30% of political thinking in the country dominate our health-care choices, neither should we permit 20-30% of the thinking in the Republican party dominate our electoral choices.  It’s time that we stand up to the threat posed by Romney’s timid, evasive posturing as a conservative, and remind the establishment of the GOP that we are the deciders.  Not them.  No to Obama-care, and no to Romney.  The two go hand-in-hand.

Or hand-in-glove…

As Islamists Take Control Of Egypt, Where Is Bill Kristol?

Monday, December 19th, 2011

Look Who's Not Laughing Now

Earlier this year, William Kristol over at the Weekly Standard couldn’t wait to mock conservatives who were watching the developments in Egypt’s Tahrir Square with trepidation, knowing how this revolution would ultimately end: In a tyrannical Islamic state not unlike Iran.  Kristol drew stunningly wrong-headed conclusions from the erupting “Arab Spring,” and he and his pal Rich Lowry over at the Nation Review enjoyed a good laugh at the expense of concerned conservatives who wondered about the possibilities of a growing Islamic hegemony in the region.  The laughter has ceased, and if Kristol was honest, he’d write an essay explaining all the ways in which he had been wrong, and apologize to all of those who he had earlier mocked.  Of course, don’t expect that from Kristol, because he’s a true DC insider, and he won’t have bothered to note that in Egypt, the Islamists are now coming to power, precisely as more wary and rational conservatives predicted.

What should have been apparent to Mr. Kristol is that there can be no ‘Arab Spring’ under the control of Islam, and it was clear to most rational observers from the outset that an Islamic Republic of some sort would be the result.  Kristol thought otherwise, but like all good establishment writers, he hedged his bets a little when it became apparent things were not going so wonderfully as he had supposed, but that didn’t stop him from making the most absurd statement:

No more. The Arab winter is over. The men and women of the Greater Middle East are no longer satisfied by “a little life.”

This is the sort of delusional hyperbole that characterized much of Kristol’s writing on the subject at the time, and it’s one more instance in which what he wishes to be true leads him to write as though it had been true.   Now that Islamist groups are winning the elections, and will clearly come to dominate the government of Egypt, and as protests again turn violent, one might reasonably ask what Mr. Kristol now says about all of this, having earlier declared the “Arab Spring” in full bloom.  The answer:  He hasn’t offered anything more on a subject that has turned into a rough spot given his early judgments on the matter.

Meanwhile, on the ground in Egypt, the facts are making a strong case in the form of violence that Mr. Kristol’s hopeful wishes for the future have been superseded by the evidence of the “false spring” with which he covered his bases.  This situation remains fluid, but the outcome seems less in doubt as the Islamist factions are clearly sweeping aside any pro-Democracy factions in the elections.  What this will likely mean is that before all is said and done, we’re going to be faced with an increasingly radicalized Arab world, with terrible consequences for Israel, and indeed, the entire region.  This is one of the reasons Kristol’s wishful thinking was irresponsible and dangerous: Too many took to heart a false sense of security about the state of things in the region, and too many came to believe there was nothing about which Americans should worry.  As is now clear, that’s an unmistakable falsehood, and as it stands, we’re likely to see a growing movement in Egypt that will be more openly hostile to Israel, and more apt to discard its treaty commitments.  What Bill Kristol’s shameful mocking of conservative doubters of the “Arab Spring” had accomplished was to cause Americans to avert their eyes from the danger, but we won’t be able to remain willfully blind to it much longer.  The question thus becomes:  When will Kristol finally open his?