All posts by mrossol

Married, 1st generation American, Christian, conservative, GCC parent, Agribusiness manager, long-time Mac-owner, in Ohio.

Assailing the Supreme Court –

Its not about “American values…”, but about “Liberals’ values (as in “Left”)
After last week’s Supreme Court argument on ObamaCare, the political left seems to be suffering a nervous breakdown. Only a week ago, the liberal consensus was that the federal mandate to buy insurance couldn’t possibly be overturned. Now as panic sets in, the left has taken to mau-mauing the Justices by saying that if they overturn the mandate they’ll be acting like political partisans. The High Court’s very “legitimacy” will be in question, as one editorial put it—a view repeated across the liberal commentariat.

This criticism is itself political lobbying, as is clear from the fact that it mostly spares Anthony Kennedy, the likeliest swing vote. Liberals still hope Justice Kennedy will uphold all of the law, even as they audition the mauling he’ll get if he joins Antonin Scalia, Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas in the ninth level of judicial hell. Chief Justice John Roberts is also being lectured that the case will “define” his career, though in six years he has already established a record as a careful consensus builder on the Court.

Overturn any part of the law, the Justices are being told, and your reputations will be trashed. The invitations from Harvard and other precincts of the liberal establishment will dry up. And, by the way, you’ll show you hate sick people—as if the Court’s job is to determine health-care policy.

This is the left’s echo of Newt Gingrich’s threat earlier in the primary season to haul judges before Congress when it dislikes their rulings. Remember the political outrage over that one?

No doubt the Justices will ignore this transparent attempt at political intimidation, but someone should defend them against the claim that overturning the law would be “judicial activism.” It’s more accurate to say that failing to overturn the mandate would be dodging their duty to uphold core constitutional principles.

Judicial activism is not something that happens every time the Supreme Court overturns a statute. The Justices owe deference to Congress and the executive, but only to the extent that the political branches stay within the boundaries of the Constitution. Improper activism is when the Court itself strays beyond the founding document to find new rights or enhance its own authority without proper constitutional grounding.

The classic example, acknowledged by good liberals like Alexander Bickel and Archibald Cox at the time, is Roe v. Wade in 1973. The High Court discovered a right to abortion rooted in a right to privacy that it had invented in Griswold in 1965 from the Constitution’s “penumbras” and “emanations.” Roe overturned 50 state laws and pre-empted a healthy debate that would have reached a different abortion consensus in different states. Our cultural politics has been polarized ever since.

The ObamaCare case is very different, as the oral arguments made clear. The Court is debating the reach of the Commerce Clause and of its own precedents in considering the limited and enumerated federal powers that are explicit in Article I, Section 8.

The Court has often overturned laws that exceeded those powers, including laws that it said exceeded the authority of the Commerce Clause (Lopez in 1995, for example, and Morrison in 2000). Hundreds of other precedents have extolled the value of the constitution’s “dual sovereignty” system—the division of state and federal power. As recently as the U.S. v. Bond case last year, Justice Kennedy wrote that “federalism protects the liberty of the individual from arbitrary power.”

Far from seeking an activist ruling, the ObamaCare plaintiffs aren’t asking the Court to overturn even a single Commerce Clause precedent.

In that sense the Court can overturn the mandate and still be far more modest than it was in the gay rights case of Lawrence v. Texas (2003) that overturned Bowers v. Hardwick (1986). And more modest than it was in barring the juvenile death penalty in Roper v. Simmons (2005), which overturned Stanford v. Kentucky (1989). The legal left celebrated both of those reversals of relatively recent Supreme Court precedents.

At stake in ObamaCare is whether the High Court will ignore 225 years of constitutional understanding to ratify the federal government’s claim that it can force individual Americans to buy an insurance product—to engage in commerce—so it can then regulate all of the health-care market. The activism charge is a political canard intended to obscure these grave issues and intimidate the Court, and the Justices and the public would do well not to take it seriously.

Review & Outlook: Assailing the Supreme Court –


Why Is Obama More Candid with Putin than Us?

Obama trusts Putin more than Americans…
When President Obama blurted out to Russian President Dmitry Medvedev that he couldn’t do serious business during an election year, the New York Times characterized it as a “moment of political candor.” It seems to me, actually, to be a moment of political contempt—for the issues at hand as well as for the demos itself. Mr. Medvedev meanwhile was in familiar territory: Dissembling is the routine of the elected Russian dictatorship.

We are the big boys, Mr. Obama seemed to be telling Mr. Medvedev— or rather Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and I are, and you, Medvedev, are the messenger, to whom, as the newspaper photograph shows, I confide. “I will deliver this information to Vladimir,” responded the second man in the Kremlin. Another news picture shows an image from the back, the two presidents walking together, the American chief executive with his big right hand firmly on his Russian junior partner’s much slighter shoulder.

And what was the message to Vladimir? Mr. Obama was proffering the Russians “more flexibility” on missile defense, which he couldn’t do, he said, in an election year.

But really the message, the important one, concerns us, here in America. It is that the American people can’t be trusted if the president is honest with them about what he proposes. More bluntly, that the American people are not trusted by their own president. Otherwise the president would tell us the truth about his intentions. And here he is, admitting his distrust of his own people to a leader of a nasty foreign government that seeks to thwart our purposes in the Middle East and elsewhere. President Obama is in cahoots with the Russian regime against America’s very body politic.

Mr. Obama’s revealing comment, and the question of missile defense, and the question of Mr. Obama’s bizarre desire for coziness with Vladimir Putin, is a matter about which our European allies have great concerns.

Additional “give” to Moscow on the nuclear issue was not something he admitted to the relevant senators that he was contemplating when they were weighing and approving the New Start Treaty a bare year ago. Yet it is a matter of deep interest to the Kremlin which, without any moral credit and without much material credit either, seems to be charting the cartography of another Cold War. (Remember, it pursued the last one from an impoverished base.) Mr. Obama’s pliancy on the matter will encourage them to think that we are, in this matter, a patsy.

And not only in this matter, alas: Mr. Obama is presiding over what might be called a withdrawalist moment in American foreign policy. Throughout his presidency, Mr. Obama has seemed strangely unmoved by the claims and values of American nationalism as they were expressed in most of the last century—for the rights of other peoples to establish nation-states after World War I, to free Europe and Asia from the bloody rule of monstrous fascist tyrannies in World War II, to defeat the egalitarian phantasm of communism as a civilized way of life. You might say that he dislikes the 20th century and refuses to accord the lessons of its bitter experiences any pride of place in his view of the world.

I don’t mean to say that the president is altogether against the use of force. In his counterterrorism policy he has been relentless. But his stewardship of the wars he inherited reveals a leader unsure of his beliefs, or else ruled by an almost cynical devotion to his own political survival.

In Afghanistan, Mr. Obama “surged”—it was, after all, the good war, support for which gave him political cover for his opposition to the war in Iraq, which was the bad war. But no sooner did the president escalate the war in Afghanistan than he was setting dates and orders for the troops’ withdrawal. And withdraw they will.

But if Mr. Obama wanted to wind down the war, why did he wind it up? Why did the dove dissemble as a hawk? After all, the notion that U.S. troops and the small number of NATO comrades have achieved anything lasting in battle is frivolous, and it is an insult added to pain for the administration to say anything else in order to comfort kin.

The president’s Afghan policy was divided against itself, and it puts one bitterly in mind of John’s Kerry’s warning about being “the last man to die for a mistake,” the words on which he impaled his own war, the war in Vietnam. And meanwhile in Iraq, the bad war, there are many reasons for (if you will pardon the expression) hope: Hard as it is for Democrats to admit, President Bush’s war in Iraq won a modicum of victories for democracy and pluralism in the Muslim world. And from that improving situation President Obama hastily fled.

The president is running for a second term. The Republican Party is having a different conversation. This leaves Mr. Obama free to abscond with the election without facing the issue of the real role of America in the world.

What exactly are his intentions, for example, about the threat of a nuclear Iran? It is, once again, hard to say. He told the American Israel Public Affairs Committee that he is against containment, which is what he knew Aipac wanted to hear. But his false faith in the efficacy of sanctions and diplomacy will land him right in the lap of containment—unless he chooses force. Will he support Israel’s use of force? Will he use American force?

Where is an open mic when we need one? It is ironic that this president, who is committed to the programmatic pacification of Russian anxiety about defensive nuclear policy, has wasted more than three years in trying to talk with the regime of the ayatollahs about its craving for an offensive atomic capability.

More likely than not, Saudi Arabia and Turkey are already embarked on a scientific campaign to match Tehran’s not-all-that-hidden military accomplishments and ambitions. When these come close to maturing, President Obama’s cares about Russian missile anxieties will mean less than nothing.

Mr. Peretz was editor in chief of the New Republic from 1974 until 2011.

Martin Peretz: Wheres an Open Mic When We Really Need It? –


Ryan and the Right

Too logical for most on both the right and left to consider…
It’s no surprise that the White House has denounced Paul Ryan’s new House budget as the end of welfare-state civilization. The puzzle is why some conservatives are taking shots at the best chance in decades for serious government reform.

A pair of freshman Republicans, Tim Huelskamp of Kansas and Justin Amash of Michigan, joined every Democrat in voting against the budget in committee last week, claiming it didn’t balance the budget fast enough. The budget passed 19-18, but if the rebellion spreads it will play into the hands of Nancy Pelosi, who wants to show that Republicans can’t govern.

Then there’s Chris Chocola, the former Member of Congress who now runs the Club for Growth political donors’ group, who groused that “on balance” Mr. Ryan’s budget is “a disappointment for fiscal conservatives.” Mr. Chocola says the proposal doesn’t get to balance fast enough and waives the automatic defense cuts from last year’s debt-limit deal with President Obama.

The GOP critics are wrong on the economics and politics. Mr. Ryan’s plan may not balance the budget within 10 years, but that’s the wrong policy guidepost. Mr. Obama can easily balance the budget faster—by raising taxes.

Mr. Ryan wants to avoid a tax increase and reform the tax code because he realizes that the budget will never balance over the long term without economic growth faster than today’s 2% a year. By stressing budget balance over growth, Mr. Chocola and the tea-party critics are falling into Mr. Obama’s deficit and tax trap.
They are also playing by the Beltway’s big-government budget rules. The critics on the right are judging Mr. Ryan’s budget according to Congressional Budget Office estimates that assume little or no economic benefit from better policy. Mr. Ryan’s official budget proposal follows CBO scoring, but he is also trying to break out of that straitjacket.

He has also issued a second budget estimate based on evidence from the 1960s, 1980s and 2000s that tax reform and spending restraint will increase GDP by about 0.5 to one percentage point a year. This means the Ryan budget reduces the debt to GDP ratio to 50% in 10 years from 74.2% this year (and heading higher) and thus steers the U.S. away from the Greek fiscal rocks. Since when has the Club for Growth favored static Beltway revenue analysis?

Mr. Ryan is also proposing to cut spending to 19.8% of the economy in 2021 from 24.1% in 2011. That is hardly spendthrift. It will also be hard to pass given the resistance to change in Washington.

But what really matters on spending over the long term is entitlement reform, and on that score Mr. Ryan goes further than any Republican Congress or President since 1995. He understands that without converting Medicare into a market-based program with more choices for seniors, and without devolving Medicaid to the states and repealing ObamaCare, tax increases will soon become the political default option.

The entitlement state wasn’t built in a year, and it can only be fixed with reforms that save money over time. Conservatives who really want to limit government should focus on major reform, not on hitting some unlikely balanced budget target in some future year.

As for automatic defense cuts—the so-called sequester—everyone knows those are too draconian to be sustained. That’s why Mr. Obama insisted on them. He wants to use them as leverage to get Republicans to raise taxes. Defense is already scheduled to be cut by some $450 billion under the current 10-year budget caps. The sequester would cut an additional 10% from the national security budget in 2013 and roughly another 10% in 2014.

Mr. Ryan’s budget would cancel the additional defense cuts of $55 billion a year under the sequester and replace them with savings in the entitlements that are the real drivers of long-term debt. His Medicare and Medicaid reforms would generate future savings many times greater than would be gained from gutting the defense budget. The tea partiers who want to hack away at defense as much as they do at earmarks are going to fracture the GOP coalition in Congress that still contains more than a few defense hawks.

Voters have every reason to be skeptical of Republican promises, but Mr. Ryan’s budget is hardly a status quo document. It’s light years better than the Tom DeLay budgets of the 2000s.

Mr. Ryan is thinking ahead of his critics by focusing on the two most important priorities: growth and reform. Without both, limited government will be nothing more than a tea party slogan and a balanced budget will be nothing more than a tax-increase trap.

A version of this article appeared Mar. 27, 2012, on page A12 in some U.S. editions of The Wall Street Journal, with the headline: Ryan and the Right.

Review & Outlook: Ryan and the Right –


The Trayvon Martin Tragedies

How long can you hold your breath?

The shooting death of Trayvon Martin in Florida has sparked national outrage, with civil rights leaders from San Francisco to Baltimore leading protests calling for a new investigation and the arrest of the shooter.

But what about all the other young black murder victims? Nationally, nearly half of all murder victims are black. And the overwhelming majority of those black people are killed by other black people. Where is the march for them?

Where is the march against the drug dealers who prey on young black people? Where is the march against bad schools, with their 50% dropout rate for black teenaged boys? Those failed schools are certainly guilty of creating the shameful 40% unemployment rate for black teens.

How about marching against the cable television shows constantly offering minstrel-show images of black youth as rappers and comedians who don’t value education, dismiss the importance of marriage, and celebrate killing people, drug money and jailhouse fashion—the pants falling down because the jail guard has taken away the belt, the shoes untied because the warden removed the shoe laces, and accessories such as the drug dealer’s pit bull.

Supposedly all of this is just entertainment and intended to co-opt the stereotypes. But it only ends up perpetuating stereotypes in white minds and, worse, having young black people internalize it as an authentic image of a proud black person.

There is no fashion, no thug attitude that should be an invitation to murder. But these are the real murderous forces surrounding the Martin death—and yet they never stir protests.

The race-baiters argue this case deserves special attention because it fits the mold of white-on-black violence that fills the history books. Some have drawn a comparison to the murder of Emmett Till, a black boy who was killed in 1955 by white racists for whistling at a white woman.

The Martin case is very different from the Emmett Till case, in which a white segregationist Mississippi society approved of the murder of a black child. Black America needs to get out of the rut of replaying racial injustices of the past.

All minority parents fear that children who embrace “gangsta” fashion, tattoos and a thug attitude will be prejudged as criminal.

Recall what Jesse Jackson once said: “There is nothing more painful to me at this stage in my life than to walk down the street and hear footsteps and start thinking about robbery. Then look around and see somebody white and feel relieved. . . . After all we have been through. Just to think we can’t walk down our own streets, how humiliating.”

That is the unfair weight of being black in America for both the black person who feels the fear and the black teen who is judged as a criminal.

Despite stereotypes, the responsibility for the Florida shooting lies with the individual who pulled the trigger. The fact that the man pursued the teen after a 911 operator told him to back off, and the fact that he alone had a gun, calls for him to be arrested and held accountable under law. The Department of Justice is investigating the incident and the governor of Florida has appointed a special prosecutor to review the case.

But on a larger scale, all of this should open a serious national conversation about how our culture made it easier for this type of crime to take place.

As President Obama said last week, “I think all of us have to do some soul searching to figure out how does something like this happen. And that means we examine the laws and the context for what happened, as well as the specifics of the incident.”

While civil rights leaders have raised their voices to speak out against this one tragedy, few if any will do the same about the larger tragedy of daily carnage that is black-on-black crime in America.

The most recent comprehensive study on black-on-black crime from the Justice Department should have been a clarion call for the black community to take action. There is no reason to believe that the trends it reported have decreased since 2005, the year for which the data were reported.

Almost one half of the nation’s murder victims that year were black and a majority of them were between the ages of 17 and 29. Black people accounted for 13% of the total U.S. population in 2005. Yet they were the victims of 49% of all the nation’s murders. And 93% of black murder victims were killed by other black people, ( HELLO!!)   according to the same report.

Less than half of black students graduate from high school. The education system’s failure is often a jail sentence or even a death sentence. The Orlando Sentinel has reported that 17-year-old Martin was recently suspended from his high school. According to the U.S. Department of Education’s Civil Rights Office, in the 2006-07 school year, 22% of all black and Hispanic K-12 students were suspended at least once (as compared to 5% of whites).

This year 22% of blacks live below the poverty line and a shocking 72% of black babies are born to unwed mothers. The national unemployment rate for black people increased last month to over 13%, nearly five points above the average for all Americans.

The killing of any child is a tragedy. But where are the protests regarding the larger problems facing black America?

Mr. Williams is a political analyst for Fox News and a columnist for the Hill.

Juan Williams: The Trayvon Martin Tragedies –