Tuesday, September 27, 2011

So Crazy It Just Might Work...

President Obama's health care reform law is going before the Supreme Court soon, and there are already fireworks on both sides of the debate. There are a number of questions swirling about how the High Court will rule, who will be allowed to have a say in the verdict, and why Obama would push for it now, among others.

One question that seems to have a simple answer is how the Obama Administration hopes the USSC will rule on the law's constitutionality. The easy answer is they hope the health care reform law will be upheld. However, I'm not too sure that would be the best possible outcome as far as the Administration is concerned. After all, a victory in the High Court will give Republicans an issue they can use in the 2012 election, and with polling data mixed on whether the law is good for America, it's one that could sway voters to vote for the Republicans.

A loss in front of the USSC would be a public relations nightmare. After months of debate, harsh rhetoric, and growing public discontent, the Administration cannot afford to have their crowning achievement (and, arguably, their only achievement) taken from them. This would certainly give them ammunition and another target to attack, but it wouldn't sway more conservative voters, who aren't thrilled with the President at the moment.

So, what does that leave? A tie.

As odd as it sounds, I feel the Obama Administration is hoping the health care reform bill gets deadlocked at the Supreme Court, and there's a good chance it could happen.

As much as the Left loves to point out there's a 5-4 conservative edge to the High Court, that isn't quite the way it is. There are four known conservative Justices (Roberts, Scalia, Thomas, and Alito), and four known liberal Justices (Bader Ginsburg, Sotomayor, Breyer, and Kagan). That leaves Justice Anthony Kennedy as the swing vote. That would normally swing the vote in one direction or other, but not this time because of Justice Kagan's work as Solicitor General while the health care reform bill was being devised. That would be a conflict of interest, one that can't be overlooked or dismissed as insignificant.

In order to prevent a PR backlash, the Obama Administration might urge Kagan to recuse herself, leaving only 8 Justices to vote on the constitutionality of the health care reform law. Since the Left couldn't get Clarence Thomas to recuse himself because of his wife's lobbying against Obama's reform law, they can't let Kagan slide for something more directly in conflict with the spirit of the law.

Kennedy is known for being more of a centrist, which means his vote could easily swing towards the left, thus creating a 4-4 deadlock. This leads to the question of how a tie helps Obama more than a victory. Let me count the ways.

1) It doesn't go down as a loss. With Obama's poll numbers slipping, a defeat would lead to at least a short term loss of popularity, and at a crucial time in his reelection campaign. Yet, if he gets the win, Republicans have a ready-made platform that will garner a lot of support from the center. A tie keeps Obama without a costly defeat while not giving Republicans the health care reform law as an issue. It's a win-win.

2) He can use it as a reelection theme. With a 4-4 tie, Obama can go back to his base and tell them, "I tried to get health care reformed, but the Supreme Court stopped me. I need another 4 years to get another reform-minded Justice on the Supreme Court." And his base (as well as those who were counting on the reform law being upheld) will eat it up.

3) It gives Obama another "target" for campaign rhetoric. It's clear Obama has no love lost for the Supreme Court. A 4-4 tie would allow Obama to attack the Supreme Court, something he has done in the past and would have no problem doing again. This, in turn, would fire up his Leftist base, as they see the USSC the same way he does. Plus, it would help diffuse notions Obama isn't as passionate as he was in 2008.

4) It creates a Constitutional question that could take years to untangle. What happens when there's a deadlock on the Supreme Court? Neither side has the advantage, and neither side loses. That alone would keep the health care reform bill on the books and legally enforceable while the matter gets resolved. Inevitably, the resolution wouldn't be something that could be decided over coffee. It has the potential to go on for years, years where the law would officially take effect (and continue to be funded in the meantime).

There are likely more reasons, but you get the idea. This may be a time when Obama plays to tie, not to win.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Day of Rage? Not So Much

This past weekend was the “Day of Rage” where Leftists stormed Wall Street (when the very people they were protesting weren't there) and talked about “economic justice.” Of course, when pressed on it, these same seemingly intelligent people couldn't describe what economic justice is.

That's because economic justice is a slogan, not an actual plan. From what I understand of it, it's where everybody would be at the same economic level. The rich would become poorer, the poor would become richer, and the middle class would become...well, more middle class.

Guess which group made up the majority of the fans of economic justice during the “Day of Rage.”

You may have noticed this, but people have different abilities and skills. Naturally, that will make them better suited for certain tasks, which can put them in great demand. By the same token, they may have shortcomings where their skills wouldn't be desirable. You may want to pay an NBA superstar millions to dunk a basketball, but you wouldn't pay him to perform brain surgery. (Not to mention, the NBA star-come-brain surgeon might try to slam dunk a patient's brain back into the skull, which opens up a LOT of malpractice suits.)

What I'm saying in short is people are different and, thus, their ability to make money will also be different. When there are differences, equality can only come from two sources: by agreement, or by force. The former requires all parties to agree to an outcome. The latter requires at least one party to agree to an outcome and the subjugation of those who disagree. Right now, those who push for economic justice are trying to persuade. When that fails, and we know it will, it will require force to create a system of equality.

Of course, that's already been tried. Remember the former Soviet Union? Yeah, that didn't work out too well.

The Soviet Union learned the hard way the problems with forcing economic justice. The people involved with the “Day of Rage” on Wall Street haven't.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Opening a Dangerous Door

This week, Palestine will be seeking official recognition from the United Nations as a state. On both sides of the debate, passions run hot. On the Left, we have people screaming about how Israel has oppressed the Palestinians, stolen their land, and committed all sorts of war crimes against them. On the Right, we have people screaming about Israel being attacked repeatedly by Palestinian terrorists with no regard for peace whatsoever.

Let me say for the sake of absolute clarity that I stand with Israel. For some, that will disqualify and discredit everything else I will say in this blog piece. For others, I will be speaking the gospel truth. Regardless of which side of the debate you're on, I ask for your indulgence as I express my thoughts on Palestinian statehood.

On the surface, it sounds like a good idea. Give the Palestinians (who have had as rough a go of it in some cases as Israel has as far as acceptance by other countries) a place to call their own, and let them stand or fall on their merits. Not as bad as it sounds, is it? For any Palestinian who wants statehood for the sake of finally having a country to call home, I say we roll out the welcome mat and allow them to join the UN as a state.

Where things get messy is when you consider other Palestinians who have ulterior motives. Let's not forget Palestinian terrorists have been launching missiles into Israel and then hiding behind women and children as human shields. These are not the types of people we would want as neighbors, right? Yet, these are a sizable portion of Israel's neighbors right now. Giving this group of Palestinians statehood is legitimizing their activities while giving them a base of operations by which to attack Israel and its allies.

So, which Palestine is pushing for statehood from the UN? We don't know. What we do know is the UN's long history of being anti-Israel, as well as the number of UN countries who would relish yet another ally in their rhetorical (and, in some cases, actual) battle against Israel. The United States has typically had Israel's back, but in recent years it's becoming more evident we're moving in a new direction, one that would leave Israel all but friendless in the world.

Because there is so much uncertainty on the part of the Palestinians, I cannot in good conscience say Palestinian statehood is a step in the right direction. It may be someday, but only once the Palestinians who want statehood for the sake of identity and not terrorism stand up and take control of their situation. As it stands, I just don't see it yet, and time is running short.

Given the Obama Administration's worldview, I feel their support of a Palestinian state being created is all but certain. They may not be able to say it in full yet, but their actions betray their true feelings on the matter. I wish I could say the Administration has given careful consideration to the implications of what I believe they are about to do, but I can't. Their support of the "Arab Spring" where more radical elements of Islam have overrun radical, yet manageable, leaders leaves me with little hope, but a full knowledge change is inevitable.

If Palestinian statehood is recognized, it's a door that can't be closed without a lot of effort and courage. With so many questions as to the heart of those pushing for statehood, I'm not sure we should be in a rush to open the door just yet.

Yet, America's hand is on the doorknob and just about ready to turn.