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Posts For: July 2, 2012

Romney Trip Puts Obama on Defensive

The New York Times reports that Mitt Romney will visit Israel to meet with Prime Minister Netanyahu this summer, marking his fourth trip to the country:

Mitt Romney, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, will visit Israel this summer to meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other leaders, a senior aide to the prime minister confirmed on Monday evening.

Mr. Romney, who has pledged to “do the opposite” of the Obama administration on matters pertaining to Israel, is also expected to meet with Salam Fayyad, the prime minister of the Palestinian Authority; President Shimon Peres of Israel; the American ambassador, Daniel B. Shapiro; and leaders of the opposition Labor Party in Jerusalem. He plans to have at least one public event in a trip that will likely last less than two days.

“He’s a strong friend of Israel and we’ll be happy to meet with him,” said Ron Dermer, Mr. Netanyahu’s senior adviser, who worked with Republicans in the United States before immigrating here. “We value strong bipartisan support for Israel and we’re sure it will only deepen that.”

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The New York Times reports that Mitt Romney will visit Israel to meet with Prime Minister Netanyahu this summer, marking his fourth trip to the country:

Mitt Romney, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, will visit Israel this summer to meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other leaders, a senior aide to the prime minister confirmed on Monday evening.

Mr. Romney, who has pledged to “do the opposite” of the Obama administration on matters pertaining to Israel, is also expected to meet with Salam Fayyad, the prime minister of the Palestinian Authority; President Shimon Peres of Israel; the American ambassador, Daniel B. Shapiro; and leaders of the opposition Labor Party in Jerusalem. He plans to have at least one public event in a trip that will likely last less than two days.

“He’s a strong friend of Israel and we’ll be happy to meet with him,” said Ron Dermer, Mr. Netanyahu’s senior adviser, who worked with Republicans in the United States before immigrating here. “We value strong bipartisan support for Israel and we’re sure it will only deepen that.”

Prominent Democratic donors have criticized President Obama for avoiding Israel during his first term, despite his trips to other countries in the region. Even Vladimir Putin traveled to the Jewish state this summer, which made Obama’s failure to visit even more obvious.

Members of Romney’s own campaign have been quietly grumbling that the candidate spends very little time focused on foreign policy. The Israel trip will give Romney a chance to broach some of these issues, while also putting the Obama campaign on defense. If there’s one subject Obama wants to talk about less than the economy, it’s his rocky relationship with Netanyahu.

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Forgotten POW Marks 3 Years of Captivity

During the weekend, the only remaining POW in Afghanistan, Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl of Idaho, marked three years in captivity.

The details of his capture are still a mystery. In a recent Rolling Stone article, the Bergdahl family released previously unseen emails which detailed Bowe’s discontent with his service in Afghanistan. Many of his fellow soldiers told Rolling Stone they believe he was captured because he deserted his post. The White House and Pentagon have both refused to comment on how the Taliban captured Bergdahl and have given few details about how they have worked to return him to his family. The Pentagon has not classified him as a deserter and gave him promotions while in captivity.

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During the weekend, the only remaining POW in Afghanistan, Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl of Idaho, marked three years in captivity.

The details of his capture are still a mystery. In a recent Rolling Stone article, the Bergdahl family released previously unseen emails which detailed Bowe’s discontent with his service in Afghanistan. Many of his fellow soldiers told Rolling Stone they believe he was captured because he deserted his post. The White House and Pentagon have both refused to comment on how the Taliban captured Bergdahl and have given few details about how they have worked to return him to his family. The Pentagon has not classified him as a deserter and gave him promotions while in captivity.

Despite the murky details of his capture, Bergdahl has, according to reports, attempted to escape as recently as late last year. The Daily Beast reported on his heroic attempt after years of gaining his captors’ trust:

Bergdahl successfully avoided capture for three days and two nights. The searchers finally found him, weak, exhausted, and nearly naked—he had spent three days without food or water—hiding in a shallow trench he had dug with his own hands and covered with leaves.

Even then, he put up a ferocious fight. The two gunmen who found him first were unable to subdue him. “He fought like a boxer,” [Afghan militant Hafiz] Hanif was told. It took five more militants to overpower him. Now back in custody, he is kept shackled at night, and his jailers are taking no chances.

Soon after publishing this blog post in May about Taliban prisoner exchanges, it became clear Bergdahl was the centerpoint of secret (and stalled) negotiations between the Taliban and the U.S. government. The Bergdahl family released the details of the negotiations in an attempt to pressure the Obama administration into action. Robert Bergdahl, Bowe’s father, has also reached out to insurgents himself and is in “regular e-mail contact with a man he believes is a member of the Taliban with accurate knowledge of his son.” The Bergdahl family have told the media  they feel abandoned by the Obama administration and feel the need to try to secure their son’s release themselves.

The piece in Rolling Stone speculated, while naming anonymous sources, that there are elements within the Pentagon who are loathe to exchange prisoners from Guantanamo Bay for a potential deserter. Rolling Stone also speculated that the reluctance to negotiate on the part of the Obama administration is due to their not wanting to be seen negotiating with terrorists during an election year.

Whatever the reason for the breakdown in negotiations, one would hope the Pentagon and Obama administration’s number one priority remains the safety of an American soldier held captive by a terrorist organization as ruthless as the Taliban. During his imprisonment, Bergdahl’s health has visibly deteriorated as demonstrated on videos released by his captors. The anniversary of his capture was marked locally by friends and family in a massive Crossfit workout in honor of the missing soldier but was largely absent from the national consciousness. Going into his fourth year of captivity his family released a statement, which closed with:

We’d also like to ask each of you as individuals and as a nation for your continued awareness as Bowe begins his fourth year as a prisoner. We want this to be the year we see our only son safely returned home.

We owe it to Bergdahl and his family to keep his name in our hearts and minds as we, as a nation, prioritize his release as we would if Bowe were our own son or brother.

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One More Lesson From Shamir

Jonathan did a great service to our readers in his eulogy of Yitzhak Shamir. I would like to add one more lesson we, in the West, should take from this great man’s lifelong political career.

Since Shamir left office in 1992, for the last 20 years of his life, he kept quiet. Politicians and statesmen who lose elections these days well before their meeting with fate have the tendency to teach politics to their successors. Think of Jimmy Carter, in America; Jacques Delors, in Europe; Gareth Evans, in Australia; and Yossi Sarid or Avrum Burg, in Israel. None of these men had the decency to confront their political defeat as graciously as Shamir did. None accepted the ineluctable verdict of the poll as evidence that, whatever the merit of their convictions, the zeitgeist was against them.

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Jonathan did a great service to our readers in his eulogy of Yitzhak Shamir. I would like to add one more lesson we, in the West, should take from this great man’s lifelong political career.

Since Shamir left office in 1992, for the last 20 years of his life, he kept quiet. Politicians and statesmen who lose elections these days well before their meeting with fate have the tendency to teach politics to their successors. Think of Jimmy Carter, in America; Jacques Delors, in Europe; Gareth Evans, in Australia; and Yossi Sarid or Avrum Burg, in Israel. None of these men had the decency to confront their political defeat as graciously as Shamir did. None accepted the ineluctable verdict of the poll as evidence that, whatever the merit of their convictions, the zeitgeist was against them.

Shamir did. He withdrew, like his predecessor Menachem Begin, and did not dispense wisdom or settle scores from the column of a magazine or the chairmanship of a foundation for the years he was out of office. And heaven knows he might still have had much to say. But he understood that a defeated statesman must acknowledge his loss and graciously withdraw from sight. His silence, for 20 years, is a testimony to the respect he had for the democratic process and his profoundly humbling recognition that his time as leader had passed.

This is perhaps his greatest lesson – that no leader is indispensable, that nothing can change or challenge the will of the people, and that even if time proves a leader right, it is still his duty, once office is left, to stand aloof and let others steer the ship of state.

May his memory be for a blessing.

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The Problem With Child Activists

Politico reports the breakout child star of CPAC 2009, Jonathan Krohn, has given up on conservatism and become an ardent Obama supporter:

Jonathan Krohn took the political world by storm at 2009’s Conservative Political Action Conference when, at just 13 years old, he delivered an impromptu rallying cry for conservatism that became a viral hit and had some pegging him as a future star of the Republican Party.

Now 17, Krohn — who went on to write a book, “Defining Conservatism,” that was blurbed by the likes of Newt Gingrich and Bill Bennett — still watches that speech from time to time, but it mostly makes him cringe because, well, he’s not a conservative anymore.

“I think it was naive,” Krohn now says of the speech. “It’s a 13-year-old kid saying stuff that he had heard for a long time.… I live in Georgia. We’re inundated with conservative talk in Georgia.… The speech was something that a 13-year-old does. You haven’t formed all your opinions. You’re really defeating yourself if you think you have all of your ideas in your head when you were 12 or 13. It’s impossible. You haven’t done enough.”

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Politico reports the breakout child star of CPAC 2009, Jonathan Krohn, has given up on conservatism and become an ardent Obama supporter:

Jonathan Krohn took the political world by storm at 2009’s Conservative Political Action Conference when, at just 13 years old, he delivered an impromptu rallying cry for conservatism that became a viral hit and had some pegging him as a future star of the Republican Party.

Now 17, Krohn — who went on to write a book, “Defining Conservatism,” that was blurbed by the likes of Newt Gingrich and Bill Bennett — still watches that speech from time to time, but it mostly makes him cringe because, well, he’s not a conservative anymore.

“I think it was naive,” Krohn now says of the speech. “It’s a 13-year-old kid saying stuff that he had heard for a long time.… I live in Georgia. We’re inundated with conservative talk in Georgia.… The speech was something that a 13-year-old does. You haven’t formed all your opinions. You’re really defeating yourself if you think you have all of your ideas in your head when you were 12 or 13. It’s impossible. You haven’t done enough.”

This really should serve as a lesson for every conservative who humored Krohn, praised him as a child prodigy and applauded the wisdom in his book on conservative philosophy. Not that the Right should have attacked his work, but the condescension was grating (the greatest honor for the 13-year-old Krohn was when Jeremy Lott actually took his tome seriously and panned it for The American Spectator).

You also don’t have to disagree with the politics of Krohn’s CPAC speech to find it a little creepy — maybe because there’s something creepy about child political activists in general. Most appear to have been pushed into it by politically-overzealous parents, and they all seem to serve one of two main purposes: 1.) shaming political leaders or the public into doing something vague and idealistic, i.e. stopping world hunger, saving the polar bears or transforming the Korean DMZ into a “World Peace Park.” 2.) encouraging other activists by saying the “next generation” cares about their cause.

In reality, all child activists prove is that children are still able to regurgitate facts fed to them by activist parents.

And that’s where the real tragedy of the Krohn story lies. What were his parents thinking when they pushed him into the national spotlight as a “conservative pundit” at just 13-years-old? He’s clearly embarrassed about it now, judging from his comments in the Politico article. But his short stint was profitable. Krohn had a book tour; he plugged his work on Fox News; he got a gig with the Premier Speakers Bureau. It also resulted in plenty of attention for him and his parents. Now that Krohn claims he didn’t really grasp what he was saying at the time, the questions remain: why didn’t his parents realize this and put a stop to it? What were they getting out of this?

It’s a shame Krohn still has to live with the mockery that comes with that attention, especially because he never really asked for any of it in the first place. The Right should keep that in mind next time a “conservative child prodigy” comes along.

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Liberals Can’t Handle the Truth

Peter Baker of the New York Times writes about the Obama administration’s effort to explain the continuing unpopularity of the Affordable Care Act. (Baker points out that just 32 percent supported the Affordable Care Act when it was approved in March 2010, according to a New York Times/CBS News poll; and as of a month ago, 34 percent supported it, virtually unchanged.)

The problem, Team Obama would have us believe, has nothing whatsoever to do with the defects in the law. The blame rests with an insufficiently effective PR effort.

“Unfortunately, we never had a really effective strategy around communicating to the public the benefits and the rationale behind health care reform,” said Ezekiel J. Emanuel, a physician and University of Pennsylvania vice provost who was a top White House adviser involved in developing the program. “We never had a spokesperson, and the public never really understood what we were doing.”

That failure still baffles supporters like Dr. Emanuel, given the significance of health care to Obama’s legacy. Some see it as a result of the president’s own instinctive diffidence or the natural desire to move to the next challenge. Others note the complexity of the act itself, or criticize the president’s advisers for not being more assertive.

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Peter Baker of the New York Times writes about the Obama administration’s effort to explain the continuing unpopularity of the Affordable Care Act. (Baker points out that just 32 percent supported the Affordable Care Act when it was approved in March 2010, according to a New York Times/CBS News poll; and as of a month ago, 34 percent supported it, virtually unchanged.)

The problem, Team Obama would have us believe, has nothing whatsoever to do with the defects in the law. The blame rests with an insufficiently effective PR effort.

“Unfortunately, we never had a really effective strategy around communicating to the public the benefits and the rationale behind health care reform,” said Ezekiel J. Emanuel, a physician and University of Pennsylvania vice provost who was a top White House adviser involved in developing the program. “We never had a spokesperson, and the public never really understood what we were doing.”

That failure still baffles supporters like Dr. Emanuel, given the significance of health care to Obama’s legacy. Some see it as a result of the president’s own instinctive diffidence or the natural desire to move to the next challenge. Others note the complexity of the act itself, or criticize the president’s advisers for not being more assertive.

But as I showed in this essay in COMMENTARY, the White House was highly aggressive in its public advocacy for reform. In the summer of 2009, for example, it was “all Obama, all the time,” in the words of the Washington Post. The president was “so active in advocating health care reform in September that some commentators suggested he was in danger of overexposure,” according to presidential scholar George C. Edwards III. Nothing worked; the Affordable Care Act became progressively less popular the more the president spoke about it and the more the public learned about it.

Champions of the Affordable Care Act, however, cannot handle the truth. They therefore seek refuge in the all-purpose, easy-to-apply We Have A Communications Problem explanation. This is self-deception of a high order. But when you’re allied with the Obama administration, it’s often the only excuse you have left.

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Frantic Fundraising on Air Force One

In case you couldn’t tell from the dozens of Obama campaign emails you get each week begging for $3 contributions, or donations in lieu of wedding gifts, the president’s reelection team is apparently nervous about its money game. Exhibit B: The Daily Beast obtained a recording of a frantic 18-minute fundraising solicitation made by President Obama during a donor conference call on Air Force One:

The president’s 18-minute pleading—a recording of which was provided to The Daily Beast by an Obama contributor—hardly sounded like a man doing a victory lap after Thursday’s Supreme Court ruling upholding ObamaCare, as the Affordable Care Act has come to be known. Or, for that matter, like a candidate who has been beating his Republican opponent in recent polls of key battleground states.

Rather, Obama sounded like a dog-tired idealist forced to grapple painfully with hard reality. “In 2008 everything was new and exciting about our campaign,” Obama said. “And now I’m the incumbent president. I’ve got gray hair. People have seen disappointment because folks had a vision of change happening immediately. And it turns out change is hard, especially when you’ve got an obstructionist Republican Congress.”

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In case you couldn’t tell from the dozens of Obama campaign emails you get each week begging for $3 contributions, or donations in lieu of wedding gifts, the president’s reelection team is apparently nervous about its money game. Exhibit B: The Daily Beast obtained a recording of a frantic 18-minute fundraising solicitation made by President Obama during a donor conference call on Air Force One:

The president’s 18-minute pleading—a recording of which was provided to The Daily Beast by an Obama contributor—hardly sounded like a man doing a victory lap after Thursday’s Supreme Court ruling upholding ObamaCare, as the Affordable Care Act has come to be known. Or, for that matter, like a candidate who has been beating his Republican opponent in recent polls of key battleground states.

Rather, Obama sounded like a dog-tired idealist forced to grapple painfully with hard reality. “In 2008 everything was new and exciting about our campaign,” Obama said. “And now I’m the incumbent president. I’ve got gray hair. People have seen disappointment because folks had a vision of change happening immediately. And it turns out change is hard, especially when you’ve got an obstructionist Republican Congress.”

Romney has been playing up his cash windfall in the wake of the ObamaCare decision, and the Obama campaign doesn’t want to get crushed in the money competition like it did in May. The candidates will be disclosing their June fundraising numbers soon, and Saturday was the last day for donors to get in under the wire. The Obama campaign claims it raised even more money than Romney off the SCOTUS decision, but won’t disclose the figures, which tells you all you really need to know:

Romney spokeswoman Andrea Saul said via Twitter on Friday that the former Massachusetts governor had raised the money through 47,000 online donations. “Thanks for everyone’s support for #FullRepeal!” she tweeted, referring to the candidate’s vow to repeal and replace the healthcare law if he is elected president on November 6.

Obama’s campaign said they had also raised a lot of money since the Supreme Court issued its ruling, but officials would not give any figures to back up the assertion.

Obama is under pressure to provide evidence he outraised Romney, which explains the desperate phone call. As the Daily Beast reports, Obama reassured donors he still has a superior ground game, and noted that early money is better than late money — in other words, it’s not a major problem if he’s lagging behind Romney at this stage in the election. This isn’t entirely true, as Obama wasn’t raising remarkable figures, even early on. He’s also been burning through money at a much faster rate than Romney.

Then there’s the legal questions about raising money on Air Force One. The plane must count as federal property, so is fundraising solicitation prohibited on it? President Clinton came under fire in 1997 for making fundraising calls on the Oval Office phone, which seems like a similar situation.

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The Great Miscalculation of John Roberts

Conservatives have been rightly disappointed with the Supreme Court ruling to uphold ObamaCare, but that disappointment has been all the more bitter because the case has been full of unpleasant surprises. Conservatives believed they had two objectives to get ObamaCare overturned: convince a majority of the justices there was no “limiting principle” to the individual mandate that would excuse it from setting precedent on the Commerce Clause, and convince Anthony Kennedy (the assumed swing vote) that because there was no limiting principle, the law could not survive an accurate reading of the Commerce Clause.

They did both, and yet still lost the case, thanks to Chief Justice John Roberts’s decision to elevate politics over jurisprudence. But now it’s time for Roberts to confront disappointment himself. Roberts believed he was doing two things by upholding ObamaCare: he was settling the issue of whether the mandate is a tax (it is), thus protecting the Commerce Clause, and he was preventing the further delegitimization of the Supreme Court by the Democrats, thus improving its general reputation. He failed on both counts.

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Conservatives have been rightly disappointed with the Supreme Court ruling to uphold ObamaCare, but that disappointment has been all the more bitter because the case has been full of unpleasant surprises. Conservatives believed they had two objectives to get ObamaCare overturned: convince a majority of the justices there was no “limiting principle” to the individual mandate that would excuse it from setting precedent on the Commerce Clause, and convince Anthony Kennedy (the assumed swing vote) that because there was no limiting principle, the law could not survive an accurate reading of the Commerce Clause.

They did both, and yet still lost the case, thanks to Chief Justice John Roberts’s decision to elevate politics over jurisprudence. But now it’s time for Roberts to confront disappointment himself. Roberts believed he was doing two things by upholding ObamaCare: he was settling the issue of whether the mandate is a tax (it is), thus protecting the Commerce Clause, and he was preventing the further delegitimization of the Supreme Court by the Democrats, thus improving its general reputation. He failed on both counts.

Roberts had good reason to believe his decision to surrender to pressure from the Obama administration and reduce the Court’s power as a supposed equal branch would at least stop the assault on the Court. After all, he held up his end of the bargain. The New York Times waited all of two days to rough Roberts up some more:

The Court’s conservatism calls to mind the defiance of the Court in the 1930s when it regularly struck down New Deal statutes during the Great Depression. But there are important differences. The 1930s Court saw itself as preserving established precedents and principles. The Roberts majority does not have that conservative role. Nor does it play the role of the 1960s Court, whose rulings reinforced a relatively liberal trend in politics.

The current conservatives are not preserving a tradition or articulating a new social consensus. Instead, as the legal historian Robert W. Gordon put it, they have regularly been radical innovators, aggressively stepping into political issues to empower the Court itself.

Roberts extended an open hand to the administration and its allies only to find, as a favorite White House metaphor would have it, a clenched fist. But he shouldn’t have been surprised–nor should he be surprised to read the recent polling showing his Court to have lost some of the public’s respect. Apparently, bowing to pressure and issuing a ruling consistent neither with constitutional law nor public opinion won’t endear him to the people.

But Roberts’s ruling should have at least settled the tax issue. After all, the bill only survives because the mandate must be labeled a tax. When White House Chief of Staff Jack Lew made the Sunday morning talk show rounds, things sounded like they were heading in the right direction for Roberts’s authority. On “Fox News Sunday,” Lew said, “When the Supreme Court rules, we have a final answer.”

So the mandate is a tax, then? Not so fast. Lew meant the constitutionality of the law is settled. As for whether it’s a tax, according to Lew, the Court “said it didn’t matter what Congress called it. It was a penalty for 1 percent.” That is most certainly not what the Court said, but Lew was only repeating what the administration has been saying since the ruling. Press Secretary Jay Carney told reporters a day after the ruling that “You can call it what you want.” But didn’t Roberts call it a tax? Here Carney unleashes the chutzpah:

“With regard to the penalty as was discussed by Chief Justice Roberts in his opinion, for those who could afford health insurance but choose to remain uninsured — forcing the rest of us to pay for their care — a penalty is administered as part of the Affordable Care Act.”

Conservatives may find this maddening, but the worst part of the Carney story is how the reporter framed the debate. The White House, he wrote, “is aggressively fighting back against Republican claims that ObamaCare contains a tax increase.” (Italics are mine.) Far from settling the question, then, Roberts’s decision has rendered the Court’s opinion irrelevant. The debate about ObamaCare continues as if there were no Supreme Court ruling, only now there’s no judicial oversight waiting on the horizon. Roberts seems to have accomplished nothing with this ruling except diminishing the Court’s standing.

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Was Roberts’ Opinion Only an Essay?

As Peter Wehner notes, now that Chief Justice Roberts has upheld the ObamaCare mandate as a “tax,” the administration no longer views it as a tax. Those finding solace in the fact that the chief justice, while adopting the administration’s extraordinarily weak “tax” argument, at least rejected its Commerce Clause contention, may be surprised to learn the part of his opinion relating to the Commerce Clause did not speak for the Supreme Court.

The official Syllabus notes that “Chief Justice Roberts delivered the opinion of the Court with respect to Part II, concluding that the Anti-Injunction Act does not bar this suit,” and “delivered the opinion of the Court with respect to Part III-C, concluding that the individual mandate may be upheld as within Congress’s power under the Taxing Clause.” Part III-A of the Roberts opinion – concluding the ObamaCare mandate was not valid under the Commerce Clause – was not in the portion of his opinion that represents the opinion of the Court.

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As Peter Wehner notes, now that Chief Justice Roberts has upheld the ObamaCare mandate as a “tax,” the administration no longer views it as a tax. Those finding solace in the fact that the chief justice, while adopting the administration’s extraordinarily weak “tax” argument, at least rejected its Commerce Clause contention, may be surprised to learn the part of his opinion relating to the Commerce Clause did not speak for the Supreme Court.

The official Syllabus notes that “Chief Justice Roberts delivered the opinion of the Court with respect to Part II, concluding that the Anti-Injunction Act does not bar this suit,” and “delivered the opinion of the Court with respect to Part III-C, concluding that the individual mandate may be upheld as within Congress’s power under the Taxing Clause.” Part III-A of the Roberts opinion – concluding the ObamaCare mandate was not valid under the Commerce Clause – was not in the portion of his opinion that represents the opinion of the Court.

You can tell how the Court’s liberal bloc views Roberts’ Commerce Clause opinion by the way Justice Ginsburg describes it in the portion of her opinion that was joined by the three other liberal justices. She calls it the “Chief Justice’s Commerce Clause essay;” depicts it as his “puzzling” attempt “to hem in Congress’ capacity to meet the new problems arising constantly in our ever-developing modern economy;” and concludes that because he ultimately upholds the mandate as a tax, she sees “no reason to undertake a Commerce Clause analysis that is not outcome determinative.”

This is legal language indicating her view that the “puzzling” Commerce Clause opinion of the chief justice can be ignored, as it is not a holding of the Court. The Court’s leading liberal has served notice how the Court will treat the chief justice’s views on the Commerce Clause if a fifth liberal is ever appointed to the Court: as an essay, not a binding precedent.

Of course, if all that is necessary to sustain any federal mandate is to accompany it with a “shared responsibility payment” for those unwilling to abide by it, not only the chief justice’s essay but the entire Commerce Clause is irrelevant. In legalese, the Commerce Clause is “not outcome determinative.”

And under the portion of the Roberts opinion that does in fact speak for the Court, the new “shared responsibility payment” power of Congress is the law of the land. It is hard to think of a broader power than the one the chief justice established, speaking for a Court supposedly concerned about overreaching its authority.

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Younger Voters Turning Against Obama

Political cynicism is on the rise among young voters, and they’re directing it at President Obama and government in general. According to a spring Harvard Institute of Politics poll, and today’s New York Times report, 18 to 24-year-olds are far less likely to support President Obama than 25 to 29-year-olds, and they’re more likely to hold conservative tendencies:

Polls show that Americans under 30 are still inclined to support Mr. Obama by a wide margin. But the president may face a particular challenge among voters ages 18 to 24. In that group, his lead over Mitt Romney — 12 points — is about half of what it is among 25- to 29-year-olds, according to an online survey this spring by the Harvard Institute of Politics. And among whites in the younger group, Mr. Obama’s lead vanishes altogether.

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Political cynicism is on the rise among young voters, and they’re directing it at President Obama and government in general. According to a spring Harvard Institute of Politics poll, and today’s New York Times report, 18 to 24-year-olds are far less likely to support President Obama than 25 to 29-year-olds, and they’re more likely to hold conservative tendencies:

Polls show that Americans under 30 are still inclined to support Mr. Obama by a wide margin. But the president may face a particular challenge among voters ages 18 to 24. In that group, his lead over Mitt Romney — 12 points — is about half of what it is among 25- to 29-year-olds, according to an online survey this spring by the Harvard Institute of Politics. And among whites in the younger group, Mr. Obama’s lead vanishes altogether.

There is also a libertarian streak among the youngest voters that isn’t as apparent in the slightly older group:

Today, specifically, the youngest potential voters are more likely than their older peers to think it is important to protect individual liberties from government, the Harvard data suggest, and less likely to think it is important to tackle things like climate change, health care or immigration.

Mr. Tevlin, for instance, found the Supreme Court ruling upholding Mr. Obama’s health care law troubling.

“I don’t think the government should force you to buy anything,” he said.

The Times seems to blame the economy for this rise in libertarian sentiment, but there could be other causes. Due to the internet, smart phones, and other technology, youngest voters grew up in a culture that placed increasing emphasis on the individual. That could certainly have contributed to their more libertarian outlook, and gives Republicans an opening to reach out to these younger voters.

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Obama’s Systematic Assault on the Truth

The Democratic talking points have been issued and are being followed to the letter (see here and here). And they go like this: The Affordable Care Act (ACA) is not a tax; it’s a penalty. Those who suggests it’s a tax are wrong, in error, disingenuous, and dissemblers.

Here’s the problem, though: characterizing the Affordable Care Act as a tax isn’t simply the interpretation of Chief Justice John Roberts and a majority of the Supreme Court; it’s the interpretation of the Obama administration.

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The Democratic talking points have been issued and are being followed to the letter (see here and here). And they go like this: The Affordable Care Act (ACA) is not a tax; it’s a penalty. Those who suggests it’s a tax are wrong, in error, disingenuous, and dissemblers.

Here’s the problem, though: characterizing the Affordable Care Act as a tax isn’t simply the interpretation of Chief Justice John Roberts and a majority of the Supreme Court; it’s the interpretation of the Obama administration.

As this story put it:

Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. said the Court had a duty to uphold an act of Congress if there was a constitutional basis for doing so. And the basis he seized on was the fallback argument [Solicitor General Donald] Verrilli included in the briefs—that the Constitution gives Congress a broad power to impose taxes to “provide for the general welfare.”

The government’s legal brief said the insurance mandate operates in practice as a tax law. No one would be prosecuted or punished for not having insurance. If they had taxable income, however, they would be forced to pay a small tax penalty.

The chief justice agreed with this argument, and so did the four liberal justices. Though Congress may not “order” people to buy insurance, Roberts held in the 5-4 decision, it may impose a small tax on those who refuse.

The Affordable Care Act, then, was upheld as constitutional based on the tax argument put forward by President Obama’s legal team. And yet the Obama administration is now insisting the Affordable Care Act never was a tax, is not now a tax, and shall never be a tax.

This is yet another example of how Barack Obama is a thoroughly post-modern president. Words and facts have no objective standing; they are relative, socially constructed, a way to advance personal reality. If referring to the Affordable Care Act as a tax helps advance the Obama agenda, then it’s a tax. If referring to the ACA as a penalty helps advance the Obama agenda, it becomes a penalty.

You like tomato and I like tomahto.

That philosophy may be fine for liberal arts professors and even tolerable among community organizers. But when the president of the United States systematically assaults truth—if words mean whatever you want them to mean—it becomes rather more problematic. Yet that is precisely where the United States finds itself in the summer of 2012.

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