February 7th, 2013

Take Note, Oh Blogosphere!

Andrew Sullivan basically admits to having been meep-meeped:

This was going to be the most transparent administration in history. It was going to roll back executive over-reach and put warfare against terrorism within a constitutional framework that could defend the country against Jihadist mass murder without sacrificing our values. And yet on a critical issue – the killing of allegedly treasonous citizens who have joined forces with al Qaeda to kill and threaten Americans – we were first given a memo that isn’t actually the real memo which contains no meaningful due process at all.

Now, the administration has given the Congress the actual memo, which, one hopes, does less damage to the Constitution and the English language. But why can “we the people” not see the actual memo? That phrase came up a lot in his recent Inaugural address. Funny how in practice in this respect, Obama is showing such contempt for the concept. And the “memo” Mike Isikoff procured is so legally shoddy and its corruption of the English language so perverse it almost demands we all see the real thing. To use the word “imminent” to describe something that is in the indefinite unknowable future is like calling torture “enhanced interrogation.” To lean on the word “infeasible” without any serious definition of what feasible would be is surreal. Underneath its absurd language and twisted rationales, the memo comes perilously close to the equivalent of “Because I said so.” And the core message of the policy is: trust me.

The entire passage screams “I’VE BEEN BETRAYED!” For all those who found Sullivan’s fawning worship of the president insufferable and nauseating, enjoy the schadenfreude.

December 31st, 2012

Handicapping the Fiscal Cliff Talks

The consensus used to be that President Obama held all of the high cards when it came to the fiscal cliff negotiations, and that Republicans would be forced to swallow a bad deal. But as a final deal to avert the cliff is taking shape, the consensus appears to be changing. Now, it is Republicans who appear to be getting the better of the deal, or at the very least, a far better deal than they thought they would get.

Joshua Green explains why the deal is good for Republicans:

With the caveat that no reporter is privy to the details of the offers being swapped, here is the deal that seemed to be emerging: Democrats would get an extension of unemployment benefits for 2.1 million people; they’d patch the alternative minimum tax for a year to protect the middle class from sharp tax hikes; and they’d implement a “doc fix” to ensure that Medicare reimbursement rates to doctors don’t fall precipitously and limit patients’ access to medical care. Republicans would get to preserve Bush-era income tax rates for households making up to $400,000 (rather than the $250,000 limit Democrats prefer). They’d also get a lower tax rate and a much higher threshold for inheritance taxes (set to revert to 55 percent on estates of more than $1 million on Tuesday). And significantly, Republicans would hold onto their greatest point of leverage in upcoming negotiations over entitlement cuts, because the deal wouldn’t raise the debt limit.

Here’s what’s important about everything Democrats would get: It’s temporary; everything expires (presumably) within a year. Here’s what’s important about what Republicans would get: it’s permanent. The tax rates won’t expire.

That means Democrats are offering a huge gift to Republicans and getting almost nothing in return because on Jan. 1, if no deal is struck, Democrats will get even more revenue than they’re asking for without conceding a thing. And if, as polls suggest, voters would blame Republicans for going over the cliff, Democrats are also offering to save Republicans from their worst impulses—which, at least for the time being, since they haven’t yet agreed, is to reject this deal.

I might argue with a few details here and there, but by and large, Green appears to have hit the major points in his analysis. The emerging deal has turned out far better than Republicans have feared, and far worse than Democrats have hoped.

It appears to have dawned on some liberal pundits and politicians that they ought to not like the deal. Timothy Noah calls upon congressional Democrats to kill the deal, and Tom Harkin threatens to rally fellow Senate Democrats against the deal. Matt Yglesias joins in the hand-wringing and Brian Beutler also appears to be upset. Paul Krugman calls Barack Obama “The World’s Worst Poker Player,” and then, having gotten more information on the deal, he calls the president "Conceder In Chief." Jamelle Bouie states that “if President Obama remains committed to getting a deal done before the new year, then in all likelihood, it won’t be favorable to his short-term or long-term interests.” This comment, of course, reflects the fact that Obamaphiles were and are willing to go over the cliff and risk damage to the economy in order to do better in negotiations (again, who are the real “hostage-takers” in these negotiations?). The only Obamaphile who seems to think that the White House has the better of the negotiations is Andrew Sullivan, who continues to meep meep away. One presumes, however, that if the deal does turn out to be as unfavorable to liberals as is feared on the port side, Sullivan will swiftly downshift into utterly and completely losing it, as he is often wont to do.

I guess that the only thing I have to add is that if the president does indeed end up getting outwitted and outmaneuvered in these negotiations, it will cause people like me to ask anew how it is possible that Republicans could have lost the 2012 presidential election to him. But maybe that’s a different matter for another day.

December 20th, 2012

In Which People Try to Attack Megan McArdle, Only to Make Themselves Look Ridiculous

In the aftermath of the Newtown shooting, Megan McArdle wrote a column in which she advocated the following:

… I’d also like us to encourage people to gang rush shooters, rather than following their instincts to hide; if we drilled it into young people that the correct thing to do is for everyone to instantly run at the guy with the gun, these sorts of mass shootings would be less deadly, because even a guy with a very powerful weapon can be brought down by 8-12 unarmed bodies piling on him at once.  Would it work?  Would people do it?  I have no idea; all I can say is that both these things would be more effective than banning rifles with pistol grips.

This prompted hoots of derision from Jonathan Chait, which set off a generalized port-side mockumentary of McArdle’s idea. For good measure, Chait sarcastically allowed that McArdle’s column might be “a very subtle parody of libertarianism.” Andrew Sullivan, being the blogospheric cheap shot artist that he is, actually awarded McArdle a Malkin Award nomination. For those of you who are blessedly unaware of Sullivan’s various silly awards, the Malkin Award is for shrill, hyperbolic, divisive and intemperate right-wing rhetoric.” I have absolutely no earthly clue how encouraging targets of a gunman to gang rush the gunman in order to perhaps give those targets a fighting chance at living through the ordeal qualifies as “shrill, hyperbolic, divisive and intemperate right-wing rhetoric,” but I’m not Andrew Sullivan. (Speaking of which, barukh Atah Adonai, Eloheinu Melekh ha-olam, shelo asani Andrew Sullivan.)

But hey, guess what! Turns out that going after McArdle for this is more than a little bizarre. Let’s turn the microphone over to Jeffrey Goldberg:

McArdle’s suggestion is crazy, right? In many ways, yes, but it should be noted that this is not actually her idea — it is a recommendation disseminated by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. The federal government’s “active shooter” policy suggests that, as a last resort, a person facing an armed killer should “attempt to incapacitate the shooter” and “act with physical aggression and throw items at the active shooter.” 

Mocking McArdle for her notion seems quite uncharitable, when you have an entire federal bureaucracy to mock. The truth is, of course, that attacking someone who is trying to shoot you (the old, “run from a knife, run to a gun” idea of self-defense) beats dying without a fight, but it’s still fairly ineffective. The heroic school principal and school psychologist in Newtown charged Adam Lanza, but were shot before they could “incapacitate” him. (DHS doesn’t say anything about small children swamping a shooter, but McArdle is ambiguous in her post on the question of whether she means small children or not. Obviously, first graders aren’t going to be attacking shooters.)  

In my recent article advocating for concealed-carry (and for stricter gun laws, as well), I provided several examples of idiotic-sounding recommendations that universities (which are usually self-declared “gun-free” zones) pass on to students, staff and faculty in the event of an “active shooter” attack. These recommendations motivated me to rethink the issue of concealed-carry. From the article:

Wichita State University counsels students in the following manner: “If the person(s) is causing death or serious physical injury to others and you are unable to run or hide you may choose to be compliant, play dead, or fight for your life.”

The University of Miami guidelines suggest that when all else fails, students should act “as aggressively as possible” against a shooter. The guidelines, taken from a Department of Homeland Security directive, also recommend “throwing items and improvising weapons,” as well as “yelling.”

Otterbein University, in Ohio, tells students to “breathe to manage your fear” and informs them, “You may have to take the offensive if the shooter(s) enter your area. Gather weapons (pens, pencils, books, chairs, etc.) and mentally prepare your attack.”

West Virginia University advises students that if the situation is dire, they should “act with physical aggression and throw items at the active shooter.” These items could include “student desks, keys, shoes, belts, books, cell phones, iPods, book bags, laptops, pens, pencils, etc.”

The University of Colorado at Boulder’s guidelines state, “You and classmates or friends may find yourselves in a situation where the shooter will accost you. If such an event occurs, quickly develop a plan to attack the shooter … Consider a plan to tackle the shooter, take away his weapon, and hold him until police arrive.”

So McArdle’s idea is in line with that of the Department of Homeland Security and a host of educational institutions. It is also the plan that was adopted in Sandy Hook. We call the people who tried to take down Adam Lanza heroes—and rightly so—but when McArdle says that more people ought to try to implement these tactics, she is the subject of ridicule? The mind boggles. I mean, it’s one thing to politely but firmly hold that McArdle’s idea may not work—or at least, may not work cleanly. I’ll readily point out that if you tell people to gang rush a shooter and explain why it might work, the reaction you are going to get is “okay, you first.” And it’s not irrational to think that; everyone wants to live and most people are willing to be free-riders on the backs of those who do the dangerous work of leading the charge against a gunman. But it’s another thing altogether to get the vapors, clutch your pearls and look around frantically for the fainting couch simply because McArdle decided to advocate an idea that is already advocated by DHS and a number of universities, and was implemented at Sandy Hook. 

And of course, it’s all especially hilarious given the attempts by Chait and others to shoehorn attacks on libertarianism in their replies. If Megan McArdle so much as orders red wine with fish, people like Jonathan Chait will blog about it and will try to convince you that this gastronomic faux pas is all the evidence you need to know for a certainty that Frédéric Bastiat, Friedrich Hayek, Milton Friedman, and Robert Nozick were all full of it.

December 20th, 2012

Is Chuck Hagel Smart Enough to Run the Pentagon?

As I see it, the next secretary of defense will be faced with—among other things—the following big-think policy challenges:

  • Figuring out the long term size and scope of the defense budget in light of the fiscal situation at home and the nature of American military commitments abroad—especially in Afghanistan and Iraq.
  • Figuring out the configuration of American force structure.
  • Figuring out the configuration of American force doctrine. Are we going to go small? Are we going to go small but continue to augment our counterinsurgency capabilities in the process? Are we going to go bigger?
  • Figuring out how the military will play with intelligence agencies like the CIA, the DIA and the NSA, as well as what the size and scope of the Pentagon’s intelligence structure is going to be.
  • Figuring out what steps it wants to take when it comes to the issue of defense transformation.
  • Figuring out what its long term doctrine is going to be regarding the use of drones in warfare.
  • Figuring out how best to run military tribunals, how best to administer indefinite detention, and what to finally do about the detention facility in Guantanamo Bay.
  • Trying to convince regional powers that are allies of the United States to take a greater role in their own defense.

I am sure that I am missing various other agenda items, but I figure that ticking off eight big ones will suffice for the moment. To state the incredibly obvious, most—if not all—of these agenda items cannot be kicked down the road by the next defense secretary. They are going to have to be addressed quickly and comprehensively. And all of this means that the next defense secretary has to be very smart, and very intellectually steeped in defense/national security policy. We need a deep thinker with excellent management skills to run the Pentagon.

I write the above as a prelude to linking to this column, in which David Ignatius rightly wonders whether Chuck Hagel really is all that and a bag of chips:

The harder puzzle for the White House is whether Hagel would be the best manager during an important inflection point in Pentagon history. The U.S. combat role in Afghanistan will be ending, and the services will be fighting over how to divide a shrinking budget.

Hagel brings some obvious pluses on both counts: As a Republican and a genuine military hero when he served as an enlisted man in Vietnam, he can give President Obama cover as he executes the withdrawal from Afghanistan. Hagel is angry about what he sees as the misconceived wars in Iraq and Afghanistan as perhaps only a combat veteran can be. If he had his way, the troops probably would have come home yesterday. But this impatience is also slightly worrying. The withdrawal will succeed only if our military leaves an Afghanistan that can hold together.

Hagel’s military record is surely one big reason why the president wants him. He’s a guy who, as Reed says, knows how to talk to the troops and has walked in their boots. He’s blunt, direct and impatient with pettifogging. In these traits, he’s similar to the current secretary, Leon Panetta, and his predecessor, Bob Gates. And like both of them, Hagel has a temper.

Gates was the most successful defense secretary in modern times, for reasons worth considering now. He understood how to manage the Pentagon and did it not by getting down in the weeds but by staying above them. He delegated the busywork to Pentagon bureaucrats and made the big decisions himself. He was effective partly because people were scared of him. They knew that if they crossed the secretary, they would get fired. This brought a rare accountability.

Hagel could do the tough, no-nonsense-boss part of the job. But Gates had another essential talent that will be harder to match. He was a genuine national-security intellectual, who had studied how to manage and motivate huge institutions when he was director of the CIA and at the National Security Council. He knew the big strategic things about defense policy, but he also knew the little technical things. Gates was such a sawed-off shotgun of a guy that it was easy to miss that he was also a subtle thinker.

Nobody who knows Hagel would describe him as a defense intellectual. He’s more blunt than nuanced. How would he steer Pentagon procurement decisions in this age of new technologies and strategic matrices? I’m not sure. How would he manage the chiefs in their knife fights over the budget? Again, I’m not sure.

Well, we need to be sure. And needless to say, demanding serious and detailed answers of Hagel regarding these issues is not some neocon/Greater Israel/Jewish lobby/AIPAC machination designed to serve the interests of people Andrew Sullivan and Stephen Walt hate with a Gollumesque passion. If Hagel can give serious and detailed answers regarding these and other issues, I will be favorably impressed and I will write as much. If not, he has no business whatsoever being the next secretary of defense.

December 19th, 2012

Night Is Dark, Water Is Wet, Fire Is Hot, Ice Is Cold, and Andrew Sullivan Obsesses About the Greater Israel/Jewish Lobby

I guess that no one should be surprised that Andrew Sullivan—in response to people opposing the idea of Chuck Hagel serving as secretary of defense—takes his now-traditional tack of blaming the “Greater Israel” and/or “Jewish” lobby for having the temerity to voice their objections. But if Sullivan were to calm down for a moment and think the situation through—I know that this asks a lot—he might find himself skeptical about the idea of nominating Hagel as well. Consider:

  • Sullivan celebrates sanctions on Iran as working, favorably linking to a post during the campaign that states that sanctions compelled Iran to change its behavior and “demolish[ed]” a Romney talking point contending that the Obama administration’s engaged in “foreign policy missteps.” Sullivan has also praised sanctions on Iran by claiming that “[b]y tightening sanctions while keeping an open hand, Obama avoids the appearance of America being the bully, and prevents cooptation of national pride by the regime.” Sanctions on Iran were further hailed by Sullivan as evidence of a “pragmatic, realist government. And it’s a relief to see it at work again in America’s corridors of power.” All of which makes one wonder why it is that Sullivan might favor the appointment of Chuck Hagel, who blocked sanctions on Iran in 2008 while in the Senate, who denounced sanctions on both Iran and Libya back in 2001 and who voted against renewing them that year. Why would Sullivan favor the appointment of a secretary of defense who might cause the regime in Iran to think that if they just hold out for a while longer, said secretary of defense might have the time to successfully lobby for the unilateral removal of the sanctions? Why would Sullivan want to have a secretary of defense who undercuts the president Sullivan so ardently idolizes?
  • Speaking of undercutting Barack Obama, at all times when dealing with Iran, the Obama administration has made clear that the use of force would remain an option on the table. But on that issue, Hagel has been, at best, “ambiguous”. And at other times, he really hasn’t been so ambiguous:

… I think talking about going to war with Iran in fairly specific terms should be carefully reviewed.  And that’s pretty dangerous talk.  It’s easy to get a nation into war; not so easy to get a nation out of war, as we are finding out.  I’m not sure that the American people are ready to go into a third war. 

Second, if you subscribe to what Barbara has laid out – at least, what our taskforce has found – in particular, the internal dynamics that are occurring in Iran, then why in the world would you, as Barbara has noted, want to get in the way of that? 

We do have some rather significant evidence that sanctions are working.  And they’re working because we – our government, our policies; imperfect, flawed problems; every policy has those.  But nonetheless, it has accomplished something even bigger than sanctions.  And that is they have brought a consensus together of most countries – the European Union, the Chinese are involved, Russians are involved.  We have a rather significant consensus on this issue up to a point.  And I think all you need to do is reflect on the United Nations’ vote on this as a pretty good indicator. 

Now, that alone won’t change the dynamics.  But as Barbara – (audio break) – if you subscribe to what our taskforce has come up with, then aren’t we wiser to let this play out?  Aren’t we – (audio break) – wiser, rather to get ourselves into another very difficult predicament because – (audio break) – we do also know that wars have – (audio break) – most of the time and especially – (audio break) – where we live in a day they have unintended consequences.  They have uncontrollable consequences.  We live in an interconnected global – (audio break) – and I think, again, we should factor that in. 

Last point I would make: as to the question of, well, but aren’t we just allowing the Iranians to buy time?  Maybe.  We have to recognize that the real world is about risks.  You calibrate your decisions and your policymaking based on that risk analysis. 

Is it riskier to go to war right now or is it riskier to pursue the policies that we are pursuing?  Policymakers have to decide that.  They have to sort their way through that and then they come to a decision.  It’s my analysis – and answering your question, Shuja – that it is far riskier to talk of war and to go to war.


Well, I would add this:  I’m not so sure it is necessary to continue to say all options are on the table.  I believe that the leadership in Iran, regardless of the five power centers that you’re referring to – whether it’s the ayatollah or the president or the Republican Guard, the commissions – have some pretty clear understanding of the reality of this issue and where we are. 

I think the point that your question really brings out – which is a very good one.  If you were going to threaten on any kind of consistent basis, whether it’s from leadership or the Congress or the administration or anyone who generally speaks for this country in anyway, than you better be prepared to follow through with that. 

Now, Stuart noted putting 100,000 troops in Iran – I mean, just as a number as far as if to play this thing out.  The fact is, I would guess that we would all – I would be the one to start the questioning – would ask where you’re going to get 100,000 troops.  (Laughter.)  So your point is a very good one, I think. 

I don’t think there’s anybody in Iran that does not question the seriousness of America, our allies or Israel on this for all the reasons we made very clear.  And I do think there does become a time when you start to minimize the legitimacy of a threat.  When you threaten people or you threaten sovereign nations, you better be very careful and you better understand, again, consequences because you may be required to employ that threat and activate that threat in some way. 

So I don’t mind people always, as we have laid out, and I think every president and every administration, anybody of any consequence who’s talked about this can say – does say.  But I think it’s implied that the military threat is always there.  Stu made an important point about, there are a lot of ways to come at this. 

But once you begin a military operation – I mean, you ask any sergeant – and it’s the sergeants and the guys at the bottom, not the policymakers that have to fight the war – (audio break) – there the ones who have to do all the dying and all the fighting – (audio break) – sacrifices, not the policymakers. 

But my point is, once you start that, you’d better be prepared to find 100,000 troops because it may take that or, eventually, where you’re going – my earlier point:  You don’t know.  And you can’t just – (audio break) – concept of, well, we’re going to do this but it’ll be marginalized, it’ll be a limited warfare.  I don’t think any nation can ever go into that way.  So that would be what I would just add to the rest of the other conversations. 

So, on two key issues—issues which will heavily occupy the time of the next secretary of defense—Hagel differs starkly from the president. Now, when it comes to the question of war with Iran, I am against the idea at this time: I think that we have more diplomatic options in our quiver and that we are not at the point where we are left with no option but armed conflict. And when it comes to Hagel’s possible nomination, I am willing to keep an open mind, but it seems to me that given Hagel’s many deviations from Obama administration policy, fans of the president—including Sullivan, who praises to the skies just about everything Barack Obama says, does, thinks, emotes, or casually contemplates—ought to be dead-set against having Hagel at the Pentagon.

But no. Sullivan supports both the president and the potential secretary of defense who has spoken out against many of the president’s policies when it comes to the important issue of what to do about Iran. And instead of casting a wary eye on Hagel, he lunges into attack mode against the “Greater Israel” and/or “Jewish” lobby.

Leon Wieseltier had an explanation for this behavior. And while it may cause Andrew Sullivan fits of apoplectic rage to read this, Wieseltier’s explanation looks better and better with the passage of time.

June 29th, 2012

Any More Such Victories, and the Left is Doomed(?)

I usually don’t cross-post items from my other blog, but in this case, I am going to make an exception …

Like other small-government activists, I was initially tremendously disappointed by the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold just about all of Obamacare, a decision that featured the finding that while the individual mandate was not a proper exercise of Congress’s power under the Commerce Clause, it could be found a proper exercise of Congress’s taxing power. If we are to solely consider doctrinal and legal issues, then any finding that the individual mandate is a tax should have led Chief Justice John Roberts, who wrote the majority opinion for the Court, to push the rest of the Court towards the conclusion that the Anti-Injunction Act ought to apply, and that the Court ought to punt the case until 2015, when taxes are finally collected. Moreover, it’s hard to see how the mandate is a tax; yes, there is a penalty imposed on those who do not purchase health insurance, the penalty is imposed via tax returns that take into account a person’s income, and it is collected by the IRS. Looks like a tax, walks like a tax, quacks like a tax–it must be a tax, right? But what I couldn’t get my head around is the fact that taxes are either implemented for the sole purpose of collecting revenue, or because they are needed to combat a negative externality (taxes on cigarettes keep people from smoking, taxes on carbon emissions reduce those emissions, etc.). The individual mandate’s tax appears to be just another way of regulating economic inactivity, and while the chief justice’s majority opinion stated that Congress cannot regulate economic inactivity via the Commerce Clause, having the chief state–along with four other justices–that Congress can do so via the taxing power seems on its face to give small-government activists nothing to be happy about.

On its face. Look more closely at the opinion, and one will find a massive legal victory for small-government activists. Yes, liberals get to keep Obamacare, and the president is happy–along with the rest of the White House. But they may not be for long.

First of all, by siding with the liberals and keeping most of the law intact–including the mandate provision–the chief just took the air out of the campaign to cast the Court as an illegitimate arm of the VRWC. This viewpoint never had any factual basis to begin with, but to the extent that it had any credence prior to the health care reform ruling, the chief justice has undermined it tremendously.

Small-government activists may complain that in doing so, the chief caved to his liberal critics, and got used as a tool of the liberal justices to affirm the constitutionality of Obamacare. They would be wrong. The chief didn’t get played. Quite the contrary; the chief did the playing. And most of the suckers he played–both within the Court, and outside of it–probably don’t quite understand what he achieved.

With the help of liberals on the Court, Chief Justice Roberts brought the Court around to the opinion that Congress cannot regulate economic inactivity via the Commerce Clause. This is not mere dicta; the question of whether the Commerce Clause could be used to regulate economic inactivity was plainly before the Court. And through the chief, the Court answered that the Commerce Clause could not be used in such a manner. As Sean Trende notes:

Five justices just signaled to lower courts that, but for the unique taxation power argument, they were prepared to rule that a major act of Congress that plainly touched upon economic activity exceeded Congress’ commerce powers. Right now, liberals are seemingly too busy celebrating their win, and conservatives bemoaning their loss, to realize the significance of this.

None of the liberals’ previous arguments about the upshot of such a ruling are rendered invalid simply because the chief justice decided that this was a tax (and almost everyone agreed that if Congress had just called it a tax, it would have been constitutional). The court just constricted its Commerce Clause jurisprudence; if liberal commentators are correct, they did so by a lot. It doesn’t matter today, but 10 years from now, it will probably be a different story.

Is the ability to regulate via taxation scary? Sure, on its face. But go beyond the surface, and ask yourself how many politicians will want to regulate via new taxes?

Not too many. And as Trende points out:

If Republicans win the Senate and presidency, the law is doomed. They will use reconciliation to repeal it, or to gut it. In fact, since the court essentially allowed states to opt out of the Medicaid expansion, there’s a chance that the bill would no longer reduce the deficit if a large state like Texas opted out. This makes the use of reconciliation much easier.

Incidentally, it is worth noting that choice parts of this video are going to find their way into Romney ads. And the chief justice is responsible for that. After all, the Court just bought the Obama administration’s argument that the individual mandate is a tax:

The chief wasn’t done with limiting the scope of the Commerce Clause. He also got seven justices to agree with the finding that Congress’s ability to attach conditions to legislation had to be curtailed, in addressing the constitutionality of the Medicaid expansion. Again, the chief was able to limit the reach of big government, and again, he was able to enlist the support of liberals to do it. Who is being played for a sucker again? To quote Jay Cost, “[t]his is another major victory for conservatives who cherish our system of dual sovereignty. This was also a big policy win for conservatives; the Medicaid expansion was a major way the Democrats hid the true cost of the bill, by shifting costs to the states, but they no longer can do this.”

As if that were not enough, the chief also managed to put limits on Congress’s use of the Necessary and Proper Clause. This further limits the power of government, and curbs its reach.

So, once the euphoria wears off–and assuming that they ever wise up–Team Obama will find that it is celebrating the fact that contrary to then-Senator Obama’s promises, President Obama has just raised taxes on middle class Americans per arguments that the Obama Justice Department made to the Court, which the chief accepted. Not the kind of thing that you want to boast about in an election year. The fact that the law survives (for the moment) will only serve to motivate Romney supporters and Obama opponents who are not quite Romney supporters. Meanwhile the chief justice has set in place the doctrinal foundations needed for further small-government/original public meaning victories in the legal sphere, at the cost of leaving mostly intact a piece of legislation that may be more vulnerable to repeal than many people think. The silly meep-meepers may celebrate an Obama victory today, but they might soon wake up to the realization that the chief justice just ate the president’s lunch–and the desserts of the president’s supporters.

John. Roberts. Is. A. Badass. The chief gamed this entire situation brilliantly. Conservatives, right-of-center libertarians, and other small-government activists and original public meaning advocates ought to stop vilifying him immediately. He just did wonders for the causes they–we–hold dear.

(In addition to Trende and Cost, I am indebted to the analysis of Larry SolumErick EricksonTom Scocca, and Will Wilkinson, which helped in the writing of this post.)

March 30th, 2012

Please skip over Andrew Sullivan in your Timeline, guys. You really will want to. Trust me.


The Atlantic Facebook Timeline: 1857-Present

We just launched our timeline featuring selections from our archives dating back to 1857. Read works by Mark Twain, Henry David Thoreau, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Bertrand Russell, Jane Addams, Henry James, Rudyard Kipling, Woodrow Wilson, H.G. Wells, David Foster Wallace, James Fallows, Arthur Schlesinger, and more.

Reblogged from The Atlantic


Your source for a certain percentage of things related to Pejman Yousefzadeh.