Thursday, July 26, 2012

The Power to Kill

A friend of mine found an intriguing article concerning President Obama's administration and yet another lawsuit being brought to bear against it.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012


This video pretty much speaks for itself. I'll let the kid, his sister, and his dad do the talking.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Shorts For The Weekend!

I was "short film trolling" online a couple of nights ago and found some clever stuff I figured I would share. Enjoy!

And here is another one as a bonus. It was too funny not to share.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Precedents are Stubborn Things

There has been much talk concerning the Supreme Court's decision to uphold "Obamacare" since the opinion was handed down by the high court a week ago today. In a landmark decision, the court decided to uphold the law by a vote of 5-4. Predictable glee on the one side and inflamed outrage on the other erupted moments after the decision was made known. The anchors of CNN's and MSNBC's ilk, attempting a kind of modesty in ideological victory, failed miserably to hide their joy. The conservative blogosphere and radio world made no attempt on the other hand to hide their disgust with Chief Justice John Roberts, calling his majority ruling everything from traitorous to the conservative cause, to an example of "twisted logic" and grasping at legal straws.

I have found it helpful to write this after the proverbial smoke of ideological battle has cleared, giving me time to digest not only all the coverage surrounding the law's success in court but also time to read the high court's ruling on the case. Going to the source is always good, but only if approached with honesty and integrity. I sincerely believed that I would probably find the same "twisted" and "tortuous" logic, the same legal convolutions, and the same pandering that everyone else has been reporting all this time.

Not only did I find that the reports surrounding Roberts' decision were overblown, but also that his argument made a surprising, even commendable amount of sense. I am no lawyer, Constitutional or otherwise, but it made sense to me. I never thought I would say this (I certainly never wanted to say this), but it would appear that the Obama healthcare law indeed stands up to Constitutional muster.

Justice Roberts argued the case from two different standpoints, as everyone should know by now. The first was from the Commerce Clause, which allows Congress to regulate interstate commerce. Roberts had no trouble in destroying the administration's Commerce Clause argument by pointing out that the Obamacare individual mandate cannot force someone into commerce who does not wish to engage in commerce. The case was pretty clear. However, the more interesting part of the chief justice's decision is reflected in the other standpoint presented by the lawyers for Obamacare. Those lawyers argued that the penalty for not buying health insurance was actually a tax, when Obama specifically said it was not a tax. In the end, Roberts ruled in essence that if the penalty walked like a tax, talked like a tax, was enforced like a tax, and was collected like a tax, then how could it be called anything other than a tax? He cites precedent after precedent to support his decision, especially his assertion that taxes have been called by other names before (including a penalty) and that the court ruled those things as taxes as well.

I will not recite the whole ruling here, but I found the essence of it to be very clear. The Commerce Clause arguments seem to be the part of his ruling that was more thoroughly hashed out and explained, whereas the taxing authority argument is by contrast a bit more brief, quotation dense, and yes, convoluted. And yet I don't necessarily find that last aspect troubling of itself, since the arguments in question are trying to tackle a highly convoluted and extremely long-winded healthcare law.

The Consequences

So what does it mean?

First of all, the ruling makes no attempt to call the healthcare law a good thing. Roberts makes that abundantly clear in the opening remarks of his statement, where he puts the blame for the monstrosity that is Obamacare on the people for electing the politicians that wrote it. If you want wise laws, elect wise men, he strongly suggests. We are here just to make sure that the parts all work as they should.

Second, it proves once again to the Congress and to the people that the judges on the court have the free will to rule however they see fit. The fact that Justice Kennedy (a man of a more liberal bent), and Roberts (a more conservative leaning man) both voted the opposite of their ideological leanings is proof of this. Both found compelling arguments to the contrary of their perceived camps and voted accordingly. That Justice Roberts was appointed by George W. Bush means nothing in this context. I am not saying that the court is pure of political heart, which it is most definitely not, but I believe that even the supposed conservative principles of the chief justice would not stand up to the scrutiny of case law, Constitutional gray areas, and historical precedent. 

Third, the ruling reinforces Congress's power to demand action of the citizenry, if only through negative means rather than through the positive command afforded by a Commerce Clause argument. The side effect of the ruling of course is a huge expansion of the power to tax by the Congress, by in essence ruling that economic inactivity can be taxed as well as activity. It is a wretched precedent created by (I think) a proper legal reading of the healthcare law, unfortunate as that might be.

Fourth and finally, Roberts' ruling labels the individual mandate for what Obama should have called it all along, a massive tax hike. Clarification of terms is helpful, and hopefully will assist in ejecting Obama from the office of president in November.

In the end, what is the Supreme Court for? To advance an agenda? Or to interpret law? In what way did Justice Roberts "betray" anybody by ruling on what he saw as the legal (not ideological) merit of the healthcare law? Both liberals and conservatives seemed so eager to push ideology that each side was set with statements to either blast the court's decision regardless of its merits or to praise it for seeing the light of reason. 

I think we could learn two things here: the first is that we should never again pass a law that is so enormously long and convoluted that it requires such nimble legal gymnastics to save it. The second is that if we are troubled by both Obamacare and the court's ruling, we have no farther to look for blame than ourselves. Justice Roberts is correct to shift the blame to 'we the people': if the power comes from the people, as our founders would like to think, then we need to elect a wiser governing body to represent us so that this whole fiasco never happens again.

Photo by Jeff Kubina, via Wikipedia.