Archive for Mon, Sep 14, 2009

The Pesident’s Speech: A Big Dud

From an ABC analysis of a poll conducted after last Wednesday’s big speech:

More continue to think reform will worsen rather than improve their own care, costs and coverage. There’s still a nearly even split on whether it’ll improve care for most people in general. More think it’ll weaken rather than strengthen Medicare. And nearly two-thirds think it’ll boost the already vast federal deficit
.

Democrats who vote for anything resembling Obamacare are endangering their re-election. Not only are the proposals ruinous of a great American medical system, they are deeply unpopular and the Congress knows this. Seniors especially are right to be very distressed by the prospect of massive cuts to the Medicare budget.

To pass such a scheme in the face of strong national opposition is to announce to the plebes that their opinions don’t matter to the lefty elites running the Democratic Party and the Obama Administration. That sort of arrogance will not fade from memory by next November.

Preparing for a Sweeping Change in Campaign Finance Law

For more than 30 years the United States Supreme Court has struggled to square limits on campaign contributions with the First Amendment’s ringing language that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people to peaceably assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

Congress and state and local governments have participated in this effort, passing scores of statutes and regulations that seek to “balance” interests and ward off the corrupting influence of money in politics.[# More #]

Of course we still have the corrupting influence of money in politics, and we have a giant industry surrounding the management of campaigns and the raising of funds according to the myriad rule sets that exist.

We also have the increasing domination of politics by the super-wealthy, as they can afford to self-finance their campaigns in whole or part while even well-off citizens refuse to submit to the endless task of raising a competitive amount of money via individual donations.

President Obama harnessed the internet in 2007-2008, and destroyed what little semblance of balance was left in the federal system by refusing to honor his pledge to live by the federal campaign spending limits, and his campaign spending swamped that of John McCain’s.

Now, surrounded by the ruin of the reformers’ ambitions and certainly aware of the accelerating trend towards a Congress truly open only to multi-millionaires, the Supreme Court of the United States last week heard arguments on whether or not the federal system ought to be scrapped and the First Amendment’s core value of protecting political speech restored to its rightful place.

The case is Citizens United v. FEC, and a very unusual September argument on its merits was heard last Wednesday. The argument was overshadowed by President Obama’s speech that night and by the general focus on Obamacare, but the potential importance of the case is difficult to overstate.

Here’s the SCOTUS Wiki on the proceedings.

I am going to devote two hours of today’s broadcast to this case and to the arguments advanced and questions posed by the justices at last week’s hearings. Dean Erwin Chemerinsky of the University of California Irvine Law School and Dean John Eastman of Chapman University Law School –the “Smart Guys” as they have been known by my audience for a decade– will join me with Erwin assigned the task of representing the government and defending the McCain-Feingold statute and all of its cousins, and John assigned the job of representing Citizens United and beyond that, the interests of free speech and a political system open to all of its citizens and not rigged to benefit the well-heeled.

My view is hardly a surprise to my listeners. Ordinary citizens ought to be able to compete on a level playing field with wealthy citizens by approaching sympathetic donors and enlisting their wealth in an effort to compete against self-funding millionaires, and political messages funded by groups of like-minded activists ought never to be barred from the airwaves.

If, as many suspect, the Court strikes down a large part or even all of the McCain-Feingold statute and perhaps even issues a ruling overturning in whole or part Buckley v. Valeo, expect an armada of challenges to state and local laws and regulations to launch, as well they should. Depending on how the court rules, constitutional law experts could well be busy challenging these statutes for a couple of years, but at the end of the cycle of challenges, the country’s politics will be much better positioned to thrive and survive another two centuries of robust, well-funded political debate.

Candidates, consultants and contributors –both actual and potential– should be planning their responses now as the 2010 cycle will be the first to be impacted by the decision. The Court’s rare September argument suggests that at least some of its members understand the urgency of a timely ruling in the case, so that the political year ahead will unfold fairly for all the candidates, and not just the self-funders. Imagine how many more candidates from both sides of the aisle and from third parties might join the campaign if they were assured of a level playing field with the multimillionaire incumbents or candidates.

Today’s program will be the subject of an open thread over at The Hughniverse.

The Public Option: Fading Or Reviving?

The Obama Administration can’t seem to decide whether it will fight to the end for the government option/public plan, or let it die a much deserved death.

The New York Times’ Robert Pear has a story this morning with the headline “Public Option Fades From Health Care Debate,” but Administration spokesman Robert Gibbs went on CNN today to say it remains an option.

This inability to speak clearly about so crucial an issue is one of many instances of slipperiness that is fueling the deep public distrust of Obamacare, and the president’s willingness to change his “guarantees” and his numbers (45 million uninsured dropped to 30 million without explanation) two more examples.

A large crowd of Obamacare opponents thronged D.C. yesterday —Michelle Malkin has the pictures that the MSM sites don’t seem to have available which clearly communicate the size of the crowd— and its numbers are a visible manifestation of a nation-wide unease with the president’s promises and plans. So too were the 1.4 million signatures opposing Obamacare that my Salem Radio colleagues and I delivered to the Hill on Wednesday, and so too were the hundreds of white-coated Docs4PatientCare who flew in Thursday to tell their Congressman to stop the assault on American medicine.

None of these manifestations of anti-Obamacare public opinion have been organized by the GOP, though the Republicans stand to benefit greatly in the November 2010 elections if Democrats continue to try and push through this deeply divisive and deceptive radical overhaul of the highly effective system of care Americans prize and depend upon.

The only way to stop Obamacare is to persuade enough Democrats that they will lose their jobs in 14 months if they don’t stop backing Obamacare.

And the best way to send that message is with a contribution to both the National Republican Congressional Committee and the National Republican Senatorial Committee.

The Appeasement of Iran

The combination of the State Department’s announcement that the United States will accept Iran’s “terms” for talks and the Ayatollah Khamenei’s hard line speech at Friday prayers in Tehran spells appeasement.

From the Times’ story on the coming “talks”:

The Obama administration said Friday that the United States would accept Iran’s offer to meet, fulfilling President Obama’s pledge to hold unconditional talks despite the Iranian government’s insistence that it would not negotiate over the future of its nuclear program….

In advance of Friday’s announcement, senior administration officials said that their offer to negotiate directly with the Iranians, for what could turn into the first substantive talks since the Iranian Revolution in 1979, was, as a senior official had earlier put it, a “bona fide offer.”

But at the same time, officials said their expectations were extremely low. They also said their willingness to proceed was based in part on a recognition that some form of talks had to take place before the United States could make a case for imposing far stronger sanctions on Iran.

“We’ll be looking to see if they are willing to engage seriously on these issues,” said a State Department spokesman, Philip J. Crowley. “If we have talks, we will plan to bring up the nuclear issue.”

From the Wall Street Journal’s assessment of Khamenei’s speech:

Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, in his second address to the nation since the turmoil over the June presidential election, set a tough tone for where the country is heading: No compromises with opponents outside or inside Iran.

Mr. Khamenei, delivering a sermon at Tehran’s Friday prayers, said that if opposition leaders continue to question the legitimacy of the political system and create divisions among the public, he would have no choice but to “take out the eye of the storm.” The comments set the stage for the possible arrest of opposition leaders Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi.

Mr. Khamenei reiterated that Iran wouldn’t bend to Western powers when it comes to its nuclear program. To give up rights, “whether nuclear right or otherwise, would result in a nation’s demise,” he said.

It is apparent that the Obama Administration will not act to stop Iran’s acquisition of nuclear weapons. Now the only question is whether America will interfere with Israel’s efforts to stop the world’s most fanatical regime from gaining WMD.

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