Friday, April 6, 2012

Top 10 Reads of the Week - April 6, 2012

Presidential Chutzpah - John Steele Gordon [Commentary]
Presidential chutzpah. Well, at least you can admire him for that perhaps. After all, someone who graduated from Harvard Law School, edited theHarvard Law Review, and taught constitutional law at the University of Chicago Law School must be familiar with Marbury v. Madison. AsWikipedia explains, it’s an important case:
Marbury v. Madison, 5 U.S. (1 Cranch) 137 (1803) is a landmark case in United States law and in the history of law worldwide. It formed the basis for the exercise of judicial review in the United States under Article III of the Constitution. It was also the first time in Western history a court invalidated a law by declaring it “unconstitutional.” The landmark decision helped define the boundary between the constitutionally separate executive and judicial branches of the American form of government.
And yet President Obama yesterday implicitly claimed never to have heard of it, allowing him to say regarding Obamacare that it would be an “unprecedented, extraordinary” step for the Supreme Court to overturn legislation passed by a “strong majority of a democratically elected Congress.” The precedents go back 209 years and, as Jonah Goldberg pointed out on “Special Report” last night, the Supreme Court has been overturning acts of Congress ever since, on average every 16 months. So overturning Obamacare would be about as unprecedented as the sun rising in the east tomorrow morning. Actually the precedents go back even further, as Alexander Hamilton mentioned the power of judicial review in Federalist Paper 78, written in 1788. The last president to seriously challenge the court’s power to overturn an act of Congress under the doctrine of judicial review was Andrew Jackson, who famously said after one decision he didn’t like, “The court has made its decision; now let it enforce it.”... Read the Rest

 Democrats Resort to Magical Thinking On Obamacare - Ramesh Ponuru [Bloomberg]
In the span of one week, Democrats went from dismissing the possibility that the Supreme Court would strike down the 2010 law mandating individuals to buy health insurance to consoling themselves that any such action would have a silver lining.
James Carville says it would help the Democrats in the election. Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson writes that it would make single payer -- a government health system as in the U.K. and Canada -- “inevitable.” Other liberals, and even the occasional right-of-center analyst, have echoed that point: The conservative legal challenge to President Barack Obama’s health-care overhaul could prove self-defeating... Read the Rest
The Endless Spending Spree - James Grant [Wall Street Journal]
From George Washington to Dwight D. Eisenhower, the national debt tended to grow in wartime and shrink in peacetime. Because the dollar was generally convertible into gold or silver at a fixed and statutory rate, the central bank, when there was a central bank, couldn't just materialize money as the Federal Reserve does today. You had to dig the metal out of the Earth, or entice it into American vaults with money-friendly financial policies. The Treasury could borrow, all right, but not without limit. Wars aside, the government paid its way like a man with a debit card.
Washington, D.C., got its credit card on Sunday, Aug. 15, 1971. Pre-empting the horse opera "Bonanza," President Richard Nixon told a national television audience that the gold standard, or what little of it remained, was kaput. No more would the dollar be defined in law as 1/35th of an ounce of gold. It would rather be anchored by the good intentions of the people who printed it... Read the Rest
GOP Not Losing Women In Contraception "War" - David Paul Kuhn [Real Clear Politics]
New York Magazine's Frank Rich argued last week that there is, indeed, a "full-fledged Republican war on women." Rich asserted that this latest cultural debate is costing the likely Republican nominee, Mitt Romney, women's support. He cited a single poll to prove his point. In March, Barack Obama ran ahead of Romney among women in the NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll, 55 percent to 37 percent. That does look bad. But what share of women supported Romney before the debate over contraception coverage in the new national health care law? Essentially the same share. In mid-January, the NBC/Journal poll found that women favored Obama over Romney, 54 to 38 percent. It was a statistically insignificant shift.
Rich’s mis-analysis is hardly unique. Sans evidence, CNN reported on March 6 that “the gender gap has been widening, with the president winning more women's support since this contraception controversy has become an issue.”.. Read the Rest
Enter Totalitarian Democracy - Andrew McCarthy [The New Criterion]
"I would not look to the U.S. Constitution if I were drafting a constitution in the year 2012.” The speaker was Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg of the United States Supreme Court. These, therefore, were astonishing words.
The authority over American law enjoyed by Justice Ginsburg and her colleagues on the Court owes solely to the existence of the U.S. Constitution, complemented by the high court’s proclamation that it has the last word on how that Constitution is to be construed. That latter power grab traces its roots back to Chief Justice John Marshall’s legendary 1803 opinion inMarbury v. Madison. Marshall “emphatically” declared it “the duty of the Judicial Department to say what the law is.” Despite naysayers from Jefferson to Lincoln, who thought that judicial supremacy would eviscerate popular sovereignty, Marshall’s assertion paved the way for the modern Court to claim even more boldly, in Cooper v. Aaron (1959) for instance, that judicial control over the Constitution’s meaning is a “permanent and indispensable feature of our constitutional system.”... Read the Rest
Chart of the Week

Derail This Gravy Train - Editors [Washington Post]
...The proposed line’s advertised public benefits are the same as those claimed for all high-speed rail projects: reduced carbon emissions, less air and auto traffic, and, of course, jobs, jobs, jobs. What makes this one unique is that it would be a non-stop route whose Western end, Victorville, would function as a gathering point for people from all across Southern California. They would park their cars and then board the train for Vegas. In theory, that’s no different from driving to an airport and leaving your car. And once you reached the train, it would take only 80 minutes to hit Vegas, as opposed to a minimum four-hour drive each way.
In theory. But if this train is such a good idea, business-wise, how come private banks aren’t lining up to finance it? Previous high-speed rail projects around the world have been plagued by poor ridership, requiring government subsidies to continue operation. You might save travel time by taking the train instead of a car — as long as you’re content to depend on the train’s schedule... Read the Rest

'Bam Blasts, Mitt Laughs - James Pethokoukis [New York Post]
President Obama launched a blistering attack Tuesday on Rep. Paul Ryan’s “Path to Prosperity” economic and fiscal plan and Mitt Romney’s embrace of it — and Romney responded that night by “hugging” Ryan even tighter.
What gives? Why isn’t the near-certain Republican nominee scared?
On Tuesday afternoon, Obama used his speech at The Associated Press to slam Ryan’s proposal — passed last week by House GOPers — and Romney’s strong support for it. The president even mocked Romney’s use of the word “marvelous” in praising the Ryan plan.
Obama then savaged Ryan’s “path” as “thinly veiled Social Darwinism” that’s “antithetical to our entire history.” Ryan and Romney would . . . wait for it . . . “end Medicare as we know it.”... Read the Rest
The Messages of Toulouse - Cliff May [National Review Online]
To those who proclaim themselves jihadis, Mohamed Merah is a hero and a martyr. He became a hero last month when he attacked a Jewish school in Toulouse, murdering Rabbi Jonathan Sandler, his two young sons, Gabriel and Arieh, and a seven-year-old girl, Myriam Monsonego, whom he pulled by the hair and then shot in the head. He became a martyr when, after a 33-hour standoff, he was killed by French commandos.
This part of the story has received too little attention: Merah, the 23-year-old son of Algerian immigrants, began his killing spree by gunning down French paratrooper Sergeant Imad Ibn Ziaten and, four days later, two more uniformed paratroopers, Corporal Abel Chennouf and Private Mohamed Legouad. All three were Muslims... Read the Rest
Obama v. SCOTUS - Charles Krauthammer [Washington Post]
...Having lost the argument, what to do? Bully. The New York Times loftily warned the Supreme Court that it would forfeit its legitimacy if it ruled against Obamacare because with the “five Republican-appointed justices supporting the challenge led by 26 Republican governors, the court will mark itself as driven by politics.”
Really? The administration’s case for the constitutionality of Obamacare was so thoroughly demolished in oral argument that one liberal observer called it “a train wreck.” It is perfectly natural, therefore, that a majority of the court should side with the argument that had so clearly prevailed on its merits. That’s not partisanship. That’s logic. Partisanship is four Democrat-appointed justices giving lock-step support to a law passed by a Democratic Congress and a Democratic president — after the case for its constitutionality had been reduced to rubble... Read the Rest
Mitt Hits Bull's-Eye - John Podhoretz [New York Post]
Something changed on Tuesday night with Mitt Romney’s three primary state victories, and it wasn’t just the all-but-universal acknowledgment that he’ll be the Republican nominee.
In his speech in Wisconsin, Romney finally found the right argument to use against Barack Obama — indeed, located the very specific dividing line between the president and his opposition that Republicans and conservatives have been trying to draw for four years now.
The president, Romney said, has “spent the last four years laying the foundation for a new government-centered society.”"
Government-centered society” isn’t the most felicitous phrase, nor the most memorable sound-bite. But that may be for the best. What it lacks in mellifluousness, it makes up for in deadly accuracy... Read the Rest
The Funniest Thing I Saw This Week
(h/t MP)

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