Jeb Bush is Certifiable

Jeb Bush was in Iowa last week sticking his toe in the water to see if he really could win the general by losing the primary.  I have to give him credit; he’s willing to stick to unpopular positions, even if they are politically toxic.  He reiterated his support for Common Core, which is unpopular with some conservative activists, and opposed renewal fuel standards, which although they are not popular with Republicans in general, are popular in Iowa. So he’s not afraid to run against the grain. But I just can’t, in this or any other parallel universe, imagine Jeb Bush winning the Republican nomination.     Jeb Bush

David Frum wrote a piece in The Atlantic last month describing Bush as a Republican version of Obama in that they have created artificial identities to hide behind.  In Bush’s case, he is from a northeastern WASP family via Texas and now regards himself as an adopted Hispanic, speaking Spanish in the home, converting to Roman Catholicism, and moving to the Capital of Latin America, Miami.   He may be the Republican Obama, but that’s not really his problem.

I don’t think Jeb will be the nominee because:

Last name Bush. Dynasties don’t wear as well with Republicans as they do with Democrats. If Carolyn Kennedy threw her pill box shaped hat in the race, she would have a decent shot because…last name Kennedy. And this is even though she’s an incompetent who blew her chance to be appointed senator by being unable to talk in interviews. Hillary is the Democratic “front runner” now only because of dynasty.

His family is messed up.  His wife isn’t comfortable in English (probably because of the practice of speaking Spanish at home), She also has a shopping problem. All of his kids have been arrested at least once and his daughter was a drug addict.  Not exactly a picture perfect first family.

But the real clincher is that the only national issue Jeb is associated with is amnesty, which is unpopular with the base.  Now of course whoever does end up with the nomination will probably be pro amnesty too since any anti-amnesty candidate won’t be able to get the funds to run. Republican donors are as pro amnesty as Chuck Schumer. But the other candidates will be associated with other issues. Jeb won’t. And on that issue he looks vacillating and contradictory. As I have written about previously, he came out with a book in 2013 about amnesty in which he proposed not offering a path to citizenship. Since he had always supported amnesty with citizenship before, on day 1 of his book tour he was asked why he changed his mind, and he stammered and it turned out he hadn’t changed his mind at all. So the first day of his book tour he disavowed the central premise of the book he was trying to sell. That will come up over and over in 2016.

Of course, what Jeb was hoping for was that by the time 2016 rolled around, amnesty would have been a done deal, and he could have pointed to the book to say, “See? I was opposed to citizenship!” That would place him to the right of the actual policy. I think the odds look poor for that now.

As a governor he wasn’t bad and was pretty tight with the State dollar, however he didn’t have any input in Federal areas like immigration. Frum’s article does make a good case for the similarities between Jeb and Obama, but I think the real take away is that when it comes to immigration, Jeb is certifiable. He seems to have no other passions other than illegal immigrants. And it’s not even a logical obsession.  It’s actually more about preferring Latin Culture and people to the more Anglo variety that Jeb hails from.  How else to explain the illogic of wanting to grant people who illegally cross the border amnesty (who are mostly Hispanic), but deport people who actually entered the country legally, but overstayed their visas (and who are primarily not Hispanic)?   Never has an American politician been so blatant about replacing me and my family with someone else that he likes better. Bush is obviously carrying around some mental issues about his fellow Americans.

The Democrats are far more circumspect than this.

I hate to be one of those, “I’ll never vote for…” types who swear they’ll never vote if McCain/Romney/fill in the blank wins the nomination, but I think Jeb would actually be worse than any conceivable Democrat.  Except maybe Congressman Luis Gutiérrez, and even then, I’m not sure Gutiérrez is as obsessed with illegals as Jeb is.

 

 

My Burwell Bet

Supreme Court

 

The Supreme Court is hearing oral arguments today for yet another Obamacare case, this time, it’s King v. Burwell.  What’s the case about?  In short, from the text of the ACA:

“…the monthly premiums for such month for 1 or more qualified health plans offered in the individual market within a State which cover the taxpayer, the taxpayer’s spouse, or any dependent (as defined in section 152) of the taxpayer and which were enrolled in through an Exchange established by the State under 1311…”

The key phrase is “an Exchange established by the State.”  So since most States didn’t set up an exchange forcing people into the Federal exchange, none of the subsidies given for health plans through the Federal exchange are legal.  The ACA plainly stated that subsides could only go through State exchanges and the IRS, which crafted a rule allowing subsides through the Federal exchange, overstepped its boundaries outside of the text of the law and is in error.  This should be an open and shut case.  The IRS violated the text of the law, it was wrong, and subsidies should be halted from going through the Federal exchange, right?

Heh!

I don’t believe the law has anything to do with how the Supreme Court arrives at decisions.  If there were any questions to that, the way the Court handled the individual mandate should settle them.  The Court is a political animal.  If it were ever truly interested in a just and reasoned weighing of law and the Constitution, those days are long passed. Of course that makes it easier for me to predict the Court’s behavior.

That’s how I was able to predict the Court’s decision over the individual mandate.  As I wrote then:

“My gut feeling is that the odds are better than even that the court will uphold the mandate.  I base that on the fact that the mandate has 4 automatic votes for.  So that means that only one vote is needed to be swayed among the other five Justices who actually have to study this case (unlike Ginsberg and Breyer, who will be windsurfing instead of reading law books). “

I was right because the Court decision (Robert’s changing his vote) was purely political.  So since I’m feeling cocky, I’ll go ahead and lay my marker down now.  So in spite of the actual text of the law limiting subsidies to State exchanges, I predict that the Court will find against the plaintiffs and rule that the subsidies can pass through the Federal exchange.  The 4 liberal judges will of course vote to uphold the subsidies because…Obama.  The magical swing vote will either be Kennedy or Roberts.  If Kennedy votes against the plaintiffs, then Roberts, to save the law, will vote for.  But if Kennedy votes for the plaintiffs; abolishing the Federal subsidies, then Roberts will vote against, since he will then have a free vote to show his independence; as long as it means nothing.

Of course, I could be totally wrong and the Court could surprise me.  But no breath holding on my part.

 

 

 

 

Crusades VS ISIS: What’s the difference?

The President kicked up quite a ruckus last week during the National Pray Breakfast when in his remarks he compared ISIL to the Crusades. 

No really.  First the warm up:

But we also see faith being twisted and distorted, used as a wedge — or, worse, sometimes used as a weapon.  From a school in Pakistan to the streets of Paris, we have seen violence and terror perpetrated by those who profess to stand up for faith, their faith, professed to stand up for Islam, but, in fact, are betraying it.  We see ISIL, a brutal, vicious death cult that, in the name of religion, carries out unspeakable acts of barbarism  — terrorizing religious minorities like the Yezidis, subjecting women to rape as a weapon of war, and claiming the mantle of religious authority for such actions. 

We see sectarian war in Syria, the murder of Muslims and Christians in Nigeria, religious war in the Central African Republic, a rising tide of anti-Semitism and hate crimes in Europe, so often perpetrated in the name of religion.

So how do we, as people of faith, reconcile these realities — the profound good, the strength, the tenacity, the compassion and love that can flow from all of our faiths, operating alongside those who seek to hijack religious for their own murderous ends?

So he is clearly putting his remarks in context with events that are occurring now.  But then, the swerve:

Humanity has been grappling with these questions throughout human history.  And lest we get on our high horse and think this is unique to some other place, remember that during the Crusades and the Inquisition, people committed terrible deeds in the name of Christ.  In our home country, slavery and Jim Crow all too often was justified in the name of Christ.  Michelle and I returned from India — an incredible, beautiful country, full of magnificent diversity — but a place where, in past years, religious faiths of all types have, on occasion, been targeted by other peoples of faith, simply due to their heritage and their beliefs — acts of intolerance that would have shocked Gandhiji, the person who helped to liberate that nation. 

So all of you people who are part of the coalition that’s fighting the Islamic State, hey, you’re not so great.  You are really as bad as the people you’re bombing.

Some pep talk huh?

I have to admit, I do find that mindboggling. Moral relativism is for academics and unemployed hipsters, not the President. The only reason to try to compare ISIS today with the Crusades centuries ago is to excuse ISIS. In the same week that a Jordanian pilot was burned alive by ISIS, the President feels the need to make a comparison with the Crusades? How does that help the coalition that he ostensibly leads?  Can you imagine FDR making the same comparisons with Hitler’s Germany?

“Troops, before you storm the beaches of Normandy, risking your lives to liberate France, just remember, you are no better than the people you are fighting.  Sure the Nazi’s are killing and enslaving people, but what do you think our country has done?  Massacred Indians enslaved Africans.  Really, we’re no better than the people I’m ordering you to kill.  So get to it!”

Basically the President is saying his side is no better than their side.

At a time in which the insane overreach of the Islamic State has lead to an opportunity to unify the Middle East against the IS, the President blew a chance to make it clear that the west was going to stand with Muslims and others who wished to support it against barbarians.  Instead he brought up the Islamist’s favorite go-to scare story about the West, the Crusades, and condemned his own side for thinking it was better than they were.

 

 

 

Scott Walker Peaking Too Early?

Scott Walker’s “surprise” win of the Kansas Straw Poll may be a shock to the establishment, but its zero surprise to me. Walker’s win has generated a flurry of articles on Walker as well as an appearance on This Week. But as far back as a year ago, I predicted Walker would probably be the best all around choice for the 2016 Republican primary process. He’s a governor of a purple/blue State who rose to national prominence battling the budget, pension reform, and unions.  He is attractive to both establishment types for a solid record of actually winning, and grass roots types for the ability to take on and wrestle to the ground left leaning special interests; something that’s not seen much these days.Scott Walker

Walker’s national prominence came about with his fight with Wisconsin public sector unions.  I wrote about the skirmish back in 2011 and thought at the time that Walker’s victory could have spelled the beginning of the end for public sector unions.  Alas, so far that victory has remained just Walker’s.   But the enmity he earned from both local and national Democrats and the left in general lead to a recall election, which Walker won handily.

By Republican standards, Walker is a stand out success story.  He battled the left and rather than backing down under a barrage of negative press, which Republicans traditionally do, Walker stuck to his guns and won a pretty substantial victory. Compare that to Jeb Bush, who’s sat out the various political battles since the 1990’s and now expects to ride in on a golden, donor financed chariot to be crowned the nominee based on the divine right of Bushes.

The Republicans do have a deep bench, at least compared to the Democrats.  In fact the Democrat’s bench consists of one person, Hillary Clinton.  If she gets sick, the Dems are in trouble for 2016. But the Republican’s bench consists of establishment types that are anathema to the base of the party, like Jeb Bush, and social conservative types that are anathema to the establishment like Mike Huckabee. The converged area on the Venn diagram of candidates that both the base and establishment can live with is almost as limited as the Democrats presidential bench.

Walker’s major problem with the base is his immigration position.  Walker has tried to be cagey and hold every position on the issue at once.  He has both supported a path to citizenship and made vague comments about fixing the system.”  However the fixing doesn’t seem to include border security or a wall.  In other words, he’s a pro amnesty open borders type, which should please the establishment wing.  Although I would love to make amnesty a disqualifier, the fact is there are no, I mean zero commonly mentioned Republican potential 2016 candidates that oppose amnesty.

In any case if Walker does enter the race, he’ll have to quit being cagy about immigration and speak directly to the issue.

But immigration isn’t even his biggest problem yet.  When I made my prediction on Walker last year, it was based on the idea that the talking heads and establishment media wouldn’t pay any attention to Walker until at least the Iowa Caucuses. But the results of the Kansas straw poll show that plenty of other Republicans were thinking along the same lines as I was.  The media has rediscovered Walker this week and they will remember in short order that they despise him. Walker is like Sarah Palin and Allen West combined, with a little Tom DeLay sprinkled on top. It’s too bad he couldn’t have flown under the radar a while longer, but if there is one Republican who knows how to fight back, it’s Scott Walker.

 

Free Speech Thoughts by Bill Maher

The post I wrote last week felt naggingly incomplete to me for some reason.  My purpose was to note that President Obama shouldn’t have gone to the Paris march since he of course wasn’t “Charlie” and had a record of being critical of satire aimed at Islam.  And also to note the irony that the world leaders who did show up at the march were not “Charlie” either.  They came from governments that restricted free speech in one way or the other.

It was another grim reminder on how rights can be taken for granted at the same time they are being quietly taken apart.  And this brings me to Bill Maher.

Maher isn’t in any way a favorite of mine, and the last time I watched him with any regularity he had a show on ABC.  Hey I wonder whatever happened to that…  But for someone who is part of the American left in the 21st Century, he still retains a little of the old 20th Century liberal in him.  Gather round children, because you may not believe it, but there was a time when liberals actually favored free speech, even when it wasn’t politically correct!  Even when they opposed the message!  I know, it’s hard to believe huh?

Of course Maher has had more reason than most liberals to care about freedom of expression as a concept, rather than merely as an obstacle that still allows enemies of the left to voice their opinions.  Just a few months ago he was heavily protested by his fellow leftists at a speaking engagement at UC Berkeley.

So it was not quite surprising when I ran across a Daily Caller story about Maher.  The story, written by Daily Caller writer Chuck Ross (who must be single handedly producing ¾ of the Caller’s content), was taken from Maher’s show Real Time in which he criticized  a group trying to organize a boycott of sponsors of the Rush Limbaugh show.  That’s what old time 20th Century liberals would do; defend, in Voltaire-like fashion, speech they hate.  I think Maher would much rather be on the attack Rush side than on the defense, but he’s mad at official liberalism right now so he’s firing back. Wait until he starts defending Palin….

The problem with Maher is that his liberalism hasn’t really evolved since the 1970’s. Liberals used to really care about free speech, and took seriously the Voltarian maxim that I may not agree with what you say, but I’ll defend to the death your right to say it. But that’s when they perceived themselves as the underdogs against “the establishment.” Now of course, they are the establishment. And guess what? They don’t like free speech. That’s why they want to regulate the internet, regulate political speech, and that’s why they’ve been pushing the doctrine of political correctness. Whatever speech they can’t make illegal, they want to make it unacceptable.

I’ve been surprised just how quickly the left has abandoned free speech.  Social Justice and Identity politics will not compromise with the Bill of Rights.  They demand total allegiance.

Maher is a dinosaur, and when his kind passes over to…well nothingness since he’s an atheist, the only defenders of free speech will be on the right.

 

President Obama isn’t Charlie

“The Future must not belong to those who slander the prophet of Islam.”

President Obama 2012

Hey, is someone missing in that picture?

The President took a lot of heat this week for not showing up for the Paris March last Sunday.  And by heat I don’t mean talk radio, I’m talking about the President’s own Praetorian Guard, the main stream media.  When you lose both Jake Tapper (CNN) and Andrea Mitchell (MSNBC) you’ve goofed big time. But in retrospect, I think it was probably the right move not to show up.  After a few days introspection, I think that March was dishonest and there wasn’t a clear message that the President wanted to get behind.  Sure, I think it could be safely said that Obama opposes massacres of journalists, but he really doesn’t like satire against Muslims in general and Charlie Hebdo in particular.

In response to the publication of anti Islamic cartoons in 2012 by Charlie Hebdo, this was the White House response:

“We have questions about the judgment of publishing something like this,” White House spokesman Jay Carney said, while adding “it is not in any way justification for violence.”

“We don’t question the right of something like this to be published, we just question the judgment behind the decision to publish it,” Carney said.

This is pretty much in line with the standard American left view of this, although as I’ve documented previously, the left and the First Amendment parted ways many years ago, and in Europe, it was never much more than a talking point anyway.  It would be hard to explain marching in support of Charlie Hebdo after the President’s histrionics about the YouTube video that the administration claimed caused the Benghazi attack. In that case, the administration tried to pressure YouTube to take down the video.

So much for standing up for free speech.  But let’s face it.  Obama is no more on board with the free expression than the rest of the left.

If President Obama marched in Paris, how would he answer a French Muslim that he’s marching to support free speech to insult his religion while at the same time, it’s a crime to question the Holocaust in France, as well as many other countries in Europe?  That’s why free expression is a take-it-or-leave-it proposition.  Once you start creating carve outs to protect some group’s feelings, when do you stop?

Answer:  You don’t.  You only have free speech as long as it’s convenient to the government.  Of course that means that with the changing demographics of France, eventually Blasphemy against Islam will probably be criminalized.

And the French will still think they have freedom of expression.

 

 

 

Cuba on Obama’s Checklist

I have a lot of conflicting thoughts on President Obama’s move to normalize relations with Cuba.  On the one hand, having no diplomatic relations with an island 90 miles from Key West seems an archaic relic of the Cold War.  The reasons for having no diplomatic relations and maintaining an economic embargo made sense when the US was engaged in a chess game with the Soviets, but those reasons are largely irrelevant now. We engage in diplomatic relations and economic trade with plenty of other despotic regimes, why not Cuba too?Raul Castro

On the other hand, Cuba is among a handful of countries that are among the worst of the worst in terms of political and economic repression of its own people.  It’s not quite North Korea, but it would like to be if it could.  It’s in the top 16 or so most repressive countries. It just doesn’t seem that it’s the type of country that we should be reaching out to. But President Obama feels differently…  It’s as if standing fast as a brutal dictatorship pays off in getting the US to say Uncle.  Not for the people of Cuba of course, but for the regime.

Cuban politicians of both parties seem none too happy about the move.  That’s surprising in that the Cuban American community seems split, mostly along an older versus younger axis, at least based on TV news reports.  But then most Cuban politicians fall within that older crowd and began their careers with the passions that were totally uncompromising where Cuba was concerned.

I think the timing of it all though, doesn’t make much sense.  We would have been in a much better bargaining position if we had waited until the Castro brothers were dead and buried.  At that point, Cuba would be more open to changes, and would be more open to the political and economic benefits of opening relations with the United States.  But with Obama, I think he just doesn’t care.  It seems that since the election, he’s decided to work off his lefty check list of things to do before leaving power.  And of course, that means ignoring Congress and doing whatever he wants to do.

Although foreign policy and diplomacy is mostly the providence of the Presidency, with Cuba there is a history of US law in the way.  The embargo is codified into law by the Helms-Burton Act, which the President can’t just wave away without Congress repealing or modifying the law.

Or maybe he can.  I dunno, we live in a new age in which the executive seems to be able to ignore laws he doesn’t like.

Other laws that regulate our relations with Cuba include the LIBERTAD Act and the Cuban Democracy Act.  Is Obama going to ignore them all?  Probably so.  He hasn’t seemed to pay any price for ignoring any other law so why not these as well?

Does the news media even care about these laws?  Not that I can tell.  In fact, based on my viewing of at least one of the network news programs, NBC, the primary impact of normalization of relations with Cuba is that American collectors will be able to purchase classic American cars and Cuban owners of those same classic American cars will be able to purchase parts for them from the US.  All illegal under US law of course, but that went unmentioned in the news reports I saw and sadly, probably not thought of as that important a consideration.