Jun 29, 2012

Will the Law of Unintended Consequences Turn Obama's SCOTUS Victory Into Defeat?

Guest Column by Colin Hanna

It's not a pretty sound, the braying of donkeys. President Obama pretentiously claims that the Supreme Court decision affirming the constitutionality of his health care law is, "a victory for people across the Country." The Huffington Post, in the largest headline I have ever seen on that site, self-righteously blares a single word in red, bold type: JUSTICE. I can only imagine what the likes of Chris Matthews, Rachel Maddow and Sergeant Schultz will say over on MSNBC. But once that tiresome braying dies down, my question is: will the law of unintended consequences take over? Will this ruling have the unintended consequence of reenergizing the Tea Party like nothing else could have done? Will this fuel the money machines of the right, the Republican National Committee, the Romney campaign, his SuperPAC and other outside groups like Crossroads, FreedomWorks, Faith and Freedom Coalition, Americans for Prosperity and the Club for Growth? Will it, as Arizona Congressman David Schweikert said, mean that, from now until November, it's 2010 all over again? I think that's quite likely.

ObamaCare is unpopular with a large swath of America. A recent ABC News/Washington Post poll showed that 53% of Americans oppose the law. Now that it has been justified and unmasked as a tax instead of a mandate, will that suddenly increase its appeal? I think not. So while others on the right are now lambasting the Court and especially the Chief Justice for their decision, I think we should focus our attention instead on the one Court that's actually higher than the Supreme Court: the court of public opinion and the sovereign power of the people at election time. Unless Republicans and conservatives do a terrible job of reminding the public why they did not like this unprecedented expansion of government, this intrusion into the economy and the staggering accumulation of debt that will accompany it, then the ultimate loser may well be President Obama - but by no means the only loser. Democratic Senatorial and Congressional candidates may taste once again the sting of public anger that they faced at the forums of 2009 and the elections of 2010.

The bottom line is really not that complicated. As Mitt Romney said shortly after the decision, "ObamaCare is bad medicine." Senator Marco Rubio said, "What's important to remember is that what the court rules on is whether something is constitutional or not, not whether it's a good idea. And while the court has said that the law is constitutional, it remains a bad idea for our economy, and I hope that in the fall we will have a majority here that will not just repeal this law, but replace it with real solutions that will insure more people and cost a lot less money." That last part will be the key: if conservatives are disciplined and successful in keeping their legislative focus on repeal and their policy focus on what consumer-directed health care would look like if Republicans win back the Senate and White House and hold the House of Representatives, they'll win the day, not Obama and his vision of neo-European statism. Republicans must pose a winning moral argument, not just a material one. Bills like Georgia Congressman, and doctor, Tom Price's H.R. 3000 should now be looked at to see if they meet Senator Mitch McConnell's claim that, "We can do better." The immediate battle cry in the House of Representatives should be "no funding, no implementation, and full repeal." But that will never win the day in the Senate and will never make it to the President's veto pen. But they must not stop there. They do not need to completely finish an alternative bill. That would be futile with this Senate and this President. All they need to do, and it's no small task, is articulate a superior vision that is consistent with the free market system, the Constitution and the values of outside the beltway America. If they do that, this Supreme Court decision could well be seen as the catalyst for a conservative revival. The law of unintended consequences will have rescued our nation from the designs of an oppressive and repressive élite.

Jun 21, 2012

Louis Freeh's investigation: Emails show that top Penn State officials refused to notify child welfare authorities after 2001 incident


The Louis Freeh investigation is starting to come out and things don't look good for Penn State Univiserity. According to Freeh's report, former President Graham Spanier and Vice President Gary Schultz who was in charge of the University Police at the time of the abuse in 2001 exchanged emails suggesting they do not notify child welfare because they were concerned for the former coaches reputation.
Former Penn State President Graham Spanier and another top university official exchanged emails discussing an allegation that Jerry Sandusky molested a boy in a university shower in 2001 but ultimately decided against alerting child welfare authorities, NBC News reported Monday. 
Spanier and former Vice President Gary Schultz, who headed the campus police department, agreed not to take the case to outside authorities out of concern for the retired assistant football coach, according to internal emails obtained by state law enforcement officials and given to NBC. The report aired on the "Today" show Monday.
This should outrage every Penn State alum and fans. The former administration at Penn State headed by Spanier is an embarrassment and should be charged as well as Sandusky for the role in this horrible tragedy.

Senator Toomey opposes the UN Law Of The Sea Treaty

WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Senator Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) announced his opposition to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea treaty, an international agreement governing the use of the world's oceans. The Law of the Sea treaty would compromise the United States' sovereignty by subjecting American navigational rights to an international body that is indifferent, and sometimes opposed, to American interests. In addition, the treaty would compel the United States to transfer billions of dollars in royalties from oil and gas development on the U.S. Outer Continental Shelf to the International Seabed Authority, an unaccountable, multinational organization which would disburse these funds to foreign entities - including many that are openly hostile to the United States. "The United States has the greatest navy in the world, and it has sufficiently protected our navigational rights and freedoms for more than 200 years before the Law of the Sea treaty's existence," Sen. Toomey said. "We do not need to rely on an unaccountable international body to secure these rights. Doing so would only jeopardize American interests, including potentially subjecting us to unlimited litigation and liabilities from others around the world who would challenge our domestic environmental policies. "The United States has a long tradition of opposing the Law of the Sea treaty, beginning with President Ronald Reagan's rejection of the treaty in 1982, and we should continue that tradition today."

Critz up big in latest poll.

VIA our friends at PolticsPA: After a very tough primary where Rep. Critz defeated Jason Altmire, Critz is cruising to victory over challenger Keith Rothfus according to the latest poll.
Critz’s name ID: 57 percent of voters surveyed had an opinion of him (38 percent positive, 19 percent negative). The residual name ID from Rothfus’s own race against Altmire, in 2010 when he lost by 1.4 percent, has faded a bit more. Just 21 percent of voters had an opinion of Rothfus (14 percent positive, 7 percent negative). In the Johnstown area of the district currently represented by Critz (about 30 percent of the district overall) he holds a 60 to 34 percent lead.
Critz has been distancing himself from Obama and considering the demographics of his district that is a good thing in this political climate. Critz also announced he is planning on skipping the Democratic National Convention this week. Considering Critz is pro gun rights and is generally more conservative than former PA Senator Arlen Specter, I think this district can be counted as a conservative win this election cycle. A pleasant shift away from the rule of Critz's old boss, Murtha, who used to be the top dog here.

Winning the Battle but Losing the War

Guest Column by Terry Madonna and Michael Young

The New York Times calls Pennsylvania a “toss up state.” Others have tagged it a “battleground state” and even a “swing state.” Electoral labels aside, Pennsylvania’s 20 electoral votes comprise the second largest prize among the competitive states. Not surprisingly, both presidential campaigns seem to be taking the state seriously despite Barack Obama’s approximate 8-point lead and a string of Democratic victories stretching back to 1988.

But if the Keystone State is in play now, it may not be for long once an impending Supreme Court decision is handed down.

Shortly, the U.S. Supreme Court is expected to announce whether the Affordable Care Act (also known as Obama Care) passes constitutional scrutiny. Most observers expect some or the entire act to be struck down. If this happens the electoral implications will be profound. In fact, striking down all or major portions of the health care law could reshape the ongoing presidential race in ways only now dimly perceived.

Exactly why this is so requires explanation and history provides it. Indeed, American history offers a compelling lesson: in analogous situations to the health care debate: the losing side in major court cases often becomes energized while the winning side often becomes complacent. The nation’s long running legal debate over abortion exemplifies this pattern, although it has existed as far back as ante-bellum Civil War times. Many of the transformative issues of American national life including prohibition, women’s suffrage and even slavery illustrate the principle.

Applying this lesson to health care means a Democratic loss in the Supreme Court could inject a powerful shot of adrenaline into a largely apathetic Democratic Party base. At the same time it would probably undercut the GOP enthusiasm that has been so massively mobilized by opposition to Obama’s healthcare plan.

The converse, while unlikely, is true also. If the Supreme Court does uphold Obama care, it will be Republicans who are energized, with consequences equally as significant for the 2012 election. States now comfortably in Obama’s column could become toss-ups overnight.

How can a single Supreme Court decision hold so much importance to an election? One way to answer this question is to examine the most recent Franklin & Marshall College Poll that asked Pennsylvania voters how they felt about Obama’s health care law.

Statewide, Pennsylvanians are actually divided somewhat evenly on Obama’s healthcare legislation, with about 46% in favor and 48% opposed. But this apparent divided opinion dissolves dramatically when one examines the data along party lines.

Rarely, if ever, is there greater polarization along party lines than exists on this issue. In Pennsylvania eight in ten Republicans oppose the Affordable Care Act, but only about two in ten Democrats do.

The sharp party polarization in Pennsylvania is roughly mirrored in national statistics. The Pew Research Center estimates that nationally 88% of Republicans disapprove of the law, while only 37% of Democrats disapprove.

Opposition to Obama care has been the GOP’s hot button issue in 2012. Consequently, if the Supreme Court scuttles it, the issue that has animated Republican voters more than any other will be mooted. Taking it off the table inevitably effects Republican turnout and support for Romney. How much is impossible to say. But by winning in the Supreme Court, some of the air goes out of the GOP electoral balloon.

Similarly it is impossible to know how much losing in the Supreme Court will motivate Democratic voters . The now relatively quiescent Democratic base, however, might respond vigorously. Certainly Democratic strategists will have new found opportunity to castigate Republicans over issues that have been moribund since Obama care was passed, including uninsured voters and lifetime spending limits.

What this means for Pennsylvania is that a race now seen as more and more winnable for Republicans may instead shift decisively toward Obama and the Democrats. What it means nationally is that a tight race gets tighter still.

Winning on health care reform could cost Republicans the presidency, while losing could give Democrats another term in the White House. If it turns out this way, it won’t be the first time in American history that winning a legal battle lost a political war.

Politically Uncorrected™ is published twice monthly, and previous columns can be viewed at http://politics.fandm.edu.