“A Harmless Enemy”

Thoughts from Bernard Lewis on the problem with the administration’s foreign policy, particularly in the Middle East:

Is Egypt 2011 like Iran 1979? Lewis: “Yes, there are certain similarities. I hope we don’t repeat the same mistakes.” The Carter administration handled events in Iran “poorly.”

The Obama administration should ponder something, as should we all: “At the moment, the general perception, in much of the Middle East, is that the United States is an unreliable friend and a harmless enemy. I think we want to give the exact opposite impression”: one of being a reliable friend and a dangerous enemy. “That is the way to be perceived.”


Caught With Their Briefs Down

As I wrote yesterday, I was utterly unsurprised by the ruling on ObamaCare (well, OK, I was a little pleasantly surprised at its scope in basically shutting down the entire enterprise). We had, after all, been telling these totalitarians for many months that what they proposed was clearly far beyond the reach of the Commerce Clause. But Jen Rubin notes that apparently the left had been paying no attention to us (“Are you serious? Are you serious?!“) and was very surprised, to the point that they are incoherent and have no actual arguments against it:

The ruling is. . . um. . . thinking of a case liberals hate. . . um. . . just like Bush v. Gore! (Except it has nothing to do with the Equal Protection Clause or any other aspect of that case.) It is, we are told, “curious,” “odd,” or “unconventional.”

These are complaints, not legal arguments. And they suggest that the left was totally unprepared for the constitutional attack on their beloved handiwork. After all, the recent mocking by the left of conservatives’ reverence for the Constitution suggests they are mystified that a 200-year old document could get in the way of their historic achievement. They are truly nonplussed, and so they vamp, not with reasoned analysis but with an outpouring of adjectives.

Once again, we see that the beliefs of the left are hot-house plants. They are nurtured in the protective cocoons of academia, the leftstream media and Manhattan and DC salons, where they are never challenged, and thus never develop proper defenses against the day that they must confront the real world. Non-leftists, on the other hand, must continually make their cases and hone their arguments, which makes the inevitable confrontation all the bloodier when they are ultimately exposed to harsh reality. And of course, some of the most exsanguinatory encounters occur on Fox News, because it’s the only place that puts them both in the same room.

[Update a while later]

The Constitutional moment: ObamaCare meets Madison and Marshall.

This crowd has needed a “constitutional moment” for about century.

I wish that the court would overturn Wickard, but that may have to await some new Justices from a Republican president who actually believes in originalism.

[Update a while later]

As for those on the left who are accusing Judge Vinson of “judicial activism,” they only demonstrate their ignorance of the meaning of that phrase. Simply put, “judicial activism” is the making of new law out of whole cloth via judicial ruling (Roe v Wade being almost a canonical example), not declaring a law unconstitutional.

No Surprise To Me

A judge has ruled ObamaCare unconstitutional in its entirety. Praise be to the morons on the Hill who decided there was no room in a bill of over 2000 pages for a severability clause.

I haven’t had time to read the ruling obviously, but I’m sure that others are doing so, and will have thoughts. It isn’t clear whether or not the ruling enjoins the government from enforcing the law, but I’m pretty sure that this will accelerate SCOTUS review.

Oh, and Queen Nancy? Remember when someone asked you about the constitutionality of this atrocity, and you asked if they were serious? I think this answers that question.

[Update a few minutes later]

Professor Jacobson weighs in:

Judge Vinson found that there was no need for an injunction, since the declaratory judgment that the entire law was invalid was sufficient. In effect, there is nothing left to enjoin, since no part of the law survived. By contrast, in the ruling in Virginia last year invalidating the mandate, the Judge severed the mandate from the rest of the law (but denied an injunction preventing the rest of the law from taking effect).

In this sense, this decision is far more sweeping than the Virginia case, and presents a greater problem for the Obama administration which arguably does not have authority to implement any aspect of Obamacare.

In a sensible world of course, in which the Democrats had any political integrity, this would accelerate the momentum toward repeal. I mean, if I had already delegated my oath of office to the courts, and got such a devastating rebuke, I’d certainly reconsider if my vote had been wise. And a president who wasn’t power mad would be willing to acknowledge his mistake as well, and willingly rectify it with his signature on a repeal bill.

But that’s not the world we live in.

[Update a couple minutes later]

Americans for Limited Government has a release:

For Immediate Release Contact: Rick Manning (press); Rebekah Rast (TV & radio)

January 31, 2011
Phone: (703) 383-0880

Florida Judge Rules ObamaCare Unconstitutional, ALG Responds

January 31st, 2011, Fairfax, VA—Bill Wilson, President of Americans for Limited Government, released the following statement after Florida Judge Vinson ruled ObamaCare unconstitutional.

“For the second time, the federal courts have ruled that the federal government’s takeover of the health care system is unconstitutional. Congress needs to act now to defund the regulation writing on this unconstitutional law to prevent further damage from being done to our nation’s health care system. It is clear with a majority of states suing to stop the law, that it is unpopular, unconstitutional and unenforceable. Congress needs to act now to correct this mistake.”

With all Americans increasingly concerned about the unsustainable debt Obama and his cohorts have imposed on taxpayers, stopping any further advance of ObamaCare is vital to getting our fiscal house in order. First, stop any further regulation or dictates to the states. Second, repeal the law outright. And finally, move with common sense, market-based proposals to make the necessary repairs. Judge Vinson, following the ruling by Judge Hudson, has done a great service to the American people by beginning this crucial process.”

Indeed he has.

[Update a couple minutes later]

You know, it’s no surprise that unconstitutional bills get passed by a congress that contains members of a brain trust like Chuck Schumer:

“We have three branches of the government: we have a House, we have a Senate and we have a President…”

Hey, knowing basic civics is for the little people.

[Update a while later]

A summary of the decision by Dave Kopel.

I should note that it is becoming more clear now that the judge’s order was in effect a de facto stay against the law, so any enforcement of it by the administration will be in violation of that order. This should go to appellate like a rocket, if it doesn’t go straight to SCOTUS (as a result of the conflicting rulings from other districts).

[Update a while later]

Well, that didn’t take very long. According to the totalitarians, it is an act of judicial overreach and activism to point out that the Constitution places limits on the powers of the federal government.

Expect To See A Lot More Of This

People are starting to point out the potential similarities between 1979 Iran and 2011 Egypt. Thoughts from Michael Ledeen, Victor Davis Hanson, and Flopping Aces.

The Shah was no saint, but is Iran and the rest of the world better off, three decades later (or at any time over the past thirty years) for having deposed him and replaced him with a brutal theocracy? This is a situation where one should hope for the best, but fear the worst. And the history of that part of the world doesn’t give great cause for optimism. And the fact that we (incredibly as that may be) seem to have a president even more lacking feck than Jimmy Carter just depresses all the more.

I’m Confused

OK, for years, people who claim to be my intellectual betters on foreign policy (and pretty much everything else), and particularly about the Middle East, have been telling me that the root cause of the problems in the Middle East is the “occupation” of disputed territories in the West Bank and Gaza, and that we won’t be able to make any progress without solving that issue. It is what motivates Arab anger, and animates their protests.

Well, surely if this is the case, with all of the apparent anger and ongoing revolt in Cairo, we should be seeing many reports on the ground of protesters with angry signs against the Zionist entity, right? Or have I just missed them somehow?

Faster, Please

Researchers at Scripps have converted skin cells directly to heart muscle:

“This work represents a new paradigm in stem cell reprogramming,” said Scripps Research Associate Professor Sheng Ding, Ph.D., who led the study. “We hope it helps overcome major safety and other technical hurdles currently associated with some types of stem cell therapies.”

I found this an interesting (and flawed) analogy, though:

“In 11 days, we went from skin cells to beating heart cells in a dish,” said Ding. “It was phenomenal to see.”

Ding points out the protocol is fundamentally different from what has been done by other scientists in the past and notes that giving the cells a different kind of signal could turn them into brain cells or pancreatic cells.

“It is like launching a rocket,” he said. “Until now, people thought you needed to first land the rocket on the moon and then from there you could go to other planets. But here we show that just after the launch you can redirect the rocket to another planet without having to first go to the moon. This is a totally new paradigm.”

Actually, I don’t know anyone who thought that except for people who were promulgating a straw-man argument against the Vision for Space Exploration. For instance, some claimed that Bush’s plan was foolish because it proposed “building a Kennedy Space Center on the moon.” But the plan was never to land on the moon, and then depart from there for other planets. It was to utilize the resources of the moon to provide propellants and other consumables to interplanetary ships already in orbit, and save the expense of launching them all from earth. It may well be that this is equally economically impractical in the near term, but it’s not what the critics (and the Scripps researcher) seem to think it is.

By the way, the article says that these researchers are scientists, but I think they’re engineers. Or perhaps some blend of both.

Biting Commentary about Infinity…and Beyond!

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