July 12, 2012 [LINK / comment]
House votes to repeal Obamacare
In a gloriously futile gesture that will accomplish nothing but accentuate the crass political aspect of what should be a serious policy issue, the U.S. House of Representatives voted to repeal the Affordable Care Act ("Obamacare") yesterday. The vote was 244-185, with five (brave or fearful?) Democrats crossing party lines. See the Washington Post. Do I agree with the majority opinion in this case? OF COURSE! (I clicked "Like" on Rep. Eric Cantor's Facebook status update.) Do I think they should have devoted valuable floor time to voting on it? NO! There is not a snow ball's chance in hell that the current U.S. Senate will vote to repeal Obamacare, so the only purpose of this vote was to help Republican candidates win congressional elections this fall.
Facebook friend Kevin Gutzman wrote about the constitutionality of Obamacare at theamericanconservative.com. He questions fellow scholar Richard Leffler for relying upon Supreme Court Chief Justice John Marshall, whose writings in question -- McCulloch v. Maryland (1819) and Gibbons v. Ogden (1824) -- were three decades after the Constitution went into effect; not exactly "original." Gutzman emphasizes that a proper originalist understanding of the Constitution comes from the text of the ratification debates in the 13 states, which got underway after the constitutional convention completed its work in Philadelphia in September 1787. It was Leffler himself who edited a compilation of those debates. Gutzman writes:
Those volumes show that Virginia Federalists explained the Constitution in their state's ratification convention in such a way as to foreclose enactment of statutes such as the Obamacare law.
In other words, the Constitution would never have been ratified if it had been understood in terms of an expansive view of Federal powers, upon which Obamacare has been justified.
For a perfect example of how not to respond to the Supreme Court decision, read George Getz at conservativehq.com, the Web site run by professional right-wing agitator Richard Viguerie. Sarcastic excerpt: "Thank you, Chief Justice John Roberts, for this shocking betrayal." Ugh. Getz thinks that ruling will motivate more "conservatives" to vote this November. (Regarding the Kelo ruling, which Getz cited, see my July 28, 2005 blog post.)
4th of July politickin'
Speaking of Obamacare and politics, I passed by the Democrats' tent in Gypsy Hill Park on July 4, and was amused by the big "I Like Obama-Care" banner, so I took a photo from a discreet distance:
[Not far away, I also stopped at a Republican tent and chatted with the people who were there. I had not met them before. It seems that efforts are under way to restart the Staunton Republican Committee, which underwent a hostile takeover a few years ago. Hopefully, the right lessons have been learned.] Meanwhile, intrepid blogger (and part-time deep-sea diver) Steve Kijak covered the Fourth of July parade, which I missed.
I was surprised to get a call yesterday afternoon from someone who was recruiting volunteers to help with President Obama's voter registration drive. WTF??? Presumably my innocent and non-political "Happy Birthday" wish to El Presidente last August put me on a list of potential Obama supporters. I politely informed the young woman that I would probably vote for Mitt Romney, or else for Gary Johnson, but not for Obama.
Romney's campaign trail
Mitt Romney spoke to the national convention of the NAACP in Houston yesterday, making an earnest and daring appeal to African-American voters:
If you want a president who will make things better in the African American community, you are looking at him.
The crowd responded with a chorus of boos, as they did when he unapologetically pledged to repeal Obamacare if elected; see the Washington Post. Carl Tate mentioned that unfortunate incident on Facebook, and in response to someone who said that Romney was just pandering to his base, I wrote:
That's just it: Romney doesn't HAVE a base, because he has always been ultra-pragmatic, appealing to a broad spectrum of the population. Now it may be that his speech to the NAACP was pandering to the GOP "Base," the folks who distrust him, but the key to victory for him is proving to independents that he means what he says, and I think he succeeded in this case.
A Romney campaign bus (sans candidate) made a stop in Staunton yesterday morning, but I missed it because I was working on our church garden several miles out of town. Del. Dickie Bell told the assembled crowd that the federal government had become too powerful, "and Mitt Romney is the person to reign it in." See newsleader.com for more.
"About" page update
I have updated the "About" page, with more details on my religious affiliation and responsibilities (I was elected to the vestry of my church last December), and revised notes about my current and past status in the local Republican Party. "It's complicated." For archival purposes, I kept the old version just the way it was, with a changed file name: "About_2010".