Taking Credit Where None Is Due - NYTimes.com

House Republicans haven’t been responsible for a single bill that has had a positive impact on the economy. But they want to take credit for the recovery, arguing that they stopped the Democrats from taking actions like raising taxes on the very rich. “In many ways our greatest success is the things we’ve stopped,” said David Schweikert, an Arizona freshman.

The public is unlikely to be persuaded by these absurd boasts. It’s hard to see how these lawmakers will explain to voters that they are responsible for a recovery they have worked so hard to block.

Hard to see? I don’t think so.

"Imagine what would have happened to this economy if we had let Obama and the Democrats get their way. Thanks to us this country is getting back on its feet, because we stopped their job-killing legislation." —some Republican on Fox

It doesn’t have to be true, or even make sense. It only needs to be something that their supporters can repeat, and by which they can replace an obvious fact. Conservatives want to believe them, and will; they just need to know the story that explains why.

A Nation Of Laws … Or Of Men?

As I’ve said many times, the ONLY reason a judge or a justice would call themselves and “Originalist” or “Constitutionalist” is because that theory does not respect precedent. Ignoring precedent turns our entire system of laws on its head.

Everything, every law EVER passed by Congress, is up for repeal if the Supreme Court rules that ObamaCare’s Medicaid expansion doesn’t comply with the Commerce Clause. They will be re-defining past decisions in order to reverse a Congressional act.

Frankly, that may be the point: Conservative politicians have argued for decades that Social Security and our entire social safety net have critical unconstitutional provisions. Despite their claims, this had been considered “settled law” for decades.

The Federalist Society was one of the original Social Security opponents. Alito, Thomas, Roberts and Scalia have all been members at one point or another. If you think the ruling on ObamaCare will be about healthcare reform alone, you are wildly mistaken.

Adding to what Blumenthal, et al. are saying: I think they understate the case a bit, or at least it could be stated more forcefully and clearly, that SCOTUS would do itself and the country serious damage if it overturned the mandate.
The thing is, as of the time the law was passed, *everyone* across the political spectrum thought this thing was constitutional. The Heritage Foundation started it, the D’s finished it, and the whole way down no one thought it ran afoul of the Constitution (save for people considered fringe at the time).

What this says is that Congress and the entire country were relying on the precedents SCOTUS set to pass the law—and they spent almost two years and untold legislative resources doing it. That’s the whole point of stare decisis, allowing for predictability with respect to what the law allows. Stare decisis is what makes sure the courts don’t act arbitrarily by constraining them to fit within precedent.

Acting in ignorance or with disregard for precedent (and precedent’s practical attendants, like reasonable beliefs in the public about what the law is) undermines rule of law, makes it impossible to pass laws confident of their legality, etc. It is, in a word, arbitrary. It’s the kind of thing they do in developing countries.

If SCOTUS ditches stare decisis here, sure their credibility will take a hit, but more importantly: we, as a polity and individuals, would have no reason to think we could pass any major regulatory legislation (unless, of course, we took the political commitments of the justices as our guide). SCOTUS would be potentially freezing the statutory law in place. What is Congress supposed to do with its time if everything it thought it knew about the law gets chucked out the window? How does it pass legislation? How does it change *existing* legislation? Are only Republican Congresses allowed to pass laws?

Stare decisis and all the reasons we follow precedent command that the mandate passes. I’ve already gotten overly maudlin, but if the mandate is overturned, we’re ruled by men, not laws.

barackobama:

peterfeld:

The Republicans are going to feel pretty stupid for spending the last three years fusing “Obama” and “care” in the public mind.

As David Axelrod put it the other day:
“Can you imagine if the opposition called Social Security ‘Roosevelt Security’? Or if Medicare was ‘LBJ-Care’? Seriously, have these guys ever heard of the long view?”

barackobama:

peterfeld:

The Republicans are going to feel pretty stupid for spending the last three years fusing “Obama” and “care” in the public mind.

As David Axelrod put it the other day:

“Can you imagine if the opposition called Social Security ‘Roosevelt Security’? Or if Medicare was ‘LBJ-Care’? Seriously, have these guys ever heard of the long view?”

quickhits:

Why you should be counting the stations that drop Limbaugh, not the advertisers.

Jeff Bercovici, Forbes:
The eight (and counting) advertisers who have pulled their sponsorship from “The Rush Limbaugh Show” to protest its host’s sexist attack on a female law student are making headlines. They’re making a statement.  Maybe they’re winning some new fans who admire the stand they’re taking.
What they’re not doing, more than likely, is causing Limbaugh any serious financial pain. The conservative radio star made $64 million last year, putting him at No. 23 on the FORBES Celebrity 100. The vast majority of that, more than $56 million, comes from his deal with Premiere Radio Networks, with the remainder coming from his online operations and book sales.
The complete details of Limbaugh’s eight-year, $400 million contract aren’t known, but much of it takes the form of guaranteed money, with Limbaugh having claimed publicly that he received at least $100 million as a signing bonus. Like some other top-tier radio stars, including Ryan Seacrest, Limbaugh does hold back some of the commercial time during his program and keep the revenues from it. Higher ad rates yielded Limbaugh an extra $6 million last year.

Michael Harrison, publisher of Talkers magazine, says Limbaugh advertisers will either come back (explaining the statements about “suspended” advertising) or be easily replaced. “We’ve seen this many times in the past,” he says. “Some of the advertisers that left will come back, and some will be replaced. Life will go on.”
Rush Limbaugh isn’t on a bazillion stations because he’s so popular. Instead, the reverse is true; he’s become popular because he’s on a bazillion stations. Clear Channel owns Premier Radio Networks, which runs the show, and they push Limbaugh because they want him to be heard, not because they want him to make money for them. Limbaugh would continue even if all that was left to him were PSAs about lifting with your knees.
If Limbaugh is to really be held responsible for crossing the line, you’ve got to hit him where he lives — at your local station. Because he doesn’t need advertisers to survive. Ad revenue is not the point.

quickhits:

Why you should be counting the stations that drop Limbaugh, not the advertisers.

Jeff Bercovici, Forbes:

The eight (and counting) advertisers who have pulled their sponsorship from “The Rush Limbaugh Show” to protest its host’s sexist attack on a female law student are making headlines. They’re making a statement.  Maybe they’re winning some new fans who admire the stand they’re taking.

What they’re not doing, more than likely, is causing Limbaugh any serious financial pain. The conservative radio star made $64 million last year, putting him at No. 23 on the FORBES Celebrity 100. The vast majority of that, more than $56 million, comes from his deal with Premiere Radio Networks, with the remainder coming from his online operations and book sales.

The complete details of Limbaugh’s eight-year, $400 million contract aren’t known, but much of it takes the form of guaranteed money, with Limbaugh having claimed publicly that he received at least $100 million as a signing bonus. Like some other top-tier radio stars, including Ryan Seacrest, Limbaugh does hold back some of the commercial time during his program and keep the revenues from it. Higher ad rates yielded Limbaugh an extra $6 million last year.

Michael Harrison, publisher of Talkers magazine, says Limbaugh advertisers will either come back (explaining the statements about “suspended” advertising) or be easily replaced. “We’ve seen this many times in the past,” he says. “Some of the advertisers that left will come back, and some will be replaced. Life will go on.”

Rush Limbaugh isn’t on a bazillion stations because he’s so popular. Instead, the reverse is true; he’s become popular because he’s on a bazillion stations. Clear Channel owns Premier Radio Networks, which runs the show, and they push Limbaugh because they want him to be heard, not because they want him to make money for them. Limbaugh would continue even if all that was left to him were PSAs about lifting with your knees.

If Limbaugh is to really be held responsible for crossing the line, you’ve got to hit him where he lives — at your local station. Because he doesn’t need advertisers to survive. Ad revenue is not the point.

Crime Is Not Committed By Criminals

letterstomycountry:

Via a friend, I encountered this article about Julio Diaz, whose moral courage demonstrates a very profound truth about the origins of crime:

Julio Diaz has a daily routine. Every night, the 31-year-old social worker ends his hour-long subway commute to the Bronx one stop early, just so he can eat at his favorite diner.

But one night last month, as Diaz stepped off the No. 6 train and onto a nearly empty platform, his evening took an unexpected turn.

He was walking toward the stairs when a teenage boy approached and pulled out a knife.

“He wants my money, so I just gave him my wallet and told him, ‘Here you go,’” Diaz says.

As the teen began to walk away, Diaz told him, “Hey, wait a minute. You forgot something. If you’re going to be robbing people for the rest of the night, you might as well take my coat to keep you warm.”

The would-be robber looked at his would-be victim, “like what’s going on here?” Diaz says. “He asked me, ‘Why are you doing this?’”

Diaz replied: “If you’re willing to risk your freedom for a few dollars, then I guess you must really need the money. I mean, all I wanted to do was get dinner and if you really want to join me … hey, you’re more than welcome.

“You know, I just felt maybe he really needs help,” Diaz says.

Diaz says he and the teen went into the diner and sat in a booth.

“The manager comes by, the dishwashers come by, the waiters come by to say hi,” Diaz says. “The kid was like, ‘You know everybody here. Do you own this place?’”

“No, I just eat here a lot,” Diaz says he told the teen. “He says, ‘But you’re even nice to the dishwasher.’”

Diaz replied, “Well, haven’t you been taught you should be nice to everybody?”

“Yea, but I didn’t think people actually behaved that way,” the teen said.

Diaz asked him what he wanted out of life. “He just had almost a sad face,” Diaz says.

The teen couldn’t answer Diaz — or he didn’t want to.

When the bill arrived, Diaz told the teen, “Look, I guess you’re going to have to pay for this bill ‘cause you have my money and I can’t pay for this. So if you give me my wallet back, I’ll gladly treat you.”

The teen “didn’t even think about it” and returned the wallet, Diaz says. “I gave him $20 … I figure maybe it’ll help him. I don’t know.”

Diaz says he asked for something in return — the teen’s knife — “and he gave it to me.

Afterward, when Diaz told his mother what happened, she said, “You’re the type of kid that if someone asked you for the time, you gave them your watch.”

“I figure, you know, if you treat people right, you can only hope that they treat you right. It’s as simple as it gets in this complicated world.”

Unfortunately my finals period has just begun, so I don’t have enough time to properly devote to this story, because it demonstrates so many things about the origins of crime, the purpose of a criminal justice system, the efficacy of punishment versus harm prevention, the alleviation of poverty as a crime-fighting measure, and much more.

All I really want to put forth to you is this: Diaz did not get angry when the boy pointed a knife at him.  He did not get angry that his wallet was being stolen.  He did not become filled with a vindictive sense of outrage and subsequent lust for retribution when the teenager threatened his life in order to obtain his wallet.  Why?  Because he never failed to remember that the boy holding the knife cannot be minimized to a simple label: “Criminal.”  

Crime is not committed by criminals.  Crime is committed by human beings.  And human beings are complex, incentivized, internally inconsistent, self-misunderstanding creatures, possessed of a moral agency which is complicated by multifarious facets, thoughts, influences, incentives, designs, considerations, pressures and motivations.  It is the failure to apprehend the humanity of the “criminal” in our criminal justice system that has lead to its current sorry state: a recidivist-driven two-tiered system in which justice is as blind as the rage that fuels the mobs who call for its application to the fictitious “criminal.”

Diaz, on the other hand, had no rage.  And consequently, he saw the boy perfectly.  Think on it awhile.