If you support our national security issues, you may love and appreciate the United States of America, our Constitution with its’ freedoms, and our American flag.
If you support and practice our fiscal issues, you may value worldly possessions.
If you support and value our social issues, you may love Judeo-Christian values.
If you support and practice all these values, that is all good; an insignia of “Wisdom” . - Oscar Y. Harward
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Tuesday, February 23, 2010
ConservativeChristianRepublican-Report - 20100223
Promoting "God's Holy Values and American Freedoms"!
"Practice isn't the thing you do once you're good. It's the thing you do that makes you good." -- Malcolm Gladwell
"Well done is better than well said." -- Benjamin Franklin
"The praise that comes from love does not make us vain, but more humble." -- James M. Barrie
"Daily Devotions" (KJV and/or NLT)
Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men. (Matthew 4:19 -- NASB)
Like many people, I have never found witnessing to come naturally and easily. By nature I'm a shy, reserved person; initiating conversations with strangers is sometimes difficult for me. Even sharing the greatest news ever announced - that "God loved the world so much that He gave His one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life" (John 3:16) - is not always easy for me.
So it might seem incongruous that God called a shy young man to launch an evangelistic ministry on the campus of UCLA, a ministry which would become Campus Crusade for Christ International. Witnessing, and training laypeople to witness, is our primary calling. I don't even know if evangelism is my spiritual gift.
What I do know is that God has made it crystal clear in His Word that every Christian is to "go and make disciples of all the nations, ... teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you..." (Matthew 28:19-20).
I've tried to be obedient to this command, and God has honored my obedience. God has transformed my personal witness from one of shy hesitancy to one of confident initiative.
If you're thinking that "it may work for someone else, but not for me," you're not alone. But if He can do it for me, He can do it for you, too.
Your View of God Really Matters …
Are you following Jesus? Are you learning to fish for lost souls? If not, why not? Are you afraid? Maybe you need to be trained. Today, take the next step in learning to fish. Keep following Jesus.
"The Patriot Post"
"The natural cure for an ill-administration, in a popular or representative constitution, is a change of men." --Alexander Hamilton
"A man's most valuable trait is a judicious sense of what not to believe." --Greek playwright Euripides (485-406 B.C.)
"The habit of common and continuous speech is a symptom of mental deficiency. It proceeds from not knowing what is going on in other people's minds." --British journalist Walter Bagehot (1826-1877)
"The bigger the government, the less I do for myself, for my family and for my community. That is why we Americans give more charity and devote more time to volunteering than Europeans do. The European knows: The government, the state, will take care of me, my children, my parents, my neighbors and my community. I don't have to do anything. The bigger question in many Europeans' lives is, 'How much vacation time will I have and where will I spend that vacation?' That is what happens when the state gets bigger -- you become smaller." --radio talk-show host Dennis Prager
"Many people ask me whether the Democrats are in as much trouble as they were in 1994. The numbers suggest they are in much deeper trouble, at least at this moment." --political analyst Michael Barone
"When the president directed that Khalid Shaikh Mohammed and four other al Qaeda plotters of Sept. 11 be tried in a civilian court in Manhattan, [our] enemies knew they had the president's number for once and all. Now, with even stalwarts in his own party denouncing a civilian trial in Manhattan as the nut-ball idea of the year, he's looking for a smart solution, a way to look tough in retreat. He should take the trial to San Francisco, where the flame that warms the cult burns brightest, and where surely no one would object." --Washington Times editor emeritus Wesley Pruden
"[E]verything the president proposes means more debt, which at the level this guy's spending means, at some point down the road, either higher taxes or total societal collapse." --columnist Mark Steyn
"Americans are not victims who need handouts. Americans need the freedom to flourish. And until our president realizes this, he, and America, will lose out." --National Review editor Kathryn Lopez
"We must present a clear choice: stay the course of progressive liberalism, which moves away from popular consent, the rule of law, and constitutional government, and toward a failed, undemocratic, and illiberal form of statism; or correct course in an effort to restore the conditions of liberty and renew the bedrock principles and constitutional wisdom that are the roots of America's continuing greatness." --Heritage Foundation scholar Matthew Spalding
"America's future is clear: Unless we start cutting spending and take control of entitlement programs, our children will go broke making good on our promises. ... The government can never spend its way out of recession. It can only get out of the way, through lower tax rates and less costly regulation, and allow private business to grow again." --columnist Rich Tucker
Repent for the end is near: "If health care doesn't pass, because this budget assumes health care will pass, that's yet another $150 billion that would be tacked on to the deficit." --NBC's Chuck Todd regurgitating the BIG LIE that paying out more government dollars on "health care" is going to save money
Hoping for ObamaCare: "The president outlines a number of measures to reduce the deficit, over $1 trillion worth. But ... perhaps the most surprising, the budget assumes a savings of $150 billion over the next 10 years from health care reform, legislation that is at the very best -- at the most optimistic -- on life support on Capitol Hill right now." --ABC's Jake Tapper (The best and most optimistic would be for ObamaCare to be in the morgue.)
Blame the GOP: "Republicans should know that their partisanship means they are rejecting medical security that is available in most countries of the world for its citizens. Shame on them!" --White House press corpse reporter Helen Thomas
"Tea-party people are libertarians, and on the state level, they are organizing around the notion of using the 10th Amendment (which affirms state's rights) to overturn health-care legislation -- should it still pass by some miracle. It's hard to take their rhetoric seriously. Where else could they go in the world to be freer? It reminds me of the slogan shouted at antiwar protesters, 'America, love it or leave it.'" --Newsweek's Eleanor Clift (You first.)
Poor guy: "If the president of Toyota has big headaches, well, so too, does the president of the United States, putting together a budget in an economic downturn with more than 15 million Americans out of work." --CBS's Katie Couric
Bully pulpit could have a whole new meaning: "[Obama] needs one or two [Republican] votes in the Senate to get anything passed. That's the political reality. But he needs to, perhaps, bully Republicans into doing that, rather than doing this careful walk around them." --Newsweek's Katie Connolly
Newt Gingrich CPAC 2010 Speech Pt 1 of 3
Newt Gingrich CPAC 2010 Speech Pt 2 of 3
Newt Gingrich CPAC 2010 Speech Pt 3 of 3
Very Good Thoughts on Life
I walked into the grocery store not particularly interested in buying groceries. I wasn’t hungry. The pain of losing my husband of 57 years was still too raw. And this grocery store held so many sweet memories.
He often came with me and almost every time he’d pretend to go off and look for something special. I knew what he was up to. I’d always spot him walking down the aisle with the three yellow roses in his hands.
He knew I loved yellow roses. With a heart filled with grief, I only wanted to buy my few items and leave, but even grocery shopping was different since he had passed on.
Shopping for one took time, a little more thought than it had for two.
Standing by the meat, I searched for the perfect small steak and remembered how he had loved his steak.
Suddenly a woman came beside me. She was blonde, slim and lovely in a soft green pantsuit. I watched as she picked up a large package of T-bones, dropped them in her basket.. hesitated, and then put them back. She turned to go and once again reached for the pack of steaks.
She saw me watching her and she smiled. ‘My husband loves T-bones, but honestly, at these prices, I don’t know.’
I swallowed the emotion down my throat and met her pale blue eyes.
‘My husband passed away eight days ago,’ I told her. Glancing at the package in her hands, I fought to control the tremble in my voice. ‘Buy him the steaks. And cherish every moment you have together.’
She shook her head and I saw the emotion in her eyes as she placed the package in her basket and wheeled away.
I turned and pushed my cart across the length of the store to the dairy products. There I stood, trying to decide which size milk I should buy. A Quart, I finally decided and moved on to the ice cream. If nothing else, I could always fix myself an ice cream cone.
I placed the ice cream in my cart and looked down the aisle toward the front. I saw first the green suit, then recognized the pretty lady coming towards me. In her arms she carried a package. On her face was the brightest smile! I had ever seen. I would swear a soft halo encircled her blonde hair as she kept walking toward me, her eyes holding mine.
As she came closer, I saw what she held and tears began misting in my eyes. ‘These are for you,’ she said and placed three beautiful long stemmed yellow roses in my arms. ‘When you go through the line, they will know these are paid for.’ She leaned over and placed a gentle kiss on my cheek, then smiled again. I wanted to tell her what she’d done, what the roses meant, but still unable to speak, I watched as she walked away as tears clouded my vision.
I looked down at the beautiful roses nestled in the green tissue wrapping and found it almost unreal. How did she know? Suddenly the answer seemed so clear. I wasn’t alone.
Oh, you haven’t forgotten me, have you? I whispered, with tears in my eyes. He was still with me, and she was his angel.
Every day be thankful for what you have and who you are.
This is a simple request. If you appreciate life, send this to your friends, including the person that sent it to you.
Even though I clutch my blanket and growl when the alarm rings. Thank you, Lord, that I can hear. There are many who are deaf.
Even though I keep my eyes closed against the morning light as long as possible. Thank you, Lord , that I can see. Many are blind.
Even though I huddle in my bed and put off rising. Thank you, Lord, that I have the strength to rise. There are many who are bedridden.
Even though the first hour of my day is hectic, when socks are lost, toast is burned, tempers are short, and my children are so loud.
Thank you, Lord, for my family. There are many who are lonely.
Even though our breakfast table never looks like the picture in magazines and the menu is at times unbalanced.
Thank you, Lord, for the food we have. There are many who are hungry.
Even though the routine of my job often is monotonous. Thank you, Lord, for the opportunity to work. There are many who have no job.
Even though I grumble and bemoan my fate from day to day and wish my circumstances were not so modest.
Thank you, Lord, for life.
Pass this on to the friends you know. It might help a bit to make this world a better place to live, right? A friend is someone we turn to when our spirits need a lift. A friend is someone to treasure.
For friendship is a gift. A friend is someone who fills our lives with Beauty, Joy and Grace and makes the world we live in a better and happier place.
YOU ARE MY FRIEND!
God bless you and yours.
Morning Bell: The White House Learned Nothing from Massachusetts
In July of this year, the American people were mostly undecided about Obamacare: equal numbers opposed and supported the health care bills that the White House was shepherding through Congress. But then August happened and informed Americans turned out at townhalls across the country to express their strong disapproval of Obamacare. The larger American public noticed and pluralities of the American people began to oppose Obamacare. The White House concluded they had a “communications problem” so they scheduled a prime time speech in front of a rare Joint Session of Congress. But the President’s speech arrogantly dismissed the concerns of the American people and after a brief uptick in support (from the low 40s to the mid 40s), opposition to the President’s plan grew.
Then in November, liberals lost governor’s races in New Jersey and Virginia as opposition to President Obama’s signature policy priority inched towards 50%. Again the White House concluded that nothing was wrong with their policy agenda and they dismissed their setbacks in two states that had voted for President Barack Obama as local elections with weak candidates. Instead of rethinking their policies and procedures the White House doubled down and pushed for a speedy passage of Obamacare with as little debate as possible. Over the next two months the White House bought support for their health care plan with the Louisiana Purchase, the Cornhusker Kickback, and big labor tax breaks. And their behind-closed-doors, backroom-deal tactics almost worked … until Massachusetts happened.
Just like in August and November, Sen. Scott Brown’s (R) upset win over Attorney General Martha Coakley (D) took the Obama administration completely by surprise. Again, the White House concluded they had a “communications problem” so this time they scheduled a six-hour health care summit that is supposed to take place at The Blair House, across the street from the White House, this Thursday. But like everything else that has come out of the Obama administration during this health care debate, the President’s effort to “seek common ground” at the summit is completely disingenuous. The New York Times reported this past Friday that the White House is drafting, and will release this morning, a final health care bill they expect Congress to pass quickly. And this bill is specifically designed to pass without any conservative support:
Democratic officials said the president’s proposal was being written so that it could be attached to a budget bill as a way of averting a Republican filibuster in the Senate. The procedure, known as budget reconciliation, would let Democrats advance the bill with a simple majority rather than a 60-vote supermajority.
And a “simple majority” does not mean they need 51 Senators. The nuclear option the White House is now pushing, reconciliation, only requires the Obama administration to muster 50 votes before Vice President Joe Biden can cast a tie breaking vote in favor of a government takeover of health care.
And make no mistake, a government takeover of health care is exactly what Obamacare is. Just last night the White House revealed that one new feature of their legislation will be to give the federal government sweeping new authority to set prices for health insurance. This is on top of the sweeping new authority that Obamacare already grants the federal governemnt to micromanage the coverage details of every single health insurance policy in the country. And since the nuclear option only requires 50 Democratic Senators for passage, Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) has signaled that an outright government run health insurance company, the public option, will also be included in the final bill.
There is a reason that the longer this health care debate has dragged on, more and more Americans have become solidly against Obamacare: the plan has been exposed as a welfare state takeover of our health care sector that can only be passed by the most partisan and venal tactics. If the President was capable of listening to the American people, and learning from August, November, and Massachusetts, then he would abandon the legislative disasters still pending in the House and Senate and start over. That is what the American people want.
A cautionary tale in healthcare reform
By Noam N. Levey
Two decades ago, New York passed a law requiring insurers to accept all applicants, even those with preexisting conditions. Now, premiums in the state are the highest in the nation by some estimates.
Reporting from Washington - Spurred by heart-wrenching stories of sick people denied health coverage, the state of New York did what many of President Obama's critics say he should do now -- it passed a relatively simple law requiring insurers to accept all applicants.
Other states have taken similar steps, making narrowly targeted changes instead of trying to overhaul their whole healthcare systems.
But two decades later, New York's experience offers a cautionary tale: Making isolated changes to the complex medical insurance system can have unwelcome consequences.
Premiums in New York are now the highest in the nation by some measures, with individual health coverage costing about $9,000 a year on average. And nearly one in seven New Yorkers still lacks health coverage, a greater proportion than before the law was passed.
The state has become a victim of a dangerous dynamic in insurance markets. Laws allowing consumers to buy insurance at any time often saddle companies with a lot of high-cost customers.
That in turn drives up premiums, pushing away younger, healthier people who are vital to a functioning insurance system.
"You basically can't have a functioning insurance market if people can buy insurance on the way to the hospital," said Mark Hall, a Wake Forest University economist who studied New York's experience.
This issue is now at the heart of one of the biggest fights over Obama's healthcare plan: the so-called mandate requiring Americans to buy insurance -- a requirement that many experts believe is crucial to avoid the problems seen in New York and other states.
"We are sort of a case study of what not to do," said Mark Scherzer, a consumer attorney who helped lead the fight for New York's changes in the early 1990s and is now counsel to New Yorkers for Accessible Health Coverage.
Other states have either abandoned such reforms or been forced to scale them back.
When then-Gov. Mario Cuomo signed New York's insurance law in 1992, many advocates believed the state was charting a path toward affordable, accessible healthcare. Cuomo called the legislation a "forerunner of what we'll [be] seeing nationally."
The law focused on people who did not get health benefits from their employer, forcing them to shop for insurance on their own in what is called the individual market.
To protect these people, state lawmakers approved the "guaranteed issue" provision, which prohibited insurance companies from denying coverage to customers, even those with preexisting conditions.
Such rules became popular in the early 1990s, as states including New Jersey and Washington contended with insurance companies that were denying coverage to people with preexisting health problems.
New York went further, becoming the first state to also include a "pure community rating" requirement that prohibited insurers from varying premiums based on customers' age or health, another common industry practice. Three years later, the state required all HMOs to offer a comprehensive, standardized package of benefits.
The law allowed consumers to buy insurance after they became sick with only a relatively short waiting period. They could also drop it when they no longer needed it.
The New York insurance market did not collapse, as some insurers had warned. But in the ensuing years, more older and sicker New Yorkers bought individual health plans. And premiums shot upward.
Since 2001, the average premiums for a health plan on the individual market in New York has nearly tripled, according to the state Insurance Department. In some counties, it is impossible to buy an individual plan for less than $12,000 a year.
Although New York has higher medical costs than many states, its premiums still outpace other high-cost states.
An informal survey by America's Health Insurance Plans, an industry group, showed that average premiums in New York last year were more than twice those in California and Florida, two other high-cost states.
In New Jersey, which enacted similar insurance rules at the same time as New York, researchers found that the regulations contributed to a 50% decline in enrollment in individual health plans and a two- to threefold increase in premiums.
Kentucky and Washington were forced to roll back their new insurance rules in the 1990s after insurance companies abandoned the state market. In Washington, the three largest insurers simply stopped issuing coverage to individuals.
Today, New York is one of only a few states that have retained both guaranteed issue and pure community rating rules.
That offers New Yorkers who are sick substantially more protections than consumers in less regulated states such as California, Florida and Texas, where people with cancer or other preexisting conditions are routinely denied coverage.
But with premiums continuing to climb, the market regulations are increasingly becoming an empty promise, said Scherzer, the consumer attorney. "You have to be incredibly sick to make it worthwhile," he said.
Obama and congressional Democrats tried to head off the problem confronting New York by including a requirement in their healthcare legislation that nearly all Americans buy insurance.
This so-called insurance mandate alone would not guarantee lower premiums, many experts concede. Insurance rates in Massachusetts, which included a mandate in its landmark insurance overhaul in 2006, remain relatively high.
But there is broad consensus that a mandate would encourage younger and healthier people to buy insurance, spreading risk more broadly and ultimately helping to restrain the growth of premiums.
New York's largest insurer, Empire Blue Cross Blue Shield, a division of WellPoint Inc., has calculated that a mandate could bring down premiums 50% to 60%, Empire President Mark Wagar said.
But the mandate has become one of the most controversial elements of congressional Democrats' healthcare bill, and a reason why the bill is so expensive. Most experts believe that if the government requires everyone to buy insurance, it must provide subsidies for low-income consumers.
Now, Republicans and some Democrats are pushing to remove the mandate.
Before they do, they should look north, said Courtney Burke, who directs the Health Policy Research Center at the Rockefeller Institute of Government in Albany, N.Y.
"They could learn from New York's experience," she said. "If you don't have some kind of incentive for people to participate, you are going to have problems."
Cook County a "Dark Pool of Political Corruption"
New study provides insight into 141+ years of political hijinks
Cook County has been a "dark pool of political corruption" for more than a century, a new study by the University of Illinois at Chicago says.
Nearly 150 employees, politicians and contractors in the nation's second-largest county have been convicted on corruption charges since 1957, according to a report released Thursday by the university and the Better Government Association (.pdf)
The 33-page study gives a history of corruption, starting from 1869 when county commissioners were jailed for rigging a bid to paint City Hall. It also details hiring scandals, including some under Cook County Board President Todd Stroger. Stroger hasn't been charged with any crime.
In the last 36 years, 31 sitting or former Chicago alderman have been convicted of corruption or other crimes. The last was Ike Carothers (29th), who earlier this month plead guilty to charges he accepted gifts in exchange for his votes on zoning issues.
The study says reforms could turn things around, including stricter campaign finance laws and amending a county ethics ordinance.
‘It’s About Jobs, Stupid!’ Says GOP Whip Cantor at CPAC
By Karen Schuberg
House Republican Whip Eric Cantor (R-Va.)
(CNSNews.com) – House Republican Whip Eric Cantor (R-Va.) told a packed auditorium on Friday that government jobs overshadow the private sector and that to grow the economy the private sector must be allowed to flourish.
Cantor made his comments at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) at the Washington Marriott Wardman Park Hotel in Washington, D.C.
“It’s about jobs, stupid!” said Cantor in his opening remarks. “According to the Department of Labor, today there are over 4 million more Americans working for government than are working in the goods-producing segment of our economy. And these government jobs, they're pretty good jobs.”
Cantor also said, “There are now more union members who work for government than work in the private sector. And they've negotiated some pretty darn good deals for themselves too. Did you know that the average salary in the Department of Education is now over $100,000 a year? Average.”
Cantor said that the key to preserving freedom is in allowing private sector jobs to grow.
“To preserve freedom, we need more individuals who are worried about how high their taxes are and less worried about how rich their government benefits are,” he said.
Growing the economy means balancing the budget, said Cantor, and balancing the budget means decreasing taxes and regulations.
“A smaller Washington will result in a bigger America,” he said. “More jobs and more opportunity for all, for everyone, for ourselves and our children. I look forward to joining alongside you in this fight to reclaim the America that we know.”
Cantor noted that not one Republican voted for the Democrats’ $787 billion economic stimulus bill last year and added that government cannot spend its way out of a recession, any more than an individual can spend his way out of credit card debt.
“Let's face it,” said Cantor, “there is no such thing as a free lunch. Every dollar spent must come out of the private sector,” meaning every tax dollar collected and spent by government is one less dollar spent by individuals in the private sector.
Cantor also said that the Republican Party needed to regain the trust of the American people.
“The people need to see our commitment to enact a reform agenda,” he said. “You know, Thomas Jefferson once advised that in matters of style, swim with the tide. In matters of principle, stand like a rock.”
CPAC is hosted annually by the American Conservative Union Foundation (ACUF) and is co-sponsored by more than 90 other conservative organizations. The CPAC is headquartered at the ACUF and it is the Foundation’s largest annual conference. Last year, CPAC’s attendance was 8,500. Organizers estimate up to 12,000 people will attend this year’s conference, which ends on Saturday, Feb. 20.
Supreme Court Justice Barack Obama?
(Sketch by David M. Brinley)
Barack Obama is best suited to be:
Supreme Court Justice
None of the above
This is a non-scientific user poll. Results are not statistically valid and cannot be assumed to reflect the views of Washington Post users as a group or the general population.
By Jeffrey Rosen
He's too detached and cerebral . Too deferential to Congress. Too willing to compromise . And he's too much of a law professor and not enough of a commander in chief, as Sarah Palin recently admonished.
These are some of the qualities for which the president, rightly or wrongly, is criticized. They are also the qualities that make him well suited for another steady job on the federal payroll: Barack Obama, Supreme Court justice.
Think about it. Though Obama has struggled to find his footing in the White House, his education, temperament and experience make him ideally suited to lead the liberal wing of the court, especially at a time when a narrow conservative majority seems increasingly intent on challenging progressive economic reforms for the first time since the New Deal. Obama is clearly eager to take on the four truly conservative justices -- Samuel Alito, John Roberts, Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas -- as his State of the Union smackdown suggests. But as president, he's constrained by that pesky separation of powers. So what better way to engage the fight than to join the bench?
It would be unusual, but not difficult, for Obama to get himself on the Supreme Court. He could nominate himself to replace John Paul Stevens, for example, or he could gamble and promise Hillary Rodham Clinton that he won't run for reelection in 2012 in exchange for a pledge of appointment to the next vacancy. And although as president, Obama has seemed haunted by the example of his political hero, Abraham Lincoln, on the Supreme Court he could take up the mantle of the greatest liberal justice of the 20th century, Louis Brandeis, another community organizer with a background in politics. In the end, Obama's legacy on the court might surpass his legacy in the White House.
Obama's academic credentials for the court -- including serving as president of the Harvard Law Review and teaching constitutional law at the University of Chicago -- are obvious. But it's his even temperament and low boiling point that seem tailor-made for the court at this polarized moment. Obama's patient courtship of the vain and wavering swing votes in the Senate (such as Joe Lieberman) during the health-care debate, for example, is ideal preparation for courting the vain and wavering swing vote on the court (Justice Anthony Kennedy). And Obama's detached and judicious disposition would equip him to challenge the conservative hothead, Scalia, without descending to his name-calling.
In terms of judicial philosophy, too, Obama is well suited to take on the pro-corporate activism of the conservative justices -- on display in the recent Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission decision, which gutted campaign finance laws and which, according to recent polls, strong national majorities oppose.
In his 2006 book, "The Audacity of Hope," Obama wrote that throughout American history, constitutional values have generally been defined by ground-up political activism rather than imposed from above by judges. From the late 19th century to the mid-20th century, it was liberals in the political arena, not conservatives, who defended judicial restraint in the face of activist conservative justices who tried to strike down progressive regulations, from the income tax to the minimum wage. But Obama questioned whether, more recently, liberals had become too ready to let courts fight their battles for them. "I wondered," he wrote, "if, in our reliance on the courts to vindicate not only our rights but also our values, progressives had lost too much faith in democracy."
Obama's commitment to judicial restraint is at odds with the activism displayed by the Supreme Court in its Citizens United decision, which called into question not only the McCain-Feingold campaign finance act but also decades of other federal laws and Supreme Court precedents restricting the free speech of corporations. In defending the ruling, Chief Justice Roberts said: "We cannot embrace a narrow ground of decision simply because it is narrow; it must also be right." This overconfidence in knowledge of the right answer is something Obama didn't display while teaching in Chicago. His students have attested to his mastery in neutrally presenting opposing points of view without revealing his own.
When Roberts joined the court, he told me and other journalists that he hoped to emulate his greatest predecessor, Chief Justice John Marshall, encouraging his liberal and conservative colleagues to avoid polarizing constitutional disputes by converging around narrow, unanimous opinions decided on technical grounds. Now that Roberts appears to have abandoned that vision in Citizens United, Obama could take on the role of Supreme Court mediator, conciliator and master compromiser that Roberts promised to play but has not yet delivered.
It's surprising but true that the least successful presidents are often the most judicious, while the most successful justices are the most pragmatic. Obama's willingness to compromise and listen to opposing points of view, in other words, may hamper him in overhauling health care -- public option, anyone? -- but would make him an unusually effective leader on the Supreme Court. As Obama recognized on the campaign trail when he cited former chief justice and three-time California governor Earl Warren as his judicial hero, the most effective judicial leaders have been former politicians.
During the presidential campaign, Obama was critical of Roberts's self-description as an "umpire" and his likening of the court's role to simply calling balls and strikes. "We need somebody who's got the heart, the empathy, to recognize what it's like to be a young teenage mom," Obama said. "The empathy to understand what it's like to be poor, or African American, or gay, or disabled, or old."
But Warren's success as chief justice came not so much from his ability to empathize with the downtrodden as from his ability to empathize with his colleagues. Because of his political skills, Warren achieved the kind of success that has eluded Roberts: He persuaded a fractious court to reach a unanimous decision in Brown v. Board of Education, the landmark case striking down school segregation, by visiting the wavering justices one by one and persuading them to set aside their doubts. A majority of the justices on the court that decided Brown had a background in electoral politics; no justices on the Roberts court do. In a group of former law professors, prosecutors and trial judges, Obama would look like a political wizard.
There's another distinctive perspective that he would bring to the bench: economic populism. After a long flirtation with the Tim Geithner, pro-Wall Street, "too big to fail" wing of the Democratic Party, Obama has at last thrown in his lot with the view, espoused first by Brandeis and now by former Federal Reserve chairman Paul Volcker, that huge corporations should be broken up before they threaten another crash. And this view badly needs a stalwart defender on a Supreme Court that seems on the verge of confronting an economically progressive Congress.
On the Roberts court, the liberal and conservative justices share a pro-business orientation, or at least a suspicion of regulation by litigation: Business cases in recent years have made up 40 percent of the court's docket, and, according to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, 79 percent of them are decided by a 7 to 2 majority or greater. None of the current liberal justices, moreover, had a strong record as an economic populist before joining the court. At a time when liberals need a passionate voice to oppose conservative economic judicial activism, Obama seems well prepared to transform the debate.
Louis Brandeis, who served on the high court from 1916 to 1939, offers a good model for Obama. Known as "the people's lawyer," he was an economic populist, criticizing the "curse of bigness" that led oligarchs such as J.P. Morgan to threaten the entire financial system by taking reckless risks with "other people's money" and then to demand government bailouts after their bad bets. But Brandeis opposed bigness in government as well as in the private sector, and during the New Deal he preferred regulations that prevented companies from getting too large in the first place -- such as the Glass-Steagall Act separating commercial from investment banking -- rather than the creation of huge federal bureaucracies to regulate the economy.
On the high court, Brandeis generally stood for judicial restraint, denouncing conservatives for striking down progressive state economic regulations. But he also believed fiercely in the First Amendment and freedom from unreasonable searches. Both a pragmatist and a civil libertarian, he provides a judicial ideal for Obama, whose record resembles his in many respects.
So, could it actually happen? David Gergen, the CNN commentator who served as an adviser to Presidents Nixon, Ford, Reagan and Clinton, recently reflected on Obama's State of the Union speech in an appearance on Comedy Central's "Colbert Report." Although he praised Obama's intellectual abilities and presidential campaign, he lamented his "detached" and "professorial" attitude once in office. "There was some sense last night when watching Barack Obama and the Supreme Court sitting in front of him, [that] he'd be great on the Supreme Court," Gergen said.
But could Obama get confirmed? As a senator, he voted against the confirmations of Roberts and Alito, and GOP lawmakers might hold that against him in his own confirmation hearing. Yet, although it would be hard for a Brandeis to be confirmed in today's polarized age, Obama might get some deference as a former president, at least from senators who would rather have him on the court than in the White House.
Whether Obama would be bored by the Supreme Court is another question. Justices with presidential ambitions have often chafed at the isolation of the marble palace. For example, William O. Douglas -- who wanted the presidency, according to his friend Tommy Cochran, more than Don Quixote wanted Dulcinea -- never stopped complaining that the court was too removed from the political action. But having seen the frustrations of the White House, perhaps Obama would instead come around to the view of William Howard Taft, who became chief justice after serving as president and decided that leading the court was a far better job than leading the country. The summer vacations are longer, and nothing beats life tenure.
Jeffrey Rosen, a law professor at George Washington University, is the legal affairs editor of the New Republic and the author of "The Supreme Court: The Personalities and Rivalries That Defined America.
"The e-mail Bag"
Letter from Grandpa
John G. is 63 years old and owns a small business. He’s a life-long Republican and sees his dream of retiring next year has all but evaporated. With the stock market crashing and new taxes coming his way, John assumes now that he will work to his dying day.
John has a granddaughter. Ashley is a recent college grad. She drives a flashy hybrid car, wears all the latest fashions, and loves to go out to nightclubs and restaurants. Ashley campaigned hard for Barack Obama. After the election she made sure her grandfather (and all other Republican family members) received a big I told-you-so earful on how the world is going to be a much better place now that her party is taking over.
Having lost both roommates, Ashley recently ran short of cash and cannot pay the rent (again) on her 3 bedroom townhouse. Like she has done many times in the past, she e-mailed her grandfather asking for some financial help.
Here is his reply:
I received your request for assistance.
Ashley, you know I love you dearly and I’m sympathetic to your financial plight. Unfortunately, times have changed. With the election of President Obama, your grandmother and I have had to set forth a bold new economic plan of our own…”The Ashley Economic Empowerment Plan.” Let me explain.
Your grandmother and I are life-long, wage-earning tax payers. We have lived a comfortable life, as you know, but we have never had the fancier things like European vacations, luxury cars, etc. We have worked hard and were looking forward to retiring soon. But the plan has changed. Your president is raising our personal and business taxes significantly. He says it is so he can give our hard earned money to other people. Do you know what this means, Ashley? It means less for us, and we must cut back on many business and personal expenses.
You know the wonderful receptionist who worked in my office for more than 23 years? The one who always gave you candy when you came over to visit? I had to let her go last week. I can’t afford to pay her salary and all of the government mandated taxes that go with having employees. Your grandmother will now work 4 days a week to answer phones, take orders and handle the books. We will be closed on Fridays and will lose even more income to the Wal-Mart.
I’m also very sorry to report that your cousin Frank will no longer be working summers in the warehouse. I called him at school this morning. He already knows about it and he’s upset because he will have to give up skydiving and his yearly trip to Greenland to survey the polar bears.
That’s just the business side of things. Some personal economic effects of Obama’s new taxation policies include none other than you. You know very well that over the years your grandmother and I have given you thousands of dollars in cash, tuition assistance, food, housing, clothing, gifts, etc., etc. But by your vote, you have chosen to help others — not at your expense — but at our expense.
If you need money now sweetheart, I recommend you call 202-456-1111. That is the direct phone number for the White House. You yourself told me how foolish it is to vote Republican. You said Mr. Obama is going to be the People’s President, and is going to help every American live a better life. Based on everything you’ve told me, along with all the promises we heard during the campaign, I’m sure Mr. Obama will be happy to transfer some stimulus money into your bank account. Have him call me for the account number which I memorized years ago.
Perhaps you can now understand what I’ve been saying all my life: those who vote for a president should consider the impact on the nation as a whole, and not be just concerned with what they can get for themselves. What Obama supporters don’t seem to realize is all of the money he is redistributing to illegal aliens and non-taxpaying Americans (the so-called “less fortunate”) comes from tax-paying families.
Remember how you told me, “Only the richest of the rich will be affected”? Well guess what, honey? Because we own a business, your grandmother and I are now considered to be the richest of the rich. On paper, it might look that way, but in the real world, we are far from it.
As you said while campaigning for Obama, some people will have to carry more of the burden so all of America can prosper. You understand what that means, right? It means that raising taxes on productive people results in them having less money; less money for everything, including granddaughters.
I’m sorry, Ashley, but the well has run dry. The free lunches are over. I have no money to give you now. So, congratulations on your choice for “change.” For future reference, I encourage you to try and add up the total value of the gifts and cash you have received from us, just since you went off to college, and compare it to what you expect to get from Mr. Obama over the next 4 (or so years. I have not kept track of it, Ashley. It has all truly been the gift of our hearts.
Remember, we love you dearly….but from now on you’ll need to call the number mentioned above. Your “Savior” has the money we would have given to you. Just try and get it from him.
Good luck, sweetheart.