Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Alito vs. Obama during State of Union

The President took a cheap shot at the Supreme Court during his State of the Union message. As SCOTUS sat politely the President scolded them saying:

“Last week, the Supreme Court reversed a century of law to open the floodgates for special interests – including foreign companies – to spend without limit in our elections. Well I don’t think American elections should be bankrolled by America’s most powerful interests, and worse, by foreign entities. They should be decided by the American people, and that’s why I’m urging Democrats and Republicans to pass a bill that helps to right this wrong.”
Justice Sam Alito couldn't tolerate the misleading claim and could be seen shaking his head and mouthing the words "Not true." Good for the Justice, it was a righteous act. The President's remark was a low blow directed at the least partisan of our three branches of government. But more important than the indignity of the remarks is that they were false.

Firstly, on this point of foreign finagling in our elections, the President is just too late and apparently uninformed (Scary, isn't it? He is scarily ignorant or deliberately forgetful, and either prospect is, yes, scary.) Congress has already passed a bill to insure that foreign entities would not control American elections: It's the Foreign Agents Registration Act of 1996. It prohibits indpendent political commercials by foreign nationals or companies.

Secondly, Justice Anthony Kennedy specifically wrote in Citizens United vs. the Federal Election Commission that the opinion did not address the question of foreign companies.

Thirdly, by chastising the Supreme Court as they sat surrounded by screaming Democrats, he seemed to be messing with the independent judiciary and reshuffling the balance of power. He was definitely sending them a signal. It was a bold, aggressive act by the President and I hope someone will correct his breach of decorum. But he won't fail to remind you that he is appalled by Washington's partisanship.

A few other observations.
I don't know if I've just heard too many of these speeches but this seemed to begin about as sappy as any I've heard. Rolling together Bunker Hill, the Stock Market Crash of 1929 and the 'bloody Sunday' during America's civil rights years as major challenges to our future was lame. The events were widely disparate and not at all parallel in size or significance. Further, on the emotional tone, he couldn't seem to decide whether he was the empathetic, Clintonian president who was 'feeling our pain' or whether he was the defiant, charistmatic inspirational leader, that tells people the hard truths they won't face up to without his pushing their nose up against these harsh realities. Is he the therapist in chief or is he the anointed prophet in chief.

It was good to hear him talk, unexpectedly, about nuclear power plants, clean coal technology and offshore drilling. On the other hand, how he can continue to talk about the ballooning costs of health care and insurance for doctors yet refuse to champion tort reform and unbalanced malapractice claims. Also, why toss in the tired issue of 'Don't ask, don't tell.' As far as I'm concerned, if the military brass doesn't think open homosexuality in the army represents a real compromise of unit bonding, then I guess I don't care. It just seems to be putting a diversity agenda ahead of military readiness

I liked his words on not hiring lobbyists but want to see the FACTCHECKERS on this point. I didn't think he was pure on this issue. Aren't there at least a dozen former lobbyists among his top advisors?

It's always a good rule to ask if the applause lines or policy proposals pass the 'impossibility of the contrary' test. For instance, when a candidate or politician or preacher says something like, "We need to export more of our goods because the more goods we export the more jobs we create." Uh-uh. It is a statement no opponent would disagree with. These are called motherhood and apple pie statements. Everybody loves them. They are without any opponents. Thus from a policy standpoint, they are meaningless. They reveal nothing.
Every public speaker uses them. Presidents love them and that is not a partisan issue.

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