SUPREME COURT DECISION ON OBAMACARE ALL ABOUT ROBERTS, ‘HIS OWN MAN’ … COURT GIVES WE THE PEOPLE HUGE FIRST AMENDMENT FREE SPEECH WIN … SPEAKING OF WINS, A WIN FOR BIANCHI … plus … SUNS LOSE AT BWP
By DAN VALENTI
PLANET VALENTI News and Commentary
ADD#1 FRIDAY JUNE 29, LATER IN THE DAY — Readers may be interested in our ADD #2 addition to yesterday’s column that reported our compliance with the judge’s ruling.
(FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE, FRIDAY, JUNE 29, 2012) — Now back to our usually scheduled programming, before we were so rudely interrupted …
Yesterday, the Supreme Court of the United States issued an important and historic decision on Obamacare. In the decision on Obamacare, the court’s most important case since the Al Gore-George W. Bush “hanging chad” vote that handed the presidency to “W,” the justices essentially upheld President Obama’s landmark healthcare initiative. We haven’t yet read the opinion, and despite the need for American to adopt a workable version of National Health, our concerns about Obamacare remain, particularly the First Amendment issue of forcing Catholic institutions to “cooperate with the intrinsic evil of killing innocent life in the womb” (Bishop Daniel Jenky of Peoria, Ill).
Another aspect of the case caught out fancy. That would be the stunning swing vote of Chief Justice John Roberts.
Roberts: A Man who is ‘His Own Man’
In none of the pre-vote analysis did we read did the “experts” and wise guys predict Roberts would side with the court’s liberal faction. Roberts had been safely counted as against Obamacare by both sides. Most of the predictions we read though it would come down to Justice Anthony Scalia. It didn’t. Therein lies our most immediate fascination with yesterday’s vote: How Roberts refused to be typecast, rejecting as he did the political litmus test that conservatives and liberals alike wanted to place on his service.
As Reuters put it, “Roberts’ action instantly upended the conventional wisdom that he would vote with his four fellow conservative justices … and undercut the agenda of a Democratic president, who as a senator in 2005 opposed Roberts’ appointment for the bench.”
Imagine that. We have man who, at the highest levels of the “game,” operates as his own man. We love that, irrespective of the decision itself. We love it anytime someone operates according to principle rather than ideology, especially when it “upends conventional wisdom.” In hindsight, perhaps Roberts’ vote should have been foreseen, because since coming to Washington, the chief justice has held steady on his goal to “preserve the integrity of the judiciary in polarized Washington.”
At this level of the judiciary and of national affairs, that is believably unbelievable.
Transcending Ideological Belief
Again, from Reuters: “While he has voted consistently with the conservative bloc on social issues, such as abortion rights and racial policies, Roberts in his public remarks has suggested that he seeks, as chief, to transcend an ideological label. He routinely refers to the court’s place in history and has bristled at polls and public commentary that suggest the high court acts in the same political realm as the two elected branches of government.
“Indeed, in his comments during oral arguments in the healthcare case, Roberts hinted that he could be open to siding with the government. He expressed concern that the court over which he presides might be seen as ignoring more than 75 years of precedent and rolling back U.S. law to the New Deal era. The last time the Supreme Court struck down a major act of Congress was in 1936, when the court invalidated a federal law that limited work hours and prescribed minimum wages for coal workers.”
Romney, Obama Weigh In
As far as Obamacare itself as policy, not much is clear. GOP nominee Mitt Romney, in a statement his campaign sent to PLANET VALENTI, said, “Today, the Supreme Court upheld Obamacare. But regardless of what the Court said about the constitutionality of the law, Obamacare is bad medicine, it is bad policy, and when I’m President, the bad news of Obamacare will be over. It was always a liberal pipedream that a 2,700 page, multi-trillion-dollar Federal Government takeover of our health care system actually could address the very serious problems we face with health care. With Obamacare fully installed, government will reach fully half of the economy – that is the recipe for a struggling economy and declining prosperity.
“On Day One,” Romney said, I will work to repeal Obamacare to stop the government’s takeover of our health care and intrusion in our lives. I will push for real reform to our health care system that focuses on helping patients and protecting taxpayers. We cannot afford Barack Obama’s on-the-job learning, Big Government proposals, and irresponsible spending. Our basic liberties are at stake – and I will fight to restore our freedoms, renew the respect for our Constitution, and halt the government takeover of health care. This November it’s all on the line. The stakes couldn’t be higher.”
Jim Messina, Obama’s campaign manager, said, “It’s been a good day, but this is a three-step process. 1. Pass historic health-care reform. Check. 2. Get affirmation from the highest court. Check. 3. Win the damn election. Mitt Romney has been clear he’d repeal Obamacare on Day One. Just another reminder on how much is at stake in November.”
SCOTUS Sides with First Amendment: Even Lies are Protected Speech
In the other decision by the nation’s highest court, one just as important for the health of America, justices ruled in a 6-3 vote that deliberate lying is protected as free speech under our precious First Amendment.
In what has been called “a stolen victory for free speech,” in US v Alvarez, the court decided that a public officials lies about his military record is constitutionally protected free speech. Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote the opinion for the majority.
From the website hotair.com:
“In United States v. Alvarez, No. 11-210, a highly anticipated First Amendment case, the Court held six to three that the Stolen Valor Act is unconstitutional. The Stolen Valor Act, 18 U.S.C. § 704, makes it a federal crime to lie about having received a military decoration or medal, punishable by up to a year in prison if the offense involved the military’s highest honors. The key issue in this case is whether knowingly false statements of fact – made without any apparent intent to defraud – are a protected form of speech, and if so, what level of protection they deserve.
“Justice Kennedy announced a plurality opinion – joined by the Chief Justice, Justice Ginsburg, and Justice Sotomayor – and concluding that the Stolen Valor Act infringes on protected speech. The plurality reasoned that, with only narrow exceptions, content-based restrictions on speech face strict scrutiny, and are therefore almost always unconstitutional. False statements of fact do not fall within one of these exceptions, and so the Stolen Valor Act can survive strict scrutiny only if it is narrowly tailored to a compelling government interest. The Court concluded that the Stolen Valor Act is unconstitutional because the Government had not shown that the statute is necessary to protect the integrity of the system of military honors – the interest the Government had identified in support of the Act.”
Huge Victory for Freedom
This is a huge victory for the First Amendment. According to the court, the First Amendment is broad enough to cover intentional lies, as long as (a) the lier wasn’t trying to defraud and (b) the lier is not under oath before a court of law. From The Daily Caller: “The implications of this decision are difficult to fully appreciate, as it merely confirms what we as Americans have always assumed to be true — namely, that we have a right to free speech that the federal government cannot abridge. However, had the ruling gone the other way, it would have set an extremely dangerous precedent that would have allowed the government to carve out a virtually limitless number of exceptions to the First Amendment.”
Read more: http://dailycaller.com/2012/06/28/united-states-v-alvarez-a-win-for-first-amendment/#ixzz1z9HJTaUV
Bedrocks Must Remain Anchored in Place
The First Amendment, free speech, and freedom of the press are the bedrocks of this grand experiment called the United States of America. When justices uphold free speech, we all win. When a judge orders free speech duct-taped across the mouth, we all lose. Judicial infringements upon free speech and freedom of the press, the Supreme Court is saying, are unconstitutional. We all win.
Yes, this includes THE PLANET.
CALL IT A WIN FOR BIANCHI
You can call it a win. It was a win for Mayor Dan Bianchi, who stepped up in light of intense neighborhood pressure. It was a win for the owners of 15 Stoddard Avenue, who said their building would no longer be available. It was a win for Dwyer Funeral Home, which didn’t want a methadone clinic in the area. It was also a win for Spectrum Health Systems, since it will still get its clinic within the city limits of Pittsfield and will end up in a what will most likely be a better location for the company.
As THE PLANET reported, Mayor Bianchi met with Debbie Dwyer and another concerned citizen on Tuesday about the location of the clinic. Of course, even without the meeting, the mayor was well aware of the feelings in Morningside against the clinic. A lively crowd at the council meeting showed up in the evening, ready to make its case.
Confidentiality Is Always a Concern
We still don’t know the terms of the confidentiality agreement, the result of an out-of-court settlement in wake of Spectrum’s lawsuit against Pittsfield for preventing the clinic from going on Summer Street in the Berkshire Nautilus Building. Did it have to do with the Stoddard Street location or with some other matter. In general, and most all the time in particular, when the public’s business is done behind closed doors, the public loses out. Granted, there are times when secrecy can be justified, but, without knowing what’s in the confidentiality itself, it’s hard to judge in this case. That’s the irony of any form of institutional secrecy.
Of course, that is why We The People elect representatives. Elected officials who act on The People’s behalf must make those judgments when the doors are closed to normal open session. The discussion now is between the city and Spectrum to find a suitable location for the treatment center.
BUDGET PASSES WITH NEARLY $4 MILLION INCREASE AND ANOTHER TAX HIKE
On another key issue, it’s harder to determine who made out best. We speak of the city of Pittsfield budget. The spending plan calls for an appropriation of more than $133 million. This represents a $3.8 million increase in spending, which will like result in a tax hike of just under 3%. To hear the Special Interests complain, as the Pittsfield School Department advocates did, Mayor Bianchi’s initial budget was draconian and the worst thing since rusted Brillo. Of course, that’s a time-honoroed tactic: Cry out about “cuts” when what is really going on is that your rate of increase isn’t going up as fast as it did the year before.
The private and public sectors set budgets in opposite fashion. In the private sector, say your household, for instance, if you’re a responsible person, you take a look at your expected income for the year, and you budget accordingly. If you think your income is going down, you find a way to tighten the belt. The public sector does it in reverse. It decides first how much it wants to spend, and then it appropriates the money. It does this because government has one advantage over Mary Jane and Joe Kapanski: Taxpayers. Mary Jane and Joe can’t tax themselves.
A Hike is a Hike is a Hike
The just-under 3 percent tax hike is lower than what Pittsfield citizens have been used to, but a hike is still a hike. Two-point-something percent becomes a lot of money when you are presently pressed for every cent. In this type of environment, it’s hardly a solace that the arts generate $25 million locally. In Pittsfield, the number is far lower, and it stands as evidence that city leaders have for a generation lost out on the opportunity to rebuild the city economy after GE left town. The 14,000 high-paying, high-benefits manufacturing jobs will likely never return, but the city needs in its place more than the service jobs made possible by the recreation and resort sector.
This creates a service economy that will pay minimum wage or slightly more, with few benefits. Such jobs are OK for high schoolers and others just starting out, but try to support a family turning down beds in a hotel room, bussing tables, or asking, “Would you like butter on your popcorn?” It can’t be done.
An Arts Economy is a Low-Wage Economy
An R&R economy will bring some new money into the area, but it tends to be seasonal and it doesn’t circulate well. Those with discretionary income, most of whom live outside the Berkshires, will come here and pay for expensive theater and performance tickets. They will eat in our restaurants and sleep in our hotels. There money, though, goes to the venues themselves, who — in classic trickle down fashion — pay out service-type wages.
The recent report on the economic impact of the arts should provide all the more incentive for city officials to press even harder for an economic revival based on manufacturing and technology. To say it can’t be done is to ensure failure, and there’s been too much of that of late.
TITANS SET DOWN THE SUNS AT BWP, 7-6
By Greg Gillmore
Special to PLANET VALENTI Sports Courtesy of the Pittsfield Suns
PITTSFIELD, MA – The Torrington Titans were able to hold on and overcome some shaky fielding to defeat the Pittsfield Suns by a score of 7-6 on Thursday Evening.
Gus Craven (Columbia) led the way for the Titans as he finished the evening with two RBI’s while Travis Landry (Franklin Pierce) got the win on the mound after coming on in relief. The Sun’s starter Zach Ferris got the loss. Ferris fanned one over 4.1 innings of work and allowed 6 earned runs on five hits.
The Suns were led by Ryan Deitrich (University of Pennsylvania) who had two RBI’s and Rob McLam (UMass-Amherst) who collected two hits on the evening. Adam Krebs (Keystone) and Tito Marrero (Long Island) pitched well in relief for the Suns as they didn’t allow a hit over 4.2 innings of work.
The Suns jumped out to an early lead as they were able to put runs across in each of the first four innings and knock out Titans starter Jordan Scheiner (Colby Sawyer). The Titans battled back and batted around in the third inning as they were able to score five in the inning. Gabe Craven (Florence-Darlington) got the big hit for the Titans as he drove in two runs in the inning with a bases loaded single.
The Titans weren’t done as they scored one run in the fourth and fifth inning as well. In the fifth Ryan Plourde (Fairfield) hit his second home run of the season, which gave the Titans a 7-5 lead. In the bottom half the inning the Suns battled back and were nearly able to tie the game after a couple of defensive miscues by the Titans. The Titans made three errors in the inning which allowed Jimmy Riccoy (UMass-Lowell) to score after he singled to start the inning.
After the fifth inning the Titans turned to the bullpen again and used three different pitchers to end the game. Austin Barnes (Hartford), Alex Moore (Lee) and Michael Joseph each pitched a scoreless inning, and Joseph (Middlebury) was able to strand the tying run at second base with a strikeout to end the game. Joseph earned his first save of the season with the performance.
With the win the Titans improve to 9-5 on the season while the Suns drop to 7-10. The Suns are in action next on Friday as they travel to Nashua for a 7:00 game against the Silver Knights.
THE ENEMIES OF FREE SPEECH GO, LIKE MURKY BIRDS OR BUCCANEERS THAT SHAPE THEIR LAWLESS FIGURES ON THE MAIN,AND STAUNCHLESS, TEND TO BANISH UTTERLY THE UNSEEMLY ORDER THAT HAS LODGMENT HERE (with apologies to Hardy).
“OPEN THE WINDOW, AUNT MILLIE.”
LOVE TO ALL.