So why did Chief Justice John Roberts side with the liberals on the Supreme Court decision on the Affordable Care Act? Maybe because that was the best way he could think of to ensure that the ACA, commonly referred to as ObamaCare, would die a swift and irrevocable death.
I know, I know, you think I have a screw loose, but bear with me for a moment if you will, while I introduce you to a little piece of strategy I learned in a rather obscure sci-fi novelette called “Second Game,” written by Charles V. De Vet and Katherine MacLean, and first published in 1958.
The Ace Double Reviews published this review of the story:
“Second Game, … is the story of the planet Velda, which has just been discovered by the Earth-centered Ten Thousand Worlds. After warning that they wanted no contact, the Veldians destroyed the Fleet that Earth sent anyway. The narrator,( renowned spy, tactician, infiltrator of other worlds and)chess champion, has learned that the Veldians base their society around proficiency in a Game, somewhat like Chess but more complicated. (Details are sketchy, but it is played on a 13x13 board, and each player controls 26 pieces, or “pukts”.) Equipped with an “annotator”, sort of an AI addition to his brain, the narrator learns the Game and comes to Velda to challenge all comers. He(sets up a booth at a market near the military headquarters and)puts up a sign saying “I’ll beat you the Second Game.” And after probing the opponents’ weaknesses by playing the first game, he does indeed beat them the second time. He finally draws the attention of Kalin Trobt, a high official and thus a proficient Game player. After the most difficult Game yet, the narrator again prevails, but Trobt perceives that he is a human, and arrests him as a spy.
Veldian society is predicated on exaggerated concepts of honor, and on absolute honesty. So the narrator is simply placed under house arrest at Trobt’s house, though he is told that he will die, in the “Final Game.” Over the next couple of weeks, the narrator and Trobt become friends, but the narrator’s fate remains sealed. Both probe each other for secrets about their respective societies, and in particular a biological reason for much of the Veldian situation is revealed. Finally the narrator comes up with a surprising solution to his problem, to Velda’s problem, and eventually to the Ten Thousand Worlds’ problem.” http://www.sff.net/people/richard.horton/aced14.htm
So what solution does the tactician come up with?
Well, he manages to escape off-world with a little help from his Ten-Thousand World contacts. When he gets back to the TTW’s Generals, they are preparing to battle once again with the Veldians, who are more than a little ticked off that their world was infiltrated, their secrets were stolen, and a man they planned to execute for high crimes had help escaping from their justice. They have sent a ship, and the Veldian spaceship has issued an ultimatum: “Surrender, or be destroyed, planet by planet. You have 24 hours.” (Very Borg-ish for a 1958 novelette, eh?)
The clock is winding down. The Generals gather around this brilliant spy/tactician, who knows all the secrets and weak points of the Veldians. “Surrender.” is the spy’s advice. After the initial shock and anger at such a suggestion, the spy/tactician explains why this is their best move. Reluctantly, the generals agree, and the Ten-Thousand World Coalition surrenders it’s worlds to the Veldian ships.
… And the violently xenophobic Veldians have to deploy their people throughout these 10 thousands worlds to maintain law and order. Initially they are sequestered on their ships, but they eventually have to send their people to the planets to get supplies. The individual Veldians begin to interact with the people of the planets and form friendships and relationships. Before long the deployed Veldians, far removed from their home world, become more like the people they rule than the home world they serve. And – what do you know! - over the course of a generation, the once stringently isolated Veldian society is peacefully integrated with that of the Ten Thousand Worlds…
Which was the objective in the first place .. right?
Okay, so back to reality, and Chief Justice Roberts’ decision on Obamacare. Just maybe, here’s how it plays out:
The other Justices are split on ObamaCare, right smack dab down the middle (at this point, the individual mandate is off the radar). Four to kill the whole thing; four to let it stand. It’s a thumbs up or thumbs down, and it’s his thumb.
Thumbs down, and the GOP is ecstatic. They’ve won one for the gipper. But .. objection to ObamaCare is a coalescing issue in the GOP, practically the defining issue. With the war won, everyone can relax now. Which is not exactly a good thing five months before an election. You want people fired up. There’s also the distinct possibility that the general public – especially independents – will be more than a little annoyed at a completely partisan decision from the Supreme Court, *again,* so there’s a real likelihood of an anti-GOP backlash. Oops! Can you say Pyrric victory?
What about a thumbs up on ObamaCare (even though the very thought of it may make him gag a little)? Well, it may give Obama a little boost that his healthcare plan is actually constitutional, but that will pale in comparison to the fire it will light in the GOP base – and the money it will bring in! This will be a coalescing force in the GOP unseen since … well …, the passage of ObamaCare. Every person dissatisfied with the passage of Obamacare (and polling shows 61% of Americans don’t like the idea of being forced to buy health insurance) is a potential Romney vote that won’t be there if ObamaCare is gone. Romney’s chances of getting elected just get rather better if there’s a thumbs up from the SCOTUS on ObamaCare, with a potential 2010-ish sweep of GOP members into both Houses of Congress. If that happens, ObamaCare can be deconstructed completely and decisively by the bodies that wrote it. SCOTUS doesn’t get scorched, Romney gets a major boost, and the anti-Obama peeps still have a major reason to go to the polls. There’s really no downside here .. hmmm …
So, what’s the chance Chief Justice Roberts has just let Obama win the First Game, knowing the GOP will win the “Second Game” this November?
Temp’s gonna be 105 today and feel like 115 with the humidity.
(Tragic irony: This was the Far Side calendar the day before the Twin Towers came down! Wow ..)
Science may be able to explain many things about how our world works, but communicating such things in a way that can be understood by 11 year olds (or the rest of us) is not easy to do. Take a flame, for example: just what the heck is going on there? This video, winner of Alan Alda’s Flame Challenge, explains it in an easy and fun way.
So, what is the Flame Challenge? Back when Alan Alda was 11 years old (this, for the record, was a little bit before M*A*S*H or Scientific American Frontiers or The West Wing), he asked one of his teachers what a flame was and was told “oxidation,” which is more or less meaningless to an 11 year old kid.
After being frustrated by this for 65 years, Alda came up with the Flame Challenge, which asked scientists (or anyone else) to come up with a fun (but scientifically complete) way of explaining the science behind how a flame works to kids. Here’s the winning entry, from quantum physics grad student Ben Ames.
Personally, I don’t think I really understood what flame was until I watched that video. Nice job, Ben, but now that you’ve proven that it’s possible to explain complex concepts in a simple manner, we’re going to start expecting all scientists to be able to do this. In fact, I for one think that from now on, scientists receiving government funding for their research should be required to make videos like these every time they publish.
Half a tank -- oh no!
- I noticed my gas gauge was sitting below half a tank while I was driving home from work tonight. Oh, hell .. gonna have to fill up sometime in the next two weeks. ♥ing my xA and my 1.5mi commute! : PPPPP
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