There will be much written about the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) most recent King v. Burwell decision regarding the Orwellian named, “Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.” Derisively named “Obamacare” by its critics, it was aptly renamed “SCOTUS-care” by Samuel Alito who wrote a stinging dissent to the bizarre and lawless decision by the six partisan lawmakers in black robes masquerading as Supreme Court justices.
Tuesday, June 30, 2015
There will be much written about the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) most recent King v. Burwell decision regarding the Orwellian named, “Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.” Derisively named “Obamacare” by its critics, it was aptly renamed “SCOTUS-care” by Samuel Alito who wrote a stinging dissent to the bizarre and lawless decision by the six partisan lawmakers in black robes masquerading as Supreme Court justices.
One of the nicest parts of being retired is the opportunity to attend Mass daily. I avail myself of it whenever I’m physically able. In so doing, I’ve learned more than I expected.
Today is the Day of the Martyrs, on which Catholics pray for the souls of those killed for their Christian faith. The world is awash in the blood of martyrs today, and I pray most sincerely that each such shall be awarded the “martyr’s crown” of immediate and unconditional admission to eternal bliss. It makes quite a contrast to Islam’s claim that dying while on jihad will earn the jihadist admission to Paradise.
Martyrs aren’t being slaughtered in America as far as I know, though given the Obergefell v. Hodges decision, such a day might yet come. We face a different threat: the urbanity that tempts to secularism.
It’s the urbane, “politically correct” thing to do to express genteel derision of us unreconstructed types who, though we strive to tolerate those who disagree, refuse to accept same-sex marriage, or abortion on demand, or flagrant homosexuality, or any of a number of other modern practices that nineteen centuries of Christian thought have all ruled unacceptable. The urbane of the Left chuckle at us over white wine and Brie, we poor rubes who simply “can’t keep up with the times.” Their veneer of worldliness and sophistication is sometimes enough to seduce the weak of conscience into abandoning their faiths and the convictions that accompany them.
A book that received less attention than it deserved, Jeremy Leven’s Satan: His Psychotherapy and Cure by the Unfortunate Dr. Kassler, J.S.P.S., noted that in our times it takes far more courage to believe than to disbelieve...and a key to understanding why this is so lies in the derision of the urbane.
Urbanity appears to promise several rewards. Some of them are material; others include admission to circles frequented by “the right people.” Still others are commercial or academic in nature. The temptations can be severe.
By all means pray for the martyred, both those of today and those of times past, but pray also for those weak of conscience who are in danger of being seduced by contemporary urbanity. They need it too...possibly more than we know.
Have you ever read about the curious case of Worcester v. Georgia, Gentle Reader? Virtually no one has, yet it’s among the truly seminal Supreme Court cases of the early Republic. It concerned a Christian missionary, Samuel Worcester, who had moved onto a Cherokee reservation in Georgia, and had started a newspaper there. Georgia had a state law that required non-Amerinds who wished ingress to an Amerind reservation were required first to purchase a license to do so from the state. Worcester was convicted under that law and imprisoned. The case above, for which Chief Justice John Marshall wrote the decision, established that the relationship of the Amerind tribes with the U.S. is a nation-to-nation relationship. Therefore, no state could make laws that impinge upon any Amerind tribe.
President Andrew Jackson was unhappy with the decision. He refused to assist in the enforcement of the decision against Georgian resistance, even though by implication it asserted a federal prerogative, which would seem to mandate federal enforcement. The apocryphal saying “John Marshall has made his decision; now let him enforce it!” derives from that decision. (There is no record of Jackson’s ever making the neatly phrased statement attributed to him, though he was of approximately that opinion.) Georgia eventually freed Worcester, but only after he had struck a deal with the state to leave Georgia permanently, which he honored.
It was the first significant case of the Executive refusing to accept the authority of the Judiciary. It underscored the Judiciary’s lack of an executive arm of its own, the reason for Alexander Hamilton’s characterization of the Judiciary as “the least dangerous branch” of the federal government:
Whoever attentively considers the different departments of power must perceive, that, in a government in which they are separated from each other, the judiciary, from the nature of its functions, will always be the least dangerous to the political rights of the Constitution; because it will be least in a capacity to annoy or injure them. The Executive not only dispenses the honors, but holds the sword of the community. The legislature not only commands the purse, but prescribes the rules by which the duties and rights of every citizen are to be regulated. The judiciary, on the contrary, has no influence over either the sword or the purse; no direction either of the strength or of the wealth of the society; and can take no active resolution whatever. It may truly be said to have neither FORCE nor WILL, but merely judgment; and must ultimately depend upon the aid of the executive arm even for the efficacy of its judgments.
Today, Hamilton’s assumption that the power of the purse would be sufficient for Congress to ensure that the Executive would not defy it seems a bit naive.
I’ve written on other occasions about the difference between law de jure and law de facto. In essence, the law as it genuinely affects the lives of Americans is that subset of the de jure laws – i.e., the laws passed by Congress or the state or local legislature – which is effectively enforced: the law de facto. Why, after all, would anyone care overly much about unenforced laws?
(In point of fact, there is a reason to concern oneself about an unenforced law: it’s available to be used against those the political elite dislikes. Consider that before arbitrarily dismissing unenforced laws such as Andrew Cuomo’s “SAFE Act.” However, in practice only those laws that are actively enforced are pertinent to the private citizen...at least, as long as he keeps his head down.)
The Executive branch of the federal government comprises the presidency, all the Cabinet departments, and the entire federal bureaucracy: the “alphabet agencies,” to which Congress routinely delegates quasi-legislative power. The Cabinet, of course, includes the Departments of Justice and Treasury, which have overt enforcement arms: the FBI and the Secret Service. As Commander-in-Chief of the nation’s armed forces, the president also wields American military power, which would constitute a truly fearsome enforcement agency were it to be used within America’s borders.
(Numerous bureaucracies have been arming their field personnel. Full auto weapons. Armor-piercing ammo. Mustn’t forget that.)
Congress has its Sergeant-at-Arms. The Supreme Court and lesser federal courts have their bailiffs.
Given all the above, who decides what the laws of the United States, de facto, really are?
Worcester v. Georgia reminds us that the loose-cannon ways of the Obama Administration, while extreme, are not without precedent. Indeed, Lincoln’s assumption of dictatorial powers during the Civil War, Woodrow Wilson’s peremptory imprisonment of various peace activists after the U.S. entered World War I, and Franklin D. Roosevelt’s freewheeling “New Deal” capers should constitute a dramatic reminder that when the Executive decides to defy and ignore the Legislative and Judicial branches, it can do so with impunity. The other branches cannot effectively discipline a lawless Executive, at least while its myrmidons remain loyal and obedient to it.
Consider the recent Supreme Court decision striking down EPA overreach under its specious interpretation of its powers under the Clean Air Act. The White House announced immediately that it was going forward with its environmental regulatory program – a program which threatens to raise the price of electrical power by a factor of three – even so. What can the Court do about it? For that matter, what could the Court have done, had it decided King v. Burwell differently, were the White House to instruct the IRS to continue granting ObamaCare subsidies to persons who enrolled through the federal exchange in defiance of the ruling?
The Obama Administration is exceptional only in its brazenness, its “you can’t stop me” attitude toward Congress and the judiciary. The core problem has been with us since the ratification of the Constitution. Indeed, it might be insoluble: there will always be a single commander for any enforcement agency, and the men with the guns will be inherently disposed to do as he says, other voices notwithstanding.
I think I’ve come to the end of the “Ultimate Manifesto” series. Hard thought indicates that “the system” as we understand it possesses inherent dependencies that can and have failed us. Specifically, it depends upon the willingness of the three branches of the federal government to respect their Constitutional bounds. When that respect dissipates, as it appears to have done, the remaining remedies lie solely in the hands of the citizenry. One of those remedies, the electoral process, has proved insufficient. The other involves a great amount of blood and destruction.
What, then, must we do?
One of the reasons many persons choose one political allegiance over others is an affinity for the persons therein. In other words: If Smith, who is acquainted with both liberals and conservatives, likes and admires the conservatives substantially more than the liberals, it increases the probability that Smith will self-identify as a conservative.
This has significant implications for trends in “political migration.” At any given time, sociological distributions will influence the net flow of persons from one political alignment to another, often rather strongly. That’s part of the reason the Left tries so hard to characterize persons on the Right as being closed-minded, puritanical, and bigoted: the truth is the exact reverse, and “liberals” who learn it first-hand are more likely to migrate from liberalism to conservatism.
With that as a backdrop, have a gander at this brief piece:
Via TV Newser we are learning that Fox News Channel has terminated its relationship with Bob Beckel the left-leaning, suspender-wearing, mumbling, grumbling, drug-addled co-host of The Five....
A month after Beckel left the show the cable channel announced to viewers that Beckel had undergone major back surgery. On April 30, 2015 TV Newser reached out to Fox after learning that Beckel was being treated for addiction to prescription pain medication before and after his surgery....
The embedded tweet below almost makes one sad. Almost.
It’s not sad, not really. It’s illustrative. There are simply more nice people on the Right than on the Left – many more. It’s why you almost never hear of a conservative public figure migrating to the Left; the personalities on the Right are far more congenial. As a rule, we extend good will and behave courteously even toward persons who’ve drenched us in venom...something that can be fairly and accurately said about Bob Beckel.
A quick morning snack for thought.
Comment by Stan D Mute on "RIP Oz 'Aborigine Elder' Bob Randall. A White Guilt Classic From THE ECONOMIST." By John Derbyshire, The Unz Review, 6/19/15.
Monday, June 29, 2015
I wish I could say “I can’t believe he really said that,” but we’re talking about Barack Hussein Obama here:
Earlier this week, Harvard professor Robert Putnam did a Q&A with Washington Post religion reporter Michelle Boorstein, headlined "Have faith groups been too absent in the fight on poverty?" Here is Putnam's answer to that question:The obvious fact is that over the last 30 years, most organized religion has focused on issues regarding sexual morality, such as abortion, gay marriage, all of those. I’m not saying if that’s good or bad, but that’s what they’ve been using all their resources for. This is the most obvious point in the world. It’s been entirely focused on issues of homosexuality and contraception and not at all focused on issues of poverty.
....Putnam also recently appeared on a panel at the Catholic-Evangelical Leadership Summit on Overcoming Poverty at Georgetown University discussing this very topic with columnist E.J. Dionne, American Enterprise Institute President Arthur Brooks, and, yes, Barack Obama. The president himself joined in the mendacious chorus:“Despite great caring and concern,” [Obama] said, “when it comes to what are you really going to the mat for, what's the defining issue, when you're talking in your congregations, what's the thing that is really going to capture the essence of who we are as Christians, or as Catholics, or what have you, that this”—fighting poverty—“is often times viewed as a 'nice to have' relative to an issue like abortion.”
Obama has been Christianity’s worst enemy, virtually since the start of his first term. He’s repeatedly turned a blind eye to the genocidal pogroms against Middle Eastern Christians and other Christian populations menaced by Islamic militancy. In every domestic case involving the religious freedom of Christians, he’s been in opposition to it. His “Affordable Care Act” hasn’t just increased the cost of medical insurance; it’s also severely increased the burdens on Catholic health care providers, especially Catholic hospitals. His administration has even persecuted orders of nuns that sought to be exempted from ObamaCare’s requirement that employers provide contraception and abortion insurance to their employees.
But that’s only half of it. Pat Fagan and Rob Schwarzwelder have the numbers for you:
Broadly speaking, American churches are incredibly generous to the needs of a hurting world.
As noted by The Philanthropy Roundtable:“In 2009, overseas relief and development supported by American churches exceeded $13 billion, according to path-breaking calculations by the Hudson Center for Global Prosperity. (This includes not just evangelical churches but also Catholic and mainline Protestant congregations, and covers both direct missions work and donations to private relief groups.) That compares to $5 billion sent abroad by foundations in the same year, $6 billion from private and voluntary relief organizations apart from church support, and $9 billion donated internationally by corporations. The $13 billion in religious overseas philanthropy also compares impressively to the $29 billion of official development aid handed out by the federal government in 2009.”
In 2012 alone, the evangelical relief group World Vision spent “roughly $2.8 billion annually to care for the poor,” according to World Vision U.S. President Richard Stearns. “That would rank World Vision about 12th within the G-20 nations in terms of overseas development assistance.”
But according to Obama, Christianity is all about fighting abortion, contraception, and homosexuality.
Why do we tolerate this man? Why hasn’t he been impeached and at least compelled to stand trial before the Senate? For being an arrogant asshole, if nothing else?
We saw one inducement to it in Florida, in the chaos after the 2000 presidential balloting. The state legislature had made it a requirement that election returns be certified no later than seven days after the balloting. The Florida state supreme court ruled that seventeen days must be allowed...and the legislature did nothing.
We saw an egregious case of it in the Bipartisan Campaign Finance Reform Act, a darling of the odious John McCain that purported to reduce the influence of “big money” on elections. The proponents could not have failed to know that their bill was unConstitutional. For that matter, President George W. Bush, who signed it, said as much but signed it anyway. It was left to the Supreme Court to strike it down. Its legislative proponents merely shrugged and continued onward.
We saw an eruption of it in New York State’s Orwellian “SAFE Act.” That act, as written, outlaws the use of detachable rifle or pistol magazines that hold more than seven rounds. Many supposed defenders of the right to keep and bear arms voted for that bill...realizing only afterward that it criminalizes the use of virtually every firearm owned by anyone in the state, as no magazines that small are available for most such rifles. Yet the legislature did nothing, instead allowing Andrew Cuomo to decree, by “executive order,” that the ban would not be enforced just yet.
We saw a major explosion of it in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ObamaCare), as legislators openly voted to pass a bill of whose contents they were utterly ignorant. When it developed that a key provision of the Act, expressly designed to induce the states to erect “health care exchanges” by the open admission of one of its chief architects, failed to produce the desired conformity among the states, not one of the bill’s legislative proponents stepped forward to say “Yes, we meant it to operate this way.” Instead they allowed John Roberts et alii to claim telepathic powers and rule on what they “intended.”
Congressmen and United States Senators take oaths to the Constitution, which defines their offices. State legislators take similar oaths to their states’ constitutions or charters. Then they proceed to violate those oaths, serene in the knowledge that nothing will be done to them for doing so. As icing on this distasteful cake, they routinely pass bills that delegate, de facto, lawmaking power to unelected bureaucrats: persons who can’t even be turned out of office electorally.
Federal legislators receive salaries of $175,000 per year for their “labors.” That’s apart from their franking privileges, travel privileges, office budgets, the salaries of their staffs, and so forth, which easily total to eight figures once all the bills are paid. State legislators are remunerated less opulently -- $79,500 per year in New York, exclusive of expenses – but still well above the average salaries of their constituents. At those prices, you’d think that you have a right to hold them accountable for their performances.
You’d be wrong.
It is the case, apparently immune to “wave elections” or similar upheavals among Us the People, that a legislator, once elected, can reasonably expect to remain in “his position” until he chooses to retire. They’re harder to get rid of than an infestation of roaches, a species with which they share more characteristics than that one alone.
I hardly need comment on the many documented cases of felonious behavior among legislators. Those tend to make headlines, at least in certain fora. The ones that involve sexual misconduct are especially salacious, but the ones that involve sale of access and influence have far more serious impact upon our notions of governmental integrity. After all, we can’t help but wonder: For every one we catch, how many others do we miss?
Ferdinand Lundberg put it most memorably:
...it is a settled conclusion among seasoned observers that, Congress apart as a separate case, the lower legislatures -- state, county, and municipal -- are Augean stables of misfeasance, malfeasance, and nonfeasance from year to year and decade to decade, and that they are preponderantly staffed by riffraff, or what the police define as "undesirables," people who if they were not in influential positions would be unceremoniously told to "keep moving." Exceptions among them are minor. Many of them, including congressmen, refuse to go before the television cameras because it is then so plainly obvious to everybody what they are. Their whole demeanor arouses instant distrust in the intelligent. They are, all too painfully, type-cast for the race track, the sideshow carnival, the back alley, the peep show, the low tavern, the bordello, the dive. Evasiveness, dissimulation, insincerity shine through their false bonhomie like beacon lights....
As to other legislatures, Senator Estes Kefauver found representatives of the vulpine Chicago Mafia ensconced in the Illinois legislature, which has been rocked by one scandal of the standard variety after the other off and on for seventy-five years. What he didn't bring out was that the Mafians were clearly superior types to many non-Mafians.
Public attention, indeed, usually centers on only a few lower legislatures -- Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, California and Illinois -- and the impression is thereby fostered in the unduly trusting that the ones they don't hear about are on the level. But such an impression is false. The ones just mentioned come into more frequent view because their jurisdictions are extremely competitive and the pickings are richer. Fierce fights over the spoils generate telltale commotion. Most of the states are quieter under strict one-party quasi-Soviet Establishment dominance, with local newspapers cut in on the gravy. Public criticism and information are held to a minimum, grousers are thrown a bone, and not many in the local populace know or really care. Even so, scandalous goings-on explode into view from time to time in Florida, Texas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Missouri and elsewhere -- no state excepted. Any enterprising newspaper at any time could send an aggressive reporter into any one of them and come up with enough ordure to make the Founding Fathers collectively vomit up their very souls in their graves.
[The Rich and the Super-Rich, 1968]
Somehow I doubt that Lundberg, were he still among the living, would continue to except the United States Congress, especially considering how gaining a seat in that body seems guaranteed to make its occupant wealthy. Rare is the U.S. legislator whose net worth is less than $5 million; I cannot name one whose net worth is less than $1 million. The usual derisive dismissal is to comment that “we have the best legislators money can buy.” Whose payrolls they occupy is left to the hearer’s imagination.
Now that the courts, both state and federal, appear willing to rewrite their laws for them, what more can we expect? Considering that they normally continue in office despite any and all departures from integrity – does anyone else remember the censure of Charlie Rangel, long a ranking member of the tax-writing House Ways and Means committee, for not paying his taxes? – what prospect is there of compelling them to walk the line?
When irresponsibility among those with authority goes unpunished, it tends to increase. It’s certainly increased among “our elected representatives” in the decades since World War II. So has the average tenure in office of those...persons, a phenomenon for which We the People bear the odium. After all, isn’t “turning the rascals out” our responsibility?
Of course, there is what H. L. Mencken said:
The government consists of a gang of men exactly like you and me. They have, taking one with another, no special talent for the business of government. They have only talent for getting and holding office. Their principal device to that end is to search out groups who pant and pine for something they can’t get and promise to give it to them. Nine times out of ten that promise is worth nothing. The tenth time it is made good only by looting A to satisfy B. In other words, government is a broker in pillage and every election is a sort of an advance auction sale of stolen goods.
At each election we vote in a new set of politicians, insanely assuming that they are better than the set turned out. And at each election we are, as they say in Motherland, done in.
How about it, Gentle Reader? Do you still think your vote matters? Do you still believe that “elections have consequences” – consequences of the sort you would favor? Would you still vote to return “your” Congressman or Senator to office on the grounds that “he’s better than the other guy” or that “we can’t afford to lose his seniority?”
Comment by MauroCella on "Top German Politician Blasts Nuland & Carter: 'F##k US Imperialism'." By ZeroHedge, 6/2815.
Sunday, June 28, 2015
We heard rather a lot from John Roberts, during his confirmation hearings, about the importance of judicial restraint. It’s one of the shibboleth phrases of the Right, to which obeisance is paid but seldom is more than lip service given. Just this past week, Jeb Bush, now a candidate for the Republican presidential nod, echoed the phrase when he was asked about how he would select federal judges were he elected.
So what do these worthies think it means? Not the dictionary meaning, mind you, but the meaning its most conspicuous users put to it by their actions.
One interpretation of the phrase is found in the judicial doctrine of stare decisis. That’s rough Latin for let the decision stand. Its black-robed users mean by it We defer to earlier decisions of this body, feeling it would be wrong to overturn them. Wrong why? Sometimes there is no reason other than stare decisis itself: the unwillingness to overrule an earlier decision, sometimes because subsequent law and government action might have been founded on it, sometimes out of an unarticulated fear that it might somehow reduce the authority of the Supreme Court.
Viewed thus, judicial restraint protects tyranny quite as well as anything else.
The role of the Supreme Court as stated in the Constitution seems relatively simple and straightforward:
The judicial Power shall extend to all Cases, in Law and Equity, arising under this Constitution, the Laws of the United States, and Treaties made, or which shall be made, under their Authority;—to all Cases affecting Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls;—to all Cases of admiralty and maritime Jurisdiction;—to Controversies to which the United States shall be a Party;—to Controversies between two or more States;—between a State and Citizens of another State; —between Citizens of different States, —between Citizens of the same State claiming Lands under Grants of different States, and between a State, or the Citizens thereof, and foreign States, Citizens or Subjects.
In all Cases affecting Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls, and those in which a State shall be Party, the supreme Court shall have original Jurisdiction. In all the other Cases before mentioned, the supreme Court shall have appellate Jurisdiction, both as to Law and Fact, with such Exceptions, and under such Regulations as the Congress shall make. [Article III, Sections 1 and 2]
The most important of all the authorities – note that I do not use the word “powers” here – the Supreme Court has undertaken, “judicial review” of the law for Constitutional fidelity, is conspicuously absent from that list. It was arrogated to the Court by Chief Justice John Marshall’s opinion in Marbury v. Madison, and has never been seriously challenged.
Let’s stipulate for the purposes of this tirade that “judicial review” is an authority somehow implied to the Supreme Court by the Constitutional phraseology. Inasmuch as judges routinely claim the authority to proclaim the law – anyone who’s ever sat on a jury has heard a judge say to that jury that “I am judge of the law; you are judges of the facts” – it’s as well established de facto as any other authority ever claimed by a court. Is it even conceivable that “judicial review” includes the authority to rule against the text of a law on the basis of the Court’s notions about what its drafters and those who voted on it intended?
The most extreme extension of the notion of “deference to legislative authority” could not possibly embrace this assertion of judicial telepathy. Yet that was the foundation for John Roberts’s execrable majority opinion in King v. Burwell, his most recent rescue of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, a.k.a. ObamaCare:
It is implausible that Congress meant the Act to operate in this manner. See National Federation of Independent Business v. Sebelius, 567 U. S. ___, ___ (2012) (SCALIA, KENNEDY, THOMAS, and ALITO, JJ., dissenting) (slip op., at 60) (“Without the federal subsidies . . . the exchanges would not operate as Congress intended and may not operate at all.”). Congress made the guaranteed issue and community rating requirements applicable in every State in the Nation. But those requirements only work when combined with the coverage requirement and the tax credits. So it stands to reason that Congress meant for those provisions to apply in every State as well. [From the majority decision written by Chief Justice John Roberts ]
This, then, must be taken as consistent with John Roberts’s conception of “judicial restraint.” In his masterpiece The Vision of the Anointed, the great Thomas Sowell wrote:
Those who argue for this view of the judge’s role – for “judicial restraint” – often say that judges should follow the “original intent” of laws in general and the Constitution in particular. Yet ironically, this very phrase has been seized upon by opponents and given meanings far removed from that of those who use it. Professor Ronald Dworkin, for example, argues against original intent on grounds that “mental events” in the minds of legislators or writers of the Constitution are difficult or impossible to discern. But of course, nobody voted on what was in the back of somebody else’s mind. What was enacted into law were the meanings of those words to others – in short, the public meaning of words. As Justice Holmes put it, the relevant question was “not what this man meant, but what those words would mean in the mouth of a normal speaker of English, using them in the circumstances in which they were used.” Those who have urged judicial restraint have been very explicit that they did not mean to delve into the psyches of lawmakers, but to begin with the public meanings of the words the lawmakers used, as of the time they used them....
Far more is involved here than a mere misunderstanding. Power is at the heart of the dispute. Although New York Times columnist Anthony Lewis wrote of the Constitution’s “expansive phrases that would be given contemporary meaning by each generation,” generations do not vote on the constitutionality of laws. Judges do. Thus the current generation’s decisions are not replacing those of a previous generation; judges’ decisions are replacing those of the current generation by imposing their own revision of what a past generation has said. The replacement of historical meanings by “contemporary meanings” is a major transfer of power to judges, not only from other branches of government, but from the people. It is an erosion of self-government and an imposition of the social vision of judges in its place.
When I wrote just yesterday that law and the rule of law no longer exist, this is exactly what I meant. Today, black can mean white if five “Justices” of the Supreme Court decree it to be so...and no one can do a damned thing about it.
There is no longer law; there is only the will and whim of those in power...and they have made it their top priority to own the courts, from the lowest to the highest. What, then, of the citizen’s supposed duty to obey the law? Upon what is it founded?
And make no mistake about. These decisions are about naked coercion.
The distinction is important.
* * * *
When we follow the law, we do so because it is right. When we are coerced, we are at gunpoint by an illegitimate system. Those who compel us are not any different than criminals.
. . . They have not defeated us. They have corrupted themselves.
 "Be the Best Saboteur You Can Be." By Daniel Greenfield, Sultan Knish, 6/26/15.
H/t: New Zeal Blog.
Contrary to what some conservatives like to believe, the left did not suddenly show up here in 1963 or 1905 and disrupt a formerly peaceful country. The left has always been here. It’s a part of us.It's clear that the left loathes what America set out to be. It has recklessly and maliciously done all in its power to magnify the power and cost of the federal government.
No people and no country are untouched by evil. It’s only a matter of what form it takes. But in any form, we know it by its destructive instincts, its facade of righteousness that poorly conceals a lust for power.
It's evil, plain and simple with abuse, dishonesty, and corruption the inevitable result as Mr. Greenfield says.
 "Be the Best Saboteur You Can Be." By Daniel Greenfield, Sultan Knish, 6/26/15.
H/t: New Zeal Blog.
Saturday, June 27, 2015
Is it even imaginable that the “Justices” who just voted to:
- Ignore the written text of a bill and all the collateral evidence that says “and we really mean it this way;”
- Seize political control of the oldest and least political of all human institutions;
...don’t know what they’ve done?
The Supreme Court has just written into our “Constitutional” framework that:
- The text of a law doesn’t matter;
- The text of the Constitution doesn’t matter;
- What a majority of “Justices” imagine about what those who passed the law intended are of decisive legal weight;
- There is no human practice, custom, tradition, or institution which the State cannot seize and tax, regulate, reorganize, or completely redefine to suit itself.
The entire edifice of constitutionalism has just been ceremoniously trashed. Oh, we could see it coming from miles away. At least, I could; I’ve been watching this progression too closely and for too long to harbor any illusions about it. However, I must admit that I didn’t expect it to happen quite so rapidly or precipitously. Alvin Toffler would have something to say about that, wouldn’t he?
We will pay for this in blood. I can only hope that the first persons to render up their due will be those selfsame “Justices.”
Allow me to tote up what we have lost, these few years past.
There is no longer a Supreme Law in these United States. Indeed, there is no longer law as Americans have traditionally understood it. Therefore, there is no rule of law. How could there be, when judges have arrogated the privilege of rewriting the actual text of a law to reach a decision in harmony with their preferences?
Without law in the customary sense, there cannot be a legislature with definite powers and responsibilities. At this point, Congress is either omnipotent or powerless, depending on the correlation of forces inside the Washington Beltway.
There is no longer a president as the Constitution defines the office: one who presides, enforcing objectively defined laws arrived at by a legitimate, well specified procedure, rather than ruling by decree. Instead we have an Orator-In-Chief with dictatorial powers. How did we choose the current bearer of the title? According to his skin color? Great God in heaven, what will the next one be like? At least the Romans had one Marcus Aurelius. When will ours arrive?
There is no longer any branch of government that we can accurately call “the people’s representatives.” The House of Representatives, utterly controlled by the GOP, supposedly the party of limited government and strict Constitutional construction, has done nothing to head off any of the overreaches of the Obama Administration or the federal bureaucracy it commands. Should it fail to impeach John Roberts for his treason, the Senate will have revealed itself as a high-priced club of no consequence.
There is no longer a default assumption of probity for judges. Actually, that fantasy died some time ago. A judge who can rewrite a law, or nullify a solemnly agreed contract simply by calling it “unfair” or “unconscionable,” is not to be trusted...and that is now within the powers of any man who dons the black robe and mounts a judicial bench.
No, I’m not telling you anything you couldn’t have figured out for yourself. Maybe you had already figured it out, in which case all the above is just my concurrence. Allow an old man at least one cri de coeur before he throws up his hands in surrender.
R.I.P.U.S.A. We hardly knew ye.
I’ve gone from dreading a Second American Revolution to hoping for one. If I were young and hale, I’d surely march with it. I might even try to touch it off myself.
My friend Dystopic has reminded us that war is the continuation of politics by other means. Have you ever wondered what Karl von Clausewitz had in mind when he wrote that? I articulated it as explicitly as I could in the Foreword to this novel:
Other prominent science fiction writers have delved into the possibilities of a society that’s resolved that there shall be no State. However, none of the ones with which I’m familiar address the sociodynamics of such a society: the forces that would shape its development, with special emphasis on those that would tend to tear it from its founding premise. For me, that’s the really fascinating thing about anarchism. You see, it’s been tried, with varying degrees of longevity and success, many times in the history of Man. Yet there are no anarchic societies left on Earth as I write this foreword.
Well, except for one: the whole of the human race.
The States of Earth exist in an anarchic relation to one another. Each has its own regional code of law, which might differ markedly from all the others. Despite several thrusts at the matter over the centuries, there is no “super-State” to enforce a uniform code of law over them all. More, they view one another as competitors in many different areas; their populations and institutions are often in sharp economic competition with one another. Thus, they are often at odds. They resolve important disputes among them through negotiation or warfare.
When a society has no agreed-upon written law that 98% or more of the participants willingly respect, there is nothing but rule by naked force, according to the will and whim of the dominant power. Global society has been relatively peaceful and stable these past few decades – I said relatively, Gentle Reader; brush up on your history if you think otherwise – because the dominant power has been that of the United States, which had no imperial ambitions and was fairly reliable about doing what its political masters said it would do. Over the course of the last six years we’ve seen what happens internationally when those conditions dissolve. I put it to you that we’re about to see what happens domestically, as well.
The whole point of a political system is to arrive at the law: to produce it, maintain it, and enforce it. But law has just been revealed to be nonexistent, a phantasm. Therefore politics, the mechanism by which we attempt to avert rule by naked force according to the will and whim of the dominant power, has just been revealed as pointless. Add that in a nation whose citizens possess an estimated 300 million firearms, the “dominant power” isn’t as dominant as its masters would like to believe. If we weren’t talking about the United States – if the country of interest were some blood-soaked realm in the Balkans, for example – what would you expect to happen?
Ask yourself, in all honesty, whether the conditions and premises that have averted that sort of development from our country are still in force.
If there’s anything more to say about law, politics, and government under these circumstances, I can’t conceive of it this fine June morning. Perhaps that will pass; perhaps I’ll see things in a rosier light in a day or so. Being optimistic by nature, I’ll hope for that and turn to other things for the nonce. Perhaps I’ll derive some motivation for my novel-in-progress from all this crap. That, at least, would be pleasant.
Have a nice day.
As I’ve grown tired of having to moderate precious little sniping comments from “Anonymous” cowards, I have changed the “Comments” setting at Liberty’s Torch from “anyone, including Anonymous” to “Users with Google accounts.” As Google accounts are free and have no concomitant obligations, this should not occasion unrest among legitimate commenters. At any rate, it’s preferable to the requirement, growing more common at heavily trafficked sites, for a “Facebook” account.
To those who find what I write offensive, boring, or otherwise not to their taste: just imagine what I think of you. Oh, pardon me, my mistake: you can’t imagine; you haven’t the brainpower. So out of my infinite kindness toward the mentally challenged, I’ll make it explicit: I have nothing but contempt for you room-temperature IQ types who think derision constitutes worthwhile discourse. Your “comments” are the emissions of persons whose last substantive thought occurred before they were toilet trained. Have a nice life.
Friday, June 26, 2015
Do you agree or disagree with my premise that the flag, "isn't about slavery; it's a sign of rebellion against 'Authori-TAH'?"
No, this won’t be about for-profit prisons.
In thinking about the boycott of TOR Books I mentioned in this post, it occurred to me that the subject of punishment dealt out by private parties deserves more thought than has previously been given to it. By the word punishment, I don’t mean forcible confinement (prison), a coercively extracted fine, execution, or any other exercise of coercive authority. There are other ways to penalize someone, or some institution, for behavior one finds unacceptable and wishes to curb. Boycotts, though they’ve received the most attention, are only one such means.
Broadly speaking, Smith punishes Jones by inflicting a penalty – an unpleasant consequence – on him. For that penalty to be licit under current law, the action Smith takes to inflict it must be entirely within his rights, and must not infringe on the rights of Jones or any third party. That would appear to restrict Smith to:
- Words (except for incitements to violence);
- Refraining from actions that would benefit Jones;
- Interactions with others that would disadvantage Jones.
It is perfectly legal for Smith to criticize Jones, even to the extent of casting severe aspersions on Jones’s character, providing only that Smith does so truthfully. It is actionable under the laws of libel and slander should Smith falsely allege that Jones has committed a crime, has facilitated the commission of a crime, or has acted in some manner that would foreseeably bring public opprobrium upon him. The famous suit mounted by Quentin Reynolds against columnist Westbrook Pegler provides a fine illustration of how even falsehoods that allege legal behavior can be adjudged libelous if the behavior alleged is generally deemed reprehensible: for example, accusations that Jones has indulged in private vice, or has associated with persons later convicted of serious crimes. Smith has no defense against such a counterstroke but truth – and provable truth, at that.
Within the limits placed upon him by previous contractual agreements, Smith may withhold his patronage or other beneficial actions from Jones. Boycotting Jones is one means; denying Jones a recommendation is another; negative reviews of Jones’s commercial activities are a third. Until the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, there was no legal basis under which Jones could compel Smith to do business with him. Fortunately the PPACA’s radius of application is relatively well defined. As for recommendations and reviews, those are as safe as any other form of free expression not actionable under the laws of libel and slander.
Finally, in circumstances where Jones competes with others, Smith may favor those others to Jones’s disadvantage. This is usually a measure aimed at a corporation that sells into a competitive market, but it can occasionally be wielded against individuals as well. Conspicuously directing one’s patronage and praise at Jones’s competitors cannot help but force Jones, at minimum, to extra efforts to maintain his commercial position and viability.
If Smith remains within his rights and does nothing to infringe upon Jones’s rights, all three approaches above are available to him. But some will be more effective than others...and equally important, some will inflict less damage upon unwillingly involved innocents than others.
A boycott such as the one Peter Grant has called for against TOR Books is an entirely legal measure. However – here I assume that it will take place and be effective – it will inflict collateral damage on uninvolved persons, specifically writers published by TOR who bear none of the blame for the slanders emitted by TOR editors Irene Gallo and Moshe Feder.
If writer Davis had no part in the slanders, but is made by the boycott to suffer reduced book sales – possibly fatally reduced, such that Davis is compelled no longer to write for a living – an unintended harm has been done to him. That harm is not actionable under the law. Indeed, one might argue that it “should” move Davis to seek another publisher, which would add to TOR’s punishment. Nevertheless, it’s likely to cause at least temporary harm to Davis’s revenues, and could prejudice Davis against the boycott’s organizers in the future: both undesirable side effects. How, then, could this be avoided?
A more narrowly focused boycott, targeting only those authors “in league” with Gallo and Feder, might not be feasible. For one thing, determining who ought to be targeted would be a subjective and highly contentious procedure. For another, it seems unlikely to have the desired effects: compelling Gallo and Feder to publicly confess their fault and recant, and compelling TOR’s management to discipline them appropriately and strengthen TOR’s policies against recurrences of their slanders.
In sum, the boycott might be effective at squeezing confessions from Gallo and Feder and corrective action from TOR’s management, but innocent others are likely to suffer as well, and no modification of the boycott seems feasible. What, then, would be better?
It’s a question I can’t answer definitively. However, merely publicizing the sins of Gallo, Feder, and any other involved TOR personnel is already doing some good. There might be more juice in that lemon than has previously been assumed. That it’s not as dramatic or materially punitive as a boycott is the strongest argument against it...and I don’t think it’s all that strong.
I’ll return to this.
Thursday, June 25, 2015
Anyone who plays console video games is aware of Sony’s game The Last Of Us, which has won near-universal acclaim from gamers who’ve experienced it. Well, being a gamer of sorts myself, I acquired a copy some time ago, but being a terrible gamer, I quickly grew frustrated with it and set it aside for other, easier games.
(Yes, I had the difficulty set on “Easy.” Go ahead, laugh.)
However, I was told repeatedly that the highlight of the game is the embedded story, which was described to me in such glowing tones as to evoke misty notions of Tolkien...if Tolkien wrote survival horror, anyway. So when, in casting about on YouTube a few days ago, I stumbled upon this “extraction” of the story from game form to cinematic form, I immediately fired up the video.
For the next three and a half hours I was riveted to my computer monitor. To be brief, the praise I’ve heard of this bit of video fiction was not at all excessive.
However, I rose from that spellbinding experience, in no way lessened by it being a digital-animated production, to learn that Quisling in a black robe John Roberts has once again saved ObamaCare.
If George W. Bush isn’t tearing his hair out over having nominated that traitor to the Supreme Court, I take back every good thing I’ve ever said about him.
Perhaps I’ll spend the rest of the afternoon playing Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare. I’m in the right mood to shoot up some ragheads. Good thing there are plenty of them.
It’s a lazy June morning, and I’m sitting at the keyboard... just sittin’ here at the Group W keyboard, trying to produce a piece through free-association because the news offers nothing much to write about...also, so I won’t have to post a dreaded “day off” announcement. So we’ll just have to see how it goes.
It appears that Mark Steyn doesn’t think much of Bob Dylan. Well, de gustibus non est disputandum, and all that. In my opinion, Dylan should have hung it up some years ago, but I still cherish several of his early recordings, especially Highway 61 Revisited and Blonde On Blonde.
Come to think of it, there are an awful lot of musicians from four and five decades ago still recording and touring. The great majority of them should hang it up. Why they go on – believe me, I know how hard it is to mount a stage, sing and play for hours, then get on a bus, drive hundreds of miles, and do it again the next day, thirty days in a row – escapes me. Is it for the money? For the adulation? Or perhaps just out of reluctance to accept that their day is done, that they’re not “the happenin’ thing” any longer?
In recent years I’ve seen just two “oldsters” in concert who really gave the audience value for the money. One was Steve Winwood. The other was Tony Bennett.
Television, so often described as a “vast wasteland,” has actually improved somewhat in recent years. Part of the reason is the availability of so much programming “on demand.” When a program can be seen days or weeks after its original broadcast (or narrowcast), it tells the producers and ‘casters much more about the value of the program than they would have learned from just the first showing. The results can be striking, especially in the case of a “maverick” production whose ‘casters accepted it “on spec.”
Granted that the ‘casters were basically forced into offering on-demand access by the explosive success of Webcasters such as Hulu and Netflix. It’s still a positive development...especially since some of us can’t keep our eyes open past about 8:00 PM. Yo, FOX, why not make Megyn Kelly’s program available on demand?
It’s become painfully obvious to me that having more time available for fiction does not equate to greater productivity. “The Muse” comes and goes as she pleases, unmoved by my pleas. The fifth Realm of Essences novel, working title Statesman, is progressing very slowly indeed...perhaps more slowly than before I retired. I keep turning to other subjects as this recent story and this companion to it demonstrate.
No, it’s not “writer’s block,” whatever that is. It’s more likely to be an effect of Parkinson’s First Law. One way or the other, it’s frustrating as hell.
While we’re on the subject of fiction, I’ve only just learned about this foofaurauw:
So, in the end, we have a company, Tor (and its holding company, Macmillan) that is/are apparently unwilling to take responsibility for the misdeeds of its employees, their misuse of corporate time and resources during those misdeeds, and their deliberate slander, libel and lying about a large part of the fan base upon which that company depends for its livelihood. I think that constitutes an indelibly shameful mark on executives at both companies, and makes them complicit in the actions and statements of their employees....
Nor are they alone in their dishonor. The so-called 'Social Justice Warriors' or SJW's who've supported the guilty parties for years have been shrill in their screeching support for their heroes and heroines. That's continued in the present crisis. The facts of the situation have been ignored, and those drawing attention to those facts (including yours truly) have become objects of scorn, derision and open attack....
Regrettably, due to the apparent lack of action by (and the deafening silence from) Tor and Macmillan, the time has come to do as I promised. I therefore ask all those who believe, as I do, that the recent statement by Irene Gallo, and the pattern of behavior and statements from others at Tor whom I've previously named, are completely unacceptable, to join me in refusing to buy any of Tor's products from now on.
First things first: TOR editor Irene Gallo has indeed committed a shameful, wholly inexcusable slander upon the “Sad Puppies” and the organizers thereof. That is beyond rational dispute. That TOR has not disciplined her sternly – suspending her for a year from her position without pay seems about right – does open the company itself to opprobrium. My question is whether a boycott of TOR books is the best approach, as there will be some innocent victims among the authors of those books.
As a wholly independent writer, I tend to ignore what goes on in the world of conventional publishing and associated institutions. Indeed, I only learned about the “Sad Puppies” kerfuffle well after it was under way. But I’d be sad to learn that the reprisal for Gallo’s vicious defamations of the “Sad Puppies,” which she had to know were utterly, demonstrably false, had gathered in innocent writers as “collateral damage.” That’s the sort of thing the “social justice warriors” do; let’s not descend to their level.
I don’t follow firearms-related news as closely as I should – hey, there are only twenty-four hours in my day, too! – so something like this can easily slip past me:
After a much-publicized court battle between State Police and gun groups, numbers for the registration of so-called “assault-style” weapons under Governor Cuomo’s unconstitutional SAFE Act have been released.
The numbers indicate that a vast majority of gun owners have not complied with the law which was hastily enacted in 2013 after the Newtown massacre.
Second Amendment advocates had contended that state police were not releasing registration numbers to avoid embarrassment for the administration by hiding the low rate of compliance from angry gun owners.
While the motivation behind keeping the numbers from public view are up for debate, the results are not – hundreds of thousands of gun owners have collectively told Governor Cuomo to take his gun-grabbing law and shove it....
Assemblyman Steve McLaughlin tweeted that “The numbers don’t ‘suggest’ noncompliance. The numbers are a flat out declaration of non compliance.”
While there have been attempts to repeal or revise certain elements of the SAFE Act from lawmakers, Tom King, president of the Albany-based New York State Rifle and Pistol Association says that gun owners have spoken, and spoken loudly at that.
“It would appear the people have just bypassed the legislature and simply repealed it on their own,” he said.
Andrew Cuomo, like his late father and every other power-mad pretender to royal status, has always been rabidly anti-gun. However, he failed to reckon with the general enthusiasm for firearms among New York State residents, thinking that compliance with his totalitarian “SAFE Act” decree, passed by parliamentary chicanery in the dead of night without any opportunity for state residents to comment, would be automatic. It’s gratifying and more to see that we’re not the sheep he thought we are.
Wednesday, June 24, 2015
As I mentioned in my earlier post, the Left will “double-bind” the Right about the race of any minority candidate, regardless of whether he’s a Democrat or a Republican. There is only one escape from this trap. It lies in getting off the Mishnory road.
Don’t be proud of your race, or your ethnic roots, or your “heritage,” however that might be construed. Those are things that happened to you; you did not choose them, did not participate in them, and did nothing to earn them. Know them. Know something about them, but eschew the notion of “pride,” which should only attach to one’s accomplishments. If you’re proud of something in the achievement of which you took no part, you’re expressing pride in someone else’s deeds. That’s wrongheaded and more; it’s a kind of theft.
As you can see from the comments to this piece at Breitbart, the Left is absolutely terrified of losing its principal slander-weapon against the Right. That’s why they keep race and race-based divisions alive; they have nothing to compare with the charge of “racism,” which retains some punch even though it’s almost never accurate or relevant. Deny them the subject by refusing to discuss it with them: pro, con, or any variation thereof.
- Do not discuss the race of any public figure with a Leftist. Ignore his mentions of it.
- When a Leftist tries to bait you with racially-charged rhetoric, what he wants is for you to respond. Deny him what he wants.
- Never, ever allow a Leftist to bait you into a discussion of race, racial disparities, racial preferences in law, or any related subject. He will immediately go on the attack, hoping to force you onto the defensive. That will do you no good whatsoever.
Among other things, this will drive Leftist trolls absolutely bonkers...and what could possibly be more amusing than that?
The Democrats are pissed. The mass murder in Charleston isn’t inspiring the necessary outrage required for new gun-control legislation. Where’s the crisis they were hoping for? You can practically hear them whining “What’s wrong with those people?”
You can count on Muslims. Execute a Muslim terrorist and Muslims go on a worldwide rampage. Hell, publish a few cartoons of Muhammad and they’ll give you all the rioting and carnage you could want. But Christians? Expect Christians to get uppity over an atrocity perpetrated against them? Please!
Democrats spent the weekend trying to get the focus back on Obama and their agenda, where they think it belongs. Congresswoman Donna Edwards on Fox News Sunday lamented that it would be a shame if all that came out of the Congress after this event was “a moment of silence,” while on Howard Kurtz’s Media Buzz, Joe Trippi lamented at the unlikelihood of any legislation coming from this.
And while the Sunday hosts were uncomfortable directly addressing concepts of Christianity (even as they broadcast the church service at Emanuel), they too tried to turn the topic to politics with the family members who were their big “gets” for the day as interview subjects.
But it was to no avail. “Today is not about politics,” came the firm answer in one form or another from all of them. And while the families of the murdered Charleston Christians meant it for the glory of God, it was unintentionally directly opposed to the agenda of Barack Obama.
That’s from the congregation of a black church, Gentle Reader. A church where a white racist gunned down nine innocent people who had come there to pray. When I wrote in 2007:
If there's a central irony here, it would be this: despite everything, the great majority of American blacks are devout Christians who strive with all their might and main to live according to their faith. If you're a white Christian, used to the tenor of the religious services that white Christians normally attend, you'd be blown away by the fervor of a service at a Southern Baptist or Church of God in Christ meeting. There's no hypocrisy there: these folks are passionate Christians who really mean it, in all particulars.
How much greater an injustice could we do than to group these good and gentle people with the thugs who exploit black class privileges to the hilt, cynically and ruthlessly, to the detriment of all of American society? But the thugs and grievance-mongers have their race's microphone; it's they from whom and about whom we hear. There's no redress for it except that the privileges themselves should be withdrawn, leaving blacks and whites equals before the law and the opinions of their fellow men. Yet that is the exact opposite of the stance of American left-liberals.
...these are the people I had in mind.
Honor their generosity of spirit. You won’t find it in many other venues.