Kim Davis: 21st century Civil Disobedience and the federal overthrow of the First Amendment

Kim DavisIf you read the post caption and thought “Kim who?”, you haven’t been following the news lately. Kim Davis is the Rowan County, Kentucky clerk who has chosen to go to jail rather than issue a marriage license to gay couples. She is being pilloried on the Left as an utterly evil woman, not to mention a hypocritical one, since she’s apparently been divorced before and has children born out of wedlock.

On the right, many who fancy themselves thoughtful intellectuals are conceding that Anthony Kennedy’s decision legalizing gay marriage is utterly awful (my take’s here), but are adding words to the effect that “the law’s the law, so Davis ought to get with it or quit.” That view is fatuous and simplistic, because there are very big ideas at issue here, and a small town country clerk is proving to be the first American to put both Civil Disobedience and the First Amendment to the test in the 21st century.

Today, Tom Trinko made what I think is the most interesting observation about Kim Davis’s imprisonment, and that is that people on the Left who willfully violate laws governing traditional social norms are invariably celebrated as heroes:

Jerry Brown refused to defend Prop 8 in California thereby refusing to follow his oath to uphold the laws of California, but he’s not in jail.

Obama and Holder both swore to uphold the laws of this great nation but both refused to follow the DOMA law yet neither are in jail.

There are many mayors of sanctuary cities that openly declare their refusal to follow immigration laws yet none of them are in jail.

The DNC has knowingly hired an illegal alien, thereby breaking the law, yet no charges have yet been filed.

A key tenet of the law is that it applies to everyone.

Trinko is right, of course, that we in America have developed two completely separate legal (and moral) systems, one applying to Leftists and the other to conservatives (especially Christian conservatives).  Whether it’s gay marriage, tax fraud, baby mutilation, rioting, illegal border crossing, or anything else, if a Leftie takes a stand, it’s a cause for celebration, while if a conservative makes even a squeak in the direction of ideas that have been part of the American fabric for hundreds of years, that conservative needs to be thrown into the deepest, darkest dungeon.  Here’s a nice poster making just that point:

The double standard on violating the law

All of which got me thinking about classic civil disobedience, something that Americans (and, before then, British subjects) long practiced, that Henry David Thoreau articulated, and that Gandhi and Martin Luther King brought to its modern apex.  Under the Left’s tender aegis, however, civil disobedience definitely isn’t what it used to be.

Although civil disobedience has always been around, it was Thoreau, in the mid-19th Century, who best articulated the doctrine we now recognize. Thoreau objected to a poll tax, because he felt the money was being improperly spent to support slavery and the war with Mexico. Rather than paying the tax, he took a principled stand, refused to pay the tax, and went to prison (from which his friends quickly bailed him out).

Thoreau’s single night in jail inspired him to write an essay about a citizen’s obligation to strike out against unjust laws — and to demonstrate the law’s invalidity through each citizen’s personal martyrdom. In his essay, Thoreau ruminated about irritating laws versus unjust laws, and about vehicles for protesting the latter (e.g., the ballot box or a refusal to comply with an unjust law or a tax that supports something unjust). Significantly, Thoreau felt that a principled stand gained weight from an attendant sacrifice, which is usually imprisonment:

Under a government which imprisons unjustly, the true place for a just man is also a prison. The proper place today, the only place which Massachusetts has provided for her freer and less despondent spirits, is in her prisons, to be put out and locked out of the State by her own act, as they have already put themselves out by their principles. It is there that the fugitive slave, and the Mexican prisoner on parole, and the Indian come to plead the wrongs of his race should find them; on that separate but more free and honorable ground, where the State places those who are not with her, but against her–the only house in a slave State in which a free man can abide with honor. [Emphasis mine.]

The Twentieth Century saw two men, on different continents, who understood that when a government acts unjustly the strongest protest is to put yourself in the path of that unjust law, and have yourself punished. Gandhi and Martin Luther King were each willing to accept imprisonment, thereby demonstrating the manifest unfairness and immorality of the laws against which each struggled. Had they meekly yielded to fundamentally unjust infringements of intrinsic human rights, neither would have even appeared as a footnote in the history books.

Nowadays, though, if the right type of Leftist breaks the right type of law, he does so with impunity and to applause. The best example of this in the context of Kim Davis’s true act of civil disobedience took place in 2004, when then-San Francisco mayor Gavin Newsome took a stance that is the mirror image of what Davis is doing:  He announced that he was going to ignore California’s laws banning same sex marriage and, instead, have the City issue marriage licenses to all gay couples desiring them.

The consequences that came Newsome’s way as a result of his theoretical act of “civil disobedience” would have surprised Thoreau, Gandhi, and King.  There was no martyrdom involved.  Instead, Newsome was suddenly a fifteen minute wonder, which set him on the path to California’s Lieutenant Governorship (and, he hopes, eventually to the Governor’s chair). The Press oooh’ed and aaah’ed about Newsome’s bravery.

But, really, what was so brave? He wasn’t running any risks politically in San Francisco, where a critical mass of voters approve his step. He wasn’t running any risk of humiliation or ostracism, because he became the media’s darling. No one even mentioned prosecuting him for breaking the law, or impeaching him for violating his official obligations.

Ultimately, what Newsome did wasn’t civil disobedience, it was just a media stunt.  The public most certainly did not have its conscience shocked by the spectacle of a righteous man felled by an unjust government. There was nothing principled going on.  Instead, it was sheer opportunism, without either moral and practical weight.

Davis, however, is engaging in an act of civil disobedience of the type that Thoreau, Gandhi, and King championed:  In the face of an unjust government, one that has asserted an alleged  “civil rights” principle that makes a mockery and a shambles of those rights inherent in the Constitution, King has opted to take a stand.  More than that, she is willing to take the precise stand that Thoreau recommended:  “Under a government which imprisons unjustly, the true place for a just man is also a prison.”

Davis’s martyrdom exposes the terrible think that happened when Justice Kennedy wrote his teary, maudlin encomium to the federal government’s hitherto unknown obligation to smooth the path of love:  The Supreme Court effectively imposed a religious test on government employment.

In Kennedy’s brave new world, if you wish to work for the government, you must abandon a core tenet of your faith.  We are not talking here about religious practices that are less central to the faith, such as rules about attire or diet.  There is, after all, a difference between ritual and doctrine.  For examples, the rabbis have long held that, when orthodox Jews are faced with a choice between hewing to kosher dietary laws or starving to death, they may eat non-kosher food.  What they cannot do, though, is back away from the covenant with God and the Ten Commandments.

The sanctity of monogamous heterosexual marriage is intrinsic to the Judeo-Christian tradition.  In the Catholic faith, it’s a sacrament.  It is a core doctrine, not a ritual.

Going back in time a few hundred years, one of the primary things that drove British people to America’s shores — beginning in 1620 — was religious discrimination.  A significant feature of this discrimination came into being in the late 17th century with various laws aimed at preventing anyone who was not a member of the Church of England from holding public office (civil or military) or working in a university or college.  To get those jobs, one had to take an oath:

I, ____________, profess, testify, and declare, that I do believe that in the Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper there is not any Transubstantiation of the elements of bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ at or after the consecration thereof by any person whatsoever: and that the invocation or adoration of the Virgin Mary or any other Saint, and the Sacrifice of the Mass, as they are now used in the Church of Rome, are superstitious and idolatrous…

In other words, no non-conformists, Catholics, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, or practitioners of any other non-C of E religions need apply. It was against this backdrop that the Founders, more than twenty years before England slowly started reforming its religious restrictions, enacted the First Amendment to the Constitution, the very first clause of which definitively rejects a religious test for public employment:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Today, though, thanks again to Judge Kennedy’s fatuous romanticism and magical constitutional thinking, we are seeing the federal government reject the First Amendment and revert to the Test Act mentality. Davis and others similarly situated are being forced into the equivalent of an oath, by which they effectively must vow as follows:

I, ___________, profess, testify, and declare that I no longer believe in the meaningless of the sacrament of heterosexual marriage despite the fact that it is central to core Judeo-Christian tradition, and has been so for thousands of years, and that up until last year, every mainstream politician in America purported to believe in traditional marriage’s sanctity on religious grounds.  Henceforth, in order to hold my government job, I further profess, testify, and declare that marriage has no meaning other than the joining together before the government of any combination of humans (and perhaps, one day, animals) who orally or through tail wagging profess their love for each other.  My former invocation of traditional precepts is homophobic, hate-filled, and both a micro- and a macroagression.

I warned years ago that, if the gay marriage crowd got its way, we would see the end of the First Amendment and I issued this warning because I foresaw what is happening here:  Because gay marriage is antithetical to mainstream traditional faith it can be forced on Americans only if the federal government requires people to abandon their faith — something directly contrary to the promise of the Bill of Rights.

Kim Davis may not be a pretty Hollywood star or an even prettier San Francisco mayor, and her own approach to traditional monogamous heterosexual marriage may be spotty, but she has proven herself to be a true member of the civil disobedience club, one who is willing to go to jail to defend her civil right to practice her religion freely without the United States government forcing her to abandon core doctrinal beliefs as a condition for employment.

The “Un-Strike”; or, the case for ICE agents to ignore Obama and enforce immigration laws

Illegal not a race a crimeThe Third World is moving in on the First World in numbers that probably haven’t been seen since the barbarians made their moves against Rome. In Europe, there’s a race to see which nation can commit suicide faster. Here at home, Donald Trump has become a single issue candidate, but what an issue: America, he states firmly, needs to start enforcing her own immigration laws by deporting illegal immigrants. A recent poll indicates that almost 60% of Americans agree with Trump:

The latest IBD/TIPP Poll asked 913 adults coast to coast if they “support or oppose mandatory deportation of illegal immigrants in the U.S.” Not surprisingly, 87% of Trump supporters back the proposal.

What’s surprising is that 59% of the overall public does as well. Mandatory deportation gets majority support in all age groups except 18-24, every income group, among both women and men, at every level of educational achievement, and in rural, urban and suburban regions.

More interesting still is the fact that 64% of independents and 55% of moderates support deportation.

Even among Hispanics, the poll found 40% backed mandatory deportation — although the sample size is too small to make much of that number.

It’s no wonder Americans are upset. Last summer, tens of thousands of children poured across America’s southern border, and the Obama administration, rather than returning them to Mexico and allowing that nation (which has singularly stringent immigration laws) to deal with them, quickly dispersed them — and their contagious diseases and gang members — throughout America. The administration showed a blatant disregard for the statutory immigration scheme that Congress, which rumor has it represents the American people, has enacted.

This year a young woman named Katie Steinle, while walking in San Francisco, which has styled itself as a “sanctuary city” (meaning that, with federal connivance, it blatantly flouts immigration laws), was shot to death by an illegal alien. Not only was he an illegal alien, but he was a five-time deportee who had actually been in custody, but was on the streets because of the City’s and the federal government’s “catch-and-release-back-in-the-U.S.” program. Steinle’s family is now suing San Francisco’s uber-Leftist Sheriff, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and The Bureau of Land Management.

The Steinles’ decision to include Immigration and Customs Enforcement (“ICE”) in the lawsuit really started me thinking about the rank-and-file agents in ICE, including what they are supposed to do, what they actually do, and what they want to do. According to ICE’s own website, the agents in Enforcement and Removal Operations (“ERO”) have an explicit mandate to serve as the police force carrying out the nation’s immigration laws against those who enter or remain in this country in violation of those same laws.

ICE’s self-described mission, and the specific tasks underlying that mission are quoted in full below although, if long government paragraphs bore you, you can skip most of it. The gist is that ICE agents are supposed to apprehend bad guy aliens, stop manifestly illegal aliens at the border, and to catch and get rid of illegal aliens already in the country. Priority goes to the seriously bad aliens, but everyone is theoretically on the “if you’re not here legally, you need to leave” list:

To identify, arrest, and remove aliens who present a danger to national security or are a risk to public safety, as well as those who enter the United States illegally or otherwise undermine the integrity of our immigration laws and our border control efforts. Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) upholds America’s immigration laws at, within and beyond our borders through efficient enforcement and removal operations.

Means of effectuating the mission:

ERO enforces the nation’s immigration laws in a fair and effective manner. It identifies and apprehends removable aliens, detains these individuals when necessary and removes illegal aliens from the United States.

ERO prioritizes the apprehension, arrest and removal of convicted criminals, those who pose a threat to national security, fugitives and recent border entrants. Individuals seeking asylum also work with ERO.

ERO transports removable aliens from point to point, manages aliens in custody or in an alternative to detention program, provides access to legal resources and representatives of advocacy groups and removes individuals from the United States who have been ordered to be deported.

FY 2014 ICE Immigration Removals

In addition to its criminal investigative responsibilities, ICE shares responsibility for enforcing the nation’s civil immigration laws with U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). ICE’s role in the immigration enforcement system is focused on two primary missions: (1) the identification and apprehension of criminal aliens and other removable individuals located in the United States; and (2) the detention and removal of those individuals apprehended in the interior of the U.S., as well as those apprehended by CBP officers and agents patrolling our nation’s borders.

In executing these responsibilities, ICE has prioritized its limited resources on the identification and removal of criminal aliens and those apprehended at the border while attempting to unlawfully enter the United States. This report provides an overview of ICE Fiscal Year (FY) 2014 civil immigration enforcement and removal operations.

The flood of illegal immigrants at the border; the blind-eye that’s turned on people who are here illegally, whether because they sneaked in or overstayed their welcome; and the catch-and-release practice that led to Katie Steinle’s death all seem to indicate that rank-and-file ICE agents are slackers. In fact, they’re not.

The reality is that ICE agents on the ground want to do their jobs. When they apprehend illegal aliens in the act of crossing the border, they want to turn them right around. When they discover that the driver who just rear-ended a little old lady is here illegally, they want to send her back to her country of origin. When they know that the Mexican or Saudi student has overstayed his visa, they want to kick him out. But they can’t.

As Chris Crane, President of the National Immigration and Customs Enforcement Council (118) of the American Federation of Government Employees testified before Congress, that orders from above — that is, the orders from the Obama administration — are that ICE agents must refrain from carrying out their duties under the law. Unlike the website blather above, Crane’s February 5, 2013, testimony, much of which I’ve excerpted here, deserves to be read at length. I’ve added to the testimony only by inserting bracketed references to the federal laws that the administration is forcing the agents to violate:

However, ICE agents do believe in law enforcement and the rule of law. Most Americans going about their daily lives believe that ICE agents and officers are permitted to enforce the laws of the United States. However, ICE agents and officers would tell America a much different story.

The day-to-day duties of ICE agents and officers often seem in conflict with the law as ICE officers are prohibited from enforcing many laws enacted by Congress; laws they took an oath to enforce. ICE is not guided in large part by the influences of powerful special interest groups that advocate on behalf of illegal aliens. These influences have in large part eroded the order, stability and effectiveness of the agency, creating confusion among all ICE employees. For the last four years it has been a roller coaster for ICE officers with regard to who they can or cannot arrest, and which Federal laws they will be permitted to enforce. Most of these directives restricting enforcement are given only verbally to prevent written evidence from reaching the public.

Most Americans would be surprised to know that immigration agents are regularly prohibited from enforcing the two most fundamental sections of United States immigration law. According to ICE policy, in most cases immigration agents can no longer arrest persons solely for entering the United States illegally [in direct contravention of 8 U.S. Code §§ 1225 and 1227]. Additionally, in most cases immigration agents cannot arrest persons solely because they have entered the United States with a visa and then overstayed that visa and failed to return to their country [in direct contravention of 8 U.S.Code § 1227]. Essentially, only individuals charged or convicted of very serious criminal offenses by other law enforcement agencies may be arrested or charged by ICE agents and officers for illegal entry or overstay.

In fact, under current policy individuals illegally in the United States must now be convicted of three or more criminal misdemeanors before ICE agents are permitted to charge or arrest the illegal alien for illegal entry or overstaying a visa, unless the misdemeanors involve the most serious types of offenses such as assault, sexual abuse or drug trafficking [in contravention of 8 U.S. Code § 1227]. With regard to traffic violations, other than DUI and fleeing the scene of an accident, ICE agents are also prohibited from making an immigration arrest of illegal aliens who have multiple convictions for traffic related misdemeanors.

[snip]

DACA, or Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, which prevents the deportation of many aliens brought to the U.S. as children, is for the most part applied by ICE immigration agents to adults held in state correctional facilities and jails pending criminal charges. News has spread quickly through illegal alien populations within jails and communities that immigration agents have been instructed by the agency not to investigate illegal aliens who claim protections from immigration arrest under DACA. ICE immigration agents have been instructed to accept the illegal alien’s claim as to whether he or she graduated or is attending high school or college or otherwise qualifies under DACA. Illegal aliens are not required to provide officers with any type of proof such as a diploma or transcripts to prove that they qualify before being released. Even though the immigration officer generally has no proof that the alien qualifies under DACA, officers may not arrest these aliens unless a qualifying criminal conviction or other disqualifier exists. As one immigration agent stated last week, “every person we encounter in the jails now claims to qualify for release under DACA.”

[snip]

Also important to understand, pressures from special interest groups have resulted in the majority of ICE agents and officers being prohibited from making street arrests. Most officers are only allowed to work inside of jails hidden from public view, and may only arrest certain individuals who have already been already been arrested by police departments and other Federal agencies. As a general rule, if ICE agents or officers are on duty in a public place and witness a violation of immigration law, they are prohibited from making arrests and from asking questions under threat of disciplinary action.

[snip]

In Salt Lake City, Utah, three ICE agents witnessed an individual admit in open court to a Federal Immigration Judge that he was in the United States illegally. ICE agents waited until the alien left the hearing and then politely asked him to accompany them, never using handcuffs in the course of the arrest. An immigration attorney and activist called the ICE Field Office Director in Salt Lake City verbally complaining that ICE officers had arrested an illegal alien. The ICE Field Office Director responded by ordering that all charges against the illegal alien be dropped and that the alien be released immediately. While the ICE Director ordered the immigration violator to be set free, the Director also ordered that all three ICE agents be placed under investigation for no other reason than arresting an illegal alien.

The administration, of course, contends that it’s just allocating resources. The ICE agents’ complaints, however, make it clear that they are ready, willing, and able to carry out their mandate, but are being instructed not to do so — and that their jobs are on the line if they refuse to slack off.

ICE agents are so frustrated about their inability to protect America’s sovereignty (i.e., her ability to control her borders and make her own decisions, even misguided ones, about the level of legal immigration she wants) that several of them filed suit against the Obama administration begging to be allowed to do their jobs, at least as regards those phony DREAMers. Sadly, the suit failed:

In an Order issued July 31 (full embed at bottom of post), the Judge agreed with the government on the jurisdiction issue, finding that although the government violated the law, these plaintiffs could not bring suit and the court therefore lacked subject matter jurisdiction over the plaintiffs’ claims.  The Court dismissed the case “without prejudice,” meaning that the dismissal was not binding and that some person not bound by CSRA could raise the same issues as to which the Court found illegality. . . .

The current situation when it comes to ICE and the Obama administration can be summed up as follows:

1. Congress has passed laws empowering the federal government, through its agents, to

a. Block manifestly illegal immigrants as they cross the border;

b. Deport people who entered the country legally but overstayed their right to be here and who cannot prove that they are subject to an exception, such as the DREAM Act; and

c. Deport manifestly illegal aliens in the country who have been caught engaging in any type of criminal conduct, above and beyond the baseline criminal act of being in the country illegally.

2. ICE agents believe themselves capable of carrying out these statutory mandates. That is, they believe their abilities extend beyond merely apprehending the worst behaved criminal illegal aliens.

3. Both directly and indirectly — through explicit mandates, oral orders passed through the chain of command, and pressure regarding job security — the Obama administration blocks ICE agents from carrying out their statutory responsibilities.

4. Representatives for ICE agents have tried both through lawsuits and Congressional testimony to change the administration’s ukase on enacting the immigration laws, but with no success.

When I discussed this situation with a friend, I threw in the off-the-cuff remark that “the agents should strike.” This is an impossibility, of course. Federal agencies are barred by law from striking, something Ronald Reagan established definitively in 1981 when he fired the air traffic controllers following a walk-out.

But if ICE agents can’t “walk off” the job, can they “walk on” the job, so to speak? That is, does concerted ICE agent action constitute a strike if the agents insist on carrying out their duties when the administration insists instead that they violate the law? I did a little research and it seems entirely possible that the agents do not run afoul of strike laws if they ignore executive orders and insinuations that they cannot perform their jobs in accordance with Congressional mandates.

The controlling authority here is 5 USCA § 7311. That statute provides in relevant part as follows:

An individual may not accept or hold a position in the Government of the United States or the government of the District of Columbia if he—

[snip]

(3) participates in a strike, or asserts the right to strike, against the Government of the United States or the government of the District of Columbia. . . .

In the context of § 7311(3), the word “strike” is a term of art with a very specific meaning. It doesn’t mean just “oppose the executive branch.” Instead, it means to refuse to work, whether by slowing down or stopping altogether. Anything else is not a “strike” as contemplated by the statute:

These concepts of ‘striking’ and ‘participating in a strike’ occupy central positions in our labor statutes and accompanying caselaw, and have been construed and interpreted many times by numerous state and federal courts. ‘Strike’ is defined in § 501(2) of the Taft-Hartley Act to include ‘any strike or other concerted stoppage of work by employees * * * and any concerted slowdown or other concerted interruption of operations by employees.’ On its face this is a straightforward definition. It is difficult to understand how a word used and defined so often could be sufficiently ambiguous as to be constitutionally suspect. ‘Strike’ is a term of such common usage and acceptance that ‘men of common intelligence’ need not guess at its meaning. Connally v. General Construction Co. [269 U.S. 385, 391, 46 S.Ct. 126, 127, 70 L.Ed. 322 (1926)], supra, at 391, 46 S.Ct. at 127.

[snip]

We stress that it is only an actual refusal by particular employees to provide services that is forbidden by 5 U.S.C. § 7311(3) and penalized by 18 U.S.C. § 1918.

United Federation of Postal Clerks v. Blount (D.D.C. 1971) 325 F.Supp. 879, 884 aff’d, (1971) 404 U.S. 802 [92 S.Ct. 80, 30 L.Ed.2d 38] (emphasis added).

The above definition appears to be the last, best word on the subject. As far as I can tell, at least in the context of § 7311(3), no other federal court has challenged United Federation of Postal Clerks regarding this definition.

What this means, at least in theory, is that ICE workers can do an “un-strike.” They can challenge the administration by doing their job. Sure, it’s risky. If only five agents do that — if they proactively turn illegal aliens back at the border rather than housing and distributing them throughout America — not only will they be fired, their protest-by-actually-doing-their-job won’t make the newspaper.  They will be martyrs without a cause.

However, if the vast majority of ICE agents take a public stand by actually carrying out their jobs, the administration has a problem, especially because a significant majority of Americans support deporting illegal aliens. Moreover, if the administration tries to discipline or fire thousands of agents for actually doing their jobs it will find itself in the midst of a PR firestorm, not to mention that it will lack any authority whatsoever to fire employees for doing their job.

Just imagine the administration trying to defend its decision to fire agents who are actually working. To date, the administration’s rationale for ignoring huge sections of the federal immigration scheme is that the executive has the right to allocate limited resources. According to Obama & Co., ICE resources are so limited that just about the only thing ICE can do is get rid of violently criminal illegal aliens. That statement will fall part if the administration is seen trying to block agents who say that they are easily able to enforce immigration laws other than those limited to violent felons. At that point, the administration either has to fall in line with the ICE agents or think really fast to explain why it’s ordering its employees to violate federal law.

Anyway, that’s my theory. I’m not an immigration lawyer, so what I don’t know far exceeds what I do know. I would appreciate anyone who can educate me further about whether I’m on the right track here or have derailed completely.

Watcher’s Council nominations for September 2, 2015

Here’s what I’m reading, enjoying, and learning from today:

Interesting times indeed…

Welcome to the Watcher’s Council, a blogging group consisting of some of the most incisive blogs in the ‘sphere, and the longest running group of its kind in existence. Every week, the members nominate two posts each, one written by themselves and one written by someone from outside the group for consideration by the whole Council.Then we vote on the best two posts, with the results appearing on Friday morning.

Council News:

Don Surber has published his second book, part of his series ‘Exceptional Americans – The Capitalists.’ Like the first one, it’s series of short essays on amazing Americans, many of whom you will never have heard of whom changed the way we live. And it’s a perfect antidote for sheep-like baa baa-ing of the ‘socialism is good’ crowd. Available at Create Space, and at Amazon and on kindle by Labor Day. Highly recommended.

So, let’s see what we have for you today…

[Read more…]

Obama the strong leader, Trump the unpredictable one, and the possibility of a non-strike by federal immigration workers

This is a portmanteau post, with several ideas that seemed to flow together.  It begins with today’s news that the Democ-RATS today gave Obama the veto power he needs to override the Senate’s overwhelming disapproval of his Iran Deal. This news meant that a poster that Caped Crusader sent me yesterday resonates more strongly than ever:

Obama a very effective president

I agree with everything in the poster except the last line. Although you know I get disheartened at times, if I agreed with the last line I would stop blogging, sell my house, and, with the proceeds, buy a remote island somewhere in the Pacific on which would construct a very deep bomb shelter that I would then stock with ten years worth of survivalist supplies. I still have some hope that a strong conservative in the White House can turn things around.

Sadly, I don’t believe Trump is the strong conservative we need. Trump is a man without fixed principles. Dig down on any subject, and you’ll  discover that positions reflect whatever thoughts happen to be passing through his mind at a given moment. Some of those thoughts have merit, as with his objection to an unprincipled administration that is blatantly violating our nation’s immigration laws or with his refusal to play the media and political correctness games. I strongly applaud him for both those stands. On other matters, though, it’s apparent (a) that he hasn’t thought about them, which someone aiming for the executive office would do well to do and (b) that he doesn’t have a strong principle driving his governing philosophy.

It’s that last — the absence of an ideological basis — that has me worried. I want a doctrinaire conservative, one whose guiding belief is that the government’s role should be limited at home, while maintaining a strong national security focus abroad (and, within constitutional limits, at home too). Trump is an unguided and uninformed missile who is capable of doing anything and of too easily losing his way when situations become complicated. He may have refreshing insights, but to the extent that his principles are defined by his navel and not by any fixed points, he is very likely to become a loose cannon demagogue.

Indeed, even on his key issue of illegal immigration, one has to wonder if his position even rises to this level of thought:

Illegal immigration

By the way, one of the most disturbing aspects of President Obama’s willingness to disregard American law is the fact that people working in Immigration enforcement seem to have gone along so willingly with his order to them to stand down from their statutorily defined responsibilities. With this thought in mind, I jokingly said to a friend that, if they don’t agree with Obama’s open borders policy (a policy that directly contradicts standing laws in the federal code), they ought to strike. My friend reminded me that federal workers cannot go on strike — something made very clear when Reagan fired the air traffic controllers.

Thinking about it, though, I wondered if there’s not an exploitable wrinkle here for concerted action by federal workers. It’s commonly understand that a strike occurs when a worker refuses to do his job in the hope of improving his position through better work conditions or more moneys.  Thus, Black’s Law Dictionary ties a “strike” to a work stoppage as a means of coercing concessions from an employer:

The act of a body of workmen employed by the same master, in stopping work all together at a prearranged time, and refusing to continue until higher wages, or shorter time, or some other concession is granted to them by the employer. See Farmers’ L. & T. Co. v. Northern Pac. R. Co. (C. C.) 00 Fed. 819; Arthur v. Oakes, 63 Fed. 327, 11 C. C. A. 209, 25 L. R. A. 414; Railroad Co. v. Bowns, 58 N. Y. 582; Longshore Printing Co. v. Howell, 26 Or. 527, 38 Pac. 547, 28 L. It A. 401, 40 Am. St. Rep. 640.

The question is whether federal employee action is still a “strike” when the workers insist on doing their statutorily defined job in the face of an order from the executive branch insisting that the worker violating federal law by refraining from working.  Wouldn’t that be the opposite of a strike?  And if it’s the opposite of a strike, does 5 USC § 7311, the federal no-strike statute, apply?

An individual may not accept or hold a position in the Government of the United States or the government of the District of Columbia if he—

[snip]

(3) participates in a strike, or asserts the right to strike, against the Government of the United States or the government of the District of Columbia;

I’m just playing around with an idea here, and have not researched it in any way. What do you think (or actually know as a fact) on this subject? Is it a “strike” if the employees, rather than stopping work, continuing to work in the face of an illegal executive order requiring them to stand down in violation of existing federal law?

The Bookworm Beat 9-1-15 — the “doggone it days of summer” edition and open thread *UPDATED*

Woman-writing-300x265There’s no rain in sight for the next fifteen days, but with August at an end and September beginning, this still feels like the last of the summer to me. Even as summer ends, though, the crazy goes on, and I’ve got the links to prove it (and many thanks to a friend who wishes to remain anonymous for his help assembling some of these links):

Not that the Left will listen to Dick Cheney

Dick Cheney is weighing in on the Iran “Deal,” saying the obvious, that it makes war more, not less, likely.  Unstated is the 1930’s lesson, that the costs of waiting for war until Iran is far better armed and has nuclear weapons will make the cost in blood and gold rise exponentially.

Hillary reduced to name calling and insults

James Taranto’s BOTW today is a great one analyzing Hildabeast’s decision to begin making outlandish accusations and allusions to terrorists and Nazis.  She is flailing:

“Terrorist groups” and “boxcars” do not appear to be mere gaffes. If you watch the videos of Mrs. Clinton’s comments, you will note that both inflammatory utterances are preceded by pregnant pauses, suggesting that she chose the words deliberately—that her intent was to inflame. Why?

[snip]

Is the ugly rhetoric really necessary? Maybe so. In an interview with the Register, Democratic strategist Steve McMahon offers this explanation for the Sanders surge: “Voters right now are flocking to the angry, authentic outsiders and moving away from the cautious or calculating establishment insiders.” (One might add that also describes Trump and the Republicans.) Mrs. Clinton is no outsider and will never be described as authentic, so she has to try extra hard to appeal to anger.

And it’s nothing new for her. When Bill Clinton was president, Mrs. Clinton played Agnew to his Nixon. She, not he, blamed his sex scandals on a “vast right-wing conspiracy.” Until last week, her campaign rhetoric had been decidedly bland, and it’s hardly surprising she’d feel the need to spice it up. But as Jonathan Haidt observes in “The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion”: “You can’t have a cuisine . . . based primarily on bitter tastes.”

Higher education continues to sink ever lower

This from Elizabeth Foley at Instapundit on the latest from a college that needs to be burned to the ground and the earth salted:

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[VIDEO & POSTERS] The paralyzing effects of Leftist speech codes

censoredShould I apologize for the number of videos about free speech I’m sending your way today?  It’s just that there are so many good ones that friends have sent me that I feel compelled to share them.  Take, for example, Colin Quinn’s short, pungent, hysterically funny riff about the way in the Leftist speech police make ordinary conversation impossible:

I found the video especially relevant today because a friend of mine (nice gal, but very Left) posted two cartoons in the last two days, both of which she thought very meaningful and both of which are intended to shut down speech entirely:

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[VIDEO] American universities continue their crackdown on free speech

Liberals Conservatives censorship

Censorship is strong and growing on American campuses.  It’s disguised by words and phrases such as “microaggressions,” “trigger warnings,” and “political correctness,” but it all boils down to the same thing:  Telling people with whom the Left disagrees to “shut up,” but hiding that dictatorial ukase behind Orwellian phrases implying kindness and sensitivity.

Incidentally, this video is the perfect companion to a video I posted earlier today, which shows how the line between satire and reality has almost vanished completely on America’s college campuses.

[VIDEO] A historic comparison between the ongoing Muslim jihad and the short-lived Christian crusades

Educating Obama about the Crusades and JihadI think each of us has been confronted with a Leftist who, when we point out a problem with jihad (for example, the fact that ISIS just burned alive four Iraqi soldiers), invariably comes back with one word:  “Crusades.”  In the Leftist mind, the fact that nine hundred years ago Christians entered Muslim lands stands as a complete refutation to modern complaints about jihad’s depredations.

When you try to explain to a Leftist that the Crusades were not an offensive series of battles but were, instead, a small number of defensive battles aimed at recovering land lost to jihad, your average Leftist will shoot you a blank look, while muttering something about “Islamophobic.”  Perhaps this video will help you make your point, at least with the less doctrinal Leftists: