My friends and I refuse to give in to despair regarding the Supreme Court ruling

Many people are asserting that, in the wake of the Supreme Court ruling, the end is near.  I see that in op-eds, in blog posts, and in my email box.  America’s constitutional experiment is over, they say.  They might be right.  Or not.

But here’s the deal:  if we give in to despair now, they not only might be right, they will be right.  Our political will is currently the only thing standing between a constitutional America and another failed socialist state.  If we collapse now, we’ve lost.  Or, more simply, winners never quit, and quitters never win.

My last two posts about the Supreme Court ruling might be Pollyanna-ish, as I struggle to find a justification for Judge Roberts’ decision (or more accurately, a justification that doesn’t involve drugs, insanity, and blackmail), but they’re necessary.  They’re necessary for my mental health, but they’re also necessary for the conservative movement in America.  Frankly, if we give up now, we don’t deserve a voice in our country’s future.  We’re wusses, who whine and then do nothing.

I’m not the only one who feels this way.  My friend Lulu send me an email that says much the same, and she said I could reprint it here:

Last night I was feeling down about Roberts’ dismaying, incomprehensible betrayal. I felt angry that the fate of our country could ride on the shoulders of one man’s bad decision. Conservatives had enjoyed months of seeing an increasingly unhinged Obama getting closer and closer to a public meltdown. Now we got to again see him strutting and puffing, full of himself and his own grandiosity.

Then I had these comforting thoughts. Obama’s personal victory comes at the price of a law that the majority of Americans don’t want, which diminishes our freedom, and is expensive for the middle class. Romney is a clever man who has run a clever campaign. He will hammer relentlessly on, not only the economy, but on the massive tax we are about to be loaded with to have forced on us something we don’t want. Conservatives are energized and livid.

The victory is Wisconsin hasn’t gone away. The Unions are challenged as never before. We need to be relentless there, and courageous, and continue to point out how the Wisconsin economy revived. We were riding elated after Wisconsin, now they are, but behind Wisconsin was a proven successful economy. Behind ObamaCare is a hugely unpopular and expensive albatross. Defend that.

Here’s what we need to do. Every Conservative should donate to the Romney campaign and to at least one candidate for Senate and the House. Get involved on the grass-roots level in the campaigns. Volunteer.

Do what we can to infiltrate the media. Imagine what an attractive, intelligent black Conservative woman, like Star Parker, could do with a daytime talk show, educating and promoting articulately her ideas on patriotism and self-sufficiency to stay-at-homes and fellow African-Americans. Breitbart always said that Sarah Palin would be the Conservative Oprah. Why not a campaign to get her on TV?

Conservatives, encourage your kids to go into education, to run for the school board, to become administrators. Fight back with numbers.

And expose, expose, expose their lie of being tolerant every time they give the finger to Reagan in the Whitehouse or mock Mormons in a Broadway play, and etc. Inundate the networks with protests

Arise folks, and fight like your country depends on it.

Blogs can  lead the way by helping let us know what we can do, numbers we can call, and by giving us a forum to expose.

A sleeping giant woke with the tea party. Now it is furious. We must Educate, educate, educate.

Giving up is the easy way out.  We need to work harder than ever now.  If nothing else, hard work will keep us from feeling sorry for ourselves.

Please pardon me if I seem like a scold here, but the conservative counter-revolution to the 60s’ counter-culture revolution needs to start somewhere.  We’re at the starting line for the race of our lives, the gun has sounded, and we have to run.  Run hard, run fast.

Judge Roberts’ decision forces Americans to stand on their own two feet — and that’s a good thing *UPDATED*

[UPDATE:  Since I wrote this post, there is now reason to believe that Roberts issued his opinion for the wrong reasons, not the right ones.  If I were to rewrite this post today, I would be less charitable to the man.  Nevertheless, putting aside Roberts' motives, I stand by the substance of my post, which is that it forces conservatives to recognize that they cannot look to any branch of the government for succor from Big Government.]

Now that the first shock of the Roberts opinion is over, many conservatives are very busy digging through the pile of manure, confident that there’s a pony in there somewhere.  In this, we are distinct from our Progressive/Democrat counterparts, who would be busy rioting in the streets and sending death threats to John Roberts.

Having had more than 24 hours to come to terms with the decision, I’m beginning to think that there may indeed be a pony (or several ponies) hiding in there somewhere.  Moreover, I’m also realizing that Roberts, despite the apparent wackiness of his decision, stayed true to his constitutional roots.

As is always the case with me, I build my argument slowly, so please bear with me.  I’ll try to maintain some tension and excitement as I go.

Speaking of tension and excitement, my first point involves a screaming fight some colleagues of mine got into yesterday.  Because they’re nice folks, it wasn’t a vicious, personal, ad hominem fight.  They just kept making the same points over and over again, at ever-increasing volume.  They seem to have locked into the same line of reasoning that says that, if you speak really LOUDLY to someone who doesn’t understand English, you will make yourself understood.

The topic my friends were debating was whether heroin should be legal or not.  One side staunchly opposed legality because heroin is so dangerous; the other side equally staunchly advocated legalizing the drug, because it has benefits that go beyond the medicinal.  (I’ll take the other side’s word for it, since recreational heroin seems merely self-indulgent to me.)

What was fascinating was that both sides laid claim to the government to support their argument.  Those who feared heroin’s risks felt that only the government could protect Americans from the drug’s dangers.  Those who believed it should be legalized, after pointing out correctly that making heroin illegal doesn’t stop either its use or the societal downsides, believed that only government could manage heroin.  These people envisioned corner dispensaries, apparently along the line of the DMV.

At a facetious level, I have to agree with the guy who wants to put heroin in government hands.  Can you think of anything that would make heroin less appealing than having to deal with government functionaries a la your local DMV?  I can just see it now:  Long lines, rude clerks, poor quality service, mountainous bureaucracy and, to make it worse, you’ve got the joneses the whole time.

At a more serious level, both sides were right and both were wrong.  Making heroin illegal hasn’t stopped heroin use, just as it hasn’t stopped marijuana use, or underage drinking.  Putting it in government hands, however, is a recipe for corruption and still won’t stem abuse.  It will just make the government the pusher, which is a sleazy and awful idea.

Perhaps the smartest thing is to legalize heroin and put it into the free market.  Then, as we do with alcohol, we punish behaviors that stem from the abuse, such as driving under the influence or, less directly, any robberies, assaults, etc., that results from someone’s need for the drug or use of the drug. Let individuals make their choices.

Of course, some individuals aren’t in a position to make a choice.  They get the burdens, not the benefits.  Which leads me, inevitably, to Prohibition.  (Believe it or not, I’m still on track to a rip-roaring conclusion about Justice Roberts’ opinion.)

Prohibition was not the result of whacked out Church ladies, anxious to destroy all joy in the world.  Instead, it arose in response to an alcohol-soaked culture, one that saw working men instantly spending their paychecks at the local saloon.  “Father, dear Father, come home with me now,” wasn’t just a maudlin song; it was real life for tens of thousands of children, begging their father to leave the saloon and bring what little remained of his week’s pay home to the family.  Of course, when father came home, there was always the risk that he’d beat the living daylights out of Mama and the kids, but as long as he brought some money with him, what could you do?

The Dry Movement was a direct response to America’s sodden state.  But here’s the thing:  the reason Prohibition passed was because the culture changed so radically that a critical mass of Americans could force a change to the Constitution.  By 1920 — and this is something no one at the time realized — the paradigm shift in American culture was probably sufficient to change its drinking habits without coercive pressure from the federal government.  Drinking was no longer morally acceptable in many communities, which were already dry by 1920.  Local values controlled.  People who hated alcohol could move to a Dry town or they could agitate to change things within their own communities.

Once the government stepped in to control alcohol (and it was controlled, rather than completely prohibited, as certain religious or “medicinal” brews were still allowed), all Hell broke loose.  We became a nation of scofflaws, organized crime, and corrupt law enforcement.  Yes, drinking did continue to diminish, but it had already been diminishing before the Feds stepped in.  All that happened with government-control is that bad things happened too.

You can see an analogous situation with Johnson’s Great Society.  In the years leading to it, two things happened in America:  The Civil Rights movement, which focused on the serious wrongs done to black Americans, and which was a topic that dominated America’s intellectual airspace; and the rise of the black middle class, which happened behind the scenes as the culture changed.

Laws banning discrimination rightly addressed the Civil Rights crimes.  However, the Democrats added to the mix huge changes in welfare, i.e., Government-involvement in black lives.  As is so often the case with the government good intentions, the massive legislative intervention into American life — and, specifically, into black American’s lives — reversed black folk’s economic advancement.  If the government could just have stopped itself with leveling the playing field, it’s questionable whether today blacks would consistently rank among America’s poorest, least educated, and crime-ridden population.  The problem was that, in the 1960s, as in the 1920s, Americans, especially educated Americans, couldn’t conceive of an organic solution to a visible problem.  Government had to “fix” things.

Which, at long last, gets me back to health care and Justice Roberts’ decision.  (And you doubted that I would ever loop back to my main point.  Oh, ye of little faith!)  Roberts wrote the decision at the end of a 90 year continuum holding that Government fixes problems and the Supreme Court fixes Government.  This approach makes “We, the people” unnecessary.  Rather than elections being the corrective, the Court is the corrective — except that the Court’s make-up is controlled by the Government.  (Remember the Bork debacle?)

Roberts refused to play this game.  He slapped back the Democrats’ hands when it came to the Commerce Clause, telling them that the federal government cannot legislate inactivity.  And he held — quite correctly — that if there’s any possible way for the Court to salvage a law, it must do so.  His salvaging was to say that, this particular law, written in this particular way, with these particular controls over the people, can be salvaged by calling it a tax.  It’s an ugly decision, but probably a correct one.  And then he tossed the whole thing back to the American people.

I can just see Roberts’ thought-process (although he might have thought in more polite terms):  You idiots elected a Congress and president that used every kind of political chicanery known to man in order to pass the biggest tax in American history and one that, moreover, completely corrupts the free market system.  It’s not the Supreme Court’s responsibility to correct that kind of thing, provided that the judges can, as I did, find a smidgen of constitutionality in it.  There’s an election coming up in November.  Let’s hope you’ve wised up enough to figure out that my Supreme Court is returning power to “We, the people.”  We will not pull your chestnuts out of the fire.  We will not legislate from the bench.  We will construe things as narrowly as possible.  If you, the people, don’t like it, you, the people, elect different representatives.

In the short run, this is an enormously painful pile of manure for American conservatives.  In the long run (a run that, I hope, includes November 2012), if we Americans are smart and genuinely believe in our liberties, we’ll find so many ponies in that manure we’ll be able to have a pony parade right up to the steps of White House and both Houses of Congress.

 

Second and third thoughts about the ObamaCare decision, which does have some saving grace

I was driving along in the car and, suddenly, the phrase “Roe v. Wade” popped into my head.  In 1973, the Supreme Court waded into what should have been a state-by-state legislative matter, and created the most vicious 39 year fight in America since the Civil War.  One side found the decision completely invalid, while the other side became so invested in its validity that it almost became a one-issue party — and, moreover, a one-issue party that became ever more extreme in its defense of its victory.  By parsing the decision as he did, Justice Roberts prevented another American civil war.

When I returned home and turned on my computer, I discovered that Charles Krauthammer was thinking along the same lines.  If I’m in sync with Krauthammer, I’m clearly in good company.

Krauthammer’s view is that Roberts wears two hats.  The first hat is the constitutional conservative, which kicked in to prevent him from allowing a vast expansion of the Commerce Clause.  The second hat is as the Supreme Court’s custodian.  That second hat requires Roberts to protect a Court that’s been under a shadow since the decisions in Roe v. Wade (favoring the Dems) and Bush v. Gore (favor the Republicans).  So, after wearing his conservative hat to deal with the Commerce Clause, Roberts still had some work left to do:

That’s Roberts, philosophical conservative. But he lives in uneasy coexistence with Roberts, custodian of the Court, acutely aware that the judiciary’s arrogation of power has eroded the esteem in which it was once held. Most of this arrogation occurred under the liberal Warren and Burger Courts, most egregiously with Roe v. Wade, which willfully struck down the duly passed abortion laws of 46 states. The result has been four decades of popular protest and resistance to an act of judicial arrogance that, as Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg once said, “deferred stable settlement of the issue” by the normal electoral/legislative process.

More recently, however, few decisions have occasioned more bitterness and rancor than Bush v. Gore, a 5–4 decision split along ideological lines. It was seen by many (principally, of course, on the left) as a political act disguised as jurisprudence and designed to alter the course of the single most consequential political act of a democracy — the election of a president.

Whatever one thinks of the substance of Bush v. Gore, it did affect the reputation of the Court. Roberts seems determined that there be no recurrence with Obamacare. Hence his straining in his Obamacare ruling to avoid a similar result — a 5–4 decision split along ideological lines that might be perceived as partisan and political.

National health care has been a liberal dream for a hundred years. It is clearly the most significant piece of social legislation in decades. Roberts’s concern was that the Court do everything it could to avoid being seen, rightly or wrongly, as high-handedly overturning sweeping legislation passed by both houses of Congress and signed by the president.

I think Krauthammer’s analysis is correct.  Roberts didn’t rule as he did because of his seizure medicine or because he was blackmailed.  He ruled this way because, perhaps rightly, he was keeping a legislative problem in the legislative sphere.  The American voters, by putting Democrats into Congress and the White House, broke the American system.  They now own that broken system and it’s up to them to fix it.  In this case, if the voters are smart enough, they’ll elect Republicans by a large majority.  If they’re not smart enough, we’re in for a lot more breakage.

Viewed this way, Roberts did the right thing.  He protected the Supreme Court’s integrity and he made the American people responsible for their own stupidity.

The best bet for the coming months is that Obama’s base will go home happy, and that he will not be able to rally them for the election.  They’ll be like the person who ate too much at dinner and sits there in a stupor, even as the roof falls on his head.  Unfortunately for Obama, Romney will be able to rally his base.  If you thought 2010 was the year of the Tea Party, wait until you see the summer of 2012.  Like 2012, Tea Partiers are up in arms; and unlike (and better than) 2012, this time they’re already organized with mailing lists, data bases, and vast amounts of political and protest experience.

Even better, after Americans suffered through months of the drug-addled, filthy, violent Occupy movement, the media is going to find it impossible to paint clean, polite, educated, employed Tea Partiers as crazed radicals.  This summer, the Tea Party will have traction, especially because the Supreme Court, in ruling in Obama’s favor, put a name on Obama’s conduct:  taxes on the middle class.

That’s all good.  What’s bad is that, as I noted in my original post on the subject, the Supreme Court has managed to allow taxes to have the scope of the Commerce Clause:  From this day forward, Congress can not only tax activity, it can also tax inactivity.  Long after Obama is gone from office, that legacy will remain.  The only saving grace is that taxes require simple majorities.  Easy come, easy go, one might say — except that taxes never go away easy, do they?

 

A careful analysis of the ObamaCare ruling (NOT)

I’ve now had the chance to digest myriad analyses of the Roberts decision on ObamaCare.  I think I can sum up the various conclusions that liberal and conservative pundits have reached.  Here goes:

The decision is a victory for Obama and the Democrats because it keeps ObamaCare on the books.  However, it’s a victory for Mitt Romney and the GOP because it reminds Americans that Democrats like to tax them.  The only problem with the latter view is that Americans aren’t paying attention to things like ObamaCare and taxes and these credulous citizens will just role with whichever side looks victorious, which is either the Democrats and the Republicans.

The only exception to the rule that Obama’s role with the winner is the Tea Party, which is likely to be galvanized into action.  Naturally, though, the Tea Partiers are too demoralized to do anything constructive, other than riot in the streets.  We know from past Tera Party events that the smiling grannies togged-out in matching red, white, and blue outfits are especially dangerous.

ObamaCare will never be repealed because the Republicans cannot get a majority in 2012, let alone win the White House.  This is a “true fact” as long as you take into consideration that Mitt Romney will almost certainly win the 2012 election on an anti-tax platform and that the House will stay Republican.  The Senate, of course, can go either way, with Republicans getting either 51 seats (enough to reverse a tax) or 60 seats (enough to prevent President Obama, who will definitely win in 2012, from vetoing a repeal.

If the Republicans take over both Congress and the White House, which won’t happen, they can fully repeal ObamaCare, which won’t happen.  However, if they only keep the House, they can refuse to fund ObamaCare, which is great, because it leaves it useless, except for all of the mandates that continue to exist.

Over the long haul, of course, Americans are more free because the decision restricts the Commerce Clause.  This, however, ignores the fact that they’re less free, because they can be taxed for anything, including breathing or, as the case may be, not breathing.

John Roberts is someone who is suffering from a seizure disorder and is probably being blackmailed.  Neither of these factors really matters, though, because the Chief Justice is clearly a Machiavellian bridge, chess, or poker player who is taking the long view and setting the Republicans up to win in 2012 on the issue of higher taxes.  Or he’s taking some sort of really long view that enables Obama to do a victory dance in November 2012 because his signature legislation survived.  In a second Obama term, with a Democrat House and Senate, people will really learn to hate those tax-and-spend Democrats.  Those few remaining Americans who have not been sent to re-education camps or have not been disenfranchised by a vote transferring all citizenship rights from native-born Americans to illegal aliens, will have the opportunity in 2016 to make all 48,739 of their voices heard.

In the end, insane, brilliant, diseased, medicated, blackmailed, weak-spined, far-sighted, Machivellian Chief Justice John Roberts simultaneously built up and tore down American liberties.  Moreover, he also ensured that both Obama and the Democrats, on the one hand, and Romney and the Republicans, on the other hand, can claim a clear victory, both today and in the November 2012 elections.

I hope everyone understood this lesson.  There will be a test tomorrow.

Mitt Romney’s first post-ruling email

This came from the Romney campaign:

Friend,

Today, the Supreme Court upheld Obamacare. But regardless of what the Court said about the constitutionality of the law, Obamacare is bad medicine, it is bad policy, and when I’m President, the bad news of Obamacare will be over.

It was always a liberal pipedream that a 2,700 page, multi-trillion-dollar Federal Government takeover of our health care system actually could address the very serious problems we face with health care. With Obamacare fully installed, government will reach fully half of the economy — that is the recipe for a struggling economy and declining prosperity.

On Day One, I will work to repeal Obamacare to stop the government’s takeover of our health care and intrusion in our lives. I will push for real reform to our health care system that focuses on helping patients and protecting taxpayers.

We cannot afford Barack Obama’s on-the-job learning, Big Government proposals, and irresponsible spending. Our basic liberties are at stake — and I will fight to restore our freedoms, renew the respect for our Constitution, and halt the government takeover of health care.

This November it’s all on the line. The stakes couldn’t be higher.

Donate $10 or more to put a stop to the policies of Barack Obama and the liberal Democrats.

Thanks,

Mitt Romney

I hear that Mitt raised $2,000,000 in the hours after the ruling came out. That wouldn’t surprise me at all.

Congress not only can tax anything that moves, it can tax anything that doesn’t move

The Supreme Court opinion on ObamaCare runs to 193 pages.  It is the size of a book, only more boring than any book anyone would ever want to read — and that is true despite the fact that Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the worst writer on the court, didn’t write it.  I’ve been making a valiant effort to read it, but because I have other things to do with my life, I abandoned the darn thing about one-third of the way through.  For now, bottom line is sufficient.  Per the Supreme Court, ObamaCare imposes a tax on people who refuse to buy a product from a third-party. An example of that includes the Affordable Care Act which forces a penalty on those who do not take part in the newly-appointed health insurance marketplaces. That imposition is consistent with Congress’s power to impose taxes.

Ed Morrissey managed to encapsulate my immediate reaction to this, frankly, bizarre outcome:

It’s an interesting argument, but one that should have Americans worried.  Basically, this is a tax that you have to pay to private companies.  For all of the screaming the Right did over single-payer — and for good, outcome-based reasons — at least the money paid by taxpayers would go directly to government [see update II].  The Supreme Court has signed off on what is, in very practical terms, a tax levied by the insurance industry on Americans simply for existing.  It’s an amazing, and fearsome, decision that really should have both Right and Left horrified.

Nevertheless, this is the law of the land.  We can now look forward to taxes levied by the auto industry for not having bought a new car in the last seven years, the liquor industry for buying too few bottles of wine to maintain your health, and by the agricultural industry for not buying that damned broccoli after all. We might even have Obama attempt to impose a tax for not buying enough contraception; we can call that the Trojan tax.

Taxes have traditionally been levied to enable the government to buy and build things.  This is the first time in history, so far as I know, that a tax is being levied as a penalty against citizens who refuse to buy products from private vendors.  Taxes normally tax activity.  Sure, you pay taxes on a product when you buy a product but those are (a) state taxes, which are a different animal from federal taxes; and (b) taxes on a voluntary transaction.  That’s the important thing.  The transaction is voluntary.  You can opt to sit it out and the government cannot reach you.  Here, though, we are being told that the government can exact an onerous tax for inactivity.

The decision constitutes a radical redefinition of what constitutes a tax.  It is exactly what opponents said it was:  the biggest tax in history and one, moreover, that Americans cannot alter their behavior to avoid.  I am therefore at a loss to figure out why Roberts signed on to this decision, let alone authored it.  It is a staggering constriction on individual freedom.  The closest analogy to this tax is the poll tax of 1380, a tax that saw one of the biggest revolts in medieval British history and one that almost toppled the monarchy.  Poll taxes are flat taxes but, more importantly, they tax someone just for being.

Okay, that’s the bad news and it’s very bad in the long-term.  There are some potential short-term benefits, although they’re only possible, not probable:

Because ObamaCare is a tax, it’s easy to repeal the tax aspects, which leaves the whole thing unfunded.  Still, unfunded doesn’t mean vanished.  All the bits and pieces, the obligations, impositions, panels, etc., live on, unless Congress can gather itself together and formally repeal the whole darn thing.

The other short-term benefit is that it might galvanize those Americans who hate ObamaCare, leading them to vote for Romney.  That’s so not a sure thing, though.  It’s a great victory for Obama, and might finally put the wind at his back.  His signature legislation is a good thing, said the United States Supreme Court.  For many Americans, that might fall into the category of “that’s all she wrote.”  The fat lady has sung.  The opera is over.  It’s time to go back home and get on with your life.  If Roberts had some strange idea that he’d help a Romney election, he was taking a mighty big gamble with the American people, their freedom, and their money.  (Speaking of money, it’s no coincidence that the market plummeted once it received word that Congress not only can tax anything that moves, it can tax anything that doesn’t move.)

I am disheartened, but disheartened is not the same as defeated.  It is now imperative that Republicans take back Congress in its entirety and win the White House.  Jim Carville and others may proclaim the Tea Party dead, but I suspect they’ll see a Zombie Tea Party taking to the streets this summer.

Others blogging:

Kim Priestap

Maggie’s Farm/Bruce Kesler

American Power

The Anchoress and The Anchoress again

The Volokh Conspiracy (was Roberts somehow forced to uphold the law?)

Jay Cost (this may harm Obama more than he thinks in the long run)

Slate (Obama wins battle; Roberts wins war)

Noisy Room

 

Thoughts about Progressives, inspired by Jonah Goldberg’s new book

I haven’t yet finished Jonah Goldberg’s The Tyranny of Cliches: How Liberals Cheat in the War of Ideas, which is unusual for me, given that I’ve had it since Friday. It’s the kind of book one gobbles up — but that assumes time to gobble. Since I bought the book and Jonah signed it (more on that later), I’ve been in perpetual motion. You’ve seen that reflected in my blogging silence, and I’ve seen it reflected, as well, in my inability to find time to sit and read.

Having found time to read half the book, though, I can tell you a few things about it.  While Jonah’s last book was about history — namely, the way in which liberalism and fascism have marched hand in hand through the 20th century, albeit sometimes with a smiling face — his current book is, as the title says, about ideas.  Ideas are much harder to marshal into a book.  They’re slippery and abstract and, if I can add yet another adjective, abstruse too.  Jonah does a great job getting a handle on ideological constructs and anchoring them to a more solid world.

The premise of Jonah’s book is an interesting one:  he contends that liberals constantly deny that they are anything but pragmatists, which is a good thing and, say liberals, the complete opposite of an ideologue, which they say is a bad thing.  Conservatives, of course, are ideologues.

Liberals refuse to acknowledge that the pragmatism they describe is simply their willingness to use all possible coercive approaches to achieve their end, with the end invariably being something that falls under the socialist rubric.  By denying that they have an ideology, they are therefore able to castigate conservatives for being blinkered by an ugly conservative ideology that advocates dying sick people, homeless old people, starving children, etc.

Jonah’s absolutely right.  I had my epiphany when I finally sat down and looked at the way in which, during the 1980s and 1990s, Christian conservatives referred to Democrats/Liberals as “secularists.”  This made no sense to me.  As far as I was concerned, the Christian conservatives were the ideologues, with their talk of God and the Bible, and their wacky habit of letting their moral beliefs inform their political stances.  We, the high-minded, enlightened, pragmatic liberals had no ideology at all.  Ideology was solely the Christian preserve and we were simply un-Christians, shedding political enlightenment wherever we went.

It wasn’t until I read Stephen Carter’s The Culture of Disbelief that I finally figured out that imposing disbelief on politics is just as ideological as imposing belief on politics. Those darn Christian conservatives were right. Once I had that epiphany, I could never again pretend that my political beliefs were purely the absence of bias and primitivism. (Carter’s book was, obviously, another stepping stone in my slow journey across the ideological Rubicon, from unthinking liberal to thoughtful conservative.)

I still have a lot to learn about abstract political ideas, though, since I tend to be a remarkably concrete thinker. This can be a good thing when I finally understand an abstraction, because it means I’m adept at explaining the abstract idea to others in fairly concrete terms. Not all of us, after all, are philosophers. Jonah’s book is excellent because he too is good at explaining abstract political thought — and, in the case of Progressives, the false denial of abstract political thought — in easy to understand terms.  More than that, and unlike me, he’s extremely knowledgeable, which makes his book both witty (which we expect from Jonah) and informed (which, I have to say, we also expect from Jonah).  As I said to Jonah when we met, I feel as if he’s got the smarter version of my brain.

Here’s what I took away from the book after reading about the development of Progressive ideology:  Progressives have as their touchstone “pragmatism.” This was new to me.  I knew that in the 21st Century, Progressives like to call themselves the “reality-based community,” something that I’ve always seen as a wonderfully ironic joke. Their reality is always bounded by what suits their political ends.

Pure Progressive pragmatism goes behind this unreal commitment to reality.  It turns out that it also means denying the collective wisdom of the ages. Progressives put all their faith in modern science, economics, social science, etc., believing that anything that came before lacked this scientific gloss, making it ineffectual and inefficient.

This refusal to draw from the past’s wisdom means that, for all their constant reminiscences about the Roosevelt and the New Deal, and Johnson and the Great Society, Progressives see these historical events only at the most superficial level.  They stand for the principle that government can do big things. That’s it.  Progressives have no interest in what actually happened. That is, they don’t seek to replicate the precise procedures that FDR or Johnson used — something that is scarcely surprising given the uniformly dismal results. The takeaway for Progressives when they look back in time is simply “Government.” The rest of history is useless to them, because it’s old and wrong, and their experts are very busy reinventing everything in the here and now.

Which leads me to my pithy epigram: Progressives deny that known history has any value, yet they insist that their predictions about the unknown future are entirely accurate.

Pretty good, huh?  And it is, I think, a nice companion piece to my blog slogan:  “Conservatives deal with facts and reach conclusions; liberals have conclusions and sell them as facts.”

Oh, and about that book signing? Two things. One, Jonah wrote a nice inscription in my book: “To Bookworm! Hail, Bookworm” Hail! All my best, from one happy warrior to another.” I liked that.

The other nice thing is that, when I identified myself to Jonah as Bookworm, a gentleman standing in line behind me exclaimed “You’re Bookworm? I love your blog.” To that gentleman: Thank you. You made my day!

Watcher’s Council winners for June 22, 2012

The Council has spoken, and it is good.  However, before you check out that goodness, link over to the WoW Forum question to see what the Watchers of Weasels have to say about Obama’s decision to use Executive Privilege to protect Eric Holder.

You’ve done that?  Great.  Here are last week’s winners:

Council Winners

Non-Council Winners

President Obama, Flip-Flopper

Victor Davis Hanson has written one of his best columns ever, in large part because he lucidly sets out Obama’s flip-flops.  Actually, “flip-flop” isn’t the right word, because it lacks the energy of the violent volte faces that Obama routinely makes.  There’s no nuance to his changes.  John Kerry, even though he inarticulately said “I was before that before I was against it,” actually used that phrase in the context of a convoluted speech explaining how Senatorial procedure loaded a bill in a way that made him feel he had to change his mind on the vote.  I’m not saying it was a good explanation, but it was nuanced.

Obama doesn’t bother explaining his shifts, whether on Guantanamo, Executive Privilege, Executive Orders, or any other thing that sees him taking a stand diametrically opposed to the rigid position he formerly advanced.  The only time for Obama is the here and now.  Part of that is because he’s a narcissist.  Narcissists’ truth is always driven by the need of the moment.  The past doesn’t exist insofar as it inconveniences the present.  The other part, which I’m beginning to learn from reading Jonah Goldberg’s The Tyranny of Cliches: How Liberals Cheat in the War of Ideas is that the whole Progressive movement is constantly making it up as they go along. The past is dangerous territory, because it comes complete with age-old lessons and the wisdom of myriad individuals. It’s much better simply to let scientists (social and otherwise) with the correct understanding of socialist outcomes make it up as they go along.

What do you bet that, if this is true, the source is Elena Kagan?

The White House and the lapdog media have an unusually depressed, belligerent tone when it comes to the upcoming opinion on Obama Care.  They’re even more depressed than they should be given the pathetic showing their case (not their lawyer, but their case) made during oral argument.  Put another way, it’s hard to believe that, after two years of intellectual denial, they can’t also deny away a single day of bad argument.  Their malaise is due to something greater than one bad day.

This bizarre black cloud leads at least one Supreme Court observe to suspect that the unthinkable happened — the formerly leak-proof Supreme Court leaked (emphasis mine):

It doesn’t take a Washington insider to suspect that the White House has a back channel to the Supreme Court, knows how the justices have come down in the Obamacare case and has learned, from the Obama point of view, the news isn’t good.

The president’s defiance and what appeared to be his campaign of intimidation targeting the justices has morphed into barely concealed resignation over the last seven days.

That widely noted New York Times story of the weekend is a case in point.  It detailed how the smartest crowd (hasn’t the MSM assured us of it) that has ever inhabited the nation’s Executive Mansion failed ever seriously to consider that seizing control over one-seventh of the American economy and forcing every American to buy a commercial product might, just might, run afoul of our constitution of liberty.

At Power Line, where I first stumbled across this leak theory, Steven Hayward points out that, in the past, a combination of judicial discipline and law clerk career fear kept the Court silent:

Why is the Supreme Court better than the intelligence community at keeping secrets?  The nine justices are disciplined enough, but what about their clerks, who surely have night lives, close friends, etc.?  Possibly the problem of ruining their promising subsequent legal careers (and the not insubstantial ethics clearance they might blow by leaking) explains it, but it is still a marvel that the Court’s decorum has held for this extraordinary case.

I’ve known former Supreme Court clerks and, yes, their eye is on their future career.  They are not the type of people who would carelessly jettison that future.  But there is someone on the Supreme Court whose future is already assured, who has proven herself to be a shill to the monied powers, who once worked hand-in-glove with this White House, and who is a total Progressive ideologue, who has regular placed politics against principle.  She’s also a newbie, which would explain why I’m not talking about Justice Ginsburg, who has kept mum during her tenure.  Yes, Elena Kagan, I’m talking about you.

This is pure speculation.  I’ll never be able to prove it.  Nevertheless, if there is a leak, which is a guess, I’m further guessing that Kagan is the leaker.