OMG! When it comes to the Islamic faith and the First Amendment, am I prescient or what?

Earlier today, I put together a post saying that the Bill of Rights trumps the Civil Rights Act.  It is so because the Rights are inherent in individuals, meaning that Congress has no power to pass a law abrogating those rights (at least not without a very good reason).  I even prepared a nice little chart to walk people through my thinking in this regard.  As part of the chart, I noted that, in theory, Muslims can use the Bill of Rights to justify subordinating women.  Just a few hours later, a friend sent me a link to this news story out of Canada (which does not have a First Amendment):

Barbers in Toronto who refused to cut a woman’s hair have become the target of a human rights complaint, in a case that pits religious freedom against gender equality.

When Faith McGregor went into the Terminal Barber Shop requesting a short haircut, she was told the shop only grooms men.

The reason, co-owner Omar Mahrouk said, was that as a Muslim he could not cut the hair of a woman who was not related to him.

But for McGregor, the rejection of her patronage amounted to sexism.

“Fundamentally, my hair is the same as their male clients, so why would they have a problem with that,” she told CTV News.

“I felt like a second class citizen, like it was hard to hear that they refused and there was no discussion.”

So the 35-year-old filed a complaint with the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario.

Read the rest here.

One can make a very good argument that the reason the First Amendment had such a good run for a couple of hundred years was because, while Americans might have had doctrinal differences, they shared the same values about core issues:  marriage, sexual orientation, self-reliance, etc.  Now, though, with Leftism ascendent and an increasingly large Muslim population, the tensions being placed upon the Bill of Rights have become unsustainable.  Something’s got to give — and the Left is well-situated to make sure that it’s the Judeo-Christian tradition that cries “Uncle” first.

Bill of Rights versus Civil Rights Act 1

Jon Stewart excuses Obama’s executive overreach by attacking Republicans in Congress

Jon StewartI am watching a lot of television lately.  A lot.  Even I, a truly prodigious reader, find it hard to read every minute of the time I’m hooked up to my continuous passive motion machine.  When I finally tire of reading, I have limited mobility, especially by nightfall, when my balance on crutches seems to take a dive off the cliff.  This means that, when the rest of the family wants to watch TV in the evening, I’m something of a captive audience.

I’m not complaining.  Instead, I’m explaining why it is that I’ve been watching Jon Stewart’s Daily Show these past few days.  Usually I leave the room when he starts, because I find his mixture of genuine and faux stupidity irritating.  It’s not a witty show, which I would be able to watch even though I disagree with the politics.  It’s a witless show, and dishonest to boot.

Few things highlight these abysmal qualities more than a segment Jon Stewart did about Boehner’s announcement that Republicans would not go forward with any immigration reform because they couldn’t trust Obama to enforce it.  For anyone paying attention to the Constitution and the facts on the ground Republican fears are reasonable.  Obama, despite his job description as chief executive officer, tasked with enforcing the laws that Congress passes, has a history of refusing to enforce laws he doesn’t like, especially when it comes to immigration.

More recently, with Obamacare, despite the Lefts’ strident screams in October that Obamacare is the “law of the land” and cannot ever be touched — even by the Congress that passed it — Obama has changed the law almost 30 times.  Indeed, he’s changed the law so often, he’s even riled his supporters.  Boehner may also find it a little difficult to trust Obama since Obama lied knowingly, intentionally, and repeatedly in connection with Obamacare’s passage and implementation.  It was the biggest fraud ever committed by a government official against the American people.

So how does Stewart defend Obama’s lawless actions?  He doesn’t bother to defend Obama.  Instead, he attacks Republicans as hypocrites because they have also tried to change the law.  In other words, how dare Republicans complain about Obama’s changes to Obamacare when they also wanted to change it?

Is it really possible that Stewart is so stupid that he believes that Congress should not change, or attempt to change, a law if the president is not allowed to do so himself?  I find it hard to believe that Stewart is quite that dumb.  And if he’s smart, he and his team are writing shticks deliberately intended to mislead an audience that Stewart presumably knows is dumb enough not to understand that, while the president is constitutionally barred from unilaterally changing or refusing to enforce laws, Congress’s sole function is to pass, edit, and revoke laws.

Anyway, see for yourself the type of fraud Stewart commits against an audience so ignorant and ideological that it elected Barack Obama, not just once but twice:

The Left is okay with executive overreach, when it’s their guy doing it

emperor_obamaAccording to Power Line, when a Fox News Poll asked people point blank whether our system supports a president circumventing Congress, 74% of respondents said “no” and only 23% said “yes.”  That answer was only marginally different when the question was re-framed to ask people to ignore the way things should be under our Constitution and, instead, to answer whether they thought it was okay for Barack Obama to circumvent Congress.  In that case, 60% of respondents thought that it still wasn’t okay and only 37% of them approved of Obama acting as a dictator.

My very first thought when I read about that 37% was that I think I know every one of them on my real-me Facebook.  In that Facebook account, with the exception of conservative friends I’ve made in the last few years, and a handful of apolitical people, everyone else in my world — the world made up of school friends, work friends, and neighborhood people — is rabidly Progressive.

These Progressives have been silent since October, when it became clear that Obamacare was going to be an even more dismal, dysfunctional failure than Republicans predicted.  Now, however, with Obama promising to enact his agenda unilaterally, they’re happy again.  When they’re not celebrating gay rights (and I’d so that, gay or straight, 75% of their political Facebook posts are about gay rights), they’re starting to put up MoveOn.org style posters encouraging what most Americans recognize as Obama’s lawlessness.

If one were to ask my highly educated, well compensated friends to support their position, I’m sure that all would reply that (a) whatever is wrong now is the fault of Republicans in Congress and (b) that the ends justify the means.  That phrase, incidentally, is one of the scariest in the English language.

Nor would any of them be fazed if they were shown Obama’s blatant hypocrisy:

These Progressives would only say, again, that it’s not hypocrisy at all.  The problem wasn’t executive overreach, they’d say, it was Bush’s executive overreach.  When Obama does the same thing, it’s different.

Using social media to defend the Constitution and the Little Sisters of the Poor

Little Sisters of the PoorA caller to the Rush Limbaugh show today asked Rush how to get the media to change its tune. Rush’s response was that this will never happen. The media is an arm of the Democrat Party and that’s the end of it. Conservatives have to make their case outside of the media, he said. It can be done too, Rush added, pointing to Scott Walker’s success in fighting back an attempted recall and in beginning to make changes to Wisconsin’s hard Left culture.

What Rush left unspoken, since his show ended there, are the practical steps that ordinary people can take to expose other people (Leftists and non-political types alike) to facts and ideas that the media refuses to cover or contemplate. I happen to believe that Social Media is a wonderful way, both to learn what ordinary Progressives think (it’s seldom pretty) and to introduce new ideas to people whose world is contained within the four corners of the MSM.

I had a most illuminating Facebook conversation with a Progressive just today regarding the Obama administration’s full throttle effort to force the Little Sisters of the Poor – a Catholic charity staffed by nuns – to fund abortions.

On Facebook, since I’m fully aware of my liberal friends’ biases, I’m always careful to cite to sources that they belief are reliably leftist. After all, events sometimes force even the Washington Post or the New York Times to be honest about the facts.

This time, I linked to the USA Today editorial stating that the Obama administration has gone too far by attacking the nuns. I figured that, even though USA Today lacks the status of the New York Times (New York Times readers think that they’re the most intelligent and informed news consumers in America), it still has liberal street creds.

Oy, was I wrong! A Facebook friend who used to be a real friend decades ago when we were both non-political, went completely ballistic. He first offered a nasty opinion about the Church. When I politely asked him to back up his views with data, he doubled down on his attacks against the Church and stated explicitly destroying religious people’s political reach has to trump the Bill of Rights.

You’ll notice as you read our Facebook conversation that I was relentlessly pleasant, and that was true despite his frequently offensive statements. I also left on the table several issues that he raised as part of his attack on the church and the constitution. That was deliberate.

It quickly became clear to me that nothing I could say would change his mind. (And it will become clear to you too as you read on.) However, I was mindful of the fact that about 150 other people, almost all Progressives (because of the liberal enclaves in which I’ve always lived) would also be reading this back and forth.

Given the invisible audience I could reasonably assume I had, given that many people have told me that they sign on to Facebook solely to read what I post, I stuck to a very narrowly focused goal. I wanted to provide a reasonable intellectual foundation supporting the nuns’ position. I live in hope that Democrats who are beginning to feel uncomfortable about the administration’s decision to bully nuns will think about what I said. I was therefore worried that if I got too confrontational or started following red herrings with a die-hard ideologue, I’d lose my more important, albeit invisible and silent, audience.

The following is a non-verbatim rendering of my Facebook conversation. I’ve carefully retained the gist of what he and I said, but have changed the words to protect his privacy. He was a jerk, but even jerks deserve privacy. He wrote on my Facebook wall assuming that his identity wouldn’t be broadcast far and wide, and I have to honor that.

So, to set the stage, I linked, without comment, to USA Today’s editorial about the Obama regime’s overreach in its demand that nuns fund abortions and birth control. The following written dialogue ensued.

Him: They shouldn’t get any special treatment just because of their beliefs. None of the rest of us do.

Me: I’m not clear what you mean about “special treatment.” This is the first law ever that’s forced religious organizations and people to fund something that’s doctrinally prohibited.

Him: I don’t get why, just because they’re religious Christians attacking birth control, their beliefs trump other strongly held religious beliefs.

Me: I’m still confused. What are some examples of the government forcing people to act in opposition to strongly held religious beliefs or to fund others to commit those same types of acts?

Him: Okay. It’s not fair that religious organizations are tax exempt, which means I have to pay more taxes, essentially funding them. Lots of states won’t allow gay marriage because these tax-exempt churches have campaigned against it. Also, just because the Hobby Lobby owners don’t like birth control, they refuse to provide it to their employees.

Me: Given how political churches have gotten, you’re right about doing away with those tax breaks. [When I wrote those words, I was actually thinking about how political Leftist churches have gotten, but the point is the same.] Still, your other examples seem to me to miss the point. The editorial is talking about the fact that the government is using its taxing authority to force religious groups or individuals (or business owners) to engage in or fund activities that are antithetical to core belief systems. As far as I can tell, that runs directly counter to the 1st Amendment’s promise that the government cannot interfere with Americans’ freedom of worship.

Him: You’re trying to pick and choose your arguments. Religious people aren’t trying to defund that military. After all, don’t a lot of religions prohibit killing?

Me: [I made the decision here to ignore the red herring about religions and killing.] Your argument ignores the Constitution, which expressly contemplates a military as a core government function. There is a way to change that so as to allow conscientious objectors to refuse to pay taxes designated for the military, but you’d need a constitutional amendment. Unlike funding a standing army as part of the government, though, there’s nothing in the Constitution that mandates that private citizens are entitled to contraception and the morning-after pill, or that other citizens must pay for those services. That means the people and groups opposed to the ACA mandate have the stronger constitutional argument.

Him: The Constitution is irrelevant to this. What enrages me is that powerful people use religion to manipulate and control other people.

Me: I’m confused again. The nuns aren’t manipulating or controlling anyone. They’re asking that the government refrain from manipulating and controlling them by forcing them to pay for something that their religion prohibits. The Church has been opposing abortion and birth control for thousands of years, while the ACA’s demand that all Americans pay for all other Americans’ birth control and morning after pills is just four years old. Isn’t it unreasonable to ask the Catholic church to give up two thousand years of faith just because of the ACA, especially when the church as the 1st Amendment on its side?

Him: It’s obvious that the church never cares about death and suffering until it suits them. At that point, nothing stops the church.

Me: You’re entitled to your opinions about the Church, but it seems to me that, no matter how you look at it, the constitutional edge on this question lies with the Little Sisters and with Hobby Lobby.

At which point he gave up.

My point isn’t that I made the best arguments in the world. I know I didn’t. I also know, as I stated before, that I let a lot of his mean-spirited or uninformed statements go by without comment. Looking at what I said, though, I feel that I succeeded in my initial goal, which was to appear reasonable and to present to passive onlookers solid arguments that might give them food for thought if they dislike seeing the President beat up nuns.

The Democrats’ lawlessness

Charles Krauthammer gets to the heart of the matter:

The violence to constitutional norms here [with the filibuster's destruction] consisted in how that change was executed. By brute force — a near party-line vote of 52-48. This was a disgraceful violation of more than two centuries of precedent. If a bare majority can change the fundamental rules that govern an institution, then there are no rules. Senate rules today are whatever the majority decides they are that morning.

What distinguishes an institution from a flash mob is that its rules endure. They can be changed, of course. But only by significant supermajorities. That’s why constitutional changes require two-thirds of both houses plus three-quarters of the states. If we could make constitutional changes by majority vote, there would be no Constitution.

As of today, the Senate effectively has no rules. Congratulations, Harry Reid. Finally, something you will be remembered for.

Read it all.  I doubt you’ll find a better exposition of the profound damage the Obama administration is doing to the Constitution and to America.

What authority does Obama rely upon to “improve” a law?

Constitution

The Constitution is very clear:  Congress writes the laws; the President enforces them.

In light of Obama’s announcement today that he was unilaterally “improving” a law by ignoring its terms (i.e., the time limits contained within Obamacare), Veronique de Rugy asks a good question:

What authority does the president of the United States have to decide that he will or will not enforce some parts of the law that have become inconvenient for him politically or that are proven to have been a terrible idea?

There’s a simple answer to this excellent question.  The limit to Obama’s authority lies in the Senate.  The only thing that can stop a rogue president is impeachment — and a Senate with a Democrat majority will not allow conviction.

The real power to control Obama’s unlawful activities lies with the voters. So far, though, they’ve chosen not to exercise this power.  Although Obama had been manifestly re-writing laws to suit his purpose before the 2012 election (e.g., immigration laws and Obamacare), the voters shrugged and kept the Senate in Democrat hands.

If voters in 2014 again return Democrats to the Senate in sufficient numbers to block impeachment, the voters have granted Obama the authority to ignore the limitations that the Constitution places upon him.  It’s obviously not an express grant of authority, because the president is still violating the Constitution, but it’s an implicit grant of authority.  Like the bribed police officer at the scene of a crime, voters will simply be looking the other way.

And speaking of 2014, there’s a Ricochet thread thinking about campaign slogans.  This is the top suggestion:  “If you don’t like your Democrat. you don’t have to keep him. Vote for ______.”  I think it’s on the right track, but somehow a little unwieldy.

Given the record on which Obama and the Democrats will be running in 2014, what catchy slogans would you guys and gals suggest?

I am losing patience with idio . . . er, progressives on my Facebook page

Normally, when I see the usual liberal talking points on my Facebook page, I try to ignore them lest I damage my blood pressure.  Today, though, I got a wall of stupid.  I’ve already written here about the profound ignorance that lies behind the progressive masses’ repeated claim that Obamacare is the “law of the land” and that the Republicans can do nothing.  Aside from being grossly hypocritical coming from a party that refuses to enforce the nation’s immigration laws, it’s also ignorant.  The House has the power of the purse precisely because, as a representative body with a two-year turnover, it is the best reflection of the will of the people at any given moment.

I probably could have tolerated that stupidity if I hadn’t also gotten a boatload of dumb about the gun shots fired in Washington, D.C. today.  Early reports indicated that a driver who tried to slam into the White House was the shooter.  Instantly, people went on their anti-gun tirades.  Of course, when the dust settled, it turned out that the only shooters were the cops and that the person driving the car had a long history of mental illness.   (Warning:  site has autoplay video.)  When I passed this information on to the Lefties claiming that guns were at the root of this, at least two of them made the identical risible argument:  Even though the gal didn’t have a gun, she’s still a poster child for gun control, because she could have had a gun.

Honestly!  How in the world can you counter that kind of monomania?  It transcends reason and fact, and is an article of faith as profound as the Democrats’ historic belief that blacks are an inferior race who need either slavery or government welfare to function.

Given this type of irrational anti-gun lunacy, I’m sure you won’t be surprised to learn that a Phoenix-area police officer was asked not to wear his uniform when he picked his child up from elementary school, because parents were frightened by his gun.

I love Ace’s take on this story.  The article that originally reported the story presented the school’s point of view:

A district spokeswoman told the station that “some parents” voiced concern about seeing a fully armed police officer on the school’s campus. The spokeswoman apologized that Urkov perhaps took the discussion the wrong way.

“It was not the intent of the principal to offend him,” the spokeswoman said.

To which Ace provided the only response possible:

Yes yes yes yes yes. He took it the wrong way. It’s on him. He didn’t understand your intent. He’s got the problem; not you.

Of course you don’t have a problem. Hysteria is not only natural, it’s preferable.

Shall we ban Cowboy Hats next? I mean: Cowboys. They carry six-shooters.

A few short observations regarding the shutdown *UPDATED*

Unlike past shutdowns, which were indeed quibbles about this or that, the current shutdown is a big deal.  The question posed is a fundamental one about the very nature of this nation:  Is the federal government the servant or the master of the American people.  Our Constitution says the former; sixty-years of federal expansion says the latter.

The WWII Memorial showdown in Washington makes concrete this abstract battle.  It forces us to ask whether a government separate from and dominant over citizens owns that open air memorial, or whether a government of the people, by the people, and for the people has gotten too big for its britches and needs to be knocked down a peg.

There can be no doubt that what the House is doing is constitutional.  Having said that, they are doing a terrible job of selling it, and that’s separate from the fact that the drive-by media is doing its best to tar and feather them.  It’s a reminder of something I’ve learned in the 12 years since I crossed the Rubicon and changed political affiliations:  Republicans are the party of smart ideologies and poor strategies.  Democrats/Progressives, while their ideas may be disastrous, as is proven by every time and place in which they been put into effect, are master strategists.  (And in that regard, Saul Alinsky is definitely their Sun Tzu.)

This problem is, in part, built into the system.  To the extent there are still conservatives in the Republican party, their individualism makes them as easy to herd as angry cats.  Democrats, on the other hand, find meaning in collective action.  Even when their ideas are bad, their monolithic front gives them power.

UPDATE:  James Taranto notes that, in this go-round, the usually tactically disciplined Democrat party  has been unusually maladroit.  Hubris or something else?

UPDATE 2:  David Stockman sees also sees what’s happening as a determinative moment, but for different reasons.

The House’s refusal to fund Obamacare is entirely constitutional — and James Madison personally approves this message

lincoln-memorial

My stock response to all those liberal Facebook friends who have insisted that the House is “unconstitutionally” holding Obamacare hostage, is that the Founders named it the “House of Representatives” and gave it the power of the purse for a reason.

The House’s members serve for much shorter terms than Supreme Court justices (life terms), executives (minimum 4 year terms) and Senators (minimum 6 year terms).  This means that, if people are not pleased with the decisions made by those more entrenched bodies, they can make their displeasure known through the House, where new representatives can be rotated in every two years.

Making their displeasure known is precisely what the People did in 2010 and again in 2012, when they “shellacked” the House Democrats, which was a clear rebuff to Obama and his “care.”  (It’s also entirely possible that Obama would also have been shellacked right out of office but for the IRS’s unconstitutional, illegal, unconscionable interference with free speech.)

In addition to the short term of office, which means the people can quickly punish or reward legislative conduct, the House of Representatives mirrors population dynamics.  The Senate is fixed at two representatives per state, there’s only one president, and there are nine Supreme Court justices.  The House, by contrast, is reconfigured every ten years to represent accurately the number of people in various population centers and deserts throughout the U.S.

The Founders deliberately gave the power of the purse to the federal branch most closely tied to American citizens, both in numbers and responsiveness:  The House is meant to use that power to put the brakes on schemes cooked up by members of the other branches of government who are elected or appointed in numbers unrelated to the American population, and who have job security unrelated, or less related, to their immediate conduct.  If the Founders were alive today, they’d say the roadblock inherent in the power of the purse is a feature, not a bug — and a pretty damned important feature too.

The above response came off the top of my head.  If I had studied the Federalist papers recently, however, I could simply have quoted James Madison. one of the Constitution’s primary architects, writing in Federalist No. 58 (and a groveling h/t to Tom Elias, of The New Editor, for this brilliant find):

The House of Representatives cannot only refuse, but they alone can propose, the supplies requisite for the support of government. They, in a word, hold the purse that powerful instrument by which we behold, in the history of the British Constitution, an infant and humble representation of the people gradually enlarging the sphere of its activity and importance, and finally reducing, as far as it seems to have wished, all the overgrown prerogatives of the other branches of the government. This power over the purse may, in fact, be regarded as the most complete and effectual weapon with which any constitution can arm the immediate representatives of the people, for obtaining a redress of every grievance, and for carrying into effect every just and salutary measure.  (Emphasis added.)

What the House is doing is entirely constitutional, and we conservatives should be doing our best to trumpet that fact.  Moreover, given the federal takeover of the Lincoln Memorial, we should remind everyone that we live in a nation guaranteed “government of the people, by the people, for the people.”  Unlike a monarchy, the federal government doesn’t own the properties it is denying us.  Instead, we own the federal government.  The government is merely a caretaker, and a pretty damn surly, ineffectual, greedy, and tyrannical one at that.

The awesome majesty of the state’s power — thoughts for Constitution Day

Nobody believes more strongly in defense attorneys than Progressives.  This is ironic, because the whole point of defense counsel is to be a bulwark against Big Government.  I was reminded of this fact when one of my children, out of the blue, wondered how defense attorneys could bear to represent their clients . . . the really bad ones, she hastened to add.

What an excellent question and one, I think, that goes to the heart of a citizen’s relationship to the state.

It all starts with the Fifth and Sixth Amendments to the Bill of Rights:

Fifth:  No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation

Sixth:  In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defence.  (Emphasis added.)

These rights are inherent in each citizen.  Being Mirandized doesn’t create the rights; it simply reminds citizens in stressful situations that they have these rights.  Each of these rights has as its purpose protecting the citizen against the awesome majesty and power of the state.  With the Constitution in place, gone are the days of trials by fire or drowning; lengthy imprisonments before a trial; repeated prosecutions; and coerced testimony.  No matter what information we have about a criminal defendant’s conduct outside of the courtroom — no matter that a hundred people saw him stab the knife into someone’s heart — when he stands before the court, the law presumes him innocent and therefore entitled to every right that goes with that innocence.

In this context, a criminal defense attorney stands as the knowledgeable friend of an innocent man who would otherwise have to face alone everything that the state can bring to bear against him: its coercive power against witnesses; its wealth; its resources; its ownership of the judicial system; its familiarity with rules, law, and procedure; and, most importantly, its capacity to imprison or even to kill the person who stands before it.  A criminal court is Big Government made personal.  A criminal defense attorney is an honorable man (or woman) who stands as a necessary bulwark against potential tyranny.  The attorney represents not only his (or her) client, but all citizens.

Progressives are rightfully fanatic about making sure that an accused person has counsel.  At my law school, it was always the left of Left students who went on to become public defenders.  Most of them burned out, of course, because absent the presumptive assumption of innocence, the people defense counsel work with are for the most part not very savory.  Sure, there are the fools, the innocents, the dupes, the careless ones, the one-time, unlucky DUIs, and the victims, but for the most part, criminal defense work entails representing criminals.

Given their fealty to the notion that the government is an extremely dangerous entity, the power of which must always be constrained, it’s quite peculiar that Progressives are so enamored of Big Government.  One would think that they, more than others who don’t routinely think about our justice system, recognize how monumental government is and how dangerous it can be without our zealously reminding it of its limits.

“Extremism” when it comes to late term abortion and guns

Kirsten Powers, one of Fox News’ resident Democrats, is the person who forced the Kermit Gosnell mass murder onto the front page.  Before Powers shamed the media into pretending, if only for a few days, that the trial of one the most prolific serial killers in American history actually mattered, the media had managed to ignore almost entirely Kermit Gosnell’s trial.  With Powers’ “J’Accuse” moment on USA Today, however, the media was forced to acknowledge the trial, if only momentarily, and to engage in a cursory analysis of its motives.  The analysis was pathetic, but they did it.  (E.g., “We’ve decided that we didn’t ignore the trial because it was about an abortionist; we ignored it because our incredibly savvy business sense, which has seen most liberal print media outlets totter to the edge of the grave, told us that there was no money in this one.”)

Powers has written another indictment of the Left’s fanatic support for abortion.  This time, her focus is on the pathological denial that sees the Left pretend that a fully matured fetus is just a clump of cells:

What we need to learn from the Gosnell case is that late-term abortion is infanticide. Legal infanticide. That so many people in the media seem untroubled by the idea that 12 inches in one direction is a “private medical decision” and 12 inches in the other direction causes people to react in horror, should be troubling. Indeed, Gosnell’s defense attorney Jack J. McMahon has relied on the argument that Gosnell killed the babies prior to delivering them, therefore he is not guilty of murder. His exact words were: “Every one of those babies died in utero.”

[snip]

We live in a country where if a six-months-pregnant woman started downing shots of vodka in a bar or lit up a cigarette, people might want her arrested. But that same woman could walk into an abortion clinic, no questions asked, and be injected with a drug that would stop her baby’s heart.

I’ll put my cards on the table: I think life begins at conception and would love to live in a world where no women ever felt she needed to get an abortion. However, I know enough people who are pro-abortion rights—indeed, I was one of them for most of my life—to know that reasonable and sincere people can disagree about when meaningful life begins. They also can disagree about how to weigh that moral uncertainty against a woman’s right to control her body—and her own life. I have only ever voted for Democrats, so overturning Roe v. Wade is not one of my priorities. I never want to return to the days of gruesome back-alley abortions.

But medical advances since Roe v. Wade have made it clear to me that late-term abortion is not a moral gray area, and we need to stop pretending it is. No six-months-pregnant woman is picking out names for her “fetus.” It’s a baby. Let’s stop playing Orwellian word games. We are talking about human beings here.

Powers is absolutely right.  I’m pleased and proud to say that, even in my most fiercely pro-Choice days, I wouldn’t have countenanced the abortion of a viable infant.  Nevertheless, I do have to part ways with the core premise in Powers’ article, which is that NARAL and the NRA are both equally extreme, and therefore both equally open to being castigated and disregarded

Speaking as a liberal who endorses more government regulation of practically everything—banks, water, air, food, oil drilling, animal safety—I am eternally perplexed by the fury the abortion rights contingent displays at the suggestion that the government might have a serious role to play in the issue of abortion, especially later-term abortion. More and more, the abortion rights community has become the NRA of the left: unleashing their armies of supporters and lobbyists in opposition to regulations or restrictions that the majority of Americans support. In the same way the NRA believes background checks will lead to the government busting down your door to confiscate your guns, the abortion rights movement conjures a straight line from parental consent to a complete ban on abortion.

Powers is wrong to claim that the two institutions are alike and that both are equally extreme.  They’re not the same and for one very specific reason:  the Constitution.

NARAL is predicated upon a Supreme Court case that found an emanation of a penumbra of an assumed, but never explicitly named, constitutional right to privacy and, from that, created an unfettered right to abort a fetus during its first trimester.  Somehow that limited right morphed into an equally unfettered right to abort a fetus, not just in the first trimester, but right up to, including, and after its birth.  Even the authors of Roe v. Wade would concede that those on the Left who defend late term or post-birth abortions have hit a high note on the extremist scale.  Extremism in defense of an illusory right premised on a magical interpretation of a clearly written historic contract between the people and their federal government is . . . well, extremely extreme.

But about the NRA. . . .  Where does it get the idea that the government should absolutely and completely stay away from law-abiding citizens’ guns?  Are those gun rights nuts also relying on an emanation of a penumbra of an unstated right?  In a word, no.  Instead, the NRA is ensuring that the government does not overreach its explicitly described limitation of power under the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution:

A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.

This is not even Goldwater’s “extremism in defense of liberty is no vice.”  There is no extremism here because the NRA, contrary to Progressives’ frequent attacks, is not pushing any boundaries.

Which brings me to one of the best pro-Second Amendment articles I’ve seen.  Iowa State University has a newspaper called the Iowa State Daily.  Until about yesterday, one of its writers was a guy named Barry Snell.  At some point before he attended the university, Barry Snell wore a uniform (police?  military?  He doesn’t say).  Attending an American university and writing for a student newspaper exposed Snell to a lot of anti-gun people.  He doesn’t shy away from the fact that many of them are extremely nice people.  (I know that to be the case when it comes to all the anti-gun people I know.  They’re not professional Leftists.  They’re just myopic.)  Snell’s word for these people, these nice Leftists who turn into slavering gun grabbers whenever a shooting occurs is that they’re “uninformed” — and how.

On his last day as a writer for the Iowa State Daily, Snell un-pented all the pent up irritation, frustration, and anger he has when it comes to those liberals who feel it is their obligation to tar all gun owners as crazy, baby-killing lunatics.  Admirably, Snell’s decency and intellect are such that, even when he let ‘er rip, he stuck to his facts and avoid ad hominem attacks.  Before I start discussing some of the points that specifically interested me in his article, I urge you to read it and share it, through any social media you have (email, Facebook, Twitter, a blog, etc.).  It’s that good.

What Snell does so well is to is explain why NRA types are so defensive when it comes to their Second Amendment rights.  They’ve learned over the years not to trust the Left, which speaks with forked tongue and, no matter what it says, wants to grab guns.  He makes more good arguments than I can count, so let me just give you a taste, and then hone in on my abortion point:

Gun people don’t trust anti-gun people because anti-gunners always talk about 90 percent of Americans supporting this gun control measure, or 65 percent supporting that one, as if a majority opinion is what truly matters in America. We don’t trust anti-gun people because you think America is a democracy, when it’s actually a constitutional federal republic. In the American system, the rights of a single individual are what matters and are what our system is designed to protect. The emotional mob does not rule in America.

Gun people don’t trust anti-gun people because they keep saying they “respect the Second Amendment” and go on about how they respect the hunting traditions of America. We don’t trust you because you have to be a complete idiot to think the Second Amendment is about hunting. I wish people weren’t so stupid that I have to say this: The Second Amendment is about checking government tyranny. Period. End of story. The founders probably couldn’t have cared less about hunting since, you know, they just got done with that little tiff with England called the Revolutionary War right before they wrote that “little book” called the Constitution.

Gun people don’t trust anti-gun people because they lie to us. President Obama directly says he won’t tamper with guns or the Second Amendment, then turns around and pushes Congress to do just that. We don’t trust anti-gunners because they appoint one of the most lying and rabidly (and moronically) anti-gun people in America, Vice President Biden, to head up a “task force” to “solve” the so-called “gun problem,” who in turn talks with anti-gun special interest groups instead of us to complete his task.

Snell neatly addresses the way the abortion makes the First Amendment sacrosanct, even while relegating the Second Amendment to the inner circle of Hell:

Gun people don’t trust anti-gun people because they look down on us for defending the Second Amendment as vigorously as they defend the First Amendment — a fight we too would stand side-by-side with them on otherwise. We don’t trust anti-gunners because someone defending the First Amendment is considered a hero, but a someone defending the Second Amendment is figured down with murderers and other lowlifes. Where the First Amendment has its very own day and week, both near-holy national celebrations beyond reproach, anti-gunners would use the First Amendment to ridicule any equivalent event for the Second Amendment, like they did for a recent local attempt at the University of Iowa.

Nicely, for purposes of my post here, Snell actually touches on the abortion question.  He doesn’t do so in a constitutional way, but I’m still throwing it in here, just because he makes such a good point, and manages to show how fundamentally flawed the Leftist position is:

Gun people don’t trust anti-gun people because when it comes to their “We need gun control to save the children” argument, many of us can’t understand how an anti-gun liberal can simultaneously be in favor of abortion. Because you know, a ban on abortion would save a child every single time. I’m personally not rabidly against abortion, but the discongruence makes less sense still when the reason abortions are legal is to protect a woman’s individual rights. That’s great, but does the individual rights argument sound familiar? Anti-gunners think that for some bizarre reason, the founding fathers happened to stick a collective right smack dab at the top of a list of individual rights, though. Yeah, because that makes sense.

Hmmm.  I got a little carried away and off-topic there, and ended up quoting a lot of choice paragraphs that don’t actually tie into the NARAL versus NRA argument.  They’re such good paragraphs, though, that I’m not going to delete them.  I’m just going to drag this post back to my original point, which is that, while Powers is right about late-term abortion, she’s wrong to compare NARAL and the NRA.

Where Powers’ analogy fails is that she believes that the two organizations — NARAL and the NRA — are comparable because both are single issue organizations and both have members who have staked out bottom line positions for their belief.  This is a false comparison, because it mistakes form for substance.  That is, it implies that, because they have a superficial similarity, their beliefs are equal — equal in morality, equal in logic, and equal in law.  They are not.  And this is where I can circle back to Snell.

My takeaway from Snell’s article is that there is no extremism in the defense of the Second Amendment.  It is every bit as important an inherent right as those jumbled almost carelessly together in the First Amendment.  When we defend it against anti-gun people, our actions aren’t motivated by our extremism, but by theirs.  We hew to the Constitution.  They hew to a false understanding of our republican form of government, dishonest statistics, political lies, emotional hysteria, fallout from their own bad policies, etc.  Gun rights advocates, unlike NARAL supporters are not denying reality, and they are not making up imaginary rights.

So while I applaud Powers’ for having the courage to take her Progressive brethren to task for their immoral position when it comes to late term abortion, I can’t give her a pass for pretending that abortion rights and gun rights are the same.  They’re not, and vigilance in defending against unconstitutional, illogical, and immoral attacks against the Second Amendment is not the same as extremism in defense of a made-up right that has been stretched and twisted to give legal cover to something that is, under any interpretation of law, morality, and biology, cold-blooded murder.

Hat tip:  Pierre LeGrand

The fundamental unconstitutionalism of Obama’s presidency

Much has been made of Obama’s statement that the gun rights crowd should stop worrying, because Obama contends that he is “constrained” by the system the Founders put in place.  If you don’t read his actual words with great care, it sounds as if he’s saying he’s contractually constrained — or, to put it in political language, he’s constitutionally constrained.  Without actually listening to him, we assume he’s saying, “Stop worrying, because even I understand that the Constitution stops me from grabbing your guns.”

The reason that there’s been such an uproar, though, is because that’s not what he’s saying.  Here’s the entire statement:

You hear some of these quotes, ‘I need a gun to protect myself from the government.’ ‘We can’t do background checks because the government is going to come take my guns away.’  Well, the government is us. These officials are elected by you. They are elected by you. I am elected by you. I am constrained, as they are constrained, by a system that our Founders put in place. It’s a government of and by and for the people.

That short paragraph breaks down into three distinct thoughts:

Thought one:  Crazy gun rights nuts fear the government.

Thought two:  People elect their government.

Thought three:  Those who are elected “are constrained by a system that our Founders put into place.”

Obama’s nasty language (and it is nasty, to the extent it calls at least 50% of Americans paranoid and ill-informed) says two things that are wrong.

The first wrong thing Obama’s implication, in thoughts two and three, that politicians are charged with taking care of our Constitutional rights.  That’s bass ackwards.  We are charged with taking care of our Constitutional rights — they’re natural rights, inherent in us, and the Second Amendment exists to make sure that if too many elected officials forget that those are natural rights, and begin to think they’re merely legislative rules that legislators can change, we can rid our country of these politicians’ tyranny.

The second wrong thing, which is more subtle, is that Obama is implying in thoughts two and three that, if a sufficient number of Americans elect anti-gun politicians, that majority overrides the constitution.  What he says in those last five sentences (“the government is us,” “you elect yourselves,” “the election is for you”) is that, if a majority of people elect politicians who support an unconstitutional idea, those politicians get to move forward enacting that idea irrespective of the Constitution.  That is a staggering misreading of the Constitution and the Gettysburg Address.

All of which gets me back to gay marriage and abortion, not because I’m specifically concerned with gay marriage and abortion, but because I’m concerned about the Constitutional implications when the Left takes on gay marriage and abortion.  First, neither is in the Constitution.  In 1973, Supreme Court justices used an emanation of a penumbra based upon an inference to find a “constitutional right to abortion” in the first trimester, with that individual woman’s right decreasing steadily until the third trimester, when the viable fetus became the state’s responsibility.

Since 1973, that trimester by trimester calculation has been abandoned so completely that a Planned Parenthood representative felt comfortable telling the Florida legislature that it was okay to “continue” an abortion if the baby manages to emerge alive.  In some places, that’s called murder.  Indeed, that’s why Kermit Gosnell is being tried for murder.  In Planned Parenthood’s world, however, his work was constitutionally legitimate.

As for gay marriage, it’s being cast as an inchoate civil right because no one can contend the Founders thought about it.  They certainly knew about abortion, although they made no mention of it, but they definitely didn’t consider the possibility of gay marriage.

In the Founders’ time, marriage was thought to be only one possible thing:  the joining of man and woman.  If the Constitution had made mention of it (which it didn’t), that it is what it would have meant.  The Left, though, is now recasting marriage as the uniting of two people who love each other.  The Founders would have been surprised.  In those days, after all, marriage was still very much a business proposition, one that gave a woman children and the assurance of care for those children, and one that gave a man the right to his wife’s financial estate, and the promise of progeny to inherit that combined estate.  If a marriage included love, such as John and Abigail Adams had, or George and Martha Washington enjoyed, that was a pleasant byproduct of a sexual and economic transaction sanctified by religion and sanctioned by the state.

The Obama administration has already used ObamaCare as a bludgeon by which to force conservative religious organizations to sponsor abortion. Before, those organizations preached against it; now, they’re being forced to pay for it.

What happened with abortion matters because the same thing is happening with gay marriage.  During the gay marriage debate’s first iteration, when California’s Prop. 8 was on the ballot, and before ObamaCare, we were promised that there was no way that the State could force religious institutions to perform gay marriages.  “After all,” said Prop. 8 opponents airily, “the state doesn’t force churches to perform abortions.”  Well, in Obama world — secure in his sufficient majority — the State does force churches to perform abortions.

The same will be true with gay marriage.  People dismiss the fact that religious institutions in other countries have been forced to perform gay marriages, or been punished for not performing gay marriages. Those countries, they say, don’t have a constitution.  We know, though, that this constitutional argument is meaningless in Obama’s America.  Last year, his administration made clear that it is unconstrained by Constitutional concerns.  And last week, Obama explained why:  if he feels he has the power, that power overrides the constitution.

At least now we know where we stand.

The question is whether, by 2014, we can convince a majority of American voters that their constitutional rights are at risk and that, even if they agree with the Obama plans so far (abortion, gay marriage, gun control), they may not like the next plans he has lined up down the road.  If I were Obama, I’d go after the 4th and 5th Amendments next.  After getting Americans to understand this comes the harder task:  keeping their focus all the way through 2016.

The problem when it comes to educating Americans is that these ideas are so horribly complex.  They don’t reduce to a poster.  It’s not going to resonate with most Americans to see a poster of a sad priest being forced to perform a gay marriage ceremony.  They’ll probably just say that the priest deserves to suffer because his organization once turned a blind eye to pedophiles.  (Under that standard, of course, the University of Pennsylvania should be razed and the earth sown with salt.)

When the liberals in my world catch hold of the fact that I don’t support gay marriage, they attack me as a homophobe.  I’m really not.  What I am is someone deeply concerned by the Constitutional implications of a mad rush to create implicit constitutional rights where none existed before, and then to use those inferred rights to destroy explicit ones.  They should be just as concerned.  If they want gay marriage as a Constitutional right, they should amend the Constitution, rather than trying to destroy it.  For all they know, they may be the next in line when the Obama state turns its destructive beam on yet another constitutional right.

First they came for the communists,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a communist.

Then they came for the socialists,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a socialist.

Then they came for the trade unionists,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a trade unionist.

Then they came for me,
and there was no one left to speak for me.

Ted Cruz’s question to Dianne Feinstein regarding the constitutionality of her gun law should be required reading for conservatives

Ted Cruz

Every day, I am more impressed with Ted Cruz.  He’s smart, he’s courageous, he’s knowledgeable, and he’s deeply loyal to the Constitution.  I understand that he went to Harvard Law School, rather than my alma mater, The University of Texas School of Law in Austin, but I can forgive him that failing because he’s so damn smart and intellectually brave.

Cruz couldn’t have asked better questions yesterday in the Senate Judiciary Committee regarding Dianne Feinstein’s proposed gun control bill.  You’ve already heard those questions.  DiFi’s huffy, offended response was the only one available to her, because he’d shut the door on her intellectually.  Thus, all she could say was “Who do you think you’re talking to, little boy?  I was writing unconstitutional laws before you were born!”  That was fun.

(Let me be catty for a minute. DiFi says she’s not a sixth grader. Hoo-boy, is that obvious! She looks like a mummy. She was once a very attractive younger woman, but she’s morphed into a creepily scary old woman. Okay, I needed to get that out of my system.)

Typically, though, it was Rush Limbaugh who summed up most perfectly what Ted asked, what it meant, and why DiFI had just enough firing brain cells to realize what a devastating attack Cruz had leveled at her bill.  Here’s what Rush had to say this morning, which started with him playing a tape of Cruz’s brilliant question:

CRUZ: The question that I would pose to the senior senator from California is: Would she deem it consistent with the Bill of Rights for Congress to engage in the same endeavor that we are contemplating doing with the Second Amendment in the context of the First or Fourth Amendment? Namely, would she consider it constitutional for Congress to specify that the First Amendment shall apply only to the following books and shall not apply to the books that Congress has deemed outside the protection of the Bill of Rights? Likewise, would she think that the Fourth Amendment’s protection against searches and seizures could properly apply only to the following specified individuals and not to the individuals that Congress has deemed outside the protection of the Bill of Rights?

RUSH: Are you applauding, folks?

Are you standing up and cheering here?

This is just not done! These people are never called on this. Here’s Dianne Feinstein with her list of approved guns. Dianne Feinstein, California senator, former mayor of San Francisco. Okay, fine. Great resume. You and you alone are gonna determine what kind of guns we can have all? So Cruz said, “Well, are you going to determine what books we can all read? Are you gonna determine what words can’t be said and what words can?” and liberals are not used to this. This is effrontery. This is lecturing. This is disrespect, as far as the left is concerned.

Dianne Feinstein was not happy with this, and she told Cruz not to lecture her.</blockquote>

It’s hard to believe that Cruz and Obama attended the same law school.  Cruz actually learned something.  Obama was probably too busy organizing communities and hobnobbing with Ayers & Co. to pay attention in class.  Or, given Cruz’s accurate statement about the Leftists’ in charge of the Harvard Law School classrooms, may Obama was paying too much attention.  Either way, one student graduated knowing American law, while the other student graduated knowing Karl Marx.

Random thoughts about the Declaration of Independence, the Bill of Rights, Civil Rights, and ObamaCare

Fellow Weasel Watcher Greg, at Rhymes with Right, came up with a good poster likening every woman’s right to have a gun to a black woman’s right to sit anywhere she wants in the bus.  That poster, combined with a discussion I had with some young ‘uns about the Bill of Rights got me thinking about the expression “Civil Rights,” which is something the Left bandies about freely.

Lately, the Left has taken to calling government control of American health care a Civil Right. We all know that’s wrong, but it’s worth understanding precisely why it’s wrong.  I’m still trying to organize my thoughts here, so please bear with me as a waffle my way through this.

United States Declaration of Independence

The beginning of any discussion of civil rights must be the Declaration of Independence:

We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

This single sentence is the “whereas” the precedes the Constitution.  Without this acknowledgement of God-given human status and dignity, the explicitly listed Rights in the Bill of Rights are meaningless.  These unalienable rights are the abstract predicates that justify a citizen’s more concrete “right” to have certain areas of functioning upon which the government cannot impinge.  Unless we acknowledge that humans — all humans — are equal and deserving of Life, Liberty, and the ability to make their way in the world, all the other bulwarks against government overreach are meaningless.

Second Amendment

Which gets us to the Bill of Rights.  What exactly is it?  I mean, we all know what’s in it, but I don’t think most people stop and think about what it is.

The Constitution is a contract between the People (acting through their state-elected representatives) and the government.  Its sole purpose is to describe what form the federal government will take.  It’s a rather dull document that’s given over to defining the executive branch, the legislative branch, and the judicial branch, and then apportioning power and responsibilities between the three of them.

The main body of the Constitution has nothing to do with the People, and everything to do with defining a functioning government.  Thus, while it seeks to make sure that the executive can’t overwhelm the legislature or that the courts can’t overwhelm the executive, there’s nothing in it about whether the government as a whole can overwhelm the citizens under its rule.

What the Founders realized in the wake of the Constitution’s ratification is that creating a government is not the same as protecting the People’s declared rights under that government.  “Rights” aren’t things that the government gives people and that it can take away from people.  Things that the government can “giveth and taketh away” are merely privileges.  Rights, on the other hand, belong to the People outside of the government.  Rights have nothing to do with government control over people, and everything to do with the People’s right to control government.  They preexist the government and will continue to exist long after the government is gone.  Rights are independent of government.

That rights are independent of government does not mean that the government cannot use its aggregated power to destroy those rights.  That they are destructible, despite being unalienable, is what concerned the Founding generation and what led them to create the Bill of Rights.

The first ten amendments to the Constitution recognize that the rights described are fundamental rights that transcend government, but that a tyrannical government can nevertheless destroy these fundamental rights.  Rather than assuming that a beneficent government will automatically protect these rights, the Founders erred on the side of caution and warned the government that it had (and has) no power to touch rights that exist in the People, irrespective of the government.

Combined, that extraordinary sentence in the Declaration of Independence and of the first ten amendments to the Constitution create a bright line of human inviolability into which government cannot intrude.  For example, from the Declaration of Independence, we have a controlling principle that explains why, even though sitting in the front of the bus isn’t set out explicitly or even implicitly in the Bill of Rights, it is still a fundamental Right that is a necessary predicate to the Bill of Rights.  Rights must be applied equally to all humankind, because humankind is created equally.

Freedom to speak, worship, and assemble are unalienable rights.  The right to be armed, for whatever the heck reason you want, is an unalienable right.  The right to have your home free from American troops in an unalienable right.  The right to be protected from torture and coercion aimed at forcing you to convict yourself out of your own mouth is an unalienable right.  The state has the right to execute you if a properly constituted trial finds you guilty of a capital crime, but you have the right to an execution that is neither cruel (death by torture) nor unusual (death by bizarre forms of torture).  There are other unalienable rights.

Let me say again what these rights are:  They are a bright line of human inviolability and power that the government, despite its concentrated strength (police forces, armies, taxing powers, etc.) cannot attack or abridge.

Once one understands the difference between Rights (which are unalienable) and privileges (which depend on the government we elect) we can see why it’s so ridiculous when the Left describes health care as a “civil right.”  It’s not.  True civil rights recognize that citizens and the government are adversaries:  the government constantly attempts to impose itself on the citizens, and the citizens have as their bulwark the Declaration and the Bill of Rights to protect them from this government overreach.  Good health is not a matter of government overreach — except, of course, when the government uses health as a means of undermining the Bill of Rights.

This then, is the problem with ObamaCare: Rather than upholding a civil right, it is created to undermine people’s civil rights.  Its death panels contravene the unalienable right to Life.  Its abortion and contraception mandates directly impinge upon the unalienable right to freedom of worship.  It’s proposed requirements that doctors ask prying questions about guns infringes upon the unalienable right to keep and bear arms.  And Justice Roberts’ decision to the contract, its penalties for inaction are a direct infringement to people’s liberty.

As I said, this is a work in progress, so I don’t have a rousing or neat conclusion.  I’m not even sure what to do with these thoughts, but I did want to get them down while they were still swirling in my head.  Please feel free to add to or refine upon what I’ve written.

Found it on Facebook: Analogizing guns and cars

Michael Ramirez pithily sums up all the deliberate or accidental hazards in American life that exceed the risks of rifle (“automatic” or otherwise) violence:

Michael Ramirez on gun violence

As you can see, cars are infinitely more deadly to Americans than are the rifles that are getting Progressives so excited. Those who wish to control guns think they’ve come up with the perfect counterargument to people who point out that we should do something about cars before we do something about guns:

Comparing guns and cars

The above poster is what happens after two generations of public school civics classes that focus obsessively on PC rights, while ignoring incidentals such as the Constitution.  Unlike guns, cars are not protected by the Constitution nor do they fall within the federal government’s purview.  The right to drive is purely a state’s rights issue, and the 10th Amendment therefore gives the individual states a fair amount of leeway.  To the extent cars travel on roads that fall within the Interstate Commerce clause, the federal government has some say too (e.g., speed limits), but cars are no more constitutionally protected than is swimming or bike riding.

Guns, however, are so important that they have their own Amendment.  Think about that for a minute.  With one other exception — which happens to be related to an armed citizenry — all of the other Amendments that make up the Bill of Rights are compound amendments, focusing on myriad issues that fall under a single subject line.  For example, free speech, a free press, and religion that is not subject to government interference, although all staggeringly important, are jumbled together in the 1st Amendment.  The Fifth Amendment has a laundry list of protections a citizen has when the state prosecutes him.

But there are two substantive amendments, both of which involve an individual’s rights against a state’s standing army, that are short and sweet:

Amendment II

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

Amendment III

No Soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the Owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law.

To be honest, I don’t see anything about cars anywhere in the Bill of Rights or, indeed, in any other section of the Constitution.

Here’s the really embarrassing thing about that poster likening driver control to gun control — I got it off the Facebook wall of a lawyer.  Tsk, tsk, tsk.

Demolishing one of the more ridiculous arguments regarding the Second Amendment

My fellow Watcher’s Council member, Greg, who blogs at Rhymes with Right, has put together the ultimate smack-down for those (especially those journalists) who argue that the Second Amendment extends only to muskets and other weapons in use when Congress enacted the Bill of Rights:

The First and Second amendments in context

Carrying this irrefutable logic over to the First Amendment means that the modern media has utterly forfeited its Freedom of Press protections. Unless those Democrat cheerleaders are willing to go back to hand-operated printing presses, they are fair game for government censorship and journalist imprisonment.

Please spread this poster around to those who need a few more weapons in their rhetorical arsenal supporting the Second Amendment.

Obama’s dangerous expansion of the use of executive orders

Years ago, during the Bush administration, Terry Gross, of NPR’s Fresh Air, interviewed a writer who was in an absolutely tizzy about Bush’s use of executive orders.  Sadly, for the life of me, I can’t find that interview.  What I also can’t find is any evidence that this author has again gone onto Terry Gross’ show to complaint about Obama’s extraordinary use of executive orders, a use that overwhelms Bush’s small efforts in that area.  Obama has vastly enlarged the nature and number of those orders, so much so that he’s becoming his own little legislature.

Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ) has written a lucid, interesting article detailing everything that is wrong with Obama’s abuse of the executive order:

Let’s focus on the supposed authority of the President to simply enact laws by the stroke of his pen. Article I Section I of the Constitution vests all legislative powers in Congress. All.  None are given to the President or the Courts.  All government acts need to be evaluated on whether they are consistent with our Constitution.

The executive branch has the Constitutional responsibility to execute the laws passed by Congress. It is well accepted that an executive order is not legislation nor can it be. An executive order is a directive that implements laws passed by Congress. The Constitution provides that the president “take care that the laws be faithfully executed.”  Article II, Section 3, Clause 5. Thus, executive orders can only be used to carry out the will of Congress. If we in Congress have not established the policy or authorization by law, the President can’t do it unilaterally.

That’s pretty simple: Executive orders simply give the president the power to effectuate Congress’ legislation, not the authority to make his own. Nor can the president use executive orders to prevent legislation from going into effect (as Obama did with immigration without any opposition) or to circumvent the Constitution itself (as he apparently intends to do with guns).

I urge you to read the whole thing, and then send it along to people you know who intuitively understand that what Obama’s doing is unconstitutional, but who need more facts and argument for their intellectual armory.

A great two-fer on gun control

National Review Online is running hot today, because it’s got two great articles on gun control, both of which clearly express what I was trying to tell those Marin-ites around me who are absolutely certain that (a) gun control saves lives and (b) the Second Amendment is stupid or misunderstood.

Rich Lowry, armed with data, asks the gun control crowd questions about guns and public safety that they are going to be hard put to answer while still retaining their blinkered world view.

And Kevin Williamson explains that, Hell yes!, the Founders wanted paramilitary weapons.  As I tried to tell my friends, if you disagree with that little historical fact, your option is to amend, not ignore, the Constitution.

Sensible ideas for protecting our students *UPDATED*

Armed guard at school in Israel

Wayne LaPierre, the NRA’s executive VP, says that our violent culture is to blame for gun violence and that, as long as the culture is what it is, school children should have police protection.  Despite the fact that the majority of Americans agree with him, the drive-by media is excoriating as if he had just announced that he eats children for breakfast and urges us all to do the same.  Americans, who have been schooled out of rational thinking, will soon be referring to LaPierre in the appropriate pariah-like terms and, like the useful idiots they’ve been trained to be, mouth agreement with the same media that espouses values they reject.

Well, that’s all I have to say on the subject, because promised that I’d back off from the gun posts for a little while.  That doesn’t mean, though, that I can’t direct you to other people’s.  (Hey, I’m a lawyer.  I’m always looking for loopholes.)

First, Bookworm room friend Servo1969 put up a solid post at the Free Republic detailing practical ways to protect our children when they’re herded into public schools.  And honestly, I had no idea you could holster a gun in your bra.

Second, when it comes to the media’s performance in the wake of this tragedy, Mark Steyn says it best:

For those untouched by death this Christmas, someone else’s bewildering, shattering turn of fate ought to occasion a little modesty and circumspection. Instead, even by its usual execrable standards, the public discourse post-Newtown has been stupid and contemptible. The Left now seizes on every atrocity as a cudgel to beat whatever happens to be the Right’s current hottest brand: Tucson, Ariz., was something to do with Sarah Palin’s use of metaphor and other common literary devices — or “toxic rhetoric,” as Paul Krugman put it; Aurora, Colo., was something to do with the Tea Party, according to Brian Ross of ABC News. Since the humiliations of November, the Right no longer has any hot brands, so this time round the biens pensants have fallen back on “gun culture.” Dimwit hacks bandy terms like “assault weapon,” “assault rifle,” “semiautomatic,” and “automatic weapon” in endlessly interchangeable but ever more terrifying accumulations of high-tech state-of-the-art killing power.

Okay, I’m done for now. But please don’t tune out of this debate. Our fundamental liberties have never been more at risk. The Obama administration has now taken aim at both the First Amendment (religious freedom) and the Second Amendment (right to carry arms). With the media running interference for him, we have to be strong on facts and logic, and willing to take the fight to the Left, if we want our Constitution to be more than just a tattered piece of paper.

By the way, this bit of Israeli satire, especially the first minute or so, explains a lot.  An awful lot.

UPDATE:  One more.  You have to read this one, regarding the lunacy of the Left’s instantaneous negative reaction to LaPierre’s proposal.

From the same people who brought you the constitutional right to privacy: “You have no privacy.”

In 1973, the United States Supreme Court created a federal right to abortion by finding that abortion falls into an unstated Constitutional dimension called “the right to privacy.”  (Note:  British and American common law has always recognized a right to privacy, but the Constitution makes no mention of it.)  Thus, in Roe v. Wade, the Court explained the constitutional protections for abortion as follows:

The Constitution does not explicitly mention any right of privacy. In a line of decisions, however, going back perhaps as far as Union Pacific R. Co. v. Botsford, 141 U.S. 250, 251 (1891), the Court has recognized that a right of personal privacy, or a guarantee of certain areas or zones of privacy, does exist under the Constitution.

[snip]

This right of privacy, whether it be founded in the Fourteenth Amendment’s concept of personal liberty and restrictions upon state action, as we feel it is, or, as the District Court determined, in the Ninth Amendment’s reservation of rights to the people, is broad enough to encompass a woman’s decision whether or not to terminate her pregnancy.

With the Court’s pronouncement about the huge reach of the Constitution’s unexpressed “right to privacy,” Democrats, Liberals, Communists, and Progressives pronounced themselves satisfied.  The 10th Amendment, which once upon a time reserved to the states those rights not expressly delegated to the federal government, was meaningless.  If the Left thinks it should be in the Constitution, then — voila! — it is in the Constitution. Since 1973, therefore, Americans have believed that a person’s right to privacy is all-encompassing, and prohibits the government, as well as arms of the government, such as state founded or funded universities, from poking their governmental nose into anything that pertains to our own bodies.

With the exception of abortion, which is the most challenging issue because there are competing right’s (the woman’s and the fetus’s), most libertarians would agree with a common law (and therefore worthy of full respect) right to privacy, even if they would argue, as I do, that it’s tremendously damaging to the American body politic to pretend such a right is constitutional.  If we want a constitutional right to privacy, the Constitution spells out the procedure:  amendment, not judicial fiat.

Once they established this new constitutional principle, however, Progressives realized that they should have been a bit more careful in institutionalizing privacy as a core constitutional doctrine.  As they’ve discovered, the best way for a state to control individuals is through controlling their sexuality.  By asserting increasing state dominance over people’s sex lives (which is different a society enforcing traditional moral codes), the state can break familial bonds, destroy an individual’s sense of his inviolable self, interfere with core religious doctrine, and hand out sexual treats at opiates for the masses, all of which consolidate state power over individuals.

The problem for the Progressives arises if individuals are old-fashioned enough to believe that their sexuality is nobody’s business but their own. And no, traditional marriage is not necessarily proof that people are screaming their heterosexuality out loud. Having grown up in San Francisco, I’ve known of many marriages that involved agreed-upon sexual arrangements that had very little to do with traditional heteronormative behavior, and everything to do with people wanting to live their lives their way, free from prying eyes.

Progressive’s frustration with old-fashioned notions of personal privacy — the same notion that they promoted and cheered in Roe v. Wade — came to a head in 2008 at the University of Delaware.  In academia’s never-ending push to turn people into malleable little clumps of victim-hood, and class-, race-, or sexuality-based identity groups, the University of Delaware realized that it would need to force recalcitrant students to state whether they’re LGBT, GLBT, STR8T, BI, AC/DC, or LMNOP (oh, sorry, got lost in my alphabet soup there):

A female freshman arrives for her mandatory one-on-one session in her male RA’s dorm room. It is 8:00 p.m. Classes have been in session for about a week. The resident assistant hands her a questionnaire. He tells her it is “a little questionnaire to help [you] and all the other residents relate to the curriculum.” He adds that they will “go through every question together and discuss them.” He later reports that she “looked a little uncomfortable.”

“When did you discover your sexual identity?” the questionnaire asks.

“That is none of your damn business,” she writes.

“When was a time you felt oppressed?”

“I am oppressed every day [because of my] feelings for the opera. Regularly [people] throw stones at me and jeer me with cruel names…. Unbearable adversity. But I will overcome, hear me, you rock loving majority.”[1]

She is not playing along like the other students, and the RA confronts her using his “confrontation training,” but it isn’t working. He becomes so appalled by her resistance that he writes up an incident report and reports her to his superiors. After all, this is the University of Delaware, and the school has a zero-tolerance policy for anything remotely resembling “hate speech.”

This one-on-one session was not meant to be a punishment, some kind of mandatory sensitivity training for a recalcitrant student who had committed an infraction. It was mandatory training for all 7,000-odd students in the University of Delaware dorms. The sessions were part of a thorough thought-reform curriculum, designed by the school’s Office of Residence Life, to psychologically “treat” and correct the allegedly incorrect thoughts, attitudes, values, beliefs, and habits of the students. The ResLife staff considered students too intolerant of one another, too “consumerist,” and in dire need of reeducation to become responsible world citizens who could meet the planet’s environmental crisis and the requirements of social and economic “justice.”

(FIRE successfully mounted a campaign to force the University of Delaware to abandon this forcible effort to extract personal information from vulnerable freshman, but I use it as an example here, because it so perfectly encapsulates the Leftist attitude towards privacy and sexuality.)

Aside from having a girl-crush (but not an LGBT girl-crush, just an intellectual one) on the young woman who spoke of being opera-oppressed, I’m shocked, disgusted, appalled, etc. — the usual range of emotion a liberty-loving person experiences when an institution takes vast sums of money to control a young person’s life and future and then uses its coercive power to extort deeply private information from that same vulnerable student.

What makes this Progressive attitude even more distasteful is the fact that Universities claim to be all about privacy — at least when that privacy means isolating students from their own parents, despite a reasonable presumption that these same parents, unlike the vast, impersonal institutions, truly have their children’s best interests at heart:

College and University students have a right to privacy. In the United States, it’s called FERPA: the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act. And there are a lot of rights and protections that you have as a student eighteen or over, and that you must respect as both a parent and a professor.

As a student, your grades, enrollment, assignments, and interactions with professors are all completely confidential. As a professor, I am not allowed, legally, to give out any information whatsoever about a student without that student’s explicit permission.

And, like practically all professors, I don’t. But this message is most important for parents, and for students who are worried about their irate parents.

Put another way:  your parent, who is probably paying for some or all of your education, cannot ask about your grades, but your university, which will have taken a minimum of $100,000 from you over the course of four years, while promising you a diploma with at least some market value, can force you to state your most private personal information.

I was going to end this post by saying the Left can’t have it both ways:  it either recognizes individual privacy or it doesn’t.  Then I slapped myself in the face and said “Don’t be stupid, Bookworm!  In Obama’s Leftist, narcissistic America, the Left can have it any way it likes it, both coming and going, as long as its demands drive the bottom line towards statism.”

Happy July 4th!

With a birthday that falls very close to July 4, I’ve always been quite proprietorial about this holiday.  One small part of my brain, while watching fireworks, always thinks “For me?  Why thank you!”

Fortunately, that’s only a smart part of my brain at work.  The bigger part of my brain has a more noble thought:  the best birthday gift in the world is that I am an American, born into a country that, by its founding charter, maximizes individual freedom and minimizes government control over people’s lives.

This year, we are very much at a crossroads.  In 2008, the American people decided to experiment by granting virtually unlimited political power to a cadre of people who have faith only in government, and who view the American people as infantile ignoramuses who can function only under the direction of self-styled experts.  This experiment has seen these experts abandon the contractual relationship that is supposed to control the various branches of government in their relationship to each other and in their relationship to the people.  I will not do a parade of grievances here (you can readily compile your own), but I will note that it was a parade of grievances resulting from overwhelming government pressure that, in 1776, led the American colonists to part ways with Britain.  Historically, Americans don’t like to be pushed around.

My hope for the coming election is that Americans find their backbone and their maturity.  Both backbone and maturity can be scary.  An adult, looking at a sleeping baby, thinks how delightful it must be to be coddled and bathed and fed and sheltered, all with minimal effort on the baby’s part.

What adults forget is how desperately children seek out and fight for freedom and responsibility as they grow.  From the toddler’s “No,” to the five-year-old’s “I can do this myself,” to the teenager’s “You’re not the boss of me,” our development shows that we are programmed to be self-governing.  To deny us that growth is to arrest our development in ways that can only stunt us, whether we’re viewed as individuals or a nation.

For reasons unique to me, Bookworm will continue to be my nom de cyber in the coming year.  However, on Facebook, which is my main point of intellectual (as opposed to social) contact with my corporeal (as opposed to cyber) friends, I am much more aggressively pursuing a conservative agenda.  When people make some fatuous liberal statement, I politely ask them to develop that thought, and then equally politely point out the holes in their reasoning and their facts.  With increasing frequency, I’m posting articles that challenge liberal paradigms.  I do the same in face-to-face conversations.  Confrontation is not my style, but I continuously strive to following Dennis Prager’s dictum to “prefer clarity to agreement” (keeping in mind that clarity often leads to agreement).

One of the things that will help you catch the holes in liberal arguments is to read Jonah Goldberg’s The Tyranny of Cliches: How Liberals Cheat in the War of Ideas. This book gives operating instructions for spotting the conversational tricks that liberals use to shut down conversations without actually having to touch upon substantive issues.  You can’t fight what you can’t see.  These clichés obscure ideas, leaving hapless conservatives fighting chimeras.  Their use also suggests either that liberals have no idea what they’re talking about (the majority, probably) or that they’re very busy hiding the ball (the dangerous power-brokering minority).

The other thing you can do, and this is just for fun, is to help out my friends at Madison Rising.  I’ve blogged here before about their Star Spangled Banner, which I thought was spine tingling.  The guys have now issued a challenge:

Let’s show Press and Tosh – and everyone else – that we still believe in this country and our National Anthem.

Take the Challenge: Help Madison Rising reach 1 million views & downloads by Election Day (November 6th).

Watch the video NOW. If you like what you see, download the song from one of the sites below. [Go to this link for the download sites.]

Happy Independence Day, Everyone!  It’s a great day to be an American.

Conservatives will have to take many small steps to reclaim America

One of my favorite blogfriends sent me a link to John Yoo’s article excoriating Justice Robert’s decision in the harshest terms.  Yoo states plainly that the decision spells the end of individualism in America, since it expands the government’s taxing power to encompass everything.  Those who seek a silver lining (or ponies or lemonade) are deluding themselves, Yoo argues:

All this is a hollow hope. The outer limit on the Commerce Clause in Sebelius does not put any other federal law in jeopardy and is undermined by its ruling on the tax power (discussed below). The limits on congressional coercion in the case of Medicaid may apply only because the amount of federal funds at risk in that program’s expansion—more than 20% of most state budgets—was so great. If Congress threatens to cut off 5%-10% to force states to obey future federal mandates, will the court strike that down too? Doubtful.

Worse still, Justice Roberts’s opinion provides a constitutional road map for architects of the next great expansion of the welfare state. Congress may not be able to directly force us to buy electric cars, eat organic kale, or replace oil heaters with solar panels. But if it enforces the mandates with a financial penalty then suddenly, thanks to Justice Roberts’s tortured reasoning in Sebelius, the mandate is transformed into a constitutional exercise of Congress’s power to tax.

[snip]

Given the advancing age of several of the justices, an Obama second term may see the appointment of up to three new Supreme Court members. A new, solidified liberal majority will easily discard Sebelius’s limits on the Commerce Clause and expand the taxing power even further. After the Hughes court switch, FDR replaced retiring Justices with a pro-New Deal majority, and the court upheld any and all expansions of federal power over the economy and society. The court did not overturn a piece of legislation under the Commerce Clause for 60 years.

Yoo is correct about the decision’s effect, and new evidence showing that Roberts was motivated more by politics than constitutionalism.  Nevertheless, this war is not over as long as we don’t surrender.

Rightly or wrongly, the bottom line is that the Supreme Court will not pull conservative’s political chestnuts out of the fire.  America is stuck with the government the majority elects.  Conservatives sat on their collective backsides for 40 years as liberals took over one institution after another.  They sowed, they reap.  We weep.

John Will is a Brazilian Jujitsu martial artist who makes an interesting point when he teaches, one that sank into my brain and that still surfaces periodically when I get overwhelmed by things:  we tend to get into trouble because we’re unaware that we’re heading into trouble.  Few of us race to disaster.  Instead, we head that way step by unwitting step.  We can pull back at any time, but we don’t.  If we were at the water’s edge, you would see that few of us jump into the deep end.  Instead, we just keep walking, unaware that the water is rising, right up until it hits our mouth.  That’s bad.  What’s really bad, though, is that we think we can take a giant leap and suddenly be on dry land.  That’s not what happens.  Sadly, too many who assume that a giant leap is all there is, end up panicking when the leap fails — and there they are, stranded and helpless.

Will’s point is that, whether in jujitsu or life, one cannot instantly and completely pivot away from a slowly developing disaster.  If it took 48 steps to get you in up to your nose, it might take 49 to get you back to dry land.  In jujitsu, that means a victory might be freeing your elbow or your knee, so that you can go on to liberate the next body part from your opponent’s grip.  In politics, a start might be holding the House and taking the White House.  Not as good as all three political branches, but better than just one.

Here’s the deal:  We’ve had decades to get ourselves into this fix.  We — that is, we conservatives — will not reclaim the country in November.  Nevertheless, this election, and the next election, and the election after that, each represents one of the small steps we must take so that the Supreme Court ruling is a tocsin and not a death knell.

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.