Midday Tuesday round-up and Open Thread

Victorian posy of pansies[I've got to run, but I don't want to delay publishing this by two or three hours. I'm therefore publishing as is. Please forgive the inevitable typos.]

I was reading an enjoyable book about the clash between good and evil. I commented to a friend that the only problem with the book was that too many good guys die. I like my books to end with the heroes still intact. He responded that “As to the deaths of good guys, when you’re fighting ultimate evil, some casualties are to be expected, lest ultimate evil be trivialized.”

His comment is correct as an artistic matter. It’s also correct as a practical matter. When we are threatened by evil, it’s the good guys who step and fight — and therefore die — first. The rest of us lurk in corners hoping the conflict will pass us by entirely. When the conflict finally ends, if there’s still a society left to rebuild, too often the good guys are gone and the builders are the cowards, and the whiners, and the useless people.

On that cheerful note, let me dive into what may well be the mother of all round-ups.

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As if to make my point, I got word today that my fellow Watcher’s Council member, Tom White, who did yeoman’s work helping David Brat’s candidacy and who accurately predicted Brat’s victory, is on the receiving end of threats from the former Chairman of the Republican 3rd District. Tom put himself out there in the best possible way, and now he’s in the line of fire. Tom is more than capable of taking care of himself, but the whole thing is disgusting.

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Okay, here’s something cheerful: This story illustrates perfectly why an armed society is a civil society and why, to gun-banners’ constant chagrin, when legally held arms increase in number, crime decreases in proportionate number.

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We’ve all remarked here on the fact that the climate Nazis are remarkably flexible when it comes to attributing everything to anthropomorphic climate factors. Hot summers? Climate change. Cold winters? Climate change. Islamic aggression? Climate change. You know the drill.

It turns out that they’re equally flexible when it comes to data. This flexibility goes beyond the hidden data, the “adjusted” temperatures, and the manufactured hockey sticks. It now includes turning back time.

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Sometimes a writer phrases something in a way that makes you think “That’s it! That’s what I was trying to say.” I had precisely that response to Stephen Hayward’s article about the corruption of Civil Rights, something that he addresses specifically in the context of the way in which same-sex marriage advocates are targeting businesses and individuals who object to same-sex marriage. Some of you may recall that I long ago argued that the Supreme Court’s decision in Brown v. Board of Education was good politics and a morally correct decision, but a legal disaster that led to the corruption of the relationship between individuals, on the one hand, and the law and the state, on the other hand.

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A few useful and interesting posts about the deaths of Eyal Yifrach, Gilad Shaar and Naftali Frenkel. Along with all of you, I was horrified, although unsurprised, to learn that the three boys were dead. I’ll say only that it was small consolation to learn that, because Hamas bungled the kidnapping, it killed them instantly rather than torturing them before killing them. As I said, it’s small consolation.

American Jews shouldn’t just weep, they should act. We Jews are always the first in the Islamic cross hairs and our own government has been exceptionally passive about rising Islamism, not to mention the Palestinian/Islamist nexus.

Just how bad was Obama’s behavior? This bad.

Bret Stephens looks at Palestinian mothers, who delight in sending their own children off to murder other children. (It might be behind a pay wall.)

As for the Palestinians and their inveterate sympathizers in the West, perhaps they should note that a culture that too often openly celebrates martyrdom and murder is not fit for statehood, and that making excuses for that culture only makes it more unfit. Postwar Germany put itself through a process of moral rehabilitation that began with a recognition of what it had done. Palestinians who want a state should do the same, starting with the mothers.

These horrible mothers raise children such as these, whose raised three fingers show that they are celebrating the kidnapping and death of three Israeli children:

Muslim kids celebrate death of Israeli teens

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Mike McDaniel examines both the long, long list of illegal acts in the Obama administration and the power a president has to issue pardons. Adding these two things up leads to some very ugly conclusions.

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With its despicable tactics to retain Thad Cochran in Congress, the once Grand Old Party betrayed its history and created what may be a very damaging schism in conservative ranks.

Of course, it didn’t help at all that the best known Tea Party groups, to the extent they bothered to show up, used their money ineffectually. My sense about these groups is that they mostly send out lots of emails.

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I first became aware of Dan Bongino in connection with his impassioned speeches against gun control efforts. He seems to be a very solid conservative, something affirmed by an Open Letter he wrote to America’s political class, both Left and Right.

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If you’ve been thinking that our federal government is increasingly looking like the government you’d see in a banana republic, here’s fuel for your fire: Congress has quietly done away with rules requiring elected officials to disclose information about trips they take courtesy of lobbyists.

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In part because the media refuses to play along (unlike its behavior during Watergate), it’s perhaps inevitable that the House’s efforts to go after the IRS are bogging down into a mediocre political spectacle. Fortunately, others are also going after the IRS, including Judicial Watch. The exciting news is that Judicial Watch drew an honest judge — Emmit Sullivan. Judge Sullivan will not countenance any corrupt behavior in a litigation. The IRS’s “computer ate my emails” excuse should end in his courtroom.

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And remember, even with the IRS, where there’s life, there’s laughter, this time courtesy of plaintiffs suing the IRS:

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If you think our military is something special, you’re right. This video, of a Marine flyer with broken landing gear nevertheless sticking a landing on an aircraft carrier is epic:

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Surprisingly enough, on the subject of Hobby Lobby, a writer for The Atlantic tells the Left to cool the hysteria.

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Sometimes, one persistent individual can make such a big difference. Miriam Noujaim, a Sacramento DMV employee who is a member of SEIU Local 1000, the largest state-employee union, wants to see what the heck the union has been doing to create annual travel expenses that have gone up to $5.21 million. The union doesn’t want anyone to see its records, but Noujaim won’t let go. I have nothing but applause for her pit bull tenacity.

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Guns are good. Keeping guns away from kids is also good. And this is a clever, slightly risque ad to make that point:

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William A. Jacobson is putting words to my worst nightmare: He thinks that Elizabeth Warren has the potential to be 2012′s Barack Obama. I don’t know that she would be worse than Obama, but it’s doubtful she’ll be any better. Safe in her million dollar Ivory Tower enclave, Warren is an angry limousine socialist who will aggressively ensure that the government takes over the lives of everyone but for her and her cronies.

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I’ve mentioned many times the brilliant friend of mine who says that the real issue Islam has with the West is control over women. Muslim men have it and want to keep it. Everything else is ultimately subordinate to their desperate efforts to ensure that women are sexually available to them. Two stories out of Iraq, one about women fearful of rape attacks and the other about ISIS’s demands that the women simply make themselves available for sex, lend credence to my friend’s contention.

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Oh, this is a good one: Now they’re arguing that doctors should decide who can get a gun. Let me tell you something about the doctor’s in my neck of the woods: If they’re under 50, they’re DemProgs who demand gun control. They’re the last people who should be deciding who gets to exercise Second Amendment rights and who doesn’t.

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When I first saw this Slate article challenging San Francisco’s housing policies, I thought it would be an intelligent article arguing against rent control. Boy, was I wrong. Instead, it’s part-and-parcel of the administration press to grow urban areas (Democrat strongholds) and kill suburbs (the last gasp of conservative thinking). We’ve been fighting this fight in Marin, where the federal government is trying to turn Marin into part of a vast, urban conglomeration with centralized management taking direction from the feds. No, thank you!

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Is the Fed heading for the horrible crash that inevitably follows the bubble?

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Ever since I was slightly taller than knee high to a grasshopper, I’ve known that societies that are friendly to the Jews are also societies that enjoy enormous economic, social, and military success. Societies that try to destroy Jews inevitably fail, not just when it comes to destroying the Jews, but they also fail themselves. Now, I have support from a great video that examines the Israel litmus test:

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Pictures:

Dyslexic bank robbers

Gun in the hand is better than a cop on the phone

Leading cause of hard drive failures

(Thanks to Sadie, Earl, Caped Crusader, and Danny Lemieux, all of whom contributed in some way to this post.)

The Democrats’ “Taming of the Shrew” strategy for American blacks

kkk-rally

It’s all good, guys.  I’ve finally figured out what’s been going on.  We’ve just been reading history dead wrong.  The operating historic premise is that the KKK and the Democrat party parted ways during the Civil Rights movement.  When the KKK guys realized that northern Democrats who supported civil rights now owned the Democrat party, they walked out en masse and became Republicans.  That way, they were free to indulge openly in their hateful racism.

What really happened is something much more subtle.  The KKK guys became sleepers in the Democrat party.  Instead of attacking blacks head on with burning crosses and lynchings, they decided to use a mainstream political party as the engine by which they destroyed blacks.  As Petruchio did in The Taming of the Shrew, they set out to kill the blacks with kindness.  The degradation of American blacks under fifty years of ostensibly well-meaning Democrat social and economic policies isn’t a bug, it’s a feature.

(Bear with me here, ’cause I’m on a roll.)

Despite the horrors of the Jim Crow South, not to mention the pervasive racism across America, blacks in America were actually showing steady, albeit slow, upward mobility.  When the government left them alone, blacks started colleges, grew businesses, got married, and had families.  Although they were poorer than whites, had more out-of-wedlock children than whites, and had more run-ins with the law than whites, they were moving towards a middle class model.  Undoubtedly, this trend could have continued and even accelerated with the passage of civil rights laws that banned discrimination.  (And it’s worth remember that the Civil Rights Act didn’t require affirmative federal action; it only banned discrimination.)

Frederick Douglas Do Nothing With Us

Whenever they were left alone, blacks in America proved that Frederick Douglas was right all along when he insisted that the best thing that America could do for blacks would be to leave them alone.

Here’s the interesting thing, though.  The moment that the Civil Rights movement seemed to have defeated Jim Crow, the Democrat party swung into action — and refused to leave blacks alone.  It gave them affirmative action, which meant that, for fifty years, blacks have been placed in jobs and schools where they cannot perform at the same level as other people (both whites and minorities) who achieved those positions on merit.  This gave blacks an inferiority complex, and created in non-blacks the false belief that blacks cannot achieve without a sizable handicap.

The Democrat party also did everything it could to ensure that blacks got government handouts, whether or not they wanted them.  Instead of being free people, blacks became junkies dependent on ostensibly “free” money.  It sapped initiative and pride.

Worse, welfare made men unnecessary.  Black women got a better deal from Uncle Sam, especially if they had lots of children.  Black men were reduced to the status of sperm donors.  (For many women, men who don’t bring in money are burdensome creatures who leave dirty laundry on the floor and forget to put down the toilet seat.)

With the new welfare status quo, sex for black men was easy, but their entire sense of their manhood was reduced to a biological level dependent on a single organ in their bodies.  They were no longer judged by their accomplishments, their earning ability, their status as community role models, or as helpmates and companion.  Black men were denied the opportunity to develop honor, loyalty, and morality.  Instead, instead, in the hierarchical world of men (and all men are, to a greater or lesser extent, hierarchical in how they view the world), the only measurements by which to judge black men was to look for the biggest gun, whether the man carried it gun in a holster or tuck it into his Calvin Klein whitey-tighties.

So we have a generation of black men who have been cheated of an education and a well-fitting job, whose children and family no longer need them as support, and whose lives revolve around their firing power.  It was inevitable that these socially and economically disenfranchised — men disenfranchised by a Democrat-enacted policy — would create a culture centered on themselves and their instant gratification.  The engines for achieving these ends have been alcohol, sex, drugs, and violence.  These are manly pursuits untempered by the steadying influence of women and children or by a culture that values men.

And what did the Democrats do when black men, as a result of Democrat policies, devolved into a lowest-common denominator culture?  They “forgave” them.  Instead of exhorting them to rise up, to embrace morality, decency, family, stability, work, accomplishments, and education, the Democrats assured the black men that what they were doing was okay.  “Oh, black men,” said the Democrats, “you are not masters of your destiny and captains of your fate.  You are the helpless flotsam and jetsam floating about aimlessly on the great ocean of Republican racism.  You can’t do anything about your lives and therefore you are not responsible for the harm you do, whether to yourselves, your families, your children, your community, or your country.”

It is a terrible thing that Democrats have done to blacks — and all ostensibly in the name of love.

And that’s when I realized what’s really been going on for all these decades:  the Democrats have achieved what the KKK set out to do.  Just like Petruchio in The Taming of the Shrew, they have succeeded in killing American blacks by kindness:

Taming_of_the_shrew

That is, to watch her, as we watch these kites
That bate and beat and will not be obedient.
She ate no meat today, nor none shall eat.
Last night she slept not, nor tonight she shall not.
As with the meat, some undeservèd fault
I’ll find about the making of the bed,
And here I’ll fling the pillow, there the bolster,
This way the coverlet, another way the sheets.
Ay, and amid this hurly I intend
That all is done in reverend care of her.
And, in conclusion, she shall watch all night,
And if she chance to nod I’ll rail and brawl,
And with the clamor keep her still awake.
This is a way to kill a wife with kindness,
And thus I’ll curb her mad and headstrong humor.
He that knows better how to tame a shrew,
Now let him speak; ’tis charity to show.
The Taming of the Shrew is a delightful and witty comedy.  We know that Kate and Petruchio are two headstrong people who must inevitably love one another, and we know too that Kate has lost control of herself and must be brought to heel, not just for her family’s well-being, but for her own.  That’s why we forgive the way Petruchio browbeats her under the guise of love and solicitude.
American blacks, however, are not Kate:  They are not women in the 16th century who must marry to survive and who must therefore be tamed.  It is unforgivable that the Democrat party has sought to kill them by kindness, not to uplift them and bring them to full equality, but instead to degrade and demoralize them.  This is not the act of a political party that welcomes blacks to the brotherhood of man.  This is the act of people who loathe blacks and want to ensure their continued poverty and debasement — which was pretty much the KKK’s plan from the get-go.

 

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.

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.

 

The Trayvon Martin killing, while sadly generic, is twisted into a platform for the Left’s usual crew of race mongers *UPDATED*

Sequestered here on the Left Coast I hadn’t paid any attention to the Trayvon Martin murder.  Today, though, it forced itself into the forefront of my brain.  As the media spins the story, it’s a horrific case of a very wholesome, very young black man cruelly executed in a “safe,” “white” neighborhood by a ferocious non-black man (sold by some as white, admitted by others to be Hispanic), with the man clearly acting in a racial fury.

Here are reports on some other racial fury the story, as the media sold it, has stirred:

Fla. shooting stirs memories of civil rights era

Sharpton, seeking to relive his glory days, gets involved.

Farrakhan, seeking to relive his glory days, gets involved.

High school students, seeking to relive their elder’s glory days, get involved.

What’s missing from all this racial hysteria in Obama’s America is the truth.  I’m sure you won’t be surprised to learn that the truth does not involve a wholesome black boy, in a “safe,” “white” neighborhood, randomly killed for being black by a non-black man.  Instead, the truth involves a very large black kid on a five day suspension from school, in a dangerous, mixed-race neighborhood, pounding a Hispanic man into the ground.  Whether the Hispanic man was sufficiently in fear of his life to justify a self-defense shooting remains to be seen.  What’s clear, though, is that the media narrative is a lie.

I leave it to all of you to figure out why this story was the platform for the big lies.  Is Obama’s base quietly deserting him?  I don’t think the numbers support that.  Is the media trying to deflect attention from more significant stories about Obama Administration failures and malfeasance?  This seems like a peculiar way to go about it.  Were Sharpton and Farrakhan bored and looking to stir things up a little?  That, actually, I can believe.  These men are increasingly marginalized by the younger generation of agitators.  Perhaps these are the last roars of the old lions.

UPDATE:  For those who thought I was being reflexively anti-Obama when I made reference to “Obama’s America,” I wasn’t.  Right on cue, Obama waded in, with language more temperate than he used when the Henry Louis Gates story broke, but still obviously siding with the race mongers:

“If I had a son he would have looked like Treyvon,” Obama said shortly, addressing the victim’s parents. “I think they are right to expect that all of us as Americans are going to take this with the seriousness that this deserves and that we’re going to get to the bottom of exactly what happened.”

Obama is now, and always will be, a racist: that is, he views everything through a racial prism, and seems unable to believe or understand that, for most people, race is only one small part of the myriad biological, genetic, and social factors that make them who they are and that guide what they do.

The Left transforms Civil Rights, so that it’s no longer freedom FROM government, but total control BY government

Civil rights are much discussed lately, primarily because Progressives with bully-pulpits are furious that Glenn Beck held a rally at the Lincoln Memorial on the 47th anniversary of Martin Luther King’s famous civil rights rally at that same location.  To hear them tell it, in the wake of the “Civil Rights Movement,” civil rights are entirely a black thing, and whites who parade around in the civil rights mantel are manifestly racists.

It says much about the Orwellian twists the Progressive mind takes that its spokespeople can, with a straight face, confine civil rights to a single race.  The whole Progressive concept is oxymoronic, because civil rights, by definition, extend to all citizens within the civitas, not just citizens of a specified color.  (And isn’t that the point King was trying to make?)  The idiocy emanating from the Left might be merely amusing, but for the fact that the Left is working out to ensure that this definition applies to all future generations.  After all, it was Arne Duncan, Obama’s Education Secretary, who appeared at Al Sharpton’s poorly-attended counter rally to announce that education is “the civil rights issue of our generation.”

All of this points to the fact that, in the years since Martin Luther King’s pivotal moment in the sun, the Left has redefined civil rights into a concept that would be utterly alien to Martin Luther King — and that is alien to most people who aren’t Progressives or self-styled “liberals.”  It’s therefore time, in Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius’ memorable words, for some “reeducation.”

To me, and perhaps to you, “civil rights” are those inherent rights that automatically extend to all citizens in a free country.  Thomas Jefferson articulated the broadest outlines of these rights in 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. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

Jefferson stated unambiguously that these unalienable rights — the ultimate civil liberties, if you will — do not come from government.  They exist independent of government.  Government’s job is not to create those rights, but to safeguard them.  Government cannot hand them out, not can it take them away.  They just are.  And if government fails to provide the proper safeguards or, worse, itself threatens these unalienable rights, it is not the rights that are illegitimate, it is the government.

Very soon after the American Revolution ended, our Founders recognized that the federal government needed some guidance if it was to maintain its legitimacy and provide a stable structure for its citizens without destroying their rights.  To that end, in 1791, the Founders enacted the Bill of Rights (i.e., the first ten amendments to the United States Constitution).  They are short and sweet, and are notable for the way in which, rather than extending government power, they severely restrict its power over citizens:

Amendment 1 – Freedom of Religion, Press, Expression.

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

Amendment 2 – Right to Bear Arms.

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 3 – Quartering of Soldiers.

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.

Amendment 4 – Search and Seizure.

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

Amendment 5 – Trial and Punishment, Compensation for Takings.

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.

Amendment 6 – Right to Speedy Trial, Confrontation of Witnesses.

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.

Amendment 7 – Trial by Jury in Civil Cases.

In Suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury, shall be otherwise re-examined in any Court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law.

Amendment 8 – Cruel and Unusual Punishment.

Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.

Amendment 9 – Construction of Constitution.

The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

Amendment 10 – Powers of the States and People.

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

To summarize in modern English, our “life, liberty and pursuit of happiness,” “unalienable rights” that come from “the Creator,” are preserved only if we have a federal government that, as to the citizens within its borders:

  • has “no desire to make windows into men’s souls” (1st Amendment);
  • allows them to speak freely, whether the government likes that speech or not(1st Amendment);
  • allows a press unconstrained by government threats or requirements(1st Amendment);
  • let’s them to rally together (1st Amendment);
  • listens to their concerns (1st Amendment);
  • lets them arm themselves (2nd Amendment);
  • protects them from the reach of the government’s own military and police (3rd and 4th Amendments);
  • makes the home inviolate, with the burden on the government to prove a pressing need to breach that privacy (4th Amendment);
  • ensures that a citizen suspected of a crime is held only subject to a clearly stated charge, is prosecuted only once, is brought swiftly to trial, has a fair trial, may have the facts of his case judged by his peers, and cannot be bullied to convict himself out of his own mouth (5th, 6th and 7th Amendments);
  • establishes that, in any case, not just a civil one, the citizen may have a jury of his peers and may not lose his life, liberty or property without a full, fair trial (7th Amendment);
  • prevents the government from stealing private property (5th Amendment); and
  • never inflicts cruel or unusual punishment on any citizen (although the reference to capital crimes in the 5th Amendment indicates that execution does not fall within those parameters) (8th Amendment).

All of the above are the explicitly stated limitations the Founders placed upon the federal government.  It took eight amendments to drive those points home.  But to reiterate just how severely constrained the United States’ federal governments’ power is vis a vis the citizens within its borders, the Founders made two further points:  While the amendments are to be understood to control the federal government, they cannot be read to mean that American citizens have only those rights enumerated in the first eight amendments (9th Amendment).  Instead, those ostensibly stated affirmative “rights” are actually limitations on the government.  All else remains to a free people.

And if that isn’t clear enough, the 10th amendment says that, unless the Constitution specifically reserves an affirmative right for the federal government, or prohibits it to a state, all other rights — the universe of rights, whether or not articulated — belong to the states or the people within those states.

This is small government writ large.  Civil rights mean small government, with the government limited primarily (although not entirely) to protecting citizens from itself.

Martin Luther King understood this.  The Civil Rights movement was a stand against overt government encroachment on the rights of black people.  The Southern States, ignoring the Declaration’s acknowledgment that all men inherently possessed civil rights, used the government as a weapon against the black people within its borders.  The real problem blacks faced wasn’t that their fellow white citizens behaved hostilely, and even murderously, towards them.  Had the government fulfilled its policing responsibilities and stepped forward to protect those citizens, Jim Crow would have been a short-lived phenomenon.  The real problem was that Southern government itself encroached on citizens’ freedom.

It was Southern government that legislatively segregated schools, segregated housing, segregated business establishments, segregated marriages and enacted barriers between blacks and ballots.  It was Southern government that was a “Form of Government [that had become] destructive of these ends [life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness for black people],” making it the civil  “Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.”

In the sixty years since the Civil Rights movement, the Left has entirely perverted the whole notion of civil rights.  Civil Rights as the Founders intended meant the right of all citizens, regardless of race, color, religion, sexual, gender, etc., to be free of government constraints (although the government’s police powers certainly required the government to protect citizens when others amongst them worked to injure them or constrain their basic freedoms).  Civil Rights as the Left demands it has become an all powerful government that is responsible for redistribution wealth, property, access to government and even happiness, from whites to blacks.

Cross-posted at Right Wing News

The Princess and the Frog — Disney’s gift to American blacks

I just returned from seeing Disney’s latest release, The Princess and the Frog. Looked at purely from an entertainment standpoint, the movie is a delight.  The hand drawn animation is imaginative and, at times, exquisitely beautiful.  When the Bayou lights up at sunset with fireflies, every little girl in the audience emits a rapturous “oooooh.”  The music, which Randy Newman composed, is a high energy blend of New Orleans jazz, Cajun zydeco and friendly pop.  You won’t leave the movie theater being able to sing any of the songs (those types of songs seem to have been banished from movies forever), but your brain will definitely be happy with the melodies that zip around, lighting up various synapses.

As for the storyline, that’s where the real magic lies.   But to explain just how magical it is, I need to back up a little bit.  In pre-1960s America, the black community was sorely beaten down.  I don’t need to recite here the insults, indignities and limitations that came with Jim Crow.  Even outside of the South, black opportunities for economic advancement were limited, and blacks were routinely subjected to demeaning treatment.  Unsurprisingly, in the first half of the 20th century, American blacks beat out white Americans in every negative indicator:  compared to whites, black communities had more crime, more illegitimacy, more illiteracy and much, much more poverty.

Despite these severe, externally imposed limitations on the American black community, throughout the early 20th century the story of American blacks was one that showed an upward trajectory.  (Although, thinking about it, maybe that resilience isn’t a surprise.  Just as the body strengthens only when it is exposed to resistance, it may be true that a community often finds strength if it must push back against hardship.)  The Harlem Renaissance in the 1920s and the Chicago Renaissance in the 1950s revealed a black community that had a ferocious pride and intellectualism.

Economic opportunities were also opening up.  For example, a job as a Pullman Porter provided an economic pathway to the middle class for those black man able to make the sacrifice of being on the road all the time.  Between decent (for blacks) salaries and good tips, the men who held those jobs could provide for their families.  The same job allowed blacks, formerly blinkered by geographic limitations, to see larger possibilities, both social and economic, in the world around them.  Blacks were also leaving an indelible musical mark on American culture, one that elevated their status amongst young whites, who were the up-and-coming generation.

Looking at the strides blacks were making, in education, in employment, and in culture, it is obvious that the Civil Rights movement didn’t appear out of nowhere.  It was the logical trajectory for an increasingly educated, empowered, sophisticated American black community.

One of the bizarre legacies of the Civil Rights movement, however, wasn’t the continued economic and social ascendancy of American blacks.  Instead, the Civil Rights signaled the reverse, which was the destruction of many sectors of the African American community.  I don’t say this to denigrate the important rights the movement affirmed belong to all Americans or the benefits that flowed to all of America from the recognition of black civil rights.  American law now properly ensures that blacks (and all races) have equal access to every available opportunity America has to offer.  Blacks, rightly, cannot be denied food, shelter, education or employment because of their skin color.  The same movement, however, that affirmed that all men are indeed created equal, also cheated blacks in ways no one anticipated back in 1964.

In the wake of the 1964 Civil Rights bill, well-meaning liberals fanned out throughout black communities and told black people that, rather than working, they should take government handouts.  As they explained it to blacks who had clawed their way up the first few rungs of the economic ladder by relying on self-reliance and community pride, these government funds weren’t really handouts at all.  Instead, they were an appropriate form of retribution for the free labor blacks provided in America for hundreds of years.  By making this pitch to blacks to give up self-reliance and become dependent on the government, blacks were first introduced to, and then embraced, the notion that, since slavery was work, all work is slavery.  Work was no longer the measure of a man’s (or a woman’s) worth.  It was a symbol of oppression, and therefore to be avoided.

The same held true in the world of education.  In an effort to jumpstart the black community on the path to professionalism, the guilt-ridden white middle class skipped the obvious, which was to focus its efforts on family, culture and early childhood education.  Instead, it decided that the best thing to do was to give adult blacks a free-ish path to the best educational institutions in America.  In the short run, it seemed like a brilliant idea, since we all know that a Harvard degree opens doors.  In the long run, it was a disaster.  As I wrote in my post about Barack Obama’s affirmative action presidency:

[I]f you set the standards lower for one racial group than for others, three things will happen:  First, the race that has the lower hurdles will stop trying as hard.  After all, humans are rational creatures, and people working toward a goal are wise to work only as hard as they need, and no harder.  Why expend energy unnecessarily?

Second, those members of the race who are fully capable of competing without a handicap will also behave rationally and conserve their energy, because it’s the smart thing to do.  This means that the lower hurdles will deprive them of the psychological opportunity to stretch and prove themselves.

Third, a lot of people who would not normally have been in the race at all will bob up to the top, thanks to that handicap.  Worse, if there is a critical mass of mediocrity floating along on this tide of affirmative action, those mediocre people will inevitably, through sheer numbers, become representative of the racial group.  In other words, if you give enough mediocre people in a specific racial group a head start so that they win, it looks as if all the winners from that particular racial group are mediocre.

The above realities mean that you end up with two dire situations for the racial group that affirmative action is infantilizing:  First, an enormous number of useless people become very poor representatives of their race.  And second, people who are genuinely good and deserving of recognition end up being thrown in the hopper of useless beneficiaries who achieved high status without ability or effort.

So, in a generation, American blacks went from being a community that was forced at whip’s end to give away its labor for free, to one that was assured that there was true virtue in getting money for nothing. Likewise, the American black community that was for so long denied the opportunity to educate itself, learned that it could now get the degrees without bothering with the education.  Inevitably, America ended up with a black community that, at the thickest part of the bell curve, is averse to expending any effort to make money or learn.  Why bother, after all?  Common sense tells American blacks that money and meaningless degrees will come their way regardless of effort.

The result of post-Civil Rights liberal meddling is 40+ years of learned helplessness in the black community, and the profound sense of inferiority that goes along with that kind of helplessness.  Blacks can talk about “Black pride,” and celebrate Black History month, but the savvy ones know it’s a sham.  Their wings have been clipped.  Pride comes from effort and achievement, not from largesse handed out by guilty white liberals.  (Incidentally, if anyone is getting the wrong idea at about this point, I am not arguing that blacks are inferior.  I believe that blacks are in every respect equal to whites, or any other race.  I am arguing that the legacy of the American Civil Rights movement is a black community that has been trained to be helpless and that therefore views itself as inferior.)

And that’s where The Princess and the Frog comes in.  Early Disney fairy tales assured young girls that if they were very meek and worked hard to serve others, they would succeed.  (Snow White and Cinderella, for example.)  At least one movie emphasized sleep as a useful virtue (that would be Sleeping Beauty).  In recent years, girls have been encouraged to be feisty and to rebel against whatever it is their life happens to be.  (Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, The Little Mermaid and Mulan spring to mind.)

While the more recent movies have a much less passive message than the old ones (and I’m not knocking the old ones; I love them), they still don’t offer much in the way of life advice.  Rebellion, pretty much for the sake of rebellion, is not a useful tool.  This is especially true for the black community, which has locked itself in a victim mentality that routinely sees its members cutting off their noses to spite their faces, just to make the point that the white establishment can boss them around.  The relentless push for ebonics education, a sure way to keep blacks mired in the ghetto and out of the money jobs, is a perfect illustration of this reactive, rather than proactive, tendency.

The Princess and the Frog, however, offers an entirely new message:  Find your talent, pick a goal, and work really, really hard.  Oh, and find support in your family values and your community.  And also . . . don’t rely on other people.  You are responsible for your own success.  If obstacles stand in your way, don’t give up.  Keep going . . . and going . . . and going.

It’s rather embarrassing that this obvious life lesson — find a goal, work hard, and stay focused — had to come from a paternalistic white corporation.  Regardless of the source, however, the lesson is an important one for all people.  And, sadly, it’s an especially important one for youngsters in the black community, all of whom have been told for more than forty years that they way to get ahead is to be first in line at the government hand-out center.

Cross-posted at Right Wing News

A few things I now know about MoveOn

One of Mr. Bookworm’s colleagues asked for my opinion of the “10 Things” list MoveOn.org did attacking John McCain. I fired off an email in response that is not polished (and is a little disorganized), but I think it hits the main points. What do you think?

1. John McCain voted against establishing a national holiday in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Now he says his position has “evolved,” yet he’s continued to oppose key civil rights laws.

As for voting against MLK day, so what? Personal federal holidays had always been about Presidents. This vote involved jettisoning a 150 year tradition to accord a signal honor to someone who was not an elected leader. That MLK was a man greatly to be respected did not make him a President, and there was no good reason to turn precedent on its ears. I wouldn’t have voted for it either, not out of a lack of respect for MLK, but because it was stupid political posturing. That it’s now become a political hot potato is something entirely different.

As for the “key civil rights laws,” that’s a bit disingenuous to say the least. The first law referenced is one to make it easier for employees to sue their employers – it’s a plaintiff’s attorneys rights law. As for affirmative action, I am deeply opposed to affirmative action. I believe that (a) it is un-American to have preferences and racial quotas and that (b) it is harmful to minorities who either end up in institutions that destroy them because they are not prepared for the place or, if they are prepared, their qualities go unrecognized because people assume – and why shouldn’t they? – that they achieved their position only through affirmative action, not merit.

The disproportionate number of minority children in prison might be better addressed, as Bill Cosby and even Barack Obama concede, by examining much of minority culture, which honors thugs, dishonors education, and sees it as selling out to try to achieve through the system.The government can only do so much, and it’s worth noting that, up until Johnson’s Great Society legislation, black crime rates were dropping and black incomes going up. (Keep in mind that this is separate from the horrors of Jim Crow. This is simply examining statistics about blacks. See John McWhorter’s Losing the Race : Self-Sabotage in Black America which, I believe, discusses these statistics.)

Economic dependency and crime accelerated wildly in the 40 years after the government encouraged a welfare system that made black men redundant and, indeed, financially problematic in a family. Most studies show that the single greatest indicator of whether a young man will end up in prison is whether there is a father around. The American government has, for 40 years, ensured that black fathers are unnecessary. I could go on, but you can see that what MoveOn .org considers to be a series of failures, I consider to be virtues.

2. According to Bloomberg News, McCain is more hawkish than Bush on Iraq, Russia and China. Conservative columnist Pat Buchanan says McCain “will make Cheney look like Gandhi.”

Great. Although you won’t read it on the front page (and perhaps it was removed from the front page because the media didn’t want to concede that things are going), things in Iraq are, in fact, going quite well. Al Sadr’s army is in retreat, Al Qaeda is on the ropes, and fully 70% of all Iraqis in the last poll are optimistic – which is a nice change from America’s 20% optimism vote. Perhaps the difference is that we read the NY Times and they do not.

Be that as it may, the bottom line is that, in war, when you have the momentum, you don’t stop. You keep moving forward. Even if one concedes for the sake of argument, that it was wrong to go into Iraq, the fact is that we are now in Iraq. We don’t get a do-over on 2003. All we can do is deal with the here and now, and the here and now is that, when things are going well, you don’t throw up your hands, admit defeat, and leave Iraq to turn into a bloodbath that will make the killing fields look like preschool.

3. His reputation is built on his opposition to torture, but McCain voted against a bill to ban waterboarding, and then applauded President Bush for vetoing that ban.

McCain has a tortured approach to torture. I don’t deny it. However, considering that organizations like MoveOn have been complaining that prisoners in Gitmo are tortured because the guards handle their prayer books without first washing their white gloves, I’m kind of unimpressed by this whole thing. It’s not a deal breaker for me, and I don’t think the MoveOn and Code Pink people have any credibility on the subject. Also, it’s worth noting that the Bush Administration stopped any form of waterboarding or like tactics aeons ago when there was an uproar. By the way, this is torture; Gitmo probably isn’t, as even honest opponents of Bush concede.

4. McCain opposes a woman’s right to choose. He said, “I do not support Roe versus Wade. It should be overturned.”

I’m still pro-choice, but McCain is right that Roe v. Wade is an appalling bit of judicial legerdemain. Had it been better decided, we might have a more coherent abortion rights policy, as well as less heat on the subject. The Constitution does not grant anyone a right to privacy, and there is nothing in the Constitution, one way or another to support federal abortion rights. It’s a state’s rights thing. It’s been a problem for more than 30 years that the Supreme Court made up a new “federal right” out of whole cloth. It’s a reminder that, when you have judges who make it up as they go along, you end up with problems at the end of the day. In any event, given that even if McCain wins he’ll still have a Democratic Congress with which to contend, I wouldn’t worry too much about this one.

5. The Children’s Defense Fund rated McCain as the worst senator in Congress for children. He voted against the children’s health care bill last year, then defended Bush’s veto of the bill.

I don’t like the government controlling access to health care, and this bill was freely acknowledged by its supporters to be a wedge-bill on the way to fully socialized medicine. This was an especially silly bill, because the primary beneficiaries would have been children in middle class homes. Indeed, the poster family that the Dems advanced to support the bill (the Fosters) turned out to be a very, very middle class family that owned two homes, quite expensive cars, and a family business. When things were rosy, and despite having children, the parents had elected to stock up on material things, rather than insurance. Their goal was for you and me to insure them. I don’t think so.

A much better plan would be to knock down people’s taxes so that they would have more money to enter the market and select their preferred insurance. And do keep in mind that there are people who decide to gamble. Young people, for example, who are pretty sure they’ll live forever, or people like that poster family who are hoping against hope that the taxpayers will take care of them.

6. He’s one of the richest people in a Senate filled with millionaires. The Associated Press reports he and his wife own at least eight homes! Yet McCain says the solution to the housing crisis is for people facing foreclosure to get a “second job” and skip their vacations.

So what? He married well. He actually isn’t rich, because he and his wife keep their money separate. He’s medium wealthy. In this, he is distinct from John Kerry (billionaire through his wife); John Edwards (multimillionaire plaintiffs’ attorney), Hillary Clinton (who shares $121 million dollars earned with Bill since their White House years); Al Gore (multimillionaire, money earned going green, which may be a problem as people starve and inflation increases because of biofuels); Nancy Pelosi (multimillionaire); Harry Reid (multimillionaire through fairly dirty land scandals in Nevada); Barack Obama (who got a “gift” from a political supporter of a $300,000 price break on a property adjacent to his own property, massively increasing the value of both); etc.

By the way, all these millionaires and billionaires have ideas about money too. They’re not giving up their own money – they simply want to raise taxes on you. Also, I don’t recall MoveOn being perturbed by Kerry’s billionaire status. I guess it depends who’s piloting that private jet.

I’d also like to point out that a lot of the people who are having trouble now shouldn’t have been borrowing in the first place. The mere fact that you can own nine homes doesn’t mean that you should buy nine homes when you have no money – and then expect people like you and me to bail you out.

7. Many of McCain’s fellow Republican senators say he’s too reckless to be commander in chief. One Republican senator said: “The thought of his being president sends a cold chill down my spine. He’s erratic. He’s hotheaded. He loses his temper and he worries me.”

Sure, he has a temper, but there’s no indication that this leads him to erratic behavior. Also, keep in mind that a lot of Republicans don’t like him because they don’t consider him “pure” enough – an indication that he’s sufficiently moderate to make a lot of regular Americans fairly happy.

8. McCain talks a lot about taking on special interests, but his campaign manager and top advisers are actually lobbyists. The government watchdog group Public Citizen says McCain has 59 lobbyists raising money for his campaign, more than any of the other presidential candidates.

Yeah, it’s politics. It’s not nice, but I really don’t care, when it’s balanced against the other stuff. Obama has a few problems of his own with those close to him.

9. McCain has sought closer ties to the extreme religious right in recent years. The pastor McCain calls his “spiritual guide,” Rod Parsley, believes America’s founding mission is to destroy Islam, which he calls a “false religion.” McCain sought the political support of right-wing preacher John Hagee, who believes Hurricane Katrina was God’s punishment for gay rights and called the Catholic Church “the Antichrist” and a “false cult.”

Okey-dokey. The Parsley thing is smoke and mirrors, tied to a generic “religious guide” speech McCain gave the first time he met Parsley, who introduced him at a meeting filled with various religious people. This dishonest – and it is dishonest – attack is meant to deflect attention from the actual 20 year, very close relationship, Obama had with the problematic Wright.

The same thing holds true for the Hagee thing. Hagee has no close ties to McCain. This is an ordinary political support deal, with a prominent religious leader looking at two presidential candidates and endorsing one over the other.

Specifically with respect to the alleged Catholic slur, Hagee didn’t say what he is accused of saying. Here’s the best statement of what Hagee actually said – and we should care about what Hagee really said, both because it tells a lot about Hagee/McCain and a lot about those who will say a lot of things that are distance relatives of the truth to try to bring McCain down to Obama’s level in terms of religious relationships. By the way, this is not the first time that Dems have sought to misrepresent religious statements in an effort to drive a wedge between Catholics and Protestants. The same thing happened in the Jindal campaign.

10. He positions himself as pro-environment, but he scored a 0—yes, zero—from the League of Conservation Voters last year.

I would love to see us get off oil flowing from fields in lands ruled by tyrants, so I’m not profligate with energy, and wouldn’t mind a useful alternative. As for the rush to green, though, given that the climate is actually in a cooling trend, that biofuels may create more pollution than they solve, and that we’re facing mass starvation, in part because food fields have been given over to biofuels and in part because the lack of alternative fuels, coupled with increased demand, has dramatically raised existing fuel prices, there may be a virtue in McCain’s unwillingness to rush into anything here.

McCain is far from perfect, but these attacks are either baseless, or stupid, or they fall into the “I don’t care” category, or I agree with McCain’s positions. MoveOn should be able to come up with something better than lies and misrepresentations to attack McCain’s character, history and policies.

UPDATE: Thanks to the Webloggin editor for correcting my original erroneous facts about Obama’s profit from the Resko dealings on his property.

What would you do?

I found myself in the car yesterday afternoon listening for perhaps the 30th time to an episode of Avatar being played on the car DVD. I happen to think that Avatar is a rather unusually good kids’ show. Since this was routine car pooling, with the same passel of tired and cranky kids getting shlepped down the same stretch of freeway for the millionth time, I had no problem with stopping the bickering by directing their attention to the small DVD screen hanging from the car’s ceiling. For me, though, never having seen the show, but just having heard it over and over and over again, the whole experience was somewhat mind-numbing.

A numb mind is a wandering mind, and that’s what mine started to do. I started to think about the charges Wright made against America and white Americans — charges that many, many blacks seem to believe are true. The response white America has had to the revelation about these charges is that they are, in fact, not true. That while black Americans might once have been the victims of systemic government discrimination, that is no longer the case. Instead, America is, in fact, a land of opportunity for blacks as well as everyone else. Indeed, everything I’ve since Wright’s attitudes went public has basically said to blacks: “You’re wrong, so get over it.”

My thought experiment went a different way: What if, instead of saying to blacks that their underlying premise is wrong, we instead said that they’re right — That it’s absolutely true that, despite more than 40 years of Johnson’s Great Society, everything they complaint about is true? America does still systematically discriminations against black America, and it is accurate to call it the US of KKK. You — American black citizens — are also right that, more than 40 years after the Civil Rights movement, ordinary Americans are seething with racial hostility to blacks. (Keep in mind that I don’t agree with these statements; this is a thought experiment.)

In this universe, which embraces the belief that the USA is irremediably hostile to blacks and that nothing she has done has operated to their benefit, African Americans nevertheless continue to demand that the American government keep funding and expanding the same programs that the blacks insist have failed. For example, in his race speech, having accepted as true Wright’s complaint that African Americans are still getting the short end of the stick, Obama again demands government intervention:

In the white community, the path to a more perfect union means acknowledging that what ails the African-American community does not just exist in the minds of black people; that the legacy of discrimination — and current incidents of discrimination, while less overt than in the past — are real and must be addressed.

Not just with words, but with deeds — by investing in our schools and our communities; by enforcing our civil rights laws and ensuring fairness in our criminal justice system; by providing this generation with ladders of opportunity that were unavailable for previous generations.

Of course, Obama’s speech does not acknowledge one fact:  Americans have been investing in school and communities, have been enforcing civil rights laws, have been making the criminal justice system more equal, and, through 40 years of quotas, affirmative action, anti-discrimination rules and public education, have been providing generations of black Americans with ladders of opportunity. In other words, for the past 40 years, Americans have been doing the opposite of saying, “Hell, no! We’re not going to pass any laws or do anything that might theoretically benefit African Americans.”

Nevertheless, despite more than 40 years of passing laws that are intended to affect American blacks, the same laws that Obama continues to demand we pass, Wright and other African-Americans have concluded that we’ve failed dismally in all these efforts. No matter what we do, we’re so deeply tainted and racist that nothing changes. I mean, countries rise and fall in 40 years, but we still haven’t been able, as a nation, the fix the black communities’ problems.

Given what black Americans see as America’s pathetic failure to correct the intrinsic problem of anti-black racism, which translates into black failure, what do you think black America should do? As I noted above, the current attitude from the Left now (and that is the side most black Americans embrace) is that black problems are America’s fault, so it is up to America to continue to try to fix them with more government problems. To date, however, by the blacks’ own testimony, America has proven woefully inept at fixing them.

It seems to me that, in the real world, if you give someone responsibility to fix a problem, and they fail repeatedly and overwhelmingly, then you start looking for new solutions. You don’t just say, “Well, I’ll just sit here in a mess of your making and wait for you to figure it out while I suffer.” Wouldn’t it make more sense to say, “You created the mess, but you’re obviously incapable of fixing the mess. I’d better do it myself.” I do not understand why the black community, having weighed us (white America) and found us wanting, continues to demand that we save it. Even conceding that everything wrong with the black community is indeed our fault, it’s become pretty apparent that we (that is, white Americans) are not fixing the problems.  The profound irony, of course, is that the lack of fixes doesn’t affect us very much at all — but it affects black Americans terribly.

If things are as bad as Wright and his fellow travelers say, African Americans should be rejecting the Obama message of more government, rather than embracing it. After all, by their own testimony, the government is a failure. It has not done what it set out to do. African Americans should be demanding an entirely new approach, rather than more of the same. That they’re not making such demands can lead us to a couple of entirely different conclusions. The first is that, when it comes to the subject of government programs and race, African Americans fall within the jocular definition of insanity, which has one doing the same thing over and over, but expecting a different result. The second, alternative conclusion, is that things have, in fact, improved under the government’s aegis, and that African Americans are worried that, if they concede that this is true, white America will say “Great, the job is done,” and then turn off the spigot.

The one thing I can say with absolute certainty is that, if blacks are correct that America has been incapable of correcting the horrors it visited upon them, despite more than 40 years of trying, blacks must start taking care of themselves, rather than waiting another 40 years for us to get it right. What they’re doing right now, with a vengeance, is cutting of their collective noses to spite their collective faces. It may be all our fault, but they’re the ones suffering as they passively wait for us to figure out how to get it right.

But we stood by them in Selma!

My post title imagines what I bet a lot of the older generation of Jewish Americans will think when they learn about the latest campaign tactics from the party that knows how to do identity politics. Steve Cohen, whose name is a giveaway as to his Jewishness, is running for reelection in Tennessee’s 9th District. His opponent is Nikki Tinker, whose name is not a dead giveaway but who is in fact black. An African-American minister who does not reside in the 9th District has decided to become involved in the campaign. Here’s his campaign poster, a copy of which ended up mailed to Cohen himself:

Truly, I don’t think either Hitler or Torquemada or the Mufti of Jerusalem or Father Coughlin could have done any better than that in terms of sheer, old-fashioned appeals to antisemitism as a way to manipulate the masses. It is a disgusting piece of work. More than that, Tinker, who is clearly no belle, isn’t lifting a finger to disassociate herself from this vile garbage:

What does Nikki Tinker think about anti-Semitic literature being circulated that might help her unseat 9th District Congressman Steve Cohen in the Democratic primary next August?

A fair question, which Tinker declined to answer this week after a flier stating that “Steve Cohen and the Jews Hate Jesus” began circulating in Memphis.

The question goes to the character of the woman who wants to represent the 9th District, and 9th District voters deserve an answer. But Tinker declined to return a phone call about the flier.

“Of course we wouldn’t have anything to do with that,” said Tinker spokesman Cornell Belcher, referring to a flier that has been denounced by the Anti-Defamation League.

” … We’d be interested in denouncing this sort of nonsense as well but, again, we haven’t seen it.”

That’s a great excuse, isn’t it? “I can’t comment on antisemitism as a tool in the political race because I haven’t actually touched the piece of paper on which the antisemitic sentiments are written.” Clearly, this is a woman who takes personal responsibility seriously (and that was meant to be snide, not straight).

This same editorial notes that this is not the first time that Cohen’s not-blackness has been used against him, although it is the first time the antisemitic card has been played in this way:

Inciting tension between African-Americans and Cohen was the aim of several members of the Black Baptist Ministerial Association who took Cohen to task last summer for his support of federal hate crimes legislation. The real motive behind the attack was revealed in later comments by at least one of those involved.

“He’s not black,” said Rev. Robert Poindexter of Mt. Moriah Baptist Church, “and he can’t represent me, that’s just the bottom line.”

My first thought when reading this, which is reflected in my post’s title, is that when I was growing up, Jews took very personally the antisemitic sentiments that, I am sorry to say, have long permeated large segments of the African-American community. And they take it very personally for a specific reason, and it’s not because all of us (blacks and Jews alike) are minorities together. It’s because Jews feel that, when blacks began to agitate against Jim Crow, once one got outside of the black Christian communities, it was Jews who took up that banner just about as aggressively as anyone could. Jews threw themselves into the Civil Rights movement and it pains them beyond belief that those whom they view as the beneficiaries of their efforts and sacrifices have turned on them in such an exceptionally nasty way.

Aside from being visible evidence of the black/Jewish schism in American, one that continues to mystify Jews, the flyer also shows the reductio ad absurdem of identity politics. Although we do not live in a theocracy or a race-ocracy, that’s precisely how this Democratic race is being played out. If you’re black, don’t bother your pretty little head with difficult thoughts about Tinker’s politics, beliefs and capabilities, as opposed to Cohen’s. Instead, rest easy and vote for Tinker because she’s black and Christian and against Cohen because he’s white and Jewish.

This type of electioneering tactic is not only disgusting, it’s demeaning to the African-Americans who are the intended recipients of this type of garbage, since it circumvents any appeals to their higher reasoning. It’s also unsurprising and, in that regard, the Captain sums it up about as well as can be said:

Once again, the Democrats find themselves in the position of playing racial, ethnic, and now anti-Semitic politics. We have seen it at the grassroots level now, and at the highest levels of the party, especially from the Clinton campaign. Small wonder that a relatively low-level officeseeker feels comfortable in using these tactics in 2008, given the example Bill Clinton has provided already this year.

We’ve [meaning “conservatives” listened to insults from Democrats for years for far less than this.

What I have to say is that, if you select chickens solely by the color of their feathers, and without regard to their egg-laying capabilities, when those chickens come home to roost, you’re going to end up with a visually impressive coop that produces nothing but chicken poop.