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Archive for January, 2011

 

It would be a radical departure from existing case law to hold that Congress can regulate inactivity under the Commerce Clause. If it has the power to compel an otherwise passive individual into a commercial transaction with a third party merely by asserting — as was done in the Act — that compelling the actual transaction is itself “commercial and economic in nature, and substantially affects interstate commerce” [see Act § 1501(a)(1)], it is not hyperbolizing to suggest that Congress could do almost anything it wanted.

-Judge Roger Vinson in the Florida Obamacare Case.

I think my pants just flew around the room.

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I’ve long maintained that if as a society, we all come to fear words, or shy away from the discomfort they may occasionally cause us, then you can stick a fork in us, because we will be done.  The minute any real exchange of ideas can no longer be met on an honest basis, all that remains is the inevitability of conflict.

The problem is that we have been on the road to exactly this for quite sometime.  While there is something to be said for not going out of your way to be offensive, or to at least not take an “in your face approach” with any and every conversation, there also comes a time when to walk the opposite path, and to always expect it in others, leads to a form of repressive dishonesty, where the consensus is that there is nothing ugly, wrong, or offensive in the world.  In this world, the oppressors drink their tea with their pinkies out and carry on with muted, unflinchingly polite conversations not because it is appropriate for the surroundings, but because it is all they wish to see.  This dichotomy is perhaps best viewed through the lens of the 1950s.  Ozzie and Harriet, Wally and the Beav…it could get very easy for a shallow swimmer to believe that these were halcyon days.   But there was a lot underneath that tranquil, ordered surface that would surely disrupt the digestion of Hugh Beaumont and Babs Billingsly, from a population that had started the process of desegregation in the military, which helped the promise of freedom to blossom, and then wither, as the liberators brought new dependency, trading an enslavement of the body for one of the soul.  These forces also brought a push against social norms that was spread from person to person through the invocation of freedom, but only lead to bitter harvests of broken homes, lives lost to chemical dependency, and the destruction of families.  I think that a failure to honestly confront the “scarier” aspects of the world laid the groundwork for the revolutionary changes that came in the decades after after.

Not everyone stuck their head in the sand though.  A few people were brash and uncompromising in the face of a monolithic conformity, the avenue they took was that of comedy.  People like Lenny Bruce, Richard Pryor, and George Carlin challenged it by deliberately being offensive, both by saying “those words“, and by poking at many of society’s conventions.  Carlin moved beyond it to attack the use of euphemisms that the early stirrings of political correctness started to impose upon society in the late 70s, because of the fear of “offending” other people.

Unfortunately, political correctness marched on, and managed to foster the movement not to offend until, at some point, it morphed into a right not to be offended, which is a useful tool whenever you don’t want to have an honest conversation, and you don’t want others to either.  Sadly, we also had a corresponding change in the very philosophy of learning at the same time.  Modernism, which was flawed largely because of it starting its analyses in the wrong place gave way to post-modernism, which is distinctive because of its refusal of the notion of truth (except for the truth that there is no truth).  When the two came together, and the very notion that there is truth (at least outside of scientific theories which are to be unquestionably accepted as truth) became offensive, and something to be avoided in order to not be complicit in the act of telling or repeating the truth. To do so is to risk becoming a pariah, or worse, as the reaction to the Tucson shootings confirms.

Now it is dangerous to even be associated with (or standing next to) someone who utters something that smacks of the truth.  It is one thing for everyone to look in each other’s eyes and think “I know.  But we can’t say it.” and quite another to let it slip in polite company, because of what observers might think.  Now, it is required to step away from the speaker and say “They said it.  Not me.”, and then to walk away, and turn your back on the criminal who committed the last great crime.

This last week, I saw someone push against this tendency.  Someone I respect a lot, and who has been the older brother I never had.  I’ve been fortunate to call him friend, and I hope to do it for many more years.  I was shocked, and disappointed with what happened, but I’ve come to realize that he knew exactly what he was doing, and expected it.  It was his departure from a world that he helped bring me into, and that I still find to be informative, entertaining, and even cathartic.  It completed an exit that started a few months ago, and while I think I will still see him in comments, the starts to the conversation are gone. 

Understanding this helped me to understand what happened and to reform my expectations going forward.  Without a change, the window of what does not offend can only grow smaller and smaller.  At some point, all but the most milquetoast and vanilla of us in the medium can expect to learn that we occupy the space on the bubble of what can be tolerated, until the next contraction, where we find ourselves on the outside looking in.  The only question that remains is one personal to each of us: Do I change my speech, and with them, eventually my thoughts, in order to conform to a world where casual truths become offensive, and finding anything to say that doesn’t cross the listener’s/reader’s line becomes a Herculean effort, or do I remain who I am, and damn the delicate sensibilities of others?”

In retrospect, it was one Hell of a flame-out, sir.  And I apologize for not getting it sooner.

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In today’s world, it is easy to feel as if there is no time for any reflection…we live in two-earner households, with children and appointments and activities, and twenty-four hour news cycles, where you move from one thing to the next and fall into bed at 11 pm and wonder where your day went.  And every now and then, things come together just right, and you are surprised by the majesty of simple things.

This has not been a fun week.  Among other things, it has been a very busy week at work, I wasn’t able to do a weekly activity that helps keep me centered, and the stress and fatigue are screwing with my body in ways that aren’t good.  But on the other hand, I got a new CD from my favoritist band in the whole wide world, and I am once again reminded why they have been doing this since I was in High School.

I also have had some not subtle reminders of how lucky I am to live here, where any time, beauty is likely to break out unannounced and take your breath away, even when you think you’re too cool or too jaded to be impressed by the work of creation.  Twice this week, I have had sunrise views of Mt. Rainer, often framed by low clouds, that make even the hardened natives here fall silent and gape in awe.  And three times, I’ve had sunsets that looked like God couldn’t decide if he wanted pink, magenta, or purple on the horizon behind the trees, and the strains of new music turned up to 11 left me speechless.

Some times its just nice to clear you head of the noise and just be.  That, more than anything else is a perspective check that redirects your focus.

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Question.

Am I the only one who doesn’t feel right calling it a terrorist bombing when no group has taken credit for this?

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6 My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.
      Because you have rejected knowledge,
      I also will reject you from being priest for Me;
      Because you have forgotten the law of your God,
      I also will forget your children.

Hosea 4:6

“I am committed to protecting this constitutional right,” Mr. Obama said in a statement. “I also remain committed to policies, initiatives, and programs that help prevent unintended pregnancies, support pregnant women and mothers, encourage healthy relationships, and promote adoption.”

Yes, and it is the rabid and indefensible defense of the right to commit murder under the cloak of “privacy” that allows practices like this to go unchallenged for far too long:

“A doctor who cuts into the necks severing the spinal cords of living, breathing babies, who would survive with proper medical attention, is committing murder under the law,” he said.

Women who came to the clinic were given medication to induce delivery, and the viable babies were killed by Gosnell and his associates, Williams said.

He said Gosnell’s clients, many of whom were poor, were charged $325 for a first-trimester abortion and between $1,625 and $3,000 for an illegal abortion after 24 weeks.

Gosnell also faces a charge of third-degree murder, stemming from the death of a mother who died from an overdose of anesthetics, he said.

The charges follow a year-long investigation by a grand jury, whose report was unveiled on Wednesday.

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So the President issued another Executive Order this week, supposedly taking aim (yes, dammit, I DID use that word on purpose!) at “stupid, redundant, and outdated” regulations.  The business community hailed this endeavor with laudatory praise.  However, as is the case with so much that the President says, what he does paints a slightly different picture.  The order, which supposedly echos what Billy Jeff did back in 1993 has some “interesting language” in it.  Some highlights are in bold below:

  (b)  This order is supplemental to and reaffirms the principles, structures, and definitions governing contemporary regulatory review that were established in Executive Order 12866 of September 30, 1993.  As stated in that Executive Order and to the extent permitted by law, each agency must, among other things:  (1) propose or adopt a regulation only upon a reasoned determination that its benefits justify its costs (recognizing that some benefits and costs are difficult to quantify); (2) tailor its regulations to impose the least burden on society, consistent with obtaining regulatory objectives, taking into account, among other things, and to the extent practicable, the costs of cumulative regulations; (3) select, in choosing among alternative regulatory approaches, those approaches that maximize net benefits (including potential economic, environmental, public health and safety, and other advantages; distributive impacts; and equity); (4) to the extent feasible, specify performance objectives, rather than specifying the behavior or manner of compliance that regulated entities must adopt; and (5) identify and assess available alternatives to direct regulation, including providing economic incentives to encourage the desired behavior, such as user fees or marketable permits, or providing information upon which choices can be made by the public.

    (c)  In applying these principles, each agency is directed to use the best available techniques to quantify anticipated present and future benefits and costs as accurately as possible.  Where appropriate and permitted by law, each agency may consider (and discuss qualitatively) values that are difficult or impossible to quantify, including equity, human dignity, fairness, and distributive impacts.

The problem is that once you start injecting goals such as “distributive impacts”,”fairness” and “equity” to people who are accountable to no one, you have removed any concept of regulations, which have the force of law, being applied uniformly.  You can officially waive any notion of equal treatment under the law when those charged with administering it have been given carte blanche to practice and apply disparate treatment to similarly positioned individuals if it meets a subjective criteria regarding those categories.  Not to mention the fact that “equity” is not in the purview of administrators; it is the purview of the judiciary, something that the Constitution is VERY clear about.

The judicial Power shall extend to all Cases, in Law and Equity, arising under this Constitution, the Laws of the United States, and Treaties made, or which shall be made, under their Authority; — to all Cases affecting Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls; — to all Cases of admiralty and maritime Jurisdiction; — to Controversies to which the United States shall be a Party; — to Controversies between two or more States; — between a State and Citizens of another State [Modified by Amendment XI]; — between Citizens of different States; — between Citizens of the same State claiming Lands under Grants of different States, and between a State, or the Citizens thereof, and foreign States, Citizens or Subjects.

Article III, Section 2, United States Constitution.

This is authority that agencies were NEVER meant to have, and it was authority that was NEVER his to give.  It seems that once again, this “Constitutional Scholar” once again shows what he doesn’t know, or maybe what he hopes that we don’t know.  Either way, it certainly seems to be an attempt to bypass legitimate Constitutional authority, like maybe a House of Representatives which is no longer in the bag for his agenda.

The coincidences become too much to ignore.

http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2011/01/18/improving-regulation-and-regulatory-review-executive-order

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This week, in the wake of a shooting spree of a madman, which could not have been inspired by the “vitriolic rhetoric” of any mainstream political philosophy, the people were prevented from absorbing the full impact of events by the Left’s sad, yet predictable rush to blame it on people who had absolutely NOTHING to do with it.  What a difference a year makes.  This year, those who often presume their own “enlightenment” tripped over themselves in their rush to judgment, making specific public figures upon whom they have focused their own vitriol for years somehow responsible for the shootings in Tucson, and also took the opportunity to also make a large number of Americans (aka “the Tea Party”) unindicted co-conspirators as well.  Unfortunately, this rush to judgment, which was completely unacceptable and impermissible when a far more tragic shooting spree committed by an acolyte of the “religion of peace” [the one constantly connected to kidnappings, suicide bombings, beheadings of westerners, and an inordinate amount of rapes and riots in western european countries] ran up a much higher butcher’s bill at Ft. Hood a year ago, was not only tacitly accepted among the same people who last year preached caution and “waiting until we had the facts” as reasonable, but also taking for granted that their breathless declarations were indeed correct. 

But a funny thing happened on the way to the effigy burning.  The narrative didn’t take.

Perhaps it was the fact that many average Americans didn’t appreciate being told by coastal elites and various political operatives that they were so stupid that they were incapable of discerning between the images evoked in political speech, and reality.  Maybe they rejected the notion that the use of descriptive metaphors incited them to violence when being lied to and stolen from did not.  Maybe it was because as the facts came out, it became apparent that this troubled young man was just a troubled young man, and that there was no connection at all between his decision to shoot a Congresswoman who he had been obsessed with for years and the “hateful rhetoric” we were being told motivated this horrific act.  Maybe it was all of these things.

Regardless of the cause, many of these outlets and individuals grudgingly were forced to admit that the speech they were so quick to decry in others had nothing to do with the events last Saturday, while taking the position that it still could next time, which is why these dangerous people must be stopped.  However, this bit of frantic and hypocritical wishcasting still wasn’t gaining traction with the public as a whole.  Perhaps this is because the public has actually been paying attention for the last few years, and they weren’t as receptive to the idea that only one side of the political spectrum was guilty of such “crimes” as they might have been ten years ago.  Perhaps it is because they don’t like being bullied.  But by the time the President was finally able to put together his pep rally campaign event memorial service (Now complete with cheering, catcalls, and free T-Shirts!!!), he had his opportunity to gauge the public’s mood, and he could tailor his remarks to a “teachable moment” that elevated him above the fray that he himself has eagerly engaged in in the not so distant past:

The loss of these wonderful people should make every one of us strive to be better in our private lives – to be better friends and neighbors, co-workers and parents. And if, as has been discussed in recent days, their deaths help usher in more civility in our public discourse, let’s remember that it is not because a simple lack of civility caused this tragedy [-- it did not --] but rather because only a more civil and honest public discourse can help us face up to our challenges as a nation, in a way that would make them proud. It should be because we want to live up to the example of public servants like John Roll and Gabby Giffords, who knew first and foremost that we are all Americans, and that we can question each other’s ideas without questioning each other’s love of country, and that our task, working together, is to constantly widen the circle of our concern so that we bequeath the American dream to future generations.

Judging from the response to the speech, this move pleased some, but it strikes me more as a fatigue on the subject than it does the result of careful reflection.  As for myself, I take this as the latest installment of their typical game of “SHUT UP!” when met with opposition to their ideas, goals, and plans.  If the President really meant what he said, then even more than naming names, which he did not do (and which would not have been appropriate for a memorial), he could, for the first time in his political career, lead by example.  His own record on “civility” and “working together” is woefully inadequate, which is why I found his renewed call for civility self-serving and unconvincing.

This is not the first time we heard the call for civility from the President.

While running for office, Candidate Obama paid lipservice to the concept of civility, something completely forgotten when he got his opportunity to “rule”.  He again raised this call when it suited his goals of the moment.  As if we could forget such moments of “civility” like

That’s not someone who wants to “work together”.  That’s not someone interested in “Civility”.  That’s someone who will engage in lies, half-truths, and distortions to gain a political advantage.  And his supporters?  They actually do worse.

There is so very much more.  Some excellent examples of the Left’s “Civility” are found here.

It isn’t that the Left has expended so much energy and money being extraordinarily uncivil with people who don’t agree with their ideas and policies, and who don’t meet with their approval.  These things have definitely come to pass, but being an attorney, who goes to court often enough to understand how to characterize opponents, debate, and the “narrative”, it doesn’t bother me.  What bothers me is the shameless…yes I mean shameless attempt to impose a self-censorship that they cannot attain by other means, while at the same time, their own calls come on the heels of their manifestation of their own unwillingness to be “civil” and “work together”.

Let me be clear.  I don’t like what you advocate for the country.  As a student of law and history, I find your goals and agenda items diametrically opposed to the freedoms that our Founders recognized and that the Framers guaranteed.  I am repulsed by your constant drive to respond to every perceived problem with more government.  I am sickened by your constant willingness to divest the individual of any responsibility, and your apparent shock when the corresponding benefits are squandered and misused.  I resent the persistent demonization of those who take risks, because they want to reap the rewards, or because that is simply part of their nature, as someone who takes advantage of and steals from his brother.  I despise your willingness to institutionalize indolence, and build rolls and rolls of dependents and wards of the state, who can be reliably counted on to deliver votes and keep you in power.  I find it despicable that you have invaded the field of public education and have not only robbed entire generations of Americans of their own history, but have inculcated them with the belief that they must be ashamed of the drips and drabs that you reveal to them through the cracked and warped lenses of your own misbegotten perceptions.  Your efforts have been damaging to the greatest engine of innovation and scientific advancement in the last three centuries, and I condemn you for your pernicious attempts to snuff out the single brightest light of mankind’s freedom that the world has ever known.

I can’t “work together” with you, because we have very different beliefs and ideas about the future of this country.  You want a nation that is no different from any other.  One where the government is not just in my toilet bowl and my light sockets, but in determining my paycheck, and what part of my labor that I get to keep for myself.  In what I power my vehicle with, and what vehicle it is.  In the brightness of the light in my dining room and bathroom.  In how I choose to defend my family and what I eat.  In what I and others say.  In what I read, and what I listen to and watch on television, and ultimately, what I think.

I want none of these things.  I want the freedoms that our forebears wanted for us.  I want the right to earn as much money as I feel like working for.  I want the right to hire the right person for the job, not be forced to meet a nebulous and undefinable “diversity” criteria.  I want the right to drive a Gaia-raping pavement predator, and fill the tank with the oil squeezed from the pelts of baby seals if that is what delivers the best performance for my money.  I want a world where people have not just read the Constitution, the Federalist Papers and the Anti-Federalist Papers, but understand them.  I want to live in a society that is not wedded to the idea that every society that is different is automatically equal to our own.  I want to live in a society that celebrates its achievements instead of glossing them over and dwelling on our failures.  I want to live in a society where I am free to waste what belongs to me in whatever fashion I wish, be it opening the windows and doors and turning up the heat in the winter, or having a double cheese and meat pizza after a quadruple bypass without my government, which exists to guarantee and defend my freedoms, tell me that I can’t, because it has that has assumed that power over me.

In such a situation, where the ideological lines are so clearly drawn, the “civility” that you get is it the civility you give.  Your civility, for decades, has to been to tell us that we are stupid.  To mock those who speak for our views.  To paint anyone who believes as we do as being stupid, ignorant, and hateful.  You have poured scorn, derision, and condescension upon us with the obliviousness of those who never gave a thought to what they were doing.  Any attempt at a dialogue which doesn’t require those on our side to start with a premise that you are correct on any of these characterizations has been met with a vehement “Shut Up!”, and now, after days of engaging in savage slander and blood libel, now you wring your hands, and speak softly of civility, either as again, trying to control the speech of others, or in hopes of being treated with greater restraint than you and yours showed me and mine since Saturday morning? 

Go to Hell.

Your orgy of hate and blame that started before the bodies even hit the floor of that Tucson Safeway last Saturday revealed everything important to any who still had doubts about who you really are.  And I’ll be damned if I’ll be silent and polite about the people who I think are the real danger to America.  Especially after they pantsed themselves in front of the country last week.

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