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Archive for the ‘propaganda as "entertainment"’ Category

Sadly, subtlety is a lost art among the privileged denizens of Hollywood.

This means that as a result, sometimes when we seek entertainment, even when we know we might not agree with the message, we are instead disappointed with wasted potential, and bloodied by a point of view that you cannot begin to seriously consider because of the over-the-top delivery so weighed down in cynicism that you cannot even begin to believe that the messenger believes it.

And its a shame, because I wanted to like this movie.  I really, really did.

The movie follows Brand Hauser, played by John Cusack, who is a character not unlike Martin Blank of Grosse Pointe Blank.  Like Blank, he was trained by the government to be a killer and to eliminate problems.  And like Blank, he left government service, but unlike Blank, he went to work for a huge multinational corporation, headed by a former US Vice President, played by Dan Akroyd. 

The film opens with a brutal and blatant hit inside a bar in Iqualit.  It is clear that Hauser is starting to feel the weight of his demons as he struggles to suppress his emotions about what he does for a living.  Before long, he is discussing it with the disembodied voice that comes from the on-star-like device in all of the corporate vehicles he uses.  

Hauser’s next gig is “producing” the corporation’s trade show in the capital of Turaqistan so he can get close to and kill Omar Shariff, the country’s President, who is trying to build an oil pipeline through his own country without the “help” of the ubiquitous corporation.  On this journey, we are treated to flashbacks which slowly unfold the story of how the hot sauce guzzling hitman came to work for this corporation and walk through life seemingly oblivious to the ridiculous circumstances that surround him.

His mission gets bogged down, despite the best efforts of his right hand (wo)man, Melissa Dillon, played by Joan Cusack.  He soon finds himself distracted by a comely leftist reporter, played by Marissa Tomei, and a middle-eastern pop-starlet played by Hillary Duff, both of whom start to turn Hauser around to face his many demons head on.  Yes, you’re right to think that this sounds very similar to Grosse Pointe Blank.  But frankly, it is nowhere near as good.

The problem is that WAR INC is so wrapped up in shrieking paranoia about the “military-industrial complex”, that it pushes the storytelling aside so that it can preach to you, and it doesn’t even succeed at that, because the story itself is so very unbelievable.  The movie succeeds when Cusack and the other scriptwriters let the characters be human.  One resonant moment was when Hauser finally lures his target to a hotel room, thinking he will get a chance to bed the beautiful reporter, but finds himself on the wrong end of Hauser’s gun and takes a moment to wax poetic about the situation.

Ah Hauser, love does get one into difficult situations.  We’re in a constant state of war, Hauser. We kill our brothers, complete strangers, the guilty and the innocent. We are at war with our own hearts. Love is a cease-fire that’s destined to fail. But, as I said, it does get us into tricky situations… sometimes the back of a garbage truck.

This movie has some genuinely funny and touching scenes, and some of the clever dialogue that you might expect from Cusack playing a hitman.  But it falls short of being anywhere near as good because where Blank walked away and reclaimed his soul, Hauser became human again, and did nothing with it.  There was no redemption and the characters were all callously thrown away after the sermon was completed.   Every bit of the story was too outrageous to be believable, whereas anyone who grew up in the 80s and felt alienated could identify with Martin Blank. 

WAR INC is what happens when people who act for a living want to become political moralists.  If you want to see an enteraining film about a hitman, put Grosse Pointe Blank in your DVD player, and spare yourself the wasting of approximately 2 hours.

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My friend Rutherford’s latest post crows on and on about the skewing of the Constitution and original intent by the evil/stupid Tea Party and the members of Congress they elected and their coming epiphany brought on by opening of the 112th Congress with a reading of the Constitution. 

 His criticisms/snark were rooted in an interview given by Yale Political Science and Constitutional professor Akhil Reed Amar by noted tool and distorter Keith Olbermann.  I’m going to link the interview, only because I want readers to understand what Professor Amar actually said, and not what Rutherford simplistically paraphrased. I’d also like to have it clearly understood what I am talking about when I call little Keefie out on some particularly bold hypocrisy…or at least it would be bold hypocrisy if I honestly thought he knew he messed it up.   I doubt very much that he has ever read the Federalist Papers or the Anti-Federalist Papers.  I can’t imagine anyone capable of doing so having the patience to help him grok some of the fairly nuanced points, and if left to his own devices, he would likely sprain,if not break his lips while struggling with the big words. 

 While it isn’t an accident that he used the word that he did, I think the choice of word enhances the misunderstanding that he advocates in favor of.  Anyway, here is the link to the video.  Don’t sweat it.  Its seven minutes, but for purposes of this post, it is actually seven minutes that matter.

Ready?  Good.

I’ll start with a little skewing that Keef does on his own.  For someone who delights in droning on about how it is important to understand words, and criticising others for inserting words that aren’t there, he starts out with a little use of a word that wasn’t used at the beginning of the clip when he talked about the Framers writing in legislative powers “both vague and specific”.  The problem is that the enumerated powers are not “vague and specific”, nor did the authors of the Federalist Papers that his expert cites, or their opponents the Anti-Federalists, consider them to be or refer to them as powers “both vague and specific”.  Instead, they referred to these powers as “general”, and it makes a difference. 

 A statute is general when it operates uniformly on all persons and things of a class and such classification is natural, reasonable, and appropriate to the purpose sought to be accomplished.  A law that is vague is indefinite, uncertain, and not susceptible to being understood.  Laws are overturned for being vague.  Still, I expect no better than that from a Cornell AG school grad.  That’s why he has a TV show watched faithfully by tens and not a real job.

But, moving on, the professor first talks about the founders being the liberal nationalists of their day, and being true revolutionaries, implying a link to, and then declaring that they were the liberal democrats of their era because they were revolutionaries.  This is the mix of the truth and a lie that is more pernicious than an outright lie. 

It is true that they were revolutionaries.  Never before had a western nation been formed without the auspices of a King.  Never before had a nation existed that put so much stock in the rights of an individual and the citizen’s right to overthrow a government that reached so far as to usurp authority over those rights to the degree of rendering them moot.  However, to say that they were the liberal democrats of their day is falsely self congratulatory, and not borne out by the facts of what they held dear, and what they valued, which was demonstrated in how they lived.

A liberal democrat is characterized by a secular humanist worldview, even when they don’t know what that means. This outlook embraces the ideal that man is the only possible source for his own salvation (“We ARE  the ones we’re looking for.”) and generally regards the world through a philosophy that says that there is no problem that government shouldn’t be the solution to.  That is how we have gotten to the point of special welfare (assistance in the form of benefits and entitlements for some, paid for by others, and distributed and administered by government), and the idea that it is actually “general welfare”.  It is also how we have gotten to the point where the federal government has gained dominion over our light sockets and toilet tanks. They can also often be found so supportive of the right of free exercise of Christianity (which is, in fact a religion, and therefore subject to Constitutional protection) that they threaten and actually engage in litigation to prevent it in public fora in defense of the recently discovered Constitutional rights of non-believers to not be “offended” by such displays.

In contrast, a majority of the founders were not just religious people, but Christians, a fact demonstrated by the reasons for migration to the continent itself, especially in New England, and the fact that many states had officially recognized  and endorsed certain sects of Christianity, even after the passage and ratification of the First Amendment, and the calling on the God of Christianity in official government meetings and procedures, such as the Constitutional Convention itself, where the document was debated and took form, to the official proclamations of Thanksgiving and Presidential Inauguration Speeches.  They also would have been horrified at the idea of a Federal government having anything at all to do with basic education, or the idea of forfeiture of private property for a “common economic good”.  They valued individual freedom, and at the same time adhered to a religiously-informed moral codification of law based on the perceived benefits to society, rather than seeking the creation of new rights without serious thought being given to whether it conferred any benefit to society at all.

This back patting continued through a cursory review of all the amendments being the work of these liberal democrat-like figures throughout our history.  This presumably includes the noble 18th Amendment, which of course took liberties away from Americans, which is something that liberal democrats like to do, like when they decided to take away their right NOT to buy health care, or the right to buy their kids Happy Meals with toys in them.  But those are individual rights that really don’t matter, right?  After all, those “revolutionary liberal democrat-like” founders would be all in favor of an intrusive government and the policies of “nudge”, right?  Let’s ask Thomas Jefferson:

 “I know of no safe depository of the ultimate powers of the society but the people themselves; and if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with a wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them, but inform their discretion.”

Oh, snap.

The professor moves on to point out that (surprise!) the Framers had actually intended for the federal government to be able to levy taxes, because the Constitution mentions it FOUR TIMES!!!!! ZOMG!!!!!11!  He and Keith had a good chuckle about that, because those silly Tea Partiers don’t believe that the government has that right, which is all well and good, except I wasn’t aware of this being a “mainstream” Tea Party point.  I thought the point of Taxed Enough Already wasn’t that the Federal government didn’t have the power to tax, but instead that they believed that the taxes paid were exorbitant, especially in light of the fact that Federal taxation is only a piece of the taxation puzzle for Americans, who also frequently pay taxes to states and municipalities as well, in the form of income taxes, sales taxes, property taxes, business taxes, personal and real property taxes, gasoline taxes, real estate transfer taxes, workman’s compensation taxes, 911 taxes, library taxes, ect.   This was something foreseen by those eeeeeeevvvviiilll Anti-Federalists, by the way, as presented by “Brutus” in paper VI:

The general government is to be vested with authority to levy and collect taxes, duties, and excises; the separate states have also power to impose taxes, duties, and excises, except that they cannot lay duties on exports and imports without the consent of Congress. Here then the two governments have concurrent jurisdiction; both may lay impositions of this kind. But then the general government have supperadded to this power, authority to make all laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying the foregoing power into execution. Suppose then that both governments should lay taxes, duties, and excises, and it should fall so heavy on the people that they would be unable, or be so burdensome that they would refuse to pay them both — would it not be necessary that the general legislature should suspend the collection of the state tax? It certainly would. For, if the people could not, or would not pay both, they must be discharged from the tax to the state, or the tax to the general government could not be collected. — The conclusion therefore is inevitable, that the respective state governments will not have the power to raise one shilling in any way, but by the permission of the Congress. I presume no one will pretend, that the states can exercise legislative authority, or administer justice among their citizens for any length of time, without being able to raise a sufficiency to pay those who administer their governments.

Now I will admit that the Federal government does not exert direct control over the ability of individual states to tax…yet.  But it does have a say in the spending priorities of the states because of the way that it distributes money…often with strings that require the establishment and maintenance of various programs, which restricts the ability of individual states to independently choose their spending priorities at times when their budgets are hurt by falling tax revenues due to bad economies or high tax rates, or both.  This is actually far more insidious because it is one more usurpation of the authority of the individual states.  This problem also took an unforeseen turn because of the fact that bulk of federal taxes are raised by permanent taxes on income, which was not contemplated by the taxing language to which Amar refers, as it specifically names duties, imposts, and excises.  Income taxes were infrequent and temporary measures,  most often enacted to pay for wars, and legislated back out of existence when those wars were complete.  It was only with a government lead by a progressive man with a progressive agenda, and a government that grew at the cost of freedom from intrusion, that we were given the gift of a permanent income tax, enacted to afflict “just the wealthy”, but somehow needing to grow beyond that restriction in a very short period of time.

Keef then guided Professor Amar into a discussion of the Necessary and Proper Clause as a rebuttal to those wacky Tea Party members who see the enumerated powers as being a strict concept.  Keef’s derision focused on the lack of word “expressly” in the 10th Amendment and Madison’s fight to keep it out of the 10th Amendment.  This is where the concept of nuance, which liberal democrats use to support facetious assertions, actually makes a difference.  Because Keef referred to the enumerated powers being “both vague and specific”, rather than “general and specific”, he is more likely to interpret the Necessary and Proper clause as giving government the authority to do what ever it deems necessary to give effect to powers it divines from the general powers set forth in Article I, Section 8, because, as he states, they are “vague”.  Professor Amar made specific reference to Hamilton’s exposition on the Necessary and Proper clause in the Federalist 33 and Madison’s explanation in the Federalist 44.  But let’s look at all of what they said in these papers, because while certain members of Congress have subscribed to the view that government can do whatever it wants, as some of the Anti-Federalists feared, Hamilton and Madison didn’t see it that way, or at least presented a very different interpretation into their work.  First, Hamilton and the Federalist 33:

What is a power, but the ability or faculty of doing a thing? What is the ability to do a thing, but the power of employing the MEANS necessary to its execution? What is a LEGISLATIVE power, but a power of making LAWS? What are the MEANS to execute a LEGISLATIVE power but LAWS? What is the power of laying and collecting taxes, but a LEGISLATIVE POWER, or a power of MAKING LAWS, to lay and collect taxes? What are the proper means of executing such a power, but NECESSARY and PROPER laws?

This simple train of inquiry furnishes us at once with a test by which to judge of the true nature of the clause complained of. It conducts us to this palpable truth, that a power to lay and collect taxes must be a power to pass all laws NECESSARY and PROPER for the execution of that power; and what does the unfortunate and culminated provision in question do more than declare the same truth, to wit, that the national legislature, to whom the power of laying and collecting taxes had been previously given, might, in the execution of that power, pass all laws NECESSARY and PROPER to carry it into effect? I have applied these observations thus particularly to the power of taxation, because it is the immediate subject under consideration, and because it is the most important of the authorities proposed to be conferred upon the Union. But the same process will lead to the same result, in relation to all other powers declared in the Constitution. And it is EXPRESSLY to execute these powers that the sweeping clause, as it has been affectedly called, authorizes the national legislature to pass all NECESSARY and PROPER laws. If there is any thing exceptionable, it must be sought for in the specific powers upon which this general declaration is predicated. The declaration itself, though it may be chargeable with tautology or redundancy, is at least perfectly harmless.

So far, so good.  You’d have to be able to devise a tax and a means to levy it to establish post offices, to raise and support armies, to provide and maintain a navy…yes these are general powers, as they do not dictate the means by which the government is to do so.   Hamilton went on to characterize the concern that raised the question over the clause in the first place, and to assert his belief that those wily states would somehow choke the life from the Federal Government, rather than the other way around:

But SUSPICION may ask, Why then was it introduced? The answer is, that it could only have been done for greater caution, and to guard against all cavilling refinements in those who might hereafter feel a disposition to curtail and evade the legitimate authorities of the Union. The Convention probably foresaw, what it has been a principal aim of these papers to inculcate, that the danger which most threatens our political welfare is that the State governments will finally sap the foundations of the Union; and might therefore think it necessary, in so cardinal a point, to leave nothing to construction. Whatever may have been the inducement to it, the wisdom of the precaution is evident from the cry which has been raised against it; as that very cry betrays a disposition to question the great and essential truth which it is manifestly the object of that provision to declare.

Hamilton then recognized the final authority in any matter undertaken by the government as the ultimate limitation on the exercise of this power:

But it may be again asked, Who is to judge of the NECESSITY and PROPRIETY of the laws to be passed for executing the powers of the Union? I answer, first, that this question arises as well and as fully upon the simple grant of those powers as upon the declaratory clause; and I answer, in the second place, that the national government, like every other, must judge, in the first instance, of the proper exercise of its powers, and its constituents in the last. If the federal government should overpass the just bounds of its authority and make a tyrannical use of its powers, the people, whose creature it is, must appeal to the standard they have formed, and take such measures to redress the injury done to the Constitution as the exigency may suggest and prudence justify.[Emphasis Added]

Which is a far cry from elected officials who go to town meetings and tell righteously pissed constituents that they do not know what they are talking about, that they don’t understand, that government can do almost anything in this county, or they don’t care about the Constitution.

So what did Madison have to say in the Federalist 44?

The SIXTH and last class consists of the several powers and provisions by which efficacy is given to all the rest. 1. Of these the first is, the “power to make all laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into execution the foregoing powers, and all other powers vested by this Constitution in the government of the United States, or in any department or officer thereof. “Few parts of the Constitution have been assailed with more intemperance than this; yet on a fair investigation of it, no part can appear more completely invulnerable. Without the SUBSTANCE of this power, the whole Constitution would be a dead letter. Those who object to the article, therefore, as a part of the Constitution, can only mean that the FORM of the provision is improper. But have they considered whether a better form could have been substituted? There are four other possible methods which the Constitution might have taken on this subject. They might have copied the second article of the existing Confederation, which would have prohibited the exercise of any power not EXPRESSLY delegated; they might have attempted a positive enumeration of the powers comprehended under the general terms “necessary and proper”; they might have attempted a negative enumeration of them, by specifying the powers excepted from the general definition; they might have been altogether silent on the subject, leaving these necessary and proper powers to construction and inference. Had the convention taken the first method of adopting the second article of Confederation, it is evident that the new Congress would be continually exposed, as their predecessors have been, to the alternative of construing the term “EXPRESSLY” with so much rigor, as to disarm the government of all real authority whatever, or with so much latitude as to destroy altogether the force of the restriction.

So far, so good.

It would be easy to show, if it were necessary, that no important power, delegated by the articles of Confederation, has been or can be executed by Congress, without recurring more or less to the doctrine of CONSTRUCTION or IMPLICATION. As the powers delegated under the new system are more extensive, the government which is to administer it would find itself still more distressed with the alternative of betraying the public interests by doing nothing, or of violating the Constitution by exercising powers indispensably necessary and proper, but, at the same time, not EXPRESSLY granted. Had the convention attempted a positive enumeration of the powers necessary and proper for carrying their other powers into effect, the attempt would have involved a complete digest of laws on every subject to which the Constitution relates; accommodated too, not only to the existing state of things, but to all the possible changes which futurity may produce; for in every new application of a general power, the PARTICULAR POWERS, which are the means of attaining the OBJECT of the general power, must always necessarily vary with that object, and be often properly varied whilst the object remains the same.

This is a weak argument to anyone who has ever seen a complete set of the United States Code in print, or the Code of Federal Regulations in print.

Had they attempted to enumerate the particular powers or means not necessary or proper for carrying the general powers into execution, the task would have been no less chimerical; and would have been liable to this further objection, that every defect in the enumeration would have been equivalent to a positive grant of authority. If, to avoid this consequence, they had attempted a partial enumeration of the exceptions, and described the residue by the general terms, NOT NECESSARY OR PROPER, it must have happened that the enumeration would comprehend a few of the excepted powers only; that these would be such as would be least likely to be assumed or tolerated, because the enumeration would of course select such as would be least necessary or proper; and that the unnecessary and improper powers included in the residuum, would be less forcibly excepted, than if no partial enumeration had been made. Had the Constitution been silent on this head, there can be no doubt that all the particular powers requisite as means of executing the general powers would have resulted to the government, by unavoidable implication. No axiom is more clearly established in law, or in reason, than that wherever the end is required, the means are authorized; wherever a general power to do a thing is given, every particular power necessary for doing it is included. Had this last method, therefore, been pursued by the convention, every objection now urged against their plan would remain in all its plausibility; and the real inconveniency would be incurred of not removing a pretext which may be seized on critical occasions for drawing into question the essential powers of the Union.

So if they had left it out, that power would still be implied, or the general powers would mean nothing at all. Put another way, the ends expressed in the general powers make the means necessary anyway.  Which leaves me to wonder aloud if those “means” and ends wouldn’t be subject to a greater scrutiny whenever employed if the Constitution had been silent on them.  But more interestingly, Madison posits about what if Congress abuses this power:

If it be asked what is to be the consequence, in case the Congress shall misconstrue this part of the Constitution, and exercise powers not warranted by its true meaning, I answer, the same as if they should misconstrue or enlarge any other power vested in them; as if the general power had been reduced to particulars, and any one of these were to be violated; the same, in short, as if the State legislatures should violate the irrespective constitutional authorities. In the first instance, the success of the usurpation will depend on the executive and judiciary departments, which are to expound and give effect to the legislative acts; and in the last resort a remedy must be obtained from the people who can, by the election of more faithful representatives, annul the acts of the usurpers. [Emphasis Added.]

Now isn’t that an interesting concept?   Voting out the usurpers and annulling their acts…like a record ouster in a midterm election and the nearly immediate introduction of a bill to repeal an act that was the product of chicanery, backroom deals, and forced into a vote without adequate time to review all 2000+ pages, in violation of promises of transparency and plenty of advanced time to read and study it?  Naaaaaaaaaaa.  That’s just “relitigating the past.”

And then there is this little tidbit from him regarding the other safeguard against such overreach:

The truth is, that this ultimate redress may be more confided in against unconstitutional acts of the federal than of the State legislatures, for this plain reason, that as every such act of the former will be an invasion of the rights of the latter, these will be ever ready to mark the innovation, to sound the alarm to the people, and to exert their local influence in effecting a change of federal representatives. There being no such intermediate body between the State legislatures and the people interested in watching the conduct of the former, violations of the State constitutions are more likely to remain unnoticed and unredressed.

Except that states can no longer recall their representatives in Congress, because they no longer represent the states. (Thanks Progressives and the 17th Amendment!)  This argument is also more than a little bit facetious in that in representing much smaller constituencies, state governments are a heck of a lot more accountable to their citizens than a Congress where Representatives can position themselves for “safe seats”, thus insulating themselves from the consequences of certain votes, and Senators who represent so many people that they can afford to completely ignore close to half of them without any negative repercussions at election time.  However, it does indicate that he, as one of the authors and architects of the text, fully contemplated state governments that had much more power than what they have today. 

I would not be completely honest if I only examined the Federalist view of the subject, and for that reason, I will quote some of what our friend “Brutus” (thought to be New York Judge, and Constitutional Convention Delegate Robert Yates) had to say on the matter of the Necessary and Proper clause.   From paper I :

This government is to possess absolute and uncontroulable power, legislative, executive and judicial, with respect to every object to which it extends, for by the last clause of section 8th, article 1st, it is declared “that the Congress shall have power to make all laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into execution the foregoing powers, and all other powers vested by this constitution, in the government of the United States; or in any department or office thereof.” And by the 6th article, it is declared “that this constitution, and the laws of the United States, which shall be made in pursuance thereof, and the treaties made, or which shall be made, under the authority of the United States, shall be the supreme law of the land; and the judges in every state shall be bound thereby, any thing in the constitution, or law of any state to the contrary notwithstanding.” It appears from these articles that there is no need of any intervention of the state governments, between the Congress and the people, to execute any one power vested in the general government, and that the constitution and laws of every state are nullified and declared void, so far as they are or shall be inconsistent with this constitution, or the laws made in pursuance of it, or with treaties made under the authority of the United States. — The government then, so far as it extends, is a complete one, and not a confederation. It is as much one complete government as that of New-York or Massachusetts, has as absolute and perfect powers to make and execute all laws, to appoint officers, institute courts, declare offences, and annex penalties, with respect to every object to which it extends, as any other in the world. So far therefore as its powers reach, all ideas of confederation are given up and lost. It is true this government is limited to certain objects, or to speak more properly, some small degree of power is still left to the states, but a little attention to the powers vested in the general government, will convince every candid man, that if it is capable of being executed, all that is reserved for the individual states must very soon be annihilated, except so far as they are barely necessary to the organization of the general government.

———————

How far the clause in the 8th section of the 1st article may operate to do away all idea of confederated states, and to effect an entire consolidation of the whole into one general government, it is impossible to say. The powers given by this article are very general and comprehensive, and it may receive a construction to justify the passing almost any law. A power to make all laws, which shall be necessary and proper, for carrying into execution, all powers vested by the constitution in the government of the United States, or any department or officer thereof, is a power very comprehensive and definite [indefinite?], and may, for ought I know, be exercised in a such manner as entirely to abolish the state legislatures. Suppose the legislature of a state should pass a law to raise money to support their government and pay the state debt, may the Congress repeal this law, because it may prevent the collection of a tax which they may think proper and necessary to lay, to provide for the general welfare of the United States? For all laws made, in pursuance of this constitution, are the supreme lay of the land, and the judges in every state shall be bound thereby, any thing in the constitution or laws of the different states to the contrary notwithstanding. — By such a law, the government of a particular state might be overturned at one stroke, and thereby be deprived of every means of its support.

And from XI:

Most of the articles in this system, which convey powers of any considerable importance, are conceived in general and indefinite terms, which are either equivocal, ambiguous, or which require long definitions to unfold the extent of their meaning. The two most important powers committed to any government, those of raising money, and of raising and keeping up troops, have already been considered, and shewn to be unlimited by any thing but the discretion of the legislature. The clause which vests the power to pass all laws which are proper and necessary, to carry the powers given into execution, it has been shewn, leaves the legislature at liberty, to do every thing, which in their judgment is best. It is said, I know, that this clause confers no power on the legislature, which they would not have had without it — though I believe this is not the fact, yet, admitting it to be, it implies that the constitution is not to receive an explanation strictly, according to its letter; but more power is implied than is expressed. And this clause, if it is to be considered, as explanatory of the extent of the powers given, rather than giving a new power, is to be understood as declaring, that in construing any of the articles conveying power, the spirit, intent and design of the clause, should be attended to, as well as the words in their common acceptation.

After reading the arguments of both sides, and spending much time pondering them against the backdrop of the history that has transpired since, I have a few closing thoughts.

1.  I do find it ironic that Rutherford, who has always poo-pooed any arguments in the past regarding original intent that are rooted in the Federalist Papers, sees fit to line up behind the Professor’s reference to the Federalist Papers, and Keef’s invoking Madison’s reflection on not expressly defining the enumerated powers and preventing the implication of them by fighting to keep the word “expressly” out of the 10th Amendment.  You’re either in or you’re out, and if you’re in, then you need to examine all of it.

2.  I think that the Federalist Papers are an invaluable tool in determining “what the Framers really meant”, because you have the architects and authors telling you in their own words what they meant.  Of course, this means that it is a lot harder to allege that the general enumeration of powers was “vague”, and therefore can mean what ever you want them to.  Madison and Hamilton both clearly envisioned limitations on those powers, and the right of the people to check and remove politicians who disregard such notions.

3.  Knowing what they intended doesn’t mean that there is no potential for usurpation and excess by the Federal Government.  While Hamilton and Madison appeared to have difficulty countenancing such a state of affairs, they also had designed a system in which the states had their own representation in Congress, and could therefore respond to and block attempted encroachment on their power.  The movement to ratify the 17th Amendment, relying on somewhat specious arguments and a population that did not adequately understand all the checks and balances built-in to the Republic, set forth a case for greater “democracy” and “accountability” as a means to fight corruption and removed this particular check without contemplating or proposing an adequate replacement.  At the same time, Anti-Federalists, such as “Brutus” clearly foresaw the temptation that would inspire politicians to dissemble and read sufficient ambiguity into their powers that didn’t exist for those who conferred it,  until, as predicted, nothing rests outside of their considerable power.

4.  Yes, Virginia, the Constitution really did anticipate that the states, and not the federal government would have the bulk of the power over our daily lives.  That was why they had all the emphasis on limited government, and only listed a certain number of enumerated powers…powers that ironically coincided with the perceived weaknesses in the previous Articles of Confederation.  This is not an accident.  Nor is it an accident that these powers very much embody what is necessary to take a collection of sovereign governments and allow for an effective defense and economy. If the states were meant to be merely subservient subdivisions of a central government, then there would have been no limits on the federal government’s power as drafted, and the principle architects would not have expressed the belief that the states could end the federal government.

5.  The Anti-Federalist Papers give a good understanding of what the intent underlying the Bill of Rights was, because the various parties and delegations had the courtesy to pinpoint what they perceived as weaknesses in the Constitution with regard to the individual liberties that they had so jealously guarded from a king.

6.   Rutherford’s remarks about Boehner “being his own man” sound very silly indeed, coming as they do from a Harvard Grad who refuses to do some of the hard work of citizenship for himself and READ these documents, so that he doesn’t have to rely on the interpretation of really really smart people like Keith “Spittle-Flecked” Olbermann.

7. Anyone who gets excited about such a shallow examination of such a deep topic, and gushes about a “living, breathing Constitution” needs to read this over and over and over again until they understand it.

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…the results are not always pretty.

Yesterday, I posted on the inanities expressed by some of the inhabitants of fantasyland on the anniversary of John Lennon’s death.  An internet sparing partner took significant umbrage with my post and follow-up remarks.  In fact, he was so offended by it that he composed a post today taking me to task for my opposition in the lamebrained wishcasting set forth in the song “Imagine”.

You can read his psuedo-scold at his place, but since he seems to think that the song embodies aspirations that are noble and admirable, I thought it best to explain to him why it isn’t so.   Like many on the Left, Rutherford would like to believe that his feelings take priority over reality.  I’m sure that he would disagree with me, but the problem with a worldview where the default is to one’s feelings first, and the brainbox a distant second, if it is that high on the list, is that the result is a handicap where the sufferer loses the ability to process information in a way that helps him to really understand what he is trying to process.  Hence the thought that seeing the filthy hippie’s ode as anything other than the expression of high-minded ideals we should all aspire to is to somehow reject optimism, and be guilty of the murder of an entire culture’s imagination.  But let’s examine what Lennon was saying, shall we?

Imagine there’s no Heaven
It’s easy if you try
No hell below us
Above us only sky
Imagine all the people
Living for today

 The only way a person thinks that this would be a wonderful state of affairs is if they never think of what that means.

Whether atheists and agnostics want to believe it or not, what normally keeps humanity’s baser impulses in check is a belief in the divine, and the thought of an eternity in which one is rewarded according to their behavior here when still shuffling about in a mortal coil.  If you remove that governor on human behavior, you will have chaos.  If you want what someone else has, what would stop you from taking it?  The Law?  In such a world, the law is only a set of rules created by someone else.  It isn’t something to be obeyed or feared.  And when people believe that when they die, that’s it, well then you get people who “live for today”.  The problem is that living for today is that it is often synonymous with bad decisions.  You don’t pay for that meal.  You charge someone double.  You ignore rules you don’t like.   You borrow money you can never repay to buy things that make you feel good.  You don’t pull out.  The strong prey on the weak, and there is no recourse.

Our world isn’t perfect.  Governments and individuals do things we don’t like.  Sometimes there comes a reckoning that we witness.  Sometimes the reckoning is one we never see, but without law, and the moral authority derived from a belief in the divine, we have the jungle.  A place that is arbitrary, capricious, savage, and without hope for anything better.   Rutherford thinks this is to be admired; I know it is to be reviled and avoided.

Imagine there’s no countries
It isn’t hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for

Why would this be a good thing?  First of all, are we not constantly preached to about the acceptance of those who are not like us?  And often with the expectation that we hold these others and their own beliefs to be equal to or better than ourselves and what we believe in?  Seriously, where are the champions of diversity when this little ditty is playing?  Nodding their head in time to the notes from the piano, of course, because they never look for the consequences, only their feelings.

Then there is also the matter of the fact that some of us are quite attached to our countries, thankyouverymuch.  I may be mad as hell about the perversions, deceptions, and lies that the Left have inflicted on my country and my government for the last 100 years, but I still would choose to be an American everyday of the week and twice on Sunday, because it was this country that recognized that rights come from GOD and not men, and not governments.  Because it was this country that enshrined the ideal of the individual rather than a collective that exists to serve government. It isn’t always perfect, and as with any endeavor that relies on the participation of man, bad things have happened and been done in the name of freedom.   Some are known, some remain unknown, and even more remain unrecognized, despite being perpetrated in broad daylight, but as long as we remain free to believe in the divine, the eternal, and the justice that is its to give, we can continually strive to meet the highest ideals expressed in our charter.   That is worth killing for.  That is worth dying for.

And no religion too
Imagine all the people
Living life in peace

Having done this dance with Rutherford for over a year now, I can certainly see why he thinks this would be marvelous.   Our prior conversations have developed the picture of a man who believes that one can share basic moral convictions with a society without them being informed by a religion.  To an extent, I will concede that this is true, but if he believes that a society without a common religion or a history of once having a common religion is going to share a set of common ideals of what is “good”, or that it would find the idea of living in peace to be a good and noble goal is naive, and no matter how much he wants to believe that parents can inculcate a knowledge of “right and wrong” or “good and evil” without having their own ideals informed, even subconsciously, by the shared moral beliefs of the society in which they live (i.e. by religion) is doubly naive. 

Imagine no possessions
I wonder if you can
No need for greed or hunger
A brotherhood of man
Imagine all the people
Sharing all the world

I can imagine how its been tried before.  Its had so many names…socialism, marxism, communism, and yet the result has always been the same.  A system that denies the dignity of the individual, that links a person’s worth to their value to the state, a system where invariably, despite all the flowery talk of equality, some end up being more equal than others…not because of their own abilities, and not because of equal opportunities, but because of their ability to capitalize and exploit the contributions of others.   Think about the dreaded “group projects” inflicted upon each of us at some point in our educational careers.  Now “imagine” that those who are sponging off of your contributions and the those of others actually making the effort also have the ability to commandeer the results for themselves and have you imprisoned or killed if you dare speak up about it, and you pretty much have it nailed.  A potent combination of mediocrity, mendacity, misery, slavery, and death.   This is why the song is regarded by many to be an ode to communism (no, Rutherford, that was not solely my conclusion) and they would be correct.

You may say that I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
I hope someday you’ll join us
And the world will live as one

Join this nightmare?  Not on your life.  The only one who could make it work, and not exhibit every manner of repression and depravity in so doing is the one who will one day return to do just that.  He is the only King whose claim has never been illegitimate, and until that happens, I am not surrendering my identity, my labor, and my soul to a collective.

Rutherford, however, cannot see past the perimeter of his feelings long enough to consider that those who chose not to guild the lily with empty optimism are not without hope, or a belief in something better, as he sips the bitter distillation of the death of his own optimism, and his casting about in search of others to blame for it:

BiW was back in the mode of so many conservatives who scoffed at Barack Obama’s Hope and Change rhetoric of the 2008 campaign. To believe the world could be a better place made you “perpetually naive”. 

To be fair, there was plenty to scoff at.  The glittering generalities and self-aggrandizing rhetoric would have seemed ridiculous tumbling from the lips of anyone else.  The difference between me and my friends, and Rutherford and the rest of his friends chanting “Yes We Can!”  and drooling over the crease of his pants, and how Presidential he looked was that we recognized it right away…largely because we did not default immediately to emotion, and succumb to wanting to believe more than wanting to understand.  As a result, he wants to believe that we have no hope for something better.  I find that ironic.  As a conservative, I believe in this country, and I believe in the abilities of the American people.  I don’t believe in a government that tells me that I can’t.  I can’t succeed without its help.  I can’t be content without it deciding what is fair.  I can’t think for myself; it must do it for me.   I can’t fail; it must protect me from consequences of my choices and actions.  Rutherford, like many on the Left fear having the right to decide their own destiny.  That’s what underlies the current movement of collective salvation.  And placing your hopes in a vain and shallow man whose principle pastime was shameless self-promotion and preaching the gospel of collective salvation, which, strangely enough, empowers him and others like him was putting it in the wrong place.   We are not without hope, and a belief in things better; we simply knew it was not to be found where you were looking, and now you know too. 

The song is flawed because it describes a world that cannot be because it goes against human nature. But isn’t that what aspiration is all about? Aren’t we here to resist the baser parts of our nature? Aren’t we here to change the world for the better? Aren’t we here to share in the world’s riches?

Share in the world’s riches?  No.  As the bylaws state:

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

That does not mean “share in the world’s riches”, and unlike some in Congress who would continue to give such things away in exchange for dependence and allegiance with insanity like the DREAM Act, I understand this.  But then I also understand that making a better world doesn’t include simply giving those blessings away domestically, either.  General welfare is not promoted by giving food, clothing, and shelter away to those who are not interested in earning it, and I am not interested in giving those things to them.  If they want to earn them, and they need help, that’s different.  Help is first and foremost showing them they can do it themselves, and making them do it.  That spares them the shackles of dependency and the ingratitude of entitlement, and it spares the rest of us from slavery in having to fulfill that ever-growing sense of entitlement.  That’s a win-win.  That is paying it forward.  That is making society grow, rather than fragmenting it, and that will ultimately make the world a better place.

Rather than the ode to a utopia that isn’t, I much prefer the wisdom of this song:

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The pre-dawn commando operation, which killed nine pro-Palestinian activists, was also sure to strengthen Gaza’s Islamic militant Hamas rulers at the expense of U.S. allies in the region, key among them Hamas’ main rival, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, as well as Egypt and Jordan.

“The attack on a humanitarian mission … will only further alienate the international community and isolate Israel while granting added legitimacy to Hamas’ claim to represent the plight of the Palestinian people,” said Scott Atran, an analyst at the University of Michigan.

I have to wonder if Scott, who I am ashamed to say is at my alma mater, actually took the time to find out about the conduct of those peace-loving humanitarians and “pro-Palestinian” activists? Because I’m not convinced the truth reflects the same thing he seems to be talking about in his quote:

Kinda puts a different perpective on the peace-loving pro-Palestinian activists the legacy media have come to know and love, doesn’t it?

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I need to stop reading Nice Deb’s.

It can’t be good for me to see a leader and his lackeys keep greiving the spirit.

2 Corinthians 11:12-15

12 But what I do, I will also continue to do, that I may cut off the opportunity from those who desire an opportunity to be regarded just as we are in the things of which they boast. 13 For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ. 14 And no wonder! For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light. 15 Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also transform themselves into ministers of righteousness, whose end will be according to their works.

I guess the photographer believed him:

Romans 1:22-23

22 Professing to be wise, they became fools, 23 and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man—and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things.

Colossians 2:8

8 Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ.

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The Red Hides the Blood Nicely, Doesn't It?

As many of you know, I have recently taken up the “hobby” of “dialogue” with some left-leaning bloggers. While punching myself in the face until I pass out might be a more productive use of my time, I do enjoy the exchanges, especially when the other side inadvertently slips and reveals what they really think. More often than not, however, I find many of the approaches they take to subjects based in false premises, which they will defend with their dying breaths because they are convinced that the outcome makes the means just.

One such example is the latest post from Hippie Prof, a midwest professor who is self-admittedly wrapped up in contradictions, yet stubbornly convinced that the left has the answers, despite ample proof to the contrary. His latest post is a leftist parable about two veterans, both single amputees, who have very different ideas about the welfare state, and yet, he would have us believe, the ‘conservative’ contradicts himself on the issue of handicapped parking spaces. The point of the story is that while conservatives believe that charity is the responsibility of the individual, there is simply too great a need for the individuals to meet. If you like smarmy condescension in your unrepentant political propaganda, then by all means, check it out. Otherwise, you can thank me later for sparing you the not so thinly veiled pro-Obamareidpelosicare piece.

The reason I chose to write about it at all is an assertion that has been floating around on the some of the left-leaning sites I frequent for a while now, handily encapsulated in this excerpt:

Lefty: Sometimes those of us who have more need to give some of what we have to those of us who have less. It is the right and moral thing to do….

Righty: Don’t talk to me about “right and moral” things! I give away plenty of my money to charity – but on a volunteer basis, and I donate my time too! It should be my choice to do that – it is not up to the government to do it for me!

Lefty: You may give to charity – but charity alone is never enough. The need always exceeds what people are willing to give voluntarily. Do you think that people would give enough to cover the need?

Lefty’s brand of hand-wringing tripe sounds familiar. Wait…it will come to me…YES!!!:

From each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs.  -Karl Marx

Yes, our moralist sounds exactly like the author of millions of death warrants, one of Communism’s Founding Fathers, and an inspiration to power-mad, bloody-minded megalomaniacs everywhere. 

It should go without saying that a philosophy that has killed millions, and enslaved millions more being portrayed as “moral” gets my hackles up. 
From the Webster’s Encyclopeadic Dictionary of the English Language:

Moral:
–adjective
1.of, pertaining to, or concerned with the principles or rules of right conduct or the distinction between right and wrong; ethical: moral attitudes.
2.expressing or conveying truths or counsel as to right conduct, as a speaker or a literary work; moralizing: a moral novel.
3.founded on the fundamental principles of right conduct rather than on legalities, enactment, or custom: moral obligations.
4.capable of conforming to the rules of right conduct: a moral being.
5.conforming to the rules of right conduct (opposed to immoral): a moral man.
6.virtuous in sexual matters; chaste.
7.of, pertaining to, or acting on the mind, feelings, will, or character: moral support.
8.resting upon convincing grounds of probability; virtual: a moral certainty.
noun
9.the moral teaching or practical lesson contained in a fable, tale, experience, etc.
10.the embodiment or type of something.
11.morals, principles or habits with respect to right or wrong conduct.

The idea that charity should be accomplished through government is about as wrong-headed as it could be.  One need only look to government’s stunningly successful track record.  Nearly forty years fighting a “War on Poverty” that hasn’t made any significant change in the percentage of people living in poverty in this country despite government taking billions of tax dollars from We The People and giving it to “the poor”, minus a not-insignificant-handling-fee, of course.  Then there is the much longer term success story that is Social Security, truly one of the greatest pyramid schemes in history, that is a scant few years from collapse, due to government’s inability to refrain from spending every dollar that comes through its hands, and the fact that it created a sense of entitlement in every generation that was forced to pay into it (unless you were born after 1970, in which case government doesn’t give a damn what your expectations might be.  You’ll pay much more than previous generations, and you had better plan on working longer just to keep a comparable amount of take home pay over your life time…oh, and you get nothing.)  How about Medicare?  Not only has this “entitlement” cost the American taxpayer BILLIONS in fraud and waste, but it actually limited senior citizens’ health care insurance options and treatment choices, because no private insurer would continue to carry them on their rolls when the government would do it for “free”.  Of course, just like anything else in a command economy, the government also dictated the prices it would pay.  Because the providers are free agents, many could, and did refuse Medicare patients because they didn’t see fit to reduce their bottom-line and deny their families the fruits of their labors, forcing patients to see providers who often have less skill, more patients, and fewer treatment options.  And now they want us to let them do it to everyone.  They demand it.

Because speech after speech after speech after speech after speech from the Left’s Silver-Tongued Messiah™ has failed to convince the American People that giving government more control over their lives is a good idea, and the endless lectures from the Great Condescender™ (same player, different hat) have failed, they have turned to the most despicable technique yet.  They are attempting to make it a moral imperative.

Let’s take it at face value:  It is right conduct for a government to take more and more from one group of people (let’s call them the haves) so that it can provide for the needs of another group (let’s call them the have nots).  Now when an individual or a group of individuals decide to help people out of a sense of compassion and donate their time or their money to help those less fortunate, it is called charity.  The individual or group exercises their freedom to decide who they are going to help, and to what degree.  That is only fitting.  It is their money and it is their time and frequently they make real strides towards independence a condition of the charity.

When government decides to help the less fortunate, it is called welfare.  It is given on criteria that the government decides, in the amount that government decides, to those whom the government chooses, for as long as it chooses.  It is done with our money, and it uses perverse incentives to break up the family structure and increase dependence on government.  And because of the empowerment of politicians that comes through this dependence, there is never any incentive for it to stop.  It can, and has increased spending over the years, further increasing the amount of taxes charged to pay for it, and the liability of the taxpayer to pay for what government borrows so it can avoid ending it.

Now there is a word for when someone takes something that is yours from you without your consent by intimidation or violence…

Robbery.

Robbery is : 

the felonious taking of the property of another from his or her person or in his or her immediate presence, against his or her will, by violence or intimidation.

“But BiW”, I can hear you say “It isn’t felonious when government does it.”

Just because the government does something doesn’t make it legal.  The government does illegal things quite frequently.  And while you can search high and low in the Constitution, you will not find “Providing for the needy” anywhere in it.  Yes, I know there are two references to Congress’ power to provide for the “general welfare”.  I can also read, and I have read the Federalist Papers.  Madison never would have agreed with the leftist contention that the “General Welfare” clause authorized Social Security, Medicare, and other programs.  Hamilton was a little freer in his interpretation, but he also envisioned a strong federal government, in opposition to many of the other Founders.  Having said that, I am convinced that he would be horrified, both at what is already in place, and at what government proposes, and even he too realized that there were limits, and it was within the purview of the people themselves to determine what those limits are:

“But it may be again asked, Who is to judge of the NECESSITY and PROPRIETY of the laws to be passed for executing the powers of the Union? I answer, first, that this question arises as well and as fully upon the simple grant of those powers as upon the declaratory clause; and I answer, in the second place, that the national government, like every other, must judge, in the first instance, of the proper exercise of its powers, and its constituents in the last. If the federal government should overpass the just bounds of its authority and make a tyrannical use of its powers, the people, whose creature it is, must appeal to the standard they have formed, and take such measures to redress the injury done to the Constitution as the exigency may suggest and prudence justify. The propriety of a law, in a constitutional light, must always be determined by the nature of the powers upon which it is founded. “ –Hamilton, The Federalist #33

We all have needs.  But when the government is empowered to determine the extent of the needs of some, and to take from others without limit or reservation to in order to “meet” those needs, it has gone too far.  When “the needy” represent a class dependent upon government rather than on itself, and government provides for this class and actively seeks to increase the size and scope of dependency on the government to the detriment of the majority of its people, it not only squanders its legitimacy, by dutifully ignoring the consent of the governed, it purposely vicitmizes one class of citizen for the supposed benefit of another, voiding the concept of equality under the law.  By formulating such “charity” and enforcing participation through the use all mechanisms available to it, government robs some citizens and gives some of what it takes to others.  There is nothing “moral” about that.  In  fact, if we were talking about anyone else doing it, we would also be talking about arrest and prosecution for it.

Government exists to protect the property of its citizens.  If this were not true, we would not have the body of contract law that we do; there would be no point.  Contracts, by their very nature, presume the exchange of something of value to the parties, for them to benefit by.  If this were not so, then there would be no incentive to enter into a contract.  Welfare as we know it has no general benefit.  It does not increase the security of all.  It does not make the nation stronger.  It does not preserve society.  It simply empowers those in government who would give it to some at a cost to others, while increasing the size and power of government.  This not a lawful or proper aim of government, and while it may help those who direct it to feel moral about their actions, there is nothing noble or right about limiting the achievement of those it takes from, or making a judgement that they should share through government’s auspices.  In addition, it does nothing to empower or uplift the recipient; indeed, the only one empowered in the whole transaction is government.

Still, I suppose that I should be happy for the progress that they are making.  Now they are trying to convince me that this is a moral imperative based on their morals, and not mine.  Of course, it helps to have some ready answers when a non-Christian tries to tell you that Christ would be in favor of the Health Care Take Over™.

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“Ahh.  Good.  Yessssss!  Your hate makes Darth Cheney Strong!”

I am I the only one who would pay good money to witness a 10 minute face-to-face between Cheney and Clownshoe?   Really, someone should set that up and put it on pay-per-view, just to make these socialists grit their teeth even harder at capitialism.

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One of the things I have truly enjoyed in starting a dialogue with Rutherford is the opportunity to engage a few leftists who actually make a real attempt to justify their beliefs, and are capable of talking without simply tossing a bomb and leaving. One of these people is the Rutherford regular, Hippieprof.

A few days ago, the Hippieprof tossed out the idea that FOX is an “unbalanced” news source because he has never seen a positive news story on Obama’s successes on it. I suggested that perhaps that would be because there was no success to report. Which then tumbled to his postulation that conservatives never see any of his successes as successes because we only watch FOX and FOX only says that he is a dismal failure. (Yeah, I know that means that he always seems to miss where Juan Williams, Bob Beckel, and other left-leaning spin doctors try to educate the various viewers about all the things the Democrats do right, I was trying to roll with it…), and I asked him what these successes were.

Life was intervening at various points, and the only answer he had time to provide was the appointment of Justice Sotomayor to the Supreme Court. I asked him why he thought this was so, and pointed him to my post “Unfit and Injudicious”. Instead of telling me why this was a success, he simply informed me that my demonstration of her repeated instances of injudicious conduct was simply an opinion, which could be wrong because other “experts” had come to a different conclusion. I suppose that because some “experts” believe that drug use is a victimless crime, those who conclude differently by measuring the cost to society and damage to non-using family members also have an opinion that could be wrong, because of the “experts” who never actually answer those issues.

This morning, he finally gave a more detailed response to my query about Obama’s successes, and rather than trying to my response into another blogger’s comment section, it seemed appropriate to offer a post here rebutting my learned friend’s opinions.

BiW….

On to Obama’s successes (including a list of what I see to be his failures at the end). I suspect you will not agree with any of the successes I list. You are entitled to your opinion, as I am entitled to mine. There is no objective standard on most of these – and we have no historical perspective.

I take issue with the false premise that you begin with, that being that there can be no objective measure of success. Success, like every other word has a definition, and to define something is to clearly declare its meaning. To say that a word that has a clear meaning, several of them, in fact, is somehow incapable of being objectively measured is sophistry, plain and simple. But before I begin my rebuttal in earnest, I will set forth the definition of “success”, so that we can be clear about our expectations.

From the Websters Encyclopedic Unabridged Dictionary of the English Language:

Success: 1. The favorable or prosperous termination of attempts or endeavors;
2. the attainment of wealth, position, honors, or the like;
3. a successful performance or achievement;
4. a person or a thing that is successful.

Note also that we are merely 13 months into his term – so much of this remains a work in progress.

Wow. I cannot tell you how disappointing this particular walk-back of expectation is after all the “The First 100 Days” hype we were treated to every single one of those first 100 days by MSNBC, CNN, NBC, ABC, CBS, etc…

Here goes:

1) Obama has symbolically broken the racial glass ceiling. He has empowered a huge segment of our society – a group who in fact felt that the American dream did not apply to them. He has given a sense of hope to the disenfranchised. Go ahead and scoff at this – but believe me, it is real and it is important. This is one reason I am so resentful of those who seek to take Obama down for mere political gain. You may have already seen my blog post on the topic: http://hippieprofessor.com/2010/02/10/ahhh-sarah-about-that-hopey-changey-thing/

Really?  I thought that Billy Jeff was the nation’s very first African-American President? 

He has not empowered anyone, and any sense of hope that he might have offered was the cruelest kind of illusion.

There has been no explosion of minority entrepreneurial activity.  The black single mom living in the ghetto with her three kids relying on welfare under Bush is still living in the same place and still relying on welfare for a living under Obama.  If there is a difference, it is that more Americans, ones who don’t want to be dependent upon government now find themselves in reduced circumstances and relying on unemployment extensions to keep paying some of their bills.  There is no growth in opportunity to take control of one’s own destiny and cast of the shackles of government dependency.  Indeed, the cornerstone of his plan to fundamentally change our country has been to offer even more dependency in the offensive usurpation of power that is the health care take over plan.

What hope has he offered?  Now that we have a black President, is it a hope that blacks will finally “come into their own” and take a larger leadership role in government because of his being elected President?  I think that is very insulting to every “person of color” who worked their way into positions of power on their own accord and by measurable, concrete achievement.   However, after decades of being called Uncle Toms and worse by a self-appointed African-American leadership for not staying on the modern-day plantation and accepting the prevailing political philosophy, people like Justice Thomas, Dr. Rice, or Thomas Sowell either have the good grace to let such assertions go unchallenged, or are too busy actually doing what they do with skill and intellect to bother speaking against this mirage.  Certainly such a belief continues to mistake equality of opportunity with equality of ability.

Or perhaps you were speaking of the Hope his candidacy offered to white liberals who don’t just hold close to a race guilt that they do not deserve, but actually cling to it as an article of faith?  Certainly these people were instrumental in this historic candidacy, and such irrationalism would be necessary to elect a person so undeserving of the position. 

I can see the color coming to your cheeks, and the OUTRAGE!111!! building behind your eyes.  Take a breath and ask yourself this question:  “Would I have cast my vote for a white man with the same or similar record?”  Obama is a supposedly brilliant man, yet we don’t know what his grades were at Occidental College or at Harvard.  We know his opponent’s class rank.  We know what kind of grades his predecessor got, and Al Gore’s grades for that matter. 

What did he do for a living beforehand?  He was a ‘community organizer’ and sometimes law lecturer.  But what does that mean?  He certainly wasn’t going to tell us that it means coaching organizations on new and better ways to work against the government, or lecturing to students about what a deeply flawed instrument the Constitution is because it provided no means to accomplish the aims of social justice a/k/a wealth redistribution.

Where did he distinguish himself in politics?  What ideas or issues were so important to him that he put something…anything on the line in defense of them?  He gave a nice speech at the Democratic Convention years prior, and voted ‘present’ in the Senate most of the time.  Before that, when in the Illinois State Senate, he found it important to stand against palliative comfort care for children with the temerity to survive their mother’s attempts to murder them.   I can’t think of very many serious candidates in years before with similarly sparse resume’s who rated real consideration for the office.  It certainly didn’t measure up to his opponent’s curriculum vitae, which reflected achievement, accomplishment, and sacrifice, not just for select subgroups of the country, but for us all, despite the fact I have disagreements with the various issues he has chosen to make a stand on, such as campaign finance, and illegal immigration.

You, and so many like you expose an unhealthy fascination with race, when you show that you are willing to elect a person carrying a paper-thin resume, and vague promises of hope and change because you find the historic achievement to be so necessary that you cannot wait for someone with both the correct racial pedigree and a demonstrated ability and character for the job (and speaking against even comfort care for the most innocent and defenseless among us is NOT the kind of character required for the leader of the free world).  And it so blinds you legitimate criticisms that you are willing to dismiss real and logical disagreements as criticism for “mere political gain”, which you deem as offensive, and I suspect, inherently unacceptable.  I don’t know what country you grew up in, but I would call your attention to the first real Presidential campaign between John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, and the years intervening, when there was a vile vitriol between the two camps that was all about “political gain”, and it consisted not just of different political philosophies, but slanderous filth of the most unimaginable kind.  The Chicago Messiah™ has so far had it much easier than his immediate two predecessors, both in scrutiny from the press, and criticism by political opponents and interest groups, and neither of their critics were continually savaged with the politically correct attempt to shut them up with the hysterical cries of “Racism!11!!!”, which has become the textbook response by people who have no desire to honestly address criticism.

2) He has stabilized the economy at a time when we might well have made a tailspin into a second great depression. You will scoff. Seriously – can you honestly claim that the economy would be in better shape right now without the stimulus? Had GM and Chrysler and AIG failed we would have seen a massive cascade of business failures and unemployment would be far far far higher than it is now. I have said it a billion times – in economics we don’t get a control group. Wish we did – because I know I would be right.

I don’t recall him “saving the economy”.  In fact, I’m pretty sure that it was his predecessor who peddled the intellectually bankrupt concept of “breaking the rules of the free market system in order to save it.”  Yes, your messiah was involved, but he only came to the TARP table reluctantly…after basically saying “If you need me, call me.”  That was hardly the act of someone who was interested in the job, or the effect of the economy on the American people.

As for the spendulous, while it has benefitted a lot of people in government jobs (i.e. people who don’t produce anything that contributes to economic growth), I can say that we would be better.  When there was 6.4 Billion Dollars spent in Congressional Districts that don’t exist (there’s a story for an uncritical Fourth Estate to pursue…unless it would be raaaacist to do so.), unemployment that went well above what we were promised that it would, and lots of signs touting invisible projects funded by the bill, and an enormous bill that necessarily has to fall on to the backs of my children, no, I can’t say that we are better off.  In fact, for me to do so would be a silly as touting a belief in the ridiculous and unprovable metric of “Millions of jobs saved or created”.

3) BTW – saving GM and Chrysler – at least for now – was a big thing. I suspect you will claim it was illegal and unconstitutional. I tend to think it wasn’t – but as you have pointed out I don’t have a law degree. Now we will actually see the Chevy Volt – and with Toyota in disarray the US may even to be able to catch up in the race for green technology. Yeah – I know – not important to you.

Hmmm.  I guess I’ll start with a simple question:  Do you believe in private property?  If your answer to that question is “yes”, then I’d like to know what that concept means to you. If private property means that something is truly the property of them what owns it and pays the bills due on it, then it is not a legitimate or legal act for government to step in, take it over, screw over preferred creditors…private parties who took a risk in granting these companies additional capital in exchange for collateral so that they knew exactly what they were risking in making the loans…in favor of unsecured creditors who played a large part in making the entities fail economically.  Put another way, government had neither the right or authority to take over the corporations, ignore established bankruptcy laws, strong-arm collaterized creditors, and then essentially give the corporations to the very parties that contributed to their downfall (i.e. the UAW) with their inflexible approach and sense of entitlement to a much higher standard of living than virtually every other class of manufacturing worker currently employed in this country. 

I care about this more than you can imagine.  I grew up in the Flint suburbs, in a family that has always driven Chryslers, and when I reached adulthood, I tended to favor GM.  These workers were the parents, aunts, uncles, and grandparents of my friends.  They were my neighbors.  We drove American through the 70’s and 80’s, when driving American wasn’t cool.  I have a Chevy and a Chrysler in my driveway right now.  I was looking forward to the hope of picking up a used Dodge Challenger in a few years, just because the idea of owning such a sleek Gaia-raping, deep-throated street predator filled me with such awe and wonder that it almost made me giggle with delight.  That isn’t going to happen now, and if I am going to stick by my committment to drive American, I have to look at Ford when the time comes to replace my beloved Impala, simply because I have no intention to reward the bad behavior of any of the parties involved…managment, union, or government.

However, a more important consideration is this:  GM is now basically a union-government joint venture.  During and after the restructuring, they received even more of our money to stay afloat.  No steps have been taken to control legacy costs, or even to address incredibly generous union contracts, and as long as Uncle Sugar (really you and me) keep writing the checks, the unions have no incentive to make their end of the business more competitive.  They will continue to spend our money for as long as they possibly can.

As for AIG and the rest, it was patently wrong for the government, which already played a role in the economy as regulator, to step in and become a participant.  Business succeeds in generating wealth not just for its owners, but for the national economy at large because it has a better idea, or can be more cost efficient than its competitors.  Competitors that can’t or won’t control their costs, and/or put out inferior products should fail because of competitors that accomplish this better.  Ford did this better than GM or Chrysler, and as a result, had every right to expect to be rewarded for doing so with the greater market share that comes when a competitor fails.  And while it has continued to do much better since turning down the sugar that Uncle peddled, it now is in competition with the same entity that regulates the market, and its practices and processes. 

The government, which already had enormous regulatory power over financial markets, and had instituted policies such as the Community Reinvestment Act, which required banks and other regulated lenders to make bad business decisions in the form of risky loans, decided to that it was appropriate to step in and pick winners and losers when the decade of looting, overseen by prominent (and well-paid) Democrats such as Jaime Gorelick and Franklin Raines, could no longer be concealed and the time came to pay the bill.  We paid gobs and buckets of money to cover bad loans that we never should have made in the first place through the Rosencrantz and Guildenstern of the home finance world, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and then we decided that firms that took part in this ongoing fraud such as Bear Sterns were not worthy of saving, but Goldman Sachs (Turbo Tax Timmy’s old gang)  and AIG HAD to be saved at any cost…which means at any cost to the taxpayer.  Interference with private property rights, circumventing the law, competing in the same markets it also regulates, and spending piles and piles of other people’s money on these dubious investments is not something that should be celebrated.  It should be severely sanctioned with convictions, jail time, restitution, and if all else fails, tar and feathers.

4) He has articulated a moderate vision of health care reform. Despite dishonest conservative commentary(fueled by a desperate insurance industry) It is far from a progressive position – a progressive position would entail single payer or at least a very robust public option. An honest politician on the right would find a lot to like in the bills now on the table – yet they seek to to score political points instead – and they disgust me. See my section on failures below for commentary on Obama’s failure to get this done.

It isn’t up to the government to provide health care for people, and that includes Medicaid and Medicare.  I would make an exception for the care that the VA renders because I believe that injuries suffered by those willing to give their lives to preserve our way of life should be repaid in such a fashion, and because the injuries were suffered in the service of the Republic, we assumed that duty. 

Medicaid and Medicare prove that government cannot efficiently manage such a process.  The billions of dollars in waste and fraud and decades worth of IOUs for tax receipts looted for other entitlement spending are ample testimony to that.  There are other considerations also, first and foremost being that such an undertaking is not Constitutional.  I know from our previous exchanges on this subject that you want to believe otherwise, and will seize upon any argument you feel supports your decision (the welfare clause, the fact that Medicare has never been declared Unconstitutional, etc, etc, etc.) but the fact remains that there simply is no Constitutional authority making it the government’s right and duty to see to it that we have to provide any health insurance for everyone, and the idea that government can impose financial penalties and prison time for my failure to purchase a plan it approves of is antithetical to every principle this nation was founded on.  If health care becomes the purview of the government, then what health care I can receive by necessity also becomes the purview of the government.  Just as the power to tax a thing is the power to destroy a thing, the power to control health care is the power to deny health care.  The power to deny health care is the power to kill.  I shouldn’t have to point to the proof available to all who look, such as the NHS in Britain denying breast cancer drugs that work to breast cancer patients because they cost too much, or the old Soviet trick of declaring political opponents and critics to be “mentally ill” and institutionalizing them in wretched facilities with the expectation that they die there, isolated and silenced.  “That’s extreme!!!111!!!”  you say.  “Perhaps,” I say, “but at the same time, I’m not inclined to leave my physical well-being in the hands of people so unprincipled that they continue to subvert and ignore the inviolate law of the land, and act in contravention to the will of the recognized source of our unalienable rights.” 

But my insurance company can deny me a drug or a treatment now, you say.  You are correct, but my decision to buy health insurance is just that: my decision.  If my employer provides it to me, then it is something my employer chose to provide to me.  Nothing is stopping me from shopping for and purchasing my own policy right now.  If we get Obamacare sans the “public option”[for now…Bwarney Fwanks was absolutely correct that it is the next inevitable step], I don’t get to chose not to have a plan…a choice made by many young people because they are young and in good health.  I don’t get the plan of my choosing.  I get to choose from the plans that government will approve.  This is a wonderful opportunity for graft and kickbacks, and will still lead to the death of private insurance because a publically funded alternative has NO INCENTIVE to operate like a business.  If the money runs out, they simply charge the taxpayer more, and the private companies have to compete with an entity that has its hand in our collective pocket every time they spend too much.  If I didn’t understand the underlying belief held dear by most liberals that people should be relieved of the burden of making their own choices and the consequences of the choices that they do make, though the power of the government, that they, as the ones who know what’s best for us, always plan to control, I would say that it is an unusual position for someone who believes in freedom of choice, as long as it includes the right of a mother to murder their offspring.

5) He is taking strides to end “don’t ask, don’t tell” – he should have done it earlier, and it will take too long in the end – but it is the right thing to do.

Why is it the right thing to do?  I have yet to hear a logical explanation why we as a nation have a vested interest in upholding and supporting the notion of gay rights.  Indeed, most of the arguments that I do hear could just as easily be employed my NAMBLA members or people who like having sex with farm animals.  Come to me with scientific proof of an immutable condition, or admit that if we accept the current reasoning, there is a great deal of behavior, including behavior that liberals find offensive, that we will have to legitimize for the exact same reasons later.

6) He has, as promised, given a tax cut to the vast majority of working Americans. That they apparently don’t realize this is testimony to the power of the conservative press. You can be damned sure that had McCain lowered middle-class taxes to a similar degree FOX would be shouting it from the mountaintops.

Allowing the Bush tax cuts to sunset raised taxes for everyone.  Manipulating the withholding tables to give an average of $13 of the normal American’s pay back to him in his weekly paycheck, while making no change in the actual tax rates that dictate the amount of taxes that they will pay for the year is not a real tax cut.  Of course, most Americans won’t really pick up on this until next year, and the continued lack of any movement by members of both parties will create a situation were more and more middle class Americans will be hammered by the AMT, but that won’t be honestly reported if the Chicago Messiah™ gets to continue lowering the definition of who is actually “rich” in America.  By then, his strategy of fomenting class envy and generally pushing the various doctrines that comprise The Politics of Lowered Expectations™ will really be taking hold, as the entitlement class grows more restless in its greed, and the paying class grows weary of the increasing levels of confiscation of its life energy imposed on it from a ballooning government.  On the Mark Twain scale, your statement isn’t just a lie, its a damn lie.

7) He acted boldly and decisively with the Somali pirate situation. Before you scoff, just think what you would be saying had that rescue attempt failed. Why – you would be saying the same things you say about Carter’s failure to rescue the Iran hostages (though of course that was a much bigger undertaking).

I’m scoffing because his action was neither “bold” or “decisive”.  The Maersk Alabama was hijacked on April 8, 2009.  The crew themselves took the ship back later that day.  The US dispatched response arrived the following day, but the captain of the Alabama was not freed until the 12th…after Obama sent FBI negotiators to talk to the pirates, and dithered for days about letting the Navy do its job and dispatch the pirates with extreme prejudice.  I realize that in academia, bold and decisive action is rapidly criticizing a decision made by a conservative politician or denouncing a state government for reducing the number of taxpayer dollars that a legislature will be sending to institutions of higher indoctrination within their borders in that budget year, but in this case bold and decisive action would have been immediately unleashing the SEALs to kill the pirates and rescue the captain if possible, and then to bomb the pirates’ land based support into rubble, and capturing and hanging any pirates who subsequently attempted to hijack commercial shipping in the area.
 

He has made an unprecedented outreach to the Islamic world. No doubt you will think this was a mistake – a sign of weakness perhaps. You fail to realize how badly our image has fallen in the rest of the world after Bush. Something needs to be done about that – this is a start.

I know.  Actually acting after stacks of resolutions against Iraq piled up for violating the otherwise ineffective directives of the “international authorities” and many of our allies profited on the side from the Oil-for-Food program while helping a ruthless dictator to rearm and continue to attack people that “international authorities” continually told him to keep away from was pretty reprehensible.  After all, it is bad form to shed light on and shut off your allies’ graft personal enrichment programs that are in direct contravention of their public statements made in front of cameras and reporters.  Its kind of like waiting to tell your wife that you’re sterile until after she announces that she’s pregnant.

I do support his current program of reaching out to jihadis with Predator drones and missile strikes, as well as sharing real time intelligence with governments that actually make an effort to root out such vipers in their midst, as is currently occurring in some middle east nations like Yemen.  Unlike you, I have no illusion that this will somehow translate in to lots of fluffy bunny and skittle crapping unicorn sessions with the various members of the Islamic world, but also unlike you, I have no reason to see the approbation and approval of people who have demonstrated a willingness time and time again to kill anyone who doesn’t think like they do, which means most of the western world.

9) He made a good choice for his first Supreme Court appointment. I stand by that. I knew what “wise Latina” meant the moment I heard the phrase – and I am saddened that she had to backtrack on that and pretend it meant something other than it did. Yes – we all know what you think here.

Yes, but I still don’t know why you think it was a good choice.  I suspect, based on our exchanges, but I do not know.  You simply keep saying that it was a good choice, and frankly, that reads much like some of her more notorious decisions.

[I have omitted the rest of his comment because he started on his list of Obama failures, and while I don’t agree with much of his underlying rationale, I also didn’t see cause for disappointment in these “failures”.]

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I cruised over to the Politico this afternoon and I was greeted by this particularly odious bit of excrement served up by delusional Dhimicrat shill David Axelrod:

Excuse me?

White House senior adviser David Axelrod described Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito’s reaction to the State of the Union address on Sunday as one of a growing number of “unusual outbursts” during speeches.

“In this weird political season we have become accustomed to unusual outbursts in the chamber during these speeches,” Axelrod said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

Alito caused a stir by apparently mouthing “not true” when President Barack Obama criticized a Supreme Court ruling that the president said would open the floodgates to corporate money in elections.

Axelrod declined to say whether Alito’s behavior was appropriate. 

Outburst?  Outburst?  What outburst?

From the Random House Dictionary:

out-burst  noun

1.  a sudden and violent release or outpouring: an outburst of tears.

2.  a sudden spell of activity, energy, etc.

3.  a public disturbance; riot; outbreak.

4.  a bursting forth; eruption.

Alito’s “response” was mouthed, imperceptibly.  The “outburst” came from the members of Congress assembled, many of whom are attorneys themselves, applauding in approval of the disrespectful and unprofessional condemnation of the Court with lies easily dispelled by a simple reading of the Citizens United case.  The “unusual” part of those events was a sitting President using the State of the Union speech to criticize a co-equal branch of government not afforded the opportunity to rebut the President’s untrue claim and undeserved criticism.  It was equally unusual to see a sitting President attack guests at a government function, or for an attorney to recklessly criticize the judiciary without regard to the truth, as a means to damage the perception of the integrity of the judicial process, and not see the ABA, the self-appointed voice and conscience of the legal profession so much as say “Boo!”, or the state bar association that made the President an honorary member issue an admonition for this unprofessional act.

Only in a world gone mad would people be talking about the “outburst” of the victim a President who used an institution to act in a churlish manner.  Only in a press devoid of professional integrity, would there even be an implication that a Justice who mouthed something quietly in response to an attack rooted in lies, at an event where such attacks would be inappropriate even if it wasn’t unprofessional and unethical.   Congratulations, “Meet The Press”.  Thank you for playing to the dumbest common denominator.

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