:: Thursday, September 24, 2009 ::
“High Noon” for the First Amendment
Posted by Edward Cline at 7:24 AM
Most of President Barack Obama’s administration cohorts have a distinctly and undeniable leftist hue, ranging from Marxist, to socialist, to ”pink.” Obama himself speaks in glasnostian euphemisms that stand in for socialist rhetoric. It is a form of political “cross-dressing.“ Most of his cabinet, staff and “czarist” appointees speak the same “language.” The press, especially if it endorses Obama‘s agenda, while it deals in words, either cannot fathom the double-speak, or chooses not to. Clueless or not, the mainstream news media is complicit in the success of Obama’s expansion of executive and legislative powers.
Obama’s academic appointees, such as Cass Sunstein, now head of the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, are hard to pin a label to unless one reads their books, speeches, and public statements, and then identifies and collates their key premises into a coherent political philosophy. That political philosophy invariably translates into socialism, or, as they prefer to call it, “progressivism,” which is the saccharine, less frightening term for the same thing. They know what they are saying, and hope that most Americans do not.
Communists have a record of violently seizing power during a civil war or internal political strife. Fascists, or “national socialists,” however, have a record of reaching power by stealth, exploiting a semi-free country’s parliamentary structure. Hitler and his national socialists tried direct seizure of the German government in the Beer Hall Putsch, literally at the point of a gun, but failed. Hitler spent time in prison. He learned his lesson from that attempted coup and entered the “democratic” hustings. He and his party banked and built on over ten years his rhetorical skills and alleged “magnetism,” both of which exploited a sheer emotionalism that smothered the irrationalism of their agenda and to which the German electorate was responsive. By 1933, Hitler and his Nazis were in power.
Were they socialists, or fascists? Communists have a habit of simply seizing private property outright. Socialists prefer to “ease” into seizure over a period of time. Fascists allow nominal private ownership of property, so long as the owners take orders from the government and cohere to its collectivist agenda. If things go wrong, the government can blame the management of a “private“ company, not the policies it requires management to submit to. Both practices are usually in the name of some nationalist sentiment. Obama has capitalized on past regulatory legislation and “eased” into the banking and car manufacturing industries, and hopes to do the same with health care and insurance. Now his sights are set on the press. All this makes him a national socialist.
One of the first things the Nazis took over was the press, aided by a suspension of the Weimar Constitution. Time Magazine reported the sequence of events with an honesty foreign to most journalists today: “With the Reichstag fire as his excuse, weary old President Paul von Hindenburg signed a decree giving Chancellor Hitler & Cabinet a tyrant's powers.” Of relevant interest here, given ominous actions taken by the Obama administration, and to judge by the simpatico political character of his appointees and staff, are particular stipulations in the German Constitution nullified by Hindenburg’s decree:
Article 118: "Every German has the right within the limits of the general laws to express his opinion by word, in writing, printing, by picture, or in any other way. . . ."
Article 123: "All Germans have the right to gather in meetings peaceably and unarmed without announcement or particular permission. . . ."
Article 124: "All Germans have the right to form societies or associations for purposes not contrary to the penal law.
Article 153: "Property is safeguarded by the Constitution. . . ."
As disconnected as those “rights” were, absent an integrated philosophy of reason and individual rights, they still offered some protection. Hitler swept them from the political life of Germany like so many crumbs. That was his intention in 1923. While he was in prison dictating Mein Kampf, he had a very good press. But the German press barons should have taken heed of what he had to say about newspapers:
“Freedom of the press is a nuisance that allows unpunishable lies to poison the people.” (Mein Kampf, p. 335)
The Toledo Blade reported on September 20th that Obama met with editors from that paper and its sister paper, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
In an Oval Office interview with editors from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and The Blade, the President talked about the vital role journalism and newspapers play in American society. "Journalistic integrity, you know, fact-based reporting, serious investigative reporting, how to retain those ethics in all these different new media and how to make sure that it's paid for, is really a challenge," Mr. Obama said. "But it's something that I think is absolutely critical to the health of our democracy."
Journalistic integrity? Fact-based reporting? Serious investigative reporting? Again, Obama speaks of things about which he either knows nothing, or cares not a fig, just as he knows nothing about the Constitution he purportedly taught at the University of Chicago Law School, or cares a fig, either. But, here is his real worry:
"I am concerned that if the direction of the news is all blogosphere, all opinions, with no serious fact-checking, no serious attempts to put stories in context, that what you will end up getting is people shouting at each other across the void but not a lot of mutual understanding,"
Just as Representative Joe Wilson shouted across a void, “You lie!”? Just as the blogosphere is compensating for the slanted, biased, non-objective reporting in the print and broadcast media, and over which the government has little or no control?
The Toledo Blade does not mention who called the meeting in the Oval Office between Obama and the editors. Did Obama summon the editors, or did the editors beg for an audience with him? The omission of this important information is a salutary instance of the shoddy state of modern journalism.
Several bills have been introduced in Congress to aid the newspaper industry, including a Senate measure that would allow newspaper companies to restructure as nonprofits with a variety of tax breaks. The President was noncommittal about the legislation but said: "I haven't seen detailed proposals yet, but I'll be happy to look at them."
No, he hasn’t seen the detailed proposals yet, but he will be happy to look at them to see if they fit into his agenda -- just as he hasn’t mastered the details of the health-care bills or the cap-and-trade bills and the details of any other regulatory and confiscatory legislation he would sign. The details are irrelevant to Obama. As long as the legislation regulates and confiscates, that is fine with him.
American editors and newspaper barons should also heed Hitler’s annoyance with the press as they contemplate rescue by the government from their financial straits. How often has Obama inveighed against the “lies,” “distortions,” and “fishy” information that have appeared in newspapers over the last year? How often has he criticized the right of assembly exercised by Americans to protest his health-care and other coercive legislation, and called such Americans dupes of those lies and distortions? How often has he expressed anger over any degree of opposition to his agenda, an opposition which, whether frank and open or watered down and euphemized in the press, is based on statements and allegations appearing in the press?
Obama cannot but believe that freedom of the press is also a nuisance, that the people have been “poisoned” by it to oppose his agenda, and that the “lies” on which that opposition is founded ought to be punished. (He has hired Cass Sunstein to devise punishment.) How else to explain the opposition, he must ask himself. How could there be any ideology other than his own? Leftist ideology is not so much embedded in him, as he is embedded in it. He sees this country and the world through the prisms of Marx and Alinsky. As his ideology has been propagated and promoted by the Democratic National Committee, with millions of dollars in assistance from organizations such as MoveOn, he cannot imagine that resistance to his agenda could be anything but organized by a coalition of Republicans, “racists,“ and other conspiratorial ogres; that is, he cannot imagine that a large segment of the American population could object to his agenda and ideology and establish their own “correspondence committees” to express their opposition, without any political or moral guidance from the Republicans.
Obama’s idea of a “free press” is to appear on popular talk shows and news analysis programs whose hosts he can count on not to pose questions of any substance. In those public venues, on the White House lawn, in staged press conferences, on the Internet, he is free to spout his agenda and assurances. But he and his handlers (principally Rahm Emanuel, chief of staff) will not brook any back-talk or probing queries. Representative Joe Wilson’s “You lie!” must have shaken him more than either he or his staff of ventriloquists, marionettes and dissemblers will admit. Wilson’s statement was, after all, a truth spoken before a national audience; it exposed a core tactic permissible in practical leftist politics -- that lies are a weapon as a means to the acquisition of power, just as taqiya is a form of Islamic religious dissimulation, by which falsehoods and concealment aimed against non-Muslims are approved by the Koran as a legitimate form of jihad.
The mainstream news media, which includes such periodicals as The New York Times and The Washington Post, and also the three major television networks, would not mind a co-opting by the federal government, as long as the expropriation (and the surrender) was promoted as an “efficiency“ or “consolidation“ move, a la Goebbels, and as long as the various entities retained some nominal independence, but reorganized, according to the proposed agenda, as non-profit organizations. What they choose to advocate, endorse and support now -- which is Obama’s agenda -- would become an obligation.
This leaves Fox News, for the moment, as the Will Kane of the news media, virtually alone in the media in taking on the vengeance-on-America Frank Miller gang of the White House and Congress. Never mind the irony that both conservatives and leftists once claimed High Noon as an allegory (or “metaphor’) for their specific politics. The difference now is that the townsmen are also rallying to protect themselves and their freedom from the Obama gang -- and that gang is socialist in purpose, fascist in practice.
The townsmen are receiving no help from the mainstream news media. The Obama gang they rightly fear and will fight. The MSM they despise.
5 Comments ::
:: Saturday, September 19, 2009 ::
Cass Sunstein: "Czar" in Wolf's Clothing
Posted by Edward Cline at 10:10 AM
In “Reason is Forever” I commented on the phenomenon of liberals, collectivists, and fascist/socialist fellow travelers in the Obama administration endorsing the gagging of anyone who criticizes the administration and its agenda, and wishing to bestow a taxpayer-bought bullhorn on Obama’s propagandists. I also discuss the incremental move to censorship in America in “Censorship by Nickels and Dimes,” “Thought Crime: The Logical End of Politically Correct Speech,” and “The Move Towards Freedomless Speech.”
The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) was recently caught with its curtain drawn open for its role in that effort. Its director of communications, Yosi Sergant, was the facilitator of a teleconference of artists and other “cool people” who had not only benefited from NEA grants, but worked directly or indirectly to elect Obama. The ostensive purpose of the call was to enlist the active support of the invited participants to “sell” the Obama agenda, including the health-care bill, to the public. It took a while for the implications of that “call to arms” to sink into the consciousness of Patrick C. Courrielche, columnist for Big Hollywood, who subsequently, and with some apparent regret, reported the call in detail on the Big Hollywood blog site.
For having violated its nominally apolitical mandate (if it is a creature of politics, how could it be “apolitical”?), the NEA went mum after the whistle-blowing, and the director of communications has been either fired or “reassigned.” His whereabouts are otherwise unknown. Ben Smith, writing for Politico, notes that Sergant was an “outsider from Washington’s careful culture” -- that is, he was a novice in Washington’s culture of stealth and subterfuge and did not absorb the culture quickly enough.
One cannot blame him for the gaucherie. Observe the hubris of Obama and the Democrats in how they propose their blatantly socialist legislation, thinly disguised in populist euphemisms. Why shouldn't Sergant have just emulated the tactics of the White House? But, he obviously had the cooperation or sanction of the White House to conduct the enlistment drive, perhaps with the sage guidance of White House staffer Marion Phillips, who, in an official blog post called “Facts are Stubborn Things” requested that "fishy" criticisms of the administration's plans for health care reform be reported to email@example.com.
Well, Courrielche had the decency to flag the White House and the NEA, instead. Nationally syndicated conservative columnist George Will also reported on the Big Hollywood exposé in “Artists in Harness” and in addition offers a brief critique of the NEA’s anti-esthetic standards (without offering any standards of his own). These NEA beneficiaries, Will notes,
“…are just another servile interest group seeking morsels from the federal banquet. Are they real artists? Sure, because in this egalitarian era, government reasons circularly: Art is whatever an artist says it is, and an artist is whoever produces art….For government today, ‘art’ is a classification so capacious it does not classify.”
Bigger game to bring down than Yosi Sergant is Cass Sunstein, Obama’s most recently appointed “czar,” formally the administrator of the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, which is under the Office of Management and Budget, one of the few “czars” to be confirmed by the Senate. Sunstein, a tenured professor at the University of Chicago Law School, and who is married to Obama foreign policy adviser Samantha Power, began teaching at Harvard Law School in the fall of 2008. That didn’t last long, because he is now on leave from Harvard to pursue the application of his collectivist theories and hypotheses.
Former dean of Harvard Law School and now U.S. Solicitor General Elena Kagan said of Sunstein on the announcement of his going to Harvard:
"Cass Sunstein is the preeminent legal scholar of our time -- the most wide-ranging, the most prolific, the most cited, and the most influential. His work in any one of the fields he pursues -- administrative law and policy, constitutional law and theory, behavioral economics and law, environmental law, to name a non-exhaustive few -- would put him in the very front ranks of legal scholars; the combination is singular and breathtaking."
But, hoist Sunstein out of the swirling maelstrom of his interests, and you find a totalitarian, a "czar" in wolf's clothing. It is no coincidence that Obama, who was a mere “senior lecturer” at the University of Chicago Law School, would find him an appropriate choice to become a regulatory czar, one who can “regulate” just about everything he puts his mind to.
On environmentalism, he is open to persuasion. He argued against the so-called Precautionary Principle about the cost vs. benefit equation in enforcing environmental law, a position that raised the hackles of advocates of environmental crime and which he would be willing to reverse. He argues that animals should be represented in court. Apparently, he hasn’t made up his mind about whether animals should be conveyed the attribute of “personhood” that would allow them to file lawsuits for abuse and cruelty.
Substitute the planet, the environment, and glaciers for animals, and Sunstein‘s reservations would fall like the Maginot Line. One can wonder why such a subject would fascinate Sunstein, but not for long. Individuals fare no better in his legalistic universe, in which ideas just hover in space and orbit no central philosophy.
On the First Amendment and freedom of speech, Sunstein has definite ideas. One of his “New Deals” would be a rewrite of the Constitution to allow for mandatory or compulsory “diversity” of views in virtually every medium of “public” communication, but most especially in television and on radio. In his book, Democracy and the Problem of Free Speech (1995), he argues that that such a rewrite would “reinvigorate the processes of democratic deliberation, by ensuring greater attention to public issues and greater diversity of views.”
In order to attain that goal, which would be the resurrection of the Fairness Doctrine in all but name, he would support the creation of a federal panel of “nonpartisan experts” who would judge whether or not a television or radio station met their diversity criteria. If they did not, one imagines that they would refer the case and the offense to the Federal Communications Commission, which has the power to grant, deny or withdraw licenses to broadcast.
Sunstein proposes also that commercial broadcasters be required to subsidize “public” television or other commercial stations to ensure “less profitable but high-quality programming.” All this regulating and requiring, he asserts, would not violate the “spirit” of the Constitution. One can presume that he doesn’t regard the Sixteenth and Eighteenth Amendments as being in violation of that “spirit.”
Again, one may wonder why he believes “diversity” is necessary. Clearly, the mainstream media are on the side of Obama and his plans to fit the nation for the yoke of servitude. Not even the anchors and shills of ABC, CBS and NBC could boast that ‘diversity” thrives in the MSM. It is only on “renegade” broadcasters such as Fox, and in conservative radio talk shows that “diversity“ is not present, especially when they oppose the Obama and other collectivist agendas. One of Sunstein’s interests, as noted above, is behavioral economics and law, which treats individuals as non-sentient atoms that coagulate into insulated groups, and, as atoms, autonomously make “decisions” that affect the marketplace and politics, and so, society.
This position meshes perfectly with his argument in his 2001 book, Republic.com, that the Internet is dangerous to “democracy” because on the Internet individuals may further choose to ally themselves with groups that reflect their values, and so repel the leveling influence of “diversity.“ This, argues Sunstein, permits individuals to reject information or positions that might challenge their beliefs. Ironclad convictions cannot be allowed. “Rational actors” should be gagged or banished to the fringe of “democracy.” Open-mindedness should be made mandatory, even if it means regulating -- or censoring -- the Internet.
The object of that argument, of course, is not hard-core Democrats or wish-driven liberals, who, when faced with a rational argument against government-run health care, or smoking bans, or government-mandated nutrition guides, or public education, typically shut out reason in what Ayn Rand deemed “blanking out” the truth. In short, it is Sunstein’s political friends and allies who insulate themselves from reason and rationality. If they choose not to think about individual rights, then they cannot exist.
In his 2004 book, The Second Bill of Rights: FDR's Unfinished Revolution and Why We Need It More than Ever, Sunstein advocates a “Second Bill of Rights,” something proposed by Franklin D. Roosevelt in his State of the Union address in January, 1944. Like FDR’s “four freedoms” (introduced in his address to Congress in 1941), these rights include rights to an education, to a home, to health care, and to protection against monopolies, all picked out of the space of floating abstractions.
How to pay for these rights? Taxation. Sunstein is tax happy. In an April 1999 Chicago Tribune Op-Ed he castigated tax “grumblers” on the advantages and virtues of taxation.
“Without taxes there would be no property. Without taxes, few of us would have any assets worth defending….It may be reasonable, in some cases, to cut tax rates. What is unreasonable and, in fact, preposterous is the all-too-familiar conservative rhetoric that flatly opposes individual liberty to the government power to tax and spend. You cannot be for rights and against government because rights are meaningless unless enforced by government…Rights to private property, freedom of speech, immunity from police abuse, contractual liberty, free exercise of religion--just as much as rights to Social Security, Medicare and food stamps--are taxpayer-funded and government-managed social services designed to improve collective and individual well-being…There is no liberty without dependency. That is why we should celebrate tax day. As Oliver Wendell Holmes, the great Supreme Court justice, liked to say, taxes are ‘the price we pay for civilization.’"
Without taxes there would be no property? Which came first? The chicken or the egg? Has Sunstein ever imagined that the purpose of government is to protect rights -- individual rights, not community- or society- or government-bequeathed rights -- not to “enforce” them? Perhaps. If he had, he rejected the idea. Note that his idea of rights includes what could only be called government-created entitlements, such as Social Security, Medicare, and food stamps. If it can be argued that rights originate anywhere but in the nature of man as a being of volitional consciousness responsible for his own life and happiness, then, of course, these “rights” can be “enforced” by government. Therefore, the government owns the chicken and the egg, and the individual is merely a “steward” of property that somehow originates in government coercion acting for “society.” Sunstein makes no distinction between them.
Sunstein’s position was better articulated in an April 2005 blog entry in connection with a Yale University conference, “The Constitution in 2020,” whose subject was the United States in the 21st century and how it should define itself. What should not be conceded at the conference, he suggested, was any notion that the Constitution should be regarded as an absolute defender of individual rights and liberty. An “absolutist” position on them is a natural enemy of “democratic deliberation.” He warned that in debate:
I will be urging that it is important to resist, on democratic grounds, the idea that the document should be interpreted to reflect the view of the extreme right-wing of the Republican Party. This idea, sometimes masquerading under the name of originalism or strict construction, represents a form of judicial hubris; it is bad history and bad law. It should be exposed and rejected as such.
Sunstein’s chief danger is his confessed ambition to be a de facto censor, or, as Ayn Rand characterized such a person in Atlas Shrugged, an intellectual cop. He would be perfect for the role. It is little wonder that Obama nominated him for the office, given the president’s own attempts to stifle freedom of speech and his wish for critics to not “do a lot of talking.”
Cass Sunstein, for all his academic credentials and books, is just another member of the Chicago-Beltway wolf pack. Hear them yelp and howl for "democracy."
13 Comments ::
:: Wednesday, September 16, 2009 ::
The Perilous Ambiguities in the Constitution
Posted by Edward Cline at 12:49 PM
The rectangle of light in the acres of a farm was the window of the library of Judge Narragansett. He sat at a table, and the light of his lamp fell on the copy of an ancient document. He had marked and crossed out the contradictions in its statements that had once been the cause of its destruction. He was now adding a new clause to its pages: “Congress shall make no law abridging the freedom of production and trade….”*
Writing about the presumption and power of Congress to enact health-care legislation, Andrew P. Napolitano in his Wall Street Journal article “Health-Care Reform and the Constitution” (Sept. 15) states unambiguously that the power is non-existent -- that is, that the power is not one of the enumerated powers granted to Congress. It is irrelevant, he states, that politicians, and even the Supreme Court, believe that the term regulate means control of the movement or existence of commodities and services via taxation, quotas, or any other species of interventionism across state lines or within them.
Napolitano limits his article to the subject of health insurance and why it is not “regulated” by Congress. He notes that all fifty states prohibit the sale of such insurance across state lines, e.g., a company or broker domiciled and licensed in Virginia being prohibited from selling policies in Maryland, unless the company is also domiciled and licensed in Maryland to sell much the same product. He then holds forth the specter of Congress simply nationalizing or socializing the whole business and “regulating” it on federal terms by making health insurance compulsory, with the ultimate “single payer” bureaucracy domiciled in Washington.
He opens his article with an interesting and revealing exchange he had with a South Carolina representative, whom he challenged to show him where in the Constitution the power was granted to the government to regulate the delivery of health care.
He replied: "There's nothing in the Constitution that says that the federal government has anything to do with most of the stuff we do." Then he shot back: "How about [you] show me where in the Constitution it prohibits the federal government from doing this?"
Well, that would be an easy task, notes Napolitano, referring to the Ninth and Tenth Amendments and to the enumerated powers granted to Congress. Napolitano, however, was dealing with a thuggish mentality that will not be stopped by words that restrict his power to legislate any kind of “stuff” that comes to his mind. The former Superior Court judge argues for Congress to “regulate” the sale of health care insurance by prohibiting the states from controlling its sale across state lines (in the interests of free trade), perhaps on the premise that such an action would give Congress less of an excuse to nationalize health care. While this is a laudable aim, and certainly consistent with the intent -- or, rather, a rational understanding -- of the commerce clause, it overlooks the broader issue, which is the language itself.
The two most destructive phrases in the Constitution are destructive, not because they explicitly or intentionally contradict the principles underlying the document’s wording and otherwise explicit language, but because they are arguably ill- or undefined, and, to later generations of scholars and jurists, ambiguous and open to “interpretation.” Their ambiguity later permitted contradictory amendments to the Constitution together with legislation that all but rendered the Constitution a dead document, giving leave to presidents and Congress over the decades to advocate and enact a mammoth, costly, and liberty-destroying mountain of “stuff.”
These phrases are general welfare and regulate commerce.
Britannica cites “commerce clause” in the Constitution and the presumption and power in Article I, section 8:
“To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with Indian Tribes.”
And then makes this bald but true statement: “It is the legal foundation of much of the U.S. government’s regulatory authority.” Legal? Yes. Moral? No.
Concerning the “general welfare” clause, the Preamble of the Constitution reads:
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.
The Cato Journal notes:
Article I, section 8 of the Constitution confers upon Congress certain enumerated powers and a potentially more sweeping authority to provide for the general welfare, a goal also set forth in the Preamble. For proponents of a limited central government, the General Welfare Clause has been a source of great mischief. Interpreted elastically by constitutionalists of the "living document" persuasion, the Clause has helped serve up a gourmand’s feast of government programs, regulations, and intrusions that would have been unimaginable to the Framers. [Italics mine.)
I stressed elastically because better minds were not so elastic in their positions on the clause. Thomas Jefferson, for example, expressed his doubts about the meaning of “general welfare”:
“[T]he laying of taxes is the power, and the general welfare the purpose for which the power is to be exercised. They [Congress] are not to lay taxes ad libitum for any purpose they please; but only to pay the debts or provide for the welfare of the Union. In like manner, they are not to do anything they please to provide for the general welfare, but only to lay taxes for that purpose.“ [Writings of Thomas Jefferson ,Library Edition, 1904, 147–149.]
The clause, in short, notes the Cornell Law site, “is not an independent grant of power, but a qualification of the taxing power.” But, is it a “qualification of the taxing power” of Congress? Neither Jefferson nor any of his contemporaries go on to discuss the precise meaning of the phrase “general welfare.” That meaning has been a point of contention for over two hundred years, but a succession of statists in Congress has taken advantage of its ambiguity to lay taxes and enact regulations ad libitum for any purpose the South Carolina representative and his political ancestors and contemporaries have pleased.
James Madison, writing about the objects embraced by the power, noted that:
“no state be at liberty to impose duties on any goods, wares, or merchandise, imported by land or by water, from any other state, but may altogether prohibit the importation from any state of any particular species or description of goods, wares, or merchandise, of which the importation is at the same time prohibited from all other places whatsoever.” [Madison’s resolution for empowering Congress to regulate trade, November 30, 1785]
Jefferson weighed in with:
“To make a thing which may be bought and sold is not to prescribe regulations for buying and selling. Besides, if this were an exercise of the power of regulating commerce, it would be void, as extending as much to the internal commerce of every state, as to its external.”
The Constitution site remarks, referring the best dictionary available to the Founders:
Samuel Johnson's dictionary defined "to regulate" as "1. To adjust by rule or method ... 2. To direct." This definition is supported by Chief Justice Marshall's noted description of the power to regulate as the power "to prescribe the rule by which commerce is to be governed." Chief Justice Melville Fuller later reiterated a similar formulation: "The power to regulate commerce is the power to prescribe the rule by which commerce shall be governed." This formulation suggests that the aim of "regulation" must be limited to the governance of commerce, although Supreme Court jurisprudence is not uniform on this topic.
Edward Banfield (1916 – 1999), a political scientist, argued that the attempt to define the outer limits of national power, as Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution does, was likely a flawed enterprise, doomed to failure from the very beginning:
Nothing of importance can be done to stop the spread of federal power, let alone to restore something like the division of powers agreed upon by the framers of the Constitution. The reason lies in human nature: men cannot be relied upon voluntarily to abide by their agreements, including those upon which their political order depends. There is an antagonism, amounting to an incompatibility, between popular government — meaning government in accordance with the will of the people — and the maintenance of limits on the sphere of government.
Banfield blamed human nature, surely what the drafters of the Constitution had in mind, for eventual federal encroachments on individual freedom. But, half the blame can be laid to the ambiguity of the term regulate, and also to the clause general welfare.
Again, the term regulate is employed ambiguously. Did Marshall, Madison, Jefferson, and others mean that it empowered the government to regulate commerce through taxation or by quotas or by some other mode of intervention? Or did they imply the establishment of objective law, by which free trade among individuals and corporations would be protected from intervention? This ambiguity has never been resolved.
What was the purpose of the commerce clause? The Father of the Constitution, Madison, wrote the following:
"Yet it is very certain that it grew out of the abuse of the power by the importing States in taxing the non-importing, and was intended as a negative and preventive provision against injustice among the States themselves, rather than as a power to be used for the positive purposes of the General Government, in which alone, however, the remedial power could be lodged." - Letter to Cabell, February 13, 1829.
But Congress has arbitrarily assumed the “remedial power” not only to “reform” health care but to “regulate” virtually every other realm of human activity in the United States. The solution to that “remedial power” is to dislodge it from Congress.
Joseph Story (1779-1845), Supreme Court justice and protégé of John Marshall, expressed the conflict succinctly in his Commentaries on the Constitution of the United States (1833):
Agriculture, colonies, capital, machinery, the wages of labour, the profits of stock, the rents of land, the punctual performance of contracts, and the diffusion of knowledge would all be within the scope of the power; for all of them bear an intimate relation to commerce. The result would be, that the powers of congress would embrace the widest extent of legislative functions, to the utter demolition of all constitutional boundaries between the state and national governments. [Book 3, Chapter 15, § 1075.]
Story might have added, but unfortunately did not include in his warning, the demolition of all constitutional boundaries between government and the individual. This is an instance of how an ambiguity in crucial language can become perilous and destructive, even in the most well-intentioned and cogent statements. This is also why I have trouble granting credibility to statements such as that found on the Campaign for Liberty site, which is written from a sense of certitude, but not from a certainty that could be validated by subjecting it to rational scrutiny and explication:
Far from granting Congress the power to create the massive regulatory, central economic planning, nearly limitless government in which we live today... the Commerce Clause was intended to be a restriction on States, not a positive grant of power to Congress at all! Why then is it under "Powers of Congress"? Simple, the federal government has the power to resolve trade disputes among the states and essentially provide for free trade among the states. Perhaps no clause in the Constitution has been so perverted as the Interstate Commerce Clause.
Even though I would like to agree with that statement, I could not say with any conviction that this is what the commerce clause, or even the general welfare clause, means or that this is what the Founders meant and intended -- not without precise definitions of general welfare and regulate. Those two terms have been bonded together by statists into a poisonous, amphioxus sanction by collectivists and other enemies of freedom to the detriment of freedom.
What is needed is a Judge Narragansett to scour the Constitution and correct its debilitating and destructive amendments and to define its language with exactitude, so that a government instituted among men may better and absolutely “secure these rights” to the freedom of production and trade -- including the trade in health care, health care insurance, and every other voluntary transaction among individuals. Then, perhaps, predatory creatures like Napolitano’s South Carolina congressman would not dare contemplate -- indeed, he would be prohibited from -- abridging our rights and reducing our liberties with “stuff.”
*From Atlas Shrugged, p. 1168. New York: Dutton 35th Anniversary Edition.
10 Comments ::
:: Saturday, September 12, 2009 ::
Republicans: Ready to Embrace Freedom?
Posted by Edward Cline at 8:05 AM
Or to help Obama and the Democrats shoplift it?
Writing about the Republican Party's ambivalent attraction to the Tea Party movement, Dan Eggen and Perry Bacon Jr.‘s September 12th column in The Washington Post, “GOP Sees Protest As an Opportunity,” attaches more importance to today's march and protest than liberals would like to concede. What follows here is an expansion of my comments left on the Post comment page.
With tens of thousands of conservative protesters expected to gather in Washington on Saturday for a "Taxpayer March on D.C.," Republican officials are attempting to capitalize on a movement that lately has galvanized anti-Obama activists more effectively than the party's elected leaders in Washington.
Taking into account the usual vitriolic, name-calling, emotionalist comments posted here by welfare state advocates, I have this to say about Eggen and Bacon Jr.'s article: While it is the least biased piece I've seen in the Post concerning the Tea Partiers in a long while, it is still a tad slanted and inaccurate in its content.
First, the authors confess that, low and behold, the Tea Partiers are not a conspiracy cooked up by the Republican Party and insurance companies, as many Democrats have charged. They are "a loose-knit coalition of groups that helped to organize health-care protests...and anti-tax rallies in the spring." The authors might have also mentioned that tens of thousands of these "mobsters" were Americans who carried signs and asked inconvenient questions of their representatives at town hall meetings of their own volition, without being asked or prompted by anyone else, moved by their own anger and concerns.
If the Republicans were truly the culprits behind these "rowdy hooligans," why are they, on the one hand, eager to "embrace" them, and, on the other, afraid to? Eggen and Bacon Jr. attempt to answer that question, but fail to shed any light on that anxiety.
Eggen and Bacon Jr. write:
Searching for ways to compete with Democrats after two consecutive electoral drubbings, Republicans have moved past earlier uncertainty about the protesters, who organized nationwide rallies this summer that have threatened Democratic health-care plans and eroded President Obama's standing with the public.
Yes, those rallies have contributed to the threat against Democratic health-care plans, and moved many Republicans to dig in their heels over the bill’s costs and intrusive nature. That tactic, however, is but disputing the details of slavery, but not the slavery itself. And, as three articles have pointed out, the protesters did not “erode” President Obama’s standing with the public. He accomplished that himself. John Lewis of Duke University in The Objective Standard, Dorothy Rabinowitz of The Wall Street Journal, and Geoffrey P. Hunt in an article in American Thinker, address the phenomena of Obama’s plummeting fortunes in all matters from three unique perspectives. Lewis, however, makes the most salient observation. Noting the Republicans’ failure to oppose the Democratic agenda over the decades, he writes:
Republicans should have brought forward a positive, principled alternative to the statist trend years ago. They failed. Obama has now done the job for them. He has presented the stark alternative from the other side, by specifying and demanding a comprehensive agenda that carries no pretense of individual liberty. He has created an alarming sense of urgency by demanding that this agenda be made into law now. [Italics mine.]
There may be "tens of thousands of conservative protesters" in the DC march, but also tens of thousands of independents and former Obama supporters who are, at the very least, literally disenchanted with their former idol.
Eggen and Bacon Jr. write:
Mark McKinnon, a former adviser to Sen. John McCain (Ariz.) and other Republicans, said there is an "opportunity for Republicans" to tap into legitimate fears about an overreaching federal government. But he said that "right-wing nutballs are aligning themselves with these movements" and are dominating media coverage. "It's bad for Republicans because in the absence of any real leadership, the freaks fill the void and define the party," McKinnon said.
Freaks? Right-wing nutballs? Eggen and Bacon Jr. could have mentioned that Sam Adams was considered "rowdy" and a "troublemaker," while Patrick Henry's Stamp Act Resolves of 1765 contained, according to the conservatives of his day, language too "violent" and "disrespectful." Revolutions are not made by meek, humble milquetoasts afraid to take a stand on crucial issues and who settled for a tsk-tsk against Joe Wilson for stating a truth. To paraphrase Henry: If I am a freakish nutball, then I shall make the most of it, because you, Mr. McKinnon, stand for nothing but compromise and cowardice.
The authors report that "Some protesters this year have loudly disrupted community meetings, brought guns to Obama events and likened the president to Adolf Hitler,” and that
…top Republican strategists and many party observers also worry about the impact that the most extreme protesters might have on the party's image, including those who carry swastika signs or obsess over the veracity of Obama's Hawaiian birth.
And? Never mind that the authors neglect to mention that in 2004, George W. Bush was vilified by Democratic protesters sporting offensive signs that likened him to Hitler and worse, and who also disrupted political rallies and community meetings. Unlike the “loose coalition of groups,” those disruptions were organized by Democratic Party proxies.
Guns? The only reported instance of someone bringing a gun to a rally was deliberately misreported by MSNBC. The person who appeared at the rally, at which Obama was scheduled to speak, was characterized by the network as a crazy, gun-toting racist, when it was a black man who opposes Obama’s and Congress’s health care legislation. Obama’s Hawaiian birth? If this is so bogus and desperate a charge, why has not Obama addressed the issue and laid it to rest?
Eggen and Bacon Jr. must agree, however, that try as he might, Bush could never have aspired to be like Hitler even if he tried. He had neither the “charisma” nor the rhetorical skills. And, are the authors so clueless that they could not see that Obama's tactics and rhetoric these last six months -- never mind during the 2008 campaign -- are too "Hitlerian" for words? His charisma and rhetoric still seduce the devoted and those who judge issues by their emotions, while they repel anyone with a definable sense of self and self-worth.
In an attempt to portray the typical Tea Partier as mentally unbalanced, Eggen and Bacon Jr. report:
One blogger who writes regularly for Freedomworks, Ross Kaminsky of Boulder, Colo., compared Obama's Tuesday address to U.S. schoolchildren to the tactics of Mao Zedong, Joseph Stalin, Pol Pot and other murderous dictators. "Totalitarians of all stripes put great emphasis on brainwashing the young, and Obama is no exception," he wrote on the group's Web site under the name "rossputin."
Ross Kaminsky is right: although the authors try to paint him and his words in a bad light, Obama's address to school children was the ruse of a nascent totalitarian to capture the minds and loyalty of those children. See my article, “Obama: Seducer of the Young.”
Eggen and Bacon Jr. write:
At the event on Thursday, activists shouted "Liar!" at the mention of Obama's name, just hours after GOP leaders had condemned Rep. Joe Wilson (R-S.C.) for a similar outburst during Obama's speech to Congress the evening before. Protesters also shouted "No more czars!" -- a reference to a line of conservative attack on administration appointments that has emerged from Beck's show.
So, the authors are conceding that the protesters are no longer “mobsters” or “hooligans,” but activists? What a change of tune! The authors could have dwelt on the “No more czars” outburst, asking the question of why Obama has circumvented Senate confirmation proceedings for these unelected and wholly unconstitutional satraps, and why the protesters oppose them so much. But, they did not ask that question.
There is much more that can be said about Eggen and Bacon Jr.'s article. But they miss the point as much as do the anxious Republicans. The Republicans have got to shape up -- that is, think -- and stand for what their party name connotes: Champions of individual rights, the separation of not only church and state, but of the economy and state, of freedom of speech, and the right of individuals to live their own lives free of government interference and guidance.
Focusing on Republican hand-wringing over the protests, Eggen and Bacon Jr. report:
"It is good to see that there are some Republican elected officials, especially people from Congress right now, who are paying attention to us and interested in what we're doing," said Jenny Beth Martin of Atlanta, a national coordinator for Tea Party Patriots who was previously active in GOP politics in Georgia. "But there's a sense of distrust among many people who have considered themselves Republicans in the past. When they were in the majority and were in the White House, they squandered that opportunity."
Given Republican behavior in the past, especially in Republican endorsement of policies that differ little from Obama’s except in their scope, that distrust is legitimate. American eyes are opening to the fraud and deceit practiced by both parties, and today’s protest is a rejection in toto of those shared policies, fraud and deceit. Will the Republicans grasp that fact? Or will they evade their collective guilt and squander an opportunity to redeem themselves by siding in toto with the 9/12 Tea Party?
Anything less than an across-the-board commitment to freedom would be a cruel fraud, just as Bush and the Republicans posing (and accused by Democrats) as advocates of free enterprise was a fraud and a hoax. Without committing themselves to the fundamental principles adhered to and implemented by the Founders, the Republicans may as well not bother trying to "embrace" today's protests.
6 Comments ::
:: Thursday, September 10, 2009 ::
Reason is Forever
Posted by Edward Cline at 6:14 PM
Liberals are now awakening to the evidence that President Barack Obama and his web of cronies, pull-peddlers, appointees and assorted parasites -- that alliance of the Chicago and Beltway Gangs -- are planning to move in on freedom of speech with every intention of “modifying” it so that it means only what the government wants it to mean. And some are worried that current restrictions on the First Amendment might be “modified” or even reversed and declared unconstitutional, specifically McCain-Feingold, which governs corporate spending on election campaign ads, and other anti-freedom of speech rulings such as Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, in which a movie, “Hillary: The Movie,” made by an anti-Clinton group, fell under the strictures of McCain-Feingold. A three-judge FEC “court” ruled against an appeal by the group to challenge the Court’s decision.
McCain-Feingold is “a federal enactment designed to prevent ‘big money’ from unfairly influencing federal elections-which, among other things, prohibits corporate financing of ‘electioneering communications’ and imposes mandatory disclosure and disclaimer requirements on such communications.”
Robert Barnes, in a Washington Post article of September 8, “Reversal of Precedents at Issue,” complains that the Supreme Court, under Chief Justice John G. Roberts, may well “defy the decisions of Congress and to set aside its own precedents.”
This raises ageless questions about the role of stare decisis -- the court’s custom of standing by its previous decisions. But it also raises new ones about the boldness of a court that has moved to the right with the addition of Roberts and Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr.
It seems that while liberals are all for trashing customs and traditions in the march to an egalitarian, collectivist society -- not to mention reason and justice -- some traditions become sacred to them if the trashing or violation jeopardizes the advances of the collectivists. Thus, Barnes’s worry that the precedent of the Supreme Court upholding McCain-Feingold in December 2003 may in turn be subjected to an unprecedented volte-face. Justices Roberts, Alito, Antonin Scalia, Anthony M. Kennedy, and Clarence Thomas could well be the majority that reverses the Citizens United v. FEC and McConnell v. FEC rulings.
[For details concerning these and other McCain-Feingold and FEC-related cases, see The Campaign Finance Institute here.]
“Overruling Austin or McConnell in this case would be unwarranted and unseemly,” former solicitor general Seth P. Waxman told the court on behalf of McCain and other congressional sponsors. “Stare decisis requires respect for precedents absent a special justification for overruling tem. No such justification exists.”
Unwarranted? Unseemly? What old-fashioned terms! They sound almost “Republican.“
Yes, such a justification exists -- the First Amendment -- but no Supreme Court justice will cite it without paragraphs of rationalistic legal babble, or at least understand, adhere to, and expound its absoluteness: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances. The language is clear; that is justification enough.
The Court was wrong to uphold McCain-Feingold. It ought to have declared it unconstitutional at the first opportunity and in the strongest terms in December 2003. That was a precedent that should never have been made, and which should be corrected now-- in the strongest terms. But, we should not count on Chief Justice Roberts et al. to rule absolutely in upholding the First Amendment. Rationalizations and procedural niceties, going by their past decisions, will likely befog or obstruct their thinking.
On the other side of the freedom of speech coin is the issue of an attempt by the administration to co-opt the National Endowment for the Arts as a branch of the White House and convert it into a Joseph Goebbels-style Ministry of Propaganda (or as an American style, Orwellian Ministry of Truth). This development has given liberals painful stomach flutters, especially in those who campaigned for Obama.
It is a little too late for them to worry about the encroachment now. If they believed in and endorsed Obama’s campaign promises to undertake a radical “change” of the country to unadulterated socialism, they should have realized that it meant the “socialization” of everything, including art, which is protected by the First Amendment. One wonders why artists and writers believe themselves exempt from the slavery and servitude they advocate should be imposed on everyone else.
On August 25, Patrick C. Courrielche, columnist for Big Hollywood, reported on an unusual but unreported teleconference that occurred on August 5.
On Thursday August 6th, I was invited by the National Endowment for the Arts to attend a conference call scheduled for Monday August 10th hosted by the NEA, the White House Office of Public Engagement, and United We Serve. The call would include “a group of artists, producers, promoters, organizers, influencers, marketers, taste-makers, leaders or just plain cool people to join together and work together to promote a more civically engaged America and celebrate how the arts can be used for a positive change!”
Courrielche goes on to reveal:
The people running the conference call and rallying the group to get active on these issues were Yosi Sergant, the Director of Communications for the National Endowment for the Arts; Buffy Wicks, Deputy Director of the White House Office of Public Engagement; Nell Abernathy, Director of Outreach for United We Serve; Thomas Bates, Vice President of Civic Engagement for Rock the Vote; and Michael Skolnik, Political Director for Russell Simmons.
We were encouraged to bring the same sense of enthusiasm to these “focus areas” as we had brought to Obama’s presidential campaign, and we were encouraged to create art and art initiatives that brought awareness to these issues. Throughout the conversation, we were reminded of our ability as artists and art professionals to “shape the lives” of those around us. The now famous Obama “Hope” poster, created by artist Shepard Fairey and promoted by many of those on the phone call, and will.i.am’s “Yes We Can” song and music video were presented as shining examples of our group’s clear role in the election.
Courrielche expresses his qualms and reservations about this event, which went mostly unreported by the MSM. In a follow-up to his column, he writes that it is doubtful that the NEA’s action has any legal basis for such recruitment, and reports further that when its role in the White House teleconference was revealed, the NEA denied any responsibility, and fobbed off that responsibility on a “third party.”
Courrielche believes in the existence of the NEA. He will not question the rightness of its existence. Government, he believes, has a responsibility to support and encourage the arts. So, he wonders:
The NEA is the nation’s largest annual funder of the arts. That is right, the largest funder of the arts in the nation – a fact that I’m sure was not lost on those that were on the call, including myself. One of the NEA’s major functions is providing grants to artists and arts organizations. The NEA has also historically shown the ability to attract “matching funds” for the art projects and foundations that they select. So we have the nation’s largest arts funder, which is a federal agency staffed by the administration, with those that they potentially fund together on a conference call discussing taking action on issues under vigorous national debate. Does there appear to be any potential for conflict here?
Yes, there is a major conflict of interest here: taxpayers coerced into paying for the “free expression” of dependent writers and artists. They must be satisfied with being involuntary donors to sustain the country’s “culture.“ But, this is the government calling in its loans and markers. He and his subsidized colleagues in the arts benefited from the looting of other taxpayers. He protests too much:
I’m not a “right-wing nut job.” It just goes against my core beliefs to sit quietly while the art community is used by the NEA and the administration to push an agenda other than the one for which it was created. It is not within the National Endowment for the Arts’ original charter to initiate, organize, and tap into the art community to help bring awareness to health care, or energy & environmental issues for that matter; and especially not at a time when it is being vehemently debated. Artists shouldn’t be used as tools of the state to help create a climate amenable to their positions, which is what appears to be happening in this instance. If the art community wants to tackle those issues on its own then fine. But tackling them shouldn’t come as an encouragement from the NEA to those they potentially fund at this coincidental time.
It is hardly “coincidental” that the NEA would become a party to the current White House plan to bombard Americans with leftist propaganda. It was in the cards. It does not occur to Courrielche that taxpayers should not be used as tools of the state to promote the careers of writers and artists, whatever the degree of their competence or lack of it.
And if you think that my fear regarding the arts becoming a tool of the state is still unfounded, I leave you with a few statements made by the NEA to the art community participants on the conference call. “This is just the beginning. This is the first telephone call of a brand new conversation. We are just now learning how to really bring this community together to speak with the government. What that looks like legally?…bare [sic] with us as we learn the language so that we can speak to each other safely… “
Safely? Isn’t that the first concern of a thief contemplating a crime? Of a bureaucrat “overreaching” his mandate, as Courrielche puts it? Isn’t usage of that term indicative of a mind habituated to felony? He ought to have known better. He was a former employee of the NEA and learned first-hand that since political pull governs who gets how much in taxpayer money to “support the arts,” it cannot be limited to that species of theft. When all the stops have been removed, as they have been throughout Obama’s administration, the practice will necessarily expand into other realms of political action.
Including drafting writers and artists into a White House-directed propaganda blitz to persuade Americans that the administration means no harm and that its goals are benign and glorious. The White House and the NEA do not give a fig about Courrielche’s “core beliefs.” They are irrelevant to power-lusters. You ate my bread. Now, sing my song. Or you get no more donuts. That is the message of the benefactors to the beneficiaries.
The Supreme Court should never have upheld McCain-Feingold. And Patrick Courrielche and his colleagues should never have taken government money to subsidize their careers, nor endorsed any government program that did. Robert Barnes is fearful that a modicum of reason might move the Court to reverse its stand on the selective censorship of McCain-Feingold. Courrielche, also allowing a quantum of reason to stir his own fears, is concerned that Obama, together with the NEA, is out to corrupt the integrity of tax-supported artists in whom integrity never existed.
Neither Barnes, nor the Supreme Court, nor Courrielche has ever grasped that reason is forever -- it is the indispensable means of man for his survival and happiness -- and that it cannot be discarded or evaded, in the short term or the long term. It will ultimately overtake and dispel the illusion that it can be dispensed with.
Speaking of freedom of speech, something moved Joe Wilson, Republican representative from South Carolina who has opposed the health care bill, to shout “You lie!” to Obama on September 9th as he addressed a joint session of Congress to plead for passage of the health care bill. Obama had just claimed that illegal immigrants would not be eligible for government-run health care insurance. He replied, “That’s not true.“ Well, why should anyone believe what Obama says is true or untrue? Wilson was immediately condemned by Democrats and Republicans for the “outburst.” Wilson should not be condemned, nor should he have apologized.
One newspaper reported that “Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi directed a fierce frown at him…Vice President Joe Biden looked down and shook his head….” But, in the CNN video, which can be seen here, Vice President Joe Biden and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi glance sharply in the direction of Wilson -- like a pair of liars surprised in the act and their expressions full of malice for the person who surprised them.
One may ask: Wasn’t Wilson’s outburst disrespectful, unwarranted and unseemly? Hardly. How else was he to call to the country’s attention with any drama that the whole health care bill is a lie, and that Obama and Congressional supporters of it have lied about it from the very beginning? Wilson chose to not sit quietly while the President of the United States lied, and while his fellow Congressmen sanctioned what they knew was a lie with their silence.
In the face of falsehood, and in the presence of a falsifier, decorum and respect should be one's last concern.
Perhaps Wilson, too, grasped for a moment that reason is forever.
2 Comments ::
:: Tuesday, September 08, 2009 ::
Objectivist charged with corrupting the youth
Posted by Nicholas Provenzo at 9:09 AM
Dan Edge, an Objectivist activist living in Greenville, South Carolina was arrested over the weekend by the Greenville police. Mr. Edge's crime, you ask? Nothing less than contributing to the delinquency of a minor. Edge was protesting the Greenville City Council's recent enactment of an "emergency" 10PM curfew for minors, a law that Edge says curtails the freedom of the peaceable in supposed answer to the crimes committed by the un-peaceable.
According to Edge, such freedom was an important part of his development:
Along with many other Greenville natives, I was greatly enriched by experiences, conversations, and new friends discovered in downtown Greenville – some even after (gasp!) 10pm on a weekend night – and I never committed a crime or created a nuisance there. These experiences enriched my life and contributed to making me into the cultured, responsible adult I am today. It would be a great shame to take that same opportunity away from responsible young men and women, especially in a time when Greenville is becoming more and more a rich source of southern culture.And thus Edge's Saturday evening protest against the curfew, which went fine until a departing minor had the audacity to say "Thank You" to Edge after the 10PM hour, a crime that led to Edge's arrest (Edge provides a detailed narrative of his arrest here.)
What does Greenville have next in store for Mr. Edge? Hemlock perhaps? Socrates would be proud, but we should be appalled.
0 Comments ::
Barack Obama: Seducer of the Young
Posted by Edward Cline at 5:05 AM
A very brief but important article on the fundamental purpose of the health care bill is circulating and with which President Barack Obama and his cadre of communist and pinkish radicals, czars and advisors would agree with nods of approval, and which most Democrats would endorse, had they but the nerve. President Barack Obama will soon plead with Congress to stop dragging its collective feet over “non-essential“ and “distracting” aspects of the “reform” bill, such as its astronomical cost and its usurpation of the right of Americans to reject it, and just pass the damned thing. “The Real Meaning of Health Care Reform” makes this crucial but neglected point:
The primary goal of health care "reform" is the enactment of the legal basis for totalitarianism. So many of the provisions of the health care bill, to a close reading, set a precedent for government control of every single basis of our lives -- health care or not.
That’s it. If the government expropriates the health care realm in any style, shape or form-- no matter how watered down the bill is, if it is reduced from 1,600 pages to merely 400, if it focuses on controlling expenditures and not on choice, if it gives one a temporary but penalized option other than the “public option,” the fancy trimmings are all irrelevant -- it will automatically grant the government the legal power over one’s body and it will govern all actions one might take to sustain it. It needn’t be named after Senator Ted Kennedy to be a nullification of one’s right to live for one’s own sake.
The Crown’s Stamp Act of 1765 had an unchallenged legal basis, dating back to 1650: the will and power of Parliament to legislate for the British colonies. This Act was repealed exactly a year after its passage, as a consequence of violent opposition to it in the colonies, but the repeal was accompanied by the Declaratory Act, which asserted that Parliament retained “the full power and authority to make laws and statutes of sufficient force and validity to bind the colonies and people of America, subjects of the Crown of Great Britain, in all cases whatsoever.”
Few colonists paid the attention to the Declaratory Act it deserved. Most were celebrating their victory over Parliament. A few regarded it as Parliament’s peevish, ill-mannered means of saving face after a humiliating defeat. But it was a loaded gun. Parliament passed it, ergo it had a legal basis.
In short, the Crown said: You may have won this round, but, nevertheless, we own you, “in all cases whatsoever.”
Obama’s broadcast speech to the nation’s schools complements that totalitarian purpose. The text of it, if Obama sticks to the script, is, on the surface, a yawner. Many a student will feel a desire to nod off. The speech can be faulted only for its patronizing banality. But, as one blogger noted: “It’s not the speech, it’s the subtext.” And subtext there is, very subtly woven throughout Obama’s innocuous blandishments to study hard and to mind what adults say. The subtext declares: I own you. Or, rather, we, the state, own you. This point was made last week in the “I Pledge” video as a prefatory note to America’s school children.
Of course, many newspaper columnists are wondering why the speech is being attacked and called propagandistic. They don’t understand what the hue and cry are about. After all, didn’t Ronald Reagan and George Bush address school children? But, the subtext is invisible to them, or they see nothing wrong with it.
Here are instances of the subtext, and one major gaffe.
Maybe you could be a mayor or a Senator or a Supreme Court Justice, but you might not know that until you join student government or the debate team. (Paragraph 13.)
I can think of numerous mayors, Senators and Supreme Court Justices -- including a few Presidents -- who didn’t know about the Constitution, or who dismissed it as being as antiquated as a Babylonian law tablet, but that never stopped them from becoming what they are. That’s the gaffe. But, on to the subtext.
What you’re learning in school today will determine whether we as a nation can meet our greatest challenges in the future. (Paragraph 15.)
Which challenges? Fill in the blanks, children. It’s a multiple choice question. But stick to the choices we give you. My friend Professor Bill Ayers has drawn up a list, in consultation with my many czars and advisors. But never forget that we are a nation, and we must all pull together to meet those challenges.
We need every single one of you to develop your talents, skills and intellect so you can help solve our most difficult problems. If you don’t do that -- if you quit on school -- you’re not just quitting on yourself, you’re quitting on your country. (Paragraph 17.)
Which difficult problems? Again, fill in the blanks, and choose from Professor Ayers’ list. If you quit on us, it means that you see a conflict between our goals and yours. That would be a selfish thing to do. Fulfillment can be found in selfless service to your country.
And even when you’re struggling, even when you’re discouraged, and you feel like other people have given up on you - don’t ever give up on yourself. Because when you give up on yourself, you give up on your country. (Paragraph 38.)
If you give up on yourself, you become useless to your country and a needless charge to society. Then we must and will determine your future as a servant of the state. If you don’t want us to tell you what to do and when and why, then do as we say.
So today, I want to ask you, what’s your contribution going to be? What problems are you going to solve? What discoveries will you make? What will a president who comes here in twenty or fifty or one hundred years say about what all of you did for this country? (Paragraph 41.)
We expect you to make selfless contributions to the country, regardless of what careers you choose to follow. How would you be able to live with yourself, knowing that you did everything for yourself, and not for your country? You are but a cell of society, and society expects your best, and for you to give back to it. Remember what a great president once said: “Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.” That is all I am asking of you, too.
Contradicting the subtext is this statement:
Where you are right now doesn’t have to determine where you’ll wind up. No one’s written your destiny for you. Here in America, you write your own destiny. You make your own future. (Paragraph 24.)
Come again? Or must the future I make for myself first be vetted by the state? That’s what brighter students might ask of the President. He would have no answer for them, and might ask whoever on his staff wrote that statement what the hell he meant by it.
If the adults won’t listen, go after the kids. Can you think of a better way to inculcate the character of totalitarian servitude and obeisance in children than this speech? Of making seductive enlistment in the Obama Youth or Ayers’ New Pioneers? Of having children believe from the start of their lives that the government has a right to control ever single basis of their lives, and that this is a moral norm?
If you wanted better proof of how Obama, his cadre in the White House, his appointees, and the Democrats in Congress want to own Americans “in all cases whatsoever,” read a transcript of Obama’s speech, and watch the video. Judge for yourself. His speech is an invitation to children to become moral monsters.
For years I have kept a page from The New York Times. It features a teen-aged Bill Clinton shaking hands with JFK. It is a symbol, not so much of a generational link, but of a philosophical link, of the passing on of the political torch of statism and collectivism. Now we have Barack Obama reaching out to shake hands with another generation.
This has got to stop. And if Americans have any kind of duty to their country, that is what they must stop. For their own sakes, and for the sake of their children.
4 Comments ::
:: Saturday, September 05, 2009 ::
Barack Obama: Heil Headmaster!
Posted by Edward Cline at 7:11 PM
Someone else may have said it first: When the adults won’t listen, go after the kids.
The sick irony is that the federal government has been “going after the kids” ever since it was first allowed to put its nose in the tent of education. This has been going on for decades. Now the smelly, drooling beast occupies virtually the whole tent, in the form of Ayn Rand’s Comprachicos, the lobotomizing, teacher-college trained “conditioners” who take orders from the feds and politicized school boards on what constitutes “teaching.” “Teaching,” to them, is basically the skilled inculcation of passivity in students of all ages as a precondition to following orders without question and voluntary servitude without expectation of reward or recognition -- to serve the state, the collective, the environment, whatever the local party chief, ward-heeler, or galeiter says is the “good.”
“The only purpose of education is to teach a student how to live his life -- by developing his mind and equipping him to deal with reality. The training he needs is theoretical, I.e., conceptual. He has to be taught to think, to understand, to integrate, to prove. He has to be taught the essentials of the knowledge discovered in the past -- and he has to be equipped to acquire further knowledge by his own effort.”*
On modern education, she noted:
“The academia-jet set coalition is attempting to tame the American character by the deliberate breeding of helplessness and resignation -- in those incubators of lethargy known as ‘Progressive’ schools, which are dedicated to the task of crippling a child’s mind by arresting his cognitive development.”**
Last week, President Barack Obama went after the kids with his “I Pledge” video, which featured a number of Hollywood and other familiar faces “pledging” to adhere to a number of collectivist causes, including not using plastic water bottles, plastic bags, getting rid of fuel-inefficient cars in favor of hybrids, of offering one’s smiles and service to complete strangers, etc. and ad nauseam, ending with Demi Moore and her partner saying, “I pledge to be a servant of our President and all mankind.”
The video then becomes an expanding mosaic or montage of all the stars speaking at once (“because together we can, together we are, and together we will be the change that we seek” -- which could have been the oath of allegiance to the collective “We” in Rand’s novel, Anthem), and then the montage fades into the off-color poster of Obama, flanked by the Capitol and the White House, looking like a lonely leader. Like a Big Brother, who just wants your understanding and cooperation. And service. No questions asked. Or tolerated.
Obama says you don’t have time to think. Just to act. Just as he has.
A very slick piece of propaganda. Hitler would have envied it. There were no Nazi Party chiefs telling the populace or the children what they should think or do. No Heinrich Himmler or Joseph Goebbels lecturing them from on high on their duty to the state, to the Party, to the nation. Just a parade of popular Hollywood and music video faces speaking very sincerely about their willingness to “serve our President.”
No, too many American adults will not listen to Obama and his pick of the Communist Party about what is best for them. So, they go after the helpless victims of government-mandated indoctrination. Employ famous pop culture faces to deliver the message. Then require every public school in the country to broadcast it, as an overture to Obama’s address to school children on September 8th.
But, they have not counted on volition. They have underestimated the American character. They did not count on parents “opting out” of allowing their children to be subjected to the video and the speech. On school boards and principals warily offering parents and students the chance to say “No, thanks, we‘re thinking beings, and this is an insult to our intelligence.”
Obama’s attempt to ram socialism down the throats of Americans through his and Congress’s health care bill has faltered because there are enough thinking individuals left in this country who are speaking out against him and his entire agenda. Those Americans are a reality they thought they could bypass. But that detour has almost led them to race right off the end of an unfinished bridge.
Desperation drives despots to win over children. To seduce them with pop culture eye-candy or appeals to emotion. Or to enslave them. More on this contemptible appeal to American school children after September 8th.
*”The Comprachicos,” in The New Left: The Anti-Industrial Revolution, p. 231.
**”Don’t Let It Go,” in Philosophy: Who Needs It, p. 261.
9 Comments ::
:: Wednesday, September 02, 2009 ::
Senator Ted Kennedy: Rest in Perdition
Posted by Edward Cline at 5:24 PM
On the occasion of Senator Edward “Ted” Kennedy’s death last week, ABC News posted on its website the question: "What do the Kennedys mean to you?” and invited readers to comment. Most of the comments were severely critical of especially Ted Kennedy: a sodden, corrupt, hypocritical, power-lusting ogre, an appropriate climax of an elitist, disreputable succession of Kennedys. I had nothing positive to say about him, either, nor about any of the Kennedys. They were major movers of the nation in the direction of fascism. What they meant to me was the incremental destruction of this country.
The mainstream media currently is besotted with admiration for Kennedy and wailing over his passing. You would think that this was Argentina, when that country grieved over the deaths of Juan and Evita Peron -- a grief orchestrated and mandated by the government and its controlled news media and press. For example, Eugene Robinson, a columnist for The Washington Post, waxes nearly poetic in his tribute to Kennedy, “A Prince‘s Fate“:
“Princes often have lives that are difficult, even within the context of wealth and privilege. They have to find ways to keep from being eaten alive by ambition that can never be requited….The hardest task for an eternal prince is to construct an original identity of which he can be proud -- an identity that allows him to live a life of purpose, meaning and impact. Ted Kennedy accomplished this feat by becoming the greatest senator of our age and serving as the liberal conscience of the nation.”
Robinson’s thesis is that Ted Kennedy’s ambition to become president was foiled by many things, and so he remained a “prince.” Robinson is wrong: Kennedy’s ambition was requited. He was responsible for much of the post-Rooseveltian welfare state and regulatory legislation that currently burdens the country. And it was not so much ambition that motivated Kennedy, as vengeance on a country that would not grant him the status of “savior” or “king.”
Robinson, like many other columnists and news media pundits, glossed over Kennedy’s essentially malign character to portray him as a perfect model of a self-sacrificing humanitarian. But his blinders-defined tribute to Kennedy is almost tolerable compared to most politicians’ expressions of admiration. Consider New York Senator Chuck Schumer’s puerile, glassy-eyed hosanna:
"In the Senate, Ted Kennedy was our sun--the center of our universe. To be pulled by his strong gravitational field, to bask in his warmth was a privilege, an honor, and, for many of us, even a life-changing experience.”
What follows are my expanded comments on the ABC site on the Kennedys.
Ted Kennedy stunned the nation in 2008 when he endorsed Barack Obama over Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination for president. And while it was coincidence that Obama, as President, was vacationing on Martha’s Vineyard when Kennedy succumbed to brain cancer, it seemed to be a politically appropriate place for him to be, for that millionaire’s retreat was where Kennedy got away with what could only be generously called “manslaughter.” That is where, thanks to Kennedy, Mary Jo Kopechine met her death at the negligent hands of Ted Kennedy. For some details on how he lied about the incident and was released from criminal responsibility by the political influence of his father, see David A. Patten’s account here. Patten, however honest an account he delivers about Kennedy’s character flaws (including his incomprehensible answer to the question of why he wanted to be president), still extols his political career, crediting him approvingly with “perhaps the most impressive legislative record of the past half century.”
It would be appropriate to go back a few years and begin with Joseph Patrick Kennedy, Sr., the “Godfather” of a political dynasty. It is a fair analogy to say that he was the Boston-Irish family patriarch to Vito Corleone’s New York-Italian patriarch, rising to power and influence through a combination of “business” and politics in roughly the same period, driven by power-lust and envy of the “smart set” and social establishment and determined to become part of that glittering parade of fashion and wealth. He established the leitmotif for his sons’ characters and careers. Most biographies of Kennedy Senior are carefully crafted narratives that skip over the unsavory aspects of his career, such as his alleged bootlegging empire during Prohibition (by importing liquor from Canada and Cuba). Near the end of Prohibition, he procured the exclusive rights to import Scotch whiskey from the U.K. and Canada into the U.S.
In all his business dealings, Kennedy Senior was not so much a productive businessman as a manipulator of already produced wealth and an exploiter of regulatory controls. His first job after graduating from Harvard in 1912 was as assistant state bank examiner. He helped run the Bethlehem Steel shipyards in Massachusetts during WWI, when he met and became close to Franklin D. Roosevelt, then assistant secretary of the Navy. He was the first chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission. He was a lifelong Democrat and significant ally of Roosevelt, and staunch advocate of Roosevelt‘s domestic policies. FDR appointed Kennedy, an Anglophobe, ambassador to the United Kingdom in 1938.
Kennedy Senior’s prime ambition was to become president of the United States. One gaffe, however, doomed that prospect. As ambassador to the U.K., in November 1940, during the Battle of Britain, he asserted that Britain’s fight against the Nazis was not to save “democracy,” but merely to survive. Now, this is a curious dichotomy. If “democracy” is meant to imply a state of semi-freedom and semi-representative government (and not pure mob rule, which is what it actually means), of course its survival may be seen as a paramount value. The U.S., he implied, should view Britain’s opposition to Hitler as just a means to buy America time to prepare to fight the Nazis, insinuating that he did not otherwise care what happened to Britain. “Democracy” in Britain, he stated, was “finished” and “it may be here” (in the United States). He was perfectly willing to avoid a fight with Germany by concluding a peace treaty with Hitler. His remarks were not well received by either Roosevelt or the American public.
That being said, Kennedy Senior’s sons benefited from his ill-gotten largess. Like father, like son. Not one of them ever held a productive, wealth producing job in his life. Only two of them ever ventured into the real world: Joe Junior, the eldest, whose experimental bomber blew up in England during WWII, and John F. Kennedy, who at least saw some action in the Pacific, although the full story of PT109 may or not ever be known. Because of the draft, Teddy Kennedy enlisted in the Army (signing up for four years, instead of the intended two, but his father got him out of that, as well), and landed a plumb assignment in Paris, France.
All four Kennedy sons, “Joe Junior,“ JFK, Robert and "Ted," grew up as spoiled aristocrats, completely insulated from the productive world and responsibility for their own lives and actions. The real world, the world that produced all their clothes, cars, and pricy baubles, was their oyster. They only knew how to milk it and corrupt themselves in the process. Things could be had, never made. They were sent to the "best" schools where they were taught that the productive, wealth-producing world was their private realm -- that it wasn't "fair" and ready to be redistributed to their dependents -- if they went into politics. And, that's where they went.
When they could take time from their drinking and hedonism.
But, one doesn’t go into politics without a political philosophy, however crude, populist, or sophisticated it may be. The sons adopted the statist, collectivist, and socialist philosophies of their teachers -- and the cynical pragmatism of their father. That was fine with Joseph Kennedy. He knew nothing about living a productive life, either. He never had to earn a living, never had to sustain his own life -- in terms of trading values. It is interesting to note that Kennedy Senior was impressed by Harold Laski, the premier British socialist of the time, and wished his sons to study under him at the London School of Economics. “Joe Junior,” being groomed for a political career which his father hoped would lead to the White House, spent a year with Laski before enrolling in Harvard Law School. In 1935 JFK enrolled at the LSE with the intention of studying political economy for a year under Laski’s tutelage, but an illness hospitalized him shortly after his enrollment. During the autumn of the same year, he enrolled in Princeton University, but was forced to leave after contracting jaundice. The next autumn, he began attending Harvard College.
Much of what burdens this country today, including a welfare state for the poor and for pull-peddling businesses, and especially the fascist/socialist agenda that is inculcated in virtually every level of education today, we owe to the Kennedys.
In that respect, Barack Obama is just a Johnnie-Come-Lately. Ted Kennedy's endorsement of his bid for the White House was an act of hate for America. He knew what Obama's credentials were -- a community-organizing socialist who has appointed to power and is advised by a company of communists and socialists.
Some of Kennedy’s “accomplishments” include: strengthening OSHA‘s powers; a quadrupling of spending for cancer funding and research (but, should government be involved in medical research? No); WIC program (Women, Infants and Children, administered by the Federal Food and Nutrition Service ); Meals On Wheels; Title IX; Individuals with Disabilities Education Act; Americans With Disabilities Act; Medical Relief Act; No Child Left Behind Act; Anti-Apartheid Act; National Military Child Care Act; Direct Lending Program; Family and Medical Leave Act; Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act; Children's Health Insurance Program; Funding for the AMBER Alert system; Family Opportunity Act. And much, much more. Not one of them a legitimate, Constitutionally-mandated government action.
The Kennedys should be damned, not revered or mourned. The whole corrupt, smarmy, elitist lot of them.
When a true, objective history is written about the second half of the 20th century, about how the freest country in history slid into statism and political and economic collapse, the Kennedys will be dealt the justice and judgment they have dodged and been denied for so long -- by historians, by students, by the press.
Ted Kennedy died of a malignant soul cancer long ago -- of corruption, of hating America as a free country of free individuals. One could say that the tumor that infected his character finally spread to his brain. In all justice, no true American -- no American who valued his own freedom, his own liberty, his own life -- should mourn Kennedy's passing. No flags should be ordered to half-mast for this traitor. Americans should say: Good riddance! And we hope Mary Jo Kopechine waited for him at the gates of hell with her own pitchfork, for if there is a hell, that is where Ted Kennedy has gone.
May he rest in perdition.
14 Comments ::
:: Tuesday, September 01, 2009 ::
Justifying Ted Kennedy's negligent homicide
Posted by Nicholas Provenzo at 9:39 AM
Speaking about the political career of Senator Edward Kennedy and Kennedy's role in the death of Mary Jo Kopechne, Hufffington Post columnist Melissa Lafsky offered the following:
We don't know how much Kennedy was affected by her death, or what she'd have thought about arguably being a catalyst for the most successful Senate career in history. What we don't know, as always, could fill a Metrodome. What we are being asked to swallow is that the victim of negligent homicide would somehow consider their homicide "worth it" because their killer had a prolific political career--a career defined primarily by their support for the forced transfer of wealth from those who earn it to those who do not.
Still, ignorance doesn't preclude a right to wonder. So it doesn't automatically make someone (aka, me) a Limbaugh-loving, aerial-wolf-hunting NRA troll for asking what Mary Jo Kopechne would have had to say about Ted's death, and what she'd have thought of the life and career that are being (rightfully) heralded.
Who knows -- maybe she'd feel it was worth it.
It was a horrific injustice that Kennedy never received more than a slap on the hand for his role in Kopechne's needless and preventable death. It is all the more horrific that Kennedy would now be celebrated for it. But notice Lafsky's claim here: even the most cowardly and despicable acts can be forgiven if altruism is one's aim.
If you ever doubt the wickedness--the outright willingness to justify anything in the name of the self-abnegation that is altruism--remember the life of Ted Kennedy and the moral claims of those who would attempt to lionise him.
3 Comments ::