Category ►►► Democrazy Inaction
November 4, 2011
Desperately Seeking Abuse
Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI, 95%), Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, has forced not one, not two, but three investigations -- two by the Pentagon and one by the Government Accounting Office; Levin insists there simply must be something crooked about former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld's program to enlist retired military officers (RMOs) to analyze and explain the Iraq and Afghanistan war efforts to the people. Where there's hokey smoke, there oughta be fire... or at least an awful lot of hot air.
Somewhere, somehow, some RMO simply must have gotten cash under the table from Rumsfeld for talking up the wars; they can't have all actually believed in what they did!
Alas for the Chairman, all three investigations turned up bubkes. Zip. A big, fat bagel. Thank goodness there's nothing important going on in the country that might require the Senate's attention.
Now Chairman Levin, facing the possibility of becoming a Senate laughingstock for his failed Inspecteur
Clouseau Javert-like persecution, is reduced to begging the Pentagon to throw him a bone, something disreputable enough to justify his obsession. Say, couldn't they at least allow the Chairman and his staff to rewrite the report to Levin's (and his party's) satisfaction?
The chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee is intervening with a Pentagon investigator to influence the final wording of a report that exonerates George W. Bush-era officials who gave war briefings to retired military TV and radio commentators.
Sen. Carl Levin, Michigan Democrat, has tried for three years to convince federal investigators that the briefing program violated government rules and that some of the retired officers turned analysts received preferential treatment for Pentagon contracts....
A source close to the third probe said that a Levin staffer, committee general counsel Peter Levine, has engaged in written communication with John Crane, the Pentagon inspector general’s congressional liaison.
The source said the communication is designed to convince Mr. Crane that wording should be added to the findings that criticize the analyst program devised by staff for Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld. [Emphasis added -- DaH]
Ah yes, the lone whistleblower, crying in the wilderness: "You can't handle the truth!" But the truth may oft be inconvenient:
Two previous government probes found no misconduct, and the Pentagon inspector general now has wrapped up a third investigation....
The findings, as written, say the program followed Defense Department rules, the source told The Washington Times.
All this reminds me of one of the few scenes in the television show M*A*S*H that I found genuinely funny. Season 10 had a two-parter titled "Snap Judgment"/"Snappier Judgment"; it was the double-episode where Sgt. Klinger (post-transvestite phase) is accused of stealing a Polaroid instant camera and trying to sell it on the Korean black market. He is eventually brought up before a general court-martial.
Maj. Charles Emerson Winchester III volunteers to be Klinger's defense "attorney," despite having no legal training whatsoever. He botches the case (naturally); and Klinger is standing on the bring of being wrongly convicted when Dr. Winchester gives his closing argument. I can't find the exact quotation, but it goes something like this: "Before you render your verdict, think about me! Think of my reputation. No Winchester has ever lost a legal case; if I lose here -- I'll be ruined!"
At least Maj. Winchester was honest about his real motive, which is more than I can say, sadly enough, for Sen. Levin.
September 13, 2010
What If We Made Every Day "Burn a Koran Day"?
I rib you not; what if, every day of every week of every month of every year, folks in the West held a good old, traditional Koran despoiling?
Suppose each of us ran out and bought 52 copies of the Koran (or al-Quran, if you prefer); then, joining in covens of seven, each of us picked a day of the week -- and burned one Koran each name day. That's a year's worth of poached prophet for each cabal!
- Wednesday's child could burn the book.
- The Friday desecrator could fling that week's copy into the sewer.
- The Monday marauder could mangle the monstrosity in a meat masher.
- The man who was Thursday could trample it underfoot with muddy boots.
- Saturday's cross-tab could wrap it with strips of bacon, fry it up, and eat it, leaf by leaf.
- Tuesday's tot could drink lots of Budweiser, then toss the tome in the toilet and make lots of Budweiser.
- And of course, he who is blessed to have the duty of desecrating a Koran on Sunday could hammer a spike through its heart and bury it at a crossroads -- beneath a veritable Vesuvius of hog jowls, pickled pig's feet, and pork rinds.
Then we start all over again.
Dear Mr. Huge: Have you finally and irrevocably flipped your Yid lid? Signed, the Society for Prevention of Lighting Up Holy Lit
No no, I have a point, and it's a good one. Suppose we did this day in and day out, so that never did a single day pass without someone, somewhere creatively desecrating a Koran. On the telly. On YouTube, in the papers, on the sacred soil of the wirefeed. Suppose Koran-obliterating became ubiquitous, offhand, humdrum: Yawn, another Koran in the trash compactor, how droll. Desecrate, desecrate, desecrate!
Hard as it may be to believe, even radical Islamists are human beings; and as humans, eventually they will just plain run out of outrage. Only a tiny handful of people have a literally infinite capacity to become incensed, hysterical, like a middle-aged matron who thinks she saw a mouse. (Or like the gangster Woody Allen described in one of his books, probably Without Feathers, since that's the only one I read: Allen's mafioso was so paranoid, ne never allowed anyone in New York City to get behind him.)
For the rest of the world, including the vast majority of Moslems, outrage is not infinite: Pitching a spaz requires hormones such as adrenalin coursing through one's body; but the body cannot produce adrenalin all day, every day without it taking a terrific toll on health. Sooner or later, each individual hysteric must either calm down, take a deep breath, and resolve just to ignore the unholy undertaking in future... or else die of a coronary delusion at age 38.
Therefore, if the West made every day "Burn a Koran Day," then after a very few months, the ummah would greet each day's desecration as conservatives greet each day's Obamunism: With an exasperated eye-roll, but elsewise equanimity. When Ahmadinejad or Nasrallah or Zawahiri screams "The infidels are burning the Koran, we must rush forth and slay the nearest Christian and the ten nearest Jews!" -- the rest of Islamdom will shrug and say, "So what else is new?" The action of burning a Koran will have utterly lost all impact, all effect, all meaning... it will have become just another book.
And then we can stop.
April 1, 2010
Tea Partiers Draw Their Foot in the Sand
In an event that has been widely reported by every member of the antique media -- well, actually the only place that seems to care enough even to mention it is Newsmax.com -- results from an online survey by ContractFromAmerica.com were released today as the Tea Party's "Contract From America."
Of course, since there is no national Tea Party authority, this is not a platform the same way that the 1994 Contract With America was, under the guiding hand of then-House Minority Leader Newt Gingrich and other congressional Republicans; but as the current Contract From America (CFA) was drafted via 365,000 responses to the website, what it lacks in political authority it regains as the manifesto of the Tea Parties' "popular front," a window into the heart and soul of a growing political movement.
Two of the three planks that dominate voting are predictable; but the winningest plank is the least effective but most interesting of all. In reverse order:
- "Demand a balanced budget: Begin the Constitutional amendment process to require a balanced budget with a two-thirds majority needed for any tax hike."
- "Reject cap and trade: Stop costly new regulations that would increase unemployment, raise consumer prices, and weaken the nation's global competitiveness with virtually no impact on global temperatures."
And the third; what could it be? Killing ObamaCare? Deporting all illegal immigrants and half the legal ones as well? Banning abortion, divorce, and homosexuality? Requiring Christian prayer in the schools and making little girls wear burkas? Since the CFA wasn't snuck in as a poison pill by the Puffinstuffian Post, the answer is no; but I was fascinated to see what actually won -- and by a long margin too, 81%, versus 71% for number 2 and 70% for number 3:
- "Protect the Constitution: Require each bill to identity the specific provision of the Constitution that gives Congress the power to do what the bill does."
I am under no illusion that this would in fact do anything significant. Bills in Congress already list bogus, ridiculous "provisions" -- most often "To regulate Commerce... among the several States" (article I, section 8). Even if this provision was enshrined in the sacred Constitution itself, it wouldn't change one jot or tittle of classical congressional corruption.
But what the winning plank tells us is that, contrary not only to charges by devious Democrats, ludicrous liberals, and lying lefties, but also by some confusticated conservatives, laughable libertarians, and even asinine anarchists, the Tea-Party popular front is neither "populist" nor "fascist" but simply constitutionalist.
I'm certain the drafters of this particular winning option are well aware it's legally meaningless, unlike the other two planks; but as a statement of first principles, it's priceless: More than anything else, the Tea Parties stand for a return to constitutional government, vigorous rejection of the populist tyranny of "Progressivism," and the repudiation of President Woodrow Wilson's condemnation of the United States Constitution as antiquated and too limiting of "progressive" and "populist" desires:
More than anyone, Woodrow Wilson advanced the new Progressive theory of human nature and human institutions and the corresponding Progressive critique of the principles of the American Founding and the Founders' Constitution. Wilson, who was president of Princeton and of the American Political Science Association before becoming President of the United States, was the first Chief Executive to openly criticize the Constitution, once comparing it to "political witchcraft." So hostile was he to the self evident truths of the Founding that in a 1911 address he remarked, "if you want to understand the real Declaration of Independence, do not repeat the preface."
Wilson above all others deserves credit for the notion that the Constitution is a "living" or "evolving" document. As he wrote in 1908, "Government is not a machine, but a living thing. It falls, not under the theory of the universe, but under the theory of organic life. It is accountable to Darwin." Insisting that the Constitution does not contain any theories or principles, Wilson argued that the Constitution has a "natural evolution" and is "one thing in one age, another in another." "Living political constitutions," he wrote, "must be Darwinian in structure and in practice."
Aside from the arrogance of power the "Progressives" exhibit, both in content and even in their self-selected name, the claim that the Constitution is "Darwinian" is an insult to actual evolutionary biology. What Wilson tried, with some success, to foist upon America has nothing whatsoever to do with the principle of evolution by variation and natural selection:
- The planks of Progressivism did not arise from small variations in existing principles of governance or government policy; they were radical, instantaneous revolutions never seen in nature, pronounced from on high by ivy-league theorists (led by Wilson himself, former president of Princeton University).
- And they were never ratified by testing in the crucible of the real world (natural selection); they were imposed by force, with jackbooted thugs arresting anyone who resisted.
Michael Barone clearly places the Tea Party popular front on the side of the Founders, not their Progressive enemies:
Over the past 14 months, our political debate has been transformed into an argument between the heirs of two fundamental schools of political thought, the Founders and the Progressives. The Founders stood for the expansion of liberty and the Progressives for the expansion of government.
It's an argument that has been going on for a century but was largely dormant over the quarter-century of low-inflation economic growth that followed the Reagan tax cuts. It's been raised again by the expand-government policies of the Obama administration and Democratic congressional leaders.
Those policies, thoroughly in line with the Progressive tradition, have been advanced by liberal elites in government, media, think tanks and academia. The opposition, roughly in line with the Founders tradition, has been led by the non-elites who spontaneously flocked to tea parties and town halls. Republican politicians have been scrambling to lead these protesters.
Today's release of the Contract From America (though voting continues through Monday) should put paid to the cockamamie misapprehensions and deliberate misinterpretations of Tea-Party antagonists. It should... but of course it won't.
Those who intend to destroy it for political reasons certainly won't care that the movement itself has enunciated its own most important goals. And those dinosaurs still grimly hanging on since the Cretaceous epoch, locked into what they have believed since puberty -- those who simply cannot imagine a popular front opposing more bread and circuses from the government -- will never change their minds. For, with apologies to George R. Stewart, Men may go and come, but obduracy abides.
November 19, 2008
If the California Supreme Court Doesn't Trust the People...
...Then perhaps it should dissolve them and appoint a new people
As Big Lizards predicted earlier, the California State Supreme Court has agreed to decide several lawsuits that seek to overturn Proposition 8, the constitutional amendment -- on the grounds that it's unconstitutional. The lawsuits advance a novel legal theory of governance by the consent of the governors:
The lawsuits argue that voters improperly abrogated the judiciary's authority by stripping same-sex couples of the right to wed after the high court earlier ruled it was discriminatory to prohibit gay men and lesbians from marrying.
In other words, the voters improperly interfered with the court's right to decide all major moral issues.
Not to mention the fact that Proposition 8 does not "prohibit gay men and lesbians from marrying." It doesn't even mention gay men or lesbians.
Nor does it prohibit anyone from marrying any one (or any group); it only says such marriages will not be "valid or recognized in the state of California." Go ahead and marry a person of the same sex; call yourself married by the lights of your own house of worship; just don't check "married filing jointly" on your IRS 1040 form, unless you're inordinately fond of institutional cooking.
(And of course, it's just as valid for a gay man to marry a lesbian as for a straight man to marry a straight women. Or a lesbian.)
There is another exciting legal argument offered by at least one of the sets of plaintiffs' lawyers in one of the cases:
"If given effect, Proposition 8 would work a dramatic, substantive change to our Constitution's 'underlying principles' of individual [sic] on a scale and scope never previously condoned by this court," lawyers for the same-sex couples stated in their petition.
[Where the expression "never previously condoned by this court" means "at least not since May 15th, 2008," when the Court held -- for the very first time -- that the state constitution required marriage to be "gender neutral."]
The measure represents such a sweeping change [all the way back to the olden times of six months ago!] that it constitutes a constitutional revision as opposed to an amendment, the documents say. The distinction would have required the ban's backers to obtain approval from two-thirds of both houses of the California Legislature before submitting it to voters.
In other other words, the CSSC can utterly upend Western civilization by a simple 4-3 majority... but it takes a supermajority if two-thirds of both houses of the legislature in addition to a majority of voters to change it right back to the status quo ante, the law of the land before May, 2008... which, by an amazing coincidence, happens to be the exact same wording that is now called a "dramatic," "sweeping," "substantive change" to the "underlying principles" of our constitution. (Or the "underlying principles of individual," whatever that's supposed to mean.)
If H.L. Mencken were alive today, he'd be spinning in his grave.
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