Category ►►► Kulturkampf
August 14, 2013
Tears of a Clown
In a sane country, this story would have appeared as a feature in The Onion:
Alas, we live in America, where the juxtaposition of racial and presidential politics has taken us to a bizarro land the likes of which haven't been seen since H.R. Pufnstuf went off the air. Look on the bright side, though -- at least we can take heart that soon, we'll get back to the kind of sly, incisive political commentary we've come to expect from the rodeo clown establishment.
April 10, 2013
If you've ever wondered why it's so difficult to actually engage a liberal in a conversation about the issues, the answer is really quite simple. Most leftists don't actually want to engage in a conversation on the issues. Oh, they'll passionately advocate their positions to be sure -- but when it comes to defending those positions against hard-line questions, well things tend to get a little dicey.
Part of that is because of the cultural bubble in which liberals are ensconced. Surrounded as they are by an entertainment and news media that are in near lockstep with their own views, leftists simply aren't accustomed to being presented with different points of view. Specifically, when confronted with the potential downside of their progressive agenda, they tend to get that deer-in-the-headlights look as their minds scramble to come up with a rebuttal. A perfect illustration of this happened last week when Jeremy Irons, the guy who won an Oscar for playing Claus von Bulow in the film Reversal of Fortune, made some rather salient points about the implications of same-sex marriage to the Huffington Post:
It’s a very interesting one, that, and I don’t really have a strong feeling, but what I see … what we had in England, which was not marriage, but it was a union you could make if you were gay and you wanted to make a civil partnership … same rights but not the name … it seems to me that now they’re fighting for the name, and I worry that it means somehow we debase, or we change, what marriage is. I just worry about that. I mean tax-wise it’s an interesting one, because you see, could a father not marry his son?
Horrified, the interviewer protested that there are laws against that sort of thing. Irons, however, had clearly thought the issue through and responded:
IRONS: It’s not incest between men. Incest is there to protect us from inbreeding, but men don't breed, so incest wouldn’t cover that. Now if that were so, and I wanted to pass on my estate without death duties, I could marry my son, and pass on my estate to him.
INTERVIEWER: That sounds like a total red herring. I’m sure that incest law would cover same sex marriages.
IRONS: Really? Why?
INTERVIEWER: 'cause I don’t think incest law is only justified on the basis of the consequences of procreation. I think there’s also a moral approbation associated with incest.
Ah, yes. Moral approbation. His argument seems to be that because he personally finds the idea of an incestuous marriage to be icky, then it shouldn't be allowed. It doesn't occur to him that a lot of people oppose same-sex marriage for exactly the same reason.
Of course, Irons was taken to task by the usual suspects for being anti-gay, against equal rights, blah blah blah -- but if you read any of the rejoinders, you'll notice that none of them has a satisfactory answer to Irons' questions. That's because there isn't one. Irons is indeed correct in observing that once you open the door to same-sex marriage, it will be difficult if not impossible to close it on others who would seek to redefine the limits of holy matrimony. After all, if gay couples can marry, what justification would the law have to deny that same right to anyone?
Polygamy? Hell, that's been around for thousands of years already. Polyamory? A little more on the exotic side, but not unprecedented. Then you have the possibility of couples marrying each other. Sure would make the day care easier. And think of the tax benefits you could get out of that kind of arrangement!
But no, we're not supposed to ask any questions before taking such a radical step. In that respect, at least, the left is treating SSM the same way they treated Obamacare: We have to pass it to find out what's in it.
No wonder they want Irons to shut up. As for me, it's enough to make me forgive him for doing In The Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale. Keep asking questions, Jeremy! Keep asking!
January 16, 2013
Comes now the New York Post, with another colorful story chock full o' human interest. It seems as though the frisky co-eds of NYU have creatively applied their assets toward paying their college expenses -- except that it isn't so much their beautiful minds as their beautiful bodies making the grade:
More New York City co-eds are turning to a new source of income — sugar daddies — to cope with the rising cost of their college tuition, surprising statistics released yesterday reveal.
And the majority is enrolled at New York University, according to the sugar-daddy dating site SeekingArrangement.com.
Nearly 300 NYU co-eds joined the site’s service last year seeking a “mutually beneficial” arrangement with rich older men — a 154 percent jump over 2011.
It was the second-highest number of new members for any college in the country.
Hundreds more young women from Columbia, Cornell and Syracuse universities also have recently signed up for the service, the site said.
“I’ll admit that I’ve thought about doing something like that,” said a Columbia junior who gave only her first name, Karen.
“It would be easier in some ways than working, taking classes and then spending years paying back loans.”
Of course, it's entirely possible that these wealthy older gentlemen are just looking for clever conversation -- but I'm kinda thinking that they might be expecting just a bit more bang for their buck. So how exactly does this work, anyway? Do the girls get a flat rate, or do they charge by the credit hour? Whatever the answer, you can be sure that the state of New York will be looking for a way to tax their earnings.
Whatever happened to the good old days, when a girl could get by doing something moderately less skeevey -- like hustling pool or stripping? To think that it's come to this just makes me sad. Of course, some people would say that it's nothing new: Young hotties have been coddling rich codgers for time immemorial (you think Hef's latest wife married him for love?), but at least there was a semblance of respectability about it. Not to mention a tidy divorce settlement when all was said and done.
No, what we have going on here is just thinly-veiled prostitution -- but that's no big deal, these co-eds reason, because if I'm going to be having sex anyway I might as well get something out of it. Call it the price of modern feminism. With their battle cries for free birth control and insistence that women treat sex the same as men, they've reduced female sexuality to a mere commodity and given the guys all the power.
Hardly what I'd call women's liberation.
July 27, 2012
Probably the thing that frosts me most about the culture war is how my childhood always gets caught in the crossfire. Not content to leave me with happy memories of Saturday morning cartoons watched through a glorious haze of sugary cereal, the wizards now in charge of those classic entertainment properties insist on loading them down with whatever PC piety happens to be en vogue at the moment.
A certain beloved puppet troupe, not wanting to miss out on all the fun, are the latest to join the fray:
The Muppets are ending their relationship with fast food restaurant chain Chick-Fil-A in a show of support for gay marriage.
"The Jim Henson Company has celebrated and embraced diversity and inclusiveness for over fifty years and we have notified Chick-Fil-A that we do not wish to partner with them on any future endeavors," the company said in a statement posted on their official Facebook page.
The Henson company, named after the creator of lovable characters like Kermit the Frog and Miss Piggy, supplied their Creature Shop Muppet toys to Chick-Fil-A for children's meal packages but decided to sever ties after recent statements by the fast-food chain's Chief Executive Dan Cathy.
So what exactly did Cathy say that was so offensive?
We are very much supportive of the family -- the biblical definition of the family unit.… We are a family owned business, a family led business, and we are married to our first wives. We give God thanks for that.
So for expressing an opinion entirely consistent with his religious beliefs -- not to mention one held by a sizable chunk of people all over the world for several thousand years -- Cathy is a hate-monger whose company is unworthy of the Muppets? Looks like the "celebration" of "diversity" doesn't include diversity of views.
Now you can take what you want from what Cathy said, but nowhere in there did he even mention gay marriage -- Lisa Henson, who runs the Henson Company, was the one who decided to take that leap and make a stink about it. But even if you agree with her reasoning, I don't understand what gay issues have to do with Kermit and Miss Piggy. Granted, Kermit did once say he was down with porn, but it's still a little ways between there and here.
No, what we have on display here is more cheap preening by leftists trying to feel good about themselves. I mean, let's face it -- Christians, and by extension Christian-owned companies, are easy targets. It's not like they're going to retaliate in any harsh way, so it's a nice, safe method for liberals to make their bones with the establishment.
Problem is, Lisa Henson is full of it. Her company, even though it sold off Sesame Street back in 2001, still maintains a close working relationship with that production -- which includes versions in several Islamic nations, and which receives funding from organizations like the Saudi Arabia Traffic Police. All of that is well and good, educating kids across the world and so forth -- but places like Saudi Arabia ain't exactly known as gay-friendly. Applying the same standards she did to Chick-Fil-A, shouldn't Lisa Henson cease to do business with them?
Or is that too logically consistent?
September 9, 2010
Bottoming Out: the Commonest Manifesto
The title refers to three "bottoms" we may be about to reach almost simultaneously, involving the Koran-burning threatened for Saturday, September 11th, 2010; the "Ground Zero Mosque" (GZM) threatened for next September 11th, 2011; and what I call the Zeroth Principle of Real Reality:
- Many on both sides the aisle have described the threat by Rev. Terry Jones of the Dove Outreach Center in Gainesville, Florida, to burn Korans during a self-proclaimed "International Burn a Koran Day" as a "bottom" of anti-Moslem bigotry and insensitivity; but is it really? Or does it mark the bottom of our willingness to be "sensitive" to Moslem feelings, even when those feelings are backed by blatant extortion and threats?
- On another front, when (if ever) do we reach the bottom of our own deeply held principles, such as religious tolerance and property rights, when actual national and cultural survival is at stake? Must we, as Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX, 91%) demands, follow our principles even to the point of extinction?
- Finally, we have the root-bottom axiom from which all other axioms, principles, and fundamental rights arise... the Zeroth Principle: The people will do what they must, no matter what law, religion, or creed demands, to survive as a people. Have we already reached that point, or is it far enough in the future that we needn't worry about the cultural imperative just yet?
Until we confront these three bottoms, we're just flibbertigibbets and whirligigs in the hurricane of the war against radical Islamism. So let's take a look.
Nota bene: After mostly writing this post, I learnt that a "deal" was -- or was not -- cut to cancel the Koran burning in exchange for moving the GZM to... well, somewhere else: Rev. Terry Jones of the Dove Outreach Center in Gainesville, Florida, who had threatened to burn the Korans, says "was;" the imam of the GZM, Feisal Abdul Rauf, says "was not."
At first, I thought this tossed the entire post into a cockeyed hat; but then I reflected that, apart from the uncertainty of whether the deal is on or off, everything I have to say about it is universal and timeless (as always!)... so I have no reason not to plough right ahead. Excelsior!
In response to Rev. Jones vow (or threat) to lead a Koran-burning on Saturday, Moslems across the world have vowed to go on a mass killing spree; already, they're burning American flags and chanting "Death to Christians!" in anticipation of a delicious round of international riot and ruin. President Barack H. Obama is alternately begging and ordering Jones to call it off (which he may or may not have done). Even Gen. David Petraeus chimed in, warning that the burning could result in our troops being attacked.
As to the latter, it's a 100% certainty: After such a Koran burning, Moslem insurgents will attack our troops. But of course, it's also a 100% certainty that if the burning is called off -- Moslem insurgents will attack our troops. So it goes.
Shouldn't we stop the Koranic holocause, somehow prevent Rev. Jones from disposing of his church's private property via the incinerator? (Hm, what would Ron Paul say?) Or even if such interdiction is too destructive of our First Amendment, shouldn't we at least redouble our efforts to persuade Jones to forbear, deal or no deal?
Before answering that question, let's think a second and a third time; there are more reprecussions, no matter what path we choose, than the few we're encouraged to obsess upon to the exclusion of all others. And let's start with...
We're told "we" can't burn Korans -- or even allow our soldiers to carry personal Bibles into Afghanistan -- for fear Moslems will be offended. When offended, they lash out with bloodthirsty savagery, killing innocents. (The Bibles were burnt instead -- burnt by American "military officials;" religious sensitivity, thy name is irony!)
But what behavior doesn't cause Moslems to lash out and kill innocents? They riot, loot, slaughter, and burn in response to everything America, Israel, and the West do -- from supporting freedom; to caricaturing some unnamed imam with a bomb for a turban; to allowing military guards at Guantanamo to touch the Koran with their "unclean" hands; to the continued existence of Jews; to attempts to end chattel slavery in Sudan; to allowing unshrouded females and schooling for girls; to the presence of Westerners on the "sacred" soil of Saudi Arabia; to the refusal of the West to "return" Palestine, al-Andaluz, Vienna, England, Africa, Europe, Asia, and eventually South America to the rightful grasp of the ummah; to Salman Rushdie writing the Satanic Verses; and to the presence of El Al at the Los Angeles International Airport. It all provokes the same violent reaction, including (inter alia) mass murders of Christians, Jews, and imperfectly conforming fellow Moslems. (See also this Emo Phillips routine, especially starting around 2:35.)
For that matter, if America were to crawl on its hands and knees and lick Ayatollah Khamenei's and Ayman Zawahiri's sandal straps, that too would spark an orgy of violence and slaughter. In fact, that would be the quickest route, since the real Moslem motivation for such rapine and atrocity is their perception that they are the strong horse, while the West is the weak horse; any action on our part that encourages this belief will (you guessed it) lead to riots and butchery of Christians, Jews, Buddhists, Animists, wishy-washy Moslems, and the like.
Do we not finally comprehend, at some point in this crisis, that Moslem "outrage" is a calculated political tactic deliberately ginned up by Moslem leaders to pressure the West to make concession after concession? It is a form of Dawa, "soft jihad," playing upon our liberal guilt and conservative principles to gain for radical Islamism much of what they demand, without the radicals having to confront real armies that can actually obliterate them. When that revelation finally sinks in throughout the American people and their counterparts in the rest of the West, we shall abruptly find the bottom of our "sensitivity" to Moslems' perpeturally wounded feelings.
And I think we're just about there, judging from the polling on the so-called Ground Zero Mosque (GZM).
Freedom of religion and other farces
But to heck with Moslem sensitivity, which we all agree borders on hysteria. What about our own deep principles, such as "religious tolerance," upon which our country was founded (according to President Obama)? Here, he says it directly:
Obama told ABC's "Good Morning America" in an interview aired Thursday that he hopes the Rev. Terry Jones of Florida listens to the pleas of people who have asked him to call off the plan. The president called it a "stunt."
"If he's listening, I hope he understands that what he's proposing to do is completely contrary to our values as Americans," Obama said. "That this country has been built on the notion of freedom and religious tolerance."
Should such religious tolerance be absolute? If so, it would be the only fundamental right or deeply held tenet that is.
Contrariwise, America was not founded on generic religious tolerance; many American colonies had colonial churches and were pretty intolerant towards other sects; and many retained them as state churches, with special privileges including state monetary support, after the American revolution. And in any event, even today, we certainly do not blindly support "absolute religious tolerance": We outlaw American Indian peyote rituals, religously based child abuse (beatings, clitorectomies, refusal of medical care, child rape), and of course, human sacrifice. Or animal sacrifice, for that matter.
What America was actually founded upon was religious freedom, among others; and those two, freedom and tolerance, can easily be antithetical. In particular, we cannot tolerate religion (radical Islamism) that cannot tolerate freedom.
This paradox is one specific instance of the the great fallacy of tolerance: You cannot, in the name of tolerance, tolerate those seeking to impose their intolerance upon the rest of us; to do so is to become a willing accomplice in bigotry and discrimination.
The controversy over Cordoba House, the putative "Ground Zero Mosque," is a perfect example, a tar baby that has ensnared everyone from Obama to Rep. Ron Paul and many other libertarians, liberals, and conservatives who argue that our American principles of religious tolerance and property rights require us not merely to allow Feisal Abdul Rauf to build Cordoba House but to celebrate his doing so -- since he assures us that, regardless of appearances, the GZM's purpose is "interfaith outreach," not Islamist triumphalism.
In particular, Paul issued an official statement that, in essence, insists we adhere to "principle," even if it leads to the utter destruction of the culture that professess those very principles:
The debate should have provided the conservative defenders of property rights with a perfect example of how the right to own property also protects the 1st Amendment rights of assembly and religion by supporting the building of the mosque....
There is no doubt that a small portion of radical, angry Islamists do want to kill us but the question remains, what exactly motivates this hatred?
If Islam is further discredited by making the building of the mosque the issue, then the false justification for our wars in the Middle East will continue to be acceptable....
Defending the controversial use of property should be no more difficult than defending the 1st Amendment principle of defending controversial speech. But many conservatives and liberals do not want to diminish the hatred for Islam–the driving emotion that keeps us in the wars in the Middle East and Central Asia....
This is all about hate and Islamaphobia.
In other words, Rauf is a uniter, America is a hater, and we deserved what happened to us in 2001. And we need to apologize and make amends by offering the Islamist victory shrine at Ground Zero.
This is classic sophomoric libertarianism that runs afoul of the more general principle of freedom; for there is ample evidence that Rauf actually supports radical Islamism: He is a longtime member of the Muslim Brotherhood; he cannot admit that Hamas is a terrorist organization; he believes (as does Paul himself) that American foreign policy was complicit in 9/11; and Rauf wrote a letter to the editor of the New York Times in 1979 -- which he now refuses to repudiate -- praising the totalitarian, theocratic, sharia state established in Iran by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. Rauf knows very well the mosque will be seen by Islamists around the world as a "victory shrine" celebrating the great martyrdom at the World Trade Centers; and that he supports that mission.
So by insisting that the American people "tolerate," or even applaud, Cordoba House in its present location, supporters of the GZM necessarily demand we tolerate those who express the ultimate form of intolerance against us: the mass butchery of Americans and others on September 11th, 2001. It is inherently paralogical -- a state of cognitive dissonance that is no stranger either to Barack Obama or Ron Paul.
The Zeroth Principle
But there is a deeper bottom below even our own foundational principles in America and the rest of the West. Call it the Zeroth Principle which underlies all other axioms: In the end, people will do what they must to survive and to preserve their culture, no matter what other laws or principles may say. In other words, sometimes you just have to shoot the bastard first and apologize later for "violating his rights."
Idealogues neglect to factor in the Zeroth Principle all the time, but they do so at their peril; we saw the Zeroth in action in Iraq, when the Sunni in Anbar and other provinces finally decided it was impossible to live under the insane and fickle rules of al-Qaeda in Iraq. Life was utterly unbearable, despite the Iraqi Sunni's agreement (in theory) with al-Qaeda... so the former rose up and obliterated the latter, and to hell with the Koran, sharia, and Moslem solidarity!
Folks will do what they must to survive, they and their culture, and you can't stop them. It doesn't matter if you point out that the principles by which they live -- sincerely live -- require them to accept the unacceptable and endure the unendurable; they will reject it and drive it out, and principles be damned. They understand that the Zeroth Principle trumps all others: What you cannot endure you must change or destroy. Sometimes you just have to shoot the SOB and justify it later.
And that is where Barack Obama, Ron Paul, and Feisal Rauf just don't get it; but the Rev. Terry Jones does. We have about reached the end of our collective rope anent Moslem bullying, extorting, whining, and special pleading; we have had enough. At this point, I think an actual majority of Americans is at the point of saying that religious tolerance is all well and good, but we want these radical jackasses out of our hair and out of our lives. It's a tipping point: If the government won't do it... then we'll do it ourselves, and the powers that be won't like how we do it.
In fact, we've hit a triple-whammy tipping point:
- You bureaucrats had better do something about the Islamist problem -- or we will.
- You'd better do something about illegal immigration and fraudulent voting and Mexican drug wars slopping over into America -- or we will.
- You'd better do something about government intrusion in our lives -- or we will!
So Republicans and Democrats alike (and Libertarian loonies) had better start swimming, or they'll sink like a stone. (I place my bet on the first over the latter two.) From now on, when Moslems (radicals or "moderates") whine and threaten, we're going to tell them to take a long walk on a short pier. Come November, Congressman Taxaholic and Senator Nannystate are going to be pounding the pavement looking for honest work. And one way or another, we the people will not allow an Islamist victory shrine on the ashes of the World Trade Centers.
This is what I've been yammering about ever since February in my post "What Makes Lefty Run?": This is what a popular front for Capitalism, Judeo-Christian culture, and American exceptionalism looks like, up close and personal:
- If Moslems want to burn Bibles, fine; then they should shut their falafal holes when Americans burn Korans. And if they riot and kill and try to conquer the world, then don't be surprised if we bomb their countries, kill their leaders, and convert their citizens to Christianity. (If we make plain that we are the strong horse, that last task won't be so difficult!)
- As a small minority in the West, Moslems live and thrive at our sufferance; their job is to assimilate as much as possible -- and shut up about the conflicts that remain. (Like Jews in America, who wouldn't dream of insisting Congress enact laws forcing everyone to wear a yarmulke and keep kosher.)
- And if radical Islamists think we're going to let them dance on the mass grave of 3,000 Americans and other Westerners, then it's time to tell Imam Rauf to go pound sand down a rathole.
So to answer my own question from above -- yes, I believe that if the Dove Outreach Center burns some Korans, Moslems will "retaliate" by killing some Christians and Jews in Pakistan, or Iran, or Qatar, or Indonesia, or France, and by attacking American soldiers who are keeping the peace in various Islamic countries. And yes, that is an enormity; but it's not our enormity, nor even Rev. Jones' enormity; moral guilt fully belongs to those who commit actual murder in response to mere symbolism.
And in the meantime, I'm glad Islamists suffer the humiliation of no longer inducing the terror they once wielded, and of seeing their own books burnt; and I really don't give a hoot that some religious Moslems who don't support jihad (or at least not much) also feel humiliated and maybe even a little frightened. It's more urgent that the West finally rouse itself, stand up, and fight back, both physically, though our military forces, and especially symbolically, through such metaphors as burning Korans and driving the GZM off of GZ. Symbols are especially vital in rallying the people and stoking the flames of the popular front.
Sober conservatives cautioning against what Terry Jones wants to do may have the technical right of the argument... but those willing to stand up and fight, consequences be damned, have its heart and its soul.
Cross-posted on Hot Air's rogues' gallery...
August 26, 2010
Pyrrhic Evictory - the World Nods to the Lizards
We published a post titled "Pyrrhic Evictory" a couple of weeks ago, just a week after Judge "Dredd" Walker issued his August 4th ruling -- a date which will live in infamy -- that the traditional definition of marriage is and always has been unconstitutional. Walker's ruling would have come as a great shock to the authors of the Constitution; if the original Federalists were alive today, they'd be spinning in their graves.
In that post, I suggested that one of the most immediate serendipitous fallouts of the ruling would be in the race for California's governor, between the former eBay CEO Meg Whitman in the Republican corner, and the former worst governor in California history, Democrat Jerry Brown. (Actually, I believe he still defends the title.) Why this race in particular? Because Jerry Brown, now the Attorney General of California, flatly refused to defend the voter-enacted, state constitutional amendment Proposition 8 in court. Working in concert with "Republican" Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, Brown hoped that by the pair's refusal to defend the law, it would be swiftly overturned in federal district court by default judgment.
But Judge Dredd had other plans: He intended to hold a show trial to humiliate opponents of same-sex marriage (SSM), and no two elected pantywaists were going to thwart him! Accordingly, Walker allowed standing as defendants for a group called ProtectMarriage.com, the group that brought Proposition 8 to the ballot and got it enacted.
However, directly the show trial ended, Walker announced that in his august (and August) opinion, ProtectMarriage.com inexplicably lost the standing Walker himself had granted them, presumably on grounds that they're nothing but a bunch of bigots and homophobes... as proven by the fact that they dared defend Proposition 8. Consequently, Judge Walker has essentially ordered the Ninth Circuit and the Supreme Court not to accept any appeal of or writ of certiorari anent his Prop 8 decision... now that the urgent task of making a statement in favor of SSM is already accomplished.
This brings us, by a commodious vicus of recirculation, back to my prediction. In case you've forgotten in all the excitement, I predicted a fortnight ago that the ruling would terribly damage Jerry Brown's re-gubernatorial campaign, since he was one of those who said the people should not be represented in a case about -- the constitutionality of an amendment enacted by the people.
Today, the first post-Dreddnought Rasmussen poll was released... and Meg Whitman has leapt from -2 against Brown the day before the ruling -- to +8 today. That's a 10-point surge for the next governor of the Golden State.
Now some of that is simply that Brown's aggressively slanderous campaign against her had pretty much ended (except on Power Line <g>). The charges were not merely false but ludicrously so, and voters wised up fairly quickly. But since then, Whitman has come out foursquare in favor of Proposition 8, stating that when she is governor, she will defend it vigorously. I cannot but attribute at least some significant portion of her remarkable climb to the epic battle to defend Proposition 8 and traditional marriage.
Even many voters who opposed Prop 8 and support SSM are nevertheless beside themselves with outrage at the way the federal judiciary simply swatted aside a huge, statewide vote of 13.5 million citizens -- with the active connivance of our liberal Democratic state Attorney General and "Republican" governor. Patterico, of P's P, is one of them; he supports SSM and voted against Prop 8... but he accepts the finality of the vote, at least until a later vote might overturn it. (At which point, I would sadly accept the finality of that vote, and would fight to defend it against judicial tyranny.)
Patterico represents many tens of thousands of citizens, here and in every other state. Outraged Californios are already taking out their frustrations on Jerry Brown, and I predict a lot more will pile on by November 2nd. (Schwarzenegger is term-limited out, which is why Brown and Whitman are tussling over his soon to be former office.)
Even for supporters of SSM, the Prop 8 shenanigans perfectly mirror the genesis of what we have been calling the popular front for Capitalism and against government expansion: When the people vote, then berobed overlords unvote our vote with no better reason than their "superior, enlightened" vision -- then the proper response is first to chuck out all the bums who support those judges; and then, with a friendlier Congress, to impeach the kritarchs and kick out the JAMs. Via Rasmussen (and very soon other pollsters), the world is visibly catching up to our Big Lizards prediction. As Browning put it:
And day's at the morn;
Morning's at seven;
The hill-side's dew-pearled;
The lark's on the wing;
The snail's on the thorn;
God's in his Heaven --
All's right with the world!
No more playing defense with those who would sell out our liberty for their power. Starting today, let us prey.
August 11, 2010
Still thinking -- fuming -- about Judge "Dredd" Walker's insipid decision, in Perry v. Schwarzenegger, to render of no account the democratic vote of 13.5 million Californios, out of pique that we didn't vote as he wanted us to do. I have something somewhat profound to say (not very, just somewhat); but let's preface with a couple more predictions...
First, I suspect that Judge Walker, as Chief Judge of the United States District Court for the Northern District of California, assigned himself to hear the case against Proposition 8. According to numerous con-law professors, constitutional scholars, and working attorneys who have read Walker's opinion in that case, it's clear he was biased against the law (and its proponents) from the beginning and never took seriously any of defendants' arguments in support of it.
Who will be chosen for the three-judge panel of the Ninth Circus that will likely hear the appeal of Judge Walker's decision? The current Chief Judge of the Ninth Circuit is Alex Kozinski, who was nominated by Ronald Reagan and appears (by his list of political contributions back in 1992) to be a Republican. But selection of the panel is random, I believe; and unlike the "random" selection of liberal judges, I suspect Kozinski will actually obey the rules.
Considering that the Ninth is notorious for being the most left-liberal circuit in the entire United States (also the most overruled by the Supreme Court, for what it's worth), it's likely that at least two of the three judges on the panel will be ultra-left judicial activists. Ergo, I predict that the three-judge panel will uphold Judge Walker's decision.
So the next question is, will the Supremes accept certiorari on this case? I predict Yes: The constitutional implications of throwing out a statewide vote supporting values that are literally millennia old, and substituting one judge's radical opinion which would fundamentally alter society, are so extreme that the final Court really must pass muster on such a momentous decision.
And the last prediction: Assuming the Court takes up Perry, how will it finally rule? As I think I mentioned, I expect the usual suspects to line up as, well, as usual: Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas, and Samuel Alito will vote to uphold Proposition 8; Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor, and Elena Kagen will vote to overturn it and declare same-sex marriage (SSM) a fundamental right; and the tie-breaking vote will once again fall to Justice Anthony Kennedy, the Swingin' justice -- who, I predict, will reluctantly vote, with much hemming and dithering, to uphold the vote of the people on Prop 8. Thus I predict that the Supreme Court will overturn the district and circuit courts and reinstate the state constitutional amendment.
Now, on to the semi-epiphanic predictive analysis of some degree of profundity...
Democrats and liberals seem never to have even heard the term "pyrrhic victory;" certainly they have no idea what it could mean. By its very nature, the liberal philosophy is superficial, immediate, with a studied refusal even to consider consequences -- not merely the unanticipated but even the obvious and inevitable.
Liberalism is the Scarlett O'Hara of political philosophies: "I won't think about that now, I'll think about that tomorrow." So the idea of a "victory" that comes at such a terrible cost that it's actually a defeat is utterly alien to liberals; even when it happens to them, they don't recognize the connection to their own scorched-earth policies. But they're about to get a crash education.
A bit of history. The first traditional-marriage citizen's initiative enacted in California was Proposition 22 ten years ago; it passed by 61% to 39%.
After it was struck down by the California Supreme Court, the replacement Proposition 8 -- the same wording, but this time a state constitutional amendment -- passed by a weaker margin of 52% to 48%; but that vote was held in November 2008, during the Democrats' Obama-driven landslide victory across the country.
And specifically in California, where Barack H. Obama won by 24 points, 61% to 37%. Despite a massive Democratic victory in California's presidential race, congressional races, and state legislative races, the anti-SSM amendment nevertheless won by a statistically significant margin. (Even though the final polls of all three major pollsters here -- SurveyUSA, Field, and the Public Policy Institute of California -- showed Prop 8 losing.)
In other words, regardless of what people tell pollsters, when it comes to an actual vote, Californians strongly support traditional marriage and oppose same-sex marriage.
But along comes the liberal Bigfoot, telling us that our votes are irrelevant; state citizens have no right to determine the definition of marriage in California; and we peons should simply roll over and play dead when our robed betters bark. Slice it however you like, this judicially activist decision is not going down well in the state; Californians are angry and getting angrier by the day, even those who voted against Prop 8.
It's one thing to lose an election; it's quite another and a bitter thing to have the electorate itself slapped down by a liberal schoolmarm, wagging his finger in our faces and telling us to sit quietly and wait for judicial command.
No question about it, this is going to damage the campaigns of Democrats across the state; but particularly in the governor's race... where Republican former eBay president and CEO Meg Whitman squares off against the Democrat, former California governor and current state Attorney General Jerry Brown.
Why this particular race? Consider this: In his capacity as state AG, Brown is supposed to defend California laws against lawsuits; but because Brown is an ultra-liberal, and because he personally supports SSM, he declined to mount any defense of Prop 8. Had Brown had his way, plaintiffs in Perry v. Schwarzenegger would have been unopposed. (Not that it would have made any difference, since Judge Walker never seriously considered the defense, spearheaded by the "official proponents of Proposition 8 led by Dennis Hollingsworth," as Wikipedia put it.)
Thus the Democratic candidate is the very man who violated his oath and betrayed his state, just in order to screw California voters! The judicial activism of Judge Walker cannot possibly be ought but a boot to Jerry Brown's head -- especially in a year when the entire country (including California) is already appalled by the expansion both of the government's size and cost and also its intrusiveness.
At the moment, in the most recent poll -- Rasmussen, taken before the ruling -- we see Jerry Brown 2% ahead of Meg Whitman. That's within the margin of error; Gen. Brown got that slight "lead" by a massive campaign of slimy attack ads against Whitman... running on TV, on radio, in the newspapers, and in a number of prominent political blogs (including, sad to say, Power Line). Tellingly, Brown himself is actually polling lower today in Rasmussen than at any time since March; he just managed to pull Whitman down six points, while he only pulled himself down three, turning a Whitman +1 into a Brown +2.
In the next poll (or perhaps the one after, when voters start to mull over the ruling and Brown's role in egging it on), I expect to see that at least reversed, and maybe an even stronger movement by Meg Whitman. I believe that she is going to start using Jerry Brown's duplicity, disloyalty, and scorn for his own potential voters against him in her own TV adverts. (And I sure hope she starts buying ads on Power Line!)
Worse, I expect to see many, many Republican challengers, from Carly Fiorina challenging Sen. Barbara "Call me senator!" Boxer on down the ballot, also using the Democrats' complicity in disenfranchising thirteen and a half million California voters as a bludgeon in the "massively multiplayer" version of Whack-a-Mole, where each and every Democratic talpid has his or her very own GOP mole-masher standing directly over the mole hole.
Thus -- pyrrhic victory: Liberals, Democrats, and the loony Left "win" the court case, at least at the lowest, district level; but in so doing, even more of them than expected will find themselves evicted from their cosy offices and cushy deals, at least in the state of California.
Judge Walker's manipulative meddling may end up forcing the exact opposite effect he intended: It may elect a governor and Attorney General who will actually fight for Prop 8 in the courts... unlike the "Saboteur" General and the "Bad Samaritan" governor we have right now.
August 6, 2010
Should a Gay Judge Have Appointed Himself to Hear the Case Against Proposition 8?
Patterico asks a cogent question in a recent post: "Should the Prop. 8 Decision Have Been Made by a Gay Judge?" Or should Judge Vaughn Walker have recused himself from hearing Perry v. Schwarzenegger, the lawsuit filed to overturn California's Proposition 8, an initiative constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage (SSM)?
Patterico concludes thus:
Still, if you see laws against gay marriage as discriminatory in the same sense that Jim Crow laws were, it’s tough to accept the premise that a gay judge could not ethically decide this case.... Would a black judge be required to recuse himself from hearing a challenge to Jim Crow laws? Somehow, the intuitive answer to that question is no, of course not. Why is this different?
This one is actually fairly easy to answer: By the time Jim Crow laws were being overturned in courts, America had already enacted numerous federal laws and constitutional amendments, an infrastructure of paradigmatic change, going all the way back to our Organic Documents, that collectively formed the basis for a national consensus that "all men are created equal."
Obviously not everybody agreed, or we wouldn't have needed to overturn such laws in court -- nor would we have needed to enact the 1964 Civil Rights Act. But a consensus does not require unanimity; and clearly, Americans were willing to accept in the abstract what they could not always practice in their own lives: That there is no significant difference in personhood between black and white.
Today, we absolutely accept the fact that gay men and lesbians are just as much "persons" as heterosexual men and women, and they have the same rights. Even those of us who oppose SSM accept that point without hesitation; you have to go to a repulsive, lunatic, little vants like the Irreverend Phred Phelps and his henchmen to find anyone disputing the basic humanity of gays.
But that's not the question, is it? We all agree that gays have the same rights as heterosexuals; the question is, what exactly are those rights anent marriage?
I believe that gays and straights both have the same marital rights -- to religiously marry anybody or any group of people they and their religion allow... but to legally marry only those people who meet certain qualifications, one of which is to be of the opposite gender. I have no objection to a gay man marrying a woman, gay or straight; just as I have no objection to a lesbian marrying a man, no matter his sexual preference.
It wouldn't even bother me if a gay man married a lesbian, then they had children... or even adopted. So long as the family has a male father and a female mother, I will grant it's as socially valid and as good for raising children as a marriage of two heterosexuals.
But I do not support a putative "right" to legally marry anybody one "loves", without exception or qualification. Marriage comes with a host of restrictions that bind everyone:
- You cannot marry a person without his or her consent.
- You cannot marry your sibling, your parent, or your close cousin.
- You cannot marry a child.
- You cannot marry multiple people at once (group marriage).
- You cannot marry someone who currently is already married (bigamy).
- And... you cannot marry a person of the same gender as you.
That last restriction applies equally to heterosexuals; consider two old biddies, best girlfriends, both widowed, and both completely straight, but who want to marry for the financial benefits. Sorry, ladies, you cannot. We forbid you to abuse the legal status of being married.
By contrast, I absolutely support the Supreme Court decision in Lawrence v. Texas, striking down laws against "sodomy," however defined. Why the difference? Because the right to associate (and yes, including sexually) is an issue of individual liberty. It also falls within the veil of privacy that, yes, I do believe restrains federal, state, and local government from intruding too deeply into the lives of free citizens. Simply put, a government that can control who you are allowed to sleep with or who you can live with is totalitarian.
But marriage is not a private affair; it's a public, communal celebration and societal endorsement of a relationship; it says, "This is a special relationship that we, in this state, believe is better than other types of relationships. Thus, to encourage this type of relationship, we will reward it above and beyond other relationships." Given that description, state citizens have the right to decide what particular types of relationships we will so celebrate and endorse.
We can decide how close a relationship must be in order to put that person off limits. We can decide how old a person must be to get married. If we so choose, we can decide to allow polyamorous marriage. And if we so choose, we can decide to allow SSM; but by the same token, if we choose -- which we have done -- we can likewise decide to disallow it. And until and unless we have the same legal infrastructure anent marital rights for gays as we had the 1940s-1960s anent civil rights for blacks, no damned court has the power to overturn the people's law and make its own law.
If it did have that power, then America would no longer be a constitutional republic... we would instead be a kritarchy, ruled by unelected, robèd lords with lifetime tenure.
So yes, it may well make a difference if the judge who decided the case is a gay activist. But that would be true whether or not he himself was homosexual; there are doubtless more heterosexual gay activists than homosexual gay activists. The only point in bringing up Judge Walker's sexual preference is that it's another brick in the wall, another piece of evidence that he might well be a gay activist... taken together with other pieces of evidence, including the thirty-eight years he has lived and practiced in ultra-liberal, ultra-gay-activist San Fransisco; his judicial record in toto (not just a couple of cherry-picked cases where he actually deigned to follow the law, instead of trying to rewrite it); and the fact that, as Chief Judge, he probably decided to appoint himself to hear this case.
And of course the vapid and tendentious opinion he wrote, which also smells strongly of judicial activism.
For that purpose, exploring whether Judge Walker is a gay activist, it's not unreasonable to bring up his own sexual preference; by itself, it's not dispositive -- but it's not irrelevant, either.
April 28, 2010
Irony of Ironies: Boy Sprouts May Be Sued to Death - for Homosexual Molestation!
First, the Left filed hundreds of lawsuits against the Boy Scouts of America demanding that they be forced to allow gay scouts and gay scoutmasters into the organization. That tactic failed when the Supreme Court found that the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) was a private, religious organization, and that it had a First-Amendment, free-association right to set standards of morality for membership.
But now the BSA must defend many lawsuits filed by former scouts who allege they were molested by gay scoutmasters.
At least now we know why the Boy Scouts have steadfastly refused to relax their standards. As I have argued before, sending a pack of barely pubescent boys into the woods, in charge of a man who finds young boys sexually attractive, is a prescription for disaster -- whether or not the scoutmaster does anything: All it would take to cost the Scouts millions in damages is for a troubled lad to falsely claim an openly gay scoutmaster molested him; most jurors would be far more inclined to believe that accusation than if all evidence showed that the scoutmaster was strictly heterosexual.
I certainly will not second-guess the facts of the present case, in which a jury has ordered the Scouts to pay $18.5 million; I have no reason not to believe the jury's decision that the victim was indeed molested, and that the Scouts knew that scoutmaster had a history of molesting boys. But doesn't this underscore the urgency of keeping openly gay boys and men out of the Boy Scouts in the first place?
- Most worrisome is the destruction a real molester can inflict, both to the victim and to the BSA itself, its reputation and its finances.
But think of the harm a Boy Scout can cause via a false accusation against an openly gay scoutmaster.
Whether due to emotional problems, revenge for some real or imagined insult, fear of exposure after he himself makes unwanted advances to the scoutmaster and is rejected, or if he makes the charge for purely mercenary reasons -- either the lure of "jackpot justice" or if he is bribed by those who hate the Boy Scouts -- such an accusation, false though it be, can devastate the organization. Enough of them can destroy the organization utterly, a potential with which a large number of utterly ruthless enemies of the Boy Scouts must be well aware.
Even without molestation, boys just going through puberty may have an exaggerated fear of molestation or ogling; what an adult should be able to handle might still traumatize a teen.
An embarassed boy may be terrified that the scoutmaster might see him undressing or in the shower; he might be afraid to ask questions about his bodily changes; knowing that the scoutmaster in general finds boys or yound men physically attractive, the boy might well not want to be seen with the scoutmaster, worried that others will draw the wrong conclusion. As mentoring is a primary function of the Boy Scouts, an openly gay scoutmaster or an openly gay scout cannot help but cause problems.
I had a friend in junior high (now called middle school, for those readers just recently graduated from junior high); call him M. M. was rather high strung as it was; then one day he found, stuffed in his school locker, several pages of gay porn pictures. I thought it was kind of funny (no, I didn't put it there); but M. actually broke down sobbing, right in front of other schoolboys. Imagine how that affected his subsequent career at that school...!
Simply put, it's not something that young boys should have to confront if they don't seek it out, and certainly not while bonding nonsexually with other boys on scouting trips.
I detour now to contrast openly gay scoutmasters or scouts in the Boy Scouts to openly gay soldiers in military service, thus responding before the point is even raised. The most important distinction is of course age: There's a vast difference between an eighteen year old military recruit and an eleven year old Boy Scout. The former is expected to be able to handle sexual subjects -- as well as, you know, killing people -- without hysteria; the latter may have no personal experience with sexuality whatsoever... and may be very, very vulnerable.
Also, by the time a person is old enough to be in the military, he almost always knows his sexual preference; he is much closer to being fully formed as a sexual being. But a pubescent or even pre-pubescent boy may still be confused or uncertain about his sexual identity and not prepared to confront the subject in such a visceral or tactile way. He just wants to hike and earn merit badges, not wonder whether he really has the hots for his scoutmaster or tentmate or just likes and admires him a lot.
Finally, I passionately believe that one of our fundamental rights is to defend the society in which we live; it's an extension of the fundamental and universal right of self-defense. Contrariwise, nobody has a constitutional "right" to be a member of the Boy Scouts of America; it's a private club, like a bowling league or a synagogue.
The BSA is among other things a religious organization; and as such, it promotes a moral code that is necessarily "divisive" and "exclusionary": It divides the population into those fit to join and those unfit to join, and excludes the latter. Among other things, you cannot profess disbelief in God and still join the Scouts; but of course, Wiccans, Druids, worshippers of Crom, and even atheist agitators are legally allowed to join the service. Recruiters are forbidden by law from discriminating on the basis of religion.
Thus I demonstrate no contradiction or hypocrisy in supporting the full integration of openly gay servicemen while simultaneously opposing the same integration among the Boy Scouts and similar youth organizations. In fact, I'm hopping mad that the Girl Scouts appear to have caved completely on this subject... though of course, it's nowhere near as bad for a lesbian scoutmaster (scoutmistress?) to lead girls into the woods than for a gay male scoutmaster to lead boys into the woods. (If you can't see why, ask in comments.)
Thus my defense of the policy; now my fear about the legal strategy itself. Anent the lawsuit in question and the $18 million verdict it spawned...
I have no information about the provenance of this suit, but here is my worry: The Left, having been thwarted by the federal courts (which finally held that the BSA is a private organization, so can exclude gays and atheists without violating anyone's civil liberties), might now take a different tack -- and use accusations of gay molestation to sue the Boy Scouts out of existence.
Of course, this would send a message precisely the opposite of what the Left's first line of lawsuits sent; but if our national socialist movement had the chance to destroy one of its most hated enemies, the Boy Sprouts, would the Left really care how it did so? It may already be sponsoring, or even inventing out of whole cloth, such lawsuits; just as I'm sure many of the similar molestation suits against the Catholic Church were discovered and promoted, if not actually fabricated, by leftists more interested in destroying the Church than obtaining "justice" for the (real or fake) molestation victims.
What a sick irony that would be. I certainly hope the Scouts can weather this storm; what a dreary world would be revealed by the BSA's obliteration.
Cross-posted on Hot Air's rogues' gallery...
August 27, 2007
Bound for Glory - INSTANT UPDATE!
Now that so many conservative Republicans (especially bloggers of the Right) have got their wish, and Attorney General Alberto Gonzales is out the door, I eagerly await the rest of their promised scenario: I now wait with bated breath for the strong, conservative, take-no-prisoners Attorney General nominee who will take firm control and start enforcing the conservatives' favorite laws with vigor and enthusiasm!
Yes sir, I'm ready for that change. Conservative pundits and bloggers have argued that if only President Bush would dump Gonzales, we could get someone really, really good in his place: we will get an Attorney General who will:
- Sail through confirmation hearings on the strength of his or her personal honesty, loyalty, and solid conservative credentials (not just some interim, acting Attorney General who is crippled by his inability to be confirmed);
- Strongly oppose all "affirmative action," racial preferences on principle;
- Crack down hard on employers who hire illegals and swift deport any illegals who commit crimes in this country;
- Go after anyone who commits voter fraud or accepts bribes, even if he happens to be a Democratic congressman;
- Defend the presidential prerogative to fire employees who have their own, more liberal agenda than the administration;
- Run the Department of Justice with a firm and stalwart hand;
- Use the office of the Attorney General and all Justice Department resources to thoroughly investigate and track radical Moslems in this country via the FBI, CIA, NSA, with warrantless eavesdropping and surveillance of radical mosques as necessary;
- And especially strongly enforces the new ban on partial-birth abortion.
So let's see it; let's see the next John Ashcroft who will be easily confirmed by the Democrats in the Senate... because he's so darned good, even Majority Leader Harry "Pinky" Reid (D-Caesar's Palace, 90%) and Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY, 100%) cannot deny him.
I'm sure the Democrats will cooperate. They would never demand that the president pick from a short list prepared by Sens. Schumer, Ted Kennedy (D-MA, 100%), Carl Levin (D-MI, 100%), and Russell Feingold (D-WI, 100%). Now we're sure to get someone who will make it his priority to round up all the illegals and deport them, clean up Democratic corruption, press forward strongly with updating and defending the Patriot Act, strongly enforce the ban on partial-birth abortion, land on voter fraud like a ton of bowling balls, and authorize all current and future intelligence operations against terrorists. After all, the Democrats only want what's best for the country, too.
Surely the Democrats will not see this resignation as encouragement of their thuggish tactics against Gonzales. Rather, I'm convinced they will now feel guilt and remorse over the way they hounded an innocent man out of office. Democrats are human too; I cannot imagine them crowing in triumph, having driven both Karl Rove and Alberto Gonzales out of office in the same month.
Not only that, but the departure of Gonzales will assuredly lead to a big jump in President Bush's approval ratings. America has been desperately waiting for him to get rid of Gonzales and appoint a much more conservative fellow; and they will react to the nomination and confirmation process by showing strong, new support for the president.
I wouldn't want to insult our friends across the aisle. I'm sure they will no longer seek to interrogate Gonzales about any of the ginned-up "scandals" they have tried to hang around his neck. And while it might appear to partisans that President Bush is now on the ropes -- having had to throw two of his most trusted Texas friends to the howling Democratic dog pack -- I'm sure Democrats such as Squeaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Haight-Ashbury, 95%), Reps. Henry Waxman (D-CA, 95%) and John Conyers (D-MI, 100%), and Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT, 95%) will accept the resignation in the spirit in which it's given: They will urge the president to nominate the best man or woman for the job, without regard to ideology, and promise to quickly confirm any strong, principled, conservative leader sent to the Hill.
I'm equally morally certain that the conservatives are right: The Democrats will not use the resignation of Gonazles as "vindication" of their wild accusations against Gonzales, will not take this opportunity to demand the reinstatement of those fired U.S. Attorneys, will not demand that any AG nominee agree to give Congress veto power over the firing of future U.S. Attorneys or presidential aides, and won't insist that the president's advisors, such as Harriett Miers and Karl Rove, testify under oath whenever Congress summons them.
I'm sure they will be more than willing to confirm an Attorney General who promises to continue to fight all these battles against the Legislative branch on behalf of the Executive, because deep down, Democrats in Congress yearn for the strong constitutional separation of powers that prevents them from running all policy from Capitol Hill.
So thank goodness Gonzales resigned to clear the decks for a powerful, competent, thoroughgoing conservative Attorney General to rescue the administration from its drift towards comprehensive solutions to bipartisan problems and back to the principled, uncompromising, man-the-barricades domestic policy that we are assured will flow from the resignation of the mushy Alberto Gonzales.
I can hardly wait for the triumphant confirmation hearings to see the chastened, humbled Democrats!
UPDATE: In particular, I have full confidence that if the president nominates Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff to be the new Attorney General, that the Democrats would never take political advantage of the confirmation hearings to, in addition to everything else...
- Renew their demands that waterboarding, stress positions, temperature changes, the belly slap, the attention grab, and all other forms of "torture" be expressly forbidden in all cases of captured terrorists, no matter what the circumstances; they would never dream of arguing that Chertoff, as head of DHS, has violated the rights of radical Islamists;
- Reinvigorate their insistance that the Patriot Act -- which Chertoff co-authored, and which the Democrats have been trying to repeal ever since they voted for it -- be substantially rewritten to remove, on "civil liberties" concerns, all provisions that allow government to investigate potential domestic terrorists;
- Relive their bestselling rewrite of the history of FEMA's response to Hurricane Katrina;
- Make fun of his skeletal appearance;
- Allow Sen. Clinton to vent her spleen on Chertoff's role in investigating Whitewater.
I'm sure he'll just cruise to confirmation, being so beloved on the Hill.
UPDATE²: Heck, even Sen. Schumer himself said “Democrats will not obstruct or impede a nominee who we are confident will put the rule of law above political considerations.” If you can't trust the word of Chuck Schumer, who can you trust?
And of course, the confirmation hearing that would have to be held for whomever Bush nominates to replace Chertoff as Secretary of Homeland Security won't pose any problems of its own. Again, the Democrats, realizing the seriousness of the situation and being foursquare behind President Bush's response to 9/11, will swiftly confirm any serious-minded war-fighter Bush nominates.
March 22, 2007
Or, Why I don't fear "Eurabia"
There is a reason, a strong reason, why the West dominates the entire world, sitting astride it as a colossus. It is because Western culture in general, and American culture in particular (as the West's "shining city on a hill"), is Borg culture: We assimilate the best parts of all other cultures we contact, becoming stronger thereby. Resistance is futile.
I do not see us bowing down and surrendering to these turban-headed, Koran-waving, fatwah-issuing, jihadist popinjays and blusterers... no matter what Mark Steyn thinks. We sent them reeling back from the gates of Vienna; we brought the Barbary pirates to their knees -- literally; we crushed Turkey and Araby as a side dish in the Great War; and we dispatched the Taliban and the Baathists in a campaign that lasted about as long as it took to ship our soldiers to the field.
That jihadists, Shia and Sunni, are still extant is a testament to their relative insignificance. Until 9/11, we were barely even aware of their existence; we were too worried about Communism -- a thoroughly Western perverson. Now that the sleeping giant has awakened, terrorists are dying hot and cowardly throughout the ummah; and we have even managed to turn their more modern Moslem brothers against them.
The men and women of the West are simply not going to kowtow to a gaggle (even a largish gaggle) of child-immolating minions of Moloch... not even in "Europe" (as if it were monolithic). And as exhibit A, read this:
A German judge has stirred a storm of protest here by citing the Koran in turning down a German Muslim woman’s request for a fast-track divorce on the ground that her husband beat her.
In a remarkable ruling that underlines the tension between Muslim customs and European laws, the judge, Christa Datz-Winter, said that the couple came from a Moroccan cultural milieu, in which she said it was common for husbands to beat their wives. The Koran, she wrote, sanctions such physical abuse.
But wait! Doesn't that completely undermine everything I just said? A German judge -- a woman, in fact -- has just denied a fellow woman an emergency divorce from her abusive husband... in essence, on the grounds of Sharia law. She ruled that the woman must endure the legally required year-long separation... even if that means her violent and sadistic husband kills her for his "honor.'
Surely that must be evidence that Europe has given up and surrendered to the dark side! Oh, but read on:
News of the ruling brought swift and sharp condemnation from politicians, legal experts, and Muslim leaders in Germany, many of whom said they were confounded that a German judge would put 7th-century Islamic religious teaching ahead of modern German law in deciding a case involving domestic violence....
“A judge in Germany has to refer to the constitutional law, which says that human rights are not to be violated,” said Günter Meyer, director of the Center for Research on the Arab World at the University of Mainz. “It’s not her task to interpret the Koran,” Mr. Meyer said of Judge Datz-Winter. “It was an attempt at multi-cultural understanding, but in completely the wrong context.”
Reaction to the decision has been almost as sulfurous as it was to the cancellation of the opera.
“When the Koran is put above the German constitution, I can only say, ‘Good night, Germany,’ ” Ronald Pofalla, general secretary of the main conservative party in the country, the Christian Democratic Union, said to the mass-market paper Bild.
Dieter Wiefelspütz, a member of Parliament from the more liberal Social Democratic Party, said in an interview that he could not recall any court ruling in years that had aroused so much indignation.
The "cancellation of the opera" refers to the September, 2006 cancellation of a staging of the Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart opera Idomeneo by the Deutsche Oper Berlin, because the performance contained a scene depicting the severed head of Mohammed... which was added by the current director:
The disputed scene is not part of Mozart’s opera, but was added by the director, Hans Neuenfels. In it, the king of Crete, Idomeneo, carries the heads of Muhammad, Jesus, Buddha and Poseidon on to the stage, placing each on a stool.
Even so, the hullaballoo throughout Germany was so cacophanous, the opera company was forced to restore the stricken opera. From our current story:
Last fall, a Berlin opera house canceled performances of a Mozart opera because of security fears. The opera includes a scene that depicts the severed head of the Prophet Muhammad. Stung by charges that it had surrendered its artistic freedom, the opera house staged the opera three months later without incident.
But how about European Moslems? Are they rioting in the streets in support of the unnamed Moroccan husband's right to beat his wife, just as the Koran dictates? Is a pro-wife-beating intifada about to erupt in Berlin, demanding that a section of the city be set aside for Sharia law, where wife beatings, honor killings, and martyrdom operations are legally allowed?
In fact, exactly the opposite: German Moslems are hotly denying that the Koran allows spousal abuse:
Muslim leaders agreed that Muslims living here must be judged by the German legal code. But they were just as offended by what they characterized as the judge’s misinterpretation of a much-debated passage in the Koran governing relations between husbands and wives.
While the verse cited by Judge Datz-Winter does say husbands may beat their wives for disobedience -- an interpretation embraced by Wahhabi and other fundamentalist Islamic groups -- most mainstream Muslims have long rejected wife-beating as a relic of the medieval age.
“Our prophet never struck a woman, and he is our example,” Ayyub Axel Köhler, the head of the Central Council of Muslims in Germany, said in an interview.
It is completely irrelevant whether they are correct about Mohammed or not, and even whether they are correct about the intent of that sura from al-Quran; the only important point is that a wide contingent of German Moslems are embarassed by it and want to pretend it doesn't exist... which is an excellent sign. Christians have done the same with verses such as Exodus 22:18 KJV, or 22:17 NAB/Tanakh: No Christian or Jewish theologian today literally advocates putting anyone to death for sorcery or witchcraft; the biblical verse is "interpreted" to require only spiritual condemnation -- not physical extermination.
But what about this poor, abused woman's case? Does she have to go through the dangerous, year-long separation normally required under German law? Her attorney was concerned that the husband -- who she says already issued death-threats against the wife -- might think that he had the legal right to kill her, since even Judge Datz-Winter said she was still his wife... and more or less sanctioned his violent abuse.
Well, the German courts worried about that message, too:
On Wednesday, the court in Frankfurt abruptly removed Judge Datz-Winter from the case, saying it could not justify her reasoning....
Judge Datz-Winter declined to comment for this article. But a spokesman for the court, Bernhard Olp, said the judge did not intend to suggest that violence in a marriage is acceptable or that the Koran supersedes German law. “The ruling is not justifiable, but the judge herself cannot explain it at this moment,” he said....
A new judge will be assigned to the case, but Ms. Becker-Rojczyk said her client would probably nonetheless have to wait until May for her divorce, since the paperwork for a fast-track divorce would take several months in any event.
So in the end, what do we have? We have a boneheaded judge essentially ruling that Moslem women cannot get a fast-track divorce just because their husbands beat them, because under Sharia law, that's all they can expect.
But then we have a huge, nationwide, explosive reaction by the political, judicial, and religious communities of Germany against that ruling... even including the Islamic community, male and female. No Sharia supporter can possibly be heartened by that response, which conclusively demonstrates that Germans are not at all willing to march down the multi-culti highway to hell.
That ruling was the social equivalent of 9/11... and it's had the same psychological effect there as the physical attacks that day had on us: It has awakened another Western power to the threat posed by the jihadists; and once awake, the giant begins to fight with mighty hammer-blows.
Mark Steyn is wrong, and I suspect he would be a happy man if we could but convince him that he is wrong: We are not "America alone." We are the West. And while America may have been the first to awaken, we are slowly managing to rouse our smaller, older, wearier siblings from their fitful slumbers.
And when we're all finally on our feet, the modern jihadists, from Iran and Hezbollah to the Wahhabis and al-Qaeda, will join the Barbary pirates in the dustbin of history.
February 20, 2007
D.C. Circus to Detainees: Drop Dead
Perhaps the most important ruling of the Bush era (Boumediene v. Bush) was just released today: the D.C. Circus has ruled, by a 2-1 majority, that unlawful enemy combatants detained by the military do not have the right to appeal to the civilian courts to be released:
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled 2-1 that civilian courts no longer have the authority to consider whether the military is illegally holding the prisoners - a decision that will strip court access for hundreds of detainees with cases currently pending.
"The arguments are creative but not cogent. To accept them would be to defy the will of Congress," wrote Judge A. Raymond Randolph in the 25-page opinion, which was joined by Judge David B. Sentelle. Both are Republican appointees to the federal bench.
Judge Arthur Raymond Randolph was appointed by the first President Bush in 1990; Judge David Sentelle was appointed by Ronald Reagan in 1985. The third member of the panel (who dissented with the ruling) was Judge Judith Ann Wilson Rogers, was appointed by President Clinton in 1993.
The New York Times adds a few interesting fillips:
The court’s majority, citing Supreme Court and other precedent, held that the right of habeas corpus does not extend to foreign citizens detained outside the United States -- the prisoners covered by the new law. A lower court in December followed the same logic to the same conclusion in a related case, involving Salim Ahmed Hamdan, whose earlier appeal to the Supreme Court had led to the overturning of the previous Congressional attempts to limit the prisoners’ avenues to the federal courts.
The decision today, Lakhdar Boumediene v. George W. Bush, involved a consolidation of the cases of 63 detainees, all from foreign countries, who had sought review in two separate federal district courts in Washington. One federal district judge had ruled in 2005 that she had the authority to consider the cases, while another judge ruled that he did not, and granted the administration’s motion to dismiss the cases.
In the earlier case referenced above, Hamdan v. Rumsfeld, Salim Hamdan petititoned for a writ of habeas corpus (seeking release) last December to D.C. District Court Judge James Robertson; but under the new Military Commission Act, he denied the petition.
Robertson, appointed by Clinton in 1994, had granted Hamdan's first habeas corpus petition in 2004. The decision was overturned by a three-judge panel of the D.C. Circuit (which included then-Judge John Roberts) in 2005; but the Supreme Court overturned the D.C. Circuit.
Today's ruling in Boumediene v. Bush is only a way-station en route to the Supreme Court, where it will all come down to a single justice: Anthony Kennedy, who, in the Hamdan case (Hamdan v. Rumsfeld, 126 S.Ct. 2749, 2006), voted with the liberal justices John Paul Stevens, Ruth Bader Ginsberg, Stephen Breyer, and David Souter to strike down the earlier version of President Bush's military commissions, overturning the Roberts (not Robertson) decision of the D.C. Circuit.
(Chief Justice John Roberts recused himself from Hamdan, because he had ruled in the appellate court case before being nominated to the Court; thus, Hamdan was decided by 5-3 instead of 5-4.)
Justice Kennedy joined Justice Stevens' opinion only in part: he agreed that the Supreme Court had jurisdiction, and he agreed that the military commissions lacked constitutionality -- primarily because they were set up entirely by the executive branch of government. Kennedy left the door hanging wide for pretty much the same commissions (with some cosmetic changes) if they were enacted by Congress... which they were last October, as perhaps the last major legislation of the 109th Congress.
Thus, it's reasonable to hope that Kennedy may well uphold Boumediene, now that Congress has spoken. His main concurrance with Stevens was that, since the commissions were not formed by Congress and also differed from the military's procedure in the case of courts-martial, they were not "regularly constituted courts," as required by the Third Geneva Convention, Article 3, section (d), which prohibits --
-- the passing of sentences and the carrying out of executions without previous judgment pronounced by a regularly constituted court affording all the judicial guarantees which are recognized as indispensable by civilized peoples.
But even here, Kennedy dissented in part with the latter's extended exegesis on the Geneva Conventions, disagreeing with Justice Stevens whether those "indispensible" "judicial guarantees" gave a detainee the right to see all the evidence against him -- including highly classified information that would reveal intelligence methods and assets. Stevens and the other three liberal justices appear to want detainees to have all the same protections that would apply to an American gang-banger accused of carjacking or pickpocketing.
The dissent by Judge Rogers argues that the military commissions are unconstitutional because they restrict habeas corpus petitions and because they might include evidence derived from what she calls "torture." From the Times article:
In a dissenting opinion, Judge Judith W. Rogers said that the Military Commission Act had violated the constitutional provision that restricts the suspension of the writ of habeas corpus. She reasoned that the suspension clause limits Congressional powers, rather than conferring a right on the accused.
“Prior to the enactment of the Military Commissions Act, the Supreme Court acknowledged that the detainees held at Guantánamo had a statutory right to habeas corpus,” Judge Rogers wrote. “The MCA purports to withdraw that right but does so in a manner that offends the constitutional constraint on suspension.”
But the constitutional clause in question, Article I section 9, obviously can only apply to persons under the jurisdiction of the Constitution. Lakhdar Boumediene is not a citizen or resident of the United States, was captured abroad, and has never been held on U.S. soil. The only nexus to America is that he is guarded by U.S. forces.
He clearly is not subject to the protections of the United States Constitution... unless Rogers would also argue that U.S. civilian courts have jurisdiction over Iraqi prisoners held by an Iraqi Army unit that happens to include a couple of embedded U.S. Marines.
"District courts are well able to adjust these proceedings in light of the government's significant interests in guarding national security," wrote Rogers, a Clinton appointee. "More significant still, continued detention may be justified by a CSRT on the basis of evidence resulting from torture."
Despite Rogers' dissent, this ruling is an excellent step towards restoring judicial sanity to the wartime powers of the president. Clearly, we have always in the past believed that enemy combatants can be detained indefinitely ("for the duration of hostilities"); there is no reason why the civilian courts, which have never been involved in such decisions, should suddenly have jurisdiction over POWs, whether lawful combatants -- enemy soldiers -- or unlawful combatants, non-military, ununiformed spies, saboteurs, and terrorists.
Let's hope that Justice Kennedy is now satisfied that the military tribunals are "regularly constituted," and we can get on with the job of fighting the war against global jihadism.
August 16, 2006
Will the Circle Be Broken? I Hope So!
John "Hindrocket" Hinderaker has a long and interesting piece up on Power Line asking whether the policies of the American Left, as personified by President Russell Feingold, would differ all that much from those of the center-right; he concludes that they probably would be very similar:
Lest there be any misunderstanding, I am not saying that there would be no important foreign policy differences between, say, a Feingold administration and a McCain, Allen or Giuliani administration. There would be. But I think the practical reality is that events in Iraq have constrained what a conservative administration can do, while the overriding need to forestall terrorist attacks constrains what a liberal administration can do. As a result, the gap in practice between the two alternatives would be, I think, much narrower than one might expect from the rhetorical gulf that separates the parties.
Thus, the two ends of the spectrum meet, forming a circle. Ack.
First, I take issue with the idea that "events in Iraq have constrained what a conservative administration can do," a claim that presupposes that Iraq is a disaster and will still be seen as such in the second decade of this century. Not only is it too early to make a final judgment on that, but even what has happened so far has produced much more of a benefit than a detriment.
As even John admits, we will have withdrawn our soldiers from most of Iraq by 2008, leaving them only in a few trouble spots, including Baghdad; and while we'll still be there, we likely will not be as visible, as vulnerable, or as violently engaged four or five years from now, during the next president's first term.
Instead, Iraq will either be a more or less democratic nation that has more or less damped down the looming (but as yet unarrived) "civil war;" or else it will have split in three -- each of which is still less threatening than an Iraq unified under Saddam Hussein was.
As more and more information trickles out about Iraq's WMD programs (and even small stockpiles), and as we see the effect of democracy in the heart of the Arab Middle East, and with less direct American involvement, public support will shift in favor of the war. Thus, it will not be the deterrent that a straight-line projection of today's attitude forward implies.
But that aside, I am a little surprised that John missed the most important distinction between Left and Right in America: simple competence.
Jimmy Carter's problem wasn't so much that he wanted America to fail or that he wanted revolution to engulf the world; his biggest problem was that he is stupid. Not just intellectually, where his stupidity manifests as an incuriosity about the liberal bromides and shibboleths he gulped whole in his youth; more damaging was his complete lack of interest in foreign policy, military strategy, and intelligence gathering.
We do not study what we could not care less about, and that shouted itself loud and clear throughout his single term: he ended intelligence programs, refused to listen to briefings on looming problems, and evidently believed that fact would tumble to political theory like wheat beneath the scythe.
Consequently, we were caught flat-footed again and again by events that should have been readily apparent: Ayatollah Khomeini had been in Paris for years talking about how he would lead an Islamic revolution in Iran; yet even so, Carter and his emasculated CIA were suckerpunched twice: first by the revolution itself, which they never saw coming, and second by the seizure of the American embassy.
Too, the Soviets were well-known expansionists since before Carter was born in 1924; the Communists in Afghanistan had been growing in power since before Carter became president in 1977; and indeed, they seized power via coup d'état in 1978, more than a year before Carter was stunned by the Soviet invasion to prop them up. Only a total moron could fail to see that one coming... but that is what Carter's ideological blinders had made him into: a de facto moron.
Bill Clinton was every bit as politically savvy as Jimmy Carter; but he was also just as obtuse about events beyond the narrow calculation of political advantage. Thus, besides the policy of forcing Israel to appease the Arabs (which Clinton shared with Carter), Clinton also thought he could buy the North Koreans off their nuclear ambitions (or else he knew the "Agreed Framework" would not hold beyond 2000, but he simply didn't care); he thought that the terrorists who were pricking us with a needle would never progress to smashing us in the face with a baseball bat (or else he didn't care what happened, so long as it was after his successor took office); and he imagined that the bubble economy could float on air forever... or at least past January 20th, 2001.
(Clinton, as a New Leftist, also had no personal moral compass, no absolute right and wrong, and thought nothing of lying to the American public, cheating on his wife, raping Juanita Broaddrick, and accepting multi-million-dollar bribes from our greatest enemy, Red China, in exchange for funneling nuclear technology to them.)
The problem is not that Democrats don't want America to succeed; it's that they want other things more, and that they're really a rather incompetent bunch anyway, taken as a group.
Russell Feingold -- John's example -- voted against the Iraq War; presumably, had he been president, we would not have invaded Iraq and toppled Saddam Hussein. Would that be a better world for America? I think not.
Too, Feingold barely even believes that terrorists exist, and he certainly doesn't think them a very serious issue. John believes that a Democratic president would be just as willing to use "[t]he anti-terror tools pioneered by the Bush administration... with equal vigor":
In terms of the broader war against terror, I think the danger posed by a liberal Democrat like Feingold may also be overstated. Once a Democratic President actually takes power, his number one priority will be preventing terrorist attacks on American soil, for the best of all possible reasons: self-interest. The anti-terror tools pioneered by the Bush administration will be used with equal vigor, I think, by any Democrat, no matter how liberal, who may follow. Anyone who thinks, for example, that a Democratic President would stop eavesdropping on international conversations among terrorists, and thereby risk being blamed for another September 11, is seriously misguided.
But if Feingold's ideology tells him that by appeasing the terrorists (he would say "treating them with respect"), they would no longer hold any desire to attack us... then why would he think his "self-interest" would be served by going after them? And if he sincerely believes that our greatest strength is the magical embodiment of the volk, and that this spirit depends upon applying all elements of the Bill of Rights to terrorists captured on foreign battlefields, why would he risk America's mystic connection with the Holy Spirit by vigorously interrogating al-Qaeda members?
Yes of course, Democrats will use the eavesdropping tools... but use them for what, and against whom? Certainly not for the aggressive interdiction of terrorism that has characterized the Bush administration. Recall that the wall of separation between intelligence and criminal investigation was erected, or at least vastly expanded beyond any court-ordered height, by Bill Clinton's deputy attorney general, Jamie Gorelick -- who surely had only the best of intentions.
Yet at the same time, Clinton embarked upon an ingelligence-gathering program and smear campaign that rivaled that of Richard Nixon:
- The Billy Dale prosecution;
- Craig Livingstone's FBI-file seizure;
- The use of the IRS to harass political enemies;
- Violent threats and orchestrated leaks of classified information against women who might testify against Clinton;
- Black-bagging Vince Foster's office after he died of self-administered lead poisoning.
Perhaps I've grown cynical in my dotage, but I simply wouldn't trust the next Bill Clinton to restrict his use of "anti-terror tools" to suspected terrorists, rather than suspected conservatives. (Of course, every minute of manpower devoted to political intel is unavailable for anti-terrorist intel.)
Then there is the problem that, while the Left may believe in protecting America (some of them do, at least), it's just not their top priority; there are other, more important portions on their plates.
Thus, while President Bush has by and large decided political appointments by merit and practical need (Condoleezza Rice, John Bolton, John Roberts, Samuel Alito, Donald Rumsfeld) -- even when he turns out to be wrong (Harriet Miers, perhaps) -- the last Democratic president decided them by which special-interest group (blacks, feminists, gays, Arabs) needed immediate appeasement; and Democratic presidents before that decided them on the basis of purity of ideology.
Thus, George W. Bush appointed John Ashcroft; Bill Clinton appointed Janet Reno (satisfying two of the special-interest groups above); and Lyndon Johnson appointed Ramsey Clark!
On federal judges, the ideological leftism of Clinton and Carter nominees is legendary; while Republican appointees sometimes "grow in office," Democratic appointees arrive fully grown and ready for instant deployment in the Kulturkampf.
I really think John missed the forest for the lawn. Everything he says is true, but incomplete... and the Devil is in the diaries: the very issues of focus and competence that he skipped over are determinative here. That is why a hard-left president like Russell Feingold (and even a center-left president like Mark Warner) would be catastrophically worse than a center-right president like Mitt Romney, or even a center-center Republican president like Rudy Giuliani.
April 7, 2006
The Continental Divide
There are two basic camps on immigration; the camp you choose typically determines your positions and priorities.
- Illegal immigrants are essentially criminals.
- Illegal immigrants are essentially thwarted freedom-seekers.
There is an interesting geographic dispersal about these camps: the first is primarily found in states that have very few illegal immigrants, the second primarily in states that have a very large illegal population -- though of course there are campsites of each in each type of state.
To characterize the first camp:
Illegal aliens are line jumpers. Lacking either patience or any sense of the rule of law, unwilling to wait alongside others equally anxious to become Americans, they simply steal into the country unasked, like arrogant burglars.
They have no respect for private property. They pretend to want only freedom and liberty, but what they really want is a better material life: jobs in America pay more than in Mexico or the rest of Latin America. There is nothing wrong with materialism... but it must be bought, not stolen. Others have waited longer; the illegals push them aside and just take what everyone else has to earn.
They carry their culture with them and disdain ours. Most have no interest in being Americans; they just want to leech off of America to send money to their relatives back home -- and to bring those relatives here like parasites to sponge off of Uncle Sugar.
Even legal immigrants bother me when they make plain they don't think much of America, except as a cow to be milked. Assimilation has been a dismal failure; illegal aliens are just more direct about what they want. Look at the protesters -- see how many Mexican flags and how few American flags!
They don't belong here. We should never reward burglars simply for being devious enough to avoid discovery for five years. They should leave. If they won't leave voluntarily, it's our duty to make them leave by any means necessary.
It's our country, native-born and naturalized citizens... not theirs, not yet. First take back our territory, and then maybe we'll discuss what to do about those already here illegally.
And I'll also characterize the other camp -- to which I note I firmly belong:
Illegal immigrants are caught in a bind. They are more sinned against than sinning.
If we had rational immigration laws that evaluated each immigrant on a case-by-case basis, making plain what he needs to do and to refrain from doing, then most of them would be legal immigrants. They are "illegal" because our laws are archaic and arbitrary, not because they are inherently dishonest.
Most came here seeking only freedom of the individual and a better life for their families. If we give them half a chance, they will join America fully, assimilate, learn English, and be as good a resident and eventually citizen as the European immigrants who came before them.
Of course, some illegal immigrants don't fit that description. Some are merely here to work; those should be guest workers, not on the citizenship track. And some are just criminal thugs whom we should exclude from the country or deport if they manage to slip through. But they constitute a tiny minority of all those who immigrate here illegally.
All we need do is rationalize the system so a would-be immigrant knows what is expected of him -- and what he can expect, of a certainty, if he plays by the rules. If he knows that by following a prescribed procedure, he can eventually become an American citizen... then he will lose all interest in sneaking across the border and living a lie.
Give them a chance; they are no different than your grandparents and great-great grandparents. Only our government has changed, becoming harder and less tolerant of the engine that drove us for more than 130 years before the clampdown.
So which camp are you? It's a good proxy measurement for whether you support or oppose the current Senate compromise legislation.
March 16, 2006
Shibboleths of Sharia
In Scott Johnson's succinct and well-argued post Relics of Barbarism, he lays out the case for the triumph of "good order" over liberty. But I think he is deeply mistaken if he fails to grasp that what separates America from the rest of the world is our belief that liberty wins over order.
There are of course exceptions; liberty is not license... in particular, not a license to hurt or even severely inconvenience or disgust others. There is no right to "do it in the road," John Lennon notwithstanding; and a verminous, unwashed, noisome bum has no right to loiter in the public library, gagging and driving out the rest of us.
But the balance must be far more towards individual liberty than Scott seems to desire. He notes with particular ire the case Lawrence v. Texas, in which the Court overturned all state laws against "sodomy," however one chooses to define that. In that context, Scott argues thus:
The Court itself, however, has done much to erode the social consensus fostering laws prohibiting practices commonly recognized as inconsistent with republican government. In her Star Tribune column today, Katherine Kersten looks at the question of polygamy in the context of the debate over same-sex marriage: "Once same-sex marriage is OK, polygamy's next." [Emphasis added]
Perhaps I'm being unusually dense today, but I'm baffled how two guys having sex in the privacy of their own home is "inconsistent with republican government." I hope some conservative can explain it to me.
For more about this topic, please read on....
This paragraph is a synecdoche of the tragic flaw of contemporary conservatism: in their zeal to fight the Kulturkampf, the "culture war," against the forces of radical secularism -- who would burn the divine out of America as the Spanish Inquisition tried to burn away "sorcery" with their auto da feys -- conservatives neglect the enemy ever lurking on their right: those fanatics who would swing the pendulum the opposite direction, all the way to sharia law, whether Moslem, Christian, or Jew.
The only bulwark against both forms of extremism is the mass belief in individual liberty. There is no other army that can defend us.
If "good order" is our lodestone, what cannot a state do? Can it --
- Ban long hair;
- Ban dancing;
- Ban smoking;
- Ban drinking;
- Ban rap and hip-hop;
- Ban raggedy clothing;
- Ban boorish behavior, such as refusing to open the door for ladies and seniors;
- Ban lending money for interest;
- Ban strikes;
- Ban protests;
- Make voting mandatory;
- Make civility to citizens -- and servility to officials -- mandatory.
Any of this sound familiar to you students of history? This is precisely what state-centered governments, from brutal thugocracies like the Taliban to absolute totalitarian states like Stalinist Russia to relatively benign and peaceful tyrannies like Singapore, have done since the rocks were cooling: How dare you pass by the hat of the king without bowing? Put this apple on your son's head, and let's see you plink it off, Mr. Tell!
But let's focus like a laser beam on the interesting linkage Scott created above between Lawrence on the one hand and polygamy and same-sex marriage on the other. Can we not see a yawning conceptual gulf between what we are willing to tolerate... and what we must venerate by invoking formal government sanction? As an addendum to this post, John Hinderaker notes:
At least one case has already been filed in federal court, alleging on the basis of Lawrence that there is a constitutional right to polygamy. More are sure to come.
Of course -- because the extreme Left despises individual liberty just as much as the extreme right. Neither Scott nor John is an extremist, naturally; but both have a bit of a tin ear for detecting extremism from the right-hand side of the aisle. (So do I, but at least I work at it!)
A responsible judge would respond that Lawrence only said states couldn't ban certain types of sexual relations; it did not hold we have to formally sanction the related relationship. (You have the free-speech right to publish a manifesto; you don't have the right to read all 87 pages of it in the well of the House of Representatives.)
Some Justices on the Court may well look kindly upon that lawsuit; we have a problem with extremists of the Left infesting the court system, after eight years of Clintonian nominations and Republican belly-crawling. But the answer is not to throw out the liberty with the leftism.
A strong and mandatory commitment to individual liberty is what makes America unique. From our first Organic Law, the Declaration of Independence:
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
From our second, the Constitutiton of the United States:
We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, 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.
"Oh, that only applies to Congress," is the usual rejoinder; "states should be free to regular order at the expense of unnecessary liberty."
But does anyone making that argument really believe what he says? Will any conservative stand up and say that individual states should be free to ban dissent and establish a state church? Ever since the Fourteenth Amendment, courts have asserted (rightly, in my opinion) that the "fundamental rights" protected by the U.S. Constitution extend to state laws as well as federal; the only question is what is a fundamental right and what is a "created right," such as the right to vote for president (which obviously cannot exist prior to the Constitution itself). I have never heard any conservative today argue that the state of California can authorize random search and seizure, allow tortured confessions at trial, and compel all citizens to convert to Alan-Watts-style Buddhism.
Deep down, "we the people" understand better than most politicians that the most fundamental right of all is the right to swing one's fist -- which ends where another man's nose begins. "The governed" have consented that there exists a fundamental right to be let alone, alone to live our own potty lives without having to account to government bureaucrats.
We recognize limits: you can keep guns but not explosives, because the danger of the latter is too great; you can call the governor a son of a bitch, but you can't call for his assassination. A man's home is his castle, but not when he's sexually abusing his children. But we know what the default decision should be, absent extenuating circumstances: more individual liberty.
This is why there just is no great sentiment for banning abortion, but almost overwhelming support for banning partial-birth abortion: because the American people are more nuanced than the partisans, and they recognize the difference between four cells and an actual baby. It's not "inconsistent," as some claim; it's common sense.
And we also recognize the huge difference between allowing a couple of sheepboys "get it on" in a pup tent without suffering arrest and imprisonment -- and formally declaring their relationship to be as valuable to society as marriage. And we wonder at those (like Robert Bork) so blinded by agenda that they see no distinction at all: everything bad must be banned; everything good must be mandated. And soon, as Robert Anton Wilson suggests, everything not compulsory is forbidden.
Leave us alone! I happen to want to live happily with my wife, but I couldn't care less that my next-door neighbor is a "man's man." Or that he smokes. Or that he keeps a stupid, little yappy dog -- unless the dog starts waking me up in the morning, or he blows the smoke in my face. And for society's sake, I care very much indeed if we bestow our official nihil obstat on pornographic art or same-sex marriage, on polygamy or "transgendering."
If you must have those, do them on your own steam without state support or social sanction!
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