July 2011 Archives


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Can someone please explain to me how the few Republicans who oppose Boehner's debt ceiling plan are "crazy," but the couple hundred Democrats who oppose it are ... not?

No, I didn't think so.

I mean, you could adopt the view of that idiot savant from the New York Times, Paul Krugman, who consistently pushes a textbook question-begging fallacy as though it were a rational point of view, and say that the Republicans are worse because they are wrong, and the Democrats are right, regardless of your ability to actually demonstrate that without resorting to mere opinion.

But other than by question-begging, you can't seriously back up the claim that the Republicans who oppose the plan are the problem, not when the Democrats are unanimously opposing the plan, and there's far more of them who could push the bill over the top.

So why do we keep hearing that the Republicans who oppose it are crazy and evil and stupid, but we don't hear the same about the Democrats? There's one primary reason: the Tea Party is the most influential grassroots political organization in a lifetime in this nation, and the left fears it and wants to discredit it.

I could go on about how the "cut, cap, and balance" approach that the Tea Party folks support is the only rational plan moving forward: the Boehner, McConnell, Reid, Pelosi, and Obama proposals would all result in increased spending and almost certainly decreased credit rating. Even if you don't believe that, however, it is certainly rational to believe that, as it is in line with what S&P has recently said; and further, it is rational to believe that if we don't being to actually cut spending now (again, something the other proposals do not do), that we have a greater risk of long-term financial problems than if we default now.

The Washington DC mentality -- mostly because of fear of losing their own jobs -- is to always put off what can hurt until tomorrow. There's no doubt that default now would hurt. But I think bankruptcy -- which is the likely result of continuing to increase spending and debt -- will hurt more, so without actual spending decreases (not merely cuts in projected spending, but cuts in year-over-year spending), I would not support a debt increase, myself.

I could also point out how people who say not raising the debt limit would mean default are lying, but I've proven that several times over already (as have others, yet the myth persists). Again, it would be painful -- cutting massively across government so that we do not default -- but, again, that's better than bankruptcy.

So I could go on and on about these things, and show that the "Tea Party" position is more rational. But if your position is just, as the Democrats keep (dishonestly) saying, that we just need to increase the debt limit, and that this is the most important thing so we can get back to the problem of jobs ... then why are all the Democrats opposing all of Boehner's very modest proposals?

It's not a handful of "Tea Party Republicans" taking us to the brink here. The math is very plain, even for math-challenged people like Krugman: it's the Democrats who are preventing the debt limit increase. They refuse to back a (laughably) modest proposal by Boehner, and refuse to come up with any alternative.

It is utterly irrational and malicious to claim that Republicans are "taking America hostage" because a handful oppose the bill, while Democrats are "justified" because ... well, they just are; or that the Democrats are standing up to Boehner's bill because they are "trying to ... save the world from the Republican budget. We're trying to save life on this planet as we know it today."

Think about that: Nancy Pelosi is literally saying that $80 billion in cuts per year over 10 years is going to destroy life on this planet ... after she ballooned per-year spending about 15 times that in her short time as speaker, and the yearly increases moving forward are going to far exceed the amount Boehner proposes to cut.

Then again, no one today should be naive enough to look to Krugman or Pelosi for rational thought. Apparently, though, they do.

It's Not Fair

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Obama and most Democrats say we should do what they've always said we should do: have a "balanced" approach that has a combination of tax increases and spending cuts. Now, in fact, they actually propose increasing spending, but somehow this equates, in the media, to the Democrats "compromising" without regard to what their "base" wants.

But when the Republicans say we should do what they've always said we should do -- cut spending and don't raise taxes -- somehow they are afraid to offend their "base" so they refuse to "compromise."

It's pretty stupid stuff. What really gets me is how the media loves to say this is evidence that Washington is "broken," as if the fact of massive debt increases under Bush, and then far worse under Obama, are not evidence enough. If the Republicans completely capitulated and gave Obama what he is asking for -- tax increases and debt increases without any spending cuts -- the media would surely talk about how this was a "success" for democracy, an example of how Washington "can still work," even though it has set us on an accelerated course toward bankruptcy. Boehner and other Republicans would be lauded for their sensible compromise.

But if the Democrats gave in and we got "cut, cap, and balance," it would be, in the media, a massive failure, a complete and total surrender by Democrats, the end of the party as we know it, because how can it even exist if it won't stand up for its basic principles?

We see this passive-aggressive mentality in the recent flareup between Reps. Wasserman Schultz and West: the former -- the chair of the DNC -- gave a campaign speech on the floor of the House designed to hurt West with his constituents. She didn't use his name, and she didn't come out and say "he wants to kill old people," but she wanted to present people with the dishonest implication that West was sacrificing the health of the elderly for handouts to corporations. West responded, in a privare e-mail, with some nasty invective directly toward her.

The media, of course, thinks what West did was far worse. But I can't see it. What he said was more direct, but in substance, wasn't any worse than what she said. And at least he said it privately, instead of on the floor of the House (which violated House rules). And completely ignored is that while what Wasserman Schultz said about West was almost entirely untrue, what he said about her was almost entirely true.

We have this irrational style-over-substance, passive-aggressive, mentality, where if I call someone a liar, that's somehow worse than the lie I am referring to. So a process if "broken" if we cannot "compromise," but if we have a "compromise" that leads to bankruptcy, we have a process that is "working."

This sort of nonthink is no more evident than in the media's treatment of "fairness." On Meet the Press this morning, historian Doris Kearns Goodwin eloquently made the case for how great politicians of the past had a wonderful sense of fairness, which she essentially defined as being a moderate. But I defy her, or anyone else, to objectively explain to me how "cut, cap, and balance" is unfair to anyone. It's the beginning of the ultimate in fairness. We'd also need to have a flat-rate income or consumption tax, and continued cuts in the federal government, before we could be fair, but to me the entire federal policy of the moderates -- which is mostly leftwing-lite, including massive taxes on the middle class and wealthy, and massive expenditures to give things to people who "need" them -- is grossly unfair (not to mention unconstitutional).

Fairness means treating people equally, by the same standards. Fairness is the rule of law, where we don't let men change the rules to be whatever they wish after the fact. Fairness is, essentially, libertarianism/conservatism, where the government doesn't tell people how to live or what to do, let alone take what people have in order to bring about some desired social outcome.

You might think that it's a good thing to take from the rich to give to the poor, but it's not fair: it is, essentially, stealing, which is the opposite of fairness. When I give to charity, I don't do it because it's "fair," it's because I want to help people who need the help. I don't have this irrational self-loathing causing me to think that what I have isn't fair to other people. Of course it's fair: I didn't violate any laws or anyone's rights or do anything unreasonable to get what I have. So how is it not fair that I have it, that justifies anyone saying it is "fair" to take it to give it to someone else?

What bothers me isn't that someone has a different (and completely illogical) view of "fairness," or "compromise," or "broken": it's that the media almost entirely accepts these views as objective truth, when, if anything, there's a serious dearth of rational arguments backing up those views in the first place.

Jackson Lee Hates Black People

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Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX) accused Republicans of opposing the debt increase because they are racists.

Now, obviously, she is not stupid enough to believe such a thing. She has been in Congress for 16 years, and she knows quite well that what she's saying makes no sense. She also knows that no one else in Congress believes it, or will be swayed by her words.

So why say it?

There's only one reason: to perpetuate the lie that Republicans are racist so that black voters will be more likely to vote for Democrats. She hates black people so much, has so little respect for them, that she cannot honestly lay out the issues and trust them with making their own decisions about how to vote for based on the facts. She wants to keep them down and beholden to her, by lying to them about some group of "others" that's out to get them.

And frankly, President Obama -- whom I, along with many others, see as someone who can help heal our racial divides in this country -- should call Jackson Lee out for her overt lies to black voters, if he really cares about race relations in this country more than he cares about partisan politics.

(And on a side note, it's hard for me to care much about Roger Clemens allegedly lying to Congress, when Jackson Lee and many other elected representatives tell lies on the floor of Congress almost every day it's in session. Now, I know that what they say on the floor is protected, so I am not trying to draw legal equivalency to Clemens' hearing, but the fact remains that I just couldn't care less about liars accusing liars of lying.)

(On another side note, Jackson Lee also lies when she says raising the debt limit is required by the 14th Amendment. I agree fulfilling our debt obligations is required by the 14th Amendment, but it's indisputable that we can do that without raising the debt limit.)

There Are No Spending Cuts

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Look, I just want to be clear here: when Obama and the Democrats talk about two or three or four trillion dollars in spending cuts over ten years, they are lying.

They propose to increase spending, not decrease it.

The total budget is currently less than four trillion dollars. If they proposed four trillion dollars in actual cuts, then we would have no spending less. So they aren't proposing that, obviously.

What they propose is to reduce the total deficits by that much over the next ten years. And that's not even very impressive, because it's compounded annually. If you cut a $100 billion program, that's $1 trillion over ten years. So you just need to cut $400 billion in the first year, and you're done cutting.

Considering we're well over a trillion dollars in the hole this year, cutting $400 billion from the budget seems completely lame.

Now, since Obama hasn't released any specifics, we don't know how this would actually play out. My guess is that it would be significantly cutting the rate of growth almost entirely across the board, so in year one you'd see maybe a hundred billion less than what you would've had ... but still a big net increase in spending over 10 years, and probably over every individual year.

The bottom line is that Obama is proposing tax increases, debt increases, and spending increases. And we are supposed to think that he's compromising? I want spending to be less in ten years than it is now. Heck, if we just spent the same amount every year, over the next ten years, in actual dollars -- not adjusted for inflation -- that would be a cut, and I'd be happy with it. We'd catch up with spending, and start to pay down the debt. I'd be willing to compromise on both the debt and taxes, if it meant that our spending would be actually cut.

But under Obama's proposal, our spending will continue to increase, as will our taxes and debt. Let's not pretend otherwise.

Debt and Default

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It's always seemed, from the beginning of this debate, nearly self-evident that it is not true that a failure to increase the debt limit equates to default. We obviously have enough revenue to pay our debt service, despite the lies from the Democrats. Almost every Democrat has repeated this absurd lie, and yet many people still haven't caught on.

I say it is nearly self-evident because all you need to know is that our revenues (over $2 trillion) are more than half our expenses (over $3 trillion), and that debt service is not nearly half our expenses ($164 billion in FY 2010; as we have no budget for FY 2011, because the Democrats didn't want to pass it an election year, I am unsure of the actual FY 2011 figure, but it's probably still well under 10 percent of revenues).

Therefore, we have more than enough money coming in to pay for our debt service, and we are in no danger of being forced into default come August 2. It's very clear, and very obvious.

It's bizarre that seasoned newspeople like Bob Schieffer don't even understand it. He was completely outclassed by Michele Bachmann a couple of weeks ago in this exchange:

BOB SCHIEFFER: Congress will soon decide whether to raise the debt ceiling, which has to be done in order for the government to borrow the money to pay the bills that are coming due. ... would you really vote against raising the debt ceiling and allow the government or force the government to begin defaulting on its debts?

REPRESENTATIVE MICHELE BACHMANN: Well, first of all it isn’t true that the government would default on its debt because very simply the Treasury secretary can pay the interest on the debt first and then from there we have to just prioritize our spending. ...

SCHIEFFER: Congresswoman, I have to take issue with what you say that ... the government would be able to pay its financial obligations. Experts inside and outside the government say that if we don't raise the debt ceiling, we face the United States having to default on its financial obligations. ... Are you saying these are scare tactics or are you saying that's not true ... how can you say that?

BACHMANN: It is scare tactics because, Bob, the interest on the debt isn't any more than ten percent of what we're taking in. In fact, it's less than that. And so, the Treasury secretary can very simply pay the interest on the debt first then we're not in default.

Of course, Bachmann was absolutely right, and the math is so completely clear, and Schieffer embarrassed himself and his network.

Default, I've been telling people, is a choice. If we do not raise the debt limit, and we default, it is only because President Obama chose to default. It is because he put other priorities ahead of paying the debt service. You can blame the Republicans for blocking an increase in the debt limit, sure, but Obama still has a choice ... and I'd turn right around and blame the Democrats for increasing spending -- and therefore, the debt -- more than any time since the second World War.

And that's really the point: we've tried many ways to get the government to reverse its spending habits. We've tried electing a fiscally conservative President with a Democratic Congress; we went with all Democrats, then put Republicans under a Democratic President; we tried electing all Republicans; then all Democrats again. All we learned is that at best, the deficit decreases during good times, sometimes even to the point of a surplus, but that spending continues to rise, and given our economic policies, we cannot count on the good times to continue.

So I'm fine with forcing massive federal spending cuts, if that's what it takes (and yes, I realize the cuts would be massive: almost all discretionary spending would be cut, we'd have to bring home almost all our troops, cut all spending on education and HUD and health and transportation, yadda yadda yadda ... sounds great to me). Call it draconian or evil or heartless or unwise; I don't care. Children often say the same thing when their parents take away their credit cards. Obama recently talked about managing the government's financial affairs like families do, but he wasn't talking about any families I know: they do not go out and get more credit cards or increased limits every time their credit cards run out. They prioritize spending. They, for the most part, pay the bills first (or do tithes or charity first, and then the bills, depending on their convictions), and then they divy up what is left over.

Obama and the Democrats, and, yes, many Republicans too, act like spoiled, entitled, children who believe any limits on their spending are unfair and unjustified and just who do we think we are, anyway?

Well, even the worst parents often wise up and take action, even if it's a bit late, and they cut those cards and make their kids get jobs to pay off the balance. Yes, Mr. President, let's act like responsible families: I urge Congress to refuse to up your limit, and to take away your credit cards, and to force the government to live within its means for once.

Frankly, I might even be OK with raising taxes if it corresponded with scheduled reductions in the debt ceiling; that is, if the government were forced to use that money to pay down the debt. As that's unlikely, I won't be supporting any tax increases, let alone debt ceiling increases.

If the Republicans held the line on this, I might actually be proud of my party's congressional delegation in DC, for the first time in quite awhile.

In Defense of Sam Reed

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I've had many problems with Sam Reed's execution of his duties as Secretary of State. But I also think about the good things he's done and how bad it could have been otherwise.

Consider if Jay Inslee, for example, were Secretary of State. Would he have worked as hard to clean up the voter rolls, or required identification at polling places?

If Bill Gates Sr. came up to Inslee with an initiative titled, "Initiative Measure No. 1070 concerns taxation," would Inslee have forced them to change the title to something like, "Initiative Measure No. 1098 concerns establishing an income tax and reducing other taxes"?

I doubt it.

Now, granted, for every positive I could name, I'm sure many of you could name multiple negatives. We could have a debate on whether the law really did require him to certify Gregoire as the winner, or even if not, whether he exercised his discretion properly. I could rant for long hours about the idiocy of a blanket primary, and of a "top two" primary, or any other primary that doesn't fit the purpose of nominating candidates. I could go off on how terrible it is that Reed has helped spearhead the destruction of the secret ballot in Washington with the now-near-universal vote-at-home system.

But for all his faults, and for all our disagreements, Sam's been a conscientious and fair-minded public servant who has done a lot of good, and has done far more good than many on the left would have done in his place.

The case of Humberto Leal Garcia -- a Mexican national, by some reports an illegal alien, on death row in Texas -- is interesting to me primarily because of one claimed fact that I haven't been able to verify, but which has been repeated in many sources, such as The Daily Mail and FindLaw.

Most stories I've read say that the problem is that Leal Garcia was not notified, upon arrest, of his right to Mexican consular access. That may be so, and if so, it is a valid complaint for Garcia to make, although it should at most permit a new trial, and not -- as his defense now contends -- throwing out damning statements made before being arrested.

But apparently the crux of the matter is that he wasn't notified of his "right" to aid before he was taken into custody, a right no American has. If Americans confess to a crime before being taken into custody, having never been told our rights, we're up the creek without a paddle. But apparently a Mexican national -- even if here illegally -- has a right to be notified of his rights before being taken into custody.

Like I said, I cannot confirm all of this. I looked for, but did not find, the original Texas opinions, and apparently the Texas Supreme Court decision is unpublished. But if the case hinges on confessions made prior to arrest -- or even if statements are made after arrest, after being read his "Miranda" rights, but having never been notified of his Vienna "rights" -- then there's a big constitutional problem here, because our government, our laws, are giving a foreigner greater protection of the laws than American citizens get. That's a facial violation of the requirement in Amendment 14 to provide everyone equal protection of the laws, and it would nullify that provision of the Vienna treaty.

And yes, this could mean that Americans abroad will not get protections we want for them. But that is, by comparison to defense of the Constitution, irrelevant. If you don't want to take on the risks abroad, then don't go abroad. The Constitution's guarantee of equal protection matters infinitely more than what other countries may do in response to us following our laws.

What does it mean to "hate the rule of law"? I've used the phrase often, and I've explained it, but we're due for a recap. Time magazine subscribers may wish to pay special attention.

To hate the rule of law doesn't mean to hate the law. Someone can love the law, but hate the rule of it. The rule of law means an obligation to follow the law, whether you like what it says or not. Many lawyers love the law, because it's a puzzle to be solved in their favor, to twist it into an argument backing their preferred case: they cannot stand the idea of just following what the law says. They hate the rule of law.

Shred the Constitution

In the last week we've seen a perfect example of hatred of the rule of law from Richard Stengel, editor-in-chief of Time magazine. Stengel wrote the cover story to Time's recent issue, called "One Document, Under Siege" under the cover of the U.S. Constitution being shredded, with the caption "Does it Still Matter?" In the piece, Stengel does his best to retell the story of the Constitution in such a way that backs up his essential premise, which is perhaps best summed up as: the Constitution has absolutely no meaning outside of what the Supreme Court says it means.

He claimed one of the most obviously false and malicious statements ever written about the Constitution, writing, "If the Constitution was intended to limit the federal government, it sure doesn't say so," despite the fact that the Tenth Amendment does explicitly say so: all powers not delegated to the federal government, by the Constitution, are reserved to the states and the people, respectively. That is nothing but a limitation on federal power. Stengel dishonestly doesn't even mention the Tenth Amendment.

James Madison, famously, said much on the subject, even saying that the Tenth Amendment was superfluous, but that adding it could do no harm. He said in Federalist 45 that the federal government's powers under the Constitution were "few and defined," contrasting to the states' powers as "numerous and indefinite." He said on another occasion that throwing open any matter to federal legislation "would subvert the very foundations, and transmute the very nature of the limited government established by the people of America."

Stengel goes on to imply Article I, Section 8 grants unlimited power through the "necessary and proper" clause, and he even quotes it. But despite quoting it, he somehow misses the part where the "necessary and proper" powers are explicitly linked to "carrying into execution the foregoing powers," that is, the enumerated ones. The Constitution doesn't grant the power to Congress to do anything at all the Congress deems "necessary and proper," it has to relate to one of the other, enumerated, powers.

Again, Madison thought that by specifically drawing up what the federal government could do, this sufficiently implied the federal government could do nothing else. Stengel, however, flips this on its head, implying that because it lists off so many powers, this implies that there are no limits. He never stops to ask: if the government is unlimited, then why explicitly grant specific powers, and add to that any additional powers "necessary and proper" for those specific powers? Why not just write, "the government can do as it wishes," or just not mention powers at all?

And this is, of course, why Madison consented to including the Tenth Amendment in the Bill of Rights, because people like Stengel would so badly misinterpret the document, thinking that the federal government can basically do whatever it wishes, which means that "the Government is no longer a limited one, possessing enumerated powers, but an indefinite one, subject to particular exceptions."

But because Stengel doesn't believe in the Constitution at all, it really doesn't make a difference what Madison wrote, or where he wrote it. Stengel literally ignores the explicit text of the Constitution when it doesn't suit his designs. Let that be a lesson to us.

Federal Power is Whatever We Decide at the Time

And I don't exaggerate: Stengel really believes the Constitution has no meaning, at least, not outside of the Supreme Court. He denies Justice Felix Frankfurter's assertion that "the ultimate touchstone of constitutionality is the Constitution itself and not what we have said about it," saying on This Week: "[Something is] unconstitutional if the Supreme Court decides it's unconstitutional." That's it. There's literally no other way to know. We certainly can't read the Constitution to know. George Will pressed, and asked, "Does Congress have the constitutional power to require obese people to sign up for Weight Watchers?" Stengel replied, "I don't know the answer to that."

Fellow panelist, Georgetown professor Michael Eric Dyson, said he does know the answer: "If they decide that they will, they will have the power to do so."

These people are everywhere, in the media, in the government, and they simply do not believe in the existence of, or government obligation to secure and respect, our rights. In fact, Will might have been the only one of the five on the panel to disagree with Stengel.

In the greatest contemporary example of federal powers, Stengel called the notion that government can't mandate the purchase of health insurance "kind of silly," saying that, well, it crosses state boundaries, so it's justified (just how he justifies using the text of the Constitution to defend a law that hasn't been before the Supreme Court, when he believes only the Supreme Court decides constitutionality, is unknown).

Stengel added, "the government can ask you to do things," to which Will interjected, "It's not asking us, it's mandating." Stengel persisted, "It asks us to pay our taxes. It asks us to register for the draft. It asks us to buy car insurance if we want to drive our car around."

Stengel is here, too, being deceptive: the 16th Amendment explicitly grants the power to mandate that we pay income tax, and Article I, Section 8 explicitly grants the power to collect some other taxes. Following this model, where is a similar section of the Constitution that allows it to force us to buy insurance? And car insurance is not mandated at all: we don't have to drive on the public roads, and many people do not have car insurance. To follow this model, we'd only have to require purchase of insurance from people who were going to use public health facilities. And many people -- including myself -- believe the military draft is entirely unconstitutional, for much the same reason that the health insurance mandate is.

Stengel was falling all over his own arguments, and nowhere was this more clear than when he compared the Constitution to a blueprint for a house: "It doesn't tell you what color curtains to have or whether to have it two stories or three stories." You see, we can make all our own decision that aren't in the blueprint, right down to the number of stories in the house! The problem is, of course, that house blueprints -- like the Constitution -- have far more requirements in them than Stengel wants us to believe.

Yes, the Constitution is very much like a blueprint: there's a whole bunch of specifics you have to follow. You have to keep the home within certain guidelines, you have to include certain features, and you cannot change any of the requirements without approval. Within that blueprint, there's significant room for discretion, but you can't go over the property boundary, you can't dig too deep, you can't build too high, and you have to have a certain number of toilets. If you go outside of those requirements, you will get slapped down. The blueprint is clear and, except through the agreed upon amendment process, immutable.

So yes, that is just like the Constitution.

Amend or Pretend?

Now, these statements by these people should scare you, if it's new to you. But it shouldn't be new to you. There's a huge number of people -- and as Will has pointed out, it's been a battle for a hundred years now -- who simply believe the Constitution doesn't matter, as Stengel believes. It's a document that has no meaning outside of the Supreme Court, and the Court is, of course, free to interpret it however it wishes. According to these people, we literally have no rule of law, but only rule of men.

Dyson was the panel's defender of one of the oldest assaults on the Constitution: that it must remain flexible so that, for example, blacks could have rights. He -- a black man himself -- even expressed the notion that, "Were it not for some vibrant reinterpretation of that document and appealing to its living legacy, none of us could be here. I wouldn't be here talking to you, not as an equal, at least."

Ignoring Dyson's incredible statement that only a court's interpretation of a written document can foster significant change toward equality, Will asked, "do you amend the Constitution by the casual weak interpretation of it, or do you candidly, when you want to change the structure of the government, change it by the amendment process they provided?" Dyson beagn to respond, but moderator Christiane Amanpour jumped in with, "We're going to discuss that after a break." They never did, unfortunately. Perhaps Dyson kicked her under the table during said break.

But I see no "vibrant reinterpretation." I see the passage of amendments that mandate equal rights for Dyson and everyone else, with or without his pigmentation. I do see decades of the courts ignoring those amendments, but it is nearly impossible to argue that our current interpretations are somehow not directly in line with the original intent of them. I defy Dyson, or anyone else, to tell me how "no State shall ... deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws" does not mean that on state shall be allowed to deny to any person the equal protection of the laws.

What's really startling is that the reason the 14th Amendment was not interpreted to protect the rights of black people for so many years is because of the rule of men: the Court was -- through racism and fear -- unwilling to interpret the amended Constitution as it was written and intended, to protect the rights of black people the same as white people. Dyson is literally arguing for a system that prevented black people from getting their rights far earlier than they actually did: the rule of men.

Rule of Men Recognizes No Rights

It barely needs stating, to my mind, but I'm obviously wrong, because people like Stengel are all around, so I'll point it out clearly: if only the Supreme Court decides constitutionality, then the government does not recognize any rights at all. We may claim rights, and fictionalize government recognizing them, but if the Court can choose on a whim to recognize them or not, then they aren't rights at all: they are merely privileges it wants to grant us at the time it rules, which it may rescind at its pleasure. If Stengel is right, then Jefferson and Madison are wrong: our government does not exist to secure our rights, and is not limited. Even the Constitution's Preamble itself is wrong, as Stengel's argument is that we have no liberty, and therefore the Constitution cannot exist to secure the blessings of liberty.

The main purpose of the Constitution was summed up in Federalist 10 by James Madison. He remarked on the problem of "faction," which is "a number of citizens ... who are united and actuated by some common impulse of passion, or of interest, adversed to the rights of other citizens, or to the permanent and aggregate interests of the community," and warned that "when a majority is included in a faction, the form of popular government ... enables it to sacrifice to its ruling passion or interest both the public good and the rights of other citizens." He said "the great object to which our inquiries are directed" was "to secure the public good and private rights against the danger of such a faction, and at the same time to preserve the spirit and the form of popular government."

The whole point was to protect us from majorities taking our rights. And the rule-of-law haters like Dyson and Stengel and a hundred years of progressives before them, want to push us directly into that model, where the Constitution literally doesn't matter. It's just something to be molded into whatever we wish it to mean at the time, such that it protects no rights whatsoever, provides no guarantees of any kind, and ends the cause of true justice.


I could go on and on, and pick apart the statements from Stengel and Dyson, each one, slowly and brutally. But it'd be fruitless; there's so much there and I have so little time. Instead, I'll just leave with one of the most brilliant statements on the Constitution you'll ever hear on Sunday morning talk, from George Will:

... the framers of the Constitution wanted to strengthen the federal government, but they knew that government is a. necessary, and b. inherently dangerous. And therefore, in the act of creating a more competent federal government, they sought to limit it.

James Madison, the architect in the definitive commentary on the Constitution, the Federalist Papers, specifically in Federalist 45, said, the powers delegated to the federal government by the proposed Constitution are few and defined. That's either true or it's not. ...

It's one thing to say it's open to interpretation, which it obviously is. It's very open-textured language. ... I mean, when you say unreasonable searches and seizures, what's reasonable? We argue about that. But to say that the Constitution is a living, evolving document ... is almost oxymoronic. A Constitution is supposed to freeze things. It is an anti-evolutionary device as Justice Scalia has said. It is intended to put certain things beyond the reach of transient majorities. That's the language of Justice Jackson in a famous case.

The point of the Constitution is that majorities are dangerous, and we have to protect against them. Hence, when Oliver Wendell Holmes said, if my fellow citizens want to go to hell, I'll help them, because that's my job, he was saying the Constitution exists to enable majorities. That's exactly wrong.

<pudge/*> (pronounced "PudgeGlob") is thousands of posts over many years by Pudge.

"It is the common fate of the indolent to see their rights become a prey to the active. The condition upon which God hath given liberty to man is eternal vigilance; which condition if he break, servitude is at once the consequence of his crime and the punishment of his guilt."

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