Twelve States (Texas, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Louisiana, Michigan, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina and South Dakota) today filed a petition to have the Supreme Court review the D.C. Circuit’s decision not to strike down EPA’s climate regulations.
The States argue that the Congress never intended for the Clean Air Act to regulate greenhouse gases. The Clean Air Act was designed in 1970, in order to fight smog. The law’s tools and mechanisms are totally inappropriate for regulating greenhouse gas emissions, which are much more prevalent than the pollutants that cause smog.
The full petition is here: http://www.globalwarming.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/States-GHG-petition.pdf
James Taranto on Gabby Giffords, a lesson in logical fallacies.
…If Alter meant it when he said he hoped Giffords would become a “referee” of public discourse–an advocate for reasoned civility–he ought to feel terribly disappointed. She has instead turned out to be a practitioner of incivility and unreason.
That’s a harsh but justified appraisal of her op-ed in today’s New York Times, titled “A Senate in the Gun Lobby’s Grip.” It’s a reaction to yesterday’s failure of President Obama’s gun-control proposals in the Democratic Senate. Giffords’s 900-word jeremiad should be included in every textbook of logic and political rhetoric, so rife is it with examples of fallacious reasoning and demagogic appeals. Let’s go through them:
• The argumentum ad passiones, or appeal to emotion. She leads with this one: “Senators say they fear the N.R.A. and the gun lobby. But I think that fear must be nothing compared to the fear the first graders in Sandy Hook Elementary School felt as their lives ended in a hail of bullets. The fear that those children who survived the massacre must feel every time they remember their teachers stacking them into closets and bathrooms, whispering that they loved them, so that love would be the last thing the students heard if the gunman found them.”
• The appeal to motives. Giffords claims that the senators who voted against the measures “looked over their shoulder at the powerful, shadowy gun lobby” and “made their decision based on political fear and on cold calculations about the money of special interests like the National Rifle Association.” She also asserts that “their decision was based on a misplaced sense of self-interest” and on “cowardice.” These characterizations are mutually inconsistent–can a senator’s decision have been based on both unreasoning fear and a cold (but erroneous!) calculation of self-interest?–and they are also entirely unsubstantiated. So is her assertion that “the status quo” is “desperately protected by the gun lobby so that they can make more money by spreading fear and misinformation.”
• Guilt by association. See the references to the “gun lobby” in the preceding paragraph.
• Poisoning the well. She reveals that some of the senators who voted against the amendments “have met with grieving parents” and that some “have also looked into my eyes . . . and expressed sympathy” for her and other Tucson victims. Her purpose in citing these facts is to impugn the senators’ sincerity: “And still these senators decided to do nothing. Shame on them.” In reality, they didn’t “do nothing”; they rejected particular legislative proposals. It does not follow, and indeed it seems unlikely and is boorish to assert, that their expressions of sympathy were not heartfelt.
• Begging the question. Giffords characterizes the proposed amendments as “common-sense legislation” that “could prevent future tragedies.” She also describes them as “these most benign and practical of solutions.” She pretends that the central matter in dispute–whether the benefits would outweigh the costs or indeed whether the proposals would have yielded the benefits their advocates promised at all–has already been settled in her side’s favor.
• The no-true-Scotsman move. “These senators have heard from their constituents–who polls show overwhelmingly favored expanding background checks,” Giffords writes. She ignores the possibility that those polls are flawed and that the senators are hearing a different message from their constituents. Then she qualifies her claim of public unanimity: “I am asking every reasonable American to help me tell the truth . . .” See what she did there? (The switcheroo to every reasonable American reminds us of a probably apocryphal tale about Adlai Stevenson. A woman is supposed to have said to him, “Governor, you have the support of every thinking American,” to which he replied: “But madam, I need a majority.”)
• The argumentum ad baculam, or argument from the club. This consists in attempting to persuade by making threats. Giffords urges “mothers to stop these lawmakers at the grocery store and tell them: You’ve lost my vote” and in other ways for those who agree with her to work for the lawmakers’ defeat–a call to action, not an argument. There is, of course, nothing objectionable about citizens in a democratic republic engaging in such action, but that goes for those on the other side as well. And it’s worth recalling that the “civility” hypocrites back in the day proclaimed themselves troubled and outraged by the phenomenon of citizens confronting their elected representatives at public meetings.
• The argumentum ad miserecordiam, or appeal to pity. “Speaking is physically difficult for me,” she writes. “But my feelings are clear: I’m furious.” It should be obvious that this in no way speaks to the merits of the legislation or even the character of its supporters and opponents.
• The false dilemma. This is Giffords’s closing gambit: “To do nothing while others are in danger is not the American way.”
• The appeal to authority. That would be Giffords’s own authority as a former lawmaker. “I was elected six times to represent southern Arizona, in the State Legislature and then in Congress,” she writes. “I know what a complicated issue is; I know what it feels like to take a tough vote. This was neither.” Perhaps her legislative experience gives her some insight into the senators’ state of mind, but if so, she does not share it with readers, whom she expects to accept her conclusion unquestioningly.
She makes one other appeal to authority, writing of the senators who voted “no” that “they will try to hide their decision behind grand talk, behind willfully false accounts of what the bill might have done–trust me, I know how politicians talk when they want to distract you.”
But the appeal to authority isn’t always fallacious. In this case, Giffords has earned her readers’ trust. The op-ed itself demonstrates her total command of how politicians talk when they want to distract you.
This one is especially creepy:
A Bloomberg editorial, meanwhile, asserts that “if the nation’s laws fail to represent the views of the overwhelming majority of its people, representative democracy becomes a shallow and unsustainable exercise.” The premise is highly questionable–see “The no-true-Scotsman move,” above–but the conclusion is appalling.
If Bloomberg–a media company owned by one of the two leading antigun politicians in America–thinks representative democracy is “unsustainable,” what does it propose as an alternative?
When people become absolutely convinced they are right (“the overwhelming majority…”) they can become dangerous. Every zealot is 100% convinced of his righteousness, even as he plants bombs or usurps personal freedom. Witness Bill Ayers and the Weather Underground.
As for Bloomberg, first a nanny, then a dictator.
Actor and comedian Jay Mohr waded into the gun debate on Twitter after Monday’s deadly terrorist attacks at the Boston Marathon.
“What bothers me most about today is that we’re getting used 2 it. ENOUGH. 2nd amendment must go. Violence has 2 stop. Culture MUST change,” the Jerry Maguire actor tweeted Monday night.
As an entertainer, Mohr makes his living from an industry that profits from a culture of violence: movies, music and video games.
Speaking of which, Mohr voiced Tony Montana in the video game, Scarface, described thus:
You play as the ruthless Cuban gangster Tony Montana. Sosa took everything you had and you are going to get it all back. Tony continues too buy business. He continues to deal drugs. He continues on his quest to kill Sosa.
Just another day in Sunday school.
The two Boston bombs were made with pressure cookers. A talking head on TV noted helpfully that these are “readily available.” Ya think? Just like toasters, coffee makers, and iron skillets.
Maybe Mohr will starting tweeting about a need for a national pressure cooker registry.
I shall leave it to others to argue the legal and constitutional questions surrounding drones, but they are not without practical application. For the past couple of years, Janet Napolitano, the Secretary of Homeland Security, has had Predator drones patrolling the U.S. border. No, silly, not the southern border. The northern one. You gotta be able to prioritize, right? At Derby Line, Vt., the international frontier runs through the middle of the town library and its second-floor opera house. If memory serves, the stage and the best seats are in Canada, but the concession stand and the cheap seats are in America. Despite the zealots of Homeland Security’s best efforts at afflicting residents of this cross-border community with ever more obstacles to daily life, I don’t recall seeing any Predator drones hovering over Non-Fiction E-L. But, if there are, I’m sure they’re entirely capable of identifying which delinquent borrower is a Quebecer and which a Vermonter before dispatching a Hellfire missile to vaporize him in front of the Large Print Romance shelves.
I’m a long, long way from Rand Paul’s view of the world (I’m basically a 19th century imperialist a hundred years past sell-by date), but I’m far from sanguine about America’s drone fever. For all its advantages to this administration – no awkward prisoners to be housed at Gitmo, no military casualties for the evening news – the unheard, unseen, unmanned drone raining down death from the skies confirms for those on the receiving end al-Qaida’s critique of its enemies: as they see it, we have the best technology and the worst will; we choose aerial assassination and its attendant collateral damage because we are risk-averse, and so remote, antiseptic, long-distance, computer-programmed warfare is all that we can bear. Our technological strength betrays our psychological weakness.
Tnsofar as it relieves Washington of the need to think strategically about the nature of the enemy, the drone is part of the problem. But its technology is too convenient a gift for government to forswear at home. America takes an ever-more expansive view of police power, and, while the notion of unmanned drones patrolling the heartland may seem absurd, lots of things (more…)
During Bush’s presidency we heard repeated shrieks of indignation from the Democrats that he was “shredding” the Constitution. This was largely about telephone intercepts in the war on terror.
You’d think they’d be up in arms about drone killings by Obama, but outrage seems to have its limits: it only counts when the GOP is in power.
Yesterday Rand Paul did a theatrical filibuster, which made for great TV. Most on the right applauded. But as much as I dislike Eric Holder, I thought he had a point.
…Senator Paul had written the White House to inquire about the possibility of a drone strike against a U.S. citizen on American soil. Attorney General Eric Holder replied that the U.S. hasn’t and “has no intention” to bomb any specific territory. Drones are limited to the remotest areas of conflict zones like Pakistan and Yemen. But as a hypothetical Constitutional matter, Mr. Holder acknowledged the President can authorize the use of lethal military force within U.S. territory.
This shocked Senator Paul, who invoked the Constitution and Miranda rights. Under current U.S. policy, Mr. Paul mused on the floor, Jane Fonda could have been legally killed by a Hellfire missile during her tour of Communist Hanoi in 1972. A group of noncombatants sitting in public view in Houston may soon be pulverized, he declared.
Calm down, Senator. Mr. Holder is right, even if he doesn’t explain the law very well. The U.S. government cannot randomly target American citizens on U.S. soil or anywhere else. What it can do under the laws of war is target an “enemy combatant” anywhere at anytime, including on U.S. soil. This includes a U.S. citizen who is also an enemy combatant. The President can designate such a combatant if he belongs to an entity—a government, say, or a terrorist network like al Qaeda—that has taken up arms against the United States as part of an internationally recognized armed conflict. That does not include Hanoi Jane.
Such a conflict exists between the U.S. and al Qaeda, so Mr. Holder is right that the U.S. could have targeted (say) U.S. citizen Anwar al-Awlaki had he continued to live in Virginia. The U.S. killed him in Yemen before he could kill more Americans. But under the law Awlaki was no different than the Nazis who came ashore on Long Island in World War II, were captured and executed.
The country needs more Senators who care about liberty, but if Mr. Paul wants to be taken seriously he needs to do more than pull political stunts that fire up impressionable libertarian kids in their college dorms. He needs to know what he’s talking about.
Four California high-school students were reportedly suspended for chanting “U.S.A! U.S.A!” and wearing American flag bandanas during a basketball game. While their punishment has since been rescinded, school administrators said “the incident is far from over.”
Oxnard Union School District superintendent Gabe Soumakian told Fox News Radio that “we need to pursue this further” and “work with teachers and students and the community about the concept of cultural proficiency.” Soumakian and Camarillo High School principal Glenn Lipman felt that the students’ actions might have had racist undertones since the schools have large Hispanic student populations.
America is not a race. For that matter Hispanic is not a race, either.
“We wanted to make sure [their actions weren't] racially motivated, and I told the kids I just want to be sensitive to the feelings of everybody,” Lipman said. “If we’re doing it for patriotism, that’s fine. But if we’re doing it for something else that’s racially motivated, I’m not going to allow that.”
But the students deny any racial element to their chants. “We’ve done it always,” one student said. “It’s something we do. It’s the same group of friends. We’re all very patriotic.” The four students gained support from their peers: More than 100 students gathered by the school’s flagpole the following morning to protest in patriotic clothing.
Okay, let’s suppose a non-citizen student, attending a public school on the taxpayers’ dime feel uncomfortable when other kids espouse patriotism. So what?
First Amendment protections of free speech have been expanded to include pornography and flag burning. But flag waving? That’s offensive.
The state of California has a large Hispanic population. Shall be ban the 4th of July to protect someone’s feelings?
With talk of a filibuster against Chuck Hagel’s confirmation, some media types with short memories seem to think this is unprecedented.
In January 2006, then-Sen. Obama joined 24 colleagues in a futile effort led by Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., to filibuster the Supreme Court nomination of now-Justice Samuel Alito.
On January 29, 2006, Mr. Obama told George Stephanopulos on “This Week” that he would “be supporting the filibuster because I think Judge Alito, in fact, is somebody who is contrary to core American values, not just liberal values, you know. When you look at his decisions in particular during times of war, we need a court that is independent and is going to provide some check on the executive branch, and he has not shown himself willing to do that repeatedly.”
This is rich.
In light of Obama’s use of drones and legal opinions supporting them, including renewing the Patriot Act, I think he owes Justice Alito and President Bush an apology.
In fact, the entire media-Hollywood-Dem Cong chorus that cried “shredding the Constitution” for six long years owes the nation an apology.
Rarely do we cite stories from Mother Jones, but read their thoughts on Obama’s new killing regime.
If a high-ranking administration official does it, it’s not illegal. At least not when we’re talking about ordering the death of an American citizen the administration believes to be associated with Al Qaeda.
That’s the conclusion of a Department of Justice “white paper” obtained by NBC’s Michael Isikoff, who published it Monday night. The paper outlines the Obama administration’s legal rationale for the targeted killing of US citizens suspected of terrorism abroad. Administration officials have previously defended such killings as lawful in public. But the white paper, which according to NBC was provided to members of the Senate intelligence and judiciary committees last June, lays out those arguments in greater detail.
The paper states that the US government can kill its own citizens overseas if:
(1) An informed, high level-official of the U.S. government has determined that the targeted individual poses an imminent threat of violent attack against the United States.
(2) Capture is infeasible, and the United States continues to monitor whether capture becomes feasible; and
(3) the operation would be conducted in a manner consistent with applicable law of war principles.
This refers to all targeted killing—not just operations using drones, government officials could theoretically send assassins to hunt down suspected terrorists. The paper states that in order to be killed under this program, an individual must be part of Al Qaeda or its “associated forces.” Al Qaeda’s “associated forces” include groups such as Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula that did not exist in 2001 but that the government nevertheless believes is covered by the 2001 Authorization to Use Military Force against the perpetrators of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
Although the administration has previously said that President Barack Obama makes the final call on targeted killing decisions involving Americans, based on recommendations from high-level national security officials, the white paper says that a decision of what it calls “extraordinary seriousness” need not involve the president—nor even multiple people. Instead, the paper argues, a single “high level-official,” whose authority is undefined, can approve a death sentence for an American citizen as long as the target is too difficult for the US government to capture and the loss of civilian life that would result from a targeted killing is not deemed excessive…
…In the latest disdain for the Constitution’s checks and balances, the National Labor Relations Board has declared that it doesn’t like the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals Friday ruling that three board members were illegally appointed so it plans to ignore it.
“The Board respectfully disagrees with today’s decision and believes that the President’s position in the matter will ultimately be upheld,” Chairman Mark Pearce said in a statement. “It should be noted that this order applies to only one specific case, Noel Canning, and that similar questions have been raised in more than a dozen cases pending in other courts of appeals.
“In the meantime, the Board has important work to do. The parties who come to us seek and expect careful consideration and resolution of their cases, and for that reason, we will continue to perform our statutory duties and issue decisions.”
In thug speak: f-you!
So, let’s see. First, President Obama bypasses the Senate’s advice and consent power by making “recess” appointments while the Senate was in pro-forma session specifically to prevent recess appointments. Then when a federal court rules the recess appointments illegal, the NLRB declares that it will keep doing business as if nothing happened.
Without Mr. Obama’s illegal appointments, the board would have been without a quorum and unable to decide a single case. That lawless behavior means more than 200 of the NLRB’s rulings in the past year are in limbo. It’s bad enough to force those 200 litigants to appeal rulings that are sure to be overturned. But the board wants to keep issuing new rulings though it now knows that a unanimous appeals court has declared them illegal, pending a Supreme Court review that may never happen.
Mr. Obama can legally reconstitute the NLRB by getting his appointees confirmed by the Senate. Meantime, Nebraska Senator Mike Johanns is right to call on the illegal members to resign. If they won’t, Congress should stop funding the NLRB as soon as the continuing spending resolution expires in March.
This letter to the editor appeared in today’s LA Times
I grew up in the Soviet Union, where the ban on the possession of assault weapons and handguns by private citizens was absolute. It was unimaginable that such lethal stuff might appear on the shelves of retail stores.
Bad regime? Yes. Evil empire? Yes.
But get this: Over the 40 years of my life there, I never heard of a single shooting rampage at a school, movie theater or workplace.
When I lived there, it never occurred to me that such horrific events were possible. This isn’t to suggest that the United States should adopt anything resembling the Soviet Union’s totalitarian system. But whenever I hear people say that banning guns wouldn’t be effective, I think how wrong they are.
Dear Vladimir, the Soviet Union was a police state. East Germany was a prison — citizens trying to escape were shot to death.
Prisons and police states rarely arm their inmates.
In 2009, I watched the Iranian mullah’s goons shooting and beating Iranian protesters with impunity and thought: that could never happen in the US because our citizens are armed.
That’s the logical extension of the illogical and predictable New York Daily News editorial.
Condolences are empty words – what actions are you gonna take?
Read it if you wish. It ignores the 2nd Amendment to the Constitution, the work of the founders. So blame them, too. It also ignores common sense.
- Crazy people are part of the human mix. Crazy people do crazy things, including massacre innocents. That will never change.
- Short of confiscating all guns in America, no gun law would have prevented this tragedy. He could have killed as many with a shotgun. And how loose are the gun laws in Norway, which had a similar massacre one year ago?
For that it’s worth, I do not own guns and likely never will. But the 2nd Amendment makes sense to me and I’m grateful for those who defend it.
The greatest crisis of American democracy is not getting your way.
And when a sluggish republic hinders progress, it’s time to act. Just ask Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who advanced an astonishing argument the other day on the Senate floor: The president, explained Reid, is free to unilaterally craft immigration policy because “we’ve tried to do that for years, and we can’t because they won’t let us.”
For those of you who have forgotten, in “The Federalist,” Paper 51, Publius writes: “In a republic, all the power surrendered by the people is submitted to the administration of a single government; and the usurpations are guarded against by a division of the government into distinct and separate departments. … Then again, if ‘they don’t let you,’ well, feel free to disregard the previous 900,000 words.”
Today’s Democratic logic goes like this: If Congress is unable to pass progressive agenda items with a simple majority of legislators (and thankfully, that’s the case), the vote of a single person will do just fine. President Obama is, after all, on his “We Can’t Wait”tour. “We can’t wait for Congress to do its job,” Obama told supporters on a recent campaign stop. “So where they won’t act, I will. We’re going to look every single day to figure out what we can do without Congress.”
That’s the spirit!
One might forgive a little autocratic hyperbole in the heat of a campaign season, but Obama isn’t joking. He can’t wait. Only recently, he circumvented Congress on college loans and mortgages; he directed the Justice Department to stop defending the Defense of Marriage Act; through rulemaking, he empowered the Environmental Protection Agency to effectively institute legislation that Democrats could not pass; he involved the United States in military action in Libya (the right kind of warring, apparently) without congressional consent; he (more…)
Jonah Goldberg from The Goldberg File
C. S. Lewis said:
We all want progress, but if you’re on the wrong road, progress means doing an about-turn and walking back to the right road; in that case, the man who turns back soonest is the most progressive.
Which brings me to Michael Bloomberg, who seems to be very far down the wrong road.
One of the things Edmund Burke loved about the early Americans was their really interesting underwear. But that’s a subject for a different “news”letter. Another thing he dug about those hipcats across the pond was the way they worried about the infringement of their liberties before The Man actually got up in their grill.
In other countries [than the American colonies], the people . . . judge of an ill principle in government only by an actual grievance, [but in America] they anticipate the evil, and judge of the pressure of the grievance by the badness of the principle. They augur misgovernment at a distance and snuff the approach of tyranny in every tainted breeze.
In other words, in the immortal words of Will Smith in the original Men In Black, the Founding generation of this country worked from the principle: If the government “Don’t start nuthin, won’t be nuthin.”
I bring this up because for much of the last few years, to speak of potential death panels coming down the pike was to prove you were a paranoid idiot. More recently, to wonder aloud whether the government could, under the theories supporting Obamacare, force the American people to eat broccoli or join weight watchers, was to reveal your mulishness.
By the way, the funny thing about the broccoli question is that most liberals never answer it when asked. They say it’s not a relevant question right now.
And that’s sort of the point, right?
The tendency in the American character to anticipate encroachments of liberty before they happen that Burke admired so much has been so ground down, to even offer such concerns is now seen as a kind of ideological derangement.
Meanwhile, the Bloombergian belief that the war on smoking demonstrated that there’s no outer boundary, no limiting principle, to progressive do-goodery is riding tall in the saddle. “It worked for cigarettes, it can work for anything I don’t like” is the only meaningful metric for his ilk.
Already the shock troops of the nanny state are hoping to parlay Bloomberg’s anti-soda ban into an all-out prohibition on junk food.
“We’re not taking away anybody’s right to do things,” Bloomberg explained, “we’re simply forcing you to understand that you have to make the conscious decision to go from one cup to another cup” [emphasis mine -- which just happens to be the title of my proposed sequel to the under-appreciated sci-fi movie Enemy Mine].
Is it really such a long trip from here to the insistence that the government can “force you to understand” that you should eat your broccoli?
The US Constitution specifically limits government. Democrats love lots of government. Ergo, Democrats resent the Constitution.
It’s one of the clearest, easiest-to-understand provisions in the Constitution. And Harry Reid’s Senate flouts it routinely.
The Origination Clause in Article I, Section 7 states: “All Bills for raising Revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives; but the Senate may propose or concur with Amendments as on other Bills.” In addition to clarity, this provision has an even greater virtue: It serves a very good purpose.
The Founding Fathers required revenue measures to originate in the House because they wanted this authority to belong to the legislative body closest to the people. Plus, the Framers wanted the larger states to enjoy the most influence on matters of taxing and spending, which is the case in the House (whose seats are allocated according to population) but not the Senate (where each state gets two seats regardless of population and smaller states have outsized influence). “This power over the purse,” James Madison explained in Federalist No. 58, “may, in fact be regarded as the most complete and effectual weapon with which any constitution can arm the immediate representatives of the people.”
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D., Nev.) has taken to thumbing his nose at this clear mandate. Recently, he publicly dismissed the Origination Clause as a “hyper-technical budget issue,” raised by his Republican opponents as “a fig leaf to hide their blatant obstruction.” The matter arose as Reid orchestrated a high-profile Senate floor debate on the Paying a Fair Share Act of 2012, prior to House consideration of this or any other revenue bill. Also known as the “Buffett Rule,” the Senate measure would impose a hefty new tax on millionaires.
Aware that the Republican House would no more propose new, economically debilitating taxes than Warren Buffett would voluntarily follow the rule that bears his name, Reid opted to move unilaterally. Why let a little thing like the Constitution stand in the way of making sure a red-meat, eat-the-rich proposal like this gets maximum media exposure during an election year?
It does not stop there. In its version of the legislation extending federal price controls on student loans, the Senate included a hefty tax increase — again absent the requisite House action. Then there is the Violence against Women Act, which contains a new $30 fee for immigrant visas, another Senate revenue provision that violates the Origination Clause. When House leaders uncovered this constitutional infirmity, they quickly issued a “blue slip” notification, effectively killing it…
Birthers questioned whether Obama was in fact born in the United States, while they claim Rubio, indisputably born in Miami, is not eligible because his parents were not citizens at the time of his birth.
The one thing that characterizes both arguments is an ignorance of the law concerning citizenship.
The Constitution specifies that a president must be a “natural born citizen” of the United States, but it does not define the term. The Supreme Court has never clarified the issue, but there is a law, 8 U.S. Code 1401, that spells out in detail who is a citizen.
The law uses the phrase “citizens of the United States at birth” and lists categories of people who fit that description.
First, there are people born inside the United States. No question about that; their citizenship is established by the 14th Amendment.
Then there are the people who are born outside the United States to parents who are both American citizens, provided one of them has lived in the U.S. for any period of time. And then there are the people who are born outside the United States to one parent who is a U.S. citizen and the other who is an alien, provided the citizen parent lived in the United States or its possessions for at least five years, at least two of them after age 14.
Since they are all “citizens of the United States at birth,” the question is, does that also mean they are “natural born citizens” in the constitutional sense?
“My conclusion would be that if you are a citizen as a consequence of your birth, that’s a natural-born citizen,” says Theodore Olson, the former Bush solicitor general who defended John McCain in a 2008 lawsuit alleging McCain was ineligible to be president. McCain was born in the Panama Canal Zone in 1936 while his father served in the U.S. Navy there. Even though the area was under American jurisdiction and both McCain’s parents were U.S. citizens, some Democrats alleged McCain was ineligible to be president. McCain won the case, if not the presidency.
Our fearless leader suggested that I take a look at the flip side of the anti’s newest attack on our freedoms (a recycled attack from the Clinton era Public Health model of gun control): the monetary cost of gun violence. For example, the Center for American Progress touted the “fact” that the Virginia Tech massacre cost taxpayers $48.2 million (including autopsy costs and a fine against Virginia Tech for failing to get their skates on when the killer started shooting). It’s one of the antis’ favorite tricks: cost benefit analysis omitting the benefit side of the equation. So what are the social benefits of firearm ownership? Read on . . .
In my post Dennis Henigan on Chardon: Clockwork Edition, I did an analysis of how many lives were saved annually in Defensive Gun Uses (DGUs). I used extremely conservative numbers. Now I am going to use some less conservative ones.
The Kleck-Gertz DGU study estimate that there are between 2.1 and 2.5 million DGUs a year in the U.S. The Ludwig-Cook study came up with 1.46 million. So let’s split the difference and call it 1.88 million DGUs per year.
In the K-G article Armed Resistance to Crime: The Prevalence and Nature of Self-Defense with a Gun, 15.7 percent of people who had a DGU reckoned they almost certainly saved a life thereby. Ignoring the ‘probably’ and ‘might have’ saved a life categories for simplicity, 15.7 percent of 1.88 million gives us 295,160 lives saved annually….
Joseph Curl: Divide and Conquer
The campaign geniuses, the same ones who came up with the idea to run against the much-despisedCongress (even though Democrats control the Senate), have decided that deriding the Supreme Court as an arm of the Republican Party is a winning plan, one that will resonate across the country come November.
But here, the big brains are horribly mistaken: Mr. Obama maligns the high court at his peril. Americans, especially those in what dual-coast lefties derisively dub “flyover country,” like their Supreme Court. They aren’t about to let a president — any president — bully what many see as the cornerstone of the checks-and-balances system set up by the Founders.
James Taranto: The Man Who Knew Too Little
Obama’s answer to the question was that he expects to win in court, and “as a consequence, we’re not spending a whole bunch of time planning for contingencies.” He went on to talk at some length about the “human element”–that is, people who would supposedly suffer in the absence of ObamaCare. Message: Obama cares, though not enough to spend “a whole bunch of time planning for contingencies.”
But the most interesting part of his answer was the beginning, in which he tried to walk back, or at least clarify, his statement from yesterday. He spoke slowly, with long pauses, giving the sense that he was speaking with great thought and precision: “Well, first of all, let me be very specific. Um [pause], we have not seen a court overturn [pause] a [pause] law that was passed [pause] by Congress on [pause] a [pause] economic issue, like health care, that I think most people would clearly consider commerce. A law like that has not been overturned [pause] at least since Lochner, right? So we’re going back to the ’30s, pre-New Deal.”
In fact, Lochner–about which more in a moment–was decided in 1905. Thirty years later, after the New Deal had begun, the high court unanimously struck down one of its main components, the National Industrial Recovery Act, as exceeding Congress’s authority under the Interstate Commerce Clause. The case was A.L.A. Schechter Poultry Corp. v. U.S. (1935).
PolitFact gives the supposed constitutional scholar a failing grade.
The health law took an unusual path to passage. Usually, the House and Senate pass different versions of a bill, then they work out their differences in a conference committee. A unified bill comes out of that committee, and both bodies vote again on the new bill. Then, if it passes, the president signs it.
In the case of the health care bill, the House and Senate had each passed different versions in 2009. It was expected the two bills would be integrated in conference committee, then voted on again. But before that could happen, the Democrats lost their 60-seat, filibuster-proof majority in the Senate. (Republican Scott Brown in January 2010 won the seat formerly held by the late Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass.) Anything that came out of conference committee at that point could have been held up in the Senate, blocked by 40 Republican senators.
Democrats decided to get around this by having the House simply accept the Senate’s version of the bill. Then Democrats in the House and Senate used a different measure — a reconciliation bill, which requires only a simple majority — to modify the law they had just passed.
The vote to pass the Senate version of the bill had been 60-39.
A federal judge has ruled that Maryland’s handgun permit law is unconstitutional.
In an opinion filed Monday, U.S. District Judge Benson Everett Legg says a requirement that residents show a “good and substantial reason” to carry a handgun infringes their Second Amendment right to bear arms. He says it isn’t sufficiently tailored to the state’s public safety interests.
Imagine if this were the 1st Amendment. Would, “Do you have a good reason for making that statement, Mr. Jones?” spark outrage?
Plaintiff Raymond Woollard was denied a renewal of his permit in 2009 because he could not show he had been subject to “threats occurring beyond his residence.” Woollard obtained the permit after fighting with an intruder in his Hampstead home in 2002.
…The Constitution doesn’t seem to be of much use to Barack Obama, either. The president who also thinks U.S. power and prestige are no longer what they were, and aren’t that important anyway, recently lamented that the Founders “designed a system that makes it more difficult to bring about change than I would like sometimes.”
Obviously the framers failed to carve out enough power for the “I” branch of the government to suit him.
A lack of respect for the Constitution isn’t peculiar to Obama. It’s shared among Democrats, in particular, even Democrat-appointed Supreme Court jurists.
Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a Clinton appointee, said last week on Egyptian television that if she were drafting a constitution in the year 2012, she wouldn’t look to ours.
She reportedly recommended the South African Constitution, the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms or the European Convention on Human Rights.
These documents are awash in enumerated rights, but enumerated rights are not the gold standard. Roger Pilon, constitutional scholar at the Cato Institute, contends the more important characteristic of a nation’s founding charter is how it limits government.
“The framers protected rights mainly by limiting power,” he said. “That’s why they didn’t think a bill of rights was even needed.”
A look at the constitutions recommended by Ginsburg reveals that some of the “rights” they secure aren’t in fact natural rights at all but licenses to plunder. The “right” to food or health care can be provided only when someone else’s right to the fruits of his labor or the use of his property has to be violated.
We’re not ashamed to declare the U.S. Constitution a magnificent document that, along with the Declaration of Independence, forms the greatest national charter in human history.
No other document has ever guarded freedom the way it has, and no other contract has provided such a foundation for prosperity. It’s not perfect, but it’s as close to perfect as man has come.
The U.S. Constitution is brilliant in its simplicity, which makes it hard for some to understand.
WASHINGTON — The Constitution has seen better days.
Sure, it is the nation’s founding document and sacred text. And it is the oldest written national constitution still in force anywhere in the world. But its influence is waning.
In 1987, on the Constitution’s bicentennial, Time magazine calculated that “of the 170 countries that exist today, more than 160 have written charters modeled directly or indirectly on the U.S. version.”
This is now a popularity contest?
…There are lots of possible reasons. The United States Constitution is terse and old, and it guarantees relatively few rights. The commitment of some members of the Supreme Court to interpreting the Constitution according to its original meaning in the 18th century may send the signal that it is of little current use to, say, a new African nation. And the Constitution’s waning influence may be part of a general decline in American power and prestige.
No, it doesn’t itemize every possible right. It guarantees rights by explicitly limiting the scope of government. Rights are assumed.
In an interview, Professor Law identified a central reason for the trend: the availability of newer, sexier and more powerful operating systems in the constitutional marketplace. “Nobody wants to copy Windows 3.1,” he said.
In a television interview during a visit to Egypt last week, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg of the Supreme Court seemed to agree. “I would not look to the United States Constitution if I were drafting a constitution in the year 2012,” she said. She recommended, instead, the South African Constitution, the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms or the European Convention on Human Rights.
Canadians do not have a right to free speech. Just ask Mark Steyn.
The rights guaranteed by the American Constitution are parsimonious by international standards, and they are frozen in amber. As Sanford Levinson wrote in 2006 in “Our Undemocratic Constitution,” “the U.S. Constitution is the most difficult to amend of any constitution currently existing in the world today.” (Yugoslavia used to hold that title, but Yugoslavia did not work out.)
Other nations routinely trade in their constitutions wholesale, replacing them on average every 19 years. By odd coincidence, Thomas Jefferson, in a 1789 letter to James Madison, once said that every constitution “naturally expires at the end of 19 years” because “the earth belongs always to the living generation.” These days, the overlap between the rights guaranteed by the Constitution and those most popular around the world is spotty.
Americans recognize rights not widely protected, including ones to a speedy and public trial, and are outliers in prohibiting government establishment of religion. But the Constitution is out of step with the rest of the world in failing to protect, at least in so many words, a right to travel, the presumption of innocence and entitlement to food, education and health care.
Is there any law in the US that restricts travel? None that would survive a constitutional challenge. See how that works?
As for “entitlement to food, education and health care” why should anyone be entitled to a free living paid for by others against their will (taxes)?
It has its idiosyncrasies. Only 2 percent of the world’s constitutions protect, as the Second Amendment does, a right to bear arms. (Its brothers in arms are Guatemala and Mexico.)
The Constitution’s waning global stature is consistent with the diminished influence of the Supreme Court, which “is losing the central role it once had among courts in modern democracies,” Aharon Barak, then the president of the Supreme Court of Israel, wrote in The Harvard Law Review in 2002.
Many foreign judges say they have become less likely to cite decisions of the United States Supreme Court, in part because of what they consider its parochialism.
“America is in danger, I think, of becoming something of a legal backwater,” Justice Michael Kirby of the High Court of Australia said in a 2001 interview. He said that he looked instead to India, South Africa and New Zealand.
Seriously who gives a damn?
Reminder: Bush water boarded three men, one of whom admitted planning the 9/11 attacks and who personally sawed Daniel Pearl’s head off.
Obama has water boarded none, but killed 1300 via drones.
Doyle McManus at the LA Times wonders who’s in charge of the hit list.
When it comes to national security, Michael V. Haydenis no shrinking violet. As CIA director, he ran the Bush administration’s program of warrantless wiretaps against suspected terrorists.
But the retired air force general admits to being a little squeamish about the Obama administration’s expanding use of pilotless drones to kill suspected terrorists around the world — including, occasionally, U.S. citizens.
“Right now, there isn’t a government on the planet that agrees with our legal rationale for these operations, except for Afghanistan and maybe Israel,” Hayden told me recently.
As an example of the problem, he cites the example of Anwar Awlaki, the New Mexico-born member of Al Qaeda who was killed by a U.S. drone in Yemen last September. “We needed a court order to eavesdrop on him,” Hayden notes, “but we didn’t need a court order to kill him. Isn’t that something?”
Hayden isn’t the only one who has qualms about the “targeted killing” program. The chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), has been pressing the administration to explain its rules for months.
In a written statement, Feinstein said she thinks Awlaki was “a lawful target” but added that she still thinks the administration should explain its reasoning more openly “to maintain public support of secret operations.”
As Hayden puts it: “This program rests on the personal legitimacy of the president, and that’s dangerous.”
Especially one so cocky and so green.
There has been remarkably little public debate about the drone strikes, which have killed at least 1,300 people inPakistan alone since President Obama came to office. Little debate inside the United States, that is. But overseas, the operations have prompted increasing opposition and could turn into a foreign policy headache.
Little public debate? The LA Times should look in the mirror. It could spark such debate if it so chose.
But there’s a double standard for scandals. Recall the phony scandal over Bush firing eight U.S. attorneys, who are political appointees. (Clinton had fired all 93 upon taking office.)
Yet where is the coverage over Fast and Furious?
It’s odd that the Obama administration, which came into office promising to be more open and more attentive to civil liberties than the previous one, has been so reluctant to explain its policies in this area. Obama and his aides have refused to answer questions about drone strikes because they are part of a covert program, yet they have repeatedly taken credit for their victories in public. After months of negotiations, Atty. Gen. Eric H. Holder Jr. won approval from the White House to spell out some of the administration’s legal thinking in the Awlaki case. But his statement, originally promised for last month, has been delayed by continued internal wrangling…
In recent court filings, the Food and Drug Administration has asserted that stem cells—you know, the ones our bodies produce naturally—are in fact drugs and subject to its regulatory oversight. So does that make me a controlled substance?
The bizarre controversy revolves around the FDA’s attempt to regulate the Centeno-Schultz Clinic in Colorado that performs a nonsurgical stem-cell therapy called Regenexx-C. It is designed to treat moderate to severe joint, tendon, ligament, and bone pain using only adult stem cells. Doctors draw your blood, spin it through a centrifuge, extract the stem cells and re-inject them into your damaged joints. It uses no other drugs. No drugs means no FDA oversight and that does not sit well with the administration.
The FDA has since argued that a) stem cells are drugs and b) they fall under FDA regulation because the clinic is engaging in interstate commerce. That’s right, a process performed at the clinic using the patient’s own bodily fluids constitutes interstate commerce because, according to the administration, out-of-state patients using Regenexx-C would “depress the market for out-of-state drugs that are approved by FDA.”
Would Obama argue if John Boehner decided to appoint someone to oversee the White House staff? Or Obama’s vacations?
Republican senators warned the director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau that they believed his recess appointment was invalid and that new agency rules would be challenged in court, leaving businesses uncertain about what rules to follow.
Republicans were so upset with President Obama’s appointment of Richard Cordray last month that one boycotted the director’s Senate Banking Committee appearance Tuesday and another promised never to work with the president on pending nominations that need the Senate’s approval.
The GOP had been blocking confirmation votes on any nominee to direct the agency until its powers were limited and had prevented the Senate from formally going into recess for more than three days to try to prevent a recess appointment.
It’s a frustrating rule, but it is the rule and always has been. Obama doesn’t think rules apply to him. (see post below)
Cordray said he and his staff have discussed the potential for legal challenges to the appointment by businesses affected by any new rules. But Cordray said it wasn’t clear whether those challenges would succeed and that he believed the appointment was valid.
“I have been appointed as director,” Cordray said. “There may be issues about that … but I now have legal obligations I’m supposed to carry out for this bureau. I’m going to do that.”
How can an illegally appointed anybody be legally obligated to do anything?
Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) said he was pleased there was no widespread boycott and believed the courts would rule that Cordray’s appointment was valid.
“It’s a losing fight politically for them,” Schumer said of Republicans who opposed the creation of the consumer bureau as part of the 2010 overhaul of financial regulations.
Politics, not principle, trumps everything in Schumer’s world.
Property rights, contracts, laws that apply equally to all are the bedrock of modern, prosperous — without them, we’re Egypt.
…Despite the name, “Monopoly” isn’t really about antitrust. It’s about trust. Trust and commerce, Sapienza said. If people want to buy properties, if renters pay their rents and the bank acts predictably, then the game will move merrily forward, and hotels will replace houses on the board.
But if the bank can’t be trusted — if it cheats or proves too erratic — there is a problem. The players walk away from the table.
The same holds true on the great American game board. Trust that everyone is playing by the rules, more or less, is critical. Around the same time she first talked about “Monopoly,” Sapienza and a colleague, Luigi Zingales of the University of Chicago, set about trying to measure the elusive sentiment of trust. They launched a survey, formally known as the Chicago Booth/Kellogg School Financial Trust Index.
In December 2008, they found that only 20 percent of Americans said they trusted the financial system. That rate climbed in successive “waves” of the survey to 26 percent in January 2011. But the index has bobbed up and down since then, and in Wave 12, in September, the trust level had dropped back to 23 percent, other positive signs in the economy notwithstanding.
To many people, housing is one reason why trust in the financial sector remains so stubbornly low. U.S. home prices have fallen 33 percent since their peak before the recession. Declining home values have diminished consumer confidence and curtailed spending. About 12 million homeowners owe more on their mortgage than their house is worth. Many people are losing their homes, and the foreclosure process is a costly mess.
If only we could straighten these problems out, the housing market could recover and the rest of the economy would follow. Or so the logic goes.
One proponent of the Houses Ueber Alles theory is Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke, who recently published a white paper on how housing-market fixes, especially involving mortgages, could restore growth. This is the moment, Bernanke and his Fed colleagues posit, that policy makers should “help reconcile the existing size and mix of the housing market.” Regulators and banks should consider a “broad menu of loan modifications.” Conversion to rentals from ownership may be appropriate. Mortgage servicers should get “incentives to pursue alternatives to foreclosure.” The paper recommends that regulators and lenders “tailor” vulnerable contracts.
In other words, details of paper contracts written years ago matter less than the immediate challenge of lifting burdens from the shoulders of borrowers. The lender’s contractual right to foreclose is subordinate. In Bernanke’s assessment, the rest of the economy will take heart once people get help with houses. It’s time for a new kind of Fed intervention, or Fed-inspired intervention, in residential mortgages.
Thanks very much for your kind introduction. It’s always a pleasure for me to speak to Hillsdale folks. Your mission here at the Kirby Center is a great example of what Hillsdale College is all about – that is, in the words of James Madison, “liberty and learning, each leaning on the other for their mutual and surest support.”
In addition to those of you who’ve joined us today, I’m told that these remarks are being webcast live for the benefit of Hillsdale students back in Michigan, where it is currently 8:30 a.m. – or, as most college students call it, the crack of dawn. Your scholarly passion for human freedom must be powerful indeed.
This Saturday, we celebrate the 224th birthday of the Constitution written by the Framers in Philadelphia. In paying tribute to this inspired document, I want to talk about how we should think about the Constitution, and why that matters.
Usually, our defense of the Constitution is presented as a defense of America’s founding principles and values, and rightfully so. But our constitutional system is not just a collection of principles; it embodies an approach to government with profound practical implications for both our freedom and our prosperity. When that system is threatened, both freedom and prosperity suffer.
Freedom is lost by degrees, and the deepest erosions usually take place during times of economic hardship, when those who favor expanding the sphere of government, abuse a crisis to persuade free citizens that (more…)
HEY, WAIT, THE ANTI-GUN PEOPLE WERE PREDICTING A BLOODBATH: Gun Crime Drops At Virginia Bars And Restaurants After Liberalized Carry Rules:
Virginia’s bars and restaurants did not turn into shooting galleries as some had feared during the first year of a new state law that allows patrons with permits to carry concealed guns into alcohol-serving businesses, a Richmond Times-Dispatch analysis found.
The number of major crimes involving firearms at bars and restaurants statewide declined 5.2 percent from July 1, 2010, to June 30, 2011, compared with the fiscal year before the law went into effect, according to crime data compiled by Virginia State Police at the newspaper’s request.
And overall, the crimes that occurred during the law’s first year were relatively minor, and few of the incidents appeared to involve gun owners with concealed-carry permits, the analysis found.
In other words, exactly what carry advocates predicted, and exactly the opposite of what anti-gun folks predicted. Again.
Those who bitch that our politics are “broken” are mostly sore losers who didn’t get their way.
Of all the endlessly repeated conventional wisdom in today’s Washington, the most lazy, stupid and ubiquitous is that our politics is broken. On the contrary. Our political system is working well (I make no such claims for our economy), indeed, precisely as designed — profound changes in popular will translated into law that alters the nation’s political direction.
The process has been messy, loud, disputatious and often rancorous. So what? In the end, the system works. Exhibit A is Wisconsin. Exhibit B is Washington itself.
The story begins in 2008. The country, having lost confidence in Republican governance, gives the Democrats full control of Washington. The new president, deciding not to waste a crisis, attempts a major change in the nation’s ideological trajectory. Hence his two signature pieces of legislation: a near-$1 trillion stimulus, the largest spending bill in galactic history; and a health-care reform that places one-sixth of the economy under federal control.
In a country where conservatives outnumber liberals 2-1, this causes a reaction. In the 2010 midterms, Democrats suffer a massive repudiation at every level. In Washington, Democrats suffer the greatest loss of House seats since 1948. In the states, they lose over 700 state legislative seats — the largest reversal ever — resulting in the loss of 20 state chambers.
The Tea-Party-propelled, debt-conscious Republicans then move to confront their states’ unsustainable pension and health-care obligations — most boldly in Wisconsin, where the new governor proposes a radical reorientation of the power balance between public-sector unions and elected government.
In Madison, the result is general mayhem — drum-banging protesters, frenzied unions, statehouse occupations, opposition legislators fleeing the state to prevent a quorum. A veritable feast of creative democratic resistance.
In the end, however, they fail. The legislation passes.
Then, further resistance. First, Democrats turn an otherwise sleepy state Supreme Court election into a referendum on the union legislation, the Democrats’ candidate being widely expected to overturn the law. The unions/Democrats lose again. (more…)
Newsalert brings us this passage from President Calvin Coolidge’s speech commemorating the 150th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence (July 5th 1926).
…It is often asserted that the world has made a great deal of progress since 1776, that we have had new thoughts and new experiences which have given us a great advance over the people of that day, and that we may therefore very well discard their conclusions for something more modern. But that reasoning can not be applied to this great charter.
If all men are created equal, that is final. If they are endowed with inalienable rights, that is final. If governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed, that is final. No advance, no progress can be made beyond these propositions. If anyone wishes to deny their truth or their soundness, the only direction in which he can proceed historically is not forward, but backward toward the time when there was no equality, no rights of the individual, no rule of the people. Those who wish to proceed in that direction can not lay claim to progress. They are reactionary. Their ideas are not more modern, but more ancient, than those of the Revolutionary fathers.
In the development of its institutions America can fairly claim that it has remained true to the principles which were declared 150 years ago. In all the essentials we have achieved an equality which was never possessed by any other people. Even in the less important matter of material possessions we have secured a wider and wider distribution of wealth.
Of course to liberals, nothing is ever final.