Thursday, April 19, 2012

Idiots’ Delight

Whew, that was close!  For a while there I thought I was going to have to change the name of this piece from Idiots’ Delight (plural) to Idiot’s Delight (singular), such it seemed was the difficulty in finding multiple instances of idiocy on an equal footing in a given month.  Fortunately showers and May flowers aren’t the only things April brings.  Indeed this month, as if making up for past months, I am proud to announce that four candidates will share the vaunted spotlight.

So, without further ado, let’s have at it.

NBC, for the edited version of the George Zimmerman 911 tape:  In a move that would’ve made Andrew Breitbart proud, NBC’s The Today Show ran what turned out to be an edited portion of a 911 taped call between George Zimmerman and the police dispatcher on the night Trayvon Martin was fatally shot, in which Zimmerman is heard saying, “the guy looks like he's up to no good... he looks black.” The only problem is that Zimmerman doesn’t comment on the color of Martin until he is asked by the dispatcher. The edited version makes it seem as though Zimmerman was inferring that Martin’s color was what made him “up to no good.”

It’s bad enough that NBC didn’t immediately catch the error – and until we know differently, it was an error and doesn’t appear to be malicious – but after conducting an extensive review of the matter, NBC fired the producer (without releasing the name), disciplined several others who were involved and then blamed the incident on – I hope you’re sitting down for this one – trying to make the segment fit into the allotted time slot.

I’d call this excuse lame, but I’m afraid that would be doing a disservice to the word lame.  If that’s the best a network with the pedigree of NBC can do, then heaven help them and us all.  This is the sort of incident that not only gives the whole industry a black eye, but only serves to gin up the wingnuts on the Right who are already convinced that the main-stream media is in the tank. 

Here’s a suggestion for the “producers” of The Today Show; the next time you need a few extra seconds to do your job as journalists, try taking them from some other segment of the show.  I really don’t give a shit what Sarah Palin thinks about Oprah Winfrey, and neither does anybody else with half a brain.

Allen West (R-Fla.), for calling Congressional Democrats Communists:  Apparently the freshmen representative from Florida has watched The Manchurian Candidate one too many times; he sure has James Gregory down to a tee.  Gregory played the role of Senator Iselin, the McCarthy-like buffoon, who maintains that there are known Communists in the Defense Department.  Of course, Iselin can’t seem to make up his mind as to just how many Communists there are.  At least West has been fairly consistent with his idiotic claim: somewhere between 78 and 81.

While West has had a long and storied career of putting his foot in his mouth – his charge that Democrats are like the Nazis during World War II was a beaut – this latest episode is absurd, even for him.  Much as I enjoy seeing Republicans making fools of themselves, West’s antics underscore just how deteriorated politics has become in this country.  Demagogues like West now dominate what’s left of the GOP and, in so doing, deny the electorate a legitimate chance to debate the issues at hand.

Well the Florida Republican legislature has decided to take matters into its own hands.  In a surprising move, they have voted to redraw West’s district to include more registered Democrats.  No the GOP isn’t mad; my guess is that they’ve had enough of West and his nonsense.  By sacrificing the Florida 22nd, the hope is that the Party can begin to elevate its status among independent voters who will be key, not just this year but going forward.

Now if only Texas could do the same to Louie Gohmert.  I guess that’s asking a bit too much.

Conservative Criticism over President Obama’s Introduction of To Kill A Mockingbird: We’ve heard every possible slight and insult thrown at this president since the day he was sworn into office – and even before – but this one takes the cake.  Conservatives – well at least the far-right contingent – are all up in arms because Obama had the audacity of introducing on the USA network a landmark film celebrating its fiftieth anniversary.  Somebody pinch me; I must be dreaming.  America can’t be this crazy.

The theme of the film is, of course, prejudice, so naturally by introducing the film, the President is race baiting, just like he always does.  Somehow, in their demented world view, Atticus Finch has become the voice of the Tea Party patriots who are trying to free the country from the tyranny of Obama’s Bob Ewell.  Tom Robinson, naturally, is the poor Constitution on trial for its life.

Every time I hear some white idiot go on about how the only racism that occurs these days is black on white, I go back to this movie, or perhaps the more brutally honest Mississippi Burning.  To the best of my knowledge I’ve never heard of a white man being strung up by a black man because of the color of his skin.  I have just one question to ask any white man who feels his burden is too great to bear.  Would you trade places with a black man or a Latino woman?  If the answer isn’t an immediate and unqualified yes, do me and the rest of the thinking white race a favor and SHUT THE FUCK UP!  You’re wearing us out.

Ted Nugent for being a complete ass, again:  This time, old Ted may have gone a bit too far.  Apparently the Secret Service has taken notice of some of his recent comments concerning the President.  So that there is no misunderstanding or contextual controversy, I thought we’d hear it straight from the horse’s ass, err, mouth.

“If Barack Obama becomes the president in November, again, I will be either be dead or in jail by this time next year.”

There is no other rational way to interpret the meaning behind the obvious threat contained in those words.  If his lame attempt at a one hit wonder – Cat Scratch Fever is so bad, it makes Thin Lizzy’s The Boys Are Back in Town seem like Born to Run by comparison – hasn’t landed him in jail for impersonating a rock star, then it’s fair to say that he isn’t the jail type.  So when he says he will be dead or in jail, you can bet the ranch it wouldn’t be for jay walking.

The real problem here isn’t the idiotic statement by a washed up ‘70s has-been that’s about as genuine as his lyrics.  It’s the way in which those words might encourage people even stupider than Nugent to possibly try their hand at something far more dangerous than simply being an asshole.  This has been my number one concern pretty much from day one – and apparently it’s the number one concern of the Secret Service.  The pent up rage and hostility of unbalanced racists who don’t need much ginning up to convert their overt feelings of hatred into overt expressions of violence.

One nut job is all it would take to create a national tragedy.  Nice goin' shithead.


Monday, April 16, 2012

Tip of the Hat

Last month's oral arguments before the Supreme Court on the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act were indeed depressing to watch.  Like many progressives, I felt - and still do to some extent - that the individual mandate is in trouble.

Apparently, though, all may not be lost.  At least that's the opinion of this month's Tip of the Hat featured writer who, though conservative, has written a pretty damn compelling argument for why the individual mandate should stand.  To be clear the author is hardly a moderate.  He supported the Citizens United decision and backed the appointment of Robert Bork to the Supreme Court.  All of which makes this piece pretty remarkable.

The only question I have is why couldn't the Administration have chosen him instead of Moe Howard to represent them in front of the Court?  But then that's a topic for another blog piece, isn't it?

A Conservative Law Professor on the Obvious Constitutionality of Obamacare

The Constitution of the United States creates a national government of enumerated and therefore limited powers. Accordingly, troubled members of the Court should be applauded for their efforts to search for the limits to any principle advanced to uphold the health care mandate of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), not made the target of strident and caustic criticism. The Court is a great institution, and its members don’t deserve such abuse.

That should be said, and I want to say it as clearly as I can. Nonetheless, I submit that sustaining the mandate would not give rise to the justices’ fears of boundless federal authority.

The individual health mandate surely passes constitutional muster under settled judicial principles. The Constitution’s Commerce Clause grants Congress the authority “to regulate commerce ... among the several States.”  The Court's precedents establish without question that Congress may regulate intrastate economic activities that Congress (not the Court) reasonably concludes have a substantial effect on interstate commerce. The existence of such congressional authority is especially clear when the challenged provision itself is part of a comprehensive legislative scheme that regulates interstate commerce.

Moreover, the market for health care is distinctive (if not entirely unique) in several key respects. Virtually all of us will need and obtain health care at some point, but we often cannot predict when or in what ways we will need it. And for the vast majority of us, direct payment for the health care services we obtain would be prohibitively expensive. Yet not obtaining needed medical care can be the difference between life and death.

These features help explain why, unlike many other markets, insurance is the overwhelmingly dominant means of payment in the health care market. They also explain why Congress has required that individuals be given emergency care without regard to their ability to pay. As a result, and again unlike other markets, uninsured individuals who are unable to pay directly for needed medical services necessarily shift the cost of those services to others—to health care providers, the government, individuals with insurance, and taxpayers.

In that way, Congress is not creating a market which it then seeks to regulate.  The insurance-based structure of the health care market is already firmly in place. That is why it was well within Congress's discretion to design legislation to operate within, and to address problems posed by, this vast market.

But the insurance market is so complex that addressing one aspect of the market can easily create others problems. For example, one longstanding problem is that the insurance model makes affordable health care unattainable for many individuals already in poor health.  Congress responded by prohibiting insurers from denying coverage or charging higher rates based upon an individual's pre-existing health conditions. Yet given that prohibition, one could reasonably conclude that currently healthy individuals might forgo the purchase of insurance until they need it. That would undermine the viability of the insurance pool, which depends on payments from currently healthy individuals to finance health care for those who need it, when they need it. In this respect, the individual mandate is intimately connected to, and advances the aims of, the overall regulatory scheme put in place by the ACA.

The same is decidedly not true of the testing hypotheticals raised by members of the Court concerning mandates to purchase broccoli or automobiles: Individuals who wait to purchase such goods until they are needed do not undermine a larger regulatory scheme or shift costs to other consumers of those goods or to any other third party. Nor is the health mandate comparable to a requirement to purchase burial insurance, because no showing can be made that Congress would be responding to any real national problem. These factual distinctions in fact illuminate the narrowness of the ground upon which a decision upholding the mandate should stand.

The purported limit on congressional power favored by the mandate's opponents—between constitutionally permissible regulation of “activity ” and unconstitutional regulation of “inactivity ”—is simply unknown to Commerce Clause jurisprudence, is wholly unworkable, and makes no economic sense. But even if it had any legitimate constitutional purchase, it would be satisfied in the case of the ACA. The overwhelming majority of those subject to the individual mandate are or will be engaged in the economic activity of receiving health care services. For that overwhelming majority, the mandate is a regulation of economic activity.

It is, of course, possible that the mandate could touch individuals living such isolated existences that they will never seek any health care services. For them, the mandate (if enforced against them) would indeed require an unwelcome purchase. But the Court’s cases have always recognized that Congress legislates on an aggregate, nationwide basis. No person can withdraw himself from the ambit of Commerce Clause-based legislation by arguing that, standing alone, his activity, or that a small group like him, does not substantially affect commerce. Congress is entitled to legislate based upon the aggregated activity of the class regulated. Honoring its longstanding traditions of judicial restraint and respect for the coordinate branches, the Court should not, in the present litigation, allow such hypothetical extreme cases to undermine the constitutionality of the ACA for the hundreds of millions already participating in the interstate health care market.

I recognize that many persons believe the health mandate is very bad legislative policy. But the appropriate judicial response to such a complaint has long been clear. The Court was admirably forthright about the point in its ruling in Munn v. Illinois in 1876: “For protection against abuses by the Legislature, the people must resort to the polls, not the courts.”

Henry Paul Monaghan is the Harlan Fiske Stone Professor of Constitutional Law at Columbia Law School.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

The Titanic: One Hundred Years Later, the Unthinkable Still Lives On

This April 15th marks the one hundred year anniversary of the most deadly and notorious disaster in maritime history.  The specter of the giant ocean liner, speeding along the calm, icy waters of the north Atlantic, seemingly impervious to the threat that lied ahead of her, only to be felled by that very threat, is so indelibly etched into our collective consciousness that the ship’s very name is synonymous with tragedy.  

Over the many years and countless books and movies, historians and buffs have attempted to piece together various explanations as to how the Titanic met her doom.  Her rudder was too small; her construction made it awkward to steer; her officers were too inexperienced to navigate her properly; weather conditions and the fact that there was no moon played havoc with the visibility all night making it difficult to see the horizon;  and now the latest theory making the rounds that the alignment of the Earth, moon and sun influenced the tides, causing icebergs to break off the Greenland glaciers at a faster than normal rate and thus drift haphazardly into the shipping lanes causing a menace to navigation.  There might well be something to this latest theory.  The winter of 1912 had been among the warmest in recent memory and that, coupled with the alignment issue, could have played a pivotal role in the calamity.

But while all the above reasons might explain how the ill-fated ship collided with the iceberg, none of them addresses the all-important question as to why the collision and the subsequent disaster occurred in the first place.  For that, there is but one simple and undeniable explanation: hubris.

Any objective look at the facts concerning the Titanic disaster would conclude that it was sheer arrogance – nothing more, nothing less – that led to the loss of more than fifteen hundred souls on that cold April night.  No less than seven ice warnings were sent to and received by the ship’s wireless crew.  All but one of those warnings made its way to the bridge – the last one sent less than an hour before the collision was interrupted by the Titanic’s wireless operator who promptly and rudely told the warning vessel’s operator to “shut up.” 

The officers knew full well they were in a hazardous zone, yet took no additional precautions, confident that if anything came up they could successfully avoid it.  No additional lookouts were posted either on the bridge or on the bow.  Even when it became obvious that visibility had been compromised by a thin haze on the horizon, no order was given by the captain or officer of the watch to reduce speed. 

Who could blame them for being so self-assured?  The Titanic was pronounced as virtually unsinkable by every expert in the shipbuilding community.  Even if they had run into something, certainly the ship would survive.  Captain Smith, only a few years earlier, had been quoted as saying, “I cannot imagine any condition which would cause a ship to founder. I cannot conceive of any vital disaster happening to this vessel. Modern shipbuilding has gone beyond that.”     

Of course, Smith's words would come back to haunt him.  The maiden voyage of the Titanic was a text book example of how not to operate a passenger liner.  Every conceivable sin of commission had been committed and the result was a just deserts for the ages.

It is one thing to be undone by circumstances beyond your control – weather, tidal currents, construction shortcomings, ignorance – it is quite another to be the architect of your own destruction.  And yet that is precisely what happened on board the Titanic that fateful night. Despite all the lame excuses concerning the how’s, what’s, where’s and when’s, had the severity of the situation been taken even a little more seriously by those in charge, the whole ghastly end could’ve been avoided.  The largest ship in the world would have made it to its rightful port of call, a few hours late but unscathed, and all twenty-two hundred passengers and crew would’ve arrived at their true destination, inconvenienced but safe and sound.  But, alas, recklessness and overconfidence won out over prudence and humbleness.  The rest, as they say, is history.

Funny how little has changed in one hundred years.  While the physical ship lies at the bottom of the ocean, a nautical footnote, the sad and painful truth is that that night keeps playing out for us in various incarnations, over and over.  The spirit of the Titanic calls out to us from its watery grave issuing the same somber warning that the price for pride and arrogance is exacting.  But humanity must invariably flirt with the iceberg.

The Great Recession of 2008 – the worst economic upheaval since the Great Depression of the 1930s – brought the world to the edge of the precipice.  It was yet another painful reminder that not only aren't unregulated markets rational, they can be responsible for causing untold carnage if given half a chance.  Almost four years later, the U.S. economy is still digging itself out.  Has the near-death experience taught us anything?  Apparently not.  The too big to fail players who nearly wrecked the economy are now bigger than ever.    
JP Morgan, now the biggest commercial and investment bank in the country, owns $2.3 trillion in assets.  Right behind it are Goldman Sachs and Wells Fargo.  While the Dodd-Frank Act dealt with some of the systemic problems that led to the financial crisis, it never resolved the number one nemesis: the fact that the largest lending and investment firms in the country simply are too large for their own good and, therefore, pose the greatest threat if one or more of them were to go south.  

The repeal of Glass-Steagall by the Clinton Administration in 1999 allowed banks and investment firms to merge and grow to enormous size.  Since investment firms were not regulated as tightly as banks they could take greater risks.  When the assets became part of the banks’ total portfolios, those banks took on much greater exposure.  As the housing market began to decline, these assets, some of which were toxic, dragged down these newly formed institutions almost to the brink of insolvency, requiring billions in federal bailout funds.  Rather than deal with the real 800 pound gorilla in the country – the incredible size and vulnerability of these lenders – the new regulations allowed the genie to remain outside her bottle. 

The fact is we are no more safe now from a cataclysmic meltdown than we were four years ago; indeed we are probably more susceptible because the key players are larger and even more exposed.  It’s as though, after having watched the Titanic sink, we allowed the same people who wrecked her to build a bigger, more unstable ship and run it even faster through the danger zone.

I've watched the movie A Night To Remember many times over the years and the result has always been the same.  The Titanic hits the berg and sinks to the bottom of the ocean, leaving fifteen hundred people to freeze to death.  The temptation is always there to fixate on the instrument of destruction rather than the true cause.  But sooner or later the time for blaming the iceberg must come to an end.  The truth is it was never the berg's fault to begin with.  Like Brutus, we must realize that the fault was never in our stars but in ourselves.


Wednesday, April 11, 2012

It Don’t Mean A Thing If You Ain’t Got Them Swings

The announcement by Rick Santorum that he is pulling out of the GOP primary race should come as no shock to anyone who was paying attention the last few weeks.  Indeed, since my op-ed piece on him last month where I pronounced – frighteningly – that he could beat Obama in a general election, the former Pennsylvania senator has sunk like the Titanic in the opinion polls.

Hint, in case you haven’t noticed, I am the kiss of death when it comes to writing about candidates.  When I wrote a piece about Newt Gingrich – Eye of the Newt – Gingrich was considered the major challenger to Mitt Romney for the Republican nomination.  So how’s the former Speaker of the House doing since then?  Well, to paraphrase Chevy Chase, Newt Gingrich is still valiantly holding on in his fight to remain dead, politically speaking that is.  By the way, if I ever call to do a story on you, feel free to hang up.

Seriously, Santorum’s decision is the best gift he could’ve given the GOP.  While social conservatives will mourn the loss of their valiant hero, the simple truth is he had become his own worst enemy and was bringing down his Party’s chances to win the general election.  Every time he came close to closing the gap with Romney he would stick his foot in his mouth and drive potential voters away. 

Despite his best bravado, Santorum appealed primarily to people so far to the right that the words mainstream and socialist might as well be synonymous.  His extreme views on contraception and his “take” on JFK’s famous separation of church and state speech had become a lightning rod for opponents.

If you look closely at the numbers, it was obvious that Santorum was winning the states few if any believe will be in dispute come November; whereas Romney was winning the states Republicans will need to turn red in order to win the White House, including Florida and Ohio.  Translation, it’s the swing states stupid.  Really, does anyone seriously believe that South Carolina, Georgia, Mississippi and Alabama are in danger of going Democrat this fall?  Didn’t think so.  Preaching to the choir – those who were already predisposed to vote for him anyway – was getting old fast, and everybody knew it.  A Santorum nomination, as improbable as it might’ve been, would’ve guaranteed an electoral landslide for the President.   

Now that he is out of the picture, the path is now clear for Captain Fliptastic to take the nomination and build a consensus around what promises to be a brutal general election campaign, much to the relief of Republicans and the chagrin of Democrats who were hoping – praying – that this food fight would go on a bit longer.  

Not surprisingly, the White House stepped up its attacks on the former Massachusetts governor.  The strategy should be simple enough; go after Romney where he is most vulnerable: his flip-flopping and his inability to connect with the working class.  And while I whole heartily concur with the latter – Romney makes the Richie Rich kid look like Little Orphan Annie – the former has the potential to backfire.

Let’s assume the Republican base, regardless of how disenchanted they might be with the presumptive nominee, comes out enforce and votes as expected: along party lines.  Let’s also assume that the Democratic base, terrified of letting the GOP run roughshod all over the country, does the same thing.  That means that all-important independent vote gets to break the tie.  One man’s flip flop could well be another’s pragmatism and ability to be flexible.  In an ironic twist of fate, what was once considered a liability by the far-right conservative base might well turn out to be an advantage to independent voters.  Wouldn’t that be a kick in the pants.

I have said from day one that Mitt Romney will be the biggest challenge to an Obama second term.  Not since Reagan has the Republican Party had a candidate that polls well in six out of seven geographical areas of the country.  He holds his own in the Northeast – indeed he could conceivably take Massachusetts and New Hampshire, though more than likely he will narrowly lose both.  He will more than likely split the mid-Atlantic states.  Forget the South, where they will vote for a pet rock before they vote for Obama.  [The only exception being Florida, which, with its 29 electoral votes, is wide open.]  He will snatch one, possibly two Rust-belt states.  He’ll sweep the Plain states.  And out in the Southwest, he will take Utah (of course), Arizona and possibly Colorado.  That leaves the West Coast, where Obama will win handily.

By my count seven states will likely decide this election: North Carolina, Virginia, Ohio, Wisconsin, Michigan, Colorado and Florida. If Obama takes four of them, he keeps the White House. If Romney wins four or more of them, it’s likely game over.  Forget the national polls, which are quite meaningless.  For the next seven months, it’ll be swing time in America.

Fasten your seatbelts, kids.  This is going to be one hell of a rumble.


Monday, April 9, 2012

Selective Activism - Postscript

So the Supreme Court has decided to re-examine its Citizens United ruling.  At least that's what some of my progressive friends are saying. No doubt they will come to their senses and realize that the ruling was wrong and undo the damage they've done.

And immediately after its new ruling, the Brooklyn Bridge will go on sale.  I got first dibs.

Sorry guys, I hate to burst your bubble, but expecting this Court to have an epiphany goes against everything we've come to expect from them.  The real reason for the revisit is not due to any altruism on the their part but because the Montana Supreme Court decided to ostensibly ignore the Citizens ruling and hold that state law overrides federal law.

Unfortunately for Montana, and the rest of the sane legal community, they're wrong.  Federal law, no matter how ridiculous, always trumps state law.  The issue of states' rights has long since been adjudicated.

Expect the federal Supreme Court to overrule the Montana Supreme Court and uphold its absurd decision.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Selective Activism

When it comes to judicial activism, it’s like that old expression, “One man’s meat is another man’s poison?” It depends on which side of the activist fence you’re on.  If you’re a conservative, a little judicial activism is a good thing, especially if it results in the appointment of a president whose policies you agree with or the overturning of a particular piece of legislation you find objectionable.  On the other hand, if that judicial activism overturns a ban on same-sex marriage, well that’s going too far.  We can’t have our courts setting themselves up as the arbiters of social mores, unless of course those mores conform to a certain philosophical leaning.  Clearly the difference between meat and poison boils down to who’s holding the fork.

Over the last few days it has been humorous to say the least listening to Republicans condemn President Obama for “bullying” the Supreme Court over the soon-to-be-announced decision on the legality of his healthcare law.  I mean you’d think he was calling for the subpoenaing of judges before Congress to make them explain the reasoning behind their decisions. Oh, that was Newt Gingrich.  That silence you hear is the plethora of Republicans condemning the former Speaker’s outlandish comments.  Apparently, when a liberal president calls out an activist court, he’s being a bully; when a conservative candidate for president does it, he’s a champion of judicial restraint and the Constitution.  See what I mean about meat and poison?

Of course, while the Court deliberates the fate of a signature piece of legislation over an obscure interpretation of the Commerce Clause, just this past week, it ruled 5-4 that officials may strip-search people arrested for any offense, however minor, before admitting them to jails even if there is no reason to suspect the presence of contraband.  Mr. swing-man himself, Justice Kennedy, joined the supposedly non-activist contingent and even wrote the majority opinion, which he summed up quite eloquently in this one line: “People detained for minor offense can turn out to be the most devious and dangerous criminals.”

Seriously, that’s the line of reasoning behind the majority for upholding the right of the government to strip-search you without cause.  You MIGHT be up to no good. If only the police had been able to strip-search Timothy McVeigh, the Oklahoma City bombing might never have happened.  Of course the fact that several thousand tons of explosives would’ve been impossible to hide up his ass, apparently hasn’t dawned on Kennedy – a point made brilliantly by Jon Stewart on The Daily Show recently – but why let common sense get in the way of shitting all over the Fourth Amendment?  

The Supreme Court, for all intents and purposes, has now deteriorated into a political vortex in which it finds itself steeped in a self-serving ideology that neither represents nor is consistent with that ideology.  As Andrew Trees of The Chicago Tribune commented, “A majority of justices view a strip-search for something as trivial as failing to use a turn signal as perfectly acceptable, but requiring a citizen to buy health care is an unwarranted intrusion on personal liberty.”

Or, as one particular letter to the editor of The New York Times succinctly put it, “How remarkable to live in a world where, for our most conservative Supreme Court justices, the right not to buy health insurance seems more inviolate than the right to be free from unwarranted, unreasonable and humiliating strip searches.”

The canard of judicial restraint is nothing more than a smoke screen for a nefarious attempt to rewrite decades of jurisprudence that is viewed by the Right as inimical to their interests.  Whether it was Bush v. Gore or Citizens United or, now, the Affordable Care Act, the one common denominator in every one of these landmark cases is the manner in which, slowly but surely, the branch entrusted with protecting the integrity of the Constitution has been the one undermining it.   

Ironic wouldn’t you say that a supposedly non-activist Supreme Court has shown anything but restraint in its decisions and is now so blatantly partisan that even some conservatives are beginning to openly wonder about their motives.  In an op-ed piece in The Daily Caller, titled “Why Conservatives Should Want the Supreme Court to Uphold Obamacare,” Connor Boyack, to be clear a critic of the law, believes that it was never the intent of the Founders that the Court be “the final arbiter of what is or is not constitutional.”

He cites Madison and Jefferson to support his opinion. Madison warned that the judicial branch could “usurp” the authority of the other two branches and in so doing “may exercise or sanction dangerous powers beyond the grant of the Constitution.”  Jefferson went a bit farther in rebuking the premise that the Court should be the final arbiter on matters of constitutionality, believing it to be “a very dangerous doctrine indeed, and one which would place us under the despotism of an oligarchy. Our judges are as honest as other men, and not more so. They have, with others, the same passions for party, for power, and the privilege of their corps.”

In other words, power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.  If ever there was a better example of absolute power corrupting absolutely, it is today’s Supreme Court.  This is exactly the sort of thing the Founders didn’t want to happen: nine despots holding the country hostage to their own form of judicial tyranny.

While I’ve never been one to be an alarmist, I must confess I am pessimistic as to the long range prospects for the nation, given the current makeup of the judiciary.  It’s one thing to have the legislature under the auspices of a political movement that is myopic, insular and inept.  At least there is a remedy afforded by the ballot box.  There is no such remedy for a lifetime appointment to the bench save for old age and retirement, and that remedy, at least for the time being, doesn’t appear to be in the offing.

Read more:

Sunday, April 1, 2012

All Apologies

Ladies and gentlemen, I have a confession to make.  For years I have been living a lie.  While publicly I had been lauding the virtues of being a progressive, privately I was anything but.  I would tune into MSNBC virtually every evening and watch Rachel Maddow, Ed Schultz and, before he took off for Pluto like Captain Video, Keith Olbermann.  I hung on every word they uttered like it was blood plasma. 

But then a curious thing began to happen.  While watching those shows, my fingers would often change the channel on the remote to Fox News.  At first I recoiled at what my eyes were beholding, as if touching a hot stove.  But then I began to experience a new and unique sensation.  Far from being shocked at what I was watching, I found it strangely inviting.  I was being drawn to it like a moth to a flame.  O’Reilly, Hannity, even the dearly departed Glenn Beck (may he rest in peace wherever he is).

I had to be careful to make sure my wife didn’t see me watching such programs, so whenever she would come into the room, I would quickly change the channel.  On those rare occasions when I got caught, I would pretend I had been asleep and that my fingers inadvertently pushed the wrong buttons.  When in doubt blame it on fatigue.  There were a couple of close calls, but I always managed to get out of Dodge.

Like a junk food junkie who had extolled the virtues of healthy cuisine, I couldn’t wait to get my fix of Devil Dogs and Yoohoo.  I was hooked; I was an addict.  And it wasn’t just cable TV; I couldn’t stop listening to AM radio.  Every afternoon at 12, like clockwork, I would tune into Rush.  On my way home from work, it was drive time with old Sean.  And then there were those evenings with Mark Levin.  I would lie to my wife and tell her I was going out for ice cream or Starbucks.  The truth was I was sitting in my car being indoctrinated by “The Great One’s” greatness.

I was panic stricken.  What would I tell the legions (okay the half dozen or so people) who read my blog daily and wait to be inspired by my dazzling wit and sarcastic zings?  What would I tell my co-workers who knew I was a hopeless liberal?  Hell, what would I tell my wife, who thought she was marrying her own version of Thom Hartmann?

I couldn’t disappoint them, so bravely I trudged along, suppressing my inner feelings, while outwardly putting on a good show.  I rationalized that I could handle it.  After all, I’m a salesman; I’m used to shoveling shit and getting people to buy it.

But inside, the war was consuming and slowly convicting me.  I finally decided I couldn’t do this anymore. Like a drunk who had hit rock bottom, I came to a crossroads in my life. It was time to come out and admit publicly what I had known privately for quite some time.  I can’t live this lie anymore.  The war inside my soul must come to an end.

I’m a conservative!  There I said it.  And not just any conservative.  I’m a true believer; not one of those RINOs like David Brooks or that traitor David Frum.  I’m a Limbaugh ditto head, a Hannity ham, an O’Reilly patriot and a Levin loyalist.

I love Ann Coulter, S.E. Cupp, Megyn Kelly and Laura Ingraham and wish to publicly apologize for anything I may have said about them in my blog, especially you Ann.  Sorry about that picture of you, too.  It really wasn’t funny showing you with your mouth wired shut.  I’m truly ashamed of myself.  Can you ever forgive me?

I also want to take this time to formally apologize to Sarah Palin, Michele Bachmann, Rick Perry and Herman Cain, whom I have savaged with the most vile and wicked attacks imaginable.  It’s not their fault that the media distorted their words by having the audacity of putting a mic in front of them and asking them gotcha questions like what their views are.  They would’ve made great Presidents and now, thanks to selfish progressives like me, the country will be deprived of their inner brilliance.

And to all the other stalwarts of the Right, who tirelessly defend our precious freedoms, liberties and bodily fluids, I’m sincerely sorry if my words offended you.  Your pain will now be mine; your righteous causes mine.  My brothers and sisters, I have joined you. Pray that I will have one tenth the courage you have shown.

For the first time in years, I feel a sense of freedom.  I can truly be myself now without having to hide behind a veneer of deceit and lies. While I am sorry for the huge disappointment this must bring to my friends, family and devotees, I hope all of you will understand and support me in my new-found calling.

Over the next few months I plan on exposing the manipulation of the liberal-elite media, actively participating in the conservative effort to not only repeal “Obamacare” but scale back all those needless federal regulations like the Clean Air Act and others that conclusively prove that the government has overstepped its reach.  You want clean air?  Buy a mask.

And now if you’ll excuse me, I have to start packing.  I’m going hunting tomorrow with Dick Cheney.