Thursday, August 26, 2010

With Friends Like These, Who Needs Enemies?

Last month, I wrote a couple of posts on NewsReal criticizing the wisdom of one of my co-bloggers' calls to "eradicate Islam in the West." In a nutshell: Islam is a violent, totalitarian religion which needs to be aggressively and honestly confronted, but simply "eradicating" it outright would be not only impossible, but calling for such an eradication would confuse and alienate a heck of a lot of people.

One of my most persistent critics was a commenter using the name "ObamaYoMoma," whose arguments were as verbose as they were insipid. In a nutshell: The West needs to be totally purged of Islam because it's not really a religion anyway and therefore the First Amendment doesn't apply to it.

Those interested can check out the sordid, stupid saga at the links above. Suffice to say, no amount of semantic gymnastics about what is or isn't a religion can erase the fact that we have a First Amendment, and that according to just about every accepted definition of the term "religion" we have, Islam qualifies. And if you really think you'll find enough public support, enough of a congressional majority, and elect a president who would support criminalizing an entire religion, plus find so much as a single court in the land who would stand for it...well, let me know how much luck you have.

This week, OYM popped up again on another of my posts, regurgitating the same idiocy. He wouldn't define exactly what "banning" Islam would entail, nor did he answer my question about whether or not the First Amendment places any limits on what we can justly do to bring about Islam's "eradication." Instead, he smugly asserted that I don't know what Islam is, and that I am "blinded by PC multiculturalism like John Gardiano" (wonder if he knows just how well John and I get along, or that John misrepresented my position on Islam).

Inasmuch as I made perfectly clear where I stand on Islam in each of the very posts OYM commented on, it's hard to see him as much more than a liar or a buffoon. But to end this skirmish on a semi-productive note, let's see what Robert Spencer, who OYM claims to be a disciple of, has to say on the subject:
The implications of what I'm saying are very bad. There's no way to sugarcoat them. But there are precedents. And there are useful ways forward — if we have the courage to face this problem as it truly is.

This is a problem within Islamic teaching, within core Islamic teaching, founded on the Quran. As such, wherever there are Islamic communities, there will be terrorism and efforts to impose elements of Islamic law through peaceful means, to assert the precedence of Islamic law over the laws of the state in which the Muslims happen to be residing. That will always happen.

Now, in 1945, the McArthur government — the occupational government in Japan — issued an edict saying that Shinto (the religion of the Japanese that had fueled Japanese imperial militarism in World War II) would have no interference from the United States' occupying forces as an expression of individual piety, as the religion of any Japanese citizen. No interference whatsoever from the government. However, Shinto would have no role in the government or in the schools.

The distinction was made — it was imposed from without — that Shinto would have no way to express the political militarism that had led to World War II in the first place.

Now, the United States, Great Britain, Europe, are all facing a very similar problem, with growing Muslim communities asserting political and societal notions that are at variance with our ideas of the freedom of speech, the freedom of conscience, the equality of rights of women with men, the equality of rights of all people before the law.

If our governments had the courage to stand up and say that any assertion of these political aspects of Islam that are at variance with our existing laws will be considered to be seditious under existing sedition laws, there would be a tremendous amount of progress made on this problem.

But of course we're nowhere near that, because we can't even admit that there are such initiatives going on from the Islamic communities as such.

And so as long as this unrealism persists, then the cognitive dissonance will continue to grow. And as long as the cognitive dissonance continues to grow, so also will the assertiveness and beligerence of the Islamic communities in the West, because they will see that we are not able and not willing to take the decisive steps necessary to do anything serious to stop them.
This is how we should treat Islam (or any religion, for that matter): firm, honest, and uncompromising toward its elements that are incompatible with liberty, but also thoughtful, responsible, and acknowledging legitimate religious rights. Thankfully, nobody with any real power or influence seems to be parroting OYM's nonsense.

What the Commerce Clause Means

Hat tip to Ed Morrissey for posting this handy video on what the Constitution's Commerce Clause does and doesn't mean. It's well worth your time:

Around the Web

The Iraqis don't want us to leave yet, and a narrow majority doubts that Barack Obama cares about their situation. Great...

Is Christianity true?

In National Review, Jason Lee Steorts reveals the dark side of Ayn Rand.

I love the video game Portal as much as the next guy, but giving people academic credit for playing it is really pushing it.

Here are two links about alleged right-wing violence not being so right-wing after all. (Hat tip to Ann Coulter)

And here comes backdoor amnesty. Boy, some leadership from the opposition party would be nice....

Monday, August 23, 2010

Does David Frum Make His Writers Fulfill a Lie Quota or Something? (UPDATED)

At ScumForum, John Guardiano has another condescending lecture about how conservatives need to stop being mean to Islam. David Swindle responded to John's previous effort last week, and overall it suffices as a rebuttal to this one too; go read it.

One detail in particular caught my eye:
National Review’s Andrew McCarthy suggests we might have to reconsider whether the First Amendment ought even to apply to Muslims. After all, he argues, “intolerance is not just part of al-Qaeda; it is part of Islam.”
Woah! A prominent anti-terror conservative advocating a repeal of American Muslims' First Amendment rights?  Man, if that's true, National Review ought to fire McCarthy on the spot.

Oh, wait. It's not true.

In the article Guardiano links, McCarthy makes no mention of the First Amendment at all, much less calls for exempting Muslims from its protections. In fact, McCarthy says:
No one credibly questions the legal right of Muslim landowners to use their property in any lawful fashion. Legality is an irrelevant issue, even if the back-tracking Obama now wants to pretend it is the only one he was really talking about on Friday night. The question here is propriety.
In other words, Guardiano's lying. Not a shocker - that sort of thing is standard operating procedure at FrumForum.

UPDATE: Guardiano tweets that he's not lying "at all," and that details to come later. I look forward to whatever details he's got, but if McCarthy really did say somewhere that the First Amendment shouldn't apply to Muslims (a couple of quick Google searches sure haven't come up with anything, and I have to imagine the Left would be shouting it from the rooftops if it were true), then Guardiano has no excuse for not elaborating or linking to it in the original piece. Basic morality and professionalism should keep people from leveling explosive charges against people if they're not accompanied by evidence. Guardiano only linked to one example of McCarthy's words - in which McCarthy expressed the exact opposite of the sentiments attributed to him.

At least John spelled my name right this time. I hear he's particular about that sort of thing.

Who Said Anything About Repealing the 14th Amendment?

Jill Stanek is a tremendous pro-life blogger, but she's unfortunately framed the question of birthright citizenship for illegal immigrants all wrong. She asks her readers: "Do you think the 14th Amendment should be repealed?" But nobody's talking about repealing the 14th Amendment. Some people have suggested a constitutional amendment repealing birthright citizenship, but all this would do would be to modify one aspect of the Amendment. To suggest anything like a full repeal is on the table is unfounded and absurd.

Second, those talking amendment are mistaken: the 14th Amendment as originally written and intended does not automatically give citizenship to the children of illegals born on American soil. Dr. John Eastman explains:
The text of the Fourteenth Amendment’s Citizenship Clause provides that “All persons born or naturalized in the United States and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside.”  That text has two requirements: 1) Birth on U.S. soil; and 2) Being subject to the jurisdiction of the United States when born.  In recent decades, the opinion has taken root, quite erroneously, that anyone born in the United States (except the children of ambassadors) is necessarily subject to its jurisdiction because everyone has to comply with our laws while physically present within our borders.  Those who drafted and ratified the Fourteenth Amendment had a different understanding of jurisdiction.  For them, a person could be subject to the jurisdiction of a sovereign nation in two very different ways: the one, partial and territorial; the other full and complete.  Think of it this way.  When a tourist from Great Britain visits the United States, he subjects himself to our “territorial jurisdiction.”  He has to follow our laws while he is here, including our traffic laws that require him to drive on the right rather than the wrong (I mean left!) side of the road.  He is no longer subject to those laws when he returns home, of course, and he was never subject to the broader jurisdiction that requires from him allegiance to the United States.  He can’t be drafted into our army, for example, or prosecuted for treason for taking up arms against us.

So which of the two understandings of jurisdiction did the drafters and ratifiers of the citizenship Clause have in mind?  Happily, we do not need to speculate about that, as the drafters of the Fourteenth Amendment were quite explicit when asked this very question.  Senator Lyman Trumbell, a key figure in the drafting and adoption of the Amendment, stated that “subject to the jurisdiction” of the United States meant subject to its “complete” jurisdiction, “[n]ot owing allegiance to anybody else.”  And Senator Jacob Howard, who introduced the language of the jurisdiction clause on the floor of the Senate, contended that it should be construed to mean “a full and complete jurisdiction,” “the same jurisdiction” requirement as applied under the 1866 Civil Rights Act, which afforded citizenship to “all persons born in the United States and not subject to any foreign power.”  Although the subsequent ratification debates are not very comprehensive, one thing is quite clear: Everyone understood that the Fourteenth Amendment was at least designed to constitutionalize the 1866 Civil Rights Act, with the birthright citizenship caveat that one not be “subject to any foreign power."
We have to understand the 14th Amendment before we can defend it.
(Hat tip: Lisa Graas)

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Some Thoughts on Farah vs. Coulter

Regardless of where you stand on religion and homosexuality, Joseph Farah and World Net Daily have been peddling conspiratorial nonsense like Birtherism and the North American Union too long to be taken seriously by any conservative. Which is a pity, because he's actually got a point about the Right's current drift toward "materialistic libertarianism." The American Founding was neither materialistic nor libertarian.

To be sure, there are a small handful of voices here and there that would make America into a theocracy if they could, but those who want to push the Right too far in the other direction (pro-abortion, anti-marriage, etc.) are more numerous and influential - making excessive secularism a more potent and immediate threat than excessive religion.

It also may be that Ann Coulter is too trusting of GOProud and their motives - at CPAC, GOProud executive director Jimmy LaSalvia whined in front of the cameras about how the National Organization for Marriage people at CPAC treated GOProud nicely in person, but the next day issued a press release promising to oppose GOProud on pro-gay-marriage candidates. We didn't already know the two groups disagreed? We're supposed to assume that whoever was manning NOM's booth was the same person responsible for their press releases, and they were deliberately trying to mislead GOProud? Please. GOProud's not above attacking other members of the conservative coalition for the sake of grabbing headlines.

Further, LaSalvia calls redefining marriage a conservative position, when it's anything but. Whatever else the group may be, they're almost certainly trying to redefine conservatism to better fit their own agenda - a danger we shouldn't ignore.

That said, it's more than a little ridiculous to say that someone who has spent her entire career fighting for God, life, marriage, and family is suddenly a traitor to Christianity and social conservatism because of a single speech nobody's even heard yet. Don't those of you condemning Coulter think it's just a little premature to do so when you don't even know what she's going to say? For all we know, her speech might be about the relationship between conservatism and gay issues. And if there's anything we know about Ann Coulter, it's that she's not afraid to tell audiences things they don't want to hear.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

What Conservatism Tells Us About Gay Marriage: The Complete Argument

Because of the outrageous Prop. 8 decision and the muted reaction by Republican politicians and even certain conservative leaders, I thought it necessary to do my part here and on NewsReal to keep the Right on track and clarify that conservative first principles do not prescribe indifference to marriage.

Part 1 explores whether or not there is a natural or Constitutional "right" to legal recognition of same-sex marriage, and confronts the legitimacy of judicial activism.

Part 2 argues that a full understanding of the Founders' thought and conservative principles clearly establishes the protection of marriage as a conservative imperative, and that redefining marriage is a radical project that belongs on the Left.

Part 3 explores several strategies conservatives should adopt to protect marriage, including a conservative defense of amending the Constitution.

What Conservatism Tells Us About Gay Marriage, Part 3 (UPDATED)

Having established that defending marriage is an imperative for all who call themselves conservative, the only question left is how. It goes without saying that conservatives should pursue initiatives to define marriage as a monogamous man-woman union in their state constitutions, just as they should support the federal Defense of Marriage Act, which protects states from being forced to recognize marriages from other states.

Conservatives should also vigorously oppose judicial activism, by working to educate the American people on the original intent and plain meaning of the Constitution, fighting for candidates who will nominate and vote to confirm originalist judges, and applying intense pressure to politicians who even think about voting for judicial activists. Conservative presidents should use the bully pulpit of the presidency to condemn decisions that abuse or circumvent the Constitution.

But is there more that can be done to thwart judicial activism? In Men in Black, Dr. Mark Levin argues that there is. He notes that Article III of the Constitution gives Congress the power to place some limits on the jurisdiction of courts, and that Article II gives Congress the power to impeach "all civil officers of the United States." While useful, Levin doubts that these tools will be sufficient to effect a lasting solution to the problem. Instead, he suggests amending the Constitution to limit judges to fixed terms of office:
[S]itting judges and justices could be renominated and subject to a new confirmation process. This way, outstanding jurists could remain on the bench for a lifetime, pending congressional approval. And clearly defined terms of office would limit the influence of any single Congress in controlling the ideological bent of the Court. These changes would add accountability to the federal bench.
Levin also suggests a second amendment:
The most meaningful step Congress could take would be a constitutional amendment limiting the Supreme Court's judicial review power by establishing a legislative veto over Court decisions - perhaps a two-thirds vote of both houses. The rationale is the same one the framers used when creating the congressional override of a presidential veto as a check on the president's power. The framers worried that a president might amass too much authority. Today, the problem is an oligarchical Court, not a presidential monarchy, supplanting the constitutional authority of the other branches.
Indeed, perhaps the only major error the authors of the Constitution made was, in their desire to set the judiciary apart from the more overtly political branches of government, not placing any major checks on the judiciary comparable to the checks on the other two branches. While there's certainly room to debate the details of these amendments, it seems clear that conservatives should support constitutional reforms to more fully realize their vision of a limited, constitutional republic safeguarded by an evenly-balanced separation of powers.

Lastly, there's the matter of amending the Constitution to directly address marriage. Such an amendment could take one of two forms: either specifically protecting the right of states to set marriage policy regardless of what courts or other states do (essentially making DOMA ironclad), or simply defining marriage as a monogamous man-woman union in all fifty states. Because the first simply protects states' rights and curtails judicial activism, there shouldn't be much controversy on the Right about whether or not it's worth supporting.

The second, however, is more contentious, because it defines marriage for the states, allegedly undermining our commitment to federalism. While this concern is well-intentioned and springs from genuine conservative principles, it shouldn't prevent conservatives from supporting this amendment. For one thing, the principle of federalism isn't unlimited - Article I, Section 10 places quite a few restrictions on states:
No state shall enter into any treaty, alliance, or confederation; grant letters of marque and reprisal; coin money; emit bills of credit; make anything but gold and silver coin a tender in payment of debts; pass any bill of attainder, ex post facto law, or law impairing the obligation of contracts, or grant any title of nobility.

No state shall, without the consent of the Congress, lay any imposts or duties on imports or exports, except what may be absolutely necessary for executing it's inspection laws: and the net produce of all duties and imposts, laid by any state on imports or exports, shall be for the use of the treasury of the United States; and all such laws shall be subject to the revision and control of the Congress.

No state shall, without the consent of Congress, lay any duty of tonnage, keep troops, or ships of war in time of peace, enter into any agreement or compact with another state, or with a foreign power, or engage in war, unless actually invaded, or in such imminent danger as will not admit of delay.
Article IV, Section 3 forbids states from forming new states within their own borders, or combining with other states into new states, Section 4 says that every state must have "a republican form of government," and Article VI forbids "any office or public trust under the United States" from requiring a religious test for eligibility. And of the twenty-seven amendments to the Constitution thus far, many place further restrictions on what states can and cannot do. As long as we do so lawfully (i.e., by amending the Constitution), there's nothing preventing us from settling certain issues federally if they're determined to be important enough.

As a practical matter, most of the states want to protect traditional marriage and the amendment process asks for the approval of a supermajority of states anyway, so enacting a Federal Marriage Amendment would still respect the will of the people and give the states a voice in the decision. The burden placed on states would hardly be an onerous one - in forbidding states from granting marriage licenses to same-sex couples, it would still allow states to determine what requirements and benefits civil marriage entails within their borders. And given how important the Founders thought marriage was to the character of the entire nation, it's certainly reasonable to deem the fundamentals of marriage important enough to enshrine in the Constitution.

Besides, as important as theory is, in reality these decisions are not made in a vacuum. We're grappling with these questions in a world where judges are usurping the law to destroy marriage and make policy decisions for us. William F. Buckley certainly understood:
We are reaping a whirlwind, and direct intervention in the holy tabernacle of the United States Constitution is eminently justified. Either that, or we will simply be surrendering the evolution of the law into the hands of the judiciary. An interesting argument could be made to the effect that rule by justices might be an improvement on rule by congressmen and state legislators. Of course we are not attempting to make any such reassignment of power when we balk at a constitutional amendment, though in fact we are.

There is nothing in sight, given the decision of the Massachusetts court, and the decision of the U.S. Supreme Court last June overturning the Texas sodomy law, to curb the evolution of "marriage" to signify simply an affectionate relationship between two or more people, with cross commitments of one kind or another. The rules for entering into such a union — man-man, woman-woman, widowed sisters, father and son — might differ here and there, so long as those differences were not held to violate the equal-protection clause of the Constitution, or other of its provisions. In the absence of an amendment, the fight is simply abandoned, and Darwinian mutations are, if not exactly encouraged, nevertheless indulged.

To argue that a constitutional amendment is radical, while acquiescence in the anarchy of the Massachusetts court is less than that, staggers the mind. It has become easier to amend the Sermon on the Mount than the Constitution, and it is strange and awful that passivity is urged in a republic of free people.
When the alternative is marriage's destruction and submission to the rule of judicial oligarchy, the choice is clear: conservatives shouldn't hesitate to support either amendment.

UPDATE: Here are two great essays on the subject of federalism and gay marriage - one from Stanley Kurtz in National Review, and another from Edwin Meese & Matthew Spalding in the Wall Street Journal.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The Ground Zero Mosque Controversy Isn't About "Wisdom"

There's one point about Barack Obama's equivocating on the Ground Zero mosque I haven't heard anyone make: by proclaiming that he won't opine on the "wisdom" of building the mosque, he's disingenuously suggesting the mosque's organizers are simply well-meaning folks who don't know what the big deal is. That, of course, ignores the known extremism of Feisal Abdul Rauf.

Rauf isn't "unwise." He knows exactly what he's doing: marking a site of Islamic victory. And our president either can't be bothered to familiarize himself with the facts of situations before opining, or he simply doesn't care. Neither is the mark of a leader.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

How to Revive Prop. 8? Do It Again

Martin Knight at RedState suggests that marriage defenders in California not put too much faith in the judicial appeal process to save Proposition 8, and advises a different course of action:
My recommendation, unless otherwise prevented by the California Constitution is for marriage proponents to mount up another campaign to get another Amendment proposition on the ballot as soon as possible before Perry v. Schwarzenegger makes its way to the Supreme Court.

This time, they should word the Amendment specifically to address Judge Walker’s “findings of fact.” Most especially his “finding of fact” that basically declares that children have no bearing on the institution of marriage.

As I’ve maintained over and over on RedState, the only way a court can mandate a states to recognize same-sex marriages is by discounting the central role children play as the raison d’etre of institution i.e. to tie a man to his offspring and their mother to provide the most stable and sustaining environment in which to raise them. The fact is that the decoupling of procreation with marriage within many inner city communities is perhaps the primary cause of the devastation one finds there.

Ultimately though, once the role of children is discounted, there is simply no valid reason why any state would refuse an incestuous couple i.e. brother-sister, mother-son, father-daughter, father-son, sister-sister, mother-daughter, etc. who are both consenting adults a marriage license.

I therefore recommend marriage proponents in California quickly get another Proposition on the ballot and this time make sure to add the provision against incest, and an explicit whereas statement [...] I submit that it would be one hell of a task for any judge to claim that children are irrelevant to marriage so gays should be allowed to marry while siblings should not be allowed to marry because their children could have genetic abnormalities.

Another twist of the Gordian Knot would be that the judge would be forced by necessity to address the issue of same-sex siblings who want to marry. They cannot have children so there is no reason to deny them a marriage license - which incidentally would bump up against the 14th Amendment.
Good idea. Regardless of how right he is on the details, conservatives should absolutely know better than to put all their hopes in a single strategy. We have to fight this on multiple fronts: judicial, constitutionally in California, and yes, constitutionally at the federal level.

Radical Reading in Education, Part 2

Tonight Glenn Beck alerted his audience to the fact that the problem isn't limited to Fondy - it turns out the National Education Association's website has a page recommending the works of an author "widely recognized as the father of, and pre-imminent expert in, grassroots organizing" - Saul Alinsky.

Yeah, that guy.

Paging John Boehner, Jim DeMint, Paul Ryan, Michelle Bachmann...any of you feel like maybe trying to do something about this sort of thing for once?

Around the Web

At NewsReal, David Swindle asks the disaster-in-chief a darn good question about Islam.

Fox News's usually-apolitical Dr. Manny Alvarez calls out Dingy Harry on Democrat racial profiling.

More on Prop. 8: Professor Nelson Lund has a good summary of the issue, while Father Roger Landry highlights Vaughn Walker's ideology and the potential threat to religious liberty in his decision. And has Walker been buttering up Anthony Kennedy all along?

Did...did Connecticut Republicans really just choose the candidate from the WWE to run against a phony Vietnam vet when they had a real Vietnam vet to choose from? Why?

Another Palin hater isn't quite what she appeared to be. (Hat tip: Ann Coulter)

Gee, what a surprise.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

What Have Other Courts Said About State Marriage Protection? UPDATED

For what it's worth, many courts would have upheld Proposition 8:

New York Court of Appeals? Upheld in New York:  
The majority decision, written by Judge Robert S. Smith, who was appointed by Gov. George Pataki, found that limiting marriage to opposite-sex couples could be based on rational social goals, primarily the protection and welfare of children. “Plaintiffs have not persuaded us that this long-accepted restriction is a wholly irrational one, based solely on ignorance and prejudice against homosexuals,” Judge Smith wrote in his 22-page opinion. For example, he wrote, it could be argued that children benefit from being raised by two natural parents, a mother and a father, rather than by gay or lesbian couples.
US 8th Circuit Appeals Court? Upheld in Nebraska:  
Loken noted “historical fact – the institution of marriage has always been in our federal system, the predominant concern of state government. … This necessarily includes the power to classify those persons who may validly marry.” Citing the recent decision of the New York Court of Appeals, the circuit court found two justifications for Nebraska’s marriage law. First, it noted that the state had a legitimate interest in inducing opposite-sex couples, who could unintentionally bear children, into stable relationships. Second, the state could base its law on the traditional notion that children do best when raised by two parents of the opposite sex. The court found that both these interests were rationally related to Nebraska’s constitutional amendment. The court also rejected the plaintiffs’ claim that this case was controlled by the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Romer v. Evans. Romer involved a state constitutional amendment that invalidated certain local ordinances prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. The Romer Court held that the amendment was not rationally related to a legitimate state interest, but was clearly the result of “animus.” 
Maryland Court of Appeals? Upheld in Maryland:
In an opinion signed by four judges, Judge Glenn T. Harrell Jr., citing a Supreme Court holding on judicial restraint, wrote that, absent evidence of discrimination, “judicial intervention is generally unwarranted no matter how unwisely we may think a political branch has acted. In declaring that the State’s legitimate interests in fostering procreation and encouraging the traditional family structures in which children are born are related reasonably to the means employed by [the law banning same-sex marriage], our opinion should by no means be read to imply that the General Assembly may not grant and recognize for homosexual persons civil unions or the reasons,” wrote Harrell, who is retired from the court but participated in the decision because he was a member when the case was argued.
California Supreme Court? Upheld before Walker:
California’s historic 2008 ruling, written by Chief Justice Ronald George, repeatedly invoked the words “respect and dignity” and framed the marriage question as one that deeply affected not just couples but also their children. California has more than 100,000 households headed by gay couples, about a quarter with children, according to 2000 census data.
(For what it’s worth, the LA Times notes that “Gay rights lawyers had no solid legal precedent on their side, and some of the court’s earlier holdings on constitutional revisions mildly undercut their arguments.”)

Washington Supreme Court? Upheld in Washington:
Johnson wrote that the Legislature had “a compelling governmental interest in preserving the institution of marriage, as well as the healthy families and children it promotes. This conclusion may not be changed by mere passage of time or currents of public favor and surely not changed by courts.”
UPDATE: The Institute for Marriage and Public Policy has a new report on this very subject [PDF link].

These Dogs Don't Hunt

This week I found myself in the middle of a fight between conservative media blog Johnny Dollar's Place and liberal smear blog NewsHounds, with NewsHound Priscilla falsely claiming that a Johnny Dollar contributor plagiarized something I wrote for NewsReal back in May. Predictably, the smear turned out to be bogus - you can see my rundown on NRB here, to which Johnny kindly links here.

It seems Priscilla has gone into damage control mode:
[W]hile "Blackflon" did explain the origin of the quote on his original comment with Mr. Freiburger's quote, that doesn't excuse him from not using quotes in subsequent comments. 
So now the charge is reduced from plagiarism to merely being too lax in listing one's sources. I guess this is the closest Priscilla will come to admitting that Blackfon wasn't deliberately passing off my work as his own. And I'm sure our Arbiter of Blogosphere Commenting Etiquette holds her own commenters to such rigorous standards...right?
Surely, if Mr. Freiburger writes a term paper on - say - Shakespeare and, after using a quote from one of the plays, does not use quotation marks in subsequent use of the quote, his professor might not be pleased.'s not an academic paper. It's a BLOG COMMENT SECTION. Where people go for informal, impromptu discussion of political issues. I knew she was petty, but
And if Mr. Freiburger thinks that I'm going to waste my time responding to his original charges, he's "barking up the wrong tree." All I will say is that I stand by my original contention that Sean Hannity is a racist and that Mr. Freiburger's defense of said racism suggests that he too might harbor the same sentiments. 
In other words, she doesn't care that she writes demonstrable, vicious lies about people, and if I notice, that probably makes me a racist too. I think this says all we need to know about NewsHounds' credibility. Thanks, Priscilla!
Mr. Feiburger, a student at Hillsdale College, needs to realize that he's just a right wing blogger - in the same sense that I'm, as he calls me, a lefty blogger. He really is overinflated with his sense of self-importance.
If criticizing someone for defaming people is a sign of "self-importance," then how self-important must the original act of defamation be? And wait! Now it's "just" the blogosphere? I thought that a minute ago, even individual blog comments had to be held to the rigor of college term papers...

Ah, leftist demagogues...the gifts that keep on giving.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Ted Stevens, RIP

It's apparently been confirmed that former US Senator Ted Stevens, Republican of Alaska, has been killed in a plane crash. The news must have been a nightmare for his family; keep Stevens and his loved ones in your thoughts and prayers.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Flashback: A Hill to Die On

Don't take my word for it that conservative opponents of standing for marriage - yes, even David Horowitz - are terribly, dangerously wrong. Last April, Robert Stacy McCain penned a must-read American Spectator column on why surrender is not an option:
Grant the radicals everything they demand today, and tomorrow they will return with new demands that they insist are urgently necessary to satisfy the requirements of social justice.

When they refer to themselves as "progressives," radicals express their own basic truth: Their method of operation is always to move steadily forward, seeking a progressive series of victories, each new gain exploited to lay the groundwork for the next advance, as the opposition progressively yields terrain. Such is the remorseless aggression of radicalism that conservatives forever find themselves contemplating the latest "progressive" demand and asking, "Is this a hill worth dying on?"

My own instinct is always to answer, "Hell, yes." Nothing succeeds like success and nothing fails like failure. Ergo, to defeat the radicals in their latest crusade (whatever the crusade may be) is to demoralize and weaken their side, and to embolden and encourage our side. Even to fight and lose is better than conceding without a fight because, after all, give 'em an inch and they'll take a mile.

This explains much about why I disagree with some conservatives who say we should not expend much effort defending traditional marriage against the gay-rights insurgency.

Some conservatives are wholly persuaded by the arguments of same-sex marriage advocates. Others, however, are merely unprincipled cowards and defeatists. Concerned about maintaining their intellectual prestige, some elitists on the Right do not wish to associate themselves with Bible-thumping evangelicals. Or, disparaging the likelihood of successful opposition, they advocate pre-emptive surrender rather than waging a fight that will put conservatism on the losing side of the issue.

Yet if the defense of traditional marriage -- an ancient and honorable institution -- is not a "hill worth dying on," what is? In every ballot-box fight to date, voters have supported the one-man, one-woman definition of marriage. As indicated by exit polls in California last fall, this is one issue where the conservative position is widely endorsed by black and Latino voters. Should such a potentially promising political development be abandoned?
Stacy goes on to expose the seeds of gay marriage in the radical feminism of the 1970s, which sought to confuse gender equality with gender sameness, and point out that the conservatives of the era, busy with the fight against Communism, largely dismissed it as a mere social-issues distraction, thereby allowing themselves to be distracted from the Left's designs...a mistake, I fear, much of the Right is repeating with Islam.

It Begins: Republicans Running Away from Marriage

Speaking of Republicans being their own worst enemies...

Needless to say, I couldn't agree less with Doug Mataconis and the Republican leaders to which he refers:
Certainly, there are areas of the country where taking a strong stand on gay marriage won’t hurt, and very likely could help, a Republican candidate. For the most part, though, it’s fairly clear that this year’s electorate is focusing on the economy and jobs, not whether or not the two guys in Apartment 3B can get a marriage license or not. If the GOP is smart, which is I admit an unanswered question, they’ll keep quiet on this and let the case make it’s way through the Courts.
Problem Number One: I don't think this is a losing issue. Though the poll numbers are narrowing, many still show majorities opposed to redefining marriage. And as I said yesterday, 4/5 of the states have marriage protection legislation either on the books or in their constitutions. And this is all with national Republicans virtually silent on the issue. (And it's not for nothing that Barack Obama won't endorse same-sex marriage...) Especially considering the fact that the political winds are turning against the idea of the elite few telling states what to do, it's high time our leaders tried their hand at, well, leading public opinion instead of following it for a change.

Problem Number Two: The post is all about strategy; no mention is made of principle. If Proposition 8 is an judicial affront to the rule of law, and if redefining marriage is fundamentally wrong, isn't it worth some degree of political risk to say so? Doesn't our political parties owe anything to the public good?

Friday, August 6, 2010

Defending Marriage: What Comes Next?

With another judge attacking marriage in California, the next question is where we go from here. Higher courts will review the decision, of course, but whatever they decide, you can be sure the legal challenges to state marriage definitions will keep coming. It's difficult to see how true marriage and the will of the people can be secure without a constitutional amendment of some sort, whether it's an outright national definition of marriage or a man-woman union or simply language revoking the judiciary's right to address the matter.

How plausible is either scenario? More so than you might think. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 41 states currently preserve marriage legislatively, and 30 have put it directly in their constitutions. So public support is already a good chunk of the way to the 38-state threshold that would be necessary to ratify an amendment to the Constitution, and an increased perception that the courts won’t let the people make their own decisions (which may be fueled not only by this, but also by the feds suing Arizona and potential copycats, as well as legal battles over individual healthcare mandates) could be enough to push them the rest of the way.

Ironically, the biggest wild card I see is the likelihood of the Republican establishment running away from the issue out of perceived political expediency. We can always count on the GOP to pull defeat from the jaws of victory...

Why Do People Believe Irrational, Simplistic Things?

And why are they so insistent upon holding on to those things in the face of clear evidence to the contrary?

It's actually not as surprising as it might seem at first. I think conspiracy theorists and fringe types are often motivated by the same thing: humans are naturally tempted to seek simple answers to complex questions. We want to solve our problems in as few steps as possible, and it can be hard to acknowledge that life just doesn’t work that way. It’s comforting to

Birthers hate Barack Obama so much that they succumb to fantasies about a way to remove him from office that’s supposedly easier and can be achieved earlier than defeating him electorally in 2012.

The same goes for those who insist that George W. Bush stole Florida in 2000.

9/11 Truthers can’t bring themselves to imagine that a series of events ultimately rooted in government incompetence and human error could have allowed a handful of people from what they see as a drastically inferior part of the world to carry out such a horror on their own.

Isolationists seek a quick and easy fix to international dangers like Islamic radicalism. If we don’t have a presence over there, they won’t want to bother us here. (Iraq & Afghanistan are separate issues: to these guys, the wrath of the entire Middle East can hinge upon the presence of but a single US military base on foreign soil.)

The more dogmatic libertarians simplistically assert that society will be near-perfect as long as we let the government do virtually nothing, because they see government as the source of all social illness. While they’ve got a strong case that the private sector will generally be more effective than public, they hurt both by overselling the former and underselling the latter.

And progressives seek to legislate social ills like racism and poverty out of existence. They can’t admit that information is too dispersed, and that human behavior isn’t malleable enough, to make centralized government solutions work, or that there are always behavioral and psychological factors at play that public policy can’t always alleviate – and in fact, can often make worse.

These tendencies are annoying, frustrating, and counterproductive, but they're also natural. Humanity will never be fully rid of them, so their mere existence is hardly worth freaking out over. The real issue is whether or not the mainstream indulges or embraces the fringe - and one side has a much better record in that regard than the other.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Tyrannical Judicial Malpractice in California

A federal judge has ruled California's Proposition 8, which maintains the definition of marriage as a man-woman union, unconstitutional. I have a post condemning the ruling slated to be published on NewsReal later today (UPDATED: here's the link); in the meantime, National Review has some must-read analysis on the decision.

Ed Whelan on Judge Vaughn Walker's bias:

From the outset, Walker’s entire course of conduct in the anti-Prop 8 case has reflected a manifest design to turn the lawsuit into a high-profile, culture-transforming, history-making, Scopes-style show trial of Prop 8’s sponsors. Consider his series of controversial — and, in many instances, unprecedented — decisions:

Take, for example, Walker’s resort to procedural shenanigans and outright illegality in support of his fervent desire to broadcast the trial, in utter disregard of (if not affirmatively welcoming) the harassment and abuse that pro–Prop 8 witnesses would reasonably anticipate. Walker’s decision was ultimately blocked by an extraordinary (and fully warranted) stay order by the Supreme Court in an opinion that was plainly a stinging rebuke of Walker’s lack of impartiality.

Take Walker’s failure to decide the case, one way or the other (as other courts have done in similar cases), as a matter of law and his concocting of supposed factual issues to be decided at trial. 
Take the incredibly intrusive discovery, grossly underprotective of First Amendment associational rights, that Walker authorized into the internal communications of the Prop 8 sponsors — a ruling overturned, in part, by an extraordinary writ of mandamus issued by a Ninth Circuit panel consisting entirely of Clinton appointees.

Take Walker’s insane and unworkable inquiry into the subjective motivations of the more than 7 million Californians who voted in support of Prop 8.  

The NRO Editors:

What Walker did not prepare us for is the jaw-dropping experience of reading his sophomorically reasoned opinion. Of the 135 pages of the opinion proper, only the last 27 contain anything resembling a legal argument, while the rest is about equally divided between a summary of the trial proceedings and the judge’s “findings of fact.” The conclusions of law seem but an afterthought — conclusory, almost casually thin, raising more questions than they answer. On what grounds does Judge Walker hold that the considered moral judgment of the whole history of human civilization — that only men and women are capable of marrying each other — is nothing but a “private moral view” that provides no conceivable “rational basis” for legislation? Who can tell? Judge Walker’s smearing of the majority of Californians as irrational bigots blindly clinging to mere tradition suggests that he has run out of arguments and has nothing left but his reflexes.

But the deeper game Judge Walker is playing unfolds in those many pages of “fact finding” that make up the large middle of his ruling. There, through highly prejudicial language that bears little relation to any fact, the judge has smuggled in his own moral sentiments — in precisely the part of his opinion that would normally be owed a large measure of deference in the appellate courts. To take one example: It is hardly an incontrovertible fact that “Proposition 8 places the force of law behind stigmas against gays and lesbians.”  But there it is, as finding No. 58. With “facts” like these, and appellate judges disinclined to question them, Judge Walker plainly hopes to propel this case toward a gay-marriage victory, regardless of how transparently weak his legal conclusions are. 

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Back to Birthers

Lefties are caterwauling about a new poll that purports to show that a quarter of Americans think Obama wasn't born in the US. Some thoughts:

A.) The last time you guys sounded the alarm on a poll purporting to show insanity on the Right, it turned out to be bogus.

B.) If anyone thinks the Right is egging the Birthers on, he’ll have to square that theory with the fact that the list of conservative and Republican voices which rejects Birthrism includes, but is not limited to:

- RNC Chair Michael Steele
- National Review
- Human Events
- American Spectator
- Glenn Beck
- Michelle Malkin
- Ann Coulter
- Andrew Breitbart & others at his websites

In other words, anybody who’s anybody on the Right. Do I wish these morons would shut up and go the heck away? Of course. But the Right as a whole has done everything it can fairly be expected to do to stand against them…

C.) …which is more than your side can say about Michael Moore, whose lies about the Bush Administration were just as bad (arguably worse), yet the Democratic establishment embraced his film wholeheartedly?

D.) Where was your hand-wringing in 2006, when a poll showed that 1/3 of Americans thought the federal government was complicit in the 9/11 attacks?

E.) Gee, I guess disgruntled Hillary supporters shouldn’t have started this Birther nonsense, should they have?

Leftist Condescension on Full Display

From an anonymous conservative-hating commenter on Boots & Sabers:
The more the lowly fireman talks about his job / life, the more I feel sorry for him.  24 hour shifts…lack of an education…terrible working conditions…I truly wish things worked out differently for you.  Unfortunately, or fortunately for the rest of us, we do need people to take those jobs.  Thanks for the sacrifice. 

Conservatism vs. Liberalism

In the continuing battle over Scott Feldstein's political character assassination masquerading as thought, Boots & Sabers commenter A Son of Liberty has provided this effective summary of liberalism's folly, and how conservatism answers it:

Liberals have politics that are often based on feeling while conservatives base their beliefs on the reality of the situation. If you are naive in regard to the results of the policies you support, then of course you feel that the folks who point out the problems will seem mean to you.

Welfare, food stamps, public housing, free health care… all programs that are the backbone of the modern liberal social net. It just feels good to vote for them and then sit back with a smug feeling that you have helped the poor… you’ve made things better and punished those bad rich people at the same time. After all, they don’t deserve the wealth… the poor gave it to them… you are just doing what is right. Yay.

The problem there is that the cradle to grave care that you so generously offer from the pockets of others has turned into a new king of slavery… slavery of the spirit. People have the basics of life… but there is no way to climb out of the nest. Get a job and we cut you off…. why work for the same pay that you get for free? That system has resulted in millions of citizens who have no connection to the concept of self sufficiency and the pride that comes from paying your own way and working to better yourself. Families were also attacked through the liberal application of policies that penalized families with two parents. Ridiculous? Yes, but it was all done with the best intentions.

Modern slavery put people in a position that they see no hope of working their way out of. Politicians, teachers, media, neighbors… everyone points out that they can never get ahead… so they don’t. Some of our inner city kids actually believe that education is a bad thing…. it marks you as one of “them” ... it’s actually looked down upon by some groups. Ridiculous? Yes, but it’s a natural human instinct to justify your actions… and so they do. I can’t get ahead because “they” won’t let me. I’m poor, black, Hispanic, female, a single mom… insert whatever class of victim you like into the excuse matrix…. the result is the same. Generational slavery on the governments farm… at the hands of people who claim to want to help you.

Learned helplessness legislated and enforced by the state.

Yeah, that is what being naive got us…. and then, to protect the system, the power brokers have labeled the realists as uncaring, hateful, racist, sexist, bigoted ... whatever works to maintain the system.

That is where Scott’s original definition of conservative traces it’s etymology… and that is why we are so offended by the malicious character assassination contained within. No more dancing around the truth.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Important Announcement

Apparently there exists a comic book in which Abraham Lincoln travels through time and battles a super-powered Adolf Hitler atop Mount Rushmore. Behold:

Wow. I knew he was a great president (and vampire hunter),

Abortion and Silencing Dissent: Two "Great" Tastes That Taste "Great" Together

From EWTN:
A Northwestern University graduate student in chemistry became the first to be arrested under a new Chicago “bubble zone” law after he prayed the Rosary on a public sidewalk outside a Planned Parenthood abortion clinic. His attorney contends the arrest seemed to be part of a “pattern of intimidating conduct” against pro-lifers.

Joseph Holland, 25, was charged with disorderly conduct under a 2009 law that says a person cannot approach within eight feet of another without their consent within 50 feet of any health care facility "for the purpose of passing a leaflet or handbill to, displaying a sign to, or engaging in oral protest, education or counseling."

The law also bars intentional interference with any person entering or leaving any health care facility.
Holland said he did not approach or interfere with anyone on July 3, when he was arrested at the Near North Planned Parenthood facility. He reported that he was standing by the building praying the Rosary when a Planned Parenthood volunteer approached him and started yelling that he needed to move eight feet away.

Chicago police spokesman Roderick Drew told Fox News that according to the police report Holland "stood within an inch of the victim, prayed out loud at a high volume for over 10 minutes." He allegedly refused two requests to move and “continued to block customer access” after being asked to clear the entrance by the person in charge of the facility.
Free speech? Naahh...There's nothing the Left hates more than the possibility that somebody might inform women about the choice they make - as a debate I've been having with a truly despicable NewsReal commenter named Aspacia here and here makes clear, abortionism thrives on ignorance. That's the truth, no matter how many of its apologists dishonestly claim the mantle of reason for themselves.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Lawless Congress

Via Hot Air, here's Rep. Pete Stark (D-CA) claiming that there are virtually no limits on Congress's power:

Ed Morrissey says that "Republicans in every district should play this clip and demand an answer from incumbent Democrats who voted for ObamaCare." Indeed. Pete Stark's understanding of government is nothing short of despotic, and he's not the only one. Every member of his party needs to be challenged on their how they expect to preserve liberty in a nation without limits on government...or if they even care.
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