Did Obama threaten state governors?

March 10, 2014
Not likely to be bullied.

Not likely to be bullied.

Via Moe Lane, that’s sure what it sounds like in the video below. Rick Perry of Texas was speaking as part of a panel at the Republican Governors Association late last February; the group had had a meeting (1) with President Obama, and what he told them left Governor Perry disturbed. Here’s the video, followed by a transcript.

“When you have governors, and we all compete against each other — we are the laboratories of innovation — and for the President of the United States to look Democrat and Republican governors in the eye and say, ‘I do not trust you to make decisions in your state about issues of education, about transportation infrastructure,’ — and that is really troubling,” he said.


Perry expressed his own fears regarding Environmental Protection Agency restrictions choking off America’s energy production and a possible reduction in his state’s national guard.

“As a matter of fact, he [Obama] said at that meeting, he said, ‘If I hear any of you pushing back, making statements about Washington spends too much money, you’ll hear from me,” he said, adding, “I’m highly offended by that.”

Obama takes everything personally, doesn’t he? Criticize him or oppose his policies as part of the normal give and take of politics, and to him it’s a personal affront. And, if you offend him, perhaps by speaking out on behalf of the people of your state, by God you’re going to hear from Obama, himself!

That is the mark of a thin-skinned, petty personality. A punk. And weren’t the Democrats supposed to be against “bullying?”

It’s also telling about how he sees the governors: not as fellow heads of state and government, with their own experiences and perspectives to draw on (2), but as errand boys. It’s how someone who grew up in the Chicago thugocracy works. “Federalism? Just shut up and do what you’re told – or else.”

Perry’s remarks about the threat to the state national guards are well-taken, too; not only do the guard units provide invaluable reserves of skills, knowledge, and talent to fill out the military in wartime, but governors rely on their guard units to deal with all sorts of emergencies, from riots to disaster relief.

Seems to me Governor Perry and his colleagues were right to be perturbed.

Footnotes:
(1) I think this was the same meeting after which Louisiana Governor Jindal and Connecticut Governor Malloy went after each other a bit.
(2) Many of whom had far more executive experience prior to taking office and far better records of accomplishment in office than a certain president I can think of.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Instead of a Government-Guaranteed Income, How About a Practical Plan to End the Washington Welfare State?

December 20, 2013

Phineas Fahrquar:

Hmmm… Block-granting the entire welfare state to the states to allocate as they need, then gradually eliminating it — a federalist approach. I like it.

Originally posted on International Liberty:

The welfare state is a nightmare.

Programs such as Medicaid are fiscal catastrophes. The food stamp program is riddled with waste. The EITC is easily defrauded, even sending checks to prisoners. And housing subsidies are a recipe for the worst forms of social engineering.

The entire system should be tossed in the trash.

But what’s the alternative? Some libertarians argue that we should eliminate the dozens of Washington programs and replace them with a government-guaranteed minimum income. I address this issue in an essay for Libertarianism.org.

Some libertarians argue that the state should provide a minimum basic income, mainly because this approach would be preferable to the costly and bureaucratic amalgamation of redistribution programs that currently exist. It’s hard to disagree with the notion that the current system is a failure. The Cato Institute’s Michael Tanner has produced a searing indictment of the modern welfare…

View original 702 more words


Secession? No, try federalism

November 20, 2012

In the wake of the presidential election earlier this month, a lot of people expressed their disappointment with the results by submitting petitions for secession at the White House web site. Petitions were received from all 50 states, and there were several counter-petitions from progressives urging the government to let them go.

To be honest, and even though I signed South Carolina’s to support my friend Gay Patriot, I looked at these as just blowing off steam after a disappointing election loss, just as liberals fantasized about secession in 2004. I didn’t and don’t take them seriously.

My mistake, in at least one respect. As Prof. Glenn Reynolds points out in an op-ed in USA Today, petitions such as these and more serious secession movements in Scotland, Catalonia, and elsewhere arise from anger at a central government from which they feel alienated for various reasons. While the petitions themselves may not be serious, the resentment and irritation caused by being forced to obey one-size-fits-all laws you hate is very real. And, if left to fester, it can lead to more serious problems.

What’s the answer, if secession isn’t it? Reynolds looks back to the handiwork of a very smart group of men who came up with a solution suited to a large, diverse republic, and suggests we give federalism a try:

So what’s a solution? Let the central government do the things that only central governments can do — national defense, regulation of trade to keep the provinces from engaging in economic warfare with one another, protection of basic civil rights — and then let the provinces go their own way in most other issues. Don’t like the way things are run where you are? Move to a province that’s more to your taste. Meanwhile, approaches that work in individual provinces can, after some experimentation, be adopted by the central government, thus lowering the risk of adopting untested policies at the national level. You get the benefits of secession without seceding.

Sound good? It should. It’s called federalism (1), and it’s the approach chosen by the United States when it adopted the Constitution in 1789. As James Madison wrote in Federalist No. 45, “The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the federal government, are few and defined. Those which are to remain in the State governments are numerous and indefinite. The former will be exercised principally on external objects, as war, peace, negotiation, and foreign commerce; with which last the power of taxation will, for the most part, be connected. The powers reserved to the several States will extend to all the objects which, in the ordinary course of affairs, concern the lives, liberties, and properties of the people, and the internal order, improvement, and prosperity of the State.”

Surely Reynolds wrote this with a wink and a smile, for federalism is the way were are supposed to operate, and our problems have grown as the federal government has usurped more and more of the states’ proper role, turning gradually from a government of limited powers to Leviathan. Consider it another way: the more the federal government tries to do everything, the less it can do anything well.  The national economy and health care systems are too large and too diverse, and there’s too much information coming in, for them to be directed top-down by a few hundred (or even a few thousand) pols and bureaucrats in D.C. The needs of people differ in various parts of the country, and the resources needed to even try to manage everything nationally wind up being diverted from those things only the federal government can do well, such as national security.

The solution, as Reynolds writes, is to recognize those spheres of competence and respect them, something that’s happened less and less since the progressive era. This isn’t to say that the enumerated powers of Article 1, Section 8 are the end all and be all; the Founders themselves recognized that the Constitution would sometimes need amending (2) –including granting the federal government more power– and put in place procedures for doing just that. It’s through ignoring those limits and procedures that we’ve reached a point whereat so many think, with some justification, that the United States Government is becoming a threat to their liberty and prosperity.

Change won’t be easy, and the genie of the progressive administrative state probably can’t ever be wholly put back in the bottle. But for the health of our body politic we have to keep trying.

Footnotes:
(1) Also “states’ rights,” but that term was forever tainted thanks to defenders of slavery and Jim Crow hiding behind it, back in the day.
(2) And I do think several are needed to deal with the progressive-statist tendency to grab more and more power. Professor Randy Barnett’s Bill of Federalism is a great starting point for discussion. Oddly enough, in the wake of their defeat in 2004, progressives themselves were arguing for federalism. Bipartisanship!

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


October 12, 2012

Phineas Fahrquar:

This looks like a reasonable solution that has the benefit of respecting our federalist traditions, while stabilizing Medicare.

Originally posted on International Liberty:

This election season has seen lots of talk (and demagoguery) about whether investors, entrepreneurs, and small business owners should be hit with class-warfare tax policy.

And there’s also been lots of sturm and drang about the best way of averting bankruptcy for Medicare, which is the federal government’s health care program for the elderly.

But there’s been surprisingly little discussion so far about the issue of Medicaid, which is the federal government’s health program for poor people.

I’m not prone to optimism, but I can’t help but wonder if this is because even statists grudgingly accept that the program needs to be reformed.

If so, the right approach is block-granting the program back to the states. Here’s some of what Paul Howard and Russell Sykes had to say about the issue in the Wall Street Journal.

Medicaid, America’s safety-net program for more than 62 million low-income uninsured…

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The view from Britain: comparing two constitutions, and our coming choice

September 5, 2011

While writing about the frightening proposal by former German Chancellor (1) Gerhard Schroeder for a fully-formed “United States of Europe,” the Telegraph’s James Delingpole made an astute observation about the differences between the United States Constitution and the European Union’s governing document:

In the US, they have a Constitution (one which the current administration would prefer to ignore, but still) which explicitly guarantees the constituent states in the Union the right to forge their own destiny. They can set their own local tax rates, their own speed limits, their position on social issues such as abortion, gay marriage, and marijuana consumption, and so on. This Constitution is what has made America great and Americans so free: and the two things are very much connected. When, for example, one state falls prey to rampant big government (eg California), there will always be other states offering a different sociopolitical model (eg Texas) – thus enabling free citizens of the Republic to vote with their feet. They will gravitate towards the model which best serves their needs – thus endorsing it – while fleeing the model they find less attractive, thus discrediting it. In this way bad political ideas cannot so easily take root in the US. Not at least so long as the Constitution is respected.

In the European Union, however, the Constitution serves exactly the opposite purpose. It is designed to give the constituent states as little freedom as possible to decide their own destinies; all decisions are deferred upwards to the controlling central authority; and when member states make the “wrong” decision, the EU superpower simply goes ahead and does what it wants regardless.

To give an example of this top-down control, the Library of the House of Commons in the UK estimates that fully half of Britain’s laws come, not from the democratically elected Parliament in London, but as directives handed down by the unelected bureaucracy in Brussels. Schroeder’s proposal, rather than creating a “more perfect union,” would instead cement into place a dictatorship of the nomenklatura.

One can’t help but notice also, and as Delingpole obliquely does above, that the Obama administration would very much like to institute that same Continental Model here — witness the actions of the EPA, the NLRB, and the FCC, just to name a few.

Keep that in mind come November, 2012. We won’t just be choosing a president, but the character of our union.

Footnote:

(1) And also a Putin crony. That should tell us all we need to know.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


11th Circuit Court strikes a blow for liberty and against ObamaCare

August 12, 2011

The court in a 2-1 ruling (and in an opinion written by a Clinton appointee) declared the individual mandate portion of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act unconstitutional because it sets no limits to Congress’ reach:

“Ultimately, the government’s struggle to articulate cognizable, judicially administrable limiting principles only reiterates the conclusion we reach today: there are none,” the court wrote.

The government had tried to make a series of fact-based arguments for why health care is unique, but that failed to sway the court, concluding that future Congresses could make all sorts of arguments as to why any given “unique.”

“Presumably, a future Congress similarly would be able to articulate a unique problem requiring a legislative fix that entailed compelling Americans to purchase a certain product from a private company,” the opinion reads. “The government apparently seeks to set the terms of the limiting principles courts should apply, and then asks that we defer to Congress’s judgment about whether those conditions have been met.”

The judges write that, “The government’s five factual elements of ‘uniqueness,’ proposed as constitutional limiting principles, are nowhere to be found in Supreme Court precedent. Rather, they are ad hoc, devoid of constitutional substance, incapable of judicial administration—and, consequently, illusory. The government’s fact- based criteria would lead to expansive involvement by the courts in congressional legislation, requiring us to sit in judgment over when the situation is serious enough to justify an economic mandate.”

Later on, the court reiterates that: “We have not found any generally applicable, judicially enforceable limiting principle that would permit us to uphold the mandate without obliterating the boundaries inherent in the system of enumerated congressional powers. ‘Uniqueness’ is not a constitutional principle in any antecedent Supreme Court decision.”

And the judges add that “the difficulties posed by the insurance market and health care cannot justify extra-constitutional legislation.”

Though the district judge whose case was under appeal here had voided the whole of ObamaCare, in his article, Philip Klein points out that the majority struck down only the individual mandate and left the rest of the structure intact. Klein speculates that this actually works in favor of the opposition, because, by constructing their decision narrowly and relying on a lack of Supreme Court precedents upholding the government’s argument, this may –may– be persuasive to moderate Justice Kennedy, since it frames leaving the mandate in place as the more radical decision.

And if the individual mandate is struck down, the rest of the act becomes untenable and vulnerable to repeal.

Regardless, we are almost now guaranteed a showdown in the Supreme Court, probably just as the 2012 election campaign hits high gear, since the 11th Circuit’s decision contradicts that of the 6th Circuit, which upheld the law. In situations like that, the Court almost always intervenes. Stay tuned…

Meanwhile, this is great news for fans of individual liberty, limited government, federalism, and a health-care policy that doesn’t amount to national economic suicide.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


God bless Texas

June 21, 2011

…for telling the federal government to take their incandescent light-bulb ban and shove it:

Texas could soon be in a position to turn the lights off on a federal plan to phase out certain light bulbs.

State lawmakers have passed a bill that allows Texans to skirt federal efforts to promote more efficient light bulbs, which ultimately pushes the swirled, compact fluorescent bulbs over the 100-watt incandescent bulbs many grew up with.

The measure, sent to Gov. Rick Perry for consideration, lets any incandescent light bulb manufactured in Texas – and sold in that state – avoid the authority of the federal government or the repeal of the 2007 energy independence act that starts phasing out some incandescent light bulbs next year.

“Let there be light,” state Rep. George Lavender, R-Texarkana, wrote on Facebook after the bill passed. “It will allow the continued manufacture and sale of incandescent light bulbs in Texas, even after the federal ban goes into effect. … It’s a good day for Texas.”

The Natural Resources Defense Council, a New York-based environmental group, is calling on Perry to veto the bill.

I suspect Perry will sign the bill, since it would be popular given the increasingly “small l” libertarian mood of the country these days, and those folks would be Perry’s core audience in a presidential run. The article goes on to quote an NRDC spokesman arguing that the bill cannot be implemented in a practical manner (What? They can’t build a light bulb plant in Texas?) and that it wouldn’t be in the “best interests” of Texans.

How… patronizing and condescending. We can’t let people decide for themselves what kind of lighting is best, after all. That’s better left to bureaucrats and panels of experts. That’s the “progressive way.”

To which I reply,  “go Texas!” 

Anyway, this law poses interesting constitutional issues, and I fully expect it to wind up in the courts. There’s the much-abused Commerce Clause, which has been stretched into near-meaninglessness to allow Washington to do whatever it wants. If the federal Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 rests even in part on regulating interstate commerce (i.e., because the bulbs are manufactured in one state and shipped to another), then strict constructionists could argue that, since the economic activity (manufacturing and sale) takes place within one state, Congress has no power to regulate it. Under the 10th amendment, therefore, the power to do so is reserved to the states, and Washington can take a hike.

Given the legal history of Commerce Clause interpretation, and especially with horrible precedents such as Wickard v Filburn, I doubt this argument would win, but it sure would be interesting to watch. I will note, however, that a refining of the Commerce Clause to clearly prohibit Congress from regulating intra-state activity is one of the amendments in Professor Randy Barnett’s proposed Bill of Federalism.

Meanwhile, I may be looking at a quick trip to Texas to pick up a case of 100-watts.

via The Jawa Report

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Because, you know, secret ballots are bad things

January 16, 2011

From the Department of Government Stupidity: the federal government has threatened to sue four states should they dare to guarantee secret ballots in union elections:

The National Labor Relations Board on Friday threatened to sue Arizona, South Carolina, South Dakota and Utah over constitutional amendments guaranteeing workers the right to a secret ballot in union elections.

The agency’s acting general counsel, Lafe Solomon, said the amendments conflict with federal law, which gives employers the option of recognizing a union if a majority of workers sign cards that support unionizing.

The amendments, approved Nov. 2, have taken effect in South Dakota and Utah, and will do so soon in Arizona and South Carolina.

Business and anti-union groups sought the amendments, arguing that such secrecy is necessary to protect workers against union intimidation. They are concerned that Congress might enact legislation requiring employers to allow the “card check” process for forming unions instead of secret ballot elections.

In letters to the attorney general of each state, Solomon says the amendments are pre-empted by the supremacy clause of the Constitution because they conflict with employee rights laid out in the National Labor Relations Act. That clause says that when state and federal laws are at odds, federal law prevails.

Solomon is asking the attorneys general in South Dakota and Utah for official statements agreeing that their amendments are unconstitutional “to conserve state and federal resources.”

In other words, “play along and we won’t bankrupt you in court.”

I’m no expert in the Supremacy Clause, but labor relations have traditionally fallen under a state’s police powers, though that’s been eroded over at least the last 80 years, since the New Deal, as the Fed has claimed a greater role.

But, really, does anyone seriously think this is anything other than an attempt force card-check through via regulation, instead of legislation, where it’s dead in the water? This is another case of arrogance on the part of unelected bureaucrats against the elected representatives of the peoples of four states, and I hope these states fight it tooth-and-nail.


Senator Charles Schumer: poster-child of the Nanny State

December 12, 2010

Via Jammie-Wearing Fool, the senior senator from New York is focused like a laser on the nation’s true priorities. National debt? The deficit? Terrorism? Presidents who wish they could quit?

Don’t be silly, Silly! Chuck Schumer is on the case of something far more important: retail restocking fees.

No, I’m not kidding:

Plan on returning some gifts this holiday? It may cost you up to 25 percent of the price of the item and, if it was purchased online, you may not have a clue about that “restocking fee.”

U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer wants the Federal Trade Commission to end that. He wants the FTC to determine if failing to disclose the restocking fee is a deceptive practice and to require retailers to prominently display that the fee will be charged.

Several states including New York, Arizona, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and California require restocking fees to be prominent at retail stores.

“While an ever increasing number of retailers are starting to charge restocking fees, the disclosure of these fees has hardly kept pace,” said Schumer (D-N.Y.). “Customers have a right to know that when they make a purchase they could be held responsible for up to 25 percent of the original cost of the product if they choose to return it.

Schumer said a restocking fee is an important element for consumers to consider when choosing where to buy.

These kinds of things typically fall under a state’s policing powers, and that’s where they rightfully belong. If the people of a state want to change how restocking fees are displayed (or charged at all), that’s their business. It’s what they have state legislatures and referenda for, to deal with internal matters like this. And if shoppers are concerned about a store’s restocking policy, they can ask. See, Chuck? We can take care of ourselves! (I know. You guys hate that idea.)

Okay, sure. The Commerce Clause of the Constitution give Congress authority here for interstate sales, but, um… Senator? Don’t you think you have better things to do?

No, I guess you don’t. And there lies the problem.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Restraining Leviathan: allow the states to repeal federal law?

November 26, 2010

The US Constitution has not been amended very often in its history – just 27 times since 1789. It’s a document that’s generally functioned well and Americans are rightly leery of monkeying with it. The 18th amendment, establishing Prohibition, is an example of a mistake that was later repealed.

However, in times of national ferment, Congress and the states have amended the document to fix serious problems: the 12th amendment reformed our method of electing presidents and vice-presidents, which had come to a crisis in 1800 under the original system. The 13th, 14th, and 15th amendments were passed to eliminate the evil of slavery and protect the rights of newly freed African-Americans. The 17th amendment took the election of senators away from corrupt or deadlocked legislatures, while the 19th recognized the right of women to vote.

And so it is today, with so many people concerned about an expanding federal government, that proposals are being floated to amend the Constitution in order to bind Washington within its limits. The Daily Caller has an article about one, the Repeal Amendment, that seems to be on the rise thanks to voter anger:

Rapidly growing support for the “Repeal Amendment” –  a proposed constitutional amendment that would allow a vote by two-thirds of the states to repeal an act of Congress —  symbolizes the intense level of anger Americans have with Washington, according to observers.

In September, Virginia stood alone as the only state where leaders in the state legislature had shown an interest in passing the amendment, but that number has now grown to nine states.

State legislators in South Carolina, Florida, Utah, Indiana, Texas, New Jersey, Minnesota, and Georgia have since expressed interest in the amendment.

Hits on the RepealAmendment.org website have mushroomed over the past month, and the amendment has garnered support from Republican Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, Republican Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, and soon-to-be House Majority Leader Eric Cantor of Virginia, according to “Repeal Amendment” executive director Marianne Moran.

Moran also sees future opportunities for legislative support in states such as Pennsylvania, Ohio, and North Dakota, among others.

“It just restores the balance of government between the states and the federal government as the founding fathers had originally intended,” Moran said. “The fact we have nine states already onboard shows the momentum, and I think the groundswell [of support] is the Tea Party.”

One might also call this the “10th Amendment Protection Act,” since it’s aimed squarely at defending the rights of the states and the people against federal encroachment.

The constitution makes the amendment process difficult, as it should when dealing with something so fundamental and important: passage by a two-thirds majority of both houses of Congress and approval by three-fourths of the states, or by a specially called convention, whose proposed amendments would also require three-fourths approval. And not every amendment proposed has been approved. The article rightly points out that the Repeal Amendment would have to clear this same hurdle, made more difficult by the fact that Congress would have to agree to give up some of its power.

But, it can be done. The 17th Amendment was passed after a national consensus in its favor arose and pressure was put on Congress in the form of state calls for a constitutional convention. By 1910, nearly two-thirds of the states had issued such calls and the Senate, which had resisted reform, realized it had better act before the Article V threshold was crossed. The same kind of national consensus, represented in the various Tea Parties and the recent election results, could put similar pressure on Congress to act before the states do it for them. As the article points out, state legislators would have a direct interest in seeing this amendment passed, as opposed to many others that cross their desks.

So, what do I think of the proposed Repeal Amendment? After initially being highly skeptical, as I think any conservative should be, I’ve come to favor it, especially since the Democrats and their Big Labor and other leftist allies have laid bare their progressive-statist souls for the world to see over the last few years. Their program threatens a fundamental transformation of the United States into something never intended.

Another check and balance is needed.

My one reservation is that I believe the two-thirds limit is too low. Allowing states to repeal federal law is equal in my mind to the power to approve amendments to the Constitution and should meet the same standard: consent by three-fourths of the states. (This is the same standard Professor Randy Barnett uses in his proposed Bill of Federalism, of which the Repeal Amendment is a part; I commend the whole document to your attention.) That disagreement aside, I now think this is a good and necessary change.

Wouldn’t it be ironic if, under a president who thinks the Constitution is fundamentally flawed, the people agreed and fixed the flaw by hogtying DC?

It would be amusing, to say the least.

UPDATE: More at Big Government.

UPDATE II, 12/5/2010: Ed Morrissey is very skeptical of the proposal for a repeal amendment. My reply. Moe Lane takes on liberal lunacy over the proposed amendment.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Quote of the Day, evening edition, Reagan special

November 14, 2010

From Ronald Reagan’s first inaugural address, via Gay Patriot:

Our Government has no power except that granted by the people.  It is time to check and reverse the growth of government, which shows signs of having grown beyond the consent of the governed.

It is my intention to curb the size and influence of the federal establishment and to demand recognition of the distinction between the powers granted to the federal government and those reserved to the states or to the people.  All of us need to be reminded that the federal government did not create the states.  The states created the federal government.

History may not repeat itself, but it sure likes to reuse themes.


Genius in action, Congress edition

May 3, 2010

Yet more proof that no one was paying attention when Congress wrote the recent health-care reform bill: according to a memo obtained by The Daily Caller, the Congressional Research Service believes Congress may have set itself, as well as state and local governments, up for huge fines.

A just-released memo from the Congressional Research Service (CRS) raises fresh constitutional concerns about a provision in President Obama’s health-care law that could impose tens of millions of dollars in fines on Congress, state and local governments.

As reported by The Daily Caller, Congress could be fined up to $50 million annually by its own health-care law if low-level aides apply for government subsidies to help pay their health-care costs.

The new memo from Congress’s research arm states that state and local governments would be on the hook for such fines as well – but argues those fines may be unconstitutional under Supreme Court precedents on federalism.

It’s comforting to know we’re lead by such careful, thoughtful, responsible men and women.

RELATED: An earlier example of high craftsmanship that went into ObamaCare.


Political gum on the governor’s shoe

April 7, 2010

Power Line reports on Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell’s proclamation in commemoration of Confederate soldiers and the political problems it’s caused him. Issuing such a declaration isn’t something I would have done; good men can fight for bad causes, but I doubt they should be honored for it. That is a matter open to argument, however, and it isn’t the real problem here. What may well land McDonnell in genuine hot water is his failure to include the usual denunciation of slavery:

So far, so good. McDonnell’s two Democratic predecessors refused to issue this proclamation, first given by George Allen when he was governor. But those who fought for the South were mostly honorable (and in many cases even heroic) men, even though they were on the wrong side. They deserve a proclamation.

Unfortunately, McDonnell decided to remove anti-slavery language from the proclamation. George Allen’s original proclamation did not contain such language, but Gov. Jim Gilmore added it. McDonnell explained its omission from his proclamation this way:


  • “There were any number of aspects to that conflict between the states. Obviously, it involved slavery. It involved other issues. But I focused on the ones I thought were most significant for Virginia.”


This attempt to give Virginia a pass on the issue of slavery is historically untenable and, I must add, rather offfensive. It also seems like bad politics.

To put it mildly. The last thing the Republican Party needs as it tries to work its way back to respectability is to minimize the role of slavery and its aftereffects in American History. Does McDonnell really want to feed the historic  lie that the Democratic Party is the only party for Black voters? And what kind of spot does this put Black conservatives in?

I’m not saying McDonnell defends slavery, the Confederacy’s rebellion to preserve slavery, or that he himself is a racist. Not at all, nor in any way by implication. But to downgrade what was the core conflict behind all other conflicts in that war and the political disputes that lead to it is to show a sad ignorance of American History and a consequent bumbling insensitivity toward a significant part of the population.

Let me put it this way: the Confederacy was founded to preserve and expand slavery; all other reasons, including “states’ rights” (what we now call “federalism”), were secondary to that and served as shields in the fight to protect slavery. In using those shields, the Confederacy did everlasting harm to the cause of limited government and federalism by giving statists and progressives a brush with which to paint limited government advocates as closet racists. (Witness the smearing of tea-party supporters and ObamaCare foes that been going on for just the last year. And that’s just one, sad example.)

Yet those ideas have gained renewed respectability and popularity in recent decades, especially since the progressive statists came to power with Obama’s election and started to act like hyperactive children on a sugar high. More and more people are taking to the idea that limited, federalist government, kept as local to the people as practicable, best empowers individuals and preserves their liberty. Rising stars with national exposure like Governor McDonnell should keep that in mind and be careful of what they say, lest they reinvigorate the statists.

LINKS: More at Hot Air and Sister Toldjah.

UPDATE: Governor McDonnell did the right thing later today, amending his proclamation and apologizing.


Presenting the Governors Alliance

March 19, 2010

Hefty push-back against the progressive Leviathan in DC: the Republican Governors Association has created a site called the Governors Alliance, heralding perhaps the biggest Federal-State battle in 50 years. The following is their first ad:

Well done. After the decimation of the congressional Republicans in the 06 and 08 elections, the RGA has begun asserting itself more in national politics. It can be argued that this is the fruit of years spent developing state-level talent, and now the farm team wants its shot at the Big Leagues. We now know they can come up with good marketing; let’s see what kind of policies they propose, too.

(via Blue Crab Boulevard)


State legislatures revolt against ObamaCare mandates

February 2, 2010

Interesting:

Although President Barack Obama’s push for a health care overhaul has stalled, conservative lawmakers in more than two-thirds of the states are forging ahead with constitutional amendments to ban government health insurance mandates.

The proposals would assert a state-based right for people to pay medical bills from their own pocketbooks and prohibit penalties against those who refuse to carry health insurance.

In many states, the proposals began as a backlash to Democratic health care plans pending in Congress. But instead of backing away after a Massachusetts election gave Senate Republicans the filibuster power to halt the health care legislation, many state lawmakers are ramping up their efforts with new enthusiasm.

The moves reflect the continued political potency of the issue for conservatives, who have used it extensively for fundraising and attracting new supporters. The legal impact of any state measures may be questionable because courts generally have held that federal laws trump those in states.

Lawmakers in 35 states have filed or proposed amendments to their state constitutions or statutes rejecting health insurance mandates, according to the American Legislative Exchange Council, a nonprofit group that promotes limited government that is helping coordinate the efforts. Many of those proposals are targeted for the November ballot, assuring that health care remains a hot topic as hundreds of federal and state lawmakers face re-election.

Legislative committees in Idaho and Virginia endorsed their measures this past week. Supporters held a rally at the Pennsylvania Capitol. And hearings on the proposed constitutional amendments were held in Georgia and Missouri. The Missouri hearing drew overflow crowds the day after Obama urged federal lawmakers during his State of the Union address to keep pressing to pass a health care bill. The Nebraska Legislature plans a hearing on a measure this coming week.

Supporters of the state measures portray them as a way of defending individual rights and state sovereignty, asserting that the federal government has no authority to tell states and their citizens to buy health insurance.

There’s an argument to be made that requiring private citizens to buy a product as a matter of law violates both the Ninth and Tenth Amendments of the Bill of Rights. The Ninth protects “unenumerated rights,” that is, those not specifically mentioned in the Constitution but still derived from natural law, while the Tenth specifies that powers not explicitly granted to the Federal government under the Constitution are retained by the states and the people. The argument over how to interpret these amendments and the proper balance of the roles of the federal and state governments is one of the oldest in American political history, going back to the Constitutional Convention itself.

I’m not an expert, but my guess is that an argument under the Ninth would be that the freedom to decide which products to purchase, if any, falls under the right of the individual to be sovereign over his property, including his money and his own person. Under the Tenth, it could be argued that, since the commerce in health insurance does not cross state borders*, Congress has no power under the Constitution to regulate it, and that state laws barring an individual mandate are therefore valid. Also, since no power to command the purchases of the people was granted, Congress has no authority.

*(I wonder if the Right is opening a can of worms by calling for interstate commerce in health insurance, since then Congress could regulate it under the Commerce Clause…)

I think an argument under the Tenth is probably correct; I have no idea about the Ninth, which, as I understand it, is rarely invoked in US law. Regardless, since I vehemently oppose socialized medicine and, in particular, ObamaCare, I hope these acts by state legislatures withstand constitutional scrutiny.

On the other hand, they do remind me uncomfortably of the Nullification Crisis

RELATED: A very good book on the Bill of Rights, with a chapter on the Ninth amendment.

UPDATE: I should point out that the Virginia Senate, which is dominated by Democrats, is one of the bodies voting to tell the Fed to stuff it.


But of course. Massachusetts is racist.

January 20, 2010

The only explanation for yesterday’s victory by Scott Brown in the Massachusetts senate race is RAAAAACISM!!! It must be. Keith Olbermann* and Howard Fineman issued this piece of brilliant analysis on Olbermann’s MSNBC show last night:

OLBERMANN: The Republicans and the Tea Partiers will tell you what happens tonight with Scott Brown tonight, whether he wins or comes close, is a repudiation of Obama policies, and surely one of Obama’s policies from the viewpoint of his opponents is that it’s okay to have this sea change in American history, to have an African-American President. Is this vote to any degree just a euphemism the way state’s rights was in the 60s?

FINEMAN: Wow, that is a good question.

No, Howard, that’s a lousy question. Because it’s not even a real question. It’s an accusation and a smear dressed up as a question in order to fool the listener into thinking there’s some serious intelligence behind it, much like a prosecutor asks a leading question in order to get the answer he wants. It’s an insult to the people of Massachusetts, who voted for our African-American president by a large majority just 14 months ago.  Do you and Keith really want us to think they suddenly woke up yesterday morning and slapped themselves on the head when they realized “Oh, my God! We put a Darky in the White House?” It’s also an insult to conservatives across the nation because it says we support federalism and limited government because we really, secretly, in our deepest, most bigoted heart of hearts want to wear hoods and sheets and burn crosses to keep the Blacks “in their place.”

Oh, and for the record, the sheet-and-hood guys were Democrats.

No wonder Olbermann’s ratings are in the tank and no one reads Newsweak Newsweek anymore.

By the way, driving a truck is also a sign of racism. It’s obvious. I’m surprised everyone doesn’t know this, including my Black neighbor who drives a Ford F-150!

It would take race-detectives Keith and Howie only a moment to deduce he’s a self-hating Uncle Tom.

And some people take these clowns seriously?

*(I first ran across Keith when he was a lousy sportscaster here in Southern California. It’s nice to see he hasn’t changed.)

RELATED: More racist links from The Anchoress.


Why bother to have an election at all?

October 20, 2009

This news stopped me in my tracks. The Justice Department voided a change to local election laws in Kinston, North Carolina, that changed elections there from partisan to non-partisan races. The reason? Black voters will be able to elect candidates of their choice only if they know which ones are Democrats:

Justice concludes black voters need Democratic Party

KINSTON, N.C. | Voters in this small city decided overwhelmingly last year to do away with the party affiliation of candidates in local elections, but the Obama administration recently overruled the electorate and decided that equal rights for black voters cannot be achieved without the Democratic Party.

The Justice Department’s ruling, which affects races for City Council and mayor, went so far as to say partisan elections are needed so that black voters can elect their “candidates of choice” – identified by the department as those who are Democrats and almost exclusively black.

The department ruled that white voters in Kinston will vote for blacks only if they are Democrats and that therefore the city cannot get rid of party affiliations for local elections because that would violate black voters’ right to elect the candidates they want.

Several federal and local politicians would like the city to challenge the decision in court. They say voter apathy is the largest barrier to black voters’ election of candidates they prefer and that the Justice Department has gone too far in trying to influence election results here.

You’re darned right they have. I can’t count all the layers of “wrong” in this diktat. Here are a few, as pointed out in the article:

  • The town is majority Black. The problem isn’t African-Americans being denied their franchise, but low Black turnout for local elections. The reporter even interviewed Black town officials who opposed this decision.
  • The town is already solidly Democratic. People interviewed for the article couldn’t recall the last time anyone aligned with Republicans had won an election.
  • The decision insults Black voters in the town, by assuming that only Black candidates could authentically represent Black townsfolk and that those candidates could only be Democratic, and that the voters can’t decide their own interests for themselves.
  • The decision insults the White minority in the town by assuming they’re a) racists who wouldn’t vote for a Black candidate (just how did those Black officials get elected then, when African-American voter turnout is usually low?) and b) so partisan that they’d overlook their racism because the Black candidate is a Democrat.
  • The decision shoots dead the principle of local control over local politics, denying the people their sovereign right to decide their affairs for themselves. Remember, the law the DoJ invalidated was passed by the voters overwhelmingly last November, when Kinston Blacks turned out in large numbers to vote for Obama.  In fact, it was a rare moment when more Blacks than Whites voted there. Is Justice under Attorney General Eric Holder saying Kinston Blacks are so stupid that they would disenfranchise themselves?

When the Voting Rights Act became law in 1965, there was a good reason for it. The old Confederacy (and many parts of the rest of the nation) was dismantling the Jim Crow system of apartheid laws, and Whites in the state and local power structure were trying to rig things to keep themselves on top, often by preventing Blacks from voting at all by hook or crook. Federal intervention was necessary to assure African-American citizens their rights under the Constitution.

But, 54 years later, more than two generations have passed and Blacks are well integrated into the political system; while there may be a need for an occasional intervention, that surely isn’t the case here where, again, the town’s Black majority approved the new law. In fact, I can’t see any reason for it whatsoever, and the decision makes no sense. Given the solid Democratic lock on town offices, it isn’t as if Democrats needed to rig an election to win. There’s no benefit for them in it.

Unlike, say, in Chicago….

Whatever the reason, this is another moment in the Holder Justice Department’s troubling history regarding voting rights. Coincidentally, the Obama appointee who made this ruling also ordered the dropping of voter intimidation charges against New Black Panther Party members in Philadelphia, in a case arising from the 2008 election.

So, question: Is the Justice Department under Barack Obama and Eric Holder just inept, arrogant, and clueless about local realities, or are these parts of an effort to assure there’s a D after the name of every winner?

(via Big Government)

TRIVIA: Speaking of North Carolina, did you know the city of Wilmington is the only place in the United States to experience a coup d’etat? The legally elected government, comprising Black and White Republicans, was overthrown by armed White Democrats.

LINKS: Ed Morrissey writes about the further politicization of the Justice Department. Former federal prosecutor Andy McCarthy calls the DoJ’s Civil Rights Division “cowardice central.” Background on the politicization of the division from Hans von Spakovsky.


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