Bill Whittle: “How to steal power” or “Turning the Constitution upside-down”

October 31, 2011

Bill’s back with another episode of Afterburner, this time taking a look at how progressives (including Supreme Court justices) have regularly twisted (and even tortured) the plain meaning of the Constitution to get what they want, rather than what the document allows. Bill focuses on two much-abused clauses in Article I, section 8, “General Welfare” and “Commerce,” to show that, interpreted in the progressive manner, as part of a “Living Constitution,” (1) these clauses stop being limits on government’s power and instead become grants of unlimited power.

My own view is that of originalism, that the document has to be read as the Convention and the ratifying states intended. Where the language is plain, as in…

To provide for the Punishment of counterfeiting the Securities and current Coin of the United States;

…then the argument ends. In more ambiguous sections (often due to 18th century grammar and style), we can use our reason (2) and examine primary sources of the time, such as the Federalist and Anti-Federalist Papers, the records of the Constitutional Convention, and the contemporaneous state constitutions to figure out what was intended.

And where the powers delegated to the federal government under the Constitution are inadequate to meet a truly national or multi-state issue, there’s this little thing called Article V that provides a means to rewrite the rules in a manner best-suited to creating consensus — unlike diktats from imperialist judges divining the current meaning of the living constitution from its penumbras and emanations.

Any other way is just stealing power.

(1) Just to be fair to the other side, Strauss’ recent book, The Living Constitution, has been receiving good reviews. It never hurts to know the other guys’ arguments.
(2) Contra Ezra Klein, it’s not hard.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


The #Occupy protesters are the new Vandals

October 30, 2011

The Vandals were a Germanic tribe that so terrorized the dying West Roman Empire, particularly during the sack of Rome in 455, that later authors used their name to coin a word describing the wanton destruction of anything beautiful or civilized — “vandalism.”

The Occupy movement would seem to be the latest heirs to the “Vandal tradition:” despising the civilization that’s given them so much, making incoherent demands, and engaging in barbaric and even criminal behavior. My blog-buddy ST has done a great job chronicling much of it.

Well, here’s another example for you:

Nearby, small merchants complained that the camp has hurt their businesses, and they fear that a “general strike” called by protesters for Wednesday could further discourage customers. Meanwhile, big companies said the street protests affected their daily operations, and some Oakland residents said they were worried that police, busy with protesters, are even less able to respond to crimes in their neighborhoods.

What business owners said they fear is that the camp will devolve into chaos again, something some said has already begun.

The owner of Sankofa African Arts and Jewelry said that on the two mornings since protesters returned, her front doorway has reeked of urine.

She said her business has declined by 80 percent since Occupy Oakland began.

“I really, really want them to leave,” said the owner, who gave only her first name, Ellen. She has owned her business for 17 years. “What they are doing is making business worse.”

A camp supporter overheard her lament and shouted: “You would have lost your business anyway with the way the economy is going.”

Ellen burst into tears.

Moji Ghafouri said business has gone down 25 percent at her Caffe Teatro. Protesters also smashed one of her windows.

“I’m a small business,” she said. “If you’re against corporations or big business, I’m not them.”

No, you’re not, Moji. Nor is Ellen. But, to the Occupiers, you might as well be. Whatever your politics, these people don’t represent you, regardless of their claims to speak for a mythical “99-percent.” You’re business owners, capitalists. You’re honest people trying to make a future for yourselves. And though you’re not among the wealthiest people in America, that doesn’t matter to the Occupiers. Your sin in their eyes is that you’re willing to work within the capitalist system to build a better life for you and yours, instead of screeching for a barren egalitarianism. That’s why the protester treated Ellen with such nihilistic contempt: to them, you’re all “Little Eichmanns.” To them, you’re just a tool of the hated old order, worthy only of contempt. What you have is theirs to loot and, if they don’t take it, to ruin. What you have built is theirs to tear down.

The Vandals would approve.

Afterthought: Let me here and now express my deep contempt for the mayors, such as Oakland’s Jean Quan, who’ve let these “movements” wreck the lives and businesses of residents unfortunate enough to be stuck in the area. Hiding behind a fig leaf of “respect’ for “tolerance” and “free speech,” these cowards are failing some of the most basic duties of civic governance: the protection of life, property, and public order. Are these business owners and taxpayers second-class citizens, inferior to the “Occupiers?” Do they have no rights?

Do your job, mayors: order the mob to disperse. If they refuse, send in the police and this time don’t call them off.

via Big Government

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)

Your tax dollars at work: FEMA prepares for alien invasion!

October 29, 2011

Fools! Don’t they know they’re already here? Isn’t Dennis Kucinich proof enough?

Still, it’s comforting to know that the Federal Emergency Management Agency has prepared instructions for firefighters on what to do in case space aliens attack (1):

Can’t wait to see what they have in mind for when the Mole People strike… 

(1) I for one welcome our new Extraterrestrial Overlords; they have to be an improvement over the current crop!

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)

Popcorn!! AG Holder to testify on “Fast and Furious”

October 28, 2011

Under oath, baby, under oath:

CBS News has learned Attorney General Eric Holder has agreed to appear before the House Judiciary Committee regarding “Fast and Furious.” The hearing will take place Dec. 8th.

Judiciary Committee member and head of the House Oversight Committee Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) had requested that Holder appear, in part to dig deeper into when-he-knew-what about ATF’s so-called “gunwalking” operation Fast and Furious.

In May, Holder testified that he only first heard about Fast and Furious a few weeks before. However, as CBS News reported, documents and memos indicate he had been sent multiple briefings mentioning Fast and Furious in 2010.

Holder later explained in a letter to Congress that he didn’t read those memos, and that in any event, nobody at the Justice Department who knew of Fast and Furious was aware of the specific “gunwalking” tactics used.

Could this be the moment Holder falls on his sword for Obama?

CBS’ Sharyl Attkisson (aka, She Who Was Screamed At) also reports that Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD) wants a public hearing with former ATF Director Ken Melson. Melson, you may recall, rejected the presence of DoJ “minders” and testified before the committee last July without telling his bosses, bringing his own lawyer and and directly tying top subordinates of Eric Holder to Operation Fast and Furious. My guess is that Cummings wants Democrats to be seen as pro-active on this in order to give his caucus some distance from a scandal that could (should) threaten Obama’s reelection.

Or he wants to play attack dog. Could be either.

Regardless, the real show will be before the House Judiciary Committee when Eric Holder raises his right hand and starts answering or dodging pointed questions about what he knew, when he knew it, who developed this felony stupid plan, and who approved it.

Can’t wait.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)

Lying or incompetent? The Janet Napolitano edition

October 28, 2011

So, which is it, Madame Secretary? Or is it both?

Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet “The System Worked” Napolitano testified before the House Judiciary Committee and did her best Sergeant Schultz impression, claiming she knew nothing about Operation Fast and Furious (aka Gunwalker) until Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry was killed late last year:

House Republicans on Wednesday turned their sharp questioning over “Operation Fast and Furious” toward Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, who acknowledged her agents were twice told to “stand down” in deference to what she called a “very troublesome” operation.

Napolitano, at one point likening the questioning to a cross-examination, said repeatedly she only learned of “Fast and Furious” after Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry was killed in December. She emphasized the operation, conceived and run by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, “was an ATF operation,” under the auspices of the Justice Department, not her department.

Well played, Janet! Denying knowledge of Gunwalker while pointing a big finger at Justice! Guess your boss isn’t the only one who can throw people under the bus.

Call me “cynical,” but Secretary Napolitano’s testimony lacks a certain something… Let’s call it “credibility.”

Look at the facts: Janet Napolitano was Governor of Arizona from 2003 to 2009, when Barack Obama appointed her DHS Secretary. Arizona has a huge problem with cartel-related smuggling and violence. She would have been intimately familiar with the problems on her southern border. It is inconceivable that, both as the immediate past governor of a key state, a cabinet official,  and head of the agency charged with security of the US border, she would not have been briefed on a major cross-border gun-smuggling operation, particularly when we were running it.

Consider also that Dennis Burke, her former chief of staff when she was Arizona’s governor and a senior adviser to her at DHS, was the US Attorney for Arizona during Operation Fast and Furious and participated in the inter-agency task force overseeing the operation fiasco.

This is Napolitano’s former chief of staff, someone she worked closely with for years, whom she probably helped get the US Attorney’s job, and who was her protege in Arizona politics. Does she seriously expect us to believe he never briefed her, never even mentioned it to his friend and mentor? Remember, Gunwalker started in mid-2009; Agent Terry was killed in November, 2010.  For over a year, Burke told his friend the Director of Homeland Security nothing? Nor was she briefed by anyone at the DoJ?

Seriously, Janet?

Lying, incompetent, or both, folks. You make the call.

RELATED: Earlier posts about Gunwalker.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)

#Occupy the Department of Energy! Or, loans for Russian billionaires?

October 27, 2011

I must’ve missed the memo announcing the rebirth of the Friends of Angelo program under the aegis of the Department of Energy.  Under the leadership of Secretary Chu (Like his boss, a Nobel Prize winner. Be impressed.), the DoE has fast-tracked and awarded loans with preferential terms (1) to a failing “Green” energy company, Solyndra; a “Green” car company, Fisker, which plans to make its cars in Finland, when they get around to actually making the cars; and another “Green” automaker, Tesla, which builds Gaea-friendly cars for the elite one-percent. And on which Tesla loses money.

All these loans, totaling about $1.5 billion taxpayer dollars, were doled out to companies with connections to big donors to the Democrats and Obama. (See also.)

But this one has to be the cake-topper — $730 million to a Russian billionaire:

Another controversial U.S. Department of Energy “green” loan is coming under scrutiny.

Last July the Obama administration issued a $730 million low interest “green” loan to Russia’s second largest steel company, whose chief executive is a Russian tycoon personally worth $18 billion and who has close ties to Russia’s Vladimir Putin.

An influential House oversight chairman is now questioning why taxpayer funds from the Department of Energy are being used to assist the highly capitalized foreign-based steel company.

The DOE renewable energy loan was awarded this summer to Severstal North America to produce high strength steel at its Dearborn, Michigan facility. Steel is not in short supply in the United States and current U.S. steel plants are operating under capacity.

The DOE loan is part of a controversial $40 billion renewable energy loan program organized under its Advanced Technology Vehicle Manufacturing Program  called ATVM.  The program is supposed to help financially starved companies in the green auto manufacturing field by providing taxpayer-supported low interest loans.

As PJM’s Richard Pollock points out, the billionaire, Alexei Mordashov, is the 29th richest man in the world. Mordashov’s company, Severstal, recently made $1.2 billion from the sale of several steel mills in Ohio and other states. He could finance Dearborn plant out of his own pocket and still have enough left over to buy his own miniature giraffe. (2)

And then there’s the question of why Severstal, a fully-capitalized company that’s neither in the auto or “Green industries,” qualifies for loans meant to help “green auto manufacturing.”

Why, if I were a cynic, I might suspect some sort of a payoff here.

Nah. I must just be a RAAAAACIST!! and a hater. Or something.

(1) Read: “They get the gold mine, the taxpayer gets the shaft.”
(2) I love that commercial.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)

A strategic game-changer in the Near East? A recipe for war? Or both?

October 26, 2011

I wrote last June about major oil and natural gas finds in the Eastern Mediterranean that would be a boon to Israel if they played out.

Today at (the renamed) PJMedia, Jonathan Spyer interviews Israeli journalist Amiram Barkat regarding other major natural gas (and maybe oil) finds under the nearby Mediterranean seabed — an area claimed by Israel and its new friend Cyprus, on the one hand, and increasingly Islamic-fascist Turkey and Lebanon (1) on the other. While discussing the enormous economic and strategic implications for Israel, Barkat talks reviews the geopolitical dangers:

PJM: What are the latest developments regarding the dispute between Turkey and Cyprus over exploratory drilling for offshore gas deposits off the coast of Cyprus? Are Turkish Navy ships still in the area?

In late September this year, Noble Energy, a Houston-based company, started drilling the Aphrodite prospect within a maritime area known as Block 12. Noble, the company that has made all the significant gas discoveries in Israel, received the drilling license in Block 12 from the Cypriot government in 2008.

Turkey had threatened to use military force should drilling commence, but refrained from action. Turkey has two major claims regarding Cyprus exploration plans: first, as the protector of the rights of the Turkish minority in Cyprus, it aims to guarantee that the Turkish Cypriots gain a share in the future revenues from any discovery. Second, Turkey doesn’t recognize the Cypriot EEZ and claims that parts of it are actually in Turkish waters.

PJM: Is there a realistic possibility that this could lead to conflict between Israel and Turkey? Or has Turkey, as a NATO member, been warned against escalating the situation?

The strengthening ties between Israel and Cyprus underpinned by mutual interests in the export of natural gas could make the possibility of regional conflict involving Turkey a realistic one, though not in the near future. Israel is aware of this and an internal debate has been going on regarding Cyprus.

Looking from Nicosia, the choices seem simpler. Recent developments in the area have clearly weakened Cyprus’s geopolitical position vis-à-vis Turkey. Greece, Cyprus’ patron, is practically bankrupt. Egypt and Libya, traditional allies within the Arab world, are both undergoing a revolutionary process.

Against this backdrop Cypriot government officials openly invited the Israeli military to play an active role defending Cypriot interests. In private talks Cypriot officials are supportive of letting the Israeli Air Force use Cypriot bases.

As you can imagine, the simultaneous occurrence of new valuable resources and political upheaval in the region is as recipe for military conflict at some point — and, in the Middle East, that could come at any time. While one naturally hopes that the parties involved would come to an amicable arrangement, factors besides those mentioned above line up against it:

  • Turkey is under an increasingly Islamist government, and their prime minister may well be an antisemitic nut.
  • Hizbullah-dominated Lebanon cut a deal with the hated Jews? Barack Obama will sooner embrace Thomas Sowell.
  • The natural broker for such a dispute is the United States, due to our history of alliance with both Israel and Turkey, but, thanks to incompetent diplomacy Smart Power, we’ve increasingly alienated Israel and played the fool for Turkey, which is actively working to advance the Islamist cause. Now one doesn’t trust us and the other thinks (rightly) it can use us.

This is not a recipe for the lion to lie with the lamb any time soon.

(1) And letting Hizbullah (and, by extension, its Iranian patrons) get any share of the revenues from these new fields is a Bad Idea(tm).

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)