Sunday Not Quite A Book Review: “The Cultural Revolution: a people’s history 1962-1976”

July 3, 2016

Book Cover Dikotter Cultural Revolution

Since I haven’t been posting much of late, I thought a good way to get back into the swing of things would be to revive the Sunday Book Review series. Great idea!

Trouble is, the book I read is one that I can’t get a handle on the right approach to reviewing it. smiley d'oh! smiley headbang wall

The topic is so large and so complex that I’m left with just one thing to say: if you are ever tempted by the idea that things would be better if we just gave government all the power it wanted, read Frank Dikotter’s “The Cultural Revolution: a people’s history, 1962-1976”. That should slap some sense into you.

The book tells the story of bloody turmoil China was thrown into for over a decade because of the paranoia and whims of one all-powerful man, Mao Zedong. Setting faction against faction, even against his own Communist Party, Mao threw China into such chaos that at times it seemed a second civil war might result — and in some locales, it did.

Fearing that his “comrades” would sideline or even depose him for his horrific errors in the 1950s, worried that a Khrushchev waited in the wings to bring ideological revisionism and a denunciation of Mao’s legacy as Khrushchev did to Stalin in his 1956 “Secret Speech,” Mao and his allies waged war against enemies often made up wholly in Mao’s mind.

The price, of course, was paid by the people. Whether looking for “capitalist roaders,” “revisionists,” members of various “anti-Party cliques” and agents of foreign powers lurking within the Party itself, or merely people of “bad class background” (for example, former landowners under the old regime and their relations), enemies weren’t just found among a few rivals to Mao. Dikotter’s book tells in appalling detail how ordinary Chinese had to suffer because of Mao’s whims: prison camps, “reeducation” centers, thousands of city residents exiled to the country with no relevant skills and yet expected to survive — and never return to the city. People humiliated, driven to suicide or beaten to death by teenaged “Red Guards.” Knowledge, learning, and arts declared worthless, even evil, if they didn’t conform to “Mao Zedong Thought” and serve the class struggle. The horror stories of Lovecraft and King are nothing compared to what really happened in China in the 1960s.

Over and over, we’re treated moments of madness, but also shown how people resisted, or at least tried to survive. When Mao’s insane economics made even basic goods almost impossible to get, many set up secret factories and trade routes, reestablishing an underground capitalism in Communism’s heartland. Secret book clubs meeting to share a copy of forbidden Western literature. Playing Classical music on old phonographs in a closet, hoping no one would hear and denounce you to the authorities.

It’s said that “power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” China in the Cultural Revolution is a glaring example of this, and Frank Dikotter’s “The Cultural Revolution: a people’s history, 1962-1976” should be part of any “scared straight” program for anyone tempted by statism.

Highly recommended.

PS: “The Cultural Revolution: a people’s history, 1962-1976” is available in hardcover and Kindle format. I’m happy to say the Kindle book was well-formatted and free of any errors as I recall. Fair disclosure, I get a few cents from purchases made through my links.


Bookshelf update – The Cultural Revolution: A People’s History, 1962-1976

May 29, 2016

Renaissance scholar astrologer

I’ve updated the “What I’m reading” widget to the right to reflect the latest item on the Public Secrets lectern, Frank Dikötter’s  “The Cultural Revolution: A People’s History, 1962-1976”.

Book Cover Dikotter Cultural Revolution

 

I’m only a few chapters into it, so far, but it seems to be another proof of something I’ve long believed: that Human history produces far more horror than any story by King or Lovecraft. The Cultural  Revolution, like so many other Leftist attempts to remake humanity –the French Revolution during “the Terror,” Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy (2), the USSR, Pol Pot’s Cambodia, Cuba, North Korea– shows how dangerous it is to let one person, one group, or government in general to have too much power.

The Cultural Revolution is available in both Kindle (1) and hardcover formats.

PS: Why, yes. This is a shameless bit of shilling on my part. I like getting the occasional gift certificate that comes from people buying stuff via my link. But I still think it’s a good book.

Footnote:
(1) I’m happy to say I’ve found no typos or formatting errors, so far. These are all too common in Kindle e-books.
(2) Yes, Fascism and Nazism, two variations on statism, are products of the Left.


Law Professor: International Court of Justice should silence global-warming skeptics

September 21, 2015
x

Climate science experts. The rest of you shut up.

I suppose I should be grateful; some climate thugs want people like me prosecuted under the RICO statutes for our skepticism, while others have likened us to Holocaust deniers or even called for our death.

In comparison, Professor Phillippe Sands QC, a professor of International Law at University College London and a multiply published author, merely wants the International Court of Justice to curb-stomp our right to free speech:

False claims from climate sceptics that humans are not responsible for global warming and that sea level is not rising should be scotched by an international court ruling, a leading lawyer has said.

Scientific bodies such as the UN’s climate science panel have concluded that climate change is underway and caused by humans, Prof Philippe Sands QC told an audience at the UK’s Supreme Court. But a ruling by a body such as the International Court of Justice (ICJ) would carry much more weight with public opinion and help pave the way for future legal cases on climate change, he said.

“One of the most important things an international court could do – in my view it is probably the single most important thing it could do – is to settle the scientific dispute,” Sands said, on the eve of a three-day conference on climate change and international law in London.

“A finding of fact on one or more of these matters [such as whether climate change is man-made], or indeed on other pertinent matters, would be significant and authoritative and could well be dispositive on a range of future actions, including negotiations.” Scientifically-settled questions such as whether climate change is even happening are still being challenged by “scientifically qualified, knowledgeable and influential persons”, he said.

I have a two-word response to Prof. Sands that isn’t printable here, so I’ll settle for a sincere “Go to Hell, buddy.”

This is an example of “Lawfare,” using the law to silence or otherwise punish opponents. I originally came across it in cases wherein (usually Saudi, wealthy) Muslim sympathizers with jihad would use the UK’s ghastly libel laws to punish critics of Islam. It seems that climate alarmists, in their frustration, have learned the same lessons: if you can’t win the argument, use the law to harass your opponents into shutting up.

And Professor Sands’ arguments are just chock-full of what’s wrong with climate alarmism: not just involving the law where it doesn’t belong –deciding scientific questions– but failing to recognize the weaknesses and even corruption on one’s own side. The “UN’s climate science panel” (IPCC)? Report summaries are altered to push preferred alarmist conclusions, and the organization relies on computer models of at best questionable accuracy.

What is this garbage about “‘scientifically qualified, knowledgeable, and influential persons'” disagree with the ‘settled science’ of climate change, and we just can’t have that?” If these people are so qualified, shouldn’t we be listening to their criticisms and giving them serious consideration? No, instead we must silence the heretics via court order!

What’s next, an auto da fe?

And as if most Americans could give a tinker’s cuss what the ICJ has to say.

via WUWT


Pudgy, nuclear-armed dictator shoots another official. Because he can.

July 8, 2015
"You are too short! banished!"

“You let my turtles die? You die!”

You think this guy knew the game was up the moment he saw Kim Jong Un’s first frown?

The manager of a terrapin farm who incurred the wrath of Kim Jong-un, the North Korean leader, has been executed.

State-run media released pictures in mid-May of a clearly furious Mr Kim berating officials of the Taedonggang Terrapin Farm after the dictator arrived to provide “field guidance”.

KCNA reported that the farm for breeding terrapins had been set up on the orders of Kim Jong-il, the father of the present ruler of North Korea, but all the baby terrapins in the tanks died.

The officials tried to explain that a lack of electricity meant that water could not be pumped into the tanks, while there were also shortages of feed for the terrapins.

Mr Kim was additionally outraged that part of the farm had not been set aside to “educate employees in the revolutionary history” of Kim Jong-il, KCNA reported.

The dictator dismissed the officials’ explanations, saying that “only sighs of defeatists come from units” that fail to “uphold and glorify the leadership exploits of the great leaders and the party”.

He added that their excuses about problems with water, electrical supplies and equipment were “nonsensical complaints”, the Daily NK web site reported.

Sources in Pyongyang told NK News that the manager of the terrapin farm was shot dead shortly after Mr Kim’s visit.

Pour encourager les autres, dontcha know?

And, please. A lack of electricity to provide fresh water to creatures that live in water, and a lack of feed for them? Did he really expect that to be a sufficient reason to let them die from polluted water and starvation? He was obviously a traitor and a counterrevolutionary South Korean-American Imperialist stooge. It’s a good thing Dear Leader Tiny Psycho III was there to ferret out his anti-terrapin sabotage!

Per the Telegraph article, is it any wonder that North Korean officials are starting to defect in large numbers? I’m only surprised no one’s drawn a pistol and shot this loon in an act of preemptive self-defense.

Via Rick Moran, who goes on to compare this lunatic regime to that in Tehran. The one we’re about to help get nuclear weapons, too.

I’ll be in my bunker in the Sierras.


Sweet Cakes By Melissa Refuses to Comply With Gag Order

July 7, 2015

Good for the Kleins. Seriously. This bureaucrat’s decision was just appalling on so many levels.

Nice Deb

aaron+and+melissa2

As you might have heard, the state of Oregon has decreed that Sweet Cakes by Melissa  must pay $135,000 to the lesbian couple whom they (apparently) “mentally raped” by refusing to bake their wedding cake.

Via Rachel Lu at the Federalist:

The final judgment, which came last Thursday, came with another twist. Aaron and Melissa Klein have also been given a “cease and desist” order, which effectively decrees they must refrain from stating their continued intention to abide by their moral beliefs.

Let’s be clear on why this is so sinister. There are times when speech rights conflict with other legitimate social goods. The public’s right to know can conflict with individual privacy rights. Sometimes threats to public safety warrant keeping secrets. There can be interesting debates about intellectual property rights. These cases can get tricky, and we should all understand that speech rights necessarily do have certain pragmatic limits.

 None of…

View original post 508 more words


(Video) Police State of Wisconsin: ‘I Thought It Was a Home Invasion’

April 22, 2015

Following up on my earlier post about the Left’s fascist abuse of the law to intimidate and terrorize political opponents, here’s an interview Dana Loesch of The Blaze TV conducted with David French, the author of the National Review exposé, and the head of the Wisconsin Club for Growth, one of the victims in this:

Someone needs to be fired over this, at the least.


Wisconsin: where the Left brings out its inner-Fascist

April 20, 2015
Himmler

Likes “John Doe” investigations

 

Yeah, I went there. Try telling me your reaction was any different after reading this:

“IT’S A MATTER OF LIFE OR DEATH.”

That was the first thought of “Anne” (not her real name). Someone was pounding at her front door. It was early in the morning — very early — and it was the kind of heavy pounding that meant someone was either fleeing from — or bringing — trouble.

“It was so hard. I’d never heard anything like it. I thought someone was dying outside.”

She ran to the door, opened it, and then chaos. “People came pouring in. For a second I thought it was a home invasion. It was terrifying. They were yelling and running, into every room in the house. One of the men was in my face, yelling at me over and over and over.”

It was indeed a home invasion, but the people who were pouring in were Wisconsin law-enforcement officers. Armed, uniformed police swarmed into the house. Plainclothes investigators cornered her and her newly awakened family. Soon, state officials were seizing the family’s personal property, including each person’s computer and smartphone, filled with the most intimate family information.

Why were the police at Anne’s home? She had no answers. The police were treating them the way they’d seen police treat drug dealers on television.

In fact, TV or movies were their only points of reference, because they weren’t criminals. They were law-abiding. They didn’t buy or sell drugs. They weren’t violent. They weren’t a danger to anyone. Yet there were cops — surrounding their house on the outside, swarming the house on the inside. They even taunted the family as if they were mere “perps.”

As if the home invasion, the appropriation of private property, and the verbal abuse weren’t enough, next came ominous warnings.

Don’t call your lawyer.

Don’t tell anyone about this raid. Not even your mother, your father, or your closest friends.

The entire neighborhood could see the police around their house, but they had to remain silent. This was not the “right to remain silent” as uttered by every cop on every legal drama on television — the right against self-incrimination. They couldn’t mount a public defense if they wanted — or even offer an explanation to family and friends.

If you didn’t know this happened in Wisconsin, you’d be excused for thinking this was something out of the 1930s, a raid by the German Gestapo or the Soviet NKVD against political opponents. You would be half-right: this and other atrocities against the Rule of Law were perpetrated against political opponents of a bunch of rogue prosecutors in Wisconsin. Recently. In the United States.

How the Hell could this happen here?

David French’s article goes into the details, but here’s a quick summary: Starting in 2009, the Milwaukee County prosecutor initiated what are called “John Doe” investigations (1) against newly-elected Governor Scott Walker and his political allies, who were working to reform Wisconsin’s collective bargaining rules for public employees. Under the “John Doe” rules, the entire investigation was secret: warrants were kept under wraps, no one could talk to the press, and those under investigation couldn’t even seek help from a lawyer. (Hello? Right to counsel? Sixth Amendment?) The prosecutor, enabled by a potted plant masquerading as a judge, went on a years-long fishing expedition looking for anything he could find, but always centered around supporters of Act 10, the reform bill in question. (And, what a coincidence, his wife was an official of the teachers union that was desperately opposed to this bill.) And not just individuals were persecuted: the Wisconsin Club for Growth, a free-market, low tax advocacy group, was for all intents and purposes put out of business just as crucial elections were approaching, a hammer-blow to its members’ First Amendment rights.

In the end, Act 10 was passed and the Left lost all those elections, and the John Doe investigations have been halted while state and federal courts get involved, but the harm done to its victims is real and isn’t over. These people live in fear now, insecure in their own homes, parents and children traumatized, humiliated, and tarred as suspect before their neighbors, never knowing if the power of the State will kick in their doors again for daring to participate in politics…

In America.

This is an absolute outrage. This prosecutor and his buddies abused their power in ways that Kim Jong Un would approve of.  Each one of them should –at a minimum– face disbarment and, if applicable, criminal charges. We entrust prosecutors with immense power and discretion; when they abuse it, they should have the book thrown at them.

So, what are you waiting for? Go read the article and get angry.

Afterthought: I think it’s a fair question to ask Scott Walker why he hasn’t gone after this guy hammer and tongs, now that the investigation against him has fallen apart. And why on Earth hasn’t the legislature (as far as I know) hauled in everyone in question under subpoena and under oath for a very public –indeed, televised– grilling? The prosecutors, police, and judge at the heart of this trampled the federal and state constitutions under foot and terrorized innocent people. They should be held accountable.

Footnote:
(1) As I understand it, these were created to protect the identities of those under investigation. The irony is overwhelming.


Federal court declares Obama immigration “action” unconstitutional

December 16, 2014
The President who would be King

The President who would be King

Shots fired:

Earlier Tuesday, a federal court in Pennsylvania declared aspects of President Obama’s executive actions on immigration policy unconstitutional.

According to the opinion by Judge Arthur Schwab, the president’s policy goes “beyond prosecutorial discretion” in that it provides a relatively rigid framework for considering applications for deferred action, thus obviating any meaningful case-by-case determination as prosecutorial discretion requires, and provides substantive rights to applicable individuals. As a consequence, Schwab concluded, the action exceeds the scope of executive authority.

This is the first judicial opinion to address Obama’s decision to expand deferred action for some individuals unlawfully present in the United States. [I’ve now posted the opinion here.]

Read the rest of Jonathan Adler’s article for the background to the case. It seems the judge didn’t have to consider the constitutional question to reach a decision in the case, but…. he went there. If this goes all the way to the Supreme Court (and I don’t see why it wouldn’t, but I’m not a lawyer), I wouldn’t bet on Obama getting an easy win; his administration has been slapped down by the Court on 9-0 votes several times — in other words, including his liberal appointees Kagan and Sotomayor.

Between this, the lawsuit of brought by 17 (now 24) states against the action, and the pending crucial Obamacare case, the Supreme Court’s end-of-term announcements of its decisions should be very interesting. Be sure to stock up on extra popcorn.

smiley popcorn

 


#Immigration: Congress *can* defund Obama’s executive order

November 26, 2014

Obamacaligula

Apparently Caesar Obama can decree all he wants, but getting the money to pay for his tyranny is another matter altogether:

The letter, requested by a Republican lawmaker, addressed an issue raised by House Appropriations Chairman Hal Rogers (R-KY), who has claimed it is impossible for Republicans to defund Obama’s amnesty since the agency in charge of issuing the work permits, the United Stated Citizenship and Immigration Services office, is almost entirely funded by user fees.

The [Congressional Research Service] found that Rogers’ claim was completely false. From the letter:

“In light of Congress’s constitutional power over the purse, the Supreme Court has recognized that “Congress may always circumscribe agency discretion to allocate resources by putting restrictions in the operative statutes.” Where Congress has done so, “an agency is not free simply to disregard statutory responsibilities. Therefore, if a statute were enacted which prohibited appropriated funds from being used for some specified purposes, then the relevant funds would be unavailable to be obligated or expended for those purposes.

A fee-funded agency or activity typically refers to one in which the amounts appropriated by Congress for that agency or activity are derived from fees collected from some external source. Importantly, amounts received as fees by federal agencies must still be appropriated by Congress to that agency in order to be available for obligation or expenditure by the agency. In some cases, this appropriation is provided through the annual appropriations process. In other instances, it is an appropriation that has been enacted independently of the annual appropriations process (such as a permanent appropriation in an authorizing act). In either case, the funds available to the agency through fee collections would be subject to the same potential restrictions imposed by Congress on the use of its appropriations as any other type of appropriated funds.”

This makes perfect sense constitutionally and legally: the agency is a creation of Congress, which has told it to raise money for its operations from user fees. It would be risible to say that Congress somehow lacked the power to tell that same agency how to spend the money Congress authorized it to collect in the first place.

The Republican leadership is discussing a long-term funding resolution for most of the government, and a short-term one for the Immigration Service, so that the new Republican legislature could then order it not to spend any money to enforce Obama’s order. This would be a first good step toward reining in Obama’s usurping presidency.

Let’s hope they have the courage to do it.


Freedom of speech beaten and left bleeding in Australia?

November 18, 2011

This is the kind of authoritarian garbage I would expect from real dictatorships, such as Venezuela or Russia or… Chicago, but not from one of the stalwarts of the Anglosphere:

THE whitewash begins. Now that the carbon tax has passed through federal parliament, the government’s clean-up brigade is getting into the swing by trying to erase any dissent against the jobs-destroying legislation.

On cue comes the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, which this week issued warnings to businesses that they will face whopping fines of up to $1.1m if they blame the carbon tax for price rises.

It says it has been “directed by the Australian government to undertake a compliance and enforcement role in relation to claims made about the impact of a carbon price.”

Businesses are not even allowed to throw special carbon tax sales promotions before the tax arrives on July 1.

“Beat the Carbon Tax – Buy Now” or “Buy now before the carbon tax bites” are sales pitches that are verboten. Or at least, as the ACCC puts it, “you should be very cautious about making these types of claims”.

There will be 23 carbon cops roaming the streets doing snap audits of businesses that “choose to link your price increases to a carbon price”.

Instead, the ACCC suggests you tell customers you’ve raised prices because “the overall cost of running (your) business has increased”.

(Emphasis added)

So a barkeep or beauty salon owner in Australia can be fined one million Australian dollars for speaking the truth? (1)

Seriously?

Once again, we see the statist, totalitarian nature of the Green movement laid bare for all to see in a way that would leave Stalin smiling. Dare to criticize the dogmas of the High Church of Anthropogenic Global Warming and you’ll be fined for more than you’re worth. Question their jihad against the demon CO2 and watch as the Carbon Tax Inquisition smashes your business.

If I understand Australia’s electoral system right, the next federal election is in 2013. Julia Gillard‘s minority Labor government was already unpopular for the economy-choking carbon tax it imposed; after this… “nonsense,” I’d be surprised if she could be elected dog catcher. I’ve never known an Australian who would put up with being pushed around like this and I predict voters will shove back hard come election day.

via Watt’s Up With That?

Footnote:
(1) Australia apparently doesn’t enshrine free speech as a natural, preexisting right as we do. Instead a right to free political speech was found to be implied in the Australian constitution in the case Lange v Australian Broadcasting Corporation, decided by the High Court of Australia in 1997.

PS: Be sure to read the rest of Miranda Devine’s article to see just how Aussies are already suffering from skyrocketing electricity prices, which the new carbon tax will only make worse. That is exactly what Obama, his EPA, and the Green Statists have in mind for us.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Pat Condell: Europe needs a revolution

August 26, 2011

British comic Pat Condell rips into the anti-democratic European political class and the “European Union of Soviet Socialist Republics,” with an aside for some interesting observations about the nature of the American Revolution:

RELATED: At the Telegraph, Peter Osborne argues that the EU debt crisis will finally give Germany the empire it’s always dreamed of.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Free speech, Saudi-style

January 13, 2011

In the totalitarian religious tyranny Islamic state of Saudi Arabia, bloggers are free to write about whatever they wish — as long as it’s off the Kingdom-approved list of topics and you get a license, first:

Saudi Arabia has enacted stringent new regulations forcing some bloggers to obtain government licenses and to strongarm others into registering. In addition, all Saudi news blogs and electronic news sites will now be strictly licensed, required to “include the call to the religion of Islam” and to strictly abide by Islamic sharia law. The registration and religion requirements are also being coupled with strict restrictions on what topics Saudi bloggers can write on–a development which will essentially give Saudi authorities the right to shut down blogs at their discretion.

The new regulations went into effect on January 1, 2011. Fast Company previously reported on the law’s announcement this past autumn, but the actual reforms enacted were far more punitive than we were earlier led to believe. The exact specifics of the new regulations were not previously announced by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

What the new regulations center around is a legal redefinition of almost all online content created in Saudi Arabia. Blogs are now legally classified as “electronic publishing” and news blogs (the term is not explicitly defined in the Saudi law) are now subject to the same legal regulations as newspapers. All Saudi Arabia-based news blogs, internet news sites, “internet sites containing video and audio materials” and Saudi Area-created mobile phone/smartphone content will fall under the newspaper rubric as well.

Under the regulations, any operators of news blogs, mobile phone content creators or operators of news sites in Saudi Arabia have to be Saudi citizens, at least 20 years old and possess a high school degree.

At least 31% of Saudi Arabia residents do not possess citizenship; these range from South Asian migrants living in poor conditions to well-off Western oil workers. All of them will find their internet rights sharply curtailed as a result of the new regulations.

I wonder if this would make the approved list for a Saudi-licensed blogger?

Nah. Might corrupt a person’s mind, and then what? Genuine respect for individual liberty?

Perish the thought.

via Jihad Watch

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Getting it backwards: the legislative veto

December 1, 2010

At Hot Air, Ed Morrissey writes about the efforts of the Republican minority in the Senate to defeat the Environmental Protection Agency’s efforts to gain via regulation what the environmental left couldn’t achieve via legislation: a cap-and-trade system and other onerous, economy killing “environmental” regulations. Their strategy involves the use of a little known procedure created in the 90s, called the Congressional Review Act. Ed quotes from a Politico article; see if you can spot the problem:

The law lets sponsors skip Senate filibusters, meaning Republicans don’t have to negotiate with Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) for a floor vote or secure the tricky 60 votes typically needed to do anything in the Senate.

The House doesn’t have the same expedited procedures, but it’s assumed the GOP majority would have little trouble mustering the votes needed to pass disapproval resolutions.

A spate of contentious EPA rules that are soon to be finalized could be prime targets, including the national air quality standard for ozone, toxic emission limits for industrial boilers and a pending decision about whether to regulate coal ash as hazardous waste.

We’re not going to let EPA regulate what they’ve been unable to legislate. And if I’m chairman, we’re going to have a very aggressive, proactive schedule,” Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.), the likely incoming chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee, told POLITICO.

Note the highlighted portions. What’s being described is a legislative veto, a controversial procedure that was never envisioned in the Constitution by the Framers. Let’s back up a minute for some groundwork. Article 1, section 1 of the US Constitution reads:

All legislative Powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States, which shall consist of a Senate and House of Representatives.

The power to disapprove laws, the veto, is not part of the powers assigned to Congress: it is assigned to the President (oddly, via Article 1) and is considered an Executive power. Several court cases (such as INS v Chadha), have held that the legislative veto is unconstitutional because it violates separation of powers by encroaching on the Executive’s turf. At the same time, Congress, the lawmaking body, has ceded to the EPA, a part of the Executive Branch, the authority to write regulations (effectively laws; you can be punished for violating them) subject to Congress’ disapproval.

This is a role reversal that violates the Constitution both by ceding too much legislative power* to an unelected body (the EPA) and by blurring the separation of powers by claiming a veto** for the legislature. It upends the intent behind the Constitution and does violence to democratic governance by giving an unelected bureaucracy the upper hand over the elected representatives of the People.

I’m certainly not saying that all regulations are unconstitutional; it’s perfectly reasonable that, within the bounds of  enabling legislation that does not cede too much congressional authority, an administrative agency should write regulations needed to implement Congress’ will. Nor am I saying Congress shouldn’t, at this time, take advantage of the Review Act to rein in an EPA that threatens to go on a regulatory rampage.  But, if a Executive bureaucratic agency has claimed so much power that it has crossed into the realm of legislative usurpation and, because of that, the legislature feels it needs veto authority, then something constitutional is way out of whack.

This resort to the questionably constitutional legislative veto reveals a serious problem in our democracy: unelected, bureaucratic, and largely unaccountable agencies have claimed too much power from the elected representatives of the people. Once this mess with the EPA is sorted out, the next Congress (as if it doesn’t already have enough to do) should look at either amending the enabling legislation for agencies to limit their power or, if need be, eliminating altogether those that no longer serve a useful purpose. It is Congress’ job to make the laws, not to veto a bureaucrat’s diktats.

*The War Powers Act of 1973 has a similar constitutional problem.

**Here, too.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Refuse to be nannied? Then get ready to be sued.

November 18, 2010

This quote is part of a longer article on why the author won’t ever vote for Mitt Romney for president until he admits that RomneyCare was a mistake, but there’s a clip that is relevant to our future under Romneycare’s national cousin, ObamaCare. Mitt’s bad medicine:

No, this is all about policy, specifically Romneycare – which has thus far been the Big Dig of health care, except costs have risen faster.

Obamacare has the benefit of having not yet been fully implemented. It’s already hurting the economy and costing people their jobs, but the worst has yet to arrive. Well the Romneycare disaster is already upon us.

The highest health insurance costs, the highest medical costs and the fastest rising costs. Massachusetts has them all, thanks to Romney. And they’re getting worse.

Meanwhile the Herald reported yesterday that the folks at the beloved Commonwealth Health Insurance Connector created under Romneycare are “cracking down on more than 3,000 residents who are fighting state fines, and has even hired a private law firm to force the health insurance scofflaws to pay penalties of up to $2,000 a year.”

Big Brother is watching – and suing – you.

Emphasis added.

The same is almost inevitable under ObamaCare, because its universal coverage provisions require universal subscription, either through buying one of the government-approved (and more expensive) plans, or by paying a tax penalty fine for refusing to buy a plan. That’s the infamous individual mandate, which takes the unprecedented step of requiring citizens, as a condition for merely living, to engage in an economic activity whether they want to or not – and punishes you if you refuse. And it is unconstitutional.

But, the government has to have this money in order for ObamaCare to even have a snowball’s chance of working. It must take money from the more healthy, younger portion of the workforce that won’t need as much insurance to subsidize universal coverage for the remainder, which is likely to need more frequent and more expensive care. (Rationing comes into this, too, but that’s a separate issue.)

Thus, as costs increase under ObamaCare (and even the government says they will), pressure will mount to go after those who refuse to pay the fine,  as the article describes, and maybe even after those who game the system by paying the fine and then buying coverage only when they truly need it.

So, get ready. Not only will Uncle Sam tell you what kind of insurance you must buy and at what price, but he’ll probably sue you if you don’t play along.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


What we believe: conservatism and the Tea Party

October 9, 2010

Bill Whittle has long been one of my favorite PJTV commentators; his video essays are incisive, uncompromising, and closely reasoned, all done in sincere, good-natured, and polite style. He’s not a firebreather; he doesn’t have to be, because he knows what he’s talking about.

Bill has a new video on his own YouTube channel (ht: Hot Air) in which he provides a clear, simple statement of the essential tenets of American conservatism: a belief in limited government and free enterprise. It’s well-worth the ten minutes of your time to watch:

While I think “classical liberal” is more accurate than “conservative,” that’s an argument over terminology that just isn’t all that important these days. What truly is important is the message: limited government versus the all-powerful state and individual liberty versus tyranny. Whittle introduces our side of the argument beautifully, and I’d like to see this video posted widely across the blogosphere.

And I dare any progressive to post as simple, clear, and honest an explanation of their beliefs in response. No emotional appeals to being “for the children” allowed.

It would be illuminating.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


A young person’s guide to the Constitution

August 13, 2010

Today’s Klavan on the Culture provides a youth-oriented lesson on just what the Founders were trying to protect America from way back then … and right now:

Oh, and some laughs, too. 

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Meet Congressman Pete Stark (D-Oligarchy)

August 2, 2010

What is it with Democrat politicians, lately? They’re not even trying to pretend they’re public servants anymore; challenge them, and you get some variant of “How dare you, peasant?” A few weeks ago it was Representative Bob Etheridge (D-NC) taking offense at a young man who dared to ask him a question; Etheridge assaulted him in return. Then there was Texas Democrat Ciro Rodriguez, who was so angry at being challenged by a constituent that he smacked a newspaper on the table. (Was he going to swat her on the nose for being a bad doggy, next?) Here in California, our Democrat-dominated palace of the mandarins legislature is trying to slip past the voters a ballot measure that would reclaim for the legislature power the voters took from it just two years ago. Time and again, when talking about citizens expressing their grievances at tea parties or directly to them at town-hall meetings, Democrat politicians have revealed utter contempt for the voters.

Now it’s contempt for the Constitution and the foundational principles of our government, too, as “Representative” Pete Stark (D-CA) proclaims in response to a citizen’s question about how the Federal government can declare health care a “right:”

The federal government can do most anything in this country.

Watch and learn as an oligarch, not a representative of the people in a constitutional republic, bares his soul:

Wrong Pete, dead wrong. The Constitutional Convention, in its creation of a general government, agreed that it would be a limited government of specifically enumerated powers.  The Founders certainly did not create one that can ignore the Constitution at will and do whatever the Hell it wants. That, “Representative” Stark, is called “tyranny.” Please reread (or read for the first time) Article 1, section 8 for your job description. Note that nowhere does it give Congress the power to declare something a “right” in the way Americans understand rights, because natural rights are something we are born with, you moron.

And here, folks, we see crystallized in a moment of time, like an insect (or a congressman) trapped in amber, much of what is wrong with the American polity: representatives who do not represent, but instead rule; who have a greater connection to each other and to their big donors than to the people who elect them; and who see the greatest, most successful governing document ever devised by Man as something to which one just pays lip service, something that’s outdated.

It’s time to throw them out, folks, any and all who harbor the same kind of ignorance or disdain for the Constitution and the citizen as Pete Stark or Ciro Rodriguez. They may act like an oligarchy, they may think of themselves as a ruling elite, but they still need us to keep their jobs. Did they vote for ObamaCare? Then you have your answer. Are they in favor of card-check, which will take away the right to a secret ballot in union elections? There’s another clue for you.  Look your representative and senator over, check their record, their words. They can’t hide their attitudes anymore. You have the power to throw them out and put better men and women in their places.

I’ll leave you with the wise words of James Garfield, spoken in a speech he gave years before he became President:

Now more than ever before, the people are responsible for the character of their Congress. If that body be ignorant, reckless, and corrupt, it is because the people tolerate ignorance, recklessness, and corruption. If it be intelligent, brave, and pure, it is because the people demand these high qualities to represent them in the national legislature. …

If the next centennial [of the Declaration of Independence] does not find us a great nation … it will be because those who represent the enterprise, the culture, and the morality of the nation do not aid in controlling the political forces.

Let’s send the oligarchs home.

LINKS: Blue Crab Boulevard and Big Journalism.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Letter to my Congresswoman

March 26, 2010

I sent the following letter to my representative today. Not that I expect it to do any good, but she should know that not everyone in her district is pleased (to say the least) with her vote for ObamaCare:

This is in reply to your email of 3/26/10, in which you take credit for voting for the Democratic Health Care Reform plan:

  • “I was proud to support the health care reform legislation that passed the House at midnight on Sunday, and to attend the signing ceremony in the East Room of the White House.”

Though I am a registered Republican and consider myself a conservative, I have in the past been willing to vote for you because you were the best candidate on the ballot, largely based on your stands on national security. (Let’s face it, Republicans cannot win in a gerrymandered district like CA-36, and I would much rather have you in office than a genuine fruitcake such as Marcy Winograd.) However, my support for you ended Sunday night, when you voted for the nationalization of American health care.

To be clear: I will never vote for you for anything ever again.

Let me explain why. In general, you voted for the statist takeover of roughly 16% of the US economy, a process that will turn free-born citizens into wards of the State, aggrandize the federal government over the states and the individual far beyond what the Founders ever intended, and set our nation on a path toward Greece-like debt and fiscal ruin. It was utterly irresponsible of you and a violation of your oath of office.

Specifically, the individual mandate is wholly unconstitutional and, in fact, tyrannical. Never in the history of the United States has any individual citizen been required to buy a product from a third party under terms dictated by the government. There is no enumerated power under Article I that gives Congress this authority, and I believe it violates the 5th and 10th amendments of the Bill of Rights: the former for an illegal taking of a citizen’s property (his money and his right to determine its use) and the latter for violating those rights and powers reserved to the People. This is a gross usurpation of power on the part of Congress, rammed through in a wholly undemocratic manner by what can only be described as the act of an arrogant oligarchy.

(Disagree on that last point? Then how would you describe the sections that exempt Congress and senior congressional staff from the bill’s provisions?)

What’s more, any sober analysis shows this bill will in no way meet the goals the President, Speaker Pelosi, and Majority Leader Reid have bragged about. It will not reduce costs. It will not provide better care. It will not allow us to keep the insurance we like. It will not reduce the deficit. It will, however, reduce citizens’ freedoms; it will drive up premiums; it will harm the elderly with the cuts to Medicare; it will result in rationing; and it will make US medical care worse overall.

Thank you. Thank you so much.

Your oath of office reads:

  • “I … do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. So help me God.”

You have broken that oath and you no longer represent me in any meaningful way. Not only will I never vote for you again, I will work to see you defeated, quixotic as that goal may be. No member of the House or Senate who voted for this bill -not just “unconstitutional” but anti-constitutional- should keep their seat.

You’ve done good work in the past, but it has all been washed away by this act.

I’ll be surprised if she even notices. Looking at it, there’s so much more I could have said.

I’ll just say it all with one vote next November.


To envy a tyrant’s power

September 24, 2009

Michael Ledeen on Barack Obama:

American politics are very fractious, and always have been. Leaders are constantly frustrated, and some of them come to yearn for an end to our freedom. They think they know best, they just want to tell us what to do and have us shut up and do it. I think Obama is one of them. He’s not naïve. It’s different. He doesn’t like the way things work here, he thinks he can do much better, and he’s possessed of the belief that America has done a lot of terrible things in the world, and should be prevented from doing such things ever again. The two convictions mesh perfectly. It’s The Best and the Brightest run amok.

Democratic leaders’ envy of tyrants’ power can be understood. But it can’t be forgiven.


A liberty issue

August 1, 2009

Mark Steyn zeroes in on the real problem behind ObamaCare and all other state-run health plans: it’s not so much the cost as the freedom of the individual:

That’s the argument that needs to be won. And, if you think I’m being frivolous in positing bureaucratic regulation of doughnuts and vacations, consider that under the all-purpose umbrellas of “health” and “the environment,” governments of supposedly free nations are increasingly comfortable straying into areas of diet and leisure. Last year, a British bill attempted to ban Tony the Tiger, longtime pitchman for Frosties, from children’s TV because of his malign influence on young persons. Why not just ban Frosties? Or permit it by prescription only? Or make kids stand outside on the sidewalk to eat it? It was also proposed — by the Conservative party, alas — that, in the interests of saving the planet, each citizen should be permitted to fly a certain number of miles a year, after which he would be subject to punitive eco-surtaxes. Isn’t restricting freedom of movement kind of, you know . . . totalitarian?

Freedom is messy. In free societies, people will fall through the cracks — drink too much, eat too much, buy unaffordable homes, fail to make prudent provision for health care, and much else. But the price of being relieved of all those tiresome choices by a benign paternal government is far too high.

Government health care would be wrong even if it “controlled costs.” It’s a liberty issue. I’d rather be free to choose, even if I make the wrong choices.

Read the whole thing. People are rightfully (and increasingly) appalled at the astronomical, economy-busting costs and taxes and tangled bureaucracy this plan would entail, but they need to understand the core issue: surrendering control over one’s basic decisions regarding health, whether it be over medical procedures or lifestyle, fundamentally changes the nature of the relations between the government and the citizen. The latter goes from being the source of sovereignty from which government derives its powers to being no more than “the governed.”

If Thomas Jefferson were alive today, he would be at once disgusted with the Democratic Party he helped found and affrighted by the willingness of so many to embrace what he would call “tyranny.”

LINKS: Fausta’s blog. Gaius at Blue Crab Boulevard thinks the best way to stop this train wreck is to insist Congress require itself and all federal employees to take part. I agree.