The New Terrapin Gazette
5 April, 2012
Fix reason firmly in her seat, and call to her tribunal every fact, every opinion. Question with boldness even the existence of a God; because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason, than that of blindfolded fear.
The Constitution, The Supreme Court, The President, And Rational Discourse On Obamacare
The Utopian imperative assumes the interconnectedness of all humankind
Begin with the contention — already promoted in Number 161 of this newsletter (view the brief video again, it’s essential and excellent) — that the commerce clause of the US federal constitution has been stretched far beyond its intent and meaning. This is the original abuse, and the case now before the court reminds of Brown v. Board of Education, which overturned Plessy v. Ferguson (in case you forgot, segregated schools were outlawed by Brown, though the supreme court had, in 1896, approved them if they were “separate but equal”). Established law and judicial policy, in other words, are subject to revision and even revocation; errors both substantive and procedural are supposed to be corrected. So in fact the New Deal’s zealotry is vulnerable, these many years after it received unwise judicial sanction.
This should surprise no one, for the logic that defends the abuse of the commerce clause is nonsensical. It asserts that by refusing to participate in a market, an individual makes an impact on that market, altering its circumstances in some way. Now this is trivially true, and the general principle that it elucidates is in fact universal. Consider this analogy: a group of Jewish citizens of a community decide to open a nursing facility for elderly folks, and accept people of all faiths and ethnicities as patients/residents. Fees will be based on the ability to pay, and the founders of the facility hope to raise money to support the charity. The non-Jewish citizens of the community are, however, extremely bigoted for religious reasons, and tacitly boycott the effort, causing it to fail. By refusing to contribute and assist in the charity balls and other fund-raising events, the people uninvolved in the effort have killed it.
Well, all human beings are linked to varying degrees, and in many cases, the effects people have on each other are defined negatively: by not associating or not trading or not communicating with others, people affect each other. When you pass by a merchant, you impact his business; when a missionary ignores a tribe in the interior of Papua New Guinea, he contributes to factors that affect the future of that tribe. Yes, no man is an island — and those who are isolated lead lives that are distinct by virtue of an isolation that is partly due to the non-involvement practiced by others.
The logical extension of these trivial facts might not be trivial, for it can lead to the assertion that everyone’s obligations are infinite. Now for the rational, sensible person, that is nonsense; for authoritarian Utopian dreamers, however, it is heaven-sent. It provides the rationale for compelling people to involve themselves, contribute, surrender goods and services, and take responsibility. Voluntarism is brushed aside as inadequate, if not selfish and anti-social. The behavior of the individual becomes subject to total intervention and dictation.
That is, of course, exactly what Obama and his supporters insist upon. There are a number of attendant assumptions associated with this demand, beginning with the claim that the government is the only authority capable of deciding exactly what participation should be mandatory, the degree of the participation, and the punishment to be visited upon those who decline to be coerced.
Those procedural details are not, however, what matters to you now. The critical element you need to understand is the universality of the claim that by declining to participate, you necessarily are participating — and thereby subjecting yourself to the “regulation” of interstate commerce. Once you grasp that point, you can see clearly that there is literally no limit that can be placed on the regulations, stipulations, inducements, rules, requirements, mandates and punishments that can proceed from the political system. The doctrine that everyone is “in” is from the first totalitarian, and its enforcement can only grow.
The goal is Utopia. Without total control, there can be no perfect society. As long as you are free to make even trivial decisions, you will never live in the heaven that is planned for you by the collectivist dreamers.
You might recall the experience of Germany after the first world war: when the revolution showed some chance of succeeding, the communists drew up plans for the design of houses to be constructed once the people had triumphed. The kitchen was to be located above the front bedroom, if memory serves (it may not; see The Kings Depart for the nearly forgotten story of the war between the Sparticists and the Freikorps). The more detailed the plans and the more complete the control, the more perfect the lives of the people. No, you can’t have your kitchen where you want it!
Obamacare, in other words, is small beer. If you really understand what is happening, you will also understand that eventually, the need for health care insurance will be questioned; why, after all, should insurance companies make a profit at the expense of those who suffer? Why not reduce the cost of care by abolishing the profitable aspects of the program, and turn all health care over to the government? It would be more efficient, would it not? (More here.)
Now step back and try to put things into perspective. Some readers of this newsletter may be reminded of Bell’s theorem. Yes, that’s what all this bizarre babble about “connectedness” and “if you are out, you are really in, because you affect the people who are in, so you have to be regulated, too” hints at: a physicist’s quasi-spiritual assertion that maybe, just maybe, every damned thing in the whole damned universe is linked to every other damned thing, and that means something really really important. Wow. Others will note the insatiable need of Utopians for control, and will recall Obama’s remarks (often cited in this newsletter) that the nation needs a domestic security force that is as well-funded and powerful as the military; they will also recall that this force is in fact established by the legislation that puts Obamacare in place (again, reported here).
The president is misrepresenting the facts
First, Obama blasted the supreme court for being unelected, and for daring to consider overturning his precious law. That was unpresidential, ignorant, and downright stupid. Second, he insisted that Obamacare was passed by a Congressional majority that presumably represents the will of the people because those Solons are popularly elected; he was wrong on that, too. In fact, as this newsletter noted at the time, the opinion polls showed that as Congress endorsed Obamacare, the majority of the public was opposed to it. How representative those senators and representatives actually were can be disputed.
For some learned and trenchant discussion of these points, read a short weblog post that will clarify the issues. It receives the highest recommendation this newsletter can bestow.
What will the supreme court decide?
Anything is possible — anything but accurate prediction. If the court misbehaves, as it often has in history, the nation is in for serious trouble, for Obama will be given carte blanche to savage the constitution, reduce your Liberty, and impose heaven on earth. Remember Dred Scott and, more recently, Kelo. The robed ones are human, and some of them were hand-picked by Obama, so reason and ethics may be in short supply, even among these supposedly learned and principled jurists. (Recall that this newsletter accused Sotomayor of lying in her appearance before the Senate committee that approved her nomination; if you want to revisit the painful past, request Numbers 97 and 100 of this newsletter, and you shall have access once again to all the gory details that the media prefer to forget or ignore.)
And if The Supremes err, how much will it matter? A lot will turn on this decision, and it would not surprise this newsletter if ultimately the consequences of it touch off a second American revolution (or was the Civil War the failed second revolution?). It’s that fundamental, for constitutional Obamacare is a shattering precedent that opens the way to unrestrained collectivist regimentation of literally every sphere of human activity.
Don’t dismiss the remote possibility of violence and attempted revolution without considering something you might not have noticed. In a sense, Obama has already suggested push could come to shove — and worse. In fact he has given the incendiaries on the right a cause and a battle cry. When The One damned the court as undemocratic, unelected and improperly above his high station, he expressed the rage of a zealot who insists on imposing his will.
That’s terribly troubling for folks who understand the US constitution; they will recall how Obama has dismissed that document as merely placing limits on the federal government, when it should mandate the dispensing of material benefits to the populace. The significance of this has been overlooked. What began as a philosophical disconnect between the White House and the founding principles of the federal republic has become a widening gap with terrifying possibilities.
Yes, it is that bad, and that gap should have been avoidable — but history does not inform the ethics of Team Obama. Certainly the nation does not need another Worcester v. Georgia, and the reprehensible reaction it provoked (“John Marshall has made his decision; let him enforce it now if he can”). Nor does the embarrassing temper-tantrum thrown by FDR (his court-packing scheme) serve as an example of rational governance. Today’s politicians should have learned from these bad examples that one plays by the rules, and that the federal constitution is not to be mocked. Yet the man in the White House is talking like a usurper who plots to overthrow the supreme law of the land and sweep aside all who defend it.
This alarmed view of the possibilities is not empty hyperbole. Slowly, slowly Obama has revealed himself to a bemused nation (again, the media have failed to portray the president accurately): this is a man with a short temper who acts on impulse (see the Links section below for the item on the Boston cop, the college professor, and the hotheaded president who blew his stack over literally nothing), and is so intoxicated by the power of his office that he misbehaves with juvenile intemperance. When he intuits possible defeat, he snarls and threatens; recall his idiotic words, “Don’t call my bluff”. Pressed, this fellow has serious problems with self-control, and his judgment flees in terror.
No true Utopian can brook being disobeyed, for he has seen the light and he knows the way. If The One tries to nullify the court’s decision by executive order, things may get very nasty indeed. At that point reasonable people will ask what more justification Obama’s least rational and least principled opponents will require.
Can The One Be Re-elected, Or Will Romney Beat Him?
It seems clear to this newsletter that the Republicans do not have a horse in the race. Yes, Romney will be the GOP nominee, and he simply does not have what it takes to push Obama out of the White House. That claim rests on a few perceptions that may be accurate.
1. A lot of “social conservatives” will stay home rather than vote for Romney because he is a Mormon. They can’t believe that a rational person could believe in that absurd doctrine, and they don’t want a pinhead in the White House. You may consider that ugly bigotry, but there it is. That’s what you get when you allow people to start new religions.
2. Romney is vulnerable for having established Romneycare (“Obamacare Lite”) in his home state. To many, he’s a RINO (Republican In Name Only). This newsletter has no idea what that means, except that it signifies deep trouble for Republicans who can’t get the party’s stalwart conservatives solidly behind them. Romney is not trusted by many “wingnuts”, that’s for sure. Romney has no core constituency he can depend on; Obama does.
3. The undecided or independent voters, the folks who will determine who wins, don’t have a sharply-defined opinion of Romney. He’s a puzzle. What is he, and what are his core beliefs? He has no Hopeandchange or Yes We Can slogan, and he’s not much of an orator. He’s going to stir up a lot of very lukewarm sentiment in a vital segment of the electorate.
4. Everybody to the left of Barry Goldwater will vote against Romney because the man is a capitalist and is accused of tossing people out of work in order to make investors rich. In that sense, Romney is the ideal target for Class Warrior Obama. Look out, because the rhetoric is going to get pretty darn hot.
5. To this newsletter, Romney looks a little like John Kerry: he’s another wealthy, connected Northeasterner whose party affiliation hardly matters; he appears to be a smug, spoiled guy who can understand neither the low-sloping foreheads in Flyover Country nor the Liberty-loving, hard-pressed middle class. Romney does not create the impression that he is gifted with the innovative imagination to reform and reinvent anything to everyone’s benefit; he seems more likely to follow stereotypical guidelines that lead to a maximization of shareholder value — at the expense of the working man. That won’t generate any voter excitement in the political center, and you can trust that prediction.
Would Romney be better than Obama? Probably. And that’s the most enthusiastic prose you are going to find in this newsletter on the subject of the likely GOP candidate.
In short: can Romney win? No. Obama can lose, though, and he just might. If he can control his temper and make good speeches and let his money work for him, he will win. He will lose only if he comes badly unstuck and the moderates/independents flee from his intemperance. Either way, Romney won’t beat him.
Finally, what about the birth certificate, and Sheriff Joe? That story vanished in a twinkling, didn’t it? You would think some computer expert would have come out and said that he could prove beyond all doubt that…(fill in the blank). But the media dropped it right away. If the long form birth certificate is legitimate, could a scan of it produce a pdf file that behaves the way Sheriff Joe’s people say it does? Who knows, and why hasn’t the technical issue been settled? It’s a puzzle.
A Book Of Note
In November of last year, the Hoover Institution Press published Freedom Betrayed, a huge volume with the subtitle, “Herbert Hoover’s Secret History of the Second World War and Its Aftermath”. (ISBN 978-0-8179-1234-5. More information available here.)
In just over nine hundred pages of fastidious scholarship and commentary, the author attempts to explain the real history of not just the war but the origins of the subsequent cold war. The result is a challenging, fascinating and enlightening revelation that relies very heavily on documents and verifiable sources. Hoover tries to prove all his contentions, some of which have already been called “revisionist” by historians. Among many other charges, the former president asserts that Japan did not want to go to war with the USA and would not have, had the Roosevelt administration not rebuffed serious peace efforts; that FDR figuratively throttled Japan, driving the Japanese to initiate hostilities; that Hitler had no serious interest in taking western Europe, but sought to expand Germany to the east and cripple or destroy communism; that Churchill and FDR blundered badly in their dealings with Stalin, making secret agreements that encouraged the USSR and communist China to expand and threaten the West, and that the USA should never have waged war on Nazi Germany until Hitler and Stalin had both exhausted their resources fighting each other. Those are just some of the assertions Hoover makes, and for which he offers impressive — sometimes very disturbing — documentary evidence.
Which is to say…this is a book that asks the reader to step back and take a new look at history that long ago was presumed sufficiently understood. That challenge, in addition to the fact of Hoover’s meticulous documentation of each of his claims, means that this newsletter gives Freedom Betrayed its highest recommendation. Read this book.
Your perusal of this massive text should probably be undertaken as follows: first, read the editor’s introduction. It is engrossing, to say the least, and before you have read the entire volume, you will realize that George H. Nash has performed a minor miracle. His stewardship of the material, and his scholarship, are brilliant; he deserves a prize.
Next, turn to the back of the book, to page 811, and read the appendix. The documents and summaries found there will answer questions before you ask them, creating for you a clear path through the voluminous and often dense core of the book.
Hoover’s insights are of monumental importance. Millions perished because rascals and ideologues were free to abuse their power in the struggle with evil. Wisdom was brushed aside by political scoundrels, reprehensible deeds were done by honored figures who achieved victory, and ugly truths were hidden from view. The result was needless slaughter on an inconceivable scale and the fabrication of a monstrosity that produced incalculable misery and further bloodshed. World War Two was anything but the triumph of good over evil, as Hoover proves even to those who will dispute some of his assertions.
This book is not just another interesting or engrossing history. To dismiss it as a supplement to one’s store of knowledge is to fail to grasp its significance. The misunderstanding of the past — and the glossing over of egregious errors and sins committed by widely respected and beloved defenders of democracy — is a genuine threat to the future. It is not at all an exaggeration to insist that passionate humanitarian accounts such as Freedom Betrayed must be taken seriously if the West is to survive.
Mac users: see this caution. Yes, it is important!
What if the Supremes rein in the commerce clause? Informed, intelligent speculation is in order.
Do you agree with this sentiment? “…news organizations owe little to anonymous sources that provide bad information. The grant of confidentiality isn’t meant to be a vehicle for diffusing falsehood.” The problem here, of course, is that the news organization involved in this particular instance is the Washington Post, and that paper’s ideological commitment runs counter to the journalistic ethics this newsletter would like to see prevail in the news industry.
The US constitution grants you the rights of free speech and religion, among others. Right? Well, no. Not right at all. Check out the truth.
Obama the politician: first he made a federal case of what happened when a Boston cop tried to do his job properly, and now he tells the world that a disputed shooting deserves everyone’s attention — while he ignores an undisputed tragedy that lacks political correctness. This is a quintessential instance of cynical manipulation of the electorate, and it stinks. Meanwhile, some are questioning the ethics of the mass media as they report the story. Yes, getting the facts wrong by a large margin and then not issuing a correction is an ethical matter.
The academy, the collectivists, and the Jews: is it trendy faux multiculturalism that erodes amity, or possibly political correctness? This newsletter is inclined to view the dysfunction as beginning with the Utopian need for control, which can produce high levels of suspicion and distrust. “Progressives” badly need to face the fact that the hoary illogic of Jew-hatred appeals to many on the political left — in fact, that’s where the real bigotry is found these days. The commentary at the link is provided by the reliable Richard Landes; highly recommended, therefore.
Just how horrible was the US Civil War? Far, far more tragic and harmful than all the nation’s other wars taken together.
A British ship has departed England for visits to West Africa and “…will then steam to the west coast of South America where it is hoped it will dock potentially in Brazil or more likely Chile.” Hail Britannia! Britannia waives the rules (of navigation)!
It’s about control. Where bureaucrats in the service of Utopians are involved, it’s always about control.
Seven minutes of important video. Highest recommendation.
The black-throated wind, whispering sin
And speaking of life that passes like dew
It’s led me to see if you want to be free
Have your way with each day as it’s granted to you
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