Sunday, July 31, 2005

Justice Clarence Thomas 


Harry Reid:

"If they, for example, gave us Clarence Thomas as chief justice, I personally feel that would be wrong. If they give us Antonin Scalia, that's a little different question. I may not agree with some of his opinions, but I agree with the brilliance of his mind." ... "I think that [Thomas] has been an embarrassment to the Supreme Court. I think that his opinions are poorly written. I don't--I just don't think that he's done a good job as a Supreme Court justice."

Justice Thomas:

"Long ago, William Blackstone wrote that "the law of the land...postpones even public necessity to the sacred and inviolable rights of private property." The Framers embodied that principle in the Constitution, allowing the government to take property not for "public necessity," but instead for "public use".

Defying this understanding, the Court replaces the Public Use Clause with a 'Public Purpose' Clause (or perhaps the "Diverse and Always Evolving Needs of Society" Clause), a restriction that is satisfied, the Court instructs, so long as the purpose is "legitimate" and the means "not irrational". This deferential shift in phraseology enables the Court to hold, against all common sense, that a costly urban-renewal project whose stated purpose is a vague promise of new jobs and increased tax revenue, but which is also suspiciously agreeable to thePfizer Corporation, is for a "public use". I cannot agree.

If such "economic development" takings are for a "public use", any taking is, and the Court has erased the Public Use Clause from our Constitution, as Justice O'Conner powerfully argues in dissent. I do not believe that this Court can eliminate liberties expressly enumerated in the Constitution and therefore join her dissenting opinion. Regrettably, however, the Court's error runs deeper than this. Today's decision is simply the latest in a string of our cases construing the Public Use Clause to be a virtual nullity, without the slightest nod to its original meaning. In my view, the Public Use Clause, originally understood, is a meaningful limit on the government's eminent domain power. Our cases have strayed from the Clause's original meaning, and I would reconsider them.

Though one component of the protection provided by the Takings Clause is that the government can take private property only if it provides 'just compensation" for the taking, the Takings Clause also prohibits the government from taking property except "for public use". Were it otherwise, the Takings Clause would either be meaningless or empty. If the Public Use Clause served no function other than to state that the government may take property through its eminent domain power "for public or private uses" then it would be surplusage. (James Madison: "It cannot be presumed that any clause in the constitution is intended to be without effect").

Alternatively, the Clause could distinguish those takings that require compensation from those that do not. That interpretation, however, "would permit private property to be taken or appropriated for private use without any compensation whatever". In other words, the Clause would require the government to compensate for takings done "for public use", leaving it free to take property for purely private uses without the payment of compensation. This would contradict a bedrock principle well established by the time of the founding: that all takings required the payment of compensation.

The most natural reading of the Clause is that it allows the government to take property only if the government owns, or the public has a legal right to use the property, as opposed to taking it for any public purpose or necessity whatsoever. At the time of the founding, dictionaries primarily defined the noun "use" as "the act of employing any thing to any purpose." The term "use", moreover, is from the Latin utor, which means to use, make use of, avail one's self of, employ, apply, enjoy, etc. When the government takes property and gives it to a private individual, and the public has no right to use the property, it strains language to say that the public is "employing" the property, regardless of the incidental benefits that might accrue to the public from the private use. The term "public use" then, means that either the government or its citizens as a whole must actually "employ" the taken property. ...

The Public Use Clause, in short, embodied the Framers' understanding that property is a natural, fundamental right, prohibiting the government from "taking property from A and giving it to B."

Our current Public Use Clause jurisprudence, as the Court notes, has rejected this natural reading of the Clause. The Court adopted its modern reading blindly, with little discussion of the Clause's history and original meaning, in two distinct lines of cases: first, in cases adopting the 'public purpose" interpretation of the Clause, and second, in cases deferring to legislatures' judgments regarding what constitutes a valid public purpose.

Those questionable cases converged in the boundlessly broad and deferential conception of 'public use" adopted by this Court ... The weakness of those two lines of cases... fatally undermines the doctrinal foundations of the Court's decision. Today's questionable application of these cases is further proof that the "public purpose" standard is not susceptible of principled application. This Court's reliance by rote on this standard is ill advised and should be reconsidered.

There is no justification, however, for affording almost insurmountable deference to legislative conclusions that a use serves a "public use". To begin with, a court owes no deference to a legislature"s judgment concerning the quintessentially legal question of whether the government owns, or the public has a legal right to use, the taken property. Even under the 'public purpose' interpretation, moreover, it is most implausible that the Framers intended to defer to legislatures as to what satisfies the Public Use Clause, uniquely among all the express provisions of the Bill of Rights.

We would not defer to a legislature's determination of the various circumstances that establish, for example, when a search of a home would be reasonable...The Court has elsewhere recognized 'the overriding respect for the sanctity of the home that has been embedded in our traditions since the origins of the Republic' when the issue is only whether the government may search a home. Yet today the Court tells us that we are not to 'second-guess the City's considered judgments" when the issue is, instead, whether the government may take the infinitely more intrusive step of tearing down petitioners homes. Something has gone seriously awry with this Court"s interpretation of the Constitution. Though citizens are safe from the government in their homes, the homes themselves are not.

Once one accepts, as the Court at least nominally does that the Public Use Clause is a limit on the eminent domain power of the Federal Government and the States, there is no justification for the almost complete deference it grants to legislatures as to what satisfies it. These two misguided lines of precedent converged in Berman v. Parker, and Hawaii Housing Authority v. Midkiff. Relying on those lines of cases, the Court in Berman and Midkiff upheld condemnations for the purposes of slum clearance and land redistribution, respectively. "Subject to specific constitutional limitations", Berman proclaimed, "when the legislature has spoken, the public interest has been declared in terms well-nigh conclusive. In such cases the legislature, not the judiciary, is the main guardian of the public needs to be served by social legislation."

I share the Court's skepticism about a public use standard that requires courts to second-guess the policy wisdom of public works projects. The "public purpose" standard this Court has adopted, however, demands the use of such judgment, for the Court concedes that the Public Use Clause would forbid a purely private taking. It is difficult to imagine how a court could find that a taking was purely private except by determining that the taking did not, in fact, rationally advance the public interest.... It is far easier to analyze whether the government owns or the public has a legal right to use the taken property than to ask whether the taking has a "purely private purpose" unless the Court means to eliminate public use scrutiny of takings entirely. Obliterating a provision of the Constitution, of course, guarantees that it will not be misapplied. For all these reasons, I would revisit our Public Use Clause cases and consider returning to the original meaning of the Public Use Clause: that the government may take property only if it actually uses or gives the public a legal right to use the property.

The consequences of today's decision are not difficult to predict, and promise to be harmful. So-called "urban renewal" programs provide some compensation for the properties they take, but no compensation is possible for the subjective value of these lands to the individuals displaced and the indignity inflicted by uprooting them from their homes. Allowing the government to take property solely for public purposes is bad enough, but extending the concept of public purpose to encompass any economically beneficial goal guarantees that these losses will fall disproportionately on poor communities.

Those communities are not only systematically less likely to put their lands to the highest and best social use, but are also the least politically powerful. If ever there were justification for intrusive judicial review of constitutional provisions that protect "discrete and insular minorities," surely that principle would apply with great force to the powerless groups and individuals the Public Use Clause protects. The deferential standard this Court has adopted for the Public Use Clause is therefore deeply perverse. It encourages "those citizens with disproportionate influence and power in the political process, including large corporations and development firms" to victimize the weak.

The Court relies almost exclusively on this Court's prior cases to derive today's far-reaching, and dangerous, result. But the principles this Court should employ to dispose of this case are found in the Public Use Clause itself, not in Justice Peckham's high opinion of reclamation laws. When faced with a clash of constitutional principle and a line of unreasoned cases wholly divorced from the text, history, and structure of our founding document, we should not hesitate to resolve the tension in favor of the Constitution's original meaning. For the reasons I have given, and for the reasons given in Justice O'Connor's dissent, the conflict of principle raised by this boundless use of the eminent domain power should be resolved in petitioners' favor. I would reverse the judgment of the Connecticut Supreme Court." --edited excerpts from Justice Thomas' 'Kelo' dissent..........................

That's funny; "Plantation" Harry Reid claimed Thomas can't put two words together. Did you find that "embarrassing"? I found it well-argued and at times, eloquent.

"Big House" Harry is merely trying to discredit Thomas--not because Justice Thomas is conservative, nor because he's black...but because he's Conservative While Black.

One can almost understand Reid's frustration. By the traditional political calculus, Thomas should have been a liberal Democrat. But Thomas was exposed to the great founding ideas and ideals of our civilization and they resonated with him. His character, intelligence & integrity forbade him from turning his back on those precepts.

Sorry, Sen. Man-stealer; you're not getting your runaway slave back. They don't all look alike and they damn sure don't all think alike, any more than white people do.

Liberal Neo-Racism is not classic racism...but it's racist nonetheless. And that's what should embarrass you, Mr. Reid.

The man who is arguably the best judge in America was poor black kid who grew up running through the piney woods of Georgia. I love that about my country.

Without embarrassment.

Sunday, July 24, 2005



Hog on Ice:

"I thought I should write a brief post, expressing my anger at the vicious, mindless brutes responsible for the public, execution-style death of an innocent Brazilian electrician in the London Underground."

Don't get fooled again. Read it.

More Questions 


The Smoothing Plane asks one which Sen. Durbin should be able to answer easily, given his extensive knowledge of the "Mein Jihad"-ists:

"Do you know why the bulldog's nose slants backwards?"

And (via Austin Bay) what is it that Democrats always say in similar circumstances? Ah, yes:

'I certainly hope these brave soldiers don't face repercussions for speaking truth to power!'

Saturday, July 23, 2005

The 64 Dinar Question 

Ace asks it:

"Let me ask British Muslims-- if violent backlash did begin, and roving bands of thuggish hooligans were beating and killing Muslims in the streets, would you urge that police give additional scrutiny to non-Muslims caucasians moving through Muslim communities, or would you insist that police attempts to protect Muslims focus on both Muslims and white hooligans equally?"

Answer the man...if you can.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

The Korean Amnesian 


Nicholas Kristof draws some lessons from the Pueblo Incident--all the wrong ones.


"Moored on a river here in the North Korean capital is the U.S.S. Pueblo, described as an "armed spy ship of the U.S. imperialist aggression forces.""--It always starts with being 'Moored', doesn't it? Described as imperialist aggressors by whom? The Norks--or the N'York Times? 'Moored', indeed.

"The Pueblo is the Navy ship that North Korea seized in 1968 in waters off the country's east coast, setting off an international crisis. One American sailor was killed and 82 others were imprisoned for nearly a year and tortured into writing confessions. To signal that the confessions were forced, the sailors listed accomplices like the television character Maxwell Smart." -- It wasn't 'seized in waters off the country's east coast'--it was hijacked in international waters. The forced confessions were to make the crew deny this fact.

"When forced to pose for a photo, some crew members extended their middle fingers to the camera, explaining to the North Korean photographer that this was a Hawaiian good luck sign. After the photo was published and the North Korean guards realized they'd been had, the sailors suffered a week of particularly brutal torture."--There must be some mistake; torture didn't exist until Americans invented it at Gitmo--you kids turn that damned stereo down!

"As the first Navy vessel to surrender in peacetime since 1807, the Pueblo was a humiliation for America. And it has become a propaganda trophy for North Korea, with ordinary Koreans paraded through in organized tours to fire up nationalist support for the Dear Leader, Kim Jong Il." --It wasn't 'peacetime'--that's why they called us "imperialist aggression forces". And stop calling him "Dear", would you? You're creeping me out. Hon.

"Then Mr. Kim decided the propaganda would be even better if the ship was moved from the east coast to the capital. So the Korean Navy disguised the Pueblo as a freighter, ran up the North Korean flag and sailed it for nine days through international waters [Oh, NOW we get 'international waters'] around South Korea to the west coast of North Korea, and then up a river to Pyongyang. In 1999, the Pueblo opened triumphantly to crowds in Pyongyang."--I've forgotten, too, Mr. Kristof; who was president in 1999, anyway?

""When this ship left Wonsan port [on the east coast], Japanese ships mobilized to check it," said Col. Kim Jung Rok, who as a 28-year-old sailor helped storm the Pueblo and is now in charge of it. "But then they saw it was an ordinary freighter and withdrew.""--'Steal'--not 'storm'.

"It's a bad sign that the Western intelligence experts who monitor North Korean ports and examine satellite images didn't notice that the Pueblo had moved. President Bush's refusal to engage North Korea, as the Clinton administration had done, has already led the North to revive plutonium production. Mr. Bush's backup plan is to stop North Korean nuclear proliferation by intercepting nuclear materials as they leave the country - but that's wishful thinking. If we couldn't detect the transfer of a famous 176-foot ship, it's ludicrous to think we could stop the smuggling of a grapefruit-size chunk of plutonium." --Did you ever notice that during the Clinton Presidency, Communists from Havana to Hunan got everything they wanted? Hmmmm. The Norks didn't "revive" their plutonium production under Bush--they never stopped. I'm going to tell you a secret, Mr. Kristof: Communists lie. Write it down. When Clinton & Carter propped them up and made them the largest foreign aid recipient in the Pacific, they learned a lesson; Democrat presidents can be rolled.

"The Pueblo is also a reminder that Kim Jong Il is unrelenting in promoting nationalism - and hostility to the West - to keep himself in power. That prickly Korean nationalism - think of the French, cubed - offers the only shred of legitimacy the Dear Leader has. Many tens of thousands of ethnic Koreans in Japan support North Korea, not because they are Communists but because they are patriots - they see the Dear Leader as an authentic Korean nationalist, in contrast with the American quislings in the South."--Sometimes it's hard to tell when you're quoting the North Koreans and when you're speaking for yourself, Nick. And yes, we know he's a nationalist--shades of Vietnam!--but do you know he's a murdering Stalinist dictator? Funny; you never use the words.

"The biggest mistake America has made since World War II has been to misunderstand nationalism. That myopia now bolsters Kim Jong Il. When Bush administration officials rattle sabers at North Korea, they're helping to keep Kim Jong Il in power."--Law enforcement causes criminals, fighting terrorists causes terrorists and opposing dictators causes dictators; got it.

"Since the War of 1812, only two nations, Russia and China, have posed a major military threat to our home turf. Now North Korea, with its nuclear weapons and three-stage Taepodong missiles, is apparently joining that list, and emerging as a potential global eBay for anyone seeking plutonium. And our plans to deal with that problem by intercepting shipments are as loony as North Korea itself."--(1.) North Korea pursued nukes and fired off missles everytime it felt like jerking Clinton's chain. It was just their way of saying 'Thanks for the light-water reactors, the massive food aid and the half-million gallons of fuel. Per year." Clinton lost interest when his time ran short and put all his legacy-eggs in Arafat's basket. (2.) "Emerging" e-bay?--they've already sold uranium to the Khan network and to rouge (yes, rouge) dictator Mohammar QKhGhadaffi. (3.) So you're proposing that we stop intercepting shipments? Not smart, Maxwell.

"But the story of the Pueblo's capture also offers a hint of how to proceed. Initially, many Americans favored a hard line. The chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, for example, urged dropping a nuclear bomb on one North Korean city.
President Lyndon Johnson resisted, noting that bombing North Korea would not bring our hostages home. So the U.S. tried full-bore diplomacy. It was frustrating, slow and not wholly successful, but in the end was the best of a bunch of bad alternatives."--Without the threat of force, that diplomacy would have been unsuccessful. You really have no clue why those sailors were willing to give their captors the bird, do you, sir?

"It's time for us to learn from the Pueblo again. The Bush administration's dismissal of serious, direct diplomacy has made Korea more dangerous. Engagement may be arduous, frustrating and often unsatisfying, but it's the only option we have left."--Kristof calls the Pueblo Incident an American humilation...and then urges us to repeat it. But why wouldn't we instead take as our model an American victory like the landing at Inchon? Bush hasn't dismissed "serious" negotiation. He wants multi-party talks because it brings more pressure and it doesn't let the Norks split our alliances. But if Bush did demand one-on-one talks, Mr. Kristof and his fellow Democrats would be excoriating him for his "cowboy unilateralism"--who's really not serious here?

We have several options. But if something were the "only option" as Kristof claims, then it's no longer an option--it's a necessity. Kristof's only necessity is to bash Bush. Bush's necessity--and ours--is a free and peaceful Korea.

Advantge: Bush.

One Free Korea also weighs in. And James Chen writes on related issues at The American Thinker.

And don't forget: Wed,. July 27 is National Korean War Veteran's Armistice Day--thanks, Dad.

Pancho Writhes Again 


Tom Freidman famously began his recent Gitmo column with the words "Shut it down. Just shut it down."

Which is unusual for Friedman; usually he waits until the closing paragraphs before stepping on his d*ck.

I remember one otherwise good column which closed with a call for Middle East peace by having the PLO & the Mossad come together to fight Global Warming. And yes, I realize the Exempt Media has moved on from the Gitmo Crisis Du Jour to the Rove Crisis Du Jour-- but I haven't solved the first crisis for them yet.

In fact, I think I can solve them both: Bush should declare Rove an illegal enemy combatant and send him to Gitmo for his crime of not breaking the law. And make Valerie Plame a stewardess and Jokin' Joe a pilot on the CIA terrorist-transport planes recently outed by the Times. If we're not going to indict Pinch, we could at least, well, pinch him.

Anyway, Friedman didn't disappoint by failing to disappoint here, either:

"Guantanamo Bay is becoming the anti-Statue of Liberty." --No, al Qaeda is the anti-Statue of Liberty. And they would have proved it literally if they'd only had a few more planes.

"If we have a case to be made against any of the 500 or so inmates still in Guantanamo, then it is high time we put them on trial, convict as many possible (which will not be easy because of bungled interrogations) and then simply let the rest go home or to a third country." --'If'?--"IF"??? We didn't owe German POWs a trial--and they wore uniforms. We put the first WTC bombers on trial--and their friends and relatives came back. As for rendition or repatriation, your paper is against that too, Tom., if there is any chance the poor darlings will be harmed in any way. And under 'Zadvydas', the Court foolishly held that a foreign nationals cannot be held indefinitely if no country will accept them--and have a Constitutional Right to be paroled into American society!

"Sure, a few may come back to haunt us." --Yes. If by 'haunt', you mean 'hunt'. And 'kill'. And if by 'us', you also mean the soldiers who have had to fight released detainees for a second time.

"But at least they won't be able to take advantage of Guantanamo as an engine of recruitment to enlist thousands more."-- Are we talking jihadists here, Tom--or Democrats?

"I would rather have a few more bad guys roaming the world than a whole new generation."--Fighting terrorists does not cause terrorists. Period. But catering to them and providing them talking points might. Nor are jihadists beheading Thai school-teachers because of their support for Israel.

But Freidman does nail this one in a more recent column:

"The Muslim village has been derelict in condemning the madness of jihadist attacks. When Salman Rushdie wrote a controversial novel involving the prophet Muhammad, he was sentenced to death by the leader of Iran. To this day - to this day - no major Muslim cleric or religious body has ever issued a fatwa condemning Osama bin Laden."

Indeed. Who is more heretical--Rushdie, who wrote a book, or bin Laden who has murdered thousands of Muslim men, women and children in the name of Allah? Show me the fatwa.

With apologies to patriotic Southerners, if this is a Civil War between two kinds of Islam, the Yankees had better get off their asses and start fighting. And the Copperhead multi-culturalists had better stop their molly-coddling & greivance-mongering. In fact, the analogy is apt--there are no more patriotic Americans than Southerners. That must also become true of Muslims in the West.

Islam may have its place. But Islamism has none. It is the worst of the ancient world mixed with the worst of the modern world.

And we don't do 'isms'. Sorry.

Not really.

The Human Touch 

Here is the truest thing you'll read on the web today.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Beltway Robe-ery 


And as usual, Huffington's Toast has the story first.

Saturday, July 16, 2005

A Real Hollywood Hero 

From Reagan's War: The Epic Story of His Forty Year Struggle and Final Triumph Over Communism by Peter Schweizer

"Herb Sorrell had come up the hard way, beginning work at the age of 12, laboring in an Oakland sewer-pipe factory for 11 hours a day. He had cut his teeth in the Bay Area labor movement under the leadership of Harry Bridges, the wiry leader of the International Longshoremen's and Warehousemen's Union. Bridges, according to Soviet archives, was also a secret member of the Communist Party and a regular contact for Soviet intelligence.

Sorrell had joined the party in the 1930s, and under Bridges' guidance he had led two violent strikes in the Bay Area. Both strikes, he later admitted, were secretly funded by the Communists, and this time he was secretly receiving money from the National Executive Council of the Communist Party. Sorrell was a member of more than 20 Communist Party front organizations and had pushed hard for the American Federation of Labor to affiliate with the Soviet-run World Federation of Trade Unions. (AFL leaders refused on the grounds that it was simply a front group.)

The studio strike Sorrell organized in 1946 was no ordinary labor action. It was ostensibly called because of worker concerns, but Sorrell saw it as an opportunity to gain control over all the major unions in Hollywood. As he bragged in the early days of the action, "When it ends up, there'll be only one man running labor in Hollywood, and that man will be me!"

The stakes were high. If Sorrell succeeded, the Communists believed, they could run Hollywood. As the party newspaper the People's Daily World put it candidly, "Hollywood is often called the land of Make-Believe, but there is nothing make-believe about the Battle of Hollywood being waged today. In the front lines of this battle, at the studio gates, stand the thousands of locked-out film workers; behind the studio gates sit the overlords of Hollywood, [who] refuse even to negotiate with the workers. ... The prize will be the complete control of the greatest medium of communication in history." To underscore the value of this victory, the paper quoted Lenin: "Of all the arts, the cinema is the most important."

The Communist Party had been active in Hollywood since 1935, when a secret directive was issued by CPUSA (Communist Party of the U.S.A.) headquarters in New York calling for the infiltration of Hollywood's labor unions. The party believed that by doing so they could influence the type of pictures being produced. The directive also instructed party members to take leadership positions in the so-called intellectual groups in Hollywood, which were composed of directors, writers and performers.

To carry out the plan, CPUSA sent party activist Stanley Lawrence, a tall, bespectacled ex-cabdriver. Quietly and methodically he began developing secret cells that included Hollywood performers, writers and technicians. His actions were handled with great sensitivity.

Lawrence reported directly to party headquarters in New York, which in turn reported its activities to officials in Moscow. There, Comintern boss Willie Muenzenberg declared, "One of the most pressing tasks confronting the Communist Party in the field of propaganda is the conquest of this supremely important propaganda unit, until now the monopoly of the ruling class. We must wrest it from them and turn it against them."

By the end of the Second World War, party membership in Hollywood was close to 600 and boasted several industry heavyweights. Actors Lloyd Bridges, Edward G. Robinson and Fredric March were members, as were half a dozen producers and about as many directors.

Some had joined the party because they thought it might be fun. Actor Lionel Stander encouraged his friends to become members because "you will make out more with the dames." Others who were perhaps interested in the ideas of Marx and Lenin were nonetheless gentle in their advocacy.

"Please explain Marxism to me," Sam Goldwyn once asked Communist Ella Winter at a dinner party.

"Oh, not over this lovely steak."

But many of the party members were militants, and through hard work they had managed to take over leadership positions in the Screenwriters Guild, the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) and various intellectual and cultural groups. Their level of control and influence far outweighed their numbers. It was a classic case of hard work and determined organizing.

"All over town the industrious communist tail wagged the lazy liberal dog," declared director Philip Dunne, whose credits included "Count of Monte Cristo," "Last of the Mohicans" and "Three Men."

That industriousness came out of a militancy that stunned many in Hollywood. Screenwriter John Howard Lawson had a booming voice and could often be seen berating those who might oppose the party by smashing his fist into his open palm. The natural reaction of many was to simply be quiet and avoid being throttled.

"The important thing is that you should not argue with them," said writer F. Scott Fitzgerald, who spent time in Hollywood writing for movies such as "Winter Carnival." "Whatever you say they have ways of twisting it into shapes which put you in some lower category of mankind – 'Liberal,' 'Trotskyist' – and disparage you both intellectually and personally in the process."

Reagan had his first taste of this a few months before the strike, when he was serving on the executive committee of the Hollywood Independent Citizens Committee of Arts, Sciences and Professions (HICCASP), which he had joined in 1944. The group boasted a membership roll including Frank Sinatra, Orson Welles and Katharine Hepburn. It was what they called a "brainy group," too, with Albert Einstein and Max Weber lending their name to the organization. It was the usual liberal/left Hollywood cultural group, concerned about atomic weapons, the resurgence of fascism and the burgeoning Cold War. But some were concerned by what they saw as its regular and consistent support for the Soviet position on international issues.

Historian Arthur Schlesinger Jr. declared in Life magazine that he believed it was a Communist front, an organization in which "its celebrities maintained their membership but not their vigilance."

Stung by this criticism, a small group within HICCASP, including RKO executive Dore Schary, actress Olivia de Havilland, and FDR's son James Roosevelt, decided to put their fellow members to the test. At the July 2, 1946, meeting, Roosevelt noted that HICCASP had many times issued statements denouncing fascism. Why not issue a statement repudiating communism? Surely that would demonstrate that the organization was not wholly communist.

Reagan rose quickly and offered his support for the resolution, and a furious verbal battle quickly erupted. Musician Artie Shaw stood up and declared that the Soviet Union was more democratic than the United States and offered to recite the Soviet constitution to prove it. Writer Dalton Trumbo stood up and denounced the resolution as wicked. When Reagan tried to respond, John Howard Lawson waved a menacing finger in his face and told him to watch it. Reagan and the others in his group resigned from the organization.

Sorrell gathered his resources for the fight. Along with financial support from the Communist Party, he also could count on help from Vincente Lombardo Toledano, head of Mexico's largest union and described in Soviet intelligence files as an agent. The slender, well-dressed and poised young lawyer was one of Moscow's most trusted agents in Mexico, regularly putting his resources behind Sorrell, providing money while pressuring Mexican film industry executives not to process any film from Hollywood as a show of solidarity. He also appeared at a rally in Hollywood to encourage the strikers.

Herb Sorrell had promised violence if he didn't get his way in the studio strike, and it didn't take him long to deliver. Led by his "sluggers," strikers smashed windshields on passing trains and threw rocks at the police. One studio employee went to the hospital after acid was thrown in his face. When the police tried to break up the melee, things got even worse. As actor Kirk Douglas remembered it, "Thousands of people fought in the middle of the street with knives, clubs, battery cables, brass knuckles and chains."

Sorrell and his allies wanted to shut down the studios entirely, so anyone who crossed the picket line became a target of violence. Jack Warner insisted on keeping up production, and the studio remained open. To avoid injury, workers, including stars who were shooting movies, were forced to sneak into the studio lot through a storm drain that led from the Los Angeles River.

Reagan, getting ready to start production on "Night Unto Night," was furious about the violence. And unlike his approach to the little battle with the Communists in HICCASP, he was not in a mood to retreat.

Blaney Matthews, the giant-sized head of security at Warner Brothers, had seen this sort of violent strike before. He advised Reagan and other stars to use the storm drain to get onto the lot safely. Reagan flat-out refused. If he was going to cross the picket line, he was going to cross the picket line, he told Matthews.

Matthews then arranged for buses to shuttle Reagan and a few others through the human gauntlet outside the studio gate. But he offered a bit of advice: Lie down on the floor, or you might get hit by a flying Coke bottle or rock. Again, Reagan refused. Over the next several days, as he went to the studio lot to attend preproduction meetings, a bus would pass through the human throng of violent picketers, with a solitary figure seated upright inside." ...............

What were those air-traffic controllers thinking?

Saturday, July 09, 2005

It Rises to the Level of Moral Duty 


to visit Steyn Online and purchase one or more of Mark Steyn's books, including 'The Face of the Tiger' and 'Mark Steyn From Head to Toe'. The man simply must be rewarded for writing and assembling in one place columns such as this:

"Of course, many resources had been redeployed to Scotland to cope with Bob Geldof's pathetic call for a million anti-globalist ninnies to descend on the G8 summit. In theory, the anti-glob mob should be furious with al-Qa'eda and its political tin ear for ensuring that their own pitiful narcissist protests - the pâpier-maché Bush and Blair puppets, the ethnic drumming, etc - will be crowded off the news bulletins.

But I wonder. It seems just as plausible that there will be as many supple self-deluding figures anxious to argue that it's Blair's Iraq war and the undue attention it invites from excitable types that's preventing us from ending poverty in Africa by the end of next week and all the other touchy-feely stuff. The siren songs of Bono and Geldof will be working hard in favour of the quiet-life option. There is an important rhetorical battle to be won in the days ahead. The choice for Britons now is whether they wish to be Australians post-Bali or Spaniards post-Madrid.

That shouldn't be a tough call. But it's easy to stand before a news camera and sonorously declare that "the British people will never surrender to terrorism". What would you call giving IRA frontmen offices at Westminster? It's the target that decides whether terror wins - and in the end, for all the bombings, the British people and their political leaders decided they preferred to regard the IRA as a peripheral nuisance which a few concessions could push to the fringe of their concerns.

They thought the same in the 1930s - back when Czechoslovakia was "a faraway country of which we know little". Today, the faraway country of which the British know little is Britain itself. Traditional terrorists - the IRA, ETA - operate close to home. Islamism projects itself long-range to any point of the planet with an ease most G8 militaries can't manage. Small cells operate in the nooks and crannies of a free society while the political class seems all but unaware of their existence." .........

Or this:

"...Last week, in two rulings, the Supreme Court decided that (a) displays of the Ten Commandments are constitutional and (b) displays of the Ten Commandments are unconstitutional.

Don't worry: All nine judges aren't that wacky, just the deciding vote in both 5-4 decisions. That belonged to Stephen Breyer, who nixed the Ten Commandments in Kentucky but gave 'em two thumbs up in Texas. His grounds for doing so were that the Texas Commandments had been there 40 years and were thus part of ''a broader moral and historical message reflective of a cultural heritage,'' whereas the Kentucky Commandments were newer and "a more contemporary state effort to focus attention upon a religious text is certainly likely to prove divisive.''

Really? Not as "certainly likely" to prove divisive as grandfathering the display of some Commandments but not others, so that the only way to be sure yours is constitutional is to sue over it. For one thing, Justice Breyer didn't identify the year in which he believes the Commandments ceased to be constitutional. Nineteen-sixty-eight? Nineteen-seventy-three? Maybe a sliding scale? If you put up the Commandments before 1965, you can have all Ten; between 1966 and 1979, you can have six firm Commandments plus a couple of strong recommendations; from 1980 to 1991, it's two Commandments and half a dozen lifestyle tips?" [...]

North of Weare, by the way, many Granite State municipalities face problems with land that generates even less revenue than David Souter's. In small North Country towns like Warren, for example, half the land belongs to the White Mountain National Forest, and thus is off the tax rolls. Can the Select Board of Warren force the federal government to make way for a logging camp? Or even for a rusting doublewide for David Souter once he's booted out of Weare?" .........

There's really too much Steyn-ly Goodness to choose from, so go have a look for yourself.

In keeping with our theme of Anglophilia however, I wanted to link to a post Mr. Steyn wrote some time ago. While I can no longer locate the original link, thanks to Al Gore's wonderful Internerd machine invention I found these excerpts archived at two great blogs, Just Some Poor Schmuck and Common Sense and Wonder:

"That great thinker Sheryl Crow declared the other day: "War is based in greed and there are huge karmic retributions that will follow. I think war is never the answer to solving any problems. The best way to solve problems is to not have enemies."

In the Falklands, war solved a lot of problems. For 20 years, the islanders have lived in peace and freedom. So, in their own chaotic Latin fashion, have the liberated peoples of Argentina and most of the rest of the continent. If the best way to solve problems is not to have enemies, then the best way not to have enemies is to get rid of them. Thank you, Mrs. Thatcher. Rest in peace, General Galtieri, wherever you are. [...]

General Galtieri spent the last 20 years telling his dwindling circle of acquaintances that it never occurred to him the British would fight back. Who can blame him? In the Seventies, the map looked very different. The Soviets held half of Europe, had neutered most of the rest, and were advancing in every corner of the globe, from Afghanistan to Ethiopia to Grenada. The West never roused itself, except occasionally to co-operate: Cuban troops were in Africa, and Pierre Trudeau's contribution to the Cold War was to allow Castro's military aircraft to refuel in Canada. America had been humbled in Vietnam and humiliated in Iran, where the smiling eunuch Carter had allowed a superpower to be turned into a laughingstock, with cocky mullahs poking the corpses of U.S. servicemen on TV.

So why would General Galtieri have had any qualms about seizing the Falklands? Yes, it was British "sovereign territory," but the American Embassy in Teheran was U.S. "sovereign territory," and all the Peanut Peacenik had done was dither helplessly and then botch an ill-thought-out rescue mission. Why would the toothless, arthritic British lion be any different? [...]

Well, the sources were wrong. Mrs. Thatcher liberated not just the Falklands, but also Argentina, at least from the military. Galtieri fell and democracy returned. The "humiliating defeat" of the junta tainted all the other puffed-up bemedalled tinpots by implication. And, whatever the problems of Latin America today, no one's pining for the return of the generals. Twenty years ago, the realpolitik crowd thought a democratic South America was a fantasy and that we had to cosy up to the strutting little El Presidentes-for-Life. Today, the same stability junkies tell us we have to do the same with Boy Assad and Co. They're wrong again. They always are." ...........

UPDATE: Don't miss this one, either:

"While the Bush administration and most of the rest of the country were focused on Afghanistan and Iraq, Ground Zero in New York got snaffled up for something called the ‘World Trade Center Memorial’. An unexceptional name that would lead you to expect ...what? The names of the dead? A tribute to the courageous firemen who died in their hundreds heading up the stairwells and into the flames? A recreation of the iconic image of the three rescue workers raising the flag and evoking Iwo Jima?

But somehow the World Trade Center Memorial Cultural Complex has wound up mostly in the hands of something called the ‘International Freedom Center’, on whom millions of taxpayers’ dollars have been lavished in return for a display that will place the events that took place on that ground in the ‘broader context’ of Native American genocide, black lynchings, Pinochet, the Holocaust, not to mention Gitmo and Abu Ghraib. Most Americans were unaware of this amazing heist until Debra Burlingame, a member of the board of the World Trade Center Memorial Foundation and sister of the pilot of one of the hijacked planes, revealed the extent of the subversion. [...]

According to the International Freedom Center, the cultural centre will ‘nurture a global conversation on freedom in our world today’. In other words, Ground Zero is going to be turned into what the columnist Michelle Malkin calls the Ultimate Guilt Complex. Thus, early plans for a mural showing an Iraqi going to the polls were ditched in favour of a picture of Martin Luther King. Nothing wrong with folks learning about civil rights and Pinochet’s victims, but not at the site of the bloodiest attack on the American mainland." ............

Wars are fought, not just with air-wings and G.I.s, but with words and ideas. We're fortunate Mr. Steyn is on our side.

"...Came Carthage Riding on the Sea" 

"There is something we all know which can only be rendered, in an appropriate language, as realpolitik. As a matter of fact, it is an almost insanely unreal politik. It is always stubbornly and stupidly repeating that men fight for material ends, without reflecting for a moment that the material ends are hardly ever material to the men who fight. In any case no man will die for practical politics, just as no man will die for pay. Nero could not hire a hundred Christians to be eaten by lions at a shilling an hour; for men will not be martyred for money. But the vision called up by real politik, or realistic politics, is beyond example crazy and incredible. Does anybody in the world believe that a soldier says, 'My leg is nearly dropping off, but I shall go on till it drops; for after all I shall enjoy all the advantages of my government obtaining a warm-water port in the Gulf of Finland.' Can anybody suppose that a clerk turned conscript says, 'If I am gassed I shall probably die in torments, but it is a comfort to reflect that should I ever decide to become a pearl-diver in the South Seas, that career is now open to me and my countrymen.' Materialist history is the most madly incredible of all histories, or even of all romances. Whatever starts wars, the thing that sustains wars is something in the soul; that is something akin to religion. It is what men feel about life and about death. A man near to death is dealing directly with an absolute; it is nonsense to say he is concerned only with relative and remote complications that death in any case will end. If he is sustained by certain loyalties, they must be loyalties as simple as death. They are generally two ideas, which are only two sides of one idea. The first is the love of something said to be threatened, if it be only vaguely known as home; the second is dislike and defiance of some strange thing that threatens it. The first is far more philosophical than it sounds, though we need not discuss it here. A man does not want his national home destroyed or even changed, because he cannot even remember all the good things that go with it; just as he does not want his house burnt down, because he can hardly count all the things he would miss. Therefore he fights for what sounds like a hazy abstraction, but is really a house. But the negative side of it is quite as noble as well as quite as strong. Men fight hardest when they feel that the foe is at once an old enemy and an eternal stranger, that his atmosphere is alien and antagonistic, as the French feel about the Prussian or the Eastern Christians about the Turk. If we say it is a difference of religion, people will drift into dreary bickerings about sects and dogmas. We will pity them and say it is a difference about death and daylight; a difference that does really come like a dark shadow between our eyes and the day. Men can think of this difference even at the point of death; for it is a difference about the meaning of life."

"Men are moved in these things by something far higher and holier than policy; by hatred. When men hung on in the darkest days of the Great War, suffering either in their bodies or in their souls for those they loved, they were long past caring about details of diplomatic objects as motives for their refusal to surrender. Of myself and those I knew best I can answer for the vision that made surrender impossible. It was the vision of the German Emperor's face as he rode into Paris. This is not the sentiment which some of my idealistic friends describe as Love. I am quite content to call it hatred; the hatred of hell and all its works, and to agree that as they do not believe in hell they need not believe in hatred. But in the face of this prevalent prejudice, this long introduction has been unfortunately necessary, to ensure an understanding of what is meant by a religious war. There is a religious war when two worlds meet; that is when two visions of the world meet; or in more modern language when two moral atmospheres meet. What is the one man's breath is the other man's poison; and it is vain to talk of giving a pestilence a place in the sun. And this is what we must understand, even at the expense of digression, if we would see what really happened in the Mediterranean; when right athwart the rising of the Republic on the Tiber, a thing overtopping and disdaining it, dark with all the riddles of Asia and trailing all the tribes and dependencies of imperialism, came Carthage riding on the sea." -- G.K. Chesterton, 'The Everlasting Man'

Better An Iron Lady 


"...The tacit assumption made by British and foreign governments alike was that our world role was doomed steadily to diminish. We had come to be seen by both friends and enemies as a nation which lacked the will and the capability to defend its interests in peace, let alone in war. Victory in the Falklands changed that. Everywhere I went after the war, Britain's name meant something more than it had. The war also had real importance in relations between East and West: years later I was told by a Russian general that the Soviets had been firmly convinced that we would not fight for the Falklands, and that if we did fight we would lose. We proved them wrong on both counts, and they did not forget the fact." [...]

"...I shall not forget that Wednesday evening. I was working in my room at the House of Commons when I was told that John Nott wanted an immediate meeting to discuss the Falklands. I called people together. In Peter Carrington's absence Humphrey Atkins and Richard Luce attended from the Foreign Office, with FCO and MOD officials. (The Chief of Defence Staff [Sir Terence Lewin ] was also away, in New Zealand). John was alarmed. He had just received intelligence that the Argentinian Fleet, already at sea, looked as if they were going to invade the Islands on Friday 2nd April. There was no ground to question the intelligence. John gave the MOD's view that the Falklands could not be retaken once they were seized. This was terrible, and totally unacceptable. I could not believe it: these were our people, our islands. I said instantly: "if they are invaded, we have got to get them back". "

"At this dark moment comedy intervened. The Chief of the Naval Staff, Sir Henry Leach was in civilian dress, and on his way to the meeting had been detained by the police in the Central Lobby of the House of Commons. He had to be rescued by a whip. When he finally arrived, I asked him what we could do. He was quiet, calm and confident: "I can put together a Task Force of destroyers, frigates, landing craft, support vessels. It will be led by the aircraft carriers HMS Hermes and HMS Invincible. It can be ready to leave in forty- eight hours". He believed such a force could retake the islands. All he needed was my authority to begin to assemble it. I gave it him, and he left immediately to set the work in hand. We reserved for Cabinet the decision as to whether and when the Task Force should sail."

"Before this, I had been outraged and determined. Now my outrage and determination were matched by a sense of relief and confidence. Henry Leach had shown me that if it came to a fight the courage and professionalism of Britain's armed forces would win through. It was my job as Prime Minister to see that they got the political support they needed. But first we had to do everything possible to prevent the appalling tragedy, if it was still humanly possible to do so." [...]

"One particular aspect of this problem, though, does rate a mention. We decided to allow defence correspondents on the ships who reported back during the long journey. Some of them behaved more professionally than others. There were several incidents of the BBC reporting particularly sensitive military matters in ways which put our forces at risk. I was also very unhappy at the attempted "even-handedness" of some of the comment, and the chilling use of the third-person - talk of "the British" and "the Argentinians" on our news programmes."

"It was also on Friday 2nd April that I received advice from the Foreign Office which summed up the flexibility of principle characteristic of that Department. I was presented with the dangers of a backlash against the British expatriates in Argentina, problems about getting support in the UN Security Council, the lack of reliance we could place on the European Community or the United States, the risk of the Soviets becoming involved, the disadvantage of being looked at as a colonial power. All the considerations were fair enough. But when you are at war you cannot allow the difficulties to dominate your thinking: you have to set out with an iron will to overcome them. And anyway what was the alternative? That a common or garden dictator should rule over the Queen's subjects and prevail by fraud and violence? Not while I was Prime Minister." --Lady Margaret Thatcher, ' The Downing Street Years'.

It's a Funny World 


I've now forgiven Christopher Hitchens for his tasteless remarks made during Ronald Reagan's funeral. To paraphrase Lincoln, that brave man's legacy is far above our poor power to add or detract. So with malice towards the enemy and charity towards Mr. Hitchens, let's proceed.

It's funny to say it--and he'd be the first to deny it--but Hitch has, in his way, BECOME Ronald Reagan. Oh, not just in his defense of civilization, but in a personal way as well. Here, he takes on Reagan's job as a father and delivers a very public and overdue spanking to a petulant Ron Reagan, Jr.:

Jr.: " Christopher, I'm not sure that I buy the idea that these attacks are a sign that we're actually winning the war on terror. I mean, how many more victories like this do we really want to endure?"

Hitch: "Well, it depends on how you think it started, sir. I mean, these movements had taken over Afghanistan, had very nearly taken over Algeria, in a extremely bloody war which actually was eventually won by Algerian society. They had sent death squads to try and kill my friend Salman Rushdie, for the offense of writing a novel in England. They had sent death squads to Austria and Germany, the Iranians had, for example, to try and kill Kurdish Muslim leaders there. If you make the mistake that I thought I heard you making just before we came on the air, of attributing rationality or a motive to this, and to say that it's about anything but itself, you make a great mistake, and you end up where you ended up, saying that the cause of terrorism is fighting against it, the root cause, I mean. Now, you even said, extraordinarily to me, that there was no terrorist problem in Iraq before 2003. Do you know nothing about the subject at all? Do you wonder how Mr. Zarqawi got there under the rule of Saddam Hussein? Have you ever heard of Abu Nidal?"

Jr.: "Well, I'm following the lead of the 9/11 Commission, which..."

Hitch: "Have you ever heard of Abu Nidal, the most wanted man in the world, who was sheltered in Baghdad? The man who pushed Leon Klinghoffer off the boat, was sheltered by Saddam Hussein. The man who blew up the World Trade Center in 1993 was sheltered by Saddam Hussein, and you have the nerve to say that terrorism is caused by resisting it? And by deposing governments that endorse it?"

Jr.: "No, actually, I didn't say that, Christopher."

Hitch: "At this stage, after what happened in London yesterday?"

Jr.: "What I did say, though, was that Iraq was not a center of terrorism before we went in there, but it might be now."

Hitch: "How can you know so little about..."

Jr.: "You can make the claim that you just made about any other country in the Middle East, including Saudi Arabia.

Hitch: "Absolutely nonsense."

Jr.: "So do you think we ought to invade Saudi Arabia, where most of the hijackers from 9/11 came from, following your logic, Christopher?"

Hitch: "Uh, no. Excuse me. The hijackers may have been Saudi and Yemeni, but they were not envoys of the Saudi Arabian government, even when you said the worst..."

Jr.: "Zarqawi is not an envoy of Saddam Hussein, either."

Hitch: "Excuse me. When I went to interview Abu Nidal, then the most wanted terrorist in the world, in Baghdad, he was operating out of an Iraqi government office. He was an arm of the Iraqi State, while being the most wanted man in the world. The same is true of the shelter and safe house offered by the Iraqi government, to the murderers of Leon Klinghoffer, and to Mr. Yassin, who mixed the chemicals for the World Trade Center bombing in 1993. How can you know so little about this, and be occupying a chair at the time that you do?"

Jr.: "I guess because I listen to the 9/11 Commission, and read their report, and they said that Saddam Hussein was not exporting terror. I suppose that's how, Christopher."

Hitch: "Well, then they were wrong, weren't they?"

Jr.: "No, maybe they just needed to listen to you, Christopher."

Hitch: "Well, I'm not sure that they actually did say that. What they did say was they didn't know of any actual operational connection [on Sept. 11]...

Jr.: "That's right. No substantive operational connection."

Hitch: "...which was the Iraqi Baath Party and...excuse me...and Al Qaeda. A direct operational connection. Now, that's because they don't know. They don't say there isn't one. They say they couldn't find one. But I just gave you [a] number, I would have thought, [of] rather suggestive examples."

Jr.: "I don't have to listen to you--you're not the boss of me!"

Hitch: "Bend over, son; this is going to hurt me more than it's going to hurt you, young man."

Jr. "Mom! MOM!!..."

Okay, okay; IMTLPU. Sorta'.

By the way, for those who keep track of these sorts of things, that was Lesson # 39,569 For The Mainstream Media Which They Will Ignore Just Like The Previous 39,568 Lessons:

"Never send a intellectually-adolescent failed ballet dancer to do battle with Christopher Hitchens."

The Lion of the Left is in full roar here:

"...We know very well what the "grievances" of the jihadists are.

The grievance of seeing unveiled women. The grievance of the existence, not of the State of Israel, but of the Jewish people. The grievance of the heresy of democracy, which impedes the imposition of sharia law. The grievance of a work of fiction written by an Indian living in London. The grievance of the existence of black African Muslim farmers, who won't abandon lands in Darfur. The grievance of the existence of homosexuals. The grievance of music, and of most representational art. The grievance of the existence of Hinduism. The grievance of East Timor's liberation from Indonesian rule. All of these have been proclaimed as a licence to kill infidels or apostates, or anyone who just gets in the way.

For a few moments yesterday, Londoners received a taste of what life is like for the people of Iraq and Afghanistan, whose Muslim faith does not protect them from slaughter at the hands of those who think they are not Muslim enough, or are the wrong Muslim.

It is a big mistake to believe this is an assault on "our" values or "our" way of life. It is, rather, an assault on all civilisation. I know perfectly well there are people thinking, and even saying, that Tony Blair brought this upon us by his alliance with George Bush.

A word of advice to them: try and keep it down, will you? Or wait at least until the funerals are over. And beware of the non-sequitur: you can be as opposed to the Iraq operation as much as you like, but you can't get from that "grievance" to the detonating of explosives at rush hour on London buses and tubes.

Don't even try to connect the two. By George Galloway's logic, British squaddies in Iraq are the root cause of dead bodies at home. How can anyone bear to be so wicked and stupid? How can anyone bear to act as a megaphone for psychotic killers?

The grievances I listed above are unappeasable, one of many reasons why the jihadists will lose.

They demand the impossible - the cessation of all life in favour of prostration before a totalitarian vision. Plainly, we cannot surrender. There is no one with whom to negotiate, let alone capitulate.

We shall track down those responsible. States that shelter them will know no peace. Communities that shelter them do not take forever to discover their mistake. And their sordid love of death is as nothing compared to our love of London, which we will defend as always, and which will survive this with ease." ...............

Hear, hear, sir.

Ronald Reagan began his political life as a full-throated New Deal Liberal. But even then he noticed cracks in the facade; how men began to refuse honest work because it would cut into their benefits and how the 90% tax rates discouraged actors from working. Did you know that Reagan worked to stop the Klan from taking root in California? Or how he opposed nuclear weapons--a lonely position in 1945? Ronald Reagan...anti-nuke activist! Then came his legendary battles with Hollywood Communists. Then, the Soviet Communists. He came to realize that civilized people could have no truck with those totalitarian bastards. Hello, Hitch.

(It's worth noting that although we've called them a 12th- or even 7th-Century Death Cult, our enemy is in many ways too modern; that is, having absorbed the toxic nihlism of all the 20th Century's poisonous "ism's". It's worth noting--before we kill them.)

Almost alone on the Left, Hitchens seems to have realized that this is THE Civil Rights Moment of a Century. And most of the Left has chosen to sit it out...or worse, actively obstruct it. All because it involves the defense of the West, the projection of American power and worst of all, it's happening under a Republican president--Oh, the Humanity!

Now we've decided to bring civil rights to the Muslim world as a way of ensuring our own civil rights. To paraphrase Lincoln again, our shrinking world is a house divided. It should become one thing--not in the sense of One World Government, or even little Americas everywhere, but in that people must be free to pursue real civil rights in their own societies. Our own security demands it. I do not claim pure altruism. First and foremost, this is about the civil rights of Americans and other Westerners. But that national interest does not change the fact.

You see, when those 50-some Londoners were blown to bits the other day--and try and stay with me here, Sen. Durbin--THAT WAS A VIOLATION OF THEIR MOST FUNDAMENTAL RIGHTS. Yes--it's true, Senator! There are other civil rights violations in the world besides those of mad bombers exposed repetitively to American pop music! Hell, American teen-agers VOLUNTEER for that kind of treatment! We treat 'Fear Factor' contestants worse than we treat these psychopaths.

This may even be about the "civil rights" of detainees--in the sense that released Guantanamo sadists may well have perpetrated this hellish abomination. Does your heart still bleed, Senator--while other hearts do so literally?

Hitch, the pre-eminent Man of the Left, has gone where none of his colleagues dare tread. Their intellectual and moral bankruptcy have sent them into self-imposed exile from what Churchill --yet another former Liberal--called "the broad, sunlit uplands" of freedom:

"I expect that the battle of Britain is about to begin. Upon this battle depends the survival of Christian civilisation. Upon it depends our own British life, and the long continuity of our institutions and our Empire. The whole fury and might of the enemy must very soon be turned on us. [The enemy] knows that he will have to break us in this island or lose the war. If we can stand up to him, all Europe may be free and the life of the world may move forward into broad, sunlit uplands. But if we fail, then the whole world, including the United States, including all that we have known and cared for, will sink into the abyss of a new Dark Age made more sinister, and perhaps more protracted, by the lights of perverted science. Let us therefore brace ourselves to our duties, and so bear ourselves, that if the British Empire and its Commonwealth last for a thousand years, men will still say, 'This was their finest hour.'"

Hitch, in ways both philosophical and rhetorical, has taken up the mantle of Churchill. Of Orwell, certainly. Of Thatcher, even. And of Lincoln.

And, yes, that of Ronald Reagan as well. As must we all.

Like I said; It's a funny world.

(Hat-tips: Red State, Baldilocks & Radio Blogger)

Thursday, July 07, 2005

London, Galling 

Our deepest sympathies--and prayers--go to the British people today.

These attacks bring to mind several things. The way the Spanish responded to the Madrid Bombings by emasculating themselves. The Left's sympathy for the killers; should these murderers be caught, will we hear about air-conditioning and demands for fresh-ground pepper only on the Lemon-Pepper Fish? Yes.

But this also comes to mind:

"A Tonic for Today " by Winston S. Churchill, July 14, 1941.

(edited slightly by The Churchill Centre to eliminate contemporaneous references.)

"The impressive and inspiring spectacle we have witnessed displays the vigour and efficiency of the civil defence forces. They have grown up in the stress of emergency. They have been shaped and tempered by the fire of the enemy, and we saw them all, in their many grades and classes- the wardens, the rescue and first-aid parties, the casualty services, the decontamination squads, the fire services, the report and control centre staffs, the highways and public utility services, the messengers, the police. No one could but feel how great a people, how great a nation we have the honour to belong to. How complex, sensitive, and resilient is the society we have evolved over the centuries, and how capable of withstanding the most unexpected strain."

"I must, however, admit that when the storm broke in September, I was for several weeks very anxious about the result. Sometimes the gas failed; sometimes the electricity. There were grievous complaints about the shelters and about conditions in them. Water was cut off, railways were cut or broken, large districts were destroyed, thousands were killed, and many more thousands were wounded. But there was one thing about which there was never any doubt. The courage, the unconquerable grit and stamina of our people, showed itself from the very outset. Without that all would have failed. Upon that rock, all stood unshakable. All the public services were carried on, and all the intricate arrangements, far-reaching details, involving the daily lives of so many millions, were carried out, improvised, elaborated, and perfected in the very teeth of the cruel and devastating storm."

"We have to ask ourselves this question: Will the bombing attacks come back again? We have proceeded on the assumption that they will. Many new arrangements are being contrived as a result of the hard experience through which we have passed and the many mistakes which no doubt we have made - for success is the result of making many mistakes and learning from experience. If the lull is to end, if the storm is to renew itself, we will be ready, will will not flinch, we can take it again."

"We ask no favours of the enemy. We seek from them no compunction. On the contrary, if tonight our people were asked to cast their vote whether a convention should be entered into to stop the bombing of cities, the overwhelming majority would cry, "No, we will mete out to them the measure, and more than the measure, that they have meted out to us." The people with one voice would say: "You have committed every crime under the sun. Where you have been the least resisted there you have been the most brutal. It was you who began the indiscriminate bombing. We will have no truce or parley with you, or the grisly gang who work your wicked will. You do your worst - and we will do our best." Perhaps it may be our turn soon; perhaps it may be our turn now."

"We live in a terrible epoch of the human story, but we believe there is a broad and sure justice running through its theme. It is time that the enemy should be made to suffer in their own homelands something of the torment they have let loose upon their neighbours and upon the world. We believe it to be in our power to keep this process going, on a steadily rising tide, month after month, year after year, until they are either extirpated by us or, better still, torn to pieces by their own people."

"It is for this reason that I must ask you to be prepared for vehement counter-action by the enemy. Our methods of dealing with them have steadily improved. They no longer relish their trips to our shores. I do not know why they do not come, but it is certainly not because they have begun to love us more. It may be because they are saving up, but even if that be so, the very fact that they have to save up should give us confidence by revealing the truth of our steady advance from an almost unarmed position to superiority. But all engaged in our defence forces must prepare themselves for further heavy assaults. Your organization, your vigilance, your devotion to duty, your zeal for the cause must be raised to the highest intensity."

"We do not expect to hit without being hit back, and we intend with every week that passes to hit harder. Prepare yourselves, then, my friends and comrades, for this renewal of your exertions. We shall never turn from our purpose, however sombre the road, however grievous the cost, because we know that out of this time of trial and tribulation will be born a new freedom and glory for all mankind."..............

That was from a time before Britain opened itself up to Muslims on a large scale under the demands of multi-culturalism. There were precious few political clubs preaching Nazism in England then, but there are too many hate-filled mosques preaching jihad in England today. And given the tide of militant secularism, would Britian grasp this today?:

Major Eric Wesley (United States Army):

"In a 1995 article, Mr. [Chuck] Colson cited the dramatic siege and ultimate loss of Dunkirk. He related, "As the British people waited anxiously, a three-word message was transmitted from the besieged army (in the doomed city): ‘And if not.’ The British recognized instantly what the message meant: ‘Even if we are not rescued from Hitler's army, we will stand strong and unbowed.’

The message galvanized the British people. Thousands of boats set out across the Channel in a gallant bid to rescue their army. And they succeeded. Nearly 350,000 British and Allied soldiers were saved from the advancing Germans.

‘But if not’ is found in the book of Daniel, where Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego defied Nebuchadnezzar, putting their trust in God. The point here is that these few words from Daniel were not only recognized, but, more importantly, they communicated with clarity a scripturally based message that cemented the British resolve."

London is not calling, but being called--by History.

Who Will Tell the President 


First of all, it sounds like Mr. Wilson shoo-ing Dennis the Menace off his lawn. Boomers still identify with Dennis even if they more & more resemble Mr. Wilson.

I know what President Bush means (someone "who will not legislate from the bench"), but the phrase is a little off-putting. And Justice Scalia has repudiated it:

"Textualism should not be confused with so-called strict constructionism, which is a degraded form of textualism that brings the whole philosophy into disrepute. I am not a strict constructionist, and no one ought to be--though better that, I suppose, than a nontextualist. A text should not be construed strictly, and it should not be construed leniently; it should be construed reasonably, to contain all that it fairly means." --"Common Law Courts in a Civil Law System."

So what could replace the phrase 'strict constructionist'?

'Reasonable Textualist' ? No...too intellectual. 'Originalist'? Better, but it has it's own baggage. Al Gore, for example, dishonestly tried to tie modern originalists to the '3/5ths of a person' clause of the unamended original Constitution. I like the phrase "the Actual Constitution" (as opposed to The Night of the "Living Constitution"), but "Actualist" is too obscure.

Here's my suggestion: " an honest Constitutionalist--someone who will honor the Constitution and not re-invent it."
Thoughts, anyone?

Anyway, here's a great essay by Justice Scalia:

By Associate Justice Antonin Scalia

"What is the function of the courts of law? This is a matter of interest not to only judges and lawyers, but any intelligent American citizen, whether or not he or she is a philosopher. What do you think your judges are doing when they interpret the Constitution? It's sad to tell you that, after 200 years, there is no agreement on this rather fundamental question: What is the purpose of the enterprise of judicial interpretation?

I belong to a school, a small but hardy school, called "textualists," or "originalists." That school used to be "constitutional orthodoxy" in the United States.

The theory of originalism treats a constitution like a statute, giving the constitution the meaning that its words were understood to bear at the time they were promulgated.

You will sometimes hear it described as the theory of original intent. You will never hear me refer to original intent, because I am first of all a textualist, and secondly an original- ist. If you are a textualist, you don't care about the intent, and I don't care if the Framers of the U.S. Constitution had some secret meaning in mind when they adopted its words. I take the words as they were promulgated to the people of the United States, and what is the fairly understood meaning of those words.

I do the same with statutes, by the way, which is why I don't use legislative history. The words are the law. I think that's what is meant by a government of laws, not of men. We are bound not by the intent of our legislators, but by the laws which they enacted, laws which are set forth in words, of course.

As I said, this view, until recently, was constitutional orthodoxy. Everyone at least said so. Everyone said that the Constitution was that anchor, that rock, that unchanging institution that forms the American polity. Immutability was regarded as its characteristic. What the Constitution meant when it was adopted is what it means today, and its mean- ing doesn't change just because we think that meaning is no longer adequate to our times. If the Constitution's meaning is inadequate, we can amend the document. That's why there's an amendment provision in the Constitution.

This theory of constitutional interpretation, again, was constitutional orthodoxy. When I say constitutional orthodoxy, I don't mean to say it’s just judges and lawyers who are concerned. Judges and lawyers are not very important. It's ultimately the American people who are concerned. What do the people think this document is, and what do they think it means?
That the people thought the way I think is demonstrated by the Nineteenth Amendment, adopted in 1920. That is the amendment which guaranteed women the right to vote. As you know, there was a national campaign of "suffragettes" to get this constitutional amendment adopted, a very big deal to get a constitutional amendment adopted. Why? Why did they go through all that trouble?

If people then thought the way people think now, there would have been no need to add the Nineteenth Amendment to the Constitution. In 1920, there was an equal protection clause, right there in the Constitution, in the Fourteenth Amendment. As an abstract matter, what in the world could be a greater denial of equal protection of the laws in a representative democracy than denial of the electoral franchise--the right to vote--to women or to any other group of adult citizens with sound minds. The suffragettes could just come to the court and say, "This is a denial of equal protection," and petition the U.S. Supreme Court to invalidate all state laws denying the franchise to women, to de- clare such laws to be violations of the Federal Constitution and therefore unconstitutional and null and void.

Why didn't the suffragetters take this course of action? Because they didn't think that way.

Equal protection could mean that everybody has to have the vote. It could mean that. It could mean a lot of things in the abstract. It could have meant that women must be sent into military combat, for example. It could have meant that we have to have unisex toilets in public buildings. But does it mean those things? Of course, it doesn't mean those things. It could have meant all those things. But it just never did. That was not its understood meaning. And since that was not its meaning in 1871, it's not its meaning today. The meaning doesn't change.

There have been a lot of reasons why you could deny the vote, not only on the basis of sex, but also on the basis of property ownership. On the basis of literacy. Denying the electoral suffrage on any or all of these bases was never regarded as a denial of equal protection. And since it never was, it isn't. That's how the people in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries thought. An amendment to the U.S. Constitution had to be drafted, proposed, and ratified in order to give women the right to vote.

Now you know that wouldn't happen today. You know that the issue today would be re- solved in the U.S. Supreme Court. People would come to the court and would say, "The equal protection clause should mean this, and therefore it does mean that. Never mind what it originally meant."

How much things have changed is reflected in our case law, most clearly in our Eighth Amendment jurisprudence. The Eighth Amendment prohibits cruel and unusual punish- ments. Some of our cases in recent years say that what constitutes cruel and unusual punishments depends on the age. What line of thought underlies the Eighth Amendment changes made and being made according to the phrase, "to reflect the evolving stand- ards of decency of a maturing society"? What does this phrase mean? The phrase, which is the one writers of Supreme Court majority opinions now use, means that every day, in every way, we get better and better.

Now, you know that Pollyanish attitude is not the attitude that is possessed by people who adopt a bill of rights. People who adopt a bill of rights know that societies not only evolve, they also rot. And they are worried that future generations may not have the integrity and wisdom that they do, so they say, "Some things we are going to freeze in, and they will not change."

But no, the contemporary generation does not see it that way, and will not have it that way. With all this development, away from originalism, that has occurred within the past forty years, we believe, the Supreme Court believes, and, worst of all, the American people believe, that, not only the Eighth Amendment, but the whole Bill of Rights, the whole Constitution, "reflects the evolving standards of decency of a maturing society." Or, to put it more simply, the Constitution means what it ought to mean. Not what it did mean, but what it ought to mean.

And so, what comes with all of this sophistry? All sorts of rights that clearly did not exist at the time of the adoption of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights exist today. It's plain absolutely plain, that the right to an abortion was not thought to exist in 1791 or at the time that the post-Civil War amendments were adopted, since there were laws against abortions in all the states. It's absolutely plain that there was no right to die, since there were laws against suicide. And you can go right down the list.

This is not, I caution you, a Liberal versus Conservative issue. Conservatives are fully as prepared as Liberals to create new rights under this evolutionist theory of the Constitution.

During its 1995-1996 term, the Supreme Court created a big brand new right that the Liberals like, when it held in Rohmer vs. Evans (1996) that a state could not, by state constitutional amendment, prohibit its local subunits from providing special treatment on the basis of homosexuality. Liberals like that one.

But during the same term, in fact within weeks of it, I believe, the Court also said that there is a federal constitutional right, which my copy of the U.S. Constitution doesn't reflect, not to have an excessive jury verdict. We struck down excessive punitive damages. Now there have been excessive jury verdicts for over 200 years. Nobody ever thought that it was a federal matter, that it violated the Federal Constitution. Punitive damages are no different in that respect from excessive compensatory damages.

So it's not Liberal/Conservative. It's the modernist view versus the traditional view of the Constitution. It should not be thought, although it is often argued, that this new way of looking at the Constitution is desirable because it promotes needed flexibility. That's the argument you sometimes hear. The argument is usually made in anthropomorphic terms, much like commentary on the part of people who talk about the stock market as resting for a new assault at the 4000 level. The modernists do the same thing with the Constitution. The argument is as follows:

"The Constitution is meant for a living society. If it could not grow and evolve with the society, it would become brittle and snap. You have to provide the flexibility."

This is a very plausible argument. It sounds wonderful, until you start to think, "Now, wait a minute. What is the real motive of these people who want to chuck away the old, original constitution? Is it really flexibility that they're looking for?"

What was the situation before Roe vs. Wade (1973)? If you wanted a right to an abortion, you had to create that right the way a constitutional democratic society creates most rights. You had to pass a law providing for and protecting that right. If you didn't want it, you had to pass a law against it.

The same was true of capital punishment. Existing law authorized capital punishment. If you wanted to abolish it, you needed to get a change in the law.

Regarding capital punishment, I have sat with three colleagues on the Supreme Court who think that capital punishment is unconstitutional, even though the Constitution men- tions capital punishment. The due process clause--a clause you're all familiar with--provides: "No person shall be deprived of life, liberty or property without due process of law..." What do you think the drafters of the clause were talking about? They were talking about the death penalty. And elsewhere in the Constitution, it says you shall not be sentenced for a capital crime without a grand jury indictment. What do think the drafters were talking about? They were talking about the death penalty, clearly approved in the text of the Constitution.

For the constitutional evolutionist, or modernist, it doesn't matter what the text of the Constitution says. For the modernist, everyday is a new day. And so, the death penalty, which might have been constitutional in the past, may very well be unconstitutional today. Now does that produce flexibility? Under the original disposition, if you wanted to have the death penalty, you enacted a law authorizing it. If you didn't want it, you re- pealed the law authorizing it. That's flexibility.

So, these people who go around talking about the need for growing and bending are uttering nonsense. What these people want is to impose a view of things on the whole society from coast to coast, and it is most quickly and most effectively done through the Constitution. And the easiest and quickest way to get something into the Constitution is to get it done via judicial interpretation. Rather than go the slow, difficult, and trouble- some route of getting a constitutional amendment drafted, formally proposed and ratified, persuade the highest court in the land to interpret the Constitution so broadly and loosely as to enable it read the desired policy into the Constitution

Now, there's several vices to a non-originalist approach to the text of the Constitution. The first and most important difficulty with it pertains to the question of legitimacy. The Constitution of the United States nowhere says that the Supreme Court shall be the last word on what the Constitution means, or that the Supreme Court shall have the authority to disregard statutes enacted by the Congress of the United States on the ground that, in the Court's view, the statutes do not comport with the Constitution. It doesn't say that anywhere the Constitution. We made it up.

Now, we made it up very sensibly, because we reasoned that "a constitution is a law, sort of a super-law." This is what Marbury vs. Madison (1803) said. And determining what the law means is the job of courts. They have to do this all the time. They have to say what the law means.

Courts frequently have to try to reconcile conflicting statutes, for example. In doing so, they have to interpret the statutes. If they cannot reconcile them, they simply say the more recent law prevails over the older law. And in the case of a "super-law" such as the Constitution, when the courts can't reconcile the law and the "super-law", the Constitution prevails. And, said John Marshall in Marbury vs. Madison, "That's what courts do. It is assuredly the function of the courts to say what the law is." It's lawyer's work.

But what happens if that is not what the Constitution is, if it is not a text, like a statute, which means what it meant when it was passed? What happens if the Constitution is, rather, a sort of an empty bottle that contains the aspirations of the society, just all sorts of wonderful aspirations, the precise content of which is quite indeterminate? Today, the Eighth Amendment ban against "cruel and unusual punishment" may mean the death penalty is ok, but tomorrow it won't mean that. "Due process of law," whatever that means will vary over time, the due process clauses in the Fifth and Fourteenth Amend- ments meaning one thing today and something else tomorrow. We're so in love with these abstractions, and, in the future, the Supreme Court shall decree for us what these abstractions mean. Now, if that's what the Constitution is, sort of a list of aspirations, not a real law, then Marbury v. Madison is wrong.

I'm not very good at determinating what the aspirations of the American people are. I am out of touch with the American people. I don't even try to be in touch. People mention movie stars and I don't know who they're talking about, and I get a blank look on my face. If you want somebody who's in touch with what are the evolving standards of decency that reflect a maturing society, ask the Congress to make the relevant decisions.

And of course that's the way it's done in the United Kingdom. The Parliament says what the English Constitution consists of.
So, if you really believe in the evolving theory, and you're right about this, then we made a mistake in Marbury v. Madison, and the Supreme Court shouldn't stick its nose into this stuff at all. It should be up to the Congress to determine where we evolve. What makes you think a committee of nine lawyers ought to tell where we're evolving to? I'm a philosophy minor, but I didn't train as a philosopher. I'm just a lawyer, just between you and me. That's what I'm really good at.

A second difficulty of the non-originalist approach is the lack of an objective standard to guide the courts in interpreting the Constitution and resolving constitutional controver- sies in cases brought before them for judgement and decision.

Originalism has a lot of problems. It’s not always easy to put into practice. Sometimes, it's very hard. Sometimes, it's awful hard to tell what the original meaning of the Constitution was. I'll acknowledge all of that. But the real problem is not whether it's the best thing in the world, but whether there's anything better. And what you have to ask the non-originalist law professor or whoever else is a non-originalist, "what do you propose?" What does a judge consult, if not the original understanding of the text? What binds the biases of judge? What prevents the judge from simply implementing his own prejudices? What is the standard? And the fact is, I have never heard of a non-textual standard that had a snowball's chance in hell of ever being adopted by more than two people.

If not the original understanding of the text of the Constitution, what are you going to use as a standard? The philosophy of Plato? Natural law? The philosophy of John Raule? Public opinion polls? What do you want to use? If you don't take the words of the Constitution and what they were originally understood to mean, what is the standard? The answer is, there isn't any standard.

So, imagine a court that is confronted with a constitution believed to be an empty bottle, and imagine how a case must be decided. For example, whether there's a right to die. Now, if you come to me in my capacity as a lawyer, I can look up all the relevant cases, which will tell me that, until recently, assisted suicide was criminal in all the states. Nobody thought that the state statutes criminalizing assisted suicide were unconstitutional. It was clearly understood there was no federal right to die. But if that doesn't matter, if every day is a new day, and we're talking about the evolving standards of decency of a maturing society, how does the court decide the case? There are no law books the judges on the court can consult.

You can imagine how the case must be decided: "Do you think there ought to be a right to die? How about you? Well, that's fine, there must be a right to die." So, the personal opinions and prejudices of the judges become the standard. What else are you going to use?

And, finally, I will mention the last deficiency of non-originalism. In the long run, non- originalism triumphant and rampant is the death knell of the Constitution. As I suggested earlier, the whole purpose of the Constitution is to prevent a future society from doing whatsoever it wants to do. To change, to evolve, you don't need a constitution. All you need is a legislature, as well as a ballot box. Things will change as fast as you want. You want to create new rights and/or destroy old ones? A legislature and the electoral franchise are all that you need. The only reason you need a constitution is because there are some things which you don't want a majority to be able to change.

That's my most important function as a judge in the American legal system. I have to tell the majority to take a hike. I tell them: "I don't care what you want. The Bill of Rights says you cannot do it."

Now, if there is no fixed absolute, if the Constitution evolves to mean what it ought to mean today, what makes you think the majority is going to leave it to judges to decide what the Constitution ought to mean? The people comprising the popular or legislative majority will do that only if they think the decisions of the courts will be supportive of their particular interests, values, and opinions. If there are no fixed legal standards, if the justices on the Supreme Court are supposed to tell us what are the evolving standards of decency that reflect a maturing society, a majority of the people and its political leadership will look for judges who agree with the majority as to what the Constitution means. And so we will have the absolutely crazy system in which we conduct a mini- plebiscite on the meaning of the Constitution every time we select a person to fill a vacancy on the Supreme Court.

Isn't that what's already happening? Does it make any sense?

I suggest that is the inevitable result a nation gets, when it abandons constitutional originalism and moves to a constitution that means what it ought to mean. The people are going to decide what the Constitution ought to mean. A technical legal question will not be left to lawyers and judges, if the question is simply should it be a denial of equal protection, not is it a denial of equal protection. If the question is should it be a denial of equal protection for women not to have the vote, the people are not going to let a committee of nine lawyers and judges decide that question. They're going to choose the persons who serve on the committee and vote in its decisions, and they're going choose persons who agree with them.

So, at the end of this long process, this great evolution from stuffy old originalism to an evolutionary constitution, we arrive at the point where the meaning of the Constitution, the most important part of the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, is decided upon by the very body that the Bill of Rights is supposed to protect you as an individual against-- namely, the majority.

That seems to me the inevitable demonstration that the only sensible way to construe a constitution is the way you construe statutes. What did its words mean when they were adopted? I think we depart from the traditional view of the Constitution at our own risk.

Unfortunately, we've affected the world with this novel view of the Constitution. Many European countries envy the United States Supreme Court because of its wonderful power to create rights that ought to exist and eliminate rights that ought not to exist.

I suggest this is a very new enterprise. We've only been doing it for forty years. We haven't lasted for 200 years doing it. And we haven't gone far down the road. I think that, at the end of the road, there is really a serious weakening of constitutional democracy." .......................

UPDATE: Great speech, although I'd quibble with this:

"The only reason you need a constitution is because there are some things which you don't want a majority to be able to change. That's my most important function as a judge in the American legal system. I have to tell the majority to take a hike. I tell them: "I don't care what you want. The Bill of Rights says you cannot do it.""

Constitutions also exist to protect the majority from the Tyranny of the Minority. And today, all too often that Minority consists of five of Justice Scalia's peers.

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