New on NewsReal – Miraculous GOP Turnaround Causes Michael Moore to Drop the Act and Ask Obama to Disenfranchise Wisconsin

My latest NewsRealBlog post:

In a stunning development, a clerical error in Wisconsin has transformed what many expected to be a long, ugly legal battle favoring the Left into an almost certain victory for the Right, outraging leftists like Michael Moore, to the point where the radical “documentarian” has stopped bothering to hide his disdain for the democratic process.

The intense Wisconsin Supreme Court race between the incumbent Republican, Justice David Prosser, and his Democrat challenger, state DNR enforcer JoAnn Kloppenburg, ended Wednesday with the latter declaring victory based on the Associated Press’s calculation of a 204-vote lead. Prosser didn’t budge, and most predicted an onslaught of recounts and vote fraud litigation to ensue.

But on Thursday evening we learned that Waukesha county clerk Kathy Nickolaus had erroneously passed on the county’s data to the AP without the numbers from the city of Brookfield, which shifted the lead to Prosser by more than 7,000 votes. Leftists are predictably outraged that hijacking the judiciary to thwart Governor Scott Walker’s public-sector union reforms won’t work after all, though none have topped the overreaction of Moore, who tweeted last night:

Republicans created the rule: “Whoever declares victory first, wins!” When will Obama Justice Dept impound ballots and stop the shenanigans?

Much has been said about the totalitarian impulse and anti-constitutionalism behind modern leftism, but rarely is it expressed so overtly by one of their own. Moore wants the federal government to forcibly prevent the certification of a state election and give the office to someone based strictly on her own, premature and entirely unofficial, declaration of victory?

Read the rest on NewsRealBlog.

New on NewsReal – Peter Beinart Confuses "Democracy" with "Freedom" in the Middle East

My latest NewsRealBlog post:

At CPAC 2011, Ann Coulter made the following claim:

Democrats are all for meddling in other countries –- but only provided a change of regime will harm U.S. national security interests.

It probably wasn’t his intention, but this week the Daily Beast’s Peter Beinart has set out to prove her right. Beinart (who, recall, doesn’t think the War on Terror is a war and says conservatives only support profiling because we don’t believe people who look like us are capable of bad things) has chosen to lecture us about “the hypocrisy of the right’s shallow rhetoric on liberty and human freedom,” allegedly displayed by those of us who aren’t all that optimistic that a post-Mubarak Egypt will be any more free or humane:

[T]he people with the biggest megaphones on the American right—people like Glenn Beck, Sarah Palin, and Newt Gingrich—are not preaching democratic idealism. They’re warning that Egypt and Bahrain are about to become Iranian- or Taliban-style theocracies. They’re comparing Barack Obama to Jimmy Carter for not standing behind our favored strongmen. And they’re suggesting that, at the very least, America should demand that Islamist parties be banned. When it comes to Muslims and democracy, much of the supposedly idealistic American right turns out to be pretty pessimistic. It turns out that the people uninterested in the human rights of Muslims at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay aren’t all that concerned about them in Egypt or Bahrain either.


What human-rights disinterest are you referring to, Peter? The way I remember it, conservatives overwhelmingly condemned the actual abuse and the military punished those responsible all on its own, while waterboarding has saved American lives. And Beck, Palin and Gingrich’s doubts are far from groundless—the radical Muslim Brotherhood is among the factions vying for control of Egypt’s new government, and as David Horowitz sarcastically pointed out to Bill Kristol, recent history doesn’t suggest great odds for Egypt:

Perhaps the elections in Egypt will turn out better than those in Gaza where Hamas now rules a terrorist state; Iraq, which has instituted an Islamic Republic; Lebanon, where Hezbollah now rules a terrorist state; and Afghanistan, which is a kleptocracy wooing the terrorist theocracy in Iran.

Read the rest on NewsRealBlog.

The Democrats Hate Democracy

Exhibit A, courtesy of Charles Krauthammer:

A month ago, Medicare issued a regulation providing for end-of-life counseling during annual “wellness” visits. It was all nicely buried amid the simultaneous release of hundreds of new Medicare rules.


Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D.,Ore.), author of Section 1233, was delighted. “Mr. Blumenauer’s office celebrated ‘a quiet victory,’ but urged supporters not to crow about it,” reports the New York Times. Deathly quiet. In early November, his office sent an e-mail plea to supporters: “We would ask that you not broadcast this accomplishment out to any of your lists . . . e-mails can too easily be forwarded.” They had been lucky that “thus far, it seems that no press or blogs have discovered it. . . . The longer this regulation goes unnoticed, the better our chances of keeping it.”

So much for Democratic transparency — and for their repeated claim that the more people learn what is in the health-care law, the more they will like it. Turns out ignorance is the Democrats’ best hope.
And regulation is their perfect vehicle — so much quieter than legislation. Consider two other regulatory usurpations in just the last few days.
On December 23, the Interior Department issued Secretarial Order 3310, reversing a 2003 decision and giving itself the authority to designate public lands as “Wild Lands.” A clever twofer: (1) a bureaucratic power-grab — for seven years up through December 22, wilderness-designation had been the exclusive province of Congress, and (2) a leftward lurch — more land to be “protected” from such nefarious uses as domestic-oil exploration in a country disastrously dependent on foreign sources.
The very same day, the president’s Environmental Protection Agency declared that in 2011 it would begin drawing up anti-carbon regulations on oil refineries and power plants, another power grab effectively enacting what Congress had firmly rejected when presented as cap-and-trade legislation.

For an Obama bureaucrat, however, the will of Congress is a mere speed bump. Hence this regulatory trifecta, each one moving smartly left — and nicely clarifying what the spirit of bipartisan compromise that President Obama heralded in his post-lame-duck December 22 news conference was really about: a shift to the center for public consumption and political appearance only.

Read the rest. It’s an outrage that this country has gotten to a point where unelected, unaccountable bureaucrats can make de facto laws outside of the legislative process, contrary to the will of the people, and that a political party called Democratic of all names relies upon this sleazy, un-American, anti-democratic process to implement its agenda. Let’s hope the incoming Congress has at least a few Republicans who have the spine to call this out as the disgrace it is.

Thoughts on Secession, Part 1

@font-face { font-family: “Times”; }@font-face { font-family: “Cambria”; }p.MsoNormal, li.MsoNormal, div.MsoNormal { margin: 0in 0in 0.0001pt; font-size: 12pt; font-family: “Times New Roman”; }a:link, span.MsoHyperlink { color: blue; text-decoration: underline; }a:visited, span.MsoHyperlinkFollowed { color: purple; text-decoration: underline; }p { margin: 0in 0in 0.0001pt; font-size: 10pt; font-family: “Times New Roman”; }div.Section1 { page: Section1; }
On Monday, Hillsdale College history professor Dr. Paul Rahe (disclosure: I’ve heard him speak several times, but am not one of his students) marked the 150th anniversary of South Carolina’s vote to secede from the union by penning an op-ed in which he argues against the legitimacy of secession:
The legitimacy of secession has been debated ever since. In my view, secession was unlawful. There is provision in the United States constitution for ratification and for the admission of new states into the Union. There is no provision for secession.

It is true, of course, that – in ratifying the Constitution – Virginia specified “that the powers granted under the Constitution, being derived from the people of the United States may be resumed by them whensoever the same shall be perverted to their injury or oppression.” But this unilateral assertion on Virginia’s part is not and could not be an assertion of a legal right under the Constitution – which, even if viewed as a contract, recognizes no such right. Rather, it is a reassertion of the natural rights that underpin the right to revolution asserted in the Declaration of Independence, and it applies to the people of the United States and not to the state of Virginia or even the people of the state of Virginia as such.
Robert Stacy McCain objects to Rahe’s analysis, seeing in it disastrous implications:
Of course, this theory effectively abolishes the states, rendering them nothing but administrative jurisdictions of the unitary and all-powerful national government — the negation of federalism […]

Did these states, by ratifying the Constitution, thereby permanently forfeit their independence?  Is there nothing the federal government could do — no act of the president or Congress, no decision of the Supreme Court — that would justify any state in saying, “OK, you’ve gone too far now”?

It would seem that Paul Rauh answers that question in the negative, that he denies that the states have retained any shred of their original independence, that no state has any just recourse if its citizens should feel that the federal government has overstepped its rightful bounds.

The states are therefore no longer states in any meaningful sense, and we no longer in fact have a federal system of government, but rather one vast unified empire of 300 million subjects, with whatever vestiges of the “states” remain being subject to obliteration so soon as it suits a majority in Congress (or the Supreme Court) to do so.

Ideas have consequences, as Richard Weaver once famously observed, and so it is with the idea of the indissoluble union. (Evidently, it’s like La Cosa Nostra — once you join, there’s no quitting.) What we now have is a national government without any effective limit to its power, except so far as regular elections may have any limiting effect. But if this also fails and the advocates of an all-powerful national government should obtain a permanent majority, what remedy can there be under Rahe’s theory?
First, the notion of states as “nothing but administrative jurisdictions of the unitary and all-powerful national government” simply has no basis in Rahe’s words. To deny secession’s legitimacy is hardly to deny that the federal government’s powers are strictly limited, or that the states have rights and responsibilities in which the feds must not meddle. (Rahe did, for what it’s worth, write a book on the subject.)

Second, there are obvious recourses to injurious federal actions: the regular elections McCain references, the constitutional amendment process, and prior to the 17th Amendment’s passage, the Senate also countered federal encroachment into the states. There’s also the judiciary, though admittedly that won’t be of much use to limited, constitutional government until we get serious about reining in judicial activism. (And all of the above is, of course, subject to the quality of those in office, but that’s unavoidable with any form of government.) I wouldn’t be so quick to discount the value of any of those means, and in the block quote at the top of McCain’s post, Rahe does give the states a “just recourse” when all else fails: the natural right of revolution. As the Declaration of Independence puts it:
[W]henever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness […] when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.
The standard pro-secession objection here is that a) revolution is extra-legal, meaning the government from which a state is separating has no legal obligation to let the state go; and b) revolution is a right possessed by individuals, not states. McCain seems to think that the American Revolution’s “dependen[ce] on the fortunes of war” is sufficient to invalidate the right of revolution. But so what? In principle, whether something is easy has no bearing on whether it’s true, and in practice, the prospects of the South’s “right” to secession were every bit as “dependent on the fortunes of war” as the War for Independence.

Granted, I can see where the other side is coming from, in that secession could theoretically be easier than revolution, and thus might be a more potent threat to an overreaching federal government. But secession’s supporters are overlooking a very big downside, which Abraham Lincoln’s First Inaugural Address makes clear. First, there are the logical problems inherent to the concept:
Perpetuity is implied, if not expressed, in the fundamental law of all national governments. It is safe to assert that no government proper ever had a provision in its organic law for its own termination […] If the United States be not a government proper, but an association of States in the nature of contract merely, can it, as a contract, be peaceably unmade by less than all the parties who made it? One party to a contract may violate it—break it, so to speak—but does it not require all to lawfully rescind it?
More importantly for our current purposes:
If the minority will not acquiesce, the majority must, or the Government must cease. There is no other alternative, for continuing the Government is acquiescence on one side or the other. If a minority in such case will secede rather than acquiesce, they make a precedent which in turn will divide and ruin them, for a minority of their own will secede from them whenever a majority refuses to be controlled by such minority. For instance, why may not any portion of a new confederacy a year or two hence arbitrarily secede again, precisely as portions of the present Union now claim to secede from it? All who cherish disunion sentiments are now being educated to the exact temper of doing this.   

Is there such perfect identity of interests among the States to compose a new union as to produce harmony only and prevent renewed secession?   

Plainly the central idea of secession is the essence of anarchy. A majority held in restraint by constitutional checks and limitations, and always changing easily with deliberate changes of popular opinions and sentiments, is the only true sovereign of a free people. Whoever rejects it does of necessity fly to anarchy or to despotism. Unanimity is impossible. The rule of a minority, as a permanent arrangement, is wholly inadmissible; so that, rejecting the majority principle, anarchy or despotism in some form is all that is left […]

Why should there not be a patient confidence in the ultimate justice of the people? Is there any better or equal hope in the world? In our present differences, is either party without faith of being in the right? If the Almighty Ruler of Nations, with His eternal truth and justice, be on your side of the North, or on yours of the South, that truth and that justice will surely prevail by the judgment of this great tribunal of the American people.   

By the frame of the Government under which we live this same people have wisely given their public servants but little power for mischief, and have with equal wisdom provided for the return of that little to their own hands at very short intervals. While the people retain their virtue and vigilance no Administration by any extreme of wickedness or folly can very seriously injure the Government in the short space of four years.
While voters and states might rightly despise any given government action, as long as the political process remains open to them, their only just recourse lies within that process. To do otherwise is, in effect, to proclaim that one may pick and choose which laws to follow and which to ignore, a reversion to minority rule by which the few can dictate virtually anything to the many.  Indeed, if a state can legally break away from the nation, then what’s to keep a city from breaking away from a state, or an individual from a city?

At the end of the day, good government is ultimately dependent upon enough of the people eventually coming to their senses to set things right. This remedy is always uncertain, and often slow and unsatisfying, so it’s understandable that people would seek out some extra insurance for when the will of the people lets them down. But while it’s not inconceivable that secession could function as that insurance in some cases, nor is it clear that secession would be any more viable than revolution, and the logic of secession could actually do much more harm than good, by undermining the respect for the rule of law which is essential to good government.   

Ultimately, though, as McCain says:
The fundamental question is, “Who ratified the Constitution, and what sort of union was created by that ratification?” And the answers to those questions are not, nor can they be, a matter of mere opinion. There are historical facts to be considered, and which Rahe glosses over.
McCain glosses over some of those historical facts, too. Those facts will be the subject of Part 2.

Quote of the Day

If one encounters among the opinions of a democratic people some of those harmful theories that tend to make it believed that everything perishes with the body, consider the men who profess them as the natural enemies of the people.

There are many things that offend me in the materialists. Their doctrines appear to me pernicious and their haughtiness revolts me. If their system could be of some utility to man, it seems that it would be in giving him a modest idea of himself. But they do not make anyone see that this should be so; and when they believe they have sufficiently established that they are only brutes, they show themselves as proud as if they had demonstrated they were gods.

Materialism is a dangerous malady of the human mind in all nations; but one must dread it particularly in a democratic people because it combines marvelously with the most familiar vice of the heart in these peoples.

– Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America, p. 519