It’s About Damned Time!

After decades of bringing a plastic toy bat to a gunfight, the GOP – that party with an uncanny record of snatching defeat from the jaws of victory – finally grew some gonads and “went nuclear” on the confirmation process for Judge Neil Gorsuch.

It’s about damned time!

The result is that Gorsuch has taken his rightful place on the bench at the US Supreme Court (SCOTUS).

We’ve all heard the incessant bleating from the left. “It’s a stolen seat! It should be Merrick Garland’s! Senate rules! Tradition!” Blah, blah, ad nauseum, ad infinitum.

I, for one, couldn’t care less about their whining. In fact, in all honesty, I’m absolutely reveling in it! Because the time finally came when they had to pay the piper, and they didn’t like it one little bit. They’re squealing like stuck pigs. Good!

For decades, for purely political purposes, they changed rules, and moved the goalposts, at will. They counted on the GOP to consider themselves to be above such “petty” political games when they were themselves in power, and for the most part they’ve been right… up to now. The GOP was indeed stupid enough to keep letting them get away with it while refusing to resort to the same tactics themselves.

This kind of cynical, manipulative behavior goes all the way back to FDR, who threatened to “pack” the Supreme Court with like-minded leftist judges who’d back his socialist programs, and when the GOP legislators chickened out and backed off, the stage was set.

When Reagan nominated Robert Bork, a superbly qualified originalist jurist, to SCOTUS the scurrilous attacks on his character, ironically led by Ted Kennedy – the “Lion of the Senate” who was apparently taking a break from molesting and drowning young interns at the time – were so outrageous that Bork ended up withdrawing from consideration. The episode was so shameful it even led to the coining of the term “borking” for subjecting nominees to irrational and unreasonable political attacks.

When Bush I nominated Clarence Thomas to SCOTUS Senate Dems tried, unsuccessfully, to “bork” him with the infamous Anita Hill slander. When Bush II nominated Samuel Alito Senate Dems tried unsuccessfully to filibuster his appointment. They did successfully block Bush II’s nominee to the DC Circuit, Miguel Estrada, using a filibuster.

Yet when the shoe has been on the other foot, Dem/socialist nominees have sailed through to an easy confirmation, in spite of their political bent, with little to no GOP opposition, die-hard doctrinaire leftist Ruth Bader Ginsburg being a classic example. A Carter appointment, she was confirmed in the Senate by a vote of 96 to 3. Breyer was confirmed 87 to 9; Kagan by 63 to 37; and Sotomayor by 67 to 29.

When Bush I was president then-Senator Joe Biden – who was at the time chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee – said he would block any Bush nominee to SCOTUS that may occur in an election year. So much for the “stolen seat” of Merrick Garland, since all the Senate GOPers did during the last year of Obama’s term was follow that very same “Biden Rule”.

And when Obama was president the ever-despicable Harry Reid, Senate Majority Leader at the time, used the so-called “nuclear option” to eliminate the filibuster option for all judicial appointments other than to SCOTUS, thereby ensuring that Obama was able to load the lower-level Circuit Court system with activist leftist jurists. The truth is in the numbers: at the end of Bush II’s term ten of thirteen circuit courts had majorities nominated by Republican presidents. But as of now, nine of them have majorities nominated by Democrat presidents. In other words, the situation reversed by almost 180 degrees during Obama’s time in office.

There’s nothing in the Constitution that requires anything other than a simple majority for the Senate to act. As it’s been used on judicial appointments, in reality it’s been a tyranny of the minority exploited by the Dem/socialists to pack the court system, right up to and including SCOTUS, with activists more concerned with advancing a “social justice” agenda than with ensuring that proper legal and constitutional principles are observed.

Thus the irony is so thick it can be cut with a knife when Mitch McConnell and the other Senate Republicans used the Democrats’ own traditional strategy, the “nuclear option”, to ensure Gorsuch’s ascension to a seat on SCOTUS. It’s why the wailing and bleating of the left is music to my ears.

Their own chickens have come home to roost.

 

 

©Brian Baker 2017

(Also published today in my local newspaper: The Signal)

Naked Judicial Activism and Overreach

On March 15th, for the second time, a federal district judge – this time in Hawaii – issued an injunction against President Trump’s executive order restricting immigration from several specific countries. U.S. District Judge Derrick Watson, in the case of State of Hawai’I and Ismail Elshikh v. Donald J. Trump, had the temerity to order that “Enforcement of these provisions in all places, including the United States, at all United States borders and ports of entry, and in the issuance of visas is prohibited, pending further orders from this Court.” In other words, this judge in the district of Hawaii issued a restraining order that supposedly has nationwide enforceability.

The only problem is, he has no authority to do so.

Article III of the US Constitution establishes the Judiciary, and defines its powers, authority and limitations. Section 2, Paragraph 2 clearly states that: “In all Cases affecting Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls, and those in which a State shall be Party, the supreme Court shall have original Jurisdiction.”

What that means is that, barring a constitutional amendment, any case in which a state is a party must be heard by the Supreme Court, the only court with the authority and jurisdiction to hear such cases. Since one of the plaintiffs in the case at issue is the state of Hawaii, District Judge Watson had no jurisdiction, nor authority, to even hear the case. The same holds true for the several other District Courts that have heard and/or issued rulings on cases of like kind.

That paragraph goes on to state that: “In all the other Cases before mentioned (in Paragraph 1), the supreme Court shall have appellate Jurisdiction, both as to Law and Fact, with such Exceptions, and under such Regulations as the Congress shall make.” Under that authority Congress went on to enact the Judiciary Acts of 1789, 1801, 1865, and 1925. These various Acts established the judicial system we have today, consisting of nine Supreme Court Justices, the various Circuit Courts of Appeal, the various District Courts, and their various jurisdictions, responsibilities and powers.

Part of that structuring defined court power to establish that the only court with national jurisdiction is the Supreme Court. For example, any ruling handed down by the Ninth Circuit Court only has enforcement power within the geographical boundaries of that Circuit, which are the nine Western states, including California. That’s why it’s not unusual to see different Circuits hand down conflicting rulings on the same issue, with the Supreme Court then stepping in to address and resolve the conflict by issuing a determinate ruling with national authority, thereby assuring a consistent application and rule of law across the nation.

The geographical jurisdictional and enforcement power of a District court is even smaller, as it’s a subset of the Circuit Court. So, just as the authority of a ruling by a Circuit Court is constrained by its geographical boundaries, so is the authority of a District Court’s ruling constrained to its own.

From this it’s easy to see that, in addition to hearing a case over which he had no jurisdiction, District Judge Watson issued a ruling and restraining order that he unlawfully attempts to apply outside the geographical borders of his own limited authority.

This is beyond unacceptable; it’s a repugnant attempt to usurp and arrogate power.

Were I Trump I’d instruct the State Department and other involved agencies to ignore these illegal rulings by this, and other, District judges who have far overstepped their legal authority. If these tin pot local judges want to set up a confrontation between the Judiciary and the Executive branches, then let’s bring it on.

Thomas Jefferson expressed his concern that the federal judiciary was potentially “the most dangerous branch” of government because, once seated, judges were installed for life and not accountable to the electorate. Unfortunately, particularly in recent decades, we’ve been seeing those fears realized as arrogant activist judges have taken to regularly exceeding their authority in order to facilitate their own political agendas, as facilitated by the cynical practice of “judge shopping” by litigants eager to promote and achieve their own political ends, goals they generally can’t achieve through the regular political process.

This must come to a halt, even if that has to be done through a constitutional confrontation.

 

 

 

©Brian Baker 2017

(Also published today in my local newspaper, The Signal)

Is There A Lesson In Trump’s Win?

trump5

 

Well, the election’s over, and now we know who’s the clear and indisputable loser: Clinton, and the country dodged a major bullet.

But I’m more interested in considering what dynamic was in play that propelled a candidate like Trump to win the GOP nomination at all, and ultimately the election.

For about twenty-five years, since the administration of Papa Bush, the Establishment GOP has continually drifted leftward, all the while trying subtly to redefine “conservatism” while claiming to support the traditional principles represented by the official party planks (or positions). This manifests itself each election season when the candidates on the stump promise to aggressively fight for those principles, but once elected fail to follow through on those campaign promises, instead offering tepid resistance to Dem/socialist programs, and half-hearted efforts to further a conservative agenda, when they’re not offering their own “progressive” programs, such as Bush 2’s “No Child Left Behind”, Scrips for Seniors, and amnesty for illegal aliens; McCain’s amnesty support and lack of Second Amendment support; the despised Common Core; as well as other examples.

This is also illustrated by considering their presidential candidates post-Bush 1: Dole, Bush 2, McCain, and Romney. Not one of them is a bona fide conservative. It’s also underscored by their congressional leadership: Boehner (until recently) in the House and McConnell in the Senate.

Predictably, as this drift has become more and more obvious, the traditional “base” of the GOP has become ever more disenchanted and disaffected. We saw this manifest itself with the rise of the Tea Party, a phenomenon to which the Establishment GOP reacted badly,2008-tea-party_004 with scorn and disdain instead of contemplating it as a symptom of organic and systemic problems. The Establishment elites simply knew better; the Tea Party was a disorganized bunch of uneducated yahoos who didn’t know what was good for them; and they could be minimized and ignored with impunity. All the while the percentage of the electorate registered as Republicans continued to fall while the percentage registered as Independent continued to rise in virtually direct proportion, a crystal clear bellwether to anyone actually paying attention.

Unfortunately for the Establishment GOP, they weren’t paying attention.

And this time around, the pressure in the boiler had built up so much that it exploded. One man put himself forward as the anti-everything: anti-Establishment GOP; anti-liberal; anti-illegal alien; anti-mainstream media; anti-gun control; anti-Big Government… all those hot-button issues that the “uneducated yahoos” the Establishment GOP so despised found so important. Further, he didn’t talk down to those “yahoos”. He COURTED them! He catered to them. He spoke THEIR language!

And how did the Establishment GOP react to that? By trying to rally around and promote more of their same, tired old offerings: Jebbie!!! and Kasich, “moderate” drones. What about the actual conservatives in the race, Cruz and Rubio? Well the Establishment hated them almost as much as Trump, and didn’t have any qualms about making that clear.

So when the dust finally settled, and Trump was the official nominee, did the party regulars and the rest of the Establishment GOP rally around their candidate and do all they could to help him succeed? Far from it. In acts of astonishing perfidy, not only did they abandon supporting him, but many of them – yes, I’m looking at you, Bushes – actually made a point of supporting his opponent, the despicable Clinton, an act of betrayal that will be long remembered.

That perfidy actually goes to the heart of the problem: that the Establishment GOP, at least at the national level, suffers from an elitism – “Beltway-itis” – that’s made them blind to the reality of what they need to do to regain and maintain their viability as a truly k-street“national” party. They inherently disdain the Joe Sixpacks that make up their natural base. They apparently prefer acceptance at K Street social functions over getting down in the mud with the people they absolutely need if they want to succeed.

Trump was the natural result of that disease. He was the revolt the GOP has long had coming, and to which it was willfully blind. And his success, and ultimate election to the office of President, IN SPITE of the Establishment GOP, should make them step back and take a long and hard look at how they want to approach the political arena as the country moves into the future.

The question now is: will they actually learn something from this?

 

©Brian Baker 2016

 

(Also published today in  The Signal)

Three Men in a Small Boat

A Modern Parable

Three men are in a small boat far from shore. The boat is being circled by hungry sharks boatwhen it suddenly springs a leak. Two of the men start desperately trying to fix the leak and bail out the boat, but the third man starts examining the tools, and complaining about the quality of the bucket.

That’s pretty much where we find ourselves in this election cycle.

There are two lousy candidates running for President (and two minor candidates who are a complete waste of time and attention as they’re an irrelevant sideshow). One of those two is going to be elected President. That person will be deciding who to nominate to replace Scalia on the Supreme Court (SCOTUS), possibly THE most important decision a President can make, because the effect of that decision can last for decades. That President will most likely be appointing one, and possibly two, more within a pretty short period.

Trump has promised to replace Scalia with a nominee of like kind, and has released a list of very appealing candidates. Clinton has very publicly stated that she thinks the Citizens United (First Amendment) and Heller (Second Amendment) rulings should be reversed.

That issue alone makes the choice a very easy one. One candidate will do his best to nominate SCOTUS Justices who will work to preserve our constitutional rights; the other will try her hardest to sink those same rights.

It’s an easy choice for any conservative to make. As repulsive as Trump is, Clinton is worse by orders of magnitude. And we have a ship of state to save!

Oh, but wait…!

The NeverTrump people are much more concerned with preserving their own conservative “purity”, and won’t vote for Trump. The quality of the bucket… or candidate… is belowboat2 their standard of acceptability. They absolutely REFUSE to compromise their “integrity” by deigning to use such low-quality tools. For them, it’s nobler to let the damned boat… or country… sink than to soil their hands with such demeaning material.

They fail to recognize, or accept, that when the boat goes down those hungry sharks are going to gobble them up right along with the guys who tried desperately to keep the boat afloat.

Because the sharks don’t care.

©Brian Baker 2016

 

(Also published today in my local newspaper, The Signal)

 

Gary Johnson Will Not Be President!

distress flag

 

Neither will John Kasich, Bernie Sanders, Jeb Bush, Ted Cruz, nor the Green Party’s Jill Stein. That’s just a fact of life, and we’d all better get used to it.

In the 2008 election pitting McCain against Obama, I voted for Bob Barr, the Libertarian candidate. I also quit my lifelong membership in the GOP and re-registered as “Decline To State”, this state’s version of Independent. That was because I saw McCain as only very slightly less “progressive” than Obama, a view I still hold to this very day.

There was also the potential benefit in a McCain loss that the GOP – which had already meandered to the Left over the post-Reagan years – would learn a valuable lesson from such a defeat and mend their errant ways.

Well, that clearly didn’t happen, as the Establishment GOP kept to their chosen path, the result of which has finally been a populist uprising resulting in the nomination of outsider Donald Trump as their nominee. Good, bad, or indifferent, that’s the way it is.

I wish I could go into that polling booth in November and cast my ballot for someone else, but I can’t if I want my vote to have any actual relevance, and wishing I could won’t change anything. If wishes were horses, beggars would be riding instead of walking.

The further reality is that even if Trump hadn’t thrown his hat into the ring I’m not sure I would have been able to vote for a real conservative anyway. Over the last decade plus, the Establishment GOP has constantly crept ever-further leftward, scorning the true conservatives in their ranks. How else to explain the nominations of John McCain and Mitt Romney? That, too, is a fact, and further proof that the Establishment GOP is not just stuck on stupid, but super-glued in place. The GOP is in reality the PSP – the Perpetually Stupid Party.

So where does that leave us?

The two major parties have named their candidates, and one thing we know for certain: come January either Clinton or Trump WILL be taking the oath of office as President.

In Trump we have an unknown. A guy who CLAIMS to be conservative, yet has a record of backing leftist causes and policies. An unmitigated blowhard. Someone not familiar with the details and minutiae of policy. Absolutely no record when it comes to elective experience or voting history.

Basically, he’s a pig in a poke. We don’t really know what we’d be getting. He could end up being great; he could end up being an absolute disaster. His presidency could fall somewhere in between. Who knows?

His choice of Mike Pence as his running mate gives me a sound basis for the hope that he’ll follow through on his vow to select solid conservatives as his appointees, both judicial and otherwise. And judicial appointments, particularly to the Supreme Court, are a huge but neglected issue this election.

no hillaryThen there’s Clinton, certainly not an unknown. In fact, we know FOR CERTAIN what we’d be getting with her, and frankly, it’s an outright disaster for this country. An unindicted federal criminal with a pathological bent for lying. A scandal-ridden crone married to a convicted perjurer and accused serial rapist who’d be re-occupying the White House. A corruptocrat whose policy decisions can seemingly be bought with large “donations” to her sham “foundation”. A woman who can’t point to a single policy success in her term as Secretary of State, and whose big claim to qualification for the office is that she has a uterus. A leftist ideologue who’s vowed to continue, and even expand upon, the disastrous policies of Obama. A die-hard anti-gun fanatic. A woman who will, with absolutely no doubt, appoint the most leftist jurists she can find to nominate to the Supreme Court, changing the dynamic of that institution for decades to come.

For me the defining moment came while I watched FBI Director Comey spend 14 minutes detailing Clinton’s criminal actions, then spend about 1 minute declaring that the FBI would recommend that she NOT be prosecuted for those actions. I was absolutely stunned. As far as I was concerned, that moment defined the depth of the corruption of the Dem/socialist party, and the Obama/Clinton cabal in particular. It’s an outright and blatant corruptocracy.

So there you have it. A summary of two candidates, one of whom WILL be the next President of these United States. It’s certainly clear, at least to me, that no matter how bad a President Trump MAY turn out to be, Clinton would DEFINITELY be orders of magnitude worse.

We conservatives pride ourselves on voting our conscience and our principles. But I think there’s one overriding principle that overshadows all others: the ultimate future of our country. I believe this is the single most important presidential election at least in my lifetime.

I’ve made my decision. In spite of everything I’ve written over the last year, in light of the issues I’ve outlined here I’ve decided to cast my vote for Trump.

What about you?

 

 

©Brian Baker 2016

 

(Also published today in my local newspaper, The Signal )

Scalia’s Replacement and the Election

supreme court

Of course, the big news this past week or so is the very sad passing of a legal giant, Antonin Scalia, Justice on the Supreme Court (SCOTUS).

There’s a political knife fight brewing over replacing him, with Senate Republicans led by Mitch McConnell at this point vowing to block any Obama nomination because he has so little time left in office, while Obama and his minions – including a sycophantic mainstream media – are clamoring that to do so is to subvert the intent expressed in the Advise and Consent Clause of the Constitution.

Indisputably, the Republicans have the authority by virtue of their control of the Senate to proceed however they wish, including blocking Obama’s nominees from confirmation. It’s borkalso indisputable that the Dem/socialists’ ginned up “outrage” is laughably hypocritical. After all,  when Ronald Reagan nominated Judge Robert Bork to SCOTUS, his confirmation was blocked on purely political grounds by a Senate Dem/socialist lynch mob led by Ted Kennedy, and they thought that was just perfectly fine. In fact, they took great pride in it.

Even more hypocritical is that when Bush 2 nominated Sam Alito to SCOTUS back in 2006, a little known Senator from Illinois, one Barrack Hussein Obama, participated in a filibuster attempt to block the nomination. It sure seems to me that what’s good for the goose is good for the gander.

At issue is the fact that SCOTUS has been pretty evenly divided ideologically for quite some time, with many cases being decided by a 5 – 4 vote, Kennedy being a “wobbler” who vacillates between originalist (“conservative”) and living constitutionalist (“liberal”) positions. Scalia has always been a fervent originalist. In his absence the Court is evenly divided between the two camps (always with the caveat that Kennedy’s something of a wild card, and there’s the occasional Roberts hiccup, too).

So, the argument goes, in a year in which the presidential election is so contentious, particularly on divisive fundamental philosophy, and we’re so close to the actual election, any SCOTUS appointment should be delayed until the newly-elected President can make his or her own choice.

I think there’s merit to that argument, but frankly I don’t really care about it. As far as I’m concerned, the Constitution gives the approval power to the Senate, the GOP controls thecongress control Senate, and they don’t need any rationalization to block Obama’s appointments if that’s what they want to do. There’s plenty of precedent, as I’ve already pointed out, and there’s no way such a rabid leftist zealot as Obama is going to make any nomination that’s going to be any good for this country. Period.

But there’s another aspect I don’t hear anyone talking about when considering the upcoming election and SCOTUS nominations.

Scalia was 79 when he died. But Ginsburg, a hard-Left zealot, is 82. For that matter Breyer, another doctrinaire Leftist, is 77. It’s quite conceivable that either or both could retire or die during the first term of the next President. At 79, Kennedy could very well be in play, too.

That means, assuming that Obama can’t successfully replace Scalia, that the next President could very well be able to appoint four SCOTUS Justices. So let’s do some math and see how this could play out.

Let’s assume that over the next President’s first term three more SCOTUS seats open up, for a total of four. The current ideological split, in Scalia’s absence, is essentially 4 – 4. If the Dem/socialists win, they can appoint 4 leftists, giving them a 6 – 3 (Roberts, Thomas, and Alito) majority. If the GOP wins, they might also get to appoint 4 conservatives, giving them a 7 – 2 (Kagan and Sotomayor) majority.

Anybody have any questions about how important this election is? It’s way past time for the GOP to get its act together, stop screwing around, and – for once – get it right.

 

 

©Brian Baker 2016

(Published in my local newspaper, The Signal, on 2/26/2016: http://www.signalscv.com/section/33/article/149114/)

 

 

The Supreme Court Drops The Ball … Again

The current US Supreme Court (SCOTUS) has handed down some really excellent decisions, such as in the Heller, McDonald, and Citizen’s United cases. They’ve also managed to hand down some real stinkers. The Obamacare case comes immediately to mind.

Now they can add the case of Perry v. Hollingsworth, the case about California’s Proposition 8, to their Hall of Shame.

th[6] (2)Rather than deciding the merits of the case, the majority dismissed the case and remanded it back to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, meaning that the Circuit’s finding that the Prop 8 ban was a violation of federal constitutional rights remains in effect. They did this on the basis that, since the state’s officials – the Governor (Schwarzenegger) and Attorney-General (Jerry Brown) –  refused to do their duty to uphold and defend the properly-enacted ballot initiative, the proposition’s proponents who did actually work the case had no “official” position (“standing”) that entitled them to have their case heard in the court.

SCOTUS held that the defenders weren’t “harmed”, another issue that goes to standing. But I believe that SCOTUS did, in fact, err in holding that the Prop’s defenders didn’t have standing. Their group had expended considerable time and financial resources in getting Prop 8 enacted, and to have two government hacks — Schwarzenegger and Brown — refuse to do their jobs and uphold and defend the law — a function of their office — meant that they (the defenders) suffered tangible injury, which gives them standing.

Further, nowhere in the US or California Constitutions are executives endowed with the power to determine the constitutionality of ANY issue. That’s properly the purview of the appropriate courts. Their job is limited to executing and defending properly-enacted laws, which they clearly failed to do. If this case is an example of the “proper” execution of the politicians’ duties, that raises interesting questions: Why do we even bother having a proposition process at all? Or legislatures? Why don’t we just coronate Caesars and have done with the whole charade?

Additionally, as Kennedy pointed out in his excellent dissent, it’s not at all unusual for interested parties to represent such issues when state officials refuse to do so; that the majority was wrong in applying the “Arizonans” case; and that the states have the right to allow other parties to have standing as the states are the bodies that determine such matters under state law and the California Supreme Court had approved the defenders’ standing.

The initiative process in California was enacted in order to give the people a direct voice in government and allow them recourse if arrogant or corrupt politicians failed to address their concerns. By remanding the case because the politicians failed to defend the law, essentially SCOTUS invalidated the entire referendum process, depriving the people of California of any recourse against officials who refuse to carry out the duties of their office.

th[8]Now, I do think that the defenders made a strategic error in not trying to pursue a Writ of Mandamus while the issue was still at the state level. Such a Mandamus would have forced Schwarzy and Brown to defend the law, or appoint some other “official” government representative or agency to do so, depriving SCOTUS of their escape hatch.

There’s yet another problem with this ruling, too: Prop 8 is unconstitutional on Federal grounds in California, while identical laws on the books in many other states are unchallenged and therefore still constitutional by default. SCOTUS has allowed a double standard to come into existence, where constitutional rights in California are different from every other place in the country.

In the past when the Federal courts have ruled on same-sex marriage cases they’ve held that such state bans are constitutional. When the cases were appealed to SCOTUS, most notably 1972’s Baker v. Nelson, SCOTUS hasn’t granted cert and has let the Circuit decisions stand.

Through their actions in this case, they’ve allowed two definitions of “constitutionality” to come into existence: in the Ninth Circuit and California, the bans are unconstitutional. In the rest of the country, they’re not. That’s an absurd and untenable condition.

Interestingly, there are a couple of other cases working their way up which don’t have this specious “standing” issue in play, particularly Sevcik v. Sandoval, a Nevada case so it’s also in the Ninth Circuit. So, if the Ninth again holds the ban to be unconstitutional, SCOTUS will have to deal with the issue again, and won’t be able to duck the issue over the specious “standing” issue as the state’s officials are actually fulfilling their duties to defend the case.

So this clearly isn’t over yet. Further, there’s going to have to be some kind of resolution as to the inconsistency of the state of the law in different Circuits as to constitutionality. The Constitution demands “equality”, and right now that’s not the case at all.

Instead, we now find ourselves with the issue of constitutionality in this country completely unresolved. This is an absolutely terrible decision, one grown out of cowardice on the part of SCOTUS to actually face and resolve the issue. I give them a big, fat “F”.

© Brian Baker 2013

The UN Gun Control Treaty And You

(Dick Morris Is Nuts)

Political commentator Dick Morris (among others) has been running around all over the place bleating about how the passage of the United Nations’ Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) is going to result in the loss of the gun rights currently enjoyed by Americans under the Second Amendment to our Constitution.

He was doing it again on Sean Hannity’s radio show on Friday, 3 Aug. Here’s Morris’s thesis:

Obama signs the treaty (which has currently died in the UN because of lack of agreement, actually) after he’s re-elected. For a treaty to bind the United States it must be ratified by 2/3 of the Senate, per the Constitution. But according to Morris – who acknowledges that such ratification is virtually impossible – under the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties if the Senate fails to act on ratification the ATT will automatically take effect solely on the basis of Obama’s signature, and that Harry Reid will refuse to bring it to a vote if the Democrats retain control of the Senate. The treaty then becomes the “supreme law of the land”, superseding the Constitution and the Second Amendment and enabling Draconian gun laws, confiscation, the sky falling, etc.

Phew!… Follow me so far? Okay.

Morris’s thesis is so full of holes that if it were cheese it would be a premium Swiss. I don’t know where Morris comes up with this stuff. He must just “hear” something and, without doing any research at all, run wild with it. Anyway, here are the facts.

The Vienna Convention went into effect in 1980, but unfortunately for Morris’s thesis, even though this country is a signatory, the Convention has never been ratified by the Senate and so has absolutely no force and is not binding on this country, just like any other treaty that isn’t ratified. Period.

Further, there’s nothing that I’ve read in the Vienna Convention that does what Morris claims, anyway. Nothing at all about unratified presidential signatures making a treaty binding on a country whose own constitution requires treaty ratification. So his theory of an Obama signature on the ATT without Senate ratification actually meaning anything is ridiculous.

Morris also clearly doesn’t understand the Supremacy Clause of the Constitution. Let me quote it for you:

“This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land;…”

So far, so good. But here’s where the rubber meets the road:

“… and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding.”

In other words, what it’s saying is that the Constitution, federal laws, and treaties take precedence over STATE laws and constitutions. That’s all. There’s not one syllable in there about treaties having more power than the Constitution itself.

The reality is that no treaty can be used as a de facto amendment to the Constitution, as the Constitution is quite specific about how it can be amended and allows only two methods: the clearly detailed amendment process requiring 2/3 ratification by the states, or a constitutional convention. Any treaty that conflicts with the Constitution or its amendments is automatically null and void.

And in fact, in the 1957 landmark case of Reid v. Covert the Supreme Court held exactly that, stating “this Court has regularly and uniformly recognized the supremacy of the Constitution over a treaty,”.

It’s time for Morris and others Chicken Littling this issue (yes, I’m looking at YOU, NRA!) to drop it. It’s ridiculous and meaningless, and lying for political gain is no less disgusting coming from the Right than it is from the Left. Frankly, I consider it even worse, because we have the facts on our side. We don’t have to resort to lying and political chicanery.

This stupid UN treaty has no more chance of affecting our national gun laws than I do of beating Shaq at basketball.

© Brian Baker 2012

A Manifesto To Save America

 

“A democracy will continue to exist up until the time that voters discover that they can vote themselves generous gifts from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates who promise the most benefits from the public treasury, with the result that every democracy will finally collapse due to loose fiscal policy”

                                                                       Alexander Tytler   1747 – 1843 (Pop. Attrib.)

When the people find that they can vote themselves money, that will herald the end of the republic. Sell not liberty to purchase power”

                                                Benjamin Franklin  1706 – 1790

People familiar with my writings, both in my blogs and in various Letters To The Editors and Guest Columns published in newspapers, know I’ve long maintained that this country is far down along the path to self-destruction. Back in February 2008, at my Townhall blog, I wrote an essay entitled “Bread and Circuses” (Read it here) in which I drew parallels between our country today and the fall of the Western Roman Empire.

The Roberts Court

Most recently, we have the Supreme Court (SCOTUS) discovering and endowing the government with vast new powers to use taxation to force people to behave in certain ways, and enter into contracts to purchase goods and services. For the first time in our history, a tax can be imposed on people for not doing something. It’s as if King George imposed a tea tax on the colonists for not drinking tea.

To achieve this repugnant decision, as I’ve described previously, Chief Judas Roberts ignored all bounds of reason, logic and constitutionality in order to side with the liberal “ignore the Constitution” faction of the Court. Whatever his motives – and speculation on that runs rampant – neither Roberts nor any other Justice will ever suffer any consequences for their actions or decisions because the Constitution guarantees them lifetime tenure.

Then we have the problem with the inequitable nature of our current tax system which has led to debts and deficits that will inevitably bankrupt this country if not resolved somehow. Almost 50% of the populace pays little to no federal income taxes at all, and the top 5% of earners – those earning anything over a mere $154,643 (statistics) – pay almost 59% of all the income tax money collected. Yet they’re still castigated for “not paying their fair share”.

Meanwhile, that bottom 50% pays almost nothing at all but still has an equal say, through their power to vote, in how tax burdens are allocated and the funds spent. Naturally, as they really have no skin in the game as far as fiscal prudence is concerned, they’re going to be inclined to vote for their own economic self-interest, meaning that they’re all for robbing Peter to pay Paul, since someone else is always going to be the Peter that pays their Paul. Paul really doesn’t care if Peter goes broke.

Further, what’s going to happen when the tax non-payers outnumber the taxpayers? Then we’ll have a situation akin to three foxes and a chicken voting on what’s for dinner. It won’t be pretty, and at that point this country will be completely doomed.

I believe this country’s only hope of salvation lies in a major restructuring of how we do things, and that can only be properly enacted by amending the Constitution. Therefore I’d like to propose the following four constitutional amendments.

“Judicial Accountability Amendment:  After 12 years of serving on the federal bench, each judge including Supreme Court Justices shall be replaced, unless reconfirmed by the US Senate.”

Hopefully, that would force the judiciary to be more responsive to the actual Constitution, but no matter what it would impose accountability on the Mandarins In Black Robes.

“Flat Tax Amendment:  Every person who receives income, from whatever source and without exception, shall have that income taxed at the same rate of X%. The tax rate may be changed by Congress by votes of 2/3 in each House.”

The “X” rate of taxation would be determined during the amendment process, but this would certainly eliminate the inequality of tax rates and burdens. Further, it would eliminate the motivation of those with no tax exposure to burden those who actually do pay taxes with ridiculous obligations that simply can’t be met.

Everyone would then have at least some skin in the game.

Further, the super-majority requirement to change the tax rate would force some fiscal sanity on Congress, and force them to start to cut spending. Raising the tax rate would become a VERY politically risky move… as it should be.

“Voter Eligibility Amendment:  No person who is exempt, for whatever reason, from paying income taxes shall be eligible to vote.”

A companion piece to the prior Amendment, this would assure that anyone who might still escape any tax obligation would also lose their ability to influence the outcome of legislation that forces everyone else to pay up.

“Tax Legitimacy Amendment: Taxes shall be imposed solely to raise revenue for the legitimate function of government as defined in the US Constitution. Any tax or spending bill must cite the appropriate and legitimate constitutional authority for that program or expenditure. No tax shall be imposed whose purpose is to influence the behavior of citizens, either individually or as a group; nor shall taxes be imposed as a penalty.”

The most immediate effect of this Amendment would be to void Obamacare and repeal the recent SCOTUS decision, much like the 14th Amendment killed the Dred Scott decision; and it would prevent the kind of laws – as well as judicial decisions – that grant such unbridled power to the government that the people’s ability to make their own decisions is completely pre-empted.

Unless these amendments – or something very much like them – are enacted, this country as we know it is finished. We may still be in existence physically, but we’ll ultimately devolve into a Euro-trash “social democracy” like Greece. Unfortunately, I don’t believe the political will exists in this country to take those necessary steps.

I hope I’m proven wrong, but I am not sanguine…

© Brian Baker 2012

The Obamacare Decision’s In. What’s Next?

Chief Judas John Roberts

Well, as I noted in last week’s essay, the stunning decision of the Supreme Court (SCOTUS) was handed down last week on the Obamacare challenge, and Chief Judas Roberts – traitor to the Constitution and conservative principles – has granted the Federal Government expansive new powers to regulate behavior through the power to impose taxes; not only on what you actually do, but also on what you don’t do.

Another aspect of this new authority is that since exercise of this power is through the taxation process, such laws don’t require the usual 60 votes in the Senate required for most bills. It’s tax law, and as such can be passed by a simple majority in that chamber (as has always been the case with any law in the House). Thus has SCOTUS ruled.

That means that come November, if the GOP retains the House, wins the Presidency, and holds 50 seats in the Senate after the election (Romney’s VP would give the GOP a Senate majority as President of the Senate), they’ll be able to pass any such law they want without any fear of it being blocked by the Democrats (in the exact same manner as Democrats enacted Obamacare in the first place).

This does open up some interesting possibilities.

I’d like to propose a law that requires every eligible adult to own a gun. This would accrue a benefit to the country under the General Welfare Clause, as statistically it’s been shown that the more law-abiding citizens own guns, the lower the crime rate is. Further, gun ownership is actually a right enumerated in the Bill of Rights, as opposed to “healthcare”. Anyone who refuses to own a gun would see a “tax surcharge” penalty on their federal income taxes.

How about an abortion tax? You’d still be able to exercise your “right” to abort your baby; you’d just be dinged a few thousand bucks in a “tax surcharge” if you did it. There’s no doubt this would accrue benefits to the country’s “general welfare” as it will cut into the numbers of unborn babies slaughtered in the womb, not to mention the benefits accrued to the babies themselves. And think of the added revenue!

There are endless possibilities, and the limits have been removed. Get together with your friends. Think up a policy you’d like to see enacted. Turn it into a drinking game!

Then raise a toast to our socialist countrymen who have given us this wonderful opportunity.

©Brian Baker 2012