Saturday, October 6, 2018

Constitutional text must always supersede ideology

From "The Hill":

Kagan said at a conference for women at Princeton University that over the past three decades, starting with Justice Sandra Day O'Connor and continuing with Justice Anthony Kennedy, that there was a figure on the bench "who found the center or people couldn't predict in that sort of way."

“It’s not so clear, that I think going forward, that sort of middle position — it's not so clear whether we’ll have it," Kagan said.


Let's analyze Kagan's words for a moment.

By stating that she thinks a Justice in the "middle position" might not exist on a future Supreme Court, she - Kagan herself - has admitted that she is incapable of being a justice in a "middle position".  This should, at the very least, disqualify her from service on the SCOTUS.  She has admitted that she cannot be impartial.  She has admitted that her bias will always color her decisions.  She has admitted that we cannot trust her judgement.

This is dangerous for the SCOTUS and for the US.

The job of a Supreme Court Justice is not to decide a case based on an ideology of any kind.  The job is to examine the brief presented by both sides and:

  • To determine whether the case in question has a basis in law;
  • To determine whether that law is in conformance with the Constitution - not some arbitrary definition of "Constitutional principles" determined by one's ideology, but the actual text of the Constitution; and
  • To determine whether that law was correctly applied.

Here's why an adherence to the actual text of the Constitution is vitally important: if ideology is used to stretch "the meaning" of the Constitution to find new "rights", then the Constitution has been subordinated to that ideology -- and lower courts must now adhere to an ideology that is not defined in the law.

To put it simply: either the Constitution is the law... or it isn't.

This is not about Kavanaugh per se, but it is about whether Supreme Court precedent can be trusted to be Constitutionally valid.  Bad decisions result when ideology is a primary guiding principle.  And bad decisions are tearing this country apart.

A perfect example of the impropriety of ideology in SCOTUS decisions can be found in Justice O'Connor's comments on Roe.  In 1983 and again in 1986, O'Connor criticized the Roe decision.  In later years, when asked whether she would reaffirm Roe, she said she would.  The Constitution did not change.  The text remained exactly the same.  Nothing in the text of the Constitution speaks on any medical procedures or the validity of taking an unborn's life without due process.  The Constitution leaves those decisions to the States (the 10th Amendment).  Yet Justice O'Connor's personal ideology changed, and thus her opinion on Roe changed as well.

The question of Roe as "bad law" has been discussed for decades, but it was the Roe decision that inflated passions on both sides of the debate.  The reason?  Ideology guided a decision, not the text of the Constitution.  The Supreme Court should have decided that Roe was a state-level decision, and that it - the Supreme Court - does not exist to overturn 10th Amendment State-level decisions except when they violate the actual text of the Constitution.

Clearly, the actual text of the Constitution should be the guiding principle for cases that come to the Supreme Court.  The Supreme Court should not be making new law in its decisions.  It should not co-opt the job of the legislatures, whether State or Federal.

It is often said that "the laboratory of the States" shows the genius of The Founders: those who had despised the monarchical control over the Colonies and designed a Constitution to prevent those abuses.  By designing independent States that operated under a common Federal code (the Constitution) that prevented those States from abusing each other's citizens, they designed a wondrous multi-layered system of government that encouraged freedom while simultaneously permitting State-level controls.

Our Republic requires that each State adhere to the Constitution, but that each State may decide - for itself and for its citizens - other laws and statutes that its citizens desire for themselves.  And when a State implements a law that violates the actual text of the Constitution, the Supreme Court's job is to strike down that law (e.g. Brown and, more recently, Janus).

We do not need a Supreme Court made up of conservatives, liberals, men, women or "smart Latinas".  We need a Supreme Court that examines each brief strictly according to the text of the Constitution, makes decisions solely based on the text of the Constitution, requires that States also adhere to the text of the Constitution, and will send a non-Constitutional case back to the State from where it originated.

One can only hope that a "conservative-leaning Supreme Court" will return to deciding cases on their merit according to the actual text of the Constitution, rather than becoming an engine that coerces all of the States to comply with a non-textual ideology.

Saturday, September 29, 2018

Ideologies aren't inherently "evil".

There's an Internet meme that "liberalism is a mental illness". Another that says that "conservatives are evil."

No. Wrong. Stop it. You're not helping anything.

Liberalism is a political ideology, nothing more. Those who believe in progressivism/liberalism are not evil. Those who believe in conservatism aren't evil either.

The problem is that some - on both sides - find it easier to re-quote "talking points" than to spend time actually analyzing a specific policy in a rational manner. This isn't easy: it requires a deep understanding of historical and current affairs, examination of the full set of consequences of that policy (including "unintended" consequences), and measuring the policy's impact against human nature.

Human nature rules everything.

Not human nature as we would like it, but human nature as it has been throughout recorded history. Not geopolitical human nature, but individual human nature. The understanding of what makes people "tick": the various desires, foibles, and stubbornness that are all part of the human condition. The fact that, as we grow from children into adults, everything about us changes. That we form some behaviors as children that follow us into adulthood. That some "learned behaviors" stay with us, and others fall away over time. That it ALWAYS takes a deep trauma to force us to change - and sometimes even that isn't enough.

The "stubbornness" part of human nature means that, when faced with examples or evidence to the contrary, we very often "dig in our heels" and refuse to accept that evidence as valid. We dismiss that evidence immediately, or find some way to ignore the evidence. We don't want to admit to ourselves that we may not be perfect. That we may not have been absolutely correct.

That we may have been wrong.

It's hard to mentally admit - to yourself - that you were wrong. It takes courage to admit to others that you were wrong. Sometimes it takes more courage than some people have. Sometimes, rather than admit error, some people will lash out at those who have presented evidence that they are wrong.

Sometimes we attack the messenger because we don't like the message. Or because the message holds truths that we don't want to acknowledge.

Some find it easier to re-quote political "talking points" that they have "heard everyone say" than to stop and think about the true meaning behind those "talking points". And to question where those "talking points" are coming from. And who has been saying them. And what those people have to gain from saying them. Yes: some folks will twist the meaning of words to gain sympathy from those who don't pay full attention to what is really being said.

It isn't easy to spend the time to analyze all of the political ideological crap making its way to us through various forms of media. But it's important to think about it rather than making a knee-jerk reaction. If you think the message is wrong, make your case against the ideology you oppose. Explain why you think it is misguided, and present evidence.

But to dismiss an opposing viewpoint by calling it "evil" is disingenuous... and somewhat childish.

Saturday, August 18, 2018

Is America Great... or Not?

The greatness of America is not defined by the multiple wars, both here and abroad, that it has survived in over 300 years.

Nor is it defined by the number of racial, religious, or political incidents, both good and bad, that have both improved or plagued it over that time.

Nor is it defined by its economic or financial prowess.  Nor by its military strength.  Nor by its willingness to assist others when asked - and sometimes when not asked.

The greatness of America is defined by its ability to recover from disasters both natural and man-made, recognize and reward those who have improved the American condition while ostracizing and punishing those who have reveled in hate, always working toward Constitutionally-based justice no matter the opposition, opposing those who would taint the American electoral process by attempts at falsifying votes, and by providing a legal basis for the core rights defined in the Declaration of Independence:

Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.

America is great when it provides the most amount of freedom to the greatest number of The People, where "freedom" is defined as "being allowed to do what you want to do as long as it does not directly interfere with what others want to do".

The greatness of America is its self-corrective nature: situations that cause inequality are always eliminated, even though it may take time to identify both the situation and the remedial action necessary.

The greatness of America is in its justice system, especially when the system acts only according to Constitutionally-defined "rules of the road" and not when any of the three branches exercises powers that are not in its provenance.

The greatness of America is in its use of time-limited democratically-elected representatives to the central government, and the ability of The People to either re-elect those representatives or elect different representatives as they so choose.

The greatness of America is that it allows anyone to achieve anything they wish to achieve on their own merit.  The only limits on your success in the American capitalist system are those limits you place on yourself.

The greatness of America is that it has and will continue to withstand attacks on its political system by those who would try to destroy that system and replace it with another by using the freedoms that America provides in an attempt to undermine those same freedoms... and who may not realize that they are attacking a system that allows such attacks *without revenge*.

America has been hurt in the past by those whose personal agendas did not overlap with American values as defined in both the Declaration of Independence, which delineates those values, and in the Constitution of the United States, which provides a legislative basis for those values.

America will survive as long as The People continue to refer back to the Founder's reasons for designing the only truly democratic form of government that has survived in the Modern Age.

The Founders gave us a Republic.  Our job, as defined by Ben Franklin, is to "keep it".

Thursday, August 16, 2018

What wins in the "style vs substance" debate?

If you listen closely, there's a meme forming: "I really don't like Trump the person, but I like a lot of what he's doing."

The Left loved Obama because he (seemingly) had style.  A smooth operator.  His oral delivery made everything sound like the truth.  Was thin and well-dressed.  Stayed on teleprompter and rarely went off-speech (when he did, he was a bit... lost).  Seemed sooooo sincere because he was sooooo smoooooooooth.  A polished politician, to be sure.

Trump, OTOH, is gruff and unkempt and a somewhat overweight.  He eats McDonalds.  He doesn't have "smooth moves": he jerks around and constantly uses a lot of hand gestures.  He tweets way too often, and his tweets are sometimes quite rude (and insulting).  He almost always wanders off-teleprompter and off-script, and sometimes blurts things out in a speech that would have been better left unsaid.  The least "polished" politician we've had since... well, since I've been alive anyway.

Style.

But as far as substance, Obama managed to do very little in office other than tread water.  I'll skip over the multiple foreign policy faux pas that occurred under his watch (Iraq, Iran, NORK, Russia, Benghazi, et al), the multiple political scandals and missteps (IRS, Fast and Furious, etc), his use of "czars" in an effort to rework the American ideal, and his "phone and pen" pseudo-royalty commands (some of which were denied by the SCOTUS - at least one unanimously).  Here at home, he supported the PPACA and drove millions off their health care plans while forcing them, and the rest of America, to pay for lavish plans for millions of others (many of whom were willingly unemployed).  He attacked the 1st and 2nd Amendments and implemented oppressive and impossibly complicated financial rules that constricted bank and corporation operations.  He supported an increase in taxes while also increasing the food stamp rolls and welfare payouts (aka "wealth redistribution").  Unemployment rose, manufacturers temporarily or permanently shuttered, and economic growth was stagnant.

Then, after steering the country in the wrong direction because he had no effective understanding of economics, he claimed that the economic doldrums he presided over were the "new normal".

Trump has managed, in just under 2 years, to do what Obama said was undoable: improve the economy, decrease unemployment, reduce regulations, and pass a tax cut/reform bill.  Unemployment is dropping, manufacturers are moving money back onshore (something the revered Thomas Friedman said wouldn't happen) and using it to build new facilities and hire American workers, and regulation reform is allowing construction to move forward at speeds not seen in decades.  By opening ANWR and the two pipelines, he has made the US a net exporter of oil - something that the "experts" said could not happen (remember "peak oil"?)  He hasn't been able to repeal the PPACA but he has changed its regulations ("The Secretary shall determine") to permit new plans to be put in place, some of which will allow health insurance purchase across state lines.

This might be because Trump is a graduate of the Wharton School of Business, so he has a deep understanding of business economics (“The chief business of the American people is business.” - Coolidge).  And because Trump understands how deal making is done (he wrote the book on it), he's using those same techniques to show other countries that "doing business with the US is better than doing business against the US".

The left believes that Friedman, a columnist for the NYT, is wiser than Trump when it comes to economics.  But it was Friedman who claimed that Trump's election would almost immediately "tank" the market and drive the economy into the dirt.  He still writes that it's "about to happen".  Any. Day. Now.

Yes, the economy will eventually cool off again.  Economies are cyclical.  But it was Friedman who agreed with Obama about the "new normal".  It seems that he was wrong - for now.

The fact that Trump has managed to disprove Obama's "new normal" is at the heart of Trump Derangement Syndrome.

Obama was style over substance.

Trump is substance over style (heck, Trump has very little style at all).

And it's making the left crazy.

Thursday, August 9, 2018

A Proposal for Reduction of Sinusoidal Depleneration

The Turboencabulator

Bernard Salwen

For a number of years now, work has been proceeding to bring perfection to the crudely conceived idea of a machine that would not only supply inverse reactive current for use in unilateral phase detractors, but would also be capable of automatically synchronizing cardinal grammeters. Such a machine is the "Turboencabulator."

Basically, the only new principle involved is that instead of power being generated by the relative motion of conductors and fluxes, it is produced by the medial interaction of magneto-reluctance and capacitive directance.

The original machine had a base plate of prefabulated amulite, surmounted by a malleable logarithmic casing.

That way the 2 spurving bearings were in direct line with the pentametric fan. The latter consisted simply of 6 hydrocoptic marzel vanes, so fitted to the ambifacient lunar waneshaft that side fumbling was effectively prevented. The main winding was of the normal lotus-0-delta type, placed in panendermic semiboloid slots in the stator, every 7th conductor being connected by a non-reversible tremie pipe to the differential gridle-spring on the "up" end of the grammeters.

41 manestically spaced grouting brushes were arranged to feed into the rotor slipstream a mixture of high S-value phenyl-hydro-benzamine and 5% remanative tetryl-iodo-hexamine.

Both of these liquids have specific pericosities given by P = 2.5Cn6.7, where n is the diathetical evolute of retrograde temperature phase disposition, and C is Cholmondeley's annular grillage coefficient.

Initially, n was measured with the aid of a metapolar refractive pilfrometer, but up to the present, nothing has been found to equal the transcendental hopper dadoscope.

Electrical engineers will appreciate the difficulty of nubing together a regurgitative purwell and a supramitive wennel-sprock. Indeed, this proved to be a stumbling block until it was found that the use of anhydrous nangling pins enabled a kryptonastic boiling shim to be tankered.

The early attempts to construct a sufficiently robust spiral decommutator failed, largely because of a lack of appreciation of the large quasipiestic stresses in the gremlin studs.

The latter were specially designed to hold the roffit bars to the spam-shaft.

When, however, it was discovered that wending could be prevented by a simple addition to the living sockets, almost perfect running was secured.

The operating point is maintained as near as possible to the HF rem peak by constantly fromaging the bitumogenous spandrels.

This is a distinct advance on the standard nivel-sheave.

No dramcock oil is required after the phase detractors have been remissed.

Undoubtedly, the Turboencabulator has now reached a very high level of technical development.

It has been successfully used for operating nofer trunnions. In addition, whenever a barescent skor motion is required, it may be employed in conjunction with a drawn reciprocating dingle arm to reduce sinusoidal depleneration.

Reprinted from:
©The Journal of Irreproducible Results, v9 #2 p20, December 1960

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Simple remedies

We continue to see federal employees past and present act unethically and unprofessionally, and we yawn.  Probably because there isn't much that anyone can do about it.  Congressional impeachment is a toothless punishment: it is meaningless beyond the federal government, and the threat of Congressional impeachment only makes dishonest men laugh.

So, here's a proposition: let's pass a law that provides accountability for the bad acts of federal employees past and present, and give it some teeth.  Give it a punishment worthy of a crime.  A punishment requiring no arrest, no indictment, no trial - no court.  In fact, let's keep it completely out of the courts.

Pass a law something like this:

"Any current or former federal employee who has been impeached by either House of Congress, who has knowingly and/or purposefully lied multiple times under oath in front of either Congress or in Federal Court, or who refuses to testify under oath either in front of Congress or a Federal court, shall be terminated as soon as convenient to the Government, and shall lose all current or back pay, all financial or in-kind pension, and any and all other government-provided benefits as of the date of the violation causing such termination."

Of the above three situations - impeachment, perjury, or "taking the 5th" - only perjury is an actual crime.  The other two are lapses in behavior and more than likely violate existing rules.

The loss of pay, pension, and benefits are each a non-judicial administrative action that are essentially the same as being terminated "for cause".  No jail time, no adjudicated fine, no restriction of liberty.  No charges are required, and no appearance before a judge.  Since these are all actions that can be taken without the need for due process, they can be executed without the involvement of a court.

You're terminated.  Get out.  We'll pack your desk things and send them to you.  Turn in your badge at the front desk on your way out.

Aside from the aforementioned penalties, no other actions should be contemplated or taken as a result of the violation of professional rules.  If a crime is involved, it should be prosecuted separately from these administrative actions.  After termination, if the person wants to take a job in the private sector, so be it.  Goodbye - have a nice life.

This would not be a partisan political action.  It is a sensible action taken by private sector companies every day, and an action that would protect administrations of both parties.

It comes down to this: you made a promise to do your job in an ethical manner.  If you didn't perform ethically, you broke your promise - why should the government be obligated to keep its promise when you didn't keep yours?

Expectations go both ways.

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

The enemy of my enemy... is... whom?

Perhaps it's time to rip the MSM, Dems, and a lot of Republicans for their comments about Trump's trip and his news conference comments.  Perhaps it's time to rip everyone for their memory loss about past Russia summits and their aftermath, including a past summit between Eisenhower and Khrushchev that almost caused a nuclear war.  Perhaps it's time to rip everyone for their immediate condemnation of Reagan's summit.

Perhaps a bit of revisiting is due here.

And before I get started, don't get the wrong idea: I'm not an apologist for Russia.  I think Putin is dangerous.  But...

Even before Trump corrected his misstatement, pundits were suggesting that Russia's hacking of the DNC emails was actually worse than China's hacking of the OPM.  I would suggest that Russia's hacking is relatively benign when you consider China, NORK, Iran, Pakistan (the Irwan family), and other bad actors around the world - and what they have done, hack-wise.  Short-term memory loss seems rampant among the political class.

I would note that American fear of Russia appears to be pathological, not logical or reasonable.  And that the reaction to Trump's visit and comments is based on Trump's not bowing to the existing orthodoxy of Russia being our worst enemy, regardless of how Romney feels about them.

Even I know that China has been dumping money into the coffers of members of Congress by hiring family members of representatives, investing in their companies, overspending on services provided by "friends", etc.  China has been buying influence - this is provable.  Heck, even the relatives of McConnell's wife, Elaine Chao, have done well.  And Chao has been good-speaking China to McConnell forever.

China uses plenty of money to swing opinion.  Russia doesn't.  Therefore, Russia is the "bad guy" and China - our economic enemy, and the scourge of the South China Sea - is the "good guy"?  Seriously??

Neither China nor Russia is our close friend.  But China can destroy the US economically.  Russia can't.

So... why is Russia the "bad guy"?

I think Trump has recognized these concepts.  He has accused China of being a money manipulator, stealing our tech and our intellectual property, "dumping" products on American shores, and maintaining a trade surplus by heavy tariffs on American imports.  He knows that China is at economic war with the US and knows that China has publicly declared that it wants to be the world's biggest economy - even if it means destroying the American economy.

Meanwhile, we do very little trade with Russia.  Russia's biggest export right now is energy, and they're selling it to Europe.  I dare anyone to show me other Russian exports that would make Russia an economic threat to the US.

Russia shouldn't be our enemy.  In fact, Russia doesn't want to be our enemy.  Yes, Russia still has hegemonic ambitions on the European continent, but look at the past invasions.  Both were meant to give Russia access to the world through areas it lost when the USSR broke up.  Since the illegal and warlike invasions of Crimea and Ukraine, Russia has threatened other areas... but it hasn't taken any action.  It may be that, regardless of Putin's "dreams of reconstituting the USSR", Russian expansionism may be over for now.

And anyone with half a brain and knowledge of the current state of governments in the European Continent knows that countries from Estonia to (the rest of) Ukraine have no desire to return to rule by Russia.  Many of them joined NATO specifically to gain protection from the West.  Putin's dreams of Russian expansionism, at least in Eastern Europe, are essentially over - for now.

That's why I think Trump was right, both when he misspoke and when he issued a correction.  Both statements remain correct.  Our intelligence services deserve our full support - but the reports they generated have been fatally flawed and biased.  Trusting Comey, Brennan, and Clapper was a mistake because all three lied, misled the public, and acted against American democracy.  Trump's comments were meant for them: it was they who used baseless and unverified/unverifiable "documents" to begin an investigation into Trump's "collusion" with Russians.

Um... isn't that exactly what they accuse Putin of doing?

If anyone is working to undermine the American democratic process, it is the anti-Trump MSM, Dems, and others who are single-minded in their desire to destroy Trump, seemingly for pushing back against the !!!1!!RUSSIAENEMYRUSSIAENEMYRUSSIA!@@!!! dialogue in an attempt to - yes, yet again - push the reset button.

Only time will tell... but I also think time will show that Trump was correct: our enemy isn't Russia.

Our true enemy is China.