Who's stopping you?

I'd reveal the source of this (probably unoriginal) joke if I didn't think it would interfere with its enjoyment:
Recently, while I was working in the flower beds in the front yard, my neighbors stopped to chat as they returned home from walking their dog. 
During our friendly conversation, I asked their 12 year old daughter what she wanted to be when she grows up. She said she wanted to be President someday. 
Both of her parents -- liberal Democrats -- were standing there, so I asked her, "If you were President what would be the first thing you would do?" 
She replied, "I'd give food and houses to all the homeless people." 
Her parents beamed with pride! 
"Wow . . . what a worthy goal!" I said. "But you don't have to wait until you're President to do that!" I told her. 
"What do you mean?" she replied. 
So I told her, "You can come over to my house and mow the lawn, pull weeds, and trim my hedge, and I'll pay you $50.  Then you can go over to the grocery store where the homeless guy hangs out, and you can give him the $50 to use toward food and a new house." 
She thought that over for a few seconds, then she looked me straight in the eye and asked, "Why doesn't the homeless guy come over and do the work, and you can just pay him the $50?" 
I said, "Welcome to the Republican Party." 
Her parents aren't speaking to me.

Guess that ethnicity

"Ah, 'youth,'" as Mark Steyn would say.  RT News reports on the fifth straight night of rioting in Stockholm.  I got to paragraph 21 before the article identified the "youths" or "youth gangs" or "rampaging teenagers" as "Young Muslims."  But at that point, at least, the article got down to basics:
“The problem is not from the Swedish government or from the Swedish people,” the editor in chief of Dispatch International said.  “The last 20 years or so, we have seen so many immigrants coming to Sweden that really don’t like Sweden.  They do not want to integrate, they do not want to live in [Swedish] society:  Working, paying taxes and so on."
*     *     *  
“The people come here now because they know that Sweden will give them money for nothing.  They don’t have to work, they don’t have to pay taxes – they can just stay here and get a lot of money.  That is really a problem,” added [Swedish journalist Ingrid Carlqvist].
*     *     *   
"It’s always the same problem. There is a massive refusal by Muslim youngsters of the basics of Western society... and they take any excuse whatsoever to show that with violence – that is where the problem is,” [said Gerolf Annemans, the parliamentary leader of a Belgian far-right nationalist political party].
In related news, opinion-makers struggle to identify the mysterious motivation of youths who beheaded a British soldier this week while screaming Islamofascist slogans.  We're going to put the same team on it that's spent the last few months or years struggling to decipher the impenetrable motives of the Fort Hood shooter and those guys who got so upset by a video in Benghazi.

I Imagine This Worked Out Fine...

“Uh, I don’t have anybody to send out there,” the 911 dispatcher told the woman. “You know, obviously, if he comes inside the residence and assaults you, can you ask him to go away?
Yeah, absolutely. What if he says no?

Rules for Swordsmen

A British soldier was decapitated a few hundred yards from a UK Army base by two men with large knives saying: “We swear by almighty Allah we will never stop fighting you.” The men were shot when police responded 20 minutes later.
If I were the British Army, I would reintroduce a sword to the uniform and mandate training in it. There's no reason to lose fights like this except that our side has unilaterally disarmed. US soldiers, all of whom are trained with arms, and many of whom own private firearms and are licensed to carry them off post, found themselves prey for Nidal Hassan because regulations disarmed almost every soldier on base. British soldiers are having their heads hacked off with meat cleavers, because they -- also like people coming off of many US military bases, especially those run by the Air Force -- can't even carry a combat knife, or even a lengthy pocket knife.

"They" want us to be this way, The Belmont Club says. Allahpundit notes that the British Army's actual response is to order soldiers to take off their uniforms:
Hard to imagine a more demoralizing order for a soldier than to tell him to take off the uniform and hide after an enemy’s attack. And the powers that be know it: They’re stressing that the order’s temporary in order to blunt public indignation over their decision.

The twisted punchline here is that the victim yesterday wasn’t wearing a uniform. The two degenerates who murdered him apparently targeted him because they saw him entering or exiting a barracks. There’s the next move, presumably — evacuate the barracks nationwide until they’re safe. For soldiers.
We don't have to lose this fight. There is no reason we ought to be losing it, except that we have a political class -- internationally, here and in Europe -- that has all the wrong principles, and that ought to be stripped of every last power.

A Guide To The Pronunciation Of Criticially Important Words

Some of you gentlemen may find this guide very helpful. The rest of you will enjoy the commentary.

Poster child for smaller government

Apparently I'm not the only one wondering how Lois Lerner could possibly still have her IRS job.  We might all have reasonably assumed that she couldn't "take five and survive"; after all, no one has a Constitutional right to a cushy federal job.

No doubt the White House would like to ship Ms. Lerner off to a post in Siberia right about now.  Unfortunately, any attempt to discipline her will take months if not years to process, and will be the occasion of awkward questions about why she used to be everyone's favorite administrator and now suddenly is being attacked for carrying out what was so obviously a broadly implemented policy approved from the top.  That makes Ms. Lerner a high-profile albatross:  a top tax collector who got caught, took the Fifth, and kept her job.

It appears the voting public (that tiny sliver that pays attention) is about to get an object lesson in how the federal government behaves just like one of those bloated unionized workforces everyone hates, larded with chair-warmers who can never be fired no matter how dishonest or incompetent.  And for this we hock our financial future to Chinese investors?  To pay for a government that's several times bigger than it needs to be?  A government whose really active workers do too much as it is, even while a big chunk of their colleagues take a free ride, secure from any meaningful discipline or termination?

Maybe Ms. Lerner is doing more public good staying at her post after all.  May this debacle drag on right through the 2014 elections.

Two Paths

Down one path for our Republic, we have Supreme Court rulings and dissenting opinions like these.

In the Child Labor Tax Case, in which the government sought to protect children from excessively long hours in sweatshops, Chief Justice William Howard Taft, writing for the court, rejected the government's broad taxing interpretation and struck the law as unconstitutional.  He wrote in part,

a court must be blind not to see that the so-called tax is imposed to stop the employment of children within the age limits prescribed.  Its prohibitory and regulatory effect and purpose are palpable.  All others can see and understand this.  How can we properly shut our minds to it?
He answered his question in this way [emphasis mine]:
It is the high duty and function of this court…to decline to recognize or enforce seeming laws of Congress, dealing with subjects not entrusted to Congress, but left or committed by the supreme law of the land to the control of the States.  We cannot avoid the duty even though it require us to refuse to give effect to legislation designed to promote the highest good.  The good sought in unconstitutional legislation is an insidious feature because it leads citizens and legislators of good purpose to promote it without thought of the serious breach it will make in the ark of our covenant or the harm which will come from breaking down recognized standards.
The wisdom of Taft's ruling, however painful it must have been to write, wants no further comment.

A few years later, Justice James Clark McReynolds dissented from the Supreme Court's ruling in NLRB v. Laughlin Steel Corp, which upheld the constitutionality of the NLRB, which had the follow-on result of amending from the bench the Commerce Clause to allow the Federal government to reach inside any of the several States to…regulate…activities that had been held for the preceding 100+ years to be wholly intrastate and so beyond the reach of the Feds.  McReynolds wrote this:
There is no ground on which reasonably to hold that refusal by a manufacturer, whose raw materials come from states other than that of his factory and whose products are regularly carried to other states, to bargain collectively with employees in his manufacturing plant, directly affects interstate commerce.  In such business, there is not one but two distinct movements or streams in interstate transportation.  The first brings in raw material and there ends.  Then follows manufacture, a separate and local activity.  Upon completion of this and not before, the second distinct movement or stream in interstate commerce begins and the products go to other states.  Such is the common course for small as well as large industries.  It is unreasonable and unprecedented to say the commerce clause confers upon Congress power to govern relations between employers and employees in these local activities.
McReynolds then exposed the implications of the majority's opinion:
We are told that Congress may protect the "stream of commerce" and that one who buys raw material without the state, manufactures it therein, and ships the output to another state is in that stream.  Therefore it is said he may be prevented from doing anything which may interfere with its flow.

This, too, goes beyond the constitutional limitations heretofore enforced.  If a man raises cattle and regularly delivers them to a carrier for interstate shipment, may Congress prescribe the conditions under which he may employ or discharge helpers on the ranch?  The products of a mine pass daily into interstate commerce; many things are brought to it from other states.  Are the owners and the miners within the power of Congress in respect of the latter's tenure and discharge?  May a mill owner be prohibited from closing his factory or discontinuing his business because so to do would stop the flow of products to and from his plant in interstate commerce?  May employees in a factory be restrained from quitting work in a body because this will close the factory and thereby stop the flow of commerce?  May arson of a factory be made a federal offense whenever this would interfere with such flow?  If the business cannot continue with the existing wage scale, may Congress command a reduction?  If the ruling of the Court just announced is adhered to, these questions suggest some of the problems certain to arise.

And if this theory of a continuous 'stream of commerce' as now defined is correct, will it become the duty of the federal government hereafter to suppress every strike which by possibility it may cause a blockade in that stream?
Imagine the response, for instance, of unions were their wage demands or strikes held unconstitutional (the latter which, incidentally, must upend the heart of Clayton Antitrust).

Down another path we have these, in the short and sweet:

Justice Louis Brandeis, in dissenting from the Court in Burnet v. Coronado Oil & Gas Co, a case that rejected the application of Federal income and excess profits taxes to income derived from a particular kind of state-granted mineral lease, wrote,
…in most matters it is more important that the applicable rule of law be settled than that it be settled right.  This is commonly true even where the error is a matter of serious concern, provided correction can be had by legislation.
Thus, if an injustice is done through erroneous application of a law, "justice" can only be served by subjecting everyone to that same injustice.  This is a very Sorelian view of the uses of justice (albeit he was writing about "truth" in particular). Yet, it should have been apparent to Brandeis (and I think it was) that "can be had" is not the same as "will be had."  Even so, were the delay before legislative correction is made a brief one, that injustice still can be spread far in the interval.

Then there's Thurgood Marshall's arrogant answer to a clerk's request at a Justice-hosted luncheon for Supreme Court clerks that Marshall describe his judicial philosophy (it was Marshall's turn to host the luncheon):
You do what you think is right and let the law catch up.
La loi, c'est moi.  Louis XIV would have felt right at home in Marshall's...court.

Today, we have the following affairs, which to be sure are the actions of the Executive Branch, which has the capacity to act promptly, and not those of the Judicial Branch.  Nevertheless, the Executive and the Judiciary form two-thirds of our Federal government (I've elided the behavior of the Congress, of which the ACA and Dodd-Frank are current examples), and such activity is the inevitable result of a Big Government that considers the law to be a convenience to be manipulated rather than a circumscription of governmental power.  

·         The NLRB continuing to operate as though two Appellate Court (one of which with national jurisdiction) rulings that they have no quorum do not exist.
·         The failures and cover-up related to the Benghazi preparation, intra-attack, and post-attack events.
·         The failure and cover-up related to IRS targeting government-disfavored Americans and groups of Americans.
·         The naked assault on the free press and on individuals of the press by DoJ.
·         Kathleen Sebelius "encouraging" companies regulated by her HHS to make "contributions" toward the funding of Federal insurance exchanges. 

It's a long list; these are only a few.

It's clear which path the Progressives have chosen for our country.  We can't fade in the traces now.  The struggle is only begun.

Eric Hines

Update: to add the opening sentence, which was omitted in my cut-and-paste posting, and to correct my formatting error in the first Taft paragraph quoted above.

Apropos of nothing

I just like this song.

Voice Squad is a favorite of mine, but they have the strangest tendency to drift up in pitch between verses.  Most people drift down.

These aren't quite the lyrics that Voice Squad uses, but they're close:

As I roved out one fine May morning,
To view the meadows and the flowers gay,
Whom should I spy, but my own true lover
As she sat under yon willow tree?

I took off my hat and I did salute her;
I did salute her most courageously.
But she turned around, and the tears fell from her
Saying, False young man, you have deluded me.

A diamond ring I own I gave to you,
A diamond ring to wear on your right hand.
But the vows you made, love, you went and broke them
And married the lassie that had the land.

If I married the lassie that had the land, my love,
It's that I'll rue 'till the day I die.
When misfortune falls, sure no man may shun it.
I was blindfolded, sure I'll ne'er deny.

And at night when I go to my bed of slumber,
The thoughts of my true love are in my mind.
When I turn around to embrace my darling,
Instead of gold, sure 'tis brass I find.

And I wish the queen would call home her armies
From the West Indies, America and Spain.
And every man from his wedded woman,
In hopes that you and I might meet again.

Japan melts down

Financially, that is.  Trading has been halted on Japanese government bonds future for the second time this week as prices went into freefall.

Money is a promise.  If no one believes the promise, it has no value.

Eyes on the ball

Good advice from Benjamin Domanech at RealClearPolitics:
[Republicans] must willfully set aside Obama’s presence in the fray, leaving the short term personalized attacks on the table, and go after the much bigger prize.  Obama isn’t running for office again.  Liberalism is.
              *     *     *
When this period of scandal draws to a close, if the idea still survives that a more competent and ethical president would be able to effectively govern a $4 trillion bureaucracy, it will be a sign Republicans have failed.  They can succeed by ignoring the tempting bait of making this about the president they despise, and focusing instead on the false philosophy of expansive government which represents the true danger to the American experiment.
Yes, his name should be mud for trying to evade responsibility for all of this, whether through willful ignorance or outright lying.  But that can wait.  By exposing himself as an empty credential-collector, he's made himself irrelevant.  The country remains important.

Why is she still drawing a paycheck?

Is there any excuse for failing to fire a high-level administration official who takes the Fifth in testifying before Congress about abuses committed by her own agency and division?

Congress is noodling over whether Lerner waived her Fifth Amendment rights by choosing to start with an exculpatory speech, then refusing to take questions about it.  They also offered to negotiate limited or "use" immunity, but she stuck to her refusal to answer.  This discredits every boss she has, right to the top.

A Merciless Wind

Yesterday I was talking with an Egyptian I know, who happens also to be an expert on the French language and culture. Apparently when he was young, the Catholic schools once set up by the French government there were still very active. Education was in both French and Arabic, with the result that he was able to attend a university in France, and then eventually become an academic himself.

A scholar of that sort naturally thinks of the current revolutionary changes in Egypt in the light of the French Revolution. At least the current revolutionaries have something they consider sacred, which provides a stability not found in France. There the desire was to overturn every heritage, to sweep away every sacred or traditional thing.

He told a story of a man who came to Paris in 1793. The guard demanded he introduce himself.

Je suis le monsieur le Marquis de Saint-Janvier.

The guard said this was impossible, as there was no such thing as a "monsieur" anymore -- the word means literally 'my lord,' and the revolution had eliminated the class of gentlemen. Everyone is now a 'citoyen.' So, what is your name?

Je suis le Marquis de Saint-Janvier.

Impossible! There are no longer marquis. The revolution has eliminated nobility. Who are you?

Je suis a citoyen de Saint-Janvier.

Impossible! The revolution has eliminated religion. There are no longer saints. Who are you?

Je suis Janvier.

As it turns out, that too was impossible, because the revolution had eliminated the months of the year.

Sometimes it seems like our current society is bent on the same thing, except in slow motion so everyone has a chance to get used to it.

Blowing whistles

HotAir claims there is new Benghazi testimony about to break:
Stevens’ mission in Benghazi, they will say, was to buy back Stinger missiles from al-Qaeda groups issued to them by the State Department, not by the CIA. Such a mission would usually be a CIA effort, but the intelligence agency had opposed the idea because of the high risk involved in arming “insurgents” with powerful weapons that endanger civilian aircraft. 
Hillary Clinton still wanted to proceed because, in part, as one of the diplomats said, she wanted “to overthrow Gaddafi on the cheap.”
Meanwhile, Jim Geraghty reports on a looming "Pinnochio" shortage in his piece entitled "Washington Post Forced to Begin Using Its Strategic Pinnochio Reserve," but sadly, the NRO site appears to be down for the moment.   Meanwhile, as a commenter I read yesterday noted, Disney is considering cracking down on copyright infringement in the widespread use of that meme, prompting the Washington Post to look around for another example of a lying puppet; he suggested "Jay Carney."

Nice small business.

Wouldn't want to see anything happen to it.

This story raises the usual question:  deliberate coordination of attack on a political enemy, or just a government so large and intrusive that this kind of interference and hostile scrutiny is the norm?

The High Feast of Pentecost

“The king stablished all his knights, and gave them that were of lands not rich, he gave them lands, and charged them never to do outrageousity nor murder, and always to flee treason; also, by no mean to be cruel, but to give mercy unto him that asketh mercy, upon pain of forfeiture of their worship and lordship of King Arthur for evermore; and always to do ladies, damosels, and gentlewomen succor upon pain of death. Also, that no man take no battles in a wrongful quarrel for no law, ne for no world’s goods. Unto this were all the knights sworn of the Table Round, both old and young. And every year were they sworn at the high feast of Pentecost.”

-Sir Thomas Malory
When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.

-Acts of the Apostles
Then anon they heard cracking and crying of thunder, that them thought the place should all to drive. In the midst of this blast entered a sunbeam more clearer by seven times than ever they saw day, and all they were alighted of the grace of the Holy Ghost. Then began every knight to behold other, and either saw other, by their seeming, fairer than ever they saw afore.... Then there entered into the hall the Holy Greal covered with white samite, but there was none might see it, nor who bare it.... And then the king yielded thankings to God, of His good grace that he had sent them. Certes, said the king, we ought to thank our Lord Jesu greatly for that he hath shewed us this day, at the reverence of this high feast of Pentecost.

-Sir Thomas Malory
It was on Pentecost that the Holy Grail went about in the world, leading the knights out from Camelot to their destruction in quest of God's truth. It was on Pentecost that the apostles, likewise keeping together in safety and company, were set afire to go out into the world to quest.

Of the knights who went on that quest few returned again to Camelot. For a long time I thought that was a warning against seeking too much after a perfection that was not meant for human kind.

But of the apostles, almost all were martyred: all but John.