Judges, Hubris, and Same-Sex Marriage

By Dennis Prager

In 2006, 57 percent of Virginia’s voters voted to amend their state’s constitution to define marriage as the union of a man and a woman. Last week, U.S. District Judge Arenda Wright Allen ruled the amendment unconstitutional.

In 2004, 76 percent of Oklahoma’s voters voted to amend their state’s constitution to define marriage as the union of a man and a woman. On Jan. 14, 2014, U.S. District Judge Terence Kern ruled the amendment unconstitutional.

In 2004, 66 percent of Utah’s electorate voted to amend their state’s constitution to define marriage as between a man and a woman. On Dec. 20, 2013, U.S. District Judge Robert J. Shelby ruled the amendment unconstitutional.

In 2004, 75 percent of Kentucky’s voters amended their state’s constitution to define marriage as between a man and a woman. On Feb. 12, 2014, U.S. District Judge John G. Heyburn II “struck down part of the state ban that he wrote treated ‘gay and lesbian persons differently in a way that demeans them'” (Washington Post).

In 2008, 52 percent of California’s voters amended their state’s constitution to define marriage as between a man and woman. On August 4, 2010, U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker ruled that vote unconstitutional.

There is no doubt that federal judges will continue to do this throughout the country. Even the vote of 81 percent of Alabama voters will count for nothing to some federal judge.

Society may no longer define marriage in the only way marriage has ever been defined in the annals of recorded history. Many societies allowed polygamy, many allowed child marriages, some allowed marriage within families; but none in thousands of years defined marriage as the union of people of the same sex.

None of this matters to these judges or to all those who seek to re-define marriage and can’t convince a majority of their fellow citizens to agree.

For them, it is identical to ruling that laws that banned interracial marriages were unconstitutional. But that argument is utterly flawed. First, the analogy is false because there is no difference between black people and white people, while there are enormous differences between males and females. Second, no great moral tradition or thinking ever forbade interracial marriages (inter-religious marriages were sometimes forbidden). Moses, for example, married a black woman, and neither the Bible nor God hinted that it was wrong.

Some conclusions:

Proponents of same-sex marriage regularly label opponents “radical” and “extremist.” However, given that no society in thousands of years has allowed same-sex marriage, it is, by definition, the proponents of same-sex marriage whose position is radical and extreme. You cannot re-define marriage in a more radical way than allowing members of the same sex to marry. You can argue that is the moral thing to do. But you cannot argue that is it not radical.

All these judges have a hubris that is simply breathtaking. They not only know that they read the Constitution more accurately than the vast majority of the residents of many of America’s states, but they are also entirely comfortable with forcing great majorities of Americans to accept this new definition of marriage.

That it is conceit rather than legal reasoning is easily shown when one peruses the opinions of these judges.

I will cite only Judge Vaughn Walker as an example:

Walker: “Proposition 8 fails to advance any rational basis in singling out gay men and lesbians for denial of a marriage license.”

“No rational basis”? This is hubris. What he is stating is that for all of Western history — and contemporaneous non-Western history — there has not been a rational basis for defining marriage as the union of a man a woman. Vaughn Walker is convinced that he thinks more rationally than every moral leader and thinker in history, not one of whom advocated same-sex marriage. Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, the Enlightenment — all were irrational regarding same-sex marriage, according to Judge Walker.

In Judge Walker’s mind, it is irrational, just to cite one example, to prefer that men and women form families in order to provide children with a mother and a father.

Walker: “Indeed, the evidence shows Proposition 8 does nothing more than enshrine in the California Constitution the notion that opposite sex couples are superior to same-sex couples.”

Yes, without in any way reducing the worth or the decency of any gay human being or dismissing the depth of same-sex love, California, like the rest of the world, has indeed believed in the superiority of man-woman unions. Not in the superiority of straight men and women as people: The gay human being is created in God’s image every bit as much as the straight human being, and there are gays who have led vastly more moral lives than many straights. But regarding how the family — the building block of society — should be constituted, the civilized world has always believed that it should be based on a married mother and father.

Society has also believed in the superiority of mother-father families to single-parent families. And that, too, never meant that every married person is inherently superior to every single person.

Walker: “Proposition 8 prevents California from fulfilling its constitutional obligation to provide marriages on an equal basis.”

This is another example of the lack of serious thought — as opposed to serious passion — that underlies the movement to redefine marriage. If American society has a “constitutional obligation to provide marriages on an equal basis,” then there is no plausible argument for denying polygamous relationships, or brothers and sisters, or parents and adult children, the right to marry.

On the matter of same-sex marriage, mass passions and coercive judges are winning. Above all, hubris is winning. That is why proponents always assert that they are “on the right side of history.”

But history is very long. Our grandchildren, or their grandchildren, will judge whether this is true. The Left since Marx has asserted that every one of their radical positions — such as the demise of capitalism — is on the right side of history. Virtually none turned out to be.


How To Control Congress

Let’s assume that each of our 535 congressmen cares about the destructive impact of deficits and debt on the future of our country. Regardless of party, congressmen face enormous lobbying pressures and awards to spend more and little or no pressure and awards to spend less. The nation’s founders would be horrified by today’s congressional spending that consumes 25 percent of our GDP. Contrast that to the years 1787 to the 1920s when federal government spending never exceeded 4 percent of our GDP except in wartime. Today, federal, state and local government consumes 43 percent of what Americans produce each year. The Washington, D.C.-based Tax Foundation computes that the average taxpayer is forced to work from Jan. 1 to mid-April to pay federal, state and local taxes. If he were taxed enough to pay the $1.5 trillion federal deficit, he’d be forced to work until mid-May.

Tax revenue is not the problem. The federal government has collected just about 20 percent of the nation’s GDP almost every year since 1960. Federal spending has exceeded revenue for most of that period and has taken an unprecedented leap since 2008 to produce today’s massive deficit. Since federal spending is the problem, that’s where our focus should be.

Cutting spending is politically challenging. Every spending constituency sees its handout as vital, whether it’s Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid recipients or farmers, poor people, educators or the military. It’s easy for congressmen to say yes to these spending constituencies because whether it’s Democrats or Republicans in control, they face no hard and fast bottom line.

The bottom line that Americans need is a constitutional amendment limiting congressional spending to some fraction, say 20 percent, of the GDP. That limit could be exceeded only if the president declared a state of emergency along with a two-thirds vote of approval in both houses of Congress. Each year of a declared state of emergency would require another two-thirds vote in each house.

During the early ’80s, I was a member of the National Tax Limitation Committee’s distinguished blue-ribbon drafting committee that included notables such as Milton Friedman, James Buchanan, Paul McCracken, Bill Niskanen, Craig Stubblebine, Robert Bork, Aaron Wildavsky, Robert Nisbet, Robert Carleson and others. We drafted a Balanced Budget/Spending Limitation amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The U.S. Senate passed that amendment on Aug. 4, 1982, by a vote of 69 to 31, two more than the two-thirds vote required for approval of a constitutional amendment. The vote was bipartisan: 47 Republicans, 21 Democrats and 1 Independent voted for the amendment.

It was a different story in the House of Representatives. Its leadership, under Tip O’Neill tried to prevent a vote on the amendment; however, a discharge petition forced a vote on it. While the amendment was approved by a majority (236 to 187), it did not meet the two-thirds required by Article V of the Constitution. The vote was again bipartisan: 167 Republicans, 69 Democrats. The amendment can be found in Milton and Rose Friedman’s “Tyranny of the Status Quo.”

The benefit of a balanced budget/spending limitation amendment is that it would give Congress a bottom line just as we in the private sector have a bottom line. Congress would be forced to play one spending constituency off against another, rather than, as it does today, satisfy most spending constituents and pass the buck to the rest of us and future generations in the forms of federal deficits and debt.

The 1980s discussions settled on giving Congress a spending limit of 18 or 20 percent of our GDP. I thought a 10 percent limit was better. When queried by a reporter as to why 10 percent, I told him that if 10 percent is good enough for the Baptist Church, it ought to be good enough for Congress.


Free or Fair?

By Walter E. Williams

How many of us would prefer that the Founders had written the First Amendment so as to focus on fairness rather than freedom and instead wrote: Congress shall make no unfair laws respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the fair exercise thereof; or abridging the fairness of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people to peaceably assemble in a fair fashion, and to fairly petition the Government for a redress of grievances”?

How supportive would you be to a person who argued that he was for free religion but fair religion, or he was for free speech but fair speech? Would you be supportive of government efforts to limit unfair religion and unfair speech? How might life look under a regime of fairness of religion, speech and the press?

Suppose a newspaper published a statement like “President Obama might easily end his term alongside Jimmy Carter as one of America’s worse presidents.” Some people might consider that fair speech while other people denounce it as unfair speech. What to do? A tribunal would have to be formed to decide on the fairness or unfairness of the statement. It goes without saying that the political makeup of the tribunal would be a matter of controversy. Once such a tribunal was set up, how much generalized agreement would there be on what it decreed? And, if deemed unfair speech, what should the penalties be?

The bottom line is that what’s fair or unfair is an elusive concept and the same applies to trade. Last summer, I purchased a 2010 LS 460 Lexus, through a U.S. intermediary, from a Japanese producer for $70,000. Here’s my question to you: Was that a fair or unfair trade? I was free to keep my $70,000 or purchase the car. The Japanese producer was free to keep his Lexus or sell me the car. As it turned out, I gave up my $70,000 and took possession of the car, and the Japanese producer gave up possession of the car and took possession of my money. The exchange occurred because I saw myself as being better off and so did the Japanese producer. I think it was both free and fair trade, and I’d like an American mercantilist to explain to me how it wasn’t.

Mercantilists have absolutely no argument when we recognize that trade is mostly between individuals. Mercantilists pretend that trade occurs between nations such as U.S. trading with England or Japan to appeal to our jingoism. First, does the U.S. trade with Japan and England? In other words, is it members of the U.S. Congress trading with their counterparts in the Japanese Diet or the English Parliament? That’s nonsense. Trade occurs between individuals in one country, through intermediaries, with individuals in another country.

Who might protest that my trade with the Lexus manufacturer was unfair? If you said an American car manufacturer and their union workers, go to the head of the class. They would like Congress to restrict foreign trade so that they can sell their cars at a pleasing price and their workers earn a pleasing wage. As a matter of fact, it’s never American consumers who complain about cheaper prices. It’s always American producers and their unions who do the complaining. That ought to tell us something.


What Our Constitution Permits

By Walter E. Williams

Here’s the House of Representatives new rule: “A bill or joint resolution may not be introduced unless the sponsor has submitted for printing in the Congressional Record a statement citing as specifically as practicable the power or powers granted to Congress in the Constitution to enact the bill or joint resolution.” Unless a congressional bill or resolution meets this requirement, it cannot be introduced.

If the House of Representatives had the courage to follow through on this rule, their ability to spend and confer legislative favors would be virtually eliminated. Also, if the rule were to be applied to existing law, they’d wind up repealing at least two-thirds to three-quarters of congressional spending.

You might think, for example, that there’s constitutional authority for Congress to spend for highway construction and bridges. President James Madison on March 3, 1817 vetoed a public works bill saying: “Having considered the bill this day presented to me entitled ‘An act to set apart and pledge certain funds for internal improvements,’ and which sets apart and pledges funds ‘for constructing roads and canals, and improving the navigation of water courses, in order to facilitate, promote, and give security to internal commerce among the several States, and to render more easy and less expensive the means and provisions for the common defense,’ I am constrained by the insuperable difficulty I feel in reconciling the bill with the Constitution of the United States and to return it with that objection to the House of Representatives, in which it originated.”

Madison, who is sometimes referred to as the father of our Constitution, added to his veto statement, “The legislative powers vested in Congress are specified and enumerated in the eighth section of the first article of the Constitution, and it does not appear that the power proposed to be exercised by the bill is among the enumerated powers.”

Here’s my question to any member of the House who might vote for funds for “constructing roads and canals, and improving the navigation of water courses”: Was Madison just plain constitutionally ignorant or has the Constitution been amended to permit such spending?

What about handouts to poor people, businesses, senior citizens and foreigners?

Madison said, “Charity is no part of the legislative duty of the government.”

In 1854, President Franklin Piece vetoed a bill to help the mentally ill, saying, “I cannot find any authority in the Constitution for public charity. (To approve the measure) would be contrary to the letter and spirit of the Constitution and subversive to the whole theory upon which the Union of these States is founded.”

President Grover Cleveland vetoed a bill for charity relief, saying, “I can find no warrant for such an appropriation in the Constitution, and I do not believe that the power and duty of the General Government ought to be extended to the relief of individual suffering which is in no manner properly related to the public service or benefit.”

Again, my question to House members who’d vote for handouts is: Were these leaders just plain constitutionally ignorant or mean-spirited, or has our Constitution been amended to authorize charity?

Suppose a congressman attempts to comply with the new rule by asserting that his measure is authorized by the Constitution’s general welfare clause. Here’s what Thomas Jefferson said: “Congress has not unlimited powers to provide for the general welfare, but only those specifically enumerated.”

Madison added, “With respect to the two words ‘general welfare,’ I have always regarded them as qualified by the detail of powers connected with them. To take them in a literal and unlimited sense would be a metamorphosis of the Constitution into a character which there is a host of proofs was not contemplated by its creators.”

John Adams warned, “A Constitution of Government once changed from Freedom, can never be restored. Liberty, once lost, is lost forever.” I am all too afraid that’s where our nation stands today and the blame lies with the American people.


Our Moral Dilemma

Most of our nation’s problems are a direct result of our being immune, hostile or indifferent to several moral questions. Let’s start out with the simple and move to the more complex. Or, stated another way, let’s begin with questions that generate the least hostility, moving to those that generate the greatest.

If a person benefits from a hamburger, a suit of clothing, an apartment or an education, who should be forced to pay for it? I believe the question has only one moral answer, namely the person who benefits from a good or service should be forced to pay for it, that’s if we wish to distinguish ourselves from thieves who only care about enjoying something and who pays is irrelevant.

Aside from the moral question is the economic efficiency question. If the user of something isn’t paying, it’s a good chance that he’ll overuse and waste it. Our country’s problem is that too many Americans want to benefit from things for which they expect other Americans to be taxed.

A related moral question is: Does one American have a moral right to live at the expense of another American? To be more explicit, should Congress, through its taxing authority, give the Bank of America, Citibank, Archer Daniels Midland, farmers, dairymen, college students and poor people the right to live off of the earnings of another American? I’m guessing that only a few Americans would agree with my answer: No one should be forcibly used to serve the purposes of another American.

You might say, “Williams, if Congress makes it a law, then you should submit to being used to serve the purposes of others.”

Such a vision introduces the next moral question, namely under what conditions is it moral to initiate force and threats of force against a person who himself has not initiated force or threats against another? Before that question can be answered, you might ask for a bit more specificity that has an important bearing on the answer, namely are we talking about a free or a non-free society?

In a free society, there’s no moral case that can be made for the initiation of force against one who hasn’t himself initiated force against another. But that’s a societal ideal that might be beyond our reach here on Earth. After all, we have delegated certain rights to government to provide certain services, as enumerated in the U.S. Constitution, particularly as specified in Article I, Section 8 of the document. Each American is duty-bound to pay his share.

So a case can be made for the initiation of force against one who refuses to pay his share of those expenses. If an American says that he’ll pay his share of those constitutionally mandated functions of the federal government but refuses to give up his earnings to be used for handouts to the Bank of America, Citibank, Archer Daniels Midland, farmers, dairymen, college students and poor people, should some kind of force be initiated against him?

I am all too afraid that most of my fellow Americans would answer, “Yes, some kind of force, fines or imprisonment should be initiated against a person who refuses to give up his earnings for the use of another.” Their only source of disagreement would be just who had the rights to another’s earnings.

Some would argue that farmers and dairymen don’t have a right to another’s earnings, but students and poor people do. Others would argue the opposite.

French economist Frederic Bastiat (1801-1850) said, “Government is the great fiction through which everybody endeavors to live at the expense of everybody else.” That endeavor has plagued mankind throughout his history and has now reached a crisis stage in Western Europe and the United States, and the prospects for reversing it don’t appear to be promising.


Get To Know the Common Core Marketing Overlords

By Michelle Malkin

They’re everywhere. Turn on Fox News, local news, Animal Planet, HGTV, The Family Channel or talk radio. Pro-Common Core commercials have been airing ad nauseam in a desperate attempt to persuade American families to support the beleaguered federal education standards/testing/technology racket. Who’s funding these public relations pushes? D.C. lobbyists, entrenched politicians and Big Business interests.

The foundational myth of Common Core is that it’s a “state-led” initiative with grassroots support that was crafted by local educators for the good of all of our children. But the cash and power behind the new ad campaign tell you all you need to know. For parents in the know, this will be a refresher course. But repeated lies must be countered with redoubled truths.

The Bipartisan Policy Center is one of the leading Common Core ad sponsors. It’s a self-described nonprofit “think tank” founded by a pantheon of Beltway barnacles: former Senate Majority Leaders Howard Baker, Tom Daschle, Bob Dole and George Mitchell.

“Lobbying tank” would be more accurate. The BPC’s “senior fellows” include K Street influence peddlers such as liberal Republican Robert Bennett, the big-spending Utah senator-turned-lobbyist booted from office by tea party conservatives; former Democratic Agriculture Secretary and House member-turned-lobbyist Dan Glickman; and liberal Democrat Byron Dorgan, the former North Dakota senator who crusaded as an anti-D.C. lobbying populist before retiring from office to work as, you guessed it, a D.C. lobbyist.

Jeb Bush’s “Foundation for Excellence in Education” is also saturating the airwaves with ads trying to salvage Common Core in the face of truly bipartisan, truly grassroots opposition in his own home state of Florida. As I’ve reported previously, the former GOP governor’s foundation is tied at the hip to the federally funded testing consortium called PARCC (Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers), which pulled in $186 million through the Obama administration’s Race to the Top program to develop Common Core tests.

One of the Bush foundation’s top corporate sponsors is Pearson, the multibillion-dollar educational publishing and testing conglomerate. Pearson snagged $23 million in contracts to design the first wave of PARCC test items and $1 billion for overpriced, insecure Common Core iPads purchased by the Los Angeles Unified School District, and is leading the $13.4 billion edutech cash-in catalyzed by Common Core’s technology mandates.

In December, you should know, the state of New York determined that Pearson’s nonprofit foundation had abused the law by siphoning charitable assets to benefit its for-profit arm in order to curry favor with the Common Core-peddling Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Pearson paid a $7.7 million settlement after the attorney general concluded that the company’s charitable arm was marketing Common Core course material it believed could be sold by the for-profit side for “tens of millions of dollars.” After being smoked out, the Pearson Foundation sold the courses to its corporate sibling for $15.1 million.

Then there’s the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which has joined the Clintonite-stocked Center for American Progress to promote Common Core and has earmarked more than $52 million on D.C. lobbying efforts.

Two D.C. trade associations, the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers, continue to rubber-stamp Common Core propaganda. They are both recipients of tens of millions of dollars in Gates Foundation money. NGA employed Democratic education wonk Dane Linn to help shepherd through the standards; Linn now flacks for Common Core at the D.C.-based Business Roundtable lobbying shop, another leading sponsor of the ads now bombarding your TVs and radios.

Despite its misleading name, the NGA does not represent all of the nation’s governors, holds only nonbinding resolution votes, and serves primarily as an “unelected, unrepresentative networking forum,” as Heartland Institute scholar Joy Pullmann put it, with funding from both taxpayers and private corporations. NGA’s Common Core standards writing meetings were convened in secret and are protected by confidentiality agreements.

Direct public input was nil. Of the 25 people in the NGA and CCSSO’s two Common Core standards-writing “working groups,” EdWeek blogger Anthony Cody reported in 2009, six were associated with the test-makers from the College Board, five were with fellow test-publishers ACT, and four were with Achieve Inc. Several had zero experience in standards writing.

Achieve Inc., you may recall from my previous work, is a Washington, D.C., nonprofit stocked with education lobbyists who’ve been working on federal standards schemes since the Clinton years. In fact, Achieve’s president, Michael Cohen, is a veteran Clinton-era educrat who also used to direct education policy for the NGA. In addition to staffing the standards writing committee and acting as lead Common Core coordinating mouthpiece, Achieve Inc. is the “project management partner” of the Common Core-aligned, tax-subsidized PARCC testing conglomerate.

Who’s behind Achieve? Reminder: The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has dumped $37 million into the group since 1999 to promote Common Core. According to a new analysis by former Georgia State University professor Jack Hassard, the Gates Foundation has now doled out an estimated total of $2.3 billion on Common Core-related grants to thousands of recipients in addition to NGA, CCSSO, the Foundation for Excellence in Education and Achieve.

As they prop up astroturfed front groups and agitprop, D.C.’s Common Core p.r. blitzers scoff at their critics as “black helicopter” theorists. Don’t read their lips. Just follow the money. This bipartisan power grab is Washington-led and Washington-fed. It’s not a conspiracy. It’s elementary: All Common Core roads lead to K Street.


Failing Liberty 101

By Walter E. Williams

A recent Superman comic book has the hero saying, “I am renouncing my U.S. citizenship” because “truth, justice, and the American way — it’s not enough anymore.” Though not addressing Superman’s statement, Stanford University professor and Hoover Institution senior fellow William Damon explains how such a vision could emerge today but not yesteryear. The explanation is found in his article “American Amnesia,” in Defining Ideas (7/1/2011), based upon his most recent book, “Failing Liberty 101: How We Are Leaving Young Americans Unprepared for Citizenship in a Free Society.”

The National Assessment of Educational Progress reports that only 1 in 4 high-school seniors scored at least “proficient” in knowledge of U.S. citizenship. Civics and history were American students’ worst subjects. Professor Damon said that for the past 10 years, his Stanford University research team has interviewed broad cross sections of American youths about U.S. citizenship. Here are some typical responses: “We just had (American citizenship) the other day in history. I forget what it was.” Another said, “Being American is not really special. … I don’t find being an American citizen very important.” Another said, “I don’t want to belong to any country. It just feels like you are obligated to this country. I don’t like the whole thing of citizen. … It’s like, citizen, no citizen; it doesn’t make sense to me. It’s, like, to be a good citizen — I don’t know, I don’t want to be a citizen. … It’s stupid to me.”

A law professor, whom Damon leaves unnamed, shares this vision in a recent book: “Longstanding notions of democratic citizenship are becoming obsolete. … American identity is unsustainable in the face of globalization.” Instead of commitment to a nation-state, “loyalties … are moving to transnational communities defined by many different ways: by race, ethnicity, gender, religion, age, and sexual orientation.” This law professor’s vision is shared by many educators who look to “global citizenship” as the proper aim of civics instruction, de-emphasizing attachment to any particular country, such as the United States, pointing out that our primary obligation should be to the universal ideals of human rights and justice. To be patriotic to one’s own country is seen as suspect because it may turn into a militant chauvinism or a dangerous “my country, right or wrong” vision.

The ignorance about our country is staggering. According to one survey, only 28 percent of students could identify the Constitution as the supreme law of the land. Only 26 percent of students knew that the first 10 amendments to the Constitution are called the Bill of Rights. Fewer than one-quarter of students knew that George Washington was the first president of the United States.

Discouraging young Americans from identifying with their country and celebrating our traditional American quest for liberty and equal rights removes the most powerful motivation to learn civics and U.S. history. After all, Damon asks, “why would a student exert any effort to master the rules of a system that the student has no respect for and no interest in being part of? To acquire civic knowledge as well as civic virtue, students need to care about their country.” Ignorance and possibly contempt for American values, civics and history might help explain how someone like Barack Obama could become president of the United States. At no other time in our history could a person with longtime associations with people who hate our country become president. Obama spent 20 years attending the Rev. Jeremiah Wright’s hate-filled sermons, which preached that “white folks’ greed runs a world in need,” called our country the “US of KKK-A” and asked God to “damn America.” Obama’s other America-hating associates include Weather Underground Pentagon bomber William Ayers and Ayers’ wife, Bernardine Dohrn.

The fact that Obama became president and brought openly Marxist people into his administration doesn’t say so much about him as it says about the effects of decades of brainwashing of the American people by the education establishment, media and the intellectual elite.


The Profligate Path to Servitude

By Dr. Ben Carson

 As a teenager, I began a new lifelong routine of starting and ending each day reading from the book of Proverbs, which, of course, was written by Solomon, a very wise man. Interestingly, my parents gave me the middle name of Solomon — not that I claim even a modicum of his wisdom.

After Solomon became the king of Israel, he gained great renown when two women came before him claiming to be the mother of the same infant. Solomon decreed that the baby should be divided and half given to each woman, at which time the real mother immediately relinquished her claim.

This made the judgment quite simple. I believe G0D has a sense of humor, not only because of my middle name and my affinity for Solomonic proverbs, but because I, too, gained great renown by dividing babies. In my case, it was complexly joined craniopagus twins.

One of the verses that seems pertinent to America today is Proverbs 22:7, which says, “The rich ruleth over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender.” Most of us grew up hearing that debt is a bad thing. The advent and wide dissemination of credit cards diminished such teachings, and those in charge of our nation’s finances over the past few decades seem to revel in debt.

As a nation, we currently are carrying a national debt of $17.5 trillion. If we repaid it at a rate of $10 million per day, seven days a week, 365 days per year, it would take 4,700 years to repay. The only reason that we can sustain such a level of debt is our status as the international reserve currency for the world.

This is a position usually reserved for the most reliable and strongest economic nation, and this status allows us to print money. If Greece could print money, it would not be bankrupt, although it probably would continue to drive up its debt.

Additionally, we have unfunded liabilities of at least $100 trillion.

Why am I concerned about this? I have been talking about this issue since long before Russian President Vladimir Putin’s recent threat to abandon the U.S. dollar as Russia’s reserve currency. Unless he could attract many other nations to do the same, he likely would inflict more short-term damage on his own country than on the United States.

Nevertheless, the very mention of such an action should send shivers down our spine. He recognizes our vulnerable position, which is exacerbated by our insistence on incurring unsustainable levels of debt. I have no doubt that at a strategic moment, he will exploit our weakness.

A United Nations committee in 2010 recommended a change in world reserve currency policies, and others such as China have made similar suggestions. They are beginning to doubt the stability of America’s financial infrastructure.

Our continued fiscal irresponsibility not only threatens the financial well-being of the next generation of Americans, but it also increasingly jeopardizes U.S. security. Our international influence is weakened, as our borrower status makes us vulnerable to threats from Putin and others. Perhaps worst of all, if our status as the world’s reserve currency issuer changes, there could be a dramatic decline in our standard of living.

I have encountered a large number of elderly people who have told me that they have given up on the United States and are simply waiting to die. This is the reason that more eligible voters opted not to vote in the last presidential election than actually voted for either candidate. Many of these people are members of “the greatest generation.” They fought tangible and visible forces that threatened our freedom. The forces facing us now are less tangible, but are nevertheless at least as lethal to our way of life.

f this occurs, the Occupy Wall Street movement will seem like a walk in the park compared with the civil unrest that will result. It does not require a great imagination to envision some of the freedom-limiting responses that might then occur. Many say this is simply paranoia and fear-mongering, which is what the so-called elites traditionally say before a catastrophic collapse.

The good news is we can do better. However, we the people must first do our homework and make sure we know who our congressional representatives are and how they vote, not how they say they vote. If they are in favor of continued fiscal lunacy, as evidenced by their votes that keep raising our national debt, they need to be replaced by responsible candidates from any party who understand the implications of their actions.

We need people who understand that in order for businesses to grow and prosper the government must remove the heavy boot of regulation and interference from their necks. We need those who realize that taxation is supposed to provide the necessary revenues to operate a government that provides for the safety, infrastructure and freedom of the people.

The purpose of taxation is not to control behavior and certainly not to justify a government takeover of health care that initiated the most massive shift of power from the people to the government in our history. By declaring pertinent parts of the Affordable Care Act a tax, the Supreme Court facilitated the demise of freedom in America.

These should not be partisan issues, but rather the concerns of every freedom-loving American citizen who wishes to see prosperity return to our shores.

Fiscal responsibility, fair taxation, intelligent environmental and energy policies, strong international leadership, evidence-based educational policies, cost-effective health care that is readily available to everyone, and honesty can prevail, but some feathers of those who are currently comfortable may need to be ruffled.

We need to discuss all of these things openly, rather than giving ear to the constant demagoguery that now exists. We must then vote responsibly with full knowledge of records and remain vigilant to preserve freedom and justice for all. We still have the power to craft a better future, but urgency grows.

 


Executive Order Tyranny

By Andrew Napolitano

Can the president legally bypass Congress and rule the government by decree?

The answer to the question above is: No. But you wouldn’t know that by listening to President Obama. In the past three weeks, the president has made it clear how he plans to run the executive branch of the federal government in the next three years: with a pen and a phone.

In a menacing statement at a cabinet meeting last month, as well as during his recent State of the Union address and in a pre-Superbowl interview with my Fox News colleague Bill O’Reilly, the president has referred to his pen and his phone as a way of suggesting that he will use his power to issue executive orders, promulgate regulations and use his influence with his appointees in the government’s administrative agencies to continue the march to transform fundamentally the relationship of the federal government and individuals to his egalitarian vision when he is unable to accomplish that with legislation from Congress.

He has carried out that threat already. In June 2012, facing a presidential election campaign that he feared he might lose and wishing to keep socially conservative Hispanics from voting for Mitt Romney, the president directed the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) — the same folks who failed miserably at rolling out Obamacare — to establish standards of behavior for millions of illegal immigrants, which, if followed to the government’s satisfaction, would get them off of government deportation lists.

To be sure, deportation can be ruinous, particularly to a family with children who were brought here as infants and have become fully Americanized. But the conditions for deportation, and for avoiding deportation, can only be established by Congress, not by the president or his appointees. When he lays down a list of conditions that permit persons in America to avoid complying with federal law, he is not enforcing the law; he is rewriting it. Only Congress can lawfully establish the circumstances under which those who are candidates for deportation may legally avoid it.

As well, when the president creates the conditions for avoiding compliance with federal law, he can hardly be said to be enforcing it. Yet, enforcing federal law is the heart of the president’s job. The Framers were so concerned with the potential of presidents to decline to enforce laws with which they disagreed that they inserted the word “faithfully” in the presidential oath when describing his enforcement obligations, and then they inserted the oath itself into the Constitution. The inescapable conclusion from this is that the Framers intended American presidents to enforce all of the laws that Congress has written, even those they dislike, even those they condemn, even those that may frustrate their friends, even those that may harm their political interests.

On the other hand, American presidents have some discretion when it comes to enforcing laws and may set priorities that are not inconsistent with the laws themselves. Obama, like all of his predecessors, has issued dozens of executive orders and signed off on thousands of regulations that have been lawful and helpful. That’s because, as president, he is the chief executive officer of the executive branch of the federal government and is largely responsible for the professional behavior of the three million persons who work under him as they follow his lead in enforcing federal law.

Thus, executive orders that complement, supplement and further the laws that Congress has enacted, orders that guide officials in the executive branch as to the president’s wishes, priorities and goals, orders that clarify but do not contradict federal laws, can actually be helpful — and such orders are invariably lawful and constitutional.

But Obama seems to have had different kinds of orders in mind when he spoke of his pen and his phone — ones much more akin to the HHS regulations on avoiding deportation — and he has made no effort to hide his intentions. Two months ago, as the effective date of Obamacare was about to set in and after weeks of denying the obvious, the president acknowledged that the rollout of Obamacare was a disaster and that the cancellation of 6.2 million soon-to-be substandard health insurance policies was profoundly contrary to his assurances that that would never happen and was acutely harmful to those who lost their coverage.

To counter the effects of the rollout and the cancellations, the president told insurance companies to reinstate the substandard insurance policies for a year until the rollout could be corrected. Thus, on his own, he attempted to change the effective date of the onset of Obamacare from Jan. 1, 2014, which is the date in the law after which the substandard policies are unlawful, to Jan. 1, 2015, which is the date he now prefers.

The president has reminded us countless times that he taught constitutional law at the University of Chicago Law School and therefore understands the Constitution. He doesn’t act like he understands it. He surely knows that only Congress can change the effective date of a law, and that he is utterly without power to do so, no matter his purpose.

He revealed the corruptibility of power when three libertarian Republicans in Congress came to his assistance and he rebuffed them. Shortly after the president told insurance carriers to disregard the onset date of Obamacare, Sens. Rand Paul, R-Ky., Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and Mike Lee, R-Utah, offered legislation in Congress to delay the onset of Obamacare lawfully for one year and thus lawfully permit the return of the 6.2 million canceled policies for one year — and Obama threatened to veto that legislation should Congress pass it.

The same president who claims the unlawful power to rewrite federal law on his own would use his veto power to prevent Congress from doing so lawfully. His preferences surely constitute no less than a perversion of the roles assigned to the branches of government by the Constitution.

How dangerous is a president who wants to rule by pen and phone? Where will he strike next? How will this end? Will this deliver us to tyranny?


Watch Out, Your Character is Showing

By Jonah Goldberg

“Character is what you do when no one is watching.”

It’s a bit of a trite saying, attributed to coaches, motivational speakers and fortune cookie writers. Still, the expression’s popularity illustrates the power of the idea behind it. Character is what you do when the only controlling authority is your conscience.

Because young people do not yet have fully formed characters, they often need incentives beyond exhortations to do the right thing. That’s one reason most parents reward good behavior and punish bad behavior — to create real-world consequences for poor decisions, and thus train the habits of the heart.

Schools do the same thing. When I was a kid, one of the chief tools in this regard was your “permanent record.” You don’t want to get caught cheating, running in the halls, cutting class, drinking beer, etc., because it might go down on your permanent record, teachers would warn.

One of the great epiphanies in life is that your permanent record is not some bulging binder kept under lock and key like some archive in East Germany. But the threat that keepers of your permanent record were watching you — bureaucratic Santas determining if you were naughty or nice — had its uses. I’m sure it still does.

But another useful lesson in life is that jerks can avoid the scrutiny of the permanent record-keepers while still being jerks.

That’s one reason I was happy to hear that college administrators have taken to perusing the social media habits of applicants. A Kaplan survey of top colleges, as compiled by U.S. News and World Report (once a news organization that did college rankings, now a college ranking service that occasionally dabbles in news), found that about a third of admissions officers at elite schools poke around on Facebook and other sites to check out what applicants are really like.

But teenagers in the past learned how to have a good time while avoiding embarrassing entries in the permanent record. And they’ll figure it out again.

“Sure, the scrutiny may make them better at hiding what they don’t want adults to see,” writes Professor Mark Bauerlein of Emory University. “It will produce the same hype and earnestness we get in personal essays and resumes in the application packet.

“Yet,” Bauerlein asks, “which is worse: social media that inflates the intellectual and moral credentials of the user and makes them more careful; or social media that reinforces the adolescent user’s adolescence?”

In other words, there will be marginally fewer Facebook photos of keg stands and more of summer vacation latrine-digging in Third World countries.

But there’s a larger point to be made here. We now live in a society in which there’s always someone watching. Text-messaging, Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, email, etc., amount to the new permanent record. In the past, if you embarrassed yourself in some horrendous way, you could often reinvent yourself simply by moving to a new town and starting fresh. Now your permanent record is in the Cloud and your scarlet letter can be found with aGoogle search.

Indeed, the Internet is creating unprecedented opportunities for people of low character to advertise it. If Anthony Weiner had simply used the phone as a phone instead of a handheld peep-show booth, he’d probably be the next mayor of New York. If Jofi Joseph (the Obama administration national security aide who used his “NatSecWonk” Twitter handle to trash colleagues and superiors) had restricted his catty gossiping to water-cooler chatter, he’d probably still have a job. Miami Dolphins lineman Richie Incognito couldn’t stay incognito because of the ubiquity of cellphone cameras and the permanence of text messages.

Such stories are extreme examples of the Internet culture’s tendency to reward oversharing. But they also reflect a much older and broader cultural trend that celebrates self-expression over self-discipline. That tension has been baked into the cake since the Enlightenment, and it’s not going away. But it’s nice to see society self-correct every now and then. It’s a sign of good character.