We Need to Talk About the Zimmerman Verdict

July 16, 2013

The Verdict

Not Guilty was the correct verdict in the George Zimmerman trial.  That is my firm belief, based on the definition of the charges and of self-defense under Florida law, on the sum of the evidence and testimony presented in the trial, which I followed closely, and on the prosecution’s utter failure to prove beyond a reasonable doubt pretty much anything.

How a reasoning, informed person could see otherwise baffles me.  Yet many of you, my friends, colleagues and acquaintances, have expressed dismay, disbelief, and rage that Zimmerman was exonerated.  I suggest that your belief in Zimmerman’s guilt is founded on false information, ignorance of the law, &/or faulty logic.  I will attempt here to disabuse you of those.

With alarming frequency, people impute malevolent motives to those who disagree with them.  Since my facts and logic are impeccable, people assume, anyone who disagrees must be a vile [___]-ist.  Dividing us into camps of Good vs. Evil is wrong, it is highly corrosive, and it must end now.

I invite and encourage all of you to debate this important topic with me.  Our first impulse may be to sweep it all under rug, but I earnestly believe that unless we discuss it openly and civilly, things will only fester.  We need to talk.  Show me where my knowledge is deficient, expose my logic as fallacious.  I’d never hold it against you to question what’s inside my head.  I will if you question what’s in my heart.

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All We Know 

Despite rampant speculation, extrapolation, and conjecture, there’s very little of the events of the evening of February 26, 2012 that we know for certain.  We do know that George Zimmerman (“GZ”), a member of the local neighborhood watch, called 911 about an unknown person he believed to be acting suspiciously.  We know his neighborhood had recently suffered a spate of burglaries and home invasions, something that concerned GZ.  As he exited his car and attempted to locate the person in the heavy downpour that night, GZ stayed on line while awaiting the arrival of the police officer he’d requested. Though not required by law to comply with the advisements of a dispatch operator, GZ did indicate he was following the dispatcher’s suggestion to not actively follow the suspicious person. 

We know that Trayvon Martin (“TM”) was walking through the neighborhood that night, returning from a trip to the store.  His friend testified that while on the phone with her that night, TM mentioned an unknown person checking him out, expressed his concern, and his intent to run home.

Approximately four minutes later, GZ and TM encountered each other. It’s unsure if one or the other intentionally precipitated the contact, or whether it was by chance.  Per GZ’s testimony, TM approached him, then punched him without provocation. A police photo and a doctor’s exam showed that GZ received extensive injuries about the face and head, including a broken nose and gashes on the back of his scalp.  The coroner found no fight injuries on TM except some scrapes on the knuckles, consistent with using his fists.  The single eye-witness described GZ laying on his back, TM straddling GZ and furiously beating him.

In a 911 recording we can hear what witnesses confirmed: someone screaming desperately for help for almost a minute.  When questioned by police, TM’s father and brother were unable to identify the voice.  In court they and TM’s mother testified it was TM.  Numerous people in GZ’s circle testified that the voice was GZ’s.

We know GZ shot TM, killing him with a single bullet.

The entire incident, from GZ calling 911, to TM receiving a gunshot wound to the chest, lasted about seven minutes.

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The Law

After questioning GZ, the police found no grounds for arrest.  After reviewing the case, the DA found no reason to convene a grand jury.  Responding to public pressure and meddling by the DoJ, Florida assigned a special prosecutor, who filed a charge of Second Degree Murder against GZ, considered excessive by most legal experts.  Just before the jury was set to deliberate, a lesser charge of Manslaughter was presented for them to consider.

All of us are familiar with the phrase “presumed innocent until proven guilty.”  In a civil case, only a preponderance of evidence is required to reach a judgment.  In a criminal case, guilt must  be proven “beyond, and to the exclusion of, a reasonable doubt.”.   If we stray from these principles, if we no longer recoil at the thought of punishing an innocent person, either out of emotion or the ‘desire to send a message’, we sell our liberty cheap.


Second Degree Murder 

Florida law is explicit in what must be proven for Murder 2:

  • The death was caused by the criminal act of (defendant).
  • There was an unlawful killing of (victim) by an act imminently dangerous to another and demonstrating a depraved mind without regard for human life.

A “series of related actions” may constitute an act if “arising from and performed pursuant to a single design or purpose.”  An act is “imminently dangerous to another and demonstrating a depraved mind” only if:

  1. a person of ordinary judgment would know is reasonably certain to kill or do serious bodily injury to another, and
  2. done from ill will, hatred, spite, or an evil intent, and
  3. of such a nature that the act itself indicates an indifference to human life.

GZ committed no crime that evening.  He was well within his legal rights to walk through his neighborhood.  He had the right to follow an unknown person, and challenge them, if that’s what he did.  GZ was licensed to carry a gun, and was operating it properly.

To presume guilt, you must prove beyond reasonable doubt that GZ either committed a crime, or was acting in a way no reasonable person would ever act.

GZ’s actions cannot be interpreted as pursuant to any “single design or purpose” other than identifying a stranger.  That GZ had resolved to shoot someone that night is completely unsupported by evidence.  If you haven’t listened to the entire 911 call, do so.

To presume guilt, you must rule out all possible alternative interpretations of GZ actions.

Neither do GZ’s actions, nor his personal character as revealed by witnesses, point to “a depraved mind without regard for human life.”

To presume guilt, you must prove beyond reasonable doubt that GZ possessed a depraved mind.


Manslaughter

The jury was also allowed to consider the lesser charge of Manslaughter:

  • (Defendant) intentionally committed an act or acts that caused the death of (victim).
  • (Defendant) intentionally procured an act that caused the death of (victim).
  • The death of (victim) was caused by the culpable negligence of (defendant).

Judge Nelson’s instructions to the jury were meticulous in laying out the considerable burden of proof, and deserve quoting in full:

Each of us has a duty to act reasonably toward others. If there is a violation of that duty, without any conscious intention to harm, that violation is negligence. But culpable negligence is more than a failure to use ordinary care toward others. In order for negligence to be culpable, it must be gross and flagrant. Culpable negligence is a course of conduct showing reckless disregard of human life, or of the safety of persons exposed to its dangerous effects, or such an entire want of care as to raise a presumption of a conscious indifference to consequences, or which shows wantonness or recklessness, or a grossly careless disregard for the safety and welfare of the public, or such an indifference to the rights of others as is equivalent to an intentional violation of such rights.

The negligent act or omission must have been committed with an utter disregard for the safety of others. Culpable negligence is consciously doing an act or following a course of conduct that the defendant must have known, or reasonably should have known, was likely to cause death or great bodily injury.

GZ was not obliged to curtail his movements simply because there was a chance the stranger might punch him.  (There is no “eggshell ego” principle).

To presume guilt, you must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that GZ must have known his actions would likely result in a death.


Self Defense

Contrary to popular belief, GZ did not invoke Florida’s Stand Your Ground Law.  GZ claimed he was unable to retreat, so his act of self-defense was Justifiable Homicide:

The killing of a human being is justifiable homicide and lawful if necessarily done while resisting an attempt to murder or commit a felony upon the defendant….

To presume guilt, you must prove that, after his nose had been broken and while his head was being slammed against the pavement, GZ’s “fear of imminent peril of death or great bodily harm” was not reasonable.

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The Wrong Guy

“Ah, well, technically…” you may mutter, while remaining unhappy with the verdict.  I suspect that’s because ‘you’ve got the wrong guy’, as the line in the old crime dramas used to go.  Two wrong guys, actually.

Within hours of the news breaking, the media and other agitators were spinning a tale about it.  Some crazed, racist vigilante had hunted down a little black boy clutching a bag of candy.  Yet again.  Blacks were outraged; whites both shamed and ashamed.

That tale was false, concocted from bits of biases, stereotypes, resentments, misinformation, and a whole slew of lies.  The very first lie (one still being repeated to this day) was the photo released of the departed, a cherubic thirteen year-old:

cherub13

‘What kind of sick bastard could gun down a little child like that?’  you must have thought.  I know; I thought it, too.  Only TM wasn’t thirteen.  He was seventeen, athletic, 6’0″, 170 lbs.:

T33ZY

To get a true perspective of the physical bulk of this “boy”, look , if you can, at the crime scene photo.

What you never learned if you only watched  Pravda  MSNBC, what the jury never got to hear, was that TM was serving a 10-day expulsion from school, his third.  That he’d recently been caught with stolen jewelry.  That he’d boasted on twitter about punching a school-bus driver, and how he’d learned to drop someone with a sucker-punch.  That he’d been caught at school carrying marijuana and that the coroner found THC in his system.  That the skittles and fruit-flavored soft drink he was carrying were actually two of the three ingredients (along with codeine cough syrup) for “Lean” or “Purple Drank”, a trendy & intoxicating rapper’s concoction TM used to talk about making.

The first blow to the Zimmerman-as-racist fable came when his photo was released.   The distinctly latino features failed to match their cartoon-image of a racist. The hate-mongers quickly ‘pivoted’, labeling GZ a “white-” or “self-described” hispanic.  In the same way we describe our president as “half-white” or a “self-described black.”  Pravda MSNBC lent a helping hand by editing GZ’s 911 call to make him sound racist.

Then, as more kept coming out that belied the racist slander — GZ has black relatives, mentored a young black teenager, spoke out against police brutality against a black suspect, has several black friends, is a registered Democrat!!! — the smears shifted to framing him as some frustrated, out-of-control “cop wannabe.”  That caricature, too, was resoundingly undermined.  If you haven’t yet listened to the testimony of the many character witnesses who spoke on GZ’s behalf, do so.

All that was despicable, but let’s not lose focus on the crux of the matter. GZ had nothing to prove.  Perhaps you find him creepy, inept, whatever.  Doesn’t matter. You don’t need to like George Zimmerman to conclude his innocence.  You only need a reasonable doubt about his guilt, and there is an ocean of doubt.  Finally, and most importantly:  you, me, all of us — need to adhere to our Law, or we all lose our freedom.

 

Update 7.23.13:  Some have questioned what caused the Sanford Police to treat the the incident as self-defense.  Here, a photo taken by police of GZ just after he was brought in for questioning:

george-zimmerman closeup


(c) 2013 by Matt Cavanaugh.  All rights reserved.

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The America Transformed! Film Festival

July 4, 2013

When barack obama first ran for president, he promised to transform America.  Five years later, the transformation is nearly complete.  It’s not the kind of future you all envisioned when you voted for him, and it’s certainly nothing like the shiny, false promises he duped you into believing.

Were our Founding Fathers to see what’s become of America, they’d be horrified.  Two hundred and thirty-seven years ago, they struggled and fought a war to bring forth a new nation, conceived in liberty. Then, in the Spring of 1787, they met in Philadelphia to craft a lasting document to forever preserve justice, welfare, and freedom for the American people.  When Benjamin Franklin exited the hall where the Constitution had just been drafted, so the story goes, a woman on the street asked, “What have we got: a monarchy or a republic?” “A republic,” Franklin replied, “if you can keep it.”

And for two centuries we kept it, but now it’s all but slipped through our fingers.  Free speech, freedom of assembly — remember when we had those?  Protection from illegal search and seizure, the right to a speedy trial and to face your accusers?  Nice to have, yes, but what with the war on terror and all ….   Oh, and the pursuit of happiness?  When a CEO makes 478 times what his employees do, there ain’t much happiness left over to pursue.

All good things must come to an end, they say.  When the Constitution was written, it granted liberties and opportunity unparalleled in human history.  It was a great gift, purchased with blood and toil, to future generations.  We’re the generation that pawned that gift for base amusement, for comforts and distractions.

“No people will tamely surrender their Liberties nor can any be easily subdued, when knowledge is diffused and Virtue is preserved”, wrote Sam Adams.  “On the Contrary, when People are universally ignorant, and debauched in their Manners, they will sink under their own weight without the Aid of foreign Invaders.”

While we distract ourselves with social media, sports, gadgets, and reality shows, President  Emperor obama wipes his ass with the Constitution, laughing at you for being the suckers that let him get away with it.

Since no one in America today seems to have the motivation, much less the balls, to heed Sam Adam’s call that “the liberties of our Country, the freedom of our civil constitution are worth defending at all hazards”, we might as well do one of the only things we’re good at anymore, and watch some television.

Following are some films that will help you acclimate to Emperor obama’s transformed America and your new, unfree role in it:

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LIVES OF OTHERS  (2006)

Where America now has FISA and PRISM, East Germany bugged your apartment.  Like here, in the DDR everything you said was monitored.  Adherence to the party line forwarded a career, while one careless comment could ruin it; criticism of the government put you behind bars.  Fear begat silence.

Defiant Hero:  Gerd Wiesler

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SOPHIE SCHOLL: THE FINAL DAYS (2005)

When the nazis prosecuted their political opponents, they used the old Weimar criminal code — they just changed the definitions of the crimes.  So, next time you say, ‘I don’t care if they listen to my phone conversations, because I’m not doing anything illegal,’ ask: how long before they change  what’s “illegal.”

Defiant Martyr: Sophie Scholl

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THE HUNGER GAMES
(2011)

Following the ravages of global warming, famine, and civil war, an elite minority live in decadent luxury while the general populace, overworked and underfed, struggle to survive.

Defiant Hero: Katniss Everdeen

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ROLLERBALL (1975)

Corporations rule the world.  The business elite and celebrities enjoy private villas, expensive wines, and jet-setting.  The proletariat are kept quiet with mindless entertainment and violent sports.

Defiant Hero: Jonathan E

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1984 (1984)

Where the term “Orwellian” comes from.  In a totalitarian state, the populace is under 24/7 surveillance, distracted from their hardships by the threat of a war that never ends.  The language has been intentionally dumbed down to stifle independent thought.  Love for dictator, Big Brother, is maintained by directing hate at a scapegoat, Emmanuel Goldstein.  The state practices total oppression simply because it can.

Defiant Hero: None.  It’s a real downer.

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V FOR VENDETTA  (2005)

A fascist party, promising to save the country from the threat of wars, anarchy and disease, is swept into power.  All political dissent is brutally crushed, the media is co-opted to spew propaganda.

Defiant Heroes: Guy Fawkes; V; Evie; everyone.

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‘But,‘ you protest, ‘things are that bad here!’  Yet.  Liberty is a fragile thing.  It requires constant care & attention to maintain, and we have neglected our liberty to the point where it has withered and all but died.  Once lost, liberty can only be regained at great cost, if at all. Once imposed, tyranny rapidly entrenches itself, and grows steadily worse.  Watch the movies, and get used to your future.

Or, remember just one line of dialog, and act on it:

People should not fear their governments;  governments should fear their people.

(c) 2013 by Matt Cavanaugh.  All rights reserved.


A Tale of Two Amendments

April 23, 2013

In West Virginia yesterday, a 14 year old junior high student, Jared Marcum, was ordered by a teacher to remove his t-shirt, which the teacher considered offensive.  Marcum refused, and attempted to explain to the teacher his right to wear said shirt.  His fellow students in the cafeteria stood on benches and tables and began chanting in support of Marcum.  The police were dispatched and Marcum arrested for “disrupting the school process.”  Here’s what he wore:

nra_shirt_cr

The school’s dress code prohibits

  • Clothing and accessories that display profanity, violence, discriminatory messages or sexually suggestive phrases;
  • Clothing that displays advertisements for any alcohol, tobacco, or drug product.

Mesh tops and dog collars are also (praise be!) banned.  But nothing about political statements or images of guns per se.
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That Offensive Bill of Rights

It’s impossible to know the full thought process behind the teacher’s action.  What we will be officially told is that he was merely using his discretion to prevent anyone from being offended, or from an argument or dispute arising.  The preposterous claim that Marcum “almost incited a riot” is a flimsy fig leaf, indeed.  It was the teacher’s response to the shirt, not the shirt itself, that sparked the raucous but harmless protest.

Two observations:

1) You can’t offend-proof the entire world.  There’ll always be somebody that’ll be butthurt by something  — a crucifix around someone’s neck might annoy a jew, while a “Jesus Never Existed” t-shirt is bound to steam a christian.  Does this teacher comes down equally hard on students who might offend Bengals fans by wearing a Steelers jersey?;

2) Marcum’s t-shirt was a simple affirmation of:

“A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

(Please tell me this was not a Civics teacher!)

Marcum’s interpretation of the Second Amendment likely differs from that of the teacher, other students, and almost definitely me.  His support for the Bill of Rights, however, ought be shared by all of us, and his free exercise of speech not be abridged.
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Education or Indoctrination?

The Right complains that the majority of school teachers are liberals, and that they are indoctrinating their students.   The first is an irrefutable fact; the second, I always considered false conjecture.  I’m not so sure anymore. Last year, we heard the (yes, Civics) teacher wrongly tell her students that it was a federal crime to speak out against the president.  Now we have this.

When I was a schoolchild during the era of Nixon Ascendant, it was a comfort when a few of my teachers, always scrupulously neutral in front of the class, clandestinely whispered to me that they were against the war, too.  But, now that I think about it, there was subtle indoctrination as well.  I remember lectures on how wonderful the American Melting Pot was, and being led in song, us little suburban white kids swaying and holding hands with the little bused-in black kids as we belted out “We Shall Overcome”.

That message of accepting diversity and rejecting racism was the same I got at home (sans the singing and hand-holding.)   Isn’t that where those sorts of messages belong?  Did my elementary school teachers have the obligation or the right to countermand the message other classmates were receiving from their parents, that the coons and the spics were lazy, worthless, and to blame for everything?  Those are not rhetorical questions.
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The Care and Feeding of Your Free Speech Rights

The right to free speech is not absolute in all circumstances or at all times.  The courts have uniformly ruled that, so long as a citizen has access to the exercise of free speech in some areas, it can be limited in others, like a school.   Nor are things like slander, libel, or inciting a riot (for real) — or that most hackneyed of Civics teacher examples, shouting ‘fire’ in a crowded theatre — covered under free speech.  Schools in particular also have a compelling reason to limit the extent of confrontational speech to deter bullying and disruption.

It’s a fine line between proscribing slurs or confrontational behavior, and imposing a cultural or political status quo.  For the greater part, the teachers of my youth did an exemplary job navigating that line.  There are alarming indicators that many of today’s teachers, along with progressives at large, have strayed far over the line.
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“It Is Known”

In George R.R. Martin’s Game of Thrones saga, the primitive Dothraki people confirm each statement, whether fact, lore, superstition, wives’ tale or wild rumor, with “it is known.”   Such unquestioning absolutism is rife among the more strident segment of the Progressive Left  (for whom I have coined the term “proglodyte”.)

In the minds of  proglodytes, “it is known” that their view on an host of issues, from gun control to abortion, from the meaning of gender to immigration, is established fact.  Proglodytes also view the world in black and white, with everything “We” believe as Good, and everything “They” believe as Evil.  This leads them to fallaciously attribute, for example, a solidity to their opinion that more gun control is a good thing (and should be taught?) on par with the solidity of the fact that Evolution is true, and that it, but not Intelligent Design or Creationism, should taught.

We cannot, nor should we, prevent teachers from ever influencing their students.  A good Civics teacher would be teaching Heller, and stimulate, not stifle, debate by asking his or her students to compare the opinion and dissent to their own interpretation of the Second Amendment.  In other words, to encourage them to think for themselves.
.

Anyone who espouses an idea must be willing to let that idea stand the test of debate and refutation.  They must be willing to entertain opposing arguments and to permit the expression of antithetical ideas.   The banning of a T-shirt may seem innocuous, but it is the first step down the slippery slope to fascism.


(c) 2013 by Matt Cavanaugh.  All rights reserved.


You Have the Right to Be Assassinated

March 6, 2013

This is a public service announcement:

You have the right to be assassinated.

In response to an inquiry by Senator Rand Paul, mafia lawyer Attorney General Eric Holder confirmed that American citizens have a Constitutional right to be assassinated on U.S. soil by the President whenever he wishes. This right had formerly been extended only to U.S. citizens on foreign soil, like Anwar al-Awlaki, who was guilty of being suspected of aiding terrorists, or al-Awlaki’s 16 year-old son, Abdul, who was guilty of being al-Awlaki’s 16 year-old son.

Paul had asked drone-murder aficionado John Brennan whether “the President has the power to authorize lethal force, such as a drone strike, against a U.S. citizen on U.S. soil, and without trial.” Brennan, noting that the CIA only assassinates abroad, passed the question to the Justice Department. In a letter, Holder reassured Paul that the right to death by presidential decree does exist:

“It is possible, I suppose, to imagine an extraordinary circumstance in which it would be necessary and appropriate under the Constitution and applicable laws of the United States for the President to authorize the military to use lethal force within the territory of the United States.”

As examples of such “extraordinary circumstances” Holder mentioned 9/11 and Pearl Harbor. Silly FDR shipped Japanese-Americans to internment camps, when under the Constitution, he could have just killed them! But there’s no need to worry that this power would ever be misused. Holder promises that “were such an emergency to arise, I would examine the particular facts and circumstances before advising the president of the scope of his authority.” We’re in good hands.

In a recent white paper, Holder detailed the constitutional process under which you will be assassinated: when “[an] informed, high-level official of the U.S. government has determined that the targeted individual poses an imminent threat of violent attack against the United States.” This is entirely in keeping with Amendment VI, which states:

“In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury …; and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the assistance of counsel for his defense.”

Because Amendment V stipulates that “[n]o person shall be … deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law”, some foolishly “have argued that the President is required to get permission from a federal court before taking action against a United States citizen.” Holder cleared up this common misunderstanding in a speech last year. “‘Due process’ and ‘judicial process’ are not one and the same” — a definition Holder made up himself, cutting through red tape to expedite the airmail delivery of your Constitutional Rights package.

Despite whining from ignorant people that “a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury” is required before a person can “be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime,” it’s perfectly OK for the president to play judge, jury and executioner. That’s because: 1) Congress is “regularly informed” whenever “lethal force is used against United States citizens”; 2) We’re at war, pal, and the president can off anybody he likes in a war. But rest assured, for only The Godfather President obama can make the final decision whether you will be assassinated. It’s obama who keeps the Secret Kill List, obama’s finger that points to the face of the one to die next. We’re in good hands.

So, if you ever hear a strange buzzing overhead, or get a rude knock on the door in the middle of the night, it means your Constitutional Rights are about to be exercised.

(c) 2013 by True Liberal Nexus. All Rights Reserved.


How obama Turned Liberals into Zombies

October 26, 2012

The Neo-Con Democrat
The spectacle of the presidential foreign policy debate, with the republican and democratic candidates stumbling over each other to agree on the use of drones, staying for another decade in Afghanistan, Gitmo and such, was proof once again that barack obama is no liberal.

In fact, obama’s policies of endless war, nation-building, and disregard for international law mark him as a neo-con. With his predilection for assassinations and indiscriminate bombings with mounting ‘collateral damage,’ obama has turned the United States into one of those ‘rogue nations’ our rhetoric execrates.

On the home front, obama has also proven himself no liberal. He readily signed extensions of the Patriot Act and FISA, thus denying us our Fourth Amendment rights and strengthening the surveillance state established by his mentor predecessor, Bush.  obama next took away our right to free assembly by signing the Trespass Law, then negated the Constitutional right of habeas corpus by signing into law the indefinite detention provision of the NDAA.  obama routinely ignores the Constitutional separation of powers, issuing executive orders that contravene the will of Congress, while brazenly ignoring the War Powers Act by starting wars at his fancy.  The obama administration has been the worst in history for punishing whistle-blowers.
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The Corporatist Lapdog
Many on the Right label obama a ‘socialist’, which is slanderous, considering obama’s domestic policy reveals him to be a corporatist lapdog. His greatest achievement, healthcare reform (sic), was in actuality a restructuring of the health insurance market, written by the insurance lobby to benefit the insurance lobby. Forty million Americans are still left without healthcare.

When the big banks were caught in a trillion-dollar mortgage fraud scheme, obama railed loudly against the bankers, then slapped them across the wrist with a $12 million token fine. The much-heralded Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, established by obama crony Elizabeth Warren, has yet to indict a single malfeasor.

Candidate obama promised to ban lobbyists from working in his administration.  President obama has more lobbyists in his White House than any previous administration.

Large campaign bundlers found obama amenable to pulling strings to aid their businesses — for example: an FCC waiver allowing LightSquared to encroach on vital military GPS bandwidths; a billion dollar HHS contract to Siga for a useless vaccine.
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The Sham Green Economy
Vaingloriously, obama predicted his inauguration would be remembered as “the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal.”  Yet under obama, the environment has suffered greatly.

Following the disastrous BP oil spill, obama promised to place his “boot on the throat” of that reckless conglomerate, then allowed BP to get away nearly scot free.  Later, obama gave BP the go-ahead to drill in Alaska.

Since 2008, obama has breathlessly told us how he wants to expand “solar, and wind, and bio-diesel”,  and now brags about having doubled the electricity produced by renewables.  That sounds impressive, until you learn that solar and wind still provide a mere 3% our total energy. Four years on, and the US is still heavily dependent on fossil fuels.

obama’s grand(iose) “Green Energy Economy” turned out to be a boondoggle, a false front to hide kickbacks to obama’s biggest campaign donors. Real renewable solutions do exist to meet a majority of our energy needs, yet obama wasted billions of taxpayer money on Solyndra, Beacon, A123, and a dozen other sham companies that went bankrupt.

At the international climate conferences in Copenhagen and Rio, obama personally intervened to side with China and other major greenhouse gas producers to thwart efforts to curtail global warming, thus ensuring that the oceans will indeed keep rising.

At home, obama refused to implement EPA regulations on air quality.  To his credit, obama was against the XL pipeline before he was for it. To keep up with fellow republican, Mitt Romney, obama is now calling for rapid expansion of offshore drilling, mining of coal, and frakking.
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Letting Down the Common People
On the bread & butter economic positions that for a century defined liberalism in America, obama has let down working families time and time again.

His buyout of GM may have provided temporary relief, but it did nothing to address the endemic flaws in our auto industry. His continuation of TARP was nothing more than a cash bonus to bankers for losing risky bets.

As a candidate, obama promised to end the Bush tax cuts on the rich in his first hundred days. He stalled for two years, then promised to end them in 2011. He now promises to end them sometime in his second term. obama promised to cut the deficit in half by the end of his first term. Instead, he added another $5 trillion.

Other than endlessly repeating the words “roads and bridges and schools”, obama has offered no real plan to jump-start a stagnant economy. He amused himself by joking that all those “shovel-ready” projects he was going to fund “weren’t all that shovel-ready, after all.”

Only by heavy manipulation of workforce statistics has obama been able to claim he is finally a “net job creator.”  Two-third of those new jobs are low-wage. Household wealth has sunk 39%. Sixty percent of mortgages are under water.  One in five Americans still can’t find a job they can live on.  While unemployment soared, obama fiddled and diddled. His insipid “jobs bill” was a pastiche of hiring incentives and retraining programs already long proven ineffective. At best, it would have created a million jobs; independent analysts calculated it would have created practically none.

While ordinary Americans suffer, obama has been content to blame his inability to do more on the intransigence of Congress. Yet obama had no trouble working with both Dems and Gops to sign a slew of so-called “free trade” treaties that in truth expedite the off-shoring of hundreds of thousands of American jobs. obama has spent 50% more time on the golf links than in economic briefings.

obama promises to protect Social Security and Medicare.  Yet his “payroll tax cut” robbed S.S. of 16% of its funding. Had his putrid “jobs bill” passed, it would have cut S.S. funding by half, and gut Medicare with half a billion dollars in reckless cuts. To underwrite obamacare, $700 million will be taken from Medicare.
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The Zombie Left
Among the Left, all but the most severe kool-aid addicts admit that obama has been a major disappointment. Still, they plan on voting for him as the ‘lesser of two evils.’  ‘We must protect women’s rights’, they implore.  Are not the right to a speedy trial, to protection from illegal search and seizure, to due process, the rights of women as well?  So long as obama remains president, the Left condone unliberal affronts they would never tolerate from a republican president.

To assume that in a second term obama will suddenly ‘get it’, or miraculously change his nature, is folly. Things would get even worse. True, Romney’s plan to fix the economy will also fail. But obama’s bolloxes have ensured that the country will give the GOP a shot, if not now, then in 2016. Massachusetts survived one term of Romney; America can, too.

The Left, however, cannot survive four more years of obama. In service to obama, the Left now advocate jingoism in foreign policy, and a surveillance state at home. The Left now accept zero progress on jobs or economic fairness, and mutely watch as corporate criminals go unpunished. Thanks to obama, liberals and progressives have abandoned protecting the environment and the fight for universal healthcare. The Left are nothing but mindless zombies, so long as they remain under the sway of obama’s false promises and lies.
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Vote Like a True Liberal
Now is the time for all true liberals to do their duty. To stand up for liberal values by voting for a candidate that also stands up for liberal values. barack obama is not that candidate.

Jill Stein is a true liberal. Her New Green Deal is a comprehensive plan to revitalize the American economy and restore American liberties. Patterned on FDR’s successful programs, Stein’s New Green Deal is a bold yet eminently feasible solution to our pressing problems, a solution that relies on the best liberal principles.

On November 6th, vote as a true liberal. Say ‘enough!’ with the lesser-of-two-evils crap. Vote for Jill Stein.
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(c) 2012 by True Liberal Nexus. All rights reserved.


Murder Drone

May 8, 2012

The obama administration finally responded to mounting outcry about its campaign of targeted killings with drones — by bragging about it.

Until this week, the White House had deflected criticism and blocked Freedom of Information requests by refusing to either confirm or deny the existence of the drone operations, which opponents say violates both federal and international law.  But with activist groups like Codepink holding anti-drone rallies over the weekend, and following a Sunday editorial in the New York Times by the ACLU, which urged the courts to intervene if the president did not direct the CIA to release relevant documents, the time had come to address their concerns. The response came not by the president himself, rather in a prepared statement recited before the Woodrow Wilson Center by a White House designated liar, John Brennan.  Long-winded and obtuse, it not only confirmed the existence of president Nixon’s obama’s secret bombing of Cambodia drone killings in Pakistan, Yemen and elsewhere, it attempted to defend it under international law and on moral grounds.

Through Brennan, the obama administration made five main claims about it’s murder-by-drone spree is:

  1. Effective
  2.  “Transparent”
  3. Legal under Federal Law
  4. Legal under International Law
  5. Ethical

All five are brazen lies.

_

1. It’s Effective?

With obama having launched five times as many drones strikes as Bush (267 vs. 52), Brennan gave a glowing report on the “great progress” made and the pending demise of al-Qaeda:

  • ” a shadow of its former self”
  • “left with just a handful of capable leaders and operatives”
  • “ranks have dwindled and scattered”
  • “on the road to destruction”
  • “struggles to communicate with subordinates and affiliates”
  • “Morale is low”
  • “struggling to attract new recruits”
  • “In short, al-Qa’ida is losing, badly.”

But check that sigh of relief, children — the al-Qaeda bogeyman under your bed is still very, very scary:

  • “the dangerous threat from al-Qa’ida has not disappeared”
  • “continues to look to its affiliates and adherents to carry on its murderous cause”
  • “worrying to witness al-Qa’ida’s merger with al-Shabaab, whose ranks include foreign fighters, some with U.S. passports”
  • “still have the intent to attack the United States”
  • “a mistake to believe this threat has passed.” 

It would be foolish for us to trust two proven lairs, Bush and obama. Yet, since everything is secret, it’s impossible for the public to assess whether the drone attacks are doing much good. We really have no idea how strong al-Quaeda is, or ever was. Over the course of eleven years, al-Quaeda has launched a grand total of three terrorists attacks against the West. In comparison, from 1967 to 1977, the Baader-Meinhof Gang/RAF, a loose network of urban radicals, pulled off dozens of bombings, assassinations and kidnappings. Groups like RZ, ETA, and the IRA were even more prolific.

One thing we can be sure of — so long as it aids obama’s agenda, obama will always spot the bogeyman under our beds.

_

2. There’s Transparency?

The obama administration’s idea of “transparency” is to send John Brennan to the Wilson Center to issue platitudes. “I’m here today because President Obama has instructed us to be more open with the American people about these efforts.”

After reminding us that obama “had pledged to share as much information as possible with the American people ‘so that they can make informed judgments and hold us accountable’”, Brennan refused to “discuss the sensitive details of any specific operation today.   I will not, nor will I ever, publicly divulge sensitive intelligence sources and methods.”

In a fatherly tone, Brennan noted that counter-terrorism tools,

do not exist in a vacuum.  They are stronger and more sustainable when the American people understand and support them.  They are weaker and less sustainable when the American people do not.  As a result of my remarks today, I hope the American people have a better understanding of this critical tool, why we use it, what we do, how carefully we use it, and why it is absolutely essential to protecting our country and our citizens.”

So, children, trust Dear Leader.  And stop asking annoying questions.

_

3. Legal Under U.S. Law?

“[A]s a matter of domestic law,” Brennan assured us, “the Constitution empowers the President to protect the nation from any imminent threat of attack.”   Hmm. Art. II, Sec. 2 states: “The President shall be Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the Unites States, and of the Militia of the several States, when called into the actual Service of the United States.” Art. IV Sec. 4 states “The United States shall … protect each [State] against Invasion….”

In Congress is vested power to:

  • Declare war
  • Make rules concerning capture
  • Raise and support Armies, maintain a Navy
  • Make rules for the regulation of the armed Forces
  • Call forth the militia
  • Etc.

The Framers were exceedingly cautious about granting the president war powers. “The constitution supposes, what the History of all Governments demonstrates,” wrote Madison to Jefferson, “that the Executive is the branch of power most interested in war, and most prone to it. It has accordingly with studied care vested the question of war in the Legislature.”

The claim of iron-clad constitutionality is actually thinly based on the standard interpretation of the president’s role as CiC & ‘first responder’ to invasions or imminent threats of attack on the US. Such a scenario envisions the United States at peace but about to be hit with an invasion or attack. Following his handling of this initial attack, the president is still required to get Congress’ approval to continue hostilities, as now codified by the War Powers Act.  If 9/11 counts as the first blow in a war, akin to Pearl Harbor, then we have been “at war” with Al Qaeda for over a decade. Any of the subsequent attacks the enemy is allegedly concocting — and the drone strikes allegedly thwarting — are no more “imminent threats” than was the Japanese fleet’s action at Leyte Gulf.

Our Republic has long struggled to check the propensity of presidents to recklessly engage in war without the consent of the people. On the eve of the Mexican-American War, a young congressman, Abraham Lincoln, wrote words that resonate today:

“Allow the President to invade a neighboring nation, whenever he shall deem it necessary to repel an invasion, and you allow him to do so, whenever he may choose to say he deems it necessary for such purpose — and allow him to make war at pleasure…. how could you stop him? You may say to him, ‘I see no probability of [an invasion]’ but he will say to you ‘be silent; I see it, if you don’t.’

“The provision of the Constitution giving the war-making power to Congress,” Lincoln believed, was to prevent the oppression of kings, who “had always been involving and impoverishing their people in wars, pretending generally, if not always, that the good of the people was the object.” So the Framers “resolved to so frame the Constitution that no one man should hold the power of bringing this oppression upon us.” To do otherwise” places our President where kings have always stood.”

While our current flock of sheep Congress has acquiesced in obama’s usurpation of its war powers, that does not make it constitutional.

_

4. Legal Under International Law?

The obama administration’s justification for its drone campaign so twists & perverts what international law actually says, it’s worth debunking it in detail.

_
A State of Armed Conflict
“As a matter of international law, the United States is in an armed conflict al-Qa’ida, the Taliban, and associated forces”

Under the Geneva Convention, only sovereign entities employing regular military forces are granted belligerent status.  The Taliban, as the deposed former government, could be considered a belligerent fighting a war of liberation in afghanistan.  But al-Qaeda is neither a sovereign entity, nor do its personnel operate as regulated soldiers under arms.  International law is explicit on this — al-Qaeda is a terrorist group, its members civilians subject to civilian criminal law. Using a drone to kill a suspected terrorist violates international humanitarian law — for one, the drone is incapable of offering the suspect the required chance to surrender.

Like Bush before him, obama chooses to treat al-Qaeda as a sovereign belligerent to justify using military force against it. While this may be convenient, it creates a conundrum.  International law treats everyone in a combat zone as either a lawful combatant or a civilian. Combatants receive what is known as privilege — they cannot be punished for any (militarily legitimate) violent acts they may commit. Combatants may, however, be proscetuted for war crimes: violent acts not militarily justified.

Civilians in a combat zone may not be the targets of combat actions. Civilians who directly participate in hostilities (“DPH”) lose that immunity (i.e., they may be targeted while engaged in combat) and are considered unlawful combatants subject to trial and punishment. Ironically, this makes the CIA employees piloting the drones war criminals.

If al-Qaeda is a belligerent at war with us, then its acts are legitimate acts of war, its members lawful combatants immune from criminal prosecution.  To circumvent this, obama has adopted the Bush administration’s expediency of fabricating a new class unrecognized by international law, “unlawful enemy combatant”, and denying this class either due process as civilians or fair treatment as PoWs.

_
Right of Self-Defense
“…We may also use force consistent with our inherent right of national self-defense…”

This assumedly refers to Chapter VII, Art. 51 of the UN Charter: “Nothing in the present Charter shall impair the inherent right of individual or collective self-defence if an armed attack occurs against a Member of the United Nations….”  But again, this is irrelevant when dealing with a terrorist group. The UN has only ever approved non-military sanctions against the Taliban and al-Qaeda, and in 2011 de-linked the sanctions to better distinguish between the Taliban’s “insurgency” vs. al-Qaeda’s “terrorism.”

_
No Ban on Drones
“… There is nothing in international law that bans the use of remotely piloted aircraft for this purpose …”

It comes as no surprise that drones are not mentioned by name as one of the weapons banned in either the 1925 or 1980 Geneva Protocols.  The 1977 Additional Protocol I, however, does declare that “the right … to chose methods or means of warfare is not unlimited”, prohibits the employment of “weapons, projectiles and material and methods of warfare of a nature to cause superfluous injury or unnecessary suffering”, and obliges signatories to determine whether the “adoption of a new weapon, means or method of warfare” is subject to these prohibitions.

Regardless, any conventional weapon can be misused in the commission of a war crime.

_
“Active” Battlefield

“.. There is nothing … that prohibits us from using lethal force against our enemies outside of an active battlefield…”

The treaties governing the conduct of war (Geneva Convention IV & 1977 Additional Protocols; Hague Convention V) stipulate distinct rules for conduct permissible inside a “combat zone” vs. outside. In brief, engaging in military actions outside of a combat zone is a grave violation of international law.  The obama administration has concocted the neologism “active-“ or “hot battlefield” to cloak in a fig leaf of propriety its illegal use of military force outside of combat zones.  In effect, obama has declared the entire world to be a battle zone. This reckless and unprecedented act has alarmed the international human rights community and badly tarnished the reputation of the United States.

_
Sovereignty
“…at least when the country involved consents or is unable or unwilling to take action against the threat…”

Outside of Afghanistan,  our co-belligerent whose territory is a combat zone, drone attacks are a clear violation of the sovereignty of neutral nations.  Simply having John Brennan utter the words “The United States of America respects national sovereignty and international law” does not make it so. The same day as Brennan’s speech, Pakistan’s foreign minister declared: “[w]e consider drones as illegal, non-productive and accordingly unacceptable.”

The US could claim that, by failing to meets its Hague IV obligations as a neutral, Pakistan has become a co-belligerent of al-Qaeda … and declare war. As it stands, Pakistan has the right to shoot down our drones, and appeal to the UN.  Under Hague IV, individual nationals of belligerent states enjoy extensive protections, their neutral host in fact is enjoined from interning or handing them over.

_
Targeting of Civilians

“…Targeted strikes conform to the principle of distinction—the idea that only military objectives may be intentionally targeted and that civilians are protected from being intentionally targeted…”

Who we target for murder-by-drone, and how we decide, may well constitute a war crime. The International Red Cross clarifies DPH as including:

  • Capturing, wounding or killing military personnel;
  • Damaging military objects;
  • Disturbing military logistics through sabotage or road blocks;
  • Interfering electronically with military computer networks;
  • Transmitting tactical targeting intelligence for a specific attack;
  • Laying mines or booby-traps.

Distinct is ‘indirect’ participation in hostilities “which contributes to the general war effort of a party, but does not directly cause harm and, therefore, does not lead to a loss of protection against direct attack. (my emphasis). It is hard to shoe-horn into the DPH definition the activities of Anwar Al’Alawki, his 16 year-old son, people administering first-aid and attending funerals, or couples driving down the road on their honeymoon, all who obama has sentenced to death.

Thanks to a leak by a former obama administration official, we now have confirmation of how targets are selected for murder by drone. A name is selected off a “hit list” by an administration official, and permission (sic) is given by one of ten attorneys to have the person killed. This clearly violates Geneva IV, Art. 3 prohibition of “the passing of sentences and the carrying out of executions without previous judgment pronounced by a regularly constituted court, affording all the judicial guarantees which are recognized as indispensable by civilized peoples.”

The obama drone doctrine is hopelessly muddled. It conflates one nation’s right to defend against an imminent attack by the armed forces of another nation, with the right of a law enforcement officer to use deadly force against an individual criminal suspect who poses an imminent danger.  It attempts to justify killing al-Qaeda members by pretending they are military commanders, or soldiers engaged in combat, then admits they are criminal suspects by insisting “[i]t is our preference to capture suspected terrorists whenever feasible” in order to “prosecute them in our federal courts.”

Boiled down, the obama drone doctrine states: ‘If a terrorist suspect is in a “hard-to-reach place” and thus a pain to capture and bring to trial, we reserve the right to call him a ‘soldier’ & assassinate him with a missile.’

_

5. It’s Ethical?

Brennan claims that obama’s drone killing conform to the ethical principles of “the law of war that govern the use of force”:

  • Necessity — “the requirement that the target have a definite military value”
  • Distinction — “the idea that only military objectives may be intentionally targeted and that civilians are protected from being intentionally targeted”
  • Proportionality—“the notion that the anticipated collateral damage of an action cannot be excessive in relation to the anticipated military advantage”
  • Humanity — “which requires us to use weapons that will not inflict unnecessary suffering.”

Accept, for the sake of argument, the Bush/obama fiction that we are at war with a sovereign entity, and one is still hard-pressed to match drone killings to Brennan’s lofty list of ideals:

  • Necessity — How the center of an entire village is a target of definite military value;
  • Distinction — how firing missiles at funerals, first-aid responders, or children gathering firewood protects civilians from being intentionally targeted;
  • Proportionality — how killing six civilians for every one suspected terrorist is not “excessive”;
  • Humanity — how a “signature attack” on a single suspect using two AGM-114 Hellfire missiles, each of which carries a 20 lb. thermobaric warhead “that can suck the air out of a cave, collapse a building, or produce an astoundingly large blast radius out in the open”, or the 500 lb. GBU-12 fragmentation bomb, does not inflict unnecessary suffering.

Indeed, under international law, obama’s use of drones meets every definition of a war crime.

_

American Tyrant

barack obama has expanded the imperialism of the presidency to a level unprecedented even under Nixon and Bush. He has brazenly and repeatedly usurped war powers from a sheepish Congress while bullying the Judiciary.  One by one, he has stripped away the Constitutional civil liberties of the citizenry.

With a chilling aptness for orwellian double-speak, obama declares

secrecy = transparency

indiscriminate killings = effective & ethical

 disregard for international law = respect for that law

 war = peace

Like Orwell’s Big Brother, obama casts himself as the all-wise, benevolent yet also vindictive supreme leader. He smugly lectures us lowly prols, chides us for sloth, sneers when we doubt his infallibility. With FISA and the Patriot Act, obama also has BB’s universal powers of surveillance.

In short, barack obama personifies what our Founding Fathers feared most: an omnipotent tyrant. “If Tyranny and Oppression come to this land, it will be in the guise of fighting a foreign enemy”, warned Madison. Under Bushama, we have spend eleven years, hundreds of billions of dollars, and caused tens of thousands of deaths, to defeat a chimerical terrorist group that’s struck the US (counting the 1993 WTC garage bomb and the 2000 USS Cole bombing) a grand total of three times in two decades. Were our efforts commensurate to the threat? Or was this just the ruse of all tyrants through the ages — to oppress the people at home with endless wars abroad. Madison again:

Of all the enemies to public liberty, war is, perhaps, the most to be dreaded, because it comprises and develops the germ of every other. In war, too, the discretionary power of the Executive is extended … and all the means of seducing the minds, are added to those of subduing the force, of the people…. No nation could preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare.

We’re told we’re waging war against a foe who by definition cannot wage war, on a battlefield that encompasses every point on the globe, where any civilian in any nation can be labeled a combatant and murdered. Under cover of continual, infinite, boundless warfare, obama has already negated much of our Constitutional liberties.  With the “flexibility” of a second term, is there any doubt that obama will complete the conversion of our Republic into a tyrannical police state?

Freedom-loving Americans have one last chance to avert tyranny by defeating obama this November.  Failing that, our options will be few:

The liberties of our country, the freedoms of our civil Constitution are worth defending at all hazards; it is our duty to defend them against all attacks. We have received them as a fair inheritance from our worthy ancestors. They purchased them for us with toil and danger and expense of treasure and blood.  It will bring a mark of everlasting infamy on the present generation – enlightened as it is – if we should suffer them to be wrested from us by violence without a struggle, or to be cheated out of them by the artifices of designing men. — Sam Adams

(c) 2012 by True Liberal Nexus. All rights reserved.


Obama v. Marshall

April 6, 2012

According to barack obama, John Marshall, the greatest Chief Justice of all time, was a reckless, activist judge.

Professor obama Gives a Lecture

In a response to press corps questions about last month’s obamacare hearings, our erudite professor/president lashed out at the Supreme Court, in what many saw as a blatent attempt to influence its ruling, in the process embarrasing himself by making several patently false statements about our Constitution and the Judiciary Branch.

Sensing — or perhaps tipped off — that last Friday’s initial vote had gone against his eponymous health care law, obama whined that the High Court was on the verge of taking “what would be an unprecedented, extraordinary step of overturning a law that was passed by a strong majority of a democratically elected Congress.” The boy genius went on to refer to our nation’s highest court as “an unelected group of people [who] would somehow overturn a duly constituted and passed law.”

Ignoring for the moment obama’s standard demogoguery (and, admittedly, calling a slim 7-vote victory as “a strong majority” is better than the Nancy Pelosi’s earlier description of a strict party-line vote as “bipartisan“), it’s important to emphasize the temerity of the president’s comments.  obama insinuated that the Judiciary never does, nor should it ever, overturn laws passed by the Legislative branch.

Activist Judges — Proglodyte Version

That’s a false meme which crops up among right-wingers and proglodytes alike whenever rulings don’t go their way.  As one dolt at The Atlantic wrote following the first ruling against obamacare, “contrary to what many Americans believe, our Constitution actually doesn’t provide for judicial review. The power of courts to invalidate state laws is perhaps implied in the text….”  I guess that’s true, if you count ‘something some Alexander Hamilton dude wrote in this obscure & irrelevant book, The Federalist Papers’, as “implied.”

The “general liberty of the people”, Hamilton argues in Federalist #78, “can be preserved in practice no other way than through” independent courts “whose duty it must be to declare all acts contrary to the manifest tenor of the Constitution void. Without this, all the reservations of particular rights or privileges would amount to nothing.”

Hamilton rejects the claim “that the legislative body are themselves the constitutional judges of their own powers” as unsupported by “any particular provisions in the Constitution.”  To suppose “that the Constitution could intend to enable the representatives of the people to substitute their will to that of their constituents” makes no sense to Hamilton.

It is far more rational to suppose, that the courts were designed to be an intermediate body between the people and the legislature, in order … to keep the latter within the limits assigned to their authority. The interpretation of the laws is the proper and peculiar province of the courts.

obama and the jacobins also choose to ingore another important document.  Art. III, Sec. 1  of the U.S. Constitution, establishes “The judicial power of the United States, shall be vested in one Supreme Court, and such inferior Courts as the Congress may from time to time ordaind and establish” (94 of them at present, including the several that ruled on obamacare).

Art. III. Sec. 2’s provision that “The judicial Power shall extend to all Cases, in Law and Equity, arising under this Constitution,the Laws of the United States … under their authority”, including “controversies to which the United States shall be a Party….”

Faced with the prospect of a ruling he won’t like, our constitutional law professor-in-Chief simply wished away that part of the Constistution that actually provides for judicial review (albeit, not in so many words.)  And this is where the ghost of John Marshall needs to get medieval on obama’s scrawny ass.

Judicial Review — 209 Years Young

If you, non-Harvard-matriculated, non-constitutional-law-lecturing plebeians need to know of one Supreme Court case, it should be Marbury v. Madison (1803), when the Court first struck down a federal law, establishing forever more the principle of Judicial Review.

The great, acclaimed first Chief Justice, John Marshall, whose opinions are considered touchstones by all (legitimate) legal scholars, declared in Marbury v. Madison that it is “emphatically the province and duty of the judicial department, to say what the law is.”  Following the ruling, this principle became known as Judicial Review.  It’s pedantic semantics to argue that Judicial Review was only implied, simply because the 1803-vintage coinage didn’t appear in the 1788 text.

Since 1803, the Supreme court has used its power of judicial review to repeal  nearly a thousand state statutes, including (progs take note) Roe v. Wade. Another 160 acts of Congress, including 6 New Deal laws that overstepped the limits of the Commerce Clause, plus over 50 in the just the past three decades, have been struck down.  That’s about five a year — hardly “unprecedented.”

Homework Assignment … for the Professor

Alarmed by obama’s apparent direct challenge to Judicial Review, the Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ordered Eric Holder to respond in writing whether “the Department of Justice recognize[s] that federal courts have the authority in appropriate circumstances to strike federal statutes because of one or more constitutional infirmities.”

Holder complied by confirming that “the power of the courts to review the constitutionality of legislation is beyond dispute” while insisting his bosses comments were “fully consistent” with that principle.

Following what must have been a crash refresher course on constitutional law, obama back-tracked on his comments:

The point I was making is that the Supreme Court is the final say on our Constitution and our laws, and all of us have to respect it, but it’s precisely because of that extraordinary power that the Court has traditionally exercised significant restraint and deference to our duly elected legislature, our Congress. And so the burden is on those who would overturn a law like this….

They should have left it at that.  But White House spokesman Jay Carney  blurted out  that the president was specifically referring to “the precedent under the Commerce Clause” regarding a legislature’s ability to address “challenges to our national economy.”  Then the Harvard Law grad put his foot right back into his mouth:

We have not seen a court overturn a law that was passed by Congress on an economic issue, like health care, that I think most people would clearly consider commerce, a law like that has not been overturned at least since Lochner.  So we’re going back to the ’30s, pre-New Deal.

For the record, Lochner v. New York (1905)  predated the New Deal by three decades, is today considered largely irrelevant, and dealt with the Due Process Clause, not the Commerce Clause.

Real-life legal experts were quick to remind obama of U.S. v. Lopez (1995) and U.S. v. Morrison (2000), two quite recent Supreme Court cases where Congress was indeed found to have overstepped its Commerce Clause powers.  Both ruled that, even though a private act (packing a gun to school; beating up women; resp.) might have some aggregate effect on commerce, if not in itself commercial activity, it cannot be subject to regulation.

Calculated Ploy, or Emotional Outburst?

obama’s fractured-fairy tale version of Constitutional law may have been the first shot fired in a ploy to use the obamacare ruling in the election. Or, as fellow true liberal and political commentator, John Smart, surmised, “he lost his temper because he didn’t get his way.  That’s how narcissistic personalities act.”

Quite likely, the primary motive was to save the mandate by shifting a swing vote — Kennedy’s, most would guess.  But consider another possibility — the result obama was trying to influence was not a 5-4 in favor, but to avoid a 6-3 against.  Although the comments & questions of four leftist judges during the hearings mostly indicated support for the law, one line of questioning by Justice Sotomayor raised speculation.  “So … you’re answering affirmatively to my colleagues that have asked you the question, can the government force you into commerce,” she asked Verilli, the government’s attorney.  When he conceded that point, Sotomayor followed up rhetorically, “And there is no limit to that power.”  The need to establish a clear, limiting principle to the scope of Congress’ regulatory power — in this case, why insurance but not broccoli — was the central question on all nine justice’s minds.  It was the lack of clear limits that led courts nearly identical in philosophical spectrum as this one to rule in Lopez and Morrison.
Pols like James Carville believe obama can campaign successfully on a 5-4 loss, presenting it as part of the GOP crusade against ‘our values.’  Tacitly acknowledging that Republicans will control both houses come 2013, obama can offer himself as a ‘last line of defense’. The standard argument, that we need a Democrat in the White House to nominate new justices, will of course be made.  The fresh defeat of a law passed by Democrats contains more potency than the stale, vague threat to Roe, which three decades of conservative majorities on the Court have yet to repeal.

All these propaganda tools are seriously compromised were one of the four presumed ‘solid’ votes for the mandate to flip, especially an obama appointee.  Then the story line goes: ‘This guy devoted the entire first year of his term to getting this law passed,and now it’s wiped off the books.  He wasn’t smart enough to realize it had constitutional issues, nor could he even pick the right judge to uphold it.’

If obama did indeed learn that Sotomayor will rule against, it’s no wonder he lost his cool.

Do I Get My Single Payer Now?

Many progs, in sudden shock & disillusionment that the entire ACA may be overturned — not to mention fearing taunts by coworkers over their “Healthcare: Reformed!” coffee mug — desperately seek a silver lining.  If obamacare must be defeated, they reason, maybe it’s the first step to passing real healthcare reform: a single-payer system that covers absolutely everyone.  The more severely mentally ill believe losing before the Supreme Court was all along part of obama’s secret, multi-dimensional plan to implement single-payer.

Not so fast, gang.  Even assuming you somehow re-elect barry with Dem majorities in both houses while, barry’s simply not interested in single-payer.  In his impromptu teach-in he insisted that “in the absence of an individual mandate, you cannot have a mechanism to ensure that people with preexisting conditions can actually get health care.”   Yet, as Single Payer Action —  you, know, barry, those liberals who filed that amicus curiae brief arguing against your mandate — stated in said brief:

[T]he Government characterizes the provision as necessary to the effective regulation by Congress of the national healthcare market, but disregards the proven success of single payer systems currently operating in the United States…. Congress has already implemented successful single payer systems that provide universal coverage to certain subsets of the population, including Medicare … and the Veterans Health Administration….

No surprise that healthcare experts who supported a national single payer system were banned from testifying before Congress.

A Tough Sell

Whatever the vote, if obamacare is struck down in whole or part, it will make touting the president’s list of accomplishments a tough sell.  To rally ‘the base’, obama may well be forced to promise of single-payer in his second term.  The GOP can easily counter by spinning it: ‘We just got rid of the obamacare y’all hate; now he’s promising to do obamacare all over again!’

Even from people who’d hoped for any kind of healthcare reform, giving obama a mulligan may be too much to ask.  He was handed a ‘mandate’ and large majorities in Congress, and he screwed up.  Those ideal conditions will not be recreated.  When the ACA was first introduced in 2009, it was a major disappointment to those on the far Left.  Now, a failure of obama’s healthcare juggernaut  may bring those long-supressed resentments back to the surface.  Given the efficiency of obama’s propaganda machine, it’s easy to forget the stridency of the voices on the Left originally opposed to obamacare:

  • Democrats “lost the initiative the minute that our party jumped into bed with the insurance companies,” complained Dennis Kucinich.  “This bill represents a giveaway to the insurance industry”
  • “This is essentially the collapse of health care reform” lamented Howard Dean. “Honestly the best thing to do right now is kill [it.]”
  • “From what we know about the bill, it is worse than passing nothing, ” seethed Jane Hamsher of Firedoglake, who found the bill “worse than passing nothing. If I wanted Joe Lieberman writing a health care bill, I would’ve voted for John McCain.”
  • Huffy Poo opined that the bill failed to pass “the first rule of medicine … ‘do no harm.'”

Even those obama slut-monkeys, MoveOn.org, protested outside the White House, issuing a press release complaining “[w]ithout a public option, it’s just a giveaway to the insurance companies, and it does nothing to control costs.”
While obama’s team eventually quelled dissent from the Left,  it has been unable to remedy overall discontent with obamacare.  The latest Gallup poll reported that only 20% of Americans, and just 37% of Democrats, thought the mandate was constitutional; that only 11% of swing state voters feel the law has helped their families; that 53/40, voters favored repeal of the law.  Of the 28 states that filed suits against the ACA, 12 went for obama in 2008.  And Scott Brown tells us all we need to know about how Massachusetts feel about obamacare.

This November, when trying to get out the vote, OFA may find itself fighting the resentment of otherwise dependable voters like this MoveOn member picketing outside the White House in 2009:

“To me, it’s the death of health care.  And that’s sad, because this was a real opportunity. I think people voted heavily Democratic because they wanted something done to solve the health care problem, and instead we’re just getting something that will benefit the insurance companies.”

(c) 2012 by True Liberal Nexus.  All rights reserved.