Thursday, December 11, 2014

From American Exceptionalism to American Deceptionalism

Largely misunderstood or misused today, American Exceptionalism refers to the unique and exceptional form of governance created by the American Constitution with respect to individual power, liberty and freedom.

Prior to the creation of this nation, all forms of governance had been tyrannical, that is, total power and liberty were held by a monarch — or a czar, a dictator, a military conqueror, or a tribal leader — who in turn gave limited power, freedom and liberty to the individual.  Under the framers' historically new and "exceptionally" American form of constitutional governance, power, liberty, and freedom flowed from the Creator directly to each individual, who in turn gave limited power and liberty to the state (i.e., government).

In an interesting essay, Professor Ben Voth argues that today "[w]e are besieged by an intellectual elite intensely committed to a grand design of American Deceptionalism," whose four characteristics he defines as follows (below are excerpts only):
  1. American is not exceptional. For our epistemic elite composed of Hollywood storytellers, jaded journalists, professional activists, and reactionary academics it is a cardinal rule that America is exceptional in only one respect: guilt. America is exceptionally guilty of any moral violation that the mind can conjure up — whether selfishness, bigotry, hatred, imperialism, greed, murder, genocide, sexism and on it goes — no nation has committed greater sins than this one.
  2. The general American public is incredibly stupid and ignorant. The stupidity of Americans necessitates and justifies all kinds of rhetorical manipulations aimed at raising them up out of their failure to follow the example set by the higher beings inhabiting the East and West Coast and select urban centers. The deception spoken of by [MIT professor and Obamacare architect Jonathan] Gruber was not unusual and is in fact normative for American elite. There is consequentially a voracious paternalism among the armies of Grubers that care for the American public through elite institutions.
  3. Christianity, Judaism and religiosity contribute to the stubborn bad character traits of Americans. If Americans would stop clinging to religion, the nation could progress and lean forward. ... A breed of secular Pharisees takes us on a new shining path ... Religious people need to 'coexist' and cooperate with the secular Pharisees provided to them by American deceptionalists. 
  4. American deceptionalism is a bipartisan movement. The elite of the Republican and Democratic Parties have a shared contempt for the general public. ... Ethics are a vulgar notion held among populists. They have no place in deceptionalist governance.
The author concludes:
Because American deceptionalists abhor individual rights, they attack individuals to isolate them and force broader adherence to group identity politics and politically correct thinking designed by the elite.  They seek to manipulate, control and limit notions of individual heroism.  The individual is inherently construed as a threat to social order.  Americans can and should challenge argumentatively, the assumptions noted above -- whether in classrooms, national cathedrals, boardrooms, council meetings, or rallies. Aspects of an American renaissance are already in the making, but the convictions of American deceptionalists are stubborn and persistent. They will require heroic resistance to fully defeat and return the nation to an appreciation of individual liberty.

Source: American Deceptionalism, Ben Voth, American Thinker

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Jackie's Gang Rape Story: Early Lessons

Any woman with an ounce of estrogen in her body had to be seething as she read the Rolling Stone story of “Jackie’s” gang rape by nine University of Virginia frat boys. A reader’s desire to punish those men – in some creatively vile ways not fit to put on paper – would have been palpable.  In hindsight, that estrogen-infused, brain-deprived reaction appears to be exactly what the author and the magazine sought to achieve with the now-discredited story.

Jackie’s story began falling apart when others, exercising basic journalistic skills, discovered there was no party at the fraternity house on September 28, and the fraternity rushed in the spring, not the fall – two simple facts neither the author nor the magazine made any attempt to check. Rolling Stone issued a lame quasi-retraction, and Jackie’s own friends began backing away from her story. Now we learn that Jackie herself tried to withdraw from the story before it was published.

No doubt more will come out as the larger story unfolds, and it should. The innocents deserve exoneration, and the guilty deserve condemnation.  All of them.

In the meantime, we can draw a few early lessons from Jackie’s story.

One, liberal-progressives lie, distort, exaggerate, and emotionally manipulate with complete abandon to achieve their nefarious objectives.  The manufactured ‘war on women’ is one example.  Others include Jonathan Gruber’s candid (even proud) admissions of the public lies told by liberal-progressives to win passage of Obamacare, and IRS officials’ lies surrounding abuse of conservative organizations and individuals.  Lying worked in each case, but only for a time (a really short time in Jackie’s case).  Truth eventually raises her beautiful head and overcomes.  

Two, liberal lies cause real harm to the country and to innocent people.  Obamacare is the most extreme example.  A law now, the Affordable Care Act is a policy nightmare that has cost millions of people their health insurance and their health care providers, with more pain to come if implementation proceeds. With the truth of this disaster now obvious, a majority wants it repealed and replaced. 

Jackie’s story has caused harm to innocents, too.  The immediate damage is to the reputations of the men accused of such a reprehensible act and to their fraternity. The long-term damage will be felt by future rape victims who fear having their veracity doubted if they report the crime. 

Three, liberal college administrators are justifiably reaping the bitter fruit they have sown. They have been complicit in hyper-sexualizing campuses with co-ed dorms and bathrooms, bowls of free condoms, sex shows and Vagina Monologues plays, and titillating sex courses of no academic value. Add a generous supply of alcohol, and the situation becomes combustible.  A “sexual assault crisis” on campus?  Whatever did they expect?

Four, feminists have completely lost their minds, along with any moral grounds on which to speak for women. After Jackie’s story was called into question, feminist Zerlina Maxwell argued in the Washington Post that the facts [read truth] didn’t really matter because the story “helped dramatize what happens when the claims of victims are not taken seriously.” She’s wrong; facts and truth do matter above all else.

After decades of advocating that women play the non-committal hook-up sex game with men, feminists find women aren’t faring very well. So they’re petitioning the federal government for new Title IX regulations to tilt the campus sex-playing field in favor of women: to force colleges to adopt policies that presume the honesty of an accuser and the guilt of an accused. 

“It’s no coincidence that the Rolling Stone article spent a great deal of time advocating for the expansion of federal involvement in higher education via Title IX of the Civil Rights Act,” Jonah Goldberg points out; “regulations that would erode the presumption of innocence in rape cases on campus.”  God help the University of Virginia men if such regulations were already in place.

As we stand with and defend the innocents, whatever residual outrage we feel from reading Jackie’s story should be redirected to the guilty:  liberals who try to avoid the consequences of their incessant dishonesty.

U-Va Students Challenge Rolling Stone, T. Rees Shapiro, Washington Post
Rolling Stone and Random House Deserve Defamation Lawsuits, Leslie Loftis,
Why the Media's Fact Problems are Way Bigger Than Rolling Stone, Mollie Hemingway

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Reforming Anchor Baby Citizenship

"Any serious immigration reform considered in the next Congress should revisit the concept of birthright citizenship (namely that all children born on U.S. soil are citizens, regardless of their parents' status), or what is sometimes referred to as the 'anchor baby' issue," writes Heritage Foundation's Genevieve Wood. She gives the following rationale:
  • Birthright citizenship incentivizes illegal immigrants to have children on U.S. soil in hopes it will allow them, the parents, to gain legal status;
  • It fuels "chain migration," the process whereby one legal family member, once 21 years of age, is able to apply to bring in parents, siblings and in-laws. According to one study, 747,413 (or 66.1%) of the 1,130,818 immigrants granted legal permanent residency in 2009 were family-sponsored immigrants.
  • It is costly to the U.S. taxpayer. While illegal immigrants themselves do not qualify for welfare, they can obtain Medicaid and food stamps on behalf of their U.S.-born children. (One study found that "nationwide, 40% of illegal alien-headed households receive some type of welfare.")
  • And last but not least, birthright citizenship, as currently understood, is arguably unconstitutional.
Wood explains the constitutional issue this way:
For America’s first 100-plus years, the idea that just because someone was born on U.S. soil made them a U.S. citizen was disavowed. But a Supreme Court decision in 1898 (yes, there was judicial activism back then, too) that broadly and wrongly interpreted the 14th Amendment’s Citizenship Clause changed all that.

The original intent of the Citizenship Clause was to ensure former slaves were given citizenship status.  It was never intended to give such status to children born here because their parents were living here as foreign ambassadors, diplomats or consuls, or simply because their non-citizen parent(s) had a baby while visiting or residing, legal or otherwise, in the U.S.

Heritage Foundation legal scholar Hans von Spakovsky puts it this way:

It is just plain wrong to claim that the children born of parents temporarily in the country as students or tourists are automatically U.S. citizens. They do not meet the 14th Amendment’s jurisdictional allegiance obligations. They are, in fact, subject to the political jurisdiction (and allegiance) of the country of their parents. The same applies to the children of illegal aliens because children born in the United States to foreign citizens are citizens of their parents’ home country.
Source: Not All Kids Born in the US Should Be Made Citizens, Genevieve Wood, The Daily Signal, The Heritage Foundation

Monday, December 8, 2014

Poll: Race Relations Worsening During Obama's Leadership

A Bloomberg poll finds the following:
President Barack Obama had hoped his historic election would ease race relations, yet a majority of Americans, 53 percent, say the interactions between the white and black communities have deteriorated since he took office, according to a new Bloomberg Politics poll.

Those divisions are laid bare in the split reactions to the decisions by two grand juries not to indict white police officers who killed unarmed black men in Ferguson, Mo., and Staten Island, N.Y.

Source: Most Americans See Race Relations Worsening Since Obama's Election, Bloomberg

Barnett: How to Finally Kill Obamacare

Law professor Randy Barnett, who directs Georgetown University Law School's Center for the Constitution, writes in USA Today that "there is now a clear path to repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act next year."
  • There is now a serious financial risk to the ACA now that the Supreme Court has agreed to hear King v. Burwell, which challenges the legality of the IRS ruling that — contrary to the law's specific language — permits federal subsidies in states that have not built their own state exchanges.
  • Opponents of ACA should begin to develop — and have ready — a viable alternative law, one that has gone through the regular order legislative process.
  • As a rule, Supreme Court justices are reluctant to invalidate a law on which many relied. It will be far easier for the justices to enforce the law's existing language if they know there is a viable alternative that can be enacted by both house of Congress and signed by the president within a week of their ruling.
  • The alternative law should:
    • completely repeal, in its first line, each and every word of the ACA;
    • restore the private insurance market using actuarially-based insurance priced according to risk;
    • restore consumer choice to buy true private insurance limited to the terms they want to pay for, including policies insuring only catastrophic costs, and medical savings accounts;
    • increase competition among insurers by allowing state regulated policies to be sold across state lines so people don't have to change insurance when they move; and
    • increase equity by extending tax benefits now available only to employer0based insurance.
By having a legislatively-vetted replacement in the pipeline and in the public discussion before oral arguments are held in March, Barnett argues, Obamacare's opponents can make a favorable ruling against the law much more likely.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

O's Immigration: Illegals Lose Public Support, States File Lawsuit

"Seventeen states are involved in a lawsuit filed Wednesday challenging President Obama's executive actions on immigration," reports Breitbart. "Texas, Alabama, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Montana, Nebraska, South Caroline, South Dakota, Utah, West Virginia, Wisconsin and the governors of Mississippi, Maine, North Carolina and Idaho filed the suit in U.S. District Court in the Southern District of Texas."

The lawsuit argues:
  • The executive action on immigration conflicts with the President’s constitutional duty to “take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed.” The Take Care Clause limits the scope of presidential power and ensures that the chief executive will uphold and enforce Congress’s laws – not unilaterally rewrite them under the cover of “prosecutorial discretion.”
  • The DHS Directive failed to comply with the Administrative Procedure Act’s required notice and comment rulemaking process before providing that legal benefits like federal work permits, Medicare, and Social Security be awarded to individuals who are openly violating immigration laws.
  • The executive action to dispense with federal immigration law will exacerbate the humanitarian crisis along the southern border, which will affect increased state investment in law enforcement, health care and education.
Polls also find public support for illegal immigrants is falling.
  • Quinnipiac reported "that support for immigrants is at its lowest level" ever measured by the poll:  48% now say illegals should be allowed to stay, compared to 57% a year ago.
  • A post-Obama Economist/YouGov poll found that only "47% now favor providing those here illegally having a path toward citizenship ... In February, more than half favored some sort of pathway to citizenship."

17 States File Lawsuit Challenging Executive Amnesty, Caroline May, Breitbart
Quinnipiac University Poll press release, Nov 25, 2014
Only Democrats Support Obama's Executive Order on Immigration, Kathy Frankovic, Economist/YouGov Poll, Dec 2, 2014

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Why the Middle Class is Hurting

"The American middle class has absorbed a steep increase in the cost of health care and other necessities as incomes have stagnated over the past half decade, a squeeze that has forced families to cut back spending on everything from clothing to restaurants," reports the Wall Street Journal, which provides this chart on changes spending and income in middle class households since 2007.

Source: Basic Costs Squeeze Families, Ryan Knutson and Theo Francis, Wall Street Journal