Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Mask Slippages: Historic Occurrences Dept.

     There are days I wonder whether the entire world has had a cerebrectomy. There are other days I wonder whether I’m the only one with a functioning memory. And there are days when, having just read something like this:

     Via NTK and Powerline, a memorably awkward moment from yesterday’s Fourth Circuit hearing on the travel-ban order. Alan Dershowitz warned of this bizarre scenario, in which the same executive order might be constitutional or unconstitutional depending purely on which president signed it, when Trump’s revised travel ban was blocked by two federal judges in March. The order was discriminatory, the courts reasoned, not so much because of what it said but because of what Trump said when he was a candidate. He had talked about discriminating against people based on faith (e.g., a temporary worldwide ban on Muslims from entering the U.S.), therefore it was safe to presume that his travel ban had a discriminatory motive even though it applied only to a small number of Muslim countries. By that logic, Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton could have signed the same order, word for word, and it probably would have been upheld as constitutional, accorded the usual benefit of the doubt the president receives from courts on national security matters.

     By looking past the text of the order to statements outside the record, courts are setting themselves up for eye-crossing exercises in divining purpose.

     ...I decide that a repost will serve for the moment, while I finish de-escalating my blood pressure and suppressing my urge to break out the Barrett .50 and the emergency package of Oreo Double-Stufs.®

     The following first appeared at Eternity Road in March of 2007.

The Mask Slips

     Minnesota is a fairly nice place, if you can tolerate the weather. Ordinary Minnesotans are perfectly courteous, and no more likely to shoot you or pick your pocket than decent folks anywhere. Minneapolis, in particular, is one of the most civilized small cities on the continent. (Your Curmudgeon loves the Lucite hamster tunnels that connect the office buildings in the downtown district!) Minnesotan grain and dairy products are sold throughout the lower 48 states. The state is home to some important leading-edge technology firms, and of course there's always the Mesabi Range, without which Detroit would have to make our cars out of plywood.

     In Minnesota, the state branch of the national Democratic Party calls itself the Democrat-Farm-Labor (DFL) Party. It's been politically in the ascendant in the Land of 7000 Lakes and 3000 Settling Ponds approximately since the Battle of Thermopylae, and no one expects that to change any time soon. (Say, Liz, was that part of why you moved?)

     So what sort of person do Minnesotans elevate to their state legislature? This kind:

     I just got off the phone with Steve Gottwalt, who had some shocking news from the Capitol. Today, at a committee hearing, Cy Thao told Steve "When you guys win, you get to keep your money. When we win, we take your money." This was Thao's explanation as to how the DFL plans on paying for all the spending increases they promised their special interest friends.

     You'd better hear this loud and clear, people. It's blatantly obvious that the Minnesota DFL has declared war on our pocketbooks with their proposed tax increases & their promise of increasing spending dramatically. Let's remember that Mindy Greiling said so publicly at a news conference this week:

     Greiling outlined her plan at a Capitol news conference, where DFL lawmakers including four first-term representatives gave their support. They said they campaigned to raise more money for schools, and Greiling said neither Gov. Tim Pawlenty’s budget proposal nor the state’s projected $2.16 billion budget surplus will do the job.

     Mindy Greiling's saying that a $2.16 billion surplus isn't enough to satisfy their spending needs, combined with Thao's declaration that "When you guys win, you get to keep your money. When we win, we take your money" should be proof positive that the Democrats' agenda is based on their belief that there's never enough money to satisfy their spending habits.

     Your Curmudgeon cannot help but recall Ferdinand Lundberg's striking assessment of state-level politicos from The Rich and the Super-Rich: is a settled conclusion among seasoned observers that, Congress apart as a separate case, the lower legislatures -- state, county, and municipal -- are Augean stables of misfeasance, malfeasance, and nonfeasance from year to year and decade to decade, and that they are preponderantly staffed by riffraff, or what the police define as "undesirables," people who if they were not in influential positions would be unceremoniously told to "keep moving." Exceptions among them are minor. Many of them, including congressmen, refuse to go before the television cameras because it is then so plainly obvious to everybody what they are. Their whole demeanor arouses instant distrust in the intelligent. They are, all too painfully, type-cast for the race track, the sideshow carnival, the back alley, the peep show, the low tavern, the bordello, the dive. Evasiveness, dissimulation, insincerity shine through their false bonhomie like beacon lights....

     As to other legislatures, Senator Estes Kefauver found representatives of the vulpine Chicago Mafia ensconced in the Illinois legislature, which has been rocked by one scandal of the standard variety after the other off and on for seventy-five years. What he didn't bring out was that the Mafians were clearly superior types to many non-Mafians....

     Public attention, indeed, usually centers on only a few lower legislatures -- Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, California and Illinois -- and the impression is thereby fostered in the unduly trusting that the ones they don't hear about are on the level. But such an impression is false. The ones just mentioned come into more frequent view because their jurisdictions are extremely competitive and the pickings are richer. Fierce fights over the spoils generate telltale commotion. Most of the states are quieter under strict one-party quasi-Soviet Establishment dominance, with local newspapers cut in on the gravy. Public criticism and information are held to a minimum, grousers are thrown a bone, and not many in the local populace know or really care. Even so, scandalous goings-on explode into view from time to time in Florida, Texas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Missouri and elsewhere -- no state excepted. Any enterprising newspaper at any time could send an aggressive reporter into any one of them and come up with enough ordure to make the Founding Fathers collectively vomit up their very souls in their graves.

     Lundberg wrote that in 1968.

     Now, birds of a feather do flock together. Time has a concentrating effect upon human traits, drawing us steadily closer to those most like us in character and conduct, and away from those markedly different from us. What appears to have happened, in Minnesota and elsewhere, is that the nastier politicos have concentrated in one of our two major parties. Republicans should not be presumed simon-pure by any means; no politician can be trusted out of public view for longer than it takes to go to the toilet. But the most brazen, most thieving, and most contemptuous of the rights and prerogatives of private citizens all seem to be Democrats today, and the most corrupt and profligate of our state legislatures all seem to be dominated by Democrats.

     (If you would like a metric by which to gauge the probity of your local news media, ask this: When a public figure is accused of low conduct of any sort, do the local papers and broadcasters report his party affiliation the same way all the time, or do they attempt to downplay or conceal it if he's a Democrat?)

     The state legislatures are the "farm teams" for Congress and the Senate. Ponder that for a moment.

     If decent Americans continue to refuse to involve themselves in local politics, what can we expect but more of the same, and worse? Yet the major news media relentlessly concentrate our attention on the federal sphere. They trivialize the doings of state and local governments, as if their exactions and pronouncements were of no importance. Altogether too many Americans uncritically follow their lead.

     When the mask slips as revealingly as it did in the article cited above, it's usually at the state or local level. The reason is not far to seek: our elected miscreants are aware of the dearth of attention on them. It's a fault in dire need of correction.

1 comment:

Linda Fox said...

The nastiness of the last few years has kept many from entering the political arena - who wants to be publicly trashed for the audacity of filing for office?

I do think that, whether or not we stand as candidates, we need to involve ourselves in some part of the process - simply to move things in the direction of civility, if possible.

If civility isn't possible, then we need to get comfortable with mud-wrestling, and prepare to throw garbage at the other side(s).