Thursday, June 28, 2012

The "Right To Publicly Lie" Day?

Taking a step back from the analytical particulars of the United States Supreme Court rulings reported today, I was struck by what seemed to be an unintentional yet inescapably common thread in those two substantive decisions.*

In those two cases for which substantive rulings were actually issued today, the one common thread seemed to be that it was a banner day for public liars . . . in one case involving demonstrable falsehoods uttered by certain members of the public regarding military honors they outrageously claimed to have received, and in the other, prevarications told by certain elected and appointed high public officials in our federal government.

Thus, in the two substantive rulings issued on the same day, one might claim that the Supreme Court of the United States upheld the "right" to very publicly lie about extremely important matters, all without any real consequence to those having uttering the falsehoods.

In the first case, UNITED STATES v. ALVAREZ, the Court let stand a decision of the U.S Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit, which had declared an Act of Congress (the “Stolen Valor Act of 2005”) unconstitutional.  They thereby upheld that "right," pursuant to the scope of First Amendment protection of persons so inclined, to publicly lie without fear of possible criminal sanction, about supposed valorous contributions they made to our nation and on behalf of their fellow soldiers during military service in time of war.  And, specifically, as was the case with Mr. Alvarez, such false claims included his claim to having received our highest official meritorious citation for valor, the Congressional Medal of Honor.

So now, in the absence of an enforceable statute, and presumably until one can be drawn with greater particularity, it will not matter how false someone's claims might be with respect to the actions proscribed by the statute, even where an individual making such claims may not have actually ever served in the military of our nation for even one moment of his or her life!

As a result, in the absence of additional proof of criminal fraud arising therefrom, those "stolen valor" liars will simply get away with it.

The Court also upheld the "right" of certain Members of Congress and the President,especially during passage, to repeatedly and publicly mislead to the American people about the source of constitutional authority for a key portion of legislation under consideration – the "Affordable Care Act," also known as "Obamacare," a lengthy federal statute which the Congress enacted two years ago, and which the President signed during the prior Democrat-controlled session of Congress.  The case, of course, was NATIONAL FEDERATION OF INDEPENDENT BUSINESS ET AL. v. SEBELIUS, SECRETARY OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES, ET AL.

Though the President himself, and his top healthcare official, and one of the President's top financial appointees, together with numerous members of the majority (Democrat) party at the time, and even later, claimed that the source of Constitutionality for the "mandate" provision of that Act was the Commerce Clause, and repeatedly denied that it was a tax, the Court nevertheless narrowly upheld the constitutionality of that mandate only as an exercise of the taxing authority under the Constitution. A majority of the Court (the four dissenters plus Chief Justice Roberts, who also voted with the liberals to uphold the mandate as a tax) were clearly of the opinion that the mandate could not have withstood constitutional scrutiny as an exercise of federal power under the Commerce Clause.

So the upshot was that those public liars who insisted during passage that it was not a tax, got away with it too.  The Act, after all, was upheld in spite of the considerable level of deceit.

Public liars had themselves a very big day today.

* (The Writ of Certiorari in a third case -- FIRST AMERICAN FINANCIAL CORPORATION, SUC-
v. DENISE P. EDWARDS was "dismissed as improvidently granted," which might make some wonder a bit how it was originally granted.  But there was no substantive opinion issued.)

Saturday, June 16, 2012

An Uncommon Act Remembered

There in the midst of all hell, on July 17, 1944, a mere month and more following the invasion of Nazi-occupied France on D-Day in the summer of 1944, the largest air and sea invasion force ever launched, occurred an instantaneous act of uncommon grace and sacrifice by an American fighter pilot from Oklahoma, 22 year old 1Lt Billie D. Harris.
For Billie, it was his final act, one that for 67 years has never been forgotten by the townspeople of Les Ventes, France.

One man in that village personally witnessed the resolve Harris showed in those final few moments of his life, somehow maintaining enough control of his crippled plane so that it did not hurl into their village, but instead crashed in a nearby woods.  Harris perished as a result of the crash.

And yet, it was all only very recently learned of by Peggy Harris, the young wife Lt. Billie Harris left behind. Until a relative was finally able to track down what had happened to Billie, Peggy, who now lives in Texas, was not even certain he had died, and she was obviously unaware that a few times during each and every year since then, the people of this little village in France, honored and celebrated the heroic sacrifice on their behalf by Billie Harris.

He had been buried there in a frequently festooned place of honor for many decades, until he was finally moved a few years ago to the American cemetery at Normandy.  The villagers still bring flowers to his grave, and the main street in their little town is, of course, named Place Billie D. Harris.

Steve Hartman of CBS "On the Road" tells the amazing story in the following embedded clip (ht, Coalition of the Swilling, here.) 

Sunday, June 10, 2012

"Liberals Are Ruining America!" One Of 'Em Tries A Bum Steer

06/10/2012 -- Two days ago, some fellow named Steve Almond, a former adjunct professor of creative writing at Boston College, published a contrarian liberal viewpoint on the New York Times blog RIFF, one with a very catchy title, which was also published in today's print edition of the New York Times Magazine . . . to wit:
"Liberals Are Ruining America. I Know Because I Am One."
Well, I nodded my head in agreement with the sentiment expressed in the header, so I read on:
"In the spring of 2006, I quit my job as an adjunct professor at Boston College to protest the school’s selection of Condoleezza Rice as commencement speaker. My resignation letter, published online by The Boston Globe, went viral. Over the next few days, I received hundreds of e-mails, evenly divided between praise and condemnation, along with numerous invitations to appear on cable television.

The most tempting offer came from "Hannity & Colmes." As I viewed it then, Sean Hannity represented the bane of American civic life: a blow-dried blowhard paid to vilify his enemies and incite his imbecilic fans. I leapt at the chance to confront him on live TV.

A producer promised me 10 minutes of airtime, during which I would be free to voice my objections to Rice, the former secretary of state. As it turned out, my interview ran just over three minutes, much of which I spent trying to fend off Hannity’s insistence that I voted for John Kerry. Not what I’d envisioned, but I managed to outlast his bullying and even launch a few zingers before my mike was cut. I was immensely pleased with myself, and I happily accepted kudos from fellow lefties.

Over the past few years, I’ve come to view my appearance as somewhat less heroic. I hadn’t spoken truth to power or caused anyone to reassess Secretary Rice’s record. I merely provided a few minutes of gladiatorial stimulation for Fox News. In seeking to assert my moral superiority, I enabled Hannity.

This, to be blunt, is the tragic flaw of the modern liberal. We choose to see ourselves as innocent victims of an escalating right-wing fanaticism. But too often we serve as willing accomplices to this escalation and to the resulting degradation of our civic discourse. We do this, without even meaning to, by consuming conservative folly as mass entertainment.
. . . . (more in original)
Oh, okay.  I could see where this was going!  Alas, anyone like me who had been deceptively hooked by that title, but who then proceeded to read the actual Op-Ed, quickly realized that the title far, far out-performed the accompanying text.

In fact, the actual text reminded me a little bit whole lot of yesterday's performance of "I'll Have Another" in the Belmont Stakes.

Assuming that he also penned the title, it appears that Mr. Almond has not altogether lost touch with at least one creative writing skill -- i.e., the old "bum steer!"

For readers here who may not have recalled Mr. Almond's original one hit wonder claim to notoriety, please do not be surprised because it is not, standing alone, further proof that your memory is going.

It just wasn't at all memorable.

That was because his 15 minutes of fame came and went so quickly, it didn't even take 15 minutes . . . unless you were a very slow reader!  And, it occurred fully six years ago. I personally suspect Mr. Almond may be trying to reprise those long ago feelings with this latest offering.

So, just as a reminder, on May 12, 2006, our once adjunct professor of creative writing at Boston College, did indeed publicly announce, via a fulsome (of himself) letter to his then college President, Father William J. Leahy, SJ -- also simultaneously published as an Op-Ed in the Boston Globe -- that he was resigning his teaching position with the college, by damn, because they had invited then-Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, to be the commencement speaker for the graduating class of the school that year.

How dare they!

You get the idea. (And, you'll have to fork over the dough to pierce that NY Times "pay veil" if you actually want to read the whole tiresome thing!)

But back to his latest offering. Steve Almod's position seems to be that liberals should stop "enabling" conservatives by engaging in public debate with them.

When I began reading it, I honestly thought at first it was parody, and I kept looking for a punch line!

Apparently this past Tuesday in Wisconsin was a much bigger shock to the left than anyone imagined, even after watching the risible MSNBC crew in that humorous summary clip posted by Charles Spierling at the Washington Examiner.

Amond's position would be like arguing that the Yankees should heretofore refuse to play any more away games! You can almost imagine the terse press statement: "Going forward, the rest of the schedule will either be played in the Stadium, or we're taking our ball and going home!"

And back in 2006, I suppose it just never occurred to Almond that resigning his teaching position to protest a commencement speaker, especially someone as accomplished as Condoleezza Rice, was so fundamentally stupid, that he thereby forever ceded his capacity to take on or prevail in any real public debate.

This latest tripe of his confirms that, first because he not only intentionally brought it up again, but he then added this latest nonsense about no longer participating in debate.  "Don't feed the trolls!" he demands, all the while assuring us that he has conservative friends.  He must be fun at a cocktail party!

Almond's basic argument is that he and all other liberals are ruining America because they've been "enabling" conservatives by engaging in public debate with them!

That argument, of course, rejects the fundamental liberal premise that engagement in the battle of ideas inevitably results in the best ones prevailing.

So, according to Almond, conservatives should just shut up and follow what their "betters" are cooking up for them, and liberals and progressives should stop arguing with conservatives, because . . . uh, because . . . uh, because . . . uh --

He never actually arrives at an answer, other than, as noted above, Sean Hannity's producers somehow once "cheated" him out of 7 minutes worth of "on-air" time to make his killer argument, and he's still pissed. Well, I guess Almond had to work Fox into the piece . . . a little raw meat for the progressive base, don't you know!

Wow!  Earth to Steve Almond!  MSNBC just summarily fired Pat Buchanan (months after the fact) as an occasional commentator, for having expressed controversial race-related views they didn't like in a book that he had written -- views that had nothing to do with anything he ever said on air.  And they also went out and hired a well known racial-baiter and scam artist, Al Sharpton of Tawana Brawley fame, and gave him a show of his own!

So what is Steve Almond's conclusion in his latest piece?

That he should "go cold turkey on conservative wing nuts and instead take up the hard work of genuine political action," whatever that is!  Is he running for something? Sure sounds like it! Whatever!

After Tuesday, Almond's Op-Ed also looks suspiciously to me like one of several "states of denial" that liberals and progressives will just have to go through along the road to November.

And that will be when the real denial will commence!

Just imagine! In the final run-up to the 2012 election, with Mitt Romney ahead in the polls, Alec Baldwin might even threaten to move to France . . . and then backtrack, and say that he really meant Canada.

Oh wait!

Sunday, June 03, 2012

06/03/2012 -- No explanation needed . . . from Conservative Daily News, here.