Category Archives: LIVING CONSTITUTION

On Constitution Day, Leftists assault the Constitution

For most of America, September 17 was “Constitution Day.”  For progressives, it was a day to launch a multi-pronged assault on the Constitution.

On September, 17, 1787, the delegates to the Philadelphia Convention signed their finished product, the Constitution, and released it to the states to consider for ratification. It would be a year before eleven states ratified the Constitution, passing it into law, and three years before all thirteen states ratified the Constitution. It would be four years before the states ratified ten of the first twelve proposed Amendments to the Constitution, creating the Bill of Rights.  Regardless, it is the 17th of September that we commemorate as “Constitution Day.”

But not the progressive left.  To the extent they spent any time at all referencing the Constitution this past week, it was to attack it.  Call it “Un-Constitutional Day,” if you will. The most direct attack was an attack on originalism — the truism that the Constitution must be interpreted as closely as possible to its commonly understood meaning on the day it was signed in 1787.  Next, the Left, through its house organ, the New York Times, launched an attack on due process, with Democratic candidates for President calling for  Supreme Court Justice Kavanaugh’s head.  And the last attack, without doubt the most dangerous in the near term, was a renewed call in the New York Times to pack the Supreme Court with progressive ideologues.

An Attack on Originalism.

At The Hill, a progressive lawyer, Kim Wehle, argues that “Justice Gorsuch is wrong — ‘originalist’ judges make stuff up too.”  What is she talking about?

Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch recently authored a book, the title of which, A Republic, if you can keep it, is from a famous Ben Franklin quote.  At the end of the 1787 Constitutional Convention, Franklin, who was justly famous for his wit and brevity, was asked what type of government the men at the Convention had created.  Franklin replied “A Republic, if you can keep it.”

What Franklin meant was that, in the words of Prof. Richard Beeman, “democratic republics are not merely founded upon the consent of the people, they are also absolutely dependent upon the active and informed involvement of the people for their continued good health.”  Not surprisingly, Gorsuch’s book deals with his judicial philosophy of originalism as the Foundation of our Republic and the threat that progressives’ “living Constitution” obscenity poses to our Republican form of government.

Two paragraphs from Wiki (citations and links omitted) do a good job of summing up the issue and presaging Gorsuch’s recent book:

In a 2016 speech at Case Western Reserve University, Gorsuch said that judges should strive to apply the law as it is, focusing backward, not forward, and looking to text, structure, and history to decide what a reasonable reader at the time of the events in question would have understood the law to be—not to decide cases based on their own moral convictions or the policy consequences they believe might serve society best.

In a 2005 article published by National Review, Gorsuch argued that “American liberals have become addicted to the courtroom, relying on judges and lawyers rather than elected leaders and the ballot box, as the primary means of effecting their social agenda” and that they are “failing to reach out and persuade the public”. Gorsuch wrote that, in doing so, American liberals are circumventing the democratic process on issues like gay marriage, school vouchers, and assisted suicide, and this has led to a compromised judiciary, which is no longer independent. Gorsuch wrote that American liberals’ “overweening addiction” to using the courts for social debate is “bad for the nation and bad for the judiciary”.

It’s not clear whether Kim Wehle deliberately or from lack of acumen fails to understand this principle. What is clear is that, on Constitution Day, she claimed that the living Constitution philosophy is no worse than Gorsuch’s originialism because originalist judges also “make stuff up” as they go along — just as, she fully admits, progressive judges do.  That is a calumny.  Writes Wehle:

Accordingly, Gorsuch reportedly tells his law clerks: “‘Rule No. 1: Don’t make stuff up,’” and “‘when people beg, and say, ‘Oh, the consequences are so important,’ and when they say, ‘You’re a terrible, terrible, terrible person if you don’t,’ just refer back to Rule No. 1. And we’ll be fine.’”

Here’s the problem: The implicit suggestion that the law and the Constitution are black and white — and that all that honorable judges need to do is apply its plain language and move on — is a myth.

That is a horse manure statement of the issue.  No one, not least of all an originalist, claims that the law is black and white.  Teasing out the most likely meaning of a clause, a sentence, or a paragraph as the Founders drafted it and as the people who voted upon it understood it is not easy and, by the nature of the evidence relied upon, subject to a range of interpretations.

It helps the originalists that the Founders left us a fair number of clues about what they thought and intended. In addition to focusing on the words themselves, as those words were understood at the time and as were voted upon at the Convention and then as finalized by the Committee of Style, jurists can look to a few contemporaneous sources who describe the debates at the Constitutional Convention.  They can also read what people wrote after the Convention but before ratification, such as the Federalist Papers and the Anti-Federalist Papers, which argue about the provisions and their meanings.   There were debates in the state conventions. And lastly, there is the entire sum of historical events that were known to the Drafters and the people of the era and that we can assume had an impact on the way in which they drafted the Constitution, whether they mention these events or not.

The key to this “range of interpretations,” though, is that every one of them is anchored firmly in the history and soil of the American colonies in 1787.  This history ensures that an originalist change has a limited range of permissible interpretations beyond which he may not go. Even within those parameters, the judge is further limited by the mandate that he choose which interpretation is most accurate, not which his conscience finds most desirable. That is not, as Ms. Wehle claims, “making stuff up.”  And indeed, it often means that originalist judges will in good conscience disagree.  As Ilya Shapiro recently opined at the USA Today, “Liberal Supreme Court justices vote in lockstep, not the conservative justices.”

The example Ms. Wehle uses to portray originalism’s alleged bankruptcy is bizarre, for it stands for the opposite proposition.  Wehle focuses on Scalia’s opinion in a case almost two decades old. In that case, Scalia wrote that the Fourth Amendment requires that police show probable cause and obtain a warrant before using a thermal imaging device to observe a home for the excessive heat that home-grown marijuana generates. As Wehle points out, thermal imaging did not exist in 1787. Through that statement, she apparently thinks she’s proving that Scalia was of necessity “making stuff up.”  Horse manure.

What the Supreme Court Justices are being paid to do is tease out the bedrock principles of the Founders and apply those to new situations, including new technology, which is precisely what Scalia did.  The Fourth Amendment requires probable cause to search a private home.  Whether they conduct that search physically, by breaking down a door, or without physical intrusion, using new technology, the core principal behind the 4th Amendment still applies.  It is still a search requiring that police act with probable cause.

What Ms. Wehle is arguing for is policy-based jurisprudence with unelected, life-term Supreme Court Justices acting as a politburo, imposing their own policy choices as Constitutional law..  She wants judges to ” put their policy goals on the table for the rest of us to see and evaluate.”  This is an outright assault on the Constitution.  Justices on the Supreme Court have one power under the Constitution.  Per Article III, Section I, they hold “the judicial power.”   The power of imposing “policy goals” on this nation has nothing to do with the judicial power.  Imposing policy goals is solely the province of the Congress which, under Article I, Section I of the Constitution has “all legislative power.”  At least unless Ms. Wehle and other progressives win their slow motion coup to permanently bend the Judiciary, and with it the very Constitution, to their will.

The Attack On Due Process

The Democrats turned the Kavanaugh Hearings, the goal of which was to determine his fitness for the Supreme Court, into an utter travesty when, at the twelfth hour, they made public unfounded charges that Kavanaugh had engaged in sexual batteries in high school and college.  It was, as to Kavanaugh, the same as the Russian collusion charges were to Trump — false allegations made at the last minute to forestall due process and to drum up a public outcry that would keep these two out of power or to weaken and delegitimize them so they could not fairly exercise power.

While due process of law is a foundation of our nation, its antecedents predate our Constitution by a millennium at least.  The Magna Carta of 1215 famously makes references to due process, although even did not invent “due process” but, instead, acknowledged its pervasive existence at law in England and stated that King John could not suspend it. The words “due process” are shorthand for all of those systems and processes we have developed over a millennium — from probable cause to search and arrest to jury trials to appeals to actions of habeus corpus — to ensure that, whenever the state uses its police power, it will do so with reliable fairness.

Due process is an answer to the ancient question, quis custodiet ipsos custodes – “who watches the watcher?”  Our Constitution answered that question in the political realm with checks and balances and in the legal realm with “due process.”   The latter is our way of making sure that multiple people — and, to the maximum extent possible, these people should have no bias as to the particular case — have to examine facts to determine a person’s guilt before the state can take that person’s life, liberty or property.

Due process of law is so fundamental to a republican form of government that a republic cannot exist without it.  If a government is free to exercise its power without the check of due process, then, by definition, you have a tyranny, even if it has not reached the tyrannical extremes of, say, North Korea.  Our English forebears recognized a tyranny when they saw one and waded through a river of blood, in multiple rebellions and civil wars, from the First Baron’s War in 1215 to the Glorious Revolution of 1688, to ensconce the right to due process of law as one of their rights against government.  Today, we call a government operating without due process of law a police state, a fascist state, a dictatorship, or a socialist utopia.

What the above means is that it should be a disqualifying event if someone seeking power in our government comes out in favor of punishment without due process of law. And yet here we are, during the weekend before Constitution Day 2019, with the NYT yet again raising unproven allegations against Brett Kavanaugh, hiding highly relevant information bearing on his innocence, and Democratic candidates for President reflexively calling for Kavanaugh to be removed from the bench.

Kavanaugh’s true crime is that he is an originalist, and the left does not need due process to establish that.  As to actual crimes, no need for due process when false allegations and a howling mob will do the job of limiting Kavanaugh’s right to life, liberty and property.  The Constitution be damned.

Packing the Court

If the Constitution limits the Supreme Court to exercising judicial power then — as was the case until the middle of the 20th century — then its makeup should not cause major controversy.  As progressives seized power in America, that changed, because they understood that they could expand their legislative reach by shaping a judiciary that intruded in the legislative sphere and, even better, exercised without check the People’s Article V power to amend the Constitution. Thanks to progressive policies, the Supreme Court became, not the least dangerous branch of government, as forecast by Alexander Hamilton in the Federalist Papers No. 78, but the most dangerous branch, which progressives routinely used to circumvent and subvert the ballot box and the Constitution itself.  This is why the Court’s composition went from non-controversial to the most important political question in America.  The progressives even gave us a new verb for this activism — “borking,” which describes progressive politicians assassinating originalist judges. Notably, in this lead-up to Election 2020, when Joe Biden is still considered the Democrat favorite, it was Joe Biden and Ted Kennedy who originated borking when they killed Judge Robert Bork’s nomination.

For the last century, a left-leaning Supreme Court has systematically and methodically changed our nation’s fundamental nature. They have removed Christianity from the public square, found a hidden right to abortion, expanded the regulatory state, approved disparate impact theory, authorized gay marriage, and given us a whole host of other decisions that, in ways both large and small, have gone beyond jurisprudence and, instead, fashioned new laws and amended the Constitution — acts beyond the Court’s powers, both statutory and Constitutional.  Indeed, for the past century, the Supreme Court has been the single most important tool that progressives have wielded.  In part, that was because Democrats regularly appointed hard left progressives to the bench whenever the opportunity arose.  In part it was because, all too often, Republican-appointed jurists often took a hard left turn once on the bench.

Regarding that last point about Republican-appointed judges, there’s even a name for it: the Greenhouse effect. Thomas Sowell posited this effect have noting the way in which squishy conservative jurists, all of whom came from a social milieu in which the New York Times was tantamount to the word of God, seemed to shape their opinions to please Linda Greenhouse, the NYT reporter assigned to the Supreme Court beat.

Thankfully, Republicans have finally learned that appointing any ostensible “conservative” to the bench, if that person lacks solid originalist credentials (e.g., John Paul Stevens or Anthony “Gay Rights” Kennedy), will almost certainly lead to disaster.  These people people inevitably begin to use their power to ensconce the New York Times‘ preferred policies rather than to interpret the Constitution.  No one knows that better than conservatives in 2019.

Through the Supreme Court’s century-long shift to hard Left activism, conservatives kept playing by the rules. Now, though, the real possibility exists that five originalists may end up on the Supreme Court. This means that the Court will interpret the Constitution as written, ending the era of progressive “judicial legislation.”  Rather than copying conservatives, who meekly acquiesced to the bastardization of the Constitution, progressives, faced with a return to Constitutional values, have announced that we need to change those rules.

More than a few progressives have floated a plan to pack the Supreme Court with progressive judges if the Supreme Court ever becomes staffed with five originalists.  This is a raw play for permanent political ascendancy.  The latest on Constitution Day came from professional race hustler and New York Times opinion columnist (but I repeat myself) Jamelle Bouie, who writes “Mad About Kavanaugh and Gorsuch? The Best Way to Get Even Is to Pack the Court.”

Kevin Williamson responds at NRO:

Bouie is a habitually sloppy thinker and writer, and here falls into two of the most common modes of partisan hackery. The first is the argument that his party must “play hardball” . . . lest the bad guys on the other team write their partisan “ideological preferences into the constitutional order.” . . . Bouie here is engaged in the New York Times version of shrieking “But they started it!” as a justification for playground misbehavior. Republicans don’t think they started it — not where judges are concerned, anyway. They think Joe Biden and Ted Kennedy started it in October 1987 with the smearing of Robert Bork, which permanently changed the character of Supreme Court confirmation hearings.

Bouie foreswears an intention of trying to “make the courts a vehicle for progressive policy,” and, of course, he does this as he writes of the ways and reasons for making the courts a vehicle for progressive policy. And here is the second common mode of partisan hackery: The belief that one’s own ideological preferences are not ideological preferences at all but self-evident moral truths. This belief can be held either insincerely (and cynically) or sincerely (and stupidly). For Bouie, it seems to be a bit of both.

The point of packing the courts, he writes, is “to make sure elected majorities can govern,” and he cites Supreme Court checks on the grander ambitions of Franklin Roosevelt and Progressive Era as examples of the Court frustrating the those “elected majorities.” He goes on to celebrate Roosevelt’s bullying the Court into submission like some tinpot caudillo. Roosevelt was unable to follow through with packing the Court, but the gambit, Bouie writes, “had the desired effect,” i.e. terrorizing the Court into giving the Roosevelt administration a freer hand. . . .

Do read the entire article.  It is an excellent fisking of Bouie’s ramblings, though to be fair to Bouie, he is not innovating in idiocy.  He is merely parroting run-of-the-mill progressive thinking, which is thoroughly ignorant of the Constitutional design on one hand and totalitarian on the other.

Williamson goes on to point out that the Constitution is in fact designed to thwart what he calls majoritarian rule — i.e., democracy.  Our Founders feared and detested democracy as the worst of governing models.  James Madison, the Father of the Constitution, was a man who was steeped in world history. With this background, he wrote of democracy in Federalist No. 10:

A pure Democracy, . . . can admit of no cure for the mischiefs of faction. A common passion or interest will, in almost every case, be felt by a majority of the whole; a communication and concert result from the form of Government itself; and there is nothing to check the inducements to sacrifice the weaker party, or an obnoxious individual. Hence it is, that such Democracies have ever been spectacles of turbulence and contention; have ever been found incompatible with personal security, or the rights of property; and have in general been as short in their lives, as they have been violent in their deaths. . . .

What the progressives propose is dangerous stuff.  Attempting to pack the Supreme Court to establish permanent progressive dominance in our nation would be an invitation to a second civil war.  That’s a Hell of a way to celebrate Constitution Day 2019, eh?

But in truth, this all didn’t just start in the past week.  The Progressive Left has engaged in sustained attack against the Constitution since President Woodrow Wilson obscenely declared the Constitution unworkable and inapplicable to the modern world.  Wilson believed that experts, working without any constraints, should rule America. In other words, he envisioned our modern regulatory bureaucracy.  The problem for progressives is that, in the early 20th century and today, far fewer than the two-thirds of Americans needed to amend the Constitution agree with them.  Wilson and the progressives therefore invented “the living Constitution” — the theory holding that the Constitution can be reinterpreted to mean anything that five justices, carefully selected for their progressive ideological purity, want it to mean.  With this background, modern progressives’s reaction to Constitution Day 2019 was just par for the course.

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California turned this Democrat into a conservative

My California upbringing shows that people will cling to ideas long after the facts reveal those ideas are flawed — a scary thought for the 2020 election.

I grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area, one of America’s bluest of blue regions; attended UC Berkeley, which once was the standard-bearer for campus Leftism, although others have caught up; and lived in and, for many years, practiced law in San Francisco. If politics were a marinade, I would have been marinated in the stuff for decades and would be blue through and through.

Instead, my life experiences gave me a deep and abiding distrust for and disgust with Leftism. To the extent that our American states are laboratories of democracy, California proves everything that is wrong with Leftism.

Growing up, Leftism meant tolerating the Haight Ashbury invasion. After the pretty summer of love, filled with rainbows, rock, and half-dressed young women in gauzy shirts ended, what remained were the ancestors of today’s homeless: drugged out people lying in their own filth, destroying public property, and committing crimes. Back then, the poop map ran the distance of Haight Street, with Golden Gate Park thrown in for good measure. Even though San Francisco was less lenient than it is today about homeless behaviors, the City government still allowed the hippies ridiculous leeway when it came to engaging in uncivilized public behavior. But I was still a Democrat.

My public schools were on the cutting edge of each crazy idea that was emanating from teaching colleges, in which Leftism was becoming ascendant. I didn’t learn math because we were being taught some crazy variant of Base 6 math. (Go figure.) I was lucky to be a natural-born reader, because phonics — the thing that makes reading incredibly easy to master in English — were already being phased out in favor of “whole word” teaching. Teachers were also warned not to children who misspelled words lest it harm the children’s self-esteem. These ideas blossomed nationwide in the 1980s, but were already creeping into San Francisco classrooms almost 20 years earlier. Having failed there, they were ready to take on the nation. But I was still a Democrat.

My public schools also featured a handful of gifted teachers, a decent population of good to average teachers, and a small, but completely stable population of horrible teachers, many of whom were also horrible human beings. There was the science teacher who said of a Jewish student, “There’s another one Hitler should have gotten.” There was the math teacher who would periodically insult students as “Future pimps and whores.” There was the English teacher famous for having sex with male students, which bothered us in those days only because she gave them a pass for bad work. There were the teachers counting the days to retirement and a pension who couldn’t be bothered with teaching at all. (I had a lot of those.) The common denominator was that, thanks to government unions, none of these people could be fired and, with the exception of the science teacher — who finally got himself kicked out of the classroom for throwing a movie projector out of the window (although he apparently still collected his salary for years) — all of them continued to teach generations of students. But I was still a Democrat.

Berkeley. Ah, Berkeley! The last dregs of the hippies hanging out in their own urine or vomit while begging on campus or on Telegraph Avenue. People celebrating the day that Ronald Reagan got shot. Pre-modern history being taught through a Marxist lens which is, when you think about it, quite an amazing intellectual contortion. And a constant thread of hostility to America and reverence for the Soviet Union permeating the air…. But I was still a Democrat.

After law school, which I attended in a blue city that was in a red state, I returned to California. For several decades, I routinely made legal arguments before Leftist judges. These were judges who said, “I don’t care what the law is; I think there’s something here;” judges who reluctantly ruled in favor of a bank, only to warn the bank’s counsel, “There’s more than one way to skin a cat;” judges who literally read with their lips moving as they reluctantly came to terms with the fact that discovery statutes sometimes protected defendants. I learned to loath judges because, at least when it came to the ones before whom I practiced, the law was too often irrelevant to them. If the parties were similarly situated in terms of social stature or economic power, the law applied; but if you represented a corporation or a rich individual, most judges before whom I practiced would engage in amazing contortions to rule against your client. Back in those days, I hadn’t heard the terms “living Constitution” or “strict constructionist,” but I knew that, subject to a few notable exceptions, Bay Area judges were not interested in administering the law; they were all about administering their personal version of “justice.” (We’d call it social justice today.) But I was still a Democrat.

Meanwhile, in the 1970s, I’d watched Carter make a hash of America’s economy and foreign policy. I’d seen the economic “malaise,” the “killer rabbits,” the “lust for the Polish people.” I’d watched the Iran Revolution and the hostage crisis, and I’d seen Carter’s simmering hostility to Israel. But I was still a Democrat.

In the 1980s, I watched the Reagan economic miracle. I watched the resurgence of American pride. I saw Reagan, Thatcher, and John Paul III reaffirm classic principles of liberalism and, by doing so, begin chipping away at the Soviet monolith, exposing its rotten foundations. I saw the Soviet Union fall and the Berlin Wall get quite literally dismantled. But I was still a Democrat.

In both the 1970s and the 1980s, I watched as our welfare system grew and grew and, as it grew, I watched it provide truly perverse incentives to people. The worst was the way in which women were economically rewarded for having children out-of-wedlock. I understood that this behavior led to more illegitimate children, more children without any loving male presence in their lives, more children in poverty, and more children who turned to prostitution and crime as they matured. I knew that the pathologies in the black community weren’t because blacks were defective, but were because the government was paying blacks to live have defective lives. But I was still a Democrat.

My politics only started to shift in the late 1990s, not because I’d grasped that all the things I hated about California arose from Leftist principles, but because NPR was lying about Israel. That was my initial cognitive dissonance. The cognitive dissonance worsened after 9/11, when were told Islam had nothing to do with it or people such as Michael Moore likened the terrorists (who slaughtered innocents and whose goal was the subjugation of the world to sharia law, complete with sexual enslavement, second class citizenship, slavery, or death for “non-believers,” especially Jews, and the whole panoply of medieval punishments) to America’s own revolutionaries, who fought for individual liberty. (And yes, 18th C women didn’t have rights and the South had slaves, but the principles the revolutionaries advanced were inherently good and they paved the way for emancipation, women’s rights, gay rights, etc.)

After almost 40 years, I finally realized that I was no longer a Democrat. It was a shocking and uncomfortable realization. After all, I knew, or thought I knew, that Democrats are good and Republicans are evil. Was I now no longer good? Was I now evil?

I eventually decided that I was still good. My goals were still the goals that Democrats always loudly espoused during my early years: True equality before the law for all people, the diminution of tribal hatreds between different cultures and races in America, a thriving economy, strong national security, friendship with Israel (our ally in the Middle East during the waning days of the Cold War and the only true democratic republic in the region), etc. (Obviously, the Democrats no longer espouse many of these goals.) What I finally figured out was that the way to achieve these ends was through conservative means. Intentionally or not, Democrat means invariably achieved the opposite of those goals.

Although I am no longer a Democrat, California continues to provide example after example of failures in Leftist policies. It is a hardcore Democrat state that preserves its mandate through the corrupt practice of “ballot harvesting.” It needs this corruption because reality (which I’ll discuss more below), eventually catches up with totalitarian ideologies and people can then be kept in line only through brute force and corruption.

California sees itself a political leader in the fight against “income inequality,” yet it has one of the most unequal economic systems in America. In the coastal cities, where people make money from products sold outside of America (e.g., Hollywood and Silicon Valley), you have hard Left bazillionaires. In their hard Left cities, you have tens of thousands of homeless people living in squalor. San Francisco once known for the Golden Gate Bridge, Chinatown, and Fisherman’s wharf, is now the poop capital of America, as well as the car crime capital. Los Angeles is seeing typhus and other very scary infectious diseases making a comeback. In the San Francisco Bay Area, real estate, whether owned or rented, is no longer affordable, so twenty- and thirty-somethings now make a virtue of returning to dorm-style living because it’s all that they can afford.

Were a medieval person to be transported through time to land in one of California’s coastal communities, that person would undoubtedly be confounded by modern technology. However, he would recognize instantly the vast economic chasm between the aristocracy and the masses. Every medieval city had its walled enclaves for the wealthy and the rest of the city, where people lived in filth, disease, and despair.

Travel inland in California and the wealth vanishes. All that’s left is economic despair. The outbreaks of poverty that one sees in the cities — homelessness, diseases, filth — are taking hold in the large inland communities (Bakersfield, Fresno, Sacramento), while the smaller communities are plagued by crime and disrepair. One only has to read Victor Davis Hanson’s elegies to the community that’s been home to his family for generations to understand how the Blue enclaves’ wealth doesn’t reach the rest of California even as, unfortunately, the Blue enclaves’ political ideas do reach those areas . . . and destroy them too.

Meanwhile, as its native-born or legally immigrated citizens despair, California encourages the endless flow of illegal immigrants from Latin America (with unknown numbers of Islamic terrorists sheltering among the crowd). By doing so, California Democrats, who are all about “women’s rights,” encourage unchecked sex trafficking. And California Democrats, who always claim that their policies are “for the children,” encourage coyotes to traffic in children as a way of exploiting America’s laws on behalf of illegal immigrant “families.” And California Democrats, who are all about lifting up America’s minorities, flood American minority communities with people who compete for jobs and bring in crime.

Apropos that crime, it’s completely irrelevant if some left-wing think tanks’ produce statistics “proving” that these illegal immigrants as a whole are less likely to run afoul of the law. Even if only one American is murdered at the hands of an illegal immigrant, that murder is one murder too many. It should never have happened. In every case in which an illegal alien commits a crime, the “but for” cause of that crime was Democrats’ cultivation of illegal immigration. In other words, but for Democrats’ desperation to bring in illegal Latin American immigrants, a teenager might not have been hacked to death by MS-13 gangsters or a mother of four might not have been killed by a hit-and-run, drunk, illegal immigrant driver.

If there ever was an indictment of Democrat policies, California is it. The problem, though, is that we live in the version of an old joke. You know the joke, don’t you? It’s the one that has a whose wife caught him red-handed in a compromising situation.  Rather than apologizing, he demanded of her, “Who are you going to believe? Me or your lying eyes?” Even as California’s laboratory of democracy shows that every Leftist policy, when given play, creates social collapse and economic destruction, America’s Leftists, both inside and outside of California, repeatedly ask, “Who are you, the voters, going to believe? The Democrat Party or your lying eyes?”

Tragically, it’s a question that works. It took me 40 years to break free of that question, especially because the subtext was, “If you believe me, you’re good. If you believe your lying eyes, you’ve sworn fealty to the Devil.’

As conservatives like to say, reality always wins . . . but it can take a long, long time. Look at Naomi Wolf, who is rightly being ridiculed for her failure to research one of the core premises of her most recent book.

Naomi assumed that the phrase “death recorded” in suits involving homosexual activity meant that, in Victorian England, scores of gay men were being executed. She didn’t question that assumption, and certainly didn’t bother to do research to confirm her believe, because the assumption jived with her reality — Christians kill gays. Had Naomi questioned her assumptions, she would have discovered, as the man interviewing her did, that (a) “death recorded” was a way of saying that the death sentence was not carried out and (b) that many of those she believed were arrested for homosexual activity were, in fact, arrested for pedophilia, rape, or assault, all with a homosexual angle.

So yes, reality did finally catch up with Naomi . . . but not before she successfully occupied the public stage for decades. It took this type of embarrassing debacle for people to realize that her scholarship has always been shoddy and ought never to have been used as a basis for anything at all.

I hope that the average American is smarter than I am and that reality catches up with that average American in time for the 2020 election. Scott Adams is not sanguine. He believes that the new masters of the universe — the social media titans, working in conjunction with the major media — will warp reality so completely that Trump will not have a snowball’s chance in Hell of winning in 2020. I sincerely hope Adams is completely, off-the-wall wrong with this one.

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California turned this Democrat into a conservative

My California upbringing shows that people will cling to ideas long after the facts reveal those ideas are flawed — a scary thought for the 2020 election.

I grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area, one of America’s bluest of blue regions; attended UC Berkeley, which once was the standard-bearer for campus Leftism, although others have caught up; and lived in and, for many years, practiced law in San Francisco. If politics were a marinade, I would have been marinated in the stuff for decades and would be blue through and through.

Instead, my life experiences gave me a deep and abiding distrust for and disgust with Leftism. To the extent that our American states are laboratories of democracy, California proves everything that is wrong with Leftism.

Growing up, Leftism meant tolerating the Haight Ashbury invasion. After the pretty summer of love, filled with rainbows, rock, and half-dressed young women in gauzy shirts ended, what remained were the ancestors of today’s homeless: drugged out people lying in their own filth, destroying public property, and committing crimes. Back then, the poop map ran the distance of Haight Street, with Golden Gate Park thrown in for good measure. Even though San Francisco was less lenient than it is today about homeless behaviors, the City government still allowed the hippies ridiculous leeway when it came to engaging in uncivilized public behavior. But I was still a Democrat.

My public schools were on the cutting edge of each crazy idea that was emanating from teaching colleges, in which Leftism was becoming ascendant. I didn’t learn math because we were being taught some crazy variant of Base 6 math. (Go figure.) I was lucky to be a natural-born reader, because phonics — the thing that makes reading incredibly easy to master in English — were already being phased out in favor of “whole word” teaching. Teachers were also warned not to children who misspelled words lest it harm the children’s self-esteem. These ideas blossomed nationwide in the 1980s, but were already creeping into San Francisco classrooms almost 20 years earlier. Having failed there, they were ready to take on the nation. But I was still a Democrat.

My public schools also featured a handful of gifted teachers, a decent population of good to average teachers, and a small, but completely stable population of horrible teachers, many of whom were also horrible human beings. There was the science teacher who said of a Jewish student, “There’s another one Hitler should have gotten.” There was the math teacher who would periodically insult students as “Future pimps and whores.” There was the English teacher famous for having sex with male students, which bothered us in those days only because she gave them a pass for bad work. There were the teachers counting the days to retirement and a pension who couldn’t be bothered with teaching at all. (I had a lot of those.) The common denominator was that, thanks to government unions, none of these people could be fired and, with the exception of the science teacher — who finally got himself kicked out of the classroom for throwing a movie projector out of the window (although he apparently still collected his salary for years) — all of them continued to teach generations of students. But I was still a Democrat.

Berkeley. Ah, Berkeley! The last dregs of the hippies hanging out in their own urine or vomit while begging on campus or on Telegraph Avenue. People celebrating the day that Ronald Reagan got shot. Pre-modern history being taught through a Marxist lens which is, when you think about it, quite an amazing intellectual contortion. And a constant thread of hostility to America and reverence for the Soviet Union permeating the air…. But I was still a Democrat.

After law school, which I attended in a blue city that was in a red state, I returned to California. For several decades, I routinely made legal arguments before Leftist judges. These were judges who said, “I don’t care what the law is; I think there’s something here;” judges who reluctantly ruled in favor of a bank, only to warn the bank’s counsel, “There’s more than one way to skin a cat;” judges who literally read with their lips moving as they reluctantly came to terms with the fact that discovery statutes sometimes protected defendants. I learned to loath judges because, at least when it came to the ones before whom I practiced, the law was too often irrelevant to them. If the parties were similarly situated in terms of social stature or economic power, the law applied; but if you represented a corporation or a rich individual, most judges before whom I practiced would engage in amazing contortions to rule against your client. Back in those days, I hadn’t heard the terms “living Constitution” or “strict constructionist,” but I knew that, subject to a few notable exceptions, Bay Area judges were not interested in administering the law; they were all about administering their personal version of “justice.” (We’d call it social justice today.) But I was still a Democrat.

Meanwhile, in the 1970s, I’d watched Carter make a hash of America’s economy and foreign policy. I’d seen the economic “malaise,” the “killer rabbits,” the “lust for the Polish people.” I’d watched the Iran Revolution and the hostage crisis, and I’d seen Carter’s simmering hostility to Israel. But I was still a Democrat.

In the 1980s, I watched the Reagan economic miracle. I watched the resurgence of American pride. I saw Reagan, Thatcher, and John Paul III reaffirm classic principles of liberalism and, by doing so, begin chipping away at the Soviet monolith, exposing its rotten foundations. I saw the Soviet Union fall and the Berlin Wall get quite literally dismantled. But I was still a Democrat.

In both the 1970s and the 1980s, I watched as our welfare system grew and grew and, as it grew, I watched it provide truly perverse incentives to people. The worst was the way in which women were economically rewarded for having children out-of-wedlock. I understood that this behavior led to more illegitimate children, more children without any loving male presence in their lives, more children in poverty, and more children who turned to prostitution and crime as they matured. I knew that the pathologies in the black community weren’t because blacks were defective, but were because the government was paying blacks to live have defective lives. But I was still a Democrat.

My politics only started to shift in the late 1990s, not because I’d grasped that all the things I hated about California arose from Leftist principles, but because NPR was lying about Israel. That was my initial cognitive dissonance. The cognitive dissonance worsened after 9/11, when were told Islam had nothing to do with it or people such as Michael Moore likened the terrorists (who slaughtered innocents and whose goal was the subjugation of the world to sharia law, complete with sexual enslavement, second class citizenship, slavery, or death for “non-believers,” especially Jews, and the whole panoply of medieval punishments) to America’s own revolutionaries, who fought for individual liberty. (And yes, 18th C women didn’t have rights and the South had slaves, but the principles the revolutionaries advanced were inherently good and they paved the way for emancipation, women’s rights, gay rights, etc.)

After almost 40 years, I finally realized that I was no longer a Democrat. It was a shocking and uncomfortable realization. After all, I knew, or thought I knew, that Democrats are good and Republicans are evil. Was I now no longer good? Was I now evil?

I eventually decided that I was still good. My goals were still the goals that Democrats always loudly espoused during my early years: True equality before the law for all people, the diminution of tribal hatreds between different cultures and races in America, a thriving economy, strong national security, friendship with Israel (our ally in the Middle East during the waning days of the Cold War and the only true democratic republic in the region), etc. (Obviously, the Democrats no longer espouse many of these goals.) What I finally figured out was that the way to achieve these ends was through conservative means. Intentionally or not, Democrat means invariably achieved the opposite of those goals.

Although I am no longer a Democrat, California continues to provide example after example of failures in Leftist policies. It is a hardcore Democrat state that preserves its mandate through the corrupt practice of “ballot harvesting.” It needs this corruption because reality (which I’ll discuss more below), eventually catches up with totalitarian ideologies and people can then be kept in line only through brute force and corruption.

California sees itself a political leader in the fight against “income inequality,” yet it has one of the most unequal economic systems in America. In the coastal cities, where people make money from products sold outside of America (e.g., Hollywood and Silicon Valley), you have hard Left bazillionaires. In their hard Left cities, you have tens of thousands of homeless people living in squalor. San Francisco once known for the Golden Gate Bridge, Chinatown, and Fisherman’s wharf, is now the poop capital of America, as well as the car crime capital. Los Angeles is seeing typhus and other very scary infectious diseases making a comeback. In the San Francisco Bay Area, real estate, whether owned or rented, is no longer affordable, so twenty- and thirty-somethings now make a virtue of returning to dorm-style living because it’s all that they can afford.

Were a medieval person to be transported through time to land in one of California’s coastal communities, that person would undoubtedly be confounded by modern technology. However, he would recognize instantly the vast economic chasm between the aristocracy and the masses. Every medieval city had its walled enclaves for the wealthy and the rest of the city, where people lived in filth, disease, and despair.

Travel inland in California and the wealth vanishes. All that’s left is economic despair. The outbreaks of poverty that one sees in the cities — homelessness, diseases, filth — are taking hold in the large inland communities (Bakersfield, Fresno, Sacramento), while the smaller communities are plagued by crime and disrepair. One only has to read Victor Davis Hanson’s elegies to the community that’s been home to his family for generations to understand how the Blue enclaves’ wealth doesn’t reach the rest of California even as, unfortunately, the Blue enclaves’ political ideas do reach those areas . . . and destroy them too.

Meanwhile, as its native-born or legally immigrated citizens despair, California encourages the endless flow of illegal immigrants from Latin America (with unknown numbers of Islamic terrorists sheltering among the crowd). By doing so, California Democrats, who are all about “women’s rights,” encourage unchecked sex trafficking. And California Democrats, who always claim that their policies are “for the children,” encourage coyotes to traffic in children as a way of exploiting America’s laws on behalf of illegal immigrant “families.” And California Democrats, who are all about lifting up America’s minorities, flood American minority communities with people who compete for jobs and bring in crime.

Apropos that crime, it’s completely irrelevant if some left-wing think tanks’ produce statistics “proving” that these illegal immigrants as a whole are less likely to run afoul of the law. Even if only one American is murdered at the hands of an illegal immigrant, that murder is one murder too many. It should never have happened. In every case in which an illegal alien commits a crime, the “but for” cause of that crime was Democrats’ cultivation of illegal immigration. In other words, but for Democrats’ desperation to bring in illegal Latin American immigrants, a teenager might not have been hacked to death by MS-13 gangsters or a mother of four might not have been killed by a hit-and-run, drunk, illegal immigrant driver.

If there ever was an indictment of Democrat policies, California is it. The problem, though, is that we live in the version of an old joke. You know the joke, don’t you? It’s the one that has a whose wife caught him red-handed in a compromising situation.  Rather than apologizing, he demanded of her, “Who are you going to believe? Me or your lying eyes?” Even as California’s laboratory of democracy shows that every Leftist policy, when given play, creates social collapse and economic destruction, America’s Leftists, both inside and outside of California, repeatedly ask, “Who are you, the voters, going to believe? The Democrat Party or your lying eyes?”

Tragically, it’s a question that works. It took me 40 years to break free of that question, especially because the subtext was, “If you believe me, you’re good. If you believe your lying eyes, you’ve sworn fealty to the Devil.’

As conservatives like to say, reality always wins . . . but it can take a long, long time. Look at Naomi Wolf, who is rightly being ridiculed for her failure to research one of the core premises of her most recent book.

Naomi assumed that the phrase “death recorded” in suits involving homosexual activity meant that, in Victorian England, scores of gay men were being executed. She didn’t question that assumption, and certainly didn’t bother to do research to confirm her believe, because the assumption jived with her reality — Christians kill gays. Had Naomi questioned her assumptions, she would have discovered, as the man interviewing her did, that (a) “death recorded” was a way of saying that the death sentence was not carried out and (b) that many of those she believed were arrested for homosexual activity were, in fact, arrested for pedophilia, rape, or assault, all with a homosexual angle.

So yes, reality did finally catch up with Naomi . . . but not before she successfully occupied the public stage for decades. It took this type of embarrassing debacle for people to realize that her scholarship has always been shoddy and ought never to have been used as a basis for anything at all.

I hope that the average American is smarter than I am and that reality catches up with that average American in time for the 2020 election. Scott Adams is not sanguine. He believes that the new masters of the universe — the social media titans, working in conjunction with the major media — will warp reality so completely that Trump will not have a snowball’s chance in Hell of winning in 2020. I sincerely hope Adams is completely, off-the-wall wrong with this one.

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