Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Judge Baker Squanders More Judicial Branch Credibility With Marriage Ruling

I see that Federal Judge Kristine Baker has struck down Arkansas' amendment to define marriage as the union of one man and one woman.   She did so on the basis of the claim that  to"deny consenting adult same-sex couples their fundamental right to marry in violation of the Due Process Clause and the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution."

Don’t think that I am an enemy of the judicial branch or contemptuous of the law. The truth is just the opposite. It is my love for our system of government, with checks and balances and high-minded concepts like Due Process, which makes me so incensed at their cheapening. We are headed for tough times in this nation. It will not be my doing, I am only foretelling. We are going to need a judicial branch that has credibility and moral authority to help hold our society together in the coming hard times. 
That is why I object so strongly to doctrinaire leftists squandering the credibility of the judiciary by making ill-informed decisions such as the one Judge Baker just imposed on the people of this state, though to her credit she stayed implementation of her ruling pending an appeal.

Before I explain why she (like most recent courts) are using a new, novel, and erroneous, definition of the terms "equal protection" and "due process", let me point out something about the 14th amendment.   It is a mess. It turns most of the Bill of Rights on its head by putting the feds in charge of the states when the Bill of Rights were originally given to limit the federal government's power over the states.  But even then the judges are not using it right, because they often simply ignore the last clause "The Congress shall have power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article."

So you see judges are not supposed to use this amendment to manufacture new and novel "rights" out of thin air on the basis of the 14th, because the amendment itself says that the Congress, not the courts, have the power to enforce the provisions of the article.   Congress has passed no law mandating state recognition of homosexual "marriages".   If Congress has done anything to speak to the issue, it has done the reverse.  It has tried to say that for federal purposes marriage was the union of one man and one woman.  Yet perversely, the courts have thrown that law out too, on the basis of what they (judges) feel the 14th says despite the clear language of the article that any enforcement of the article must come from legislation passed by Congress.

But even if that provision did not exist, she would still be getting it wrong because she gets "Due Process" and "Equal Protection" wrong.  By "wrong" I mean she uses the new meanings of the term that judges have created for themselves to leverage their power and destroy self-government rather than the traditional definitions back when judicial restraint was more appreciated and practiced.

Let’s start with “Due Process”. In our system, everyone is entitled to it, but what is it? In the traditional view it means that agents of the government must act within the law when they enforce the law. For example, if they search your home without probable cause and without a warrant, they have violated your Due Process rights. The same goes if the arresting agents attempt to beat a confession out of you. If you are not allowed access to legal council when they try you, they have violated your Due Process rights. If they attempt to convict you of a felony without giving you the right to a trial by jury, they have violated your Due Process rights. 

In each of these cases, the point of Due Process is to make agents of the government follow their own laws when meting out justice. This view of Due Process is the traditional one, but radical activist judges have expanded judicial power by claiming that “Due Process” can be used to void the substance of laws, not simply validate the procedures used to enforce them. 

If I could give a more concrete example, suppose there was no law in Arkansas against driving while under the influence of alcohol. The people corrected this by passing such a law via ballot amendment. If the law said that police can arrest people and assign them 30 days in jail without bail and without seeing a judge, then this procedural aspect of the law would be a violation of Due Process. If throwing that provision out was all Baker did, that would be good, its how judges are supposed to protect us. But that is not what she has done. What she has done is the equivalent of saying that the people do not have a right to determine who can drive on public roads based on their behavior. It’s like claiming that people have a fundamental right to drive even if they drink up, shoot up, or snort up. It further claims that this “right” trumps the rights of any of the rest of us to try and protect ourselves and others by putting up legal barriers to behavior we have good reason to suspect will cause damage to innocents. 

The very term “Due Process” makes it clear that it is the procedures used by government agents that judges are authorized to rule on, not the substance of what the law determines is legal or illegal. 

Words mean things. "Equal" means something. It means "of the same value". Two men having sex may be "equivalent" to a man and a woman having sex, but it is not "equal". Two people shacking up together does not have the same social value as two people who have committed to one another before God and Man in marriage. Claiming that those two things are “equal”, that is, of equal value, devalues that choice which is really of greater value by pretending that it is not. Thus a logical case can be made that treating co-habitation as equal to marriage unjustly de-values marriage. Equal protection should not mean that all choices are equal, just that the law will protect even people who make disfavored choices or belong to disfavored groups.

Equal protection means just that, protection. It has nothing to do with what activities the law condemns. It has everything to do with the government protecting the victims of crimes by punishing those who victimized them. If crimes against blacks or gays were not investigated, or prosecuted, then they don't have equal protection. They should, that is what Equal Protection is all about.

For that matter, even drug dealers and muggers should be protected by the law. If someone just decided to blow them away because “they were criminals anyway” the law would take offense. And it should take offense because even those whose behavior is in disfavor in one area still have the right to Equal Protection under the law. As applied to this case, it does not mean that the People don’t have the authority to decide what we want to honor and recognize as a valid marriage. 

So in summary, Due Process is not a blank check for activist judges to throw out the substance of laws passed by the People. Rather it means that agents of the government should follow their own laws in enforcing the law. Equal protection does not mean that the law must treat all choices, marriage, co-habitation, necrophilia, drug-use, etc…., as equal as regards to eligibility to adopt children. It simply means that that the law should protect disfavored groups equally, even while the People retain the right to make certain choices and activities illegal or legally disfavored.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

More Musings on the Nature of the Trinity

For more detail about one God as a higher-ordering being resolving the paradox of the Trinity please see my previous post on the nature of the Trinity.

I had written earlier about how man is made in God's image so that what we have in a body (and mind), soul (emotions and basic desires) and a spirit (a life force which animates and connects the two, and values connection to the Divine) are mere shadows of God's version of these features, so that with Him each of these things is a complete personality, separate in will but united in Nature.  In fact the root word for "image" where it says in Genesis Chapter 1 that man was made in God's "image" is the word for "shadow".

Man is a "flattened" version of the original.   You might imagine us as two-dimensional representations of what was three dimensional.   The features you see on the image won't be as complete, won't have all of the same texture and capabilities, as the 3D original.    The soul of Man is a flattened (and now unfortunately marred by sin) image of who God the Father is.  Our body and LOGOS, the reasoning principle of the mind is a flattened image (again marred by sin) of God the Son, who can be in absolute service to the Father because His emotions and intentions are all Holy (since ours are not, our reason is often at war with our intentions and emotions).  Our desire to connect with others, especially the perfect fellowship of the Divine, on the deepest levels, is a flattened image of God the Spirit.   It is opposed by our Flesh, which wants to turn the focus away from such fellowship and subordinate it to other appetites.  Since God has no Sin Nature, He has no counterpart to our Flesh.  All of His appetites are subordinated, or I should say in perfect agreement with, those of the Spirit- the desire for perfect fellowship is pre-eminent.

Muslims sometimes say that Christians worship three Gods.   This is of course not true.   Our dispute with them is not over the number of Gods, but the nature of God.   He is a higher-order being than we are.  We are mere shadows or images of what He truly is, and the parts of the image must necessarily have less depth and texture as their corresponding parts on an original expressed in more dimensions.  Note this does not apply when an image is made of an image.  That is, when the Bible says someone had a son "in their image" the loss of texture and dimension argument does not apply because you are making an image of an image (no dimensionality is lost) whereas when God made man that was creating an image of an original (dimensionality was lost).  

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

The Herd Closes Ranks in Garland County

I had written earlier about how activists in Garland County were trying a magnificent experiment- they were reverting to self-government!  Instead of accepting whatever candidates they are offered from either half of the one party with two-faces (and here) that has so mismanaged the country, they picked their own candidates.   Then they helped them get on the ballot as independents.   One of those candidates went down to defeat, but the other, Mike McCormack, is in a run-off with Republican Fred Hawthorne for Sheriff of Garland County.

McCormack is the former Chief of Police for the city of Hot Springs, by far the largest in Garland County.   Hawthorne is a corporal in the Sheriff's Department.   While both seem to be good men, qualification gap in the two is as wide as the Grand Canyon.  McCormick is running on his qualifications.  Hawthorne seems to be putting his chips on herd-identification.

Look at that list of Republican office holders who have endorsed Hawthorne.  Tom Cotton, Bruce Westerman, Asa Hutchinson, Tim Griffin, Leslie Rutledge, Dennis Milligan, John Thurston, and then some local ones.  Maybe he used their names without permission.  That is not all that unlikely considering Hawthorne ran an ad in the paper right before voting began that claimed he had a poll showing him with 68% of the vote.  His actual vote was 43%,

Why did the Hawthorne campaign spend good money to propagate this falsehood about his support levels?  There is a certain weak-minded segment of the voters who will vote for whoever they perceive is winning.  These people are losers, a drag on good government, who somehow feel that  it will make them into "winners" if they vote for the one who wins.  In what looks to be an effort to fool such herd-thinkers, Hawthorne ran an ad claiming he levels of support over 50% greater than the support he actually had.

If those candidates did give permission for their names to be used, then it is pretty clear what their priorities are.  It would mean that each would rather their political tribe win one local election than see the citizens of Garland County have a well-qualified Sheriff.  That's party over principle, and party over people even.  At least people outside their clique.  

This is the problem with party spirit.  It can't admit the truth.  It forces even the good ones to take up for the bad ones.   That is why it is so morally corrosive.  Not only can they not admit to the simple fact that McCormick is the better candidate, the worse their candidate is relative to the competition, the harder they must work to prop him up.   You don't see the good candidates for Sheriff around the state advertise the list of state-wide and federal politicians who endorse them.  They can stand on their own feet.  When one can't, the party rallies to support them, and thus actively works against good government.

I hope that the citizens of Garland county can see past "celebrity endorsements" from just-elected politicians who have done nothing for them, representing the interests of a political party which has done nothing for them, and simply vote for the best candidate on the ballot regardless of labels.   I applaud the activists in Garland county who decided to try reverting to self-government.  We at Neighbors of Arkansas believe there should be more of us who are sick of the way the two parties are destroying America (or if you like, one destroys America and the other pretends to be the opposition to it but never really does anything about it) and are willing to do something about it.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

How Arkansas Senate Republicans Can Avoid Enraging Their Base, Even With Dismang as Pro Tem

I am not sure that the Republican party is even interested in pleasing their base anymore.   Though professional excuse-makers try to spin it, there is now there is plenty of evidence to suggest they are merely the controlled opposition for one pro-government party which has two faces, even if not all of their officeholders are in on the deception.

The Arkansas Senate is a good example of the profound disrespect the Republican political class routinely displays for those who fought hardest to put them in office.   The message of not only the base but the people of Arkansas generally, was that they rejected the Democrats and they rejected Obamacare. This includes the so-called "Private" option endorsed and funded by the majority of Republican Senators in 2012.

The "Private" option (which is not even really private, it just has private entities benefiting from a government program) is nothing other than the exact method by which the Republicans in Arkansas caved to the Democrats on Obamacare. Pro-"private" option Republicans were rejected by the voters in election after election.   In spite of this, the Republican State Senators are about to march down to Little Rock and vote for one of the architects of the Republican cave on Obamacare as the President Pro Tem of the Senate.

Johnathan Dismang was elected the designated President Pro Tem by the previous Republican Senate- one which had five more pro-"private" option Senators than the current Senate does after the voters did some house-cleaning.   Back then the choices were Dismang and Johnny Key, who was also for Obamacare.   The new crop of senators are mostly acting like they are somehow bound by the actions of the prior, more liberal, Senate in their choice of leader.

Conservative Senators Gary Stubblefield has tried to mount a challenge to this odd choice, but he can't seem to get enough votes. Even some of the more conservative holdovers are acting like they vowed to back Dismang no matter what last year, instead of just selecting him in preference to the other choice at the time- someone who made even more bad calls than he did.

If Dismang had changed, these Senators might be able to argue that they could keep their word to the voters to oppose the "Private" option version of Obamacare even while voting him in as President Pro Tem, but there is little evidence to suggest he has and much to suggest that he has not.   This excellent piece by Conduit for Action explains some of the particulars on that, both in the House and the Senate.

So far I have just outlined the problem.  That is always the easy part.  Fortunately a solution is also available, should the Republicans have any interest whatsoever in pleasing their base, listening to the message the people as a whole just sent at the polls, or even simply keeping their oaths of office.   You see, Dismang is about to be elected to the office of "President Pro Tem" of the Senate.  The "tem" is Latin for "acting" or "temporary".   This raises the question, who is supposed to be "President Pro Permanent"?

According to the Constitution of the Great State of Arkansas, the Lieutenant Governor is to be the President of the Senate.   When Arkansas was a one-party state and that party was the Democrats who tend to a herd mentality even more than the Republicans that did not matter so much. It was all "good ole-boy" stuff so it did not matter how power was divided on paper.  Then Mike Huckabee got elected Lt. Governor and the Democrats changed the rules of the Senate so that the Lt. Governor was stripped of almost all of his power.  If Huckabee had been interested in hanging around as Lt. Governor he might have challenged them on it, but since he was angling on being Governor soon anyway there was no motive for him to press the question.

Other states, such as Texas, have very similar wording in their state constitutions as to the role of the Lt. Governor and in those states the office is very powerful, some would say the most powerful in the state except for Governor.  The difference is not in the wording of the Constitutions, it is that in Texas and other states they follow their state constitution on this question and in Arkansas we have not.   Then our chattering classes in the media make snide remarks about how "useless" the office is.  Well, yes I suppose any office would be "useless" if the legislature made an extra-constitutional move which had the effect of stripping away its most important function, but that does not mean the office is worthless, it means the legislature is derelict.

Our state at one time thought it important that at least one chamber of the legislature be presided over by a person who answered to all of the people of the state, not just a single legislative district.  That is why we need a Lt.Governor.   We saw what happened in the House last year, when Davy Carter went crazy and tried to make the house vote on the exact same bill, day after day until they gave him the vote that he wanted.   I was disgusted by it, but he was not "my" legislator and did not answer to me.  At least one chamber of the legislature should be run by someone who answers to the whole state, and that is what the Lt. Governor is for.

It is interesting to note that some senators have talked of sponsoring a bill that would ask people to vote to abolish the office of Lt. Governor.  And with Amendment three passing (using deceptive language that it would "establish" term limits when it was in fact greatly weakening them) Dismang could wind up as President Pro Tem not for one or two sessions, but for many years.  My position is that a man who wants that much power should have to answer to the whole state, not just one Senate district.

Look, I am not a Tim Griffin fan, to put it mildly.  People who read my stuff know that, but this is not about my personal preferences, this is about the Rule of Law.  The fact is he is Lt. Governor and the Constitution says that the Lt. Governor is the President of the Senate.   He ran on the idea that the Lt. Governor is President of the Senate.  He should be making all of the decisions that the "President Pro Tem" has been making in our recent history, including who chairs what committee.

All of those Senators who won't back Stubblefield over Dismang because they  "gave their word" that they would vote Dismang for Pro Tem can still vote Dismang for Pro Tem, but if they want to also "keep their word" to the voters to oppose the "private" option and uphold their oath to the state Constitution then they should do two more things.  They should vote to repeal the rules the Senate put in after Huckabee was elected which stripped the Lt. Governor of power the state constitution says he should have and replace those rules with ones that comport with what the Constitution says.   Then they should call up Griffin and ask him to get to work.

Amendment 6, section five of the Arkansas Constitution reads...

5. Qualifications and duties of Lieutenant Governor - Succession to the governorship.
The Lieutenant Governor shall possess the same qualifications of eligibility for the office as the
Governor. He shall be President of the Senate, but shall have only a casting vote therein in case
of a tie vote.

In Robert's Rules of Order as they were at the time, it was typical that the Chairman or whoever was presiding over a voting body only vote in the case of a tie.

Tuesday, November 04, 2014

Rush an Excuse-Making Machine for the Controlled Opposition

 'The best way to control the opposition is to lead it ourselves.'- Lenin

Rush Limbaugh got on the radio today and said that the Republicans might get a mandate tonight, but he is not sure that they even want one.   I don't think they do either.  He also asked "a mandate to do what" since they have no message and have not said what they would do differently if they win.

The answer to that one is obvious, though Rush Limbaugh did not say it and most Americans are in denial about it anyway.  They would not do anything differently.  Nor have they done anything differently in decades.  Name one major policy difference between G.W. Bush and Barack Obama.  There is none.  Even "Obamacare", the expansion of socialized medicine, was just Bush's Medicare Part D program writ large.   Bush expanded socialized medicine more than anyone since LBJ and Romney developed the template that Obamacare was based on.  Those running both parties want the same thing.  The Republican Establishment does not want to stop Obama.  They share many of his goals, so long as their friends are sufficiently cut in on the loot.   

We have one party with two faces.  Once you accept that, what before was confusing becomes clear.  The one party wants to expand government, because government has become a looting machine for the insiders.  The bigger it gets the more loot it generates.   So the one face of the party has one side that expands government, and the other face pretends to be opposed to them.  They are the controlled opposition.  They don't exist to stop the other face of the party, they are there to absorb the energy and commitment of the people who want to stop it.  They do so in order to control those people, lest their energy and desires become a part of a movement which really wants to do what they only pretend to do.

Of course not all members of the controlled opposition are aware of what they really are, otherwise it would not work.  The ones that are not in on the ruse are attacked mercilessly by the "leadership" of their own party if they ever make a moves that threatens to seriously slow down the looting machine from its smooth operation and constant expansion.    The leadership of both faces of the One party get along with each other much better than they do the outsiders- those not privy to the fraud- in their own party.

Rush Limbaugh keeps saying things about the Republicans like "they seem afraid to boldly express conservative ideas."   That is pathetic excuse making.   They are not afraid of expressing those ideas, they don't agree with those ideas.  They have a distaste for espousing them.   He says things like "we just don't have anybody who is articulate in defending conservatism like the left has."  Do you think out of a Congress and Senate half made of Republicans they could not find one articulate person?   The excuses are absurd.  They are only thrown out there so Americans can keep denying the reality that there is only one party in Washington.

If the Republic is going to be salvaged, people who right now are trying desperately not to see the truth about this subject are going to have to find the courage to face it.   Then they are going to have to look around and find others who have also done so and start the real work of selecting and electing candidates locally.  They are going to have to actually revert to self-government instead of continuing to outsource the job of selecting their leaders and guarding their interests to these thieves in Washington.