Archive for July, 2010

Weekly update

Got done with the Bar exam late Thursday afternoon. It was a bit rough. I suspect that I probably survived, but it is too early to tell for sure. Now I have at least a couple months before I can start practicing law, and if it turns out that I failed, then it’s more like nine months.

Anyway, I am now attempting to recover, I guess.

As I was coming home from the first day of the exam, I heard about the federal district court’s decision about the new anti-illegal immigrant law in Arizona. (An anti-illegal law, how radical!) I cannot understand how those Leftist lawyers or that judge can take themselves seriously whatsoever after making the absurd argument that states are not allowed to enforce federal laws. One of the first things you learn in law school in Civil Procedure I is that there are certain instances where a party has no choice but to ask states to enforce federal law. For example, if I print an accurate newspaper article against the mayor and he sues me in state court for defamation, I am not allowed to remove the case to federal court merely because my defense (freedom of speech) is based on federal law. Rather, I must pray for state intervention in protecting my federal rights. (If someone from your own town sues you for a state claim, the federal courts do not have jurisdiction to hear the case merely because you assert a federal defense.)

Anyway, that was just something that came to mind when I heard about that stupid case and the result against Arizona. Now imagine that after I have asserted my First Amendment right to freedom of speech (in state court), the federal Justice Department walks into the courtroom and says, “No, sorry, it’s our job to enforce that federal law. Your Honor, you’re gonna have to just strike Drew’s First Amendment defense because he’s trying to interfer with our discretion about enforcing federal rules. This court is part of the state and it may not interfere. You’re just gonna have to give the mayor a default judgment against Drew.”

At least in my mind, what Obama is doing is basically that stupid. It’s hard for me to imagine that he will win on appeal.

Remembering the purpose of government

In the CNN opinion piece “Sarah Palin likes government too,” an author expresses a lack of understanding regarding the conservative support for the military. Specifically, he takes note of Palin’s recent comments to Tea Partiers that we should not let our disdain for government extend to military expenditures. To weak minds, apparently the conservative pro-military view represents some sort of contradiction:

Palin’s speech touched on a historic problem for the conservative movement. Ever since conservatives embraced a hawkish stance toward national security policy in the early Cold War in the late 1940s and started to challenge Democrats for not being tough enough, national security has always been the poison pill for anti-government conservatism.

Despite all their rhetoric about the dangers of government intervention and the virtues of private markets, conservatives have rather consistently supported an expansion of the government when it comes to national security.

Quick question: Aside from merely accepting tax dollars, does the military intervene in the private market? No.

Early on in American history, some libertarians like Thomas Jefferson opposed the existence of a strong military. Then what happened? Our sailors got attacked by the French. Our civilians were murdered or captured by Barbary Pirates. Our colonies got raided by various Indian tribes. Our sailors were kidnapped by the British while they tried to cut off our trade with continental Europe. Our country was ultimately invaded, and the White House burned to the ground. Conceivably, we might have lost our independence altogether. That is where libertarian thinking leads.

Conservatives and libertarians are not the same thing. Libertarians are fools, whereas conservatives are wise.

Romans 13:3-7

For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and he will commend you. For he is God’s servant to do you good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword for nothing. He is God’s servant, an agent of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also because of conscience. This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, who give their full time to governing. Give everyone what you owe him: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor.

THIS IS WHY YOU PAY TAXES. We do not pay taxes for the purpose of subsidizing medicine for the lazy or even for the less fortunate. We do not pay taxes to protect ourselves from our unwillingness to invest in retirement by having the government forcibly take money from us and throw it into an account that earns virtually zero interest and periodically gets robbed by politicians. We do not pay taxes to fund abortions, or to give handouts to foreigners who invade our country. No, we pay taxes TO BRING WRATH ON THE WRONGDOERS. We pay taxes to help God PUNISH WICKEDNESS. If President Obama would start doing that, I would honor him. Since he instead furthers the cause of wickedness, I condemn him.

The “libertarians” who forget this purpose of government are merely reacting emotionally against the one evil they know to be wrong, which is socialist tyranny. And then, lacking any proper intellectual foundation for their rebellion, they go overboard and rebel against everything good in the process. They thereby demonstrate their foolishness, promoting open borders and zero national defense and legal drugs and free abortion and homosexualized families and whatever else. Then they make the rest of us look bad, as if opposition to socialist tyranny necessarily implied a support for all the garbage as well.

But for the most part, the taxpayers who are trying to revolt against the leftist Democrat agenda understand these principles either intellectually or instinctively. The Tea Partiers do not object to all tax expenditures. They object to waste, and to illegitimate expenditures. From what I can tell, they are by and large conservatives, not libertarians. These accusations about “The Tea Partiers like government, too” are just asinine.

Destroy the monstrosities!

Given the somewhat authoritarian nature of government in Franklin, Tennessee, part of me wonders why they have not yet established traffic cameras. Granted, we do not need traffic cameras by any stretch of the imagination; you can barely drive a single mile in Franklin without coming across another cop. These noble enforcers of the public good are always fighting in opposition to serious crimes against humanity, such as speeding beyond the thirty-five-mph limits or staying in an intersection for an extra second after a light change. But anyway, for whatever reason, fortunately people in Franklin have been wise enough to reject the monstrosities that are traffic cameras…so far, at least.

It does not take a rocket scientist to figure out that a red light camera is most likely to capture the individuals who barely miss the light but who are not a serious threat to public safety. If a driver perpendicular to me stays in the intersection a second or two extra, it might annoy me a little, but there is basically zero chance of my accelerating and running into him and getting into an accident. Conversely, if someone is so drunk or otherwise oblivious to the traffic light that they plow through a redlight at top speed and into a car, there is little likelihood that a red light camera would have focused their attention.

Meanwhile, there have been plenty of studies showing that red light cameras increase accidents. In one anecdotal case,

Typical Tacoma traffic– which means that there was a large truck forgetting what the lines are for, and more people on the road than I like– and the light changed faster than I expected; not on-a-dime stop, but definitely make-a-joke-about-how-the-breaks work quick.  Have maybe a second to look at Kit, asleep, in the rear view, realize that the pickup that had been beside/behind the truck is still moving a bit fast, and…. *rockrockrockrock*  Not a huge impact, but I could hear glass crack.

. . . .

Cruddy accident, he’s liable but, frankly, the fault lies in the @#$@# idiot in the refrigerator truck and the stoplight cameras. [emphasis added]

These monstrosities make driving a bane when it might overwise be a pleasure. They rob citizens for the purpose of enriching government officials and private companies while pretending to uphold the nanny-state value of absolute safety on the roads. This past year the General Assembly voted down efforts to abolish or even restrict these cameras. Any politician who opposed these efforts, regardless of party affiliation, needs to be thrown from office. And any of you nanny-state supporters of tyranny who continue supporting them just make me sick.

If I practiced law around Knoxville or some other fascist police state with traffic cameras, I would be highly tempted to publicly advertise the following:  FREE LEGAL SERVICES FOR ANYONE CHARGED WITH VANDALIZING TRAFFIC CAMERAS. I would advertise that message, but the only drawback would be that such an ad might conceivably get me charged with soliciting crime. Maybe I should research that. This is all hypothetical, of course.

Independence Day

As a holiday, I don’t think the Fourth of July was meant to promote a bland, generic patriotism toward America. When I speak of bland patriotism, I am referring to the type that says we should all be nice to each other and unify merely because we are all Americans. I am referring to the patriotism that fosters support for whatever path the country tends to be going down, or for whatever the government happens to be doing. I am even referring to the generic patriotism that requires us to unite behind the troops. After all, there are already two separate holidays dedicated to the military, and Christmas and other celebrations already promote the concept of brotherhood.

Actually, I do not think the Fourth of July is even primarily about America. Rather, the holiday is meant to celebrate an ideal, the ideal of freedom. It is called INDEPENDENCE DAY for a reason. On the Fourth of July, the Founders rebelled against tyranny. In their case specifically, they were dealing with foreign tyranny — although they quickly got to work restricting domestic tyranny as well. On the foreign front today, we have politicians bowing down at the altar of internationalism. They sign and promote the ratification of various worldwide treaties that strip Americans of their rights. They depend on world approval instead of remaining independent from it. Some traitors within our own judiciary have even taken to citing foreign law in their governance over us. These internationalists should be publicly rebuked on July Fourth, because they are subverting the independence that our Founders established with God’s assistance.

Certainly, it is always good to honor the nation that, as best I can tell, still remains the greatest on earth. But we can and should do that anyway — every day, not just on one holiday. The same goes for heaping praise on brave military warriors who risk their lives.

Freedom is what the holiday is truly about. In particular, Independence Day is about freedom from foreigners — although by implication, we should claim freedom from domestic tyrants as well. So overall, while fireworks are certainly fine and fun for celebrating this holiday, I think that to really celebrate your Independence Day, you should just go out and rebel against something that needs to be rebelled against. Hold our nation’s would-be masters’ feet to the fire. At the very least, we should take this day to stop caring what the evildoers think about us. Such fear and consensus-seeking only prevent our independence. And the next time any idiot suggests that our government adopt some leftist scheme because Europe and the various third world regimes support it, just pick up a rock and throw it at that person.

To what extent can atheists be American?

Most people have heard Leftists condemn the Pledge of Allegiance as unconstitutional because it contains the phrase “Under God.” And although the Leftist argument is rather infantile, it nonetheless tends to put conservatives on the defensive. We are forced to argue that, “Well, the First Amendment does not prohibit all expressions of religion on behalf of the government,” or “No one is forced to say the Pledge, or “Even the Supreme Court building has the Ten Commandments posted on it.” These responses are all valid, of course, and other decent arguments could be made against the inane ramblings of the Left.  But the reality is that conservatives can easily take the offensive on this issue instead.

After explaining the aforementioned dilemma about the supposed need for all American public acts to be “secular,” Crude Ideas makes the following point rather beautifully.

[T]his is where many theists . . . seem ready to capitulate. Yes, though they may believe atheism to be incorrect, atheists are by and large good and moral people. A belief in God is not essential to our secular country. We are founded on secular ideals, ones all men can agree to, and God or belief in God is simply not an issue.

Popular move, as I said. . . . Here’s the problem:  It’s a lie. America was founded by Christians and deists of a particularly Christian cultural, moral, and philosophical grounding. There is no way to remove God from the equation without divorcing oneself from the ideals the country both was founded on and relies on to make sense of its identity.

By way of proof, merely consider the Declaration of Independence, our nation’s founding document. In founding the republic, the Founders claimed to be revolting from England and assuming “the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle[d] them.” They were taking advantage of their “unalienable Rights” with which they had been “endowed by their Creator.” They were “appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of [their] intentions.” They were putting their “reliance on Divine Providence” to support them in their endeavor. Could an atheist have written any of that with a straight face?

And I love how Leftists periodically try to argue that, “Well, almost all the Founding Fathers were deists.” By invoking the term “deism,” they generally mean to imply a belief in a deity who created the world but now remains absent from human affairs. But can the Leftists not read? The Founding Fathers were appealing to the “Supreme Judge” and relying on “Divine Providence”! Does that sound like an inactive first cause, or an active Deliverer? These men were theists at least, and in any case the majority were orthodox Christians.

If the ACLU had been running things in 1776, this country would never have been born.

And at this point, we can see where the libertarians tend to go so astray. Libertarians will generally argue that humans have a right to liberty and to pursue happiness, which includes the pursuit of property. But because they reject God as the source of these rights — and a source of a right is generally useful for understanding the right itself — libertarians tend to worship the rights themselves. That is why many of them tend to go so far off the deep end, supporting free drugs and such, and why many of them have become absolute anarchists. They fail to understand that the same God who gave them liberty to pursue happiness did also 1) establish government 2) to serve various moral and productive purposes.

They will argue that, “Of course I have a right to liberty and property — and that liberty means I am free to smoke heroin!” When you ask them to explain the source of that right, they will answer, “Well, no one gave the right to me….I just…HAVE it…because I’m human.” What this basically amounts to is a claim that “I have the right because I say so.” But when it comes to restricting heroin or abolishing capitalism, what happens when a government leader makes a comparable argument? What if he argues, “I have the right to socialize the medical industry…because I say so” or “…because it’s a human right”?

The informed Christian can respond, “No you don’t” and “No it isn’t.” Christians (and to varying degrees, other theists) can respond intelligently because they do not worship either “liberty” itself or merely the idea of rights. Rather, Christians worship a deity who is a source of rights, and who helps them understand their liberty in context. But as Crude points out, regarding the God-inspired commitment to liberty,

A mormon, hindu, catholic, protestant, jew, muslim, deist and theists of wide variety are in principle able to meet these original and long-lasting commitments. The atheist, the person who denies God and with Him God-given rights, cannot. It is not enough to merely be in favor of those rights personally while thinking that ultimately they’re just laws and rules society agrees upon (and then, only for now.)

Overall, an atheist can certainly be patriotic. He can be law-abiding. He can be nice, friendly, and he can even lead a relatively virtuous life. For that matter, an atheist can potentially become a conservative and embrace all the political ideals of the Founding Fathers. But even if he does all that, there is no logical backbone supporting the atheist’s actions. If he denies that we are an America “under God,” then he subtly and unintentionally negates all the values he claims to believe in. Such a denial — by anyone — can only leave us at the mercy of tyrants.