The Simulacrum of Self-Government
We might as well put the Constitution out of its misery.
Wednesday, June 26, 2013 — just another day in a constitutional republic of limited government by citizen representatives:
First thing in the morning, Gregory Roseman, Deputy Director of Acquisitions (whatever that means), became the second IRS official to take the Fifth Amendment, after he was questioned about awarding the largest contract in IRS history, totaling some half a billion dollars, to his close friend Braulio Castillo, who qualified under a federal “set aside” program favoring disadvantaged groups — in this case, disabled veterans. For the purposes of federal contracting, Mr. Castillo is a “disabled veteran” because he twisted his ankle during a football game at the U.S. Military Academy prep school 27 years ago. How he overcame this crippling disability to win a half-billion-dollar IRS contract is the heartwarming stuff of an inspiring Lifetime TV movie
Later in the day, Senator John Hoeven, Republican of North Dakota and alleged author of the Corker-Hoeven amendment to the immigration bill, went on Hugh Hewitt’s radio show and, in a remarkable interview, revealed to the world that he had absolutely no idea what was in the legislation he “wrote.” Rachel Jeantel, the endearingly disastrous star witness at the George Zimmerman trial, excused her inability to comprehend the letter she’d supposedly written to Trayvon Martin’s parents on the grounds that “I don’t read cursive.” Senator Hoeven doesn’t read legislative. For example, Section 5(b)(1):
Not later than 180 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Secretary shall establish a strategy, to be known as the ‘Southern Border Fencing Strategy’ . . .
On the other hand, Section 5(b)(5):
Notwithstanding paragraph (1), nothing in this subsection shall require the Secretary to install fencing . . .
Asked to reconcile these two paragraphs, Senator Hoeven explained that, “when I read through that with my lawyer,” the guy said relax, don’t worry about it. (I paraphrase, but barely.) So Senator Hoeven and 67 other senators went ahead the following day and approved the usual bazillion-page we-have-to-pass-it-to-find-out-what’s-in-it omnibus bill, cooked up in the backrooms, released late on a Friday afternoon and passed in nothing flat after Harry Reid decreed there’s no need for further debate — not that anything recognizable to any genuine legislature as “debate” ever occurs in “the world’s greatest deliberative body.”
Say what you like about George III, but the Tea Act was about tea. The so-called comprehensive immigration reform is so comprehensive it includes special deals for Nevada casinos and the recategorization of the Alaskan fish-processing industry as a “cultural exchange” program, because the more leaping salmon we have the harder it is for Mexicans to get across the Bering Strait. While we’re bringing millions of Undocumented-Americans “out of the shadows,” why don’t we try bringing Washington’s decadent and diseased law-making out of the shadows?
Just when you thought the day couldn’t get any more momentous, the Supreme Court weighed in on same-sex marriage. When less advanced societies wish to introduce gay marriage, the people’s elected representatives assemble in parliament and pass a law. That’s how they did it in the Netherlands, Belgium, Spain, Norway, Sweden, Portugal, etc. But one shudders to contemplate what would result were the legislative class to attempt “comprehensive marriage reform,” complete with tax breaks for Maine lobstermen’s au pairs and the hiring of 20,000 new IRS agents to verify business expenses for page boys from disparate-impact groups. So instead it fell to five out of nine judges, which means it fell to Anthony Kennedy, because he’s the guy who swings both ways. Thus, Supreme Intergalactic Emperor Anthony gets to decide the issue for 300 million people.
As Spider-Man’s Uncle Ben so famously says in every remake, with great power comes great responsibility. Having assumed the power to redefine a societal institution that predates the United States by thousands of years, Emperor Tony the All-Wise had the responsibility at least to work up the semblance of a legal argument. Instead, he struck down the Defense of Marriage Act on the grounds that those responsible for it were motivated by an “improper animus” against a “politically unpopular group” they wished to “disparage,” “demean,” and “humiliate” as “unworthy.” What stump-toothed knuckle-dragging inbred swamp-dwellers from which hellish Bible Belt redoubt would do such a thing? Well, fortunately, we have their names on the record: The DOMA legislators who were driven by their need to “harm” gay people include notorious homophobe Democrats Chuck Schumer, Pat Leahy, Harry Reid, Joe Biden, and the virulent anti-gay hater who signed it into law, Bill Clinton.
It’s good to have President Clinton’s animus against gays finally exposed by Anthony Kennedy. There’s a famous photograph of him taken round the time he signed DOMA, at a big fundraiser wearing that black-tie-and-wing-collar combo that always made him look like the maître d’ at a 19th-century bordello. He’s receiving greetings from celebrity couple Ellen DeGeneres and Anne Heche, who’d come out as gay the week before and, in the first flush of romance, can’t keep their hands off each other even with President Happy Pants trying to get a piece of the action. For a man motivated only by a hateful need to harm gays, he’s doing a grand job of covering it up, looking like the guy who decided to splash out for the two-girl special on the last night of the sales convention. Nevertheless, reacting to the Supreme Court’s decision, President Clinton professed himself delighted to have been struck down as a homophobe.
In his dissent, Justice Scalia wrote that “to defend traditional marriage is not to condemn, demean, or humiliate those who would prefer other arrangements, any more than to defend the Constitution of the United States is to condemn, demean, or humiliate other constitutions.” Indeed. With this judgment, America’s constitutional court demeans and humiliates only its own. Of all the local variations through which same-sex marriage has been legalized in the last decade, mostly legislative (France, Iceland) but occasionally judicial (Canada, South Africa), the United States is unique in its inability to jump on the Western world’s bandwagon du jour without first declaring its current vice president, president pro tem of the Senate, majority leader, chairman of the Senate Rules Committee, and prospective first First Gentleman raging gay-bashers. As the Paula Deens of orientation, maybe they should all be canceled.There is something deeply weird, not to say grubby and dishonest, about this. In its imputation of motive to those who disagree with it, this opinion is more disreputable than Roe v. Wade — and with potentially unbounded application. To return to the immigration bill, and all its assurances that those amnestied will “go to the end of the line” and have to wait longer for full-blown green cards and longer still for citizenship, do you seriously think any of that hooey will survive its first encounter with a federal judge? In much of the Southwest, you’d have jurisdictions with a majority of Hispanic residents living under an elderly, disproportionately white voting roll. You can cut-and-paste Kennedy’s guff about “improper animus” toward “a group of people” straight into the first immigration appeal, and a thousand more. And that’s supposing the administrative agencies pay any attention to the “safeguards” in the first place.
As I say, just another day in the life of the republic: a corrupt bureaucracy dispensing federal gravy to favored clients; a pseudo-legislature passing bills unread by the people’s representatives and uncomprehended by the men who claim to have written them; and a co-regency of jurists torturing an 18th-century document in order to justify what other countries are at least honest enough to recognize as an unprecedented novelty. Whether or not, per Scalia, we should “condemn” the United States Constitution, it might be time to put the poor wee thing out of its misery.