People who say it cannot be done should not interrupt those who are doing it. Welcome to From On High.

Monday, July 25, 2005

McCain's Madness Set In Motion

In case you haven't heard about the latest outrage to come out of Senator John McCain's (R-CNN) efforts to stifle free speech through "campaign finance reform," let me link here to a saga playing out in a Washington state courtroom.

A judge in Thurston County has ruled that discussions taking place on local talk radio should be considered "in-kind contributions that must be reported to the Public Disclosure Commission." In other words, the broadcasting of one's opinion on the radio, in this case for repeal of a gasoline tax, is now considered a political contribution. A dollar value on that opinion, according to the court, must be assigned by the campaign organization formed to repeal the tax.

John McCain must be pleased as punch.

Well, if an overt effort to influence public opinion through the articulation of one's viewpoint - in the old days, we called it politics - represents a campaign contribution, what is this suck-up piece to Virginia Governor Mark Warner found on the editorial page of the New York Times this morning worth?

Look To Virginia, Not China

Instead of trying to turn back time, politicians in Washington should be following the very good example being set by Gov. Mark Warner of Virginia. Seeking to stem the job hemorrhage in rural southern Virginia as the region's textile plants were shuttered, Mr. Warner started creating one-stop worker-assistance storefronts in depressed rural towns in 2002. Beyond helping laid-off workers navigate the maze of federal trade adjustment assistance and unemployment checks, Mr. Warner backed a program to help workers without a high school diploma get a G.E.D. in 90 days or less. He put up incentive money to attract Nascar engine builders to the region. Indeed, the area's love for Nascar has been harnessed: state-sponsored ads tout the G.E.D. program at Nascar races.

So far, about 20,000 workers have gone through some aspect of the program, at one of the 131 centers in the state, Mr. Warner's aides say. The unemployment rate in one of the hardest-hit towns, Martinsville, was still a whopping 10.4 percent in May, but it was 15.7 percent in January 2002, when the program started. (link)

Without getting too involved in the substance of the Warner campaign ad itself, (a 90 day GED is the answer to our disappearing manufacturing base in Southside Virginia?), let it be understood that this editorial, a transparent effort to promote the likely presidential candidacy of Mark Warner, by the standards set in a Thurston County, Washington courtroom, is a campaign donation and must be declared by the Warner for President campaign - when it is formed.

John McCain would probably nod and say this makes perfect sense. But McCain has proven himself to often have difficulty drawing distinctions between reality and delusion.

For the sane people out there, does anyone find this bizarre besides me?

So It's Come To This

Listening to Supreme Court justices as they give speeches or participate in interviews (yes, I occasionally enjoy such odd diversions), reveals their total detachment from the real world. I had the opportunity to catch a recording of a discussion that had taken place not long ago with Antonin Scalia, Sandra Day O'Connor, and John Paul Stevens about some rather arcane matters relating to the court and its place in society. I was struck by how far removed these people - particularly O'Connor and Stevens - are from ... us.

Some would argue that this is how it should be; that the Supremes should remain distant from our every day happenstance and focus on the Constitution and the law.

I would argue that their insular existence leads to such abominations as Kelo v City of New London, in which a majority of the court ruled that a municipality could lawfully seize private property if it was determined that that property had some communal purpose, not public use as had been the understanding of the court (and the people who wrote the Constitution) for 180 years. Any purpose if it could be shown that the community benefitted from the seizure.

The ruling sent shockwaves through the country. What many quickly realized is that nobody's property is safe. Anybody's home could be seized if the local government has a purpose for it.

Well, it looks like a number of citizens are about to inject the Supreme Court with a dose of reality. The message should resonate especially well in Justice David Souter's household.

This appeared in the Washington Post this morning:
For Souter, Seizure Ruling May Hit Home
By Beverley Wang, Associated Press

WEARE, N.H., July 24 -- Near the foot of an unmarked, dead-end dirt road sits a humble, mud-colored farmhouse more than 200 years old. A sign on the mailbox reads "SOUTER."

Some folks want to make that "Hotel Souter."

People from across the country are joining a campaign to seize Supreme Court Justice David H. Souter's farmhouse to build a luxury hotel, according to the man who suggested it after Souter joined the majority that sided with New London, Conn., in a decision favoring government seizure of private property.

"We would act just as these cities have been acting in seizing properties. We would give Souter the same sort of deal," said Logan Darrow Clements of Los Angeles. A rival proposal from townspeople would turn Souter's land into a park commemorating the Constitution. (link)
It's a shame it had to come to this.

But people like David Souter need to be made to understand the fact that the awesome power that they wield has consequences. Human consequences.

I find the effort to seize and bulldoze Souter's home distasteful. But necessary.

It's time Souter and Stevens and Breyer and Ginsburg - and Roberts - understand who's in charge here and how we have decided - over the last 200 years - how we are going to govern ourselves. And it's not going to be by judicial fiat.

So I say seize David Souter's home and turn it into a brothel. Souter's Whorehouse. That would, believe it or not, meet the standard set by none other than David Souter.