Friday, November 21, 2008

ACLU Attacks Proposition 8, California, and the Concept of Democracy

The California Supreme Court amended the state's constitution to find a right for homosexual marriage. Then the people of California used the same constitution for an initiative to define marriage in the constitution as between one man and one woman. Having lost that vote, the ACLU has attacked again, demanding that the courts again overrule the sovereign people and again force the issue on the people.

The facts for this analysis, but not the legal conclusions, come from an article in the Los Angeles Times on 6 November, 2008. California voters approved Proposition 8, placing the historical definition of marriage as consisting of one man plus one woman into the state's Constitution. Then the ACLU and several other "civil rights" groups filed suit asking California courts to throw out the new provision in the Constitution.

In addition to the Southern California ACLU, the other organizations filing three separate cases in state court are "gay rights" organizations. Interestingly, most of the articles on these cases in a Google news search are in alternative newspapers, and papers published for homosexual readers. The cases all claim that Proposition 8 was a "constitutional revision" under California law, rather than a "constitutional amendment." The former, unlike the latter, are required to go through the legislature before going to the people for a vote.

The tactic is reminiscent to Massachusetts, where the Supreme Judicial Court (the commonwealth's Supreme Court) by a one-vote margin, established the "right" to homosexual marriage by judicial fiat. Opponents then petitioned for an initiative to reassert popular control of Massachusetts marital law. However in that commonwealth, ALL initiatives go to the legislature first before the people get any chance to vote. So far, the legislature has prevented any vote on the matter in Massachusetts, where the process of court-ordered homosexual marriage began.

Through these law suits in California, those who favor homosexual marriage seek two results. The immediate one is to obtain yet another court order which throws out an initiative decision to overrule either a law or a court decision, by filing sufficient signatures and then winning the popular vote that follows. The second result is to impose an additional barrier in the initiative process, so that a legislature which is afraid of the issue will stand between the people and their right to the initiative.

The history of this issue in California shows the people approved a prior initiative which wrote into the state's law the definition of marriage as consisting of one man and one woman. The California Supreme Court, by a one-vote margin, declared that unconstitutional. Furthermore, the Court knew when it issued its decision that Proposition 8 would probably make the ballot and be up for a vote. The Court ran away from the pending decision by the sovereign voters and refused to stay the effects of its decision until after the election.

According to the article, those attacking Proposition 8 have made a policy judgment not to file any of these cases in federal court on the grounds that federal courts are less likely to accept homosexual marriage as a civil right under the federal Constitution. A bad result in the US Supreme Court would cripple the issue in all states at once.

These are the groups and interests who have brought these three cases: ACLU, the National Center for Lesbian Rights and Lambda Legal. Santa Clara County and the cities of San Francisco and Los Angeles also sued, and Los Angeles lawyer Gloria Allred filed a third suit on behalf of a married lesbian couple.

The point that many readers might logically raise is, how can a provision placed into a constitution nonetheless be unconstitutional? The quick answer is, it can't. Consider this example: long ago the Supreme Court ruled that in drawing legislative district boundaries, they must be made as close as possible to equal. The principle established was "one man, one vote." Yet the Court recognized that the variance from the largest district (state) for US Senate and the smallest was about 70 - 1. But this difference was constitutional, because the Constitution itself said so.

The tactic of the ACLU in this issue is similar to its tactics in many jurisdictions on all aspects of "homosexual rights." It is to force the issue through the courts, and keep it away from elected legislatures, and especially away from the people themselves in the initiative process.

The ACLU here, and in many other issues, is attacking the very idea of a constitution, that it means what it says until and unless it is amended legitimately. The ACLU is attacking the very concept of democratic decision-making within a constitutional government. Although the ACLU claims to be in favor of civil rights, it is opposed to the ultimate sovereignty of the people, whenever it fears that the people will make the wrong decision.

The co-chairman of the Proposition 8 campaign stated it simply and correctly in the following quote. And kudos to the L.A. Times for publishing this quote in the second paragraph, at the beginning of this article. "They go behind the people's back to the courts and try and force an agenda on the rest of society."


The Drumbeat

The drumbeat. It's always there. Day and night. Rain or shine. Winter or Summer. Sunday or Monday. It comes at you from every direction. It comes over the TV, the radio, at work, at school, in music, in the newspapers, from the politicians, in conversation with others, even in church. It wears you down. It robs you of the will to resist its message. Even short-lived victories, which stop it briefly, leave you with the knowledge that it will return; each minor victory bound to be lost to the redoubled efforts of this patient and persistent force. You can't escape it. It never stops. It never gives up. It never ends. It rains upon you from every possible angle, from every possible source.

It's the drumbeat of the left. It is political, philosophical, theological, and social. It pervades every activity. It is post-structural, post-modern, post-everything in the parlance of the day. It is tolerant, diverse, non-judgmental, non-discriminatory, egalitarian, politically correct, multicultural, globalist, and collectivist. It insists that there are no rights and wrongs, no moral absolutes. It turns everything upside down in its looking glass world. It denies the correctness of all that produced what our culture revered before the deconstruction of the world in accordance with the tenets of cultural Marxism.

It denies God, human exceptionalism, and the soul. We are reduced to Darwinian animals floundering in an amoral sea of meaninglessness. It is a product of the nihilistic, existentialist philosophical movement, which went hand in hand with modern art, atonal music, scientific materialism and modern physics, and the generally discordant nature of the twentieth century.

It is said that a fish is not aware of the water in which it swims since it is totally immersed in it. This is the way cultural Marxism is taking over our world in its inexorable Gramscian march. We swim in it. It enters every pore of our existence. It is everywhere. We can't escape it. Many people accept this world without even realizing it, just as the fish accepts the water in which it swims. They don't realize it as the left creates new conventional wisdom and new intuitions about truth.

The cultural Marxists convince us that the truth is that there is no truth. And even though this unresolvable paradox lies at the very center of all this, the constant drumbeat keeps the masses in line, anesthetized enough to not make an issue of it. Fed a constant diet of sex, drugs, poisonous pop culture, materialistic trinkets, and unkeepable promises of security provided by huge leftist government, ever more globalist in nature, the masses are diverted from realizing, as they are told there is no truth, that this claim itself is subject to the same test. It is logically impossible for the leftist drumbeat to be true by its own axioms.

The principles upon which Western culture rests and upon which America was built are under attack by these slow acting but deadly forces. The drumbeat is grinding down the will of the West to maintain itself. The ideas of individual sovereignty and responsibility, natural rights, and objective truth have been derided by the left to the point that many of our young people reject them, if, indeed, they are even aware of them as the basis for our culture. All that ensures that a culture will pass its ideas down from one generation to the next is its cultural memory. The drumbeat is slowly but surely replacing our cultural memory.

As each school is renamed and the name of a Founder or other great person from our history is removed from its entrance way, we lose a bit of that memory. As our great authors and works of Western culture are replaced with those in line with the message of the drumbeat, we rapidly lose our cultural memory. As each school textbook is rewritten to reflect the new ideas of family and cultural heritage, our children are lost to the forces of the drumbeat as they learn to view America and traditional Western culture as oppressive and imperialistic. And it doesn't take long for there to be only a shell left, the substance of our culture sucked out and destroyed by the cultural Marxists.

If you believe that all this is a paranoid overreaction, you have plenty of company. Those of us who can still see the water and hear the drumbeat are subject to attempts to make us sound evil and foolish. To believe in traditional Western cultural values, American Exceptionalism, God, and moral truth is to be branded as old fashioned and foolish, even by the best assessments of those who have bought into the cultural Marxist's message. And by the worst of them, we are branded as stupid and evil, and in need of being destroyed.

It may be too late to do anything about this as the world plays out its story. The power-hungry arrogance of human beings seems to be the force that underlies the events carrying us forward to the final chapter. And as this arrogance and lust for power feeds the wills of those who would gain control of the world, humankind is gaining just enough knowledge to destroy itself in that arrogance. Never before in human history has there been such a confluence of forces. Technology, globalism, and the leftist drumbeat are joining together in a way that is allowing mankind to believe, on a worldwide scale, that it can control its own destiny.

The main thing that is being ignored in all this is human nature. It is all based upon the arrogant presumptions of the elitist cultural Marxists concerning how people ought to act. It leads to totalitarianism and destruction.

In truth, and in direct opposition to the drumbeat, each human being must be accorded his or her natural rights, individual sovereignty, and self responsibility to be in harmony with human nature. Each of us must have the freedom to succeed or to fail. Western culture, culminating in the great American experiment, has been perverted. Due to these perversions, many failures have already occurred, which have then, ironically, been used to justify further perversions of the same sort as those which caused the problems to begin with.

Generally, these perversions are manifested in bigger government, more laws, more bureaucracy, more regulations, more taxes, and government controlled redistribution of wealth, more collectivism, less individualism, and less freedom. We all hear it constantly from leftist politicians as they add their part to the drumbeat: government must do more to ensure Americans avoid the consequences of their choices. We all know the song, sung to the cheers of the unthinking throngs who would give up their very humanity for the promise of a free lunch. These are the joys of cultural Marxism.

And the drumbeat goes on.


The Right To Win

Among the many new "rights" being conjured out of thin air, a new one seems to be a "right" to win. Americans have long had the right to put their candidates and their ideas to a vote. Now there seems to be a sense that your rights have been trampled on if you don't win.

Hillary Clinton's supporters were not merely disappointed, but outraged, when she lost the Democrats' nomination to Barack Obama. Some took it as a sign that, while racial barriers had come down, the "glass ceiling" holding down women was still in place.

Apparently, if you don't win, somebody has put up a barrier or a ceiling. The more obvious explanation of the nomination outcome was that Obama ran a better campaign than Hillary. There is not the slightest reason to doubt that she would have been the nominee if the votes in the primaries had come out her way.

As the election approached, pundits warned that, if Obama lost, there would be riots in the ghetto. We will never know. But since when does any candidate have a right to win any office, much less the White House?

The worst of all the reactions from people who act as if they have a right to win have come from gay activists in the wake of voter rejection of so-called "gay marriage," which is to say, redefining what marriage has meant for centuries.

Blacks and Mormons have been the main targets of the gay activists' anger. Seventy percent of blacks voted against gay marriage in California, so racial epithets were hurled at blacks in Los Angeles-- not in black neighborhoods, by the way. Blacks who just happened to be driving through Westwood, near UCLA, were accosted in their cars and, in addition to being denounced, were warned, "You better watch your back." Even blacks who were carrying signs in favor of gay marriage were denounced with racial epithets.

In Michigan, an evangelical church service was invaded and disrupted by gay activists, who also set off a fire alarm, because evangelicals had dared to exercise their right to express their opinions at the polls. In Oakland, California, a mob gathered outside a Mormon temple in such numbers that officials shut down a nearby freeway exit for more than three hours.

In their midst was a San Francisco Supervisor who said "The Mormon church has had to rely on our tolerance in the past, to be able to express their beliefs." He added, "This is a huge mistake for them. It looks like they've forgotten some lessons." Apparently Mormons don't have the same rights as other Americans, at least not if they don't vote the way gay activists want them to vote. There was another gay activist mob gathered outside a Mormon temple in Orange County, California.

In the past, gay activists have disrupted Catholic services and their "gay pride" parades in San Francisco have crudely mocked nuns.

While demanding tolerance from others, gay activists apparently feel no need to show any themselves.

How did we get to this kind of situation? With all the various groups who act as if they have a right to win, we got to the present situation over the years, going back to the 1960s, where the idea started gaining acceptance that people who felt aggrieved don't have to follow the rules or even the law. "No justice, no peace!" was a slogan that found resonance.

Like so many slogans, it sounds good if you don't stop and think-- and awful if you do. Almost by definition, everybody thinks their cause is just. Does that mean that nobody has to obey the rules? That is called anarchy. Nobody is in favor of anarchy. But some people want everybody else to obey the rules, while they don't have to.

What they want is not decisive, however. It is what other people are willing to tolerate that determines how far any group can go. When the majority of the people become like sheep, who will tolerate intolerance rather than make a fuss, then there is no limit to how far any group will go.


Means-testing welfare payments in Britain

In 1918 postwar relief for unemployed ex-soldiers and civilians was a comparatively generous "non-contributory donation". It seemed that the degrading days of the Poor Law were over, and the nation was at last properly respectful of its workers and former cannon fodder. But through the 1920s conditions of unemployment benefit got narrower. Then in 1930 the Depression threw government into a fiscal panic, and the poor got the sharp end with the Family Means Test.

You had to prove just how poor you were, in intimate domestic detail. It imposed form-filling, impertinent questions, and regular, shamingly visible, visits from investigators licensed to peer into your cooking-pots, rule that one chair per person was enough, and order you to sell your spare blankets. John Craig, an apprentice fitter, recalled: "You got so much off the labour exchange, but they kept control, and following you about would come to your house. Mother had a lovely big organ in the house. The inspector says `Well, you don't get any more money for four weeks until you sell that organ'. And my father belted him down the stairs." It broke up families into homelessness: adult children lost all benefits if anybody in the house earned 31 shillings a week, so they had to move out.

From 1934, 190,000 unemployed men were made to attend "training camps" simply because there were no jobs. One contemporary interviewee asked: "How could anyone expect an unemployed man to do physical jerks on 15s a week, or play ping pong, while his wife was sitting at home before a half-empty grate with only margarine to eat?" This humiliation visited on a formerly proud working class by the means test led to the Jarrow March: which demanded, let me remind you, not handouts but work.

The memory of that mass humiliation has hung over politics ever since, colouring everything. There is a parallel with the way that the memory of callous mine-owners - shredding incriminating paperwork after disasters such as Gresford - stopped subsequent Labour governments from daring to stand up to less reasonable miners' demands. Well, the miners were finally (and brutally) defeated. But thanks to the flatfooted regime of the 1930s, means testing remains anathema.

It leads to countless illogicalities, from free bus passes for elderly millionaires to child benefit for yummy-mummies wearing Prada. I dare not compute how many billions of public money has been wasted in paying the latter handout to women who absolutely do not need it: those in affluent families or highly paid jobs. In Australia child benefit is sensibly linked to the income tax system. In Britain any such suggestion is met with fury, usually from left-liberal women columnists earning four times the national average salary. They cite the horror of means testing as if terrified that the investigator might be round any minute to confiscate the baby's spare bibs.

The same squeamishness torpedoes sensible reforms like imposing modest "hotel charges" on richer hospital patients. That would have improved our dangerously appalling hospital food for everyone, and pumped millions into the NHS. But no: overboiled cabbage must be free at the point of delivery, with no evil means testing. The shame of the 1930s has crippled and blinded social security policymakers for seven decades, and the resulting financial anxiety as the system roars out of control has, paradoxically, made it less humane and more inflexible for those who really need it. Ask any brave chemotherapy patient who tries to do a bit of freelance work on the good days without losing a whole month's maintenance.

Why bring out this rant right now? Because the Government has floated the idea that council tenancies should not be secure for life. People in social housing would have fixed-term contracts, with regular reviews, so that when their incomes rise they could either buy some equity or pay more rent, thus freeing money for more social housing. At the moment, public tenants can usually stay put, at low protected rents, however rich they get. Frank Dobson became an MP and a Cabinet minister without losing his council flat, and Lee Jasper, Ken Livingstone's aide, was reported to be living in social housing while earning 117,000 pounds a year. Others took advantage of the right-to-buy scheme, then promptly moved in with a partner and sold the spare flat at a big profit on a booming market.

Meanwhile people in real need, earning little or nothing, spend years on waiting lists or compel desperate councils to waste public money on high private rents. But when government and the Chartered Institute of Housing cautiously talk about reviewing council tenancies or treating subsidised housing as a stepping-stone for some, there is an outcry. It's means testing! Aaaagh! One paper wailed that it would "penalise those who try to better their circumstances". But nobody is suggesting a disproportionate charge: and the system always "penalises" everybody who earns a bit more. It's called income tax.

A visiting Martian, unaware of the poisoned historical hinterland, would assume that rational sharing of a scarce resource was perfectly sensible. Even a proper Marxist, surveying the four million people on the waiting lists and the affluent Jaspers and Dobsons blocking the way, would murmur: "From each according to his ability, to each according to his need." But a liberal Briton, haunted by the officials who peered into the cooking-pots of the miserable 1930s, can only wail and emote.



Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, OBAMA WATCH (2), EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


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