Scanning the week’s national news, views and clues with you and yours in mind
By Malia Hill
“Vote for the man who promises least; he’ll be the least disappointing.”—Bernard Baruch
Each week, we’ll be monitoring the web to find the most interesting, challenging, or important items for those who are concerned about liberty, accountability, and big government. Here are some of the highlights from the past week:
The National Taxpayers Union has released its Taxpayer Ratings for the first session of the 112th Congress. Put simply, it grades each Senator and Congressman/Congresswoman on his or her votes related to opposing higher taxes and reducing spending. And Hawaii’s delegation did . . . drumroll, please . . . very, very bady. Yes, it wasn’t exactly suspenseful, considering how very spendy they’ve proven to be in the past. Still Senators Akaka and Inouye and Reps. Hanabusa and Hirono received straight “F”s on their dedication to conserving taxpayer dollars, making our state one of the very worst when it comes to sending tax and spenders to Congress. But let’s look at the bright side: we have nowhere to go but up. I hope.
As any first-year law student can tell you, the principle that the Supreme Court has the power to nullify Congressional acts that are judged unconstitutional goes all the way back to 1809, as explained at length by Chief Justice John Marshall in Marbury v. Madison—a vital case for any Constitutional Law 101 student not only for its legal importance, but also as a source for extraneous quotes and padding in papers that turn out to be a bit too short no matter what font you use. President Obama, as a former Constitutional Law professor, is (of course) well aware of the long history of the Court using its authority to strike down legislation, which makes his comments regarding the possibility that the Court will similarly strike down Obamacare somewhat puzzling. As Thomas Sowell explains, there seems to be a disingenuous effort to redefine the concept of judicial activism away from its traditional meaning—that of justices making rulings outside of the strict limits of the constitution—and into some generalized complaint about rulings that one simply dislikes. Judicial activism is not the same things as judicial action.
Living and working in Washington, DC is like being one of the survivors on The Walking Dead. Only, instead of zombies, there are the politicos—the think-tanks, the “rainmakers,” the “decision-makers”—everyone who perceives themselves as part of the enlightened, educated political ruling class. (And yes, they really do consider themselves such, though to say it in so many words would be unbelievably gauche.) In essence, there are only two options before you: either grab a shotgun and blast a desperate escape path, or join the zombie horde. For, as Ralph Benko colorfully explains in Forbes, those politicos can be stubbornly immune to applying good ideas that don’t emanate from their own class. The Occupiers were right that there is a 1% that has an inordinate influence over our economic problems—it’s just that it’s not the upper class—it’s the political one.
It’s literally feel-good nonsense. According to this article from the Washington Post, the Department of Health and Human Services is going to attempt to quantify and track our relative happiness. It’s a shame that they’re not also going to attempt to track our national level of cynicism, because mine shot through the roof when I noticed that actual government resources are going to be spent on quantifying a subjective, wildly varying human emotion. And what do they plan to do with this information, anyway? If the nation proves to be extra bummed-out one week, will the President and Speaker of the House go on TV and tell knock-knock jokes until we all cheer up? Or maybe they could just send Joe Biden door-to-door with some kind words and a pint of Jerry Garcia ice cream.
Those on the right may scoff at the notion that they can find common ground with a communist, but as Paul Jacob points out in this column, political wisdom can come even from those whose politics you oppose. Van Jones, a self-proclaimed communist and “community organizer” (though perhaps I repeat myself), explains the importance of grassroots action in forcing those in office to act: “You have to have two kinds of leadership, not just one, if you want to change the country. You got to have a head of state who’s willing to be moved, but you have to have a movement willing to do the moving.” No matter where you stand on the political spectrum, this is true. To get the leadership we want, we must force those leaders to act.
Views expressed in this column are intended to promote creative thought, educate, and, we hope, prompt comment. Accordingly, thoughts expressed do not necessarily reflect the official position of Grassroot Institute of Hawaii or the author.
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