Patterico's Pontifications


Out: Trail of Tears Architect. In: Underground Railroad Heroine

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 6:34 pm

Mrs. P. and I have a saying we like to use on each other: “That would have been more impressive if you had said it earlier.” We use it when one of us claims to have thought something that later turns out to be kind of amazing.

Mrs. P. said it to me today. I said that, months ago, I rooted for Andrew Jackson, and not Alexander Hamilton, to get kicked off U.S. currency. (And my view had nothing to do with a hit Broadway musical, either.) What’s more, I was actually rooting for Harriet Tubman to be on the new $20 bill. Which, as it turns out, will be happening (as early as 2030! your federal government at work!).

The Jackson aspect was obvious. While I’m not a big fan of Hamilton, I’m even more annoyed by the presence of Andrew Jackson — a virtually illiterate, nasty, prideful, vindictive, Trump-like figure who was behind the Trail of Tears. A military hero, to be sure (unlike Trump), but otherwise a contemptible human being in many ways.

As for rooting for Tubman, it wasn’t a completely original thought. When the news came that the government wanted to put a woman on the currency, Harriet Tubman was one of the names that was batted around — and the one that made the most sense to me, by far.

I have always considered the $2 bill to be the king of currency. I consider them good luck and always have one with me in my wallet, at all times. (I’m a Jefferson guy, not a Hamilton or Jackson guy.) But if the Treasury used this totally unofficial design that was floating around the Internet today, I think there would be a new king in town:

Screen Shot 2016-04-20 at 6.21.17 PM

How cool would that be?

P.S. I can’t find any evidence that I said any of this in public, which is distressing. It would be awesome to link you to the post where I advocated putting Harriet Tubman on the $20. It . . . truly would have been more impressive if I had said it earlier.

P.P.S. The latest news is that they’re keeping Jackson, but putting him on the back of the bill, with Tubman on the front. I say: bring back Grover Cleveland, and kick Jackson to the curb.

P.P.P.S. I now hand over the mic to the Long Ryders:

UPDATE: Trump and Carson both think it’s terrible to take a President off our currency. Instead, they say, Tubman should go on a $2 bill.

Who wants to tell them?

Prediction: Ted Cruz Will Be President

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 6:46 am

Just offering a counterpoint to the conventional wisdom you will read today.

I believe Ted Cruz will be, not just the Republican nominee, but also our next President.

I don’t believe Trump will get to 1237, his expected good performance last night notwithstanding. Cruz will do OK in Pennsylvania because many delegates are unbound. He’ll do OK in California. And he’ll win Indiana — a state that many observers watching the numbers believe is critical for Trump to clinch the nomination outright.

Once Trump fails to clinch, it will be an ugly process, but Cruz will win out in the end. There is no white horse, with or without a horn on its head. There is just Ted Cruz, and he is the alternative the party will pick. I just don’t believe that the Sniveling Coward can win if he doesn’t take it on a first ballot.

The party will unify. Yes, the Sniveling Coward’s Twitter army will stomp off in a rage. A small minority of non-Twitterers will follow suit. But most Republicans will go with the nominee.

And the Cruz will beat Hillary.

Cruz is a fantastic spokesman for his — for our! — ideas. Hillary is a terrible spokesman for hers. The Dems will have their own set of disappointed voters in the Bernie army, and their lack of loyalty will sap her support as surely as Trump’s will sap Cruz’s.

In the end, Cruz will make a more convincing case.

And he will win.

So says Patterico, April 20, 2016. Write it down.

So, A Black, Gay Pastor Walks Into A Whole Foods Market In Austin…

Filed under: General — Dana @ 6:34 am

[guest post by Dana]

It just doesn’t get more socially aware than that, does it? Except. When Pastor Jordan Brown went to a Whole Foods Market in Austin to pick up a cake he had ordered with the words “Love Wins” inscribed on it, he claims he got far more than that. And as a result, he is planning on suing the market.

love wins

Brown released a video explaining what happened:

After Brown called the store to complain, he was told by an employee that the store would handle it “internally”.

However, after doing their due diligence and releasing a surveillance tape of Brown purchasing the cake, Whole Foods Market is now planning to take legal action against Brown for making a fraudulent accusation:

“Our bakery team member wrote ‘Love Wins’ at the top of the cake, which was visible to Mr. Brown through the clear portion of the packaging,” Whole Foods said in a statement. “That’s exactly how the cake was packaged and sold at the store. Whole Foods Market has a strict policy that prohibits team members from accepting or designing bakery orders that include language or images that are offensive.

Mr. Brown admits that he was in sole possession and control of the cake until he posted his video, which showed the UPC label on the bottom and side of the box,” the statement read. “After reviewing our security footage of Mr. Brown, it’s clear that the UPC label was in fact on top of the cake box, not on the side of the package.”

Ironically, according to reports, the bakery employee who inscribed the cake with “Love Wins” happens to be part of the LGBT community.

Church members and others have taken to the Church of the Open Door’s Facebook page to vent their anger at the pastor.


Review: Randy Barnett’s “Our Republican Constitution”

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 12:31 am

I promised you a review of Randy Barnett’s new book, “Our Republican Constitution” — just not yesterday, when it would be overshadowed by the election. As I said yesterday, I somehow managed to score an advance copy, and it has definitely whetted my appetite for more. Order it through this link.

Barnett’s main thesis is that there are two competing views of the Constitution: the Republican Constitution and the Democratic Constitution. One vision, the Democratic Constitution, places primacy in government (rule by the majority), while the other, the Republican Constitution, emphasizes natural rights (rights first, government second). Barnett contends that the former version, the Democratic Constitution, is dangerous and has led to atrocities like the decision upholding ObamaCare. Specifically, when Justice Roberts gave primacy to the notion that ObamaCare should stand because it was a law passed by a majority of the People’s representatives, he abandoned his duty to scrutinize the law for constitutional defects, and thus favored the Democratic Constitution over the Republican Constitution.

Barnett goes back to the Declaration of Independence as stating the foundation of the Founders’ vision. The Founders extolled the basic natural rights to life, liberty, and property/happiness — a triad that found its expression not just in Locke and in the Declaration of Independence, but also in the George Mason-penned Virginia Declaration of Rights, as well as several state constitutions that quoted from Mason’s draft of that document.

Barnett explains how this conception found its way into the language of the Constitution. He first focuses on Madison’s essay “The Vices of the Political System of the United States” with its concerns about the dangers of democracy and majoritarianism — concerns that seem very prescient in the age of Trump, and which regular readers know that I rail about regularly. Barnett shows that the Constitution embodies a “rights first, government second” conception through provisions like the Ninth and Tenth Amendments, and the limited grant of powers to Congress in Article I, section 8. Barnett argues that, since ultimate sovereignty rests in individuals, and there are problems with the notion of “the consent of the governed” (see for example my post about Robert Nozick’s thought experiment The Tale of the Slave), government should not imply consent to any law or government that tramples on natural rights.

Barnett explains how Republicans, responding to slavery, created a more Republican Constitution through the Thirteenth and Fourteenth Amendments. Supreme Court justices once argued that the Thirteenth Amendment conferred positive powers on the federal government to remove the “badges and incidents” of slavery — “liberty” being the opposite of slavery. Barnett also provides a history of the Fourteenth Amendment to argue that its sponsors believed that the “privileges or immunities” clause of the Fourteenth Amendment (quickly neutered by the Slaughter-House Cases) were intended to assure citizens that the states could not infringe upon the rights listed in the Bill of Rights. But Slaughter-House and Plessy stomped on this conception, leading to the view of Justices like Holmes that majorities could do pretty much whatever they damn well pleased.

Holmes’s supposedly conservative mindset thus lined up squarely with the views of progressives like Theodore Roosevelt, who showed utter contempt for judicial review. The Republican Constitution took further blows with the passage of the Sixteenth Amendment (feeding the federal beast with taxation on income) and the Seventeenth Amendment (providing for direct popular election of Senators). The short-lived attempts of the New Deal-era Supreme Court to carve out a sphere of economic liberty (usually in response to laws favoring large crony capitalists — same as it ever was!) gave way, as we all know, to a decision (Wickard v. Filburn) that prevented a man from growing wheat on his own property for his own consumption.

Barnett takes us on a short journey of constitutional history, focusing on rulings addressing two structural rules of the Constitution that effectively preserve liberty — the separation of powers, and the limitation on Congress’s powers in Article I, section 8. Barnett emphasizes that federalism “makes diversity possible” and thus preserves liberty. But in the Gonzales v. Raich decision (which this blog is old enough to have condemned contemporaneously!) we saw any nascent effort at federalism largely fall apart. Finally, with ObamaCare, Justice Roberts affirmed the notion that the Commerce Clause did not allow a mandate to buy a product — but nevertheless, due to his deference to the vision of the Democratic Constitution, allowed the mandate to survive as if it were a tax. (For more on the silliness of the ObamaCare decision, I recommend the short tract by Senator Mike Lee titled Why John Roberts Was Wrong About Healthcare: A Conservative Critique of The Supreme Court’s Obamacare Ruling. This pamphlet is likely to appeal primarily to lawyers, but I read it recently and found it very readable.)

One valuable thing about Barnett’s book is the renewed respect it gave me for my favorite Justice, Clarence Thomas. Not only did Justice Thomas have the best opinion in Raich, but he has also opposed the consolidation of judicial, executive, and legislative power that has taken place in our mammoth federal bureaucracy, aided by horrible decisions like the Chevron decision (mandating judicial deference to administrative decisions) that we remember being discussed in the run-up to the second ObamaCare case, King v. Burwell. (Even though Chevron ended up playing no role in the King case, it still serves to oppress citizens by effectively removing any realistic judicial check on arbitrary administrative lawmaking and enforcement.) Barnett gives several stirring quotes from Thomas opposing this dangerous state of affairs. I’m going to take the liberty of reproducing one of those quotes here, because I think it is important:

We have too long abrogated our duty to enforce the separation of powers required by our Constitution. We have overseen and sanctioned the growth of an administrative system that concentrates the power to make laws and the power to enforce them in the hands of a vast and unaccountable administrative apparatus that finds no comfortable home in our constitutional structure. The end result may be trains that run on time (although I doubt it), but the cost is to our Constitution and the individual liberty it protects.

(For more on the oppressive bureaucracy, as well as suggestions for how to use a form of civil disobedience to oppose it, I recommend Charles Murray’s By the People: Rebuilding Liberty Without Permission, which I read recently and hope to review here one day.)

[UPDATE: It’s probably worth noting that Thomas has not always been good on Chevron. I’m not an expert in this area, but I’ll note that the excellent quotes Barnett provides from Thomas are recent — causing me to hope that Justice Thomas is rethinking his views in this area.]

I’m not absolutely certain I agree with all of Barnett’s conclusions, but his philosophy intrigues me enough that I will be buying and reading his other books. If you love liberty — and wonder how we got to the point where the Constitution no longer seems to protect it — “Our Republican Constitution” is well worth your time. Once again, it can be purchased here.

UPDATE: Deleted a line that I’m told was based on an error in the advance copy that was fixed in the final version.

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