Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Our Judicial Dictatorship

By Pat Buchanan

Do the states have the right to outlaw same-sex marriage?  Not long ago the question would have been seen as absurd. For every state regarded homosexual acts as crimes.

Moreover, the laws prohibiting same-sex marriage had all been enacted democratically, by statewide referenda, like Proposition 8 in California, or by Congress or elected state legislatures.

But today rogue judges and justices, appointed for life, answerable to no one, instruct a once-democratic republic on what laws we may and may not enact.

Last week, the Supreme Court refused to stop federal judges from overturning laws banning same-sex marriage. We are now told to expect the Supreme Court itself to discover in the Constitution a right of men to marry men and of women to marry women.

How, in little more than half a century, did the American people fall under the rule of a judicial dictatorship where judges and justices twist phrases in the Constitution to impose their alien ideology on this once-free people?

What brings the issue up is both the Court decision on same-sex marriage, and the death of my friend, Professor William J. Quirk, of the South Carolina University School of Law.

In "Judicial Dictatorship" (1995), Bill wrote of the revolution that had been imposed against the will of the majority, and of how Congress and the people might rout that revolution.

The instrument of revolution is judicial review, the doctrine that makes the Supreme Court the final arbiter, the decider, of what the Constitution says, and cedes to the Court limitless power to overturn laws enacted by the elective branches of government.

Jefferson said that to cede such authority to the Supreme Court "would place us under the despotism of an oligarchy." Was he not right?

Consider what has transpired in our lifetime.

The Supreme Court has ordered the de-Christianization of all public institutions in what was a predominantly Christian country. Christian holy days, holidays, Bibles, books, prayers and invocations were all declared to be impermissible in public schools and the public square.

Secular humanism became, through Supreme Court edict, our established religion in the United States.

And the American people took it.

Why was there not massive civil disobedience against this anti-Christian discrimination, as there was against segregation? Why did Congress, which has the power to abolish every federal district and appellate court and to restrict the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court, not act?

Each branch of government, wrote Jefferson, is "independent of the others and has an equal right to decide for itself what is the meaning of the Constitution in the cases submitted to its action."

"No branch has the absolute or final power to control the others, especially an unelected judiciary," added Quirk.

In 1954, the Supreme Court ordered the desegregation of all pubic schools. But when the Court began to dictate the racial balance of public schools, and order the forced busing of children based on race across cities and county lines to bring it about, a rebellion arose.

Only when resistance became national and a violent reaction began did our black-robed radicals back down.

Yet the Supreme Court was not deterred in its resolve to remake America. In 1973, the Court discovered the right to an abortion in the Ninth Amendment. Then it found, also hidden in the Constitution, the right to engage in homosexual sodomy.

When Congress enacted the Defense of Marriage Act, Bill Quirk urged it to utilize Article III, Section 2 of the Constitution, and write in a provision stripping the Supreme Court of any right to review the act.

Congress declined, and the Court, predictably, dumped over DOMA.

Republican presidents have also sought to curb the Supreme Court's aggressions through the appointment process. And largely failed.

Of four justices elevated by Nixon, three voted for Roe. Ford's nominee John Paul Stevens turned left. Two of Reagan's, Sandra Day O'Connor and Anthony Kennedy, went wobbly. Bush I's David Souter was soon caucusing with the liberals.

Today, there are four constitutionalists on the Court. If the GOP loses the White House in 2016, then the Court is gone, perhaps forever.

Yet, the deeper problem lies in congressional cowardice in refusing to use its constitutional power to rein in the Court.

Ultimately, the failure is one of conservatism itself.

Indeed, with neoconservatives in the van, the GOP hierarchy is today in headlong retreat on same-sex marriage. Its performance calls to mind the insight of that unreconstructed Confederate chaplain to Stonewall Jackson, Robert Lewis Dabney, on the failure of conservatives to halt the march of the egalitarians:

"American conservatism is merely the shadow that follows Radicalism as it moves forward towards perdition. It remains behind it, but never retards it, and always advances near its leader. . Its impotency is not hard, indeed, to explain. It is worthless because it is the conservatism of expediency only, and not of sturdy principle. It intends to risk nothing serious, for the sake of the truth, and has no idea of being guilty of the folly of martyrdom."  Amen



CDC Mission Creep: A Dangerous and Wasteful Distraction

By: Josh Withrow

Any time a new infectious disease arises in the United States or throughout the world, Americans are assured that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is taking measures to prevent an outbreak from turning into an epidemic. Recently, however, the arrival of Ebola patients in United States has appeared to expose major flaws in the CDC's preparedness. A deeper examination of the CDC's focus and activities reveal an agency mired in classic mission creep, constantly nudged off-course by political pressures. Many of the CDC's uses over the past several decades are dubious enough on their own to recommend a reevaluation of the agency's reach. Recent events merely reinforce the need for the CDC to refocus on its vital primary mission: the prevention and control of infectious disease epidemics.

Brief History of CDC and Its Mission Creep

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention was founded as the Communicable Disease Center in 1946, a small institution whose roots lay in the prevention of malaria and typhus outbreaks among U.S. troops in World War II. As its name suggested, the initial scope of CDC was mostly restricted to epidemiology  - the prevention and containment of large-scale outbreaks of deadly communicable diseases. While the CDC enjoyed a great deal of early success in its disease-containment mission, playing a key role in the eradication of polio in the U.S. and of smallpox worldwide, it quickly succumbed to mission creep and began to absorb a number of tangential or unrelated projects. By 2014, the CDC's mission has diversified to the point where its initial "Office of Infectious Diseases" is only one of five branches on its official organizational chart.

This fundamental overreach from the CDC's original (and essential) mission was fully codified in 1992, when the full title of the agency became the "Centers for Disease Control and Prevention".  Combined with the agency's move away from controlling only communicable diseases, the idea encapsulated within those two new words is frightening in its nearly limitless scope. One of the ways that the CDC has justified this mission creep is by employing a vastly expanded definition of the word "epidemic".  Although the word refers, strictly speaking, to the widespread outbreak of an infectious disease, the government and the CDC have taken to referring to anything that causes harm to a large number of people as an "epidemic". Thus, we get the "obesity epidemic," the "gun violence epidemic," the "alcoholism epidemic" -  as if America has experienced an epidemic of epidemics.

This substantial broadening of the CDC's jurisdiction has allowed it to be turned into a tool for political interests. Examples of CDC interventions into areas far outside the realm of infectious disease include policy recommendations to reduce obesity, salt consumption, tobacco and alcohol use, and even gun ownership. Notably, not only are all of these areas unrelated to the CDC's original infectious disease focus, they all overlap with other government agencies. Another major avenue for CDC mission creep has been its focus on "environmental health,"  which by their own definition includes "everything around us -  the air we breathe, the water we drink and use, and the food we consume."

 This practically limitless mandate has led the CDC to involve itself in such non-disease topics as global warming, building construction, nutrition, and even "the health effects of gentrification."

CDC's Budget Bloat

In the wake of recent accusations that the CDC was caught flat-footed by the arrival of the Ebola virus in America, some officials and lawmakers have pointed to the sequestration budget cuts and other funding reductions at the CDC. As The Federalist's  David Harsanyi notes, however, sequestration merely cut projected increases in spending, while a GAO report showed that most of the CDC's cutbacks came from decreases in grant funding.

 In fact, while the CDC complains about supposed draconian budget cuts, its budget in 2014 ($6.4 billion) was more than triple its budget from just 1996 ($2.1 billion). The largest increases were in response to specific disease scares  -  the anthrax scare in 2001, and the H1N1 avian flu threat in 2005  -  but notably the funding increases never went away. The CDC's budget request for FY 2015 remains at $6.6 billion total, already back to increasing annually after the modest cuts of 2013.

The most alarming aspect of the CDC's mission creep is not its budgetary impact (though  that is not insignificant); rather, it is the extent to which politically motivated research, funded by CDC grants, is used as scientific validation for invasive policy schemes government-wide.

CDC's Gun Violence Campaign Reined in by Congress after Venturing into Direct Lobbying

There are numerous examples of the CDC being used as a tool to attempt to advance political agendas at the federal and state level. Take, for example, the CDC's campaign against guns, which began in earnest with the creation of Intentional Injuries Section within the Division of Injury Epidemiology and Control.  Any notion that the division intended to merely study and observe gun violence was quickly dispelled, as the director gave an interview in 1993 in which it was revealed "he envisions a long-term campaign, similar to those on tobacco use and car safety, to convince Americans that guns are, first and foremost, a public health menace."

 Finally, after the CDC began giving grant money to organizations that advocated for gun control, and published articles giving advice on how to lobby for gun control, Congress intervened by defunding much of the agency's gun violence research and explicitly prohibiting the CDC from promoting gun control.

 In spite of this, President Obama has once again attempted to insert gun violence into the CDC's mandate, issuing a 2013 executive order asking the CDC to study "the causes of gun violence and ways to prevent it."

The gun control campaign was one of the federal government's more egregious attempts to use the CDC to advocate for issues well outside of the agency's mission, but there have been numerous similar examples of CDC overreach.

The Community Preventive Services Task Force: Science with an Agenda

Perhaps the best current example of the CDC's overreach into advocating for policy change is the Community Preventative Services Task Force, which "produces recommendations (and identifies evidence gaps) to help inform the decision making of federal, state, and local health departments, other government agencies, communities, healthcare providers, employers, schools and research organizations."

 The Task Force is a supposedly neutral assembly of scientists that deals only in objective research, independent of the CDC or any other government body. In reality, the CDC director appoints the Task Force's 15 members, employs its 41 support staff, and
ultimately disseminates the results and opinions from the Task Force's studies.

 Somehow, the 15 Task Force members, who only meet three times per year, are currently expected to cover 22 different topics, ranging from asthma to worksite safety to birth defects.

 Even if the Task Force members themselves are truly independent, there is simply no way that they can each develop informed opinions in that wide a variety of topics, which clearly indicates that the 41 CDC employees must be heavily involved with the selection, interpretation, and guidelines of the various studies.

The full list on the Task Force's Website: adolescent health, excessive consumption of alcohol, asthma, birth defects,
cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, emergency preparedness, health communication, health equity, sexually transmitted diseases and pregnancy, mental health, motor vehicle injury, nutrition, obesity, oral health, physical activity, social environment, tobacco, vaccination, violence prevention, and worksite health promotion.

Since the end result of these studies is the aforementioned "recommendations" which are intended to be used by both public and private entities, this means that the CDC itself is effectively lobbying for government policy changes. These recommendations include clear instances of policy advocacy, including increasing alcohol and tobacco taxes in order to discourage consumption through higher prices. In effect, the Task Force and its studies are freely used as a government-funded think tank for those who wish to regulate Americans' personal health decisions.

ObamaCare Slush Fund Used by CDC to Lobby for State Policy Change

An even more blatant recent use of CDC dollars for lobbying has been its grant funding under the Prevention and Public Health Fund (PPHF). Created as part of ObamaCare, the PPHF provides for up to $2 billion each year to be spent without any congressional oversight, and much of this money each year has been allocated for use by the CDC. Some of the more ridiculous grants issued through the PPHF include studies of "dance fitness, massage therapy, painting bike lanes, salad bars in school cafeterias, pet neutering and urban gardening."

 In a 2012 letter to HHS, Senator Susan Collins (R-Maine) noted that even as a supporter of the CDC's public wellness campaigns, "I am concerned about the appearance of impropriety in several instances where grantees. appear to have used federal funds in attempts to change state and local policies and laws." In particular, Sen. Collins noted the guidelines for states to receive grants under the PPHF, which provided a list of strategies that recipients were "expected" to use "to produce the desired outcomes for the initiative." Several states then reported how they were using the money received under this program to implement some of these very strategies, including changing zoning laws, proposing tax increases on selected products, and increasing tobacco regulations.

 The HHS Inspector General concurred with Collins that the CDC's guidelines raised serious concerns about the use of their grant money.

CDC Used Faulty Study to Boost Obesity Campaign

Another high-profile campaign for the CDC, especially under recent administrations, has been a war against the obesity "epidemic". The CDC's activities in this arena have had many of the same lobbying concerns as previously mentioned campaigns. In fact, the current director of the CDC, Dr. Thomas Frieden, was hired to that post in 2009 straight from running New York City Mayor Bloomberg's infamous nanny-state campaigns against smoking, trans fats, and oversized sodas, which were run with CDC funding.

 Even before Dr. Frieden was hired, in 2004 the CDC was caught using a study that vastly inflated the numbers of actual obesity-related deaths in order to advance its advertising and policy recommendation campaigns. The CDC initially touted a study that showed deaths related to obesity had increased by 33 percent from the previous decade to 400,000 annually, but when its numbers were challenged the CDC admitted that the increase was less than 10 percent. Even scientists inside the CDC objected to the methodology used for the study, yet it was published and used anyway.

 Embarrassingly, a subsequent CDC-backed study found that when other factors were accounted for, the net total of obesity-caused deaths was 25,814  -  14 times fewer than their earlier estimate. Nevertheless, the CDC Director declared that her agency's anti-obesity campaign would neither scale back nor incorporate the new, smaller death toll.

 Clearly, in the case of its obesity data scandal, the CDC had no intention of letting science get in the way of its desired frightening narrative


There is a  new  lot of postings by Chris Brand just up -- on his usual vastly "incorrect" themes of race, genes, IQ etc.


For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH,  POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated) and Coral reef compendium. (Updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten.

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thank goodness we have judges who understand that the U.S. Constitution mandates that all persons are equal under the law. Buchanan is just bigoted against gays, and is railing that this age-old bigotry is being marginalized and swept away. The reason that court victories have been so thoroughly lopsided -- with the vast majority of Republican appointed judges ruling in favor of equality under the law, is this is legally speaking, a no-brainer. Prohibiting someone from marrying another just because of that person's sex violates equal protection, and bigots like Buchanan can whine all he wants. The fight against same-sex marriage is over. Equality under the law has clearly triumphed.