Morning Report – International tensions take center stage 3/3/14

Vital Statistics:

Last Change Percent
S&P Futures 1841.3 -16.3 -0.88%
Eurostoxx Index 3069.1 -80.1 -2.54%
Oil (WTI) 104.6 2.0 1.95%
LIBOR 0.236 0.000 0.00%
US Dollar Index (DXY) 79.85 0.157 0.20%
10 Year Govt Bond Yield 2.61% -0.04%
Current Coupon Ginnie Mae TBA 106.2 0.0
Current Coupon Fannie Mae TBA 105 0.1
RPX Composite Real Estate Index 200.7 -0.2
BankRate 30 Year Fixed Rate Mortgage 4.31
Stocks are weaker and bonds are stronger on developments in Ukraine. While this situation should not have much of a direct impact on the US, it will push rates lower at the margin on the flight to safety trade. Equities will be vulnerable to the risk on trade.
Personal Income and Personal spending came in much better than expected in January. Incomes increased .3%, while spending increased .4%. December spending was revised downward from .4% to .1%. The PCE core index came in at .1%.
The Markit US PMI came in at 57.1, a little better than expected, while the ISM indices were stronger as well. Construction spending rose .1%, which again was better than expected.
We have a lot of data this week, culminating with the jobs report on Friday. The other big report will be the ISM surveys. That said, geopolitical concerns will probably drive the bond market more than the data will.
The Hardest Hit Fund money (that was intended to be used to modify mortgages and help homeowners in distress) is now being used to demolish homes. In Detroit alone, 70,000 homes (or 19% of the total inventory) may need to be torn down. It may turn out that much of the shadow inventory is stuff that really isn’t going to affect supply because it is unsaleable.

110 Responses

  1. Ahem. Mi, mi, mi, mi, mi.

    ♪♫☺♪♪♫ FRIST ♪♫☺♪♪♫

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  2. To one of you money guys: would this not be a good time to invest in rubles? Not that I’m really going to, but just as a thought experiment.

    Liked by 1 person

    • ‘Goose, are you assuming this week is a likely historic low? I would love Brent’s take on this, too. If money folks think this is an historic low will they come back into the money market as purchasers of Russian currency?

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  3. To one of you money guys: would this not be a good time to invest in rubles? Not that I’m really going to, but just as a thought experiment.

    If I was a hedge fund manager and looking at the ruble, I would say no. First, it is a falling knife, meaning it shows no signs of stabilization. While it is about the most satisfying thing in the world to buy at the absolute bottom and sell right at the top, more money has been lost chasing that rush that it isn’t worth it. One of my favorite quotes from Reminiscences of a Stock Operator: The first and last eight are the most expensive eighths in the business.

    Second, while the world will probably not do anything militarily, there will probably be economic sanctions against Russia and that introduces a whole new level of risk that I wouldn’t want to touch…

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    • Thanx, Brent – that works with my notion that Putin could over play this.

      I am not familiar with the pipelines. Do they go to and from Odessa’s refineries? How does Russia transport NG to the west? That could prove to be a casus belli for Russia if the pipelines are controlled on Ukrainian soil. Anybody know?

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    • Brent:

      Second, while the world will probably not do anything militarily, there will probably be economic sanctions against Russia and that introduces a whole new level of risk that I wouldn’t want to touch…

      I second this. A lot of uncertainty. The ruble could easily descend further.

      While it is about the most satisfying thing in the world to buy at the absolute bottom and sell right at the top…

      I did this once in my life, on JGB futures, years ago. It was an intraday trade, and I somehow managed to buy the absolute low tick and sell the absolute high tick on the day. It was a much discussed event in the office at the time. Never managed to repeat it although I have unfortunately come close to accomplishing the reverse…selling the low and buying the high.

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  4. Thanks from me, also, Brent. I was trying to interpret this, Mark.

    But following the escalation of tensions around Crimea, and Moscow’s threat to send troops to Ukraine, the currency fell further, to more than 37 to the dollar and more than 51.2 to the euro, prompting the Central Bank of Russia into a 1.5-percentage-point interest-rate rise, taking the key rate to 7%, to try to stabilize the markets. It also bumped up its repo rate, at which banks receive liquidity, to 8%, and banks said it sold dollars heavily to support the currency.

    The rate hike, which the central bank said was temporary, may put additional pressure on flagging economic activity. In 2013, economic growth slowed to 1.3%, its weakest pace since President Vladimir Putin came to power in 2000.

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  5. I let you Frist.

    Heh.

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  6. Scott

    Never managed to repeat it although I have unfortunately come close to accomplishing the reverse…selling the low and buying the high.

    Have you ever entertained the thought that you might be in the wrong business? 😉

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    • lms:

      Have you ever entertained the thought that you might be in the wrong business?

      Every single day, lms, every single day.

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  7. @Scott,

    I have never done both… When you have to do size, it is impossible. Invariably you have to scale in and scale out.

    Distressed bonds traded like this: They would move around in low volume as people found the market clearing price. Then, there would be a massive trade, where the long-only guys sell and the wiseguys buy and you either participate at that price or you don’t. If you get too cute and miss the trade you’ll never get a position.

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    • Brent:

      When you have to do size, it is impossible.

      True. The one time I did it I was actually just gamma hedging a yen option position, using JGB’s as a proxy for the swap rate. We had positive gamma, and the feat was just dumb luck. I was buying JGB’s every X many of ticks down and selling them every X ticks up, and the market just happened to both bottom out and max out on a multiple of X. But I don’t usually tell people how I did it, so keep it a secret.

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  8. Boy, Obama is getting really toxic.

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  9. Have you ever entertained the thought that you might be in the wrong business?

    Everyone knows Scott’s true calling is lawyer.

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  10. Sounds like it was really popular–thanks for the link, QB!

    Greene said she had hoped to sell about 75 tickets to fund some future support activities for the group, which was formed last summer and still “starting from scratch.” The event was approved as a “variety show” by Kadena’s 18th Wing through the same process as other on-base fundraisers.

    But an initial 200 tickets were plucked up almost immediately, so they issued another 200.

    “We ended up selling 400 tickets in 10 days,” she said.

    [snip]

    On Saturday night, the Rocker club was packed for performances by servicemembers using stage names such as Chocolate Sunrise — a crowd favorite — and Artemis Faux. The event’s sole lesbian performer took the drag king name Manny Nuff.

    The advocacy group agreed to avoid using the term “drag show” as part of its on-base fundraiser effort.

    Tech. Sgt. Kristen Baker, who was among the crowd, said the show got a warm reception and would leave a mark for civil rights.

    “Everything is just accepted. It makes me really proud to watch it,” Baker said. In the military, “we are all brothers and sisters no matter what.”

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  11. But I don’t usually tell people how I did it, so keep it a secret.

    Would rather be lucky than smart every day of the week and twice on Sunday….

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  12. Maybe I should go back to law school

    Is it time for a midlife crisis yet?

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  13. Yeah, sure, Michi, sure. Especially Marines are just gaga for a more gay-centric corps.

    Scott, I imagine you could read some law outlines and bar review materials and pass a bar exam pretty easily. You could cruise through law school. But don’t kid yourself. Few lawyers rake in the piles of cash you bankers do, rolling into town in your limo, lighting cigars with c-notes.

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    • qb:

      But don’t kid yourself. Few lawyers rake in the piles of cash you bankers do, rolling into town in your limo, lighting cigars with c-notes.

      Given the regulatory environment right now, I suspect that finance lawyers on Wall Street are better positioned to rake in the cash than anyone else. In fact, someone with both a law degree and experience trading is probably in a unique position to advise trading desks on just how to go about doing what they need to do in order to navigate the regulatory system. Not to mention the revolving door opportunities. Join the government to help craft regulations, then get paid by the bank to advise them on how to avoid falling afoul of them.

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  14. We used to refer to compliance as the BDU – business discouragement unit.

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    • We used to refer to compliance as the BDU – business discouragement unit.

      Isn’t that the truth. The safest course is always to do nothing.

      I am reminded of a saying I heard as a kid, and have never forgotten. No idea who said it first: A ship in port is safe, but that’s not what ships are built for.

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  15. In fact, someone with both a law degree and experience trading. . .

    For many years, until the market got flooded, the best combination was to have a science degree and about 10 years in research, then go back and get a law degree. Sounds like getting a law degree may be turning into the second career of choice.

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  16. Yes, indeed, having a combination of law and finance can set you up. There are many JD/MBAs. I thought about it but was too old and poor. (I thought more about JD/PhD, but that was even more a pipe dream, not that I am bitter or anything.) But it isn’t using the law license that generally makes the big bucks. Not unless perhaps you are at Wachtell Lipton and get paid a piece of a deal (of The Firm, to use a different model).

    Same with science degrees. I have lots of friends like that, making good money but not Hamptons-style money. You don’t want to be the guy filing or even litigating the patent if you can be the guy developing and being awarded the patent. Patent lawyers are clerks. They don’t start Apple or MS.

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  17. I gave an interview to a legal journalist about an upcoming Supreme Court case that I suspect would be of interest to some of you. It’s a case in which the court will consider whether to overrule Basic v. Levinson, a 1988 case that made it very, very easy for plaintiffs to maintain securities fraud class actions against corporations. It did so by holding that, instead of having to prove individual reliance of every investor, plaintiffs can enjoy a “presumtion of reliance” on the integrity of the market trading price. The decision was based on the efficient market hypothesis. It assumes that an efficient market immediately incorporates all material, public information into the trading price. And by the standards adopted, the market for pretty much every public company stock is deemed “efficient.”

    Scott will love all this. The court took a statute that actually doesn’t even create a private right of action, inferred such a right from it, and in Basic then effectively said, who cares about reliance as a fraud element; we’ll just substitute this new-fangled economic theory. Now, a couple of decades later, the EMH has fallen on hard times in the field of economics, and what is ironic is that it is the corporate defense bar that is arguing (correctly) that economic research has completely undermined the EMH basis for the Basic holding.

    Oh and I should mention that the defendant seeking to overturn Basic is … drum roll … H.A.L.L.I.B.U.R.T.O.N.

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    • qb:

      The court took a statute that actually doesn’t even create a private right of action…

      Which statute is it?

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  18. Section 10(b) of the Securities Exchange Act (1934), 78 U.S.C. 78j(b). It’s the broad federal securities statute under which most securities class actions are filed.

    http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/15/78j

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  19. You won’t be excited. Not much to read. Very loose language. More interesting is the economic debate about trading markets.

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    • What’s interesting about the efficient market theory is that people who trade stocks implicitly assume it is wrong. That is, they think the price of the stock is either too low at the time they buy or too high at the time they sell. In other words, they think they know something the market doesn’t, or at the very least they think the market is mis-pricing something that everyone knows.

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  20. If I understand this correctly, FOX’s use of Progressives isn’t because it gets them higher ratings, it’s all about Ailes manipulation of the public.

    http://www.cjr.org/feature/and_from_the_leftfox_news.php?page=1

    Really.

    Has the Koch boogeyman quota been met already? We have to resurrect Ailes?

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  21. Can’t I think a stock is priced correctly for conditions today but that it will appreciate tomorrow? I’m assuming that the market knows what I know and has priced future appreciation into today’s price. However, since the future is unknowable until it occurs, there is a hedge in the price for potential adversity.

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  22. Hack Sargent’s got another immigration post today. What’s the consensus of the readers over there? Is a daily post saying the same thing well received? Curious.

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  23. Along with an uptick in necrophelia to no doubt.

    Jesus freaks! Is there nothing they won’t corrupt?

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  24. Is a daily post saying the same thing well received?

    No.

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  25. Must be some sort of WaPo requirement.

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    • McWing:

      Couldn’t a President keep delaying a tax increase?

      It does seems that that is the precedent O has set. More interestingly, who would have standing to sue in order to force him to enforce the tax increase?

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  26. Everybody’s least favorite Stephen King defends the right to discriminate and pick and choose who your customers are.

    When you’re in the private sector and you’re an individual entrepreneur with God-given rights that our founding fathers defined in the Declaration, you should be able to make your own decisions on what you do in that private business. And I’m always uneasy about the idea of the philosophy that you’re a private-slash-public business, because you have a door that’s open that anybody can walk in. That doesn’t mean that you have to perform any kind of service that they demand.

    He sounds like the kind of guy that should be managing a Walgreens lunch counter.

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    • yello:

      He sounds like the kind of guy that should be managing a Walgreens lunch counter.

      He sounds to me like the kind of guy who should be sitting on the Supreme Court. (BTW, your link doesn’t work.)

      I don’t think defenders of forcing a baker or a photographer to cater to a homosexual wedding can articulate an objective principle defending their position that wouldn’t result in what even they would consider absurdities. For liberals constitutional law is not about setting forth objective principles, it is about catering to their personal whims and desires.

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  27. Hack Sargent’s got another immigration post today.

    It falls into “Francesco Franco is still dead.” levels of tedium.

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  28. If I understand this correctly, FOX’s use of Progressives isn’t because it gets them higher ratings, it’s all about Ailes manipulation of the public.

    The Harlem Globtrotters are nothing without the Washington Generals. That explains the choice of Alan Colmes as O’Reilly’s sidekick.

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  29. Can’t I think a stock is priced correctly for conditions today but that it will appreciate tomorrow? I’m assuming that the market knows what I know and has priced future appreciation into today’s price. However, since the future is unknowable until it occurs, there is a hedge in the price for potential adversity.

    The snarky answer would be, you can think anything you want to think! (Calling Kevin.) I have always waffled back and forth between thinking EMH is a tautology and thinking that it is plagued with definitional confusions. I think you can definitely think what your first sentence says. That sounds like classic growth investment, which I understand to be consistent with EMH. But value investing a la Warren Buffett as a successful strategy is said to be inconsistent with EMH, since EMH says luck is the only way to beat the market long term, and since Warren and his value friends are rich and we aren’t, EMH must not be true as presently conceived. My understanding is a little crude, but it is that EMH flatly denies the validity of value investing, which leaves Warren laughing all the way to the bank. I don’t know what empirical research about technical trading strategies says (perhaps it doesn’t work), but value investing based on fundamentals seems to, proving that you can identify “underpriced” stocks.

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  30. Putting more liberals on TV and letting them talk is all part of the evil scheme to advance conservatism.

    Yes, that actually makes complete sense and obviously is working, splendidly. Ailes, you magnificent basstard.

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  31. He sounds like the kind of guy that should be managing a Walgreens lunch counter.

    When you can’t persuasively refute someone on the merits, ad hominem is always handy.

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  32. (BTW, your link doesn’t work.)

    Fixed.

    Another comment King made is:

    But I think a lot of it is a combination of nature and nurture and, but, the one thing that I reference when I say ‘self-professed,’ is how do you know who to discriminate against?
    {snip}
    If it’s not specifically protected in the Constitution, then it’s got to be an immutable characteristic, that being a characteristic that can be independently verified and can’t be willfully changed…

    To which a commenter replied:

    Self-professed behavior?

    Religion is a self-professed behavior.

    Homosexuality is an innate sexual orientation.

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    • Here’s a question: Why in the world would two homosexuals (or anyone, for that matter) who were having a wedding celebration even want to hire a baker or a photographer who objected to the celebration in the first place? Isn’t the business owner actually doing them a favor (ie giving them information relevant to their choice) by telling them upfront that he has no interest in their business?

      This whole situation is nuts, and can only make sense in the twilight zone world of the left.

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  33. Religion is a self-professed behavior

    Free exercise of religion is “specifically protected in the Constitution” against government infringement.

    The whole focus on whether behavior or “orientation” is “chosen” is misplaced. You don’t actually choose what you believe any more than you “choose” what attracts you. And homosexual orientation is just a fancy, obsurantistic term for desire, unless it is being used in the way King was discussing it: a way of professing an “identity.” It isn’t immutable in any event.

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  34. Scott, the answer to that question is perfectly clear to me. This is a movement to stamp out religious dissent against the new orthodoxy. It’s no secret that in most of these cases the homosexuals are deliberately targeting small businesses operated by conservative Christians. It is pure malice and intolerance.

    This is why I from the beginning supported a federal constitutional amendment. The radicals said that was unnecessary, because what is now happening and what they are forcing on us would and could never happen. It was all a pack of lies, which some of us saw at the time.

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    • qb:

      This is a movement to stamp out religious dissent against the new orthodoxy.

      Yes, that seems to be the case. It has nothing at all to do with protecting the “rights” of homosexuals.

      Which, BTW, makes me wonder. In order to sue someone, doesn’t one have to have suffered a provable harm? What harm has befallen two homosexuals who couldn’t buy a wedding cake from a Christian baker?

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  35. Harm, for standing purposes, in a case like this, essentially is tautological. States like NM and Oregon have added “sexual orientation” to their civil rights codes. So, the “harm” in not being able to buy a cake from a Christian baker is not being able to buy a cake from a Christian baker. It is a harm because the government says it is–a metaphysical injury to their legally declared rights, “however slight.” Of course, they would whine about having to go to another baker, too.

    It is all a fraud and a farce. Everyone knows it. It is war on Christians and nothing more.

    Edit: of course, what I left out here is the inferential leap that equates refusing to bake for a gay wedding with refusing to bake for gays. That depends in turn on perverting the law to say that no one may view a gay wedding as different from a real wedding. Everyone is now required to live according to the moral code of the Human Rights Campaign.

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    • qb:

      of course, what I left out here is the inferential leap that equates refusing to bake for a gay wedding with refusing to bake for gays.

      Yes, that is why I raised the question that I did the other day (which remains unanswered by anyone on the left): Should a Jewish store owner be forced to cater to customers who want to shop on a Saturday? The “discrimination” is not against the customer, it is against the conditions under which the customer wants to do business. Which of course businesses do all the time.

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  36. It is war on Christians and nothing more.

    Yes, QB, we all know that you don’t believe that homosexuals are real people. But a “war on Christians”? Is this like the war on Christmas?

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    • Yes, QB, we all know that you don’t believe that homosexuals are real people. But a “war on Christians”? Is this like the war on Christmas?

      This is what passes on the left for an honest and respectful consideration of opposing views.

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  37. You are something else, Michi. Enjoy your intellectual (heh) solitude. I’ve wasted my last breath and pleasantry on you. No more eleventieth chances.

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  38. Here’s a question: Why in the world would two homosexuals (or anyone, for that matter) who were having a wedding celebration even want to hire a baker or a photographer who objected to the celebration in the first place?

    Oftentimes a vendor or service provider has a monopoly or near monopoly in a region. Here in Maryland, an event transportation vendor who had a distinctive service (trolley service) shut down rather than serve gay weddings, which seems well within his rights to do.

    Should a Jewish store owner be forced to cater to customers who want to shop on a Saturday?

    I shop at B&H Camera in New York where all the employees appear to be Hasidic Jews (which would tend to raise questions about their hiring practices). The store is closed on Saturdays which is inconvenient to tourists like me but once I’m in there, they don’t refuse me service because I’m not Jewish.

    Is there a right to discriminate? And who can it be exercised against?

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    • yello:

      Oftentimes a vendor or service provider has a monopoly or near monopoly in a region.

      Is this actually the case in any of these actual instances? I would bet almost certainly not.

      …and event transportation vendor who had a distinctive service (trolley service) shut down rather than serve gay weddings, which seems well within his rights to do.

      Not serving gay weddings is also well within his rights, although apparently not a right that the state will protect. Indeed, it is a right that the state seems intent on violating.

      The store is closed on Saturdays which is inconvenient to tourists like me but once I’m in there, they don’t refuse me service because I’m not Jewish.

      Right. Which is exactly the analogue to the gay wedding cake issue, and why I asked the question (which you have not actually answered.)

      Is there a right to discriminate?

      A natural right? Of course there is, and it is a right that is exercised all the time by pretty much everyone.

      And who can it be exercised against?

      Anyone. That’s exactly what makes it a “right”.

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  39. Here in Maryland, and event transportation vendor who had a distinctive service (trolley service) shut down rather than serve gay weddings, which seems well within his rights to do

    The liberation movement marches on. Progressivism is so wonderful.

    There’s no possibility of any of these service providers’ having a monopoly, though. None.

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  40. This is what passes on the left for an honest and respectful consideration of opposing views.

    It’s roughly the equivalent of what was said (and continues to be said) about the phrase “war on women”. Just sayin’.

    Reminds me of Kevin’s response to the article I linked about the UMissouri students who organized the rally in support of Michael Sams.

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    • Mich:

      It’s roughly the equivalent of what was said (and continues to be said) about the phrase “war on women”.

      Actually I have attacked the notion of a “war on women” strictly on the merits. And it is a cartoonish falsehood to say that qb thinks gays aren’t real people. A straw man designed to avoid confronting what he actually says.

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  41. Should a LGBT owned restaurant be forced to allow the Westboro Baptist Church’s annual God Hates Fags banquet?

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  42. There’s no possibility of any of these service providers’ having a monopoly, though. None.

    I’ve told this story before but it bears repeating. My wife and I decided to vacation in Mississippi (Why? It’s a long story.) My wife decided the town of Eupora would be a nice place to stay as it was close to the Natchez Trail. The town had two bed and breakfasts. One had religious quotes all over their web page and my wife felt uncomfortable about it so she booked the other B&B which had a policy of only renting to married couples.

    Two days before our trip the owner called me to “confirm” our reservation but she admitted it was really to make sure we weren’t a same-sex couple since my wife’s first name is commonly masculine in some cultures. She had heard Maryland was allowing gay marriage and just wanted to be sure were weren’t one of them.

    It was much too late to rebook somewhere else so we did stay there despite some misgivings. The owner was charming and hospitable and no other mention was made of her religious convictions and how it guided how she operated her business.

    This particular place does not have a monopoly on accommodations since there is an America’s Best Value Inn in the town, but gay couples wanting a romantic honeymoon in central Mississippi might find a hard time getting lodging.

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    • yello:

      It was much too late to rebook somewhere else so we did stay there despite some misgivings.

      You mean if you had more time you might have considered discriminating against this business owner? Do you really think you have a right to do that?

      This particular place does not have a monopoly on accommodations since there is an America’s Best Value Inn in the town…

      In other words, this story tends to support qb’s contention.

      Like

  43. which you have not actually answered

    Like W.MF.C., you just never seem to realize when I have answered your question. Which usually results in asking the question again in hopes of getting a different answer.

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    • yello:

      Like W.MF.C., you just never seem to realize when I have answered your question.

      Telling a story about what does happen when you go to a jewelry store in New York is not an answer to a question about whether a store owner should have to do something he doesn’t actually do. But your reluctance to provide a responsive answer is telling nonetheless. And par for the course.

      Just people without all the rights of straight people.

      Incorrect. I think (and I am sure qb thinks) that gay people have exactly the same rights as straight people. Just as I think that a gay owner of a bakery has a right to refuse to cater a celebration that he is personally opposed to, so too I think that that a straight owner of a bakery has a right to refuse to cater a celebration that he is personally opposed to.

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  44. And it is a cartoonish falsehood to say that qb thinks gays aren’t real people.

    Just people without all the rights of straight people.

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  45. Gayot has four recommendations for Mississippi. I can vouch that Monmouth Plantation is a wonderful place to stay.

    And if anyone want to stay at a lesbian-owned B&B in western North Carolina, a high school friend of mine runs a nice one. She’s a member of the local BBB and says she experiences no discrimination from local merchants.

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  46. Should a LGBT owned restaurant be forced to allow the Westboro Baptist Church’s annual God Hates Fags banquet?

    That one is going to sting.

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    • qb:

      That one is going to sting.

      Perhaps not. I think some people are incapable of setting aside their own personal prejudices and viewing situations objectively. They literally cannot grasp the principle involved. So it won’t sting. It will just baffle them.

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  47. And if anyone want to stay at a lesbian-owned B&B in western North Carolina, a high school friend of mine runs a nice one.

    Given a choice, I would discriminate against her by staying in a different B&B, say a right-wing, fundamentalist, Bible-thumping one.

    Could she sue me? If not, why not?

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  48. Should a LGBT owned restaurant be forced to allow the Westboro Baptist Church’s annual God Hates Fags banquet?

    WBC needs to spend more time cozying up to the ACLU which defends the rights of Nazis to march in Jewish neighborhoods.

    So is the moral equivalence that any random gay couple is as onerous as WBC? What if a LGBT carterer refuses to serve at the Bachmann’s anniversary celebration?

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    • yello:

      So is the moral equivalence that any random gay couple is as onerous as WBC?

      No, the moral equivalence is that both gay people and members of the WBC have the same rights, a notion that you seem to reject.

      What if a LGBT carterer refuses to serve at the Bachmann’s anniversary celebration?

      I think that caterer should be able to legally refuse. Do you?

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  49. Is there a difference betwixt a public street and the Right to Assemble and Rainbow Bakery and Restaurant? If course. And yes, If Joe Shit the Ragpicker doesn’t want to accommodate Bachmann, SFW?

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  50. So it won’t sting. It will just baffle them.

    Witness above.

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  51. So is the moral equivalence that any random gay couple is as onerous as WBC?

    The question you probably want is gay wedding v. God Hates Fags banquet. Why is Ned Flanders compelled to host the first, but Ronnie Rainbow isn’t compelled to host the latter?

    What if a LGBT carterer refuses to serve at the Bachmann’s anniversary celebration?

    For what reason? Does he have some objection to her anniversary?

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    • qb:

      Why is Ned Flanders compelled to host the first, but Ronnie Rainbow isn’t compelled to host the latter?

      The obvious answer is that he personally approves of a gay wedding but does not personally approve of a Gods Hates Fags banquet. There is no objective principle at play here.

      Leftism ultimately is a real danger to principles of freedom and the ability to dissent from cultural norms.

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  52. Liberty is not necessarily a priority with Progressives. It’s more a Freedom from Want type of philosophy. Nothing wrong with it but limiting principles tend to be arbitrary.

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  53. Leftism the ideological enemy of humanity.

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  54. @yellojkt: “He sounds like the kind of guy that should be managing a Walgreens lunch counter.”

    Walgreens does not have lunch counter. And, as far as I know, never refused service at their non-existent lunch counters to African-Americans.

    That being said, we all accept the principal that business owners have some right to pick and choose who they do business with and the manner in which that business takes place. We’re also accept that certain things are not acceptable criteria for refusing business. For example, nobody will sue me over a sign on my door that says: No shoes, so shirt, no service. One that says: “deliveries in the back” is fine as well. One that refuses service to women because we’re a men’s store or wants Asians to enter in the back will not be as acceptable.

    Wedding catering is another thing, and it’s an interesting question. Can I refuse to cater a heterosexual wedding because, say, it’s a nudist wedding, and I don’t think that’s appropriate? Can I refuse to cater a Satan Worshipper’s wedding? Can I refuse to cater a Jewish wedding? Because I don’t like Jewish people?

    It seems to me not to be cut and dried. I feel like I should be able to refuse to cater a stripper wedding where the ceremony is performed by a “preacher” who discusses oral sex in detail during the ceremony, but that I should not really be able to refuse to cater a Methodist wedding because I’m a Baptist.

    And let’s say I don’t cater gay weddings, and the way I don’t cater them is I always suss out that it’s a gay wedding before we start securing the dates, and I always have a conflict. Or I call back with a conflict later on. Is someone going to investigate the way always have a conflict with it’s a groom/groom wedding? Are their fines?

    @qb: BTW, I think leftism is not the enemy of humanity—not even close. It’s opposed to individualism, particularly concepts of promoting individual well being through individual effort, or the idea of individual property. Leftism is not anti-humanity, but pro-collective. It is interested in humanity exclusively as a collective. Where anybody can be anything they want to be as long as it doesn’t conflict with the interests of the state, or the collective.

    Like

    • Kevin:

      I feel like I should be able to refuse to cater a stripper wedding where the ceremony is performed by a “preacher” who discusses oral sex in detail during the ceremony, but that I should not really be able to refuse to cater a Methodist wedding because I’m a Baptist.

      Why? Why shouldn’t you be able to refuse to cater a Methodist wedding because you are a Baptist (or, frankly, for any reason whatsoever)? Why should the government be able to dictate to you whether and how you do business with Methodists, but not whether and how you do business with nudists or Satan worshippers?

      Like

  55. Can I refuse to cater a heterosexual wedding because, say, it’s a nudist wedding

    I would if they were going to hold the ceremony in a church. I’m traditional enough that I really, really don’t like bare shoulders inside a house of worship.

    Like

  56. @ScottC: “Why? Why shouldn’t you be able to refuse to cater a Methodist wedding because you are a Baptist (or, frankly, for any reason whatsoever)? Why should the government be able to dictate to you whether and how you do business with Methodists, but not whether and how you do business with nudists or Satan worshippers?”

    It’s a good question, one to which I’m not sure there’s a perfect answer. Should a Methodist hospital be able to refuse a needed blood transfusion to a Baptist? If not, why not? Isn’t it a business in the same sense? From a strictly libertarian viewpoint, I tend to agree: a business should be able to do business with whomever it wishes on whatever terms it wishes, and any pressure should come from the customers. That is, if you don’t serve African-Americans, then I don’t frequent your establishment. Because I don’t approve.

    Still, I sense there is a point at which we feel that part of the price of being in business is following regulations that include some equal access, especially if you are a retail business. Whether moral or traditional, this tends to be the case. I think we also feel (generally) that equal access involves certain things like not discriminating based on race or religion, but does include other things like refusing to serve someone who is filthy or naked or beneath an arbitrary age limit (say, I could open a bar called Over 30 for people who were over 30 years old, and I probably would be fine, but if I opened a bar called Whitey that was exclusively for white people, I’d have more trouble, especially if I was in an area that involved routinely turing away African-Americans).

    Which is all an issue about what government can and cannot tell us what to do, but seems to me to be based less on some overarching principal and more on what, culturally, we’re currently comfortable with.

    Like

    • Kevin:

      It’s a good question, one to which I’m not sure there’s a perfect answer.

      I don’t think there is any answer, apart from an appeal to personal preference. Which destroys the notion of law as an objective arbiter of justice.

      Should a Methodist hospital be able to refuse a needed blood transfusion to a Baptist?

      If it is a private hospital, yes.

      Still, I sense there is a point at which we feel…

      I don’t think it makes any sense to talk about how “we” feel. The whole problem exists because “we” don’t feel any single way about the issue. Different people feel different ways about it, and it is precisely that fact, along with the desire to use law to force those who disagree to abandon their belief, that creates the conflict.

      Which is all an issue about what government can and cannot tell us what to do, but seems to me to be based less on some overarching principal and more on what, culturally, we’re currently comfortable with.

      The trouble is that what government can and cannot tell us what to do is supposed to be dictated by the constitution, not by what “we” are “culturally comfortable with”. It is most definitely true that our current state of law with regard to this issue is not based on any overarching principle. Which is precisely the problem.

      One troubling aspect of using law to impose what “we” are “culturally comfortable with” is that it heightens rather than alleviates cultural conflicts and tensions. Because in reality there is no unified “we”. Using the law to impose certain cultural beliefs on others is useful only when some of “we” actually are not comfortable with it, but others of “we” want to impose our “comfort” on them nonetheless. And this forces people who otherwise would be content to live in peace by their own values in their own lives to have a vested interest in waging the wider cultural battle.

      Like

  57. @ScottC: “I don’t think it makes any sense to talk about how “we” feel.”

    I think generalized feelings about things where a majority share a typical sense of comfort or discomfort with something has a huge influence on both what issues get advanced and how things are interpreted. The Supreme Court doesn’t find new laws in the penumbras of the Constitution because nobody cares about it. Which is what I mean by what “we” feel: because I think most people are comfortable with the government saying you don’t get to tell one ethnicity or the other that they have to ride on the back of the bus. But they don’t like the idea of me telling a fancy restaurant they can’t require a suit and tie or dinner. Right now. Not everybody will be in 100% agreement, but I think the general momentum of “feeling” has a lot to do with what ends up happening.

    I’ve mentioned before the intuitive logic of feelings is often incorrect with measured objectively, so making these decisions based on feelings is probably unwise.

    Like

    • Kevin:

      I think generalized feelings about things where a majority share a typical sense of comfort or discomfort with something has a huge influence on both what issues get advanced and how things are interpreted.

      On some things, yes, but talking about the way “we” feel about something tends to obscure the fact that there is a substantial number of “us” who actually don’t. Which is precisely the source of conflict. (Well, that and those who feel the need to impose how they feel on everyone else.)

      Not everybody will be in 100% agreement, but I think the general momentum of “feeling” has a lot to do with what ends up happening.

      Yes, and my argument is that except within a narrow band of constitutionally defined areas, it shouldn’t. The whole point of freedom, and of having a government with limited power, is that the minority is protected from having the “feelings” of the majority imposed upon them at will.

      Like

      • @ScottC: On some things, yes, but talking about the way “we” feel about something tends to obscure the fact that there is a substantial number of “us” who actually don’t.

        Again, I think it’s not a universal “we”, it’s a “majority” we or a “powerful minority” we. A sort of “trend setter” “urban elite” we, sometimes, but by-and-large politics is emotion, and so is jurisprudence in the gray areas of life. Same sex marriage is not going to become “the law of the land” because the Constitution demands it or it legally makes sense or anything else . . . it’s going to become law because enough people emotionally feel like it’s fine and it’s a good idea. And some of them feel there is real discrimination and injustice in the fact that homosexuals can’t get married.

        And of course some people feel that there is real injustice that there are any social constructs or rules (that aren’t completely fungible) left at all. And then whatever logic or rhetoric is made in support of the case is in service of emotion, rather than logic or justice or other guiding principles.

        The whole point of freedom, and of having a government with limited power, is that the minority is protected from having the “feelings” of the majority imposed upon them at will.

        While not at will (if it were “at will”, we would have had gay marriage during the Clinton admin, instead of the DOMA), I think it’s impossible to get everybody signed on to a government with limited powers. Too many on the right want a government with robust powers for military action and espionage and perhaps even domestic spying (on terrorists), and too many on the left want a government with robust powers for taxing the rich, equalizing incomes and outcomes, ensuring non-discrimination, redistributing wealth, enforcing moral behaviors (energy conservation, recycling, non-smoking, etc) . . . and they all end up whittling away at whatever limits on government power are left, making it easy for the government to impose whatever contemporary emotional morality is de rigueur.

        Like

        • Kevin:

          Again, I think it’s not a universal “we”, it’s a “majority” we…

          Agreed. Which is why I would avoid saying “we” and instead say “a majority”.

          if it were “at will”, we would have had gay marriage during the Clinton admin, instead of the DOMA

          I don’t think there was majority support for SSM back during Clinton’s term. That is exactly why politicians like Obama pretended to oppose it for so long, because they knew it was an electoral loser until very recently.

          Like

  58. I think it’s safe to say that those of us who support SSM are now in the majority:

    Half of all Americans believe that gay men and lesbians have a constitutional right to marry, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll in which a large majority also said businesses should not be able to deny serving gays for religious reasons.

    Fifty percent say the U.S. Constitution’s guarantee of equal protection gives gays the right to marry, while 41 percent say it does not.

    Beyond the constitutional questions, a record-high 59 percent say they support same-sex marriage, while 34 percent are opposed, the widest margin tracked in Post-ABC polling.

    The poll was conducted in the wake of a series of rulings by federal judges that state bans on same-sex marriage and prohibitions on recognizing marriages performed elsewhere are unconstitutional.

    Emphasis mine.

    Like

  59. Walgreens does not have lunch counter. And, as far as I know, never refused service at their non-existent lunch counters to African-Americans.

    They used to. And they were kinda a big deal at the time

    Walgreens Lunch Counter

    Like

  60. @Michigoose: “Half of all Americans believe that gay men and lesbians have a constitutional right to marry”

    A constitutional right to marry? Oh, for Pete’s sake. No, they want gay people to be able to get married, so they’ve decided to find it in the ever-shifting penumbra of the constitution.

    I don’t have a problem with gay marriage, per se. But it’s not in the goddamned constitution. Unless, I guess, we’re all using the power of our i m a g i n a t i o n . . . 🙂

    Like

    • Kevin:

      But it’s not in the goddamned constitution. Unless, I guess, we’re all using the power of our i m a g i n a t i o n . . .

      Yes, or what is otherwise known as progressive jurisprudence.

      Like

  61. @yellojkt: “They used to. And they were kinda a big deal at the time”

    Well, shit. I was thinking it was Woolworth’s and you were confused. It turned out, it was I that was confused. Walgreen’s did have the lunch counters (and apparently closed them for public safety, rather than serve African-Americans), not just Woolworth’s.

    I should know better than to trust my brain to tell me things.

    Like

    • I was thinking it was Woolworth’s and you were confused. It turned out, it was I that was confused. Walgreen’s did have the lunch counters (and apparently closed them for public safety, rather than serve African-Americans), not just Woolworth’s.

      Nearly all drug stores had lunch counters at the time and almost all the ones in The South were segregated. When I visited Winterset, Iowa (yes, I find myself in all sorts of obscure places) one of the claims to fame besides being the setting of The Bridges Of Madison County was that the local pharmacy still had a full service grille and soda counter. I don’t have photos of that particular drug store but here are some of The Bridges and The Town including the diner stool Clint Eastwood sat on:

      IMG_0671

      Like

  62. Half of all Americans believe that gay men and lesbians have a constitutional right to marry, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll in which a large majority also said businesses should not be able to deny serving gays for religious reasons.

    Fifty percent say the U.S. Constitution’s guarantee of equal protection gives gays the right to marry, while 41 percent say it does not.

    Large percentages of people believe all sorts of nonsensical things. Poll them on some questions of Einstein v. Newton and see what happens, or the niceties of quantum mechanics. That would be equally enlightening.

    Beyond the constitutional questions, a record-high 59 percent say they support same-sex marriage, while 34 percent are opposed, the widest margin tracked in Post-ABC polling.

    (1) Large measure of bs, because people now are reluctant to answer candidly. It’s remarkable what a few years of screaming “bigot” at people can accomplish.

    (2) Another measure is reason to despair. First, a few people lost their minds. Second, that losing of minds is contagious. Again, screaming “bigot” tends to overwhelm any logical facutly or moral reasoning capacity.

    The poll was conducted in the wake of a series of rulings by federal judges that state bans on same-sex marriage and prohibitions on recognizing marriages performed elsewhere are unconstitutional

    (1) So the results could reflect that people are answering the constitutional question based on court rulings, not what they actually think.
    (2) But otherwise it just reflects the heuristic effect of rulings by courts, in this case aggressively activist judges acting in ultra vires fashion that should subject them to impeachment. Again, screaming “bigot” at people is effective, even when it is Justice Kennedy doing it.

    Like

  63. A constitutional right to marry? Oh, for Pete’s sake. No, they want gay people to be able to get married, so they’ve decided to find it in the ever-shifting penumbra of the constitution.

    Kevin–I’m not claiming that those folks are all constitutional scholars! 🙂

    Like

  64. @Michigoose: “Kevin–I’m not claiming that those folks are all constitutional scholars!.”

    My ranting was not directed at you, just the whole thing. I have a constitutional right to Internet Access! It’s right in there!

    But, yes, public opinion has shifted in favor of same-sex marriage, and as such I think it’s pretty much inevitable at this point.

    But we don’t have a constitutional right to whatever we’ve decided is awesome in the moment. Sheesh! 😉

    Like

  65. @quarterback: “Large percentages of people believe all sorts of nonsensical things. Poll them on some questions of Einstein v. Newton and see what happens, or the niceties of quantum mechanics. That would be equally enlightening.”

    But not interesting, since it’s not a momentum-building exercise in advancing a particular agenda. But they’ve done man-on-the-street things that suggest people often don’t know who our current president is. They certainly can’t name the vice-president. And you wonder: these people never watch Jimmy Fallon or Saturday Night Live?

    @qb: “Large measure of bs, because people now are reluctant to answer candidly. It’s remarkable what a few years of screaming “bigot” at people can accomplish.”

    While true, we don’t like cognitive dissonance. Thus, it becomes less of a reluctance to answer candidly, and more of an actual transformation of our opinion into something more enlightened. We “grow” in our position and decide that, sure, we support it, why not? I would also argue there has been a serious transformation. Trace the progress from Will and Grace to Modern Family and the coming out of folks like Neil Patrick Harris and Jim Parsons and Ian McKellan and Ellen Degeneres, even. Much of the public sees gay couples as being Mitchell and Cam on Modern Family and they are so cute and loving, why shouldn’t they get married?

    There is a real cultural shift going on, and it’s not all about yelling “bigot”. People need positive incentives, too: has to be carrot and a stick. And casting Neil Patrick Harris as a womanizing scoundrel and the entire structure of Modern Family is the positive cultural propaganda, and it’s having its impact.

    Modern Family is perfect pro-gay marriage propaganda, in the classic sense. From the name of the show (this is what a modern family is like; meaning that this is the natural and normal form of a modern family, and you are anachronistic if you do not accept this definition of family living) to Ed O’Neil as a manly man who is a man who gets along well with his gay son and his domestic partner while still being the most masculine guy on the show. See? It doesn’t make you any less heterosexual or manly to be around gay couples or tacitly endorse gay marriage! In fact you can be an old masculine manly man and be married to a hot young Colombian chick—that’s what happens to manly men who are cool with gay marriage. Hot sex with fiery Colombian super models!

    And, of course, the show is funny as hell, so it’s imminently watchable, and thus operates as a perfect vehicle for influencing popular opinion. Which then spreads through osmosis.

    And that’s just one thing in operation. Lots of other cultural influences in play (from Girls Gone Wild to Katy Perry’s “I Kissed a Girl”, etc).I think for the most part it’s a sincere shift, and people without political dogs in that fight are mostly likely to shrug and say: What difference does it make to me if two dudes or two chicks get married to each other?

    Again, screaming “bigot” tends to overwhelm any logical facutly or moral reasoning capacity.

    In the general public, I think it’s more Modern Family and “I know two gay chicks and they are awesome and they are nicer to each other than my boyfriend ever was to me, why shouldn’t they get to get married?” than it is the “we’re queer, we’re here, and we’re in your face” crowd screaming “bigot” at folks. I think that sometimes works against them.

    So the results could reflect that people are answering the constitutional question based on court rulings, not what they actually think.

    Then the results reflect that people cannot answer a factual question without being overwhelmed by their own subjective narcissism. The question seems to be “do people have a constitutional right”, but “should gay people be able to get married”? The answer is the constitution does not provide for any right for homosexuals to get married and be legally recognized as such. I don’t see anything that prevents it, but it’s not a right enshrined in the constitution. Not even in the commerce clause.

    Like

    • Kevin:

      The question seems [not] to be “do people have a constitutional right”, but “should gay people be able to get married”?

      I think that for a wide swath of the voting public, they quite literally cannot distinguish between the two questions. The questions are are, to such people, simply two different ways of asking exactly the same thing. This is the result of the left’s success in destroying any objective meaning in the constitution, and transforming it into a text that can mean pretty much anything that one wants it to mean.

      As I said a few weeks ago, beyond some possible tweaks to the operational aspects of government, I doubt we will ever see another substantive policy amendment to the constitution again. The amendment process has become largely irrelevant, because if one wants to alter the constitution, it is now much easier and more efficient to simply appoint judges who will claim that the document has “evolved” into what one wants it to say.

      Like

      • doubt we will ever see another substantive policy amendment to the constitution again. The amendment process has become largely irrelevant, because if one wants to alter the constitution, it is now much easier and more efficient to simply appoint judges who will claim that the document has “evolved” into what one wants it to say.

        This place needs a like button!

        Again, I have nothing to add, but have to reply in order to make it clear I think you are exactly right. And . . . well said! Hear, hear! Etc.

        Like

  66. Kdub,

    Yes, surely the positive propaganda campaign, which is relentless and deafening, is a key part of the scheme. But the continuous screams of “bigot” and “discrimination” and “segregation” and “hate” are what make people reluctant to say or defend the truth. I’ve got a good bit of anecdotal evidence from personal experience on this (other people who tell me they are afraid to speak up any more).

    And I agree that the overwhelmed resolve and conscience of many soon takes the turn of, “Oh, what the hell, why fight.” That’s why a key message of the radicals was always, from the start, “we are inevitable, you can’t win, etc.”

    Scott,

    As I said a few weeks ago, beyond some possible tweaks to the operational aspects of government, I doubt we will ever see another substantive policy amendment to the constitution again. The amendment process has become largely irrelevant, because if one wants to alter the constitution, it is now much easier and more efficient to simply appoint judges who will claim that the document has “evolved” into what one wants it to say.

    This, exactly. I’ve said this for many years. Not long after I reached that conclusion, faced with the reality that so many 20th century decisions flout the Constitution, some progs actually adopted the position that they are legitimate amendments “ratified” by the public in not revolting and overturning them.

    Like

  67. Bruce Ackerman was one of the first progs to try to make a virtue of the vice Scott highlights. Here is what his series of ponderous tomes says: we didn’t need no more stinking “formal” amendments, because “we the people” elected FDR so he could bully the Court into letting him fundamentally transform the constitutional order (and ignore the actual Constitution).

    http://www.hup.harvard.edu/catalog.php?isbn=9780674003972

    That’s how we roll now. No more amendments. Since we elected Obama, we “politically” amended the Constitution to allow Obamacare to stand.

    Like

    • qb:

      I think it would be an interesting exercise to go back through the existing amendments, particularly post-15th amendments, and analyze the issue under current liberal legal philosophy. I don’t doubt that many of them would be entirely unnecessary. jnc pointed out the other day that the 18th need never have been passed because through the commerce clause congress has the authority to prohibit alcohol sales. And surely women could have won the right to vote under the equal protection clause rather than going through hassle of passing the 19th amendment. Especially if congress simply declared women to be a “suspect class”. The 24th is unnecessary, since a poll tax could surely have been shown to have a disparate impact on blacks, thus making it unconstitutional also under the equal protection clause. And I am sure if we get some creative liberal minds at work, we can discover emanations of penumbras that allowed – nay require! – the imposition of a federal income tax even before the passage of the 16th.

      Like

  68. Scott,

    Yes, I think you are right. The court could have rationalized its way to the 16th (income tax) as easily as it upheld the Ocare mandate. More easily, actually.

    Like

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