Chaos Manor View, Friday, June 26, 2015
There’s good news at home, and not very good news nationally. But perseverance fixed my computer problems, and that is what it will take to remedy the recent Supreme Court decisions. We need to keep a Senate Majority, get a sane President, and wait. This Liberal Court does not believe in the Constitution, nor, the evidence indicates, in black letter law. We’re back to emanations and penumbras and SCOTUS has asserted a supremacy that it does not have.
We’ve lived through Constitutional crises before, and Hamilton was right in the Federalist, the courts are the weakest branch of government. They have asserted legislative powers before, sometimes getting away with it and sometimes not; we have to see to it that they do not get away with it this time.
There’s a problem: While the Court assertion of legislative authority is dangerous, on some issues it is nearly irrelevant. Gay marriage is one of them: while it is unlikely that Congress would assert a right to gay marriage anytime soon, a lot of Members feel relief that they won’t be called upon to vote on the issue. The swings in public opinion are wide, and cases like the elderly bakers run out of business for refusing to bake a gay wedding cake will produce more swings, but the direction is clear. Very few – almost no one – would deny the legal rights associated with marriage to gay couples, and many places tried to substitute what amounted to marriage in all but name, preserving the word “marriage” to its ancient meaning, one man and one woman. That was not enough, and thus the Court found in the Constitution (as amended) a right to marriage that would have been abhorrent to the Framers, and to those who adopted the amendments. It is only recently that legislatures have been willing to legalize gay marriage, and not all of them have done so; yet it is clearly a legislative matter. It is also clearly a matter for the states. The Constitution gives Congress no power to define marriage nor the Federal Government no power to perform weddings.
As a practical matter it took that power to itself, and no one really objected. Perhaps they should have.
In any event, since (I believe) a vast majority now accepts the idea that gays are entitled to civil union indistinguishable from marriage, it leaves little to fight over; still, it ought to be left to Congress and the State legislatures. Courts are to interpret laws and apply laws; in some cases perhaps to discover laws (common law marriage as an example); but legislatures make law, and when you remove that distinction you put into danger the notion of the rule of law; a government of laws, not men; and that is extremely dangerous. Rule of law is essential to stable government.
The ancients, and some moderns, knew and know that good government is a blessing, and a rare one at that. These court decisions undermine the rules that have given these United States the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity; we strike at that heritage to our peril. We sow the wind.
Meanwhile at Chaos Manor, we had many adventures with the Surface Pro 3 and its experimental Windows 10. It isn’t worth recounting the full story, but it consumed the day: I could not make it see Wi-Fi networks, and after a while it wouldn’t even turn Wi-Fi on.
Eventually I used the docking station to get it to connect to the Internet with an Ethernet connection, and as it fought me all the way, I tried to refresh, then update, the Surface Pro. It wouldn’t refresh but it finally decided to update. That took a long time, and was fitful, but eventually I had Build 10130 of the trial Windows 10. I took it out of the docking station (and thus off the Internet, no Ethernet) and restarted it, and Lo! It searched networks, found the new Wi-Fi, and once I typed in the password it worked fine, or seems to. I am about to take it into the breakfast room to play with as I eat lunch. More later, but it looks good.
Back after lunch.
1600: The Surface 3 Pro works very well. I need a mouse – I don’t manipulate a stylus well, and right-clicking is a real chore – but that’s me. I make no doubt that most of you would make do nicely without. Anyway I am looking at offers of wireless mouses for the Surface 3 Pro, and also for a good messenger bag carry case for it. I’m in no hurry.
In the breakfast room I was able to use it just fine for everything: looking at news, making notes, Word. The keyboard is no harder to use than this comfort-curve, and actually might be better.The keys are larger. I had problems correcting mistakes because of my clumsiness in using the stylus for right clicks, but I may have made fewer errors, too. OneNote and a good tablet make wonderful research tools, and this new build of Windows 10 works – all the infuriating problems of the Surface 3 Pro seem to be gone – works well so far. I haven’t used it enough to be sure, but this moves far towards recommended status.
Microsoft is infuriating, but this is the third mark of this tablet/laptop and it begins to look as if they may be getting there. I want to experiment with using it as a tablet, without keyboard; and get more familiar with this way of doing things, but my first impression was favorable – after the frustrations of the last weeks – and I can hope we’re on the way to a beautiful friendship.
If I have to produce a lot on the road, and particularly if I am holding the machine in my lap, I think I would still prefer a MacBook Air (for ease of carrying) or a ThinkPad ( for usefulness) but I now am not sure that’s a permanent preference. The Surface Pro 3 – I haven’t given him a permanent name, but he’s earned one and it will come soon – with OneNote begins to look as if it could be what I’ve wanted all my life: something that just works. Of course they may improve it and scuttle that opinion…
So: I’m looking for a carry case messenger bag, and for a good wireless mouse that will travel with the Surface Pro 3. Suggestions welcome.
ISIS once more demonstrates why it cannot be allowed to exist.
Day of terror: Islamist attacks around world follow ISIS’ Ramadan message
Terrorists gunned down dozens of tourists on a Tunisian beach, left a severed head atop a fence outside a French factory and blew up a Kuwaiti mosque Friday in a bloody wave of attacks that followed an ISIS leader’s call to make the month of Ramadan a time of “calamity for the infidels.”
I recommend this article on the nearly forgotten Druze:
Israel’s Druse Minority Shows Unity With Its Syrian Kin
Minority presses prime minister to intervene as brethren in Syria clash with Islamists
Members of the Druse community carry flags at they walk toward the border fence between Syria and the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, near the Druse village of Majdal Shams, to watch the fighting in Syria on June 16. Photo: baz ratner/Reuters
Updated June 25, 2015 7:23 p.m. ET
HURFEISH, Israel—The men of this Druse village in the Galilee mountains proudly don shirts from their days in elite Israeli combat units. But now they fear the same military is helping Islamist rebels in neighboring Syria who fight the pro-regime Druse minority.
Druse straddle both sides of the contentious border and many of them in Israel accuse the military of quietly allying with Islamist rebels to topple Syrian President Bashar al-Assad while many Syrian Druse are fighting for the Assad regime.
The article gives some introductory background on the Druze. Druze to not allow conversion, so they are not proselytizing; and those who live in Israel are not only citizens, but many are police and security officers. Only the elders know the full extent of Druze beliefs; some of the religion is secret, even from most of its members. The Druze position in the Lebanon settlement is Chief of Staff of the armed forces.
The President of the Republic is always a Maronite Catholic. The Prime Minister of the Republic is always a Sunni Muslim. The Speaker of the Parliament is always a Shi’a Muslim. The Deputy Speaker of the Parliament and the Deputy Prime Minister are always Greek Orthodox Christian. The Chief of the General Staff is always a Druze. Parliament members are always in a ratio of 6:5 in favour of Christians to Muslims
Under this agreement Lebanon thrived, and Beirut became “The Paris of the Middle East.”
Editor’s note: Below are excerpts from Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia’s dissenting opinion in the ObamaCare case King v. Burwell; on Thursday the court ruled 6-3 for the Obama administration. A related editorial appears nearby.
The Court holds that when the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act says “Exchange established by the State” it means “Exchange established by the State or the Federal Government.” That is of course quite absurd, and the Court’s 21 pages of explanation make it no less so. . . .
This case requires us to decide whether someone who buys insurance on an Exchange established by the Secretary gets tax credits. You would think the answer would be obvious—so obvious there would hardly be a need for the Supreme Court to hear a case about it. . . .
Words no longer have meaning if an Exchange that is not established by a State is “established by the State.” It is hard to come up with a clearer way to limit tax credits to state Exchanges than to use the words “established by the State.” And it is hard to come up with a reason to include the words “by the State” other than the purpose of limiting credits to state Exchanges. . . .
The Court interprets §36B to award tax credits on both federal and state Exchanges. It accepts that the “most natural sense” of the phrase “Exchange established by the State” is an Exchange established by a State. (Understatement, thy name is an opinion on the Affordable Care Act!) Yet the opinion continues, with no semblance of shame, that “it is also possible that the phrase refers to all Exchanges—both State and Federal.” (Impossible possibility, thy name is an opinion on the Affordable Care Act!) The Court claims that “the context and structure of the Act compel [it] to depart from what would otherwise be the most natural reading of the pertinent statutory phrase.”
The entire dissent is worth reading,
For the second time in three years, Chief Justice John Roberts has rewritten the Affordable Care Act in order to save it. Beyond its implications for health care, the Court’s 6-3 ruling in King v. Burwell is a landmark that betrays the Chief’s vow to be “an umpire,” not a legislator in robes. He stands revealed as a most political Justice.
The black-letter language of ObamaCare limits insurance subsidies to “an Exchange established by the State.” But the Democrats who wrote the bill in 2010 never imagined that 36 states would refuse to participate. So the White House through the IRS wrote a regulation that also opened the subsidy spigots to exchanges established by the federal government.
Chief Justice Roberts has now become a co-conspirator in this executive law-making. With the verve of a legislator, he has effectively amended the statute to read “established by the State—or by the way the Federal Government.” His opinion—joined by the four liberal Justices and Anthony Kennedy—is all the more startling because it goes beyond normal deference to regulators.
Freedom is not free. Free men are not equal. Equal men are not free.