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Popcorn time!

Recently, one of the people I’ve met in my travels this semester wrote to me and asked whether I’ve been reading David Horowitz’s blog lately.  “Uh, no,” I replied, “I don’t read FrontPage voluntarily, because its color scheme makes my eyes bleed.” And then there’s the, you know, actual content, which usually makes me wish that the giant enlightened insects with really good musical taste will hurry up and take over our planet already.

But I took a deep breath and clicked, and lo!  My old friend David, co-author of the groundbreaking The Shadow Party: How George Soros, Hillary Clinton, and Sixties Radicals Seized Control of the Democratic Party, the book that finally exposed The Left’s plan to seize control of the government and rewrite the U.S. Constitution, appears to have spent the past couple of weeks dealing with a bunch of nutcases. Yes, He Who is battling the Birth Certificate Obsessives!  The people who believe that B. Hussein al-Obama—born in Kenya, educated in an Indonesian Madrassa, and then schooled in Marxist theory by Frank Marshall Davis—got George Soros to forge his birth certificate so that he could seize control of the government and rewrite the U.S. Constitution!  It’s like a world festival of crazee talk over there in the comment section, I tell you.

And Horowitz is understandably frustrated:

The continuing efforts of a fringe group of conservatives to deny Obama his victory and to lay the basis for the claim that he is not a legitimate president is embarrassing and destructive. The fact that these efforts are being led by Alan Keyes, an unhinged demagogue on the political fringe who lost a senate election to the then unknown Obama by 42 points should be a warning in itself.

All well and good, but I have to say that I find two of Horowitz’s counterarguments kind of weak. The first is this:

Assuming for the sake of the argument that Obama is not a natural citizen of the United States, the question is: what are the consequences of having 9 appointed justices—or more likely 5 of 9 justices—tell 64 million voters that their votes don’t count? Would our constitutional democracy survive such a conflict, and then would our Constitution? Ultimately, the answer to these questions lies with the people. They are the ultimate authority not some abstract Rule of Law because the Rule of Law is in any case ajudicated [sic] and enforced by (highly political) men and women, while the people in its majority have it in their power to destroy the Rule of Law if they so will. The Constitution itself recognizes this fact by giving the people the right to amend it by a two-thirds vote. This is itself a recognition that the Rule of Law is an institution of men and women.

Wow.  Who knew that David Horowitz was such a radical legal constructivist?  Just substitute “the Rule of Law” for “soylent green” in this clip, and you’ll get the full pathos of Horowitz’s argument here:

OK, so let’s just say that political theory isn’t Horowitz’s strong suit.  Neither is spelling.  But what’s really notable here is the premise: assuming for the sake of the argument that Obama is not a natural citizen of the United States.  This is a little like saying, “assuming for the sake of argument that Hillary killed Vince Foster with her own hands,” in the sense that (a) it takes seriously an article of wingnuttery that should be roundly ridiculed and then led out of the room quietly, and (b) thereby constitutes an open invitation to the world festival of crazee talk.

The second counterargument is much tastier, because it involves Horowitz’s efforts to save the unhinged right from behaving like . . . The Left!

Consider the bitterness, the pathological hatred of Bush, the sabotage of America’s war effort by Democrats who believed that his election was illegitimate. Consider the 2 month delay this caused in the transition to the new administration and how that affected our inability to prevent 9/11 (the comprehensive counter-terrorism plan commissioned by Bush arrived on his desk on 9/10).

You know, these are things we really should consider.  I know, in all honesty, that I’ve never really stopped to consider how Democrats’ craven attempts to determine just who won Florida in 2000 affected our inability to prevent 9/11.  But Horowitz has a point: those two months could have been critical.  A look back at George Bush’s to-do list for 2001 strongly suggests that if Democrats had just behaved themselves instead of being a great big pathological bunch of crybabies, the World Trade Center would still be standing today:

February: cut taxes.
April: gut public school system.
June: seekrit energy policy time!  (Dick, Dick’s friends)
July: Crawford—cut back brush
August: more brush.  Congratulate CIA briefer for covering his ass.  Golf.
September-October: craft bold sweeping counterterrorism policy that will prevent attacks on American soil and destroy al-Qaeda forever!!!  Win!!

See?  He was just getting around to it . . . or, more precisely, he would have gotten around to it, if not for Al Gore, David Boies, and the rest of the Defeatocrats who began sabotaging our war effort in November 2000.

Still, credit where credit is due: in taking on the Birth Certificate Truthers, David Horowitz is fighting the good fight.  Badly, sure, but what did you expect?  Praise the lord and pass the popcorn already.

Posted by on 12/09 at 09:10 AM
  1. And in the second part of your first link he is taking on the myth that forced government lending to poor and black people caused the financial meltdown.

    It’s like now that Obama has been elected he’s relooking at (some) of the crazy premises he accepted in the past. I wish I had some pithy way of expressing that.

    Posted by  on  12/09  at  12:16 PM
  2. Wait, I want to hear more about those supposedly “enlightened” insects.  What kind of music do they like, anyway?

    Okay, since my capcha ("wag") is mocking me, I better add something relatively on point.  I was at first surprised to see He Who say that mean thing about Keyes, who at least speaks in complete sentences.  But I think his reference to Keyes’s margin of defeat is key to understanding not only that but this spurning of the birth-cert crazies (whom Michelle Malkin also spurns): wingnuts choose whom to (I hate this phrase) throw under the bus *not* based on how crazy they (the throwees) are, but on how much of a *loser* they are.  If birther lawsuits had any chance, he’d be all over them.

    Wait, that says “way,” not “wag.” Never mind.

    Posted by Dave M  on  12/09  at  01:00 PM
  3. Michael,

    Thanks for deciding to return to blogging.  We really enjoy your writing.

    Sincerely,

    Robota

    Posted by  on  12/09  at  01:09 PM
  4. And in the second part of your first link he is taking on the myth that forced government lending to poor and black people caused the financial meltdown.

    I know, it’s like he’s playing Wingnut Whack-a-Mole over there.  How to put that pithily?  Wingnut Whack-an-Aspect-of-a-Previous-Self?

    I want to hear more about those supposedly “enlightened” insects.  What kind of music do they like, anyway?

    They agree with me about four out of these five, but they think positions 1 and 2 should be reversed and they never got the whole Belle and Sebastian thing.

    wingnuts choose whom to (I hate this phrase) throw under the bus *not* based on how crazy they (the throwees) are, but on how much of a *loser* they are

    True dat!  And I am so throwing “throwing under the bus” under the bus.

    Posted by Michael  on  12/09  at  01:14 PM
  5. Wait, so are all of these insects British, or just their musical taste?  I want to see birth certificates for each of them...and (after reading the comments to that Horowitz blog) perhaps their YMCA membership cards.

    Posted by Derek  on  12/09  at  01:47 PM
  6. Where, exactly, in the Constitution, are we given the power to destroy the rule of law?  Oh, yeah, Article VI, in the pitchforks and torches clause.

    Posted by Lance  on  12/09  at  01:55 PM
  7. Nice post, but are you getting paid ? If you write on He Who w/o the coin, you’re undercutting R Farley’s whiskey sour budget. Solidarity!

    Posted by John Protevi  on  12/09  at  01:56 PM
  8. Not that it’s completely relevant, but I went back to review some of the 9/11 stuff and came across this gem from Condi (I was looking for the BS on Richard Clarke not giving them an “operational” plan or whatever):

    In the memorandum that Dick Clarke sent me on January 25th, he mentions sleeper cells. There is no mention or recommendation of anything that needs to be done about them. And the FBI was pursuing them. And usually when things come to me it’s because I’m supposed to do something about it, and there was no indication that the FBI was not adequately pursuing the sleeper cells

    The memo she is mentioning is the one where Clarke had written “We urgently need such a Principals level review on the al Qida network.” History will not be kind, right? (I’m surprised that they didn’t claim that they would have acted, but his spelling threw them off.)

    Posted by  on  12/09  at  02:01 PM
  9. If they’re sleeping what’s the big deal? It’s when they wake up grumpy we need to worry about it.

    e.

    Posted by  on  12/09  at  02:11 PM
  10. Oh, yeah, Article VI, in the pitchforks and torches clause.

    Right, and as D.H. correctly points out, two-thirds of the people need to be carrying pitchforks and/or torches.

    The Constitution also stipulates the exact price of a seat in the United States Senate, and this blog unequivocally denounces Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich for attempting to renegotiate that price unilaterally.

    Posted by Michael  on  12/09  at  04:15 PM
  11. The comments section to He Who’s blog is pretty strong evidence that the universe consists of alternate, intersecting realities.

    Posted by  on  12/09  at  04:49 PM
  12. I wonder if He Who was influenced positively towards Obama by his late daughter…

    Link to FrontPage obituary of Sarah Horowitz:
    http://tinyurl.com/2bb9ly

    Posted by  on  12/09  at  05:50 PM
  13. already working on “Blago the Musical” as we speak

    e.

    Posted by  on  12/09  at  05:51 PM
  14. I wonder if He Who was influenced positively towards Obama by his late daughter…

    Thanks for that link, Exurban Mom. What a lovely person.

    Posted by Helen  on  12/09  at  07:20 PM
  15. Suffice it to say he knows more about the economy than anyone posting to this <i>threat...”

    Also, “reign” in, etc… (My italics)

    Oh, my goodness.

    This man is an academic?

    Posted by Helen  on  12/09  at  07:29 PM
  16. Further entertainment in the greater HeWhoisphere:

    http://edgeofthewest.wordpress.com/2008/12/09/theres-really-no-rational-argument-that-could-shake-folks-like-noon/

    Posted by  on  12/09  at  08:02 PM
  17. An academic? Of course not. They never misspell anything. (ever - as my capcha says.)

    Posted by The Ridger  on  12/09  at  08:07 PM
  18. Yeh, Exurb, DH’s eulogy for his disabled Leftist daughter is a moving piece, in no small part because she seems to have been an awesome individual.  Good on him for expressing warmly humane and respectful feelings toward her, but I honestly don’t see how those feelings have ever mitigated the zeal of his work as a propagandist.

    Posted by  on  12/09  at  09:24 PM
  19. Whohe - if you say it backwards it sounds like a hog call

    Posted by  on  12/09  at  10:38 PM
  20. I wonder if He Who was influenced positively towards Obama by his late daughter…

    Wow.  I had no idea.  And good on Horowitz for expressing warmly humane and respectful feelings toward his daughter, full stop.  Thanks for letting me know of the existence of that obituary, Exurban Mom.  It sounds as if Sarah Horowitz was a truly extraordinary person, and it would appear that the world is a poorer place for her passing.

    Also, “reign” in, etc… (My italics)

    Oh, my goodness.

    This man is an academic?

    No, he isn’t, actually.  And I’m pretty sure he knows how to spell “adjudicate,” too.  He just gets sloppy on the Internets (like a lot of people—Matt Yglesias, I’m looking at you) and I like to kid him about this.  It’s an internet tradition, you might say.

    As for “reign” in place of “rein,” I have given up hope.  It’s getting to be like “to the manor born.” “Reigning in” someone or something is bad enough, but I have begun to see “take the reigns” as well, most recently in a headline somewhere in the film Iron Man.  Rest assured that the giant enlightened insects will not make these errors in basic usage.

    Posted by Michael  on  12/09  at  10:42 PM
  21. Who He, Whee Ho???  Oh yeah, that guy.  Well anyway, he who is not alone is not alone in this counter counter wingnuttery campaign.  Michelle Malkin writing at the National Review:

    But a dangerously large segment of the birth-certificate hunters have lurched into rabid Truther territory. The most prominent crusader against Obama’s American citizenship claim, lawyer Philip Berg (who, not coincidentally, is also a prominent 9/11 Truther) disputes that Obama was born in Hawaii and claims that Obama’s paternal grandmother told him she saw Obama born in Kenya.

    Berg and his supporters further assert that the “Certification of Live Birth” produced by Obama was altered or forged. They claim that the contemporaneous announcement in a Hawaii newspaper of Obama’s birth is insufficient evidence that he was born there. (Did a fortuneteller place it in the paper knowing he would run for president?) And they accuse anyone who disagrees with them of being part and parcel of the grand plan to install Emperor Obama and usurp the rule of law.

    Posted by  on  12/10  at  01:17 AM
  22. As for “reign” in place of “rein,” I have given up hope.

    Yes, we’ve lost that fight ... for all intensive purposes [gah!].

    Posted by Dave M  on  12/10  at  01:21 AM
  23. Glad to be of service.

    And I found “all intensive purposes” on a paper this semester, as well as “laundry mats,” alongside the usual “their/they’re/there” and “it’s/its” and “two/too/to” confusion.  My personal favorite: “mediums” when it should be “media.” I tell them “we are not having a seance...” but they don’t seem to get it…

    It’s a losing battle.

    Posted by  on  12/10  at  01:41 AM
  24. "laundry mats” I like.  When I started reading undergrad papers I discovered that “should of” was not just Ring Lardner’s invention.  New one today: “lazafare,” used to mean, I think, uncaring.  I see the eggcorn database records “lazy fare.” My all-time favorite is still “doggy-dog world.”

    Posted by  on  12/10  at  04:51 AM
  25. Not quite the same thing, but I once saw, in a college campus newspaper, a reference to a “Jack Careowack.”

    Posted by Jason B  on  12/10  at  08:33 AM
  26. I know, it’s like he’s playing Wingnut Whack-a-Mole over there.

    There is no smackdown like a karmic smackdown.

    Posted by  on  12/10  at  08:41 AM
  27. Yeah, I know that the business of this blog is snark, but ... I, for one, think that the Supreme Court has been permanently discredited as an institution by Bush v. Gore, and I’m perfectly willing to believe that they may try to disqualify Obama on some technicality, invented out of whole cloth, in order to serve the Republican Party.  In which case I can only hope that this would provide the impetus that we need to finally get rid of them as an institution.

    The reiteration of this case was rejected by Ginsberg, but accepted by Scalia to bring to a conference of the court on Friday.  I don’t see any reason for him to accept it other than the obvious one: he wants to disqualify Obama, or at least smear him by keeping the issue alive.

    Posted by Rich Puchalsky  on  12/10  at  10:43 AM
  28. the impetus that we need to finally get rid of them as an institution

    Uh, and replace them with what?  For all intensive purposes, they’re does seem to be a need for a legal institution whose job it is to interpret the constitutionality of laws and things.  We might just need a court of some kind to do that, despite it’s novel (and never to be repeated!  honest!) interpretation of the fourteenth amendment in Bush v. Gore.

    Posted by Michael  on  12/10  at  10:54 AM
  29. The reiteration of this case was rejected by Ginsberg, but accepted by Scalia to bring to a conference of the court on Friday.

    Rich is this somethng new and different from the one looked at last Friday? (Which Souter had turned down but Thomas then accepted.) I saw nothing new from a search.

    Posted by  on  12/10  at  10:59 AM
  30. I think if they accept it, we should simply require the plaintiffs to prove where and when they were born.  Heck, make Scalia prove where he was born too.  Then we can simply take whatever documentation they provided and have Obama provide the same documentation. 

    Capcha: “Level” as in playing field where geese and ganders are playing.

    Posted by  on  12/10  at  11:43 AM
  31. Responsibility for the whole Blagojevich debacle rest squarely on the shoulders of the GOP. In his first campaign the GOP ran a former prosecutor who made his career trying to execute an innocent man. In his second the GOP ran a woman who couldn’t even speak simple sentences coherently.

    Had the GOP run anyone who hadn’t tried to kill someone for political gain and could say 3 words in a row without stumbling, they could still have the Governorship here.

    As a lifelong 2nd generation democrat, I would have voted for any reasonable Republican against Blago. But the GOP refused to give me that option so it is clearly their fault.

    e.

    Posted by  on  12/10  at  12:32 PM
  32. That obituary for Sarah Horowitz is moving… until about halfway through, when Horowitz moves to his REAL priority: David Horowitz.

    Posted by  on  12/10  at  02:03 PM
  33. The reiteration of this case was rejected by Ginsberg, but accepted by Scalia to bring to a conference of the court on Friday. I don’t see any reason for him to accept it other than the obvious one: he wants to disqualify Obama, or at least smear him by keeping the issue alive.

    Rich, the other reason to bring it to conference is to have the conference pour the secret Latin sauce over it, res judicata, which becomes “Don’t bring this shit up again” in the vernacular. Whatever Scalia’s malign intent might be, bringing it to conference will undoubtedly result in it being subject to a firm Latin shut up about that, absolving any court from having to listen to the argument ever again. That’s not to say that the sort of people who insist on gnawing on such stories will stop, just that the courts will refuse to engage.

    Posted by peter ramus  on  12/10  at  03:14 PM
  34. a firm Latin shut up about that, absolving any court from having to listen to the argument ever again

    Ah, a timely reminder of why the official initials of the Roman Republic were STFU.

    Posted by Michael  on  12/10  at  03:36 PM
  35. He just gets sloppy on the Internets (like a lot of people—Matt Yglesias, I’m looking at you)

    Yglesias murdering the English language (and anyone who gets in his way) has itself become an Internet tradition, I think.  Seriously, between him and George W. Bush, I’m beginning to have my doubts about Harvard.

    Ah, a timely reminder of why the official initials of the Roman Republic were STFU.

    Indeed, res judicata is quite the old-school way to silence an overly-garrulous spqr.  I actually think that this was also Justice Thomas’ reason for picking up on the New Jersey case, rather than an attempt to discredit Obama.  And we’re talking about a justice whose confirmation hearings brought new meaning to res pubica.

    And coincidentally, at lunch today I asked the guy clearing tables why he had a rag rug on his head.  He replied, “In order to bus under the throw.”

    Posted by  on  12/10  at  04:15 PM
  36. 28, 29: Ah, I do see now that a new case, Cort Wrotnowski v. Susan Bysiewicz, has been admitted to conference. Jeezus.

    Posted by  on  12/10  at  04:33 PM
  37. Michael, you left out the first to-do;
    Day one: find way to invade Iraq.

    Posted by  on  12/10  at  04:36 PM
  38. "Uh, and replace them with what? “

    There are any number of fine, democratic countries that don’t have a Supreme Court-equivalent, just as there are many that don’t have other weird and anti-democratic features of our system, such as the Electoral College.  For instance, we could have a high court whose members aren’t appointed for life.  Or one whose authority is carefully circumscribed to e.g. judging the constitutionality of laws, rather than deciding who won an election.

    Posted by Rich Puchalsky  on  12/10  at  04:40 PM
  39. The problem with the res judicata idea is that it doesn’t explain why first Thomas, and then Scalia, were the ones interested in forwarding these cases.  Are they especially interested in preserving the reputation of the conservative movement against cranks?  No, I’d say not.  Instead, I think it’s far more likely that they are themselves cranks, albeit cranks with substantial authority and control over our politics.

    The rest of the court, as Peter Ramus says, could shoot down those two.  But with Alito they’ve got three.  Can they get four and five?  Well, I don’t see why not.  I don’t trust or respect those people at all.

    Posted by Rich Puchalsky  on  12/10  at  04:47 PM
  40. Deciding whether it is time to reread Kim Lane Scheppele’s great paper, When the Law Doesn’t Count: The Rule of Law and Election 2000, which starts with Monty Python and the Holy Grail and then goes on to some interesting discussions of things like “post-horror” Rule of Law clauses in constitutions in Germany and Eastern European countries (intended in part to prevail over the nitpicky use of the law to deprive citizens of rights and justice).

    Posted by  on  12/10  at  05:48 PM
  41. Sorry to overpost the thread, but I just don’t understand why anyone still thinks the Court is a good idea.  Judges should not be political celebrities.  Basic elements of our democracy should not be decided on the basic of which judge happens to retire during which President’s term.  The whole thing is a mockery of justice.

    Posted by Rich Puchalsky  on  12/10  at  06:17 PM
  42. "I don’t see any reason for him to accept it other than the obvious one: he wants to disqualify Obama, or at least smear him by keeping the issue alive.”

    The reason Thomas referred to the full court - he didn’t “accept” it - it was so that the full court could reject it - which it did. If it hadn’t done so, Berg would have had the right to go from justice to justice, making a pest of himself.

    Posted by  on  12/10  at  07:09 PM
  43. Now that we have carry laws in DC they could have shot Berg on cite.

    Yes, Eli knows. . .

    Posted by Eli Rabett  on  12/11  at  01:23 AM
  44. Someone feel free to correct me if I’m thinking about this wrong, but I don’t think the res judicata argument holds water. Both D’Onofrio and Wrotnowski were dismissed for lack of standing in suits against different plaintiffs under state election laws. There’s been no final determination on the merits in any case where a finding of Obama’s Hawaiian birth was necessary to the verdict, so there is no issue preclusion on that point. With different plaintiffs and defendants in each case, there will be no claim preclusion. The cases having been brought under state law, there is no possibility of issue preclusion with respect to any question of law that will carry over to other (non-NJ and CT) cases. Res judicata as a motive only makes sense if the court anticipates other suits from NJ and CT—which is possible, but unlikely. Even if the court does anticipate other suits from NJ and CT, it seems like a poor strategic decision to refer the petitions to the court, given the comfort the wingnuts are taking from those decisions.

    Posted by  on  12/11  at  01:33 AM

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