Friday, June 24, 2016

The Campaign For Moral Legitimacy, Larson And Himes


We appear to be moving from one farce to another -- at warp speed. U.S. Representative John Larson, who holds what may be the safest Congressional seat in Connecticut, organized a 60’s style “sit-in” protest in the House. This followed a filibuster in the Senate by U.S. Senator Chris Murphy, assisted in his endeavor by U.S. Senator Dick Blumenthal and other co-conspirators. What are the Democrats doing, and why are they doing it?

On the matter of safe seats, it’s a toss-up between 1st District Representative Larson and 3rd District Representative Rosa DeLauro. The Democrats have been trying to get top-billing as moral crusaders from the usual moral epigones, such as the New York Times and the Hartford Courant.

They have been successful beyond their wildest dreams.

Recently, the members of Connecticut’s all-Democratic U.S. Congressional Delegation have received laurels from the Courant’s editorial board and leftist megaphones such as Colin McEnroe, who writes Op-Eds for the paper. One needn’t read further than the headlines: “Colin McEnroe: CT Delegation Finds Its Spine On Gun Control,” and the Courant editorial, “Ct. Congressional Delegation Makes Bold, Brave Statement On Guns."

Both ventures – Murphy’s filibuster in the Senate and John Larson’s “Sit-in” in the House -- have been troublingly successful.

Murphy’s filibuster shut down Congressional resolution on four amendments, two offered by Republicans and two by Democrats. A filibuster is a work stoppage, comparable to a strike. One of the Republican amendments sufficiently answered the concerns of both Democrats and Republicans on gun issues and the no-fly list. 

Democrats wanted to link an interdiction of gun purchases with a defective no-fly list; Republicans wanted an interdiction process that would not throw Constitutional due process rights on the ash heap of history. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), for its part, opposes any linkage between the defective no-fly list and gun restrictions. Incidentally, it is not often mentioned in commentaries or editorials that a federal judge in Oregon two years ago ruled the government’s no-fly list unconstitutional because Americans on it had no meaningful opportunity to contest their inclusion. The opinion may be found here. Due process itself is more ancient than the Constitution.  When the Lords of England met at Runnymede to force King John to sign the Magna Carta, the lynch-pin of British and, derivatively, American liberties, they were concerned chiefly with securing due process rights.   

A promising amendment that provided the linkage Democrats wanted and prevented a violation of the Constitution’s imprescriptible due process rights, the Cornyn amendment,  was rejected following The Murphy filibuster, which was successful only as an obstruction.

However, it also provided Democrats with a stage for moral flag waving. Here is Representative Jim Himes unfurling his moral banner: “… this is a moment for moral clarity and moral language.” Himes is referring to a filibuster that shut down any legislative progress on issues he considers morally relevant. Perhaps Mr. Himes would be willing to explain in what sense it is moral to shut down a bipartisan process that could have satisfied Mr. Himes’ unquenchable thirst for moral resolution?

The Larson “sit-in” opened Act Two in the stampede for moral legitimacy. Mr. Larson fairly admitted that both Acts, the filibuster and the “sit-in,” were undertaken for campaign purposes.

Here is the money passage in a Courant story, “Lessons from the All-Nighter," on Mr. Larson’s gambit, which appeared right on cue the day after Larson’s “sit-in” had concluded:

“Larson said the focus is now on making this an election issue. Democrats point to polling that shows overwhelming support for the gun control measures for which they are fighting, and for the filibuster and the two-day takeover of the House. They say Republicans oppose them at their own peril.
 "’It'll be the people back in the districts shining the spotlight on this," Larson said. "Sending the message … continuing to call on Congress — that's why we have elections, too.’”

So then, the Democrats first torpedoed by filibuster a reasonable bi-partisan agreement, and then, in a “sit-in,” claimed the moral heights for the upcoming political campaign?

There are in Connecticut some card-carrying cynics who very much doubt there are many unintended consequences in politics. Generally, things happen the way they do politically because politicians want them to happen in such a way as may be useful to them in political campaigns.  And it is to Mr. Larson’s credit that he has here so honestly proclaimed the intent of the Democratic Party. The discarding of useful solutions for campaign reasons would happen less often if the ink-stained wretches among us refused to allow themselves to become the playthings of left-leaning incumbent politicians. The mission of honest journalism is, after all, to discomfort the comfortable, and the people most comfortably ensconced in Connecticut's all-Democratic U.S. Congressional Delegation are Mr. Larson, Mrs. DeLauro and Mr. Blumenthal, the state’s first consumer protection Senator.


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