The first lesson I take from the controversy over John Ashcroft's nomination is something that's fairly obvious, but that's not going to stop me from mentioning it. Whether or not Ashcroft succeeds in being confirmed as attorney general, the ruckus amounts to yet another proof that over the past few decades the American political mainstream has shifted radically to the Left.
Responsible and compassionate statesmen of the Establishment who on any sane planet would be described as hateful shrieking politicopaths of the totalitarian Left are indicting Ashcroft as an "extreme conservative" because he's for gunowner rights and against abortion rights, and because he seems to have a vague memory that at some distant time it was possible to stand up for freedom of association. (In other words, he opposes coercive "affirmative action.") Ashcroft even opposes the element of Washington's abortion-promotion apparatus that criminalizes freedom of assembly outside abortion clinics.
The Left indicts Ashcroft also because of reports that he once described Jefferson Davis as a patriot. That's just a flat-out thoughtcrime. And they indict him as well because he has revealed in public that, far from being a pious and saintly Jew like Joe Lieberman, he is one of those evil Christians. Ashcroft has even dared to voice the incontrovertible historical truth that this used to be a Christian country!
In an op ed piece for the New York Times, Sen. Charles Schumer says the Judiciary Committee of which he is a member "should determine whether, given his beliefs and record, Mr. Ashcroft can fairly enforce all the laws of our country." (January 9) The piece is titled "Can John Ashcroft Overcome His Ideology?", and although Schumer never puts the question so baldly in his text, that's absolutely what he's getting at. But it occurs to no one to demand that Schumer or his equally far-out freshman comrades Hillary Rodham and Jon Corzine somehow overcome their left-wing totalitarian ideologies in order to fairly deliberate and decide on "the laws of our country." Unfortunately, that stands to reason, because of what "the laws of our country" have become.
The Left is right to fight Ashcroft, because if confirmed he would be reponsible for enforcing a whole library of Central Government laws and regulations that the Left has written over the past forty years, with the collusion or acquiescence of non-leftist cowards and corruptionists. I never hesitate to impugn the good faith of leftists on any and all matters, but I won't hesitate to impugn the good faith of conservatives, either, if they try to assuage the Left's worries about Ashcroft by representing modern law enforcement as some kind of clear-cut, technocratic administrative task consisting of highly visible either-or decisions. Thanks to the totalitarian explosion of our time, there are far too many Central Government laws and regulations for all of them to be enforced equally or, for that matter, enforced at all. If anyone still had any doubt about that in 1993, Janet Reno furnished abundant demonstrations of it during the past eight years.
And then there are the quiet, closed-door advisory responsibilities of the attorney general. The big predatory fish who swim in our modern leftist mainstream know well that the attorney general must advise the president on the appointment of tyrannical judges-for-life who hear cases arising under the current tyrannical legal code.
Speaking of Reno the Butcher of Waco, the child-abductor, the chief bodyguard of the most corrupt regime in American history her uninterrupted tenure across almost all of two presidential terms tells us not only where the mainstream flows but also how polluted it has become. To the leftist mainstreamers, Ashcroft is "controversial"; Reno is not.
That question of conservatives' good faith leads us to the second lesson the Ashcroft Crisis offers. I fail to see how Ashcroft, in his confirmation hearings, can possibly avoid uttering the lie that enforcing the law is a clear-cut, objective, and easily monitored business, and avoid uttering also the lie that he will enforce it accordingly. The corruption of Ashcroft won't begin when he first sets foot in the Justice Department; it will begin when he first sets foot in the hearing room. But lying to the Senate would be a mere peccadillo if, once confirmed, Ashcroft really should attempt to "overcome his ideology."
For perspective, let's consider what a libertarian hero of an attorney general-designate might have to do one who was able to get nominated in the first place, through some magic, and able also to hold his nose long enough to undergo confirmation hearings. Assuming he felt he had to deal in good faith with the reptiles and commisars on the Judiciary Committee, it seems to me that such a man might feel obligated to explicitly deny the lawfulness of unjust "laws" designed to overthrow freedom of association, assembly, and self-defense. And he might feel obligated to promise never to lift a finger to enforce such wicked and insupportable impositions.
The Senate would never permit such a nominee to get within a mile of the Main Justice building. So there's a lesson, finally, for Mr. Ashcroft and all who undertake what is euphemistically termed "public service." When you set out to serve leviathan, it should come as no surprise when that's exactly what you end up doing.
The Texas Seven
I've been waiting for the Left to start beating up on George W. on account of the escape of the Texas Seven. But maybe for once they're afraid of contradicting one of their previous frenzies. I remain opposed to executions carried out by a statist entity, but I sure can recognize an argument for capital punishment when I see one. Do you suppose the Left can, too?
Kaliningrad? Where's Kaliningrad?
The United State, shocked and indignant, is accusing Russia of sneaking nuclear weapons into Kaliningrad, a region on the Baltic. Those of us who know a little European history will recall that the area is really a fragment of East Prussia ripped away from Germany by Stalinist Russia and that the city now called Kaliningrad is actually Koenigsberg, a German city founded in the Middle Ages and the old capital of East Prussia. Kaliningrad, the city, is 320 miles from Berlin, 330 miles from Copenhagen and 680 miles from Moscow. The Russian nukes and the Russians themselves in Kaliningrad are yet another glorious legacy of the love affair between Franklin Roosevelt and his kindly, fraternal, democratic, peace-loving, twinkle-eyed Uncle Joe.
But wait a minute. We don't have to go all the way back to 1945 to find legacies of interventionism. Remember NATO expansion? Kaliningrad is only 170 miles from Warsaw. That "shocked shocked!" line delivered by Claude Rains in "Casablanca" has been much overquoted lately, but, boy, is it ever hard to resist, in light of the hypocrisy of our imperial masters.
Outgoing Interior Minister Bruce Babbitt gloats that even though he and the rest of the Clintonistas didn't get much of the environmental legislation they wanted over the past eight years, they were still able to achieve 90 percent of their desired destruction of property rights in the Western states via regulation alone! (Source: Fox News, January 10) Babbitt goes on to describe Western property-rights advocates as "anarchists at heart." Unfortunately, they're not really anarchists; they're just normal people who don't relish being robbed and tyrannized by a gang of outlaws. But Babbitt really is a totalitarian. Who can question that now? The villainous brigand had better hope he doesn't cross paths with a real anarchist some dark night.
January 12, 2001
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