Property Rights

How Gauche: American Yokels Actually Obey Their Own Laws


Go away or I shall taunt you a second time.

Whether you're looking to feel some jingoistic resentment at continental snobbery, get nostalgic for the Lewinski-scandal days when the cognoscenti's greatest fear was that the sophisticated French might think we were prudes, or just enjoy the tradition of Hollywood Nazis saying things like "You Americans are so naïve," you'll enjoy John Hudson's round up of European shock over the Supreme Court's individual mandate arguments

"The Supreme Court can legitimately return Obamacare?" asks a headline on the French news site 9 POK. The article slowly walks through the legal rationale behind the court's right to wipe away Congress's legislation. "Sans précédent, extraordinaires" reads the article. In the German edition of The Financial Times, Sabine Muscat is astonished at Justice Antonin Scalia's argument that if the government can mandate insurance, it can also require people to eat broccoli. "Absurder Vergleich" reads the article's kicker, which in English translates to, "Absurd Comparison." In trying to defeat the bill, Muscat writes, Scalia is making a "strange analogy [to] vegetables."

I don't get the whole complaint that referring to a broccoli or cell phone mandate is some kind of reductio ad absurdum. The health benefits of eating broccoli are well established and direct. The safety and connectivity benefits of carrying a cell phone are immediate and clear. Mandating either would be more justifiable as necessary and proper to promote the general welfare than mandating buying insurance, whose connection to good health is at best indirect. 

In an event, the greatest absurdities are not coming from the French or the Germans, but from our own cousins in the common law tradition. When the U.K. Telegraph's Mark McKinnon pillories the Supreme Court as "these six men and three women," you can almost feel his pain at not being able to seethe "these nine men in black robes!" And how's this for a deep understanding of the difference between essential rights and government handouts: 

The Guardian's Kevin Powell called the debate "surreal" in his Monday column. "Wasn't the point to make sure the richest and most powerful nation on the planet could protect its own people, as other nations do?" he wrote. "If Americans are promised not just liberty but life and happiness, is there not a constitutional right to affordable healthcare?"

When your own country's national health service is being bankrupted by a sceptred isle full fat slobs, the idea that the individual mandate violates human liberty must seem slightly insulting. But England is the country of the Magna Carta and the Glorious Revolution, where William Blake stood up for the right to throw a soldier out of his garden. Has socialism really made the right little tight little island this dumb? 

NEXT: Baylen Linnekin on Broccoli Mandates and Food Freedom

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  1. I hate to be the dork who corrects your alt-text, but with a name such as “Tim,” you should at least know the John Cleese quotes from the movie.

    Also, fuck the Brits.

    1. It’s on a t-shirt, for Christ’s sake.

  2. Tim, it has nothing to do with them being foreigners. It has to do with them being media jerkoffs. There are plenty of media jerkoffs being just as stupid right here in the USA.

    And I would have gone with this clip.

    1. The complete amazement at the basic concept of judicial review is very European, though. Our native media would never make that kind of argument.

      1. No, just our President.

  3. “If Americans are promised not just liberty but life and happiness, is there not a constitutional right to affordable healthcare?”

    It is a constant source of fascination to me that people are paid to write editorials without any kind of requirement to research the topics they are writing about.

    1. Didn’t see you there, Hugh. I immediately regret my “Polack” comment below.

      1. Don’t apologize to Hugh, Ken. He doesn’t deserve it after putting screen doors in his submarine.

        1. How many Hughs does it take to screw in a lightbulb?

        2. I need to change a lightbulb. Do you guys know where I can find a couple of people to turn the ladder for me?

          1. Hugh, did you really sell your water skis because you couldn’t find a lake with a hill in it?

          2. Hugh, is it true as a kamikaze pilot you flew 48 successful missions?

          3. Hugh threw a hand grenade at me. All I had to do was pull out the pin and throw it back at him.

        3. Q: Why did the Polish couple decide to have only 4 children?

          A: They’d read in the newspaper that one out of every five babies born in the world today is Chinese.

          1. Q: How did the Nazis take over Poland?

            A: They marched in backward and the Polacks thought they were leaving.

    2. The right to life is a right never to die. It’s right there in the text. Gaaah, how is it no one sees that!

      1. So they need to tax us to find the fountain of youth?

        Zombie Ponce De Leon FTW.

        1. Say, you just gave away a great grant idea. No problem though, the government doesn’t mind funding a great deal of overlap if we all decide to write up a proposal. Wasn’t the Fountain of Youth near Fort Lauderdale? Well, there is only one way to find out.

          1. I thought the Fountain of Youth was on the west side of Maui. That’s why Ponce had so much trouble finding it.

            1. I’ve heard rumors it may actually be located near that resort in Thailand where they filmed The Beach (outstanding cinematography, btw). To be safe, we need grant money to cover all three locations.

              1. Ko Samui? Terrible place. Unfriendly and mercenary locals. Extremely inflated prices.

                Hua Hin is much better in my opinion.

                1. Ko Phi Phi, between main land Krabi province and Phuket (he he he). It may actually still be considered part of Krabi. Researched the heck out of it once as a potential vacation site for a group of friends. We went to Mexico instead.

                2. Ah, but you should have gone to Samui in the mid-80’s. Topless backpacker chicks from around the globe staying for weeks on the beach in bungalows that were three bucks a night. Magic mushrooms on the menu of every restaurant — the big decision before the moon came out would be between the magic mushroom soup, omelette or pizza. Then, each night, one of the beach spots would take a turn putting speakers in the sand and everyone would spend the entire night dancing to reggae. Finally go to bed when the sun came up, sleep until it got too hot, jump in the water and then have a few local Thai middle-aged ladies give you and some friends a massage on straw mats in the shade while they spoke gently to each other in their lilting language. An afternoon eating thai salads and curry while smoking the delightful, cheap and plentiful thai stick with new friends, seemingly ten from each country on earth. Then repeat every night until you somehow realized you had to leave (still can’t believe I ever did, I actually cried on the ferry as the island disappeared from sight).

          2. I think I’ll apply for a grant to find the 7 cities of gold. It’s much more libertarian.

            1. good hunting! i can only find the first 13 or so episodes on youtube, i’d love to see the rest

              1. Hulu has the entire series.

              2. Hulu has the entire series.

                1. well, i’ll be an avuncular monkey… thanks HM!

                  1. RACIST! 🙂

                2. Negative Ghost Rider…Hulu’s pattern is empty.

                  If you have a link it would be helpful.

                  1. AND I just found out why…Netflix streaming. (Yep I still have that). So now I am watching it on the big screen….old animation.

      2. Don’t just gloss over the right to happiness. The right to happiness means that we have the right to never want for anything.

        Hence #OWS.

        1. Our very own Zombie Apocalypse. That, and the fact I’m pretty sure this Indian Pale Ale I’m sucking on is an alien species disguised as a beverage at least keeps things a little interesting.

          1. It’s the hops, Killaz. That’s why I only drink porter.

            Then again, the malt and barley may also be alien life forms… damn.

            1. The Good Reverend will be pleased. I switched to Blue Moon’s Summer Sampler for the late afternoon. Their Belgian White is fairly tasty for its class.

              1. I need to get on the ball with my beer connoisseuring.

  4. Fuck those limey fools. Anyone who would bow to a king or queen will never get my respect.

    As to the Frogs and the Krauts, those people have been emasculated as a society since we beat their ass/bailed their nation out twice in the last century. Of course they’re going to talk shit about us. It creates some semblance of pride for people who are losers.

    1. Now when the Swiss, the Czechs or the Polacks start talking shit about us, I’ll listen.

      1. When I was in the UKR this year, Ukrainians overall did not express a high opinion of His Pestilency. In fact, the general consensus was, “What in the hell is that didko trying to do to you?”

        1. Well, we all can’t poison our leaders.

          1. Needs more HM Death PrOn-O-Matic. You really have been slipping.

            1. But Yushchenko didn’t die.

              1. I was expecting you to use poetic license.

        2. Remember the collective wail from Indian politicians when BO demanded Teleprompters be installed in their parliament so he could make a speech there?

    2. They’ll be lecturing us on those pesky free speech and religion “rights” soon enough.

      1. Yeah, like how ignorant we are to let people post stupid shit when they’re drunk on twitter, when we could be throwing them in jail for 56 days instead.

        1. Our dumbshit ICE and DHS bureaucrats merely deny entry to Brits who post stupid shit about being drunk on Twitter.


          1. Wow… something actually useful on NPR. Stopped clock, twice a day.

    3. This puts things in perspective. As bad as it is in America, it could be SO much worse.

      1. Let me be clear, as I was informing SCOTUS of the error of their ways and reminding them of their Constitutional duties as interpreted by me, noted Constitutional Scholar, I will be enacting more and more of my grand vision for a fairer, just and equitable America where happiness is guaranteed as reported by our allies, The British.

      2. Let me be clear, as I was informing SCOTUS of the error of their ways and reminding them of their Constitutional duties as interpreted by me, noted Constitutional Scholar, I will be enacting more and more of my grand vision for a fairer, just and equitable America where happiness is guaranteed as reported by our allies, The British.

        1. Let me also be clear, squirrelz are patently unconstitutional.

          1. Hey! Those squirrels have every right to be happy as well. It’s, like, in the Constitution or something.

            /PeTA douchebag vegan assclown

  5. “Oh, you English are *so* superior, aren’t you? Well, would you like to know what you’d be without us, the good ol’ U.S. of A. to protect you? I’ll tell you. The smallest fucking province in the Russian Empire, that’s what! So don’t call me stupid, lady. Just thank me.”

    1. Great movie. I may have to watch it again to refresh the thrill of hearing that quote.

    2. The English contribution to world cuisine: the chip.

      1. The “chip” isn’t British; that’s just their name for french fries. Which are Belgian.

      2. I call cheddar cheese.

  6. “Wasn’t the point to make sure the richest and most powerful nation on the planet could protect its own people, as other nations do?”

    A. That doesn’t make it constitutional.
    B. I’m not sure how the person with the highest credit card balance would necessarily be the richest person.

    It’s clear they don’t get the idea of a government of limited powers but I don’t think the issue will exist much longer as the general welfare of the commerce clause swallows the rest of the Constitution.

  7. The Guardian’s Kevin Powell called the debate “surreal” in his Monday column. “Wasn’t the point to make sure the richest and most powerful nation on the planet could protect its own people, as other nations do?” he wrote. “If Americans are promised not just liberty but life and happiness, is there not a constitutional right to affordable healthcare?”

    Once again, epic FAIL from The Fraudian. Where is the word “pursuit”?

    It’s like Tony writes for the Fraudian or the Daily FAIL.

    If the concept of Natural Rights is as real as gnomes and leprechauns, then so goes the myth of “The Right to Healthcare”, affordable or otherwise. Good SOD, it’s like the Britons are trying to self-implode purposefully!

    1. Obviously your tiny libertard mind can’t grasp what the founders meant when they said “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness”. The government is supposed to be in charge of your life. Or grant you life. All rights come from the state, and you’re just lucky they give you any (kinda like when your parents bought you toys). And of course the government, knowing what’s best for each and every one of us, should pursue our happiness for us. Or at the very least, tell us what will make us happy and then provide a way for us to attain it.


    2. It’s more than just a clever omission of the single word “pursuit”. These people actually believe that government is some sort of hive mind of society and because you are part of it that it can not infringe on yourself. It’s a simple disconnect for them that life, liberty and happiness exist regardless of the state of government and that it doesn’t matter who takes them away or why just that they do.

      Access to health care is a right, in that like all property rights I should be able to contract the services of another without coercion, and without massive market distortions that are used as the basis for the rational “but but it’s too expensive for the poor!!!” when those same people are the ones that create the market distortions via coercion that make it too expensive for the fucking poor.

    3. And, technically, the Declaration did not promise life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. It actually recognized them as “inalienable rights” and declared that governments were “instituted” to “secure these rights.”

      I know it is somewhat pedantic but there IS a distinction there.

      1. The distinction is very important, as the “promise” could be interpreted as “guaranteed favourable outcomes” as opposed to right to self-ownership and the freedom to succeed or fail at a given endeavour.

        1. You seem missed the part about government being instituted to make sure those rights are fulfilled.

          The main issue is the “pursuit of” qualifier, not the distinction between promising and securing.

          1. You seem missed the part about government being instituted to make sure those rights are fulfilled.

            Res ipsa loquitur, Tulpy Poo: Why have a government if not to is there to protect the those rights to self-ownership and risk. I missed nothing and argument is self-evident. Just like the negative rights inalienable rights spelled out in our hallowed document via The Bill of Rights, and the rationale further expanded upon in The Federalist Papers.

          2. Evil Otto|4.7.12 @ 5:39PM|#
            “You seem missed the part about government being instituted to make sure those rights are fulfilled.”

            There’s not way rights (freedoms) are “fulfilled” by government. Government serves to protect them.

      2. The distinction is not pedantic at all: it’s essential.

        1. I would also add that the idea of a “promise” of “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” implies that those three things are something that are given by one entity (the state) to another (the people). The central point of the DoI (& the constitution and Locke) was that humans possessed rights by dint of being human. WAY too many people think the purpose of government is to give us rights. What can be given can be taken away.

          1. Hence the usefulness of a national ID card (internal passport).

    4. The British don’t study the Declaration of Independence too closely, for some reason.

      1. George 3 should have.

  8. Instapoll: What’s more fun?

    A: Watching the Euro talking heads explode over our three branches of government.
    B: Watching Tiger Woods implode at the Masters while the talking heads there keep saying he’s not out of it yet.

    1. Ooo! That’s a toughie.

      I choose “A”.

    2. “Watching the Euro talking heads explode over our three branches of government”

      The Legislative branch doesn’t seem to have any balls and is actively helping consolidate power in the Executive branch. The Executive branch is claiming that the Judicial doesn’t have the authority to rule on laws passed by the Legislative.
      I’ll go with A with a disclaimer that we don’t really have 3 branches anymore.

      1. BO is an execrable maggot, but he didn’t actually say the SCOTUS has no authority to strike down PPACA. He just said they shouldn’t.

        1. No, he said them overturning it would be “unprecedented” and made note that they are unelected and then said the bill has widespread support. And while only one of those is factually accurate (the unelected part), they were all stabs at them so he can…do what, exactly?

          I am almost afraid to see what the left tries to pull after this execrable law is struck down. I say almost because I’m armed better than they are. But I can see him pulling some “State of Emergency” bullshit power grab prior to the election. He’s just that craven a human being.

          1. I don’t doubt his cravenness but he would be a dead duck if he tried something like that. He can’t oppress the entire country by himself. The military hates him, and most law enforcement in this country is state and local. If there were a war between the BATF/DEA/ICE/etc and the state police forces the feds would get routed.

            His power is based on the ignorance and apathy of the populace, and the widespread perception that he’s a nice smart guy with historic amounts of melanin. That goes away as soon as he pulls a Mubarak.

            1. Don’t assume that the military hates him any further than the knee-jerk anti-Democrat sentiment common throughout the forces.

              Most don’t really care either way and a president could go a long way if he can provide a veneer of lawfullness to cover his actions.

              The military culturally doesn’t see its role as questioning the federal government and is mostly institutionally blind to the possibility that it may need to put down a coup.

              1. I’m not an infantryman, but from what I see and hear in the Navy (and all other service in Afghanistan), I find it hard to believe the military would enforce orders to impose martial law unless there was a damn good reason. At best I think desertion would go through the roof in such a case.

  9. I find it astounding that they follow our politics this closely.

    Aside from the odd fistfight breaking out in Parliament, I haven’t the least tiny interest how they enslave their constituency.

    I guess that makes me another self centered, ugly American.

    1. Seconded.

    2. Zebras are much more concerned with how hungry the lion is feeling than vice versa, too.

    3. I have even less interest in learning what they think of us and our politics.

  10. “If Americans are promised not just liberty but life and happiness”

    You’ll have to forgive him. My history and civics teachers all made the same mistake while I was still in school.

  11. I think the Dumb has made the UK socialist and it is just feeding back into itself. The only reason they aren’t going to become Airstrip One is that they will be too broke and Islamic. Man fuck the limeys and fuck the continentals too. Watching that whole continent burn brings me great pleasure.

  12. I sometimes wonder if the whole point of the Luftwaffe wasn’t to psychologically damage the Brits so much that this would be their future.

    1. You aren’t totally off on this: The NHS was Churchill’s idea.

      1. I thought it was Attlee.

        1. That is true, but Atlee would have been unable to implement NHS without Churchill’s public bully support. So, correction noted. Churchill gets credit for implementation.

  13. The Guardian’s Kevin Powell is an ignoramus. The Declaration of Independence asserts that it is self-evident that all men have certain unalienable rights. Among the right enumerated as such is “the pursuit of happiness”. To claim that the Constitution promises happiness is doubly wrong, and facially absurd.

    1. We have more than enough people born here who have the same problem, Cato.

      There’s one in the Oval Office, for instance – one and a half, if you count Biden.

  14. Sans pr?c?dent, extraordinaires…

    Our Constitutional Scholar-in-Chief has educated the French from across the ocean.

  15. The Germans have a great solution to the whole ‘running out of money to feed the ravenous social security monster’ problem: levy higher taxes on the young.…..1wfh3.html
    Remember, “Nazi Supermen Are Our Superiors.”

  16. I certainly hope the yokels on the bench will obey the highest law in the land. On the other hand, recent remarks by Justice Ginsburg, about the utility of the Constitution in the modern day and its suitability as a model for new republics, are not encouraging.

    1. I actually agreed with Ginsburg when she said that. For different reasons than hers, of course.

    2. You thought Ruth Bater Ginsburg was going to vote to overturn Obamacare?

      1. Is Ruth the Master Bater, or Master Bader?

        1. Darth Bader?

  17. When we start taking advice from the English, French and German, then we are well and truly fucked.
    One is a nation that believes a family of inbreds are better than them by the grace of God. One is full of pussies that have never been able to have an individual thought in their life and are xenophobic douches that haven’t won a war on their own in half a millennium. And the third are the descendants of madmen that would enslave the world if possible (x3) and their enablers.

    Western Europe is a cesspool.

    1. Western Europe is a cesspool.

      It isn’t all that bad…if you stay away from the tourist areas.

      It’s like the Europeans I know talking about NYC. I always ask ’em, “Why’d you go to New York?” Some of them have actually told me they think it’s safer there. They don’t want to go out into the rest of the country, where everyone has guns.

      If Obama gets reelected, and ObamaCare stands? We may find ourselves in a position where the stereotypes are lagging even further behind the reality.

      1. They prefer the disarmed citizen Power to the Thugz zones? Big mistake:…..en-In-Balt

      2. Its not bad if your visiting or work for an American outfit (I lived in Italy for 3.5 yrs while in the Navy) and don’t have to pay local taxes.

        But its nations are full of government corruption on a huge scale compared to over here. Corporatism runs rampant and most of the countries believe that clocks are for other people.

        As an example of government in bed with industry – its 2012 and Italian ISP still meter internet access. In the US internet access became to cheap to meter 20 years ago.

    2. I generally agree, but their vice laws are light years ahead of (or is it behind) ours.

      1. That depends on what you call a “vice.” I’d rather have to smoke weed on the sly (if I smoked) and be able to call someone a faggot on a blog without being sent to jail.

        And they’re not too much more tolerant in their lawmaking when it comes to drugs/prostitution. They just haven’t figured out what a cash cow it is like our city and state governments have.

        1. and be able to call someone a faggot on a blog without being sent to jail.

          Sloopy is a PoetLaureateFaggot and married to a Banjo.

          Come and get me Sloop! 🙂

  18. Is LA in Europe?
    “Budget official sounds warning on LA finances”
    Well, look! A union official raises the warning:
    “Pat McOsker, president of the United Firefighters of Los Angeles City, told the newspaper that turning over ambulance services to private industry “would be a public health disaster.”
    “There are far too many examples of private ambulance crews abandoning patients who can’t pay,…”
    Sure there are………..…..ewsbayarea

    1. He had to peddle his fear-mongering to the SF Chronicle. Not even the LAT would print that piece without a “Paid Advertisement” disclaimer.

    2. How would the ambulance crew know if the patient could pay or not? Its not as if they check your insurance card.

      1. “How would the ambulance crew know if the patient could pay or not? Its not as if they check your insurance card.”

        For reasons that escape me, even SF’s ambulances are primarily private contractors.
        Strangely, I rarely see bodies tossed in the road as they go by.

    3. Name one.

      That needs to be the standard response to all these bullshit “there are far too many examples of XXX happening” claims. If these people were actually called out on their nonsense once in a while and forced to support their claims, this kind of stuff would diminish considerably.

  19. For all the spread of ‘democracy’ and ‘human rights’ in the world over past two hundred years the concept of a Bill of Rights elucidating what the government cannot do and enumerating among levels of government powers they can use is a freakishly unique and dying experiment in human governance.

    Its why such a debate as happened in the Supreme Court completely mystifies neophytes not three generations removed from imperialists, Communists, and Nazis.

  20. The right to pursue happiness is not a garauntee. It is the freedom of action to pursue what you think will make you happy. It is not a guarantee that you will get it because that would require someone else to provide it for you. It means that government can not put up any roadblocks along the way such as denying your ability to get a fatty burger or smoke cigs if you thought that would make you very happy. It is the right to enter into agreements and contracts with others that will aid your quest to pursue happiness. It can’t make you enter into an agreement with others such as compelling you to buy health insurance because that is basically having your happiness being decided by others. The right to pursue allows you to use your own judgement over what makes you happy and possibly get what makes you happy.

  21. Speaking of racist yokels, NBC fired a Today Show producer over the “he’s black” editing of the Zimmerman Telephone.

  22. “If Americans are promised not just liberty but life and happiness, is there not a constitutional right to affordable healthcare?”

    This just shows how much Europeans do not understand liberty. In so far as we were “promised” anything, its the *pursuit*of LL&H, doesn’t say anything anywhere about people being forced to provide it to anyone.

    Also, about the new commenting system

    1. When you log in from the comment section there shoiuld be a link to take you back to where you were rather than leaving you on the update details page.

    2. I use FF on my android phone and can not read or post comments. Its been going on for a couple of months and is not consistent – when this login thing started for a couple of days I could read and post commetns but I can’t now.

    I have it bookmarked to the desktop version of the H&R page but selecting comments goes to the mobile version of the article.

    Selecting the desktop version just sends me back to the H&R page.

    What do I need to do to enable comments and ideally stay off the mobile version of the site?

    Thanks for any help you can provide.

    1. Change your useragent to the desktop Firefox should help.

      1. Thanks, I couldn’t figure out how to get at the useragent but found an extension that does the job – Phony spoofs the useragent to make websites think its a desktop instead of a mobile os.

    2. Change your useragent to the desktop Firefox should help.

  23. An academic’s minor quibble:

    I don’t get the whole complaint that referring to a broccoli or cell phone mandate is some kind of reductio ad absurdum.

    The broccoli argument is an example of an argument reductio ad absurdum. It is a perfectly legitimate form of logical argument to follow the implications of a proposed rule to illogical, incongruous or bizarre consequences, and so lead the audience to understand the problems of and to reject the proposition.

    The reductio ad absurdum is an honored workhorse of logic and mathematics.

    1. Thank you.
      Similarly: ‘By your argument, one plus one does not equal two’.

    2. Wickard v. Filburn is an actual reductio ad absurdum of the commerce clause put in to practice. Mandates of what you can and can’t eat are hardly a stretch of the intentions of Obamacare’s supporters. If you impose your will on me in one area of the market, I’m not being paranoid to think you would do it in others.

      1. BTW, if it is not overturned or rescinded in full by the congress, I’m dropping my current insurance plan. No cooperation no matter what.

      2. Furthermore, when pressed, the mandate’s defenders do not argue that food mandates are constitutionally absurd but merely that Congress would not think to pass such a measure (which puts more faith into what Congress thinks than I am willing to give).

  24. “I burst my pimples at you and call your door-opening request a silly thing! You tiny-brained wipers of other peoples’ bottoms!”

    -A Frenchman

  25. I always liked William Blake’s paintings and poetry, but now I think I like the man as well.

  26. Despite what they believe, Eurotrash consistently prove that they know even less about Americans, the American system of government, and the American way of life than Americans know about them.

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