There are three Reconstruction Amendments, which were passed in the aftermath of the Civil War.

The first Reconstruction Amendment was the Thirteenth Amendment, which freed the slaves. The second was the Fourteenth Amendment, which gave black people citizenship. That one got through only by open cheating.

The last Reconstruction Amendment, and by far the hardest to shove and cheat its way through, was the Fifteenth, which gave blacks the vote.

As the presidential election went to the courts, there arose a chorus of people who say that voting "is the most basic right of every American citizen." One of the LAWYERS who is arguing the Bush case before the United States Supreme Court said that "VOTING IS A FIRST AMENDMENT RIGHT." He said that you have as much right to vote as you do to practice your religion, or to free speech.

To repeat, the Fourteenth Amendment gave black people CITIZENSHIP. But it took a real fight to get through the Fifteenth, which gave blacks the VOTE. A lot of people who supported black citizenship did not want all non-whites to be given the vote. This was especially the case in California, with its huge Oriental minority.

In fact, a groundbreaking Federal Court decision was necessary to save the Fourteenth Amendment. It barely squeaked by, cheating and all. Before it was passed, California actually rescinded its ratification. If that had been allowed, the amendment would have failed.

What happened was that Californians suddenly noticed that there was no reference to "black people" in the new amendment. It not only gave Southern blacks citizenship, but it also gave the same rights to Orientals! California tried to pull back its ratification when it realized that the Fourteenth Amendment gave Orientals NON-VOTING citizenship.

California would never have touched the Fourteenth Amendment if they had thought from the beginning that it gave Chinese immigrants the VOTE. In other words, if the people who ratified the Fourteenth Amendment had thought that voting was the right of every citizen, it would never have gotten into the Constitution.

As it was, in order to save the Fourteenth Amendment, the Supreme Court had to rule that no state could back out once it had ratified an amendment.

But when the fight over giving blacks the vote came up, they were already citizens. It never occurred to anybody that they therefore had the right to vote.

Nowadays, it never occurs to anybody that, if you are a citizen, you might not have full voting rights.

Actually, what the Fourteenth Amendment gave blacks was what everybody insists cannot exist. It gave blacks citizenship, but no vote. The Fourteenth Amendment, in other words, made blacks official second class citizens. If it hadn't, there would have been no Fifteenth Amendment.

In 1954, in Brown vs. Board of Education, the Court changed the Fourteenth Amendment. They said that it forbade any distinction at all, of any kind, being made between white and black citizenship.

Today, it is impossible to explain to anybody why the Fifteenth Amendment was necessary. In 1868, it would have been just as impossible to explain to anybody why it wasn't.

There is no overlap whatsoever between the thinking of those who wrote the Constitution (even the most radical) and the judges who claim to interpret it today.


For decades the crime rate rocketed upward and liberals were openly the friends of "the so-called criminals." Did conservatives use this fact to make the public realize that liberals were their enemies? No way.

Every time crime was mentioned liberals screamed "Gun Control!" So instead of saying liberals were openly pro-criminal, conservatives debated what liberals wanted to talk about, which was gun control.

If any conservative pointed out that liberals always took the side of criminals against the public, respectable conservatives insisted that liberals loved the people dearly and were good people.

So nobody blamed liberals for the crime rate everybody was afraid of and the only people who got blamed for anything was the conservatives who got blame for all the guns out there.

Even liberals are now aware of how many leftists just plain hate Americans. Everybody knows liberals have been pro-criminal and anti-American for decades. Even Bill Press recently said it was good the leading Democratic candidate, the former governor of Vermont, was not "one of the anti-gun nuts."

So the red herring that prevented conservatives from mentioning the leftist pro-criminal record has gone down. So what is the red herring now?

The death penalty is the new liberal red herring. That's what the left wants to talk about, so that's what the right talks about.

OBSERVATION | 1998-11-14

The excuse for refusing to submit military action to a declaration of war is that things move too fast these days. Nobody has noticed that that is absolutely untrue. In the old days, fighting could have been going on for days or weeks before a declaration of war could be made. We are all aware that the Battle of New Orleans was fought two weeks after the War of 1812 had already ended.

The real situation is exactly the opposite. The congress can be assembled, fully informed, within the day of any incident. It is easier, not harder, to formally declare congressional support for a military action. People are used to hearing the word "faster" in connection with modern technology, so as soon as someone says this is an excuse for not consulting congress, our mindless political commentators, and our mindless people, accept the word without any thought.

It isn't true, that's all.


I spent one of the worst nights of my life sleeping with a beautiful woman.

Get your tongue back in your head. These days it never occurs to anybody that "sleeping with a woman" can mean exactly that.

She was not only beautiful, she was rich. Her family's house was next door to the lieutenant governor's (this was not in South Carolina, and it was long ago).

The obvious question is what somebody rich and beautiful was doing with me. So let me tell you this: I am a wise man who comments in learned style on world issues. That same wisdom prevents me from ever trying to figure out why women do things. That way lies madness.

Anyway, she was showing off the new, luxury car her father had given her that particular year -- I think he did it every year. We left my cheap but reliable little Volkswagen and she drove me around in her brand new luxmobile.

She drove out into an area where there were only dirt roads (HINT, HINT, BOB!). I was doing what I have spent almost all my time with women doing: Trying to figure out what to do next.

So naturally the luxmobile broke down. Naturally we had no idea where we were. Naturally it was a bitter cold night and the heater went out with the engine.

We spent a night at around thirty degrees with no coats, etc. She was in my arms, sleeping warmly. She looked so comfy there that I, frozen solid, wanted to strangle her.