The Mind of Anders Breivik

From Theodore Dalrymple:

How does a man in one of the most peaceful societies in the world come to the conclusion that shooting a large number of people unknown to him is to serve the cause of his country?

Several ingredients must be in the witch’s brew of Anders Breivik’s mind.

First is resentment; second, self-importance; third, the desire for fame or notoriety; fourth, the search for a transcendent meaning to life, and fifth, a difficulty in forming ordinary human relationships, whether of love or friendship.

A final precondition is an above-average level of intelligence, for this is necessary in order to rationalise the commission of a deed that would otherwise be repugnant.

Resentment arises when you are not treated or rewarded as you think you deserve to be. Your merits, whether by virtue of birth or accomplishment, go unrecognised. You are therefore a victim of injustice. By definition you can do no wrong when you try to right them.

Self-importance prevents you from putting the wrongs you think you have suffered into any kind of perspective.

You do not see that, by the standards of most people, you have suffered little. You cannot see the difference between mere inconvenience or distaste and severe oppression.

In a world in which celebrity seems so important, obscurity is felt by many as a wound to their ego. Why should others be famous and not me?

If you cannot achieve celebrity by force of talent, then you can do so by means of murder – witness the Crossbow Cannibal.

A wider cause gives meaning and purpose to your life, and persuades you that your resentment, your anger, is not petty or personal, but something much grander. Breivik thought that by acting on his personal resentments he was a saviour of Europe; he might just as well have been an animal rights activist as a nationalist. His monomania relieved his inner emptiness.

A difficulty in forming normal human relationships is another cause for resentment of a man like Breivik, and of yet another wound to his ego. It has to be compensated for somehow, and producing an event of historic importance is one way to do it.

A man must be intelligent to act like Breivik – for he needs not only to plan and execute his “historic” deed, but to be able to weave a coherent, if paranoid and ultimately stupid, justification for it.

The pity for others of a mass killer like Breivik is nil; for himself, infinite.

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The Monster of Monsters

From The Guardian:

What he was about to describe, he cautioned, would be “horrendous”.

But no warning could truly prepare Oslo criminal court for the experience of listening to Anders Behring Breivik detail in a calm, blank way how he gunned down terrified teenagers in the second of two attacks he carried out on 22 July last year.

The 33-year-old spent two hours on Friday afternoon giving a bullet-by-bullet account of what he refers to as his “operation” on the island of Utøya., where the youth wing of Norway’s Labour party was holding its annual summer camp. He shot and killed 67 people on the island that day; another fell off a cliff and died trying to escape. One more, a 17-year-old called Håkon Ødegaard, drowned while attempting to swim away.

Leaning back in his chair, twizzling a pen in his right hand, Breivik – flushed, but never losing control — told of how some of the children he killed were so paralysed with fear that he had time to reload his rifle before shooting them. He’d never seen such a thing, he said – not even on TV.

He recalled teenagers “playing dead” whom he slowly approached before shooting them at close range.

Relatives of those he had killed hugged each other. Some who had dodged his bullets stared straight ahead. There were tears in the eyes of some of the most experienced journalists in the courtroom. Lawyers bit their lips as they listened to Breivik, in a clear, measured voice, remember how he decided halfway through the massacre to “look for places where I would naturally try to hide.”

On the west side of the island, he said he came across a group “hiding, pressing themselves against the cliff face.” With nowhere to run, he was able to shoot them too. Another gang had clustered near an escarpment beneath Kjærlighetsstien, Lovers’ Path. Spotting them, he murdered five, claiming his youngest victim, Sharidyn Meegan Ngahiwi Svebakk-Bøhn, who had just celebrated her 14th birthday.

Breivik remembered campers “screaming and begging for their lives.”

One boy saw him coming and shouted “Please, mate”. Breivik shot him regardless: “I shot everyone there.” He repeatedly recalled taking what he called “follow-up” shots to ensure that those on the ground were really dead. It was just one of a string of military terminology he used on Friday to describe the massacre. He also referred to using a building on the island as a “forward operational base”. It was to there that, in one of the most tragic twists, he had persuaded his first victim to help him carry a bag containing extra rounds of ammunition.

Trond Berntsen, 51, one of the island’s security officials, had met Breivik off the ferry. Utøya’s head of security, Monica Elisabeth Bøsei, had been told by Breivik that he needed to her help to sail to the island because he was a police officer who had come to reassure campers in the wake of the Oslo bombing he had carried out barely an hour earlier. He was dressed in police uniform, and Bøsei believed him. As Breivik put it: “She bought it.” Within five minutes of Breivik setting foot on the island, both the security officals were lying dead between the pier and the so-called information building.

The maximum sentence he can receive in morally enlightened Norway is 21 years in prison: about 100 days per victim.

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Obama v. SCOTUS

From Charles Krauthammer:

“I’m confident that the Supreme Court will not take what would be an unprecedented, extraordinary step of overturning a law that was passed by a strong majority of a democratically elected Congress.”

— Barack Obama, on the constitutional challenge to his health care law, April 2

‘Unprecedented”? Judicial review has been the centerpiece of the American constitutional system since Marbury v. Madison in 1803. “Strong majority”? The House has 435 members. In March 2010, Democrats held a 75-seat majority. Obamacare passed by seven votes.

In his next-day walk back, the president implied that he was merely talking about the normal “restraint and deference” the courts owe the legislative branch. This concern would be touching if it weren’t coming from the leader of a party so deeply devoted to the ultimate judicial usurpation — Roe v. Wade, which struck down the abortion laws of 46 states — that fealty to it is the party’s litmus test for service on the Supreme Court.

With Obamacare remaking one-sixth of the economy, it would be unusual for the Supreme Court to overturn legislation so broad and sweeping. On the other hand, it is far more unusual to pass such a fundamentally transformative law on such a narrow, partisan basis.

Obamacare passed the Congress without a single vote from the opposition party – in contradistinction to Social Security, the Civil Rights Act, the Voting Rights Act, Medicare, and Medicaid, similarly grand legislation, all of which enjoyed substantial bipartisan support. In the Senate, moreover, Obamacare squeaked by through a parliamentary maneuver called reconciliation that was never intended for anything so sweeping. The fundamental deviation from custom and practice is not the legal challenge to Obamacare but the very manner of its enactment.

The president’s pre-emptive attack on the Court was in direct reaction to Obamacare’s three days of oral argument. It was a shock. After years of contemptuously dismissing the very idea of a legal challenge, Democrats suddenly realized that there actually is a serious constitutional argument to be made against Obamacare — and they are losing it.

Here were highly sophisticated conservative thinkers — lawyers and justices — making the case for limited government, and liberals weren’t even prepared for the obvious constitutional question: If Congress can force the individual into a private contract by authority of the Commerce Clause, what can it not force the individual to do? Without a limiting principle, the central premise of our constitutional system — a government of enumerated powers — evaporates. What then is the limiting principle? Liberals were quick to blame the administration’s bumbling solicitor general, Donald Verrilli, for blowing the answer. But Clarence Darrow couldn’t have given it. There is none.

Justice Stephen Breyer tried to rescue the hapless Verrilli by suggesting that by virtue of being born, one enters into the “market for health care.” To which plaintiffs’ lawyer Michael Carvin devastatingly replied: If birth means entering the market, the Congress is omnipotent, authorized by the Commerce Clause to regulate “every human activity from cradle to grave.”

QED.

Having lost the argument, what to do? Bully. The New York Times loftily warned the Supreme Court that it would forfeit its legitimacy if it ruled against Obamacare, because with the “five Republican-appointed justices supporting the challenge led by 26 Republican governors, the court will mark itself as driven by politics.”

Really? The administration’s case for the constitutionality of Obamacare was so thoroughly demolished in oral argument that one liberal observer called it “a train wreck.” It is perfectly natural, therefore, that a majority of the Court should side with the argument that had so clearly prevailed on its merits. That’s not partisanship. That’s logic. Partisanship is four Democrat-appointed justices giving lockstep support to a law passed by a Democratic Congress and a Democratic president — after the case for its constitutionality had been reduced to rubble.

Democrats are reeling. Obama was so taken aback, he hasn’t even drawn up contingency plans should his cherished reform be struck down. Liberals still cannot grasp what’s happened — the mild revival of constitutionalism in a country they’ve grown so used to ordering about regardless. When asked about Obamacare’s constitutionality, Nancy Pelosi famously replied: “Are you serious?” She was genuinely puzzled.

As was Representative Phil Hare (D., Ill.) As Michael Barone notes, when Hare was similarly challenged at a 2010 town hall, he replied: “I don’t worry about the Constitution.” Hare is now retired, having been shortly thereafter defeated for reelection by the more constitutionally attuned owner of an East Moline pizza shop.

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President Petulant

From John Fund:

I spoke last night at a symposium on “The Obama Presidency” at the University of California at Berkeley. In a radical city known sometimes for its liberal anger, it won’t surprise you, many of those in the audience were upset at the prospect of the Supreme Court’s overturning part or all of Obamacare. After all, Berkeley voted 88 percent for Obama in 2008. But almost no one present at the symposium was as petulant as President Obama was yesterday, when he incorrectly claimed that if the Court rules against his landmark legislation it would be taking “an unprecedented, extraordinary step of overturning a law that was passed by a strong majority of a democratically elected Congress.”

The implication of his statement was that he hasn’t heard of Marbury v. Madison, in which the Supreme Court laid down the doctrine of judicial review in 1803, and by which the Court can strike down unconstitutional laws. Indeed, since 1981, the Court has struck down 57 specific legislative acts of Congress, an average of two per year.

The president’s statement was so extraordinary that a three-judge panel of the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals ordered the Justice Department to answer by Thursday whether the administration indeed respects the right of court to declare acts of Congress unconstitutional. As CBS’s Jan Crawford reported, Judge Jerry Smith became “very stern,” telling the lawyers arguing a separate case on the constitutionality of Obamacare that it was not clear to “many of us” whether the president believes such a right exists. He also noted Obama’s remarks yesterday in the Rose Garden about judges being an “unelected group of people.” The court was clearly not amused.
There appear to be few limits on how far President Obama will distort facts. In truth, his health-care plan passed the House by only 219 to 212, despite that body’s overwhelming Democratic majority. It was the first major piece of social legislation within memory to pass Congress without a single vote from the opposition party.

Even some liberals believe the president went too far yesterday. Ruth Marcus, an editorial writer who covers the Supreme Court for the Washington Post, said Obama’s assault “stopped me cold . . . for the president to imply that the only explanation for a constitutional conclusion contrary to his own would be out-of-control conservative justices does the court a disservice.” It was a mistake for Obama to “declare war” on the court, says Jon Meacham, a contributing editor of Time magazine. Voters don’t like hearing assaults on the Supreme Court itself, probably because Americans believe “life needs umpires, even ones who blow calls now and then.”

So it is surreal for Obama, a former constitutional-law professor and president of the Harvard Law Review, to go after the court as if he were a demagogue seeking reelection. As the Wall Street Journal put it: “Obama’s inner community organizer seems to be winning out over the law professor.”

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Obama vs. Marbury v. Madison

From the WSJ:

President Obama is a former president of the Harvard Law Review and famously taught constitutional law at the University of Chicago. But did he somehow not teach the historic case of Marbury v. Madison?

That’s a fair question after Mr. Obama’s astonishing remarks on Monday at the White House when he ruminated for the first time in public on the Supreme Court’s recent ObamaCare deliberations. “I’m confident that the Supreme Court will not take what would be an unprecedented, extraordinary step of overturning a law that was passed by a strong majority of a democratically elected Congress,” he declared.

Presidents are paid to be confident about their own laws, but what’s up with that “unprecedented”? In Marbury in 1803, Chief Justice John Marshall laid down the doctrine of judicial review. In the 209 years since, the Supreme Court has invalidated part or all of countless laws on grounds that they violated the Constitution. All of those laws were passed by a “democratically elected” legislature of some kind, either Congress or in one of the states. And no doubt many of them were passed by “strong” majorities.

As it happens, probably stronger majorities than passed the Affordable Care Act. Readers may recall that the law was dragooned through a reluctant Senate without a single GOP vote and barely the 60 votes needed to break a filibuster. Despite a huge Democratic majority in the House, it passed by only 219-212.

One reason the law may be overturned is because it was rushed through Congress without a standard “severability” clause that says that the rest of the law stands if one part is judged unconstitutional. Congress jammed it into law because it became ever more unpopular the more the public looked at it. The law is even less popular today than it was on the day it passed in 2010.

Mr. Obama’s remarks suggest he is joining others on the left in warning the Justices that they will pay a political price if they dare to overturn even part of the law. As he runs for re-election, Mr. Obama’s inner community organizer seems to be winning out over the law professor.

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Unprecedented

From Daniel Henninger:

‘I am confident,” announced the president of the United States, “that the Supreme Court will not take what would be an unprecedented, extraordinary step of overturning a law that was passed by a strong majority of a democratically elected Congress.” And so it was on Monday that Barack Obama, anticipating a loss before the Supreme Court, added the third branch of government to the list of villains he will run against in his re-election campaign.

Many are saying the president should know Marbury v. Madison. He does. It doesn’t matter. If something gets in his way, Barack Obama hammers it—whether courts or Congress. The left likes that. It remains to find out if the rest of the country wants the judicial and legislative branches subordinated to a national leader.

[…]

It appears to be unprecedented, however, for a U.S. president to have attacked the Supreme Court before it handed down its decision. Some think Mr. Obama and his progressive infantry are trying to intimidate the Justices, specifically Justice Anthony Kennedy. But most legal commentary has said the president’s attack is likely to anger the justices, perhaps including some of the court’s liberals. Mr. Obama’s notion of judicial review diminishes all the members of any court, not just its conservatives. It doesn’t help the always difficult struggle for an independent judiciary in other countries if an American president is issuing Venezuela-like statements on U.S. courts.

Another possible explanation occurs. It’s in one of the grandest moments in “The Wizard of Oz,” when the Wizard, fumbling at the controls inside his throne room, shouts to Dorothy and the others: “Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain.” Barack Obama, a wizard of another kind, has been trying with fulminations and denunciations to keep anyone from attempting what a law professor might call discovery of what the president actually has done in the past three years. We already know, for instance, that the stimulus’s $825 billion went up the chimney. What else?

[…]

Where better to begin than at the mandate itself. The mandate is the probable cause of the law’s demise and so the source of the president’s rage. In fact, the word “mandate,” as argued before the court, appears nowhere in the ACA. What they were litigating was Subtitle F, Part I. Rather than “mandate,” its Orwellian title is the “Individual Responsibility Requirement.”

We already know that 67% of polled people think the mandate, which compels individuals to buy health insurance or pay a penalty, is unconstitutional. That number might go closer to 100% if people got a look at the law’s language.

The ACA calls the act of purchasing insurance a “required contribution.” Naturally, many will wonder if they can get out of this. That depends on the meaning of “required contribution,” as defined in “Chapter 48—Maintenance of Minimum Essential Coverage, (e) Exemptions, (B) Required contributions:

“For purposes of this paragraph, the term ‘required contribution’ means . . .: (ii) in the case of an individual eligible only to purchase minimum essential coverage described in subsection (f)(1)(C), the annual premium for the lowest cost bronze plan available in the individual market through the Exchange in the State in the rating area in which the individual resides (without regard to whether the individual purchased a qualified health plan though the Exchange), reduced by the amount of the credit allowable under section 36B for the taxable year (determined as if the individual was covered by a qualified health plan offered through the Exchange for the entire taxable year).

In the original “Oz,” the wizard voluntarily abandons the yellow brick road, discovers humility and returns to earth. The ending in our version will require an election.”

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The Four What?

The lack of self-awareness on the Left never fails to amaze. Here is how The New York Times refers to Supreme Court Justices Stephen Breyer, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Elena Kagan, and Sonia Sotomayor:

The four moderates on the court have a leftish bent, but they see their role as stewards of the law, balancing the responsibility to enforce the Constitution through judicial review against the duty to show deference to the will of the political branches. In that respect, they and the conservatives seem to be following entirely different rules.

The Times then goes on to say that if the conservative justices do what the Constitution empowers them to do, they will be bypassing the Constitution:

If the conservatives decide that they can sidestep the Constitution to negate Congress’s choices on crucial national policies, the court’s legitimacy — and the millions of Americans who don’t have insurance — will pay a very heavy price. Chief Justice Roberts has the opportunity to avoid this disastrous outcome by forging even a narrow ruling to uphold the mandate and the rest of the law. A split court striking down the act will be declaring itself virtually unfettered by the law. And if that happens along party lines, with five Republican-appointed justices supporting the challenge led by 26 Republican governors, the court will mark itself as driven by politics.

In Leftist parlance “driven by politics” means anything that they disagree with, i.e., anything that doesn’t increase the size and scope of government.

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