Posts Tagged ‘Constitution’

The Nullification Movement: Pursuit of a Phantasmal Constitutional Doctrine

Monday, January 27th, 2014

Ghosts of Confederates Past

There has long been a legal theory that the states have the right under our constitution to nullify such federal laws as they may unilaterally determine to be unconstitutional.  One of its earliest proponents was Vice President John C. Calhoun, who had hoped to employ the strategy in a dispute over tariffs.  His modern-day adherents wish to pursue this strategy anew.  The problem is that the idea has been roundly rejected by the federal judiciary, and one would have a difficult time demonstrating a successful historical precedent.  Most recently, in the 1950s, and 1960s, states in the South attempted to nullify federal law on the matter of desegregation.  In 1958, in Cooper v. Aaron, the state of Arkansas attempted to nullify the US Supreme Court’s decision in Brown v. Board of Education.  In another attempt at the related concept of interposition, the Supreme Court affirmed a lower court’s decision to reject Louisiana’s attempt to maintain segregation of the schools.  Repeatedly, the US courts have rejected attempts at nullification or interposition, and in that case, effectively derided such attempts as “no more than a protest, an escape valve through which legislators blew off steam to relieve their tensions…”  In short, while the proponents of these two strategies will continuously argue that theirs is the proper approach to our growing constitutional crisis, there is very little in the way of case-law or constitutional law to support their assertions.  Bluntly, the constitution says what it says, and we can no more imagine into it a nullification doctrine than we may assert any other ghostly doctrine into its text.  No apparitional legal doctrine is necessary while the constitution provides a solution within its text.

Some would claim that the states of Colorado and Washington, among others, are engaged in an act of nullification with respect to their legalization of marijuana.  The problem with this is that neither of these states have claimed to have the authority to indemnify citizens involved in the marijuana trade against federal law.  If federal law enforcement agencies decide to crack down in either of these states, or any other, you will quickly see that there is no nullification of any sort, and neither of the states have claimed a right to interpose between residents and the federal establishment.

With all of this in mind, it begs the question: Why do proponents of this particular, historically ineffectual legal doctrine continue to press forward?  The answer may lie in a sort of juvenile disregard for established authority and case-law.    Their claims rest on John C. Calhoun’s basic assertion of a state’s right to nullify federal law, and to interpose between the federal government and its residents.  As we have seen, such claims have never been upheld in any substantive manner by the federal judiciary, and Calhoun also asserted the right of secession.  In 1832, the theory of nullification had its first significant trial, in what would come to be termed the Nullification Crisis.  In this case, South Carolina’s legistlature declared the Tariffs of 1828 and 1832 to be unconstitutional.  The state claimed a sovereign authority to ignore the federal statute, and began military preparations to resist federal enforcement.  A compromise Tariff was enacted in 1833, and South Carolina repealed its nullification ordinance.  Both sides claimed victory, but the federal establishment had been preparing to enforce the 1832 Tariff by force if need be, and had enacted a statute for those purposes.

Naturally, the Civil War was in part about the authority of states to nullify, ignore, or otherwise refuse to comply with federal law, or to interpose between the federal government and states’ residents.  The entire Southern strategy during the 1950s and 1960s was to attempt various forms of nullification or interposition.  All such attempts failed in the face of federal use of force or the threat thereof.  One can scarcely imagine why it would be that contemporary proponents of these approaches would continue to advocate the unworkable.  It is as much a senseless, juvenile approach to the serious problems of federal overreach as any sort of serious movement.  The end of the nullification movement will come on the day the federal establishment decides it is time to dispense with it, and begins to strictly impose its will on those who would actually attempt it.  It begins to take on the character of a ranting, stomping toddler, who when deprived of his pacifier, throws a tantrum that has no force and no standing.

It is important to understand that what is in the constitution is in the constitution, and what isn’t there simply isn’t.  While one can point to this statement or that of some framers of the US Constitution for authority for nullification or interposition, where one cannot point with any credibility is the US Constitution itself.  More, one cannot show any successful case history upholding this approach.  It simply doesn’t exist, contrary to the bleating of the sheep who have been roped into this thinking.  They speak often of natural rights, and as a proponent of natural law, I am always willing to listen to such arguments, but I am also a realist in the sense that setting all of the flowery speech about natural rights aside, the problem always lies in the legal recognition of said rights.  Like some of nullification’s proponents, I long for the day when the full scope of natural rights of man are recognized and enforced at all levels of government, but I also understand that in order to see such a formal recognition, it will take explicit changes to our constitution to enforce the claims we might make to them. Rights must exist in the text of our laws, or risk doing without them.  As we have seen in administration after administration, and Congress after Congress, there exists no shortage of those who will extend federal law to every conceivable extent because there is no explicit warrant against it in the US Constitution.  The ninth and tenth amendments notwithstanding, it has ever been that an existing federal law seems in nearly all cases to trump a claimed right not explicitly guaranteed.

With all of this in mind, I wish the nullifiers well, and I hope when they’ve blown off some of the steam, they’ll come ’round to a more rational, proven approach.  We can amend our constitution, and we can do so by two explicit methods laid forth by Article V.  One need not search for the political writings of John C. Calhoun, Jefferson Davis, or even James Madison or Thomas Jefferson to affect change under our constitutional system.  Instead, one need observe only its text, applying the counsel provided by history to embark on a course already established.

Some of the “nullifiers” deride Mark Levin’s efforts toward an Article V amending convention of the states, writing in ominous tones about the potential for a “runaway convention.”  This sort of scare tactic is the sort of thing one might expect from people bent on their own agenda, and while caution is always merited when fiddling around with our supreme law, I think it’s also fair to suggest that we can do so without substantial danger.  Do I endorse all of Levin’s proposed amendments?  No.  Do I think many of them have merit?  Absolutely!  Do I believe we can afford to further obfuscate the matter by pursuing phantasms of nullification that have never availed a peaceable, workable solution?  No. I do not wish to pour energy and resources into the pursuit of a doctrine held to be little more than a temper-tantrum.  Let us admit that to restore our constitutional system, we must first resolve to live within its bounds as a matter of faithfulness to its principles.  That’s the whole point, after all, so that if Article V was good enough for our framers, then it shall likewise be good enough for me.

 

Mark Levin Explains Forthcoming Book

Thursday, July 11th, 2013

Constitutional Prescription

Mark Levin introduced his audience to the conceptual aim of his forthcoming book on Wednesday evening.  Titled The Liberty Amendments: Restoring the American Republic, the book is set to be released on August 13th, although it can be pre-ordered on Amazon now.  His basic premise is this: In all the history of the United States, governed under the constitution arising from the convention begun in 1787, and completed in 1791, there have been twenty-seven amendments successfully ratified, all arising through the Article V. process  that permits two-thirds of both the House and Senate to propose an amendment, leaving it to three-fourths of the states to ratify and enact it.  Dr. Levin rightly points out that the second course offered by Article V has never been exercised, and it is this recourse by which we must seek our national restoration.  The second alternative is to seek a convention to amend the constitution, without interference or obstruction by the Federal Congress.  In suggesting this alternative, Levin explains why this process was created, and how we might now use it to bring the Federal government to heel.  It’s admittedly a long shot, but it may be the only course now remaining.

For those not familiar with Article V, here is the entire text, with the relevant clauses emphasized:

“The Congress, whenever two thirds of both Houses shall deem it necessary, shall propose Amendments to this Constitution, or, on the Application of the Legislatures of two thirds of the several States, shall call a Convention for proposing Amendments, which, in either Case, shall be valid to all Intents and Purposes, as Part of this Constitution, when ratified by the Legislatures of three fourths of the several States or by Conventions in three fourths thereof, as the one or the other Mode of Ratification may be proposed by the Congress; Provided that no Amendment which may be made prior to the Year One thousand eight hundred and eight shall in any Manner affect the first and fourth Clauses in the Ninth Section of the first Article; and that no State, without its Consent, shall be deprived of its equal Suffrage in the Senate.”-US CONST ART V

Many fear that such an amending convention would result in a chaotic process that would effectively rewrite and thereby overthrow the existing constitution, but as Levin explained Wednesday, there need be no such effect because any amendments proposed would still require the approval of three-fourths of states(thirty-eight of fifty,) in order to be ratified.  In his coming book, he is introducing eleven “Liberty Amendments” as a means to put in place much-need restraints on our increasingly out-of-control government.

I sincerely hope that among them, he will call for the repeal of the seventeenth amendment, a blight on our system of checks and balances from which this country now suffers mightily.  Over the course of this blog, I have introduced other ideas for amendments, and as a matter of curiosity, but also as a matter of interest as an activist in pursuit of liberty.  We desperately need to think about this, and to bring this to the attention of our fellow Americans, who may not understand it, may not recognize its value, and may not otherwise be exposed to the reasoning for taking this approach.

Levin’s explanation is simple in broad terms: The Federal government has grown to an extent that it can no longer be relied upon as the instrument by which it will be disciplined.  Even if the task seems impossible, both as an educational and preparatory exercise, it is important to pursue this course.  As Levin explained it, if the Federal government’s current course causes the catastrophic results we can reasonably expect, it would be best if the American people already had freshly in mind the manner by which to force reform down the Federal government’s throat without resorting to violence and upheaval.

We conservatives know where our government’s current path will lead, and we’re also informed as to the unambiguous intransigence of the current Federal leviathan.   We cannot rely on Washington DC, or any of the branches of our Federal government to restrain or discipline themselves in any way.  Even in such a states-based effort, the Federal establishment in Washington would do everything it is able to impede, obstruct, and ultimately blunt the effects of any such effort.  As Levin further contended, if the Federal government, specifically the Congress, endeavored to break with the rules of the process as outlined in Article V, this would indeed act as a probably trigger for the last resort to which a free people may turn in the face of tyranny.  After all, if the Federal government itself became so lawless that it would ignore specific constitutional processes, that government is itself in anarchy and may no longer lay legitimate claim to the authority to govern.

Government needs a good spanking, and we cannot rely on this pack of spoiled children and their enablers to deliver it.  We will need to rise up, to educate, and to use the processes already available under the constitution to impose our will on the government, whether it can be accomplished by efforts in time of peace and relative prosperity, or will be delayed until exigency demands it, and dramatic reform may no longer be denied.  As has been oft-quoted by government officials, particularly in the judiciary, the US Constitution is not a “suicide pact,” but this works in both directions.  It is not a suicide pact most of all for we the people, and it is time we reassert it supremacy as the foundation of our law, and the basis for our nation’s long-enjoyed prosperity and liberty.

This makes all the more important the efforts of grass-roots groups, such as the Tea Party and any sort of “Freedom Faction” that might arise to challenge the existing establishment, because this approach will require the broadest demands of the people working in every state in the union.  None should be deluded into thinking such an undertaking will occur in one election cycle, or any number of them, without a persistent and unrelenting dedication of purpose.  Once again, let history record that we had been the people equal to the task of self-governance.  Let it be said of us that we gave it our fullest measure of devotion, for the country and the constitution we still love and revere, that our children and grandchildren might yet inherit its fullest blessings.

Note: Site modifications and updates are still being brought online in phases. Some of the largest chores are yet to be done, and I intend to carry them out Friday night or in one case, Saturday night.  Visitors in the wee hours of the morning are likely to experience sporadic outages.  Thank you for your continued patience.

Class in Session: Mark Levin Declares RINO-ism Dead

Wednesday, January 23rd, 2013

RINOism Dead!

There should be no mistake about what Mark Levin believes, or even the vast reach of his influence over the debate about government.  Many left-wingers and not a few establishment Republicans accuse Dr. Levin of being a yelling mad-man, but that ignores the extent to which he influences the public debate.  At an event last year in support of Ted Cruz, in the run-off that made him the Republican candidate, one attendee asked quite simply:  How can we stop the construction of Ameritopia?  What was stunning wasn’t the fact that the Senate Candidate knew full well what the questioner meant, being a friend with Dr. Levin and a campaign season guest on his show, but that all around the room, heads nodded up and down, because they knew the meaning of the question too.  When the Senator answered, he demonstrated an understanding of the implications with respect to the US constitution, but unlike your typical rally of Democrats, the audience understood his points in part because some of them are lifetime students of our civil society, but also because among them were many listeners of Mark Levin’s show.

On Tuesday evening, frustrated with the talking points and narratives of establishment Republicans who wish to blame conservatives for last November’s losses, Levin launched:

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Dr. Levin holds a special contempt for so-called RINOs, or as I have recently dubbed them, “Mini-Dems.” They don’t believe in conservatism, or near as one can tell, much of anything.  Instead, theirs is the worship of a brand of vague pragmatism that ends in Republican defeats.  Of course, Dr. Levin realizes the RINOs aren’t going away, but here I think the larger point is that the underlying strategies and arguments that comprise RINOism are dead, as demonstrated by their repeated failures in election after election.

Levin’s reach into the blogosphere is deep and wide, as almost daily, some blogger somewhere, much as I’m doing now, is posting a vital clip from his show, and this acts as a spark for debate, not merely between left and right, but more importantly in the wake of last November’s election defeats, between and among Republicans and conservatives.  This is because Levin spares no feelings, or at least not many, in making the essential and incisive points that establish the conditions of the debate.  This may explain more than anything else why Levin’s show has grown while others have remained fairly static.  He engages one’s mind, and he demands you follow the logic.  He makes no apologies for supporting the Tea Party, or the conservative wing of the party, as Levin came up in politics in the watershed year of 1976, campaigning for Ronald Reagan.  Though Reagan lost that election, it set the stage for his nomination and election in 1980, and Levin was there to learn the critical lessons.

Most listeners to Levin’s show comprise a group of studious, committed pupils, attending a a constitutional classroom in which the principles behind the founding of the country and the framing of its constitution are the daily lesson plan.  What’s more, while it’s relatively early to draw this conclusion, as conservatives are searching for answers to their current political morass, it seems as though more are turning to Levin for the answers.  It’s not as though Levin claims to be an all-knowing font of wisdom on what ought to be conservatives’ course, but his determination to fight and keep moving is enough because what becomes plain to his listeners is his unfailing commitment to see the battle through, whatever form it takes.  Part of this may owe to the fact that in the wake of the 2012 election, conservatives are looking for a strong, articulate leader to make their best case for liberty, but I believe it’s a good deal more substantive than that.  Levin seems almost instinctively to understand what the left will try next, which may explain why the stories he reads on one day so often become the topic of discussion throughout the blogosphere on the next day.

It’s been true on this site, almost from its inception, and on many occasions, I have brought readers audio from Dr. Levin’s show.  My readers will have no idea on how many occasions Dr. Levin had stolen my thunder by covering a stories that I had in draft form as Levin’s show began, only to later discard them because on topics of substance, he generally leaves so little to be explained.  That’s fine by me, but it highlights another important point about Levin: He’s plugged-in, and he works tirelessly outside the confines of his show, not merely to prepare for his daily three-hour lesson in liberty, but because in other efforts, he’s at the tip of the spear.  The Landmark Legal Foundation is his other instrument of our republic’s defense, taking up cases of constitutional import on behalf of a grateful people.  This level of involvement means that unlike so many other talkers, he’s in the trenches with us, and often as the point-man out ahead of us, spotting danger and directing the initial engagements.

Given all this, you’d think more Republican politicians would heed his advice, but where Dr. Levin is fearless, all too often, elected officials won’t follow his lead, out of a fear frequently masquerading as an overabundance of prudence.  Levin understands this, and he often asks politicians questions that he then suggests they not answer, instead completing the thought on his own, knowing the precarious state of any official’s office.  Levin’s show is probably also the largest network of plugged-in conservative activists in the general right-wing sphere, and his audience is unashamed to lean on politicians and to begin with the phrase: “I heard on Mark Levin’s show that you were going to vote for…”  It is for this reason that so many of the DC Republican establishment tunes into his show, and while most won’t admit it, the fact is that they are well aware of Levin, and they feel his electoral influence. Politicians on the receiving end of his support love to hear the phrase “Levin surge” pronounced on their behalf, just as they cringe when they pop up on Levin’s radar for the sake of a well-deserved critique.  They know they’re about to find their email and voice-mail full, and they’re going to get it both from Levin on the radio as well as from their constituents.

What may make Levin the most compelling and influential of the talkers and political media figures is that he expresses his contempt for the malfeasance of politicians and parties in the context of legal concepts on which he daily refreshes his audience.  Apart from this blog, and rare few like it, you will not often witness a discussion of the principles underlying our supreme law.  Law can be a minefield as any layperson will know, but there’s something precious about the ability to breath life into the collection of words, explaining their meaning and the context in which they were formulated in a manner that both educates and engages listeners.  Very often, listeners to Dr. Levin’s show evince a reverence for our republic’s charter that is both touching and sincere, but also ironic in light of how easily their alleged “betters” dispense with both its words and spirit inside the beltway.

This kind of reformation movement isn’t religious, but its most ardent supporters would contend that while they may cling to their guns and their bibles, they haven’t turned-loose of their constitution either.  Listening Tuesday evening, as Levin mentioned the effect he suspected his show might have on the national dialogue, I wondered aloud in response to my deaf computer screen as to just how many of the people I know are now loyal Levin listeners, and the truth is something staggering.  I may live in rural Texas, where we tend to value liberty more than the average, but even friends from the distant large cities, in this state and out, all seem quite familiar with Levin’s show, his daily “lesson plans” frequently filling my morning inbox:   “Did you hear what Mark [Levin] said last night?”  There’s no denying he’s a bold and entertaining talk radio phenomenon, but more than this, he’s also the commander of constitutional defense headquarters on a national scale.  When people seek the low-down on the latest Obama executive usurpation, they tune to one show on the dial and in streams across the Internet, because for better or worse, they know they’ll find the answers.

Dr. Levin can be heard Monday-Friday, 6-9pm Eastern, both on terrestrial radio and streaming from his site, as well as  affiliates.  If you miss the live show, he also offers free downloads of his podcasts here.

Obama Openly Hints at Dictatorship

Thursday, December 6th, 2012

Dictator Obama

In a speaking engagement that looked suspiciously like a campaign stump speech, on Wednesday, Barack Obama implied that if Republicans attempted to tie the debt ceiling to the budgetary negotiations, he might ignore them, stating “We’re not going to play that game.”  All along, Obama has shown a willingness to exceed his constitutional authority.  Since the Debt Ceiling debacle of 2011, there’s word circulating in leftist circles that under the 14th Amendment, there is some authority for the President to ignore Congress in order to satisfy the payment of our debts, but no such authority exists in the 14th Amendment.  This is a troubling proposition, and the fact that our Prevaricator-in-Chief  now makes these kinds of implications portends potentially lethal danger to our republic.  Obama has made little secret of the fact that he detests the prohibitions on excessive government authority in the US Constitution, but ladies and gentlemen, if he hasn’t gone too far already, this should be the proverbial straw that breaks the camel’s back.

To help you understand what this ludicrous, malevolent narcissist has in mind, let’s first view his speech to the Business Roundtable on Wednesday.  The most interesting remarks come after the 13:00 mark, but the whole of the speech offers insight into the maniacal thinking of this man.  He is going to destroy this economy to exact his revenge, and none should be in the mood to let John Boehner make deals with this sort of mindset:

As to the proposition that the 14th Amendment provides some authority for the President to circumvent Congress, this is a preposterous claim.  The relevant sections of the Fourteenth Amendment states:

Section 4. The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, including debts incurred for payment of pensions and bounties for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellion, shall not be questioned. But neither the United States nor any State shall assume or pay any debt or obligation incurred in aid of insurrection or rebellion against the United States, or any claim for the loss or emancipation of any slave; but all such debts, obligations and claims shall be held illegal and void.

Section 5. The Congress shall have power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article

Notice that section 4 was intended to deal specifically with war debt accrued by the Union in fighting against the confederacy during the civil war.  The leftists who advocate on behalf of section 4 as a proscription against a debt ceiling are lunatics.  It not only requires the setting aside of the context of the amendment, but also ignoring the subsequent section, that specifically empowers Congress to enact legislation pursuant to this amendment.

In Article I, Section 8, the following are to be found among the specifically enumerated powers of Congress:

The Congress shall have power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common defense and general Welfare of the United States; but all Duties, Imposts and Excises shall be uniform throughout the United States;

To borrow Money on the credit of the United States;

To coin Money, regulate the Value thereof, and of foreign Coin, and fix the Standard of Weights and Measures;

To provide for the Punishment of counterfeiting the Securities and current coin of the United States;

Notice that all of these powers that are in fact granted to Congress in financial and fiscal matters fall within the context of the following statement, concluding Section 8:

;—And

To make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution the foregoing Powers, and all other Powers vested by this Constitution in the Government of the United States, or in any Department or Officer thereof.

There is no mention of a Presidential role in this process, apart from his ordinary Article II authority to veto or approve legislation.  Nothing in Article II provides the President authority to coin money, borrow money, or appropriate funds. No imaginary, tortured rationalizations of the 14th Amendment permit him to touch this apart from signing or vetoing legislation that comes before him. If he attempts what the leftists are suggesting, he is in open violation of the constitution, and this must be confronted.

Naturally, given the track record of Barack Obama, there’s little to suggest that he wouldn’t merely claim the authority, act on such basis, and then simply let Congress try to stop him in court.  This would essentially create a window in which we would be reliant upon John Boehner and the Republicans to stop him, but the tepid leadership we’ve seen to date suggests they would present no obstacle to this imperial president.

My friends, there is nothing so dangerous as a demagogue acting as chief of state, and his inclinations toward dictatorial actions provide plenty of cause for concern.  Not only must we rid ourselves of John Boehner, but we must also be willing to make a stand against this president in the name of the constitution.  Our nation is dying a slow death, but rather than acting responsibly, Barack Obama is rushing to be the first man to throw a shovel-full of dirt on its grave.  John Boehner is weak and tepid, a pallbearer to our premature national funeral, and he seems more concerned with his own political survival.  We are in deep trouble, but we must stand on behalf of our constitution, or risk losing it.

 

Do Conservatives Wish to Repair the Supreme Court?

Sunday, July 1st, 2012

We Can Fix This, YES WE CAN!

One of the things I love about the United States Constitution is that it is a living document, but its life is breathed into it not by some magic power to change its meaning, or change the meaning of the words in its text, as leftists do, but by the rules laid down within it, we have the ability to amend it, or replace it altogether, through the amendment and convention processes, respectively.  These are quite difficult and potentially dangerous processes, but this is why progressives have used dishonest means to change the impact of the Constitution on law.  They figure that the best way to get what they want is to place justices on the court who will undo the meaning of the Constitution.  The recent Supreme Court decision has left strict constructionists in a bit of a quandary: Here we have a wayward element within the court, the Chief Justice, no less, and it seems we’re to be stuck with him, probably for a long, long time.  What most people don’t realize about the Court, however, is that its size and most of the rules determining its power are set by Congress, and that the Constitution gives Congress said power.  There is a way to fix the court, but it would require a Congress with guts.  Imagine that such a creature were to exist.  What could Congress do to repair the Court?

Most people don’t study the Constitution, never mind history, so they’re unaware that Congress has the power to set the number of justices on the Supreme Court.  There is nothing locking us into the number nine, and there is nothing sacred about it.  As a cost-saving measure, since we now have another mindless entitlement program for which to pay, Congress could reduce that number to seven.  The Congress could apply the LIFO(Last In-First Out) rule to determine who stays.  This would lop off Kagan and Sotomayor, they having most recently joined the court.  In a punitive mood?  Want further cost savings?  We could make that number three, and by applying the LIFO rule, this would leave us with Justices Scalia, Kennedy, and Thomas.  I would like to know which of you conservatives wouldn’t favor that?

In 1937, the New Deal was getting hammered in the Court.  President Roosevelt’s agenda was running into resistance much as Obama’s has encountered conservative resistance these days, but with a two differences:  He owned both houses of Congress, but the Supreme Court at the time was busily overturning vast portions of the New Deal.  FDR’s plan was to push his agenda through by increasing the number of justices on the court until he had a liberal ruling majority.  The Senate cried foul, and momentarily, and FDR’s plan was halted.  He naturally found another manner to accomplish his ends, and it was to sweeten the retirement pot for Supreme Court justices, inducing some of the older members to retire, and after the passage of the Supreme Court Retirement Act.  This ultimately led to the rapid retirements of several members, FDR made his appointments, and then the New Deal began to be upheld. (The Retirement Act permitted Supreme Court Justices to retire with 100% of their last salary.)

The Supreme Court was not always composed of nine members. For the record, and thanks to Wikipedia for having it condensed into this form:

Congress organized the Court that year with the passage of the Judiciary Act of 1789. It specified the Court’s original and appellate jurisdiction, created thirteen judicial districts, and fixed the number of justices at six (one Chief Justice and five Associate Justices).

Since the passage of the Judiciary Act, Congress has occasionally altered the size of the Supreme Court, historically in response to the country’s own expansion in size. Membership was decreased in 1801 to five, then increased to seven members in 1807, to nine in 1837, and to ten in 1863. It was then reduced to seven in 1866. In 1869, Congress set the Court’s size to nine members, where it has remained since.

As you can see, there were quite a number of modifications, but the salient point is that there is nothing sacred about the number nine(9).  It could just as easily be three(3), or even one(1).

This may seem a radical solution, but as you can see from the history, it’s only because we’ve become accustomed to there being nine justices.  If we reduced the number to three, it is true that we would lose Samuel Alito, but that could be repaired by a conservative president upon the retirement of one of the others.  My point to readers is that there is a solution available to us, but the question is: How badly do we want it, and can we live with the dangers?  Given the ruling of John Roberts, I am of a mind to pursue this.  I’d like to send him packing.  I’d like to send his leftist friends with him.

All we need to accomplish this is bullet-proof conservative majorities in both houses of Congress, but therein lies the problem.  If we are to have any chance to repair this, we must own both the House and the Senate.  This makes taking the Senate our most important priority in the Fall elections, but it also means that we must be sure to place conservatives in office.  Of course, one could argue(and some will) that if we capture both houses of Congress, and the Presidency, we would have no need of this ‘solution’ to our problem, but I must thoroughly disagree. Our Supreme Court is damaged, and in subsequent rulings, it will be worse if we don’t repair the court.  Can you imagine the lawsuits liberals will bring even if we do overturn Obama-care as a matter of statute?  What would this Supreme Court do with that?  With the mindless and idiotic ruling of John Roberts, inventing law out of whole cloth, I can imagine him finding some way to overturn a Repeal Act.  Statists don’t care about logical consistency, after all, or they wouldn’t be statists.

I realize my proposal will fall on deaf ears, and I know too that we have far too few staunch conservatives in either house of Congress to actually carry this out, but I’m merely telling you what could be done, legally, under our Constitution.  After all, the worst part of this Supreme Court ruling isn’t merely that Obama-care has been upheld, but the sinking realization that liberals effectively have a ruling majority with which we will be stuck for a long, long time.  Nothing is more dangerous to the country than a court that will not act as a brake on tyranny.  Let’s call it the Three-LIFO plan and be done with it.

I Would Like to Thank John Roberts

Thursday, June 28th, 2012

Thanks John Roberts!

I wish to thank Chief Supreme Court Justice John Roberts. He has made plain what I have been arguing for some time: This nation is dead. Everything that had made it a nation, indivisible, has been wiped away, and in its place is a stinking, festering carcass of past glory. What remains is the fetid, reeking, scorched remains of a free people, now subjugated into tyranny by a United States Supreme Court dominated by a cabal of leftists and pragmatists, the former seeking to overturn our constitution, and the latter willing to join them in order to remain popular. There is no political liberty anywhere on Earth any longer.

There will be some number of conservative talking heads who will urge calm, and if you feel inclined to listen to that hogwash, you should follow your leanings, but I will have none of it. There is nothing in this but pure, unmitigated evil. This law has converted us to the Soviet Union. The walls are not [yet] built, and the barb-wired fences to restrain us are not [yet] erected, but all the necessary elements of a slave state are now in place.

Freedom of choice? Gone.

Freedom to be unmolested by outrageous governmental persecution? Gone.

Freedom to worship(or not) as one sees fit? Gone.

Freedom to live one’s life according to such beliefs? Gone.

Freedom to be secure in your person and your effects? Gone.

Freedom to decide what is in one’s own best interest? Stripped, wrecked, tormented, and tossed aside by John Roberts and the rest of the Statist Judicial activists on the Supreme Court.

Do you realize that to decide as he did, John Roberts had to ignore the plain language of the law, and imagine what is a penalty provision into a tax?

We have here a case of judicial activism writ large across our constitution, and it is a red-letter stamp: Null and Void.

Do you expect Mitt Romney to save you from this? Do you expect him to step up and do so?

Ladies and gentlemen, this has been rigged. The least-qualified Republican to campaign against Obamacare is our presumptive nominee. The least-qualified to criticize it will now be our candidate?

Shall I play the funeral dirge now, or wait until November 7th?

While the media has immediately leaped into the considerations of the horse-race aspects of this Supreme Court ruling, nobody is addressing the fact that our liberties have been stripped from us. Nobody but a few lonely conservative bloggers, Sarah Palin, and Rush Limbaugh. I expect other talk-show hosts will address this matter, but what we have in this case is a complete dissolution of the United States as we have known it.

I will not pay for Obama-care. I am looking into pulling my own health insurance, and making them force me to pay. SCREW THEM! This is my life, my money, my health, my choice.

I refuse. I reference the first Texas flag:

I Mean It

Will the Patient Live?

Wednesday, June 27th, 2012

Will our Republic Endure?

The Republic that is our constitutional, representative form of government stands upon a precipice.  We have a President who has undertaken to set aside the constitution at every turn.  We have a Congress divided, split between a Senate controlled by a maniacal shill for the President, and a House of Representatives led(and I use that verb very loosely) by a Speaker who is unwilling to do battle with the President, unwilling to attempt even the most basic defense of our Constitution, and incapable even of holding an outrageous Attorney General to account  without much hand-wringing and waffling.  We have a United State Supreme Court that has most recently ruled that States have no sovereignty to speak of, and not even the authority to protect its own citizenry.  We are told by the presumptive Republican nominee that he will repeal Obamacare, despite implementing a similar program in the state he governed, while his various mouthpieces talk about “replacement.”

Do you think we face long odds?  Do you believe our Republic can survive or recover?  The decision expected from the Supreme Court on Thursday will either re-shape our country forevermore, or allow us one more opportunity to restore it.  Make no mistake about it:  If the court upholds the Affordable Car Act, the Republic is dead.

I have given this a good deal of thought, busy as I have been these last two months, and as we’ve all waited to see what tomorrow will bring, I’ve decided that if the Supreme Court of the United States upholds this legislative abomination, a de facto state of war exists between the United States Federal Government and the people whose rights it had been constituted to defend.  Those who will perceive this as true will be branded enemies of the state, in one fashion or another, and the decline of this Republic will accelerate at a breathtaking pace. There can be no recovery of the Republic if this law is allowed to stand, and the urgings to repeal it from we citizens, with platforms large and small, will fall on the same deaf ears that have ignored our pleas for more than two years.  If this law stands, there is no constitutional, representative republic.

If the law is overturned, even then, our jeopardy will only have begun, because this President will ignore the ruling of the court, as he has done repeatedly, and as he has done remorselessly.  He will attempt to impose his program anyway, and even should our  milquetoast House of Representatives act to impede him, he will turn to incitement, outright.  He will attempt to raise a mob, and force his will by virtue of threats and violence.  He will do everything in his power, and many, many things beyond their legitimate exercise in order to create chaos.  Barack Obama will not rest, and none of the looters or moochers who ride upon his coattails will allow this to be overturned. We may see what can only be termed a civil war, and it will be bloody.

This is the direction in which this nation has been lurching for generations, since the so-called “progressives” took over both parties.  We have been led into a box canyon, from which none may escape unscathed.  Today, idiotic former Democrat Congressman from Rhode Island, and latest family ne’er-do-well, Patrick Kennedy warned:

“If the Court upholds the law, dangerous Tea Party extremists will go on a rampage.”

We should be so lucky.  The truth is that if the court upholds this law, Tea Party types will not go on a rampage, because they are not dangerous, although they probably should have been.

Rampage or not, civil war or not, this piece of legislation and all that has followed in its wake serve to demonstrate how fragile our Republic has become after a century of unceasing statist agitation.  In the 1930s, we could have sustained this condition had our court exhibited such staying power as to have overturned all of the New Deal legislation, because the American people were still a moral people by a vastly overwhelming majority.  By “moral,” I mean specifically in the sense that they respected the notion of property rights, the idea of self-sufficiency, and the concepts that once buttressed our constitutional foundation.  Who now can claim this description would apply?

I spent most of the first decade of my adult life serving under an oath by which I swore to uphold and defend the United States Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic.  I have never yielded on my oath, neither for comfort nor for ease; neither for the sake of a false unity nor for the sake of familial peace.  Sadly, many of my countrymen no longer even understand what principles that oath had been constructed to honor, and to protect, but still, I observe it, while our Supreme Court ignores it, our President demolishes it, and our Congress abandons its defense.  No branch of government seems interested in upholding it any longer, and by this procedure, they have slowly stolen our Constitution from us.  Thursday, we will learn if we shall have even one more chance to resurrect our Republic, but if we are given that chance, we must neither squander it nor revel too long in our temporary reprieve.  “Rampage?”  Indeed, we of Tea Party orientation must rampage at the polls, where we must not permit even the most thuggish brigands of the President to deter us from our electoral duties.  We must now walk back the entire statist menu, or watch our Republic perish.  If the Supreme Court does not present a sentence of death, we must make the most of any temporary stay. We must undo it all, or be undone by it.

The Dissolution of the Social Compact

Wednesday, February 29th, 2012

Is America Breaking Down?

On Tuesday evening, Mark Levin posed a question on his radio show that bears serious consideration by we conservatives, and I think it’s time we discuss it.  It’s not a matter of winning any longer, but whether we can stave off disaster.  What Levin wondered aloud was whether our nation might be saved at all. He asked if it is too late, because there are too few people remaining who will oppose the advance of statism.  Are we too few?  Is it too late?  Is the America we had known doomed?  If so, what will we have instead?  Our Republic stands on the brink of collapse, and the question we now face is what we can do about it.  The signs are all around us: If we don’t turn things around in 2012, it may be that we never will.

Identifying the problem we face is simple, and it’s really what Alexis de Tocqueville proposed when he wrote that if the Democracy In America.  Among all of the other important and prescient things he warned, these may have been the two we should have etched in stone on the steps of Congress, and on every class-room door in the country:

“The American Republic will endure until the day Congress discovers that it can bribe the public with the public’s money.” ― Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America

That helps to describe our predicament, and this punctuates it:

“A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the voters discover that they can vote themselves largesse from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates promising the most benefits from the public treasury with the result that a democracy always collapses over loose fiscal policy, always followed by a dictatorship. The average age of the world’s greatest civilizations has been 200 years.” ― Alexis de Tocqueville

Our nation is now just more than 200 years on from the adoption of our current constitution, and it seems that the cause of Tocqueville’s warning is being realized before our eyes.  Barack Obama is effectively a dictator, overturning laws by failing to enforce them, and by promulgating regulations that have no legal basis in authority under our Constitution.  Our people, a majority of them, live substantially by taking from others, and those who produce their living have been indoctrinated to supine servitude.  This isn’t the nation of our founding, and our current president’s enmity to the constitution to which he has sworn an oath demonstrates our dire situation.  Many judges no longer see any reason to restrain themselves to the content or context of the laws on the basis of which they’re allegedly ruling, and they reach out to international case law for precedents that conflict with our own constitution.  Under these conditions, our Republic cannot survive, much less flourish, and we are headed for darkness.

Part of what my professional life entails is the process of evaluating threats and vulnerabilities, and projecting organization capabilities for confronting them.  Applying that technique to our current situation, for individuals who consider themselves conservative, never mind libertarian, I think we’re going to see a revolution of radical statists, and I believe this has been the aim of George Soros and his pack of radical cohorts.  Our options are going to be just three, and you had better begin to consider them:

  • Submit – Accept the country is going to become a radical socialist state complete with a police-state front
  • Flee – Leave the country in search of friendly shores that will accept you
  • Fight – Take up arms against i, risking life, limb, and property

These aren’t pleasant options, no matter which we consider, but let’s look at them.  To submit would mean to maintain immediate physical safety, but it also means giving up virtually all personal sovereignty.  I’m not cut out for this option, because I’m not one who respects claims of arbitrary authority over my life, or the way in which I choose to live it.  I’m not one who abides by theft, whether carried out by a hoodlum in a darkened alleyway, or in the open by a federal bureaucrat.  I don’t accept the idea that my life, liberty, and property are rightly subject to the aggression of other men, whether alone, or as a mob.  This means that for me, I’m not inclined to submit, but every person will be forced to make their own choices.  I fear too many will lie down in order to avoid harm, because in point of fact, the last century has been a progression of this sort of incremental surrender.

I don’t wish to surrender my country.  I’m not the sort to flee from tyranny, although I must admit that I’ve done so before.  I live out in the country precisely because I could not abide the growing tyranny in a municipality that orders its residents to have so many shrubs, so many trees, and what sort of decorations they can place on their own properties.  I could not abide it, so I moved a short way out of the city, and in a matter of a decade, that city annexed properties quickly advancing upon me.  At that point, I moved my family and my horses to an even more remote locale, and set up the farm where I expect that I will find some peace for the remainder of my days.  This won’t be the case, however, if the federal government becomes the sort of coercive police state that leftists desire.  There will be no escape to the country, and the only choice will be to flee the country altogether.

As I’ve reported, there have been some people, including filmmaker James Cameron who have fled to New Zealand, but the problem for most of us is that few can afford that move, and countries like New Zealand are smart enough to refuse easy immigration.  Where then shall we go?  The geographical isolation that has served America as a protection promises to serve now as a prison.  Canada?  Mexico?  These are our choices, and neither looks very promising to most Americans.  I can’t imagine that Mexico will offer much promise, and Canada won’t absorb us all.  In my view, this sort of flight isn’t feasible for me, or for most Americans, which then brings us along to the option nobody wants to consider.

Fighting a counter-revolution is a deadly affair, particularly when the power of government is in the hands of the revolutionaries.  From the outset, they will have command of the entire military, the police, and indeed, the entire array of government institutions, and since the media serves the revolution in most important ways, they’ve already created a willing propaganda arm.  They control the horizontal and the vertical, so communications will become an impossibility.  How do you wage a war against such a force?  How is it possible to win?  There is a very good reason that peoples the world over flee from or submit to large scale national social tyrannies:  These are easier than fighting.  These pose less danger.

What sort of country have ours become that we must even consider the revolutionary tyranny that is now creeping toward us, gathering inertia?  I do not wish to seem as though I’m a doomsayer, but the truth is that we’re in very real national distress.  Across the vast expanses of this country, there are probably fewer than one in six who I would consider committed patriots who believe we should maintain this republic as framed by our constitution, but still fewer who are willing to fight to preserve it.  I doubt we could must five million patriots who would step forward and take up arms in defense of the republic, and make war against the people who have slowly usurped our system of government.

I am not asking or urging anybody to do anything, except think.  I’d like you to consider the meaning of all of these things, and what you are willing to do to preserve what we all claim to love so dearly.  Is our liberty to be abandoned without a fight?  Is our freedom really to be eclipsed in this generation?  Why are we going on quietly about our lives?  The Tea Party was launched with the intention of creating a push-back, but the Tea Party has been largely silent in the last year.   The problem is that without some rallying cry, we’re sliding more quickly toward the national catastrophe that now awaits in the gaping maw of the social welfare police-state.  The other problem faced by those who would be inclined to fight if it comes to it is that we don’t have a single bright line for the trigger for a fight.  What is that trigger?  What is the thing that if the government undertakes, we would immediately respond with war?

This reminds me of the story of Wyatt Earp standing down a mob:  “Sure, you’ll get me in a rush, but who wants to be first?”  This is a question nobody likes to consider, because nobody wants to be first.  Perhaps that will change, and perhaps it’s not yet as bad as that implies, but at some point, we’ll reach that climax at the pace in which we’re now rushing toward tyranny.  All I’m suggesting to my fellow Americans is that now is the time to think these things through.  What will we do in defense of our constitution when those sworn to uphold it decide instead to set it aside?  What will be that condition under which we will no longer abide the transgressions?  It’s easy to make brave oaths, today in the shrinking protection our liberties provide, but if our social compact is to be dissolved, it will no longer be a matter of oaths but instead a course of actions that we must consider.

 

Ruth Bader-Ginsburg Goes to Egypt, Criticizes Constitution

Saturday, February 4th, 2012

Justice Ginsburg in Egypt

Conservatives have known ever since this leftist was shoved onto the Court by Bill Clinton that she would be a thorn in our sides until she departs that body.  On a trip to Egypt, Associate Justice Bader-Ginsburg was interviewed and asked her opinion about the process by which Egypt was creating its own constitution, and this Supreme Court justice used the opportunity to talk about the US Constitution and its history, but saying ultimately that it was not an example for others to follow, and that Egyptians should look to the South African Constitution, the Canadian Constitution, and the European Conventions on Human Rights. She did at times speak positively about the US Constitution, but she did  so while slinging a little mud at the founders for slavery and the rights of women, among others.

I must say that if I’m a Supreme Court justice, and I am asked such a question by people who are about to write a Constitution, I am going to say some things she didn’t, and omit a few she did, and I am going to point to the superiority of the US Constitution as distinct from those others she named.  She may not have said anything terrible, but  one gets the sense that she has a different sort of reverence for our constitution, not in what it is, but for what she’d like to make of it.

Obama’s Eligibility: Fact, Fiction or Fog?

Saturday, January 21st, 2012

Something to Hide?

Obviously, this is a controversial subject, and one that threatens to push those who discuss it into the weeds of that field now dubbed “birtherism,” but there is some news on this front that I believe does deserve coverage, if only because whether one believes Barack Obama to be ineligible to the office of President of the United States, or instead believes the whole issue to be a load of nonsense, it is now an issue at controversy in several courts around the country.  There is a certain red letter that becomes attached to people or sites that spend much time on the issue, and that letter is “K” for “kook,” but in fairness to those concerned, there are significant issues at stake.  The question is: How seriously should we take any of them?  I won’t be spending more time than this on the matter without significant developments in the case, but I do believe we should at least be aware of the issues in controversy as a matter for voters to consider, (or not.)

Let us back up a bit and examine the nature of the claim against Barack Obama, and why it matters, if everything or anything the so-called “birthers” contend is true.  In the United States Constitution, set forth in Article II, that pertains to the executive, the qualification of those who hold this office are set forth in Section 1, in the fifth clause:

“No Person except a natural born Citizen, or a Citizen of the United States, at the time of the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the Office of President; neither shall any person be eligible to that Office who shall not have attained to the Age of thirty five Years, and been fourteen Years a Resident within the United States.”

To examine this fairly, let us consider first the plain truth of what this says.  A person, to be eligible for the presidency, must be thirty-five years of age, apparently by the time of inauguration to it, and must have been a resident fourteen years within the United States, and must be a natural born citizen, or a citizen at the time of the adoption of the constitution.

From a factual point of view, it appears by all accounts that he has been a resident fourteen years, and it is clear that he is older than thirty-five years of age, so all that remains to be considered is the citizenship clause, and indeed, this is where the controversy attached to so-called “birthers” arises.  One section of this list of qualifications is obsolete, and that is this piece:

“or a Citizen of the United States, at the time of the Adoption of this Constitution”

This odd distinction is no longer applicable, but it is important because it is a distinction, and because while no longer operative, it offers a clue to the intent of the framers.  This clause was inserted to permit some of those then alive, who would not meet the definition of natural born citizen to be eligible to that office.  After all, the United States was a new country, and all of its people had at one time owed their allegiance to the British empire, so that people like Washington, Jefferson, Adams, and all the rest of that generation had been British subjects, and not citizens of the United States from birth, or, as we shall find, not having been born to two citizen parents.  This entire requirement regarding citizenship is formulated in response to the question of loyalties.  It was assumed that those who had no attachment by birth or culture to the United States might have no particular qualms about undermining it.  It is therefore clear that the framers had intended our President to always be a loyal citizen from birth, that there would be less chance of a usurper with no loyalty to the country who might rise to occupy that office.

What the US Constitution does not do is to define the term “natural born Citizen,” and nowhere in its text can you find anything to reference on the matter.  Instead, we are left to find the meaning of that term, as distinct from “citizen” elsewhere in law.  At the time of the founders, the common law understanding of the terms appears to have been that a natural born Citizen is one born in the country of which both parents were citizens.  This understanding of the term has a precedent in law, with the 1875 U.S. Supreme Court decision, Minor v. Happersett:

“The Constitution does not in words say who shall be natural-born citizens. Resort must be had elsewhere to ascertain that. At common law, with the nomenclature of which the framers of the Constitution were familiar, it was never doubted that all children born in a country of parents who were its citizens became themselves, upon their birth, citizens also. These were natives or natural-born citizens, as distinguished from aliens or foreigners.”

Let me give you the short version:  To be a “natural born citizen,” as late as 1875, one must have been born in the United States to two citizen parents.  If this is the controlling legal authority for the definition of the term “natural born Citizen,” then we have a problem.  If this is the strict definition of the term, there can be no way for Barack Obama to be a “natural born Citizen,” because he his father was not at any time a US Citizen, but instead a subject of the British crown, or a citizen of the nation Kenya.

This is then the central question under examination by so-called “birthers.”  There have been some subsequent cases that may override the earlier definition, but the problem is this: It’s really a straight-forward matter if the definition is as defined in Minor v. Happersett.  It is on this basis that the parties have been dueling in court these last four years, because on this simple matter of definition, turns the eligibility of Barack Obama.

There are other arguments too, about forged birth certificates, and hoax Kenyan birth certificates, and a whole lot of hyperbole that has more or less caused the issue to devolve into a circus with one side pointing at the other and calling them “wearers of tin-foil hats” while the other side points back with accusations of “koolaid drinkers,” and so on, but the matter may hinge on the definition of that one term in Article II, Section 1, Clause 5: What is a “natural born Citizen?”

Apart from the circus atmosphere that erupts from any making this particular claim or challenge to Barack Obama’s eligibility to that office, those who make this claim have an initial obstacle to pressing their case: As in any matter, the plaintiff must show legal standing before the court, and the court must take jurisdiction over it.  That has been the primary defense used by Obama’s legal team to tamp all of this down:  Those raising the issue have no standing before the courts in the matter, or that the courts themselves do not have jurisdiction over it.  This has served as a very effective shield to the questions ever gaining traction in a court of law.

As WND is reporting, there is now a case in process in the state of Georgia, wherein citizens can challenge the eligibility of anybody who wishes to be placed on the ballot.  There, Obama’s legal team is making two very different arguments, composed of asserting that because he is already president, this issue is mooted, but also that because he is president, he hasn’t the time or the obligation to answer to some lowly court in the state of Georgia over what his lawyers contend is a federal matter of jurisdiction.

Unfortunately for Obama, the judge in the case has refused to quash a subpoena on the basis of his legal team’s claims, stating that they may have the authority to do so on the basis of some executive privilege, but that they have yet to demonstrate its existence to the court.  This is actually a huge win for the so-called “birthers,”  because it implies that the case must go forward.  In the end, what is at stake is ballot access for Barack Obama in the state of Georgia.

Of course, there are other arguments about Obama’s eligibility, including notions about becoming a citizen of Indonesia subsequent to his birth, and being re-naturalized as a US Citizen. That too would make him ineligible, and the biggest obstacles to the cases brought around the country on that basis has been standing and jurisdiction, and the ability to subpoena records.

In researching this, what I’ve found is that there has been a vast and effective propaganda campaign against so-called “birthers,” trying to lump them all into the tin-foil-hat wearing ranks of conspiracy nuts, but not all of their claims are so “kooky” on closer examination.  Instead, what you find is that the group has been marginalized by grasping occasionally at hoaxes, like “Kenyan Birth Certificates” and other such things that have thus far all turned out to be frauds, at least insofar as my research has concluded.

I also think there’s another case to be made here, and that has to do with the intent of the framers.  What this requirement was clearly intended to create was an effective obstacle to the plotting of subversives who would take over the United States by acts of usurpation, rather than by open warfare against them.  In this sense, one could conclude that many of the beliefs of Barack Obama are foreign to American governance, and indeed seem preoccupied with the notion of overturning our form of government, begging the question: Whether or not he meets the strict definition of “natural born Citizen,” does his mostly unknown background and scarcely-recorded early advocacy and professions make him ineligible to that definition in spirit, even if not in fact?

I suspect this issue will haunt Obama until the end of his presidency, and for much the same reason as we now see a question of tax records haunting the steps of Mitt Romney:  If you have nothing to hide, and you’ve done nothing wrong, why will you not let us examine the records?  Nothing quiets a controversy quite like proof, and last year, when the Obama administration released what appeared to be a valid birth certificate, it really quieted the whole matter of the question of where he was born.  What it did not and could not quash was the matter of whether he is a “natural born Citizen,” by definition of law and applicable precedents.  It is clear that the framers intended a separate definition of that term by virtue of their specifying it in contrast to any other form or usage of the simpler term “citizen.”  That matter appears still to be an open question.

(Note: I don’t wish for this post to turn my site into “birther central” or some such thing, but with all the questions still raised in some quarters, and with the re-emergence of the matter back into the news cycle via the Georgia case, I felt it necessary to at least discuss the issue briefly, do a little research on it, and report it to you in similarly brief fashion.)

 

 

 

A Conservative’s Dilemma

Saturday, December 17th, 2011

The Choices Before Us

I’ve been receiving a number of emails today, some of which were authored by those who think I’ve been too rough on Congressman Paul, Governor Romney, or Speaker Gingrich, or any of the other candidates I may have from time to time examined.  A couple of very important and consistent conclusions can be drawn from all of these emails, and I thought it would be proper to consider them together with you.  Nearly every one of the notes goes on at length to defend the candidate in question, and each of them goes on to tell me in one way or another that I’m falling for some media narrative or other.  This suggests a confusion about what I believe, and I’d like to clear that up for readers, both new and old.

With Newt, I’m “too harsh” because I’m a “Beckerhead,” despite the fact that I’ve been critical of Beck at times.  With Mitt, I’m “too inflexible” because I’ve noted that he’s been all over the place on various issues. In the case of Ron Paul, I’m being told that I don’t know what conservatism is, despite spending much of the last half-year discussing that very subject.  So arises the question: “What’s the truth?”  The truth is that like so many of you, I am unhappy with the current roster of choices, and none of them offer me much hope with respect to electing a “conservative,” as I conceive that term to mean.

Of course, this necessarily leads to the question as to what constitutes a “conservative.”  Various people will offer you a range of definitions, and the dictionary will focus on the notion of “conserving traditions,” but I think that’s a tortured application of a term that in our political context has almost no discernible, concrete meaning any longer.  In part, it stems from the redefinition of terms over the last century or more of political discourse.  The statists sought cover under the labels “progressive,” “socialist,” “liberal,” and more recently, “libertarian.” We’ve concocted new terms to try to differentiate, and most of them have been misused or misapplied with absurd results.  Of all the abuses of terminology that makes me angry, it is the misuse of the terms “liberal” and “conservative.”  These two have been stretched and twisted and reshaped until they in no way resemble the people who claim them as labels.  What this argues for is a little truth in advertising by way of labels.  I’ve tired of this nonsense in respect to the way in which it is used to pigeon-hole people into associations with beliefs and ideas they do not share.

Rather than try to tell you a definition under any of the bastardizations of the modern usages, I’m going back to a time when these terms still had some meaning.  I wish to go back to the days of our founding to explain to you what it is that I believe.  In the end, you will brand me with any label you find useful, but I would have it that you understand at the very least what I believe, and take from that understanding what it implies about the sort of candidates I choose to support.

In the era of our founders, I would have been called a “liberal,” in the precisely classical sense that characterized Thomas Jefferson’s inclusion under that label.  It would in no measure imply the sort of collectivist reflex with which the current uses of the term “liberal” are nowadays stained.  In the specifics of my belief, I need little beyond this from the preamble of our Declaration of Independence:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights,[74] that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.

I believe that such a government must regard the people it serves as its master, mindful of their individual rights in all things.  In this respect, I see government in the place of an honest umpire, neither for nor against any particular person, but in favor of a standard of right and wrong according to an objective set of rules the object of which is only the guarantee of those rights.

I also believe that government, in pursuit of the guarantee of those rights, must exercise its delegated authority in the name of an organized defense.  This means I believe in a vigorous national defense, but it also means I do not believe the purposes of our government should include military conquest. It means that I believe in a strong enforcement of our laws against criminals, but it also means I do not believe law should be placed in the service of plunder by some citizens of others.  It is this last that under modern constructs and usages characterizes me as a “conservative.”  I believe acts of government must serve all citizens simultaneously.  In today’s political discourse, there are those that would thereby label me a “libertarian,” and again, I would reach merely to history to make my case that it is not the object of government, as envisioned by our founders, to redistribute wealth or favors or benefits.  In this, I adhere to the sentiments of James Madison:

“If Congress can employ money indefinitely to the general welfare, and are the sole and supreme judges of the general welfare, they may take the care of religion into their own hands; they may appoint teachers in every State, county and parish and pay them out of their public treasury; they may take into their own hands the education of children, establishing in like manner schools throughout the Union; they may assume the provision of the poor; they may undertake the regulation of all roads other than post-roads; in short, every thing, from the highest object of state legislation down to the most minute object of police, would be thrown under the power of Congress…. Were the power of Congress to be established in the latitude contended for, it would subvert the very foundations, and transmute the very nature of the limited Government established by the people of America.” — James Madison

This would nowadays be called a “libertarian” by some, but this does not answer all that a government is or must do. It merely speaks to what a government must not do.  Madison here offers a warning that our nation’s government has long ago discarded in reckless pursuit of the very objects against which he warned.  This is not the government of our founding, nor the government of its re-framing under our Constitution.   The argument of some is that we have a living constitution that permits reinterpretation, but that would be a detestable reinterpretation itself.  Our founders thought this Constitution ought to be flexible, and so it is, but not in the manner now described by modern “liberals” who I call “statists.”  The framers of our Constitution laid a foundation for our republic, and for change of its laws, and most important among the things they enshrined in the Constitution are the only valid method by which it was intended to be flexible.  Article V:

The Congress, whenever two thirds of both Houses shall deem it necessary, shall propose Amendments to this Constitution, or, on the Application of the Legislatures of two thirds of the several States, shall call a Convention for proposing Amendments, which, in either Case, shall be valid to all Intents and Purposes, as Part of this Constitution, when ratified by the Legislatures of three fourths of the several States or by Conventions in three fourths thereof, as the one or the other Mode of Ratification may be proposed by the Congress; Provided that no Amendment which may be made prior to the Year One thousand eight hundred and eight shall in any Manner affect the first and fourth Clauses in the Ninth Section of the first Article; and that no State, without its Consent, shall be deprived of its equal Suffrage in the Senate.

If you want to know the means by which ours was to be a “living constitution,” there in Article V you will find it.  Notice that it does not say that the meaning of the law is to be amended by reinterpreting its words.  It gives us the ability to change the meaning of the law by changing the law itself, either by the Amendment or Convention procedures as outlined therein.  I am a strong believer in this, because I know full and well how the statists have long preyed upon the ignorance and indulgence of the American people.  It offers me some hope that so many now finally understand what has been at stake in the progressive era, begun arguably with the presidency of Theodore Roosevelt, but nevertheless in full swing by the time of Woodrow Wilson’s inaugural.

This would at first make the case of those who say I am therefore a modern-day “libertarian,” but I eschew that definition by virtue of all that term has now come to encompass.  Under this definition, I would necessarily reject any foreign involvements at all, but this is not so. I recognize as all conservatives do that there is the matter of reality from which one cannot escape.  Am I satisfied with the manner in which we have tended to a changing reality?  Hardly.  Am I satisfied that the measures we’ve undertaken were “necessary?”  Not at all.  Despite this seeming contradiction, I believe that we must fundamentally address this if we’re to  restore our constitution to its proper meaning.

As an example, I don’t believe the method by which we’ve circumvented the Constitution’s restrictions on military establishment is right and proper.  In our modern world, with push-button warfare of potentially devastating arms, it is necessary to consider that we ought to have not only a standing Navy at sea, but also a standing Army, which we do in fact have, even if Congress has continued the charade of no appropriations to that purpose for more than two years in technicality.  The National Security Act of 1947 does not amend the constitution, but merely adds to the charade.  I believe we ought to  amend the constitution to provide for this necessity rather than carry on with the fiction.

One must look at Madison’s quote above, in consideration of the government we now have, and wonder which Amendments provided for the growth of all those things against which he had warned.  The answer, of course, is simply: There haven’t been any.  Nowhere will you find an amendment providing for the welfare state, or education, or NASA, or a million other things that were considered by our framers as obscenities.  Whether I support them or not, still we have not amended the Constitution to permit them, but have instead acted on the notion of “necessity” as a matter of pure political expedience.  For this, I would be called a “radical” inasmuch as I present the radical notion that we ought and must adhere to our Constitution, or dispense with it and call our government something else, but it is not the government prescribed by the US Constitution, and has not been for many years.

This will lead inevitably to the question put forth by the adherents of Ron Paul, who will argue summarily on the basis I have outlined that I must be his kind of “conservative.”  This too is erroneous, for in fact what troubles me about Dr. Paul is that which has troubled me about much of modern “libertarian” dogma with respect to matters of national security: An unwavering belief in the absurd, the impossible, and the Utopian.   It is the key consideration among such “libertarians” that we must not involve ourselves in any matters but trade beyond our border, but since that will remain largely within the conduct of the private sector, the government need not be involved.

This is a lie, and an abrogation of our responsibility to the truth.  When Thomas Jefferson dispatched the Navy and its Marine forces to Tripoli in combat against the Barbary pirates, he did so not as an adventurist, but as a defender of American shipping.  It is preposterous to suggest that one’s trade will be sufficient intercourse with the world, because in truth there is yet another underlying and fundamental flaw that lies at the heart of such contentions: The abiding assumption that all others are guided by a similar reverence for those natural, unalienable rights of man that government exists to guarantee.  As Michele Bachmann said in Thursday night’s GOP Debate on FoxNews, only a knave or a fool believes this to be the case, and yet with nearly every dose of modern “libertarian” thought to which I exposed on the matter of defense and foreign policy(including Dr. Paul’s,) this juvenile, almost hippie-like presumption about the motives of all men emerges to a degree and extent that makes of their positions a laughing stock in the face of reality.

Contrary to the latter-day peacenik propaganda, we do not all “cherish the same things.”  If that were so, there would be no crime and no war and no strife anywhere among men, and yet it persists in our world, in our nation, and even in our neighborhoods and homes.  No unreality is more dangerous than such an assumption of the sort of Utopian relation of men and civilizations.  For what purpose do we have a government if not to defend us against those who do not share our views of the rights of man?

Damn me if you please, or if you feel as though you must, but do not permit yourself to believe I have not fully considered these issues.  Of late, I’ve given consideration to little else.  This entire blog is in service to that consideration, and to arouse yourselves to the belief that I would so casually entrust the future of this country, or its government to somebody on the basis of an unthinking support is patently absurd.  I don’t care if you call me “conservative” or “libertarian” or “liberal,” because I know in our current context, all those terms have lost their original meanings, but this much I do know:  I know what sort of candidate I would happily support.

I would support a candidate who shares my reverence for the Constitution in terms of the government’s relationship to its masters: We the people.  I would support a candidate who understands that our government now needs vast reforms, that some would call “sudden and relentless,” because our government has inverted its role in our lives, by which means it has become the master and we have become its servants.  I would support a candidate who understands the cruel and dangerous realities of our world, and is willing to act to bring our government and its operations into compliance with them by legal, constitutional means.  These are all the things, in general, that I would support, but I will not support any candidate absent any of these to any substantial degree.

These are the characteristics of the candidate I would support, but therein lies my personal dilemma, whatever you choose to call me:  None of the candidates now in the field have shown me that they are substantially, and in the greatest measure, what I believe such a candidate ought be.  I suspect the rapid climb and descent of one candidate after the other means that while many of you may not share my views entirely, the greater number of you are dissatisfied with your choices, and you now find yourself choosing from among what you consider an imperfect lot. In truth, I expect many people feel as I do in this matter, but this may be the nature of the choice we will have in 2012, and I fear, as do so many of you, that it will be insufficient to the grave national tests that lie ahead.  This may be my dilemma, but many of you share in it, and I wish for you the wisdom of Solomon.  We cannot afford to see this infant be rendered in halves.

Ten Reforms to Save America: Reform Number Five

Sunday, November 20th, 2011

Returning Balance to Government

One of the problems most people acknowledge is that the power of the federal government has expanded so that it can no longer be effectively restrained as a matter of the checks and balances with which we are familiar.  One of the ways this has been accomplished is through the constant diminution of the sovereign authority of the states.  The concept of federalism is moribund, if not dead, and it has become clear to citizens that to affect anything of consequence most often entails dealing with the federal government.  Congress and presidents have felt empowered to inflict and impose mandates on state and local governments to a degree that is contrary to the entire notion of a federal constitutional republic.  Some wonder if this isn’t the natural result of the civil war, in which some of these issues were central, but the truth is that no other cause has inflicted more harm than the adoption of the 17th Amendment.  Until we restore the voices of the states, as sovereign institutions, there can be no fixing what is broken in Washington DC.  The 17th Amendment served to centralize power in Washington in a way that destroyed the balance of power.

Prior to the 17th Amendment, the members of the United States Senate were chosen by the legislatures of the several states.  This meant that the voice of the state governments was heard loudly in Washington, as their own sovereign powers flexed their political muscles.   There are those who claim that the 17th Amendment served to democratize the process, but the truth is something else again.  What really happened was to instead turn the senators into a sort of super-congressman, but rather than being equals, they now speak not for states as equal partners in the Constitution, but as elected masters of constituencies.  When they had been chosen by the legislatures of the states, they still spoke to the will of a state’s people, but through the indirect process of representation.  Since the legislatures are chosen by voters, and since the state governments are geographically closer to their people, the people have the ability to control them more effectively.  Moving this process to a direct vote of the people has served to water down the particular interests of state governments.  In short, in the name of democratization, the people were tricked into dis-empowering the states.  The costs have been grave.

It has also served to make things a good deal easier for the lobbying crowd.  There’s no necessity to maintain offices in fifty state capitals, as well as in Washington DC.  It’s one-stop shopping, and there’s no sense to pretend it’s otherwise.  Prior to the 17th Amendment, lobbyists had to work the state legislatures in support of national legislation, but state legislators frequently managed to pull the plug on federal bills that they saw as diminishing the power of the states.  Senators may have voted in Washington, but the nature of that vote was frequently responsive to the legislature back home, since that’s where the Senator was chosen.  As we should all know by now, most politicians are consumed with maintaining their power, so that they could not help but be attentive to the voice of legislators back home.  The problem with the will of the people as expressed through a direct election is that it is too diffuse and too distant.  A Senator that represents even a sparsely-populated state like Nebraska still needn’t be as attentive to his people as he would of necessity be with respect to his legislature.   The senator from a densely populated state like California needn’t pay attention to the people at all on day-to-day legislative matters.

When you consider the spending proclivities of the Federal government, what becomes clear is that it began to accelerate, and non-wartime debts first became politically feasible only after the states’ voices had been silenced in the Senate.  The states had a vested interest in restraining the growth of the federal government.  It is far more difficult to impose taxes at the state level if the federal government is raising them at every turn.  Worse, with the federal government imposing spending priorities on the states, it became even more difficult for states to manage their dwindling resources.

Taken together, all of these make a strong case for repealing the 17th Amendment.  The difficulty lies in the political proposition:  The people will need to be convinced that it is in their long-term interest to give up power over one branch of government in a direct way, that their state government, over which they exercise infinitely firmer control can manage it on their behalf.  Most people cringe at the thought.  It’s not every day you ask voters to give something up to which they have been accustomed, particularly in restraining their own direct voice.  Once they understand the issues at the heart of the matter, many people come around as they realize their direct voice has done no better, and may have done the harms I’ve described.  Our Constitution’s framers had been brilliant in creating the necessary balance to create a natural offset in powers between the federal government and the states, but the 17th Amendment destroyed that clever idea.  At this late date, if we’re to restore that balance, we must return to the framers’ notion of checks and balances, and the repeal of the 17th Amendment is a great place to start.  If you want to save the country, you may want to start right here.

Ten Reforms to Save America: Reform Number One

Wednesday, November 16th, 2011

Over the next several days, I am going to be bringing you a series of ten proposals derived from our national experience, and from a long list of suggestions from my readers.  Each day, I intend to bring you at least one in this list of ten items, so that you can consider their merits and flaws.  Since one of the items is now on the verge of being proposed in the House of Representatives later this week, I have decided that for several important reasons, we should begin there.  Our federal spending has grown out of all control, and Congress is looking for ways to avoid the pain.  The solutions Congress is now considering actually threaten the future of the country.

The first of ten reforms is a Balanced Budget Amendment.  That amendment must have as its primary purposes the following simple ends:

  1. Maintain the fiscal and financial stability of the United States by limiting the accrual of new public debt
  2. Restrain the growth of Federal spending as a proportion of the total economy of the United States
  3. Force Congress to live within a budget by restricting their ability to easily raise taxes
  4. Pay down the existing public debt over the longer run

These are the obvious purposes for a Balanced Budget Amendment, and any proposed amendment that does not meet these criteria is not a serious attempt at reform, and may even sew the seeds of revolution.

To maintain the fiscal and financial stability of the United States is critical in limiting the budgetary impact of existing debt, and to fulfilling our various spending priorities.  It is also important in the chore of maintaining the value of our currency.  Each additional dollar printed or digitized into circulation diminishes the value of every previous dollar.  Each time the federal government borrows additional funds, more money is put into circulation by the Federal Reserve.  To balance the budget would stop our national bleeding, and also limit the damage to the value of our money.

A serious proposal for a Balanced Budget Amendment must include a limit on how much of the economy the Federal Government can consume.  I think that proportion should be tagged at fifteen percent, but others would be satisfied if we could peg it to eighteen or twenty percent.  I would be willing to accept the twenty percent number if it was written specifically to include money spent in the private sector in order to comply with federal regulations, laws, and mandates.  This limitation would have the effect of making Congress deal with unfunded mandates and regulatory costs of the laws they impose, and the executive branch enforces.

In tandem with a limitation on Congressional authority to increase revenues, this would have the combined effect of putting the pinch on Congress and compelling them to control federal expenditures.  Any limitation to increase taxes should include a bare minimum of a two-thirds vote by both houses of Congress, although I would prefer three-fourths.

The last thing a Balanced Budget Amendment must do is set aside some proportion of the budget for the purpose of reducing the principle owed on the public debt.  In short, we should be buying down debt by constitutional mandate, a little at a time, but as the debt is paid down, any savings derived from reduced interest payments over the longer run should be plowed into reducing the debt at a greater rate.  Think of it like making the monthly minimum payment on your credit card, but rather than always making that minimum payment, instead continuing to pay that same initial payment amount.  Over time, the amount going to pay down principle increases while the amount spent in interest continues downward, ultimately at an accelerated pace.

These should be the bare essentials to be considered in the drafting and adoption of a Balanced Budget Amendment.  As of this writing, the House Republican leadership is working on a form of a Balanced Budget Amendment that contains no such restrictions, and might well lead to skyrocketing taxes.  In this sense, the version of the Amendment now being advanced by the Republican leadership may equate to a national suicide pact.  It may also be merely a stunt, but in any case, it is a dangerous proposal because it puts no restrictions on Congress.

If there’s one thing experience has taught us, it is that Congress is frequently irresponsible when it has the unlimited, unrestricted ability to spend the public treasure.  A serious Balanced Budget Amendment is the first step among several that will begin the lengthy process of regaining control over the United States by its people.  Don’t settle for half measures and recipes for disaster.  While the Republican leadership is working to shaft us again, we must let them know that their tepid proposals simply will not suffice, and will not be accepted.  This is our country.  It’s time to let them know it.

The Push to Destroy Your Liberties

Tuesday, October 25th, 2011

Still Relevant

We have discussed a number of very serious issues here, but some things simply cannot be repeated often enough.  Among the subjects we’ve visited and re-visited is the matter of our Constitution, and how it is being systematically undermined.  Part of the reason the statists get away with this is because they work in secret, putting a public face on their activities that never reveals what they’re really trying to accomplish while trying to sucker us into going along.  Many Americans have fallen for this approach because the fact is that they’re ignorant.  I mean  that quite literally:  They simply don’t know the subject matter, and so are easily misinformed about it.

The subject of how they’ve become misinformed is a question for another day, but it’s time to address the subject matter in detail.  Many Americans have been led to believe  that our system of an electoral college to select a President is bad, because it defeats direct democracy.  The question isn’t whether that’s true – it is – but whether that is a good thing for our nation.  Don’t be fooled by those who pitch to you the notion of eliminating the electoral college, or subverting it.  The electoral college has been and remains a vital force in protecting the long-term health and stability of the nation.

There are several projects out there, most of them being pushed or coordinated by Soros flunkies and shills, who seek to eliminate the electoral college, or to essentially neuter its effectiveness.  This is because the electoral college serves an important function in restraining the capricious will and whimsy of the great body of the electorate.  It’s one of the most important checks and balances in that lovely list of them that had made our Constitution durable.  In our Constitution, there are checks on the Congress, on the President, and even on the judicial branch.  There were also to be checks on our political power.  You might wonder why the framers of the Constitution would do this, but what you must know is that despite the fact that technology changes, the underlying human nature that avails itself of technology never does.  The framers knew this.  They knew that Democracy is merely an angry mob waiting to happen, and that no nation could survive wild gyrations in the battle between competing angry mobs.  Their grand idea was to eliminate the power of angry mobs by muting them and taking away some of their ability to overwhelm orderly changes in government and its institutions.

The electoral college works to stabilize a vast nation with diverse interests by seeing to it that no grossly unbalanced regional interest can hold sway over the nation.  It also places a final line of defense in place against usurpation.  In 2008, that line of defense failed, but not because the system had broken.  Instead, it was only because the people in the system are so corrupt.  No law and no system of laws can prevail so long as corruption runs free within it.  The electoral college permits that a person can win the presidency without securing the plurality of the popular vote if the candidate can win support of a majority of the electors.  Remember, under our system, your vote at the polls in a presidential election is not really binding on an elector.

This is particularly important when you remember that you could theoretically build a majority of the electorate with just the top ten most populace states like California, Texas, New York, Florida, and so on, while overlooking the interests of the less-populated but much more numerous states.  This would create a condition in which a President so-elected would have no inclination to serve the interests of these smaller states, despite the fact that they are much more numerous.  In a popular election, a President might win in 49 states by a narrow margin, but in a single state by a large margin, and win the election, so that the will of the people of 49 states was ignored on behalf of the will of the people of one state.   Remember, ours is a federal system, meaning that despite our tendency these days to think of Washington DC first, the states are really intended to be the seat of most governmental authority and power.  Some will make the specious claim that we are one nation, and as such, should vote as a single electorate rather than a collection of aggregated electorates, but this ignores what the framers sought to insure:  Stable self-governance.

Here are a couple quotes from delegates to the Constitutional Convention that explain their thinking:

“The extent of the country renders it impossible, that the people can have the requisite capacity to judge of the respective pretensions of the candidates.” — Delegate Mason, July 17, 1787

“The people are uninformed, and would be misled by a few designing men.” — Delegate Gerry, July 19, 1787.

One can’t help but look to the fools now occupying Wall Street and realize that Gerry was correct. More importantly, however, this mechanism was put in place to ensure that the Federal government would uphold its duty to the states, specified in Article IV, Section 4, wherein it says:

“The United States shall guarantee to every State in the Union a Republican form of Government…”

Obviously, they were not speaking of the Republican Party, which did not exist at the time, but rather the concept of a republic, as I have discussed elsewhere. In the coming months, there will be a number of challenged to our Constitutional form of government, and you ought to be intellectually armed to confront them.  Understanding how the electoral college helps preserve our way of life along with our system of government is key to restoring this nation.  Just as a century ago, progressives looked for new ways to subvert this Republic, and managed to enact at least two amendments destructive of it(16th and 17th,) now they are back in force to finish the job.  It’s fitting, then, that our current President is like the the one who took office in March 1913, and who held the American people and the Constitution in a contempt rivaled only by our current president: Woodrow Wilson.  Learn your history, and learn the meaning of your constitution. Teach its brilliant underpinnings to your children and grandchildren.  It’s the only hope we have of preserving it.

Boiling It Down, This Is What You’ve Said

Saturday, October 15th, 2011

The Hard Work Has Been Done

I’ve gathered together all the material and information so many of you have sent me these last few days, in response to my article Note to the GOP Establishment: Forget It!   I first wish to thank you all for your contributions, as they were from a diversity of sources and yet they all seemed to abide by a set of principles that I believe we can distill down to just a few things.  One of the recurrent themes was that we must adhere to our Constitution, and that we must bear in mind the reasons for our founding as expressed in our Declaration of Independence.  One of you actually submitted the Declaration and said: “Here, it’s all right here.”  Indeed, much of it is, but I think in order to carry our nation forward, and up out of its current morass, we must make clear what it had meant.

Let us begin, again, with our Declaration of Independence:

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

Our founders were breaking away from the King, and they were laying out their justifications.  They were making a case that we must not ignore, because in many ways, it has become our case too, although there is no official monarchy now oppressing us.  Here, they told us something critically important, and I want my readers to pay special heed to it, because we will revisit these concepts repeatedly:

…the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them…

I should very much like to drill down on this for a moment, in reflection on its explicit meaning, but also its implicit reasoning.  “Separate and equal station” means the rights of all men as equals under the law.  Which law?  The “laws of Nature and Nature’s God.”  What does this mean to us, now?  It means that our rights are not a gift from the State, but arise from our nature.  It also tells us something else: The founders wanted posterity to understand that irrespective of the particulars of a particular faith, or of a lack thereof, we must acknowledge that all people possess these rights because nature demands it, and if you hold God to be the great author of Nature, then you must admit that these natural rights are those of all mankind.  In other words, it really doesn’t matter if you believe in God, or not, or which version of God, with respect to various religions, because Nature’s laws lay out what are the rights of people, so that if you believe in a God that created the heavens and the Earth, He also created the laws of nature.  Even if you do not believe in a God Almighty, still you must respect the laws of nature.  In this way, the great mind who wrote this document was already laying the groundwork for our nation’s eventual basis in fundamental rights in a way that its people could universally agree, irrespective of the particulars of their individual and very diverse faiths.

We may argue yet what are Nature’s Law, but this much we can be certain:  All people must observe and ultimately obey it.  Since governments are merely fictional entities created by mankind, they too must obey.   No government can be permitted special dispensations to ignore Nature’s Law, just as no individual may ultimately ignore it.  This is a great basis for law, since it represents the most objective basis upon which mankind can derive a governing philosophy.  In their day, the founding fathers and the framers of our Constitution were called “liberals.”  This is because they believed in liberalizing governance, and freeing individual men to pursue their own rational self-interests with minimal interference from other men.   Let me suggest to you that before we go any farther down this road, we must understand these labels, how their meanings have changed over time, and how we must recapture the language that has been stolen from us.

In the days of our revolution, the “conservatives” were those who did not wish to break free of England and its monarchy.  They were adherents of statism, since monarchy is merely another manifestation of the state’s supremacy over individuals.   In the very early 20th century, this went through an odd transformation, in that those who were mere “progressives” grabbed the label for their own use.  They were in fact a sort of counter-revolution, inasmuch as their policy ideas were intended to undo much of what our founders had put in place.  In a burst of Amendments, we got the 16th, establishing the statists’ income tax, the 17th, making the election of Senators by direct majority of the people of the states, thereby silencing the States in the federal government, the 18th, making alcohol illegal(Prohibition,) and the 19th finally giving women the right to vote anywhere in the US where it had been denied to them previously.

For fourteen years, the nation suffered under the idiocy of the 18th Amendment, until it was repealed in 1933 by the 20th.  Two of the other three Amendments of the period were equally awful, those being the 16th and 17th, both put into place in 1913 during the Wilson administration’s first year.  These two Amendments have done more damage to our nation than any others, even prohibition.  The people who put those in place, and carried us into WWI were “progressives,” who were in both parties, but predominately the Democrats, and who were intent upon reversing the ethos of natural law upon which our government had been built.  It was after their ideas became known that they beat a hasty escape to the label they appropriated for themselves: “Liberals.”  It was at this time that conservatism as we now know it was truly born.  Understand with care and attention to detail: Today’s conservatives are the founders’ era’s liberals, and what we today call “Liberals” are in fact nothing but statists, particularly of the leftist persuasion, but nevertheless interested in the supremacy of the state over individual men.

This is a long way of getting  back to our discussion, but it needs to be firmly understood:  We believe in the supremacy of individual rights over the authority of  state.  Our founders were exceedingly careful to build a small sphere of authority in which government could, under specific conditions, temporarily ignore the individual rights of people, but these were remarkably limited.  Several of you have gone to some lengths to remind me precisely how limited, most frequently in the context of Obamacare, but also with respect to other programs and actions of the federal government. Let us then remember that individual liberties are the cornerstone of our Republic, without which it will fall. Let us now consider the preamble of the Declaration of Independence carefully:

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.”

Here, the founders through Jefferson’s mighty pen specified that the aforementioned natural rights are unalienable, and that they were numerous.  “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness” is a phrase with which we ought all be familiar, but its meaning is lost on many who mouth the words not knowing their full meaning.  “Life” seems clear enough, and by “Liberty” they meant a variety of things, but remembering the times, they meant even so basic a notion as the concept of Habeus corpus, that people would not be held indefinitely without charges or trial.  Their view of liberty was broad.  “Pursuit of Happiness” has been a phrase of some controversy because the inevitable tyrannical minds wish to reduce its meaning, but we can learn much if we understand that this phrase had been “Life, Liberty and Property,” but that property alone had been deemed too narrow a concept.  This phrase was chosen not to exclude property rights as some statists will argue, but instead to augment those rights with a good deal more.  It was in recognition that men may find happiness in property, but in all manner of things to which they ought properly have a right. Now consider what they told us of the relationship of people to their government:

“That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed”

This is very important as a basic tenet of our form of government. Government exists not to rule over Men, but merely to secure their rights.  This means that government is to be strictly limited to the role of a policeman, a judge, a prison warden, and a military force.  This is what they were explaining to the King who ruled over them, together with the parliament.  Government does not exist to fund the ambitions or benevolence of some men at the expense of all others.  Having told us the proper function of government, they then tell us what gives cause to changing it:

“That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.”

Ask yourself:  Has our current form of government become destructive of these ends?  In my view, it is plain to see that it is not the explicit form of our government that has become destructive, but all the incessant adulterations of that form that have been implemented over the last century. In point of fact, the framers of the Constitution would ultimately build a framework in which we could abolish most of any given current government in a single election, for in every fourth year, we can elect a President, all of the House of Representatives, and approximately one-third of the Senate.  The courts and the other departments are institutionally more immune, but nevertheless, we can abolish the corruptions of our system through the electoral process in no more than six years. The founders made clear the great struggle it is to abolish a bad form of government, and carefully explained the reasons why changing form should never be undertaken lightly:

“Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.”

This is a warning, and one we also should heed, because even now, their are elements within our country agitating to change our form of government in large part for complaints arising from ideas, notions, and practices that are not rightly part of our form of government.  I have read a lot of material from you, my readers, submitted and thoughtfully offered, and what all of them seem to have in common is the notion that our Constitution, if strictly observed, with the Declaration of Independence providing its purpose, really is the answer to our problems.  We don’t need a new form of government, but only to adhere to and practice the one we had been gifted, until the statists wrapped their dictatorial hands about its throat roughly a century ago.

Let us then start from this place, and resolve that we still hold these truths as self-evident:

  • That government must adhere to the Laws of Nature and Nature’s God
  • That government must serve its people through the guarantee of their rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness
  • That we believe in the supremacy of individual rights over the authority of  state
  • That Governments do not properly exist to fund the ambitions or benevolence of some men at the expense of all others
  • That our form of government ought only be changed after all efforts to repair it have been expended

We will surely expand upon these, and I will continue this series as time permits.  Sadly, it is true that we are running out of time to restore our Republic, but if we are to do so, I believe we must begin with our fundamentals, so that we know that affirmative idea for which we struggle.  Than you to all the many contributors, and even the many who sent an email stating “Interested.”  Even as I finish this more material is coming in.  I’d ask those of you who haven’t read them to consider two articles I’ve previously written as a primer for where we next take this discussion:

If our government is to be in the business of protecting our rights, we ought to know what is or isn’t a right.  If we’re going to restore our form of government, we ought to know what that form had been intended to be.

Thinking About The Presidency

Friday, September 23rd, 2011

Too Much Power?

One of the features of the 20th Century and continuing in even more grand form now is the extent to which the office of President of the United States has come to represent the country at large.  Given the development of mass media, it’s not surprising, but in truth, I’m not sure it’s been entirely healthy.  We speak of presidents as “running the country,” but none of these characters, neither the worst nor the best of them, ever really run the country, or at least, that’s not what our founders intended.  The President and the federal establishment are supposed to be as remote in our daily lives as they are from most of us in geographic terms.  The notion of the President “running the country” is illusory in most respects, and a testament to the fictions propagated by government in collusion with media that we perceive things in this way.  We shouldn’t regard our government as such a fundamental part of our daily lives, but over time, people now view the presidency in this light.  It is time that we begin the discussion about returning the government and our elected politicians to their rightful place, but the trouble lies not only with the temperament of our presidents, but also with the character of the presidency.

Our present constitution was established in part to create a stronger federal government than had existed under the Articles of Confederation.  That government was considered insufficiently weak by those who saw flaws in its ability to bind the country together in issues of taxation and expenditure, particularly with respect to a common defense.  This left the presidency, merely an instrument of Congress, in a state of impotence, incapable of responding to changing conditions, or coordinating the new nation’s defense.  This was intolerable, and there were significant problems even collecting revenues.  Provisioning for the Army was unreliable, and there was little of centralized form in the execution of law.  The United States was at this time more like a version of the present day United Nations, or European Union, in the sense that it was strictly a treaty among the separate and sovereign states, with little of their powers delegated to the confederation except as pertaining to warfare and foreign policy.  Some critics today would suggest that it had certain advantages over our existing constitution for precisely these reasons.

The anti-federalists argued that much as our Articles of Confederation had perhaps been unduly weak as a reflex against the tyranny of the British empire, in much the same way, the proposed constitution was likewise unnecessarily and even dangerously powerful as a reaction against the weaknesses of the Articles of Confederation.  Patrick Henry and George Mason were among the most notable critics, and there can be little doubt that he considered the new constitution to contain too many weaknesses, loopholes they thought, through which despots could arise.  The anti-federalists had three central objections:  There was no “bill of rights”; there would be a centralizing tendency; the government would take on an aristocratic character.  While the new constitution was ultimately amended to quiet critics on the matter of a bill of rights, the other two objections have come into sharper focus as it is clear that the history of the 20th Century is one of the centralizing of power, and the death of the concept of citizen legislators, resulting in a permanent political class that rules seemingly in near perpetuity.  The anti-federalists worried about the presidency created in the new constitution arrogating to itself new and terrible powers not specifically proscribed in Article II.   Some would argue with good cause that they had been correct, since at varying times throughout the course of our country, successive presidents have tended to accumulate more power than their predecessors.

This is the curious problem that now confronts us:  We must elect a President who will exercise the power of that office to slowly, wisely return such excessive power to its proper jurisdiction, either in the Congress, or within the several states, but perhaps most importantly, with the people.  Of course, this will not be done without the will and legislative commitment of Congress, but the truth is that a new President, properly inclined, will be able to change and diminish not only the role of the President, but also of the Federal Government generally.  Our nation has become too focused on and dominated by Washington DC.  This is why our federal budget has exploded out of all previous bounds. This is why we are beset by a regulatory nightmare in our small businesses, in our homes, and in almost every other facet of our lives.  We must begin the process of deconstructing the federal establishment to a degree that permits us to function as a nation again without daily reference to Presidential, Congressional or judicial whimsy.

The office of President of the United States was created to remedy an over-weak central government, but it has been so thoroughly enlarged in its power that we must elect a person with the character and temperament to practice self-restraint in the exercise of powers not explicit in the Constitution.  We need a leader who will slowly, carefully devolve as much power as is prudent back to the states and the people.  Our current economic morass is evidence of the accumulation and centralization of power in the hands of those who run our federal government, and they have become a blight upon our economic future, and indeed, our lives.  One need consider only those EPA regulators who have banned inhalers for Asthma drugs.  Some people will die because they will have been unable to afford the new inhalers, but the regulators are unelected, and frequently unaccountable, and they create new rules by which we are governed without respect to how those rules may harm us.  President sign executive order implementing what are essentially de facto law, with the stroke of a pen.  Somewhere along the course of the last two-hundred years, we have lost contact with the stern warnings the anti-federalists about the arrogation of power and the aggrandizement of the presidency, never mind the general growth of a permanent political class that no longer much cares for the will of the people, or even the constitution to which they’ve sworn to uphold.  These are also questions we must ask the GOP candidates for nomination, because we will soon lose our country if we don’t reduce the reach and scope of the U.S. Federal Government and its powers.  It’s time to tear down this leviathan, before it kills all of us.