"Prior planning prevents piss-poor performance."
Wednesday, April 29, 2009
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Sunday, April 26, 2009
"Liberty without Learning is always in peril and Learning without Liberty is always in vain."
— John F. Kennedy
Saturday, April 25, 2009
By Joe Sobran
One of the great goals of education is to initiate the young into the conversation of their ancestors; to enable them to understand the language of that conversation, in all its subtlety, and maybe even, in their maturity, to add to it some wisdom of their own.
The modern American educational system no longer teaches us the political language of our ancestors. In fact our schooling helps widen the gulf of time between our ancestors and ourselves, because much of what we are taught in the name of civics, political science, or American history is really modern liberal propaganda. Sometimes this is deliberate. Worse yet, sometimes it isn’t. Our ancestral voices have come to sound alien to us, and therefore our own moral and political language is impoverished. It’s as if the people of England could no longer understand Shakespeare, or Germans couldn’t comprehend Mozart and Beethoven.
So to most Americans, even those who feel oppressed by what they call big government, it must sound strange to hear it said, in the past tense, that tyranny “came” to America. After all, we have a constitution, don’t we? We’ve abolished slavery and segregation. We won two world wars and the Cold War. We still congratulate ourselves before every ballgame on being the Land of the Free. And we aren’t ruled by some fanatic with a funny mustache who likes big parades with thousands of soldiers goose-stepping past huge pictures of himself.
For all that, we no longer fully have what our ancestors, who framed and ratified our Constitution, thought of as freedom — a careful division of power that prevents power from becoming concentrated and unlimited. The word they usually used for concentrated power was consolidated — a rough synonym for fascist. And the words they used for any excessive powers claimed or exercised by the state were usurped and tyrannical. They would consider the modern “liberal” state tyrannical in principle; they would see in it not the opposite of the fascist, communist, and socialist states, but their sister.
If Washington and Jefferson, Madison, and Hamilton could come back, the first thing they’d notice would be that the federal government now routinely assumes thousands of powers never assigned to it — powers never granted, never delegated, never enumerated. These were the words they used, and it’s a good idea for us to learn their language. They would say that we no longer live under the Constitution they wrote. And the Americans of a much later era — the period from Cleveland to Coolidge, for example — would say we no longer live even under the Constitution they inherited and amended.
I call the present system “Post–Constitutional America.” As I sometimes put it, the U.S. Constitution poses no serious threat to our form of government.
What’s worse is that our constitutional illiteracy cuts us off from our own national heritage. And so our politics degenerates into increasingly bitter and unprincipled quarrels about who is going to bear the burdens of war and welfare.
I don’t want to sound like an oracle on this subject. As a typical victim of modern public education and a disinformed citizen of this media-ridden country, I took a long time — an embarrassingly long time — to learn what I’m passing on. It was like studying geometry in old age, and discovering how simple the basic principles of space really are. It was the old story: In order to learn, first I had to unlearn. Most of what I’d been taught and told about the Constitution was misguided or even false. And I’d never been told some of the most elementary things, which would have saved me a tremendous amount of confusion.
The Constitution does two things. First, it delegates certain enumerated powers to the federal government. Second, it separates those powers among the three branches. Most people understand the secondary principle of the separation of powers. But they don’t grasp the primary idea of delegated and enumerated powers.
Consider this. We have recently had a big national debate over national health care. Advocates and opponents argued long and loud over whether it could work, what was fair, how to pay for it, and so forth. But almost nobody raised the basic issue: Where does the federal government get the power to legislate in this area? The answer is: Nowhere. The Constitution lists 18 specific legislative powers of Congress, and not a one of them covers national health care.
As a matter of fact, none of the delegated powers of Congress — and delegated is always the key word — covers Social Security, or Medicaid, or Medicare, or federal aid to education, or most of what are now miscalled “civil rights,” or countless public works projects, or equally countless regulations of business, large and small, or the space program, or farm subsidies, or research grants, or subsidies to the arts and humanities, or ... well, you name it, chances are it’s unconstitutional. Even the most cynical opponents of the Constitution would be dumbfounded to learn that the federal government now tells us where we can smoke. We are less free, more heavily taxed, and worse governed than our ancestors under British rule. Sometimes this government makes me wonder: Was George III really all that bad?
Let’s be clear about one thing. Constitutional and unconstitutional aren’t just simple terms of approval and disapproval. A bad law may be perfectly constitutional. A wise and humane law may be unconstitutional. But what is almost certainly bad is a constant disposition to thwart or disregard the Constitution.
It’s not just a matter of what is sometimes called the “original intent” of the authors of the Constitution. What really matters is the common, explicit, unchallenged understanding of the Constitution, on all sides, over several generations. There was no mystery about it.
The logic of the Constitution was so elegantly simple that a foreign observer could explain it to his countrymen in two sentences. Alexis de Tocqueville wrote that “the attributes of the federal government were carefully defined [in the Constitution], and all that was not included among them was declared to remain to the governments of the individual states. Thus the government of the states remained the rule, and that of the federal government the exception.”
The Declaration of Independence, which underlies the Constitution, holds that the rights of the people come from God, and that the powers of the government come from the people. Let me repeat that: According to the Declaration of Independence, the rights of the people come from God, and the powers of the government come from the people. Unless you grasp this basic order of things, you’ll have a hard time understanding the Constitution.
The Constitution was the instrument by which the American people granted, or delegated, certain specific powers to the federal government. Any power not delegated was withheld, or “reserved.” As we’ll see later, these principles are expressed particularly in the Ninth and Tenth Amendments, two crucial but neglected provisions of the Constitution.
Let me say it yet again: The rights of the people come from God. The powers of government come from the people. The American people delegated the specific powers they wanted the federal government to have through the Constitution. And any additional powers they wanted to grant were supposed to be added by amendment.
It’s largely because we’ve forgotten these simple principles that the country is in so much trouble. The powers of the federal government have multiplied madly, with only the vaguest justifications and on the most slippery pretexts. Its chief business now is not defending our rights but taking and redistributing our wealth. It has even created its own economy, the tax economy, which is parasitical on the basic and productive voluntary economy. Even much of what passes for “national defense” is a kind of hidden entitlement program, as was illustrated when President George Bush warned some states during the 1992 campaign that Bill Clinton would destroy jobs by closing down military bases. Well, if those bases aren’t necessary for our defense, they should be closed down.
Now of course nobody in American politics, not even the most fanatical liberal, will admit openly that he doesn’t care what the Constitution says and isn’t going to let it interfere with his agenda. Everyone professes to respect it — even the Supreme Court. That’s the problem. The U.S. Constitution serves the same function as the British royal family: it offers a comforting symbol of tradition and continuity, thereby masking a radical change in the actual system of power.
So the people who mean to do without the Constitution have come up with a slogan to keep up appearances: they say the Constitution is a “living document,” which sounds like a compliment. They say it has “evolved” in response to “changing circumstances,” etc. They sneer at the idea that such a mystic document could still have the same meanings it had two centuries ago, or even, I guess, sixty years ago, just before the evolutionary process started accelerating with fantastic velocity. These people, who tend with suspicious consistency to be liberals, have discovered that the Constitution, whatever it may have meant in the past, now means — again, with suspicious consistency — whatever suits their present convenience.
Do liberals want big federal entitlement programs? Lo, the Interstate Commerce Clause turns out to mean that the big federal programs are constitutional! Do liberals oppose capital punishment? Lo, the ban on “cruel and unusual punishment” turns out to mean that capital punishment is unconstitutional! Do liberals want abortion on demand? Lo, the Ninth and Fourteenth Amendments, plus their emanations and penumbras, turn out to mean that abortion is nothing less than a woman’s constitutional right!
Can all this be blind evolution? If liberals were more religious, they might suspect the hand of Providence behind it! This marvelous “living document” never seems to impede the liberal agenda in any way. On the contrary: it always seems to demand, by a wonderful coincidence, just what liberals are prescribing on other grounds.
Take abortion. Set aside your own views and feelings about it. Is it really possible that, as the Supreme Court in effect said, all the abortion laws of all 50 states — no matter how restrictive, no matter how permissive — had always been unconstitutional? Not only that, but no previous Court, no justice on any Court in all our history — not Marshall, not Story, not Taney, not Holmes, not Hughes, not Frankfurter, not even Warren — had ever been recorded as doubting the constitutionality of those laws. Everyone had always taken it for granted that the states had every right to enact them.
Are we supposed to believe, in all seriousness, that the Court’s ruling in Roe v. Wade was a response to the text of the Constitution, the discernment of a meaning that had eluded all its predecessors, rather than an enactment of the current liberal agenda? Come now.
And notice that the parts of this “living document” don’t develop equally or consistently. The Court has expanded the meaning of some of liberalism’s pet rights, such as freedom of speech, to absurd lengths; but it has neglected or even contracted other rights, such as property rights, which liberalism is hostile to.
In order to appreciate what has happened, you have to stand back from all the details and look at the outline. What follows is a thumbnail history of the Constitution.
In the beginning the states were independent and sovereign. That is why they were called “states”: a state was not yet thought of as a mere subdivision of a larger unit, as is the case now. The universal understanding was that in ratifying the Constitution, the 13 states yielded a very little of their sovereignty, but kept most of it.
Those who were reluctant to ratify generally didn’t object to the powers the Constitution delegated to the federal government. But they were suspicious: they wanted assurance that if those few powers were granted, other powers, never granted, wouldn’t be seized too. In The Federalist, Hamilton and Madison argued at some length that under the proposed distribution of power the federal government would never be able to “usurp,” as they put it, those other powers. Madison wrote soothingly in Federalist No. 45 that the powers of the federal government would be “few and defined,” relating mostly to war and foreign policy, while those remaining with the states would be “numerous and indefinite,” and would have to do with the everyday domestic life of the country. The word usurpation occurs numberless times in the ratification debates, reflecting the chief anxiety the champions of the Constitution had to allay. And as a final assurance, the Tenth Amendment stipulated that the powers not “delegated” to the federal government were “reserved” to the separate states and to the people.
But this wasn’t enough to satisfy everyone. Well-grounded fears persisted. And during the first half of the nineteenth century, nearly every president, in his inaugural message, felt it appropriate to renew the promise that the powers of the federal government would not be exceeded, nor the reserved powers of the states transgressed. The federal government was to remain truly federal, with only a few specified powers, rather than “consolidated,” with unlimited powers.
The Civil War, or the War Between the States if you like, resulted from the suspicion that the North meant to use the power of the Union to destroy the sovereignty of the Southern states. Whether or not that suspicion was justified, the war itself produced that very result. The South was subjugated and occupied like a conquered country. Its institutions were profoundly remade by the federal government; the United States of America was taking on the character of an extensive, and highly centralized, empire. Similar processes were under way in Europe, as small states were consolidated into large ones, setting the stage for the tyrannies and gigantic wars of the twentieth century.
Even so, the three constitutional amendment ratified after the war contain a significant clause: “Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.” Why is this significant? Because it shows that even the conquerors still understood that a new power of Congress required a constitutional amendment. It couldn’t just be taken by majority vote, as it would be today. If the Congress then had wanted a national health plan, it would have begun by asking the people for an amendment to the Constitution authorizing it to legislate in the area of health care. The immediate purpose of the Fourteenth Amendment was to provide a constitutional basis for a proposed civil rights act.
But the Supreme Court soon found other uses for the Fourteenth Amendment. It began striking down state laws as unconstitutional. This was an important new twist in American constitutional law. Hamilton, in arguing for judicial review in Federalist No. 78, had envisioned the Court as a check on Congress, resisting the illicit consolidation or centralization of power. And our civics books still describe the function of checks and balances in terms of the three branches of the federal government mutually controlling each other. But in fact, the Court was now countermanding the state legislatures, where the principle of checks and balances had no meaning, since those state legislatures had no reciprocal control on the Court. This development eventually set the stage for the convulsive Supreme Court rulings of the late twentieth century, from Brown v. Board of Education to Roe v. Wade.
The big thing to recognize here is that the Court had become the very opposite of the institution Hamilton and others had had in mind. Instead of blocking the centralization of power in the federal government, the Court was assisting it.
The original point of the federal system was that the federal government would have very little to say about the internal affairs of the states. But the result of the Civil War was that the federal government had a great deal to say about those affairs — in Northern as well as Southern states.
Note that this trend toward centralization was occurring largely under Republican presidents. The Democrat Grover Cleveland was one of the last great spokesmen for federalism. He once vetoed a modest $10,000 federal grant for drought relief on grounds that there was no constitutional power to do it. If that sounds archaic, remember that the federal principle remained strong long enough that during the 1950s, the federal highway program had to be called a “defense” measure in order to win approval, and federal loans to college students in the 1960s were absurdly called “defense” loans for the same reason. The Tenth Amendment is a refined taste, but it has always had a few devotees.
But federalism suffered some serious wounds during the presidency of Woodrow Wilson. First came the income tax, its constitutionality established by the Sixteenth Amendment; this meant that every U.S. citizen was now, for the first time, directly accountable to the federal government. Then the Seventeenth Amendment required that senators be elected by popular vote rather than chosen by state legislators; this meant that the states no longer had their own representation in Congress, so that they now lost their remaining control over the federal government. The Eighteenth Amendment, establishing Prohibition, gave the federal government even greater powers over the country’s internal affairs. All these amendments were ominous signs that federalism was losing its traditional place in the hearts, and perhaps the minds, of Americans.
But again, notice that these expansions of federal power were at least achieved by amending the Constitution, as the Constitution itself requires. The Constitution doesn’t claim to be a “living document.” It is written on paper, not rubber.
In fact the radicals of the early twentieth century despaired of achieving socialism or communism as long as the Constitution remained. They regarded it as the critical obstacle to their plans, and thought a revolution would be necessary to remove it. As The New Republic wrote: “To have a socialist society we must have a new Constitution.” That’s laying it on the line!
Unfortunately, the next generation of collectivists would be less candid in their contempt for the federal system. Once they learned to feign devotion to the Constitution they secretly regarded as obsolete, the laborious formality of amendment would no longer be necessary. They could merely pretend that the Constitution was on their side. After Franklin Roosevelt restaffed the Supreme Court with his compliant cronies, the federal government would be free to make up its own powers as it went along, thanks to the notion that the Constitution was a malleable “living document,” whose central meaning could be changed, and even reversed, by ingenious interpretation.
Roosevelt’s New Deal brought fascist-style central planning to America — what some call the “mixed economy” but Hilaire Belloc called the Servile State — and his highhanded approach to governance soon led to conflict with the Court, which found several of his chief measures unconstitutional. Early in his second term, as you know, Roosevelt retaliated by trying to “pack” the Court by increasing the number of seats. This power play alienated even many of his allies, but it turned out not to be necessary. After 1937 the Court began seeing things Roosevelt’s way. It voted as he wished; several members obligingly retired; and soon he had appointed a majority of the justices. The country virtually got a new Constitution.
Roosevelt’s Court soon decided that the Tenth Amendment was a “truism,” of no real force. This meant that almost any federal act was ipso facto constitutional, and the powers “reserved” to the states and the people were just leftovers the federal government didn’t want, like the meal left for the jackals by the satisfied lion. There was almost no limit, now, on what the federal government could do. In effect, the powers of the federal government no longer had to come from the people by constitutional delegation: they could be created by simple political power.
Roosevelt also set the baneful precedent of using entitlement programs, such as Social Security, to buy some people’s votes with other people’s money. It was both a fatal corruption of democracy and the realization of the Servile State in America. The class of voting parasites has been swelling ever since.
So the New Deal didn’t just expand the power of the federal government; that had been done before. The New Deal did much deeper mischief: it struck at the whole principle of constitutional resistance to federal expansion. Congress didn’t need any constitutional amendment to increase its powers; it could increase its own powers ad hoc, at any time, by simple majority vote.
All this, of course, would have seemed monstrous to our ancestors. Even Alexander Hamilton, who favored a relatively strong central government in his time, never dreamed of a government so powerful.
The Court suffered a bloody defeat at Roosevelt’s hands, and since his time it has never found a major act of Congress unconstitutional. This has allowed the power of the federal government to grow without restraint. At the federal level, “checks and balances” has ceased to include judicial review.
This is a startling fact, flying as it does in the face of the familiar conservative complaints about the Court’s “activism.” When it comes to Congress, the Court has been absolutely passive. As if to compensate for its habit of capitulation to Congress, the Court’s post–World War II “activism” has been directed entirely against the states, whose laws it has struck down in areas that used to be considered their settled and exclusive provinces. Time after time, it has found “unconstitutional” laws whose legitimacy had stood unquestioned throughout the history of the Republic.
Notice how total the reversal of the Court’s role has been. It began with the duty, according to Hamilton, of striking down new seizures of power by Congress. Now it finds constitutional virtually everything Congress chooses to do. The federal government has assumed myriads of new powers nowhere mentioned or implied in the Constitution, yet the Court has never seriously impeded this expansion, or rather explosion, of novel claims of power. What it finds unconstitutional are the traditional powers of the states.
The postwar Court has done pioneering work in one notable area: the separation of church and state. I said “pioneering,” not praiseworthy. The Court has consistently imposed an understanding of the First Amendment that is not only exaggerated but unprecedented — most notoriously in its 1962 ruling that prayer in public schools amounts to an “establishment of religion.” This interpretation of the Establishment Clause has always been to the disadvantage of Christianity and of any law with roots in Christian morality. And it’s impossible to doubt that the justices who voted for this interpretation were voting their predilections.
Maybe that’s the point. I’ve never heard it put quite this way, but the Court’s boldest rulings showed something less innocent than a series of honest mistakes. Studying these cases and others of the Court’s liberal heyday, one never gets the sense that the majority was suppressing its own preferences; it was clearly enacting them. Those rulings can be described as wishful thinking run amok, and touched with more than a little arrogance. All in all, the Court displayed the opposite of the restrained and impartial temperament one expects even of a traffic-court judge, let alone a Supreme Court.
It’s ironic to recall Hamilton’s assurance that the Supreme Court would be “the least dangerous” of the three branches of the federal government. But Hamilton did give us a shrewd warning about what would happen if the Court were ever corrupted: in Federalist No. 78 he wrote that “liberty can have nothing to fear from the judiciary alone, but would have everything to fear from its union with either of the other [branches].” Since Franklin Roosevelt, as I’ve said, the judiciary has in effect formed a union with the other two branches to aggrandize the power of the federal government at the expense of the states and the people.
This, in outline, is the constitutional history of the United States. You won’t find it in the textbooks, which are required to be optimistic, to present degeneration as development, and to treat the successive pronouncements of the Supreme Court as so many oracular revelations of constitutional meaning. A leading liberal scholar, Leonard Levy, has gone so far as to say that what matters is not what the Constitution says, but what the Court has said about the Constitution in more than 400 volumes of commentary.
This can only mean that the commentary has displaced the original text, and that “We the People” have been supplanted by “We the Lawyers.” We the People can’t read and understand our own Constitution. We have to have it explained to us by the professionals. Moreover, if the Court enjoys oracular status, it can’t really be criticized, because it can do no wrong. We may dislike its results, but future rulings will have to be derived from them as precedents, rather than from the text and logic of the Constitution. And notice that the “conservative” justices appointed by Republican presidents have by and large upheld not the original Constitution, but the most liberal interpretations of the Court itself — notably on the subject of abortion, which I’ll return to in a minute.
To sum up this little constitutional history. The history of the Constitution is the story of its inversion. The original understanding of the Constitution has been reversed. The Constitution creates a presumption against any power not plainly delegated to the federal government and a corresponding presumption in favor of the rights and powers of the states and the people. But we now have a sloppy presumption in favor of federal power. Most people assume the federal government can do anything it isn’t plainly forbidden to do.
The Ninth and Tenth Amendments were adopted to make the principle of the Constitution as clear as possible. Hamilton, you know, argued against adding a Bill of Rights, on grounds that it would be redundant and confusing. He thought it would seem to imply that the federal government had more powers than it had been given. Why say, he asked, that the freedom of the press shall not be infringed, when the federal government would have no power by which it could be infringed? And you can even make the case that he was exactly right. He understood, at any rate, that our freedom is safer if we think of the Constitution as a list of powers rather than as a list of rights.
Be that as it may, the Bill of Rights was adopted, but it was designed to meet his objection. The Ninth Amendment says: “The enumeration in the Constitution of certain rights shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.” The Tenth says: “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”
Now what these two provisions mean is pretty simple. The Ninth means that the list of the people’s rights in the Constitution is not meant to be complete — that they still have many other rights, like the right to travel or to marry, which may deserve just as much respect as the right not to have soldiers quartered in one’s home in peacetime. The Tenth, on the other hand, means that the list of powers “delegated” to the federal government is complete — and that any other powers the government assumed would be, in the Framers’ habitual word, “usurped.”
As I said earlier, the Founders believed that our rights come from God, and the government’s powers come from us. So the Constitution can’t list all our rights, but it can and does list all the federal government’s powers.
You can think of the Constitution as a sort of antitrust act for government, with the Ninth and Tenth Amendments at its core. It’s remarkable that the same liberals who think business monopolies are sinister think monopolies of political power are progressive. When they can’t pass their programs because of the constitutional safeguards, they complain about “gridlock” — a cliché that shows they miss the whole point of the enumeration and separation of powers.
Well, I don’t have to tell you that this way of thinking is absolutely alien to that of today’s politicians and pundits. Can you imagine Al Gore, Dan Rostenkowski, or Tom Brokaw having a conversation about political principles with any of the Founding Fathers? If you can, you must have a vivid fantasy life.
And the result of the loss of our original political idiom has been, as I say, to invert the original presumptions. The average American, whether he has had high-school civics or a degree in political science, is apt to assume that the Constitution somehow empowers the government to do nearly anything, while implicitly limiting our rights by listing them. Not that anyone would say it this way. But it’s as if the Bill of Rights had said that the enumeration of the federal government’s powers in the Constitution is not meant to deny or disparage any other powers it may choose to claim, while the rights not given to the people in the Constitution are reserved to the federal government to give or withhold, and the states may be progressively stripped of their original powers.
What it comes to is that we don’t really have an operative Constitution anymore. The federal government defines its own powers day by day. It’s limited not by the list of its powers in the Constitution, but by whatever it can get away with politically. Just as the president can now send troops abroad to fight without a declaration of war, Congress can pass a national health care program without a constitutional delegation of power. The only restraint left is political opposition.
If you suspect I’m overstating the change from our original principles, I give you the late Justice Hugo Black. In a 1965 case called Griswold v. Connecticut, the Court struck down a law forbidding the sale of contraceptives on grounds that it violated a right of “privacy.” (This supposed right, of course, became the basis for the Court’s even more radical 1973 ruling in Roe v. Wade, but that’s another story.) Justice Black dissented in the Griswold case on the following ground: “I like my privacy as well as the next [man],” he wrote, “but I am nevertheless compelled to admit that government has a right to invade it unless prohibited by some specific constitutional provision.” What a hopelessly muddled — and really sinister — misconception of the relation between the individual and the state: government has a right to invade our privacy, unless prohibited by the Constitution. You don’t have to share the Court’s twisted view of the right of privacy in order to be shocked that one of its members takes this view of the “right” of government to invade privacy.
It gets crazier. In 1993 the Court handed down one of the most bizarre decisions of all time. For two decades, enemies of legal abortion had been supporting Republican candidates in the hope of filling the Court with appointees who would review Roe v. Wade. In Planned Parenthood v. Casey, the Court finally did so. But even with eight Republican appointees on the Court, the result was not what the conservatives had hoped for. The Court reaffirmed Roe.
Its reasoning was amazing. A plurality opinion — a majority of the five-justice majority in the case — admitted that the Court’s previous ruling in Roe might be logically and historically vulnerable. But it held that the paramount consideration was that the Court be consistent, and not appear to be yielding to public pressure, lest it lose the respect of the public. Therefore the Court allowed Roe to stand.
Among many things that might be said about this ruling, the most basic is this: The Court in effect declared itself a third party to the controversy, and then, setting aside the merits of the two principals’ claims, ruled in its own interest! It was as if the referee in a prizefight had declared himself the winner. Cynics had always suspected that the Court did not forget its self-interest in its decisions, but they never expected to hear it say so.
The three justices who signed that opinion evidently didn’t realize what they were saying. A distinguished veteran Court-watcher (who approved of Roe, by the way) told me he had never seen anything like it. The Court was actually telling us that it put its own welfare ahead of the merits of the arguments before it. In its confusion, it was blurting out the truth.
But by then very few Americans could even remember the original constitutional plan. The original plan was as Madison and Tocqueville described it: State government was to be the rule, federal government the exception. The states’ powers were to be “numerous and indefinite,” federal powers “few and defined.” This is a matter not only of history, but of iron logic: the Constitution doesn’t make sense when read any other way. As Madison asked, why bother listing particular federal powers unless unlisted powers are withheld?
The unchecked federal government has not only overflowed its banks; it has even created its own economy. Thanks to its exercise of myriad unwarranted powers, it can claim tens of millions of dependents, at least part of whose income is due to the abuse of the taxing and spending powers for their benefit: government employees, retirees, farmers, contractors, teachers, artists, even soldiers. Large numbers of these people are paid much more than their market value because the taxpayer is forced to subsidize them. By the same token, most taxpayers would instantly be better off if the federal government simply ceased to exist — or if it suddenly returned to its constitutional functions.
Can we restore the Constitution and recover our freedom? I have no doubt that we can. Like all great reforms, it will take an intelligent, determined effort by many people. I don’t want to sow false optimism.
But the time is ripe for a constitutional counterrevolution. Discontent with the ruling system, as the 1992 Perot vote showed, is deep and widespread among several classes of people: Christians, conservatives, gun owners, taxpayers, and simple believers in honest government all have their reasons. The rulers lack legitimacy and don’t believe in their own power strongly enough to defend it.
The beauty of it is that the people don’t have to invent a new system of government in order to get rid of this one. They only have to restore the one described in the Constitution — the system our government already professes to be upholding. Taken seriously, the Constitution would pose a serious threat to our form of government.
And for just that reason, the ruling parties will be finished as soon as the American people rediscover and awaken their dormant Constitution.
Thursday, April 23, 2009
We don’t have a lot of time on this earth! We weren’t meant to spend it this way. Man was not meant to sit in little cubicles staring at computer screens all day, filling out useless forms and listening to eight different bosses drone on about about mission statements.
Wednesday, April 22, 2009
Tuesday, April 21, 2009
A Tea Party Manifesto
by James Ostrowski
Ladies and Gentlemen.
I have news for you. Barack Obama is not the problem with America. He is merely the symptom. When big government failed, the people, not knowing what went wrong, went for the fresh face who promised that government would solve the problems the people didn’t know government caused in the first place.
America went off course many, many decades ago. Blaming Obama for our problems is like saying a 500 pound man is fat because he just ate three pizzas. Obama is the captain of the Titanic and his ship is speeding recklessly along, but he did not design the ship nor place that giant iceberg in its path.
The tragedy is that the American people do not know why the economy collapsed. They do not know the nature of the regime that runs the country. They do not know that this regime is not the regime for which the Founding Fathers fought. They do not know what the regime was that the Founders fought for. Finally, they do not know that the solution to our economic collapse is to restore that regime.
What were those Minute Men fighting for at Lexington and Concord? A republic of largely independent states. They weren’t fighting for the Constitution. There was no Constitution. They were fighting for a republic that would protect their natural right to liberty.
What is a republic? There’s much confusion about this. We must get this right. John Adams once complained that he “never understood” what the guarantee of republican government meant “and I believe no man ever did or will.” With apologies to John Adams, by “republican,” I mean a government exercising limited powers delegated to it by the people, whose officials are answerable to the people in regular, free elections.
Distinguishing between a republic and a democracy is critical. Both forms of government feature voting by the people to select officials. The difference between them is that while republican voting is done for the purpose of choosing officials to administer the government in the pursuit of its narrowly defined functions; democratic voting is done, not only to select officials but also to determine the functions and goals and powers of the government. The guiding principle of republics is that they exercise narrow powers delegated to them by the people, who themselves, as individuals, possess such powers. They cannot spring as they do in democracies, ex nihilo, from the mob’s collective whim.
Only a republican government can be truly limited. A republican government may only exercise powers delegated by the people that the people actually possess. The people do not have the right to steal from their neighbors so they cannot delegate to the government the power to create a welfare state. The people don’t have the right to counterfeit so they cannot delegate that power to the Federal Reserve. The people do not have the right to rule the world so they cannot delegate to the government the right to create a global military empire. You see where I am going with this? If we had a republic, we wouldn’t be in the bloody mess we are in.
In a democracy, there are no real limits to government power. If you object, you will always be told, hey, majority rules.
Long before Barack Obama was born, America traded in its decentralized libertarian republic for a centralized, democratic, corporate state with a global military empire. You can’t destroy a great country immediately. By the 1970’s, however, the corporate state, the welfare-warfare state started to cause economic stagnation and an endless series of domestic and foreign crises. Middle class living standards have been frozen in place for decades. Our standard of living was only maintained by smoke and mirrors: young mothers joining the workforce, parents working three jobs, credit card and mortgage debt, huge federal deficits, inflation and foreign borrowing. What is happening now is judgment day, the day of reckoning, the day the national Ponzi scheme collapsed. To con the people into thinking that all was well, our puppet masters created a lot of phony money and the bill is now due.
Now, the solution to all this is quite simple. Here’s what we need to do.
1. Liquidate the global military empire, ending the two Asian land wars that George Bush got us into and the Democrats and Obama helped pay for.
2. Take the savings, trillions, and liquidate the federal welfare state, buying out all Social Security recipients with lump sum payments.
3. Abolish all the unconstitutional departments and programs like Education, Energy, HUD, HHS, and Agriculture.
4. Then we can repeal the damned Income Tax Amendment, the worst thing that ever happened to this country, except for possibly–
5. The Federal Reserve–abolish it. Repeal the legal tender laws and gold and silver will automatically become market money.
6. Now, add a couple of amendments to bring the moribund Constitution back to life. Ban all corporate welfare so we never again have bankster heists and corporate bailouts. And, since true federalism was destroyed in the Civil War, let’s recognize what the Founders understood in 1776, that any republic has the right to withdraw from a union when it so chooses. That will guarantee that the federal government will never again turn into a monstrous, murderous, counterfeiting kleptocacy.
Now, that was easy, but if that platform was put up to a vote, it would lose, big-time.
So our real problem is how to put this plan into effect, how to restore the Republic, in short, how to win the Second American Revolution.
History—Pickett’s Charge; The Charge of the Light Brigade–shows what happens when a smaller army attacks a larger army in a heavily fortified position. They lose!
The sad truth is, though we want to restore the spirit of the American Revolution, we are outnumbered by Red Coats!
The vast majority of Americans now support Red Coat government: an arrogant King in a big castle, with a large court, ruling by edict from a distant capital, endless wars across the ocean for a global empire, and heavy taxes to pay for those wars. And we are now embroiled in two land wars in Asia in countries that previously expelled the British! That’s why Rudyard Kipling wrote:
When you’re wounded and left on Afghanistan’s plains,
And the women come out to cut up what remains,
Jest roll to your rifle and blow out your brains
An’ go to your Gawd like a soldier.
Go, go, go like a soldier,
So-oldier of the Queen!
Maybe the Loyalists who fled to Canada should come back home. After all, the British ultimately won the Revolutionary War. Their ideas prevailed. The Revolution is dead—unless the tea party movement can revive it.
Let’s assume for the sake of argument that about ten percent of Americans are fed up and ready for radical change. That means that 90% are not. That’s a huge problem.
Remember that at Lexington, when the government gun controllers and tax collectors came up the road, the men of the town greeted them with muskets ready to fire. Today, if we did that, most of the men of the town would side with the federales.
Ladies and gentlemen, we are in 1770 again, when there was a small number of radicals who wanted independence but most people wanted to stay with England.
Being outnumbered doesn’t mean we can’t win. History also teaches that a smaller, more dedicated army, with a just cause, can prevail against a larger, mercenary force. But we need to become more dedicated, more committed, and at the end of the day, we need to get larger. We need converts just as the Patriots did.
So, our first task is obvious: education. We need to educate ourselves before we can educate others. We need to study the history and principles of the American Revolution. We need to study war and peace. War is the health of the state. We need to study economics.
Let’s take a quick look at the American Revolution.
• England needed money for war.
• They taxed the Colonists.
• The Colonists didn’t want to pay.
• England sent troops and tax collectors armed with general warrants to find taxable stuff.
• The Colonists got angry and threatened resistance.
• The English decided to seize the Colonists’ guns.
• War broke out.
• War means high taxes.
• Taxes mean invasion of privacy.
• To steal your money and violate your privacy, the government must disarm you first.
• You have the natural right to resist tyranny.
• Gun control was the proximate cause of the American Revolution.
• America was born in an act of resistance to gun control!
Economics. Did you know that if the American people understood one simple principle, that we could shrink the size of government by 90% in three months. What principle? All resources are scarce. If we could only understand that principle, which just happens to be the first law of economics, then all the politicians’ lies about adding new programs like the bailout and stimulus would be laughed at.
So, we need to teach ourselves economics at home school—the living room laptop or the desk top computer in the attic or basement.
What does the free market have to do with the Republic? Everything! Republican government exists to protect private property. The free market is the free exchange of private property. A true republic can only have a free market economy.
Why can’t a republic have a global military empire?
An empire is designed to rule other nations for their benefit or ours. If it’s the former, it violates the purpose of a republic as limited to protecting the rights of its own citizens, not the planet’s. If it’s the latter, then the republic violates its own premise, the natural rights of all human beings. Empires require huge armies and bureaucracies and oppressive taxes which violate our right to private property, the right to keep what we earn. Empires, as Washington taught us, invite retaliation and thus the government betrays its only true purpose by jeopardizing the lives and security of its citizens by pointlessly manufacturing foreign enemies.
Once we understand our own history, the dynamics of war and peace and the principles of market economics, we need to start making more Patriots. Start with your family and friends, then co-workers, customers, clients, neighbors and members of your church or your gym if fitness is your religion.
Can you all convert 25 Patriots this year? If not, we will lose this fight.
What else can we do?
Remember, a direct assault when you are outnumbered will fail.
But we do not have to wait till we make more coverts to move towards our goal.
Let me back up and discuss strategy generally. We neglect strategy at our peril. Keep in mind that no movement such as ours has succeeded in its goal since Jefferson’s day.
There are only three ways to change politics.
Violence, political activity and direct citizen action.
Violence is out of the question. That’s our adversary’s tactic. That’s why we are here today. We favor liberty over violence, peace over war. Liberty = Peace = Order. Pierre Proudhon was wrong. Liberty is not the “Mother of Order.”
Liberty is order.
What about politics—lobbying and elections? Politics is rigged. Most politicians are corrupt degenerates and couldn’t care less what we think. And the last time an election led to smaller government in America was—-guess—-1800!
I have been fighting the political machine for 35 years and I firmly believe that direct citizen action is the only way we can beat them.
What is direct citizen action? Instead of convincing some bought-and-paid-for politician to change his little mind, or spending all summer trying to beat them at a rigged game and get good people elected, you choose your own battle ground and you choose courses of action that are designed to achieve your goal.
Direct citizen action is hardly a new concept. Ever hear of the Boston Tea Party? And it’s what Gandhi used to topple the British Empire. It’s what Martin Luther King used to fight Jim Crow.
We need to think about the things we do every day and figure out how we can integrate our movement into those daily routines. One thing we do every day is spend money. We buy things. We buy services. We pay bills.
How do politicians win elections? By buying TV time. Where do they get the money? Much of it comes from private businesses or private persons who run or own business firms. We know who they are and so I say to you: stop slitting your own throats. Stop buying things from business firms that fund the political machine and fund the corporate state and fund big government.
Now you can go down to Congressman Higgins’ office and talk to his staff till you’re blue in the face about getting rid of the Federal Reserve. They will ignore you and, when you leave, they will have a good laugh at your expense. Or, you can stop giving your money to his bankrollers. One tactic is a complete waste of time. The other will hurt his ability to raise money. If he can’t raise money, we can beat him when our numbers grow.
Boycott the bankers of the political class. Starve the Red Coats and Loyalists!
Now, if you are boycotting those fat cats and their firms, you are going to have to spend your money elsewhere. Here too you can directly aid the movement with each purchase. If we have ten percent of the population on our side, we probably have twenty-five percent of small businesses. Small business owners are natural libertarians. You don’t have to tell them how taxes are oppressive and how government regulations can strangle them. They know it because they live that nightmare each day. So I say, buy from Patriots. They will return the favor later in too many ways to imagine now. To hell with Red Coat companies. In this country, money talks. In politics, it’s the only thing that does.
You want to win this fight? You want a free country? Buy it!
How do we know which businesses to patronize? Easy. Look for the Betsy Ross flag, the flag the Patriots flew.
We need to get people’s attention. We need a new symbol because the current symbols of patriotism have lost their meaning. What does the current flag stand for? Limited government? A true republic? Minding our own business in the world as Washington advised? Obviously not. In fact, the flag is used to glorify a regime that would make the Patriots sick to their stomachs.
So I propose that we use the Betsy Ross flag to symbolize our movement. Our adversaries have their symbols; we will have better ones.
There is a great symbol out there for the taking that is universally understood to stand for the old republic. I propose we bring it to life again as the symbol of our movement and, further, to use it as a battle flag. Battle flags serve the critical function of identifying allies during the chaos of battle. When we see that flag, wherever we are in the country, we know there will be a kindred spirit behind that door.
As this movement grows, these flags will start dominating the landscape and we will know that victory is near.
Here’s another form of direct citizen action you can take. The original Patriots did not trust government, including prosecutors or judges. They knew the only way to restrain the power of government was by external checks and balances. They gave us two: the right to bear arms and juries. Naturally, they have tried to take both of these rights away from us. The right to bear arms is safe for the moment but let’s talk about juries.
The original concept of a jury was that it could override the judge on matters of law. Call that jury nullification. Every prominent founder who was a lawyer stated explicitly that juries have the right to judge the law itself and whether it would be unjust to convict a defendant for violating that law under the circumstances.
Tyrannical judges have ruled otherwise, thus overruling the Constitution by judicial fiat.
The bottom line is this. The founders believed you have a constitutional right to judge the law in a criminal case and any judge who says otherwise hasn’t studied our constitutional history.
The purpose of republican government is to protect the individual’s right to life, liberty and property. The Founders created a jury system to ensure that no one was convicted of a crime unless they violated the life, liberty or property of a fellow citizen. If you get a jury notice, don’t grumble. Show up and assert your rights and keep in mind that no one can tell you how to cast your vote in that jury room.
Now, just for the record, I’m not saying jurors should violate the law and lie to judges about their willingness to follow their instructions on the law. What I’m saying is that judges should follow the law and should not lie to jurors!
So, there are things you can do yourself and right now to move toward restoration of the Republic.
Make a list of the people you know and who respect your opinion. Family, friends, neighbors, co-workers, clients, customers. Write them a letter and tell them you have joined a movement to restore the American Republic and save the nation from the Red Coats who have destroyed it. Invite them to do the same. Host a meeting at your home to discuss the matter further.
Before that meeting, educate yourself about the history of your country, about economics, about the Federal Reserve, the income tax and the true nature of the present regime. We have created a web page with all the resources you will need.
Immunize yourself from the lies of politicians. If any politician tells you they will improve your life, they’re lying. Don’t believe them. How do know a politician is lying? Their lips are moving. Teach your children not to believe them either. A politician will tell you face to face he will do this or that for you, then, as soon as you turn your back on him, he will pick your pocket to pay for the same promise he made to your neighbor.
Tolstoy wrote the politician’s credo:
“I sit on a man’s back, choking him and making him carry me, and yet assure myself and others that I am very sorry for him and wish to ease his lot by all possible means - except by getting off his back.”
So, you need to withdraw your support for the corrupt regime the federal government has become. That’s easy. Just stop. Stop voting for those degenerates and don’t vote for their opponents either unless they are Patriots. Stop being silent when people talk about politics. State your opinion clearly. Tell people you’ve joined the Second American Revolution and urge them to do so as well.
You can also start to support the new media sites that are already fighting this battle. A website is no better than its traffic. If you patronize sites such as www.PoliticalClassDismissed.com, you make us more influential so we can fight harder for you. When you’re surfing the web, consider if the sites you frequent are part of the problem.
And stop supporting authors and magazines that led us astray in recent years. Stop funding organizations whose policies have failed. Stop supporting websites whose policies have failed. You need to go out and find those authors, groups, websites, books and magazines such as Ilana Mercer of World Net Daily who got it right the last ten years. We have created a page with those links.
Use the Betsy Ross flag; patronize business firms that fly or display the flag; stop patronizing Red Coat firms that take your money and hand it off to the political class. Stop slitting your owns throats. Stop giving your money to the bankers of the political class.
If you serve on a jury, educate yourself about your constitutional right to decide the case based on your conscience. No judge or fellow juror can tell you that you must convict someone of a victimless crime if you believe there is reasonable doubt.
To sum up, here’s a 12-step program for how you can start to restore the American Republic.
1. Decide that you’ve had enough. You want to do something to reverse America’s economic collapse. That something is nothing less than restoring the American republic. America’s problems of today were caused by the abandonment of that Republic slowly over a long period of time. Pledge allegiance to the principles of the American Revolution.
2. Write a letter to your family, friends and neighbors declaring your support for restoring the American Republic.
3. Invite them to a meeting.
4. Educate yourself on American history, politics and economics.
5. Hold the meeting and explain to them what you have learned and urge them to do the same and then hold their own meeting with their own social circle.
6. Display the symbol of the restoration of the republic, the Betsy Ross flag.
7. Patronize businesses that display this flag.
8. Boycott businesses that bankroll the political class.
9. Educate yourself on the rights of jurors. If you are called for jury duty, understand that the founding fathers designed the system as a check on government power. Remember that when you are in the jury room deliberating.
10. Patronize books, blogs, websites, newspapers, magazines, think tanks, and political groups that were right about the economic collapse. Mises.org., IlanaMercer.com and others. See our page for a complete list.
11. For political activism, join an existing Patriot group. Don’t reinvent the wheel. See our page for recommended groups. While I believe that politics is not our best field of battle at the moment, as our movement grows, we will soon be able to launch a successful frontal assault on the political class.
12. Follow these websites for continuing developments:
Will this plan succeed? I believe it will if it gets a good start. I believe if it gets started, it will be unstoppable, like an idea whose time has come—back.
But this I know for certain. If we do not try to spark a Second American Revolution, we will fail and you, and your children, and your grandchildren, will never know what it is like to live in the America that was supposed to be. And, with the government always strengthening its stranglehold on the schools, they won’t even have a historical memory of it.
George Washington, who led the fight in battle for the American Revolution, and knew a thing or two about adversity, about temporary defeat, about being outnumbered, about being accused of treason, and about being shot at by Red Coats, said, “Perseverance and spirit have done wonders in all ages.”
So in closing I urge you make this pledge. I pledge allegiance to the principles of the American Revolution, stated by Jefferson, and for which the Minute Men and Washington’s Army fought: that government’s only purpose is to protect our natural rights to life, liberty, and property; that any government that does “more” than protect our natural rights must thereby violate those same rights and become a tyranny that the people have the right to alter or abolish. I pledge to resist that tyranny by peaceful means if at all possible.
Monday, April 20, 2009
Gerald Celente is calling for an "Intellectual Revolution." Good article. Here's the reason why we need it...we've been lied to, for many years. And the proof is right here.
Ilana Mercer has a fantastic interview with James Ostrowski over at Taki's Mag on real tea parties and what must happen in order to change where our country is headed.
ILANA: The tea party protests across the country are all fueled by that indomitable America spirit. And that’s good. However, most tea protesters have yet to arrive at the principles that undergirded the American Revolution. Explain.Read the rest of it here.
OSTROWSKI: What we have now in America is so far from the original idea that it would be unrecognizable to the Founders. The old Republic slipped away long ago and while it’s not possible to pinpoint the date, I like to say 1917. That year we entered World War I. War leads to higher taxes and the level of federal spending has never returned to pre-World War I levels. Domestically, the twin evils of the income tax and the Federal Reserve started to kick in around then too. So, forget Obama, we need to clear away the dead wood of the Progressive Era to even begin to see what a true Republic would look like. I don’t think most tea protesters are there yet but perhaps they can be persuaded. In any event, we need to go far beyond simply bashing Obama and pork.
Sunday, April 19, 2009
BOSTON (AP)--National guard units seeking to confiscate a cache of recently banned assault weapons were ambushed on April 19th by elements of a paramilitary extremist faction. Military and law enforcement officials estimate that 72 were killed and more than 200 injured before government forces were compelled to withdraw.
Speaking after the clash, Massachusetts Governor Thomas Gage declared that the extremist faction, which was made up of local citizens, has links to the radical right-wing tax protest movement.
Gage blamed the extremists for recent incidents if vandalism directed against internal revenue offices. The governor, who described the group's organizers as "criminals," issued an executive order authorizing the summary arrest of any individual who has interfered with the government's efforts to secure law and order.
The military raid on the extremist arsenal followed widespread refusal by the local citizenry to turn over recently outlawed assault weapons. Gage issued a ban on military-style assault weapons and ammunition earlier in the week. This decision followed a meeting earlier this month between government and military leaders at which the governor authorized the forcible confiscation of illegal arms.
One official, speaking on condition of anonymity, pointed out that "none of these people would have been killed had the extremists obeyed the law and turned over their weapons voluntarily."
Government troops initially succeeded in confiscating a large supply of outlawed weapons and ammunition. However, troops attempting to seize arms and ammunition in Lexington met with resistance from heavily-armed extremists who had been tipped-off regarding the government's plans.
During a tense standoff in Lexington's town park, National Guard Colonel Francis Smith, commander of the government operation, ordered the armed group to surrender and return to their homes. The impasse was broken by a single shot, which was reportedly fired by one of the extremists.
Eight civilians were killed in the ensuing exchange. Ironically, the local citizenry blamed government forces rather than the extremists for the civilian deaths. Before order could be restored, armed citizens from surrounding areas had descended upon the guard units. Colonel Francis Smith, finding his forces overmatched by the armed mob, ordered a retreat.
Governor Gage has called upon the citizens to support the state/national joint task force in its effort to restore law and order. The governor has also demanded the surrender of those responsible for planning and leading the attack against the government forces. Samuel Adams, Paul Revere, and John Hancock, who have been identified as "ringleaders" of the extremist faction, remain at large.
(The day and month you know, but the year was 1775.)
Thursday, April 16, 2009
Judge Andrew Napolitano, the only guy on Fox worth listening to, offers Six Things You Should Know About the Homeland Security Report on ‘Rightwing Extremism’.
"My guess is that the sentiments revealed in the report I read are the tip of an iceberg that the DHS would prefer to keep submerged until it needs to reveal it. This iceberg is the heavy-hand of government; a government with large and awful eyes, in whose heart there is no love for freedom, and on whose face there is no smile."Be sure to read the entire analysis, it's a frank look at what the government really thinks about American citizens.
Wednesday, April 15, 2009
April 15, a day of legalized theft by our statist masters. A day every true blooded American dreads. This day is the sole reason the government has any power over her
citizens slaves. Without the taxes that we willfully allow the government to plunder, she would have no power or authority over us. Many will argue that taxes are a necessary evil. Are they, and if so, at what rate?
The good Congressman from Texas writes:
Could America exist without an income tax? The idea seems radical, yet in truth America did just fine without a federal income tax for the first 126 years of its history. Prior to 1913, the government operated with revenues raised through tariffs, excise taxes, and property taxes, without ever touching a worker's paycheck. In the late 1800s, when Congress first attempted to impose an income tax, the notion of taxing a citizen's hard work was considered radical! Public outcry ensued; more importantly, the Supreme Court ruled the income tax unconstitutional. Only with passage of the 16th Amendment did Congress gain the ability to tax the productive endeavors of its citizens.
Yet don't we need an income tax to fund the important functions of the federal government? You may be surprised to know that the income tax accounts for only approximately one-third of federal revenue. Only 10 years ago, the federal budget was roughly one-third less than it is today. Surely we could find ways to cut spending back to 1990 levels, especially when the Treasury has single year tax surpluses for the past several years. So perhaps the idea of an America without an income tax is not so radical after all.
The harmful effects of the income tax are obvious. First and foremost, it has enabled government to expand far beyond its proper constitutional limits, regulating virtually every aspect of our lives. It has given government a claim on our lives and work, destroying our privacy in the process. It takes billions of dollars out of the legitimate private economy, with most Americans giving more than a third of everything they make to the federal government. This economic drain destroys jobs and penalizes productive behavior. The ridiculous complexity of the tax laws makes compliance a nightmare for both individuals and businesses. All things considered, our Founders would be dismayed by the income tax mess and the tragic loss of liberty which results.
America without an income tax would be far more prosperous and far more free, but we must be prepared to fight to regain the liberty we have lost incrementally over the past century. I recently introduced "The Liberty Amendment," legislation which would repeal the 16th Amendment and effectively abolish the income tax. I truly believe that real tax reform, reform that so many frustrated Americans desperately want, requires bold legislation that challenges the Washington mind set. Congress talks about reform, but the current tax debate really involves nothing of substance. Both parties are content to continue tinkering with the edges of the tax code to please various special interests. The Liberty Amendment is an attempt to eliminate the system altogether, forcing Congress to find a simple and fair way to collect limited federal revenues. Most of all, the Liberty Amendment is an initiative aimed at reducing the size and scope of the federal government.
Is it impossible to end the income tax? I don't believe so. In fact, I believe a serious groundswell movement of disaffected taxpayers is growing in this country. Millions of Americans are fed up with the current tax system, and they will bring pressure on Congress. Some sidestep Congress completely, bringing legal challenges questioning the validity of the tax code and the 16th Amendment itself. Ultimately, the Liberty Amendment could serve as a flashpoint for these millions of voices.
There are many people engaging in tea party protests today, hoping to send a message to Washington that we've had enough. The problem with this strategy is that the original Boston Tea Party was not a peaceful protest, it was a violent disregard for the law by a people who said no more taxes. Sipsey Street makes the comparison.
The original Boston Tea Party was a calculated act of law-breaking designed to send the British Empire a message it could not fail to comprehend. Making long-winded speeches, thumping impassioned chests and denouncing a government made up of people who have already written you off as unimportant, impotent and no threat to their plans is a waste of time, energy and oxygen. As comfortable and deeply ingrained as they are in all Americans, the conventional political tactics of speech-making, letter-writing and electioneering have brought us to this precipice of defeat. The guttering flame of the Founders' Republic is within one stiff breeze of going out forever. Both political parties have conspired through malice or incompetence to bring us to this state, yet still people look in vain to the system of party politics for salvation. The Founders were not so stupid as to place all their hopes on a corrupt system. When the accepted channels of politics and remonstrance failed, they burned the King's tax stamps, dumped his tea, broke the windows of his tax collectors with rocks and bricks, smuggled forbidden goods, defied "his royal majesty" in hundreds of other ways and dared him to do anything about it. Liberty is not free, nor is it without risk.
Finally, Paul Craig Roberts lays out a concise history of our modern serfdom.
Hat Tip: The Southern Avenger
Tuesday, April 14, 2009
WND reports below.
A newly unclassified Department of Homeland Security report warns against the possibility of violence by unnamed "right-wing extremists" concerned about illegal immigration, increasing federal power, restrictions on firearms, abortion and the loss of U.S. sovereignty and singles out returning war veterans as particular threats.
The report, titled "Right-wing Extremism: Current Economic and Political Climate Fueling Resurgence in Radicalization and Recruitment," dated April 7, states that "threats from white supremacist and violent anti-government groups during 2009 have been largely rhetorical and have not indicated plans to carry out violent acts."
However, the document, first reported by talk-radio host and WND columnist Roger Hedgecock, goes on to suggest worsening economic woes, potential new legislative restrictions on firearms and "the return of military veterans facing significant challenges reintegrating into their communities could lead to the potential emergence of terrorist groups or lone wolf extremists capable of carrying out violent attacks."
The report from DHS' Office of Intelligence and Analysis defines right-wing extremism in the U.S. as "divided into those groups, movements and adherents that are primarily hate-oriented (based on hatred of particular religious, racial or ethnic groups) and those that are mainly anti-government, rejecting federal authority in favor of state or local authority, or rejecting government authority entirely. It may include groups and individuals that are dedicated to a single issue, such as opposition to abortion or immigration."
"[T]he consequences of a prolonged economic downturn – including real estate foreclosures, unemployment and an inability to obtain credit – could create a fertile recruiting environment for right-wing extremists and even result in confrontations between such groups and government authorities similar to those in the past," the report says.
It adds that "growth in these groups subsided in reaction to increased government scrutiny as a result of the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing and disrupted plots, improvements in the economy and the continued U.S. standing as the pre-eminent world power."
"Proposed imposition of firearms restrictions and weapons bans likely would attract new members into the ranks of right-wing extremist groups as well as potentially spur some of them to begin planning and training for violence against the government," the report continues. "The high volume of purchases and stockpiling of weapons and ammunition by right-wing extremists in anticipation of restrictions and bans in some parts of the country continue to be a primary concern to law enforcement."
Most notable is the report's focus on the impact of returning war veterans.
"Returning veterans possess combat skills and experience that are attractive to right-wing extremists," it says. "DHS/I&A is concerned that right-wing extremists will attempt to recruit and radicalize veterans in order to boost their violent capacities."
The report cites the April 4 shooting deaths of three police officers in Pittsburgh as an example of what may be coming, claiming the alleged gunman holds a racist ideology and believes in anti-government conspiracy theories about gun confiscations, citizen detention camps and "a Jewish-controlled 'one-world government.'"
It also suggests the election of an African-American president and the prospect of his policy changes "are proving to be a driving force for right-wing extremist recruitment and radicalization."
The report also mentions "'end times' prophecies could motivate extremist individuals and groups to stockpile food, ammunition and weapons. These teachings also have been linked with the radicalization of domestic extremist individuals and groups in the past, such as the violent Christian Identity organizations and extremist members of the militia movement."
"DHS/I&A assesses that right-wing extremist groups' frustration over a perceived lack of government action on illegal immigration has the potential to incite individuals or small groups toward violence," the report continues.
The report states the DHS will be working with state and local partners over the next several months to determine the levels of right-wing extremist activity in the U.S.
Last month, the chief of the Missouri highway patrol blasted a report issued by the Missouri Information Analysis Center that linked conservative groups to domestic terrorism, assuring that such reports no longer will be issued. The report had been compiled with the assistance of DHS.
The report warned law enforcement agencies to watch for suspicious individuals who may have bumper stickers for third-party political candidates such as Ron Paul, Bob Barr and Chuck Baldwin.
It further warned law enforcement to watch out for individuals with "radical" ideologies based on Christian views, such as opposing illegal immigration, abortion and federal taxes.
Chief James Keathley of the Missouri State Patrol issued a statement that the release of the report, which outraged conservatives nationwide, prompted him to "take a hard look" at the procedures through which the report was released by the MIAC.
"My review of the procedures used by the MIAC in the three years since its inception indicates that the mechanism in place for oversight of reports needs improvement," he wrote. "Until two weeks ago, the process for release of reports from the MIAC to law enforcement officers around the state required no review by leaders of the Missouri State Highway Patrol or the Department of Public Safety."
"For that reason, I have ordered the MIAC to permanently cease distribution of the militia report," he said. "Further, I am creating a new process for oversight of reports drafted by the MIAC that will require leaders of the Missouri State Highway Patrol and the Department of Public Safety to review the content of these reports before they are shared with law enforcement. My office will also undertake a review of the origin of the report by MIAC."
Everyday it's something else, the federal government is so out of control it's unbelievable. When will the sheep wake up and say "ENOUGH!"? Remember, one man's terrorist is another man's freedom-fighter.
Monday, April 13, 2009
"The country that draws a broad line between its fighting men and its thinking men will find its fighting done by fools and its thinking done by cowards."
~Sir William F. Butler
Sunday, April 12, 2009
Friday, April 10, 2009
1. We will NOT obey orders to disarm the American people.
2. We will NOT obey orders to conduct warrantless searches of the American people
3. We will NOT obey orders to detain American citizens as unlawful enemy combatants or to subject them to military tribunal.
4. We will NOT obey orders to impose martial law or a state of emergency on a state.
5. We will NOT obey orders to invade and subjugate any state that asserts its sovereignty.
6. We will NOT obey any order to blockade American cities, thus turning them into giant concentration camps.
7. We will NOT obey any order to force American citizens into any form of detention camps under any pretext.
8. We will NOT obey orders to assist or support the use of any foreign troops on U.S. soil against the American people to keep the peace or to maintain control.
9. We will NOT obey any orders to confiscate the property of the American people, including food and other essential supplies.
10.We will NOT obey any orders which infringe on the right of the people to free speech, to peaceably assemble, and to petition their government for a redress of grievances.
Thursday, April 9, 2009
Two types of laws, mala in se, are wrongs which are always evil in and of themselves (e.g., murder, rape), and mala prohibita, wrongs prohibited because of subjectivity (e.g., underage drinking, speeding).
What is "legal" is not necessarily right. What is right is very often "illegal".
Just because something is immoral doesn't mean it's illegal (e.g., abortion), and just because something is illegal doesn't mean it's immoral (e.g., prohibition).
Wednesday, April 8, 2009
By Michael Gaddy from LRC.
For several decades the state and its willing accomplices in the media and talk radio have marginalized and demonized anyone who alleges involvement of the state in illegal activities or conspiracies to provide false information to support its illegal wars and other agendas. Those who do so are referred to as "conspiracy nuts" or in the case of Rush Limbaugh, Keepers of Odd Knowledge Society members. (K.O.O.K.S)
To believe the state is never involved in illegal conspiracies would require one to believe the state incapable of criminal behavior and Julius Caesar was killed in a random walk-by knifing.
A theory is defined as a guess or conjecture; therefore, once one piece of actual evidence is discovered, a theory no longer exists; it becomes a possibility. The problem Tin-foil hatters face is the lack of any subjective review of that evidence. The state is always in charge of "officially" discovering evidence. When those outside of the state’s influence discover evidence the government has somehow "overlooked," then an "impartial" panel is commissioned to investigate that evidence. The problem is, the impartial panel is always appointed by the state and populated by those with close connections to the state apparatus. Need I say more than the 9/11 Commission, or the Commission led by former Senator John Danforth tasked with investigating the tragedy called Waco?
Even in the event these commissions find wrongdoing by state employees, there are never any prosecutions of those responsible, even when the crime they commit is murder. FBI Agent Lon Horiuchi is a great example. Therefore, it is obvious those who represent the state operate with impunity and/or the state sanctioned "license to kill."
Perhaps the state believes only private citizens are capable of carrying out criminal conspiracies; after all, over 40% of those in federal custody are there for "conspiracy" to commit a crime. But when one mentions the state and criminals, are they not being redundant?
Lately, I have become increasingly skeptical of the timing and circumstances surrounding mass shootings. Any investigator worth his/her salt would question how, within a short time of the state indicating its intention of prohibiting the sale of a certain type firearm, a mass murder occurs in which that type weapon is used.
A prudent individual, unencumbered with emotional or financial connections to the state, cannot logically ignore the similarities in many of these mass shootings.
First, there is the insane and totally explained phenomena of a person becoming angry at someone or something, and then randomly killing people they do not know.
Second, is the almost universal use of mind-altering drugs by the perpetrators of these heinous crimes? Almost all of those involved in school shootings were taking, or had just stopped taking, drugs such as Prozac or Ritalin.
Third, is the fact a great number of the shooters kill themselves after committing their heinous crimes?
Fourth, when the mass shooting does not fit the above profile, the state uses the incident to claim, as they did in the shooting this weekend in Pennsylvania, that the perpetrator feared the state was going to take his guns. This certainly aids the state in its efforts to paint all that are concerned about the possible loss of freedoms and encroachments on the 2A as potential killers and threats to society.
Has the state gained from any of these very suspicious shootings? Of course they have.
After the political assassinations in the 1960s, the state, operating with the fear and outrage of the public, was able to foist on the America the wonderful 1968 Gun Control Act, a law taken almost word for word from the Nazi Weapons Law of 1938. Former NRA President Charlton Heston’s involvement in the promotion of this vile law is a story in itself.
While there are many writers who believe the state is presently too concerned with the economy to concentrate on laws prohibiting the private ownership of firearms, I believe, that because of the economy, the state will be forced to actively pursue draconian firearms legislation as a priority.
As so eloquently stated by many of the economists at LRC, the current actions taken by the government to shore up the economy are all destined to fail. The current bailouts will fill the pockets of those who support and control the state and do nothing but lead to continued unemployment and financial chaos in this country and the world. The coming financial chaos will lead to civil unrest on a huge scale. Those who have been living on the producers in this society have been led to believe (by the state) they are entitled to the property of others and will take whatever action they deem necessary to secure it.
When millions are unemployed and businesses are failing in greater numbers than today, the state will be forced to seek other methods of revenue collection. If there were to be enacted a federal property owner’s tax, and seizures of private property were initiated to supplement the lack of collected revenue to run the state and its empire, state representatives sent to seize the property would prefer unarmed victims. The state will take the necessary steps to protect its revenue collection actions. If not, then why do we have armed IRS agents?
Is the state capable of killing to achieve its goals? One could always ask Randy Weaver and the Waco survivors, not to mention the families of tens of thousands of soldiers and millions of Vietnamese and Iraqis.
In future writings I will detail the similarities of mass killings perpetrated by Charles Whitman, Patrick Purdy, Klebold and Harris, Seung-Hui Cho, and Jiverly Wong, and the evidence that takes state involvement from guess and conjecture to a possibility
Tuesday, April 7, 2009
In a stunning defense of President George W. Bush's warrantless wiretapping program, President Barack Obama has broadened the government's legal argument for immunizing his Administration and government agencies from lawsuits surrounding the National Security Agency's eavesdropping efforts.Raw Story has the rest of the story.
In fact, a close read of a government filing last Friday reveals that the Obama Administration has gone beyond any previous legal claims put forth by former President Bush.
Responding to a lawsuit filed by a civil liberties group, the Justice Department argued that the government was protected by "sovereign immunity" from lawsuits because of a little-noticed clause in the Patriot Act. The government's legal filing can be read here (PDF).
For the first time, the Obama Administration's brief contends that government agencies cannot be sued for wiretapping American citizens even if there was intentional violation of US law. They maintain that the government can only be sued if the wiretaps involve "willful disclosure" -- a higher legal bar.
Monday, April 6, 2009
Dear Mr President, Your Cabinet, Members of Congress and The US Senate, with all due respect . . .
You were not elected by nor do you serve any particular ethnic, economic or religious group or any particular political party. You were elected by the citizens of this great country and you serve us all equally.
This great nation was created over 200 years ago by leaders with vision, courage and humility. They created a nation based on freedom. The freedom to fail and the right to inherit the consequences of failure, the freedom to succeed and the right to enjoy the benefits of that success and the right to speak out without fear of criticism or retaliation.
You are all dangerously close to trashing over 200 years of blood, sweat, effort, passion and patriotism. I strongly urge that you let go of your arrogance, shortsightedness, special interests, stupidity and lack of courage and recognize that you enjoy your position at the discretion of your employer, The Board of Directors of America, its citizens.
When the President of the United States believes he has the authority to fire the President of an American Corporation, regardless of whether that organization was the beneficiary of US Government funds or his effectiveness as a leader is not consistent with the purpose under which this country was founded.
When members of the President’s cabinet refuse to accept responsibility for mistakes, poor judgment or poor vision this is not acceptable behavior by your Board of Directors.
When members of Congress and the US Senate continue to play politics while denying that they are doing so, do they really believe that the average American citizen doesn’t see through their behavior?
When our government in general acts as if it is not accountable to all of us but just a few of us.
When your Board is treated with disrespect, lies, misrepresentations and manipulation, we do not treat these lightly.
As the signer of this letter I am only speaking for myself, but please keep in mind that I am a member of your Board and you do serve only at my discretion and the discretion of my fellow board members.
Here’s what I suggest.
1) You stop worrying about keeping your jobs and start doing your jobs.
2) Recognize that you are responsible to all of us not some of us and that includes all of the people who will be members of your future Boards for years and years to come.
3) Start acting with integrity and not party affiliation. You are Americans first - don’t ever forget that. Although many of you say the right words, but your actions continue to be partisan. We are not stupid.
4) Recognize that this country, in less than 250 years, has become one of the greatest countries in the history of the world. And this greatness was accomplished by us, your Board and not you, our leaders.
5) Get back to the values grounded in the US Constitution and Bill of Rights. Stop apologizing for our greatness, our spirit and our goals. We want to be good Global neighbors, but in the end, we are your Employer not other Countries.
6) We accept that we are part of a Global Village, but we are entitled to out unique values, rights, economic lifestyle and individual future regardless of the views of other Countries and their temporary leaders.
7) Stop patronizing us and treating us like children. We are adults and we can handle truth. We might not like it, but no matter what, we will deal with reality and we will overcome as we always have for over 200 years.
8) Stop rewarding failure and punishing success.
9) Accept the simple fact that increasing the money supply will not rebuild our confidence in this economy or your ability to manage it.
10) Stop dealing in fear tactics and threats.
11) You wanted the job. You ran and were elected. Stop blaming the previous administrations or people for your problems. Grow up and deal with them without blame.
12) Take responsibility for your actions, decisions and behaviors and stop hiding behind anyone who is willing to act as your shield.
Therefore; Mr President, You’re Cabinet, Members of Congress and The US Senate, with all due respect . . .
We want you to recognize and accept that your position is only a temporary one and that if you continue to try and shove bad decisions, poor judgment, a lack of integrity and allegiances to only a few of us rather than all of us, down our throats, we will terminate you.
Remember, you report to us, we don’t report to you so start acting with all of our present and future best interests and not just a select few of us - in mind or you will be fired.
Feel free to contact me if you would like some other recommendations for improving your behavior.
an American Citizen
Member of the American Board of Directors
Saturday, April 4, 2009
"The Statue of Liberty on the East Coast should be supplemented by a Statue of Responsibility on the West Coast. Freedom and Responsibility are two sides of the same coin, you cannot truly have one without the other."
~paraphrase of Viktor Frankl, Man's Search for Meaning
Friday, April 3, 2009
Debt Prison has great piece on the hypocrisy of "conservative" talk radio pundits. Here's a brief excerpt:
The same Conservatives, who complain so loudly about the involvement of government in our private market (and rightfully so I believe) never seem to complain when we use government force to manage the affairs of other nations. As was clearly demonstrated by our invasion and continued occupation of Iraq, Conservatives maintain the position that our government knows what is best for the people of Iraq.Read the entire article here.
According to these radio hosts “the government screws up everything they touch”… with the acute exception of foreign policy.
How can these Conservatives complain that the U.S. government isn’t capable of centrally planning the economy, but still insist that our government is perfectly capable of centrally planning the government, economy, and culture of another country via perpetual war and nation building? Their vision is crystal clear on government intervention in the economy but dismally naive in the realm of foreign policy.