I wish that Trey Gowdy could have made more headway on his various investigations, but there’s no doubt that he’s a superb cross-examiner. Clear, organized, and extraordinarily gifted at getting his point across — and in this case, his point is that the government has created a regime that deprives Americans of a core constitutional right without due process. It’s such a gross government overreach that I don’t even feel a smidgen of sympathy for the apparatchik caught in Gowdy’s crosshairs during this examination:
Domestic drudgery is over and blogging
beings begins. Yay!
The establishment is very afraid of Donald Trump. Thomas Lifson is correct that it is outrageous for U.S. “Intelligence” officials to try to sabotage Trump’s campaign by saying they’re afraid to give him intelligence briefings. This would be despicable under any circumstances, but it’s especially grotesque considering that the only reason Hillary is not rotting in prison for treasonous high crimes and misdemeanors is because the President is protecting her (probably because she knows his secrets, just as he knows hers).
What’s really disgraceful about this already disgraceful spectacle is that these establishment types seem to have forgiven Hillary the whole Benghazi debacle, from the mismanagement before; to the vanishing act during, which almost certainly cost four lives; to the cover-up after. Others have not forgotten:
Ann Coulter takes on those accusing Trump of racism. Ann is in fine, sarcastic fettle as she flushes out the cowards (on the Right) and race hustlers (on the Left) who are attacking Trump:
Having thought about it a lot, I’m about to commit what many will believe is heresy: I believe conservatives should suck it up and vote for Trump so as to avoid a hard Left presidency. Trying to save the Republican party at this juncture is an intellectual and practical dead-end, akin to doing CPR on a pulse-free heart attack victim even as the sarin gas is leaking under the door, through the keyhole, and over the transom.
As a predicate to my argument, let me say two things. First, the more I know of Trump as a person, the less I like him. He is rude, crude, coarse, mean, and vicious. I think that he speaks to everything that is low in the human condition. Second, I deeply respect those who are stating a principled opposition to a Trump presidency, men such as David French, George Will, and Ben Sasse.
Respecting them, though, doesn’t mean that I think these men, and other like-minded people, are making the right call. From where I sit, the mere fact that Donald Trump was nominated means that the Republican Party is already dead. We can drag it around for a bit, and dress it up nicely, but it’s still a rotting corpse and one that cannot be resuscitated.
Perhaps my different take comes about because, unlike French, Will, Sasse, or other prominent members of the #NeverTrump crowd, I am not a lifetime Republican. The party doesn’t hold any emotional resonance for me. I wasn’t there intellectually during the glory days of Eisenhower or Reagan. I came to conservativism at the beginning of the 21st century by dint of very hard intellectual work.
Reaching conservativism meant that, after a lifetime of unthinkingly checking the boxes next to every Democrat candidates’ name, I had finally figured out that no Democrat policies worked to achieve the promised goals — and, indeed, that all of these policies were counterproductive:
Sometimes we’re lucky to end up with a super brilliant friend who has the gift of making complex information accessible (sort of like Thomas Sowell). My brilliant friend is Wolf Howling, who has spent the last few years delving deeply into the American Revolution and its causes. He wrote here before about the Writs of Assistance that helped drive the Revolution. Today, he’s shared with me an essay he wrote about how inextricably intertwined religion and revolution were in 18th Century North America:
While the Writs of Assistance controversy may have lit the fuse for the Revolution in 1756, it was on January 30, 1750, that the soil in which the Revolution would grow was first tilled. On that day, a young Congregationalist minister, Jonathan Mayhew, but three years out of Harvard Divinity School, would take to the pulpit at Boston’s Old West Church and, for his sermon, read from a document he had labored upon for several months, A Discourse Concerning Unlimited Submission and Non-Resistance to the Higher Powers.
In the sermon, Mayhew was responding to the fact that Anglican clergy in Britain were working to rehabilitate and glorify King Charles I, the tyrannical and hapless King who was beheaded on January 30, 1649 during England’s Civil War. Given that the English Civil War ended up pitting mostly Puritans (by 1750, known as Congregationalists) and Presbyterians (Dissenters, as they were then called collectively) on one side and against a largely Anglican force on the King’s side, it is not surprising that any attempt to rehabilitate Charles and demonize those who fought against him would draw a heated response from a Congregationalist Minister.
Little marked for whatever reason today – perhaps because of the left’s efforts to rewrite our Revolution as wholly secular – the sermon, which Mayhew had printed and distributed throughout the colonies and Britain, was at the time a very influential document. In his discourse, Rev. Mayhew explained that religion justified resisting a tyrant generally and Charles I specifically. Moreover, he argued that British liberties sprang forth from the natural rights God had bestowed on man, so that fighting to protect those rights from a sovereign’s encroachment was more than a secular option, it was a religious obligation. Mayhew, in one of his sermons, in 1750, also was the first on American soil to utter the words “no taxation without representation.”
While Bookworm is away at Disneyland, she’s tasked me to fill in for her. I am going to try and do so without any mention of the names Trump, Cruz, Sanders or Hildabeast (more than once). Instead this will be a historical post, but one that I hope resonates still today.
I’ve been researching the causes of the American Revolution, and while there were several, arguably the fuse of the American Revolution was first lit in 1756 Boston, when and where a corrupt government customs official began to make use of a rare practice — a general search warrant coupled with a “Writ of Assistance” — to fill his pockets. It raised the issue of the government’s power to search without any reasonable suspicion of a crime having been committed — essentially a fishing expedition easily abused to harass, punish or, in this instance, plunder — done without oversight by a magistrate.
The legal background was that, in 1662, in the wake of England’s Civil War and with its finances depleted, Parliament passed a bill giving the Court of the Exchequer, a uniquely English court that deals only with debts to the government, a right in England to issue a Writ of Assistance to its custom’s agents. This Writ authorized the agents to search anywhere — including private homes and other properties, locked or not — if the agents thought they might find items illegally imported or on which customs were not paid. No magistrate or judge provided oversight in individual cases. Such general warrants under a Writ of Assistance would remain valid for the life of the King or Queen in power when such warrant was issued.
This was extended to the colonies, by very imprecise language, by an Act of 1696. This law allowed “Courts of the Exchequer” in the colonies to issue such general search warrants. This should have raised an immediate red flag since there were no Courts of the Exchequer in the colonies, but as the power went unused in the colonies for six decades, no one contested it.
Bush didn’t, Obama wouldn’t, but the next president should: Call into the Oval Office the leaders of Muslim communities throughout America to say, “Because of the First Amendment, the fact that you and the people in your community practice Islam is irrelevant to us in America. Your faith is your business. What is relevant to me as leader of this nation is whether you support America or not. When all of you leave this office, you need to carry a single message to your communities: ‘You are either supportive of America or working to undermine America. If you’re in the latter category, you are on notice here and now that my administration will use every constitutional means available to track you, capture you, prosecute you, and imprison or deport you.’ End of story. Thank you for coming. Goodbye.”
Having got that off my chest, I’m about to engage in a speed round-up, because I’ve got about 40 articles — really good articles — to share with you.
A Cruz convert explains why. The most interesting point is that Trump started with something no other Republican has had since Reagan — vast name recognition.
Slowly catching on to the fact that Trump is the Republican Obama. I’ve been saying from Day 1 that Trump is a white Obama. He promises hope and change by using government power to shape America to his will. And let me say, that is my sole problem with Trump: That he’s all about big government, precisely as Obama is. I find that unacceptable. Jonathan Tobin is another one who’s finally figured out the whole Obama Doppelgänger thing.
Trump is a special interest candidate. And that special interest is Donald Trump.
Is the media sitting on big Trump stories? Ted Cruz thinks that there are some horrible stories to be told about Trump, which wouldn’t surprise me given his sordid personal life and . . . ah . . . colorful business life. Once Trump is the candidate, says Cruz, the media will “suddenly” discover stories that make Trump unelectable. I think Cruz is right because we all know the media, don’t we?
Trump’s enemy list makes me like him. George Soros has given money to 187 different special interest groups that are attacking Trump. (To be honest, a lot of them are attacking Cruz too. Indeed, on Sunday, I heard a New Yorker news hour on NPR during which the speakers agreed that Cruz is the more dangerous of the two leading Republican candidates because he actually believes in the Constitution.) In other words, here’s a list of 187 Soros-funded organizations that try to destroy anything conservative.
Will Trump win the nomination? Scott Elliott, an extremely astute election watcher and a man with a history of accurate election predictions, is not a Trump fan. He’s therefore created the “Stop-Trump-O-Meter,” which tracks the outcomes of state primaries and projects the outcome at the convention. Even if you’re a Trump fan, you’ll like Scott’s meter, because, if you ignore the name, it tells in a clear way where the candidates stand in the Republican primary.
If you destroy the polite people, you create room for the impolite ones. Glenn Reynolds points out that the GOP, RINOS, and the Leftist media establishment did everything possible to destroy the happy, tidy, law-abiding Tea Party. Now they’re horrified that destroying the Tea Party left rage in its place.
USA Today editors question Hillary’s fitness for office. USA Today, in its quest to be “America’s newspaper,” the one read in more hotel lobbies than any other paper, is careful about taking strong partisan stands. That’s why it’s impressive that the editors see Hillary’s penchant for secrecy, and the security-evading steps she took in pursuit of her paranoia, as a serious impediment to the presidency.
I was struggling to explain to a Bernie supporter why his “compassionate” politics will not stop the risks to Americans from further socializing and therefore growing American government. In military terminology, a force multiplier is a single capability that, when added to an enterprise, dramatically increases the effect.
The problem with government is that, as it grows, no matter the original good intentions behind it, it invariably becomes a force multiplier for evil. Thus, once government power passes a certain point, government becomes the equivalent of a bull in a china shop, with its every motion causing massive damage. Incidentally, the china in that shop is always you — the individual.
I defy any one of you reading this to identify a huge government that has not eventually done great damage to its citizens. This is true whether the government was an imperial monarchy (Rome or China), a theocracy (Iran), a military dictatorship (every tin pot tyrant in Latin America), a socialist government (Greece), a communist government (USSR or China), or a demagogic cult of personality (a la, say, Mugabe in Zimbabwe).
Individuals can be stupid and even unbelievably cruel. Every day the media is filled with stories from around the world of people killing or harming each other, whether through carelessness or deliberate action. Reading these stories, we may long for a strong hand from above to create order. If you’re an environmentalist, you want government to beat down the polluters and the deniers. If you’re devoutly religious, you want leadership that stops blasphemy, premarital sex, abortion, and pornography. If you’re a feminist, you want to bring to heel men who demean women. People with strong ideals believe that they are being good when they seek an equally strong government that will enforce those beliefs.
There’s actually nothing wrong with voters within a small community enacting regulations that allow government to enforce their beliefs. Small governments are close to and responsive to the voters, making them ideal laboratories of democracy. For example, Colorado is a perfect test case for marijuana legalization. Local voters asked for it, it’s being implemented, and an interested America can see whether legalizing pot is a good thing or a bad thing. Because the experiment’s scale is finite, the ensuing damage is limited, those who hate the law’s effects can move elsewhere without leaving their country, and a local law is more easily reversed than something enacted and enforced at a national level.
Likewise, if California voters elect legislators who think that green cars will save the world, and therefore give enormous subsidies to rich people for buying electric cars at a discount . . . well, go for it. Smart, wealthy Californians will buy the subsidized car and then head for a low-tax state. Those who can’t afford the cars and resent the subsidies can also move. Meanwhile, the rest of America can marvel at a state with the highest poverty rate in America that subsidizes rich people’s toys.
When things happen at a national level, where governments are increasingly removed from their representatives (not to mention entirely removed from ideologically-driven Supreme Court justices) they rapidly become anti-democratic. This is most obvious when it comes to money because anything that involves the federal government involves money — incredibly vast sums of money. Where there’s money, there’s corruption. That’s how it came about that, during a painful recession, taxpayers across America find themselves funding Solyndra and related entities — not because doing so was good business, but because the government put its thumb on the scale. When those companies failed, there was nowhere for ripped-off Americans to go, short of emigrating.
Government’s most powerful effect as a force multiplier doesn’t involve money, it involves death. Progressives like to point out that America has a very high murder rate. They believe that government could compassionately end murder if it would confiscate guns, fund more abortions in poverty-stricken regions (eliminating potential criminals), and otherwise attack root causes. Following this line of thinking, Progressives reason that the bigger the government, the more quickly it can bring about murder’s end.
In fact, the opposite is true. Data shows that individuals are surprisingly bad at mass killings, including individuals equipped with the Progressives’ bête noire — the gun. For example, the worst individual mass murderer with a gun was Anders Behring Breivik who, on July 22, 2011, shot and killed 69 people in Norway – mostly teenagers. This rampage came after he’d already set off a bomb, killing 8 people.
Even when individuals band together in armed groups they’re still surprisingly ineffective at killing. The bloody Mumbai terror attack in 2008 is killed 154 people. The 2015 Paris massacre claimed 139 lives.
Even if mass murderers abandon their guns and think really big, they’re still operating in the low four-digits when it comes to mass murder. In 1999, Gameel al-Batouti, a pilot, hollered “Allahu Akbar” as he piloted a plane full of passengers into the Atlantic Ocean, killing 217 people. Even the 19 al Qaeda members who used box cutters to hijack four planes, crashing them into three buildings and a field, couldn’t break 3,000, taking “only” 2,996 innocent lives.
At this point, smart readers have probably noticed the huge flaw in my argument about how inefficient individuals or small bands of people are when it comes to killing. I’ve focused on specific crimes and ignored the aggregate number of people dead in American throughout its history thanks to violent individuals. The clever Progressive would argue that, if we had a really powerful (but compassionate) government, most crime would stop, thereby saving lives.
Sadly, it turns out that’s not true. Instead, the opposite is true. The reality is that, even if individual Americans were super-efficient killing machines for our country’s entire 233 year history, we’d still be rank amateurs compared to Big Government’s force multiplier effect when it comes to murder.
Let me explain by having you join me in playing around with numbers: We’ll begin by adding up America’s annual murder statistics from 1960 through 2012. During those 52 years, Americans murdered 914,191 of their fellow citizens. (This period, which encompasses the implementation of and fall-out from the Democrat’s Great Society experiment, saw the largest number of murders in America’s history.)
Now let’s pretend, solely for the sake of argument, that this high murder rate is not an outlier. Instead, we’ll pretend that it’s the American way of life for 900,000 people to get murdered every 50 years. Thus, we’ll pretend that from 1783-1833 there were 900,000 murders in America, and we’ll also pretend that from 1833 to 1883 another 900,000 people got murdered, and so on for every 50 year block of time through to the present. If we play this game for America’s entire 233 year history, there would have been about 4,000,000 murders in America by 2016.
That imaginary, inflated number — 4,000,000 murders! — sounds scarily high. Couldn’t a compassionate government have saved those lives? Probably not. The reality is that, compared to what governments — the force multipliers of evil — can do, that massively inflated number is nothing! There is no killing power greater than government, which has a concentration of men and weapons that even the most blood thirsty murderer can only dream of. Look at the numbers for just the 20th and 21st centuries:
Turkey: In 1915, the Turkish government ordered and carried out the slaughter of 1.5 million Armenians.
Soviet Union: In the 1920s through mid-1930s, the Soviet government under Stalin declared war on the independent Ukrainian farmers known as Kulaks. Through government engineered starvation, deportation, and execution, the Soviets are estimated to have killed approximately 7 million Kulaks.
The Kulaks were just one group who died off in a specific mass killing. In fact, nobody really knows how many of its citizens the Soviet Union killed, whether using starvation, outright execution, or penal colonies. Estimates range from 7 million to 20 million people dying due to the Soviet government’s policies and purges.
China in the 1960s through 1970s: When it comes to a government killing its own citizens, the Soviets were pikers compared to the Chinese. Current estimates for those who died during the Great Leap Forward due to government engineered famine, executions, and slave labor, range from between 23 million to 46 million Chinese. Some estimates (outliers, admittedly) posit even 50 million or more Chinese dying to appease Chairman Mao’s statist vision.
Nazi Germany, from 1933-1945: You knew I’d get to the Nazis, of course. Not satisfied with purging their own country of Jews, gypsies, homosexuals, and handicapped people, the Nazis conquered Europe from France to Poland to Denmark and embarked upon a purge in those countries too.
With their pick of helpless victims, the Nazis killed 6 million Jews; 250,000 gypsies; 220,000 homosexuals, and, through slave labor, executions, and starvation, as many as 10 million Slavic people. (The number of handicapped people killed is unknown.) To the deliberate murders of unarmed combatants, the Nazis added the deaths of another 19,315,000 Europeans who weren’t targeted because of race, religion, sexual orientation, or disability but who were, instead, just in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Cambodia: Following the Cambodian Civil War, Pol Pot rose to power in Cambodia. Once in power, in the years between 1975 and 1979, his government killed between 1.7 and 2.2 million of its own citizens, out of a population of around 8 million people. Were the U.S. to have a Pol Pot moment today, that would be the equivalent of having the federal government kill 66 million to 85 million people in four years.
North Korea: Nobody knows how many North Koreans have died since the murderous Kim regime came into power. One estimate is that 1,293,000 North Koreans have died at their government’s hands. That number, of course, is entirely separate from the hundreds of thousands of North Koreans residing in concentration camps throughout that hellish little nation.
The above are the government-engineered mass murders that spring most readily to my mind. I’ve obviously left out many murderous regimes that properly belong on the list, everything from Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, to Cuba, to just about every tin-pot dictatorship in Africa and Latin America. If you would like the full body of statistics for government-engineered mass murders in the 20th and 21st centuries, I recommend R. J. Rummel’sStatistics of Democide, which examines 214 regimes. I’ve picked my way through some of this opus and, even though Rummel’s writing is scholarly not scintillating, I was able to catch the depressing gist: governments kill and, given the chance, they kill often, in staggering numbers.
Let me restate my premise once more: Government is a force multiplier of evil. No matter the initial intentions that led to the build-up of a powerful government (compassion, efficiency, “fairness,” economic strength), eventually government is going to start taking sides and, as surely as night follows day, it will bring the full weight of its police and military power against the side it didn’t take.
A compassionate government will talk itself into euthanizing people who, because they are very old or sick, use up more than their fair share of medical care. This has already happened under England’s National Health Service, which kills off old, sick people, and whose “ethicists” advocate even more killings (out of “compassion” of course).
A compassionate government dedicated to efficiency will convince itself that individuals or organizations that stand in the way of efficiency must be controlled and, if they won’t be controlled, must be destroyed. After all, without mandated efficiency, people will suffer.
A compassionate government dedicated to “fairness” (usually thought of in economic terms), will quickly conclude that it’s entirely unfair that one distinct group or another is wealthier or healthier than the rest. That group must be brought to heel and, failing that, destroyed.
A compassionate government dedicated to national purity will naturally have to kill the impure within its borders and, once that’s done, it would be even more compassionate to extend that purity throughout the world.
Even the most murderous theocracies will argue that compassion guides them. Their tortures, executions, and Holy Wars are meant to bring people closer to God, which is the highest form of human existence. Isn’t that a nice, compassionate thing to do?
The only bulwark against the force multiplier of government evil is limited government. That’s why America’s Founding Fathers, who had just rebelled against the most powerful government in the world, did everything they could to bolster individual rights (i.e., what we now call “civil rights”).
As the Declaration of Independence states unambiguously, each person has unalienable rights — the ultimate civil liberties, if you will — that do not come from government. Our individual rights exist independent of government. Government’s job is not to create these rights, but to safeguard them. Government cannot hand them out, nor can it take them away. They just are. And if government fails to provide the proper safeguards or, worse, itself threatens these unalienable rights, it is not the rights that are illegitimate, it is the government.
Very soon after the American Revolution ended, our Founders recognized that the federal government needed some guidance if it was to maintain its legitimacy and provide a stable structure for its citizens without destroying their rights. To that end, in 1791, the Founders enacted the Bill of Rights (i.e., the first ten amendments to the United States Constitution). They are short and sweet, and are notable for the way in which, rather than extending government power, they severely restrict its power over citizens.
It took eight amendments to drive home the explicit rights inherent in individuals, rights that government must keep inviolate. But to reiterate just how severely constrained the United States’ federal governments’ power is vis a vis the citizens within its borders, the Founders made two further points: While the amendments are to be understood to control the federal government, they cannot be read to mean that American citizens have only those rights enumerated in the first eight amendments (9th Amendment). Instead, those ostensibly stated affirmative “rights” are actually limitations on the government. All else remains to a free people.
And if the 9th Amendment isn’t sufficiently clear, the 10th Amendment says that, unless the Constitution explicitly reserves an affirmative right for the federal government, or prohibits it to a state, all other rights — the universe of rights, whether or not articulated — belong to the states or the people within those states.
This is small government writ large. Civil rights mean small government, with the federal government limited primarily (although not entirely) to protecting citizens from itself. The Bill of Rights is meant to put a brake on government’s inevitable end-point as a force multiplier of evil.
In this election, looking at either side of the political divide (Democrat or Republican), there is only one candidate who has repeatedly, throughout his life and career, professed fealty to the Constitution. That candidate is Ted Cruz. Even if you don’t like him, even if you think he’s arrogant, even if his God talk scares you, his loud constitutional fealty means that he has boxed himself into a corner. He cannot utilize the force multiplier effect to bring about whatever nefarious goals you might fear he has. Jonah Goldberg sums it up nicely:
Cruz’s “brand” hinges almost entirely on his fidelity to the Constitution. Mimicking Barack Obama’s disdain for the Constitution simply wouldn’t be an option for Cruz, and that means he’d have to work with Congress to get his conservative agenda passed.
What matters now is that Cruz is a talented and committed conservative. He is also Republicans’ best chance for keeping their presidential nomination from going to someone with low character and worse principles.
There are many candidates this year who promise to use the government to make things better. That is an oxymoronic promise. Except in very limited areas (national security, public health, preserving open trade between states and nations), the bigger the government gets, the worse it becomes.
To those voters contemplating which candidate to support in the upcoming primaries, I bet of you to ignore anger, ignore pretty speeches, ignore alleged compassion, ignore history-making feminism, and ignore any other “trend of the minute” concerns or promises. Instead, vote for the only candidate who has predicated his entire career and candidacy on limiting government power, thereby limiting government’s force multiplier effect of evil.
(And one more thing: Before you vote, please read Garry Kasparov’s illuminating opinion piece about the evils of socialism and the wonders of American-style, free-market capitalism. It’s not just a challenge to Bernie’s promises. It’s an encomium to an America predicated on individual liberty and a free-market economy.)
Republican voters have a very stark choice facing them: Do they vote for the candidate who promises to resurrect American greatness through the power of his will, or do they vote for the candidate who promises to resurrect American greatness by recognizing the Constitution’s centrality in American governance? Maybe I’m being foolishly reductionist, but the answer to that question seems to lie within the question itself: You cannot “resurrect” America unless you first resurrect the Constitution to its rightful place in American politics.
I don’t doubt that Trump will fulfill his promises to undo some of the damage Obama has done, both at home and abroad. And I fully understand the appeal of a candidate who seems likely to carry out an agenda with which a voter agrees.
The problem is that Trump’s free-wheeling stump promises, well-known history, and uber-alpha personality make it clear that he’ll carry out his promises the same way Obama did it: Through executive ukases, crony capitalism, and smearing his political opponents. There’s no room in Trump’s rhetoric for the Constitution. Indeed, as far as I can tell, the only allusion Trump has made during the primary season to the Constitution is to express support for the Second Amendment (and believe me, I appreciate that).
While it’s tempting to go for the quick and easy fix Trump promises, doing so betrays the Constitution and, in doing so, undercuts everything that makes America exceptional. The men who wrote the Constitution were trying to create a government free of Obama’s executive legislation, crony capitalism, and power plays through personal attacks — political sins that were all rife in British government in the 18th century. The Founders rightly understood that these malevolent government practices concentrated power and wealth in the hands of a small group of people, while denying liberty to each individual.
Had the Founder’s wished to, they could have gone the socialist root, which was already bubbling up through the Enlightenment, only to flower in the French Revolution. They understood that this approach to government had nothing to do with individual liberty. The only thing that a socialist government does is to transfer power from a monarchy to an all-powerful government body that purports to represent the people’s collective. Individuals in a socialist society have as little freedom and as few rights as individuals in any tyrannical system, whether its communist, monarchist, theocratic, or oligarchic.
That is, the Founders understood that switching rulers always leaves the way open for another tyranny. The only way to prevent tyranny is to change the government’s fundamental structure. That’s where the Constitution comes in, with its truly revolutionary approach to allocating power between the people and their government.
To keep government weak and individual liberties strong, the Founders created a government with divided powers so that no one branch could become too powerful, especially because they assumed that each branch would zealously guard its power from any encroachment by the other two branches. The Founders would have been horrified to see Americans, whom they envisioned as a collection of individuals, rather than a people’s collective, willingly vote for an executive who wants to aggregate power. They would have been even more horrified to see a Congress, whether because of laziness, cronyism, or fear, lie supine in the face of executive overreach.
Both the age of Obama and Trump’s astonishing rise to prominence show that too many Americans don’t understand that the Constitution’s entire thrust is towards individual liberty, not government power. The Constitution does not impose its obligations on “We, the People;” instead, it imposes them on the federal government itself.
Unlike laws, which are limitations that governments impose upon people, the Constitution is a contract by which the People impose limitations on the government. To that end, the main body of the Constitution defines a functioning limited government. It is structured to ensure that, when it functions properly, no single branch can function alone.
Once having structured a government that was theoretically immune to dictatorship, the Founders were then able to turn their attention to protecting the People’s unalienable under that government. They understood that, if the government can “giveth” something and then “taketh” it away again, that something is not a right; it is, instead, a mere privilege.
Rights belong to the People independent of government. The Constitution’s first ten amendments describe rights that are fundamental to the individual and, therefore, transcend government. The Founders stated them explicitly because they understood that even the most beneficent, well-intentioned government, once it got the bit between its teeth, could not be relied upon to protect these rights. It was therefore necessary to err on the side of caution by defining each individual’s inherent rights and warning federal government away from touching them.
Even more importantly, the Founders vested the most important power of all — the power of the purse — in the House of Representatives, which is the branch of government closely connected to each individual American. House members serve for much shorter terms than Supreme Court justices (life terms), executives (minimum 4 year terms) and Senators (minimum 6 year terms). In addition to a Representative’s short term of office, which means the people can quickly punish or reward legislative conduct, the House of Representatives mirrors population dynamics. The Senate is fixed at two representatives per state, there’s only one president, and there are nine Supreme Court justices. The House, by contrast, is reconfigured every ten years to represent accurately the number of people in various population centers and deserts throughout the U.S. All of this means that, if the People are not pleased with the government, they can quickly, and in proportion to their numbers, make their displeasure known through the House.
The Founders also envisioned each branch zealously guarding its power from any encroachment by the other two branches. They would have been horrified if they could have seen the current relationship between Congress and the White House. Since 2010, even though the majority in Congress was elected by citizens who disapproved of the executive branch’s overreach, a toxic blend of crony capitalism, corrupt collegiality, laziness, and craven fear has seen Congress willingly cede its power to the executive branch. Sadly, as Obama’s election showed and Trump’s candidacy promises, the People are just as ready as their Congress people to hand their rights over to a demagogue.
We’ve now had seven years to see what happens when people elect a charismatic leader who promises to carry out his agenda no matter what signals the People send when they vote for their Representatives and even their Senators. When the People made clear through Congressional elections that they did not like Obama’s agenda, Obama simply went it alone. He went it alone on border security, he went it alone on treaties, and he went it alone on Obamacare. Each time Obama did so, he not only damaged our national security and our economy, he damaged the liberty-focused constitutional underpinning that makes up American exceptionalism.
The fact that the next president can use that same presidential pen to rescind Obama’s overreaching executive orders does not remedy the situation. To begin with, Obama’s extra-constitutional acts have already caused profound damage that may take years or decades to remedy. Even worse, unless we elect as president someone whose first and last loyalty is to the Constitution rather than to the government, Obama will have set a precedent for executive overreach that, unchecked, will see political power in America devolve solely onto one person: the president. Another word for that kind of president is “dictator.”
We already know that Hillary and Bernie have no intention of allowing their administrations to be subject to constitutional limits. Whatever Obama did, they promise to do too, only more so. It’s also entirely reasonable to believe that Donald Trump doesn’t intend to limit himself either. He repeatedly makes clear that he’ll get things done through the power of his personality, through his manipulations, and through his will. The Constitution doesn’t fit into the repertoire of a man whose entire career has been based upon making a deal in whatever way he can. Trump may well do everything he’s promised, but at what cost to America?
As best as I can tell, Ted Cruz is the only candidate who has true reverence for the Constitution, seeing it as the sublime document that it is. He recognizes that it is the first and, so far, only document in the history of human kind that vests power, not in a monarchy, or an aristocracy, or an oligarchy, or a people’s collective, or a theocracy, but in each individual. The Constitution’s obsessive focus on the individual is why it is a bulwark against tyranny and why we must elect a president who understands that.
Ted Cruz will most certainly exercise his executive authority to void Barack Obama’s extra-constitutional legislative activities. After that, though, he’s been explicit about the fact that he will return power to the People through their representative legislative body, and that he will nominate to the Supreme Court justices who understand that the Constitution is meant primarily to create a limited government that preserves individual liberties.
A vote for Ted Cruz is not a vote for this agenda or that agenda. It is a vote for America itself. No matter how much you agree with Trump’s stated goals, please think twice about voting for a person who will be nothing more than a populist, vaguely conservative Obama. Ted Cruz has an admirably conservative agenda — strong national security, strong military, strong borders, free market capitalism not crony capitalism, freedom of worship, Second Amendment rights, friend to Israel, enemy to jihadist Islam — but he’ll implement it through the Constitution, not without it. Voting for Ted Cruz means that we’ll get the values we seek in a conservative president without destroying American exceptionalism and individual liberties.
I have sitting in front of me a piece of a very juicy story that’s happening in real-time — and I can’t do anything about it right now! Two things stop me: The first is that, as I said, I currently only have a piece, and I need more information to understand fully what is going on; the second is that I don’t know yet whether what’s happening is operating under a confidentiality agreement.
The fact that I got some of the information means that someone (and I know who) violated confidentiality, but the whole thing is too sensitive for me to charge into. I’m going to keep an eye on things, though, and I’ll let you know when/if I have a real story. Meanwhile….
On guns, using Alinsky against the Alinsky-ites
Saul Alinksy may have had an ugly ideology, but he was a master tactician. One of his mandates is that you have to make your political enemy play by his own rules. The Virginia GOP is making noises about doing just that, although I doubt GOPers will have the courage of their convictions:
Virginia’s radically anti-gun Governor and Attorney General were probably quite pleased with themselves when they spitefully severed concealed carry agreements with 25 states, including all but one of its neighbors.
They probably didn’t anticipate the backlash they’ve received, which includes calls to recall or impeach Attorney General Mark Herring, and pushes for legislation that will both strip elected officials of the ability to make such unilateral decisions, and get a little payback.
Herring’s announcement came three weeks before the start of the General Assembly session, which is controlled by Republicans. In November, a bill was filed that would require Virginia to recognize permits from other states. If approved, it would reverse Herring’s ruling.
Carrico said he’ll address the issue come January.
“A lot of the governor’s power is deferred to the General Assembly at that point and I’ll be getting with my collegues to circumvent everything this governor has done on this point,” he said. “I have a budget amendment that I’m looking at to take away his executive protection unit. If he’s so afraid of guns, then I’m not going to surround him with armed state policemen.”
Read more here.
It would be fruitless and damaging to try stripping Hillary Clinton of her Secret Service detail. Having said that, it would be brilliant if, at every campaign stop, people ask her why, because she is such a strong anti-gun campaigner, she shouldn’t be stripped of that armed coverage. And I’d love to see the same question asked of Obama at town halls.
I suspect both will reply that they need security because they’re targets. Statistically speaking, though, I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that the average citizen of Chiraq is just as likely to be a target — the only difference is that the Chiraquian cannot defend himself (or have others defend him).
Although the question of Muslim refugees is no longer front page news, the Left is still keeping up the relentless drumbeat that those of us who oppose unfettered Syrian and Islamic immigration into America are racist, “Islamophobic,”* and unconstitutional. We’re told it’s wrong of us to judge the many by the bad actions of a few and that we’re running counter to our legal system’s insistence that people are innocent until proven guilty.
This is misdirection. We are not as a nation trying to obtain a criminal conviction against today’s immigrant because of a specific terrorist act committed by yesterday’s immigrant. Instead, we are engaging in intelligent risk analysis which is consistent with American law and tradition, with sanity, and with national survival. We aren’t doing anything that shames us.
That we shouldn’t be embarrassed hasn’t stopped the Left, of course, I keep seeing posts and articles by or about this good Muslim or that group of good Syrian Muslims. Today’s example, from the WaPo, is about Syrian refugees in England who helped out when floods hit:
According to reports in the Guardian newspaper and elsewhere, a group of Syrian refugees has been working in Littleborough, Greater Manchester, shoveling sand into sandbags to help avert more flooding.
“We saw the pictures on TV and wanted to help,” Yasser al-Jassem, a 35-year-old teacher, told the Guardian, adding that the people of Greater Manchester had been good to him and others in his group and that they wanted to help in response.
Good for those guys! That’s precisely what people who have been given refuge in another land should be doing. I wish all of them were moved by that spirit of gratitude. I’d love to see thousands of stories precisely like that one.
In addition to the “watch these Muslims being good citizens” stories, I also keep seeing posts and articles in which Muslims state “I, personally, am a good person, so you need to get off my back and start using my example as a reason to stop judging all Muslims as potential terrorists.” The most recent example of that phenomenon, again from the WaPo, was the stridently self-righteous post from Rana Elmir, the deputy director of the Michigan chapter of the ACLU, saying that she is not her Muslim brother’s keeper:
Often, when a movie or a novel wants to use a truly vapid slogan for a pretend political campaign, the writers will fall back on the phrase “Now more than ever.” It’s so broad and vague as to be utterly meaningless. Yet it’s precisely what popped into my mind today when I thought about the pressing need for educating the public, both young and old, about the wonders of the United States Constitution.
The first thing that reminded me how important our Constitution is came from a New York Times video about the mob slaughter of a 27-year-old Afghani woman named Farkhunda Malikzada. Despite surprisingly brave police efforts, a howling mob beat Farkhunda to death for burning a Koran and then, in a bow to the modern world in which these savages live, used smart phones to video the attack:
Afghanistan, a Muslim country, has nothing close to our Constitution. There is no freedom of speech (which our Supreme Court long ago said included burning symbolically significant items, provided the burner isn’t destroying someone else’s property); no freedom of religion (in Islamic countries, apostasy means death and members of other faiths are killed, enslaved, exiled, or subject to second class treatment); and no due process. Mobs exist everywhere, of course, but the ethos in America is (or used to be) freedom of speech and religion, as well as due process.
If you have time today to read only one thing, you must read Kevin Williamson’s The Democrats’ Theme for 2016 Is Totalitarianism. I’ll get you started, and then you have to click on the link to finish:
At the beginning of December, Rolling Stone writer Jeff Goodell asked Secretary of State John Kerry whether Charles and David Koch, two libertarian political activists, should be considered — his remarkable words — “an enemy of the state.” He posed the same question about Exxon, and John Kerry, who could have been president of these United States, said that he looked forward to the seizure of Exxon’s assets for the crime of “proselytizing” impermissibly about the question of global warming.
An enemy of the state? That’s the Democrats’ theme for the New Year: totalitarianism.
Donald Trump may talk like a brownshirt, but the Democrats mean business. For those of you keeping track, the Democrats and their allies on the left have now: voted in the Senate to repeal the First Amendment, proposed imprisoning people for holding the wrong views on global warming, sought to prohibit the showing of a film critical of Hillary Rodham Clinton, proposed banning politically unpopular academic research, demanded that funding politically unpopular organizations and causes be made a crime and that the RICO organized-crime statute be used as a weapon against targeted political groups. They have filed felony charges against a Republican governor for vetoing a piece of legislation, engaged in naked political persecutions of members of Congress, and used the IRS and the ATF as weapons against political critics.
On the college campuses, they shout down unpopular ideas or simply forbid nonconforming views from being heard there in the first place. They have declared academic freedom an “outdated concept” and have gone the full Orwell, declaring that freedom is oppressive and that they should not be expected to tolerate ideas that they do not share. They are demanding mandatory ideological indoctrination sessions for nonconforming students. They have violently assaulted students studying in libraries and assaulted student journalists documenting their activities. They have staged dozens of phony hate crimes and sexual assaults as a pretext for persecuting unpopular organizations and people.
What they cannot achieve by legislation or litigation, they seek to achieve by simple violence, left-wing activists having smashed, looted, and burned portions of Ferguson, Mo., and Baltimore, where Koreans and other Asian minorities were specifically targeted. As on college campuses, they have made a point of assaulting journalists documenting their violence. They have rioted in Philadelphia and in other cities.
They are not backing away from that. Hillary Rodham Clinton may do her vice-principal shtick, but Bernie Sanders is calling for “revolution,” and by “revolution” he means crushing the economic and political rights of opponents in order to prevent them from having a say in political debate. Sounding oddly like Henry Ford, he seethes as he talks about scheming foreigners and international bankers working nefariously behind the scenes to undermine American interests, while his admirers brandish such traditional symbols of totalitarianism as the hammer-and-sickle flag.
Read the rest here.