The House’s refusal to fund Obamacare is entirely constitutional — and James Madison personally approves this message

lincoln-memorial

My stock response to all those liberal Facebook friends who have insisted that the House is “unconstitutionally” holding Obamacare hostage, is that the Founders named it the “House of Representatives” and gave it the power of the purse for a reason.

The House’s members serve for much shorter terms than Supreme Court justices (life terms), executives (minimum 4 year terms) and Senators (minimum 6 year terms).  This means that, if people are not pleased with the decisions made by those more entrenched bodies, they can make their displeasure known through the House, where new representatives can be rotated in every two years.

Making their displeasure known is precisely what the People did in 2010 and again in 2012, when they “shellacked” the House Democrats, which was a clear rebuff to Obama and his “care.”  (It’s also entirely possible that Obama would also have been shellacked right out of office but for the IRS’s unconstitutional, illegal, unconscionable interference with free speech.)

In addition to the 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.

The Founders deliberately gave the power of the purse to the federal branch most closely tied to American citizens, both in numbers and responsiveness:  The House is meant to use that power to put the brakes on schemes cooked up by members of the other branches of government who are elected or appointed in numbers unrelated to the American population, and who have job security unrelated, or less related, to their immediate conduct.  If the Founders were alive today, they’d say the roadblock inherent in the power of the purse is a feature, not a bug — and a pretty damned important feature too.

The above response came off the top of my head.  If I had studied the Federalist papers recently, however, I could simply have quoted James Madison. one of the Constitution’s primary architects, writing in Federalist No. 58 (and a groveling h/t to Tom Elias, of The New Editor, for this brilliant find):

The House of Representatives cannot only refuse, but they alone can propose, the supplies requisite for the support of government. They, in a word, hold the purse that powerful instrument by which we behold, in the history of the British Constitution, an infant and humble representation of the people gradually enlarging the sphere of its activity and importance, and finally reducing, as far as it seems to have wished, all the overgrown prerogatives of the other branches of the government. This power over the purse may, in fact, be regarded as the most complete and effectual weapon with which any constitution can arm the immediate representatives of the people, for obtaining a redress of every grievance, and for carrying into effect every just and salutary measure.  (Emphasis added.)

What the House is doing is entirely constitutional, and we conservatives should be doing our best to trumpet that fact.  Moreover, given the federal takeover of the Lincoln Memorial, we should remind everyone that we live in a nation guaranteed “government of the people, by the people, for the people.”  Unlike a monarchy, the federal government doesn’t own the properties it is denying us.  Instead, we own the federal government.  The government is merely a caretaker, and a pretty damn surly, ineffectual, greedy, and tyrannical one at that.

The awesome majesty of the state’s power — thoughts for Constitution Day

Nobody believes more strongly in defense attorneys than Progressives.  This is ironic, because the whole point of defense counsel is to be a bulwark against Big Government.  I was reminded of this fact when one of my children, out of the blue, wondered how defense attorneys could bear to represent their clients . . . the really bad ones, she hastened to add.

What an excellent question and one, I think, that goes to the heart of a citizen’s relationship to the state.

It all starts with the Fifth and Sixth Amendments to the Bill of Rights:

Fifth:  No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation

Sixth:  In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defence.  (Emphasis added.)

These rights are inherent in each citizen.  Being Mirandized doesn’t create the rights; it simply reminds citizens in stressful situations that they have these rights.  Each of these rights has as its purpose protecting the citizen against the awesome majesty and power of the state.  With the Constitution in place, gone are the days of trials by fire or drowning; lengthy imprisonments before a trial; repeated prosecutions; and coerced testimony.  No matter what information we have about a criminal defendant’s conduct outside of the courtroom — no matter that a hundred people saw him stab the knife into someone’s heart — when he stands before the court, the law presumes him innocent and therefore entitled to every right that goes with that innocence.

In this context, a criminal defense attorney stands as the knowledgeable friend of an innocent man who would otherwise have to face alone everything that the state can bring to bear against him: its coercive power against witnesses; its wealth; its resources; its ownership of the judicial system; its familiarity with rules, law, and procedure; and, most importantly, its capacity to imprison or even to kill the person who stands before it.  A criminal court is Big Government made personal.  A criminal defense attorney is an honorable man (or woman) who stands as a necessary bulwark against potential tyranny.  The attorney represents not only his (or her) client, but all citizens.

Progressives are rightfully fanatic about making sure that an accused person has counsel.  At my law school, it was always the left of Left students who went on to become public defenders.  Most of them burned out, of course, because absent the presumptive assumption of innocence, the people defense counsel work with are for the most part not very savory.  Sure, there are the fools, the innocents, the dupes, the careless ones, the one-time, unlucky DUIs, and the victims, but for the most part, criminal defense work entails representing criminals.

Given their fealty to the notion that the government is an extremely dangerous entity, the power of which must always be constrained, it’s quite peculiar that Progressives are so enamored of Big Government.  One would think that they, more than others who don’t routinely think about our justice system, recognize how monumental government is and how dangerous it can be without our zealously reminding it of its limits.

“Extremism” when it comes to late term abortion and guns

Kirsten Powers, one of Fox News’ resident Democrats, is the person who forced the Kermit Gosnell mass murder onto the front page.  Before Powers shamed the media into pretending, if only for a few days, that the trial of one the most prolific serial killers in American history actually mattered, the media had managed to ignore almost entirely Kermit Gosnell’s trial.  With Powers’ “J’Accuse” moment on USA Today, however, the media was forced to acknowledge the trial, if only momentarily, and to engage in a cursory analysis of its motives.  The analysis was pathetic, but they did it.  (E.g., “We’ve decided that we didn’t ignore the trial because it was about an abortionist; we ignored it because our incredibly savvy business sense, which has seen most liberal print media outlets totter to the edge of the grave, told us that there was no money in this one.”)

Powers has written another indictment of the Left’s fanatic support for abortion.  This time, her focus is on the pathological denial that sees the Left pretend that a fully matured fetus is just a clump of cells:

What we need to learn from the Gosnell case is that late-term abortion is infanticide. Legal infanticide. That so many people in the media seem untroubled by the idea that 12 inches in one direction is a “private medical decision” and 12 inches in the other direction causes people to react in horror, should be troubling. Indeed, Gosnell’s defense attorney Jack J. McMahon has relied on the argument that Gosnell killed the babies prior to delivering them, therefore he is not guilty of murder. His exact words were: “Every one of those babies died in utero.”

[snip]

We live in a country where if a six-months-pregnant woman started downing shots of vodka in a bar or lit up a cigarette, people might want her arrested. But that same woman could walk into an abortion clinic, no questions asked, and be injected with a drug that would stop her baby’s heart.

I’ll put my cards on the table: I think life begins at conception and would love to live in a world where no women ever felt she needed to get an abortion. However, I know enough people who are pro-abortion rights—indeed, I was one of them for most of my life—to know that reasonable and sincere people can disagree about when meaningful life begins. They also can disagree about how to weigh that moral uncertainty against a woman’s right to control her body—and her own life. I have only ever voted for Democrats, so overturning Roe v. Wade is not one of my priorities. I never want to return to the days of gruesome back-alley abortions.

But medical advances since Roe v. Wade have made it clear to me that late-term abortion is not a moral gray area, and we need to stop pretending it is. No six-months-pregnant woman is picking out names for her “fetus.” It’s a baby. Let’s stop playing Orwellian word games. We are talking about human beings here.

Powers is absolutely right.  I’m pleased and proud to say that, even in my most fiercely pro-Choice days, I wouldn’t have countenanced the abortion of a viable infant.  Nevertheless, I do have to part ways with the core premise in Powers’ article, which is that NARAL and the NRA are both equally extreme, and therefore both equally open to being castigated and disregarded

Speaking as a liberal who endorses more government regulation of practically everything—banks, water, air, food, oil drilling, animal safety—I am eternally perplexed by the fury the abortion rights contingent displays at the suggestion that the government might have a serious role to play in the issue of abortion, especially later-term abortion. More and more, the abortion rights community has become the NRA of the left: unleashing their armies of supporters and lobbyists in opposition to regulations or restrictions that the majority of Americans support. In the same way the NRA believes background checks will lead to the government busting down your door to confiscate your guns, the abortion rights movement conjures a straight line from parental consent to a complete ban on abortion.

Powers is wrong to claim that the two institutions are alike and that both are equally extreme.  They’re not the same and for one very specific reason:  the Constitution.

NARAL is predicated upon a Supreme Court case that found an emanation of a penumbra of an assumed, but never explicitly named, constitutional right to privacy and, from that, created an unfettered right to abort a fetus during its first trimester.  Somehow that limited right morphed into an equally unfettered right to abort a fetus, not just in the first trimester, but right up to, including, and after its birth.  Even the authors of Roe v. Wade would concede that those on the Left who defend late term or post-birth abortions have hit a high note on the extremist scale.  Extremism in defense of an illusory right premised on a magical interpretation of a clearly written historic contract between the people and their federal government is . . . well, extremely extreme.

But about the NRA. . . .  Where does it get the idea that the government should absolutely and completely stay away from law-abiding citizens’ guns?  Are those gun rights nuts also relying on an emanation of a penumbra of an unstated right?  In a word, no.  Instead, the NRA is ensuring that the government does not overreach its explicitly described limitation of power under the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution:

A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.

This is not even Goldwater’s “extremism in defense of liberty is no vice.”  There is no extremism here because the NRA, contrary to Progressives’ frequent attacks, is not pushing any boundaries.

Which brings me to one of the best pro-Second Amendment articles I’ve seen.  Iowa State University has a newspaper called the Iowa State Daily.  Until about yesterday, one of its writers was a guy named Barry Snell.  At some point before he attended the university, Barry Snell wore a uniform (police?  military?  He doesn’t say).  Attending an American university and writing for a student newspaper exposed Snell to a lot of anti-gun people.  He doesn’t shy away from the fact that many of them are extremely nice people.  (I know that to be the case when it comes to all the anti-gun people I know.  They’re not professional Leftists.  They’re just myopic.)  Snell’s word for these people, these nice Leftists who turn into slavering gun grabbers whenever a shooting occurs is that they’re “uninformed” — and how.

On his last day as a writer for the Iowa State Daily, Snell un-pented all the pent up irritation, frustration, and anger he has when it comes to those liberals who feel it is their obligation to tar all gun owners as crazy, baby-killing lunatics.  Admirably, Snell’s decency and intellect are such that, even when he let ‘er rip, he stuck to his facts and avoid ad hominem attacks.  Before I start discussing some of the points that specifically interested me in his article, I urge you to read it and share it, through any social media you have (email, Facebook, Twitter, a blog, etc.).  It’s that good.

What Snell does so well is to is explain why NRA types are so defensive when it comes to their Second Amendment rights.  They’ve learned over the years not to trust the Left, which speaks with forked tongue and, no matter what it says, wants to grab guns.  He makes more good arguments than I can count, so let me just give you a taste, and then hone in on my abortion point:

Gun people don’t trust anti-gun people because anti-gunners always talk about 90 percent of Americans supporting this gun control measure, or 65 percent supporting that one, as if a majority opinion is what truly matters in America. We don’t trust anti-gun people because you think America is a democracy, when it’s actually a constitutional federal republic. In the American system, the rights of a single individual are what matters and are what our system is designed to protect. The emotional mob does not rule in America.

Gun people don’t trust anti-gun people because they keep saying they “respect the Second Amendment” and go on about how they respect the hunting traditions of America. We don’t trust you because you have to be a complete idiot to think the Second Amendment is about hunting. I wish people weren’t so stupid that I have to say this: The Second Amendment is about checking government tyranny. Period. End of story. The founders probably couldn’t have cared less about hunting since, you know, they just got done with that little tiff with England called the Revolutionary War right before they wrote that “little book” called the Constitution.

Gun people don’t trust anti-gun people because they lie to us. President Obama directly says he won’t tamper with guns or the Second Amendment, then turns around and pushes Congress to do just that. We don’t trust anti-gunners because they appoint one of the most lying and rabidly (and moronically) anti-gun people in America, Vice President Biden, to head up a “task force” to “solve” the so-called “gun problem,” who in turn talks with anti-gun special interest groups instead of us to complete his task.

Snell neatly addresses the way the abortion makes the First Amendment sacrosanct, even while relegating the Second Amendment to the inner circle of Hell:

Gun people don’t trust anti-gun people because they look down on us for defending the Second Amendment as vigorously as they defend the First Amendment — a fight we too would stand side-by-side with them on otherwise. We don’t trust anti-gunners because someone defending the First Amendment is considered a hero, but a someone defending the Second Amendment is figured down with murderers and other lowlifes. Where the First Amendment has its very own day and week, both near-holy national celebrations beyond reproach, anti-gunners would use the First Amendment to ridicule any equivalent event for the Second Amendment, like they did for a recent local attempt at the University of Iowa.

Nicely, for purposes of my post here, Snell actually touches on the abortion question.  He doesn’t do so in a constitutional way, but I’m still throwing it in here, just because he makes such a good point, and manages to show how fundamentally flawed the Leftist position is:

Gun people don’t trust anti-gun people because when it comes to their “We need gun control to save the children” argument, many of us can’t understand how an anti-gun liberal can simultaneously be in favor of abortion. Because you know, a ban on abortion would save a child every single time. I’m personally not rabidly against abortion, but the discongruence makes less sense still when the reason abortions are legal is to protect a woman’s individual rights. That’s great, but does the individual rights argument sound familiar? Anti-gunners think that for some bizarre reason, the founding fathers happened to stick a collective right smack dab at the top of a list of individual rights, though. Yeah, because that makes sense.

Hmmm.  I got a little carried away and off-topic there, and ended up quoting a lot of choice paragraphs that don’t actually tie into the NARAL versus NRA argument.  They’re such good paragraphs, though, that I’m not going to delete them.  I’m just going to drag this post back to my original point, which is that, while Powers is right about late-term abortion, she’s wrong to compare NARAL and the NRA.

Where Powers’ analogy fails is that she believes that the two organizations — NARAL and the NRA — are comparable because both are single issue organizations and both have members who have staked out bottom line positions for their belief.  This is a false comparison, because it mistakes form for substance.  That is, it implies that, because they have a superficial similarity, their beliefs are equal — equal in morality, equal in logic, and equal in law.  They are not.  And this is where I can circle back to Snell.

My takeaway from Snell’s article is that there is no extremism in the defense of the Second Amendment.  It is every bit as important an inherent right as those jumbled almost carelessly together in the First Amendment.  When we defend it against anti-gun people, our actions aren’t motivated by our extremism, but by theirs.  We hew to the Constitution.  They hew to a false understanding of our republican form of government, dishonest statistics, political lies, emotional hysteria, fallout from their own bad policies, etc.  Gun rights advocates, unlike NARAL supporters are not denying reality, and they are not making up imaginary rights.

So while I applaud Powers’ for having the courage to take her Progressive brethren to task for their immoral position when it comes to late term abortion, I can’t give her a pass for pretending that abortion rights and gun rights are the same.  They’re not, and vigilance in defending against unconstitutional, illogical, and immoral attacks against the Second Amendment is not the same as extremism in defense of a made-up right that has been stretched and twisted to give legal cover to something that is, under any interpretation of law, morality, and biology, cold-blooded murder.

Hat tip:  Pierre LeGrand

The fundamental unconstitutionalism of Obama’s presidency

Much has been made of Obama’s statement that the gun rights crowd should stop worrying, because Obama contends that he is “constrained” by the system the Founders put in place.  If you don’t read his actual words with great care, it sounds as if he’s saying he’s contractually constrained — or, to put it in political language, he’s constitutionally constrained.  Without actually listening to him, we assume he’s saying, “Stop worrying, because even I understand that the Constitution stops me from grabbing your guns.”

The reason that there’s been such an uproar, though, is because that’s not what he’s saying.  Here’s the entire statement:

You hear some of these quotes, ‘I need a gun to protect myself from the government.’ ‘We can’t do background checks because the government is going to come take my guns away.’  Well, the government is us. These officials are elected by you. They are elected by you. I am elected by you. I am constrained, as they are constrained, by a system that our Founders put in place. It’s a government of and by and for the people.

That short paragraph breaks down into three distinct thoughts:

Thought one:  Crazy gun rights nuts fear the government.

Thought two:  People elect their government.

Thought three:  Those who are elected “are constrained by a system that our Founders put into place.”

Obama’s nasty language (and it is nasty, to the extent it calls at least 50% of Americans paranoid and ill-informed) says two things that are wrong.

The first wrong thing Obama’s implication, in thoughts two and three, that politicians are charged with taking care of our Constitutional rights.  That’s bass ackwards.  We are charged with taking care of our Constitutional rights — they’re natural rights, inherent in us, and the Second Amendment exists to make sure that if too many elected officials forget that those are natural rights, and begin to think they’re merely legislative rules that legislators can change, we can rid our country of these politicians’ tyranny.

The second wrong thing, which is more subtle, is that Obama is implying in thoughts two and three that, if a sufficient number of Americans elect anti-gun politicians, that majority overrides the constitution.  What he says in those last five sentences (“the government is us,” “you elect yourselves,” “the election is for you”) is that, if a majority of people elect politicians who support an unconstitutional idea, those politicians get to move forward enacting that idea irrespective of the Constitution.  That is a staggering misreading of the Constitution and the Gettysburg Address.

All of which gets me back to gay marriage and abortion, not because I’m specifically concerned with gay marriage and abortion, but because I’m concerned about the Constitutional implications when the Left takes on gay marriage and abortion.  First, neither is in the Constitution.  In 1973, Supreme Court justices used an emanation of a penumbra based upon an inference to find a “constitutional right to abortion” in the first trimester, with that individual woman’s right decreasing steadily until the third trimester, when the viable fetus became the state’s responsibility.

Since 1973, that trimester by trimester calculation has been abandoned so completely that a Planned Parenthood representative felt comfortable telling the Florida legislature that it was okay to “continue” an abortion if the baby manages to emerge alive.  In some places, that’s called murder.  Indeed, that’s why Kermit Gosnell is being tried for murder.  In Planned Parenthood’s world, however, his work was constitutionally legitimate.

As for gay marriage, it’s being cast as an inchoate civil right because no one can contend the Founders thought about it.  They certainly knew about abortion, although they made no mention of it, but they definitely didn’t consider the possibility of gay marriage.

In the Founders’ time, marriage was thought to be only one possible thing:  the joining of man and woman.  If the Constitution had made mention of it (which it didn’t), that it is what it would have meant.  The Left, though, is now recasting marriage as the uniting of two people who love each other.  The Founders would have been surprised.  In those days, after all, marriage was still very much a business proposition, one that gave a woman children and the assurance of care for those children, and one that gave a man the right to his wife’s financial estate, and the promise of progeny to inherit that combined estate.  If a marriage included love, such as John and Abigail Adams had, or George and Martha Washington enjoyed, that was a pleasant byproduct of a sexual and economic transaction sanctified by religion and sanctioned by the state.

The Obama administration has already used ObamaCare as a bludgeon by which to force conservative religious organizations to sponsor abortion. Before, those organizations preached against it; now, they’re being forced to pay for it.

What happened with abortion matters because the same thing is happening with gay marriage.  During the gay marriage debate’s first iteration, when California’s Prop. 8 was on the ballot, and before ObamaCare, we were promised that there was no way that the State could force religious institutions to perform gay marriages.  “After all,” said Prop. 8 opponents airily, “the state doesn’t force churches to perform abortions.”  Well, in Obama world — secure in his sufficient majority — the State does force churches to perform abortions.

The same will be true with gay marriage.  People dismiss the fact that religious institutions in other countries have been forced to perform gay marriages, or been punished for not performing gay marriages. Those countries, they say, don’t have a constitution.  We know, though, that this constitutional argument is meaningless in Obama’s America.  Last year, his administration made clear that it is unconstrained by Constitutional concerns.  And last week, Obama explained why:  if he feels he has the power, that power overrides the constitution.

At least now we know where we stand.

The question is whether, by 2014, we can convince a majority of American voters that their constitutional rights are at risk and that, even if they agree with the Obama plans so far (abortion, gay marriage, gun control), they may not like the next plans he has lined up down the road.  If I were Obama, I’d go after the 4th and 5th Amendments next.  After getting Americans to understand this comes the harder task:  keeping their focus all the way through 2016.

The problem when it comes to educating Americans is that these ideas are so horribly complex.  They don’t reduce to a poster.  It’s not going to resonate with most Americans to see a poster of a sad priest being forced to perform a gay marriage ceremony.  They’ll probably just say that the priest deserves to suffer because his organization once turned a blind eye to pedophiles.  (Under that standard, of course, the University of Pennsylvania should be razed and the earth sown with salt.)

When the liberals in my world catch hold of the fact that I don’t support gay marriage, they attack me as a homophobe.  I’m really not.  What I am is someone deeply concerned by the Constitutional implications of a mad rush to create implicit constitutional rights where none existed before, and then to use those inferred rights to destroy explicit ones.  They should be just as concerned.  If they want gay marriage as a Constitutional right, they should amend the Constitution, rather than trying to destroy it.  For all they know, they may be the next in line when the Obama state turns its destructive beam on yet another constitutional right.

First they came for the communists,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a communist.

Then they came for the socialists,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a socialist.

Then they came for the trade unionists,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a trade unionist.

Then they came for me,
and there was no one left to speak for me.

Ted Cruz’s question to Dianne Feinstein regarding the constitutionality of her gun law should be required reading for conservatives

Ted Cruz

Every day, I am more impressed with Ted Cruz.  He’s smart, he’s courageous, he’s knowledgeable, and he’s deeply loyal to the Constitution.  I understand that he went to Harvard Law School, rather than my alma mater, The University of Texas School of Law in Austin, but I can forgive him that failing because he’s so damn smart and intellectually brave.

Cruz couldn’t have asked better questions yesterday in the Senate Judiciary Committee regarding Dianne Feinstein’s proposed gun control bill.  You’ve already heard those questions.  DiFi’s huffy, offended response was the only one available to her, because he’d shut the door on her intellectually.  Thus, all she could say was “Who do you think you’re talking to, little boy?  I was writing unconstitutional laws before you were born!”  That was fun.

(Let me be catty for a minute. DiFi says she’s not a sixth grader. Hoo-boy, is that obvious! She looks like a mummy. She was once a very attractive younger woman, but she’s morphed into a creepily scary old woman. Okay, I needed to get that out of my system.)

Typically, though, it was Rush Limbaugh who summed up most perfectly what Ted asked, what it meant, and why DiFI had just enough firing brain cells to realize what a devastating attack Cruz had leveled at her bill.  Here’s what Rush had to say this morning, which started with him playing a tape of Cruz’s brilliant question:

CRUZ: The question that I would pose to the senior senator from California is: Would she deem it consistent with the Bill of Rights for Congress to engage in the same endeavor that we are contemplating doing with the Second Amendment in the context of the First or Fourth Amendment? Namely, would she consider it constitutional for Congress to specify that the First Amendment shall apply only to the following books and shall not apply to the books that Congress has deemed outside the protection of the Bill of Rights? Likewise, would she think that the Fourth Amendment’s protection against searches and seizures could properly apply only to the following specified individuals and not to the individuals that Congress has deemed outside the protection of the Bill of Rights?

RUSH: Are you applauding, folks?

Are you standing up and cheering here?

This is just not done! These people are never called on this. Here’s Dianne Feinstein with her list of approved guns. Dianne Feinstein, California senator, former mayor of San Francisco. Okay, fine. Great resume. You and you alone are gonna determine what kind of guns we can have all? So Cruz said, “Well, are you going to determine what books we can all read? Are you gonna determine what words can’t be said and what words can?” and liberals are not used to this. This is effrontery. This is lecturing. This is disrespect, as far as the left is concerned.

Dianne Feinstein was not happy with this, and she told Cruz not to lecture her.</blockquote>

It’s hard to believe that Cruz and Obama attended the same law school.  Cruz actually learned something.  Obama was probably too busy organizing communities and hobnobbing with Ayers & Co. to pay attention in class.  Or, given Cruz’s accurate statement about the Leftists’ in charge of the Harvard Law School classrooms, may Obama was paying too much attention.  Either way, one student graduated knowing American law, while the other student graduated knowing Karl Marx.

Random thoughts about the Declaration of Independence, the Bill of Rights, Civil Rights, and ObamaCare

Fellow Weasel Watcher Greg, at Rhymes with Right, came up with a good poster likening every woman’s right to have a gun to a black woman’s right to sit anywhere she wants in the bus.  That poster, combined with a discussion I had with some young ‘uns about the Bill of Rights got me thinking about the expression “Civil Rights,” which is something the Left bandies about freely.

Lately, the Left has taken to calling government control of American health care a Civil Right. We all know that’s wrong, but it’s worth understanding precisely why it’s wrong.  I’m still trying to organize my thoughts here, so please bear with me as a waffle my way through this.

United States Declaration of Independence

The beginning of any discussion of civil rights must be the Declaration of Independence:

We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

This single sentence is the “whereas” the precedes the Constitution.  Without this acknowledgement of God-given human status and dignity, the explicitly listed Rights in the Bill of Rights are meaningless.  These unalienable rights are the abstract predicates that justify a citizen’s more concrete “right” to have certain areas of functioning upon which the government cannot impinge.  Unless we acknowledge that humans — all humans — are equal and deserving of Life, Liberty, and the ability to make their way in the world, all the other bulwarks against government overreach are meaningless.

Second Amendment

Which gets us to the Bill of Rights.  What exactly is it?  I mean, we all know what’s in it, but I don’t think most people stop and think about what it is.

The Constitution is a contract between the People (acting through their state-elected representatives) and the government.  Its sole purpose is to describe what form the federal government will take.  It’s a rather dull document that’s given over to defining the executive branch, the legislative branch, and the judicial branch, and then apportioning power and responsibilities between the three of them.

The main body of the Constitution has nothing to do with the People, and everything to do with defining a functioning government.  Thus, while it seeks to make sure that the executive can’t overwhelm the legislature or that the courts can’t overwhelm the executive, there’s nothing in it about whether the government as a whole can overwhelm the citizens under its rule.

What the Founders realized in the wake of the Constitution’s ratification is that creating a government is not the same as protecting the People’s declared rights under that government.  “Rights” aren’t things that the government gives people and that it can take away from people.  Things that the government can “giveth and taketh away” are merely privileges.  Rights, on the other hand, belong to the People outside of the government.  Rights have nothing to do with government control over people, and everything to do with the People’s right to control government.  They preexist the government and will continue to exist long after the government is gone.  Rights are independent of government.

That rights are independent of government does not mean that the government cannot use its aggregated power to destroy those rights.  That they are destructible, despite being unalienable, is what concerned the Founding generation and what led them to create the Bill of Rights.

The first ten amendments to the Constitution recognize that the rights described are fundamental rights that transcend government, but that a tyrannical government can nevertheless destroy these fundamental rights.  Rather than assuming that a beneficent government will automatically protect these rights, the Founders erred on the side of caution and warned the government that it had (and has) no power to touch rights that exist in the People, irrespective of the government.

Combined, that extraordinary sentence in the Declaration of Independence and of the first ten amendments to the Constitution create a bright line of human inviolability into which government cannot intrude.  For example, from the Declaration of Independence, we have a controlling principle that explains why, even though sitting in the front of the bus isn’t set out explicitly or even implicitly in the Bill of Rights, it is still a fundamental Right that is a necessary predicate to the Bill of Rights.  Rights must be applied equally to all humankind, because humankind is created equally.

Freedom to speak, worship, and assemble are unalienable rights.  The right to be armed, for whatever the heck reason you want, is an unalienable right.  The right to have your home free from American troops in an unalienable right.  The right to be protected from torture and coercion aimed at forcing you to convict yourself out of your own mouth is an unalienable right.  The state has the right to execute you if a properly constituted trial finds you guilty of a capital crime, but you have the right to an execution that is neither cruel (death by torture) nor unusual (death by bizarre forms of torture).  There are other unalienable rights.

Let me say again what these rights are:  They are a bright line of human inviolability and power that the government, despite its concentrated strength (police forces, armies, taxing powers, etc.) cannot attack or abridge.

Once one understands the difference between Rights (which are unalienable) and privileges (which depend on the government we elect) we can see why it’s so ridiculous when the Left describes health care as a “civil right.”  It’s not.  True civil rights recognize that citizens and the government are adversaries:  the government constantly attempts to impose itself on the citizens, and the citizens have as their bulwark the Declaration and the Bill of Rights to protect them from this government overreach.  Good health is not a matter of government overreach — except, of course, when the government uses health as a means of undermining the Bill of Rights.

This then, is the problem with ObamaCare: Rather than upholding a civil right, it is created to undermine people’s civil rights.  Its death panels contravene the unalienable right to Life.  Its abortion and contraception mandates directly impinge upon the unalienable right to freedom of worship.  It’s proposed requirements that doctors ask prying questions about guns infringes upon the unalienable right to keep and bear arms.  And Justice Roberts’ decision to the contract, its penalties for inaction are a direct infringement to people’s liberty.

As I said, this is a work in progress, so I don’t have a rousing or neat conclusion.  I’m not even sure what to do with these thoughts, but I did want to get them down while they were still swirling in my head.  Please feel free to add to or refine upon what I’ve written.

Found it on Facebook: Analogizing guns and cars

Michael Ramirez pithily sums up all the deliberate or accidental hazards in American life that exceed the risks of rifle (“automatic” or otherwise) violence:

Michael Ramirez on gun violence

As you can see, cars are infinitely more deadly to Americans than are the rifles that are getting Progressives so excited. Those who wish to control guns think they’ve come up with the perfect counterargument to people who point out that we should do something about cars before we do something about guns:

Comparing guns and cars

The above poster is what happens after two generations of public school civics classes that focus obsessively on PC rights, while ignoring incidentals such as the Constitution.  Unlike guns, cars are not protected by the Constitution nor do they fall within the federal government’s purview.  The right to drive is purely a state’s rights issue, and the 10th Amendment therefore gives the individual states a fair amount of leeway.  To the extent cars travel on roads that fall within the Interstate Commerce clause, the federal government has some say too (e.g., speed limits), but cars are no more constitutionally protected than is swimming or bike riding.

Guns, however, are so important that they have their own Amendment.  Think about that for a minute.  With one other exception — which happens to be related to an armed citizenry — all of the other Amendments that make up the Bill of Rights are compound amendments, focusing on myriad issues that fall under a single subject line.  For example, free speech, a free press, and religion that is not subject to government interference, although all staggeringly important, are jumbled together in the 1st Amendment.  The Fifth Amendment has a laundry list of protections a citizen has when the state prosecutes him.

But there are two substantive amendments, both of which involve an individual’s rights against a state’s standing army, that are short and sweet:

Amendment II

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

Amendment III

No Soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the Owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law.

To be honest, I don’t see anything about cars anywhere in the Bill of Rights or, indeed, in any other section of the Constitution.

Here’s the really embarrassing thing about that poster likening driver control to gun control — I got it off the Facebook wall of a lawyer.  Tsk, tsk, tsk.

Demolishing one of the more ridiculous arguments regarding the Second Amendment

My fellow Watcher’s Council member, Greg, who blogs at Rhymes with Right, has put together the ultimate smack-down for those (especially those journalists) who argue that the Second Amendment extends only to muskets and other weapons in use when Congress enacted the Bill of Rights:

The First and Second amendments in context

Carrying this irrefutable logic over to the First Amendment means that the modern media has utterly forfeited its Freedom of Press protections. Unless those Democrat cheerleaders are willing to go back to hand-operated printing presses, they are fair game for government censorship and journalist imprisonment.

Please spread this poster around to those who need a few more weapons in their rhetorical arsenal supporting the Second Amendment.

Obama’s dangerous expansion of the use of executive orders

Years ago, during the Bush administration, Terry Gross, of NPR’s Fresh Air, interviewed a writer who was in an absolutely tizzy about Bush’s use of executive orders.  Sadly, for the life of me, I can’t find that interview.  What I also can’t find is any evidence that this author has again gone onto Terry Gross’ show to complaint about Obama’s extraordinary use of executive orders, a use that overwhelms Bush’s small efforts in that area.  Obama has vastly enlarged the nature and number of those orders, so much so that he’s becoming his own little legislature.

Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ) has written a lucid, interesting article detailing everything that is wrong with Obama’s abuse of the executive order:

Let’s focus on the supposed authority of the President to simply enact laws by the stroke of his pen. Article I Section I of the Constitution vests all legislative powers in Congress. All.  None are given to the President or the Courts.  All government acts need to be evaluated on whether they are consistent with our Constitution.

The executive branch has the Constitutional responsibility to execute the laws passed by Congress. It is well accepted that an executive order is not legislation nor can it be. An executive order is a directive that implements laws passed by Congress. The Constitution provides that the president “take care that the laws be faithfully executed.”  Article II, Section 3, Clause 5. Thus, executive orders can only be used to carry out the will of Congress. If we in Congress have not established the policy or authorization by law, the President can’t do it unilaterally.

That’s pretty simple: Executive orders simply give the president the power to effectuate Congress’ legislation, not the authority to make his own. Nor can the president use executive orders to prevent legislation from going into effect (as Obama did with immigration without any opposition) or to circumvent the Constitution itself (as he apparently intends to do with guns).

I urge you to read the whole thing, and then send it along to people you know who intuitively understand that what Obama’s doing is unconstitutional, but who need more facts and argument for their intellectual armory.

A great two-fer on gun control

National Review Online is running hot today, because it’s got two great articles on gun control, both of which clearly express what I was trying to tell those Marin-ites around me who are absolutely certain that (a) gun control saves lives and (b) the Second Amendment is stupid or misunderstood.

Rich Lowry, armed with data, asks the gun control crowd questions about guns and public safety that they are going to be hard put to answer while still retaining their blinkered world view.

And Kevin Williamson explains that, Hell yes!, the Founders wanted paramilitary weapons.  As I tried to tell my friends, if you disagree with that little historical fact, your option is to amend, not ignore, the Constitution.

Sensible ideas for protecting our students *UPDATED*

Armed guard at school in Israel

Wayne LaPierre, the NRA’s executive VP, says that our violent culture is to blame for gun violence and that, as long as the culture is what it is, school children should have police protection.  Despite the fact that the majority of Americans agree with him, the drive-by media is excoriating as if he had just announced that he eats children for breakfast and urges us all to do the same.  Americans, who have been schooled out of rational thinking, will soon be referring to LaPierre in the appropriate pariah-like terms and, like the useful idiots they’ve been trained to be, mouth agreement with the same media that espouses values they reject.

Well, that’s all I have to say on the subject, because promised that I’d back off from the gun posts for a little while.  That doesn’t mean, though, that I can’t direct you to other people’s.  (Hey, I’m a lawyer.  I’m always looking for loopholes.)

First, Bookworm room friend Servo1969 put up a solid post at the Free Republic detailing practical ways to protect our children when they’re herded into public schools.  And honestly, I had no idea you could holster a gun in your bra.

Second, when it comes to the media’s performance in the wake of this tragedy, Mark Steyn says it best:

For those untouched by death this Christmas, someone else’s bewildering, shattering turn of fate ought to occasion a little modesty and circumspection. Instead, even by its usual execrable standards, the public discourse post-Newtown has been stupid and contemptible. The Left now seizes on every atrocity as a cudgel to beat whatever happens to be the Right’s current hottest brand: Tucson, Ariz., was something to do with Sarah Palin’s use of metaphor and other common literary devices — or “toxic rhetoric,” as Paul Krugman put it; Aurora, Colo., was something to do with the Tea Party, according to Brian Ross of ABC News. Since the humiliations of November, the Right no longer has any hot brands, so this time round the biens pensants have fallen back on “gun culture.” Dimwit hacks bandy terms like “assault weapon,” “assault rifle,” “semiautomatic,” and “automatic weapon” in endlessly interchangeable but ever more terrifying accumulations of high-tech state-of-the-art killing power.

Okay, I’m done for now. But please don’t tune out of this debate. Our fundamental liberties have never been more at risk. The Obama administration has now taken aim at both the First Amendment (religious freedom) and the Second Amendment (right to carry arms). With the media running interference for him, we have to be strong on facts and logic, and willing to take the fight to the Left, if we want our Constitution to be more than just a tattered piece of paper.

By the way, this bit of Israeli satire, especially the first minute or so, explains a lot.  An awful lot.

UPDATE:  One more.  You have to read this one, regarding the lunacy of the Left’s instantaneous negative reaction to LaPierre’s proposal.