The poster below isn’t just a good poster that makes an excellent point about the need to free the American economy from taxes and crony capitalism. What makes it really great is that a young relative of mine is the one who created it. I am so very lucky with my family:
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.
During his final (thank you God) State of the Union address, during his discussion about Islam, Obama had something to say about those who dare insult Islam:
In a swipe at some Republican presidential candidates, he warned against “voices urging us to fall back into tribes, to scapegoat fellow citizens who don’t look like us or pray like us or vote like we do or share the same background.”
Hinting at recent divisive comments by Republican presidential contender Donald Trump, who called to block Muslims from entering the US, Obama said Americans must “reject any politics that targets people because of race or religion.
“This isn’t a matter of political correctness. It’s a matter of understanding what makes us strong. The world respects us not just for our arsenal; it respects us for our diversity and our openness and the way we respect every faith…When politicians insult Muslims, when a mosque is vandalized, or a kid bullied, that doesn’t make us safer. That’s not telling it like it is. It’s just wrong. It diminishes us in the eyes of the world. It makes it harder to achieve our goals. And it betrays who we are as a country,” he said.
If I were cross-examining him, I’d ask something along these lines (and yes, I’ve been reading way too many transcripts lately):
Yesterday, I got around to reading Michael Crowley’s ‘We Caved’ : What happened when Barack Obama’s idealistic rhetoric collided with the cold realities of war and dictatorship in the Middle East and beyond. I recommend it. It’s a depressing look at what happens when the Progressive Ivory Tower meets the real world. Or if you don’t have time to read it, I can sum it up in one sentence: The Ivory Tower loses every time.
The article is filled with statements reflecting the fatal combination of cluelessness, hardcore ideology, and arrogance characterizing the Obama administration from its first day in office, and from the top man down. Even those who weren’t blinded by seeing their own glorious brilliance reflected back from the Ivory Tower’s windows were too damaged in other ways to change the horrible Obama dynamic.
The article begins with Obama’s many missteps in Egypt: First telling Mubarak, a long-time American and Israeli friend to leave because, despite his fair dealings abroad, he was a horrible man at home. Then inviting in Morsi, who was an enemy to America and Israel, and a horrible man at home. And finally trying to kneecap Sisi, despite the fact that he was once again a friend to America and Israel (although, as with all Egyptian leaders, a horrible man at home), as well as one of the few prominent Muslims to speak in favor of Islamic reform. Get a gander of this paragraph:
I don’t know how this happened, but in just three days of collecting articles on my cyber-spindle, I’ve managed to gather together almost thirty solid links I want to share with you. No time for chat, therefore; instead, I’ll plunge straight into my fascinating “world gone mad” edition:
If you only have time to read two things today
This is a meaty round-up. If you don’t have time to pursue all these links, I recommend two articles, both of which say things we already now, but each of which expresses those ideas with such clarity that you must read them:
1. Noemi Emery’s Obama’s Pass From The Press.
2. Kevin Williamson’s Mrs. Clinton is Professor Click.
The danger to America from Obama’s unconstitutional efforts to grab guns
Mike McDaniel didn’t need to hear Obama’s tearful press conference to know what was coming down the pike. Before Obama even opened his mouth, Mike spelled out the benefits of having a civilized and armed society, as well as the constitutional limitations Obama planned to (and did) blow past on his way to gun confiscation.
I’m shocked — shocked! — to learn that Obama lied about guns in America
Oh, and just about everything Obama said during the press conference was a lie.
Indeed, the very first lie was about those 30,000 deaths annually, with the implication that these are 30,000 annual gun homicides. There aren’t:
At a Jan. 4 press conference, President Barack Obama’s press secretary, Josh Earnest, exclaimed that “30,000 gun deaths in America” was enough evidence for the administration to push past Congress to establish laws to combat gun violence.
“Thirty thousand gun deaths in America every year. Twenty thousand children under the age of 18 have been killed by a firearm over the last decade. Hundreds of law enforcement officers that have been shot and killed over the last decade. And in the face of all these statistics, what’s Congress done?” Earnest asked.
However, Earnest’s efforts backfired when Emily Miller, a reporter for WTTG and author of the book “Emily Gets Her Gun,” noted that 20,000 of those deaths were due to suicide.
Obama also ignore yet another truth: guns don’t just take lives, they save lives. It’s really beyond me why the NRA and other special interest groups don’t track down every single person who lives today because a gun protected him (or her) and have that person do a commercial: “Hi, my name is ___________. I’m here today because a legal gun saved my life. [Tell story.]” Finish with glowing images of survivor surrounded by happy loved ones. These commercials should flood every type of media: Television, print, and internet.
Was Paul Ryan more Machiavellian than we realized?
Conservatives in America were deeply disappointed when Paul Ryan pushed through a budget that fulfilled every Democrat’s dream. What the heck was he thinking?
What he might have been thinking about was repealing Obamacare. According to Rick Moran, the recent vote to repeal Obamacare was only possible because of the Ryan budget:
The key to this vote was getting a budget bill passed. Once that happened, reconciliation came into play – the first time since Obamacare was passed and Republicans were in the majority. Of course, there aren’t the votes to override the president’s veto, but the path forward for the people to take back control of their health insurance options has been cleared.
The question remains whether, over the long run, the Ryan budget will do more good than harm.
Culture can be a source for good
In America, of late, popular culture hasn’t done much for the public weal. It’s therefore nice to be reminded that something as simple as a song can be a source of profound good — as was the case with a Yiddish song that powered Jewish partisans during WWII, and that has frequently been recorded since then.
Because Obama’s gun control edicts have had conservatives crying foul about Obama’s habit of ignoring Congress, a lot of Leftists are recycling this poster from November 2014:
The poster offends me. It’s not just out of date, it’s fraud by omission. I decided to correct these flaws:
I am not exaggerating when I say that I have been in love (in a political way) with Elbert Guillory ever since I first saw him back in mid-2013, when he was still ostensibly a Democrat. That feeling has never changed and, indeed, my deep and abiding respect for his intelligence, humanism, and patriotism ratcheted up again when I saw this video he made in the wake of Obama’s anti-Second Amendment Executive Orders:
This is yet another video it would do every single person in Marin good to listen to — but the reality is that I’m not a totalitarian, fascist Leftist, so I don’t go around forcing people to listen to things.
The Progressives on my Facebook feed are in a delighted tizzy. Obama actually cried — he cried! — when he spoke of his new unilaterally enacted gun control edicts limiting law-abiding Americans’ Second Amendment rights. I quote:
“Bravo, Mr. President! Thank you so much for your leadership, your clear-headed thinking and your enormous heart.”
“I agree completely with Obama – if it prevents even one death, that life is meaningful.”
“If you find yourself mocking anyone who cries over murdered children, it’s Jesus’s way of letting you know you’re a sociopath.”
This was a sentiment that several of my Progressive friends “liked.”
There are so many things wrong with these statements that it’s a little hard to know where to begin. What I won’t discuss here are the specifics of the Executive Order — which apparently range from stupid, to dangerous, to vaguely helpful, but always unconstitutional. You can find several intelligent discussions at conservative sites. A few suggestions are Ace of Spades, Larry Correia, Bearing Arms, and AWR Hawkins.
Instead, what I want to discuss are those tears. I believe they are theatrical, and it’s not just because it’s possible that Obama “onioned” his eyes as a way to make them happen. Obama doesn’t needs onions to shed fake tears as a way of cementing a con — and his gun control push is a con, one that he’s probably deliberately running on the American people, although it’s conceivable he’s running it on himself too.
My “Obama is crying hypocritical crocodile tears” argument is best made through the filter of a 2015 HBO documentary, Requiem for the Dead. Consider this argument a synecdoche, one in which to be illustrative of the whole. My experience with a Leftist and Requiem for the Dead is America’s experience with Barack Obama and his acolytes.
Are you familiar with speed chess? I learned about it when I was at Cal. Since I worked at the Bancroft Library, I had access to an employee break room. Every day at lunch, two men would sit there, chess board in front of them, timer at their side, and make lightning swift moves, wrapping up a single game in minutes, not hours. What I’m going for here is speed blogging. I’ve got more than 20 links, and I’m going to try to share them with you in less than half an hour of writing. Here goes….
In 2006, Thomas Lifson wrote what I think is one of the best political articles ever. In it, he explained that there are two seasons in American politics — Attention Season and Inattention Season. The former has a remarkable way of concentrating American minds. Right now, with the election nearing and terrorism within our borders again, Americans are starting to shift from Inattention to Attention. I suspect this will change the polling dynamics substantially in the next few weeks.
Trump is the bad boy of this political season, by which I mean that he’s the cool guy in the leather jacket that all the girls want to date and to domesticate. Eventually, though, the girls discover that a bad boy may have a James Dean charm about him, but he’s still bad, meaning he’s bad for the girl (and he’s equally bad for the guys who want to run with his pack). Kurt Schlichter perfectly articulates why Donald Trump is one of those bad boys, and explains that he’s going to be a heart breaker for those conservatives who think that this lifelong Democrat is someone to hold on to during trying times. Rubio and Cruz are probably the best choice for the nice steady boys who will come in and save the day.
If you’d like a short but deep run-down of the last Republican debate, and one with which I happen to agree, check out Seraphic Secret’s post about the debate.
Millennials are not the next greatest generation: they want to see American troops defeat ISIS; they just don’t want to be among the troops doing the defeating. Having said that, I’m in no position to sneer. I am an armchair warrior at best and a coward at worst, and have always been incredibly grateful that there are men and women who are willing to do the necessary fighting that I’m scared to do.
I’m a pessimist. I’ve learned through experience that most things go wrong, whether in the world or in my life. Still, I never completely lose hope. If I didn’t have hope, frankly, I would stop moving entirely.
Despite the knowledge that my best laid plans will gang [mostly] aft agley, I wake up every morning with slightly more than half my brain saying “this time the good thing will happen,” and slightly less than half warning “you know it won’t.” The first part gets me out of bed with the sun, the second part gives me insomnia with the moon.
Anyway, that oxymoronic attitude infuses my blog. I’m never surprised when I read about Progressive perfidy, Islamist terrorism, or human stupidity and cruelty, but I always think, maybe something will change . . . maybe it will be better. And on that note, I offer you a cornucopia of things, both old and new, that acknowledge the bad, but perhaps hold out hope for the good.
If Imam Obama doesn’t speak for sharia, who does?
Obama, whose resume does not include either professional or amateur level knowledge about Islam, nevertheless is very keen to tell us each time there’s an Islamic terror attack anywhere in the world that the perpetrators are un-Islamic and do not speak for Islam. Rather than confound Obama with complicated doctrinal questions, Roger Kimball asks one very important one: So Who Does Speak for Islam, President Obama? Kimball even offers a few suggested answers to that question:
Saudi Arabia? It is the world’s most important Sunni Muslim state. One of the most ghastly things about ISIS is its followers’ penchant for beheading people, yet in 2015 alone, our “ally” Saudi Arabia has beheaded 151 people. I am surprised the number is not higher; the list of things that are capital offenses in Saudi Arabia is long and varied.
Apostasy makes the list. If you decide that Allah is not for you, it’s off with your head.
Want a glass of wine? Think twice. The consumption of intoxicants is on the list, as is consensual homosexual sex, adultery, and “sorcery or witchcraft.”
So, presumably, Obama would not let Saudi Arabia speak for Islam.
How about the world’s largest Shia state, Iran? Does it speak for Islam? If not, why not? Because it is just as much a barbaric cesspool as Saudi Arabia?
You see how it’s going to proceed. Last night, Barack Obama was at pains to distance us from “those interpretations of Islam that are incompatible with the values of religious tolerance, mutual respect, and human dignity.” Well, with that statement Obama forbids the majority of the world’s Muslims, including the denizens of Islam’s chief states, from speaking for Islam.
Let’s forget conquest and terror: there are millions of folks who call themselves Muslims, yet want nothing to do with jihadist violence. Do they speak for Islam?
Well, if they affirm Sharia — Islamic law — then they cannot in principle affirm “the values of religious tolerance,” etc., so Obama does not allow these Muslims to speak for Islam, either.
Using Trump’s statements about Muslim immigration as the first step in an intelligent immigration plan
If Donald Trump were an artist, he would not be a delicate miniaturist or a meticulous late-medieval Flemish craftsman. Instead, he would be Jackson Pollock or possibly Jeff Koons. He’s creating something all right, but there’s a destructive edge to his creative acts.
Thus, when Donald Trump announced, less than tactfully, that all Muslim immigration ought to step pending Congress’s ability to figure out what’s going on with Muslim immigrants (both ordinary and refugee), he created an immediate furor. There was that the destructive part of his creativity. But Trump also said something that needs to be said, which is that the American government fails in its obligation to protect Americans against enemies both foreign and domestic when it willingly lets foreign enemies turn into domestic ones.
“What did you like about it?” I asked him.
“It was a very mature speech,” the Progressive replied, “and he said what I would have said.”
Of course I asked, “What would you have said that he did say?”
“That we’re doing everything we can against ISIL, but that almost a quarter of the world’s population is Muslim and they’re not all our enemies.”
“That’s it? That’s what you got out of the speech?”
“Yeah, it was really good. I bet you hated it.”
“Well, yes I did hate it.”
And then I was off. I detailed the problems with Obama’s affect — flat in the beginning when he had to concede that this was terrorism (although Obama hastened to add that it wasn’t really Islamic and Neo-Neocon thinks he may not even have said it was terrorism), and hectoring in the end when he scolded Americans about their prejudice, which they’ve never acted upon, and their guns which . . . well, let’s just say that Obama doesn’t want to see another Texas happen:
This video is from 2007, when George “Islam is a religion of peace” Bush was still President, but it could have been created yesterday, and been just as accurate. Indeed, in light of Obama’s frantic efforts Sunday night to avoid placing the word “Islam” anywhere near the word “terrorism,” the video is probably even more pertinent today than it was then: