Saturday, November 21, 2009

If Your Gonna Be Sick ~ Better Get Sick Quick!!

By Ralph Reiland
November 2009

In news from the world of universal health care, Mark Wattson, 35, collapsed in pain in the street in Swindon, England, a month after he had his appendix removed.
He was rushed by ambulance to Great Western Hospital, the place where his appendectomy was done and where doctors had released him after assurances that all went well. This time, Mr. Wattson was told by the same team of doctors that his supposedly removed appendix had burst and that he needed to be readmitted for an emergency appendectomy.

"I couldn't believe what I was hearing," said Wattson. "I told these people I had my appendix out just four weeks earlier but there it was on the screen for all to see. I thought: 'What the hell did they slice me open for in the first place?' "

More trouble developed after Wattson's second operation. The incision made during the operation became infected, leaving a hole in his stomach, 1.6 inches deep by 1.2 inches wide. Treatment required an additional six days in the hospital.

While bouncing back and forth to the hospital, Wattson lost his part-time job at a sports shop. "I had a temporary job, but when I took in two medical certificates saying I had my appendix out twice they didn't believe me."

So now he's jobless — and still in pain. And wondering what the surgeons removed the first time. "Now I'm helpless. I can't go out and find a job, I can't go to interviews. I can barely walk and am in constant pain."

In other universal health care news, the December 2009 issue of Reason magazine reports that government inspectors working for the Stoke City Council in England "warned residents to remove welcome mats and potted plants from their porches."

With government running health care, it becomes the state's business if someone trips over a porch plant or welcome mat, or if some numbskull runs into a hanging basket.

And what about sled riding, something more likely than a potted palm to raise hospital costs?

In a nation that can't stomach the risk of a welcome mat, how long will people be permitted to ice skate or race cars? Will kids still be allowed to build snowmen, given the danger of frostbite and subsequent medical interventions?

So what will be the allowable winter sport in England, given the need to cut the level of red ink in health budgets? Stay inside and bake gingerbread people? Still risky. To make 30 little gingerpeople, just 2.5 inches tall, Betty Crocker says to use a full cup of packed brown sugar, 1.5 cups of dark molasses, 7 cups of flour, and 1/3 cup of shortening, plus cinnamon, allspice, cloves and ginger.

There's also frosting — 4 more cups of sugar, powdered, plus vanilla and some raisins and chocolate chips for the faces and buttons.

That comes to 270 calories per gingerperson. Eat the whole batch (they're small) and that's 8,100 calories, enough to become the business of the obesity cops and the central committee's watchers of budget busters in the health sector.

On top of fat, there's also the gingerperson's fuel squandering and its link to climate calamities and drowning polar bears, with ginger, cloves, and cinnamon, respectively, coming from half a warming world away in India, Madagascar, and Sri Lanka.

I think we're all going to end up in nerdmobiles with broccoli sandwiches, boring porches, lousy doctors and double appendectomies.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Will There Be Anymore GREAT Leaders?

President James K. Polk tomb, NashvilleImage by Brent and MariLynn via Flickr
Written by Chuck Baldwin   
Tuesday, 10 November 2009

A recent column co-authored by John Eidsmoe and Ben DuPré struck me. They titled their column, "What Makes a 'Great' President?"

The basic thrust of the column was to examine the qualities that make one a "great" President. They start by examining the presidency of our 11th President, James K. Polk. They note that Polk is commonly regarded as being one of America's top 12 greatest Presidents. To use their words, "between eighth and 12th among our greatest presidents."

Eidsmoe and DuPré note that Polk was undoubtedly a man of outstanding Christian character and faith. They say that Polk was "the only president who kept and fulfilled every one of his campaign promises." They observe him to be a man "with a Puritan work ethic, [who] literally worked himself to death as president, retired from office in broken health and died 103 days later."
But Polk also greatly expanded the power of the presidency. "In 1846, President Polk sent American troops into disputed territory where they were almost certain to become embroiled in hostilities, and then demanded that Congress recognize that a state of war already existed. Increasingly with Polk's presidency and thereafter, the president set national policy and the Congress rubber-stamped the president's decisions."

Eidsmoe and DuPré note that the people who are charged with rating our Presidents are commonly academicians, "and as such they tend to be left of center. They believe in centralized power, and they therefore admire presidents who increased federal power and concentrated it in the presidency."
In this regard, Eidsmoe and DuPré are 100 percent correct. Look at the heroes of liberal historians, and who do you find? Abraham Lincoln, Woodrow Wilson, and Franklin Roosevelt. Not by accident, these same historians will extol the virtues of Hammurabi, Alexander, Julius Caesar, Charlemagne, and Napoleon. All these men have one thing in common: they were responsible for expanding (either by force or fraud) a centralized government.

Eidsmoe and DuPré correctly challenge the standard by which greatness is determined and offer alternatives to the avant-garde, politically correct formula. They proffer that "the truly great men of history are those who have defended and preserved individual liberty by resisting the increase and centralization of government power."

To that I say a hearty "amen."

Eidsmoe and DuPré then offer their own list of great men, which includes Judas Maccabeus, Cato and Cicero, Hermann the Liberator, Archbishop Stephen Langton of Canterbury, William Wallace and Robert the Bruce, and George Washington and Patrick Henry.

This brought to mind the fact that, several months ago, I had asked my friend, Howard Phillips, to rate his favorite U.S. Presidents. This was his response:

1) George Washington: for the standard he established during his presidency.
2) Thomas Jefferson: for his commitment to religious liberty and for recognizing the role of the states as he spelled out in the Virginia and Kentucky Resolutions.
3) Andrew Jackson: for his opposition to the second bank of the United States.
4) John Tyler: for his role in the admission of Texas to the Union.
5) James Polk: for advancing America's "manifest destiny."
6) Grover Cleveland: for his fidelity for the Constitution of the United States.
7) Calvin Coolidge: for his commitment to low taxes and limits on federal spending, as well as for his good character.

As for my personal list of greatest Presidents, it would largely mirror Howard's list, with one deviation. I would suggest:

1) George Washington: America's greatest President, without whom this republic would not exist. His "Farewell Address" is the greatest political speech ever delivered on American soil and should be regarded as "must-reading" for every American citizen.
2) Thomas Jefferson: America's greatest defender of individual liberty and states' rights.
3) James Monroe: for his leadership in establishing America's strategically important "Monroe Doctrine."
4) Andrew Jackson: for standing up against the bankers.
5) John Tyler: for defying his own party (Whigs) and twice vetoing the incorporation of the U.S. Bank. And also for supporting the Southern cause for secession.
6) Grover Cleveland: for his honesty and devotion to the U.S. Constitution.
7) Calvin Coolidge: for his dogged determination to limit taxes and federal spending.

As for my suggested list of personal heroes, those are already chronicled on my Wikipedia page.
Interestingly enough, DuPré and Eidsmoe's hero candidates, William Wallace and Patrick Henry, also grace my list of heroes as posted on my Wikipedia page.

One will notice that there are hardly any modern-day heroes mentioned on my list. I also observed that there were no modern-day heroes mentioned by John Eidsmoe and Ben Dupré in their column. Indeed. Where are the real heroes in national public office today?

Our national leaders (from both parties) seem to be shortsighted opportunists, possessing little regard for their oaths to the U.S. Constitution, the principles of decency, or even plain, old-fashioned common sense. Both major parties in Washington, D.C., offer the American people varying degrees of socialism. Neither party demonstrates even tacit devotion to constitutional government. Federalism and limited government have all but disappeared under the oversight of both Republican and Democratic leaders. These disastrous Presidents (from Johnson, Nixon, and Carter to Clinton and Bush I & II) calmly leave office with no regret or remorse for the devastation, death, and deception that they inflicted upon the country. They live in the lap of luxury and comfort without the slightest tinge of conscience as to the massive destruction done to our Constitution, not to mention our economy, security, and way of life. Beyond that, our Congressmen and Senators are mostly miscreants in the similitude of Nancy Pelosi and Lindsey Graham.

It's hard to imagine there was a time when giants once lived among us. It's hard to recall a day when the word "hero" really meant something. Today, everyone is called a hero. Well, as one Marine Corps veteran recently said, "If everyone is a hero, no one is a hero." Amen!
Perhaps more than anything, America needs great leaders once again. Men who are not enamored with power and wealth. Men who are more concerned with honoring their word and preserving the Constitution than they are being reelected and receiving a government pension. Men who really do respect the people who elected them. Men who are willing to be unpopular, if that is the cost of honesty and integrity. Men who know the difference between the eternal and the temporal. And, yes, men who know the meaning of the word American.

Is the day of great leaders past? With few exceptions, it would appear so. And that — more than anything else — is why we are in the mess we are in today.
So, while you are saying your prayers tonight, don't forget to ask God to give us some men like Washington and Jefferson. We could sure use them about now.
This column is archived here.
© Chuck Baldwin

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Presidential Fantasy

Abraham LincolnImage by Smithsonian Institution via Flickr
Popular Presidents
Written by Jack Kenny
October 2009

In 1909, in the great state of Illinois, school teachers one February day were directed to spend at least half the school day in public exercises, patriotic music, and recitations of sayings, verses, and speeches to mark the centennial birthday of a great hero. At the end of it all, they were to have their students face in the direction of Springfield and chant in unison the following:

“A blend of mirth and sadness, smiles and tears;

“A quaint knight errant of the pioneers;

“A homely hero, born of star and sod;

“A Peasant Prince, a masterpiece of God.”

Who was this masterpiece of God, this knight errant and heroic offspring “of star and sod”? Well if Springfield, Illinois, is Mecca, Abraham Lincoln must be the American Muhammad — if not the American Allah. While our 16th President was considered fair game for scathing political and editorial attacks during his life, his sudden death by an assassin’s bullet inspired the near-deification of “Father Abraham.” In 1868, Edward M. Stanton, Lincoln’s Secretary of War, read the “Gettysburg Address” at campaign appearances for Republican presidential candidate Ulysses S. Grant and concluded tearfully: “That is the voice of God speaking through the lips of Abraham Lincoln!... You hear the voice of Father Abraham here tonight.”

Nor did it end there. “Destiny made Lincoln the agency of fulfillment, held the inherited covenant inviolate and gave him to the ages,” Warren G. Harding proclaimed decades later. So great was the shadow Lincoln cast over the land that in the 1940s, Everett Dirksen, then a Congressman from Illinois, opined that the first duty of any politician was to “get right” with Lincoln. Nearly a century after the President’s martyrdom, historian David Donald would observe: “The Lincoln cult is almost a national religion.” Almost?

Lincoln’s role as a pseudo-religious figure in our nation’s history continues to this day. Nearly all political movements invoke his name and claim his benediction. Citizens with causes of various stripes march to his monument in Washington, there to plead their case before the grim figure in stone seated on what looks for all the world like the Judgment Seat of God. The cult of Lincoln in our histories and folklore, in our monuments and place names — and on our currency — is a fact of life. And while the 16th President, in life, had not the technological means to project himself “live” into the schoolrooms all over the country as our current and recent Presidents have done, schoolchildren are still dutifully taught to revere his image and his name. More important, as the deification of Lincoln has continued for nearly a century and a half, so has the near worship of the presidency, a cult that would no doubt amaze the Founders of our republic.

The powers and the duties of the President are enumerated in Article II, Sections 2-4 in the Constitution of the United States. They take up four paragraphs and deal mostly with appointments and minor duties. The authors of The Federalist Papers said nothing about the President providing a “vision” or lifting the spirit of, or writing an agenda for, the nation. The word “leader” was used as an epithet in warnings about demagogues who would incite a nation to ruinous folly or, worse, create an artificial crisis to inflate his own powers. Yet Presidents in our time are expected to “grow the economy” and provide us with all sorts of material blessings, while they “rid the world of evil-doers,” as George W. Bush proclaimed. President Obama has promised to “transform this country” and “change the world.” Clearly we don’t elect Presidents for their modesty.

During his one term in Congress, Lincoln voted against the declaration of war against Mexico, arguing that President Polk had unjustly and unconstitutionally started the war by invading Mexican territory. To permit a President to “make war at pleasure,” he asserted, is to acquiesce in “the most oppressive of all Kingly oppressions.”

Yet when Confederate forces fired on the Union garrison in Fort Sumter, after South Carolina had seceded from the Union, Lincoln took the nation to war without consulting Congress, later arguing that the conflict was an insurrection or rebellion and not a war. At the same time, he expanded the powers of Commander in Chief to unprecedented levels. He instituted the first national program of military conscription by executive order. He ordered the suspension of the writ of habeas corpus and held both political and editorial foes prisoner, indefinitely and without trial.

“Nobody knows how many Northern civilians were imprisoned without due process of law,” wrote historian David Donald in Lincoln Reconsidered, adding that estimates ranged from 15,000 to 38,000. “It required but a line from the President to close down a censorious newspaper, to banish a Democratic politician or to arrest suspected members of a state legislature.”

Lincoln’s death was followed by a three-week funeral procession that would have done credit to an emperor-god in the days of pagan antiquity. Mourning bells and wailing choirs accompanied him to his grave. Invariably historians rank him as the greatest of our “Great” presidents. In the “Near Great” category, we find the old Rough Rider, Theodore Roosevelt, another champion of a “strong executive” concept of the presidency — when strong is understood to mean unbound by the limited grant of power bestowed on him by the Constitution.

It is small wonder that both Bill Clinton and John McCain have claimed “TR” as a hero. McCain admires him as one who “liberally interpreted the constitutional authority of the office” of President and “nourished the soul of a great nation.” Just when the office of President took on the priestly duty of nourishing the nation’s soul is a question that might be debated by political scientists and theology professors. But it is surely revealing that McCain, the Arizona “conservative” and 2008 Republican presidential nominee, admires a President’s liberal interpretation of “the constitutional authority of the office.”

A Bully Presidency

A President/preacher needs a pulpit and Roosevelt saw the White House as a “bully pulpit.” (Everything about Teddy was “bully,” of course.) Vigorous exhortations and denunciations flowed freely from that pulpit to mobilize public opinion and bend Congress to the President’s will — on those occasions when the President deigned to acknowledge a need for congressional approval. In his seven-plus years in the White House, Roosevelt issued nearly as many executive orders as his 24 predecessors combined. The constitutional authority of Congress was among the things Roosevelt held in minimum regard, as evidenced by his military intervention in Panama’s secession from Colombia: “I took the Canal zone and let Congress debate; and while the debate goes on, the canal does also,” he explained. In setting forth what came to be known as the “Roosevelt Corollary “ to the Monroe Doctrine, the President informed Congress that the United States, “however reluctantly,” might have to assume the role of “an international police power” in Latin America.

Roosevelt acted on the assumption that the people were on his side. And in the voice of the people he could clearly hear the voice of God. “We stand at Armageddon and we battle for the Lord!” he declared in accepting the nomination of the Progressive (Bull Moose) Party in 1912. One might shudder to think on whose side that left Taft and Wilson. Wilson, after all, would describe himself as “the personal instrument of God” by the end of World War I and his crusade to make the world “safe for democracy.” With his grand pronouncements on treaties and covenants, Wilson seemed determined to bring a godly Presbyterian order out of a world of conflict and chaos. “Wilson bores me with his Fourteen Points,” said France’s Premier, Georges Clemenceau. “Why God Almighty has only ten.”

Wilson, apparently, didn’t mind the comparison. The League of Nations (a centerpiece of the Fourteen Points) was his secular means of salvation for the world. Or so he believed. It would succeed where other international agreements and even the apostolic succession had failed. “Jesus Christ so far [has] not succeeded in inducing the world to follow his teaching,” Wilson told the startled conferees at Versailles, “because He taught the ideal without devising any practical scheme to carry out his aims.” No wonder the President would brook no opposition to his divine plan. When asked if he would accept any reservations to the treaty establishing the League, Wilson was adamant. “The Senate must take its medicine,” he said. To the Senate’s credit, it did not.

Nothing to Fear

Surely no President ever assumed a more messianic role than Franklin Delano Roosevelt. While at least one member of Congress described him as Moses, leading the nation out of the economic wilderness, the new President seemed to have an even greater comparison in mind when he came into power on the fourth of March, 1933. In the depth of the great Depression, Roosevelt grandly announced in his Inaugural Address: “The moneychangers have fled from their high seats in the temple of our civilization.” The general state of biblical literacy may have been somewhat higher in FDR’s day than in our own, and it’s a safe bet most listeners recognized the story of the moneychangers fleeing the temple and remembered it was Jesus who drove them out. Roosevelt called on the nation to “move as a trained and disciplined army willing to sacrifice for the good of a common discipline.... We are, I know, ready and willing to submit our lives and our property to such discipline, because it makes possible a leadership which aims at a larger good.... This I propose to offer. ”

The infantry in that “trained and disciplined army” was the Congress of the United States, by that time well disposed to follow the orders of Roosevelt and his high command. When the President summoned Congress to a special session on March 9, just five days after his inauguration, the nation’s putative lawmakers responded eagerly to directives from the White House. As James MacGregor Burns described it in his friendly biography Roosevelt: The Lion and the Fox:

The milling representatives could hardly wait to act. By unanimous consent Democratic leaders introduced an emergency banking act to confirm Roosevelt’s proclamation and to grant him new powers over banking and currency. Completed by the President and his advisers at two o’clock that morning, the bill was still in rough form. But even in the meager forty minutes allotted to the debate, shouts of “Vote! Vote!” echoed from the floor.... The House promptly passed the bill without a record vote; the Senate approved it a few hours later; the President signed it by nine o’clock.

Such was the frenetic pace of legislation during the famous first “Hundred Days” of Roosevelt’s New Deal. No wonder the comic-philosopher Will Rogers concluded that members of Congress didn’t write laws anymore: “They just wave at them as they go by.” While most executives would call upon a secretary to take a letter, Roosevelt, it was said, summoned secretary Grace Tulley by saying: “Grace, take a law.” The Congress was only too willing to oblige the lawgiver in the White House. Perhaps no member went quite so far as the woman in Marietta, Ohio, who, Burns tells us, knelt on the ground and “reverently patted the dust where (Roosevelt) left a footprint.” But some may have come close. “I will do anything you ask,” a Congressman from Iowa wrote the President in the early days of the New Deal. “You are my leader.”

Some of the “reforms” Roosevelt rushed through that compliant Congress bore a remarkable resemblance to those he scorned while campaigning against his predecessor. He ridiculed Hoover’s Farm Board for “the cruel joke of advising farmers to let 20 percent of their wheat land to lie idle, to plow up every third row of cotton and shoot every tenth dairy cow.” Yet Roosevelt, with his own Agricultural Adjustment Act, had very similar policies written into a law the Supreme Court later ruled was an unconstitutional extension of federal regulatory power. Years later, when Sen. Burton Wheeler warned that lending and leasing Navy destroyers and other armaments to Great Britain during the Second World War would eventually drag the United States into that conflict, the Montana Democrat used the Agriculture Adjustment Act (AAA) as a symbol of the havoc that would follow.

“The lend-lease-give program is the New Deal’s Triple-A foreign policy; it will plow under every fourth American boy,” he warned. A furious Roosevelt called that “the rottenest thing that has been said in public life in my generation.”

Despite the widespread adulation he enjoyed through much of his first term, Roosevelt had his political enemies, whom he accused, ironically enough, of a “lust for power.” He would have his way with them as well, he told a wildly cheering crowd at New York’s Madison Square Garden. “I should like to have it said of my first administration that in it the forces of selfishness and of lust for power have met their match,” he said. “I should like to have it said of my second administration that in it these forces have met their master.” His enemies, so described, would be a useful foil to him in his campaign to a landslide reelection. “They are unanimous in their hate for me — and I welcome their hatred,” he declared. Though the Republicans dutifully offered an opponent in the person of Kansas Governor Alf Landon, Roosevelt really didn’t need one.

“There’s one issue in this campaign,” he said. “It’s myself, and people must be either for me or against me.”

Roosevelt’s successor, though a man of more humble origin, proved no less eager to expand the power and reach of the Oval Office. Harry Truman took the nation to war in Korea without so much as a by-your-leave to the Congress of the United States. When the nation’s steel workers threatened to strike, Truman simply seized the steel mills, a move the Supreme Court ruled lacked any congressional or constitutional authority. When asked at a press conference if he believed he could also seize newspapers and radio stations in a national emergency, Truman replied: “Under similar circumstances the President of the United States has to act for whatever is for the best of the country.” And the President himself would decide “whatever is for the best of the country.”

The Supreme Court’s ruling on the seizure of the steel mills (in Youngstown Sheet and Tube Co. v. Sawyer) offers an interesting contrast of views of the power of the President. Justice Hugo Black, writing for the majority in the 6-3 decision declaring the seizure unconstitutional, said: “In the framework of our Constitution, the President’s power to see that the laws are faithfully executed refutes the idea that he is to be a law maker.... And the Constitution is neither silent nor equivocal about who shall make the laws the President is to execute.” Yet Chief Justice Fred Vinson argued in dissent that the Court’s insistence on congressional authority for the President’s action reflected a “messenger-boy concept of the Office.”

Presidential Power

The idea of a powerful, activist President, towering over Congress and freed of constitutional constraints, had become so ingrained in the public mind that when Eisenhower did not attempt to bury Congress with an avalanche of legislative proposals in his first Hundred Days, one Washington correspondent lamented that the old general seemed like “a man who slipped into the White House by the back door on January 20, 1953 and hasn’t yet found his way to the desk.” Yet when Eisenhower sent the 101st Airborne to Little Rock, Arkansas, in 1957 to thwart local opposition to court-ordered school desegregation, few outside the South objected that this was done without either the Arkansas legislature or Governor requesting the federal troops.*

In the past half century American Presidents have sent troops into combat around the globe, often without congressional authorization of any kind. They have made commitments that are literally as wide as the world, while claiming powers of their office found nowhere in the Constitution. In his highly praised Inaugural Address, President Kennedy promised the world that we Americans would “pay any price,” and “bear any burden” to defend not only our own liberty, but that of “any friend” anywhere in the world. Lyndon Johnson used the bogus Gulf of Tonkin incident as the pretext for drawing us into a full-scale war in Vietnam. Richard Nixon was a notorious violator of both domestic and international law, but claimed: “When the President does it, it’s not illegal.”

Popularity is ephemeral and Presidents who abuse their power often fall out of favor with a public that had previously tolerated their excesses. But we typically look for another “savior,” one who will inspire the nation and the world with his “vision,” command and direct economic growth, and rule the world with an iron hand. Little to nothing is said in election campaigns about how the next President will, according to the oath of office “preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”

Presidential wannabes are, with few exceptions, eager to use the power of the office to get the nation embroiled in more conflicts in far away places. Last year, John McCain, throwing himself rhetorically into the fighting between Russia and Georgia over South Ossetia, said he was sure he spoke for all Americans when he said, “Today we are all Georgians.” Most of us don’t remember applying for citizenship in Georgia. And few of us, I suspect, would be willing to fight and die over South Ossetia.

But Americans want a hero in the White House and conservatives believed they’d found one in Ronald Reagan. Despite doubling the federal budget and tripling the national debt, Reagan preached the gospel of conservatism and played the “national greatness” theme beloved by today’s neoconservatives. Praises of Reagan at Republican events and in conservative publications are nearly as extravagant as the paeans to Lincoln in an earlier era. In Republican primary campaigns, candidates with conflicting viewpoints all claim to be acting in accord with the realism or idealism, the courage or the caution of Ronald Reagan.

As columnist Joseph Sobran wrote several years ago, “It all reminds one of the days when the Chinese appealed all questions to the great icon of Mao Zedong, even when Mao himself was silent.” It is, Sobran said, as though Reagan embodied every perfection “and the flesh is flawed to the degree that it doesn’t resemble Reagan.” Most conservatives still believe in the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, he surmised, “but Reagan runs a close fourth.”

Last year, Republicans had fun parodying Barack Obama as “the One,” the New Messiah, or perhaps another Moses who would lead us to the Promised Land. Some of it was quite clever. The juxtaposing of Obama promising to restore the oceans to their proper levels with Charlton Heston parting the Red Sea in The Ten Commandments (“Behold his mighty hand!”) was inspired — and hilarious. And a good deal of Obama’s rhetoric as a candidate and many of his subsequent actions as President have invited the parody. But it may be a bit late for the party of Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, and Ronald Reagan to oppose a “personality cult” in presidential politics.

“American liberty will never be reestablished so long as elites and masses alike look to the president to perform supernatural feats and therefore tolerate his virtually unlimited exercise of power,” wrote Robert Higgs, editor of the Independent Review. “Until we can restore limited, constitutional government in this country, God save us from great presidents.”

* Article IV, Section 4 of the Constitution authorizes the United States to protect a state against domestic violence "on Application of the Legislature, or of the Executive (when the Legislature cannot be convened)."

Thursday, October 29, 2009

You Might Be a Constitutionalist if ...


You Might Be a Constitutionalist if ...
Written by Chuck Baldwin
Thursday, 22 October 2009 00:00

I originally published this column back in January of 2005. Since then (and especially lately), many people have called and written with requests to republish it. So, with a few minor revisions, here it is.

More than 30 years as a student of American history, constitutional government, and the Holy Bible leads me to the conviction that the two major political parties in this country (at the national level) are equally culpable in stripping America of its founding principles. In my opinion, both the Democrat and Republican parties in Washington, D.C., have zero fidelity to the U.S. Constitution and zero respect for America's foundational precepts.

In my studied opinion, neither the Democrat nor Republican Party (at the national level) has any intention of slowing the out-of-control expansion of government. Neither party has demonstrated any loyalty to preserving and protecting our constitutional form of government.

Like National Socialists and Soviet Socialists of old, the only thing that concerns Democrats and Republicans today is who is in power. Both are equally willing to destroy the freedoms and liberties of people without conscience or regret as long as their party remains in control.

I am absolutely convinced that without a renewed allegiance to constitutional government and State sovereignty, there can be no resolution to America's current slide into socialism and oppression. Therefore, it is critical that we cast aside our infatuation with partisan politics and steadfastly stand firm for the principles of federalism and freedom, as did America's founders.

Might you be a modern-day Minuteman who understands the principles of freedom and federalism? I offer the following test. Read it and see if you, too, are a Constitutionalist. (Yes, Martha, this is another Jeff Foxworthy spin-off.)

1. You might be a Constitutionalist if you believe that every congressman, senator, President, and Supreme Court justice is required to obey the U.S. Constitution.

2. You might be a Constitutionalist if you believe that before the United States invades and occupies another country, Congress must first declare war.

3. You might be a Constitutionalist if you believe the federal government should live within its means, like everyone else is forced to do.

4. You might be a Constitutionalist if you think that taking away people's liberties in the name of security is not patriotic, nor does it make the country more secure.

5. You might be a Constitutionalist if you would like to see politicians be forced to abide by the same laws they make everyone else submit to.

6. You might be a Constitutionalist if you understand that we have three "separate but equal" branches of government that are supposed to hold each other in check and balance.

7. You might be a Constitutionalist if you believe that the federal government has no authority to be involved in education or law enforcement, or in any other issue that the Tenth Amendment reserves to the States, or to the People.

8. You might be a Constitutionalist if you believe that gun control laws do nothing but aid and abet criminals while trampling the rights and freedoms of law-abiding citizens.

9. You might be a Constitutionalist if you believe that the income tax is both unconstitutional and immoral, and, along with the I.R.S. and the Federal Reserve, should be abolished.

10. You might be a Constitutionalist if you believe the federal government had no authority to tell former Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore that he could not display a monument containing the Ten Commandments in the Alabama Judicial Building in Montgomery; or to tell a Pace, Florida, high school principal that he could not pray before a meal.

11. You might be a Constitutionalist if you believe that Congress or the White House or any sovereign State is not required to submit to unconstitutional Supreme Court rulings.

12. You might be a Constitutionalist if you understand that freedom has nothing in common with illegal immigration.

13. You might be a Constitutionalist if you understand that outsourcing American jobs overseas is not good for America.

14. You might be a Constitutionalist if you believe that the United States should get out of the United Nations and get the United Nations out of the United States.

15. You might be a Constitutionalist if you believe that it is not unconstitutional for children in public schools to pray or read the Bible.

16. You might be a Constitutionalist if you believe that the Boy Scouts are not a threat to America.

17. You might be a Constitutionalist if you believe that the federal government should honor its commitments to America's veterans and stop using U.S. military personnel as guinea pigs for testing drugs and chemicals.

18. You might be a Constitutionalist if you believe that U.S. troops should never serve under foreign commanders or wear the uniform or insignia of the United Nations, and that they must never submit to illegal orders, such as turning their weapons against American citizens, or confiscating the guns of U.S. citizens.

19. You might be a Constitutionalist if you believe that the federal government has no business bribing churches and faith-based organizations with federal tax dollars.

20. You might be a Constitutionalist if you believe that federal agents who murder American citizens should be held to the same laws and punishments that any other citizen would be held to. (Can anyone say, "Waco" and "Ruby Ridge"?)

21. You might be a Constitutionalist if you understand that NAFTA, GATT, the WTO, and the FTAA (and similar agreements) are disastrous compromises of America's national sovereignty and independence.

22. You might be a Constitutionalist if you would like to see congressmen and senators be required to actually read a bill before passing it into law.

23. You might be a Constitutionalist if you understand that it is the job of government to protect and secure God-given rights, not use its power to take those rights away.

24. You might be a Constitutionalist if you understand that there is nothing unconstitutional about the public acknowledgement of God and our Christian heritage.

25. You might be a Constitutionalist if you believe that government bailouts and "stimulus" expenditures defy virtually every principle of free enterprise and are a flagrant leap into socialism.

26. You might be a Constitutionalist if you believe that airport screeners have no business touching women's breasts, using sophisticated machinery to look through passengers' clothing to see their naked bodies, confiscating fingernail clippers, or denying pilots from carrying handguns.

27. You might be a Constitutionalist if you believe that many public schools' "zero-tolerance" policies are just plain stupid.

28. You might be a Constitutionalist if you believe that parents have a right to homeschool their children.

29. You might be a Constitutionalist if you believe that governmental seizure of private property is plain, old-fashioned thievery.

30. You might be a Constitutionalist if you are personally determined to not submit to any kind of forced vaccination.

31. You might be a Constitutionalist if you oppose any kind of national health insurance.

32. You might be a Constitutionalist if you believe that U.S. troops are not the world's policemen, that they are not "nation-builders," and that their purpose is only to defend American lives and property, not to be the enforcement arm of international commercial interests or global elitists.

33. You might be a Constitutionalist if you understand that the county Sheriff is the highest law enforcement officer of his district and that federal law enforcement (much of which is unconstitutionally organized, anyway) is obligated to submit to his authority.

34. You might be a Constitutionalist if you are determined to oppose America's merger with any kind of regional, hemispheric, or international government, such as the North American Union.

35. You might be a Constitutionalist if you oppose sending billions of taxpayer dollars as foreign aid; the U.S. State Department meddling into the private affairs of foreign countries; and ubiquitous foreign entanglements that require vast sums of money, create animosity and hostility towards us, and expose us to foreign wars and conflicts in which we have no national interest.

36. You might be a Constitutionalist if you would like to meet one single congressman or senator besides Ron Paul who acts as if he or she has ever read the U.S. Constitution.

Well, how did you fare? Are you a Constitutionalist? If so, your country desperately needs you to stand up and fight for freedom's principles before they are forever taken from us. This means never again voting for anyone — from any party — who will not preserve, protect, and defend the U.S. Constitution. So, don't just take the test; make the pledge!

(This column is archived at

Dr. Baldwin is the founder and pastor of Crossroad Baptist Church in Pensacola, Florida. His sermons are LIVE every Sunday morning and people can tune in and watch the sermon at He is a prolific writer/columnist whose articles and political commentaries are carried by a host of Internet sites, newspapers, and news magazines. Dr. Baldwin can be heard 49 times each week, on 15 different radio stations in Northwest Florida, lower Alabama, Central Florida, and parts of Virginia, Texas, and Utah. He has written two books, and he was the 2008 Presidential candidate for the Constitution Party.

© Chuck Baldwin

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Can the County Sheriff Save the Constitution?

Can the County Sheriff Save the Constitution?
Written by Patrick Krey
September 2009

Richard Mack, former sheriff of Graham County, Arizona, is not afraid to ruffle some feathers in order to halt what he considers violations of the U.S. Constitution.

In 1993, Congress passed the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act (commonly referred to as the Brady Bill), which was signed into law by President Bill Clinton and went into effect on February 28, 1994. A provision of the Brady Bill compelled state and local law-enforcement officials to perform mandatory background checks. Mack, then a Graham County sheriff, was outraged. In response, Mack gained distinction by being the first sheriff in the nation to file a lawsuit against the Brady Bill. The lawsuit made it all the way to the Supreme Court, which ruled that the provision was indeed unconstitutional as a violation of the Tenth Amendment principles of federalism.

Now Mack is once again making headlines with his latest effort to stand up for the Constitution. In a 50-page booklet entitled The County Sheriff: America’s Last Hope (available from his website, Mack concisely explains what he believes is the proper role of law enforcement, as well as how your local sheriff can be the last line of defense for the U.S. Constitution. Mack passionately argues that real change is not going to come from Washington, D.C., but instead from local county sheriffs who finally stand up and stop being pawns in the federal government’s unconstitutional schemes. “We must start at home, in our counties, in our own ‘spheres.’ We must erect the barriers and keep those at bay who would confiscate bank accounts, guns, land, property, and children. Sheriff, you are the people’s sworn protector. You cannot shrink from that duty merely because the violator comes into town with a three piece suit and a fancy attaché case.”

In an interview with The New American, Sheriff Mack explained what his goal was with writing this booklet. “My goal is to educate sheriffs to their proper authority and their standing as the ultimate check and balance for the people in their county. If we are going to get back to those principles upon which our country was founded, then the county sheriff has to be involved in that process. That’s where we are today. We don’t have anywhere else to turn, so why not turn to the guy who promised to do just that?”

Why just 50 pages? Mack explains: “I know law enforcement and I know sheriffs; they’re not going to get involved in anything that’s too long. They can read this really easily and there’s no excuse not to read it.” Mack has started a campaign via his website to distribute one booklet to each sheriff in the United States. “We have about six states covered right now. We’re going to keep moving and identify sheriffs in the country who have the guts to fulfill their constitutional duty.”

The County Sheriff: Hope for America
Mack’s experience with fighting federal gun-control legislation of the mid ’90s was quite the learning experience for him. “So here’s the U.S. Congress making an unconstitutional gun-control law, requiring a county official to enforce it and pay for it, and then threatening to arrest him if he refuses! What a government!”

Looking back on the episode, though, Mack wishes he handled things differently. “In retrospect … I wish I had never filed it. The most effective and inexpensive measure that should have been taken was for all the sheriffs of Arizona to simply send the Brady Bill back to Congress with a CC to the White House and with a strongly worded explanation as to why the Brady Bill, or 20 more just like it, would have no place in Arizona.” Mack suggests that a non-complying county sheriff would be a much more efficient and effective way to restore constitutional governance to the land of the free than endless legal challenges in federal courts filled with politically appointed lawyers. “Sheriff Nixon from Lincoln County, Montana, did just that. He didn’t join our lawsuit. He just said, ‘No, I’m not enforcing the Brady Bill,’ and he didn’t. We won a major landmark monumental decision but the sheriffs in this country have the authority to say ‘no’ to the federal government and that’s what we all should have done.”

Who Is Sheriff Richard Mack?
Mack, who started his law-enforcement career in the Provo police department in Utah during the late ’70s, doesn’t mince words when it comes to describing his personal transformation from a standard police officer to a committed constitutionalist. “I was … a by-the-numbers jerk.… We had to write tickets and lots of them. We needed arrests and felonies and DUIs and druggies in jail and our efforts supported in the newspapers. I got caught up in all of this and loved it. We literally justified our existence — on the backs of citizens.” Then in the early ’80s, Mack went undercover for a one-year assignment in narcotics, and it got him to question the entire war on drugs. “What was this all for? Why did so many people have to go to jail because of marijuana, especially when it was less harmful than alcohol? Is law enforcement really about public service, or public harassment?”

His soul searching, combined with years of research, led him to the following conclusion: “I am now totally convinced that the ‘Drug War’ is a farce. It provides no benefit to the public and actually makes the drug problem worse.” This personal epiphany didn’t just stop at the issue of drug prohibition but also extended to the entire method of using law enforcement as a revenue-raising tool for government. “I got fed up with the numbers game in law enforcement and with the idea that we, the police, were here to force people to wear their seat belts and to have their papers [license, registration, insurance, inspection, etc.] in order before they could freely go about their lives.”

Mack looked at the way law enforcement was being handled and didn’t see public servants searching for the truth or advocating the rights of the accused. Instead, he saw a system contrary to what he in his heart believed to be right. “It is a corrupt system based on ‘win-loss’ records. Principles of freedom and equality are bypassed in order to concentrate on the money-generating numbers and plea bargains. If innocent citizens get nailed in the process, then it is ... considered collateral damage.” Mack didn’t just see abuses being perpetrated at the state level but also at the federal level in a much more flagrant and blatant manner.

Greatest Threat to America: 
The Federal Government
What does Sheriff Mack view as the biggest threat facing America today? Global warming? Terrorism? The swine flu? Again, Mack pulls no punches and states exactly what is on his mind. “The greatest threat we face, as a nation, is our own federal government.” Mack’s opposition to federal overreach is not limited to just when Democrats control the levers of federal power. Mack staunchly opposes right-wing overreach. He vigorously objects to an interventionist foreign policy, as well as abusive national-security tactics applied domestically. “The elitists of Washington, D.C., including those of both major parties, have turned America into a socialistic democratic dictatorship. We are a police state and welfare state all rolled into one enormous gluttonous debt.”

Sheriff Mack does not see a bright future for America if we don’t turn back the clock on the expansive growth of government. “It is a mathematical certainty that the bigger the government, the smaller the freedom. You cannot have huge government and abundant freedom simultaneously.”

Saying “No” to the Feds
For those who are absolutely fed up with the constant violations of the U.S. Constitution, Sheriff Mack’s proposition to nullify federal overreach by just saying “no” is entirely practical advice.

The notion of state interposition, or state nullification of unconstitutional federal laws, is a concept as old as our Republic; Mack’s proposal to extend it to the county sheriff level merely adds a new decentralist twist. Could such a proposal possibly work? Michael Boldin, the founder of the Tenth Amendment Center and an expert on the subject of state nullification, believes that it could. Boldin told The New American, “It’s my opinion that the best way to resist the federal government and its incessant violations of the Constitution is not to continually try to ‘vote the bums out’ every election season, but instead, to virtually ignore it. Nullification, simply saying no to federal laws outside the scope of their constitutionally delegated authority, is the path to liberty for this country. It’s powerful, it’s peaceful, and it works, as can be seen in the state-level revolt against the Real ID Act of 2005. In 2007, multiple states passed resolutions refusing to implement the federal Real ID act on grounds that it was unconstitutional. Instead of attempting to force the law to implementation, the federal government delayed implementation, and earlier this month the Obama administration announced that it was looking to ‘repeal and replace’ the controversial law.”

Has the time come for such action? Boldin believes that the time has definitely come. “James Madison, in his report of 1800, said that interposition must not be employed ‘either in a hasty manner, or on doubtful and inferior occasions.’ And he was quite right. But, with the massive amount of constitutional overreach coming from the federal government, choosing one overreach to resist is like shooting fish in a bucket.”

The Next Step
What kind of feedback has Mack received from other sheriffs who have read his book? “Sheriffs from Oregon, Montana, Colorado, Washington, and Wisconsin have all voiced overwhelming support and ... are getting more on board every day.” The only type of negative feedback he has received is from “a couple [of sheriffs] who have expressed reluctance, but most of those just boil down to whether or not they have the guts to do it. I think most of them know this is true but just don’t want to be the tester to see if it really works.”

Indeed, as Mack is quick to point out, “There are already several examples of sheriffs and local governments standing against federal intrusiveness.” Mack highlights an incident in Nye County, Nevada, where the local sheriff told federal agents that if they tried to confiscate cattle from a local rancher, he would arrest them. The feds backed down and the cattle remained. Mack explains, “For federal officers to come in to the county and take over in any respect is the epitome of usurpation, and he who is the rightful steward of the county needn’t tolerate any such usurpations whatsoever.”

As far as federal legislation requiring the action of local sheriffs, Mack asserts that “they’re entirely meaningless and have no way of being enforced unless [the county sheriff] says so.” Mack argues that the worst that can happen is that the sheriff will lose out on some federal funding.

Mack himself acknowledges how very revolutionary his proposal is, but argues that it is vital to preserve our freedoms. “I know this all sounds radical. Standing for freedom has always been labeled as radical, but ‘extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice,’ to quote Barry Goldwater.”

Mack stands firmly by his warning that for “the tyrant to win … the only thing that has to happen is for the nation’s police and sheriffs to be convinced that all laws must be enforced.”

Powered by ScribeFire.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Not So Crazy After All

LONDON - APRIL 1:  Queen Elizabeth II poses wi...Image by Getty Images via Daylife
“Conspiracy Theorists” Not So Crazy After All
Written by William F. Jasper
April 2009 in New American Magazine

Sometimes one wonders what it will take to wake people up and shake people up. It can become tiresome being labeled a kook, a nutjob, a conspiracy whacko — by both Democrats and Republicans, “liberals” and “conservatives” — all for merely pointing out what is obvious and easily verifiable. Thus, there is a certain satisfying sense of vindication when the labelers finally admit that maybe you weren’t really crazy after all. Maybe your warnings about the dangers of the steady transfers of power and money to an ever-proliferating international bureaucracy weren’t so far out. Maybe the United Nations really is being built into an all-powerful world government. And … maybe we should finally get concerned about all of that!

Well, the G20 London Summit has pushed a few doubting Thomases into the believer (or almost-believer) camp. The brazen call by the G20 summiteers for huge new cash infusions ($1.1 Trillion!) for the International Monetary Fund (IMF), as well as vast new powers for the IMF to regulate global financial markets, have made Fox TV’s Sean Hannity and Dick Morris almost ready (apparently) to join the ranks of “the conspiracy people.”

Here’s the exchange between Dick Morris and Sean Hannity on Fox just before the summit:

Dick Morris: There is a big thing that’s gonna happen in London at this G20 and they’re hiding it, camouflaging it, they’re not talking about it: coordination of international regulation. What they are going to do is put our Fed and our SEC under the control, in effect, of the IMF.

Hannity: Oh, C’mon, you believe they’ll do this —

Morris: That’s what’s in the draft agenda. They call it “coordination of regulation.” What it really is is putting the American economy under international regulation. And those people who have been yelling, “Oh, the UN is going to take over” —

Hannity: Conspiracy theorists

Morris: They’ve been “crazy,” but now they’re right! It’s happening!

Hannity: What Geithner said — he would be open to the idea of a global currency, last week — those conspiracy people had said, had suggested that for years. They’re not wrong!

Morris: They’re not wrong. You know what they always do at these conferences. The censored show is over here. But the side show they don’t want you to pay attention to. The censored show was the size of the stimulus package; the real show is international regulation of the financial institutions, which is going to happen under IMF control.

As already noted, it’s gratifying to see these two sounding the alarm about a very alarming issue. But — as huge as this story is, their two-minute gab-fest hardly qualifies as a serious warning or expose’. True, Morris did better than the rest of the talking heads in mainstream TV-land, pointing out that the G20 scheme would “put our Fed and our SEC under the control, in effect, of the IMF,” and that this would amount to “putting the American economy under international regulation.” That issue alone should warrant several weeks of non-stop, day-after-day coverage by Hannity and Morris — or at least as much time as is devoted to examining Barack and Michelle Obama’s faux pas with the queen and engaging in the usual partisan carping.

But the G20 program goes far beyond even Morris’ dire description. It is the opening phase in a multi-stepped series of moves to transform the IMF into “the” World Central Bank, the global Federal Reserve, which has been formally proposed by American and international financial elites many times since the IMF was launched at Bretton Woods in 1944.

We have been reporting on this in the pages of The New American for the past 25 years, and for many years before that in American Opinion and The Review of the News, the predecessor magazines to The New American. In fact, I provided a detailed report on this very issue — the scheme to create a global currency and a global central bank — in Chapter 10 of my 1992 book, Global Tyranny … Step by Step: The United Nations and the Emerging New World Order. Entitled “The New World Money System,” that chapter surveyed some of the most important efforts by the international policy elites to transform the UN financial system into an unchallenged global monetary authority. I quoted extensively, for instance, from the very important essay by Harvard professor Richard N. Cooper, “A Monetary System for the Future” in the Fall 1984 issue of Foreign Affairs, the journal of the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR). In it, Prof. Cooper says:

I suggest a radical alternative scheme for the next century: the creation of a common currency for all of the industrial democracies, with a common monetary policy and a joint Bank of Issue to determine that monetary policy. [Emphasis in original]

Dr. Cooper then made some very provocative admissions. Here’s a passage from Chapter 10:

"The currency of the Bank of Issue could be practically anything," the Harvard economist continued. "... The key point is that monetary control — the issuance of currency and of reserve credit — would be in the hands of the new Bank of Issue, not in the hands of any national government...." (Emphasis added) The problem, however, is that "a single currency is possible only if there is in effect a single monetary policy, and a single authority issuing the currency and directing the monetary policy. How can independent states accomplish that? They need to turn over the determination of monetary policy to a supranational body." (Emphasis added)

Insider Cooper realized the challenge involved in selling this totalitarian idea to the public. "This one-currency regime is much too radical to envisage in the near future," he said. "But it is not too radical to envisage 25 years from now.... [I]t will require many years of consideration before people become accustomed to the idea." Getting people in the West, and particularly in the United States, warm to the idea of "a pooling of monetary sovereignty" — especially with communist countries — would be difficult. Cooper wrote: "First, it is highly doubtful whether the American public, to take just one example, could ever accept that countries with oppressive autocratic regimes should vote on the monetary policy that would affect monetary conditions in the United States.... For such a bold step to work at all, it presupposes a certain convergence of political values...."

Hmmm. Imagine that. Prof. Cooper wrote that plan in 1984. He prophesied that his proposal was “too radical” to be accepted at that time, but thought that in 25 years Americans might be sufficiently softened up to accept monetary dictation from “a supranational body,” i.e., the IMF.

Dang! Here we are in 2009 — 25 years on the spot! Elijah couldn’t have prophesied any more accurately!

But what we have here, of course, is a self-fulfilling prophecy. Over the past 25 years, Cooper and his fellow “prophets” at the CFR, Brookings, the Carnegie Endowment, the Peterson Institute for International Economics, and similar globalist organizations have kept up a non-stop campaign in elite media, academic, and political circles for this objective. You really didn’t think that Gordon Brown, Angela Merkel, and Nicolas Sarkozy and their economic ministers came up with this totally on their own, did you? That’s what we’re supposed to think, but the facts are they’re simply following scripts handed to them by the folks who have been planning this heist for decades. The same folks who are now stepping up the propaganda campaign to “supersize” the IMF.

As we noted on February 9 in “’Supersizing’ the IMF,” the CFR brain trust was then hard at work, and we cited a number of key editorials, articles, and essays, and op-eds:

All of the "supersizing" propaganda is being put forth as a concerted buildup for the upcoming G20 economic summit in London in April, where panic over the current economic crisis is expected to provide impetus for expanding and empowering global institutions. On February 5, German Chancellor Angela Merkel held a joint news conference in Berlin with the heads of the International Monetary Fund, the World Trade Organization, the World Bank, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, and the International Labour Organization to say that she wanted these organizations included in the G20 April summit. "We want closer cooperation (of these institutions) in the G20 process," said Merkel.

If this “supersizing” scheme is allowed to succeed, the United Nations will finally have what its designers always intended it eventually to have: its own source of revenue. The intention of Cooper and fellow globalists is that the IMF will become a global Federal Reserve and will issue a global currency and global bonds, creating money “out of thin air.” It will no longer have to come to Congress or any other national legislature asking for funds. The IMF — or, more accurately, the bankers who run it — will be in control of the entire economy of the planet.

Hopefully, Sean Hannity and Dick Morris will find that prospect sufficiently horrifying to devote a few more minutes of program time to the subject. But, as penance for their obstinacy in ignoring the obvious for so long, and for pillorying those of us who have been faithfully sounding the alarm, they should be required to stand in Times Square wearing a tin foil hat and a sandwich-board sign declaring “I’m a Conspiracy Whacko Too!”

Related articles from The New American:

Global-currency Call Gets Nod From Geithner, Others

"Supersizing" the IMF

The G20 Push to "Supersize" the IMF

[x] close

The Second Amendment and the States
The Second Amendment and the States | Print |
Written by Patrick Krey
Tuesday, 09 June 2009 00:14

CourtsThere are few topics that can divide people who are normally ideological bedfellows like the legal doctrine of the “incorporation” of the Bill of Rights against the states and the Second Amendment. This subject is rearing its head again with the upcoming appointment of a new Supreme Court justice as well as federal courts' recent conflicting opinions in regards to the Second Amendment. The Wall Street Journal reports that on June 2nd, “A federal appeals court in Chicago ruled … that the Second Amendment doesn't bar state or local governments from regulating guns, adopting the same position that Judge Sonia Sotomayor, President Barack Obama's nominee to the Supreme Court, did when faced with the same question earlier this year.”

This ruling contrasts with a recent ruling by “the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco ... that the Second Amendment is incorporated against the states and local governments” — in other words, states and local governments are bound by the Second Amendment. Which court is correct?

To understand the debate in this topic, it helps to briefly review constitutional history. When the Constitution was first proposed, opponents of the new document criticized it for lacking a bill of enumerated rights, which were common in virtually every state constitution of the time. In response to these complaints, proponents of the new Constitution agreed to add a series of amendments in the first Congress that would codify restrictions on the federal government to infringe certain fundamental rights. The resulting first 10 Amendments, collectively referred to as the “Bill of Rights,” were ratified on December 15, 1791.

It is important to note two little-known historical facts regarding the proposal and ratification of the Bill of Rights. Alexander Hamilton, himself a prominent advocate of a liberal reading of the necessary and proper clause as well as a loose construction of the Constitution, argued that a Bill of Rights would be dangerous because it would imply that without such an enumeration of rights, the new government might actually have the power to infringe on these rights and might even now open the door for the government to regulate in these areas. In Federalist # 84, Hamilton wrote:

I go further, and affirm that bills of rights, in the sense and to the extent in which they are contended for, are not only unnecessary in the proposed Constitution, but would even be dangerous. They would contain various exceptions to powers not granted; and, on this very account, would afford a colorable pretext to claim more than were granted. For why declare that things shall not be done which there is no power to do? … I will not contend that such a provision would confer a regulating power; but it is evident that it would furnish, to men disposed to usurp, a plausible pretense for claiming that power. They might urge with a semblance of reason, that the Constitution ought not to be charged with the absurdity of providing against the abuse of an authority which was not given, and that the provision against restraining the liberty of the press afforded a clear implication, that a power to prescribe proper regulations concerning it was intended to be vested in the national government.

Hamilton basically was saying that the national government lacked the power to do any of the things that the proposed Bill of Rights were prohibiting, and codifying these restrictions might lead some to argue that the national government could actually regulate in those areas, which he felt was completely unconstitutional.

In addition, James Madison, widely regarded as “The Father of the Constitution,” wanted to have the Bill of Rights restrictions to be held against the states but was rebuffed in this effort because of widely held reservations to further empower the new government over the states. The first Congress refused to even submit such a proposal to the states for ratification because it was so unpopular. As a matter of fact, numerous states had gun-control laws on the books at the time, as well as state-chartered religions. It was not that the citizens were necessarily opposed to state involvement in these matters but rather did not want any federal intrusion.

These two historical facts illustrate that, at the time of the ratification of the Bill of Rights, it was recognized by the Framers and Ratifiers that the national government had no authority to enforce the Bill of Rights against the states, and whatever authority it did have was clearly delineated in the text of the Constitution itself. Therefore, the Bill of Rights did not give the national government any new powers but simply reiterated important restrictions upon it and not the states. This understanding is consistent with the position that not only does the Second Amendment protect an individual “right to bear arms” against federal action but also that the national government lack any power whatsoever to regulate within this area. Additionally, the states are free to regulate (or not regulate) in that area based on their own state constitutions.

The fact that the Bill of Rights did not apply against the states was not modified until after the ratification of the 14th Amendment and the judicial creation of the incorporation doctrine. The incorporation doctrine refers to the court selectively “incorporating” certain amendments in the Bill of Rights against state governments via a liberal reading of the 14th Amendment — completely contrary to the original understanding at the time of its ratification as explained by widely respected legal scholar Raoul Berger in Government by Judiciary: The Transformation of the Fourteenth Amendment. As the late Congressman Larry McDonald explained, the rationale behind the incorporation doctrine “runs completely contrary to thoughts and purposes of the original framers.... Their intent was to limit the rights and powers of the federal government, not to help expand them.”

The courts liberal interpretation allowed the federal courts to widen their jurisdiction and judicially review numerous state laws. Some libertarians welcome this development in constitutional history as a great opportunity to spread freedom because it gives advocates of individual liberty “two bites at the freedom apple — one under his state constitution and one under the U.S. Constitution.” Sadly, the constitutional record of incorporation is not something many advocates of individual liberty can be proud of.

Constitutional historian Kevin R.C. Gutzman details the sordid history of the incorporation doctrine:

This is what the Incorporation Doctrine has given us: in place of reservation of these areas of law to state governments for regulation via legislative elections, we get seizure of control over them by unelected, unaccountable, politically connected lawyers (that is, federal judges) who purport to substitute “reason” for the (one infers) “unreasonable” regulations crafted by elected officials.... It was under the cover of the Incorporation Doctrine that federal courts recently invented a right of child rapists not to face the ultimate penalty for their crimes. It was under the cover of the Incorporation Doctrine, indeed, that a Supreme Court majority for several years banned capital punishment altogether. It was under the cover of the Incorporation Doctrine that the Supreme Court eliminated state prohibitions of various types of pornography. The Incorporation Doctrine also underlies the Court-created ban on prayer, even on moments of silence, in public schools. The Incorporation Doctrine has allowed federal courts to invent rights to burn flags, ban invocations at high school graduations, and establish essentially a national code of “acceptable” punishments.

Furthermore, it was with the help of the incorporation doctrine that the “politically connected lawyers” on the court were able to invent “penumbras” giving rise to the infamous Roe v. Wade decision, and there were even discussions at the height of judicial activism to engrain a right to a minimum wage within constitutional law. Libertarians should be careful what they wish for because the “interpreters” on the court do not always see eye-to-eye with their vision of liberty.

Ironically, libertarian proponents of incorporation who usually are almost universally opposed to state power, let alone massively centralizing power in a super state, are in effect advocating the use of a larger, more powerful central government (via its court system) to force smaller governments to “be more free” without recognizing the fact that freedom means different things to different people. Such a contradictory line of thought is in direct conflict with the proud Jeffersonian decentralist tradition of those who founded our constitutional republic.

This leads us back to gun-rights activists who are currently expending numerous resources trying to get federal judges to incorporate the bill of rights against the states. Ironically, years of money spent trying to get federal judges to advance the cause of gun rights resulted in the disappointing Supreme Court decision in District of Columbia v. Heller where the “conservatives” on the court acknowledged that the Second Amendment protects an individual right “to bear arms” but that right is not “unlimited” and there is still room for reasonable restrictions on gun control. As renowned constitutional attorney Edwin Vieira, Jr. wrote last fall in The New American, “Could Heller allow gun regulation to the point that the regulation could become a prohibition for all practical purposes? What effect will it have, if any, on existing or future gun laws in other jurisdictions throughout the country?”

The Heller decision was disheartening to gun rights advocates who believed that vast amounts of money spent on endless legal challenges would engrain an unlimited right to gun ownership in our constitutional law. Related efforts to incorporate the limited protections of Heller against the state will face similar frustration. Those who put their faith in “politically connected lawyers” to uphold their rights and advance the cause of freedom will continue to be disappointed. Perhaps these activists will now realize that federal judges are not reliable friends of individual liberty and instead will focus their energy on a much more realistic goal of making Congress constitutional.

Monday, September 21, 2009

And The Truth Will Set You Free.

Woodrow Wilson and his cabinet in the Cabinet RoomImage via Wikipedia

An Internationalist Primer

By William Norman Grigg
written in1996

Writing in the July 17, 1926 issue of The Saturday Evening Post, author Arthur D. Howden Smith presented a profile of an enigmatic man named "Colonel" Edward Mandell House. Although few Americans beyond the rarefied realms of the political elite knew much of House, the austere Texan had played a decisive role in many of the most important policy decisions made by President Woodrow Wilson. On more than one occasion, Wilson described House as his "silent partner," his "second personality," his "independent self." Although this friendship would later disintegrate under the stress of political disappointment, during the eight years of the Wilson Administration, the President maintained of House that "his thoughts and mine are one."

Smith recounted that during and after World War I, House and Wilson had "dreamed ... great dreams of modeling civilization anew" -- dreams that would collide abruptly with reality when the Senate refused to approve U.S. enrollment in the League of Nations. Following this defeat, Smith records, House "returned [from Paris] to New York, heartbroken, disappointed, in despair over the failure of his ambition to make his country the balance wheel of a new world order."
His Heart's Desire

House had long entertained notions of remolding America -- and the world -- nearer to his heart's desire. According to Smith's admiring biography, House believed that "the Constitution, product of eighteenth century minds and a quasi-classical, medieval conception of republics, was thoroughly outdated; that the country would be better off if the Constitution could be scrapped and rewritten." This ambition inspired House's 1912 novel Philip Dru: Administrator, in which an "idealistic" Marxist conducts a coup and installs socialist reforms by dictatorial decree.

House described the novel as an expression of "my ethical and political faith"; thus it is of some moment that the book's hero seeks to establish "Socialism as dreamed of by Karl Marx," embellished with "a spiritual leavening." Among the most cherished reforms envisioned in Philip Dru is the creation of a "League of Nations" (the term specifically used by House in his novel) and the submergence of the United States into a world government.

When, in real life, the League of Nations was thwarted by the U.S. Senate, House and his colleagues found it necessary to continue their struggle by other means. House was part of a cabal called "The Inquiry," a group of 100 "forward-looking" social engineers who created the Versailles Peace Treaty at the close of World War I. This group formed the nucleus of the Institute of International Affairs, which was to have branches in New York and London -- the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) and the Royal Institute of International Affairs, respectively. This is the basis of the "Anglophile network" described by historian Carroll Quigley in his 1966 book Tragedy and Hope: A History of the World in Our Time. *

Although Quigley offered in Tragedy and Hope the de rigueur dismissals of "conspiracy theories," he did offer some significant admissions:

There does exist, and has existed for a generation, an international Anglophile network which operates, to some extent, in the way the radical Right believes the Communists act. In fact, this network, which we may identify as the Round Table Groups, has no aversion to cooperating with the Communists, or any other groups, and frequently does so. I know of the operations of this network because I have studied it for twenty years and was permitted for two years, in the early 1960s, to examine its papers and secret records.

The Round Table Groups, which were "semi-secret discussion and lobbying groups," were created to help "federate the English-speaking world along lines laid down by Cecil Rhodes...." The American affiliate of this network, wrote Quigley, "was known as the Council on Foreign Relations...." Although he did not endorse all of that network's designs or decisions, Quigley was generally supportive of its ends, stating that "my chief difference of opinion is that it wishes to remain unknown, and I believe its role in history is significant enough to be known."

It was this network, according to Quigley, that "provided much of the framework of influence which the Communist sympathizers and fellow travellers took over in the United States in the 1930s. It must be recognized that the power that these energetic Left-wingers exercised was never their own power or Communist power but was ultimately the power of the international financial coterie...."

Quigley noted that the workings of this elite were partially revealed by congressional investigators in the 1950s who, "following backward to their source the threads which led from admitted Communists like Whittaker Chambers, through Alger Hiss and the Carnegie Endowment to Thomas Lamont and the Morgan Bank, fell into the whole complicated network of the interlocking tax-exempt foundations."

The subversive "network of interlocking tax-exempt foundations," through which the moneyed elite has funded the efforts of "energetic left-wingers," is a fulfillment of one of House's Philip Dru prophecies: "[I]t will be the educated and rich, in fact the ones that are now the most selfish, that will be in the vanguard of the procession. They will be the first to realize the joy of it all [i.e., constructing world socialism], and in this way they will redeem the sins of their ancestors." Of course, that "redemption" is to be accomplished by seizing total power in the name of "social justice," "world stability," or some other grand abstraction -- and that seizure will be paid for by the money, liberty, and lives of the less fortunate.
The Power Elite

Although Quigley enjoyed unique access to the formal records of the "Anglophile network," he is not the only academic who has documented its existence and methods. In a study entitled The Power Elite, published 40 years ago, Columbia University sociologist C. Wright Mills sought to dismiss the "conspiracy theory" of modern political history -- even as he vindicated the essential claims of the conspiratorial perspective. Although Mills claimed to find no conspirators in high places, he nonetheless admitted, "There is ... little doubt that the American power elite -- which contains, we are told, some of 'the greatest organizers in the world' -- has ... planned and plotted." He recognized the existence of a definable network joining elites in politics, academia, the military, the media, and foundations, and admitted, "Certain types of men from each of the dominant institutional areas, more far-sighted than others, have actively promoted the liaison before it took its truly modern shape."

While many elements of this network are visible and identifiable, according to Mills, "the power elite is not altogether 'surfaced.'... Many higher events that would reveal the working of the power elite can be withheld from public knowledge under the guise of secrecy. With the wide secrecy covering their operations and decisions, the power elite can mask their intentions, operations, and further consolidation."

Furthermore, Mills noted, the power elite provides for its own continuity, and "new men come readily into it and assume its existence without question." The continuity of this elite was examined by historian Michael H. Hunt in his 1987 study Ideology and U.S. Foreign Policy. Hunt described the typical member of the Eastern Seaboard "anglophile" elite into whose hands American foreign policy has been trusted for more than seven decades: "His formal education [comes from] private schools and Ivy League colleges and law schools.... He practiced corporate law until gaining public office, usually by appointment. His soundness on foreign-policy questions was insured by the values inculcated in elite social circles, in exclusive schools and in establishment clubs and organizations of which the Council on Foreign Relations ... was the most important."
More Than a Club

But the CFR is more than a mere "establishment club"; it is, in the words of Washington Post ombudsman Richard Harwood, "the nearest thing we have to a ruling establishment in the United States." Writing in the October 30, 1993 issue of the Post, Harwood observed:

The president is a member. So is his secretary of state, the deputy secretary of state, all five of the undersecretaries, several of the assistant secretaries and the department's legal adviser. The president's national security adviser and his deputy are members. The director of Central Intelligence (like all previous directors) and the chairman of the Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board are members. The secretary of defense, three undersecretaries and at least four assistant secretaries are members. The secretaries of the departments of housing and urban development, interior, health and human services and the chief White House public relations man ... along with the speaker of the House [are members]....

This is not a retinue of people who "look like America," as the President once put it, but they very definitely look like the people who, for more than half a century, have managed our international affairs and our military-industrial complex.

Were the CFR an organization numbering in the millions, the state of affairs described by Harwood might not be so peculiar. However, the dominance exercised by an organization whose membership numbers approximately 3,000 cannot be mere coincidence, and, as the chart on pages 20-21 illustrates, the present dominance of the CFR in government has been consistent for more than half a century. In addition, CFR members hold important positions in the tax-exempt foundations, the media, etc.
Goal: Global Government

The CFR's representatives and spokesmen insist that the group is a scrupulously nonpartisan "discussion group." Former CFR President Winston Lord once stated that "the charter of the Council on Foreign Relations is ultimately to help check 'momentary passion' and shape a 'mature design' for America's place in the world." However, commentator Joseph Kraft (CFR), who referred to the CFR as a "school for statesmen," pointed out that the organization "has been the seat of some basic government decisions, [and] has set the context for many more...." In 1953, the congressional Reece Committee (which was created to investigate tax-exempt foundations) concluded that the CFR is "in essence an agency of the United States government" and that its influence is "not objective but [rather] directed overwhelmingly at promoting the globalist concept."

Admiral Chester Ward, who served as Judge Advocate General for the Navy and was a member of the CFR for 16 years, offered a more emphatic denunciation of the group, testifying that the CFR was created for the "purpose of promoting disarmament and submergence of U.S. sovereignty and national independence into an all-powerful one-world government." He noted that "this lust to surrender the sovereignty and independence of the United States is pervasive throughout most of the membership.... The majority visualize the utopian submergence of the United States as a subsidiary administrative unit of a global government...."
Shaping a Consensus

Admiral Ward, like Carroll Quigley and C. Wright Mills, was careful to point out that the CFR is not the Conspiracy: "[The] CFR, as such, does not write the platforms of both political parties or select their respective presidential candidates, or control U.S. defense and foreign policies. But CFR members, as individuals, acting in concert with other individual CFR members, do."

This process has been described by Harvard Business School Professor George C. Lodge, who is himself a member of the CFR and a trustee of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Lodge writes that there are "energetic and creative individuals in government, interest groups, and corporations [who] are quietly assembling global arrangements to deal with crises and tensions. For the most part, they work outside of legislatures and parliaments and are screened from the glare of the media in order to find common interests, shape a consensus, and persuade those with power to change."

It is in this role of shaping a "consensus" that the CFR exercises its power. As James Perloff noted in The Shadows of Power, the definitive survey of the history and purposes of the Council on Foreign Relations, the CFR "is not the Establishment, but a surface component of it. Nor is it a theater of illegitimate activities; it publishes an annual report in which it makes a good account of its finances, and generally it maintains the trappings of a public-spirited institution. Behind all of this, however, is a movement to effect a new world order."

* Quigley, a Harvard-trained historian who died in 1977, was the subject of a personal tribute during Bill Clinton's acceptance speech at the 1992 Democratic Party Convention. Recalling the "sumons to citizenship" he had received from John F. Kennedy, Clinton said that "as a student at Georgetown, I heard that call clarified by a professor I had named Carroll Quigley...." Both Tragedy and Hope and Quigley's much more important posthumous study The Anglo-American Establishment are now available.

Tracking the Trilateral Commission

In March 1972, David Rockefeller, who at the time was the chairman of both the Chase Manhattan Bank and the Council on Foreign Relations, succumbed to a prolonged fit of idealism. In three separate speeches he described his vision of an "international commission for peace and prosperity" -- a "private organization whose primary objective ... would be to bring the best brains in the world to bear on the problems of the future. This organization would examine the interrelationships between domestic and foreign preoccupations, study new approaches to the transfer of 'social technologies,' and hopefully come up with fresh insights on how we deal with common problems." Rockefeller proposed that this commission include "a governing board of, say, 30 to 40 leading private citizens, drawn from the Atlantic Alliance nations and Japan." The guiding objective of this brain trust would be nothing less than "to rebuild the conceptual framework of foreign and domestic policies."

Rockefeller's speeches merely elaborated on proposals offered in Between Two Ages: America's Role in the Technetronic Era, which was published in 1970 by Columbia University Professor Zbigniew Brzezinski (CFR). In that volume Brzezinski insisted that "a community of developed nations must eventually be formed if the world is to respond effectively to increasingly serious crises...."

Furthermore, wrote Brzezinski, since "the emerging community of developed nations would require some institutional expression," it would be necessary to set up "a high-level consultative council for global cooperation [along with] some permanent supporting machinery [to] provide continuity to these consultations." Although the council, as foreshadowed in Between Two Ages, would initially link only the United States, Japan, and Western Europe, it would eventually "embrace the Atlantic states [and] the more advanced European communist states...." Participating nations would grow increasingly interdependent "through a variety of indirect ties and already developing limitations on national sovereignty."

In 1973 the joint vision of Rockefeller and Brzezinski was realized with the creation of the Trilateral Commission (TC), an assembly of elites from North America, Western Europe, and Japan. Appropriately, Brzezinski was appointed to be the TC's first director. In purpose and composition, the TC is an international version of its immediate progenitor, the Council on Foreign Relations.

The TC's membership includes roughly 100 members from each of the trilateral regions, and its roster is studded with the names of the wealthy, powerful, and influential. Three of the last four U.S. Presidents -- Jimmy Carter, George Bush, and Bill Clinton -- have been Trilateral members. The "Former Members in Government Service" listed on the 1995 TC roster include Mr. Clinton, five Clinton Cabinet secretaries, four U.S. ambassadors, and eight under secretaries, assistant secretaries, or deputy secretaries.

Of course, TC spokesmen insist that the group's purposes are benign, and that it exercises its formidable influence only for good. In an interview published in May of this year, Rockefeller dismissed accusations that the TC is bent on subverting American liberty as "so absurd I can't help but, to some extent, find it amusing."

Perceptive observers are hardly amused that the Trilateral Commission's intellectual progenitor has expressed approval for the most malignant political philosophy in history -- Marxism. In Between Two Ages, Brzezinski wrote that Marxism "represents a further vital and creative stage in the maturing of man's universal vision ... a victory of reason over belief."

Speaking at Mikhail Gorbachev's State of the World Forum last October, Brzezinski restated the essence of the Trilateral approach: "We cannot leap into world government in one quick step.... [This objective] requires a process of gradually expanding the range of democratic cooperation ... a widening, step by step, stone by stone, [of] existing relatively narrow zones of stability.... [T]he precondition for eventual globalization -- genuine globalization -- is progressive regionalization, because thereby we move toward large, more stable, more cooperative units."

Step by step, stone by stone, the Trilateralists continue to "rebuild the conceptual framework" of world society.