Tag Archives: United States Constitution
He Gives Him An F
Tuesday, April 17, 2012 – by Ron Paul
Last week President Obama made some rather shocking comments at a press conference regarding the Supreme Court’s deliberation on the constitutionality of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare. His comments belie a grasp of constitutional concepts so lacking that perhaps the University of Chicago Law School should offer a refund to any students “taught” constitutional law by then-Professor Obama!
He said, “Ultimately, I’m confident that the Supreme Court will not take what would be an unprecedented, extraordinary step of overturning a law that was passed by a strong majority of a democratically elected Congress.” It almost sounds as if he believes the test of constitutionally is whether a majority approves of the bill, as opposed to whether the legislation lies within one of the express powers of the federal government. In fact, the very design of the Constitution, with power split amongst two branches of the legislature which write the laws, an executive who administers the laws and an independent judiciary which resolves disputes regarding meaning of the laws, was designed to thwart popular will and preserve liberty.
President Obama continued in his comments, “For years, what we’ve heard is the biggest problem on the bench was judicial activism or a lack of judicial restraint, that an unelected group of people would somehow overturn a duly constituted and passed law. Well, there’s a good example, and I’m pretty confident that this court will recognize that and not take that step.”
President Obama seems to misunderstand that the criticism of an activist judiciary is not that it is overturning unconstitutional federal laws, but instead that it is usurping the authority to intervene in areas, such as abortion, where the Constitution reserves authority to the states. In fact, upholding clearly unconstitutional laws such as Obamacare because the justices bowed to the “will of the people” or believed the individual mandate was good social policy could be considered an example of judicial activism.
The founders never intended the judiciary to have the last word on whether or not a law is constitutional. The judiciary is equal to the Congress and the President, not superior. Representatives, senators, presidents and judges all have an independent duty to determine a law’s constitutionality. The founders would be horrified by the attitude of many lawmakers that they can pass whatever laws they want and federal judges will then determine whether or not the law is constitutional.
Additionally, state governments have the authority to protect their citizens from federal laws that threaten liberty. If the Supreme Court rules that Obamacare is constitutional, I hope state legislators will exercise their powers to pass legislation allowing their citizens to opt-out of the national health care plan.
Unfortunately, even many of my colleagues who correctly argue Obamacare’s unconstitutionality support the President when he asserts the power to send troops into battle without a declaration of war, or have citizens indefinitely detained and even assassinated on little more than his own authority. Other of my colleagues not only cheer the unconstitutional monstrosity of Obamacare, but support the President’s actions to defy the Senate’s appointment powers, and legislate by executive order.
Even worse, some members will only challenge a president’s unconstitutional actions if the president is from a different political party. The defeat of Obamacare in the courts would provide a stark reminder that the limits of government are set by the Constitution, not the will of the president, Congress, or even the Supreme Court. However, the victory would be short-lived as long as the legislative branch refuses to do its duty to abide by the constitutional limits and exercises its powers to ensure the other two branches do likewise.
Original Article: http://www.thedailybell.com/3800/Ron-Paul-Professor-Obama-Gets-an-F
by C.J. Maloney
by CJ Maloney
Recently by CJ Maloney: Count Our Holiday Blessings: At Least We’re Not Starving
Is it possible The People should ever be their own enemies?
~ Fischer Ames (1805)
Remember the “Ground Zero Mosque” controversy? It took place last summer in New York City when some people – with no sense of how a democracy works – had the foolish notion to build on property they owned an Islamic cultural center to worship God as they pleased. In both Constitutional law and simple humanity they were well within their rights but their proposed location was, unfortunately, just two blocks from where the Twin Towers once stood. Crushed under a wave of populist indignation, the Islamic center has yet to be built.
Admittedly I hadn’t thought about it in some time, and would gather that most New Yorkers hadn’t thought about the “Ground Zero Mosque,” either, since the tabloids stopped telling us to think about it. The angry mobs that once gathered outside the proposed location have taken their pitchforks and torches and run off toward other distractions. (Call of Duty: Black Ops was released, for one.) Now emotions lay at low tide, all is calm. So it’s time to take stock of what it cost us.
The fact that a most basic human right – to worship in peace as you please – came under blatant assault in America, in our greatest, most liberal city no less, is tragic but predictable. This is what you get from nine (and counting) years of living under endless war, breathing the harsh, poisonous air of an increasingly militarized society, and the effects were shown in the tepid defense my great state’s political grandees’ offered in response to this populist rejection of religious freedom.
The political leaders of New York were, with but rare exception, either outright scoundrels or mealy-mouthed cowards. Steve Israel, my local House representative, took a few moments to defend our Constitution in a fuzzy, kind of, sort of way that characterizes those without any spine. “While they have a constitutional right to build the mosque,” he began (and history would be kinder to him had he stopped there), “it would be better if they had demonstrated more sensitivity to the families of 9/11 victims.”
So there we have it. Our Constitution, Israel laments, is too insensitive. Freedom isn’t free, the saying goes, and here Israel is unwilling to pay even the price of hurt feelings. Mr. Israel’s feeble gesture sums up all that New York’s timid Congressional representatives could muster in defense of religious freedom; highlights how bereft our leaders are of any courage to stand up to a howling mob.
The farce deepened as the one politician who came out the hero of this sad tale was none other than the Golden Tongue himself, Barack Obama, a man not exactly known for political courage. “In this country we treat everybody equally and in accordance with the law, regardless of race, regardless of religion. I was not commenting and I will not comment on the wisdom of making the decision to put a mosque there. I was commenting very specifically on the right people have that dates back to our founding.” For once I applauded the man and realized I was wrong about one thing – he has read the Constitution.
The entire sad episode of the “Ground Zero Mosque” gave warning that democracy is no bulwark for liberty; it never has been and cannot be. I look at America today and see the wisdom in Bertrand de Jouvenel’s assertion that democracy is “the time of tyranny’s incubation.” (de Jouvenel, 1978, 15) Americans have forgotten to remember that Hitler – who was elected – is not only a symbol of the vile Holocaust but of sweet democracy, too.
Like many of our ancestors these newly arrived Muslim immigrants pinned their hopes on America’s reputation as a nation of law and not of men but found, in this case, that reputation to be far short to its reality. Today, America’s reality starts for the Muslim immigrant as soon as they disembark onto freedom’s golden shores.
Where once our forefathers, upon entry into New York harbor, came up from steerage to gather on the ship’s deck and watch the Statue of Liberty slide by, today’s immigrants come through an airport. What do they think when they first spot a line of freedom-loving Americans, standing meek with shoes in hand and pants around the ankles as surly TSA agents bark orders and jam their hands into our crotch? Do any of them take a moment to think about the lawlessness they had fled and wonder, “Why did I bother?”
Don’t be alarmed, new Muslim-Americans, all you see and hear about you is from what democracy is made! As H.L. Mencken noted long ago, a citizen of a democracy will be met everywhere by “an assumption of his disingenuousness and dishonour.” (Mencken, 2009, 156) So take off your sandals, lift your robe, and wait for Uncle Sam’s frisk.
I don’t claim this anti-Muslim populism to be anything unusual. History tells us that all human societies need a dog to kick. Without exception every race and nationality has been through the ringer at one time or another and, also without exception, every race and nationality has behaved like a beast when given the opportunity to pummel some minority in their midst. Every dog has its day, and every society has its dog. Current dog in America are Muslims within our borders. Native born or no, these poor people now find themselves cursed to be Muslim in a land that doesn’t want them.
James Madison once looked about him at 1774 Virginia and its wave of religious persecutions and exclaimed that he had “nothing to brag of as to the State and Liberty of my country…that diabolical Hell conceived principle of persecution rages among some.” Now, over two hundred years on, some Texas Congressman named John Cornyn declared of President Obama’s defense of religious freedom “the president himself seems to be disconnected from the mainstream of America.” No truer words can be said of 2010 America. Democracy has spoken; The People have made themselves heard. Freedom of religion is conditional upon the mob’s approval, the Constitution be damned.
As things currently stand any Muslim who comes to America in search of freedom is to be pitied – they are like a drowning sailor climbing into a sinking lifeboat.
Mencken, H.L. Notes on Democracy (Dissident Books, New York, 2009)
De Jouvenel, Bertrand. On Power: The Natural History of Its Growth (Liberty Fund, Indianapolis, IN, 1975)
December 24, 2010
CJ Maloney [send him mail] lives and works in New York City. He blogs for Liberty & Power on the History News Network website and the DailyKos. His first book Back to the Land (Arthurdale, FDR’s New Deal, and the Costs of Economic Planning) is to be released by John Wiley and Sons in February 2011.
Copyright © 2010 by LewRockwell.com. Permission to reprint in whole or in part is gladly granted, provided full credit is given.
by Thomas J. DiLorenzo
by Thomas J. DiLorenzo
Recently by Thomas DiLorenzo: The Most Cynical and Hypocritical Speech Ever Delivered
At the outset of the War to Prevent Southern Independence both Abraham Lincoln and the U.S. Congress declared publicly that the sole purpose of the war was to save the union and not to interfere with Southern slavery. Lincoln himself stated this very clearly in his first inaugural address and in many other places. This fact bothers the court historians of the Lincoln cult who have in the past forty years rewritten American history to suggest that slavery was the sole cause of the war. (A generation ago, if one took a college course on “the Civil War” it was likely that one would have read The Causes of the Civil Warby Kenneth Stampp, a former president of the American Historical Association.)
The latest attempt to rewrite or whitewash history comes from one Richard Striner in a December 13 New York Times article entitled “How Lincoln Undid the Union.” The gist of Striner’s argument is that: 1) a compromise to save the union was in the works in Washington in December of 1860; but 2) Lincoln persuaded key members of the Republican Party to oppose it because it might not have prohibited the extension of slavery into the new territories, a key feature of the 1860 Republican Party platform. Lincoln wanted to save the union, says Striner, but he wanted a union that would put slavery “on the path to extinction.”
What rubbish. The notion that prohibiting the extension of slavery would somehow magically cause the end of Southern slavery has always been totally nonsensical. As University of Virginia Historian Michael Holt wrote in his book, Fate of Their Country(p. 27), “Modern economic historians have demonstrated that this assumption was false.” It is every bit as nonsensical as Lincoln’s crazy assertion that the extension of slavery into the Territories would have somehow led to the re-introduction of slavery into Maine, Massachusetts, and other states that had legally abolished slavery! (He ludicrously said that a nation “could not exist” half slave and half free). It is hard to believe that rational human beings ever believed such things. It is unlikely that many Americans of Lincoln’s time did.
Striner pretends to be able to read Lincoln’s mind when he speculates that his motivation was to put slavery “on the road to extinction.” He does not quote Lincoln himself as saying that this was his motivation; he merely speculates and fabricates a story. But Lincoln and other prominent Republicans did in fact state very clearly what their motivation was. There is no need to speculate. As Professor Holt, the history profession’s preeminent expert on the politics of the antebellum era wrote: “Many northern whites also wanted to keep slaves out of the West in order to keep blacks out. The North was a pervasively racist society where free blacks suffered social, economic, and political discrimination . . . . Bigots, they sought to bar African-American slaves from the West.” Lincoln himself clearly stated that “we” want the Territories “for free white labor.”
Thus, part of Lincoln’s motivation for opposing the extension of slavery – but making an ironclad defense of Southern slavery in his first inaugural address – was pandering to northern white supremacist voters (like himself) who did not want any blacks – free or slave – living among them. There was also a protectionist motivation, as the Republican Party wanted to prohibit competition for jobs from all blacks, free or slave. Illinois – Land of Lincoln – even amended its Constitution in 1848 to prohibit the emigration of black people into the state, a position that was endorsed by Lincoln. (Lincoln was also a “manager” of the Illinois Colonization Society, which sought to usestate tax funds to deport the small number of free blacks who resided in the state.)
A third motivation for Lincoln’s opposition to slavery extension was purely political. If slaves entered the Territories, they would inflate the congressional representation of the Democratic Party when the Territories became states because of the Three-Fifths Clause of the Constitution. That in turn – and most importantly – would block the Republican Party’s economic agenda. Professor Holt quotes Ohio Congressman Joshua R. Giddings (p. 28) on this point: “To give the south the preponderance of political power would be itself a surrender of our tariff, our internal improvements, our distribution of proceeds of public lands . . . . It is the most abominable proposition with which a free people were ever insulted.” It would destroy everything the Republican Party claimed to stand for, in other words, i.e., mercantilist economics. This is the real reason why Lincoln was so adamant about opposing the extension of slavery into the territories.
Besides his demonstrably false, speculative fantasies about Lincoln’s supposedly saintly motivations, Striner presents a very distorted and misleading account of the events of late 1860–early 1861. He quotes a private letter from Lincoln expressing his opposition to the particular compromise to save the union that was being sponsored by Senator John J. Crittenden of Kentucky at the time, but makes no mention of Lincoln’s own “compromise” that was also in the works. The high priestess of the Lincoln Cult, Doris Kearns-Goodwin, describes Lincoln’s compromise on page 296 of her book, Team of Rivals. As soon as he was elected, Lincoln “instructed [William] Seward to introduce [the Corwin Amendment to the Constitution] in the Senate Committee of Thirteen without indicating they issued from Springfield.” The Corwin Amendment, which did pass the House and Senate, would have prohibited the federal government from ever interfering with Southern slavery. As Goodwin writes, Lincoln instructed Seward to make sure that the amendment said that “the Constitution should never be altered so as to authorize Congress to abolish or interfere with slavery in the states” where it existed. In addition, writes Goodwin, Lincoln instructed Seward, who would become his Secretary of State, to get a federal law introduced that would have made various personal liberty laws that existed in some Northern states illegal. These state laws were meant to nullify the federal Fugitive Slave Act, an act that Lincoln very strongly supported. Far from putting slavery “on the path to extinction,” these actions of Lincoln’s would have granted it more powerful government support than ever. Thus, Lincoln’s actions in late 1860–early 1861 were exactly the opposite of how Professor Striner portrays them as being with regard to the issue of slavery.
The white supremacists of the North were very pleased indeed with Lincoln’s assurances that he would do all that he could to prohibit black people from ever living among them, first by keeping them out of the Territories, and second by enshrining Southern slavery explicitly in the Constitution. He effectively promised to keep black people far away from such places as Boston, Massachusetts. Goodwin writes that when Seward went public and announced these actions to a Boston audience he was met with “thunderous applause.”
On March 4, 1861, Lincoln praised the Corwin Amendment in his first inaugural address, offered his support of it, and said that while he believed slavery to already be constitutional, he had no reservations about making it “express and irrevocable” in the text of the U.S. Constitution.
These actual historical facts paint a very different picture of Lincoln’s machinations from the one based on Professor Striner’s baseless speculations and historical distortions. More disturbingly, Professor Striner, like all other Lincoln cultists, makes no mention at all of the fact that Lincoln’s actions led to the mass murder of some 350,000 fellow American citizens, including more than 50,000 Southern civilians, along with an equivalent number of Northern war deaths. While virtually all the rest of the world had ended – or was in the process of ending – slavery peacefully, Lincoln cultists actually praise Lincoln for eschewing that well-charted peaceful route to emancipation while plunging his country into the bloodiest war in human history up to that point to supposedly “save the union.” There is something awfully sick (and sickening) about this.
December 16, 2010
Thomas J. DiLorenzo [send him mail] is professor of economics at Loyola College in Maryland and the author of The Real Lincoln; Lincoln Unmasked: What You’re Not Supposed To Know about Dishonest Abe and How Capitalism Saved America.His latest book is Hamilton’s Curse: How Jefferson’s Archenemy Betrayed the American Revolution – And What It Means for America Today.
Copyright © 2010 by LewRockwell.com. Permission to reprint in whole or in part is gladly granted, provided full credit is given.
- Does the Lincoln Nonsense Never End? (lewrockwell.com)
- How Lincoln Undid the Union (opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com)
- Cynical and Hypocritical Abe (lewrockwell.com)
- The First Dictator-President (lewrockwell.com)
- The Real Jefferson by Thomas DiLorenzo (gunnyg.wordpress.com)
- The Most Cynical and Hypocritical Speech Ever Delivered by Thomas J. DiLorenzo (gunnyg.wordpress.com)
I must say that I didn’t always feel this way, but I am now truly sick of hearing every day about how we should uphold, defend, and worship the U.S. Constitution. Yes, I am aware that if it were followed to the letter that we would all be somewhat better off, but was that ever the real intent? I think not.
As I perused an article recently in the Christian Science Monitor titled “Why Do Americans Get the Constitution So Wrong” by Lion Calandra, I thought it was time to expose some of the misconceptions about our so-called reverent “founding” document. The first few words of that article set the stage for my rant.
The opening statement: “On this day, 223 years ago, the U.S. Constitution was born, giving Americans the freedoms that they hold dear, the freedoms that men and women have died to defend.”
Obviously, the author also got it wrong, because everything in the above sentence is patently false. Our freedoms did not come from any political class or due to any drafting of a political document. Our rights and freedoms are God-given and inherent. They are natural human rights, and cannot be bestowed by men! Our natural rights to life, liberty, and property encompass all others; this a fact barely acknowledged by most. Without the right to life and liberty, no other right can exist. With the right to life and liberty, all other rights are evident.
Also, the notion that men and women died to defend our freedoms can only be correct if one considers those very few who have died fighting against our own federal government’s encroachment against liberty. If the intent here is to laud those who died in warfare, then again, the author is completely wrong. Those who fight in wars are defending and serving the government, and therefore are harming freedom, not protecting it. This may seem a harsh statement to some, but it is this truth that escapes almost all Americans. If more understood this, we would all be much better off. War is the health of the state, and therefore is antithetical to freedom. U.S. wars are directly responsible for a more powerful government and less freedom; the opposite of what is taught in the government-run schools, and what political pundits constantly spew.
Why was the current U.S. constitution drafted and ratified in the first place? Was it because our founders believed that they were doing more to protect liberty? Did they think that this particular document would serve to expand and protect our freedoms? Were the Articles of Confederation, our constitution at the time, anti-freedom or inadequate? Did that constitution allow the federal government more or less power than the new one?
If one answers these questions honestly, many other questions will arise, and the answers to those questions may cause resentment to replace respect. In fact, our current constitution greatly expanded government power over the people, not the other way around, as most believe. Just consider one example: In the Articles of Confederation the federal government had no power to lay and collect (by force) taxes. Any money needed had to come voluntarily from the individual states. In Article 1, Section 8 of our current constitution, the federal government has virtually an unlimited power to tax. This fact alone should have been reason enough to not ratify the constitution 223 years ago. Of course, most of the rest of those powers given to Congress in Article 1, Section 8 should have also caused great concern for anyone sympathetic to liberty.
The Anti-federalists had it right all along. The Articles of Confederation were certainly not perfect, but that constitution was a damn sight better than the one we have now. One single reading of Article 1, Section 8 of the current U.S. Constitution should literally scare the living daylights out of all who believe in freedom and liberty. In my opinion, Hamilton and his followers were able to fool and then co-opt enough of the political leaders of the time to bring about a massive change; a change that ushered in a much more powerful central governing system. This was entirely by design in my opinion, and was never intended to advance and protect the freedom of the individual. Had that been the case, slavery would never have been sanctioned by that same document. Why this system is so revered is beyond me. It can only be due to long-term indoctrination. I have been told since childhood of the greatness of the constitution by peers, by the school system, by politicians, by the media, and by virtually everyone else able to utter the spoken word. Considering this, it is no wonder that this mediocre document is worshiped by so many.
It should be obvious that I am not attempting to fully explain or outline the constitution, nor am I attempting to put forth any expert legal opinion concerning it. This has been done over and over again. I am simply pointing out that this supreme law of the United States is not what it seems. Things are always done for a reason, and in my opinion, the constitution was drafted so as to expand the powers of the national government, and weaken the powers held by the individual states and the people. This has certainly been the end result. I think it is important to remember that many of the founders of this country, while courageous in their fight to free themselves from English rule, were still politicians, and as such had their own agendas. These agendas did not always run parallel with individual freedom, especially considering the Hamiltonians. While this may be hard to swallow for some, it is nonetheless true.
What does all this mean? In my mind, it simply means that a piece of paper does not freedom make. None of us gained freedom due to other men bestowing it upon us. None of us gained our freedom due to men drafting constitutional documents. We gain our freedom naturally at birth, and from that point forward, it is up to each individual to protect it. Freedom can only exist and thrive when individuals understand its importance and defend it at all costs. Not against monsters from abroad as is the opinion of most, but against our own government. No constitution can accomplish this, and any constitution is worthless without the ideas of freedom and liberty living in the hearts and minds of individuals willing to force its compliance. There are some who have the freedom philosophy living in their hearts and minds, but there are very few who are willing to risk all to fight for it. This dynamic will have to change before we again become truly free of this now tyrannical government.
I think the time has come for all of us to reevaluate the meaning of freedom. Freedom comes from within and is natural to the human species. Men cannot give freedom but men can take it away. All government operates by force, and force is the absolute opposite of freedom. Government is never a friend to liberty, so government should be held back and controlled. If some set of rules such as a constitution is the desired vehicle to accomplish order, then those set of rules should not only be strict and limited, but enforced by the people themselves. Without this control, we end up in 2010 America.
The following excerpt from Human Action thoroughly illustrates the antagonism between freedom and government:
It is important to remember that government interference always means either violent action or the threat of such action. The funds that a government spends for whatever purposes are levied by taxation. And taxes are paid because the taxpayers are afraid of offering resistance to the tax gatherers. They know that any disobedience or resistance is hopeless. As long as this is the state of affairs, the government is able to collect the money that it wants to spend. Government is in the last resort the employment of armed men, of policemen, gendarmes, soldiers, prison guards, and hangmen. The essential feature of government is the enforcement of its decrees by beating, killing, and imprisoning. Those who are asking for more government interference are asking ultimately for more compulsion and less freedom.
I will put my faith in God, not men. I will have faith in freedom, not constitutions. Our salvation and return to liberty lies not in faith in men residing in the halls of congress, but in our belief in us as free and sovereign individuals.
September 25, 2010
Gary D. Barnett [send him mail] is president of Barnett Financial Services, Inc., in Lewistown, Montana.
Copyright © 2010 by LewRockwell.com. Permission to reprint in whole or in part is gladly granted, provided full credit is given.