Sunday, December 30, 2007

AFB Housecleaning

You'll see some changes to the blog if you're paying attention. First, the blogroll is now properly called a "blogroll." So, these are just some good blogs, listed alphabetically, no longer noted as "recommended" lest I somehow open myself up to some sort of liability. More changes will be happening with that, I think I have more to add. I might also do away with the labels section. I can't say that I know if that's useful for searching for anyone other than the contributors to the blog... so speak up if you've got an opinion on that.

Second, hopefully I'll be unveiling some new content through a, let's say, side project.

Lastly, and if you hadn't known by now, my new title is going to be "King (or Monarch of Some Title) of Side Projects." In addition to the project just mentioned above, there's yet another one. BTW, I always hated when I'd hear that musicians would be working on side projects. Why not stick to your main group, I'd wonder. So here I am, diverting my time and energy even more. What can I say? I'm a man of many interests, even if not a whole lot of time. Curious? Well, check out the blogroll!

Friday, December 28, 2007

It's Called a Veto

Among the many stories of yesterday's big news day, there was this story, that President Bush signed a massive $555 billion spending bill.

Most interesting part of the report?

"I am disappointed in the way the Congress compiled this legislation, including abandoning the goal I set early this year to reduce the number and cost of earmarks by half," the president said in a statement. "Instead, the Congress dropped into the bill nearly 9,800 earmarks that total more than $10 billion. These projects are not funded through a merit-based process and provide a vehicle for wasteful government spending."

"There is still more to be done to rein in government spending," Bush said. "In February I will submit my budget proposal for fiscal year 2009, which will once again restrain spending, keep taxes low, and continue us on a path towards a balanced budget. I look forward to working with the Congress in the coming year to ensure taxpayer dollars are spent wisely."

A Bush spokesman, Scott Stanzel, had told reporters en route to Texas earlier that the president remained concerned about "Congress' addiction to earmarks."

Of course, that's Washington, George. We're mired in an obscene state of imbalance.

By contrast, this is George Washington:

I give my signature to many Bills with which my Judgment is at variance.... From the Nature of the Constitution, I must approve all parts of a Bill, or reject it in total. To do the latter can only be Justified upon the clear and obvious grounds of propriety; and I never had such confidence in my own faculty of judging as to be over tenacious of the opinions I may have imbibed in doubtful cases.
Reference: The Writings of George Washington, Fitzpatrick, ed., vol. 33 (96)

Are the grounds of propriety unclear? Bush knows - or he should - what the appropriate limits of federal involvement are. What would happen if he vetoed, and vetoed, and vetoed... would the Congress eventually override him? Send him more reasonable legislation? I think the latter is more likely than the former, but either option is preferable to out-of-control growth in the most distant levels of government.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

The Best "Best of 2007"

It never fails that we get to this time of year and people everywhere, including, yes, yours truly, start getting pensive. While it is natural to get reflective as the calendar draws to a close, I'm always disappointed by the utterly stupid "best of" lists and "news" pieces that come out at the end of the year. Remember when Britney shaved her head?? Wasn't that weird?? Ugh, it's stuff like that which leaves me thinking longingly about moving to Montana and becoming a recluse.

Except of course, when there's a really good "best of", like you can read here by the incomparable Michelle Malkin.

Funny, isn't it, how Iraq was going to be THE story this election season. The Dhimmicrats pinned their hopes on it. Now... not looking like there's any news to report, is there? All of which stands as a stinging indictment of the American Left and their ideological brethren in the MSM (did we need any more evidence?). The calculus is pretty simple for these traitors. Bad things happen to America = news. Good things happen to America = keep that quiet.

Something's Wrong With This Picture

Not a lot of time, but I simply had to - had to, I tell you - put up something brief about this top story on Yahoo this morning.

Here's the really insane part:

None of the GOP candidates has reason to feel secure, according to an ongoing national survey conducted for The Associated Press and Yahoo! News.

That includes Mike Huckabee, who has roared to a tie with longtime front-runner Rudy Giuliani. Half of all voters — including four in 10 Republicans — know too little about Huckabee to even say whether they have a favorable impression of him, let alone whether he is conservative, liberal or moderate.(emphasis mine)

So fully 40% of GOP voters no nothing about this guy, and the same poll puts him on top at 22%?? The remaining are Rudy 21%; McCain 14%; Romney 13%; Thompson 11%. Anybody check to make sure they're not polling "Republicans" Lincoln Chafee, "Snarlin'" Arlen Specter and Jim Jeffords?

Monday, December 24, 2007

Christmas 2008

May God bless you and your loved ones this special season as we celebrate the birth of our savior and Lord Jesus Christ.

From Luke, Chapter 2:

The angel of the Lord appeared to them and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were struck with great fear. The angel said to them, "Do not be afraid; for behold, I proclaim to you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For today in the city of David a savior has been born for you who is Messiah and Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find an infant wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger." And suddenly there was a multitude of the heavenly host with the angel, praising God and saying:

"Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests."

Saturday, December 22, 2007

AFB Featured on Illinois Blog Alliance

My new colleague and all-around good guy Eric Odom has linked up the American Federalist Blog to the Illinois Blog Alliance. When we post here, it posts there; so while you can continue to tune in here for the red meat you've grown accustomed to, check out the Illinois Blog Alliance for some of its other (much better, I might suggest) bloggers.

Many thanks, Eric, and everyone check out the IBA for those featured blogs!

Okie Campaigns

My growing interest in all things Oklahoma coincides nicely with this blog I "found" called Okie Campaigns. Check it out, and especially this great post on tracking Santa and the fascinating history behind it.

Tancredo Withdraws from Race

Tom Tancredo dropped out of the race on Thursday - some old news that I'm finally getting around to posting something on. You can read the story here.

Interesting that he's throwing his support behind Romney. I think Romney needs guys like Tancredo. As a matter of fact, I think a Romney-Tancredo ticket would be pretty formidable. I think it'd be safe to say that such an administration would have the border and immigration as one of its top priorities, as it should be for any administration.

We've discussed before here and over at Webster's, immigration is probably the issue facing this country. It has enormous domestic implications; it has national security implications; and it on some level it addresses our long-term survival from a cultural standpoint.

That it has been a major issue thus far is thanks to the efforts of Tancredo, largely. The country owes him a debt of gratitude.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

The Stock Market Analogy

I got to thinking about term limits and recall provisions yesterday. The local city council was discussing an initiative to make provisions for recalling sitting city councilmen.

The analogy I came up with is the stock market; now this is a little stretch, so I'll ask you to bear with me. When you or I buy a stock, we're "voting" with our wallets, essentially. We think that giving our dollars to Exxon, or Altria, or whomever, is a better use of our dollars than what we could do with it. Investors expect an appreciation on their investment, and this can take the form of increased share value, a cash dividend, or both.

When you buy a stock - recall the voting interpretation - you keep it as long as it continues to do what you want it to: return value and justify your decision. If the stock loses value (or you lose faith in the company's management), you're free to dump it at any time, assuming of course that we're talking about widely-traded public companies for which there's almost always a market, even if a stock is declining. Only when the corporation is near-collapse does the market dry up, and if you're stuck, you're stuck.

Well, I got to thinking about recall provisions. This is your ability to "sell" your position. If your elected official isn't returning value - justifying your decision - you should be able to exit that position, so to speak. In this way, market accountability would reward good governors and punish bad ones. Naturally, to provide protection from simple partisan sniping, there would have to be a threshold for beginning a recall and making it valid. Nevertheless, I think the idea is a good one.

And here's where I may ruffle some feathers. I think term limits are a bad idea. We've discussed this at length in the past, but fundamentally, the right of the people to choose their governors is being infringed by instituting limits. Recall the stock market analogy. Suppose I have had my position in Exxon for about 5 years (this is roughly the case). Now imagine that I am compelled by statute to sell my position. The stock is doing great and I love it. Why should I be compelled to sell?

I think term limits are well-intentioned, but in the final analysis, inappropriate for liberty loving people in the long-term.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Subprime Solution

I should say "less than ideal" to be perfectly clear.

The Federal Reserve announced a "sweeping response" to the mortgage meltdown today; read the whole story here.

So, in summary, the Fed is acting to protect consumers from lenders who want to make them mortgages. Here's the key "reforms":

The proposal would restrict lenders from penalizing risky borrowers who pay loans off early, require lenders to make sure these borrowers set aside money to pay for taxes and insurance and bar lenders from making loans without proof of a borrower's income. It also would prohibit lenders from engaging in a pattern or practice of lending without considering a borrower's ability to repay a home loan from sources other than the home's value.

While we're at it, shouldn’t government, at some level, protect people from credit card offers? How about protection from signing up for the wrong insurance coverage? Or, a true scourge of our times, icy roads? Clearly, walking or driving this time of year is dangerous; are we to bear that risk all by ourselves?

I’ve bemoaned this problem before. But until we start to be self-governing once again, this is only going to get worse.

The State Says No

Is there any end to the interference in people’s lives? This rather innocent sounding story is another piece of evidence (we’re probably up to Prosecution Exhibit # 741,389 by this point) that the increasing growth of external government in Western Europe is bordering on the insane. And Democrats want us to be more like the Europeans?

Candidly, I think Friday is a stupid name. But I think the court interfering in people's lives to this degree is even stupider.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Oklahoma Video

Here's a video detailing more on the Paul Jacob indictment in Oklahoma.

Friday, December 14, 2007

What's Going on With Those Sooners?

I've been hearing a lot of things going on in Oklahoma these days. It sounds more and more like Oklahoma is the front line in some of the more pitched political battles going on across America.

I heard that there was a petition going around to end race-based preferences; you can learn more by clicking here.

Then, Paul Jacob, long-time political activist and defender of citizen's rights, was indicted for supporting a Taxpayer Bill of Rights.

Hopefully our brother Terry will keep us in the loop as he hears about these things going on in his home state.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

The Simple Things

I absolutely love stories like this. While this probably belongs on my personal page, I figured more people would see it here, so I'm asking forgiveness instead of permission, LOL.

Anyone who's spent time around babies will tell you that "they know." I'm fascinated that the researchers crafted the test as they did, and while not surprised, I'm delighted that the results seem to reinforce personal experience.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Book Review: Samuel Adams

I just finished the delightful Samuel Adams: Father of the American Revolution, by Mark Puls.

The book follows chronologically the life and political career of Samuel Adams. While he saved little, if any, of his letters and writings, we're able to see the man by the piecing together of letters from John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, and his Massachusetts friends and allies such as James Otis and Joseph Warren.

We're left with the image of a man so devoted to his countrymen and their cause that he suffered financial hardships, personal insults, and the wrath of the most powerful empire on earth, all without seeking glory or a simple thank-you. Some favorite parts of the book:

Adams, using the pen-name of Valerius Poplicola ("friend of the people") wrote: "Is it not high time for the people of this country explicitly to declare whether they will be freemen or slaves? It is an important question, which ought to be decided. It concerns us more than anything in this life."

A British Colonel, Fenton, sought out Adams with a discreet message: he would be richly rewarded and receive public advancement if he would cooperate. Fenton gave Adams this frank advice: he should not provoke his majesty any further. Adams replied: "Sir, I trust I have long since made my peace with the king of kings. No personal consideration shall induce me to abandon the righteous cause of my country. Tell Governor Gage it is the advice of Samuel Adams to him no longer to insult the feelings of an exasperated people."

Oh! And this great story:

For several years, James Otis had been under the care of family in Andover, Massachusetts. He would often turn to his sister and say that "I hope when God Almighty in his providence shall take me out of time into eternity, it will be by a flash of lightning!" On May 23, 1783, a fierce thunderstorm characteristic of the early summer season in New England descended to darken the skies. Otis struggled to the door to behold the clashing elements and the exploding thunder, reminiscent of the cannon fire of the revolution. Between loud thunderclaps, a bolt of lightning, which Mercy thought appeared like a darting serpent, struck Otis in the chest. Electricity shot through his body, and he fell to the floor, dying instantly.

Overall, a well-done take on the "Father of the American Revolution." Arguably one of the most important of our founding fathers.

Imprimis - November 2007

As long as they keep sending me quality materials, I'm going to keep blogging on them.

"A Return to the Constitution" by Hillsdale President Larry Arnn is the title of the November edition of Imprimis. Read the whole thing here.

Mr. Arnn: while there is "no major national force, at least no political force, united to support constitutional government..." we're on our way to trying to bring that back in style. With a little time, a lot of hard work, and the blessings of Providence, we think the future looks pretty bright.

Those Hidden Costs

I had lunch with a gentleman I consider a friend last Friday. He's a libertarian, and a really sharp guy, and I always enjoy our discussions. Never heated, always challenging, he's fun to talk with about a wide range of topics. He routinely comes back to a topic that is near and dear to his heart: the hidden (and high) costs of regulation. Truly, there are numerous examples that would illustrate just how absurd this can be (witness that the government regulates how much water is in every flush of your toilet - assuming you're not living in an old house as I am).

Yet, I saw this article today, and read it mostly out of a desire to read something that would reinforce my thoughts on the disparity between our culture and that of China. And wouldn't you know it? I found something in common.

"The Qingping market is dirty," said a Guangzhou-born taxi driver, surnamed Mo. "It's dirty because it's old, and the government is unwilling to put up enough money to fix it."

Ah, yes, the ever-loving "government." Of course, as anyone who reads here knows, I am referring to the external variety. Like it or not, until we find a means of reintroducing the self-government gene to people, and since men aren't angels, we're going to require some external government.

And while my libertarian friend might cringe, this got me to thinking about the high costs of no regulations. Remember the SARS epidemic in 2002? The same article notes that 8,000 people worldwide were infected, and 800 died. Maybe SARS wasn't that deadly (sounds like the winner of the "worst slogan in the world" contest). But how about the next virus that springs up because of the filthy conditions in some of these markets?

All of which leads me back to familiar ground. Until someone can show me otherwise, balanced government remains the only means I have been able to discover that has the ability to revive self-government and ensure a rebirth of this Republic.

Friday, December 07, 2007

That Which Is Not Seen

Bush announced the other day a plan to "fix" (I use that word in the most unflattering of ways, such as: "there was no beating the house in Vegas because the games were fixed") the mortgage crisis in the United States.

A key part of the plan involves freezing interest rates on mortgages that were "teaser" rates to induce people to borrow (also called by their proper name, "adjustable rate mortgages").

(deep breath)

There's a lot being written about this. A rather favorable analysis can be read here, and a rather unfavorable one can be read here.

I can't help but wonder if there's a bigger issue, however. No surprise to anyone who reads this blog, but I immediately focused on the destructive way this plan affects self-government. If people aren't responsible for taking on enormous debt loads, what's to stop them from making other bad choices? If investment banks aren't responsible for trading in securities without accounting for the inherent risks in those securities, what's to stop them from making other bad investment decisions? And more importantly, is there any crisis that the government shouldn't bail people out of?

I have always remarked that one of the great things about the US economy is that we take our punishment. Unlike the Europeans or even the Japanese - who were mired in a decade-long recession - when we over-reach, we get beaten up and knocked down quickly. And hard. But we get back up. And we're stronger for it. But maybe not anymore. Maybe we're going the way of the Japanese or the Europeans. Time will tell, but I think this bail-out is a disaster on many levels, particularly those which are not readily seen.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Webster's On a Roll

Please go to Webster's blog and check out this post.

In fact, the most recent 2-3 posts are all very good. Looks like our friend Terry has been chomping at the bit to get these up.

I also noticed that one of his featured posts is my interview with Dr. Kevin Gutzman; thanks for the link-up, Terry.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Founding Brilliance

I love it when I get a hold of a quote like this that speaks to us so clearly as if to answer our problems. Courtesy of the Patriot Post:

"An elective despotism was not the government we fought for; but one in which the powers of government should be so divided and balanced among the several bodies of magistracy as that no one could transcend their legal limits without being effectually checked and restrained by the others."

-- James Madison (Federalist No. 58, 1788)

(Emphasis mine)

Saturday, December 01, 2007

On Virtue

I've been sitting on this quote for some time, as I tend to do, with the intention of posting something on the topic. Let's hear from Mr. Madison, courtesy of the Patriot Post:

"Is there no virtue among us? If there be not, we are in a wretched situation. No theoretical checks-no form of government can render us secure. To suppose that any form of government will secure liberty or happiness without any virtue in the people, is a chimerical idea, if there be sufficient virtue and intelligence in the community, it will be exercised in the selection of these men. So that we do not depend on their virtue, or put confidence in our rulers, but in the people who are to choose them."

-- James Madison (speech at the Virginia Ratifying Convention, 20 June 1788)

I find it natural that the Founding Generation was as concerned with virtue as they were; yet, sad that we seem to have departed so starkly from their example. Can you imagine a leading politician of our time exhorting the people on virtue? How soon would he or she be chastised? Or denounced as a "hypocrite" (one of the Left's favorite smears) because of something he or she had done in their life?

Another Founder famous for his opinion on the necessity of virtue is the second cousin of our second President. Says Samuel (from the FQD at the Patriot Post):

A general dissolution of principles and manners will more surely overthrow the liberties of America than the whole force of the common enemy. While the people are virtuous they cannot be subdued; but when once they lose their virtue then will be ready to surrender their liberties to the first external or internal invader.

Reference: The Writings of Samuel Adams, Cushing, ed., vol. 4 (124)

Note that he mentions "external or internal" threats. It is no secret to any of the regular readers here that I see the two biggest threats facing us to be the march of Liberalism and Islam; I wonder if we were as virtuous a society as the founding generation how we'd be handling these threats. Cowering in fear? Appeasing? Bowing before the commissars of political correctness?

Here's my take on that indispensable quality, virtue. We've discussed in prior posts what self-government is. I generally distill it to the dual virtues of self-restraint and self-sufficiency. Read the Founders and you'll realize that our form of government is created for a self-governing people. And that it's wholly inappropriate for a dependent people. Any wonder we're facing the problems governmental that we are?

But virtue isn't lost, and in fact, it may be making a comeback. Imagine my delight at this story from the Tribune about purity dances. Where families are strong and God is a part of the family, virtue seems to survive. Notwithstanding the usual sniping of the Left, such as this:

In this new counterculture, trouble-prone pop stars such as Britney Spears and Lindsay Lohan are outcasts. In their place, 1 in 6 teens are signing virginity pledges, though 88 percent of them break that vow before they marry, according to a federally funded national longitudinal study of adolescent health.
(emphasis mine)

Well, why bother, goes the logic of the Left, if they're just going to fail? Here's why: maybe aiming for purity doesn't guarantee success, but maybe young girls will enter marriage with fewer partners.

"Girls are going into marriage with 12 sexual relationships. That brings so much baggage and regret that it breaks down the marriage," said Janet Hellige, a volunteer who organizes the biannual Father-Daughter Purity Ball sponsored by The Christian Center in Peoria. "Girls have a wonderful gift to give, and we don't want them to give all of themselves away. What we want them to do is present themselves as a rose to their husband with no blemishes."

Virtue is indeed indispensable for healthy families and a free Republic. But don't count on your children hearing that from anybody other than you, their parent (or Aunt, Uncle, or other relative). It's incumbent upon us to ensure that our children have a moral, as well as an intellectual foundation before they go out into the world. I would submit that a child with no moral foundation is at a greater risk than a child who cannot read, yet you'll never see a "program" designed to correct the former deficiency.

Friday, November 30, 2007

The Organization That Never Quits

Clearly the best bang for my buck has been my membership in the Federalist Society. They keep hammering me with outstanding information, so I've got to share some of it with you.

First, this book is on my list. Judging by the brief description, it seems a must-have for every Originalist library. This list of mine, by the way, seems to be ever-expanding. Maybe one day I'll start making a dent, but I fear by then I'll have a positively Jeffersonian library, such that my heirs will not know what to do with it all.

Then, there's this, the recap of the National Lawyers Convention just held this month. Yeah, I know what you're thinking, but before you start in with the lawyer jokes, the theme this year was "Shining City Upon a Hill: American Exceptionalism." I tell you, I couldn't have written it better myself. Yes, and there is audio and video available for your enjoyment. I only hope that the Barbara K. Olson Lecture next year is as good - I hope to be there next year in person.

There's podcasts, a State Court watch, and I just got my issue of Engage in the mail. Guaranteed to be the best $50.00 you'll ever spend.

Sounds Like A Tyrant To Me

Of course, I'm kidding. Well, more accurately, I was being sarcastic. You see, Lincoln remains one of my favorite Presidents. Here's a quote from him I had e-mailed to me by a contact with the Federalist Society.

"If the policy of the government upon vital questions affecting the whole people is to be irrevocably fixed by decisions of the Supreme Court, ... the people will have ceased to be their own rulers, having to that extent practically resigned their government into the hands of that eminent tribunal."

-Abraham Lincoln (arguing for limiting the impact of the Dred Scott decision)

As we've discussed before, most recently here, it is the duty of all branches of government to uphold the Constitution. For that matter, it is the duty of each and every one of us citizens to do the same.

Ah, Here We Go Again - the "Youths"

The trouble with being busy is that you end up sitting on stories. The trouble with sitting on stories is that they get blogged about by writers better than you.

Nevertheless, I remain undaunted, if a little tardy on this post on the easily enraged "youths" in France.

You can read the BBC's take on the events in Villiers-Le Bel a town of 26,000, here.

It appears that there was an accident in which two teenagers died when their motorcycle hit a police cruiser. According to the BBC:

Relatives of the two dead teenagers insisted that police had rammed their motorcycle, and then abandoned them to die.

However, police say the motorcycle was going at top speed and was not registered for street use, while the two boys - who have been named only as Moushin, 15, and Larami, 16 - were not wearing helmets and had been ignoring traffic rules.

Moushin, huh? Sounds to me like some of those Irish youth who are always stirring up trouble all over Europe.

But most interesting is this article, which indicates that on average nearly 100 cars are burned every night in France. Did I read that right?

About 138 cars around France were burned overnight, which Ribeiro called almost "normal." Police say as many as 100 cars are burned every night around the country.

I shudder to think about what's going on when the burning of as many as 100 cars every night is considered normal. Just another jour in the life of the relig... nah, too easy.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

The GOP CNN/YouTube Debate

I missed the debate but read most of the transcript and heard quite a bit of the exchange in the car on talk radio this afternoon. The AP story is here.

There were some interesting things to take away from this debate. Like it or not, the conventional wisdom that the primary is becoming a two-man race might just be right if the degree of sparring is any indication. I like that the crowd booed Rudy - I think he's bad for conservatives.

I liked this exchange:

Mike Huckabee, who has also come under GOP criticism for some of his immigration policies while governor of Arkansas, defended benefits he supported for children of illegal immigrants, including allowing children to be eligible to apply for college scholarships.

"Are we going to say kids who are here illegally are going to get a special deal?" Romney asked.

Huckabee objected, saying the benefit was based on merit. "We are a better country than to punish children for what their parents did," he said.

And especially this, which Romney needed to say (and he may have to say it again):

"I was wrong, I was effectively pro-choice," said Romney, who has said he changed his stance in 2004 during debates on stem cell research. "On abortion, I was wrong."

"If people are looking for somebody in this country who has never made a mistake ... then they ought to find somebody else," he said.

And in a statement rife with implications, Ron Paul indicated that he wouldn't run as an independent. This is great news because he won't get the nomination, and assuming his supporters have some sense of decency, this will be additional votes to defeat whoever the Dhimmicrats nominate.

While I'll tune in for the general election debates, I've not been inclined to catch the primary ones. Anyone out there who caught the debate, I'd be curious how this one stacked up to the prior debates.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Since Men Aren't Angels

Government - the external variety - is necessary.

There is a not insignificant sentiment that exists that supposes that the law is arbitrary; indeed I've argued with many people I consider friends on the improper absolute that suggests that free men should be free from external government. While the body of laws governing the Republic undoubtedly contains some arbitrary legislation, it is worth repeating that morality is a component inseparable from the law.

I have been sitting on this quote for a couple of days, waiting for a time when I'd have a few precious minutes to share the wisdom contained therein. And from one of my favorite Founding Fathers, no less. Enjoy, courtesy of the Patriot Post:

To grant that there is a supreme intelligence who rules the world and has established laws to regulate the actions of his creatures; and still to assert that man, in a state of nature, may be considered as perfectly free from all restraints of law and government, appears to a common understanding altogether irreconcilable. Good and wise men, in all ages, have embraced a very dissimilar theory. They have supposed that the deity, from the relations we stand in to himself and to each other, has constituted an eternal and immutable law, which is indispensably obligatory upon all mankind, prior to any human institution whatever. This is what is called the law of nature....Upon this law depend the natural rights of mankind."

-- Alexander Hamilton

Saturday, November 24, 2007

When You've Got Two Quarterbacks

My brother Pat reminded me of this conventional football wisdom. When a team says that it has two quarterbacks, it really doesn't have a quarterback: when you've got one, you know what I mean. Chicago has had lots of seasons where we've got two quarterbacks. Teams like Dallas, and (Lord forgive me) Green Bay have one quarterback.

It's a little like that with the GOP this year. We were discussing this article by Jonah Goldberg; it's likely to make Ron Paul people happy and Huckabee people unhappy. That is, if you're willing to discount the body of evidence that's out there that links Ron Paul to Truthers and Deniers. Golberg's point about ideology aside, I don't find Ron Paul to be a better alternative to Mike Huckabee. That Paul hasn't denounced his connections and/or support from some of the fringe groups that endorse him equates to a deafening silence.

But here's the point we came to: there's no stand-out candidate this year. One can - and we did - find fault with each of them. We're faced with the prospect of choosing the least damaging or least likely to offend the principles of conservatism. The point to take away from this is that the primaries are extremely important this year, and the consequences of who we choose are enormous.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Thanksgiving 2007

God bless you all and your families this Thanksgiving and always. Let us recall the advice of His Excellency, Gen. Washington:

It is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favors.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Interview With Dr. Kevin Gutzman

Dr. Kevin Gutzman, author of the recently reviewed Politically Incorrect Guide to the Constitution, was kind enough to answer some questions I had upon completion of his book.

Dr. Gutzman is associate professor of American history at Western Connecticut State University. He received his Master of Public Affairs from the University of Texas, his J.D. from the University of Texas School of Law, and his M.A. and Ph.D. in American history from the University of Virgina. Dr. Gutzman is the author of Virginia's American Revolution: From Dominion to Republic, 1776-1840 and was a featured expert in the documentary film John Marshall: Citizen, Statesman and Jurist. He as written scores of articles and encyclopedia entries, as well as reviews of books, films, and exhibitions for magazines academic and popular.

The following is the text of our interview via e-mail.

MT: Dr. Gutzman, thanks for agreeing to answer some questions in this format.
KG: You are welcome.

MT: I’d first like to ask you if you think the Judiciary is “broken” in the sense that it isn’t working the way it is supposed to; and if so, what do you see as the leading cause of this?

KG: The problem is not the judiciary, but the tradition of judicial review. Over time, what was originally conceived as the federal judiciary’s role in enforcing the Constitution against Congress – that is, in preventing Congress from legislating in areas intended to have been reserved to the states – has come to be a wide-ranging legislative role. The federal courts rarely act as protector of the states against a Congress rapacious for power, but instead usually join Congress in grabbing power intended to be reserved to the states. The result is that instead of a decentralized government in which the overwhelming majority of policies affecting Americans on a daily basis are made by elected, state legislators, we have come to have a highly centralized government in which many important questions are decided by unelected, unaccountable lawyers: federal judges.

MT: How did this begin? What were the origins of judicial review and the courts siding with Congress against the states?

KG: The power of judicial review, of judges’ deciding whether acts of Congress were consistent with the federal Constitution, was said by Federalists during the ratification debates to be inherent in the Constitution. However, they did not say that it would be exercised against state statutes, as it has been since Fletcher v. Peck (1810). Fletcher involved a completely specious construction of the Contracts Clause of Article I, Section 10 of the Constitution, and ever since then, federal courts have felt increasingly at liberty to strike down state laws on the flimsiest of bases.

The Ur-text of federal courts siding with Congress against the states is John Marshall’s opinion for the Supreme Court in McCulloch v. Maryland (1819). In that case, Marshall was at great pains to “correct” the interpretation of the Constitution offered in oral argument by Luther Martin, counsel for Maryland, who happened to be one of the Constitution’s chief authors; according to Marshall, who was not a Philadelphia Convention delegate, Martin was simply mistaken to think that the powers of Congress were limited to those listed in Article I, Section 8, but extended to various implicit grants of power. When James Madison read Marshall’s opinion, he correctly noted that if people had known that this construction would be given to the Constitution, it never would have been ratified. I provide a detailed account of the most important state’s ratification dispute in Virginia’s American Revolution: From Dominion to Republic, 1776-1840 (Lexington, 2007).

MT: I thought on multiple occasions that your book stood as a pretty strong indictment of our educational system, both primary and the university level. What are your thoughts on this, and on the way a person is educated in the legal profession in the 21st century?

KG: Legal education in America is, when it comes to the Constitution, simply inappropriate. Constitutional law is treated as a common law field, one in which what matters are solely the precedent established by federal courts. What should be taught, however, is what the Constitution meant to the people at the time it was being ratified. It is, after all, what the people ratified, and not what the judges made of it, that is “the supreme law of the land.” At least, that is the theory.

People who study the Constitution below the law school level typically study it in the same way as do prospective lawyers: by reading huge volumes of court precedents. One literally would know more about the Constitution by reading it without reading the typical constitutional law casebook than he would be reading the casebook, so this mode of instruction is highly problematic. Once an error is written into the body of judicial opinions “implementing” the Constitution, it is unlikely ever to be corrected, and so future students are taught the error as if it were accurate. In effect, erroneous opinions operate as constitutional amendments.

MT: What are your thoughts on the provisions for removing judges from office? Are they too high a hurdle? What should constitute “good behavior?”

KG: The problem here is not the Constitution itself, but Senate precedent. Unfortunately, the Senate decided in the impeachment trial of Justice Samuel Chase two centuries ago that “high crimes and misdemeanors,” the grounds for which an impeached federal judge can be removed from office, must be indictable crimes. As the great Raoul Berger demonstrated in his Impeachment, however, the Senate erred: a “high crime” or “high … misdemeanor” was a political offense in the English system from which the phrase was borrowed by the Philadelphia Convention — such as, say, amending the Constitution under the guise of interpreting it. By that standard, federal judges such as Earl Warren or William Brennan heartily deserved impeachment.

MT: What are your thoughts on corrective action for addressing some of the missteps of the Judiciary as you mentioned in your book?

KG: The Constitution provides four mechanisms for correcting the courts’ errant ways: 1) constitutional amendment; 2) restriction of courts’ jurisdiction; 3) the appointment process; and 4) impeachment.

Constitutional amendment is, of course, difficult, but should be used more frequently. It was a grave error for James Madison to counsel Thomas Jefferson after the Revolution of 1800 that there should not be an American tradition of amending the Constitution to correct recent errors, and I think that his advice should be abandoned.

Restriction of courts’ jurisdiction is, by and large, entirely in Congress’s discretion. Since the Constitution does not require that there be any federal courts other than the Supreme Court or that they have original jurisdiction beyond the few types enumerated in Article III, Congress could at will deny federal courts jurisdiction over, say, cases involving the burning of flags or the notification of parents that their children have had abortions. This remedy requires only a majority in each house of Congress.

The Senate has essentially abdicated its responsibility throughout most of American history in relation to the appointment of federal judges. It should play a major role in ensuring that the president appoints not merely able, but also constitutionalist candidates. Few senators seem to believe that this is incumbent upon them.

Finally, I have been on record since 1990 in favor of a campaign of impeachments of lawless federal judges. It would do the country quite a lot of good, go a long way toward restoring the federal Constitution, if Congress undertook to remove the foremost judicial legislators from office. It would also serve, as the French say, pour encourager les autres!

MT: It seems that the other branches of government sometimes act as if upholding the Constitution is the responsibility of the Judiciary alone. What do you think it will take before the other branches of government begin to uphold the Constitution?

KG: We certainly should not leave the impression that the judiciary is the only problem. Presidents feel free to propose unconstitutional laws, to act as if the law did not apply to them, to wage war without involving Congress in the decision-making process, and in various other ways to violate the Constitution. Congress feels free to legislate in any way that comes to mind, regardless of the Tenth Amendment’s reservation of powers to the states. Yet, since they have the power of judicial review, for the courts to be directed into the right path would go a long way toward correcting the other branches’ misbehavior.

MT: The contributors and readers of this blog are firm believers in the principles of balanced government. What are your thoughts on the prospects of balanced government as a political movement?

KG: By “balanced government,” I presume that you have in mind a situation in which each branch of the federal government is in the proper relationship to the others? I agree with the great Virginia senator and political theorist John Taylor of Caroline, who said that far more important than checks and balances — some form of separation of powers — within the federal government was the principle of division of powers — the assignment of responsibility in only a few areas to the center, with most reserved to the states — between the states and the federal government. Alas, this most significant of American governmental principles is now largely abandoned. However, one can hope for its resuscitation, and the first step toward that goal is to educate Americans at large about their real constitutional heritage.

Thanks again to Dr. Gutzman. I take full responsibility for any misspellings or other formatting errors as I'm exhausted and posting late; and accidents do happen. Be sure to get your copy of the Politically Incorrect Guide to the Constitution; it is very well-done and a necessary part of any library.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Justice For Sale

This link will take you to a great piece in the Opinion Journal by Justice O'Connor. Someone who might otherwise be hard pressed to find common ground with Justice O'Connor found it quite readily in this comment:

Today, only a little more than one-third of Americans can name the three branches of government--much less explain the balance of power among them.

Indeed, the judiciary is a topic near and dear to my heart, as is a robust civics education - obviously one of the principles behind the creation of this blog. I like to think that I give credit where it is due, so kudos to Justice O'Connor. And thanks to my good friend Mark Misiorowski for the heads-up on the piece.

Because No Culture Is Superior

We must not pass judgment on others. I've simply got to show this to my multiculturalist neighbor and see if he thinks it's perfectly OK for a 33-year old man to marry a dog.

And Lefties also think we should draw on international law for the purpose of forming opinions - another reason to never, ever, and I mean NEVER allow a Democrat near the White House again. Frankly, I think this means you, too, Rudy.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Subject To The Jurisdiction Thereof

Ah, yes, the ever-so-troubling 14th Amendment.

As I have mentioned in other places, I was given The Heritage Guide to the Constitution as a gift a couple months back, and I have not been the same since. While there is much ground to cover with respect to the 14th Amendment, for this brief post I'm going to focus only on the Citizenship Clause, as it is called.

I could say a bit on the topic, but not any better than this from the Guide itself:

One conspicuous departure from the language of the Civil Rights Act was the elimination of the phrase "Indians not taxed." Senator Jacob Howard of Ohio, the author of the Citizenship Clause, defended the new language against the charge that it would make Indians citizens of the United States. Howard assured skeptics that "Indians born within the limits of the United States, and who maintain their tribal relations, are not, in the sense of this Amendment, born subject to the jurisdiction of the United States." Senator Lyman Trumbull, Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, supported Howard, contending that "subject to the jurisdiction thereof" meant "not owing allegiance to anybody else... subject to the complete jurisdiction of the United States." Indians, he concluded, were not "subject to the jurisdiction" of the United States because they owed allegiance - even if only partial allegiance - to their tribes. Thus, two requirements were set for United States citizenship: born or naturalized in the United States and subject to its jurisdiction.

By itself, birth within the territorial limits of the United States, as the case of the Indians indicated, did not make one automatically "subject to the jurisdiction" of the United States. And "jurisdiction" did not simply mean subject to the laws of the United States or subject to the jurisdiction of its courts. Rather, "jurisdiction" meant exclusive "allegiance" to the United States.

What I find interesting about this is that the historical record is there for the reading, and can easily verify original intent. Perhaps, in time, we may yet see this Republic turned away from the path to national suicide that we're on. While insisting on such antiquated ideas as allegiance will surely qualify me as a "hater" to someone, I can think of no simpler means of correcting some of the problems resulting from the 14th Amendment than insisting on the plain, simple and original intent of the authors of the Amendment.

Book Review: The Politically Incorrect Guide to the Constitution

I learned about this latest installment to the "PIG" series when I heard the author, Dr. Kevin Gutzman, on the Michael Medved show probably three months ago.

The book is very well done and quite accessible. I spent a lot more time with it than I might another book of similar length as I kept referencing the Constitution, the Federalist, and my Heritage Guide to the Constitution (not to mention a couple of biographies of You-Know-Who) whenever I'd read something that I wanted to confirm or verify.

There are more areas where I find agreement with Dr. Gutzman than disagreement; one inevitable and notable exception is the Lincoln legacy. It has been my understanding that while Lincoln suspended the writ of habeas corpus, it was in limited situations (namely to protect a supply line into D.C.) and was followed up shortly thereafter by Congressional endorsement. It was an appropriate time to do so (war and/or insurrection was present).

There's of course a larger question of legitimacy at stake here which might need some exploration. I acknowledge that the Union in the first place was a voluntary one and could be undone. The separation of political bonds such as this isn't an act to be taken lightly nor without a valid basis for making such a break; there wasn't a "long train of abuses and usurpations" compelling the insurrection.

Suppose the state of Illinois decided that given the budget crisis, citizens could buy a license for a cool $100,000 to enslave as many illegal aliens as one could. Or suppose that retirees in the state of Oregon have become too much of a drain on the rest of the state, such that the state decides that every person over the age of 60 is henceforth "D-N-R." In each case, the state is depriving a class of persons of one of their inalienable rights; and the deprivation of the right to life is an oppression no more serious than depriving someone of liberty or the fruits of their person. While the issue of jurisdiction appears clear (domestic matters not constitutionally appropriate at the federal level), the obligation of the general government is not.

Having addressed my one area of disagreement, I could spend days posting on the excellent points of this book. My hope is that Dr. Gutzman will instead humor me and the readers here with answers to some questions. I hope to be able to post more along these lines in the not-too-distant future.

In the meantime, The Politically Incorrect Guide to the Constitution remains an essential for everyone's library, so if you don't yet have it, run out and get it. Yes, I mean right now.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Legislating By Redefinition

I have been thinking about the ways special interest groups are attempting to promote their agendas of late. I believe one of the most insidious of these methods is the attempt to legislate by redefinition. I know my fellow bloggers are aware of my opinion of those who would change the definition of a word to provide a legislative shortcut to groups or individuals to spare them the tedium of going through the legislative process.

For those who are not, I believe that to create legislative shortcuts by changing the definition of a commonly accepted word is the height of irresponsibility. (i.e. Instead of asking congress to make a new law, you simply change the definition of a term in an existing law so that it now includes/excludes the group, individual, company or government agency that is affected by that law.) This creates huge problems, not the least of which is the potential to completely redefine our government and society without so much as a "by-your-leave" on the part of the people.

If the definition of a word is changed in order to gain benefits from existing legislation, then doesn't that change the definition for all existing legislation containing that word? Even if the definition change is strictly worded to be appended to only one or two existing laws, how does that affect the process of writing legislation? How could a legislator possibly craft a bill in such a way that the meaning of the terms in it could never be changed to twist the intent of the legislation to something else entirely? If our words cannot be depended upon to mean only what they meant when written, then our Constitution and all it contains becomes just so much clay to be twisted and molded according to the whims of the day.

That said, how can such an insidious practice be stopped? I propose that we ask our legislators to craft legislation requiring that when the legal definition of a word is changed,(particularly when it is changed for the sole purpose of granting a legislative shortcut) all legislation that will be affected by that change, (Yes, in some cases, that would be every piece of legislation containing that word.), must be reviewed and have that word changed to a term or phrase that means the same as the original word but that does not include the changed definition. This would preserve the intent of the original law in a way that illuminates the flaws in the practice of legislation by redefinition. It would also discourage those who wish to gain legislative shortcuts in this manner while safeguarding our founding documents from such disastrous meddling.

This may seem cumbersome, but I cannot see any other way of protecting our current system from the havoc that legislating by redefinition will cause. If we allow one word to be redefined, where will it end? Shall we redefine "marriage"? What about "adult", "man", “woman" or "family? You know Rover there is a member of the family, it's a shame he can't get health insurance through Daddy's work too. Why stop there? Let's redefine "land", "building", and "vehicle". How much trouble could be made with that?

To allow this to become an acceptable practice would invalidate our government entirely. Our current system may take a long time to make the changes certain groups would like to have, but that is not a good enough reason to undermine it in this irresponsible fashion. If, on the other hand, this is merely another attempt to subvert the will of the people, then it is clearly our duty as citizens to make such shady dealings impossible.

Happy Veterans Day

Say a prayer today and give thanks for all of those brave men and women who have served this country.

And see this link at the Maritime Sentry for a great video tribute (if only I could figure video out!).

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Unprincipled or Brave?

Kathleen Parker accurately poses that question in her recent column about the Robertson endorsement of Rudy Giuliani. While I found this announcement interesting, I didn't put a whole lot of importance on it. Maybe I'm wrong in that regard.

The troubling thing about it is this: neither alternative is very good. If indeed one views his endorsement as a matter of bravery, it assumes that the conventional wisdom is correct: "Rudy is the only one who can beat Hillary." I think this talking point has been hammered so often that people haven't taken a really good look at the validity of it. Indeed, it seems to have gone straight from talking point to accepted fact by most pundits.

I think Rudy would have enormous difficulty differentiating himself from Hillary. While he is quick to point out how different they are, on social issues they are nearly identical (remember Hillary: "safe, legal and rare"?). Assuming Hillary makes it through the primary - and there's no reason to think she won't - she'll predictably move to the center on defense and taxes, thus minimizing the differences further. What's to inspire a conservative about a Rudy candidacy at that point? Hate of the Clintons?

The primaries are the time to slug it out over ideology, of course. Here's hoping that the eventual GOP nominee stands a chance of presenting a clear contrast to the Demo candidate. If it ends up Rudy, I think America's Mayor is going to go 0-for-2 against Hillary.

Semper Fidelis

Happy birthday to the United States Marine Corps, 232 years young today. You can click here for the official history page. It is difficult to argue that there's a better organization on the planet than the Corps. Thank you, Marines, for your service and love of country. You're an example of all that's right with the United States. For that, we are semper gratus.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Our Responsibility

One of my favorite quotes - and my instinct says that it was Hamilton - goes like this: that which we obtain too cheaply we esteem too lightly. In other words, inherited riches are more likely to be squandered than those earned by one's labors.

Reading Mom's comment from the post immediately preceding this one, I was reminded of this truth. Is it any wonder that most Americans are so uninterested in matters governmental? If we've been given freedom at no cost to ourselves, isn't it simply natural to take this for granted?

Here's another rather unoriginal idea: I think that each and every generation should struggle for freedom and liberty; or, I should say, so I hope. While our challenges will be different than prior generations, our efforts at preserving and increasing liberty should be the same. The greatest generation fought fascism. Perhaps our generation will be called to fight another destructive ideology (Liberalism). Perhaps our fight will be less intellectual than that. Indeed there are destructive ideologies working right now for the destruction of the Republic.

I can't think of a reason to assume that we won't be faced with a struggle for survival in our time, nor can I think of a reason that I shouldn't prepare my children for the same fight. Should they grow up in a peaceful world without conflict, I'll thank the Lord that he let us fight to win that condition. Yet, as surely as I value the fight for liberty in this time, would my children be better served living a life unaware of how precious liberty is?

Thursday, November 08, 2007


I've posted before on the wonderful Hillsdale College publication, Imprimis. I've been hanging on to the most recent issue for a week or so now, because I wanted to share this beautiful quote.

Unlike most issues, October's was not a speech but an interview with the Hon. Clarence Thomas. Says he:

My job is to apply the Constitution. And here’s a useful lesson: You hear people talk all the time about the Bill of Rights. But you should always keep in mind that the Bill of Rights was an afterthought. That’s why it’s made up of what are called amendments. It was not in the original Constitution. The rights in the Bill of Rights were originally assumed as natural rights, and some people at the time thought that writing them into the Constitution was redundant. Read the Declaration of Independence. We should always start, when we read the Constitution, by reading the Declaration, because it gives us the reasons why the structure of the Constitution was designed the way it was. And with the Constitution, it was the structure of the government that was supposed to protect our liberty. And what has happened through the years is that the protections afforded by that structure have been dissipated. So my opinions are often about the undermining of those structural protections.

At any rate, the whole thing is worth a read and I encourage you to check it out, but I was most pleased that it sounds like Justice Thomas would be a supporter of the principles of balanced government.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

What We're Told and What We Can Guess

I saw an article the other day that I filed away to do some more research on. This morning I saw another news item with more of the same, so I figured I'd take a shot at it.

This was the original story that caught my eye. The Reuters report from Tuesday closes somewhat ambiguously:

Piracy off Somalia dropped briefly last year during a six-month period in which most of the south was ruled by a hardline Islamist movement. Incidents rose again since the sharia courts movement was toppled in Mogadishu at New Year.

One might first conclude that the sharia courts fell, and, whatever had been restraining the criminal element gone, all hell broke loose. But isn't it equally possible that the Islamist element, now marginalized, is raising revenue however they can? Couldn't Islamists have been the source of piracy all along? Once in power, this might not have been an effective use of time and resources. But now?

Back in August, the BBC ran this story on piracy in the area, and while not suggesting that these organizations are terrorist organizations noted that (emphasis mine):

Somali pirates are trained fighters, and often use speedboats equipped with satellite phones and Global Positioning System technology.

Trained where, the mind wonders. By whom?

Today brought another story on the topic. I was most interested in where this is happening: places like Kenya, Somalia, Nigeria, Indonesia. And of course, the article's reference to the Barbary Pirates.

While there is no open acknowledgment by the media on the nature of these groups, is history - not to mention geography and experience - enough to help us draw some conclusions?

The Adams Family

I've been sitting on these quotes for a while, meaning to post them up eventually, because they are both so good. Quotes courtesy of the Patriot Post's Founders Quote Daily:

"It already appears, that there must be in every society of men superiors and inferiors, because God has laid in the constitution and course of nature the foundations of the distinction."

-- John Adams (Thoughts on Government, 1776)

What do you think would be the reaction to a quote like this today? Would our second President be revered or reviled? I'm guessing he'd be called a hater, racist, nativist, something-ophobe, you get the idea.

And from that "other" Adams comes one of my favorites:

"No people will tamely surrender their Liberties, nor can any be easily subdued, when knowledge is diffusd and Virtue is preservd. On the Contrary, when People are universally ignorant, and debauchd in their Manners, they will sink under their own weight without the Aid of foreign Invaders."

-- Samuel Adams (letter to James Warren, 4 November 1775)

Just a day shy of 232 years since, does that sound a little bit like any country you've heard of? If not exactly there yet, getting slowly closer to being described as "easily subdued"?

Friday, November 02, 2007

Hewitt Interviews Huckabee

So Mike Huckabee was on the Hugh Hewitt show and you can read the transcript of their exchange here.

Huckabee comes off a little lacking. He owns up to making a mistake pretty well. So far, so good. He then wanders into strange territory, even suggesting that illegals who reach the age of emancipation might have to go back depending on if their parents are sent back? They're here illegally. If you're a 17 year old illegal, your whole family goes. If you're an 18 year old illegal... your whole family goes.

He then seemingly has a hard time answering a pretty simple question on SCHIP legislation, and sort of blows it on a federal smoking ban. For a conservative, a pretty fundamental issue is the imbalance between the spheres of government: the federal is far too over-reaching. Supporting a federal smoking ban seems to me to be too willing to allow distant external government to grow.

Hewitt, of course, is a Romney guy, so perhaps he had an agenda. Perhaps. But if you read the transcript, he gives Huckabee a couple of chances to consider what he's saying. I've still got to offer this disclaimer: I'd still pick him over Giuliani and Thompson.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Now THAT is Smart

The following is the text of an e-mail I got from the Duncan Hunter campaign today. I read this, sat back and said to myself, "brilliant." Kudos to Congressman Hunter.


CONTACT: Gary Becks (619) 334-1655
San Diego, CA – Congressman Duncan Hunter (R-CA) today recommended to President Bush a proposal to replace State Department personnel who refuse to be deployed to Baghdad with wounded veterans from military hospitals at Walter Reed and Bethesda. Hunter, who is currently running for President, went to the White House earlier today and met with President Bush to outline and detail his “Wounded Warrior” project.

“My recommendation to the President was simply that we need people in these positions whose top priorities will be to get the job done regardless of the circumstances and I know which individuals meet those qualifications. Our wounded warriors have already exhibited courage, professionalism and work ethic on the field of battle. They have already answered the call to serve in difficult circumstances and they know firsthand the meaning of sacrifice. If the State Department is having trouble with reluctant personnel, I can think of nobody more qualified than these brave patriots to rise to the challenge.

“State Department recruiters should immediately be sent to Walter Reed and Bethesda hospitals and application forms should be provided and posted on relevant employment websites. As I indicated to the President, I have no doubt our men and women in uniform will once again answer the call of their nation.”

Wait! I'll go a step further - fire all the communist appeasers in the State Department and replace them with honorably discharged Veterans.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Initiating an AFB Policy Change

As a courtesy to our readers, contributors, commenters and fellow bloggers, we've reached a point where we need to have a serious discussion on a policy item.

While it has been my intent from the beginning to make this blog an open forum for the discussion of ideas, I think I need to clarify a couple of things. First, off-topic comments promoting a website will be deleted, or, at a minimum, ridiculed. While we've desired to create an open forum, this shouldn't be construed as "post a comment and promote your website."

Also, comments that contain cursing will be edited or deleted at the discretion of the blog contributors. While we don't object to a person's ideas or opinions, we reserve the right to police our site as we see fit. I won't tolerate certain things in poor taste, and while it makes no sense to enumerate these, rest assured that we'll know it when we see it.

We'd like this site to be PG or PG-13 and be a resource for people looking for conservative commentary and opinion on Constitutionally-consistent balanced government. To that end, we're going to take a careful look at comments and, quite frankly, links. I'd be interested in how others have handled this...

Suppose an otherwise great blog has some objectionable content; for argument's sake, let's say that it is rough language in the context of a post (rather than pictures or video, which to me is pretty clear-cut and isn't anything resembling a gray area). It seems like the options are to de-list someone; ignore it (readership beware); privately request that it get cleaned up (seems too intrusive for my tastes); or "rate" your links. Has anyone run into this issue, and what thoughts do you have on the matter?

For the record, and those of you who know me best will attest to this, I have been known to curse. Especially when angry. But I try my best to keep the Lord's name out of it, and thankfully I report I do a pretty good job of that. However, in mixed, or polite, company, I am really good about holding my tongue, even in the most difficult of circumstances. And I consider this space to be polite company.

Welcoming your thoughts and comments, as always.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Principles First, Issues Second

I have long thought that the problem with the GOP was the basis by which it was created - a third party founded to eliminate what in hindsight was a temporary problem.

While some might disagree, I think one of the most glorious moments in our nation's history is the founding of the GOP and Lincoln's prosecution of the war. An ugly blot - inconsistent with the Declaration of Independence - was wiped out at great cost to the country. Yet the party has struggled with the exception of a few periods of brilliance since then (see: Reagan, Ronald) and needs to refocus.

The GOP is a party in search of an identity. Buchanan's column suggests the same. There is a great rift in the party between "moderates" and conservatives. Calling that faction "moderates" is of course a Leftist trick - per their playbook, this infernal word game suggests that the liberal-bent within the GOP is the "reasonable" or "mainstream" part of the party.

I attend a fair number of meetings and hear a lot of Republicans speak. They all beat the drum on "limited government" (don't get me started) and family values. But when the party doesn't deliver on these "principles", as it unquestionably hasn't (out of control spending, Foley, Craig, etc.), it loses the trust and confidence of all but the most affectionate members of the party.

The great problem facing us as I see it, and this is no secret as any regular reader will note, is how imbalanced our system of government has become. I think that a political movement dedicated to returning and diligently preserving balanced government would withstand the changes of time - as our founders recognized that balance would be needed regardless of the societal changes that were impossible to foresee. It is my sincere hope that the GOP can be reformed and be the bearer of those principles. Yet, if it cannot, we have to be willing to form new political bands to preserve our freedom.

More on the Enumerated Powers Amendment

We've discussed this topic before here and here. At this link is a great column by Walter Williams. Williams wonders aloud if the People's disinterest in those things Constitutional mirrors the contempt he sees in Congress, or if the People are merely ignorant.

This to me seems a little bit like the question "when did you stop beating your wife?" I might suggest first that there are probably a fair number of Congressmen who respect the Constitution, although few of them would be found in the category "Democrat." Secondly, I would guess that even among Congress, there is probably a great degree of ignorance with respect to the Constitution. Short of requiring an entrance exam, the answer to this problem lies with the People.

Speaking of the People, I'd suggest to Williams that the People are largely ignorant of the Constitution. Contempt, while it surely exists, would be the domain of Leftists, who abhor anything American (like the principles of our founding). It remains up to us - bloggers, activists, citizens - to change the conversation and educate ourselves and others on the founding principles. Our representatives are undoubtedly a reflection of the People, and changing one will change the other.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Accepting the Truth

There's something to be said for an occasional slice of humble pie.

I've said time and again how much I dislike Michael Medved. From his position on third parties (they're bad!) to his constant shilling for the GOP, he's one of the most consistently frustrating pundits I regularly listen to (and have called on a couple of occasions).

But, you've got to give credit where it's due. Medved's recent column is great; it's a topic I find fascinating. It's worth a read, and worth remembering that even sometimes people we aren't wild about can surprise us with wonderful insight.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Article V: The Convention Clause

I've probably mentioned before that I'm a member of the Federalist Society. In fact, as I write this there is a Fed Soc. meeting in downtown Chicago for the release of Clarence Thomas' book, My Grandfather's Son.

In addition to invitations to cool events like that, one of the benefits of membership is the quarterly Harvard Journal of Law & Public Policy. I don't always have the time to read these, and usually only take a look at one or maybe two articles in each one. The Summer 2007 volume has been sitting around for a while, waiting for a spot in the rotation, because I was intrigued by one of the "Notes" entitled "The Other Way to Amend the Constitution: The Article V Constitutional Convention Amendment Process."

It's worth reading and I encourage you to take a look at it, however in the interest of busy readers, I'll summarize the important points. First, Article V:

Article V
The Congress, whenever two thirds of both houses shall deem it necessary, shall propose amendments to this Constitution, or, on the application of the legislatures of two thirds of the several states, shall call a convention for proposing amendments, which, in either case, shall be valid to all intents and purposes, as part of this Constitution, when ratified by the legislatures of three fourths of the several states, or by conventions in three fourths thereof, as the one or the other mode of ratification may be proposed by the Congress; provided that no amendment which may be made prior to the year one thousand eight hundred and eight shall in any manner affect the first and fourth clauses in the ninth section of the first article; and that no state, without its consent, shall be deprived of its equal suffrage in the Senate.

Here's my analysis. Based upon the historical background, the original purpose of the Convention Clause was to give the States the power to correct/curb either a corrupt or incompetent Legislature. As the Note states, there are a few questions with respect to Article V, the two most prevalent being: 1) can a convention be limited (avoiding a "runaway convention") and 2) can Congress control the subject of a convention?

First, given the purpose of the Clause, the power to limit the scope of a convention lies naturally with the States, who are making the application. Calling a convention for the purposes of revoking an existing Amendment, or calling for the purposes of approving a new Amendment, qualified in the application as for that purpose alone, is sufficient protection to limit the scope of the convention when called. Second, with respect to Congress' ability to control the subject matter pursuant to the political question doctrine (I would recommend reading the Note for a good background), this is inconsistent with the original purpose of the Clause, and therefore Congress' duty is ministerial, and that alone (obliged to call the convention; the use of the word "shall" denotes this).

And of course, to the first concern again, in the unlikely event of a runaway convention, the States still could reject the work of the convention (the convention fails the 3/4 ratification hurdle).

The illustrative point here is that there exists a mechanism, and a fairly well-constructed one, to make changes in the realm of external government. A well-educated electorate, of the opinion that a beneficial or even necessary change has to be made, has at its disposal a tool for preserving liberty.

If Democrats Had Any Brains...

I recently read Ann Coulter's latest effort If Democrats Had Any Brains, They'd Be Republicans. This is going to be the AFB's shortest-ever book review.

Ann's book is a collection of quotes, organized by topic, from her prior books, columns and speeches. If you like her stuff, as I do, you'll like the book. There's little or no new ground covered here, but she knows what her fans like, and she delivers the goods.

The Swiss Example; When Will We Awake?

I generally choose my words carefully and prefer not to come off as bossing around the readership, however you simply must go read this outstanding piece by Takuan Seiyo.

It appears that the Swiss, to a degree, are rejecting the lies of multiculturalism and embracing the facts. I can't imagine Americans doing this - at least not yet. We seem to require some offense before we unite and cast aside the default PC-imposed behavior we've become accustomed to. My hope, rather, is that as more people and organizations are committed to the truth, and as truth begins to see the light of day, that we'll wake up without what seems like the necessary tragedy.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Unfit for Command

Check out this link to Pat Buchanan's recent article of the same name. Buchanan asks the question: "Does this generation have the maturity to lead America?"

The question is a good one for a couple of reasons. First, the obvious answer is that yes, of course, this generation has the maturity to lead America. Despite my numerous complaints about the Baby Boom generation, it is obvious to anyone not living under a rock that there are a lot of outstanding leaders in the BB generation. I see them at the Township meetings I attend. They are present in government at every level if you look carefully enough.

However, that those in positions of leadership are immature in many respects begs the question: how did they attain those positions and why aren't more mature - and here I'd use this word "mature" interchangeably with "conservative" - people leading America?

The how is fairly evident. Liberalism has led to multiculturalism, interest group politics and pandering to the lowest common denominator. Otherwise absurd ideas (nationalized health care, for example) that can't stand up to scrutiny are widely accepted by Americans who have been conditioned to depend on someone other than themselves for their survival. When a large portion of the population has become permanently dependent upon "the government" for food, money, housing, a job, the self-government gene is utterly - if not completely - atrophied. As the saying goes, if the government is robbing Peter to pay Paul, they can count on Paul's support.

This also leads to part of the answer to my why question above: it's easy to be dependent, especially if someone is willing to trade entitlements for your vote. But the problem is bigger than that. Other culprits include public education, a vast bureaucracy designed more for the benefit of its union members than its clients (parents and children). Public education both institutionalizes children (trains them in ways of thinking - or not-thinking) and lightly spoon-feeds an agenda that yields results contrary to the requisite skills needed to turn out productive citizens. Once trained to make the grade and demonstrate proficiency in that regard, young adults are sent off to indoctrination camps (college or university) to fully immerse them in cultural Marxism. By then, they are "adults" (as much as one considers a 17 year old an adult) and away from the influence of their families.

The other part of the "why aren't more conservatives leading America" question is this: there isn't sufficient effort being made to train young people (think college-age) to get informed and involved. What America needs is a two part education process: both children and adults need to be educated on the principles behind the founding of this Republic. Then, involvement in efforts locally and electronically (such as blogging) will prepare young people to lead when the opportunity presents itself.

I can virtually guarantee that the profile of a conservative blogger is nearly exactly as follows: self-educated on politics and Founding era history; family-oriented; and possessing a Biblical-Christian worldview (want more? How about this?). I'll allow for exceptions here or there, but overall, I think that would be the profile. That's the recipe for creating a conservative activist; to create more of them and future generations that way will require the effort I've suggested above.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

"Islam is a Religion of Peace"

This statement is in quotes for a reason. It is an example of taqiyya, the Muslim practice of deception. There exists in Muslim teaching the concept of "mental reservation" which is condoned by the Quran and the Sunnah (the narratives of the life of Muhammed).

I've been reading Jihad Watch, and strongly recommend reading this section, Islam 101. Some very enlightening analysis. I was unaware of taqiyya, for example, and learned also about the principle of abrogation (damning as it is to that faith) and the hadiths (narratives) that comprise the Sunnah.

Here's one of the best lines: "The entire Islamic moral universe devolves solely from the life and teaching of Muhammed." That says a lot about the faith, and I encourage everyone here to take a look at that link. It might take an hour or so to read it, but it will be the best hour you'll have this week, and you'll never be the same after doing so.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

She Said It, Not Me

But I am curious to hear an explanation or defense from the Romans or any of their readership over at The Maritime Sentry on Ann's characterization of Huckabee on illegal immigration from her most recent column. I recall hearing elsewhere that he made such a comparison, and I can't for the life of me understand what he was trying to say. The two things, of course, have nothing to do with each other.

I'd also remark that maybe someone who's "with" Fred (remember that charming slogan?) will speak up an defend his honor..., but I can't say as I know any supporters of the man, nor would I recommend anyone defending his impeachment/removal from office vote.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

The Same God?

We've discussed at length in this space and elsewhere the problems with Islam - you can see a number of posts under the label Islam and more under the label Jihad. That people fail to educate themselves on the principles of that faith remains a problem; that President Bush, by his comments in the link that follows, is guilty of either ignorance or political correctness is even worse. Here's a good article by Cal Thomas that echoes some of the things that have been said on this blog and others. The truth is often an uncomfortable thing, and requires courage to reach the light of day.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Stubborn Facts

Very quickly...

While the media has never let facts get in the way of a good story, it is important to verify facts where we can find them (I almost said "trust, but verify" but I thought trusting the media was being a little absurd). I searched for "Jena" to learn more about the case earlier today (this is another good example of how far behind I am on what's going on in the world) and got this link to snopes, which is a myth-busting website.

Worth a read, and they cite sources for further research, if one is so inclined. I haven't done any further research, but the story here is significantly different than the one offered by the MSM.

Friday, October 05, 2007

John Savage, Your Table Is Ready

Go and check out John Savage's Brave New World Watch. I've linked it up on the left of the blog so I don't forget to visit and then have to go through Webster's blog to find it.

John presents his analysis (and the writing is very good) from a traditionalist point of view. Always thoughtful, often over my head, definitely worth a regular visit. Sorry it took me so long to get the link up over here!

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

The Future of the Union

Fascinating article about a movement afoot to break up the Union.

Some of the posters on this blog have heard of these, shall we say, unlikely "alliances" in the past; while I won't address that in the post, any of my blog mates may choose to do so in the comments or under separate cover. While I discount the viability of such alliances, one must recognize that there is a genuine frustration among the people about the degree of influence of external government; and that I think there is also a natural appeal to people of any political persuasion for the principles of balanced government. Its fundamental value proposition is that people - at the most local levels possible - get to decide how much external government they want. Regardless if you're a conservative in the South or a nut liberal from Vermont, that freedom appeals to most people.

Of course, as I've suggested before, there's a quality inherent to balanced government that lends itself to what we'd consider "conservative" principles. This is just another way of saying originalist, or, if you prefer, Constitutionally-consistent government.

For the record, I think balanced government can fix the problems that ail the Union, and preserve it intact for future generations. Indeed, there are precious few other things that have the power to do the same.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Our Worst President

A while back we discussed in this space the rankings of Presidents. We did, right? I can't seem to find it.

I got to thinking about this again when reading the excellent speech digest of Hillsdale College, Imprimis. The September issue excerpts a speech by Amity Shlaes, whose new book, The Forgotten Man, remains on my list of to-reads.

Here's a link to a wikipedia page on Presidential rankings; some interesting information is available there. I had long thought that FDR didn't deserve his place of honor on those lists, given his employ of Soviet spies in his administration and his subsequent sell-out of Eastern Europe at the conclusion of WWII. His obvious hand in our slide into socialism and interest-group politics should settle the debate forever.

Except this: which Democrat President was the worst? FDR, the father of the Cold War, Carter, the father of Islamofascism, or Clinton, the father of, well, Who Knows How Many?