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.