The Constitutional Convention of 1787: Prayer Served a Purpose Just as Prayer Always Serves a Purpose

 

CONSTITUTIONAL CONVENTION - Philadelphia Convention Center

by Diane Rufino, October 8, 2018

Here is a trivia question for you:  Who were the oldest and youngest delegates at the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia, in 1787 ?

The oldest delegate, as many I’m sure remember from your history class, was Benjamin Franklin. He was the delegate from Pennsylvania and he attended the Convention at the ripe old age of 81. The youngest delegate was Jonathan Dayton, age 26, from state of New Jersey.

These two men share in a very special moment at the Convention:

On June 28, almost exactly a month after the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia convened, the 81–year-old Benjamin Franklin rose to address his fellow members. He had become frustrated over the constant and fruitless bickering and the inability of the representatives to made any significant progress in amending the federal government. He noted how some members had already left in disgust.

He began by talking about the fact that they were a well-read group of men; they had enjoyed a classical education and some studied further. In preparing for their important task that summer –  of designing an appropriate government to unify the states – they brushed up on their ancient history. They reviewed ancient history and the models of government that were established back then. They analyzed why the Republics of the ancient civilizations and empires ultimately failed. They looked at the modern governments in Europe, but quickly concluded that none were suitable. The delegates at the convention couldn’t find any common ground.

And so he suggested that they appeal to God for help.

And then he delivered the first prayer of the Convention:

Mr. President,

The small progress we have made after 4 or five weeks in close attendance and in continual reasonings with each other, with different sentiments on almost every question, is melancholy proof of the imperfection of the Human Understanding. We indeed seem to feel our own want of political wisdom, since we have been running about in search of it. We have gone back to ancient history for models of Government, and examined the different forms of those Republics which having been formed with the seeds of their own dissolution now no longer exist. And we have viewed Modern States all round Europe, but find none of their Constitutions suitable to our circumstances.

In this situation of this Assembly, groping as it were in the dark to find political truth, and scarce able to distinguish it when presented to us, how has it happened, Sir, that we have not hitherto once thought of humbly applying to the Father of lights to illuminate our understandings?  In the beginning of the Contest with Great Britain, when we were sensible of danger we had daily prayer in this room for the divine protection. Our prayers, Sir, were heard, and they were graciously answered. All of us who were engaged in the struggle must have observed frequent instances of a superintending providence in our favor.

To that kind providence we owe this happy opportunity of consulting in peace on the means of establishing our future national felicity.  And have we now forgotten that powerful friend?  Or do we imagine that we no longer need his assistance? I have lived, Sir, a long time, and the longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this truth: that God Governs in the affairs of men. And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without his notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without his aid?

We have been assured, Sir, in the Sacred Writings, in Psalm 117:1a, that “Except the Lord build the House, they labor in vain that build it.” I firmly believe this. And I also believe that without His concurring aid, we shall succeed in this political building no better than the Builders of Babel. We shall be divided by our little partial local interests; our projects will be confounded, and we ourselves shall become a reproach and bye word down to future ages. And what is worse, mankind may hereafter from this unfortunate instance, despair of establishing Governments by Human wisdom and leave it to chance, war and conquest.

I therefore beg leave to move that henceforth prayers imploring the assistance of Heaven, and its blessings on our deliberations, be held in this Assembly every morning before we proceed to business, and that one or more of the Clergy of this City be requested to officiate in that Service.

Out of the 55 delegates at the Convention, only a handful were devoutly religious. And here was Franklin, perhaps one of the least religious of the Founding Fathers, calling for prayer and quoting Scripture. As James Madison noted, in the notes he meticulously took of the Convention, many were deeply moved.

New Jersey delegate Jonathan Dayton reported:  “The Doctor sat down; and never did I behold a countenance at once so dignified and delighted as was that of Washington at the dose of the address; nor were the members of the convention generally less affected. The words of the venerable Franklin fell upon our ears with a weight and authority, even greater that we may suppose an oracle to have had in a Roman senate!”

Immediately after Franklin spoke, Roger Sherman of Connecticut seconded his motion for prayer.

But the motion ended up fizzling out among the other participants. There were some who opposed to the motion to appoint chaplains to begin each day with prayer because they had no funds to pay such chaplains. In fact, he recorded his disappointment at the bottom of his prayer speech, writing: “The Convention, except three or four Persons, thought Prayers unnecessary.

What is important to note in this tiny bit of history is that Ben Franklin’s passionate plea served to break the stalemate, or impasse, that was crippling the convention. The delegates were dismissed for three days, and some, moved by Franklin’s words, attended the Old First Reformed Church, where Rev. William Rogers held a special time of prayer for the proceedings. Dayton reported that when the delegates met again on July 2, much of the animosity was gone:  He noted: “We assembled again; and … every unfriendly feeling had been expelled, and a spirit of conciliation had been cultivated.”

While some difficulties continued to arise before the conclusion of the Convention’s business in September, the delegates apparently never returned to the fruitless bickering that had existed prior to June 28th.  It would certainly be an exaggeration to suggest that the drafting in earnest of the US Constitution began as the result of a prayer delivered at the Convention in Philadelphia, but Franklin’s call for prayer clearly played a pivotal role in softening the hearts and opening the minds of the delegates and reminding them that if they intended to proceed with such a critical undertaking without God’s help, all their efforts would be in vain.

 

References:

Ben Franklin’s Call for Prayer in the Constitutional Convention,” Lost Episodes in American History, March 21, 2013.  Referenced at:  http://lostepisodes.us/37/

“Benjamin Franklin’s Request for Prayers at the Constitutional Convention”  – http://www.beliefnet.com/resourcelib/docs/21/benjamin_franklins_request_for_prayers_at_the_constitutional__1.html

“Franklin’s Appeal for Prayer at the Constitutional Convention,” Wallbuilders –  https://wallbuilders.com/franklins-appeal-prayer-constitutional-convention/

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Undoing the American Republic with Welfare and Institutionalized Poverty (That’s Why Welfare Reform is So Important!)

WELFARE - work hard, millions depend on you (BEST)

by Diane Rufino, September 30, 2018

Government programs such as welfare and other social means-tested programs characterize very well the government’s general policy towards poverty: Make individuals “comfortable” in their poverty rather than incentivize them to become self-sufficient. Those dependent on government have little incentive to vote against its interests; those dependent on government have little incentive to vote for fiscal conservatism and for constitutional conservatism.

The premise of this article is three-fold:

(1)  To make the argument that government entitlement and other social welfare policies (means-tested programs), rather than serving “the general welfare” and helping to raise people out of poverty, in fact are really just increasingly making individuals “more comfortable” in their poverty, are increasingly relieving them of the “burden” of having to provide for themselves and their families, and in their sum, are creating institutionalized dependency. We see it already, and have seen it for many years now – welfare has become a way of life and not just a temporary program of aid and assistance; even worse, it has become a generational way of life.

(2)  Dependency, and certainly institutionalized dependency, by its very nature, puts individuals completely at odds with the notion of freedom. An individual cannot be free and dependent on government at the same time.  As more become dependent on government, there is no other course than the destruction of our republic and the transformation to socialism. Socialism is the death blow to individual liberty. The rights of the individual, the property of the individual, the work and production of the individual, becomes subject to the needs and best interests of the collective. Socialism is the death blow to the great American experiment.

(3)  Entitlement Programs, like block grants to the States (per “contact agreements”), are Unconstitutional.

A GOVERNMENT OF LIMITED POWERS?

As the title of this article suggests, I intend to address the constitutionality of Welfare and other means-tested social programs. The United States was once a country that prided itself on the ambition, creativity, ingenuity, energy, and production of the American people. Americans worked hard; they provided for themselves and their families. Without the lure of a safety-net, people became creative and ambitious and did whatever they could to make a living and provide for themselves and their family. With people like that, with social pressure like that, is it any wonder that our country was so successful and created such profound wealth? Is it any wonder that people were able to climb the social ladder so quickly and children and grandchildren became more successful than their parents? Is it any wonder why the United States became such an attractive magnet for the impoverished and downtrodden of the world?

But after the era of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the United States slowly and steadily became a welfare state, with Lyndon B. Johnson taking the most credit for what our country has become.  In 1964, with the Civil Rights bill looming, Johnson said to his political cronies: “These Negroes, they’re getting pretty uppity these days and that’s a problem for us since they’ve got something now they never had before, the political pull to back up their uppityness. Now we’ve got to do something about this, we’ve got to give them a little something, just enough to quiet them down, not enough to make a difference.”

Well, it did make quite a difference. Rather than help pull African-Americans out of poverty, welfare often doomed them to institutionalized poverty. Rather than help African-Americans overcome the prejudices, discriminations, and actions that held them back in the past, welfare was responsible for the greatest change in community dynamics which would have unfortunate consequences for them – it destroyed the black family.  The impact of welfare policies on marriage and family have been dramatic: Out-of-wedlock birthrates have skyrocketed among all demographic groups in the US but most notably among African Americans. In the mid-1960s, the out-of-wedlock birth rate was scarcely 3% for whites, 7.7% for Americans overall, and 24.5% among blacks. By 1976, those figures had risen to nearly 10% for whites, 24.7% for Americans as a whole, and 50.3% for blacks specifically. And today, the numbers stand at 29% for whites, 41% for the nation overall, and 73% for blacks. In other words, thanks to the welfare state, the entire country is moving rapidly in the wrong direction, but blacks in particular have reached a point of veritable catastrophe.

Is welfare constitutional??   I’ll eventually get to that question.

First of all, where does the supposed constitutional authority come from to redistribute wealth in the name of “welfare” or “security”?  The usual answer is the “General Welfare” clause of the Constitution. In the opening paragraph of Article I, Section 8 (which delegates to Congress the powers it is legally authorized to exercise), we find the “General Welfare” Clause. We have seen that term previously, of course – in the Preamble to the Constitution. In that opening paragraph of Article I, Section 8, Congress is granted power to tax and spend for the “general welfare of the United States.” From early in our history there were arguments about what sort of spending was truly for the general welfare. Treasury Secretary Alexander Hamilton, for instance, argued in 1791 that bounties paid to innovative new manufacturing concerns would qualify as spending for the general welfare. But Hamilton understood that the appropriations had to meet a standard of  uniformity throughout the Union. And for decades, Congress and various presidential administrations (mostly Republican) considered whether various “internal improvement” projects could legally constitute spending “for the general welfare.”

The government is not one of unlimited powers. We all know this. The US Constitution, as ratified by the individual states, created a common government of expressly-delegated powers which taken together, provide for some common essential functions (like safety and security, speaking with “one voice” in dealing with foreign nations and the Indian tribes, ensuring that commerce is made “regular,” and providing a uniform system of currency). Its powers were not intended to reach inside the state to regulate or affect the conduct of its citizens.

And yet the Constitution contains a clause that references “the General Welfare.” It’s called the “General Welfare Clause” and its purpose means one thing to big government folks and another to those who hold true to the historical view of the Constitution.

This clause is a special friend of  big-government politicians and intellectuals, and an enemy of limited-government folks. It is the catch-all phrase by which the federal government claims the authority to enact so much of its unconstitutional legislation and to carry out so much unconstitutional taxing and spending.

When the federal government wishes to create and expand welfare programs, to meddle in education, to provide grants for certain groups of individuals to attend college, to assist women in aborting their babies, to establish a national healthcare system, to serve the enormous immigration population (including illegals), to provide financial support for refugees, or to coerce the states to increase their drinking age or lower their speed limit,  progressives cite the “General Welfare” clause for constitutional authority.

Constitutional conservatives, on the other hand, push back with the argument that the General Welfare Clause is NOT, in fact a grant of power or source of authority.

Which is the correct view?  And why is it so important?

THE GENERAL WELFARE CLAUSE:

Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution lists the delegated functions of the federal legislative branch (Congress): Its opening paragraph includes the General Welfare Clause:

The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defense and general Welfare of the United States; but all Duties, Imposts and Excises shall be uniform throughout the United States;

To borrow Money on the credit of the United States;

To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several states, and with the Indian Tribes;

To establish an uniform Rule of Naturalization, and uniform Laws on the subject of Bankruptcies throughout the United States;

To coin Money, regulate the Value thereof, and of foreign Coin, and fix the Standard of Weights and Measures;

To provide for the Punishment of counterfeiting the Securities and current Coin of the United States;

To establish Post Offices and post Roads;

To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries;

To constitute Tribunals inferior to the supreme Court;

To define and punish Piracies and Felonies committed on the high Seas, and Offences against the Law of Nations;

To declare War, grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal, and make Rules concerning Captures on Land and Water;

To raise and support Armies, but no Appropriation of Money to that Use shall be for a longer Term than two Years;

To provide and maintain a Navy;

To make Rules for the Government and Regulation of the land and naval Forces;

To provide for calling forth the Militia to execute the Laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions;

To provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining, the Militia, and for governing such Part of them as may be employed in the Service of the United States, reserving to the States respectively, the Appointment of the Officers, and the Authority of training the Militia according to the discipline prescribed by Congress;

To exercise exclusive Legislation in all Cases whatsoever, over such District (not exceeding ten Miles square) as may, by Cession of particular States, and the Acceptance of Congress, become the Seat of the Government of the United States, and to exercise like Authority over all Places purchased by the Consent of the Legislature of the State in which the Same shall be, for the Erection of Forts, Magazines, Arsenals, dock-Yards, and other needful Buildings;  —And

To make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution the foregoing Powers, and all other Powers vested by this Constitution in the Government of the United States, or in any Department or Officer thereof.

[This last provision is called the “Necessary & Proper” Clause; it is typical language included in contracts at the time making clear that the party delegated a particular function or functions can take the “necessary” steps to carry out that function or those functions.]

FEDERAL SPENDING:  IS IT ALL CONSTITUTIONAL? 

The federal government spends money, through grants, tuition, other types of “assistance,” etc, to do things it cannot otherwise accomplish through actual constitutional authority. For example, the federal government provides funding to States to build roads, bridges, train tracks, airports, electric grids, libraries, swimming pools, housing, and other infrastructure; it provides funding to educate our children and to require public schools to implement affirmative action and other special programs for minorities and for students with disabilities; it provides funding for pre-school and day care; it provides funding to re-train the unemployed; it provides funding for relief aid; it provides funding for state and local law enforcement; it provides funding for Medicaid, food stamps, free lunch programs, and other social services; it provides funding to aid illegals; and it provides funding to individuals for college tuition, tuition remission, as scholarship awards, for housing, etc.

Article 1, Section 8, Clause 1 grants the US government the power to raise and spend money. Is that power limited?  Or is it unqualified and unlimited?  We all know the government’s view.

The government may believe it is justified under the General Welfare Clause, for example, to provide healthcare for the elderly (or for everyone), to provide old-age pension, to fund public health projects; to invest in and conduct basic research; to provide subsidies for agriculture; to build libraries, and even to provide emergency aid for natural disasters. But under what theory of a “limited government” is Congress justified in taxing and spending for such purposes as building roads, bridges, train tracks, airports, electric grids, libraries, swimming pools, and housing, educating our children, providing pre-school and day care; re-training the unemployed, and bailing out big banks and big industry (such as the auto industry)?  The answer is that according to the delegated powers vested in Congress in Article I, Section 8, none of those responsibilities is allowed. “The powers not delegated to the States, nor prohibited to them, are reserved to the States and to the People.”  Then Tenth Amendment tells us that all of these objects rightfully belong to the States. While the government assumes the authority to tax and spend for these objects from the General Welfare Clause, it is the Tenth Amendment that supersedes.

The amount spent on such programs is staggering:

First of all, the US Treasury divides all federal spending into three groups: mandatory spending, discretionary spending and interest on debt. Mandatory and discretionary spending account for more than ninety percent of all federal spending, and pay for all of the government services and programs on which many rely. Federal spending for 2015 was broken down as follows: Mandatory spending at 64.4%, Discretionary spending at 29.3%, and Interest on the debt at 6.03%.

Discretionary spending refers to the portion of the budget that is decided by Congress through the annual appropriations process each year. These spending levels are set each year by Congress. In fiscal year 2015, $1.1 trillion out of a total budget of $3.8 trillion was spent on discretionary spending. By far, the biggest category of discretionary spending is spending on the Pentagon and related military programs. Examples of other well-known programs paid for by discretionary spending include the early childhood education program Head Start (included in Housing & Community), Title I grants to disadvantaged schools and Pell grants for low-income college students (Education), other school funding, food assistance for Women, Infants and Children (WIC), training and placement for unemployed people provided by Workforce Investment Boards (in Social Security, Unemployment and Labor), and scientific research through the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and National Science Foundation (NSF), among many others.

Mandatory spending is spending that Congress legislates outside of the annual appropriations process, usually less than once a year. Out of a total budget of $3.8 trillion, $2.45 trillion was spend on mandatory spending. It is dominated by the well-known “earned-benefit” programs Social Security and Medicare (that is, people have money taken out of their wages for these programs). It also includes widely used safety net programs like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly food stamps), and a significant amount of federal spending on transportation, among other things.

Many mandatory programs’ spending levels are determined by eligibility rules. For example, Congress decides to create a program like Social Security. It then sets criteria for determining who is eligible to receive benefits from the program, and benefit levels for people who are eligible. The amount of money spent on Social Security each year is then determined by how many people are eligible and apply for benefits, whether or not they have paid into the program. [Note: Congress does not decide each year to increase or decrease the budget for Social Security or other earned benefit programs. Instead, it periodically reviews the eligibility rules and may change them in order to exclude or include more people, or offer more or less generous benefits to those who are eligible, and therefore change the amount spent on the program].

Mandatory spending makes up nearly two-thirds of the total federal budget. Social Security alone comprises more than 1/3 of mandatory spending and around 23% of the total federal budget. Medicare makes up an additional 23% of mandatory spending and 15% of the total federal budget. [See:  https://www.nationalpriorities.org/budget-basics/federal-budget-101/spending/ ]

The question is: Are these grants and other forms of assistance to the States constitutional?  Perhaps such programs as Social Security and Medicare are constitutional, or at least at one time were (that is, when salary deductions for them were still considered a property right), but now they are simply considered another federal tax.

But what about the other programs??   Welfare (for the poor and the generational dependents), education funding, funding for transportation, state grants?

On the government’s website (https://www.grants.gov/learn-grants/grant-policies.html; “A Short History of Federal Grant Policy”), there is this explanation:

      Billions of dollars in Federal grants are awarded each year for programs and projects that benefit the public. This assistance is rooted in the Constitution and its call to “promote the general Welfare.”

      It wasn’t until the 1970’s, however, that Federal grant policy began to evolve into what it is today. The Federal Grant and Cooperative Agreement Act, passed in 1977, set out to guide government agencies in their use of Federal funds – particularly by defining the roles of contracts, cooperative agreements, and grants. Contracts, the law states, should be awarded when a Federal agency is acquiring something – an improved computer network, for example. Grants and cooperative agreements, meanwhile, should be awarded when a Federal agency is providing assistance, such as funding for a lower-income housing program in an at-risk urban community.

The federal government, by law, has established a grant program (mandatory grants and discretionary grants) whereby it provides funding to the states as a means to further its policies or to coerce conformity among the states on matters it has no actual constitutional authority to legislate. These grants are contractual in nature and so, legally, if the particular state accepts the money, it agrees to the conditions attached to it. It’s a matter of free will. And so the government achieves contractually, and coercively (because money is an attractive carrot) what it cannot achieve constitutionally. It is the means by which the federal government can control and coerce the States; it is the means by which the federal government can achieve an end-run around the Constitution and accomplish unconstitutionally what the Constitution legally does not allow it to accomplish. Federal grants to the states (grants-in-aid) are a primary mechanism that the federal government uses to extend its influence into state and local affairs.

The matter of federal funding and the coercion associated with it was addressed in 1987 with the Supreme Court case South Dakota v. Dole. The case centered on the constitutionality of the National Minimum Drinking Age Act, which was passed in 1984.  Specifically the Supreme court was asked to consider the limitations that the Constitution places on the authority of the US Congress when it uses its authority to influence the individual states in areas of authority normally reserved to the states.

The National Minimum Drinking Age Act (NMDAA) withheld 10% of federal highway funding from states that did not maintain a minimum legal drinking age of 21. South Dakota, which allowed 19-year-olds to purchase beer, challenged the law as an abuse of power, naming Secretary of Transportation Elizabeth Dole as the defendant.

The Court, in a 7-2 opinion, upheld the statute’s constitutionality. The majority opinion, written by Chief Justice William Rehnquist, articulated a 5-point rule for considering the constitutionality of expenditure cuts of the type in the NMDAA:

  • The spending must promote “the general welfare.”
  • The condition must be unambiguous.
  • The condition should relate “to the federal interest in particular national projects or programs.”
  • The condition imposed on the states must not, in itself, be unconstitutional.
  • The condition must not be coercive.

Rehnquist concluded that the NMDAA met the first three restrictions and thus was a constitutional exercise of Congressional authority. Furthermore, he wrote that Congress did not violate the Tenth Amendment because it merely exercised its right to control its spending nor did the statute coerce the states since it cut only a small percentage of federal funding.  According to Rehnquist, Congress applied pressure, but not irresistible pressure.

I believe the opinion was a poor exercise of judicial interpretation, and it hurts me to say that considering what a fan I usually am of William Rehnquist.

While contacts are always allowable, the question I ask is whether it is constitutional in the first place for the federal government to collect tax money for the purpose of doing something unconstitutional (even if it is by contract). I think it is an unconstitutional object of the taxing power. The power to coerce through funding is the power to coerce period.

If the federal government can use public funding to extend its authority, why can’t a state government have its citizens withhold federal tax dollars and direct it to itself instead in order to further its state authority under the Tenth Amendment?

Federal grants, put simply, are not only an unconstitutional exercise of the federal taxing and spending power but act to distort and erode the critical balance of government power between the states and the federal government.

SEPARATE GRANT OF POWER OR QUALIFYING PHRASE?

The words “General Welfare” actually create something of a dilemma. Either the founders didn’t really intend to create a general government of limited powers, or the General Welfare clause doesn’t really mean unlimited federal authority to do things beneficial to the nation as a whole.  What is it?

The answer, of course is easy. It’s just not the convenient answer for the federal government.

The grant of power to “provide . . . for the general welfare” raises a two–fold question:  (1) How may Congress provide for “the general welfare,” and (2) What is “the general welfare” that it is authorized to promote?

The first half of this question was answered by Thomas Jefferson in his opinion (to President George Washington and the First US Congress) on the government’s authority to establish a National Bank as follows: “The laying of taxes is the power, and the general welfare the purpose for which the power is to be exercised. They [Congress] are not to lay taxes ad libitum for any purpose they please; but only to pay the debts or provide for the welfare of the Union. In like manner, they are not to do anything they please to provide for the general welfare, but only to lay taxes for that purpose.” The clause, in short, is not an independent grant of power, but a qualification of the taxing power. Although a broader view has been occasionally asserted, and although Congress has acted under that assumption, the Supreme Court has NOT upheld that view.

Let’s start by looking at construction:

The “General Welfare” clause, as one can notice and read, is set off by commas after the delegation of taxing power, for the purpose of clarifying WHAT the taxes collected are to be spent on. The powers enumerated in the following lines go into more specifics as to what Section 8 means when it says “to provide for the common Defense and general Welfare of the United States.” The fact that the framers followed up the general welfare clause in Article I Sec. 8 with specific enumerated powers indicates the latter – a qualification on federal authority. If they had intended Congress should have the power to do virtually anything and everything to promote the general welfare, they wouldn’t have bothered to include specific powers.

We don’t need to speculate on what the “General Welfare” clause means and we shouldn’t have to take the word of a politically-appointed Supreme Court justice. We only need to look at the explanation provided by the author of the Constitution himself, James Madison.

In a letter to James Robertson, dated April, 20, 1831, Madison makes quite clear that the phrase “for the General Welfare” is not a separate grant of power:

“With respect to the two words “general welfare,” I have always regarded them as qualified by the detail of powers connected with them. To take them in a literal and unlimited sense would be a metamorphosis of the Constitution into a character which there is a host of proofs was not contemplated by its creators.”

The General Welfare Clause is not an enlargement clause, authorizing the government to tax and spend to pay the nation’s debts, to provide for the common defense, and to do anything it wants for the general welfare. It is a clarifying clause, serving once again as a reminder the goals of the government. The goals, of course, are stated in the Preamble to the Constitution:  “To form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity….”

Again, if our Founding Fathers and drafters of the Constitution had intended Congress should have the power to do virtually anything and everything it wanted in order to promote the general welfare, they wouldn’t have bothered to include specific delegations of power. If the government was intended to be one of unlimited and consolidated powers, what state would have ratified it?  The truth is that the Constitution was sold to the States, through written and oral assurances, as one creating a common government of limited powers to serve the States and to carry out their common functions.

James Madison, as I hope everyone knows, was a primary author of The Federalist Essays, which became known as The Federalist Papers. Knowing that of the 55 delegates who attended the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia, only 39 signed it at the end (September 17).  Some didn’t sign because they had already left explained the convention and several didn’t sign because they could not lend it their support.  He also knew that some heavy hitters refused to even attend the convention because of grave suspicions of what the convention might try to do and that they would not support his Constitution in the state ratifying conventions. And in fact, during the ratification debates, Anti-Federalists who opposed the Constitution voiced fears that people would come along and assert that the term “General Welfare” granted unlimited power to the federal government.

Madison, together with Alexander Hamilton and John Jay, wrote the Federalist essays (ie, the Federalist Papers) as a means to explain each provision of the Constitution and for the purpose of providing assurances to the States as they contemplated whether to adopt it or not. In particular, the Federalist essays addressed the fears, the skepticism, the concerns of the Anti-Federalists (who had written a series of essays highlighting the defects in the new Constitution). The Federalist Papers, coming from the primary author of the Constitution, the man who called for the Convention, the man who provided the rough draft (rough outline) of the proposed new government), the man who attended each day, the man who took faithful notes of the proceedings and debates, the man who was almost universally perceived as being honest and trustworthy, and the man who most had a stake in seeing the Constitution through to its adoption (since it was his vision to scrap the Articles of Confederation) in favor of a new government), are without a doubt the most important and the primary authority on the meaning and intent of the US Constitution.

With that in mind, Madison addressed the scope of the General Welfare Clause in his Essay No. 41:

      For what purpose could the enumeration of particular powers be inserted, if these and all others were meant to be included in the preceding general power?  Nothing is more natural nor common than first to use a general phrase, and then to explain and qualify it by a recital of particulars. But the idea of an enumeration of particulars which neither explain nor qualify the general meaning, and can have no other effect than to confound and mislead, is an absurdity, which, as we are reduced to the dilemma of charging either on the authors of the objection or on the authors of the Constitution, we must take the liberty of supposing, had not its origin with the latter.

He went on, in Essay No. 41:

      In a more remote stage, the imports may consist in a considerable part of raw materials, which will be wrought into articles for exportation, and will, therefore, require rather the encouragement of bounties, than to be loaded with discouraging duties. A system of government, meant for duration, ought to contemplate these revolutions, and be able to accommodate itself to them. Some, who have not denied the necessity of the power of taxation, have grounded a very fierce attack against the Constitution, on the language in which it is defined. It has been urged and echoed, that the power ‘to lay and collect taxes, duties, imposts, and excises, to pay the debts, and provide for the common defense and general welfare of the United States,’ amounts to an unlimited commission to exercise every power which may be alleged to be necessary for the common defense or general welfare. No stronger proof could be given of the distress under which these writers labor for objections, than their stooping to such a misconstruction. Had no other enumeration or definition of the powers of the Congress been found in the Constitution, than the general expressions just cited, the authors of the objection might have had some color for it; though it would have been difficult to find a reason for so awkward a form of describing an authority to legislate in all possible cases. A power to destroy the freedom of the press, the trial by jury, or even to regulate the course of descents, or the forms of conveyances, must be very singularly expressed by the terms ‘to raise money for the general welfare.’

Again, the Federalist Papers, because of how wrote the essays and for the purpose they were written, are the primary authority on the meaning and intent of the US Constitution.

Madison further illuminated the intended meaning of the General Welfare Clause in a letter written to Edmund Pendleton in 1793, pointing out that the phrase was lifted from the Articles of Confederation and was intended to retain its meaning in the new Constitution.

       “If Congress can do whatever in their discretion can be done by money, and will promote the general welfare, the Government is no longer a limited one possessing enumerated powers, but an indefinite one subject to particular exceptions. It is to be remarked that the phrase out of which this doctrine is elaborated, is copied from the old articles of Confederation, where it was always understood as nothing more than a general caption to the specified powers, and it is a fact that it was preferred in the new instrument for that very reason as less liable than any other to misconstruction.”

According to Madison, “the most important and fundamental question” with respect to the intent and meaning of the Constitution and the design of the government created was the meaning of and the relationship between the General Welfare Clause and the enumeration of particular powers in Article I, Sect. 8. This question, as he explained in Federalist No. 41, is the most “fundamental” because the answer determines the very “idea” or “nature” of the U.S. Constitution. It determines the ambition of the federal government.  Legal scholars and commentators virtually agree that the clause was not a separate grant of power but rather a substantive grant of power for the generally-stated end (see the Preamble to the Constitution). They agree that the primary purpose of the ensuing enumeration was to define more particularly the ends alluded to by the phrase “General Welfare.” Hence, the meaning of the general constitutional government in the American federal system is a government oriented to a limited number of limited ends.

I would argue then, that any “taxing and spending” for purposes not permitted under the enumerated powers, and in fact, reserved to the States per the Tenth Amendment, is impermissible and unconstitutional.

But we all know that the States are weak and the Supreme Court, because of its general aversion to cling to a meaning associated with an era long gone, intentionally ignores what our Founders have said and what they have written. They prefer to engage in their progressive way of interpreting the document in order to update it – which is merely a way of saying that they want to ignore the intended restraints on the federal government in order to transfer more and more power to it.

So the words “general welfare” must mean something other than a grant of power for Congress to do whatever it pleased. What exactly did the framers mean?

Two words in the clause hold the key – the words general and common. The phrase simply means that any tax collected must be collected to the benefit of the United States as a whole, not for partial or sectional (i.e. special) interests. The federal government may promote the general welfare, or common good, but it must do so within the scope of the powers delegated and without favoritism.

Let’s look at what the Supreme Court has said:

The Constitution contains two references to “the General Welfare” — one occurring in the Preamble and the other in the Taxing and Spending Clause. The Supreme Court, in the case Jacobson v. Massachusetts (1905), has held the mention of the clause in the Preamble to the U.S. Constitution “has never been regarded as the source of any substantive power conferred on the Government of the United States or on any of its Departments.”  Furthermore, the Court has held that the understanding of the General Welfare Clause contained in the Taxing and Spending Clause adheres to the construction given it by Associate Justice Joseph Story in his 1833 Commentaries on the Constitution of the United States:

“A power to lay taxes for any purposes whatsoever is a general power; a power to lay taxes for certain specified purposes is a limited power. A power to lay taxes for the common defense and general welfare of the United States is not in common sense a general power. It is limited to those objects. It cannot constitutionally transcend them.”    [Commentaries on the Constitution of the United States, in §919]

Justice Story concluded that the General Welfare Clause is not a grant of general legislative power, but a qualification on the taxing power which includes within it a federal power to spend federal revenues on matters of general interest to the federal government.

The problem with Justice Story’s comment (above) is that the “General Welfare” does NOT mean “General Interest to the federal government.” It means the “general welfare of the American people.” The clause means that the US Congress the power to spend for matters affecting only the national welfare, and not certain groups particularly.

The problem is that the federal government is addicted to taxing; it gives government the ability to carry out its expressly-delegated function and also the ability to carry out functions it has no authority to regulate. The latter it accomplishes by bribery – I mean, it offers the states grant money (in exchange for complying with conditions; conditioned spending).

When challenged on the federal government’s constitutional authority to create welfare programs, meddle in educations, take over public education, offer programs specifically for illegal aliens and Hispanic green-card holders, or run a national healthcare system, progressives will almost always appeal to the “General Welfare Clause.” Because they believe the government SHOULD be handling such tasks, they advance the “all-inclusive” and “all-authoritative” view of the Clause. And who is really willing to challenge this – the greater than 50% of the people who depend on government programs enacted “for the so-called General Welfare”?  At some point, there will be so very many people unable to support themselves and provide the substance to take care of themselves and their families and who look to the government that the federal courts are going to have to officially re-interpret the General Welfare Clause to give Congress a blank check to legislate for any reason related to the “general” welfare or to the welfare of any particular group of people. And perhaps that is the reason the government has, over the years, established so many policies designed to get Americans dependent on it for their essentials. Perhaps that is why Democrats in particular, continue to make sure that those on entitlement and other social programs are increasingly more “comfortable” in their poverty rather than pressured to abandon a life of dependency for one of employment and production.

WELFARE: CONSTITUTIONAL or NOT?  HOW BETTER TO PROVIDE A SAFETY-NET?

As explained above, I believe any taxiing and spending for objects NOT expressly tasked to the federal government by Article I, Sect. 8, is unconstitutional. There is no provision in the Constitution for (1) Discretionary Spending; (2) Grants and Other Types Assistance, which includes things like grants and scholarships for education, grants to the States (for roads, bridges, airports, ports, railroad tracks, public schools, Medicaid and other dependency programs, healthcare, etc); (3) Education; (4) Universal Healthcare; or (5) Welfare and other government-sponsored public assistance programs. All of these types of spending (although one might argue that for the most part, some are duplicated) allow the government to do the following:

(1)  Maintain a high federal taxation rate

(2)  Accomplish what the Constitution itself does not allow it to do.  (They permit the government to make an end-run around the Constitution)

(3)  Control people. A person dependent on government will never vote against its interests.

(4)  Exercise control over the States  (Most States can’t fund all that the State requires internally and for its people through the money that it raises by state taxation, and that is why they almost reflexively and automatically put their hands out when the federal government offers government assistance)

(5)  Apply coercion to the States.  (Again, most States can’t fund all that the State requires internally and for its people through the money that it raises by state taxation, and that is why they almost reflexively and automatically put their hands out when the federal government offers government assistance, even though they know that the funds come with strings and often times, it deprives the State of the decisions and options it could have exercised on its own)

(6)  Establish uniformity among the States (slowly erasing the borders that distinguish one state and its “politics” from another).  Dangling funds in front of a State that is otherwise strapped for funds is coercive pressure (regardless of what judges who sit on a bench in DC say) and usually results in the States accepting the money, agreeing to its conditions, and sacrificing little by little its state autonomy and sovereignty.

In other words, the spending identified above, including funding (grants) to the States and including welfare and other means-tested assistance programs, are unconstitutional.

Healthcare is a social program, plain and simple; it is socialist at its core. Those who the government determines are able to pay their insurance premiums must do so, and in fact, will be burdened with an increase in premiums. Why?  Because they are paying not only to cover themselves and their families, but to help cover all those in poverty who can’t afford healthcare on their own. It is a government program based on simple re-distribution of wealth and socialism. One group of individuals suffers a burden while another group receives a hand-out. Both pretty much get the same level of healthcare coverage.

Government, or universal, healthcare is not legitimately covered by the “General Welfare” Clause because the program doesn’t apply equally to everyone. It is a program whereby the government commandeers half the American population to cover (pay) the healthcare insurance premium costs of the other half. One half benefits in every sense of the word while the other half is forced to incur an additional burden.

Welfare, and other means-tested social programs, are other programs based on re-distribution of wealth. Those who work and make enough are required to pay federal income taxes. They work at least 3 months out of the year to pay the government what it requires, which is essentially 30% of their income and a lot more for other types of assets. Those who don’t work or only work a little (and don’t make enough) can go on welfare and can take advantage of other means-tested social programs. They can sit around and wait for their government checks – money that flows directly from those who earn and produce to those who don’t.

These programs are not legitimately covered by the “General Welfare” Clause because frankly, it doesn’t fit the definition of “general welfare.” The opening paragraph of Article I, Sect. 8 means that any tax collected must be collected in order that the government (Congress) can fund all the projects pertaining to the express powers granted to it (ie, the enumerated powers), which collectively are covered by the phrase “for the common defense and to provide for the general welfare.” Welfare and other means-tested social programs do NOT benefit the citizens of the United States as a whole, but rather benefit only a subset of the people. In fact, a good portion of citizens are harmed in order to benefit the others. That hardly seems fair. The Constitution doesn’t empower the US Congress to institutionalize giving and compassion. It only empowers Congress to act in those areas that the States originally agreed to in 1788. [On June 21, 1788 the Constitution became the official governing document of the United States of America when New Hampshire became the ninth of thirteen states to ratify it, per Article VII].

The grants to the States are simply unconstitutional because the federal government, in Article I, Sect. 8, was not delegated the authority to address any of the purposes for which the grants are offered. If the government can simply accomplish through funds (conditional funding) what it can’t accomplish according to the Constitution, then the government is not a limited one but one easily and most likely capable of becoming overly ambitious and controlling. If the government can simply accomplish through funds (conditional funding) what it can’t accomplish according to the Constitution, then our government is not longer “federal” but “national.” And we see that is absolutely true today.

Let’s go back to Welfare (and other means-tested social programs) and look at the inherent unfairness in the program. One group of people exists on welfare and other social programs; their needs and essentials are provided by the government. Since they earn no money, they pay no federal taxes. The other group is self-sufficient and is able to provide for themselves and their families (the way it was supposed to be), and because they are considered “successful,” the government demands that they pay a fairly substantial federal income tax. In fact, all their income, all their property, and all their assets must be diligently disclosed to the IRS.  Government, of course, doesn’t provide its own money but rather must obtain it, usually through taxpayer funding. So, the first group, on welfare, is not supported by the government but rather by hard-working tax-paying citizens.  One groups pays (heavily) and the other sits back and receives; yet both enjoy the freedoms, the civil rights, and the privileges, as well as the safety and security provided by the United States. But, truth be told, both exist differently and both are not served equally from the government. Here are some differences:

(a) Those on welfare don’t need to work; they don’t even need to get out of bed or get off the couch. They can socialize or they can spend all day with their kids.  Those not on welfare must work and must always be concerned that their jobs are secure.

(b)  Those on welfare don’t have to worry where their money comes from and don’t have to live check to check for their rent and their grocery bills. They get a check from the government which they can count on. Those not on welfare often live check to check; in fact, they sometimes have to take on a second job or have their spouse go to work to cover bills.  (The ironic thing is that those on welfare often tell Health & Human Services Office that there are no jobs, yet those not on welfare often have no problem finding a second job)

(c)  Those on welfare get a break in college tuition; there are lots of scholarship and tuition assistance aid to help them; those not on welfare pay more for their children to go to college.

(d)  Those on welfare get free healthcare.  Those not on welfare have to pay for their own health insurance or make sure they get a job that provides it.

(e)  Those on welfare (or those who meet other means-tested criteria) can also get food stamps (to help them buy more nutritious food), assistance for daycare (even though they don’t work), housing assistance, assistance to help cover heat and air-conditioning, etc etc.  In other words, over the years, more and more social programs have been created to help make people more comfortable in their poverty. They do NOTHING to help them become independent and self-sufficient, and in fact, do everything to establish the hand-outs as a way of life.

(f)  Those on welfare can have all the kids they want, including with as many different men as they want. Sure, they are supposed to disclose the name and contact information of the father of each child to Health & Human Services, but knowing people who have worked with HHS, women aren’t always forthcoming with such information. My mother, who worked for years with the New Hanover County Department of Health & Human Services, used to tell me how frustrating it was to work there and what a scam Welfare is. She told me how mostly black women would come in to the office with two and three and four kids and want their check. She would ask them for the name of the father of the children, and the response would be “I don’t know” or “Just give me my damn check.” She would call for her supervisor and eventually, every single time, they would get their check without giving any information.  Those not on welfare have to make a cost-benefit analysis when planning their families. Having children isn’t a scam to them or a money-making scheme. Their concerns are always whether they can afford them and provide a good life for them.

(g)  Those on welfare are supposed to continually look for work and report their efforts to HHS, but we know that’s a joke. Most know exactly how to game the system. When those not on welfare need to find a new job, they make an honest and great effort to do so.

(h)  Those on welfare can do drugs and abuse alcohol whenever they want and still collect their checks. Those not on welfare must always conduct themselves in a manner to be good and responsible employees; they must show up for work on time, be alert, be productive, not call out excessively, and must be able to pass an on-the-spot drug test.

(i)  Those on welfare never have to worry about keeping a record of their expenses, keeping receipts, or hiring an accountant to navigate the federal income tax form. They never have to worry about being audited by the IRS or will never know the absolute fear of getting a certified letter from them.  They will never have to worry about having the IRS telling them that they should have paid more in taxes and so, the money they planned to use for a vacation must be turned over immediately. Those not on welfare are slaves to the IRS and to the April 15 deadline to file their taxes.

(j)  Those on welfare never have to worry about saying or doing anything on social media or in their private lives that might somehow prevent them from receiving their checks. Those not on welfare, however, must forever be diligent in what they say, how they say it, where they say it, to who they say it, and they must be careful to give the appearance of being neutral on religion and politics and social issues should a co-worker somehow find out or should Human Resources find out. Personal opinions and politics, and activism and association…  these once traditional exercises of the First Amendment now can be reason to be fired from a job or to be denied an interview.

(l)  Those on welfare automatically get an increase in their living expenses with each additional child. Those not on welfare do not. Those not on welfare (ie, those who have honest employment) cannot game the system and defraud their employer.

(m)  Those on welfare can exploit various ways to exploit the entitlement system, including colluding with men to have additional children and splitting the welfare funds.

Welfare and other government hand-out programs offer only one positive benefit: They offer a safety net to those who temporarily are unable to work and provide for themselves and their family. This safety net was intended to be temporary, to provide for the individual while he or she figures out a way to get back on his/her feet and back into the workforce. It was NOT intended to be a way of life. It was NOT intended to be a viable alternative to a career or being a productive member of society. On the other hand, welfare and other government hand-out programs offer many negative effects (many perhaps are unintended consequences), including the following:

  • They generate and reward sloth
  • They relieve too many young people of the energy they would need to invest in an education or to learn a skill
  • They result in a lack of ambition
  • They result in an obese population (as someone from New Dehli once explained to his family: “I want to live in America. I want to live in a country where the poor people are obese.” Dinesh D’Souza tells this story)
  • They have resulted in, and continue to result in, the destruction of the family unit (welfare contains marriage penalties)
  • They have increased, and continue to increase, the level of poverty in our country [Families with an absent father, black and white alike, generally occupy the bottom rung of America’s economic ladder. Regardless of race or ethnicity, the poverty rate for single parents with children is several times higher than the corresponding rate for married couples with children. According to Robert Rector, with the Heritage Foundation, “the absence of marriage increases the frequency of child poverty 700 percent” and thus constitutes the single most reliable predictor of a self-perpetuating underclass. Articulating a similar theme many years ago, Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “Nothing is so much needed as a secure family life for a people to pull themselves out of poverty”]
  • They inspire and encourage too many people to stay on welfare and not look for employment (cost-benefit analysis)
  • They perpetuate of ignorance, illiteracy, etc
  • They serve as a viable alternative to getting an education
  • They reward those who did not take public education seriously nor took any initiative to learn a skill
  • They reward women for having children without being married
  • They reward women for not cooperating with authorities to identify the father or fathers of their children (in order to have them provide child care)
  • They have created generational government dependency (young girls imprint on their mothers and get pregnant without being married in order to be taken care of rather than get educated and work)
  • Rather than serve the positive goal of providing a temporary safety-net until the applicant can get back on his or her feet, they have become a permanent means of support. Dependency has become a way of life. (Over the years, more and more social programs have been created to help make people more comfortable in their poverty. They do NOTHING to help them become independent and self-sufficient, and in fact, do everything to establish the hand-outs as a way of life)
  • They have resulted in the increase in crime, drug use, and human decay [In agreeing to sign the Civil Rights legislation of 1965, LBJ’s chief objective was to reduce dependency by blacks and put an end to the disproportionately high rate of black poverty. He said he wanted “to break the cycle of poverty” and make “taxpayers out of tax eaters.” He further claimed that his programs would bring to an end the “conditions that breed despair and violence,” those being “ignorance, discrimination, slums, poverty, disease, not enough jobs”]
  • They have ruined whole communities
  • They have created a class system in the US (those who are dependent and are takers; and those who are independent and produce).
  • They have caused one group of citizens to distrust and to have no respect for another group of people (because many recipients are non-citizens)
  • They have caused people to question the legitimacy of the voting system [Is it fair for people living off the government (ie, other people), to have the ability to vote and have a say in how other people’s money is spent? Maybe there should be a progressive voting system like there is a progressive income tax…. Those with more money and assets are taxed at a higher level so maybe their votes should carry greater weight]

To highlight the differences between those on welfare and other social programs with those who provide for themselves one sentence, I would sum it up this way: Those on welfare receive a check without any conditions attached; those not on welfare are subject to.

The federal government has been financing government-provided welfare since the 1930s. Of the more than $1.1 trillion spent in fiscal year 2016, federal expenditures accounted for $829 billion (or 74% of all funding related to welfare programs), and state expenditures accounted for $297 billion (or 26%). Most state spending ($213 billion) is done on one single program – Medicaid. In terms of GDP, welfare alone accounts for 6%. It has risen steadily and quickly in the years after Ronald Reagan left office. During LBJ’s term, welfare spending accounted for 1.5% of GDP; during Carter’s term it more than doubled – to 3.6%; during Reagan’s term, it remained the same and even dipped; but then after he left office, it began to increase quickly and steadily.

Imagine how much each taxpayer could be relieved in his or her federal taxation burden if the federal government taxed only for the spending for which it is constitutionally allowed.  Imagine how much each individual State could then tax its citizens. They would be able to raise money on their own to cover internal expenses – the running of the State and the care of its people – and more importantly, they could spend that money AS THEY SEE FIT, and not within the conditions imposed by the federal government. Imagine how, if this financial dependency were ended, the rightful balance between federal and state government power could be better achieved.  Taking away the financial power to coerce and control leaves the States in a better position to stand up to the federal government rather than to cower and concede.

As mentioned above, the spending identified above, including funding (grants) to the States and including welfare and other means-tested assistance programs, are unconstitutional.  Yet there are citizens who feel passionate and strongly that those who can give up some of their income should do so in order to take care of those who are less fortunate, those who are legitimately disabled (and not like some friends I know who filed for disability because of their obesity), those who work but can’t provide enough for their family (while still continuing to have more and more kids), those who are here illegally and need help providing for their growing families, those who have children without being or getting married (including those who refuse to provide information to the authorities for child-support), those who are crafty at defrauding the system, those who ignored the opportunity to become educated and hence can’t get anything other than a minimum-wage job, and those who simply don’t want to work.  I wonder if they feel so passionate and so supportive of these people because they know that it is other people’s hard-earned money that will be used to support them. I wonder if they would feel the same if the money was taken from them, their family, their food allowance, and their recreation fund.  I think the only legal way that the federal government can offer welfare and other means-tested assistance programs is if it asks each taxpayer, at the time they file their taxes, if they would be willing to donate additional of their money for the care of the poor. I’m sure many would agree to do so. I’m also sure that such programs would have much less funding which means criteria would be stricter and time restraints would have to be added. The programs would clearly have to be temporary in nature and because of stringent criteria, there would be indirect pressure to get off as soon as possible.

So, let me list out some solutions to the problem of federal discretionary spending, including Welfare and state grants:

(i)  My first solution to this out-of-control, unconstitutional-taxing and spending bloated government is for the States to challenge each item of federal spending for constitutionality. For each item that is not constitutional, the federal income tax rate should be reduced accordingly.

(ii)  My second solution (and this one is for Welfare only) would be the one outlined in the previous full paragraph (each taxpayer can offer to send additional of their money to the government for welfare programs). Personally, I like this one.  This forces people to put up or shut up. It forces people to put their money where their mouth is.

(iii)  My third solution is each state to establish a State Escrow Account. (I’ve written an article on this and how it would work).  Each State would review the federal budget and determine which items are constitutional or not. It would then adjust the federal budget accordingly. Then it would determine the pro rata share of that budget that North Carolina residents would provide. The state would require all residents to have their federal income tax first reviewed by the State Treasury Department. Only the portion that corresponds to constitutional federal spending would be forwarded to the IRS and the remainder would be deposited in the State Escrow Account. The state would then determine for itself what to do with the escrow funds – either returning it to its residents or applying it to state projects, thus relieving the state of any un-necessary reliance on the federal government and moving the state towards the independence it was intended to have.

(iv)  My last solution is to keep welfare and the other means-tested social programs, but to treat them like state grants and attached strict conditions to recipient status. Remember, welfare and other such social entitlement programs are like state grants in that they both are an unconstitutional exercise of the taxing and spending power. Conditions should be attached for two essential reasons: (1) to ensure that recipients can only receive benefits for a LIMITED time (there will need to be time limits); and (2) to make it so burdensome that recipients will want to get off of government assistance as soon as possible, whether that means they will look at marriage and education more favorably or will invest in career training programs or will make sure they do not have further children which may tend to keep them dependent on government aid. Some conditions that should be placed on free government aid (ie, other people’s money) include:

  • Mandatory birth control. (No government check without first receiving a monthly birth control shot)
  • No increase in the welfare check and no additional funds should the recipient have another child while on public assistance
  • Suspension of the right to vote
  • Definite earmarks are attached to the funding. Funds can only go towards essential food items, housing, and transportation. Any person on government assistance who can afford a new car will be automatically kicked out of the program
  • No free cell phones
  • No visits to the nail salon
  • No funding for air-conditioning (Lowe’s sells a great $12 fan which works wonders in the heat)
  • Mandatory proof of job searches (including signed statements from each employer consulted, including the reason the person could not be considered or interviewed. Job searches will be viewed with extreme scrutiny for potential for fraud and abuse; for example, a person who has a criminal record should not be looking for a job with law enforcement or education, daycare, etc because such jobs expressly require employees to have no criminal background history)
  • Mandatory community college or GED courses for those who did not graduate high school or who barely graduated (those who severely lack the basic skills and knowledge imputed on an adult, or a young adult)
  • Mandatory college or community college courses for those who have no college diploma, associates degree, vocational training, etc (No government check without a report showing course status; if a person is not working, he or she must be developing their career and building valuable job skills)
  • Children of a person on welfare must be doing well in school (average or better)
  • Proof of citizenship must be provided (and confirmed by the Social Security Department). Identity fraud will result in immediate deportation
  • Recipients must show they are drug-free (mandatory drug-testing)
  • Random audits will be conducted
  • Mandatory visits from a social worker to assess the cleanliness and order of the home and the environment for the child (or children)
  • Recipients must be available for community service when the state government needs them

I’m sure there are other conditions that I haven’t thought of and I’m sure that others would make some suggestions of their own.  In fact, I would encourage those who have read this article to comment and add their suggestions.

Milton Friedman, an economist, was highly critical of welfare, and noted several times how it should be judged by its results and outcomes and not by its intentions.  He also said: “There’s been one underlying basic fallacy in this idea of welfare measures, and that is that it is feasible and possible to do good with other people’s money. That view has two flaws. If I want to do good with other people’s money, I first have to take it away from them. That means that the welfare state philosophy of doing good with other people’s money, at it’s very bottom, is a philosophy of violence and coercion. It’s against freedom, because I have to use force to get the money. In the second place, very few people spend other people’s money as carefully as they spend their own.”

If we are going to coerce and extort money from taxpayers, not merely to provide safety and security for the country or to legislate for the enumerated objects in Article I, Section 8, but also to support those who don’t want to even try to support themselves and their families, then the very least we should do is provide accountability to those taxpayers (those hard-working men and women whose paychecks are seized by the government for 1/3 of the year) and that is to attach strict and limiting conditions to welfare checks. The program, which would have to be run as one that is contractual in nature and not as a constitutional responsibility, must be so burdensome, so intrusive, so violative of freedom, and so unattractive to the recipient that he or she will absolutely want to spend as little time as possible on it.  Well that’s the hope anyway.

 

References:

John Perazzo, “How the Liberal Welfare Destroyed Black America,” Front Page Magazine, May 5, 2016.  Referenced at:  https://www.frontpagemag.com/fpm/262726/how-liberal-welfare-state-destroyed-black-america-john-perazzo

Mike Maharrey, “The General Welfare Clause is Not About Writing Checks,” The Tenth Amendment Center, August 28, 2014.  Referenced at:  https://tenthamendmentcenter.com/2014/08/28/the-general-welfare-clause-is-not-about-writing-checks/

Federalist No. 41 –  http://avalon.law.yale.edu/18th_century/fed41.asp

“Federal Aid to States and Local Governments,” Congressional Budget Office (CBO), April 18, 2018.  Referenced at: https://www.cbpp.org/research/state-budget-and-tax/federal-aid-to-state-and-local-governments

The Delegates Who Didn’t Sign the Constitution –  https://www.constitutionfacts.com/us-constitution-amendments/those-who-didnt-sign-the-constitution/

Delegates to the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia (May 27 – September 1787) –  http://law2.umkc.edu/faculty/projects/ftrials/conlaw/marryff.html

“Federal Grants to State and Local Governments (1960-2017) – Chart Analysis,” Mercatus Center (George Mason University).  Referenced at:  https://www.mercatus.org/system/files/Federal-grant-aid-state-and-local-chart-analysis-pdf.pdf

“Federal Spending on Benefits and Services for People with Low Income: In Brief,” Congressional Research Service, Feb. 6, 2018.  Referenced at:  https://fas.org/sgp/crs/misc/R45097.pdf

“Spending for the General Welfare,” Cornell Law School.  Referenced at:  https://www.law.cornell.edu/anncon/html/art1frag29_user.html

Jefferson’s Opinion on the Constitutionality of a National Bank (1791), Avalon Project (Yale Law School).   Referenced at:  http://avalon.law.yale.edu/18th_century/bank-tj.asp

Grant Policy –  https://www.grants.gov/learn-grants/grant-policies.html

Federal Spending: Where Does the Money Go?,” National Priorities Project.  Referenced at:  https://www.nationalpriorities.org/budget-basics/federal-budget-101/spending/

Matthew J. Franck, “The Lawless Welfare State,” National Review, Jan. 13, 2013.  Referenced at:  https://www.nationalreview.com/magazine/2010/05/17/lawless-welfare-state/

 

The Federal Courts Have Become Political, as Judge Kavanaugh’s Confirmation Hearing Made Clear

KAVANAUGH - at Senate Confrrmation Hearing (Sept. 2018)

by Diane Rufino, Sept. 22, 2018

The United States is a constitutional republic.  It is not a democracy, as most people believe. A “republic” is a form of government in which supreme power is held by the people and their elected representatives, and which has an elected president rather than a monarch. It is a “constitutional” republic because it is the constitution which outlines what powers the government has and does not have. It is “constitutional” for another important reason; the constitution protects important individual rights that belong to ALL persons, whether those persons belong to a minority group or whether they happen to be of the majority. The implications of this are critical for our country. The majority may be successful in electing the representatives of their choice and may try to push the agenda that serves them best, but they can never target minority groups to burden their rights, liberties, privileges, or property.

As you can see, the Constitution is the cornerstone of our society; it forms the very foundation of our government system and the foundation of our Rule of Law. It defines the division of government power between the federal government and the states, and then the state and local governments have their authority.

The Constitution is the People’s document. How can that be when I just explained that how it defines the powers of government?  It is the People’s document because above all else, it sets limits on the power and the reach of government on the rights and in the lives of Americans. It establishes boundaries on government. Individual Liberty is greatest when government is most properly restrained.

After all, Individual Liberty is the great ideal on which our country was founded.

The problem with this ideal though, is in the diminishing role the Constitution holds and the transitory nature that too many judges attribute to it (“a living, breathing document”). The Constitution can’t mean what it what it was meant to mean…  That’s too archaic. It is a product of a different time, with different values.  The Constitution must mean what judges and justices infer it means, according to the changing times and values. This is the argument of liberal and progressive judges.

To compound this problem further is the fact that the federal government now holds a monopoly over the meaning and intent of the Constitution.  It can legislate as it wishes; it can enforce as it wishes, and god forbid either branch is challenged, well then the federal courts will usually support them. The federal judiciary is the branch which has given itself the supreme power to interpret the Constitution and to require all states and localities to abide by its opinions, even when that opinion is delivered by a single judge, by 2 members of a 3-member panel of judges, or by a 5-4 split on the Supreme Court.  (The point I’m making is that often an “opinion” is the result of a single judge).  As the name implies, the federal judiciary is a branch of the federal government. It is not an impartial tribunal for the various parties to a suit, including the States, the Church, individuals, minority groups, etc. It is a tribunal whose members are political appointees nominated by US presidents and confirmed by the political members of the US Senate. They are creatures of the federal government, beholden first and foremost to the system that put them on the seat of the highest courts of the land.

Does anyone really believe that, in their opinions, the federal courts are not going to tend to side with the federal government?

The truth is that the federal government is virtually free to assume any and all powers it wants or thinks it needs; conversely, it is also free to ignore powers it wants to ignore. And we’ve certainly seen this trend. Over the years, and it began almost immediately (in 1803), there has been a constant and steady transfer of government power from the States and from the People to the federal government. The government, once of limited powers, has now swelled to a government of consolidated and unlimited power.

To make matters even worse, the federal judiciary has become a third political branch, making the monopoly completely political in nature. Politics, as we know, invites aggression and division. It is not a unifying force but one of division.

The federal courts have become political, rather than apolitical, which is what they were intended to be. Interpretation of the Constitution should be, and MUST ALWAYS BE, free from politics. Interpretation is really simple; its black and white, and rarely involves shades of gray.  Those of us who have been involved in the reading of a will or navigating the fine print of a credit card, or even re-negotiating the terms of a contract, understand what interpretation is all about.  The terms speak for themselves. The provisions, including how they are written, with commas, semi-commas, and sub-paragraphs, speak to the intent.

In short, contract law governs the role of a judge when it comes to the interpretation of the Constitution; the document is interpreted according to its plain words, the meaning of those words at the time they were written and agreed upon, and any contemporaneous documents or writings that help explain the Constitution’s meaning and intent.

The contemporaneous documents that might be (and should be) included in a judge’s exercise of interpretation include The Federalist Papers (because they were written to explain the Constitution and because they were written, in large part, by James Madison, the primary author of the Constitution and Alexander Hamilton, who also attended the Convention in 1787, they were assurances given to the States on which they relied in their ratifying conventions) and any debates in the Ratifying Conventions (because those “understandings” became part of the “meeting of the minds” on which the States agreed to adopt the Constitution). There is NO role of a federal judge to interpret the Constitution applying modern values or norms or to interpret it through the lens of a political agenda.

And yet they do. In fact, there is a whole population of judges who are referred to as “progressive” or “liberal” judges and who hold the opinion that the US Constitution is not firm in meaning but rather is a “living, breathing document” to be molded and transformed by smart lawyers (considering themselves, of course, to be far smarter than we ordinary citizens) according to the dictates of politics and evolving social norms and values.  It is those types of lawyers, unfortunately, who have the power and authority to define those social norms and values. As we all know, social norms and values are political.

The Constitution is a social compact, which is important to understand. A social compact is an agreement among the members of a society on how they will organize and govern themselves. They organize and form a common government in order to establish order, to share common services, to cooperate for mutual benefit, and for protection. For example, a typical social compact requires some sacrificing of individual freedom for state protection. In other words, in an ordered society, individuals can’t go around taking the law into their own hands. The people of our founding generation (the people of the original states), acting through duly-organized state conventions, ratified the Constitution. In doing so, the States joined themselves in a federated union, agreeing to transfer some of their sovereign government powers to the common (or federal) government and agreeing to abide by its governance. So, it is the States which are the parties to the Constitution. The Constitution provides a mechanism – the only legal mechanism – by which those who are parties to its agreement (ie, the States) can amend it in order to bring it up to date with current norms and values, and that is the amendment process, which is outlined in Article V.  The options (two of them) are the only way the Constitution can legally be “updated” to reflect modern times. And that makes sense because again, the Constitution is a social compact and it is the People, in their state conventions, who make and amend that compact. It is THEY who determine how THEY want their society to be organized and governed and by which values and principles.  It is not the government to make that determination. Government has no such power; rather it is tasked to strictly interpret the Constitution. It is tasked to preserve the document that the People have drafted and adopted for their governance. Government has no power to amend it by back channels such as the federal bench or by policy or executive order because the government is not a party to the compact but rather, its creation.

Things are becoming worse and worse for our federal courts; they are increasingly becoming more political and becoming more aggressive in their roles. The reason they are becoming politicized is because liberals and progressives (Democrats) are increasingly turning to the federal courts to seek the progress that they cannot achieve through the ordinary democratic process (elections and lawmaking).

That is why what we saw a few weeks ago on TV with the Senate Judiciary Committee questioning Judge Brett Kavanaugh troubled us so thoroughly.  The Confirmation Hearing was an embarrassing, a humiliating, political circus. Democratic Senators not only organized and staged a despicable protest of Kavanaugh – carried out by numerous androgynous-looking individuals who screamed and essentially carried on like petulant children – but they engaged in outright character assassination. Democrats were proud of their conduct.  Senator Lindsey Graham articulated their conduct best when he told them (paraphrasing): “You were never going to vote for him. Why don’t you just do what you were going to instead of making a mockery of this hearing and doing everything you can to destroy the character of this fine man, and in front of his wife and children no less. Just vote NO, like you intended to.”

The Democrats want nothing more than to get promises from Kavanaugh that he will use his position as a Supreme Court justice to further their agenda to get rid of President Trump. They seek nothing more than to co-opt a single seat on the bench of the highest court in the land to undo the 2016 election – the legal and constitutional election by the people. The Democrats, in every public hearing, in every instance before a microphone, in every interview, with every national crisis, and with every act of presidential power taken by President Trump, use the occasion to condemn, criticize, mock, and humiliate him… to misconstrue his actions, to accuse him of acting erratically, and to call for his impeachment.

They are a bunch of low-lives who hold no moral ground to accuse anyone of being imperfect. How dare they impugn the character of someone like Brett Kavanaugh when they are, collectively, nothing more than a bunch of tax cheats, law-breakers, criminal solicitors, race baiters, hustlers, sexual predators, and constitutional illiterates. If Democrats are going to turn every confirmation of a Republican candidate into a very public “high-tech lynching” (a term used by Clarence Thomas in his own confirmation hearing), then I agree with those who argue that confirmation hearings should be kept closed and out of the eyes and ears of the American people. No one needs to be reminded of how low and vile and despicable and unconscionable and dishonest and uncivil our Democratic lawmakers have become.

I found Kavanaugh’s Senate Confirmation hearings to be absolutely sickening. Now, more than ever, I believe Democrats to be the enemy of our country and nothing more than parasites and a disease (a plague) on our good and honorable nation. They do NOT represent the values and conduct of the overwhelming majority of Americans. Most Americans conduct themselves mindful that they reflect upon the character and morality and decency of our great land.

While we are on this subject, let’s  not forget WHY Democrats conduct themselves as they do. Personally, I believe it’s because they are acting out of pure desperation and futility. They are a party of a derailed and un-American message; they are losing resonance with the American citizen (yet picking up new followers — illegals, foreigners, social misfits, transgenders, psychotics, financially-dependent sloths, ignoranuses…..) We are witnessing the desperate acts of the leaders of a desperate political party.

Let’s not forget WHY they follow the same sordid, sickening template every single time, which is to spread lies about Republican candidates and nominees and to make up allegations of sexual harassment …. Because it works. The politics of PERSONAL DESTRUCTION is something the Democrats have become good at. The politics of spreading lies and instilling fear (including a return to Jim Crow and a return to back-alley abortions) is something Democrats are good at. Look what it did to Judge Roy Moore. (You don’t hear anything any more about his accuser). Look what happened to Mitt Romney in 2012 when he ran for president. During that election, Harry Reid accused Mitt Romney, FALSELY, of not paying his taxes in over 10 years. He knew it wasn’t true. After the election, when confronted about his lie and whether he felt remorse for stooping so low, he said no. His response epitomized what the Democratic Party’s politics of personal destruction would become: “It worked didn’t it? He lost, didn’t he?”

We cannot fall for their immoral, unethical tricks.  They detest the one thing that matters most to a conservative – Truth. They will twist it and ignore it all day, all night, all week-end long, and twice on Sunday, if they think it will advance their agenda. They know no scruples and they know no decency. Again, they are parasites. They are our modern-day plague.

 

References:

Senator Lindsey Graham during the Senate Confirmation Hearings –  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WunFJhgKwig

SECESSION: Both a RIGHT and a REMEDY

SECESSION - constitution ripped in half

by Diane Rufino, September 23, 2018

Gene Kizer Jr. is a brilliant historian. He has written an excellent account of the causes of the War of Northern Aggression (aka, the War to Prevent Southern Independence; aka, the War Between the States; aka, the Civil War), in his book, Slavery Was Not the Cause of the War Between the States, and he has written some excellent articles as well, including on the right of secession. In his book and in his articles, he makes the case (most effectively) that secession was a reserved right of the states and that it was, in fact, exercised legitimately.

At the heart of the “Civil War” (which is, by the way, a most incorrect term for the conflict) was the right of the southern states to secede from the Union. That is, the lens through which we should look at, and assess, the war is whether Abraham Lincoln and his administration pursued a legal war by asserting that the eleven southern states that seceded from the Union had no constitutional right to do so.

The answer is that the southern states absolutely had the right to dissolve their union with the northern and more western states and their political bond to the federal government. Every state had and continues to have that fundamental right. Acknowledging this and therefore acknowledging that Lincoln incorrectly assessed the situation, he unconstitutionally assumed powers that were not granted to him, nor to the federal government in general.

Secession is a viable option to each state under three essential theories, and perhaps even others:

(1)  Each state has an essential right to determine its own form of government, under the natural right of self-determination. This natural right is articulated clearly in the second paragraph of the Declaration of Independence (“whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness…”), and in fact, forms the basis for the decision of the thirteen American states to secede from Great Britain. The first paragraph of the Declaration makes this point quite clear:

       When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

The Constitution does not prohibit nor limit the natural right of secession, even in Article I, Section 9 which is the provision that puts limits on the sovereign power of the states, but rather includes the very powerful and declaratory Tenth Amendment which states “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.” In other words, because the Constitution did not expressly prohibit the right of secession, that right is reserved (continues to be reserved) to the states. And to make it absolutely clear that the right of secession is a state right, the states demanded that the Tenth Amendment be added to the Constitution as a restatement of that fact.

So, the states have the RIGHT to secede.

(2)  Secession is also a REMEDY, reserved to the states by the very nature of the Constitution. The Constitution is a social compact, which essentially is a contract, or an agreement, among the members of a society to cooperate for social benefits, such as mutual protection and to regulate relations among members. For example, a typical social compact calls for the sacrificing of some individual freedom for state protection and other public services. Social Compact was a theory articulated in the 16th, 17th, and 18th centuries by philosophers such as John Locke, Thomas Hobbes, and Jean-Jacques Rousseau, as a means of explaining the origin of government and how an organized society is thus brought into being.

As we all know, every contract and every agreement can be broken. There may be consequences, usually monetary, but no contract is absolutely unbreakable. A contract or agreement can be broken by a breach of obligations (for example, a person doesn’t make his obligatory mortgage payments; the lending bank can then foreclose under a breach of contract) which is an affirmative breach, it can be broken because the purpose for the contract has been eliminated (for example, an entertainer is contracted to perform once monthly at a Las Vegas casino but the casino is destroyed in a fire), or it can be broken simply because a party wants out. Contract remedies are essentially designed to put the non-breaching party in a position had the breach not occurred  (for example, a contractor quits a job in the middle of building an extension on a house; the contractor must pay to have the job finished, by another contractor) and they usually involve monetary damages. Sometimes, however, money cannot make the non-breaching party “whole” (put them back into a position had the breach not occurred) and a court will order “specific performance,” which means that the breaching party will be compelled to perform some service by the court.

When the states were debating the Constitution in their Ratifying Conventions, three states (Virginia, New York, and Rhode Island) included “Resumption Clauses” as specific conditions upon their ratification – clauses asserting the right to secede from the Union at a future time.

Virginia’s Ratification document (June 26, 1788) included this Resumption Clause: “The People of Virginia declare and make known that the powers granted under the Constitution being derived from the People of the United States may be resumed by them whensoever the same shall be perverted to their injury or oppression and that every power not granted thereby remains with them and at their will.”

New York’s Ratification document (July 26, 1788) included this Resumption Clause: “That the Powers of Government may be resumed by the People, whensoever it shall become necessary to their Happiness; that every Power, Jurisdiction and right which is not by the said Constitution clearly delegated to the Congress of the United States, or the departments of the government thereof, remains to the People of the several States, or to their respective State Governments to whom they may have granted the same.”

Rhode Island’s Ratification document (May 29, 1790) included this Resumption Clause: “That the powers of government may be resumed by the people, whensoever it shall become necessary to their happiness: That the rights of the States respectively to nominate and appoint all State Officers, and every other power, jurisdiction and right, which is not by the said constitution clearly delegated to the Congress of the United States or to the departments of government thereof, remain to the people of the several states, or their respective State Governments to whom they may have granted the same.”

Essentially, these clauses reserved the right of the state to leave the Union and resume all their sovereign powers and rights. With these clauses, the states simply put into writing a right they thought naturally belonged to their respective states. In fact, the right of secession was understood and agreed to by the other states, including George Washington who presided over the Constitutional Convention and served as a delegate from Virginia.

These clauses, because they were included in the ratification, and because they were accepted when the states formed into the Union, became applicable to every state that joined the Union. The fact that the states expressly reserved the right to secede (for no specific reason other than it may be “necessary to their happiness…”) shatters the notion and the argument by Abraham Lincoln in 1860 that the Union was intended to be perpetual and no state could secede.

Reserving the right to secede is an express reservation of the part of each state to un-make its agreement to join the Union. It is an express right to terminate its association with the compact (the Constitution), and thereby no longer be a party to the Union. Put simply, it is an express right of termination.

In contract law, the express right of termination is referred to as a Right of Rescission. Since it is a right to un-do the contract (to get out of the contract), it is a contract remedy.

Thus, the states have reserved secession as a REMEDY. (As a remedy to leave the Union, or secede from the Union) at some point when they deem it necessary for their happiness.

Rescission is defined as the unmaking of a contract between parties or the unwinding of a transaction. As mentioned above, it applies where a party to a contract exercises a Right of Termination that he or she had expressly included, or reserved, in that contract. In contract law, it is sometimes said that the party has included (or exercised) a right to rescind the contract. It is exercised in order to bring the party, as far as possible, back to the position in which it was before entering into the particular contract (the status quo ante). If the contract is between two parties, then both parties go back to the position they enjoyed before entering into the contract. If the contract – or compact – is between many parties, then technically only the party exercising the right of rescission is relieved from the compact; the others are free to retain the force of contract/compact.

If there is any doubt as to the intent of Virginia, for example, to take its Resumption Clause seriously, look at the language it used in its Ordinance of Secession, which it adopted in Convention on April 17, 1861 to secede from the Union:

AN ORDINANCE to Repeal the ratification of the Constitution of the United States of America, by the State of Virginia, and to resume all the rights and powers granted under said Constitution:

The people of Virginia, in their ratification of the Constitution of the United States of America, adopted by them in Convention, on the 25th day of June, in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and eight-eight, having declared that the powers granted them under the said Constitution were derived from the people of the United States, and might be resumed whensoever the same should be perverted to their injury and oppression, and the Federal Government having perverted said powers, not only to the injury of the people of Virginia, but to the oppression of the Southern slaveholding States.

Now, therefore, we, the people of Virginia, do declare and ordain that the Ordinance adopted by the people of this State in Convention, on the twenty-fifth day of June, in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and seventy-eight, whereby the Constitution of the United States of America was ratified, and all acts of the General Assembly of this State, ratifying or adopting amendments to said Constitution, are hereby repealed and abrogated; that the union between the State of Virginia and the other States under the Constitution aforesaid, is hereby dissolved, and that the State of Virginia is in the full possession and exercise of all the rights of sovereignty which belong to a free and independent State. And they do further declare that the said Constitution of the United State of America is no longer binding on any of the citizens of this State.

This Ordinance shall take effect and be an act of this day when ratified by a majority of the votes of the people of this State, cast at a poll to be taken thereon on the fourth Thursday in May next, in pursuance of a schedule hereafter to be enacted.

Done in Convention, in the city of Richmond, on the seventeenth day of April, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-one, and in the eighty-fifth year of the Commonwealth of Virginia

(3)  Secession, or the termination of the agreement to remain in the Union, is a viable contract/compact remedy under breach theory.  When one signing member to the agreement violates or breaches its obligations, then the other signing member (or any of a number of other signing members) are relieved of their obligations under the agreement. In other words, the breach by one party, especially if material in nature (that is, if it is enough to fundamentally alter the relationship of the states in relation to one another or to affect the ability of the federal/common government to serve all states in a fair, equal, and impartial manner) is enough to invalidate the entire agreement altogether, thus allowing the other party, or other parties, to walk away and also allowing remaining members to continue to enforce the agreement if they so desire.

In the case of the Southern states, they seceded over several material breaches of the compact – several violations by the Northern states of their obligations under the Constitution:

(a)  They believed the Protective Tariff was an unfair and confiscatory tax on the South, almost completely discriminatory in nature and punitive as well. It was no secret that the North had a great disdain for the South and its values and its “simple” agricultural lifestyle (and even its use of slavery). According to the Southern states (John C. Calhoun of South Carolina articulated it probably better than most), the federal government was a common government that was created and intended to serve each state equally. The North knew full well that the protective tariffs (1828 and 1832) were born almost exclusively and to their detriment, by the southern states. But the Northern states, and particularly northern businesses, benefitted far too greatly from the confiscation of those tariff revenues (more than half of the revenue was funneled almost directly from the South to the North) to ever consider giving them up. In 1860, Abraham Lincoln ran on a platform of increasing and the protective tariff to its highest level ever. That platform issue, together with his promise to prohibit the spread of slavery into new territories and future states, were enough for all of the Southern states to refuse to even put his name on the ballot.  In fact, the Morrill Tariff was passed by the US Congress and signed into law by President James Buchanan in 1861, just two days before he left office and Lincoln was inaugurated. Lincoln kept his promise to enforce that tariff.

If the federal government was not serving the states equally, and if it had merely become a vehicle hijacked by one region of the country to serve its own interests (at the great expense of the other region), then the states of the North had breached their obligations and the very purpose of establishing the Union had become frustrated. The South believed the tariff issue constituted a material breach and thus gave them ample reason (under the Declaration of Independence – “whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness…”) to leave the Union.

(b)  Lincoln’s inauguration as a purely sectarian president was of great concern to the South. His interests and agenda were solely to further those of the North.  His promise to prohibit the spread of slavery to any new territory and any new state was a violation of the US Constitution.  Article IV guarantees every new state to the Union the right to be admitted on the same footing as every other state. Slavery, unfortunately, was protected under the Constitution, and therefore, every new state added to the Union would be subject to its same terms and conditions. The Southern states believed that Lincoln’s government was acting in abuse of the Constitution and because the North supported his agenda, those states, again, breached the terms of the compact and thus gave the states of the South reason to dissolve their bonds with the Union.

(c)  The Northern states routinely refused to enforce the Fugitive Slave Laws, which were laws enacted pursuant to the Fugitive Slave Clause of the US Constitution (Article IV, Section 2, clause 3). To the South, the Fugitive Slave Clause was a valued provision in the Constitution.  The laws were widely ignored or frustrated (were “nullified”) by states, localities, and even by individuals (such as those who organized into mobs in order to free runaway slaves from local prisons).  The states of the South took notice and in fact, in some of the ordinances of secession, they cited the refusal of the North to comply with the Fugitive Slave Laws, as well as its support of violence to stir slaves to revolt (such as the John Brown massacre; Brown was vaulted to martyr status by Northern members of Congress).

The Fugitive Slave Clause of the US Constitution (aka, the Slave Clause or the Fugitives From Labor Clause) required that a “person held to service or labour” (usually a slave, apprentice, or indentured servant) who flees to another state to be returned to the owner in the state from which that person escaped. The provision was rendered moot with the Thirteenth Amendment, which abolished slavery. The exact text of the Fugitive Slave Clause read: “No person held to service or labour in one state, under the laws thereof, escaping into another, shall, in consequence of any law or regulation therein, be discharged from such service or labour, but shall be delivered up on claim of the party to whom such service or labour may be due.”  The North refused to help enforce the Fugitive Slave Laws, claiming that it has no obligation as a state, to do so. The Laws were federal laws and if the federal government intended for them to be enforced, it was going to have to do so itself – with its own agents, its own courts, and its own prisons. The states and localities refused to assist – they would not use their officers, their prisons, any state personnel, or even any state court to uphold the laws and return runaway slaves back to their owners.

The states of the South believed the states of the North had a compact (constitutional) obligation to honor its provisions, including those it didn’t approve of.  Because the North refused to enforce the Fugitive Slave Laws and frustrated the Fugitive Slave Clause of Article IV, which was included for the benefit of the South, the Southern states concluded that the Northern states committed a material breach of the terms of the compact and hence, they were justified in leaving the Union.

One should read Gene Kizer Jr’s article “The Right of Secession” (link provided below). It provides an excellent overview of the legality of secession, in particular, as a right endowed and reserved to each state. Then one should read his most excellent book, Slavery Was Not the Cause of the War Between the States.

 

References:

Stephen C. Neff, “Secession and Breach of Compact: The Law of Nature Meets the United States Constitution,” Akron Law Review: Vol. 45: Issue 2, Article 4 (June 2015).  Referenced at:  https://ideaexchange.uakron.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?referer=https://www.google.com/&httpsredir=1&article=1067&context=akronlawreview

Virginia’s Ordinance of Virginia (April 17, 1861) – http://www.nellaware.com/blog/virginia-ordinance-of-secession.html\

Gene Kizer Jr, “The Right of Secession,” Bonnie Blue Publishing.  Referenced at:  http://www.bonniebluepublishing.com/The%20Right%20of%20Secession-FULL%20PAGE%20FORMAT-USE.htm

Gene Kizer Jr., Slavery Was Not the Cause of the War Between the States;  Charleston Athenaeum Press (November 1, 2014).

Gene Kizer Jr., “Barbarians At the Gate,” Abbeville Institute, March 8, 2018.  Referenced at:  https://www.abbevilleinstitute.org/blog/the-barbarians-at-the-gates/

Constitution Day 2018

RWPC - Constitution Day 2018

Today was Constitution Day.

On September 17, 1787, the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia concluded. 39 of the 55 delegates to the Convention signed the final product, including its primary author, James Madison, and its eldest member, Benjamin Franklin.

The Convention was called by Congress for the specific purpose of “amending the Articles of Confederation.” The specific defects were in the ability of the Congress to collect tax revenue from the states and in its weak authority to regulate commerce among them. But the organizers of the Convention, including James Madison, Edmund Randolph, and Alexander Hamilton had other plans. They intended to scrap the Articles altogether and draft a different form of government altogether, relying somewhat on the Articles of Confederation for guidance. In fact, Madison had already written a draft of that new government prior to the Convention and had asked Randolph, Governor of Virginia and member of one of Virginia’s most prominent families, to present it.

But what Madison had planned (which was a more national type of government; a powerful government of ambitious powers) is not what the majority of delegates could agree on. It would take 4 months of heated discussion and debate to convince Madison that a federal government, a government of limited powers and checks and balances, was the best form of a common government but the only form that the states would ever agree to.

Things didn’t go as smoothly as expected at the convention. Delegates became frustrated over the constant and fruitless bickering and the inability to made any significant progress in amending the federal government. Many left in disgust and many left to go back to their families, becoming frustrated in how long the convention was dragging on.

Benjamin Franklin, ever the optimist ,even at the age of 81, gave a poignant assessment of the Convention in his final speech before the Constitutional Convention:

“I doubt too whether any other Convention we can obtain, may be able to make a better Constitution: For when you assemble a Number of Men to have the Advantage of their joint Wisdom, you inevitably assemble with those Men all their Prejudices, their Passions, their Errors of Opinion, their local Interests, and their selfish Views. From such an Assembly can a perfect Production be expected? It therefore astonishes me, Sir, to find this System approaching so near to Perfection as it does; and I think it will astonish our Enemies, who are waiting with Confidence to hear that our Councils are confounded, like those of the Builders of Babel, and that our States are on the Point of Separation, only to meet hereafter for the Purpose of cutting one another’s throats. Thus I consent, Sir, to this Constitution because I expect no better, and because I am not sure that it is not the best.”

To honor Constitution Day, members of the Republican Women of Pitt County and the Eastern NC Tea Party joined with members of the Daughters of the American Revolution to ring bells at 4:00 pm (to mark the time of day the Constitution was signed) on the front steps of the Sheppard Memorial Library in downtown Greenville and then to pass out free pocket constitutions to those inside.

HAPPY CONSTITUTION DAY, EVERYONE !!

Thomas Jefferson Articulates the Remedy of NULLIFICATION in an Opinion Written to George Washington in 1791

THOMAS JEFFERSON - wire glasses

by Diane Rufino, September 16, 2018

In 1791, Thomas Jefferson wrote an opinion on the constitutionality of a National Bank. It is an important commentary on the meaning and intent of the US Constitution, in particular the two general clauses – the General Welfare Clause and the Necessary and Proper Clause.

President George Washington’s Secretary of the Treasury, Alexander Hamilton proposed the creation of a national bank. He advised that a national bank would “give great facility or convenience in the collection of taxes” and would facilitate the government’s assumption of the states’ Revolutionary War debts, thus serving the taxing power of the federal government. Not sure if such a bank was a constitutional exercise of government legislative power, Washington asked Hamilton and Jefferson, his Secretary of State, to articulate their positions.

And so, on Feb. 15, 1791, Jefferson submitted an opinion to Washington against the creation of a National Bank, explaining that it was not authorized by any specific delegation of power nor was it contemplated by any of the general clauses. In specific, he articulated that the “Necessary & Proper” Clause meant that Congress could take action only when it was necessary (and proper) to bring into effect any of the specifically enumerated powers; that is, without those means without which the grant of power would be meaningless. The clause did not mean Congress could pursue action that was merely convenient or helpful.”  Jefferson said that all the functions of which Hamilton was concerned – the collection of taxes, the paying of war debt, etc – could all be carried into execution without a bank. Therefore, as a constitutional matter, he concluded that a bank was not necessary, and consequently not authorized by the “Necessary & Proper” phrase.

Hamilton’s opinion was different. He argued that the Constitution, in Article I, Section 8, created a legislature not only of specific powers but of implied powers as well.

In the end, the House and then the Senate approved a bill establishing a charter for the first National Bank, and President Washington, siding with Hamilton, signed it. The first Bank of the United States was built in Philadelphia.

Chef Justice John Marshall, the man credited with transforming the role of the Supreme Court, later chose to ignore Jefferson’s opinion and commentary when the constitutionality of the national bank came before the Court in 1819 – in McCulloch v. Maryland.  His opinion in that case echoed Hamilton’s view that the federal government is indeed one of express AND implied powers, an issue that was DIRECTLY addressed and dismissed at the Constitutional Convention in 1787 and again when states expressed concern in their ratifying conventions.

While this Opinion by Thomas Jefferson shows us how our federal judiciary willingly chooses to ignore four country’s most important and most credible authority on the meaning and intent of the Constitution when it is faced with the chance to assign greater power to the federal government, there is another reason why this opinion is important: It explains the intended checks and balances on the federal legislature, both horizontal and vertical. The Supreme Court would later find the most important check to be unconstitutional. Imagine that.

At the end of his Opinion, Jefferson writes:

“The negative of the President is the shield provided by the Constitution to protect against the invasions of the legislature: 1. The right of the Executive. 2. Of the Judiciary. 3. Of the States and State legislatures. The present is the case of a right remaining exclusively with the States, and consequently one of those intended by the Constitution to be placed under its protection.”

In other words, the rightful checks on the lawmaking power of the US Congress include:

(1)  The President (he can veto or refuse to sign the bill into law; or he can, by Executive Order, explain that certain provisions are unenforceable because they exceed authority)

(2)  The courts  (the federal courts can strike down a law as “unconstitutional”)

(3)  The States and State legislatures (The States can separately find a federal law to be unconstitutional, per their understanding of the Constitution and per their reserved powers under the Tenth Amendment)

Number (3) above is NULLIFICATION and includes INTERPOSITION. These are the rightful remedies reserved to each State, according to Jefferson when the federal government exceeds its delegated authority under the Constitution and specifically, when it attempts to legislate in areas reserved to the States under the Tenth Amendment. A law passed without constitutional authority is a law is a nullity; it is unenforceable.  And it SHOULD be.  It is up to the States, as the most important of the Checks and Balances (a vertical check) to make sure that the people, protected by the Constitution as to the lawful bounds of government, are not subject to unconstitutional laws.

Here you have it, from the earliest days of our republic, the clear and simple articulation of the right of Nullification.

Jefferson, of course, would go on to articulate it much more clearly and forcibly, in the Kentucky Resolves of 1799 (a series of resolutions he wrote secretly for the Kentucky state legislature to oppose the highly unconstitutional Alien & Sedition Acts, enacted by the administration of John Adams. In the Kentucky Resolves of 1799, Jefferson wrote:

“If those who administer the general government be permitted to transgress the limits fixed by that compact, by a total disregard to the special delegations of power therein contained, annihilation of the state governments, and the erection upon their ruins, of a general consolidated government, will be the inevitable consequence: That the principle and construction contended for by sundry of the state legislatures, that the general government is the exclusive judge of the extent of the powers delegated to it, stop nothing short of despotism; since the discretion of those who administer the government, and not the constitution, would be the measure of their powers: That the several states who formed that instrument, being sovereign and independent, have the unquestionable right to judge of its infraction; and that a NULLIFICATION, by those sovereignties, of all unauthorized acts done under colour of that instrument, is the rightful remedy: That this commonwealth does upon the most deliberate reconsideration declare, that the said alien and sedition laws, are in their opinion, palpable violations of the said constitution; and however cheerfully it may be disposed to surrender its opinion to a majority of its sister states in matters of ordinary or doubtful policy; yet, in momentous regulations like the present, which so vitally wound the best rights of the citizen, it would consider a silent acquiescence as highly criminal: That although this commonwealth as a party to the federal compact; will bow to the laws of the Union, yet it does at the same time declare, that it will not now, nor ever hereafter, cease to oppose in a constitutional manner, every attempt from what quarter soever offered, to violate that compact.”

Nullification is, and has always been, a rightful remedy by which each State can review the constitutionality of government acts and policy (and even federal court opinions) and if an abuse is found, to protect the citizens in their States from the tyranny that would result from their enforcement.

 

References:

Thomas Jefferson, Opinion on the Constitutionality of a National Bank, Avalon Project (Yale Law School).  Referenced at:  http://avalon.law.yale.edu/18th_century/bank-tj.asp

Thomas Jefferson to George Washington, February 15, 1791, Opinion on Bill for Establishing a National Bank, from the Works of Thomas Jefferson in Twelve Volumes, from the Library of Congress.  Referenced at:  https://memory.loc.gov/service/mss/mtj/mtj1/013/013_0984_0990.pdf    [NOTE:  The Library of Congress was formed when Thomas Jefferson donated the contents of his personal library]

The Kentucky Resolves of 1799 (The Constitution Society).  Referenced at:  http://www.constitution.org/cons/kent1799.htm

Government Targeting Political Opponents (an American Story, thanks to Barack Obama)

 

MAXINE WATERS - protesters burn flag outside Waters' Office

by Diane Rufino, July 21, 2018

On Thursday, July 19, supporters of Democratic Congresswoman Maxine Waters showed up at her Los Angeles office and put on a very troubling and unpatriotic display. I suppose their conduct was either in line with their diminished intelligence, their natural tendency to thug-like, violent behavior, or the indoctrination of the Thug Queen herself, Maxine Waters. At one point in the video taken of that protest, one lady not only parroted the vile hatred that Waters has been spewing but she also sounded exactly like her. It was disturbingly unsettling.

Waters and her ilk are the lowest of the low, and should have no place in the kind of country that was established for close-knit communities predicated on the mutual respect for our country’s ideals, our collective desire to get along, and our intelligent duty to conduct ourselves as decent members of society and to support the Rule of Law.

Last week, the constitutionally conservative group known as Oath Keepers called on members to show up outside the controversial Congresswoman’s South Los Angeles office for a “protest against Maxine Waters’ incitement of terrorism, and a stand FOR ICE and the Border Patrol.”  Supporters of Waters (ie, the demonstrators) showed up with the intent of countering that protest, but police at the protest site told the Los Angeles Times that the group had notified authorities that it no longer planned to hold the demonstration, in order to keep the peace.

Rather than go back home, the Pro-Waters crowd, which numbered a few dozen and included union workers, church leaders, South Los Angeles residents and members of activist groups, many holding signs that read “Resist!,” proceeded to demonstrate and display the hatred that Rep. Waters so often uses her platform to encourage and incite. At one point, a pick-up truck drove by, and believing it to belong to a member of the Oath Keepers, the demonstrators gathered around it, opened the doors and terrorized the driver, and then snatched his American flag from the truck bed.  No doubt, they were offended by a real American, a conservative. They proceeded to stomp on the flag and then set it on fire. They chanted “Black Power” and shouted “America was never great” A few even yelled: “This is not the American flag, this is their flag.”

…….  Not exactly the kind-of crowd you look forward to enjoying a 4th of July picnic with.
MAXINE WATERS - protesters stopping pick up truck and stealing man's flag outside Waters' Office

Ever since the election of Donald Trump, an election he won fair and square, and against an avalanche of behind-the-scenes crooked dealings, alliances, pay-offs, abuses of power, government-DNC collusion, and a phony Russian scandal, Democrats and others on the left have become unhinged and have shown their opposition in ways that exceed those allowed by the First Amendment, that offend all rules of common decency, that frustrate the traditional university goals of robust intelligent debate, and that violate our civil and criminal laws.  We see the rhetoric of hate, we see threats of violence against conservatives and against Republican members of Congress and members of Trump’s administration, we see Republican state and federal leaders and members of Trump’s administration (and their families) being shouted and threatened out of restaurants, movie theaters, and ball games, we see violence against conservative speech by Antifa and hooded thugs on campuses, we’ve witnessed the intentional shooting of Republican Congressmen (last year’s Congressional softball game), we’ve learned of the arrest of at least one Antifa member who amassed a cache of bomb-making materials and guns and who had a Manifesto outlining his mission to kill conservatives, we hear the most vile of rants and name-calling from members of the Entertainment Industry against Trump and against conservatives, we hear talk-show hosts and actors call for the rape and sodomization of members of Trump’s family and administration, we watch in disbelief as Democratic leaders in Congress become increasingly unhinged and unpatriotic in their messages and in their conduct, and we see Black Lives Matter protestors, including the likes of Al Sharpton and other race-baitors and poverty pimps, calling for the slaughter of members of law enforcement.

We see a common thread….   All of these groups, all of these so-called people belonging to the Democratic Party.

What should happen ideally is that all of these types of people, including hoards of illegal immigrants and Middle-Eastern refugees, be moved into the communities and neighborhoods of Democratic legislators, Democratic politicians, Democratic Party leaders, activist judges, Hollywood actors and actresses, liberal talk-show hosts, and editors, producers, columnists, reporters, and commentators of the mainstream media. If these people want to empower such anti-social, violent, psychotic, unpatriotic, dis-believing, dependent, entitled, abhorrent, crazed, unstable, mentally-imbalanced, irresponsible, law-breaking, terrorist individuals, then at least they should know what it’s like to have them living among them.

Anyway, I digress from my main point which is that Obama targeted political opponents, using the full force of the federal government –  a government absolutely prohibited, under the Bill of Rights, from enacting any law or policy that infringes on one’s freedom of speech, freedom to the press (including every blogger and writer who “publishes” in any way information and commentary), right to own and bear firearms (“Shall Not Be Infringed!”), freedom of conscience, right of assembly, and freedom to be safe from unreasonable government searches and seizures (to be safe and secure in one’s home and in one’s private affairs; “to be king of one’s castle”).

Right after Barack Obama took office as president, in early April 2009, he had Attorney General Janet Napolitano and the Department of Homeland Security re-draft guidelines as to who the “real threat” to America is.  This was done without anyone paying any particular attention to it and was done while the country was still shielding their eyes, as if they were looking at the face of the new “messiah.”  According to President Obama, his advisors, and his administration in general, it was no longer radical Islam that posed the greatest threat to our country, but rather, the very people he made fun of in one of his appearances in Pennsylvania — those who “cling to their religion and their guns.”  The DHS document outlining this threat was titled “RIGHTWING EXTREMISM: Current Economic and Political Climate Fueling Resurgence in Radicalization and Recruitment,” and it was issued by the Office of Intelligence and Analysis (within DHS).  You can read the entire document yourself at:  https//fas.org/irp/eprint/rightwing.pdf.  In it, the Department of Homeland Security explains that people like Tea Party groups, white conservatives. Veterans, Christians, Second-amendment supporters, and the like pose a serious threat to the country (and, as mentioned, to Obama’s administration — as he is a black man). These “rightwing extremists,” the report says, are those who will produce white supremacists, will oppose Obama’s policies, will present opposition to his policies on immigration, and in general, will try to organize against him. Because they support the second amendment, the Obama administration labeled them as dangerous, likely to organize and use violence, and put them on the DHS watch list.

Can you even wrap your mind around the sanity of the federal government in deeming God-fearing, law-abiding, Constitution-loving, patriotic conservative Americans to be dangerous to the country, moreso than the likes of those who slaughtered 3000 innocent Americans on 9/11, who have kidnapped and beheaded several of our journalists and contractors, and who have planned and carried out the many attacks on our military personnel and citizens both here and abroad ???   I certainly can’t. A government that can even think of doing so is simply evil and unconstitutionally ambitious.

In embracing Obama’s policy and attempting to sell it to state and local law enforcement and to the country in general, Secretary Janet Napolitano issued the following press release on April 15, 2009, which was posted on the Department of Homeland Security website: “The primary mission of this department is to prevent terrorist attacks on our nation. The document on Right-Wing Extremism sent last week by this department’s Office of Intelligence and Analysis is one in an ongoing series of assessments to provide situational awareness to state, local and tribal law enforcement agencies on the phenomenon and trends of violent radicalization in the United States. I was briefed on the general topic, which is one that struck a nerve as someone personally involved in the Timothy McVeigh prosecution.”  Turning the government against its law-abiding citizens is the very definition of tyranny.

We associate governments targeting, harassing, drumming up false charges, imprisoning, and killing political opponents with the likes of Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party, with Josef Stalin and the Communist Party, with Pol Pot (Cambodia) and the Communist Khmer Rouge Party, with Pinochet in Chile, with Mao Zedong in China, with Mehmet Talat Pasa in Armenia, with Idi Ami in Uganda, and with the leadership in countries like Rwanda, Bosnia, and Darfur.  We all know that the government rounded up Japanese-Americans and put them in internment camps after the attack on Pearl Harbor. With intimate knowledge of and sensitive information about Pearl Harbor having been obtained by Japanese spy, Takeo Yoshikawa, and transmitted ultimately to Admiral Yamamoto in Japan to finalize plans of the attack, the government could not trust Japanese-Americans to be loyal to the United States over Japan. The camps were dismantled after Japan’s defeat.  We also all know of the McCarthy era and the political movement to weed out Communists and Communist spies from positions of power and access to sensitive information, but that was arguably for reasons of true national security. The relationship between the United States and Russia has become adversarial and competitive for control and influence in the world….  It was an era of intense geopolitics. Every move by Russia (the Soviet Union) became a matter of freedom and tyranny… a matter of individuals being able to live freely or to be controlled by a regime of fear and violence. The two countries emerged as the worlds’ two greatest superpowers, with the ability of annihilating millions of people with their nuclear capability (Russia obtaining the technology thru its espionage activities in the US) and each viewed the other as the enemy and an absolute threat to national security.

No one would ever associate modern day United States with political persecution, yet that’s exactly what happened under the Obama administration. Barack Obama deemed anyone whose views were contrary to his and his administration or whose views and background, and potential, posed a risk to his political agenda as “security threats” to the United States, posing a likely threat of acts of domestic terrorism. Is this not mind-blowing or what??  Paranoid kings of England acted in this manner, paranoid emperors of Rome acted in this manner, Stalin and Hitler acted in this manner, and the list goes on…..  those who think differently pose a threat to those in power. Yes, conservatives think the right to have and bear arms is a right meant to be essentially free from government control (except for mental illness and a violent history). Conservatives believe government control of firearms and ammunition, and talk of confiscation are the hallmarks of a tyrant (like King James II and King George III of England),.  Yes, conservatives believe that a sovereign nation without border control, ie, control over immigration, is not sovereign but merely a temporary state ultimately doomed to mob control. Yes, conservatives believe in the vitality and importance of our very first amendment – the rights to religious liberty, speech, press, assembly, and petition. They believe that a person is endowed with the right to think freely and to think as dictated by his or her religious values, his degree of intelligence and understanding, and as his heart and gut instruct (the “right of conscience”) and that government has no place to coerce thought, speech, and conduct that violates that right of conscience.  Yes, conservatives believe that a woman may have freedom over her body and her fertility (her ability to bring forth new life), but they certainly don’t believe the right is absolute and  includes the right to kill a fully-developed, living child that for the unfortunate reason that nature dictates (not yet been born), it hasn’t yet been able to take its first breath outside the mother’s womb.  Yes, conservatives believe in a limited government. They believe in the government created by the Constitution, which by its terms and provisions is certainly one meant to be limited. They believe a free country means that its citizens are able to freely exercise their God-given rights without over-regulation and intrusion by the government.  They believe in the rights of the individual and not the collective, a distinction made very clear when our country and our government system were established. They believe that a government that forcibly takes from some in order to benefit others, and then relies on those “dependents” as a crucial voting block, is an unconstitutional government – one well on its way to being a socialist government. Yes, conservatives believe in personal responsibility, lower taxes, free markets, and unburdened property rights.  And yes, conservatives believe that federal court judges and Supreme Court justices are limited in their roles on the bench; they are limited by the words, meaning, intent, and historical context of the Constitution and by the plain meaning and legislative intent of federal laws. In other words, they must be strict constructionists, textualists, and originalists, for the Constitution is a statement of the people’s intention for their government, permanently documented and ratified by state conventions specifically organized for that purpose. The only way to change the terms of government and to “evolve” with times is to take advantage of the amendment process outlined in Article V.  Conservatives  are strongly opposed to the notion of a “living, breathing, document” which gives judges and justices full reign to mold and transform the Constitution as they see fit and which allows them to by-pass the democratic process where the people dictate how fast society “progresses.”

Democrats, and especially Obama, believe in the complete opposite. The difference between Obama and other Democratic presidents is that he deceptively, secretly, covertly put programs and policies in place to subdue the opposition (conservatives) and as we are learning now, to deprive them the office of the presidency, in order to move full speed on his progressive, liberal (un-American) policies.  Besides his blatant abuse of the IRS to target conservatives, his interference in investigation and potential prosecution of Hillary Clinton for her intentional abuse of national security procedures by using a personal unsecured email server for official emails, and his creation of a “fake” dossier and his illegal abuse of the FISA warrant policy to spy on the Trump campaign, Judicial Watch has just uncovered documents that show that President Obama attempted to institute gun control stealthily by going after ammunition instead of guns. (It has just filed suit in the district court in DC to compel the ATF to produce its records on the matter).  The first shots of the American Revolution, as most of are unaware, were fired not because of taxation but because King George instructed his man in Massachusetts, General Gage, to locate and destroy all the colonists’ ammunition. And as most are unaware, it was this despotic act that prompted one of my favorite founding fathers, Patrick Henry, to exclaim to the Virginia Convention that famous night on March 23, 1775 at St. John’s Church in Richmond:

They tell us, sir, that we are weak; unable to cope with so formidable an adversary. But when shall we be stronger? Will it be the next week, or the next year?  Will it be when we are totally disarmed, and when a British guard shall be stationed in every house?  Shall we gather strength by irresolution and inaction? Shall we acquire the means of effectual resistance by lying supinely on our backs and hugging the delusive phantom of hope, until our enemies shall have bound us hand and foot?  Sir, we are not weak if we make a proper use of those means which the God of nature hath placed in our power. The millions of people, armed in the holy cause of liberty, and in such a country as that which we possess, are invincible by any force which our enemy can send against us. Besides, sir, we shall not fight our battles alone. There is a just God who presides over the destinies of nations, and who will raise up friends to fight our battles for us.  There is no retreat but in submission and slavery!  Our chains are forged!  Their clanking may be heard on the plains of Boston!  The war is inevitable–and let it come! I repeat it, sir, let it come.

Gentlemen may cry, Peace, Peace.. But there is no peace. The war is actually begun!  The next gale that sweeps from the north will bring to our ears the clash of resounding arms!  Our brethren are already in the field! Why stand we here idle?  Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery?  Forbid it, Almighty God!  I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!

With that speech, he defended the resolutions he had submitted for Virginia to build and train its militia (one in every county), to be ready to fight the British.

It is one thing to think differently, politically, for that is how citizens advance their issues and concerns in government, but it is another thing to use the government against the people because they think differently. And it is also one thing to think compromise is necessary and always a good thing, when sometimes it’s the very way we erode important foundations.  As Richard Dawkins once said:  “When two opposite points of view are expressed with equal intensity, the truth does not necessarily lie exactly halfway between them. It is possible for one side to be simply wrong.”  If the colonists had accepted Britain’s treatment of them, if they had engaged in endless compromise with its leaders, then America would never have pushed for, and fought for, its independence. Compromise breeds complacency.

If we look back on how President Obama insidiously targeted conservatives, we should take note of how he identified certain traditional “American” values and views and tried to explain them away as being dangerous to the country.  Hitler and Goebbels would have been proud.

The assessment, “RIGHTWING EXTREMISM: Current Economic and Political Climate Fueling Resurgence in Radicalization and Recruitment,” is prefaced by the following “Key Findings” by the Office of Intelligence and Analysis (DHS):

Key Findings:

(U//LES)  The DHS/Office of Intelligence and Analysis (I&A) has no specific information that domestic rightwing* terrorists are currently planning acts of violence, but rightwing extremists may be gaining new recruits by playing on their fears about several emergent issues.  The economic downturn and the election of the first African American president present unique drivers for rightwing radicalization and recruitment.

— (U//LES)  Threats from white supremacist and violent antigovernment groups during 2009 have been largely rhetorical and have not indicated plans to carry out violent acts.  Nevertheless, the consequences of a prolonged economic downturn—including real estate foreclosures, unemployment, and an inability to obtain credit—could create a fertile recruiting environment for rightwing extremists and even result in confrontations between such groups and government authorities similar to those in the past.

— (U//LES)  Rightwing extremists have capitalized on the election of the first African American president, and are focusing their efforts to recruit new members, mobilize existing supporters, and broaden their scope and appeal through propaganda, but they have not yet turned to attack planning.

(U//FOUO)  The current economic and political climate has some similarities to the 1990s when rightwing extremism experienced a resurgence fueled largely by an economic recession, criticism about the outsourcing of jobs, and the perceived threat to U.S. power and sovereignty by other foreign powers.

— (U//FOUO)  During the 1990s, these issues contributed to the growth in the number of domestic rightwing terrorist and extremist groups and an increase in violent acts targeting government facilities, law enforcement officers, banks, and infrastructure sectors.

— (U//FOUO)  Growth of these groups subsided in reaction to increased government scrutiny as a result of the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing and disrupted plots, improvements in the economy, and the continued U.S. standing as the preeminent world power.

(U//FOUO)  The possible passage of new restrictions on firearms and the return of military veterans facing significant challenges reintegrating into their communities could lead to the potential emergence of terrorist groups or lone wolf extremists capable of carrying out violent attacks.

It then explains:

(U)  Current Economic and Political Climate

(U//FOUO)  DHS/I&A assesses that a number of economic and political factors are driving a resurgence in rightwing extremist recruitment and radicalization activity.  Despite similarities to the climate of the 1990s, the threat posed by lone wolves and small terrorist cells is more pronounced than in past years.  In addition, the historical election of an African American president and the prospect of policy changes are proving to be a driving force for rightwing extremist recruitment and radicalization.

— (U)  A recent example of the potential violence associated with a rise in rightwing extremism may be found in the shooting deaths of three police officers in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, on 4 April 2009.  The alleged gunman’s reaction reportedly was influenced by his racist ideology and belief in antigovernment conspiracy theories related to gun confiscations, citizen detention camps, and a Jewish-controlled “one world government.”

(U)  Exploiting Economic Downturn

(U//FOUO)  Rightwing extremist chatter on the Internet continues to focus on the economy, the perceived loss of U.S. jobs in the manufacturing and construction sectors, and home foreclosures.  Anti-Semitic extremists attribute these losses to a deliberate conspiracy conducted by a cabal of Jewish “financial elites.”  These “accusatory” tactics are employed to draw new recruits into rightwing extremist groups and further radicalize those already subscribing to extremist beliefs.  DHS/I&A assesses this trend is likely to accelerate if the economy is perceived to worsen.

(U)  Historical Presidential Election

(U//LES)  Rightwing extremists are harnessing this historical election as a recruitment tool.  Many rightwing extremists are antagonistic toward the new presidential administration and its perceived stance on a range of issues, including immigration and citizenship, the expansion of social programs to minorities, and restrictions on firearms ownership and use.  Rightwing extremists are increasingly galvanized by these concerns and leverage them as drivers for recruitment.  From the 2008 election timeframe to the present, rightwing extremists have capitalized on related racial and political prejudices in expanded propaganda campaigns, thereby reaching out to a wider audience of potential sympathizers.

 — (U//LES)  Most statements by rightwing extremists have been rhetorical, expressing concerns about the election of the first African American president, but stopping short of calls for violent action.  In two instances in the run-up to the election, extremists appeared to be in the early planning stages of some threatening activity targeting the Democratic nominee, but law enforcement interceded.

(U)  Revisiting the 1990s

 (U//FOUO)  Paralleling the current national climate, rightwing extremists during the 1990s exploited a variety of social issues and political themes to increase group visibility and recruit new members.  Prominent among these themes were the militia movement’s opposition to gun control efforts, criticism of free trade agreements (particularly those with Mexico), and highlighting perceived government infringement on civil liberties as well as white supremacists’ longstanding exploitation of social issues such as abortion, inter-racial crimes, and same-sex marriage.  During the 1990s, these issues contributed to the growth in the number of domestic rightwing terrorist and extremist groups and an increase in violent acts targeting government facilities, law enforcement officers, banks, and infrastructure sector.

(U)  Illegal Immigration

(U//FOUO)  Rightwing extremists were concerned during the 1990s with the perception that illegal immigrants were taking away American jobs through their willingness to work at significantly lower wages.  They also opposed free trade agreements, arguing that these arrangements resulted in Americans losing jobs to countries such as Mexico.

(U//FOUO)  Over the past five years, various rightwing extremists, including militias and white supremacists, have adopted the immigration issue as a call to action, rallying point, and recruiting tool.  Debates over appropriate immigration levels and enforcement policy generally fall within the realm of protected political speech under the First Amendment, but in some cases, anti-immigration or strident pro-enforcement fervor has been directed against specific groups and has the potential to turn violent.

(U//FOUO)  DHS/I&A assesses that rightwing extremist groups’ frustration over a perceived lack of government action on illegal immigration has the potential to incite individuals or small groups toward violence.  If such violence were to occur, it likely would be isolated, small-scale, and directed at specific immigration-related targets.

— (U//FOUO)  DHS/I&A notes that prominent civil rights organizations have observed an increase in anti-Hispanic crimes over the past five years.

(U)  Legislative and Judicial Drivers

(U//FOUO)  Many rightwing extremist groups perceive recent gun control legislation as a threat to their right to bear arms and in response have increased weapons and ammunition stockpiling, as well as renewed participation in paramilitary training exercises.  Such activity, combined with a heightened level of extremist paranoia, has the potential to facilitate criminal activity and violence.

— (U//FOUO)  During the 1990s, rightwing extremist hostility toward government was fueled by the implementation of restrictive gun laws—such as the Brady Law that established a 5-day waiting period prior to purchasing a handgun and the 1994 Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act that limited the sale of various types of assault rifles—and federal law enforcement’s handling of the confrontations at Waco, Texas and Ruby Ridge, Idaho.

The assessment also informs: “The information is provided to federal, state, local, and tribal counterterrorism and law enforcement officials so they may effectively deter, prevent, preempt, or respond to terrorist attacks against the United States.  Federal efforts to influence domestic public opinion must be conducted in an overt and transparent manner, clearly identifying United States Government sponsorship.”

Through the DHS and its directive (“Rightwing Extremism…..”), the Obama administration was almost “deputizing state and local law enforcement” to do the government’s bidding.  We truly weren’t a “free country” during those years.

Clearly, the “assessment” by the Office of Intelligence and Analysis (DHS) was meant to identify the threat to OBAMA and to his administration and his agenda, rather than to the United States and to its security and its citizens.  The identification of Rightwing groups and individuals as potential “domestic terrorists” is predicated wholly and improperly on a difference of political opinion and political viewpoint. It is as clear a violation of the First Amendment’s guarantee of Free Speech and Freedom of Conscience as it gets.

Anyone who can connect dots can see that Obama used the full forces of the federal government to target, harass, discriminate against, and to neutralize Tea Party groups and other conservatives. It is why he used the IRS to block Tea Party groups from organizing (they were denied, exclusively, the ability to organize as a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt groups for political purposes), to go out and harass and excessively audit them, and why he had Dinesh D’Souza thrown in jail.  With this in mind, it’s not hard to see why he did everything possible to divide the country into groups violently opposed to conservatives and then to use government agencies to work silently to make sure Hillary Clinton won the 2016 election and to make sure Trump did not. It’s why they are still fighting Trump (and the conservatives in general). It’s become violent.

So far, President Trump reversed that policy and put the focus back on radical Islamists. He has not turned the tables on Democrats and their venomous, vile, and violent ilk and put them under the microscope by Homeland Security. But maybe he should.  Democrats have become a dangerous and obstructive force in our country – spewing and inciting hatred, division, and violence. They care little for political discourse so it isn’t about free speech; rather, it’s about getting Donald Trump out of office in any conceivable way possible, even if it has to be by creating a false and fictitious charge or by bombarding the American audience with a false narrative. It’s strictly a power ploy, designed to make useful idiots out of useless ones (Democrat voters) for the purpose of denying political power to the legitimate party, the Republican Party (duly elected by the people, thru the Electoral System; a government “by the people”) and transferring it, by a political coup, to the Democratic Party elite.

Trump is far too honorable and responsible of a president to ever consider turning the government against its citizens because unlike Obama, who supposedly taught Constitutional Law and an “expert on the Constitution,” Trump has an uncanny understanding of it and a deep respect for it.  He also understands and respects that the government belongs to the people, through their collective judgement and their action at the ballot box, and not to the puppet masters of a Political Party.

Here is another example of an approach where compromise cannot be sought. One approach is clearly wrong.

We must never again allow an administration to forcibly, or even tacitly, silence the voice of political opposition.  We must ever remain vigilant.

“Once a government is committed to the principle of silencing the voice of opposition, it has only one way to go, and that is down the path of increasingly repressive measures, until it becomes a source of terror to all its citizens and creates a country where everyone lives in fear.” President Harry Truman spoke these words on August 8, 1950 in a special message to Congress on the Internal Security of the US.

Liberty, and the US Constitution, must always be those gems worth fighting for.  Both belong to the people; both are the birthright of every American.

 

References:

“Rightwing Extremism: Current Economic and Political Climate Fueling Resurgence in Radicalization and Recruitment,” (An Assessment), Office of Intelligence and Analysis, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), April 7, 2009 –  https://fas.org/irp/eprint/rightwing.pdf

Paulina Dedaj, “Maxine Waters Supporters Burn American Flag Outside California Rep’s Office,” FOX News, July 20, 2018.  Referenced at:  http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2018/07/19/counterprotesters-burn-american-flag-outside-office-maxine-waters.html

Carlos Granda, “Oath Keepers Calls Off Protest Outside Maxine Waters’ Los Angeles Office,” ABC7 News, July 20, 2018.  Referenced at:  http://abc7.com/politics/oath-keepers-calls-off-protest-at-maxine-waters-office/3789197/

“Statement by U.S. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano on the Threat of Right-Wing Extremism,” Department of Homeland Security, April 15, 2009.  Referenced at:  https://www.dhs.gov/news/2009/04/15/secretary-napolitanos-statement-right-wing-extremism-threat