Discussions of Mormons and Mormon life, Book of Mormon issues and evidences, and other Latter-day Saint (LDS) topics.

Sunday, June 06, 2010

Preserving Freedom: Hard to Do in Ignorance

For decades, Americans have skated though what we call education without basic information about the founding of this nation and the principles of liberty that our Founding Fathers taught. We are vastly more familiar with the shallow thoughts and embarrassing deeds of Hollywood celebrities and athletes than we are with those inspired geniuses who gave us unprecedented liberty. It is painfully sad to watch this nation reach a point where we think that it progress when we surrender personal liberty to allow a massive and nearly bankrupt government pretend to take care of us. What happened to the fundamental ideals and principles that made America great? Where is the shock at the thought of a government eroding its currency by creating money out of thin air? Where is the concern when vast new powers to control and destroy are appropriated without explicit Constitutional authority? Where is the horror at the thought of forcing someone else to work for us, or at the thought of forcing others to turn over their goods for our comfort? When we believe that a vote of a majority justifies taking anything from or doing anything to a minority or that a majority vote allows the winner to do whatever the majority supposedly wants, we have utterly abandoned the principles of the Republic that was given to us at such great cost.

If you doubt the widespread ignorance behind the apathy I refer to, walk into a crowd of college graduates and ask them to explain the difference between a republic and a democracy. Ask them what the source of rights and government authority is in the eyes of our Founding Fathers. Ask them why the rights protected in the 2nd Amendment mattered to them. Ask them what grave dangers were in their mind when they gave us the cumbersome checks and balances in the Constitution. Ask them what the 10th Amendment means. Ask them when the last time was, if ever, that they had a class where the details of the Constitution were read and studied. Ask them if they have read it.

We live in such ignorance that modern journalists and "thought leaders" like the highly celebrated Thomas Friedman can openly wish we could be a dictatorship for a day, giving government unlimited power to just do what needs to be done, without being seriously challenged by their peers. We live in a day when government officials can openly declare that they support the principles of communism or Marxism without being challenged by the mainstream media and without being thrown out of office. We live in a day when citizens would rather have bread and circuses than freedom, when politicians of both parties can work to enrich themselves and spend us into oblivion in crass violation of the Constitution without much of a peep of protest. We live in a day when we have forgotten that the spirit of freedom led early Americans to reject the tyranny of Big Government and elitists rulers, and demand that government be small, accountable, and strictly limited.

We live in a day much like those in the Book of Mormon before the First Coming of Jesus Christ, when Kingmen tolerate or collaborate with external enemies to pull down liberty and amass power for themselves. When was the last time you had a healthy discussion about the lessons of the Kingmen threat in Book of Mormomn times, or the role or pervasive "combinations" in eroding liberty? We tend to treat the Book of Mormon far too superficially.

These are dangerous time - they have been for many years. We need to remember the captivity of our fathers - one of the biggest themes of the Book of Mormon. We need to return to the principles of liberty and throw of our ignorance of our history. We must review and internalize the lessons of history from the founding of this Republic and the lessons of liberty in the Book of Mormon, especially those in the books of Mosiah, Alma, Helaman, and 3rd Nephi, in the amazing era before the First Coming of Jesus Christ.

These are not matters to take lightly. When liberty is eroded, and we've been losing it gradually for some time now, you reach a point where you don't just go back and fix things with an election. We need to throw off our ignorance now and preserve liberty while we still have as much as we do. When you become Cuba for a day, it will be a very long day indeed.

126 comments:

Anthony E. Larson said...

All well said. If you haven't done so already, you may wish to read my monograph (www.mormonprophecy.blogspot.com) entitled "Living the Nephite Nightmare." We have been blithely sauntering down the same tragic path the Nephites trod. The earmarks are easily identified, if one cares to study their history carefully. I wrote a book about this same issue over 20 years ago, and the saints ignored it as much as they do the Book of Mormon itself. Our condemnation will be greater than the Nephites, however, because we had their history to warn us. Sadly, we've ignored it. Yes, we've treated that sacred book far to superficially, as Pres. Benson repeatedly warned us, and now we'll pay the price.

iamse7en said...

Great stuff. This is exactly how I feel. Jeff, you should read lewrockwell.com. What are you doing to hedge against the coming inflation?

D.H. said...

very well said. Unfortunately, I am a recent college graduate and I must admit I don't think I've read the Constitution (maybe once in high school) but I'd like to think I know a little more about these things than the average grad.

id said...

We live in a crazy political landscape. Just reading the articles about the forthcoming November elections is telling enough.

The media seems to do nothing but fuel the fire. It doesn't help with the ignorance issue, either.


I'm not for the Book of Mormon as a historical document, but your post reminds me of a quote I read somewhere:
"the only thing we learn from history is that we never learn from history."

Dan said...

Nice polemic.

I've read and studied the Constitution, know it quite well, know the history quite well and am still GASP! a dreaded librul hippie commie terrorist-lover... or something.

"It is painfully sad to watch this nation reach a point where we think that it progress when we surrender personal liberty to allow a massive and nearly bankrupt government pretend to take care of us."

Um, what personal liberty have you lost dude?

" What happened to the fundamental ideals and principles that made America great?"

Dunno. What ARE the fundamental ideals and principles that YOU think made America great that are suddenly gone and don't make America great anymore?

"Where is the shock at the thought of a government eroding its currency by creating money out of thin air?"

Hmm, nothing wrong with printing more money if it is done judiciously. Seeing that the dollar is rising again, not sure what the hubbub is all about.

"Where is the concern when vast new powers to control and destroy are appropriated without explicit Constitutional authority? "

Which vast new powers to control and destroy have been appropriated without explicit Constitutional authority? And why don't you challenge them in court? That's what courts are for, right? Feel free.

"Where is the horror at the thought of forcing someone else to work for us, or at the thought of forcing others to turn over their goods for our comfort?"

What does that even mean?

"When we believe that a vote of a majority justifies taking anything from or doing anything to a minority or that a majority vote allows the winner to do whatever the majority supposedly wants, we have utterly abandoned the principles of the Republic that was given to us at such great cost. "

Because the filibuster is such a Constitutional tool...oh wait.

"If you doubt the widespread ignorance behind the apathy I refer to, walk into a crowd of college graduates and ask them to explain the difference between a republic and a democracy. "

Have you done this?

"We live in such ignorance that modern journalists and "thought leaders" like the highly celebrated Thomas Friedman can openly wish we could be a dictatorship for a day, giving government unlimited power to just do what needs to be done, without being seriously challenged by their peers. "

No argument there. I have no idea why anyone would ever listen to what Thomas "Suck on this" Friedman has to say.

"We live in a day when government officials can openly declare that they support the principles of communism or Marxism without being challenged by the mainstream media and without being thrown out of office."

Huh, I didn't know this was a Constitutionally set offense to be thrown out of office. Here you are railing against those who apparently don't know the Constitution and you say this? Do YOU know the Constitution?

"We live in a day when citizens would rather have bread and circuses than freedom"

What freedoms are lost?

"when politicians of both parties can work to enrich themselves and spend us into oblivion in crass violation of the Constitution without much of a peep of protest"

Take them to court dude! Oh wait, courts are corrupted too, right? So what's next? A violent revolution?

Dan said...

"We live in a day when we have forgotten that the spirit of freedom led early Americans to reject the tyranny of Big Government and elitists rulers, and demand that government be small, accountable, and strictly limited. "

Really? They rejected Big Government? I thought the rejection was taxation without representation. I don't recall them worried about size or anything. They just wanted to be represented. You're projecting upon our founding fathers something which they didn't believe themselves.

"We live in a day much like those in the Book of Mormon before the First Coming of Jesus Christ, when Kingmen tolerate or collaborate with external enemies to pull down liberty and amass power for themselves."

Ah, like Thomas Jefferson collaborating with the French to undermine John Adams... right, that never happened. Who are today's Kingmen? Name names dude. Don't talk in the abstract.

"When was the last time you had a healthy discussion about the lessons of the Kingmen threat in Book of Mormomn times, or the role or pervasive "combinations" in eroding liberty? "

When could you EVER have a health discussion about this topic? It always takes the form of a polemic, just like your piece here. This is not a health discussion on the topic dude.

"These are dangerous time - they have been for many years."

Yeah, a black man with a Muslim name is in charge of America!

"We must review and internalize the lessons of history from the founding of this Republic and the lessons of liberty in the Book of Mormon, especially those in the books of Mosiah, Alma, Helaman, and 3rd Nephi, in the amazing era before the First Coming of Jesus Christ."

What lessons must we learn?

"When liberty is eroded, and we've been losing it gradually for some time now, you reach a point where you don't just go back and fix things with an election."

Once again, what liberty have we lost? You never get specific. You're purposely vague to incite fear. Stop inciting fear.

I'm fascinated that you don't discuss the dangers of corporate powers, but then again, your concern has never been about the real threat to "freedom" but just the undermining of Democrats and liberals. It's okay if corporations limit freedom and liberty. They're on your side.

Mormanity said...

Dan, you may be new to my blog. I've spent far more time in the past couple of years bemoaning the abuses of power by banksters and the Bush administration than I have about Obama, who is simply continuing much of what Bush and his predecessors have been doing, but at a much faster pace, more obviously. It has not been about Democrats alone, or about one administration alone, and nothing in this post should imply that.

Nice of you to play the race card so quickly. Thanks for the considerate reply.

NathanS said...

Jeff, nice post, as usual.

Dan, you replied:

"Really? They rejected Big Government? I thought the rejection was taxation without representation. I don't recall them worried about size or anything. They just wanted to be represented. You're projecting upon our founding fathers something which they didn't believe themselves."

My guess is that niether you nor I recall them worrying about shoes or boots but I am sure they wore them and I bet you are, too. "Taxation without representation" was an excuse, a catchy phrase. What they really wanted was to maintain the freedom they had in America.

What freedom? The origen of the New England colonies was the desire for religious freedom. England had a state church. As England started exerting pressures and controls on American soil, some colonists recalled their reasons for colony existence in the first place and did not want to lose their hard-earned liberties.

Today, there are religious persecutions by school staff (government-paid officiaries) against students who dare to bring the bible to school.

If you don't believe, you ought to do your homework. Personal freedoms are a result of the religious beliefs of this nation's founders.

Mormanity said...

Dan, rather than talking to college graduates, might I suggest you talk to someone trying to run a business that they've started to learn about the layers of federal and state regulations that threaten them at every turn. Try, for example, to start a business lending money to people or building homes or providing a healthcare service. Until you actually face the weight of bureaucracy, it's hard to appreciate how it crushes opportunity and limits freedom for people to do what would seem to be fair, logical, and honest uses of their own resources. That's just for starters.

Bush's Patriot Act substantially limited freedoms of US citizens. See http://www.nyclu.org/pdfs/eroding_liberty.pdf for some exciting details.

But Dan, let me ask this. Can you imagine that a bigger government, with more agencies, more regulations, more officials, and more taxes, must on the average tend to limit what individuals can do relative to a government that is smaller? For example, can you imagine, hypothetically speaking, that a government with dozens of agencies, hundreds of officials and thousands of regulations regulating speech (print, radio, web, etc.) is more likely to limit freedom of speech than one with much less of that? If not, we may need to cover more basics in answering your question.

NathanS said...

Oh, Dan, and about size of government. Read between the lines. The constitution has just enough white space to see limitations on gonvernment functions in each ammendment of the Bill of Rights and in the seperation of powers with the states controlling the Senate (although that check on government size has since been destroyed).

"Size" has at least two types of meanings: breadth of reach, as in the size of a blanket; and total volume, as in fluid ounces. Sometimes the two are somehow related. For example, the breadth of reach you want for a paint job on your house will determine the volume of paint you buy. By attempting to limit the scope of operations (reach) of our federal government - one sort of "size" - their success would likely limit government staffing.

The founders clearly wanted a government of small proportions.

"Once again, what liberty have we lost? You never get specific. You're purposely vague to incite fear. Stop inciting fear."

Dan, you have miss read the minds of our founding fathers and I believe you have miss read the mind of Jeff as well.

Jack Kemp of the Reagan Administration reported the results of a study. Unfortunately, I do not recall the exact figures but apparently 2/3 or 3/4 of the cost of housing was due to government regulations. Today, in some states people are not free to live in homes of their own design and standards because they cannot afford the extra costs of that state's regulations. And where some states have been slack on taking away our freedoms, the federal governments seems increasingly willing to oblige. And as Jeff already replied, this is not a criticism of an administration or race of a current nature only. This increase in willingness has known no boundaries of time or political label.

Just because Jeff didn't give specifics here does not mean he doesn't know of too many to mention. For example, by my giving one specific in this reply, I do the disservice of giving you the opportunity of impuning me by suggesting that I know only of one. Hopefully you won't fall for that temptation.

Most of Jeff's readers would see through it anyway. Most of us are a pretty educated group, either by degree or better yet by reading, discussion and experience
Cheers, Ben. Thanks for stopping by and come again.

Matthew said...

While I agree with many of your points, Jeff. I disagree with some of the sentiment that seems to go with them. There are many opinions on what makes the most sense for government and you seem to be calling anyone with a different approach then yours misinformed, ignorant or worse. It's not a very constructive way to go about things, IMO.

That said, I would certainly agree that it seems like current spending habits would have to inevitably lead to massive amounts of inflation, and it is certainly more then a bit worrisome.

Kaysville Al said...

I also long for the liberties that the founding fathers enjoyed. Before the nasty liberals got involved, I could own my neighbor for the right price (as long as his skin was a different color). I'm not sure why we ever decided to let non property holders get a vote. What about women? Things were much better before we let them have a say in politics. Just look how much more likely they are to vote non conservatively than the much wiser men.

Things are definetly much worse now. I also hate that the goverment forces (through regulation) businesses open to the public to serve all the public. The days when people could post "whites (non jews) only" were so much more free. I long for the days when the refinery I work for could route its excess crude into a big open unlined pit (circa 1960). Fuel standards for cars!?! Where is my freedom? Stupid housing regulations. It was much better before we had building codes and earthquake codes. We could put all the saved money into rebuilding after each earthquake/fire. Maybe even set up a trust fund for all the people that needlessly lost their lives (hey at least they had cheap housing).

I guess I wish we could get a balanced budget as much as the next guy, but I have to laugh out loud when people lament at how far we have fallen from the days of the founding fathers. Things were much better back then (as long as you were a white, male, property holder).

DavidH said...

Jeff, I read your blog from time to time, but don't recall reading your political posts before. This particular post seems to advocate basically a "Tea Party" position, citing Book of Mormon support. Am I missing something? Do you agree with the proposition that the Tea Party has a resonance among some Mormons that it might not among other groups?

Mormanity said...

Dan, I replied hastily yesterday in the few minutes I had. I should have begun with a different part of your reply. You said: ""Really? They rejected Big Government? I thought the rejection was taxation without representation. I don't recall them worried about size or anything. They just wanted to be represented. You're projecting upon our founding fathers something which they didn't believe themselves." Recognizing that you are an educated person who cares about America and American politics, I hope you'll not be annoyed with what I am about to say for I mean no offense and am not pointing fingers at you but at our educational system. I hope that one day you will appreciate that this statement helps make my case regarding the inadequate treatment that our schools give to fundamental issues about our nation's origins, for it shows that they have errantly taught that our form of government is all about democracy - about voting as the fundamental right to protect - rather than creating a government that avoids the crimes of mob rule and protects fundamental rights from tyranny the tyranny of government. The Federalist Papers and the many conversations and expressions of intent behind the founding of the Republic teach what they were trying to achieve, and unlimited, big government was indeed a primary enemy to avoid.

Dan said...

I'm not going to try and respond to everyone's response to my comment. I await the answer to the one burning question I still have of Jeff.

What liberties have we lost?

Dan said...

Nathan,

So let me get this straight, you are saying that government inhibits your right to design a home as you please. You're saying, for example, I should be able to design a home without a bathroom, if I really wanted to. I should be able to design a home that can easily burn to the ground because of shoddy electrical wiring. Even though, both of those things could be a detriment and danger to the community. (Unsanitary conditions due to a lack of proper plumbing could lead to an increase in rodents and diseases, and of course, fires threaten neighbors too).

I'm curious, exactly what freedoms are taken away again? The freedom to design a home that could be a danger to your neighbor? Frankly, I don't want that freedom, because I don't want that liability.

What is the other freedom Jeff talked about? Ah, starting businesses. I don't know about y'all but it seems, downturn in the economy not withstanding, our small business world seems to be doing just fine. Again, I am at a loss to see what freedom is lost because of the government.

I should point out, as a contrarian here, several freedoms gained that were not present in the days of our founding fathers.

1. Women can vote.
2. Blacks are free and not considered 3/4ths of a person or something ridiculous like that.
3. Anyone over 18 can vote, not just land owners.
4. Homosexuals are not executed for being homosexual like they were.
5. I charge that religions are far more free today than ever before. Could you imagine a Wicca religion back in the day? oh wait, yeah, they use to throw those women into rivers and drown them to death or burn them or hang them. Nice religious freedoms...
6. Desegregation.
7. Through federal pell grants and stafford loans, more people who could not get a collegiate education are now getting it, and getting jobs they would never have been able to.

The two examples you too bring up so far do not even come close to matching the freedoms gained since the times of the Founding Fathers. Even if counted as losses of freedom (which I don't think you've mustered enough evidence to show loss of freedom), they don't even change the balance against the examples I show here.

Dan said...

by the way, does anyone know of any research that actually tries to answer the question of what effect governmental regulations actually has on the survivability of a business. I'm not talking polemics. I'm talking actual research. What was the 3 year survivability rate of businesses begun in the 1810s versus those of, say, the 1960s, or the 1990s. What was the rate of business per capita (how many businesses were there in the population) in the 1810s compared to the 1990s. Frankly, WHO could open a business in the 1810s? Could women open businesses then? Certainly blacks could not. Was it only white men who could open and own businesses back then? If so, then today, people are more free to do business then back then.

Anonymous said...

Don't you see, Dan? Because of Big Government, I've lost the liberty to dump dioxin into my neighbor's groundwater. I've lost the liberty to use lead paint in manufacturing baby cribs. I've lost the liberty to automatically assert my God-given superiority over women and gay people. I've lost the liberty to get into elite colleges without ever having to compete with women applicants (you know, like John Roberts)--I've lost the liberty of my 100-percent-quota-for-males! In California recently, I came this close to losing my liberty to tell the gay-affirming Metropolitan Community Church whom they can and cannot marry! (The MCC has to kowtow to my religious doctrine instead of its own. Why can't you see that as a victory for religious liberty?) I've lost the liberty (so crucial to the original Constitution) to buy and sell slaves. I've lost the liberty to use tax money to shill for my own religion in the public schools. Heck, I've even lost the liberty to ethnically cleanse those pesky Lama...I mean Native Americans--who for so long stood in the way of making this country the great nation that it is. From sea to shining sea and all that. (I don't see why bleeding hearts insist on reminding us of things like slavery and genocide. It's not like slavery and genocide were important in our history. Not at all! We're a great nation only because of those shining values which today we have lost.)

Anyway, what you have to understand, Dan, is that the best way to describe a democratically-elected government passing a law I don't like is as a loss of liberty. Any time that same democratically elected government adopts a law I do like (even if it actually is a loss of liberty, I mean, you know, for people whose liberty doesn't count), it's an affirmation of the fundamental values that made this country great.

Get with the program already.

cj said...

Anonymous, perhaps you're unaware that "Big Government", principally the Clinton administration, is responsible for taking away many of our GLBT brothers' and sisters' rights--most notably in the form of a federal amendment banning gay marriage. And, of course, the *lovely* "don't ask, don't tell" rule (which many Conservatives are working hard to repeal right now). Obama, meanwhile, supports both a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage and the "don't ask, don't tell" rule.

Then, of course, there's the Patriot Act--which, as another poster correctly pointed out, basically guts our 4th, 5th, and 6th amendment rights. And, I'd argue, makes serious inroads into our 7th, 9th, and 10th.

The bottom line is, civil rights should NOT be a partisan issue. Civil rights are, by definition, for everybody--regardless of what they believe. Once we tie rights to "lifestyle", or "morality" concerns, they're no longer rights at all. Rather, they're tools to create (and promote) a protected class.

Anonymous said...

Civil rights should NOT be a partisan issue. Hey, I agree with you about Clinton, though it seems ludicrously, uh, partisan to associate Big Government principally with him. There's plenty of blame to go around. And FWIW, I agree with you about the Patriot Act. That's a setback to be sure. But despite such setbacks, Dan is right that far more Americans enjoy far more liberty today than back in the day.

Civil rights are, by definition, for everybody--regardless of what they believe. Once we tie rights to "lifestyle", or "morality" concerns, they're no longer rights at all. Rather, they're tools to create (and promote) a protected class.

Look. Proposition 8 effectually limits access to certain government benefits to heterosexuals. How in the world would extending those benefits to gay couples establish gay people as a "protected" class? Would you support an amendment that said "The right to marry the adult person of one's choice is hereby extended to everybody"? If that were proposed as an amendment to the California Constitution would you support it? If you answer yes, then I can conclude you really meant it when you wrote that "civil rights are, by definition, for everybody." Otherwise, not so much.

cj said...

As a matter of fact, Anonymous, I do support equal marriage. I've written about it, and related issues, often enough on my own blog. I still believe in separation of church and state, and in the right of the individual to be self determining.

mkprr said...

Jeff,
Thanks for the post. It is great to see how the Scriptures can guide us in how we relate to our community as well as to our God.
I am shocked at how little I actually learned about he constitution in school. I am curious, not as a question of criticism (I don't have enough knowledge about the issue to have a valid opinion yet), what kinds of limits do you see the constitution placing the federal government under in terms of creating laws that each state must abide by. I'm from Oregon where medical Marijuana is legal but it is still federally illegal which causes some issues. If things like national drug laws, and national health care aren't legal according to the constitution it isn't really a matter of what kinds of laws I feel are appropriate to vote for, it is more aobut what laws are actually legal to establish. If the constitution does in fact ban Federal involvement with healthcare and consumer laws than I am with the libertarians who are fighting against the large federal government.


On the other hand Book of Mormon leaders fought diligently for what they called "freedom" but I am not sure they meant it in the same way the libertarians do. They were Jews and although it is clear that the Book of Mormon people were much more lenient legally about freedom of religion than their brothers and sisters in the Old World, they probably still held to many of the environmental, welfare, and safety regulatory laws in the Old Testament. There are strict building code laws in the Old testament, farmers weren't allowed to net their trees to keep the birds out, sanitation was upheld by law, the poor were allowed to eat their fill from the fields without paying, usury was outlawed amongst the Jews and limited for foreign trade. I am sure many of these laws seemed unreasonable to the Jewish business community but weren't they inspired? I don't know how many of these laws the Nephites kept but it seems reasonable to think they had a great impact on Nephite culture and law.

I still haven't solidified my political views. I am still very much on the fence. Secret combinations and communism is something I want to avoid for sure, but how dangerous are national building codes, drug laws, or health care standards? I don't know, maybe they are really dangerous but I haven't been show why.

Anonymous said...

Jeff, I notice that your post follows a pattern typical of small-government conservatives. You stress "the founding of this nation," the Second Amendment, the Tenth Amendment, "the principles of liberty that our Founding Fathers taught," etc. The problem with this highly selective focus is that the constitution you are talking about is NOT the Constitution of the United States! I'm serious here, Jeff--the Constitution of the United States is NOT the original Constitution. It is NOT the Constitution of the Founding Fathers.

The Constitution of the United States IS the Constitution as originally approved AND as amended since that time.

Any time I read someone pontificating about how we've fallen away from the original Constitution, etc., etc., etc., and that person fails to mention, oh, I don't know, the Fourteenth Amendment--any time I encounter that highly selective focus I suspect I'm dealing with a hack.

Why would anyone fetishize the original constitution and ignore the constitution we actually live under today? It's not just you, of course. It's also a host of others whose politics is basically the politics of 1850.

Why make an idol (much "political analysis" nowadays strikes me as really a kind of idolatry) out of the original Constitution, and ignore the actual Constitution of the United States of America? Satan is a wily one....

Anonymous said...

NathanS, it's highly misleading to write that "The origin of the New England colonies was the desire for religious freedom." No, no, no. The so-called "Pilgrims" did not value "religious freedom" per se. Obviously not, since once they got to New England they quickly denied religious freedom to others.

Would you really be happy living under the Pilgrim model of "religious freedom"? What if that "religious freedom" included the public whipping of, say, Mormons for their unorthodox religious beliefs? That would parallel the Pilgrims' treatment of the Quakers.

"Religious freedom," my eye. Stop idealizing the past, people.

Dan said...

projecting on the past is probably a better description. Placing on the past a status that never existed in the past except in how we perceive it from the now.

Alan said...

I will just say what I feel, while respecting the opinions of those who disagree.

I want good government. I do not want what the Tea Party movement is advocating. I just see things differently. I will consider voting for honest and wise Conservatives but I will not vote for anti-government candidates.

I would rather live in 2010 USA than in 1840 USA.

I see know problem with the idea that the people, through their Constitutionally elected representatives, enacting legislation to help the weakest among them, or to protect themselves from the rich and powerful.

And I love freedom and liberty and the Constitution and will work with anyone to preserve them.

David B said...

It was a real wake up call the first time I read the "Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion" and realized that world leaders, artists, US presidents, and CEOs have been meeting at secret meetings like Bohemian Grove, Bildeberg, G20, Council on Foreign Relations and implementing the exact details found within the "Protocols". Even more startling was to realize many of our leaders practice occultism or espouse this New Age/Aquarius Movement ideology. In the past, when I read the Book of Mormon and secret combinations, I used to think about communism, or Islamic extremism. Now I have only recently woken up to the true reality of thie "monolithic conspiracy" that JFK spoke of.

Anonymous said...

I applaud your post, Jeff, and stand with you.

I would add Ether 8:20-26 to your scripture references; Moroni's aside is very apropos for our time.

I very much appreciate Dan, Kaysville Al, and some others too, for proving and illustrating so profoundly Jeff's point that so many people are ignorant and apathetic regarding principles of liberty and the Constitutional Republic that is being destroyed.

-nuez

Dan said...

Anonymous,

"I very much appreciate Dan, Kaysville Al, and some others too, for proving and illustrating so profoundly Jeff's point that so many people are ignorant and apathetic regarding principles of liberty and the Constitutional Republic that is being destroyed."

Enlighten me. What liberties are being destroyed. Stop speaking in general, ambiguous terms.

Dan said...

David B.,

"Even more startling was to realize many of our leaders practice occultism or espouse this New Age/Aquarius Movement ideology."

What the heck is this?!?!? Where do you guys get this crap from?

D.H. said...

David B.:
Wait... so you're basing this on an anti-semitic Imperial Russian tract that was plagiarize from earlier political satire completely unrelated to the Jews?! wow, just wow!

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Protocols_of_the_Elders_of_Zion

Anonymous said...

Note to readers in the reality-based community: For an interesting time, please do check out Anthony E. Larson's writings at www.mormonprophecy.blogspot.com.

Just to whet your appetite: Mr. Larson starts off by promising "to popularize the advancing science of comparative mythology and plasma physics as they relate to the Restored Gospel." Here's an excerpt:

[W]ith a little effort you’ll discover the reasons for believing that Earth’s ancient skies were vastly different than our own today. You’ll learn of the objects and images our ancestors saw in the astronomical theater, and we’ll give names to those planets and plasmas. This will be the prophetic equivalent of learning your ABCs.... Unlike today, where planets are little more than bright, distant stars in the sky, these planets and plasmas were very close. They were overwhelming and imposing because they were close to the Earth. They actually appeared larger than the moon does today. Brilliantly lit, dynamic and magnificent in ancient skies, these planets and plasmas were reverenced as gods or primeval powers....

Ah, Revelation! Ah, Truth!

Dan said...

Jeff,

See what kind of weirdos come out of the woodwork through this kind of polemic!

Anonymous said...

Dan, by what criterion is Larson a weirdo and Jeff not? As far as I can see, Larson's claims are no more and no less justified than the claims of mainstream LDS theology. Larson's claims are just asserted more forthrightly, with the sort of vigor and directness that used to characterize the mainstream LDS Church before it decided to soft-pedal the weird stuff.

Frankly, I miss the good old days. Bring back Bruce McConkie saying the Catholic Church is the Church of the Devil! Bring back Joseph Smith holding up that poor Indian's skull, like Hamlet holding up Yorick's, and pontificating about Zelph the White Lamanite! Seems like the most exciting thing the mainstream church can do nowadays is beat up on gay people. They might as well be Baptists.

Dan said...

anonymous,

Oh, I do think Jeff has a weird side (as this polemic proves). He's still not answered exactly what freedoms are at threat (except for something about how harder it is to open businesses, but he doesn't defend that---probably Jeff doesn't want to get contentious. Of course, that begs the question of why he would put up a contentious polemic then in the first place). Jeff's blog here has a more mainstream feel about it. He advertises it, and it is considered by other sources to be a source for knowledge about Mormonism. He's gotta be careful about drawing out the weirdos in our church who might turn investigators away.

I'll probably leave the church if it follows the path of weirdos like Anthony Larson. I honestly probably would never have joined the church before the time I joined the church. And I'm glad our current church leadership recognizes that to to gain and retain new adherents, they must be quiet about the weird, unverifiable crap.

I just wish the right wing Mormons would stop using ambiguous terminology and "name names." Stop with the "freedom is threatened" crap and name the names of what threatens freedom. I'll tell you why they will never do this though. Because in actual reality, there is little threat to our actual freedoms, and if they were forced to name names, they would have to then defend their charges. By remaining ambiguous, they use the fear specter to keep people in line. In other words, they LIMIT freedom through fear. It's quite perverse. It's certainly not in line with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. And I have to be honest that the kind of crap that Anthony Larson spews out leaves a bad taste in my mouth about Mormonism.

Anonymous said...

What's always struck me about the right-wing stuff is that it's so fundamentally conflicted. On the one hand, America is the greatest nation on earth, the citadel of freedom, etc., etc. On the other hand, America is always falling away from its ideals, always infringing on freedom, always just one step away from being turned by the dreaded libruls into some communistic h*llhole.

This has been going on for a long, long time. You'd think by now we'd have turned into Albania or North Korea. But we haven't. And because we haven't, you'd think that this whole discourse of decline would have died out by now. But no. It's a political-philosophical zombie: evidence simply cannot kill it. You can bludgeon it over and over with all the evidence in the world, but it just keeps lurching along, eating people's brains.

On another note, I wouldn't hold people like Larson against the Church. I don't think it's the Church's job to police outliers like him. But I do think the Church needs to do a better job of owning up to, and straightening out, the weirdness and bigotry remaining in its own core doctrine. The old racist myth of Ham is still right there, plain as day, in The Pearl of Great Price, as is all that stuff about the planet Kolob. The insulting notion of dark skin as a divine curse is central to the entire Book of Mormon. And the doctrine of plural marriage is still right there in Doctrine and Covenants.

The problem is not the fanciful interpretations of people like Larson. The problem is the plain text of parts of the canonical scripture. The Church needs to find and endorse some hermeneutic mode, presumably a "liberal" mode of interpretation, that allows thinking people to read that stuff without dismissing it as wacky and revolting. As yet, however, the Church has refused to repudiate the more conservative hermeneutics that drives people like us so crazy.

Pops said...

I consider it an abridgment of my freedom when government at the federal, state, and local levels confiscates half of my income. It's especially galling when so much is simply given to other people, as if they're somehow entitled to it.

Kaysville Al said...

@Pops:

I can definitely see taxes as an abridgment of personal freedom. We give up some of our income to become a part of society and enjoy all the benefits that come with it. We all have varying levels of what we feel would be an appropriate amount to pay and no one will agree with every program the government is involved in.

On the other hand, I don't see how taxes relates to the discussion at hand. State and local taxes have nothing to do with the founding of the country, the constitution, or the 10th and 2nd amendments (see Jeff's polemic above). As for federal taxes, I'm pretty certain that those are written into the constitution (income tax in the form of the 16th amendment). In fact one of the key deficiencies in the Articles of Confederation was the lack of federal taxation power. The founders wisely addressed this issue in the constitution.

Pops said...

Well, let's see. The first 15% of the money taken from me is given to other people to spend as they like. I'm not sure how that isn't a pretty serious violation of my freedom. If I tried taking your money to give it to someone else I would go straight to jail - I think it's called "theft". If I set up a Ponzi scheme like Social Security I would go straight to jail - I think that one is called "fraud".

Then there's my new granddaughter. She was born owing $50,000. That seems like a violation of her freedom.

Economic freedom is a serious matter. Without economic freedom, none of the other freedoms matter very much.

[I'm pretty sure the Founders didn't write the 16th Amendment - you may want to check on that one.]

catholic defender said...

Hi All,

I notice that the second half of my earlier post somehow didn't get posted. I was having trouble with my computer the day I posted. I wanted to put out the rest of my thought.

So picking up where I left off:

"The point that this posting was making though, is that our current education system is not teaching our children about the constitution and its true meanings. Our founding fathers were very brilliant men, and crafted a very thorough constitution to govern this nation. They were not saints though, and they did have their own personal agendas in mind, even though they also had the interest of the country in mind. Remember these guys were the wealthy land holders in this nation. They wanted to preserve their way of life, and their freedoms. As a practical matter, they needed to create a nation where all were created equal. However, not all were created equal in that drafting."

As I've reviewed the rest of the postings I've thought about that last comment of mine that not all were created equal in our US Constitution; freedom was not granted to all in the founding of this nation. Consider that Jefferson originally had language that would have freed the slaves in the original drafts of the delcaration of independence. That language was removed to secure the southern colonies support. So slaves weren't created equal under the original drafting of the constitution, because the southern states would not have bought into that proposition.

Consider that the native americans weren't covered under the constitution at all. If you read the earliest English Case Law on dealing with the native americans, what you find is that they were not considered anything other than a conquered nation of unchristian savages. They therefore got no say in anything the English Government did here in the states. That sentiment carried over when the colonies won their freedom in the revolution. The Native Americans were not created equal in our constitution. In fact, us equality minded christians tried our damndest to exterminate the Native Americans in the name of God; that's how unequal they were under our constitution.

The point I'm making is that our schools are quite deficient in teaching anything related to history and government. Think back to your own education on the indians. I can remember being taught how they were savages, and butchered whole colonies. What was never taught in our history classes was how we as a nation started the butchery, and the indians were only responding to our unchristian ways. I had to learn that on my own, during my graduate education.

There are likely many reasons that our schools are deficient in educating our kids. Its only partly the fault of the government running the public education system. Some of the fault lies with the teachers, more interested in ensuring they get paid very well, instead of educating. Some of the fault lies in the fact that we've dumbed down our education system because those same teachers don't know the information in the first place. We can blame government and the various administrations, but that is too simple an explanation. The true fault in the ignorance discussed here lies with all of us, as well as with the government, and the private sector, and the media. All of us have become apathetic and cynical, to our own detriment.

Sincerely

Catholic Defender

Dan said...

"The first 15% of the money taken from me is given to other people to spend as they like."

There's the first lie. The remainder rests on this lie so the rest is false as well. The first 15% of the money taken is not given to other people to spend as they like. That is just utterly ridiculous, pedestrian, and stupid. A child knows better than this about taxation.

Dan said...

catholic defender,

"Think back to your own education on the indians. I can remember being taught how they were savages, and butchered whole colonies. "

Don't know what school you went to, but the public school I went to did not teach that at all. Then again, I lived in a wealthy liberal neighborhood full of well educated people

"What was never taught in our history classes was how we as a nation started the butchery, and the indians were only responding to our unchristian ways. I had to learn that on my own, during my graduate education. "

hell, we watched Dances With Wolves in our class!

"Its only partly the fault of the government running the public education system."

No, it's not.

Frankly I'm surprised you leave out the biggest and most flagrant group: parents! Com'on guys, this isn't really that hard.

Anonymous said...

Oh, Pops... Where to begin?

-- If I tried taking your money to give it to someone else I would go straight to jail - I think it's called "theft."

So, citizens vote their representatives into legislative office, the legislature passes a tax law, and the executive branch executes the legislation, and that's the same as someone stealing your wallet on the street? You're not even being serious. You're venting, not thinking.

--I'm pretty sure the Founders didn't write the 16th Amendment.

Duh. But so what? As I wrote above: the Constitution of the Founders is NOT the Constitution of the United State of America.

The Constitution of the United States of America IS (note the use of the present tense, Pops) the original Constitution PLUS the subsequent amendments.

Tea Partiers and their ilk tend to forget this basic fact because they fetishize the Founders. Why do they look back so fondly to the Land of Genocide and Slavery? I have a theory: they're greedy and they're racist. They wish that THEY, too, lived in a world that so heavily favored the rich white man. They're pathetic.

Mormanity said...

When you can't debate intelligently, just throw out the race card. Cheap.

Anon, your linking of respect for the founding of this nation with racism is outrageous and idiotic. It shows a genuinely pathetic inability to engage in discourse and a chilling ignorance. Which takes me back to the concerns expressed in the original post, by the way.

Mormanity said...

Dan, as for freedoms lost, several of us have mentioned problems with the Patriot Act. To me, the rise of anything close to a police state is of great concern. Take a look at the report from the Rutherford Institute: The Rise of the American Police State. Surely you can recognize that we are being asked to surrender some degree of personal liberty and privacy in the name of security. You can argue that it's needed, but when a government can spy on its citizens so freely and make other once forbidden incursions into their lives, it's a loss of personal liberty to some degree, n'est-ce pas?

When government can take and spend virtually unlimited amounts of money, without the implicit fiscal restrains of the monetary requirements of the Constitution, isn't that an act of usurping tremendous power and inherently weakening property rights of its citizens?

When a government can size my property and redistribute to others, as Bush did with his stimulus program, or give it failed companies with political connections, as happened under the past two or more administrations, can you imagine that this might be interpreted as an infringement on personal property rights?

Dan said...

Jeff,

"When you can't debate intelligently, just throw out the race card. Cheap."

So no one can ever bring up the possibility that race plays a factor? You're the one throwing in the "race card" race card, Jeff. That's cheap. :)

I agree that the Patriot Act and the continual security bruhahas are terrible. Those are definitely better examples and worthy of debate as well as efforts to reduce their influence.

"When government can take and spend virtually unlimited amounts of money, without the implicit fiscal restrains of the monetary requirements of the Constitution, isn't that an act of usurping tremendous power and inherently weakening property rights of its citizens?"

This is where you get off track though, Jeff. What "monetary requirements" are there in the Constitution? And property rights? Property rights are a vastly different issue than "preserving freedom." There are related points, but they are two different beasts. It's ironic, because once again, you come up against a major problem with your argument that today's America has infringed upon the "property rights" of Americans to a greater degree than in the days of the Founding Fathers. Exactly who could own property back then? Could women own property? Could blacks? Once again, Americans have far greater freedoms in "property rights" than at any time in America's history.

"When a government can size my property and redistribute to others, as Bush did with his stimulus program, or give it failed companies with political connections, as happened under the past two or more administrations, can you imagine that this might be interpreted as an infringement on personal property rights?"

Um, wasn't Bush's stimulus program unfunded? How can you claim that Bush seized your property when he did not demand an increase in your taxes in order to pay for the stimulus program? You're just lying here, Jeff. Com'on dude. Stick with the facts.

The only reason I am being harsh with you here, Jeff, is that your blog is marketed throughout the web as a definitive source for Mormonism, and thus your views could be interpreted as that of Mormonism, and frankly, I tire of this stupid thought.

Mormanity said...

Dan, the money the government spends comes from its citizens, not from magic. Money given to favored groups ultimately is seized (not "sized" - a typo) from the wealth of its citizens. When it comes from deficit spending, it adds to our debt that we must pay (with interest). When it comes from money that is printed or "quantitatively eased" into existence, it still comes from us by erosion of the value of our dollar, which has lost over 95% of its purchasing power since the creation of the Federal Reserve Bank. The power to spend without restraint and to redistribute wealth weather by hidden or direct taxation is a power far beyond what the citizens of this country have granted to its rulers through the instrument of the Constitution.

Regarding the financial aspects of the Constitution, it clearly does not grant government the power to have an unelected financial branch such as the Federal Reserve Bank. Article I, Section 8, Clause 5 states that
"The Congress shall have Power ... To coin Money, regulate the Value thereof, and of foreign Coin, and fix the Standard of Weights and Measures."

Article I, Section 10, Clause 1: "No State shall...coin Money; emit Bills of Credit; make any Thing but gold and silver Coin a Tender in Payment of Debt."

The Founding Fathers had experienced the ravages of paper money unbacked by intrinsic value. The language here implies that money should be coined, not printed, as in gold or silver coins. OK, I know there are problems with the gold standard and plenty to debate on the alleged needs for a central bank and so forth, but paper money UNBACKED by gold or silver, pure fiat currency that can be created at the whims of unelected banksters, is absolutely outside the powers given to the federal government and clearly contrary to the intent of the Framers. Dan, doesn't it worry you that your children or grand children will be born with around $50,000 of debt right of the bat? Doesn't the unbridled spending of government cause you concern? If not, take a look at what happened under similar economic policies when reality finally caught up with the Weimar Republic, Yugoslavia, and Zimbabwe. It's not a happy ending. And yes, the loss of private property rights from such disastrous economic malfeasance is a loss of personal liberty. If government can take all or almost all of what you have, are you free?

Government was created to be a servant of the people, to have powers delegated, not usurped. When it becomes monstrously big, freedom is eroded. Always. And ultimately, religious freedom is too.

The health of the Church ultimately depends on having religious liberty. Liberty is something we should all strive to protect and preserve. Once lost, it's difficult to vote it back.

Dan said...

Jeff,

" When it comes from deficit spending, it adds to our debt that we must pay (with interest)."

Deficit spending is not "seizing property" nor is it a matter of "preserving freedom." I wholeheartedly agree with you that our government needs to spend responsibly. I wonder then, why so many members of the church (conservative members) fully supported the Bush administration, and in particular the war in Iraq (including President Hinckley, who gave strong support for both the war in Iraq and the war in Afghanistan). This point isn't necessarily all that important in the debate over "freedom" except that even President Hinckley couched his support of those wars on the issue of freedom. It would seem, however, that even our prophet thinks some deficit spending is acceptable. I agree with him on this point. Federal, or national, governments should not have a limit on their spending, but should have other measures to keep that spending in check other than requirements for a balanced budget, such that states and cities have, for example. We would never have been able to fight World War II, for example, if our government did not have the possibility to borrow money.

I honestly figured you'd be happier with Obama than with Bush when it came to spending. Aside from the stimulus package he released earlier last year, most of the bills he has proposed pay for themselves either through new taxes or from shifting money from other places within the federal budget. I mean, even the TARP money and the AIG money and the Citibank money, the government is getting back with interest. They were shocking because of how big they were, but did you really think the better option was to let all these massive banks fail? Have you not thought through what would happen if the ability to lend money failed? Regular businesses would be unable to pay their own employees or get the things they required. Do you know how much day to day lending occurs between regular businesses? Do you think all businesses somehow have a magical cash supply on hand to deal with unexpected orders? NO! They have to borrow on a daily basis. If you remove the ability of regular businesses to be able to borrow from banks because the ability to borrow no longer had trust, do you know what kind of catastrophic damage that would have done to our whole economy?

I rue the day libertarians ever run this country. How awful they would destroy it.

" When it comes from money that is printed or "quantitatively eased" into existence, it still comes from us by erosion of the value of our dollar, which has lost over 95% of its purchasing power since the creation of the Federal Reserve Bank. "

Can you share evidence of this please.

"The power to spend without restraint and to redistribute wealth weather by hidden or direct taxation is a power far beyond what the citizens of this country have granted to its rulers through the instrument of the Constitution. "

Why do you keep using the "redistribution of wealth" crap, Jeff? Do you really think that phrase has traction? It's such a false phrase. No wealth is redistributed. No money is stolen and given to someone else to use as they please. This phrase is a lie, Jeff. It's not based on reality. The Constitution gives Congress the ability to tax. And guess what, Congress can tax you at 95% if they so wished it. That power is given to them in the Constitution. And guess what, the Constitution gives them the right to spend it as they please. You've got nothing here, Jeff.

"Regarding the financial aspects of the Constitution, it clearly does not grant government the power to have an unelected financial branch such as the Federal Reserve Bank."

Actually the sections you quote give no indication that Congress cannot create a national bank. Furthermore, several of the Founding Fathers agreed that a Central Bank was important, including James Madison, if I am not mistaken.

Dan said...

"OK, I know there are problems with the gold standard and plenty to debate on the alleged needs for a central bank and so forth, but paper money UNBACKED by gold or silver, pure fiat currency that can be created at the whims of unelected banksters, is absolutely outside the powers given to the federal government and clearly contrary to the intent of the Framers."

This is where you project your ideology upon the Founding Fathers something they never stated or believed, unless you show me they said something like this. You think the Founding Fathers thought of everything, Jeff. They were smart, but they weren't that smart. They couldn't have thought of everything. They could not have foreseen advances in economics and monetary policies.

Today's America has problems regarding the proper distribution of wealth among its citizens, but that problem stems from unregulated capitalism rather than government policy. Today, America's wealthy are far better off than at any other time, thanks to the policies of Reagan and Bush. If only Obama were able to do what FDR did, and bring back some level of equality to the whole country and not to the select few. Sadly, Obama is not some superman, and just a regular president stuck with a highly divided Congress. The policies of FDR, Truman, JFK and Johnson brought massive wealth to a much larger segment of the population and put America in the stratosphere. Hell, even Eisenhower allowed a 90% tax on the wealthiest Americans. And guess what, the economy thrived even with all these high taxes. The lowest of the low American was able to get to college and make something of himself. What an amazing growth period. We're going to see some of those gains lost the more we listen to libertarians and the hard core right wing.

"Dan, doesn't it worry you that your children or grand children will be born with around $50,000 of debt right of the bat? "

No, I'm not worried. I'm concerned that our debt is getting pretty high, but I'm not worried. What bothers me more is that conservatives don't want to even consider the easiest way to bring down our debt: raise taxes. It's ironic just how selfish today's conservatives are compared to their forefathers. Previous generations of conservatives and Americans in general were okay with raising taxes in order to pay down debt. What the hell is wrong with y'all today? Why are you so afraid of raising taxes in order to balance the budget and pay down debt?

"Doesn't the unbridled spending of government cause you concern?"

What is unbridled spending? The health care bill is paid for through taxes and from other sources. Maybe you mean the war in Iraq and Afghanistan. You've got no argument from me. Those wars needed to be ended yesterday.

Dan said...

"If not, take a look at what happened under similar economic policies when reality finally caught up with the Weimar Republic, Yugoslavia, and Zimbabwe."

You're getting hysterical here, Jeff. No sane economist is even comparing America to those examples. If there are examples for us to follow, Japan is probably the best example. I don't want to see America follow Japan's example (they're now at 200% debt to income ratio), but we're really far off from where even Japan was, and look, Japan is not facing hyper inflation. Do you even know why the Weimar Republic and Zimbabwe are (were) suffering from hyper inflation? Because it doesn't seem to me that you do, or you would not compare America to those two incidents. Frankly, our bigger concern right now is DEFLATION, not inflation. Deflation is a bigger killer to an economy than inflation, and frankly, inflation (which is an annual occurrence) is not bad to economies. Why don't you talk about the dangers of deflation?

"And yes, the loss of private property rights from such disastrous economic malfeasance is a loss of personal liberty. If government can take all or almost all of what you have, are you free? "

Yes, you're still free. All I have to do is look back at the 1950s when Americans were taxed at very high levels to see that this is indeed the truth. You are free, Jeff. You are freer today than what you would have been in 1805.

"When it becomes monstrously big, freedom is eroded. Always. And ultimately, religious freedom is too. "

Please back this up with actual evidence, because frankly, while our government is fairly big right now, few liberties are actually taken away. Few freedoms are lost. And religious freedom? What? Back it up, Jeff. GIve me evidence. Don't just make the claim.

"The health of the Church ultimately depends on having religious liberty. Liberty is something we should all strive to protect and preserve. Once lost, it's difficult to vote it back."

You have no basis to make the claim of loss of religious liberty here in this country. Our church is freer today than it was in 1885. It is freer today than it was in 1940. It is freer today than it was in 1980.

catholic defender said...

Good Morning Dan,

I think you need to take your liberally educated mind to task and read some of the works of Thomas Jefferson, one of the founding fathers. He was greatly concerned about banks having control of the country, and unbacked paper money. Quite frankly he preached vehemently against the very bailouts of the banks and private corporations that occurred in 2008. Unfortunately for us Mr. Bush was a moron who either couldn't read or couldn't understand what Jefferson was saying, and here we are today, with a huge financial mess on our hands.

You challenge Jeff to cite examples of the loss of religious freedoms in this country. Consider the liberal public schools you graduated from. Children are discouraged from displaying their christian upbringings. They can't pray freely in those schools. The mere mention of the name of Jesus in the public schools sparks heated debate. Our public educators system has been taught to squelch any display of christianity in the classroom. That is religious intolerance.

But it goes further, at the same time we are squelching christianity, we're recognizing Jewish Holidays, and Muslim Holidays in those same public school systems. I hope no one will take that example as me being anti-semetic or anti-muslim, I am not. But, it is an example of our government correcting the sins of the past, by denying religious freedom to christians, but ensuring that minority religions are allowed practise freely.

I think many folks misread the first amendment as stating that the government will be completely free from religion. It does not say that. It actually says that the government will not enact a law which takes away one's freedom to practise their religion:

Amendment 1 "Congress will enact no law respecting the establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;..."

That first clause is being misinterpreted. It says there will not be a state religion. This stems from the English forcing the colonists to be Episcopals, and literally dragging folks out of thier homes on Sundays to go to church. The founders did not want that to happen anymore. The second clause, says that we will all be free to practise whatever religion we choose. Contrary to what you may believe, the establishment clause only prohibits the government from establishing a religion of its own, and making us all believe. What goes on in today's society regarding religion is contrary to what the founders believed.

Sincerely

Catholic Defender

Anonymous said...

Women could own property in Colonial America and at the time of the Founding of the nation.

catholic defender said...

Dan,

The fact that you saw "Dances with Wolves" in your classroom, suggests that you are considerably younger than I am. You probably did not grow up playing cowboys and indians, and no one wanting to be an indian cause they were the bad guys. You therefore may have experienced a more open minded education regarding the Native Populace. Bully for you.

Judging by the way you convey your understanding of our country's history though, I think maybe some things were less taught in your classroom. Perhaps you do not realize this, but our public education system in this country is far behind the education system in other countries. There are people in Germany that know more about American history, than our own children. That is a direct result of the government not meeting the needs of its citizens. But it is also a direct result of teachers unions protecting teachers salaries and jobs, but not looking out for our children's education. And it is a direct result of parents not teaching thier children. I agree with you on that point. But, overall the public school system in this country is left lacking. Myself, I had the benefit of Catholic School all the way through middle school. Some things were missing, but in terms of knowledge, and how to acquire it, I recieved a much better education from nuns who taught for free, and had less resources to work with than the public sector, than I ever would have from the paid instructors we have in the public school system. We are raising ignorant children, in this country. As a result it is likely that we will be seeing our freedoms whittled away.


Sincerely

Catholic Defender

Dan said...

catholic defender,

"I think you need to take your liberally educated mind to task and read some of the works of Thomas Jefferson, one of the founding fathers. He was greatly concerned about banks having control of the country, and unbacked paper money."

Thomas Jefferson does not speak for all Founding Fathers. Alexander Hamilton, a Founding Father, introduced the First Bank, and then James Madison introduced the Second Bank. It's nice that Jefferson was concerned about the banks, but that doesn't make central banks bad.

"Children are discouraged from displaying their christian upbringings. They can't pray freely in those schools. The mere mention of the name of Jesus in the public schools sparks heated debate. Our public educators system has been taught to squelch any display of christianity in the classroom. That is religious intolerance. "

I remember mentioning the name of Jesus in my public school and it didn't spark a heated debate. Lower down your rhetoric dude. Our public schools obey the Constitution by separating church and state. You may disagree with that, and that is your right. Other religions are now freer to express themselves in public schools, something which they would not have been able to do in the past because the Christian groups within the public schools would oppress their freedom of religion. Once again, more freedom today than in the past.

"But it goes further, at the same time we are squelching christianity, we're recognizing Jewish Holidays, and Muslim Holidays in those same public school systems."

Exactly. Fits right in with the secular nature of the United States of America, which is NOT a Christian nation. It is a multi-cultural, multi-religious country. That Christians had subjugated other religions' freedoms of expression and practice should be a sign to you that today, people have more freedom to express and practice their religion in this country than at any other time in this country's history.

What you are essentially indicating, by your comments, is that you are not interested in freedom of religion. You're only interested in freedom of Christianity. Damn the rest of religions, including ones that you feel threatened by. You are going against the intent of the First Amendment.

"But, it is an example of our government correcting the sins of the past, by denying religious freedom to christians, but ensuring that minority religions are allowed practise freely."

You don't seem to realize just how effectively you are making my point that today more freedoms are allowed in our country than in the past. Thank you for your efforts. :)

"You probably did not grow up playing cowboys and indians, and no one wanting to be an indian cause they were the bad guys. You therefore may have experienced a more open minded education regarding the Native Populace. Bully for you. "

Neener neener! :P

"Perhaps you do not realize this, but our public education system in this country is far behind the education system in other countries. There are people in Germany that know more about American history, than our own children."

Fascinating that you should bring up Germany, whose children learn from governmental run schools. Fascinating isn't it, that they somehow learn so much from those governmental schools. Makes you wonder. Maybe if we didn't do so much to undermine our own governmental run schools, they might do better... just a thought.

catholic defender said...

Dan,

I don't think you're willing to consider anyone else's viewpoint but you're own. You ultimately missed mine entirely. Yes, christians did violate the rights of others, and impose their religion on others in the past. However, now we've become so conscientous about religion, we're violating the rights of christians to make sure other faiths are recognized. The pendulum swung too far the other direction.

I'm all for religious freedom, for all religions. However, there has to be a balance, and fairness for all. The current makeup, protects the rights of non-christians at the expense of christians. That's not anymore correct under the constitution, than the christians were. You're right non-christians have more freedom to practise their faith than previously, but christians do not. Say you're a christian, and people like yourself become intolerant.

You are actually wrong about the idea that this was a secular nation. Our founding fathers were primarily christian, though some were agnostic. None that I know of were atheist. The very laws that we hold dear, were based upon the principles of the 10 commandments. Thou shalt not kill equates to the statutes pertaining to murder. Thou shalt not steal equates to the laws on robbery and larceny. This is a christian nation, founded upon christian ideals; we've just become less christian in our approach to each other.

I'm neither for nor against a government run school. The constitution doesn't really even address education, so we're left wondering what the intent was. I'm for getting the job done, whether publicly or privately. What I am against, is an education that does not prepare our children adequately for the future. That's the problem with the public education system. It has something to do with the government, but there are multiple other factors involved. Bottom line, is American Schools are not as good as they should be with all the resources we spend on them. That to me is a problem.

Incidently, Jefferson, while not speaking for all the founding fathers, was right about the banks, and slavery, and a number of issues. Too bad our currently leaders didn't listen to his words.

Sincerely

Catholic Defender

Anonymous said...

Jeff, the founding of this nation and the writing of its original constitution were both profoundly influenced by race. Is it not true that certain states were worried about being disadvantaged in the legislature vis a vis the continuation of slavery? Did not those worries influence the decision to go with a bicameral legislature, one half of which gave each state equal representation? And are we not talking here about the fundamental structure of our nation?

To talk about the Constitution as if it were some Great Gift Straight from Almighty God, rather than the result of lots of political wrangling, a good bit of it by diehard racists desiring to secure their own racial superiority in the Constitution, is just silly.

And yes, it IS racist to fail to see that race is crucial to these discussions. Why? Because the only way to dismiss the centrality of race to the founding is to dismiss the importance of black people, period. Which is, you know, racist.

Look. If some nation adopted a constitution that gave everyone equal representation except Mormons, and that denied Mormons citizenship, and that, for purposes of apportioning representation, counted each Mormon as 3/5 of a person, you would probably say that anti-Mormon prejudice was crucial to the founding of that nation.

And what if I were then to say this: "Well, sure, those constitution-writers were anti-Mormon, and sure, now that you've pointed it out, I can see how maybe their anti-Mormonism was central to the constitution they wrote and the governmental structure they created. But still, their anti-Mormonism just isn't really important. It's not worth bringing up. That's just librul political correctness. People who insist on bringing it up are just playing the anti-Mormon card. And that constitution, despite the fact that it was so fundamentally shaped by anti-Mormon bigotry, is nonetheless a shining Gift of God that we should revere."

If I were to think that way, would you not rightly suspect some ani-Mormon prejudice on my part? I bet you would--and with good reason.

You'd have even more reason to suspect me of anti-Mormon prejudice if, all the while I was insisting that the anti-Mormonism didn't matter, I just happened to be a gung-ho member of a club that until recently had excluded Mormons from full membership.

One of the things that Christians are called upon to do is to try to imagine their world as other people see it. (You know, "Do unto others....") I think if you do that in good faith, you'll start to understand the importance of race in these matters.

Dan said...

catholic defender,

"However, now we've become so conscientous about religion, we're violating the rights of christians to make sure other faiths are recognized. The pendulum swung too far the other direction. "

What rights are violated?

"I'm all for religious freedom, for all religions. However, there has to be a balance, and fairness for all. "

You realize this would mean that some things would therefore be restricted in order for balance and fairness to be there for all. Can you really have someone lead a public school prayer to a Christian God and not to a Muslim God too?

"That's not anymore correct under the constitution, than the christians were. You're right non-christians have more freedom to practise their faith than previously, but christians do not."

What rights have been taken away? I remember Mormons losing one right of religious freedom. They wished to practice polygamy. Other Christian denominations used the power of the government to restrict that because they were offended. Was that right?

"You are actually wrong about the idea that this was a secular nation."

Do you even know what the word "secular" means? It means the country's laws do not adhere to a religion, or run as a theocracy. Most of the Western world is now secular. This does not mean its leaders or even its founders were atheists, nor does it matter if they were religious. Nor does it matter where one gets the principles from. That does not make those principles religious. The whole notion of what the Founders argued was over "universal" rights. Inalienable. In other words, what the Founders founded was a country where all religions could feel free to practice their religions as they saw fit, provided they adhere to basic principles (like no human sacrifice).


"Bottom line, is American Schools are not as good as they should be with all the resources we spend on them. "

Maybe we should raise taxes to the level of the Germans and pay our teachers more competitive pay... just saying.

"Incidently, Jefferson, while not speaking for all the founding fathers, was right about the banks, and slavery, and a number of issues. Too bad our currently leaders didn't listen to his words."

Or his peers? I mean, Alexander Hamilton and James Madison are not "current leaders." And they instituted the first and second national banks. Your arguments lack much evidence to back up your charges, catholic defender.

Jeff Lindsay said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jeff Lindsay said...

Anon, of course race profoundly affected our history. Of course racism has been and often still is a tragic issue. But the race card was dropped in response to MY yearning for limited government, personal liberty, and application of the principles of the Book of Mormon. When someone regurgitates the talking points of radicals and says that I, Jeff Lindsay, am talking about the Constitution because I don't like having a black man in office, or because I just might just be a greedy racist who wants to go back to slavery, I am dismayed and deeply offended. Such insults are utterly uncalled for.

My respect for the principles of limited government, of checks and balances, of sound currency, of divinely granted rights inalienable by government, and of other human rights has nothing to do with racism. How can you read racism into that? I believe most of my non-white friends in the U.S. share respect for those values and for the Constitution itself. Some are as worried as I am about unconstitutional excesses, deficit spending and the intrusions of big government. Are they racists? Are black conservatives like Thomas Sowell, Ken Hamblin, and Clarence Thomas racists for respecting Constitutional principles?

For all the racial problems virtually every nation had 200 years ago or 100 years ago, and indeed, in Biblical and Book of Mormon times, there were still wise and inspired men who left us principles of personal liberty, freedom, and righteousness that we should cherish. The complex compromises necessary to bring the Republic together were good faith efforts that paved the way for a nation that could ultimately throw off the horrid tradition of slavery. I think there were better, faster, and less painful ways to reach that state, but we are all grateful that we have largely moved beyond that.

Respect for the Constitution, and even taking an oath to uphold it, is not an expression of racism--only in the imaginations of warped minds and skilled agitators. Don't let yourself be manipulated by them.

For the record, Americas of all colors on the average were PROUD to elect our first black President. Virtually everyone I know, and that includes many conservatives, liked the idea of a black president. But there is more than symbolism and color involved here. Expanding upon the same errors that Bush and others have made does not become acceptable just because someone is of a particular race.

Anonymous said...

But you, Jeff Lindsey, are NOT "talking about the Constitution." At least, you're not talking about the Constitution of these United States of America as it exists today; you're talking about the Constitution of the Framers, which is NOT the Constitution we live under.

Re-reading your original post, I am once again struck by the fact that you so studiously ignore the post-Civil War amendments.

Think of it this way, Jeff. There are two constitutions:

1.) The Original Constitution (let's call it the OC for short), which was decisively shaped by the bigotry and greed of wealthy slaveholders and which privileges liberty (for some) at the expense of racial equality.

2. The Real Constitution (let's call it the RC), which I'm calling "real" because it's the one we live under today, and which happens to include amendments--legitimately approved by the American people--that guarantee things like racial equality under the laws, a federal income tax, etc.

One thing I'd like to know is why anyone would make a Constitutionalist argument about things like liberty and monetary policy, and expect their readers to be persuaded, without referring those readers to the RC. It's a lot easier to make such arguments about liberty if you ignore the way that the post-Civil-War amendments complicate liberty by putting it in tension with that other great American ideal, equality.

When you frame your arguments solely in terms of the OC and so studiously ignore the RC, readers like me, who are familiar with the Real Constitution, suspect a con game. Readers who are not ignorant of the RC think to themselves, "Here's another guy who doesn't want us to look behind the curtain. He wants us to look only at the parts of the Constitution he likes, and not at the whole thing. What's he got to hide?"

As for the racism issue: one doesn't have to be overtly hostile to black people, or think them inherently inferior, to be racist. Racism can be embedded in one's thinking and values without being conscious or intentional, yet can still be legitimately inferred. (Think of the way we sometimes refer to the United States as a "Christian nation," meaning not that all Americans are overtly Christian, which they're obviously not, but rather that certain Christian ideas and habits have suffused the culture. Ditto for racism. Certain racist ideas and habits--among them, the worshipping of the OC and avoidance of the RC--have become part and parcel of certain American subcultures.)

Anyway, what's the single greatest difference between your beloved OC and my beloved RC?

I repeat: the OC was decisively shaped by racists so as to perpetuate white supremacy and the exploitation of black people. The RC was decisively re-shaped to end slavery and white supremacy.

You fetishize the OC, and you don't seem to like the RC very much, at least not enough to fetishize it as you do the OC. And, of course, there's the added fact that you defend a church that until 1979 was openly racist, and whose scriptures remain racist to this day (I speak here of the idea, in the Book of Mormon and Pearl of Great Price, of dark skin as a divine curse.) This overt racism does not seem to bother you very much, certainly not enough to call into question the legitimacy of the Church. And what kind of person is not particularly bothered by such things? You make the call.

Can you at least see the basis of my suspicions? Can you at least see how this looks to people like me, and admit that the reason people like me see it that way is not that we're "ignorant of the Constitution"?

Can you not search your own heart to see if there's not the slightest glimmer of truth in what I say?

catholic defender said...

Dear Anonymous of June 17 @12;15,

Do you think the writers of the amendments following the Civil War were any less racist than those who drafted what you consider the original constitution? Look back at your history books. There may have been amendments, but there certainly was not freedom granted to all. The Native Americans weren't covered under those amendments. Women were not suddenly endowed with the right to vote. Blacks rights were not protected by those amendments. All across the south blacks were still exploited and taken advantage of. Across the north, things weren't a whole lot better. I submit to you that the framers of the post civil-war amendments were still the same breed of racist wealthy white landholders that had drafted the original constitution; just the names had changed.

You accuse Jeff of seeing the constitution only in light of those amendments which he likes best. Seems to me that we are all guilty of that sin when it comes to the constitution, Dan and yourself included. That likely has to do with the ignorance that Jeff raised in this post, when originally started.

The true beauty of the constitution, is that it was intended to be a living document. The law is a living breathing entity that is subject to change. The other true beauty of the constitution, is that our right to have an opinion is preserved by it. We could not be having this very discussion, without the protections afforded to us under the constitution. It is for that reason, that our constitution is worth preserving, and worth dying for. And it is for that reason we should be making sure our children know what the constitution is and why its so important.

I don't support the LDS church position that this country was preordaned to come into existence, or that the framers of the constitution were somehow divinely inspired. Much of the pain and misery christians caused to the Native Peoples is traceable to the mindset that God ordained this land for settling by the Christian faiths; this is the whole concept of Manifest Destiny. Indians were exterminated because European settlers believed that it was their God-given right to own this land. So that aspect of LDS teachings has always troubled me. Even still, while I disagree with Jeff on many things, I recognize that he has a right to say them that needs to be protected at all costs. Doing any less, would cost us our greatest freedom...it would cost us our right to hold an opinion.

Sincerely

Catholic Defender

Dan said...

catholic defender,

"You accuse Jeff of seeing the constitution only in light of those amendments which he likes best. Seems to me that we are all guilty of that sin when it comes to the constitution, Dan and yourself included. That likely has to do with the ignorance that Jeff raised in this post, when originally started. "

I don't appreciate being called ignorant. I advise you to show me where I show any preference to any particular amendment over another. I do decry the 3/5ths crap in the Constitution and am glad later generations of Americans got rid of that ridiculous aspect of our Constitution. But surely you agree that was a ridiculous thing to put in a Constitution. You're coming off very arrogant and condescending here, as if you somehow know the Constitution better than me or Mr. Anonymous.

"Even still, while I disagree with Jeff on many things, I recognize that he has a right to say them that needs to be protected at all costs. Doing any less, would cost us our greatest freedom...it would cost us our right to hold an opinion."

Are you indicating here that either myself or Mr. Anonymous are trying to silence Jeff's voice? Jeff can hold whatever idiotic opinion he wants. And so can you. And both of you better expect harsh criticism when you make idiotic statements. That's the beauty of free speech. :)

catholic defender said...

Good Morning Dan,

If you took me to be calling you ignorant, I apologize. I was making reference to the title of this posting, not you personally. As to stifling Jeff's or anyone else's voice, the tenor of your comments, not necessarily the substance of them, strongly suggests efforts at stifling the voice of anyone who may disagree with your position. Perhaps that is not your intent, however, that is how your words come across.

Sincerely

Catholic Defender

Anonymous said...

A quick aside about the tenor of our discussion: If "the tenor of [Dan's and my] comments...strongly suggests efforts at stifling the voice of anyone who may disagree," then what are we to make of the tenor of Jeff's entire post?

Start with his title: "Preserving Freedom: Hard to Do in Ignorance." Pretty civil way to frame a debate, eh? Rather as if I had titled a post, "Freeing Oneself from Mormonism: Hard to Do in Ignorance."

What if I went on to argue that my opponents would agree with me about LDS doctrine if only they weren't so ignorant? And that the persistence of LDS beliefs shows that Mormons have utterly abandoned the principles of rationality, etc.?

I try not to use that sort of hyperbolic and divisive language myself, though I'm sure that at times I get as carried away as Jeff. But I have no real problem with his use of that sort of rhetoric. It's his right to use it. It's well within the bounds of acceptable discourse in the blogosphere, and anyway it only weakens his position (just as it weakens mine when I use it). Best to be thick-skinned enough to ignore the rhetoric in which an argument is wrapped and evaluate the argument itself.

Anyway, the main point is that using strong rhetoric is NOT the same as "stifling someone's voice" in any Constitutionally relevant sense, only in a rhetorical sense.

Bookslinger said...

anon: except you seem to forget that this is Jeff's sand-box, not your's.

Mormanity said...

Sorry for being away for some of this.

I'd like to come back to one of Dan's comments, if he's still around. Dan write: "The Constitution gives Congress the ability to tax. And guess what, Congress can tax you at 95% if they so wished it. That power is given to them in the Constitution. And guess what, the Constitution gives them the right to spend it as they please. You've got nothing here, Jeff."

I think this misses what I see as one of the main points of the Constitution and of the intent of the founders in giving us this nation. The point is that we are a republic, not a democracy. In a democracy, 51% can vote to take anything from the remaining 49%. It's mob rule, essentially, and the Founders expressly and vocally opposed that. They wanted a republic with the rule of law to LIMIT mob tendencies and the natural corruption of man so that inalienable rights remained protected.

The government was only given powers that the people already had and could delegate to government. That power did not include the ability to vote myself a bigger income at the expense of my neighbors, or to give a failed corporation a bailout as a political favor. The necessary evils of taxing and spending were greatly limited and afforded, and the scope of Congressional action was limited to the powers expressly given it. The idea that elected officials could decide to confiscate 95% of a person's property and spend it however they wanted is anathema to Constitutional principles, though such power has admittedly been usurped over the past few decades. The ability of Congress to make make sweeping confiscation of property, to bailout large companies as political favors, and to regulate nearly all aspects of life as they now do, often erecting unelected and unaccountable bureaucracies in the process, is a radical departure from the freedoms our Founding Fathers sought to protect for us. Yes, we have lost freedoms when such things are possible, and we think that we just have to accept whatever 51% of Congress decides to do because the sky truly is the limit. Not in a Republic. We need to keep the restraints on government carefully in place.

Anonymous said...

The idea that elected officials could decide to confiscate 95% of a person's property and spend it however they wanted is anathema to Constitutional principles, though such power has admittedly been usurped over the past few decades.

Not so, Jeff. The Constitution gives just that power to Congress. The original Constitution gave Congress the power to raise taxes, and the Sixteenth Amendment extended that power. (That power is subject, of course, to presidential veto and subsequent Congressional override, which means in practice that 51 percent is often not enough. For more on this note, see below.)

You can certainly argue sensibly that Congress is not using its Constitutional powers wisely or fairly. But for the Congress to exercise the taxation powers given to it explicitly by the Constitution is not in any but a poetic sense a "usurpation."

As for things like bailouts, bureaucracies, etc., they might well be "a radical departure from the freedoms our Founding Fathers sought to protect for us." But, as I keep trying to remind you, the Founding Fathers don't rule this country. What they might have thought and what they sought don't count. The Constitution counts.

Also, you really ought to refine your claim that, because we live in a republic rather than a democracy, we don't "just have to accept whatever 51% of Congress decides to do."

Well, we do live in a republic rather than a democracy. You're right on that. But you seem to be thinking as if 51 percent of Congress translates into 51 percent of the population. It doesn't, of course. In the Senate, small-population states like Wyoming and North Dakota have just as many votes as populous states like California and New York. On many issues, legislation cannot get through the Senate without the support of way, way more than 50 percent of the population. That's precisely the kind of republican structure you're claiming no longer exists. But it's still very much a part of our government's structure, and it's still operating as it was designed to--as a conservative brake on the Congress and a republican (small-r) counterweight to majoritarianism. Ditto for the decidedly anti-democratic procedure for amending the Constitution. The will of 37 states can be blocked by just 13 states. I haven't done the math recently, but that probably means that the will of 100 million voters can be blocked by just 10 million. The original republicanism is still right there in our system.

Your beefs about what the Congress does with its power may well be legitimate. But your claim that the Congress has gone beyond those powers just doesn't hold up. But you don't have to take my word for it. Just watch what the Supreme Court ultimately says about the Constitutionality of (say) the Affordable Care Act or the bailouts.

Anonymous said...

A must-read article from Thomas Sowell makes similar points: Is U.S. Now On Slippery Slope To Tyranny?

Dan said...

Jeff,

"The ability of Congress to make make sweeping confiscation of property, to bailout large companies as political favors, and to regulate nearly all aspects of life as they now do, often erecting unelected and unaccountable bureaucracies in the process, is a radical departure from the freedoms our Founding Fathers sought to protect for us."

I agree with anonymous. Sadly for you, this is exactly the power Congress was given in the Constitution. You're projecting upon the Founders beliefs and views they never held, Jeff.

Dan said...

anonymous re: Thomas Sowell,

sadly no, any article that beings by talking about Hitler is one that must be dismissed outright. Do conservatives have nothing better in their argument than raising the specter of Hitler (who by the way was a conservative!).

Mormanity said...

Yes, of course there is still a process for Congress, and of course the partitions of Congress do not represent the population directly. But we do live in a time when Congress and all branches of government have gone beyond their proper powers. For Congress to pass a law requiring us to buy a product such as health insurance, or to take over a company, or to redistribute wealth to companies deemed too big to fail, all represent powers nowhere granted in the Constitution. Just because they get a winning vote does not give them the right to take over vast sections of the private sector.

The power to tax does not mean that all our goods and income can be taken if they vote to do so. It does not mean that wealth can be redistributed freely as our politicians wish. But unless the people stand up against totalitarian trends in government, the inalienable rights the Constitution was meant to protect will be increasingly lost.

Mormanity said...

Are there no lessons then that we can learn from Hitler's usurping of power?

Anonymous said...

The power to tax does not mean that all our goods and income can be taken if they vote to do so.

Setting aside your hyperbole (e.g., taking all our income), the power to tax is the power to tax. The Constitution gives the Congress the power to tax, and mentions no limit to that power whatsoever. What's so hard to understand?

It does not mean that wealth can be redistributed freely as our politicians wish. Oh yes it does, at least within certain broad constraints. And guess what? Any time the government collects taxes and spends the money, that is a "redistribution of wealth." When the government collects money from you and me and uses part of it to pay the salaries of soldiers in Iraq, you and I are poorer and the soldiers are richer. That's a "redistribution of wealth."

The whole "redistribution of wealth" thing is just a silly talking point. It's meaningless.

And yes, there are "lessons that we can learn from Hitler's usurping of power." Foremost among them: beware of political parties who garner support by appealing to the majority's dislike of a minority--especially when the prejudice in question is religious. (E.g., Republican/conservative Christian/Mormon gay-baiting, rather like Hitler's Catholic/Protestant Jew-baiting.) A second lesson: Beware politicians who demonstrate their willingness to imprison and torture people in secret. (E.g., Bush/Cheney and, I regret to say, Obama.)

Dan said...

Jeff,

"Are there no lessons then that we can learn from Hitler's usurping of power?"

Not anymore. Hitler is such a dead horse that all the other dead horses have already beaten this dead horse to a pulp.

Sorry Jeff, you have not shown how freedom has been lost, or is even in jeopardy.

Pops said...

Whew! Just got back from defeating a Tea Party candidate.

So, Dan doesn't think the first 15% of my income is taken from me and given away. Sorry, Dan, you lose. It's called FICA.

Dan said...

"Whew! Just got back from defeating a Tea Party candidate."

that must have been quite the.. fight? Did you fist it out, or use swords? Oh wait, you're conservative. Guns are your weapon of choice... :)

Oh yeah, Social Security is taken from you against your will. You've got no choice dude. All you can do is sit back and watch all those seniors go bowling on your hard earned cash. Tough luck man.

Matthew said...

Wow. Quite a series of posts in this thread. I've really enjoyed it. I ended up pretty much where I began though. Saying that another person (who has a differnet political leaning then you, or different ideas about taxation or government spending) is ignorant of the constitution is rather silly.

As has been made abundantly clear by this discussion the constitution as it was framed by the founding fathers is quite far from perfect.

That the US has some interesting times ahead of it is sure, but I still haven't seen a good reason to suggest that our liberties and freedoms are being ripped away from us in modern times. People have a way of building up the past to some sort of etheral perfection when the reality is that things were just as screwed up during the times of our founding fathers as they are today. In many ways it was a less just and merciful system (unless you were a white male. Then it was AWESOME.)

I don't think that conservatives cling to their views out of racism or ignorance any more then I think that libertarians do. I think that the political ideas should be expressed in terms of what works, not in terms of who can best fit their viewpoint with the POVs of a bunch of the long dead founding fathers. We live in a different world and a different time then they did and thank goodness for that.

Pops said...

Well, actually, I do have a choice: if I could get elected to Congress, that would solve the FICA problem.

catholic defender said...

HI Pops,

If you get elected to Congress, wouldn't that mean that you've sold out to most of the special interest groups on both sides of the aisle to get there, and would therefore be subjected to voting to support thier positions on FICA? That seems to be the trend in Washington. Much of the discussion we've been having here in this posting has been about the constitution. Where things have gone horribly wrong in with our current system, is in that special interest lobby.

Don't get me wrong, we should be contacting our congressmen and women with our concerns so that they know what thier constituents think. However, how can we as ordinary people even begin to compete when lobbying groups throw money at these guys to get them to vote in support of their interests. Say what you want, but I pretty sure it was never the intent of the framers of the constitution to have the three branches of government controlled by lobbying groups. The fact that congress is being manipulated by the special interest lobbying groups is itself a loss of freedom for us. Our voices don't get heard over the sound of cold hard campaign cash.

Sincerely

Catholic Defender

Mormanity said...

Dan, you're still asking what freedoms have been lost? I thought you at least recognized that the invasions on privacy, due process, and unreasonable search and seizures from the Patriot Act and related legislation represents lost freedom for citizens. Don't we at least have some common ground their? Maybe you should watch the 1998 movie Enemy of the State (an edited-down TV version, naturally) to get a reminder on what can happen when a government can spy so freely on its own citizens. Yeah, way too dramatic, but the level of invasion into privacy is no longer hypothetical.

Maybe you missed recent Supreme Court decision, Holder v. Humanitarian Law Project, in which the Obama position was upheld that government can censor free speech when they decide that it somehow helps a group designated as "terrorist" with all sorts of vague wiggle room for that to be anybody the government wants to target. Shock and outrage over lost liberties have been expressed by voices across the political spectrum: e.g., here and here.

I think you should also read Thomas Sowell's piece and not just reject it because he mentions Hitler. He makes a very valid point. As much as we all dislike BP right now, we have a legal, due-process means for assessing penalties and compensating those damaged. It involves the law and the courts. NOWHERE in the Constitution does a President have the authority to shake down a company for $20 billion to be given out under his control. Can you see how that concentrates power and wealth in the hands on one man bypassing the role of the judiciary? It is a blatant violation of the Constitutional process and is a step toward tyranny. Whether you view it as a tax or as a penalty for a tort, it's still not authorized for the Executive branch to do this and amasses the power meant to be limited in order to protect our freedoms. It's a criminal shakedown, brother. A violation of our liberty.

How about the violation of the 10th amendment as Congress usurps power to regulate and control in numerous areas not enumerated among its powers? For example, they have assumed the power to tell us and the states what kind of health insurance we have, even to the point of compelling us to buy a product, and ultimately controlling the nature of healthcare that we can and can't have. No such power is given them. It's left to the States. Do you think that centralized control over health care might limit our freedom of choice regarding the kind of health care we get, or even our choice as to whether or not we buy insurance? Of course it does.

Mormanity said...

Yes, we've made progress as a society and some freedoms have grown, like the elimination of slavery and women's suffrage. But the growth of big government, which consumes nearly half of the GDP in taxes and spends far beyond that to put us in the bondage of crushing debt, limits our freedoms necessarily as it grows in power and size. 80,000 pages of new regulations passed last year - do you have any idea how crazy that is getting? Talk to some people who have to deal with these.

We have government growing like a cancer. You may say we're free as long as we can walk down the street (unless it's in Pittsburgh when the government doesn't want peaceful protesters in the way) and have more than 10 channels of controlled news to choose from, but there are some real threats to liberty taking place that you need to be aware of. Some of the incursions might not affect you now, like the limitations on taking over $10,000 out of the country or the 50% death tax when you want to pass your hard-earned and already heavily-taxed property to your children, or the numerous burdens for someone trying to run a business, and maybe you aren't bothered by the invasions on your privacy that you don't see, but when you step back and look at the pattern of government intrusion in our lives and the loss of power at the state, local, and personal level, there's an erosion taking place that demands attention, IMHO.

Pops said...

CD,

The reason Congress attracts so much lobbying money is that Congress has something to sell - political influence that can have a large impact on the profitability of a corporation. If they had nothing to sell, nobody would waste their money lobbying Congress.

Dan said...

Jeff,

Sorry, you're right. The Patriot Act does indeed encroach on our freedom. On that point you don't have an argument from me.

Sorry man, Thomas Sowell should have thought better than to compare Obama to Hitler. He's in Glenn Beck territory now and there is no chance in hell a moderate like me will take his words seriously. Like I said in my very first comment, Jeff, polemics don't do much to bring us together. I didn't know who Thomas Sowell was before, but now, there's no chance I have any interest in his words.

If I may make a suggestion to you conservatives, please stop living in 1939. It's freaking 2010 for crying out loud! Get over it already. Obama is not Hitler. Hitler was a hardcore conservative. Obama is a moderate centrist. Obama is not Hitler. Get over it.

And Obama getting BP to set aside money is not a freaking shakedown. You think Obama held a gun to Hayward's head and said "you better set aside $20 billion or else?" Are today's conservatives this dumb? Can you not see the wisdom in setting aside $20 billion now? I'm sure BP saw the wisdom of it. I'm sure the two of them got together and said, "look, BP, you're going to face massive lawsuits from multiple corners over this spill, which is your fault. You've got money now. You may not have money later. And that would be a damn shame to the people who are suffering because of your fault." In the news recently, BP is shown they are still capable of raising $50 billion in cash. This is not a shakedown. You guys are just utterly ridiculous.

"How about the violation of the 10th amendment as Congress usurps power to regulate and control in numerous areas not enumerated among its powers? "

Like what, Jeff? The commerce clause gives Congress wide latitude do enact many laws that the 10th amendment does not cover. You don't seem to mention that, probably because it fatally undermines your point that "freedom" is encroached.

"Do you think that centralized control over health care might limit our freedom of choice regarding the kind of health care we get, or even our choice as to whether or not we buy insurance? Of course it does."

No, actually it doesn't. I prefer universal coverage, as I feel that brings far more freedom to our lives than the current system. Once again, the current system works very nicely for the rich at the expense of the poor. That's not the Christian way. Sorry man, you're in the wrong on this one.

As far as your examples of government encroaching, it depends on what the results are. In some respects, additional governmental regulations actually provide more freedom to a wider swath of the public. Like for example government creating a law prohibiting segregation. Sure, some freedoms are now limited. You're no longer allowed to segregate. But now, a wider swath of the public has freedoms they did not have before. Your argument is that any kind of governmental intrusion is by nature restrictive of freedom. That's not a good argument to make, because through governmental intervention, far more freedoms have been given to a far wider population than through no governmental regulation. Sorry man, once again, you're on the short end.

And, yes, I saw Enemy of the State. Decent film. A little paranoid. Not as paranoid as the black helicopters of Conspiracy Theory. But sadly, both are not very realistic. Both, however, do exactly what conservatives want: scare Americans. If you're frightened, then conservatives win. If you are not frightened, then freedom wins.

catholic defender said...

Hi Pops,

I hope that I didn't come across as offensive with my lobbyist comment; I was trying to make a joke. Having run for different offices a couple times, I'm a bit cynical about the election process. In the course of running, I've learned that there is very little that separates the two major political parties. Both parties will do anything to get their people elected and will pander to the voters. At the right times, Dems will become conservative, and Republicans will become liberal. That's the state of American politics.

Dan,

I don't disagree with all that you are saying. I see the validity in your points. However, Jeff is making some very valid points too. From where I sit, we have many more freedoms now, than we did. However, in the course of obtaining those freedoms, we are endangering many more freedoms. Freedom of speech for instance.

That recent decision that Jeff referenced should cause everyone here alarm. Consider what the Court said in its 6 to 3 ruling. If you counsel a terrorist group, even by providing counseling toward a peaceful resolution, that constitutes material support. Think about what that means. No one can try to reach a peaceful resolution with a group identified as a terrorist group. This decision is pretty much destined to perpetuate the violent activities of these groups. And who decides who is a terrorist group...the Federal Government.

Think about what this ruling means to liberal Humanitarian Efforts. Mother Theresa providing food to the wrong group of people, would land her in federal prison; all for doing what her faith tells her is the right thing to do. As broadly worded as this ruling is, the Federal Government could decide that Democrats are a terrorist group, because they are generally liberal and supportive of humanitarian aid to minority peoples. A person could in theory, be deemed a material supporter of terrorism, merely because of the political associations they have. That is absolutely contrary to the First Amendment, yet we now have such a ruling. We should be very scared of the freedom that was just usurped by this ruling.

I agree with you and I don't think Obama should be compared to Hitler; more appropriately Mr. Bush would benefit from that comparison in that it was he that launched a pre-emptive strike into Iraq when they had done nothing to our country. That's very much like Hilter's actions in Poland, Czechoslovakia, and several other small countries in the 30's and 40's. That said, Obama is doing somethings that should cause us to pause though, and call him out on them. I say that knowing that I voted for him, and still support much of what he said our country needed.

As I said before, I think there are valid points raised from all of you weighing in on this topic, but we may now have reached a point where it is better to just agree to disagree, than try to change each others point of view.

Sincerely

Catholic Defender

Dan said...

oh, and by the way, Thomas Sowell, supporter of torture

http://reason.com/blog/2010/06/23/thomas-sowell-on-ends-and-mean

you know, the techniques used by the Nazis. Why the heck would anyone take him seriously?

Mormanity said...

Dan, I agree on torture. Terrible stuff - another incursion of our liberties. Ditto for renditions to other nations without due process, and ditto for holding people in captivity for life without a trial. Did you catch the Obama commission on Guantanamo's recent recommendation to hold 48 prisoners for life, without a trial, even though some of them can't even be charged with a legitimate crime? Doesn't that seem like a very basic loss of freedom when a government can do that?

Might want to check out Jon Stuart's take on Obama's reversals on the human rights abuses he campaigned against. I know, this is 2010, get over it, but that's not the attitude we need to preserve the liberties of 1776, and that's the time we need to understand better to create a better 2010 and beyond.

Sir, much as I know you want to be a good supporter of the current administration and its party, this is a time when I feel it's dangerous to trust the politicians of either party, and a time when Americans need to speak out against the dangerous encroachments of big government. And we cannot ignore the lesson of other nations where big government swept in and destroyed their liberty, even if you feel it is politically incorrect to even talk about certain tyrants of the past. There are lessons to learn and dangers to resist. The trend of government is grow like a cancer unless restrained. It's growing far too rapidly today, and lessened freedoms, like the ability to suffer in prison for life without a trial, are natural results of such unchecked growth.

Mormanity said...

When I mention 1776, I am not calling for a return to the injustices, social problems, or even bad hygiene of the day, but the concepts that our wisest leaders sought to enshrine to give us lasting liberty and the power to resist that natural tendency of government toward tyranny. We need to understand the Declaration of Independence and the liberties that our Founding Fathers sought to secure. We should also look to 1789 and understand the theory of a republican form of government, the theory of the enumerated powers in the Constitution, the theory behind each of the amendments of the Bill of Rights, and the sovereignty of the individual. Yes, original intent is a concept worthy of consideration. Those who swear to uphold the Constitution ought to at least know what it's about, and should not usurp powers not expressly granted. When they step beyond the restraints of the Constitution, they should be cast out of office. When someone says they look to Mao or Marx or Castro for inspiration and that they prefer their forms of government to ours, they have no right holding an elected or appointed office. The citizens must be cautious about who takes power. Failure to be cautious and concerned will lead to eroded liberty in the end. That's a lesson from the minds that brought us 1776, and their concerns are more valid today than ever. How can we tolerate a government that assumes the power to hold people in captivity without a trial, to use torture, or to suppress other basic and once inalienable rights? Both parties are guilty--how foolish of Americans to think that we'll be fine if we just get Republicans in charge again.

Dan said...

Jeff,

You're implying that one cannot stand for freedom and be supportive of Obama. I find that poppycock. Sorry, sir, but you've merely written a polemic and not offering real solutions. There will never be a single person on this planet who could be a good political leader for your standards. You've effectively shut yourself out of the political process, because no one wants to deal with someone who cannot accept anyone.

Personally, I'll take the closest candidate to my political views and give him support when he does right, and criticize him when he doesn't.

Mormanity said...

It's not about the man, Dan, and it's not about the Party. It's about principles. We should applaud when good is done and rejoice when wise steps are taken, but when things are done that jeopardize liberty, we need to push back, no matter how much we like the person.

Say, can you tell me why you think I've shut myself out of the political process? Not being happy with two or more administrations in row does not make one a political troglodyte hiding from society. You'll be happy to know that I always manage to find someone to vote for at every election. Sometimes I've regretted a vote, and sometimes it felt like the lesser of two evils, but many times I'm able to find people on the ballot who do appear to be committed to principles and who are striving to protect the personal liberties of the citizens of this great country.

Anonymous said...

What have you got against Marx, Jeff? Lumping Marx together with Mao and Castro is like lumping Jesus together with Torquemada and Francisco Franco. Or Joseph Smith with Mountain Meadows.

Dan said...

That's good Jeff. I felt that way about Barack Obama. He's disappointed me on several fronts, but on the majority, I felt he's done good at following the Constitution. He is, after all, a Constitutional scholar. I think he knows the document fairly well. Far better than some oily businessman.

This simply brings up the point that there is disagreement about how to follow the Constitution, which does not indicate that your methods are necessarily better than mine, or vice versa. It shows merely that right from the very beginning, there was always disagreement about how to best follow the Constitution. Your argument here is a polemic for your viewpoint, disregarding any other possible viewpoint, Jeff. You do not give credit to, say, liberals, for how they interpret the Constitution, because in your eyes, they DON'T follow the Constitution, but somehow encroach on its liberties. That's a polemic, not a credible argument. You and I may disagree on how to interpret the Constitution, but so did the Founding Fathers who created it in the first place. That's why Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr had the argument they had. That's why the political parties were formed, right from the very beginning. Your position is no closer to the best interpretation of the Constitution than mine. This will be an argument never to be resolved, Jeff, because neither side can take the position of the Constitution over the other and be right. A better argument would be over how your side better follows the Constitution. Not "the other side is ignorant".

Pops said...

Yes, of course. I remember where the Constitution gives the Executive the power to fire CEOs and to shake down corporations. It's Article II Section 5 - you know, the one they left off so it might have a chance of being ratified...

Anonymous said...

If you think that it's Constitutional to take over huge sections of the private economy or shake down companies outside of the law and the courts for $20 billion, then you're really missing what the Constitution is about. There is the possibility that some people truly are unaware of its meaning and intent.

Anonymous said...

If it's unconstitutional for the government to take over parts of the private economy--which can only mean for the government to perform tasks that could otherwise be performed by the private sector--then all of the following are or were unconstitutional:

-- The Interstate Highway System (Unconstitutional! Eisenhower should have been impeached for allowing this un-American socialistic breach of Constitutional principle to occur on his watch!)

-- The Human Genome Project (Unconstitutional! George H.W. Bush should have been impeached for allowing this un-American socialistic breach of Constitutional principle to occur on his watch!)

-- The Apollo moon landing project. (Unconstitutional! Richard Nixon should have been impeached not for Watergate but for allowing this un-American socialistic breach of Constitutional principle to continue on his watch!)

Not to mention public colleges and universities, etc.

Just sayin'.

Dan said...

I told you Jeff, you get a bunch of real lunatics out of their hiding places when you write a polemic like this. Do you really believe the crap found in the last comment?

Jeff Lindsay said...

Dan, he was being sarcastic.

Anonymous said...

Yes, I was being sarcastic. Thanks for noticing, Jeff. You may be WAY too conservative for my taste, but at least you're not irony-impaired!

catholic defender said...

Hi Dan & Jeff,

I've been following your debate for a few days here, and noticed something I thought I'd point out. Its actually something that I think gets lost by the conservatives such as Glen Beck and his ilk. Big Government can be a problem, but so can big business. For many years now there's been this struggle between the two major political parties between big government and big business. Allowing too much control to the private sector is just as dangerous to our freedoms, as allowing too much government control.

Consider the news industry as it relates to freedom of the press. Freedom of the press stands for the proposition that we are able to print virtually anything, with very few restrictions, obscenity for instance has time and place restrictions, but otherwise is unfettered. Allowing too large of a government, places the freedom of the press in jeopardy. We actually just saw that with the recent Supreme Court case that came out. But, think about what big business is doing to the concept of "freedom of the press." If a story is particularly unfavourable to a media mogul, the private big business sector, has the power to kill such a story, regardless of the social value the public has in knowing the story.

Look at our TV news coverage and compare it to coverage from the 60's and 70's. Early TV news coverage was far more objective, and gave many more facts. More and more you are seeing big media conglomerates shape the news. Ever hear the phrase "if it bleeds, it leads?" The generally meaning of that is that only those stories that stir up negative emotional responses will be printed on the front page. That's been the private newspaper business mantra for many, many years.

Take FOX News as another example. There's very little objective news coverage on FOX; its a sounding post for the Republican Party. This is an example of the private sector infringing upon the freedoms of the press. Don't get me wrong, the other news stations are not objective either, its just that FOX is so blantantly skewed and damn proud of it. This isn't coincidence, the big business, private sector knows the power of the press, and isn't afraid to use it as we see every single day.

The point being, that we are seeing this huge effort on the part of the Republicans and the Tea Party to demonize "big government" as being socialistic and unconstitutional. I think we need to be watching our backs, because the whole time those groups are espousing about the dangers of big government, they are lying in bed with the private interests of big business, which doesn't have our best interests in mind either. Neither one of these groups should be trusted, which makes it even more imperative that we as Americans push for our children to become more educated about the constitutions and the freedoms we have here in this country.

Sincerely

Catholic Defender

catholic defender said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
catholic defender said...

Hi Jeff,

Sorry for the multiple posts of the same comment. Something funky happened here when I tried to post.

Catholic Defender

Jeff Lindsay said...

Catholic Defender, you raise a good point about big business. The march toward concentrated power is actually a dance involving big government and big industry, including large financial institutions and other companies. Some people naively assume that corporations would naturally oppose socialism, forgetting that large corporations have often sought monopolistic powers and other favors by cooperating with big government at the expense of the rest of us, including competitors. Their form of "Capitalism" does not necessarily equate with free enterprise. Freedom is what we should strive for, not corporatism or socialism or national socialism, the German variety in which government worked closely with and controlled big industries in the march for power.

In our current economic system, we find large corporations are the ones that can buy and influence Congress at the expense of small business. The regulations they pass can crush competition and give them an advantage. The growth of corporate power occurs in tandem or as a result of the growth of government power. Remove the intrusions of government and its ability to crush business, take them over, fire their CEOs, ignore law and reward cooperative unions, etc., and the rule of Wall Street and connected corporations diminishes and our personal liberty increases.

Jeff Lindsay said...

Regarding redistribution of wealth, yes, you can make the trivial point that all taxation is technically a redistribution, but the real issue here is the Marxist agenda of overthrowing property rights to take from one class and give to another class in the name of social justice but really in the quest for power of those who do the redistributing. When a politician talks about the need for "redistributive justice" or "spreading the wealth around" through taxation, as a certain leader of ours has done, these are code words for an agenda that is contrary to personal liberty and the principles this nation was founded on. The Constitution gives no such powers and such actions are expressly contrary to the intent of the Founders who warned that that would lead to the loss of liberty.

Anonymous said...

The Marxist agenda of overthrowing property rights....

What hyperbole, Jeff. There's a huge gap between America's mildly social-democratic reality (things like welfare, health insurance reform, and the recent bailouts of tottering financial firms) and the right-wing fantasy of a "Marxist agenda of overthrowing property rights." Such an agenda, were it truly worthy of the sobriquet Marxist, would call for the wholesale nationalization, not merely of troubled companies, but of the entire private sector.

There simply is no such agenda. Honestly, Jeff. Do you really believe that Obama or any other prominent liberal politician wants the government to seize the means of production tout court? Can you name a single politician who wants to nationalize Wal-Mart or Tyson Foods or Hewlitt-Packard or ConAgra or whatever?

What you're calling "the real issue here" is a fantasy. Obama is no more a Marxist than Bush was a Nazi. You're raising the specter of Marx every bit as unfairly and inaccurately as some on the left raise the specter of Hitler. It's really, really bad for your credibility, but if you want to keep doing it, feel free. You're only helping my side.

Contrary to the principles this nation was founded on....expressly contrary to the intent of the Founders....

Jeff, can't you see this as mere ancestor-worship? The "principles the nation was founded on" and "the intent of the Founders" don't matter.

What matters is the Constitution we live under today. The Constitution we live under today includes amendments that the Founders might not have approved of at all. (Too bad for the Founders. The Constitution doesn't belong to them! It belongs, as Jefferson said it should, not to the dead but to the living.) And one of those amendments explicitly gives the government the power to tax and does not specify what the government may or may not do with the money. If the government wants to tax incomes and use the money to "spread the wealth around," well, that's perfectly Constitutional. You might not like it, but if so you should blame the states that approved that amendment. They didn't have to approve it. They could have demurred. They could have demanded a more restrictive amendment that would have prevented the sorts of expenditures you dislike.

The people could have done all that. But they didn't.

Welcome to America, Jeff. Long may she thrive!

Anonymous said...

The Marxist agenda of overthrowing property rights....

What hyperbole, Jeff. There's a huge gap between America's mildly social-democratic reality (things like welfare, health insurance reform, and the recent bailouts of tottering financial firms) and the right-wing fantasy of a "Marxist agenda of overthrowing property rights." Such an agenda, were it truly worthy of the sobriquet Marxist, would call for the wholesale nationalization, not merely of troubled companies, but of the entire private sector.

There simply is no such agenda. Honestly, Jeff. Do you really believe that Obama or any other prominent liberal politician wants the government to seize the means of production tout court? Can you name a single politician who wants to nationalize Wal-Mart or Tyson Foods or Hewlitt-Packard or ConAgra or whatever?

What you're calling "the real issue here" is a fantasy. Obama is no more a Marxist than Bush was a Nazi. You're raising the specter of Marx every bit as unfairly and inaccurately as some on the left raise the specter of Hitler. It's really, really bad for your credibility, but if you want to keep doing it, feel free. You're only helping my side.

Contrary to the principles this nation was founded on....expressly contrary to the intent of the Founders....

Jeff, can't you see this as mere ancestor-worship? The "principles the nation was founded on" and "the intent of the Founders" don't matter.

What matters is the Constitution we live under today. The Constitution we live under today includes amendments that the Founders might not have approved of at all. (Too bad for the Founders. The Constitution doesn't belong to them! It belongs, as Jefferson said it should, not to the dead but to the living.) And one of those amendments explicitly gives the government the power to tax and does not specify what the government may or may not do with the money. If the government wants to tax incomes and use the money to "spread the wealth around," well, that's perfectly Constitutional. You might not like it, but if so you should blame the states that approved that amendment. They didn't have to approve it. They could have demurred. They could have demanded a more restrictive amendment that would have prevented the sorts of expenditures you dislike.

The people could have done all that. But they didn't.

Welcome to America, Jeff. Long may she thrive!

Jeff Lindsay said...

You mean you didn't notice what happened to General Motors? How about the incursions under Bush and Obama into the financial sector? Cap and trade? Student loans? And have you heard about Obama Care?

Under National Socialism, there wasn't a 100% takeover of everything - just the power to control and orchestrate anything they wanted under the auspices of the Reich. Under other forms of totalitarian socialism, there are still businesses and companies with some degree of autonomy - some.

The amendment to the Constitution do not come close to authorizing the expansion of the State and the consolidation of power, unchecked power, that we have today. Which amendment allows the courts to be bypassed for a $20 billion shakedown to put money in the hands of one branch, or even one man and his peers? How can you explain that as being compatible with any sane reading of the Constitution?

Lef Fiefdom Ring said...

Jeff, you should have mentioned that the government has also largely taken over the mortgage market, which is much of what created the financial mess we are in. The government-backed mortgages of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac got us on the hook for hundreds of billions of dollars of bad debt, coupled with the government's invasive requirements on bank lending that forced banks to give bad loans out --- all of this amounts to government having largely seized control of the home market and creating inefficiencies and maldistribution of capital and price information that created the bubble. Doing the same with health care, autos, and other markets will not make government any wiser, more trustworthy, or more efficient.

Get government off our backs. The corruption and waste is monumental.

Let Fiefdom Ring said...

The fact that one amendment doesn't state how money may be spent doesn't override the limited powers given to government. The power to tax income does not mean that all the enumerated, limited powers in the Articles themselves are now out the window. That money may only be spent as permitted in the Articles and other amendments.

Man, the stuff they don't teach in school these days.... Sigh.

Anonymous said...

Quoting Harris Kupperman:

What I strongly object to is the government increasingly inserting itself into the economy. You cannot manage an economy based on the applause meter of 24-hour news programs. You cannot manage an economy. Period. It is not debatable. Unfortunately, our government continues to corral the various market forces and lead them towards whatever myopic utopia politicians think will be needed for reelection. This creates economic anarchy. If you could run an economy based on erratic rules and crony capitalism, Argentina would be a world power. If you could print your way to prosperity, Zimbabwe would be a world banking hub. If you could command the economy to heed you, the USSR would still exist. I’m scared that world leaders have taken all the worst lessons of the last generation of economic thought and bundled them together into some sort of economic doomsday machine.

catholic defender said...

Hi All,

I'm going to try to come at this from a different take, because I think some of you are missing the point of Jeff's concerns. Jeff correct me if I am wrong, but it seems to me your concern is that the government is attempting to take on too much power. That seems to be the concern of many of the conservatives. Liberals tend to think the government should take on a more direct role, hence the debate here as well as in the real world. Consider this proposition...the Constitution of the United States has no real power, unless we give it that power.

Think about that a moment. What makes the US Constitution so powerful, is not the words contained in it, but the willingness of all of us to be bound by those words. What the Constitution does, is gives all of us a set of rules to play by; it sets up limitations. Our willingness to honour those limitations and hold our government to those limitations, is what gives the Constitution its true power.

The reason this country has survived for so long, with the freedoms that we have intact, is that each of the branches of government have had limitations imposed upon their power by the Constitution. The willingness to be bound by those limits is what has made each branch of government work for so long. You should not see judges writing law, when their authority is to interpret the law. We should not be seeing legislators interpreting the law, when their authority is to write the law. The executive branch should not be circumventing the other two branches to take on power not granted to him under the constitution. Why this system works, is because each branch recognizes the limits placed upon thier power by the Constitution.

What happens when each branch stops recognizing those limits, is the whole system breaks down. What we are seeing, and its the root of Jeff's concern, is that each branch of government, is becoming less willing to recognize the limits placed on its power by the constitution. Each branch is usurping little bits of power not originally granted to it. When they eventually succeed, which they will if we don't hold them in check...the system will break down. Therein lies the danger of school systems failing our children.

Sincerely

Catholic Defender

Anonymous said...

Let Fiefdom Ring writes, "The power to tax income does not mean that all the enumerated, limited powers in the Articles themselves are now out the window. That money may only be spent as permitted in the Articles and other amendments."

I agree! But let's actually read the Constitution to see what is "permitted." Here are a few excerpts from Article I, Section 8 (Powers of Congress):

The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes…and provide for the…general Welfare of the United States…. To borrow money on the credit of the United States…. To regulate Commerce…among the several States…. And to make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution the foregoing Powers….

Well, golly gee. The Constitution permits tax money to be spent to "provide for the general Welfare of the United States" and to "regulate Commerce among the several States." Like it or not, that's awfully expansive wording, certainly inclusive enough to shoot down any attempt to contest, say, health insurance reform in the courts.

You guys seem to think that the Constitution is on your side, but it just ain't. Let me repeat for emphasis: the Constitution says Congress has power to make all laws necessary to provide for the general welfare. Sure doesn't sound much like "limited government" to me.

Please note that I'm not saying limited government is a bad idea. I'm just saying that if you want limited government, you'll never get anywhere by arguing that the Constitution itself requires it. Instead, you'll have to convince Congress to voluntarily do less than the Constitution authorizes it to do. You'll just have to do the hard work of democratic electoral politics instead of claiming that the Constitution gives you some sort of Get Out of Big Government Free card.

(I'm speaking here only about matters of taxing and spending, not about things like torture and the denial of habeus corpus, which I think are blatantly illegal and/or unconstitutional, and which I lay at the feet of Obama as much as Bush.)

Anonymous said...

The General Welfare clause was not mean to override the limitations imposed on Congress in the rest of the Constitution. Congress has enumerated powers, and if they are not enumerated and not assigned to a difference branch of the fed. govt., they reside with the states or the people.

The powers enumerated for Congress are limited to the power to (summary borrowed from Kevin Craig):

• Levy taxes.
• Borrow money on the credit of the United States.
• Spend.
• Pay the federal debts.
• Conduct tribunals inferior to the Supreme Court.
• Declare war.
• Raise armies, a navy, and provide for the common defense.
• Introduce constitutional amendments and choose the mode of ratification.
• Call a convention on the application of two-thirds of the states.
• Regulate interstate and foreign commerce.
• Coin money.
• Regulate (standardize) the value of currency.
• Regulate patents and copyrights.
• Establish federal courts lower than the Supreme Court.
• Limit the appellate jurisdiction of the federal courts, including the Supreme Court.
• Standardize weights and measures.
• Establish uniform times for elections.
• Control the postal system.
• Establish laws governing citizenship.
• Make its own rules and discipline its own members.
• Provide for the punishment of counterfeiting, piracy, treason, and other federal crimes.
• Exercise exclusive jurisdiction over the District of Columbia.
• Establish bankruptcy laws.
• Override presidential vetoes.
• Oversee all federal property and possessions.
• Fill a vacancy in the Presidency in cases of death or inability.
• Receive electoral votes for the Presidency.
• Keep and publish a journal of its proceedings.
• Conduct a census every ten years
• Approve treaties, Cabinet-level appointments, and appointments to the Supreme Court (Senate only).
• Impeach (House only) and try (Senate only) federal officers.
• Initiate all bills for raising revenue (House only).

As Kevin points out, the federal government was not given power over education, healthcare, charity, employment practices, or alcohol, tobacco and firearms.

Jeff Lindsay said...

What do you think of the concept of original intent? Do you think it matters what the Founders intended when they wrote the welfare clause and other language? Did they intend a Congress able to tax, spend, regulate, and intervene in all affairs our life, all without constraint, as long as they could pass it off as for the general welfare?

Anonymous said...

What do I think of the concept of original intent? Not much.

First we can ask, whose original intent? The people who wrote the Constitution, or those who approved it? Jeff, why does your side downplay what the various state actors thought the Constitution meant when they approved it? The Framers merely wrote the thing; the agents who gave it force, the people who actually turned it into the American Constitution, were the various state actors who ratified it. They are the more important figures here! And as anyone who's ever been involved in contract negotiations will remember, different parties can read the same text and think it means different things.

I don't know for sure, but sometimes I suspect that you fetishize the Framers and downplay the Ratifiers because you see all goodness as flowing from the Mighty Wisdom of the God-like prophets who bestride the earth (a religious sensibility that just happens to buttress ecclesiastical authority, which might have something to do with why you were taught such ideas in the first place).

Also, if we want to take the notion of "original intent" seriously we cannot limit ourselves to the intent of the Framers of 1787; we must also consider the intent of the Framers who came later, in 1865 etc. They were "framers," too. The Founders of 1787 are not the only people whose intent matters.

So. Do I think the Framers intended "a Congress able to tax, spend, regulate, and intervene in all affairs of our life, all without constraint, as long as they could pass it off as for the general welfare?"

Of course not. The Constitution of 1787 explicitly imposes plenty of constraints. The Bill of Rights adds many more. The post-Civil-War amendments add even more (e.g., equal protection of the laws). So you have posed what is rather obviously a straw-man here.

But if we set aside the Constitution's explicit constraints on government power, we can ask your question again, like this:

Do I think the Framers intended "a Congress able to tax, spend, regulate, and intervene in all affairs of our life, within the Constitution's various constraints but otherwise without constraint, as long as they could pass it off as for the general welfare?"

Yes!

I find this whole "limited government" schtick rather silly anyway. With the exception of a few genuinely principled libertarians, everyone wants a government capable of intervening "in all affairs of our life." (The LDS Church is certainly not libertarian, else it would object to government interference in people's sex lives and marriage choices. The Church wants a government empowered to intervene in this aspect of our lives but not in that aspect, with "this" and "that" determined not by Constitutional principle but by its own religious doctrine.)

Dan said...

there is no such thing as an actual libertarian. Those individuals only exist in the abstract. When faced with reality, they always run back home to their conservative mama and have no problem using the government to attain their goals.

Anonymous said...

Jeff: " Do you think it matters what the Founders intended when they wrote the welfare clause and other language? Did they intend a Congress able to tax, spend, regulate, and intervene in all affairs our life, all without constraint, as long as they could pass it off as for the general welfare?"

Seriously?? That's the straw man you are building today? You speak of the uneducated but that question/statement sounds Very Uneducated. You sound more and more like that VERY uneducated Glenn Beck every day.

Anonymous said...

"Do you think that centralized control over health care might limit our freedom of choice regarding the kind of health care we get, or even our choice as to whether or not we buy insurance? Of course it does."

Jeff, doesn't your son live in Taiwan? Don't they have A single payer system there? I imagine he buys into that system for his health care. That is a good example of a govt run single payer system that works. And as far as I know, you chose any doctor you want. You ever actaully ask him about it? Seems like it is exactly the kind of system you are arguing against. I also think it is a good example of a system that covers EveryOne.
BTW, Obama Care?? Come on Jeff, That you call it that says more about you than your whole post.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous above, Jeff has a pretty narrow vision of "freedom." Sometimes a limitation on freedom in one area of your life produces more freedom in some other area. When I buy home insurance, the insurance company demands that I get adequate smoke detectors, knock down the brush growing alongside the house, etc. To a certain extent, I'm no longer free to do certain things the way I might want to do them. On the other hand, with that insurance, I'm free to plan my financial future without the burden of possibly being wiped out by a fire.

This in miniscule gets to the paradox of why, even as government regulation increases, we are nonetheless more free than we have ever been. Jeff just doesn't understand freedom holistically enough. His notion of freedom is basically that of the state of nature, in which everyone is free to live a terrible life that is nasty, brutish, and short.

mkprr said...

Anonymous
You make a good point about freedom and I am not sure where to draw the line between what restrictions the government should be allowed to make in order to bring more comfort and peace for its citizens. Your illustration of the requirements an insurance company imposes is however is very different from when the government imposes something. You purchased your insurance by choice, it wasn’t forced upon you by law. The freedom Jeff talks about could lead to misery and chaos, or it could lead to prosperity and a better way of life. It all depends on what each individual decides to do with their freedom.
I guess the real question is, how much can we trust individuals. Do we need to enforce everything by law or will people play fair and behave wisely in a society with less laws. To me it seems like there has to be a balance somewhere. I personally like the idea of having a small national government that lets the states have as much power as their local citizens want them to have. It just doesn’t seem to make sense to have huge national one size fits every region programs and forcing every state to participate. I don’t want to fly to DC to petition the government, the Oregon State capitol is just 30 minutes from where I live and the state reps and senators are fairly easy to make contact with. It just makes sense to me to keep decision making as local as possible.

Jeff Lindsay said...

Some Anon said, "Obama Care?? Come on Jeff, That you call it that says more about you than your whole post."

Really? Haven't you noticed that this time is widely used in media media outlets, and that even some supporters of Obamacare have called it that without shame? Yes, it was coined by opponents of that socialistic legislation, but the name has stuck. When Matt Taibi of the left-wing Rolling Stone wrote about the need for it, he used the term "Obamacare." Do you think he's a closet racist? When Sean at Discover Magazine's blog told us the "good news" of the health care bill, his post was simply titled "Obamacare." When Roger Ebert wrote for the Guardian about his joy in seeing the bill pass in the US, he had no difficulty in using the term "Obamacare" and suggested that it will be known by this term. Those who use the term while expressing opposition are not lunatic UFO chasers living in caves, but writers with at least enough credibility to be published by the likes of Time (see "The Fatal Flaw of Obamacare" at Time.com. Ditto for Forbes, Wall Street Journal, and many others. It's a mainstream term.

Yes, most of those who use it are opposed to it - but you need to understand that's partly because most people who discuss it are opposed to it. Most Americans don't want government telling them what kind of health care they can have. Most Americans don't think that bureaucrats can manage health care any better than they've managed all the other messes they have made worse.

So why is it that you think you know something insidious about me because I would use that mainstream term? Are you so blind that you take any hint of criticism against your party to mean that the opponents are inherently evil, racist, bigoted, whatever?

Jeff Lindsay said...

Some Anon also asked about Taiwan: "Jeff, doesn't your son live in Taiwan? Don't they have A single payer system there? I imagine he buys into that system for his health care. That is a good example of a govt run single payer system that works. And as far as I know, you chose any doctor you want. You ever actaully ask him about it? Seems like it is exactly the kind of system you are arguing against. I also think it is a good example of a system that covers EveryOne."

They have a adopted a single payer system based partly on the US Medicare system. This program just got started in 2008. But does that mean they actually have socialized medicine, or a system like the one of limited choice and massive bureaucracy that Americans face?

I'll let Prof. William Hsiao of the Harvard School of Public Health answer this question (as he did for PBS):

Q. Would you say that Taiwan has socialized medicine?

A. No, sir. Taiwan does not have socialized medicine in any sense of the word. First of all, the doctors are private practices. Most of hospitals are privately owned. They compete with each other. People have a choice of their doctors, hospitals. They have more choice than Americans. In no sense is it a socialized system.


I'm not sure how well it is working - it might be too early to really know. They have a much different culture and social system than we do - maybe it can succeed. But it took us decades of Medicare and government intervention to reach the messed up state we have now. Let's see how they fare.

catholic defender said...

HI Jeff,

Seeing as how the debate has shifted to healthcare, I thought I'd weigh in. I empathize with the concerns that the conservatives have regarding what has been coined "Obamacare." There are some aspects of the new healthcare legislation that are concerning. For one, I don't think any law that's over 2400 pages long can be anything but too complex. Secondly, I am concerned about people being penalized for not buying healthcare...that aspect of the law concerns me because even with the new law, we didn't address the problem of health insurance being too expensive for most people to purchase.

That said, I also agreed with Mr. Obama in that we had to do something because the system is very broken. We reached a point with healthcare that we needed to make some drastic change, and the conservatives were not getting that done. It goes back to my concern that the right wing groups are very much in bed with big business, who only has the bottomline in mind and no one else. Had we continued to rely on the conservatives to change healthcare, all we would've done is continue with the status quo, which is the rich get the best medical care, the poor get medicaid, and the rest of us get screwed unless we are fortunate enough to get heath insurance from our employers, which is becoming a declining luxury. So something had to be done.

I'm not convinced Obamacare is the best plan; I'm not willing to keep things as they were either. I'd like to give the new healthcare a chance to work, but be ready and have legislators willing to work out the kinks in it when they arise.

In my opinion, a better way to have addressed all the issues would have been to mandate insurance providers to cover everyone regardless of pre-existing conditions, mandate that you could not drop coverage because someone got sick, open up the state borders so people could buy thier insurance from whatever state they chose and have real competition, and open up the federal employee benefit program to every US citizen as a single payer option if people or corporations and municipalities wanted to choose that route. I could've accomplished it all with less than 100 pages. But, I didn't get to make that call.

All this does go back to your original point though, that its important for us all to keep informed about what's going on in DC. Keep up the work

Sincerely

Catholic Defender

Anonymous said...

From Wiki:
The current health care system in Taiwan, known as National Health Insurance (NHI), was instituted in 1995. NHI is a single-payer compulsory social insurance plan which centralizes the disbursement of health care dollars. The system promises equal access to health care for all citizens, and the population coverage had reached 99% by the end of 2004.[53] NHI is mainly financed through premiums, which are based on the payroll tax, and is supplemented with out-of-pocket payments and direct government funding. In the initial stage, fee-for-service predominated for both public and private providers."

That system was started in 1995. 5 years ago. The Japanese have a similar system. Both were not modeled after the US system. That sounds exactly like what was initially proposed in the US until the uneducated started screaming " SOCIALIZED MEDICINE"
Socialized Medicine?? Come on Jeff, Who said it was socialized Medicine? I think you better look up the term Socialized Medicine. From Wiki again:
Socialized medicine is a pejorative term used primarily in the United States to refer to certain kinds of publicly-funded health care. The term is used most frequently, and often pejoratively, in the U.S. political debate concerning health care."

Me thinks you are not to honest if you meld your sentences with such loaded terms.
btw, what are you talking about with this "Are you so blind that you take any hint of criticism against your party to mean that the opponents are inherently evil, racist, bigoted, whatever?"
I'm a republican, and not once did I mentioned party. I mentioned the health care in Taiwan, and not once said anything about what you accuse me of. A little misdirection there Jeff?? Blind?? You are the one with the less than civil tone, and you don't even have your facts straight. Whatever.

Anonymous said...

In country after country, single-payer works. It can work here, too. But it would hurt the health-insurance business, and the health-insurance lobby has run a very effective propaganda campaign in order to protect its own interest.

Jeff Lindsay said...

Sorry about the misdirected tone. And if I mistook a Republican Anonymous for a Democratic anonymous, I'm also sorry. I try to guess which comments are common to the same Anon and sometimes confuse the poorly considered jabs of one with the brilliant incisiveness of another. May I suggest identifying yourself in some way? That in no way excuses me for inappropriate responses, and if I misjudged your intent, I'm sorry.

The "blind" statement was about the seemingly snooty (IMO) criticism for using the common term ObamaCare, which as I documented, can be used by both supporters and critics.

Anonymous said...

Dear Republican Anonymous, I'm just curious what you meant then when you bristled about the term ObamaCare. You said, "That you call it that says more about you than your whole post." So what does it say exactly?

Anonymous said...

What do you mean by "works" for single payer systems? Does it lead to more innovation and progress in the medical arts? Does it siphon off huge amounts of the economy to pay for it? Does it improve the overall quality of health care? What would be a symptom of it not working?

Germany took over large parts of the economy under National Socialism. It "worked" in many ways. But not in terms of liberty.