A nation of laws, not of men

posted at 6:22 pm on July 30, 2009 by Doctor Zero

The American ideal is that we are “a nation of laws, not of men,” as John Adams put it. The unpleasant reality is that the ruling class of any society – including ours – obeys only the laws it chooses to obey. Understanding this reality is essential to making progress toward the ideal.

The population of a country can persuade its ruling class to “choose to obey” its laws through various means, and not even the absolute monarchs of ancient times could casually disregard all of them. Even the more deranged emperors and “sun kings” had to take some steps to avoid antagonizing their entire aristocracy, and the aristocracy had some limits to the abuse it could impose on its citizens. Our modern democracy expects much greater respect for the law, and the rights of its citizens – but our ruling class continues to routinely disregard laws it finds inconvenient, and we have very limited means to compel their obedience.

Of course, there is always the punishment we can administer at the ballot box, but this is precisely what I mean by “limited means.” The rate of re-election for the House of Representatives hovers around 95%, and rarely drops below 90% . Senators enjoy high re-election rates as well, with the worst years of the modern era barely dipping below 80%. The most fabulously corrupt members of Congress have been there for decades. Jack Murtha has been doing his Jabba the Hutt routine in the House since 1974. William “Cold Cash” Jefferson served nine terms, and managed to get re-elected after the FBI raided his offices in 2006. The authors of the subprime disaster, Barney Frank and Chris Dodd, have been in office since the early 1980s, and both survived the financial meltdown of 2008, although Dodd’s future isn’t looking terribly rosy at the moment.

Electoral punishment isn’t much of a deterrent to lawlessness, because there are so many factors contributing to elections. Long-term congressional incumbents have little reason to fear that their power base will suddenly decide unethical behavior outweighs the huge amount of federal pork they bring home to their districts. You have probably heard the supporters of at least one corrupt politician defend them in precisely these terms. During the Clinton impeachment saga, we were repeatedly told that it would be primitive and narrow-minded of us to deprive the nation of Bill Clinton’s magnificent leadership because of a squalid little perjury, committed in the course of covering up a silly little sexual indiscretion.

Personal corruption is not the worst aspect of elite disregard for the law. The growth of the modern super-state has been assisted by the State’s increasing appetite for circumventing or disregarding legal restrictions on its power, most obviously the Constitution. Things have degenerated to the point where no one even bothers asking how President Obama’s trillion-dollar “stimulus” plans, nationalized health insurance, or industrial takeovers can be justified under the Constitution – which is not just a dead letter, but a ghostly outline in the dust where a dead letter used to be. When Texas governor Rick Perry spoke of invoking the Tenth Amendment to resist Obama’s federal power grabs, he was dismissed by the media as a hopeless eccentric, as is the Tea Party protest movement. The media very much sees itself as part of the ruling class, and they regard the notion of restraining government “progress” with antiquated laws, written by dead white males in powdered wigs, as ridiculous. Even when the State does find itself on uncomfortable legal terrain, it can always find a more agreeable climate in the penumbras and emanations of the Constitution. The Left has been describing the Constitution as a “living document” for many years, and all living things can be taught to perform tricks.

The entire process of crafting legislation reeks of lawlessness these days. How else to describe the spectacle of congressional representatives voting on legislation that isn’t fully written out yet, when they’ve scarcely bothered to read what little has been committed to paper? How else to describe an elite that designs vast, intrusive programs they have no intention of applying to themselves? The power of the modern government is limited only by the amount of popular support it can generate – or, more accurately, by how much it can control anger and resistance from its opponents. Public opinion polls now carry far more weight than Constitutional law, and with the support of the media, 60% approval is a license to do virtually anything.

A government that is not restrained by clear and unbreakable laws is both immoral and inefficient. How much time and money has been wasted debating, and defeating, Obama’s ridiculous health care proposal? If our republic paid proper respect to the wording and intent of its Constitution, this entire farce would have never gotten past the discussion stages, and we could be much closer to enacting truly meaningful and effective reforms that show proper respect to the freedom of our citizens and marketplace.

At some point, perhaps beginning in 2010, conservatives will have their chance to begin undoing the damage of the lawless socialism that has been engulfing the country for decades, and which has reached the point of absurdity under the current Administration. When that moment arrives, we should be realistic about the relationship between law and government. We often indulge in an idealistic belief that we can correct our government’s flaws by simply insisting on obedience to the Constitution. While this is a fine principle, it requires firm and specific laws to implement it. These laws should target the basic mechanisms that lead to government excess, nipping socialism in the bud by depriving it of the building blocks it requires. We will never have Robocop stalking the halls of Congress with the Bill of Rights flashing across his visor, switching into arrest mode at the first sign of Constitutional violations. If we accept that we will always have limited means to punish elected officials for abuse, then we can see that our efforts should be directed toward preventing them from committing the abuses in the first place.

It’s interesting to note that virtually the only restraint on government power to survive the last few decades intact is the two-term limit on the presidency, imposed through the 22nd Amendment in 1951. It is a simple law that has no penumbras or emanations, and the public would be outraged by any attempt to disregard it. Of course, like any law, it could be changed – and there are people who wish to repeal the 22nd Amendment – but changing a law is vastly more difficult than ignoring it, particularly when dealing with amendments to the Constitution. Equally strong term limits for Congress would go a long way toward draining the Washington cesspool, making individual politicians less attractive targets for graft, and preventing them from accumulating decades of power to insulate themselves from the consequences of their actions. In a similar vein, dramatic tax reform is the only reliable means of preventing Washington from believing it can appropriate unlimited funds to indulge its grand designs.

These reforms will not be easy to implement. They will require support from bold and principled leaders, who can make the public understand that government can only be controlled by limiting the tools it has to work with. If we continue to place our faith in elaborate laws and electoral consequences to manage what politicians do with those tools, we’ll keep ending up where we are now… for we will always be governed by a ruling class of lawyers who are very good at getting re-elected.

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Sorry, Doctor Zero doesn’t do it for me.

Ed and Allah are more crisp and salient.

guntotinglibertarian on July 30, 2009 at 6:25 PM

Thoughtful stuff.

But… Lawyers that actually obeyed the law? Now you’re talking crazy. I think 2010 will be a window of opportunity for the Recovery party. God willing we’ll step up this time.

Mojave Mark on July 30, 2009 at 6:29 PM

Wanna order a Government Hut pizza?

TMK on July 30, 2009 at 6:31 PM

These reforms will not be easy to implement. They will require support from bold and principled leaders

Those leaders will get crushed by the Politburo, plain and simple, because there are more criminals than honest politicians in power.

They would have an easier time of it if they were backed-up by a few million citizens jamming every square inch of the halls of Congress, the streets outside, and the D.C. mall. Armed citizens would be even better; it’s time to remind these worthless clowns how the nation was founded.

Bishop on July 30, 2009 at 6:32 PM

Amen

MyImamToldMeToDoIt on July 30, 2009 at 6:35 PM

When Texas governor Rick Perry spoke of invoking the Tenth Amendment to resist Obama’s federal power grabs, he was dismissed by the media as a hopeless eccentric, as is the Tea Party protest movement.

Just like South Carolina was laughed at over their protest of the Tariff of 1828. Laughed at until congress figured they’d better give Andy Jackson authority to send in troops when South Carolina gave Uncle Sugar the finger. History has a funny way of repeating itself.

Limerick on July 30, 2009 at 6:35 PM

Term limits for Congress and the Senate might have a bad side as well though. Knowing they are the Legislative equivalent of lame duck might free them to push all sorts of questionable agenda without worry?

jeanie on July 30, 2009 at 6:37 PM

Actually, this is one of your best essays ever, Doctor Zero. It’s a concise summary of where we are.

The entire process of crafting legislation reeks of lawlessness these days.

Yes, and that includes politicians on both sides of the aisle.

It’s interesting to note that virtually the only restraint on government power to survive the last few decades intact is the two-term limit on the presidency

Don’t worry, the termites are chewing under that foundation as well.

RushBaby on July 30, 2009 at 6:40 PM

Term limits for Congress and the Senate might have a bad side as well though. Knowing they are the Legislative equivalent of lame duck might free them to push all sorts of questionable agenda without worry?
jeanie on July 30, 2009 at 6:37 PM

Good point, there would need to be some sort of accountability plan to keep them in check; I’m thinking a severe beating for every dollar of pork they add to a bill.

Bishop on July 30, 2009 at 6:40 PM

Knowing they are the Legislative equivalent of lame duck might free them to push all sorts of questionable agenda without worry?

jeanie on July 30, 2009 at 6:37 PM

And that would be different than the present because???

PappaMac on July 30, 2009 at 6:42 PM

Sorry, Doctor Zero doesn’t do it for me. Ed and Allah are more crisp and salient. guntotinglibertarian on July 30, 2009 at 6:25 PM

Disagree. Thought-provoking & challenging.

KS Rex on July 30, 2009 at 6:43 PM

Those leaders will get crushed by the Politburo, plain and simple, because there are more criminals than honest politicians in power.

They would have an easier time of it if they were backed-up by a few million citizens jamming every square inch of the halls of Congress, the streets outside, and the D.C. mall. Armed citizens would be even better; it’s time to remind these worthless clowns how the nation was founded.

Bishop on July 30, 2009 at 6:32 PM

It’s getting to that point, isn’t it?

Even if a pol ran on reform, and has the record to support it, he or she would be chewed up and spit out by the elites in DC and Big Media. It’s going to take a lot more than a handful of reformers to do all the heavy lifting.

atheling on July 30, 2009 at 6:47 PM

Disagree. Thought-provoking & challenging.

KS Rex on July 30, 2009 at 6:43 PM

Indeed. Much more substance.

atheling on July 30, 2009 at 6:47 PM

The only thing that would persuade these lawless bastards to stop abusing their power and pissing all over the Constitution would be the real threat of jail. God knows how many of today’s politicians should, by rights, be locked in cells.

Sharke on July 30, 2009 at 6:48 PM

God knows how many of today’s politicians should, by rights, be locked in cells.

Sharke on July 30, 2009 at 6:48 PM

Um…all of them?

guntotinglibertarian on July 30, 2009 at 6:50 PM

12 years is a good number:
2 terms for Senators and 6 for Representatives.
Any more time than that and you’re a lifer.

silverfox on July 30, 2009 at 6:51 PM

Great post. What you said.

JiangxiDad on July 30, 2009 at 6:52 PM

The only thing that would persuade these lawless bastards to stop abusing their power and pissing all over the Constitution would be the real threat of jail. God knows how many of today’s politicians should, by rights, be locked in cells.

Sharke on July 30, 2009 at 6:48 PM

Heheh, reminds me of the Chesterton quote:

“It is a terrible thing to contemplate how few politicians are hanged”

atheling on July 30, 2009 at 6:53 PM

Spot on Doc

farright on July 30, 2009 at 6:53 PM

Sorry, Doctor Zero doesn’t do it for me.

Ed and Allah are more crisp and salient.

guntotinglibertarian on July 30, 2009 at 6:25 PM

“Doesn’t do it for me” ?? He’s not writing beer commercials, man.

Try actually countering at least one apect of his arguments.

Some of his essays are brilliant; this is not his best work but it’s still about as good as it gets on the internet….and it’s “salient”

Janos Hunyadi on July 30, 2009 at 6:54 PM

power and pissing all over the Constitution would/ Sharke on July 30, 2009 at 6:48
The pols can still get away with a lot because, as said above, we have few means to stop them. The times might be changing though since while they can still wreck havoc, it no longer goes un-noticed. It’s instantly out there for the people to look at and think about and make a judgment about.. These ‘law makers’ have not really begun to see how transparent their world has become despite themselves. I wonder if it will bring change eventually. Few, if any, places to hide any more.

jeanie on July 30, 2009 at 7:00 PM

I spent 6 years in Massachusetts and never met one person that would admit to voting for ted “the killer” kennedy. He should have been voted out of office 40 years ago.

farright on July 30, 2009 at 7:01 PM

Try actually countering at least one apect of his arguments.

Some of his essays are brilliant; this is not his best work but it’s still about as good as it gets on the internet….and it’s “salient”

Janos Hunyadi on July 30, 2009 at 6:54 PM

I think it’s too long for him to read. Notice that this post won’t get as many comments as the shorter ones do? That’s because it’s too long for some people to comprehend and appreciate. Our nation has collective ADD when it comes to serious reading.

atheling on July 30, 2009 at 7:04 PM

The role of the top five percent or so is crucial in any society. What made England and then America different from the rest of the world was the relative moderation and reasonableness of its ‘gentry’: The ruling elite was more willing than in most countries to reward ‘real world’ talent in its own ranks and to accepted men of proven ability into its ranks.

What has been called “The Treason of the Clerks” began a while ago, throughout the West: The ruling elites increasingly turned against their own societies, and took on a perverse pseudo-adversary stance. Some of the resulting problems are noted by Doc Z

This is how I tried to define the ruling classes of England and early New England, a long time ago:

The long-established virtue of the English Gentry—also practiced in New England by ‘transplanted’ ladies and gentlemen–which has been crucial to its success is its overt willingness and ability to accept, recognize, and take into the ruling class “anyone making money or attaining any form of social consequence.” As small but significant numbers of successful and reputable businessmen and entrepreneurs claimed a place as gentlemen, many ambitious members of the English and American Gentry became merchant bankers and owners of import-export firms.

This ‘cross-pollination’ over several centuries has created a mobile and porous elite based on merit, achievement, and ambition as well as ‘ancient lineage’. Thus a continually renewed and dynamic elite was relatively well-equipped to accept and accommodate the often-difficult but inevitable process of social, economic, and political change during the early modern era in England and New England.

Janos Hunyadi on July 30, 2009 at 7:09 PM

bishop: we just need to keep hammering at Congress & going to townhalls & working to elect better representatives. short of that, it will come to what you suggest as the end/last resort.

kelley in virginia on July 30, 2009 at 7:10 PM

One of your best posts yet Doc. Keep it up!

ArkCon on July 30, 2009 at 7:22 PM

A very good post, Doctor Zero.

Dusty on July 30, 2009 at 7:24 PM

Janos Hunyadi on July 30, 2009 at 7:09 PM

It seems that the class you refer to is no longer mobile or porous.

atheling on July 30, 2009 at 7:34 PM

atheling on July 30, 2009 at 7:34 PM

yep. Anyone interested in what Doc is writing about here should read, “The Treason of the Clerks” to get an idea of how
the mentality of the ruling class has changed-radically.

It’s possible that until the last half of the 20th Century the ‘gentry’ was only pretending to support the values of the middle and working classes, but that’s another topic and essentially a historical question. What we’ve got now is, as Monte Python says, “something completely different”

Janos Hunyadi on July 30, 2009 at 7:43 PM

Armed citizens would be even better; it’s time to remind these worthless clowns how the nation was founded.

Bishop on July 30, 2009 at 6:32 PM

Hate to even tink it but it would take armed citizens ready to do more than just be armed. An example would have to be made to get their attention.

Overall this is a great but frustrating article. I don’t believe we could get these politicians to term limit themselves.

buddylats on July 30, 2009 at 7:45 PM

You wrote the truth, Doctor Zero, therefore, you shall be ignored by those who should take note.

OldEnglish on July 30, 2009 at 7:46 PM

2010, if things continue in the way it has been going for the past 6 months, probably will be a resounding victory for the Republicans.

Unfortunately, the Republican Party acted like drunken sailors (no offense, Navy) when last in power. Our choices seem to be really, really big, ginormous Orwellian government or really big “compassionate” government.

Don’t know about the rest of you guys, but I’m getting kinda tired of chosing the lesser of two weevils.

Special K on July 30, 2009 at 7:49 PM

It’s possible that until the last half of the 20th Century the ‘gentry’ was only pretending to support the values of the middle and working classes, but that’s another topic and essentially a historical question. What we’ve got now is, as Monte Python says, “something completely different”

Janos Hunyadi on July 30, 2009 at 7:43 PM

I know you were focused on the British and American model, but the French Revolution touches on that issue, doesn’t it?

atheling on July 30, 2009 at 7:49 PM

During the Clinton impeachment saga, we were repeatedly told that it would be primitive and narrow-minded of us to deprive the nation of Bill Clinton’s magnificent leadership because of a squalid little perjury…

In retrospect, the Dems had to go to the mat over that one. If perjury were an impeachable offense damn near all of them would be out when they took the Oath of Office.

Sic Puppy on July 30, 2009 at 7:49 PM

How much time and money has been wasted debating, and defeating, Obama’s ridiculous health care proposal? If our republic paid proper respect to the wording and intent of its Constitution, this entire farce would have never gotten past the discussion stages, and we could be much closer to enacting truly meaningful and effective reforms that show proper respect to the freedom of our citizens and marketplace.

Do not imagine, Doctor Zero, that leadership is a pleasure. On the contrary, it is a deep and heavy responsibility. No one believes more firmly than our Dear Leader Barack Obama that all men are equal. He would be only too happy to let citizens make their own decisions for themselves. But sometimes the citizens might make the wrong decisions, Doctor Zero, and then where would we be?

Cheshire Cat on July 30, 2009 at 7:51 PM

Anybody else go into the voting booth last November, look at our options, and think, “Wow! In a country of over 300 million, these are my only choices?!

Special K on July 30, 2009 at 7:53 PM

Just like South Carolina was laughed at over their protest of the Tariff of 1828. Laughed at until congress figured they’d better give Andy Jackson authority to send in troops when South Carolina gave Uncle Sugar the finger. History has a funny way of repeating itself.

Limerick on July 30, 2009 at 6:35 PM

Indeed. I’ve called Perry several times, begging him to do just what he did. After he said that he would allow Texans to be exempt from Obamacare, I called him and thanked him up one side and down another. I’ve lost all hope in the Fed. I’ve completely shifted all my focus to Texas, for it to push back and protect Texans.

Weight of Glory on July 30, 2009 at 7:53 PM

I know you were focused on the British and American model, but the French Revolution touches on that issue, doesn’t it?

atheling on July 30, 2009 at 7:49 PM

My focus was on Britain and America–and how one of the reasons that the British not only created the conditions which brought on and nurtured the Industrial Revolution but also created the most successful ‘empire’ in modern times was the mentality of its ruling class ( which was adopted, with significant revisions, by the gentry in the American colonies )

Other societies, with the exception of the Dutch and Flemish, were less fortunate–including the French. I don’t know enough to take your question further than that.

Janos Hunyadi on July 30, 2009 at 8:02 PM

Can someone show me which article of the constitution gives the federal government the obligation (or even the right) to guarantee universal health care?

crosspatch on July 30, 2009 at 8:21 PM

crosspatch on July 30, 2009 at 8:21 PM

the Preamble states as one of the purposes of the Constitution ( and of government ) to “promote the general welfare”.

The Constitution is essentially a list of what government CANNOT do, and providing health care is not listed as a ‘cannot do’. So, take it from there………….

Janos Hunyadi on July 30, 2009 at 8:29 PM

Doctor Zero.

You speak the truth my friend. Shall our constitution suffer the same fate as the Twelve Tablets of Roman Law? The people are persecuted by their government yet they continue to vote the same idiots in!

I fear to think the population has been duped. Perhaps there’s a widespread case of voting fraud that is yet to be uncovered? I’m doing my best to convince my friends to vote otherwise.

Chaz706 on July 30, 2009 at 8:38 PM

the Preamble states as one of the purposes of the Constitution ( and of government ) to “promote the general welfare”.

The Constitution is essentially a list of what government CANNOT do, and providing health care is not listed as a ‘cannot do’. So, take it from there………….

Janos Hunyadi on July 30, 2009 at 8:29 PM

You’re missing a key word there Janos.

The constitution says that the Government’s job is to promote the general welfare, not provide for it. Those are two very different words!

Chaz706 on July 30, 2009 at 8:46 PM

They build their objections upon principles that do not exist, which the Constitution does not support them in, and the existence of which has been, by an appeal to the Constitution itself flatly denied; and then, as if they were unanswerable, draw all the dreadful consequences that are necessary to alarm the apprehensions of the ignorant or unthinking. It is not the interest of the major part of those characters to be convinced; nor will their local views yield to arguments, which do not accord with their present, or future prospects.

George Washington, November 10, 1787

VibrioCocci on July 30, 2009 at 8:58 PM

Of course, there is always the punishment we can administer at the ballot box, but this is precisely what I mean by “limited means.” The rate of re-election for the House of Representatives hovers around 95%, and rarely drops below 90% .

Repealing the 17th Amendment would go a long way toward rectifying this problem.

DrMagnolias on July 30, 2009 at 8:59 PM

Repealing the 17th Amendment would go a long way toward rectifying this problem.

DrMagnolias on July 30, 2009 at 8:59 PM

I’m a little iffy with the 17th amendment thing.

Roland Burris is my ‘Exhibit A’ in that argument.

Chaz706 on July 30, 2009 at 9:01 PM

Whoops. The 17th Amendment deals with the Senate, so my suggestion sounds moronic. What I mean, though, is that when we started tinkering with the way the government was set up, we put ourselves in this position. House or Senate, the country has suffered because the people do not understand the reason our system of government was set up as it was.

Remind me never to post when I have had a glass of wine.

DrMagnolias on July 30, 2009 at 9:02 PM

Chaz706 on July 30, 2009 at 8:46 PM

I’m not missing anything, and I know the difference between the two words. I was not writing about the ‘job’ of government, but it’s purpose.

There is no inherent conflict between ‘promote’ and ‘provide’: I can promote ( advance the cause or fortunes of ) something by providing for it. The concepts are not opposites or mutually exclusive.

My point, which you apparently missed, was that the Constitution can be understood as a list of what the national government cannot do, in that all powers not given to government are reserved for the states and the people themselves.

The Con does not forbid the national government from providing health care, and such care is already provided to the poor and elderly–and these programs have been upheld as constitutional ( with the usual justification being that they are part of ‘promoting the general welfare’ )

I’m not in favor of any changes or any aspect of any of the current proposed legislation “Obamacare”

Janos Hunyadi on July 30, 2009 at 9:10 PM

Janos Hunyadi on July 30, 2009 at 9:10 PM

My sincerest apologies.

Chaz706 on July 30, 2009 at 9:14 PM

This is short compared to my view on the same topic, which looks at those who suggested reform of the system… in 1787-89. Their points for keeping the system in check are well known and multiple writers pressed one or more of them so as to ensure that Congress was kept in check AND was the voice of the people, both. By the views of that era we no longer have representative democracy, but a form of state enforced oligarchy presided over by elders in two parties. Mark Steyn’s Incumbistan, if you will.

Criticism of long and didactic pieces is why I turned down the Green Room invitation as that is about all I write. I’m glad they could find someone who can do shorter pieces and get the same point across…

ajacksonian on July 30, 2009 at 9:37 PM

Good work Doctor Z.

For a start at serious reform, NO lawyers should be allowed to serve in the Legislature, since it is an OBVIOUS and inherent conflict of interest.

They should be required, by law, to retire from practicing Law, permanently, if they want to be law-makers.

Otherwise it is a continuous and corrupt[ing] circle jerk from which they and their cronies always profit and become sleazy and unethical profiteers.

profitsbeard on July 30, 2009 at 9:46 PM

ajacksonian on July 30, 2009 at 9:37 PM

Good Stuff:

“This is the quintessential understanding of the Revolution – that society is the basis for creating government, and that society has the right to change, alter or abolish any government that abuses it. The Declaration would also include that huge portion after the upper two paragraphs that would state, in detail, what each and every abuse was. This is necessary as it shows an understanding of the rights of citizens under the Crown and the rights of ANY citizen under ANY form of government, and why a government that abuses those rights and the liberty of the populace is harmful to it and worthy of being changed or abolished. Neither Common Sense or the Declaration of Independence are political documents or manifestos: they are documents showing the basic and foundational concepts of how governments are made, why they are made and what the best form of government should be and that any form is absolutely beholden to society… not the other way around.”

Jackson was part of that ‘aristocracy of merit’ which was so crucial to America and Britain but was suppressed elsewhere by an inbred elite. As a farm boy from the backwoods he knew about class and prejudice, but rose quickly into the upper levels of society–and identified both with his origins and with the people he rose to join.

Janos Hunyadi on July 30, 2009 at 9:55 PM

Sorry, Doctor Zero doesn’t do it for me.

Ed and Allah are more crisp and salient.

guntotinglibertarian on July 30, 2009 at 6:25 PM

I respectfully disagree.
I think Doc is the best writer on this site. He does more than just comment on the news, he analyzes it, and forces the reader to actually come to terms with the subject.

His writing is worthy of any news organization on-line or in the print media.

Susanboo on July 30, 2009 at 10:53 PM

Indeed. I’ve called Perry several times, begging him to do just what he did. After he said that he would allow Texans to be exempt from Obamacare, I called him and thanked him up one side and down another. I’ve lost all hope in the Fed. I’ve completely shifted all my focus to Texas, for it to push back and protect Texans.

Weight of Glory on July 30, 2009 at 7:53 PM

Yeah, Perry has really hit home with a lot of us in Texas recently. I am concerned about Kay Bailey running against him in the upcoming primary because she is so wishy washy, and may attract more Rinos and Dems. He has been in office for a while, but I feel that with what is going on in Washington right now, we really need someone with his assertive attitude, (Kay would never stand up to Obama). I think Perry can win again against the Dems, as long as he can make it through the primary.

Susanboo on July 30, 2009 at 11:07 PM

Sorry, Doctor Zero doesn’t do it for me.
Ed and Allah are more crisp and salient.
guntotinglibertarian on July 30, 2009 at 6:25 PM

I respectfully disagree.
I think Doc is the best writer on this site. He does more than just comment on the news, he analyzes it, and forces the reader to actually come to terms with the subject.

His writing is worthy of any news organization on-line or in the print media.

Susanboo on July 30, 2009 at 10:53 PM

Great post Doctor Zero and Susanboo I agree w/your disagreement :) – I try to categorize & bookmark ‘keepers’ into various Internet folders, but have a special folder marked ‘Philosophy’ that is just for articles that fit the bill and hold special merit. It grows slowly and is designed that way, but since the Doctor’s been writing here in the Green Room, I’ve been able to start filling it again.

RD on July 31, 2009 at 12:39 AM

Great writing, Doctor Zero.

Ajacksonian, when I have more time, I will read over yours; it is much longer and I don’t have time for it right now.

Theophile on July 31, 2009 at 6:43 AM

the Constitution can be understood as a list of what the national government cannot do, in that all powers not given to government are reserved for the states and the people themselves.

Do you not understand that statement is a direct contradiction?

all powers NOT GIVEN… The Constitution is a granting of specific powers, if it is not in there, you can’t do it.

A state run system might pass Constitutional muster, but it would never be attempted because the states don’t have the ability to print money.

Sic Puppy on July 31, 2009 at 7:54 AM

Special K on July 30, 2009 at 7:49 PM

They did spend like drunken sailors. That is why we have to get rid of them and stop voting for the ‘RNC approved’ candidates. The RNC is more interested in listening to the Media and trying to be ‘liked’ than they are in doing the right thing and standing on principle. I am so sick of their notion that ‘we have to do something’ and it is not as bad as what Democrats came up with. But whatever they have been advancing still stinks and are against the base principles of the GOP.

It is time to support only those who are conservative in thought and deed. Stand up and let them know that they will not get another dollar for campaigning if they are not rock solid conservative and fight this Marxist president and congress!

Sporty1946 on July 31, 2009 at 8:41 AM

Good essay Doc! An election won’t be enough. We will need constitutional amendments to roll back the government intrusion into our lives and to strengthen the restaints on its power.

bitsy on July 31, 2009 at 8:53 AM

An article of this sort that doesnt address the blatant lawbreaking of Bush and Cheney is obviously a partisan exercise. The alleged concern for the rule of law is a fig leaf for a tired attack from the right.

For a more honest, and more legally supportable, take on this issue, read Glenn Greenwald.

orange on July 31, 2009 at 9:48 AM

They would have an easier time of it if they were backed-up by a few million citizens jamming every square inch of the halls of Congress, the streets outside, and the D.C. mall. Armed citizens would be even better; it’s time to remind these worthless clowns how the nation was founded.

Bishop on July 30, 2009

Please let me add my 1-1/4 cents worth (after taxes)…
(It would be great if the mere threat of violence alone could effect the changes desired. But I assume you don’t think the armed citizens should be carrying empty guns, Bishop. Your previous postings suggest otherwise and the following is not directed at you.)
In his book, Common Sense, Glenn Beck decries the need for another armed revolution. Multiple times he speaks out against violence as a productive means to affect change. I understand why he does this; because he believes it for one and he has enough people calling him unhinged without adding more fuel to the fire. It’s a very worthwhile book, but I take issue with him on this point.
If we fail at the ballot box, are we left with nothing but to throw up our hands and say, “oh well, will of the people and all”? That’s fine, if that’s ones attitude, but is it brutish and “crazy” to suggest that the failure of peaceful action nullifies any possible further means? Are we left to watch our beloved nation circle the drain with no recourse, however awful, to stem the flow? Are we not even allowed to discuss the posssibility without being labled all manner of nasty things by the more timid souls among you?
By all means, we must bust our asses to bring about the changes we desire within the framework of law and democratic action. Every conceivable effort must be put to that task. But IF all that fails, what then? Do we surrender and submit? Do we try again in another two/four years, hoping we can convince more people than last time?Every day spent sliding down that slope into serfdom makes the climb back out harder and harder. How much harder in two or four years hence? In that event, pray God, it never happens, those of you who think me and like minds are little more than paranoid alarmists with a violent streak, please keep huddled and cowering in your corners and stay out of the way. History can decide if we were armed and willing patriots or just insane pu$$ies with guns. Either way, your opinion won’t matter then.

SKYFOX on July 31, 2009 at 10:03 AM

An article of this sort that doesnt address the blatant lawbreaking of Bush and Cheney is obviously a partisan exercise. The alleged concern for the rule of law is a fig leaf for a tired attack from the right.

For a more honest, and more legally supportable, take on this issue, read Glenn Greenwald.

orange on July 31, 2009 at 9:48 AM

Hi Glenn! Thanks for dropping by. I think you’re right – we really need to get Bush and Cheney out of office. I’m glad you’re putting so much effort into that urgent crusade. Be sure to troll our comments again when you finish your next tedious rant about Chimpy McHitlerburton and Darth Cheney, and drop us a link, okay? I’m sure everyone is looking forward to it as much as I am.

By the way, isn’t “orange” kind of a boring name for a sock puppet? I thought your earlier sock puppet names were much more inspired.

Doctor Zero on July 31, 2009 at 10:18 AM

“You guys think you’re above the law. Well, you’re not above mine!”
-Steven Seagal from Above the Law

budorob on July 31, 2009 at 10:29 AM

My point, which you apparently missed, was that the Constitution can be understood as a list of what the national government cannot do, in that all powers not given to government are reserved for the states and the people themselves.

/Boggle?

I’m completely baffled by this paragraph. The quote (not in quotes), from the tenth amendment, means the exact opposite of what you are arguing.

Here is a quote from Federalist No.45 written by James Madison that should be instructive on the matter.

“The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the federal government, are few and defined. Those which are to remain in the State governments are numerous and indefinite. The former will be exercised principally on external objects, as war, peace, negotiation, and foreign commerce; with which last the power of taxation will, for the most part, be connected. The powers reserved to the several States will extend to all the objects which, in the ordinary course of affairs, concern the lives, liberties, and properties of the people, and the internal order, improvement, and prosperity of the State.”

Because the Constitution was a list of enumerated powers, there was worry initially that a Bill of Rights, ran the risk of undermining the Constitution by giving the impression that other than the rights listed, government could do what it wished. Which is exactly why the tenth amendment was included, despite its essential redundancy. It was an attempt to make it was abundantly clear that the constitution only grants those powers that are listed, and all others are off limits. Unfortunately, that clear language has failed in its intent.

aelhues on July 31, 2009 at 11:55 AM

aelhues on July 31, 2009 at 11:55 AM

No, you do not understand what I’m saying. If that ‘boggles’ you, that’s something only you can deal with.

Janos Hunyadi on July 31, 2009 at 4:52 PM

Sic Puppy on July 31, 2009 at 7:54 AM

It’s not a contradiction; I squeezed two ideas together, abridging both. The Con grants powers to the national government, with the understanding that ONLY those powers are granted. I was responding to someone who said that ‘promote’ and ‘provide’ were very different, and was more interested in refuting that point than in going into detail on the Constitution itself

Janos Hunyadi on July 31, 2009 at 4:55 PM