Remedial constitutional education for Kos

posted at 6:35 pm on March 7, 2012 by Karl

As many of you still shun Twitter, I must share with you the wit and insight of nutroots commissar Markos “Kos” Moultisas on Rick Santorum’s Super Tuesday speech:

Following widespread mockery from the right, Kos did what he always does… dig himself a deeper hole:

Apparently, Kos was never taught that the Founders of our nation believed in natural rights, although this is obvious from the opening of the Declaration of Independence:

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

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

(Emphases added for easier nutroots comprehension.) Of course, the Declaration is not the Constitution, even though many of the same people were involved in both projects. However, as Kos cites the Preamble to the Constitution, it is worth noting as the Supreme Court has, that “[a]lthough that preamble indicates the general purposes for which the people ordained and established the Constitution, it has never been regarded as the source of any substantive power conferred on the government of the United States, or on any of its departments.” That “We the People” formed a government simply does not mean the people or the government are necessarily the source of rights mentioned in the Constitution.

Kos obviously is unaware of the debate over whether the Constitution should be amended to include what is now known as the Bill of Rights, let alone the role of natural rights in that debate:

The Federalists contended that a Bill of Rights was unnecessary because in their view the federal government possessed only limited powers that were expressly delegated to it by the Constitution. They believed that all powers not constitutionally delegated to the federal government were inherently reserved to the people and the states. Nowhere in the Constitution, the Federalists pointed out, is the federal government given the power to trample on individual liberties. The Federalists feared that if the Constitution were to include a Bill of Rights that protected certain liberties from government encroachment, an inference would be drawn that the federal government could exercise an implied power to regulate such liberties.

Alexander Hamilton, one of the leading Federalists, articulated this concern in The Federalist No. 84. Why should a Bill of Rights, Hamilton asked, “declare that things shall not be done which there is no power to do?” For instance, Hamilton said it was unnecessary for a Bill of Rights to protect the Freedom of the Press when the federal government is not granted the power to regulate the press. A provision “against restraining the liberty of the press,” Hamilton said, “afford[s] the clear implication that a power to prescribe proper regulations concerning it was intended to be vested in the national government.”

The Federalists were also concerned that any constitutional enumeration of liberties might imply that other rights, not enumerated by the Constitution, would be surrendered to the government. A Bill of Rights, they feared, would quickly become the exclusive means by which the American people could secure their freedom and stave off tyranny. Federalist James Madison argued that any attempt to enumerate fundamental liberties would be incomplete and might imperil other freedoms not listed. A “positive declaration of some essential rights could not be obtained in the requisite latitude,” Madison said. “If an enumeration be made of all our rights,” he queried, “will it not be implied that everything omitted is given to the general government?”

Madison ultimately became an advocate for a Bill of Rights. Kos should read Madison’s arguments, as Madison noted that not all of the rights mentioned in the Constitution are natural rights. For example:

Trial by jury cannot be considered as a natural right, but a right resulting from a social compact which regulates the action of the community, but is as essential to secure the liberty of the people as any one of the pre-existent rights of nature.

Madison won the day in part by proposing what became the Ninth Amendment, which provides: “The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.” This amendment in particular was to remind future generations of statists like Kos that our rights predate government. The Bill of Rights was largely intended to secure pre-existing rights against the new government. For example, this is why the First Amendment does not state that it creates a right to freedom of speech, but declares Congress shall make no law abridging our freedom of speech. That Kos seems so ignorant of these concepts is ironic in light of the role they played in the Supreme Court’s decision of… Griswold v. Connecticut, a case which Kos no doubt supports as much as Rick Santorum does not.

This post was promoted from GreenRoom to HotAir.com.
To see the comments on the original post, look here.


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Comment pages: 1 2 3

Your problem in this thread was that you picked the wrong fight. You know how men are told not let their members do their thinking for them? Well, you should stop letting your atheism do your thinking for you.

blink on March 8, 2012 at 1:13 PM

my atheism and the conclusions derived from it is very important in this argument. cannot just ignore it!?
I just feel I am nitpicking with you, this is why my answers getting shorter. as I said, I really feel the argument mostly irrelevant and I’m not being snarky or trolling. but, I you want to understand this position, just put yourself in my atheist shoes and see if you can comprehend me. if not lets move on…

nathor on March 8, 2012 at 1:42 PM

So, you admit that you were dead wrong when you stated that only a believer can be upset by it.

I assuming you were upset with the second tweet.

It’s not all about god. It’s all about the fact that it’s NOT government.

karl words:

Following widespread mockery from the right, Kos did what he always does… dig himself a deeper hole:(with the second tweet)

then Karl goes on explaining why the second tweet is wrong and how in the Declaration of Independence, our rights are given by our creator, etc…

but lets move over kos words please. i dont care about the prick.

Let me give you another example.

Let’s say that you claim A caused B. Now, let’s say that I claim that you’re wrong because C caused B. Now, let’s say I go on to say that D caused C.

Now, we can argue if D really caused C or not, but that argument doesn’t change the fact that it was C that caused B – not A.

Again, it doesn’t matter why you believe that you have human rights, if you believe that you have human rights then you agree that Kos was wrong.

blink on March 8, 2012 at 1:47 PM

to be sure:
A is “government”
B is “our rights”
C is “constitution”
D is “god”

if KOS claims, A cause B, then KOS is wrong.
fine, I agree.

nathor on March 8, 2012 at 2:04 PM

I don’t care if you doubt these rights or not. If your resulting believe is that you have these rights, then that is good enough.

But are you actually saying that you doubt that you really have human rights? Do you really think that you might not have the inherent right to be free?

when I think to myself *I have a right to be free*, its weak, because then I try to find the reason for this right and find nothing.
my base start is *I wish to be free*. from there my reason is, that by pledging(constitutional contract) with other men( that have the same desire to be free), to defend each other freedoms, I can better reach my goal.
Then, comes the golden rule. which states, that I should not impose to others what I dont like done upon me. so, my contract with other free men, can never be based on other men lack of freedom. (slavery)

reflecting on the above reasoning, I reach the conclusion that all men should be granted freedom.

Do you actually doubt that slave is wrong?

blink on March 8, 2012 at 1:52 PM

its really only self evident to me that I wish to be free and that I dont wish the pain of not being free on other men.

nathor on March 8, 2012 at 2:23 PM

Btw, this is known as being a troll.

blink on March 8, 2012 at 2:15 PM

no, its respectfully disengaging. a troll would snark.

nathor on March 8, 2012 at 2:25 PM

Were you somehow under the impression that I was claiming that the Constitution was completely unimportant????? Why on earth would you think that?

Just because I’m saying that my rights exist with or without the Constitution doesn’t mean that I’m saying that the Constitution isn’t an important document.

blink on March 8, 2012 at 1:55 PM

can you agree with this sentence:
“our creator given rights, articulated in the constitution are to be upheld by the government described by the constitution”?
this is, the government does not give us rights, but its the organization responsible of defending them, no?

nathor on March 8, 2012 at 2:29 PM

can you agree with this sentence:
“our creator given rights, articulated in the constitution are to be upheld by the government described by the constitution”?
this is, the government does not give us rights, but its the organization responsible of defending them, no?

nathor on March 8, 2012 at 2:29 PM

government is synonymous of US congress and presidency in this context.

nathor on March 8, 2012 at 2:30 PM

First, what makes you think that I’m NOT an atheist?

Regardless, I don’t believe that government bestows our rights. What, who, etc. bestows those rights isn’t germane to the fact that it’s NOT government. I see that incredibly clearly as did most of the commenters on this thread.

blink on March 8, 2012 at 2:00 PM

I just disagree with your subjective opinion that “god granting us the rights” was not the main disagreement of this thread. but sure, maybe my “militant atheism” is making me think this. or not.

nathor on March 8, 2012 at 2:35 PM

First, what makes you think that I’m NOT an atheist?

blink on March 8, 2012 at 2:00 PM

because people dont usually defend what then dont believe in…

nathor on March 8, 2012 at 2:37 PM

Nathor, as someone who is both militantly rightwing and militantly atheist, I find your posts both absurd and embarrassing. Your current backpedaling is just silly. Give up.

vermin on March 8, 2012 at 3:16 PM

No, short, disengaging answers which nitpick are designed to force the debate opponent to expend more resources in their replies. That’s trolling.

blink on March 8, 2012 at 3:03 PM

that nuts. I dont want to concede your point, but I am also tired of the argument. that is all.

nathor on March 8, 2012 at 3:58 PM

Again, I’m not criticizing this belief. It’s just that most people stopped thinking like this over 100 years ago, so it’s a bit rare

.
maybe I am in our founders footsteps? … seriously, its just my reasoning leading me to these conclusions.

Is the “golden rule” more of an authority than “self interest”? Because “self-interest” allows one to refuse your contract and enslave you.

I think it derives mostly from our emotion of empathy. It just does not feel right.

That’s fine. However, you’re also admitting that “other men” have no obligation to provide you your freedom which means that your admitting that they have a right to enslave you.

blink on March 8, 2012 at 3:02 PM

there is nothing that can stop other men of trying to enslave me. so I make mine jefferson words:
“The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.”
to note, I think we live far from an tyranny, such as libya of syria that deserve such bloody revolutions

nathor on March 8, 2012 at 4:14 PM

But it’s kind of sad that you don’t think that you have a right to be free unless other men agree that you should be free.

blink on March 8, 2012 at 4:17 PM

its not sad, its pragmatism. the world was once full of men with the “right of being free”, but slaves any way.

nathor on March 8, 2012 at 4:32 PM

First, this is untrue in today’s world.

Second, the issue isn’t about stopping them – the issue is whether they have the right to do it. You seem to believe that they do.

i definitely believe some men can think that they have the right to enslave me. for example, a muslim extremist , a despot, a racial supremacist that dislike my race, etc.

nathor on March 8, 2012 at 4:38 PM

The point isn’t that some men think that they have the right to enslave me.

The point is that you agree with them.

blink on March 8, 2012 at 4:51 PM

I dont. where you want to go with this? maybe its better to close the conversation here?

nathor on March 8, 2012 at 4:58 PM

The notion that the government creates our rights is among the most pernicious ever developed by the statists on the left. Assuming Kos isn’t really so ignorant as to believe what he wrote, he should be ashamed.

morganfrost on March 8, 2012 at 5:04 PM

First of all, some distinction. Natural rights doesn’t mean god-given. Natural rights assumes every human being has the inherent dignity to his own self, so long as he respects the same in others. This is what I believe, and it’s also why I believe in things like gay marriage. You have the right to practice your religion, but you don’t have the right to practice it on everyone else. It’s the same idea.

God-given rights assumes some sort of supernatural being had a hand in granting you freedom, which is kind of naive, honestly, but believe whatever you want to, its a free country.

But kos is right, god-given or not as determined by our founding fathers. See, because god is an invention of man, so they’re our invention regardless.

triple on March 8, 2012 at 6:45 PM

there is nothing that can stop other men of trying to enslave me. so I make mine jefferson words:
“The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.”
to note, I think we live far from an tyranny, such as libya of syria that deserve such bloody revolutions

nathor on March 8, 2012 at 4:14 PM

The adorable thing about this comment is the juxtaposition of the Jefferson quote about Shays’ rebellion and nathor’s confident assertion that we “live far from an [sic] tyranny…that deserve such bloody revolutions”.

Jefferson’s point to William Stephens Smith (newly-wed son-in-law of John Adams) was that WITHOUT periodic (every 20 years or so) fertilization by the blood spilled in defense of our liberties the tree of liberty would die, and quickly so.

Context is vital. Knowing history even more so.

Harpazo on March 8, 2012 at 10:34 PM

First of all, some distinction. Natural rights doesn’t mean god-given.

triple on March 8, 2012 at 6:45 PM

The writers & signers of the Declaration, Locke, and Blackstone all disagree.

God-given rights assumes some sort of supernatural being had a hand in granting you freedom, which is kind of naive, honestly, but believe whatever you want to, its a free country.

triple on March 8, 2012 at 6:45 PM

Naive or not, this is precisely the assumption that forms the foundation of the United States and its federal government:

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them…

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed…

The Preamble of the Declaration makes it clear that: human beings have specific (not unlimited) rights which were given to them by the divine Creator of the natural world; those rights are individual to each person; that the purpose of Government is to ensure the security of each person’s rights and the exercise thereof; and that all of the above assertions are self-evident truths.

Like it or not, the Founders assert that every one of your “natural” rights is God-given. The primary functional upswing of this is that no government — tyrannical or otherwise — can ever justly take those rights away from you. Government — as a human institution — has no authority to overrule the God who made humans.

THAT is the whole point: no government rules with the authority or approval of God when it unjustly infringes on a person’s innate rights.

I don’t really care whether you believe in God, the Bible, or anything for that matter. But, as the saying goes, facts is facts. Trying to re-write the 18th century Christian Founders as 21st century secular realpolitik philosophers is just embarrassingly sad.

Harpazo on March 8, 2012 at 10:58 PM

do your students copy their homework from wikipedia?

And one of the girl’s mother is our History teacher.
And she didn’t know SQUAT.

Badger40 on March 8, 2012 at 8:39 AM

so what?

nathor on March 8, 2012 at 10:28 AM

What’s with the wikipedia crack?
And it was relevant bcs the kid’s mother is a government teacher.
Unlike your anti-religious rant.
Seriously, isn’t there a baby-killing thread you’d feel more comfortable trolling?
Without babies to talk about ripping apart, well, you just don’t seem like your regular trollish witty self.

Badger40 on March 8, 2012 at 11:23 PM

So, you believe slavery is ok as long as a majority of men wants to enslave you.

Nice straw man (and false one, at that) but no, I don’t, and I’m not sure where you picked that up from my post about natural rights. Minority rights especially need to be protected for that precise reason – majority rule dictating rights is a disaster, just ask any black man who lived in the south during the era of jim crow laws. Or ask any gay man who lives in the bible belt today.

Ironically the bible is perfectly okay with slavery.

However, you may purchase male or female slaves from among the foreigners who live among you. You may also purchase the children of such resident foreigners, including those who have been born in your land. You may treat them as your property, passing them on to your children as a permanent inheritance. You may treat your slaves like this, but the people of Israel, your relatives, must never be treated this way. Leviticus 25:44-46

When a man strikes his male or female slave with a rod so hard that the slave dies under his hand, he shall be punished. If, however, the slave survives for a day or two, he is not to be punished, since the slave is his own property. Exodus 21:20-21

Christians who are slaves should give their masters full respect so that the name of God and his teaching will not be shamed. If your master is a Christian, that is no excuse for being disrespectful. You should work all the harder because you are helping another believer by your efforts. Teach these truths, Timothy, and encourage everyone to obey them. 1 Timothy 6:1-2

So, you’re claiming that someone doesn’t have the inherent dignity to his own self unless he respects the same in others?

Isn’t that why prison exists? Prisons are full of people who did not respect the inherent dignity of others in some way, infringed on someone else’s rights – and had their rights and freedom TAKEN AWAY as a result.

This is the fundamental basis of our justice system, no?

triple on March 9, 2012 at 12:51 AM

I can’t help but wonder if Nathor and Blink found a room last night…..

Pecozbill on March 9, 2012 at 8:59 AM

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