37

Lincoln and the Will of God

Justice exalteth a nation: but sin maketh nations miserable.

Proverbs 13:14

Today is the 204th birthday of Abraham Lincoln.  One of the many things I find fascinating about Lincoln is his view of the Civil War, a view which is not much considered these days.  Lincoln viewed it simply as a punishment for the sin of slavery.  Lincoln put this idea forth clearly in a letter to Albert Hodges on April 4, 1864.  Hodges was the editor of the Frankfort Commonwealth in Kentucky and Lincoln was explaining why he had found it necessary to adopt a policy of Emancipation and to enlist black troops, neither policy being popular in Kentucky or any of the border states.  At the close of the letter Lincoln disclaimed that he had controlled the events which had led to his embracing abolition as a war goal:

I claim not to have controlled events, but confess plainly that events have controlled me. Now, at the end of three years struggle the nation’s condition is not what either party, or any man devised, or expected. God alone can claim it. Whither it is tending seems plain. If God now wills the removal of a great wrong, and wills also that we of the North as well as you of the South, shall pay fairly for our complicity in that wrong, impartial history will find therein new cause to attest and revere the justice and goodness of God.

God was willing the removal of slavery and gave the War as a punishment to both North and South for the sin of slavery.  This was not a spur of the moment thought by Lincoln, but rather the fruit of much anguished contemplation as to why the War came and what it meant. Continue Reading

20

Fools to Judge his Papacy

Pope Benedict

I have always shuddered when a Pope dies because I am filled with dread of what comes next:   Endless reams of bad commentary by people who pretend to know something about the Vatican but who usually succeed only in revealing their bone ignorance of the subject.  The resignation of Pope Benedict I expect to inspire more of the same.

First up is John Moody, Executive Vice President, Fox News, and a former Vatican correspondent, who takes Pope Benedict to task for what he perceives to be a failed papacy.  Pope Benedict’s main crime appears to be that he was not Pope John Paul II:

By contrast, Benedict’s meek initial outings were public relations meltdowns.  His smile, though genuine, looked somehow sinister, as if he were about to bite  his audience. Determined to restore the Church’s luster in Europe, where it is  often treated like a dotty old aunt, Benedict gave a lecture in Regensburg, Germany, in 2006  that appeared to denigrate Islam. The non-Catholic world howled; the Vatican  cringed and apologized.

On his first visit to the U.S. as pope, Benedict offered contrite apologies  for the Church’s ham-handed treatment of the U.S. church’s sex scandal involving  its priests. Even the pope’s humble mien did not satisfy some, who pronounced  him cold and unfeeling toward the plight of victims of clergy abuse. He joined  the Twitterati, but his first attempt was a sterile: “I am pleased to get in  touch with you through Twitter. I bless all of you from my heart.” At least he  stayed under 140 characters.

In nearly eight years, Benedict issued three encyclicals – direct messages to  the faithful that often reveal a pope’s enthusiasms and interests. Benedict’s  first – entitled “God is Love” — is a caressing, simply worded, logic-based  reassurance that our Lord loves us. Yet even his writing about love suffers in  comparison with John Paul’s towering, intellectual yet intimate canon of  work.

None of which lessens Benedict’s place in the line of Vicars of Christ. His  decision to resign was a brave one, based on personal humility, in keeping with  his message to the faithful that the things of Earth are transient, but the  promise of heaven lasting and infinite.  For that he should be  remembered.

Continue Reading

3

Pope Benedict XVI, A Pontificate Steeped In Humility

Pope Benedict XVI has taken the ultimate step in humility and has decided to resign, because he felt the duties of the Petrine Ministry were too important to continue in a diminished state. I have no doubt that this will be the wave of the future for successive popes. Our previous Holy Father, Pope John Paul II soldiered on to help the show the world that disability was no disgrace. However, Pope Benedict XVI must have felt that since that example was already shown to us, he would chart a different path.

The humility of the Holy Father was first seen when then Father Josef Ratzinger had his sister listen to his homilies and his college seminary lectures for he did not want to go over the heads of his parishioners and seminary students. The Holy Father was somewhat of a prodigy as a child. Though he liked to play soccer with the rest of the boys in Traunstein, a small town in Bavaria, he realized he would never become a great athlete, so he throw himself into his studies and into the History and workings of religion in general and Catholicism in particular.

During the eight years of his pontificate, Pope Benedict XVI reached out to everyone, the poor, the marginalized, the wealthy and creative, those of other faiths, schismatic Catholics as well as those whose world views were totally different than his. However, the man from Bavaria never compromised on the issue of truth; he railed against the Dictatorship of Relativism and against the idea of social engineering which seems to have engulfed the Western world.

Continue Reading

7

On the Resignation of Pope Benedict XVI

Pope Benedict XVI Says He Will Resign (New York Times) February 11, 2012:

After examining his conscience “before God,” he said in a statement that reverberated around the world on the Internet and on social media, “I have come to the certainty that my strengths, due to an advanced age, are no longer suited to an adequate exercise” of his position as head of the world’s one billion Roman Catholics. …While there had been questions about Benedict’s health, the timing of his announcement sent shock waves around the world, even though he had in the past endorsed the notion that an incapacitated pope could resign.

“The pope took us by surprise,” said Father Lombardi, who explained that many cardinals were in Rome on Monday for a ceremony at the Vatican and heard the pope’s address. Italy’s prime minister, Mario Monti, said he was “very shaken by the unexpected news.”

According to the Associated Press, “The last pope to resign was Pope Gregory XII, who stepped down in 1415 in a deal to end the Great Western Schism among competing papal claimants.”

Continue Reading

30

Pope Resigning

There is a report just in that Pope Benedict is resigning on February 28.

VATICAN CITY) — Pope Benedict XVI has announced that he will resign Feb. 28, the first pontiff to do so in nearly 600 years. The decision sets the stage for a conclave to elect a new pope before the end of March.

The 85-year-old pope announced his decision in Latin during a meeting of Vatican cardinals Monday morning.

This would be the fifth time that a Pope has abdicated in the history of the Papacy, the most recent being Pope Gregory XII in 1415.  Further details as they come in.

Update:  Here is the statement of the Pope:

Continue Reading

14

The Pope’s Jews

 

Christopher Johnson at The Midwest Conservative is at it again.  He is a non-Catholic who has taken up the cudgels so ofen in defense of the Faith that I have designated him Defender of the Faith.  He enters the lists now on behalf of the most unjustly maligned man of the last century, Pope Pius XII:

or, Whoops There Goes Another Liberal Cliche:

Pius XII has long been vilified as “Hitler’s pope”, accused of failing publicly to condemn the genocide of Europe’s Jews. Now a British author has unearthed extensive material that Vatican insiders believe will restore his reputation, revealing the part that he played in saving lives and opposing nazism. Gordon Thomas,

Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa.  Who is this guy, some trad Catholic?  Dude, that’s special pleading, that’s not genuine research, you blithering idiot.

a Protestant,

Never mind.

was given access to previously unpublished Vatican documents and tracked down victims, priests and others who had not told their stories before.

The Pope’s Jews, which will be published next month, details how Pius gave his blessing to the establishment of safe houses in the Vatican and Europe’s convents and monasteries. He oversaw a secret operation with code names and fake documents for priests who risked their lives to shelter Jews, some of whom were even made Vatican subjects.

Thomas shows, for example, that priests were instructed to issue baptism certificates to hundreds of Jews hidden in Genoa, Rome and elsewhere in Italy. More than 2,000 Jews in Hungary were given fabricated Vatican documents identifying them as Catholics and a network saved German Jews by bringing them to Rome. The pope appointed a priest with extensive funds with which to provide food, clothing and medicine. More than 4,000 Jews were hidden in convents and monasteries across Italy.

During and immediately after the war, the pope was considered a Jewish saviour. Jewish leaders – such as Jerusalem’s chief rabbi in 1944 – said the people of Israel would never forget what he and his delegates “are doing for our unfortunate brothers and sisters at the most tragic hour”. Jewish newspapers in Britain and America echoed that praise, and Hitler branded him “a Jew lover”. Continue Reading

18

Nah, Vote Fraud Isn’t a Problem!

Ever wonder why Democrats push early voting and absentee ballots so hard?  The above video gives you all the explanation you need!

As John Fund notes at National Review Online:

Critics of voter ID and other laws cracking down on voter fraud claim they’re unnecessary because fraud is nonexistent. For instance, Brennan Center attorneys Michael Waldman and Justin Levitt claimed last year: “A person casting two votes risks jail time and a fine for minimal gain. Proven voter fraud, statistically, happens about as often as death by lightning strike.”

Well, lightning is suddenly all over Cincinnati, Ohio. The Hamilton County Board of Elections is investigating 19 possible cases of alleged voter fraud that occurred when Ohio was a focal point of the 2012 presidential election. A total of 19 voters and nine witnesses are part of the probe.

Democrat Melowese Richardson has been an official poll worker for the last quarter century and registered thousands of people to vote last year. She candidly admitted to Cincinnati’s Channel 9 this week that she voted twice in the last election. Continue Reading

60

What Wondrous Love Is This?

Only God creates. The rest of us just copy.

Michelangelo

Something for the weekend.  What Wondrous Love Is This?  As we begin the Lenten system this video that melds together the hymn and Michelangelo’s Pieta strikes me as a good starting point.  I have always loved this sculpture.  Michelangelo I think wanted his Pieta to reflect the great victory gained by the Cross and not the torture that gaining the victory cost Christ.  The body of Jesus is shown as only slightly marred by the Crucifixion, and the Virgin is shown as youthful and beautiful, no doubt as she was at the birth of Christ.  The sculpture is doubtless false to history but true to the spiritual essence of what had just been accomplished:  victory over sin, over death and over the Fall.  May the joy that suffuses the Pieta be with all of us during Lent.

5

Of Abortionists, Dead Women and Media Complicity

 

 

One of the few remaining practitioners in this country of the black art of partial birth abortion, what the late pro-abort Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan referred to as “barely disguised infanticide”, is abortionist LeRoy Carhart.  This week a 29 year old woman died from a botched abortion he performed.  Journalist Robert Stacy McCain, in an eloquent and angry post, brings us the news, along with a searing attack on Carhart and the media that attempts to cover these crimes with silence in order to safeguard the sacred rite right of abortion:

Dr. LeRoy Carhart is one of America’s most notorious abortionists. He specializes in late-term abortion and, unless you actually know what’s involved in it, you cannot possibly imagine what a gruesome atrocity the bland phrase “late-term abortion” describes. Now, according to a report by Operation Rescue, a 29-year-old woman has died after Carhart performed such an atrocity at a Maryland clinic:

A 29-year old woman died [Thursday] as the result of fatal complications suffered during an abortion at 33 weeks that was done by LeRoy Carhart at Germantown Reproductive Health Center in Germantown, Maryland. . . . The woman, who came for a third trimester abortion from out-of-state, arrived at GRHC on Sunday and was seen by pro-life activists every day through Wednesday. Witnesses said she appeared “pale and weak.” Early Thursday morning, the woman began suffering chest pain and other discomforts. Her attempts to reach Carhart were unsuccessful. The woman was taken by her family from her hotel to a nearby hospital emergency room at approximately 5:00 a.m. Efforts by hospital staff to contact Carhart or get informational assistance from the abortion clinic were unsuccessful. The patient suffered massive internal bleeding into her abdominal cavity. She slipped into a Code Blue condition approximately six times before finally succumbing to her injuries at around 9:30 a.m. The case has been placed with the Medical Examiner for further investigation.

The “pro-life activists” who saw the woman at the Germantown clinic were pro-life protesters and “sidewalk counselors.” You may not realize it, but every abortion clinic in America is picketed every day by pro-life volunteers who attempt to dissuade women from terminating their pregnancies. I’ve met these clinic protesters and, contrary to media propaganda, they are not dangerous hate-filled fanatics. They are actually some of the kindest people you’d ever want to meet, as contrasted to the manifest evil of people like the butcher Dr. LeRoy Carhart: Continue Reading

18

The Clothes Have No Emperor

 

Yesterday, upon the stair,
I met a man who wasn’t there
He wasn’t there again today
I wish, I wish he’d go away

Hughes Mearnes

From Leon Panetta’s testimony yesterday on Benghazi:

Under questioning from Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) Panetta says that President Obama knew “generally” what US military assets were deployed in the region, but did not ask for specifics. He left the strategy, according to Panetta, “up to us,” meaning himself and military leadership. Panetta says that after the initial briefing, which took place at about 5 pm Washington time, he had no further communications at all with President Obama that night. The president never even called to ask how the attack was progressing. No one from the White House ever called later that night, according to Panetta, to inquire about the attack. President Obama went to bed that night not even knowing whether the Americans under assault had survived the attack. Continue Reading

10

Of Aging Porn Stars and Aging Ideologies

 

 

 

 

My alma mater, the University of Illinois, brought a 58 year old porn star, Annie Sprinkle, to campus to teach students young enough to be her grandkids about orgasms this week.  Go here to read the story in the campus newspaper The Daily IIllini, or as generations of U of I students have referred to it, The Daily Illiterate.

It would take a heart of stone and a mind of lead not to laugh at this feeble attempt to shock.  Annie Sprinkle, or Ellen F. Steinberg, her birth name, has been doing this schtick since long before most current U of I students were born.  Something that was shocking in the Seventies of the last century is completely old hat in the porn drenched Twenty-First century.  (The U of I having an abstinence activist speak would truly be a shocking event in our current amoral climate.)  So why bring her to the U of I?

Well, and do not laugh, the ostensible reason is diversity, at least accord to this blog entry by Jordan Glaser: Continue Reading

32

Lies of Omission

I’m fairly sure that anyone here is sufficiently “plugged in” to current politics enough to have heard about House member Gabby Gifford’s recent plea for further gun restrictions. I’m not sure what your local media is like, but there’s a fair chance that there was even a mention of Sarah Palin or at least some sort of “incitement” behind that shooter’s attack. Given the body count, it’s not too surprising.

Also recently mentioned, though only in passing, is that the guy who shot up the Family Research Council in DC was finally in court.  Honestly, my main memory of that was being on a family trip and wondering why the heck somebody targeting based on “anti-gay bias” would have bags of Chick-fil-A. I can remember a few commentators suggesting that it was some sort of cartoonish attempt at “blending in”– an indication of just how crazy his view of those who disagree is or was. “Hey, Chick-fil-a is ‘anti-gay’ the same way that the FRC is– they don’t support redefining marriage to fit current pop culture appeals. The Family Research Council even denies a man and woman are functionally identical to two guys or two gals, of all the nerve! They’ll never notice me coming in and killing people if I have suitable fast food bags!”   Not someone to take too seriously, even if he did have a gun. Continue Reading

7

Compare and Contrast

Stomach churning .  The video above shows General Martin E. Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, today attempting to evade any responsibility for the lack of action that claimed the lives of the two heroic Seals during the Benghazi September 11-12 attack.

“Why didn’t you put forces in place to be ready to respond?,” Senator John McCain asked the general.

Dempsey started, “Because we never received a request to do so, number one. And number two, we –”

McCain interrupted, “You never heard of Ambassador Stevens’s repeated warnings?”

“I had, through General Ham,” responded Dempsey, referring to the commander of AFRICOM. “But we never received a request for support from the State Department, which would have allowed us to put forces–”

“So it’s the State Department’s fault?”

“I’m not blaming the State Department,” Dempsey responded. Continue Reading

22

General Barrow on Women in Combat

Hattip to Matt Archbold at Creative Minority Report.  General Robert H. Barrow, 27th Commandant of the United States Marine Corps, testifies against women in combat in 1991.  Every word he said then is equally true today, but now our Generals and Admirals tend not to be war fighters like Barrow, but politicians in uniform.

Barrow was an expert on combat.  He dropped out of college in 1942 to enlist in the Marine Corps as a buck private who rose to drill instructor and then went to officers candidates’ school.  After he was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant he spent much of the War fighting behind Japanese lines in China as a guerilla.

During the Chosin Resevoir Campaign in Korea he and his company took the vital pass at Koto-ri against a larger and heavily fortified Communist Chinese force.  For this he earned the Navy Cross, the second highest award for valor in the Marine Corps.  Here is his Navy Cross citation:

The President of the United States takes pleasure in presenting the Navy Cross to Robert H. Barrow (0-23471), Captain, U.S. Marine Corps, for extraordinary heroism in connection with military operations against an armed enemy of the United Nations while serving as Commanding Officer of Company A, First Battalion, First Marines, FIRST Marine Division (Reinforced), in action against enemy aggressor forces in the vicinity of Koto-ri, Korea, on 9 and 10 December 1950. Ordered to seize and occupy the high ground on Hill 1081 dominating the pass below and held by a heavily-fortified, deeply-entrenched enemy of approximately battalion strength controlling all approaches to his company’s objective, Captain Barrow boldly led his company up the ice covered, windswept, razor backed ridge in a blinding snowstorm and, employing artillery, mortars and close air support, launched a well-coordinated attack. With his forward assault platoon suddenly brought under withering automatic weapons, small-arms and mortar fire from commanding ground as they moved along the narrow snow-covered ridge toward a bare mountain top studded with hostile bunkers and foxholes, he fearlessly advanced to the front under blistering shellfire, directing and deploying his men and shouting words of encouragement as they followed him to close with the enemy in furious hand-to-hand combat. Reorganizing his depleted units following the bitter conflict, he spearheaded a daring and skillful enveloping maneuver, striking the enemy by surprise on the right flank and destroying many emplacements as he continued the final drive up the steep slope in the face of heavy automatic weapons and grenade fire to secure the objective with a total loss to the enemy of more than 300 dead and wounded. By his gallant and forceful leadership, great personal valor and fortitude maintained in the face of overwhelming odds, Captain Barrow aided immeasurably in insuring the safe passage of the FIRST Marine Division through this hazardous pass, and his inspiring devotion to duty throughout reflects the highest credit upon himself and the United States Naval Service. Continue Reading

3

Jefferson Davis and the Suspension of Habeas Corpus

 

 

Continuing on with our examination of the suspension of habeas corpus during the Civil War, the first part of which may be read here, we turn to Jefferson Davis and the suspension of habeas corpus in the Confederacy.  The Confederate Constitution provided for the suspension of habeas corpus:

Sec. 9 (3) The privilege of the writ of habeas corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in cases of rebellion or invasion the public safety may require it.

On February 27, 1862 the Confederate Congress vested in Davis the power to suspend Habeas Corpus.  On March 1, 1862 Davis used this power, suspending the writ of Habeas Corpus and declaring martial law in a ten-mile radius around the City of Richmond.

Davis would use this power throughout the War, especially in regions where Unionist sentiment was strong, for example in East Tennessee where martial law was imposed and the writ of habeas corpus suspended in 1862. Continue Reading

3

Flim Flam Imam?

 Con Artist

 

 

Back in 2009 when the proposed construction of the Ground Zero Mosque was a hot topic I designated Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, the guiding force behind the project, the Flim Flam Imam because of his speaking of peace and ecumenicalism in the West while speaking quite another message to his funding sources in the Middle East.  If the allegations of a law suit are to be believed, there is another reason now to refer to him as the Flim Flam Imam:

 

 

Instead, the controversial imam used some of the cash to provide lavish gifts  and getaways to a woman identified as Evelyn Adorno, who shared “a personal  relationship with Rauf,” said Deak’s attorney, Jonathan Nelson.

Adorno lives in North Bergen, N.J. — the same town as the 64-year-old imam  and his wife, Daisy Khan.

The rest of the cash was spent on a luxury sports car, personal real estate  and entertainment for the imam and his wife, charges the 11-page lawsuit.

The religious leader’s largesse and expensive travel with Adorno, 57, came  despite the $50,138 annual salary he reported in Cordoba’s 2010 tax filing. Continue Reading

19

Ash-heap of History Speech

Today is my 56th birthday.  I share my birthday with the greatest president of my lifetime:  Ronald Reagan.  I thought he was a great president at the time, but as the years roll by my admiration for President Reagan only grows.  The above video is the famous “ash-heap of history” speech to the British parliament on June 8, 1982.  Widely derided by critics at the time, Reagan’s speech was eerily prophetic as the Soviet Union swiftly landed on the ash-head of history.  Here is the text of the speech: Continue Reading

19

Jane Austen is a Hot Button Issue?

Last week I wrote a post noting the two hundredth anniversary of the publication of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice.  I took the opportunity of mentioning that I found Austen boring and noted fairly vituperative criticisms of her by Twain and Emerson.  The reaction on this blog was restrained and got sidetracked into a debate about the Reformation in England and Protestantism and Catholicism.  So far, so normal.

I also put the post up at the American history blog Almost Chosen People that Paul Zummo and I run.  Almost Chosen People is a fairly sedate blog, unlike the raucous The American Catholic, where controversy rarely occurs and on the rare occasions when it does, it is usually about the Civil War.  I was therefore shocked when my light-hearted post aroused what for Almost Chosen People was a firestorm.  Here are the comments: Continue Reading

38

New Blog, Ron Paul & Other Things

Hello TAC. I haven’t been posting here as often as I once was since a) I wanted to get a new blog up and running and b) I am also going to be writing for Catholic Stand, and my first piece is appearing tomorrow.

My new blog is called “Liberty & Dignity.” It is not an explicitly Catholic blog, but it is devoted to a natural law/rights version of libertarianism called “paleo-libertarianism.” I distinguish paleo-libertarianism from other kinds of libertarianism in the following way: the paleo brand explicitly recognizes that liberty is a historical and cultural product as much as it is an abstract ideal, that it requires certain institutional prerequisites and supports, and that taken out of its proper context – like anything else – it can self-destruct. It is close to but not identical with paleo-conservatism.

My first article for Catholic Stand will explain how I believe all of this as a Catholic.

Now, onto the Ron Paul business. Obviously I don’t agree with many of the comments left on Paul Zummo’s post about Ron Paul being an inherently malicious person. At the same time, I found his comments to be wildly inappropriate and politically destructive, much like Todd Akin’s rape comments. His subsequent statements on his Facebook page really didn’t improve the situation either.

I am not too happy with his son either, for much different reasons, but you can read my blog to learn more about that.

Here at TAC and Catholic Stand I am going to continue focusing on the two issues that pose the greatest threat to religious liberty in our time: the HHS mandate and the “marriage equality” movement. I expect it will also be necessary to continue defending free markets and private property as our social democratic government continues its assault on both. Many Catholics still believe that they have a religious obligation to support a welfare state and open borders. These beliefs are toxic even if well-intended.

Well, that’s all for now. Let the comments roll.

6

King Philip

King Philip was there, wild and proud as he had been in life, with the great gash in his head that gave him his death wound.

Stephen Vincent Benet, The Devil and Daniel Webster

In his short story The Devil and Daniel Webster, Benet has Satan conjure up the damned souls of 12 villains from American history to serve as a jury in the case of Satan v. Jabez Stone. Only seven of these entities are named. This is the fifth in a series giving brief biographies of these men. Go here to read the biography of Simon Girty, here to read the “biography” of the Reverend John Smeet,  here to read the biography of Major Walter Butler and here to read the biography of Thomas Morton.  Our focus today is on King Philip.

Metacom, known to the white settlers as King Philip, was the second son of Massasoit, sachem of the Wampanoag, who had helped the Pilgrims survive during the first years of the colony.  He became chief in 1662 when his brother Wamsutta, King Alexander, died.  King Philip attempted to preserve peace with the whites.  The Wampanoag were in a bad strategic situation, squeezed between ever-increasing white settlements in the East and an ever-expanding Iroquois Confederacy in the West.  King Philip made major concessions to the whites, but war came anyway.

The great war of Seventeenth Century New England, King Philip’s War raged from 1675-1678 with the New England colonists, now numbering about 80,000, and their Mohican and Pequot allies confronting the  Wampanoag, Nipmuck, Podunk, Narragansett and Nashaway tribes.  The war was savage on both sides, with quarter rarely given.

The conflict began due to the suspicions of the New England colonists that Metacomet, named by them King Philip, Grand Sachem of the Wampanoag Confederacy, was attempting to rally the Indian tribes of New England into a great alliance for war against the whites.  John Sassamon, a Christian Indian, graduate of Harvard and an advisor to Metacomet, informed the Governor of Plymouth colony of this plan.  Metacomet was brought to trial in Plymouth.  Lacking evidence the court merely warned him that further rumors of plots by him could lead to severe consequences for the Wampanoag.  Continue Reading

62

Ron Paul Invokes Christ After Reveling in Soldier’s Death

This is how Ron Paul greeted the news of the murder of Navy Seal, Chris Kyle.

And here is Ron Paul attempting damage control:

As a veteran, I certainly recognize that this weekend’s violence and killing of Chris Kyle were a tragic and sad event. My condolences and prayers go out to Mr. Kyle’s family. Unconstitutional and unnecessary wars have endless unintended consequences. A policy of non-violence, as Christ preached, would have prevented this and similar tragedies. -REP

You know, at some point you just stop typing. Ron Paul should have done that at the words “Mr. Kyle’s family.” But he had to just double down in order to make a political point.

Perhaps Paul’s next step is to pay the man’s family a visit to pay his respects where he can tell Mr. Kyle’s widow and children that his dad had it coming to him.

2

HHS Revisited: The New “Compromise”

While anxiously awaiting a response from the USCCB to the new “modification” announced by the Obama Administration on Take-Out-The-Trash Friday, I found myself looking back at the initial set of thoughts that I put together almost a year ago to date.  I thought it worthwhile to revisit the concerns I had about the initial HHS Rule and the USCCB response to see if they still apply.

However, let me start with the term “accommodation.”  My fear that our country has been employing a “Leap Forward, Hop Back” strategy with most contemporary issues is illustrated perfectly in this health care debate.  The strategy is to make an absurd leap forward that is very difficult for a large portion of the population to swallow, and then to take a small hop back to “make up for it.”  The long term impact of this is the rapid accumulation of the forward motion and the acceptance of it by the American people under the guise that those in power have “compromised” by taking the small hop backwards.  What they forget is the the initial large step was no compromise in the first place.  It is worse than the old frog-in-boiling-water lesson.  You know the old wisdom: if you place a frog in boiling water it will jump out immediately, but if you place it in cool water and gradually increase the temperature, it will happily boil to death.  While others have applied this old adage to the current debate, I think it is actually worse than what it seems.  The “leap forward, hop back” is even more devious than the gradual-temperature-increase.  Instead of slowly boiling the frog so that he doesn’t realize it, this strategy is like raising the heat on the frog rapidly and just before it gets to the point of jumping out, drawing the heat back a little.  In this way, the frog not only boils to death without complaint, but it actually periodically thanks you for those brief moments of cool relief that you so generously offered.

The mere notion that the White House has “expanded the number of accommodations” to the HHS mandate is absurd in and of itself.  Since when is an “accommodation” for religious purposes even necessary?  The very language of “accommodation” makes the Administration seem so benevolent – it is the periodic cooling down of the frog.  What is continually lost on the President and his supporter is that the fundamental right to religious freedom guaranteed in our Constitution is prior to the faux right to free “health care.”  If the two were to be in conflict, it would be the latter that need accommodated, not the former.  (Now would be a good time to cynically remind ourselves that the President is a Constitutional Lawyer.)  The so-called “right to health care” is mentioned nowhere in the Constitution and should thus, under the Tenth Amendment be left to the States and be subject to those rights that are federally guaranteed, including those in the First Amendment.  Notice that I am not saying that people should not have access to affordable health care, only that this is not the role of the Federal Government.  This act of “generosity” by the Administration is nothing of the sort.  It is essentially a concession that, “We promise to violate the rights of a smaller number of people than we intended before.”  An accommodation should not be necessary as religious freedom is guaranteed to all citizens.

With that, let’s turn to my comments from a year ago.  I made three points – the original text is in bold

1.  Religious Liberty is an Individual Freedom.

It seems to me that the focus of the national Catholic conversation has been on the Obama administration’s violation of the freedom of religion by forcing Catholic institutions such as hospitals and universities to provide employees with contraceptives and sterilizations, a practice that is in clear contradiction to the teachings of our faith.  While this is certainly deplorable and the most overt violation of the First Amendment, what has been relatively missing from the dialog is that religious liberty is not merely a liberty granted to religious organizations.  First and foremost, religious liberty is an individual liberty.  Each and every citizen of our nation is guaranteed under the Constitution the freedom to practice one’s religion both publicly and privately and to not be coerced into violating our consciences by acting in a way contradictory to the tenants of one’s faith.

Thus, the HHS rule is not simply a violation against specifically religious organizations.  It is also a violation of the religious liberty of the individual business owner, Catholic or otherwise.  As a Catholic, the owner of a private business cannot, under the Constitution, be compelled by the government to pay for “medical” services that violate his or her faith, including contraceptives and sterilizations.  This applies not only to those companies that have a religious mission, such as EWTN or the Knights of Columbus, but also to the owner of a chain of restaurants, a manufacturing form, or an publishing company.  Further, it also applies to the faithful Catholic owner of a medical insurance company.  Forcing the insurance company to provide coverage for these services despite religious beliefs, is a clear violation of the protection guaranteed under the First Amendment.

My fear is simple.  If the conversation focusses exclusively on those organizations for which Bishops have direct involvement, we may very well see further “compromise” between the Obama administration and the USCCB, but tens of thousands of other Catholic business owners will be lost in the shuffle.  In fact, I will go so far as to say that even if the HHS does a complete 180 on the current issue, i.e. incorporating Catholic hospitals and universities in the exemption clause without the bogus compromise that forces the insurance companies to cover the costs and services … even then, the fight is not over.  Because even then there will be thousands of businesses who are not included in the exemption clause because business activities have no specifically religious purpose.  Yet these owners too have the right to practice their religion, and hence should not and cannot be compelled to act in a way contrary to their faith.

Looking back, my fear seems well-founded.  The cynic in me believes that the Obama Administration is not offering a “compromise” but rather clearing the legal playing field of all competition.  While I am not a lawyer, it seems likely that Notre Dame, EWTN, schools and hospitals may now be exempt under the revised accommodation and therefore not have standing in court.  A more sophisticated legal analysis will flush this out, but it seems abundantly clear that the private for-profit business owner will still not be exempt and will be forced to violate their moral consciences.  And the problem of the Catholic owner of a medical insurance company still remains a very large problem, hitherto unaddressed in the national conversation, for under the law they are forced to comply with this mandate in a manner altogether different, and more directly than the employer.  (Here is where I would love to see the Knights of Columbus, who have a history in the life insurance industry, begin to offer medical insurance and refuse to sell plans that cover contraceptives and abortion services, if only to give them standing in court.)

I understand why the USCCB rhetoric focusses on specific arms of the Catholic Church (schools, universities, parishes, dioceses, hospitals, etc.), which presumedly was because these are the easiest legal battles to win.  However from the perspective of moral philosophy, the emphasis seems misplaced.  A moral conscience is something possessed by an individual.  The reason why the mandate for a Catholic University is unjust has less to do with the fact that the institution is formally associated with the Catholic Church and more to do with the fact that the individuals who run it and make decisions of what health insurance to purchase are Catholics who feel that they cannot comply without violating the moral code.  While an institution, religious or otherwise, can be said to have some sort of “collective conscience,” this is only by analogy to an actual conscience possessed by an individual.  Further, it is the individual that is protected by the Bill of Rights.

Granted, the interference of the government in an official religious institution brings with it a whole different set of problems and violations of the Constitution, so I am not necessarily faulting the bishops on their focus on this aspect of the mandate.  However, they will certainly need to revise their rhetoric, and they now risk looking like the “side that refuses to compromise with a very measured and reasonable President.”

 

2.  There is a Silver Lining.

The felix culpa effect never ceases to amaze me.  God can bring good out of the most heinous evils, the case and point being the crucifixion.  The silver lining to the current HHS tragedy is the unified effort of the Catholic Episcopacy.  While the thought that the Obama administration feels that it can abuse its power in this manner terrifies me, the response by the Bishops has given me great cause for joy.  When the Bishop’s letter was read from the pulpit two weeks ago, the congregation applauded.  It is a powerful moment for the Church.

In hindsight, while I still applaud the bishops for their effort, we now have the results of the national election to help frame their response.  It is clear that the American political scene as well as the 50% of Catholics who still voted for President Obama that the bishops are not being taken seriously.  I think that they have underestimated the effects of a decades-long silence, something that cannot be broken in a single election cycle.  While they are to be commended for stepping up to the plate, they are not miraculously immune from the cement that has been allowed to dry and and cure for nearly half a century.  They will eventually be able to break it apart, but it cannot be done in one summer.  They will need to continue chipping away at this in order to regain credibility among the Catholic faithful.  Until that happens – until an election can actually be influenced by the episcopacy – the Democratic party has no reason to change course, and the “leap forward, hop back” strategy will continue to be highly effective.

 

3.  “Health Care” is being Redefined.

My final point has been mentioned by several others, but it warrants reiteration.  There is a not-so-subtle redefinition of “health care” in this whole debate.  There is a certain amount of irony that under the president’s health care bill and the accompanying HHS ruling, I will not be able to receive Tylenol or toothpaste for free, but women will be able to receive birth control and abortifacients for free.  Tylenol is a drug that actually tries to cure something that is “wrong” with the body, and toothpaste is authentically “preventative” in terms of dental health problems.  Yet birth control and abortifacients have little to do with the health of the body.  In fact, they are often used for reproductive systems that are otherwise heathy.  They are designed to take a perfectly healthy and well-functioning bodily system and stop it from functioning how it should.  Since when did fertility and pregnancy become a disease?  Since when is birth control more “preventative” than toothpaste and abortifacients more of a “cure” than Tylenol.

Looking back, the Democratic party has been marvelous in recasting this issue.  The Sandra Flukes of the world have become the mouthpieces for this rebranding.  People genuinely believe that contraceptive services are a part health care.  What is perhaps most amazing, however, is how the Obama Administration has not only managed to classify contraception as health services, but they have actually managed to give it a priority even over actual health care.

From what I understand, under the revised accommodation, if an employer is “generously” exempted from the mandate, the organization will be permitted to purchase a health care plan that does not include contraceptive services.  In this case, however, the insurer will be required to offer a separate plan to the employees that does provide such services (and here’s the kicker) at no cost and with no copay.  It continues to amaze me how the Administration has been able to convince the American people that something can actually be free.  So long as a product involves resources, material or human, it literally cannot be free.  So the question is: who is actually paying for the service?  It won’t be the insurance company, for their bottom line will simply incorporate the cost into the original plan, or spread it out over everyone’s plans.  We have then come full circle on the original problem: an exemption is an exemption in name only – the employer is still paying the cost of the contraceptives.  It reminds me of the clothing company which advertises “buy one suit get one free,” when all they have done is to double the price of suits.  So the consumer is still paying the same amount, but they have been coerced into purchasing two suits rather than one.  (This, by the way, is illegal and considered false advertising, yet when applied to the HHS mandate it is seem as a “compromise.”  Leap forward, hop back.

The real absurdity, however, is in the “no copay” clause.  When I go to the doctor for pneumonia and get an antibiotic, we have a copay.  When my kid gets a breathing treatment for his asthma, we have a copay.  When my wife gives birth to a child, we have a copay.  Yet under the Obama plan, contraceptives must be offered with no copay.  Thus, not only have contraceptives been successfully cast as health care, but they have actually been cast as health care that is so essential that it should not even have a copay.  It has been prioritized over those things that actually are clear examples of health care.  So it seems that being able to have sex without consequences is more important than whether my three-year-old can breath properly.

The genius of this Administration lies in its rhetoric and manipulation.  They have begun the conversation with such an absurd proposal, that most of the American people will now not only accept the compromise, but also applaud the President for his ability to “meet in the middle,” and all the while the main issues are being eclipsed by meaningless details.  Undoubtedly, those of us, which may very well include the USCCB, who still find fault with the HHS proposal will be cast as ideologues unwilling to compromise.  Indeed, I think the President very much had us in mind during his inauguration address when he said, “We cannot mistake absolutism for principle.”

The Democratic genius: leap forward, hop back.

6

CatholicTV Interviews Dave Hartline of The Catholic Tide Continues to Turn

Our very own Dave Hartline talks to CatholicTV on their ClearVoice™ program concerning his new book, The Catholic Tide Continues to Turn.

CatholicTV is the oldest Catholic TV network in the United States having been launched on January 1, 1955 by the Archdiocese of Boston.  58 years later they are still in operation, available on cable and via the Internet; in HDTV as well!  They are called America’s Catholic Television Network with their studios and offices located in Watertown, Massachusetts.

1

Body of Richard III Identified

History is always a subject without end.  The body of the last Plantagenet king of England, Richard III has been identified:

 

“The verification came after scientific tests were used to match DNA samples taken from Canadian-born Michael Ibsen, a direct descendent of Anne of York, Richard’s elder sister.

“For me it’s an absolute privilege to be a part, even in a small way, of such a historically significant series of events,” said Ibsen, a furniture-maker in London.

The debate that has risen out of this finding has provoked the nation to rethink the legacy of Richard III, cast in British history by Shakespeare as a deformed villain, who locked his young nephews — rivals to the throne — in the Tower of London, where they are thought to have met their demise.

Richard III’s grave, which was found underneath the Leicester site in the remains of Greyfriars friary, had been lost during the religious reforms of Henry VIII. Richard, the last king of England to fall on the battlefield, was slain in the 1485 Battle of Bosworth Field while defending his crown against the raiding upstart, Henry VII. He was famously depicted in Shakespeare’s “Richard III” crying out before his death: “A horse! A horse! My kingdom for a horse!”” Continue Reading

4

Meanwhile, Back at the States

 

 

 

It is an odd thing about the United States that the activities of the Federal government tends to dominate news coverage, while the activities of the States get short shrift.  I say this is odd, because State government still tends to impact the lives of most Americans far more than the Federal government.  This can give us a rather distorted view of what is going on in the country.  Conn Carroll in an editorial in the Washington Examiner, reports on a largely unknown story as far as most of the national media is concerned:

 

The United States faces a crisis in our political system,” the Washington Post’s E.J. Dionne wrote last December, “because the Republican Party is no longer a normal, governing party.”

Dionne is half-right. The United States does face a crisis in our political system. Last week, Pew released a new study showing that trust in the federal government remains near all-time lows. Worse, for the first time ever, Pew found that a majority of Americans believe the federal government threatens their personal rights and freedoms.

And it is not just Republicans who now see the federal government as a threat. A full 55 percent of independents agree with them, up from just 50 percent only two years ago.

But the story is completely different at the state and local level. According to a September 2012 Gallup poll, a full 65 percent of Americans trust their state government — a 14-point jump in confidence from 2009.

Why is Americans’ confidence in state and local government surging while their frustration and fear of the federal government are growing? Maybe it has something to do with the fact that Republicans govern at the state level.

Republicans currently occupy the governor’s mansions in 30 states, representing 58 percent of the U.S. population. They control both the governorship and legislature in 25 states, representing 52 percent of all Americans. Democrats enjoy such control of only 14 states, representing just 33 percent of the country. Continue Reading

8

One Hundredth Anniversary of the 16th Amendment

 

Drape the windows and doors in black!  Today is the one hundredth anniversary of the ratification of the 16th Amendment that allowed the implementation of the Federal Income Tax.  Last week I prepared my income tax returns.  I usually have fairly complicated returns, but I am always amazed that after thirty years as an attorney I still come across sections of the returns and instructions that are literally incomprehensible.  All those who have a similar reaction are in good company.  Leo Mattersdorf prepared the tax returns for Albert Einstein.  Einstein made this remark during a lunch one time to Mattersdorf: Continue Reading

10

Battle of Athens

We the people are the rightful masters of both Congress and the courts, not to overthrow the Constitution but to overthrow the men who pervert the Constitution.

Abraham Lincoln

The veterans of World War II are now old, and mostly frail.  It is hard to remember them as most of them were during the War:  young, tough and determined.  After they got home, those who made it through the War, they would make many changes in our society, as they proved themselves to be one of the most consequential generations in American history.  On August 1-2, 1946, veterans in Athens, Tennessee demonstrated just how consequential.

Athens is the county seat of McMinn County in Eastern Tennessee, between Knoxville and Chattanooga.  Since the Civil War, up to the 1930s, McMinn County, like most of Eastern Tennessee, was largely Republican, reflecting the pro Union stance of their ancestors during the War.  With the coming of the Great Depression, Democrat political machines began to take power in much of Eastern Tennessee.  Many of these local machines were quite corrupt.  Paul Cantrell was elected Sheriff as a Democrat in 1936.  Cantrell came from a family of power and influence.  Many locals suspected that his election was a fraud, with ballot boxes having been switched to give Cantrell the victory.

Cantrell after the election became virtual dictator of McMinn County.  He and his deputies collected vast sums by shaking down citizens for petty offenses.  Buses passing through the County would be stopped by deputies and the passengers subjected to on the spot fines for pretended misdemeanors.  Cantrell fostered prostitution, gambling and bars throughout the County, carefully receiving his cut of the proceeds.   After 1936 elections were farcial with ballot boxes confiscated from precincts by Cantrell’s deputies and the counting, supposed to be done in public under Tennessee law, conducted behind locked doors in the McMinn County jail.  With the Tennessee Democrat governor a firm political friend of Cantrell, the citizens opposed to Cantrell and his de facto dictatorship were helpless.  The Justice Department investigated the County on charges of vote fraud in 1940, 1942 and 1944, but without any prosecutions.  Cantrell was elected to the State Senate in 1942 and 1944.  His deputy Pat Mansfield was elected sheriff.  Whatever office he held, everyone in McMinn County knew that Cantrell continued to call the tune.

However, change was coming.  McMinn County had a military tradition.  It had sided with the Union in the Civil War, and in 1898 it had declared war against Spain two weeks before Congress did!  During World War II, some 3,526 of McMinn County’s young men went off to fight, representing some ten percent of the entire population of the Country.  When those who survived the War came back they had changed, as Paul Cantrell was going to find out. Continue Reading

17

Demographic Decline: The Reason That Dare Not Speak Its Name

 

 

Well what do you know, a recent spate of articles has recognized what many of us have known for decades:  Overpopulation is a myth and an ever-increasing decline in births is a bitter reality.  Typical of these articles is one by Jonathan V. Last in The Wall Street Journal:

America’s fertility rate began falling almost as soon as the nation was founded. In 1800, the average white American woman had seven children. (The first reliable data on black fertility begin in the 1850s.) Since then, our fertility rate has floated consistently downward, with only one major moment of increase—the baby boom. In 1940, America’s fertility rate was already skirting the replacement level, but after the war it jumped and remained elevated for a generation. Then, beginning in 1970, it began to sink like a stone.

There’s a constellation of reasons for this decline: Middle-class wages began a long period of stagnation. College became a universal experience for most Americans, which not only pushed people into marrying later but made having children more expensive. Women began attending college in equal (and then greater) numbers than men. More important, women began branching out into careers beyond teaching and nursing. And the combination of the birth-control pill and the rise of cohabitation broke the iron triangle linking sex, marriage and childbearing.

This is only a partial list, and many of these developments are clearly positive. But even a social development that represents a net good can carry a serious cost. Continue Reading

4

Slattery’s Mounted Foot

Something for the weekend.  Slattery’s Mounted Foot.  The Irish have always had a talent for humorous self mockery.  One of the masters of this art was Percy French who lived from 1854-1920 and wrote many humorous songs, gently poking fun at the foibles of the Irish.  My favorite is Slattery’s Mounted Foot:

You’ve heard of Julius Ceasar and the great Napoleon too,

And how the Cork militia beat the Turks at Waterloo;

But there’s a page of glory that as yet remains uncut,

And that’s the warlike story of old Slattery’s Mounted Fut. Continue Reading

15

Quid est veritas?

Please allow me to introduce myself 
I’m a man of wealth and taste 
I’ve been around for a long, long year 
Stole many a man’s soul and faith 
And I was round when Jesus Christ 
Had his moment of doubt and pain 
Made damn sure that Pilate 
Washed his hands and sealed his fate

Undoubtedly most of you are aware that Archbishop Jose Gomez of Los Angles has stripped Roger Cardinal Mahony of all public duties. If not, here is the story.

Los Angeles Archbishop Jose Gomez announced Thursday that Cardinal Roger Mahony would have a reduced role in the church and that Santa Barbara Bishop Thomas J. Curry has stepped down from that job amid recent revelations over their handling of the priest abuse scandal in the 1980s.

“Effective immediately, I have informed Cardinal Mahony that he will no longer have any administrative or public duties. Auxiliary Bishop Thomas Curry has also publicly apologized for his decisions while serving as Vicar for Clergy. I have accepted his request to be relieved of his responsibility as the Regional Bishop of Santa Barbara,” Gomez wrote in a letter.

Cardinal Mahony published this private letter to Archbishop Gomez on his blog:

Continue Reading

13

Is a Concealed Carry Law Necessary?

In 2004, the State of Ohio became the thirty-seventh state to pass some form of concealed carry legislation, under which persons may carry concealed firearms.  Shortly after, William Michael, an attorney from Columbus published an article in the Akron Law Review.  His thesis is simple.  While some gun rights advocates endorse concealed carry legislation, this demonstrates how far we have come from the original intent of the Second Amendment.   “Given the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution, such legislation appears unnecessary since individuals have a constitutional right to carry firearms.”

Mr. Michael lays out a simple and logical argument in three steps.  After reciting a litany of positions contrary to the idea that every American has the right to own a firearm, the Columbus lawyer begins his own argument by examining the actual text of the Second Amendment.

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

The text itself suggests two fundamental questions.  (1) What is the right protected?  (2) Whose right is it?  Regarding the first question, a plain reading of the text indicates that right being protected is the “right to keep and bear Arms.”  Regarding the second question, the text indicates that it is specifically “the right of the people.”

As simple as it sounds, this is a critical starting place because it is not uncommon for legal scholars to claim that the right protected under the Second Amendment is a collective right that only belongs to “the Militia,” which moreover is given existence only after being organized by the State.  Thus, “who” is protected under the Second Amendment is only organized Militia, and in some authors’ legal analysis only those Militia that are organized by the State.

Michael offers several arguments in addition to the straightforward language of the Amendment itself.  First, the meaning of “the people” as individuals has never been questioned in the FIrst, Fourth, Ninth, or Tenth Amendments, so there is no reason to question it in the Second.  Thus, even though scholars and courts have argued that the Second Amendment protects only the rights of States or collective rights of certain groups, “collective rights are antithetical to the familiar notion of individual rights in the United States.  They very inclusion of the right to keep and bear arms in the Bill of Rights indicates that the framers of the Constitution considered it an individual right.”  The Bill of Rights is a clear listing of individual rights, and since the Second Amendment is included in this document, the phrase “the people” should be interpreted in a manner consistent with the rest of the document.  That is to say, if the understanding of “the people” in the First, Fourth, Ninth, and Tenth Amendments is individual Americans, then so too should the phrase be interpreted in the Second Amendment.

Of course, some will still adamantly argue that the inclusion of the clause “a well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State” is enough to mitigate the definition of “the people.”  Yet the whole tenor of the Bill of Rights, as well as similar grammatical structures found throughout the Constitution, dictates that we understand this clause not as a modifier to “the people” but rather to be an indication of why individuals have the right to keep and bear arms.

There are also contrary opinion of how to understand the phrase “a well regulated Militia.”  Jack Rakove (cited by Michael) asserts that “any reader of Article I, Section 8 [which empowers Congress to call forth the Militia to execute the laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions] would find it hard to deny that the text there considers the militia not as an unorganized mass of the citizenry but as an institution subject to close legislative regulation” (emphasis added).  However, Michael levels two criticisms against this.  First, the clause suggests that the militia exists before being called to defend the country, and therefore individuals do not become a militia only when employed and organized by the country.  Second, Article I, Section 8 also gives Congress the power to “provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining, the Militia,” which indicates further that the Militia exists before organization, otherwise the power to organize and discipline it would be superfluous.  Finally, because the Tenth Amendment already delegates the power to maintain state militias (because is is expressly not delegated to the federal government), a reading of the Second Amendment as one that gives States the power to organize militias would be redundant and unnecessary.  Clearly something else must be going on the Second Amendment, which is precisely the individual right to keep and bear arms.

The second step in Michael’s argument is to examine the intent of the Framers of the Constitution.  Madison’s original version, which he proposed to be put in Article I, Section 9, read: “The right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed; a well-armed, and well regulated militia being the best security of a free country.”  The revision cycle that the Article went through demonstrates that the intent, which in its original wording clearly spells out an individual right, does not change with the reordering of the clauses.  The very fact that Madison wanted to place this in Section 9 is even more evidence, for this is one of the few places in the original Constitution that protects individual rights.  Further, the Senate rejected a proposal to add the phrase “for common defense” after “to keep and bear arms,” which demonstrates that the Senate did not want to narrow an individual’s right to keep and bear arms to only those situations that provide for the “common defense.”

The context in which the Constitution was written also demonstrates the Founders’ intention of maintaining an individual right to keep and bear arms.  They were quite skeptical of government’s potential to become tyrannical, and they believed that an armed citizenry would protect against such tyranny.  Perhaps the most entertaining line of the Michael article comes at the end of this section: “Daniel Polsby once asserted that no ambiguity at all surrounds the attitude of the constitutional generation concerning the right of the people to keep and bear arms.  To put the matter bluntly, the Founders of the United States were what we would nowadays call gun nuts.”

The final step for Mr. Michael is to examine the right to concealed carry as a right protected under the Second Amendment and therefore in no need of State legislation.  The argument boils down to the deliberate distinction between “keep” and “bear.”  To “keep” arms means to have passive, custodial possession of them, such as keeping them in the house.  To “bear,” however, implicates a more active conduct, which suggests the “active, exhibitory use of arms.”  Michael offers examples such as “he came bearing gifts.”  Thus, there are two rights being spelled out in the Second Amendment, the first being the right to essentially own firearms, and the second being the right to carry them, which Michael extends to concealed carry.

The author laments that much of the dialog and scholarship about the Second Amendment devolves into questioning authorial motives and a debate over the Constitution as a document that is “living” or one that is to be read in accordance with the original intent.  However, “such critiques reveal a weakness in the argument of those opposed to gun ownership – if the text and history of the Second Amendment supported their position, they would not resort to the living constitution argument.”

I will let Mr. Michael have the final word:

Concealed carry statutes appear to presuppose that individuals cannot carry concealed weapons but for the statutes. As described herein, such a presupposition may be inconsistent with the Second Amendment’s text. If it is, concealed carry statutes should be viewed as regulation of the preexisting, constitutional right to carry concealed weapons and, accordingly, should be subject to judicial scrutiny with the same level of vigor as any other statute regulating a constitutional right.

 

7

ObamaCare: What a Deal!

 

According to the IRS, the cheapest ObamaCare health care plan for a family of four in 2016 will be $20,000.00 per year.  Penalties for not having health insurance could cost you over two grand.

The examples point to families of four and families of five, both of which the IRS expects in its assumptions to pay a minimum of $20,000 per year for a bronze plan.

“The annual national average bronze plan premium for a family of 5 (2 adults, 3 children) is $20,000,” the regulation says.

Bronze will be the lowest tier health-insurance plan available under Obamacare–after Silver, Gold, and Platinum. Under the law, the penalty for not buying health insurance is supposed to be capped at either the annual average Bronze premium, 2.5 percent of taxable income, or $2,085.00 per family in 2016.

In the new final rules published Wednesday, IRS set in law the rules for implementing the penalty Americans must pay if they fail to obey Obamacare’s mandate to buy insurance.

To help illustrate these rules, the IRS presented examples of different situations families might find themselves in.

In the examples, the IRS assumes that families of five who are uninsured would need to pay an average of $20,000 per year to purchase a Bronze plan in 2016.

Using the conditions laid out in the regulations, the IRS calculates that a family earning $120,000 per year that did not buy insurance would need to pay a “penalty” (a word the IRS still uses despite the Supreme Court ruling that it is in fact a “tax”) of $2,400 in 2016. Continue Reading

4

The Second Amendment and Racism

Actor Danny Glover recently stepped outside of his role as an actor and assumed the roles of historian and constitutional scholar:

I don’t know if you know the genesis of the  right to bear arms,’ said Glover, well known for his roles in the ‘Lethal  Weapon’ franchise. ‘The Second Amendment  comes from the right to protect themselves from slave revolts, and from  uprisings by Native Americans,’ he said.

‘A revolt from people who were stolen from  their land or revolt from people whose land was stolen from, that’s what the  genesis of the second amendment is.’

Glover should stick to his day job.  The main concern of the Founding Fathers in regard to the Second Amendment was to provide the citizenry the ability to resist a tyrannical government.  As James Madison noted in Federalist 46:

Besides the advantage of being armed, which the Americans possess over the people of almost every other nation, the existence of subordinate governments, to which the people are attached, and by which the militia officers are appointed, forms a barrier against the enterprises of ambition, more insurmountable than any which a simple government of any form can admit of. Notwithstanding the military establishments in the several kingdoms of Europe, which are carried as far as the public resources will bear, the governments are afraid to trust the people with arms. And it is not certain, that with this aid alone they would not be able to shake off their yokes. But were the people to possess the additional advantages of local governments chosen by themselves, who could collect the national will and direct the national force, and of officers appointed out of the militia, by these governments, and attached both to them and to the militia, it may be affirmed with the greatest assurance, that the throne of every tyranny in Europe would be speedily overturned in spite of the legions which surround it. Let us not insult the free and gallant citizens of America with the suspicion, that they would be less able to defend the rights of which they would be in actual possession, than the debased subjects of arbitrary power would be to rescue theirs from the hands of their oppressors. Let us rather no longer insult them with the supposition that they can ever reduce themselves to the necessity of making the experiment, by a blind and tame submission to the long train of insidious measures which must precede and produce it.

Prior to the Civil War there were laws passed in many of the slave holding states attempting to restrict the right to keep and bear arms to whites.  Challenges to these laws by free blacks almost always asserted the second amendment.  A passage in the Dred Scott decision indicates what a preoccupation blacks carrying weapons was to slaveholders:

It would give to persons of the negro race, who were recognized as citizens in any one State of the Union, the right to enter every other State whenever they pleased, singly or in companies, without pass or passport, and without obstruction, to sojourn there as long as they pleased, to go where they pleased at every hour of the day or night without molestation, unless they committed some violation of law for which a white man would be punished; and it would give them the full liberty of speech in public and in private upon all subjects upon which its own citizens might speak; to hold public meetings upon political affairs, and to keep and carry arms wherever they went. And all of this would be done in the face of the subject race of the same color, both free and slaves, inevitably producing discontent and insubordination among them, and endangering the peace and safety of the State. Continue Reading