Justice Breyer, the Second Amendment and Federalist 46

Thursday, June 16, AD 2016

(This post was originally published in 2010.  Since the Democrats are making renewed attempts in the wake of the Orlando shootings to amend the Bill of Rights, I thought I would publish it again.)

 

Justice Stephen Breyer of the US Supreme Court has never been a fan of the Second Amendment.  On Fox News on Sunday he made an historical claim that I would like to analyze in this post.

Madison “was worried about opponents who would think Congress would call up state militias and nationalize them. ‘That can’t happen,’ said Madison,” said Breyer, adding that historians characterize Madison’s priority as, “I’ve got to get this document ratified.”

Therefore, Madison included the Second Amendment to appease the states, Breyer said.

I assume that the Justice is referring to Federalist 46 written by James Madison, and which may be read here.  (I apologize in advance to our resident blog expert on the Federalist papers Paul Zummo.  Paul, if you see any mistakes on my part in the following, please let me have it!)

The Justice is correct that many in the states were concerned that the proposed new federal government would have too much power, and Federalist 46 was written to help allay those concerns.

The only refuge left for those who prophesy the downfall of the State governments is the visionary supposition that the federal government may previously accumulate a military force for the projects of ambition.

Madison realized that this was a sensitive point.  The American Revolution had only ended five years before, and the attempt by Great Britain to rule through military force was a raw memory for all of his readers.  Madison tackles this fear head on by comparing the military force of a standing federal army to the militias of the states:

Let a regular army, fully equal to the resources of the country, be formed; and let it be entirely at the devotion of the federal government; still it would not be going too far to say, that the State governments, with the people on their side, would be able to repel the danger. The highest number to which, according to the best computation, a standing army can be carried in any country, does not exceed one hundredth part of the whole number of souls; or one twenty-fifth part of the number able to bear arms. This proportion would not yield, in the United States, an army of more than twenty-five or thirty thousand men. To these would be opposed a militia amounting to near half a million of citizens with arms in their hands, officered by men chosen from among themselves, fighting for their common liberties, and united and conducted by governments possessing their affections and confidence. It may well be doubted, whether a militia thus circumstanced could ever be conquered by such a proportion of regular troops. Those who are best acquainted with the last successful resistance of this country against the British arms, will be most inclined to deny the possibility of it.

So far so good for Justice Breyer.  However, he misses completely the import of other things that Madison says 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.

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18 Responses to Justice Breyer, the Second Amendment and Federalist 46

  • Madison, my fellow Virginian, was trying hard, but the first part of that argument was weak. As it turned out, the federal government had no difficulty raising a very large army (aided by some states) and using it to defeat a collection of some state armies in the 1860s. Also, that war demonstrated the implausability that a ragtag force of untrained militia, ill-armed and supplied, could stand against a federal army trained, superbly supplied and equipped, and backed by nearly limitless industrial output.

    The ability and willingness of the federal government to train, equip, and field an enormous army and navy decidedly and definitively led to the overthrow of state governments, contra Madison’s assurance, his own state’s government being one that suffered “downfall” at the hands of such an army.

    There are of course other vital and important reasons for the Second Amendment. Our Founders, having witnessed Culloden and the subsequent disarming of the Scots highlanders, knew well the importance of guaranteeing the right to keep arms. But Madison was factually incorrect that the federal government could never raise an army sufficient to overcome state opposition and crush a state if it so desired.

    That indeed, so we’re told, is the lesson the Civil War: state insurrection is now illegal *because* the federal government can crush it.

  • Tom, the Union army consisted, except for the US Colored Troops and the miniscule regular army, of volunteer regiments raised by the states. But for popular enthusiasm for the War in the North, the federal government would have been helpless to put down the Confederate insurrection. Additionally, if there had been the will in the South to fight a guerilla war of decades in length the Union victory would have proven ephemeral. Even with fairly low level violence the federal government ultimately tired of keeping troops in the South to maintain the civil rights of blacks and to support “carpetbag” governments. I think that Madison proved prophetic.

  • CT and NY, during the Sandy Hook hysteria, knee-jerk banned “assault rifles.” The results are hundreds of thousands of newly-minted, at-large felons.
    .
    What’s the assault trifle murder rate in Switzerland where nearly every able-bodied man, and some women, has in the home an assault rifle, magazines, and hundreds of rounds of military ammunition?
    .
    Breyer had a firm grasp of the obvious. The Constitution would not have been ratified without the ten Amendments in the Bill of Rights.
    .
    FYI – the Second Amendment right is one of them “unalienable” rights, which I was given by God.
    .
    FYI – The word “people” used in the Bill is individual not collective.
    .
    “Well-regulated” didn’t have the same connotation as today’s mindset of 6 trillion regulation controlling every facet of life.
    .
    This gun control chimera is solely meant to divert attention from the real problems.
    .
    You are far more likely to be knifed (1,567 murders), beaten (660 murders), or blunt object (435 murders) to death than be shot with a high-magazine capacity assault rifle (all long rifle murders – 248 murders).

  • Those statistics were for 2014.

  • Ladies and gentlemen (and you others who don’t own any firearms), why are you preaching to the choir? It is easy to poke holes in the silly comments made by people who do not really understand firearms. Those holes are ignored by the majority of people.

    The answer to the question “When will these mass (and media-loved) shootings stop?” is not being answered by pro-Second Amendment advocates. These shootings are fraying – or are being used to fray – the very fabric of the Constitution itself. The majority of people want these shootings to stop, and they are getting to the point where they do not care if the Constitution is endangered to do so. So, it is time to come up with ways to stop them, or most of them, without destroying our rights, or it is time to watch our rights disappear.

  • Sure. Bring back insane asylums and allow for the involuntary institutionalization of the mentally ill. That would stop most of the mass shootings. The deinstitutionalization movement of the 40’s and 50’s is one of the more pernicious reform movements in US history.

    As for the so-called majority in favor of gun control, that is one of the most risible myths in American politics. Slanted media polls tell us nothing about the intensity on an issue, and when it comes to the Second Amendment the intensity, and political strength, is substantially with the defenders of the Bill of Rights.

  • Don:
    1) Your mental health proposals are not enough, since they require us to return to 1940’s and 50’s standards of identification and treatment of the mentally ill. There is no consensus to do that. I have seen time and time again how families avoid even the modest resources that are now available so as to ‘mainstream’ their disturbed children. I know this firsthand, not only because my wife deals with this every day, but also because a close friend knew the Sandy Hook shooter’s family. Your proposal will not work any better than the stupid CDC policy of getting pediatricians to ask “Are there guns in the house?”

    2) Yes, in broad strokes the majority of people want no expansion of gun control today. That does not mean that cannot change tomorrow, and it does not mean that seemingly small measures cannot be forced down people’s throats, such as happened with the 1994 ‘assault’ rifle ban. The Senate just caved into the Democrat’s gun control filibuster yesterday – what will come of that? It only takes one Reichstag fire.
    If the young people of 2016 can turn so anti-capitalism, then certainly the young people of 2030 can turn against the Second amendment. Your objection may not be true much longer.

  • Brief but brilliant — the linked law review article below is IMO the best piece on the Second Amendment ever written.

    http://www.constitution.org/cmt/alstyne_2nd.htm

    I was fortunate to have been taught con law by Wm Van Alstyne — a true honest liberal. A life-long left-leaning Democrat, Van Alstyne is first and foremost a scholar of the highest rank. He pulled no punches on the lawlessness of Roe v Wade, for instance — notwithstanding his pro-choice policy position.

  • Obama, Hillary et al use the tragedies as opportunities for exploitation in order to divert their weak-minded believers’ attention from their policies that have made America and the World more dangerous, and to advance the nightmarish left-wing agenda.

    Anyhow, they banned drugs and we know how that worked.

    Things are never so bad that they can’t be made worse. We have seen it for the last seven plus years.

  • Also, that war demonstrated the implausability that a ragtag force of untrained militia, ill-armed and supplied, could stand against a federal army trained, superbly supplied and equipped, and backed by nearly limitless industrial output.

    Don basically said it – see guerrilla warfare as the counter argument. Also see Iraq, Afghanistan, and just about any other mid-east hot spot.

  • “Your proposal will not work”

    1. Actually it would work and be quite simple to enforce. Simply allow relatives or friends to file a petition to involuntarily institutionalize an individual. I see this time and again in my practice where people know a friend or relative is crazy and they are unable to intervene to help. State’s attorneys would jump at the chance to sweep up street people and to empty jails of the obviously insane. The legal system would instantly swing into action if such a reform was enacted. In this country the problem of violence is, outside of drug turf wars and domestic violence, largely a problem of mental illness.

    2. In regard to gun control this is a battle the left has been steadily losing for the last half century. The only impact that mass shootings like Orlando has is to intensify the desire for fire arms.

  • You say potato I say potahto. Sure, technically the federal army was fed by state-formed units. But those units were thoroughly integrated into a centrally-controlled Union command structure, ultimately under the command of the President.

    It mattered little to the people whose states were crushed by that army that it consisted of units contributed by other states. Madison’s claim that a federal army would never be greater than a state militia was just not realistic, and the civil war showed that. Lincoln called up troops,and troops came. That they came voluntarily from some states hardly matters to the point, which is that once federalized, they were a powerful weapon to suppress the Southern rising.

    Lee realized that guerilla warfare, while it could theoretically go on indefinitely, would never achieve the war aims of the Confederacy, and only result in a long and bloody occupation that would accomplish nothing, again rebutting Madison’s claim that the armed populace could somehow defeat a train, equipped professional army.

    If the 2d Amendment has to rely on this point for support, we’re in trouble. No collection of armed individuals could successfully or for long resist the power of the modern state, sad to say. They outgun us, out-equip us, out-surveillance us, out-intelligence us, out-supply us, and probably outnumber the people who would actually engage in armed resistance.

  • “Sure, technically the federal army was fed by state-formed units.”

    No technically about it Tom. If the Northern states failed to provide troops, as did North Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, Arkansas, Missouri, Kentucky and Maryland, the Federal government would have been impotent. The Union army was the embodiment of the Northern militia.

    “Madison’s claim that a federal army would never be greater than a state militia”

    Madison’s case was where the majority of the people opposed a usurping federal government. The clear majority of the American people supported the policy of the Lincoln administration to preserve the Union.

    “Lee realized that guerilla warfare, while it could theoretically go on indefinitely, would never achieve the war aims of the Confederacy,”

    That isn’t quite correct. Lee did point out practical problems with a guerilla war, but he was more concerned with the negative impact of such a war on the country. Lee opposed guerilla war from principle and not just because he doubted its short term effectiveness.

    “No collection of armed individuals could successfully or for long resist the power of the modern state, sad to say.”

    Quite untrue, considering that the US military was greatly strained in putting down the Iraq insurgency, temporarily. Additionally, a wide spread insurgency would soon be joined by National Guard units and probably some regular army units. Of course the insurgency would quickly produce an intelligence network second to none in a country where most people have cell phones and access to the internet. Not to mention that entire states would probably be rebelling and forming their own regular army units. No, I think a rebellion supported by a majority of the American people would meet with probably swift success.

  • “Actually it would work and be quite simple to enforce. Simply allow relatives or friends to file a petition to involuntarily institutionalize an individual. I see this time and again in my practice where people know a friend or relative is crazy and they are unable to intervene to help.”

    Don, I’ve been there. I understand how the current system hampers people like your clients (and me, I might add) from getting help for their loved ones. I know, I’ve been in Probate Court myself. That’s not what I was writing about. I was writing about the people who would never enter your office to seek help, because they are in denial. Their children grow up, remain disturbed, and pass background checks or they just steal their parent’s guns. That is what needs to change, and a way has to be found to make it happen. I am certain that it can be done, and it does not involve gun control or mental health reform.

  • Article V Three fourths of the states must ratify any change in our Constitution.

  • I think the Left’s determination to ban gun ownership is entirely ideological. It is also convenient to focus our attention on this contentious issue rather than upon the abject failure of Obama’s foreign policy. The success of ISIS abroad encourages Islamic radicals already here to act. When I first heard the current maladministration sing the praises of the so-called “Arab Spring”, I sensed we were headed into a dangerous situation. We have genocide in the Middle East, an effective invasion of Europe, and insurrection throughout Asia and Africa. I blame Obama, Hillary and the ignorant masses who vote for them. These ignorant include many with degrees, even advanced degrees. We’re all ignorant about something but it is a shame that so many are ignorant of the things that matter most.

  • “I am certain that it can be done, and it does not involve gun control or mental health reform.”

    Gun control, always a euphemism for gun confiscation if it were to have any impact, which is unlikely, on mass shootings, is never going to happen in this country. What I describe in regard to involuntary institutionalization is how this country dealt with truly deranged people until the day before yesterday in historical terms. I am now truly curious as to what you think absent either gun confiscation or involuntary institutionalization of the insane would solve the problem of the seven or eight mass shootings, at least four dead, not including the shooter, that occur in this country of a third of a billion each year on average.

    In regard to mass shootings, an eye opening look comparing the US to European nations can be found linked below:

    http://crimeresearch.org/2015/06/comparing-death-rates-from-mass-public-shootings-in-the-us-and-europe/

    The magnitude of the slayings in the Orlando shootings was highly atypical for US history and was the product of jihad, a fact that the media is now studiously, and I think in the end unsuccessfully, attempting to ignore.

  • “What I describe in regard to involuntary institutionalization is how this country dealt with truly deranged people until the day before yesterday in historical terms.”

    Donald, your words properly define this matter but the Left in its ideological zeal to disarm us all will broad-brush the many harmless persons who at one time or another in their lives suffer inordinately from anxiety or depression. A finding of derangement constituting insanity is a serious matter that should be subject to strict legal process as it will deprive a person of their civil rights. I am reminded of how the Soviets used unjust findings of insanity to incarcerate their dissidents. It is not hard to imagine being accused of insanity for refusing to believe in an alarmist position on global warming. The Anti-Christ ever travels in governmental circles. Beware!

Laws for Wolves and Men

Thursday, March 10, AD 2016

The twenty-ninth in my ongoing series examining the poetry of Rudyard Kipling. The other posts in the series may be read here, here , here , here, here , here, here, here, here, here, here, here , here, here, here , here, here, here , here, here, here , here, here , here , here , here , here and here.

Kipling had a love, hate relationship with the law and authority in general.  He regarded law as necessary to the human condition, but he was too sharp an observer of the humanity not to notice that more than a few men in authority were fools, and that they manipulated laws to their advantage.  In our confused times we have individuals who are stridently against laws that support traditional morality, while calling for government micro management in other areas of life that would have astounded most of the tyrants in history who lived prior to the last century.  In his The Jungle Book (1894), Kipling sets forth a law code for a group, a wolf pack, that would at first blush seem completely lawless:

The Law of the Jungle
(From The Jungle Book)
by Rudyard Kipling


Now this is the Law of the Jungle —
as old and as true as the sky;
And the Wolf that shall keep it may prosper,
but the Wolf that shall break it must die.

As the creeper that girdles the tree-trunk
the Law runneth forward and back —
For the strength of the Pack is the Wolf,
and the strength of the Wolf is the Pack.


Wash daily from nose-tip to tail-tip;
drink deeply, but never too deep;
And remember the night is for hunting,
and forget not the day is for sleep.

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June 17, 1812: Congress Declares War on Great Britain

Sunday, June 17, AD 2012

On June 18, 1812, President James Madison signed the declaration of war passed by Congress on June 17, 1812, starting the War of 1812.  I think it is safe to say that rarely has the United States gone to war more ill-prepared than in 1812, with an Army of 7,000 men and a Navy with 12 combat vessels, which is odd considering that there was no precipitating crisis that mandated a declaration of war at the time.  The United States could have prepared for the conflict and then declared war, but no such pre-war preparation occurred.

The vote totals in Congress, in the House 79-49 and in the Senate 19-13, indicated that the war was largely at the desire of one political party, the Jeffersonian Republicans, and opposed by the Federalists.  The opposition of the Federalists would continue throughout the war, and the conflict would be bitterly divisive in the United States.

The whole undertaking has a fairly surreal quality in retrospect, with the Madison administration, propelled by the War Hawks in Congress, undertaking a war that the President himself thought unwise and ill-considered against the mightiest Empire in the world.

Here is the text of the war message sent by President Madison on June 1, and which served as the basis for the declaration of war:

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14 Responses to June 17, 1812: Congress Declares War on Great Britain

  • It is worth recalling that International Maritime Law on belligerent and neutral rights was very far from settled, until the Paris Declaration of 1856. Any country could find support for its own position in the writings of some eminent Publicist. And, of course, systems of international arbitration only started to be be developed after the Alabama incident (again involving the US and UK), which went to arbitration in Geneva in 1871-1872.

    Even in the two World Wars, the concept of “contraband of war” tended to be an elastic one, with the US arguing for a narrow definition, whilst it was neutral and an expansive one, when it was not.

  • In 1812 the mightiest (in the military sense) empire in the world was that of Napoleon Bonaparte, and in the midst of the struggle to overcome it Britain was not best pleased to have to divert scarce military and naval resources to a sideshow which couldn’t be ignored since the US was in the process of invading Canada. The War of 1812 is now hardly remembered in England, but its baleful legacy poisoned Anglo-US relations for much of the nineteenth century.

  • “In 1812 the mightiest (in the military sense) empire in the world was that of Napoleon Bonaparte, and in the midst of the struggle to overcome it Britain was not best pleased to have to divert scarce military and naval resources to a sideshow which couldn’t be ignored since the US was in the process of invading Canada.”

    As the outcome of the Napoleonic Wars indicates John, I stand by my contention that Britain was the mightiest empire in the world. Napoleon dominated Europe while Great Britain dominated the globe. The resources that Great Britain allocated to the War of 1812 were fairly insignificant in comparison to the resources devoted to the War in Spain and Portugal and keeping the fleets manned to blockade Europe. Although I think that declaring war on Great Britain was unwise, I think it entirely justified due to the short-sighted policy of Great Britain in stopping American ships to search for alleged deserters from the Royal Navy and stirring up trouble for the US among the tribes in the Northwest. With Britain involved in a life and death struggle against Napoleon, one would have assumed that the wisest British policy would have been one of conciliation of American grievances. Such was not the case, until far too late.

  • Don’t know much about History.

    Today, I read a WSJ article on the Canadian exhibit concerning this crappy, little war (35,000 Americans died: big butcher’s bill, small country).

    It seems there were four parties in the war. Americans, Brits, Canadians, and Injuns. Of the four, the only clear losers were the Injuns. The murderous savages picked the wrong side, as had four of the five, terrorist Iroquois tribes during the Revolutionary War.

    Re: Canada all they had to do was hold Quebec keeping the St. Lawrence R. supply line open and they held Canada. The US never got closer than Lake Erie and across from Detroit. So, Saxon murderers coming here and burning DC and invading Louisiana were utterly uncalled for. Then, Andy Jackson gave the Injuns and the Saxon “what-for” in 1814.

  • What Andrew Jackson did was abuse his power to turn American presidancy into might makes right by kicking civilized Indians out of southern towns to the western wilderness and I say “civilized Indians” because they were Indians who converted from barbarism, this happened because Andrew represented the poor uneducated people of the south, was not from the East coast and told congress to buzz off because they did not have control of the army.

  • @T Shaw

    Far from being ‘uncalled-for’, the burning of Washington was in retaliation for the American burning of York (Toronto) in the previous year. The war was (and is) perceived in Canada as a victory, and although the consensus has long been that it was a draw, in reality it was a British victory in that American aggression did not pay off. The Ghent treaty restored the status quo ante bellum, and the American victories merely ensured that the terms were not more punitive.

    To their credit, the British refused to repatriate the thousands of slaves who had sought refuge in British territory, although they were willing to compensate the owners.

  • Valentin,

    Additionally, Jackson was the democrat proto-demagogue who pitted whole classes of Americans against others. See his veto message for the Second Bank of the US Act and Daniel Webster’s analysis. Seems that class hate is in locked in the Democrat Party DNA.

    JN: As I said, the only true losers were the Injuns. I do not see how can you compare York, ON to the White House. That’s me.

    The US lost no territory. They stopped boarding US ships. The Indians were kaput as a block to western expansion and the Saxon would never again use them like al Qaeda to murder Americans. And, we got the Battle of New Orleans in our national consciousness.

    PS: Thirty-three years later the Saxon was exporting wheat out of Ireland while a quarter of the population starved. Concomitantly, the worst tyrant on Earth: Czar of Russia closed the ports of Poland and fed those people suffering in the same potato blight.

    The Brits came close to fighting for the Confederacy in the ACW. They also used slaves to fight against freedom in the Revolutionary War. Some things never change.

    By 1865, the US could have taken Canada and any other place it wanted in the Americas.

    PPS: The US went in on the wrong side in 1917.

  • “The US went in on the wrong side in 1917”

    You had me cheering until that last part TShaw.

  • Yeah, that was a little “over the top.”

  • TS, what’s this crap about Saxons? The population of the USA, Canada and the UK in 1917 were of the same racial stock, namely English, Irish and Scots (except for the Indians, who were merely an obstacle to US colonialism). Let’s face it, when it comes to treatment of the indigenous population, the Spanish were more enlightened in the 16th century than you lot were in the 19th.

    In retrospect, you should have stayed neutral in 1917. It was over a year before the Americans could field a single division (compared to the more than 20 the Brits managed in the first year of the war) and despite the individual qualities of the American soldier, he was let down, particularly in the Argonne offensive, by poor staff work. By this stage the war was virtually won. Still, Woodrow Wilson got what he wanted, a chance to influence the Peace Conference with his naive egomania.

  • Sorry, first sentence should have said 1812, not 1917!

  • JN: Probably the word “sassenach’ is a better descriptive than “Saxon.”

    Lo, we treated the noble savage no worse that you did the Mere Irish in 1847. I am 165 years old. I was there with Covington and Custer. I take full responsibility. Then, it was duty. Next time it will be strictly personal.

    I was about inform you that the largest US immigrant group was Germans.

    Empires are better suited to fight world wars than are republics.

    I bet I dislike Wilson far more than you. We still suffer from his wreckovations.

    I understand Mexican school text books depict the Alamo as a glorious victory, while US history presents a massacre that inspired ultimate victory.

    Finally, it is human nature to fear and loathe those whom we have harmed.

    Cheerio!

  • TS
    You can win spectacular victories and still lose the war. Crecy, Poitiers, Agincourt … or to give a more recent example, the overwhelming defeat of the Tet offensive by US and ARVN forces in 1968.

    “Empires are better suited to fight world wars than republics”. That explains the victory of the Japanese Empire over the US Republic in 1945! There are contiguous land empires which are republics eg the USSR, and maritime empires like the French with a republic at the centre.

    “The largest US immigrant group was Germans” This explains why spoken American English doesn’t recognize the adverb. “Ich habe gut geschlafen” is correct German, whereas “I slept good” is incorrect English. I assume Italian immigrants introduced the double negative – “non so niente” being incorrectly rendered as “I don’t know nothing”. Still, the latest wave of Hispanic immigrants shouldn’t affect the language as they’re no longer required to learn it.

    Do read what modern Irish historians have to say about their country’s past, including the Famine, rather than buying into the mythological version.

    Toodle pip!

  • JN,

    Thanks for the history lessons.

Nullification: A Terrible Idea Whose Time Hasn’t Come

Tuesday, January 25, AD 2011

There’s been some buzz lately about states kicking the idea of nullification around.  State legislators in Nebraska have been circulating a little tome by Thomas Woods on the subject, and there’s been some news reports of states considering the idea with regards to health care.  Before conservatives go trumpeting this idea as some way of saving the republic, let’s keep in mind something: it’s a bad idea that happens to be unconstitutional.

Whenever the idea of nullification comes up we inevitably hear about Thomas Jefferson’s Kentucky Resolution and James Madison’s Virginia Resolution.  They were penned in response to the passage of the Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798.  The key passages from Jefferson’s resolution is as follows:

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62 Responses to Nullification: A Terrible Idea Whose Time Hasn’t Come

  • Maybe something far better would be a constitutional convention called by some states to do some Spring cleaning in the form of several amendments:

    Clarify the limits of the 10th amendment and declare several dozen laws that violate that amendment to be null and void.

    Draw up a list of the top 100 federal judges who abuse the constitution and eject them permanently from the bench. Their failure as judges to do their job is what caused this in the first place.

    Clarify the 1st amendment, in particular that the free exercise and no establishment part means free exercise and no establishment. Establishment being along the lines of the Church of England.

    Put some sort of absolute size limit on the Federal Register–if one page goes in, one must come out.

    Just some ideas, but at this point, the country is clearly off the rails as far as the constitution goes. Short of leaving the union to one degree or another, maybe it is time for the fly-over states to band together and settle some issues. Sounds like a good cause for the tea party, and would place the constitution in front of the public debate. Was that more along the lines of what Madison would have endorsed?

  • Madison in his letter to Trist cited by Paul goes on in the next paragraph to state as follows:

    “It is remarkable how closely the nullifiers who make the name of Mr. Jefferson the pedestal for their colossal heresy, shut their eyes and lips, whenever his authority is ever so clearly and emphatically against them. You have noticed what he says in his letters to Monroe & Carrington Pages 43 & 203, vol. 2,1 with respect to the powers of the old Congress to coerce delinquent States, and his reasons for preferring for the purpose a naval to a military force; and moreover that it was not necessary to find a right to coerce in the Federal Articles, that being inherent in the nature of a compact. It is high time that the claim to secede at will should be put down by the public opinion; and I shall be glad to see the task commenced by one who understands the subject.”

    Scholarship in support of nullification then as now, was unbelievably shoddy. This is a case of knaves seeking to lead fools.

  • Mr. McClarey, it is you whose scholarship is shoddy. As Kevin Gutzman showed in the Journal of the Early Republic, Madison obviously changed his mind. Clearly, in the Report of 1800, he was indeed saying what everyone at the time took him to be saying. Madison also, in his later years, tried to pretend Jefferson had never even used the word “nullification” When the draft of the Kentucky Resolutions of 1798 in Jefferson’s own hand was presented to him, he had to back down.

    Anyone citing the Supremacy Clause against nullification is not even entitled to an opinion on the subject. Yes, I realize nullification does not fall along the spectrum of approved opinion that ranges from Hillary Clinton to Mitch McConnell, but that doesn’t mean it’s wrong — or, laughably, “unconstitutional.” If you understood the nature of the Union you would see why Jefferson’s position is so compelling. Instead, you repeat a few left-wing talking points and leave it at that.

    For an extremely basic primer, see http://www.StateNullification.com.

  • Presented with the actual words of the Founding Fathers, Mr. Woods resorts to name-calling and laughable assertions about the ideology of his interlocutors. I guess I know which historian to leave off my Amazon wish list.

  • Paul,

    Your statement about the Supremacy Clause is inaccurate for a few reasons.

    One- You left out the fact that the Supremacy close is only valid if the law passed by Congress is among those allowed Artcle I-Section 8. If the Congress wants to pass something outside that section, it isn’t Constitutional, thus null and void under the Supremacy Clause.

    Two- The 10th Amendment also limits the Supremacy Clause. Since it is an Amendment, it takes priority over the original text therefore it takes precedent. So again, anything not mentioned in Article 1-Section 8 falls back to the individual states and the people.

    We can debate on the interpretations of the Article 1-Section 8, but I do think the modern belief in these various clauses makes no sense. Everyone at the time of the founding believed the Federal Government should be limited. However, modern interpretations doesn’t limit the government.

    If the government can control what I grow on my own land even when I am not selling it and just using it for personal use, I believe that is a government that isn’t limited as the founders envisioned.

    You have another problem with your point of view. How does one make the case that these individual colonies that became individual states would give up the sovereignty you are suggesting when they just fought a war for their independence? Why would just turn around and create another nightmare government too much control over them without holding the belief that they can be a voice when the Federal Government oversteps it’s Constitutional authority.

    Sorry Paul, your point of view makes no sense.

  • Paul:

    It seems that it is the Federal government is the only party that can nullify treaties and laws that were made in good faith. The case of Lone Wolf v. Hitchcock is evidence to me that Congress can break their word with soveriegn indian nations with “plenary power.” Maybe it is high time that we have “chaos” and nullify laws of the federal government. Turnabout is fair play.

  • One- You left out the fact that the Supremacy close is only valid if the law passed by Congress is among those allowed Artcle I-Section 8. If the Congress wants to pass something outside that section, it isn’t Constitutional, thus null and void under the Supremacy Clause.

    Sorry, I didn’t realize there was a sub-clause to Article VI. Was this also written in the same invisible ink that guaranteed the right to privacy and abortion?

    If a law passed by Congress is unconstitutional, there are several remedies to addressing this issue. As a conservative it’s understandable to be irate at the massive growth in the powers of the federal government, especially when aided and abetted by one of the institutions designed to check Congressional action (the Supreme Court). The solution to unconstitutional aggression is not to resort to further unconstitutional aggression.

    If the government can control what I grow on my own land even when I am not selling it and just using it for personal use, I believe that is a government that isn’t limited as the founders envisioned.

    Again, we agree. But if the states become 50 unique arbiters of constitutionality, where does that leave us? What if the state acts unconstitutionally in deeming a perfectly legitimate law unconstitutional? Where does it end? There is one sovereign authority – not 50.

    You have another problem with your point of view. How does one make the case that these individual colonies that became individual states would give up the sovereignty you are suggesting when they just fought a war for their independence? Why would just turn around and create another nightmare government too much control over them without holding the belief that they can be a voice when the Federal Government oversteps it’s Constitutional authority.

    Sorry Paul, your point of view makes no sense.

    Take it up with the Founders, John. Read through the Federalist Papers and the other assorted documents. The revolutionaries didn’t throw off one form of government just to embrace the sort of democratic despotism that they feared, rightly or wrongly, was being created by the Articles of Confederation government.

    As I wrote in this post, the Constitution was specifically designed to increase the powers of the federal government. The Confederation government, the Framers argued, had grown ineffectual. What the Constitution did not do was grant unlimited authority.

  • I rather suspect that James Madison understood the Constitution somewhat more accurately than Mr. Woods. Of course Mr. Woods is not a dispassionate scholar. He is a paladin of a point of view that was defeated at Appomattox. His views of Nullification would no doubt be lustily cheered at a meeting of the League of the South, less so by non neo-Confederates.

  • Yeah Donald, and I guess breaking treaties with Indians was OK and that our occupation of those lands settled the issue. Why don’t you replace Appomattox with Sand Creek or the Battle of Washita.

  • My point Efrem is that like the Confederacy which is the apple of his eye, (don’t accept my statement for that, read Mr. Woods’ Politically Incorrect Guide to American history), Mr. Woods holds to doctrines which have been rejected in theory, in practice and on the battlefield. You cannot have a country where a state can unilaterally determine which laws of the Union will be followed within its borders and which ones will not. That is to replace government by anarchy. Mr. Woods uses a very strained view of American history in order to try to reach libertarian\paleocon ends as can be seen by reading some of his columns at Lew Rockwell. He is not engaged in academic debate, but is rather attempting to help raise support for his political point of view. He certainly is entitled to peddle any brand of politics to which he adheres. He is not entitled to twist the history of this nation to do so.

  • Because that would be a non-sequitur.

  • Mr. Zummo,

    I think we can agree that chasing the quotes of our founding fathers is ultimately a dead end here. You can quote Hamilton while Woods quotes Jefferson; and Woods can quote ‘1798 Madison’ while you quote ‘1835 Madison’. It’s going to be a wash.

    In light of this, I think it might be useful to try relying on our own brains/morals here.

    In that spirit, I have a genuine question for you: You say in this article that the states have “innumerable devices at their disposal to fight back against unconstitutional legislation.” I assume these “devices” to be elections, constitutional amendments, the Supreme Court, activism, etc. Now, nevermind the fact that the Federal Government has run roughsod over the states throughout the 20th Century… Let’s just consider the following scenario: The U.S. Federal Congress passes a law banning elections, the U.S. Federal President signs it into law, and the U.S. Federal Supreme Court confirms it’s constitutionality. Under this circumstance, are we simply resigned to the fate of a dictatorship?

    I don’t know about you, but a government that can mandate the kidnapping of slaves, the internment of over 100,000 people, that growing food for your own consumption is “interstate commerce”, and (now) that we purchase products from private companies, is not a government that you “play ball” with. It’s a government that you resist.

    History has shown us the horrors of centralized political power. Woods’ grasp of history is excellent, but his grasp of the inherently dangerous nature of centralized political power is what makes him great. I hope that you’ll consider the implications of Woods’ position in that context.

  • The point is Donald is that the question of nullfication is not settled with force like the Civil War just like the issue of Indian land soveriegnty was not settled with force via fraudulent taking of their lands.

  • “This brings us to the expedient lately advanced, which claims for a single State a right to appeal agst. an exercise of power by the Govt. of the U. S. decided by the State to be unconstitutional, to the parties of the Const, compact; the decision of the State to have the effect of nullifying the act of the Govt. of the U. S. unless the decision of the State be reversed by three-fourths of the parties.

    The distinguished names & high authorities which appear to have asserted and given a practical scope to this doctrine, entitle it to a respect which it might be difficult otherwise to feel for it.

    If the doctrine were to be understood as requiring the three-fourths of the States to sustain, instead of that proportion to reverse, the decision of the appealing State, the decision to be without effect during the appeal, it wd. be sufficient to remark, that this extra constl. course might well give way to that marked out by the Const, which authorizes 2/3 of the States to institute and 3/4. to effectuate, an amendment of the Constn. establishing a permanent rule of the highest authy in place of an irregular precedent of construction only.

    But it is understood that the nullifying doctrine imports that the decision of the State is to be presumed valid, and that it overrules the law of the U. S. unless overuled by 3/4 of the States.

    Can more be necessary to demonstrate the inadmissibility of such a doctrine than that it puts it in the power of the smallest fraction over 1/4 of the U. S. — that is, of 7 States out of 24 — to give the law and even the Constn. to 17 States, each of the 17 having as parties to the Constn. an equal right with each of the 7 to expound it & to insist on the exposition. That the 7 might, in particular instances be right and the 17 wrong, is more than possible. But to establish a positive & permanent rule giving such a power to such a minority over such a majority, would overturn the first principle of free Govt. and in practice necessarily overturn the Govt. itself.

    It is to be recollected that the Constitution was proposed to the people of the States as a whole, and unanimously adopted by the States as a whole, it being a part of the Constitution that not less than 3/4 of the States should be competent to make any alteration in what had been unanimously agreed to. So great is the caution on this point, that in two cases when peculiar interests were at stake, a proportion even of 3/4 is distrusted, and unanimity required to make an alteration.

    When the Constitution was adopted as a whole, it is certain that there were many parts which if separately proposed, would have been promptly rejected. It is far from impossible, that every part of the Constitution might be rejected by a majority, and yet, taken together as a whole be unanimously accepted. Free constitutions will rarely if ever be formed without reciprocal concessions; without articles conditioned on & balancing each other. Is there a constitution of a single State out of the 24 that wd. bear the experiment of having its component parts submitted to the people & separately decided on?

    What the fate of the Constitution of the U. S. would be if a small proportion of States could expunge parts of it particularly valued by a large majority, can have but one answer.”

    James Madison to Edward Everett, August 28, 1830

    http://www.constitution.org/jm/18300828_everett.htm

  • Paul,

    The federal government is out of control and ALL mechanisms to curb it have failed. It has run a muck to the tune of trillions in debt, rights are routinely trampled, even to the point that they state they give us our rights (in direct defiance as to what was written in the Declaration of Independence). We have even gone so far as to institute a patriot act that shreds the last semblances of the document. We should be marching on DC with our torches and pitchforks but, barely a word is spoken and now we get articles like this berating us that this is not the way. We as a people no longer have any semblance of sovereignty or of our republic, we are surfs to a huge monopolistic plutocracy that is for sale to the highest bidder. I don’t care if nullification is constitutional or is unconstitutional, whatever will help try to put this monster back in its box or kill it! One or the other.

    I also think that your even addressing nullification as an “unconstitutional” idea is laughable. Like anyone even pays attention to the Constitution, ESPECIALLY in our own government. Like most, your article only calls on the document to make some inane point much like people who call on the Bible to justify their adulterous behavior or their sins in general. You have no reverence for the document otherwise, you would look at every angle to try to insure its preservation. Everyone has some idea that this doctrine (nullification) will create chaos…our country is IN chaos and when the dollar crashes, it’s only going to get worse.

  • Like anyone even pays attention to the Constitution,

    So the answer to unconstitutional action is to engage in more unconstitutional action? That’s like incurring more debt in an effort to pay down one’s current obligations.

    I think we can agree that chasing the quotes of our founding fathers is ultimately a dead end here. You can quote Hamilton while Woods quotes Jefferson; and Woods can quote ’1798 Madison’ while you quote ’1835 Madison’. It’s going to be a wash.

    The people I am citing were actual authors of the Constitution. Madison’s writings from 1798 does not contradict what he said in 1835. If that’s your idea of a wash, then you are clearly not a very good judge.

  • Brett, the rest of your hypothetical assumes a rather far-fetched example of government over-reach. Obviously all human beings retain the right of revolution in case of true tyranny. But if this is the best example you can come up with to defend Woods’ train of thought, then I’m quite comfortable maintaining my position.

  • It worked for OJ Simpson — sorta.

  • Paul,

    Excuse me, I’m quite sure that I listed some very real examples of tyrannies that have already been perpetrated against the American people—(the Fugitive Slave Law, the internment of over 100,000 human beings during WWII, the confiscation of farmers’ personal produce, and now, the requirement that we purchase a private product).

    Let’s get this straight, Paul: If you were a state governor and the U.S. Federal Government ordered you to intern your fellow citizens, you would do it? Or would you refuse to enforce (nullify) it?

    Simple question. I cant wait to read your answer.

  • Oh and, for the record, the purpose of my (ostensibly hyperbolic) hypothetical scenario was to demonstrate the fundamentally flawed nature of the system that you appear to be defending—and to bring your logic to its proper conclusion. (Though, unfortunately, for many Americans there is nothing hyperbolic or hypothetical about it—eg the Japanese during WWII.)

    “The people I am citing were actual authors of the Constitution. Madison’s writings from 1798 does not contradict what he said in 1835. If that’s your idea of a wash, then you are clearly not a very good judge.”

    Extraneous. But you ignored Jefferson, why, exactly? Hamilton v. Jefferson = a wash, insofar as the opinions of the founders really comprise the point on which this issue pivots for you (which I highly doubt).

    You can’t just claim erroneously that you *know* the hearts & minds of the founders and then substitute that claim for actual arguments, especially when it comes to an issue as crucial as this.

    My point was that we should actually think about this issue for ourselves. I don’t think that that’s an unreasonable request.

  • What about the fact that nullification has been used, successfully at that, in the past. I wonder if the people that criticize Dr. Woods have even read the book or are they like the government, almighty and all knowing?

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  • One of the many hilarious things about this latest boomlet for nullification created by Woods and his cronies in crankdom, is how it flies in the face of American history, not only in theory but in practice.

    They seize upon the Kentucky Resolutions and the Virginia Resolution of 1798 without really understanding what was going on. These were part and parcel of the ongoing political war of the Republicans against the Federalists, and as political theater they were quite successful in helping rouse public fury against the Alien and Sedition Acts which led to Republican victory at the polls in 1800. Once the Resolutions had helped achieve success at the polls, they were quietly abandoned by the Republicans since they had served their political purpose.

    In the Nullification Crisis of 1832, South Carolina’s first attempt to destroy the Union and start a civil war, a compromise was ultimately worked out in Congress to lower the tariffs and the nullification movement in South Carolina collapsed, much to the chagrin of some fireeaters like Rhett who would still be around to help start the Civil War in the secession crisis of 1860-61.

    Modern day advocates of nullification attempt to dragoon the personal liberty laws passed by some Nothern states to attempt to get around the fugitive slave law into the nullification debate. (I suspect that this example is drug in to get around the fact that throughout the history of this country nullification has often been allied with racist movements.) Of course such attempts were futile as the US Supreme Court ruled in 1842 that such laws were unconstitutional, as they clearly were at the time. What of course ended the fugitive slave law was the Civil War and the constitutional amendments that resulted. Mr. Woods, to show his thanks for this, is welcome to join me and my family next summer when we go to Lincoln’s tomb to pray for the repose of his soul.

    Nullification was often brought up by segregationists in their “massive resistance” campaign against Brown v. Board of education. As in the rest of American history, nullification went nowhere fast in this less than stellar moment in our nation’s history. Martin Luther King, Jr. referred to this in his I Have a Dream Speech in 1963:
    “I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of “interposition” and “nullification” — one day right there in Alabama little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.”

    What made nullification more than a historical footnote today is of course ObamaCare, and the justified opposition to it, which I fully share. However, the political process is working. The Republicans took the House,made gains in the Senate, and control most governorships and state legislatures, largely because the Democrats acted completely fecklessly with no concern for the public opposition they were building. Suits against ObamaCare are proceeding with some success in the federal courts. Crack-brained nostrums like nullification are not needed in America, while our political and legal systems are functioning, which they are.

    I do confess however, that I almost hope that one of the States is foolish enough to think that nullification could work. The first federal lawsuit over the issue would rapidly establish that nullification has as much standing in the federal courts as a flat earth has in a geography class. The state government would then be in a position of obeying the ruling of the federal court, or calling the national guard to arms. One guess as to which course they would choose. Of course if they chose to attempt armed revolution I assume that Mr. Woods and his friends will be on the barricades, although that would be somewhat more dangerous than writing books or debating on the internet.

  • Good points, Donald. It is almost a form of right-wing utopianism. Also, if you look at the arguments made on this thread it seems that even the advocated for nullification concede that it’s not really a constitutional measure – just that the system is so broken that we have no other recourse. Well, I’m not ready to give up on the legitimate means at our disposal to fight back against an encroaching federal government.

  • Brett,

    Thomas Jefferson was in Paris during the writing of the US Constitution. Alexander Hamilton was an actual participant of the constitutional convention, was one of its leading proponents (despite mis-givings about the end product), and an author of a series of essays that provides more insight into what the Framers were thinking than any other resource. So yes, I do take his interpretation more seriously than Jefferson.

    You can’t just claim erroneously that you *know* the hearts & minds of the founders and then substitute that claim for actual arguments, especially when it comes to an issue as crucial as this.

    I cited their actual words. I didn’t just make blustery comments making up imaginary interpretations of what they said. That’s what you guys do.

    My point was that we should actually think about this issue for ourselves. I don’t think that that’s an unreasonable request.

    I would take that claim more seriously if you didn’t just blindly accept Thomas Woods’ shoddy research as as Gospel truth.

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  • ***Paul,

    Excuse me, I’m quite sure that I listed some very real examples of tyrannies that have already been perpetrated against the American people—(the Fugitive Slave Law, the internment of over 100,000 human beings during WWII, the confiscation of farmers’ personal produce, and now, the requirement that we purchase a private product).

    Let’s get this straight, Paul: If you were a state governor and the U.S. Federal Government ordered you to intern your fellow citizens, you would do it? Or would you refuse to enforce (nullify) it?

    Simple question. I cant wait to read your answer.***

    P.S. I didn’t take any of Woods’ research as “Gospel truth”. If you recall, I said that it’s a wash. But completely discounting arguably the most influential founding father simply because he wasn’t physically at the Convention seems “shoddy” to me.

    In any case, I’ll cede the point—for lack of authority and sake of argument. You evaded my first (more important) comment (see above). I hope you’ll respond. Thanks.

  • Thanks Brett. I saw the question, but I thought my response was fairly obvious based on my previous comments. Maybe I need to type slower. In the case of clear government tyranny, we do reserve the right to revolution. If you can’t see the difference between your extreme hypothetical and the examples you cited, you clearly lack common sense and can’t be helped.

    Hamilton and Madison are more relevant because they would have a better understanding of the true intent of the Framers, seeing as they were actually there when the Constitution was written. Therefore I think they are in better position to interpret the Constitution than Jefferson.

  • Mr. Zummo,

    Tom Woods and John Lambert are correct. And for a respondent to say that Woods does not know his history demonstrates ignorance on the respondent’s side. Woods is a well-recognized scholar on the subject.

    As for Mr. McClarey’s comments about Madison, he is referencing a letter written nearly 35 years after the events in question. It is a well-known historical fact that in his later years, Madison contradicted much of what he, himself, had said in his earlier days, and also spoke and wrote much else that contradicted the recorded history of his own lifetime. Today we have a name for that: senile dementia.

    AT THE TIME OF ITS WRITING, the Virginia Resolution was clearly understood to advocate states “interposing” themselves between a usurping Federal government and The People. In effect this IS a call for nullification. Madison’s comments in his later life are simply not germane.

    The Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions did not carry the political weight of the day, which statists are quick to seize as justification for saying that nullification is a failed doctrine. But what they consistently fail to mention is that a very few short years later, the Alien and Seditions Acts were actively being opposed by the people and their respective states, which refused to support the Acts and in some cases passed legislation rendering them of no effect… BEFORE the laws expired when Adams left office.

    McClarey also has his facts about the “nullification crisis” of South Carolina wrong. Or at least very distorted. For one thing, S.C. was not trying to “destroy the Union” at all. It was merely trying to assert its right to nullify a law that it perceived to be unconstitutional: an unreasonable tariff. (And in fact they were right: the tariff was an intentional attack on the economy of the South on the part of the then Northern-dominated Congress).

    The fact of the matter, which McClarey actually states before going on to contradict himself, is that South Carolina did not back down, even under military threat, until AFTER Congress changed the tariff to something more to South Carolina’s satisfaction. That puts it among the first SUCCESSFUL cases of state nullification. Let’s make no mistake about that.

    As has been stated here before, the States were concerned with an overweening Federal government, and insisted on protection from it before ratifying the Constitution. The intentions of the Founders in the Bill of Rights, and the Tenth Amendment in particular, which was intended to solidify that protection, are very clear in light of the writings of the day, including the Federalist Papers.

    Brett also makes good points, about later (actual, successful, and historically unequivocal) nullifications of the Fugitive Slave Law and other such situations. And then we have modern examples of same: effective (25 states) nullification of Real ID. There also have been ongoing nullification of other unconstitutional acts of the Federal government, such as marijuana laws.

    There is no mistake about this, and true scholars of history like Woods understand the historical meaning of the documents, and their words and wording. (And he is far from alone: true students of this period of our history are in general agreement about the matter, which makes me wonder what Kool-Aid Mr. Lummo has been drinking.)

    Revisionist history, like that presented by Mr. Lummo, will never prevail unless or until they manage to re-write the actual history books. Which I do not think will ever happen. Too many people respect the actual facts.

  • Pardon me, I wrote “Mr. Lummo” when I clearly meant “Mr. Zummo”. Those were unintentional typographical errors, not an intent to slight the author.

  • Woods is a well-recognized scholar on the subject.

    You are mistaking book sales for expertise.

    It is a well-known historical fact that in his later years, Madison contradicted much of what he, himself, had said in his earlier days, and also spoke and wrote much else that contradicted the recorded history of his own lifetime. Today we have a name for that: senile dementia.

    Ah yes, let’s make stuff up in order to disregard all the stuff that contradicts what we believe. Who can contend with such scholarly arguments?

  • Paul,

    Maybe *I* need to type slower. I made no mention of my (ostensibly hyperbolic) hypothetical in my last comment, did I? I asked you about a real-world historical event.

    I’ll try one more time, since you seem at least somewhat receptive: If you were a state governor and the U.S. Federal Government ordered you to intern your fellow citizens, would you do it or would you nullify it?

    If the U.S. Federal Government ordered you to kidnap slaves so that they may be returned to their owners, would you do it or would you nullify it?

    If the U.S. Federal Government ordered you to force your fellow citizen to purchase a private product that he or she did not want to purchase, would you do it or would you nullify it?

    There is nothing hypothetical about these examples and, call me crazy, but I *do* happen to believe that interning over 100,000 human beings without due process is “extreme”. Apparently you disagree?

  • Oh, and I’m glad that you at least believe that human beings reserve the right to revolt against government.

    And nullification is a form of contained and peaceful revolution. We don’t need a blood bath every time the U.S. Federal Government oversteps its bounds. We can, instead—relying on our healthy and rational fears of centralized power—refuse to enforce blatantly unjust Federal laws.

    Look at what happened to the Real ID Act of 2005. States are simply refusing to enforce it! Is that unacceptable? (http://www.tenthamendmentcenter.com/nullification/real-id/)

    Is this OK, or would you rather wait until the government becomes a full-blown dictatorship before you would grant us permission to resist?

    I think you would do well to give these questions serious consideration. You’re coming off as a bit flippant towards this issue.

  • “As for Mr. McClarey’s comments about Madison, he is referencing a letter written nearly 35 years after the events in question. It is a well-known historical fact that in his later years, Madison contradicted much of what he, himself, had said in his earlier days, and also spoke and wrote much else that contradicted the recorded history of his own lifetime.”

    Completely untrue. Contrary to Woods and his fellow myth makers, Madison was never in favor of nullification. He merely restated late in life what he had always held. As to your comment about senile dementia, I have absolutely no doubt that Madison on his worst day was sharper than you on your best. His writings attest to this.

    “McClarey also has his facts about the “nullification crisis” of South Carolina wrong. Or at least very distorted. For one thing, S.C. was not trying to “destroy the Union” at all. It was merely trying to assert its right to nullify a law that it perceived to be unconstitutional: an unreasonable tariff. (And in fact they were right: the tariff was an intentional attack on the economy of the South on the part of the then Northern-dominated Congress).”

    Where to begin. The “Tariff of Abominations of 1828″ was actually, wait for it, the brainchild of John C. Calhoun. In order to head off an increase in tariffs, Calhoun decided to craft a tariff increase laden with increases on imports popular in New England, assuming that the New Englanders would vote against it. Enough voted in favor of it to pass it. I think that Calhoun was so hot for nullification partly out of embarassment that he helped bring about this tariff. The tariff was a perennial battle field and the divisions were often not purely regional. There was a fair amount of opposition usually to tariff increases in New England, and often a fair amount of support for tariff increases in the border states and Tennessee.

    At any rate South Carolina, rather than engage in the usual political wheeling and dealing that surrounded tariff battles, decided to begin a campaign touting nullification and the necessity of the South to unite and possibly secede. The problem for the South Carolinians is that their position had little support throughout most of the South. Oh, white Southerners generally hated the tariff, but they weren’t ready to start a war over it. Jackson of course threatened to lead an army against South Carolina and hang every nullifier he could get his hands on. In the face of this South Carolina repealed its nullification ordinance on March 11, 1833. This resolution was helped by the Compromise Tariff of 1833 which set forth a gradual reduction in tariffs to the rates of 1816.

    A tariff reduction had been passed in 1832. It helped take some of the steam out of the nullification movement, but was unacceptable to most of the South Carolina nullification radicals.

    Robert Barnwell Rhett spoke for most of the most radical nullifiers when he spoke after the repeal of the nullification ordinance:
    ” Every stride of this Government, over your rights, brings it nearer and nearer to your peculiar policy. …The whole world are in arms against your institutions … Let Gentlemen not be deceived.It is not the Tariff – not Internal Improvement – nor yet the Force bill, which constitutes the great evil against which we are contending. … These are but the forms in which the despotic nature of the government is evinced – but it is the despotism which constitutes the evil: and until this Government is made a limited Government … there is no liberty – no security for the South.”

    Rhett believed that slavery was not safe until a Southern Confederacy was established. Rhett helped bring about the Confederacy in 1860 and lived to see slavery destroyed as a result.

    Contrary to present day devotees of nullification, the nullification crisis was not responsible for the reduction of tariffs. Tariff increases and reductions were part of the political landscape both before and after the crisis. Just before the Civil War the tariff of 1857 set tariffs at the lowest rate for the century. If anything, the hullabaloo created by the nullification crisis probably delayed a reduction in tariffs by temporarily stopping the normal give and take of politics and leading the competing factions to dig in their heels.

  • Maybe going back to the Confederacy of nearly sovereign states isn’t such a bad idea. The alternative tends toward union aggression and tyranny and, while good on paper, hasn’t worked in reality. In less than a hundred years after the Revolutionary War, we had Lincoln and the North, backed by the big business of the day, waging war against the South in order to take their riches to pay for their big government.

    I say let there be sovereign and free states who are linked by free trade and a very, very loose central government responsible largely for organization and management during times of crisis, such as war.

  • Mr. Zummo-
    Would you please enlighten us as to what made Madison change his mind so drastically? That would go a long way in determing whether Madison’s change of heart was for reasons to serve himself or for legitimate objections he felt.
    I doubt highly that any proponents of nullification truly believe that it is some method by which a utopia could be created. And if anyone has then I would seriously take issue with it. I could talk about how that is impossible considering the human condition, but would not hold relevance in this discussion.

    Mr. McClarey-
    So because the Virginia and Kentucky Resolutions were nothing more than a means to a political end, they have no modern application? What about the Tenth Amendment? It seems highly questionable to maintain that we have recourse within a government that has failed, that we should depend upon a Supreme Court that has done much to inhibit liberty. Why would I want a branch of the Federal Government(the Judiciary)to be the final arbiter of the Constitutionality of any of my rights? When does protest and redress become futile? I can agree that we should work with in the system, but much like the health care law foisted on the American people, when does it become futile to carry on with a government that will not listen? This goes for Republican governance as well.
    If nullification is a viable solution because of it association with segregation, then neither is free speech, because segregationist made full use of their freedom of speech to stand behind their bully pulpit and rail about “segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever.” I think we can agree that though there may exist a rub, what is to keep us from expanding on the thoughts and ideas of those who influenced and even wrote our founding documents? Should we depend solely on the words of the Founders, no. But it certainly does hurt to use them as a starting point.

    As far as the Civil War is concerned, I suppose if the government went to war with the people over a cherished liberty and won, then the issue is settled and the cherished liberty is no more.

    If the fear of nullification is based on the fear of anarchy, then what of the Tenth Amendment? If we have no right to decide, through our state representatives that a law passed by the Federal government is not Constitutional, then why the Tenth Amendment? Is not this an evisceration of the Tenth Amendment, and the 9th as well.

    Mr. Zummo and McClarey,
    Interesting question would you gentlemen be willing to see the repeal of the amendment to the Constitution allowing for the direct election of senators, as means to bring the closer to their representatives not in Washington, but in their own state capitals?

  • If anything I would base my personal views on nullification on this.

    1. That the Constitution of the United States said quite clearly that the Federal Government is one of limited powers. That all other rights belong with the States, or the People. To me this clearly implies that there are rights that the people retain, but obviously those rights are not delineated because they are potentially many. If I take this to be true, which I do, it is no great leap to assume that the States(People) have the right to review laws emanating from the Federal Government, and if they so choose to choose to refrain from enforcing those laws which are judged to be in contravention of the Constitution.

    The argument here seems to be based on what James Madison, or Alexander Hamilton did or did not say, and how James Madison changed his mind years after the fact. Should we be ultimately considering the words of a man who changed his mind, or the document to which he worked to create? I would judge that much of what is being argued here is very conflicting, 1798 Madison, or 1835 Madison, so much so that we should consider not the mans words in certain periods, but the document he worked on, and to me it is no real stretch to consider the right of a sovereign state to judge those laws, especially those which might contravene their rights under the Constitution, and to refuse to enforce them, thereby making them NULL, VOID, and of NO EFFECT.

    JDB

  • THis article makes a decent attempt to be honest but it confuses nullification with seccession. One is the void of federal laws within a state while the other is the departure from the union of states to be its own country. The south tried that. It never once did nullification.

    “The pausibility of this objection will vanish the moment we advert to the essential difference between a mere non-compliance and a direct and active resistance. If the interposition of the State legislatures be necessary to give effect to a measure of the Union, they have only not to act, or to act evasively, and the measure is defeated. ”

    THis was made when the federal government completely relied on the states to enforce federal law. Not acting, as this implies is the proper course, is nullification since that law can’t be enforced in that state since the state is simply not enforcing it.

  • Quote Mr. Zummo: “Ah yes, let’s make stuff up in order to disregard all the stuff that contradicts what we believe. Who can contend with such scholarly arguments?”

    What evidence do you have that this is “made up”? If you like, I can find numerous examples of exactly what I asserted. If you would like me to post them here, I would be happy to. Just say so. It will likely take up a lot of space.

  • @theunknown:

    Actually, South Carolina did do that, during the so-called “Nullification Crisis”. They attempted to nullify a Federal tariff on trade that was too high. (There is evidence that the Northern-dominated Congress had done that on purpose in order to hurt the economy of South Carolina and other Southern states.)

    South Carolina decided that the tariff was excessive and therefore unconstitutional, and refused to enforce or obey it. The Feds sent in troops.

    Statists are fond of saying that South Carolina then backed down. But the fact of the matter is, despite the military threat, they held their ground until AFTER Congress changed the tariff to a more reasonable figure that South Carolina was willing to live with. So in fact it was the first unequivocal case of SUCCESSFUL state nullification of a federal law. There have been many since. Mr. Zummo is loathe to acknowledge them, but they exist nevertheless.

  • No, there was no successful nullification of any federal law. The actual history is as I cited earlier contrary to your fevered imagination. No federal troops were sent in. Congress passed a force bill but no federal troops were sent to South Carolina since the nullification ordinance was repealed by South Carolina after both the Force Bill and the Compromise Tariff of 1833 were passed on March 1. As I also indicated in my earlier comment in the years to come the tariff both went up and down uninfluenced by South Carolina’s first attempt to start a Civil War. As before the nullification crisis, the tariff remained a subject of conventional politics and would go up and down depending upon shifting political coalitions in Congress and election results. The nullification crisis was completely unnecessary, probably delayed a lowering of the tariff and brought South Carolina close to war for the sake of an idiotic stunt. This is truly a foolish example for modern day nullifiers to cite as a “success”.

  • @ Donald R. McClarey:

    Pardon me. You are correct in that troops were not sent in. I was confusing that situation with another. Nevertheless, South Carolina did make military preparations to defend its decision, anticipating that Federal troops would be sent in, and which no doubt would have been sent in had not the tariff been lowered. As you state yourself, a Force Bill was passed authorizing just such a measure, however the tariff was also lowered to a point that met South Carolina’s satisfaction, which made the point moot.

    These facts remain: South Carolina did vote to nullify the law, the Federal government did authorize military intervention, and South Carolina was prepared to go to war, before they ACTUALLY GOT WHAT THEY HAD DEMANDED.

    If you don’t call that success, I would like to know what your definition is.

  • @Jonathan D. Boatwright:

    I would say that your assessment is correct.

    Later in his life, some 30 or 35 years after his involvement in forming the Constitution, Madison did not just “change his mind”, but denied he had even said or written much of what he in fact did say and write, according to the clear public record. He also denied the occurrence of events that were also clearly in the public record. Whether he did this just because he was a stubborn, headstrong ass, or because he had lost his mental faculties, is a matter for debate. I am inclined to believe the latter, because of the way his later statements so directly contradict the records. I do not see how a fully sane person could make such denials of demonstrable truth and expect to be believed.

    And Hamilton, it should be noted, was an avowed Statist (to use the modern term), fully in favor of a strong central government that would have unchecked power over the states. Hamilton helped to back the Virginia Plan at the Constitutional Convention, which would have, among other things, given the Federal government the power to veto legislation by the states. It is of considerable interest that this idea was soundly rejected by the Convention, and also my the strong majority of those who later participated in writing the Federalist Papers, before the Constitution was ratified. It is easy to show that Hamilton’s voice, while clear, was only that of a small minority.

    The Founders were of the opinion (with the exception of Hamilton and perhaps a couple of others) that the Federal government was nothing but a compact between the States, which delegated a small set of their OWN sovereign powers to the Federal government, in order to better carry out the common interests of those States, and that all other powers would be retained by those States. Note the word that appears in the Constitution and repeatedly in many other historical documents: “delegate”. It is impossible to “delegate” authority that you do not yourself possess.

    Further, along the lines of your last statement: the Federal government was never intended to be the sole judge of its own powers. That includes the Supreme Court, which of course is part of the government. That would be “putting the foxes in charge of the henhouse”, as it were. I refuse to believe (and historical documents back me up) that our Founding Fathers were that stupid.

    I think you may find some of the following quotes to be of interest. Madison’s quotes here are from well before he “changed his mind”, as you put it. That is to say, they are from when he was actively involved in governing Virginia and helping to form the Constitution. The first one is from his Report of 1800, to the people of Virginia:

    “The resolution of the General Assembly [the Virginia Resolutions of 1798] relates to those great and extraordinary cases, in which all the forms of the Constitution may prove ineffectual against infractions dangerous to the essential rights of the parties to it. The resolution supposes that dangerous powers, not delegated, may not only be usurped and executed by the other departments, but that the judicial department also may exercise or sanction dangerous powers beyond the grant of the Constitution; and, consequently, that the ultimate right of the parties to the Constitution, to judge whether the compact has been dangerously violated, must extend to violations by one delegated authority, as well as by another; by the judiciary, as well as by the executive, or the legislature.

    “However true, therefore, it may be, that the judicial department, is, in all questions submitted to it by the forms of the Constitution, to decide in the last resort, this resort must necessarily be deemed the last in relation to the authorities of the other departments of the government; not in relation to the rights of the parties to the constitutional compact, from which the judicial as well as the other departments hold their delegated trusts. On any other hypothesis, the delegation of judicial power would annul the authority delegating it; and the concurrence of this department with the others in usurped powers, might subvert for ever, and beyond the possible reach of any rightful remedy, the very Constitution which all were instituted to preserve.”

    The “parties” to the constitutional compact mentioned are, of course, the States. His meaning here is very clear: even the Supreme Court, while normally charged with deciding matters of constitutionality, was vulnerable to corruption and usurpation of powers. Therefore, the final arbiters of all were to be the States themselves, and The People.

    These other quotes are also relevant, in one way or another.

    “The first and governing maxim in the interpretation of a statute is to discover the meaning of those who made it.” — James Wilson (Delegate to the Continental Congress and signer of the Declaration of Independence)

    “[T]he government created by this compact was not made the exclusive or final judge of the extent of the powers delegated to itself.” — Thomas Jefferson, about the U.S. Constitution, in the Kentucky Resolution of 1798

    “With respect to the words general welfare, I have always regarded them as qualified by the detail of powers connected with them. To take them in a literal and unlimited sense would be a metamorphosis of the Constitution into a character which there is a host of proofs was not contemplated by its creators.” – James Madison, letter to James Robertson, April 20, 1831

    “I consider the foundation of the Constitution as laid on this ground that ‘all powers not delegated to the United States, by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states or to the people.’ To take a single step beyond the boundaries thus specifically drawn around the powers of Congress, is to take possession of a boundless field of power, not longer susceptible of any definition.” — Thomas Jefferson

    “If Congress can employ money indefinitely to the general welfare, and are the sole and supreme judges of the general welfare, they may take the care of religion into their own hands; they may appoint teachers in every State, county and parish and pay them out of their public treasury; they may take into their own hands the education of children, establishing in like manner schools throughout the Union; they may assume the provision of the poor; they may undertake the regulation of all roads other than post-roads; in short, every thing, from the highest object of state legislation down to the most minute object of police, would be thrown under the power of Congress. … Were the power of Congress to be established in the latitude contended for, it would subvert the very foundations, and transmute the very nature of the limited Government established by the people of America.” — James Madison, speech to Congress, 6 Feb. 1792 (Note the intentional sarcasm. But in fact today the Federal government has usurped the power to control some of those very things.)

    “Congress has not unlimited powers to provide for the general welfare, but only those specifically enumerated.” — Thomas Jefferson

    “I cannot undertake to lay my finger on that article of the Constitution which granted a right to Congress of expending, on objects of benevolence, the money of their constituents.” — James Madison

    “…the government of the United States is a definite government, confined to specified objects. It is not like the state governments, whose powers are more general. Charity is no part of the legislative duty of the government.” — James Madison

    “A wise and frugal government… shall restrain men from injuring one another, shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned. This is the sum of good government.” — Thomas Jefferson

    “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.” — James Madison

  • I apologize but I simply haven’t had the time, nor will have much time in coming days, to address all of the arguments that have been put forth. There is one particular thing I’d like to address because it does get down to the crux of this whole matter.

    And Hamilton, it should be noted, was an avowed Statist (to use the modern term), fully in favor of a strong central government that would have unchecked power over the states.

    This has been posited by both foes and admirers of Hamilton, but it is not correct. Hamilton, it is true, desired the creation of a stronger and more energetic government to displace the Articles of Confederation. So did almost all of the Framers, including Madison. And while it’s true that Hamilton was perhaps less fearful of an over-reaching government than the rest of the Federalists, he by no means countenanced a giant leviathan state that we have now. Hamilton wanted the government to be active in a few select areas, notably national defense and commerce. However, he correctly realized that a government active in all facets of life would be ineffective, and so he, like the rest of the Federalists, believed that the government’s powers should be few and defined. I would recommend reading Federalists 23-34 to get a sense of what Hamilton was about, and in particular, if you wish, reading my analyses of these papers at Almost Chosen People.. I’ve linked to all of the Hamilton essays that I’ve discussed thus far.

    On the other hand, it is my contention – and was the subject of my dissertation – that it is in fact the Jeffersonian philosophy that leads precisely to the sort of big government leviathan that exists today. Jefferson shares many beliefs, knowingly or unknowingly, with Jean-Jacques Rousseau. Rousseau is, in the end, to the left what Edmund Burke is to the right.

    It’s easy to advocate populist mechanisms to curtail the government when the populace is to be perceived to be on your side. Unfortunately what most right-wing populists miss is that much of what has transpired over the past century has been fully approved of and sanctioned by the populace at large. The sweet song of nullification is appealing until one realizes that it can be a dangerous weapon to tear down measures that one approves of.

    This is probably going to be my last word on the subject, at least for a few days.

  • Regarding the Supremacy Clause, I think that an argument that it prohibits nullification ignores these important words:

    “…under the Authority of the United States,”

    Nullification is a solution proposed when the legislature EXCEEDS “the Authority of the United States.” Both Jefferson and Madison agreed upon one thing: that the federal government was only given authority related to specifically enumerated powers. Therefore, the Supremacy Clause would only bind the states when the federal government was acting within this authority. The document assumes that this will always be the case. When the legislature exceeds this authority, no remedy is provided in the Constitution, and therefore the parties to the contract (the states) have a right to consider it a breach of contract and not be bound by it.

  • The general rule is that an unconstitutional statute, though having the form and name of law, is in reality no law, but is wholly void, and ineffective for any purpose; since unconstitutionality dates from the time of it’s enactment, and not merely from the date of the decision so branding it… No one is bound to obey an unconstitutional law, and no courts are bound to enforce it.
    — 16 Am Jur 2d, Sec 177 late 2d, Sec 256

    Is not that in essence a form of nullification? I means interpreted properly doesn’t this mean that a law that is unconstitutional is NULL, void, and essnetially of no effect? If that is the case, then in essence for a state legislature, or the people of a state to offer an “opinion” or statement of fact that the law is in essence of no effect, is not so wrong as present academics would like to think.

    In Mr. Woods defense, the ignorant thing is to denounce him on the basis of Madison and Hamilton. Madison renounced what he said earlier, and as far as Hamilton is concerned I cannot think of one country under a central government that has all the authority that has survived.

    JDB

  • Madison renounced what he said earlier,

    NO, he did not. A lie repeated often enough does not become truth. You Woods acolytes keep aping this line without providing a scintilla of evidence. It makes it difficult to take any of you seriously when you cannot back up your ahistoric notions with actual proof.

  • Deafening, Mr. Zummo.

  • I repeat, Mr. Zummo: I can access a number of instances of Madison doing precisely that. Would you like me to post them here? It would likely take up a lot of space. The only reason I haven’t so far is that I haven’t wanted to spend the time. But you are simply wrong on this point.

    For now I will present just one example. In the early 1830s, Madison wrote a series of letters that were circulated publicly. (From “James Madison: Philosopher, Founder, and Statesman” by John R. Vile, William D. Pederson, and Frank J. Williams) In those letters, he stated that the Virginia Resolutions, “properly understood”, did not call for state nullification. Subsequently John Calhoun (correctly) accused Madison of abandoning his earlier principles.

    However, even a brief examination of Madison’s own Report of 1800 (part of which I have quoted above), 2 years after the Virginia Resolutions, puts the lie to Madison’s later claims. In that document, not only does he make it perfectly clear in that document that he *WAS* referring to nullification (or “interposition”, if you want to be technical, which effectively amounts to the same thing).

    In that Report, in fact, he called for it once again, in the case of usurpation of power by the Supreme Court. And again, the plain language of that part is quoted in my earlier post, if you care to read it and you can understand plain English.

    Madison even tried to deny that the Kentucky Resolution called for nullification, and he continued in this insistence until someone confronted him with an actual copy, containing that exact word, at which point he backed down.

    If you don’t call that denial, then what do you call it? There are numerous other examples.

    Since we are on the Report of 1800, I will go back and support some of my other points with another quote from it. He is here referring at first to England:

    “Hence, too, all the ramparts for protecting the rights of the people–such as their Magna Charta, their Bill of Rights, &c.–are not reared against the Parliament, but against the royal prerogative. They are merely legislative precautions against executive usurpations. Under such a government as this, an exemption of the press from previous restraint, by licensers appointed by the King, is all the freedom that can be secured to it.

    In the United States the case is altogether different. The People, not the Government, possess the absolute sovereignty. The Legislature, no less than the Executive, is under limitations of power.”

    And he later mentions in that same document, again as quoted above, that the Supreme Court is also under strict limitations. It’s right there in black and white.

    Mr. Zummo, you seem yourself to be somewhat in denial of facts that contradict your thesis (as evidence, your post just above). I am no amateur in this matter. When I say I can produce historical documents, I can produce them. Count on it. Even though you seem to be ignoring those I have already quoted.

    Just to be clear, here is the plain language from the Virginia Resolutions that has been the topic of discussion here:

    “That this Assembly doth explicitly and peremptorily declare, that it views the powers of the federal government, as resulting from the compact, to which the states are parties; as limited by the plain sense and intention of the instrument constituting the compact; as no further valid that they are authorized by the grants enumerated in that compact; and that in case of a deliberate, palpable, and dangerous exercise of other powers, not granted by the said compact, the states who are parties thereto, have the right, and are in duty bound, to interpose for arresting the progress of the evil, and for maintaining within their respective limits, the authorities, rights and liberties appertaining to them.”

    Note the word “interpose”. Madison is clearly stating that the states have both a right AND A DUTY to interpose themselves and prevent Federal usurpation of power. Thus the states MUST, logically, have the power and authority to do so.

    Madison later claimed that the state power he referred to was a collective one and not individual; this is in contrast to Jefferson’s Kentucky Resolution. However, he still clearly claimed such power FOR THE STATES.

    Again, there it is in black and white. Try denying that.

    Once again, to excerpt: “… as limited by the plain sense and intention of the instrument constituting the compact; as no further valid that they are authorized by the grants enumerated in that compact;”

    There are those words again: limited; compact; ENUMERATED. Do you honestly think that is coincidence? That “limited” and “enumerated” were just meaningless words that were tossed around every day?

    Your quote, Mr. Zummo: “This has been posited by both foes and admirers of Hamilton, but it is not correct.”

    Please, show me where in the history books it states that Mr. Hamilton was NOT a supporter of the Virginia Plan at the Constitutional Convention, or that the Virginia Plan did NOT call for veto power over state legislation. I will wait. I expect I will be waiting a very long time.

    Mr. Zummo, it appears that you have been reading history books that nobody else has seen. If they are genuine, perhaps you could assist the genuine scholarship of history by making them public.

  • The only reason I haven’t so far is that I haven’t wanted to spend the time. But you are simply wrong on this point.

    Yes, Lonny, you fellows are good at repeatedly asserting things without proof. I know researching things and citing them is hard, but really not that difficult.

    Please, show me where in the history books it states that Mr. Hamilton was NOT a supporter of the Virginia Plan at the Constitutional Convention, or that the Virginia Plan did NOT call for veto power over state legislation. I will wait. I expect I will be waiting a very long time.

    I never denied this. I simply stated that Hamilton was not a big government statist. That’s all.

    Mr. Zummo, it appears that you have been reading history books that nobody else has seen.

    Yes, it’s called reading the actual words of the people I am talking about. I know it’s easier to rely on third rate historians who are more interested in book sales than in making carefully crafted academic arguments based on scholarly evidence, but some of us prefer to use our own brains.

  • Paul, that Phd you earned in this area, and your doctoral dissertation on Jefferson, just can’t compete with these Internet acolytes of the TRUE AMERICAN HISTORY! 🙂

  • Sheesh, can’t we all just get along?

  • Mr. Lonny Eachus

    I think it would be best to leave Mr. Zummo and his colleagues to preen their ruffled feathers in the sun of their academic understanding.

    ———————————————————–
    And Mr. Zummo……….Mr. Woods’ book is not my only source of knowledge on nullification, nor am I at the pinnacle of understanding on said topic. I am endeavoring to find further information to bolster my understanding. So, please, unless you know me personally do not make assumptions that I am Thomas Woods disciple, or that I reposed the totality of my understanding to the leafs of his book. Your “academic” attitude seems smug and off putting.

    Furthermore, I think everyone engaging in this debate would like to know why you view Mr. Woods the way you do?

    JDB

  • Mr. McClarey,

    What is that supposed to mean, Sir? That because we all don’t fawn over Mr. Zummo’s protestations and his academic prowess we are some how less capable of understanding the topic being discussed?

    JDB

  • Thomas Woods and his acolytes made this thread about Thomas Woods. My post only made the barest allusion to his book – I made no comment about it at all pro or con. I’ve barely alluded to the man myself in subsequent comments. And if my tone is off-putting I apologize, but I tire of these conversations where only one side is putting up any real evidence or citing their sources. Merely asserting things repeatedly is not a form of argument. Those of Woods’ minions who have even attempted to quote the Founding Fathers have seemingly done so without any attempt to look at what was actually said to determine if it buttresses their arguments or not.

  • Mr. Zummo,

    For the record, I would say that my initial thoughts on the Nullification are based on my understanding of the Constitution, specifically the 10th Amendment.

    As far as I can tell, interpose, nullify, one way or the other is a means of a state to stand against a federal law that is clearly of no affect because it does not fall in to the realm of enumerated powers granted the government. Either way the State(s) refuse to enforce the law.

    If I take to hear the statement of “American Jurisprudence” then a law is a null the moment it becomes a law. And that the instruments by which a state may express are purely incidental to the fact of a law being unlawful and not being enforced by State governments on behalf of the people. If your argument is that the Supremacy clause disallows this, then please explain to me the relevance of the enumerated, because it seems to me that the laws emanating from the Fed. Gov. are only valid if they are in accordance with enumerated powers.

    JDB

  • For the record, I completely disagree with the knocks on Paul Zummo concerning Mr. Thomas Woods.

    This is about nullification, not about Thomas Woods.

    Let’s put aside my love of reading Thomas Woods books, those that are trying to make an issue between Paul Zummo and Thomas Woods are off-base.

    I can be a bit more explicit, but if we are all Catholics that strive to live the love that Jesus wants for each other, then these aversions to an imaginary issue between Paul & Thomas must stop now.

    I 100% completely back Paul in monitoring the comments on this thread and his discretion on what is approved and not approved. By the guidelines that we have put out for TAC authors, and backed by all TAC authors, cease and desist from making this about something this isn’t.

    In Jesus, Mary, & Joseph,

    Tito Edwards
    Chief Editor
    The American Catholic

  • Mr. Edwards,

    First off, I might be the only non-Catholic posting here, I am an Independent Baptist.

    Secondly, it is Mr. Zummo who has taken to calling those defending their personal belief in nullification “thomas woods acolytes” and “minions.” Granted he may not have engaged in this debate to talk about Tom Woods, but he certainly has done his part to keep it going.

    JDB

  • Jonathan,

    Point taken.

    And please stay here and continue to engage Paul Zummo and the rest of everyone else in this constructive and productive debate.

    In Jesus, Mary, Joseph,

    Tito

  • Mr. Edwards,

    I certainly will try to.

    JDB

  • Are all your readers here willing to read all of this?
    This really is great for those who are compiling their dissertation, but what percentage of people trying to understand this Government has the time to read or the knowledge to understand what you post here?
    I really want to know how we as citizens can stop the tyrannical advancements of our federal government.
    Would you like to help me and most other average citizens, or is your mission to throw dirt on those efficient orators that disagree with socialism?

Justice Breyer, the Second Amendment and Federalist 46

Tuesday, December 14, AD 2010

Justice Stephen Breyer of the US Supreme Court has never been a fan of the Second Amendment.  On Fox News on Sunday he made an historical claim that I would like to analyze in this post.

Madison “was worried about opponents who would think Congress would call up state militias and nationalize them. ‘That can’t happen,’ said Madison,” said Breyer, adding that historians characterize Madison’s priority as, “I’ve got to get this document ratified.”

Therefore, Madison included the Second Amendment to appease the states, Breyer said.

I assume that the Justice is referring to Federalist 46 written by James Madison, and which may be read here.  (I apologize in advance to our resident blog expert on the Federalist papers Paul Zummo.  Paul, if you see any mistakes on my part in the following, please let me have it!)

The Justice is correct that many in the states were concerned that the proposed new federal government would have too much power, and Federalist 46 was written to help allay those concerns.

The only refuge left for those who prophesy the downfall of the State governments is the visionary supposition that the federal government may previously accumulate a military force for the projects of ambition.

Madison realized that this was a sensitive point.  The American Revolution had only ended five years before, and the attempt by Great Britain to rule through military force was a raw memory for all of his readers.  Madison tackles this fear head on by comparing the military force of a standing federal army to the militias of the states:

Let a regular army, fully equal to the resources of the country, be formed; and let it be entirely at the devotion of the federal government; still it would not be going too far to say, that the State governments, with the people on their side, would be able to repel the danger. The highest number to which, according to the best computation, a standing army can be carried in any country, does not exceed one hundredth part of the whole number of souls; or one twenty-fifth part of the number able to bear arms. This proportion would not yield, in the United States, an army of more than twenty-five or thirty thousand men. To these would be opposed a militia amounting to near half a million of citizens with arms in their hands, officered by men chosen from among themselves, fighting for their common liberties, and united and conducted by governments possessing their affections and confidence. It may well be doubted, whether a militia thus circumstanced could ever be conquered by such a proportion of regular troops. Those who are best acquainted with the last successful resistance of this country against the British arms, will be most inclined to deny the possibility of it.

So far so good for Justice Breyer.  However, he misses completely the import of other things that Madison says 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.

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11 Responses to Justice Breyer, the Second Amendment and Federalist 46

TAC College Football Rankings: Week 2

Monday, September 13, AD 2010

Last week we debuted our fearless college rankings here at TAC. This week saw chaos in the middle and back as our #11, 12, 16, 17, 20, 21, 22, and 24 teams all lost. Some of the chaos is surely due to this man:

The first lesson we need to learn is that if we keep ignoring the Federalist Papers, Madison will strike down our football teams. The other lesson is that it’s great to not be an ACC fan.

This week the rankings take on two new additions: our own Dave Hartline and Evangelical Catholicism’s M.J. Andrew. If you’re a Catholic blogger, and you’re interested in writing rankings, shoot me an email at michaelrdenton”at” gmail. com. Let’s see those rankings now, shall we?

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32 Responses to TAC College Football Rankings: Week 2

  • Tito, sir, you are a gentlemen. Gig ’em!

  • #25 I thought Air Force was one of the more interesting wins that seemed to go under the radar this weekend. COming off their Last season they could very well be legit

    #24 Fresno – I agree why not

    #22 WV I agree skeptical but it was one those game. 40th Annv of Marshal Plane Crash,Marshal feeling the heat to win because of the politics of keeping game going.

    #19 Miami(Fl) Your being generous

    #14 Arkansas- ULM did not play a game before this one so there was no game film. Also ULM has New Coach, so unknowns for Arky. Further believe it or not ULM has played them close before. So we shall see this week

    #13 Wisconsin Yall are on Crack. At the very least I would Wis change places with S.C

    #11 LSU I WISH!! The QB situation is just too unstable now

    #7 Oklahoma- Agree. Jimbo was running the show at Florida State last year. Why would this year be different. SO we don’t learn much

    #6 Nebraska I am a believer too

    #1 Alabama Yack Yack Yack!! but at this point true

  • JH:

    LSU is so high b/cit’s hard to figure out who’s ahead. 1-7 looks pretty good, 8-10 have some history of getting good later, but after that it’s a crapshoot between 11-20 and after 20 you might as well stop the ballot.

    I really don’t know what to do with Wisconsin, myself. They could be great; could suck. As for SCAR, a win over Georgia isn’t what it once was, and SCAR has had a problem with being a flash in the pan. We’ll see if they can keep it up, and if so they’ll rise.

  • I guess I just see SC wins more quality than Wisconsin. Of course with South Carolina one has a feeling that Garcia could implode at any moment

  • JH,

    If Air Force wins this week, I assure you that I’ll bump ’em all the way up into the top 15 in my voting. Maybe even top 10.

    For what it’s worth, I think they have a real shot at beating the Sooners.

  • Big Tex,

    If I’m not mistaken, one of the voters in this poll is an A&M alum, and he didn’t even give the Ags any love. I think the Aggies may be another one of Tito’s Idaho Vandal type picks.

    😉

  • A&M is grossly underrated.

    This is the year they get over the hump and finally beat Kansas State, Colorado, and TU-Austin.

    As for Idaho and Jay’s ‘comment’, Idaho played Nebraska pretty damn hard up until kickoff. That and their schedule get’s pretty easy so hopefully they’ll run the table and knock off WAC powers Boise State and Fresno State and prove me right!

  • I overlooked Houston (in my own backyard no less) and if they man-handle UCLA like they should, they’re getting my vote (assuming anyone in my top-25 loses).

    West Virginia won against Marshall because of a coaching decision of putting in a freshman RB when they had a seasoned back ready to go. The freshman fumbled inside the red-zone. If they would have scored there is no way WV would have had time enough to score 18-22 points.

    Fresno State takes on all-comers. They still have Mississippi and Illinois in their schedule.

    Not to mention WAC powers Boise State, Nevada, and Hawaii.

    If they can just win those close games watch them reek havoc in the polls!

  • Idaho played Nebraska pretty damn hard up until kickoff

    Lol.

    I’d agree with Houston getting a vote if they beat UCLA; I probably could have shoed them in to my rankins.

    West Virginia seems suspect to me. I just couldn’t figure out who to put ahead of them. However, if they try to play like that in Death Valley…well, let’s just say we came up with “Tiger Bait” (pronounced Tiii-GAH BAIT!) for a reason

  • I agree with WV. It doesn’t help that they’re in an overrated conference (thank goodness the Big Least is around, it makes the ACC look like the Black&Blue Division of the NFC North).

    LSU will walk all over them like a cheap rug.

  • I just noticed Jay putting in UVA at #25.

    They almost took out the University of Spoiled Children though.

    Tough cross-country road trip for the Cavaliers.

  • Yeah, that was a stretch, but I had to give some love to my alma mater for a late-night trip to the Colliseum that almost ended in an upset of USC.

    What does that say about the ACC that arguably the most impressive performance of the weekend came in a loss?

  • Sorry to dissappoint you Tito, but the A&M Gaggies will not beat The University.

  • …of Arizona?

    I agree, because Arizona isn’t on the schedule.

    😉

  • Sorry to dissappoint you Tito, but the A&M Gaggies will not beat The University

    I won’t tolerate anybody speaking badly about a future SEC team-which reminds me, when does the rest of the country decide to gang up to pummel UT for their nonsense this summer?

  • A&M would be a great addition to the SEC.

    I could see a great rivalry forming between A&M and LSU.

    Along the lines of the Red River Classic, games could rotate between Houston (Reliant Stadium) and New Orleans (Super Dome) every year!

  • Tito:

    We used to have that rivalry, but it got lost sometime in the conference shuffle. I have a great respect for the Aggies’ tradition and wished they could join us in the SEC (even though I don’t like the idea of super-conferences and like the SEC’s number). I hope LSU will notice the attraction of its fan base towards the Aggies and schedules a series in the near future-I think your idea of Reliant & New Orleans is a good one, though I think both schools have such great environments tha it would be a shame to be played other than Death Valley & the Home of the 12th man.

  • Jay, at A&M, we don’t have alumni. We have former students.

    cmatt & others… I didn’t realize A&M had the Volunteers on their schedule? UT is in Tennessee. If that was a typo, and you meant t.u., then yes, I think the Aggies have a better than good shot and sawing varsity’s horns off. Remember back a couple years ago, McGhee ran all over that horn defense… in Austin. Anything can happen, especially with the skill players the Aggies have on offense. Watch out for Johnson, Michael, Gray, Fuller, and Nwachukwu.

  • Michael,

    Everything’s on the table!

    A player for either school could play one game in College Station, one game in Baton Rouge, one game in the Super Dome, and one game in Reliant.

    During the course of the players four year career he would get the opportunity to play in all those great venues!

  • What a load of dung. Once again, southerners who seem to need to justify just how important they are to the world of sports spout on obnoxiously about how superior they are to the Big Ten. A careful study of Penn State history vs. the SEC will demonstrate they do pretty well thank you very much. In fact, since joining the league in ’93, PSU is 5 and 2 vs. the SEC in bowl games. In fact, only a closely contested match against Auburn and a game against Florida where PS was without Curtis Enis and Joe Jurivicius resulted in PS losses. In the SEC land, only the Bear owned Penn State and he owned everyone else too! I will take our record against the vaunted and mighty SEC any day of the week.

  • Oh and by the way, do you know the differnce between the SEC and the NFL? The SEC does not have a salary cap!

  • I follow the Big Ten and prefer it to the SEC. But the SEC is a stronger football conference. Obnoxiousness has nothing to do with it. The Big Ten has disappointed me for too long and I refuse to be in denial. That said, I still prefer the Big Ten. Overall I think they run somewhat cleaner programs more consonate with the stated ideals and objectives of college athletics. To be clear, I do not think the SEC was necessarily the stronger (let alone strongest) conference in the 90s; but it is today and has been for a while I think.

  • I’m a Southerner who now lives in Big 10 country, and who has been an Ohio State and Big 10 fan for most of my life. I also like Penn State and LOVE Joe Pa.

    Believe me, there is a lot of respect for the Big 10 reflected in this poll (Michael’s whiny comments about having to play on anything other than pristine field conditions in anything other than sunny 75-degree weather or inside a dome notwithstanding).

  • Speaking of respect for the Big 10, I just noticed that Michigan is missing from this poll, despite the fact that the Wolverines appear to have received votes from all the voters.

    What gives?

  • Speaking of respect for the Big 10, I just noticed that Michigan is missing from this poll, despite the fact that the Wolverines appear to have received votes from all the voters.

    What gives?

    Um…I screwed up. 🙁 I’ll fix it.

  • “Speaking of respect for the Big 10, I just noticed that Michigan is missing from this poll,”

    I think all Illinis would say Michael that whenever you wish to forget Michigan, that is fine with us. 😉

  • That would make Michigan come in at #20.

    Bumping the three-way tie at #25 into ‘honorable mention’ territory.

  • Believe me, there is a lot of respect for the Big 10 reflected in this poll (Michael’s whiny comments about having to play on anything other than pristine field conditions in anything other than sunny 75-degree weather or inside a dome notwithstanding).

    I actually gave a lot of respect to the Big 10 in my ballot; I think they’re either the second or third best conference right now in the country. But I do reserve the right to jab Penn St. for barely beating the worst offense in LSU history on “turf” that gave advantages beyond what proper conditions should give to a Big 10 team. (See addendum in post above)

  • @Michael Denton, @Jay, et al,

    It’s hilarious that Michael is complaining on what definition of the word “field” should be, since most Louisianan’s call the northern seabed of the Gulf of Mexico “New Orleans”.

    So I take his comments with a ginormous grain of salt.

    “You call it dinner, I call it roadkill.”
    –Tito driving through the Louisiana portion of I-10 circa 2002.

  • It’s hilarious that Michael is complaining on what definition of the word “field” should be, since most Louisianan’s call the northern seabed of the Gulf of Mexico “New Orleans”.

    Yes, but we’ve never called it a field. You’ll find that we New Orleanians have the technology to produce flat fields as opposed to Marshes, a technology we apparently have to share with the good people of Orlando.

    We will provide ginormous grains of salt from Avery Island, if you would like.

    And we don’t call it dinner; we call it “gumbo” or “boudin” and it’s delicious. 😉

  • Mike-

    Granted, I am a bit sheepish about the Cap One Bowl victory last January but not because of the field. I am a bit embarrased about the horrible unsportsmanlike conduct penaltly at the end of the game that should have been called against PSU instead of LSU. I don’t apologize for our ability to play in crappy weather. In fact, that’s my beef against the SEC outside of Bama whom we have a history with. I think Bama is the only school SEC we have ever seen in Happy Valley and I am looking forward to the battle in 2011. I sort of bristle when we are lumped in with the rep the rest of the Big Ten has. Penn State has always held its own vs. the SEC.

    I do not doubt that year in and year out the SEC is the deepest conference in football but let us just agree that the SEC with the exception of Vandy operates froma different set of rules than the SEC when it comes to “student” athletes, OK?

  • Note: should read “from the Big Ten”.

    It’s late.

Ronald Reagan Warns Against ObamaCare

Sunday, February 28, AD 2010

This is a clip of Ronald Reagan warning us of socialized medicine, the very same bill that President Obama and the Democratic Party are trying to ram through congress.

Reagan warns us of how people such as six-time presidential Socialist Party candidate Norman Thomas, and many others, explained how to move their agenda of achieving a socialist state by a Foot-in-the-Door policy of socialized medicine.  Which is eerily similar to what President Obama and the Democrats are doing, against the will of the people with their European socialized health care bill.

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40 Responses to Ronald Reagan Warns Against ObamaCare

  • I love that clip. It shows why Ronald Reagan will always be “The Great Communicator”. Clear, factual, and with his own depth of Philosophical belief. Unlike most politicians, what Reagan said, he believed.

    After watching the “Bipartisan Healthcare Summit” I was truly astounded at how poor Obama is at communicating without a pre-prepared speech and a teleprompter. The man is rude, cuts people off, stutters and stammers, and has trouble forming thoughts about his beliefs.

    Basically, to anyone who watched the BHS (no, not Barack Has to Stutter) this was a wake up call–Barry isn’t a good speaker, he is a good reader.

  • Is this a real or a parody post? If the latter, well the joke’s on me then…

    But assuming it isn’t – I assume you realize that Reagan was making all kinds of outlandish claims about Medicare, including that it tell doctors where they had to live? I think history had proved him a tint bit wrong – so much so that the party that now idolizes his memory is fighting tooth and nail against “cuts” in this very same Medicare..

    Oh, and as superior as single payer is (and Medicare is single payer by the way), the Obama bill retains the current system of privaet insurers. There is nothing “socialistic” about it. Of course, it attempts to regulate private insurers, including (by the way) how they must deal with abortion – something no Republican has ever supported.

  • MM,

    He was talking about the slow descent to socialism, or does this escape you?

    As for abortion, no matter your hollow arguments, you still voted for the most pro-abortion president in the history of the United States of America.

  • You need to study more on what Reagan actually predicted pertaining to Medicare. Also, tell me why his acolytes currently are its biggest defenders? Also, please tell me what abortion protections were put into the Republican-sponsored Medicare Advantage expansion? And please tell me what exactly is “socialist” in the HCR bill?

    Of course, having a policy debate would require moving past mindless slogans – “socialist”, “most pro-abortion president”. Of course, I could also point out to your that your own ideology is almost identical to the liberalism opposed by the Vatican for quite a long time.

  • Awesome Post!

    Reagan also signed the UN declaration against torture and his DOJ successfully tried and convicted a Texas sheriff for waterboarding prisoners, so I guess that he solved those current debates as well!

  • Oh No! But I just realized that Ronald Reagan might disagree with Friedrich von Hayek on this question, who wrote, in his Road to Serfdom, that “Where, as in the case of sickness and accident, neither the desire to avoid such calamities nor the efforts to overcome their consequences are as a rule weakened by the provision of assistance, where, in short, we deal with genuinely insurable risks, the case for the state helping to organise a comprehensive system of social insurance is very strong.”

    And now I don’t know WHAT to think!?!

  • We could also say that Reagan raised taxes pretty much every year of his presidency, and pushed for a very ambitious arms control deal! The modern GOP would denounce him a “lib-uh-ral socialist”!

  • Here is the text of the speech:

    http://www.elephantowners.com/?page_id=68

    Reagan’s warnings have proven prescient. Medicare and Medicaid have grown and grown. We cannot pay for them just as we cannot pay for Obamacare. The government as an insurer has driven up the costs of medicine for all.

    Oh and Tony, the most pro-abortion President in our history isn’t a slogan, but a reality. You supported him and now you aren’t even going to get health care. He is also producing a political reaction which is going to sweep the Democrats from power in November in Congress and across the country. As a Republican I would like to thank you. Obama is the best thing that has happened to the GOP since Jimmy Carter!

  • “Reagan’s warnings have proven prescient. Medicare and Medicaid have grown and grown. We cannot pay for them just as we cannot pay for Obamacare.”

    As have Eisenhower’s regarding the military-industrial complex. But few “conservatives” seem to think that that is much of a problem.

    The point of all this, of course, is that it’s rather silly to think that the policy positions of American politicians–Republican or Democrat–should have any bearing on arguments (rather than sloganeering) about what is actually beneficial to the commonweal.

  • However plausible Reagan’s predictions may have been at the time, they have not been borne out by subsequent events. It’s been 45 years since Medicare was enacted, and it hasn’t led to a total government takeover of medicine. In fact, I think there’s a plausible argument to be made that Medicare is one of the main impediments to passing a universal health care plan today.

  • Instituting programs that we cannot pay for is not beneficial to the commonweal, but rather bankrupts the commonweal. As for Defense, that thing that gives you the freedom to comment on blogs, it took up 23% of the federal budget in 2009. Social Security took up 20% and Medicare and Medicaid 19%.

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

    Medicare and Medicaid are going to explode in costs over the next two decades and there is no clue how to pay for them other than for the government to continue to borrow until—well, I guess until we can’t borrow anymore or our economy collapses under the debt burden.

  • I’m not sure how mandating that people purchase something from the private sector constitutes “socialism”?

  • And that’s not even to say it is a good idea. This is strictly speaking toward definition.

  • Wj,

    If you think that Hayek quote is amazing, check out this one (from the Constitution of Liberty):

    Once it becomes the recognized duty of the public to provide for the extreme needs of old age, unemployment, sickness, etc., irrespective of whether the individuals could and ought to have made provision themselves and particularly once help is assured to such an extent that it is apt to reduce individuals’ efforts, it seems an obvious corollary to compel them to insure (or otherwise provide) against those common hazards of life. The justification in this case is not that people should be coerced to do what is in their individual interest but that, by neglecting to make provision, they would become a charge to the public. Similarly, we require motorists to insure against third-party risks, not in their interest but in the interest of others who might be harmed by their action.

    Finally, once the state requires everybody to make provisions of a kind which only some had made before, it seems reasonable enough that the state should also assist in the development of appropriate institutions . . .

    Up to this point the justification for the whole apparatus of “social security” can probably be accepted by the most consistent defenders of liberty. Though many may think it unwise to go so far, it cannot be said that this would be in conflict with the principles we have stated . . . It is only when the proponents of “social security” go a step further that the crucial issues arise. Even at the beginning state of “social insurance” in Germany in the 1880’s, individuals were not merely required to make provision against those risks which, if they did not, the state would have to provide for, but were compelled to obtain this protection through a unitary organization run by the government.

  • Reagan’s warnings have proven prescient. Medicare and Medicaid have grown and grown.

    Reagan was warning that eligibility for the programs would expand, not cost. That hasn’t happened.

  • “As for Defense, that thing that gives you the freedom to comment on blogs….”

    Funny, I thought that was the Constitution. Thanks for pointing out my ignorance!

  • Eric,

    The moment congress passes this bill, within a generation, we will no longer have what you refer to as the “private sector”.

  • The moment congress passes this bill, within a generation, we will no longer have what you refer to as the “private sector”.

    This strikes me as unlikely. What in the bill do you think will do away with private sector health care?

  • It’s not in the bill.

    But succeeding congresses will expand the bill to include a government option. Will ultimately be a single payer “option”.

    I probably should have said an incremental march towards the elimination of private health insurance.

  • Blackadder,

    Yes, that quote is amazing. I am always impressed by the clarity and nuance of Hayek’s thinking; if Republicans were more consistently Hayekian and Democrats were more consistently social democratic then we might have actual arguments about policy! We would also be living on another planet, of course.

  • Tito,

    Why do you think passing this bill now will make passing those bills in the future any more likely? Usually passing a bill on a subject makes it harder to revisit that subject legislatively, not easier.

  • BA,

    They would not necessarily pass more bills, but it can happen.

    They would also expand the power of said agencies that would squeeze the private sector more and more.

    Not to mention executive orders that can expand the powers of said agencies and restrict those of the private sector.

  • Well, what do you mean by “private sector” anyway?

  • Tito,

    Okay, but all that stuff could happen regardless of whether the current bill is passed. Why is this an argument against the current bill?

  • I ask because it seems that, in your mind, there are these two abstract entities–the “private sector” on the one hand, and “government” on the other–that are necessarily in opposition. But this over-simple characterization does not fit the *actual* way in which the health-care industry (and, for that matter, most other large industries) operates in America.

  • BA,

    Because it is a slippery slope of creeping government involvement in people’s lives.

    WJ,

    Please explain.

  • Can’t–going to bed; briefly, though, I understand your distinction to hold for small businesses, relatively local economies, etc. but not for huge corporate enterprises which sometimes enjoy monopolist status and have the clout to influence legislation in their interests; for such enterprises, any simple distinction like the one you draw seems inadequate for accounting for the facts on the ground.

  • “Funny, I thought that was the Constitution. Thanks for pointing out my ignorance!”

    You are welcome. Without military force to back it up, the Constitution is just another piece of paper.

  • As have Eisenhower’s regarding the military-industrial complex. But few “conservatives” seem to think that that is much of a problem.

    Perhaps becuase the allocation of available resources to military expenditure fluctuates up and down in response to external conditions and is lower now than was the case in 1960.

  • which sometimes enjoy monopolist status and have the clout to influence legislation in their interests;

    The only monopolists in our economy are gas and electric companies and (to some extent) the postal service.

  • (and, for that matter, most other large industries) operates in America.

    That’s just what we need, more crony capitalism.

  • Well, what do you mean by “private sector” anyway?

    Never mind.

  • We could also say that Reagan raised taxes pretty much every year of his presidency,

    You could say that, if you’ve forgotten that legislation is enacted by Congress and that legislative initiative in matters of taxation and appropriation rests with the lower house of Congress, and that the lower house of Congress was controlled by the political opposition for all eight years he was in office.

  • Of course, having a policy debate would require moving past mindless slogans – “socialist”, “most pro-abortion president”.

    Those are not slogans, those are characterizations (the latter quite accurate).

  • Tito: “we will no longer have what you refer to as the “private sector”…slippery slope of creeping government involvement in people’s lives.

    So, the government should not regulate anything that privaet insurers do? So you are fine with them covering abortion, I take it?

  • As for Defense, that thing that gives you the freedom to comment on blogs, it took up 23% of the federal budget in 2009.

    I’m reminded here of an old Lincoln quote:

    All the armies of Europe, Asia and Africa combined, with all the treasure of the earth (our own excepted) in their military chest; with a Buonaparte for a commander, could not by force, take a drink from the Ohio, or make a track on the Blue Ridge, in a trial of a thousand years.

    We don’t need to spend anywhere near 23% of the budget on defense to ensure freedom of blogging in the U.S.

  • Blackadder,

    You’re being much too reasonable to be taken seriously on this thread.

  • We don’t need to spend anywhere near 23% of the budget on defense to ensure freedom of blogging in the U.S.

    Just out of curiosity, do you have in mind a scenario of what occurs given particular levels of American military spending?

  • “All the armies of Europe, Asia and Africa combined, with all the treasure of the earth (our own excepted) in their military chest; with a Buonaparte for a commander, could not by force, take a drink from the Ohio, or make a track on the Blue Ridge, in a trial of a thousand years.”

    Considering how fearful Lincoln was during the Trent Affair of the possibility of British intervention, I doubt if he meant that statement literally. Additionally, in an age of ICBMs and the coming age of portable nukes by non-state terrorist groups, things have changed militarily a tad since Lincoln gave that speech.

  • Anyone who cannot see that Reagan was right about his beliefs needs to answer these questions:

    1. Did Medicare achieve the goals intended at the costs it promised? Further, is it almost broke now?

    2. Was Reagan right that Medicare was just a preemptive move to pass Socialized Healthcare?

    My answers for those questions are:

    1. No, it has exploded in size, cost, and is rife with Govt corruption and inefficiency.

    2. Obamacare anyone?