Thinking Rationally About Secession

Monday, November 19, AD 2012

Secession has been in the news lately. Well, not the mainstream news, for the most part, but local, Internet and alternative news outlets have been reporting a growing number of signatures added to secession petitions submitted to Washington (one has it at over 750,000 signatures). This began almost immediately after President Obama’s reelection, and while no one really expects this particular movement to go anywhere, people on both sides of our political divide take it somewhat seriously as a sign of how polarized and unstable our situation has become.

I’m going to tell you what I think about secession, and my hope is that readers will find it somewhat reasonable. In short, I reject the absolutely hysterical and frothing narrative that comes from some leftist quarters about the evil of secession. I don’t much appreciate the haughty dismissal and contempt that comes from some on both the left and the right, as if only a mental patient would want to secede from what America has become. Lastly, I don’t agree with the secessionists, but it has nothing to do with any sort of moral or philosophical objection to the principle of secession (I don’t think it is racist or crazy, in other words). Now to the meat and bones.

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145 Responses to Thinking Rationally About Secession

  • “Any people anywhere, being inclined and having the power, have the right to rise up, and shake off the existing government, and form a new one that suits them better. This is a most valuable,– most sacred right–a right, which we hope and believe, is to liberate the world. Nor is this right confined to cases in which the whole people of an existing government, may choose to exercise it. Any portion of such people that can, may revolutionize, and make their own, of so much of the teritory as they inhabit. More than this, a majority of any portion of such people may revolutionize, putting down a minority, intermingled with, or near about them, who may oppose their movement. Such minority, was precisely the case, of the tories of our own revolution. It is a quality of revolutions not to go by old lines, or old laws; but to break up both, and make new ones.”

    Abraham Lincoln, January 12, 1848

    Lincoln distinguished between the right of revolution enshrined in the Declaration of Independence and a mythical right of secession supposedly contained in the Constitution, I assume, if it is smeared with lemon juice and held up to moonlight in a full moon.

    The right of revolution has important caveats able set forth by Mr. Jefferson:
    “Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.”

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  • Mr Jefferson also said, “no society can make a perpetual constitution, or even a perpetual law. The earth belongs always to the living generation: they may manage it, then, and what proceeds from it, as they please, during their usufruct. They are masters, too, of their own persons, and consequently may govern them as they please. But persons and property make the sum of the objects of government. The constitution and the laws of their predecessors are extinguished then, in their natural course, with those whose will gave them being. This could preserve that being, till it ceased to be itself, and no longer. Every constitution, then, and every law, naturally expires at the end of thirty-four years. If it be enforced longer, it is an act of force, and not of right. ” (Letter to James Madison September 6 1789)

    For reasons he gives at some length, he did not think a mere right of repeal to be a sufficient safeguard.

    Here in Scotland, with no weapon but discussion and no adversary but prejudice, the Scottish people have obtained from the Westminster government the recognition of their right of self-determination and a referendum on independence will be held in 2014 – The seven hundredth anniversary of the Battle of Bannockburn. Whatever the outcome, the principle is, on all sides, admitted.

  • I signed the petition at Whitehouse.gov for my State to secede frm the Union, not because I took the movement seriously, but because I despise and loathe that godless man of sin and depravity, and his demonic and diabolical Democrats who in their day some 150 years ago enslaved the black man just as today they murder the unborn:

    https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/petition/peacefully-grant-state-north-carolina-withdraw-united-states-and-create-its-own-new-government/rx1KDYTs

    I just hope God has mercy on this once formerly Christian Constitutional Republic. I don’t really “believe in” secession, but I do want Barack Hussein Obama and the Democrats removed from power permanently. Other than that, I have nothing profound to contribute to this excellent post, with most of whose points I agree.

  • I signed the Oregon Petition. Sure, I would love a Catholic Cascadia- but it is never going to happen. I signed it for an entirely different reason:

    Memento Mori. When a general in old Rome won a great victory, a servant would walk behind him, continually chanting “Remember, O man, that you too are mortal”.

    That is what these uselss petitions on Whitehouse.gov are- memento mori to President Obama- remember that you too are mortal- that you do not have a mandate and stop acting like a dictator.

  • I agree with you wholeheartly sir, the petition to secede from the Union, will undoubtedly fail. There is no real dispute in my mind about that point. The Federal government will not willingly allow a section of the country just leave peacefully, as much as I would absolutely love a bloodless and mutual dissolution of the current Union, that simply is, just a fairy tale. However, the petition I think does serve a purpose.

    It is a rallying cry, if you will, to let other secessionists know that they are no alone in their sentiments. Indeed, I have found the petition most heartening in recent days since the election, hopeful that in fact there maybe brighter days on the horizon for those that espouse the sentiments set down by the Founding Fathers and our Confederate forebearers. That through hard-work, sacrifice and faith in God we can bring at least part of America back to the founding principles.

    The secessionist movement is not a new one, it has been an ongoing battle since our nation was founded. And over the years the Federal government has slowly gained more and more power, eroding the liberties of the people ever so slightly. yet since the Civil War, no one dared stand against them. I firmly believe that this is just the beginning. With membership of state militias on the rise and the increasing discontentment with the Fed, I think that we have a very real chance now to finally claim our independence which has been denied to us for so long.

    Deo Vindice, and God Save the South.

  • Bonchamps, I’m in 100% agreement with you.

  • I have a better idea. I am seceding from the ranks of those “pulling the wagon” and joining in the “wagon” the moochers and looters.

  • Taking this all out of the realm of theory, I would shudder at the idea of a Second Civil War being fought with modern weaponry, quite likely with nuclear weapons. We would have the additional horror of most states having blue and red areas within them, intermixed. What that would be like would probably be far worse than the worst of the partisan warfare in Kansas and Missouri during the Civil War.

  • That quote by Jefferson above, this is what I have heard. TJ may have in fact expected secession of States if a government started to act detrimental to the State of the Union.

  • I would like to believe that no one would actually use nuclear weapons, since they would likely be destroying cities and lands that they would one day like to occupy and control.

    I think a second civil war in the US would look like the Spanish Civil War, though. Bombed-out towns and villages, cities turned into battlegrounds, the lines of battle being mostly ideological and religious.

  • After watching There be no dragons, I read another book on the Spanish Civil War, 300,000 killed in a space of 3 years. I think that’s worse than our own Civil War.

  • I think there will be civil war, not that I want that to happen. Of course not! But there is no talking to liberals. There is no dialogue to be had. I just had to block a relative on Facebook because she is so in love with Obama and so hateful and spiteful against Romney, the GOP and anything conservative. Every discussion always turns sour. A rational person cannot reason with an Obama lover. And this woman claims to be a Christian while she proudly supports abortion as a woman’s right to chose. Sorry, guys. These people will never “get it”. Either thay have to be defeated peacefully via the election process (which we failed at this November), or they will start civil war with violence to shut us up.

  • “or they will start civil war with violence to shut us up.”

    I don’t think it will come to that Paul, but if it did I think they would find that they had “chosen poorly”.

  • Thank you, Donald. I do not want any violence. I just want liberals to leave us alone and in peace to practice our Faith as we choose to, instead of shoving their infanticide and sodomy down our throats. Sure, I have a mini-14, but if any violence did occur, then I would likely be hiding in my apartment using a weapon far bigger than my rifle – my Rosary. I am otherwise a coward, which is why I went on a Navy submarine – I didn’t want my behind shot off in the jungle or desert. And as to your comment about nuclear weapons, having been up close and personal with such weapons in the Torpedo Room on my old submarine, I can’t imagine the horror that might occur. Kyrie Eleison. Christe Eleison. Kyrie Eleison.

  • If I can put my tin foil hat on, do you think it’s possible that “The Powers That Be” put Obama in power for the purpose of destroying this country? Sometimes I think the left, outside of this country, sees Obama as their Gorbachev. As he presided over the demise of the Soviet Union, Obama will presided over the demise of the USA. It would explain, sort of, why he was given the Noble Peace prize – in advance?

  • I don’t think a violent secession could happen in the US, at least not before years of serious deterioration. Serious deterioration – think Haiti, not Detroit. I think our sense of national unity and belief in assimilation is so weakened, though, that a prolonged secessionist sentiment could gain sympathy. Hawaii, Alaska, Utah, or certain Indian reservations are the most likely initiators. Ballot support of mroe than 80% over several years would get noticed.

    Among the problems an amicable split would face: currency, debt, citizenship, government.

  • Two additional thoughts.

    The model for secession wouldn’t be the US South, but the northern Roman Empire – de facto independence due to severe contraction.

    There’s no place in the US which, if it seceded, would become more Catholic. Boston and New Orleans aren’t leaving. A second Mexico would be possible, but at the cost of becoming more a Central American country than a North American.

  • When Texas is ready to secede, I’m ready to go. Until then, some of my family is looking at moving out of this country, if they can find a country that fits their criteria. How sad t;his whole situation is, but I am a Catholic child of God before I am an American. And America is becoming intolerable.

  • I think the proper role for any patriotic American is always to stand by the country and to fight for what the Founding Fathers intended: a free people and a limited government. I am going nowhere and I will not allow some Leftists to destroy this country.

  • Secession isn’t going to happen.

    I agree with Donald, stay in our country, reproduce and educate our children, and demographics will work itself out in the future.

  • This is the most startling thread I’ve read.

    I, for one, will stand with the United States against any and all comers, foreign or domestic. I cannot conceive of the circumstances under which I would turn against her and would take up arms to defend her against anyone who did.

    I would happily count the most thuggish union enforcer as my brother if it was to put down an armed movement to rip the Unitd States apart.

    This secession movement is a bizarre knee-jerk reaction to things not going our way. It is beneath contempt and I sincerely hope that no fools pull a Ruby Ridge and get themselves and some good cops killed over this insanity.

  • Looking at it from the distance of 3000 miles across the pond, one would hope that while the idea of secession was the tool to get Federal attention, States Rights was the more immediate and acceptable goal. Having that national debate is the necessity, because that is what the system was set up for. The more people who know and talk about the Constitution in the face of positivist interpretations of it, the better. Knowedge is power.

  • The problem with idle threats comes when someone takes them seriously. We have unsanctioned states militias all over the US. For the most part they are harmless enough, a group of citizens letting off steam. In that grop though are hardcore survivalists, white suppremists and neo-nazis, and bona fide mentally ill people.

    Give them a cause and the trappings of justification and they will work all kinds of mischief. At the least they’ll get themselves arrested. Rememer the Lyndon La Rouche insanity and the “income tax is unlawful crowd”. I don’t think the daft bastards who bought into that nonsense did themselves any favors.

  • My sentiments are with the secessionists, for various reasons, one of them not yet broached here. I think that a “democracy” of 300 million persons is an absurdity, a contradiction in terms. The federal government has grown so metastatic, that the actual political life of the average citizen has been reduced nearly to zero. We’d be healthier if we were four or five nations, just as California would be healthier if it were broken up into three states. One of the salutary effects of such fragmentation would be that people in our largely dysfunctional cities would have to come to terms with everybody else; there wouldn’t be so many and so various places to hide.

    Or do the thought experiment in reverse. Imagine belonging to the European Union. Or imagine that everybody in the world gets to vote for our archons in Brussels. Fat lot of good that would do. Give me back a little bit of political liberty, please. An aside: there’s not one Founding Father, not the most centralizing among them (say, Hamilton), who wouldn’t have found what we have now to be monstrous and tyrannical. That sound you hear isn’t tea splashing in the waters of Boston Harbor. It’s our Founders, retching.

  • ” I cannot conceive of the circumstances under which I would turn against her and would take up arms to defend her against anyone who did.”

    Natural rights are more important, sacred, and valuable than any particular political entity or government, which exist for no other reason but to protect those rights. Obedience to God may well one day require you to disobey, resist, refuse and even fight with the federal government. I don’t say that it is today. But it may be tomorrow. We are not morally bound only to our duty to resist, either – it is within our right to establish new political bodies to secure the natural rights for which all governments exist to protect.

    If this frightens you, then I have to ask, what is your guiding philosophy? Legal positivism? Nationalism?

  • “”If any state in the Union will declare that it prefers separation…
    to a continuance in union… I have no hesitation in saying,
    ‘let us separate.’ “- Thomas Jefferson

    Ron Paul, Secession is a deeply American Principle!

    http://www.politico.com/news/stories/1112/84058.html

    “Paul wrote that secession must still be an option to be used as leverage to make sure the government doesn’t “encroach” on Americans’ liberties.

    Paul wrote that secession is a form of American freedom.

    “At what point should the people dissolve the political bands which have connected them with an increasingly tyrannical and oppressive federal government?” Paul wrote.”

    Read more: http://www.politico.com/news/stories/1112/84058.html#ixzz2CiW6ANYc

  • Ron Paul is absolutely right ::braces for the “Ron Paul is a treasonous kook” comments::

    What kind of historically ignorant foolishness imagines that a nation can’t dissolve, especially when it has become the enemy of the very ends for which it was instituted?

  • “Secession isn’t going to happen.”

    Quite right Tito. I might add that our enemies around the globe would love nothing better than to see the United States dissolve into a group of weak squabbling Republics.

  • It is difficult to say what I woulddo if my government became an oppressive regime. Not only are far from that point, I don’t honestly believe we can get there.

    The US Constitution is a subtle and powerful instrument for good. I consider it inspired, a thing of rare genious. It survived slavery, that birth defect that threatened to kill our nation and it survived the Roosevelts. Even Obama, that hubris ridden fool who believed he could subordinate the Constitution to his hoards of deranged followers, is receiving a well deserved thrashing.

    As an intellectual exercise, let us assume that Executive Orders and Regulations continue to grow in importance and, thus, overwhelm affirmative law. The President would then, in a Chavez like fashion, assume full rule-making and enforcement powers, checked only by the courts, cowed though they be.

    I might very well find myself jailed and dispossessed. Me and mine might be jobless and friendless in an alien nation that hates us. I like to think that, even then, I would not take up arms against her.

    I note that we haven’t let Christ speak in this discussion. Why is that? Is the recognition that He accepted death without justly striking back, even for justice, too much for us? The Apostles too; they could not know that humbly accepting the judgment of man would bring mighty Rome to her knees. And the early church, did she rise up in defense even of the innocent? No? Well then, there must be a lesson in there for us.

    No. The evil you postulate is a figment of your imagination and the intellectual exercise is flawed in its articulation. It is a flight of fancy and one that could lead to great mischief.

  • It isn’t going to happen any time soon. But ever? There is no rational basis for faith in the permanence of the United States of America. Countries come and go, empires rise and fall. The Holy Roman Empire was around for about a thousand years but it too was eventually dissolved.

    God is permanent, and the rights with which we are endowed by Him are permanent, and any body of armed men that was once instituted and consented to for the protection of those rights that later begins to trample and oppress those rights can wield no legitimate authority. Our our federal government, if it hasn’t passed this marker yet entirely, has passed it at least in part.

    When the HHS mandate goes into effect, and Catholic institutions are closed down after bishops and priests are dragged off to prison by Obama’s gendarmerie, do you not believe we will have reached such a point? Even if the response is not the secession of the states, it will be a kind of resistance that more or less adds up to the same thing in terms of social and political strife. Or at least it ought to be, and one hopes it will be.

  • ” The evil you postulate is a figment of your imagination and the intellectual exercise is flawed in its articulation. It is a flight of fancy and one that could lead to great mischief.”

    Well lay it out for me then, as a defender of the status quo – what evils postulated by myself are figments, exactly? What part of my intellectual exercise is flawed? Do you even care to try and point out my errors, or are you just blowing smoke?

  • Was the resistance in the Vendee nothing but “mischief”? How about the Cristeros? Do you dismiss them as well?

  • “I might very well find myself jailed and dispossessed. Me and mine might be jobless and friendless in an alien nation that hates us. I like to think that, even then, I would not take up arms against her.”

    You know what? That’s your choice. But don’t you dare suggest that the rest of us are insane or immoral for not submitting to the same dispossession and tyranny.

  • 1st off, these secession petitions were for doing such peacefully, let’s not bring in talk of the Militias and Minutemen at this point. Someone wisely said that perhaps if a State voted on this numerous times over a course of years, they might soften the resolve of the federal government.

    The rights of States, okay, Slavery was wrong and it’s easy to see that nowadays but other things, the pro-life issues, marriage laws and others could easily be left up to the States. There is no reason for Utah and New York to have the same laws, yes, they are changed up a bit but still.

  • I hope that Tito and Donald are correct when they wrote that secession isn’t going to happen, at least any time soon.

    I fear Bonchamps is correct when he writes:

    “Natural rights are more important, sacred, and valuable than any particular political entity or government, which exist for no other reason but to protect those rights. Obedience to God may well one day require you to disobey, resist, refuse and even fight with the federal government. I don’t say that it is today. But it may be tomorrow. We are not morally bound only to our duty to resist, either – it is within our right to establish new political bodies to secure the natural rights for which all governments exist to protect.”

    Bonchamps’ analogy of the Cristeros is most appropriate and serves as a warning. Already my company requires gay-friendly on-line training classes for all employees. It’ll become a demand to sign papers in support of gay rights as a condition of employment. I think that will happen within a year or two. From there it’ll just get worse. Priests and Bishops will be sued and then arrested for speaking out against homosexual marriage and abortion on charges of hate speech. That’s happening to a certain extent in England and Canada. It’s all down hill. But maybe Donald’s optimism is right. With all due respect, that optimism wasn’t right, however, with respect to the prognostications for the last election.

    As far as I am concerned, if the good Lord lets Amerika get away with this sexual filth and murder, then He will have to apologize to Sodom and Gomorrah (as well as ancient Athens and Rome). Sorry. Don’t mean to be a pessimist. But I do not want to be a part of this godless national democracy – two wolves and one sheep voting on what’s for dinner. I want the restoration fo our Christian Constitutional Republic, and I think the American people are just like the children of Israel in 1st Samuel chapter 8: too stupid to know what’s good for them and too arrogant to care.

  • “With all due respect, that optimism wasn’t right, however, with respect to the prognostications for the last election.”

    It would become tiresome Paul if one were right all the time! 🙂

    My optimism was fully rewarded in 2010 and we will see what happens in 2014. I would note that the Republicans currently control 30 statehouses and retained 550 of the 690 legislative seats in 2012 that they gained in 2010.

  • at first, I thought you had linked to my blog (http://imperfectfollower.blogspot.com/2012/11/what-were-already-folding.html) because I had the petitions at 750,000+ signatures almost a week ago. Whoops

  • If Arizona were populated entirely with Third Order Franciscans with nuclear weapons and a good understanding of economics, then maybe this conversation would be worth having. It’s not.

  • I don’t know Pinky, some of these governors made the move to ?? get control of their own gold from the Fed. Does that mean secession? No, of course not but I am getting weary if the law of the land becomes one party’s platform that has some intrinsic evils in it, who landwise, are indeed smaller than the rest.

  • “If Arizona were populated entirely with Third Order Franciscans with nuclear weapons and a good understanding of economics, then maybe this conversation would be worth having. It’s not.”

    Are you sure you know what the conversation is about? Because I was pretty clear on my own position. Even if secession isn’t viable, some of the basic principles behind it are entirely justifiable. Even if secession isn’t the answer, civil disobedience and mass resistance to the dictates of the federal government may be morally required in the near future. You can pull out of the conversation but you can’t hold reality in stasis. Something’s gotta give.

  • I have my own take on secession.

    Texas has the world’s 15th largest economy….bigger than Russia..on its own. In 1846, the Republic of Texas was deep in debt and headed for failure unless it joined the United States. Well, that is not the case now, is it? Now, we have an out of control Federal government that behaves as a national government and refuses to abide by the Constitution that was enacted in order to create it.

    Why should Texas accept gay marriage because Massachusetts started it?
    Why should Texas accept Obumblercare when it is clearly a violation of the 10th Amendment?
    Why should Texas not be allowed to enforce its border with Mexico since the Federal government sees poor illegal Mexican immigrants as a source of Democrat votes?

    Should Texas, Oklahoma and Louisiana tell Barack Hussien Kardashian Obumbler (a/k/a The Empty Chair) to shove it I will be there with them. Secession need not be Constitutional since so much of what comes out of Washington is not Constitutional. The Constitution has been shredded already.
    President Empty Chair would not lift a finger to stop Texas because Obumbler is an empty suit…and an empty chair. He would probably not notice.

    A second Civil War? No. Many of the states who formed the Union in the 1860s are now populated by Medicare recipients and countless people who want government to give them what they want. They won’t fight.

  • My Dear Bonchamps, you throw out a challenge and I intend to meet it, as best I can with the humble tools in my possession.

    Let me reiterate though, at the outset, that I have the utmost respect for your intellect and writing. Though at odds often enough, your writing challenges me and I have immense respect for both the gifts you have been given and the exercise of them that you display.

    I will confine myself to your post and not to the comments. Though my previous replies were generalized to respond to both, responding to your post alone is a Herculean task in the comments section.

    First, I agree with you on two predicates that you lay out: that the petition movements aren’t going anywhere and that petitioning the State to leave is absurd. You articulate both ideas well and I have nothing to add to either of them.

    I cannot improve on Abraham Lincoln’s response to secession. The National Park Service explores the issue well. (Search by Lincoln+secession.)

    Let me note what Lincoln does NOT say: that there is no right to rebel or throw off an oppressive government. Secession is an entirely different animal though, no?

    You note that some of the founders of our republic may have intended “some kind of ‘right to secede’” but expressed doubt that it was intended to be a legal right to do so. I entirely agree but I will go farther, I think that a fair reading of Jefferson is that he thought that the government itself would, from time to time, be disbanded and a new government put in place. He certainly wasn’t thinking of secession because he presumed a complete overthrow of government – the inherent right of men to choose for themselves the government by which they will be governed.

    This idea is at the core of my understanding of both the second and tenth amendments. I believe that it was with a mind to preserving the power to oppose government, by force if necessary, that the first government of the United States reserved in the States and their peoples the ability to oppose the federal government.

    It is here though that we appear to split.

    We start from the same crown but take divergent trunks. You seem to be saying: since the United States government will never cede its power over its territory or its people and the people reserve in themselves the right to choose their own government, there is a requisite right to dismantle the United States through secession. I am saying that: since the United States government will never cede its power over its territory or its people and the people reserve in themselves the right to choose their own government, there is a requisite right and duty to remove that government, by force if necessary.

    You speak of a right to secede; I speak of a right to revolt.

    At its core, the Confederate States of America had the argument and their analysis of their rights wrong at inception. They asserted a right to secede where no such right existed. They failed to assert the right that they actually possessed: to ride on Washington, strip the federal government of its powers and insist on a new government.

    You make the same mistake.

    As for the means for bringing the dispute to a head, I can think of dozens of mechanisms, some moral, ethical, lawful; many that are downright evil. And that is my problem with the discussion as it matured.

    There is a nexus between attractive theories and action. We saw it with the La Rouche movement and the arguments that income taxes are unconstitutional. The sovereign citizen movements and the racist movements in the inner cities and rural America are similar. It takes only a seeming sound argument to drive a small group of people right over the edge.

    Let me take on one more point: I meant precisely what I said, that the US Constitution is an inspired document. It has been one of the greatest forces for good in human history. I have fought for the principles articulated therein and would do so again, without a moment’s hesitation – against any enemies, foreign or domestic.

    So long as I was fighting to preserve the principles of the Constitution, I would be willing to bleed for or kill for my country. Dissolve the Constitution – which is the horror that we were addressing, an American tyranny without a valid constitutional government – and my allegiance to THAT government dissolves.

    I like to think that I would fall back on my Christian beliefs and quietly and prayerfully go to the gallows for my faith. I tend to think that I would do so if it were only me but be less inclined to sacrifice my family to the vagaries of tyranny. My guess would be that I would join a movement to directly dissolve the government. I would not, however, seek to pick off a piece of it in some vague and delusional hope that I could create a paradise on earth that would not be immediately overwhelmed and driven into the history books as a mere footnote.

  • G-Veg,

    Thanks for the thoughtful reply.

    Let me just say that I take no options off the table, nor do I insist upon only one option. At this time, secession is not viable. At some time in the future, it might be. If I think it is the best way to protect our natural rights, I will endorse it. If I think that there is a better way to preserve our natural rights, I will endorse that. Secession or revolution, the difference is almost entirely semantic and would result in virtually the same thing.

    What I will not do is put a political entity, i.e. the USA, before natural rights. And I fear that we will become prisoners in our own country not too long from now. Just today a Facebook friend posted something about Dan Savage and it reminded me how much the secular left, and the homosexual radicals in particular, hate us. It is a murderous, fanatical hatred that, if allowed to run its full course, would leave smoldering churches and murdered believers in its wake. It would be like France in 1789, or Russia in 1917, or Spain in 1936.

    Don’t fetishize the Constitution either. The state constitutions are also good, and in both cases they arise from a history, from a tradition, and from a faith that still exists. As long as these things exist we will establish legal documents that will reflect and hopefully protect them. We can lose the US Constitution and come up fine if we remember where we come from.

  • My reaction to this conversation is to remember Jeremiah, and his advice during the Babylonian subjugation and exile. He reminded the people of their responsibility to be personally moral and to live a good life in obedience to their covenant with God. They had slid downhill. They had responsibility for the moral decline and their own resulting weakness and exile. They had over the years turned their back on their own founding “documents” the book of the Covenant.
    Living a life of faith daily in the middle of the pagan society is a witness to the Truth. Ultimately this would be the route back to their own ideals (and home)
    Living in and among the pagans but keeping and building their own faith made them a light, not only to the pagans, but to their own people in exile and to the upcoming generations… winners while losing.
    As the iniquity of the nations plays out we have most of all to remain true to God and our own covenant with Him. America has a special calling in the world– and we -each- as Americans are to live up to that calling and I think we have to take a long view. We may think we are living in Babylon right now, and a smarter more subtle “secession” of non participation in the pagan culture around us coupled with earnest rebuilding of our own civilization of love within the world may sound crazy and pie in the sky; but it just may also bring about change and help us get back to our own foundational ideals.

  • The base problem is that over the years, the Federal govt has usurped more and more of the various states authority, and , as a total outsider who does not really understand US politics ( the complexity of it drives me nuts 😉 ) the individual states that run their own affairs properly are frustrated at the Federal govt which has become totally socialstic under O’Bumbler are running the country into ruin.

    I agree with Don and others who say, don’t run away from the problem – face it and fight it. Otherwise I’d have to think that you yanks are a bunch of wooses (;-).

    And I’d be, of course, totally wrong – wouldn’t I ?

  • I live in Amish country anzlyne and their communal life, or at least an idealised version of it, is attractive to me. It is interesting that the Left has no cognizable interest in Amish America, even though the strictures of their faith require spanking of children, acceptance of one’s lot in life, the subordination of women, etc. I’ve thought many times “we should become a separate people unto ourselves, living apart and obeying our own rules.” The Hasidim live thus too and, arguably, many recent Indian spirituality groups live apart but among the broader society.

    What is common to all of these geoups is the use of shunning. Any group member who strays from the visible path of right conduct is cast out and further contact, even by close family members is barred. This forces conformity and it appears essential to the long term existence of such communities.

    I do not reject this position. Our RadTrad brothers and sisters have moved that direction though I would argue that they are not as separate as they need to be for the movement to maintain itself beyond this JPII generation. However, Christ calls us to be the leaven of the world. That seems to imply mixing and mingling with it doesn’t it?

    As for standing and fighting, I’m going to treat your rhetorical question as an answerable one.

    I think American bark a lot at first and that scares many off. Then we go silent as we start to get serious about the matter: a dog circling in the shadows. The foolish interpret the silence as cowardice and approach, then all hell breaks loose.

    What worries me is that those more strongly inclined to libertarian ideals have legitimate complaints that have gone unaddressed for too long. As we have been dragged left by the nanny-state folks, the injuries have piled up. These libertarian-minded floks have been barking louder and louder. At some point, they will fall silent. The American Left are just tone deaf enough to interpretthat silence as consent and will boldly step up on the porch. God help us all if we get to that point.

  • “We would have the additional horror of most states having blue and red areas within them, intermixed. What that would be like would probably be far worse than the worst of the partisan warfare in Kansas and Missouri during the Civil War.”

    Guerrilla/partisan warfare in border states is an aspect of the Civil War that, I believe, gets less attention than it deserves — perhaps because it doesn’t fit into the conventional narrative of noble Johnny Rebs and brave Billy Yanks marching off to fight the great battles immortalized in history books, novels, and movies. Few people like to think about Johnny Reb and Billy Yank living only a few miles apart and conducting organized campaigns of harassment, deception, robbery, torture and eventually murder against one another and their families.

    Although Civil War battle reenactment is a cottage industry of sorts, I doubt that even the most hardcore reenactors care to recreate incidents like William Quantrill’s 1863 raid on Lawrence, Kansas (in which 150-200 residents, mostly men and young boys, were killed) or the 1864 massacre at Centralia, Mo., led by “Bloody Bill” Anderson (which started with a train robbery/hijacking and ended with more than 100 Union soldiers being slaughtered and mutilated), or the execution by Union military of 10 randomly chosen Confederate POWs at Palmyra, Mo., in 1862, in retaliation for the disappearance of a local Union militia leader (it made international news at the time but is pretty much forgotten about today). Not to mention thousands of smaller incidents in which bushwhackers or jayhawkers or whatever they called themselves at the time functioned as death squads wandering the countryside robbing, torturing or killing anyone they knew or suspected to be sympathetic to the other side (with the definition of “other side” subject to change at any time).

    I suspect this aspect of the war has been neglected because most people who lived through it just wanted to forget about it when it was over, and if they participated in it, took no pride in having done so, with a few notable exceptions such as Jesse James (who is more associated with the Old West than with the Civil War in the popular imagination). However, I think we neglect it at our peril, because if it happened before, who’s to say it couldn’t happen again?

    The book “April 1865: The Month that Saved America” by Jay Winik, which I’ve referred to before on this blog, sums up its review of Civil War guerrilla action with a quote from a Union military officer who had served in the Kansas/Missouri border area: “There was something in the hearts of good Christian people… which had exploded.”

  • The question of secession raises an obvious question: is the United States a nation?

    In Europe, nationality is defined by descent and birth, and it is neither revocable nor is it attainable at will. A Pole, for example, may lose his citizenship – as happened in the three partitions of Poland – but not his nationality. The term nationality, as we understand it, does not refer to citizenship and legal status, but to ethnic characteristics that are transmitted through descent. Underlying this is the assumption that the nation is a unit of common descent and blood; not of voluntary adherence and of association. As Mazzini put it, “They speak the same language, they bear about them the impress of consanguinity, they kneel beside the same tombs…”

    That is why we can speak, for example, of a Hungarian minority in Romania or a Swedish minority in Finland

    How do Americans see themselves? This, surely, has a great bearing on the question of secession.

  • “Was the resistance in the Vendee nothing but “mischief”?”

    No, but think what provoked it. The nobility had been overthrown, the king had been beheaded and the Republic proclaimed, the Non-Juring priests had been expelled. This had been resented, but the people never stirred. Then, on 10 March 1793, the conscription began.

    As Acton says, “the demand that they should go out, under officers whom they distrusted, and die for a government which persecuted them, caused an outbreak. They refused to draw their numbers, and on the following day they gathered in large crowds and fell upon the two sorts of men they detested—the government officials, and the newly established clergy.”

    They did not take up arms spontaneously, but, compelled to fight, one way or another, they chose their side.

  • I (am not too rational) think a solution may be to expell banal, bankrupt blue states . . . before they drag down the rest of the states.

    Consider: John Hinderaker at Powerline:

    “For a century or so, guided by brilliant private sector leadership, California was a beacon to the world, a land of opportunity such as never had existed in human history. Unimaginable wealth was created. Yet it required only 40 years of liberal governance to bring the whole thing crashing down. Today, California is the most spectacular failure of our time. Its government is broke. Productive citizens have been fleeing for some years now, selling their homes at inflated prices (until recently) and moving to Colorado, Arizona, Texas and even Minnesota, like one of my neighbors. The results of California’s improvident liberalism have been tragically easy to predict: absurd public sector wage and benefit packages, a declining tax base, surging welfare enrollment, falling economic production, ever-increasing deficits. Soon, California politicians will be looking to less glamorous states for bailout money. Things have now devolved to the point where California leads the nation in poverty.”

    In fact, We’re (CA) Number One!!! Number one in public debt; number one in welfare (one-third of all US welfare, one-eighth of US population); and We’re number 48! California’s eighth graders read better than those in Mississippi and Washington, DC.

  • Also this on California:

    “If you think that I’m wrong on this immigration business and Republican outreach, I want to give you California. California is the future of the country. Do you realize between 1952 and 1988, 1988’s the important year, that is when massive immigration began in California. Between 1952 and 1988, Republicans won every presidential race except 1964. Democrats have won the last five elections. What’s the difference? Between 1952 to 1988, Republicans won every presidential race. The Republicans were, to one degree or another, relevant players in the politics of California. And then the floodgates opened in 1988. And I’m sure the Republicans in California thought, “You know what, if we reach out we can get some of these people to vote for us.”

    http://www.rushlimbaugh.com/daily/2012/11/13/history_shows_amnesty_won_t_win_hispanic_votes_for_republicans

    But this really goes on more with the Pat Buchanan books. Any one of his last several books.

    I am for compassion but also, another bad thing is when a State wants to enforce and guard their borders and you have a Federal Government trying to intervene on the issue as with Arizona.

    Hispanic households unfortunately, tend to have a much higher welfare rate or maybe public assistance than any other group.

  • This talk of secession, as partial as I am to it, is not likely to go anywhere. What is likely is the collapse of the central government (China will eventually come a-callin’ or simply refuse to lend anymore, US credit rating will further drop, we will have to go to war w/ someone – anyone – to scare the world into propping us up, none of which is good). After the collapse, then the state governments, at least those with intact economies, will step in and take over the reigns of their local constituencies. In a sense it will be “peaceful” because there won’t be any central government left to oppose it, but it will be painful because of the economic, political and social upheavel that accompanies any dying regime.

    A prudent state government would be preparing for this eventuality.

    The only uncertainty at this point seems to be the timing.

  • G-Veg said “…the US Constitution is an inspired document. It has been one of the greatest forces for good in human history. I have fought for the principles articulated therein and would do so again, without a moment’s hesitation – against any enemies, foreign or domestic.”

    At the age of 17 I took an oath to defend the constitution of the United States from all enemies, foreign and domestic. I agree with G-Veg that our constitution is an inspired document. The writers of it based it on a worldview that recognized the existence of God and the sinfulness of man.

    To declare an oath to a set of supreme laws and not to a man, to a group of people, or to a chunk of real estate is something that I think set us apart from other nations; it was part of our exceptionalism.

    But in essence the constitution of our country no longer exists. When the words of the document have no meaning, when the reasons for their inclusion in the document are ignored, then we might as well not have a constitution.

    Increasingly, judges make rulings based not on the law, but on the desired outcome. This is why Roberts is such an incredible disappointment. He knew the outcome he wanted and he ruled accordingly, constitution be damned.

    At the tender age of 17 I was mostly ignorant of politics, much less the “constitution in exile” phenomena. Any person who takes an oath to defend the constitution, in this generation, is taking an oath to defend a blank piece of paper.

    I am amused at those who so stridently claim secession will not happen. Forget the shock of Obama winning a second term in contradiction to all conventional wisdom and economic indicators; I have seen enough changes over the last 30 years, both inside and outside my country, to finally innoculate me from thinking that any political contortion is impossible.

    In 1986, when I was playing the cat and mouse game with Soviet subs, if someone had told me that in five years the Soviet Union would cese to exist, I would have turned them in for drug testing.

    Just five years ago, if I had been told that my country would elect a man as president with the middle name of Hussein, a man who was mentored by a black liberation preacher, a man who was best-buds with a domestic terrorist, a man whose only skill seems to be the ability to read from a telepromptor, (and oh, by the way, he’ll get re-elected after presiding over the worst economic performance since the Great Depression, running deficits equal to about 10% of GDP four years in a row, openly championing for gay marraige, and forcing abortion funding down the throats of religious institutions) I would have said you were telling me one of those stories that conservatives tell their children at bed-time so that they will be sure to grow up and never vote liberal.

    To those of you who think seccession is impossible, I would like you to perform this exercise for me: Imagine you are sent back in time 20 years (assuming, like me that you are middle aged). Imagine meeting your younger self and explaining the state of the present day United States. Tell him the percentages of people on public assitance, tell him about Obamacare, tell him about our national debt, our bond rating, try explaining the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, tell him about this latest political campaign and what the Democratic Party pushed as its agenda, and tell him what TSA agents will do to his wife and daughter before they are allowed to board a plane. Does your younger self recognize this country? Would you have thought any of this, not alone all of it, as a possible future for the United States?

    My crystal ball is cloudy and cracked, but there are items in the not so distant future that will put tension on our present political condtion: The looming bankruptcies of some blue states like California, Illinois, and Connecticut. Our national debt explosion. Inflation. The fracturing of the Democratic Party Grand Coalition Of Pandered Groups when the liberals realize there isn’t enough money to buy them all off (Jonah Goldberg predicts they will split seniors vs minorites). And finally, no one likes to admit it, but we really are at war with Islam; eventually they will get their hands on a WMD and approbriate delivery system and use it on us. Each of these is a political singularity, just as 9/11 was. Being able to predict what lies on the other side is imposible for all but God.

    If you are curious about what others have speculated about our country in a future state of extremis, I suggest “Empire” by Orson Scott Card and “The Last Centurion” by Johnny Ringo (sexual content warning for the Ringo book).

  • Our constitution is not an inspired document. It is a law delineating a particular political architecture which has some advantages and some disadvantages.

  • Art Deco: “Our constitution is not an inspired document. It is a law delineating a particular political architecture which has some advantages and some disadvantages.”

    Interesting statement that makes me remember:

    “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”- John Adams

    This does not negate what you say, however, I think one can look at a number of statements per the Founding Fathers and wonder if the Constitution might be somewhat “inspired.”

    Quotes can be trotted out pro and con. I don’t think the question is definitely answered one way or another.

  • “Tell him the percentages of people on public assitance, tell him about Obamacare, tell him about our national debt, our bond rating, try explaining the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, tell him about this latest political campaign and what the Democratic Party pushed as its agenda, and tell him what TSA agents will do to his wife and daughter before they are allowed to board a plane.”

    Tony, I’m not trying to pick a fight, but other than the national debt and bond rating, none of that would have surprised me in 1992. I’d have applauded our airlines for finally getting serious, although I would have been justifiably worried about what might have inspired them to do so. I wouldn’t even say that our Constitution gets noticably less respect than it did in 1992.

  • This does not negate what you say, however, I think one can look at a number of statements per the Founding Fathers and wonder if the Constitution might be somewhat “inspired.”

    Britain has a body of constitutional law salient portions of which antedate our constitution. The Dutch constitution was enacted in 1815. Are either of these ‘inspired’? Why or why not?

  • Tell him the percentages of people on public assitance, tell him about Obamacare, tell him about our national debt, our bond rating, try explaining the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, tell him about this latest political campaign and what the Democratic Party pushed as its agenda, and tell him what TSA agents will do to his wife and daughter before they are allowed to board a plane. Does your younger self recognize this country? Would you have thought any of this, not alone all of it, as a possible future for the United States?

    1. The most destructive public assistance program in 1992 was Aid to Families with Dependent Children. Its successor enrolls about a third the number of people who were enrolled in 1992.

    2. Poorly structured public medical insurance has been on the books since 1965.

    3. We were in a state of belligerency in Iraq in 1992. Please note, the devotion of available resources to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan does not exceed that do devoted during the VietNam War and the death toll of American soldiers is currently running about a tenth of that.

    4. IIRC, the Democratic Party and its news media auxilliaries were quite successful in 1992 in persuading a decisive share of the public that a mild business recession experienced between August of 1990 and April of 1991 was a.) ongoing and b.) some sort of economic cataclysm of a severity not seen in decades.

    5. Metal detectors and occasional pat downs have been features of air travel since 1973. They have grown somewhat more time consuming and thorough, for good or ill.

  • “Britain has a body of constitutional law salient portions of which antedate our constitution. The Dutch constitution was enacted in 1815. Are either of these ‘inspired’? Why or why not?”

    We owe our tradition of law to Great Britain, none the less, the Founders left their for certain reasons.

    ““It can not be emphasized too strongly or too often that this great nation was founded, not by religionists, but by Christians, not on religions, but on the gospel of Jesus Christ!”” – Patrick Henry

    And Blackstone is British, correct?

    “The Founding Fathers got most of their ideas about government from people such as William Blackstone, who got most of their ideas from the Bible. Even the concepts of private property and free enterprise are biblically based.

    In 1844, the U.S. Supreme Court studied the subject of the nation’s spiritual roots and concluded, “Our laws and our institutions must necessarily be based on and must embody the teachings of the Redeemer of mankind.” The Court cited 87 different historical and legal precedents from the Founding Fathers, the Congresses and the state governments.”

    http://www.choicesforliving.com/spirit/part4/america4.htm

  • Do you have an answer Taylor?

  • The triumph of the Union in the Civil War (or better put the war between the states) was what really secured our independence, not so muc the war of 1812. The reason I say this is because Britain was ready to recognize and, if I am not mistaken, supported the Confederacy. Why do you think they did that? They saw a divided America ripe for the taking back. The loss of the American colonies was only about 80 years old at the time and Great Britain was far from being over that loss. It seems clear to me they wanted them back. Perhaps this was one of theings Lincoln had in mind when he said “a divided house cannot stand”.

    What does this have to teach us today? Well, I would say that there are many less benovolent countries that would like to take our place as a superpower. And the threats we face face today are far more malevolent than they were in the 1860s. That alone should be a sober proof text that any talk of sucession on the part of any states is not only stupid, but extremely dangerous.

    I will say this does bring to the fore that this country has serious problems. Waht divides us, in my opinion, is an agressive left against a right that refuses to fight, by and large. We put up weak candidates like John McCain and Mitt Romney. We incessantly cry about the media. But yet Ronald Reagan won two landslides with the same media working against him, but without the massive conservative talk radio network at his disposal. No Fox News Channel either. On that note whoever the GOP nominee is in 2016 needs to insist as non-negotiable that someone form FNC be able to moderate the presidential debates in the fall. And we also have to stop letting ourseleves be intimidated when the left plays the race card and begin painting them as the racists they are.

    With all due respect Bonchamps, joining forces with the pro-dope legalization crowd is not a step in the right direction. I find it peculiar that libertarians who claim to be anti-big government plump for something that is sure to invite more government invlovement like the legalization of drugs and prostitution.

  • Well, I’m a Ron Paul “isolationist”, as you would say, so I really don’t care about who fills what void in what part of the world. As long as they don’t try to invade the United States, it isn’t my problem or my concern. This idea that we need a presence on the world stage simply to prevent other powers from rising is what is really stupid and dangerous – countries inevitably rise and fall, and all we can really decide is how painful our own retraction is going to be. Maybe our time has come and gone, just as the British Empire’s came and went. The UK still exists, and we will still exist. But really I view people who want to spend trillions of dollars just to propagate an ideology abroad as no better than domestic leftists who want to spend trillions of dollars interfering with our lives in this country. It’s a waste of resources in the reckless pursuit of an unattainable idealism.

    You should support anyone who is battling for state’s rights against the federal government. And I am really astonished that you or anyone could believe that legalizing drugs or prostitution could give us more government than we already have now. On the contrary it would cut miles of red tape, it would remove the courts and the police and the social workers from the lives of millions of families, it would save countless millions spent on the entire process from arresting, holding, arraigning, trying, convicting, sentencing and imprisoning people for victimless crimes, it would mean fewer SWAT teams kicking down doors in the middle of the night as if we were in Stalinist Russia, and so on. Nothing but good would come of it.

  • “On the contrary it would cut miles of red tape, it would remove the courts and the police and the social workers from the lives of millions of families”

    Not really. For example, I have been the court appointed counsel for a mother who is a drug addict. So is her husband. They both are on disability. Their kids were taken away from them because they are abysmal parents. That has necessitated court hearings and social worker involvement for three years. They constantly engage in crimes in order to feed their addictions, along with domestic batteries they inflict on each other and third parties when they are high. Mom was just sentenced to two years in prison for a string of robberies. In my experience drug addiction is usually only a symptom of pathologies that usually end up in expensive state interventions. Drug legalization would end none of this and doubtless would increase the number of people who devastate their lives with drug addiction.

  • I am not convinced that illegal drug use and prostitution constitute victimless crimes. Drug use gives rise to a far greater incidence of addiction which has a devasting impact on families, marriages, employment, etc. Drugs like heroin and cocaine are almost always addictive, and while many say that drugs like marijuana are not addictive, virtually every user of harder drugs started out on marijuana and few marijuana users do not eventually try harder drugs. Prostitution also has its victims with husbands, children, etc. The lesson of Hosea and Gomer should be enough to convince us about how prostitution is hardly victimless.

  • I agree with Donald. Those who do not know anything about addiction would do well to go to a few open Narcotics Anonymous Meetings. You can find meetings at sublinks here:

    http://www.na.org/

    Until one takes care of a Daddy going through drug withdrawal while his kids have no hope recovery will ever take, one has no idea what victimization is. Been there. Done that.

  • Don,

    If we’re talking about meth addicts, people hooked on synthetic drugs brewed in some guy’s basement, that’s one thing. I’m mostly talking about people entangled with the system over marijuana, which isn’t physically addictive and which does not generally cause people to engage in violent crime (while alcohol certainly does). The state doesn’t need to be involved with anyone’s life because of marijuana, and probably a few other drugs as well. Others such as meth, I would agree are a public menace.

    Paul,

    Much of what you say may be true, but I don’t believe it is the responsibility of the state or the burden of the taxpayers to deal with these problems. Can marijuana lead to other drugs that are worse? Perhaps. So can alcohol, and it can lead to many other terrible things as well. Does prostitution mess up families? Sure. So does adultery, which is never prosecuted as a crime.

    I don’t object to localities – cities and counties, perhaps even states depending on the issue – enacting penalties against all of the above or none of the above. But I do object to the idea that there ought to be one mandated way of life for the entire nation, enforced by the federal government. There’s no escape unless you leave the country, which means there’s no escape for most people.

    I have faith in the natural law, and that in a free competition those who live clean and sober lives will outlive and outlast people who degrade themselves with vice. But all of this statist interventionism to “save people from themselves” ends up punishing, not helping, those who want to live clean and sober lives, because it is THEIR tax dollars that have to flow into this system of punishment and “corrections.” They’re Sumner’s “Forgotten Men”, but we ought to remember them.

  • I’ll also add that to criminalize prostitution while pornography is legal is an insane double standard. Its like alcohol and pot; legalize them both, or legalize neither, or allow the smallest levels of government to choose what combinations, but end the blatant and obscene hypocrisy at the state and federal levels.

  • “I’ll also add that to criminalize prostitution while pornography is legal is an insane double standard.”

    I agree on the pornography part of what you say. But eactly how does legalizing protitution make things any better?

  • Greg,

    I only I get to insult people on my posts. You want to take potshots at me, get your own blog and fire away. So that post was deleted.

    I think localities ought to have the right to decide how they want to arrange their affairs. I don’t like prostitution, but I don’t think any taxpayer money ought to be spent saving people from themselves. People need to make their own decisions, and Christians, if they want to live in a Christian culture, need to be public and active about it. Private organizations including and especially churches rescue people from themselves all the time and I think that’s fine and great, because the people who go to them want to be saved.

    But I do object to nannyism and paternalism in government. The best thing governments can do is not persecute faith-based organizations that exist to help those who wish to be helped. Government exists to protect natural rights, to protect life, liberty and property from force and fraud. Anything more than that ought to at least be a local matter, not a national one.

  • I disagree with you about marijuana and alcohol, Bonchamps. Libertarians have long tried to tie the two together. I am not buying it.

    As for isolation, the United States tried that. We are in the world, like it or not, Pat Buchanan kvetching or not. Isolation almost got the US clobbered by Japan….if they had nailed the aircraft carriers, Japan could have sailed across the ocean unopposed.

  • “The state doesn’t need to be involved with anyone’s life because of marijuana”

    Probably not, although I would note in Illinois it is rare for anyone to go to prison for marijuana unless they have a very long record indeed, or were involved in shipping a truckload of it, as occurred in my county a few years ago. The drugs of most addicts in my county tend to be heroin and meth.

  • “The looming bankruptcies of some blue states like California, Illinois, and Connecticut”

    Ok everyone, repeat after me: states CANNOT declare bankruptcy, because they are sovereign entities. Municipalities (cities, towns, counties) can declare bankruptcy because legally they are mere creatures of the state in which they are located and have no existence apart from it. A State (or Commonwealth, if you live in KY, VA, PA or MA), however, has a degree of sovereignty and does have the power to impose taxes if necessary. It is NOT possible for any state to legally “declare bankruptcy” in the sense of having all its debts erased.

    That said, this statement is true if we are using the term “bankruptcy” in the figurative or symbolic sense of “running out of money to meet its obligations without imposing ruinous taxes and/or budget cuts”. However, I think we need to be clear that we are not talking about literal bankruptcy as most individuals and businesses know it.

  • Bonchamps,

    I would agree that the regulation and “illegalization” of drugs like heroin, cocaine, etc., should be done not at the Federal Level, but at the State level. I will also concede that making a drug illegal never stopped an addict from obtaining said drug for his addiction. But I have also seen lives wrecked and families destroyed because of drugs. I know of no case where use of cocaine or heroine was innocent and without consequence, and yes, I think States should keep them illegal. I hear that marijuana use can be innocent and without consequence, but every instance with which I am familiar resulted in a gateway to harder substances, but of course my experience is not definitive nor representative of the population at large. I also concede that there is one and only one solution that I know of which works to relieve the scourge of addiction: the 12 Steps. There may be other solutions. I do not know. But in spite of that I think that legalization of hard drugs will only exacerbate an already bad situation. Let the States have the power to regulate as each sees fit without mandates from Washngton, DC. And doesn’t that lead us back to the topic of this post – secession? I signed a secession petition not because I really want secession, but because I want Washngton, DC out of my business. “My 12 Step meetings, and Confession and Mass at my Parish work very well for me, thank you very much, Washington – now bug off with your sexual filth, your baby murdering and your godless liberal insanity!”

  • True Elaine, although I can imagine Congress creating in the years to come a special type of bankruptcy for States. The Federalism problems with such a move are immense, but when the money runs out for Illinois, California, et al, and they are unable to borrow sums to continue robbing Peter Taxpayer to pay various Special Interest Pauls, Congress will have little choice but to set up a mechanism for the States to continue to function.

  • Penguins Fan,

    What don’t you buy? I tie them together because they’re both largely recreational drugs that make people do stupid things when done to excess and generally cause little if any harm when consumed in moderate amounts. In the United States all kinds of narcotics, including pot, were legal until the early 20th century and somehow we survived. The main point is that there is no reason for the state to be involved with marijuana, and I object to one red cent of mine being confiscated to support the persecution of something that people harmlessly do on their own time in their own homes.

    “As for isolation, the United States tried that.”

    And non-interventionism, as we call it, was working fine, as far as I’m concerned. Of course we have to defend ourselves when attacked, which is why I want troops on the Mexican border to destroy the cartels when they encroach on our sovereignty (which they do, by the way).

    I don’t even want to get into the whole WWII debate. I will say, though I think maybe if we didn’t get involved in WWI, there wouldn’t have been a WWII – no Versailles, no Nazis, no Hitler, no Third Reich, no death camps, and a lot of other nonsense besides. Wilsonian idealism had nothing to do with American principles, with the Founding Fathers, with classical liberalism or classical republicanism.

    After Pearl Harbor there wasn’t going to be pure non-interventionism. An old rightist like me understands this. But we didn’t need Korea, Vietnam, Serbia, the Gulf Wars, Afghanistan, and Libya, and we sure as heck don’t need to be involved in Syria or go to war with Iran. Even if I thought it was morally justified, and I don’t, we can’t afford it. A society as deeply dysfunctional, polarized, and indebted as ours cannot rule the world. We have no moral right to rule, and if you doubt that, turn on the television for a little while.

  • I have a disconnect on vice crimes. At an intellectual level, it seems plain that drug and prostitution enforcement have failed and, like Prohibition, greatly increased and externalized the costs. Instead of a buyer destroying their own life with an addiction, there are untold costs visited on innocents at every stage of production, delivery, and consumption. However, proximity to vice breeds vice. You mention pornography and I think that a good example of my concern. I think the explosion of pornography is directly related to availability on the internet. Make drugs as available and I have to think a similar explosion in use would occur.

    This is tough stuff, not at all like Delaware’s trip down Nanny Lane in outlawing spankings.

    I don’t have answers, just questions.

  • “After Pearl Harbor there wasn’t going to be pure non-interventionism. An old rightist like me understands this. But we didn’t need Korea, Vietnam, Serbia, the Gulf Wars, Afghanistan, and Libya….” – Bonchamps

    ————

    It really seems we are in a new era and it’s too bad in that W. Bush often gets tabbed as starting these wars but it really seems like we are in a new era… but if we ever let down our defenses, if we are seriously attacked, it could be pretty bad and I do feel like Washington, DC is a bit lax in security alright.

    I hate saying it but maybe these wars you mentioned will look in the future as what us “white Americans” did. I don’t know and I don’t want to say anything untoward.

    On the other hand, with 911, we had to go to Afghanistan, my view we had to go to the Gulf War though the subsequent Iraq invasion might be questionable.. the Communists were a threat and we had the Vietnam war and Korea was a sad earlier action involving the UN seems to me.

  • Art Deco: Your welcome. I thought those answers were comprehensive.

  • Art Deco: I guess it depends on what you mean inspired, the FFs, the majority of the Founding Fathers were guided by Biblical Principles. That sounds inspired to me. Inspired isn’t a hard threshold to cross really. Perhaps the Dutch and British were inspired too.

  • I’m sure a lot of people know this here and it was on Relevant Radio a few months ago where I first hear it, George Washington “may have been visited” by an Angel or even the Virgin Mary.

    http://www.spiritdaily.net/georgewashington.htm

    “For decades — actually now centuries — rumors have swirled that George Washington, the father of our country, experienced an apparition of an angelic female and possibly the Virgin Mary herself during the harsh trial at Valley Forge.

    Whether the vision was authentic and if so whether the figure he supposedly saw in it was Mary are two matters that will probably never be answered.

    There are, however, some intriguing hints — and at the very least Washington (known to offer up his suffering and to have a woman “say the beads” for him) was far more spiritual than most of our history teachers taught

    Most tantalizing was a report in volume 4, number 12 of an old nineteenth-century veterans publication known as the National Tribune. Now known as Stars and Stripes, the publication quoted a man named Anthony Sherman as describing a vision that allegedly occurred in 1777. ”

    A lot more on the web about this.

  • This was actually a tall tale written by Charles W. Alexander in 1859. It was published in a magazine in 1861. It is fiction that people who are not aware of its background sometimes mistakenly accept as fact. Go to the link below to read all about it:

    http://www.snopes.com/history/american/vision.asp

  • Art Deco: I guess it depends on what you mean inspired, the FFs, the majority of the Founding Fathers were guided by Biblical Principles. That sounds inspired to me. Inspired isn’t a hard threshold to cross really. Perhaps the Dutch and British were inspired too.

    Those chaps were disproportionately deist. That aside, the intellectual life of Europe prior to about 1715 was steeped in the study and discussion of Christian texts (and not in attempting to debunk them). Are you going to call any surviving document from that era is ‘inspired’?

    And you keep evading the question. The salient period for the development of parliamentary government in Britain was during the ministries of the younger William Pitt (1784-1801). That is to say, it was contemporary with the composition of the U.S. Constitution and its initial amendments. Why is our constitution ‘inspired’ and British parliamentary practice something else?

  • I accept reading the Snopes link left by Mr. McClarey and would not argue it. I also did some bing websearches and came up with this post from this blog in 2009: http://the-american-catholic.com/2009/11/05/george-washington-and-catholics/

    I have read things and heard things about George Washington and it does appear like they embellish the truth. You will not read these things in “accepted” historical sources of George Washington so they may well be tall tales.

    Mr. McClarey is surely well informed on these things. Here is another I will say possible embellishment of George Washington: http://freemasonrywatch.org/george_rc.html

    But you certainly do hear these stories out there.

    —————-

    On the topic of Masons/Freemasons, I have to tell my tale on this real quick, there is a Catholic School, Junior High, here and at the same time, oddly enough, there seems to be a Masonic Temple/Building on those same grounds. The Mason Building doesn’t have windows just like they say. I’m pretty undecided about this and it’s not real important to me. I did however exchange emails with one of those authors that has written on this topic and he is very weary of them.

  • I don’t believe Washington was visited by an angel or the Blessed Virgin.

    I believe that Washington and the Continental Army won our Indepenendece with Divine Assistance.

  • “I believe that Washington and the Continental Army won our Indepenendece with Divine Assistance.”

    http://almostchosenpeople.wordpress.com/2011/11/17/general-washington-and-the-lord-of-hosts/

  • I’m afraid my use of the word “inspired” was unfortunate because it sent usdown a rabbit hole. I meant it to be non-specific in the sense of “your version of the piece was inspired” not “the Bible is the inspired word of God”.

    Our constitution contains ideas from a range of sources, some ancient, some contemporary.

    Taylor isn’t wrong though in suggesting that Providence was active in and among the Framers. I see no cause to ridicule his attribution and, it seems to me that one must ascribe the confluence of characters and ideas that framed out such an “inspired” document to either favorable chance or Providence, depending on your spiritual inclinations.

    As for the predicate and underlying assumptions that the Framers worked with, it is ahistorical to suggest that they did not assume that nearly all of their countrymen believed in and feared God. Indeed, one would have to be a madman to craft a constitution that maintained maximum liberty for the majority of men if you believed that they did not share a common value system; in this case, a decidedly Christian one.

    Imperfect the Framers were but they were not crazyor deluded. They had a pragmatic and clear sense of Man’s fallen nature and crafted a separation of powersthat used those flaws and base inclinations to guarantee liberty.

    You are anxious to win us over to the view that the Framers were deists and there is no doubt that prominent members were. However, the most outspoken deist of the day was Thomas J and he was in France. I suspect the Constitution, if written at all, would have been very different and far less stable if he had been in the US at its negotiation. It may be that the compromise that saved the convention would never have come to be if he had been present. One thing is certain though, there were far more devout Protestants at the convention that deists and the document cannot help but carry their ideas, assumptions, and prejudices forward. I note, for example, that the Constitution’s assumptions about the base nature of Man in his fallen state have a decidedly Calvinist feel.

    This is a fascinating topic and it is a testiment to the robust, durable nature of the Constitution itself that everybody sees so much of what they personally want in it without having to change a word or puncuation mark. I remain optimistic about my nation and do not share any pf the pessimism of commentors on this thread precisely because the Framers did such a fine job and, in my view, produced a document of such profound beauty and practical application that it can only be termed “inspired”.

  • G-Veg, I am not anxious to win over anyone to any views about the Framers, nor am I particularly concerned with their views on much of anything. One was Catholic, some were protestants of varying degrees of observance, some were deists. John Adams was a formal affiliate of the Unitarian Association later in life. Does not much matter. The intellectual architecture they crafted was what it was without regard to their thoughts on metaphysical questions. (Intellectual history is not something in which I have more than the laconic interest).

    It does concern me how people think about our political institutions. Most of the discourse on this topic works against any sort of clear thinking about problems in political economy. Taylor’s meandering is just another diversion. I’ve seen worse.

  • Excuse me, the institutional architecture they crafted.

    I remain optimistic about my nation and do not share any pf the pessimism of commentors on this thread precisely because the Framers did such a fine job and, in my view, produced a document of such profound beauty and practical application that it can only be termed “inspired”.

    Well, you do have a problem when people’s thinking on this topic is entirely configurative and given to genuflections such as this. You know, there are about two dozen countries in this world which have had constitutional government since the 1st World War or thereabouts interrupted only by wartime occupation. Perhaps two make use of separation of powers. Is it your point that the experience of the other 20-odd is of no account or that their constitutional law is written in ugly language?

  • Art Deco: No one meandered. How Rude. Of course, I didn’t read your subsequent post because my point was proven and backed up with facts.

    As it is, you make a statement: “The intellectual architecture they crafted was what it was without regard to their thoughts on metaphysical questions.”

    Now, this is funny, you can not substantiate this. This is totally made up. You can not answer this. It’s too bad, we find so many Catholics that want to argue.

    Insult people if you must, I have better things to do.

  • G-Veg: “There is a nexus between attractive theories and action. We saw it with the La Rouche movement and the arguments that income taxes are unconstitutional. The sovereign citizen movements and the racist movements in the inner cities and rural America are similar.”
    The word “sovereign” as in “sovereign citizen” caught my mind. There is one person not mentioned in this post and he is the sovereign person, by whom, of whom and for whom our nation was founded and for whom our founding fathers wrote our founding documents, the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution.
    A government that refuses to acknowledge the Person of God refuses to acknowledge God’s creature, the sovereign person and the personhood so endowed. It is not the people who will secede but the government that has discarded its sovereign citizens. There is also a Ninth Amendment that comes before the Tenth that tells the people that they have rights not yet enumerated.

  • Art Deco: You have been grasping at straws on the inspiration point, it was totally shot out of the water and you come up with a most ludicrous assertion yourself.

  • Bonchamps,

    I have hears the libertarians tie marijuana to alcohol for all my adult life. It is patently ridiculous.

    I am sure you don’t want to go into WWII because isolationism almost cost this country everything. As for WWI, Woodrow Wilson is not one of my favorite historical figures, but he did favor the reestablishment of the Polish nation and I thank God he did. Germany had bad apples in charge then and worse ones later. There is a book by Hew Stratchan that cited a German plot to invade the US in the first decade of the 1900s.

    Having military bases overseas is not the same as having an empire unless you are Pat Buchanan.

    Back to the original subject of secession – I do hope something comes of it. For far too long, the federal government has encroached upon people’s rights – speech codes, an overbearing EPA, Obumblercare, etc. and there are far too many people who want something for nothing. It must stop and stop it will.

  • Dear Mary De Voe, your writings on this site are refreshingly focused on the substance of our faith and I am grateful for the reminders. I do not doubt and continue to argue that Providence is necessary for prosperity. It is my firm belief that God has withdrawn Providence from the United States because of rising secularism, like a good father who leaves his son to discover the error of his ways because the boy just won’t listen.

    Keep throwing God back into our over-intellectualized conversations. It is where He ought to be.

  • Mary De Voe and G-Veg may then appreciate today’s Gospel reading from Luke 19:41-44:

    As Jesus drew near Jerusalem, he saw the city and wept over it, saying, “If this day you only knew what makes for peace– but now it is hidden from your eyes. For the days are coming upon you when your enemies will raise a palisade against you; they will encircle you and hem you in on all sides. They will smash you to the ground and your children within you, and they will not leave one stone upon another within you because you did not recognize the time of your visitation.”

  • Art Deco, I admit that I am befuddled by your earlier response.

    First, it seems strange to say that you are not trying to win others over to your way of thinking. If you are not, then what is the point of this discourse? You have much to say of great interest and write with singular clarity and skill. I should not like to think that this is merely prideful disputation. I choose to think that you are, in fact, seeking to win us over to your view and that your comment about not caring what others think relates to your later point that what was going on in the minds of the Framers is not relevant to understanding the Constitution.

    Addressing that narrow point, I do not agree. That is applying the Scalia approach to legal interpretation – an approach I favor for affirmative law analysis – to the Constitution. It doesn’t work.

    First, note that the approach you use directly conflicts with Chief Justice John Marshal’s exclusive use of the Federalist Papers to interpret the Constitution. To abandon that consistent framework for constitutional analysis at this point is to turn constitutional law on its head. I am certainly willing to consider the argument that Marshall was wrong but that is a different topic, too far afield from this discussion to be relevant.

    Suffice it to say that the Constitution does not and cannot mean only what it didat the Ratification or at any point of formal adoption of Amendments thereafter. The Constitution is thereby rendered static and not-adaptable to the changing circumstances of life. Approaching the Constitution like a piece of legislation, applying Scalia’s approach by saying, in essence, “we don’t know what was going on in the minds of the Framers or signers of the Constitution so we have to take a strict interpretation of the document at the point it became effective” leaves us in an impossible position, unable to adapt the Constitution and, so, having to accept Thos. Jefferson’s approach – constantly rewriting it.

    Thus, I conclude that what was going on in the minds of the major players of the Constitution is extremely relevant to discussion. If we want to know why there is a 10th Amendment, we have to look at the Virginia delegation, et al to see how their concerns about a strong, centralized federal government under a single man worried them. If we want to understand the Electoral College, we have to consider the concerns of Delaware, et al and their worry that large populous states would overwhelm the interests of small states.

    Carrying this thinking back to the center of our discussion, you greatly minimize the influence of faith on the Framers, Delegates, and signers of our Constitution. You seem to be saying, and I very mich want you to correct me if I misunderstand and, therefore, misstate your position, that what the men who created our government assumed about its people isn’t important. If I have it right, you couldn’t be more wrong.

    Finally, with regards to my “genuflecting” to the Constitution, you do me a great disservice, Sir. I know well to whom I owe ultimate allegiance and the only figure worthy of falling on my knees to. I am, first, a man who fears his God. After that though, I am free to adore and serve whom and what I may so long as that service does not conflict with my duties to God.

    I love my country and will serve her to my last breath. I believe that God greatly influenced her creation and that the Constitution is inspired and part of His plan. I worry that He has withdrawn His Providence becaus of our collective rejection of Him but believe that the Constitution is so well formed and wisely constructed as to weather any storm I can think of.

    I believe I have been quite clear as to where I stand. Where do you stand against her enemies, those from within or without who threaten to tear her assunder or corrupt her through her institutions?

  • Penguin’s Fan, First, Iam entirely with you with regards to encroachment on states rights. Iam more concerned with Executive encroachment on Legislative powers. We have both a profound verticle and horizontal encroachment problem. The solution for both rest in a better quality of encroachee than in controlling the encroacher if you get my drift.

    Take, for example, education. What justification exists for the federal government under our constitution to direct education? The answer is “none” which is why the states are, in effect, bribed to apply federal standards. They don’t have to. If they had any intestinal fortitude at all they would refuse the money and take care of their own people. Highway money, welfare money, medical insurance, housing grants, etc… All encroachments consented to by the states; and the remedy for all is to refuse to participate.

    The good news? The US is going bankrupt so we cant continue this profligate spending indefinately.

    On the horizontal encroachment problem, Congress is the preeminent power in out system of government and I cannot fathom why they tolerate Executive Branch encroachment. They need to stand up on their hind legs and tell the President to shove his Executive Orders, Regulations, and Operating Instructions someplace unpleasant.

    Were I in Congress, I would begin by refusing to receive the President’s budget and would schedule Department Head budget meetings directly with the Senate and the House. The message would be clear, ” you ask US for money, not him. WE authorize expenses, not him. You seek OUR authority to represent the Untied States because you have NO authority but what we extend to you.”

    It galls me to see presidential candidates saying “when I’m President I will….”

    “You will what? You have no authority to do anything but enforce the laws that Congress passes in the domestic sphere so don’t tell us what kind of energy or education or roads or benefits we will enjoy under our regime you tyrannical schmuck!”

  • G-Veg, whatever you have to say, it is not a reply to anything I have said. The political theory or religious notions of 18th century politicians do not interest me much. The only ‘view’ I am trying to promote is that it is the actual institutional architecture erected, not the antecedent professions and interests of those writing the laws, that is of interest. What does our experience tell us about how this thing works? How James Madison speculated it would work or what John Adams or Dan of St. Thomas Jennifer thought about the world in which they lived are of academic interest.

    As for Mr. Justice Scalia, I am baffled. Just how did we get on the subject of the finer points of rules of construction?

    I think we are going to learn the hard way in the coming years that the institutional set-up we have is in need of revision and repair. The trouble is, people approach this discussion with antecedent assumptions which prevent even a discussion of this. The Constitution is not Sacred Scripture. It is a law and not much more.

  • Jefferson gave his reasons for thinking that the power of repeal was not equivalent to a law of limited duration.

    “But the power of repeal is not an equivalent. It might be, indeed, if every form of government were so perfectly contrived, that the will of the majority could always be obtained, fairly and without impediment. But this is true of no form: The people cannot assemble themselves; their representation is unequal and vicious. Various checks are opposed to every legislative proposition. Factions get possession of the public councils, bribery corrupts them, personal interests lead them astray from the general interests of their constituents; and other impediments arise, so as to prove to every practical man, that a law of limited duration is much more manageable than one which needs a repeal.”

    The ideas that all political power comes from those over whom it is exercised and depends on their will; that the earth belongs to the living and not the dead and that the past may instruct and warn, but cannot guide or control; these were the common currency of the Enlightenment, both in Europe and America

  • My reply was exactly on point and I have been fairly explicit. i clearly have not communucated my point though so let me try again.

    You seek to disconnect the Constitution from its base and then analyze what was “wrong” with it from looking at the intellectual rubble left over.

    The Constitution is both a text and a framework for analysis. You MUST have both to properly analyze it. Youl cannot look only at the institutions created by the Constitution and ask “how could we frame out a better government for America” and call that an analysis of the Constitution for it is not. It is an intellectual exercise of great curiosity but it isn’t an analysis of the Constitution. Constitutional analysis begins and ends with the Constitution, not with what we might do to create abetter form of government.

    Scalia fits in nicely to the constitutional analysis discussion but I readily admit that it has no bearing on the question of what the alternatives to our for of government might look like if we were willing to abandon this Republic and institute another form of government. Again, you can’t talk about the institutions of our government in a vaccuum because unhinging them from the underlying historical analysis eliminates the concerns that those institutions address, namely preventing tyranny by the mob on the one hand and the national executive on the other.

    Finally, please do not put words in my mouth. I meant no more or less than I said and, since I haven’t called the Constitution “scripture,” I’d appreciate it if you wouldn’t pretend that I did. This is a fascinating discussion and I want to continue it but it does not help in communication if we misrepresent what one another says. Where I have done so, please setme straight. I will afford you the same courtesy.

  • Penguins Fan,

    Just saying something is ridiculous doesn’t make it so. Articulate some reasons or drop the subject. Of course the substances are not identical, but again, pot was legal for a very long time in the U.S. without the complete destruction of society resulting from it. There’s no justification for locking people up or otherwise interfering with their lives over it.

    I don’t share your assessment that “isolationism almost cost this country everything.” I don’t believe this country was ever “isolationist.” I believe “isolationist” is a cheap smear word that aggressive interventionists apply to their opponents that does not accurately describe the views of the vast majority of non-interventionists, who embrace diplomacy and trade with other nations (neither of which true isolationists would do). As for WWII, I don’t want to discuss it because it can’t be discussed rationally without all kinds of name calling and accusations. It is pointless.

    As for evidence of a German plot to invade the US, yeah… I don’t think so. Read General Smedley Butler’s “War is a Racket” if you want to know what I think about WWI.

    And I like Pat Buchanan. And Ron Paul. And Murray Rothbard. I’m Old Right, my friend.

    One of the reasons I support state’s rights over federal power is that only the federal government can launch international wars. A true federalism among the states would mean only a pact for self-defense, which is what the Constitution’s primary practical aim was at the time it was ratified. There wasn’t any anticipation of or desire for a world police force meddling in world affairs and spending billions of dollars and millions of lives deciding which tribe would temporarily possess which worthless scrap of sand and rocks ten thousand miles away.

  • The legalization of marijuana or prostitution are darned complicated issues.

    They are muddled states rights issues, muddled security issues, muddled policing issues, muddled international affairs issues… Just muddled, muddled, muddled.

    There are issues that are deal-breakers for me in terms of politics – religious liberties, abortion, the 2nd Amendment, and the redistribution of wealth come to mind – but legalization of marijuana or prostitution are not in the same league. It isn’t that I don’t care (vice should concern us all) but that the benefits of legalizing these vices as we have alcohol (I’m with Bonchamps on that one) are not clearly greater than seeming benefits of strict enforcement of the bans. Nor do I consider opposition to such legalization as a powerful reason to vote for someone.

    This is complicated stuff and, forgive me for pointing it out, I don’t think anyone has laid out the states rights argument for legalization for us. I would very much like to see a compelling argument for legalization. Perhaps Bonchamps could lay one out for us and Penguins Fan could give us an opposing view.

    Very interesting topic, that.

  • Oh yeah… With regards to isolationism, I entirely agree that it is a term too long abused to have much meaning. It is noteworthy that it makes its reappearance as a weapon by both the Left and the Right to oppose precisely the kinds of wars that their side was accused of on the previous go-around.

    I think it tragically amusing, for example, that the Left was all up in arms about the US invasion of Iraq because it was “merely” a “war for oil” – as though securing energy was not a legitimate state interest and as though there were no other legitimate reasons for the conflict. It is amusing in its hypocrisy because there isn’t a peep about Libya or our more active and clandestine involvement on the Arabian Peninsula, even those conflicts were every bit as much, if not more, “wars for oil.”

    We would all be better off if we said what we meant rather than resorting to the use of badly abused terms which, if they had meaning at one time, are so encumbered with historic misuse as to be unintelligible.

  • G-Veg

    I agree that securing energy is a legitimate state interest.

    The trouble is that such interests can so easily lead to mission creep. In the 19th century, Britain, a manufacturing country that depended on imports for half its food and on its exports to pay for it felt it necessary to have an invincible navy to protect its sea-borne commerce, “the life-blood of the nation.”

    This, in turn, required overseas bases – Gibraltar, Malta, the protectorate in Egypt and the Sudan and Aden to protect the route through the Suez Canal, the Cape of Good Hope to protect that route, bases in Canada and the West Indies &c, &c

    There is some truth in the saying that Britain acquired its empire in a fit of absence of mind.

    Is the US in the process of doing the same?

  • That’s the problem with “enlightened self interest” isn’t it; our circle of interests seems ever increasing.

    I don’t thnk though that the US is in an expansion mode. I think the recent election signals that the public has become more focused on domestic that foreign policy. Except for the general sense that China and India have stolen US jobs, I don’t think Amercans care all that much about what is happening abroad. Perhaps we reached the point you describe and didn’t notice but i tend to think in terms of ebb and flow rather than stages when it comes to US interventionism.

  • Has this comment thread set the record for the longest TAC thread that doesn’t mention Mel Gibson or Sarah Palin? (Until right now, that is)

  • I think that Sarah would be opposed to secession unless it involved a reality show. Mel would be all in favor of secession from reality.

  • G-Veg wrote, “I don’t thnk though that the US is in an expansion mode…”

    That may well be so. I was merely trying to indicate the lines along which commercial empires (think the Carthaginian or the British) do tend to expand – a net-work of scattered bases and their hinterlands, as opposed to land-based empires, like the Roman, the Russian or the Ottoman.

    As a European, I am more than happy for the US to police the world’s sea-routes, but I can well understand why the American taxpayer may think differently.

  • I am very uncomfortable with the military retraction. It seems to me that there are at least two types of projection of military power:that which is used to secure remote interests long term and that which is interventionist for perceived immediate gain. Renegotiating US and NATO exclusive access to the air bases on the Azores is of the first type and securing Iraq gains and friendships is of the second type.

    Both are, to my mind, legitimate projections of power and essential to our long-term security and the short term benefits in savings terms are dwarfed by the costs of reestablishing control once lost. I is like having the tires replaced on your car; expensive? Yes, but a whole lot less so than paying the costs associated with a significant car accident.

  • Once again, Bonchamps, you confuse having military bases overseas with having an empire. I became nauseated with Buchanan after reading some of his columns blaming Israel for the constant Middle East state of tensions. Buchanan’s rant about Poland joining NATO was another. Another one was Buchanan’s desire to come to an accomodation with Islam. After that, Buchanan became an old crank, another Washington talking head blowhard in a city with far too many Washington talking head blowhards. Buchanan, a self-proclaimed Traditionalist Catholic, must be blissfully unaware of Islam’s attacks on Christian Europe. Buchanan must know nothing about the Spanish Reconquest, Lepanto or Vienna. What a fool. Islam has changed tactics but not goals.

    Ron Paul’s domestic agenda was fine. His foreign policy ideas were nuts.

    I have no interest in the USA being the world’s policeman. Where you and I digress is that the USA does have legitimate interests in the world.

    I don’t like the UN. The US should kick them out. The US has/had no business meddling in Serbia, Libya or other places. Dubya wanted to let the Middle east sort out their own problems at the start of his first term. Bush blew off Tony Blair when Blair urged more American presence at the always failing Israeli-Palestinian peace talks. Bush wanted to have better relations with Latin America, which is usually ignored by official Washington.

    Well, President Klintoon ignored al Qaeda and the rest is history, ain’t it?

  • I thought Ron Paul (R-Jupiter) gave an excellent retirement speech. Only issue I had was it came 10 years too late.

  • P. Fan,

    To reply to your points in order:

    I never said a word about military bases. I could have mentioned them, but it is sufficient to stick to military campaigns and occupations to demonstrate the fact of American imperialism. So I don’t know where you are getting this line about military bases.

    I don’t worship Israel. I don’t care if someone assigns them their rightful share of the blame for the conflicts they are embroiled in. You can’t expect to just settle millions of people from an alien and foreign culture in the middle of a completely different part of the world and not have any conflicts. So, you can forget trying to guilt, shame and insult me into Zionism.

    I think you’re the fool if you assume Pat Buchanan doesn’t know the history of Western civilization. It’s possible for two people to know the same things and see different implications. I’m not aware of any particular argument he made for accommodating Islam. But to attribute all problems to Islam is simply ahistorical and absurd. Much of the 20th century was not marked by Islamic fundamentalism in the Middle East, and many of the conflicts we see today have their origins in disputes between secular regimes with Islam intermingled. Arafat was a secular Palestinian leader – Israel helped CREATE Hamas in order to weaken the PLO. This is a documented historical fact. Google it and you will find articles not on conspiracy websites, but the Wall Street Journal, detailing this history.

    The US, UK and Israel decided to help in various ways Islamic fundamentalists gain power, weapons, and influence in order to combat who they thought the greater threat was – the secular regimes and parties of Iraq, Syria, Libya, Egypt, the Palestinians, etc. This is the mess our governments made. This isn’t Vienna or Lepanto, these are groups that our own government continues to supply with money, arms and support to fight regimes they don’t like, i.e. Assad’s regime in Syria.

    I think YOUR foreign policy ideas are nuts. There, see? I can dismiss everything you think and believe with a silly insult too.

    I never said the US didn’t have legitimate interests. I don’t think those interests include the security of Israel, or Japan and South Korea, or Russia’s attempts to retain its sphere of influence. Israel has nukes. It’s time for Japan, with the third largest economy in the world, to get its own military. And Russia due to its history will always want, and in my opinion, deserves a sphere of influence and a buffer zone, and has no obligation to acquiesce to the rapacious demands of the West. None of this poses any threat to me and mine. But the narco-terror organizations south of the border do pose a direct threat to us all.

  • “I don’t worship Israel. I don’t care if someone assigns them their rightful share of the blame for the conflicts they are embroiled in. You can’t expect to just settle millions of people from an alien and foreign culture in the middle of a completely different part of the world and not have any conflicts. So, you can forget trying to guilt, shame and insult me into Zionism.”

    Genesis 15:18-20 – 18* On that day the LORD made a covenant with Abram, saying, “To your descendants I give this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the river Euphrates, 19 the land of the Kenites, the Kenizzites, the Kadmonites, 20 the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Rephaim, 21 the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Girgashites and the Jebusites.”

    God does not revoke His promises – ever. But I realize that most here won’t agree with this. So go blast me. But I won’t change my opinion. Nope. Not at all. That land belongs to Israel. Not the Arabs. Not the Gentiles. And that’s the way it is, because God said so. And I won’t debate it, or respond to any comments otherwise. Not worth the effort.

  • Ok Paul. Don’t respond. I’ll respond anyway for others.

    Until the wishy-washy touchy-feeliness of Vatican II, the Church held for 1900-plus years that the Church was the New Israel, and that Scripture was to be read in this light. The verdict of God upon old Israel was rendered in 70 A.D. when the Temple was destroyed.

    Please read Mt. 22:1-14. I think this explains it rather well.

  • What a great discussion. I told someone over the weekend about this post and they were horrified by the title.
    As we have meandered from that title, I will just add that once again I second Paul First Truth– of course that land belongs to them – remember the great song from the movie “Exodus” ! And as for Bon Champs point can’t it be a case of “both and” ? : )

  • “And Russia due to its history will always want, and in my opinion, deserves a sphere of influence and a buffer zone,…”
    Bonchamps, you always write interesting things. Nothing mediocre comes from your keystrokes. I alternate between thinking you’re awesome and thinking you’re crazy.
    Can you guess what I’m thinking now?
    The Poles, Finns, Ukrainians and peoples of the Baltic states might have a different idea about how much Russia deserves a buffer zone.
    And a buffer zone from what?
    Is Germany going to invade again? Is Norway?
    It’s a good thing the Russians taught those Georgians a lesson. Otherwise Mother Russia would be quaking in her boots at the thought of the Axis of Armenia and Azerbaijan goose-stepping across the Caucasus.
    In the one direction the Russians do have something to fear, they have no buffer. I am sure there are merchantilist members of the Chinese ruling party who have made a case for going after the natural resources of their northern neighbor.
    I am with Paul when it comes to the Jews (both the Primavera type and the Apostle type). Although Paul makes clear that God will not show favoritism to the Jews when it comes to our final judgement, he also makes clear that the Jews are special to Him: “first the Jew, then the Gentile”.
    Besides, if the Russians are deserving of “buffer zones” because of their history, aren’t the Jews deserving of a home-land because of theirs?

  • Besides, if the Russians are deserving of “buffer zones” because of their history, aren’t the Jews deserving of a home-land because of theirs?

    You are expecting him to be consistent. No fair.

  • Tony,

    Do you really not understand that the situation in Georgia was a battle with the United States – that the Georgian military wouldn’t so much as breathe in Russia’s direction without US approval/support? That Georgia, along with other countries/factions in the area are little more than US proxies and bases within the region? That Russia faced the wholesale looting of its natural resources and the remnants of its crumbling infrastructure during the negligent Yeltsin years? Bush Jr. and now Hillary Clinton have been carrying out a policy of encircling and politically isolating Russia. But I guess if your only source about world affairs is Fox News, you might actually think that Russia’s policies regarding her neighbors have something to do with those neighbors, as opposed to the geopolitical forces that are manipulating them for their own purposes. Broaden your scope. Russia is in the crosshairs of the West.

    As for the Jews, again, 70 A.D. Zionism has nothing to do with Catholicism. The Church never supported the project. Heck the Vatican was one of the last nations to recognize the State of Israel, and that was well after the touchy-feeliness of Vatican II. It’s sad to see that a lot of Catholics, especially American Catholics who get their news from the MSM and are hence fiercely pro-Israel, don’t understand that the Church is the New Israel, and that Zionism was the brainchild of secular and socialist Jews in the 19th century.

    “Besides, if the Russians are deserving of “buffer zones” because of their history, aren’t the Jews deserving of a home-land because of theirs?”

    Maybe, but not through the expropriation of indigenous people in a volatile region of the world. I’m sure there were some uninhabited parts of Australia that could have sufficed. Israel exists now, so I don’t expect all of these people to up and leave. But its foundation in my view was ill-considered to say the least. I would say the same, broadly, about almost all Western imperialism in the Middle East going back to the fall of the Ottoman Empire and the aftermath of WWI.

  • As for Art’s comment, I think it might be fair to expect him to know where I think he can stick it.

  • Bonchamps, you did a good job in the original post on which we are all commenting, and while Art Deco’s comment about consistency and fairness may be less than charitable, yours was even less so: “As for Art’s comment, I think it might be fair to expect him to know where I think he can stick it.”

    I don’t agree with you about Israel, but I also won’t tell you to stick it (having once been reprimanded – ok, more than once – for making an asinus maximus out of myself). You do put considerable thought into what you assert. I just think that telling Art to “stick it” detracts from your credibilty as a blog contributer here at TAC, and you do have (in my book at least) considerable credibility when it comes to history and politics (even if I don’t always agree with you).

    😉

  • What? I just meant he could stick it to the wall 😉

    I’m not looking for credibility points. I’m just keeping it real.

  • Notes from the Idiocracy:

    Surprise! The Dallas Federal Reserve Bank’s Manufacturing Business Index fell (November 6th they retired the word “unexpectedly”) to -2.8 in November 2012.

    Four more years!!!

    Note to imbecile Obama voters (again I repeat myself). That is not a good economic thingy.

  • This thread has strayed astonishingly far from the original post and is all the more interesting for it.

    The Israeli possession of the lands between the Jordan and the Sea seems to me to be grounded on the power to dispossess others. The “ancestral home” justification is weak but necessary to cloak the raw use of Western power to transfer possession from Palestinians to European and Russian Jews.

    We should be honest in this assessment though for it is the way of this fallen world: acts of brutal power, justified by spurious claims to “right.”

    There may be a people out there which did not take possession of the lands of others. Human history is dominated by that tale though and it is hypocritical to hold Jews, dispossessed of their homes in Europe and the Soviet Union from 1917 to 1944, to a different standard.

    Before we come down too harshly on the Israelis for doing to the Palestinians what the Mohammedan armies did to North Africa and the Near East, we should find a way to reconcile our own history, a history of dispossessing “indigenous” peoples – whatever that term means in a world which has seen mass and continuous migrations of humans for at least 10,000 years – in order to advantage our own, with our values and laws.

    To be perfectly clear, I don’t think moral judgments come in to play here. It is no less “right” for Israelis to take lands from the Palestinians than it was for Ferdinand to strip Islam of its Iberian possessions.

    As to where US interests lie, it is hard to imagine that they lie with Islamists, the Muslim Brotherhood, or what remains of Baathists. Really, the only option available to the US is to continue to back strong men that will favor short-term US interests more than their opponents.

    Israel is the proven powerhouse in the region and we would be fools to withdraw support from our only reliable ally to test the bizarre notion that Muslims will love us for it.

  • T-Shaw – a joke for you:

    Give a Democrat a fish and he’ll sit on your doorstep for more free stuff. Teach a Democrat to fish and he’ll want you to buy him a rod, a reel, a boat, bait, lures, and a jar of tartar sauce.

    (I wish it were my joke but I picked it up from my wife.)

  • “it is hypocritical to hold Jews, dispossessed of their homes in Europe and the Soviet Union from 1917 to 1944, to a different standard”

    I don’t, really. But I can’t think of other situations in the world today that are comparable. Even if there are, they don’t generate the sort of widespread animosity that Jewish occupation of Palestine (as it is seen) has throughout the Arab/Muslim world. The technological differences between the Palestinian Arabs and the Israelis is really not as great as the differences between Europeans and indigenous peoples around the globe either (i.e. Native Americans, Africans, aboriginals, etc.). Palestine was a province of the Ottoman Empire, which may have become a second-rate power in the last few hundred years of its existence, but was by no means “savage” in the way that indigenous tribes were. That’s another reason why I despise Pamela Geller’s subway advertisements regarding civilization v. savagery. So this is a unique situation.

    “As to where US interests lie, it is hard to imagine that they lie with Islamists, the Muslim Brotherhood, or what remains of Baathists. Really, the only option available to the US is to continue to back strong men that will favor short-term US interests more than their opponents.”

    I think our interests lie in not backing anyone, in not spending another dollar or life on any of this nonsense. This Frumite “you’re with us or against us” neoconservatism is nothing but an obscene fallacy. There’s a third option – let them deal with their own problems.

    “Israel is the proven powerhouse in the region and we would be fools to withdraw support from our only reliable ally to test the bizarre notion that Muslims will love us for it.”

    Who said they will love us? They will always regard us as infidels. Heck, they were attacking US ships not long after the country was established, which led to the Barbary Wars. The difference was that in that case, their state-sponsored pirates attacked us first, and we responded, justly, in defense of our vessels and our broader interests.

    I don’t care if they love us or hate us. But it has nothing to do with that. The reality is that we are empowering radical Islamic groups to attack regimes that pose no threat to us what soever. What in the heck is Syria’s Assad ever going to do to the United States? No one is framing it in those terms, not even the interventionists. No, supposedly we have some moral obligation to “stop dictators” from “killing their own people”, in order to further “democracy” and other such nonsense.

    Western imperialism in the region created arbitrary boundaries that led to ethnic disputes and the oppression of millions, it is directly responsible for the resurgence of Islam as a political force, which had been moribund throughout the largely secular 20th century, and its support for Israel has – as both Muslim and secular Arabs alike have repeatedly declared – made it hated. Do I think they would “love us” if we stopped supporting Israel? About as much as a Muslim can “love” infidels, which by default isn’t much – but which is markedly different than how they feel about people who they perceive to be directly hostile to their own interests. When was the last time Muslims attacked Japan? Shouldn’t they hate them for their freedom and infidelity too?

  • Bonchamps and Paul W Primavera

    As to the “Chosen People” and the “Promised Land,” I believe the traditional Catholic position was summed up by Pascal, when he wrote, “The Jewish religion is wholly divine in its authority, its duration, its perpetuity, its morality, its doctrine, and its effects.”

    On the other hand, one can distinguish between the authentic religious experience of the Jewish people and the contingent and historically conditioned imagery and metaphors, in which that authentic experience of the transcendent was necessarily expressed “The word of God in the words of men”). Pascal again, “To show that the true Jews and the true Christians have but the same religion – The religion of the Jews seemed to consist essentially in the fatherhood of Abraham, in circumcision, in sacrifices, in ceremonies, in the Ark, in the Temple, in Jerusalem, and, finally, in the law, and in the covenant with Moses. I say that it consisted in none of those things, but only in the love of God, and that God dismissed [réprouvait] all the other things.”

  • That is pretty far from the traditional Catholic position, MPS.

    Pope Eugene IV defined the Catholic position at the Council of Florence:

    “[The Church teaches that] the matter pertaining to the law of the Old Testament, of the Mosaic law, which are divided into ceremonies, sacred rites, sacrifices, and sacraments, because they were established to signify something in the future, although they were suited to the divine worship at that time, after our Lord’s coming had been signified by them, ceased, and the sacraments of the New Testament began; and that whoever, even after the passion, placed hope in these matters of the law and submitted himself to them as necessary for salvation, as if faith in Christ could not save without them, sinned mortally.”

  • The notion that “if we shun Israel, Muslems will love us” is this Administration’s idiocy. I’m sorry that I was not clear as to whom I was attacking.

    Our positions are not so far apart. I think that George Washington’s view of the matter would have been similar.

    That having been said, national interest is more of a slope than a gulf in positions, isn’t it?

    What Imean is that national interest is really just self interest on a larger scale. We hope that ournational interests, whether domestic or foreign, isn’t merely deluded meddling. We hope that we see clearly enough the ramifications of action and of inaction and choose the proper level of engagement.

    In the domestic sphere we call over-engagement “nanny-statism” and in the foreign “world policing.” To our credit, both draw their justification from a genuine concern for the welfare of others, a “I am my brother’s keeper” impulse writ large. However, good intentions easily slip into self-indulgent meddling when things go wrong and the intended benifactor resists.

    The trick, therefore, seems to me not to be engagement versus non-engagement or, as applied to this discussion, aiding or not aiding Israel. Rather, it is the type and amount of aid to a particular cause that is of issue. It is a sliding scale of intervention, not a demarcation between intervention and non-intervention.

    We may well have gotten this entirely wrong over the last sixty years. I do not doubt that the Muslim fervor for the destruction of Israeland the extermination of her people is genuine. Our being Israel’s friend is costly.

    I wonder though, if Israel were wiped from the map, if totalitarian regimes no longer had that cause to stir up in their people, would Islamists be less vocal, less dangerous, less inclined to attack and destroy the West? Forgive me if it is myopic or ignorant to say so but I tend to take the stated goal of even moderate Muslim leaders, to convert the world to Islam and establish Muslim caliphates instead of free nations, seriously.

    Our interests as a nation must be to confine Islam to the unfortunate nations where it dominates now since it is incompatible with freedom, liberty, and all notions of modernity.

    You well argue for the position that our support for Israel has had the opposite effect, that it has created the conditions for Islamist political resurgence. Perhaps. That the Muslim Brotherhood pre-dates the founding of Israel and that the original target of Salafists was the UK for its interventions in the Near East, Egypt, and Iraq suggests to me though that focusing on the claimed injury (Israel) rather than the real problem (militant Islam – a religious and philosophical movement forged in blood and lies).

    For my part, any force standing between us and Islamic domination should receive our support.

  • G-Veg: Thanks for the joke. We’ll need bright moments as the evil, hate-filled idiots wreck everything we have and hold dear.

    For those that slaver for the day the terrorists drive the Jews into the Mediteranean Sea I have two words: “Nine Eleven.”

  • The notion that “if we shun Israel, Muslems will love us” is this Administration’s idiocy. I’m sorry that I was not clear as to whom I was attacking.

    Different administrations tack one way and another with regard to Israel but (bar Eisenhower’s actions regarding the Suez Canal) are seldom antagonistic above and beyond any sort of norm for two countries. Jimmy Carter is the only American president to find Israel as a political commonwealth distasteful, and for the most part that did not find much expression in policy (and is manifestly worse now than it was when he was in office). It is not this administration’s idiocy, but the idiocy of the palaeonexus.

  • Bonchamps,

    Concerning Israel:
    You wrote: “But I can’t think of other situations in the world today that are comparable.”

    Armed bands of Zionists didn’t show up in late nineteenth century Palestine and start kicking Arabs out their homes. The Zionists immigrated, peacefully, just like many people groups are busy immigrating today. The “uninhabited” Palestine of the late 1800’s is a Zionist myth, but it’s not too far from the truth. It only took the Jews about 40 years to become the majority population in the areas that would be designated as a future “Jewish State” in the UN partition plan.

    So… you had a people group immigrate over the course of decades to a new location. They didn’t assimilate with the locals but maintained their distinctive culture. Eventually they reached majority status in certain areas and started making political demands.

    Is any of this sounding familiar? Maybe even close to home?

    Check out articles by Victor Davis Hanson. He has written much on the subject. His current one is here:

    http://www.victorhanson.com/articles/hanson112112.html

    Demographics isn’t destiny. Destiny is determined by God. But God has used demographics to shape nations to his will and plans.

    Regarding Russia:

    At the time of the USSR breakup, Russia could have gone down several paths to a free market/property rights society. It could have chosen a one-time distributism path that would have greatly improved the lot of the average Russian and been an example for other nations. In fact, that was the initial plan with citizens supposedly getting shares in formally state-owned industries.

    What they got was a Black Friday grab of Russia’s previously state-owned capital by well-connected technocrats and party members.

    What Putin did to correct this “wholesale looting” was to ensure either the state or his own cronies did the looting.

    Please see this fascinating link:

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

    Concerning Georgia and the rest of Russia’s unfortunate “buffer zone”, I believe you have the cause and effect confused.

    It’s not as if these countries were enjoying a Swiss-like independence and non-alignment when the U.S. showed up and offered them NATO membership. They, like the Russians, have a history they are mindful of.

    Small nations who have certain big nations for neighbors must tread carefully in the geopolitical landscape. They must either form alliances with a third party or cede some sovereignty to their bully neighbor. It was never right when we bullied some of our neighbors, and it’s not right when Russia does it now to theirs.

    To bring all this full circle, in reference to a really good blog post that is now lost in the mists of time and commentary, this actually is on topic to “Thinking Rationally About Secession”. In the Federalist Papers, Federalist 2 through 5 put forward the argument that one of the reasons for forming a union was to prevent a Georgia type scenario from occurring. The historic examples put forth in these particular articles by Publius (Jay, supposedly) are interesting.

    By the way, Publius ends Federalist 2 with this quote, the spirit of which I am afraid is already upon us: “… I sincerely wish that it may be as clearly foreseen by every good citizen, that whenever the dissolution of the Union arrives, America will have reason to exclaim, in the words of the poet: ‘FAREWELL! A LONG FAREWELL TO ALL MY GREATNESS.’”

  • The Israelites were the people that were chosen for Divine help and Divine ire throughout the ages after the fall of man to the point of becoming man to reiterate simple truth for both the sake of creation and more for the salvation of man. What befell the twelve tribes continues in our present day in the world, whoever they are. ( I wish I knew more about the descendants of which tribe was what people.)

    Because the people Israel were mired in a worldly relationship with doctrine, among them came a Jewish man to renew the point of religion. He had twelve Apostles to establish the renewal in a universal Church for Truth.

    ‘ As to the “Chosen People” and the “Promised Land,” I believe the traditional Catholic position was summed up by Pascal, when he wrote, “The Jewish religion is wholly divine in its authority, its duration, its perpetuity, its morality, its doctrine, and its effects.” ‘

    In Matthew 5 (the Sermon on the Mount), verse 17: “Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets. I have come not to abolish but to
    fulfill. …”

    So, as I understand it all in a general way, I worry about the statement following.
    ‘ Bonchamps says:
    Tuesday, November 27, 2012 A.D. at 4:09am
    That is pretty far from the traditional Catholic position, MPS. ‘

  • G-Veg,

    “I wonder though, if Israel were wiped from the map, if totalitarian regimes no longer had that cause to stir up in their people, would Islamists be less vocal, less dangerous, less inclined to attack and destroy the West?”

    I wouldn’t withdraw support from Israel (only) on the hunch that Muslims would love the U.S. more if we did so (there are many good reasons to do it), but I have to believe that given everything they have said for the last 70 years or so, in such an event we would not be the “Great” Satan (adversary) but merely one of many lesser Satans. I hate to use the r-word in these discussions, but this idea that North Africans, Arabs, Persians, Turks and other Islamic peoples are fundamentally irrational at their core, lunging and striking arbitrarily, as opposed to rational actors who seek to do harm to their enemies (and good by their friends, to stay Platonic about it), strikes me as, well, racist.

    Are there some lunatics who behave this way, who just hate America because the thought of women wearing pants bothers them more than it does some of my traditional Catholic friends? I guess. But would the broad popular support for war against the U.S. exist? No. They might still be Europe’s problem for a number of reasons, but the E.U. is a big boy now, a massive economy with nuclear weapons, so it isn’t our problem in the least. 99% of the jihad consists of migrating and breeding. These are peaceful activities that Christians could have been doing to maintain the balance. They chose lives of dependency and decadence instead.

    “Our interests as a nation must be to confine Islam to the unfortunate nations where it dominates now since it is incompatible with freedom, liberty, and all notions of modernity.”

    Overthrowing secular regimes hostile to Islamic fundamentalism was a perfect strategy then, wasn’t it! You see, this is why I get frustrated. People who say this also enthusiastically cheer on the ousting of secular leaders in that region of the world who have held fundamentalism and tribalism in check for decades. Everything this country has done, with Israel, in Iraq, in Libya, with Iran, in Egypt, in Syria, has had only one effect – emboldening, strengthening and legitimizing radical Islam from Morocco to Malaysia.

    It’s time to awaken to the fact that radical Islam is a tool of our own government, which willingly became a senior partner in the British Empire after WWII. The enemies of the old empire became our enemies – the secular, nationalist regimes who wanted to reneg on or refuse new oil contracts. Islamic fundamentalists were long suppressed by such regimes or at least not taken seriously. So the enemy of our enemy becomes our friend. But then he becomes the enemy when that is convenient.

    I curse the British Empire for most of this. I curse Eisenhower, who got us involved in the Middle East (if only Robert Taft had won the 1952 GOP nomination, none of this would have unfolded). We don’t belong in that part of the world as anything more than tourists.

  • Tony,

    “Armed bands of Zionists didn’t show up in late nineteenth century Palestine and start kicking Arabs out their homes.”

    True. They didn’t start doing that until 1948, after they drove the British out through a terrorist campaign (not that the limeys didn’t have it coming).

    “The Zionists immigrated, peacefully, just like many people groups are busy immigrating today.”

    Let’s not kid ourselves. No one feels obligated to behave “peacefully” when they feel they are taking land that God promised to them. The expropriation of Palestinians by Jewish settlers has been ongoing since the state was established.

    “Russia could have gone down several paths to a free market/property rights society”

    I don’t believe in tabula rasa for individuals or nations. Russia is a distinct political entity with a long history, a DNA you might say. I will admit that I am a little conflicted, in that I believe our Western conception of markets and property rights are obviously superior and can obviously be adapted by non-Westerners (just look at Hong Kong). Ultimately, however, I don’t think it is possible for people who have been accustom to doing things one way for over a thousand years to suddenly choose a new way (tsars and general secretaries shared many common traits). I think markets are making progress in Russia. But I think what we call corruption, cronyism, thuggery, etc., or what looks like it to us, is simply business as usual in Russia. The people vote for it, they support it, they like it. There’s much less of it now than there was under the communists, and it seems absurd to expect it all to disappear in a generation, even two.

    In any case, I think it is insane for this country, with its own bloody trails and skeleton crammed closets, not to mention its own corrupt leadership, to pass moral judgment on Russia. Any country with a Monroe Doctrine can’t credibly insist that Russia has no right to a secure sphere of influence.

    “It could have chosen a one-time distributism path that would have greatly improved the lot of the average Russian and been an example for other nations.”

    I don’t know what you base this counter-factual on. These things are easily said.

    “What they got was a Black Friday grab of Russia’s previously state-owned capital by well-connected technocrats and party members.”

    But much of that was in response to the Western interests that were looking to do the same. Everyone was diving for the loot. No one was sitting around expressing innocent shock.

    “What Putin did to correct this “wholesale looting” was to ensure either the state or his own cronies did the looting.”

    And in the eyes of most Russians, this is vastly preferable to these resources falling into the hands of a) communists, b) gangsters, c) Westerners. I have to say, I prefer it as well. A strong Russia brings balance to the world. Putin has objectively advanced the cause of traditional Christian morality and natural law (I don’t care what you make of his subjective profile).

    Ultimately, though, if the Russian people are ok with Putin, I’m ok with Putin. If they want to oust him, I’m ok with that too. They had a revolution once. They can do it again. It isn’t my problem. Just like Islam, as I explained to G-Veg, Russia is Europe’s big problem, not ours.

    “It’s not as if these countries were enjoying a Swiss-like independence and non-alignment when the U.S. showed up and offered them NATO membership.”

    I never said they were. It would have been worse if they were.

    “It was never right when we bullied some of our neighbors, and it’s not right when Russia does it now to theirs.”

    Ah. The old “do as I say, but not what I once did” routine. Well, I think you sincerely mean it and I don’t denigrate your motives. But from any American’s mouth to a Russian’s ears, this has the sound of a miserable joke and you can’t expect them to take it seriously.

    Personally, I think great powers are justified in maintaining a regional sphere of influence. Russia plays the game harder than Western powers do, not quite as hard as China or Japan (pre-WWII, I mean), but then, they deal with a harder sort of people than we do. So I don’t actually mind that we have a Monroe Doctrine. I just hate the stupid moral hypocrisy that this country’s establishment and media engage in.

    Finally, what Russia did to Georgia was absolutely NOT “bullying.” Georgia attacked South Ossetia with a U.S. green light. Russia responded as any rational actor would.

  • PM,

    Worry about Pope Eugene IV’s statement, which has considerably more authority than anything written by Pascal.

  • It is worth pointing out that one of the solvents of the Ottoman Empire was Arab nationalism and, to a lesser extent, Persian nationalism. Not only that, but the Arab revolt against Turkish rule was accompanied by a Turkish revolt against Arab cultural dominance.

    Many British and French diplomats believed that nationalism would break up the Ummah, in much the same way that European nationalism broke up Christendom at the time of the Reformation.

    A generation ago, the PLO was a largely secular movement, with a fair amount of Arab Christian support.

  • We should not become so arrogant in thinking that we Gentiles who are grafted into the Olive Tree cannot be cut off for our disobedience as St. Paul warns in Romans 11, and there is a lot of disobedience in the Church of Rome. Some verses of Sacred Scripture apply, regardless of which Bishop of Rome said what. We Gentilers are only grafts anmmd we would do well to remember that in all humility.
    _____

    I ask, then, has God rejected his people? By no means! I myself am an Israelite, a descendant of Abraham, a member of the tribe of Benjamin. God has not rejected his people whom he foreknew. (Romans 11:1-2a)

    …and so all Israel will be saved; as it is written, “The Deliverer will come from Zion, he will banish ungodliness from Jacob…” (Romans 11:26)

    He said, “Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel. They say, ‘Our bones are dried up and our hope is gone; we are cut off.’ Therefore prophesy and say to them: ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: O My people, I am going to open your graves and bring you up from them; I will bring you back to the land of Israel. Then you, My people, will know that I am the Lord, when I open your graves and bring you up from them. I will put My Spirit in you and you will live, and I will settle you in your own land. Then you will know that I the Lord have spoken, and I have done it,’ declares the Lord” (Eze. 37:11-14).

    “Fear not, for I am with you. I will bring your seed from the east, and gather you from the west. I will say to the north, Give up; and to the south, Keep not back; bring My sons from far, and My daughters from the ends of the earth…” (Is. 43:5-6).

    “In that day, the Lord will reach out His hand a second time to reclaim the remnant that is left of His people, who will be left, from Assyria, and from Egypt, and from Pathros, and from Cush, and from Elam, and from Shinar, and from Hamath, and from the coastlands of the sea. And He will set up an ensign for the nations, and will assemble the outcasts of Israel, and gather together the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth” (Is. 11:11-12).

    “And in that day will I make Jerusalem a burdensome stone for all people: all that burden themselves with it shall be cut in pieces, though all the people of the earth be gathered together against it” (Zech. 12:3).

  • Bonchamps

    Pope Eugenius IV condemns those who place their trust in the “ceremonies, sacred rites, sacrifices, and sacraments” of the Mosaic Law – And so does Pascal. To repeat – “The religion of the Jews seemed to consist essentially in the fatherhood of Abraham, in circumcision, in sacrifices, in ceremonies, in the Ark, in the Temple, in Jerusalem, and, finally, in the law, and in the covenant with Moses. I say that it consisted in none of those things, but only in the love of God, and that God dismissed [réprouvait] all the other things.”

  • MPS,

    I don’t really give a fig what Pascal says. I don’t know why it even matters. When he says, “I say that (Judaism) consisted of…” that’s just his opinion. In reality it did consist of all those things, which were done out of the love of God because God commanded them, and all of those things find their legitimate continuation in the Mass and the sacraments of the Church.

  • True. They didn’t start doing that until 1948, after they drove the British out through a terrorist campaign (not that the limeys didn’t have it coming).

    The British Mandate expired in 1948. Political violence was fairly generalized by the end of 1947. The ‘terrorist campaign’ to which you are referring was the demolition of a single hotel in 1946. The perpetrators were not the militia of the self-governing authority, but a minority faction.

  • Yup MPS and Pm and Pascal- I agree (for whatever that is worth!) Wholly divine etcetera etcetera. I don’t worship Israel either, but I love her like a sister…. or maybe a grandma, and I would always protect her!
    Pope Eugene did Not say he would Not protect Jewish people. He wasn’t talking about that at all. I don’t understand bringing up that statement in this context. He was talking about salvation of people who depend upon the law, fully aware of the truth of Jesus Christ and dependence on old rituals to save them…. So, I guess I missed something: What does that have to do with the political situation today? During WWII the pope protected Jews because of their basic humanity. Same goes today. If we don’t help, who will?

  • Paul,

    We gentiles are only grafts? It’s been 2000 years. We’re it. The Church is the New Israel. Many of those passages can and should be read in light of that understanding. You think you are supporting Judaism/Zionism, but really these verses pertain to the Church, not the State of Israel.

    Those who remain Jews are spiritually lost. I don’t hate them, but I’m not going to pretend otherwise. And stop twisting Paul. He was not defending people who refused to recognize Christ. That God did not reject his people is evidenced by the redeemer he sent, not his tolerance and acceptance of their rejection of that redeemer.

  • Anzlyne,

    “I don’t understand bringing up that statement in this context.”

    I was just showing them what the true traditional Catholic position is. It seems to me as if they’re arguing that the modern State of Israel is a valid political entity because God still regards practicing Jews as his chosen people – and as such we Christians (the “other” chosen people, I guess) have some obligation to come to their defense. This is false. The Jewish religion is continued and perfected in Catholicism. The Church is the New Israel. The Jews that rejected Christ and all of their successors are, like pagans and others, outside of the Church. Eugene makes that clear in the very next paragraph, in fact, of that very council.

  • Anyway, this has been a lot of fun, but I’m not replying to any more comments on this post. I have a new post up now. Let’s all talk about that.

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?