Politically Correct Eat Their Own

Tuesday, November 15, AD 2016

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Malo periculosam, libertatem quam quietam servitutem.
Thomas Jefferson in a letter to James Madison, January 30, 1787

 

This is too hilarious:

 

Several professors on Grounds collaborated to write a letter to University President Teresa Sullivan against the inclusion of a Thomas Jefferson quote in her post-election email Nov. 9.

In the email, Sullivan encouraged students to unite in the wake of contentious results, arguing that University students have the responsibility of creating the future they want for themselves.

“Thomas Jefferson wrote to a friend that University of Virginia students ‘are not of ordinary significance only: they are exactly the persons who are to succeed to the government of our country, and to rule its future enmities, its friendships and fortunes,’” Sullivan said in the email. “I encourage today’s U.Va. students to embrace that responsibility.”

Some professors from the Psychology Department — and other academic departments — did not agree with the use of this quote. Their letter to Sullivan argued that in light of Jefferson’s owning of slaves and other racist beliefs, she should refrain from quoting Jefferson in email communications.

“We would like for our administration to understand that although some members of this community may have come to this university because of Thomas Jefferson’s legacy, others of us came here in spite of it,” the letter read. “For many of us, the inclusion of Jefferson quotations in these e-mails undermines the message of unity, equality and civility that you are attempting to convey.”

The letter garnered 469 signatures — from both students and professors — before being sent out via email Nov. 11. Signees included Politics Prof. Nicholas Winter, Psychology Prof. Chad Dodson, Women, Gender and Sexuality Prof. Corinne Field, College Assistant Dean Shilpa Davé, Politics Prof. Lynn Sanders and many more. Asst. Psychology Prof. Noelle Hurd drafted the letter.

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6 Responses to Politically Correct Eat Their Own

  • You can’t know where you are going until you know where you’ve been.

  • History for these people starts at breakfast. Ignorance has a way of killing itself, but the method isn’t pleasant..

  • Well, if you acknowledge the achievements and wisdom of your ancestors, it cuts into the authority of the contemporary New Class. These people are self-aggrandizing twits and they deserve grade-grubbers who forget what they’re taught five minutes after their report card for the semester arrives in the mail. While we’re at it, how many of these people cut checks to Planned Parenthood or the har-de-har American “Civil LIberties” Union? How many are marks for the $PLC?

  • Seen elsewhere on the net: the leftist media, ACLU, PP, and PC colleges/universities are oases of totalitarianism in a vast desert of liberty.
    .
    Re: “eating” each other: How can I help?

  • I just heard the latest snowflake protest is wearing a “safety pin” to show support for the marginalized or illegal aliens or something. I think it’s perfect – what better symbol for a cry-baby! Maybe they should add a pacifier to it.

  • Thank you for your trenchant observation LQC. It is difficult to conduct let alone win an argument with those for whom history started at breakfast.

Quotes Suitable for Framing: Thomas Jefferson

Sunday, August 14, AD 2016

 

 

I feel an urgency to note what I deem an error in it, the more requiring notice as your opinion is strengthened by that of many others.  You seem in pages 84. & 148. to consider the judges as the ultimate arbiters of all constitutional questions: a very dangerous doctrine indeed and one which would place us under the despotism of an Oligarchy.  Our judges are as honest as other men, and not more so.  they have, with others, the same passions for party, for power, and the privileges of their corps. Their maxim is ‘boni judicis est ampliare jurisdictionim,’ and their power the more dangerous as they are in office for life, and not responsible, as the other functionaries are, to the elective control.  The constitution has erected no such single tribunal knowing that, to whatever hands confided, with the corruptions of time & party it’s members would become despots.  It has more wisely made all the departments co-equal and co-sovereign within themselves.  If the legislature fails to pass laws for a census, for paying the judges & other officers of government, for establishing a militia, for naturalization, as prescribed by the constitution, or if they fail to meet in Congress, the judges cannot issue their Mandamus to them.  If the President fails to supply the place of a judge, to appoint other civil or military officers, to issue requisite commissions, the judges cannot force him.  They can issue their Mandamus or distringas to no Executive or Legislative officer to enforce the fulfillment of their official duties, any more than the President or legislature may issue orders to the judges or their officers.  Betrayed by English example, & unaware, as it should seem, of the control of our constitution in this particular, they have at times overstepped their limit by undertaking to command executive officers in the discharge of their executive duties.  But the constitution, in keeping the three departments distinct & independant, restrains the authority of the judges to judiciary organs, as it does the executive & legislative, to executive and legislative organs.  The judges certainly have more frequent occasion to act on constitutional questions, because the laws of meum & teum, and of criminal action, forming the great mass of the system of law, constitute their particular department.  When the legislative or executive functionaries act unconstitutionally, they are responsible to the people in their elective capacity.  The exemption of the judges from that is quite dangerous enough. I know no safe depository of the ultimate powers of the society, but the people themselves: and if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with a wholesome discretion, the remedy is, not to take it from them, but to inform their discretion by education.  This is the true corrective of abuses of constitutional power.

Thomas Jefferson to William Charles Jarvis, September 28, 1820

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One Response to Quotes Suitable for Framing: Thomas Jefferson

  • The judiciary has become the imperial monarchy of the United States. FDR appointed notorious anti-Catholic Hugo Black, and American Catholics subsequently still voted for FDR and the Democrat Party, having had it hard wired into their DNA as a result of the Blaine Amendments of the 19th Centry, among other things.

    The courts have forced upon this representative republic the ruling that de facto segregation, segregation by choice, is unconstitutional. Therefore, large cities had to “desegregate” by mixing up black and white children in large city schools. This led to massive middle class flight from cities, draining their tax bases, leaving their schools, again, segregated by race, as the poor black students are left in the city schools, having the middle class black and white families move out to the suburbs, beyond the reach of the Supreme Court to “desegregate”. A federal judge ordered a property tax increase in the Kansas City, Missouri school district, which was beyond his power to do so.

    The courts have taken away from the people and their legislatures the power to regulate contraceptive sales, the power to ban abortion, the power to define marriage – the homosexual federal judge in California who threw out the California referendum’s results on marriage – and the power to ban sinful acts such as sodomy…..among other things.

    The courts have ruled that Social Security is not a pension system, but a tax and a welfare system, and that nobody has any rights to any benefits. This being an election season, and that I live in what was one of the most pro-union regions in America, we are bombarded with ads showing some poor old person who survives on a Social Security check, and how TERRIBLE it is that the (Republican) candidate wants to turn Social Security over to “Wall Street” when Washington has driven SSW to the point of insolvency. Should I make it to 70, my SS beenfit, should I get it, will be cut by 30%.

    Then there is the coward John Roberts, who affirmed Obumblercare.

    We don’t live in a representative republic….not while Washington has usurped power that belongs to the states and its citizens.

    Judges have ruled that term limits for Senators and Congressmen are unconsitutional (given that the Constitution is silent on both term limits and abortion, both must be rfeserved to the States, but the US Government does not roll that way)….

    It is entirely too difficult to remove judges.

    At some time in the future, I know not when, there will be some revolt against the overreach of Washington, its refusal to follow the Constitution as written, its overspending, its callous view of the rest of the nation, its refusal to enforce immigration law, and any number of other abuses. Peaceful or violent, I know not. An imperial judiciary, infested with Ivy Leaguers, a political party that is organized crime, another that on the federal level is the very definition of “quisling” and a national media that is nothing but the public relations arm of organized crime political party…and I am not optimistic about the future.

    This is a terrible shame, given that just 27 years ago, the Eastern Bloc crumbled and 25 years ago the USSR collapsed under its own weight.

July 14, 1789: First Bastille Day

Thursday, July 14, AD 2016

 

Thomas Jefferson remained enamored of the French Revolution long after most of the Founding Fathers, sickened by the atrocities of the Revolution, became critics of it.  Jefferson was the American Minister to France at the start of the Revolution, and here is his account of the storming of the Bastille:

 

 

On the 14th, they send one of their members (Monsieur de Corny, whom we knew in America) to the Hotel des Invalides to ask arms for their Garde Bourgeoise. He was followed by, or he found there, a great mob. The Governor of the Invalids came out and represented the impossibility of his delivering arms without the orders of those from whom he received them.
De Corney advised the people then to retire, retired himself, and the people took possession of the arms. It was remarkable that not only the Invalids themselves made no opposition, but that a body of 5000 foreign troops, encamped within 400 yards, never stirred.

 

 
Monsieur de Corny and five others were then sent to ask arms of Monsieur de Launai, Governor of the Bastille. They found a great collection of people already before the place, and they immediately planted a flag of truce, which was answered by a like flag hoisted on the parapet. The deputation prevailed on the people to fall back a little, advanced themselves to make their demand of the Governor, and in that instant a discharge from the Bastille killed 4. people of those nearest to the deputies. The deputies retired, the people rushed against the place, and almost in an instant were in possession of a fortification, defended by 100 men, of infinite strength, which in other times had stood several regular sieges and had never been taken. How they got in, has as yet been impossible to discover. Those, who pretend to have been of the party tell so many different stories as to destroy the credit of them all.

 

 
They took all the arms, discharged the prisoners and such of the garrison as were not killed in the first moment of fury, carried the Governor and Lieutenant governor to the Greve (the place of public execution) cut off their heads, and set them through the city in triumph to the Palais royal.

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13 Responses to July 14, 1789: First Bastille Day

  • Although the storming of the Bastille is usually taken as marking the beginning of the French Revolution, the really decisive event was the decision by the Third Estate to declare itself the National Assembly. This took place on 6 June 1789, on the proposal of the Abbé Sieyès, who declared that the other two estates, the nobles and the clergy represented only themselves and their own particular interests, whereas the Third estate represented the nation. This was followed on 20 June by the Serment du Jeu de Paume or Tennis Court Oath, when the deputies swore “not to separate, and to reassemble wherever circumstances require, until the constitution of the kingdom is established.”

    The Abbé once again intervened decisively in the history of the nation. As Lord Acton recounts, on 18 Brumaire, “Bonaparte, when threatened with outlawry, lost his head, and Sieyès quietly told him to drive out the hostile deputies. Thereupon the soldier, obeying the man of peace, drew his sword and expelled them.”

    Lord Acton’s judgment on this intriguing character is well known: “The Abbé was not a high-minded man, and he has no friends in his own country. Some dislike him because he was a priest, some because he was an unfrocked priest. He is odious to royalists as a revolutionist, and to republicans as a renegade… I should not hesitate to acknowledge him as the first political intellect of his age.”

    As for Jefferson, he shared the Jacobin faith that the earth belongs to those who are on it, not under it, that the future would be unlike the past, that it would be better, and that the experience of ages may instruct and warn, but cannot guide or control. He was, one recalls, an extravagant hater of tailzies and perpetuities.

  • Jefferson, as he continually demonstrated throughout his career, had a great faith in the people, except when the people had the temerity to disagree with him. It is a great pity that Jefferson did not expire immediately after his drafting of the Declaration of Independence.

  • Teddy Roosevelt, as I recall, said that Jefferson was a much over-rated man, and by the way, of Thomas Paine, a filthy atheist. As to the “prisoners” liberated from the Bastille, there were seven, some demented, there housed by request of family, and including the Marquis de Sade whom I understand dwelt in relative comfort, afforded fine cuisine, imbibing good wine, and with his library to keep him occupied in a pleasant manner. The storming and heroic liberation of the Bastille is an early example of left-wing spin.

  • Internet atheists are fond of quoting Jefferson’s various statements about religion, as if Jefferson was the greatest mind that ever lived. Kosciuszko urged Jefferson to give up his slaves, and left a trust of his own money to free them, but Jefferson refused. There was an order of nuns in New Orleans who feared Jefferson due to his support of the French Revolution and wrote to him asking if he supported the same thing in the US, shortly after the Louisiana Purchase.

    Napoleon was the result of the Revolution. Poles were his allies as he marched to Moscow. The Polish anthem even mentions him.

  • [13 July 1804]

    To the Soeur Therese de St. Xavier farjon Superior, and the Nuns of the order of St. Ursula at New Orleans

    I have recieved, holy sisters, the letter you have written me wherein you express anxiety for the property vested in your institution by the former governments of Louisiana. the principles of the constitution and government of the United states are a sure guarantee to you that it will be preserved to you sacred and inviolate, and that your institution will be permitted to govern itself according to it’s own voluntary rules, without interference from the civil authority. whatever diversity of shade may appear in the religious opinions of our fellow citizens, the charitable objects of your institution cannot be indifferent to any; and it’s furtherance of the wholesome purposes of society, by training up it’s younger members in the way they should go, cannot fail to ensure it the patronage of the government it is under. be assured it will meet all the protection which my office can give it.

    I salute you, holy sisters, with friendship & respect.

    Th: Jefferson

  • William P. Walsh wrote, “including the Marquis de Sade…”

    No, owing to deterioration in his mental condition, the Marquis had been transferred to the mental hospital at Charenton ten days earlier, on 4 July.
    Released in 1790, he adopted the name of Citoyen de Sade and in 1792 he was elected a deputy for the Section des Piques in Paris to the National Convention that proclaimed the Republic on 20 September (4 brumaire an 1) His speeches show him to have been a vehement and abundant orator, but not florid. His intemperate criticisms of Maximilien Robespierre, the Committee of Public Safety’s spokesman in the Assembly and, as we should say, Leader of the House, earned him the unwelcome attention of Lazare Carnot, the War Minister and, in effect, Prime Minister. Accused of “moderatism,” on 5 December 1793, he was expelled from the Assembly, thereby losing his immunity from arrest. Imprisoned for a year, he never returned to public life.

    The longest serving prisoner was Auguste Tavernier, confined in 1757 for his part in Damien’s plot to assassinate King Louis XV. Marat’s newspaper L’Ami du peuple raised a considerable public subscription for him.

  • Bastille Day is a dark day for the Catholic Church, I don’t believe any French Catholic should celebrate it all.

  • Tito Edwards wrote, “I don’t believe any French Catholic should celebrate it all.”
    I tend to agree with two Catholic writers, G K Chesterton and Belloc. Chesterton wrote “The French Revolution was attacked because it was democratic and defended because it was democratic; and Napoleon was not feared as the last of the iron despots, but as the first of the iron democrats. What France set out to prove France has proved; not that common men are all angels, or all diplomatists, or all gentlemen (for these inane aristocratic illusions were no part of the Jacobin theory), but that common men can all be citizens and can all be soldiers; that common men can fight and can rule.”
    And Hilaire Belloc said this: “The scorn which was in those days universally felt for that pride which associates itself with things not inherent to a man (notably and most absurdly with capricious differences of wealth) never ran higher; and the passionate sense of justice which springs from this profound and fundamental social dogma of equality, as it moved France during the Revolution to frenzy, so also moved it to creation. Those who ask how it was that a group of men sustaining all the weight of civil conflict within and of universal war without, yet made time enough in twenty years to frame the codes which govern modern Europe, to lay down the foundations of universal education, of a strictly impersonal scheme of administration, and even in detail to remodel the material face of society—in a word, to make modern Europe—must be content for their reply to learn that the Republican Energy had for its flame and excitant this vision: a sense almost physical of the equality of man.”

  • “and Napoleon was not feared as the last of the iron despots, but as the first of the iron democrats.”

    MPS, do you realize what an absurdity that statement is? As for Belloc, he was always crazy when it came to France, as one would expect a half Frenchman to be. As for Chesterton, the facts of history were ever putty in his hands when making a polemical point, and he used his imagined, so far from the reality as to be a mirror image, Revolutionary and Napoleonic France as a stick to belabor the shortcomings of the England of his time.

  • Donald R McClarey wrote, “the shortcomings of the England of his time.”

    No shortage of those, in Chesterton’s time, or any other. He never identified them more bitingly than when he remarked that “Our middle classes did well to adorn their parlours with the picture of the “Meeting of Wellington and Blücher.” They should have hung up a companion piece of Pilate and Herod shaking hands.”

    I have seen it myself in the bar parlours of old inns.
    http://tinyurl.com/hybdzwn

    As for Belloc, he was one of the few writers in English to do justice to Carnot, the War Minister and, effectively Prime Minister, as “the Organiser of Victory,” as Michelet calls him. Belloc is good, too, on the “Generation of Genius,” Kléber, Moreau, Reynier, Marceau, and Ney on Sambre-et-Meuse, Hoche, Desaix, and St. Cyr on the Rhine and Bonaparte and Masséna in the Apennines, in the period between the fall of the frontier fortresses and the victory of Fleurus.

  • “Our middle classes did well to adorn their parlours with the picture of the “Meeting of Wellington and Blücher.” They should have hung up a companion piece of Pilate and Herod shaking hands.”

    Which merely illustrates that in polemics Chesterton frequently took leave of his senses. The nineteenth century would witness democratization and an improvement in the standard of living in England, all done without a Terror ending in military dictatorship. Chesterton’s comparison of Napoleon to Christ is simply nuts.

    Belloc could never acknowledge that at the end of almost a quarter of century of war all France got was defeat and monarchy.

  • Donald R McClarey wrote, “The nineteenth century would witness democratization and an improvement in the standard of living in England…”
    One recalls Disraeli’s taunt to his Liberal opponents: “You proclaim ‘Peace and Plenty’ amid a starving people and a world in arms!”
    As for “democratization,” Chesterton himself pointed out, “The politicians said the working-class was now strong enough to be allowed votes. It would be truer to say it was now weak enough to be allowed votes. So in more recent times Payment of Members, which would once have been regarded (and resisted) as an inrush of popular forces, was passed quietly and without resistance, and regarded merely as an extension of parliamentary privileges. The truth is that the old parliamentary oligarchy abandoned their first line of trenches because they had by that time constructed a second line of defence. It consisted in the concentration of colossal political funds in the private and irresponsible power of the politicians, collected by the sale of peerages and more important things, and expended on the jerrymandering of the enormously expensive elections. In the presence of this inner obstacle a vote became about as valuable as a railway ticket when there is a permanent block on the line. The façade and outward form of this new secret government is the merely mechanical application of what is called the Party System. The Party System does not consist, as some suppose, of two parties, but of one. If there were two real parties, there could be no system.”

  • “One recalls Disraeli’s taunt to his Liberal opponents: “You proclaim ‘Peace and Plenty’ amid a starving people and a world in arms!””
    Dizzy was always generous with hyperbole and a miser with the truth.

    “The politicians said the working-class was now strong enough to be allowed votes. It would be truer to say it was now weak enough to be allowed votes.”

    So weak that as he wrote this the Liberal Party was about to be relegated to third party status by the Labour Party, and England was entering a period when the English economy would be held up for ransom by Unions. Chesterton once again viewed facts as infinitely malleable things as he built his alternate version of reality whenever reality stubbornly refused to conform to his beliefs.

Jefferson on the History of the American Revolution

Wednesday, February 24, AD 2016

On August 10, 1815, Thomas Jefferson set pen to paper to respond to John Adams’ letter to him of July 30, 1815.  Go here to read that letter.  Jefferson was no more optimistic than Adams that a true history of the American Revolution could be written:

On the subject of the history of the American revolution, you ask Who shall write it? who can write it? and who ever will be able to write it? nobody; except merely it’s external facts. all it’s councils, designs and discussions, having been conducted by Congress with closed doors, and no member, as far as I know, having even made notes of them. these, which are the life and soul of history must for ever be unknown. Botta, as you observe, has put his own speculations and reasonings into the mouths of persons whom he names, but who, you & I know, never made such speeches. in this he has followed the example of the antients, who made their great men deliver long speeches, all of them in the same style, and in that of the author himself. the work is nevertheless a good one, more judicious, more chaste, more classical, and more true than the party diatribe of Marshall. it’s greatest fault is in having taken too much from him. I possessed the work, and often recurred to considerable portions of it, altho’ I never read it through. but a very judicious and well informed neighbor of mine went thro’ it with great attention, and spoke very highly of it. I have said that no member of the old Congress, as far as I knew, made notes of the discussions. I did not know of the speeches you mention of Dickinson and Witherspoon. but on the questions of Independance and on the two articles of Confederation respecting taxes & voting I took minutes of the heads of the arguments. on the first I threw all into one mass, without ascribing to the speakers their respective arguments; pretty much in the manner of Hume’s summary digests of the reasonings in parliament for and against a measure. on the last I stated the heads of arguments used by each speaker. but the whole of my notes on the question of independance does not occupy more than 5. pages, such as of this letter: and on the other questions two such sheets. they have never been communicated to any one. do you know that there exists in MS. the ablest work of this kind ever yet executed, of the debates of the Constitutional convention of Philadelphia in 1788.? the whole of every thing said and done there was taken down by mr Madison, with a labor and exactness beyond comprehension. I presume that our correspondence has been observed at the post offices, and thus has attracted notice. would you believe that a printer has had the effrontery to propose to me the letting him publish it? these people think they have a right to every thing however secret or sacred.

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One Response to Jefferson on the History of the American Revolution

John Adams on the History of the American Revolution

Tuesday, February 23, AD 2016

John Adams often groused that the true history of the American Revolution would never be written.  Considering this, it is somewhat surprising that he did not undertake the task himself.  He had ample time after his Presidency, and his lively and copious correspondence indicates that age had not lessened his skill with a pen.  It is possible that he simply viewed it as an impossible task, as he indicated in a letter to Thomas Jefferson on July 30, 1815:

Dear Sir                                                                                                                                                                                  Quincy July 30th 1815

Who shall write the history of the American revolution? Who can write it? Who will ever be able to write it?

The most essential documents, the debates & deliberations in Congress from 1774 to 1783 were all in secret, and are now lost forever. Mr Dickinson printed a speech, which he said he made in Congress against the Declaration of Independence; but it appeared to me very different from that, which you, and I heard. Dr Witherspoon has published speeches which he wrote beforehand, and delivered Memoriter, as he did his Sermons. But these I believe, are the only speeches ever committed to writing. The Orators, while I was in Congress from 1774 to 1778 appeared to me very universally extemporaneous, & I have never heard of any committed to writing before or after delivery.

These questions have been suggested to me, by a Review, in the Analectic Magazine for May 1815, published in Philadelphia, page 385 of the Chevalier Botta’s “Storia della Guerra Americana.” The Reviewers inform us, that it is the best history of the revolution that ever has been written. This Italian Classick has followed the example, of the Greek and Roman Historians, by composing speeches, for his Generals and Orators. The Reviewers have translated, one of Mr R H Lee, in favour of the declaration of Independence. A splendid morcell of oratory it is; how faithful, you can judge.

I wish to know your sentiments, and opinions of this publication.  Some future Miss Porter, may hereafter, make as shining a romance, of what passed in Congress, while in Conclave, as her Scottish Chiefs.

Your friend durante Vita2

John Adams

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Jefferson on the Declaration

Monday, July 6, AD 2015

 

On May 8, 1825, near the close of his life, in a letter to Henry Lee, Thomas Jefferson discussed the Declaration of Independence:

 

Of the paper you mention, purporting to be instructions to the Virginia delegation in Congress, I have no recollection. If it were anything more than a project of some private hand, that is to say, had any such instructions been ever given by the convention, they would appear in the journals, which we possess entire. But with respect to our rights, and the acts of the British government contravening those rights, there was but one opinion on this side of the water. All American whigs thought alike on these subjects. When forced, therefore, to resort to arms for redress, an appeal to the tribunal of the world was deemed proper for our justification. This was the object of the Declaration of Independence. Not to find out new principles, or new arguments, never before thought of, not merely to say things which had never been said before; but to place before mankind the common sense of the subject, in terms so plain and firm as to command their assent, and to justify ourselves in the independent stand we are compelled to take. Neither aiming at originality of principle or sentiment, nor yet copied from any particular and previous writing, it was intended to be an expression of the American mind, and to give to that expression the proper tone and spirit called for by the occasion. All its authority rests then on the harmonizing sentiments of the day, whether expressed in conversation, in letters, printed essays, or in the elementary books of public right, as Aristotle, Cicero, Locke, Sidney, &c. The historical documents which you mention as in your possession, ought all to be found, and I am persuaded you will find, to be corroborative of the facts and principles advanced in that Declaration.

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Ursuline Nuns, Thomas Jefferson and Synchronicity

Thursday, January 9, AD 2014

Synchronicity

 

 

 

I have long been amused by how often the phenomenon of synchronicity has reared its head in my life.  Synchronicity is a coincidence of events that seem to be meaningfully related.   Jungian theory hails synchronicity as an explanatory principle on the same order as causality.  Throughout my life I have seen events arise that seem completely unrelated but suddenly a connection appears.

Yesterday I had posts fisking anti-Catholic bigot Jami Stiehm here, and a post on the Ursuline nuns and their role in the battle of New Orleans here.  Today Ed Morrissey at Hot Air supplies the connection between the two:

 

Arguing that Jefferson would cheer federal dictates on the choices of health insurance for nuns is therefore either high ignorance or deliberate obtuseness. In fact, we have a historical record for Jefferson’s thoughts on the freedom of religious expression specifically for Catholic nuns, in his own hand. Joanne McPortland reminded us of this yesterday at Patheos:

In 1804, the Ursuline Sisters, who had fled the anti-Catholicism of the French Revolution to found schools, orphanages, and hospitals in the Louisiana Territory, wrote to President Thomas Jefferson of their concerns that the United States government, now in control of New Orleans, would interfere with their freedom to operate their institutions and set their own regulations. They were aware of Jefferson’s support of the French Revolution and of his writings concerning the “wall of separation” he saw in the First Amendment’s guarantees.

Jefferson’s letter in response–often omitted from collections of his works–is respectful, clear, and reassuring. Read the text and substitute Little Sisters of the Poor for the Ursulines, and it’s immediately apparent that Stiehm is conjuring the wrong guy.

I have received, holy sisters, the letter you have written me wherein you express anxiety for the property vested in your institution by the former governments of Louisiana.

The principles of the constitution and government of the United States are a sure guarantee to you that it will be preserved to you, sacred and inviolate, and that your institution will be permitted to govern itself according to its own voluntary rules, without interference from the civil authority.

Whatever the diversity of shade may appear in the religious opinions of our fellow citizens, the charitable objects of your institution cannot be indifferent to any; and its furtherance of the wholesome purposes of society, by training up its younger members in the way they should go, cannot fail to ensure it the patronage of the government it is under.

Be assured it will meet all the protection which my office can give it.

I salute you, holy sisters, with friendship and respect.

The letter, in Jefferson’s hand, is on display in the museum of the Ursulines in New Orleans, where I’ve seen it. It is recognized, rightly, as one of the founding documents in our American understanding of freedom of religion.

It’s difficult to see how Stiehm could have possibly been more ignorant on freedom, religion, tolerance, and the law than in her self-exposure at US News.

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10 Responses to Ursuline Nuns, Thomas Jefferson and Synchronicity

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  • Stiehm is just another radical lib who twists and spins to support her party’s agenda.

    Godincidence Donald. Your a great American and in the end they will reap the what they sow. Poor fools.

  • Well, well, well. Not only does Jefferson repudiate the notion that government can or should obstruct the internal government and charitable activities of a religious entity, he at least implicitly endorses the notion that government may positively support “the wholesome purposes of society, by training up its younger members in the way they should go” — which pretty much contradicts the leftist irrationale against such things as educational vouchers that can be used for parochial and private education.

  • Not only does the current president fail to measure up to Jefferson in the religious freedom category but neither do current Ursulines to the earlier Louisiana branch. A quick check of their zip code (which encompasses in Kentucky only their convent) with voting results shows they vote overwhelmingly for Democrats!

  • ” which pretty much contradicts the leftist irrationale against such things as educational vouchers that can be used for parochial and private education.”
    Taxes belong to the taxpayer even while administered by the administration. The idea that the “government” does the good that is done is false. The people do the good and ought to be appreciated for the good that they do, and inform the Ursulines of Louisiana and Kentucky.

  • Synchronicity is fascinating. It seems like a good idea will just be in the ether sometimes. Maybe all of our angels are talking to us!
    I don’t mean stuff that comes through mass media, but just lots of people starting to think the same thing, or to be aware of some idea- and then it seems to gel in the world.

  • Anzlyne.
    “…maybe all of our angels are talking to us.”

    I wish I could prove this point to you!
    They are talking amongst themselves and us, and praying constantly that we act ponder and trust in Gods designs for us. Keeping in mind that interference is coming in as well. That conditioning of receptivity is our life’s work as we pray sacrifice partake in works of mercy…loose ourselves to the fulfillment of Gods love, and that His Love be radiated out to our neighbors.
    We are constantly getting communication from our angels.
    How well we “hear” them is altogether inconsistent.

  • LOL, how did Thomas Jefferson wind up in this or any serious Catholic forum, never mind this writer Stiehm. Jefferson wrote one famous preamble that ran counter to the way he lived his life and saw how it should be lived, a spoiled rotten, fiscally reckless, slaveocrat. Well, to be charitable to the aloof egghead of Monticello, Jefferson did con Napoleon out of a sizeable chunk of real estate. This other person, Jami Stiehm, find better reading material to relax the nerves. We have plenty of great Catholic literature, art works to browse through websites or coffee-table books, and for the political geeks like myself, nothing beats David McCullough’s treatment of Jefferson in his book John Adams (and HBO film of the same book) not to mention Chris Matthews “Tip & The Gipper: When Politics Worked.”) Lookin’ like Jami’s lost some stiehm. Okay, bad, reaaaal baaaaaad pun.

  • “Jefferson wrote one famous preamble that ran counter to the way he lived his life and saw how it should be lived, a spoiled rotten, fiscally reckless, slaveocrat.”

    My attitude towards Jefferson will always be ambivalent to say the least. However his drafting of the Declaration of Independence and, as you note, the Louisiana Purchase, were two great services to America. It is impossible to understand the country without attempting to understand Jefferson, all his flaws notwithstanding.

  • Well, he did his best in tandem to keep Hamilton, our Caribbean-born Scot Bonaparte wannabe in check. BTW, it was Jefferson who acknowledged John Adams as the “Colossus” of the proceedings in 1776, from which our Declaration of Independence arose. LOL, would I love to do some “re-arranging” of Mt.Rushmore by replacing Jefferson with John Adams, add JQA next to him, and on the far side of Lincoln next to TR, add Teddy’s cousin, FDR.

Jefferson’s Danbury Letter and the Separation of Church and State

Sunday, June 2, AD 2013

A fine video by Professor John Eastman for Praeger University demonstrating how Church State relations today in the United States bears almost no relationship to that envisioned by the Founding Fathers.  The vehicle of this misapprehension has been Thomas Jefferson’ s letter to  a congregation of Baptists in Danbury, Connecticut.  Here is the text of that letter:

To messers. Nehemiah Dodge, Ephraim Robbins,  & Stephen S. Nelson, a committee of the Danbury Baptist association  in the state of Connecticut.

Gentlemen

The affectionate sentiments of esteem and approbation which  you are so good as to express towards me, on behalf of the Danbury Baptist  association, give me the highest satisfaction. my duties dictate a faithful  and zealous pursuit of the interests of my constituents, & in proportion  as they are persuaded of my fidelity to those duties, the discharge of them  becomes more and more pleasing.

Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies  solely between Man & his God, that he owes account to none other for  his faith or his worship, that the legitimate powers of government reach  actions only, & not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence  that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature  should “make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting  the free exercise thereof,” thus building a wall of separation between  Church & State. Adhering to this expression of the supreme will of the  nation in behalf of the rights of conscience, I shall see with sincere satisfaction  the progress of those sentiments which tend to restore to man all his natural  rights, convinced he has no natural right in opposition to his social duties.

I reciprocate your kind prayers for the protection &  blessing of the common father and creator of man, and tender you for yourselves  & your religious association, assurances of my high respect & esteem.

Th Jefferson           Jan. 1. 1802.

It would have astounded Jefferson if he could have foreseen that the Supreme Court would make his letter the cornerstone of erecting a wall of separation between Church and State.  Jefferson did not intend to have the letter be a centerpiece of Constitutional theory, but rather it was a partisan attempt by his to refute Federalist arguments that he was an infidel.  In a brilliant essay, which may be read here, James Hutson, Chief of the Manuscript Division of the Library of Congress, explains the historical background of the letter:

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9 Responses to Jefferson’s Danbury Letter and the Separation of Church and State

  • In 1947, Everson v. Board of Eucation said that the government cannot aid all religion. This cannot be Justice as government does not own tax dollars. Taxes belong to the taxpayers even as administered by the administration. This means that all religions may be aided by the administration as the taxpayers have the right to religion and freedom.

  • Taxpayer money belongs to the taxpayers. The Federal Government and the Organized Crime Party don’t believe this at all.

  • Penguins Fan: The government is comprised of ordinary citizens who have no power except the power that is given to them by the people to function in their particular office. Politicians have written themselves outrageous retirement funds that insulate them from being ousted from office. Pray.

  • Judging by his letter to Madison of 6 September 1789, Jefferson appears to have believed that the endowments of the churches were at the disposal of the nation; “This principle, that the earth belongs to the living and not to the dead, is of very extensive application and consequences in every country, and most especially in France. It enters into the resolution of the questions, whether the nation may change the descent of lands holden in tail; whether they may change the appropriation of lands given anciently to the church, to hospitals, colleges, orders of chivalry, and otherwise in perpetuity; whether they may abolish the charges and privileges attached on lands, including the whole catalogue, ecclesiastical and feudal… . In all these cases, the legislature of the day could authorize such appropriations and establishments for their own time, but no longer; and the present holders, even where they or their ancestors have purchased, are in the case of bona fide purchasers of what the seller had no right to convey.”

    In other words, what one generation had granted, their successors could revoke. In fact, his viewson Church-State relations would not have been out of place at the Jacobin Club

  • With Jefferson MPS you always have to understand that the man wrote voluminously and that he frequently changed his mind on issues. His opinions in regard to France in the first years of the French Revolution tended to match those of the most extreme revolutionaries in France. The execution of the King disturbed him and he became more reserved about the Revolution although he never completely denounced it. As to Church State relations in America he favored a hands off policy in regard to the government as to the churches.

  • A rather interesting discussion going on at Almost Chosen Peope, the American history blog I run with Paul Zummo, on this post. Go to the link below to read it and to participate in it if you wish:

    http://almostchosenpeople.wordpress.com/2013/05/30/jeffersons-danbury-letter-and-the-separation-of-church-and-state/#comments

  • Why cannot I save, i.e cut’n’paste your article, without the video, and others’
    comments? I find not print button on you website. Thank you.

  • Church-state separation is an American concept, but not a Catholic one. As examples, I can cite France (before the Revolution), England (before Henry VIII), the various prince-archbishoprics in Cologne, Salzburg, et cetera, and the Papal States.

    Because of US Supreme Court decisions, prayer is now illegal in public schools. America’s teachers cannot talk to their students about the one single concept that will make their education complete – God. As a Catholic, I find this gag rule to be plain absurd.

  • “As examples, I can cite France (before the Revolution),”

    Yes, the Gallic Church that was frequently at complete odds with the Pope:

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

    Up to 1947 and the Supreme Court decision in Everson, the Federal government was benignly accomodating to religion. The Supreme Court has distorted beyond recognition what the Founding Fathers, including Jefferson, set up regarding Church-State relations: no established church, each religion granted complete freedom, and a recognition by the state of God as the basis for our unalienable rights that could not be trespassed upon by the State. It was a good system which the Catholic Church in this country flourished under, and we need to return to it.

Quotes Suitable for Framing: Thomas Jefferson And Rudyard Kipling

Wednesday, May 8, AD 2013

17 Responses to Quotes Suitable for Framing: Thomas Jefferson And Rudyard Kipling

  • I think the following is the definitive Kipling poem to describe Obama and the current political class.

    “A Servant When He Reigneth”

    Three things make earth unquiet
    And four she cannot brook
    The godly Agur counted them
    And put them in a book –
    Those Four Tremendous Curses
    With which mankind is cursed;
    But a Servant when He Reigneth
    Old Agur entered first.
    An Handmaid that is Mistress
    We need not call upon.
    A Fool when he is full of Meat
    Will fall asleep anon.
    An Odious Woman Married
    May bear a babe and mend;
    But a Servant when He Reigneth
    Is Confusion to the end.

    His feet are swift to tumult,
    His hands are slow to toil,
    His ears are deaf to reason,
    His lips are loud in broil.
    He knows no use for power
    Except to show his might.
    He gives no heed to judgment
    Unless it prove him right.

    Because he served a master
    Before his Kingship came,
    And hid in all disaster
    Behind his master’s name,
    So, when his Folly opens
    The unnecessary hells,
    A Servant when He Reigneth
    Throws the blame on some one else.

    His vows are lightly spoken,
    His faith is hard to bind,
    His trust is easy boken,
    He fears his fellow-kind.
    The nearest mob will move him
    To break the pledge he gave —
    Oh, a Servant when he Reigneth
    Is more than ever slave!

  • Thank you both, T. Shaw and Donald.
    The abuses of the office and blatant disregard to the peoples voice has done wonders for gun & ammo. sales. Go figure.

  • Politicians should remember they are playing a dangerous game. As Talleyrand reminds them, “Governing has never been anything other than postponing by a thousand subterfuges the moment when the mob will hang you from the lamp-post, and every act of government is nothing but a way of not losing control of the people.”

  • “Politicians should remember they are playing a dangerous game.”

    Politicians will only remember this is a dangerous game when the people over whom they lord their authority are armed sufficiently to remind them.

    “He said to them, ‘But now, let him who has a purse take it, and likewise a bag. And let him who has no sword sell his mantle and buy one.'” Luke 22:36

  • When Obama said “Because what they suggest is that our brave, creative, unique experiment in self-rule is just a sham with which we can’t be trusted.” I am reminded that you can never trust someone who urges you to trust them. Obama references “voices” rather than facts. This is because all he has is a “voice” and not truth. The real irony is that he says he’s engaged in an experiment in self-government. He’s not. He’s engaged in removing self-government and placing everything in the hands of a leftist authoritarian bureaucracy. This is proven by everything that Donald has listed, and then some. I would add to this the complicity of the press through hiding facts rather than reporting them. This is done so that the only “voice” most people hear is that of the administration. When only misinformation is being fed to voters, then there is no possibility for “self-government”. Gosnell, Benghazi, Obama’s birth place, and the way the Affordable Care Act was presented to the American public were all examples of the media acting as an arm of the administration in burying the facts and substituting rhetoric and lies.

  • A.S.
    “…misinformation is being fed to voters…”

    Control the media, unfortunately they will control the voters. What a battle….uphill all the way.

  • “tyranny” is beside the point, people on both sides’d agree that the government is under no obligation have to tolerate something that’s wrong, they just disagree on what’s wrong. and a lot of conservative talking heads are unwilling to substantively oppose Obama on several of the aforementioned issues cuz they don’t seriously disagree with him on the merits. The HHS mandate, for instance, you had a bunch of pundits essentially saying “well we agree the Church’s position is insane but this is overreach” vs. “birth control is a fundamental right.” one of those stakes out a stronger claim than the other

  • Rubbish JDP. The idea that the government can compel religious groups to fund contraception is the very epitome of tyranny. You miss the point completely.

  • Thomas Jefferson: “The beauty of the Second Amendment is that it will not be needed until they try to take it.”

    Variation: “The people will not understand the importance of the Second Amendment until it is too late.”

    A big problem among conservatives, that doesn’t exist among hate-filled liberals, is the propensity to scratch out each others’ eyes.

    The other night I had a beautiful dream. In the dream, I woke up and Ronald Reagan was President.

  • “The beauty of the Second Amendment is that it will not be needed until they try to take it.”

    Variation: “The people will not understand the importance of the Second Amendment until it is too late.”

    One of many fake Jefferson quotes floating around the internet T.Shaw:

    http://www.monticello.org/site/jefferson/beauty-second-amendment-quotation
    Jefferson did quote Cesare Beccaria in regard to laws restricting fire arms:

    “Laws that forbid the carrying of arms . . . disarm only those who are neither inclined nor determined to commit crimes . . . Such laws make things worse for the assaulted and better for the assailants; they serve rather to encourage than to prevent homicides, for an unarmed man may be attacked with greater confidence than an armed man.”

  • Mac,

    Thanks. I was going to put in the caveat that I saw that on facebook; but I also saw it elsewhereo.

    In any case, it fits the expanding tyranny situation.

  • Am I wrong about pundits’ refusal to engage Obama/the Democrats on the merits of these issues? The mainstream conservative position is indifferent to SSM and only objects to it procedurally, i.e. they don’t want it done through the courts. Similarly most agree with Obama that the Church’s position on BC is irrational. Once that’s conceded what’s to stop people from saying it’s something that has to be provided, religious objections or no, and lumping denial of coverage in with other practices we don’t permit period, even with a religious liberty defense.

    i’m speaking broadly about known “mainstream conservatives” but, their heart really doesn’t seem to be in these sorts of arguments, except for discussing the political angles.

  • Name the pundits you are referring to JDP. What I have found is that there has been widespread appreciation of the tyranny of the Obama administration attempting to cause groups to act against their consciences. One does not have to share the opposition of the Church to contraception to recognize that simple fact.

  • Well if any well-known conservative pundit’s argued against/expressed skepticism of BC in and of itself since this happened I’d be very surprised, I haven’t heard of it. I think Hannity some time ago told a priest he thought good Catholics could use contraception. My main point though is a sort of asymmetry in the arguments. You’re right that you don’t have to be against it to oppose the HHS mandate but when one side is asserting that the Church’s position is irrational/evil/whatever, and the other doesn’t strongly dispute this but instead appeals to religious liberty in general, they’re not addressing the left side’s premises.

  • u’re right that you don’t have to be against it to oppose the HHS mandate but when one side is asserting that the Church’s position is irrational/evil/whatever, and the other doesn’t strongly dispute this but instead appeals to religious liberty in general, they’re not addressing the left side’s premises.

    In a sense, this is completely backwards. The fact that pundits and commentators are backing the Church despite disagreeing with the teaching on contraception only strengthens the religious liberty argument. If we turn this into a simple bc good vs. bc bad debate, then we’re losing sight of the larger issue.

    As for this:

    The mainstream conservative position is indifferent to SSM and only objects to it procedurally

    Rubbish. While it’s true that many conservatives discuss the undemocratic way in which SSM is forced upon us, that is only one of a larger set of arguments employed against SSM. As one who listens to and reads a lot of conservative opinion leaders, most (Ingraham, Medved, Levin, Bennett, Prager on radio, just to name some, and scores others on blogs and opeds) make substantive arguments against same sex marriage.

    It seems you are picking nits in the methods of argument for no particular reason.

  • I am a nit-picker. I think tyranny & tolerance rhetoric is useless cuz in today’s political environment, for good or ill, people with the strongest opinions are generally willing to be pretty authoritarian so long as they think doing so’s good for society.

    “The fact that pundits and commentators are backing the Church despite disagreeing with the teaching on contraception only strengthens the religious liberty argument”

    yes and no. A general religious liberty argument seems more broadly appealing, but if people don’t engage on substance, how do they object when others start lumping it in with other religious practices we wouldn’t or don’t tolerate, or going on about how religious organizations can’t “impose” their views in matters like this? Like I mentioned, one side is staking out a stronger claim here that the religious liberty arguments don’t match, because liberals don’t believe in religious liberty for “irrational” views when they intersect with the public sphere, and this characterization isn’t meaningfully challenged.

    I spoke generally on SSM. However I get the sense that a bunch of the GOP political class/select conservative pundits are either resigned to it/supportive and just waiting for a more opportune time to say so. i realize it’s not everyone, but on the whole it seems like it’s given up.

  • Tyranny may consist of taking from you your arms, your property, your right to speak and so on but the worst tyranny is that which tries to take away your soul.

The Worst Supreme Court Selections in American History

Friday, July 6, AD 2012

Chief Justice John Roberts’ recent decision upholding the Affordable Care Act, as well as his vote to overturn much of Arizona’s illegal immigration law, has made conservatives think that yet again a Republican president was bamboozled. Personally I think it’s a bit early to completely write off the Chief Justice. For most of his tenure he’s been a fairly reliable conservative vote, and there is still much time (presumably) before he retires. Then we will be better able to assess his legacy.

It did get me thinking, though. What are the worst Supreme Court selections in history? I’m looking at this question in terms of the president doing the selecting. Someone like Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a doctrinaire liberal, wouldn’t make the cut because no doubt she has voted in much the way Bill Clinton would have wished when he picked her. Similarly, I do not include someone like John Paul Stevens. Though over time he veered much further to the left than Gerald Ford or his Attorney General , Edward Levi (who basically made the selection) could have anticipated, Stevens’ jurisprudence was not that radically removed from Ford’s own preferences. In fact, Ford wrote of Stevens:

For I am prepared to allow history’s judgment of my term in office to rest (if necessary, exclusively) on my nomination thrity years ago of Justice John Paul Stevens to the U.S. Supreme Court. I endorse his constitutional views on the secular character of the Establishment Clause and the Free Exercise Clause, on securing procedural safeguards in criminal case and on the constitution’s broad grant of regulatory authority to Congress. I include as well my special admiration for his charming wit and sense of humor; as evidence in his dissent in the 1986 commerce clause case of Maine v. Taylorand United States, involving the constitutionality of a Maine statute that broadly restricted any interstate trade of Maine’s minnows. In words perhaps somewhat less memorable then, “Shouting fire in a crowded theater,” Justice Stevens wrote, “There is something fishy about this case.”

He has served his nation well, at all times carrying out his judicial duties with dignity, intellect and without partisan political concerns. Justice Stevens has made me, and our fellow citizens, proud of my three decade old decision to appoint him to the Supreme Court. I wish him long life, good health and many more years on the bench.

Well, if Ford was willing to base his legacy on his choice of John Paul Stevens, then I’m happy to call Gerald Ford a miserable failure.

This, then, is a list of the biggest mistakes in Supreme Court selection. 

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15 Responses to The Worst Supreme Court Selections in American History

  • While I like your selections, I could also see arguments for James McReynolds and Harlan Stone. I guess in both of those cases it wasn’t that the Justices evolved but that the issues before the court that would have provoked the most conflict between them and their appointers were well after the appointments. Actually that point was after Wilson and Coolidge were both deceased.

  • Warren as Attorney General of California was a driving force behind the West Coast internment or evacuation of Japanese Americans, a move opposed at the time by J. Edgar Hoover who, no joke, received an award from the American Civil Liberties Union during the War. Warren later repented of the decision many years after the War, but his actions then clearly indicated that he would never let the Constitution stand in the path of anything that Earl Warren wanted done.

  • I would have had Blackmun number one on the list. He made the Supreme Court only because he was a childhood friend of Chief Justice Warren Burger and it was thought he would vote like Burger. A man of infinite vanity and small mind, Blackmun gets my vote for worst Supreme Court justice.

  • O’Connor voted pretty reliably conservative while Reagan was in office. Reagan was badly served by Goldwater, a closet pro-abort and open Planned Parenthood backer, in regard to that appointment.

  • Souter was completely contemptible.

    “David Souter alone was shattered. He was, fundamentally, a very different person from his colleagues. It wasn’t just that they had immediate families; their lives off the bench were entirely unlike his. They went to parties and conferences; they gave speeches; they mingled in Washington, where cynicism about everything, inluding the work of the Supreme Court, was universal. Toughened, or coarsened, by the their worldly lives, the other dissenters could shrug and move on, but Souter couldn’t. His whole life was being a judge. He came from a tradition where the independence of the judiciary was the foundation of the rule of law. And Souter believed Bush v. Gore mocked that tradition. His colleagues’ actions were so transparently, so crudely partisan that Souter though he might not be able to serve with them anymore.

    Souter seriously considered resigning. For many months, it was not at all clear whether he would remain as a justice. That the Court met in a city he loathed made the decision even harder. At the urging of a handful of close friends, he decided to stay on, but his attitude toward the Court was never the same. There were times when David Souter thought of Bush v. Gore and wept.”

    http://blogs.wsj.com/law/2007/09/06/did-bush-v-gore-make-justice-souter-weep/

    A left wing partisan and all around doofus, his opinions have to be read to be believed.
    Souter was a warning against a stealth candidate who turns out to be a stealth candidate for the other side. Warren Rudman, the political mentor for Souter, was a pro-abort RINO senator from New Hampshire and he knew precisely what the nation was getting with his protege:

    http://www.visionandvalues.org/2009/05/when-biden-and-rudman-wept/

    Souter’s view of constitutional jurisprudence given a mocking to remember:

    http://www.nationalreview.com/bench-memos/200197/david-souter-dumbs-it-down/matthew-j-franck

  • O’Connor voted pretty reliably conservative while Reagan was in office.

    I believe it was Jan Crawford’s book that detailed how O’Connor moved leftward as a result of Clarence Thomas. I’m not sure how much credence to put into that, but she certainly started her leftward drift around that time.

    As for Blackmun, I wouldn’t put him above Warren only because the latter was the Chief Justice and more instrumental in transforming the Court. Also – and this is pure conjecture – but I have a feeling that Ike regretted that pick more than Nixon regretted Blackmun.

    As for who was the worst – a slightly different topic perhaps worthy of a separate post – my vote would be Thurgood Marshall. Not only was he horrid from a constitutional standpoint, but his legal reasoning never impressed me.

  • Though wasn’t it O’Connor who said in 1983 that Roe was “on a collision course with itself” because medical advances were lowering the age of fetal viability and undermining the premise of Roe that unfettered abortion was OK through at least the 2nd trimester, if not longer, because the fetus wasn’t yet viable?

  • O’Connor was all over the map throughout her career when it came to abortion. In the AZ legislature she cast pro-choice votes, but then she signaled to President Reagan her personal opposition to abortion. I think Reagan was convinced that her personal opposition to abortion would carryover into her jurisprudence – which is the same reasoning Bush employed when he first nominated Miers. O’Connor did vote to ease some of the restrictions on abortion while on the Court, but ultimately could not vote to overturn Roe itself.

  • Arthur Goldberg, once a mouthpiece for the labor union goons. Breyer, who is mediocre, clerked for Goldberg, who went on to become UN ambassador without distinction. Although Goldberg found a “right to privacy” in Griswold v. Connecticut, he’s best remembered as a vigorous opponent of the death penalty as “cruel and unusual punishment.” Another weakhearted lib on a court dominated in recent decades by pinkos.

  • Souter is a snake, a very bad man.

    Joe Biden and Rudman jumped for joy after Souter’s Casey vote, evil indeed.

    http://www.jillstanek.com/2009/05/when-biden-wept-for-joy-his-history-with-david-souter/

  • On a somewhat smaller fiasco scale, back in the 80’s the Right To Life in our state endorced a ‘conservative Lutheran Pastor” for state assembly. We worked our tails off to get this guy elected. He did and we ended up with the most pro abortion liberal leaning representative we ever elected in this state. We had to live with that end result for many years as once he got in there we couldn’t get him out. Kind of like the SC. I guess anyone can be wolf in sheeps clothing, and the best can be snookered. Too bad millions of unborn have had to be sacrified to these bums.

  • Oh and now our very liberty. I don’t care how anyone tries to defend roberts he’s Benedict Arnold in my book.

  • Paul

    Reference Chief Justice Warren.

    I read Brown v Board of Education I.

    That is one of the worst written documents I have read (believe me I have read an awful lot of bureaucratese). Excerpt he remembered to have one imperative sentence saying Plessey was overturned one has difficulty finding meaning.

    Of course that was his first major opinion did his writing get better with time.?

    Thank you.

    Hank’s Eclectic Meanderings

  • If one looks back to an earlier period, in Jones v Opelika [319 US 584 (1942] one finds Roberts J complaining that, in some six years, the court had fourteen times reversed one or more of its earlier decisions, many of them recent. He observed that such decisions tended “to bring adjudications of this tribunal into the same class as a restricted railroad ticket, good for this day and train only. I have no assurance, in view of current decisions, that he opinion announced today may not shortly be repudiated and overruled by justices who deem they have new light on the subject.”

    As one particularly egregious example, a case, Minersville School District v Gobitis [310 US 586 (1940)] that was decided by a majority of eight to one, was overruled three years later in West Virginia School Board of Education v Barnette [319 US 624 (1943) by a majority of six to three. Of the six, three of the Justices (Black, Douglas & Murphy JJ) had changed their minds, two (Jackson & Ritledge JJ) were new appointments and one was the former lone dissident (Stone CJ, formerly Stone J)

    Whatever one thinks of the decision in question, such judicial capriciousness can only bring the law into disrepute. Surely, the highest court having once decided what the law is, it should be for the legislator to say what it ought to be.

  • I dunno.

    “The power to tax is the power to destroy.”

    The inexplicable Roberts fuster-cluck devastates the economy and personal liberty.

    It creates an omnipotent federal government. The law will make health costs skyrocket and hamstring the private sector.

    It will destroy jobs and consign millions to penury. It will debase the currency and lower all Americans’ living standards.

    And, they will blame Bush.

    FTSCOTUS

19 Responses to Jefferson’s Jesus

  • Poor Jesus. If only He had the benefit of Jefferson’s wise counsel while He dwelt among us! Or perhaps Jefferson could have benefited in having CS Lewis to give him counsel:

    (In the first place they all tend to direct men’s devotion to something which does not exist, for each “historical Jesus” is unhistorical. The documents say what they say and cannot be added to; each new “historical Jesus” therefore has to be got out of them by suppression at one point and exaggeration at another, and by that sort of guessing (brilliant is the adjective we teach humans to apply to it) on which no one would risk ten shillings in ordinary life, but which is enough to produce a crop of new Napoleons, new Shakespeares, and new Swifts, in every publisher’s autumn list. In the second place, all such constructions place the importance of their Historical Jesus in some peculiar theory He is supposed to have promulgated. He has to be a “great man” in the modern sense of the word – one standing at the terminus of some centrifugal and unbalanced line of thought – a crank vending a panacea. We thus distract men’s minds from Who He is, and what He did. We first make Him solely a teacher, and then conceal the very substantial agreement between His teachings and those of all other great moral teachers. For humans must not be allowed to notice that all great moralists are sent by the Enemy not to inform men but to remind them, to restate the primeval moral platitudes against our continual concealment of them. We make the Sophists: He raises up a Socrates to answer them. Our third aim is, by these constructions, to destroy the devotional life. For the real presence of the Enemy, otherwise experienced by men in prayer and sacrament, we substitute a merely probable, remote, shadowy, and uncouth figure, one who spoke a strange language and died a long time ago. Such an object cannot in fact be worshipped. Instead of the Creator adored by its creature, you soon have merely a leader acclaimed by a partisan, and finally a distinguished character approved by a judicious historian. And fourthly, besides being unhistorical in the Jesus it depicts, religion of this kind is false to history in another sense.

    No nation, and few individuals, are really brought into the Enemy’s camp by the historical study of the biography of Jesus, simply as biography. Indeed materials for a full biography have been withheld from men. The earliest converts were converted by a single historical fact (the Resurrection) and a single theological doctrine (the Redemption) operating on a sense of sin which they already had – and sin, not against some new fancy-dress law produced as a novelty by a “great man”, but against the old, platitudinous, universal moral law which they had been taught by their nurses and mothers. The “Gospels” come later and were written not to make Christians but to edify Christians already made.)

  • What is this? Bash Jefferson Week

  • A week from now, everyone will be celebrating the Declaration of Independence, written by Jefferson, amid whoops and hollers. Ol’ Tom was hardly the only deist among the Founders; in fact, most were Deists and not Christians.

  • Wrong Joe. The vast majority of the Founding Fathers were perfectly conventional Christians.

  • I don’t mean to belabor the point. I just reemphasize that it is essential that we understand our historical figures for who they really are, and not for who we want to pretend they were.

    Let us hope the same applies to Lincoln and Hamilton : )

    BTW, Don, I accept your wager. As I look at a five-dollar bill, I already am having positive thoughts about ol’ Abe.

  • Correct, Don. Not all of the Founders were conventional Christians, but Jefferson stands apart for his heterodoxy.

  • Don, what’s a “perfectly conventional Christian”?

  • Let us hope the same applies to Lincoln and Hamilton : )

    Of course! I’m for disseminating all the facts, just not caricatures based on cherrypicked evidence.

  • Paul, in a wider context, Jefferson, along with Madison, co-authoried the Virginia Statute on Religious Freedom. Without it America would have gone on as it was — with Jews banned from holding office in some states, Catholics in others, and Protestants in Maryland. So while Jefferson had doubts about the divinity of Jesus, he nonetheless embraced Intelligent Design. By the way, if one studies Mother Teresa’s life, she had many doubts, too.

  • Researching, I came across this list. I cannot affirm its accuracy but if it is then I suppose most were “Christian,” although not quite conventional:

    Here is a list of our Founding Fathers religion.
    Signers Name

    Religious Affiliation
    Connecticut
    Adams, John Congregationalist/ Unitarian
    Adams, Samuel Congregationalist
    Bartlett, Josiah Congregationalist
    Braxton, Carter Episcopal

    Delaware
    Clark, Abraham Presbyterian
    Chase, Samuel Episcopal
    Carroll of Carrollton, Charles Roman Catholic

    Georgia
    Clymer, George Quaker/ Episcopal
    Ellery, William Congregationalist
    Floyd, William Presbyterian

    Maryland
    Hall, Lyman Congregationalist
    Gwinnett, Button Episcopal/ Congregationalist
    Gerry, Elbridge Episcopal
    Franklin, Benjamin Episcopal/ Deist

    Massachusetts
    Hancock, John Congregationalist
    Harrisson, Benjamin Episcopal
    Hart, John Presbyterian
    Hewes, Joseph Quaker/ Episcopal
    Heyward Jr., Thomas Episcopal

    New Hampshire
    Hopkinson, Francis Episcopal
    Hopkins, Stephen Episcopal
    Hooper, William Episcopal

    New Jersey
    Huntington, Samuel Congregationalist
    Jefferson, Thomas Episcopal/ Deist
    Lee, Francis Lightfoot Episcopal
    Lee, Richard Henry Episcopal
    Lewis, Francis Episcopal

    New York
    Middleton, Arthur Episcopal
    McKean, Thomas Presbyterian
    Lynch Jr., Thomas Episcopal
    Livingston, Philip Presbyterian

    North Carolina
    Morris, Lewis Episcopal
    Morris, Robert Episcopal
    Morton, John Episcopal

    Pennsylvania
    Rutledge, Edward Episcopal
    Rush, Benjamin Presbyterian
    Ross, George Episcopal
    Rodney, Caesar Episcopal
    Read, George Episcopal
    Penn, John Episcopal
    Paine, Robert Treat Congregationalist/ Unitarian
    Paca, William Episcopal
    Nelson Jr., Thomas Episcopal

    Rhode Island
    Sherman, Roger Congregationalist
    Smith, James Presbyterian

    South Carolina
    Thornton, Matthew Presbyterian
    Taylor, George Presbyterian
    Stone, Thomas Episcopal
    Stockton, Richard Presbyterian

    Virginia
    Walton, George Episcopal
    Whipple, William Congregationalist
    Williams, William Congregationalist
    Wilson, James Episcopal/ Presbyterian
    Witherspoon, John Presbyterian
    Wolcott, Oliver Congregationalist
    Wythe, George Episcopal

  • Franklin, listed as “episcopal/deist,” was more the latter and may have, like some of the others, filled in the religion box for the sake of political correctness. He famously speaks for himself here:

    “God governs in the affairs of man. And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without his notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without His aid? We have been assured in the Sacred Writings that except the Lord build the house, they labor in vain that build it. I firmly believe this. I also believe that, without His concurring aid, we shall succeed in this political building no better than the builders of Babel” -Ben Franklin–(Constitutional Convention of 1787)

  • Without it America would have gone on as it was — with Jews banned from holding office in some states, Catholics in others, and Protestants in Maryland.

    I’m not trying to pile on, but in a bitter irony, *Catholics* had been disenfranchised in Maryland by the Revolution. They were only 8 percent of the population of that colony at that point, and the Protestants were determined to keep them chained. The example of Charles Carroll (of Carrollton) radically changed the views of the Protestant majority, and this injustice was remedied.

    I strongly recommend Bradley Birzer’s biography of Carroll, “American Cicero.” It gives a nice background on the status of Catholics in the colony.

    Birzer also advances the argument that the Quebec Act was the real final straw for a lot of the American colonists.

  • Your list is wrong about Carroll’s colony–Carroll was a native of Maryland, and arguably the richest man in America by the time of the Revolution.

  • There’s something wrong with that list. The names of the signers are in roughly alphabetical order. I’d guess that there was an embedded column in the cut-and-paste that distorted it.

  • It’s also worth noting that the founders were representitives of colonies, each made up of a large number of denominational emcampments. They weren’t looking to encode their own beliefs into the founding documents; they were trying to protect their populations. So this wasn’t a Deist document, or a Presbyterian/Episcopalean document. It was intended to protect the rights of every goofy New England utopian town of 200 souls, and everyone else. That’s the danger of emphasizing the founders’ individual beliefs over those beliefs that they wanted to prevent government from restricting.

  • There were witnesses to the “historical Jesus”, Mathew, Mark, Luke and John.

  • Pinky: That is good reasoning.

  • When Jefferson was in charge of the University of Virginia, he actively urged all the local religious groups to use the university buildings and grounds for events. Which was shrewd for gaining community support and goodwill, but also showed that his instinct was to be generous and impartial. It’s the American way to share.

    No, Jefferson’s beliefs were weirder than a barrel of komodo dragons, but that didn’t mean he didn’t believe in other people following their own religions.

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Rewriting Jefferson

Monday, June 25, AD 2012

A couple of weeks ago a friend of mine sent me a link to David Barton’s book, The Jefferson Lies: Exposing the Myths You’ve Always Believed About Thomas Jefferson. It’s almost like my friend, knowing my academic interest in Thomas Jefferson, cast some bait in my direction. And two months later, I took it.

I can honestly say that I went into it with an open mind. Even if Barton misinterpreted Jefferson, maybe he would do so in at least a semi-convincing way. After all, it’s possible for individuals to have high opinions of Thomas Jefferson without being historical hacks. I have tremendous respect for David Mayer, for example, and his opinion of Jefferson is completely different than mine.

Sadly, my low expectations were met. To be sure, Barton does offer enough arguments to rebut the most absurd and historically inaccurate claims about Jefferson. For example, Barton correctly points out the fallacy of the claim that it has been definitively proven that Thomas Jefferson fathered children by the slave Sally Hemings. I also believe that Barton’s insinuations about the partisan motivations behind the claims have some merit. But this chapter exemplifies so much of what is wrong with Barton’s methodology. While there can be no conclusive argument made that Jefferson fathered children by Hemings, it is also impossible to assert with any certainty that he did not. But Barton cannot leave well enough, and Barton distorts the findings of the commission tasked with determining the paternity of Hemings’ children to make it appear that Jefferson almost certainly could not be the father. While it’s certainly true that genetic testing at this stage of history cannot offer conclusive proof one way or the other, the idea that the father of Hemings’ children can be any one of  a dozen men or so is also not really credible. Personally I am rather agnostic on the question, and don’t think it is of huge historic import, but Barton stretches the truth almost as badly as those who adamantly insist that Jefferson was the father.

The real meat of the book focuses on the topic of religion. Again, Barton is incredibly frustrating to read. He asserts towards the beginning of the book that it is important to read primary sources, and to truly understand the historical context when judging historical figures. He is correct on both counts. He then incredibly proceeds to selectively cite dubious secondary sources in order to prove his assertions, and then ignores broader context when cherrypicking quotes from Jefferson.

A prime example of Barton cherrypicking Jefferson occurs in a chapter in which Barton tries to prove that Jefferson was no fan of the secular French Enlightenment. Barton offers as proof of this assertion a critical passage in one of Jefferson’s letters regarding the French philosopher Guillame Raynal. Evidently one critical passage about one obscure thinker is all the evidence we need that Jefferson was at odds with French Enlightenment philosophy. Well then.

Barton’s reliance on dubious sources bites him when discussing the supposed Jefferson Bible. Again, Barton is correct in the narrowest sense when he notes that Jefferson did not attempt to create a bible. Rather, two separate works by Jefferson – The Philosophy of Jesus and The Life and Morals of Jesus of Nazareth – were compilations of Gospel accounts of the life of Jesus. It wasn’t a “bible,” and Jefferson never attempted to pass these compilations off as such. But then Barton claims that neither work was as unorthodox as historians have claimed them to be. Jefferson did not cut out the supernatural elements from the Gospel, and indeed included some stories that referenced miracles and the afterlife. But as Warren Throckmorton and Michael Coulter demonstrate in Getting Jefferson Right, Barton’s source declaring that Jefferson included the miracle stories in his compilations is just plain  wrong. As for the other examples of Jefferson including references to the supernatural, these were mainly concerned with the afterlife. Throckmorton and Coulter concede that Jefferson did believe in the afterlife, thus it isn’t all that surprising that Jefferson would include these references. After all, Jefferson was not an atheist. He certainly believed in God, though he did not believe that Jesus Himself was a member of the Godhead.

And that is really the fundamental problem with Barton’s work. Barton tries mightily to paint Jefferson as some kind of conventional Christian, suggesting that his heterodoxy developed late in life as he fell under the Unitarian influence. Barton has to ignore almost an entire lifetime of Jefferson’s work in order to reach this conclusion. Here is how Jefferson expressed his views on Jesus:

The question of his being a member of the Godhead, or in direct communication with it, claimed for him by some of his followers, and denied by others, is foreign to the present view, which is merely an estimate of the intrinsic merits of his doctrines.

1.He corrected the Deism of the Jews, confirming them in their belief of one only God, and giving them juster notions of his attributes and government.

2.His moral doctrines, relating to kindred & friends, were more pure & perfect than those of the most correct of the philosophers, and greatly more so than those of the Jews; and they went far beyond both in inculcating universal philanthropy, not only to kindred and friends, to neighbors and countrymen, but to all mankind, gathering all into one family, under the bonds of love, charity, peace, common wants and common aids.  A development of this head will evince the peculiar superiority of the system of Jesus over all others.

3.The precepts of philosophy, & of the Hebrew code, laid hold of actions only.  He pushed his scrutinies into the heart of man; erected his tribunal in the region of his thoughts, and purified the waters at the fountain head.

That’s pretty clearly not orthodox Christianity to me.

Jefferson would even call Jesus’s teachings defective, though he praised Jesus as an ethicist. His compilations from the Gospels were meant to restore Christ’s teachings to their original intent, as it were. Jefferson believed that Paul and the other Apostles had distorted Christ’s work, so that is why he took out all accounts of miracles and references to Jesus being in any way part of the Godhead. Most importantly, his compilation ends at the death of Christ on the cross and his placement in the tomb. Jefferson rejected the resurrection.

Jefferson repeatedly excoriated Paul as one of the principle impostors who distorted Christ’s teachings.

Of this band of dupes and imposters, Paul was the great Coryphaeus, and firm corrupter of the doctrines of Jesus.

Jefferson added that Paul was a “Platonist who had brought beclouding mysticism to Jesus’ clear moral teachings.”

Barton also glosses over Jefferson’s disdain of the clergy. He cites some examples of Jefferson praising men of the cloth, but in almost every example Jefferson was praising a fellow heterodox Christian. It would be like trying to prove that someone is a faithful Catholic by highlighting their words of praise for Voice of the Faithful or Catholics for a Free Choice.

In several of his letters, Jefferson overtly criticized organized religion. “My opinion is that there never would have been an infidel, if there had never been a priest,” he wrote to Samuel Smith, meaning that religion creates artificial guidelines which restrict freedom of thought. He added that clergy only lay down these rules in order to augment their own power. “The artificial structures they have built on the purest of all moral systems, for the purpose of deriving from it pence and power, revolts those who think for themselves, and who read in that system only what is really there.”

Barton is correct to temper some of the more extreme claims about Jefferson and religion. Jefferson was no atheist, and it would not entirely be correct to say that he disdained Christianity as such. On the other hand, Barton glosses over much of Jefferson’s more negative assessments of Christianity. Most importantly, his attempt to portray Jefferson’s heterodox views as a late-life aberration is simply laughable.

Barton and those that follow him do neither conservatism nor Christianity any favors by distorting the historical record. Barton seems to be under the impression that each of the Founding Fathers must be protected from the slings and arrows of Progressive historians who would tear down these great men. I share Barton’s distrust and even contempt for most contemporary historians. But Barton’s pseudo-history is no way to counter this trend, and only provides ammunition to those who would mock conservative Christians. The progressive reading of Jefferson happens to be the correct one. Well, you know what they say about stopped clocks.

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14 Responses to Rewriting Jefferson

  • “then ignores broader context when cherrypicking quotes from Jefferson.”

    The ignorance of some people who write books on subjects is vast. The cherrypicking quotes phenomenon is picking up steam the past few years on historical themes, where polemic and assertions based on a very superficial knowledge of a period and the individuals involved appear to be the order of the day. I see this all the time in books about Lincoln.

  • I was delighted to see this review and correction. I concur with Mr. McClarey that cherrypicking historic narratives is totoally destructive of decent scholarship. As Christians the refromers did it to the Bible and gave us heresies and schisms that abound to this day.

  • I read and at times skimmed Barton’s book and found it weak in portraying the true Jefferson. As one who esteems Jefferson, who crafted one of the greatest documents in history — The Declaration of Independent — and who espoused limited government, states’ rights and individual liberty, I lament that we live in Hamilton’s America characterized by big central government with “implied” constitutional powers beyond those originally intended. Indeed, Jefferson had his warts, as we all do, but in the main our third President was a great man whose ideas and ideals helped form a great nation.

    As much better description of Jefferson the man and his political philosophy can be found in Marco Bassani’s book, “Liberty, State & Union: The Political Theory of Thomas Jefferson.” Bassani writes that in Jefferson’s view the three greatest men that civilization had produced were John Locke, Francis Bacon, and Isaac Newton. In contrast, Hamilton said the “greatest human: was Julius Caesar.

    Don and others are right in noting that “cherrypicking” of quotes is a common practice used to support an author’s sometimes skewed or mistaken point of view. Mencken, Hitchens, Dawkins and other atheists frequently quoted from Scripture and other sacred writings to argue their cases, as do countless others. As has been said, “The Bible is an old fiddle on which you can play any tune.”

  • I lament that we live in Hamilton’s America characterized by big central government with “implied” constitutional powers beyond those originally intended.

    Wrong. In fact, we are very much living in Jefferson’s America, but it’s the anti-tradition, utopian Progressive Thomas Jefferson. Hamilton was not the proponent of a leviathan state that his critics (and, I guess, some supporters) have made him out to be.

  • Jefferson is easier to cherrypick than other figures since he had a vast correspondence throughout his life and he wasn’t the most consistent thinker to begin with.

  • Paul, I respectfully disagree. States’ rights, a linchpin of Jeffersonian democracy, have all but vanished. Once considered sovereign, the states, which are supposed to have all rights not reserved to the federal government, are subordinate to the federal government. This was the core of Hamilton’s national view.

  • Joe, you have to separate the surface-level stuff from the deeper philosophy. Yes, Jefferson was an ardent states’ righter – in fact, his views on states rights can be considered extreme. But when you dig deep into Jefferson’s worldview, you have actually have the elements that lead to the creation of the leviathan state. Jefferson would have abhorred what has happened to state sovereignty, but in a greater sense its his very own philosophy that helped lead to this moment. And isn’t that the fundamental problem with the Progressive philosophy, namely, unintended consequences?

  • Jefferson is easier to cherrypick than other figures since he had a vast correspondence throughout his life and he wasn’t the most consistent thinker to begin with.

    Very true. Thomas Jefferson left behind an enormous amount of correspondence, and over his life you can probably find him taking both sides of almost any issue. But I do think that it’s possible to sift through the totality of his writing and come to very firm conclusions as to where he generally stood.

  • Paul, when you refer to a leviathan state I automatically think of Hobbes whose thesis was that government rested on a social contract, an idea that Locke among others embraced. It is know that Jefferson was influenced by Locke and perhaps a step removed by Hobbes. No doubt Jefferson would have “abhorred” the loss of states’ rights but I imagine, too, that even Hamilton, Madison and the other Framers would not have recognized the modern United States of America.

  • Not that it is terribly important, but I remember reading somewhere that the descendants of Sally Hemings’ oldest child had French markers so he could not be Jefferson’s son. The descendants of her other children did not have those same markers, but had markers found in the Jefferson family. I remember that his nephew was strongly suspected as the father, but Jefferson himself could not be ruled out. Now someone tell me if I am remembering correctly.

  • Jenny,

    I believe that it is true. Hemings’ oldest son, Thomas, has been ruled out as being Jefferson’s son.

  • Nearly OT, but worth sharing: there’s an interesting theory that Jefferson may have been inspired by St. Robert Bellarmine’s writings (as filtered through an absolutist Anglican critic) in drafting part of the Virginia Declaration of Rights.

    http://www.amazon.com/Virginia-declaration-rights-Cardinal-Bellarmine/dp/B003TU1ULG/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1340736492&sr=8-1&keywords=virginia+declaration+of+rights+bellarmine

    More expansive (and unsupportable) claims have been made regarding Bellarmine’s influence, but Hunt’s thesis makes modest and more supportable claims.

  • I have read that Charles Carrol, influenced by Bellarmine, also influenced Jefferson

  • Man, as a sovereign person, constitutes the government, gives government its sovereignty. When government stops respecting and appreciating the sovereignty imbued to it by the sovereignty of the human being, it ceases to be government and is hell.

Fr. Barron Eviscerates Dandy Andy

Wednesday, April 11, AD 2012

It’s Easter, so naturally it’s time for idiocy like Newsweek’s cover story written by Andrew Sullivan.  It looks like Sullivan has added theologian to his list of other professions, which include pundit and gynecologist.  It’s about what you’d expect from the combination of Newsweek and Sullivan.  Christianity is dying and it’s because of all those stuffed-shirts who have distorted Jesus’s message.

Fr. Barron is on the case, and he completely dismantles Sullivan.  A few highlights:

The solution Sullivan proposes is a repristinizing of Christianity, a return to its roots and essential teachings. And here he invokes, as a sort of patron saint, Thomas Jefferson, who as a young man literally took a straight razor to the pages of the New Testament and cut out any passages dealing with the miraculous, the supernatural, or the resurrection and divinity of Jesus.

The result of this Jeffersonian surgery is Jesus the enlightened sage, the teacher of timeless moral truths concerning love, forgiveness and non-violence. Both Jefferson and Sullivan urge that this Christ, freed from churchly distortions, can still speak in a liberating way to an intelligent and non-superstitious audience.

As the reference to Jefferson should make clear, there is nothing particularly new in Sullivan’s proposal. The liberation of Jesus the wisdom figure from the shackles of supernatural doctrine has been a preoccupation of much of the liberal theology of the last 200 years.

The Jefferson “Bible” is, if nothing else, an impressive work of art.  Jefferson took passages from Scripture written in English, Latin, Greek, and French.  He carefully pasted the passages side-by-side.  It’s an awesome display of craftsmanship.  Of course it completely distorts the life and mission of Christ and turns our Lord and Saviour into nothing more than a wise philosopher.  It’s a good representation of Jefferson’s uber-rationalistic mindset, and part of an extended effort to de-fang the real Christ.

Fr. Barron has more.

The first problem with this type of theorizing is that it has little to do with the New Testament. As Jefferson’s Bible makes clear, the excision of references to the miraculous, to the resurrection, and to the divinity of Jesus delivers to us mere fragments of the Gospels.

Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John were massively interested in the miracles and exorcisms of Jesus and they were positively obsessed with his dying and rising. The Gospels have been accurately characterized as “passion narratives with long introductions.”

Further, the earliest Christian texts that we have are the epistles of St. Paul, and in those letters that St. Paul wrote to the communities he founded, there are but a tiny handful of references to the teaching of Jesus. What clearly preoccupied Paul was not the moral doctrine of Jesus, but the resurrection of Jesus from the dead.

Indeed, by removing the miracles and resurrection from the account of Jesus’s life you’ve almost completely stripped his mission of any meaning.

And this leads to the second major problem with a proposal like Sullivan’s. It offers absolutely no challenge to the powers that be. It is precisely the bland and harmless version of Christianity with which the regnant culture is comfortable.

Go back to Peter’s sermon for a moment. “You killed him,” said the chief of Jesus’s disciples. The “you” here includes the power structures of the time, both Jewish and Roman, which depended for their endurance in power on their ability to frighten their subjects through threats of lethal punishment.

“But God raised him.” The resurrection of Jesus from the dead is the clearest affirmation possible that God is more powerful than the corrupt and violent authorities that govern the world — which is precisely why the tyrants have always been terrified of it. When the first Christians held up the cross, the greatest expression of state-sponsored terrorism, they were purposely taunting the leaders of their time: “You think that frightens us?”

The opening line of the Gospel of Mark is a direct challenge to Rome: “beginning of the good news about Jesus Christ, the Son of God” (Mk 1:1). “Good news” (euangelion in Mark’s Greek) was a term used to describe an imperial victory. The first Christian evangelist is saying, not so subtly, that the real good news hasn’t a thing to do with Caesar.

Rather, it has to do with someone whom Caesar killed and whom God raised from the dead. And just to rub it in, he refers to this resurrected Lord as the “Son of God.” Ever since the time of Augustus, “Son of God” was a title claimed by the Roman emperor. Not so, says Mark. The authentic Son of God is the one who is more powerful than Caesar.

Again and again, Sullivan says that he wants a Jesus who is “apolitical.” Quite right — and that’s just why the cultural and political leaders of the contemporary West will be perfectly at home with his proposal. A defanged, privatized, spiritual teacher poses little threat to the status quo.

This is a great passage, and one of the reasons that Fr. Barron is truly a treasure.  I love how he completely turns around Sullivan’s argument and makes him the champion of the status quo.  It’s a really great insight, and one that completely sticks it to Dr. Sullivan.  Well played.

(Thanks RL for the tip.)

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25 Responses to Fr. Barron Eviscerates Dandy Andy

  • Sullivan should stick to subjects where he’s less likely to embarrass himself.

    Such as gynecology.

  • CS Lewis put paid to the notion of Jesus as only a great sage for any one who is intellectually honest:

    “Then comes the real shock. Among these Jews there suddenly turns up a man who goes about talking as if He was God. He claims to forgive sins. He says He has always existed. He says He is coming to judge the world at the end of time. Now let us get this clear. Among Pantheists, like the Indians, anyone might say that he was a part of God, or one with God: there would be nothing very odd about it. But this man, since He was a Jew, could not mean that kind of God. God, in their language, meant the Being outside the world Who had made it and was infinitely different from anything else. And when you have grasped that, you will see that what this man said was, quite simply, the most shocking thing that has ever been uttered by human lips.

    One part of the claim tends to slip past us unnoticed because we have heard it so often that we no longer see what it amounts to. I mean the claim to forgive sins: any sins. Now unless the speaker is God, this is really so preposterous as to be comic. We can all understand how a man forgives offences against himself. You tread on my toe and I forgive you, you steal my money and I forgive you. But what should we make of a man, himself unrobbed and untrodden on, who announced that he forgave you for treading on other men’s toes and stealing other men’s money? Asinine fatuity is the kindest description we should give of his conduct. Yet this is what Jesus did. He told people that their sins were forgiven, and never waited to consult all the other people whom their sins had undoubtedly injured. He unhesitatingly behaved as if He was the party chiefly concerned; the person chiefly offended in all offences. This makes sense only if He really was the God whose laws are broken and whose love is wounded in every sin. In the mouth of any speaker who is not God, these words would imply what I can only regard as a silliness and conceit unrivalled by any other character in history.

    Yet (and this is the strange, significant thing) even His enemies, when they read the Gospels, do not usually get the impression of silliness and conceit. Still less do unprejudiced readers. Christ says that He is ‘humble and meek’ and we believe Him; not noticing that, if He were merely a man, humility and meekness are the very last characteristics we could attribute to some of His sayings.

    I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: ‘I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept His claim to be God.’ That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic — on a level with the man who says he is a poached egg — or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God or else a madman or something worse. You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronising nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.”

  • One quibble, Jefferson was an old man when he made his cut and paste Bible. This was the culmination of a lifetime of thinking, not a whim of youth.

  • An elderly Jefferson attempting to edit the Gospels to remove the supernatural has always struck me as either inexpressibly silly or inexpressibly sad. Tom Jefferson, on occasion, was the wisest of the Founding Fathers, and on other occasions the daffiest.

  • I am afraid that Thomas Jefferson was an alcoholic and probably had become senile. Jefferson’s bible cutting probably resulted from his trying to make his concept of God fit the Sacred Scripture. How sad.

  • “Dandy Andy.”

    Niiice. 😀

  • Mary, I doubt the senile alcoholic bit very much. I worked on the recent conservation of the bible. So I’ve examined it first hand. Only someone very lucid and dexterous could have meticulously put that book together as he did. As for his motivation, he was a complex man with many contradictions. I thing you are right about making the Bible fit his views. One of the curators suggested that Jefferson cutting up the Bible was comparable to marking up your own copy with your favorite passages underlined. I don’t buy that line of reasoning. He was making a bold statement even if he intended for the book to be for his own private use.

  • Yeah, there is no evidence that Jefferson was either an alcoholic or senile. In fact letters from his latter years reveal a rather sharp mind into his 80s. His “bible” is a reflection of long-held religious views. The man was a radical, and I don’t think it was the vino that made him one.

  • Jefferson did not call his editing of the Bible a bible. I wonder what his own statements were in response to people’s reactions to his book.
    The title he gave it was “The Life and Morals of Jesus of Nazareth.”… which could have been an effort to see what mere mortals can learn from Jesus about how to live– an early version of WWJD. I read that somewhere a long time ago. I don’t know his motives but it does seem plausible.
    He was, I think, an immensely practical man, curious and intelligent– and perhaps he wasn’t discounting the miracles but wanted to see in a graphic way what he could learn from Jesus that could be applied to his own life —

  • From Jefferson’s letter to Benjamin Rush, April 21, 1803:

    The question of his being a member of the Godhead, or in direct communication with it, claimed for him by some of his followers, and denied by others, is foreign to the present view, which is merely an estimate of the intrinsic merits of his doctrines.
    1.He corrected the Deism of the Jews, confirming them in their belief of one only God, and giving them juster notions of his attributes and government.
    2.His moral doctrines, relating to kindred & friends, were more pure & perfect than those of the most correct of the philosophers, and greatly more so than those of the Jews; and they went far beyond both in inculcating universal philanthropy, not only to kindred and friends, to neighbors and countrymen, but to all mankind, gathering all into one family, under the bonds of love, charity, peace, common wants and common aids. A development of this head will evince the peculiar superiority of the system of Jesus over all others.
    3.The precepts of philosophy, & of the Hebrew code, laid hold of actions only. He pushed his scrutinies into the heart of man; erected his tribunal in the region of his thoughts, and purified the waters at the fountain head.

    Jefferson also challenged the veracity Gospel and Epistle writers, noting that they wrote long after Christ had departed from the Earth. Christ was unable to write about his own life, and thus his teachings have been distorted through the years. Jefferson held that Paul had distorted the teachings of Christ. In Jefferson’s view, Paul was a “Platonist who had brought beclouding mysticism to Jesus’ clear moral teachings.”

    Jesus discounted the miracles and the resurrection not because he wanted to highlight Jesus’s teachings, but because he thought the supernatural elements of Christ’s life were just myth.

  • Thank You– there it is from the horse’s (Jefferson”s) mouth– I was wondering– I appreciate your response! I always want to see people in what I think is a good light– sometimes it’s just not that way

  • Of course, what Sullivan really wants is what most post-moderns want – a Jesus who will ratify gay marriage, contraception, fornication, women’s rights, and the rest of the leftist egalitarian agenda.

    Christianity brought to the world approximately as much egalitarianism as it could possibly handle without falling apart, summed up by St. Paul in Galatians (and I paraphrase): neither Jew nor Greek, male nor female, slave or free, but all one in Christ. And yet in spite of this spiritual and moral truth, St. Paul recognizes slaves and masters, husbands and wives, as distinct and necessary parts of the social order with specific duties and obligations towards one another.

    It takes a mind unclouded by fanatical rage and envy to understand how it is possible to have a society in which there simultaneously exists a hierarchy and a concept of equality and how these work together to maintain peace and harmony. Such minds are an increasingly rare commodity. And so there is an attempt to re-cast Jesus as a 1st century Che Guevara, or at least a 1st century American liberal-Democrat, a milquetoast little nothing of a man who had no strong opinions on anything and simply lived and let live.

    No one can read the Gospels and honestly agree with these people.

  • The late greatest Catholic theologian the United States has ever produced Cardinal Avery Dulles (son of Secretary of State under Eisenhower and namesake of Dulles International airport on DC John Foster Dulles) has an excellent article on the whole issue of Deism and the Founding Fathers:

    http://www.firstthings.com/article/2008/08/the-deist-minimum–28

    …and in it he gives some great insights into Jefferson.

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  • Thank you Fr Barron. It was Jesus rising from the dead that has made the church what it is after 2000 years. What you wrote has once again made me feel liberated being a Catholic. Keep up the good work. God bless.

  • I read the Newsweek article carefully (as I’m sure the rest of you did), and didn’t come away with the feeling that Sullivan was calling for a revision or a stripping down of the New Testament to mere moral teachings, but rather was using Jefferson’s cut-up Bible as a mental exercise to get us to think about what Jesus said (and didn’t say), without the trappings of current political contexts and what politicians and get-rich evangelists are doing to Christianity. What did Jesus actually SAY about homosexuality? What did he SAY about marriage? What did he SAY about family values? What did he SAY about gay marriage? And what DIDN’T he say about these things?

    In fact, (as you all know, because you all read it; but it’s strange no one mentioned it above), most of the Newsweek article is about Saint Francis of Assisi. Saint F. took the words of Jesus to heart: he renounced his inheritance, gave away everything he had, and sought to serve others without ever having any power over them. He was humble. Winsome. ‘The lesser brother’. And the reluctant founder of an order that lasts to this day.

    Now contrast Saint Francis to our leaders and would-be leaders of today. They gain votes by spouting supposedly Biblical positions on inflammatory topics. But what do they want? To serve Christ in humility? To feed the poor and help the suffering? Or, maybe, just maybe, they want power. And cash. And food for their sizable egos.

    “For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”

  • There is merit in the intellectual exercise of examining Jesus’s teachings and life stripped of the supernatural. Jesus is a clever speaker, a provocateur, a gadfly, who reminds me of Socrates in Athens. But Jesus’s teachings and life stripped of the supernatural probably puts Jesus into the company of the top 100 philosophers. Still pretty impressive, but He’s not special without the supernatural. Jefferson’s Bible shows us that Jesus, without God, is impressive, but not enough. I’m glad Jefferson did this.

  • Thank you Father Barron!
    More Catholics need to learn from and follow his example!

  • I don’t waste eyesight or time reading the noisome opinions and grammar-appropriate rantings in Newsweek or from Sullivan (that is since March 2003 when he termed Pope John Paul II’s opposition to the Iraq invasion, “traditional, Catholic anti-semitism” – they fired the Derb for far less).

    “Twain, “If you don’t read the papers, you are uninfrmed. If you read the papers, you are misinformed.”

    I prayerfully spent the commuting days of Lent reading through the four Gospels, twice. I say, “prayerfully” because I read them in order to learn what Christ taught; to recall that through His Life, Death and Resurrection He purchased for me eternal life; and to amend my life as necessary.

    The purpose of the Gospels is to save souls, NOT to justify worldly opinion.

  • I didn’t read it either, but I did see Sullivan’s Easter morning appearance with Jake Tapper talking about this– I was irked. That seems to be pretty much my condition lately.

  • John 12: 30 – 33, Our Lord says, “Now is the time for ths world to be judged; now the ruler of this world will be overthrown. When I am lifted up from the Earth, I will draw everyone to me.” (In saying this He indicated the kind of death He was going to suffer.)

  • I will not be surprised if someone levels a charge of “hate crime” against Fr. Barron. After all, Mr. Sullivan is a man with same-sex attraction, and we all know one cannot disagree with a person with same-sex attraction without being called a “homophob.”

  • Personally, I’ll accept the Bible in its present form which has survived around 1700 years of criticism by scientist and theologian alike rather than succumb to a revisionist interpretation composed by a handful of political egotists looking to substantiate their own agendas…!!!

  • Mrs. Zummo: Thank you for the information. I believe you are correct, especially with hands on experience. Thomas Jefferson tried to separate the Son of God from the Son of Man, the hypostatic union, Christ from Christ’s divinity. Thomas Jefferson could not have been saved if Jesus was not God. May Thomas Jefferson rest in peace seeing the God-man in all His glory.

  • Jason: Every practicing homosexual came into our world through a mother and a father, and the homosexual practicioner’s parents want grandchildren. How hateful is it in not giving his parents grandchildren? “Honor your father and your mother that you shall be long-lived upon the face of the earth”. If Father Barron, a spiritul father of multitudes out lives Dandy Andy, it will not be because Father Barron did not give Dandy Andy the TRUTH to live by. Long live Father Robert Barron.

It’s On: Jefferson v. Adams!

Wednesday, February 23, AD 2011

One of the more interesting aspects of the conflict between Jefferson and Adams is how little difference it made in the long run in American history, except, perhaps, for an early establishment of the two party tradition.  For all Jefferson’s partiality to France, when he was in office he steered a strictly neutral course.  The economic development of the country was little changed by the switch in parties in power.  The battles over internal developments that marked the conflicts between Democrats and Whigs, were matters for a later time when expansion and technological progress brought them to the fore.  The Alien and Sedition Acts which loom large in the below video:

involved less of principle and more of politics.  Jefferson, for example, was in favor of prosecutions of federalists under state sedition laws in states which his followers controlled. 

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5 Responses to It’s On: Jefferson v. Adams!

  • I found the way the movie portrayed the correspondance of Jefferson and Adams in their later years to be a moving portrayal.

  • Jefferson did not have sexual relations, or children with his slave, Sally Hemmings, so the jungle fever comment, in is very bad taste.

  • and the DNA link, is with the descendents of one of Hemmings children, not all of them. the DNA just proves that A Jefferson fathered that child, not Thomas Jefferson. THe birth of that child took place, when Thomas Jefferson was already old and sick, it has been said that it is more likely that Jefferson’s younger brother fathered that child.

  • Either Jefferson or one of his male relatives did father the children of Sally Hemmings. Certainly at the time his political enemies accused him of it. I am agnostic on the subject, although such liasons between male masters and female slaves were far from uncommon in the ante bellum South. As Mary Chesnut wife of a US Senator from South Carolina, prior to the Civil War, wrote in her diary:

    “This is only what I see: like the patriarchs of old, our men live all in one house with their wives & their concubines, & the Mulattos one sees in every family exactly resemble the white children-& every lady tells you who is the father of all the Mulatto children in everybody’s household, but those in her own, she seems to think drop from the clouds or pretends so to think-. “

  • Just to echo what Don said, we simply do not know and probably can never know whether or not Thomas Jefferson fathered children with Sally Hemmings. The circumstantial evidence suggests he could have, and the DNA evidence proves it’s either him or his cousin. Anybody who argues definitively in either direction simply lacks evidence to support their argument.

Thomas Jefferson: The Miniseries

Monday, February 7, AD 2011

A very well done fan made “trailer” for a Thomas Jefferson miniseries, with the trailer consisting of clips from the John Adams miniseries.  Such a miniseries would be challenging.  Jefferson was one of the most complicated of the Founding Fathers, and there is plenty of his legacy to fight about still.  I love the Declaration of Independence, yet I think clearly Alexander Hamilton had the better plan for the economic development of the country.  I agree with Jefferson on his concern about too much federal authority over states, but he loses me with his embrace, prior to his presidency, of nullification. Jefferson spoke and wrote against slavery his entire life, yet he made no plans, as did Washington, to free his slaves after his death.  A man who railed against government debt, he was so profligate in his personal finances that all of his property, including his slaves, had to be sold after his death to pay his debts.  A man who deeply cherished the teachings of Christ, yet denied His divinity.  A man averse to standing armies and war, yet he supported the French Revolution at its bloodiest, and could talk glibly about the blood of patriots watering the tree of liberty, while he never served a day in the Continental Army.

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8 Responses to Thomas Jefferson: The Miniseries

  • Our only Catholic Signer of the Declaration of Independence had some fun quotes on Jefferson 🙂

    I think Charles Carroll of Carrollton was really afraid he would have to go underground when Jefferson was elected

  • After reading biographies of Washington, Adams, Hamilton, and Jefferson, I am left with a very negative impression of Jefferson on the whole.

    One item: Here is a man who wrote against slavery, but who sometimes sold slaves to pay his debts.

  • I wouldn’t be surprised if a person reading popular history would come away with a negative impression of him. A LOT is made of his keeping slaves at Monticello despite writing against slavery.

    BUT his personal failings should not distract from the good ideas he did have. He perceived the dangers of central banking, the importance of Natural Rights and the connection personal liberty has with a whole society’s prosperity.

    Jefferson also knew how crushing debt could be, and probably would hold up his own life as an example. On his trips abroad he certainly was a spendthrift, and I believe he inherited large debt from his father-in-law. That, combined with his obsession over Monticello, blinded him to the moral necessity of freeing his slaves.

    Let’s not forget the failings of other founders. John Adams, the man who fought for rights like the freedom of speech, signed the Alien and Sedition Acts. And, while I’m no expert on General Washington, I have read in the past that it wasn’t exactly a picnic being under his command.

    So, while I agree that Jefferson was no saint (heck, and no fan of that Roman popery…) I think he still remains one of the better models to look to for America’s intellectual heritage.

    But hey, I disagree with Don strongly on Abraham Lincoln. I just think he’s the worst. I find him more a beacon for a quasi-religious vision of the all-powerful State than an advocate of personal liberty. Every time I read something from Lincoln or about him I have to keep from vomiting a little. I just simply don’t buy that this sacred union is meant to usher in the “glory of the coming of the Lord,” as the famous song says… Nor do I buy that this land is “exceptional,” if by the word we mean America is some how exempt from the moral norms of international diplomacy and economics. America is only as great as the content of her ideas, but she is not transcendent-great.

    You have to put these guys in perspective. Keep the good they brought into the world and discard what they did wrong. Like Aquinas with Aristotle. 🙂

  • “Every time I read something from Lincoln or about him I have to keep from vomiting a little.”

    You will have ample opportunity to clear your digestive tract Anthony in the next week, as I have several posts planned celebrating our greatest President in honor of his birthday.

  • I think he still remains one of the better models to look to for America’s intellectual heritage.

    Nothing could be further from the truth. It’s funny that you (incorrectly) lambast Lincoln as the great centralizer, but it is in fact the Jeffersonian philosophy and its underlying utopianism that is the intellectual foundation for America’s development into leviathan.

  • @Don: Judging from the consistency of your Lincoln posts, I’d say Lincoln has a birthday once a month.

    @Paul: Jeffersonian rhetoric is used all the time by the modern GOP to mask what are in reality centralizing policies, if that’s what you mean. As far as it all being utopian, I’d disagree: its far more utopian to believe that centralized power works, and incidentally, is just. Lincoln, TR, Wilson and FDR were all in their own way the great centralizers of US history.

  • Jeffersonian rhetoric is used all the time by the modern GOP to mask what are in reality centralizing policies

    That’s not what I meant. Jefferson’s political philosophy, when logically extended, becomes a centralizing philosophy. He was the champion of progress and disregarding the dead hand of the past. Even though he called himself a strict constructionist, it’s Jeffersonianism in action when Courts and Congress disregard the Constitution.

    As far as it all being utopian, I’d disagree: its far more utopian to believe that centralized power works Lincoln, TR, Wilson and FDR were all in their own way the great centralizers of US history.

    You are correct in all but Lincoln. But TR Wilson, and FDR were doing nothing more but applying Jefferson’s democratic utopianism.

  • An excellent article regarding the influence of deism on many of the Founders by the late Cardinal Avery Dulles:

    http://www.sullivan-county.com/deism/reason2.htm

    Although Jefferson and Franklin held many tenets of Deism, they believed, as the Declaration clearly states, that God had an active role in history and that man owes to God an account of his life, two things that fly directly in the face of Deism. Dulles does a masterful job in illustrating Jefferson’s (whom he calls the “Sage of Monticello) complex and ever-evolving religiousd views.

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?