Constitution Memorial Day

U.S. ConstitutionSaturday marked the 229th anniversary of the ratification of the U.S. Constitution.  It established the United States as the world’s first constitutional republic.  We may be mere months from the end of America’s existence as such.  2017 could be the first year of a new, post-Constitutional era.  If Hillary Clinton is elected president her choices of Supreme Court justices will tip the balance in favor of a Court that sees the Constitution as a “living document”, one that can be interpreted to mean whatever they need it to mean.  On that day, the Constitution, already in exile, will cease to function as a constraint on government.

“A Bill of Rights that means what the majority wants it to mean is worthless.”  -Antonin Scalia

The Bill of Rights in particular will be eroded to such an extent as to become meaningless.  Rights favored by the new majority will be created out of whole cloth, while rights not favored, such as the right to bear arms, will be made virtually impossible to exercise.   Consider this:  The subject of marriage does not come up anywhere in the Constitution, but the tenth amendment says: “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.” So anything not specifically mentioned in the Constitution, such as marriage, would seemingly be governed by that amendment. It establishes what is often referred to as “state’s rights”.  When some states wanted to outlaw same-sex marriage, and some states wanted to legalize it, the Supreme Court stepped in with the Obergefell v. Hodges and legalized ‘gay marriage’ nationally.  Many social conservatives objected to the decision on moral and religious grounds, setting those objections aside the decision created a number of problematic consequences for the Constitution. Many, including Justice Roberts, believe the majority in that ruling used arguments with no constitutional basis:

“Whether same-sex marriage is a good idea should be of no concern to us. Under the Constitution, judges have power to say what the law is, not what it should be”

Ruling based on what the majority thought the law should be seems to be exactly what happened.  The Court invented an individual right at the expense of the rights of the states.  The tenth amendment seems to exist only at the whim of the majority.  Impatient with the legislative process that requires consensus building, activists used the Court to do what they could not wait for the state legislatures to do.  Now they have the law but necessarily a consensus.  Because the ruling was based on emotional arguments more than constitutional ones, there is now no constitutional argument to place any limits on marriage between adults, not based on the sex of the participants, not based on the number, nor kinship nor likely even age.  Polygamy laws could be struck down tomorrow, were the cause popular enough.  What would be the argument against?

What other amendments are as disposable as the tenth?  What if the courts because of some public pressure due to security decided to give similar treatment to the fourth amendment?   Our right to privacy would be gone.  Proponents of so-called common sense gun control have already called for legislation (no fly no buy) that would simultaneously abridge our second, fifth, and fourteenth amendment rights.  What if the Court decided to do what a powerful voting bloc such as the anti-gun lobby demanded?

“As long as judges tinker with the Constitution to ‘do what the people want,’ instead of what the document actually commands, politicians who pick and confirm new federal judges will naturally want only those who agree with them politically.” – Antonin Scalia

Another example of how SCOTUS justices chose to use extremely contorted logic to arrive at the decision they wanted was National Federation of Independent Business v. Sebelius, the ruling that effectively legalized the Affordable Care Act, A.K.A. Obamacare.  This allowed the government to compel its citizens to engage in commerce, whether they chose to or not, whether they felt like they needed the product or not.  If you remember your grade school history, the American revolution was fought to end this sort of thing.  A government that can compel its citizens to spend money, determine how much, and on what does not serve the populace, it rules it.

The Constitution was meant to act as the guardrails of our government.  It was meant to act as a constraint to the federal government while protecting the rights of the states and individuals.  The idea of the Constitution as a ‘living document’ then makes about as much sense as playing football on a field with no sidelines, with no objective means of determining what is in or out of bounds.  Liberal justices, believing that the Constitution must adapt to the present society have little compunction against following only those parts of it that are convenient to their objectives while ignoring others.  When the Constitution gets to the point where it can mean anything the justices need it to mean, it will at once come to mean nothing.  We will be living in a post-constitutional America.  The three Supreme Court justices that our next president is expected to appoint, if they are liberal, activist judges, will be more than enough to effectively end the era of the United States as a constitutional republic.

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Colin Kaepernick and friends continue a misguided protest

For another week, Colin Keapernick and his misguided friends have continued their protest by taking a knee during the national anthem during this week’s NFL games.  It is a protest they say against oppression, police brutality, and a suite of other social justice grievances.  There’s no question that any police brutality is too much. There is no argument that if police cross that line that they should be held to account.  Oppression? Oppression is in the eye of the beholder, but perhaps Kaepernick and the others might like to compare notes with women, Christians, or gays from any number of Muslim countries.  They might want to talk to some of the very few people who have escaped persecution from places like China or North Korea.  The question is whether or not their chosen protest is disrespectful.  If you deliberately withhold a sign of respect, that is by definition disrespectful.

There are all sorts of things that occur within this country’s borders that we don’t approve of.  The simple ceremony of standing for the national anthem has nothing to do with approval, it has to do with honor and respect, not just for the flag, but for the country it represents.  If approval for everything that a country does were the measure, then no one in any country ought to stand for their national anthem.  No country is spotless and free of any civil strife.  No place in the world if totally free of injustice. Some counties though, are worthy of respect from all of its citizens.

The United States more than most deserves respect.  Not blind respect, but the kind of respect that comes with the recognition of what it has done throughout its history to further certain ideals. The kind of respect that comes from seeing not the bad, but the good of a country and its decided preference for the latter.  It also genuine respect for the great, even astounding achievements of its citizens.  Here are but a few:  We freed a continent not our own from brutal oppression. We defeated another oppressive regime that dominated Eastern Europe for well over a half a century without firing a shot.  We sent men to the moon and returned them safely back to earth.  That was us, we did that, not some other country, we did.  Because of America, diseases that once plagues mankind have been made extinct.  We gave the world the electric light, the telephone, the computer.  The list of America’s achievements is long, longer arguably than many other countries centuries older than us.  Every single citizen of this country has more freedom that every single citizen in most of the countries in the world.  Every single person in this country has more freedom of religion than every single person living in China, Iran, and numerous other countries.  Such a country, despite its many faults deserves respect.

Are there issues facing this country that Kaepernick, his fellow athletes, and the rest of America should rightly speak out about?  Of course.  Protesting by taking a knee during the national anthem is their unquestioned right.  The irony is the country that offers them that right ought to be respected for it.  A further irony is that these professional athletes are rewarded for work in their chosen professions at a level that is far disproportionate to that of those who protect their rights.  Their chosen form of protest does not show respect; it shows a fundamental misunderstanding of why Americans honor their country by standing for the Star Spangled Banner.  The object is not to show total approval for their country, but to honor what it has been at its best, the great accomplishments of its people, and what it strives to be.

Anti gun lobby relies once more on ignorance of the Constitution

After the tragic shooting in Orlando, the issue of gun control has come to the fore of American politics.  Unfortunately, one popular solution is the proposed ‘no fly, no buy’ law whereby if you can’t fly due to the fact you’re on the government’s no fly list, you would not be able to purchase a firearm.  It sounds completely rational, it even has some Republican support.  The problem is, many of the people on the no fly or terrorist watch lists are not terrorists.  If the gun control lobby were to have their way, anyone on that list would have to prove their innocence before they could be taken off the list and purchase a gun.  There’s just one problem with that plan, it’s called the fifth amendment.

Congressman Trey Gowdy, (R, SC) more than aptly defined the problem with ‘no fly, no buy’ during Congressional hearings last year on Capitol Hill when he took DHS official Kelli Ann Burriesci to school on the topic of due process. You cannot deprive a citizen of their rights without a fair hearing.   Here apparent ignorance regarding the idea of due process unfortunately is representative of that of the general populace. The anti-gun Left counts on this ignorance to get measures like the proposed gun legislation though.  The average person on the street knows no more about civics that the hapless DHS official in that hearing.

The problem still remains:  How do you keep guns out of the hands of would-be terrorists?  If there is an active FBI investigation, and the subject attempts to buy a gun and is denied because he or she is flagged, does that not alert the subject to the fact they are being investigated?  What if the person is innocent?  Would they have to prove their innocence in order to regain their second amendment rights?  That’s not how our system works.  In out system, you are innocent until proven guilty.

One way, aside from rescinding the fifth and or second amendments, would be to insist that the government either bring charges, or close the case any individual denied sale of a firearm as a result of being on the watch list.  After a brief waiting period, the person would be allowed to complete the sale of their firearm or be in police custody.  Law enforcement would in some cases be made to show their hand, so it’s probably not a solution that the FBI would put forth. It would though force the burden of proof be placed upon the accuser as it should be.

Better for our rights would be to deal with the root cause of the problem, in this case terrorism.  If we could show that ISIS as the inevitable loser in this war, destroy their capital, their mystique would fade, recruitment numbers would dry up.  They would be forced into deciding whether to be a state, or just another terror group with a cool acronym . At any rate, they would be too busy defending their territory to cause much mischief elsewhere.  Fewer terrorists here mean fewer shootings, bombings, and stabbings to contend with, less call for sacrificing our Constitutional rights by those who don’t even know what they are.

 

 

 

 

 

All terrorism is a hate crime.

GWOTOnce again we are faced with a tragedy born of hate perpetrated by an Islamic extremist terrorist.  Many have said that since the shooting early Sunday morning took place at a gay club it was a hate crime.  It was, but then every single act committed in the name of ISIS and their like is a hate crime, be it against gays, Christians, Jews, heavy metal fans, or soccer fans, or anybody else not exactly like them.  The fact that the terrorist’s targets were gay in this instance is irrelevant in the big picture.  This particular murderer just picked the group he hated the most to massacre, as if picking from some twisted, macabre menu.

It is not who he decided to massacre that should disturb or enrage us, it is that there is an entire self-proclaimed nation of extremists out there that has convinced themselves and their followers that the value of  human life is negotiable, worth much in the case of some, worth nothing at all in the case of others, many others.  Like the NAZI’s before them, they revel in having enemies that all their woes can be blamed on.  Scapegoats to blame for their failures and those of their bankrupt ideology.  They lie to themselves that their deeds serve a higher purpose.  They dehumanize others in order to kill them without remorse.  What eventually ended the NAZI’s reign of terror against the weak and the defenseless was a sustained and coordinated effort by the strong– not to reach an accommodation or accord with them, but to destroy them in detail on every battlefront.  What’s more, we and others who shared the means to do so made an irreversible decision to defeat the enemy and never give anything less than our utmost to do so.

We have heard a lot of strong talk after Paris, Brussels, San Bernardino, and the rest.  Each time we resolved not to be cowed or give in to terror.  We vowed to take the fight to the enemy, attack them with every means at our disposal. Indeed, we have taken action, we’ve killed them, captured them, taken away their money.  We’ve done so for years, but for all of those things we’ve done, there is still one thing that remains to do before we can end the terror.  We have to make that same public, non-negotiable, irrevocable pact with ourselves and our allies to win this war as we did the one three-quarters of a century ago against a similar foe.

With the military victory, we must strive for the moral victory. We have to win this fight staying true to our values.  We have to do it while preserving the rights to free speech, religion and peaceful assembly, the right to be secure in our persons, houses, papers, and effects, the right to bear arms.  We have to respect and morn all who have been lost in this struggle, be they gay, straight, Christian, Jew, cop, soldier, or innocent bystander.  We have to understand what our enemy does not– that every human life is sacred, not just those we approve of, or those we can relate to, but all lives.  The reason is simple, because all of what we call civilization is hateful to them and thus a potential target for their militant extremism.  Every act of terror by definition is a hate crime, it’s not them victims that determines this, it is the terrorist.

 

 

 

 

 

Liberty Relearned, Year One

 

LR turns 1
April 6th, 2016 is the first anniversary of Liberty Relearned!

The Liberty Relearned Mission Statement:

To engage in civil, enlightened debate on what political direction is best for the United States, promote a better understanding of conservative/libertarian principals and effectively express them to others in a thoughtful and insightful way.  Liberty Relearned’s goal is to help bring back liberty as the chief American value and to counter the misleading and destructive rhetoric of the liberal statist crowd in America.


A year ago, after a long time watching America drift ever further from her roots of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness I saw some very troubling things happening to my country and society.  The Supreme Court had ruled that it was indeed lawful for a government to mandate its citizens engage in commerce through the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare. The IRS had been used as a weapon against the Tea Party and other similar organizations.  In Washington, D.C., the President closed off and denied access to the WWII Memorial to the very veterans it honored just to turn the public sentiment against his opponents in Congress who were attempting to restore fiscal sanity to government.   I had wondered if the ideas of liberty and personal freedom hadn’t become passé, a quaint notion from a now bygone era.

Even more alarming was seeing the younger generation of Americans gravitate towards destructive ideas such as Socialism and Authoritarianism.  This generation, never having known such things as Cold War, the Reagan Revolution, being even farther removed from such things as the ‘space race’, WWII and the Marshal plan than my generation, seemed to be unaware of the things that made and continued to make America great.  Having never personally experienced any existential threat to its loss, many of them seemed to take things like freedom and liberty for granted.  Having never seen some of our greatest moments, they forgot or never even learned about something called American Exceptionalism.

What then, could a single person of modest means do to help turn the tide away from collectivism, progressivism, and just plan ignorance?  What could I do to help bring back the values that our Founding Fathers believed to be so important that they laid their lives and their fortunes on the line for?  Some people are blessed with skills of oratory, some are natural leaders, and some others have charisma.  I was blessed with a certain skill in writing and design.  There was really one avenue that I felt offered me my best chance to communicate my love of things like capitalism, Americanism, and personal freedom—a year ago this week I started this blog.

It’s now 52 weeks and many posts later, and I’m still working, still believing, still teaching, still learning.   A special thanks goes to you, the reader for joining me in this endeavor.  Here then is to another 365 days of us, in our own ways and voices, pursuing a common goal of helping to bring back liberty as a primary American value.

-JP Mac


 

The Liberty Relearned Voting Guide: Super Tuesday Edition

 

Election 2016

Voting in the primaries?

The ConstitutionI won’t tell you who to vote for in the primaries, except to say that you should vote for a candidate that speaks of supporting the Constitution at least once in every stump speech.   If a candidate talks a lot about how much money they’ll get for you, and very little of how much of your freedom they’ll protect, you should think twice before you vote for them.  Just sayin’.