Citizenship, Economy, Free Society

We fought a war for these freedoms

© 2014 Earl L. Haehl: Permission is given to use this article in whole as long as credit is given. Book rights are reserved.

In 1743, Sam Adams and James Otis, Jr, were admitted to the degree of Master of Arts with Honours by Harvard College. These two gentlemen were both allies and rivals over the next few years and the intellectual fathers of the American Revolution in Massachusetts Bay colony.

James Otis, Jr, was appointed advocate general of the vice admiralty court in Boston where he was an advocate enforcing the onerous Acts of Trade of 1751. As the residents of Massachusetts Bay sought extra-legal relief (Messrs John Hancock and Sam Adams being involved in such activity) Parliament came up with the use of “General Warrants” which allowed the Kings officers to search what they chose, when they chose and where they chose without specifics.

In 1761, partly because Gov Bernard appointed Thomas Hutchinson rather than James Otis, Sr, as Chief Justice, the younger Otis resigned his position as advocate general and took up the cause of the merchants of Massachusetts Bay. He did this pro bono or without fee.

His five hour argument in February of 1761, included the following:

A man’s house is his castle; and whilst he is quiet, he is as well guarded as a prince in his castle. This writ, if it should be declared legal, would totally annihilate this privilege. Custom-house officers may enter our houses when they please; we are commanded to permit their entry. Their menial servants may enter, may break locks, bars, and everything in their way; and whether they break through malice or revenge, no man, no court may inquire.

Does this sound familiar? Does the justification of NSA surveillance by such “defenders of our freedom” as Rep Peter King (R-NY) ring familiar?

James Otis, Jr, had begun his argument with the following.

I was desired by one of the court to look into the (law) books, and consider the question now before them concerning Writs of Assistance. I have accordingly considered it, and now appear not only in obedience to your order, but likewise in behalf of the inhabitants of this town, who have presented another petition, and out of regard to the liberties of the subject. And I take this opportunity to declare that whether under a fee or not (for in such a cause as this I despise a fee) I will to my dying day oppose, with all the powers and faculties God has given me, all such instruments of slavery on the one hand and villainy on the other, as this Writ of Assistance is.

John Adams, Sam’s more conciliatory cousin who had doubts about independence characterized this as the first act of resistance. It was the first action in an intellectual war of small actions which culminated in the shots fired at Lexington Green on 19 April 1775.

The court, presided over by the corrupt Thomas Hutchinson, rejected the argument. But the speech was amplified and published over the years. In December of 1773 Hutchinson was to be the recipient of a shipment of tea that would be forfeit to his warehouse on 17 December of that year. James Otis, Jr’s classmate Sam organized a costume party (it took place on Beethoven’s third birthday) that result in the tea being tossed into the harbor so it could not be unloaded.

Through the assistance of the anti-federalist movement which in the newly free and independent Commonwealth of Massachusetts included Sam Adams and the sister of James Otis, Jr, Mercy Otis Warren, ten amendments restricting governmental powers were adopted and ratified. These included the Fourth Amendment which reads:

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

After “9/11” supposedly changed “our democracy forever” the United States passed the USAPATRIOT Act which greatly expanded the powers of the US Department of Justice, the NSA (LBJ’s Secret Police) and government in general—we now have a Transportation Security Administration and Department of Homeland Security with seemingly unlimited powers. (I could posit that the events of 11 September 2001 did not substantially change the risk level for the United States but only the fear level.)

This legislation is not “the law of the land” in that it is passed, not pursuant to the powers granted in the body of the Constitution and contrary to the limits on federal power bluntly stated in the fourth article amending that Constitution. In other words, the argument is that an emergency grants extraordinary powers to ignore the basics of governing in a free society. In the 1688 Bill of Rights, the British Parliament objected to standing armies in time of peace—and since 1688 every monarch has assured military adventurism as a means to keeping standing armies. In 1798 John Adams wanted emergency powers because he had a gotten into a shooting conflict with France—his successor refused to enforce those powers. Since 1914 the United States has been in conflict with one or more foes—only twice, 1917 and 1941, have there been formal declarations of war although Bill Fulbright posited that the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution might be so considered.

The advantage to the powers that be of “emergencies” is that the electorate, with a dire threat from the outside, is willing to forgo freedoms in the belief that such willingness will diminish the threat. Ergo, since Muslim extremists were capable of flying a couple planes into buildings we are under threat—although we currently have no enemies with industrial capabilities, having reached a rapprochement with Red China and having caused the downfall of the Soviet Union through a massive spending war. However, we have a “Global War on Terror” as a result of G.W. Bush acting like John Adams on steroids and Barack Obama not being Thomas Jefferson in any sense.

Going back to the Fourth Amendment, James Otis, Jr, began a revolution of thought. As the kernel of the idea grew, it was added to and built up pressure. By April of 1775, the American Revolution was over—what lay ahead was a War for Independence. Yes, for these ideas and freedoms we went to war, not to give power over to a government that took crises as a rationale for going back to a time before it all happened and back to a government that made Leviathan look like a gila monster.

 

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Citizenship, Free Society, Trivia

Death of Parties

© 2013 Earl L. Haehl Permission is given to use this article in whole as long as credit is given. Book rights are reserved.

I read of the death of the Republican Party. I have read this many times about both parties. Ross Perot was going to replace both. Political parties come and go and evolve.

A number of Federalists in New York affiliated themselves with the Tammany Hall wing of the Democratic-Republicans sponsoring Aaron Burr in 1804 as their gubernatorial candidate against against Morgan Lewis of the Clintonian (or anti-federalist) Wing. Burr’s program included his support of the secession of the Northern States (New York and New England) to form a confederation more favorable to Britain than to France. Federalists from Massachusetts actually supported Burr for Governor of New York because of his willingness to sign a bill of secession. There were those who feared the Louisiana Purchase would give Jefferson too much power. The Federalists had no candidate so two Democratic-Republican Candidates went head to head.

In steps Alexander Hamilton who wants absolutely nothing of secession because it would be bad for commerce. Hamilton disliked Jefferson and loathed George Clinton politically because they opposed the ratification of the Constitution. He also happened to despise Aaron Burr as a rival in New York Banking. An off-handed insult by Hamilton was perceived by Burr to have given the victory of Lewis and was the “proximate cause” of the oldest sports rivalry in the Ivy League. (Dueling: Princeton 1 – Columbia 0) While some credit the duel as the end of the Federalists, the party had become a northeastern parochial party after 1800.

The Democratic-Republicans, on the other hand were experiencing a similar breakdown. Morgan Lewis, while having some moderate support, was the last of the anti-federalist crowd. A supporter, DeWitt Clinton (George’s nephew who inspired a future governor to build canals) shifted to Tammany to run for Governor and even ran as a Federalist for President in 1812 to oppose Madison’s War.

TRIVIA WATCH

George Clinton was the longest serving governor in American history. He was the first vice-president elected on a party ticket rather than as runnerup for President. He served as vice-president for both Jefferson and Madison. His greatest accomplishment was in chairing the Ratification Convention in New York where New York’s entry into the compact was made contingent on the Bill of Rights. Some scholars believe he was the author of the Anti-federalist Papers attributed to Cato, but others say the authorship is still in doubt—fortunately dueling has been outlawed.

Speaking of dueling: Aaron Burr was the grandson of Jonathan Edwards and a well educated banker. He was involved in a plot to form an empire in Spanish Territory—That had to wait for Pres James Polk who was a cousin to Bishop Leonidas Polk who married a Granddaughter of Jonathan Edwards. The Burr family formed the Manhattan Company (not to be confused with the Manhattan Project) to transport water in Manhattan Island—it also had authority to issue notes and hold deposit. It remains in existence as JP Morgan Chase and owns Alexander Hamilton’s pistols.

DeWitt Clinton had a steam engine named for him. He is best know for the Erie Canal—in opposition campaign literature it was called, “Clinton’s big ditch.”

Modern Republicans are divided and ripping in several directions, but there will always be dissension. The great political philosopher of the 19th Century, Finley Peter Dunne, speaking in the persona of Mr Dooley, said, “if ye’re in a room where a man in one corner is shouting miscreant and in the other corner is one shouting thraitor, you know its only two loyal demmycrats trying to reunite the party.”

Remember: tags are invitations to research.

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Citizenship, Free Society

Compromise – a slippery slope?

(c) 2012 Earl L. Haehl Permission is given to use this article in whole as long as credit is given. Book rights are reserved.

“Remember,” my wife said, “that this nation is built on compromise.” To a large extent that is true—we would not have the Department of Defense were it not for compromises made after World War II. We would not have the USAPATRIOT Act, the Transportation Security Administration or the Department of Homeland Security without honorable legislators compromising their principles and their Constitution.

The Department of Defense was supposed to give Congress and the administration a handle on spending—it also creates a Secretary who can resolve disputes between the military (Army and Air Force departments) and naval (the department of the Navy was left intact) forces in time of war. The only time this really was a problem was when planning the route for the invasion of Japan in 1944 when Roosevelt had the problem of mediating between the Nimitz plan (through China) and the Macarthur plan (through the Philippines). The Nimitz plan made more strategic sense, but Macarthur threatened to resign and accept the Republican nomination to run against FDR. The President folded quickly. So after the War, George Catlett Marshall worked at developing a unified defense establishment—he intended to reduce duplication and make procurement more economical, and, by the way, eliminate the Marines.

The Marines are still here—to have a UDF you really need to start without strong traditions. Three of the five largest air forces in the world are in DOD. In 1960 there was a big push for a single belt buckle across services—see above The Marines are still here. I have no idea how many extraneous layers of bureaucracy exist in that five-sided building, but I do know we fought World War II with a lot fewer General Officers and you did not have the requirement of a flag in every nuclear armed B-52. So an audit of function as well as budget—conducted by former enlisted personnel rather than officers might be a guide. Compromises generally enlarge agencies.

What else happened was that the venue for compromise was moved to an Executive Branch “superdepartment” in which the arguments about budget are “fully explored, discussed and winnowed” before being presented to Congress in the executive budget proposal. Back before Hoover, Congress did not receive a unified budget proposal—departments competed for the attention of a Congress that took its responsibility for thrift seriously and would decide whether the Army needed ten new tanks more than the Navy needed a new cruiser. Now the Department of Defense has already vetted the request and anything less than full funding of two littorals, twenty tanks, and 150 drones is unacceptable. And congressional compromise is limit to whose district will benefit.

The Transportation Security Administration is an example of a party agenda forcing a “compromise.” The Democrats told Bush the airport security program was DOA unless it included a federal jobs program. The Administration folded. Ten years out there is scant evidence that the quality of personnel has improved—further, the prohibition on unionization has been lifted and TSA employees are now in the fold. Compromises lead to further compromises. See Understanding Gradualism and the Dialectic (https://loboviejo.com/2012/07/19/understanding-…-the-dialectic/).

Back in 1998, at the request of President Clinton, Gary Hart and Warren Rudman co-chaired a Commission on 21st Century Security. The report, issued in 2001, layed out a proposal for a homeland security program at the federal level. The constitutional authority for such an endeavor is found in Article X of Amendment which reads, “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.” Through a series of compromises agreed upon by the three branches of government and not seriously challenged by the states as a unified body the Commerce Clause has become sort of a general grant of powers to the Federal Government. The European model for internal security is extremely centralized—note that no western European nation encompasses six time zones (Maine to Hawaii).

The Bush administration wanted an Office of Homeland Security within the White House, a sign that the problem involved coordination between current agencies while Congressional Democrats wanted a Department. The difference is that an Office may be abolished when it is no longer necessary—a Department becomes a permanent fixture and seeks, on its own, to expand by developing its own constituency in the Congress and the press. A Department becomes a default budget item whereas an Office may be in the third or fourth tier of priority.

The result of compromise in order to achieve the Bush agenda on other matters was the Department of Homeland Security.

So where does this leave us. We are faced with a situation where there will be compromises required for the government to operate over the next four years. We need only look at Europe which is devolving to see the consequence of continued spending without the means to spend. We have a “running scared” Republican establishment thinking about the next election and what is needed to “make a comeback” and a “smugly confident” Democratic establishment that knows the way to win elections is to identify constituencies and “deliver the goods” so that the votes and the contributions come in. There is no political advantage to cutting spending—the key is to pretend to be “investing in America.” All compromises will be made in this context.

In the area of individual liberties, they have been compromised away in pursuit of the Security state. Either Ben Franklin or Richard Jackson wrote; “Those who would give up Essential Liberty to purchase a little Temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.” In other words there is something that should never be compromised—lest it never be regained.

As an example only, I am going to look at the issue of gun control because it is so much a matter of where the statists have worked through gradualism and compromise to get where they are currently.

Do you know that the National Firearms Act of 1934 had nothing to do with gun prohibition and was only passed as a revenue measure under the excise power of the United States? Who said that? The US Justice Department, in appealing the acquittal of Jack Miller for failing to pay a transfer fee on a five dollar shotgun that had its barrel shortened. Never mind that there was no case in controversy as Mr Miller could not be served—having disappeared into the anonymity of poverty that was most of the rural south in the 30s. Never mind the prohibition on double jeopardy. The government did not argue the fear of “gangster weapons” that dominated the congressional debates. This was a valid exercise of the excise power to raise revenue—and anyway a “sawed-off” shotgun is not a weapon of military utility. The Court made the finding of fact that such weapon had no military utility and therefore it was not a Second Amendment question.

Do you know that the 1968 gun control act was passed by compromises protecting the US firearms industry? Further, it limited prohibition of possession and transfer to individuals whose civil rights in general are infringed—it does not have a prohibition on the mentally ill but rather “(4) has been adjudicated as a mental defective or has been committed to any mental institution…” The major US manufacturers bought off.

Do you know that the McClure-Volkmer Firearms Owners Protection Act of 1986 was only passed because of a compromise prohibiting the manufacture and transfer of machine guns in the civilian market after 19 May 1986? The NRA went along with the compromise.

Recall that the anti-federalist movement, once the inevitability of ratification became apparent, made the Bill of Rights a condition precedent to participation in the Compact. There can be no compromise on that portion of the Constitution.

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Citizenship, Education, Free Society

Credit where due

(c) 2012 Earl L. Haehl Permission is given to use this article in whole as long as credit is given. Book rights are reserved.

James Madison, Jr, took copious notes at the federal convention and fleshed them out between sessions. That he was one of the instigators of the convention is not disputed. That he participated in the ratification process and eventually put the Bill of Rights (as well as the Twenty-seventh Amendment) in their current form are matters of record.

But he is not the Father of the Constitution or the Father of the Bill of Rights. Most of the language in the Constitution proper comes from the literary abilities of Gouvernor Morris of Pennsylvania and the Bill of Rights is a (poor) adaptation of the Virginia Declaration of Rights produced by Col George Mason.

Col Mason believed a bill of rights needed to be the first article of any Constitution—he had done it that way in Virginia. Although present, he declined to sign the document for lack of the Bill of Rights and worked to prevent ratification in Virginia. Elbridge Gerry of Massachusetts did the same. Edmund Randolph did not like the document and declined to sign.

The Bill of Rights was the result of the anti-federalist movement. Madison was only a drafter, not being particularly invested in the project—he had argued for ratification without a bill of rights. His version of the Second Amendment lacks the admonitions against standing armies found in the Virginia Declaration.

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