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

Election over – time to pull up the boots

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

Many “conservatives” will mourn after the election of Statist Obama over Statist Romney. There are those of us with legitimate fears about Obama and gun control, but that is about it and we will have to work harder to prevail. But the truth is, that this was an election about minor tweaks in the progressive agenda, not a “liberal-conservative” matchup. To get a conservative-progressive contest you have to go back to 1964. To get a liberal-progressive contest you go back to 1972.

First of all, no matter what you read in the press or the right alternative media, there is nothing historic or unprecedented in this election. Franklin D Roosevelt was re-elected twice (1936 and 1940) with a worse economic record and unemployment rate—his third reelection came when wartime production skewed the economic reports. Only eighteen Presidents out of forty-four have failed to be reelected—sixteen if you do not count Cleveland. Both Nixon and Clinton were under a cloud of scandal when reelected.

What mistakes did Romney make?

This is the question that will keep pundits busy for about a week at most—a little longer on the alternative media websites—and then it will be limited to the alcohol assisted venues where “conservatives” whine about every election the Republicans did not win. Note: it had nothing to do with Gary Johnson. I do have some observations.

The establishment machine made sure that Ron Paul delegations did not get to the Convention and that Ron Paul delegates were not listed as winning caucuses. People you demonize in August are not real likely to support you in November. I said as much then. Whether it would have made a difference in the electoral college I am not sure, but it could have told voters Romney could be fair.

I have seen Al Gore looser than Romney.

There is a tendency on the part of politicians to share tidbits with key contributors. Unfortunately you should never say anything in any kind of gathering that you do not want known throughout the connected world. (This parallels my advice to high schoolers not to put nude pictures of themselves on facebook or send them to significant parties.) The 47percent remark, regardless of its accuracy or source, hit a nerve in the populace. This is not fair, you say, since Obama seems to be Teflon(tm). Well, the world is what it is. Any politician unaware of the parameters is fair game.

In a debate, Mitt expressed approval of NDAA and the USAPATRIOT Act. This alienated liberty voters. A very considered answer would have addressed the Fourth and Fifth Amendment concerns and been vague enough to make voters think he was considering the issue.

There was no counter to Warren Buffett. Berkshire-Hathaway acquires companies where families are forced by the tax code to divest a profitable company to pay inheritance taxes–this is not that different in strategy from Bain.

Where to from here?

The good news is that the Republican Party is healthier down the ballot than at the top. And there is an opening for liberty minded individuals to influence what is going on. If the Republicans can shift back to the Robert Taft conservatism and pull out of military adventurism, it can start to reduce the size of the federal government.

This is small group by small group process that needs to be implemented now, not at the beginning of a campaign. And it needs to be done without Super PACs.

An agenda.

  1. Decide what to compromise on and what not to. We have much needless gun control legislation because the NRA and other conservative organizations were desperate to compromise rather than look obstructionist. Remember, the anti-federalists forced the Bill of Rights, not as a compromise but as a condition precedent to ratification.
  2. Target legislation for repeal with research. Most of the Homeland Security legislation is “emergency” legislation. The United States was last in a State of War in 1945.
  3. Encourage Tenth Amendment groups in the legislature.
  4. Be ready to force Obama to appoint “vanilla” judges to the Supreme Court. Encourage filibusters if necessary.
  5. Be ready to oppose all UN technical treaties. Support withdrawal from NATO and other organizations which authorize military force contrary to Constitutional constraints.
  6. Support free trade and oppose economic protectionism.

More guidance will come.

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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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Education, Free Society

Amending the Constitution

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

Amending the Constitution of the United is an arduous process. It was intended to be for good reason. Any questions; try reading the California Constitution. There are several “amendments” in the pipeline at any given time. They vary from definition of life to a balanced federal budget. The primary impact of most of these would be the full employment of lawyers. The really hot one right now seems to be “the People’s Rights Amendment,” a rhetorical attack on the Citizens United decision with the effect of eliminating the Bill of Rights altogether. You may read my analysis posted 24 April.

I divide the amendments into limitations on government, housekeeping, individual rights, powers of government.

Articles I-IX are limitations on the federal government and individual rights.

Article X is limitations on federal power and powers reserved to states respectively and to the people.

Article XI limits the jurisdiction of federal courts.

Article XII is a housekeeping amendment on the method of choosing elector.

Articles XIII, XIV and XV are about individual rights. Article XIV also places the limitations of Articles I-IX on the states and their subdivisions.

Article XVI says the federal government may tax income from whatever source.

Article XVII took the appointment of the Senate away from the legislatures and made it by general election.

Article XVIII was one of two populist amendments, this one created national prohibition—a “noble experiment” that unified organized crime across the country and provided plots for numerous movies.

Article XIX is women’s suffrage. Out west it was not necessary. It was only in some of the eastern states that this was necessary.

Article XX reset the days for commencement of presidential terms and congressional terms. It also provided some flexibility in selection of the vice president and succession issues.

Article XXI repealed Article XVIII and gave ATF authority to enforce state laws contrary to the Commerce Clause.

Article XXII created term limits for president.

Article XXIII allows the District of Columbia the same number of Presidential electors as the least populous state. This basically gives the Democrats three guaranteed electors.

Article XXIV abolished use of a poll tax or other tax as a condition precedent to voting.

Article XXV provides for succession due to the death, disability or resignation of a President. Section 4, which has never been used, is problematic as I could see it as a coup d’etat provision.

Article XXVI provides for suffrage at 18.

Article XXVII Congress cannot raise its pay during the session. No change in compensation will take effect until after the next congressional election. This was one of the original twelve proposed, but it took a while—and a bunch of scandals—to take effect.

While I do not favor amendments for their own sake, I do see some areas that could increase liberty.

Repeal Article XVI. The current mess we are in has come from a monopolization of the taxing power by permitting unlimited taxation of income. When the government had to rely on tariffs and excises it did not expand and it did not engage in worldwide military adventurism. The income tax made military adventures by the Executive possible.

Repeal Article XVII. The direct and democratic election of Senators has increased demagoguery and reduced the accountability of the Senate. The purpose of the Senate was to represent the states—as such senators were appointed by, and accountable to, the legislature. This is extremely important in the Senate’s role in treaties but also in national legislation that may impact on small states. Also, senators with national constituencies may ignore their own states entirely.

Repeal Articles XVIII and XXI. When prohibition was repealed, the government kept in place a regulatory system to protect “dry” states from the commerce clause. Repeal would eliminate the A from ATF.

Repeal Article XXII. This proposal would eliminate term limits on the presidency. A good compromise would include changing the impeachment standard from Treason, bribery or other high crimes or misdemeanors to the during good behavior standard for judges. Term limits reduce accountability and were adopted as a knee-jerk reaction to FDR.

Add Article. Prohibit the bundling of regulatory or criminal laws onto budget legislation. It is a common practice to tie unpopular laws to “must pass” budgets.

Add Article. All federal criminal and regulatory statutes shall have a sunset clause. Most criminal laws at the federal level were passed in the heat of reaction. Reconsideration on a regular basis might result in appropriate corrections or repeals.

Add Article. Prohibit the federal courts from the awarding of punitive damages. Punitive damages are a quasi criminal remedy in a civil case. The motivation arises out of two basic premises. The most common is the feeling that a jury will find conduct so outrageous that it needs to be stopped and can best be stopped by excessive awards. The other is that a prosecutor can meet the preponderance of evidence standard for a tort case (every criminal trespass is also a civil tort) but not the reasonable doubt standard required for a criminal conviction. In addition to tort lawyers using the punitive damage tactic, political entities such as Southern Poverty Law Center and the various Public Interest Research Groups will use it as the means of “shutting down” those entities they have decided need shutting down.

Having escaped the Peoples Democratic Republic of California in 1963 I have avoided the idea that a Constitution needs to address every legal contingency. So I will leave it there.

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Education, Writing and diction

Neo-libs anyone?

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

In the study of journalism, English literature and law I came across a common thread, the ideal of precision in the use of language. One of my favorite scenes in Ulysses involves Dubliners in a pub arguing Shakespeare’s meanings as if the Bard were their writer—the truth is that the language is as much theirs as it is the language of London, New York or Kansas City. So I have a vested interest (as a labor relations manager I wore a three-piece suit) in the integrity of the language. And I tend to lecture people such as Bob Livingston on use of the term “liberal.”

The following comment made to Fox was “moderated” by disqus, the censor used by numerous sites including Fox. Since the Wall Street Journal is the jewel in Murdoch’s Crown, there is no need to subscribe to Fox for anything but entertainment news and Stossel

I am going to say something here that may upset a lot of people.  But I am educated in the classical liberal arts which include rhetoric, grammar, logic, geometry, arithmetic, astronomy and music.  I have studied Latin extensively.  The root of the term liberal is the same as the root of the term liberty.  Until we, as a people–not we as a State–stop using the term liberal interchangeably with the terms progressive and statist, we are allowing them to misuse the word they have appropriated.  FDR was not a liberal.  Harry Truman had some liberal tendencies as did JFK.  On the Supreme Court, Hugo Black had liberal tendencies and actually knew the Reconstruction Amendments were about individual rights.  William O Douglas and William J Brennan both believed in the power of government apart from limitations–that the Commerce Clause was that grant and that it superseded all amendments.  Both of the authors of the commerce clause (Hamilton and Madison) held the view that it was not a license to expand federal power, but a preventive of arbitrary and intrusive  state interference in the peaceful conduct of crossing state lines with goods.  

 

The word liber means free.  Anyone advocating that the constitution grants authoritarian or absolute power to the central government has no claim to that title.

The liberals of the late 18th Century were referred to as anti-federalists. We often refer to big government populists as “neo-conservatives.” Does this make post FDR statists “neo-liberals” or neolibs for short?

 

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Education, Free Society

Forget November — Start Now

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

This was titled After November What?! The problem is that after the election lethargy sets in and everyone starts talking like the fan who calls into sportstalk radio after the BCS championship game to state that no wimpy SEC team that never played in Lincoln can call itself the National Champion. Everyone who has ever listened to sports talk radio understands this point. And there are thousands of fans that realize that bad calls happen and there is nothing that can take them back. They quietly wonder about next year and realize that there are five or six seniors for whom there will be no next year.

So every election night is like Super Sunday to the faithful—it just drags on like a game between two teams that have decent defense and no offense. And that is what makes it a spectator sport. Every election night, the losing side talks big about the next election. And a few make good on threats to move out of (city, county, state, country). And there will be a few for whom there will be no next time.

The reality of 2012 is that there are two major party candidates who are not defenders of the Republic. Romney does not understand and Obama is openly hostile. They believe in a system where they divide the spoils and they increase the influence of their respective parties. And they have a public that demands entitlements—yes, subsidies on agriculture, protective tariffs, and bailouts are all entitlements.

So I was writing this to talk about after November. What is going to happen? The party pros are going to be working on the next election, it’s the people who will be overjoyed or distraught. The pros are talking about marketing. What message needs to get out to win the election? How do they sideline the nuisances like Paul or Kucinich?

People are not going to be involved until they are needed—the strategy is to formulate the program and get people involved when there is work to be done. This is not a strategy—it is a habit. The establishment goes into sleep mode for three years, then expects to energize like Popeye slamming a spinach flavored AMP and take on the big boys.

Let’s look at it. The Democrats have been at this since Andrew Jackson lost the Presidency in the House of Representatives in 1824. Did he make a concession speech and go into Ostrich mode until September of 1828? No. He got off his duff and formed alliances. He wrote letters and met with leaders including Martin Van Buren who had organized Tammany Hall. 1828 was the year John Quincy Adams and the National Republicans went down in defeat. The main goals of Democrats are winning elections and governing. Since 1913 they have espoused a cogent progressive stance, and while out of power they still actively push their philosophy and agenda with a major consistency and do not sleep. In other words, campaign mode never ceases. And while they have been out of the White House more than in it since 1950 they have kept Congress with few exceptions.

The Republicans, on the other hand, have been in business since 1858 and, despite a run from 1861 to 1909 with two breaks for Grover Cleveland and one for Andrew Johnson, have been the minority party. If you look at American history, it is a hodge podge of defunct political parties—Federalist, National Republican, Populist, Progressive. The Republican Party may follow suit. The reason is that the Republicans eschew full-time politicians as a necessary evil. So the dilettante of the season with the program of the season is nominated—and surprise, it’s the nominee that the establishment wants except when there is a massive movement like Goldwater.

So how does the Liberty Movement take over a party. First, whether Obama or Romney wins in November the Republican establishment can best be described as moribund. It can hang on for one or two more elections, but it is looking back to the glory of Reagan without a sense of what Reagan was about. The Reagan years were not a significant dint in the march of Progressivism. What youth wants is a march to Freedom. And if they cannot get it, they will not put up with the Party, and the party that does not have youth has no future.

I am of two minds on Romney. He is a dilettante who has a feeling of entitlement because his father was denied the nomination. His idea of foreign policy is the PAX AMERICANA. He supports the policies of Bush and Obama regarding “the war on terror.” His campaign has resorted to dirty politics for the purpose of making the Convention in Tampa a coronation that will lead to the conquest of Obama. The only reasons I can cast a vote for Romney are: 1) He would appoint some fairly vanilla justices to the Supreme Court whereas without a Republican majority in the Senate and even then a lot of them roll with “history.” 2) He would wake up a substantial segment of the anti-war movement that sleeps while “the chosen one” occupies the house at the juncture of New York and Pennsylvania Avenues.

Remember that our goal is not putting Romney in the White House. While there is hope that he can be brought around—he had a “come to Jesus” moment at the NRA convention—he likely would continue on the path to implosion at a slightly smaller pace—it is even likely that he will serve only one term, leaving Obama out there plotting to pull a Grover Cleveland. The more likely scenario is that a popular Democratic Governor will emerge. Both parties look for the (con)man on the white horse. Our goal instead is to advance the cause of the liberty movement, to bring down the Imperial Presidency and to restore the Republic with its limits on power and its individual rights against the tyranny of the majority.

There is the alternative of a “third” party which has been defined as any party not Republican or Democrat. American history is littered with third parties. The key is to capture the Party without getting sucked in. This means going precinct by precinct, county by county, state by state. It is better done outside of an election year, but you need to start where you are. Remember, the socialists never sleep, the establishment never sleeps. Unless we can take back the Republic we might as well sleep through it and line up for goodies.

THE REPUBLIC IS WHY REPUBLICANS EXIST.

This will not be an easy battle. No political battle is. But what is the alternative?

The alternative is an evergrowing government surrendering the sovereignty of the American people to the a world government under the United Nations. And it has been politicians who have given over the sovereignty that is not theirs to give.

The alternative is a copy of an East Bloc “Peoples Democracy” where your papers are being asked for.

The alternative is a national police force where the crimes are interpretations of vague concepts.

The alternative is an isolated Presidency, unfettered by the law and advised by commissars.

The alternative is an education system where the learning and literature of the past is thrown in the fire for the latest fad from UNESCO

The alternative is that the next generation (yet unborn) will have no knowledge of our history.

The alternative is a catastrophic failure of all the systems of government with no clue what to do other than beg from the Chinese.

Do we want these alternatives?  Or do we want to spread the word, work for the future. Socialists believe in the inevitablity of their cause, that the end of history is the dictatorship of the proletariat. Long ago they abandoned the withering of the state—Marx was a crackpot; it was Lenin and Stalin who determined the course of history.

Are we ready to say no to that dialectic? Are we ready to say “YES” to the struggle for Liberty. And if we say “yes” are we ready for the long struggle that answer entails. Some of us will not see the end of the struggle, but it will require us to begin.

So start talking to friends. Get hold of Heinlein’s book Take Back Your Government—read it and share it. Work on issues as they come up.

And pray that the whole system does not implode.

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Compleat Idler, Education, Free Society

Things to come

SEPTEMBER:

There are a couple of crucial events in the history of freedom.

12-13-14  1814  –  Battle of Baltimore

General Ross’s finest troops take on the “ill-prepared” Maryland Militia.

Vice Admiral Cochrane discovers that Congreve rockets make an excellent light show

23  1779  –  “I may sink, but I shall not strike.”

New vs refitted ships

DECEMBER:

Repel of Volstead Act

6 Dec 1933

Right in the middle of the month, having nothing to do with the Old Wolf’s birthday are a couple days to remember.

15  1791  –  George Mason prevails

Ten articles for liberty.

16  1773  –  Costume party at Griffins’s Wharf

Break out your Welsh flags

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