Thomas Jefferson

Gov. Fallin Correct to Defy OK Supreme Court on Ten Commandments

Between the ignorance of the average American citizen regarding our nation’s rich religious history, and the open hostility by anti-religious Leftists across the country, it seems not a day passes anymore that doesn’t bring with it a story about religious freedoms of ordinary Americans being infringed by those determined to purge every last vestige of Christianity from American life.

A recent example of this came in the form of a ruling by the Oklahoma Supreme Court, which ruled that a Ten Commandments monument currently on the grounds of the state capitol violate the Article II, Section 5 of the state’s constitution, which prohibits the use of any government money or property to benefit religion.

After the ruling, Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin declared the state’s high court got it wrong, and refused to remove the monument. State Rep. Mike Ritze, whose family paid for the monument in question, points out that the Court, in demanding the removal, ignored its own prior rulings upholding the right to have a 50-foot cross on the state fairgrounds, and many Native American paintings, monuments, and other pieces of art with religious meanings and tones on display at the Capitol and other state properties.

BOOK REVIEW: The United States of Paranoia

 A Conspiracy Theory

Conspiracy theories are only believed by people on the fringe of American politics? Not so says Reason’s Jesse Walker in his latest book: The United States of Paranoia: A Conspiracy Theory. Walker argues quite the opposite in his opening chapter: “The Paranoid Style is American Politics”:

By the time this book is over, I should hope it will be clear that when I say virtually everyone is capable of paranoid thinking, I really do mean virtually everyone, including you, me, and the founding fathers. As the sixties scare about the radical Right demonstrates, it is even possible to be paranoid about paranoids. (p. 24)

For those who are hoping that this is another book in which the author’s goal is to prove or disprove any particular conspiracy theory, Walker makes is clear that this is not what this book is about (for the most part). He also makes a point to acknowledge that some conspiracies have been proven true (ex: Watergate among these, see Chapter 7 for more examples), “At the very moment you are reading this, someone somewhere is probably trying to bribe a politician. The world is filled with plots both petty and grand…” (p.21).  Instead telling the reader what to believe, Walker tells a history about what people have believed on this continent from colonial times to now and how these beliefs have shaped the political debate and very the culture itself.

The answer to government shutdown is less federal power, not more

In the wake of the now five-day long federal government partial shutdown, center-left pundits have wasted no time calling for drastic changes to the republic.

In the Washington Post, Dylan Matthews openly called for fascism:

Max Weber, in conversation with Gen. Erich Ludendorff, advanced my personal favorite theory of democracy: “In a democracy the people choose a leader in whom they trust. Then the chosen leader says, ‘Now shut up and obey me.’ ” People and party are then no longer free to interfere in his business.

Max Fisher, also in the Post, called for monarchy:

You might find yourself wishing that the United States could follow Australia’s example: Fire everyone in Congress, hold snap elections next month and restart from scratch. But we can’t, because we haven’t recognized the British monarchy or had a London-appointed governor -general in more than two centuries. Maybe, if we ask nicely, Britain will take us back?

The New Republic suggested the President dissolve Congress and then attack it:

Almost exactly 20 years ago, he dissolved parliament. The vice president and the speaker of the parliament dissolved Yeltsin’s presidency, and holed up with their supporters in the parliament’s headquarters, now known as “the White House.”

Then Yeltsin [sent in the tanks].

A Compact for America to Rein in Government

Written by Ilya Shapiro, a senior fellow in constitutional studies at the Cato Institute. Posted with permission from Cato @ Liberty.

In 1798, Thomas Jefferson wrote to a friend that the one thing missing from the newly minted Constitution was some kind of limit on federal debt:

I wish it were possible to obtain a single amendment to our Constitution. I would be willing to depend on that alone for the reduction of the administration of our government to the genuine principles of its Constitution; I mean an additional article, taking from the federal government the power of borrowing.

Now that Washington has kicked the can on our out-of-control spending yet again, isn’t it time to reconsider Jefferson’s wish?

It may be easier than previously thought, through an ingenious spin on the balanced budget amendment (BBA).  Compact for America, a Texas-based nonprofit advised by the Goldwater Institute’s Nick Dranias, is advancing an agreement among the states — called an “interstate compact” — to transform the constitutional amendment process into a “turn-key” operation.  That is, a single interstate compact can consolidate all the state action involved in the Article V process: the application to Congress for an amendment convention, delegate appointments and instructions, selection of the convention location and rules, and ultimate ratification.  It then consolidates all the corresponding congressional action, both the call for the convention and ratification referral, into a single omnibus concurrent resolution.

Understanding “the general welfare”

The general welfare clause is one of the most horribly understood and most misused pieces of the United States Constitution, second only to the Interstate Commerce Clause. With it, Congress has exercises many wealth redistribution schemes with the argument that it’s constitutional. However, when you look at the Founding Father’s intent, nothing could be further from the truth.

To start with, let’s look at this quote from Thomas Jefferson:

“Congress has not unlimited powers to provide for the general welfare, but only those specifically enumerated.”

James Madison agrees:

“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.”

It all looks pretty straight forward to me.

The phrase “general welfare” didn’t create a broad power that could be thrown around whenever someone wanted to justify taking from the rich and giving to the poor. No, it was guidance on how best to use the powers given to the Congress. They weren’t to work towards the benefits of a particular group, but for the benefit of Americans as a whole.

America: Land of Gullivers?

In 1776, Thomas Jefferson penned the Declaration of Independence, in which he engraved into our national consciousness the concept that “all men are created equal…endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights…among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness”. Those words provided an earth-shattering salvo which would blast a gaping hole in the world’s understanding of the nature of government. No longer would men be servants, mere subjects bound to obedience by the Divine Right of Kings. Men would now be free; sovereign individuals free to live as they so chose, answerable only to God for the conduct of their life provided they did not infringe upon the rights of others.

After years of abuse at the hands of King George, under whom they were taxed without representation in Parliament, forced to quarter the very soldiers who would punish disobedience to the Crown, unable to pass laws of self-governance and in general being treated as slaves rather than fellow citizens with rights, the American colonists declared that they would no longer be subject to such abuse, but would form a new government in which every man was bestowed the same rights and no man was favored above another in the eyes of the law.

For nearly a decade war was waged upon the American continent. Mangled, broken and torn bodies littered the battlefields along the eastern seaboard. Families were separated; husbands and brothers lost…all because the people of this nation decided to rise up against tyranny and oppression. When the sounds of cannon and musket-fire were silenced, when the smoke cleared and the soldiers returned home, a new era had begun.

Your Daily Jefferson: Happy Independence Day

This is the end of United Liberty’s “Your Daily Jefferson” series. We started on Thomas Jefferson’s birthday and went to today, July 4th, which is also the day he died. Thanks for reading.

When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

Separation Of Church And State: Essential To Religious Liberty

My fellow UL contributor Louis DeBroux makes an argument about the separation of church and state that is fairly common on the right, but it’s one that constitutes both a misstatement of history and a misunderstanding of what religious liberty is all about.

First, on the historical side, Louis makes this contention:

A study of American history shows that the Founding Fathers were heavily influenced by religion. Jefferson, often accused of being an agnostic or atheist, was likely a Deist; but regardless, he was a believer in God and in Jesus Christ. After all, this is the man who penned the Declaration of Independence, who so eloquently opined the concept that all men are “endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights”. If that were too ambiguous, Jefferson also wrote “And can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are of the gift of God? That they are not to be violated but with His wrath? Indeed I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just; that His justice cannot sleep forever.”

Jefferson understood that our liberties come from God, and that if they do not come from God then they are granted by government, and can be taken by government at their pleasure. That philosophy then usurps man of his unalienable rights, and government then grants rights at the whim of the majority, which is nothing more than mob rule.

Our second president, John Adams, rightly noted that “We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion. Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”

On Every Question of Construction

A couple of items in the news lately have brought the judiciary back into the consciousness of the American public; the announced retirement of Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens, and the recent decision by federal judge Barbara Crabb in Wisconsin in which she ruled that the National Day of Prayer is a violation of the Establishment Clause of the U.S. Constitution. In the rulings of both justices we find an egregious disrespect for the plain meaning of the Constitution, and it is a failure of the American people to learn the Constitution that has allowed us to stray so far.

As a nation, we have reached a point where we bestow upon the courts an unjustified level of deference to their perceived wisdom. In fact, the Founding Fathers created the judiciary to be the weakest of the three branches, vested as they are with lifetime appointments.

Thomas Jefferson wrote (in a letter to William C. Jarvis, 1820) that “To consider the judges as the ultimate arbiters of all constitutional questions [is] 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.” Yet today we have allowed the courts to be elevated to the level of an oligarchy, where we accept rulings that are clearly unaligned with the Constitution without so much as a whimper.

Tenth Amendment Center Announces State Level Action Legislation Model To Combat ObamaCare

Nearly everyone in opposition to ObamaCare worked very hard to stop it before it made its way through both houses of Congress and to the President’s desk to be signed into law.  Once President Obama signed the legislation into law, all of these wound up activists found themselves without an issue to focus on after a year of “debate” over healthcare reform.  Some state officials took it upon themselves to file lawsuits over the newly signed law, while others sought to protect their constituents from the aspects they found to be Unconstitutional.  Today, the Tenth Amendment Center provided another state-level action.  From the press release:

“Now that Health Care reform has been signed into law, the question people ask most is “What do we do about it?” said Michael Boldin, founder of the Tenth Amendment Center. “The status quo response includes lobbying congress, marching on D.C. “voting the bums out,” suing in federal court, and more. But the last 100 years have proven that none of these really work, and government continues to grow year in and year out.”

“We recommend a different path, one advised by prominent founders such as Thomas Jefferson and James Madison - nullification,” said Boldin. Nullification, according to the Center, is the rightful remedy to an unconstitutional act, as it considers the recently-signed Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act to be. When a state nullifies a federal law, it is proclaiming that the law in question is void and inoperative, or non-effective, within the boundaries of that state; or, in other words, not a law as far as the state is concerned.

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