There may be something to the claim that all people want to be free. But it is a demonstrable fact that freedom has been under attack, usually successfully, for thousands of years.
So Thomas Sowell writes in a column titled Freedom Is Not Free. He argues that the thuggish Obama regime is implementing a totalitarian agenda. The evidence that individuals are being hounded by government agencies is enormous and mounting. He mentions a few examples.
The Federal Communications Commission’s recent plan to have a “study” of how editorial decisions are made in the media, placing FCC bureaucrats in editorial offices across the country, was one of the boldest assaults on freedom of the press. Fortunately, there was enough backlash to force the FCC to back off.
With all the sweeping powers available to government, displeasing FCC bureaucrats in editorial offices could have brought on armies of “safety” inspectors from OSHA [Occupational Safety and Health Administration], audits from the Internal Revenue Service and many other harassments from many other government agencies.
Such tactics have become especially common in this administration, which has the morals of thugs and the agenda of totalitarians. They may not be consciously aiming at creating a totalitarian state, but shameless use of government power to crush those who get in their way can produce totalitarian end results.
Too kind. We see clear evidence that Obama and his henchmen (and henchwomen) are consciously aiming at totalitarian power.
The prosecution of Dinesh D’Souza for contributing $20,000 to a political candidate, supposedly in violation of the many campaign finance laws, is a classic case of selective prosecution.
Thugs who stationed themselves outside a polling place in Philadelphia to intimidate white voters were given a pass, and others accused of campaign finance violations were charged with misdemeanors, but Dinesh D’Souza has been charged with felonies that carry penalties of years in federal prison.
All of this is over a campaign contribution that is chicken feed, compared to what can be raised inside of an hour at a political fundraising breakfast or lunch.
Could this singling out of D’Souza for prosecution have something to do with the fact that he made a documentary movie with devastating exposures of Barack Obama’s ideologies and policies? That movie, incidentally, is titled “2016: Obama’s America,” and every American should get a copy of it on a DVD. …
It doesn’t matter what rights you have under the Constitution of the United States, if the government can punish you for exercising those rights. And it doesn’t matter what limits the Constitution puts on government officials’ power, if they can exceed those limits without any adverse consequences.
In other words, the Constitution cannot protect you, if you don’t protect the Constitution with your votes against anyone who violates it. Those government officials who want more power are not going to stop unless they get stopped.
As long as millions of Americans vote on the basis of who gives them free stuff, look for their freedom – and all our freedom – to be eroded away, bit by bit. Our children and grandchildren may yet come to see the Constitution as just some quaint words from the past that people once took seriously. …
Arbitrary power is ugly and vicious, regardless of what pious rhetoric goes with it.
Freedom is not free.
You have to fight for it or lose it. But is our generation up to fighting for it?
So there may be no truth in the claim that all people want to be free.
Only a minority, it seems, will vote for freedom. Even fewer will fight for it.
What chance is there that such freedom as we still have will not be lost?
Clark M. Neily III and his colleagues at the libertarian Institute for Justice believe the United States would be more just if judges were less deferential to legislatures. In his book Terms of Engagement: How Our Courts Should Enforce the Constitution’s Promise of Limited Government, Neily writes that the United States is not “a fundamentally majoritarian nation in which the ability to impose one’s will on others through law is a sacred right that courts should take great pains not to impede.” America’s defining value is not majority rule but individual liberty.
Democracy may be better than all other systems of government, but it has a serious flaw. It allows a majority of the electorate to exert its will over the rest. A majority does not by virtue of sheer numbers know what’s best for the nation. A majority can be dangerously wrong – as when it elects a Hitler, an Allende, a Putin, a Mugabe, a Chavez, a Carter, an Obama.
Democracy needs to be restrained. Americans look to their courts to preserve them from the tyranny of the majority. Conservatives, whether in power or not, should be firmest in upholding the power of the judicial branch. Knowing this, many conservatives speak out against “judicial activism”, thinking that all activist judges are creatures of the Left. But judicial activism could be a protection against the Left.
Our introductory paragraph comes from an article by George Will, who further writes at the Washington Post where he is one of a very few voices of conservatism and reason:
Many judges … in practicing what conservatives have unwisely celebrated as “judicial restraint,” have subordinated liberty to majority rule. Today, a perverse conservative populism panders to two dubious notions — that majorities should enjoy a largely untrammeled right to make rules for everyone, and that most things legislatures do reflect the will of a majority.
Conservatives’ advocacy of judicial restraint serves liberalism by leaving government’s growth unrestrained.
This leaves people such as Sandy Meadows at the mercy of government acting as protector of the strong. Meadows was a Baton Rouge widow who had little education and no resources but was skillful at creating flower arrangements, which a grocery store hired her to do. Then Louisiana’s Horticulture Commission pounced. It threatened to close the store as punishment for hiring an unlicensed flower arranger. Meadows failed to get a license, which required a written test and the making of four flower arrangements in four hours, arrangements judged by licensed florists functioning as gatekeepers to their own profession, restricting the entry of competitors. Meadows, denied reentry into the profession from which the government had expelled her, died in poverty, but Louisianans were protected by their government from the menace of unlicensed flower arrangers.
What Louisiana does, and all states do in conferring favors through regulations that violate individuals’ rights, is obviously unjust and would be declared unconstitutional if courts would do their duty. Their duty is to protect individual liberty, including the right to earn a living, against special-interest legislation. Instead, since judicial abdication became normal during the New Deal, courts almost invariably defer to legislatures’ economic regulations, which frequently are rent-seeking by private factions.
Courts justify dereliction of judicial duty as genuflection at the altar of majority rule, as long as the court can discern, or even imagine, a “rational basis” for a regulation — even if the legislature never articulated it. …
Conservatives clamoring for judicial restraint, meaning deference to legislatures, are waving a banner unfurled a century ago by progressives eager to emancipate government, freeing it to pursue whatever collective endeavors it fancies, sacrificing individual rights to a spurious majoritarian ethic.
The beginning of wisdom is recognizing the implications of this fact: Government is almost never disinterested. Today’s administrative state is a congeries of interests, each of which has a metabolic urge to enlarge its dominion and that of the private-sector faction with which it collaborates. …
Judge Janice Rogers Brown of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit says of “rational basis” jurisprudence: “The judiciary justifies its reluctance to intervene by claiming incompetence — apparently, judges lack the acumen to recognize corruption, self-interest, or arbitrariness in the economic realm — or deferring to the majoritarian imperative,” which means “the absence of any check on the group interests that all too often control the democratic process.”
This process, Neily rightly insists, is not self-legitimizing, which is why judicial passivity is inconsistent with constitutional government. [And he] argues that to say that judicial invalidations of legislative acts should be rare is no more sensible than saying NFL referees should rarely penalize players for holding.
Conservatism’s task, politically hazardous but constitutionally essential, is to urge courts to throw as many flags as there are infractions.
If conservatives never forgive Chief Justice Roberts for validating the anti-American “Affordable Care Act”, they will be exercising better judgment than he did when he disregarded the essential fact that “America’s defining value is not majority rule but individual liberty”.
Undoing what America was founded to be – a free nation ruled by law and not men – the present administration is becoming more and more arbitrary, arrogant, and despotic.
This is from an Investor’s Business Daily editorial:
The FBI says it won’t prosecute anyone at the IRS for its admitted targeting of the president’s political foes. This just as the agency claims the law is no longer its main mission. So it’s a political goon squad now.
According to a leak to the Wall Street Journal, the Federal Bureau of Investigation “didn’t find the kind of political bias or ‘enemy hunting’ that would amount to a violation of criminal law.” And so, nobody was likely to be prosecuted for the most blatant politicization of a federal agency within memory.
All the Bureau found was a “mismanaged” agency that enforced rules “it didn’t understand.” In other words, nothing to see here, move along.
That’s strange stuff for an agency whose most implicated regulator, Lois Lerner, invoked her Fifth Amendment rights against self incrimination in congressional testimony last year. That she came to congressional attention was only because of her calculated announcement that the IRS had in fact targeted Tea Party groups for special scrutiny — that’s right, admitted to breaking the law — in a preemptive attempt to paint her abuse of power as a customer service problem.
Her minions lied that it was only the work of low-level bureaucratic bumblers in Cincinnati. And after that sleazy string of favors that coincidentally benefited her president, she was permitted to retire on a full pension.
The reality is, the acts reeked of political targeting, the most illegal of acts, a corrupt use of government power, and a worthy target of checks and balances provided by the FBI in the name of law and order.
But for some reason, the FBI has neither interviewed the Tea Party activists targeted for intrusive scrutiny, nor has it noticed anything amiss in light of the White House’s rabid attacks on Tea Party activists. It hasn’t noticed the Tea Party’s demonstrable political strength in its large gatherings during the most intense period of its political targeting, nor noted the president’s record of “joking” about investigating political opponents.
And it hasn’t picked up the clue from the Center for Responsive Politics showing that IRS employees donated to Obama’s campaign by more than 2 to 1 over Tea Party-tied Republicans — let alone that the prosecutor chosen by the president to look into this case is a fat-cat donor to Obama.
If New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie can be criticized for a traffic jam, then the White House’s attacks on political opponents are in a league with what goes on in Venezuela. That the FBI won’t get involved in this and is willing to wreck its reputation for apolitical probity suggests this investigation is leading to a place the bureau would rather not go — namely, the White House.
It’s interesting to note that Rep. Darrell Issa of California announced Tuesday that a top FBI official suddenly won’t cooperate with the House Oversight Committee after meeting with a top Justice Department political appointee. Issa says the FBI is stonewalling. The FBI … was once was known for its squeaky clean image and willingness to enforce the law without fear or favor. Today, it’s slid so far into the Washington morass it no longer considers law enforcement its prime mission. About a week ago, it quite questionably declared its top mission “national security” — an abrogation of its congressionally mandated mission.
Can the public now trust the FBI or the IRS? …
If the FBI won’t enforce the law anymore, who will?
Walter Williams is one of the rare thinkers whose opinion needs to be taken seriously. What he recommends cannot be dismissed, even if it is startlingly radical.
He writes that a crisis has developed in the United States for which the only good remedy would be a break-up of the union.
I believe our nation is at a point where there are enough irreconcilable differences between those Americans who want to control other Americans and those Americans who want to be left alone that separation is the only peaceable alternative. …
Our rights guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution have been grossly violated by a government instituted to protect them. These constitutional violations have increased independent of whether there’s been a Democrat-controlled Washington or a Republican-controlled Washington.
There is no evidence that Americans who are responsible for and support constitutional abrogation have any intention of mending their ways. …
Let’s look at the magnitude of the violations.
Article I, Section 8 of our Constitution lists the activities for which Congress is authorized to tax and spend. Nowhere on that list is there authority for Congress to tax and spend for: Medicare, Social Security, public education, farm subsidies, bank and business bailouts, food stamps and thousands of other activities that account for roughly two-thirds of the federal budget. Neither is there authority for congressional mandates to citizens about what type of health insurance they must purchase, how states and people may use their land, the speed at which they can drive, whether a library has wheelchair ramps, and the gallons of water used per toilet flush. The list of congressional violations of both the letter and spirit of the Constitution is virtually without end. Our derelict Supreme Court has given Congress sanction to do just about anything for which they can muster a majority vote.
James Madison, the acknowledged father of the Constitution, explained in Federalist Paper No. 45: “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. … The powers reserved to the several States will extend to all the objects which in the ordinary course of affairs, concern the lives and liberties, and properties of the people, and the internal order, improvement and prosperity of the State.”
Our founder’s constitutional vision of limited federal government has been consigned to the dustbin of history.
Americans have several options.
We can like sheep submit to those who have contempt for liberty and our Constitution.
We can resist, fight and risk bloodshed and death in an attempt to force America’s tyrants to respect our liberties and Constitution.
A superior alternative is to find a way to peaceably separate into states whose citizens respect liberty and the Constitution.
My personal preference is a restoration of the constitutional values of limited government that made us a great nation.
We take his point. We agree with his analysis of the problem. But his last sentence, it seems to us, begs the question. How are those values to be restored?
If by secession, which states should secede? He does not say.
And if some do, what will be the consequences, within those states and in the nation as a whole?
Last time there was a movement to “peaceably separate the states”, there was a fight over that very issue, with much bloodshed and some 750,000 deaths.
The crisis may well be as severe as he says. A radical remedy may be necessary. But is there a mood in the country for it?
Of course we cannot be sure, but we guess Americans are far more likely now to “submit like sheep” to the growing tyranny of the federal government than risk life (such as it will be), and property (such as will be allowed), for the sake of regaining liberty.
These are extracts from a Washington Times report of an interview it had in Moscow with Edward Snowden, the man who “betrayed” the secrets of the National Security Agency (NSA):
Snowden is an orderly thinker, with an engineer’s approach to problem-solving. He had come to believe that a dangerous machine of mass surveillance was growing unchecked. Closed-door oversight by Congress and the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court was a “graveyard of judgment” he said, manipulated by the agency it was supposed to keep in check. Classification rules erected walls to prevent public debate.
Toppling those walls would be a spectacular act of transgression against the norms that prevailed inside them. Someone would have to bypass security, extract the secrets, make undetected contact with journalists and provide them with enough proof to tell the stories.
The NSA’s business is “information dominance”, the use of other people’s secrets to shape events. … Snowden upended the agency on its own turf. …[and] succeeded beyond plausible ambition. The NSA, accustomed to watching without being watched, faces scrutiny it has not endured since the 1970s, or perhaps ever.
The cascading effects have made themselves felt in Congress, the courts, popular culture, Silicon Valley and world capitals.
The basic structure of the Internet itself is now in question, as Brazil and members of the European Union consider measures to keep their data away from U.S. territory and U.S. technology giants including Google, Microsoft and Yahoo take extraordinary steps to block the collection of data by their government.
For months, Obama administration officials attacked Snowden’s motives and said the work of the NSA was distorted by selective leaks and misinterpretations.
On Dec. 16, in a lawsuit that could not have gone forward without the disclosures made possible by Snowden, U.S. District Judge Richard J. Leon described the NSA’s capabilities as “almost Orwellian” and said its bulk collection of U.S. domestic telephone records was probably unconstitutional.
The next day, in the Roosevelt Room [at the White house], an unusual delegation of executives from old telephone companies and young Internet firms told President Obama that the NSA’s intrusion into their networks was a threat to the U.S. information economy. The following day, an advisory panel appointed by Obama recommended substantial new restrictions on the NSA, including an end to the domestic call-records program. …
In the intelligence and national security establishments, Snowden is widely viewed as a reckless saboteur, and journalists abetting him little less so. …
It is commonly said of Snowden that he broke an oath of secrecy, a turn of phrase that captures a sense of betrayal. NSA Director Keith B. Alexander and Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper Jr., among many others, have used that formula. …
Snowden noted matter-of-factly that Standard Form 312, the classified-information nondisclosure agreement, is a civil contract. He signed it, but he pledged his fealty elsewhere.
“The oath of allegiance is not an oath of secrecy,” he said. “That is an oath to the Constitution. That is the oath that I kept that Keith Alexander and James Clapper did not.” …
Beginning in October 2012, he said, he brought his misgivings to two superiors in the NSA’s Technology Directorate and two more in the NSA Threat Operations Center’s regional base in Hawaii. For each of them, and 15 other co-workers, Snowden said he opened a data query tool called BOUNDLESSINFORMANT, which used color-coded “heat maps” to depict the volume of data ingested by NSA taps.
His colleagues were often “astonished to learn we are collecting more in the United States on Americans than we are on Russians in Russia,” he said. Many of them were troubled, he said, and several said they did not want to know any more.
“I asked these people, ‘What do you think the public would do if this was on the front page?’ ” he said. He noted that critics have accused him of bypassing internal channels of dissent. “How is that not reporting it? How is that not raising it?” …
By last December, Snowden was contacting reporters, although he had not yet passed along any classified information. He continued to give his colleagues the “front-page test”, he said, until April. …
Just before releasing the documents this spring, Snowden made a final review of the risks. He had overcome what he described at the time as a “selfish fear” of the consequences for himself.
“I said to you the only fear [left] is apathy — that people won’t care, that they won’t want change.” …
The documents leaked by Snowden compelled attention because they revealed to Americans a history they did not know they had. …
With assistance from private communications firms, the NSA had learned to capture enormous flows of data at the speed of light from fiber-optic cables that carried Internet and telephone traffic over continents and under seas. According to one document in Snowden’s cache, the agency’s Special Source Operations group, which as early as 2006 was said to be ingesting “one Library of Congress every 14.4 seconds”, had an official seal that might have been parody: an eagle with all the world’s cables in its grasp.
Each year, NSA systems collected hundreds of millions of e-mail address books, hundreds of billions of cellphone location records and trillions of domestic call logs.
Most of that data, by definition and intent, belonged to ordinary people suspected of nothing. But vast new storage capacity and processing tools enabled the NSA to use the information to map human relationships on a planetary scale. Only this way, its leadership believed, could the NSA reach beyond its universe of known intelligence targets.
In the view of the NSA, signals intelligence, or electronic eavesdropping, was a matter of life and death, “without which America would cease to exist as we know it”, according to an internal presentation in the first week of October 2001, as the agency ramped up its response to the al-Qaeda attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.
With stakes such as those, there was no capability the NSA believed it should leave on the table. The agency followed orders from President George W. Bush to begin domestic collection without authority from Congress and the courts. When the NSA won those authorities later, some of them under secret interpretations of laws passed by Congress between 2007 and 2012, the Obama administration went further still. …
In the Moscow interview, Snowden said, “What the government wants is something they never had before,” adding: “They want total awareness. The question is, is that something we should be allowing?”
Snowden likened the NSA’s powers to those used by British authorities in Colonial America, when “general warrants” allowed for anyone to be searched. The FISA court, Snowden said, “is authorizing general warrants for the entire country’s metadata.”
“The last time that happened, we fought a war over it,” he said.
Technology, of course, has enabled a great deal of consumer surveillance by private companies, as well. The difference with the NSA’s possession of the data, Snowden said, is that government has the power to take away life or freedom.
At the NSA, he said, “there are people in the office who joke about, ‘We put warheads on foreheads.’ Twitter doesn’t put warheads on foreheads.”
Privacy, as Snowden sees it, is a universal right, applicable to American and foreign surveillance alike.
“I don’t care whether you’re the pope or Osama bin Laden,” he said. “As long as there’s an individualized, articulable, probable cause for targeting these people as legitimate foreign intelligence, that’s fine. I don’t think it’s imposing a ridiculous burden by asking for probable cause. …
When it comes to spying on allies, by Snowden’s lights, the news is not always about the target.
“It’s the deception of the government that’s revealed,” Snowden said, noting that the Obama administration offered false public assurances after the initial reports about NSA surveillance in Germany. “The U.S. government said: ‘We follow German laws in Germany. We never target German citizens.’ And then the story comes out and it’s: ‘What are you talking about? You’re spying on the chancellor.’ You just lied to the entire country, in front of Congress.” …
In hope of keeping focus on the NSA, Snowden has ignored attacks on himself.
“Let them say what they want,” he said. “It’s not about me.”
Former NSA and CIA director Michael V. Hayden predicted that Snowden will waste away in Moscow as an alcoholic, like other “defectors.” To this, Snowden shrugged. He does not drink at all. Never has.
But Snowden knows his presence here is easy ammunition for critics. He did not choose refuge in Moscow as a final destination. He said that once the U.S. government voided his passport as he tried to change planes en route to Latin America, he had no other choice. … “I have no relationship with the Russian government. I have not entered into any agreements with them.”
“If I defected at all,” Snowden said, “I defected from the government to the public.”
We don’t think it likely that the NSA will stop its surveillance of the whole earth and your and our emails. It’s a power beyond the wildest dreams of all governments ever to be able to know everything about everyone, and now that it has become possible, and is being used, it will never be given up. No court judgment will stop it. No act of Congress. Preventing terrorist attacks is the excuse. Power is the reason.
At least we know about it now. For that we have to thank Edward Snowden.
Seth Mandel writes at Commentary online:
The fact that the Supreme Court will hear a religious freedom-based challenge to the ObamaCare contraception mandate is the kind of story that possesses significance likely beyond any volume of coverage it will receive. Indeed, while liberal activists will repeatedly try to cast this in the mold of the fictional “war on women,” their own arguments reveal just how far-reaching a definitive ruling on this would be for American religious and political practice. …
Liberals have a curious definition of rights. Last night … the birth-control activist Sandra Fluke [said] on MSNBC …
There’s an attack on allowing employers to be required to provide this insurance coverage on insurance that employees pay for, at the same time that there’s an attack on public availability through clinics.
One more time: [Fluke reckons that] there’s an attack on allowing employers to be required to provide this insurance.
To the left, there is no freedom without government coercion. … That’s the argument the left is running with: they want you to be forced to provide the funding for even their most private activities; only then will you be truly free.
But Fluke isn’t the only one making this argument. … [In] an MSNBC roundtable on the issue … the panelists are panicked at the thought of affording Americans full religious liberty because, essentially, it’s then a slippery slope to protecting all constitutional rights. And then – mayhem, or something:
“This is another reason why we should have moved toward a single payer system of health coverage, because we’re just going to end up with one challenge after another – whether it’s in the courts or outside of the courts – and I just don’t see an end to this,” [Bob] Herbert submitted.“We’re already on the slippery slope of corporate personhood,” he continued. “Where does it end?”
“Where does it end” is the attention-getter in that comment, but I think Herbert’s plea for single-payer health insurance is just as telling. Put the government in charge of the country’s health care, Herbert argues, because then it will be much more difficult for Americans to “challenge” the government’s infringement on their freedom. It’s not just legal challenges either. Herbert says those challenges can be brought “in the courts or outside of the courts,” the latter perhaps an allusion to the shady world of participatory democracy.
So this is much more than a fight over birth control, or even health insurance. It’s about two fundamentally different views on American constitutional freedoms. Conservatives want those freedoms to be expansive and protected, as the Founders did. Liberals want those freedoms to be curtailed lest … the democratic process imperil the state’s coercive powers.
Thus far we agree with Seth Mandel. We are for individual freedom: the Left (whether it calls itself liberal or progressive or socialist) is not.
Free people can say what they like and do what they like (short of interfering with anyone’s else’s freedom), and that means they can believe anything they like, worship anything they like or nothing at all, make and follow any self-imposed rules they like. They only mustn’t impose their rules on anyone else, or if they’re in a group on anyone outside it.
If the government pays for everyone’s health care, it will claim the right to dictate how everyone must live in order to stay healthy. Paying for health care is the quickest way for a government to become a dictatorship. That is why government should not be the paymaster for health care.
But now the article changes from making good sense to arguing a spurious case for religion as a brake on government power:
The Founders saw religious freedom as elemental to personal liberty in America. But they were not alone in thinking that unimpeded religious worship was a guard against an overly ambitious or arrogant national government. As Michael Burleigh writes about the role of religion in post-French Revolution European politics, with a supporting quote from Edmund Burke:
The political function of religion was not simply to keep the lower orders quiescent, as has been tiresomely argued by generations of Marxists, but also to impress upon those who had power that they were here today and gone tomorrow, and responsible to those below and Him above: “All persons possessing any portion of power ought to be strongly and awfully impressed with an idea that they act in trust, and that they are to account for their conduct in that trust to the one great Master, Author, and Founder of society.”
Guarding against ambitious and arrogant government was not at all the point of allowing religious freedom in America. Allowing freedom and establishing participatory democracy set limits on government power, but the idea that the unleashing of all religions was done to ensure some sort of cumulative force for restraint is absurd.
Edmund Burke was an important philosopher of Conservatism. But that assertion of his does not stand up to examination. Were the popes and primates of the Catholic Church ever restrained in the way they exercised their nearly totalitarian power by remembering that they were “here today and gone tomorrow”? That they would have to “account for their conduct” to their Master, Author or whatever else they called their god? No, they were not. Nor did their actions ever suggest that they thought they “ought to be”. They carried on, and expected their successors to carry on, in the well-established tradition of compulsion by terror.
Mandel goes on:
Religion was not the “opiate of the people,” intended to keep them in line. It was, rather, to keep the government in line. This was not a revolutionary idea; it predated the American Constitution, certainly. As Francis Fukuyama writes in The Origins of Political Order: “The existence of a separate religious authority accustomed rulers to the idea that they were not the ultimate source of the law. The assertion of Frederic Maitland that no English king ever believed that he was above the law could not be said of any Chinese emperor, who recognized no law other than those he himself made.”
The medieval Church kept everyone in line, monarchs and people alike, as firmly as it could. It did exercise a brake on the powers of the secular rulers. (One famous example: King Henry II of England felt that he had to submit to the humiliating punishment imposed on him by Pope Alexander III for letting his knights murder Archbishop Thomas Becket in 1170.) But it is also true that the secular rulers exercised a brake on the power of the Church. There was a long sustained secular-papal power struggle (manifested notably, for instance, between the Pope-supporting Guelphs and the Emperor-supporting Ghibellines in Italy, a struggle that lasted from the 12th to the 15th centuries).
The Church or the belief in a Heavenly Judge had nothing whatever to do with English kings accepting that the law was above them. Magna Carta held them to it, and it was issued by King John in 1215 without any help from the Church.
Mandel seems to be trying to build a case – which he touches on by mentioning the Founders, but then wanders off it – that the liberty-enshrining Constitution of the United States was a product of the religiousness of those who framed it. The Constitution itself said no such thing. Individuals among the framers may have thought they were carrying out their God’s will when they wrote it – who can know? But what is certain is that they were inspired by the secular ideas of the Enlightenment – ideas which broke the power of the Churches forever. With all due respect to Edmund Burke – it was especially in post-French Revolution European and American politics that religion had no significant role.
If rulers are to be restrained by anything, it must be by the people they rule: by the democratic process that Mandel himself refers to.
“God” is superfluous to democracy, to justice, and to freedom. In his – ie the Church’s – long reign over Europe, there was no democracy, no justice, and no freedom. And wherever else religion dominates to this day, there is only oppression, injustice, subjugation and fear.
… and David Hume, and Baruch Spinoza, and the US Constitution …
(We specially mention Hume and Spinoza because they were philosophers of atheism. But all the thinkers of the Age of Reason should be prescribed reading in all schools everywhere.)
THEY – the Muslims – are investing billions in trying to convince us that their ideas are good – though they aren’t. But we are doing nothing at all to persuade them that our ideas are good – which they are.
Ed West puts forward a very good plan. We quote from his Spectator (UK) article:
The persecution of Christians, the greatest story never told in the Western media, is finally building momentum as a story, after a year which has seen villagers massacred in Syria, dozens of churches burned down in Egypt’s worst religious violence for centuries, and the Peshawar atrocity in which the suicide-bombing of a church killed more than 80 people.
Earlier this week several MPs discussed the issue in Parliament, Fiona Bruce saying that ‘We should be crying out with the same abhorrence and horror that we feel about the atrocities towards Jews on Kristallnacht.’ And Baroness Warsi …
… a token Muslim woman on display in the House of Lords …
… will say in a speech in Washington today that: ‘A mass exodus is taking place, on a Biblical scale. In some places, there is a real danger that Christianity will become extinct.’
Warsi made the same point on the [BBC's] Today programme this morning, and I applaud her, but an aspect rather missing from the coverage was the fact that the vast majority of serious anti-Christian violence is carried out in the name of Islam. It would be like discussing anti-Semitic pogroms of the medieval period without mentioning Christianity, its theology, history and practice.
No surprise there.
That is telling, since one of the reasons for the media’s voluntary blackout on this issue is our fear of appearing to be inciting hatred against Muslims. This allows the persecutors to get away with it, which is ironic since most violence carried out against Muslims is also done in the name of Islam.
The simple fact is that Islamic law as it is applied in Egypt (where apostasy is extremely difficult and dangerous, and family law was based on Sharia even before the revolution), Iraq and the Gulf States is incompatible with religious liberty. There is no way around that. In Iraq, most bizarrely, the US government presided over a constitution that introduced elements of Sharia.
Such are the vicissitudes of world management. When the British illegally gave three-quarters of the land in their Palestine mandate to the Emir of Transjordan, they found themselves in charge of a polity that allowed and practiced slavery. British law forbade this to happen, but it happened, and they didn’t do a thing about it while they had the power to do anything they chose. And now Britain deliberately allows sharia law to run parallel with British law inside the United Kingdom itself. That too should never have happened, but it has.
The issue therefore is not just that Christians are being punished because of anger at the West. It is the specific application of Islamic law, and most centrally [anger at the West's] ideas about freedom of religion [which include] freedom of un-religion and the freedom to deviate from the rulers’ particular interpretation. …
He mentions also the intolerance by each Muslim sect of all other Muslim sects, in particular “the horror inflicted on the unorthodox Ahmadiyya Muslims in Pakistan”.
Much of the intolerance in Pakistan stems from the influence of the Saudis, who are trying to reshape Islam in their image, and are helped by Westerners because of their vast reserves of money. Shamefully the British Museum put on an exhibition on Mecca funded by the Saudis, even while those iconoclasts were vandalising the city; I can’t think of anything so contrary to the spirit of that fine institution.
But they’re not the only ones – universities and organisations all over the West take Saudi money, and they should be publicly shamed … Likewise countries that do not allow freedom of religion should be made pariahs …
At the heart of the problem is that we’re too scared of even admitting that the problem is within Islam, perfectly illustrated by the BBC’s coverage of events.
Then he proposes his brilliant idea:
This is perverse, because our belief in equal rights before the law stems from the liberal tradition, yet while the Saudis spend millions promoting their beliefs abroad, we don’t. According to human-rights lawyer and advocate for Christian religious freedom Nina Shea, many of the classical liberal western works, such as John Locke, have no modern Arabic translations. Why isn’t one of the west’s many liberal billionaires paying for translations, to be made available free on Kindle?
“Many” have not been translated? How many have been? And who reads them? Are they in the university libraries of the Muslim countries? Are there objective lecturers in Western Thought? Why don’t some of the wealthy who endow subversive academies like Harvard, Yale, Princeton wake up and instead endow chairs, or whole faculties, or even entire universities in the Islamic world dedicated to the teaching of Western Philosophy, Politics, History, Ethics, Economics, Literature, Law, and Science? (Not Religion – there’s no sense in opposing one irrationality with another.) They should be taught not as they are seen through Marxist distorting lenses in most American universities, but the way John Locke himself, and Benjamin Franklin would do it.
Oh, of course. No Islamic country would allow it. Still, we should try every way we can think of to get our ideas into as many Muslim heads as we possibly can.
Ed West concludes:
Time may be running out, for one of the many tragic results of Christian persecution is that a vital bridge between the Middle East and Europe is being wrecked. Of the 60 scholars who translated the ancient Greek classics into Arabic during the [falsely so-called] Islamic Golden Age, according to scholar Dr Suha Rassam, 58 were Syriac Christians (and of the others, one was Jewish and the other a Sabian), since generally only Syriacs could speak both Arabic and Greek.
Not one of them was a Muslim.
Without these 60 men the Renaissance would never have happened, and the very ideas that gave us liberalism would never have emerged.
Classical liberalism that is – the belief in tolerance and individual freedom.
On June 7, 2008, we faced with horror the possibility that Barack Obama could become president of the United States with a post titled Obama can only fumble and fail:
We would say to him: ‘Come on, Barry, face the fact that you cannot lead this nation.’
Barack Obama makes flabbergastingly naive statements of intent. He seems to be stuck with adolescent ideals, a view of what is desirable and possible that few sane people over the age of 21 can normally continue to hold. He manifests no knowledge of history, or of political or economic theory. His ideas have the quality of sticky-sentiment greetings cards, but are delivered with the grandiloquence of extreme narcissism. His manner of dropping his voice at the end of every sentence gives everything he says a certainty; an inarguable ‘I say so, so that’s how it is’ finality; an apodictic quality. This manner, combined with the lift of his chin to one side like Mussolini, enchants gullible listeners: makes them think, ‘Ah yes, he is so sure, he must be right, he should lead us!’ Only when he has to answer a question he has not prepared himself for, do we hear him fumbling, stammering, losing the eloquence of the well-rehearsed demagogue.
To elect him to the presidency of the United States at this point in history would be a mistake so devastating that it’s hard to believe sensible voters could even contemplate doing so. Now, just as Europe has learnt too late that socialism does not work, he would bring socialism to America. For make no mistake about it, Obama is a socialist … Just for starters he wants a national health service – a wholly socialist notion – though every example of such a thing everywhere in the world is failing.
Has he brought socialism to America? Yes. Or very much more of it to add to President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s start.
Has he imposed a national health service on the nation? Yes. He has begun to do it with a health care act that taxes every citizen and resident of America just for existing, and is proving to be so unmanageable that the only way out of its mess is either to repeal it as Republicans want to do, or go to a full “one-payer system” – the one payer being of course the state – as Obama’s faithful Democrats want to do.
His foreign policy ideas are even more disastrous. He wants to disarm the US in a world of spreading nuclear know-how and capability along with hostile intention.
Is he doing so? Yes. He is defunding the US military and turning servicemen into social workers.
Is the country called ‘the last best hope’ of humanity about to follow the European example and become weak, demoralized, decadent, and slowly subjugated by aliens whose ideas derive from the seventh century?
Yes. In addition to following the European model of socialism, Obama has brought the Muslim Brotherhood into his administration.
What of his world leadership as US president? He has just proved himself incapable of exercising it. Worse, he has broken the Pax Americana on which the world relied – as Caroline Glick explicates:
What happened in Geneva last week was the most significant international event since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. The collapse of the Soviet Union signaled the rise of the United States as the sole global superpower. The developments in the six-party nuclear talks with Iran in Geneva last week signaled the end of American world leadership.
Global leadership is based on two things – power and credibility. The United States remains the most powerful actor in the world. But last week, American credibility was shattered.
Secretary of State John Kerry spent the first part of last week lying to Israeli and Gulf Arab leaders and threatening the Israeli people. He lied to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and the Saudis about the content of the deal US and European negotiators had achieved with the Iranians.
Kerry told them that in exchange for Iran temporarily freezing its nuclear weapons development program, the US and its allies would free up no more than $5 billion in Iranian funds seized and frozen in foreign banks.
Kerry threatened the Israeli people with terrorism and murder – and so invited both – if Israel fails to accept his demands for territorial surrender to PLO terrorists that reject Israel’s right to exist. …
It is hard to separate the rise in terrorist activity since Kerry’s remarks last week from his remarks.
What greater carte blanche for murder could the Palestinians have received than the legitimization of their crimes by the chief diplomat of Israel’s closest ally? Certainly, Kerry’s negotiating partner Catherine Ashton couldn’t have received a clearer signal to ratchet up her economic boycott of Jewish Israeli businesses than Kerry’s blackmail message …
Kerry’s threats were so obscene and unprecedented that Israeli officials broke with tradition and disagreed with him openly and directly, while he was still in the country. Normally supportive leftist commentators have begun reporting Kerry’s history of anti-Israel advocacy, including his 2009 letter of support for pro-Hamas activists organizing flotillas to Gaza in breach of international and American law.
As for Kerry’s lies to the US’s chief Middle Eastern allies, it was the British and the French who informed the Israelis and the Saudis that far from limiting sanctions relief to a few billion dollars in frozen funds, the draft agreement involved ending sanctions on Iran’s oil and gas sector, and on other industries.
In other words, the draft agreement exposed Washington’s willingness to effectively end economic sanctions against Iran in exchange for Iran’s agreement to cosmetic concessions that will not slow down its nuclear weapons program.
Both the US’s position, and the fact that Kerry lied about that position to the US’s chief allies, ended what was left of American credibility in the Middle East. That credibility was already tattered by US fecklessness in Syria and support for the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt.
True, in the end, Kerry was unable to close the deal he rushed off to Geneva to sign last Friday. [But] it wasn’t Iran that rejected the American surrender. And it wasn’t America that scuttled the proposal. It was France. Unable to hide behind American power and recognizing its national interest in preventing Iran from emerging as a nuclear armed power in the Middle East, France vetoed a deal that paved the way a nuclear Iran.
Kerry’s failure to reach the hoped-for deal represented a huge blow to America, and a double victory for Iran. The simple fact that Washington was willing to sign the deal – and lie about it to its closest allies – caused the US to lose its credibility in the Middle East. Even without the deal, the US paid the price of appeasing Iran and surrendering leadership of the free world [in this instance] to France and Israel. …
Thus, Iran ended Pax Americana in the Middle East, removing the greatest obstacle in its path to regional hegemony. And it did so without having to make the slightest concession to the Great Satan. …
It was fear of losing Pax Americana that made all previous US administrations balk at reaching an accord with Iran. …
The Obama administration just paid that unsustainably high price, and didn’t even get a different relationship with Iran.
Most analyses of what happened in Geneva last week have centered on what the failure of the talks means for the future of Obama’s foreign policy.
Certainly Obama, now universally reviled by America’s allies in the Middle East, will be diplomatically weakened. This diplomatic weakness may not make much difference to Obama’s foreign policy, because appeasement and retreat do not require diplomatic strength.
But the real story of what happened last week is far more significant than the future of Obama’s foreign policy. Last week it was America that lost credibility, not Obama. It was America that squandered the essential component of global leadership.
And that is the watershed event of this young century. …
Until Obama became president, the consensus view of the US foreign policy establishment and of both major parties was that the US had a permanent interest in being the hegemonic power in the Middle East. US hegemony ensured three permanent US national security interests: preventing enemy regimes and terror groups from acquiring the means to cause catastrophic harm; ensuring the smooth flow of petroleum products through the Persian Gulf and the Suez Canal; and demonstrating the credibility of American power by ensuring the security of US allies like Israel and Saudi Arabia. The third interest was an essential foundation of US deterrence of the Soviets during the Cold War, and of the Chinese over the past decade.
Obama departed from this foreign policy consensus in an irrevocable manner last week. In so doing, he destroyed US credibility. …
[Even] if a conservative internationalist in the mold of Harry Truman, John F. Kennedy or Ronald Reagan is elected in 2016, Obama’s legacy will make it impossible for him to rebuild the US alliance structure. US allies … will not be willing to make any longterm commitments based on US security guarantees.
Obama has taught the world that the same US that elected Truman and formed NATO, and elected George H.W. Bush and threw Saddam Hussein out of Kuwait, can elect a man who betrays US allies and US interests to advance a radical ideology predicated on a rejection of the morality of American power. Any US ally is now on notice that US promises – even if based on US interests – are not reliable. American commitments can expire the next time America elects a radical to the White House. …
America’s appalling betrayal of Jerusalem under Obama … is the straw that has broken the back of American strategic credibility from Taipei to Santiago. …
The twice-elected president of the United States has dispatched his secretary of state to threaten and deceive US allies while surrendering to US foes. It is now an indisputable fact that the US government may use its power to undermine its own interests and friends worldwide.
Could a president fail more catastrophically than Obama has? The list of his failures is too long for this space. Enough to say he has had no successes. America under his leadership is more in debt, its government is more corrupt, its position in the world is weaker, its Constitution is voided, its citizens are less free, its enemies are triumphant, its allies are enraged …
And yet … an awful question arises. What if all this represents not failure but success? What if the wrecking of the economy, the collectivization of the people, the weakening of America as the dominant world power, the voiding of the Constitution, the advancement of Islam, the existential crisis of Israel, are precisely what Obama set out to achieve?
Then he would have to be assessed as the most successful president since George Washington. The failure is colossal, but it is not his. It is America’s.
“Be you ever so high, the law is above you,” said the English judge Lord Denning (quoting Thomas Fuller, the 17th century historian). That has been the case in England since the Magna Carta was signed by King John in 1215. The idea crossed the Atlantic as an unquestionable and undoubtable principle, and was not doubted or questioned by the Founders of the United States.
But President Obama defies it – while paying lip-service to it.
This is from Phyllis Schlafly’s column at Townhall:
The Democrats are chanting that Republicans must fully fund Obamacare because it is the law of the land, passed by Congress, signed by the president and upheld by the Supreme Court. Therefore, they say, it must be obeyed and can’t be altered by Republicans who want to defund it.
That argument is both wrong and hypocritical. Any federal law can be changed, repealed, amended or defunded by our legislative branch of government, Congress.
The Republican House wants to deal with the controversial huge “continuing resolution” [CR] bill in separate pieces, giving the OK to worthwhile federal spending purposes while leaving others (like Obamacare) without funds. Obama refuses to negotiate and demands a “clean” (blank-check) bill; his position is all or nothing-at-all.
Actually, the Supreme Court decision did not give a “clean” upholding of Obamacare. The Court effectively rewrote the law by allowing states to opt out of Medicaid expansion, and other pieces of Obamacare are still being litigated in federal courts, such as the mandate that employer-required insurance must include objectionable abortifacient drugs.
Obama’s hypocrisy about the issue of considering Obamacare in pieces is obvious from the many times he has unilaterally messed with other matters that are clearly the law of the land. He has frequently refused to enforce other laws of the land he doesn’t like, and he pretends to legislate laws that Congress declined to pass.
Welfare reform is truly the law of the land; it was passed by Congress in 1996 and signed by President Clinton to “end welfare as we know it”. But in violation of the law’s explicit language, Obama unilaterally carved out (in effect, repealed) the “work” (or training for work) requirement for persons receiving Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF).
Obama’s use of waivers from various laws of the land is notorious. He has given waivers from the No Child Left Behind law of the land to more than half of the states.
Obama has even picked pieces out of Obamacare. He gave a one-year deferral of its insurance employer mandate to large employers, and he exempted Congress and government staff from the requirement on individuals to buy compulsory insurance or pay a significant penalty.
Obama’s Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, admits that a federal law of the land prohibits the federal government from interfering with or dictating public school curriculum. But Obama used carrot-and-stick tactics to bribe or threaten a majority of states to adopt Common Core, and Duncan pretends it is OK for the feds to require states to be aligned with federally approved Common Core standards and Common Core tests, which will effectively dictate school curriculum.
Obama has repeatedly taken away from other branches of government powers that are specifically granted in the U.S. Constitution.
The Constitution makes an undiluted grant of power to Congress “to regulate commerce with foreign nations.” Obama is trying to co-opt that power for himself by demanding that Congress pass “Fast Track,” an enormous unconstitutional shift that would give Obama the authority to write our trade treaties in secret and then let Congress vote on them under rules that limit Congress’s power to debate or amend them, all within in a short preset time period. …
The Constitution gives the House of Representatives the power of the purse in the Origination Clause in Article I. But Obamacare’s taxing and spending sections actually originated in the Senate, a maneuver not yet ruled on by the Supreme Court.
The Constitution starts with the powerful words, “All legislative powers” are vested in Congress, consisting of a Senate and House. Paying no attention to the Constitution, Obama has done his own legislating.
Congress declined to pass the Dream Act, but Obama is legislating it anyway through regulations. In defiance of the law of the land, Obama has allowed millions of aliens to stay and work illegally in the United States.
Congress declined to pass Cap and Trade, but Obama is legislating it anyway through regulations. His regulations are designed to bankrupt coal plants, skyrocket our electricity costs so we can’t “keep our homes on 72 degrees,” and spend our tax dollars to subsidize inefficient, costly solar and wind energy.
In April 2012, nine state Attorneys General issued a Memo listing 21 violations of law by the Obama administration, and now we have so many more examples. Obama is the one who doesn’t obey the law of the land.
The Leftist fascists now in charge of America declare individual liberty, the ideal on which and for which the USA was founded, dangerously “extremist”.
Their aim is to make Leftist ideology the norm.
This comes from Investor’s Business Daily:
Once more, military training has become an Orwellian re-education camp where a radical transformation of the truth depicts the Founding Fathers as extremists and conservative groups as “hate groups.”
Saying “Give me liberty or give me death” qualifies Patrick Henry as an extremist, according to the Defense Equal Opportunity Management Institute training guide … And so were the rest of those who took up arms against the British Crown and pledged their lives, their fortune and their sacred honor for a shot at liberty and democracy.
Under a section titled “Extremist Ideologies,” the document states, “In U.S. history, there are many examples of extremist ideologies and movements. The colonists who sought to free themselves from British rule and the Confederate states who sought to secede from the Northern states are just two examples.”
We would not lump the two together necessarily, but the Pentagon does. …
“Nowadays, instead of dressing in sheets or publicly espousing hate messages, many extremists will talk of individual liberties, states’ rights, and how to make the world a better place,” the Pentagon guide advises.
Which provides us with an opportunity to recall the fact that those who dressed up in sheets to terrify Blacks, those who lynched and murdered them, which is to say the members of the Ku Klux Klan, were Democrats.
This is from Free Republic, quoting David Bartonand his book Setting the Record Straight: American History in Black & White:
Republicans often led the efforts to pass federal anti-lynching laws and their platforms consistently called for a ban on lynching. Democrats successfully blocked those bills and their platforms never did condemn lynchings. …
Further, the first grand wizard of the KKK was honored at the 1868 Democratic National Convention, no Democrats voted for the 14th Amendment to grant citizenship to former slaves and, to this day, the party website ignores those decades of racism …
Although it is relatively unreported today, historical documents are unequivocal that the Klan was established by Democrats and that the Klan played a prominent role in the Democratic Party … A 13-volume set of congressional investigations from 1872 conclusively and irrefutably documents that fact.
The Klan terrorized black Americans through murders and public floggings; relief was granted only if individuals promised not to vote for Republican tickets, and violation of this oath was punishable by death … Since the Klan targeted Republicans in general, it did not limit its violence simply to black Republicans; white Republicans were also included.
The IBD article continues about those designated “extremists” by the Pentagon:
They might even form groups with “tea party,” “patriot” or “9-12″ in their name, like the groups targeted for political harassment and intimidation by the IRS.
“The Obama administration has a nasty habit of equating basic conservative values with terrorism,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “And now, in a document full of claptrap, its Defense Department suggests that the Founding Fathers, and many conservative Americans, would not be welcome in today’s military.
“And it is striking,” he added, “that some of the language in this new document echoes the IRS targeting language of conservative and tea party investigations.
Indeed, it also echoes the 2009 document issued by Janet Napolitano’s Department of Homeland Security, Rightwing Extremism: Current Economic and Political Climate Fueling Resurgence in Radicalization and Recruitment:
Rightwing extremism in the United States can be broadly divided into those groups, movements, and adherents that … are mainly anti-government, rejecting federal authority in favor of state or local authority, or rejecting government authority entirely. It may include groups and individuals that are dedicated to a single issue, such as opposition to abortion or immigration.
The guide makes no mention of Nidal Hasan, the Army major who worked his way up through the ranks amid politically correct indifference to kill 13 people, including a pregnant soldier, and shoot 32 others in a Nov. 5, 2009, rampage at the base in Killeen, Texas, while shouting “Allahu Akhbar!”
But then he was defending the Taliban, not seeking freedom from the British.
Somewhat less distressing – though wrong both factually and morally – is the information that the guide calls Catholics, Evangelicals, [religious] Jews, Mormons “extremists” – just like al-Qaeda.
So it labels al-Qaeda “extremist”, but not Muslims as such? The article doesn’t say, but we very much doubt that the guide has a word to say against Islam.
This is from PowerLine, by Paul Mirengoff:
The Chaplain Alliance has issued a press release alleging, based on a review of documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, that in training materials, the Department of Defense classified Catholics, Evangelicals, Jews, and Mormons as religious “extremists” similar to Al Qaeda. The Chaplain Alliance also claims that the military deemed the [far left] Southern Poverty Law Center’s “hate group” list a “reliable source” for this conclusion. …
There was never any reason to suppose that the left’s long march through our institutions would not encompass the U.S. military. And we’ve seen plenty of evidence of the success of this portion of the long march.
So now the mighty Pentagon is helping the Obama regime turn the USA into the land of the unfree, and the home of the politically correct.