The Constitution, A Government Of Laws, Not Of Men

In a comment about a Supreme Court ruling on a Constitution issue, I saw the often repeated but wrong statement: In the US, the majority rules.

My response:

Constitution of the United States of AmericaNO, No and no!! We are NOT an unlimited democracy and never have been. The majority does NOT automatically rule. We are a Constitutionally limited Republic.

If the power to do a thing has not been given to the government by the Constitution, then it doesn’t matter how many people do or don’t want it. The government does not have that power. If the majority want the government to have a power that it doesn’t currently have, then Congress and the people can change the Constitution itself. Until and unless that happens, the Supreme Court has no rightful power to rule other than what the Constitution says as those who wrote it intended it to mean.

If words don’t have meanings or you can twist the meanings of those words at will, then we become a government of men and not of law and we might as well just tear up the Constitution. It has no real significance other than as an antiquity that we like to pull out every once in a while to smile at. We will no longer be the United States of America, but just the State of America. Unfortunately, there are some people who want just that.

If you want to learn more about what the words were understood to mean when it was written, there’s a couple of books worth getting: Notes of Debates in the Federal Convention of 1787 Reported by James Madison and the two book set The Debate on the Constitution : Federalist and Antifederalist Speeches, Articles, and Letters During the Struggle over Ratification: Part One, September 1787-February 1788 and Part Two: January to August 1788 by Bernard Bailyn.

Report This Post

Liberals Vs Religion

I just ran across one of the best calls for reaffirming the roots of liberalism with respect to religion that I’ve read in many a year. It talks both about things that really make me mad at a lot of liberals and yet find myself falling into on occasion. Tolerance includes tolerating intolerance and free speech means nothing if it’s not free for people you despise as much as for those you agree with.

Check it out …

http://theweek.com/article/index/269462/why-do-so-many-liberals-despise-christianity

Report This Post

Civil Forfeiture – Arresting Your Money (or House Or Car Or …)

Civil forfeiture, or civil asset forfeiture, is a legal action where your property is arrested and seized even if you aren’t. Get stopped on your way to buying a used car and having a couple of thousand dollars in cash on you? The cop can take the money, saying he thinks you’re really on your way to buy drugs and keep it, no proof needed.

It can cost thousands of dollars and years of work to get your property back if you even can. Most people wind up walking away. One airplane owner in Arizona had his plane confiscated because they said it was being used to transport drugs. He was never even arrested, much less convicted, of anything. Over $50,000 and years later he finally got his plane back … in the pieces they’d taken it apart into to search it.

Originally conceived as a way to cripple organized crime bosses so they couldn’t buy their way out of trouble when being prosecuted, it has morphed into the biggest crime ring of all, run by the police themselves. You see, they often get to keep that money or the proceeds from the sale of property to spend pretty much however they want. It’s off budget and un-accountable.

What brought all this to mind is a video I ran across on Cafe Hayek. Longish and hilarious, but well worth watching:

Report This Post

The Morning After The Night Before In Ferguson

A Grand Jury is created to decide if there are grounds for criminal charges to be pressed against a person, if they are criminally liable for what happened. It’s a more formal procedure than a common court based indictment, but it also goes into more depth and can last much longer.

As with any court proceedings, the question is solely about whether one specific person in one specific case acted with criminal intent or willful negligence. “Society” is not on trial, nor is any subgroup such as police officers or members of a given race.

Justice is blind. Justice for one is justice for the other. It’s not an emotional plea for “fairness.” Justice does not take into account any matters of race, creed, sex or any of a number of other irrelevant pieces of information.

A Grand Jury is to decide if the physical evidence and testimony of witnesses is sufficient to recommend going forward with an actual trial. Has a crime, according to the law, been committed?

The pertinent law in Missouri:

563.046. A law enforcement officer in effecting an arrest or in preventing an escape from custody is justified in using deadly force:

(2) When he reasonably believes that such use of deadly force is immediately necessary to effect the arrest and also reasonably believes that the person to be arrested

(a) Has committed or attempted to commit a felony; or

(b) Is attempting to escape by use of a deadly weapon; or

(c) May otherwise endanger life or inflict serious physical injury unless arrested without delay.

In other words, an  officer can use deadly force when it’s necessary to prevent bodily injury or death to himself or others.

I’m working my way through the evidence right now, so more later.

Report This Post

Things Worth Checking Out, 7-5-14

Hilarious column from Reason taking a very tongue-in-cheek approach to outlawing volunteerism.

And another on the ExIm (Export-Import Bank) authorization. It’s about as Crony Capitalistic an organization as you can get.
I’ve run across this video once before, but forgot to get the code for it. What is the scientific method as described by Dr. Richard Feynman, a Nobel prize (and many others) winning physicist? Then compare that definition to the Global Warming/Climate Change/Alarmist crowd. Hint: None of the theories and models have come close to accurately predicting the facts on the ground (or in the air or water).
It’s getting late, so this will have to do me for tonight.

Report This Post

Rights And The Declaration Of Independence

Sorry for not being here lately. Sometimes earning money to pay the bills has to take precedence. This is an expanded version of a comment I made on PBS at (http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/finding-empowerment-words-founding-fathers/). Fascinating discussion of how one little change in punctuation makes the Declaration of Independence even stronger.

As normally written:

Declaration of Independence“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.”

With the one little change:

Declaration of Independence“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness, that to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, that whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.”
Changing the period to a comma makes the preface “We hold these truths to be self evident” apply to all five following phrases. It’s not really clear on the original text and punctuation rules weren’t as strict then as now. Read it a few times.
On to my comment:

The setting for the word “equal” here is in a political document. Political equality is equality under the law and legislation (not always the same thing).

Natural rights are concepts arising from the nature of members of our species, regardless of race, sex, religion or any other division you care to make except one: That you are capable of understanding that the rights you claim are equal to the rights of every other person and that you refrain from actions that infringe on the equal rights of others.

Natural rights are completely and solely negatives on the actions of others. They do not require anyone else to take any actions, only that they refrain from infringing on your rights.

Procedural rights, such as voting or trial by jury aren’t strictly necessary by nature, but have been found to be good methods within our general societal structure for handling how those rights are defined in general and protected in specific cases.

Children, the insane or those disabled in any other way that prevents them from being capable of understanding the concept of rights are not regarded as fully equal under the law. There are actions that they may not be free to take and there are consequences they would normally face as a result of their actions that they may be shielded from.

Almost every other political use of the word “rights” is actually an infringement on the natural rights of some people for the benefit of other people. Jefferson and the other Founders seem to have been very aware of those differences and were careful where they used the word “rights.”

Liberty and freedom are liberty and freedom to act without government permission, or indeed without anyone’s permission, as long as those actions do not infringe on the equal rights of others. There are no guarantees of outcome, only the freedom to “pursue” what you consider to be what is needed for your happiness. There is no guarantee that other individuals will treat you justly, whatever you consider that justice to consist of. Only the government must be restrained because only the government is authorised to use force and only in response, aside from the immediate self defense right of individuals.

Those shackles on government have been rusting away for a long time and they’re getting pretty loose.

Report This Post

Things Worth Checking Out 6-22-14

Let’s take a look inside those unemployment numbers. We’re still a LONG way from a healthy job market. Our Decimated Labor Force at The Weekly Standard shows that it’s not “just the baby boomers retiring” that are drawing down the participation rate as is usually claimed when you point out the worrying numbers.

Peer to Peer isn’t just for files. Interesting Daily Beast article on the progress of Uber (one of the ride sharing via mobile companies) and what’s come up against it. As Europe Now Sees, Resisting Uber is Useless. At least the Euro cabbies didn’t try to pretend their protest was against anything but maintaining their government protected monopolies like the ones in San Francisco and Boston have done. I wish we had one set up here, but no luck yet. We’re just a bit too small.

Report This Post

BLM Has More Problems Than Just Cattle

Here’s the story. Wild horses run free on Federal land. Nobody owns them, they’re just another species on the land. But, being horses, they like to eat grasses and do other things that “hurt” the environment. Complaints that there weren’t enough taken were met with the explanation that BLM didn’t have enough money to do more.

Don Boudreaux at Cafe Hayek found a way around that little money problem. Give it a read and see if you like his suggestion.

Report This Post