Friday, February 29, 2008

Theft of the Constitution

From a recovering attorney to a law professor:

Our recent exchange inspired or, at least, moved me to go back to, and read the Federalist Papers as well as the record of the debates about the Constitution and its adoption. Doing that is a great process and one that is inspiring and that we all would do well to repeat periodically, probably at least annually.

What we have forgotten is that the founders deliberately wrote the Constitution in plain language, intending it to be understood by ordinary citizens. And, in fact, it was for the better part of the century that followed its adoption. It not only was understood but it also was celebrated . . . and the celebrations were joyous as can be seen from numerous published accounts of Fourth of July speeches up to the Civil War period and even, for a time, in the years that followed that war.

So great was the respect for the Constitution that it took all that time for the legal profession to complicate it with tortuous interpretations that enabled lawyers and judges to stealthily steal it a bit at a time from the common people upon whom the founders had bestowed it. The process now is well nigh complete. One rarely hears anything about the Constitution from ordinary citizens. They have been hoodwinked into surrendering their birthright to it to the self ordained elite priesthood that the legal profession has become. And as a profession we have much for which to answer.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Long Long Ago in a (Pre Earmarks) Country Far Far Away

"The true test is, whether the object be of a local character, and local use . . . . If it be purely local, congress cannot constitutionally appropriate money for the object . . . ."

-- Joseph Story (Commentaries on the Constitution, 1833)

Reference: Story, Commentaries on the Constitution, 453.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

A Well Matched Pair of Hypocritical Poseurs: McCain and the Times Deserve Each Other

The Senator:

As a conservative with libertarian leanings or, perhaps, a libertarian with conservative leanings I in the past generally have supported – with volunteer campaign work, financial contributions (in amounts that from my standpoint were significant), advocacy, and votes – Republican candidates for the presidency, our Congress, and other public offices, federal, state, and local.

Notwithstanding (i) this history, (ii) the fact that I greatly admire, appreciate, and respect John McCain for his military service, and (iii) that I am not having what his supporters characterize as a ‘hissy fit,’ I will not vote for the senator’s election to the presidency.

My decision is based on three considerations, two of which are objective and the last of which is subjective.

With his ‘campaign finance reform’ legislation, the senator demonstrated ignorance about, or disregard for a fundamental human right. In addition he scoffs at criticism of this legislative travesty as coming from those unduly concerned about what he has referred to as “niceties” of the first amendment and the “so-called” right of freedom of speech. He has displayed a similar attitude toward the second amendment. Such hostility toward basic freedoms embodied in the first two of the ten Bill of Rights amendments to our Constitution appear to me to reflect an authoritarian attitude – a view that government is superior rather than subservient to the people and that government officials are entitled to rule rather than to serve the public. It certainly does not indicate an understanding and appreciation for the concept of our country’s founders that the basic and overriding function of government – its raison d’etre -- is to protect the individual freedoms of the nation’s citizens.

My second consideration is a political one. If Senator McCain can be elected to the presidency after years of displaying nothing but disdain and scorn for the Republican party’s conservative and libertarian wings, GOP officials, professionals, and candidates will conclude that they in the future can with impunity ignore those who comprise those portions of the party’s base.

Finally, Senator McCain, in my admittedly subjective opinion, lacks the temperament a president should have. He strikes me not as a man who has a temper (which I would consider to be a human and humanizing trait) but as one harboring deep resentments and a seething rage requiring ongoing anger management.

In conclusion it behooves me to note that having surpassed my supposedly allotted three score years and ten, I am past the point of being frightened by the specter of dangerous Democrat candidates into voting for the lesser of two evils Republican. Don’t go there. I’ve done that in the past. It hasn’t worked out and invariably has proven to be a mistake.

The Times:

New York Times Executive Editor Bill Keller spoke the truth last week when he said his newspaper’s exposette of John McCain spoke for itself . . . but the truth that he spoke was not what he intended.

The vacuous report lacked any verifiable fact and failed to identify a single source whose credibility could be scrutinized. Therefore it failed as a hit piece and didn’t say anything at all about Senator McCain. Instead, it (and especially Mr. Keller’s comments defending its publication) said a great deal about the sorry state of journalism at The New York Times.

Under Punk Sulzberger and Mr. Keller (Punk’s current resident satrap-in-chief) the once grand gray lady has been transformed into a pathetic flamboyant harlot. We have seen her as layers of her credibility, reputation, and virtue (acquired through generations of zealous stewardship by diligent and careful newspapermen of character and probity) were being shed, squandered as her current proprietors heedlessly sent her shambling and stumbling, making a spectacle of herself like a drunken tart, from one public embarrassment to another.

Alas, the grande dame now is too far gone to recover. Were she a racehorse, some kind soul would put her out of her misery, dispatching her as a merciful act of kindness.