Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Why not a Do Over Amendment?


In 1986 I attended the Institute for Humane Studies' Summer Seminar on Liberty and Society. The lecturers included many heavyweights in the libertarian movement such as Walter Williams, Don Lavoie, Ralph Raico, Leonard Liggio, Walter Grinder, and George Smith. (Even Lavoie's three Austrian boys - Pete Beottke, Steve Horwitz, and Dave Prychitko - were there but I think mostly to get free food.) But arguably the most impressive of this distinguished group was a young law profesor named Randy Barnett (see picture of Professor Barnett at GMU in 1986 at left). Unfortunately, I didn't make an equally favorable impression on him. On the first day of the seminar he asked me at lunch what I thought of his Theory of Restitutive Justice. I had only quickly scanned his paper before the seminar so I responded, "Honestly, I didn't understand it." Which was true but a very weak response and he demanded I explain where he wasn't clear. But after his lectures on restitutive justice, I not only understood it, I thought Barnett would become a leading libertarian thinker. Fast forward 23 years . . .

Of course, he has become a heavyweight himself. He is the author of two very influential books on the Constitution. Last week he proposed calling for a constitutional convention to restore federalism. He suggested possible language for a federalism amendment. He has offered his idea as the direction for the Tea Partiers to coalesce around. He rightly pointed out that without an ultimate goal the movement would splinter or lose steam. His plan builds upon the States Sovereignty movement which the Tea Party movement was starting to get behind.
While I am generally supportive of Professor Barnett's proposal, I don't quite understand it. Since I am not a Constitutional legal scholar, my thinking may be too simplistic but why can't we have a Do Over Amendment which would simply say that all amendments ratified after the 10th amendment are null and void and Constitution is to be interpreted as originally intended? And before anyone brings up slavery . . . DON'T!. Even without the 13th Amendment, there would be no slavery today.
A Do Over Amendment would recognize that the Founders got it essentially right and that all changes since have made the Constitution less perfect, not more perfect. Sure there are some things I would like to keep or even add but that would reduce the sales pitch to the American voter. None of the other proposals, including Professor Barnett's, rely upon the purest appeal to return to the principles this country was founded upon. A Do Over says we are not wiser than James Madison, the Father of the Constitution, or George Mason, the Father of the Bill of Rights.


Sunday, April 19, 2009

Tea Partiers to GOP: You failed us, now go away

So the Dems and their lap dogs in the mainstream media tried to paint the Tea Parties as Republican organized events. But nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, many of the Tea Party participants hold George Bush and the Republicans even more responsible for where we are. Why? Because when Republicans had control of both chambers of Congress and the Presidency, they failed to deliver on their promise of reducing the size and scope of government; instead we got TARP and nation building. Bush's blunder in Iraq and his response to the bank crisis led to a complete rout in the November elections by the Democrats.

A common refrain from Democrats regarding the Tea Parties was, “Where were you when Bush was running up the national debt?” Good question. Many were on the sidelines. But now they are in the game and their anger is directed at both parties. However, those people who continued to support Bush while he ran up deficits, expanded the domestic spying capabilities, and spent US blood and treasure to fight an ill-advised war, you cannot lead us! You may join us, but your past actions make you suspect. Sean Hannity, you need to go away. Likewise, Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich, John McCain, Rudy Giuliana, Bob Corker, Lamar Alexander, Zack Wamp and every Republican who voted for TARP.

It is time for a principled third party to rise from the ashes; a party which respects the Constitution, private property, personal and economic liberty, individual and state sovereignty, national borders, and the principle of no foreign entanglements. It is time we stop acting as the policeman of the world and bring our troops home from every foreign country and deploy them on our borders. How ironic it is that conservatives who fear government overreach in domestic affairs are more than willing to allow government unlimited powers on foreign affairs. It is the same incompentent government, folks.

You want evidence of the people's anger at Republicans? Watch this video of a Tea Party in South Carolina.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Not Yours to Give: Senators vow to help tornado victims

According to this headline (the story doesn't actually quote the senators saying what the title suggests) in the Knoxville News Sentinel, Senators Corker and Alexander vow to help the recent tornado victims in middle Tennessee. I think that is wonderful. Two senators are going to personally help the victims.

Unless they mean they are going to get the taxpayers to help and they are simply trying to take credit for it. Maybe the headline should read, "Senators vow to go beyond their Constitutional authority and use taxpayer money to help tornado victims."

I suggest Senators Corker and Alexander read this story about another Tennessee lawmaker who learned a good lesson about the limits placed on the federal government by the Constitution.

What is the Tax Day Tea Party about?

My oldest daughter asked last night if the news would cover the Knoxville Tax Day Tea Party. I told here that I thought the local news would cover the event. She then asked, "What should I say if a news reporter were to ask me why I am protesting?" Good question. I suggested she might want to say something about not wanting to be saddled with a huge debt due to reckless government spending and borrowing. Later I showed her the below graph. The point can't be more clear than that.

HT: Heritage

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Polls say Americans are more ignorant than once thought

So why do Obama and the Dems think they can so easily and drastically move America to the left? It is because they can. And they know it. You see, the statists have been conditioning Americans to look to government for the answers instead of themselves for the last century. And with every expansion of government power a line was drawn from which they would never cede ground. And the line kept moving in a leftward direction. Sometimes the speed would slow but the direction was never reversed. Even when Republicans were in power, government continued to grow.

Which brings us to today.
According to a recent Rasmussen poll, when asked if they prefer socialism or capitalism, 47% of Americans expressed a preference for socialism or are undecided. 63% of adults under 30 either think socialism is preferable to capitalism or are undecided. I can only imagine what teenagers think. I realize the response to a poll depends on how a question is phrased. Maybe if the poll were put in cartoon form like below the results would have been more favorable to the system that is responsible for high living standards wherever it has been tried (until the government meddles that is).


Another recent Rasmussen poll was just as distrubing, if not more so. It found that 57% of Americans supported a military response to the North Korean launch of a test missile that fell harmlessly into the Pacific Ocean thousands of miles from the U.S. Have we learned nothing from Iraq or Vietnam or Beruit? We should only use our military to defend our borders, not to police the world. North Korea is not a threat to us; Let South Korea and Japan deal with their trouble making neighbor.

I am hopping that Rasmussen isn't particularly good at poll taking.


Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Video: Here's to you, Mr. Jefferson

A video from The Campaign for Liberty



"And here's to you, Mr. Jefferson
We all miss you more than you will know
God bless you please Mr. Madison
Heaven help these fools that legislate . . . rights away
(Our rights away)"