'Cause I Said So…

The Unasked Question about the Arizona Immigration Law

Posted in Federalism, Government, Immigration, Politics by kevinsoberg on April 28, 2010

With all the wailing and rending of teeth about the newly passed Arizona law concerning “illegal aliens”, I decided to look into it. After careful research (meaning I’ve bothered to read the law’s actual text), I’m left wondering, “What’s the fuss about?”

The “new” Arizona law just enforces existing Federal immigration law. It makes it a misdemeanor to be in the State of Arizona if one has illegally entered, or is illegally in, the United States, with repeat offenders liable for felony charges. It mandates law enforcement officials in Arizona enforce Federal immigration laws and detain individuals “reasonably” suspected to be in violation of Federal immigration laws. It allows lawsuits against any public entity not enforcing Federal immigration laws. It requires employers to use the Federal government’s E-verify system when hiring.

Maybe I’m mistaken, but did I not just type “Federal” six times? So, all these people screaming “Nazi” are talking about our “draconian” (ha!) FEDERAL immigration laws, right? All those people going on about “states’ rights” this and “federal authority” that are just blowing a lot of hot air, right? Because… these are the very same laws that are currently being enforced in all 50 States and U.S. Territories by FEDERAL LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICIALS, right?

I only have one other question: Why the HELL is Arizona just now getting around to this, and why aren’t all the other states already doing this or following suit?

Just thought I’d ask…

A Word of Advice on “Everybody Draw Mohammed Day”

Posted in Free Speech, International, Morality, Religion by kevinsoberg on April 28, 2010

Just in case you have not heard, May 20, 2010 has been declared to be “Everybody Draw Mohammed Day”. Why is that? First, Comedy Central censored South Park episode #200 (Here’s the story: http://preview.tinyurl.com/3yjw4mf). Second, a cartoonist took offense to the incident (Here you go: http://preview.tinyurl.com/372qb96). There you have it … the new cause célèbre. Now that you’ve been informed, I’ll get to my point.

I’m not a big fan of religious iconography. Maybe it’s my Southern Baptist upbringing, but I’ve never seen the need for visual depictions of Jesus Christ. We Baptists generally don’t have them in our churches or in our homes. It may have something to do with the extensive Bible readings we do in our religious education and church services. We’re taught to see Jesus as our personal Savior. Since I can’t really know how he appeared in his physical incarnation, I’ve developed an image of Him in my own mind.

That being said, I’ve never really been offended by those who feel being avant-garde requires they attack others’ sensibilities, even when that means their being disrespectful to my Lord. I’ve always felt those individuals reveal their lack of maturity in their misdirected attacks on the beliefs of others. Their immaturity acts as a sure sign to all that their opinions are to be discounted. So, I can understand how Muslims may not appreciate some depictions of Mohammed.

However, this is America, and the freedoms of religion and speech are natural rights. People are free to be disrespectful to any and all religious groups, including mine. Furthermore, the so-called restrictions on illustrations of Mohammed are not Koranic, but have instead become commonly accepted but not universally so. You can find many early illustrations of Mohammed, though most have been destroyed or altered by adding a veil over his face. So, get over yourself. If you must be angry at someone for going against your religious beliefs, then give yourself a warm, fuzzy feeling thinking of them burning in Hell.

Now, to all of those who are going to draw Mohammed, I have one piece of advice: Be mature.

I know a lot of people’s immediate reaction is to go all out and be as offensive as possible. Is that what is called for in this situation? The threats against Stone and Parker were for the mere act of depicting Mohammed, not how they depicted him. The purpose of this event is show solidarity with Stone & Parker and to show those who threatened them that we will not be intimidated. The purpose is not to show how immature and disrespectful you can be.

Draw Mohammed if you wish, but do so respectfully. Don’t give the enemies of freedom any ammunition with which to attack us. Be mature.

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The “Bill of Rights” as a Top 10 List

Posted in History, The Constitution by kevinsoberg on April 13, 2010

Most people can name some of their Natural Rights enshrined in the Constitution by the First Congress in its first ten amendments, popularly known as the “Bill of Rights.” Usually, people can name, in some part, the First, Second, and Fifth Amendments. An additional number can tell you that we have the right to a speedy trial, the right to a warrant before our property is searched, and the right against “cruel and unusual punishment.” However, ask people about Amendments Nine and Ten, and all you’re likely to get is a blank stare.

I think I’ve finally figured out why this is the case. It’s the order and manner in which they are listed. Yeah, I know, it sounds silly, but that doesn’t make it implausible. Suspend disbelief for a moment and just consider it.

People are used to seeing a list of items and making value judgments of those items based solely on their placement on the list. Well, take a look at the Bill of Rights. Now, I don’t know the intentions of the First Congress as to the order in which these ten amendments are listed, given there were originally twelve amendments proposed. However, it is a list, and the two most important amendments, from a “rights” standpoint are placed at the end. The Ninth and Tenth Amendments may be given short-shift due to placement, and for no other reason.

If people view something a certain way, you can fight against their presumptions or you can adapt to them. So, here is my proposal for:

The Top Ten Constitutional Amendments in the “Bill of Rights”

10. Amendment Seven – Trial by Jury for Common Law Cases

9. Amendment Three – No Quartering of Soldiers

8. Amendment Eight – No Cruel and Unusual Punishment

7. Amendment Six – Speedy Criminal Trial and Confront Witnesses

6. Amendment Four – No Unreasonable Search and Seizure

5. Amendment Five – Due Process, No Double Jeopardy, and No Self-Witnessing

4. Amendment Two – Keep and Bear Arms

3. Amendment One – Freedom of Religion, Speech, Press and Peaceable Assembly

2. Amendment Ten – Powers Reserved to the States and the People

1. Amendment Nine – Unenumerated Rights Protected

Maybe this will draw attention to the “ignored” Amendments. Who knows?

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A Date Which “Should” Live in Infamy

Posted in Federalism, Government, History, Politicians, Politics, The Constitution by kevinsoberg on April 8, 2010

Today is the ninety-seventh anniversary of the passage of the 17th Amendment to the Constitution. Originally, Senators were chosen by their States’ legislatures, though some States delegated their election to the people. The 17th Amendment changed the Constitution to require the direct election by the people of the members to the U.S. Senate. It is three relatively short paragraphs which have drastically changed the country negatively. The effects of its passing are still being felt in many ways.

The direct election of Senators upset the most important Constitutional balance created by the Framers. When people think of the Constitutional Balance of Power, they automatically assume it to be between the branches of the federal government: executive, legislative and judicial. However, more important to the Framers was the balance between the Federal government and the many States’ governments. The States were the original governing entities, they preceded the Constitution, and by ratifying the Constitution they created the federal government.

According to the Framers, the Senate’s purpose in the legislative branch was to be the States’ House, a counter to the People’s House. The passage of the 17th Amendment changed the “States’ House” into the “People from the States’ House.” There is more than a rhetorical difference inherent in these designations. The Framers’ intentions included preserving the authority of the States’ governments. The Senate was created as the means to protect those States’ interests. Instead the Senate has become merely another legislative body representative of the people.

If the States were meant to become simply administrative agencies of the federal government, the Framers would have created a unicameral legislature. Why design two bodies directly accountable to the people, when one will do? The Framers were not believers in the excesses of democracy. The Senate was meant as a check on the mob, and a protector of the States and those liberties inherent in the States’ governments. However, the Senate, as originally intended, has ceased to exist and is superfluous to the current function of government. The post-17th Amendment Senate is comparable your second kidney: it’s nice to have and it’s functional, but it’s not absolutely necessary.

Does anyone believe the Senate, as originally constituted, would have allowed the massive transfer of political power from the States’ governments to the Federal government that we have seen in the last century? The States’ legislatures would have never elected Senators whose own interests were aligned more with the federal government’s than with theirs, nor would they have re-elected Senators who so willingly gave away State authority. That’s not to say pork-barrel politics wouldn’t exist, but unfunded mandates on the States, like those in Obama-Care, would have been politically unthinkable.

The folly of the 17th Amendment was easily foreseeable. The States’ governments should have known better than to ever allow this amendment’s passage. Once again, foolish politicians thought themselves smarter than the Framers and tinkered with the most beautiful political document in Man’s existence, without giving proper consideration to the consequences. We have been left to deal with the resulting Constitutional imbalances and losses of liberties ever since.

This day, April 8, the anniversary of the 17th Amendment, is yet another sad date in our history.

A Reply to David Frum’s “Waterloo”

Posted in Conservativism, GOP, Government, Health Care, Health Care Reform, Obama, Republicans by kevinsoberg on April 7, 2010

A couple of weeks ago, David Frum declared Obama’s “victory” in the passage of “health care” to be the GOP’s absolute defeat. In his blog post, Waterloo (http://www.frumforum.com/waterloo), Frum blames passage of the final form of the legislation on Conservatives in the Republican Party. Frum argues that “sensible” Republicans were kept from participating in the crafting of the law by the anger of the GOP’s right-wing, with marching orders from those in the Conservative media. Further, Frum predicts federal government control of the health care industry to be irrevocable because even if the GOP gains control of Congress, it will never have enough votes or wherewithal to repeal an entitlement program, once instituted.

At the time, I was more interested in the actual passing of the “health care” bill than in what David Frum had to say about it. Yeah, I had heard he had written something that had upset some people, but what else is new, right? Like most Americans, I was too busy being upset that a temporary majority in Congress had once again taken it upon themselves to violate our Constitution and done whatever the hell they wanted to do, all in the name of, of course, the “people.” Don’t you wish these guys would stop doing things in our name, especially when they can’t get at least a bare majority to agree with them? When most of us disagree with something, it’s not “for”, it’s “to.”

Two weeks later, I’ve completed a personal post-mortem on the whole unsavory affair which included reading Frum’s Waterloo. The points he made, stated at top, are clear, concise, and well thought out, but, unfortunately, wrong. Typical for Frum, he sees things slightly out of kilter for a self-professed “conservative.” His worldview is easily explained, if you just accept that he isn’t a Conservative, at least not in the American understanding of the word.

Essentially, Frum is a Tory, a “conservative” of the English tradition. He sees conservatism as a means of balancing the unchecked expansionism of the Left. He seems to consider himself a disciple of Edmund Burke, who believed change should come through innovation, not invention. “Modernity” must come slowly, but it must come. The Tory must properly manage the ship of state and steer it out of troubled waters. The job of the Tory is to prevent the revolution. Frum doesn’t seem to understand that American Conservatism is a somewhat different philosophy.

American Conservatism is a catchall I’m using for the entire right-of-center political movement. It includes the mushy free-enterprise types, religious conservatives, libertarians, et al. The common thread through all strands of American Conservatism is the Constitution. We are all really Constutionalists. We are “conservative” because we want to conserve this document and the system of government it was supposed to codify. Yes, there are aspects of the American movement amenable to Burke, but foreign to us is that sense of statism’s inevitability.

Frum’s main point is that the Republicans’ refusal to negotiate with Obama resulted in a slightly worse law. Once again, his Tory nature led him to believe that we should slow the unstoppable. The American Conservative, the Constitutionalist, cannot accept a deal which attempts to moderate the “intolerable.” There is no “somewhat intolerable.” If we can agree to the federal government mandating a person purchase a product against their wishes, we would, in effect, say that federal power has no limit. Where would we be then?

Frum would probably consider that unrealistic, given the extra-Constitutional power already exercised by the federal government. Using that logic, any laws not enforced properly by officials would be effectively nullified. Malfeasance by officials does not change the law. Regardless of how political power is properly, or improperly, used, the U.S. federal government is limited in its scope by our Constitution. All that is necessary for the correct redistribution of power is for the people and states to reclaim it.

Once again, Frum reveals his Tory heritage. He comes from a political tradition in which all power rests with the state. There are no federal principles. There exists no written British constitution. It is just a collection of laws and precedents. All that is necessary for the complete reorganization of its structures is a simple act of Parliament. All power resides in the Sovereign, and in Britain, where once the Monarch was Sovereign, the power is in Parliament. You must remember that the British are “subjects” not “citizens.”

Frum points to examples of “conservative” backed state government health care plans to argue that it was short-sighted of Republicans to refuse to negotiate. Let me take this in two quick bites. First, in our federal system, states hold power beyond that given to the federal government. I philosophically disagree with all socialism, but unless forbidden in a state’s constitution, it’s up its citizens to make that decision. The states are the hothouses of democracy, and they are becoming choked with the overgrowth of socialism. Second, who, besides he and his backers, really considers Mitt Romney a “conservative”? Mitt’s a nice guy with some conservative positions, but do we need another Bush?

Finally, Frum predicts that the new health care laws will not be repealed. He may be right in the short-term. I cannot foresee the Republicans gaining sufficient votes to overturn a presidential veto, but we shouldn’t be deterred. As we say in the South, “there’s more than one way to skin a cat.” A Republican majority in the House or Senate can starve the numerous, newly created administrative agencies of the funds to enforce the new law. Agencies without funds are like weeds without sunlight or water, unsightly but dead.

Not that I think the Republicans shouldn’t face these laws head on. At every opportunity and in a myriad of forms, the Republicans should seek the direct repeal of this “intolerable.” We should be smart and not do just the easy parts, like repealing the taxes and the mandates, the entire enabling apparatus must be removed. Repealing legislation should be entered into every taxation and appropriations bill which comes before the President in the remaining two years of his term. The President should spend his remaining time in office expending what remains of his political capital on trying to “save” his signature piece of legislation.

So, Mr. Frum, I’m sorry, but your arguments, though well made, are ultimately unconvincing. We will not sell out our history, traditions, and government just to prevent a near-term loss. We will fight for our Constitution until the end, if necessary. If we cannot win this ideological battle, then all is really lost anyway.