Strong words rooted in history

But meaningless unless backed by equally strong action:

The morning after the Trump administration sued California over its immigration policies, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions Wednesday appeared in downtown Sacramento to say states cannot defy the federal government when it comes to immigration

“A refusal to apprehend and deport those, especially the criminal element, effectively rejects all immigration law and creates an open borders system,” Sessions declared. “Open borders is a radical, irrational idea that cannot be accepted.

“There is no nullification. There is no secession,” Sessions said. “Federal law is ‘the supreme law of the land.’ I would invite any doubters to Gettysburg, and to the graves of John C. Calhoun and Abraham Lincoln.”

The invocation of John C. Calhoun and nullification is particularly appropriate.  Calhoun’s South Carolina in 1832 claimed the power to “nullify” a hated Federal tariff by simply refusing to collect it within the State’s borders.  The president at the time, Andrew Jackson, was emphatic about Federal supremacy within its Constitutional sphere.  At his behest, Congress passed the Force Act, essentially giving Jackson the power to use military force if necessary to compel compliance and collection of duties.  It never reached that point, in no small part because of Henry Clay’s gifted statesmanship in Congress.  But the situation emphasized the power struggle over Federal versus State prerogatives nearly two decades before Southerners fired on Ft. Sumter.

One interesting aspect of the “Nullification Crisis” was that it pitted a sitting president (Jackson) against his own vice-president (Calhoun).  Two years prior to the crisis this conflict had been made apparent at the 1830 Jefferson Day dinner.  The president, aiming a barb at Calhoun and signaling his waning support for Southern arguments about States’ rights, toasted “Our Union; it must be preserved.”

Calhoun shot back: “The Union, next to our liberty most dear.  May we all remember that it can only be preserved by respecting the rights of the States, and distributing equally the benefits and burdens of the Union.”

What, you thought today’s political divisions were unprecedented?  Hardly.

Here’s the point of the history brief: the immigration confrontation flips the usual situation where “conservatives” advocate the 10th Amendment’s reservation of power to the States while “liberals” seek to use Federal supremacy in everything — the better to force change they likely could not through the electoral process.  As recently as the Obama administration Arizona attempted to strengthen border security, only to be sued by the Feds for stepping into an area of Federal supremacy.

Now the shoe’s on the other foot, with the parties in power reversed.  Arizona allegedly couldn’t strengthen its border security beyond the Federal level of enforcement, but California can loosen it?  While both sides are guilty of putting power over principle, it’s both more obvious and dangerous with the sudden liberal embrace of claiming exceptions to Federal power.  The same leftist groups who argued before Federal judges in 2016 that North Carolina couldn’t ban confused men from women’s restrooms is now arguing California can have its own foreign policy in the area of immigration.  Okay…

Here’s what California and Calhoun have in common (besides both being Democrats, but I digress…): both were/are Constitutionally wrong.  Some readers may be surprised to see me write that, because Constitutionally I am a strict constructionist who interprets (in keeping with the 10th Amendment) the document as a constraint on Federal power, and am generally sympathetic to defending States’ rights.  That said, if the document expressly gives the Feds a particular power, there’s no arguing it.  In the case of Calhoun’s fight against tariffs, Article 1, Section 8 (*) of the Constitution clearly grants Congress the power to levy taxes, duties, imposts and excises, provided they are uniform throughout all States.

The Constitution does not contain the word “immigration,” but in the same section cited above grants Congress the power to establish a uniform rule of naturalization.  This means States and cities have no authority to establish “sanctuaries” where illegal immigrants are given the same privileges as citizens.  Those local authorities who do so are in defiance of the Constitution, and have abrogated any oath they took to support and uphold it.  They should be held appropriately accountable for that.

Because the “sanctuary” concept has become so trendy in Leftist circles, the Trump administration now faces widespread defiance of Federal authority.  Trump is sometimes compared to Jackson (faulty personality and all).  One wonders whether he will rely solely on the courts, where your mileage varies considerably concerning Constitutional interpretation, or whether he will follow Jackson’s more direct approach.  Or, for that matter, President Lincoln’s:

WHEREAS the laws of the United States have been, for some time past, and now are opposed, and the execution thereof obstructed, in the States of South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Florida, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Texas, by combinations too powerful to be suppressed by the ordinary course of judicial proceedings, or by the powers vested in the marshals by law. (emphasis added)

Now, therefore, I, ABRAHAM LINCOLN, President of the United States, in virtue of the power in me vested by the Constitution and the laws, have thought fit to call forth, and hereby do call forth, the militia of the several States of the Union, to the aggregate number of seventy-five thousand, in order to suppress said combinations, and to cause the laws to be duly executed…

It’s a simple thing to substitute  California, Colorado, Illinois, New Mexico, Oregon and Vermont for the list of States in the first quoted paragraph above, and have the declaration apply to the issue of whether or not the United States can control its borders without local interference.

Given how divided we are as a nation, I have no doubt such a declaration would precede the same kind of national tragedy that Lincoln’s did.  It’s not the outcome I’d want, but reality has a way of disregarding our personal desires.   More than at any time since 1865, Americans need to rediscover how easy it is to read their own Constitution, and understand what policies are and are not acceptable under it.  That document used to be a unifying force in our national fabric.  Our current collective ignorance of it is a significant contributor to the political climate in which we find ourselves.

The tinder is very dry, and matches abound.  Pray for the best but prepare accordingly.

********************

(*) on a lighter note, I should point out I’ve long thought it funny that Article 1, Section 8 spells out the powers of Congress, while fans of the TV show M*A*S*H will recall the Army’s version of “section 8” refers to discharges due to mental unfitness.  Make of that what you will.

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“You may say I’m a Dreamer…”

“…but I’m not the only one.”

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I tuned in for the State of the Union speech last night and I’m glad I did, for several reasons.  First, watching the Democrats win the “Worst Performance by a Minority Party at a State of the Union Address” award was priceless.  You could see it on their faces: they expected at this point in history to be watching Her Hillariness make permanent the hard left agenda inflicted by Obama.  Instead, they’re watching the country back away from the cliff, for however long the reprieve lasts.

More pleasantly, Trump struck the right tones in his address, maintaining discipline in his comments and rarely seeming to wander from the script as he often does.  Sure, he’ll never be as polished a speaker as Ronald Reagan, but that doesn’t matter: he communicates effectively in his own way.  Reagan may have started the trend of inviting “showcase” guests to the SOTU address, but Trump took it to a whole new level last night.  He put faces to the issues of border security, economic reform, courageous service and American patriotism.  I’ve become as cynical as most when it comes to such stage shows, but it was hard not to feel something when the president introduced Ji Seong-Ho, who escaped the brutality of North Korea and now fights that regime as a broadcaster and aid to fellow defectors.  To all the Lefties who’ve preened they’re some kind of underground “#resistance” to Trump’s allegedly “fascist” administration, the president was saying “THIS is what real resistance to real tyranny looks like:”

31goldbergSOTU-master768

The line that most struck me, however, was this:

My duty, and the sacred duty of every elected official in this chamber, is to defend Americans — to protect their safety, their families, their communities, and their right to the American Dream.  Because Americans are dreamers too.

In one swift moment, Trump yanked the term “Dreamers” away from the open borders advocates, reminding them there are people already in this country whose dreams are threatened by unchecked immigration, both legal and illegal.  It highlighted the many ways in which the Democratic party has put the interests of foreigners above those of the people they are elected to serve.  It was a masterful rhetorical stroke.

I came away from the speech optimistic.  Not necessarily because I think the administration will achieve everything they’ve set out to do.  Not because I think Trump is the greatest thing since sliced bread.  But because this unlikely president is doing something that’s needed doing for a long time:

He’s teaching the Republicans how to fight.  In doing so, he’s giving the country its best — and perhaps final — shot for recovering from its leftward drift toward becoming California writ large.

Taxpayer-funded propaganda

Atlanta has installed “rainbow” crosswalks at one of its intersections… at a price of $196,000:

In 2015, the largely gay community at 10th and Piedmont raised money to paint the intersection, stretching across the heart of Midtown, as a sign of unity during Atlanta Pride Week.

This year, the city decided to make it permanent, announcing the decision on the one-year anniversary of the Pulse Nightclub massacre. City confirmed Monday the new crosswalks cost the city $196,000 to install and would last 10 years…

To be clear, the crosswalk is actually made up of thermoplastic tiles, not paint. And while they did cost $196,000 to install, that cost actually makes up 0.3 of 1 percent of the city’s transportation budget. Plus, they’re expected to last for 10 years before any heavy maintenance is required.

If others raised money for this artistic propaganda, why did the city have to spend money to ‘make it permanent?’  As the story points out, people expressed concern about the cost (73% against the cost, according to the station’s poll), but not over what the project symbolizes.  Guess all this propaganda is having the desired effect.  I doubt, however, the city will really get 10 years out of this.  Few aspects of any municipal roads last that long.  (Note how the last paragraph quoted above goes out of its way to minimize the cost of this kowtowing.)

This begs the question: if the city is willing to foot the expense of fancy-sounding marked-up “thermoplastic tiles” to make gays feel better and ‘more accepted,’ then why not other groups?  It would seem the equal protection clause of the Constitution could mean the city is now on the hook to create expensive crosswalks to commemorate, say, the Holocaust, the Armenian genocide, or any other aggrieved group.

Cities need to remain neutral, neither hindering nor promoting such groups.  But that won’t happen, because today virtue-signaling is more important than anything else… including fiscal responsibility.  Enjoy paying your taxes, Atlanta residents!

A very taxing system

Americans for Tax Reform have put out a nice infographic about how the U.S. income tax has morphed into a monstrosity since we let the Constitution be amended in 1913 to have one.  That such a tax was one of the ten planks of Marx’s Communist Manifesto should have given Americans more pause.

ATR HISTORY OF TAX FINAL

I’ve said it numerous times: to stop a fire you have to take away its fuel and starve it of oxygen.  The income tax paved the way for the Leviathan our government has become.  Starving it of revenue by getting rid of the income tax would begin the process of returning to a limited government.

Remember: the nation got along just fine for 137 years without the ability to reach directly into our wallets.

Where are the handcuffs and perp walks?

With as many “law enforcement” agencies as we have running around, why is it taking so long to reach justice in some matters where justice clearly needs to be served?

Exhibit A:  Her Hillariness just got a lot less funny, now that it’s been shown the private email server she ran (already in violation of Federal policy) was used to transmit data that held some of the highest possible classification markings in the Federal government (i.e. major, big-time felony actions).  It appears this latest revelation is finally drawing more close scrutiny.  The FBI took possession of the extra-government computer equipment (which should have happened a LONG time ago) — only to find it has been professionally wiped!  I support taking the time to investigate this thoroughly — but from what is already public, if somebody doesn’t go to jail then there has been a major miscarriage of justice somewhere.  Note: David Petraeus was (properly) prosecuted for providing unauthorized access to sensitive government information, and while I have admired his effective service overseas, even I thought his penalty was too light for such a callously irresponsible action.  The alleged level of classification on the unsecured info in the Clinton case is orders of magnitude more serious, though you wouldn’t be able to tell from way various parties are trying to downplay it

Exhibit B:  The Environmental ‘Protection’ Agency “accidentally” spilled 3 million gallons of wastewater, containing toxic metals and other contaminants, into the Animas River in Colorado.  Had this been some eeeeeeeeeevil private business or landowner, is there any doubt there’d be a public clamor for a perp walk?  But while the head of the EPA says his agency takes “full responsibility” for this event, and assures CNN the agency will investigate itself as thoroughly (*cough*) as it would a private entity (*cough*), does anyone really believe we’ll see a public firing, or that anyone involved will be jailed or fined harder than a slap on the hand?  And doesn’t that say something about the absolute lack of accountability in our government ruling apparatus these days?

Exhibit C:  Despite the release of multiple videos over the last month or so showing clearly that Planned Parenthood Profiteering is illegally selling chopped-up viable babies as a menu of parts for medical research, not a single person has yet been arrested.  Indeed, there are efforts to change the subject and insinuate that a “coordinated, years-long” effort by the Center for Medical Progress to penetrate and expose this hellish enterprise is somehow more concerning than the activities they’ve documented!  Not to be outdone, the Federal Government is also “warning” States that they have no choice but to keep funding these Grim Reapers, just because they occasionally hand out condoms from the same locations where babies are slaughtered.  (And no, I will not mince words on this issue, so don’t ask.)

Exhibit D:  It is Day 826 — over two years — since revelations of the political targeting of conservative groups by the IRS, and NONE of that leadership has been held accountable under the law.  As with Hillary’s emails, this issue has been dominated by deception and stonewalling by people who clearly see themselves as above the law and unaccountable to the hoi polloi.  I am still of the mind that Americans ought to unite in their determination not to pay any Federal taxes until at a minimum the IRS is disbanded, its leaders jailed, its buildings bulldozed, and the ground salted for good measure.  After that, we can talk with Uncle Sam about less intrusive, abusive, or expensive ways of funding his legitimate Constitutional activities (which, by the way, includes securing the *&^% border, but does not include Federal funding of abortions — see Item C above).

So to sum up:  It’s OK to harass a dentist for shooting a lion, but don’t dare to demand the defunding of the murder, slicing and dicing of hundreds of thousands of babies every year.  Nobody in the current presidential administration seems accountable for anything, and the leading Democratic contender to replace him openly defied regulations with her communications, which seem to have included gross compromise of some of our nation’s most closely guarded secrets.  Meanwhile, many Americans (including me) shake their head in amazement at The Donald’s seeming domination of the early GOP primary race.  But the fact that an enterprising clown seems like a welcome relief to business as usual just underscores how seriously lost our increasingly lawless society is.

“And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.”  Matthew 24: 12-14

State-sponsored religion

Somehow, I suspect the usual suspects who screech “separation of church and state” about the Christian faith affecting public policy will have no problem with the State using taxation to influence the content of sermons:

The news was as welcome to the group of Prince George’s County pastors as a plague of locusts: Maryland’s controversial “stormwater remediation fee” applied to all property owners, including houses of worship. Depending on the acreage, churches faced a tax of hundreds, even thousands of dollars.

The Rev. Nathaniel B. Thomas of Forestville New Redeemer Baptist Church and his colleagues figured there had to be a better way. “We challenged the fee,” Thomas said. “Once Uncle Sam finds a way to take your money, he doesn’t stop.”

After months of negotiation with county environmental director Adam Ortiz, the pastors emerged with a rebate deal that will significantly cut the fees if churches adopt programs and equipment that will curb runoff, lessen pollution and help bolster the environment.

Thomas and other pastors also have agreed to start “green” ministries to maintain the improvements at their churches, and to preach environmentally focused sermons to educate their congregations.

Most taxation today is as much about control as it is revenue.  It is one of the largest blunt instruments used for social engineering.  When the State can threaten you financially unless you do what it wants, YOU ARE NOT FREE!  In the private world, this would be called extortion.

Let me be clear: I believe we DO have a responsibility to be good stewards of God’s creation, that this is entirely compatible with a Biblical worldview, and worthy of discussion in a Biblically consistent manner if the pastor is led by the Spirit to do so.  I do NOT believe, however, the State should be able in any way to affect what is preached from a pulpit, so long as clergy are not advocating violence towards others (I’m looking at you, Islamists…).  Such attempts at State influence of religious matters is EXACTLY the thing the Founders were out to prevent by guaranteeing freedom of religion.

If this is permitted to continue, it won’t stop at creating “environmentally friendly sermons,” either.  The State often forces its nose into the tent via financial incentives.  Once there, it won’t be long before the Church has to change its tune on OTHER issues as well.  At that point it won’t be a question of taxes.  It’ll be whether or not the Church takes the proverbial 30 pieces of silver.