The last peaceful option?

The current polarization in this country is unique in our history.  There is little (if any) common ground between viewpoints, and both “left” and “right” (increasingly nebulous terms) see the other as completely illegitimate and a threat.  Thus the “culture wars” of the 1980s/1990s have become much, much more, and are being played for complete national dominance.  Twitter, like Facebook, Google/YouTube, etc, is clearly putting its technological thumb on the scale of public debate, finding various ways to mute nationalist/conservative voices.  So it was no surprise to see Jack Dorsey, Twitter’s CEO, recommend this article extolling the perceived virtue of California’s one-party rule.

The next time you call for bipartisan cooperation in America and long for Republicans and Democrats to work side by side, stop it. Remember the great lesson of California, the harbinger of America’s political future, and realize that today such bipartisan cooperation simply can’t get done.

And as voices including that of a former Supreme Court justice clamor to rescind the 2nd Amendment, those who value freedom are having to consider their options:

South Carolina Republicans have introduced a bill that would give the state capital the power to secede from the United States if the federal government violates the Second Amendment and begins seizing legally purchased guns.

With passions running high on both sides, firearms are just one of many different triggers (pardon the pun) that could turn our current cold civil war into a hot one.  The continuing politicized effort to overturn the 2016 presidential election through a farcical investigation could spark partisan violence at any time.  One side is convinced beyond persuasion that Trump is an illegitimate president, while the other is equally convinced our government has become corrupted to partisan purposes.  Those of us who hope the election of Trump might harbinger a restoration of sorts still have to be concerned that roughly half our fellow citizens would overturn any progress in the very next election if they can.  That’s why it might be better for all concerned if we found a peaceful way to divide the country so that each group can live as they choose (and reap the consequences and benefits thereof):

It is long past time for an amicable divorce of the United States of America. There is simply no common ground with the Left anymore. We are now the couple screaming at each other all night, every night as the kids hide in their room…  ((an apt metaphor… Jemison))

The history of the world is nations breaking up and redrawing their borders. If we want to avoid this political divide turning into a deadly one, we should do likewise.
Stop clinging to the past and acknowledge where we are as a country, not where you want us to be, not where things were when your grandpa was storming the beaches of Normandy. Where we truly are

The GOP has many problems, but the Democratic Party has turned into something completely un-American. The United States was founded on two things: Judeo-Christian values and a limited federal government. The entire platform of modern Democrats stands completely opposite both of those…

This idea of breaking up the country may seem a bit outlandish now, but you won’t think so once real domestic unrest comes to your town. Our political disagreements have become a powder keg, one that already would have blown if conservatives had liberals’ emotional instability.

Nobody is expected to cheer for this split. Cheering is not a normal reaction when couples get a divorce. We cheer for old married people on their fiftieth wedding anniversary.

But life is imperfect. Life is hard. We both now agree that living under the other side’s value system is wholly unacceptable. The most peaceful solution we Americans can hope for now is to go our separate ways. So let us come together one last time and agree on one thing: Irreconcilable differences.

I spent 24 years wearing a uniform on behalf of this nation.  No one would be sadder than me to see it disbanded into successor states.  The diminution of the United States would be a global disaster.  But it is still preferable to the carnage that will result if we have two incompatible worldviews continue to vie for dominance over a divided population.  A substantial portion of our people now neither understands nor desires true freedom.  As Sam Adams said, may history forget they were our countrymen.

It is far better that part of our nation remains free to continue the vision of limited, Constitutional governance in accordance with Christian principles than to see the whole of it subsumed by both alien populations and alien ideas.   

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A spineless Congress

It’s no wonder Americans have such a low regard for Congress, when government officials are allowed to thumb their noses at it with impunity.  In recent memory the worst sanction the legislature has given to a recalcitrant official has been to hold Eric Holder in “contempt of Congress” — the first sitting Attorney General ever to be so designated.  That only has effect if the target has any sense of shame, which few in D.C. Mordor do anymore.  Official designation or not, it’s clear much of official Washington shares that contempt.

But it doesn’t have to be this way.

It’s no coincidence that defiance from Holder, Lerner, Rosenstein and Wray parallels the public’s near-record low approval of Congress, which, according to the RealClearPolitics average, hit a meager 14.2 percent earlier this week.

But Congress has only itself to blame because the Constitution gives the first branch it created “all of the ultimate weapons in any showdown with either of the other two branches,” in the memorable phrasing of professors Willmoore Kendall and George Carey in their classic “The Basic Symbols of the American Political Tradition.”

Here are five of those “ultimate weapons,” whose deployment ultimately depends on the will of Speaker of the House Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to defend the right of Congress to be the people’s representatives…

Put somebody in jail.

Impose a big fine.

Invoke the power of the purse

Cut the workforce.

More political appointees.

It’s worth reading the description of these five options at the link.  Despite the frequency of choreographed televised hearings, Congress has largely abdicated its oversight role with regard to the Federal bureaucracy.  This was apparent at least by the time of the “Fast and Furious” gunwalking scandal and the IRS investigations, during which the agencies slow-rolled Congress’ requests for information with impunity.  True oversight involves exercising the power to compel compliance.  The Founders intended the legislature to be “first among equals” within the branches of government.  They, not unelected paper-pushers, represent the people.

The president has less power than people imagine over employees in the Executive Branch.  While he can fire political appointees, career bureaucrats have created a byzantine disciplinary process that, in effect, prevents nearly anyone from losing their job.  I encountered this while supervising relatively low-level “civil servants” — I can only imagine how much more difficult things are in the executive suites.

With a majority in Congress, however, it should be a simple thing to put entire departments like the FBI on notice: comply with legislative directives and requests, or perish as an agency.  Congress can defund any activity of the government with a simple vote.  Unfortunately, Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell have shown zero interest in actually asserting Congress’ prerogatives.  They are as much a part of the swamp as the agencies running amok, as the recent omnibus bill debacle shows.  That should be a key issue during these midterms — voters need to seek candidates who will support Trump’s “swamp draining,” and that includes pledging to vote in new Congressional leadership.

But for any of this to happen, We the People will need to be more focused than ever this election cycle.  The election of Trump will accomplish little if voters allow the legislature to defend the status quo by resolute inaction.

Open insurrection

There is a strong argument to be made the Trump Administration could declare both California and Illinois to be in a state of insurrection and respond with the authority such a condition conveys:

Mark the date April 1, 2018, April Fool’s Day, as the day Civil War 2.0 began. On that day, the State of California began to automatically register illegal aliens who have driver licenses to vote. This new law immunizes illegals against any state criminal penalty for registering and voting.

And in Chicago:

Municipal ID cards that Mayor Rahm Emanuel is launching for undocumented immigrants and others will be a valid form of identification for people both registering to vote and voting in Chicago, according to a letter aldermen received…

Article 4, Section 4 of the Constitution requires the Federal government to “guarantee to every state in this union a republican form of government, and shall protect each of them against invasion…”  The facilitation by Gov. Jerry Brown of California and Chicago’s Mayor Rahm Emanuel of illegal immigrants settling and voting in the United States undermines our republican form of government and constitutes an invasion (even if unarmed).  U.S. citizens in California and Chicago have seen and continue to see their voices diluted by interlopers on U.S. soil – and they are not alone in suffering that loss.

It’s abundantly clear we have State and local leaders engaging in a slow-motion insurrection by demographics, by which they mean to fundamentally transform the United States.  They aren’t even pretending to hide it anymore, either.  As I write this, more than 1,200 additional invaders continue to move north through Mexico, bringing yet another very public challenge to U.S. sovereignty and authority.  No doubt the Democrats and media (but I repeat myself…) will do all they can to facilitate these people’s entry into the country.  After all, Democrats can’t even be bothered to do background checks of their own information technologists!

THIS. MUST. STOP.

The President is not able, on his own, to fully address these issues, and the GOPe has shown little interest in aiding him in Congress.  The American people — the legally valid American people — must demand the following of their Congresscritters:

  • As recommended in the first link in this post, refuse to seat any Senator or Congressman elected from California and Illinois until the programs above are terminated and the voting rolls confirmed by the Department of Justice to be purged of illegal aliens.
  • Authorize suspension or repeal of the Posse Comitatus Act in a manner that allows U.S. military forces to patrol the nation’s borders and detain/process individuals attempting to cross it illegally.  While it is understandable the Act is intended to prevent abuse of martial law, it unnecessarily prevents the military from performing its fundamental purpose: the defense of the United States.  Using the military for this primary purpose would free up manpower/resources of Homeland Security (Immigration/Customs Enforcement and Border Patrol) to seek out, detain and deport more illegal aliens already within the United States.
  • Explicitly declare via Congressional resolution that all “sanctuary State/city” policies as null and void usurpations of Federal authority under the Constitution, and direct the Department of Justice to begin arrests and legal proceedings against any State/local official found to be willfully aiding illegal immigrants in avoiding detection and deportation.
  • Institute serious penalties for repeatedly entering the U.S. without authorization.  It is ridiculous that so many illegal immigrants are arrested for serious crimes after multiple reentries into the U.S.  As I’ve suggested before, all illegal immigrants should have complete biometric profiles entered into federal records before deportation.  Upon a second offense, a distinctive tattoo should be placed on their hand or forearm.  And upon a third offense, they should be subject to the death penalty as invaders.  Yes, these are harsh and unyielding standards.  Kicking the can this far down the road leaves little room for half-measures, however.

To paraphrase Abraham Lincoln (who himself was paraphrasing scripture), this nation cannot much longer endure half Constitutionalist and half defiant fifth column.  Liberals are counting on the power they’ve already achieved through decades of demographic manipulation and undermining of immigration law.  But there are still enough concerned traditional Americans (of all ethnicities) to have elected Trump.  If we cannot muster the willpower and Federal resolve to take the measures above it will not be much longer, I fear, before the Union will be dissolved of irreconcilable differences.  The only question at that point will be whether the divorce will be amicable or contested.

History shows the latter to be a tragically expensive option.  That is why serious brakes need to be applied now, via strong Federal responses to the provocations above.

What frightens the Left

Today’s recommended read:

Their latest conniption fit has come over two apparently unrelated things. The first, of course, is guns and by extension the right to one’s own personal self-defense in a dangerous and (thanks to the second thing, about which more in a bit) rapidly destabilizing world. …

The Left—which is by turns both malevolent and cowardly, and therefore both tantalized by and fearful of firearms—has never made its hostility toward the Second Amendment a secret, but for decades it was able to keep it under wraps during the half-century or more between the effective closing of the borders to immigration in 1921 and the passage of the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965, known as the Hart-Celler Act but today chiefly remembered as Ted Kennedy’s lasting gift to the American people. …

Which brings us to the cause of their second recent nervous breakdown: the Trump Administration’s decision to reinstate a question about citizenship on the 2020 census form. The movement against it is being led by former attorney general Eric Holder, the knave who was held in contempt of Congress over the Obama administration’s “Fast and Furious” gun-running program to Mexico, and is an unrepentant radical.

“The addition of a citizenship question to the census questionnaire is a direct attack on our representative democracy,” said Holder, announcing a lawsuit. …

On the contrary, this question goes directly to the substance of our representative democracy by acknowledging the difference between citizens and non-citizens, a crucial distinction the Left is trying mightily to erase—and not just because the Democrats stand to benefit from the addition of millions of new dependent and culturally hostile voters.

No, it goes far deeper than that…

As Glenn Reynolds would say, read the whole thing.

The Constitution of the United States stands athwart the vision of the Left, and for that reason they undermine, vilify, circumvent and ignore it wherever they are permitted.  What they fear is a public fully aware of how that document works, why it’s set up the way it is, and willing to hold officials accountable to it.

Be that public.

They don’t really represent “us”

Congress has become a place where people entrench themselves practically for life, clinging to power without regard for the actual job of representing their constituents:

PHOENIX — Meghan McCain says she’s “cautiously optimistic” that Sen. John McCain could return to Washington by the summer.

The 81-year-old Republican senator has been battling a rare and aggressive form of brain cancer called glioblastoma. He was diagnosed last summer.

John McCain was hospitalized and treated for a viral infection in December. He has remained at his family’s ranch near Sedona to undergo chemotherapy and physical therapy since mid-December.

The senator had initially expected to return to Washington in January, but was unable to do so.

So for six months–maybe even more–the people of Arizona will only have half the representation in the Senate that is prescribed under the Constitution.  Of course, even when McCain is present in the Senate, one could hardly call his recent track record properly Republican.

Whatever his past services to the nation, John McCain is clearly seriously ill, and unable to perform the duties of an elected representative.  I wish him only well as he and his family battle the common scourge of cancer.  But a true public servant would recognize his inability to perform his duties and step aside.  We have precious few of those in office these days.  Instead, we have the image of an elderly politico clutching hold of his power even as he tries to cling to life, as though he’s permanently entitled to either.

Membership in Congress has become a sort of nobility in America, even to the point of attempts to maintain “dynasties.”  Of the current 50 senators, 18 have been in office since the Bill Clinton Administration, and the most senior senator–Patrick Leahy of Vermont–entered the body six years before Ronald Reagan became president in 1981.  McCain, a one-time candidate for president, currently is the 7th longest serving senator.

Before the “progressives” added the 17th Amendment, Senators were appointed by State legislatures, not by direct election.  I suspect if we reverted back to the original intentions of the Founders, it would be far easier for Arizona to tell McCain to focus on his health while another is sent to represent the State’s interests in D.C. Mordor.

I’ve said before we have to stop enabling careerism in politics.  No politician should be able to simultaneously run for higher office and reelection to his current seat (thus forcing the taxpayer expense of a special election if “promoted.”)  Politicians should not be able to shop around for a favorable district just by maintaining a second (or third…) home there. I’d even be in favor of allowing States to mandate their senators be drawn only from native-born residents.  Most importantly, Congress should only meet a limited period each year, forced to get the essentials done (like, say, passing a budget on time), then return to their constituencies.  By roosting in Mordor with others like them, it’s far to easy to become self-important and isolated from the people they supposedly serve.

The Greek historian Thucydides once said “of all the manifestations of power, restraint impresses men the most.”  I’d offer a corollary to that: nothing becomes a statesman more than the willingness to relinquish power.  That was the essential difference between George Washington and King George III.  We need to regain that sense of civic mindedness.

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.

Say “no” to unqualified voting

We’ve been indoctrinated to believe voting is a “right,” and that much of progress in America is related to the gradual expansion of the franchise to the point where anyone with a pulse can enter a voting booth.  We’ve even become so “inclusive” that some cities are allowing non-citizens(!!) to vote.

Before I get bombarded with the usual Progressive insults, let me state for the record that I do not believe voting should be limited on the basis of ethnicity or wealth (i.e. landowning requirements).  But on the question of voting, there is one thing of which I am certain: the automatic universal franchise for those born here is the worst idea in the history of republican thought.  Why have I reached this conclusion?  Consider this:

A new survey conducted by the University of Pennsylvania’s Annenberg Public Policy Center finds that most Americans are ignorant of many very basic facts about the Constitution.

* More than one in three people (37%) could not name a single right protected by the First Amendment.
* Only one in four (26%) can name all three branches of the government.
* One in three (33%) can’t name any branch of government. None. Not even one.

You can’t do anything in life well without knowing the rules.  Why should voting be any different?  Now, note carefully what the Washington Post (motto: “Democracy Dies In Darkness“) says next:

The protection of constitutional rights is in large part the business of lawyers, judges, government officials, and other experts. But public opinion plays an important role, as well, which it is unlikely to do as effectively if most of the public is ignorant.

No.  Emphatically no.

The informed and invested citizen is the primary protector of our constitutional freedom.  Therein lies a major part of the problem: being informed and taking action requires effort and some level of personal sacrifice (such as leisure time).  For the vast majority of people, this is simply too much work.  It’s well-said that “Few men desire liberty; most men wish only for a just master.”  Voting is not a “right.”  It is a privilege, and carries with it the reverse of the coin: responsibility.  To hand over the responsibility largely to “lawyers, judges, government officials, and other experts” (notice the order in which these are listed?) is to hand over the privilege of having a voice as a citizen.  By not acting to enforce the Constitutional role on our various government functions, the public has allowed them to determine the limits of their own power (hint: none).  A true citizen refuses to accept that, and challenges — physically, if necessary — undermining of the Constitution.

The only way to be able to do that is to know the Constitution.  It’s no surprise to anyone who’s read this blog for long that I believe voting should be restricted to those who have passed a civic exam at least as difficult as the citizenship test (which, frankly, is not a high bar).  Such an arrangement does not preclude participation on the basis of ethnicity, religion, gender, wealth or any of the other categories that have been used historically to deny the franchise.

What it does is require the would-be voter to earn the privilege — something nearly everyone can do (excepting the mentally incompetent, who already are not allowed full privileges in society).  By bestowing citizenship on those who enter our nation illegally, and allowing anyone with a pulse to vote, our nation shows it does not value either.

“What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: it is dearness only that gives every thing its value. Heaven knows how to put a proper price upon its goods; and it would be strange indeed if so celestial an article as freedom should not be highly rated.”
— Thomas Paine, The American Crisis, 1776

Frankly, studying for an exam is a small price to pay for the franchise.  Others have theorized about requiring much, much more.  (While I don’t subscribe to Heinlein’s exact solution, the requirement to have a “citizen” demonstrate a commitment to something more than their own narrow self-interest would go far to fix what ails us.)

The next time you’re contemplating the sorry state of our nation, just remember it’s likely a good number of the people surveyed were in a polling place last November, and their vote was swayed more by emotions (“I feel like there should be universal health care”) than by knowledge and analysis (“There is no such thing as a free lunch“).

Idiocracy, indeed.