Media and Political Hypocrisy Magnified

 

     In reacting to accusations that President Trump leaked classified information to the Russians in a White House meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lazrov, former defense secretary Leon Panetta suggested Trump needed some adults around him to reign him in. As Yahoo News reported:

     Former CIA Director and Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta branded President Trump a “loose cannon” Tuesday and slammed the “yes people” surrounding him, saying, “This president needs to have some grownups around him.”…

     Panetta praised the White House national security team, but said Trump’s unpredictable nature requires them to “make very clear to the president what he can and cannot do.”

    “He’s got to have some lines here,” Panetta said. “He’s got to have some guardrails. The president of the United States cannot just do or say or speak whatever the hell he wants.”

     As National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster pointed out Tuesday, nothing President Trump told Lazrov was classified or endangered sources and methods. Of course, this matters not to those who thinks it wrong to share information with the Russians but okay to share that same information to the Washington Post.

    It was the kind of general information and concerns that the Russians tried to share with President Obama about the Tsarnaev brothers before the Boston Marathon bombings. If President Obama had “colluded” with the Russians the way Trump is said to have done, the Boston Marathon bombing would never have happened. As Investor’s Business Daily editorialized:

     It boggles the mind that we didn’t listen to the Russians when they warned about the Tsarnaev brothers in part because, well, they’re the Russians. But we want to preserve the records of every housewife in Des Moines because data mining that arguably invades the privacy rights of innocent Americans might reveal something.

     One person whose privacy was not invaded by U.S. intelligence was Tamerlan Tsarnaev, as he repeatedly visited the al-Qaida online magazine Inspire for its recipe “Build a Bomb in the Kitchen of Your Mom.”

     The NSA’s blanket surveillance did not detect Tsarnaev’s interest in building the pressure cooker bombs he would use to devastating effect at the Boston Marathon. The massive databases that we are building a massive facility in Utah to store also failed to uncover the online communications that Tsarnaev had with a known Muslim extremist in Dagestan.

    Collusion with the Russians in this case would have saved American lives, but Obama refused Russian assistance in fighting these terrorists. Is Trump “colluding” with the Russians to save lives from ISIS terrorists a bad thing? Did we forget that the Russians had a plane blown out of the sky over the Sinai by terrorists?

    Panetta himself, it would seem, is the one who needs to be surrounded by adults to keep his loose lips in check, having put the lives of those who took out Osama bin Laden at risk. As Breitbart reported:

    Former CIA Director Leon Panetta, for example, told CNN on Tuesday that Trump “cannot just say whatever the hell he wants and expect it doesn’t carry consequences.”

     Panetta should know, because it was his loose talk after the Osama bin Laden raid that exposed a Pakistani doctor, Shakil Afridi, who helped locate the Al Qaeda leader.  As a result, Afridi was imprisoned on fabricated charges and will live under fear of assassination for the rest of his life.

    As Breitbart News noted in 2013, a Pakistani report on Dr. Afridi reportedly concluded “Dr. Afridi was implicated by a ‘statement by the U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, who was the CIA Director when May 2 happened, confirming the role of Dr. Afridi in making the U.S. assassination mission a success.’”

     Panetta did not reveal that critical intelligence in a private meeting with a foreign emissary, but to the entire world, on CBS News’ 60 Minutes.

     Then there is Joe Biden, whose loose lips got members of Seal Team 6 targeted for revenge in an Afghan mission known as Extortion 17. As Investor’s Business Daily recounted on May 28, 2013:

   Extortion 17 was the call sign of a special operations mission in Afghanistan on Aug. 6, 2011, that responded to an Army Ranger unit engaged in a firefight with the Taliban and in need of backup.

    The Chinook helicopter carrying the rescue team was shot down by a Taliban-owned rocket-propelled grenade over the Wardak Province on Aug. 6, 2011, killing 38, including 30 Americans and 15 members of Navy SEAL Team 6, the unit that killed Osama bin Laden just three months prior.

     The shoot-down was described at the time as a “lucky shot,” but the families of the dead SEALs believe that, like Benghazi, it was a pre-planned operation of revenge facilitated by a government that put them in harm’s way without adequate support and with a bull’s-eye painted on their backs.

    At a Pentagon briefing on Monday, May 2, 2011, a senior defense official was asked if it was a Navy SEAL team that found and killed the world’s most wanted man. The terse and proper response was: “Not going to comment on units or numbers.”

    Then on May 3, Vice President Joe Biden got up to speak at a dinner at Washington’s Ritz Carlton Hotel marking the 50th anniversary of the Atlantic Council to spill the beans about Adm. James Stavridis and “the incredible, the phenomenal, the just almost unbelievable capacity of his Navy SEALs and what they did last Sunday.”

    From that moment, the families believe, the Taliban looked for an opportunity for revenge, and a government more concerned with politically correct rules of engagement than victory helped them get it.

     Biden skated on the leak that got SEAL Team 6 targeted for revenge. Those who now condemn Trump for trying to save American and, yes, Russia lives, were silent, especially Leon “loose lips” Panetta. Panetta and Biden, like Hillary Clinton at Benghazi, put lives in jeopardy and got men killed.

Daniel John Sobieski is a freelance writer whose pieces have appeared in Investor’s Business Daily, Human Events, Reason Magazine and the Chicago Sun-Times among other publications.   

Restoring 1st Amendment Executive Order

Trump’s  1st Amendment Executive Order

Congratulations Are in (Executive) Order!

Another Campaign Promise Kept, Restoring 1st Amendment

May 04, 2017

    It’s not just the National Day of Prayer. It’s the national day of answered prayer for many conservative Christians! After an eight-year war on faith, President Trump finally called a ceasefire on the conflict started by Barack Obama with an executive order on religious freedom. The measure, which was celebrated in a signing ceremony at the White House, was the fulfillment of one of the most significant promises made by the long shot candidate: “to preserve and protect our religious liberty.”

    For evangelicals, whose support propelled Trump to a historic win last November, this was one of the most meaningful returns on that investment. Although the order didn’t make it in under the 100-day wire, the quickness of it showed just how committed this administration is to bringing the government back in line with the First Amendment.

Among other things, the directive checks another big box on the White House’s to-do list — lifting the gag order on churches and other nonprofits under the Johnson Amendment. Since the first days of his candidacy, Donald Trump has railed against the 60-year-old piece of tax code that liberals have turned into a club to punish pastors with. For too long, the Left has used the IRS to threaten the charitable status of churches who dared to speak out on the moral issues of the day.

Of course, the irony of this whole debate is that pulpits are free to do exactly that under the U.S. Constitution. It was only when liberals seized on this twisted interpretation of the Johnson Amendment that pastors came under fire for exercising their God-given rights. To the phony claim that churches would somehow turn into mini-PACs, the White House was clear: “Nobody is suggesting that churches are allowed, or it’s legal, for tax-exempt organizations to take out ads endorsing candidates. That’s illegal now,” said an administration spokesman. “We’re not changing what’s legal, we’re not changing what’s illegal…” Instead, the nation’s tax agency is directed to use “discretion” in enforcing the language named after JFK’s successor.

Medical professionals, charities, businesses, and even nuns who’ve suffered under the outrageous mandate of Obamacare will finally have the relief they need to say no to insurance coverage that violates their conscience. After years of court battles, they’ll be free from regulatory harassment of including contraception and abortifacients in their health care plans. But that’s not all the order does. It sets in place a multi-step process that will provide some long-overdue protections by directing the Attorney General Jeff Sessions to develop guidelines for every federal agency to ensure they protect and promote religious freedom. This includes members of our military, who, under the Obama administration, have been systematically silenced and even purged. Men and women like Chaplain Wes Modder (U.S. Navy-Ret.) and Monifa Sterling, who stared down the ends of their careers for their deeply-held beliefs, can finally come out of hiding and live out their faith openly.

Finally, for our friends like Barronelle Stutzman and Don Vander Boon, who’ve suffered for their biblical views on marriage, there’s hope. As President Trump said, “No American should be forced to choose between the dictates of the federal government and the tenets of their faith,” President Trump told those of us gathered in the Rose Garden for today’s ceremony. “We will not allow people of faith to be targeted, bullied or silenced anymore,” the president said. “We will never ever stand for religious discrimination.”

Thanks to this White House, the open season on Christians and other people of faith is coming to an end. And Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) looks forward to building on White House’s progress. “On this National Day of Prayer, I commend the Trump administration for taking action and will continue to make fighting for religious liberty a top priority of my speakership.” As we work with the Trump administration to address the problems created by Obama, it’s that they understand the dangers of the anti-freedom policies of the last administration. But, more than that, they’re committed to undoing those policies and restoring true religious freedom for everyone.

This step today starts the process of reversing the devastating trends of the last decade to punish charities, pastors, family-owned businesses, and honest, hard-working people simply for living out their faith. On behalf of FRC and the hundreds of thousands of families we represent, we offer our deepest thanks to the president and look forward to assisting him in returning America to the land of the free.

Tony Perkins’ Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.

Gorsuch Confirmed By Scalia and the Constitution In His First Criminal Cases

Gorsuch Confirmed By Scalia and the Constitution In His First Criminal Cases

John-Michael Seibler

3 May, 2017

    It is only Neil M. Gorsuch’s first month as an associate justice on the Supreme Court, but he is already showing just how similar his judicial philosophy is to that of his predecessor, the late Justice Antonin Scalia.

    In several difficult criminal law cases, Gorsuch has asked sharp questions from the bench and cast one of his first votes to deny a stay of execution—moves that echo Scalia’s approach to the law.

The Death Penalty in Arkansas

First, in McGehee et al. v. Hutchinson, Gorsuch voted to deny several Arkansas death row inmates’ requests to halt their executions.

Justices Stephen Breyer, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Elena Kagan, and Sonia Sotomayor would have granted their request. Breyer wrote a two-page dissent questioning “whether the death penalty is consistent with the Constitution” (he clearly believes it isn’t).

While the majority did not state their reasons for denying the inmates’ request, it seems clear that they relied, at least in part, on the reasoning set out by Scalia in his concurring opinion in Glossip v. Gross (2015), in which he wrote that “not once in the history of the American republic has this Court ever suggested the death penalty is categorically impermissible.”

“The reason is obvious: It is impossible to hold unconstitutional that which the Constitution explicitly contemplates.”

Scalia continued, “The Fifth Amendment provides that ‘[n]o person shall be held to answer for a capital … crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a grand jury,’ and that no person shall be ‘deprived of life … without due process of law.’”

The Washington Post describes votes on stays of execution as “a time when the responsibility of the role crystallizes.” In McGehee, Gorsuch held firm, silently adopting Scalia’s constitutionalist reasoning.

No ‘Linguistic Somersaults’

Second, Gorsuch demonstrated his adherence to textualism through some of the questions he posed to the advocates during oral argument in Maslenjak v. U.S.

At issue in the case is whether the government was justified in removing the U.S. citizenship of Divna Maslenjak, an ethnic Serb from modern Bosnia. Maslenjak, who came to the United States in 2000 and was subsequently naturalized as a citizen, was convicted of lying to a U.S. immigration official. During an interview in 1998, she told the immigration officer that she and her husband were seeking asylum because they feared persecution in Bosnia because her husband had evaded conscription into the Serbian army.

In reality, he had served as an officer in a Serbian militia unit which was subsequently accused of war crimes.

In 2006, Maslenjak falsely stated on an immigration form that she had never lied to an immigration officer, and was subsequently convicted of making false statements on a government document.

A key issue before the Court is whether that lie was “material” enough to affect the original immigration decision, which would, in turn, be sufficient to uphold her conviction and her subsequent denaturalization.

As Amy Howe writes at SCOTUSblog, “ruling for the government” in this case “would give U.S. officials boundless discretion to take away citizenship based on even very minor lies.”

In the midst of this high stakes argument, Gorsuch’s questions focused on one issue in particular: The text of the law itself.

The statute, Gorsuch noted, “doesn’t contain an express materiality provision,” and Gorsuch was concerned about having to do “a lot of linguistic somersaults to add” such a provision into the law.

That harkens back to Scalia’s dissenting opinion in King v. Burwell (2015). There, the U.S. Supreme Court held that the Affordable Care Act’s “tax credits are available to individuals in states that have a federal exchange.”

In signature prose, Scalia wrote that “[t]he somersaults of statutory interpretation” that the majority “performed (‘penalty’ means tax … ‘established by the state’ means not established by the state) will be cited by litigants endlessly, to the confusion of honest jurisprudence.”

The late Justice Antonin Scalia was known for his combination of colorful prose and staunch originalism. (Photo: Gary Fabiano/Pool via CNP/Newscom)

    Gorsuch appears sympathetic to Scalia’s disapproval of “linguistic somersaults” and the idea that judges are empowered to rewrite laws that they may disagree with.

The Big Picture

Third, Gorsuch showed a keen awareness of how the Supreme Court’s rulings carry far-reaching implications for future cases in Weaver v. Massachusetts.

That case involved a man named Kentel Weaver, who in 2006 was convicted of unlicensed possession of a firearm and premeditated murder of 15-year-old Germaine Rucker. Weaver was 16 at the time of the murder. In 2011, he sought a new trial, claiming that his counsel was ineffective because they did not object to the courtroom being closed during jury empanelment, when the defendant, judge, and jury first meet. Weaver argued that this was a procedural irregularity that violated his Sixth Amendment right to a public trial.

But as Chief Justice John Roberts pointed out at oral argument, the reason the courtroom was closed was that it was full. Ninety members of the public were in attendance as prospective jurors, and they all needed seats.

Weaver objected to this reasoning, saying that while prospective jurors were seated, his mother and his other supporters weren’t able to enter the courtroom during the early stage of the proceedings.

At this point, Gorsuch entered the fray with a big picture question.

He asked whether a “triviality exception” might apply here, or whether the Court should consider the potential unintended consequences that can arise when it tries to prevent every injustice—no matter how small—by imposing new procedural requirements across the entire criminal justice system.

Gorsuch asked whether ruling for Weaver would create a “Professor Stuntz” problem, whereby in “perfecting procedure, we actually result in its denial…”

This reference was to the late Harvard criminal law professor, William J. Stuntz, who argued that by following the Warren Court’s “fetishization of so many formalistic procedures,” the criminal justice system is now overburdened by an excess of procedural technicalities at play.

Berkeley law professor Andrea Roth summed up Stuntz’s argument, saying that these rules “at best indirectly ensure fairness of trial and sentencing outcomes” but have “rendered trials too expensive” and complex for anyone but elite lawyers to tackle.

In turn, writes Roth, this “has driven prosecutors and lawmakers to seek ways to avoid trial and force pleas through draconian sentencing schemes, a skewed focus on easily detected urban drug crimes mostly committed by racial minorities, and ever-expanding substantive criminal law.”

Scalia worked to constrain some of the Warren Court’s excesses in this regard during his time on the Court.

In Hudson v. Michigan (2006), for example, Scalia, writing for the majority, refused to extend the “exclusionary rule” (which requires the suppression of incriminating evidence, notwithstanding the fact that a defendant may be guilty) to technical violations of “the knock-and-announce rule,” which establishes that, absent extenuating circumstances, police officers must knock on the door and announce their presence before entering a suspect’s home.

He also asserted, in a noteworthy University of Chicago Law Review article, that there is a “dichotomy between ‘general rule of law’ and ‘personal discretion to do justice’”—that is, to rule as a judge personally desires rather than as the law instructs—and that the latter may lead to “unfortunate practical consequences.”

So far, Gorsuch is modeling this Scalia-esque approach and honoring the rule of law.

This is the exact approach he espoused in a dissent in A.M. v. Holmes (2016) while sitting on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit. There, he wrote, “[a] judge who likes every result he reaches is very likely a bad judge, reaching for results he prefers rather than those the law compels.”

A Fitting Successor to Scalia

Throughout his nomination and confirmation process, Heritage Foundation legal scholars noted Gorsuch’s striking similarities to Scalia, which include a shared sensitivity to over criminalization, textualism, and the separation of powers.

In these first few cases, Gorsuch is showing just how well he fits the Scalia mold of being a committed constitutionalist and textualist on the High Court.

The Failure of Government

The Failure of Government
    Globally governments fail because they ignore the fundamental requisite for any successful government – justice for all. In the American political tradition, the Framers and Founders recognized the absolute necessity of justice being the immutable indelible foundation of all enduring human interactions. If their original intentions embodied in the Constitution and ideologically defined in the Declaration of Independence are not being fulfilled, the question of what went wrong must be answered. The California drought, the bankruptcy of cities tied to the lost jobs in the auto industry, the unfathomable Federal debt, the sacking and torching of Ferguson, huge energy reserves left untouched by miners begging for work to feed their families, the safety of our children compromised by judicial activism giving sexual deviants access to their innocence, to name but a few of the hundreds of local, state, and national issues plaguing our nation, are robbing us of liberty and denying us justice.
    Healthcare in America, once held to be a world standard, now lags behind other countries in many areas. Ever increasing taxes are unavoidable without a balanced budget, to say nothing of the undeserved burgeoning public debt being left to our children. So much for “securing the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity”. From coast to coast, border to border, America is under attack by the governments we have erroneously empowered. Every branch – legislative, judicial, and executive, along with the unauthorized tyranny of the administrative state –  the bureaucrats and bureaucracies – unchecked by those elected to represent us, attack America from within. Successful as no foreign enemy has been, these “domestic” enemies remain unaccountable to an electorate duped by the lies and deceptions of those violating the Constitution. Continuing the onslaught, they rely on a public satiated by a standard of living that continues to improve as science advances.
    Many of those stealing freedom and subverting justice, aided by the false propaganda of a media conveying the untruths they choose to believe, put forth a smokescreen obscuring or denying the tragedies and disasters they cause. Whether the loss of families’ entire retirements to the financial meltdown of 2008, or the out of control costs of healthcare thrust on working Americans, the politicians exempting themselves from the afflictions they inflict upon those trapped in the morass of government rules and regulations they enact  or enable, the myriad evidences of government betrayal remain and continue. If Congress had to endure the exploding deductibles and escalating insurance premiums for healthcare rather than having their own unjust undeserved benefits of public office paid for by their constituents, the plight of those granting them the opportunity to serve would not be ignored. Justice for all defined by immutable Law and the Constitution do not permit or authorize the creation of a ruling government class with special rights and privileges of their own invention.
  As alluded to earlier, the fault and blame cannot rest on the politicians alone, for it is we, the people, who elect them. But, in this republic, the Framers envisioned a government where those constituting the legislative branch would rise above the majority and guide with justice and reason. Replacing those in the late 1700s sacrificing their individual economic successes to engage in public service are politicians holding office as a job. Unlike President Washington who never wanted to leave his beloved Mount Vernon, the primary focus of many now violating their oath of office to protect and defend the Constitution is their reelection. As a case in point, at the state level, California is considered by some economists to have the 28th largest economy in the world. Yet, as a state failing to address the unconscionable burden of the undeserving willing to exist on the work of others, the debt of the state with such economic resources is mounting without legislative responsibility. With a large proportion of the state’s domestic product coming from agriculture, California has just gone through a devastating drought. Now, an abundance of rain is overflowing reservoirs, and even exceeding the capacities of outdated out-of-repair dams. Still, faced with the past reality, California legislators are considering a “bullet” train rather than increasing the numbers and the size of reservoirs.
    Similarly, on the national front, with enough coal reserves to fuel power plants for centuries, coal miners are out of work as mines have been dormant because legislators have succumbed to the lies of false science and false scientists in the pockets of those supporting their next run for office. Any hydrocarbon, from natural gas to diesel fuel to coal, produces the same amount of CO2 per breaking of the hydrocarbon bond and the oxidation of hydrogen and carbon as any other.
    Ferguson was looted and burned by thieves and arsonists imported and paid for by our enemies who obtained their riches because of the very blessings they are seeking to deny their fellow countrymen. These same traitors of wealth and position enable and support the “protestors” disrupting the “domestic tranquility” to which loyal Americans are entitled. Sitting by as the flames consumed the businesses of the innocent seeking only to provide for their families, a governor did not deploy the activated ready and positioned National Guard completely contrary to to right and justice.
    Violating common sense, decency, and morality, judicial activism and executive order pervert justice exposing the innocent to an ultimate corruption of the laws of nature. By legislative failure alone, those robed in black remain on their thrones of injustice.
    Seeing the response to a President elected promising to “drain the swamp” of political corruption, and the mandate of all but 19% of counties in the United States voting to “make America great again”, our Nation appears to be embroiled in a great new civil war pitting justice for all, equal opportunity, and freedom against the establishments of governments. Let us “be here dedicated to the great cause remaining before us . … tak[ing] increased devotion to that cause …. that this nation under God shall have a new birth of freedom,  and that government of the people by the people for the people shall not perish from the earth.”

Franklin and the Free Press

Franklin and the Free Press

Arthur Milikh

 

    Many Americans today have an ambivalent stance toward the free press. On the one hand, nearly all citizens assent to the idealism that originally justified its creation: We value the discovery and circulation of the truth, and the prevention of governmental tyranny. As such, the press is meant to serve both intellectual and political liberty. Yet, on the other hand, few citizens directly experience this idealism, feeling instead the press’s forcefulness, flattery, vehemence, and sometimes fanaticism — often akin to warfare directed at their minds and sentiments. Rather than heading off intellectual and political dogma, the press often creates or disseminates it. A great disparity thus exists between the press’s ideals and its practice today.

    As originally understood by many of America’s founders, the open circulation of the truth through the press would serve both society and the individual. As Thomas Jefferson explains,

No experiment can be more interesting than that we are now trying, and which we trust will end in establishing the fact, that man may be governed by reason and truth. Our first object should therefore be, to leave open to him all the avenues to truth. The most effectual hitherto found, is the freedom of the press.

In addition, many of America’s founders also understood the press as an essential bulwark against government for the securing of individual rights. Jefferson, again, summarizes:

     I am…for freedom of the press, and against all violations of the Constitution to silence by force and not by reason the complaints or criticisms, just or unjust, of our citizens against the conduct of their agents.

     The press, and especially the mass press, is a means by which to enforce accountability and responsibility in the government, and to thereby compel government’s virtue.

Moreover, newspapers even help “maintain civilization,” as Alexis de Tocqueville observes in Democracy in America. By giving democratic citizens common opinions, common sympathies, and a resource for common action, newspapers can help prevent the individuation and isolation of citizens to which democracy disposes them.

These idealistic aims markedly diverge from the mass press’s actual behavior and its effects on republicanism. And that is not a new problem. During America’s founding, as historian Leonard Levy observes, an “extraordinary partisanship, vitality, and invective had become ordinary” in the press. Indeed, today’s press has similar inclinations, often imposing onto the public its taste for derision and ridicule, which it substitutes for depth and thoughtfulness. Examples abound, but consider the Huffington Post‘s editor’s note, added to nearly every article referencing Donald Trump during the 2016 election:

     “Donald Trump regularly incites political violence and is a serial liar, rampant xenophobe, racist, misogynist and birther who has repeatedly pledged to ban all Muslims — 1.6 billion members of an entire religion — from entering the U.S.”

Not stopping at public figures, the press also satisfies its penchant for crushing the will of private citizens and groups through shame and fear, making them feel their smallness and brittleness. Its behavior, in sum, often discloses the press’s tacit opinion concerning America’s moral hierarchy: that the press is not merely a fourth estate, but the judge of would-be rulers, and therefore the master, or at least the kingmaker. Yet it remains unclear whether the press rules with the spirit of humanity and prudence, or whether it is animated by the desire to dominate the public mind. It frequently vacillates between these extremes.

By contrast to the early Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin had no illusions about the character of the press in America. Few serious thinkers have reflected with as much clarity on the nature of the press as Franklin. And no other thinker has had so much experience and commercial success in it. A lifelong defender of the freedom of the press, Franklin was nevertheless not uncritical of its effects.

Franklin’s short but rich essay, “An Account of the Supremest Court of Judicature in Pennsylvania, viz., The Court of the Press,” written a year before his death in 1790, lays out a comprehensive analysis of the press: its effects on politics and the democratic mind, its mode of rule, and the origins of its power. His study is, in a sense, an examination of the effectual truth of the principle underlying freedom of the press. His reflections are urgently needed today.

The press, Franklin argues, unlike any other republican institution, has a power that does not fall under any constitutional check. It is motivated to act viciously by its very principle (created to attack dogma, false knowledge, and political corruption), though in practice it is neither limited nor moderated by either its own idealism or by any institution. While the press claims to rule like a court — passing all things before its judgment — it may rule tyrannically because it is liberated from considerations of justice or precedent. Thus unchecked, the press can subvert rational habits of mind among citizens and reverence for the law while flattering public resentments and antagonizing citizens’ pride. Franklin was consciously witnessing the birth of a new class, a kind of press corps, created by this new principle, and his assessment of the human content of this class is contrasted with the powers it wields. For Franklin, a free press must be checked by a vigilant and jealous public, which he hopes to energize against abuses of liberty.

Franklin’s literary style differs from that of the other founders. As University of Chicago professor Ralph Lerner has observed, Franklin often “works on us through indirection and insinuation. But he leaves it to us to catch his drift.” In his analysis of the press, Franklin tacitly points out both the problems with our idealism (so as to soften their deleterious effects) and the conflicts in our motives and hopes (so as to encourage a liberating skepticism). He does so with a view to protecting democratic self-respect while exposing and ridiculing the ability of the press to undermine the host democracy’s institutions.

POWER AND SUBVERSION

In order to get at Franklin’s perspective on the press in America, we need to take a step back to get a sense of its powers. According to Franklin, the press’s powers resemble those of a “court,” a term he uses in several ways. In the first sense, the press resembles a conventional court of law: It has the power to “judge, sentence, and condemn to infamy” citizens both public and private. The press even carries out court-like powers by conducting what look like hearings and inquiries. And since in a republic none can claim superiority to the law, “all persons” and “all inferior courts” are subject to its jurisdiction and judgment. In this way, the press claims to imitate the majesty, objectivity, and moral authority of a court of law.

The press does these things, however, without being “governed by any of the rules of common courts of law.” Unlike a legal court, the press is not part of the judicial system and is therefore not subject to the institutional checks that moderate political power and authority. While the claims to equity and justice authorize such powers in a court of law, the press is neither restrained by legal precedent nor by evidentiary standards that assure the maintenance of those claims. Thus, for example, rather than relying on witnesses sworn to truthfulness, it may use anonymous sources, who suffer no consequences for dishonesty. In fact, as it often rules through mere “accusation,” no limits seem to exist on the nature or extent of the accusations, just as there are no limits on who can be accused.

The press’s proceedings occur “with or without inquiry or hearing, at the court’s discretion” (emphasis in original). The press acts on its own initiative, rather than through citizen or executive complaint. It can pick and choose its own cases — selectively closing its eyes to some, while opening them to others — not with a view to satisfying justice or the law, but in accordance with its own prejudices or interests. Since the press follows its own discretion, its operations and methods are not fully knowable, and one therefore cannot appeal to it rationally. The press is conscious of this supremacy, Franklin contends.

The press also resembles a religious court, Franklin half-jokes, the “Spanish Court of Inquisition,” in its moral authority to force and shape belief through fear and intimidation. Like the Spanish Inquisition, the press enforces its pre-eminence by reaching into individual souls and compelling belief. When the press acts against individuals and institutions:

The accused is allowed no grand jury to judge of the truth of the accusation before it is publicly made, nor is the Name of the Accuser made known to him, nor has he an Opportunity of confronting the Witnesses against him; for they are kept in the dark, as in the Spanish Court of Inquisition.

The open presentation of evidence of wrongdoing corroborated by facts shows respect for rational and transparent procedures that embody the spirit of justice. Such proceedings presume citizens’ intellectual capacity to be convinced by the force of facts and arguments. With the Inquisition, to the contrary, assent is founded on fear and intimidation, as one would expect from despotism. Here there is darkness, mystery, and anxious anticipation. In its practice, Franklin contends, the press contradicts the principles by which it justifies its authority: It claims that belief stems from the free and rational persuasion of the mind, but in its deeds it insists that belief should be compelled through its own powers of insinuation, intimidation, and accusation.

The press has a despotic inclination for making citizens experience its overwhelming power: It takes an “honest” and “good” citizen who, through what is almost a miraculous transformation, “in the same Morning” is judged and condemned by the press to be a “Rogue and a Villain” (emphasis in the original). Its rapidity and forcefulness appear to be almost irresistible. Though the press does not burn individuals at the stake, nonetheless, like tribunals of the Spanish Inquisition, Franklin sees in the press the capacity for fanaticism originating in complete confidence in its ability to judge.

This unrestrained power can even willfully direct public opinion against the law itself, perhaps despite the public’s interests. We witness one contemporary example of this power. Whatever one’s view of immigration policy might be, the press, by relentlessly calling “illegal aliens” “undocumented immigrants” for years, has subtly altered public sympathies against would-be enforcers of the law. The press can make the law appear weak and its authority questionable in comparison to its own power.

Although prepared to subvert the law at times, the press relies on the law’s protection when using it for its own advantages:

[I]f an officer of this court [the unchecked untruthful press] receives the slightest check for misconduct in this his office, he claims immediately the rights of a free citizen by the Constitution, and demands to know his accuser, to confront the witnesses, and to have a fair trial by a jury of his peers.

In sum, the press sometimes reveres and sometimes subverts the law; sometimes it guides public opinion toward the law, sometimes against it. But the press always seems to know its interest in maintaining its superiority over the public mind.

SUPERIORITY AND MEDIOCRITY

Franklin asks us to contrast this remarkable power with the character of the members of the class wielding it. The freedom of the press creates a new human type that dominates the liberal-democratic landscape to this day. This new type is “appointed to this great Trust” of guiding the public intellect, deciding upon citizens’ fates, and sometimes even determining the future of the nation.

This new class, Franklin notes, is open to anyone. The officers of the press corps are not appointed by an executive authority on the basis of their virtue. Nor is the press a hereditary institution governed by and therefore subordinated to considerations of honor or tradition. (Franklin is not in favor of such alternatives, of course.) As such, he observes that under the new democratic conditions, this class is self-created, so to speak:

     [A]ny Man who can procure Pen, Ink, and Paper, with a Press, and a huge pair of Blacking Balls, may commissionate himself; and his court is immediately established in the plenary Possession and exercise of its rights.

    The effect of this, for Franklin, is the creation of a class requiring neither “Ability, Integrity, [nor] Knowledge.” Surely these qualities sometimes exist — look at Franklin! — but just as surely they are not necessary prerequisites. Franklin chooses his words carefully, subtly leading us to ask whether, in practice, these virtues often become their opposites: Sensationalism will often be mistaken for ability, contempt for all those inferior to it mistaken for integrity, and pedantry mistaken for knowledge. Franklin suggests that the public mind may come to imitate this confusion of virtue and vice under the press’s influence.

This class of unelected opinion makers is also unified by a specific motive, Franklin contends. It is a community that shares the “privilege of accusing and abusing the other four hundred and ninety-nine parts at their pleasure.” These numbers are invented, of course, but Franklin is pointing to the hidden motive unifying this community — the mutual indulgence in feigned superiority, the pleasure of punishing, and a taste for contempt for one’s fellow citizens and for would-be rulers. Can one serve the public if one has contempt for it?

Furthermore, Franklin observes that the powers granted to the press, through the principle authorizing its existence, often culminate in the appearance of principled courage. Feeling its superiority to individual citizens or other public institutions, the press rebels against inquiries into its authority and the modes of its rule: “For, if you make the least complaint of the judge’s conduct, he daubs his blacking balls in your face wherever he meets you.” What at first glance may seem like dignified courage in carrying out its duties is perhaps merely the protection of its own superiority coupled with vengeance against those questioning it.

Indeed, the press, Franklin argues, may use its capacity to “[mark] you out for the odium of the public, as an enemy to the liberty of the press,” in order to suppress dissent against its authority. This has the effect of crushing the voice of reason in citizens along with the self-confidence necessary for them to voice their thoughts publicly. Franklin tacitly suggests that, over time, citizens may lose their habits of reason through this kind of rule.

One barely needs to add that this class serves for its own “Emolument.” Franklin draws our attention to a dual unity in motive: Satisfying the pleasures of ruling citizens and indulging its own taste for contempt become financially lucrative under these new democratic circumstances. In an era of egalitarianism, most human beings are born without genuine wealth, the security of inherited social class and standing, or special destiny. Individuals therefore to a greater extent than ever before become their professions.

It’s important to point out that during Franklin’s time, owners of printing presses printed all kinds of things for profit: newspapers, books, and pamphlets, encompassing every subject, sometimes including the printing of the libelous and scurrilous as well. Our newspapers no longer do precisely this, of course (though it is subject to debate whether appearing to praise oneself for alleged objectivity, as newspapers do today, while printing what is essentially partisan, has polluted the moral and intellectual waters more than when, as during Franklin’s time, all citizens knew that the press was for hire). Nevertheless, the problem Franklin draws our attention to is still with us. When intermixed with the self-serving powers to command public opinion, merely aspiring to uphold a principle for one’s livelihood rarely results in independence of mind or judgment. In fact, the appearance of acting on principle can be lucrative.

As Franklin makes clear, it is not entirely obvious whether the press’s belief in its guiding principles is sincere, as it does not apply them equally to all other individuals or institutions. Today, for example, much of the press class is in favor of campaign-finance laws that regulate the expression of candidates, parties, and interest groups, but is uninterested in applying similar regulations to itself. Taken to its logical extreme, this may suggest that this class has a secret motive, aiming to limit free speech by making only its own speech acceptable. Its unwillingness to subject itself to the same standards of law and regulations as other authorities is suspect.

HUMAN WEAKNESS

Franklin also sees in the press a tendency to deform and undermine the idealism necessary for republicanism. Republicanism presumes that citizens are willing, at times, to sacrifice a great deal for liberty, like the signers of the Declaration of Independence who mutually pledged their lives, fortunes, and sacred honor. Yet it is difficult to love liberty if it is experienced as moral chaos, which the press can infuse into democratic life. In fact, Franklin fears that political liberty, as redefined by the press, may come to mean the “Liberty of affronting, calumniating, and defaming one another.” In such an environment, liberty may come to be experienced as burdensome, tedious, and ugly, encouraging citizens to “cheerfully consent to exchange [their] Liberty of Abusing others for the Privilege of not being abus’d [themselves].”

In theory, the freedom of the press presumes that what is most crucially common to all human beings is each individual’s rational faculty, on the basis of which modern republicanism is created and defended. Thus, for Franklin, among the highest manifestations of the freedom of the press is the “Liberty of discussing the Propriety of Public Measures and political opinions.” By this definition, he seems to mean the publication of works like the Federalist Papers (which appeared as a series of newspaper columns) or his own writings — though he is of course aware that this standard is rarely achieved in practice. Such writings elevate and deepen citizens. One should contrast Franklin’s understanding to the recently developed public view of speech which considers dignified any spasmodic effusion of half-formed feeling, obscenity, or agitation subversive of republicanism.

These powers to abuse rather than bolster republican idealism and rational habits of character, Franklin contends, find their “natural Support” in human resentment. Resentment, a “depravity” of the human character, is a powerful though hidden source of the press’s power over the mind. Franklin quotes Juvenal’s Satires to explain:

There is a Lust in Man no Charm can tame,
Of loudly publishing his Neighbour’s Shame.
On Eagle’s Wings immortal Scandals fly,
While virtuous Actions are but born and die.

Resentment is an ugly, double-sided passion. It leads one to assert moral superiority over others, thereby demanding superior desert for oneself, while simultaneously desiring that harm befall others so as to protect one’s own inflated self-appraisal. As Franklin politely puts it, “Whoever feels pain in hearing a good character of his neighbour, will feel a pleasure in the reverse.” Resentment does not even depend on one’s own faring well, for one can be resentful and at the same time prosperous.

Franklin is being neither flippant nor pedantic regarding the central importance of resentment. He is pointing to the deeper problem which resentment reveals — human confusion about desert. As Jerry Weinberger has argued in Benjamin Franklin Unmasked, among the central premises of Franklin’s philosophical thought is that human beings want more for themselves than they deserve. This desire deludes our judgment, distorts our opinion of ourselves, and to a great extent accounts for the human comedy of errors. It also accounts for our jealous hatred of others’ success.

This passion, in conflict with republicanism, is flattered by the press, Franklin argues. In amplifying and dignifying resentment, the press cultivates its own popularity and reach. There are always many “who, despairing to rise into distinction by their virtues, are happy if others can be depressed to a level with themselves.” In flattering the public’s resentment, the press blinds it to its own mediocrity, Franklin suggests. Today, this psychology follows a predictable pattern: tacitly or overtly belittling or ridiculing human greatness, cutting it down to a digestible size, while exposing and laughing at private vices — or, alternatively, encouraging indulgence in feigned great moral feeling without the requirement of sacrifice or sincerity. The steady stream of examples of baseness, greed, and dishonesty teach the lesson that such individuals are no better than you — in fact, they are worse, because you can look down upon them. By implicitly calling resentment high-mindedness in flattering its audience, the press often both ridicules virtue and avoids making mediocrity appear contemptible.

Franklin sees the formation of a community of mutual flattery between the press’s desire to rule and the public’s resentment. On the one hand, fostering resentments maintains the press’s power over the public — for in satisfying the public in such a way, it is allowed to govern the public’s tastes and passions. And the public, on the other hand, in showing its gratitude for not being targeted or undone by the press, redoubles rewards by showing obliging subordination.

Thus, in a final sense of the press’s playing the role of a “court,” it is akin to a monarchical court, for it serves a monarch — the public. Yet in serving its monarch, does the press play the role of the French revolutionary, re-enacting the guillotine by beheading individuals or institutions in order to satisfy the public’s resentments? Oddly, the press, originally conceived as an essential means by which to preserve political and intellectual freedom, may become a mechanism through which the public oppresses itself.  In suggesting that the lust to satisfy resentment guides “such minds, as have not been mended by religion, nor improved by good education,” Franklin is goading us to consider more closely the kind of education he is providing his readers, which can correct this natural defect. His wit makes us aware of our defects, while his humor attempts to shame us out of them.

LIBERTY OF PRIDE AND HONOR

Is it possible to correct for these abuses of the free press? Unlike the other powers enumerated in the Constitution, Franklin observes that the press has no corresponding check against it:

     [S]o much has been written and published on the federal Constitution, and the necessity of checks in all other parts of good government has been so clearly and learnedly explained, I find myself so far enlightened as to suspect some check may be proper in this part also; but I have been at a loss to imagine any that may not be construed an infringement of the sacred liberty of the press.

    Franklin jokes that the only check he can find is the “liberty of the cudgel.” In other words, the press is free to print as it pleases so long as citizens are free to go to an authentic offender “and break his head.” Franklin’s ludicrous solution points to a contradiction in republican laws.

Self-government presumes a certain measure of self-respect and pride among citizens. Republicanism depends on the conviction that individuals have the psychological and physical ability to order their lives and to legislate for themselves and their community on the basis of their judgment.

Individual pride, of course, cannot be given full reign in a republic, nor can its demands be fully satisfied. When carried to its extremes, pride points to absurd self-importance and tyranny. In republics, individual pride must be restrained to some degree for the protection of others’ rights, for too much of it can destroy a republic. Yet republican law puts man in an odd state: On the one hand, man desires the full security of his pride and therefore his reputation — loving his reputation perhaps more than his life, as Franklin observes — while the law constrains his ability to defend it fully against its attackers. Defending one’s self-respect, Franklin implies, is perhaps a right as much as any other. On the other hand, however, “the right [of the press] of abusing seems to remain in full force, the laws made against it being rendered ineffectual by the liberty of the press” (emphasis in original). Citizens cannot fully protect their self-respect while the press is given broad authorization to abuse it. For Franklin, the effect of this may be the weakening of citizens’ pride and the diminishing of their attachment to self-government, which correspondingly grows the space for the press’s influence over the mind.

What is to be done, according to Franklin? He jokes, “[L]eave the liberty of the press untouched, to be exercised in its full extent, force, and vigor; but to permit the liberty of the cudgel to go with it pari passu” (emphasis in the original). Franklin wants the vindication of republican pride — not just because he honors such sentiments, but because he thinks that such a counterbalance or check, like the checks employed in other parts of the Constitution, is necessary against the press’s powers, too. In fact, the public can unite if it is affronted, “as it ought to be,” by the press’s abuses (emphasis in original). The public can show its “moderation,” he jokes, by “tarring and feathering, and tossing them in a blanket.” Franklin is of course not advocating such actions, but he does want the public to recall its power to humiliate.

Franklin concludes by emphasizing the need to secure citizens’ reputations:

    If, however, it should be thought that this proposal of mine may disturb the public peace, I would then humbly recommend to our legislators to take up the consideration of both liberties, that of the press, and that of the cudgel, and by an explicit law mark their extent and limits; and, at the same time that they secure the person of a citizen from assaults, they would likewise provide for the security of his reputation.

    Balancing both liberties, for Franklin, ought to be among the highest considerations of legislators and statesmen — the liberty of the press and the liberty to defend one’s pride. One wonders whether Franklin here explicitly means only libel laws, or is also referring to citizens who are jealous of their liberty and who know their power.

OUR PRESS

The press exists as an institution to protect and strengthen republicanism, resting on the idea that human beings and public institutions must be made good, or, as we say today, made responsible. But the press can also exceed its limits, becoming over-powerful and therefore no longer serving the interests of the society that hosts it. Franklin’s solutions to the problems created by the press are partly comical, both because they are exaggerated and because relatively little, it seems, can be done about the effectual truth of this principle.

To some degree, the conservative oppositional press begun a few generations ago has addressed what is among the worst diseases of a republic: the centralization of the press. As Tocqueville observes:

When a large number of organs of the press come to advance along the same track, their influence becomes almost irresistible in the long term, and public opinion, struck always from the same side, ends by yielding under their blows.

The press’s powers (as analyzed by Franklin), combined with centralization, may be lethal to a republic. In this regard, America’s conservative oppositional press — which has no parallel anywhere else in the Western world — has greatly contributed to breaking up centralization. Yet having guided us away from the shoal of centralization, the oppositional press has created new problems.

With the help of new media technologies, the oppositional press has ushered into existence the parallel universes that American citizens now construct for themselves by choosing which press better flatters their prejudices. Alarmingly, citizens who inhabit each of these monolithic realities are more than merely at partisan ends of a political spectrum — they have become to some degree almost different kinds of beings, given the extent of their differences in sentiments, passions, habits of character, and tastes. Indeed, the new multiplicity of news sources, despite some obviously healthy effects, can create a greater and greater cacophony of similar sentiments while reducing genuine thoughtfulness. This need not, however, be our nation’s final situation.

The quality of our press will decide the fate of our civilization. We might try to follow Franklin’s general lessons in order to facilitate public discourse: bolstering citizen pride as a means of preventing the press’s excesses; diminishing the public’s resentment by ridiculing rather than flattering it; all while recalling that the press must serve republicanism rather than weaken it. For this to be possible, the press must renew its self-understanding. And the public ought to demand it. On the side of the press, this would mean a new devotion to elevating political debate — while consciously avoiding self-flattery, dogmatism, and partisan dishonesty — about important political questions facing the nation. On the side of the public, this means deepening its understanding of the stakes to the nation, and showing a new willingness to speak freely and rationally, despite the obstacles of political correctness or fear of intimidation.

Finally, lessons in moderating the press’s power and reach may be seen in Franklin’s own activity. Perhaps lampooning and parodying the press — that is, exposing it, its inferior personages, and its interests, through film, books, and on stage, as Franklin himself did — can liberate the democratic mind to some degree from its power. Also following Franklin, we see that democratic resentment — though exploited by the press — can be harnessed and directed toward useful ends. For example, resentment can despise and envy the great, or it can satisfy itself through the prosecution of corruption, both governmental and that of the press itself.

Arthur Milikh is associate director of the Heritage Foundation’s B. Kenneth Simon Center for Principles and Politics.

Billionaire Funds Overthrow of Capitalism

Billionaire Funds Overthrow of Capitalism

Cliff Kincaid

April 27, 2017

 

    “System Change, Not Climate Change” is the demand being made by the Party for Socialism and Liberation in regard to Saturday’s Peoples Climate March. “Only socialism can solve the climate crisis,” they say. It appears that the organizers of the march agree, since the old Moscow-funded Communist Party is listed as one of the official “partners” of the group sponsoring the April 29th demonstration in the nation’s capital.

    Russian leader Vladimir Putin would like nothing more than to see the U.S. close down its oil and gas industry and try to run a modern industrial economy on solar panels and windmills.

The Communist Party (CPUSA) is ecstatic, saying that a “radicalization process” is underway “that’s given renewed meaning and life by the independent movement to elect our country’s first African American president, Occupy Wall Street, the Dreamers, Black Lives Matter, marriage equality, and the political revolution energized by the Sanders bid for the presidency.”

But don’t expect our media to look behind the curtain of the Peoples Climate March, since reporters share the ideology of climate change. We will probably be told that the march is comprised of moms and kids.

In this case, it’s not really “behind the curtain” because the “partners” of the march are listed openly on the organizer’s website. The CPUSA-affiliate U.S. Peace Council is another partner.

Other official partners include Catholic groups like the Franciscan Action Network, and unions like the American Federation of Teachers, American Postal Workers Union, Service Employees International Union, and Communications Workers of America.

The Democratic Socialists of America (DSA), a group that backed Obama from the start of his political career, is a partner, as is the Socialist Party and the American Humanist Association.

Academia is represented through such organizations as the American Association of University Professors.

But there’s more: the Global Muslim Climate Network, the Islamic Society of North America, and a group called Green Muslims have signed on as partners.

Native Lives Matter has been formed, and they, too, are a partner of the climate march.

“On the 100th day of Trump’s presidency,” say the organizers, “our march will celebrate both the diversity of our movements and demonstrate our unity in the face of Trump’s attempts to divide us.” This is apparently a reference to President Donald Trump’s decision to enlist some industrial unions in a coalition to create jobs through the use of America’s oil and gas resources.

Trump’s electoral success has split apart the Democratic Party coalition that depended on unions and workers to help liberals win on Election Day.

One of the speakers, Jazzlyn Lindsey of Black Lives Matter DC, is described as someone who “utilizes her innovative interpersonal skills to educate and engage her peers on issues pertaining to the history of punishment and prisons, environmental racism, and intersectional feminism.” A picture on her Facebook page shows a “Black Muslims Matter” sign.

The national coordinator of the group behind the march, the Peoples Climate Movement, is Paul Getsos, who says, “We are a broad-based formation of over 50 organizations working with movements across the country to stop the Trump Administration’s and Congress’ attacks on our planet, people and communities. We demand an economy and government that works for all, clean air and water and a healthy environment. This administration must immediately stop attacks on communities of color and immigrant, Muslim, indigenous and LGBTQIA communities. We are marching from the Capital [sic] to the White House on his 100th day in office to show our resistance to the policies that favor the 1%, hastens climate change, poisons our water and air and harms our communities and people and then returning home to do the work of continuing to build this movement in every community across the country.”

The first Peoples Climate March was held on September 21, 2014 in New York City.

Getsos, described as a political strategist with his own consulting firm, was a contributor to the “Ear to the Ground Project” associated with the Freedom Road Socialist Organization. Another contributor was “former” communist and CNN analyst Van Jones.

One of their recommendations is to reach out beyond the far-left: “We need to identify a set of people who are our best communicators, and their role should be to hold down movement ideas, in a smart way, in public debates, online, on CNN, etc. Not just in ‘alternative’ or progressive media.” Another recommendation is, “Need more funny people turning our political ideas into widely distributed to large numbers of people. Political humor, satire, that can go viral and make a mass impact.”

Stephen Colbert is apparently not far-left enough for these characters.

Under the heading of “political formations,” leftists are told, “We need a new Left party. A united party for socialism. Not primarily an electoral vehicle. Should be explicitly anti-capitalist, a bridge between generations, training activists. An eye on the fight for people’s power. Without a hard left you have a weak middle. I don’t mean dogmatic, but it’s clear that capitalism does not have the answer to the world’s problems and we need a socialist alternative.”

However, billionaire Tom Steyer, president of NextGen Climate, is a big backer of the rally. “Tom founded a successful California business, which he left to work full-time on non-profit and advocacy efforts,” his bio says. In fact, he ran a financial hedge fund, Farallon Capital Management, which is considered to be on the cutting edge of the highest stage of capitalism, to use Marxist jargon. He sold his stake in the firm in 2012 and is now worth $1.6 billion. Forbes points out that he spent more than $65 million to back environmental causes and the Democratic Party in 2016. “Trump’s victory shocked him,” the magazine says, “Now Steyer, the founder of Farallon Capital and the environmental group NextGen Climate, is using his voice—and his wallet—to battle[the]  Trump administration.”

Like the hedge fund associated with George Soros, another billionaire backer of the “people’s revolution,” Farallon has specialized in managing equity capital “for high net worth individuals.”

It all sounds pretty capitalist to me.

Cliff Kincaid is the Director of the AIM Center for Investigative Journalism and can be contacted at cliff.kincaid@aim.org.

Protect and Defend the Constitution From Enemies, Foreign and Domestic

Protect and Defend the Constitution From Enemies, Foreign and Domestic

    Writing prior to the past presidential election that the selection of the Associate Justice of the Supreme Court to replace Justice Scalia was among the most important issues of the election, that assertion is now validated, again and again. America is under attack from enemies, foreign and domestic, on battlefields in our homeland and around the world. Under the guise of tolerance and political correctness, aided by the treasonous false propaganda of a media corrupted by the lies and deceptions emanating from educators not accountable to any standard of truth or justice; these traitors attack the ideological foundation of freedom and justice for all.

    Most egregious is the fact that those robed in black, bound by their oath of office, knowingly and willfully continue to violate that oath. It is now long past the time for Congress to uphold its oath of office and remove these judicial tyrants from the bar of justice.

CftC

Washington Update

Tony Perkins

 

The Seventh Circuit Stretch

April 05, 2017

    If Congress won’t rewrite the law, liberals will find a court who will! That’s been the M.O. of the Left for decades: packing the bench with wannabe legislators who’ll impose the agendas they could never pass democratically. It worked on school prayer, abortion, and marriage, as Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) bragged last year. Now, the Left is using the same playbook on the gender debate — knowing full well that it’s the only way they can force their vision on an unwilling America. Fortunately, there are some judges who agree with us that if the Left wants to change the definition of discrimination, it’s asking the wrong branch of government. Unfortunately, those judges aren’t in the majority on the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals. In a mind-boggling decision yesterday, the judges not only stole Congress’s job — they admitted they were doing it!

    For years, liberals have tried to pass legislation making “sexual orientation” a protected category under the Civil Rights Act — first with ENDA (the Employment Non-Discrimination Act) and then with the “Equality Act.” The House and Senate rejected them every time. They recognized, as we do, that sexual orientation wasn’t on the minds of legislators 53 years ago when it was trying to weed out prejudice — and more importantly, it wasn’t in the text of the law that passed! No bother, liberals said. We’ll just rewrite the policy through our activist courts.

And Tuesday, the 7th Circuit was more than willing to comply. “For many years,” Chief Judge Diane Wood admitted, “the courts of appeals of this country understood the prohibition against sex discrimination to exclude discrimination on the basis of a person’s sexual orientation.” So by her own admission, there’s absolutely no justification for rewriting the law. Still, she goes on, it’s the court’s responsibility to take a “fresh look” at its position. And in doing so, she writes, “we conclude today that discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation is a form of sex discrimination.”

The decision, an 8-3 bombshell, was astounding because it bucked — not just the 7th Circuit’s precedent, but every circuit’s precedent. Judge Diane Sykes was just as shocked as we are. “Any case heard by the full court is important,” she wrote in her dissent, “This one is momentous. All the more reason to pay careful attention to the limits on the court’s role… We are not authorized to infuse the text with a new or unconventional meaning or to update it to respond to changed social, economic, or political conditions.” In a powerful rebuke, she warns her colleagues that they’ve crossed into dangerous new territory.

    “Our role is to… [interpret] the statutory language as a reasonable person would have understood it at the time of enactment. When we assume the power to alter the original public meaning of a statute through the process of interpretation, we assume a power that is not ours. The Constitution assigns the power to make and amend statutory law to the elected representatives of the people. However welcome today’s decision might be as a policy matter, it comes at a great cost to representative self-government.”

    Translation: If you want to be a legislator, run for office! Stop “smuggling in” your own agenda, Sykes writes, “under cover of an aggressive reading of loosely related Supreme Court precedents.” Legislative change, she recognizes, “is arduous and can be slow to come. But we’re not authorized to amend Title VII by interpretation.” Despite what the Left would have you believe, impatience with Congress is no reason for throwing the separation of powers overboard! A panel of the 11th Circuit Court argued the same point in a similar case three weeks ago. Led by Judge William Pryor, they came to the opposite conclusion on the Civil Rights Act, upholding it the way it was written. Unlike Judge Wood, they understand that if liberals want to make the workplace an incubator of their radical agenda, they’ll have to persuade America the old fashioned way: democratically!

Of course, the backdrop for both decisions is the ongoing debate over Supreme Court pick Neil Gorsuch. Is it any wonder the knives are coming out for the president’s nominee? The 49-year-old has been adamant about respecting the court’s limited role. Trust me, that’s not what the Left wants to hear. They’re in the market for an undercover legislator. And if this case has illustrated anything, FRC’s Peter Sprigg points out, it’s “how important it is to appoint judges who understand their limited role in our constitutional system, who will exercise judicial restraint, and who will interpret both the Constitution and federal statutes in accordance with their original meaning.”

Tony Perkins’ Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.

Judicial Tyranny and the Failure of Congress

Judicial Tyranny and the Failure of Congress

    President Trump in trying to protect America has encountered the treason of protestors attempting to violently overthrow the duly elected government, usurping the fundamental civil rights of Americans. Begun in Ferguson, where criminals were allowed by a governor; failing to uphold his oath of office in protecting and defending the original intention of the Constitution of the State of Missouri and the Constitution of the United States; to rob, loot, burn property, and obstruct the access of innocent citizens to their homes and businesses.

    Not only is the rule and order of law at every level ignored, judicial tyranny unrestrained by failed legislatures has been permitted to violate the Constitution and ignore common sense. The Framers and Founders were fully cognizant of where tyranny or failure of any branch of government to check and balance each other would lead. Regarding judicial tyranny, Thomas Jefferson expressed the danger clearly.

    “In denying the right [the Supreme Court usurps] of exclusively explaining the Constitution, I go further than [others] do, if I understand rightly [this] quotation from the Federalist of an opinion that ‘the judiciary is the last resort in relation to the other departments of the government, but not in relation to the rights of the parties to the compact under which the judiciary is derived.’ If this opinion be sound, then indeed is our Constitution a complete felo de se [act of suicide]. For intending to establish three departments, coordinate and independent, that they might check and balance one another, it has given, according to this opinion, to one of them alone the right to prescribe rules for the government of the others, and to that one, too, which is unelected by and independent of the nation. For experience has already shown that the impeachment it has provided is not even a scare-crow . . . The Constitution on this hypothesis is a mere thing of wax in the hands of the judiciary, which they may twist and shape into any form they please.”  — Thomas Jefferson to Spencer Roane, 6 Sept. 1819,The Works of Thomas Jefferson. ed. P.L. Ford, Fed. Ed.12:135—38

    On other issues from immigration to protecting life, privacy, and preventing terrorism; enemies, foreign and domestic, are aided and abetted by politicans and a media completely ignoring or ignorant of the truths of science and history. On ideological grounds, the Framers established the Constitution as the overriding authority over the rule and order of man’s law in the American political jurisdiction. Itself based on immutable Law beyond human comprehension and capacity, it is Law indelibly inscribed on tablets of Truth. Only amendable by three-quarters of the established political authority, the Constitution is framed to address the ever-present repetitive failures of human behavior. Whether protected from the errors and failures of the public majority by the Electoral College, the election of Senators by the state legislatures, the intention of only direct taxes, and the other safeguards and protections incorporated after studying history in secret for three weeks before beginning deliberations, the Constitution places the primary responsibility for its protection on Congress.

After undergoing and suffering the tragedy of our great Civil War, the belief in an absolute of law became eroded. Asking the question, as to “How God . . .”, until then accepted as the Source of all, – truth, the natural order, emotion, immutable Law, etc., presumed until then as having a character of being loving and just, “ . . . could countenance such horror?”, the false religions of humanism spewed forth the lies and deceptions separating all its congregants from the Truth endowing “Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness”.

The judiciary led the charge in the attack on America. From Langdon, to C.E. Hughes, Jr., and on to the traitors, robed ominously in black today, Congress has failed in upholding its oath of office to protect and defend the Constitution from “all enemies, foreign and domestic”. As it did in the Judiciary Act of 1789, in the first Congress, in the City Hall of New York, as with the Bill of Rights, followed by subsequent Judiciary Acts until after 1891, Congress had exercised its Constitutional authority over all the Federal judiciary including the Supreme Court. Insidiously eroding and corrupting our freedom by judicial tyranny, Americans are shackled with injustices defying even common sense and reason.

Impacted by the consequences of a judiciary being unchecked by Congress, this Committee for the Constitution, in numerous articles, called for Congress to accept its Constitutional responsibility in regulating the unbridled tyranny of judicial activism. Until the recent election displayed the intention of the people to “drain the swamp” eliminating the corruption and injustice of government ruled by a political establishment, lawyers loyal to the politics of a bar excluding truth and reality ruled untouched by Congressional oversight and “justice for all”.

Time is long overdue for Congress to rein in the tyranny and violation of the original intention of the Constitution with a new Judiciary Act modeled after the ones proposed by this Committee for the Constitution. Regardless of what anyone or any entity; be it politicians at any level of government, in any jurisdiction; corporations unjustly eliminating free enterprise and/or free just competition through unbridled capitalism; those fomenting civil unrest and crimes violating fundamental civil rights; to those disseminating the lies and deceptions attending the religions of humanism in the guise of political correctness; chooses to believe, only Truth defines reality.

CftC

The Judiciary Act of 2017

    An Act to regulate the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court and all inferior Courts of the United States brought under the authority of Article III, Section 2, Paragraph 2, Sentence 2, of the Constitution of the United States of America as amended.

Be it enacted:

Article I

States

Section 1. That the Supreme Court of the United States shall not exercise final authority over the interpretation of the original intention of the Constitution of the United States.

Section 2. That such final authority to determine the original intention of the Constitution rests solely with Congress of the United States fully assembled according to a three-fourths majority of both Houses concurring with the President of the United States.

Section 3. That upon passage of any judgement by Congress and signature by the President brought under this Section, one-third of the several States concurring by action of their governors may require ratification of such a judgement brought under this Section by three-quarters of the legislatures of the States concurring.

Section 4. That no Court in the United States shall have any jurisdiction over any law passed by any legislature of the United States and signed into law by the governor of the said state except where such jurisdiction is specifically and explicitly granted by the Constitution of the United States or the Constitution of the said State.

Section 5. That any question of constitutionality of any law of any state or any question of the Constitutional intention relative to any decision of the Supreme Court of the United States may only be decided by petition of one or more state legislatures to the Congress of the United States fully assembled, and further any such question may only be adjudicated by not less than a three-fourths majority of both the Senate and the House of Representatives concurring.

Section 6. That absent concurrence and decision of both houses of the Congress of the United States, the original intention of the state Constitution determined by the legislative history of that state’s Constitution and any Amendments shall control.

 Article II

Citizens

Section 1. That on appeal from any decision of the Supreme Court of the United States regarding the interpretation of the Constitution of the United States as amended, either party, or on appeal from a number of citizens authorized by the legislature(s) of the respective States from at least three-fourths of the States of the United States, or any state legislature, or the Attorney-General of the United States, regarding any matter of Constitutional intent, either the House of Representatives or the Senate, each fully assembled by majority of those present may vote to hear or deny such an appeal.

Section 2. That having voted to hear such an appeal, both houses of Congress shall appoint a select committee for each to study the complete, available, public record relative to the issue or question at hand, and then report their findings to each house.

Section 3. That having heard the findings the said committees assembled under Article II, Section 2 of this Act, each house with three-fourths of its total membership, both affirming their intention regarding the meaning of the Constitution, shall forward their declaration of meaning so ascribed to each provision of the supreme law to the President of the United States for his concurrence or rejection.

Section 4. That those provisions or meanings so declared by Congress to which the President has affixed his signature shall have the same full force and effect as the supreme law of the land.

Section 5. That if the President shall veto any provision, meaning, or interpretation of Congress as to the original intention of the Constitution as submitted to him, Congress shall submit the judgment of Congress relative to the cause brought under this Article II for ratification by three-quarters of the legislatures of the States concurring.

Section 6. That absent or pending any ratification, while awaiting any process of appeal from the Supreme Court to the Congress, or while awaiting any action denying any appeal to Congress, any appeal shall provide immediate injunctive relief staying any judicial determination.

Article III

Amendment

                That henceforth, this Judiciary Act of 2017, may only be amended by a concurrent vote of three-quarters of the total membership of both houses of Congress, all other acts, rules, procedures, and provisions of each house excluded.

Presidential Protestors Don’t Understand America

Presidential Protestors Don’t Understand America

David Barton

    The Inauguration of Donald Trump was remarkable in many ways, not the least of which was that six different individuals offered prayers, with four of those prayers ending in Jesus’ name and the other two openly quoting from the Bible. Clearly absent was the typical government-mandated politically-correct prayer. Ministers were once again allowed to pray according to the dictates of their own conscience, as originally intended by the US Constitution.

Another unique feature of his Inauguration was the large number of protesters present. Most were Millennials, and while some focused on single subjects (e.g., immigration, global warming, Obamacare) others were still protesting the general election results. Among the latter group, a common protest sign was, “Trump is not my president.” But that statement says more about our education system than it does about those who held the signs. It affirms the failure of American education in four areas: American history, government, Constitution, and truth.

First, the sign was intended to express their outrage over the fact that Hillary won the popular vote by 2.9 million votes (out of 128.8 million cast) but lost the presidency—an outcome they believed was unprecedented in the history of American elections. Only it wasn’t. The identical thing has happened in several other presidential elections. Shame on schools for not teaching basic American history and why such outcomes occur.

Second, the message on the sign was rooted in the protestors’ mistaken belief that America is a democracy. But we are not. Those who formed our government hated democracies and wisely protected us from them. For example, James Madison affirmed that “democracies have ever been spectacles of turbulence and contention [and] incompatible with personal security or the rights of property.” Founder Fisher Ames warned, “A democracy is a volcano which conceals the fiery materials of its own destruction,” and John Adams lamented that democracy “never lasts long….There never was a democracy yet that did not commit suicide.” For thousands of years, democracies have consistently proved to be a source of lurking disaster—an unpredictable form of government where passions and selfishness are allowed to prevail over reason and deliberation. America was therefore established as a constitutional republic—what John Adams described as “a government of laws and not of men.” Shame on schools for not teaching basic American government.

Third, the “Trump is not my president” sign affirmed their unawareness of how presidents are to be elected according to the Constitution—an election process that mirrors our federal bicameral system. For example, Wyoming has half-a-million citizens, but California has 39 million. So in the US House, Wyoming gets only one Congressman while California gets fifty-three, and California will beat Wyoming on every vote in the House. The popular vote of the House will always prevail in that chamber. But in the Senate, California gets only two Senators—the same as Wyoming; the representation is solely by state, and every state has equal voting strength with all others. This is a prominent feature in our federal system. A bill is not passed merely by the House, which reflects the popular vote; it also must be passed in the Senate, which reflects the vote by states.

The protesters believe that only the national popular vote matters (which Hillary won—barely). But even though she garnered the votes of most of the largest cities in America, she did not win the majority of the states, cities, or counties. In fact, Trump won 30 of the 50 states, more than 80 percent of America’s 3,141 counties, and an equally lop-sided percentage of its 35,000 cities. The protestors were unaware (as are most Americans) that the Constitution establishes an election system that balances diverse measurements. Shame on schools for not teaching the Constitution.

Finally, the declaration that “Trump is not my president” establishes personal opinion as the ultimate measure of right and wrong—that truth is whatever I believe or declare it to be. (Polling today shows that two of three Americans believe that there are no moral absolutes—that every individual is his own arbiter of what is right and wrong, or moral.) But the problem with this is that there are absolutes. Jump off the Empire State Building and see what happens. On the way down you may personally object to what is happening, or be offended by it, or even vehemently disagree with it, but none of that will change the results. There is no alternate reality. None. Shame on schools for teaching students to elevate personal opinion above absolute facts.

It’s time that Americans demand that their schools once again teach American history (so students know that the popular vote winner does not always win the presidential election), American government (so they know we are a republic and not a democracy), the Constitution (so they understand our bicameral federal and election system), and absolute truth (that personal opinion must submit to truth and reality). If we don’t make these changes, we will not want to imagine, much less experience, the horrifying results from Abraham Lincoln’s warning that “The philosophy of the schoolroom in one generation will be the philosophy of government in the next.” God help America if citizens don’t act to change our schools.

 

Protestors and Property Rights – McDowell

Protestors and Property Rights

Stephen McDowell

 

Many people have been protesting the election and inauguration of Donald Trump to the Presidency. Some of these protests have been accompanied with attacks on innocent people and destruction of private property, including breaking windows, looting businesses, and setting cars on fire. Some of these anarchists have sought to justify this destruction by claiming their actions were no different than early Americans, much like the Boston Tea Party (see picture). But such a comparison reveals their ignorance of America history. Let’s look at what caused the Boston Tea Party.

Boston Tea Party

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In 1765 King George III and Parliament passed the Stamp Act as a means to raise money from the American colonists to help pay for the French and Indian War. While the colonists were glad to pay for their defense, the Stamp Act imposed taxes upon them without the approval of their elected governing officials. The English government had never before imposed taxes upon the colonists without their consent.

The colonists were men of principle. One foundational Biblical idea upon which they lived and built America was the principle of property. They understood God gives individuals the right to own and govern property so they can fulfill His purposes on earth. They knew that if anyone could take their property without their consent, then they would not really own any property. They believed a primary purpose of government was to protect citizens’ property, but if their government plundered their property instead of protecting it, then it was their duty to act.[1]

Many of the colonies’ elected officials resisted the King’s unjust attempt to undermine their God-given rights. As a result, the Stamp Act was repealed. However, the belief of the English government to tax the colonies without their consent continued with the Townsend Act in 1767 and the Tea Act in 1773. With a tax on tea, the colonists refused to buy English tea and so it began to pile up in warehouses in England. Merchants petitioned the Parliament to do something. Parliament’s response was to vote to subsidize the tea and make it cheap, thinking the colonists would then buy it. Benjamin Franklin said:

They have no idea that any people can act from any other principle but that of interest; and they believe that three pence on a pound of tea, of which one does not perhaps drink ten pounds in a year, is sufficient to overcome all the patriotism of an American.[2]

Unfortunately, this may be enough to overcome the patriotism of many Americans today, though thankfully not then. The colonists were motivated by principles, not money. The attempt of England to tax them without their consent violated the principle of property. The Americans refused to buy the tea even though it was cheap.

When the King decided to send the tea and make the colonists purchase it, patriots in the major shipping ports held town meetings to decide what to do when the tea arrived. When the ships arrived in Boston, the patriots put a guard at the docks to prevent the tea from being unloaded. Almost 7000 people gathered at the Old South Meeting House to hear from Mr. Rotch, the owner of the ships. He explained that if he attempted to sail from Boston without unloading the tea, his life and business would be in danger, for the British said they would confiscate his ships unless the tea was unloaded by a certain date. The colonists decided, therefore, that in order to protect Mr. Rotch, they must accept the tea, but they would not have to drink it! By accepting the shipment they were agreeing to pay for it, but they would make a radical sacrifice in order to protest this injustice before the eyes of the world. Thus ensued the “Boston Tea Party.”

The men disguised themselves as Indians, not to implicate the Indians but to protect the identity of any one individual. They would all stand together as culprits. Historian Richard Frothingham records the incident:

The party in disguise…whooping like Indians, went on board the vessels, and, warning their officers and those of the customhouse to keep out of the way, unlaid the hatches, hoisted the chests of tea on deck, cut them open, and hove the tea overboard. They proved quiet and systematic workers. No one interfered with them. No other property was injured; no person was harmed; no tea was allowed to be carried away; and the silence of the crowd on shore was such that the breaking of the chests was distinctly heard by them. “The whole,” [Governor] Hutchinson wrote, “was done with very little tumult.[3]

Unlike modern protestors who wantonly destroy property and claim it is in line with the American tradition to resist, the original tea party colonists were actually preserving private property rights (those of Mr. Rotch and the owners of the property on the ships, as well as of the colonists at large) while they protested the tyrannical action of the King. It was a masterful and principled response to a seemingly impossible situation.

Jefferson prayer, 1774
Virginia House of Burgesses

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Boston Port Bill

When the King got word of what the colonists had done, you might say he was “tead off.” The English government responded by passing the Boston Port Bill, which closed the port of Boston and was intended to shut down all commerce on June 1st and starve the townspeople into submission. Committees of Correspondence spread the news by letter throughout all the colonies. The colonies began to respond. Massachusetts, Connecticut and Virginia called for days of fasting and prayer. Thomas Jefferson penned the resolve in Virginia “to implore the divine Interposition…to give us one Heart and one Mind firmly to oppose, by all just and proper Means, every injury to American Rights.”[4]

Frothingham writes of the day the Port Act went into effect:

The day was widely observed as a day of fasting and prayer. The manifestations of sympathy were general. Business was suspended. Bells were muffled, and tolled from morning to night; flags were kept at halfmast; streets were dressed in mourning; public buildings and shops were draped in black; large congregations filled the churches.

In Virginia the members of the House of Burgesses assembled at their place of meeting; went in procession, with the speaker at their head, to the church and listened to a discourse. “Never,” a lady wrote, “since my residence in Virginia have I seen so large a congregation as was this day assembled to hear divine service.” The preacher selected for his text the words: “be strong and of good courage, fear not, nor be afraid of them; for the Lord thy God, He it is that doth go with thee. He will not fail thee nor forsake thee.” “The people,” Jefferson says, “met generally, with anxiety and alarm in their countenances; and the effect of the day, through the whole colony, was like a shock of electricity, arousing every man and placing him erect and solidly on his centre.” These words describe the effect of the Port Act throughout the thirteen colonies.[5]

The colonies responded with material support as well, obtained, not by governmental decree but, more significantly, by individual action. A grassroots movement of zealous workers went door to door to gather patriotic offerings. These gifts were sent to Boston accompanied with letters of support. Out of the diversity of the colonies, a deep Christian unity was being revealed on a national level. John Adams spoke of the miraculous nature of this union: “Thirteen clocks were made to strike together, a perfection of mechanism which no artist had ever before effected.”[6]

Here we see an excellent historical example of the principle of Christian union. The external union of the colonies came about due to an internal unity of ideas and principles that had been sown in the hearts of the American people by the families and churches. Our national motto reflects this Christian union: E Pluribus Unum (one from the many).

The true story of the Boston Tea Party reveals that America was birthed by God-fearing, Biblically thinking people, and that Christianity provided the principles underlying the United States of America. If our schools taught American history accurately, modern liberals would much less likely attempt to justify their anarchy by saying they are only doing what our founders did. In fact, if we taught our true history, they might never have become the secular progressives they are today, but would, like our founders, become Biblically principled citizens who know how to live in liberty.

[1] To learn more about the principle of property see Mark Beliles and Stephen McDowell, America’s Providential History, Charlottesville: Providence Foundation, 1989, pp. 210-211, and Stephen McDowell, The Economy from a Biblical Perspective, Charlottesville: Providence Foundation, 2009, pp. 9-13.

[2] Verna Hall, The Christian History of the Constitution of the United States of America, San Francisco: Foundation of American Christian Education, 1980, p. 328.

[3] Beliles and McDowell, America’s Providential History, p. 131.

[4] Ibid., p. 131.

[5] Ibid, p. 131-132.

[6] The Patriots, Virginius Dabney, editor, New York: Atheneum, 1975, p. 7.

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