Writing on the Double Yellow Line

Militant moderate, unwilling to concede any longer the terms of debate to the strident ideologues on the fringe. If you are a Democrat or a Republican, you're an ideologue. If you're a "moderate" who votes a nearly straight party-ticket, you're still an ideologue, but you at least have the decency to be ashamed of your ideology. ...and you're lying in the meantime.

Location: Illinois, United States

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Constitutional Rights, Inc.

Constitutional Rights, Inc.
©2013  Ross Williams

One of the libertarian-esque groups I pay attention to is called The Tenth Amendment Center.  ...and I say “-esque” because they, like so many other clusters of libertarians you run across from time to time, aren’t really libertarian.  *I* am a libertarian.  They are ideological nitwits who see only those portions of the Constitution they wish to see.  In so doing, they are no better or worse … or different … from any idiot liberal or constipated conservative.

Like liberals and conservatives, libertarians believe they own the Constitution, or at least have a uniquely intimate and cuddly relationship with it that they and they alone are the vessels through which Thos. Jefferson, Ja. Madison, and Geo. Mason all whisper their advice and consent.  They aren’t; they can put the burning bush away.

They are simply another flavor of self-important boob willing to be dishonest in public and without shame.

To be fair, they aren’t dishonest, or even incorrect, about a lot of what they yammer upon.  For example, and in no particular order, they are correct that the United States was itself an afterthought … it was created by the original 13 states, and it has only those powers and authorities that the states gave to it, as written into the Constitution.  …and those powers and authorities are not many, as the Constitution is a very short document.

They are correct that among the powers and authorities still vested in the several states is the ability to pass state laws which inform Congress and the President that one or both of them have exceeded their own powers, and that one or another federal law or edict shall not be enforceable within the state which passed their own law about it.  This is called “nullification”, and it’s been used at various points in American history to convince Congress that it really needs to sit down and shut up from time to time.

They are also very correct that nullification hasn’t been used anywhere near enough, as Congress almost never sits down and shuts up.

They are correct, in all honesty, about most of what they espouse; the government they advocate is among the closest to the government we were promised out of the many, many political haranguements in existence.  But they fall victim to the same failure of ego that so many do; they cannot tell the difference between their desire and the reality they must [and refuse to] acknowledge.

Included in the reality that these faux-libertarians deny is that the Constitution they love to revere does not read the way they want it to, the way they need it to, the way they hallucinate it to.  These pseudo-libertarians prattle on and on about “incorporation”, and how wrong it is.  They denounce the concept as just one of many failures of Reconstruction.

But here’s the thing: they’re wrong.  Oh, they may have a good argument that Reconstruction was a bad idea to begin with, pinioned wholly upon retribution – which never makes for good social policy; they may have a good argument that one or another of the legislative enactments of the period are wrong-headed, counter-productive and inherently divisive.  But they cannot argue that these legislative enactments, and particularly the Fourteenth Amendment, do not exist, and do not say what they say.

Yet they do.  These faux-libertarians, like so many others I gripe about, are “original intent”-ists.  Their version of the Constitution is unchanged since being originally passed and amended by the Bill of Rights, before 1800.  They don’t recognize the validity of much that has legitimately transpired since then.  They are living 210 years in the political past.

This leads to some very interesting conversations with them.  There’s a large cadre of pseudo-libertarian which insists that the IRS is a criminal outfit – and they have believed so long before Obama’s IRS singled out Tea Party groups for the thumbscrews.  Income taxes are not allowed in this country, they will scream; the body of the Constitution prohibits capitation taxes!!!  Yet the 16thAM, passed in 1913, very clearly allows the US government to create a tax on income.

That’s what the amendment process does: it changes the Constitution from what it was to what we Americans want it to be going forward – even if we are too stupid to comprehend the ramifications of it, and I’m thinking Direct Election of Senators, here.  The 16thAM supersedes those parts of the Constitution which prohibit capitation taxes.  You don’t need to like it, but you need to deal with it … and deal with it honestly.

The original Constitution did not give the US government the ability to strike down state laws which would deny a resident of, say, Colorado his right to keep and bear arms, or other such constitutional rights.  Colorado could – as they recently did – pass a law banning private ownership of firearms.  The original Constitution, amended only to the Tenth Amendment, would have been powerless to tell Colorado that they could not pass, or enforce after passing, such a law.  What good is the 2ndAM if it can be taken away two rungs down the governmental ladder?

But the 14thAM declares that each citizen of any state is also a citizen of the United States, and may not have his constitutional rights abridged by any state through its own laws.  This is ”incorporation”.  The states were “incorporated” into the federal concept of rights-possession.  And this is what these faux-libertarians don’t like; it gives the federal government one more thin slice of power.

Their argument goes, “The original Constitution did not give that power to the US government, therefore the 14thAM does not do so.”  Their alternate argument is that the 14thAM is simply wrong to do so.  They are, in effect, arguing that the 14thAM does not say what it says or, when they’re forced to concede it says this, that it is null and void.  The feds weren’t intended to be able to force their will upon states – even if it is for a good cause.  That’s why it was amended, dopes, for the express purpose of giving that power to the feds … in order, in part, to prevent states from reinstituting slavery on a state level when it was prohibited on a national level.

I have almost nothing kind to say about idiot liberals, and I enjoy saying it as often as possible.  But when liberals are correct, they’re correct.  One of the very [very, very, VERY] few things liberals are correct about is that this type of faux-libertarian looks, smells, walks and talks like a crypto-slaver.  They wish to reimpose slavery on the nation – because it was in the original design; original design is all-important.

Liberals have a pretty good argument to support this, even though it is largely circumstantial, and based mostly on filling in the blanks of dishonesty these pseudo-libertarians have left in their political ideology.  If the 14thAM is null and void because false libertarians don’t want to concede even the smallest bit of authority added to the federal sphere, then why isn’t the 13thAM and its prohibition of slavery also null and void?  It is also a new federal power – the power to prohibit slave-holding.  They were both Reconstruction-era legislations, the same Reconstruction that is often viewed by these non-libertarians as built entirely out of pound-of-flesh retribution.

Indeed, to claim that the 13thAM is valid while the 14thAM is not is grade-A hypocrisy.  But you can’t get a single faux-libertarian to discuss this subject – no one wants to be seen as supporting the re-slaving of America.  They don’t want to be hoisted on their own petard.

And I can’t really blame them.  I can only imagine how it must feel to yack so endlessly – and vapidly – on a subject so critical to one’s own being and to be found, publically, notoriously, so full of shit.  But that’s what happens when you confuse your desire with reality.

As a result, they’ve constructed a whole house of cards around the notion that the 14thAM is a vacant addendum to the Constitution, while ignoring the 13thAM, and they vacuously sneer at anyone who corrects them.  The primary result is that they feed the conspiracy theorists on the left who believe that Constitutionalism is built around the reintroduction of slavery.  And, while it isn’t, not by a long-shot, you’d never know it by listening to faux-libertarians promoting their peculiar brand of selective politics.

It doesn’t matter that the courts themselves took two generations to read the 14thAM for themselves – which is one of the many arguments made against it once the false-libertarian is forced to concede that the 14thAm says what it says.  If ‘incorporation’ was the purpose of the 14thAm, then why was it 50 years before the courts ruled it that way?  Gosh … dunno … why was it 160 years before blacks were seen by the courts as not being less-equal than whites? … and 80 years after the Constitution was amended to specifically say so? why was it 180 years before the courts ruled that the government doesn’t have the authority to interfere with abortions?  – and they didn’t state it correctly in any event.  Why do courts STILL have no clue what the 10thAM says after 220 some-odd years, so that it requires a grass-roots political activism group of faux-libertarians to remind everyone about it?

Courts are populated by political hacks with law degrees willing to prostitute their legal integrity to the first political –ism who will give them a lifetime job in a black robe.  Very few of these judges, individually, have any concept about limitation of government power, either voluntarily, or imposed from above or below.  I can’t believe I have to remind the watchdogs of federal power-whoring about this.  It’s their own argument that they conveniently forget when the subject becomes “incorporation”.

So how about this, dingbats: accept that the Constitution says what it says, even those parts you don’t like, and concede that even though you don’t like those parts of the Constitution that give the feds more power, at least the Constitution actually saying it is a far cry better than how most federal power is collected: by black-robed ninnies refusing to do their job by telling Congress to sit down and shut up.

Can you be fine with that?

I am.  But then … I’ve read, and understood, the whole Constitution, not simply those parts which conform to my desires.