Archive for the ‘Constitution’ Category


By John F. Di Leo –

Reflections on big city life on Bastille Day…

Every year on July 14, the French celebrate Bastille Day, the beginning of the end for the Bourbon monarchy, and, ostensibly, the rise of the power of the people.

Even here in the United States, an ocean away, with only the slightest connection to the French people and culture, we enjoy the day as an unofficial holiday. We drink French wine, enjoy brie and crackers, and sing Le Marseillaise(in the original French, of course).  It’s an excuse for a sale, for a party, for a festival.  As long as we don’t dig too deep.

But when we do dig deep… when we do take a moment to think about what happened to France in the 1790s… we cannot help feeling the horror of an age in which a city lost control to madness… and if we dig just a bit deeper, we may find painful similarities to our own time and place.

The Storming of the Bastille

There was a time when the story of the Storming of the Bastille was well known in the United States. A century ago, Americans grew up reading Edmund Burke’s contemporary account, “Reflections on the Revolution in France,” or the later masterpiece by Thomas Carlyle, “The French Revolution, A History.”  Or at least the wonderful Charles Dickens novel, “A Tale of Two Cities.”

But time has passed, and history has fallen out of favor, so all that we know is the romanticized version: The people of Paris, furious at political oppression and poverty, stormed the prison that held so many innocent political prisoners, starting the movement that freed them from despotism and opened the gates to liberty and equality for all.

Sadly, the facts tell a different story.

In truth, a gradual easing of absolute monarchy had already begun under the good king Louis XVI. He wasn’t perfect, but he clearly meant well.  He had convened the Assembly of Notables in 1787, and well-intentioned, thoughtful people, including such lights of the Enlightenment as the Marquis de Lafayette, were meeting to study gradual changes to improve life in France.

But the mob rose in 1789, and destroyed such visions of a calm and peaceful change. They lay siege to the Bastille, long the most famous and imposing prison in France, until the crowd of about a thousand rioters eventually stormed the place on July 14, 1879, murdering the warden and many of his guards, and freeing all those political prisoners.

How many were there?


At the time of the Storming of the Bastille, the old prison was largely unused. Because of its lousy conditions (yes, that’s the right adjective; the old place was infested with vermin), they didn’t keep prisoners there long, usually just a few months at most.

There were seven inmates on that fateful day: four convicted forgers, a sexual predator, and two very confused old lunatics.   Think, for a moment, of what was built on the foundation of freeing these seven prisoners:

A hundred attackers and a number of the guards died in the assault on July 14, and revolutionary reputations were built. Heads were displayed on pikes, and the streets ran red with blood for years.

In the years to come, what might have been a gradual and peaceful transformation, from unlimited monarchy to a British-style government of figurehead king and elected parliament, was stillborn.

Because of Bastille Day, hundreds of thousands of Frenchmen were killed in the terrors to come, and a generation of promise was squandered. All because the rabble-rousers (among them, the Marquis de Sade, of all people!) had whipped the crowd into a frenzy, lying about the nature of the prison and its prisoners, lying about the problems France faced, lying about the intentions of the mob’s leaders, who wanted nothing more than to take power for their own benefit, to get revenge for imagined slights, and to wield the awesome powers of public opinion and the guillotine for their own warped ends.

Is this really, truly, anything for 21st Century Americans to celebrate?

21st Century America

We have similar problems in America today.

The problems of history, in fact, are almost unchanging… crime, poverty, illiteracy, disease, sadness, mental illness, starvation. Every country suffers them, and every government is tasked with finding the best way to alleviate them.

In 1780s France, the King had convened an Assembly to work on the problem, but people lost their patience. This is understandable, of course… when you’re starving in the summer or freezing in the winter, being told that men in suits in a fancy hall across town “are working on it” can’t be terribly satisfying.

But the fact remains that some problems take time to solve. Time, and thoughtful study, and, frankly, capitalism.

The only true solution for poverty is the creation of wealth, and that can only happen with economic freedom. The United States were suffering a terrible depression at the same time the French were, but we solved our problem with a Constitutional Convention and the empowerment of Alexander Hamilton as Secretary of the Treasury; he built an economic model from whole cloth, and America’s path to prosperity was begun.   The French didn’t have such patience; they chose violence over discussion, mass executions over economic and political freedom.

Today, we see rabble-rousers in America as well.

  • The Class Envy orators of the Bernie Sanders and John Edwards stripes, who tell the poor that they can be wealthy if only they steal from those who are wealthy already.
  • The Race-Hustlers of the NAACP and BLM crowd, who turn the victims of crime against the police who try to protect them.
  • The Free Stuff crowd of the Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton brand, who give away checks and SNAP cards, cellphones and college tuition, funded by a government’s printing press, uncaring that future generations will work their entire lives to pay for today’s largesse.
  • The Tax-and-Spenders of the Illinois variety – Speaker Mike Madigan, Mayor Rahm Emanuel, County Board President Toni Preckwinkle – who raise taxes to pay for outrageous spending, taxes that drive taxpayers out of the state at an unprecedented rate, causing a spiral requiring ever-higher taxes, in a fruitless attempt to get ahead of the problem as the people flee.

They don’t look like the rabble-rousers we envision, of course. But that’s because the mob and its spokesmen have never dressed the same.  Robespierre, Danton, Babeuf and Barere all wore suits, dressing every bit as well as the honorable leaders they supplanted at the head of state.  The Paris Mob may have been a shabby bunch of thieves and thugs, but their representatives, haranguing away at the podium of the Assembly, sending innocents off to the guillotines by the thousands, were dashing and professional.  Nobody would ever look at a Robespierre or Barere and think “thug”… but then, looks have always been deceiving.

Today, we see Madigan, Preckwinkle and Madigan – or their national colleagues, Sharpton, Schumer and Pelosi – wearing their business suits, speaking at podiums and facing questions on television, and we don’t think of a bloody revolution.

But what are the policies they advocate? And who backs them in their efforts?

It’s the George Soros funded groups – Organizing for America,, Black Lives Matter, and the Occupy crowd. They march in the streets and make demands, while their representatives  on the political scene enact their policies.

Who are the leaders, and who are the followers? Hard to say.  Does Occupy drive Pelosi’s policies, or does Pelosi drive Occupy’s choice of chants?  Worth noting, though, that George Soros funds them both.

The Policies of 2016

In the 2016 political campaigns, we saw an amazing array of political positions, many of which were printed in plain sight on candidate websites, but never even covered by the media.

The Clinton/Kaine campaign promised massive tax increases… it promised to reduce prison sentences and even turn the wheels of government against the criminal justice system, limiting the way that police can help a community terrorized by robbers, rapists and killers. The Clinton/Kaine campaign promised to legalize the entry of criminal illegal aliens, to reward sanctuary cities for flouting federal immigration law, to partner with gang leaders in our inner cities instead of incarcerating them.

This is the modern Democratic Party – a voice for mob rule, for turning the prisons inside-out and flooding the nation with known criminals. What does that do, in the end?  It drives employment out of our cities, making the residents ever more dependent on welfare, on government housing, government healthcare, government checks.  Because that’s how they like their subjects: dependent and afraid.

This country is on a precipice. The President supports the necessary reforms to our criminal justice system, our business system, our schools and agencies, to bring back the days of free market economics to America.  The President’s policies are the policies of Reagan, of Coolidge, of McKinley, of Washington and Hamilton.  With those policies, we could again have safe streets, career opportunities, a chance for prosperity for everyone, even those at the most dependent level in our inner cities.

But the Mob rules in our cities, and – thanks to vote fraud, gerrymandering, and their allies in the mass media – bears a disproportionate influence in our state and national legislatures.

The Mob is opposed to the gradual positive change afforded by free market economics. The Mob parades on bridges and at city parks, at Daley Plaza and Lafayette Square, cheering the demagogues of the modern American Left, calling for food stamps and the emptying of prisons, even dancing perilously close to calls for assassination.  The French Revolution lives on in the wicked hearts of Organizing for Action and its allies in nonprofits and capitol hill cocktail parties alike.

Look at Chicago, Cook County, and the state of Illinois. Bankrupted by welfare obligations, they advocate policies that will drive more people into poverty, increasing the need for such help. Terrorized by muggers, shooters, drug dealers, and rapists, they insist on a revolving door in our jails so that the criminals return to commit ever more crimes, again and again.

And these leaders of our troubled cities insist on welcoming in even more competitors for scarce jobs, more dependents and more criminals, by declaring Sanctuary City status, inviting so-called refugees and foreign gang members from all over the world for the easy pickings of Chicago, Detroit, Cleveland, and dozens of other cities across the land.

Celebrate Bastille Day, on July 14, you say?

There’s no need. In the cities of modern America, every day is Bastille Day.

Copyright 2017 John F. Di Leo

John F. Di Leo is a Chicagoland-based writer, actor, and international trade lecturer. Being Irish, Italian, Austrian, and Scots-Irish, he has no French blood at all, to the best of his knowledge. 

Illegals Hold Protest Against Deportation – Then Are Immediately Detained by ICE

Then were quickly detained by ICE.
Daniela Vargas, and her father and brother were detained after the rally.

From The Gateway Pundit

It’s called borders.
The Clarion Ledger reported:

Moments after an immigrant spoke out about her fears of deportation, she was detained by Immigrations and Customs Enforcement.

Daniela Vargas, 22, was detained by ICE agents Wednesday morning, shortly after speaking at a news conference in downtown Jackson, according to her attorney, Abby Peterson.

The news conference was hosted by local immigration attorneys, churches and the Mississippi Immigrants Rights Alliance to bring attention to families impacted by deportation.

Vargas’ brother and father were detained outside their home by ICE agents in February. Vargas hid in the closet. When she was discovered by agents, she was temporarily handcuffed and then released.

Vargas was 7 years old when her family came to America from Argentina, placing her under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, immigration policy. Under the policy, DACA recipients have to reapply every two years. Vargas’ DACA is expired but her renewal application is pending.

Peterson said she told agents via telephone Vargas had a pending DACA case. However, agents reportedly told Peterson that Vargas was a “visa overstay” and will be detained.

La dreamer Daniela Vargas es detenida por ICE en Mississippi, poco luego de denunciar redadas en una rueda de prensa

A Parallel Universe Without Progressives 

An astrophysicist, Ranga-Ram Chary at the European Space Agency’s Planck Space Telescope data center at CalTech says he may have found evidence of alternate or parallel universes by looking back in time to just after the Big Bang more than thirteen billion years ago.

Then there is always the possible parallel universe of dark matter. As researchers learn more about dark matter’s complexities, it seems possible that our galaxy lives on top of a shadow galaxy without us even knowing it.

I have often heard it said the universe is so large that anything we can imagine exists somewhere.  Taking that as a starting point for a flight of fancy, let’s imagine a parallel universe without Progressives.

We wouldn’t have had the 16th amendment.  Therefore we would still have a land without personal income tax and the Federal Government would have lived on fees and tariffs as it always did before the Progressives secured a source of money large enough to spend us into oblivion.

We wouldn’t have had the 17th amendment and the senators would still be selected by the State legislators.  This was one of the checks and balances the Founders embedded in the original Constitution to protect the federal nature of the Federal Government.  The House represents the people and the Senate was supposed to represent the States.

We wouldn’t have had The Creature from Jekyll Island, the Federal Reserve System, and America’s representative of the international banking cartel.  Without the Fed to mismanage the money supply there would never have been the banking crisis of the early 1930s.  This is crisis that set the stage for the re-boot of America’s free economy as a centrally-planned command and control machine used to transform every sector of American life.

We wouldn’t have had Woodrow Wilson to take us into the War to End all Wars that ended up building up the three largest empires in the world and setting the stage of WWII.

We wouldn’t have had FDR to impose fascist economic forms on America extending what would have been a recession into the Great Depression.

We wouldn’t have had JFK to lose his nerve in 1961.  Thus the Castro brothers and their murderous savagery would have fallen with the successful Bay of Pigs invasion.

We wouldn’t have had LBJ to build a Great Society safety net that has become a hammock entrapping uncounted millions and generations in the snare of dependency.

We wouldn’t have had BHO to fundamentally transform America into a falling empire and a soon to be third world backwater.

And we wouldn’t have HRC campaigning for president as Mrs. Santa Clause promising to give everyone who doesn’t work everything they want while she seeks to take the Second Amendment from the rest of us.

Think about this; look at how our government treats citizens now as taxing units or dependent voting units and we are armed to the teeth.  Imagine how they will treat us once we are disarmed.  Many believe the Second Amendment makes all the others possible.

Just imagine a parallel universe without Progressives.  It’s easy if you try.

Dr. Owens teaches History, Political Science, and Religion.  He is the Historian of the Future @ © 2016 Contact Dr. Owens  Follow Dr. Robert Owens on Facebook or Twitter @ Drrobertowens / Edited by Dr. Rosalie Owens

The Solutions to Our Broken Institutions Are In the Constitution

America is facing a crisis.  As a matter of fact we are in such a constant state of crisis that I should be using the plural crises but that sounds silly and looks improbable.  As do the policies which have pushed us to this point.

  • Open borders erase what being an American means.
  • Strangulation regulation that prohibit growth and punish productivity.
  • Free Trade giveaways that send our industry and jobs overseas.
  • Taxation that makes us long for the tax rates that started the Revolution.
  • Attacks on police, on every right guaranteed, not granted, guaranteed by the Bill of Rights.
  • An internal war on our own energy sector in the name of a mythical man-made global warming.
  • An administration that fans the flames of racial and social divides for political advantage.
  • A political class made up of the perpetually re-elected of both parties that sits like a twin headed bird of prey atop a corporatism system rigged to reward the connected and ignore the rest.

How could any of this fail… end America’s 240 year old experiment in human freedom?  The institutions of our government are broken.  However, there is a solution, and it is in the Constitution.

First of all the system was built to provide checks and balances.  Each branch, the legislative, the executive, and the judicial were meant to counterbalance each other so that no one branch could usurp the power of the other two.

The Evansville Bar Association in its annual recognition of Constitution Day in 2015 summed it up well;

Although the terms “Separation of Powers” and “Checks and Balances” are not found in the Constitution, these principles are key to its vitality. As George Washington wrote in February of 1788, the two great “pivots upon which the whole machine must move” are: (1) “the general Government is not invested with more Powers than are indispensably necessary to perform the functions of a good Government[,]” and (2) “these Powers are so distributed among the Legislative, Executive, and Judicial Branches, that [the Government] can never be in danger of degenerating into a monarchy or any other despotic or oppressive form, so long as there shall remain any virtue in the body of the People.” As recently as 2011, the Supreme Court affirmed that these principles were “intended, in part, to protect each branch of government from incursion by the others. The structural principles secured by the separation of powers protect the individual as well.”

Congress has abdicated its powers to unelected bureaucrats and the courts have decided that is the order of the day.  Generation Opportunity covers this well when they say;

One of the reasons that elections are such so important is because legislative representatives are responsible to create federal laws that impact every one of their constituents.

This is not a task to be taken lightly, which is why voters must dedicate time to research candidates before heading to the voting booth. But few people realize that there are unelected individuals who create regulations that govern everything from what type of light bulb you are allowed to use, as well as how much water your toilet may flush. According to an article published by the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI), no one is entirely sure how many government agencies actually exist, not even the government knows the exact number.

For instance, in the appendix of the Administrative Conference of the United States, there are 115 agencies listed with a disclaimer saying, “[T]here is no authoritative list of government agencies.”
The federal government has grown so large that no one can even keep track of it anymore. Worse still, each of these agencies are filled with unelected people who take on legislative authority to interpret laws passed by Congress.

Although Congress is prohibited from “delegating” its legislative function to another branch of government, Courts have consistently held that federal agencies may create their own rules as long as an “intelligible” principle can be discerned from the original statute in question.

In other words, if Congress passes a law that regulates a particular industry or action, unelected federal bureaucrats are given almost unchecked power to create whichever rules (or crimes associated with the conduct in question) that they please.

Here’s an example: When Congress passed the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1977, it mandated that certain environmental standards must be imposed on the states, but it hardly clarified what those standards were, or how they were to be enforced.

One of the components of the Act mandated states to establish a permit program that regulates, “new or modified major stationary sources” of air pollution. That seems simple enough, except that Congress never properly defined what qualified as a “stationary source.”

Therefore, the Environmental Protection Agency was left with the task of defining what a “stationary source” meant. Additionally, the original legislation never detailed what the penalty would be for breaking any of the statutes created by the new amendments, leaving it open to interpretation by the EPA.

This predicament led to the 1984 landmark case of Chevron U.S.A., Inc. v. Natural Resources Defense Council, Inc., where the Supreme Court held that federal agencies have authority to interpret statutes which they are in charge of administering.

This meant that the EPA now had legal authority to determine what would be considered a “stationary source” of air pollution.

Since the Chevron Doctrine applies to all government agencies, the opportunities for abuse are endless. Government is only legitimate when it derives its powers from the consent of the governed. When we give legislative powers to unelected government officials we completely disregard the core American belief of consensual representation.

In other words we elect legislators to make laws and they make general laws like, “We want clean water,” and then they let unelected bureaucrats fill in the blanks with the force of law.

Here is how it works.  Everyone wants clean water so the legislators pass their “We want clean water,” law and they come back to their constituents and campaign on “I brought you clean water.”  Then the EPA issues a regulation that says you can’t build on wet lands.  The EPA gets to decide what wet lands means which consequently gives them De Facto control over any piece of property they say is a wet land.  Then when voters complain to their congressional representative, who voted for the law and bragged about it, that they can’t build their house on a lot that is obviously dry the legislator becomes indignant.  They tell their constituents, “We’ll just see about this!” Then they have an aide send a strongly worded letter to the EPA that makes no difference whatsoever.

Problem solved.  Pat the denizens from fly-over country on the head and leave the matter in the hands of the commiczars who have inherited the rule of what was once a representative republic.  This way the hack can get back to his real job of raising money and getting re-elected.

This abdication of responsibility on the part of the legislature is the root cause of our problems because it has led to or facilitated the rise of the imperial presidency wherein many presidents have expanded the power of the executive until today we have an elected monarch who rules by decree unchallenged by Congress and unfettered by the will of the people.

Although the imperial presidency by no means began with the present occupant of the White House, to many Barack Obama has pushed the envelope beyond any discernable constitutional limits and has become the prime example of this phenomenon.

According to the Christian Science Monitor;

President Obama’s use of executive action to get around congressional gridlock is unparalleled in modern times, some scholars say. But to liberal activists, he’s not going far enough.

Obama, a former constitutional law lecturer, was once skeptical of the aggressive use of presidential power. During the 2008 campaign, he accused President George W. Bush of regularly circumventing Congress. Yet as president, Obama has grown increasingly bold in his own use of executive action, at times to controversial effect.

The president (or his administration) has unilaterally changed elements of the Affordable Care Act (ACA); declared an anti-gay-rights law unconstitutional; lifted the threat of deportation for an entire class of undocumented immigrants; bypassed Senate confirmation of controversial nominees; waived compliance requirements in education law; and altered the work requirements under welfare reform. This month, the Obama administration took the highly unusual step of announcing that it will recognize gay marriages performed in Utah – even though Utah itself says it will not recognize them while the issue is pending in court.

Early in his presidency, Obama also expanded presidential warmaking powers, surveillance of the American public, and extrajudicial drone strikes on alleged terrorists outside the United States, including Americans – going beyond Mr. Bush’s own global war on terror following 9/11. But more recently, he has flexed his executive muscle more on domestic policy.

In the process, Obama’s claims of executive authority have infuriated opponents, while emboldening supporters to demand more on a range of issues, from immigration and gay rights to the minimum wage and Guantánamo Bay prison camp.

To critics, Obama is the ultimate “imperial president,” willfully violating the Constitution to further his goals, having failed to convince Congress of the merits of his arguments. To others, he is exercising legitimate executive authority in the face of an intransigent Congress and in keeping with the practices of past presidents.

It also leads to the tyranny of the courts.  Unelected lawyers with life tenure decide what is and what is not constitutional often with the vaguest references to the Constitution itself.  Disregarding what are clearly enunciated rights such as the one to keep and bear arms while finding such nonexistent rights such as the right to dispose of unborn children.  The Justices of the Supreme Court have abrogated unto themselves unlimited power to turn our Constitution which was supposed to be written in stone into a living letter written in sand.  Or as one Chief justice said, Chief Justice Charles Evans Hughes once said, “We are under a Constitution, but the Constitution is what the judges say it is.” Or as the website Western Journalism describes it;

Our federal judiciary has become, arguably and disturbingly, an oligarchy. When they rule on the “constitutionality” of an issue, it is assumed to be the final say in whether a vote of Congress or the vote of the people via referendum or initiative is legitimized or annulled. This is not how the Supreme Court and its substrata of appellate courts were intended to operate, nor is it de facto the way it should be.

The federal judiciary, as it has evolved, has unchecked and unlimited power over the nation by either of the other branches–the executive or the legislative–or even the people. Its members are not accountable to the citizenry, since most of their appointments are for life, and they cannot be removed from the bench by a vote of the people they purportedly serve. Their ruminations and the results of their decisions are insular, and they often trump the will of the people with regard to key social issues. Their decisions are presumed to be final, even though they may be at odds with the democratic majority of our citizens.

Herein lies the fundamental problem about the present construct of our federal judiciary as it has evolved since the founding. If, as stated in the 10th Amendment, all “rights and powers” not specifically itemized in the Constitution are held by the people collectively or by the states, what right does a court have to negate the will of the people? As it relates especially to key cultural issues like abortion, public religious displays, and definitions of marriage, should not the final court be the court of public opinion, rather than an oligarchy of judges insulated from, and not accountable to, the citizenry? In most of these cases, state courts have ruled, and appeals are then made to the federal judiciary.

Thomas Jefferson portended this judicial despotism: “To consider the judges as the ultimate arbiters of all constitutional questions [is] a very dangerous doctrine indeed, and one which would place us under the despotism of an oligarchy. Our judges are as honest as other men and not more so. They have with others the same passions for party, for power, and the privilege of their corps. Their maxim is boni judicis est ampliare jurisdictionem [good justice is broad jurisdiction], and their power the more dangerous as they are in office for life and not responsible, as the other functionaries are, to the elective control.”

These situations exist because Congress abdicates its authority to unelected bureaucrats of the federal nomenclature, it refuses to stand up to the runaway executives and refuses to reign in the Supreme Court.

The first could be accomplished by passing a law rescinding the ability of bureaucracies to issue regulations that have the force of law without congressional approval.

The second could be accomplished as they were with President Nixon, hearings which could lead to impeachment.

And the third is constitutionally provided for in Article 3, Section 2, Clause 2 which states, “In all Cases affecting Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls, and those in which a State shall be Party, the supreme Court shall have original Jurisdiction. In all the other Cases before mentioned, the Supreme Court shall have appellate Jurisdiction, both as to Law and Fact, with such Exceptions, and under such Regulations as the Congress shall make.”  Congress should exercise its power to limit the jurisdiction of the courts. The Constitution provides that Congress is authorized to establish those federal courts subordinate to the Supreme Court and set forth their jurisdiction. Congress also has the power to limit the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court and regulate its activities. Accordingly, Congress should exercise this authority to restrain an activist judiciary.

If Congress would step up and be what we elect them to be We the People could once again become more than just an empty phrase from History in a discarded document that once sought to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity.  If our representatives will represent us instead of themselves and their cronies we would find that the solutions to our broken institutions are in the Constitution.

Dr. Owens teaches History, Political Science, and Religion.  He is the Historian of the Future @ © 2016 Contact Dr. Owens  Follow Dr. Robert Owens on Facebook or Twitter @ Drrobertowens / Edited by Dr. Rosalie Owens


Why Does America Have a Written Constitution?

Recently I spent some time with a person I respect highly, who is very intelligent, and who has thought about and reached conclusions concerning America’s Constitution.  This person, who is representative of many others, believes that a document written hundreds of years ago is meaningless in today’s America.  He cited the fact that many of the Framers were slave owners, they could not have imagined a nation of hundreds of millions, they could not foresee the technologically rich environment we call home, or the diverse population that now constitutes the body politic.

None of the things cited above can be refuted because they are all true.

First of all, what is a constitution?  A constitution organizes, distributes and regulates the power of the state.  A constitution sets out the structure of the state, the major state institutions, and the principles governing their relations with each other and with the state’s citizens.

So, why do we have a written Constitution, and does this written Constitution still matter?

When the American Revolutionaries broke free from Great Britain they wanted to build their new nation on a solid foundation.  They most assuredly did not want what they had just rebelled against, a monarchy or an unlimited government.

Did the British have a constitution? In the Eighteenth Century just as it is now Britain is unusual in that it has an ‘unwritten’ constitution: unlike the great majority of countries there is no single legal document which sets out in one place the fundamental laws outlining how the state works. Britain’s lack of a ‘written’ constitution can be explained by its history. In other countries, many of whom have experienced revolution or regime change, it has been necessary to start from scratch or begin from first principles, constructing new state institutions and defining in detail their relations with each other and their citizens. By contrast, the British Constitution has evolved over a long period of time, reflecting the relative stability of the British polity. It has never been thought necessary to consolidate the basic building blocks of this order in Britain. What Britain has instead is an accumulation of various statutes, conventions, judicial decisions and treaties which collectively can be referred to as the British Constitution. It is thus more accurate to refer to Britain’s constitution as an ‘uncodified’ constitution, rather than an ‘unwritten’ one.

The British Constitution can be summed up in eight words: What the monarch in Parliament enacts is law. This means that Parliament, using the power of the Crown, enacts law which no other body can challenge. Parliamentary sovereignty is commonly regarded as the defining principle of the British Constitution. This is the ultimate lawmaking power vested in a democratically elected Parliament to create or abolish any law. Other core principles of the British Constitution are often thought to include the rule of law, the separation of government into executive, legislative, and judicial branches, and the existence of a unitary state, meaning ultimate power is held by ‘the center’ – the sovereign Westminster Parliament.  In other words there is neither check upon nor balance to the power of the government.  The entire shape, form, and substance of the government can change at any time by a simple majority vote of Parliament.  To sum up: the British Constitution is a living document.

This is what caused the revolution.  If you look at the list of particulars that are in the overlooked or forgotten part of the Declaration of Independence you see that many of these individual charges against the Monarch as the representation of the government are changes made by arbitrary and unilateral acts of Parliament.

  • He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.
  • He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.
  • He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.
  • He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.
  • He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.
  • He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time (sic) exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.
  • He has endeavoured (sic) to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.
  • He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers.
  • He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.
  • He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance.
  • He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.
  • He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.
  • He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:


  • For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us
  • For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States
  • For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world
  • For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent
  • For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury
  • For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences
  • For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring (sic) Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies
  • For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments
  • For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever



  • He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.
  • He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.
  • He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat (sic) the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.
  • He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.
  • He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured (sic) to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

The colonists tried to follow the procedures as they knew them to find relief within the system.  But they were ignored and baffled as the system kept changing.  They describe their experience dealing with the shifting sands of their revered living document in the following words.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our Brittish (sic) brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

It was because of this failed effort to deal with a system that has no solid structure, a system that can change at the will of a simple majority that the Framers were determined to set our new nation on the solid rock of a written constitution.  What did the Founders and Framers have to say?

George Washington said, “The basis of our political systems is the right of the people to make and to alter their constitutions of government. But the Constitution, which at any time exists, ‘till changed by an explicit and authentic act of the whole people, is sacredly obligatory upon all. … If in the opinion of the people the distribution or modification of the constitutional powers be in any particular wrong, let it be corrected by an amendment in the way which the Constitution designates. But let there be no change by usurpation; for though this in one instance may be the instrument of good, it is the customary weapon by which free governments are destroyed.”

Thomas Jefferson said, “Our peculiar security is in possession of a written Constitution. Let us not make it a blank paper by construction. … If it is, then we have no Constitution.”

James Madison said, “Can it be of less consequence that the meaning of a Constitution should be fixed and known, than a meaning of a law should be so?”

This is what we were founded upon and this is the philosophical underpinning for the originalist view of the constitution as championed by the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.

What do the leading lights of the living document side of the argument have to say?

Woodrow Wilson said, “Living political constitutions must be Darwinian in structure and in practice. Society is a living organism and must obey the laws of life, not of mechanics; it must develop.  All that progressives ask or desire is permission—in an era when ‘development,’ ‘evolution,’ is the scientific word—to interpret the Constitution according to the Darwinian principle; all they ask is recognition of the fact that a nation is a living thing and not a machine.”

FDR said, “The United States Constitution has proved itself the most marvelously elastic compilation of rules of government ever written.”

Supreme Court Justice Felix Frankfurter said, “The words of the Constitution … are so unrestricted by their intrinsic meaning or by their history or by tradition or by prior decisions that they leave the individual Justice free, if indeed they do not compel him, to gather meaning not from reading the Constitution but from reading life.”

Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall said, “I cannot accept this invitation [to celebrate the bicentennial of the Constitution], for I do not believe that the meaning of the Constitution was forever ‘fixed’ at the Philadelphia Convention … To the contrary, the government they devised was defective from the start.”

Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia summed up the end result of more than a century of Progressive constitutional stretching.  “If we’re picking people to draw out of their own conscience and experience a ‘new’ Constitution, we should not look principally for good lawyers. We should look to people who agree with us. When we are in that mode, you realize we have rendered the Constitution useless.”

Or to put it another way the Progressive’s living document has gone a long way to changing the Constitution from something carved in stone to a mirage written in the sand.  So why do we have a written constitution?  In my opinion we need a written constitution so that the government cannot change the social contract with the wave of its hand or the passage of thousand page bills no one even reads.

So why do we have a written constitution?

To keep demagogues and tyrants from arbitrarily changing the rules by which we live.  If you think this has worked see my book The Constitution Failed.  As a professor of Political Science and as the Director of one of the largest Political Science Departments at any university I have long advocated that the study of the Constitution should be moved from Political Science to History because it has become merely an historical document and now has little to do with how our country is administered by the political class.

Does it still matter?  Only if the citizens of this nation have the fortitude to rise up and demand that it matters.

Keep the faith.  Keep the peace.  We shall overcome.

Dr. Owens teaches History, Political Science, and Religion.  He is the Historian of the Future @ © 2016 Contact Dr. Owens  Follow Dr. Robert Owens on Facebook or Twitter @ Drrobertowens / Edited by Dr. Rosalie Owens



Trump Trumps Never-Trump

The Perpetually Re-elected Progressive Elite, the Corporations Once Known as the Mainstream media, and their pet poodle pundits make fun of Trump by calling him a “Reality TV Star.”  They just don’t get it. Half the country wishes they were reality TV Stars.  They say he is brash, uncouth, and disrespectful to the army of political hacks he has been and will confront. They just don’t get it. People want someone who will stand up for the Country Party in the face of the Government Party that has controlled both major parties for so long.

The list of disconnects between the imperial rulers in Chicago-on-the-Potomac and the great unwashed out here in fly-over country is massive.  It is easily more than enough to define a complete breakdown in the social contract of a limited government.  A social contract forged in the Declaration of Independence and enshrined in the Constitution which defines the legitimacy of the current regime.

The Progressive megaphones tell us this is the strongest economy in American History and that President Obama is the greatest chief executive of modern times.  They even fantasize about the “Obama Boom.”  Working people laugh when you try to sell them this obvious propaganda. The government tells us that we have reached full employment.  Anyone who reads should know that over ninety-three million able bodied Americans no longer work and only a little over 150 million are working.  Yet the government tells us there is 5% unemployment when the numbers say it is closer to 40%.  Our leaders tell us there is no inflation no matter how many trillions of fiat dollars they print, and all of us who shop for our own food, buy our own clothes, or pay utility bills know otherwise.

They tell us we won the war in Iraq.  We may have won it by the time King George II left but since Prince Obama got his hands on it ISIS tells us we haven’t.  Our leaders say we have won in Afghanistan.  Everyone in the world knows that the minute we leave the Taliban roll right back into Kabul and the sock puppets we have been supporting all these years as the leaders of a democratic Afghanistan will be flying to Switzerland in 747s filled with American taxpayer’s cash.  We are told Obamacare is a great success. Anyone who had insurance before it started knows that if you like your doctor you can keep your doctor has to be tempered by increased fees, increased deductibles, increased co-payments, and decreased covered services.

They tell us and they tell us and they tell us, we just don’t believe them anymore.

If these belchers of beltway bromides think every day working Americans swallow any of this they have seriously underestimated our intelligence, our interest, and our attention spans.

I have the opportunity to travel the country throughout the year.  I take what some call back roads, the secondary roads that parallel America’s vast Interstate system and that still goes through small towns instead of bypassing them and homogenizing everywhere in to anywhere.  I try to stop at Mom-and-Pop restaurants and take every opportunity possible to talk with people about the issues of the day.  Here’s what I find, Trump, Trump, Trump.

I believe the polls are skewed.  Perhaps people don’t want to say they are for Trump because they know the pollsters will look down on them as simple country bumpkins, racists, or reactionary supporters of old dead white guys.  Perhaps they are talking to those who are at home when the workers are busy working.  Whatever the reason I believe, and I predict that Trump is going to beat Hillary like a drum.  He is going to win in a landslide, and he is going to drag the Republican Party that tried to reject him along for the ride.  I am predicting that due to his wave election coattails the Republicans will increase their majorities in the House and the Senate.

What is the cause of this phenomenon?  Generations of politicians who run as outsiders and who become insiders as soon as they enter the moral and patriotic black hole and before they start swirling in the DC drain to their life-time pensions.  Generations of politicians who sold us out in so-called free trade deals that gave others a free pass into our markets while keeping their own locked to us.  Generations of politicians who have spent us into oblivion, printed more money that there is paper, and borrowed so much money from other nations that we are now the world’s greatest debtor.

So who is to blame for the coming over throw of the twin headed bird of prey that is the Government Party of Power: the politicians themselves. Living in their bubble asking why those who have no bread don’t eat cake they have no idea of what is coming.  Their pollsters are polling themselves and providing the information their paymasters want to see.  And all the while out here in the Heartland a tsunami is brewing that will wash them all away.

To paraphrase what Phil Ochs said so long ago,

In tattered tuxedos they faced the new heroes
And crawled about in confusion
All the hands raised, they stood there amazed
In the shattering of their illusions

Many of the nattering nabobs of negativism who dominate the 24 hour news cycle have been waiting expectantly for Trump to make one mega-gaff that will destroy his campaign.  To hear them crow you would believe he made it when he resurrected the phrase, “America First.”

First used as the name of a widely based organization that sought to keep us out of World War Two.  Then it was used in the nineties by Pat Buchanan in his prescient campaign to save America from the one-worlders.  The left has done their best to make this a catch phrase for defeat because they hate not only what it says but what it implies.  The Elite political class has sought to make it an unutterable phrase condemned by political correctness and exiled because in their minds to even say America First is to defile their one world religion.  They may believe they have tarnished the concept with 75 years of negative propaganda and indoctrination but still 57% of American citizens believe in America First, they want an America First foreign policy, an America First trade policy, and an America First immigration policy.  They want an America First president.

My prediction: After all is said and done, after all the dust settles, after Crooked Hillary goes home to lick her wounds, after the neo-con talking heads and their K-Street financiers realize the prize has slipped from their hands it will end up that Trump Trumps Never-Trump.

Dr. Owens teaches History, Political Science, and Religion.  He is the Historian of the Future @ © 2016 Contact Dr. Owens  Follow Dr. Robert Owens on Facebook or Twitter @ Drrobertowens / Edited by Dr. Rosalie Owens


FAITH ‘This Is a Christian Country’: National Leader Sends Out Astounding Easter Message — but He’s Not an American

by Dave Urbanski
A world leader offered an Easter video message over the weekend filled with affirmations directed toward the Christian church that could come off sounding a bit strange to some — only because such words don’t seem to be stated in such overt ways on such public stages much at all these days.

The central theme of this leader’s two-minute-and-25-second address was that his nation is “a Christian country.”

So who offered the inspirational message?

British Prime Minister David Cameron.

“Easter is a time for Christians to celebrate the ultimate triumph of life over death in the resurrection of Jesus,” Cameron began. “And for all of us, it’s a time to reflect on the part that Christianity plays in our national life.”

“The church is not just a collection of beautiful, old buildings; it is a living, active force doing great works right across our country,” he continued, noting how the church helps the homeless, the addicted, the suffering and the grieving.

“Across Britain, Christians don’t just talk about ‘loving thy neighbor’, they live it out in faith schools, in prisons, in community groups,” Cameron noted. “And it’s for all these reasons that we should feel proud to say, ‘This is a Christian country.’ Yes, we’re a nation that embraces, welcomes and accepts all faiths and none, but we are still a Christian country.”

Cameron also urged his fellow citizens to speak out about the persecution of Christians around the world.

Check out the clip below:

NSA IS Unconstitutional



By John F. Di Leo –
Bill of Rights
On December 15, 1791, the Bill of Rights was ratified by the Old Dominion – the Commonwealth of Virginia – enabling the Bill of Rights to hit the necessary three-quarters requirement for passage. With Virginia’s ratification, the Bill of Rights was now a part of the Constitution of the United States.

Both how we came to this point, and the reason it was done, tell us a great deal about the Founding Era. To better understand where we are today, let’s take a moment to look back, and remember 18th century America… and return to the present, and ponder how far we have fallen.

Rights Guaranteed, Rights Trampled

The United States of America was born in the British tradition of guaranteed civil rights. A once-unlimited monarchy was constrained, bit by bit, by hard-won agreements. The Magna Carta in 1215, the Petition of Right in 1628, the Habeus Corpus Act of 1679, the Declaration of Rights in 1689… again and again, over the 700 years between the Norman Conquest and the movement for independence in America, the British people had won guarantees against government abuse… through political action, through negotiation, through threat of insurrection.

The British Crown had been loath to agree to these rights. Kings and queens often fought tooth and nail against them. The ability to hold a citizen without trial, to search a home, to shut up a speaker or shut down a newspaper – these are critical tools in the toolbox of a tyrant.

But gradually, over these seven centuries, the British people had won concessions. First just for nobility, then expanded ever so slightly to include merchants, landowners, and more. One still couldn’t say by the 18th century that all British subjects were fully protected, but it was closer to the mark there than in most other countries of a not-yet-modernized world. By the time of our revolution, the British people were among the freest on earth, and were proud of the fact.

Unfortunately, the guarantors of those rights – the documents, the Parliament, the British public – were an ocean away in an era of slow communications, by the time young King George III took the throne.

The first really activist monarch of the Hanoverians, George III wanted to have plums to dole out to his supporters in Parliament, and – to be fair – he understandably wanted to make sure that the American colonies contributed something to their costs. So George started restricting American liberties – sometimes overtly, sometimes by acts of Parliament.

George III saw Americans getting self-sufficient in more and more areas. He didn’t want America to be independently successful; he wanted these colonies to be suppliers of raw materials and consumers of British finished goods, nothing else. So he saw foundries operating in these colonies, and he shut them down. He saw international trade between these colonies and other countries, and he mandated that most trade, then finally, all trade, must travel first through London middlemen. He saw rabble-rousers, and he sent ever more aggressive governors, then troops, to maintain order and quench opposition.

By the days of our War of Independence, George had placed Boston under military law for nearly a decade… he had mandated that our imports and exports be slowed and increased in cost by his politically-connected middlemen (the London factors)… he had stationed troops in hostile citizens’ private homes… he had summarily dismissed whole legislatures, even the Virginia House of Burgesses in Williamsburg!

The list of George III’s affronts to the liberty of British subjects in the Americas is simply too long to list here. Fortunately, the Declaration of Independence covers a good number of them – while still, long as it is, leaving quite a number out!

The question of course is – and was – how could he do it? How on earth could a country so protective of its rights allow its monarch to trample on them?

The answer is that George III did have a certain type of brilliance. While dismissive of our own rights on this side of the Pond, George III was generally a good king to the people of England proper, where the power of Parliament stood. He didn’t shut down printing presses, dismiss legislatures, station troops in people’s houses, at home in England. So when the Americans started shouting that the king was a tyrant, many in England thought it was poppycock; “George is just great as far as we’re concerned!”

George III had adopted a novel theory; that the guarantees of rights enjoyed by British subjects in England, were guaranteed only to the English. He believed that he was a limited monarch only at home in England, not abroad, in England’s many foreign holdings, where he was an absolute monarch.

Never mind that this theory stood in direct opposition to thousands of years of precedent. From the days of the ancient Romans, being a citizen meant that you enjoy the full rights of citizenship, no matter how far from the capital city you may be. But George III didn’t care about Roman citizens, only about the rough settlers of the distant American frontier, and as far as he was concerned, they were just his subjects, not fellow citizens at all. So to him, the Magna Carta, the Declaration of Rights, the Petition of Rights, none of these affected his plans to subjugate the people of the American colonies in the slightest.

Come the Revolution…

As the colonies declared their independence, their state legislatures moved to issue new Declarations of Rights, clearly asserting the fact that these are innate human rights, granted by God, recognized by the people as their birthright. The new states declared that in the view of Americans, it’s government’s duty to defend these rights; government is in fact established for the very purpose of guaranteeing them, of protecting the people from any intruder, attacker or branch of government that would attempt to trample them.

The new state of Maryland included a bill of rights as part of their constitution in 1776; Massachusetts included one in its constitution in 1780. By the end of the War of Independence, every state’s constitution included a list of rights in some form, many based on the Virginia Declaration of Rights, written by George Mason in 1776. Rooted in the common law of England and the seven century British tradition, these new American documents synthesized both the pre-existing legal protections and the true American drive for freedom that had originally drawn our immigrants to these shores.

So these declarations incorporated freedom from a governmentally mandated religious denomination, freedom from government shutdowns of printing presses or public assemblies, freedom from having your business or property taken away by a greedy government. These declarations helped Americans appreciate what we were fighting for, in the hard years of a long and often painful revolution.

The publication of the Declaration of Independence, combined with each state’s own written guarantees, reminded every citizen of what Britain had been doing to us, and reminded us simultaneously that if we won this war, we would govern ourselves, and thus be free of such fears in the future.

The concept of including a bill of rights in every constitution was therefore a foregone conclusion, both from the long history of British documents and from the actions of each state in the 1770s as we broke away from the mother country and set out on our own.

By the time independence was won in 1783, many had forgotten what the purpose of a bill of rights was: to gain a promise from an otherwise unlimited government that, though it might intrude in a thousand other areas, it would never intrude in these. Promise!

The Constitutional Convention… and something new under the sun

In the summer of 1787, the greatest meeting of political philosophers in history gathered together to write a new Constitution. The 55 men of the Philadelphia Convention set out to do something new: not to draw up limits upon an existing king or emperor, but to establish a new form of government, a government that is not just limited by the imposition of a constitution, but that is born of that constitution.

Most arrived at the Convention expecting that the resulting document would include a bill of rights. Several of those in attendance had in fact authored such documents in their own states. George Mason, George Washington’s neighbor and friend – by now generally regarded as the father of such documents – had arrived in Philadelphia with the intent of ensuring that whatever the final document looked like, it would include as strong a bill of rights as possible.

But once the delegates started discussing it in detail – having written seven articles on establishing and controlling the national government, they found themselves recognizing a surprising fact: a bill of rights might not make sense in this document after all!

Here’s what they recognized, in a nutshell: a monarchy, duchy, empire, or other such dictatorship is inherently unlimited. It’s imposed on the people, so it needs to be constrained. A constitution and bill of rights are both needed to limit such a government. Without both, even after a century of honorable behavior, a king might overstep his bounds. So he needed to be told what he could do, and then, he needed also to be told what he could not. And the still-reigning (though ill) king of England had just demonstrated how weak such limits could be in such a situation.

The United States of America was to be a new form of government. The entire U.S. government – all three branches – would be hatched from this document. They would be, essentially, “born limited.”

The Constitution told them what they could do, listing their functions as precisely as they could. The brilliant program of “checks and balances” was designed to build in self-limiting boundaries throughout the new government. The executive wouldn’t try to spread, because the judiciary and legislative would thwart it. The judiciary wouldn’t try to spread, because the executive and legislative, equally jealous of their own power, would thwart the attempt.

Again and again, the Framers built constraints into the Constitution: When the president appoints, the Senate must approve. When the House wants to spend, the Senate and President must agree. When the House and Senate want something done, the Executive will be the one to do it. No one, so theory goes, would attempt to wield power beyond that which was constitutionally granted, because such power would be granted to a rival branch, which would know it was chartered to thwart such a threat.

So, when the time came, the Framers came to the surprising conclusion that a bill of rights would be unnecessary. Such a list is necessary only if there would otherwise be a fear that the government would feel itself unconstrained… but since the entire Constitution was designed to restrict anyway, a bill of rights would not only be unnecessary, it might even be viewed as counterproductive.

The Framers had to consider this:

If we only say “Here’s what the government can do, and no more,” we are being consistent in declaring the government as utterly limited. It’s a shopping list: government can do this, and only this. If it’s not on the list, you can’t do it.

But if we then say “And here’s what the government can not do… this or this or this or that. You can’t ever do any of this, is that clear,” then what have we done? We’ve contradicted ourselves. Because the Constitution doesn’t say that the government can control businesses, so it doesn’t make sense to say “especially not newspapers.” The Constitution doesn’t say that the government can control people’s religious observance, so it doesn’t make sense to say “especially not to set up a taxpayer-funded denomination.” The Constitution doesn’t say that the government can seize anybody’s land, so it doesn’t make sense to say “but if we do, we’ll agree to compensate the landowner at the proper market value of the land.”

And why say “any power not specifically granted in the Constitution is restricted to the states or the people,” when that’s so obvious, it must go without saying?

When they thought about it this way, the Framers realized that it simply wouldn’t make sense to include a Bill of Rights; it would just confuse the issue. They thought that a message that read “you can ONLY do this” would be diluted terribly if you added “but if you DO exceed these bounds, be sure you don’t exceed them in these other directions!” So the Framers voted to stop there, and they published their final document without a Bill of Rights.

George Mason walked out in horror, refusing to sign the final document without such a list, but the majority of the Framers agreed with the logic. So the Constitution was submitted to the states for ratification, just a poetic preamble and the seven articles, ready for the consideration of the states.

A Firestorm Erupts

Perhaps they should have expected it: as soon as the idea of a replacement for the Articles of Confederation was announced (most assumed they would propose amendments, at least at first), the next shock was that this new document included no bill of rights. None at all. No mention of freedom of the press, freedom of religion, freedom of assembly? No mention of the right to be safe in our homes from unwarranted searches, the right to a speedy trial by a jury of one’s peers?

The ratification debate was bound to be hard enough as it was. A potentially bigger central government, certainly a stronger one, this was not what the public had rebelled against England to get. The Federalists (those who supported ratification) went into overdrive, writing articles, giving speeches, organizing support in every state capital, as thirteen separate battles for ratification had to be fought separately.

The Federalists caved quickly on the subject of the bill of rights. They tried to explain why there was no need for one, why in fact it would even be counterproductive, but the idea fell on such deaf ears, they realized that if they didn’t capitulate, the Constitution would be stillborn. The supporters of ratification agreed, in state after state, to make the addition of a bill of rights a condition of ratification, and on that basis, the ratification process began to succeed.

Once the Constitution was ratified, and the new Congress was seated, James Madison, now a Congressman from Virginia, drawing heavily from George Mason’s popular list, drew up a list of amendments for consideration. Seventeen passed the House, and twelve of those passed the Senate on September 25, 1789, ready to be sent on to the states. It took two years for the states to work it out, and on December 15, 1791, the state of Virginia ratified the ten most popular ones, bringing the number of ratifying states to three quarters, and causing the Bill of Rights to become law.

And how have they worked out?

We have now spent 222 years with both a Constitution and a Bill of Rights at the national level. We can never know for sure how the nation would have turned out without the Bill of Rights, but this much we do know:

The federal government has expanded in almost every imaginable direction. It has grown in size and numbers, as the biggest employer and biggest spending entity in the country. It has become the employer of last resort for many, and the employer of choice for even more. It dominates the home loan market and higher education, and now seeks to dominate the healthcare business as well. It buys and sells massive manufacturers like Chrysler and GM, and orders banks and insurance companies around like they were pawns on a chessboard. The federal government has expanded without noticeable resistance in every area not specifically forbidden by the Bill of Rights.

On the other hand, whenever there have been attempts to encroach upon the areas forbidden by the Bill of Rights (and there have been, oh, so many!), the judiciary has usually respected the amendments, though perhaps kicking and screaming along the way. If anything, the judiciary has often imagined these ten amendments to be more restrictive than they were intended to be.

The protection against unfair trials has been morphed into a guarantee of a trial in which conviction is often almost impossible even for the guilty. The protection against government establishment of a religious denomination has been insanely interpreted as a hostility toward government support of the Judeo-Christian worldview that 99% of the Founders themselves held. The protection against restrictions on assembly has been used to support socialist takeovers of state capitols and other federal land, while being conveniently forgotten when tea party groups legally apply for permits.

The warping of the Bill of Rights – this most well-intentioned of documents – has in fact gone on for generations, and today, one political party openly thrashes the Constitution as a document of so-called “negative rights,” as if the very concept of restrictions on government is a dangerous thing!

How far we have fallen.

Our Framers would not recognize the government we have today. They would never have blessed a nation in which half the country depends on government for schooling, for housing, for food, for allowance. They would never have dreamed that such a transformation could occur without a revolution, but it did… in a long slow slide that arguably started with the 16th amendment – the ability to tax individuals directly – and the 17th amendment – the removal of the states’ one and only brake on the federal government, by switching senators to direct election by the masses.

It is perhaps only an academic game – and not a happy one, by any means – to ponder what might have happened had the Framers’ will prevailed, 222 years ago.

What if there were no Bill of Rights at the federal level? What if all there was, in all that short but well-packed document, was a laundry list of things that government might do, nothing else? What if when Hamilton wanted a central bank, the Congress had to debate it, and win public support before it could be chartered? What if when Jefferson wanted to buy land from France, the Congress had to debate that too, and win public support before the check to Napoleon could be cut?

That’s how the nation began. The Constitution was just a list, and anything outside it had to be debated. But ever since the Bill of Rights was added, the argument shifted. Now instead of asking “Can we do that?” we ask “Is it forbidden?” When it is not plainly forbidden by the Bill of Rights, the political strength of the limiting side is rarely sufficient to successfully oppose the expansion. The small-government faction – the faction that stands with the Founding Fathers against the Progressives who seek to empower the leviathan to break free of its bonds – is only strong enough to compete on an ever-dwindling field of battle.

And as we have seen since the dawn of the 20th century, tragically, the list of things forbidden can never be as long as the list of things that an insatiably omnivorous leviathan desires.

The framers gave us one tool, however. Like the “Hope” that was buried in the corner of Pandora’s Box, we have the last amendment of the Bill of Rights – the 10th Amendment – which, if aggressively wielded, can yet wrest control back from Washington, and set this nation free to again be the City on a Hill envisioned by the Founding Fathers.

If only we had them today, in proportional numbers, to help lead us in the fight.

Copyright 2013 John F. Di Leo

John F. Di Leo is a Chicago-based Customs broker and regulatory compliance trainer. He studied his history and political science at Northwestern University, but learned the real impact of the growing leviathan through four decades in international trade. A spokesman of the Illinois Small Business Men’s Association in the 1980s, and a county chairman of the Milwaukee County Republican Party in the 1990s, he has now been a recovering politician for over sixteen years.


By: David Harsanyi

For more than 20 years, an NBC/Wall Street Journal poll has been measuring how voters feel about Congress. And “perhaps unsurprisingly,” writes Ezra Klein, “a majority of Americans — a new record — thinks the current Congress is one of the worst ever.” Klein, like many other liberal pundits, has written numerous pieces about how Congress is the worst/laziest/rottenest ever, so this works out well for him. Not getting your way all the time can be frustrating.

“96 percent of Americans think this Congress is at or below average. What’s wrong with the other 4 percent?” asked Klein in a tweet.

What’s wrong? Absolutely nothing, that’s what. Though I can’t speak for all 4 percenters, as someone who believes this Congress has been one of the most (inadvertently) effective and underrated in American history, I can offer a number of my own reasons.

Voters tend to believe a lot of myths about American government. We believe gridlock is unhealthy (even though historically, we tend to favor divided government). We believe that the majority should always have its way, that popular ideas automatically deserve up-or-down votes and that Congress is more “productive” when it passes lots of laws.

Klein once argued that the No. 1 reason a GOP Congress was “the worst ever” was that it was “not passing laws,” which is the “simplest measure of congressional productivity.” The simplest and also the most misleading. Admittedly, we tend to measure productivity by goals scored, when often we should be measuring it by goals against average. And John Boehner’s House, often pressured by a minority within the minority, has made saves on all kinds of terrible bills.

Americans reflexively dislike gridlock. I get that. In the real world, we like to get stuff done. So do politicians. But this iteration of the Democratic Party has passed more significant legislation than any other in memory — including a complete overhaul of health care and fiscal policy. It was this Democratic Party that championed legislation mandating the participation of every citizen, without attaining even the minimum standard of consensus or input from the other party.

So today’s intractable GOP Congress — despite its often amateurish politics, overreaches and missteps — is an organic safeguard against that kind of irresponsible centralized democracy.

On that merit alone, it should be a lot more popular. And if the ideological gap continues to expand (both sides becoming more purist) and Washington’s big notions keep intruding on the ability of states and individuals to live by their own ideas and ideals, gridlock will be the only remedy. As hapless as the GOP has been, this is how the Founding Fathers planned it.

Then again, I do wonder whether these ham-fisted congressional approval polls tell us as much about our distaste for Congress as pundits think they do.

Despite the widespread belief that gridlock is the primary driver of Congress’ unpopularity, we all have our own bone to pick with politicians. Trust me; not many conservatives walk around lamenting the fact that Congress doesn’t pass more laws. More than likely, many respondents are frustrated by the perception/reality that the GOP isn’t politically effective, that it’s too weak and too accommodating. Check out the anger provoked by the recent budget deal (which is, indeed, awful). If these polls deciphered why respondents are unhappy with Congress, we’d probably end up with something resembling the partisan splits we see in most other polls.

Moreover, disliking Congress is basically akin to disliking lawyers or journalists. Sure, they deserve it, but it’s still often perfunctory. If we truly loathed Congress as much as we maintain, we wouldn’t reliably vote for incumbents. We love our member of Congress. Incumbents, in fact, are safer today than they have been in many decades. I’m going to guess there’s a 96 percent chance that your representative has a better approval rating in his or her district than President Barack Obama does nationally.

So there are probably numerous factors driving Congress’ unpopularity. It’s doubtless that some of those factors conflict with one another. So hate Congress if you must. But if, as liberal pundits argue, an overwhelming majority of Americans are dissatisfied with the House because it’s not passing enough laws to hit some arbitrary quota, then the large majority of Americans have absolutely no clue what healthy republican government is supposed to look like.

David Harsanyi is a senior editor at The Federalist. Follow him on Twitter @davidharsanyi.

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