The Civic Gospel

Today, Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ)  introduced legislation that would modify provisions of the 1964 Civil Rights Act.  The bill would prohibit discrimination on the basis of sex, gender identity, and sexual orientation, and for other purposes.  In addressing the issue at a press conference today, Senator Booker stated the following:

So I have a saying about religion.  Before you tell me about your religion, first show to it to me in how you treat other people.  Well, while the Gospel and many religious books say something, the truth is that we have a civic gospel as well.  We all know the words.  We say them in our songs and pledges.  We have this self-evident truth that everyone is created equal.  We believe that we have equality under the law.  We say with the hallowed phrases that we are a nation of liberty and justice for all.

So, it seems that Senator Booker acknowledges that we have a religion that controls the affairs of men today–the “civic gospel.”  We say a prayer every day called the Pledge of Allegiance.  We sing gospel tunes like My Country Tis of Thee and the national anthem.  We have “hallowed” phrases like “liberty and justice for all.”

It seems that the idea that one should tolerate one another should be accompanied by the iron fist of the State that preaches this “civic gospel.”  We shall enter the new millennium by forcing people to serve those that have lifestyles that we disagree with.   In truth, this bill will result in the diminishing of liberty.  We would be forced to give up more of our freedom in order to handle the expansion of “rights.”  Joseph Sobran stated it well when he said:

The term civil rights has come to mean the opposite of what it suggests. People think it means individual freedom, when it usually means government power used in behalf of large groups…

What is really irritating about this is that ALL religious beliefs and feelings must be subservient to the dictates of the State.  No matter what convictions you hold, they must be swept aside to ensure that equality can be maintained forever.  They tried something similar a little over 200 years ago.  Instead of the civic gospel, they set up something called the Cult of Reason where its goal was to perfect man by obtaining truth and liberty for all.  In the end, the result was the Reign of Terror and the eventual rise of Napoleon which led to years of European war.  The true Gospel will not come from Washington, it will come from men humbling themselves before the one was given power over heaven and earth.  God, spare us from more political salvation schemes.

The New Thirty Years War…and then some

Here is my latest book review.  It is Andrew Bacevich’s new book on the history of the War in the Greater Middle which can be purchased here.

Andrew Bacevich has written a brilliant history in a nutshell of our adventures in the greater Middle East which began in earnest with President Carter’s aiding Afghan rebels against the Soviets in 1980. Since that time we have gone from one intervention to another in ensuring that we have access to oil and project the American dominance over the world as the sole superpower.

Bacevich shows us that the vacillation on the part of our leaders and disrupting the lives of many people in that part of the world in many instances have cost numerous lives there, resulted in the maiming and killing of many of our soldiers and has put a tremendous drain on our government budgets over the last 30 years. Events in Iran, Bosnia, Kosovo, Afghanistan, Somalia and many other countries are discussed with brief yet precise aplomb. Iran-Contra for instance is shown by the author as an instance where we were on both sides which the government did in the Iran-Iraq War in the 1980s. The author breaks down the Gulf War in four phases. The aforementioned Gulf War of the 1980s, the conflict in Desert Storm in 1991-1992, the toppling of Saddam Hussein in 2003 and the recent conflict with ISIS. In essence, this has been the new Thirty Years War and the result has been hundreds of thousands of dead, broken infrastructure, massive division of countries and bitterness from locals. Today, as Bacevich notes, the American people no longer want to hear about incidents in that part of the world, preferring to put such things down the memory hole. Yet, the fight still rages on and will do so for years to come.

Bacevich gives four sound reasons for the war in the greater Middle East being perpetrated with no end in sight. The first reason is that neither party has a strong anti-war or anti-interventionist wing within their parties; this should be a surprise to many. The second is that many candidates prefer to “support the troops” than to question the reasons for the war’s continuation. The third reason, the most sinister in my opinion, is that some sectors of the government and private sector benefit financially from the war’s continuance. The final reason is that American citizens seem not to care and that they wish for deficit spending to cover this campaign and lay the debts on future generations. As the author concludes his book, he states that Americans are in a deep slumber and that they are in for a rude awakening. I couldn’t agree more.

The Centralized State

Last Friday, the United States Department of Education gave out a directive to all of the public schools across America with regards to certain segments of the population who identify as persons of the opposite sex to use the restrooms of the sex they identify with.  With such a directive, it is clear that the federal government has amassed to itself incredible power to dictate policy to every school district and its 50 million children that go to K-12 schools here.   With the North Carolina situation, there is talk of pulling education funding from the Tarheel State unless HB-2 is repealed.

How did we get to this situation?  At the time of the Constitution’s creation in 1789, James Madison specifically stated in Federalist No. 45 that:

The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the federal government are few and defined. Those which are to remain in the State governments are numerous and indefinite. The former will be exercised principally on external objects, as war, peace, negotiation, and foreign commerce; with which last the power of taxation will, for the most part, be connected.

For the next 70 years, the federal government had little influence in the course of affairs inside America.  It was well understood that the States, which were closer to the people, understood what their citizens needed and past the modest laws to maintain order.  Unfortunately, with the arrival of the Civil War and the subsequent Reconstruction, state’s rights were obliterated and more power was concentrated in Washington.  This fact was all apparent during the Great Depression when Franklin Roosevelt created numerous federal agencies that were wholly without constitutional warrant, yet it thrived by bribing voters into voting for centralized government.   Today, we see the evil fruits of such centralization.  Joseph Sobran said several years before his death that the Civil War actually made it possible for cases like Obergefell and Roe v. Wade to be imposed on the nation for the states were unable to fight back without armed invasion and the states had no check on the  power of the Supreme Court.    Now comes the word from on high that funds will be withheld and decrees issue on behalf of a group that was the subject of curiosity just a few decades ago in films like The Rocky Horror Picture Show, Freebie and the Bean and Dressed to Kill.  

To have policies dictated to 320 million people en masse is evidence that the old republic has long since vanished and a progressive empire is now dominant.  Men like Donald Livingston and Kirkpatrick Sale have long warned that centralization of power would eventually lead to an utter despotism.

During the 1970s, women like Gloria Steinem thought that the Equal Rights Amendment was necessary to bring, in their minds, equality for women.  With its deadline for ratification expiring in 1983, many thought that the issue was dead.  Steinem and Eleanor Smeal need not have worried, for the Magic 14th Amendment was all that was needed to make their dreams come true.   The Constitution and federal government was great while it lasted.  That 1789 document is now merely a totem that is on display at the National Archives.

My review of Shenandoah: A Story of Conservation and Betrayal

Sue Eisenfeld shares her story of her adventures at Shenandoah National Park and the unpleasant background on how the park was created. Through 162 pages, she tells the reader about the exploration of the many ruins of family homes that once dotted portions of the Shenandoah Valley that were inside the park. Families lived in that part of Virginia for many generations and were still there in the late 1920s when William Carson, head of the Virginia State Conservation and Development Commission thought that it would be a good idea to involve the National Park Service in buying up land to create a new national park that would rival the ones in the West.

Old Rag Post Office, Weakley Hollow and Corbin Hollow are places of the past that were victims of state and federal bureaucrats that did not care that people in these places would get evicted and their dwellings torn or burn down in short order to please the nature lovers and the tourists. Only in recent history has these stories of eviction come to light with the National Park Service begrudgingly acknowledging the vanishing of these peoples from the park. A very solid presentation of folk life in these mountains along with stories of hiking off the trails to reach the remnants of what once was. Four stars.

Reflections on Justice Scalia’s Passing

I was sitting and resting in bed yesterday after working at the library when I read on my Facebook feed that Justice Antonin Scalia passed away from a heart attack at a resort ranch in the town of Marfa, Texas, a small town 200 miles east of El Paso.  Scalia was not without faults (most notably his adherence to the incorporation doctrine), but he was one of the few justices on the Supreme Court who did not buy the rubbish that the Constitution was a living, breathing document that had to be interpreted with the times.

The Constitution, as envisioned by our Founding Fathers, gave the federal Congress specified powers that were enumerated in Article I, Section 8 of that document.  James Madison, in Federalist No. 45, stated the following with regards to the federal Constitution:

The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the federal government are few and defined. Those which are to remain in the State governments are numerous and indefinite.

It was clear that many of the powers that the new government had would be restricted and that the states would have much to say as to how their own governments were run.  This practice was maintained for all of the 19th Century and early into the 20th Century.   Even after the convulsion of the War Between the States, the federal government was very small with budgets not even reaching $1 billion a year until our entrance into World War One.   In the aftermath of the war, the country took a decidedly different direction where power would be amassed on the Potomac and that the power of the states would gradually decline throughout the century.

The expansion of federal power greatly accelerated with the Coup of 1937, where the Supreme Court abandoned its place in applying strict construction of the Constitution and began to embrace a more progressive understanding of the document.  Men like Woodrow Wilson were influenced by the theory that law like men were evolving in Darwinian terms and that the Constitution’s meaning changed over time.

Antonin Scalia rightly saw the danger in the evolving theory and stated:

The Constitution is over 200 years old and societies change. It has to change with society, like a living organism, or it will become brittle and break. But you would have to be an idiot to believe that. The Constitution is not a living organism, it is a legal document. It says something and doesn’t say other things.

Obama will now likely replace Scalia with a man that fits his vision of what law should be.  Men like Scalia are few and precious in these days and he will be missed.

Review of “Nine Presidents Who Screwed up America” by Brion McClanahan

Brion McClanahan’s newest book truly shows that the Constitution has been a disembodied ghost for the last century. The author goes all the way back to the creation of the government under the Constitution in 1789 to show that that document was already in trouble with George Washington taking the wrong stance with regards to treaty enforcement with France.

Through the first half of the book, the author takes us through nine presidents that made decisions that caused grave damage to the rule of law under the Constitution. Each president’s transgressions are briefly described with Andrew Jackson growing bellicose against South Carolina, Teddy Roosevelt’s using his office for legislative purposes, FDR’s interment of Japanese-Americans and Obama’s work on Obamacare among the examples of legal abuse. The last chapter in Obama actually takes in the transgressions of the three presidents before him that acted in unconstitutional ways.

The second part of his book tells about four Presidents who did their best to hold to their oath to defend the Constitution seriously. John Tyler was cited as the outstanding example on how to stand against popular opinion in upholding the Constitution. Calvin Coolidge was the last hurrah for our country before things took a turn for the worse legally. Finally, the last few pages of book provides a road map (Article V Convention) on how to salvage the Constitution before it is too late.

Even though this book is just a brief overview, it does a great job in highlighting the awfulness the actions of some of our more famous (infamous?) Presidents. The bibliography in this book provides the reader with in-depth resources in case they want to study the issues further. A great book for your collection.

The ghost of conscription

“Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.”

Those words were added into the United States Constitution via the 13th Amendment which ended the formal institution of slavery after the end of the Civil War (War Between the States).  The irony of this action was that just two years before, the United Stated Congress pass the first conscription act in American history.  In essence, it meant that men being were being enslaved by the government in order for the army to free others from slavery…or so we were told.  From this time forward, the draft was used at various times in our history where men had to leave their farms and places of work to fight overseas.

In 1973, President Nixon pulled the plug on the draft and service in military once again became something that was voluntary.  A holdover from the days of the draft still remains with us and that is the Selective Service Act where men ages 18 to 25 must register with the Selective Service System.  It is possible that Congress can call a draft overnight and its odious whiff  will be once again with us.

With the involvement of women in combat, a even uglier aspect of the draft has surfaced where top men in the Army and Marine Corps recommended that women register for Selective Service as well.   It is becoming clear that our country is convulsing in a orgy of egalitarianism and that the call of women to participate in the draft is a sign that our culture is becoming more degraded every day.  Let’s end this foolishness of the draft and relegate it to the dustbin of history.

Misery at the GOP debate in South Carolina

Last night was a night to forget in terms of looking for a candidate at the debate to reduce the size of government and give us more liberty.    It is a given that serious cuts will have to be made, but with no commitment to reduce Social Security or eliminating gargantuan programs, the only only place that one could cut is the military.  Yet, what we heard from the candidates was the cacophonous refrain of “We need to rebuild our military.”  I must ask “with what?”  We are in serious debt to the tune of almost $19 trillion and going up every day and we are in areas of the world that we should have left over 25 years ago once the Cold War was over.  Why are we subsidizing the defense for Western Europe?  South Korea?  With their economies, they could very well handle more spending in their budgets for their defense.   Should we be in the position of supreme leadership in the world as Jeb Bush suggested?  His suggestion that  “We have to eliminate the sequester”  is a a sign that this game is over.  As Mark Kreslins stated so well:  “DC cannot save DC.”