Sean Wilentz Plays John Yoo on the Debt Ceiling (with my Response)

In the New York Times, Princeton historian Sean Wilentz: Obama and the Debt (arguing that refusing to raise the debt ceiling “would violate [a] ‘fundamental principle’ of the Constitution” and that the President “in times of national crisis, can invoke emergency power to protect the Constitution” by, in this case, borrowing on his own authority.)

(Thanks to Michael Perry for the pointer).

I have some comments, none of them complimentary.  So I’ll start by saying that Professor Wilentz is a great historian and everyone should, at minimum, read his Bancroft-award-winning The Rise of American Democracy: From Jefferson to Lincoln (W.W. Norton, 2006).

Now for the comments:

1.  Wilentz asserts the meaning of Section 4 of the Fourteenth Amendment, chiefly by looking at drafting and ratifying history, prominently quoting Republican leader Benjamin Wade, and referring to the beliefs and motivations of other principal drafters.  In sum, this is the original meaning of the Fourteenth Amendment.  Apparently Sean Wilentz is an originalist!

But wait, I thought historians denied the very foundations of originalism, claiming that history cannot be used to establish fixed meanings.  Is there actually some deep split among leading historians regarding the use of history?  (See alsohere, in which the great historian Joseph Ellis appears certain of the historical meaning of the Second Amendment).  Or do historians’ doubts about the coherence of originalism only apply when it’s done by law professors, or by conservatives?

2.  Professor Wilentz’s history doesn’t show what he thinks it shows.

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Don’t Be Distracted by the Fake Government Shutdown

If you have been watching CNN, you would think the sky was falling. Our ‘public servants’ have been whining and crying endlessly about how their precious bureaucracy has been shutdown. To these arrogant elitists, this means that the sun won’t shine and the grass won’t grow. However, the state of the country hasn’t changed very much in spite of the alleged shutdown.

In reality, the feds are still drone-bombing children, creating a 1984-style surveillance state, molesting people at airports and racking up astronomical amounts of debt to fund all of this deviousness. And of course, Obamacare is still being implemented in the state of Michigan thanks to the disgraced backstabber Rick Snyder.

The feds are hoping since a small amount of federal workers are temporarily laid off that the American public will panic and forget about the mountain of government incompetence and corruption that is evident at every level. As distracted as many Americans are unfortunately are, they are too fed up with the status quo to forget about how the numerous ways they have been tread upon by government. They see the prices of their food and gas going up, they see the dismal job market, they see the bizarre unhinged behavior of their government officials. All the propaganda in the world cannot keep the American people in the dark any longer.

The good news out of this turmoil is the polarized nature of government. The political system has been polarized for quite some time, but it has to be at a record level right now. This is good news because when these guys are at each others throats, less things get done. When less things get done, it is far less likely for the government to destroy the economy and our basic rights. It is really that simple.

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Oxford, Mass Passes Strong Non-Binding Resolution Against Indefinite Detention

Just days after Albany, New York passed a resolution as a statement of intent against indefinite detention, the Town of Oxford, Massachusetts followed up with another.

Under Massachusetts home rule law, a local community organized as a town preserves the open town meeting or the representative town meeting as their governing body rather than by the vote of an elected body like a town council.  On Wednesday, by popular vote, the People of Oxford approved – nearly unanimously – a strong resolution primarily drafted by People Against the National Defense Authorization Act (P.A.N.D.A).

NO LEGAL EFFECT

Like the one passed in Albany, the resolution in Oxford is not legally-binding – it is a mere statement of opinion and intent.  It holds no force of law over the activities of town employees, or anyone else for that matter.  But, it is a strong first step towards resisting and eventually nullifying indefinite detention (and other) unconstitutional federal powers within the Town, and the state of Massachusetts.  As noted in our report on the Albany resolution, a non-binding resolution – with no force of law – is an important step because it follows James Madison’s blueprint to resist federal acts within the states.    There are 4 steps which James Madison advised for us to take to stop federal powers, and such a resolution is an important piece of that puzzle.  (learn more below)

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A Glimpse into the Basement: Government is Force

This government shutdown gives us just a little glimpse into the basement under Washington D.C.

Government is not reason; it is not eloquent; it is force. Like fire, it is a dangerous servant and a fearful master.

Most attribute the quote to George Washington, although that remains questionable. But whether the first president uttered those words or not, they stand no less true.

Sometimes when I talk about tyranny, or the danger of centralized power, people accuse me of hyperbole. Honestly, sometimes it is. But any honest study of history reveals mtrushmorethat centralized governments rarely “care” for the people they lord over. They become self-serving institutions detached from the people, obsessed with maintaining their power and extending their authority.

The so-called government shut down cracks the door just a tad and allows us to peek into the dark basement below Washington D.C. I find what I see chilling.

The U.S. government is a bully.

Since the government partially closed last week, we’ve caught glimpses of this petty “I’ll show you mentality.”

The feds shut down websites.

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