Month Archives: December 2013

Our Constitution — Ordained and Established Legally!

by Robert Morrison

December 13, 2013

Michael Farris is the Chancellor of Patrick Henry College and the founder of the Home School Legal Defense Association. He has offered an amazing analysis of the ratification — let me call it what the Framers called it — the ordination and establishment of our U.S. Constitution. Everyone who calls him or herself a constitutional conservative should read Mike Farris’ compelling legal and historical research.

Farris quotes popular contemporary historian Joseph Ellis’ recent book, Founding Brothers, in which Ellis endorses the view that the adoption of the Constitution was procedurally marred. Ellis notes that that under the Articles of Confederation, which was our only American legal frame of government in 1787, the consent of all thirteen state legislatures was required in order to amend the Articles themselves.

Since the Constitution explicitly states that it will go into effect upon approval of only nine of the thirteen states, it is argued by many historians that the Framers somehow got around this requirement of the soon-to-be-superseded Articles of Confederation. Further, some historians also maintain that the choice of state ratifying conventions instead of state legislatures is also evidence of the Framers pulling something of an extra-legal coup d’état.

Making this case, many historians have argued that the Framers were right to do this because the Rhode Island legislature, for one, was controlled by radicals who opposed any changes that would strengthen the central authority of the Union. These historians cite the unflattering nickname that Little Rhody was given in the 1780s — Rogue Island. Thus, it is maintained, unanimous consent of the state legislatures was impossible.

The Framers were therefore forced to work around the Articles of Confederation and make a pragmatic move to get the new Constitution adopted. In effect, they say, the Framers finessed legality itself in doing what they knew had to be done.

Note that I distinguish between the Founders and the Framers. All the Framers can justly be called Founders, because they helped to establish our constitutional order and our new republic. But not all Founders are Framers. Patrick Henry, Sam Adams, and John Hancock are some of the famous Founders, and great patriots, too, who did not take part in the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia from May to September 1787.

Farris sets out to show that Ellis is wrong. I think he does a brilliant job of showing that (1) the Confederation Congress approved of the process of sending the newly drafted Constitution to the states for consideration and (2) the individual state legislatures approved the idea of convening ratification conventions in each state.

Mike Farris shows that, even if belatedly, the state legislatures of North Carolina and Rhode Island fell into line and approved the calling of state conventions whose sole task it would be to approve (or possibly disapprove) the new Constitution.

In doing this extensive legal and historical research, Michael Farris has done a vitally important thing. In my constitutional law classes, in my American history and political science classes at University of Virginia, and in my graduate studies in communications history at University of Washington, I was taught the Ellis line. I just assumed that the Framers at some point had to make a pragmatic decision in order to keep the ship of state from going up on the rocks.

Michael Farris’ important article reminds me of what the Illinois lawyer Abraham Lincoln did in his careful dissection of the Framers’ work on slavery. Lincoln in 1859 and early 1860 studied not only the constitutional provisions related to slavery, but also the actions of many of those Framers who went on to sit in our first Congresses under the Constitution.

Lincoln was seeking to prove that Congress did have the power to restrict slavery in the territories, that the Framers acting as elected Members of Congress, took part in re-adopting the famed Northwest Ordinance of 1787. That far-reaching measure was one of the major achievements of Congress under the Articles of Confederation.

Lincoln showed that when the First Congress elected under the Constitution sat in New York, it reaffirmed the Northwest Ordinance’s ban on all slavery in the old Northwest Territory.

Lincoln was not trying to gain recognition in some prestigious law review article. He incorporated his penetrating analysis into his famous Cooper Union Address, delivered in New York City in February 1860. Lincoln did the research that Chief Justice Roger B. Taney failed to do when he wrote his infamous decision in Dred Scott v. Sandford (1857). In that 7-2 ruling, Taney said the federal government had no power to prevent slavery spreading into all the territories. Lincoln refuted Taney masterfully. Many historians credit the Cooper Union Address as his strongest bid for the Republican nomination for president in 1860.

And Michael Farris, I believe, has refuted a horde of progressive historians who have taught us that pragmatism was the pole star of the Framers, that they were right in taking extralegal steps in order to achieve their worthy objectives.

Why does any of this matter today? ObamaCare is why. Every day, we see President Obama’s administration issuing new ukases and diktats relating to one-sixth of the U.S. economy. In the guise of fixing a national problem of uninsured persons, the president is daily achieving his stated goal of “fundamentally transforming this country.” A fundamental transformation means the constitution is being termited. Every day, President Obama and his radical appointees are taking actions unauthorized by the Constitution and antithetical to the Rule of Law.

The states, under ObamaCare, will become mere branch offices of the federal Department of Health and Human Services. That is why a majority of states rushed into federal court to try to block this seizure of power.

The ruling by Chief Justice John Roberts that said the individual mandate is constitutional because Congress has the power to tax us is, of course, an absurdity. It’s a dog’s breakfast of an opinion.

Every advocate for ObamaCare bitterly denied that the penalty for not enrolling the Mr. Obama’s exchanges, or having other government-approved health care insurance, was a tax. They denounced opponents of the legislation for even suggesting that this was the largest tax increase in U.S. history. “It’s not a tax,” President Obama told a television interviewer. Period.

But if it is a tax, then the Constitution explicitly states that all revenue bills must originate in the House of Representatives. This one originated in the Senate.

What Michael Farris has done in his excellent research is to reassure all Americans that the Constitution we received, the Constitution that was — the words have an almost religious meaning — ordained and established — still must be our pole star of legitimacy.

The new book, Freedom National: The Destruction of Slavery in the United States, 1861-1865, by James Oakes, shows convincingly how careful President Lincoln and the Republicans in Congress were to achieve emancipation only through fully legal and constitutional means. These included the adoption of the Thirteenth Amendment.

The Progressives, with their belief in a living Constitution, really are trying to force on us what Jefferson called “a thing of wax.” They pull and shape our basic document into any form they need, in order to achieve the pragmatic goals they want.

No wonder Speaker Nancy Pelosi looked incredulously at the man who asked her whether the health care takeover was constitutional. For someone who has been making it up as she goes along, for decades, Speaker Pelosi must have thought the man was speaking Greek.

Congratulations to Michael Farris for this indispensable contribution to our understanding of the Constitution the Founders — all of them — gave us. It is a jewel of inestimable worth.

Army-Navy Coin Toss — From 1963

by Robert Morrison

December 12, 2013

This Saturday, a very special football game will be viewed around the world. Army and Navy (and Marine Corps, too) duty stations will be tuned in to the Army-Navy Football Game, to be played in Philadelphia.

Every Army-Navy game is special, but the coin that will be used in this one has historical significance. It will be a silver dollar that was given to Tom Lynch, the captain of the 1963 Navy squad. Lynch, who rose to the rank of Admiral in the Navy, received the coin from then-Sec. of the Army, Cyrus Vance. It was the coin President Kennedy planned to toss to begin the football classic.

Fifty years ago, President Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas. Churches and synagogues opened all over America and the world for special memorial services. Theaters closed and athletic contests were canceled. Even the Army-Navy game was canceled, out of respect for the fallen Commander-in-Chief. But when the grieving Kennedy family heard that the President’s favorite football game would not be played, they publicly appealed to both teams to let the game be played.

CBS Sports has produced a documentary, titled Marching On. My wife, a thirty-year Navy veteran, and I were privileged to attend the premier of this excellent movie at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis.

The movie shows how Americans reacted to the death of the president, but also how it affected the two service academies. Surviving team members from both academies were on hand to share their memories of the game and the day.

Jack Ford of CBS Sports provided the color commentary. He recalled what America was like in 1963. One of the key sports facts was that there was no Super Bowl then, no BCS for college football. The Army-Navy game was therefore the football game that represented the whole country.

The stands in Philadelphia’s old Municipal Stadium were preternaturally silent, with 102,000 fans hardly daring to stir as the Brigade of Midshipmen marched on, dressed in their Navy blue bridge coats. The Corps of Cadets — that famed “Long Gray Line” — marched on, too, as 102,000 fans seemed not to know how they were supposed to react. There had never been such an event in the nation’s history.

Television had brought that Dallas motorcade into every home, and then the somber and moving funeral procession was viewed on TV by tens of millions. No previous presidential death had so affected so many.

This game, ironically, was being played on December 7, 1963. That date, too, bore an echo of the nation’s past. It was on that “Day of Infamy” in 1941 that every member of the older generation remembered where he or she was when the news of Pearl Harbor came over the radio. Once the game began, however, the tens of thousands roared and stomped. Veteran players said it felt like an earthquake. They had never heard such an outburst of emotion as in those hoarse voices. The games, they said, released all the pent-up feelings of the previous two weeks.

My wife and I applauded the documentary, of course. Every interview with players and coaches, every grainy black and white video clip was outstanding.

There were only two brief sour notes, and I’m sorry to say those notes were sounded by the only two historians in the movie. Douglas Brinkley referred to that supposed hostility of Dallas. This is part of the liberal myth of bad, right-wing Dallas.

Question: assassin Lee Harvey Oswald spent more time in Minsk, in the old USSR, than he ever did in Dallas. Why don’t liberals denounce Minsk?

The other off-base comment came from Robert Dallek, who referred to Oswald as some crazy Communist. As if real Communists would never engage in something so insane as assassination. Actually, Prof. Dallek, real Communists engaged in assassination every day for seventy years. You may consult The Black Book of Communism, the definitive record of the death of a hundred million people at the hands of regular Communists, made all the more believable because it was written by French leftists.

The point was made that the Dallas Cowboys was the team that Navy’s quarterback, the Heisman Trophy-winning Roger Staubach, would eventually join. The Cowboys are called “America’s team.” There was never a time when Dallas was not on America’s side.

That point was eloquently made by the recent memorial service in Dallas, where the Naval Academy Men’s Glee Club sang “Battle Hymn of the Republic.” Historian David McCullough and the Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings (D) emphasized their belief that the New Frontier ideals of John F. Kennedy did not die in Dallas.

My wife and I will be joining friends in Annapolis this weekend, cheering the team with fans around the world. We’ll yell “Beat Army,” of course, but we’ll know that in a special way, this is America’s game. With the healing provided by that classic 1963 Army-Navy game, it was all of America that had the chance to go Marching On.

Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.): ‘There is a law prohibiting the federal funding of abortions, but it is being done anyway’

by Bethany Brock

December 6, 2013

Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.) appeared on yesterday’s edition of “Washington Watch with Tony Perkins” to respond to the on-demand abortions found in Obamacare exchange healthcare plans in spite of the Hyde Amendment, which prohibits federal funding of abortion.

The president made a promise that he would adhere to the Hyde principle, and that means that you do not fund even a plan that includes abortion,” said the Representative.

Federal funding of Obamacare for healthcare plans that include abortions overrides the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program (FEHB), an amendment that Smith helped pass in 1983. FEHB states that the Office of Personal Management (OPM) cannot administer any plan that includes abortion, except in very limited cases. 

OPM has no choice but to obey the clear letter of the law.  That’s not what they’ve done,” Smith said.

There are 112 Obamacare plans that are offered to all of our Congressional staff in Washington and across the country and to members of Congress. Ninety percent of them, 103 of those plans out of 112, fund abortion on demand.”

Smith explained, “Those federal tax dollars will be going into forms of subsidies that will be buying these plans that include abortion on demand. It is outrageous in the extreme. There is a law prohibiting the federal funding of abortions, but it is being done anyway.”

He continued, “It is very difficult when you have a lawless president, executive branch, attorney general, and a justice department that is absolutely willing and complacent in the lawlessness to enforce federal statutes.

I’ve been in Congress 33 years and have never felt that our executive branch was out of control like this.” Smith said that even in past administrations there was always a sense that the rule of law was being adhered to. “Not so with these folk in the White House and our President. They do whatever they want. They break the law with impunity and this is a classic example.”

Smith recently introduced H.R. 7, a bill that proposes to completely remove abortion from Obamacare exchange plans and to repeal Obamacare. “We need to pass that and stay with that until it is the law of the land. I believe strongly and have voted repeatedly with the Republican leadership to repeal Obamacare itself.”

Click here to listen to the entire interview.

Co-Parenting” — Co-Operation in Ignoring Child Welfare

by Leanna Baumer

December 6, 2013

Following this year’s introduction of “wedleases” and “monogamish” to the personal relationship lexicon, we now arrive at the latest concept to jar our understanding of family life: “co-parenting.” On its face, the term sounds harmless — after all, parenting involves partnership. But, “co-parenting” isn’t being used to describe a renewed focus on the dual responsibility of a mom and dad to rear their children or even a focus on strategic parenting after a marriage ends in divorce.

Rather, this elective “co-parenting” describes a new way for adults to skip over love and marriage and go straight to the carriage, all with the ease of social networking websites that one fan has called “Facebook for fetuses.” With no intention of marriage, cohabitation, or any sort of romantic relationship with the co-parent, a man or woman can solicit a partner with which to conceive a child through in-vitro fertilization (IVF) and share custody in the future.

Sites like Modamily are quick to point out that they provide recommendations for co-parents to go through background checks, undergo health screening, and enter into detailed legal agreements regarding the rearing of the baby being constructed, all in an effort to establish a strategic baseline for the future split care of the child. Some reports are honest in explaining the phenomenon as essentially “cut[ting]straight to divorce” with all the legal complications that can abound.

In fact, the difficult realities which children of divorced parents face will likely be some of the same challenges faced by future children of co-parents. An ever-growing body of social science research tells us that divorce causes dramatic upheaval in the lives of children, imposing on many children the strong likelihood of negative economic, educational, and behavioral outcomes. Touting the functional equivalent of divorce — co-parenting — in light of those likely harms is not only foolish but inherently shortsighted. Without even an attempt to give children the known benefits of an intact marriage between their mom and dad, co-parents intentionally seek to introduce a child into a fractured home life from birth.

Children aren’t “things” to be peddled online and discussed as goods to be shared back and forth. Co-parenting backers state “love of the child is first and foremost” behind their efforts to give life to a child.  In reality, the only thing they are certain to give is a profound display of selfishness in prioritizing adult interests over child welfare.  

Conversions to Christianity in Muslim World: A Potential Death Sentence?

by Rob Schwarzwalder

December 4, 2013

Mark Fromager is “director of Aid to the Church in Need in France, one of 17 national offices of an international Catholic charity that provides assistance to the suffering and persecuted Church in more than 140 countries”

In a well-argued analysis, he makes a powerful, even undeniable, case that Islamic persecution of Christian converts is widespread and violent and, therefore, immoral. He writes:

… throughout the Middle East, notable individuals are converting to Christianity from Islam, but their stories, for obvious reasons, are seldom told. They actually face dramatic consequences and even death if they were to talk about their conversion. In Africa, to the consternation of some Muslim leaders, millions of Muslims are becoming Christians each year. In Europe, we tend to think only in terms of Christians becoming Muslims, but there is a strong movement in reverse as well. That is a story that does not make the headlines.

He cites some specific examples:

In the Middle East, there is no risk in converting from Christianity to Islam but the contrary is quite close to committing suicide, as apostasy is not allowed in Islam. It is punishable by death. One Iraqi man I know survived prison and an assassination attempt; he had to flee his country and is now living in France.

Fromager notes that his piece is not “an anti-Muslim screed, but an appeal for justice, for freedom, for a respect for human rights.”  Well said. For Americans, this particularly noteworthy since our charter text, the Declaration of Independence, affirms that our liberties are “unalienable” gifts of God, not whimsical grants of the state.

The author offers practical suggestions about what Western governments can do to advance religious liberty in the Islamic world.  Yet their implementation is another matter, both in Europe and the United States.

The Obama Administration has yet to replace motivational speaker Dr. Suzan Johnson Cook as Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom, who resigned her post recently (“[She] will not be missed because her tenure was so unremarkable,” said religious liberty champion Ann Buwalda. Dr. Tom Farr of Georgetown University commented, “the administration does not see international religious freedom policy as a priority.” So, whether or not these and other good ideas for advancing religious liberty internationally through American diplomacy is even on the table of policy options is open to serious question.

Former U.N. Ambassador Yoram Ettinger: ‘The deal with Iran and P5+1 Subordinates Reality to Wishful Thinking’

by Bethany Brock

December 3, 2013

Former United Nations Ambassador Yoram Ettinger appeared on yesterday’s edition of “Washington Watch with Tony Perkins” to discuss the recent negotiations between Iran and the United Nations Security Council (P5+1) about Iran’s nuclear program.

The deal with Iran and P5+1 subordinates reality to wishful thinking. We are talking about an agreement with Iran at a time when the regime in Iran does not show any sense of compliance with agreements on the domestic front, or on the regional front,” Ettinger said. “In fact, together with North Korea, Iran is the world leader in the violation of human rights, but we are told that when it comes to agreements, that they are supposed to comply.”

The former U.N. ambassador pointed out, “While Western societies seek agreements in order to solidify a peaceful coexistence, rogue regimes with imperialistic inspirations, like the regime in Iran, view this agreement as a tactical step in order to overcome the partner to the agreement. And this has been demonstrated again and again in the Middle East by Iran, by the other regimes, but it has been overlooked by the U.S. negotiators because they are so anxious to reach an agreement.”

Ettinger explained that the regime in Iran is led by “a spiritual leader who is known for his anti-American position. Worse than that, he is known for his art of diplomacy and art of misleading people, which is the need to mislead the infidel in order to advance the goals of Islam.”

This Iranian nuclear agreement is taking place with a regime that for the last 30 years has been subjected to various sanctions, but has not abated its pursuit of nuclear power. Ettinger said, “The question is, why would the same methodology – which hasn’t left a dent on the attempt of Iran to become nuclear – why is the same methodology – which didn’t yield anything for 30 years – supposed to yield something constructive in the next few months?”

According to Ettinger, the negotiations with Iran are “a combination of gullibility, probably an ignorance of what the Middle East is all about, as well as an eagerness to strike a deal because don’t we all know that peace is better than war?”

Ettinger summarized, “Some people have forgotten that if you want to prevent a war with a rogue regime, you’d better be equipped with a very substantial posture of deterrence, because reflecting complacency and reflecting estuation in the face of regimes invites war; [it] does not postpone war.”

Click here to listen to the entire interview.

Croatians Vote to Protect Marriage in Constitution

by Peter Sprigg

December 3, 2013

By an almost two-to-one margin, the people of Croatia affirmed in a referendum on Sunday, December 1 that “marriage is matrimony between a man and a woman.” That definition will now become part of the national constitution.

A pro-family group called “In the Name of the Family” spearheaded the referendum effort, which came in response to efforts by the current leftist government to extend marriage-like benefits to homosexual partners. Pro-family forces needed 450,000 petition signatures to place the issue on the ballot—but obtained 750,000 in only two weeks in a country of about 4.4 million (this would be the equivalent of obtaining 54 million signatures in the United States).

Both Croatian President Ivo Josipovic and Prime Minister Zoran Milanovic opposed the referendum. However, Croatia is almost 90 percent Roman Catholic, and the Church strongly supported the marriage vote. Croatian Cardinal Josip Bozanic had a letter read in the churches in which he declared, “Marriage is the only union enabling procreation. This is the key difference between a marriage … and other unions.”

In March 2012 the people of Slovenia, Croatia’s neighbor to the north, also rejected leftist social engineering by repealing a new “Family Code” that had been adopted the year before by the Slovenian parliament. The “Civil Initiative for the Family and the Rights of the Child” succeeded in rolling back the new code, which would have recognized homosexual unions and facilitated homosexual adoption and parenting.

Croatia was a part of Yugoslavia before the fall of the communist regime there in the early 1990’s, but it is now a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and the most recent country to join the European Union (EU).

A week before the Croatian vote, commentator J.C. von Krembach described the situation:

In both Slovenia and Croatia, the debate around so-called “LGBT rights” evidences the growing disconnection between the ruling classes … and the population. In both countries, politics and economy are under the control of a small – mostly ex-communist – nomenklatura seeking to ingratiate itself with the influential pressure-groups that currently act as opinion-makers throughout the greater part of Western and Northern Europe. These elites believe that, in order to be worthy members of the EU, their countries need to recognize same-sex “marriages”, [even] against the declared will of the people.

The people of Croatia are to be praised for standing up for the natural meaning of marriage and the traditional values of their country.

Is Obamazon Fixed? Depends on what the meaning of is is.

by Stephan Hilbelink and Robert Morrison

December 3, 2013

OK. It may seem a bit of a stretch to call the Healthcare.gov website Obamazon. But it isn’t our stretch. It’s his. The president himself said the system needs to work just like ordering an item on Amazon.com.

Well, despite all the hallooing from the administration over the weekend, it does not seem that Obamazon is quite at the level of Amazon. Not by a long shot.

When we hit “order” on Amazon, we get this really neat email back. Usually within five minutes.

It’s an email that tells us our order has been received, our payment is being charged to our credit card, and the item(s) we ordered is enroute to our home, or the other address we designated for shipment. They not only send the email, they provide a confirmation number so that we can track the delivery. Amazon has this neat feature called “Where’s my stuff?” that allows the purchaser to determine where in the delivery pipeline his or her order is at any given time.

Most important of all: our purchases with Amazon are secure. We can be assured that we will not get any emails from commercial competitors or, say, from the State of Delaware dunning us for any additional payments. It’s clear that Amazon would have been out of business in a week if it had failed to provide for the security of customer’s personal data.

The failure to assure the citizens’ security in Obamazon is not simply a “glitch.” It’s a fatal flaw. It raises alarming questions about the entire ObamaCare project.

How could anyone not build subscriber security into the website? How could they even think of designing a system with such a critical matter unattended to?

By requiring millions of Americans to provide some of their most sensitive personal data to the government, via the Obamazon website, and by failing to take care that that data is protected, the Obama administration has failed yet again to earn Americans’ trust.

What they are saying to the millions of Americans who are compelled by law to enroll: If you like your identity, you can keep it.

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