Framing — reblogged from DeHavelle.com

branches of government Keith DeHavelle authors one of my favorite blogs, DeHavelle.comFraming discusses the role Aristotle’s book, Politics, played in the formulation of our Constitution.

Framing

From a discussion on Citizen Tom’s blog on the forms of government, I wrote a bit on of how the US Constitution was inspired and framed:

There are conceptual hints in Scripture and remarks by Jesus on what forms of government are disfavored, but the Framers took inspiration from Aristotle. Many Enlightenment thinkers tended to downplay Aristotle, though the re-discovery of his works is one of the factors leading to the Enlightenment. But many of the Framers read Aristotle directly as well as earlier writers he inspired including Locke and de Montesquieu.

Aristotle spends the first several chapters of Book 4 of Politics cataloging systems of government in a way reminiscent of Linnaeus taking apart the structure of species of flowers. Aristotle gets something of a bad rap here, in which he is frequently said to “favor rule by a strong and virtuous leader.” This misunderstands him, as that is not his most favored arrangement. Here he describes a government divided into three branches:

Having thus gained an appropriate basis of discussion, we will proceed to speak of the points which follow next in order. We will consider the subject not only in general but with reference to particular constitutions. All constitutions have three elements, concerning which the good lawgiver has to regard what is expedient for each constitution. When they are well-ordered, the constitution is well-ordered, and as they differ from one another, constitutions differ. There is (1) one element which deliberates about public affairs; secondly (2) that concerned with the magistrates- the question being, what they should be, over what they should exercise authority, and what should be the mode of electing to them; and thirdly (3) that which has judicial power.

(continued here)

Why is ‘s post worth checking out? Aristotle’s book is ancient. When we read it and consider what it says, we can begin to grasp how our forebears struggled for the right to be free. The notion of a constitutional republic did not just pop into the heads of the men who wrote the Constitution. In a process that took thousands of years, people — many people — slowly and painfully developed the ideas that went into our Constitution. Aristotle was one of the first theorists.

Throughout human history, slavery has been the norm, and that did not change after Aristotle wrote his book. For thousands of years scholars studied Aristotle, but few others. What changed? Why did a group of men meet in Philadelphia and write a Constitution? What motivated them?

Consider. Our success in making our constitutional republic work requires a substantial amount personal integrity and hard work from each citizen. Where people don’t care enough to protect the rights of their family, friends, and neighbors, those people have no rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. So that raises this question. How did the American people acquire such a concern for their neighbors, even people they had never personally met? How did the people who founded of this country do that, and how do we maintain such integrity? Why should we even want to do so?

Are we willing to protect the integrity our Constitution for the sake of our children. Will we work to add what improvements we can?

If you and I just don’t care, that is a bad sign for the next generation and those that follow.

Why I’m Supporting Ted Cruz for President… and Why You Should Too

Whilst the last members were signing it Doctor Franklin looking towards the President's Chair, at the back of which a rising sun happened to be painted, observed to a few members near him, that Painters had found it difficult to distinguish in their art a rising from a setting sun. “I have,” said he, “often and often in the course of the Session, and the vicissitudes of my hopes and fears as to its issue, looked at that behind the President without being able to tell whether it was rising or setting: But now at length I have the happiness to know that it is a rising and not a setting Sun.” -- Benjamin Franklin at the signing of the United States Constitution, Journal of the Constitutional Convention (17 September 1787) (from here) (picture from here)
Whilst the last members were signing it Doctor Franklin looking towards the President’s Chair, at the back of which a rising sun happened to be painted, observed to a few members near him, that Painters had found it difficult to distinguish in their art a rising from a setting sun. “I have,” said he, “often and often in the course of the Session, and the vicissitudes of my hopes and fears as to its issue, looked at that behind the President without being able to tell whether it was rising or setting: But now at length I have the happiness to know that it is a rising and not a setting Sun.” — Benjamin Franklin at the signing of the United States Constitution, Journal of the Constitutional Convention (17 September 1787) (from here) (picture from here)

Yesterday I got an email from Ken Cuccinelli. He has endorsed Senator Ted Cruz for President. I have been considering the Republican field, and I had decided to support either Cruz or Ben Carson. I have been surprised by Donald Trump‘s performance. He has turned out to be a far stronger candidate than anyone expected. However, of the three, only Cruz is a life-long committed Conservative. Only Cruz has record that says he will fight and knows how to fight for Conservative political values. So I had planned to write a post extolling Cruz’s virtues. However, since Cuccinelli writes better than I do……

Cuccinelli CompassMy Fellow Virginians,

I am one of countless Republicans exasperated with how the Washington Republican “leadership” has failed to even try to advance our basic principles, to say nothing how they continue to violate their own campaign promises.  Like many others, I believe Washington is a politically incestuous den of crony government – and that’s bi-partisan.  We have many challenges as a country, but we will never confront most of those challenges unless we elect a President who is willing to swim against the current of corruption of Washington.

While many Presidential candidates are trying to make the case that they won’t be captured by Washington, only Senator Ted Cruz has the consistent track record to prove it.  Does that make him appear to not get along with the Washington leadership?  Yes.  Does the leadership dislike him?  Yes.  In the mainstream media, this conflict is portrayed as a bad thing.  I think it’s a good thing.  The folks that don’t like Senator Cruz in Washington don’t like him because he’s an unapologetic Constitutional Conservative that doesn’t back down.  I can live with that… in fact, I can get pretty excited about that!

The intensity of the Republican grassroots’ anger at the GOP leadership is THE major reason that Donald Trump continues to perform well in polling.  It was also part of the successful launch of Dr. Ben Carson.  That anger isn’t just a reaction to President Obama’s destructive policies; it is a reaction to the Republican leadership’s unwillingness to lead like Republicans.  While I respect Donald Trump and Ben Carson, only Ted Cruz has had a consistent record (after getting elected) of challenging the Republican leadership and President Obama’s disastrous policies.  Lots of people talk about fighting Washington, Senator Cruz has done it.

On foreign policy, the GOP seems to have three groups: the “neocons” on one end, the “Paulites” on the other end, and then a group in the middle.  Most of the GOP candidates are neocons.  I used to be a neocon too… until I figured out that neocon polices don’t work and cost far too much in lives and treasure.  I would also note that the neocons are the most willing to “conveniently” read the constitution in ways that dramatically tip the balance between liberty and security…away from liberty.  This tendency is particularly true with regard to their willingness to trample the Fourth Amendment (requiring government to get a warrant based on probable cause to search or seize your property).

I have come to believe that we cannot have a knee-jerk reaction to enter every armed conflict, but should preserve our strength and political capital to be aggressive where it matters most to American interests.  Examples poor foreign policy actions include working to remove Muammar Gaddafi in Libya (in 2011) and Bashar Assad in Syria (which has not yet occurred).  Although they may be loathsome human beings, our efforts to remove national leaders we don’t like in the Middle East often brings much more catastrophic circumstances with regard to America’s security, as we have seen in Libya where ISIS and Al Qaeda have greatly grown in strength since 2011.

Over the last 15 years, America has spent trillions of dollars that we don’t have on foreign policy ventures, most of which have proven bad investments.  We need a President frugal enough to actually count the monetary cost our foreign policy.  Ted Cruz is in the middle group of Republicans on foreign policy issues.  While it may be rousing to hear emotional, warlike rhetoric from some candidates, I believe such strategies are proven failures and I want my next President to break the cycle of foreign policy failures of the current and past Presidents.

One of the reasons the GOP establishment and big corporate interests dislike Ted Cruz is because he has fought amnesty in immigration.  The threat of terrorism and the debilitating drain on our resources from unfettered immigration show clearly that we must have a President who will stand strong for American sovereignty on immigration and against the big corporate interests that control the congressional leadership of both parties.

Ted Cruz’s consistent resistance to the growth of Washington power has also extended to the budget.  The Fed just raised interest rates ¼ of 1%.  That equates to almost $50 billion more dollars of interest payments on our national debt every year.  And the Fed has signaled that it expects a full 1% increase through 2016.  That means that our nearly $20 trillion national debt will squeeze out almost $200 billion of money from our national budget in 2017 just to pay interest on the debt!  Wow, that’s a big number!

Obama has already eviscerated our military.  The increased debt payments will make it much, much harder to find the money we need to repair Obama’s damage to our military.  Among the top Presidential candidates, only Ted Cruz has shown the commitment to cutting the federal budget in the aggressive way necessary to attack our federal debt.  That debt is one of the greatest threats to our children’s future that the next President will face.

One way Ted Cruz has demonstrated his commitment to conservative principles is by the type of people he has hired in his Senate office.  He believes ‘personnel is policy.’ Many of the people Senator Cruz hired for his Senate office came out of former Senator Jim DeMint’s staff.  Compare his hiring history to others in the top tier of the nomination contest and it’s no contest.  This is part of Cruz’s consistent, conservative track record.  He will bring in to his administration dedicated, patriotic conservatives to help shrink the power of government in our lives and in our economy.

And while I could go on to other reasons why Ted Cruz should be our next President, I will end with this:  Ted Cruz has shown – starting long before he ever ran for the U.S. Senate – that he is committed to the first principles of this country.  He is a full spectrum conservative who knows and has fought to protect our Constitution.  He doesn’t protect the parts of the Constitution he likes, and he doesn’t protect the Constitution only when it’s convenient.  Ted Cruz fights for our whole Constitution – all the time.  This commitment to our Constitution will be reflected in how he uses the executive power of the President and the judges he nominates.

Ted Cruz has been a consistent, full-spectrum conservative who has a strong track record of fighting for -and bleeding for – our first principles.  Many candidates “talk conservative” during campaigns, but their actions don’t match their campaign rhetoric.  No other candidate can match Senator Ted Cruz’s strong conservative track record.

America is at a tipping point.  It is not enough for us to get a Republican President in 2016 – someone who will simply preside over the decline of America.  We need a Republican President who will undo the damage done by President Obama and who will take on his own party leadership to finally reign in the power and reckless spending of Washington.

That candidate is Senator Ted Cruz.

For liberty,

Ken Cuccinelli, II

Here is the same endorsement on Cuccinelli’s facebook page => https://www.facebook.com/KenCuccinelli/posts/10153494942398692. If you are on facebook and want to indicate your approval, please do so.

Note: If we Conservatives want a Conservative in the White House, we have to get out and support our guy. Cruz is that guy.

Note: If we Conservatives want an effective Conservative in the White, we have to do something about the Liberal Democrats and the Big Spending RINOs in Congress. We must run candidates against them, and we must relentlessly replace any of our candidates who fail to deliver on their promises. In particular, we must insist that they cut Federal spending.

Note: If we Conservatives want to save our republic — to save our country for the sake of our children and grandchildren — we cannot give up. Failure is not an acceptable option.

We must constantly keep in our minds what Ronald Reagan once said.

Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children what it was once like in the United States where men were free. — Ronald Reagan (from here)

Too few of us have fought for our freedom. With no effort on our part, we gained our freedom from our parents just as they gained it from their parents. Too few of us have protected our freedom. Instead, we have protected our “rights,” and too few of us have yet to discern the difference between our rights and our privileges.

What is the difference between a right and a privilege? Too few of us care. Perhaps that is why too few of us have handed onto our children the true meaning of freedom. Perhaps that is why we now risk spending our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children what it was once like in the United States when men were free.

CHRISTMAS PRESENTS FOR THE SPECIAL INTERESTS

Something for everyone? (from here)
Something for everyone. (from here)

It seems that every year now the our politicians scheme to work while the rest of celebrate our joy in the birth of Jesus Christ. Here is how CNN,  the first of the blatantly Liberal Democrat cable news networks, puts it.

Mimicking college students everywhere, Congress is waiting until the end of the term to get things done.

Lawmakers have crammed a year’s worth into two massive tax and spending bills they are expected — but not guaranteed — to pass later this week. Released in the middle of the night Tuesday, the measures detail how the federal government will spend $1.1 trillion on everything from national parks to NASA to veterans’ health. They also dictate new policy for cybersecurity, oil exports and suspend some Obamacare taxes. (continued here)

In fact, the going has been so smooth for our new Speaker that he is getting his bills passed with so little opposition he is having trouble delaying them to a time when almost no one is noticing.

Democratic leaders are unanimous in declaring a complete victory over House Speaker Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) and his close allies, who wrote the $1.1 trillion omnibus budget without asking House conservatives for any input — or even for some public objections to help their closed-door negotiations.

The Democrats’ victory, and Republican Ryan’s defeat, was garishly displayed when his omnibus got more Democratic votes in the House and in the Senate than it got Republican votes.

“I said I would not accept a lot of [conservative] ideological riders that were attached to a big budget deal,” President Barack Obama said Friday, at his end-of-year press conference. “And because of some terrific negotiations by the Democrats up on Capitol Hill and I think some pretty good work by our legislative staff here… it was a good win,” he said. “We met our goals,” he said. (continued here)

Think about the sheer stupidity this headline describes: Congress Votes To Fund Nearly 300,000 Visas For Muslim Migrants In One Year. Will you find anything in the Liberal news media about this provision in that 2,000 page bill that Congress  presented to us at the last minute? Yet it is there. Even though we are heading for an obvious crash, our glorious leaders still have us on auto pilot. Spending is through the roof. Our foreign policy is a wreck. We don’t even protect our borders. Even with a majority in both houses, we have too many RINOs in the Republican Party, too many RINOs who care more about pleasing fat cat donors than they do about the welfare of our country.

Is the Virginia Commonwealth different? Time will tell. Consider this email I got from Delegate Rob Bell.

ROB BELLDear friend:

Just in time for Christmas, Governor McAuliffe announced his $109 billion budget, which includes a wish list of $3 billion in new initiatives. Some of his proposals, like cuts in the corporate tax rate, are clearly intended to win conservative support.

But look deeper and McAuliffe’s real plan becomes clear. To pay for these proposals, McAuliffe endorses the Obamacare Medicaid expansion and imposes new taxes on hospitals (that would ultimately be passed on to patients).

This is fiscally reckless. Since 1985, Medicaid spending has increased by 2068% and has grown from 5% of the general fund (state) budget to more than 22%. (See the full chart, here.) Just since 2004, state Medicaid spending has grown from $1.8 billion to a projected $4.46 billion in 2018. This growth is clearly unsustainable, and McAuliffe’s proposed expansion would add hundreds of thousands more Virginians to the Medicaid rolls. Such expansion will only make it that much harder to address Medicaid’s runaway growth.

McAuliffe has stated that the only way to pay for his budget is to expand Medicaid. The House has repeatedly rejected this approach. As the budget process moves forward, I hope you will support a more fiscally responsible budget that addresses Virginia’s true needs without raising taxes or mortgaging our future.

If you would like to share your thoughts with the Governor, you can contact him here. Please also e-mail me any thoughts you have.

Sincerely,

Rob Bell
Delegate, 58th District

Autopilot is not good enough. We have to replace the RINOs.

WHAT IS THE LAW OF THE LAND? — PART 4

Paul the Apostle, by Rembrandt Harmensz van Rijn c. 1657
Paul the Apostle, by Rembrandt Harmensz van Rijn c. 1657 (from here)

In the first post of this series, we took up the task of Defining The Law Of The Land. After that, we considered The Purpose Of The Law Of The Land. The last post focused upon the effect of what we believe. How do we achieve a consensus? What should be The Law Of The Land? That post considered The Means of Persuasion — Ethos, Pathos, and Logos.

Here we will look at our leadership, but first a diversion.

Fun On A Saturday Afternoon

On Saturday afternoon, I attended Delegate Bob Marshall‘s Campaign Kick-Up” Event (Virginians will vote on November 3, 2015.). It was fun, good food, dancing, and politics.  Got to watch Delegate Marshall dance with his lady, Cathy, and Senator Dick Black dance with his lady, Barbara. That obviously made the ladys happy. Now my wife is after me to dance. Oh well….

I was there for the food and the politics. In addition to Delegate Marshall, Congressman Rob Wittman, Senator Black, Supervisor Jeanine Lawson, and Willie Deutsch (candidate for Member School Board – COLES DISTRICT) spoke. Clerk of the Court Michele B. McQuigg also attended. McQuigg surprised Marshall a bit when she declined to speak, but she did had little reason to do so. Wittman and Marshall both spoke glowingly of her, and she obviously supports Marshall. And there were plenty of good speeches.

Strangely, however, what I found most memorable was a speech not given by a politician. Instead, the fellow giving the invocation made the most powerful statement, and his quotes of Charles Finney and Noah Webster formed the core of his speech. I then decided quotations from those two gentleman would form the core of this post.

Why Must We Choose A New Leadership?

Many wise and learned men have written about the problem of finding good leadership for a republic. That includes why we must be careful.

In 1838, Abraham Lincoln gave this address, The Perpetuation of Our Political Institutions: Address Before the Young Men’s Lyceum of Springfield, Illinois (January 27, 1838). Here is an excerpt.

It is to deny, what the history of the world tells us is true, to suppose that men of ambition and talents will not continue to spring up amongst us. And, when they do, they will as naturally seek the gratification of their ruling passion, as others have so done before them. The question then, is, can that gratification be found in supporting and maintaining an edifice that has been erected by others? Most certainly it cannot. Many great and good men sufficiently qualified for any task they should undertake, may ever be found, whose ambition would inspire to nothing beyond a seat in Congress, a gubernatorial or a presidential chair; but such belong not to the family of the lion, or the tribe of the eagle. What! think you these places would satisfy an Alexander, a Caesar, or a Napoleon?–Never! Towering genius disdains a beaten path. It seeks regions hitherto unexplored.–It sees no distinction in adding story to story, upon the monuments of fame, erected to the memory of others. It denies that it is glory enough to serve under any chief. It scorns to tread in the footsteps of any predecessor, however illustrious. It thirsts and burns for distinction; and, if possible, it will have it, whether at the expense of emancipating slaves, or enslaving freemen. Is it unreasonable then to expect, that some man possessed of the loftiest genius, coupled with ambition sufficient to push it to its utmost stretch, will at some time, spring up among us? And when such a one does, it will require the people to be united with each other, attached to the government and laws, and generally intelligent, to successfully frustrate his designs. (from here)

Note that Lincoln speaks of only the chief leader. He predicted that some leaders would be controlled with only the greatest difficulty, and we now have a leader who speaks brazenly of the power of his phone and his pen. Yet what is our real problem? Is President Barack Obama a man possessed of the loftiest genius, or is it that at every level of public office we have elected unscrupulous men and women? Thus, when our president does not fulfill the obligations of his office — when he violates his oath and breaks The Law Of The Land — he finds support. Therefore, we cannot stop him. We cannot even slow him down. And so our leader, the leader of the world’s most powerful nation, has set the whole world in turmoil, and we can only watch the unraveling.

fatter_disaster

What have we failed to do?

Some call Charles Finney the Father of American revivalism. Whether he was such or not, Finney spoke at a time preachers were willing to speak of politics.

The church must take right ground in regard to politics. Do not suppose, now, that I am going to preach a political sermon, or that I wish to have you join and get up a Christian party in politics. No, I do not believe in that. But the time has come that Christians must vote for honest men, and take consistent ground in politics, or the Lord will curse them. They must be honest men themselves, and instead of voting for a man because he belongs to their party, Bank or Anti-Bank, Jackson, or Anti-Jackson, they must find out whether he is honest and upright, and fit to be trusted. They must let the world see that the church will uphold no man in office, who is known to be a knave, or an adulterer, or a Sabbath-breaker, or a gambler. Such is the spread of intelligence and the facility of communication in our country, that every man can know for whom he gives his vote. And if he will give his vote only for honest men, the country will be obliged to have upright rulers. . . . As on the subject of slavery and temperance, so on this subject, the church must act right or the country will be ruined. God cannot sustain this free and blessed country, which we love and pray for, unless the church will take right ground. Politics are a part of religion in such a country as this, and Christians must do their duty to the country as a part of their duty to God. It seems sometimes as if the foundations of the nation were becoming rotten, and Christians seem to act as if they thought God did not see what they do in politics. But I tell you, he does see it, and he will bless or curse this nation, according to the course they take. (from here)

Was Finney right? Is politics part of the religion in a country such as this? All I know is that who we vote for reflects a moral choice. When fail to vote for the welfare of our family, friends, neighbors, and countrymen — when we vote selfishly — God cannot sustain us as a free and blessed country.

Noah Webster is famous as a lexicographer for his commitment to education. He stated our obligation as voters this way.

When you become entitled to exercise the right of voting for public officers, let it be impressed on your mind that God commands you to choose for rulers, “just men who will rule in the fear of God.” The preservation of government depends on the faithful discharge of this duty; if the citizens neglect their duty and place unprincipled men in office, the government will soon be corrupted; laws will be made, not for the public good so much as for selfish or local purposes; corrupt or incompetent men will be appointed to execute the laws; the public revenues will be squandered on unworthy men; and the rights of the citizens will be violated or disregarded. If a republican government fails to secure public prosperity and happiness, it must be because the citizens neglect the divine commands, and elect bad men to make and administer the laws. (from here)

So what should we do? How should we select good leaders? Fortunately for us, the Bible offers us some good advice. A couple of thousand years ago, here is what the Apostle Paul told a young protegé about selecting leaders for the church in Ephesus, which was then a corrupt city.

1 Timothy 3:1-7 Good News Translation (GNT)

Leaders in the Church

This is a true saying: If a man is eager to be a church leader, he desires an excellent work. A church leader must be without fault; he must have only one wife, be sober, self-controlled, and orderly; he must welcome strangers in his home; he must be able to teach; he must not be a drunkard or a violent man, but gentle and peaceful; he must not love money; he must be able to manage his own family well and make his children obey him with all respect. For if a man does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of the church of God? He must be mature in the faith, so that he will not swell up with pride and be condemned, as the Devil was. He should be a man who is respected by the people outside the church, so that he will not be disgraced and fall into the Devil’s trap.

We tend to overlook Paul’s advice and think only of church leaders. Yet our nation’s borders envelope thousands of churches. Our political leaders ensure the morality of our laws. Like it or not, our leaders impose their values upon society. When our leaders are immoral, they endanger our own values and the values of our family, friends and country.

We also may think of Paul’s advice as quaint, not appropriate for today.  For example, when Paul wrote this passage, he wrote to people who would not have seriously considered women as leaders. Paul, however, appointed women to positions of trust, and he readily accepted their help. As 1 Corinthians 9 explains, Paul adapted to the culture of each people he visited. He wanted people to listen to when he preach the Gospel, not argue over side issues.

1 Corinthians 9:22-23 Good News Translation (GNT)

22 Among the weak in faith I become weak like one of them, in order to win them. So I become all things to all people, that I may save some of them by whatever means are possible.

23 All this I do for the gospel’s sake, in order to share in its blessings.

Thanks to a couple of thousand years of such patient Christian teaching, in this country we no longer allow men to select themselves to lead by using the point of their swords. Instead, we vote. Hence, each Christian now has an obligation to demonstrate how a Christian should participate in politics. When we support our candidates, and when we vote, we can put Paul’s words to action. We can back the candidate we would most like to have in charge of our church. If he (or she) is not fit for that job, he probably won’t do a good job as a leader of our county, our city, our state or our country.

Character does matter.