HAVING AND UTILIZING THE MEANS TO THE TRUTH

freedomconscience

 

Why This Post

When I got a comment that began as follows from a commenter who calls himself “scout”, I decided to write this post.

Your last comment blazingly illustrates another major difference between our disparate “conservatisms”: the place of religion in secular political discourse. One, of course, can be some kind of “conservative” in a religious context. Bin-Laden and his murderous brigands can be said to be conservative Islamists, I suppose. But my political conservatism is very much an American (derived from 18th Century English) conservatism based on a constitutional secular government and economic theory. It has nothing to do with my discernment of Scripture.  (continued here)

Why This Title

At first I thought to give this post this title: BLAZINGLY ILLUSTRATING THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN DISPARATE “CONSERVATISMS”. Then I read an editorial: Easter 2014: Hope for the dead by Judge Andrew P. Napolitano. Here is the new title in the context in which I found it.

When the government takes away our free will, the government steals a gift from God; it violates the natural law; it prevents us from having and utilizing the means to the truth. The moral ability to exercise free will to seek the truth is a natural right that all humans possess, and the government may only morally interfere with the exercise of that right when one affirmatively has given it away by using fraud or force to interfere with the exercise of someone else’s natural rights. (from here)

When I was young, I was persuaded of the danger of mixing religion with politics. However, I have since learned of the danger of not resting our political beliefs upon the sound foundation of Biblical truth. Hence, when Napolitano makes the connection between Easter and slavery, I no longer have to be persuaded of what Truth Jesus manifested with his death and resurrection.

On Easter, three days after He died, that manifestation was complete when He rose from the dead. By doing that, he demonstrated to us that while living we can liberate our souls from the slavery of sin and our free wills from the oppression of the government, and after death we can rise to be with Him. (from here)

Why Not The Gods Of This Age

In The Sermon on the Mount, Jesus tells us to build our house on the Rock.

Matthew 7:24-27 English Standard Version (ESV)

Build Your House on the Rock

24 “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. 26 And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. 27 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.”

Instead, we have built upon the truths promoted by those who worship the idols of our age. John Stonestreet briefly describes those idols in The Gods We Worship.

I often wondered why, when I saw the flannel graph pictures of Old Testament idols, would someone carve an ear into wood and then talk to it? It’s a good question. But the idols of our day are just as contrived aren’t they? We are tempted by the god of stuff as if it will meet our deepest needs; the god of sex as if it could replace a Divine relationship; the god of state as if it will solve all our problems; and the god of self as if we could be a law until ourselves and there were no one else before us. (from here)

Jesus taught that to be free we must be freed from sin (see WHEN DO THE PEOPLE STEAL THEIR OWN FREEDOM?). And to be freed from sin, we must each learn to trust in the Rock, our Lord and savior, Christ Jesus. And while government cannot bring us closer to Him, when government seeks to prevent us from learning of Him and living as He commanded — prevents us from having and utilizing the means to the truth — those who rule trample on our God-given rights. Hence, these lines in the Declaration of Independence.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. –That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. (from here)

When Conservatives advocate God-given rights, Conservatives rest the foundations of our republic upon a fundamental Christian teaching. To be free, we must each learn how to love God and our neighbors, and no one can make any of us love either God or our neighbors. To those who will listen Christians can preach the Gospel, but only Jesus can save men’s souls.

Why We Don’t Have To Vote For “Christians”

Does basing our politics upon a Christian foundation mean we should only elect Christians to public office? No. Because we can only judge a candidate’s record, and not his heart, whether a candidate labels himself a Christian or an Atheist may not especially relevant. It is an unfortunate fact, but some candidates who label themselves Christian behave more poorly than those who do not.

The problem is one of truth in labeling. A candidate can label himself anything, but we can only judge what a man will do based upon what he has done in the past. Therefore, when we go to the polls, what should matter to us is each candidate’s record and his stance on the issues.

What we must strive to avoid are candidates who promote the worship the gods of our age. Because they are ultimately based of upon the pride of a mere man, when we bow to the gods of our age –stuff, sex, state, and self — we build both our lives and our republic upon a foundation of sand. When the floods come, those who place their trust in such gods, gods of their own making, will be washed away.

Is Mixing Our Religion With Our Politics An Extreme Position?

Think of the irony contained in that question. Doesn’t the founding document of our nation, the Declaration of Independence, mix religion with politics? Wasn’t King George III trying to deny the American colonials of their God-given rights?

We can argue all we want about the purpose of government, but in the final analysis we come down to one question: what is the right thing to do? For most of us, the difference between right and wrong — good and evil — is a religious question. Therefore, when people insist upon separating religion and politics, we should be suspicious. What do they have against our religious beliefs? If religion is an issue, then is it possible they wish to impose their own religious beliefs using the power of government?

Other Posts That Relate Christianity and Conservatism

Previously, the post I wrote that probably came closest to addressing the topic of this one was THE MYTH OF THE FISCAL CONSERVATIVE. Others include:

30 thoughts on “HAVING AND UTILIZING THE MEANS TO THE TRUTH

  1. I fear, Tom, liberals have already accomplished what the Declaration proclaims as a right of the people. In relevant part I submit to you the following: “That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends [Capitalism], it is the Right of the People [Liberals/Socialists] to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form [Socialism], as to them [Socialists] shall seem most likely to effect “THEIR” Safety and Happiness”.

    As a believer in the one true God, that of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, I do not believe in any separation of “Religion and Politics”. I believe, as in the case of these United States they’re inseparable. for it is WE the PEOPLE who, in Order to Form a more perfect UNION hold a right to Ordain our own liberty in accordance with scripture.

    I agree with you, we need to witness for ourselves the past voting of each candidate prior to casting our “yea” or “nay” vote(s). Yet, I am perplexed over why, with 78% of the U.S. population professing Christianity as their religious preference, we fail, election after election, in finding our own candidate as opposed to accepting what they put in front of us.

    We have, time after time, given ground to those who we ultimately should oppose respective to values and principles. It is for this same sound reason we have had appointed as Justices those whom oppose Freedom of Religion. More appropriately, opposing Christianity.

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    1. Can’t disagree with your observations..

      Democracy is a device that ensures we shall be governed no better than we deserve. — George Bernard Shaw

      I find it curious is that many of the men who say things like this are also Socialists.
      http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/3673945/Famous-quotes-about-democracy.html

      So why do we have people who call themselves Christians voting for their own enslavement? Few Christians ever bother to read and study the Bible. Because they took it more seriously, the people who colonized America created a republic. Unfortunately, succeeding generations have not taken the task of educating their children in the faith to heart. So few today actually think much about what it means to be a Christian. Instead, they drift, and many have started worshiping the gods of our age – stuff, sex, state, and self. Hence, what you do on your blog is quite relevant.

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      1. I find your comment quite accurate, Tom. Many comments I receive from readers reflect much of their own indoctrination.

        My thought on your comment is this: “The questioning of your own existence is a question for creation; the question of your own democracy is the justification of your answer to your question on creation.”

        We entered a time, long ago, where a feel good society is justification for putting down the Bible. We have given our right, as parents, to a state sponsored society governed by the unjust.

        Some people say “a dollar doesn’t buy what it used too.” My response is “you get what you pay for. In the sense of taxation – it is particularly true – you get what you pay for.”

        Keep posting the truth, Tom. We’re with you.

        May the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob bless and keep you.

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  2. @ Altruistico: we do not have candidates in this country who are defined by religion. Our Constitution bans religious tests for office. Obviously, there are always pols who will try to scam voters by professing to be the “Christian” candidate, or “Jewish” candidate, or “Buddhist” candidate or “Muslim” candidate and hope there are enough dim-witted citizens out there to vote for them. But, of course, any candidate who tries to scam the electorate with these labels is, at best, incompetent, and, at worst, a fraud. A candidate who defines himself purely religiously (whether sincerely or not – and the odds are good that such an effort is manipulative and insincere), probably does not have the capability to solve the secular problems that face the country.

    I’ll ask you a question that I’ve put previously to Tom: Can a Socialist (or even a liberal, if you want a closer case) be a Christian, in your view?

    A second question, based on your last paragraph: Which Justice (or Justices) on the Supreme Court have opposed Freedom of Religion or Christianity? (to make it more current, I don’t mind if you confine your answer to the last 100 years). I certainly am aware of none. But your answer would be useful in making sense of your comment.

    Tom: which Christians have voted for their own enslavement? The closest I can come to an answer to this are professed Christians in the 18th and 19th Century who may have voted to enslave others (including other Christians), but not themselves. Perhaps I’m overlooking something, but the supporting data on this will be of great interest.

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    1. scout – Please read the Constitution again. There is nothing in it that prevents us from voting our values. Voting our values, even Christian values, does not constitute a religious test as defined by the Constitution.

      As I noted in my post, we should judge each candidate’s record and his stance with respect to the issues that concern us. Then we should vote for the person we deem best qualified. Since many political issues involve decisions between of right and wrong, why doesn’t make sense for Christians to vote in accordance with their Christian beliefs? Why should that bother you?

      Am I calling for a theocracy? No. In fact, I have proposed the exact opposite. I have called for a return for limited, constitutional government.

      Consider the source of most government spending. Observe that the Bible condemns stealing. Most government spending involves health, education, and welfare programs. That is, our government takes what rightfully belongs to one person just to give it to another. Observe that the Bible condemns stealing. Therefore, even if someone legally takes the rightful property of one person just to give it to another (too often a very covetous one), the Bible condemns that as theft. That makes redistributing the wealth — even by government — stealing and therefore wrong. You disagree? Then please explain what makes redistributing the wealth ethical and try to use a secular argument, if there is such a thing. Meanwhile, in addition to refuting your arguments, I will reference posts that explain why giving politicians such power can only lead to our enslavement.

      As to which Christians have voted for their own enslavement, I will let you figure that one out for yourself. Even if I knew how everyone voted, I am not here to judge. What I hope to do is point out self destructive behavior — sin — and hope others will repent as I have.

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      1. Tom – hardly a day goes by that I don’t read at least parts of the Constitution. My work requires it. Of course people can cast votes based on religious values and beliefs, be they Christian or otherwise. My point is that if people assert that the dominant criterion in their candidate selection decisions is based on their perception of the candidate’s religious faith, one will get a lot of charlatans gaming that instinct through vocal, but shallow claims of religiosity. That leads to a climate where the difficult, practical policy concerns that mark so many of the issues important to the Republic really don’t get debated at all, and you also get what we have witnessed at least a half dozen times in recent years at the national level, of vocal “values” candidates getting caught out in the most hypocritically disreputable behaviors. I would prefer that we, as Christians, and our fellow religionists, not set ourselves up to be made fools of by candidates who just push our buttons instead of candidates showing themselves to have the mental and public service capacities to work diligently over time to solve public problems. There may be a few rare ones out there who can do both, but they are not common, and the charlatans are rather abundant.

        The reason I asked for details about Christians “voting for their own enslavement” is that I have never seen that happening, and thought it a bit strange. I don’t think I can figure it out for myself. I thought I might get information from the folks (in this case, you) who made the claim. Obviously, you either had something in mind or just made it up. You say you are “not here to judge”. Charging that Christians are voting for their own enslavement sounds more than just a skosh judgmental, I must say. It gets a bit more judgmental if the charge is not based on reality.

        And, no, I don’t consider lawfully enacted government programs to be “theft” or are anti-Biblical. at least not in the sense of violating the Commandment against stealing. Some of these programs may be bad policy, and that’s a fair debate to have. But if you take the position that the use of government revenues to fund expenditures lawfully enacted in a democratic Republic is naked theft, no government can function. All taxes take money and re-distribute it. Render unto Caesar and all that.

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        1. scout – Instead of addressing what I said, why do you have to talk around it? Why do you have to make up a problem?

          As I noted in my post, we should judge each candidate’s record and his stance with respect to the issues that concern us. Then we should vote for the person we deem best qualified. Since many political issues involve decisions between of right and wrong, why doesn’t make sense for Christians to vote in accordance with their Christian beliefs? Why should that bother you? (from my comment above)

          People will vote their values. When a candidate says “it’s the right thing to do,” he is appealing to our sense of right and wrong. If a Christian, Muslim, Buddhist or whatever does not base his sense of what is right and what is wrong on his religious beliefs, then what is he basing it on? Is he or she just wetting his finger and putting it up in the air? Or are they just sort of doing what you said and letting a candidate push our secularized buttons?

          If we let a candidate push our buttons, it’s because we have not done our homework or we don’t know what the Bible teaches, not because we are voting our Christian values.

          You say you are very familiar with the Constitution, but whenever I ask you to cite where the Constitution authorizes Congress to spend tax dollars on health, education, or welfare programs I never get an answer. Instead, I get a statement like this.

          And, no, I don’t consider lawfully enacted government programs to be “theft” or are anti-Biblical. at least not in the sense of violating the Commandment against stealing.

          If the Constitution does not authorize Congress to fund them, whether you or I “consider” these programs lawful does not matter. If the Constitution does not authorize Congress to fund them, they are not lawful.

          When does taxation become stealing? Imagine. Ten men find themselves shipwrecked. Fortunately, the island that is their salvation is fertile, but only one sees the possibilities and is willing to work. So he clears a little plot of ground, scours the island for useful seeds, plants them, and he cares for his plants as they grow.

          What do they other men do? They scoff at his efforts.

          At the same time, the industrious fellow builds himself a small cabin.

          What do they other men do? They scoff at his efforts.

          Time passes. The seasons change. Spring turns to a warm summer. Fall arrives, and the harvest is good. Then weather begins to turn cold.

          So the industrious fellow gathers firewood.

          What do the other men do? They form a “government.” Thus, this winter they are well fed and warm. Next winter? Well, that’s another chapter in the story about this shipwreck, and it is a grim one. It’s the chapter that tells about this little community’s experiment with Socialism and subsequently slavery.

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  3. Tom,

    I agree with you totally. There is a great need to base the government, its laws and policies upon the Word of the Lord, the only source of absolute truth. This is one of the greatest needs in our nation today. Sadly, as we see our government depart from the principles of the Word, we see our nation decline into greater and greater decay in every area of society.

    Also, your statement …

    “The problem is one of truth in labeling. A candidate can label himself anything, but we can only judge what a man will do based upon what he has done in the past. Therefore, when we go to the polls, what should matter to us is each candidate’s record and his stance on the issues.”

    … is one of the most important of voting principles we should be applying. In today’s time, it is the nature of politicians to pander towards all in an effort to gain the votes of many. In doing so, most will lie about their true beliefs. The only way to select the less harmful of the candidates set before us is to judge them based upon their voting record, not their campaign declarations.

    Lord bless you Tom.

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  4. I occasionally lecture at law schools on constitutional federalism, Tom. I enjoy it, it provides a break from my practice, but I try not to be repetitive, especially at the behest of slow or stubborn learners. You are one or the other or both.

    We’ve been over this too many times. The Constitution clearly gives Congress the power to lay and collect taxes. If the tax is lawfully imposed, it’s not theft to collect it. If Mitch McConnell or Harry Reid simply decides he wants a new Rolex and sends soldiers to your door to get the money, that’s theft. I would think even you could see the difference between the two situations. I further don’t follow your (implicit) theory that if the effects of a lawfully funded government program are redistributive, the tax becomes an act of thievery. All revenue raising, charitable or governmental, has redistributive effects. I see nothing remarkable about it.

    If you are still combing the Constitution looking for the explicit phrase “health care”, you won’t find it and neither will I. You won’t find “Social Security” or the “Federal Reserve Bank” or “antitrust” or “Air Force”. The list is almost infinite of the words and phrases you won’t find in the Constitution. But the Founders created a government that was intended to function over time. They chose words carefully to describe not just what that Government could do in 1787 (or 1789, once ratified), but also what it could do a year or two or 100 or 200 down the road. They also were very specific about things the Government was forbidden to do. Among the many powers of the government under the Constitution is the power to lay and collect taxes to provide for the general Welfare of the United States and to make all Laws necessary and proper for executing its Powers. This is a very broad grant of authority and has been so found repeatedly. Without such grants, the federal government would not be able to function. You and I might agree or disagree with our fellow citizens as to whether any particular government program is good policy or in fact detracts more than it adds to the general Welfare of the country, but there is no doubt that Congress, when acting in a procedurally correct manner, is not bound by explicit phrases that are products of our times, but which were not known in haec verba (or even conceptually) to the Founders.

    I hope this gives you one less thing to stew about.

    As for your guys on the island, I wish them well. I think they will have to find some consensus on how they govern themselves. Otherwise, only one will ultimately survive and prosper, and it may not be the one who is most industrious. It may be the one who is physically the strongest, or the one who is the most accomplished liar. It may also be that they all can survive at a higher level of nutrition and comfort if they organize themselves to take advantage of each one’s strengths, rather than each one trying to do everything duplicatively. This has been the human experience over the past several thousand years, I think.

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    1. scout – When we blog anonymously, we give up any claim to authority except what we can establish through our blogging avatar. So when you say you occasionally lecture at law schools, it occurs to me that you want to eat your cake and have it too.

      Is reality so easily altered? Don’t some people seem determined to believe what they want to be true? What if we could eat our cake and have it too? With respect to our discussion, let’s consider how that might work.
      1.What does the expression “political correctness” (PC) refer to? Is it not religious bigotry for the “secular”? Don’t some people want the right to practice their own religion and to deny that right to others?

      “Oops! You are not suppose to apply your religious beliefs to public life. That’s not PC. We don’t even want you to mention Jesus.” Yet if we deny others their Constitutionally protected rights we must empower our rulers to ignore the Constitution.

      2. The Constitution has this thing called the Tenth Amendment.

      Amendment X

      The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

      If we allow the Federal Government powers that are not even vaguely authorized by the Constitution, then the Tenth Amendment is meaningless. Surely, as a lecturer in law school you must remember how FDR had to bully the Supreme Court to get the New Deal pass the Court, and we have gone well pass what FDR wanted.

      As it was, our government could do only what the law said it could do, and our laws only prohibited individuals from doing certain specific things. Now, because some people think the Constitution’s amendment process applies only to “other” people we are experiencing a reversal. Individuals can do only what the law says they can do, and our laws only prohibit government from doing certain specific things. And since those who run our government make the laws…..

      Frankly, scout, you may wish to reconsider what it means when the Federal Government is not allowed to function. If the Federal Government is not suppose to have that function anyway, why is that a problem? Isn’t the whole point of the Constitution to keep our leaders limited in their powers and prerogatives?

      3. The guys on the island? There are only ten of them. Eventually, because they know each other personally, they may get along better. Yet slavery is an old institution, and men have always found some excuse for it. It seems only the love and the teachings of Jesus have ever enabled men to love their neighbors, even those they did not know. Unfortunately, even after the rise Christianity, some men still seem determined to believe that humility is for other, lesser beings. Because they are so “noble”, then they must become the nobility, and others must become serf, a type of slave.

      And what is slavery. That occurs when government helps the nobles deprive of others of their labor. It is perhaps the oldest form of redistributing the wealth.

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  5. I only talk at two law schools, and only as a guest of particular professors, and neither of those schools has ever provided cake, Tom.

    I have no idea what the relevance of your PC rif is.

    Your constitutional views might have some weight if there were an express prohibition in the Constitution against any federal involvement in health care-related activities, Tom. But the federal government, by design, has considerable general power. That’s why words like “commerce” and “general welfare” and “necessary and proper” are used. They infuse the document with suppleness that enables it to function over time. Yes, there are very specific limits and prohibitions in the document. There can be honest discussion about whether this or that program transgresses an express prohibition of the Constitution or lies within either enumerated or implicit powers of the document. Much of the constitutional jurisprudence of the Supreme Court is precisely about those debates. The Tenth Amendment has not been a major center of those disputes, however. I think it will be a natural and healthy development as the tasks of government become more demanding and complex for there to be more attention to what the inherent limitations of the Tenth Amendment are. To this point in our history, however, it hasn’t been a major constitutional battleground – most of the federalism cases arise from an examination of the powers granted in Article I and the effect of the Supremacy and Commerce Clauses.

    To end on an agreeable note, I will stipulate with you that slavery is a bad thing.

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    1. scout – If we were not at least partially ignorant of our own flaws, I suppose we would get over them more easily. However, that ignorance is usually more willful than not. So it is not much of an excuse.

      Go back an read your own comments. There is virtually no explanation, just denial. Words mean something, but the point of sophistry is to make words mean whatever we want to believe. But you know that. Deep down you know what you have said here is BS. You didn’t pick the expressions “commerce” and “general welfare” and “necessary and proper” by accident. You know the arguments; you know how shallow your defense is. But the ease of making that defense just makes each sneer all the more pleasing.

      Even when you stipulate that slavery is a bad thing, why should anyone take you seriously? How do we know which utterance is selective ignorance, sophistry, or the simple truth? Do you? At what point would you call out slavery for what it is?

      Yet we are what we are. If they had been in Rome when Nero fiddled, I wonder how many of my countrymen would have happily joined him when he made his music. So long as it is the emperor’s subjects who pillage, rape, and kill — and we are his subjects — what’s the problem? How many only see the crime when we see ourselves as its victim?

      No man is island, but some do choose not to notice.

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  6. Are we really disputing whether slavery is a bad thing, Tom? I really don’t follow the last comment. Slavery is a bad thing. Full stop. End of discussion. Why wouldn’t people take that seriously? What is your point?

    Re the Constitution, you’re quite right: I picked these words because they are important components of our founding document. Do you have problem with that? The language of that document is extremely important. I’m actually not “defending” anything, but there is nothing “shallow” about these words. They are part of the genius of the Founders and they have made us a strong and viable Republic over more than two centuries. If you find sneering at the Constitution pleasing, sneer away. It’s an important document to me as an American citizen.

    As for Nero, I can’t meld that in to this discussion. He wasn’t a good Emperor, but that was before my time by a considerable bit. What is your point about Nero? Maybe we could stipulate (since my effort on slavery seems not to have found fertile soil) that pillage, rape and murder are bad things.

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    1. scout wrote:”Why wouldn’t people take that seriously? What is your point?”

      Because you so frequently pretend to ignorance, stupidity, and misunderstanding — and you’re so good at it, convincing people that it is possible that you really could be that far wrong, that anything you say winds up being treated as another of your potential ploys.

      I do not think of you as stupid. Just devious, deceitful, misleading and misdirecting, and posing as a conservative in your campaign against conservatism. And just ignorant enough to be wrong about so many of the things about which you brag of your expertise.

      As an aside, Citizen Tom was referring to the economic slavery of a life as a government dependent — robbed of will and ambition by subservient suckling at the government teat, a fate which Democrats have specifically (and successfully) aimed at blacks in the US, and for which (unfortunately) a majority of blacks have continued to support by voting for it. They are not literally in chains, but are sapped of the will to walk off the plantation and achieve. The ones that do, do well, but they are in the minority.

      And I believe that you knew what Citizen Tom was talking about, but that it suits your purposes to waste everyone’s time with your silly pretense that he was talking about blacks voting for slavery prior to the Civil War.

      “There is no darkness but ignorance!” — but the fog you produce is quite intentional.

      ===|==============/ Keith DeHavelle

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      1. Hello Keith. Thanks for your comment.

        As an aside, Citizen Tom was referring to the economic slavery of a life as a government dependent — robbed of will and ambition by subservient suckling at the government teat, a fate which Democrats have specifically (and successfully) aimed at blacks in the US, and for which (unfortunately) a majority of blacks have continued to support by voting for it. They are not literally in chains, but are sapped of the will to walk off the plantation and achieve. The ones that do, do well, but they are in the minority.

        I think Cliven Bundy was trying to say the same thing, and look what the news media has done to him. It would have helped if he could have gotten you to write his material, but they would have attacked him as a racist anyway, just with less success.

        The news media is suppose to encourage the search for the truth. Instead, they crucify anyone who attempts to speak it. If we allow such bigots to silence dissent, our republic is dead.

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      2. Nice to know, Keith, that you put me on the pedestal of being “devious, deceitful [is that redundant?], misleading and misdirecting” instead of consigning me to the less elevated position of “pretending ignorance, stupidity, and misunderstanding.” It’s nice to know that you don’t personalize these things and just take the issues on the merits.

        I have differing viewpoints from Tom and you on many things. I also have real difficulties following Tom’s logic. HIs 1636 comment of yesterday is a good example. Nero?

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        1. Devious: You attempt to use cleverness in a dishonest way to accomplish your purposes.
          Deceitful: You are willing to make knowingly false statements.

          And you are doing all of this again here, as you know that I believe you to be all of these things, AS WELL as pretending to ignorance, stupidity and misunderstanding as part of your deviousness and dishonesty. If you honestly don’t realize that, then perhaps your pretense has gone on so long that it has started to become real. But I think not.

          In the meantime, spout again about your legal expertise, and your conservatism, and we’ll watch you stumble around trying to come up with some twist of words here that distracts discussion away from Citizen Tom’s valid points.

          ===|==============/ Keith DeHavelle

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    2. scout – I perceive the only reason you don’t like the word “slavery” is you don’t like the connotation. What is slavery? Do you care?

      Unless you tell an outright lie, the phrase “general welfare” doesn’t give Congress the power to create a welfare state. The commerce clause has been so abused everyone knows it even if they won’t admit it. And “necessary and proper”? In truth that phrase exists only because the Constitution does enumerate and thereby circumscribes Congress’ powers. Yet some would have us believe that phrase confers powers that are neither necessary or proper, the exact opposite of that phrase’s intended meaning. With sophistry and a straight face, these devious souls tell huge whoppers.

      And you cannot figure out the reference to Nero? 😆 Are you so busy parsing words to mean what you want them to mean, you can’t really read anymore?

      Yet you want to debate. What’s the point? To establish an understanding near to the truth, we debate the significance of the facts we have. When one or both of the parties to a debate evades any effort to consider obvious truths, eventually there is nothing left to discuss. If something can be so just because we want it to be so, truth is then whatever we would imagine it to be.

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  7. There are a lot of reasons I don’t like the word “slavery”, Tom. I view slavery as unadulterated evil, Tom. I’m startled that there is any room for nuanced debate about slavery. It’s one of those things that just is plain evil. My ancestors went to war to fight it. Don’t trivialize or dilute the word by comparing human chattel slavery to having certain lawfully imposed civic obligations in a political structure where we disagree with some of the policy choices.

    I don’t know about “devious souls” making Constitutional law. My knowledge and experience is confined to the federal courts, and, with very few exceptions, the men and women who have served on the federal bench over the last 220 years or so have been honourable folks. But the case are clear, going back to the early 19th Century, that the words and phrases that the drafters saw fit to put in the Constitution do have meaning and are not to be ignored. I rely on them because they are there and were put there for a reason.

    I’m not sure I do want to debate, as much as I want to offer a different viewpoint. You say a great many sweeping things that strike me either as not being reality-based or greatly exaggerated extrapolations from reality. I consider it helpful to get a balancing point of view out there just to keep things a bit anchored in the real world. Readers can sort out for themselves how much of what either you or I say they find useful.

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    1. “I’m startled that there is any room for nuanced debate about slavery.”

      There you are pretending to be stupid again, scout, as if anyone anywhere on this page ever even hinted that slavery might be anything less than evil. You hope to waste more time in this distraction.

      scout: “My knowledge and experience is confined to the federal courts, and, with very few exceptions, the men and women who have served on the federal bench over the last 220 years or so have been honourable folks.”

      What utter horsemanure you are spouting here. In my own small involvement, the corruption exposed on the bench has been large indeed — and you can read Men in Black to see a number of examples at the Supreme Court level if you truly are such a naive neophyte. At the “federal bench” level, people are often atrociously bad. And I think you know this, but simply hope to waste time by distracting away from all of your other false statements.

      Have fun.

      ===|==============/ Keith DeHavelle

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    2. scout – Since “nuanced” debate is where you are coming from, I can only guess what you mean by the word slavery. What you have made apparent is that you support turning the purpose of the Constitution upside down. Thus, I think we can rightly say that you support an America where there are no limits to “lawfully imposed civic obligations.”

      We already have a soft tyranny. In time, as our leaders grasp for still more power, that tyranny will harden into something more brutal, and some of us — or some of our children — will find themselves enslaved. Likely, since government runs public education, these slaves will be somewhat confused as to how they wound up as slaves in what once was a free country, but we can rest assured that “noble” government educators will do their best to convince these slaves that it is all for their own good.

      Of course, the word slavery does not have the right connotation. So government propagandists will probably call this return to slavery something else. Then, those highly sensitive to such nuances will not have to acknowledge what is actually going on.

      Since Keith chose to focus on your assessment of the quality of our judges, and I also think Men in Black is an excellent book, I will let his words suffice.

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      1. Well. Tom. The Constitution is the limitation. Can we agree on that?

        As to slavery, I was referring to the system of chattel human slavery imposed on Africans and persons of African descent that existed in the United States prior to the end of the Civil War and the passage of the Thirteenth Amendment. I think that is what generally would be understood in an American context as “slavery”. What are you referring to?

        Which “slaves” are you referring to in the context of public education? If there are still slaves being hidden somewhere, I join you in opposing this. It’s illegal.

        If, on the other hand, you are using the word “slave” and its derivatives to describe citizens in a political system that you largely or completely disagree with, I think it is a perversion of the common sense of the word and you might do better to find a less hyperbolic term. To use the concept of slavery to describe the condition of a student who goes to public school, cheapens the real meaning and evil of the term. I went to public schools for most of my education, as did my children and my parents. We are proud free citizens. I’m sure very few schoolkids feel enslaved (although they may feel a bit oppressed by the burdens of homework and having to be inside on a pretty day).

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        1. The Constitution is not the limitation. The founders did their best to model our laws based upon the moral teachings (as they understood them) in the Bible. You want to argue about that? Shrug.

          What the Bible teaches is that we don’t have the strength to obey the law. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak. That creates a difficult conundrum.

          But what is government itself, but the greatest of all reflections on human nature? If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary. In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself. — James Madison from The Federalist No. 51

          We elect people like ourselves. If we the people decide what the Constitution actually says does not matter, our leaders will act as if what the Constitution says does not matter. Then the government will not control itself; in time, if not opposed, it will control us.

          There many ways to deny people their freedom. There may be no ball chained to our leg. We may not be confined to a plot of ground or whipped every time we cease work. Therefore, instead of being too concerned about the type of enslavement, we should be concerned with the fact of enslavement. Do we have control over our bodies and minds — how we conduct our lives. Are our rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness protected? If not, if another person (or persons) dominates our life, we do not own ourselves. We are someone else’s property.

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  8. If I have inadvertently made a false statement here, Keith, I will quickly retract it. You might guide me to it, to help out.

    I will acknowledge that there is a wide range of skill, wisdom, judgement, experience etc. of people who have served on the federal bench over the course of our history. Even an occasional scoundrel, perhaps – the exception that proves the rule I’m espousing. But I will stand by my assessment that they have, as a whole, been honourable people. More often than not, I have the impression they rise to the job, rather than lower the job to the level of their human frailties. This is a hard thing to prove empirically, of course, but I sense that my opinion is worth no less than yours, and might even be based on better knowledge of the history and functions of the courts than is yours. Then again, it might not. I doubt, however, that my considered view on the subject is “utter horsemanure” [sic]

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  9. Tom- re your 0756 comment: No, I don’t want “to argue” about that, but a balancing entry might help your readers a bit: When one refers to the “founders”, I (and many others) tend to think of the drafters of the Declaration and, roughly a dozen years later, the Constitution. So when you speak of the “founders” modelling our “laws” on the Bible, I’m not sure whether you are talking about the early Congresses (which contained some of the people who worked on the Constitution) or are speaking to the Constitution itself. If the former, yes, I think it clear that some early federal laws reflect the cultural and religious views of the English colonists who predominated in the early population of the new country. Those views clearly had strong influences from Hebrew and Christian scripture. However, many of the subjects of the early Congressional action (pilotage, lighthouses, U.S. Marshals) really don’t have Biblical antecedents and are not particularly fraught with moral content. If your point is that the Constitution itself was “modelled” on moral teachings of the Bible, I think I would take exception. The Constitution is not really a legislative document – it is a foundational document on how we structure our federal government. Nor does it purport to set forth moral guidance. The notes of the convention, the correspondence of major players in the drafting, and/or the explanatory commentary of the Federalist Papers do refer to historical precedents, some from Classical Antiquity and some from more recent European history or authors (e.g., Locke and Montesquieu), but they say virtually nothing about the Bible. Indeed, the Bible, for all its power and value in the personal spiritual space, would not provide very useful constitutional models. If we looked to it as our Constitutional lodestone, we would have had a Kingdom like that of David or Solomon, an approach that worked, to a point, for the Hebrew people in a particular time frame, but would not have been a useful model for the early American experiment.

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