Damn! They DID Authorize This War

Submitted by Bill St. Clair on Sun, 05 Sep 2004 12:00:00 GMT
# I updated the BlogMax web site with documentation for the newest features and bug fixes.

# Claire Wolfe at Loompanics - Silence is Health - or, in plainer language, in a police state, speaking openly is not good for your health. [claire]

This self-censorship actually began before the 9/11 attacks and before the infamous Patriot Act. One major culprit was a 1997 law, sponsored by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and her frequent co-conspirator Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT), that makes it illegal for anyone to publish information about explosives if they have reason to believe the information might be used by anyone who had any intent to commit "a federal crime of violence."

The infamous Hit Man lawsuit against Paladin Press had already established the precedent that merely selling a book to a stranger implied that (disclaimers to the contrary) the publisher was responsible for a book buyer's actions. Other lawsuits around the country repeatedly reaffirm the same message: Third parties can be held responsible for actions by complete strangers -- actions they neither encouraged nor knew about.

# Joseph Sobran - How Tyranny Came to America - we the people forgot that the Constitution is a list of enumerated powers of government. If it ain't stated explicitly on that small piece of paper, it's out of bounds for them to even talk about. As I've said before, I think getting rid of the government entirely is the best idea, but I could live with the Constitution if it were narrowly interpreted and rabidly enforced. This would mean that Bushnev and his entire administration and about 95% of Congress would be hanged for treason. Mr. Sobran gives a good history of how the federal government threw off the bounds of the Constitution, and reminds us that the only revolution we need is a return to constitutional principles. Long. [sierra]

For all that, we no longer fully have what our ancestors, who framed and ratified our Constitution, thought of as freedom -- a careful division of power that prevents power from becoming concentrated and unlimited. The word they usually used for concentrated power was consolidated -- a rough synonym for fascist. And the words they used for any excessive powers claimed or exercised by the state were usurped and tyrannical. They would consider the modern "liberal" state tyrannical in principle; they would see in it not the opposite of the fascist, communist, and socialist states, but their sister.

If Washington and Jefferson, Madison, and Hamilton could come back, the first thing they'd notice would be that the federal government now routinely assumes thousands of powers never assigned to it -- powers never granted, never delegated, never enumerated. These were the words they used, and it's a good idea for us to learn their language. They would say that we no longer live under the Constitution they wrote. And the Americans of a much later era -- the period from Cleveland to Coolidge, for example -- would say we no longer live even under the Constitution they inherited and amended.

I call the present system "Post--Constitutional America." As I sometimes put it, the U.S. Constitution poses no serious threat to our form of government.


The logic of the Constitution was so elegantly simple that a foreign observer could explain it to his countrymen in two sentences. Alexis de Tocqueville wrote that "the attributes of the federal government were carefully defined [in the Constitution], and all that was not included among them was declared to remain to the governments of the individual states. Thus the government of the states remained the rule, and that of the federal government the exception."

The Declaration of Independence, which underlies the Constitution, holds that the rights of the people come from God, and that the powers of the government come from the people. Let me repeat that: According to the Declaration of Independence, the rights of the people come from God, and the powers of the government come from the people. Unless you grasp this basic order of things, you'll have a hard time understanding the Constitution.

The Constitution was the instrument by which the American people granted, or delegated, certain specific powers to the federal government. Any power not delegated was withheld, or "reserved." As we'll see later, these principles are expressed particularly in the Ninth and Tenth Amendments, two crucial but neglected provisions of the Constitution.

Let me say it yet again: The rights of the people come from God. The powers of government come from the people. The American people delegated the specific powers they wanted the federal government to have through the Constitution. And any additional powers they wanted to grant were supposed to be added by amendment.


To sum up this little constitutional history. The history of the Constitution is the story of its inversion. The original understanding of the Constitution has been reversed. The Constitution creates a presumption against any power not plainly delegated to the federal government and a corresponding presumption in favor of the rights and powers of the states and the people. But we now have a sloppy presumption in favor of federal power. Most people assume the federal government can do anything it isn't plainly forbidden to do.

The Ninth and Tenth Amendments were adopted to make the principle of the Constitution as clear as possible. Hamilton, you know, argued against adding a Bill of Rights, on grounds that it would be redundant and confusing. He thought it would seem to imply that the federal government had more powers than it had been given. Why say, he asked, that the freedom of the press shall not be infringed, when the federal government would have no power by which it could be infringed? And you can even make the case that he was exactly right. He understood, at any rate, that our freedom is safer if we think of the Constitution as a list of powers rather than as a list of rights.


You can think of the Constitution as a sort of antitrust act for government, with the Ninth and Tenth Amendments at its core. It's remarkable that the same liberals who think business monopolies are sinister think monopolies of political power are progressive. When they can't pass their programs because of the constitutional safeguards, they complain about "gridlock" -- a cliché that shows they miss the whole point of the enumeration and separation of powers.

Well, I don't have to tell you that this way of thinking is absolutely alien to that of today's politicians and pundits. Can you imagine Al Gore, Dan Rostenkowski, or Tom Brokaw having a conversation about political principles with any of the Founding Fathers? If you can, you must have a vivid fantasy life.


Can we restore the Constitution and recover our freedom? I have no doubt that we can. Like all great reforms, it will take an intelligent, determined effort by many people. I don't want to sow false optimism.

But the time is ripe for a constitutional counterrevolution. Discontent with the ruling system, as the 1992 Perot vote showed, is deep and widespread among several classes of people: Christians, conservatives, gun owners, taxpayers, and simple believers in honest government all have their reasons. The rulers lack legitimacy and don't believe in their own power strongly enough to defend it.

The beauty of it is that the people don't have to invent a new system of government in order to get rid of this one. They only have to restore the one described in the Constitution -- the system our government already professes to be upholding. Taken seriously, the Constitution would pose a serious threat to our form of government.

And for just that reason, the ruling parties will be finished as soon as the American people rediscover and awaken their dormant Constitution.

# GeekWithA.45 - Overheard @ Dinner Last Night - comments on overhearing in a restaurant the phrase "To go to war unilaterally is unforgivable." I submitted a comment to this post that Bush went to war on Iraq without a proper declaration of war from Congress. The Geek corrected me. On looking up the authorization, I have to admit that he's right. The 107th Congress passed H.J.Res.114, the " Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution of 2002", which became Public Law No: 243.107. This didn't use the words "declaration of war", but it did state that it was intended as "specific statuatory authorization within the meaning of section 5(b) of the War Powers Resolution". I still don't believe in this war, but I will no longer claim that it wasn't authorized by Congress. I wish that the Senate had listened to Senator Robert Byrd that day. [geekwitha.45]

# rotaiv at MacOS Hints - Using iMovie, MediaPipe and Sizzle to create a DVD - My wife's Titanium PowerBook doesn't have an internal DVD burner. She purchased an external DVD burner that came with a software patch that allowed iDVD to write to the external drive (Apple made a licensing agreement with somebody that disallows this). Apple's lawyers coerced this company into discontinuing their patch, so it doesn't work with Mac OSX 10.2 or 10.3 (Jaguar or Panther). This page gives instructions for using free tools, MediaPipe and Sizzle, to get iMovie output onto an external DVD. I was able to extract the video in a format that Sizzle could deal with, but the MediaPipe Mp2 audio converter required MacOS Tools which don't work with our old OS (10.1.5), and Sizzle seems to have problems as well. I'll have to try everything on another computer with a Jaguar or Panther. The problem that won't be fixed by upgrading the OS, however, is that her machine takes 50 minutes to encode a 3-minute video. Faster hardware would help. [google]

Add comment Edit post Add post