Thursday, February 26, 2009

Democratic Senator Byrd Warns of Obama Power Grab - Following In Bush's Footsteps

Hat tip to Mike V.

From Politico:

Byrd: Obama in power grab


By JOHN BRESNAHAN

Sen. Robert Byrd (D-W.Va.), the longest-serving Democratic senator, is criticizing President Obama’s appointment of White House “czars” to oversee federal policy, saying these executive positions amount to a power grab by the executive branch.

In a letter to Obama on Wednesday, Byrd complained about Obama’s decision to create White House offices on health reform, urban affairs policy, and energy and climate change. Byrd said such positions “can threaten the Constitutional system of checks and balances. At the worst, White House staff have taken direction and control of programmatic areas that are the statutory responsibility of Senate-confirmed officials.”

While it's rare for Byrd to criticize a president in his own party, Byrd is a stern constitutional scholar who has always stood up for the legislative branch in its role in checking the power of the White House. Byrd no longer holds the powerful Appropriations chairmanship, so his criticism does not carry as much weight these days. Byrd repeatedly clashed with the Bush administration over executive power, and it appears that he's not limiting his criticism to Republican administrations ....

Well, good for Byrd! Nice to see some resistance somewhere in the Senate.


So much for "change." Obama is merely continuing the nearly unbroken pattern of presidents gathering more power to the Executive branch under one guise or another that has been going on for many decades, regardless of which party controls the White House.

Obama faces a decision as early as next week on whether to support a claim of executive privilege made by former President Bush in refusing to allow Karl Rove, the former deputy White House chief of staff, to be deposed by the House Judiciary Committee on the White House’s role in the 2006 firing of nine U.S. attorneys.

Bush claimed “absolute immunity” for top advisers in resisting such subpoenas, but Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.), chairman of the Judiciary Committee, filed a lawsuit over the issue. The case is on appeal, and the Obama administration is scheduled to file a motion next week laying out its stance on the issue.

Read the whole thing here:

And watch this video:




How much do you want to bet that Obama criticizes Bush's particular use of that claimed executive immunity, but supports that power as being valid, necessary, and "constitutional" for a president to be able to carry out his duties?

Of course, we know Obama's application of all that power will be "special" and "for the children" and to "help people." And thus, most Democrats will be as cozy, warm, and fuzzy about it as Republicans were when it was their man wiping his ass with the Constitution. Just a bunch of nice sleeping frogs in the ever-heating pot. Byrd is a rare exception - a man who will challenge and criticize his own party's president.


Notice how Obama is not satisfied with the fact that his party now controls Congress - he doesn't want to even have to bother with Congress. He wants his internal White House staff to rule everything by decree, under his direct supervision. His exaulted Great Vision for Our Lives will flow straight from the mind of "the One," right into the hands of Rahm Emanuel (known as "the enforcer"), pure, undiluted, and unsullied by the foul hands of mere congress-critters, to be immediately implemented by absolutely obedient staff members who consider their only loyalty to be to Obama. "Stroke of a pen, law of the land, kinda cool!" has returned.


Sound familiar? It should, because the Bush Administration was the same, of course. Even when the Republicans controlled both houses of Congress, the Bush Administration consistently asserted that the President has an independent "unitary executive" power and does not need Congress for much of anything, except perhaps appropriations (and that is now no longer really even respected).


The claims of independent executive power by the Bush Administration were absurd - amounting to nothing less than the claim that the President, once elected, under his constitutional Article II powers, is absolutely unrestrained and unhindered by any other branch of government, any provision in the main body of the Constitution or the Bill of Rights. Basically, the argument was that the President is an elected dictator. Remember what James Madison warned:


The accumulation of all powers, legislative, executive, and judiciary, in the same hands ... may justly be pronounced the very definition of tyranny." - James Madison, Federalist No. 47

Just for the record, I warned about this back in 2006. See my article Government Supremacists: Neocons, the National Security New Dealers. But of course, few Republicans listened because it was their guy doing it.


Well, now the totalitarian boot is on the other foot - the left foot.


The goal of executive supremacists in both parties is to make Congress an irrelevant debating society, such that it really doesn't matter which party holds a majority in Congress.


And that is yet another reason why the threat of a repeat of 1994 has no teeth as a check on what Obama does - even if Republicans retake Congress (and presuming the GOP quislings don't just go along) Obama will simply ignore them and do what he wants by executive order and decree through these special White House offices and through all of the other mechanisms of vastly expanded Executive Power he inherited from Bush.


We are now in the age of elected dictatorship, with the only election that really matters being for the presidency - and once elected, any President can do pretty much as he pleases.


He will be not just "The One" but also "The Law" since his every spoken word will have the force of law, and all the might of the Executive branch, behind it. He truly will be "the Decider."

The one great difference is that Obama will very likely turn the "war on terror" inward on gun owners and a resurgent militia movement. And that may be the spark that sets off the powder keg that is America.

Stewart Rhodes


Friday, February 20, 2009

National Guard scraps plans to invade rural town 'This operation could be pretty intrusive to the people'

Well, looks like they called it off!


(hat tip to Mike V.)

Posted: February 20, 2009
4:24 pm Eastern

By Drew Zahn
© 2009 WorldNetDaily DES MOINES, Iowa – Following publicized reports that the Army National Guard was planning a military training exercise on the streets of a rural Iowa town, the commanding officers have called off the mock "invasion."

The Guard had planned a four-day urban military operation in tiny Arcadia, Iowa, population 443, sending troops to take over the town and search door-to-door for a suspected weapons dealer

.

The exercise was designed as a mock scenario to give soldiers the skills needed for deployment in an urban environment, and military officials stressed that only households that consented to be part of the drill would be searched.

"It will be important for us to gain the trust and confidence of the residents of Arcadia," Sgt. Mike Kots, readiness NCO for Alpha Company, told Carroll's Daily Times Herald. "We will need to identify individuals that are willing to assist us in training by allowing us to search their homes and vehicles and to participate in role-playing.

"We really want to get as much information out there as possible," Kots continued, "because this operation could be pretty intrusive to the people of Arcadia."

Military spokesman Lt. Col. Greg Hapgood, however, told WND that the operation has now been "scaled back" and no longer involves an "invasion" of Arcadia.

And while Hapgood confirmed the Guard had been inundated with objections from citizens concerned about soldiers patrolling the streets of an American town, he said most came from people out of state and unfamiliar with the operation. Iowans, he explained, typically cooperate with the Guard. The change in plans was based on troop evaluation, he said, not public outcry.

....

"There are no active duty bases in Iowa, so there are no urban warfare training areas of any size," Hopgood said. "In order to get that larger neighborhood feel or city feel, we have to be creative and partner with our communities."

Hopgood further told WND that in past cooperative exercises with the community, the people of Iowa have welcomed learning how their sons and daughters operate in action.

Plans for the urban operation training, Hopgood explained, are still set to continue, but will be conducted in a smaller, platoon-by-platoon basis in the near vicinity of the Carroll armory.


Read the whole thing here.

Well now, that's interesting! So, "the change in plans was based on troop evaluation, he said, not public outcry." I have my doubts about that!

The public outcry was pretty loud, including people beginning to plan to stage demonstrations, marches, and even half in jest proposals for patriotic Americans to show up and serve as OPFOR (opposing forces for training). Only half in jest ... that means at least half serious.

Americans just do not cotton to the notion of any troops training to go house to house and search for guns, even if it is explained as being done with the best intentions. The current political environment is just too much on edge, as I noted here.

Stewart

My Phone Call With Col. Hapgood of the Iowa National Guard About Training for House to House Search for a "Weapons Dealer"

I just had an interesting and rather emotional phone call with Col Hapgood, Public Affairs Officer, of the IA National Guard (Pete of WRSA sent me his phone number). I introduced myself as a veteran and a writer for S.W.A.T. Magazine, and said I needed confirmation and clarification on the planned house to house search exercise scheduled for Arcadia Iowa for April 2-5, 2009 because people were very, very concerned.

The Colonel told me it is only to prepare them for Afghanistan and Iraq.

He said that there are no full time military in Iowa, and therefore no place to train in the state to get them ready for MOUT and that is why they used local towns.

He said they were baffled by all this [uproar] because it is just routine training to prepare them for deployment to combat in urban environments overseas.

I asked him why that particular scenario was picked - of having NG troops searching for a "weapons dealer."

He said that in Afghanistan and Iraq, they have to do searches for weapons caches and need to train for it, and it has nothing whatsoever to do with domestic deployment or any plans for domestic use.

I asked him that question twice - "so, it is not for domestic use or training for future domestic use?" And he said no, not at all.

I told him, in no uncertain terms, that Americans, especially gun owners, were extremely concerned because of the current political climate and because of the potential for civil unrest in the future because of the economy - we hear all manner of rumors about preparations for such disturbances - and the use of a scenario of searching for a gun dealer seems aimed at gun owners - and in particular we are concerned because of who is now in power.

As an example of why we are concerned, I told him how Rahm Emanuel, who is called "the second most powerful man in America" gave a speech before the Brady Bunch in 2007 advocating that anyone on the no-fly list be stripped of their right to keep and bear arms, and anyone can be put on that list at any time.

I told him that we know they want to disarm us.

And that is why folks are so very alarmed by this exercise.

I also told him that there were people planning on going there to protest.

He responded by saying that while he did not want to get into politics, he could assure me that all of the people in the Iowa National Guard are the most dedicated supporters and defenders of the Constitution and also of the right to bear arms.

And I responded by saying yes, I took that oath too - most of us did - and we just want to be sure that oath is kept, and the very last thing we ever want to see in this country is it being veteran against veteran (and this is where my voice cracked and I got rather emotional), but, I told him. we are very concerned and our radar is up because the people in power in DC have no respect for the Constitution or our rights and that is why folks wanted confirmation and clarification of this story.

I was going to remind him of what happened during Katrina, to let him know how disturbing that was to many patriots, but because he was so frank, and sounded so sincere when he said that the people in the Iowa NG are dedicated defenders of the Constitution and of the right to bear arms, I did not do that to him.


MY THOUGHTS AFTER THE PHONE CALL:

That was a tough goddamn phone call for me. I truly hope that all men and women in uniform remember, and keep, their oath. I never, ever want to see in my lifetime veterans having to fight against our own troops in defense of our rights. God forbid it.

I still have some serious concerns about this kind of training going on - especially when it is not made clear to the public that it is for training in preparation for overseas, and the "civilians" are supposed to be Afghan villagers and Iraqis.

But even with those qualifications, I still don't like it, since the troops are still going door to door, in America, searching for weapons, and that is still conditioning them for that very act, regardless of the intent.

And I don't think the Colonel or the National Guard troops understand fully just how on edge people in this country are, and how suspicious we are (for very good reason) of anything the government does that even hints at martial law or going house to house in America looking for weapons.

And however sincere the Colonel or the rest of the troops in the NG, we still DO NOT trust the politicians in DC, who have already demonstrated that their oath to support and defend the Constitution was some damn joke, since they violate it all the time.

The forked tongued bastards in DC cynically roll their eyes and mouth the oath with a bored expression on their faces because it is a mere formality before they get power and perks. They don't mean it. They have nothing but contempt for the restraints in the Constitution.

But when us veterans took that oath to defend the Constitution and this Republic against all enemies, foreign and domestic we MEANT IT with all our heart and soul, ready to give our lives to keep it.

And we still mean it, because that oath was for life.

I sure hope to hell that what the Colonel said about the NG troops' commitment to defend the Constitution is true, and I hope that if/when The Day comes, they will side with the people, and not the politicians.

But I still feel like something else is needed to express to these troops our concerns, and our resolve, and to remind them of their oaths, and of our oath. It is just too important and vital an issue to leave to chance.

We need to be sure they will be oath keepers when the chips are down.

Stewart Rhodes


UPDATE:

During our phone conversation, earlier today (Feb 20), Col. Hapgood told me that the Guard unit from Carroll Iowa would be training in the nearby town of Arcadia because there was no full time military facility in Iowa for them to train at. But then Col. Hapgood later, at my request, emailed me a written explanation of the exercise. That written statement says, in explanation of the use of a real town to train:

"this enables our Soldiers to gain proficiency in the exact tasks they will be
conducting in combat but without having to travel several hours to Camp
Dodge, which is the only military training facility in Iowa."


So, which is it? Is there no place else for them in Iowa to do this training except a local town, or is there in fact a place in Iowa for them to do such training but it is just too far for them to drive?


Pete, from WRSA, confirmed that he was told the same thing on the phone - that there was no place in Iowa for them to do this training except in a town - and then the email to him also contained the same mention of Camp Dodge, several hours away in Iowa. (go here for Pete's full post with his comments).


Setting aside that discrepancy, does it really come down to just a difference of a few hours drive time saved? The written response suggests that it does. Frankly, I would think a few hours drive time and fuel expended is worth it to avoid the Pavlovian conditioning of soldiers to search American homes for guns, and of citizens to comply. And especially considering the suspicion and uproar this particular exercise has caused, it would seem worth it to just go train at Camp Dodge.


Now, certainly a real town, with real people in it is more realistic for training, but given the particular scenario presented, of house to house searches for a "weapons dealer" this was not a very swift move in the current political environment, with gun hating extremists in control of the Executive Branch, and with truly evil legislation such as HR 45 already proposed which make it very, very clear that they fully intend to treat gun owners like pedophiles.


HR 45 would require the registering, printing, and tracking of gun owners just as if they were convicted child molesters, with a requirement that you report a change of residence to Attorney General Holder (you know, that nice man from the Clinton Admin). And the Democrats want to require all sales, even between family, friends or neighbors, to go through a dealer with a full Brady check - so, if that legislation is passed, any of us could become illegal "weapons dealers" just for doing what Americans have done for hundreds of years - sell a rifle, shotgun, or pistol to another private citizen.


One last point: The absolute "Red Dawn" scenario that gun owners fear is a declaration of martial law, followed by roadblocks, "cordoning" off areas, and then house to house searches by troops for weapons, and the confiscation of any weapons found, with deadly military force applied to any resisters. That is the nuclear war, Armageddon scenario for gun owners, and yet that is precisely what the Iowa National Guard has planned to practice - without even attempting to explain that it is supposed to mimic searches for guns in Afghanistan, not an actual gun confiscation in the U.S.


And all this in the current political environment, with sworn, public enemies of our right to bear arms in control of the office of the Presidency, both houses of Congress, and all of the massive power of the Executive Branch at their finger tips.


And the good Colonel is puzzled by the uproar?


UPDATE II: The National Guard of Iowa has canceled the planned mock "invasion" and house to house searching of Arcadia, Iowa.

Not A Dime's Bit of Difference: Republicans Propose Bill To Require ISPs, Wi-Fi Keep Logs for Police

Isn't bipartisanship wonderful!

From cnet news, by Declan McCullagh:

Republican politicians on Thursday called for a sweeping new federal law that would require all Internet providers and operators of millions of Wi-Fi access points, even hotels, local coffee shops, and home users, to keep records about users for two years to aid police investigations.

The legislation, which echoes a measure proposed by one of their Democratic colleagues three years ago, would impose unprecedented data retention requirements on a broad swath of Internet access providers and is certain to draw fire from businesses and privacy advocates.

"While the Internet has generated many positive changes in the way we communicate and do business, its limitless nature offers anonymity that has opened the door to criminals looking to harm innocent children," U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, a Texas Republican, said at a press conference on Thursday. "Keeping our children safe requires cooperation on the local, state, federal, and family level."
Ah, yes, of course! It's all "for the children." Who could be against that?

Joining Cornyn was Texas Rep. Lamar Smith, the senior Republican on the House Judiciary Committee, and Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, who said such a measure would let "law enforcement stay ahead of the criminals."
....

In the Bush administration, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales had called for a very similar proposal, saying that subscriber information and network data should be logged for two years.

Until Gonzales' remarks in 2006, the Bush administration had generally opposed laws requiring data retention, saying it had "serious reservations" about them. But after the European Parliament approved such a requirement for Internet, telephone and VoIP providers, top administration officials began talking about the practice more favorably.

Gonzales never met a totalitarian idea he did not like, so no surprise there, but I thought Republicans were against doing stuff just because those pansy Europeans did it.

After Gonzales left the Justice Department, the political will for data retention legislation seemed to ebb for a time, but then FBI Director Robert Mueller resumed lobbying efforts last spring.

This tends to be a bipartisan sentiment: Attorney General Eric Holder, a Democrat, said in 1999 that "certain data must be retained by ISPs for reasonable periods of time so that it can be accessible to law enforcement." Rep. John Conyers, the Democratic chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, said that FBI proposals for data retention legislation "would be most welcome."

Read the rest here.

Well, if both sides of the aisle are for it, by gosh it must be good! Remember HR 1955, the Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act of 2007, which proposed keeping files on people considered to be thinking dangerous thoughts and expressing dangerous ideas? That was bipartisan too, passing the House by a vote of 404 to six. It was sponsored by Democratic Congresswoman Jane Harman, 36th District of California (Chair of the Intelligence Subcommittee) and co-sponsored by a Republican.

Harman
introduced HR 1955 on April 19, 2007. And she made it clear it was no coincidence, stating “April 19th marks the 12th anniversary of the Oklahoma City bombing, which claimed 168 lives and injured over 800. Only September 11, 2001, eclipses that dark day as the deadliest act of terrorism on US soil.” She introduced her bill on April 19 to make it very clear that her goal is to go after the future “Timothy McVeighs” out there right along with Muslim terrorists.


Well, the hand holding continues! Repbublicans and Democrats have put aside whatever petty differences they may have had and are now singing the same Big Brother tune -and these Republicans are not even worried about growing the powers of Big Brother in the hands of anti-gun Holder, Emanuel, and Obama!

They simply don't care anymore who has that power, so long as it is grown - I suppose they figure they will get to use it one day themselves, and besides, they really agree with Holder, Rahm Emanuel, Hillary and Obama on nearly everything, so why not?

I am DONE with the Republican Party. Done. A pox on both their houses.

Time to sharpen those pitchforks. We can be "bipartisan" too.

Stewart

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

THE BILL OF RIGHTS: THE CONSTITUTION’S BUILT-IN, MANDATORY MANUAL OF CONSTITUTIONAL INTERPRETATION

NOTE: This article was first published in S.W.A.T. Magazine, where I write a monthly column called Enemy at the Gate which is dedicated to the Bill of Rights - and that means all of it. The publisher and editor of S.W.A.T. are committed patriots (and no, S.W.A.T. Magazine is not just for police. Its readership also includes military and non-military average folks). They have given their consent to my republishing this article online. I think it presents some foundational principles we should always keep in mind. Feel free to pass it on to others if you like, but be sure to give proper credit to S.W.A.T. Magazine.


By

Stewart Rhodes

So great was the Founding generation’s distrust of powerful national governments that, when they rebelled against the Crown, they created a loose league of sovereign States under the Articles of Confederation. And even when some of the leading men of the time pushed for a national government with more power, the people would never have consented to such a leviathan as we now see, de-facto, in Washington D.C. They had just thrown off a government that claimed a power to legislate over them in all matters whatsoever and were not about to replace it with another.

Instead, what they consented to by ratifying the Constitution of 1787 was a dual sovereignty system, granting the new national government only certain, enumerated, and limited powers, with no general police power (a general law-making power to pass laws for the health, safety, and welfare of the people). Only the States had such a general power, which they retained, as the debates over ratification make clear:

The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the federal government, are few and defined. Those which are to remain in the State Governments are numerous and indefinite. The former will be exercised principally on external objects, as war, peace, negotiation, and foreign commerce …The powers reserved to the several States will extend to all the objects, which, in the ordinary course of affairs, concern the lives, liberty, and property of the people; and the internal order, improvement and prosperity of the State. - James Madison, Federalist 45

Despite such reassurances, the Constitution would never have been ratified without the promise of a Bill of Rights, which the ratifying conventions of several States insisted on because they still feared misconstruction and usurpation of powers never granted.


The Federalists argued that no Bill of Rights was needed since the federal government lacked the power to infringe on any of the people’s rights and listing certain rights and protections could dangerously lead to the inference that the government otherwise had powers not granted, and to the inference that the people’s rights were somehow limited to those listed.


Fortunately, the people did not buy those arguments (imagine where we’d be now, without a Bill of Rights!) but they did address those “concerns” in their proposed amendments, to be doubly-damn sure the Constitution would not be misinterpreted as the Federalists warned. Thus the Bill of Rights itself tells us how we must interpret the Constitution.


First, the Preamble to the Bill of Rights clearly states that its purpose was to prevent misconstruction:


THE Conventions of a number of the States having at the time of their adopting the Constitution, expressed a desire, in order to prevent misconstruction or abuse of its powers, that further declaratory and restrictive clauses should be added …. (emphasis added).

As discussed last time, some of those “declaratory and restrictive clauses” are written protections for certain preexisting rights of the people (such as the right to bear arms) and guarantees of ancient procedural protections, such as jury trial. But two others give commands on interpretation “to prevent misconstruction”:

The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people. – Ninth Amendment.

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. – Tenth Amendment. (emphasis added)


These are no mere suggestions. The Ninth Amendment uses the command language “shall not” and is as much a command as “the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.” It also speaks of the enumeration (the listing) in the Constitution of certain rights, not the “creation by the Constitution of certain rights.”


This is no accident. As noted previously, the Bill of Rights does not create rights, but merely provides protection for rights that already exist.


And no, the Tenth Amendment is not merely a “truism.” It is a vital command on interpretation, just like the Ninth. The People meant it to have teeth.


There you go. The Constitution’s built-in manual for constitutional interpretation:

1. You shall not interpret the Constitution as creating rights, and you shall not interpret it as meaning that the people have only those rights listed. We the people have natural rights, and those rights go far beyond those explicitly protected by the Bill of Rights.

2. The national government does not have a general police power to legislate on anything it wants (despite the modern lies of the Supreme Court regarding the Commerce Clause to the contrary). It is a government of particular, enumerated powers, and you shall construe its powers narrowly, as the people intended. There are other powers, which we the people have not granted, and we reserve all of those other powers to our sovereign State governments, or to ourselves.


From all of this, St. George Tucker, in his 1803 commentaries on the Constitution, derived the principle that all of the Constitution’s rights protecting provisions should be read very broadly, while the power granting provisions should be read very narrowly. Tucker was correct, but you don’t need to be a legal scholar to figure it out.

The people who ratified the Constitution did not leave the vital question of its interpretation open to be manipulated by some smart-alecky modern law professor out for tenure and a book deal, or by some future federal judge playing God – they gave us their commands for how it shall and “shall not be construed.”


And it is their understanding and intent that matters, not the preferences of the Nine Nazgul on the Court. Any “interpretive methods” that are contrary to those commands are not only inaccurate, but are themselves violations of the Constitution. Think about that the next time you hear some smooth talking lawyer, judge, professor, or politician prattling on about his own pet “modality” of constitutional interpretation. Look past the smoke and mirrors, and ask yourself if what you are hearing squares with the commands of the Ninth and Tenth Amendments.


When you use the powerful interpretive lenses the Bill of Rights provides, you will see “Them” for what they are, and you will no longer be fooled.



If you enjoyed this article and would like to read other S.W.A.T. Magazine Enemy at the Gate columns by Stewart Rhodes, you can purchase back issues of S.W.A.T. online, here in electronic format (PDF downloads) or as printed back issues here. You can also subscribe here.

THE FIRST FUNDAMENTAL PRINCIPLE OF CONSTITUTIONAL INTERPRETATION: YOUR RIGHTS DON’T COME FROM GOVERNMENT

NOTE: This article was first published in S.W.A.T. Magazine, where I write a monthly column called Enemy at the Gate which is dedicted to the Bill of Rights - and that means all of it. The publisher and editor of S.W.A.T. are committed patriots (and no, S.W.A.T. Magazine is not just for police. Its readership also includes military and non-military average folks). They have given their consent to my republishing this article online. I think it presents some foundational principles we should always keep in mind. Feel free to pass it on to others if you like, but be sure to give proper credit to S.W.A.T. Magazine.

By

Stewart Rhodes

Ben Franklin reportedly remarked that the Constitution formed “a Republic … if you can keep it.” Well, you can’t keep it if you don’t know what it is.


So, what is it? As George Mason said, “no free government, nor the blessings of liberty, can be preserved to any people, but by frequent recurrence to fundamental principles.” What are the fundamental principles of our Republic? Should we look first to Supreme Court decisions for such guidance? Hardly. As Jefferson said:

They [the judges] are … in fact the corps of sappers and miners, steadily working to undermine the independent rights of the States and to consolidate all power in the hands of that government in which they have so important a freehold estate.

And that was when the ideas of the Enlightenment still reigned supreme, long before the infestation of Marxism among legal elites. No, the Court has long ago gone astray. Let us begin with our 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 ….

There, at the heart of our Republic, are not just the concepts of equality and consent of the people, but also natural rights. The Declaration of Independence is fundamentally a natural law document and the “long train of abuses” that made revolt necessary were not only deprivations of representation (as we were taught in school), but also of natural rights, such as life, liberty, and property, and the abuse of all of the ancient, hard won procedural protections of those rights, such as habeas corpus and jury trial in a civilian court, rather than a court of admiralty. They finally shot back when the government attempted to strip them of the means of resisting the already ongoing abuse of their other natural rights.

Rights come first, and then government is created to protect them, not the other way round. This is something modern political and legal elites want us to forget. They don’t believe in inalienable, natural rights that are ours by virtue of ‘nature and nature’s God.” Instead, they share the view of Karl Marx, that such “rights” are merely artificial political/legal constructs, that man is just an infinitely malleable animal (to be shaped by social engineers), with no inherit rights whatsoever, and your only “rights” are whatever society wants to “give” you. Black’s law dictionary defines this as “positive law” – man made law - as opposed to natural law. Thus, Janet Reno once told a group of federal law enforcement officers “You are part of a government that has given its people more freedom … than any other government in the history of the world”(emphasis added).


Under this view, which flips the Declaration on its head, on what grounds can you ever rebel? Since your rights are “gifts” from government, and merely whatever the government courts say, with no higher power or law, it is never legitimate for a people to rebel, no matter how ridiculous the government’s “interpretation” of its own powers or how arbitrary and murderous it becomes once its servants in black robes “make it legal” by interpreting your so-called rights out of existence. Without natural rights there is no right to revolt, which is precisely why these elites think it totally illegitimate for you to have effective means of resistance.


Remember that all of the Crown’s actions were upheld by the English courts as legal and “constitutional.” However, for the Founding generation, that was not the end of the argument because they knew their rights were not just whatever the government robed lawyers said.


In harmony with that timeless, self evident truth, the Bill of Rights does not grant any rights. It is really more a bill of protections of rights. The First Amendment does not say “the people are hereby granted a right to free speech, freedom of the press, free practice of religion, and assembly.” Instead, it says “Congress shall make no law respecting … [those rights].” It is a prohibition on Congress, to protect pre-existing natural rights.


The same is true of the Second Amendment. It does not say “the people are hereby granted the right to bear arms.” No. It says “… the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.” It is a prohibition on government action, meant to protect a pre-existing right.


Likewise, the Fourth Amendment does not grant us a right to be secure in our persons, houses, papers and effects from unreasonable searches and seizures. It declares that our right to that security “shall not be violated” and then it sets forth procedural requirements to protect that preexisting right. Nor does the Fifth Amendment grant us a right to life, liberty, or property. It merely prohibits the government from depriving us of those pre-existing rights without due process of law, and spells out specific procedural protections for those natural rights. The same holds true for jury trial.


Thus, whenever you hear a judge, politician, lawyer, or talking head in the media speak of what rights you do or don’t have under the Constitution, you are hearing at best an ignorant statement, and at worst, a lie. And whenever you find yourself running to look in the Bill of Rights to see whether you have a right to do something, you are making a fundamental error. Your rights are inherently yours by nature and by nature’s God.


With that fundamental principle as our background, I will next delve more directly into constitutional interpretation, showing how the Bill of Rights mandates how we must interpret what the people consented to as the means “to secure these rights.”


If you enjoyed this article and would like to read other S.W.A.T. Magazine Enemy at the Gate columns by Stewart Rhodes, you can purchase back issues of S.W.A.T. online, here in electronic format (PDF downloads) or as printed back issues here. You can also subscribe here.

Montana House Joint Resolution No. 26 Affirming States Rights

Note: Because one of the earlier links to the full text to Montana House Joint Resolution No. 26 no longer works, I have posted the introduced resolution in its entirety below.

If you would like to go to the official Montana web version, you should be able to find it here:

http://data.opi.mt.gov/bills/2009/HouJoint/HJ0026_1.wpd

Or go to this page and look for HJ0026

But there is a chance those pages will be changed over time as well. Thus, I present it below just as I downloaded it from the above Montana site:


HOUSE JOINT RESOLUTION NO. 26
INTRODUCED BY M. MORE

A JOINT RESOLUTION OF THE SENATE AND THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES OF THE STATE OF MONTANA AFFIRMING STATES' RIGHTS AND CONDEMNING ENCROACHMENT OF THOSE RIGHTS BY THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT AND EXECUTIVE ORDERS.

WHEREAS, The Constitution of the State of Montana declares that the people of this state have the sole and exclusive right to govern themselves as a free, sovereign, and independent state and that the people of this state shall exercise and enjoy every power, jurisdiction, and right pertaining to that right; and
WHEREAS, that right may never be expressly delegated to the United States Congress; and
WHEREAS, The Constitution of the State of Montana declares that the people of Montana solemnly and mutually agree to form a free, sovereign, and independent body politic, or state, by the name of "The State of Montana"; and
WHEREAS, the people of the State of Montana agree that all powers not expressly delegated to the federal government in the United States Constitution and Bill of Rights must be reserved and exercised by individual states; and
WHEREAS, when Montana entered into statehood in 1889, that entrance was accomplished by a contract between Montana and the several states, with Congress and the President concurring and acting as the agent for the several states, a contract known as the "Compact With the United States", archived as Article I of the Montana Constitution; and
WHEREAS, a contract, compact, or treaty must be implemented consistent with the terms and understandings in place at the time it is entered into; and
WHEREAS, the protection of these states' rights is enumerated in amendments to the federal Constitution and Bill of Rights, which state that "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".

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED BY THE SENATE AND THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES OF THE STATE OF MONTANA:
(1) That the several states of the United States are not united on the principle of unlimited submission to general government, but by ratifying the federal Constitution and Bill of Rights, they constituted a general government for special purposes and delegated to that government certain definite powers, while reserving all other rights.
(2) That when the general government assumes undelegated powers, its acts are void and of no force.
(3) That the government created by the federal Constitution and Bill of Rights was not granted the right to determine the extent of the powers delegated to itself, since that would have made its discretion, and not the federal Constitution and Bill of Rights, the measure of its powers.
(4) That the federal Constitution and Bill of Rights delegated to Congress a power to punish treason, counterfeiting of the securities and current coin of the United States, piracies, felonies committed on the high seas, offenses against the law of nations, slavery, and no other crimes.
(5) That all acts of Congress that assume to create, define, or punish crimes, other than those enumerated in the federal constitution and Bill of Rights, are void and of no force.
(6) That the power to create, define, and punish other crimes is reserved by the states.
(7) That power over the freedom of religion, freedom of speech, and freedom of the press remains and is reserved by the states or the people, allowing states the right to judge how far the licentiousness of speech and of the press may be abridged without lessening their useful freedom and how far those abuses, which cannot be separated from their use, should be tolerated, rather than allowing the use to be destroyed.
(8) That states are guarded against all abridgment by the United States of the freedom of religious opinions and exercises and retain the right of protecting the same.
(9) That all acts of Congress that abridge freedom of religion, freedom of speech, or freedom of the press are not law and are void.
(10) That power over the freedom of the right to keep and bear arms was reserved to the states and to the people, allowing states the right to judge how far infringements on the right to bear arms should be tolerated, rather than allowing that exercise to be defined by Congress.
(11) That states and the people are guarded against all abridgment by the United States of the right to keep and bear arms and retain the right of protecting that right.
(12) That all acts of Congress that abridge the right to bear arms are not law and are void.
(13) That Congress's interpretation of those parts of the federal Constitution and Bill of Rights that delegate to Congress a power "to lay and collect taxes, duties, imposts, and excises, to pay the debts and provide for the common defence and general welfare of the United States" and "to make all laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into execution the foregoing powers, and all other powers vested by this Constitution in the government of the United States, or in any department or officer thereof" has attempted to destroy the limits of its power.
(14) That those parts of the federal Constitution and Bill of Rights, detailed in subsection (13), must not be construed to give unlimited powers to the federal government, and that Congress's inappropriate interpretation must be revised and corrected.
(15) That if Montana accepts these inappropriate interpretations and continues to allow Congress to exercise unbridled authority, it would be surrendering its own form of government.
(16) That the people of this state will not submit to undelegated and consequently unlimited powers.
(17) That every state has a right to nullify all assumptions of power by others within their limits, and that without this right, states would be under the dominion and power of anyone who might try to exercise that power.
(18) That it would be a dangerous delusion to silence people's fears for the safety of their rights.
(19) That this state calls on its costates for an expression of their sentiments on acts not authorized by the United States Constitution.
(20) That the rights and liberties of Montana and its costates must be protected from any dangers by declaring that Congress is limited by the federal Constitution and Bill of Rights.
(21) That any act by the Congress of the United States, Executive Order of the President of the United States, or Judicial Order of the United States that assumes a power not delegated by the federal Constitution and Bill of Rights diminishing the liberty of this state or its citizens constitutes a nullification of the federal Constitution and Bill of Rights by the government of the United States, which would also breach Montana's "Compact With the United States". Acts that would cause a nullification and a breach include but are not limited to:
(a) establishing martial law or a state of emergency within a state without the consent of the legislature of that state;
(b) requiring involuntary servitude or governmental service other than a draft during a declared war or pursuant to or as an alternative to incarceration after due process of law;
(c) requiring involuntary servitude or governmental service of persons under the age of 18 other than pursuant to or as an alternative to incarceration after due process of law;
(d) surrendering any power delegated or not delegated to any corporation or foreign government;
(e) any act regarding religion, further limitations on freedom of political speech, or further limitations on freedom of the press; or
(f) any act regarding the right to keep and bear arms or further limitations on the right to bear arms, including any restrictions on the type or number of firearms or the amount or type of ammunition any law-abiding citizen may purchase, own, or possess.
(22) That if any act of Congress becomes law or if an Executive Order or Judicial Order is put into force related to the reservations expressed in this resolution, Montana's "Compact With the United States" is breached and all powers previously delegated to the United States by the federal Constitution and Bill of Rights revert to the states individually.
(23) That any future government of the United States shall require ratification of three-fourths of the states seeking to form a government and shall not be binding upon any state not seeking to form a government.
(24) That the Secretary of State send copies of this resolution to the President of the United States and to each member of the United States Congress.
- END -

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Montana Introduces Resolution Asserting State Sovereignty - And Threatening Secession

A Montana Resolution asserting state sovereignty has been introduced, today, February 17, 2009, by Montana State Rep. Mike More as HJ 26. Montana thus joins the recent wave of fiery state sovereignty resolutions. And as with the New Hampshire Resolution, the Montana resolution borrows heavily from Jefferson's Kentucky Resolutions of 1798, and then lists particular acts that would nullify the Constitution and void the compact by which Montana became a state - that is a threat to secede if the feds step too far. Here is an excerpt:
(21) That any act by the Congress of the United States, Executive Order of the President of the United States, or Judicial Order of the United States that assumes a power not delegated by the federal Constitution and Bill of Rights diminishing the liberty of this state or its citizens constitutes a nullification of the federal Constitution and Bill of Rights by the government of the United States, which would also breach Montana's "Compact With the United States". Acts that would cause a nullification and a breach include but are not limited to:

(a) establishing martial law or a state of emergency within a state without the consent of the legislature of that state;

(b) requiring involuntary servitude or governmental service other than a draft during a declared war or pursuant to or as an alternative to incarceration after due process of law;

(c) requiring involuntary servitude or governmental service of persons under the age of 18 other than pursuant to or as an alternative to incarceration after due process of law;

(d) surrendering any power delegated or not delegated to any corporation or foreign government;

(e) any act regarding religion, further limitations on freedom of political speech, or further limitations on freedom of the press; or

(f) any act regarding the right to keep and bear arms or further limitations on the right to bear arms, including any restrictions on the type or number of firearms or the amount or type of ammunition any law-abiding citizen may purchase, own, or possess.

(22) That if any act of Congress becomes law or if an Executive Order or Judicial Order is put into force related to the reservations expressed in this resolution, Montana's "Compact With the United States" is breached and all powers previously delegated to the United States by the federal Constitution and Bill of Rights revert to the states individually.

To avoid the possibility of dead links, I have posted the whole resolution here. If you would like to go to the official Montana web version, you should be able to find it here:

http://data.opi.mt.gov/bills/2009/HouJoint/HJ0026_1.wpd

Or go to this page and look for HJ0026



My thoughts: All I have to say is God bless Montana! Yet one more reason to love my adopted home state.


However, Montana was already considered to be among the states asserting sovereignty because of its "made in Montana" gun bill, as David Codrea notes here. And last year, before the Supreme Court's decision in Heller, Montana fired a shot across the Supreme Court's bow with a resolution threatening secession if the Court went with the so-called "collective right" interpretation of the Second Amendment (as I noted in an Enemy at the Gate column in S.W.A.T. Magazine).
And in the past Montana has bucked the feds told them to shove their federal highway money over the issue of speed limits, and also said no to Real ID.

Thus, you should not make the mistake of thinking this is some recent idea - Montanans have consistently, over a span of many years, asserted their sovereignty. And more importantly, Montanans have done so from the very beginning, as their state constitution makes clear. As Gary Marbut of the Montana Shooting Sports Association so ably puts it:

Remember, the Montana Constitution says, at Article II, Section 2, "The people have the exclusive right of governing themselves as a free, sovereign, and independent state."

Some will say that these are just words on paper and don't really mean anything. I disagree.

These words are a part of the contract by which Montana was engendered as a socio-political entity. The very existence of the construct called the "State of Montana" is dependent upon this contract among Montana people, a contract giving the state defined and limited powers.

One of these limitations is the terms of Article II. Section 2, which limits the authority of the State to contract with the other states. That is, by its very charter, the State is not authorized to lock itself politically into being a mere administrative region of that creature of the several states, the federal government, nor may the state surrender the rights and prerogatives of individuals to the federal government.

HJ 26 addresses these issues and relationships.

I could not have said it better myself. And no, this is not about money from the feds. This is about self-government, and about being free from onerous, oppressive, and unconstitutional federal laws and actions. One of the causes of the American Revolution was the claim by the British Parliament that it could legislate over the colonists in all cases whatsoever - down to the most minute detail of their lives. Our forefathers rejected that absurd claim. We are now rejecting the same assertion of totalitarian power by the Mordor on the Potomac.

Brace yourselves - it's going to be a wild ride.

Why do I say that? Isn't this just so much posturing which will amount to nothing in the long run?

Not so fast. Note that one of the causes of nullification would be any more legislation restricting the right to bear arms, including restriction of type of arms. That means no new "Assault Weapons Ban." And you can bet that HR 45, which aims to register, fingerprint, and track gun owners just as if they were convicted child molesters, would also be considered a breach.

If there is anything that has the potential to spark actual secession, and even actual civil war or revolution in this nation, it is those two onerous measures. Gun haters are playing with fire, and poking at a hornet's nest, with their plans for a renewed AWB and with the totalitarian HR 45.

I hope they have the good sense to back off - though I fear they are just too "autistic" when it comes to this, and simply do not get it.
They think it is simply a matter of passing a law, and then gun owners will meekly submit. But they are only thinking in the conventional legal and political dimensions. As these resolutions remind us, there are other dimensions, and whatever law is passed, whatever executive order "The One" issues, whatever clever decision is handed down by the Nine Nazgul on the Court, that will not be the end of the argument - just as it was not the end of the argument back in 1775.

History does indeed repeat itself. I think there is an awakening, a quickening, happening that may just rival what happened prior to the American Revolution. And I see pockets of resolve like Montana as the place where it will start.

Montana, and other states like it, are the new version of what New England was back then - pockets of radicalism and fiery resolve. But can we be the modern versions of Thomas Paine, Sam Adams, James Otis, Patrick Henry, and Thomas Jefferson that are needed?

Time will tell.


If you have not yet read Jefferson's Kentucky Resolutions, I highly recommend you do so. As should be no surprise coming from the author of the Declaration of Independence (this nation's birth certificate) the Kentucky Resolutions present the most concise, clear, and common sense expression of the principles of our Constitutional Republic in existence.

Now it is our turn to recall those fundamental principles and take a stand. As Jefferson said:
"In matters of style, swim with the current; in matters of principle, stand like a rock."
Will we take that stand? If not now, when? If not us, who? Will we leave it to our children and grandchildren to do it? Or will we clean house ourselves, cleaning up the mess we allowed to happen, and leave them in a free nation? I believe we have reached that critical point in this nation's history. Unfortunately, what I see coming reminds me of something George Washington told his troops before the battle of Long Island:
"The time is now near at hand which must probably determine, whether Americans are to be, Freemen, or Slaves; whether they are to have any property they can call their own; whether their Houses, and Farms, are to be pillaged and destroyed, and they consigned to a State of Wretchedness from which no human efforts will probably deliver them. The fate of unborn Millions will now depend, under God, on the Courage and Conduct of this army-Our cruel and unrelenting Enemy leaves us no choice but a brave resistance, or the most abject submission; that is all we can expect-We have therefore to resolve to conquer or die." - George Washington, addressing his troops before the Battle of Long Island.
Please do your part in supporting the resolutions of Montana, New Hampshire, and others like them, in the hopes that the DC crowd will get the message and back off. If they don't, they will leave us no choice but a brave resistance or the most abject submission. I believe enough Americans still retain the fire of liberty in their hearts to choose the former - and to win.

Stewart Rhodes

PS - Gary Marbut of Montana Shooting Sports Association played a critical role by assisting in drafting this resolution and in getting it proposed, and MSSA deserves your support not just for this, but for all else MSSA does on behalf of Montanans in general, and Montana gun owners in particular. Please join MSSA and support it with your contributions.




UPDATE: A point of clarification and a couple additional thoughts:

#1. This is not really about secession. You can't "secede" from something that no longer exists. Dan Itse, the drafter and sponsor of the New Hampshire states rights resolution makes a very good point when he says this is not about withdrawing from the Union. As he recently told Glenn Beck on his show, "the very best resolution of this resolution would be a renewed union within the confines of the Constitution." I agree, and as I told one commenter, I would prefer to just have a national government that lived within its means and within the bounds of the Constitution, but unfortunately, that is not what we now have.

And, as Itse points out,
“if the government chooses to aggress in nullifying the Constitution, it is impossible to secede from something that doesn’t exist.”

And you will note that the Montana resolution says nothing about secession - what it says is that if the federal government further transgresses in violating the Constitution and Bill of rights, and violating the rights of Montanans, then Montana will rightfully consider the compact between the states - the Constitution - to have been nullified by the feds, not by Montana. At that point, the agreement among the states by which Montana entered into the Union will have been breached by the national government, "and all powers previously delegated to the United States by the federal Constitution and Bill of Rights revert to the states individually."

#2. What Jefferson wrote in the Declaration of Independence is still true:

Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.
Nobody is saying this would be a picnic, and we would prefer it not come to that, but:

We are seeing, today, a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evincuing a design to reduce us under absolute Despotism every bit as onerous and dangerous as anything the Founders faced.

Think I'm exagerating? Then please go read this article I wrote about the Clinton era proposal to use military tribunals on the domestic American milita movement - on US citizens - and how everything in that proposal was put into place by the Bush Administration, so that Obama has at his finger tips claimed powers Clinton could only dream of.

Obama now has the court approved defacto power to declare any of us citizens to be unlawful "enemy combatants" and thus strip us of all of the protections of the Bill of Rights, detaining us without indictment and trying us before military tribunals instead of by a jury of our peers. Of course, that claimed power is illegitimate and wildly unconstitutional, as Scalia pointed out in his Hamdi dissent, but the majority on the Court put its stamp of approval on it.

One of the causes of the American revolution listed in the Declaration of Independence was denial of the right to jury trial and the "extraordinary rendition" of their day - whisking men off to England to face trial in kangaroo courts (and of course, all the English courts approved). That was one of the many "long train of abuses" that fueled the Revolution.

And the spark of the American Revolution was the attempt to disarm the people. Today, there are gun hating extremists in the Obama Administration and in Congress who just will not be able to resist the temptation to try and disarm us - what else is HR 45 but a call to register and track all gun owners, to more easily facilitate disarmament?

History is repeating itself. And what Jefferson said about the purposes of government, and our right to throw it off when it violates those purposes, is still true. and that brings me to these last two points we should always keep in mind:

Fundamental Principles of Our Constitutional Republic

A. First fundamental principle of our Republic: your rights don't come from government. As our Declaration says, rights come first, and government is created to protect your rights. Not the other way round. You can read an article I wrote for SWAT Magazine on this topic here.

B. The Bill of Rights affirms that our rights do not come from government, and provides us with a guide to Constitutional interpretation we can use to judge the actions of government. Whatever the judges may say, we the people made it very clear in the Bill of Rights what the boundaries were. Look there first for guidance. I also wrote about this for SWAT, and you can read that article here.

Stewart Rhodes