Rocker and Sage

The Quintessential Optimist and the Quintessential Cynic - Working Together to Build a Better America.

Friday, May 19, 2006

"Common Sense" in Common Times

,The inspiration for this post is a result of my having re-read this classic document written by none other than the venerable pen of Thomas Paine, the vocal conscience of the American Revolution. While I was reading, I became uncomfortably, and painfully aware of how easily the interchange of the words "King" and "President" as well as "government and "people" had become in the years that have passed since this essay had first appeared, while at the same time noting that this "voice of the first American Revolution" would very probably be re-submitting this work with a few corrections in an attempt to spark a second American Revolution were he with us today. That being the case, at least from this readers perspective, I have humbly agreed to volunteer for the task at hand. Please forgive me in advance for any presumptions that I have made in regards to the text in its original form and setting.
Of Monarchy(presidency) and Hereditary Succession(dynasty)
All men being created equals in the original order of creation,the equality could only be destroyed by some subsequent circumstance;the distinctions of rich and poor may in great measure be accounted for in this instant. But there is another and greater distinction for which no truly natural or religious reason can be assigned, and that is, the distinction of men into kings(presidents)and subjects(citizens). Male and female are the distinctions of nature,good and bad the distinctions of duality;but how a race of men came into this world so exalted,and distinguished like some new species,is worth inquiring into.
In the early ages of the world,according to scripture chronology, there were no kings(presidents)the consequence of which there were no wars;it is the pride of kings(presidents) which throw mankind into confusion.All of antiquity favors this remark;for the quiet, bucolic lives of the first patriarchs hath a happy something in them which vanishes when we come to the history of Jewish royalty.
Government by kings(presidents) was first introduced into the world by the heathens from whom the children of Israel copied the custom.
It was the most prosperus invention of the devil ever for the promotion of idolatry. As the exalting of one man so greatly above the rest cannot be justified on the equal rights of nature,so neither can it be defended by the authority of scripture;for the will of the Almighty,as declared by Gideon and the prophet Samuel,expressly disapproves of government by kings(presidents). All anti-monarchical parts of scripture have been very smoothly glossed over or ignored all together by both the church, and government in modern times,and,I might add,quite to the detriment of personal freedom in the process.
Nearly three thousand years passed from the time of the Mosaic account of the creation till the Jews under a national delusion requested a king(president). Until then their form of governing themselves,except when the Almighty interposed,was a kind of republic administered by a judge and the elders of the tribe.Kings(presidents) they had none of,and it was held to be sinful to acknowledge any being under that title but the Lord of Hosts.
Monarchy(presidency) is ranked in scripture as one of the sins of the Jews,for which a curse in reserve has been denounced against them. The history of that transaction is worth attending to.
The children of Israel being oppressed by the Midianites,Gideon marched against them with a small army and achieved victory through divine intervention.The Jews elate with success,attributed it to the generalship of Gideon,proposed making him a king,saying,"Rule thou over us,thou and thy son,and thy son's son".Here was temptation in its fullest extent;not a kingdom only,but a hereditary one as well.Gideon in the piety of his soul replied,"I will not rule over you,neither shall my son rule over you,THE LORD SHALL RULE OVER YOU.Words need not be more explicit;Gideon does not decline the honor,but rather their right to give it,neither does he compliment them with his thanks,but in the style of a prophet charges them with disloyalty to their proper sovereign,the King of Heaven.
About one hundred years after this,they fell again into the same error.The hankering which the Jews had for the idolatrous customs of the Heathens,is something exceedingly unaccountable;but so it was,that laying hold of the misconduct of Samuel's two sons,who were entrusted with some secular concerns,they came in an abrupt and clamorous manner to Samuel saying,"Behold,thou art old,and thy sons walk not in thy ways, now make us a king to judge us like all the other nations.And here we cannot but observe that their motives were bad in that "they might be like all the other nations" whereas their true glory was to be found in their"not" being like them."But the thing displeased Samuel when they said,give us a king to judge us; and Samuel prayed unto the Lord, and the Lord said to Samuel,listen unto the voice of the people in all that they say unto thee, for they have not rejected thee, but they have rejected me, THAT I SHOULD NOT REIGN OVER THEM. Now therefore listen to their voices, howbeit protest solemnly unto them and show them what manner of king that shall reign over them",not of any particular king(president)but the general manner of the kings(presidents) of the earth,whom Israel was so eagerly copying after.And not withstanding the great distance of time, and manners,the character is still in fashion. "And Samuel told all the words of the Lord unto the people that asked of him a king. And he said,"this shall be the manner of the king that shall reign over you;he will take your sons and appoint them for himself(military draft) to be his charioteers,and horsemen,and he will appoint him captains over thousands,and will set them to grow his ground and reap his harvest,and to make his instruments of war, and he will take your daughters to be confectionaries,and to be cooks and bakers(luxury and servitude), and he will take your fields,and your olive gardens, and the tenth of your seed,and of your vineyards the best of them to give to his officers(tax and spend,cronyism and corruption) and you shall cry out on that day because of your king(president) which ye shall have chosen,AND THE LORD WILL NOT HEAR YOU IN THAT DAY."This accounts for the continuation of the monarchy(presidency);neither do the characters of the good kings(presidents) which have lived since, either sanctify the title, or blot out the sinfulness of the origin of the office.
To the evil of monarchy(presidency) we have added that of hereditary succession(dynasty); and as the first is a degradation and a lessening of ourselves, so the second, claimed as a matter of right, is an insult and an imposition on our posterity. For all men, being equals originally, no one by birth could have the right to set up his own family in perpetual preference to all others for ever.One of the strongest natural proofs of the folly of hereditary(dynastic) rights in kings(presidents) is that nature disapproves of it, otherwise she would not so frequently turn it into ridicule by giving mankind an ass for a lion.(or as in the present case something infinitely worse)
If we inquire into the business of a king(president),we find that after sauntering away their lives without pleasure to themselves or advantage to the nation, withdraw from the scene,and leave their successors to tread the same idle round.
The nearer any government approaches to a republic the less business there is for a king(president).It is somewhat difficult to find a proper name for the government of England(America)Sir William Meredith calls it a republic;but in its present state it is unworthy of the name,because of the corrupt influence of the monarchy(presidency) has so effectually swallowed up its power, and eaten out the virtue of the house of commons(representatives) that the government of England(America) is nearly as monarchical(presidential) as that of France and Spain(Saudi Arabia and Qatar) Men use names without understanding them. It is the republican and not the monarchical(presidential) part of the constitution which the people glory in, the liberty of choosing the house of commons(representatives) from out of their own body.Why is the constitution of England(America) sickly, but because monarchy(presidency) has poisoned the republic.In England(America) a king(president) has little more to do than to make war and give away places(welfare& graft) which in plain terms is to impoverish the nation and set it together by the ears. A pretty business indeed for a man to be allowed eight hundred thousand a year sterling($450,000.00) for, and virtually worshipped in the bargain! Of more worth is one honest man to society and in the sight of God than all of the crowned(elected) ruffians that ever lived.
In the following pages I offer nothing more than simple facts, plain arguments, and common sense; and have no other preliminaries to settle with the reader than that he will divest himself of prejudice, and suffer his reason and feelings to determine for themselves; that he will put on, or rather that he will not put off, the true character of a man, and generously enlarge his views beyond the present day.
Volumes have been written on the subject of the struggle between England and America(kings/presidents & subjects).Men of all ranks have embarked in the controversy.All have been ineffectual, and the period of debate is fast closing.Arms, as the last resort must decide the contest.The appeal was the choice of the king(president) and the continent(people) have accepted the challenge. The sun never shined on a cause of greater worth.'Tis not the affair of a city, a county, a province, or a kingdom, but of a continent, yea even a world.'Tis not the concern of a day, a year, or an age;posterity are virtually involved in the contest, and will be unto the end of time by the proceedings that we are now engaged in.
I have heard it asserted by some, that as America(the people) has flourished under her connection with England(the govt.),that this connection is necessary towards her future happiness, and will always have the same effect. Nothing can be more fallacious than this kind of argument. We may as well assert that because a child has thrived on milk, that it is to never have meat, or that the first twenty years of our life is to become the precedent for the next twenty. but even this is admitting more than is true, for I answer roundly that America(the people) would have flourished as much, and probably more, had no European power(the govt.) had anything to do with her.The business, and commerce by which she has enriched herself are the necessaries of life, and will always have a market while eating is the custom among men.
But she(the govt.) has protected us say some. True, she has engrossed(taxed) us, and defended us on occasion at our own expense,and would have defended Turkey(Iraq) from the same motive that being trade(money) and dominion(control). Alas, we have been long led away by prejudice, and superstitution. We have boasted the protection of Great Britain(government) without considering that her motive was self interest, and not attachment; that she did not protect us from our enemies on our account, but rather from her enemies on her account.But Britain(Washington) is the parent country(govt.) Then more the shame be upon her for her conduct.For even the brutes do not devour their young, nor savages make war on their families in such a matter as these do now.
I challenge the warmest advocate for reconciliation to show a single advantage that this continent(people) can reap by being connected with Great Britain(Washington). Our corn(products) will fetch its price in any market in Europe(the world), and our imported goods must be paid for by us, buy them where we will. But the injuries, and disadvantages we sustain by that connection are without number(and increasing); and our duty to mankind, as well as to ourselves, instruct us to renounce the alliance: Because, any submission to , or dependence on Great Britain(Washington), tends to directly involve this continent(people) in European(foreign) wars and quarrels; and sets us at variance with nations, who would otherwise seek our friendship, and against whom we have neither anger or complaint. As Europe(the world) is our market for trade, we ought to form no partial connection to any part of it. It is(and has always been) the true interest of America to steer clear of European(world) contentions, which we can never do, while by our dependence on Britain(Washington), we are the make-weight in the scale of British(Washingtonian) politics.Europe(the world) is too thickly planted with kingdoms to be long at peace, and whenever a war breaks out between Britain(Washington) and any foreign power, the trade of America goes to ruin, because of her connection to Britain(Washington).
The authority of Great Britain(Washington) over this continent(people) is a form of government, which sooner or later must end. As parents, we can have no joy knowing that this government is not sufficiently lasting to ensure anything that we may bequeath to posterity: and by plain method of argument,as we are running the next generation into debt, we ought to do the work of it, otherwise we use them meanly, and pitifully. In order to discover the line of our duty rightly, we should take our children in our hand and fix our station a few years farther into life; that eminence will present a prospect which a few present fears and prejudices conceal from our sight.
Though, I would carefully avoid giving unnecessary offence, yet I am inclined to believe that all of those who espouse the doctrine of reconciliation, may be included in the within following descriptions: Interested men, who are not to be trusted(lawyers clergy & businessmen),weak men, who cannot see(uneducated in most matters), prejudiced men, who will not see,(conservatives & liberals); and a certain set of moderate men who think better of the European world than it deserves(state employees,police,& teachers) This last class, by an ill-judged deliberation, will be the cause of more calamities to this continent(people), than all of the other three.
Men of passive tempers look somewhat lightly over the offences of Britain(Washington), and still hoping for the best, are apt to call out, "Come, come, we can still be friends again for all this".But examine the passion of mankind, bring the doctrine of reconciliation to the touchstone of nature, and then tell me if you can hereafter love, honor, and faithfully serve the power that has carried fire,and sword(taxation w/o representation) into your land? If you cannot do all of these, then you are only deceiving yourself, and by your delay bringing ruin upon your posterity.
Every quiet method for peace has been ineffectual.Our petitions have been rejected with disdain; and only tended to convince us that nothing flatters vanity, or confirms obstinancy in Kings(Presidents) more than repeated petitioning. Wherefore, since nothing but blows will do, for God's sake let us come to a final separation(restoration), and not leave the next generation to be cutting throats under the violated names of parent, and child.
A government of our own is our natural right, and when a man reflects on the precariousness of human affairs he will become convinced that it is infinitely wiser, and safer to form a constitution of our own in a cool, deliberate manner WHILE WE HAVE IT IN OUR POWER, than to trust such an interesting event to time and chance.
O ye that love mankind! Ye that oppose not only tyranny, but the tyrant, stand forth! Every spot of the old world is overrun with oppression. Freedom has been hunted round the globe. Asia, and Africa have long expelled her, Europe regards her as a stranger, and Britain(Washington) has given warning to her to depart. O! receive the fugitive, and prepare(repair) in time an asylum for mankind.
The revolution was not televised then- and will not be now!
Thomas Paine/The Old Sage

Thursday, May 04, 2006

The Constitution is dead... Long live the Constitution!

Every once in a while in conversation about the problems plaguing our beloved country I will sally forth with the proposal that all of these so-called problems could be quickly solved by putting the country back on what I have come to call "Constitutional footing"; that is by actually applying its true principles to the present day problems that we are facing. Usually, I am met with the response "the Constitution is dead" and that any attempts to apply it according to its "original intent" especially in regards to limiting the power of public officials would be futile, and that any arguments to the contrary could be classified from the ridiculous to the screwball in their character.
The Bible says that "a prophet is not without honor except in his own country". This should not be misconstrued to mean in any way that his prophesy is erroneous, most especially when the argument against his pronouncements are as non-sensical as "the Constituiton is dead".
Quite obviously, the Constitution is anything but "dead" in respect to the application of political power that effects the lives of Americans on a day by day basis. To the contrary, it is very much alive and active in regards to the election process, the Supreme Court's decisions, the President's command of the armed forces and so on. Every happening in these areas is subject to its authority, and procedures according to its dictates in the original form.
True enough, many of these so-called "procedures" done in the name of the Constitution are quite unconstitutional. But my point here is that there is no one who would dare seek public office at either the state or federal level that would ever admit that he is acting outside of its dictates in terms of anything procedural in regards to his own behavior as an elected official. Even those public officials who do in fact flout it in practice
nonetheless acknowledge the Constitution to be "the supreme law of the land"(Art.6 Sec.2) which everyone, including them, must follow. They invoke the Constitution as the source of their authority, and make all claims that their actions are fully consistent with it, they swear an oath of allegiance to it as public servants of its dictates. That these acts are in many cases, acts of self-deception, hypocrisy, and perjury does not diminish the character of this document as "the supreme law" in any way.
The fact that criminals violate laws does not in one iota negate those laws.A good case in point is the ongoing exodus of Mexicans into the US "in search of a better life" that feel that the end justifies the means in spite of any violation of immigration laws and statutes to the contrary.
So, how is it then that the powers that the Constitution grants to officials is fully alive and operative, whereas the limitations that it places on that power, also written in plain language, and no less in force, are supposedly "dead"? How can it be that those in power can pick and choose that which empowers them, and ignore that which limits them?
On what theory of law, or constitutional government can officials enforce the parts of the law that grant them power, while ignoring, or refusing to honor the parts of the very same law that restrains and limits that power?
If this is in fact true in the practical sense that "the Constitution is dead" in regards to its limitations on governmental power, then how can anything that public officials do ever be legally wrong? If public officials refuse to obey the Constitutional parts that limit their power, and need not do so because that part is "dead", then how can American citizens determine whether what is being done by them is in the best interests of the republic? If the Constitution is "dead" as to its limitations, then no public official violates his "oath or affirmation, to support this Constitution"(Art.6, Sec.3) when he disregards those supposedly ineffective restraints.
So, it can only follow, that if the Constitution is indeed "dead" as to its limitations, then it is "dead" to the individual rights that it guarantees, because those rights establish the very limitations on government power that are being violated.If, on the basis of the excuse that the Constitution is "dead", Americans lie supinely on their backs obeying the dictates of these officials whenever they break the statutes of the Constitution, then by their own affirmation they are admitting that those who succeed in seizing control of the reigns of government can do whatever pleases them, whenever it pleases them. These officials are thus accountable only to their own designs of government as they wish it to be.
When this finally, and fully becomes the accepted norm, the age of the coming dictatorship in America will have arrived.
In short, if "we the people" concede the fight to come, and make no mistake about it, we are in a fight to the finish,that the Constitution is "dead", then we will have given away the high ground, and put ourselves at our enemies mercy.
The so-called "American Revolution",was not really a revolution in the best sense of that word, but rather a war of independence from England, and not from the basic precepts of English law, but rather from the rule of a system that was so easily corrupted by usurpations, and tyranny.
This, of course, was the result of a traditional political precedent that was the norm, which is not at all the case today where the establishment's usurpations are exercises of powers that were never delegated to them by 'we the people" and which no public official "sworn to the oath" may thus lay claim to.
This being true,then we find ourselves in the unenviable position of being our own worst enemies having elected the worst possible miscreants to the highest public offices.Thusly, voters ignorant of "the supreme law of the land", have simply provided further evidence for History's teaching that unrestrained democracy leads straight to tyranny, and when has it not?
The task ahead, for those that would "keep" the republic, is not as daunting as the founding brothers, for they had to create something new from scratch, without a map to follow in unknown territory. Whereas, "we the people" merely have to stand our ground and keep what is rightfully ours already.
This,then, raises the even more profound question of whether if it may be conceded that the Constitution is indeed "dead" in such a way as to be beyond revival, or preservation, that it also must be conceded that the concept of constitutionalism is "dead" as well. Is government in the only worthwhile understanding of the term, that is, "organized political power controlled by the laws of nature, and God" impossible and therefore "dead" also?
Any patriot must reject this conclusion outright without further consideration along with the premise on which it rests.What is in fact "dead" is not the Constitution, or constitutionalism, as these are the embodiment of the ideals of every man in every place and time, but rather the defenders of the faith in the eternal truths that they convey. And not because they even believe them to be wrong, or inapplicable to the times, but simply because they lack the courage to stand up for the way of life that the founders of this country left for them.
This, however, does not have to be a fatal condition. Regular Americans once had courage, and believed in the greatness of the founders vision, and they can again. It requires only enough energy and determination to overcome the political laziness that gives up because that is the easiest thing to do. If Americans cannot muster up enough gumption to overcome that sloth then the Constitution is "dead", and so is America-Long live the Constitution!
The Revolution will not be televised.