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Doug Smith: The silence of the fallen is deafening this Memorial Day.

30 May

 

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Doug Smith:  Historian and Social editor for Free State Patriot

5.29.18

 

Listen…

Can you hear it? That stillness, so quiet it seems to pull the very air from your ears.

A quiet you only hear in special places. On the green at Lexington, on the slopes of Valley Forge. Shhh… Listen. It’s quiet now, it wasn’t then, when those names meant something. Listen to Vicksburg, to Gettysburg, to men, boys really, who labored in heat and noise, shot and shell, fear and pain, standing fast, standing firm, till they fell.

Do you hear them? At Chickamauga, at bloody Antietam, in the Wilderness. In Belleau Wood, and the Argonne Forest, in the now quiet rows of white above the beaches of Normandy where the Bedford boys and thousands more of the 29th Division finally hear only the wind flapping the Stars and Stripes, quiet now are the Higgins boat, the 88s, the MGs, the screams of the wounded.

In a low place with a glassy black wall in Washington, over 50,000 names hear the dead silence echoing. The rifles and mortars are quiet now.

52 Submarine crews no longer hear the depth charges, or the sounds of the hull caving in, just the silence of the bottom of the Pacific.

Its quiet today. Do you hear it? The sounds of battle and struggle are over. And a multitude of warriors are at rest, having given it all right up till they no longer could.

Men and women. Boys, mostly, less than 19, answered the call, and stood to in the fury and thunder of battle. And by the thousands, they laid down their young lives to defend the weak, the oppressed, the victims of bullies.

Today… they are quiet. Today… they rest.

So, listen. Hear that? No bombs, no bullets, no invaders.

Listen to the quiet they hear.

And remember them.

Bravo Zulu, brothers.

 

Doug Smith served our country proudly as a submariner on the USS Gato SSN 615, as Chief Petty Officer and was an Instructor, IT school at the Naval Submarine School Groton.  He maintains contact with many of his Naval friends and refers to the Gato as the “Best boat in the fleet”!

 

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Doug Smith: U.S. Constitution has served “We the People” for over 200 years

4 May

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Doug Smith:  Free State Patriot historian and social editor

5.4.2018

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US Constitution

Article 1, Section 8

Congress shall have power to… (among other things)

To establish a uniform Rule of Naturalization, and uniform Laws about Bankruptcies throughout the United States;

Article 2, Section 2

The President

He shall have power, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, to make treaties, provided two thirds of the Senators present concur; and he shall nominate, and by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, shall appoint ambassadors, other public ministers and consuls, judges of the Supreme Court, and all other officers of the United States, whose appointments are not herein otherwise provided for, and which shall be established by law: but the Congress may by law vest the appointment of such inferior officers, as they think proper, in the President alone, in the courts of law, or in the heads of departments.

Article 3, Section 2

The judicial power shall extend to all cases, in law and equity, arising under this Constitution, the laws of the United States, and treaties made, or which shall be made, under their authority;–to all cases affecting ambassadors, other public ministers and consuls;–to all cases of admiralty and maritime jurisdiction;–to controversies to which the United States shall be a party;–to controversies between two or more states;–between a state and citizens of another state;–between citizens of different states;–between citizens of the same state claiming lands under grants of different states, and between a state, or the citizens thereof, and foreign states, citizens or subjects.

Evidently, we no longer teach civics in the public schools of these United States. Equally evidently, we neither teach it nor require it as basic knowledge of judges, or members of congress, or presidents.  If you like the extra-legal decisions made in support of your desired position, you may cheer this fact. You should not.

Case in point.

Yet another judge has chimed in to make his ruling that President Trump cannot stop the DACA program because his decision to do so is arbitrary, and besides, he is Trump. Now this judge is entitled to dislike the President. After all, I did so for the previous 8 years. But he is no more able to stop the President’s decisions because of that than I was.

To be clear: DACA is not a law. (See above. Congress never passed any law upon which DACA is based, this was simply a decision by the President, carried out by the Secretary of DHS, to “fail to faithfully execute existing law”, to wit, immigration law, because he did not like it. President Trump, whose instincts in the matter are to faithfully and vigorously enforce immigration law, nevertheless tried to do the right thing. He announced that he was going to rescind the arbitrary  decision of President Obama, and begin enforcing the law once again. However, he also tossed the ball to Congress, whose ball it was, and said, if you folks want to do something about the people affected by this decision, well do your job. Write a bill, pass it and send it to me, and THEN we can have a law to execute.

That is the sound of crickets. No bill. No law. (By the way, President Obama had a totally Democrat Congress for 2 full years. He could have gotten a law enacted then. Or, he could have compromised with the GOP, and still gotten some sort of law to deal with the situation of DACA aliens. He chose not to)

So, President Trump announced that he would end the program of failing to enforce a law that Barack Obama did not like, because, well, it IS the law. And evidently, from the actions of Barack Obama and the Congress for 10 years, that is what they WANT the law to be.

Now judges may rule that laws do not pass the Constitution, and require review if SCOTUS upholds them. What judges may NOT do, under our Constitution, is infringe upon the power of the President to enforce “existing law.” (The judge may try ruling the Law to be unconstitutional, and start the judicial review process, but he may NOT, as Judge Roy Bean did, tear a page out of the law book with the words “That’s a bad law. I repealed it.”) So, a judge may no more rule “You can’t stop enforcing the laws on immigration for non-citizens brought here illegally as children” than he can rule “You can’t stop anyone who drank milk as a child from stealing milk.”

Congress may make such laws. But not the courts. When they do, it costs a lot of money and time and suffering of injustice before they are finally slapped down by SCOTUS.  For the left, it has become the game plan, because one judge can usurp Congress’ authority and keep things going their way for a long time, without the tedious necessity of actually winning elections, then letting Congress do their job.

Tedious, and a losing proposition, because Dems are typically pressing minority opinions against the will of the people by using the court ploy.

Before you applaud the strategy, consider its cost, and danger. King Henry II and Archbishop Thomas Becket were at odds over the appointment of judges, resulting in Becket s murder and Henry nearly losing his throne. A war ensued.

Arbitrary tax laws and judges resulted in King John facing the Barons at Runnymede, and the Magna Carta being signed.

The city of New London, backed by perhaps the worst decision in SCOTUS history, took a house from a lady named Kelo under eminent domain, so they could sell the property to a developer to build a headquarters for Pfizer drug company and bring them tax money. (Congress ought to pass a law overriding the Kelo decision, but that is for another story.)  However, in a case of cosmic justice, the HQ was never built, and Pfizer left the state completely due to Ct tax increases.  Today the site is an empty lot, overrun with weeds.

Historically, arbitrary judges are not without consequence. And you should fear and loathe them.  You can predict the actions of a judge who is bound by law. You can read the law and know they cannot take your home, or car, or fine you, or force you to pay higher taxes, just because they want to. You can know that if Congress raises your taxes and you don’t like it, you can toss the bums out. Not so a judge, who rules that your area MUST charge you more taxes to pay for something he decides they should pay for. (That is making law from the bench.)

You may cheer today when a judge rules against Donald Trump because you don’t like him. But if judges can rule based on their personal likes and dislikes, tomorrow, or next year you may encounter a judge who doesn’t like, well, YOU!

Do you want him to be able to rule on your life, liberty, or pocketbook based on that dislike? Or would you prefer him bound by the laws we all think we live under?

Our judiciary needs to be taken to school on the Constitution which is the source of their authority. It does not matter that they don’t like it or think it antiquated, it is our law. And they should have to abide by it, just as should POTUS, and Congress.

Abraham Lincoln noted that our Civil War was going to determine whether “government of the people, by the people, and for the people, would perish from the earth.”  Four years of war, and half a million deaths was not enough to kill it in sound and fury.

We should not abide arrogant people usurping it and causing it to perish by dry rot, either.

We, the people are a mighty force, when we remember that fact.

We, the people, established the Constitution, and this form of government.

We, the people, fought a great war to preserve this form of government.

We, the people, need to reach the point of looking at the lack of common sense and decency flowing from those directing our institutions and shaping thought and say, Enough!

Read the Constitution. Then decide that you are going to hold any leader, from a judge, to a School Board Member, to a President, to that standard. This is our law folks. It’s done well for over 2 hundred years. Let’s try it again.

 

 

Doug Smith: Presidential powers are absolute; Special Counsel powers subject

16 Apr

 

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Doug Smith:  Free State Patriot historian and social editor

4.15.18

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Re the Pardon of Scooter Libby

I am working on an article for FSP on why we seem to get the very worst people in politics and government service. (We get, occasionally, some of the very best, but the scoundrels are always there, and in quantity.)  But current events compel me to take a brief aside and comment on the very premise: the very worst people in our society and culture may be found in organized crime and government, which are, at times, indistinguishable.

To set the stage, find a copy of the US Constitution. Now, search through it and find the part about appointing a special counsel, or prosecutor, or an independent prosecutor, who can wield the awesome sword of the justice, empowered to the Executive Branch, with no accountability. Of course, all other prosecutors exercise the power of their office as delegated from the ultimate Executive authority, the President, as delegated through the Attorney General, as provided by the Constitution. For purposes of this discussion, let us concern ourselves with the provisions for appointing that “special “counsel, a law unto himself, free of the Executive. Go ahead and look it up, we’ll wait.

Not there, is it? No, there is no provision whereby the power of the Executive can be waived, and a non-elected official imbued with that power sans the accountability which goes with it. For the Constitution does provide accountability for the Executive should he misuse his power. He can face the electorate who vote their displeasure and send him packing, or, if the cause is both serious and urgent enough, Congress is empowered to act and impeach him and remove him from office. Even there, they are accountable, and will face the voters in less than 2 years, so they are subject to the politics of the time. Thus, Congress will never impeach a popular President, because to do so would be political suicide. And in the case of an unpopular President, the viable threat of impeachment may be enough for him to resign and avoid impeachment. Thus, Nixon at 24%, and despised by Democrats, resigned. Bill Clinton at over 50%, was halfheartedly impeached, but not removed, by a Congress who looked to the electorate. And so, the system worked, and so it was designed, and so it should work. An unpopular President was removed from office as the voters reconsidered, and Congress, given sufficient high crimes and misdemeanors, could have removed him. Clinton, as morally bankrupt as he was (and is) presided over a strong economy, and was well liked (as most sociopaths are, the charm of Hannibal Lecter) and thus, Congress had the means, and the right, but not the will, to remove him. The will of the people won out. The system worked.

So why, oh why, would we ever permit ourselves to be saddled with a special prosecutor? He may be likened to a mass shooter, with unlimited choice of weapons, ammo, and apparently no accountability for who he shoots. Overly strong metaphor? Consider:

Special counsel Patrick Fitzgerald, appointed in the so called Valerie Plame affair, managed, in his time as a special counsel, although trying to indict Dick Cheney, Karl Rove, or anybody associated with the Bush Administration for illegally leaking the identity of a CIA covert operative ( she was not, she was a back office administrator, but for sake of argument, lets stipulate that revealing the identity of a CIA employee is not a good thing to do) to indict Scooter Libby on charges of lying to FBI agents for inconstancies in his statements at various times. (As Michael Flynn would tell you, no one should EVER under ANY circumstances, talk to the FBI, a fallen angel if ever there was one, and if compelled to do so, the only 2 appropriate responses are 1 I am exerting my 5th amendment rights and refusing to speak to you, or 2. I am not sure, I cannot remember precisely.)

Now. Let us start from a very important premise. Patrick Fitzgerald knew, from the time he began the investigation, and before he talked to Scooter Libby, that Richard Armitage, of the State Department, was the one who inadvertently leaked Plames CIA identity. So, in any rational world, he would have either shut down the investigation, or indicted Armitage.

Right? I mean, what was the purpose of interviewing Libby to ask if he knew anything about the leaking of this information, when he already knew exactly who it was? The only purpose, as we see in retrospect, was to keep asking him questions until he slipped up and contradicted himself, then charge him with perjury. And the underlying goal of the entire exercise was to damage the Bush Administration. Given that Fitzpatrick knew that Libby was innocent and continued until he could create a crime to charge him with. To restate: Libby had done nothing wrong before he spoke to the FBI under Fitzgerald investigation, and Fitz knew this, but pursued him anyway. Now, one would think someone doing such a thing would be fired, disbarred, jailed, or suffer some consequences.

But no. Fitzgerald has gone on to have a fine career. Libby paid a fine, was disbarred, served jail time, then finally was restored to the bar and able to practice law again. For nothing that had anything to do with the Special Counsel’s investigation. All this for what Fitzgerald, by his actions, considered to be a non-crime, because, note this: Even though he knew that Armitage was the one who leaked, neither he nor anyone else ever charged Armitage. He resigned from the State Department, and that was that. Libby was the victim of an out of control lawyer who had unrestricted powers and made Libby his target.

The Special Prosecutors are never prosecuted or held accountable in any way and their victims rarely see justice.

Rarely, but not never.

President Trump today pardoned Scooter Libby.

Now, if you have read my articles before, you will be aware that I am not a die-hard Trump supporter. I find him a flawed human in many ways and was not pleased with the choices in 2016. I do give him credit when credit is due. I think he could benefit from the old Roman custom of having a servant walk along during a triumph whispering (If I may paraphrase,) “Glory is fleeting, please stop Tweeting. “

Pardoning Libby was a good move for several reasons.  First, what Fitzgerald did to Scooter Libby was an injustice, for which Fitz should have been censured or lost his law license.  He cannot get back the time or money lost, but this is a good step toward balancing the scales of justice.

Second, it is an elegant and subtle shot across the bow to Robert Mueller. And I love it.

It says, so Bob, you want to move from Russia and why Hillary lost to anything and everything, looking for a crime? You want to act as a government within a government?

You Senators who want to pass a bill “protecting Mueller” from being fired, (you do understand that I won’t sign it, so its moot. And that you have NO Constitutional authority as the Legislative Branch to usurp the power of the Executive? Of course, you do, you are just posturing.)

And you Dems who have been trying to impeach me since January 2017, and bleat like sheared sheep Don’t you fire our Bobby!!!

So, all of y all, check this out. The power of POTUS to pardon is absolute, not subject to review, cannot be reversed, and even (as with Bill Clinton) if it is demonstrably the result of a bribe, cannot be reversed. I just nullified what Fitz did to Scooter. I can just as easily negate what the Jim and Bob show have done, or might do, to me, or any of my campaign, or any of my cabinet, or staff. So, do your worst.  Justice is going back to the Justice Department. A lot of career pogues in FBI and Justice are about to follow Sally Yates out the door. I don’t HAVE to fire you. I can do what you have been trying to do to me: cut the legs out from under you. And there is not a thing you can do about it.

Bush may have been content to just smile and take it and not fight back.

Makes for a different boxing match when you get hit back, doesn’t it?

So, choke on this for a few days.

 

Doug Smith: Checks and Balances: Part 2

4 Mar

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Doug Smith:  Free State Patriot history and social editor

3.4.2018

checks and balances

Now these founders of ours were educated men, and as such, very aware of the recent history in England of the Stuarts, Civil War, and disquiet over the rule of Kings. It must surely have occurred to them that had Charles I disarmed his subjects early on, he might have kept his throne, and, not incidentally, his head. But the outlook for the British people would have been very different, and worse.

There are 3 joined concepts that are not talked about nearly enough, to our detriment. They are authority, responsibility, and accountability.  Authority means I have the power to achieve my will. Responsibly means that the results of my actions are my property. And accountability means that I reap what I sow, for good or ill.

Now if I have authority without the other 2, I can do pretty much whatever I want, and there is nothing to stop me from abusing my power to settle grudges or take what I want. Would you care to come before the court of Judge Roy Bean? Or, for that matter, before Henry VIII. Ask Anne Boleyn about authority without accountability. It’s an easy way to lose one’s head. (Sorry, Anne.) Power without checks has led to some pretty awful behaviors.

Responsibility alone is a pretty crappy deal as well. Ask Captain Charles McVay. The CO of the Cruiser USS Indianapolis, he was sent into the South Pacific on a top-secret mission. Denied information on Japanese Submarines in his Op Area, and refused his Destroyer escort, and having his SOS ignored, and not being reported as overdue for 4 days due to the top-secret nature of his mission, he had the misfortune to lose his ship, and hundreds of his crew to shark attacks. The safety of the Indy was his responsibility, but he was shackled. He was the only CO in WW2 to be Court Martialed for losing his ship in combat. He committed suicide in 1968.

As for accountability without the other 2, that was beautifully summed up by Charles Dickens in Oliver Twist: Oliver Twist:

Mr. Brownlow: The law assumes that your wife acts under your direction.
Mr. Bumble: If the law supposes that, then the law is a ass, a idiot! If that’s the eye of the lawthen the law is a bachelor.

Married men will smile, hoping their wives do not notice. But the point is made: if you hold me accountable for that which I cannot control, then you are a ass, a idiot.

Which brings us back to Checks and Balances.  It is the common sense and wisdom earned through conflict and suffering that inspired the founders to build a system of laws and governance in which, to the best degree they could, authority was check, and balanced with responsibility and accountability.

The system works well, when it works. It has had some appalling failures. The President has executive authority to enforce and carry out laws. If he does not do so, or if the people find that the laws, once enforced are not palatable, they can seek redress through the courts, which may rule on their Constitutionality, or through the Congress, which may repeal or enact new laws.

The repeal of Prohibition was a fine example of checks and balances correcting poorly thought out unintended consequences. Carrie Nation hated liquor, but never imagined that the pressure to enact a national prohibition would create Al Capone.

A fine example of the failures is the many laws Congress passes on the rest of us, while exempting themselves. For example, if I know my company is about to do something that will likely push its stock price up, I’m forbidden by law from acting on that knowledge for a certain period. It is called insider trading, and is considered unfair advantage, and Congress has made it illegal.

Except, of course, for Congress. A Congressman or Senator may buy up stock in a company in the morning, then vote to give them a billion-dollar government contract in the afternoon. If you or I did such a thing, we would join Michael Milken or Bernie Madoff in prison. When Harry Reid did it, he became wealthy.

And this brings me back to my premise: we need a return to understanding Civics, and the basis of our society. Everyone, not just the history buffs, need to be outraged and abuses and violations of our Constitutional laws. But we can’t if we have no idea what they are. And that is how many entrenched in the halls of power get away with it. To our detriment.

The design of the founders was that the 3 branches, co-equal, would balance total power in any one, and each would have the power to check the excesses of the other. Congress may pass laws, which the courts may strike down and unconstitutional. Congress, in turn, may redefine the area of the Courts’ concern. The President may pressure Congress for laws he desires and must enforce the laws that are passed. He may veto bills, but Congress may overturn his veto. And ultimately, we, the people, carry the awesome responsibility of the vote. If we continue scoundrels in office because they are the party of our daddy, or our union, or our buddies, we will deserve the rule of scoundrels which plagues us.

Understanding our laws and the basis of our society also pushes us toward certain norms of behavior, simply because “it just is not done”.  When I was in school, I had guns. I had a gun and could shoot it accurately by the time I was 12. I also got angry at people. Occasionally, that erupted into us rolling on the ground bashing each other’s faces. (You should have seen the other guy) It resulted in some responsibility and accountability (guard your mouth, lest at some point you inspire someone to bash it. Ah, lesson learned.) It never occurred to me, or to any of us, that the solution was to run home and get a rifle. It simply was not done. Nor did we dare to hit a girl. Certainly, not if anyone could see. It just was not done. And we knew, would not be tolerated. In our rush to tolerance, we seem to have forgotten that there are things we ought not to tolerate.

Now, like government checks and balances, norms are not perfect, and surely you can imagine exceptions. But like our government, it works better than most, and learning about it, and those norms, is a good first step toward more civil society. Eliminating the checks of the people on our elected leaders, and the checks of disapproval and shame on our fellows is a path toward chaos.

Can we fix all this? I don’t know. Can we try? Surely. Is it worth it?

Doug Smith: Checks and Balances

24 Feb

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Doug Smith:  Free State Patriot history and society editor

2.23.2018

Civics has lost its way.

Once we taught our potential citizens, both immigrants, and high school students, who would, we hoped, one day be productive and functional citizens and part of our society.  Today, however, we are an increasingly less civil society, and that we do not adequately teach what once was called “Civics”.  Both are mistakes.

It is important to understand the rules and framework by which our society functions, so that we can be good and functional citizens of that society. Equally, it is important that we teach civil behavior and discourse. There were both norms of behavior that most of us would never dream of violating, and an understanding of the norms and conventions of how our society, and republic, operates.

This brings me to a part of high school civics that was once taught to every student, or potential citizen, the concept of checks and balances.

Thanks, “Sarge” Tom Gibbs, for teaching me these lessons.

The idea among our Framers was that for every seat of power, there was another to balance their authority, and, through accountability, to hold them in check. It is telling that they saw the need for these protections. They understood, as we must understand, that our government does not govern angels, and hence must have laws and power, but neither is it made of angels, and thus must have checks and balances. It is a difficult and intoxicating thing to wield power over others.

Our founders grew to adulthood under a system based on the rights of kings, delegated, and unchecked in Royal Governors, the nobility, and the gentry of England. Their “rights” were merely privileges, granted to them as subjects of the king. Or revoked, by his whim.

The lawmaker who spends, for the first time, more money than he has ever seen, will get a certain thrill from the experience. In time, he can become jaded, and far too ready to spend other people’s money. Then we have a problem.

The late Senator Everett Dirksen said, “A billion dollars here, a billion dollars there, and next thing you know you are talking about some real money.” I’m not sure how much humor was intended, but you see the problem? A billion dollars IS a lot of money. Unless you never have to pay for as much as a cup of coffee, then money loses its reality to you and becomes simply a way to exercise power.

Now when Congress, or a Governor, spends a billion dollars, they do not plan to write a check. They plan for you and I to write fewer checks: for food, for gas, for homes. We will be the ones to do without, so we are responsible when they exercise authority. Now, when one has authority without responsibility, that is a recipe for disaster. Without accountability.

And that is where the Checks and Balances come in.

 

Doug Smith: Don’t fall for road bond’s empty promises at a steep cost

26 Sep

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Doug Smith:  Free State Patriot history and social editor

 

Sep 24, 2017

 

This is in response to Delegate Eric Nelson’s recent guest column in support of the upcoming road bond issue.

I have a few issues with Delegate Nelson’s points. He notes that West Virginia gave the legislature to the GOP in 2014. What he calls a mandate I would instead call hope. So, alas! I was sorely disappointed to see this fledgling GOP majority scurry to roll over to Governor Justice’s desire to massively increase taxes and fees.

So when he says “(we) gave the citizens the opportunity to vote on a new, ambitious program that will create thousands of new jobs here in our state,” my first thought was to check and see if my wallet was still there. My second thought was that promise of creating thousands of jobs here in our state sounds eerily like Barack Obama’s “shovel ready jobs” which were “not as shovel ready as we had hoped.”

You will forgive me if I don’t particularly trust yet another politician promising “tens of thousands of jobs” if only I’ll reward his generosity in giving me the opportunity to vote to let him spend a bunch of my money.

What about the cost, he asks? Not to worry!

“(We) took steps to raise additional revenue for our State Road Fund. in June, the Legislature passed $130 million in additional annual revenue from gas taxes and other fees for our roads.

“These additional funds are dedicated to repay the $1.6 billion bond issue. The bond will be fully supported by leveraging these annual revenue flows over 25 years. These funds will produce more than $3.2 billion over the life of the bond – more than enough to cover repayment.”

Well! Awfully arrogant of you fellas to do that and then come to the voters. If I wanted a tax-and-spend legislature, I’d become a Democrat.

The delegate asked whether we should pay as we go with the money, or take on a massive debt and do it all now. Pay as you go, just like the rest of us who cannot pick someone’s pocket to pay for our spending.

The more important point is that I don’t believe you when you say that this bond will never raise additional taxes. Sixty years ago, the turnpike was going be paid off in 30 years and the tolls removed, yet part of that package you passed was Senate Bill 1003, which keeps the tolls, yet again, and allows the toll authority to increase them.

Son of a gun!

You know, there is nothing more permanent than a temporary government program.

There is a basic principle in economics that no politician ever seems to understand. If you want more of something, make it less costly. If you want less of something, make it costlier. Raising tax rates is no guarantee of raising revenues.

“Politicians, like diapers, need to be changed regularly. And for the same reason,” quipped Mark Twain.

Consider whether you want to fertilize your gardens with political promises at a cost of $1.6 billion. And, a dollar to a doughnut, there will be more taxes out there somewhere.

 

Doug Smith is Free State Patriot’s history and social editor. He resides in Ceredo, WV.

 

Doug Smith: When is a liberal not a liberal

21 Aug

This is the first part of a series on the history and evolution of liberalism in America.

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Doug Smith: Free State Patriot history and society editor

August 21, 2017

 

 

Well, the flippant answer is 1900.  But a more reasoned answer must ask first, what is liberalism? As happens so often, the word has been hijacked.  Orwell warned of this practice. Up is down. Truth is a lie. War is peace. 2 plus 2 equals 5, Winston Smith.

Words are important. Meaning is important. If we permit people to undermine meaning, they can mask actions and intentions. If I like chocolate all my life, and suddenly we call it butterscotch, we make a lie of my frame of reference.

The father of classical liberalism is widely considered to be John Locke. He believed that people were equal and had the right to defend their life, health, liberty, or possessions. That phrase was condensed into Jefferson’s “Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness in the Declaration of Independence. He believed that individuals had the right to own their property and goods based upon their own labor to produce them.

Classical liberalism, as opposed to what passes for liberalism after Woodrow Wilson, is in favor of private property rights and a free economy, guarantees of freedoms codified into law in the Constitution. From Wilson forward, the term Liberal came to mean something it is not.  The modern “liberal “is more the egalitarian of the French revolution; emphasizing state control of property, markets, and equalization of outcomes by government picking winners and losers.  We have seen that where this is practiced, the only winners are those in government power, and private citizens, who find they have no rights that the government does not choose to give them, see those rights decreasing as the power of the state increases. The losers are the folks waiting in line in Moscow for bread, the millions murdered because they had no wall to protect them from the psychotic whims of Stalin.

This is the dangerous fantasy put forth by Wilson’s ” Living Document” view of the Constitution. Rather than an agreed wall between the individual and the state, the Wilson New liberals see it as a fluid contract, subject to the perceived notions of those currently in power as to the needs of the people.

Imagine if you signed a contract to buy a house for a certain sum. 5 years into the contract, the governor decided that all homes should cost 20% more, and now, regardless of the agreement you had made, you were forced to borrow additional money and send it to the seller. With, of course, a taxed sop to the government. Or suppose you were the seller, and he decided that you had sold your house for too much, and you had to borrow money and refund it to the buyer, years after the fact.

You wouldn’t like it so much.  That wall of iron words took years, and much effort to get the agreement of enough citizens and states to ratify it and enter a contract.  The idea that the contract is living and can change with time would make it useless, and meaningless. It could come to mean anything at any time.  Recognizing how hard it was to ratify, and that future citizens may, indeed wish to alter it, Madison and the framers included specific steps to do so, and made it as difficult to alter as to pass initially. They protected the individual from the whim of a government official, or a vocal minority, or a small but insistent majority. If you wish to change this contract, you must persuade a decisive majority that the change is beneficial.

Our government as a rule of law, not lawyers, or nobles, or kings, affords that protection to all our citizens.  The liberal judge who looks between the lines and finds things we must do as a government undermines those protections for every citizen.

So then, the classical liberal, as the term was used for over 200 years, places its trust and support of the individual’s rights to property, self-determination, and personal liberty and responsibility. The citizen, in the view of a classical liberal, resides in the state, not under the state.

The egalitarian, or “social” liberal, has a very different world view indeed. Next article, we shall lift the veil of the Wilsonian “liberal” and look at the iron hammer lurking there to supplant the iron words of the Constitution he so disdains.

 

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