A Manifesto To Save America

 

“A democracy will continue to exist up until the time that voters discover that they can vote themselves generous gifts from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates who promise the most benefits from the public treasury, with the result that every democracy will finally collapse due to loose fiscal policy”

                                                                       Alexander Tytler   1747 – 1843 (Pop. Attrib.)

When the people find that they can vote themselves money, that will herald the end of the republic. Sell not liberty to purchase power”

                                                Benjamin Franklin  1706 – 1790

People familiar with my writings, both in my blogs and in various Letters To The Editors and Guest Columns published in newspapers, know I’ve long maintained that this country is far down along the path to self-destruction. Back in February 2008, at my Townhall blog, I wrote an essay entitled “Bread and Circuses” (Read it here) in which I drew parallels between our country today and the fall of the Western Roman Empire.

The Roberts Court

Most recently, we have the Supreme Court (SCOTUS) discovering and endowing the government with vast new powers to use taxation to force people to behave in certain ways, and enter into contracts to purchase goods and services. For the first time in our history, a tax can be imposed on people for not doing something. It’s as if King George imposed a tea tax on the colonists for not drinking tea.

To achieve this repugnant decision, as I’ve described previously, Chief Judas Roberts ignored all bounds of reason, logic and constitutionality in order to side with the liberal “ignore the Constitution” faction of the Court. Whatever his motives – and speculation on that runs rampant – neither Roberts nor any other Justice will ever suffer any consequences for their actions or decisions because the Constitution guarantees them lifetime tenure.

Then we have the problem with the inequitable nature of our current tax system which has led to debts and deficits that will inevitably bankrupt this country if not resolved somehow. Almost 50% of the populace pays little to no federal income taxes at all, and the top 5% of earners – those earning anything over a mere $154,643 (statistics) – pay almost 59% of all the income tax money collected. Yet they’re still castigated for “not paying their fair share”.

Meanwhile, that bottom 50% pays almost nothing at all but still has an equal say, through their power to vote, in how tax burdens are allocated and the funds spent. Naturally, as they really have no skin in the game as far as fiscal prudence is concerned, they’re going to be inclined to vote for their own economic self-interest, meaning that they’re all for robbing Peter to pay Paul, since someone else is always going to be the Peter that pays their Paul. Paul really doesn’t care if Peter goes broke.

Further, what’s going to happen when the tax non-payers outnumber the taxpayers? Then we’ll have a situation akin to three foxes and a chicken voting on what’s for dinner. It won’t be pretty, and at that point this country will be completely doomed.

I believe this country’s only hope of salvation lies in a major restructuring of how we do things, and that can only be properly enacted by amending the Constitution. Therefore I’d like to propose the following four constitutional amendments.

“Judicial Accountability Amendment:  After 12 years of serving on the federal bench, each judge including Supreme Court Justices shall be replaced, unless reconfirmed by the US Senate.”

Hopefully, that would force the judiciary to be more responsive to the actual Constitution, but no matter what it would impose accountability on the Mandarins In Black Robes.

“Flat Tax Amendment:  Every person who receives income, from whatever source and without exception, shall have that income taxed at the same rate of X%. The tax rate may be changed by Congress by votes of 2/3 in each House.”

The “X” rate of taxation would be determined during the amendment process, but this would certainly eliminate the inequality of tax rates and burdens. Further, it would eliminate the motivation of those with no tax exposure to burden those who actually do pay taxes with ridiculous obligations that simply can’t be met.

Everyone would then have at least some skin in the game.

Further, the super-majority requirement to change the tax rate would force some fiscal sanity on Congress, and force them to start to cut spending. Raising the tax rate would become a VERY politically risky move… as it should be.

“Voter Eligibility Amendment:  No person who is exempt, for whatever reason, from paying income taxes shall be eligible to vote.”

A companion piece to the prior Amendment, this would assure that anyone who might still escape any tax obligation would also lose their ability to influence the outcome of legislation that forces everyone else to pay up.

“Tax Legitimacy Amendment: Taxes shall be imposed solely to raise revenue for the legitimate function of government as defined in the US Constitution. Any tax or spending bill must cite the appropriate and legitimate constitutional authority for that program or expenditure. No tax shall be imposed whose purpose is to influence the behavior of citizens, either individually or as a group; nor shall taxes be imposed as a penalty.”

The most immediate effect of this Amendment would be to void Obamacare and repeal the recent SCOTUS decision, much like the 14th Amendment killed the Dred Scott decision; and it would prevent the kind of laws – as well as judicial decisions – that grant such unbridled power to the government that the people’s ability to make their own decisions is completely pre-empted.

Unless these amendments – or something very much like them – are enacted, this country as we know it is finished. We may still be in existence physically, but we’ll ultimately devolve into a Euro-trash “social democracy” like Greece. Unfortunately, I don’t believe the political will exists in this country to take those necessary steps.

I hope I’m proven wrong, but I am not sanguine…

© Brian Baker 2012

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158 comments on “A Manifesto To Save America

  1. jevica says:

    Brian;

    Great post [as usual]. Did I tell you that this was great?

    One point, “. . . as defined in the US Constitution.” Should mention Article I Section 8 only.

    Only 2/3 to change [raise] the tax rate?

    Why only a ““Judicial Accountability Amendment” why not Senators and Reps. have to be out for one term of their office [after some term in office] before they can run for reelection.

    • BrianR says:

      Thanks, Jev.

      “… Should mention Article I Section 8 only.” I don’t agree. There are many clauses in the Constitution: General Welfare, Commerce Clause, Defense, etc. The point is to get SOME dialogue going which will restrict government action to LEGITIMATE constitutional powers and authorities.

      As to 2/3 to change the tax rate: yes, the Founders obviously found that to be sufficient for major actions: 2/3 to ratify a treaty, further an amendment, convict an impeached President, etc. Apparently 2/3 is the magic ratio.

      As to congresscritters, they’re already accountable through having to stand for re-election. Only the Judiciary has zero accountability, and I want that changed. The Greeceifornia experience has proven that term limits for Reps and Senators is virtually meaningless. They just play musical chairs.

      These four amendments are radical enough to effect MAJOR change.

  2. jevica says:

    Brian;

    Are these people crazy?

    “California Senate votes to keep high-speed rail”

    http://hotair.com/archives/2012/07/07/california-senate-votes-to-keep-high-speed-rail/

    “California senate passes “anti-Arizona” immigration bill”

    http://hotair.com/archives/2012/07/06/california-senate-passes-anti-arizona-immigration-bill/

    “California, I might add, is struggling beneath an estimated $16 billion deficit for 2012. How can we guess that this ill-thought-out alternative immigration bill is going to effect their already terrible fiscal situation — or do you suppose they thought about that at all?”

    I know [but never believed] that if [hope not] BHO is reelected anything that goes wrong will be the fault of Bush [43].

    So, “Stop with the “I inherited a bad economy” excuse, says …”

    http://hotair.com/archives/2012/07/07/stop-with-the-i-inherited-a-bad-economy-excuse-says/

    BHO everything is ok, “For Obama, a jobs report that keeps stinging”

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/for-obama-a-jobs-report-that-keeps-stinging/2012/07/06/gJQAS7e8RW_story.html

    BHO and his “accountability problem”

    http://www.weeklystandard.com/articles/promises-promises_648225.html?nopager=1

  3. jevica says:

    That’s “question”

  4. captbogus@yahoo.com says:

    I’ve been agitating for a Constitutional Convention for some time.
    As to your Voter Eligibility Amendment. Texas had something like that up into the ’50’s.
    It was called a Poll Tax and best I can remember it was one dollar and was collected when a citizen registered to vote.
    Your great ACLU took it to the SCOTUS which found it unconstitutional as it penalized the poor and the “negro” vote.
    Don’t remember the citing but I’m sure you could Shepherd it.

    Oh, yeah. I’m forwarding thissun to a few folks.

    • BrianR says:

      Well, thanks for doing that, Buck.

      Yep, poll taxes used to be legal, and pretty common, too. Used to be, back when the Constitution was written, that you had to be a taxpayer of some kind — landowner, businessman, shopkeeper, farmer, something — in order to be eligible to vote. In no way did the Founders envision universal suffrage, because they were just as mindful of the problems as we are.

      I’m proposing amendments, rather than a full-blown convention, because we need to solve some specific problems rather than rewrite the whole shebang. A full-blown convention COULD leave us with something we hate even more!

  5. gunnyginalaska says:

    Brian,

    My Dad lived in California most of his life and HATED Moonbeam! haha.

    GREAT ESSAY!

    Love the idea that if you, as Gaffes Biden said, “don’t have skin in the game, you don’t vote. I do believe the Founders felt the same way.

    • BrianR says:

      Thanks, Gunny.

      I agree re: the Founders. Obviously, they didn’t believe in universal suffrage. No women voting is the obvious example.

  6. Denise Welsh says:

    Just read your manifesto and couldn’t agree more. I only wish we could get some of your proposed amendments passed, they would go a long way to getting this country back on track.

  7. thedrpete says:

    Gotta ding you a tad on this one, BrianR, though trying to improve on what our Founders did is a very-tall order. I’ve written on this subject on a few occasions, so that may also be clouding my thinking vis-a-vis YOUR manifesto.

    The “general welfare” and “defense” clauses in Article 1 Section 8 are purposes toward which enumerated powers are employed, not powers themselves. There are 18 enumerated powers. If the “federal” government stuck within those 18, the country would be humming.

    • BrianR says:

      Well, DrP, these are amendments; by definition they change the Constitution in fundamental ways, including governmental power and authority.

      Also, the taxing power is one of the enumerated powers, and look how it’s being abused. That’s what I’d like to see rectified.

  8. clyde says:

    Excellent essay. I agree with the four,but I also would like to see this one change,and that is the terms run the same for House and Senate,limited to 3- 4 year terms,and then OUT. You can’t get your “ideas” through in that amount of time,they must not be that good to begin with.

    • BrianR says:

      Thanks, Clyde.

      As I mentioned, I’m ambivalent about those term limits, primarily because of our experience with it here in Commiefornia: it does nothing to effect any real change, and the baby gets thrown out with the bath water.

      The districts represented by Reps and Senators are too small, and it’s had pretty much zero effect on changing anything. When a Rep or Senator gets termed out, the district they represent will STILL be either conservative or leftist, and that person simply names their “successor”, who easily cruises to office. Do you, for one second, think if Pelosi’s termed out, she’d be replaced by a CONSERVATIVE, for example?

      • clyde says:

        Of course she would not. So is the answer to redistrict? Maybe have fewer reps? Hell, it seems to matter not how large or small the district is,the representation will never truly reflect the majority anyway. Maybe have a repub and democrat from each district,with fewer districts? I’m not sure that we can get enough reps who understand what the Constitution is all about to effect the needed changes.

      • BrianR says:

        Well, the number of Reps is set by law based on population as determined by the census, as is redistricting, per the Constitution.

        Again, drills we just went through here, with no discernible affect. How can you have a Dem and GOPer from the same district? Aside from being highly illegal, what would be the point of elections, and what would that achieve? You’d have evenly-divided chambers of Congress then; 50-50. On top of that, what about all the other political parties? Independants, Libertarians, Greens, Constitution Party, etc.?

        That’s the whole point of my proposed amendment: new laws would have to be based on, and cite, their constitutional basis. The people themselves would then be able to decide for themselves, and then vote accordingly.

        It’s not my goal to eliminate the electoral mechanism. All that would do is create an oligarchy. I want to eliminate the subterfuge and other BS in the legislative process, and make legislators more accountable to their constituents, all while making the electorate more aware of the constitutional issues and ramifications of the legislative process.

        Bear in mind, all four of those amendments are designed to work together; none of them will be effective as single and sole changes. It’s the synchronous effect that’ll make meaningful change.

  9. jevica says:

    Brian;

    For clyde

    Term limits don’t always work. Here in NYC we voted for two terms for Mayor then out. But Mike [I got a really lot of money] got that thrown out, so he can nanny us with he knows beat.

    Anything like that would have to be amended right in the Constitution.

    BTW thedrpete the Constitution has been amended 27 times [number 21 did repeal 18] some people along the way THOUGHT they could improve on the founders did. I would like to see 17 [direct election of United States Senators by popular vote] repealed and send it back the way in was.

  10. I’ve got another amendment that is needed. The Armed Forces of the United States Amendment would allow for a full-time professional military under a Department of Defense. This military would be comprised of the Navy, Army, Marine Corps, Air Force, Coast Guard (during periods of conflict), and any other military force that a 2/3 vote of the Senate deems appropriate to the needs of our nation. That last clause would allow for a future space force or whatever. This amendment is needed since the only full-time force allowed by the current Constitution is the Navy, with the Marines being a part of the Navy. The Army is supposed to be limited to 4 years of service and there is no provision for any Air Force.

    • BrianR says:

      Hey, Craw.

      Well, there are probably many changes needed, and that IS a goody.

      I was limiting myself to only the two issues I saw as absolutely crucial to avert disaster. Judicial activism is the one major design flaw that makes mischief the most possible, what makes it “the most dangerous branch” according to “Brutus” in the “Anti-Federalist”. Though the anti-federailists lost the debate (obviously), history seems to be proving them right, at least on this issue.

      Of course, the other imperative issue being the abuse of the taxing power.

      If those two issues aren’t addressed — and soon — the country’s doomed, plain and simple.

  11. jevica says:

    That’s; he knows best.

  12. jevica says:

    UN out of US;

    “. . . Syria Set to Win Seat on UN Human Rights Council”

    “Further proof that the UN Human Rights Council is an utterly farcical waste of our money: a nation guilty of some the most egregious human rights violations is slated to win a seat in 2014. That’s right.”

    “Does anyone still take the UN seriously?”

    http://townhall.com/tipsheet/katehicks/2012/07/08/that_makes_sense_syria_set_to_win_seat_on_un_human_rights_council

  13. jevica says:

    Brian;

    If all four have to work together would that note be with the ratification attempts? So it would be all or nothing?

    • BrianR says:

      No, I don’t think so. ANY would be better than none, but they’d be most effective working in concert.

      IMO, it’s a virtually impossible goal to achieve, though. As I said, I’m not sanguine.

  14. jevica says:

    Brian this is for the married guys,

    A man goes into a bar and drinks beer. After every glass of beer he pulls a picture out of his pocket and looks at it. After the 4th beer the waiter asks him why after every glass of beer he pulls the picture out and looks at it

    Then the man says: It’s a picture of my wife.
    When she looks good to me I’m going home.

  15. Hardnox says:

    Brian,
    Good post and good brain food. You make some very valid arguments as do the others. I for one would love to see sovereignty return to the States since much of this mischief would not occur if the fed was neutered.

    I recommend that you submit your plan to President Romney on 20 January 2013 for consideration. 🙂

    • BrianR says:

      Thanks, Hardnox.

      I actually sent a copy yesterday to Limbaugh via email, as well as to John & Ken, a couple of local DJs here in SoCal.

      Maybe Mitt’ll be next on the list…

  16. captbogus@yahoo.com says:

    Brian: “Judicial activism is the one major design flaw that makes mischief the most possible,..”

    They’re like water. They’ll find their own level. If you fix judicial activism they will find another weakness. The enemies of notjust America but the capitalist system have been working on the USA the longest and the hardest because they consider America the bulwark of capitalism. They continue to probe and prod trying to find the next weakness to explooit. And it seems like we’re always shooting at where the rabbit’s at, not where it will be.
    We need to do some serious overhauling which I don’t believe the GOP has the stomach to do.

    • BrianR says:

      Buck, that’s always the danger, of course. And that’s exactly why I fear this country may have already shot its wad. The kinds of actions that will be necessary to save it may just be too severe to find any kind of political traction, in which case we’re just “dead country walking”.

      • clyde says:

        It seems as if the fix already exists. Too bad NONE of the democrats will use it,and neither will far too many repubs. It would simply be to follow the Constitution. OK,OK, so I’m a radical!! Got the new three R’s down. Radical, Revolutionary,and the BEST for last, wait for it…..RACIST!! hahahahahahahahaha

      • BrianR says:

        Yeah, but here’s the thing, Clyde. Even in the days of the Founders, THEY would argue over what was “constitutional”. Even them. Hell, that’s what the feud between Burr and Hamilton was all bout.

        But even following the Constitution, if that were ever really done, wouldn’t solve the problems for which I’m proposing amendments. It’s the Constitution itself that defines “judicial independance”, and why it needs to be amended. It’s constitutional amendments that grant universal suffrage, and that’s why we need to amend that away. It’s the 16th Amendment that authorizes income taxation, and why an amendment is needed to narrow that scope.

  17. jevica says:

    Brian;

    Yes let’s extend unemployment benefits.

    “Overpaid unemployment benefits top $14 billion”

    http://money.cnn.com/2012/07/09/news/economy/overpaid-unemployment-benefits/

    “Overpayments are a rampant problem in the unemployment insurance system. The federal government and states overpaid an estimated $14 billion in benefits in fiscal 2011, or roughly 11% of all the jobless benefits paid out, according to reports from the U.S. Labor Department.”

    There is bound to be some waste but what the he11.

  18. captbogus@yahoo.com says:

    Brian: Yeah, the necessary steps may be long discussed and debated but implementation will never happen.
    To a politician the necessary steps are akin to which mouse is going to bell the cat.

  19. captbogus@yahoo.com says:

    I knew Burr and Hamilton dueled over politics but I never knew just what was the catalyst.
    Speaking of the SCOTUS
    Didn’t Jefferson and Adams have differing opinions as to the very establishment of a SUPREME Court??

    • BrianR says:

      Not its establishment (at least, as far as I know), but its nature, all of which led to the Marbury v. Madison decision.

  20. slowcowboy says:

    An amendment is a way to solve it, and it may be possible. A majority of states filed suit against the ACA, and so it is conceivable (if not likely) to pass.

    But there is something fundamentally wrong with the system as brought forth by Roberts. We’ve covered this well, but radical change is needed. I may write Sens Enzi and Barasso, and Rep Lummis to consider something akin to what you have suggested.

    Its interesting to note that the original founders considered a permanent committee to review the constitutionality of a law before it ever was enacted. One wonders how that would have played in our history, but there has been concern over the power the justices have, and what they should have, from the beginning.

    And as much as it allows for folks like Roberts, I am not sure putting such limits on the justices is a good thing. We can’t let them run rampant, but they are subject to impeachment proceedings just like the rest of ’em.

    • BrianR says:

      Yes, but here’s the problem: you can’t impeach a judge because of his opinions. And that leaves them, again, completely unaccountable.

      The ONLY government officials with no accountability to anyone.

      • slowcowboy says:

        Its tough because with accountability comes politics. If they are up for re-appointment every 12 years (or any number) how does that affect their judgment? Are they all going to be like Roberts was here?

        Its a tough question, and there are no easy answers. To be honest, as imperfect as our judicial system is, its all told not that bad. The problems will not be fixed by exposing the judges to more politics.

      • BrianR says:

        Well, I have to disagree. I think the lack of judicial accountability has been very problematic, and has led to all kinds of terrible decisions and opinions. Roe, Kelo, Dred Scott, and several others. The current system would work fine, IF justices and judges actually used a strict interpretation of both the letter and intent of the Constitution. Let’s be honest here; there are WAY too many times when they don’t… and they can’t be held accountable for that under our current system

        Congress and the President are accountable to the electorate. Their actions can be nullified by SCOTUS. But who polices SCOTUS? How can a bad decision by SCOTUS be nullified?

        It can’t, other than by amending the Constitution (as in Dred Scott), or by SCOTUS reversing itself, which is virtually impossible.

        So, again, who polices the police?

        There’s a reason I called them Mandarins In Black Robes. They have complete — and I mean COMPLETE — power with no way to check it. This Obamacare decision caps it. A grant of absolute power to the government to dictate the actions of the citizenry through the power to abuse the authority to tax, and now it’s all legal, with no other way to reverse it.

      • slowcowboy says:

        How can a bad decision be held to account? By drafting around it. Remember, as I have told you, it will take great restraint from our representatives, but it is possible. It is possible to pass a law or an amendment limiting the tax– collection, purpose, and general policy of them.

        As to Robert’s decision, I think on a very basic level he was right– Congress can and has used a tax to alter behavior. He was wrong in how far he allowed it. His concern about the Commerce Clause has merely been transferred to taxation now. However, Congress has long held the power to tax.

        I fear that he took that too far, but I think calling for terms on our justices is reactionary. The Court does not have anyone to police them, accept that they don’t have any power to enforce, either. Besides giving Congress a green light on taxes,giving credence to the idea that the Commerce Clause does have limits, and limiting Congress’s ability to coerce states, this ruling will have little impact on the law. Left open is what will amount to a tax gone too far. I would not be surprised to see a tax from the ACA be challenged on that very point. (Getting the answer to the tax question will be long and very messy, to be sure.)

        And the costs of putting some sort of limitation on the Supreme Court will always cut both ways. Conservative justices will be on the clock, too. Do you really think Thomas would still be on the Court now? Not likely. We know how politicized the rare event of nominating a justice will be, and compound that with some term? I am not sure I want that out there.

      • BrianR says:

        “It is possible to pass a law or an amendment limiting the tax– collection, purpose, and general policy of them.”

        Which is exactly what I proposed as part of my essay; the “Tax Legitimacy Amendment”. A simple “law” won’t work, because it would itself be unconstitutional. Further, a simple “law” CAN’T reverse the impact of the Obamacare tax decision, because it engraved in stone the new power to use the tax to force people to act in certain ways. Even if Obamacare’s repealed, that power remains, and it’s absolutely repugnant.

        “I think calling for terms on our justices is reactionary.” Sure it is. So was the Declaration of Independance and the Constitution. The whole Revolution was “reactionary”. That’s not necessarily a bad thing.

        Here’s WHY we disagree on this amendment: you’re looking at it as a stand-alone piece, and I didn’t propose it as such; I proposed a package deal of all four amendments, because they all work together to transform the way this country operates in a fundamental manner. No single amendment I’ve proposed will be effective by itself.

        As a package deal, the four amendments will, IMO, significantly transform how this country acts electorally. EVERYONE will have an interest in fiscal prudence; the “users” will be eliminated from having a say through the ballot; socialism will be rendered moot; and we can start moving the country back to being the kind of system it used to be. PARTICULARLY if that happens, we need to make sure the unaccountable judiciary isn’t in a position to impose their own “vision” through imperial fiat. They MUST be held accountable for their actions.

        Frankly, the only reason I propose such a package of amendments is because I fear the outcome of a constitutional convention, because with such a convention there are no limits, and it could lead to a revamped Constitution that would be even more disfunctional than the one we have. But we need to fundamentally change how we do things, which is why I’ve proposed my 4-amendment package.

      • slowcowboy says:

        I agree with 3/4 of the amendments, but cannot agree with the judicial terms. As I share your fear of a new Constitution, I think fiddling with the system too much can lead to unwanted results. I think judges need to be largely left alone, though I am not opposed to some system to keep them in check. It is messy enough for them to determine what is constitutional, and leaving that to the politicians to decide if they have done that well enough is a recipe for disaster.

        Reactionary can be a good thing, but the Constitution was not the first attempt to govern this nation. We tried something before we wrote the Constitution that simply did not work. It also took time and many months of heated discussion and consideration to convince enough people to adopt it, once effort was begun to change our system. Reactionary ideds often need to be tempered.

        Do I think our judicial system is perfect? Far from it. I think the Supreme Court has many flaws, but the reason for the 3rd branch is to separate it from the politics of the other two. It is insulated for a reason, and bringing it ever more within the bounds of those politics will only make it worse.

        Government is inherently an institution of men, subject to the greed and temptation that all people share. It is a necessary evil. We should strive to focus on selecting people who can best avoid the temptations to manipulate the system to their benefit, which includes winning battles that benefit its jurisdiction. It is when the system is manipulated that is the problem, and we should always be aware of how the system can be and is manipulated. We should strive to close those doors when it is appropriate, but what is appropriate is always an open question.

        One of the geniuses of the Constitution is that is was specific enough to have “meat”, but broad enough to allow the government to function. Its treatment of the judicial system was sparse, and has been a source of conflict since the beginning. It was not exactly clear what the Court’s purpose was to be, and how far it was to extend. Except for the Supreme Court, all other courts are creations of Congress. Even the amount of Supreme Court judges is subject to Congress. Court stacking has been a tool used to inject politics into the judicial process, ie manipulating the system.

        Under your proposal, when a justice comes up for re-appointment, do you not think politics will be on overdrive? Are not the justices then subject to the will of the politicians, who are concerned about public perception? If a justice is supposed to uphold the law, are they more concerned with that or are they concerned with appeasing the politicians and the people? And what qualifications do politicians and the people have to judge the decisions of the justices? Who is to give them more authority over matters of the Constitution than the judges themselves?

        I am not sure the result is something we want to experience. I see no real positives out of that process. What might I consider? A select group of judicial and constitutional scholars grading the justices, perhaps. If the justices’ scores drop below a certain point after 12 years (or whatever time), then they can be brought before Congress to justify their positions and face separation from the Court.

        I just don’t see how automatic review is helpful when it subjects the justices to the very thing they are supposed to be separate from. To me, the very nature of the proposal is in stark contrast to the intent of the Founders.

      • BrianR says:

        “… though I am not opposed to some system to keep them (judges) in check.”

        What do you propose?

        “What might I consider? A select group of judicial and constitutional scholars grading the justices, perhaps. If the justices’ scores drop below a certain point after 12 years (or whatever time), then they can be brought before Congress to justify their positions and face separation from the Court.”

        I don’t see how that’s essentially any different from what I propose, when you cut it to its essentials.

        How are the “scholars” going to be selected? Isn’t that going to entail a “political process”? Erwin Chemerinsky versus Andrew Napolitano? You don’t think choosing between them would be a “political process”?

        It seems to me that all your system’s doing is adding an unnecessary layer of complexity to the process. There is absolutely no way to “keep politics out of the process”… nor SHOULD there be. The political process is part and parcel of accountability in any system devised my man. There can be no such thing as some pristine, God-devised impartial system. It’s completely impossible.

        We traded in “taxation without representation” for “judicial fiat without representation”, and it hasn’t turned out to be a very good deal nowadays. Particularly in light of the Obamacare decision, which has blurred the lines to almost nothing.

      • slowcowboy says:

        Well, abortion is no longer free and unrestricted. Still legal, yes, but Roe has largely been whittled away. It can be legislated away, certainly. Kelo will not be upheld, even if the government tries. Dred Scott? Its hard to say the Civil War was fought over this decision, but it is indeed no longer the law of the land. Many a court decision has been reversed. A simple google search will list them.

        The world is not completely lost because of these decisions. Sebelius sets dangerous precedence, which you and I have discussed at length. I still agree with that conclusion. The hand has been dealt though, and I disagree that the solution is to put judges up for a 12 year review cycle.

        The better way, no the best way, is to ensure the right people are in the right positions. That requires us to get good, solid, and reliable conservatives into office/positions of power. We should not tolerate those who waffle or turn their backs on us. Robert’s decision is dreadful, but any retaliation to him affects all judges, not just John Roberts. The stakes are simply too high.

        If we can get conservatives into Congress, both houses, and to the presidency, we can indeed pass legislation to limit the power of the tax, cut back abortion further, and define when government can take land, and more. And it can be done in a way that does jeopardize the independance of the courts.

        It is my strong belief that freedom means putting up with the imperfect and that which gives us more freedom. When we start trying to whittle away at those things we may not like as much we actually limit our own freedom, because all too often these things end up applied in ways we do not intend.

      • BrianR says:

        “Kelo will not be upheld, even if the government tries.”

        Huh? It HAS been upheld, by the authority charged with making those determinations… SCOTUS. Who’s going to change that, and take away that decision, which changed the definition of “eminent domain”?

        “Dred Scott? Its hard to say the Civil War was fought over this decision, but it is indeed no longer the law of the land.”

        I didn’t say the Civil War was fought over it; it wasn’t. I said it took the 14th Amendment to reverse it, which it did.

        “Many a court decision has been reversed.”

        Then name some significant SCOTUS decisions that fall into that category. I can’t think of a one. You’re the one making the assertion. I’ll be happy to ackowledge if I’m wrong.

        “The hand has been dealt though, and I disagree that the solution is to put judges up for a 12 year review cycle.”

        Which is fine; everyone’s free to disagree with me. I knew my proposal wouldn’t be universally cheered.

        “… the best way, is to ensure the right people are in the right positions. That requires us to get good, solid, and reliable conservatives into office/positions of power.”

        Whicvh was what we supposedly had with Judas Roberts. Whoopsie!

        “… any retaliation to him affects all judges, not just John Roberts.”

        Good! I’m looking to change the way this country’s run, not looking for revenge. He’s done his damage. We need to do all we can to make sure it can’t happen again.

        “If we can get conservatives into Congress, both houses, and to the presidency, we can indeed pass legislation to limit the power of the tax, cut back abortion further, and define when government can take land, and more..”

        Nope. We can’t legislate away SCOTUS decisions as to constitutionality. THAT is exactly the problem. If we could, I wouldn’t have made my proposal. I’d have just rooted for a GOP sweep this year and a repeal of Obamacare, bingedy-boom, problem solved. But the problem WON’T be solved, because Roberts’s idea that punitive tax penalties are constitutional will carry forward regardless of what happens to Obamacare itself. Repealed or not, the idea that punitive tax penalties are constitutional is now the law of the land, and we’re going to see it used again and again in the future. The guy opened Pandora’s Box. THAT’S the problem.

        The courts are going to be just as “independant” as they are now. They’re not going to be elective offices; but they ARE going to be offices that now have some accountability.

        Again, Acton: “Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely”. Federal judges have absolute power, unlike ANYONE ELSE in government anywhere. It has to stop!

    • slowcowboy says:

      Which, Brian, is why I’d prefer not to mess with the system as it currently sits. I offered a proposal in the vein that you proposed, sure, but I do expect the standards higher than an automatic review. And yes, the whole thing is indeed political, which is why I oppose it.

      Even in my proposal there is a huge amount of politics, though the levels are created to close loopholes. They are closed by having those qualified to know what is actually in the Constitution be the ones to review the justices.

      But your mention of Edwin is telling, too, because he is certainly no conservative. Such a panel would have to be balanced, as well, which only injects more politics into the matter.

      In the end, I am open to some mechanism to keep the justices in check, but I must admit I have terribly high standards. The justices are to remain out of politics. Creating anything that brings politics into the equation I vew with great suspicion. What would meet my standards? I am not sure, to be honest. If there are ideas out there, I am happy to listen, but I cannot accept automatic re-appointment hearings as a good solution.

      • BrianR says:

        “They are closed by having those qualified to know what is actually in the Constitution be the ones to review the justices.”

        “Qualified” according to whom? Every SCOTUS Justice is “qualified”. Chemerinsky’s “qualified”, as is Napolitano. Yet look at how their opinions are all over the map.

        “Such a panel would have to be balanced, as well, which only injects more politics into the matter.”

        Of course! Politics are unavoidable in the affairs of men. That’s simply a fact, and the nature of being human.

        “The justices are to remain out of politics.”

        Completely impossible, as Roberts’s actions CLEARLY illustrate. You’re thinking idealistically and, IMO, naively (no insult intended) if you really believe politics can be divorced in any way from any function of governance. Hell, the Founders did, too, when they devised the system; they counted on the inherent “honor” and righteousness of the members of the government, and we can see how often that faith was misplaced.

        Acton had a more realistic view, when he said, “Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely”. And in matters of jurisprudence, the SCOTUS Justices have absolute power. That has to be changed. They are completely insulated from any responsibility for their actions. NO person should ever be insulated from the responsibility for their actions, in any arena of human endeavor. No one.

      • slowcowboy says:

        Brian, I am still left with the weighing of what is added by your proposal. In my estimation, it does not make sense. I really think tinkering too much with some of the fundamental structures of our government is dangerous. For instance, I am not sure changing the way we elect senators helped much, and making them subject to the popular vote has made that body ever more political.

        As to the unlimited power, I don’t see that they have unlimited power. A decision is only as good as much as it is followed, and can overturned in the very next case.

        That said I still recognize the problems associated with this decision. But what would we be saying if Roberts had ruled against the mandate in all areas and the left was crying wolf?

        Rushing to judgment on this is not helpful.

      • BrianR says:

        “For instance, I am not sure changing the way we elect senators helped much, and making them subject to the popular vote has made that body ever more political.”

        Agreed, and additionally the states are no longer represented. But under my proposal the judges aren’t subject to a popular vote. They’re subject to a performance review. Big difference.

        “But what would we be saying if Roberts had ruled against the mandate in all areas and the left was crying wolf?”

        I would say that SCOTUS had followed the Constitution, and the Left is ALWAYS crying when the Constitution is followed, because by definitioon Leftism is anti-Constitution. And I’d be right.

        “Rushing to judgment on this is not helpful.”

        I didn’t “rush to judgement”. I’ve thought about this for a long time. Further, the amendment process itself prevents any “rush to judgement”. It’s a long, drawn-out, arduous process.

        As to “tinkering with the fundamental structures”: when something’s broken, it’s usually a good idea to fix it, and usually as soon as possible, because if left unfixed, problems always seem to just get worse.

        I’ve never seen anything that was broken just up and fix itself.

        Further, as to SCOTUS reversing itself: when has that happened? Why hasn’t Roe been reversed? How was Dred Scott reversed? That took the 14th Amendment. How about Kelo? Think that will be reversed any time soon?

      • slowcowboy says:

        In WY, the judges are appointed and then brought to a vote a few years after being in office, then if allowed in, they keep their life terms.

        But you say this, too: “But what do you do about the judge who rules on the basis of public perception, or his own personal politics, or what he in his self-professed superior wisdom deems is what SHOULD be done rather than what the law says, or because he wants to be invited to all the parties of the Georgetown elites, or whatever his whim of the moment is?”

        Then this judge should be subject to impeachment or some other removal process. I am reminded of Stewart’s admonition on porn: he knows it when he sees it. However, when it is not so clear, are we to punish judges who “fail to be responsive to the Constitution”? What the heck does that even mean, anyway? The very notion of the question is wrought with vagaries, and subjecting justices to that kind of public scrutiny will not help. The reviews will be made public, and pardon me by saying that anything suggesting they won’t be made public is entirely naive.

        I agree we need to fix problems when they arise, but sometimes the solution is to not change the structure. Sometimes, we need to look at who is contributing to the problem and ensure we have appropriate people to make sure the problem does not happen again.

        Which leads me to the biggest idea here, and most simple, people are people, and we can never change that. Anything, as we have both agreed to, involving people and politics is going to be subject to abuse. How do we ever fix that?

      • BrianR says:

        Again, judges can’t be impeached for their opinions. Rendering opinions is the very definition of their job. They can only be impeached for “bribery, treason, and other high crimes and misdemeanors”. It says so right in the Constitution. You can’t have it both ways.

        “… are we to punish judges who ‘fail to be responsive to the Constitution’? What the heck does that even mean, anyway?”

        The same thing it means during the initial confirmation process. That’s exactly what the Senate confirmation process is all about. They’re no more being “punished” during re-confirmation than they are if they fail to get confirmed to the bench in the first place.

        “The reviews will be made public, and pardon me by saying that anything suggesting they won’t be made public is entirely naive.”

        Of COURSE they’ll be made public! That’s the whole POINT! I’d be outraged if they were carried out in camera.

        “Sometimes, we need to look at who is contributing to the problem and ensure we have appropriate people to make sure the problem does not happen again.”

        And I’m still waiting for your proposal for an alternative solution. So far, I haven’t heard one.

        “Anything, as we have both agreed to, involving people and politics is going to be subject to abuse. How do we ever fix that?”

        We do what we can, which takes me right back to the question I just asked. I’ve proposed an approach. You don’t like it. Fine. Your alternative?

    • slowcowboy says:

      You added a couple lines in your last response that I think are important. Yes, accountability is subject to political process– always has been and always will be. However, the accountability offered to the leaders of this nation is not working out too well, either. Nancy P keeps getting elected, and is virtually assured a lifetime term. So it is with many a congressman out there.

      Our system is on life support, but I do not see how subjecting justices to that very process helps anything. Even a simple 12 year term with no option to renew helps little. I’d even view that as giving the justices license to rule in even more rash ways.

      But you hit the nail on the head when you said this: “There can be no such thing as some pristine, God-devised impartial system. It’s completely impossible.” You are absolutely right, so we must be very careful when confronting any system. We must maximize the benefits of any system while limiting the pitfalls.

      I simply see putting our judges front and center in the political process as creating more pitfalls than it solves.

      • BrianR says:

        “Even a simple 12 year term with no option to renew helps little.”

        Actually, that’s not what I proposed. I proposed that they’re automatically retired UNLESS reconfirmed by the Senate. They’d face the Senate again, and could keep their jobs. Essentially, it’s a “performance review” just like every private company does annually with every employee. Why should judges be exempt from having their performance reviewed by a competent authority?

        “I simply see putting our judges front and center in the political process as creating more pitfalls than it solves.”

        They’re already there; that’s how they get appointed. But then, AFTER they’re on the bench, they never have to justify their performance ever again, to anyone. A recipe for disaster; on the bench, or in the private sector.

        You’re a lawyer now. Would YOU hire someone for your firm who never, ever had to account to you again for any actions they took in their job, good, bad or ugly?

        Would you?

      • slowcowboy says:

        I know what you said. Your quote of mine suggests that even if there was no reivew of performance, the 12 year term does not help.

        The difference here is that any performence review is inherently and deeply political- and public, whereas a corporate performance review is largely private.

        I am a lawyer, not a judge. The better question is whether I would like to try a case in front of a judge who rules based on public perception rather than the law. I would rather it be the judge who rules based on the law.

        And since you asked that question, it occurred to me that by and large, the justices get most everything right.

      • BrianR says:

        “The difference here is that any performence review is inherently and deeply political- and public…”

        As is any and every aspect of governance. You CAN’T separate politics from government. It’s impossible. It flies in the face of the very nature of mankind. Any and every law that defies human nature is either going to fail, or is going to be despotic. That’s just a fact of life, just like water is wet.

        “The better question is whether I would like to try a case in front of a judge who rules based on public perception rather than the law. I would rather it be the judge who rules based on the law.”

        Of course. But what do you do about the judge who rules on the basis of public perception, or his own personal politics, or what he in his self-professed superior wisdom deems is what SHOULD be done rather than what the law says, or because he wants to be invited to all the parties of the Georgetown elites, or whatever his whim of the moment is?

        What do you do about HIM?

      • BrianR says:

        Had another thought. Consider this: Here in Commiefornia, our Superior Court (county) judges are elected. Our state judges are appointed by the Governor, and subject to reconfirmation periodically by the popular vote. Surprisingly enough, our judicial system works pretty well. They pretty much follow the connstitutions (state and federal). When the state’s Chief Justice Rose Bird — appointed by Moonbeam during his first go-around as Governor — was up for confirmation, she was voted out of office because she was WAY too liberal.

        It’s only the FEDERAL COURTS out here that are out of touch. For example, Prop 8 was upheld at the STATE level. It’s the Feds that are screwing it up.

      • BrianR says:

        PS.

        “And since you asked that question, it occurred to me that by and large, the justices get most everything right.”

        Maybe. But when they do screw up, it’s a whopper. A real game-changer. The nature of the expanded governmental powers in Kelo and Obamacare ALONE are disasters.

      • thedrpete says:

        I would like to question, BrianR, your assigning the U.S. Senate the moniker “competent authority”.

      • BrianR says:

        😀

        Obviously, a brain-fart on my part!

        Gaaawddd…. that was hilarious!

        Yeah, what the heck was I thinking? I guess I SHOULD have said “constitutionally-named authority”. There’s sure nothing “competent” about today’s Senate.

    • slowcowboy says:

      Fortunately, Kelo has had little affect, I think. I also think it will get overturned simply because it was a bad decision. Sebelius is still an open question, but it will get trimmed down, too. I would be more satisfied had Roberts given more guidance, but he didn’t so now the Dems wil run with it until they are told to stop. That is where the danger of this decision lies.

      • BrianR says:

        “Fortunately, Kelo has had little affect,”… so far. But the precedent has been set in stone, and it’s lying in wait out there, like a snake in the grass, until the next time some dinky township wants to throw a bunch of people out of their homes to let some developer come in and build a mall, or a factory, or a car dealership, or something.

        “I also think it will get overturned simply because it was a bad decision.”

        Like Dred Scott? Like Roe? C’mon, when’s the last time a landmark decision on the constitutionality of governmental power was EVER “overturned”, other than by the 14th Amendment?

        “I would be more satisfied had Roberts given more guidance, but he didn’t so now the Dems wil run with it until they are told to stop.”

        Stopped by whom? That’s exactly the point I raised in my last essay: Roberts’s hubris. “The power to tax isn’t the power to destroy while this court sits”! What a total idiot. Or, in other words, “John Marshall, you got it wrong! I’M the ‘Greatest Chief Justice’ now!”

        How do you stop it, given the decision already in place? “This tax” is okay, but “THAT one” isn’t? It’s okay to have a penalty of $2100, but $2101 is too much? How in holy hell is any of that going to work? It’s like trying to claim you’re only a little bit pregnant.

        His decision was moronic beyond description. The guy’s a complete bonehead.

    • slowcowboy says:

      “We do what we can, which takes me right back to the question I just asked. I’ve proposed an approach. You don’t like it. Fine. Your alternative?”

      My answer is that we don’t change anything except to be sure that we have the right people to fill the courts with the right people. We ensure that we have congress-men and -women who will be very careful about how they treat the law and the Constitution.

      Or, we can take your suggestion a step further and require the judges of the judges to be highly qualified and work to ensure a judge will not make a popular decision over the right one because he will face a firing squad within 12 years.

      • BrianR says:

        “My answer is that we don’t change anything except to be sure that we have the right people to fill the courts with the right people.”

        Fair enough. Obviously we disagree on the need to attack the problem, or if there even IS a “problem”.

        “… because he will face a firing squad within 12 years.”

        Cool! I LIKE it!

        😀

  21. Gray Ghost (Mississippi) says:

    Brian,

    As usual I am late to the dance (my daughter had back surgery on 07/06/12 and Nana and I have been baby-sitting 4 grandchildren ages 2-3/4 to 14). However, I do have some thoughts:

    Judicial Accountability Amendment: This is a great idea; but it needs some type of “object lesson”. How about if the Conservatives gain control of the Senate (with 67 votes) and keep control of the House we impeach the 4 Liberal judges and Roberts for not following the US Constitution? That would put the “Fear of the Lord” into all future SCOTUS judges.

    Flat Tax Amendment: I would prefer a “federal sales tax” on ALL items sold in the US. Then EVERYBODY has a “dog in the hunt” no matter their income. Plus it gets rid of the IRS which is fastly becoming the “Brownshirts” of the federal government. There would be no need for a voter eligibility amendment as EVERYONE would pay some tax if they bought anything.

    Tax Legitimacy Amendment: Totally agree.

    BTW, as I see it the only way the above items will work is for all welfare programs to shut down immediately.

    • BrianR says:

      Hey, Gray. I hope your daughter’s back surgery went well. I had a dose of that myself about a year ago. You’re raking care of FOUR grandkids? Yikes!

      I don’t see how any Justices can be impeached for their decisions. It’s what they’re paid to do. We may not agree with them, but you can’t impeach someone for simply doing their job; it says so in the Constitution! “Bribery, treason, and other high crimes and Misdemeanors”. Being wrong isn’t a crime… unfortunately!

      LOL

      The point of my flat-tax amendment is twofold: first, it makes EVERYONE part of the game because all — “without exception” — must pay the flat income tax. That way, any tax increase will be felt by everyone equally, and make taxation equally painful for all. People who only pay a sales tax can actually avoid it if they’re clever: buy in the gray or black market; sellers pricing goods higher, then “absorbing” the tax, like they do in sales events; people near borders can buy in other countries, etc. People who don’t pay that tax through one strategy or another won’t care about tax increases. Another problem with the sales tax approach is that it’s inherently regressive; poor people are hit proportionately MUCH harder than rich people. And sales taxes tend to depress market activity; when the prices of things start climbing — which is what the sales tax will do, push up prices — the sales of those items generally fall proportionately. You also get political games played about some items being exempted, others being taxed at higher rates (“sin taxes”), etc.

      Secondly, it makes the “Voter Eligibility Amendment” possible, because if someone doesn’t file a tax return they don’t get to vote. Can’t do that if the tax is collected as a sales tax.

      Shutting down the welfare programs would ultimately be a result, probably. At the LEAST, they’d be significantly trimmed back. These kinds of amendments would, hopefully, lead to very significant changes in the SOP of this country.

    • jevica says:

      Ghost;

      That would have to be all 67 Senators Conservative [none that would not vote for impeachment] to convict. In the House would have to have enough votes to impeach, as Brian says you can’t impeach them for their opinion only for “Bribery, treason, and other high crimes and Misdemeanors”

  22. BrianR says:

    Well, it’s certainly true that both parties have participated in driving the bus over the cliff. Clearly a reason to put some obstacles in place to make that harder to do.

    And also, I agree that Romney’s far from being the ideal candidate, on a variety of issues. Yet here we are.
    .
    .
    .

    On a side note, why do you keep changing your screen name? As I’ve told you, as site moderator I can see your IP address. I don’t mind people disagreeing with me; I’m only concerned with tone and civility.

  23. BrianR says:

    😀

    Yeah, “novel” is right!

  24. BrianR says:

    I’d guess it’s probably a small number in an advisory or exchange capacity. It’s pretty standard for allied countries to have small military contingents in co-training, observationary, or other capacities, as well as the military attache group and Marines assigned to the embassy.

  25. BrianR says:

    Well, I don’t think I’d agree with that. But again, the problem arises from ignoring the strictures of the Constitution, i.e. the need for actually declaring a war before going out and fighting one.

  26. BrianR says:

    Well, policy can’t be set by amendments; that’s why we have a Congress and President, and a political process to make them accountable to the electorate.

    Can you imagine what would happen if we had to amend the Constitution for every policy position or decision?

  27. Nee says:

    Brian–
    Great read! We’be been on this for years! The thing that you ring up about accountability is right on and although impeaching doesn’t get what is needed for the long term…as it will never be broached w the MFM, I think it’s the shot I’d like! On another note…Obama signs an X O claiming control of “communication” in a criss??? WTF? I’m on vacay with limited connect an no phone service. And still I’m aware!! No real coverage of it at all! If your comments have addressed, my apologies!

    • Nee says:

      Sorry for crap typos…readers not strong enough! 😉

      • BrianR says:

        Dudette, you’re talking to the Typo King!

        My only benefit is that as the blog moderator, I can clean up and edit my comments so you don’t see all the typos Mr. Thumbs makes.

    • BrianR says:

      Nee, thanks for the kind words. You raised great points, and your comments are always welcome. It never matters to me if more than one person express the same thoughts, but you didn’t even have to worry about that.

      Where you vacationing? And have fun!

  28. captbogus@yahoo.com says:

    Colavita:
    We’re not at war with Eastasia. We have never been at war with Eastasia. We are at war with Westasis.

  29. slowcowboy says:

    By the way, Brian, we seem to disagree on the solution here, but I am OK with that, and appreciate the discussion. Reasonable minds can and should disagree on matters of policy. That is what makes this country fantastic– the free exchange of ideas of such importance.

    I suppose, though, we should watch out for an opponent tax, wherein talk against the emporer is taxed heavily. 🙂

    • BrianR says:

      Y’know, it’s funny, but just before I sat down to check the comments and moderate, I was thinking exactly the same: that this is the most fun I’ve had in a debate in a long time. It is a HOOT! I LOVE a good debate with a knowledgeable opponent, carried out in a courteous manner, free of anger and ad hominem BS, on interesting issues.

      Funny how damned RARE it is…

      I appreciate it, my friend. Thanks for playing with me.

  30. slowcowboy says:

    BTW– new post up.

  31. Colavita says:

    I propose another amendment, one that supports our troops.

    One that declares the following:

    Whenever a greater number of soldiers die by suicide than in combat…. such war shall cease.

    I thought we were conservatives who cared about “the troops”?

    Was it just lip service?

    It looks that way.

    (Such hypocrisy is really evil, by the way, if you ask me.)

    What will Mitt Romney do about this?

    Umm…. nothing.

    Where was he during Vietnam?

    Let’s support our troops.

    Who’s with me?

  32. slowcowboy says:

    “The decision revealed the chief justice as a master strategist with a nuanced concern for institutional integrity that is less dramatic or nefarious than the characterizations advanced by partisans on the left or the right.”

    These words are from a column by Jeffrey Rosen at TnR (Found here: http://www.tnr.com/article/politics/magazine/104898/john-roberts-supreme-court-aca), and addressed Roberts reasons for his decision in Sebelius.

    I think Robert’s concern for institutional integrity has put an extreme dent in the integrity of the Constitution. What matters most to Roberts seems to be something different from what he was sworn to protect. Its as if he assumes the Constitution will be protected no matter what the Court does, failing to realize that the Court’s decisions directly impact the integrity of the very document he assumes will always be there.

    What will he do once the Court is viewed highly, but there is nothing to protect?

    • BrianR says:

      I agree with your assessment 100%. Interestingly enough, from your linked article:

      “In Roberts’s view, the Court was losing respect with the public because it issued too many rulings along partisan lines. ‘I do think the rule of law is threatened by a steady term-after-term focus on five–four decisions,’ he said. ‘I think the Court is also ripe for a similar refocus on functioning as an institution,’ he told me, ‘because if it doesn’t, it’s going to lose its credibility.'”

      So what does the brain-dead loser do? Side with the anti-constitutionalists for another 5-4 decision!

      He swore to uphold the Constitution, not the “integrity of the Court”.

      Then there’s this, from that same moronic article: “On the face of it, the conservatives’ extreme displeasure was hard to fathom, since Roberts’s so-called betrayal was only partial.”

      Again with the “I’m only a little bit pregnant” defense. It continues: “The four conservatives railed about the need for the courts to protect states’ rights and individual liberty—even if doing so meant overriding the wishes of the people’s representatives. ‘Article I contains no whatever-it-takes-to-solve-a-national-problem power,’ the dissenters huffed, in a phrase that sounded like the handiwork of Justice Scalia.”

      Well, duh. What if the “people’s representatives” pass a law deeming that “hunger” is a “national problem” and restaurants have to feed the homeless for free? There’s no end to where Rosen’s cretinous “logic” takes us.

      I hate these supposedly “conservative” apologists as much as the overt socialists, because they’re enablers.

  33. clyde says:

    This crap keeps going down,SCOTUS will viewed almost as favorably as Congress. Agree also on these abject MORONS who are supposed to be so damn smart,that EXCUSE the flagrant DISREGARD for the Constituition. A pox on them all. Or,more succinctly,DAMN THEIR HIDES.

  34. CW says:

    “Judicial Accountability Amendment: I’m all for limiting the terms of SCOTUS appointees but a term limit won’t do anything to encourage stricter adherence to the Constitution. Why would it? As long as they never face re-election a 12 year limit makes no difference.

    “Flat Tax Amendment: I agree that everyone should have some skin in the game but I don’t agree that it would “eliminate the inequality of tax burdens.” There is nothing equitable about one person paying 10% of $1,000 compared to another who pays 10% of $1 million. A flat tax, like most other proposals, is a tax based on practicality – not fairness.

    “Voter Eligibility Amendment: Okay.

    “Tax Legitimacy Amendment: I’ve considered similar things but concluded that it wouldn’t change anything in light of the fact that we already have a Constitution that is essentially being ignored when it is convenient for some to do so. Wasn’t Obamacare just ruled constitutional? All of the actions we’ve seen that are outside the bounds of the Constitution amount to this: They are the mob’s way of telling us: “We have no intention of abiding by the Constitution – period.” If you add an amendment to say that people have to abide by the Constitution, they will simply elect/appoint people who declare that their actions are constitutional whether they are or not.

    I think our only hope is to elect/appoint people who will uphold the spirit of the Constitution. If we aren’t doing that, we have no hope.

    • BrianR says:

      “… a term limit won’t do anything to encourage stricter adherence to the Constitution. Why would it? As long as they never face re-election a 12 year limit makes no difference.”

      In which case they will be automatically removed, which is impossible now.

      “… There is nothing equitable about one person paying 10% of $1,000 compared to another who pays 10% of $1 million.”

      Sure there is. They’re both paying 10%. That’s as equitable as it gets.

      As far as the Tax Legitimacy Amendment, it doesn’t sound like you read it. It strictly limits what a “tax” can be.

      “I think our only hope is to elect/appoint people who will uphold the spirit of the Constitution.”

      How’s that been working out for you so far?

      The point here is that the system’s broken. I’m proposing some things I hope will help fix it. If we stick on the road we’re following — including the the wasted effort of crossing our fingers and “hoping” to “elect/appoint people who will uphold the spirit of the Constitution” — we’re screwed. ESPECIALLY when people who have no vested interest in fiscal sanity and constitutional principles, because they pay no taxes and so couldn’t care less, have full voting rights.

      • CW says:

        >>”They’re both paying 10%. That’s as equitable as it gets.”

        If one citizen paying $100 and another paying $100,000 for ostensibly the same thing is “as equitable as it gets” then we have succumbed to a new definition of equity. A truly equitable system would be one where we add up what it costs to run the gov’t and every adult gets a bill for an equal (hence the term “equitable”) share. We don’t do that because it’s impractical – too many people wouldn’t be able to afford to pay their bill; thus we’ve developed an alternative plan that is practical rather than equitable.

        I’m sure I’m being annoying but the distinction is vital. The Left knows that language is a powerful weapon and re-defining words is key to advancing their agenda. That’s why the effort to re-define what’s “fair,” particularly when it comes to taxes, has been greatly accelerated under Obama. When people pay more in taxes because it’s practical and thus are doing more than their fair share, they deserve gratitude. But when fair is defined as people owe more simply because they have more, we cultivate a sense of entitlement to what other people have rightfully earned.

        >>”As far as the Tax Legitimacy Amendment, it doesn’t sound like you read it. It strictly limits what a “tax” can be.”

        At one time I would have said the Constitution strictly limited what the gov’t could do, but as we’ve seen there seems to be no argument a determined leftist can’t successfully make when they aren’t required to respect the English language and when they have a willing accomplice in the judiciary. So it’s not that I don’t admire the effort, I’m just skeptical that adding more constraints in the form of additional amendments to the Constitution won’t be abused as all the others have.

        In answer to your question on how it’s working out when we elect people dedicating to upholding the Constitution, that’s hard to answer since we’ve done so little of it. The vast majority of those elected as “conservatives” aren’t really that at all.

      • BrianR says:

        “A truly equitable system would be one where we add up what it costs to run the gov’t and every adult gets a bill for an equal (hence the term ‘equitable’) share.”

        That would be a regressive tax, whacking people harder the lower they are on the economic ladder. Someone at the bottom could have a ding of 300% of their income, while someone at the top has ding that’s only 0.000001% of THEIR income. How’s that at all “equitable” or fair? It also presents some pretty obvious collection problems, wouldn’t you say?

        What’s “equitable” is that everyone feels equal pain in payment; 10% (or whatever the percentage is finally set at) is “equitably” painful to all, no matter where you fall on the income scale.

        “In answer to your question on how it’s working out when we elect people dedicating to upholding the Constitution, that’s hard to answer since we’ve done so little of it. The vast majority of those elected as ‘conservatives’ aren’t really that at all.”

        Exactly. Which is why no one gets to simply sit back and vote without having to face the personal financial impact of their vote under my plan. For the most part, people vote their wallets; but too many have no financial skin in the game, and vote for those who promise the most handouts. Read the quotes I opened the column with; they’re both eloquent on the subject.

        Once people realize there’s no more free ride — that how they vote is going to DIRECTLY impact the taxes they have to pay and thus their wallets — we’ll see a whole different ball game. It will completely disarm the Dem/socialists. And every time a political hack tries to get some pork, or raise spending (and thus the tax rate), he’s going to have to face angry constituents who are going to be nailing him on increasing their tax payment. That’ll cut right across ALL economic strata, because there will no longer be any voter sitting around with their hand sticking out, looking for their free government money for which they didn’t personally have to pay that 10% (or whatever).

  35. More words on a piece of irrelevant paper won’t do any good…voting for Mitt Obamnaey won’t either…sorry!

    • jevica says:

      Brian;

      Can’t believe that AL is here and not obnoxious as he used to be.

      What is the “piece of irrelevant paper” he speaks of? Is it by chance the Constitution? Because the government does not follow it does not make it irrelevant.

      Will a vote for BHO “do any good”

      • BrianR says:

        LOL, Jev!

        That’s not his first attempt to post here; it’s just his first effort that I didn’t immediately trash. If he follows the rules, he gets to play.

        “I encourage all points of view, but comments that don’t maintain standard decorum, or are overly rude or hostile, won’t see the light of day.”

        I assume your questions are directed to him, so I’ll let him speak for himself, if he so chooses.

      • I’ve NEVER been obnoxious to anyone who wasn’t that way w/me first.

        And, sorry, but you’re WRONG when you say the govt. doesn’t follow the C…technically speaking EVERYTHING they do is constitutional.

        Let me make it easy:

        1. Congress–by simple majority vote–passes a ‘bill’.
        2. POTUS–by a single vote–signs bill and it becomes ‘law’.
        3. SCOTUS–by simple majority vote–accedes to a ‘law’ (or some portion thereof).

        And, voila…CONSTITUTIONAL! That’s the “divided powers” process set forth in the constitution itself to determine constitutionality of an act and a challenge ANYONE to prove otherwise.

      • BrianR says:

        “I’ve NEVER been obnoxious to anyone who wasn’t that way w/me first.”

        Uh huh. Well, we’re not going to be having any conversations like that here. This is my blog, and I decide what gets published, and what gets trashed and/or labeled as spam and blocked. I can see IP addresses as Moderator, so it’s very easy for me to control access no matter what aliases someone uses.

        Just FYI.

    • Jim says:

      “I’ve NEVER been obnoxious to anyone who wasn’t that way w/me first.”

      That’s funny that (…)!Maybe not to there face, but you sure called them names behind their backs.

  36. CW says:

    >>”What’s “equitable” is that everyone feels equal pain in payment;”

    That’s a different definition of “equitable” than I grew up with, Brian, and it’s a cornerstone of the Left’s argument for why the “rich” aren’t paying their “fair share.” I grew up believing that if you took a gallon of water, you paid for a gallon of water based on the price of the water, not your level of income. After all, you could choose not to work at all and then what would be an “equitable” price for you – free? Just because something is regressive doesn’t mean that it’s unfair or inequitable.

    “It also presents some pretty obvious collection problems, wouldn’t you say?”

    Well since I have conceded – twice now – that it’s impractical, I would have thought my understanding of the collection problems was obvious. I am only taking issue with the notion of a flat tax rate as being the equivalent of a fair tax.

    >>”…too many have no financial skin in the game,…”

    I completely agree. That’s why I said so in my first comment.

    • BrianR says:

      Well, I don’t know what you grew up with, but if everyone’s paying the same percentage of their income, that’s equitable.

      From Webster’s: “1: having or exhibiting equity : dealing fairly and equally with all concerned ”

      So, if everyone’s paying the same percentage of their income, that meets the definition. Now, I suppose it’s also true that if the budget is split up so that every person’s responsible for the same-sized portion of the budget, that’s a proportional, or “equal”, distribution; but I’d hardly call it either “fair” or “equitable”, since for some people it means bankruptcy while for others it would be entirely meaningless. I think you’re confusing “equal” with “equitable”.

      As to what the Left says: again, no matter WHAT ever happens, they’ll always make that same inane squawk until “the rich” — whatever they are — are paying 100% of their income in taxes. The top tiers will still be paying more in taxes than the bottom tiers — 10% of a lot is a lot more than 10% of a little — but the BURDEN will be equally borne by all as a percentage of income, and there won’t be any more of the bottom almost-50% getting a free ride (which is exactly from where the problem arises). But OF COURSE the socialists are going to scream that, which is precisely why it has to be a constitutional amendment not subject to legislative change.

  37. jevica says:

    Brian;

    “Three California Cities Bankrupt: ‘This Is The Tip of the Iceberg,’ Says Fmr. Statesman”

    http://finance.yahoo.com/blogs/daily-ticker/three-california-cities-bankrupt-tip-iceberg-says-fmr-155121281.html

    Is this a prelude to/for cities across the USA? If you read the article you will see cities in other states are mentioned. Hell just keep spending, it will all work out in the end.

    • BrianR says:

      Yep. All they have to do is harvest the Money Tree Forest, right down the road from the Free Lunch Cafe.

  38. Conservatives–like liberals during the GWB era–think if they can just get “the other guy” out of office things will get better…well it didn’t work out that way w/Obama and it won’t w/Romney either.

    The fact that a Massachusetts liberal is the standard-bearer of ‘conservatism’ in 2012 is hilarious but fitting.

    And, please, don’t give me any bologna about “Republicans not being conservatives”…that old line lost any legitimacy a LOOONG time ago.

    • jevica says:

      AL;

      I will not ask how you are doing because it seems you are still doing the same.

      We know [from the last years] how it has done with BHO.

      Romney would not have been my first choice, as I have said here during the campaign, but here we are with the choice(s) we have.

      Thinking that Romney the GOP nominee is the standard bearer of conservatism [that the main stream GOP is “CONSERVATIVE” (at this time)] is a real big laugh.

      “about ‘Republicans not being conservatives'” truth hurts. So many Republican Senators, GOVs etc. were big Liberals it goes without saying. Think Arnold, etc.

      Bush 43 was not a conservative, as I posted and commented often.

      Since you are able to see the future and how Romney will do, if he is elected, can you give me the lotto numbers?

      BTW I did not/could not vote for John McLiberal.

      • Actually jevica I’m better than ever! I’ve achieved a kind of “Zen”-like state re: politics: I now realize that political involvement (esp. federal) is pointless and that Americans are nearly hopeless. I’ve almost totally deprogrammed myself from the propaganda that permeates American culture.

        jevica, let’s be honest: 99% of ‘conservatives’ voted for Reagan, GWB, and McCain and 99% will vote for Romney. All were/are big-govt GOPers. The words “conservative” and “Republican” are virtually interchangeable at this point. You know it, I know it. To say “So-and-so isn’t ‘conservative’ but I’m voting for him/her anyways” is the ultimate cop-out for YOUR action. When you vote for a candidate you’re effectively saying you approve of 100% of their platform/ideology. If you’re gonna vote at least take responsibility for it and stop deluding yourself.

        The future? Well, since Romney is, ideologically, virtually identical to Obama (like Obama was to Bush The Younger) it doesn’t take a genius to realize what will happen if he’s elected: more of the same. Romney actually has the potential to be WORSE than Obama due to his conservative views on foreign-policy. Its hard to believe, I know, but it would’ve been hard to believe that Obama could actually be worse than Bush II.

      • You didn’t vote for McCain, yes, I know. You and the other “SCDSers” took SUCH a heroic and principled stand in not voting for a GOPer who had zero chance of winning anyways!

        But…y’all are gonna vote for McCain 2.0…in fact, there’s a case to be made that Romney has a MORE liberal record than McLiberal!

        I’m sure some who’re desperately to rationalize supporting Mitt “Father Of Obamacare” Romney would point to Reagan as the model Romney will hopefully follow: liberal-as-a-guv but conservative-as-a-potus. However this totally ignores the reality that Reagan was a borrow-and-spend, big-govt. ‘conservative’ as potus. The Reagan Story is a Conservative Myth which has been soundly debunked by many libertarians so, sorry, but the “Mitt will be like Reagan” schtick is ridiculous.

  39. As I’ve said before, so-called ‘Constitutionalists’ (i.e., Federal Supremacists, i.e., defenders of strong centralized govt.) are no better than Communists in that they refuse to admit their system is a failure.

  40. jevica says:

    AL;

    I see that your “Zen like” status still has you the same as you used to be.

    I don’t want to get into a debate [on Brian’s blog] about the same old things.

    Bush like BHO, Reagan is that, Romney is such and such, conservatives are what you say they are, etc., etc.. The same old story.

    • BrianR says:

      Yeah, I think you’re right. We’re not going to do that here. Thanks, Jev.

      These are the “same old things” I wasn’t interested in at Townhall, but there I had no control. That’s not the case here. I think I’ve been more than indulgent, but I’m bringing it to a close now.

      There’s a topic on the table here on this (and every) essay. If you want to stay on topic, fine. I’m even open to off-topic but interesting other thoughts that are worth discussing. But soap-boxing old diatribes just isn’t going to cut it anymore. As far as I’m concerned, that’s just the equivalent of “spam”. Anyone who wants to do that can start their own blog. This is WordPress; it’s free.

      • Staying on point:

        “Judicial Accountability Amendment”: Not a bad idea, but kind of superfluous since congress can already, legally, remove scotus judges and also overturn poor decisions through the legislative process RIGHT NOW. If congress isn’t keeping the scotus in check NOW, I don’t see what good this amendment would do.

        “Flat Tax Amendment”: Why not just advocate for a repeal of the communistic income tax amendment? The income tax has become a MAJOR social engineering tool and will continue to be used as such until its repealed.

        “Voter Eligibility Amendment”: Again, not a bad idea, but why not just repeal the ITA? And, btw, an amendment like this has about as much chance being enacted as Ron Paul has of being a 4-term potus.

        “Tax Legitimacy Amendment”: This is like the “JAA”…if the fedgovt. can’t or won’t stick to performing only “legitimate functions” NOW, what good would this A effect? Who do you think is going to DEFINE what “legitimate functions” are? The SAME fedgovt. that declared Obamacare to be a “legitimate function”!

      • BrianR says:

        “Not a bad idea, but kind of superfluous since congress can already, legally, remove scotus judges and also overturn poor decisions through the legislative process RIGHT NOW.”

        Actually, they can’t. A judge can only be removed by impeachment, and only for “bribery, treason or other high crimes or misdemeanors”. That’s where the problem lies. And the legislative process can’t overturn a judicial decision. They can keep trying to pass an overturned law, I guess, but what’s the point of that? It’ll just be overturned again.

        “Why not just advocate for a repeal of the communistic income tax amendment?”

        Another alternative. But what’s the alternate method for funding the legitimate governmental functions?

        “an amendment like this has about as much chance being enacted as Ron Paul has of being a 4-term potus.”

        As I said in my essay. Which is exactly why I’m not sanguine.

    • You’re a classy guy jevica…always have been.

      And, “the same old story”, in reality, is conservatives voting for Republicans and then complaining that Republicans “aren’t conservative”…and then voting for them (often the SAME exact GOPers!) and complaining again, and on and on and on…

      Pretty ridiculous if you ask me…and it amazes me that most of y’all refuse to see how ridiculous a cop-out it is…then again, hypocrites rarely admit to it.

  41. Brian said:

    “Unless these amendments – or something very much like them – are enacted, this country as we know it is finished. We may still be in existence physically, but we’ll ultimately devolve into a Euro-trash “social democracy” like Greece. Unfortunately, I don’t believe the political will exists in this country to take those necessary steps.”

    Well, when the ONLY guy seriously talking about significant cuts to spending (w/a short-term focus on bloated military and foreign-policy spending) running for potus is soundly rejected by “small govt. conservatives”…yeah, I’d say no political will to confront reality exists!

    And, btw, this country has gone through several epochs which led us to today. The ill-fated adoption of the Constitution, the destruction of State sovereignty in the 1860’s-1870’s, the Income Tax Amendment and Federal Reserve Act, the New Deal legislation, the Great Society legislation, Reaganomics, and the GW era assault on civil liberties…

    • BrianR says:

      “And, btw, this country has gone through several epochs which led us to today.”

      Agreed in principle, though I don’t agree with everything on your list, and would probably add some entries of my own.

      • IMO the big ones are the ratification of the C itself (which the anti-federalists predicted would fail) and the misnamed “Civil War”. After the feds consolidated power in the 1860’s and 1870’s the road to total govt. was probably inevitable.

      • BrianR says:

        It’s also a problem inherent to human nature, and always has been. It’s embodied in the full Tytler quote:

        A democracy is always temporary in nature; it simply cannot exist as a permanent form of government. A democracy will continue to exist up until the time that voters discover that they can vote themselves generous gifts from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates who promise the most benefits from the public treasury, with the result that every democracy will finally collapse due to loose fiscal policy, which is always followed by a dictatorship. The average age of the world’s greatest civilizations from the beginning of history has been about 200 years. During those 200 years, these nations always progressed through the following sequence:
        From bondage to spiritual faith;
        From spiritual faith to great courage;
        From courage to liberty;
        From liberty to abundance;
        From abundance to selfishness;
        From selfishness to complacency;
        From complacency to apathy;
        From apathy to dependence;
        From dependence back into bondage.

        We’ve seen this cycle repeated throughout history.

  42. RE: SCOTUS

    OK, I’ll grant you the point that congress can’t readily remove judges (though I thought they were only eligible to serve during “good Behavior”–which seems pretty open-ended to me) or overturn decisions sans an amendment.

    That said, how many ‘bad’ scotus decisions would’ve been prevented by your 12-year rule? Seems to me it’d be as effective as terms have been for congressmen…sure, the POSSIBILITY of removing them would exist, but only AFTER they’ve screwed things up!

    I guess it’d be better than the life appointments that exist, which was a pretty insane idea to begin with–not very conducive to accountability.

    • BrianR says:

      “That said, how many ‘bad’ scotus decisions would’ve been prevented by your 12-year rule?”

      Who knows? All I know is that the system’s broken, and IMO a big part of the problem with the federal judiciary is that they’re not answerable to anyone. So I’m willing to change that, and see what happens.

      If they KNOW that at some point tyhey’re going to be held accountable, maybe the same human nature that fiosters the arrogance that goes along with lack of accountability will kick in.

      Acton: “Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely”, and I think I’m seeing a bit too much of that for my taste coming from the federal bench.

  43. RE: TAXES

    “But what’s the alternate method for funding the legitimate governmental functions?”

    Again, the term “legitimate govt. functions” is a devil of a statement. As the anti-federalists pointed out, the fedgovt. is the arbiter of the extent of its own “legitimate functions”. As I’ve pointed out, technically, EVERYTHING the fedgovt. has done is a “legitimate function” since its all been done via the constitutional administrative process. Many people think an overseas empire and numerous, unnecessary alliances/quasi-alliances and int’l bribery (“foreign aid”) is a “legitimate function” of the govt. just as some think socialized medicine/education/housing and foodstamps are…its totally subjective (unless you’re an anarchist who denies that govt. has ANY “legitimate functions”).

    In reality no amendment is required for the fedgovt. to practice fiscal sanity or legislative restraint and the USA got by fine w/o an income tax up until 1913–just like it got by fine w/o a Drug War and got by fine w/o being the Global Cops and got by fine w/o being a Nanny/Daddy Police State.

    The problem isn’t FUNDING but SPENDING. I think this is where modern conservatives really blow it–they’re WAAAY too concerned about funding things which shouldn’t even exist.

    I’m just sayin…if you’re gonna toss around the idea of amending the C, you might as well “go big”. I’d suggest prohibiting, by amendment, the fedgovt. from borrowing money or imposing internal taxes. Those alone–assuming they paid attention to them–would force some restraint.

    • BrianR says:

      A lot to be said for everything you wrote. Again, don’t look at any of my proposed amendments as stand-alones. I’m proposing a package deal because no single one of those amendments does much by itself. They’re a comprehensive approach to fixing what I view as the major and interrelated problems we’re now facing.

      • It kind of seems that there’s just been a ton of momentum pushing things in the wrong direction for too long.

        There are some real lessons to be learned from the failed American System (central govt., a nation too big for its and the worlds own good, central banking/govt.-controlled money, and an income tax are 4 biggies) imo…and its the job of libertarians to document and highlight them for future generations.

      • BrianR says:

        “It kind of seems that there’s just been a ton of momentum pushing things in the wrong direction for too long.”

        Ooooooh, yeah… Mastefully understated….

        😀

  44. slowcowboy says:

    A new post up. Come on down!

  45. RE: TYLER QUOTE

    I take issue w/this oft-repeated phrase:

    “A democracy will continue to exist up until the time that voters discover that they can vote themselves generous gifts from the public treasury.”

    I would assert that–from day one–democracies (or, pretty much, any and all authoritarian systems where one ‘superior’ class of people rules another ‘inferior’ class) contain this fatal flaw.

    Anything and everything a democracy does necessarily involves the coerced distribution of wealth…i.e., one group voting themselves public monies at the expense of another group. Even if you want to say things like roads and defense are “legitimate functions” of the state, this STILL involves various politicians and bureaucrats, govt. road maintenance employees, soldiers, arms manufacturers, etc., voting themselves money from the public treasury. This inevitably leads to evermore people demanding THEIR “fair share” of the loot. Can you really blame them? If I’M being robbed for the sake of the “general welfare” (which sounds an awful lot like commie’s talking about the “common good”), why shouldn’t I, in turn, attempt to rob others in order to get some of my own back?

    “We’ve seen this cycle repeated throughout history.”

    And until humanity understand the perverse incentives built into authoritarian systems they’ll keep being repeated.

    Heck, if you really think about it, a Hereditary Monarchy could very well be better than any form of Democracy. A King will most likely want to pass on an improved Kingdom to his progeny (just like all of us desire to leave our children better off than we were) and at least has SOME incentive to rule wisely–you could say the country/nation is the private property of the King. In a Democracy, the country is effective socialized/nationalized and the temporary rulers will tend to focus on pursuing THEIR own short-term benefits (govt. perks, re-election, profiting from selling influence/votes, etc.) at the expense of the vague “general public” and future generations.

    For instance, you may consider BHO to be a reckless buffoon who has done major damage to America, but he’s done VERY well for himself and his family by participating and manipulating the system of plunder (govt.). His actions make PERFECT RATIONAL sense from HIS perspective. Do you think politicians really give a flying fudge about a legal fiction (“USA”) or the tax-livestock (“citizens”) they fleece? Politicians rarely suffer from the consequences of their actions…that’s the benefit of being a ruler isn’t it? Like I said, this system has built-in incentive that guarantee corruption and collapse.

    • BrianR says:

      “I would assert that–from day one–democracies (or, pretty much, any and all authoritarian systems where one ‘superior’ class of people rules another ‘inferior’ class) contain this fatal flaw.”

      Of course. That’s the point of the quote. It’s a reflection of human nature, and the idea is that we’ve been warned to be leery of it.

      “And until humanity understand the perverse incentives built into authoritarian systems they’ll keep being repeated.”

      I don’t know what “authoritarian systems” is supposed to mean, NOR DO I WANT TO GET INTO IT. I suppose ANY governmental system can be considered “authoritarian”, because they all are. ANY governmental system, no matter how benign, is going to require the surrender of at least some autonomy on the part if its citizenry. That’s the price of having an ordered society of any kind, which is also part of human nature. Humans are herd animals, so there will ALWAYS be some form of order to their societies, imposed either by consensus or force. That’s just unavoidable fact, because it’s an unchangeable part of human nature.

      “… a Hereditary Monarchy could very well be better than any form of Democracy.”

      When I was in school, it was taught that the best form of government is actually a benign despotism. The problem with them is that pesky human nature invariably and inevitably raises its head, and those despots end up turning not so benign.

      (PS: it’s “Tytler”, not “Tyler”)

      • How to deal w/the dangers of political power/authoritarianism is a quandary for sure. I won’t delve any more into “authoritarian systems” other than to say you make a lot of questionable and illogical assumptions and assertions–esp. about “human nature”. I know you don’t like thinking TOO much about this stuff so I’ll let it go.

        I think the best way to view the C is as the experiment in human governance it was…I think many modern proponents of it (you included) have elevated it to a status WAAAY beyond anything the so-called ‘Founders’ would’ve. I think even many “big-govt” Federalists would be shocked and appalled at the C’s elevation to near-biblical status and would wonder at people’s ongoing attachment to it. People who say we’re “stuck” w/it forever aren’t doing anything to advance the “experiment” either imho.

        At this point I think amendments are superfluous. The feds simply do what they want and then find some rationalization w/i the existing document…and most folks go along w/it.

        When you figure out how a piece of paper can be made to stop criminals and psycho/socio-paths, please, let us know!

        PS: Like jevica, I have to say, you’re a class act and a good writer to boot. You guys could give lessons for online etiquette. Thanks for humoring me. Take care.

      • BrianR says:

        “… you make a lot of questionable and illogical assumptions and assertions–esp. about ‘human nature’.”

        No, that’s the entire basis for the problems with systems of governance. Any system that doesn’t take into account the factor of mankind’s basic human nature is inevitably bound to fail. It’s like trying to ignore the fact that water’s wet.

        Humans aren’t solitary animals. They live in groups. All any system of governance is is a method of establishing order within that group. All animals do it, from the ants with an heirarchical system of workers, soldiers and queens; to bees with drones and queens; to lions with the lazy male and the worker females; all the way up to us. As we’ve often discussed ad nauseum, unless some guy’s living all alone on an island or in the mountains, he’s going to be part of some form of society — no matter how small — and it’s going to have some form of social order, otherwise known as a “government”. That is the undeniable fact of human nature. Sharks live lone and solitary lives; we’re not sharks.

        Now… you can certainly complain about the form of governance under which you live, and bemoan the Constitution, and wish the Articles of Confederation were back. But that’s about as meaningful as me wishing I could relive last Saturday’s lottery now that I know the winning numbers. It’s a waste of time and energy, and won’t accomplish anything.

        (PS: thanks for the kind words. I’ve always told you, going way back to TH days, that we have more in common than it seems on first blush, and that I enjoy discussing issues with you when you’re not in “kill” mode)

  46. jevica says:

    Colavita

    My point on the comment I made was that AL had not [in my opinion] changed from the way he was commenting on Brian’s blog when it was on Townhall, even though, he said he had changed.

    Also I did not feel that it was right to get into personal debate in/on Brian’s blog [as sometimes happened at TH]. Now though Brian is in control over everything commented on here.

    Brian seems to be correct in deleting any pro-Nazi, racist crap on his blog.

    Brian is there any chance that Colavita is AL’s friend who used to comment with him back on TH? They were both anti-Semitic’s.

    • BrianR says:

      Jev, I have no idea. But he didn’t take me seriously, I guess, judging by the stuff he continued to write, and which I simply deleted, along with everything else he’d written here under a variety of names. He’s gone, along with his drivel.

  47. jevica says:

    Brian;

    Off topic but our nanny mayor here in NYC has taken advantage of the Colorado shooting to come out about

    “New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg joins the list of those who can’t bear to refrain from politicizing a tragedy for even one day”

    “http://hotair.com/archives/2012/07/20/bloomberg-to-obama-and-romney-where-exactly-do-you-stand-on-gun-control/”

    I have not heard from Chuck Schumer yet on his favorite issue of gun-control, have I missed something?

    • BrianR says:

      Yep, Jev, absolutely to be expected. I haven’t heard Two-Buck Chuck chime in yet, either. But I have no doubt he will soon.

      They’re like buzzards, always circling around looking for dead bodies to pounce on.

  48. CW says:

    Since you asked…I have put up a new post. That should make you feel very powerful.

  49. jevica says:

    Go Moonbeam Go,

    “Huge budget deficit be damned: California Gov. signs funding bill for $68 billion high speed rail project”

    http://michellemalkin.com/2012/07/21/california-high-speed-rail/

    “. . . If the funding holds out for the first leg, over a decade from now Californians will finally be able to travel from Borden to Shafter in record time. To dream the impossible dream. ‘

    They just love to spend OPM don’t they.

  50. Danny Braunstein says:

    After 12 years of serving on the federal bench, each judge including Supreme Court Justices shall be replaced, unless reconfirmed by the US Senate.”

    –12 years? Why not four? Or two? Or one? 12 years is an awful long time.

    Flat Tax Amendment

    –How about a return to the constitution where all taxes were to be apportioned?

    …this would assure that anyone who might still escape any tax obligation would also lose their ability to influence the outcome of legislation that forces everyone else to pay up.

    –Legislation that would force everyone else to “pay up” would be unconstitutional to begin with. So this argument is invalid.

    Any tax or spending bill must cite the appropriate and legitimate constitutional authority for that program or expenditure.

    –That’s what Ron Paul said. You’re a Paulbot, aren’t you?

    No tax shall be imposed whose purpose is to influence the behavior of citizens, either individually or as a group;

    –I see, so you’re in favor of legalizing heroine and bestiality and child rape. I knew it, you’re a Paulbot. Why don’t you go back to your KKK meeting. Don’t forget your Nazi uniform.

    P.S. Let me guess. You also want Tel Aviv nuked, don’t you?

    • BrianR says:

      “–12 years? Why not four? Or two? Or one? 12 years is an awful long time.”

      It’s a time frame I picked arbitrarily. It could be ANY time frame, as long as there’s SOME time frame. The one thing that influenced my choice was that I noted that the Constitution defines a periodicity for the “job review” of the other branches of government that never coincides. Representatives face the voters every two years, the Prez every four years, and Senators every six years. I’m guessing that was designed to prevent any “flash in the pan” populist movement from seizing the reins of government. So, with that in mind, I proposed 12 years. But hey! Whatever! I’m not locked into that.

      “–How about a return to the constitution where all taxes were to be apportioned?”

      Theoretically, they are still apportioned. Originally, that was based on state populations based on the census. A state would be assessed a tax based on population, and it was up to the state to determine how it would come up with the money. It was the advent of the personal income tax, by amendment, that changed that. Which is exactly why I’m proposing to amend the amendments.

      “–Legislation that would force everyone else to ‘pay up’ would be unconstitutional to begin with. So this argument is invalid.”

      Huh? How can any amendment, properly enacted, be “invalid”? BY DEFINITION, amendments are constitutional. That’s the whole point of the essay, and amending the Constitution. I’m not proposing legislation; I’m proposing constitutional amendments.

      “–That’s what Ron Paul said. You’re a Paulbot, aren’t you?”

      HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

      I know you’re a newbie here, but a lot of people have read my scribblings, going back years both here and at Townhall.com (the link to my Townhall blog is on my Blogroll), and the idea that I’m a Paulbot is pretty funny. I’ve wasted lots of time arguing with them — by which I mean the more rabid examples — as well as people of other political persuasions, and that idea has a big laugh factor.

      That having been said, I’m also not one to dismiss his — or anyone else’s — advocates lightly. IMO, everyone has a right to an opinion, a right to run for office, a right to espouse a philosophy and ideology, and one thing I have to say for Paul’s supporters: they have the dedication and endurance that puts the Energizer Bunny to shame. If ONLY the GOP would show such ardency for traditional conservative and Reaganesque principles, the leftists would be a permanent minority party in this country.

      “–I see, so you’re in favor of legalizing heroine and bestiality and child rape. I knew it, you’re a Paulbot. Why don’t you go back to your KKK meeting. Don’t forget your Nazi uniform.”

      Uh… what? WTF are you babbling about? I have NO idea what that idiotic statement has to do with misusing the tax power to mandate that people do things. Do you have the brain-dead idea that criminal law is enforced by TAXES? Have you ever heard of prisons? Or the death needle?

      “P.S. Let me guess. You also want Tel Aviv nuked, don’t you?”

      Does your single living brain cell ever feel lonely?

      _______________________________

      NOW. Let’s change topics for a minute. You CLEARLY didn’t read my policy for what I allow to be published in the comments on my blog. Read it and you’ll see your inane lunacy doesn’t meet those criteria. The only reason I’m letting it through is that it was so loony — and I had such fun answers — that I figured “what the heck?”.

      Your babble reads like it was written over a number of hours during which you polished off a lot of booze, or some other intoxicant of choice. Well, knock yourself out.

      You DID — I’m sure inadvertantly — raise a couple of interesting points, to which I responded. But that’s the ONLY reason your comment saw the light of day.

      Being the great guy I am, if you want to submit further comments, I’ll be happy to let them through if they meet the stated rules. If not, this comment of yours will stand as a permanent monument to your stupidity.

  51. Brian, after poor people have been disenfranchised…will they still be required to adhere to the laws that their non-representatives pass? If there’s a draft, for instance, would the non-franchised/2nd-class citizens be required to enlist even though they had to no say-so in war being (or not being) declared? Would only franchised/1st-class citizens be required to go and fight?

    And, on the “TLA”: Couldn’t Obamacare advocates (or advocates of any particular tax/law) simply point to the “necessary and proper” clause or any number of other powers (commerce clause, general welfare, supremacy clause)? Or, for instance, couldn’t someone of the Conservative persuasion say UHC is necessary for ensuring a healthy draft pool for the Empire?

    • BrianR says:

      Excellent questions.

      Well, as to obeying the laws: of course they would. Laws apply to all, even non-citizens and foreign aliens in the country. There are a lot of people right now who can’t vote; felons, for example, who’ve lost their right to vote. But they still have to obey the laws.

      And there’s no “requirement” that anybody enlist in the military. We haven’t had a draft since 1970 or so. But to respond to the “spirit” of your question, if a draft were reinstated, again it would be universally applicable. When there was a draft last time — back in the Paleozoic when I was a soldier — most of the kids drafted weren’t old enough to vote, since the voting age at that time was 21. Further, even if one was of voting age, what about the people who don’t agree with that particular war? A draft is universally applicable, whether or not you can vote and whether or not you agree with the war. An obligation to serve in the military — if it’s reinstated — isn’t a plebiscite; it’s a duty.

      As to your last paragraph: yep. No doubt that’s always a possibility, and a problem I considered. Just look at how the General Welfare and Commerce Clauses are so abused already. But at least we’d be having debates on issues of constitutionality. I think that would be a lot more productive that what we have now, which is essentially nothing.

      I never claimed my proposals would create a perfect system! 😀 Nothing created by mankind is. But it would sure improve the broken mess we have right now, IMO.

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  54. Party of Logic and Reason says:

    Brian, I found a link to your blog in a sickeningly Conservative comment on another site. It astounds me how someone like you can complain so extensively about how people “blame” the country’s current condition on the opposite party while you are simultaneously blaming your opposite party for literally every problem. The thought process you exhibit is exactly what prevents our country from solving problems with bi-partisan cooperation, and is the source of much of the thoughtless “fears” I hear people voice about Obama. I am not lifting Obama up as our nation’s savior. I am not implying that he is the best president. I am only calling out your blind ignorance to the failings of the Conservative platform and especially of Romney. If you think Mitt Romney would serve as a better president, you are either misinformed or extremely ignorant. Open your eyes and evaluate issues without your political pretenses and I think you will find the country we live in is not a socialist hellscape dominated by a totalitarian Muslim as so many ignorant people describe it.

    • BrianR says:

      Hmmmm… let’s see…. quite the rant…

      “Sickeningly conservative”… “thoughtless ‘fears'”… “blind ignorance”… “misinformed or extremely ignorant”… “political pretenses”… “totalitarian Muslim”… “ignorant people”…

      All while whining about “bi-partisan cooperation”.

      That’s hilarious! Yep, that’s exactly the kind of attitude that will foster a whole lot more of that “bi-partisan cooperation”. What’s the word I’m looking for?… oh, yeah!… It’s “hypocrite”.

      I don’t even know what you’re talking about in some of your blather; I have to wonder if you do, either. “It astounds me how someone like you can complain so extensively about how people ‘blame’ the country’s current condition on the opposite party while you are simultaneously blaming your opposite party for literally every problem.” Huh? What’s that even supposed to mean? “Totalitarian Muslim”? Yeah, I think Oblame-O would love to be dictator, but I’ve never ever even mentioned his religion, Christian, Muslim, or anything else.

      Now I’ve given you your public airing, out of the goodness of my heart, and the breadth of my sense of humor. It’s always good to see an example of the idiocy of the left. Invariably good for at least a few chuckles. But I think that’s probably your sole appearance here at my blog.

      Sayonara.

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