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Posts Tagged ‘James Madison’

Spying on Journalists – LewRockwell

Posted by M. C. on August 6, 2020

For starters, it is far easier to spy unlawfully than it is to obtain a search warrant. As well, the feds have established a vast network of domestic spies — the 60,000-person strong National Security Agency. It captures all electronic data, voice and text, communicated within the United States — without warrants and with few complaints.

All this directly assaults the right to privacy, but the feds do it anyway. The spying is so normal that a deputy DHS secretary ordered it in Portland without seeking approval up his chain of command.

https://www.lewrockwell.com/2020/08/andrew-p-napolitano/spying-on-journalists/

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Last week, this column argued that the only constitutional role for armed federal forces in Portland, Oregon, was to assist U.S. marshals in protecting federal property and personnel there — in this case, the federal courthouse and those who come to it. The column also argued that under the U.S. Constitution, the feds have no lawful role in policing streets unless requested to do so by the governor or legislature of any state.

In Portland’s case, the governor of Oregon and the mayor of Portland both asked acting Secretary of Homeland Security Chad Wolf to bring his forces home. He agreed to do so when Oregon’s governor offered to beef up security at the federal courthouse.

Yet, the federal forces were doing more than just protecting federal property. They were agitating the peaceful demonstrators in Portland’s streets by firing an internationally banned variant of tear gas repeatedly and indiscriminately into crowds for hours at a time every night. The feds were also spying on journalists who were in the crowds of protestors reporting on what they observed.

Here is the backstory.

The Supreme Court has held, for many generations, that the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution protects the “right to be let alone.” Today, we call this privacy.

Those who wrote the Constitution were acutely aware of the proclivities of government to monitor the communications and behavior of folks it hates and fears. King George III sent British troops and government agents into the homes of colonists under various pretexts, the most notorious of which was to examine letters, papers and pamphlets to ascertain if the king’s tax on them had been paid.

This Stamp Act tax cost more to enforce than it generated in revenue. Was the king dumb or dumb like a fox? Probably the latter; the true purpose of the tax was not to raise money but to remind the colonists that the king could cross the thresholds of their homes — a right he did not have in Great Britain — through the use of his soldiers and agents. And, while inside the home, his agents could discover who was agitating for secession.

With memories of these royal abuses fresh in their minds, the members of the first Congress — led by James Madison — approved and passed the Fourth Amendment. The states ratified it as part of the Bill of Rights. Madison also drafted the Ninth Amendment, which reflects the existence in all people of natural human rights — knowable by the exercise of reason and insulated from government intrusion. Among those rights is privacy.

May the government lawfully invade the right to privacy? Under the Fourth Amendment, it may do so only pursuant to search warrants issued by a judge, and the judge may only issue a search warrant after taking testimony under oath demonstrating that it is more likely than not that the place to be searched will yield evidence of criminal behavior. Plus, the warrant must specify the place to be searched or the person or thing to be seized.

The language and requirements in the Fourth Amendment are the most specific in the Constitution. Madison insisted upon this so it would be both an obstacle to the new American government doing to its citizens what the king and his agents had done to the colonists, and an inducement to the government to focus law enforcement on probable causes of crime rather than spying on political enemies.

Now, back to the feds in Portland.

We know from their admissions that the feds compiled dossiers on numerous journalists covering their activities in Portland. We also know that some data in those dossiers came from public sources and some did not. The governmental acquisition of data from nonpublic, nongovernment sources without search warrants constitutes spying.

The government spies routinely on Americans today — so much so that the revelation of it ceases to shock.

Why would the feds do this?

For starters, it is far easier to spy unlawfully than it is to obtain a search warrant. As well, the feds have established a vast network of domestic spies — the 60,000-person strong National Security Agency. It captures all electronic data, voice and text, communicated within the United States — without warrants and with few complaints.

All this directly assaults the right to privacy, but the feds do it anyway. The spying is so normal that a deputy DHS secretary ordered it in Portland without seeking approval up his chain of command.

The government also spies to intimidate — and this brings us back to Portland. When the government discovers personal information that it has no right to acquire without a warrant — information devoid of criminal evidence, information that the Fourth Amendment bars the government from obtaining without a warrant — and then tells you it has this information, it chills your freedom.

Chilling can make you pause before exposing or criticizing the government. The Supreme Court has characterized this as a violation of both the Fourth Amendment and the freedom of speech protected by the First Amendment.

To Wolf’s credit, he either fired or transferred (it is unclear which) the deputy secretary who ordered DHS agents to spy on journalists in Portland. Yet, when ordered, they readily complied with the order. That’s how commonplace federal spying has become — and how easy.

The folks who did this should all lose their jobs. Why? Because it is unlawful to obey an unlawful order.

Or have our constitutional rights been so emasculated that the government doesn’t know the difference?

Andrew P. Napolitano [send him mail], a former judge of the Superior Court of New Jersey, is the senior judicial analyst at Fox News Channel. Judge Napolitano has written nine books on the U.S. Constitution. The most recent is Suicide Pact: The Radical Expansion of Presidential Powers and the Lethal Threat to American Liberty. To find out more about Judge Napolitano and to read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit creators.com.

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Quotes From Dead Guys

Posted by M. C. on October 17, 2019

…For we are opposed around the world by a monolithic and ruthless conspiracy that relies primarily on covert means for expanding its sphere of influence–on infiltration instead of invasion, on subversion instead of elections, on intimidation instead of free choice, on guerrillas by night instead of armies by day. It is a system which has conscripted vast human and material resources into the building of a tightly knit, highly efficient machine that combines military, diplomatic, intelligence, economic, scientific and political operations.

Its preparations are concealed, not published. Its mistakes are buried, not headlined. Its dissenters are silenced, not praised. No expenditure is questioned, no rumor is printed, no secret is revealed. It conducts the Cold War, in short, with a war-time discipline no democracy would ever hope or wish to match…President John F. Kennedy
Waldorf-Astoria Hotel, New York City
April 27, 1961

“The most urgent necessity is, not that the State should teach, but that it should allow education. All monopolies are detestable, but the worst of all is the monopoly of education.” – Frederic Bastiat

“Armies, and debts, and taxes are the known instruments for bringing the many under the domination of the few.” – James Madison

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Who Cares What the Government Thinks? – LewRockwell

Posted by M. C. on September 12, 2019

https://www.lewrockwell.com/2019/09/andrew-p-napolitano/who-cares-what-the-government-thinks/

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In 1791, when Congressman James Madison was drafting the first 10 amendments to the Constitution — which would become known as Bill of Rights — he insisted that the most prominent amendment among them restrain the government from interfering with the freedom of speech. After various versions of the First Amendment had been drafted and debated, the committee that he chaired settled on the iconic language: “Congress shall make no law … abridging the freedom of speech.”

Madison insisted upon referring to speech as the freedom of speech, not for linguistic or stylistic reasons, but to reflect its pre-political existence. Stated differently, according to Madison — who drafted the Constitution as well as the Bill of Rights — because the freedom of speech pre-existed the government, it does not have its origins in government. The use of the article the reflects that pre-existence.

The First Amendment also reflects the framers’ collective belief that the freedom of speech is a natural right. It has its origins in our human nature. We all yearn to speak free from restraint, and we all understand that we can use our speech to express any idea we want to express without fear or hesitation. Those yearnings and understandings are universal — hence, natural.

The framers wrote the First Amendment to codify negative rights. That is, the First Amendment recognizes the existence of the freedom of speech for every person, and it negates the ability and the power of Congress — after the Civil War amendments, of all governments — to infringe upon it. The First Amendment does not command Congress to grant the freedom of speech (it is not Congress’ to grant); rather, it commands that Congress shall not interfere with it.

Nearly all of the rights guaranteed in the Bill of Rights are negative rights. Their essence is not a grant of liberty. Their essence is a restraint on the government from interfering with pre-existing liberty.

I offer this brief understanding of the freedom of speech in our constitutional form of government as an introduction to a discussion of the dangers of government exercising free speech. We know from the plain language in and the history of the First Amendment that all persons have the freedom of speech. But what about the government? Does government have the freedom of speech?

That is not an academic question. The short answer to it is: Under the theory of the Declaration of Independence — that our rights come to us from the Creator and are inalienable — and consistent with Madison’s understanding, the government has no freedom of speech. Government only can exercise the powers we have given it. Nowhere in the Constitution did the states give such powers to the feds, and nowhere did the people give such powers to the states. We don’t elect government to identify ideas it loves or hates. We elect it to protect our freedoms.

Stated differently, who cares what the government thinks?

In San Francisco, one needs to care. Last week, the city government there condemned the National Rifle Association, labeled it a domestic terrorist organization and prohibited city agencies from interacting with it or with those with whom it interacts, because of the NRA’s robust defense of the Second Amendment. Can any government in America constitutionally do that? In a word: No….

Whatever one thinks of the NRA, the government has no business condemning it. Can it condemn McDonald’s as a health menace for selling fatty foods? Can it condemn pro-life groups as domestic terrorists for publicly attempting to dissuade young women from having abortions? Can it condemn young socialists for demanding confiscation and redistribution of property? Can it condemn the free press as a public enemy when the press criticizes it? The answer to all these hypotheticals (the last is not so hypothetical today) is: No. The First Amendment was written to keep the government out of the business of influencing the free market of ideas.

The whole purpose of the First Amendment is to encourage and foment open, wide, robust, unbridled speech about the government. Speech without fear or favor from the government. Speech without government interference. Speech without government challenge or reward.

In the most liberal city in America — where free speech was once sacrosanct — it is now subject to official government disapproval…

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Beginning of US Slavery – LewRockwell

Posted by M. C. on August 28, 2019

There are several challenges one can make about Hannah-Jones’ article, but I’m going to focus on the article’s most serious error, namely that the nation’s founders intended for us to be a democracy. That error is shared by too many Americans.

https://www.lewrockwell.com/2019/08/walter-e-williams/beginning-of-us-slavery/

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The New York Times has begun a major initiative, the “1619 Project,” to observe the 400th anniversary of the beginning of American slavery. It aims to reframe American history so that slavery and the contributions of black Americans explain who we are as a nation. Nikole Hannah-Jones, staff writer for The New York Times Magazine wrote the lead article, “America Wasn’t a Democracy, Until Black Americans Made It One.” She writes, “Without the idealistic, strenuous and patriotic efforts of black Americans, our democracy today would most likely look very different — it might not be a democracy at all.”

There are several challenges one can make about Hannah-Jones’ article, but I’m going to focus on the article’s most serious error, namely that the nation’s founders intended for us to be a democracy. That error is shared by too many Americans. The word democracy appears nowhere in the two most fundamental founding documents of our nation — the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution. Instead of a democracy, the Constitution’s Article IV, Section 4, declares, “The United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a Republican Form of Government.” Think about it and ask yourself whether our Pledge of Allegiance says to “the democracy for which it stands” or to “the republic for which it stands.” Is Julia Ward Howe’s popular Civil War song titled “The Battle Hymn of the Democracy” or “The Battle Hymn of the Republic”?

The founders had utter contempt for democracy. James Madison, the acknowledged father of the Constitution, wrote in Federalist Paper No. 10, that in a pure democracy “there is nothing to check the inducement to sacrifice the weaker party or the obnoxious individual.” At the 1787 Constitutional Convention, delegate Edmund Randolph said, “that in tracing these evils to their origin every man had found it in the turbulence and follies of democracy.” John Adams said: “Remember, democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There was never a democracy yet that did not commit suicide.” U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Marshall observed, “Between a balanced republic and a democracy, the difference is like that between order and chaos.”

The U.S. Constitution is replete with anti-majority rule, undemocratic provisions. One provision, heavily criticized, is the Electoral College. In their wisdom, the framers gave us the Electoral College so that in presidential elections, heavily populated states could not run roughshod over sparsely populated states. In order to amend the Constitution, it requires a two-thirds vote of both Houses, or two-thirds of state legislatures, to propose an amendment, and requires three-fourths of state legislatures for ratification. Part of the reason for having a bicameral Congress is that it places another obstacle to majority rule. Fifty-one senators can block the wishes of 435 representatives and 49 senators. The president, with a veto, can thwart the will of all 535 members of Congress. It takes a two-thirds vote, not just a majority, of both houses of Congress to override a presidential veto.

In addition to not understanding our Constitution, Hannah-Jones’ article, like in most discussions of black history, fails to acknowledge that black Americans have made the greatest gains, over some of the highest hurdles in the shortest span of time than any other racial group in mankind’s history. The evidence: If black Americans were thought of as a nation with our own gross domestic product, we’d rank among the 20 wealthiest nations. It was a black American, Gen. Colin Powell, who headed the world’s mightiest military. A few black Americans are among the world’s wealthiest. Black Americans are among the world’s most famous personalities.

The significance of this is that in 1865, neither a slave nor a slave owner would have believed that such progress would be possible in less than a century and a half, if ever. As such, it speaks to the intestinal fortitude of a people. Just as importantly, it speaks to the greatness of a nation within which such progress was possible, progress that would have been impossible anywhere else. The challenge before us is how those gains can be extended to a large percentage of black people for whom they appear elusive.

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The James Madison Passage They Keep Buried – LewRockwell

Posted by M. C. on November 18, 2018

https://www.lewrockwell.com/2018/11/thomas-woods/the-two-paragraphs-the-so-called-legal-experts-are-keeping-from-you/

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Tom Woods Show

Whitaker has made friendly remarks about nullification. This is not allowed, even though Thomas Jefferson said the states could nullify unconstitutional federal laws.

(No modern critic of the idea ever mentions Jefferson’s name. They’re afraid if we know Jefferson supported it, we peons might get ideas.)

CNN legal analyst Renato Mariotti offered these deep thoughts:

”‘Nullification’ was a legal argument made by Southerners before the Civil War who believed their states could ‘nullify’ federal law. That argument was discredited after their defeat in the Civil War, but it was made again by racists opposing desegregation. And now by Whitaker.”

I document the actual history of nullification in some detail in my book Nullification. Mariotti’s version reads like a third-grade essay, with a dash of Orwell.

On my podcast the other day I smashed Mariotti’s little lecture to smithereens.

In a later Tweet he berated Whitaker for his disparagement of judicial review.

Warned Mariotti: “The government could pass a law imprisoning journalists and no court could review it.”

Well, guess what: the government did pass a law like that, in 1798, and a lot of good the Court did. It was only at the state level that a spirit of resistance could be found.

Even if the Court had reviewed the law, what is the chance a bunch of robed Federalists were going to overturn the Alien and Sedition Acts?

And that, according to James Madison in the Report of 1800, is why we have state nullification: when the three branches of the federal government betray us — yes, even the demigods of the Supreme Court — the states have the final say.

guarantee you did not come across this passage in school, at any level: Read the rest of this entry »

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We’re All To Blame – LewRockwell

Posted by M. C. on September 13, 2017

Today’s Americans have little appreciation for how their values reflect a contempt for those of our Founding Fathers. 

https://www.lewrockwell.com/2017/09/walter-e-williams/were-all-to-blame/

The largest threat to our prosperity is government spending that far exceeds the authority enumerated in Article 1, Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution.

Where do you think Congress gets the resources for such spending? It’s not the tooth fairy or Santa Claus. The only way Congress can give one American a dollar is to use threats, intimidation and coercion to confiscate that dollar from another American. Congress forcibly uses one American to serve the purposes of another American. We might ask ourselves: What standard of morality justifies the forcible use of one American to serve the purposes of another American? By the way, the forcible use of one person to serve the purposes of another is a fairly good working definition of slavery… Read the rest of this entry »

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