Are the Founding Fathers too extreme? Is being an advocate for liberty or wanting to make the world a better place incompatible with military service? Somebody seems to think so. After filing a Freedom of Information Act request, an organization called Judicial Watch was able to obtain documents from the Department of Defense, which labeled the Founding Fathers as extremists and states, “participation in extremism is inconsistent with the duties of military service.” To be specific, it was the Defense Equal Opportunity Management Institute (DEOMI) which claimed in a January 2013 lecture on “Extremism”:
"In U.S. history, there are many examples of extremist ideologies and movements. The colonists who sought to free themselves from British rule and the Confederate states who sought to secede from the Northern states are just two examples."
The document further claims:
“Individuals who hold extremist views are in conflict with the standards expected of all military members, and participation in extremism is inconsistent with the duties of military service...”
“All nations have an ideology, something in which they believe. When a political ideology falls outside the norms of society, it is known as extremism. When extremists take their ideology to the next level and believe that it is the only right ideology to follow, it becomes supremism.”
My immediate questions involve trying to figure out who decides what the “norms of society” are and what do they mean by “taking it to the next level?” Does that mean holding a rally or protest? A letter writing campaign? Starting a petition?
But here is the really alarming statement in the document:
“Nowadays, instead of dressing in sheets or publicly espousing hate messages, many extremists will talk of individual liberties, states’ rights, and how to make the world a better place.”
In the twelve years after the terrorist attacks on 9-11 by Islamic militants, our nation has been engulfed in a Global War on Terror and we continue to seek out, identify and eliminate threats from extremists the world over. At this point however, it seems that extremism has been used so broadly that it can mean anything from a suicide bomber to the signers of our Declaration of Independence only because they signed a document highlighting the sanctity of individual liberty.
“Nowadays, instead of dressing in sheets or publicly espousing hate messages, many extremists will talk of individual liberties, states’ rights, and how to make the world a better place.”
-Department of Defense Document, January 2013
We need to understand the parameters this document has set. The document states that you become an extremist simply because your political ideology doesn’t fit the norms of society. Who, we should ask, is in charge of looking at the 300 million plus people in our country and gets to decide what the scope of normal is? How does the government establish whose ideas are normal and whose aren’t? From my understanding of history and the constitution, I have been under the impression that the 1st amendment was established to protect my right to express my ideology and thoughts and religion even if they were unpopular, or outside the “norms of society” if you will. Furthermore, the Department of Defense basically implies that those who advocate for states’ rights, a constitutionally identifiable mechanism of checks and balances, are also extremist.
Here is a real mind bender: the document states that, “Nowadays… many extremists will talk of individual liberties… and how to make the world a better place.” Huh? Lets follow the logic here. If the Department of Defense is setting policy for our military that identifies extremism as an ideology that falls outside the norms of society and they identify extremist behavior as those who advocate liberty and want to make the world a better place then it means that someone has already established that it is “normal” in our society for the majority of people to demonize liberty and to be so immoral as to not want to make the world a better place. What is going on at the Department of Defense that someone could actually get away with writing this? I believe just the opposite; the vast majority of Americans want to enjoy liberty and in fact want to make the world a better place.
Many people have always been under the impression, and rightfully so, that the point of American government was to protect liberty in an effort to make the world a better place. That might still be the case but apparently, someone has decided that the prevailing thought is something else. If you are in the group of people who still hold to the traditional, constitutional and liberty-minded school of thought, this document has branded you an extremist. According to this document, traditional American government and constitutionalism is now so far outside the scope of normal society that the Department of Defense must label it “extremism” and incompatible with U.S. military service. The irony here is that in order to become a member of the U.S. Military, one must still swear an oath to the Constitution, at least for now.
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"I consider the foundation of the [Federal] Constitution as laid on this ground: That "all powers not delegated to the United States, by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States or to the people." [10th Amendment]
To take a single step beyond the boundaries thus specifically drawn around the powers of Congress is to take possession of a boundless field of power, no longer susceptible of any definition."
--Thomas Jefferson: Opinion on National Bank, 1791
Among the first orders of business of the First Congress was the debate over establishing a bill of rights. Although the Constitution had made the separation and enumeration of powers very clear, the American people and the States wanted certain rights of the people to be explicitly stated within its text. After securing their independence from Britain, our Founding Fathers understood, better than anyone else, what freedoms a despotic and tyrannical government would attempt to take from the people.
The rights enumerated to the people in the bill of rights are those that are required to be exercised by the people if they are to retain their power over the government. For example, the inherent freedom of speech is one that any despotic government must take in order to control information. After all, knowledge is power; so whoever controls the dissemination of information has the power. Similar to the freedom of speech, the freedom of assembly, religion, and the right to bear arms and maintain a militia are all just as necessary to the people so they always have the means of establishing themselves as the ultimate authority over the government.
Not everyone believed that the bill of rights was necessary. For example, Alexander Hamilton believed that the structure of the Constitution was enough to bind down the federal government. He explains that the Constitution is set up so that the people of America “surrender nothing” by delegating powers to the central government. In that sense, Hamilton was right. Any federal legislation that falls outside of the confines of the Constitutional limits of Congressional power is by default unconstitutional; it is a breach of contract; it is an invasion of the sovereignty of the State or the States and the will of We the People. In Federalist No. 84, Alexander Hamilton uses the Preamble of the Constitution to explain that a bill of rights is not necessary. Hamilton wrote:
“[Our Constitution is] professedly founded upon the power of the people...Here, in strictness, the people surrender nothing; and as they retain everything they have no need of particular reservations. ‘WE, THE PEOPLE of the United States, to secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do establish this Constitution for the United States of America.’ Here is a clear recognition of popular rights...”
Hamilton then went on to reference several articles, sections, and clauses which did, in fact, identify the structure of the new government as one that protects the rights of the people. Hamilton’s main fear was that the enumeration of certain rights would lead to the belief that those certain rights were all the rights of the people and that they were granted by the benevolence of the government. In the end, the will of the people and the States led to the ratification of the bill of rights.
With one hundred proposed amendments supplied to Congress by the States, James Madison initiated the debate. Of the proposed amendments, only ten were selected for ratification as the people’s bill of rights. Two amendments chosen for ratification, the ninth and tenth, were designed to be solid reinforcements of the limited role of the federal government. These two amendments did not enumerate any rights to the people; rather, they were composed in a manner that identified the rights of the people as almost completely unlimited.
The ninth amendment to the United States Constitution was written to explain that the people have rights that go beyond what is expressed in the bill of rights, thus eliminating Hamilton’s fear that a bill of rights would be identified as the entirety of the rights of the people. The Ninth Amendment states:
“The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.”
The Ninth Amendment gives explicit attention to the protection of liberty by preventing the federal government from reaching beyond its delegated powers. In other words, the Ninth Amendment is saying “just because we list some of the people’s rights it does not mean that we have listed all of the people’s rights.” It also means, “all the rights of the people need to be protected but here is a short list of the ones that need special attention.” The Ninth Amendment is not a delegation of power; it is a statement of understanding The Ninth Amendment ensures the context of the bill of rights as a protection of the people’s liberty; not as granting the peoples liberty. James Madison stated this understanding as he proposed the bill of rights on the House floor when he said:
“It has been objected also against a bill of rights, that, by enumerating particular exception to the grant of power, it would disparage those rights which were not placed in that enumeration, and it might follow by implication, that those rights which were not singled out, were intended to be assigned into the hands of the general government, and were consequently insecure. This is one of the most plausible arguments I have ever heard urged against the admission of a bill of rights into this system; but, I conceive, that may be guarded against.”
Just as the Ninth Amendment is written to reinforce personal liberty, the Tenth Amendment is written to reinforce the limitations of the federal government by making it clear that undelegated powers belong to the people unless given by the people to the States or the federal government. Just in case the Preamble to the Constitution wasn’t clear enough; incase Article 1 Sections 3 and 8 were not made clear at all; in case Article 2 Section 2 and Article 4 Section 4 left the American people wondering whether the States or the federal government had more authority to govern the people, our Founding Fathers added one last reinforcement for State sovereignty. That last reinforcement of State sovereignty came with the ratification of the Tenth Amendment to the Constitution. The Tenth Amendment says that before Congress can act, it must point to one of their enumerated powers as the source of their authority; and if they do not have that power enumerated to them, then it is a power left to the people. The Tenth Amendment states:
“The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or the people.”
“All the powers we forgot to give the federal government and all the powers we forgot to tell the States they don’t have....those powers then, are by default, given to the States and to the people.”
“If they didn’t put it in the Constitution then they didn’t put it in Washington!”
It was America’s intent all along to keep the States free from intrusiveness that might someday come from an overbearing and tyrannical central government. Also, many people do not know that Article II of the Articles of Confederation, America’s first form of government, had a similar provision which clearly stated the same point:
“Each State retains its sovereignty, freedom and independence, and every power, jurisdiction, and right, which is not by this Confederation expressly delegated to the United States, in Congress Assembled.”
Much like the previous declaration in the Articles of Confederation, the Tenth Amendment to the United States Constitution defines the scope of federal power as only that power enumerated to the federal government by We the People. All power that is not enumerated to the federal government must necessarily remain with the States or the people. To further assure the American people of this limit on the federal government’s ability to intervene in their lives, James Madison wrote in Federalist No. 45:
“The powers delegated to the federal government are few and defined. Those which are to remain in the state governments are numerous and indefinite. The former [federal power] will be exercised principally on external objects, as war, peace, negotiation, and foreign commerce...The powers reserved to the several States will extend to all the objects which, in the ordinary course of affairs, concern the lives, liberties and properties of the people, and the internal order, improvement, and prosperity of the State.”
Should the people ever decide to enumerate any more power to the federal government, we can amend the Constitution to legally provide for that delegation of power. We have already discussed the amendment procedure which is detailed in Article 5 of the Constitution.
This is why we call it the federal government; because it is a federation of sovereign States. Governments exist on two levels in America: the defined sovereignty of the federal government and the indefinite sovereignty of the State governments. Madison referred to this when he said, “The powers delegated to the federal government are few and defined. Those which are to remain in the state governments are numerous and indefinite.” State Sovereignty is not unlimited, simply because the States have delegated some power to Congress. States do however have indefinite sovereignty because of the indefinite issues that exist outside of those powers delegated to Congress. James Madison, the Father of the Constitution and the drafter of the Bill of Rights, had this to say about the sovereignty of the States:
“[T]he government of the United States is a definite government, confined to specified objects. It is not like the state governments, whose powers are more general.”
By this point, we have come to understand that the United States Constitution is saturated with the idea of having sovereign States; free to exercise all the powers reserved to them outside of those delegated to the federal government. Not only have we found that the States have a larger array of powers but we have also found out that the federal government exist only for the benefit of the States so that they may enjoy domestic tranquility, a general welfare and have provided for them, a common defense. We have also discovered that the federal government, according to the Constitution prior to the ratification of the 17th Amendment, could only operate with the consent of the States. It is obvious, considering the principles outlined in the Declaration of Independence, that just as our government operates only with our consent for the protection of our rights, so does the federal government operate only with the consent of the States to protect the sovereignty of the States.
Copyright 2012 by Paul Curtman, All rights reserved. Don't Tread On Me! The Constitution and State Sovereignty. 2009
On August 5, 2011 the United States’ credit rating was downgraded for the first time in history from a perfect AAA to a less then perfect AA+. As this article is being written, the United States dollar happens to be the reserve currency of the world meaning, among other things, that the value of other nations’ currency is tied to the value of our currency. Some other nations, like China, were rather upset at our failure to take charge of our spending and debt problem with the passage of the recent debt deal. Why were they angry? For this reason: we basically told them and the rest of the world that we are a bad investment
Here is how it works. When China purchases a U.S. bond, what they are buying is debt. In other words, when China buys a $1 million dollar bond at 3% interest, they are letting us borrow $1 million but as we pay it back, we must pay them an extra 3%. That extra 3% is what it cost us to borrow the money; after all, China doesn’t want to give us $1 million dollars for free. This system works just fine until we borrow more money than we make and paying the money back to China becomes difficult. What is even more difficult is paying back that extra 3%. If we don’t pay the interest, China won’t give us any more money because, like I already said, they don’t want to lend money for free. The more debt we take on the less likely it is that we will be able to pay it back accordingly and thus the reason for a lower credit score; we simply cannot be trusted with borrowing money.
Here is how the downgrade hurts us. When AAA is stamped on all the IOUs (U.S. Treasury notes and bonds) then China knows that we are good for our debts and they have confidence that we will pay them back along with the interest. When the AAA rating gets downgraded to AA+, that is a signal to China that we might not be able to pay them back as well as we thought we could. China is not going to have much confidence that we will pay them back so they will be tempted to stop loaning us money. A big problem for us is that we still need to borrow money just to pay for all the commitments we have already made. This commitment includes both interest and principal being paid back to the lender. Since the lower credit rating is signaling to China that there is more risk associated with our bonds or debt, we must raise the interest rate in order to persuade China to buy them anyway. In essence, we are giving China a raise for loaning us their money in order to make them feel better about it.
Lets say that we offer China an extra 9% of the money they loan us. China might like the sound of getting 9% instead of a 3% return meaning that for every $1 we borrow, we would now have to pay back $1.09. Here is a big problem: if we borrow $1 but we have to pay back $1.09, where does that extra 9 cents come from? The answer is YOU and your children and then THEIR children.
Recently, the chairman of the Federal Reserve said that if needed, the Federal Reserve would buy America’s debt. This is what we call monetizing debt. Basically, we print our own money and buy our debt from ourselves: that way we have new money to pay off debtors like China. Recall how I said China was upset. When we monetize our debt we literally create money out of thin air and we use this new money to pay China. When we print money like this, we are inflating the supply of our currency, which brings the value of our dollar down. As we monetize our debt and make payments to China, each payment of $1 million is worth less than the previous payment of $1 million. In the end, China is angry and prices will go up as the amount of money in circulation increases.
The direct impact this has on you is that YOUR dollars are worth less. This means you have to spend more dollars to buy food, gas, clothing, cars. That is inflation, which is an indirect “tax” on each of you.
The only way to solve this financial problem is to cap the debt and cut the spending in an effort to balance the budget. Only then can we hope for financial stability. Some people say that we should not balance the budget. I really do not know why anyone would want to live in a country that can’t be responsible with the people’s money. Some people say that the government should spend more in order to stimulate the economy. This just doesn’t work.
The government is, by nature, a consumer and it doesn’t produce anything but rather it secures our safety and our liberty (or at least that’s what a legitimate government does according to our Declaration of Independence).The argument is that if we borrow money and use it on “shovel ready” jobs such as bridges and roads, then people will have work and money to spend in their local economy. The flaw in this thinking is that in order to assume this will work, one would have to assume that the health of the economy is directly related to the amount of dollars that can be pumped onto it. If the federal government really believed that “stimulus” packages and bailouts work, then they would have cut each American a check for $2500 instead of sending it to government and corporate fat cats to “stimulate” the economy.
The law of supply and demand for products is entirely left out of this theory of “stimulus”. However, assimilating our policy to those laws of economics are what drives production, lowers unemployment and facilitates the exchange of money through commerce and wages. This is why it is important for America to have manufacturing and production jobs. If we are a consumer nation and not producing anything, then we will always have to borrow money to buy things, which is exactly the box Washington D.C. has been putting this country in for decades.
Cutting spending is the other factor. This might be a good start: the U.S. should stop paying 22% of the United Nations’ budget. How about we start cutting some foreign aid that all to often winds up going to countries that are notorious for corruption, like Mexico? A few years ago we sent billions of dollars plus aircraft and small arms to Mexico to help them secure their southern border- forget about America right Washington?
How about we pull some of our troops back from Japan, German, Italy, Qatar, Thailand, Belgium and should I keep going? We are phasing out military cooks and military police and hiring private contractors and paying them hundreds of thousands of dollars to do what an 18 year old would love to do for a thousand dollars a month with full benefits and free travel around the world. We send billions of dollars to countries all over the world, we send them our jobs, and then we take the youngest and the brightest America has to offer, put them in military uniforms and send them too. All too often the money we send them is misused, abused and the troops we send around the world aren’t appreciated. This isn’t the only answer to the problem but it is a small part of the answer. We could also start closing unnecessary military installations both abroad and in the United States, or at least relocate them to the Mexico/U.S. border.
To reiterate: We spend billions taking care of other people around the world but put ourselves in situations where we have to raise our own interest rates to cover the cost of borrowing money from China just so we can take care of everybody else but ourselves. Then we are the ones who get stuck with the bill by paying higher interest rates with an ever-inflating supply of currency. It has to stop. I’m not by any means an isolationist but I think a little common sense would tell us to start putting America first if we want to have an America at all in the future.
I’m sick of this nonsense that operating for the self-preservation of our country and our freedom is illogical and not compassionate. People who feel the way I do about some of this have recently been described in the media as “zombies,” “cannibals,” and even “vampires” all because we want the madness to stop. Sorry mainstream media, but we aren’t the monsters; the real economic monsters are in Washington D.C banning light bulbs (Republicans), sending guns across the border to Mexico (Democrats) and raiding Amish and organic groceries to keep them from selling milk (Bureaucrats). Our elected leaders in the federal government opt out of nearly everything they force on us such as individual healthcare mandates and social security taxes but then turn around and opt into retirement benefits for life and we pay for all of that too. Meanwhile, back home, the rest of us are bracing ourselves for yet another round of economic beatings.