Sunday, August 18, 2013

Get. This. Book.

This book.  Right here.  Get it.
Now you know what it looks like.
You have no excuses.
I remember driving to work the day after Obamacare passed.  I thought about the obnoxious Hillary Clinton pushing nationalized health care nearly 20 years earlier, and how widely -- and rightly -- derided she and her pure federal power grab were then.  I thought about this immense bill, read by nobody, containing God-knows-what, being ramrodded through Congress with little or no deliberation and without regard to what the American people thought about it.  I thought about the unconstitutionality, and even anti-constitutionality of this bill that purports to give the federal government sway over every crack and crevice of our lives, far beyond its constitutionally enumerated powers.  Driving through downtown Boise, I looked around at the shops and restaurants and other little businesses that line Main Street, and the people walking or biking or driving to work.  Everything looked the same as before.  But it was not the same.  The country was not the same.  The realization lay like a dead darkness on the heart.  A line had been crossed.  We had been edging closer and closer to that line for at least the last century, until the Reagan Era, when we retreated from it for a while; but then, after Reagan left office, we hurtled back toward it.  Now, on March 24, 2010, we had crossed it.  We had crossed over into territory that looked like the America we had grown up in, but really was not.

Of course, even the America that my Generation X grew up in was nothing like as free as the one the previous generation grew up in, which was nothing like as free as the one the generation before knew.  Thanks to the New Deal and the Great Society, the burgeoning administrative state was already going full bore by the time Generation X came along.  Now, as GenXers approach middle age, the statists no longer even bother with the rhetoric of liberty.  After decades of pushing abortion and contraceptives, breaking up the family, clearing the way for us to indulge our lusts without restraint, and training schoolkids in veiled Marxist ideology and the Marxist version of history, they consider it safe to proceed openly with their takeover of our lives, without caring what we think about it.  This is the judgment we have brought upon ourselves for scorning the laws of God and man, unmooring ourselves from our Christian and constitutional roots.

In other words, we had it coming.  But does that mean we should just give up, resign ourselves to the punishment, and let our nation be destroyed?  By no means.  Indeed, we have a duty to try to extricate ourselves from our current predicament, exhausting every lawful means available short of violence.  Mark Levin's new book, The Liberty Amendments: Restoring the American Republic, points out a solution that our Founding Fathers left us, foreseeing a day when the federal government would get to be too big for its britches.

Article V of the U.S. Constitution contains procedures for amending the Constitution.  It provides (emphasis added):
The Congress, whenever two thirds of both Houses shall deem it necessary, shall propose Amendments to this Constitution, or, on the Application of the Legislatures of two thirds of the several States, shall call a Convention for proposing Amendments, which, in either Case, shall be valid to all Intents and Purposes, as Part of this Constitution, when ratified by the Legislatures of three fourths of the several States, or by Conventions in three fourths thereof, as the one or the other Mode of Ratification may be proposed by the Congress; Provided that no Amendment which may be made prior to the Year One thousand eight hundred and eight shall in any Manner affect the first and fourth Clauses in the Ninth Section of the first Article [dealing with powers denied to Congress]; and that no State, without its Consent, shall be deprived of its equal Suffrage in the Senate.
Levin proposes a convention, called by two thirds of the states, for the purpose of proposing amendments to the Constitution.  This means of amending the Constitution has been attempted, without success, on numerous occasions, and currently lies dormant.  But the Framers included it, precisely so that the States could have recourse against a federal government run amuck.  The Article V convention is not a constitutional convention that makes the whole Constitution up for grabs: the Constitution itself does not provide for its own abolition.  But then, the Constitution is effectively already up for grabs, and has been for decades.  Large swathes of it, such as the Ninth and Tenth Amendments, have been completely laid waste; other parts, such as the Commerce Clause, have been distorted beyond all reason and sense until they are wholly alien to what the Framers intended.  The point of Levin's plan is to restore the Constitution as a guarantor of liberty instead of the curtailer of it that the statists have made it; to breathe life back into its now dead letters; and, above all, to restore the sovereignty of the States, and rescue them from their current status as mere vestigial appendages of the federal government.

Levin is careful to point out that his plan is not meant to be a panacea, or definitive.  His plan does not address important social and moral issues that could, and should, be the subject of proposed amendments to the Constitution, such as the legal personhood of the unborn and the definition of marriage.  Instead, though not incompatible with the foregoing, it focuses on systemic, root problems that have overthrown the Framers' carefully constructed system of checks and balances and led to the consolidation of tyrannical power in Washington and the diminution of individual liberty.  In broad outline, he proposes the following amendments:

-- Term limits on members of Congress

-- The repeal of the Seventeenth Amendment (popular election of Senators)

-- Term limits on Justices of the Supreme Court and supermajority legislative overrides of Supreme Court decisions

-- Restrictions on federal spending

-- Restrictions on federal taxation

-- Restrictions on the federal bureaucracy

-- Restrictions on Congress' power to regulate commerce

-- A requirement of compensation for regulatory takings 

-- Authority for the States directly to amend the Constitution

-- A State check on acts of Congress

-- A voter fraud amendment

Levin makes no bones about how difficult and time-consuming it will be to get a State amendment convention going; nor does he ignore the problem of blue States.  But, fortunately, the level of society where the process must start is also that which is most accessible to us: first ourselves, then our families and friends, then our local communities.  A huge part of the strategy of totalitarians is the isolation and atomization of individuals: to keep us at each other's throats by means of imaginary grievances; to abolish long-standing mores and traditions; and to remove any and all institutions -- family, Church, local government, State government -- that stand as a buffer between centralized government and the individual.  We need to begin the work of restoring these.  People who live in liberal-dominated wastelands like Detroit have got to decide they are tired of living in a hell-hole, and then do something about it; those of us whose cities do not yet look like Detroit need to decide we don't want to see ourselves heading in that direction, and do something to avoid it.  When we have turfed the liberal bums out of our local and state governments, and replaced them with politicians who revere the rule of law and the Constitution, the momentum toward a convention will grow.  We should not be deterred from having recourse to this method of amending the Constitution merely by the fact that it has never been done before, or by the fear of a runaway convention.  The reality right now is that we already have a runaway federal government, and something has got to be done about it, before it destroys us.

On the eve of the Battle of the Bulge, General George S. Patton said there are three ways men get what they want: planning, working and praying.  Some of us have been praying, and there needs to be a lot more of that going on.  Levin's book gives us a pretty good start on the planning.  Now is the time to start working.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

A Hole in Three in One

That's one less modernist stained-glass window!  Pic courtesy of Br. Peter Hannah, O.P.
Meet the Rev. Br. Peter Junipero Hannah, O.P., transitional deacon, who we hope will be one-sixth of the future founding fathers of Idaho's first Dominican priory.  The Bl. Margaret of Castello chapter just had Br. Peter come here and give us a world-class retreat, along with Fr. Vincent Kelber, O.P., whom we'd like to have as another Idaho one-sixther.  Despite the fact that it was late July, with temperatures at over 100, and our swamp cooler was not working very well, Br. Peter gave us conferences in full habit, including the heavy black cappa and capuce.  His talks were so good that he did not require the club to guarantee our undivided attention.

But Br. Peter wasn't always aware of a religious vocation, or on the track to the priesthood, to which he will be ordained next May.  He didn't even start out as a Catholic.  His prime ambition before entering the Catholic Church!

Read the whole story of how God plucked Br. Peter Hannah from the fairway and set him in The Way here.