Monthly Archives: August 2011

The Bill of Rights: Good, Bad, or Indifferent?

I brought up this topic months ago and had the opportunity to lead a discussion about it at the Arizona chapter of the Republican Jewish Coalition. Please join the conversation in the comments sections below.

Anti-Federalists demanded a bill of rights, BUT…

There was disagreement about what a bill of rights should contain. James Madison in Federalist No. 28 wrote about the Anti-Federalists opposition to the Constitution:

A third does not object to the government over individuals, or to the extent proposed, but to the want of a bill of rights. A fourth concurs in the absolute necessity of a bill of rights, but contends that it ought to be declaratory, not of the personal rights of individuals, but of the rights reserved to the States in their political capacity. A fifth is of opinion that a bill of rights of any sort would be superfluous and misplaced…

Some Anti-Federalists opposed the Constitution even after a bill of rights was promised. For them, a bill of rights was just a way to oppose ratification.

The Articles of Confederation had no bill of rights.

Four state constitutions, including that of New York, lacked bills of rights even though the states had been acting as independent republics for years.

Hamilton opposed a bill of rights

I go further, and affirm that bills of rights, in the sense and to the extent in which they are contended for, are not only unnecessary in the proposed Constitution, but would even be dangerous. They would contain various exceptions to powers not granted; and, on this very account, would afford a colorable pretext to claim more than were granted. For why declare that things shall not be done which there is no power to do?

Madison had a mixed opinion regarding bills of rights

There are many who think such addition unnecessary, and not a few who think it misplaced in such a Constitution… My own opinion has always been in favor of a bill of rights… At the same time I have never thought the omission a material defect… I have not viewed it in an important light.

In a letter to Jefferson, Madison lists four reasons a bill of rights was not needed:

because I conceive that in a certain degree… the rights in question are reserved by the manner in which the federal powers are granted.

because there is great reason to fear that a positive declaration of some of the most essential rights could not be obtained in the requisite latitude. I am sure that the rights of conscience in particular, if submitted to public definition, would be narrowed much more than they are ever likely to be by an assumed power.

because the limited powers of the federal Government and the jealousy of the subordinate Governments, afford a security which has not existed in the case of the State Governments, and exists in no other.

because experience proves the inefficiency of a bill of rights on those occasions when its controul is most needed. Repeated violations of these parchment barriers have been committed by overbearing majorities in every State… Wherever the real power in a government lies, there is the danger of oppression. In our Governments the real power lies in the majority of the Community, and the invasion of private rights is chiefly to be apprehended, not from acts of Government contrary to the sense of its constituents, but from acts in which the Government is the mere instrument of the major number of the Constituents.

Upon introducing the Bill of Rights, Madison said:

It has been objected also against a bill of rights, that, by enumerating particular exceptions 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 it may be guarded against. I have attempted it.

Madison attempted this with the Ninth Amendment:

The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

Discussion:

Did Madison succeed with the Ninth Amendment?

Were the arguments against a bill of rights valid then?

Are they valid today?

Have our rights been effected positively, negatively, or not at all by the Bill of Rights?

Should we focus the debate on protecting our individual rights or on limiting the government’s powers?

– Michael E. Newton is the author of the highly acclaimed The Path to Tyranny: A History of Free Society’s Descent into Tyranny. His newest book, Angry Mobs and Founding Fathers: The Fight for Control of the American Revolution, was released by Eleftheria Publishing in July.

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Another trailer for The Path to Tyranny

The Path to Tyranny book trailer

A roundup of reviews: ‘Angry Mobs and Founding Fathers’ and ‘The Path to Tyranny’

In the past two weeks, my books have received a number of positive reviews. Here’s a roundup:

Angry Mobs and Founding Fathers

Very Educational and Entertaining read

I picked up Angry Mobs and Founding Fathers as I had read Michael Newton’s previous book The Path to Tyranny: A History of Free Society’s Descent into Tyranny and really enjoyed it. His new book lives up to the same quality as the previous one and I would highly recommend both to anybody.

The book covers the social side of the American revolution and covered aspects of the whole thing that I was largely unaware of. The American revolution is often compared to the French revolution, with the American revolution being seen as the thinking mans revolution and the French revolution as the revolution of the mob. It was fascinating to see how close the grand American experiment came to becoming just another “also ran” mob based revolution and how the genius of the founding fathers prevented it descending into one.

I can’t recommend this book highly enough as a behind the scenes look at a time in history that came perilously close to going off the rails.

Superb Analysis, Enlightening!

This book provides excellent analysis of the founding of our nation. There is enough history to keep the story flowing, but the span of years involved could not possibly be covered in depth as pure history…the genius of this book is the political and economic and governmental/legal analysis. The author describes the angry mobs of our American Revolution, the leadership of the Founding Fathers, the course of the Revolutionary War (with a number of surprising facts accompanying the analysis), the weakness of the Articles of Confederation, the forming of our Constitution (and the author ducks no thorny subjects, for example there is extensive analysis of slavery), and the early years of the fledgling Republic. Many of the financial issues (central Bank, taxation, size and scope of government) are a “distant mirror” (to borrow Barbara Tuchman’s phrase) of our times. The analysis is crisp, thorough, and based on the evidence. The bottom line comes from Hamilton: “Liberty without government leads to anarchy while government without liberty leads to tyranny.”

Michael E. Newton has done it again.

Angry Mobs and Founding Fathers: The Fight for Control of the American Revolution is chock full of interesting facts, startling patterns, and answers to questions that were never raised in my social studies classes. Who knew that all of the colonists weren’t English? How could I have studied the revolution and never heard the name Apollos Rivoire? Of course western expansion needed the railroads to be developed first. Why didn’t anybody ever tell me that before?

If today’s Tea Party, by virtue of its very name, is a throwback to the angry mobs of yesteryear, who are the people who will step up to be our new founding fathers?

The angry mobs brought us a revolution. The founding fathers developed the miracle of our Constitution, to prevent that revolution from descending into chaos, anarchy and tyranny.

Michael E. Newton presents the American revolution and the twists and turns of the first decades of our country in a book that is readable and enjoyable, one that I wish I could have read years ago.

The Path to Tyranny

Past Futures by Ana the Imp

The Path to Tyranny is a lucid and compelling treatment of an important subject, one that should be of interest to all who value liberty… An important book that really does speak to the times, a book that holds up a Janus-like mirror to the present, showing past futures.

Read the whole lengthy review…

Counter Argument

This book was disturbingly amazing in its review of historical events. It is well cited and developed and even though the author writes from his own political perspective not even the most hardened leftist could argue the historical data presented in this book. That by itself is the most disturbing aspect of it. I can only hope that more and more Americans read this book and discover the path we are truly teetering on.

Be Very Afraid

Michael E. Newton’s THE PATH TO TYRANNY is a compressed and incredibly well-written and researched book. Let me warn you: it is more frightening than a Stephen King novel. Mr. Newton analyzes ancient and recent societies, explaining how they came about, how they prospered, and how they descended into totalitarianism and disappeared. Newton’s account of the rise and fall of the Roman Empire alone is worth the price of admission. The amount of facts and history he crams into the chapter is impressive. Same goes for Russia’s wild ride from absolute monarchs through revolution then communism, and Germany’s path from defeat in WWI through hyperinflation and the hapless Weimar Republic to Adolf Hitler.

By far the scariest, though, is Chapter 8: The United States of America. The parallels Newton draws from previous civilizations descending into oppressive autocracies to the path of the present day U.S. is frightening. Before they cratered, all the societies followed the same pattern: villification of the successful and redistribution of wealth through progressive taxation; expansion of government and bureaucracy; the rise of an exalted political class; promotion of pure democracy over the principles of a republic; the emergence of one person, a dictator or tyrant who crushes freedom and liberty with the promise to return the crumbling society to its former glory. Mr. Newton’s succinct final chapter about the U.S. includes a sub-chapter about the complexity of federal laws, which now include over 4,000 crimes defined and buried deep in the federal register, unknown to anyone until nabbed by a federal toady who cries “gotcha.” The sub-chapter is entitled “We Are All Criminals Now.” Bravo Michael E. Newton. Please tell us more.

Tea Party Tyrants

Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.) called the tea party “tyrants” in a tweet on August 7 because its members supposedly blocked a bigger and better deal from being approved.

Disregarding what effect the tea party had on the debt ceiling negotiations, there is absolutely no comparison between the tea party and tyrants. Aristotle writes:

A tyrant, as has often been repeated, has no regard to any public interest, except as conducive to his private ends; his aim is pleasure.

The tea party has not promoted a single idea to promote its “private ends.” Instead, it has promoted ideas that it believes would benefit the entire nation. Democrats may disagree with the tea party’s agenda, but it is ridiculous to assert that the tea party’s “aim is pleasure.”

I can hear the liberals complaining that Aristotle’s definition of tyrant is old and out-dated. Let’s turn to a more modern and American definition. A definition that was essential in the creation of the Constitution and our republican. James Madison wrote in Federalist No. 47:

The accumulation of all powers, legislative, executive, and judiciary, in the same hands, whether of one, a few, or many, and whether hereditary, selfappointed, or elective, may justly be pronounced the very definition of tyranny.

Let’s see here. The tea party controls none of the branches of government. In fact, the Republicans do not even fully control a branch of government. (They control half of the legislative branch and 5 of the 9 Supreme Court Justices could be considered Republican, but the Senate is Democrat as is the President.)

But James Madison wrote that more than two hundred years ago. Many liberals don’t think the Constitution and our Founding Fathers are relevant any more. So let’s check an even more recent definition, Merriam-Webster:

1
a : an absolute ruler unrestrained by law or constitution
b : a usurper of sovereignty
2
a : a ruler who exercises absolute power oppressively or brutally
b : one resembling an oppressive ruler in the harsh use of authority or power

Hmm, the tea party fits none of those definitions either. The tea party is not an absolute ruler, has not usurped the nation’s sovereignty, is not a ruler with absolute power acting oppressively or brutally, and is not an oppressive ruler acting harshly.

I’d be very interested to hear by what definition the tea party are tyrants.

– Michael E. Newton is the author of the highly acclaimed The Path to Tyranny: A History of Free Society’s Descent into Tyranny. His newest book, Angry Mobs and Founding Fathers: The Fight for Control of the American Revolution, was released by Eleftheria Publishing in July.

Obama the therapist

Our great President has taken up his new job as a therapist. Bloomberg reports that Obama said:

“We are going to get through this. Things will get better. and we’re going to get there together.”

I don’t know about you, but I’m feeling better already.

Jaywalking: Libertarianism in New York City

Everybody knows that New York City is a major center of liberal ideology. A number of New Yorkers decided to remind Glenn Beck of that fact a few weeks back.

But while the residents of New York think liberal, they often act libertarian. Just go to any Manhattan street corner. The government in its wisdom and kindness has install lights that tell the people of New York whether they are to WALK or DON’T WALK. Clearly, any liberal would tell you that such signs are necessary to create order and protect pedestrians from oncoming traffic.

But reality is very different. As half those signs glow DON’T WALK, dozens of people are crossing against the government’s advice. The people of New York realize that they don’t the government to tell them when to cross. They can just look for themselves, see if a car is coming, and decide for themselves. People don’t need the government to organize every aspect of their lives.

In the movie Keeping the Faith, the two main characters are waiting at a corner for a traffic light. The scene, meant to be a metaphor about life and faith, could also be a metaphor about politics and government.

 What the– Why are you standing here?

Oh, my God. You’re right. What am I doing? What am I doing standing here?

Sign hasn’t changed.

– Oh, my God. – This is New York City. Who waits for a sign?

What– Cross the damn street! What, do we all need signs to tell us what to do now?

God does not always give us a sign what to do. We certainly don’t always need signs from the government.

“Men must walk in freedom, responsible for their own behaviour.”  Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America

— Michael E. Newton is the author of the highly acclaimed The Path to Tyranny: A History of Free Society’s Descent into Tyranny. His newest book, Angry Mobs and Founding Fathers: The Fight for Control of the American Revolution, was released by Eleftheria Publishing in July.