September 29th, 2008

Domestic Enemies of the Constitution


photo credit: Kier42

The oath of office for nearly every civil servant and military officer of the United States of America requires that the individual “support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic”. Just as in war it is important to know who your enemy is and what their strategy entails, so too in government is it important to know who our enemies are, and how they plan to attack.

While those in control of our government continually strive to make us aware of who our foreign enemies are, rarely will you hear a list of domestic enemies. Indeed, it is interesting to note that the individuals frequently reminding us of our foreign enemies’ identity are among those who might be labeled as domestic enemies of the Constitution.

The Congressional oath of office reads as follows:

I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. So help me God. (Emphasis added)

The oaths for federal judges and newly-commissioned military officers are the same. In sum, this means that millions of individuals have taken upon them such an oath. How, then, can so many people swear to defend the Constitution from its enemies, yet remain unaware as to who such enemies are and how they are to defend the Constitution from them?

Further, when the enemy is comprised of one’s neighbors, friends, business associates, fellow church-goers, or amiable, well-known individuals, how many people would uphold their oath to oppose them? And how many would ignore their oath when convinced that the individual in question is doing what’s best in any given situation?

Several decades ago, J. Reuben Clark spoke about the need for a solid support of the Constitution:

God provided that in this land of liberty, our political allegiance shall run not to individuals, that is, to government officials, no matter how great or how small they may be. Under His plan our allegiance and the only allegiance we owe as citizens or denizens of the United States, runs to our inspired Constitution which God himself set up. So runs the oath of office of those who participate in government. A certain loyalty we do owe to the office which a man holds, but even here we owe just by reason of our citizenship, no loyalty to the man himself. In other countries it is to the individual that allegiance runs. This principle of allegiance to the Constitution is basic to our freedom. It is one of the great principles that distinguishes this “land of liberty” from other countries. (J. Reuben Clark, via Quoty)

As President Clark indicated, by reason of our very citizenship we are responsible for maintaining the integrity of the Constitution. All those desiring to become citizens of this nation are likewise required to affirm with an oath that they will defend the Constitution from its foreign and domestic enemies. This is not an effort relegated to the high ranks of government; We the People are responsible for the eternal vigilance necessitated by the constant encroachment of the numerous hosts of enemies that seek to destroy and ignore the Constitution.

Who, then, are the domestic enemies of the Constitution? Few like to point fingers and accuse others of so heavy a crime, and yet every day there are more people taking oaths to affirm that they will do so. Before one may act in support and defense of the Constitution from such people, one must know who they are. The relative ignorance of the citizenry regarding such domestic enemies affords them a wide open door for their activities. Our Constitutional defense thus becomes nonexistent, and the enemy wins the day.

I believe that there are two basic groups of domestic enemies. The first and most obvious is the group of political opponents within our own government who pursue legislation and programs that are contradictory to the powers and principles embodied in the Constitution. These are the individuals who either refuse to acknowledge the Constitution at all, or speak praises about its importance in public, but in private act in a manner that contradicts its restraint. These enemies are not just those in power, however. Domestic enemies of the Constitution likewise include all those who support political officers who themselves are enemies of the Constitution. Anybody who rallies around such a banner (or plasters the bumper sticker on their car) shows through word (support) and deed (vote) what side of the field they are on. They, too, must be opposed, and exposed for the enemies of the Constitution that they are.

The second and more subtle group of Constitutional enemies are those who adhere to and advocate for a moral standard that rejects natural law, traditional morality, and Judeo-Christian values. Many of the Founders spoke of this situation, one of them being John Adams:

We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion. Avarice, ambition, revenge, or gallantry, would break the strongest cords of our Constitution as a whale goes through a net. Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other. (John Adams, via Quoty; emphasis added)

President Benson agreed when he said that “Constitutional government, as designed by the framers, will survive only with a righteous people.” These are the enemies that embrace legal positivism, sue for nihilistic libertinism, and seek after ways to avoid the consequences of their actions. As our Constitution cannot function with a people that reject the very principles upon which it was created (e.g. reverence for natural law and divinely-granted liberty), those who would defend it from its domestic enemies must work to promote the morality and righteousness necessary for it to remain efficacious as a restraint of power on elected leaders.

Whoever the enemy may be, what is important is that we 1) identify the individual or group, 2) demonstrate on what grounds they are opposing the Constitution, and 3) oppose their efforts through a counter-measure of our own. Indifference, apathy, or the benefit of the doubt do not help in supporting and defending the Constitution. If anything, seeing such widespread inaction likely emboldens the enemy and assures him an easy victory.

We are at war, and it is incumbent upon each of us to stand up and be counted. We must identify our enemies, not forgetting to look within our own ranks. Our success (and the Constitution’s) depends in large measure upon our ability to accurately identify the threats around us, prioritize them, and act appropriately and diligently.

126 Responses to “Domestic Enemies of the Constitution”

  1. Jeff T.
    September 29, 2008 at 8:53 am #

    I called somebody an enemy of our nation because he was voting for Obama. He wasn’t too happy about that. Is there a more tactful way to do this?

  2. Reach Upward
    September 29, 2008 at 9:09 am #

    Your fascism poster makes me laugh. It’s good parody, but we have to be careful conflating those with whom we disagree politically with fascists. There are yet several essential elements missing to make it actual fascism. It’s fine to warn, but we cheapen the definition of the word when we attack falsely.

    Our Founders also established a pluralistic society that strives to appreciate diverse interpretations of matters. We must be careful not to assign sinister intent to every political philosophy with which we disagree. And we must be careful about how we discuss the problems we have with other philosophies. Otherwise, we could end up like Sen. Joseph McCarthy, who made a name for himself by this method and severely (maybe permanently) damaged the cause for which he purported to stand.

    I once heard Rex E. Lee speak about the Constitution. He was perhaps the LDS Church’s greatest constitutional scholar. I was surprised at the amount of flexibility he seemed to allow for in constitutional interpretation. There may actually be validity to interpretations that differ from our own.

    I doubt that many of those that you view as enemies of the Constitution even remotely consider themselves as such. In fact, I’m sure that some view themselves as champions of the document.

    We must inform and fight for what we think is right. But we also need to be careful about how we go about doing this.

  3. Connor
    September 29, 2008 at 9:11 am #

    It’s good parody, but we have to be careful conflating those with whom we disagree politically with fascists.

    Agreed. I just thought it was a humorous image. :)

  4. rmwarnick
    September 29, 2008 at 9:23 am #

    It was President Bush who said, “Stop throwing the Constitution in my face, it’s just a goddamned piece of paper!”

    Many members of Congress violated their oath by supporting Bush’s crimes against the Constitution.

  5. William
    September 29, 2008 at 9:51 am #

    Interesting writing. So who defines enemies of the state? The Christians/Conservatives? Seems that by painting such a broad stroke to define enemies as

    The first and most obvious is the group of political opponents within our own government who pursue legislation and programs that are contradictory to the powers and principles embodied in the Constitution

    , only benefits one type of political viewpoint and would not tolerate any debate of our laws and/or constitution.

    The second and more subtle group of Constitutional enemies are those who adhere to and advocate for a moral standard that rejects natural law, traditional morality, and Judeo-Christian values. Many of the Founders spoke of this situation, one of them being John Adams:

    would only benefit Christ worshippers and seeks to be exclude many individuals.

    Our founders were very bright men of their day but if we defined “natural law” as it was in their day (by some, not all), we would have to institute 3/5 rule again and apply by it’s strictest interpretation.

    This vision for America would make the Taliban, Khmer Rouge, Chairman Mao & those that participated in the Salem Witch trials proud. Sounds like another attempt to establisting a theocracy.

  6. Jeff T.
    September 29, 2008 at 12:15 pm #

    William,

    The 3/5 rule had nothing to do with natural law.

  7. Adrien
    September 29, 2008 at 3:54 pm #

    Confidence in the markets may have deteriorated, but we should all feel a little more confident in democracy today. This must have been the first time Congress has said no to the Executive branch on something of substance, since this administration began. This is the most conflated we have seen the Democratic Administration and the Republican Congress since I have been old enough to vote. Wait, the other way around on that conflation. Well, let the finger-pointing commence.

  8. Clumpy
    September 29, 2008 at 10:49 pm #

    Yeah, too bad they talked up the bailout so long, fulfilling their own promise of a massive stock market drop when it failed to pass. The stock market operates only on people’s predictions of the future, a future Bush fulfilled when he told everybody that things would go to Hell in a handbasket if he didn’t get his way.

    I might not vote this election. I was behind McCain halfheartedly when he at least matched many of my political preferences (generally Conservative, but against torture and for amnesty for illegal immigrants), but he’s waffling on both issues now. (He voted against banning torture methods earlier this year and is changing his mind on immigration now.

  9. Janet
    September 30, 2008 at 12:42 pm #

    Connor,
    Again another excellent post and thanks for the email. I posted it on my blog upon receiving your permission: http://janetwalgren.wordpress.com/2008/09/30/solving-the-economic-crisis/
    I heard that Obama’s two top economic advisers were behind the financial melt down of Fannie and Freddie. How is it that these guys never get the boot or go to jail? I feel certain that the enemies of the Constitution and our liberty commit wide scale treason on a daily basis. The Gaddiantons are alive and well.

  10. ji
    September 30, 2008 at 8:44 pm #

    Thanks to Reach Upward for post no. 2 — a voice of patience and reason. We Latter-day Saints need to remember that we’re a minority, and we don’t want others calling us un-American or enemies of the Constitution because we have differing ideas or priorities. Let’s support and defend the Constitution, and learn about it and teach about it, but let’s not characterize other good Americans with different approaches or viewpoints as enemies or fascists or anything else that an unbiased observer would label as un-Christian. And again, we’re the minority, not the majority (I don’t live in Utah). We must work within our Constitutional framework, and that means working and living in a pluralistic society.

    Hurrah for a pluralistic society! It allows me to be a Christian and a Latter-day Saint.

  11. Connor
    September 30, 2008 at 8:50 pm #

    We Latter-day Saints need to remember that we’re a minority, and we don’t want others calling us un-American or enemies of the Constitution because we have differing ideas or priorities.

    This isn’t about differing viewpoints, which are acceptable and encouraged within the framework of established moral law. This is about policies and actions which explicitly and unabashedly conflict with the Constitution.

  12. Jeff T.
    September 30, 2008 at 10:17 pm #

    I was talking to someone about a law that, in both rhetoric and intent, explicitly violated the search and seizure amendment. He said, “Well, it only violates it according to interpretation.”

    My response: If the constitution can be interpreted so loosely that such a law could be conceivably considered in agreement, why not just throw the constitution out? It ain’t doing us any good. It isn’t telling us which laws are allowed and which aren’t. Because any judgment as to whether a law violates it “is just your interpretation.”

  13. Carissa
    October 1, 2008 at 7:54 am #

    Jeff- that’s what schools teach people to do, sadly. I remember wondering the same thing during 9th grade. All the assignments regarding the constitution were up to our interpretation. There was no “wrong”, therefore there was never a “right”.

    Latter Day Saints are in a unique position in that upholding the constitution and seeing it as divinely inspired is part of our doctrine. Others who are not of our faith (and even some who are but are unaware of this doctrine) may not see it that way. Some may genuinely think the constitution was made to evolve and adapt in any way we see fit. We have an obligation to stand up for it and defend it in the same way we stand for moral values or anything else we believe in. In our casual conversations with others, it would probably help our cause to not treat them like enemies. I certainly do believe, though, that there are real enemies out there (especially in high places) who actually desire the destruction of our constitution.

  14. ji
    October 1, 2008 at 11:36 am #

    Jeff,
    That’s right — it does depend on interpretation — the writers are long-dead, and their unwritten assumptions are unwritten. So of course, we MUST interpret the Constitution.
    Some see the Constitution as approaching scripture, and that belief colors their interpretation. Some see it as inspired, but definitely not scripture, and that belief colors their interpretation. Some see it as the work of good (and maybe even inspired) men, and that belief colors their interpretation. Some see it as the work of good men, and that …. And some actually see it as the work of evil slave-holding women-oppressing men, and that ….
    And even within these groups, there are differences of interpretation — even among those Latter-day Saints who hold the Constitution as almost scripture, there is plenty of room for differing interpretations. At least, that’s how I see it.

    Connor and Carissa,
    You both write of evil persons who are enemies of the Constitution, but you don’t name names. Based on what you write, I’m unable to discern who the enemies are. But I do recall that in the mid- and late-1800’s, many other Americans saw Latter-day Saints as enemies of the Constitution because of views on marriage and local government. Teach of constitutional principles and encourage people to adopt one’s mode of interpretation, that’s good — but to me, it appears unkind and fruitless (maybe even counter-productive) to paint those with whom one disagrees in the realm of public discourse and policy as enemies of the Constitution.
    As a Latter-day Saint myself, I think the Constitution is working exceptionally well. I do see people who have differing attitudes than me, and I sometimes think they’re going too far and I wonder where they’re coming from, but I’m not ready to call them enemies of the Constitution. For the time being, I appreciate my privileges of citizenship in this great country.

  15. Connor
    October 1, 2008 at 11:38 am #

    You both write of evil persons who are enemies of the Constitution, but you don’t name names.

    That part’s easy. Every Congressman (or woman) supporting the bailout bill. Or supporting universal health care. Or supporting the Federal Reserve. (I could go on.)

  16. Clumpy
    October 1, 2008 at 2:51 pm #

    Constitutional enemy is as Constitutional enemy does. We all break minor laws from time to time (some even intentionally), but few of us are considered full-blown criminals. As the Constitution is pretty much the paramount law of the land, it’s probably best to strongly educate people as to the importance of taking it seriously than it is to throw around the “enemies” label.

    The ignorant and apathetic are the strongest unwitting enemies of the Constitution and always will be – not the politicians but the citizens who support illegal law.

  17. ji
    October 1, 2008 at 2:59 pm #

    Oh, my — every Congressman supporting the bailout bill is an enemy of the Constitution? No, Connor, you cannot be serious — but maybe you are — there’s a fringe among any society of people — I appreciate your blog’s purpose of convincing others that you’re right, and you quote freely from a lot of dead prophets, but I hope you and other readers will appreciate that not all Latter-day Saints agree with you — and not only the uneducated or uninformed among us. I consider myself very well educated on the Constitution and the intentions of the Founding Fathers, and I’m one of those who is under oath to protect and defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic, and I’m a Latter-day Saint — and it’s my opinion that while you may be quoting dead prophets correctly, you’re erring in you application of their words. And I claim their words to be as much a part of my heritage and right as you.

    Anyone supporting universal health care is an enemy of the Constitution? No, and I say this as one who is himself opposed to universal health care as is being discussed. I disagree with those folks on the other side, but kindness and respect forces me to stop short of calling them enemies of the Constitution. Ad hominem attacks are unkind.

  18. Carissa
    October 1, 2008 at 3:07 pm #

    ji- do you think the oath should be rephrased to remove the “ad hominem” attack? Do you think enemy is too strong a word?

  19. Connor
    October 1, 2008 at 3:10 pm #

    …and it’s my opinion that while you may be quoting dead prophets correctly, you’re erring in you application of their words.

    Here’s a simple chain of logic:

    1. The Constitution grants specific, enumerated powers to the federal government.
    2. Any action outside the scope of the powers granted is an arrogation of delegated authority, and thus in conflict with the Constitution.
    3. An enemy, simply defined, is someone who opposes or undermines your efforts.
    4. Therefore, an enemy of the Constitution is anyone who pursues policies or programs that fall outside of the specific powers they’ve been granted under the document.

    These steps are so simple, I really have a hard time understanding why anybody who professes to support the Constitution can disagree that things like universal health care or bailing out private financial firms are in direct opposition to the enumerated powers granted to the federal government.

    I disagree with those folks on the other side, but kindness and respect forces me to stop short of calling them enemies of the Constitution. Ad hominem attacks are unkind.

    Ad hominem? I’m sure that many of these people are kind and genuine. That does not mean that the actions they support are in harmony with the Constitution.

    Look, I understand that many perceive “enemy” to be a strong word. That’s probably one reason so many shy away from fulfilling their oath to defend the Constitution from domestic enemies. But that doesn’t mean it’s ad hominem to call a spade a spade.

  20. Connor
    October 1, 2008 at 3:39 pm #

    Another point of clarification: labeling someone as an enemy does not imply a necessitated attack or offensive action. But the proper identification of incorrect philosophies is crucial.

    I’m a firm believer in the principle that the best way to defeat your enemy is to make him your friend. Of course, that doesn’t always work, and in defense and when necessary, violent action is justifiable in order to deter the enemy’s advances.

    But in the political realm, I’m a big advocate of education and debate in order to point out to people the “incorrectness of their traditions”, inasmuch as I know them.

    Enemies are best defeated (or, preferably converted) through persuasion, not projectiles.

  21. ji
    October 1, 2008 at 7:11 pm #

    The Primary song goes, “Jesus said love every one, treat them kindly too…”. I think it is unkind to call someone with a differing view of Constitutional interpretation an enemy of the Constitution.

    And yes, it is ad hominem — if you want to debate the merits of any particular policy approach, that’s good — but labeling those who differ with you as enemies of the Constitution is unfair.

  22. Jeff T.
    October 1, 2008 at 7:17 pm #

    How is it unfair, if they REALLY ARE?

    Jesus didn’t always speak kind words to people. You know that. Nor have the prophets since ages past. They loved everyone, though.

    And enemy is not an unkind word.

  23. Jeff T.
    October 1, 2008 at 7:18 pm #

    Consider: the other day, I was talking with someone who said, “I don’t think it matters what the Constitution says. Why do we have to abide by a silly piece of paper?”

    This person is an enemy of the constitution. He may be a good person, yes, but he is still an enemy to the constitution.

  24. ji
    October 1, 2008 at 9:49 pm #

    I’ll pray for you guys…

    In the meantime, if you really believe most of our Government officials (including most of the Senate, who today passed the bail-out bill) are enemies of the Constitution, when are you going to start the revolution to kill or otherwise remove these enemies? Are you waiting for the heads of the Church to start the holy war? I know you like to quote the Book of Mormon a lot in regard to these enemies, and the Book of Mormon consistently has the heads of the Church in its day leading the wars against evil. Are you disappointed that the heads of the Church haven’t already started the war?

    I know you disagree with some policy decisions made by the “majority” in recent years, and you think our republic is wholly and fundamentally a failure, but I disagree. I think the United States is still the greatest country in the world, warts notwithstanding, and the bulwark of freedom and Christian principles. The heads of the Church haven’t taught me to adopt fear-mongering or despair or hatred (or maybe I just haven’t gotten it). We need to protect ourselves from cultural pollution and sin and we need to work within our Constitutional framework to help build a safe and just society, but I cannot avoid thinking how unkind and uncharitable it is to label people who have different policy and interpretation approaches in our pluralistic society (where we’re in the minority) as enemies of the Constitution — such ad hominem labelling makes it impossible to work together for the common good. Surely you would be offended if someone else adopted your tactic and called you an enemy of the Constitution? Remember, we have to work with these people for the common good.

    Go back and sing the Primary song in your minds — and sing it out loud, even — you might find it a helpful exercise.

  25. Connor
    October 1, 2008 at 10:15 pm #

    …when are you going to start the revolution to kill or otherwise remove these enemies?

    You apparently missed the comment above about non-violent opposition. Who said anything about killing? Yikes…

    Are you waiting for the heads of the Church to start the holy war?

    I’m not waiting for anybody to initiate violent aggression.

    Are you disappointed that the heads of the Church haven’t already started the war?

    Are you nuts?

    …and you think our republic is wholly and fundamentally a failure…

    Our Republic was a great success. But we have a democracy now, and yes, it’s a failure. Democracies always fail.

    I think the United States is still the greatest country in the world…

    In what sense? I’d mostly agree with this assessment, but would ask the question: in which direction are we heading? Are we overall becoming greater?

    The heads of the Church haven’t taught me to adopt fear-mongering or despair or hatred (or maybe I just haven’t gotten it).

    If reading this and other blog posts has led you to believe that I and other like-minded folk are using fearmongering, despair, or hatred, then I would venture to say that your ability to discern leaves something to be desired…

    …I cannot avoid thinking how unkind and uncharitable it is to label people who have different policy and interpretation approaches in our pluralistic society (where we’re in the minority) as enemies of the Constitution…

    I can’t avoid thinking how dangerous it is to not label things as they are. Is the work of Satan a different interpretation of God’s will? Does a rapist have a different interpretation of appropriate sexual behavior? Certain things can and should be labeled for what they are, despite the perceived ad hominem such a label may imply.

    Surely you would be offended if someone else adopted your tactic and called you an enemy of the Constitution?

    I would welcome the opportunity of being shown how my positions contradict anything in the Constitution. Honestly.

    Remember, we have to work with these people for the common good.

    Says who? I happen to agree with Joseph Smith: kick them out of office. How’s that for working with them?

  26. ji
    October 1, 2008 at 11:02 pm #

    Well, like I said, I’ll pray for you…

    I’m finished here — I hope any readers of these exchanges will appreciate that some Latter-day Saints (or at least one) see things differently than you, and that your thoughts don’t reflect LDS thought generally. The way you quote the Book of Mormon and words of dead prophets in support of unkind and uncharitable pronouncements is deeply troubling to me — but thank goodness the living prophets aren’t supporting you…

    If you want to have the last word, you may…

  27. Carissa
    October 1, 2008 at 11:24 pm #

    ji- I think you are overreacting just a bit. The overall point of this post is that it’s important to identify the domestic threats to our constitution so we are better prepared to oppose those threats and defend and uphold the document. The oath of office words these threats to the constitution as “enemies”. Connor then uses this official wording, clarifying an “enemy” to be someone who opposes or undermines and saying the best way to defeat these political “enemies” is through persuasion and education. If the word enemy offends you, feel free to substitute any less-bold synonym of choice here and the message remains the same.

  28. Jeff T.
    October 2, 2008 at 6:43 am #

    Consider, ji —

    The oath uses the words domestic enemy, but if we are unable to identify who that applies to, then, well, the oath is just a bunch of meaningless words. Why can’t we clarify what is meant by those words?

  29. john f.
    October 2, 2008 at 11:56 am #

    Connor, can you remind me where the phrase “enemies foreign and domestic” that you have highlighted in the oath comes from?

  30. Connor
    October 2, 2008 at 12:41 pm #

    Connor, can you remind me where the phrase “enemies foreign and domestic” that you have highlighted in the oath comes from?

    From what I can tell, the sentence itself was included after the civil war (when “loyalty oaths” became a popular thing to do). But the first oaths had verbiage regarding supporting the Constitution, which, in my opinion, inherently implies defending it from its enemies as well. The oath was later changed to explicitly mention this provision, but I think it’d be just as potent without it.

    If you know of any details, I’d love to hear ‘em.

  31. john f.
    October 2, 2008 at 1:17 pm #

    Is that phrase in the oath as contained in the Constitution?

  32. Connor
    October 2, 2008 at 1:19 pm #

    Article VI, Section 3 of the Constitution requires Congressmen to take an oath or affirmation to support the Constitution. It does not mandate the language that should be used in that oath.

  33. john f.
    October 2, 2008 at 1:32 pm #

    So perhaps the phrase “enemies, domestic and foreign” was not within the intent of the framers.

    Swearing an oath to uphold the Constitution by no means implies any one set of policy preferences or principles. My substantial reading of the founders does not lead me to believe that they would collectively find supporting “universal healthcare” as a policy goal to make one an enemy of the Constitution. In fact, in my reading of the founders I have found incredible diversity in political, philosophical, and policy ideas to be espoused among that group. Moreover, surveying the landscape of American political history, I find that people as diverse in their views as Thomas Jefferson, Andrew Jackson, Teddy Roosevelt, or Ronald Reagan were not “enemies” of either the Constitution, the American people, or the country.

  34. Jason
    October 2, 2008 at 2:18 pm #

    Wow, this has been a fun thread.
    As a latter day saint I am thankful to have prophets seers and revelators leading the church. Joseph Smith, Brigham Young, Ezra Taft Benson, and Gordon B. Hinkley may be dead, but unless the current prophet has come out and said that their words are not correct I will stand by them till the end.

    There will always be a group that points a finger of scorn from the great and spacious building, claiming all is well in zion, but I believe that most of the members of the church are waking to the awful situation that we are in right now.

    One day when our liberties have been flushed down the toilet people like Ji will try to explain to his children how we the people allowed ourselves to be lured into this mess.

  35. ji
    October 2, 2008 at 3:20 pm #

    john f., be careful — you’re sharing words of wisdom and common sense but you might soon find you’re not among kind, charitable, or Christ-like people here… Since you allowed that a person might support universal health care in our pluralistic society, you’ll likely soon be labeled an an enemy of the Constitution yourself or as an “all is well in Zion” stooge… I allowed that it was unkind to call someone an enemy of the Constitution for having a different approach to Constitutional application, and I still believe it cheapens the discourse to use such ad hominem attacks, and you can read how I’ve been received…

  36. Carissa
    October 2, 2008 at 3:51 pm #

    perhaps the phrase “enemies, domestic and foreign” was not within the intent of the framers

    Perhaps. I don’t think the exact words really matter as much as the idea behind them. The constitution mandates an oath be taken to support it. Everyone who takes this oath will have to decide for him/herself what that means and you’re right about how that will vary with each person’s interpretation and understanding.

    Swearing an oath to uphold the Constitution by no means implies any one set of policy preferences or principles

    No, but it could certainly mean excluding some of them. The philosophies of communism, anarchy, and socialism, for example, are incompatible with our constitution. Universal healthcare, in my assessment, is incompatible with the constitution because the constitution doesn’t grant the federal government the power to be involved in it. I see federal involvement in education or retirement (social security) the same way. I guess we all have to draw our own lines of what threatens/opposes the constitution. Where would your lines be drawn?

  37. Carissa
    October 2, 2008 at 4:24 pm #

    ji- since you kindly gave us the advice of singing primary songs to ourselves (great idea by the way, thanks) I’ll give you some advice in return. Stop being offended so easily, get over your issues with the word “enemy” (which didn’t originate here), and contribute your ideas of how you think we can better defend the constitution. That is, IF you think it’s threatened in any way. I can’t really tell by your comments. We may not agree in every way, but I think we could at least find some consensus since we all love this country.

  38. ji
    October 2, 2008 at 5:54 pm #

    Carissa,

    Here’s my advice — thanks for asking — clearly articulate your policy differences and debate why your opinions on all these different matters best serve the commonweal, without labelling as enemies of the Constitution those fellow citizens who have different approaches to policy solutions or Constitutional interpretation. Using that label is unkind and uncharitable, and it offends your opponents as well as kind-hearted people who otherwise might be sympathetic to your side. Use solid truth and logic to persuade, rather than fear-mongering and name-calling. Labelling a fellow citizen of our great Republic as an enemy of the Constitution for a differing viewpoint, as I have written before and cannot “get over” it because it is true, is unkind and uncharitable, and is unbecoming those who otherwise call themselves Christians and Latter-day Saints. That term, enemy of the Constitution, is charged and negative and derisive (and most likely untrue).

    Remember, the Constitution belongs to all Americans, not exclusively to the Latter-day Saints. Even granting that God inspired the document (but without defining “inspired” in any specificity), that same God allows and intends for that document to govern Latter-day Saints, Lutherans, Roman Catholics, Jews, Jehovahs Witnesses, atheists, and all other citizens of our great Republic.

    Rise above the bitterness — okay, so some policy decisions are going contrary to where you want them to go — in a pluralistic society, this must be expected and accepted. And some people have a differing view of Constitutional approaches and interpretation, and they might prevail now and again — in a pluralistic society, this must be expected and accepted. Neither the majority nor minority side on any matter of debate should start calling names, and “enemy of the Constitution” is a hateful name. And hateful name-calling, and all expressions of hatred, are unkind and uncharitable.

  39. Bill
    October 2, 2008 at 9:57 pm #

    The oath of office requirement in the Constitution was essentially an oath for elected officials to swear to “follow the rules that we have all agreed upon.” It was not a call to respond with violence to anyone who didn’t.

    Aside: I find it interesting that in the movie “The Rock” a Navy Seal mis-quoted the oath saying “defend this country” instead of “defend the Constitution”.

    Interpretation is not the key. It is knowledge, belief, understanding, and acceptance of the Constitution as the final authority in this country. It is not an interpretation of some meaningless words twisted to mean anything to fit our agenda.

    We have the notes of discussion from the Constitutional Convention to gain better understanding of why each article was written the way it was. We have both the Federalist Papers and the Anti-Federalist Papers to explain the reasons for the language of the document and the weaknesses in it.

    As Franklin said,”From such an Assembly can a perfect production be expected?” but added,”I am not so sure that it is not the best”.

    Also remember two statements regarding the freedom this Constitution guarantees.

    “What type of government do we have, Mr. Franklin? a monarchy or a republic?” — “A republic, madam, if you can keep it.”

    Regarding the Constitution, George Washington said,”It’s only keepers, the people.”

    As Connor pointed out, we no longer have a republic. But he incorrectly pointed out that we have, instead, a democracy. I believe we have an oligarchy. How else can we explain that this bailout bill will eventually pass when it is overwhelmingly unpopular with the people? And how many of the current representatives and Senators are going to be voted out next election for voting against the will of the people?

    The media sways the uneducated (which is most of America) into whichever paths their bias lies. The keepers of the Constitution have never read it and keep voting in the lesser of two evils, or worse, knowingly vote for the evil of their choice.

    Aristotle said — the sign of an educated man is one who can entertain a thought without accepting it.

    By this definition, I believe I have come across literally 4 or 5 individuals in my entire life who are truly educated. Everyone is so entrenched in their ideas and agendas that they don’t even look at facts. Even when presented with a fact, they choose to ignore it, or even deny it is a fact because it destroys their paradigm.

    Yes, we were supposed to be a pluralistic society, in that we were to have open discussion and open debate with differing points of view. But political correctness, media bias, popular ignorance, and governmental actions have made open and honest debate impossible. People use these tactics so they don’t have to admit that a fact will destroy their paradigm.

    So, my questions to both Ji and Connor are these:

    1) How can we expect the Constitution to survive when it depends on a moral and a religious people — and yet the people of this country are a godless, and morally bankrupt people, completely ignorant of the intent of the Founders? Many so called religious people are the worst of them (LDS are no exception — look at Harry Reid, or my parents).

    2) Can WE THE KEEPERS of the Constitution do our duty when
    a) Most have never read it.
    b) Many say it is “just a silly piece of paper”.
    c) So many are ignorant of what blood, sweat, and tears
    that went into creating it.
    d) Not even all the Saints are aware that it is a divinely
    inspired document.

    3) How is a written document of any importance at all when all you have to do is interpret it any way you want in order to have it meet your purposes?

    4) When those who take the oath of office have never read it, how can we credibly claim to have a constitutional government at all?

    6) When we can’t even agree on what constitutes an “enemy of the Constitution”, how can we protect it from such enemies?

    I have read my share of books both classic and modern. But the language of the Declaration and the Preamble are words that still bring tears to my eyes when I reflect upon all the history before and since.

    The only other times I have been so struck were with a few passages of scripture and with the “honest man/dishonest man” speech in “Little Britches” (this last one shows that you don’t have to be fancy to be eloquent).

    My fellow Keepers,

    I feel like Mormon watching his nation dissolving before his very eyes with a knowledge that there is nothing we can do about it.

    The only things that keep me going right now are

    1) The knowledge that Pres Hinckley said before he DIED (another dead prophet, Ji) that trials lie ahead. But the Lord will be at the helm. And if we have faith, we will be blessed in the end.
    2) A misguided notion that I should believe in the apocryphal prophecy about the “American Independent Party”.

  40. Clumpy
    October 2, 2008 at 11:24 pm #

    The way that things are, I’ve ceased stopping for the Pledge of Allegiance when they play it on my college campus. To yield to a symbol with all of this other stuff going down seems almost insulting – not to the country itself but to the Platonian model of good government and rule of law that we should hold paramount.

  41. john f.
    October 3, 2008 at 2:44 am #

    1. Re # 37, “Universal healthcare, in my assessment, is incompatible with the constitution because the constitution doesn’t grant the federal government the power to be involved in it.”

    I would be interested to see your analysis of why universal healthcare is incompatible with the Constitution. The genius of the United States Constitution is that it does not lay out everything that can and cannot be done in terms of policy and governance choices. The constitutions of many countries are hundreds of pages long. Our Constitution is short and concise in laying out a broad framework of government in an elegant separation of powers — and says nothing about universal healthcare nor about whether the federal government can or cannot legislate in relation to the health of the citizens and visitors to this country.

    2. Re # 40, “As Connor pointed out, we no longer have a republic. But he incorrectly pointed out that we have, instead, a democracy. I believe we have an oligarchy. How else can we explain that this bailout bill will eventually pass when it is overwhelmingly unpopular with the people?”

    If the assertion is true that the government’s emergency buy-in bill is overwhelmingly unpopular with all of the people of the United States, then the explanation for why legislators elected by those people might end up supporting it contrary to the desires of their constituencies on this point (again, assuming it is true that a majority of people in the country are against it, which I don’t believe is sufficiently established by the evidence at this point) is simple: it is a manifestation of our Republic. In a republic, and specifically in our Republic, legislators elected by the people enact laws, rather than the people themselves. An instance in which elected legislators who are accountable to their constituencies through regular elections vote contrary to the will of their constituencies on one issue or another is primary evidence that the governmental system is a Republic after all.

    One thing is clear, the United States of America is not now and never has been a “democracy” in the sense that has been used on this thread (although in broad terms our country and any other country in the world that broadly follows in our constitutional footsteps is loosely considered a “democracy” in a general sense because the people elect their leaders and to differentiate these types of governments in a broad category as contrasted with dictatorship) because we elect representatives to legislate on our behalf. Even the direct election of senators, which is one of the major sticking points for people partial to some of the arguments that Connor has been making on this thread and on this blog more generally, does not cause the United States to cease being a Republican form of government by any means.

    3. re # 31, if it is true that the phrase “against all enemies, foreign and domestic” was added to the oath after the Civil War, as you suggest, then a proper reading of the intent behing the addition (assuming you’ve already cleared the hurdle that such an addition would be in harmony with the intent of the Framers, assuming that a diverse group of people such as the Framers had any single intent and that if they did, you or anyone else could find out what it was with a high enough degree of certainty to never stray from it) would need to take account of that Civil War context. In that context, it would most naturally be understood as referring to people who raise an army against the United States for purposes of sedition or secession. It seems highly unlikely that the phrase, given its Civil War genesis, could conceivably have been meant by its Framers to refer to people who support legislation in the realm of healthcare or other areas that many consider to be in the legitimate purview of an elected government in an industrially advanced and therefore professionally stratified society.

  42. Jeff T.
    October 3, 2008 at 6:40 am #

    John f.,

    10 Amendment: “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 to the people.”

    Federal government was given only a short list of enumerated powers in the constitution. Beyond those, it had no other authority. The rest was to be reserved for the states, or to the people.

    Thus, as you say that health care is not mentioned in the constitution, it is therefore not within the scope of the federal government.

  43. Carissa
    October 3, 2008 at 6:49 am #

    John F- As Jeff just mentioned, my “analysis” is very simple and you hit on it well:

    Our Constitution is short and concise… and says nothing about universal healthcare

    Most people defend the government’s involvement in a number of areas through the general welfare clause. I hear arguments like, “if healthcare doesn’t fit into the category of general welfare, I don’t know what does”. Visit Connor’s other post about that. The answer is pretty clear to me.

  44. Bill Mevecky
    October 3, 2008 at 6:56 am #

    1read of a poll taken awhile back that asked the question; ‘Do you believe the United States will still be here by 2076, our 3 hundredth birthday?”

    70 % of the respondents said “No”.

    The people no longer admire the police, they fear them.

    As demonstrated in Eldorado, there is no more Constitution, Due Process, or Civil Rights.

    We no longer take the moral high ground in war, and George is doing his very best to bankrupt this Country.

    6 months after the “Party” thrown on the Flds, 304 children were quietly freed from captivity with no explanation of why they were taken in the first place, and most of the US stood by and just watched like they did at WACO.

    I don’t know who will be leading the free world in the coming decades, but I know we’ve already allowed them to take it from America.

    At long last, the lawsuits are now being filed, and it’s my fervent hope that the FLDS bankrupt the State of Texas, right down to Doran’s underpants.

    Bill Medvecky

  45. Carissa
    October 3, 2008 at 7:05 am #

    assuming that a diverse group of people such as the Framers had any single intent and that if they did, you or anyone else could find out what it was

    Look, they all agreed on the final wording of the document. So things that are incompatible with the document could safely be said to be outside their intent. We could safely say that they agreed with the premise of the 10th amendment (or else why did they include it?), that government shouldn’t have any powers not listed in the constitution unless an amendment is ratified by the people to grant it. If there are fuzzy areas of the constitution itself, we have, as Bill suggested, references such as the Federalist Papers to help us clarify.

  46. john f.
    October 3, 2008 at 7:09 am #

    So your basis of argument on the healthcare point is a Tenth Amendment argument?

  47. Carissa
    October 3, 2008 at 7:49 am #

    I’d love to hear why the 10th amendment doesn’t apply.

  48. john f.
    October 3, 2008 at 8:04 am #

    I agree that the argument is pretty standard.

  49. ji
    October 3, 2008 at 3:11 pm #

    This posting uses universal healthcare as an imaginary example — it is one of the notions that has been posited here as unconstitutional. This is just an example proferred in answer to the question of what does a person do?

    Q. A congressman considers introducing or supporting universal healthcare legislation. That individual congressman apparently considers universal healthcare as constitutional, but you disagree on constitutional (tenth amendment) grounds. What do you do?

    A. You petition your congressman to re-consider (either on constitutional reasons or public policy reasons), petition your senators to vote against the bill, and/or campaign for a new congressman at the next election.

    Q. The Congress passes a universal healthcare bill and sends the bill to the President. The Congress as a whole apparently considers universal healthcare as constitutional, but you disagree on constitutional grounds. What do you do?

    A. You petition the President to veto the bill, and/or campaign for a new President at the next election.

    Q. The President passes the bill. The President apparently considers universal healthcare as constitutional, but you disagree on constitutional grounds. What do you do?

    A. You challenge the law in court if you have standing, citing your tenth amendment objections. If you don’t have standing, you join or otherwise support someone else’s suit.

    Q. Your suit (or someone else’s) comes to trial. The court decides against your suit. The court apparently considers universal healthcare as constitutional, but you disagree on constitutional grounds. What do you do?

    A. You appeal to a higher court, and/or petition the Congress to repeal the law.

    [And, if I might add, in all of the above you maintain your dignity as a citizen of the Republic and as child of God. And we teach our children the importance of dignity and respect to our Constitution and constitutional processes. In all I’ve written here, this is the most important to me.]

    All of the above is the constitutional approach envisioned by the Founding Fathers. The process still works. To protect the Constitution, the Founding Fathers designed this system of checks and balances: If one house of Congress passes an unconstitutional (or otherwise unsound) bill, the other house can reject it. If both houses pass an unconstitutional (or otherwise unsound) bill, the President can veto it. If the President signs an unconstitutional bill into law, the courts can overthrow it. If the courts don’t overthrow it, then it’s constitutional, even if any particular citizen somewhere in the country disagrees.

    If we get universal healthcare, I suppose it will be through the constitutional process above, and therefore universal healthcare will be constitutional. Even if I oppose universal healthcare, I will accept the resulting condition as constitutional (and I’ll explain this to my children). There are no enemies in any of this imaginary example. If there are any enemies to our Constitution in real life, we have laws and means to punish traitors and criminals. If you know of any of these people, please report them to the authorities — but remember, in the eyes of the rest of us, they’re innocent until proven guilty.

    Our great Republic is alive and well. Our Constitution is alive and well. Hurrah for the United States of America! Hurrah for our Constitution!

  50. Bill
    October 3, 2008 at 4:21 pm #

    John,

    Your analysis of the way a republic operates is incomplete. You misunderstand why we have the two house system in the way we do.

    The Senate and the Presidency were to act like you described and become the political “aristrocracy” of our country. They were to be educated, capable men of character that would be able to make informed difficult decisions without considering the will of the people. That’s why they had such long terms. Senators were originally appointed by state legislature, not elected by the people. The president was elected through the electoral college. These mechanisms shielded them from the will of the people.

    The House was to be made of representatives that would reflect the will of the people whether correct or not. The reps were to get the pulse of the people on every major issue and even bring bills to the attention of the people. Then he was to vote as the people dictated. That was why they only had 2 year terms and originally only had a constituency of 30,000 people. There was no way to hide from their constituents. They HAD to do exactly as their constituents wanted.

    The reason for this was that if both the common man and the aristocracy agreed on an issue, it was probably good legislation.

    I understand if the Senate behaves the way you describe. That’s the way it was supposed to be. But the House is not supposed to ignore the will of the people.

    I called my representative and asked how many people phoned in. –Too many to remember without looking it up.

    I asked what the breakdown was for or against. –About 2/3 against.

    I clarified the situation to the assistant on the phone. “So what you’re saying is that even though about 2/3 of his constituency is against this bill, he is still sending out e-mails saying how proud he is of the pork he has added to the bill and how he –WILL NOT QUIT– until the bill gets passed , and he is proud to have the backing of his constituents?”

    Yes.

    DID YOU HEAR WHAT I JUST SAID???

    Of course.

    NO YOU DIDN’T. I just said that we are NOT behind him on this by YOUR OWN NUMBERS. And all he can say is that he is glad we are behind him? WE ARE NOT BEHIND HIM ON THIS. And I will make sure he doesn’t get re-elected.

    Thank you for calling. . .

    On his website is an announcement of the passage of the bill with some self-aggrandizement on his input into the bill.

    What tore me up was how he is still thanking his constituents for all the support we offered him.

    NO JOHN, they are not supposed to be THIS disconnected.

  51. Bill
    October 3, 2008 at 4:44 pm #

    Ji,

    You stated that the Constitution is still functioning and that our Republic is still alive and well.

    The Constitution is only functioning on the skin of its teeth. We have the forms of government, but none of the functionality of the original intent of the founders.

    1) We the people have no way to redress our grievances. Just read my conversation above with my representative’s office. The courts just throw out any such cases unless the media happens to make a big deal about it. And have you ever tried to talk to a senator or the President?

    2) Because the three branches of government agree doesn’t mean it is Constitutional. In this case, it simply means that enough people were willing to “break the rules” or their oaths of office. Ron Paul and maybe a couple of others even considered the Constitutionality of the law. I know the President thinks of it as a @#$%^& piece of paper. The Supreme Court is constantly voting 5-4 on ANYTHING and is rarely involved in judicial review anymore. How can you really say that the Constituion is alive and well when most of the elected officials either haven’t read it, or don’t care about it, or both.

    3) When the government is this far out of control AND out of touch, we the Keepers are powerless to do anything about it because if we followed the process that you outlined, we must either have as much money as Mitt Romney or we’d be broke before we got a few steps into the process.

    By taking the ceiling off the number of constituents a representative had, we essentially gave him a place to hide. Couple that with the two party system and he has even more of a shield. Am I really going to keep him from being re-elected? Maybe, but only because I live in a battlground state. Even so, 10,000 like-minded people in my district may not be able to do it.

    After the exchange between the Supreme Court against the Roosevelt and Congress over the New Deal, the Supreme Court lost the power to do anything about the economy–even if it was unconstitutional. Notice that no one has even bothered to ask the Supreme Court if the bailout is Constitutional?

    You’re still willing to say our Republic is alive and well and functioning under the Constitution?

    Tell that to the families of Ramos and Campion.

  52. ji
    October 3, 2008 at 5:52 pm #

    Yes, I still say it — Hurrah for the United States of America! and Hurrah for our Constitution!

    I regret any disappointment you might feel, Bill, when you haven’t prevailed in matters of policy. Maybe as the pendulum swings over time, you’ll find things to more to your liking. That’s often how things work in a pluralistic society like ours.

    I’m not here to debate any particular Government policy. I started posting here to offer a rational voice to offset the unkind voices that were labelling others as enemies of the Constitution. I believe in kindness. And yes, even though I deplore certain cultural happenings in our country and even though I disagree with some policy matters we’ve adopted as a country, I still think the Constitution is working. And I thank my God in my prayers for our great country.

    I don’t know Ramos or Campion, but if they’ve been hurt, I feel sorry for them.

  53. Jeff T.
    October 3, 2008 at 7:04 pm #

    How can the constitution be working, if it isn’t doing what it was designed to do? It was designed to prevent the government from doing the things it is presently doing.

  54. ji
    October 3, 2008 at 9:02 pm #

    But you see, my friend, the Constitution is working. It is doing what it is supposed to do. It gives diverse citizens in a pluralistic society a framework that allows us all to work and live together.

    The Constitution doesn’t prohibit improvident decision-making, it only provides the framework for decision-making with no one person or faction making all the decisions and citizens leaving peacefully together without cutting each others throats. On any matter, some people will prevail and some others won’t — there will NEVER be a unanimous decision of all 300-Million-plus Americans. So we elect leaders, and they make hard decisions for us.

    Is there a potential for corruption? Maybe, but that reflects on dishonest men rather than a non-functioning Constitution. Is there a difference of opinion on how to interpret (or, if you prefer, how to apply) the Constitution? Yes, but doesn’t reflect a non-functioning Constitution. Are Catholics and Presbyterians and Lutherans and Latter-day Saints and Jews and atheists and _____ living peacefully together and governing themselves civilly? Yes, and this does reflect a functioning Constitution

    And those fellow Americans who have differing ideas on substantial policy matters are not all enemies of the Constitution, they’re our neighbors. There might be a few traitors and criminals among them, but hopefully they’ll be caught and punished. But people who support the bail-out or universal healthcare or the “other” side on any public policy issue are fellow Americans who see things differently, and if they’re in the majority, they’ll likely prevail. This is as it should be.

    Where one sees trends over time that are troubling, perhaps like an increasing police state atmosphere, they should raise their concerns in constructive dialogue and maybe, once in a while, in protest. But he or she shouldn’t try to scare people into fearing that our great Republic is a failure and that our government is controlled by evil enemies of the Constitution. Neither of these are true right now. At least, that’s how I see it.

    And I say this as a citizen of our great Republic and also as a Latter-day Saint with faith in God. I really believe it.

  55. Connor
    October 3, 2008 at 9:06 pm #

    Ji,

    All of the above is the constitutional approach envisioned by the Founding Fathers. The process still works.

    What is a “constitutional approach”? If you mean to say that any action conducted by the three branches of government established by the government becomes Constitutional simply because the Constitutionally-created government entities have done them, then you and I have a very different understanding of what a written Constitution is intended to do.

    If Congress created a bill to order the termination of life of all women who had freckles, would the “resulting condition” be valid simply because the “process” is functioning? Hardly.

    Our great Republic is alive and well. Our Constitution is alive and well. Hurrah for the United States of America! Hurrah for our Constitution!

    Wow. I mean, really. Just wow. Smacks of a bit of “all is well in Zion”.

    I’ll give you one single example illustrating that neither the Republic nor the Constitution are “alive and well”: the Patriot Act. This single piece of legislation has nullified most of the Bill of Rights. No, Ji, despite your hurrahs, neither the Republic nor the Constitution are doing well. You can keep chanting if you’d like, but few would agree with your assessment.

    Maybe as the pendulum swings over time, you’ll find things to more to your liking. That’s often how things work in a pluralistic society like ours.

    See, now here you’re describing a democracy: whoever is in power sets the rules. No mention of the rule of law, proper role of government, or justice. Just “ah, shucks, you got the short end of the stick this time.. maybe you’ll have better luck in the future!” So much for good government.

    I started posting here to offer a rational voice…

    Heh.

    I believe in kindness.

    I believe you can kindly call somebody a domestic enemy of the Constitution. You might envision and vein-popping, fist-pounding castigation made in a passionate fury, but I don’t believe that that needs to be the case. Having a reasonable discussion and demonstrating how one’s belief conflicts with the Constitution does not inherently imply unkindness. Trying to be kind in every way leads to tip-toeing around sensitive issues and ceding ground where a line must be drawn.

    It is doing what it is supposed to do.

    Oh, really? Then please point out where in the Constitution the Congress is authorized to delegate its power to another branch of government (namely, giving the President the authority to declare war). Please point out where the federal government is given the authority to set policies in the education of children. Please point out where authority exists for the Federal Reserve. Where is the provision to create a NASA, FDA, or UN?

    …[the Constitution] only provides the framework for decision-making…

    No, it doesn’t only do that. It also gives specific and limited powers to the federal government, stating that any powers not granted to it are denied it. You’re missing this crucial point.

    …there will NEVER be a unanimous decision of all 300-Million-plus Americans.

    Who is talking about or advocating unanimity? In a Constitutional Republic, you have established laws which control what future decisions are made. Even though many Americans may want something (such as social security or universal health care), that doesn’t mean that they are entitled to receive it from the federal government. Unanimity is irrelevant. If 100% of Americans wanted something that was clearly against the Constitution (say, like having a foreign national becoming the President), does that mean we should let it happen since we all agree?

    Is there a potential for corruption? Maybe…

    Maybe? Oh come on, are you saying that you can’t think of a single instance in which something blatantly un-Constitutional occurred in the federal government? Seriously? Nothing?

    …but that reflects on dishonest men rather than a non-functioning Constitution.

    The Constitution becomes nonfunctional when we refuse to obey its dictates. A written document does not “function” on its own.

    And those fellow Americans who have differing ideas on substantial policy matters are not all enemies of the Constitution, they’re our neighbors.

    Please get over the idea that any difference in opinion can simply be dismissed as “differing ideas on substantial policy matters”. If you believe that Congress should pass a law banning free speech, would your “differing idea” not be in direct conflict with the first amendment? And would you thus not be properly labeled as an enemy to the Constitution. You’re quest for kindness has, I believe, blinded you to obvious and blatant realities.

  56. ji
    October 3, 2008 at 9:27 pm #

    I prefer kindness and faith to fear-mongering, despair, and hatred.

    I also believe in being subject to kings, rulers, magistrates, and in honoring and sustaining the law.

    If Congress passed a law probiting some element of free speech [or polygamy, for example] and the President signed it and the court of last resort upheld it, then yes, that law would be constitutional. At least, until the Congress or courts changed their minds or the people amended the Constitution.

  57. Connor
    October 3, 2008 at 9:31 pm #

    I prefer kindness and faith to fear-mongering, despair, and hatred.

    Who here has advocated fearmongering, despair, or hatred?

    I also believe in being subject to kings, rulers, magistrates, and in honoring and sustaining the law.

    To what end? And do you sustain immoral laws? You didn’t answer my example about the freckled women; your refusal to admit that certain laws are un-Constitutional (even when passed by the bodies of government created by the document) is mind-boggling.

  58. Bill
    October 3, 2008 at 9:46 pm #

    Ji,

    I agree with the notion that not all the people in Washington are “enemies of the Constitution”. I even agree that MOST are not enemies of the Constitution. I believe a few are. But I cannot agree that the Constitution is functioning as it should be. And I cannot agree that the republic is doing what it should.

    Remember that the whole point of the oath of office is to have the elected officials agree to the rulebook (the Constitution).

    It is not just about people in a pluralistic society getting along and joining hands singing kum-by-yah. It is about people in power as well as the populous agreeing to what the rules are. I believe that if people are genuinely ignorant of the Constitution or don’t really care, that is one thing. But I don’t believe that is going on.

    I believe that many are knowingly sinning against the light. They know and understand the Constitution, but for their own motivations choose to go against it.

    When the President himself calls the rulebook a piece of paper; when the average person has never even read it; when those who are true keepers of the Constitution say what a great idea it would be if we followed it are derided and osticized; and we who are critical of actions we feel violate our rights are said to be fanatics, fearmongers, and unpatriotic (which is what i infer from your comments) how can we credibly say we are following the rules? And if we don’t follow the rules, how can the rules (the Constitution) be said to be functioning?

    If we actually had a difference of opinion in how the Constitution may be interpreted, then let that be part of the debate. This is why I appreciated your take on the process (continually berating the 10th amendment). And I appreciated the responses and treatise on general welfare. But everything else you said is based on the promoting of a pluralistic society rather than honest difference of opinion on how to apply the rules that we’ve agreed to.

    A pluralistic society can function and thrive under the Constitution –maybe. But when the pluralism goes so far that we don’t even have a common basis of discussion, then that divided house will fall.

    When the founders framed the Constitutuion they all agreed that slavery was evil. Many believed a necessary evil, but evil nonetheless. Even the slave owners believed that.

    By the time the Civil War came around, many — those in power — no longer believed Slavery to be evil. A civil war resulted. Those who don’t learn from history are destined to repeat it.

    Those who don’t learn from history are destined to repeat it.

    But maybe . . .

    Maybe the 2nd amendment is a collective right and not an individual right.

    Maybe freedom means that the government needs to take over everything and the time of the free market has run its course.

    Maybe we’re so weak that the government needs to do everything for us.

    Maybe we ought to just keep spending like there’s no tomorrow and not worry about when our creditor nations come to collect.

    Maybe it’s ok that you only pick on the arguments you find a twisted weakness in and ignore the good points that you cannot argue with.

    Maybe we shouldn’t let the facts get in the way of our opinions.

    Maybe the best way to be Keepers is to pretend all is well in Zion.

    Maybe Jesus himself was a sinner because he wasn’t “nice” to the money-changers in the temple and the pharisees who tried time and again to trip him up.

    Maybe we should continue to cower under the authority of Kings, Presidents, Rulers, etc. in ignoring the highest law of the land in favor of the passage of laws that continually erode our liberties.

    Maybe we shouldn’t be having this dicussion at all because it is fearmongering and hate speech.

    Maybe this is just too serious and we will all fall in a pit of despair because we see the truth and a lie is better because it fills our pocket books and lets us think happy thoughts.

    Maybe we should take a $700B aspirin to cure the headache caused by the brain cancer of government telling us what to do for our own good instead of going throught the chemotherapy of another depression that might get government out of our lives and restore good government.

    I’d like Ji to consider — maybe not.

  59. Jeff T.
    October 3, 2008 at 9:52 pm #

    actually, ji, it would be unconstitutional until the people amended the constitution. The constitution forbids it, thus if the law passes, it would be unconstitutional and remain so until the that passage that forbids it is removed from the constitution.

  60. ji
    October 3, 2008 at 10:03 pm #

    Sorry, fellas, I won’t be drawn into your traps — I prefer simply to be honest. And honest readers of these exchanges will know which of us is closer to truth.

    I still recommend the Primary song to you. See post no. 22.

  61. Bill
    October 3, 2008 at 10:15 pm #

    That’s it?

    You haven’t said anything yet.

  62. Connor
    October 3, 2008 at 10:19 pm #

    Sorry, fellas, I won’t be drawn into your traps…

    Ah, the mark of an ill-founded argument. Fare thee well, all-is-well-in-Zionist.

  63. Bill
    October 3, 2008 at 10:21 pm #

    BTW, Ji
    Ramos and Campion are two border security guards that were falsely accused of being racists against Latinos and perfoming criminal acts because of it. They were convicted and put in prison with the general prison population and have undergone tremendous atrocities at the hands of other prisoners because they were former law enforcement officers.

    After this was brought out in the news, it all of a sudden became blatantly obvious that they themselves were Latinos and probably weren’t racist against Latinos.

    Once the race card was no longer in play, the procecution leaked the fact that the evidence and testimonies they had against them were all fabricated.

    Even after that, they have remained in prison for over a year. They sit there still today as political prisoners of George W. despite legal efforts on their behalf and being in the news.

    I can’t believe you are so clueless you’ve never even heard their names. But that would explain why you believe our Republic is alive and well.

  64. ji
    October 3, 2008 at 10:40 pm #

    Sorry, Bill — you used my words to mock your Savior and God in your post no. 59. Shame on you.

    But for Jeff T., in a purely hypothetical and abstract and academic sense, you can be right that a certain law might be unconstitutional all along, but we’re still a nation of laws — and we don’t allow a single citizen to determine a law unconstitutional and thereby unenforceable across the country — we rely on the Congress, the President, and the courts to do that. And if they all agree its constitutional, then for all realistic and practical purposes, it is.

    Connor, if the point of blogging is drawing out divergent ideas, you’re successful. Remember, though, that the Prophet Joseph Smith once cautioned, after observing a debate among elders, against “too much warmth manifested, too much zeal for mastery, too much of that enthusiam that characterizes a lawyer at the bar, who is determined on victory right or wrong.”. He further counseled the debaters to “improve their minds, and cultivate their powers of intellect in a proper manner, that they might not incur the displeasure of heaven, that they should handle sacred things very sacredly, and with due deference to the opinions of others, and with an eye single to the glory of God” (Nov. 18, 1835). I recommend these thoughts to you.

  65. Bill
    October 3, 2008 at 10:53 pm #

    Out of EVERYTHING I said, that is the one thing that you use to nullify all the other arguements I’ve made?

    To be honest, I thought you were being sarcastic when you brought up this Primary song in such a serious debate. I was just tagging along. If you honestly felt that to be sacriligious, I apologize. If you were only saying that to win a debate point, shame on you.

    After all you’ve said, I don’t see any argument showing the errors in our logic or evidence. All you’ve done is spouted off some pedestrian quotes and ridiculed. But you’re the one telling us not to anger heaven and have respect?

    Attack the argument, not the person. That is what that quote from Joseph is about. But you haven’t. And you refuse to admit any points that we have made that you consider reasonable.

    I HAVE admitted that just because you aren’t a friend of the Constitution doesn’t mean you are an enemy. I believe there are many who are neutral. I even admit there is logic in your comment to Jeff. (comment #65)

    But you have not even addressed the issue of agreeing to a set of rules. If we can’t even come close to agreeing to a set of rules how can there even be any rules? If we can’t even come close to agreeing on what the Constitution means, how can there really be said to be a functioning Constitution?

    It is one thing to quibble over details. But to have such disparate and mutually exclusive “interpretations” we are a house divided. It is not just one person or a hundred or a thousand, but millions across the country that agree. But we are a minority. The mojority disagree with our interpretations. But they also disagree with each other. All they do agree on is that entitlement is better than freedom.

    I feel like one of my Born Again friends telling me that I believe in a “different Jesus” than they do. Do we believe in a “different Constitution” than those in Washington?

    It must be so. If so, how do we fix that? Do we just abandon our beliefs in a good government?

  66. Bill
    October 3, 2008 at 11:06 pm #

    I also apologize for saying you were “clueless”. That was a personal attack and shouldn’t have a place in a reasonable debate forum.

  67. ji
    October 4, 2008 at 12:10 am #

    Bill, re: your 66. The problem with your insistence on a set of rules is that there is no one single interpretation or definition of the rules — yes, the rules are written — but I you or I disagree on what a particular sentence should mean, who wins? You? Me? Nancy Pelosi? I won’t vote for your interpretation (or definition) and you won’t vote for mine. And neither of us will vote for Nancy’s. So who decides what the real intent is? The Congress, the President, and the courts do, under our Constitutional framework.

    Connor said NASA was unconstitutional — do we abolish it just because he said so? No. For your question, do we believe in a different Constitution than others? If you believe in a Constitution that only means what you (or Connor) says it means, then yes, you and I believe in a different Constitution. I cannot sustain you as the sole arbiter or interpreter of the Constitution. Yes, Bill, we are a house divided — we’re a pluralistic society and we interpret the Constitution differently — even among Latter-day Saints, we may interpret differently — but the Constitution and the constitutional framework hold us together, all Americans of all persuasions.

    If the rules of tennis say the line is the boundary of the playing area and don’t go further, then the players and the judges and the spectators and the commentators are left to decide whether a serve is out-of-bounds if it actually hits the line. This process is called interpretation. The rules of tennis are written, but they must be interpreted and applied. And whether the powers-that-be decide that the ball hitting the line is in or out, someone is going to disagree. They need to get over it and play the game or they need to carefully and kindly try to change the rules. But in any case, they need to speak kindly of the sport and the sports officials and associations in front of others. I could liken all of this to our current discussion, but I suppose you understand.

    I was serious in recommending the Primary song. You cannot go through life thinking everyone is interpreting the Constitution wrongly except for you. We have to work together for the common good of our society. If we believe in good government, then we must honor and respect our government and teach others to respect it, and we work within the constitutional framework to achieve whatever we’re seeking. You must be willing to admit that there might be some validity in someone else’s interpretation.

    And if our non-LDS friends in the nation’s capital perceive a notion from blogs like this that the Constitution was written by the Mormon God for Mormons and that only Mormons can interpret it rightly, then they will believe in a different Constitution than you. Many of them will be willing to agree that God had a hand in the Constitution, but they won’t agree that Mormons have the exclusive privilege (or duty) of interpretation. Nor do I, and I’m a Latter-day Saint (though one of dubious value, I’m learning from these exchanges).

    Sorry, I have no desire to debate any particular matter of current policy. My interest here is the general tone of sustaining the Constitution as working and our Republic as not yet a failure. I’m not ready for despair.

  68. Yin
    October 4, 2008 at 7:00 am #

    Wait a second Ji. Nowhere does this blog claim that mormons are the only ones able to interpret the constitution. Nowhere does it claim that the constitution was made by a mormon god for mormon people. I’m not sure where you’re getting all that, but it’s definitely a misinterpretation on your part.

    I’m not ready for despair either, but I don’t think that despairing over our current political situation is the point here. Just because there are things wrong with our government right now doesn’t mean we despair. It means we recognize what’s happened and act. For some people that action may be writing a blog post to try to inform others and help them act (whether or not you agree with their ideas). For some, it’s calling their congressmen. For some, it may be taking up a cause for or against a certain proposition, etc.

    Despair hopefully isn’t part of the equation for most of us here. Even for those of us that wholeheartedly believe that the constitution is hanging by a thread and that our once-great government has gone to pot.

  69. ji
    October 4, 2008 at 9:08 am #

    Yin,

    Can you accept that well-informed, educated, and honest Latter-day Saints might reasonably disagree with your assessment that the Constitution is hanging by a thread and our great Republic has gone to pot (your words) without saying or implying that they’re uneducated, in the great and spacious building, apathetic, clueless, enemies of the Constitution, collaborators with evil, and such?

  70. vontrapp
    October 4, 2008 at 9:47 am #

    Ji,

    No one is despairing. No one is fear mongering. We just see a dangerous trend and feel it is better to try and reverse that trend now. What would you have us do? Do nothing until the time for despair is nigh at hand? I’d rather do something now and not despair later, than do nothing now and have real reason to despair in the future.

    As for the rules of the game, this ‘interpretation’ isn’t about the ball landing on the line. This ‘interpretation’ is saying server A sails the ball clear over head his opponent, and the majority says “cool, that’s an awesome serve,” and thus it _is_ the rules, because tough noogies, the rule ‘sticklers’ got the short end of the stick. That’s not my idea of interpretation.

  71. Connor
    October 4, 2008 at 9:48 am #

    Ji,

    A simple question for you:

    What is a self-evident truth?

    Your answer to this question will, I believe, demonstrate your error in this matter.

  72. Bill
    October 4, 2008 at 9:57 am #

    I’m afraid we’re splitting the argument between two points. I’ll address them in two different posts to avoid confusion.

    INTERPRETATION:

    Yes, everything in life involves interpretation and point of view.
    Yes, we can all be intelligent, educated, informed, and well-meaning and still come to different conclusions.
    Yes, we can come together and work out things that will be mutually beneficial.

    No, the interpretations and points of view DO NOT CREATE the reality.
    No, having different interpretations does not mean that everyone is correct.

    If interpretation were to CREATE the truth, then all religions in the world are correct. But we don’t believe that. You have stated that you are a well-meaning LDS. If so, you must recognize that even though all other religious people might be well-meaning and informed, etc. they still don’t get it.

    There IS A TRUTH. There IS a right and wrong way to interpret things. To absolutely state that my point of view is the correct one would be tyrannical in minor way (I’m only one man without a lot of influence).
    The artistry of being a Keeper of the Constitution is to determine when we have a credible claim to interpreting correctly. The following are things to consider if you wish to have a CREDIBLE CLAIM to being a Keeper, and thus have a correct interpretation.

    1) Have you read it? You can’t claim to have interpreted something correctly if you haven’t read it.

    2) Have you studied any background on it and consulted the authors or writings of the authors regarding their work? Anyone can interpret the Bible. But have they actually prayed about it and asked the Author regarding their interpretation?

    3) Do you subbordinate your own will and agenda until after DISCOVERING what the written words would say regarding the subject. Anyone can argue black into white with twists of logic. But it takes having an agenda to do so.

    4) Are you a FRIEND of the Constitution? Friends try to take their friends’ opinions into account. Friends show respect and brotherly love. Friends try to serve. Friends give when they can and ask only when they must.

    Notice that you may be able to honestly answer YES to all of these and still come up with a different answer than others. You can say YES to all of these and still find an incorrect answer.

    But if you answer NO to any, you have a LESS CREDIBLE CLAIM to having a correct interpretation. If you say NO to ALL of them, I believe you have NO CREDIBLE CLAIM to a correct interpretation.

    I can say YES to all these and I might still be wrong. I can admit that. But those who must honestly answer NO usually cannot admit THEY might be wrong.

    If everyone serving in office can honeslty say YES to these, then I would agree with you when you say the Constitution is functioning as it should. If a large majority must honestly say NO to most or all of these, we do not have a credible claim to having a functioning Constitution.

    There may be other things to add to this list to be sure; but this list is sufficient for now.

    Based on these four criteria alone, I do not believe many in Congress nor the President have a credible claim to being Keepers.

  73. Bill
    October 4, 2008 at 10:13 am #

    A HOUSE DVIDED vis-a-vis A PLURALISTIC SOCIETY.

    Any society has limits. The limits for a society under the US Constutition are limited by being a moral and a religious people.

    People back in the Founders’ day pretty much had the same ideas of right and wrong in their daily lives. They had the Ten Commandments that most religions agreed on and had similar interpretations of what they meant. They disagreed on how to govern such people and what morality should be made into LAW backed up by governmental force.

    Today, we don’t even agree on what is right and wrong in our own lives and we see that the result of that under this Constitution is to make more morality (or immorality) into law under penalty of fines, imprisonment, or death.

    Compare George Washington’s Farewell Address to Abraham Lincoln’s “A House Divided” speech. While in Washington’s day, there were differences of opinions and open debate, we were still a unified people. One nation under God. In Lincoln’s day we had huge chasms of differences which erupted into the Civil War.

    I personally see the Civil War as a SYMPTOM that the Constitution was not functioning. But under your criterion that the three branch framework was still operating, you would say it WAS functioning. I’m afraid we’ll have to agree to disagree on that point.

    If you were forced to decide where we are compared to these two points in history, who’s day would you say we are closer to?

    I’d say I’m not quite “despairing”. But I don’t have a lot of hope for the future of the Constitutional government.

  74. Bill
    October 4, 2008 at 10:17 am #

    Ji,

    I did apologize for the “clueless” remark. I would hope you would accept it for what it was–An honest attempt to make amends for an action that I honestly believed to be out of line.

  75. ji
    October 4, 2008 at 10:49 am #

    After all this, I still choose hope and confidence in our Constitution and our great Republic, and I caution against teaching others, including our youth, that our great Republic has failed and that other citizens with differing approaches to constitutional interpretation and application (even those very close to us) are enemies of the Constitution. I see hope and confidence as a positive duty of mine.

    Yes, there is ultimate truth. One aspect of that ultimate truth is that we must be kind and charitable to our neighbors. A practical truth is that in our pluralistic society, claims of ultimate truth in what others see as one’s political agenda are improvident.

    Today is General Conference. I much appreciate Elder Perry’s opening words on hope and especially President Uchtdorf’s entire message of hope. Wow!

  76. Connor
    October 4, 2008 at 10:51 am #

    Yes, there is ultimate truth. One aspect of that ultimate truth is that we must be kind and charitable to our neighbors.

    You did not answer my question. I did not refer to “ultimate” truth, but to self-evident truth. There’s a large difference.

    You seem to believe that I and others have no hope regarding the Constitution. Identifying its enemies (or, rather, those who do not support it) does not in any way mean that we have no hope for its future nor the work we can do on its behalf to see it respected and obeyed.

    Just as faith without works is dead, so too is hope, improperly placed, a fruitless venture. Pres. Uchtdorf’s distinction between hope “for” and hope “in” things is worthy of our study. I would argue that denying reality (as you seem to be doing) leads to a false sense of hope, not one based in truth.

  77. vontrapp
    October 4, 2008 at 11:02 am #

    Hope doesn’t mean doing nothing. Hope doesn’t mean ceding ground to differing viewpoints. Hope doesn’t mean everything will be fine whatever I do or do not do. There is still responsibility, and the requirement of action. I actually like your analogy of the constitution to rules of a game, though I don’t like your conclusions. Might I propose that government is like a massive game. The players are the people and their public officials. This is a special kind of game, where only a few actually compete in the game directly. The republic aspect. We choose people who we think will play the game well.

    Now the rules, any game needs rules. Tennis needs clear definitions of what’s out, what constitutes a point, etc. You mention the ‘ball on the line’ thing. I guarantee you that in any serious tennis match, the players are well aware of what a ball on the line means BEFORE they start the match. This is not to say that the rules in the government need to be wholly predefined, never able to change, but when they do change they must needs do so in an orderly manner.

    For to choose a player we would think will do well in government, we must first have a clear understanding of the rules even as we choose our representative. How can we know how well one will do if we have no framework within which he will act?

    I was debating in an irc channel against the bailout. I said that our representatives had no authority to vote yes on this bill. The opponents answers were, ‘you voted for these people, and if you don’t like what they do now, don’t vote for them the next time around.’ This is pure fallacy. WHEN I voted for my representative, I did so with a certain understanding of what rules he would be subject to. If I must be required to vote for someone who will in all cases govern his own choices to be in line with the constitution, at all times, in the face of all temptations, that is a tall order indeed. I dare say impossible to fill. Hence we must have rules that keep these players in check, rules we all understand.

    Now there is some flexibility in those rules. Ones interpretation may very well be as valid as the next. The thing we defenders of the constitution take issue with is where the rules are clearly and unabashedly ignored, at no consequence. Not a mere interpretation of the rules, but a blatant disregard for those rules altogether. At this point the game is like a game of monopoly that has gone on too long, and the bored participants start grabbing money from the bank by handfuls. It’s no longer monopoly, it’s “who can grab money the fastest.”

  78. ji
    October 4, 2008 at 11:07 am #

    My hope is in my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, and in his restored Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. My confidence in our Constitution and our great Republic is not improperly placed.

    I choose hope and confidence, kindness and charity.

  79. vontrapp
    October 4, 2008 at 11:17 am #

    And I chose to hope that I can make a difference in defending the constitution.

  80. Connor
    October 4, 2008 at 11:20 am #

    I choose hope and confidence, kindness and charity.

    Hope and confidence is fruitless if the individual denies real threats and acts accordingly.

    Seriously, I can’t help but see an “all is well in Zion” attitude in your remarks. I can’t imagine being in the war of heaven and simply thinking that respecting “differing ideas” was an appropriate response to maintain one’s hope and confidence. Action is required, and you can’t properly act until you know what the issues are. (Otherwise, as Lehi noted, you’ll be “acted upon” instead.)

  81. ji
    October 4, 2008 at 11:42 am #

    Connor, re: your 81 — And equally seriously, if you will allow, I can’t help but see fear-mongering, despair, and hatred in your remarks.

    I have some satisfaction now in knowing that present and future readers of these exchanges will have the benefit of knowing that there are some Latter-day Saints who disagree with some of your notions. If your blog were just one way, your original posting would be standing alone and perhaps interpretable as truth as seen by Latter-day Saints generally. By allowing for viewer postings, like mine, you allow present and future viewers to discern that there are others among us who think differently. I appreciate and thank you for the opportunity, and remind all readers that truth isn’t always found on blogs. Maybe sometimes, and maybe not.

  82. Connor
    October 4, 2008 at 11:46 am #

    Yeah, ummm… okay. Job well done, then. I guess?

    (You still didn’t answer a handful of questions, but instead chose to continually repeat your mantra time and time again. Future readers of these exchanges will no doubt scratch their heads, wondering why you couldn’t answer direct and simple questions.)

  83. Bill
    October 4, 2008 at 11:57 am #

    I believe Ji is mostly referring to me. After reading all the posts, I believe I’m the one with the least hope about the Constitution. But let me distinguish between the gospel word hope (as Pres Uchdorf described) and the plain English version of hope.

    Hope in a gospel sense is the desire to believe in something greater than yourself. That there really is a higher purpose to everything. It is the motivating force to find faith.

    Hope in English implies an expectation of something good about to happen.

    While I still believe the Lord is at the Helm of the course of the world, I do not expect anything good to come out of the bailout bill.

    I’m not expecting my stocks to go up any more than would normally be reasonable. I’m not expecting that this bill will create more jobs. I’m not expecting that the majority of the people in this country will suddenly wake up and realize how far we’ve strayed from the Constitution. I also do not expect that the Constitution will last long.

    Since I have no prophetic insight into the matter, this is just a guess by a hacker based on the limited information I have access to. Part of engaging in discussions like this is to try to find other evidence that would lead me to more hope. But simply SAYING things are fine is not evidence.

    Your entire argument is based on two things:

    1) Everything is fine because I believe it is.
    2) The three branches of government are there so the Constitutuion and our Republic are doing just fine.

    The first is naive. The second shows ignorance in the Constitution. Refer to my previous post on the CREDIBLE CLAIM to interpreting the Constitution correctly.

    With even as little hope as I have, I am still going to be active in politics and do my personal best to ensure the Constitution survives.

  84. Yin
    October 4, 2008 at 12:01 pm #

    re: #82

    Ji,

    Hatred is a very strong word. Just because you label someone as an “enemy” doesn’t mean you hate them. I pray for the leaders of this country often. Not out of hatred, but out of concern for the path they’re leading us down.

    I’ve already addressed the “despair” claim (#69).

    As for fear-mongering, this post doesn’t quite fit the mold. All I see is questions posed and ideas posited. I don’t see fear or scare tactics being used, an agenda being pushed, or propaganda of any kind. I consider fear-mongering to be when the government uses scare tactics about the economy to garner support for an unconstitutional bailout bill. Or when the government uses the fear after 9/11 to get people to support an unconstitutional war that has nothing to do with 9/11.

    It seems to me that your labels of “hatred”, “despair”, and “fear-mongering” are terribly misplaced.

  85. ji
    October 4, 2008 at 12:04 pm #

    re: 83: “Future readers of these exchanges will no doubt scratch their heads, wondering why you couldn’t answer direct and simple questions.”

    Maybe some of them — but others might perceive that “wouldn’t” might fit better than “couldn’t”.

    I hope this afternoon’s conference session is as good as this morning’s. Somehow, I always like the Saturday sessions.

  86. Carissa
    October 4, 2008 at 12:49 pm #

    I read through the initial post again and can see nothing that sounds like despair, or hatred, or fear-mongering. I take the word “enemy” used in the oath to be a metaphor for any type of opposition to the constitution, not just the sinister. Even apathy is a threat to the constitution because “the people” are the only keepers of it. It is not personal, it is not necessarily unkind. What I take from this post is a CALL TO ACTION. Despair doesn’t lead to action; it leads to inaction. Yes, we may all have varying interpretations of what constitutes these “enemies” or these threats, but the point is to challenge them, to DO something.

    There is opposition to all good things. The constitution is no exception. There ARE still very real threats (or enemies, whatever you want to call them) to it today, as there were years ago:

    “We again warn our people in America of the constantly increasing threat against our inspired Constitution and our free institutions set up under it.” First Presidency Message, in Conference Report, Apr. 1942

    Unfortunately, we as a nation have apostatized in various degrees from different Constitutional principles as proclaimed by the inspired founders. We are fast approaching that moment prophesied by Joseph Smith when he said: “Even this nation will be on the very verge of crumbling to pieces and tumbling to the ground, and when the Constitution is upon the brink of ruin, this people will be the staff upon which the nation shall lean, and they shall bear the Constitution away from the very verge of destruction” (19 July 1840, as recorded by Martha Jane Knowlton Coray; ms. in Church Historian’s Office, Salt Lake City) Ezra Taft Benson, 1987

    Here is some wise advice from Neal A. Maxwell:

    Preston Nibley, in an article written nearly a quarter of a century ago, describes the transmission of the words of the Prophet about the Constitution of the United States and its coming to peril point eventually. There is some question, because of failures to record and memory differences, as to whether or not the Constitution (which in all versions would be in jeopardy) would be saved by the “elders” of this Church, or whether “if the Constitution be saved at all, it will be by the elders of this Church.” Whatever version is correct, we do seem to have rendezvous with history concerning the American Constitution.

    We can best prepare ourselves for that time by thinking through our commitment to constitutional government, by involving ourselves in and contributing to the process of that government in appropriate ways, as did Mosiah in Nephite society and Joseph in Egypt, by understanding the lessons of secular history, and by drawing upon the scriptures in which we have so much longitudinal information about men’s past struggles to be free as they faced the issues of their times.

    This rendezvous can best be kept by individuals who avoid both naïveté and despair. We must be as resilient as John Taylor and Brigham Young who saw the Saints fail to get constitutional protection in difficult circumstances but still venerated that document. It can be a rendezvous best kept by men and women who are devoted to the whole document of the United States Constitution; the wise men who authored both the Constitution and the Bill of Rights on which we, as a people, may need to rely were as wise about one part of the First Amendment as another. We cannot seek shelter under the tree of the Constitution if we cut off some of its branches or fail to nourish the whole tree.” “The Lonely Sentinels of Democracy,” New Era, Jul 1972

    Let’s not be naive to the threats. Let’s not despair that they exist. Let’s just do our best to identify them, help others be aware, and defend the constitution from them in whatever way we feel inspired to and are capable of. This is our duty as citizens of this great country and as members of God’s church.

  87. Bill
    October 4, 2008 at 1:08 pm #

    Thank you, Carissa. That is the sort of thing I’ve been looking for.

  88. Jeff T.
    October 4, 2008 at 4:43 pm #

    ji,

    i’m scratching my head. I have no idea where the hatred or fear-mongering in this post are. Could you point it out?

    All I’m getting is someone (yourself) who is throwing ad hominen attacks everywhere, and, in a conceited way, feeling superior to us because of your “openness” to other points of view.

    I don’t want to attack you. I’d rather attack your arguments. But you haven’t really presented any, so I can’t. All I’ve gotten from you is “Love one another, be open to other points of view, but your point of view sucks and you are a hate-monger.” Doesn’t that sound a bit hypocritical?

  89. ji
    October 4, 2008 at 5:39 pm #

    Carissa, re: 87. You’re changing the direction of the original posting, and that’s probably good. The original posting suggested that “the enemy” included some among our “neighbors, friends, business associates, fellow church-goers, or amiable, well-known individuals” and charged that “[w]hoever the enemy may be, what is important is that we … identify the individual…. We must identify our enemies, not forgetting to look within our own ranks.”. The original posting charged that we must take action against those persons. In your 87, you’re changing the focus from “who” to “what”.

    Jeff T., re: 89 and similar requests from others. I started by suggesting inquiring if the original posting was serious and suggested the labelling of others as “enemies of the Constitution” was unkind. But yes, this blogging community was serious and firmly charged that persons who approach constitutional interpretation and application differently are indeed “enemies of the Constitution” in real and personal senses. Here are your answers. My perception of despair comes from charges that our great Republic has failed. Some here make this charge as a fact; I see it as despair. My perception of hatred and fear-mongering come from the charges that enemies are all around us, even within our own ranks, and they must be pointed out, and these fellow citizens who differ in political philosophy must be harshly labelled as “enemies of the Constitution”, and from the charges that people like me who challenge this fear-mongering are all-is-well-in-Zion-patsies. Yes, despair, hatred, and fear-mongering are accurate. Witch hunts by prosecutors of dubious authority and self-assumed zealotry are hateful and fear-mongering.

    Now, if you’ll read Carissa’s no. 87, she’s trying to turn the targeting of, pointing the finger at, and name-calling of fellow citizens with whom one has political differences to identifying “what’s”, perhaps trends and actions over time that raise concern and which good-minded people ought to oppose. Her posting makes sense; the original posting and most of the comments afterwards were uncharitable because they were directed at people for no other reason that those others approach and apply the Constitution differently. Calling such a fellow American an “enemy of the Constitution” is hateful.

    I say all this not to prolong this blogging, but to answer inquiries as to why I used the terms despair, hatred, and fear-mongering. Whether these questions of me were asked in a sense of honest inquiry or as occasion for vitroil, I’m not sure. I hope it was the former.

  90. Carissa
    October 4, 2008 at 6:35 pm #

    I think it’s generally more productive to view the “enemies” as ideas or philosophies rather than making it personal. Of course, people are the vehicles for carrying out ideas, but people can change, so persuasion and education can go a long way here.

    Then again, there may be instances that call for being a bit more direct. Like the situation the Nephites were in when Gadiantons “did obtain the sole management of the government” and “[let] the guilty and the wicked go unpunished because of their money” and “rule[d] and [did] according to their wills” (Helaman 6 and 7), for example. If something like that were happening today, would you think it unkind to call them “enemies” of the constitution?

  91. ji
    October 4, 2008 at 7:20 pm #

    It might depend on who was doing the name-calling, and for what purposes — someone in authority rallying his or her forces against a great danger or an individual but impassioned player in the political process using ad hominem as a tool to achieve an end? But as a hypothetical question, I can’t answer with certainty…

    In my own mind I can see threats to our constitutional framework and processes, and even the Constitution itself. But I recognize, in our pluralistic society, the danger of name-calling as we’re describing. But I disagree with some of the dangers raised here — for example, the bail-out might be improvident policy and might even be unabashed greed, but it isn’t unconstitutional (as I see it). And calling me an enemy of the Constitution for this belief is not only unproductive or even counterproductive, it’s also unkind and uncharitable. If, for example, someone spouting invective such as this were to try to rally me to petition against the bail-out, even though I thought the bail-out was bad policy I could not join with that name-calling group leader, and so I would be lost to your cause not because of my position but because of my unwillingness to ally myself with the loud and unkind voices.

    Some might laugh and scoff, but for me, it really goes back to the Primary song…

  92. Connor
    October 4, 2008 at 7:27 pm #

    Ji,

    When a doctor informs his patient that he has a certain disease, does the assessment itself imply some sort of emotionally charged environment? Is the doctor fearmongering by giving his patient his honest assessment of the situation? Is he despairing by laying out the facts as he sees them?

    Your hesitance to offend anybody leads you to deny reality and embrace moral relativity. Some things are inherently wrong. Your refusal to answer my question about self-evident truth reveals, in my opinion, your denial of some basic principles that if ignored will lead us astray.

    Calling such a fellow American an “enemy of the Constitution” is hateful.

    So all fellow citizens, regardless of their beliefs, actions, and attitudes, are to be equally and openly embraced? You also refused to answer my question about the sentence of death for all freckled women. Should your next door neighbor advocate that policy, would you still refuse to oppose them and state that the action was wrong? Or would you simply label it a “different interpretation”?

    But I disagree with some of the dangers raised here — for example, the bail-out might be improvident policy and might even be unabashed greed, but it isn’t unconstitutional (as I see it)

    Wow. Pray tell, where is Congress given the authority to create $700 billion in debt to purchase derivatives and mortgages from private institutions, all at the taxpayer’s expense? Please, I’m really curious. This is not a matter of differing interpretations, it’s a simple request that you point to the specific portion of the Constitution that provides for this authority.

    Don’t skirt around the issue, or repeat your “hope and confidence” mantra. I ask that you directly answer this question once and for all.

    As Carissa notes, I too believe that enemies are transitory. Should the individual abandon the troublesome policy or action, I would no longer consider them a threat (in this case, to the Constitution). An enemy in war who chooses to defect is no longer considered an enemy, for they have rejected their allegiance to the opposing force. Would you hesitate to call an enemy in war an enemy?

    The scriptures are clear that there are wicked men who design to overthrow what God has commanded us to build up. Such men are mine and God’s enemies inasmuch as they pursue their course, and just as we opposed our enemies in the war and heaven, so too we must stand firm in this life to support God’s plan (and the Constitution) and reject all those who oppose it. This isn’t a relativistic conglomerate of differing issues, but a line drawn in the sand; either we support the Constitution and its specific provisions, many of which are self-evident and create no reasonable confusion for “differing interpretations”, or we are its enemy, opposing either the whole or one or more of its parts.

  93. Bill
    October 5, 2008 at 7:07 am #

    Connor,

    I wouldn’t get your hopes up in getting a response that actually addresses the issues. He has made if pretty clear that he is NOT a student of the Consititution. He has made it pretty clear that he is NOT well informed on current events other than “the bailout, uh, something is happening.” He does NOT understand that even Jesus was “mean” to certain people when they went too far — thus the comment about the money changers and the pharisees.

    But let’s get back to the original point. I DO disagree with your opinion and many others who have the “if you’re not with us, you’re against us” mentality. I believe it is possible to be neutral on the subject.

    At the same time I warn against being neutral on such a wide-reaching issue as whether we are truly following the original intent of the Founders when we support this bailout. I’ll borrow from Ji’s tactics and quote trite phrases –all it takes for evil to win is for good men to do nothing.

    I wonder if he would consider it hate speech when the colonists called King George of England a despot and an enemy to liberty. I wonder if he would call it hate speech or fearmongering for George Washington to say it might be a great time for a revolution.

    I wonder if he will still consider the Constitution still functioning when the government declares martial law and takes away all our money, our guns, our food storage, our books, our children.

    But of course, I’m just fearmongering. The government would never do that . . . We have a three branch framework in place.

    I mean, sure, they might take our guns away. After all, they’re dangerous. And if you want a gun, you must be a criminal.

    Oh, and I guess they could take our money. After all, it’s our patriotic duty to support the government.

    Yah, I guess they could take away our food storage because supplying our troops is so important that we should go hungry to keep them on the streets to enforce that martial law.

    And, hey, they SHOULD take children away from parents who aren’t taking care of their children. If a parent doesn’t allow their kids to “socialize” in public school, why that’s just abuse. And if they don’t allow them to watch television, why that is depriving the children of one of the joys of life.

    And, they NEED to take away our books because we might be subjected to too much hate speech and fearmongering.

    But I’m getting ahead of myself. None of that has happened yet . . .

    Yes, EVERYTHING I’ve just mentioned HAS happened on a small scale at EVERY level of government. It is only a matte of time before it will happen all over. We just need a big enough “CRISIS” to drive enough support.

    But that’s impossible the Constitution is functioning because of our three branch framework. And all is well in Zion, so none of that ACTUALLY happens. Those are just unsubstantiated rumors.

    I wish it were so. I REALLY wish . . .

  94. Connor
    October 5, 2008 at 7:12 am #

    I believe it is possible to be neutral on the subject.

    Neutrality is definitely an option, but such inaction is, in my opinion, tantamount to being on the wrong side. Take, for example, the following scripture:

    So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth. (Revelation 3:16)

    Other than that, I agree with your overall assessment. (Except for the fact that I think Ji is a woman.)

  95. Bill
    October 5, 2008 at 11:30 am #

    That would explain why I thought I was trying to explain something to my Mom.

    I swear this is exactly the way she talks.

  96. Alfredo
    October 5, 2008 at 11:57 pm #

    I can’t wait until we can find all the enemies of the constitution. All those that want health care, enemy; all those that want income taxes, enemy; all those that want universal education, enemy.

    You can do this, Connor. You can stop them all. You can round up these enemies to the constitution and do what is ‘necessary’ to them (using the cutting throat sign with my index finger right now).

    Viva la Revolution!!! Viva Connor and his band of revolutionaries!!! Death to the enemies of the constitution and their evil, evil plans of trying to get affordable health care coverage for the average person, and for universal education to the millions of people that cannot afford it because they do not come from the white, power class!

    You’re on the fringe of the fringe and you don’t even know it, Connor.

  97. Carissa
    October 6, 2008 at 7:44 am #

    Don’t worry Alfredo. The Federal Government has already taken action to permanently protect itself against citizens who might get carried away in their efforts to do, well anything they don’t like. If anyone needs to be tasered, they will take care of it. And rest assured… the President is already empowered to declare martial law “if he or other federal officials perceive a shortfall of “public order,” or even in response to antiwar protests that get unruly as a result of government provocations” courtesy of the The Defense Authorization Act of 2006.

    I, myself, was also shocked to hear Connor advocate violence against anyone who doesn’t think like him. I was just appalled when he said… (argh, I’m terrible at this reading comprehension stuff- where again does he say that? Was it the last paragraph? Second to last? Comment #26? Maybe I should read it again and pay better attention this time). We’ve just got to let him know he can’t be so extreme like this! (Quick, help me find that paragraph).

  98. ji
    October 6, 2008 at 1:50 pm #

    Connor and Bill,

    You mustn’t think you ran me off with your superior logic — and surely you err in all your unkind characterizations of me. And calling an opponent in an argument a woman is childish (or hateful). I took a weekend off the enjoy General Conference. Certainly in my own mind and from what I have read here, I know more about the Constitution and the Founding Fathers than you do. It also appears to me that I know more about Gospel living than you. I am amazed, Connor, at your self-righteous assumption of the right to interpret the Constitution correctly to the exclusion of all others, and the arrogant privilege you assume of calling all others who differ “enemies of the Constitution.”. You have no such right. You’re a fellow citizen in this great Republic, and your opinion carries no more weight than mine. As one who bills himself as a Latter-day Saint, I would have expected to see some patience and kindness in your postings and in your replies to others. Yep, my description of my perception of your comments is accurate. As you said, one may call a spade a spade, right? Bill, your mother sounds like a very wise woman.

    Bye-bye. By all means, carry on. But as my last word, please remember to be kind and charitable, especially when you’re out in public.

  99. Connor
    October 6, 2008 at 2:01 pm #

    And calling an opponent in an argument a woman is childish (or hateful).

    Um, what? If the individual is a woman, and I say they’re a woman, I’m being childish and/or hateful?

    My assessment of your sexuality is based upon the fact that one of your comments was left during the Priesthood session of General Conference, not because your arguments are poor.

    I know more about the Constitution and the Founding Fathers than you do.

    I thought of a witty reply for this asinine statement, but I might be considered hateful, so I’ll forbear.

    I am amazed, Connor, at your self-righteous assumption of the right to interpret the Constitution correctly to the exclusion of all others, and the arrogant privilege you assume of calling all others who differ “enemies of the Constitution.”. You have no such right.

    It is evident that you haven’t listened to a single thing I and others have tried to tell you in this thread. Here it is in very simple language: there are certain things that need no interpretation.

    If the law says that you’re not allowed to eat hamburgers on Tuesdays between 11am and 1pm, it’s not hard to know what you’re allowed to do under that law. An individual accused of breaking this law may try to rationalize his opposing stance, claiming a “differing interpretation”, but some things are so simple and succinct that they leave no room for rational interpretation.

    Another example: “Congress shall make no law respecting…” Whatever the subject of that clause is, it’s pretty clear that Congress is not allowed under the Constitution to pass any related laws. Those who disagree will try to pull out of those words some warped interpretation (one of the plagues of moral relativism), but it’s futile: simple words have simple interpretations.

    Yep, my description of my perception of your comments is accurate.

    And if I argue that I have a “differing interpretation” of my own comments, would you apply your same logic to my claim?

    Bye-bye. By all means, carry on. But as my last word, please remember to be kind and charitable, especially when you’re out in public.

    I thought your “last word” was way up here? :)

  100. Carissa
    October 6, 2008 at 2:04 pm #

    Hey now… I take exception to that “calling someone a woman” is hateful remark. You should have taken that as a compliment :)

  101. ji
    October 6, 2008 at 2:25 pm #

    Well, I’m not quite out the door yet — Connor, a broad-minded person might appreciate that not everyone lives in his or her same time zone or even in the continental United States — but even if I did, aren’t there a thousand possible and honorable excuses why I might not be in the General Priesthood meeting? Thinking kindly and charitably (or broad-mindedly) would provide you some insight into these possibilities, and you might afford me some of their prtection. Carissa, be sure that Connor’s statement was not a compliment to the fairer sex.

    Connor, I can summarize my perception of your whole line of argument (based on totality, incl. your 93): (1) you alone know how to interpret (or apply, if you will) the Constitution; (2) the Constitution’s enemies are God’s enemies; (3) God’s enemies are your enemies; and (4) you’re leading the righteous charge against God’s enemies. I think I read lunatic fringe somewhere here. Yep. Also despair, fear-mongering, and hatred (my words).

    Carissa was kind enough to suggest we ought to look at “threats” as trends and specific actions, but you persist in looking for “enemies” in a very real and human and personal and name-by-name sense. Such insistence is unkind and uncharitable. I wish you could follow Carissa’s lead, if not mine. There is no shame in admitting one might have been to forceful with his original words.

  102. Connor
    October 6, 2008 at 2:31 pm #

    …not everyone lives in his or her same time zone or even in the continental United States…

    And yet your email address is from the US Forest Service’s domain…

    Carissa, be sure that Connor’s statement was not a compliment to the fairer sex.

    Playing up the victim card, are we? My comment on your being a woman had no meaning other than the fact that I thought you were a woman instead of a man, and thus was expressing that opinion to Bill, who thought you were a man. Your sensitivity on this matter further bolsters my assumption.

    I wish you could follow Carissa’s lead, if not mine.

    Funny how your #4 accuses me of leadership, and here you are advocating the same. You make me giggle.

    And I stand by every word I’ve made on this thread.

  103. ji
    October 6, 2008 at 2:59 pm #

    I suppose your purpose in pointing out my Forest Service e-mail domain name is to refute my suggestion that I might not live in your time zone or even in the continental United States? Will your afford me the courtesy of acknowledging that a Latter-day Saint man might be absent from priesthood meeting at the exact time you’re attending for any of a thousand reasons, and honorable reasons, and still be a man? Or will you petulantly stand by every word you’ve written?

    You’re still young. Perhaps you still have the unfortunate youthful trait of defending yourself even when you’re wrong, but you can’t admit it. As you grow in the Gospel (some faster than others), you’ll learn that there are different ways to see things. Now do I err in saying you’re young? I’m relying on your blog header — 20-ish and a student. Your zeal and enthusiasm can one day be put to good use in the Lord’s kingdom — maybe we can put down your excesses here to indiscreet youthful zeal rather than intentional and arrogant self-righteousness. Doing so would be kind and charitable of me, so I think I will do so.

  104. Connor
    October 6, 2008 at 3:02 pm #

    Ji,

    We could go back and forth ad infinitum. Your comments do nothing to support your points nor further the discussion, so I’ll help you honor your statement (well, two of them) that you’re done commenting here. Fare thee well.

    (A semi-related postscript: after doing a bit of sleuthing it seems that Ji is one John Inman from Maryland. So it looks like my assumption was incorrect, and Bill was right.)

  105. Jeff T.
    October 6, 2008 at 3:50 pm #

    And if John Inman reads this… I was always taught that being offended for being called a woman is sexist.

  106. Bill
    October 6, 2008 at 4:18 pm #

    Ji wrote:
    Bill, your mother sounds like a very wise woman.

    because I thought some of Ji’s logic sounded very much like my mother’s.

    My mother is a special needs individual. Really perceptive and profound there, Ji.

  107. Bill
    October 6, 2008 at 4:29 pm #

    Alfredo,

    I’m not white. And I used to be homeless. Now I’m a sucessful engineer who never got a dime from Uncle Sam.

  108. Bill
    October 6, 2008 at 4:46 pm #

    Look back at Ji’s posts. The last couple perfectly exemplify why I wasn’t expecting any answer that actually addresses the issues. Do you see any critique of the logic? NO. Just a statement of how all the claims are hatemongering, fearmongering, etc.

    Did you see any counter to evidence with evidence? NO. Just a comment that “you’re still young” and thus not worth listening to. If that’s so, why is she bothering to write anymore? I guess you must have hit it pretty close to the mark to get under her skin like that.

    And I still don’t understand why she keeps emphasizing that dead prophets’ words all of a sudden become null and void.

    I also wonder why she keeps mixing up whose position is whose. I wonder why she is making up things as she goes along.

    Oh well I guess that doesn’t matter. She obviously knows more than any of us “youths” or even the “dead prophets”. After all she’s a wisened 53-year-old woman who holds the priesthood.

  109. Tim
    October 7, 2008 at 11:35 am #

    I am 47 years old and became a convert to the church 8 years ago. My brother dissappeared in 1992 on his way to the Maine State Attorney General’s office with evidence of wrongdoing by powerful people within the federal government. In the years that followed, I struggled to understand what was wrong with our country. After crying unto the Lord for understanding and direction I was exposed to the book of mormon. As I read the B of M, what happened to my brother became clear. Through study of the scriptures and the words of church leaders I was able to come to an understanding of what is happening in America. I know many people with advanced understanding of what is going on in our country, most are not members. The hardest thing in getting these people to look at the church is the people they see within the church that are not aware and awake to what is going on in our society. I struggled with this for many years myself. I found that the scriptures explain who these people are and the fact that they are within the church. For some what is going on is clear, for others it is not. This blog has been of great value to me in trying to bring these aware people to the gospal as well as books like “Awakening to or Awful Situation- Warnings from the Nephite Prophets” by Jack Monnett .
    Here is a quote from Bruce R. McConkie, “The fact is that a major part of the testing process of mortality is to determine how much of the truth the saints will believe while they are walking by faith rather than by sight. And the more truths they accept, the clearer will be their views on spiritual matters, and the more incentive and determination they will have to work out their salvation and gain eternal glory hereafter. Heresies and false teachings are thus used in the testing processes of this mortal probation.”

  110. Carissa
    October 7, 2008 at 12:01 pm #

    Tim- I am so sorry to hear about your brother. I am glad you stopped by and shared your story.

  111. vontrapp
    October 7, 2008 at 3:10 pm #

    Tim, I too am sorry about your brother, and I hope you don’t take the following as any kind of irreverence or disrespect.

    Ji, I ask your honest opinion about this, if the three branches of government in which you so wholly place your trust and faith, if these same colluded and decided it was right to ‘disappear’ this man who had evidence against them, does that make their actions constitutional? I would have a hard time believing you would think that way, but then I have a hard time believing some of the things you have said here. I just want to make sure, that in your twisted mind, at least _sometimes_ the three branches of government can be dead wrong despite whatever interpretations and agreements they might have amongst themselves.

  112. Bill
    October 7, 2008 at 5:40 pm #

    Tim, I’m not diminishing your loss at all. But what I got out of Elder Packer’s talk was — that was just the tip of the iceberg. We as a country are about to go through what the saints went through in the 1800s. But the message from the “grey haired men” assured that it will be a temporary situation.

    Be prepared for a rough ride ahead. Look to the prophets. When you get your conference report, study it. Look at your patriarchal blessings and I fear many of you will have something very similar to mine regarding the next few years. I’m NOT asking anyone to share what theirs says. But in times of heavy decision making, I always look to mine. I find how much of it has been fulfilled, and now I see some things about to be fulfilled.

    In Missouri the saints fled in crisis. Were they fearmongering?

    In Nauvoo, we submitted to an unjust law that gave us opportunity to comply with it by giving up almost everything we owned, and at the same time being denied any earthly justice at the death of the prophet.

    In Salt Lake, we made a stand against the US Army to defend our God, our Religion, our Liberty, our Wives and our children. Was that hatemongering?

    And in case any of you haven’t guessed, Ji was just a plant to get us to chase our tails and waste our time an energy on this blog. Don’t bother asking her any more questions. She won’t really answer them. We gave her AMPLE opportunity. And she herself admitted that she wouldn’t. She may give an appearance of an answer. But none of any substance.

  113. Frank Schnabel
    January 22, 2009 at 7:16 am #

    The IRS meets the legal deffinition of “public enemy” which equates to domestic enemy. Those members of Congress that continue to allow the IRS to destroy the nations economy by stealing the hard earned money of the American public should be chargewd with violation of their oath of office,

  114. Ken Johns
    February 27, 2009 at 7:16 pm #

    It seems to me that when the government or anyone impedes our right of access to any part of the constitution they have become a domestic enemy of the constitution. the big question is how extreme must the violation be before the U.S. supreme court or the pentagon is willing to take action against the legislative branch of government to defend the constitution.

  115. Richard L. Wilde
    September 3, 2009 at 12:34 pm #

    No threat to the US Constitution itself, by enemies foreign or domestic, can succeed without the cooperation of treasonous federal officials aiding and abetting them, since only they have legal access to it. Only they can manipulate the laws to remove original safeguards, distort, circumvent, or subvert it.

    Only they can usurp authority, strip citizens of God-given rights, minimize sovereignty, weaken our borders, military, and economy, impose financial bondage, advance tyranny, institutionalize secular humanism, legalize socialism, marxism, and fascism, create a militarized police-state, or suggest suspending the Constitution. Only they can destroy the principles of freedom our Founders and Patriots have fought for.

    America has no greater enemy, foreign or domestic, nor greater criminal offense than a federal official, past or present, who (willfully, or through neglect, bribery, or coercion) undermines the Constitution and violates the Founder’s intent.

    New laws protecting them are unconstitutional and obstruct justice, since no one, especially domestic enemies of the Constitution, can ever be above the law.

    The legal actions of every federal official should be scrutinized annually to determine whether they are supportive or destructive of the Constitution. Every enemy within should be identified, indicted, and permanently defeated.

  116. Jonathan Rogers
    June 15, 2010 at 3:45 am #

    I am inclined these days to think our domestic enemies far outnumber any foreign enemies but then the foreign enemies of the Constitution of the united States are easier to spot. I’ll name names of who, in my humble opinion, are enemies of the Constitution but it’s a list that starts with our 16th President Abraham Lincoln who effectively destroyed the Constitution in 1860 reducing it to, as President Bush declared, a goddamn piece of paper because that is what Lincoln effectively made it. Of course at least in the 20th Century and into the 21st the names would include President George HW Bush, President George W Bush, Bill Clinton, President Obama and just about every single last one of our Senators and Congressmen both Republican and Democrat..actually I’d throw the entire Federal government of all branches in because they all do their part to further undermine and subvert the Constitution for their own individual and collective political agendas. The Federal government is so far out of control and has grabbed so much power that I’m uncertain as to whether there remains even a glimer of hope of returning the Federal government to it’s rightful Constitutional limitations as those who have power are afraid to lose it but continually lust for more. In the end I am becoming increasingly convinced that if any individual State hopes to survive and maintain a republican form of government then secession may be their last and best hope but if the Federal government now is anything like its counterpart in 1860 then it wouldn’t be peaceful because the slavermasters in Washington wouldn’t want to free any of us from lifetime indentured servitude. Perhaps George Lucas was a Seer when he wrote the Star Wars Prequels as they seem to mirror all too much what has been going on since 9/11.

  117. Terry Andersen
    May 10, 2011 at 7:31 am #

    One does not need to read very far into the Constitution to find where our government has gone astray. Article I, Section 1 reads: “All legislative Powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States, which shall consist of a Senate and House of Representatives.” Legislatetive Powers are the powers to make laws. In other words, neither the President, the Supreme Court, or the Bureaurcrats have the power to make laws. Rules and laws laid down through executive orders, Supreme Court Decisions, and Bureaucratic regulations should be first originated in the Congress within the framework of the Constitution. To understand what our founding fathers meant when they drafted this document, read their writings found in The Federalist Papers. Actually, the Constitution is quite clear in its intent as the supreme law of the land. “And that law of the land which is constitutional, supporting that principle of freedom in maintaining rights and privileges, belongs to all mankind, and is justifiable before me……..And as pertaining to law of man whatsoever is more or less than this cometh of evil………Nevertheless, when the wicked rule the people mourn.” The Constitution was meant to protect our freedoms, NOT make us slaves to a federal bureaucracy.

  118. Ed Miller
    October 13, 2011 at 12:02 pm #

    Interpretation of the Constitution of the United States of America or even of any State is just what they want to happen. This is why they want it classified as a “Living Constitution”. So they can change it any time they want. As Supreme Justice Scalia wrote, “The Constitution was created under Original Intent. So the people of the time could understand it. The Bill of Rights is not the source of our Rights. It is designed as limitations against government. Our Rights come from Nature or Nature’s God as Thomas Jefferson put it. Ask yourselves this, How many rights has government Denyed, Disparaged or Impaired under “Color of Law”. We are living in Tyranny and do nothing about it. Start charging all these individuals as “Domestic Enemies”. Also, We have an individual Right to Freedom of Religion, not Tyranny of it. Believe in what you want. (Little Green Men from Space, for all I care.) But you have no right to dictate my life. My rights do not come from Government, The Church, or my fellow citizens. I took that Oath, Retired from Defending it on Active Service. Doesn’t mean my Oath is over with. I’d rather do my duty 100%, but you wouldn’t want that either. Would get pretty bloody around here.

  119. David P
    July 16, 2012 at 4:15 pm #

    When I first read this definition of domestic enemy (at a different internet location) I thought how simple and elegant that definition is. One of the big problems our country faces is the educational system. While we have been fat, happy, and sassy, we have allowed the Communists to dumb down our students and pervert nearly everything we stand for. Our children/students know very little of our heritage, the founding fathers, or what is morally correct. We can’t afford to waste another 40-60 years educating them and rebuilding patriotism. This definition is simple and elegant. Even the least politically astute can understand it. Furthermore, it does what so many are afraid to do, it calls the domestic enemy what they are–the enemy. Jeff T, there is no reason to call them something else. The person that you called a domestic enemy will either examine his ways and thoughts and change, or he will have to accept what he is and live with it. We all need to follow your example. I respect the Oath Keepers for what they are doing, but their website does not define what a domestic enemy is. Doesn’t that seem odd?

  120. Cal
    August 19, 2012 at 9:00 pm #

    Many people have commented on here about who decides what the Constitution means.

    It was decided long ago when the united States wrote a Constitution to create an entity to represent them in certain clearly defined matters: mostly dealing with foreign affairs, but also to see to it that the States traded fairly with each other.

    America is a Constitutional Republic which has some similarities to a democracy in that it uses democratic processes to elect representatives, etc.

    The crucial difference is that a Constitutional Republic has a Constitution that specifically describes the powers of the government. It also spells out how the government is structured, creating checks on its power and balancing power between the different branches. It also gave the three branches constitutional recourse if another branch encroaches on the power and duties assigned it.

    The Constitution provided – and still provides – for a separation of powers both within the federal government, and also between the federal government and the state governments (Republican Form, Art I, Sec IV, clause 4, US Constitution).

    There were limitations of, and grants of, authority over specific areas given to the federal government, and those were divided between three branches. And those powers not granted were retained by the states and the people.

    There is also the provision that provides the means to protect the states and the people from encroachment by federal authority: “The Privilege of the Writ Habeas Corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in Cases of Rebellion or Invasion the public Safety may require it” (Art. I, Sec. 9. Clause 2, US Constitution).

    Some historical quotations regarding the Sacred Writ:
    “The sovereignty to be created was to be limited in its powers of legislation, and if it passed a law not authorized by its enumerated powers, it was not to be regarded as the Supreme Law of the land, nor were the State judges bound to carry it into execution.”. [Abelman v. Booth, 62 U.S. 506, at 519]

    “This judicial power was justly regarded as indispensable, not merely to maintain the supremacy of the laws of the United States, but also to guard the States from any encroachment upon their reserved rights by the General Government. And as the Constitution is the fundamental and Supreme Law, if it appears that an act of Congress is not pursuant to and within the limits of the power assigned to the Federal Government, it is the duty of the courts of the United States to declare it unconstitutional and void. The grant of judicial power is not confined to the administration of laws passed in pursuance to the provisions of the Constitution, nor confined to the interpretation of such laws; but, by the very terms of the grant, the Constitution is under their view when any act of Congress is brought before them, and it is their duty to declare the law void, and refuse to execute it, if it is not pursuant to the legislative powers conferred upon Congress” [Abelman v. Booth, 62 U.S. 506, at 520,521]

    “Rights and immunities created by or dependant upon the Constitution of the United States can be protected by Congress. The form and the manner of the protection may be such as Congress, in the legitimate exercise of its legislative discretion, shall provide. These may be varied to meet the necessities of the particular right to be protected”. [U S v. REESE, 92 U.S. 214, at 215, 216]

    “A remedy the more necessary, because the oppression does not always arise from the ill-nature, but sometimes from the mere inattention of government“. [William Blackstone, Commentaries]

    “A remedy the more necessary, because the oppression does not always arise from the ill-nature, but sometimes from the mere inattention of government“. [William Blackstone, Commentaries]

    “Reasons will be given hereafter for considering many of the restrictions, contained in the amendments to the Constitution, as extending to the states as well as to the United States, but the nature of the writ of habeas corpus seems peculiarly to call for this construction. It is the great remedy of the citizen or subject against arbitrary or illegal imprisonment; it is the mode by which the judicial power speedily and effectually protects the personal liberty of every individual, and repels the injustice of unconstitutional laws or despotic governors“. [“A View of the Constitution of the United States”, William Rawles]

    “§ 1333. In order to understand the meaning of the terms here used, it will be necessary to have recourse to the common law; for in no other way can we arrive at the true definition of the writ of habeas corpus. At the common law there are various writs, called writs of habeas corpus. But the particular one here spoken of is that great and celebrated writ, used in all cases of illegal confinement, known by the name of the writ of habeas corpus ad subjiciendum,” [“Commentaries on the Constitution”, Joseph Story]

    These show that the present day courts are NOT doing the job assigned them , or keeping their solemn and legally binding Oaths.

    A lot of Americans believe that the Constitution gives us certain rights, it does not. Actually it protects those rights our forefathers thought were natural rights and all of our naturally held rights are not listed in the Constitution.

    The Bill of Rights sets limits on the federal government, making clear it has NO power to infringe on rights we already naturally possess, or to limit traditionally held privileges, such as trial by jury (not legally).

    The Constitution was created granting our government certain specified powers. It makes clear those certain government limitations, to better protect the liberties of the people. The preamble to the Bill of Rights also clarifies that purpose.

    The first eight amendments that make up the Bill of Rights specify rights and privileges that our government may not in any way take away. It puts into writing the protections of life, liberty, and property (rights each of us naturally possess); plus includes specific privileges in the judicial system already accepted in Anglo-American law.

    The Ninth Amendment makes clear that those natural rights listed are NOT the only rights we have that are protected under our form of government.

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

    The framers wanted to make sure everyone understood that the Constitution only grants the feds prescribed, specific, enumerated powers and no others, nor were those who serve within its three branches given the authority to take more power.

    “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 to the people”. 10th Amendment

    So what happened? “We the people” happened. We did not keep a close eye on our government.

    We let two parties dictate to us who to vote for instead of learning as much as we could about the candidates and deciding for ourselves.

    We let them take true teaching about our way of government OUT of schools. We did not teach it to ourselves or to our children so that we/they understood that they, WE, (and the states) are critical to the running of our nation, stopping power grabs, etc).

    First Amendment – “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting
    the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the
    right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress
    of grievances.”

    The six protections against government overstepping their legal bounds are:
    1. Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion
    2. Congress shall make no law prohibiting the exercise of religion
    3. Congress shall make no law abridging the freedom of speech
    4. Congress shall make no law abridging the freedom of the press
    5. Congress shall make no law abridging the right of the people peacefully to assemble
    6. Congress shall make no law abridging the right to petition the government for a redress of grievance.

    Fourth Amendment – “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”

    There are two government limitations stated in this amendment.
    1. The citizens are to be secure in their person, home, papers, and property, from
    unreasonable searches and seizure. In other words they have the privacy to go about their lives without worrying whether the government will invade them. This amendment was to ensure that the government does not trespass on the people nor take anything from the people without following correct legal procedure.
    2. The government is restrained from taking either person or property without first getting a warrant, and only after proving probable cause. (This is only as valid as the judge is honest. There have been cases in which judges have signed blank warrants, and the details are not filled in until after serving the warrant.)

    The amendments are not a grant of right to the people but strictly limitations put in writing on the government to ensure that they do not trespass beyond their listed powers.

  121. Tom
    September 8, 2012 at 8:20 am #

    It is my understanding that since congress declared a state of emergency so FDR could deal with the depression in 1933 that the Constitution has been suspended. This gives presidents the ability to make law thru executive orders, the only way for this power to end will be for a president to end the state of emergency we are still in, none have, perhaps FDR would have. In WWI laws were changed that made the American people enemies of the state thru the Trading With The Enemies Act. I am not clear on all this but I know the Constitution I swore to protect and defend upon joining the US military in 1971 is the one the founders wrote along with it’s amendments, that includes the right to bear arms. Thru social engineering Constitutional enemies are winning thru media manipulation and the dumbing down of our schools what they could not win on the battlefield. Just 100 years ago most Americans owned and could use a gun, the majority used tobacco, and anyone could buy cocaine or heroin over the counter. Our money then was made of gold and silver and the paper represented gold or silver, powerful forces have changed those and more, they made people believe worthless paper is better than gold, guns and the people that own them are bad and anyone using tobacco or drugs is a societal pariah. To me an enemy of the Constitution is anyone advocating a law that is in conflict with it, if there is a Constitutional Convention that changes the Constitution I will still uphold my oath to protect and defend the one that exists right now and I will not honor a treaty with the UN or anyone that says I must surrender my firearms, as a Honorably Discharged veteran I have five more years of Unorganized Militia duty until I hit age 65, federal law requires that all able bodied men between 17 and 45 years of age are part of the Unorganized Militia, honorable veterans till 65, to be in a Militia one must be armed, any UN treaty disarming Americans will require that Federal law be changed or repealed and most State laws concerning the militia. The social engineers would have people believing that militia members are racists running around the woods in camouflage clothing advocating the overthrow of the government, the ones I’ve come in contact with would like to see a Restoration, not a Revolution, to see our Constitutional Republic restored to what the founders intended is their dream and goal.

  122. Cal
    April 10, 2013 at 12:35 pm #

    @ William, “o who defines enemies of the state? ”

    The US Constitution does. It defines exactly the federal government, and what duties it was assigned.

    My question to you is: What is the three branches of the American government?

    If your answer is the executive, legislative and judicial branches you are incorrect. Those are how the federal government and the state governments are broekn up. The answer is: “We the People”, the States, and the Federal government in the order of their creation.

    Were you aware that not keeping the lawfully required Oath of Office by all required to take the Oath is: Treason, a criminal offense, and a civil offense? That not keeping it as LAWFULLY required means that those people no longer meet the lawful requirements and can be immediately removed.

    5 U.S.C. 3331, provides the text of the actual oath of office members of Congress are required to take before assuming office.

    5 U.S.C. 3333 requires members of Congress sign an affidavit that they have taken the oath of office required by 5 U.S.C. 3331 and have not or will not violate that oath of office during their tenure of office as defined by the third part of the law.

    5 U.S.C. 7311 which explicitly makes it a federal criminal offense (and a violation of oath of office) for anyone employed in the United States Government (including members of Congress) to “advocate the overthrow of our constitutional form of government”.
    Any change that is not constitutionally done is “overthrowing of our constitutional form of government”.

    Title 18 United States Code Section 926 (Federal law Gun Control Act of 1968) makes it a FEDERAL FELONY for ANYONE to require a gun registration list of ANY kind if at any time said list in any way can or will be used as a gun confiscation list.
    This is exactly what Feinstein, Obama, Bloomberg, etc plan to use to fo “confiscate” weapons – a felony.

    18 USC § 241 – Conspiracy against rights: If two or more persons conspire to injure, oppress, threaten, or intimidate any person in any State, Territory, Commonwealth, Possession, or District in the free exercise or enjoyment of any right or privilege secured to him by the Constitution or laws of the United States, or because of his having so exercised the same; or
    If two or more persons go in disguise on the highway, or on the premises of another, with intent to prevent or hinder his free exercise or enjoyment of any right or privilege so secured—
    They shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than ten years, or both; and if death results from the acts committed in violation of this section or if such acts include kidnapping or an attempt to kidnap, aggravated sexual abuse or an attempt to commit aggravated sexual abuse, or an attempt to kill, they shall be fined under this title or imprisoned for any term of years or for life, or both, or may be sentenced to death.

    Just so you know that all that is being done is NOT lawful in any way.

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