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Trump Wants States to Pay More for Infrastructure

By Harold Pease, Ph. D

President Donald Trump has promised to spend a trillion dollars on infrastructure but he wants to leverage this money to provide the extra provided by states and cities to make their project possible, not pay the whole thing. This way he gets the most bang for the federal buck. Whether Trump understands the Constitution or not it leaves infrastructure to the states and cities, he seems to be working toward that end, at least having them pay much more for such, but he is likely to get resistance because they are used to handouts.

Three reasons justify this position. Residents are the primary users of what is built, thus should sustain its cost. Infrastructure, or anything like it, is not listed in Article I, Section 8 as a function of the federal government, nor has it been added by way of amendment to the Constitution, and thus, is entirely a state, county and city function. Finally, the federal government is over $20 trillion in debt, a debt that cannot be paid in a lifetime and even then not without quantitative easement of the currency, the process of inflating existing money.

Of course, the argument that the nation has been funding infrastructure for well over a century beginning with the transcontinental railroads after the Civil War, then the numerous construction projects of the Franklin Roosevelt era, then to the interstate freeways under Dwight D. Eisenhower, is a powerful argument. Still, going off the Constitution just once in 1869 to help the Union and Central Pacific Railroads complete the first transcontinental railroad justified going off it two more times the next twenty years for other transcontinental railroads expecting the same benefits. Every special interest group makes its case based upon what was given others. For this reason it is almost impossible to cease giving once started and get back to the Constitution.

When railroad tycoons realized that they could get the federal government to help pay for such, ensuring greater profits for them, other tycoons sought and expected the same benefits. James J. Hill of the Great Northern Railroad crossed the continent without federal help, because he did not want federal control, proving that, sooner or later, it could be done without federal help and damage to the Constitution.

All of the vast federal infrastructure projects of the 1930’s were also not constitutionally based. The federal government had no authority to finance infrastructure projects or job creation. Many also question whether these were absolutely necessary for economic survival. Others, including myself, believe that they prolonged the Great Depression to 12 years, instead of the usual two to three years, and that it was World War II that ended the Depression, not anything that Franklin Roosevelt did.

Federal job creation, formerly left entirely to the private sector, is now expected by voters as is a forced retirement plan called social security. Two new amendments to the Constitution would have authorized these drastic changes in the distribution of power and in authorizing such, but no amendments were even sought. We have had extensive national debt since.

Dwight D. Eisenhower, presumably troubled by the stark constitutional departures of his two predecessors, based his extensive interstate freeway infrastructure project on national security. Why not make landing strips for military planes everywhere available by merely, when needed, closing down a section of the freeway to public travel? It has never been used for such.

It was a brilliant stretch of the Constitution but national defense is at least a federal government responsibility as it is empowered “to make Rules for the Government and Regulation of the land and naval Forces.” Still, given the cost and that its primary function was to promote interstate travel thus, in practice had very little to do with national security, constitutionalists would have had us seek other ways of accomplishing the landing of jets, as for example, at military air bases and, in a real emergency, commercial airports.

Some have defended these huge constitutional departures by referring to interstate commerce. The Constitution reads, “The Congress shall have Power … To regulate Commerce … among the several States.” Under the original interpretation, commerce among the states did not begin until goods commenced their final movement from their state of origin to that of their destination. It was to ensure that states did not impede commerce, the movement of things, by regulation. This had been a problem necessitating the Constitutional Convention. Who had authority at the border, more especially when the border was a river moving commerce, as the Potomac between Maryland and Virginia? But there was never authority given to create the river or the road? Like postal delivery, another itemized federal power, commerce would use existing roads.

Now the states are addicted to federal handouts. Rather than raise state taxes to fund even big projects, often referred to as TIGER grants, to which they have become accustomed, they do not mind federal slavery as long as the feds do not dry up their federal teat. Fifty years ago they would have resisted losing their independence from the federal government. Now dependent they are likely to resist Trump’s measure to be otherwise. Trump wants to stretch federal dollars to provide the extra percent to put the project over the top.

Dr. Harold Pease is a syndicated columnist and an expert on the United States Constitution. He has dedicated his career to studying the writings of the Founding Fathers and applying that knowledge to current events. He has taught history and political science from this perspective for over 30 years at Taft College. To read more of his weekly articles, please visit www.LibertyUnderFire.org.

Race Baiting Dominates the News

By Harold Pease, Ph. D

In 20 minutes of casual news scanning on just one network, I found five news items dealing with race baiters (those who see racism in everything). They appear to want to rewrite U.S. history emphasizing white oppression. Here is what I learned.

At the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill students, notably UNC’s Black Law Students Association, are preparing to sue the university for violating the 1964 Civil Rights Act (specifically Titles IV and VI) for refusing to tear down a statue of a Confederate soldier known as Silent Sam. They claim that he “violates anti-discrimination laws by fostering a racially hostile learning environment.” Actually Sam is a 1913 memorial to Confederate UNC alumni and an important part of the institutions history.

Another news story spoke of a Texas school district considering renaming schools named after Franklin, Jefferson, and Madison as these names have become offensive to some. Race baiters have in their sites 17 historical figures notably Founding Fathers Benjamin Franklin, James Madison and Thomas Jefferson posing the question, “Aren’t they really racist given their connection to slavery?” The Dallas Independent School District Board has already “recommended name changes for four schools named after Confederate figures, including Confederate Gens. Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson.”

Even Christian Lipscomb University in Nashville, Tennessee seems under the spell with the president apologizing to black students for having cotton, yes cotton, used in a table decoration at a dinner for black students in his home. Ironically the dinner was to discuss African-American experiences at Lipscomb aimed at making the group more comfortable, but race baiters see racism in everything—even cotton. The president, with his tail tucked between his legs (no offense to dogs) responded, “The content of the centerpieces was offensive, and I could have handled the situation with more sensitivity. I sincerely apologize for the discomfort anger or disappointment, we caused and solicit your forgiveness.”

On the other side of the nation Evergreen State College in Washington State just announced the end of litigation against them for having had a “Day of Absence,” requiring all whites to leave the campus for one day so that “non-white students could have a safe space to talk about oppression”—presumably white oppression. Bret Weinstein and his wife, both white and biology instructors at Evergreen, refused the directive to leave, even holding classes, which subjected them to both ridicule and safety concerns.   They sued and won on the basis that the school tolerated—even endorsed—“egregious violations (and even crimes) purportedly to advance racial social goals, diminishing the collegiate experience for all, and fostering racially hostile work and retaliatory environment for faculty and staff.” Thus, “the college has refused to protect its employees from repeated provocative and corrosive verbal and written hostility based on race, as well as threats of physical violence.” The couple was awarded $500,000 but was required to resign from Evergreen State College.

The fifth news story however, in the 20 minute scan of one network, featured a black Trump supporter, Diante Johnson, founder of the Black Conservative Federation, interviewed by CNN, making the case that “there shouldn’t be ‘white guilt’ in today’s America” for how their ancestors may have treated the blacks generations ago.

CNN did not follow up with just why, but Johnson has it right. No white person now living had anything to do with slavery 150 years ago. Even then, it was almost entirely the whites of the north that gave their lives to free the slaves. It was whites that established and maintained the Underground Railroad at considerable risk to themselves and it was white author Harriet Beecher Stow in Uncle Tom’s Cabin, who brought attention to the moral issue of slavery. Even today, race baiters need to be reminded that it was whites that elected the first half-black president, Barack Obama.

Of course, there were abuses of the past. Indians, Chinese, Germans, Japanese, Quakers, Jews and Mormons can all make cases. Race baiters want whites to acknowledge that they are racist and oppressive by nature and should have what they call “white guilt.” The only remedy they seem to accept is compensation, but this is never enough.

But their focus is almost entirely on the blacks and slavery and the then perpetrators and victims are dead and today’s descendants, several generations later, were not wronged. How do they make the case for their receiving compensation for wrongs committed to their ancestors without committing an injustice to those now living—even if it were their ancestors who committed the injustices mentioned? Would they not be the source of new injustice? Why should I pay for the injustices of my ancestors, even worse, when they may not have been the perpetrators? And why should my black neighbor receive a benefit forced from me without creating an injustice to me? Under this logic his posterity will need to atone to my posterity? Could not the same arguments be used against them in a later century?

Today most white Americans are of many races and not racist. Insisting that all whites should have “white guilt “ because of presumed ancestral injustices or confederate association only exacerbates racism, the very thing race baiters insist they wish to end. Then, are not race baiters the “real” racists? That the news gives their racism so much attention should be objectionable to everyone.

Dr. Harold Pease is a syndicated columnist and an expert on the United States Constitution. He has dedicated his career to studying the writings of the Founding Fathers and applying that knowledge to current events. He has taught history and political science from this perspective for over 30 years at Taft College. To read more of his weekly articles, please visit www.LibertyUnderFire.org.

Why “Hate Speech” is, and Should Remain, Constitutional

By Harold Pease, Ph. D

Alexander Hamilton once wrote, “The sacred rights of mankind are not to be rummaged for, among old parchments, or musty records. They are written, as with a sun beam in the whole volume of human nature, by the hand of the divinity itself; and can never be erased or obscured by mortal power.”

One such is the First Amendment to the Bill of Rights, which in part says, “Congress shall make no law … abridging the freedom of speech.” Since neither the executive or judicial branches can make law, only Congress (Art. 1, Section 1), or in the case of the judiciary rule in such a way as to make law, the federal government can impose no restriction on speech and neither can the states as the 14th Amendment made the Bill of Rights applicable to them as well.

Under liberty, speech cannot be qualified by government into types of speech as good, bad, harmful or hateful. Segments of society cannot authorize government to forbid speech they disagree with. It is left to the individual to do it for himself by turning off the television, radio, Internet or not attending an event expected to have such and leaving it when it does. Peer pressure harnesses most unacceptable speech but moving from offensive speech can deal with the rest.

If government could qualify speech into types, levels of restriction would follow with anti-government speech listed as one of the first. The Founding Fathers were at the top of the list in pre-revolutionary times, thus their obsession to forbid a place for government in speech. If government decides these things we are not free, as it will always decide in favor of enhancing itself.

Colleges and universities are places where intellectual debate should flourish and be encouraged. Learning requires the free flow of ideas. Viewpoint diversity, now absent in so many universities, is critical. Restricting viewpoint is tantamount to burning books in medieval times.

Student unrest in many universities last spring demonstrated what is becoming obvious; institutions of higher learning are becoming radicalized and project intolerance for anything but a liberal view. Too few permit conservative or libertarian speakers and far fewer constitutional speakers.

College is supposed to be a big tent housing all types of thinking so that the student can gravitate to what he thinks best after all sides are presented. Although everyone gives lip service to this statement, there still exists a preferred philosophy. Most colleges insist that they adhere to the idea of intellectual diversity, but the literature suggests otherwise, that the vast majority of colleges and universities are weighted in favor of one ideology and professors to one political party. Many political science textbooks acknowledge this. In my field it is rare when professors present more than the preferred philosophy.

There exists a consensus of what a “good education” consists. Students are immersed in race consciousness, feminism, multiculturalism, environmentalism, collectivism, globalism, political activism, class warfare, global warming, acceptance of sexual deviations as normal, and minimization of the importance of Christianity. The end product, the student, must come to accept the above script. It is also in virtually all textbooks. It’s not that any of these notions are bad, in and of themselves, but it is the nearly universal absence of the opposing view that is most troubling.

It is no wonder that in a just completed study of 1500 students; a majority felt that the First Amendment should not protect “hate speech” (which translates to speech they disagree with). In the geographically diverse survey covering college students from 49 states, John Villasenor found that “Freedom of expression is deeply imperiled on U.S. campuses. In fact, despite protestations to the contrary (often with statements like “we fully support the First Amendment, but…), freedom of expression is clearly not, in practice, available on many campuses, including many public campuses that have First Amendment obligations.”

As mentioned, to the question, “Does the First Amendment protect ‘hate speech’?” Most said no. This was so across all three political affiliations liberal, conservative and independent.

Other observations were noteworthy as well. Most, 62% of Democrats and 39% of Republicans also agreed that it was appropriate to shout down a controversial speaker to which they disagreed. With respect to the use of violence to shut down a speaker 20% of Democrats and 22% of Republicans agreed. Most incorrectly believed that the First Amendment required a presentation of a counter view. It does not. Worst yet, as college is supposed to be a place of competing view points, most also expected their institution to provide a learning environment that “shelters them from offensive views.” Nonsense! College is supposed to prepare students for the real world, which has no filters.

This is especially disconcerting as students today do not know the most rudimentary parts of the Constitution and the consequence of this ignorance is serious. As pointed out by the Villasenor Survey, “What happens on campuses often foreshadows broader societal trends. Today’s college students are tomorrow’s attorneys, teachers, professors, policymakers, legislators, and judges.”

“The sacred rights of mankind,” as expressed by Alexander Hamilton, in this instance freedom of speech, is not hidden in old parchment but is, “as with a sunbeam,” in the Constitution. It clearly denies government a function in addressing speech—even so-called “hate speech.”

Dr. Harold Pease is a syndicated columnist and an expert on the United States Constitution. He has dedicated his career to studying the writings of the Founding Fathers and applying that knowledge to current events. He has taught history and political science from this perspective for over 30 years at Taft College. To read more of his weekly articles, please visit www.LibertyUnderFire.org.

September 17, Largely a Forgotten Holiday

By Harold Pease, Ph. D

This Sunday, September 17, is Constitution Day, arguably the most forgotten designated day in America. The mainstream media will say nothing of it. No parades or city council proclamations; nothing of it in the week prior in university classes. No three-day weekend, beer busts or barbecues in its favor. It is as though it never happened. Probably not one in ten can tell what happened on this day in 1787; it has been ignored so long.

But this day positively affected everyone in the United States and is probably the most important day in our history, the day that we institutionalized liberty in America. The day that the Constitutional Convention ended and the Constitution was sent to the states for ratification.

For nearly six thousand years of recorded history governments best described as regimental have dominated man. Only for a few fleeting moments in the past has individual man had anything to say concerning the restrictions leveled on him. Under an occasional benevolent monarchy or an unconcerned king, man has, in rare in­stances, been left to himself and thus somewhat free. And, even more rare were the instances when as in Athens, Rome or at Runnymede, the people, sometimes through persuasion and often by force, instituted changes allowing individual freedom to flourish for a brief time. Our experiment with liberty was one.

Still, until 1787 man did not know how to harness government. Liberty is, in fact, freedom from excessive government and the biggest enemy to individual liberty is, and has always been, government. But the Constitutional Convention, ending on September 17, did just this.

We abolished kings forever in favor of presidents selected by the state legislatures (before the 17th Amendment) for a short, but defined, period of time. We took away the presidents power to make decrees (even laws or rules) over us, allowing him, in a state of the union address to merely suggest changes, otherwise to sign or veto law made by the legislative branch.

The legislative branch, consisting of representatives for the states, (the U.S. Senate) to protect states rights from federal intrusion, and the peoples’ representatives (the House of Representative) to protect the people from federal intrusion, made ALL the law. Both legislative branches from different perspectives, had to approve every law imposed upon the people and all law had to adhere to the constitutional list (Article I, Sec. 8, Cla. 1-18).

Historically, the two areas most sensitive to the people were excessive taxation, as all monies expended were extracted from the people, and unpopular wars, as all injuries, deaths, and suffering was absorbed by the people. Under the Constitution there can never be an unpopular war as the peoples’ representative (The House of Representatives) have total power over raising and funding the army. They must consent to the war by declaration (because they provide blood and brawn for it) and they alone authorize the treasure for it (Art. 1, Sec. 8, Cla. 11). “All bills for raising revenue shall originate” with them (Art. 1, Sec. 7, Cla. 1). The Constitution, if followed as designed, ended for all time both unpopular taxes and war. We became the first nation in history placing the people in charge of both. Moreover, funding for war could not be extended for more than a two-year time period, thus requiring that the war remain the will of the people (Art. I, Sec. 8, Cla. 12).

The Constitution is marked by four divisions of power the first, and most important, being between the states and the federal government with fear of a national government dominant. Our Founders, under the new concept of federalism, allowed two governments to co-exist, neither to be over or under the other, with primarily external issues governed by a federal government and internal issues by the states—like a marriage—equal partners. All power not specifically listed in the Constitution remained with the states. The federal governments powers were listed in Article I, Section 8, Clauses 1-18 or what the states agreed to give them later, but anything thereafter added by amendment required 3/4th of the states to approve (Article V). It was decidedly a limited government from the outset with few federal laws restricting the individual.

The other three divisions divided power at the federal level. Separation of powers with one body, the legislative branch, making federal law, another, the executive branch enforcing it, and a third, the judicial branch, adjudicating it, is basic to the Constitution. But none of these branches were to legislate, execute or adjudicate in a manner to erase or undermine the first division of power between the states and the federal government. No Founding Father supported this.

The Bill of Rights, demanded by the states as a condition of their ratification of the Constitution, further restricted the federal government in many areas. Amendments thereafter 11-24, approved by 3/4th of the states, altered some parts of the Constitution. Still, the federal government remains limited and on notice to remain subservient to the people.

The Constitution remains an enemy to big government, largely supported by both political parties and liberals and conservatives alike, because big government is an enemy to individual liberty. Perhaps this is the reason so few wish to honor it or bring attention to it on Constitution Day. Americans might awaken to their extensive loss of liberty.

Dr. Harold Pease is a syndicated columnist and an expert on the United States Constitution. He has dedicated his career to studying the writings of the Founding Fathers and applying that knowledge to current events. He has taught history and political science from this perspective for over 30 years at Taft College. To read more of his weekly articles, please visit www.LibertyUnderFire.org.

Trump Returns Power to Congress Over Illegal Immigration

Harold Pease, Ph. D

The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program created in 2012 by executive order by then President Barack Obama was 100% unconstitutional; he knew it when he did it, as does everyone who seriously studies the Constitution. He broke the law.

Separation of powers with one body making the law, another enforcing it, and a third adjudicating it, is the most basic principle of the Constitution. In it “all” federal law originates with and is processed through Congress with the President having only the authority to sign or veto law made by Congress and thereafter obligated to enforce all law processed in the same manner, whether he agrees with it or not.

In every presidential inauguration we listen to him pledging by oath to be obedient to it: “I do solemnly swear…that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States” (Article II, Section 1, Clause 8). Making his own law, or refusing to enforce existing law coming through the same process, are grounds for impeachment.

Only Congress can make law (Article I, Section 1). Executive orders that have the force and effect of law are entirely unconstitutional. Those supporting the Constitution must oppose made-up law by a single person regardless of political party or personal agreement with the action. That is how law and order breaks down and chaos, even revolution, results.

Obama’s having done so was one of the most willful violations of the Constitution in U.S. History and, as indicated, certainly grounds for impeachment, but Republicans were afraid to pursue this course. Congress had repeatedly failed to pass legislation creating a way to assimilate children of illegal aliens who, through no fault of their own, only know this country. Still, returning illegal immigrants to their own country was/is the law of the land that every president, member of Congress, and elected official, state or federal, takes an oath to uphold. Obama violated his oath of office by not enforcing the constitutional law of the land, as would President Trump, if he did not return “ALL” legislative powers back to Congress by not renewing the unconstitutional DAPA program.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions correctly stated, “In other words, the executive branch, through DACA, deliberately sought to achieve what the legislative branch specifically refused to authorize on multiple occasions … Such an open-ended circumvention of immigration laws was an unconstitutional exercise of authority by the Executive Branch.”

Immigration law was specifically placed with Congress, which was given the power “to establish an uniform Rule of Naturalization” (Article I, Section 8, Clause 4). Clause 18, of the same section, states, Congress shall have the power “to make all laws necessary and proper for carrying into execution the foregoing Powers.”

The supreme law of the land for immigration is called the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). Section 274 of this titled—Bringing in and Harboring Certain Aliens—requires fines and/or imprisonment of anyone who aids and abets illegal aliens.

Any person who “knowingly” attempts to bring in an alien, has knowledge of, attempts to transport an alien within the U.S., “conceals, harbors, or shields from detection, or attempts to conceal, harbor, or shield from detection, such alien in any place, including any building or any means of transportation; …shall be punished.” Punishment is “for each alien in respect to whom such a violation occurs.” All offenses bring a fine “under title 18, United States Code” and/or imprisonment ranging from 5 to 20 years depending upon the seriousness of the offense.

Illegal immigration law is clear and perhaps too harsh for the children of those who willfully broke the law. Still, many of those brought into the country as children are now adults and this may be the only country they know because of Congress’s inability to build a wall previously and seriously enforce existing law, which is hard to do when the president is the largest violator.

Obama did not take well the news of President Trump’s returning the decisions on immigration to Congress. He referred to it as “self-defeating “ and “cruel.” But it was he who violated existing law and gave these people false hope. In this sense he must share in the accusation of having been cruel. And he now is solely responsible for the anti-Trump rallies on having ended DACA.

Democrats have been successful in persuading illegals, by seemingly offering benefits as they cross the border, that their only hope is through them. Republicans may have a rare opportunity to break this trend and appeal to this group of about 800,000 by allowing them a path to citizenship. This is not to suggest sympathy to the parents but to the children who otherwise have no reason to explore any other political party.   Trump, by allowing the DACA program a six-month extension, instead of immediate closure, which he could have done, has given Congress an opportunity to give these people a home in the only country that they know. This is wise on his part because if Congress does not now respond they alone are to blame—not he—as it should be. It is also constitutional.

Dr. Harold Pease is a syndicated columnist and an expert on the United States Constitution. He has dedicated his career to studying the writings of the Founding Fathers and applying that knowledge to current events. He has taught history and political science from this perspective for over 30 years at Taft College. To read more of his weekly articles, please visit www.LibertyUnderFire.org.