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Daily Archives: March 15th, 2018


Dr. Larry Arnn poses the question in the first lecture of Hillsdale College’s free online Constitution 101 course.

By Bre Payton
March 7, 2018

Was America’s founding merely revolutionary? Or in breaking with England, did our Founding Fathers seek to safeguard, conserve if you will, ancient values and truths?
To answer that question, one must view American history through three national crises — its founding, the Civil War, and the rise of progressivism, which still rages on. Increasing hostility to religious freedom and a misguided understanding of the separation of powers prevalent throughout government threaten to unravel America’s constitutional fabric. To keep our freedoms, Americans must understand their true source. We must also understand how our nation’s Founders drafted a Constitution and a system of government devised to protect these liberties.
To Keep Our Freedom, We Must Know Who We Are

In the first lecture of Hillsdale College’s free online Constitution 101 course (which you can take along with me here), Larry Arnn poses a question: “Was the American founding revolutionary or conservative?” He argues that it is both. In seeking to overthrow the rule of the oppressive British government, a revolutionary act, the founders sought to conserve natural law — the highest and oldest source of law.
To understand America, one must understand the country’s four “causes,” the ancient notion that everything man makes has attributes that help explain what a thing’s purpose is. These four causes are: material cause, or the substance a thing is made out of; the efficient cause, or the entity which crafts a thing; the formal cause, a pattern or type something is modeled after; and the final cause, or a thing’s purpose.
America’s material cause is the geographic area of land and its people. Its efficient cause are the men who drafted the Constitution, who fashioned our government and led the revolt against the British crown. The formal cause is the Constitution and our governmental structure. The final cause is the idea of self government as outlined in the Declaration of Independence.
The Declaration Says Legitimate Rulers Must Subjugate Themselves To Natural Law
The opening words of the Declaration of Independence appeal to an authority higher than the king of England, who these patriots were rebelling against.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it.

This document puts forth the idea that all men everywhere in the world are equal in the eyes of God and that they are each endowed with rights which no ruler can infringe upon. These ideas, Arnn explains, are ancient ones. Natural law, truth, beauty, the ideal, transcend any one leader or moment in time. Aristotle, Plato, Socrates and other ancient thought leaders affirmed natural law’s unchanging nature — a nature that holds supremacy over human lords or masters.
The American Revolution Sought To Conserve Ancient Truths
Writing in approximately 51 B.C.E. Marcus Tullius Cicero states that true law knows not the bounds of time nor space. Natural law does not stop at geographic borders, but is imprinted upon everything in nature itself and is discernible to all men. Cicero states that the source of these laws does not come from man, but from an eternal unchanging source that authored the laws of physics, truth, beauty, and morality into existence.
True law is right reason, consonant with nature, spread through all people. It is constant and eternal; it summons to duty by its orders, it deters from crime by its prohibitions. Its orders and prohibitions to good people are never given in vain; but it does not move the wicked by these orders or prohibitions. It is wrong to pass laws obviating this law; it is not permitted to abrogate any of it; it cannot be totally repealed. We cannot be released from this law by the senate or the people, and it needs no exegete or interpreter like Sextus Aelius. There will not be one law at Rome and another at Athens, one now and another later; but all nations at all times will be bound by this one eternal and unchangeable law, and the god will be the one common master and general (so to speak) of all people. He is the author, expounder, and mover of this law; and the person who does not obey it will be in exile from himself. Insofar as he scorns his nature as a human being, by this very fact he will pay the greatest penalty, even if he escapes all the other things that are generally recognized as punishments.
Cicero’s words echo throughout the Declaration, in which the Founders state it is man’s right to reject a leader who does not subjugate himself to natural law — laws which require a leader to acknowledge the equality of man, his right to worship, and to speak freely without fearing government interference.
These objective realities and the laws of nature are not subject to human rulers, the Founders wrote. Those in authority must submit to these laws. These notions set forth in their Declaration to revolt against the crown were an effort to conserve the ancient principles — truths that had been trampled on by kings who were emboldened by bad theology.

The Founders argue that everyone, even the king, is subject to the laws of nature. In order to be a legitimate ruler, the Founders assert that those in power must recognize and adhere to the laws of nature. If a king or a system of government thwarts these laws, he or she does not posses a legitimate right to rule.
While the American Revolution certainly was revolutionary by definition in that it overthrew the British government in a violent, bloody war, it was not one that threw out tradition and ancient values only to start from scratch. The Founders fought and broke from England in order to preserve these truths and to subjugate themselves to the laws of nature.
Bre Payton is a staff writer at The Federalist. Follow her on Twitter.

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Explanation of The Con.MA

Matt Bai 1 hour 16 minutes ago

Remember that time, way back about two weeks ago, when President Trump berated leaders of his own party, in front of a room full of cameras, for being afraid of the NRA, and he vowed to pass a bipartisan bill that would make it harder for kids to get assault rifles?
Yeah, well, in case you missed the latest — which wouldn’t have been hard, since the one-day story was instantly eclipsed by a Cabinet shakeup and a special election — that whole thing went away Monday with a mumbled “never mind” from the White House.
Apparently gun control is really hard, and you actually have to focus on it and change some minds and anger some of your friends. Why go through all that when you’ve already gotten the headline you were after?
Kind of like the time in January when Trump did the same thing on immigration, summoning lawmakers from both parties to the White House and declaring his full support for a bipartisan compromise. That lasted until breakfast the next day.
And you can already see where this alleged breakthrough summit with the North Korean dictator, Kim Jong Un, is probably headed. The shocking announcement last Thursday played on TV like the dramatic opening of a thriller. It’s been a silent movie ever since.
We’ve been covering this presidency for more than a year now, and we’ve seen enough to know that it really isn’t the wild, unpredictable ride we keep saying it is, which is also what Trump would like you to believe. In fact, there’s a highly predictable pattern here, and it all adds up to a breathtaking hypocrisy.
The president who ran an entire campaign against the phoniness and timidity of conventional politics turns out to be phonier and more timid than any of those who came before.

This was Trump’s big appeal to a lot of moderate and independent voters who were understandably disgusted by the state of Washington — the ones who didn’t find his neo-nativism all that inspiring. Trump was supposed to be a man of action and deal making.
Whatever came of it, good or ugly, this wasn’t a guy who would settle for a presidency built on empty slogans and Rose Garden photo-ops.
Trump’s pitch was that candidates were always talking about challenging the norms of Washington, but once they got elected, all they ever did was mouth platitudes from a teleprompter. That’s what Trump meant when he told an Ohio audience last year: “It’s so easy to act presidential, but that’s not going to get it done.”
He was back on this theme even last week, at a rally in Pennsylvania, when he comically mimicked the way a typical president is supposed to endorse candidates, shuffling around the stage and mumbling like a zombie.
Well, all right. But can you imagine, for a moment, what would have happened if President Obama had announced to the world a plan to remake the health care system, and then decided never to bring it up again?
Can you picture a world in which George W. Bush would have gone before Congress vowing to drive the Taliban from Afghanistan, and then issued a terse statement a few days later saying it was too hard so never mind?
This is exactly what Trump does, again and again. Forget the standard photo ops; his entire presidency, save for a giveaway-laden tax bill that actually originated in Congress, is a string of dramatic flourishes, without even the aspiration to translate them into something like actual governance.
Even this big tariff program he announced, which instantly sent world markets into a spiral, turns out to be mostly bravado. The administration is exempting our biggest source of steel imports, Canada, along with Mexico, and it’s already hinting at a deal with the Europeans. In the end, for all the big (and, I think, misguided) talk of protectionism, a fraction of imports will be affected.
And then there was Trump, just this week, visiting the prototype for his long-promised wall in San Diego. You know, the one the Mexicans were supposed to be paying for.
Theatrics, nothing more.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention, too, another idea Trump floated the other day, bringing a thousand sleepy headline writers to life: a new space force for the military. (“That could be the big, breaking story,” Trump said helpfully, in case the assembled reporters didn’t know an entertaining nugget when they heard one.)
Never mind that this idea, as the Atlantic wisely noted, has already been out there a while, and Trump’s administration is on record opposing it. Trump was just looking for an attention-getter. He’ll have Mattis training junior Jedi’s in Disneyland before he ever gets around to following up on that one.

None of this should surprise us. As I’ve written many times, Trump personifies the entangling of politics and entertainment.
He comes from the world of “unscripted television,” which is only unscripted in the sense that the actual words aren’t written down for the actor to recite. The plot lines are pre-ordained and calibrated to explode in primetime, the overarching directive being to never bore an audience.
Before that, in the 1980s, Trump honed his celebrity as New York’s serial self-promoter, gaming the gossip columnists the way J. Edgar Hoover once played Walter Winchell. Trump the socialite developer learned at least as much about building brands and expectations as he did about building gaudy towers.
Trump isn’t really a man of action. He’s a man of artifice. He talks and he talks and he talks, the world’s foremost expert on dominating a news cycle, knowing all along that by the time we realize none of it’s real, he’ll have ushered us along to whatever’s next.
And this is the point – that, as an industry, we who chronicle this president and his novel brand of politics seem always to be a step behind the game. During the primaries in 2016, the ratings-obsessed cable channels let Trump call in to shows and carried his rallies live and unedited. (They still do, apparently.)
Only when Trump was well on his way to the nomination did they realize that they’d been played for free advertising. By then, though, Trump had figured out that he could manipulate campaign coverage just by tweeting something outrageous whenever he wanted to change the subject.
Now that Trump is president, we’ve done what we must, which is to cover his various pronouncements with at least some of the solemnity the office demands. When the president of the United States says he’s warming to the idea of a new fleet of space soldiers, because maybe he caught the last half hour of “Contact” on Starz last weekend, we are duty bound to note it.
Generally, I think the media have done a pretty good job of injecting both fact-checking and skepticism into our coverage of Trump, in a way we would have resisted a generation ago.
But we’re still letting this president perform for the cameras as if he were actually planning to govern, without giving nearly as much attention to what happens on the issue once the cameras are gone. We’re still allowing ourselves to be carried along by one dramatic turn after another, because Trump knows instinctively that if he keeps us moving today, we won’t have time to dwell on whatever he promised yesterday.
Trump was dead right about our politics over the years — too much of it became a tired kind of stagecraft. But that kind of stagecraft was almost always designed to sell an agenda.
And that’s the distinction between a serious politician and a con artist. The latter only sells himself.

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