Sunday, January 17, 2010


I apologize for the scarcity of posts lately. I have been experiencing server problems and have had a tough time getting on-line. Hopefully, that's corrected. On to the festivities.

Judge Napolitano has recently put together one of the best primers on constitutional law I've seen in years. Although, from a libertarian bent, it does talk to the framer's original intent. He does a nice job of explaining what the constitution is really all about. For those among us who like to read into the words of the constitution, you are on shaky ground. The seventeen enumerated powers are unequivocal in their wording. We have allowed the thirst for power of our elected officials to override the intent of the framers to curb the power of the federal government.

I have experienced the tyranny of the federal government on two occasions as a police officer. The first was the 55 MPH speed limit. This has been shown to be folly in saving gas and did serious damage to the trucking industry and in turn the economy as a whole. How did the federal government enforce it? It threatened to withhold highway money, extorted through gas taxes, from the state unless they gave in. Most did.

I spent a lot of my time as a midnight shift officer arresting DUI drivers. During my career the Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) was .10. Under pressure from MADD and other organizations the BAC was lowered to .08. How did they coerce the states? Federal highway money.

When coercion is the rule of the day, the government is out of control. I enforced the laws of my jurisdiction, but I also recognized that the government was heavy-handed in its zeal to enforce its vision of a better America.

Where does it all stop?


Ducky's here said...

I get a little edgy when these Libertarians start talking about "freedom". It's like some psychosomatic vocal tic and they should really go to the clinic and have it checked out.

I urge Judge Nepalitano to petition the court and get this all straightened out. Should be a stitch listening to him resolve the commerce clause and the 55 limit (which is gone).
Yes, mistakes are made and everything human takes time but the extreme Libertarian position has failed badly also.

The guy's a judge. What's a judge? A schmuck with an opinion and an agenda. Look for wisdom elsewhere is my recommendation. These guys are lamer than economists.

Law and Order Teacher said...

Thanks for the visit. I agree that the Libertarian position has its flaws. As Jonah Goldberg said, "If it wasn't for children the Libertarian position would be perfect."

As for 55/.08 goes, his position is well taken, in that government has used coercion to bring about their legislation. Sometimes that's good, sometimes that's bad.

The point is that government bears watching at all times and a vigilant citizenry is what allows a republic to survive.

As for economists, they're about as accurate at weather people. You're right.

Thanks again for the visit.

Z said...

The constitution is "unequivocal?" then Obama and his minions are under arrest, right? Can I watch?
Can we get some water boards? :-)

We have 55 mph laws here in CA, trust me.....In Germany, there are no speed laws on the autobahn and there are a lot less accidents because there are also lane-changing HERE:

"In places without a general limit, there are mostly also no restrictions on overtaking (save for the general prohibition to overtake on the right side). Therefore, those traveling at high speeds may regularly encounter trucks running side-by-side at only about 80 km/h. In theory, trucks are not allowed to overtake others unless they drive 20 km/h faster than whomever they are overtaking, but truck drivers are generally under pressure to arrive in time, and such laws are rarely enforced for economic and political reasons, as many trucks are from foreign countries. The right lane of a typical autobahn is often crowded with trucks, and too often, trucks pull out to overtake" But, when there IS an accident it's usually a bad one and in the countryside, they don't have exists anywhere NEAR as close as we've got them so when you're stuck, you might as well get out and fire up a barbecue or something!

Coercion is bad and pork is bad; term limits either go into effect or America's nothing but a cesspool of special interests.

Thanks for your visit, L&O!

Oso said...

I would suggest that what you describe is a microcosm of how large organizations react,unfortunately.

Lobbyist/interest group coerces govt into the 55 mph limit.
If it's shown to be a bad law the auto industry is coerced into making vehicles which operate better at 55 mph with the cost passed on to the consumer who is also taxed into subsidizing the trucking industry to make up for its economic losses.......instead of merely going back to 65 mph.

The same thinking permeates our foreign policy IMO.

Ducky's here said...

The point is that government bears watching at all times and a vigilant citizenry is what allows a republic to survive.


Yes, it odes and a critical problem for the left is how to manage that power.

The right would do well to be cognizant that while they are talking about "freedom" they also let it slip out the back door as militarists and the financial sector subvert it.

We have unsolved problems. My tack is to take stock of my world view and try to construct something that implements at least part of it. That requires that I take some from the left, especially the honest understanding that the "efficient unregulated market" as a concept is an utter crock.
The task is to build from that while allowing considerable freedom, especially of expression (but remember, I'm a fine arts major). It requires open discussion and compromise and those items are woefully lacking in the country these days.

Law and Order Teacher said...

If I was to describe myself and believe me, I have struggled for a tag, I would say I'm a constitutional conservative.

The constitution is unequivocable inasmuch as the enumerated powers are just that, enumerated. What's written down is the law. To read things into the constitution is against everything that the Founding Fathers were about.

I've never talked to them, although my students think I have, but I've read extensively and I feel comfortable saying this.

Thanks for the visit.

Thanks for the visit. You and I agree on a lot of things. The government is nothing more than the largest organization in American history. The costs of it are staggering. Most large organizations act in order to preserve themselves. As for foreign policy, I leave that to you. Would you care to expound?

Thanks again for your comment. I don't think power has to be managed per se. The market in its most pure form should work for the betterment of itself without regulation.

However, humans being human are wont to steal from each other and therefore some form of regulation is not an entirely bad thing. You have just wrung an admission of some necessity for government power from me. Well done.

As for being a militarist, I don't ever want to see war again in my lifetime. Unforunately, it's an inevitable event and that I regret to say. Humans being human and all. Thanks again for the comments.

Oso said...

Hi L&O,
I would take Afghanistan as one example of policy mistakes being compounded by more mistakes.The Taraki regime tried to bring their country into the 20th century and angered the Islamists and drug dealers.We saw this as a chance to lure Russia into a morass like Vietnam was for us.We encouraged the Arab kingdoms (Egypt,Yemen, the Saudis)to send their troublesome fledgling jihadists for training to fight the communists.
The regime collapses and now trained jihadists return to their countries of origin. We need to supply intelligence and weapons to help keep our client regimes deal with these guys.

During this time we arm Saddam to take down the Iranians which devolves into a bloody war which legitimizes the theocracy we wanted to destabilize.Common enemy. So Iran is stronger and Iraq is now broke so they invade Kuwait. We can't let SH threaten the Saudis so we intervene and drive him back. Now we're on Holy Land and the jihadis now hate us and plan to take us down like they think they took the Soviets down. They also hate their countries Shia who turn to Iran so Iranian influence spreads. And that's not even mentioning taking Iran down in '53 following nationalizing their oil !

Oso said...

A little simplistic,I realize.Like one of your students getting up early to throw an essay together before class starts !

Anonymous said...


TRUTH 101 said...

Your post shows a fundamental difference in the thought process of Libs and Conservatives LaOT.

When bad behavior threatens members of society we (this Lib anyway. I can't speak for the others) want something done. What other entity has the scope and authority to create and enforce laws?

All entities will from time will display bad judgement. We're human. We are subject both to base human emotions such as greed and anger. We also have a ned to do good. Thus we end up with laws that over reach like the 55 mph speed limit you cited.

I'm not capable academically of discuusing the Constitution with you LaOT. I will say that there is no way our Founding Fathers could have known the technologies of our times. Privacy issues and trade issues and other issues we face now could not possibly have been forseen by them. To only view and apply the Constitution in a manner our Founding Fathers would have looked at issues that applied during their time is in my opinion unwise.

In their wisdom, the procedure for adding amendments foresaw this. To just say that the Founding Fathers didn't intend for this or that, after providing the means to update and amend, disrespects their wishes and ideas.

Pasadena Closet Conservative said...

You were between a rock and a hard place.

Law and Order Teacher said...

Thanks for the visit. I don't see that this is a lame attempt. Your understanding of history in the Middle East if good. The whole Cold War was "fought" between the two superpowers by lining up proxies to fight for them. This necessitated dealing with dictators who professed to be democrats when in reality they weren't a whole lot better than the commies. Good information, thanks.

Thanks for visiting. Your comment was incisive on this point is very good. Liberals and conservatives do see government's role differently.

I think the push and pull between both about the role of government is what keeps the republic honest. I always will come down on the side of less government. I believe Natural Law is at the root of our government and as such the government cannot give me rights, because I was already endowed by my creator with natural rights as a result of my humaness.

Your view is more a positivist bent in that you feel that government does not recognize artificial constraints on government such as natural laws. This lack of constraints allows government to enact whatever it feels to be in the interest of people.

I don't think the founding fathers envisioned a central government with the power that exists today. This at the cost of state's rights. As I've said before, your trust in government is, I think, naive.

As for the amendment process, I think if you check the amendments they are with few exceptions mechanical, passed to make the government work more efficiently, in theory anyway. If you check the wording of those first ten, the Bill of Rights, they are worded not to bestow rights on Americans but to acknowledge that these rights already exist.

The founding fathers did not begin the business of bestowing rights, but wrote the Constitution to limit government and acknowledge the natural rights of Americans.

Thanks for your comment.

Law and Order Teacher said...

Thanks for the visit. Doing one's duty is sometimes conflicting that's for sure.

Bloviating Zeppelin said...

I too worked during the era of the Double Nickel. And my response was: NO cites on the freeway. I HATED 55. Yes, it DID turn truckers into "outlaws." And then, as now, I determine that I HAVE DISCRETION to enforce the laws I wish when I wish.

And yes, I was around when my state went from .10 to .08. I still worked deuce turnovers for my agency.

Where does it stop? you ask. It stops when you and I, and my brothers and sisters, make a pact to enforce what we believe to be legal, lawful, using discretion in terms of the LETTER of the law and the SPIRIT of the law.

For those of you who don't care for discretion utilized by cops, go take the tests yourself and make your own difference.

I'm still here. Using common sense. Applying the laws. And bringing up, as I can, my own Next Generation of puppy coppers.


Bloviating Zeppelin said...

And thanks for pointing out Judge N's series. Time for me to load that into my blog for education.


MadMike said...

I agree with every word and every experience. Been there done that and thought it was very stupid. Good post man!!

Carl Wicklander said...

With a country as big as ours and with as many people as ours, and with a government that assumes the tasks that ours does would be toothless unless it was fundamentally coercive. That's the problem and it could be resolved through some old-fashioned federalism.

Truth is right that the Founding Fathers couldn't have envisioned 200 years ago what would happen to us today, but they wrote and amended the Constitution with a good reading of history and human nature. That's why they included the amendment process and knew that man had to bound by chains (metaphorically speaking, no letters, please!) so as not to become too corrupt.

Corruption is inevitable with fallen man and power exacerbates it because that fallen nature applies to people in government as well, not just to the citizenry.

TRUTH 101 said...

To take this a bit deeper LaOT, who other than government will enforce the laws that protect us under The Bill of Rights?

My position isn't necessarily "more government." But "enough government."

You brought up 55mph. That was bad law and over reaching government. I could bring up Enron or the financial sector crash as examples of government not fulfilling it's responsiblity to protect the public.

There is common ground here. At least among us. Can't say that for the people that run things. It's a far more effective campaign slogan to demand "less government intrusion" than demanding the correct balance of it.

Good day to you Mr. LaOT. I hope I earn a good grade in your class sir.

Will "take no prisoners" Hart said...

Sodium, transfats.....In the words of Al Pacino from "Scent of a Woman", "I'm (in this case, the government) just getting warmed up."

PRH....... said...

The left leaning citizens of Taxyer2shits gave the Worship driven Obama Lemmings a kick in the ass last night. And make no mistake it was a vote against Barry and ObamaCare....not to mention BIG Government!

Law and Order Teacher said...

I'm fighting computer problems. I agree that some of the things we are forced to enforce is PC crap. We have an Ethnic Intimidation law in Ohio. I despise hate crimes legislation on constitutional grounds. It criminalizes thought.

We have to fight this crap from now on. We have some wind at our back. The independents are leading the way. Thanks for the visit.

One of the most frustrating experiences as a LEO is trying to do the job without all the polictics involved. I guess really that's impossible though, huh? Thanks for the visit.

I get what you are saying. Less government intrusion is more palatable and catchy than "the right amount of government." I don't say that government should be completely without a role.

My point is that the founders limited its role in the constitution with the enumerated powers. They even saw fit to then say specifically what government can't do. They followed by saying that those powers not given to the federal government are reserved to the states and the people, not once but twice (ninth and tenth amendments.)

You are right in the fact that we do have areas of agreement. I do believe government has a role. Enough government is the discussion. It is just much smaller and less intrusive (sorry) than what they have assumed today.

Thanks for the visit. I believe the constitution is that set of chains. The amendment process has for precious few time expanded rights. It more often corrected mechanical problems or restricted the government. That's what it was designed to do. As Madison said in Federalist 51, "If men were angels no government would be necessary."

That definitely was a shot across the bow of presidents and congresses that had expanded governmental power, and spent taxpayer money wildly. I hope they got the message. I don't think they have.

Creeping government oozes. Thanks for the visit.