Patterico's Pontifications

3/7/2012

Remedial Constitutional education for Markos Moulitsas

Filed under: General — Karl @ 6:30 am



[Posted by Karl]

As many of you still shun Twitter, I must share with you the wit and insight of nutroots commissar Markos “Kos” Moultisas on Rick Santorum’s Super Tuesday speech:

Following widespread mockery from the right, Kos did what he always does… dig himself a deeper hole:

Apparently, Kos was never taught that the Founders of our nation believed in natural rights, although this is obvious from the opening of the Declaration of Independence:

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

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, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

(Emphases added for easier nutroots comprehension.)  Of course, the Declaration is not the Constitution, even though many of the same people were involved in both projects.  However, as Kos cites the Preamble to the Constitution, it is worth noting as the Supreme Court has, that “[a]lthough that preamble indicates the general purposes for which the people ordained and established the Constitution, it has never been regarded as the source of any substantive power conferred on the government of the United States, or on any of its departments.”  That “We the People” formed a government simply does not mean the people or the government are necessarily the source of rights mentioned in the Constitution.

Kos obviously is unaware of the debate over whether the Constitution should be amended to include what is now known as the Bill of Rights, let alone the role of natural rights in that debate:

The Federalists contended that a Bill of Rights was unnecessary because in their view the federal government possessed only limited powers that were expressly delegated to it by the Constitution. They believed that all powers not constitutionally delegated to the federal government were inherently reserved to the people and the states. Nowhere in the Constitution, the Federalists pointed out, is the federal government given the power to trample on individual liberties. The Federalists feared that if the Constitution were to include a Bill of Rights that protected certain liberties from government encroachment, an inference would be drawn that the federal government could exercise an implied power to regulate such liberties.

Alexander Hamilton, one of the leading Federalists, articulated this concern in The Federalist No. 84. Why should a Bill of Rights, Hamilton asked, “declare that things shall not be done which there is no power to do?” For instance, Hamilton said it was unnecessary for a Bill of Rights to protect the Freedom of the Press when the federal government is not granted the power to regulate the press. A provision “against restraining the liberty of the press,” Hamilton said, “afford[s] the clear implication that a power to prescribe proper regulations concerning it was intended to be vested in the national government.”

The Federalists were also concerned that any constitutional enumeration of liberties might imply that other rights, not enumerated by the Constitution, would be surrendered to the government. A Bill of Rights, they feared, would quickly become the exclusive means by which the American people could secure their freedom and stave off tyranny. Federalist James Madison argued that any attempt to enumerate fundamental liberties would be incomplete and might imperil other freedoms not listed. A “positive declaration of some essential rights could not be obtained in the requisite latitude,” Madison said. “If an enumeration be made of all our rights,” he queried, “will it not be implied that everything omitted is given to the general government?”

Madison ultimately became an advocate for a Bill of Rights.  Kos should read Madison’s arguments, as Madison noted that not all of the rights mentioned in the Constitution are natural rights.  For example:

Trial by jury cannot be considered as a natural right, but a right resulting from a social compact which regulates the action of the community, but is as essential to secure the liberty of the people as any one of the pre-existent rights of nature.

Madison won the day in part by proposing what became the Ninth Amendment, which provides: “The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.”  This amendment in particular was to remind future generations of statists like Kos that our rights predate government.  The Bill of Rights was largely intended to secure pre-existing rights against the new government.  For example, this is why the First Amendment does not state that it creates a right to freedom of speech, but declares Congress shall make no law abridging our freedom of speech.  That Kos seems so ignorant of these concepts is ironic in light of the role they played in the Supreme Court’s decision of… Griswold v. Connecticut, a case which Kos no doubt supports as much as Rick Santorum does not.

–Karl

38 Responses to “Remedial Constitutional education for Markos Moulitsas”

  1. Ding!

    Karl (6f7ecd)

  2. wasn’t it president rapey who said the constitution was “deeply flawed?”

    the internet says why yes it was

    happyfeet (3c92a1)

  3. Conservatives are always saying “where does it say in the constitution….”—for example, people have the right to free birth control—I think it’s perfectly okay to ask where does it mention God?

    tadcf (6f3ab1)

  4. His next response will be STFU racist wingnutz.

    JD (580ac1)

  5. I think it’s perfectly okay to note that “tadcf” drools while standing upright, and that it’s ilk, in general, does not know the difference between Rights and privileges.

    JD (580ac1)

  6. The Declaration of Independence was a manipulative, self-serving press release. Let’s be honest about that.

    As for “creating rights”, you need to start with the assumption that any right exists other than to re-enter the food chain.

    nk (dec503)

  7. Mr. Feets–since the Constitution didn’t keep us out of the mess we’re in now, it probably is “deeply flawed”.

    Just not in the way Obama meant, of course.

    JBS (2d88a8)

  8. Conservatives are always saying “where does it say in the constitution….”—for example, people have the right to free birth control—I think it’s perfectly okay to ask where does it mention God?

    Sure it’s alright to ask a question. But what is the relevance of the question? What is God not being mentioned in the constitution supposed to prove?

    Gerald A (cc0aaa)

  9. Creator?! They were a bunch of new Earth Creationist hicktards hellbent on a theocracy.

    JD (580ac1)

  10. Bible humpers riding dinosaurs!

    daleyrocks (bf33e9)

  11. If he wants to parse language, parse right back at him.

    First, the Preamble says nothing about “We the People” creating rights, but rather speaks to creating a structure to better ensure rights. If none are created, then they must already exist somehow.

    Second, “show me where in the original Constitution it says anything about rights”. As it goes, that word appears only once, in regards to patents and copyrights. And the language used there again indicates a pre-existing right, with Congress only empowered to secure an exclusive version for a limited time to the creator.

    Third, as for where it mentions the divine:
    “done in Convention by the Unanimous Consent of the States present the Seventeenth Day of September in the Year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and Eighty seven and of the Independance of the United States of America the Twelfth In witness whereof We have hereunto subscribed our Names,”
    Of course that’s not what he meant, but there it is.
    More on target is the implicit acknowledgement of the divine in the oath or affirmation required, along with the prohibition of a test between conflicting beliefs.

    Fourth, we come to the Bill of Rights. A careful examination of the language in each shows that still no rights are actually created. Instead each time it declares that a right will either not be infringed (1st, 2nd, and 4th), or will be preserved (6th and 7th), or is phrased without a direct reference to a right (3rd and 8th). Of course that leads back to,

    Fifth, the 9th Amendment, which as noted establishes that rights can and do exist without government.

    Sixth, for all the remaining Amendments, “rights” only appear in regards to voting. Yet again, the language regularly used there, declaring it may not be “denied or abridged”, is constructed to make it a pre-existing condition being defended rather than a new principle being asserted.

    It would seem Kos must be working from a different Constitution, as, per my second point, no rights are created in the U.S. Constitution.

    Sam (e8bed7)

  12. KOS is a Jr.HS level Maroon!

    AD-RtR/OS! (b8ab92)

  13. Here’s a stumper: did the United States exist prior to the Constitution?

    Pious Agnostic (7c3d5b)

  14. Even our current president claimed that our Constitution is phrased in terms of ‘negative liberties’ – and that he’d prefer it wasn’t this way.

    Of course, positive rights conflicts with the 13th amendment against slavery and involuntary servitude. You can’t compel my labor to give you, oh say, birth control pills.

    luagha (5cbe06)

  15. Comment by nk — 3/7/2012 @ 7:01 am

    If it was but a “press release”, it is the standard that all others should be held to.

    AD-RtR/OS! (b8ab92)

  16. I frankly don’t know if Kos grasps the points Karl makes, but I suspect many liberals ignore them because they’re desperate to exclude God from government and our lives.

    DRJ (a83b8b)

  17. They are petrified that they might have to answer to anyone or thing for their actions, because it destroys their concept that the world revolves around them.

    AD-RtR/OS! (b8ab92)

  18. obvious that Kos
    took one too many noogies
    on his way to school

    Colonel Haiku (8c744f)

  19. This is a very good post, Karl. By its simplicity it goes a long way in pointing out, at our core, how essentially differently progressives and conservatives see life. Taking it a step further, even good conservatives/libertarians who are also atheists know that natural man does not (and should not) derive his basic “rights” from *other* men and especially not from temporary governments made up of other men.

    elissa (097996)

  20. Like shooting fish in a tea cup. Kos should have known better.

    Book (5b3f1d)

  21. What? You mean the preamble doesn’t mean there is a general right to welfare when it talks about “promoting the general welfare”?

    Racists.

    Kevin M (bf8ad7)

  22. The notion that our rights are from God are important even if you are an atheist. You are born with them. The government cannot take them from you.

    Noodles (3681c4)

  23. Like shooting fish in a tea cup. Kos should have known better.

    Kos and his ilk believe that the State is the one with rights, and we simply live within its loving bosom. The only rights the people retain are those the government allows them to have. Unless the government is Republicans or other Nazis, in which case the special “good guy” rules apply to them.

    Kevin M (bf8ad7)

  24. If it was but a “press release”, it is the standard that all others should be held to.

    Comment by AD-RtR/OS! — 3/7/2012 @ 9:02 am

    I paid $300.00 in 1977 dollars to hear a pre-law professor say that thing about the Declaration of Independence, in a class I dropped out from and chose to take an “F” rather than complete it. Obama Not From Alabama Rather Be A Lama likely had the same professor but completed the course.

    nk (dec503)

  25. What the government giveth, the government taketh away.

    Just remember that. If the Government is what gives us Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness, then it can take it away.

    If you scoff at that idea, then consider the complaints people have about the encroachment upon their guns, despite the rights given in Second Ammendment.

    Another Anon (f43943)

  26. Taking it a step further, even good conservatives/libertarians who are also atheists know that natural man does not (and should not) derive his basic “rights” from *other* men and especially not from temporary governments made up of other men.

    What elissa said, says this libertarian atheist.

    Brother Bradley J. Fikes, C.O.R. (a18ddc)

  27. The problem is that Kos does not realize that the Bill of Rights is there to provide protection to that which was properly the people’s before the creation of the particular government established in the Constitution, not to confer upon them some privilege that they did not have before. That is why we refer to it as the Bill of Rights rather than the Bill of Revocable Privileges

    Rhymes With Right (7711dd)

  28. tadcf likes it when the government tells him what he can and can’t do.

    Icy (a4ce3e)

  29. Here’s a stumper: did the United States exist prior to the Constitution?
    Comment by Pious Agnostic — 3/7/2012 @ 9:00 am

    — Careful. If he thinks too hard Kos’s head will assplode!

    Icy (a4ce3e)

  30. Don’t mention the Articles of Confederation!

    Brother Bradley J. Fikes, C.O.R. (a18ddc)

  31. Kos should have known better.
    Comment by Book — 3/7/2012 @ 10:52 am

    — Uh, have you met Kos?

    Icy (a4ce3e)

  32. tadcf likes it when the government tells him what he can and can’t do.

    I know people who hate making decisions for themselves and want government/spouses/bosses who make rules for them so they don’t have to.

    Kevin M (bf8ad7)

  33. How come the state can regulate Sudafed for social reasons, but cannot regulate condoms?

    Kevin M (bf8ad7)

  34. I mean, where does it even mention Sudafed?

    Kevin M (bf8ad7)

  35. If the Government is what gives us Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness, then it can take it away.

    You mean like this:

    FEDS SEIZE FOREIGN SITES: Uncle Sam: If It Ends in .Com, It’s .Seizable. Not a lot of respect for Internet freedom in this administration.
    H/T- Instapundit

    AD-RtR/OS! (b8ab92)

  36. I shun Twitter quite deliberately in order to avoid nonsense from idiots like Kos. Why would you want to lower yourself to his 128-character frame of reference? Why truncate meaningful discussions? The fact that you have to re-print it here to escape those limitations, even in mocking something as stupid as this, proves my point.

    Beldar (bdfdef)

  37. Watching Kos on “This Week” was an even bigger waste of time than dealing with Christianne.
    Those minutes can never be recovered.

    AD-RtR/OS! (b8ab92)

  38. ‘’’We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal and endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights,’” Santorum said. “That’s who we are – a country that was built on the idea that rights come to us from God.”’

    Yup, that’s pretty much the size of it all right.

    The right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness (and perhaps some other rights) are rights that come from God, per the founding document of this country.

    The function of government is to secure those rights, and if they fail to do so, we can toss their collective ass out, by any means we care to employ, including armed revolution. The right of the people to alter and abolish governments also must be a God-given right, seeing as how it can’t be a right granted by government. That would obviously make no sense…not even to a leftard.

    That’s what we agreed on when we started the dump, so learn to deal with it, Koz girl.

    Dave Surls (46b08c)


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