Ben Weingarten

Reader. Writer. Thinker. Commentator. Truth Seeker.

Tag: Founding Fathers

Dennis Prager on the Self-Righteously Suicidal West and False Morality, the Disaster of Jewish Leftism, Intentions Versus Outcomes on the Left and Right, Western Values and Immigration, Social Media Censorship and PragerU


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My Guest

Dennis Prager (@DennisPrager) is a nationally syndicated radio host, columnist, author of numerous books, teacher, film producer and co-founder of Prager University — and these titles barely scratch the surface of his tireless and impactful efforts.

In a word, he has dedicated his life to advocating for Judeo-Christian and American values and principles across every medium almost daily to millions of people around the world with uncommon common sense, moral clarity and courage.

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Deep Dive on the Declaration of Independence and its Values, Principles and Relevance to Modern America

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Episode Summary

For Independence Day, I take a deep dive into the Declaration of Independence, discussing its unique place in human history and the cause of freedom; the link between natural law and natural rights, faith and freedom; the Founders’ emphasis on virtue and morality to sustain a free system of limited government; parallels between the charges laid out against King George III in the Declaration and today’s federal Leviathan from the administrative state to sanctuary cities; the Founders’ views on slavery, Abraham Lincoln, Frederick Douglass and failing to live up to the values and principles of the Declaration; the imperative to defend liberty against tyranny.

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What the Founders Said About Draining the Swamp — And How Trump Can Do It

In the wake of the numerous attempts to sabotage President Donald Trump’s agenda in recent weeks from all manner of actors, I write about the challenges of draining the swamp, and what can and must be done to achieve it in a new piece at Conservative Review.

Here’s a taste:

Consider what President Trump is up against: Intense jockeying for positioning at the highest levels of the bureaucracy among individuals seeking to accumulate power to advance their own agendas; holdovers from prior administrations who hate the president’s guts; bureaucrats who have made a decent living for themselves by and are ideologically committed to the state-expanding status quo; rogue judges acting on the basis of politics rather than the law; congressmen on the Left and Right who for their own reasons — primarily getting re-elected and perpetuating their power — wish to see the swamp continue to fester.

These individuals see a president infringing upon their turf, upending their plans, and threatening the power they have amassed over the course of their careers.

Juxtapose this reality with the goings-on of the president’s first few weeks in office: Stories of in-fighting among those at the highest levels of the bureaucracy — replete with a mass of leaks on all manner of sensitive issues; plants from the Obama administration sabotaging the president’s policies; unfriendly bureaucrats openly seeking to undermine the president via social media; litigation over executive orders that disregards the letter and spirit of the law; congressional backsliding on promised agenda items; and, of course, a media all-too-willing to publicize every last story it can spin as damaging in order to delegitimize and discredit the president. These efforts are all geared towards deterring the swamp draining.

President Trump has succeeded throughout his career in cutthroat businesses. To do so in politics will require a deep understanding of the manifold forces arrayed against him, and a strategy to engage them in no holds barred political warfare in all dimensions.

He will have to prioritize his policies, devise strategies to push them through replete with numerous contingency plans given overwhelming resistance, while at every turn protecting against people working to undermine him on the inside and outside.

To counter this will require a flurry of actions in the executive, legislative, and judicial branches, as well as a cohesive messaging plan geared towards both a hostile media and the general public.

He will have to avail himself of all possible means to aggressively strike at the administrative state, coax Congress to trade his big agenda items for its favored policies, and constrain a judicial branch corrupted by far too many progressive justices, while appointing as many rock-ribbed constitutionalists as he can to the federal bench. He will have to thwart a media that will seek to portray him as an authoritarian seeking to harm countless Americans at every turn, while making a clear, concise, and direct pitch to the public as to why his policies are intended to return power to them.

He will be attacked at every turn because such actions will threaten the livelihood of those whose whole careers have been dedicated to accruing power in politics.

If anyone could take the slings and arrows associated with these policies, it is President Trump, who never apologizes and always counterpunches.

He must pair his mettle with the personnel and the plan to achieve his agenda.

Read the whole thing at Conservative Review.

My Interview with Author Bob Curry on ‘Common Sense Nation: Unlocking the Forgotten Power of the American Idea’

Check out my interview for Encounter Books with author Bob Curry on his new book Common Sense Nation, a deep but eminently accessible introduction to the still under-appreciated American Enlightenment that resulted in the Declaration of Independence, Constitution and our nation, among a few other things:

Featured Image Source: Encounter Books.

One Question Every Planned Parenthood Proponent Should Have to Answer

The grotesque videos unleashed by the Center for Medical Progress, evocative of the ghoulish Kermit Gosnell, have been covered extensively elsewhere, and one cannot adequately condemn their content in a simple blog post.

But I do wish to touch on a related issue as our craven Congress “considers” whether to defund Planned Parenthood — as you can tell, I suspect that this effort will simply be more “failure theater.”

The question that must be asked of Planned Parenthood’s proponents is why if there is such deep support for the organization can they not fund it themselves?

Why in this case do progressives believe that government must impose morality, or amorality depending on your perspective, through legislation by forcing millions of Americans to support an organization anathema to them?

Does anyone believe that George Soros couldn’t pull together a consortium to fund the group in perpetuity?

Now of course, Planned Parenthood’s supporters would likely argue its federal funding is justified as a matter of public safety or “general welfare.”

But so are many things for which government has no involvement (or clear Constitutional basis on which to lavish funds), and had no involvement mind you until President Richard Nixon decided it should.

Leave aside that debate however.

What federal funding of Planned Parenthood really gets to is a question of the proper size, scope and nature of government.

The more areas in which government interjects beyond its clearly defined Constitutional prerogatives, the greater the probability that it will use taxpayer funds to support causes that violate the beliefs of large swaths of citizens. This is true on a bipartisan basis.

And this brings us to one of the brilliant insights of the Founders, who created a constitutional republic as opposed to a democracy.

In a republic, the rights of the smallest minority, the individual, are protected because of a limited government with negative rights.

On the other hand, in a democracy we get majority rule, where 51% of the people can vote away the rights of the other 49%. Stated differently, democracy tends to yield a tyranny of the majority, which is wrong in principle and most always in practice no matter what party is in power (can majority rule compel virtue, and would such rule be moral even if it could?).

Were our representatives to have remained true to the vision of the Founders and faithful to our Constitution and its animating principles enshrined in the under-appreciated Declaration of Independence, all Americans would be supporting fewer things that violate their consciences and deeply held beliefs.

In the final analysis, it is our job to hold the politicians’ feet to the fire, whether on Planned Parenthood or an infinite number of other recipients of state largess that we find repugnant.

 

Featured Image Source: YouTube screengrab/Center for Medical Progress.

The Founders Didn’t Fail—We Are Failing The Founders

Conservatives are understandably depressed in the wake of Speaker Boehner and the Republican-controlled Congress’ predictable caving on executive amnesty.

Let me stop right there by emphasizing that I only said conservatives. Were our republic healthy, every single American would be depressed that President Obama’s amnesty—which on dozens of occasions he said he did not have the authority to enforce—will continue apace to the benefit of lawbreakers at the expense of American citizens.

Americans would be further demoralized at the notion that our president politicized the sovereignty of our nation represented by failing to protect its borders, all in a transparent attempt to win a permanent Democratic majority—which the shortsighted Republican establishment seem perfectly fine with, since they want immigration and the idea of “those racist Republicans” to become non-issues.

I have even seen one article arguing that the Constitution itself has failed. But the Constitution and our Founders did not fail. Human nature has not changed between 1787 and 2015. There were undoubtedly plenty of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century booze-swilling, cigar-smoking iterations of John Boehner lumbering around Capitol Hill.

What has changed is the size and scope of government, the number and composition of people who are voting, and the public’s general indifference to and acceptance of the greed, graft, lying, and all matter of corruption that have become commonplace in public life. There is also a heck of a lot more bread and circuses to keep us fat, happy, and distracted from what our supposed leaders are doing.

Read more at The Federalist…

Putting Constitutional Lipstick on a Progressive Pig

In a Washington Post op-ed, E.J. Dionne calls for progressives to reclaim a document that was never theirs, the principles of which are anathema to his fellow progressives. That document is the Constitution.

Dionne is responding to National Review’s Ramesh Ponnuru, who wrote that there is “popular interest in constitutionalism,” and its arbiters should extend beyond lawyers and judges to “legislators, and even citizen-activists, [who] have an independent duty to evaluate the constitutionality of legislation.”

Such a concept should not seem revolutionary. The Constitution derives its power from the consent of the governed who elect representatives tasked with expressly delegated powers. All else falls to the states or the people.

Shutterstock

Shutterstock

Why shouldn’t individuals take an interest in the Constitutionality of legislation passed on their behalf? After all, law is force and represents an encroachment on the people’s liberty – it must be scrutinized under the Constitution or law will lose legitimacy.

But Dionne sees things differently:

“One plausible progressive response is to see Ponnuru’s exercise as doomed from the start. The framers could not possibly have foreseen what the world would look like in 2014. In any event, they got some important things wrong, most glaringly their document’s acceptance of slavery.”

On the first charge, Dionne overlooks the fact that those who created our system of government were astute students of history with a keen understanding of human nature. Dionne neglects the founders’ understanding that the winds of public opinion would inevitably change, they also knew that human nature was unchanging.

The framers studied the governments of great nations that came before them, and formulated a system rooted in the Judeo-Christian principles on which Western civilization is based.

Their emphasis was on ensuring power be divided, checked and balanced to prevent tyranny. They did so because they were wisely mistrustful of fallible man, having studied the classics and seen man’s tendency towards folly.

Not only were they reverent of the past but humble as to their ability to see into the future. Although the founders may not have seen the advent of the federal income tax or the creation of the IRS, EPA, NSA, DOE and the rest of the alphabet soup of bureaucracy, they created a structure that would allow for the system to develop within bounds. They sought to ensure that such changes would be highly difficult to make so as to limit capriciousness, protect the rights of the minority, and again, ultimately prevent tyranny.

Continue reading at TheBlaze…

An interview with the man who literally wrote the book on impeaching President Obama, former fed prosecutor Andrew McCarthy

We conducted an interview with former federal prosecutor Andrew C. McCarthy, author of the new book, “Faithless Execution: Building the Political Case for Obama’s Impeachment,” in which we covered a number of controversial issues, including the case for impeaching President Obama, the Bowe Bergdahl terrorist exchange, Benghazi and Hillary Clinton, and the government’s efforts to chill free speech.

The below reflects a transcript of the interview, conducted via phone, which is slightly modified for clarity and links.

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Who is “Faithless Execution” intended for, and why should both President Obama’s critics and proponents pick it up?

McCarthy: The book is intended for the public broadly, because I really thought and continue to think that there is a lot of misinformation and misunderstanding generally about what the standards are for removal of a president from power, what the wages are of having a lawless president, and what the arsenal is that Congress has to respond to it. It seems that there’s a lot of frustration on the part of people with the fact that the president doesn’t seem to be bound by the law, or certainly doesn’t take himself to be bound by the law, and people seem very frustrated that there doesn’t seem to be much that can be done about it. And point of fact, there’s a lot that can be done about it, but there is a lot of ignorance and misinformation out there about what the remedies are. So, what I hope the book will be is a corrective for people in general about what ways presidential lawlessness threatens the Republic, and what responses the Framers put in place that we could use to combat it.

The central point of your book hinges on the notion that impeachment is both a legal but more importantly political remedy. Thus, despite the merits of the case against President Obama, all is moot without their being broad political support for such proceedings. Can you expand on the thesis, explain why impeachment is primarily a political remedy, and provide a little bit of the history behind impeachment itself? 

McCarthy: Impeachment has two components. There’s a legal component to it in the sense that the Constitution has a threshold or a standard that applies to presidential malfeasance or maladministration – I guess maladministration is a better term because the Framers weren’t just concerned about corrupt behavior – they were concerned about a president who was in over his head so gross ineptitude even if it was well-meaning was something they were very concerned about simply because the presidency that they created was so powerful, and had so much potential to harm the republic that they were concerned about having someone who was unsuited in that position – whether it was unsuited because of corruption or simply because of reasons of incompetence. They had a straightforward legal test for what would be required to remove a president. Treason and bribery are straightforward enough – they’re actual crimes that have a lot of history and people understand them. The thing that people generally have some confusion about are high crimes and misdemeanors, and maybe it’s because of the phrase itself because it mentions “crimes and misdemeanors,” so people naturally think of penal statutes where Congress has enacted laws that qualify as felony criminal offenses or misdemeanor offenses. And that’s not what high crimes and misdemeanors is really about at all.

What the framers discussed when they adopted this standard — and it was very much on their mind because they were all men of the world, they were all men who followed current events, many of them were steeped in British law — at the time the Constitution was being debated in the Convention in Philadelphia in 1787, the impeachment trial of Warren Hastings was ongoing in England, where Edmund Burke had led the effort in Parliament to have him impeached on the basis of high crimes and misdemeanors, so it was a phrase, and a term that was very well known to the Framers. And what it really means is, as Hamilton put it, political wrongs, or the offenses of public officials in whom high public trust is vested. So, it doesn’t have to be statutory offenses, and in many ways it’s easier to understand it in terms of the military justice system rather than the civilian penal justice system because it embraces concepts like dereliction of duty, conduct unbecoming of an officer, and the like. It really is about a breach of trust and there is no more trust in our system than what’s reposed in the president, who by the way is the only one in the government who constitutionally is required to take an oath of office of the kind that’s spelled out in the constitution, which requires him to swear to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution. The failure to do that, more than any statutory offense, was something the Framers were much more concerned about.

So the legal test of high crimes and misdemeanors is pretty straightforward. If you have situations where the president violates the trust of the American people by undermining our system and its checks and balances, those would qualify as high crimes and misdemeanors. A president who is dishonest with the public or dishonest in reporting important matters of foreign affairs to Congress and the like would be guilty of high crimes and misdemeanors. A president who is derelict in his duties as commander-in-chief is guilty of high crimes and misdemeanors even though there is no penal offense in the federal code that would match up with that. But the Framers were also very concerned that impeachment not be the result of partisan hackery, trivial offenses, or matters of factions (so the president’s part of one faction, Congress is controlled by another, and they can impeach him just for those political and power reasons).

Read more at TheBlaze…

 

Free Speech in Name Only

The cruel irony of what happened to Maria Conchita Alonso this past week lies in the following: Here was a woman descended from Communist Cuba, who emigrated to the United States from Communist Venezuela, only to find herself a victim of the more insidious totalitarianism of a monolithic Leftist artistic establishment.

For those unfamiliar, Maria Conchita Alonso is a Cuban-born, Venezuelan-raised actress who had the temerity to endorse a conservative gubernatorial candidate in California. Even worse, in an interview she said she supported candidate Tim Donnelley’s views on immigration, using the term “illegal” to describe immigrants who were here…well…illegally.

Maria Conchita Alonso with candidate Tim Donnelly. (Image source: YouTube raw video)

The penalty for her thought crime? Alonso was compelled to “resign” from her role in a Spanish-Language version of the “Vagina Monologues” set to run in San Francisco’s Mission District in mid-February.

Eliana Lopez, the producer of the show, and herself a fellow Venezuelan actress, said “We really cannot have her in the show, unfortunately…Of course she has the right to say whatever she wants. But we’re in the middle of Mission. Doing what she is doing is against what we believe.”

Stated differently, here was a Hispanic woman telling another Hispanic woman that her views on Hispanic immigration were too odious to be given sanction by a role in a performance. Apparently not all wise Latina women are born equal.

Maria Conchita Alonso is just the latest in a series of victims of the Left’s fatwa against anyone who does not hew to the party line in recent years.

Continue reading at TheBlaze…

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