Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Bundy's Ranch: The Rule of Law, Rights, State Powers and Civil Disobedience

I haven't been able to dig very deeply into the material on Bundy Ranch yet, new job & all, but there is a fundamental involved in the case which applies far beyond one rancher in Nevada, it is fundamentally at the root of this controversy and so many others today, and I've seen it referred to, claimed by, or ignored by, both sides: the Rule of Law.

In responding to a tweet the other day, I'd said that:
"When is Law less than Law?When its based upon nothing but laws."
Which baffled and infuriated some fine folks in the twitterverse:
  • "I guess we can ignore any law that is based on laws. All then
  • That is bullshit! Laws r laws! U don't get to pick & choose! That is claptrap! U follow the law or u don't! Its simple!
  • We r supposed to be a nation of laws. #ClivenBundy doesn't get to just ignore laws he disagrees with & pull a gun!"
That sort of response, from the left and the right, worries me more than any other aspect of the case.

Ladies and Gents, 'Rule of Law' means much more than if there's a law, you obey it - nothing in that differentiates the Western conception of the Rule of Law from the expectations of any of the worlds tyrants who also have reams of laws which they fully expect everyone to obey as well. It also means more than the somewhat higher concept that 'No one is above the law', and the lack of depth shown in these very passionate responses, gives an indicator of just how large the problems are that we face in righting the bad laws which burden our courts and our lives. The question that we need to be asking ourselves more than any other, is the one Dana Loesch asked last week, 'What is the Rule of Law?"

Frightening to consider just how wrong
this confrontation could have gone

At the very least you should understand it to mean that no particular law exists separate & apart from the entire body of our laws. Each law must integrate with related laws without direct contradictions, else they must be modified or overruled, forming precedents which themselves must stand the same testing process, and all of which, in America, must fit within our constitutional framework - and that framework must remain rooted in a foundation of Right Reason, which is what all of our laws draw their legitimacy from.

Wait, what? Right Reason? Whu...?

Before looking at what I mean by that, let's first try disregarding it.

Let's assume that "When is Law less than Law?When its based upon nothing but laws." is just silly and meaningless drivel, and let's suppose that laws need no further basis than the agreement of other laws to validate them.

Ok, then ask yourself:
  • Q: What then can become law?
  • A: Whatever the lawgivers provide

When law alone justifies law, then by legislation or court judgment, it could be lawful, based upon nothing more than a stroke of the pen to create the necessary basis in law, to take half or all, of your earnings, by law? As it would be lawful to spy on you? To monitor the activities in your bedroom? Lawful to validate or invalidate your marriage? Lawful to prevent you from having more than one child? Or demand that you have more? Lawful to designate unpopular minorities to be used as subjects in medical testing?

Here's another question for you:
  • Q:What is it you imagine that could not become law?
  • A: Nothing.

What? Are you wanting to say
"No, they can't just make anything a law, we're a democracy afterall, a majority of the people have to approve!"
No, sorry, EHHH! When you say that laws need nothing but laws to stand upon, then you don't get to reach outside of the laws in order to regulate the writing of them. If you claim that 'the rule of law' requires nothing but other laws to justify them, then that's that. In a circular system such as that, what those who write the laws, say is law, acquires the unquestioned force of law, whether those who write the laws choose to write them fairly or unfairly, passing them by majority rule, or by dictatorial rule, decreeing by law that the laws are hence forth to apply to some, many or all of the people; for whatever the laws say are lawful, are but the result of the arbitrary choices of the lawmaker(s) who have the power to write the laws, and the laws that justify them.

That is the Pro-Regressive ideal of Might Makes Right, and it is the essence of the legal school of Positive Law that has led our judicial system for the last century. With that as the basis for the laws, parents soon find that they have little say in the education of their own children, and indeed children can be lawfully taken from their parents, or it can be ruled, as it was done by Judge Taney's court in the Dred Scott case, that it is perfectly lawful for one person to own another person, or as that judicial titan of the 20th century, Oliver Wendell Holmes, idol of left and right, thought that the Supreme Court could rightfully rule that people judged to be 'botched' could be sterilized against their will, since:
"...It is better for all the world, if instead of waiting to execute degenerate offspring for crime, or to let them starve for their imbecility, society can prevent those who are manifestly unfit from continuing their kind..."
, and in each of these cases, and more, each law, as it was justified by other laws, was every bit as legal as laws forbidding robbery - not because the laws are valid and Just, but simply because they are laws which other laws have said are justified. The old maxim of Gresham’s Law,'bad money drives out good'. should be kept firmly in mind because it most certainly applies to law as well, what is Just and Right is driven out by what is unjust and made with more concern for the exercise of power than the evaluation of Right and Wrong. Such laws are laws, not because they aspire to some degree of rightness, but because those in power, whether one or many, favor them - they can make no claim to valuing what is right, let alone of actually being right. And if there is any law, or judgment that is made against you through such laws which you object to, you will find that you have no other recourse but to those same laws, administered by those in power, who are applying them against you.

And should those in power pull out their pens and phones to alter the laws as they see fit? Then what was legal yesterday can become illegal tomorrow, and you may very well wake up to find yourself an outlaw for any number of reasons, such as not turning in your legally purchased arms which have been made illegal with the stroke of a pen, or for not buying health care insurance you'd decided you didn't need. Under such a system of 'justice', if the whims of lawmakers transform you, through your once legal actions, into a criminal, then that's just too bad for you.

You do see the problem here, don't you? 'Dana summed it up well,"
"...What is the rule of law if the rule can be broken? What is the rule of law if it is inconsistently applied according to politics? If we’re going to discuss rule of law, this situation would have never happened in the first place. The Bundys and those who agree with them aren’t devaluing the rule of law, rather, they’re pointing out how those who have violated the rule of law are now trying to hold it up as a standard of measure. Bureaucrats writing their own regulations to later violate is a bad thing. Making a specious argument based on a situationally-endangered turtle is a bad thing...."[emphasis mine]
Those who are writing the laws, those administrating the laws, those writing regulations having the force of law, and who are calling people like Cliven Bundy 'domestic terrorists' for opposing their laws, are themselves the ones who have no visible regard for the Rule of Law. Laws written without reference to anything other than other laws for their own justification, serve only to put you entirely under the power of those who write the laws, and you can be sure that justice will not be their purpose.

Laws, to be good laws, to be Just laws, must be derived through and justified upon some standard outside of the laws themselves, and no, ladies and gents, simply providing a written constitution is not enough. A constitution which refers to nothing but itself, is simply another circular means of having laws justify other laws, and as we just saw, it doesn't take a lot of thought to grasp that without external references, such circular laws are in reality illegitimate. But. We can know that only because you are yourself making that judgment by evaluating them based upon something outside of the laws themselves. Our Constitution, when it was still alive within We The People, was rarely thought of apart from those principles external to it - that was what gave our Rule of Law legs in reality as well as a standard to judge their soundness by. With that as the standard for our laws, then we have a means of discovering its shortcomings, and also a guide for how to right them (see the 13th, 14th & 15th amendments).

So what is that standard?

Right Reason
There are two statements about the Law that are vital to the understanding of what the Western ideal of the Rule of Law is. The first goes at least as far back as Aristotle, and he assures us it goes much further back than that, and that is the idea that :
'No one can be judge in his own cause; Hear the other side'
That is anathema to the rule of tyrants, who by definition rule in their own causes and interests, and care nothing for hearing any other side but their own. That has been foundational to our western conception of law, and was central to the writing and selling of our Constitution, as is easily seen here in Federalist #10:
"No man is allowed to be a judge in his own cause, because his interest would certainly bias his judgment, and, not improbably, corrupt his integrity. With equal, nay with greater reason, a body of men are unfit to be both judges and parties at the same time;"
When Laws require nothing more than other laws to justify themselves, then the law effectively becomes a judge in its own case, and all manner of evils will follow from that.

The second point comes to us from Cicero, and it was something our Founders were very familiar with, as it was found in the common educational materials of their time, and it was also a vital part of every education in the law during that era which produced our Constitution, not because it was old, which it was even then, written in 54 B.C., but because it was understood to be right and true in Cicero's time, as well as in their own time, just as it is right and true today and will still be right and true tomorrow and through times to come (why it is no longer found in any textbooks today is a question for another time). From Cicero’s Commonwealth (often called 'The Republic'), from Book III:
"True law is right reason in agreement with nature; it summons to duty by its commands, and averts from wrongdoing by its prohibitions. And it does not lay its commands or prohibitions upon good men in vain, though neither have any effect on the wicked. It is a sin to try to alter this law, nor is it allowable to attempt to repeal any part of it, and it is impossible to abolish it entirely. We cannot be freed from its obligations by senate or people, and we need not look outside ourselves for an expounder or interpreter of it. And there will not be different laws at Rome and at Athens, or different laws now and in the future, but one eternal and unchangeable law will be valid for all nations and all times, and there will one master and ruler, that is, God, over us all, for he is the author of this law, its promulgator, and its enforcing judge. Whoever is disobedient is fleeing from himself and denying his human nature, and by reason of this very fact he will suffer the worst penalties, even if he escapes what is commonly called punishment."
Right Reason in agreement with nature, means not only must an idea seem to be true, it must also prove to be true in reality. That understanding preceded Cicero and continued on as a maxim of law; shaping and instructing the formation of Western Law in general and English Law in particular. The understanding that ultimately led to conceiving of individuals as having Individual Rights, would not have been possible without that understanding. And because that maxim remained central to our understanding of Law, it continued to develop and continued to influence the formation of our own laws a thousand years and more afterwards.

Thomas Jefferson, in writing to James Madison in Feb, 1826, regarding what were the proper legal books that should be used for the instruction of law in his college, wrote with some urgency, about Sir Edward Coke (1552 – 1634, English Jurist) and his instructions on learning the Law:
"You will recollect that before the revolution, Coke Littleton was the universal elementary book of law students, and a sounder whig never wrote, nor of profounder learning in the orthodox doctrines of the British constitution, or in what were called English liberties. You remember also that our lawyers were then all whigs."
IOW, Coke's instructions on The Law, particularly the The First Part of the Institutes of the Lawes of England, which Jefferson was speaking of, were central to and formative of the legal thinking of those who not only reasoned for our break with England over the injustices done to their 'Rights as Englishmen', but was also implicit in the writing of our Constitution. Typical of Coke's instructions in law, were such as this,
"And this is another strong argument in Law, Nihil quod est contra rationem est licitum.5"-> 5. [Ed.: Nothing that is against reason is lawful.]
That phrase, 'Nothing that is against reason is lawful', is not only central to our understanding of law, it is unreasonable to think that liberty could ever be had without it. As we've been straying further and further from that understanding since the beginning of the 20th century, look around and see if you think it can continue to. And while such a maxim may not be a rule of law itself, one that a judge can rule upon, it does provide the means of reaching outside the circularity of the self referencing laws, so that good law can stand to reason in relation to sound thought, reality, and our lives in it, in order to be considered to be right and true.

Does that mean that our laws can simply appeal to 'Right Reason' in order to justify them? No. Is it a guarantee against ever making errors? No, and nothing is. But what it does do is provide a basis for calling the legitimacy of any law into question, and points to the standard they must comply with in order to be justified. When that understanding animates our approach to the law, it prevents an accretion of laws from creating their own reality, it requires that all law retain their purpose and connection to the reality of human life and right and wrong.

These views are not new, though few of today's legal realities reflect them. When regulatory agency's sit in judgment of their own regulations, the law is being made into a judge of its own interests. When the law, which is the means of upholding the lives, rights and property of the people, is turned against the livelihood of the people in a region, the law is not hearing the other side. When We The People are being afflicted with the law, when people are being strong-armed by the law, when govt agencies such as the BLM, and other incestuously related courts and agencies, demonstrate their intent to write and rewrite whatever regulations seem most likely to prove useful to running off those who have a long history of working the land they seek, such as they have with Cliven Bundy, the last rancher in his region - and his is by no means the only case, or state, it is happening to - then it is clear that these cases are not being heard by the law. When the reasons that are given for these actions is to ostensibly to preserve an idyllic existence for desert turtles (which, btw, are 'euthanized' as their numbers become inconvenient to those claiming the importance of their being preserved), then we have good reason to question what and who the law is being used to serve, for obviously, reason, reality and truth aren't playing a large part in the govt's plans.

Some in congress are starting to realize this, and it even appears that a number of States are beginning to see and do something about it as well. It should be getting clear that the laws our regulatory agencies are imposing upon us are not standing the test of Right Reason, and it should be becoming clearer still that what we are dealing with is not the rule of law, but the means of our being ruled by means of laws.

The Revolutionary Rule of Law
How has this come to pass? What 'The Rule of Law' is, and what the purpose of the law is and what can serve as a basis for it, is the ever revolutionary question we should be asking ourselves today, and the answers you give can still be every bit as revolutionary, as they once were and likely always will be.

If, on the one hand, you see Individual Rights as being an inherent and necessary part of our nature as reasoning human beings, as I do, then law, to be valid, good and proper, must respect, uphold and defend those Rights. To do that it needs a sound framework, such as our Constitution, and with that purpose in mind, the law sets out the powers and limitations of government, within which federal and state laws are to be written, and for that purpose power is gathered and formed into Govts by means of law, and in the same breath is leashed by its laws. Of all of the schools of law, the one that is most compatible with that view, the one whose fundamentals were identified by Aristotle, and Cicero, embodied in Magna Carta, and were expounded upon by Coke, and formed the understanding from which our Constitution and Declaration of Independence were derived, is that of Natural Law. Its insistence that the laws must comport with Right Reason was, is and always will be a truly revolutionary view, and a leap of Progress never before made. Unfortunately for us, very few of our educators, legislators or Supreme Court Justices today still recognize, or attempt to interpret and apply the law, in accordance with that view; not Scalia, Roberts, Alito... Rehnquist, or nominees such as Bork, etc, who hold instead to varying views of textualism, originalism and traditionalist flavors of what is still essentially Positive Law in conservativish drag. Clarence Thomas is essentially alone in his respect for Natural Law, and you've got to go back towards the first half of the 20th century in order to find other Justices who attempted to do the same.

But if on the other hand, you yearn for the spirit of those timeworn views, which assert that the law is primarily a means for government to form, induce or nudge societal behaviors towards a 'greater good', then what you are yearning for is the rolling back of the only true progress made in political science over the last thousand plus years, then at least recognize that the views you hold are truly Pro->Regressive. Those views which see 'rights' as privileges which government can extends to those individuals in society it deems to be the most deserving, the most in need of particular benefits, protections or aids which justify seizing the power to take from some to extend to others - raising some above the law while throwing everyone else under it - they shove Right Reason and Individual Rights off the table. Those seeking the power to use power in order to impose their dreams of social justice and other 'greater goods' upon us, will find fellow travelers in former Justice Breyer, who wants to transform your right to bear arms, as protected by the 2nd Amdt, into a permission for some to retain some particular guns, in some govt approved situations, he is most definitely their guy.

Unfortunately, for the supporters of Positive Law, our Constitution was written and originally amended through the lens of Natural Law. That was once considered too obvious a fact to need repeating. Today it obviously needs stating and repeating often and continuously. And for those who like to say that Natural Law and the principles of the Declaration of Independence have nothing to do with our constitution or with governance in America, I'll direct you to consider (H/T Chris Loesch) how the Congress of the United States of America expressed their expectations for the people of the then Nevada Territory, to consider in their application for statehood: "Act Of Congress (1864) Enabling The People Of Nevada To Form A Constitution And State Government"
"Sec. 4. Authorization to form constitution and state government; limitations. And be it further enacted, That the members of the convention, thus elected, shall meet at the capital of said territory on the first Monday in July next, and, after organization, shall declare, on behalf of the people of said territory, that they adopt the constitution of the United States. Whereupon the said convention shall be, and it is hereby, authorized to form a constitution and state government for said territory: Provided, That the constitution, when formed, shall be republican, and not repugnant to the constitution of the United States, and the principles of the Declaration of Independence: And provided further, That said convention shall provide, by an ordinance irrevocable, without the consent of the United States and the people of said state:— First."
If the principles of the Declaration of Independence had nothing to do with our constitution and of governance in The United States of America, and held no sway past the revolutionary era, as Pro-Regressives stridently claim, then why oh why would Congress include a statement in the legislation for admitting another state into the union and directing them in writing their own constitution, on the terms that "...Provided, That the constitution, when formed, shall be republican, and not repugnant to the constitution of the United States, and the principles of the Declaration of Independence...", eh? It simply doesn't stand to reason that they would do such a thing, for no reason, does it?

Unfortunately for us, it has been the Utopian folly of Positive Law, of legislating on no other basis than claims of 'the greater good', that has most 'consistently' been used and abused upon us, since the opening of the 20th century.

The understanding which once commonly served as the basis for our Rule of Law, is the real revolution that we are fighting today, and those who don't understand it, or who ignore it, or who seek to act against it for 'the greater good', represent the battlegrounds we need to be concentrating upon - if we lose them, we lose the war. Time will tell which view will ultimately win out, but actual liberty can only exist within the context of a view such as that of Natural Law, and if that is snuffed out... we'll get what we deserve.

What's a law abiding person to do?
So what is a person to do when they find themselves up against not only unjust laws, but a judicial system that is itself manifestly unjust, as that of our system of regulatory laws are?

To begin with, it's important that you do not begin making your case upon fundamentally false positions, and one of the most common and treacherous of these false principles, is the bogus claim of 'State's Rights'. It is important to understand that this is NOT a 'States Rights' issue, because the concept of 'States Rights' necessarily means that there can be no Individual Rights unless the state first grants them. I understand the tendency to reach for a shorthand reference, but 'States Rights' is not only not a helpful shorthand summary, it undermines all rights altogether.

Let me say that again: States do not, and cannot, have rights. While States do have powers, as do the people, (see the 10th Amdt:
"The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people."
) , only individuals have Rights (see the 9th Amdt:
"The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people."
), and they have them by virtue of their nature as human beings - Rights being those actions a reasoning person must be free to take (or retain what results from them) in order to live as a reasoning being; states most definitely are not reasoning creatures and so they can have no rights.

States are organized power, and those powers which States receive come to them through the consent of the governed who delegate it to them in order to uphold and defend the Rights of their people. It is for our Rights, that governments immense power is leashed by our laws, in order to be served by them. For states to have rights as well, would mean that our rights would be subordinated to the powers of the states, rather than the other way around.

States do not have rights, they have powers. Powers defined and restricted by laws, and the rights of We The People are critically dependent upon those powers being held by laws. Anytime a state is allowed to exercise power outside the bounds of the laws which define them, then everyone's rights are imperiled.

When, as now, those powers are abused by another state, whether a fellow state or federal parent, that is an instance of power escaping from the Rule of Law, and it is a danger to everyone's rights and to the lawful power of all other states. States must resist, in the name of their peoples rights, the encroachment of power acting outside of the law.

However, while states have the power to state their opposition to unjust laws and to withdraw their administrative support of them (see the original Jeffersonian and Madisonian 'nullification', as opposed to the Calhounian sense that animated the Civil War era and many of those agitating for 'nullification' today), they cannot act outside of their defined powers against fellow state or federal powers, without jeopardizing what really is a fundamental basis for the rule of law. What the Rule of Law requires most, is leashing unfettered power to the law - creatures of the law, cannot be allowed off their leash! - that is the path to war and the destruction of the law.

Individuals however, do have both Rights and Powers, including the power to lawfully oppose laws and seek their alteration, and as with states, individuals have the power to not comply with unjust laws, though that does not mean they they can violate or obstruct the law.

When a person finds that the laws being applied to them are unjust, they have a duty to speak out, as all people's rights are in jeopardy by the mere existence of unjust laws. An just law, means unreasonable law, and as Coke said: "Nothing that is against reason is lawful", which in practice means that govt has gained hold of unrestrained power - that is a danger to all. Implicit in 'The Rule of Law' is the necessary and continual attention and re-evaluation of the laws, by the people.

The first stage of non-compliance, is bringing suit against the law, fighting it out in court, and in the court of public opinion. But when you find no response, no redress, when you find yourself facing a system that has set itself up to NOT hear the other side, and which sits in judgment of its own interests, then you have a Right and a duty, to not comply quietly with those laws.

So... wait... how can the laws have the force of law, if they can be ignored by the people?

It can't. And they can't. Which doesn't make matters easy.

The Right road is not an easy one
The Law must have 'force of law' but at the same time the people must call it into question when their laws seem unjust. The lawful form of opposition is through the courts, working your way up through to the State Supreme Court, and the United States Supreme Court. Failing that, there is a legislative path, as well as that which was ultimately taken through the 13th, 14th & 15th Amdts - and hopefully that path can be taken without a Civil War, as the 19th Amdt, recognizing women's right to vote, or ending Prohibition with the 21st Amdt (which repealed the 18th Amdt).

But when the courts provide no justice, and when We The People have been too inattentive for too long, allowing bad laws to accumulate and be imposed upon us, and if those who should have known better, refuse to, enabling those in power to persist in ignoring our laws and amendments, then it is not unreasonable for people to conclude that they have no option but to refuse to comply with the laws being imposed upon them. In such cases there is a recognized path to be taken, that of Civil Disobedience. And long before Thoreau expressed the concept, it had already been identified and recommended as the proper path during the ratification of our Constitution! See Federalist #46:
"Were it admitted, however, that the Federal government may feel an equal disposition with the State governments to extend its power beyond the due limits, the latter would still have the advantage in the means of defeating such encroachments. If an act of a particular State, though unfriendly to the national government, be generally popular in that State and should not too grossly violate the oaths of the State officers, it is executed immediately and, of course, by means on the spot and depending on the State alone. The opposition of the federal government, or the interposition of federal officers, would but inflame the zeal of all parties on the side of the State, and the evil could not be prevented or repaired, if at all, without the employment of means which must always be resorted to with reluctance and difficulty. On the other hand, should an unwarrantable measure of the federal government be unpopular in particular States, which would seldom fail to be the case, or even a warrantable measure be so, which may sometimes be the case, the means of opposition to it are powerful and at hand. The disquietude of the people; their repugnance and, perhaps, refusal to co-operate with the officers of the Union; the frowns of the executive magistracy of the State; the embarrassments created by legislative devices, which would often be added on such occasions, would oppose, in any State, difficulties not to be despised; would form, in a large State, very serious impediments; and where the sentiments of several adjoining States happened to be in unison, would present obstructions which the federal government would hardly be willing to encounter.

But ambitious encroachments of the federal government, on the authority of the State governments, would not excite the opposition of a single State, or of a few States only. They would be signals of general alarm."
[emphasis mine]
You see, under the American understanding of Law, such civil disobedience is not undermining or obstructing the lw, but among the oldest safeguards of the Rule of Law!

And that 'General Alarm' which Madison spoke of, is what We The People must raise - Peacefully, violence would only serve to solidify the Federal Govt's position - but through non-compliance, beginning with the people and then through their states, there is a path to successfully bringing the laws back under the Rule of Law first.

The abolitionist, such as John Brown, chose violence, and we not only had a civil war, but additional complications which spread and went unresolved for another century.

The peaceful path was the path taken by the Woman's Suffrage movement, and it was the path taken by Martin Luther King, as explained in his "Letter from a Birmingham Jail", and both exemplify the best use of a citizens power against unjust laws, peaceful, civil disobedience, and vigorously 'spreading the word' and explaining why their actions are being taken. Peacefully.

Understand - drawing the state or federal powers into a contest of arms, is counter-productive, futile, and not nearly justified as yet. Pointless violence serves to uphold no ones rights, and not only does not advance the cause of justice one whit, but will almost certainly bring about a loss of ground and lend the unwarranted aura of 'moral authority' to the state's benefit - which would be intolerable.

But even worse, those calling for violent action are making the classic mistake of preparing to fight the next war by means of the last war - and it is doomed to failure. Not only will it fail to win, it will fail to even see action, because it fails to ever even set foot upon the real battlefield before us.

Understand this: We do not face or require a revolution in our form of government, or in our laws (though we could use some vigorous repealing of them), but in our understanding of them. We already have the best form of government possible - The Declaration of Independence has already been declared! The Constitution has already been written! The government has already been formed! What we've lost is our understanding of them! Guns are of no use in that battle, and that battle is the battle we must fight - and you don't bring a gun to a mind fight! There are not yet enough people that are familiar with, or have a sound understanding of the constitution, let alone the Rule of Law. Who are you going to get to support you? What happens when you get support from those who don't know what they need to know? What form of government do you suppose will follow from those who don't even grasp the one we already have?!

As MLK's assassination shows, that path is not without risk, and not just from the government - it didn't become so disordered without the people being so as well. We The People do need to realize that there will be consequences for non-compliance with the law and incorrect views that are widely held or tolerated. He knew there would be consequences, but he felt it was justified. Refusing to comply with such laws is in a very great sense, your duty. And if you cannot find the ability to oppose them, then you must at least alert and educate your fellows about such laws, just as you would warn someone that their house was on fire. The good news is that you are not alone in this, and together with others, all exercising your freedom of speech and association, you will bring attention to those unjust laws, to the acute embarrassment of those attempting to justify them.

What about the Bundy's use of arms to oppose BLM? Do I think the incident at the Bundy's ranch was a proper exercise of 2nd Amdt rights? No I don't. Perhaps the Bundy's themselves could have made the case for defending their property, but again, it would have been a futile one, and highly unlikely to help their case, or ours. And as I understand it from the reports I've read from here, 1,500 miles away from the action, Cliven Bundy not only did not ask for supporters to come armed, he specifically asked that they come unarmed. That is the proper approach, IMHO, and those who showed up not only armed to the teeth but aiming their weapons at the BLM, IMHO, nearly turned a likely victory - the national media viewing of unarmed [Edit: or at least holstered] protesters facing ranks of armed BLM SWAT could have ended in no other way than it did, this is still America, they had to back down -but if one shot had been fired by the 'militia', that would have turned it all into a violent failure.

We aren't there yet. Sorry, we're just not. And if you think we've reached the level of government opposition and abuse that was faced by those in pre-revolutionary America, or even by those protesting for Woman's Suffrage, or the repeal of Prohibition, or that of the Civil Rights movement, for heaven's sake, you are simply wrong, and painfully uninformed. Fix that. Please. Quickly.

We are afflicted today with a vast array of laws which we are required to face and oppose and protest. Do not comply quietly with them, but keep your civil disobedience civil. Raise questions. The most effective shot you can fire today is to simply speak out. Just do it. Bundy is doing it. Texas ranchers are doing it. New York and Connecticut residents are doing it in regards to the right to bear arms. Parents across the country are doing it in regards to unjust laws in the education of our children. Study the issues, learn the questions, raise them and discuss them with your family, friends and neighbors, calmly when possible, loudly when necessary. The nature of the battle we face must be pointed out and understood, or it will be lost. Martin Luther King jr. succeeded not because he protested, but because his protests brought attention, and then understanding, and then a pervasive disgust that could no longer be ignored, brought it to bear upon unjust laws and to those supporting them, and then they and their institutions fell of their own weight.

Understanding comes first, first yours, and then others. Then solutions can and will be found. But the attempt to jump straight to solutions, through force of arms, is counter productive and misses out on the real work to be done.

Shortcuts in laws are how we got to where we are today. Man up. Do it right. Question, loudly, Ask 'What is the Rule of Law?', and know the answer.


USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Outstanding essay, Van!
I cooncur, understanding should be our first priority.
Let's hope those who are trigger happy (govt. agents and some conservatives) don't start shootin' first and asking questions later.

Van Harvey said...

Thanks Ben, and Yep!

Van Harvey said...

I'm going to post an exchange from facebook. If you've read my blog for any period of time, you know that while I'm deeply opposed to regulatory agencies and for the Rule of Law, but only because I am for reasonable people being capable of living worthwhile lives, in liberty with their fellows.

For those who attempt to use the confrontations that sometimes arise, as a means of imposing your idea of what is right upon others, or to spark a violent confrontation to do the same, you will be confronting me as well.

Anonymous said...

Dan M.: "Understand this: We do not face or require a revolution in our form of government, or in our laws (though we could use some vigorous repealing of them), but in our understanding of them. We already have the best form of government possible - The Declaration of Independence has already been declared! The Constitution has already been written! The government has already been formed! What we've lost is our understanding of them! Guns are of no use in that battle, and that battle is the battle we must fight - and you don't bring a gun to a mind fight! There are not yet enough people that are familiar with, or have a sound understanding of the constitution, let alone the Rule of Law. Who are you going to get to support you? What happens when you get support from those who don't know what they need to know? What form of government do you suppose will follow from those who don't even grasp the one we already have?!"

The reason Cliven Bundy called for support... albeit specifically Unarned Support, was because his ranch was literally Invaded, and his cattle were being rounded up... as it turned out... simply to be senselessly and needlessly slaughtered and buried, while his ranch was surrounded by SWAT Teams and SNIPERS.... The reason the Militias and independent supporters showed up as Armed was to prevent another Ruby Ridge... which is another precedent setting confrontation between citizens and an over reaching government... and it got a lot of folks, women and children killed. This precedent is burned into the minds of We the People, and it will likely stand in the way of any Unarmed, Peaceful Protest suggestions or examples such as King set forth.
The unfettered militarization of our police forces by DHS and their militarized retraining of those police are leading to unwarranted and frequent brutalization of citizens... whether in protest or for minor law infractions such a s traffic violations.. are further 'lessons learned' by those who came in Armed Support. It goes without saying that there is never any discipline levied against the offending law enforcement... they are unrecognizable for prosecution, wearing uniforms and facial concealment as would a foreign terrorist.
I believe you are right... most have forgotten or never learned the nature of our "intended" government. But laying aside sensible 2nd amendment protection in order to "Peacefully" apply the 4th... seems as ill-advised as dissolving the Constitution to cede total sovereignty to the U.N. Being dominated Islamic, Socialist, and Communist nations, I'm sure we'd likely soon be looking like the S.E. Asia Killing Fields in due time...

Van Harvey said...

Van Harvey: @Dan "But laying aside sensible 2nd amendment protection..." I did not say, or would I ever advise that, but I wonder if that was what you meant? Not aiming your arms is not the same thing as laying aside 2nd amendment protection (which no citizen could do, even if they tried).

I fully understand why people brought their guns with them when they went to support Bundy. What I'm saying is that brandishing those weapons or taking up sniper positions directed at BLM's SWAT, did not help tactically in achieving the (tempory) victory Bundy acheived, and they could easily have destroyed it.

I'm not a rosy eyed pacifist, MLK, Womens Suffragettes, Ghandi, would have had no hope of succeeding against a govt that does not care (or at least still feels the need to seem to care) about their rights, lives or laws. The reason BLM backed down, was because they couldn't bear for the nation to see them rolling over peaceful protesters. Had a single person on Bundy's side fired off a round, there would have been nothing holding BLM back - that would have been their grant of 'authority and respectability' to use their weaponized toys, and Bundy and his ranch would have been no more.

That is my point. We are not yet in a gun-fight, we are in a mind-fight, and we can still win it as long as we don't confuse the two. They don't have the Law on their side, we do! One of the maxims of Law I noted in the post, was 'Nothing that is against reason is lawful', that is what our laws were founded upon. NONE of what Reid, BLM, etc, can stand against that. Tactically, if we can spread that ammunition and understanding, their entire sham falls of it's own weight, just as Bull Connor's did.

Anonymous said...

Dan M.: It seemed that you were suggesting laying aside 2nd amendment protection by your examples of King, etc. Problem is, even in your qualification above regarding Aiming arms... it is reasonable response to the BLM Snipers aiming arms... When one action is taken beyond reason it is a fool who does not respond in kind when life and death are in question... This escalation is inevitable, and... unfortunately... it would have been so easy to tip the balance and make EITHER side appear the aggressor with a covert action to fire the first shot..
But, by their numbers, it may well have prevented even that kind of covert act. There were reports of what looked like a set-up of young BLM agents that would have been a massacre of about a dozen men had the militias fallen for it, but they got a report that the BLM heavy equipment had only withdrawn a couple of miles away and were staged there for reasons unknown.
True or not, it is this kind of thing that brings distrust of govt to the level you protest. No, this may NOT be the time for revolution,but it is a war game. Don't underestimate the stage of the war game... This IS a gun fight, as well as a mind fight. The govt is the aggressor, the militia is the defender. The gun fight supports the peace for the mind fight, or their guns will (by precedent) rule and prevail, and debates on Rule of Law and Reason becomes quickly moot. Have you ever heard of a peace wrought by unilateral disarmament that didn't end in total capitulation of the disarmed... or unprepared? (We're about to see how that works out in the Ukraine, I think, sending 600 poorly equipped US troops to face 50K fully equipped Russians across the border is just that kind of insanity.)

Anonymous said...

Lance: "There were reports of what looked like a set-up of young BLM agents that would have been a massacre of about a dozen men had the militias fallen for it, but they got a report that the BLM heavy equipment had only withdrawn a couple of miles away and were staged there for reasons unknown. " That sounds like the kind of anti-govt echo chamber that could result in lots and lots of dead people for no good reason at all. Having cameras and shining the light of public knowledge on this in Nevada is going to be far more effective than getting into a gun fight with low level BLM employees. All it takes is one hot head and this is Ruby Ridge or Waco all over again.

Dan M.: Exactly my point, Fact is, the govt came in loaded for bear when there was no bear, and came in as rustlers.... just as they did with Bundy's neighbors when THEY got put out of business. Once you're out of business, you have no resources to fight back with... That's why Bundy is the last Ranch standing. It isn't just Anti-Govt Rhetoric. It's history in Clark County, and it's being pursued all over the West ... If you missed it, there's a 90k ACRE land Grab going on at the TX OK border right now.. Once it's over, it's too late. If there are any assets left after the cattle are gone, they are liquidated at auction. They can't just pick up where they left off, even if a ruling determines the govt was out of line. You talk about grasping reality, then grasp the economic reality, not just the legal jargon.

Van Harvey said...

Van Harvey: @Dan "It seemed that you were suggesting laying aside 2nd amendment protection..." Never. Stop looking for what I'd never entertain. Regarding what was done on the ground at Bundy's Ranch, I'm talking about what was TACTICALLY useful, or potentially damaging, for the larger fight, and Not about the unquestionable rights we all retain.

"... it is reasonable response to the BLM Snipers aiming arms..." Dan, reasonable is only meaningful in a context. Do those (or any) people have a right to carry arms with them? Yes. Do they have cause to be concerned? Definitely. The missing context is "What are they hoping to accomplish by being there?" Hopefully they're looking beyond protecting some cows and dirt, beyond making the BLM back down, and way beyond getting a handful of regulations or laws changed and lawmakers & regulators dismissed.

"...This IS a gun fight, as well as a mind fight..." No it is not, and that's the sort of mistake that will lose us the entire fight. We have Rights, and we have laws protecting those rights, what we don't have, and need to fight for, is for We The People to understand that. The BLM are nothing but beachheads and landmines to be maneuvered around, We The People's understanding of their Rights and the purpose of Rule of Law are the objectives to be captured. This particular fight was not being waged in Nevada, but on the internet and in the media - failing to grasp the nature of the battlefield will lose us the war. Images such as the guy standing in front of the tank in China, or the Bundy's on horseback peacefully facing BLM SWAT, are incredibly powerful for our side. Providing images of training sniper rifles on BLM, enables the message to be dismissed and the objective to be lost, and that is providing aid and comfort to the enemy.

The Amendments which protect our Rights are not what is being fought over here (though they are elsewhere), the nature of the Rule of Law, the nature and limits of Govt ARE what is being fought over, and THAT is a mind-fight, and winning that wins all the other battles. Winning the other battles, and losing that, loses the entire war.

Van Harvey said...

Van Harvey: @Dan "It's history in Clark County" Dan, I'm from Clark County. Most battles there end with people being shot for unexpected movements. Bundy has been losing IN Clark County, he WON by taking the battle out of Clark County and into the national spotlight. That's the only place he has a chance.

Anonymous said...

Dan M.: I can see he's losing the fight in Clark Co.... as well as in the Fed Courts. But, as I said, he has to survive the Snipers and Swat that are deployed against him or there is no battle... just a memorial like Ruby Ridge. And I do believe Harry Reid has promised that to be on the agenda. If these are the battles that have been conducted in Clark Co, and it's defeated literally Every one of Bundy's neighbors.. don't seem like there has been much more than capitulation til now... That's pretty sad that nobody has advocated for them until now... and it took the support of militia to do it...

Van Harvey said...

Van Harvey: @Dan "..just a memorial like Ruby Ridge..." Again, I think you're missing the significance of what actually happened, and what can and should happen, and really, if you think that there is anything other than public spotlight and non-violence that has kept BLM's guns silent, you're dreaming. At this point in time there is no confrontation in which 'militia' and govt forces ends in any other way than with the militia being buried along with the cows, and our chances of making real changes along with them.

Fighting the next war, with the strategy of the last war, is a losing proposition.

Anonymous said...

Dan M.: I fully understand your point, I believe. I know the confrontation was a powderkeg awaiting a match on a short fuse. I believe this admin. is fully capable and willing to set it off as I fully believe some nut case could do the same from Bundy's supporters ... I'm also convinced that.. Because BLM came in with Full SWAT and Positioned Snipers around the Bundy ranch, Bundy was slated to be the next Ruby Ridge, like it or not. And just the fact that armed supporters came to his support brought the story to the forefront..., not just Bundy's peaceful unarmed protest.l The fact that it was not simply local militia, but militia from all over the country were willing to risk violence was what brought this to the public attention.
Why? You said it yourself... these things have happened before, often ending in somebody killed from a false move, obviously some did not, because there is a story right now about one of his neighbors suing BLM over theft of his cattle. As I pointed out, he's out of business, as most folks are after being wiped out without compensation by Govt theft. Most can;'t afford to sue.. it ain't cheap to go to court, especially to fight the Govt with it's deep pockets and battalion of lawyers at a shoulder's tap...
So, to the issue of bringing guns to a mind war, it is the only thing that kept the confrontation polite enough for BLM to reconsider it's options. This meme pretty much defnes the difference in strategy and the likely outcomes have already been demonstrated.

Van Harvey said...

Van Harvey: Take another look at your meme: It doesn't show protesters plopped down with guns drawn and aimed at BLM, it shows people lining up and refusing to comply. The first will fail, and the second succeeds. 'Nuff said.

Anonymous said...

Dan M.: The first shows unarmed citizens in Peaceful protest UNARMED just as you advocate, being pepper sprayed by a cop. Given a more secluded opportunity and an more efficient weapon it could have been a blood bath.The Second shows a line of peaceful protesters, unarmed on horses, but backed up by ARMED Militia to assure polite confrontation by the HEAVILY ARMED BLM... It worked a whole lot better than the Unarmed Unprotected peaceful protesters, I'd have to say.. And the BLM STILL found it acceptable to kill the cattle. That's the nuff sed...

Van Harvey said...

Van Harvey: @Dan " UNARMED just as you advocate" Dan, not sure where your reading difficulties have cropped up from. Not brandishing weapons, not aiming weapons at SWAT is not the same thing as UNARMED. Hopefully you are aware of the difference. Or do you actually think you can't carry a weapon and behave peacefully? Do you think you can't carry a weapon without using it to threaten others? Get a grip.

If you want to advocate approaching officers, Fed or State, with the intent to threaten them, or to scare them into backing down, or to provoke a confrontation, then I've no use for you whatsoever. I'm opposed to tyranny and have no interest in trading a left-wing tyranny for a right-wing tyranny.

Anonymous said...

Are you seriously arguing that using public property for personal gain for 20 years and refusing to pay the bills is an act of civil disobedience?

And you are seriously comparing the asshole racist Bundy to Martin Luther King?

Man, every time I come here I think it can't be stupider than last time, and I'm always wrong!

Van Harvey said...

aninnymouse said "I'm always wrong!"

Yeah, go figure. There's a reason for that though. If you could read this post and come to those conclusions, then the reason why you came to them and the reason why you're always wrong, is because you can't fix stupid.


Anonymous said...

Do not comply quietly with them, but keep your civil disobedience civil. Raise questions. The most effective shot you can fire today is to simply speak out. Just do it. Bundy is doing it.

Your words, mr. super-genius.

Van Harvey said...

Which, as even you must be able to notice, are not the same words as your words. But that's ok, stupid is as stupid does.