Tuesday, November 22, 2022

A Lot of ’Splainin’

A lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is still putting on its shoes.                                                                                                            Jonathan Swift

ASSERTION AND REPETITION do not equal truth.  But they aid and abet falsehood. 

     There are always, it seems, loose ends hopelessly tangled, an embarrassment that could never become a ball of string nor a spool of thread.  Yet they tie things up or needle us and sow confusion.  And now the Fates are the Second Amendment, the pardon power, and the debt ceiling. 

     “[The Second Amendment] has been the subject of one of the greatest pieces of fraud, I repeat the word ‘fraud,’ on the American public by special interest groups that I have ever seen in my lifetime,” said former Chief Justice Warren Burger.  (The MacNeil-Lehrer Report, December 16, 1991)  “A well-regulated Militia,” the opening phrase of the Second Amendment, was defined by Alexander Hamilton in No. 29 of The Federalist Papers, which foreshadowed the report President Washington had Secretary of War Henry Knox send to Congress in support of Universal National Service.  The Militia is under the control of a Governor until “called into the actual service of the United States” by the President.  Since 1903, the Militia has been called the National Guard.  Thus, it is not about every Tom, Dick, and Harry running around with firearms; and they are no more entitled to call themselves the same, or a Defense Force, or a Civil Guard than a citizen can claim to be a Federal agent.  (Article I, Section 8, Clause 15 & Clause 16 and Article II, Section 2, Clause 1) 

     The pardon power, like all the powers of the Presidency, exists for the benefit of the Republic.  It is to be used as a check on the judiciary and to insure domestic tranquility.  But the notion that a President can pardon one’s self was settled when Benjamin Franklin said America is a republic—not a monarchy.  Otherwise, the Declaration of Independence means nothing; the Revolutionary War was pointless; and the Constitution is an art piece, calligraphy on parchment. 

     The debt ceiling is a statutory provision, the technicality of technicalities and of dubious constitutionality.  Nevertheless, House Republicans are prepared to use that portion of the Second Liberty Bond Act of 1917 as leverage against Social Security and Medicare.  That, to say the least, is questionable, for according to Article VI, Clause 1, “All debts contracted and engagements entered into, before the adoption of this Constitution, shall be as valid against the United States under this Constitution, as under the Confederation.”  So, if the “original intention” was to make our word true, can we act in a way that makes our word worthless?  And should that even be a consideration?  Section 4 of the Fourteenth Amendment—“The validity of the public debt of the United States…shall not be questioned”—is a reaffirmation of Article VI, Clause 1; and, therefore, all debts and engagements entered into shall be valid against the United States under the Constitution. 

     On the one side of the scale is the debt ceiling, a statutory provision, the technicality of technicalities and of dubious constitutionality.  On the other, there is the Fundamental Charter itself, No. 43 of The Federalist Papers, the reports of the first Secretary of the Treasury, and Chapter XIV of the Second Treatise of Civil Government.  Furthermore, the oath requires the President to “preserve, protect and defend the Constitution.”  (Article II, Section 1, Clause 8)  Therefore, if forced to choose between “the supreme law of the land” or a statute, the former must prevail and be “faithfully executed.”  (Article VI, Clause 2; Fourteenth Amendment, Section 4 & Article II, Section 3)  Accordingly, after giving due notice by a Proclamation on Public Credit to the press and the public and a delinquent Congress, the President must issue an Executive Order on the Means of Extinguishment and invoke the Gephardt Rule which simply stated that the debt ceiling was “deemed to have passed” when a budget resolution was approved. 

     While the Second Amendment, the pardon power, and the debt ceiling garner a mention now and then, a few have, as Ricky Ricardo would say, “a lot of ’splainin’ to do.”  For the facts are not hard to find, if one dares to look.  Meanwhile, some politicians, judges, and journalists are getting a lot of exercise with false starts.  Yes, once, twice, three times so lazy—and jump the gun.  But the truth is out of the blocks on time. 

(c)2022 Marvin D. Jones.  All rights reserved. 


The opening quotation is commonly attributed to Mark Twain.  But its origins are discussed below. 






[the Second Amendment] 


[the pardon power] 


[the pardon power] 


[the debt ceiling]

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