21 January 2009


In keeping with the erstwhile nautical theme of this ol’ blog, I have been on the binnacle list for a week or so.(A “binnacle” was the stand near the wheel on which a sailing ship's compass was mounted. A list of the names of men unable to report for duty was given to the officer or mate of the watch and posted on the binnacle. Thus, a the sick list came to be known as "the binnacle list.") Courtesy of a really mean stomach bug, I have been away from the keyboard for a few days.

Before we return to the goings on at dear old Graying Pres, a thought arises from yesterday’s ceremonies in Washington City.

Was it just me, or was that really John Calhoun chuckling from the grave as speaker after speaker, especially Diane Feinstein, repeatedly referred to “these United States?”

I am an ardent federalist. I fully subscribe to the constitutional structure that was set down in Philadelphia in 1787. I believe in the dual sovereigns envisioned by the Constitution. While the International Court of Justice (the so-called “World Court,” much beloved by liberals, one-worlders, and others of their ilk), may be too obtuse to understand the beauty of a governmental system free from absolute control by one person or group of persons, I am surprised to hear Senator Feinstein utter her approval.

The World Court just “ordered” the United States government to stop Texas (and other states) from executing Mexican citizens (many who had lived in the US since they were children) who were convicted in state courts and whose death sentences, after full and final appeal, were upheld. The Supreme Court has ruled that failure of a state to notify consular officials is harmless error.

The WC nonetheless held that the government of the United States must “forbid” any such executions. The problem is that, in the words of the Governor of Texas, “the International Court of Justice does not have jurisdiction in Texas."

And he is correct. Texas is a sovereign State under the Constitution.

So, why my amazement over the strange phrasing used by Senator Feinstein?

One of my history professors in college once started a class as follows: “The Civil War was fought over the conjunction of a verb. Prior to 1860, the grammatically proper claim was ‘The United States are….’ After 1865, and especially after the ratification of the 14th Amendment, the grammatically proper claim was ‘The United States is….’”

In other words, in a dual sovereignty analysis prior to 1860, the “superior sovereign” was the State. After 1865, Federal supremacy was assumed.

But now, Senator Feinstein appears to have fallen back upon the language of States rights, i.e., our Nation is a collection of 50 individual sovereigns. One hopes that this is a real turn.

About 20 years ago, the Governor of Minnesota attempted to assert a state’s right to keep the Federal government from deploying units of its national guard (that militia that the liberals are so sure will protect the citizenry from an over-reaching national government) to central America. Senator John Stennis of Mississippi, the one-time home of Jefferson Davis, countered that the federal right to use the guard superseded Minnesota’s authority. Jeff and John must have been spinning in their graves. (Minnesota lost.)

There is no way that I believe that Senator Feinstein has had a constitutional change of heart. She just found a new turn of phrase that she apparently likes. But if enough of our elected officials keep reminding us that we live in a nation of dual sovereigns, then maybe we will see a real return to constitutional balance.

1 comment:

Rev Kim said...

Interesting. What a difference singular vs. plural can make!

Having lived in California when she was elected, I don't think Feinstein has seen the light either!

Sorry to hear you were ailing, and glad you are feeling better.