Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Jim's Top Ten Online Sources for the Informed Citizen

I understand that an uneven enforcement of literacy testing made a powerful tool of discrimination during the Democrat Party's reign of Jim Crow. And, no, I am not necessarily calling for a return to literacy testing as a precondition to the right to vote. I will say, however, that it would be perfectly permissible under the Constitution to impose even handedly and enforce even handedly a system of testing the ability to read, to write, and to understand, as a precondition to being allowed to exercise the elective franchise.

An informed electorate -- composed of individuals whose opinions can sharply and deeply conflict -- is the imagined future that the Framers considered the guard against future usurpations by government.

Much of the blogging I do here depends on my own ability to make the best possible use of online resources. In this post, I wanted to make sure that those of you who find value in what is posted here have the benefit of the same, readily available online resources.

So here, in completely random order, are the top ten online resources to which I have found myself returning again and again, as I think on our Nation's Constitution, our rights as individuals, our government, our governance, and our history:


This archive includes text versions of historical documents from Ancient Greece to Modern America. Read the Notes on the Constitutional Convention, Philadelphia, 1787, or read the transcripts of the Nuremberg Tribunal on German War Crimes. There is so much here, it is the top of my list. One drawback, and it is not much of one: you should know what you are looking for when you come here, have some idea of dates of documents, authors of them, and the like. It just makes location easier.

Avalon describes itself:
“The Avalon Project will mount digital documents relevant to the fields of Law, History, Economics, Politics, Diplomacy and Government. We do not intend to mount only static text but rather to add value to the text by linking to supporting documents expressly referred to in the body of the text.

The Avalon Project will no doubt contain controversial documents. Their inclusion does not indicate endorsement of their contents nor sympathy with the ideology, doctrines, or means employed by their authors. They are included for the sake of completeness and balance and because in many cases they are by our definition a supporting document.”


This site has taken over, but continues, the former, the Library of Congress website. On here you can search the texts, titles, and legislative records of current and recent federal legislation, as well as link to the Federal Register, and many other sources of government information. describes itself this way:
“ is the official website for U.S. federal legislative information. The site provides access to accurate, timely, and complete legislative information for Members of Congress, legislative agencies, and the public. It is presented by the Library of Congress (LOC) using data from the Office of the Clerk of the U.S. House of Representatives, the Office of the Secretary of the Senate, the Government Publishing Office, Congressional Budget Office, and the LOC's Congressional Research Service.”

The Founders’ Constitution

Had we lived in the period leading to the ratification of the US Constitution, many of the source works excerpted at The Founders’ Constitution might well be known to us first hand. If you are thinking about a particular provision of the Constitution, its purpose and scope, The Founders’ Constitution provides background materials that help to illuminate the motivations for the provision and the purpose and scope of it. The site is nicely arranged in sections corresponding, point by point, to the Constitution and the amendments.

The University of Chicago Press describes The Founders’ Constitution this way:
“Hailed as "the Oxford English Dictionary of American constitutional history," the print edition of The Founders' Constitution has proved since its publication in 1986 to be an invaluable aid to all those seeking a deeper understanding of one of our nation's most important legal documents.

In this unique anthology, Philip B. Kurland and Ralph Lerner draw on the writings of a wide array of people engaged in the problem of making popular government safe, steady, and accountable. The documents included range from the early seventeenth century to the 1830s, from the reflections of philosophers to popular pamphlets, from public debates in ratifying conventions to the private correspondence of the leading political actors of the day.

These rich and varied materials are arranged, first, according to broad themes or problems to which the Constitution of 1787 has made a significant and lasting contribution. Then they are arranged by article, section, and clause of the U.S. Constitution, from the Preamble through Article Seven and continuing through the first twelve Amendments.

The Online Library of Liberty

The OLL is an excellent aggregation of writings focused on liberty and the law.

The Liberty Fund describes the Online Library of Law and Liberty thus:
“The Online Library of Law and Liberty’s focus is on the content, status, and development of law in the context of republican and limited government and the ways that liberty and law and law and liberty mutually reinforce the other. This site brings together serious debate, commentary, essays, book reviews, interviews, and educational material in a commitment to the first principles of law in a free society. Law and Liberty considers a range of foundational and contemporary legal issues, legal philosophy, and pedagogy.

The website is provided by Liberty Fund, Inc., a private, educational foundation established to encourage the study of the ideal of a society of free and responsible individuals. The Foundation develops, supervises, and finances its own educational activities, with the goal of fostering discussion and thought on enduring topics pertaining to the creation and maintenance of such a society.”

The Legal Information Institute

More often than not, if I link to a Supreme Court case, or a constitutional provision, the link brings you to the Legal Information Institute. This resource is invaluable.

LII describes itself this way:

We are a not-for-profit group that believes everyone should be able to read and understand the laws that govern them, without cost. We carry out this vision by:

    Publishing law online, for free.
    Creating materials that help people understand law.
    Exploring new technologies that make it easier for people to find the law.

Project Gutenberg

Project Gutenberg has been around on the internet as long as I’ve been prowling the web. Here you will find e-Texts of virtually every description. Shakespeare, before he gets banned. Lewis Carroll, before someone complains of his political incorrectness. So many publications in the public domain, it simply is not possible to identify them all here.

Project Gutenberg says this about itself:

The mission of Project Gutenberg is simple:

    To encourage the creation and distribution of eBooks.

This mission is, as much as possible, to encourage all those who are interested in making eBooks and helping to give them away. In fact, Project Gutenberg approves about 99% of all requests from those who would like to make our eBooks and give them away, within their various local copyright limitations. Project Gutenberg is powered by ideas, ideals, and by idealism. Project Gutenberg is not powered by financial or political power. Therefore Project Gutenberg is powered totally by volunteers.

The Internet Archive

This site caught my attention in the late 1990s or early 2000s when I found a video of racist-eugenecist Margaret Sanger on here. There are so many different collections here, I view this site as an excellent place to discover the meaning of “Kismet.”

From the Archive’s “About” Statement:
The Internet Archive is a 501(c)(3) non-profit that was founded to build an Internet library. Its purposes include offering permanent access for researchers, historians, scholars, people with disabilities, and the general public to historical collections that exist in digital format.

The Heritage Foundation

The Heritage Foundation website is a great starting place for looking into a broad swath of economic, social, international and other policy questions. While on the site, the Daily Signal free subscription brings you a shot in the arm on breaking developments across the spectrum of policy.

The Heritage Foundation describes itself this way:
Founded in 1973, The Heritage Foundation is a research and educational institution—a think tank—whose mission is to formulate and promote conservative public policies based on the principles of free enterprise, limited government, individual freedom, traditional American values, and a strong national defense.

We believe the principles and ideas of the American Founding are worth conserving and renewing. As policy entrepreneurs, we believe the most effective solutions are consistent with those ideas and principles. Our vision is to build an America where freedom, opportunity, prosperity, and civil society flourish.

The Cato Institute


Admittedly, Cato and I part ways on certain issues ... you might call them the social conservative issues ... still, Cato has an excellent array of resources on economic liberty and policy.

The Cato Institute says of itself:
The Cato Institute is a public policy research organization — a think tank – dedicated to the principles of individual liberty, limited government, free markets and peace. Its scholars and analysts conduct independent, nonpartisan research on a wide range of policy issues.

Founded in 1977, Cato owes its name to Cato’s Letters, a series of essays published in 18th- century England that presented a vision of society free from excessive government power. Those essays inspired the architects of the American Revolution. And the simple, timeless principles of that revolution — individual liberty, limited government, and free markets – turn out to be even more powerful in today’s world of global markets and unprecedented access to information than Jefferson or Madison could have imagined. Social and economic freedom is not just the best policy for a free people, it is the indispensable framework for the future.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Fat vs Bloated, Democrat vs Socialist

For a long time, I thought I might be fat.

Several things contributed to that impression. I get sweatier than other folks even in cool weather. I buy clothing in the big and tall section. Occasionally, folks will say things like, "wouldn't you prefer a smaller portion?" And, of course, when I visit the doctor, and they have me stand on the scale, that really doesn't help.

As it turns out, however, I may not be fat.

True, my abdomen may be more expansive than others. That expansiveness may not be fat. According to a commercial on the radio this morning, I may simply be bloated. Apparently, the difference between being fat and being bloated is hard to determine simply by appearances. The advertiser explained that their probiotic supplement will clear my gut of sludge, resulting in a new and slimmer me, if my problem is bloating.

It turns out that it is often difficult to distinguish between things as seemingly similar as are being fat and being bloated.

For example, earlier this summer, Democratic National Committee Chairman Debbie Wasserman Schultz was unable to state the difference between Democrats and Socialists. With my newly enlightened understanding of the apparent problem of confusing being fat with being bloated, Wasserman Schultz's difficulty gets my sympathy.

As I thought about it, really, it is difficult to say what are the differences between Socialist Party and Democratic Party platforms:
Democrats and Socialists tolerate private property so long as no one disputes that private property and private interests are subject to public direction and control. 
Democrats and Socialists distrust appeals to individuality, to the rights of persons over the rights of collectives. 
Democrats and Socialists punish effort and success through progressive schemes of taxation. 
Democrats and Socialists never met a problem that could not be used as an excuse to enlarge government: government programs, government spending, government payrolls.
Still, because it is hard to tell the difference between the two, particularly if you are one or the other, I am thinking that perhaps there is a way to get to the bottom of things.

If you think you might be suffering from DSCD (Democrat v. Socialist Confusion Disorder) there is now a treatment that will free you from your problem.

The treatment is pro-libertica. It consists of a regular program of de-governmentization. Taken regularly, your dependence on the idea of government as a solution will decrease and decrease. Eventually, you will discover that, with enough pro-libertica, it won't matter if you were fat, bloated, Democrat, or Socialist, you will just enjoy, finally, being free.

Monday, August 31, 2015

Hillary vs Trump: Yes, There Are Differences

Hillary Clinton is a crook, a bully, a toad.

So, as you ramp up talking about how horrible it would be to have Donald Trump as our next president, let's talk about what the Hillary presidency looks like. We can predict the nature of that presidency based on her track record.

What has Hillary done in life? What is the basis from which a track record can be devised?

Her professional resume is, essentially, the following:

  1. Staff, Watergate Committee
  2. First Lady of Arkansas
  3. Rose Law Firm partner
  4. First Lady of the United States
  5. United States Senator
  6. Secretary of State

Hillary Clinton, Capitol Hill Staffer: Entering the Ethics Free Zone

The story of her service on the Watergate Committee is well known by now. She was a young attorney. She was assigned a research and writing project. Her performance suited the needs of the Committee chair, but would have denied an accused president the right to representation by counsel. The problem with the conclusion is that it was contrary to prior practice in Congress. To overcome that problem, typically, one would master legal arguments justifying a contrary approach and use the power of persuasion. Or, if easier, one might confiscate relevant records and deny their existence. Hillary preferred the latter, easy course. Fox News explained:
When the investigation was over, Zeifman fired Hillary from the committee staff and refused to give her a letter of recommendation – one of only three people who earned that dubious distinction in Zeifman’s 17-year career. 
“Because she was a liar,” Zeifman said in an interview last week. “She was an unethical, dishonest lawyer. She conspired to violate the Constitution, the rules of the House, the rules of the committee and the rules of confidentiality.”

Hillary Clinton, First Lady of Arkansas, Land Speculator, Attorney

Regarding Hillary’s time with the Rose Law Firm, the key concerns have to do with using her offices as an attorney there to cover up crooked dealings in land speculation with a now defunct Savings and Loan called Madison Guaranty. You can follow the time line and come to your own conclusions at this site. The bottom line, from my reading of these matters, is that Hillary, land speculator, used Hillary, attorney, to cover up serious deficiencies at Madison Guaranty S & L, and, in fact, hid the billing records of the Rose Law Firm when the Clintons moved to the White House, so that her role could not be substantiated.

During this time period, Bill has been a serial womanizer, taking advantage of his positions as Arkansas Attorney General and Arkansas Governor to bed a variety of women, amongst whom the now most prominent are Gennifer Flowers and Paula Jones. These women, and others who were his special perks discovered in Hillary a rage of unforgivability, directed at them, rather than at her own husband. True, he was in a position of power and had the advantages of their willingness, but in the politics of power, Hillary’s bullying of Bill’s women fails to account for Bill’s responsibility. It also belies any sense that Hillary could effectively command a definitive offense for the fairer sex in the so-called war on women. Women have, because of Bill Clinton’s proclivities, been too often in Hillary’s angry cross-hairs.

Hillary Clinton, First Lady of the Nation, Poor Procurer of Personnel, Wager of a War on (Bill’s) of Women, Perpetual Plug of Prosecutorial Probes, Plunderer of Presidential Pickings

Hillary Clinton spearheaded the Clinton administration effort at health care reform. At the time, during the first two years of his administration, Clinton’s party owned both the House and the Senate during this period. Despite her “catbird” seat of leading a Democratic Party favored proposal – health care reform – under a Democratic administration with a Democratic Congress, Hillary could not obtain any legislative reform of health care (thank goodness). To call her failure on health care reform catastrophic is a fair summation.

Bill entrusted Hillary with the task of selecting an appropriate female nominee for Attorney General. Her record there offers nothing to recommend her as the Chief Executive of America’s single largest corporate employer, the federal government.

For Attorney General, Hillary proposed
  • First, Zoe Baird, who was forced to withdraw her name from consideration when her employment of an illegal alien as a nanny, and her failure to pay income taxes on her nanny’s employment income came to light.
  • Second, Kimba Wood, who was also forced to withdraw when a similar, but less disturbing nanny issue arose. Like Baird, Wood employed an illegal alien as a nanny. Wood had the good sense to comply with federal tax laws and paid the relevant taxes. The disturbing similarities took the fire out of the administration’s stomach to fight for Wood’s nomination.
  • Third, and finally, Janet “Kill ‘Em to Save ‘Em” Reno. As Attorney General, Reno made the decision to gas and burn David Koresh and the Branch Davidian religious sect in Waco, Texas, resulting in dozens of deaths of women and children. Even Bill Clinton later described the selection of Reno as “my worst mistake.”

Next, Bill entrusted Hillary with the task of finding a head for the United States Civil Rights Commission. Hillary chose Lani Guanier. Guanier immediately catalyzed opposition because of her legal theoretical writings. Guanier wrote on race-conscious redestricting. Though disputed by some, her writings gave rise to the impression that she thought only blacks could validly represent blacks in Congress. Her troubles were exacerbated by her reputation of supporting race-conscious quotas, so-called benign discrimination. Clinton withdrew Guanier's nomination from consideration after her political views – radical to say the least – came to light.

Hillary intervened in the operations of the White House Travel Office. She did so to benefit a family friend by insuring that he would be able to obtain unrestricted travel contracts. When the Travel Office staff balked, Hillary had them fired. Although a subsequent investigation did result in the prosecution of a single staffer – for commingling personal and office funds – that prosecution resulted in a jury acquittal.

Next, as she fully explored the inanity forever preserved in her paranoid notions of a “vast right wing conspiracy,” she placed a family friend as Director of White House Security. That friend, Craig Livingston then proceeded to use his position, illegally, to access and peruse the FBI investigatory files of some 900 Clinton “enemies.” (Apparently the only thing Hillary learned from investigating Nixon was how to get information on your political enemies.)

As the Clinton administration blossomed into the waiting room of Bill’s bordello of booty, Hillary “managed” that scandal too. Rather than settling quickly with Bill’s sexual harassment victim, Paula Jones, Hillary pushed him to fight the charges in her lawsuit. By the time that (legal) affair ended, an American president had lied under oath, had wagged his finger in the face of a nation while lying to it, and had become only the second US president to be impeached by the House of Representatives.

In a departing cascade of criminality, Hillary and Bill looted about two hundred thousand dollars in china, silverware, and art objects from the White House. Of that total, the Clintons returned, by valuations, about half, and paid to keep the remainder.

Hillary Clinton: Leftist Senator

After time away from Washington, Hillary’s next career move was to seek and to win a seat in the Senate as the junior senator from the State of New York. In a March 31, 2015, posting on The Daily Kos, an analysis of her record as Senator puts her to the LEFT of John Kerry, Joe Biden, Barbara Mikulski, Dick Durbin, Harry Reid, and Claire MacCaskill. To find a more leftist progressive in the Senate one needed to seek out the likes of Bernie Sanders and Barbara Boxer. Even Illinois junior senator came out more moderate in the Daily Kos rankings than did Senator Clinton.

If you suspect Daily Kos and its analysis, similar analysis of Hillary Clinton’s service as a senator, though not precisely the same, is found on the GovTrack website.

Madame Secretary, The Widely Traveled Accomplisher of Naught

Perhaps no picture better symbolizes the “successes” of Hillary Clinton’s initiatives as Secretary of State under Barack Obama than the famous foible of the “reset button.” You know the story, or can read about it. Here’s one link covering the goof.

Oddly, Madame Secretary Clinton could not, herself, quite put her finger on the signature accomplishments or even accomplishment of her tenure at the State Department. Both in a one on one interview with ABC News news reader Diane Sawyer, and in an earlier speech to a women’s forum in Manhattan, Madame Secretary Clinton did not, or could not, identify a single accomplishment.

Her accomplishments are just as well known to her supporters. The Bloomberg news organization explored the Clinton candidacy with a focus group.
Nearly all loved Hillary Rodham Clinton. “She’s a bad mama-jama,” said one female participant. 
Bad mama-jama is good, by the way. 
The woman explained that Clinton is “not afraid to step up” or “afraid to say, ‘No. I don’t want to do it that way. I’m going to do it this way.’” 
Another participant insisted that Clinton is a “better woman than I am” — a great standard for selecting a president, to be sure — because of Clinton’s ability to weather various scandals and humiliations. 
The awkward part came when Bloomberg’s Mark Halperin asked the room, “What did she accomplish that you consider significant as secretary of state?” 
The answers — or rather, the replies, since no one had an answer — were awkward, to say the least. 
“I really can’t name anything off the top of my head,” one squirming Democrat admitted. 
“Give me a minute. Give me two minutes. Go to someplace else,” another Iowa Democrat pleaded. 
A third let the uncomfortable silence play out for as long as she could before confessing, “No.”

Of course, to be fair, though not necessarily to Hillary, her term as Secretary of State saw this stupendous collection of developments:
  • Madame Secretary Clinton gave away American resources to Russian companies after/because they donated to the Clinton Foundation. 
  • Hillary got off her lumpy backside and pushed through State Department paperwork on the Keystone XL Pipeline. Did she do it because it's good for America? Well, if so, then why has Obama refused to approve it? Did she do it because the money behind the pipeline donated to the Clinton Foundation? Ahhhh, now you see. 
  • Hillary FAILED to take immediate action to buttress security at Benghazi facilities despite repeated requests. Hillary knew, during the attack, that the attack on Benghazi is not a random act of protest against an online video that defamed Islam. If you doubt that, you haven't been reading the email dumps from State this summer. So when she told grieving parents that we would punish the malefactor responsible for stirring up that strife, she was lied to the parents of a dead son. 
  • Hillary kept quiet about that certain knowledge -- that Benghazi was a planned attack -- when America's UN Ambassador appeared on all of the Sunday morning talk shows and lied to America's face that the attack was the result of a protest gone amok, following the inflaming of passions caused by a video that defamed Islam.
Noto Bene:  Hillary Clinton knew otherwise when this happened. She knew that the American people were being lied to by the President and his administration, herself included. Presidents will ask their staff, from time to time, to do that which strikes them as fundamentally wrong, perhaps in violation of moral law, or against constitutional principles.

How one handles such orders under fire tells us much about the character of the (wo)man. For example, when Archibald Cox, the Special Prosecutor, got too far up into Nixon's business, he directed the Attorney General to fire him and to take control of the contents of the Office of the Special Prosecutor. Elliot Richardson, the Attorney General refused AND resigned. Nixon then ordered the Deputy Attorney General to carry out the order that Richardson had refused to obey. William Ruckelshaus, the Deputy AG, also refused AND resigned. When the Offices of the AG and the Deputy AG are vacant, the responsibility of these offices falls to the Solicitor General. Robert Bork was that SG. He carried out Nixon's Order.

Hillary served as Secretary of State in the Obama administration as the President and his minions lied to us about a terrorist attack on our Benghazi assets. She watched and said nothing to the contrary when the lies occurred. And in heart wrenching moments of deeply personal pain for the families of those who died, she did the dirty work of lying to us. Unlike Richardson, Nixon's AG, she did not refuse and resign. Unlike Ruckelshaus, Nixon's Deputy AG, she did not refuse and resign.

Did you ever wonder how instructors at England's private schools become the kind of sadistic pedophiles that scream "you can't have your pudding if you haven't eaten your meat, how can you have any pudding if you haven't eaten your meat?" Perhaps it's because, once upon a time, they were students in those schools, with sadistic pedophiles screaming at them that they couldn't have their pudding until they'd eaten their meat.

In much the same vein, do you really believe that Hillary, who played Obama's toadie will not demand equally despicable acts of dishonor and dishonesty by those that serve in a Hillary Clinton administration, you are fatally naive, and I fear, armed to the Nation's great harm with the power of the elective franchise.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Are We Actually Wiser than the Founders?

To venerate the Founders to the point of denying errors in their judgments, or injustices in their actions, serves no good purpose.

Jefferson, Washington, and others owned slaves. We know that this was a moral wrong. In fact, we know that Jefferson and Washington both understood this point. That leaves us in the position of understanding that they made a choice to justify the ends -- development of their own landed estates, finding a ground on which the varying interests of the newly independent States would still permit the formation of new Nation -- while deploying wrongful means.

Still, the genius in their words, their actions, is evidenced by the fact that America is the longest-lived constitutional republic in the world. So, admiration of their words and work is warranted, but is tempered by recognition of their human failings.

As we approach another election season, a variety of "hot-button" issues allow us insight into the thinking of various candidates. That insight, in turn, allows us to compare those candidates with the Founders, and draw what conclusions that we may.

Hillary Clinton and Martin O'Malley, two of the three announced candidates for the nomination of the Democratic Party, have positioned themselves well as proponents of new and additional legislation to address gun crimes in the United States.

Hillary Clinton, in a recent campaign stop, as reported by CNN, staked out her claim as the President that would accomplish the necessary task of winning the "gun control" battle:
"We have got to do something about gun violence in America. And I will take it on," Clinton said. "It's a very political, difficult issue in America. But I believe we are smart enough, we are compassionate enough, to figure out how to balance the legitimate Second Amendment rights with preventive measures and control measures so that whatever motivated this murderer who eventually took his own life, we will not see more deaths, needless, senseless deaths."
Oddly, for a candidate opposed to the use of guns to solve problems, she has adopted a violent motif for her campaign website, casting her campaign themes as a "fight." Her major motif is "The Four Fights."

FDR liked the number four as well. In his day, with a broken economy, growing tyranny in Europe and Asia, he still did not stoop to portraying efforts at change, even progressive transformation, as a battle or a fight. Instead, he spoke of the Four Freedoms. How different are Democrats now, and Hillary at the front, making her policy initiatives "fights." By transforming engagement about policy into "fighting," she has, of course, made those who oppose her views, the "enemy." I certainly hope the two term bath of divisiveness given to us in Barack Obama is not extended a single day under that used up windbag's attempt to create energy by declaring war on Americans.

Martin O'Malley's Maryland has restricted gun rights literally since its founding. In fact, one argument made in defense of the gun restrictions that the Supreme Court overturned in the District of Columbia v. Heller case was that, because the District of Columbia was carved out of Maryland, that State's historically restrictive laws meant that DC residents had never had an unfettered right to keep and bear arms.

In the wake of the Charleston, South Carolina church shooting, candidate O'Malley sent an email to his supporters. He wrote:
I’m pissed that after an unthinkable tragedy like the one in South Carolina yesterday, instead of jumping to act, we sit back and wait for the appropriate moment to say what we’re all thinking: that this is not the America we want to be living in.
O'Malley bragged:
I proudly hold an F rating from the (National Rifle Association), and when I worked to pass gun control in Maryland, the NRA threatened me with legal action, but I never backed down. What we did in Maryland should be the first step of what we do as a nation.
Finally, O'Malley pitched a three point plan to further restrict gun rights:
A national assault weapons ban. Stricter background checks. Efforts to reduce straw-buying, like fingerprint requirements.
Bernie Sanders, the third announced Democratic candidate, and Hillary Clinton's stalking horse, has a mixed record of voting on gun control measures in Congress. Sanders has reacted to recent shootings and questions from media in a way suggestive that he will make pursuit of further gun legislation a feature of a Sanders presidency:
I do not accept the fact that I have been weak on this issue. In fact, I have been strong on this issue. And in fact, coming from a rural state which has almost no gun control, I think I can get beyond the noise and all of these arguments and people shouting at each other, and come up with real, constructive gun control legislation which most significantly gets guns out of the hands of people who should not have them.
See how his basic instinct is not to be seen as "weak on this issue"? And, of course, he voted to ban the sale of guns that look dangerous (the assault weapons ban), and he voted to ban possessing and using magazines with more than 10 bullets, so that a woman, trapped in her home and being assaulted by a gang of would-be rapists and murderers would be required to reload and reload to protect herself. The NRA has given Sanders a lifetime grade of D- on gun rights.

No real surprise is to be discovered in any of this information. These are candidates for the Democratic nomination. Of course they would support limiting the right to keep and bear arms. Of course Governor O'Malley pushed legislation in Maryland to require those that exercise the right to keep and bear arms to be fingerprinted as a precondition to the exercise of the right. For the Democratic Party, the fact that the "right to keep and bear arms" appears in the Bill of Rights is, at best, an anachronism, a throwback to the uncertain and unsettled times of our Nation's founding.

The right of the People to keep and bear arms, the Framers of the Constitution expressly concluded, was "necessary to the defense of a free State[.]" Moreover, the conclusion that the amendment was a necessary component of the federal Constitution plainly indicates that the danger at issue was one that would come, if it did, from federal encroachments. If the People of individual States were concerned that States would interfere with their right to keep and bear arms then the amendments would be to State Constitutions (many of which expressly guarantee the right).

The source of the dangers addressed in the Bill of Rights was the federal government. Episcopalians in Virginia no more wanted a federal government that could establish Presbyterianism as the National religion than did Baptists in Rhode Island want a federal government that could establish Episcopalianism as the National religion. Antifederalists in Virginia and the Carolinas no more wanted a federal government empowered to silence their speech than did Federalists want a federal government empowered to silence theirs.

The Founders did not stumble across the body of rights sheltered in the Bill of Rights. These particular rights -- religious freedom, freedom of speech, press, petition and assembly, rights against warrantless searches and seizures, rights to "due" (appropriate) legal process in criminal proceedings, rights to be tried by a jury of one's peers, and rights to the ownership and use of firearms against tyrannical government -- were the very ones violated by the Crown and Parliament. Those rights were the ones that were understood as being among the natural rights of men. Alexander Hamilton, in the Federalist No. 84, laid out the argument that iterating a Bill of Rights would serve only to limit the larger body of rights natural to men. He noted that New York, for example, did not have a Bill of Rights in its State Constitution. He also argued that the English Bill of Rights actually served as a boundary of the rights of free men, and that, in the same way, the provisions of Magna Carta ceded broad swaths of power to the Crown, reserving only certain identified rights to the Barons and the Crown's subjects.

Hamilton's view nothwithstanding, James Madison eventually agreed to the compromise demanded by anti-Federalists, that if the Constitution was to be ratified it should be supplemented immediately thereafter by the express adoption of a Bill of Rights. In fact, in the first Congress following the ratification of the Constitution, James Madison managed the House legislation that eventually proposed the Bill of Rights, including the amendment guaranteeing the right to keep and bear arms.

James Madison is often touted for his express concerns about Establishment of Religion and religious freedom. In particular, strict separationists are fond of citing to a set of writings, the "Detached Memoranda." Madison's writings there, for example, are cited and quoted because he concludes, nearly thirty years after proposing the Bill of Rights, including its provisions for Free Exercise of Religion and against the Establishment of Religion, that the appointment of chaplains for the Houses of Congress violates the Constitution and is inconsistent with principles of religious freedom. So, when it comes to strict separation of church and State, James Madison is, for lack of a better way to put it, a "latter day saint."

Yet the same Madison that thought that chaplains in Congress violated the Constitution and the principles of religious freedom also thought a strict guarantee against interference with the right to keep and bear arms was necessary to guarantee what he thought should be considered a fundamental maxim:
The political truths declared in that solemn manner acquire by degrees the character of fundamental maxims of free Government, and as they become incorporated with the national sentiment, counteract the impulses of interest and passion.
Those who would canonize and lionize Madison for his separationist views go quiet on Madison when the question is arms. Madison wrote:
Besides the advantage of being armed, which the Americans possess over the people of almost every other nation, the existence of subordinate governments, to which the people are attached, and by which the militia officers are appointed, forms a barrier against the enterprises of ambition, more insurmountable than any which a simple government of any form can admit of. 
[The Constitution preserves] the advantage of being armed which Americans possess over the people of almost every other nation...(where) the governments are afraid to trust the people with arms.
Madison's views of the necessity of preserving a robust right to keep and bear arms was not singular.

Thomas Jefferson accumulated a collection of thoughts and writing on questions related to government. The following quotation appears in his Commonplace but, while it is often attributed to him, he recorded these ideas from the text of an Italian author:
[Consider] that legislator has false ideas of utility who considers particular more than general convenienc[e]s, who had rather command the sentiments of mankind than excite them, who dares say to reason, 'Be thou a slave;' who would sacrifice a thousand real advantages to the fear of an imaginary or trifling inconvenience; who would deprive men of the use of fire for fear of their being burnt, and of water for fear of their being drowned; and who knows of no means of preventing evil but by destroying it. 
The laws of this nature are those which forbid to wear arms, disarming those only who are not disposed to commit the crime which the laws mean to prevent. Can it be supposed, that those who have the courage to violate the most sacred laws of humanity, and the most important of the code, will respect the less considerable and arbitrary injunctions, the violation of which is so easy, and of so little comparative importance? Does not the execution of this law deprive the subject of that personal liberty, so dear to mankind and to the wise legislator? and does it not subject the innocent to all the disagreeable circumstances that should only fall on the guilty? It certainly makes the situation of the assaulted worse, and of the assailants better, and rather encourages than prevents murder, as it requires less courage to attack unarmed than armed persons.
Lest it be supposed that this quotation in Jefferson's Commonplace was merely a copy book exercise in handwriting, Jefferson's thoughts on the right to keep and bear arms are known. In his proposed draft of a Constitution for the Commonwealth of Virginia, Jefferson included this provision:  "No Free man shall ever be debarred the use of arms." While that version of that language was not adopted, Jefferson's inclusion of it illuminates his thinking on the subject. More directly, Jefferson is well known for his prospect that "the tree of liberty be watered" by the blood of tyrants and patriots. His observation came in a larger letter to William Smith, in which he reflected on the fact that Shay's Rebellion was not, in his view, an entirely evil matter. His view reflected his thinking that those in authority ought to be reminded of the essential powers of the People:
What country before ever existed a century & half without a rebellion? & What country can preserve it's liberties if their rulers are not warned from time to time that their people preserve the spirit of resistance? Let them take arms. The remedy is to set them right as to facts, pardon & pacify them. What signify a few lives lost in a century or two? The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots & tyrants. It is its natural manure.
Alexander Hamilton, though he died in a duel, understood the importance of the individual right to bear arms in maintaining the balance of power against an over reaching tyranny. On this point, he wrote in The Federalist No. 28:
If the representatives of the people betray their constituents, there is then no resource left but in the exertion of that original right of self-defense which is paramount to all positive forms of government, and which against the usurpations of the national rulers, may be exerted with infinitely better prospect of success than against those of the rulers of an individual state. In a single state, if the persons intrusted with supreme power become usurpers, the different parcels, subdivisions, or districts of which it consists, having no distinct government in each, can take no regular measures for defense. The citizens must rush tumultuously to arms, without concert, without system, without resource; except in their courage and despair. 
[I]f circumstances should at any time oblige the government to form an army of any magnitude that army can never be formidable to the liberties of the people while there is a large body of citizens, little, if at all, inferior to them in discipline and the use of arms, who stand ready to defend their own rights and those of their fellow-citizens. This appears to me the only substitute that can be devised for a standing army, and the best possible security against it, if it should exist.
Many, many more evidences in the writings of those that framed the Constitution and the amendments that came to be the Bill of Rights demonstrate that the Second Amendment's topic, the right to keep and bear arms, was not an add on or a tag along, but understood to be an important tonic in the preservation of liberty.

Now, today, between Hillary Clinton, Martin O'Malley, and Bernie Sanders, Democrats face a choice of three candidates none of whom respect the reasoning or conclusions of those very Framers. And that brings me back to those opening thoughts.

Yes, the Framers were human. Yes, they exhibited frailties of character not much different than are common today. Certainly slavery is a weighty charge against honor and decency. One might say the same, however, of other policy choices that are weighed in lives, such as abortion, authorizations for the use of force, confiscatory taxation.

In the main, it occurs to this observer that these candidates' thoughts on the right to keep and bear arms warrant small regard. Because they mock as some distant memory that imminent threat to liberty that tyranny constituted in the Revolutionary era, because their party was, itself, responsible for the armed reign of terror known at Ku Klux Klan, and its depredations against the newly freed slaves and their Republican patrons, because they are forever aligned with devotion to government rather than liberty, they are simply without sufficient indicia of reliability.

No, in this respect, we are not wiser than the Founders.