Mandeville, LA – Exclusive Transcript – “What Patrick Henry was talking about was there is nothing in your little document there, Mr. Madison, that says this new government has to report anything to us other than they’re going to keep a ledger. You can keep a ledger in your little House of your proceedings. The president can deliver a state of the union to the Congress. Outside of that, how do we know you’re going to tell us whether or not the NSA agency you created has 110 billion phone records of every living soul in the known universe? Was Henry prescient on this point?” Check out today’s transcript for the rest…
Begin Mike Church Show Transcript
N.B. This transcript was first published on 21 August, 2013.
Mike: As a parting shot here, since this is something that I think is going to be with us for quite some time, during the ratification debates as well, one of the things that had Patrick Henry’s dander very animated — of course I don’t think he needed to have anything animate his dander against ratifying without amendments — was what he called the new government, your new government’s right to secrecy. He kept bringing this up and James Madison kept saying: No, you’re wrong, that’s not going to happen because we have civil process and civilized people that are going to be administering the government. If we think this of them, then we probably shouldn’t ratify, but we don’t think that of them. What Henry was talking about was there is nothing in your little document there, Mr. Madison, that says this new government has to report anything to us other than they’re going to keep a ledger. You can keep a ledger in your little House of your proceedings. The president can deliver a state of the union to the Congress. Outside of that, how do we know you’re going to tell us whether or not the NSA agency you created has 110 billion phone records of every living soul in the known universe? Was Henry prescient on this point?
Kevin Gutzman: Well, it’s very common for historians describing the ratification process to say that Henry was demagogic or that he overstated things. It seems that over time all of his prognostications have been borne out by experience. What Madison’s point was is that if Henry wanted to say any power could be abused so we should assume that every power that was being granted to this new federal government will be abused, then the conclusion that Madison had to draw was that we shouldn’t have any government at all. Of course, some of your listeners will be saying: That’s right, I’m an anarchist! Yay Rothbard! Madison didn’t come to that conclusion. Instead he said: Ultimately republicanism is going to depend on the vigilance of the people. They’re going to have to insist that their officials not behave this way.
There are, of course, provisions in the federal Constitution whose intention was to ensure that what the federal government was doing be known to the public. There’s a requirement that budget of the government be disclosed on a regular basis, which is often ignored now by the federal government. The debates in Congress are supposed to be published. Of course Congress has a tendency now, when something important is going on, to hold executive sessions. These are not unknown…
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These are not unknown in the founding but are more common now. The bottom line is the spirit of republicanism is not as strong among congressmen now as Madison hoped it would be. I think anybody who’s listening to this program is already aware of that fact. It’s sad but true that what Henry was worried about has come to pass.
Yeah, your phone is being monitored. There was a different program that the federal government was using during the Bush administration that led the Bush administration to support and President Bush to sign a law that said none of the major telecommunications companies would be exposed to civil liability for having cooperated with the federal government in mining people’s emails and phone calls and so on. You and I complained at the time that this became public knowledge that tens of millions of Americans had had their communications monitored this way by people in the government and we were never going to know which of us they were or what kind of communications some bureaucrat had, whether it’s private correspondence about your financial affairs or about your health issues or stuff you sent to your sweetheart thinking it was private or whatever. Some guy at the FBI or CIA or NSA or somebody might be chuckling as he’s reading that kind of thing. Apparently people didn’t care.
Mike: The people that are complaining today didn’t care. Let’s be specific. The ones that are complaining about Obama today didn’t care then because Bush was doing it.
Gutzman: Right. It’s very odd to me that people are so partisan in their concern about these things. It’s all right if a Republican reads their email but it’s terrible if a Democrat does. Really? My feeling is I don’t want any of these chumps reading my email or listening to my phone calls. I don’t see some big distinction between the NSA with Bush as president and the NSA with Obama as president. It’s still a group of folks who shouldn’t be monitoring my phone calls.
Mike: Neither do I. We’re out of time. Thank you very, very much. Get his books, folks. You can actually find them in the Founders Tradin’ Post at MikeChurch.com signed by Professor Gutzman. They’re available at Amazon and fine booksellers everywhere. James Madison and the Making of America is the finest work of our generation anyway on the life and times of James Madison, and The Politically Incorrect Guide to the Constitution. As always, old friend, thank you very much. I appreciate it.
Gutzman: Nice talking to you, Mike.
End Mike Church Show Transcript