With All Your Protections in a Binder on His Desk

After my Due Process post, I received a letter from a friend — a tax attorney — who agreed with my central point about the modern tyrannical state, but who did want to defend the IRS on the point I was making about due process.

“Although I agree with you that the modern administrative state is overreaching and Tyrannical, I believe it is untrue to characterize IRS assessment and collection processes as being ‘without due process.’”

As he defines his terms, I quite agree with him. And as I am defining mine, he (I think) would agree with me. By due process, I did not mean orderly process, or defined process, or published beforehand process. I agree with my friend that all that and more occurs during the processes of tax assessment and collection. Bureaucrats are nothing if not rule-guided creatures.

But before expanding further on what I mean by due process, I need to lurch off into this side paragraph for a moment to explain what I am doing. On this point, I am simply tracking and agreeing with Philip Hamburger’s foundational arguments in his Is Administrative Law Unlawful? This also addresses the objections of those who believe that I have inexplicably set myself up as an expert in constitutional law, har har har, doing so with a degree in philosophy from the University of Idaho, har har har. But Hamburger is a professor of law at Columbia Law School, and the book is published by The University of Chicago Press. Thus it is that I tentatively conclude that a man may agree with Hamburger while remaining clothed and in his right mind. Unless, of course, we have gotten to such a point of administrative tyranny that we are not allowed to decide on our own experts anymore, but must go with the constitutional experts who are assigned to us. These would usually be the living document johnnies, the ones who think that the right to keep and bear arms means that you can’t.

Where was I? As I mentioned, by due process I do not mean orderly process. I grant that the IRS gives us that. I am talking about three basic ways in which our interactions with the IRS — and the administrative state generally — violate the historical understanding of due process. First, the process is inquisitorial. Second, such processes tend to invert the presumption of innocence. And third, a man can get into serious trouble without ever coming near a court of law. This is a problem because the IRS is part of the executive branch. If I am in legal trouble, my troubles should begin in a judicial court, not end there, or miss a real court entirely.

Now as my friend pointed out, if a man plays his cards right, he can wind up in a legitimate tax court. But it is perilously easy for the average guy to not play his cards right.

In other words, if in one circumstance I am suspected of shorting the government by five thousand dollars in 2011, and in another circumstance I am suspected of shooting old Henry Spivvins in a bar fight in 2011, my legal exposure in these two scenarios is entirely and completely different.

Tangled Blatts

“At thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore” (Ps. 16: 11)

The Basket Case Chronicles #165

And even things without life giving sound, whether pipe or harp, except they give a distinction in the sounds, how shall it be known what is piped or harped? For if the trumpet give an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself to the battle? So likewise ye, except ye utter by the tongue words easy to be understood, how shall it be known what is spoken? for ye shall speak into the air” (1 Cor. 14:7–9)

Paul’s argument here is a fortiori, a “how much more” argument. A melody cannot be made out apart from a distinction of notes, whether from a pipe, or harp. And if a trumpet gives a series of tangled blatts, how will the troops know to get ready for battle? Unless there is distinction in the notes, the whole operation is just a disturbance in the air. In the same way, speaking in an unknown tongue apart from interpretation is just so much noise.

Therefore, in a Christian worship service clarity and ease of understanding are to be prized. We are to stand opposed to anything that gets in the way of such understanding, even if that something is edifying to this person or that one individually. The body needs to be able to say amen.

When the Heart is Gone

“So let us try to forget the word evangelical as a demographic description. Let us try to forget the word liturgical as a description of the boring church you grew up in. Let us try to forget the word doctrine as it was handled by that great nineteenth-century divine, the Rev. Dr. Snodgood, in three volumes” (Against the Church, p. 203).

Pursued by . . . Hounds

In a few weeks, the short film The Hound of Heaven will be premiering in London at the Raindance Film Festival. It was made here in Moscow, directed by Nate, and is spooky good. After it releases, I will let you know how you can see it. In the meantime, click on the picture for more.

Hound Heaven

Keeping It Simple

After a few days have gone by, I finally got around to watching the clip of Ted Cruz addressing a dinner hosted by “In Defense of Christians” (IDC). I had seen it referred to in various ways, but with some online calling it a despicable stunt on the part of Cruz.

I saw the entire clip, and not just the part where Cruz left the stage. And I have to say that my respect for Cruz has gone up significantly. It was not a stunt at all — but rather a plain statement of simple principles that ought to be unexceptional .

Having written on Israel fairly often, I believe that I am on the record with regard to the usual and necessary disclaimers. You can read some of that here or here. Zionism was a bad idea. Jews without Jesus need Jesus, just like everybody else. Israel is part of the secularized West, and fully partakes of all the corruption that this entails. This means that I am not shilling for anybody. If you find me something appalling that Israel has done — and this is not a hypothetical — then I will denounce it as appalling. For example, Israel’s tolerance of abortion is as despicable as our own.

But what we are talking about — what Ted Cruz was talking about — was the plight of Christians in the Middle East. Plight is too mild a word for what they have been going through, and Israel is a natural ally to them. And it will not do to point to what Israel has done to those Christians who have been used as human shields. The evil there is done by those who put up such a shield — Israel does have a shield in their Iron Dome, by which they protect their children. There is quite a difference between protecting your children with your weapons, which Israel does, and protecting your weapons with your children, which Hamas does.

It also will not do to point to the Muslim Kurds as friends to the Christians, as they have been. But those same Kurds, for the same reasons, are not hostile to Israel the way the radical jihadis are. There are 200,000 Jewish Kurds living in Israel. And the Kurds who have been providing safe haven for refugee Christians were trained by Israel.

There is, of course, more to say, but that will do for the present. A well done to Senator Cruz.