27 December 2010

Cuccinelli Virginia, how did he get elected?

Virginia's Attorney General, Ken Cuccinelli, is a teabagger. And like a lot of other teabaggers, he seems to be pretty ignorant of American history. But one of his latest pronouncements is particularly embarrassing, because it is so easily shown to be untrue.

Like many other teabaggers Cuccinelli is opposed to the new health care reform law. He says it is unconstitutional and has gone to court to have it tossed out. A Virginia judge found a part of the law unconstitutional the other day -- the part that requires citizens to purchase health insurance. Two other judges in different states have found the law was constitutional, so it will obviously have to at least go to an Appeals Court (if not all the way to the Supreme Court) to be decided.

But Cuccinelli thinks he has won some kind of victory and he was on CBS News yesterday doing a little bragging. And he decided to toss in a little analogy to prove his point. Here is what he said:

"Never before in our history has the federal government ordered Americans to buy a product under the guise of regulating commerce. Imagine, Bob, if this bill were that in order to protect our communities and homeland security, every American had to buy a gun. Can you image the reaction across the country to that? Well, the truth of the matter is, the same legal power is at stake in ordering us to buy health insurance."

The problem with his analogy is that it is flat wrong. Congress did pass a law that required every citizen to buy a gun and it was signed into law by President George Washington. It was the Second Militia Act of 1792. The young country was vulnerable and the law was designed to give the president the authority to call up a well-prepared militia in case of invasion by a foreign country, Indian attacks, or citizen uprisings (like the Whiskey Rebellion). Here is what the law said:

"[E]very citizen, so enrolled and notified, shall, within six months thereafter,provide himself with a good musket or firelock, a sufficient bayonet and belt, two spare flints, and a knapsack, a pouch, with a box therein, to contain not less than twenty four cartridges, suited to the bore of his musket or firelock, each cartridge to contain a proper quantity of powder and ball; or with a good rifle, knapsack, shot-pouch, and powder-horn, twenty balls suited to the bore of his rifle, and a quarter of a pound of powder; and shall appear so armed, accoutred and provided, when called out to exercise or into service, except, that when called out on company days to exercise only, he may appear without a knapsack."

How embarrassing! The Congress passed the law and George Washington signed it, and it did exactly what Cuccinelli said the president and Congress couldn't do. Coming only five years after the Constitution was approved, one could expect that these congressmen knew what the Constitution would and wouldn't allow. And the law was NOT found to be unconstitutional by the Supreme Court. Obviously the Founding Fathers believed the government could require all citizens to purchase a product.

And before anyone runs out to buy a gun to be in compliance with this law, it was replaced by the Militia Act of 1903 which created the National Guard.
Posted by Ted McLaughlin

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