A $621 Million Slap in the Face

While Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s words yesterday were equally hilarious, disgusting and hypocritical, the problems with the brand new Capitol Visitor Center run deeper than Reid’s own personal, well-documented disdain for America and Her people. This new exhibition area is, quite literally, a $621 million slap in the face of our nation and everything for which She stands.

The Capitol Visitor Center is, as Dr. Matthew Spalding of The Heritage Foundation writes, “Congress’ temple to liberals’ ‘living Constitution,’ the eternal font of lawmakers’ evolving mandate to achieve the nation’s ideals.” It conveys the idea that America is better because of government rather than the diametrically opposed ideal held by our founders and by conservatives that America has thrived and will thrive despite government, and it scrubs nearly every mention of God, religion and faith from our nation’s history, the latter no doubt an attempt to appease those who buy into the notion that our Constitution somehow creates the separation of church and state (the Establishment Clause, remember, merely stated that Congress shall not establish a national religion, and said nothing of worship in schools, the Ten Commandments in the town square, or a mezuzah on the office door of a Jewish lawmaker).

As with the proposed–and thankfully scrubbed–Enola Gay exhibit at the Smithsonian, or the initial proposals for Ground Zero in New York City, we somehow refused or otherwise forgot how to explain the past and convey the lessons to be learned for the without drastically re-writing the history books with a pen dipped in a font of political correctness. Only, this time, the project was built — with taxpayer money.

Above all else, it strikes me that the message sent by the new Capitol Visitor Center in its very design countermands the very essence of America. No longer will the crowds be able to enter the building and see the grand rotunda. No longer will the crowds climb the expansive steps, gazing upwards at the Statue of Freedom. Instead, the new facility was specifically designed to separate Harry Reid’s unwashed masses from those in our government. That doesn’t sit right with me. After all, we elected those officials. Furthermore, our founders established this nation knowing, from their own experience with tyranny and oppression, that the only way this great experiment would work was if the power was kept as close to the people as possible, and now not only does the design of the CVC physically insulate power from the people, but it spreads false accounts of our nation’s history in the process.

A few hundred yards from where I now sit, those imperfect men who established our great nation wrote a limiting document, a document granting Congress only 17 enumerated powers, a document preserving for all to read their intent to ensure that our rights, bestowed on us by our Creator, would be abdicated by no one. The three million or so tourists, foreigners and students estimated to visit the new facility each will will be told none of that. They’ll be getting a message sanitized against religion, biased against originalist thought, promoting judicial activism, and glorifying the blatant disregard of the intentions of those who fought and bled and died to create our country.

The sad, sad part of this is that Republicans were largely in charge during the planning stages of this new facility. Either they did not read the details and fine print, or they simply did not care. Now, in this abomination on Capitol Hill, we’ve paid almost three-quarters of a billion dollars to celebrate, in glass, steel, marble and perpetuity, the complete departure from the ideas and ideals and faith of those who founded America.

Here’s the piece from The Heritage Foundation. I hope that all of you are as outraged as I am.

– Jeff


Liberalized Center is ‘Capitol’ Crime
By Matthew Spalding, Ph.D., The Heritage Foundation

As an expert in the U.S. Constitution and America’s founding, I thought I had lost the ability to be shocked by politically correct distortions of our history. Then I visited the new Capitol Visitor Center.

The just-completed Visitor Center, which opens Dec. 2, is a 580,000-square-foot cavern dug at the foot of the U.S. Capitol at a cost of $621 million (almost nine times over budget).

The Capitol is a noble monument to American liberty. The neoclassical architecture is meant to be approached from afar. We are supposed to walk up vast flights of stairs to enter a magnificent rotunda, inspired to reflect on the grandeur of our self-governing republic.

Now the public will approach the Capitol underground and enter, mole-like, through the basement.

What Congress has arranged for the public to be taught before they get in is a scandal.

Designed to provide “an enhanced educational experience,” the Visitor Center allows guests to make on-line reservations before spending time at two gift shops, enjoying a 530-seat restaurant, visiting any of 26 restrooms or watching an orientation film in one of two theaters, all in air-conditioned comfort.

The “educational” part is the Exhibition Hall, the theme of which is “E Pluribus Unum — Out of Many, One.” The etching in marble initially referred to that phrase as the nation’s motto. Now, however, that etching is covered by a bad plaster job, because … well, “E Pluribus Unum” is not the nation’s motto. Our actual motto, “In God We Trust,” is notably absent, along with other references to faith.

Take how the exhibit treats the Northwest Ordinance, the 1787 document that signaled the beginning of America’s westward expansion. It’s selectively quoted to encourage education — carefully shorn of its opening clause: “Religion, morality and knowledge, being necessary to good government and the happiness of mankind …”

But what bothered me the most when I toured the Visitor Center at the request of Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) — who raised a warning flag on this politically correct outrage — is what it does to the Constitution.

I always thought (because it says so) that the Constitution was about the powers delegated to government by the people, who possess individual rights. Article I begins: “All legislative powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States.” A written agreement on the extent (and limits) of those powers is critical to a constitution that derives its “just powers from the consent of the governed,” as the Declaration of Independence prescribes.

“If Congress can do whatever in their discretion can be done by money, and will promote the General Welfare,” James Madison wrote, “the Government is no longer a limited one, possessing enumerated powers, but an indefinite one, subject to particular exceptions.”

Wrong, Mr. Madison. The Constitution, according to the new Visitor Center, isn’t a list of powers but “aspirations” that Congress is expected to define and realize. I guess those are like the rights the Supreme Court, in the 1960s, began discovering in “penumbras” and “emanations” of the Constitution.

What “aspirations,” you ask? There are six:

  1. Unity (as in “a more perfect Union” in the Preamble, which grants Congress no power).
  2. Freedom (based on the First Amendment, which begins, by the way, with “Congress shall make no law …”).
  3. Common Defense (from Article I, Section 8).
  4. Knowledge (authority to promote public education, support arts and sciences, fund extensive research).
  5. Exploration (to justify funding “curiosity and boldness.” Both 4. and 5. come from a convoluted reading of the clause granting Congress the power to issue patents.)
  6. General Welfare (found in Article I, Section 8′s restriction of the taxing power, but taken here to mean “improving transportation, promoting agriculture and industry, protecting health and the environment, and seeking ways to solve social and economic problems”).

See for yourself. The full text of the script and orientation film is online at heritage.org/leadershipforamerica/upload/CVC.pdf.

This exhibit is Congress’ temple to liberals’ “living Constitution,” the eternal font of lawmakers’ evolving mandate to achieve the nation’s ideals. There are no fixed meanings in their version, only open-ended “aspirations.” The Constitution is an empty vessel, to be adapted to the times, as required to bring change. It means nothing — or anything.

Not surprisingly, the rest of the exhibit details the unfolding of liberal progress and the rise of modern administrative government. Everything is about movement away from America’s sins (slavery, treatment of Indians, Vietnam) toward congressionally led enlightenment (direct election of senators, voting rights, the New Deal, Medicare).

The education experience concludes by quoting Sen. Robert La Follette, the great progressive reformer from Wisconsin: “America is not made. It’s in the making.”

According to this distorted view, we are a pluribus only until Congress makes us an unum–by remaking the Constitution in its own image.

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Comments

  1. GinRummy says:

    how are we ever supposed to take our country back if our kids are being taught this same nonsense in their schools too?

    i worry for our future.

  2. John Galt says:

    What needs to happen is the formation of a Christian Leadership faction within the Republican party.

    This country was formed on Judeo/Christian principles and unless it returns to those principles it is a dying entity that will be conquered by the Muslims and Sharia law

  3. lonestar says:

    I worry too. It goes back to the adage, if you repeat a lie enough times, people begin to believe it as truth (or something along those lines). That thousands of visitors will be subjected to this distorted view of America and our history is scary indeed.

    Also, the fact that Congress can’t even build a simple visitor center w/o going ~9x over budget tells me all I need to know about why our nat’l deficit is what it is. My 7-yr-olds are more careful with money than Congress. And with the economy struggling they saw fit to spend over $600m on this?!

  4. Anonymous says:

    Get ready for the persecution, folks, big time. The younger generations have been fed all the background “history – not” now for decades that backs this kind of vulgar display. They’ve swallowed it and been carefully boiled like frogs. The takeover has begun and no amount of bandaid bailouts – which will temporarily look like there is some hope, will do the trick. Then the real bottom is going to fall out and there will be real desperation translated into God only knows what kind of action.

  5. ForMySons says:

    “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed,”

    Pretty much makes a mockery of the whole idea of The Welcome Center……or is the other way around?

  6. Anonymous says:

    I am saddened by what has happened to our country. I grew up the daughter of a career USAF officer. He never let me forget why he, his father and grandfather, along with my maternal grandfather fought for this country. They believed in the principles on which this country was founded. They all made their own way, without a handout, just the opportunity to make their own way.
    When I was a child and my father was stationed at the Pentagon he took me to every monument and historical location he could. He knew the history and importance of each. He was proud.
    He’s been gone 14 years now, but if he were alive today I believe he would weep to see what we have become.
    There are 6 flags in my home: 1 great grandfather’s, 2 grandfathers’, my mother’s (WWII WAC), my father’s and my first husband’s, KIA Vietnam. Lately I look at these flags and think to myself, “It’s all gone, just like them.”

  7. Anonymous says:

    Gin Rummy –
    One more thing I would add is do NOT be fearful of teaching your children at home. No one ever thinks they can do it — I sure did not think I could — but YES YOU CAN!

    Liberty must be fought for. It always requires a sacrifice of some sort and it isn’t always easy, but we have got to stop looking out for our own generation and start thinking about the legacy we want to leave to our children. It will require sacrifice but I promise it is not as hard as it seems. I can honestly say, despite the hard work, I have been blessed way beyond what I expected and way more than I deserve.

    K

  8. Anonymous says:

    Jeff, How many other students and professors in your law school hold similar views on the state of our nation and the purpose of the Constitution? Seriously, you are getting me down and I need a little hope. Is there any of that coming out of our law schools in the future or are your views from the minority?
    kb

  9. Anonymous says:

    I’ll bet the Food Court at the Capitol Visitor’s Center doesn’t hold a candle to Nancy Pelosi’s green cafeteria!

    However, I’m sure the common folk are still able to purchase a cup of Stonyfield Farm yogurt.

  10. tanker says:

    Jeff,

    Please write a book on what the Constitution allows and what we have allowed it to become. Having a usurper-in-chief is only the latest step in our departure from the founding fathers’ intents. The abuse of the interstate commerce clause, as well as “promote the general welfare,” promulgates the cancerous growth of government programs and regulations. The canard of “separation of church and state,” found nowhere in the Constitution, robs us of our moral birthright.
    The book will write itself, and you have so mcuh spare time on your hands.

  11. Anonymous says:

    I just want to know if Harry Ried is offended by the “smell” of my money!

  12. let us move forward says:

    I too am sorry to see that soooo much taxpaper money has been spent on a boondoogle that was probably proposed as a way to allow people to visit the capitol building more freely again. The “political reeducation” does not belong in a “temple” either.

    My husband was born in DC and we have been there several times to visit. Before 911, it was great. Everything was open and you could walk around freely and absorb the splendor of our beautiful buildings in our Nation’s Capitol. We went after 911 and there had been many changes. Barriers had been erected, access required an appointment or you had to wait in a long line.

    Seeing the changes made me think. The buildings are historic and wonderful, but the buildings are not the essence of our government. The original Declaration of Independence and Constitution are national treasures, but it is the ideas in the documents that are priceless. Everyone should read and attempt to understand these documents from the original words and not rely totally on the interpretation of someone else.

    As long as we understand and live by the ideas given to us by the framers, have the self discipline to live honorably and work, and do not fear the forces that attempt to destroy us, we will have control over our lives and freedom.

    The founding documents and ideas are only human tools. The people that live in this country are what determine what this country is. Much of the nation has become fat, lazy, uneducated, detached from reality, and spoiled. The comments of the Honorable Senator confirm that he shares some of these traits.

    The freedom to spend seems to be the highest priority for individuals, our economy and our government. Consumer confidence (as opposed to goods produced) is one of the most important measures of our economic health.

    For years, we have been selling out our country. What percentage of our government’s debt is owed to foreigners? What percentage of our economy as (stocks, bonds, real estate) is in foreign hands? Companies have traded technology developed over many years for short term cheap labor in China. The State of the Union is not a pretty picture.

    We need to fire all these folks that are wasting what they take from us, destroying the value of the dollar, and destroying the economy.

  13. Anonymous says:

    “i worry for our future.” – GinRummy
    “a dying entity that will be conquered…” – John Galt
    “I worry too.” …”distorted view of America and our history is scary indeed.”-Lonestar
    “Get ready for the persecution…” …”Then the real bottom is going to fall out and there will be real desperation translated into God only knows what kind of action”-Anon

    Yep… it’s a Righty Board. lol

  14. Anonymous says:

    These key word “aspirations” are found among the New Age Movement / one world government circles. See the Georgia Guidestones http://thegeorgiaguidestones.com/Message.htm
    They sound much like the speak of these movements. And ditto on the “temple” thing – this is what they will give us for our new religion.

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