Monday, November 16, 2009

The World is Selectively Complex

A favorite quip of ultra-liberals is the reminder that the world is complex. Of course, this fact is acknowledged only selectively, when it can support the left wing narrative.

The Fort Hood massacre is said to be a complex situation. Major Nidal Malik Hasan may be Muslim, but we should not jump to conclusions, as President Obama cautioned us. But the George Tiller murder was a rather simple affair. Do you recall any efforts from politicians or from the news media to understand Scott Roeder, the man who killed abortionist George Tiller? On the contrary, where we have been urged to avoid treating this terrorist attack by a radical Muslim in our homeland as a typical Islamic trait, the Tiller murder was widely criticized as a typical anti-abortion, right wing act.

collection of Fort Hood stories
collection of George Tiller stories

Have you noticed the seldom distinction between legal and illegal immigration? There are xenophobes and racists who oppose all immigration, but there are many LEGAL immigrants who oppose illegal immigration, and insist that our government should acknowledge the difference. The media's selective use of the distinction should be concerning to those of us who operate by common sense, which apparently isn't so common among journalists.

collection of stories on immigration

Climate change "deniers" are not deniers of any legitimate facts. Junk science deniers reject the blind assumption normal human activity is destroying the planet. Yet the global warming alarmists are denying that this current ebb of climate change could be natural. You may not have heard the founder of the Weather Channel is suing Al Gore, or that 30,000 scientists disagree that human activity has any significant impact on earth's climate. Suddenly we're supposed to accept an over simplified conclusion from fraudulent science as proof that Al Gore finally found something he knows something about (even if he turns out to be wrong)? What happened to not jumping to conclusions? What happened to a nuanced look at a complex situation?

collection of stories on global warming

We can't drill our way out of an energy crisis but we can spend our way out of a recession.

collection of stories on the recession

No attempt to understand the situation when America's military is accused of a crime.

Navy SEALS Criminally Charged for roughing up a terrorist

We're supposed to believe our elected officials always have our best interests at heart. No need to question their motives or the news media who obviously support their efforts to take care of us. For 8 years we were told not to trust the president; now we are told precisely the opposite.

collection of stories on the health care

There are no liberal extremists, only right wing extremists. When you are an ultra-liberal, even moderate leftists like David Brooks seem "conservative" to you. Ever wonder why you rarely if ever see a news story condemning left wing extremism but frequently hear terms like ultra-conservative, religious right (used as synonymous with extremism), right wing extremists, etc.?

Monday, October 26, 2009

The State is the new Church

Government is taking over the role of the Church. I use "Church" here in the traditional sense of Christianity. Where religion once taught morality (what is right and wrong), responsibility (honor, integrity, reliability) and compassion, the State now largely does these things in American society. How's that going so far?

For generations the Christian Church has neglected its role and failed to teach people how to live well (how to make good and wise decisions). In the last 100 years there has been a serious shift in cultural attitudes about who should guide civilization. It seems there are now more people looking to government rather than religion to deal with life's problems. Subsequently, the role of religion has diminished significantly, while it is becoming increasingly irrelevant. Unfortunately, this is not entirely a surprise.

My experience is with Christianity and so I limit my comments to that faith. To put it simply, the Church has failed in its job. Let me begin with the obligatory plug on the issue of poverty. Many religious people have devoted their lives to helping others. The Catholic Church as well as many protestants have given us numerous examples of this. And despite the immeasurable effort and resources expended in religious and secular endeavors, in general there is still a great deal of poverty in the world, and it appears no progress has been made to eliminate it. One observation here is that poverty in the world seems to garner far more attention from the Church than many other ailments of civilization. Abortion, for example, does not appear to generate as much organized Christian effort as does poverty. I do not mean to slight the great efforts some particular congregations and innumerable groups and individuals invest into fighting for an unborn child's right to live. I merely point out the fact that secular moral outrage at poverty vastly overshadows that for abortion, and this same attitude seems reflected, in general, in the Church. I'm very glad to note there are many, many exceptions but the rule none-the-less seems to hold that poverty is more important to our culture than is the legal killing of unborn children.

I do not believe poverty will ever be eliminated. In John 12:8 Christ says we will always have the poor with us. Jesus was not granting a license to ignore the poor, as that would be utterly inconsistent with the rest of his ministry as well as the Hebrew and Christian testaments. However, in this passage of John chapter 12, it was Judas, the disciple who would later betray Jesus, who expressed frustration at the supposed waste of money in pouring expensive perfume on Christ, rather than selling it and giving the proceeds to the poor. Mary's example should remind us that giving to the poor should not trump all other aspects of the Lord's work. I mention this only because so much injustice is being perpetrated on the world in the name of fighting social and economic injustice.

I believe it unfair to condemn the Church for the fact that poverty and misery still exist in this world. A more pragmatic issue, I think, is that the Church has also largely failed in another of its very important missions: to provide hope to the world. Let me repeat some words from a very famous person:

It is a poverty to decide that a child must die so that you may live as you wish.

We think sometimes that poverty is only being hungry, naked and homeless. The poverty of being unwanted, unloved and uncared for is the greatest poverty. We must start in our own homes to remedy this kind of poverty.

The most terrible poverty is loneliness and the feeling of being unloved.

The hunger for love is much more difficult to remove than the hunger for bread.

There is more hunger for love and appreciation in this world than for bread.

If you haven't guessed it, these statements are common quotations of Mother Teresa, and are easily found on the internet. If you feel tempted to disagree with her on any of these points I caution you to remember she saw a great deal of pain and suffering in the world, chances are more than you ever will. She knew what she was talking about. That's not to say Mother Teresa is unquestionable, there is plenty of misery to go around in this world. But let's be realistic with which one of you has a deeper perspective on suffering. Mother Teresa also said she saw more poverty in the United States than anywhere else in the world; she was referring to spiritual poverty.

Is it not one of the callings of the Church to bring hope and love to the world? Church membership is often used as a metric for determining the effectiveness of ministry, yet this measurement has been declining for generations. The general western Church offers hope to everyone, but seems successful with so few. The problem with the Church's past neglect of aiding the needy is not the issue here; that is a topic for another discussion. Christendom seems to be emerging from a desert period where true life was seldom found in its religiosity. Thankfully there is tremendous effort in the modern American Church to make up for this neglect, though there is still much ground to be covered. But in the vacuum created by the Church are other attempts to fill it with a secular remedy. The government has taken upon itself a major role of the Church.

Safety Net

For decades Americans have been taught to put our faith in the social safety net. In efforts to deal with "social injustice" and "economic injustice" there is often an ostensible effort to ignore religion and even to discard healthy American traditions which made the United States the greatest economic power in human history.

When I hear critics of capitalism present their argument it is typically by suggesting capitalists put blind faith in greed, as if the world were really that simple. There is often the implication that merely trying to keep up with or stay ahead of inflation is greed, even when it is a middle class or poor house hold simply trying to survive. When these critics are religious people their argument often includes the implication that trying to make ends meet by trying to increase one's income is relying on one's wealth or 401(k) or savings account rather than relying on God. If this is true, is it not also a conflict for Christians to put so much faith in the government social safety net?

I suggest a support of the social safety net is blind faith because it seems the most accurate term for it. With substantial evidence government is slow to act, negligent and even incompetent and corrupt (and that these problems are the rule rather than the exception) there are still many in politics, journalism, academia and ordinary citizens who strongly support an ever increasing role of government in social affairs. Underlying this secular agenda seems to be an unquestioning faith in the ability of the state to fix society's problems. Even among many religious people (and in my experience among some Christians) there is tremendous faith in the power of government with an unwavering assumption that government is benevolent.

The rhetoric of good intentions has indeed programmed many of us that government's compassionate attempt to help people can have only good results, despite the increasing hostility toward religion and the increasing harm public social policy perpetrates on those same people. If efforts to bring oneself out of poverty are "greed" and misplacing faith in one's wealth, why shouldn't the same be said of putting such faith in the social safety net provided by government?

In order to provide social programs, or more accurately to ration services to the people, the government must raise taxes. That is the only way government can pay for its ever increasing promises. And we the people are supposed to believe raising our taxes helps us. All the while, accompanying this propaganda is the false suggestion that confiscation of wealth under threat of imprisonment and redistribution is the same thing as "sharing." But let us not call this greed.

Once Considered Unthinkable, U.S. Sales Tax Gets Fresh Look
Levy Viewed as Way to Reduce Deficits, Fund Health Reform

House eyes new taxes as senators pare health bill
House Democrats say they won't reveal how they intend to pay for their plan until later. Higher taxes on upper-income households appear likely, but broad levies — even a federal sales tax — are also under discussion.

Obama pivots on taxing health benefits
President Obama, in a pivot from a campaign promise, told Democratic senators Tuesday that he is willing to consider taxing employer-sponsored health benefits to help pay for a broad expansion of coverage.

For the Better Good... Dems Consider Soda Fat Tax to Pay For Healthcare Monstrosity

ABC's Diane Sawyer Pleads for European-style Gas Tax

And what happens to those who question these well intended policies that end up taxing the people back into poverty? Typically there is the knee-jerk accusation of being uncaring or greedy. In contemporary politics, with Barack Obama as our president, it seems any disagreement or disapproval of the left wing agenda is branded as racist. This blind faith in liberalism and in Barack Obama has led leftists to actually believe their own propaganda. Recently there was a news story on revealing an astonishing discovery: Study: Obama foes aren't race-driven. Please note: leftists had to conduct a study to discover they've been deluding themselves about criticism of President Obama.

Think for a moment about the last time the federal government promised a social service and actually did a good job. How about the last time it stayed within budget? How quickly do you expect to get your benefit from a government program (the DMV, immigration services)? Remember the recent Cash for Clunkers program?
Some Surprised By 'Clunker' Tax
NY dealers pull out of clunkers program
Cash for Clunkers success limited by program flaws

And at this time we face the possibility of a bunch of people who can't manage our national budget, our retirement or our education who want to take over our health care and run numerous other industries. To think the people can't be trusted to make their own decisions for their own lives and must have some other supposedly qualified persons make such decisions for them is the ultimate in elitism. It would make Lenin and Mao proud.

Christ tells his followers to help those in need. But how have we interpreted his command? Compulsory "benevolence" robs people of the opportunity to give and to practice charity. Being charitable and selfless comes from the heart, or it should. Raising our taxes (compelling us to contribute to supposedly help others) robs us of the ability to practice grace on our own. Not only does it reduce the wealth that people could use to help others it also tends to reduce the impetus to do so; after all, paying taxes supposedly is helping people. (Note to the reader: you are not supposed to be aware of wide spread fraud, incompetence, waste and corruption with the spending of your tax dollars. And when politicians claim they will solve such problems you are supposed to trust them.)

And what are the justifications for raising our taxes? Usually we are manipulated by class envy and jealousy, pitting rich against poor, white against everyone else, etc. Merely using a government service more than someone else (i.e., money or the interstate) is typically portrayed as an injustice. How does brotherhood and peace exist in a culture where our leaders constantly try to divide us particularly on racial or economic lines? Suggesting that being Caucasian or Republican automatically makes one a bigot is somehow suppose to unite the people. Merely being conservative must make one homophobic, racist, sexist, you name it and this is supposed to build community. How does claiming the rich need to be taxed more and that they can afford it build brotherhood among a nation's population? This sort of rhetoric is class warfare; inciting envy destroys community. To promote an ever increasing intrusion of government (called "social programs") we are bombarded with propaganda designed to destroy national unity. And those of us who object to this are called greedy, and worse.

There is a time to give, but we too often neglect the teaching of how to survive. Most objections to higher taxes are not a matter of greed or even fairness. If it is greedy for one already struggling to make ends meet to oppose paying higher taxes, is it not also greedy for the government to raise those taxes in the first place? Aside from the concerns of helping and giving there are practical concerns entirely neglected by proponents of higher taxes. For example, the idea that raising our taxes helps us often leads one to forget that relying on government aid tends to atrophy people's ability to take care of themselves. The law of unintended consequences strikes a painful blow almost every time we presume a well intended public policy can do no harm. Medical practitioners try to help people too, but even they have a policy of "do no harm" (or at least they used to). This should be the first test of any public policy.

But rescuing people from poverty is not the goal of our social and political do-gooders. Helping to build people up so they no longer need assistance is the issue so often missed. The point, more often than not, seems to be to tear down the wealthy, the successful, the hard working and the independent. Economic justice is not about justice at all, it is about equality. By this reckoning, for one to have more wealth than someone else is an injustice. The solution is not to elevate the poor man but to take from the rich man with the blind promise that redistributing that wealth equally will eliminate misery (with the incredible assumption such wealth actually will be redistributed equally). But the fact is no amount of giving will ever eliminate poverty. Forced redistribution does not create wealth; it destroys wealth.

Prosperity is the only thing yet known which even has a chance of rescuing ordinary people from desperate poverty. Unfortunately, government has tremendous ability to squelch prosperity, but very little power to help it grow. Prosperity must grow to exist. We have witnessed the truth that the power to tax is the power to destroy, just as America's founders told us.

But these practical concerns are lost on so many who seem more concerned with equality than with the well being of people. Achieving this mythical and subjective idea of social justice requires the enactment of profound injustice in all other aspects of life. For some there is an almost religious devotion to the quest for equality. For others it is their religious faith that drives them to support the same endeavor, resulting in the attempt to force people to show love to humanity. In Christianity and in government forcing people to "give" is inimical to the professed goals of building unity, and typically becomes oppressive and abusive in the process. It is not our place to expect more from those who have more. Presuming we have a right to compel those wealthier that us to "give", as it is dishonestly called, is just as oppressive and destructive as is it for those with more wealth to greedily cling to it. And let us be careful not to naively assume simply being wealthy is greedy, as is often the suggestion.

Much effort is devoted to fighting the symptoms of social and economic problems rather than the real problems themselves. Using Christ's command to help the poor as justification for government interference and confiscation is a purposeful misrepresentation of this command. Christ never told us to use the government to force people to do what they really should be doing on their own. It is the Church's failing for not teaching people to be generous. What's worse, the Church has been quite successful at teaching the world religion is irrelevant at best, but most likely harmful. How does using the government to eliminate poverty actually solve any problem? What reason is there to believe the government is even capable of this? The American government can't handle public education and Social Security, let alone poverty or health care.

Illiteracy: An Incurable Disease or Education Malpractice?

According to the National Adult Literacy Survey, 42 million adult Americans can't read; 50 million can recognize so few printed words they are limited to a 4th or 5th grade reading level; one out of every four teenagers drops out of high school, and of those who graduate, one out of every four has the equivalent or less of an eighth grade education.

Annual report due for Social Security and Medicare

The financial health of the government's two biggest benefit programs may have slipped over the past year, reflecting the deep recession that has already bitten into other areas of the budget.

The trustees for Social Security and Medicare are scheduled to provide their annual report on the finances of both programs on Tuesday. In advance of the release, many private analysts said they expected both programs could run out of cash sooner than last predicted.

So many journalists, politicians and ordinary citizens have blind faith in the power of government to fix society's ails that is seems like a new religion has formed, fixating itself on the power of the state. Secular statism now has tremendous sway in the lives of the American public, and some would say more than does religion.

If Christianity is to regain its proper role in training and teaching and forming a peaceful society it needs to stop transferring its faith from God to government. Electing representatives who understand this fact is a vital step toward that end. The Church should be defining for society what it means to have hope, compassion and love but the government will not easily give up this role it has taken upon itself. For too long the state and secular society have defined these things for the Church. Is it any wonder so many people think of the Church as useless?

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

A Free Ride Era

The 1980s is typically touted as the era of the "free ride". President Ronald Reagan's right wing economic and political policies were designed to reduce government power and to increase the freedom of the people to make their own decisions. Reagan was of the conservative school of thought which holds several fundamental premises based on the importance of individual liberty, one of which is that you can make decisions for your individual life better than the government can. You realize, of course, I have to mention this because there is a large segment of American culture that does not believe this.

There seems to be an increasing number of people who believe government can make specific decisions for you and your loved ones on an individual basis better than you can. Leftists often treat Ronald Reagan as an uncaring president, and they say his policies were uncompassionate. The economic boom of the 1980s, they will tell us, is evidence of an uncaring and greedy administration. The fact that so many people were able to make something of their lives and bring themselves out of poverty and away from living on government handouts is portrayed as a "free ride."

A free ride is when you get something and don't have to pay for it yourself. This is the defining aspect President Barack Obama's administration. President Obama based his campaign and is now basing his agenda on the notion of giving people something they do not have to pay for directly. Health care is the biggest example.

So how do we get this fantastic new health care system if we don't have to pay for it? Well, we actually do have to pay for it.

To the modern liberal, success equals greed. If you can make a living without having to beg the government for a personal bailout you are getting a "free ride." But this label more aptly applies to the current era of American politics. You almost can't watch, listen to or read the news without seeing another example of the Obama administration discussing another need for the government to provide something to the people. And we are fast approaching the point of unsustainability, where the government simply cannot pay for all the promises it has made. The $1 trillion health care bill is totally borrowed money.

The wisdom of America's founders could help us understand why socialism should be avoided. The conservative principles written about and practiced by our founders paved the way for the world's strongest economy and greatest nation to build itself.

“An unlimited power to tax involves, necessarily, a power to destroy; because there is a limit beyond which no institution and no property can bear taxation.”
– John Marshall

“With respect to future debt; would it not be wise and just for that nation to declare in the constitution they are forming that neither the legislature, nor the nation itself can validly contract more debt, than they may pay within their own age…”
– Thomas Jefferson

“With respect to the two words ‘general welfare,’ I have always regarded them as qualified by the detail of powers connected with them. To take them in a literal and unlimited sense would be a metamorphosis of the Constitution into a character which there is a host of proofs was not contemplated by its creators.”
– James Madison

“I think we have more machinery of government than is necessary, too many parasites living on the labor of the industrious.”
– Thomas Jefferson

Too bad the left wing narrative is treated as the only reality we need today. Welcome to the free ride era.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Symbolism and the $1 Bill

Published at August 18, 2009 by

Crack open your wallet, pull out everyone’s favorite portrait of George Washington, and be prepared to learn about some odd symbolism that probably seemed perfectly normal in the 18th century. Here are the explanations behind some of the more baffling parts of our nation’s smallest bills.

What’s that weird pyramid drawing on the reverse of the bill?

The two circular drawings on the reverse of the bill are actually parts of the two-sided Great Seal of the United States. Although we don’t see the entire seal outside of our wallets too often, the notion of having a great seal is actually as old as the country itself. The Continental Congress passed a resolution on July 4, 1776, to create a committee to design a great seal for the fledgling nation, and heavy hitters John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, and Thomas Jefferson got the first crack at creating the seal.

Congress wasn’t so keen on the design these big names brought back, though, and it took nearly six years and several drafts to finally find a suitable seal. Congress finally approved of a design on June 20, 1782.

What’s the story behind the Great Seal of the United States?

According to the State Department, which has been the official trustee of the seal since 1789, both the obverse (front) and reverse (back) of the seal are rich with symbolism. The obverse picturing the eagle is a bit easier to explain. The bird holds 13 arrows to show the nation’s strength in war, but it also grasps an olive branch with 13 leaves and 13 olives that symbolize the importance of peace. (The recurring number 13, which also appears in the stripes on the eagle’s shield and the constellation of stars over its head, is a nod to the original 13 states.) The shield floats unsupported over the eagle as a reminder that Americans should rely on their own virtue and strength.

The symbolism of the pyramid on the seal’s reverse is trickier. The pyramid has 13 steps – the designers apparently never got tired of the 13 motif – and the Roman numeral for 1776 is emblazoned across the bottom. The all-seeing Eye of Providence at the top of the pyramid symbolizes the divine help the early Americans needed in establishing the new country. The pyramid itself symbolizes strength and durability.

The divine overtones don’t stop with the unblinking eye, though. The Latin motto Annuit Ceptis appears over the pyramid; it translates into “He [God] has favored our undertaking.” The scroll underneath the pyramid reads Novus Ordo Seclorum, or “A new order of the ages,” which was meant to signify the dawn of the new American era.

read full article

Monday, August 17, 2009

Morning Bell: Is Obamacare Consistent With Our First Principles?

Published at the Heritage Foundation, August 14th, 2009 by Conn Carroll

During one of Sen. Arlen Specter’s (D-PA) early health care townhalls in Lebanon, Pennsylvania; mother of two Katy Abram told the audience: “I don’t believe this is just about health care. It’s not about TARP. It’s not about left and right. This is about the systematic dismantling of this country. I’m only 35 years-old. I’ve never been interested in politics. You have awakened the sleeping giant.” Abrams is dead on. Our federal government has, unfortunately, long been drifting away from the limited government principles first envisioned by our founders. But over the past eleven months, that drift has turned into an all out sprint towards an undemocratic, technocratic, leviathan state … a type of government that our Constitution was specifically designed to prevent.

As Abram points out, both political parties have been complicit in the rapid deterioration of our founding principles. It was after all President Bush who pushed for and signed the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 which created the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP). When the Bush administration submitted their legislation to Congress we warned: “From a constitutional standpoint, the current versions of the legislation are different in scope, and especially in kind, from almost any federal legislation that has come before.” Specifically we identified: (1) Congress’s enumerated power—or lack thereof—to intervene with private markets in the manner contemplated, (2) the lack of meaningful standards to guide the extremely broad grant of discretion to the Treasury secretary (the “legislative delegation” problem), (3) limitations on judicial review over the exercise of that almost limitless discretion, and (4) related separation of powers concerns.

The only thing that truly surprised us after the legislation’s passage was just how quickly our worst fears were realized. The TARP plan, as sold to Congress, was never even implemented and, instead, it quickly devolved into a political slush fund. Because of the broad delegations of authority in the bill, the American people were left with no real avenue to check the federal government’s unprecedented interference in the U.S. economy. When Members of Congress voted for the bill in October 2008, could any of them honestly say they thought they had just voted to bailout General Motors and Chrysler?

The proposed health care legislation is just as bad, if not worse, than TARP. Sec. 142 of H.R. 3200 grants the new Orwellian-titled “Health Choices Commissioner” broad lawmaking authority, including the power to: set standards for every Americans health insurance plan, determine which of your current insurance plans do or do not meet that standard, and then punish plans that do not meet that standard. Even worse is what is not yet in the bill, but is desperately wanted by the Obama administration. A super-empowered Medicare Payment Advisory Commission that is specifically designed to “save money in an apolitical, technocratic way.” The entire purpose of this part of Obamacare would be to take medical decisions away from patients and vest it in a panel of experts specifically designed to be completely unaccountable to the American people. Is this what the Framers of the Constitution had in mind?

When the Constitution was being ratified, James Madison, writing as Publius, sought to allay fears that the new national government would turn into a Leviathan. In the 45th Federalist Paper he emphasized that adoption of the Constitution would create a government of enumerated, and therefore strictly limited, powers. Madison said: “The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the federal government are few and defined… [and] will be exercised principally on external objects, as war, peace, negotiation, and foreign commerce….” Federal tax collectors, Madison assured everyone, “will be principally on the seacoast, and not very numerous.” Exactly six months after publication of this essay, New York became the 11th state to ratify the Constitution. Is turning over one-sixth of our nation’s economy over to Obama’s super-MedPAC panel in any way consistent with this vision?

Quick Hits:

* The contentious health care debate is forcing many Democrats to rethink an August tradition: town-hall-style meetings.
* House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-SC) compared townhall protesters to the “snarling dogs” used against the civil rights movement of the 1960s and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) called Obamacare protesters “evil mongers.”
* The American College of Surgeons released another statement condemning President Barack Obama “statements that are incorrect or not based in fact” adding: “We assume that the President made these mistakes unintentionally, but we would urge him to have his facts correct before making another inflammatory and incorrect statement about surgeons and surgical care.”
* With 3,300 lobbyists working on health care reform, there are six lobbyists for each of the 535 members of the House and Senate.
* According to a still mostly secret White House deal with the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, PhRMA promised to promote healthcare reform in a multimillion-dollar ad campaign in return for a White House promise capping PhRMA’s costs under the overhaul legislation at $80 billion.

read original article

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Proposal for the 28th Amendment

Two stories worthy of note:

Many Americans are aptly frustrated with their representative government, and for many reasons. The largest spending bill in United States history was passed in early 2009 with few members of Congress reading it. Presently we have massive health care legislation before Congress, and it appears this will be no different. It seems fairly non-partisan to ask: how can Congress do its job responsibly if its members won't read the bills?

If one knew only what was reported in main stream news stories one is likely to think anyone who opposes the health care bill is extremist and racist. But in reading for oneself the bills before Congress a different opinion may arise. Aside from the legislation itself, the game of politics is known around the world to be one of deception and corruption. While Republicans and critics of all political stripes are accused of lying and exaggerating elements of the health care legislation, it appears there is legitimate concern over the unwritten results of a government takeover of American health care:

The status quo of the day in Washington is to write massive legislation, rush it through Congress, and with selective attention to detail by Congress and journalists alike. The politics of personal destruction is used to attack those who disapprove of the government health care initiative coupled with lying and misrepresentations of the legislation, which is exactly what the critics of that legislation are accused of doing. And it turns out those critics actually do have good reason to oppose the legislation.

Returning to the issue of Congress' unwillingness to read its own legislation, we the people have seen too many examples of Congress willing to spend other people's money with little regard for accountability while selectively using the argument of accountability to attack their political opponents when expedient. We heard many complaints about deficit spending during George W. Bush's presidency and now a bill encompassing $1 trillion in borrowed money meets with little resistance from those same critics. Unruly and manufactured protests were common and lauded during the Bush years (with much insistence such protests were genuine) and yet today any dissent from the Obama administration is treated with contempt and accusations of being politically manufactured, not merely by leftist journalists but also by members our government. Serious problems are found in the health care legislation currently before the Congress and have been exposed, yet are largely ignored by its supporters. And now we hear dissent from the government is un-American.

In light of these grievances we the people of the United States therefore propose this amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America. If Congress is going to act like spoiled children they should be treated as such.

Amendment XXVIII: amending Article 1, creating Section 11

1. All final legislation, before the final vote, shall be read aloud in its entirety in the main chamber to the House of Representatives on the same day of the vote; and likewise for the Senate. The reading shall be performed in person only by the Speaker of the House to the House of Representatives, and only by the Senate President Pro Tempore to the Senate.

2. The place, date and time of the legislation reading shall be publicly announced no earlier than 7 days before the day of the vote and shall not be changed once announced unless canceled, nor shall it commence before the appointed time. Any member of Congress not physically present in the appointed place during the entirety of the reading shall not vote on said legislation.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

10th Amendment Battle Lines

The battle lines over states' rights are beginning to form. Citing the 10th Amendment (yes, the actually-part-of-the-constitution kind of 10th Amendment) states' rights advocates, including not just governors and state legislators, assert the federal government has pushed too far beyond its constitutional limits. This argument asserts the continued federal overgrowth over decades past has led the United States government to boundlessly trump the rights of the states and the people. It is rather easy to reach this conclusion based on the actual text of the 10th Amendment, which states:

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

What is apparently a "right wing" interpretation of this amendment is that the federal government cannot act where it is not specifically given power to act, and that power is defined in the main body of the constitution; everything else is off limits. This is the fundamental tenet of Federalism.

On the other side of the battle is a massive effort to grow the federal government even further. Federalism was set up to protect the people against tyranny. The effort to grow federal control is therefore, wittingly or not, an effort to strengthen that tyranny. And it is bolstered by journalists not at all concerned about their own pretense of integrity and impartiality.

Evidently, we've forgotten what federalism is, and what it means to be a state. On July 31, 2009 CNN aired a report on this 10th Amendment movement. In this report, with anchors John Roberts and Carol Costello, we are given an excellent example as to the problems of the anti-states' rights argument.

Most of us like to think of ourselves as normal. This includes our beliefs. CNN's staff and crew are no different from the rest of us in this regard. And so when CNN asked for viewer response to a story it seems only natural that their predominantly left wing audience responds accordingly - and that CNN anchors would consider this response as "most people".

ROBERTS: Now, you would think- because states’ rights advocates are so strong in their opinions that the opinions- we’ve been asking for comments, right? Therefore, you would think that most people would be in favor of states’ rights, but it’s running, to a large degree, the opposite way.

COSTELLO: Oh, yeah. But my favorite comment so far- you know, ‘asking for states’ rights is asking, you know, the children to be the parents.’


COSTELLO: It’s comparable to that.

ROBERTS: Somebody else wrote in and said, “We’re the United States, not the divided states.’

We have here selected statements from members of CNN's predominantly left wing audience affirming their ignorance of federalism and statehood. And, of course these journalists can claim "we didn't say it" as if that were relevant, particularly with Costello's own admission that she liked a particular sentiment.

So what's the problem here? Federalism, after all, is a system in which the power to govern is shared between national and central (state) governments, creating what is often called a federation. The European Union might be an example of this. Each member of the European Union is its own sovereign country, but it should be no surprise that even this national distinction is quickly eroding. I expect to see within my own lifetime the notion that France or Germany or the U.K. or any member nation in the EU should be allowed to make their own laws independent of the EU treated as an absurdity. That's the problem with Socialism, state and individual rights are usurped by a national government.

And that is precisely what has happened in the United States. Through decades of being taught too little about American history and civic duty American society has been cultivated to think the Federal government is supreme over the states in all matters, and that the states are merely provincial denominations of that national government. Now advocates of states' rights are largely portrayed as right wing kooks by both Congressional Democrats and by left wing journalists.

But what about the "Supremacy Clause" you say? It's clear that when a state law conflicts with a federal law, the latter is the "supreme law of the land" as stated in Article VI of the constitution. This is in the context of a federal law being legal in its own right. No where in the constitution do we see authority for the federal government to impose itself in areas not explicitly granted it (a limitation imposed by the 10th Amendment), such as acts of benevolence, education, retirement and certainly not health care. Today Congress acts as if there are no bounds to the areas which it can legislate. A limitless government is precisely what our founding fathers wanted to avoid.

At its inception the United States of America was a small federal government designed to handle several specific tasks, such as interstate commerce and treaties with foreign governments. The individual states were to be otherwise regarded as independent and sovereign countries, on the same level as England, Russia, or any other nation. New Yorkers would have thought of themselves as citizens of the nation of New York. Federalism, as written in the Constitution by America's founders, did not establish a parent/child relationship between the federal government and the state governments. It separated powers along distinct lines: the federal government could do some things and yet was explicitly denied authority to do other things. The federal government does not have authority to do anything or what ever it deems as the "general welfare".

But it should not be assumed historical and civic ignorance are the real problem here, though they contribute a great deal to it. As seen in the comments given to us in the CNN news story mentioned above, and in the brief commentary offered by the anchors, those opposed to states' rights often just don't care about the reality of the situation. They want a centralized national government to be in control. Federalism no longer means powers separated between the states and the national government, now it means a parent/child relationship between the two, with the national level government treated as the parent.

Indeed, The 10th Amendment was great idea, but there is An Impending Showdown between the federal government and the states.

Let us not presume our individual liberty is uninvolved in this conflict. After all, individual liberty was the whole point of the constitution. Does our freedom have a place in a Socialist society?

Thursday, July 30, 2009

An Impending Showdown

A battle is brewing. A majority of the states have passed symbolic resolutions reclaiming their sovereignty from the federal government. The reason they have done this is because many Americans, including many state legislators, feel the federal government has overstepped its proper, limited role.

The health care initiative currently in Congress is merely the latest example. With the debate on health care reform we see an obvious Socialist agenda at work, accompanied by numerous and incredible denials that it is Socialism. And so, with a federal agenda at work to nationalize many aspects of American life (health care on the way, but we already have nationalized banks, an automaker, education and retirement) on the one hand, and states beginning to fight for their constitutional rights to run their own affairs as they see fit (as is stated in the 10th Amendment) on the other hand, we the have makings of a fight.

Though I support the states in this battle, I fear I have chosen the losing side. You see, at issue here is the fact that the federal government is going beyond its constitutional authority. This very fact is what caused this new revolution in the first place, and yet there is a popular assumption that by simply asserting their constitutional right to govern themselves the states can take back the authority usurped by the federal government. But with the Fed already ignoring the 10th Amendment, thereby establishing a long tradition of ignoring states rights, I have to wonder why would the federal government start recognizing its constitutional boundaries now?

Even now, with the growing movement to reclaim state sovereignty, the U.S. Congress and President Obama are still pushing hard to nationalize America's health care as if there were no reason to reconsider or even to slow down what they are doing. So far, the constitutionally sound new revolution is proving ineffective. The Fed is still ignoring the fact it is ignoring the 10th Amendment.

A showdown is imminent. States are increasingly insistent the 10th Amendment should be respected. The Socialist movement dominating our federal government leads it to interpret the "general welfare" clause in as broad a way as possible; this time, rather than ignoring constitutional language, it is a phrase of the constitution taken literally, ignoring the numerous clarifications written by our founders.

* James Madison, the Father of the Constitution, elaborated upon this limitation in a letter to James Robertson:
With respect to the two words "general welfare," I have always regarded them as qualified by the detail of powers connected with them. To take them in a literal and unlimited sense would be a metamorphosis of the Constitution into a character which there is a host of proofs was not contemplated by its creators. If the words obtained so readily a place in the "Articles of Confederation," and received so little notice in their admission into the present Constitution, and retained for so long a time a silent place in both, the fairest explanation is, that the words, in the alternative of meaning nothing or meaning everything, had the former meaning taken for granted.

* In 1794, when Congress appropriated $15,000 for relief of French refugees who fled from insurrection in San Domingo to Baltimore and Philadelphia, James Madison stood on the floor of the House to object saying, "I cannot undertake to lay my finger on that article of the Constitution which granted a right to Congress of expending, on objects of benevolence, the money of their constituents."
-- James Madison, 4 Annals of congress 179 (1794)

* "Congress has not unlimited powers to provide for the general welfare, but only those specifically enumerated."
--Thomas Jefferson, Letter to Albert Gallatin, 1817

What we have here is a modern tradition in the federal government of ignoring original understandings of and original language in the constitution. This is done not by accident, but for the purpose of achieving particular agendas. In this climate, with blatant disregard for the constitution, why would the federal government allow the states to reclaim their sovereignty?

The tools of semantic acrobatics and historical ignorance have played a major role in creating the current attitude among so many politicians elected to federal office. This government-dependent mindset permeates our culture as well, and so Socialist sentiments from the people fuel Socialist agendas in Washington. The fact this federal takeover has lasted and grown more bold over several generations speaks to the high degree of damage already done to our republic and to the American appreciation of federalism.

Even now we have evidence indicating what the federal reaction will be to the new revolution: branding anyone who disagrees with the Socialist agenda as extremist.

At, in Town halls gone wild Alex Isenstadt evidently takes sides in the growing controversy. In this article, Isenstadt is sure to let us know protesters to this Socialist agenda are angry. He even interviews several Democrats to let us know how afraid they are for their safety.

Screaming constituents, protesters dragged out by the cops, congressmen fearful for their safety — welcome to the new town-hall-style meeting, the once-staid forum that is rapidly turning into a house of horrors for members of Congress.

On the eve of the August recess, members are reporting meetings that have gone terribly awry, marked by angry, sign-carrying mobs and disruptive behavior. In at least one case, a congressman has stopped holding town hall events because the situation has spiraled so far out of control.

You see, letting the government go wild is perfectly okay, because it's largely done with civility (for now). But the protesters are showing their anger and appear rude, and that's just not acceptable to the elitist. The fact that federal politicians are acting unconstitutionally and depriving the states and the people of their constitutional freedoms by taking over aspects of American life it should never be involved with are immaterial. Showing anger is interpreted as being extremist, and therefore dangerous. And what is the career politician to do with this?

“I had felt they would be pointless,” Rep. Tim Bishop (D-N.Y.) told POLITICO, referring to his recent decision to suspend the events in his Long Island district. “There is no point in meeting with my constituents and [to] listen to them and have them listen to you if what is basically an unruly mob prevents you from having an intelligent conversation.”

And Rep. Bishop isn't the only one who feels this way:

Bishop isn’t the only one confronted by boiling anger and rising incivility. At a health care town hall event in Syracuse, N.Y., earlier this month, police were called in to restore order, and at least one heckler was taken away by local police. Close to 100 sign-carrying protesters greeted Rep. Allen Boyd (D-Fla.) at a late June community college small-business development forum in Panama City, Fla. Last week, Danville, Va., anti-tax tea party activists claimed they were “refused an opportunity” to ask Rep. Thomas Perriello (D-Va.) a question at a town hall event and instructed by a plainclothes police officer to leave the property after they attempted to hold up protest signs.

The elitist reaction to this genuine and sincere dissent is to ignore it, because they deem it "unruly". It apparently doesn't occur to these Democrats that they are doing something inappropriate in supporting federal overgrowth.

Democrats, acknowledging the increasing unruliness of the town-hall-style events, say the hot-button issues they are taking on have a lot to do with it.

Ah yes, it's the "hot-button issues" that cause this outrage, not the fact that government has grown beyond it's constitutional limits. At least these politicians acknowledge the problem is not that people disagree, it's that people are angry, but they have to change their attitude about it before discourse can continue.

Bishop continues in his self delusion that growing government and diminishing individual freedom are not the cause of the protests:

“I think in general what is going on is we are tackling issues that have been ignored for a long time, and I think that is disruptive to a lot of people,” said Bishop, a four-term congressman. “We are trying, one by one, to deal with a set of issues that can’t be ignored, and I think that’s unsettling to a lot of people.”

Thankfully there are some reasonable reactions in Washington to these protests. I don't know if they are any less self delusional, but at least these Democrats are willing to listen to their upset constituents. Isenstadt continues:

“Town halls are a favorite part of my job,” said Rep. Russ Carnahan (D-Mo.), a third-term congressman from St. Louis who noted that a “handful” of disruptions had taken place at his meetings. “It’s what I do. It’s what I will continue to do.”

“People have gotten fired up and all that, but I think that’s what makes town halls fun,” said Perriello, a freshman who is among the most vulnerable Democrats in 2010. “I think that most of the time when we get out there, it’s a good chance for people to vent and offer their thoughts. It’s been good.”

“I enjoy it, and people have a chance to speak their mind,” he said.

I'm glad to see there is no monolithic government reaction in this case. There is more than a simple party-line divide, even on the Democrat side there are reasonable politicians and elitists. But which group rules in Congress?

I think many people believe the reasonable politicians outnumber the elitists. If they are right, most politicians will acknowledge the fact their jobs depend on the approval of their constituents. But the elites have figured out they can bribe many of their constituents with promises of government hand outs, which makes it easier for them to bully the dissenters into silence (such as by treating dissent, angry or not, as extremist).

Political precedent shows us the louder voice tends to win. In the recent past the Socialist agenda has won a great deal of political ground and still has tremendous momentum. With the political game played as it is I fear the American people will suffer much more damage and lose far more freedom before any real progress is made to push back against federal overgrowth. By then will it be too late?

I think the political game will continue to drag this country to the left as long as the political rules remain unchanged. No amount of symbolic gestures and resolutions will accomplish any real goal. And the further left we go, the fewer rights the people and the states will retain. It's time to fight for real change, something that proved its immeasurable value for more than a century: allowing the states to have representation in Congress. If you want to restore the 10th Amendment, repeal the 17th Amendment.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

The 10th Amendment was great idea

Should a people blindly trust their government? I worry that as long as Democrats control the Congress and the Presidency the answer is yes. Apparently even disagreeing with Democrats is considered unpatriotic:

Despite all logic, the many calls and efforts for the federal government to take over as much of the private sector as possible seem to be met with little resistance. Thankfully there is growing conservative resistance to federal takeover, a takeover which many Americans would call a Marxist or Socialist movement. This resistance includes grassroots Republicans, Democrats and others alike, all in the name of the Tenth Amendment. This "second revolution" as some call it has spread even to state legislatures and governors, evidenced by their publicly reclaiming the constitutionally recognized sovereignty of their states, also citing the 10th Amendment to the constitution.

But one problem with this common sense revolution is that all the calls for change and returning the government to its people are largely symbolic. Even the fairly recent sovereignty resolutions of 36 states had no legal power. The rules of the political game are unchanged. The Tenth Amendment is actually part of our constitution, yet has been ignored for decades. And why shouldn't it be ignored, what incentive have our elected representatives to honor it? If an entire amendment to that venerable document can be utterly disregarded and done so with the blessing of tens of millions of voters who want the government to take care of them, how are we to trust any future claims by those representatives that they will turn away from an obviously politically lucrative status quo?

In the modern American tradition we should expect calls for new legislation to compel the Congress to recognize and honor the 10th Amendment for each new law they make. That is, after all, the result of this leftist training we have endured for so long: let the government regulate the problem away - though rarely does such a thing ever actually happen. But a problem arises here - why should a law be required to force Congress to do what the constitution already says? They have ignored it for so long, and we the people (and the states) have allowed Congress to ignore that amendment for so long what possible reason is there to believe anything will change with a wave of public pressure, which is no doubt sincere but likely temporary?

Let me propose an alternate approach. Rather than find new laws to accomplish the desired goal, why not repeal some? Or better yet, start with only one.

The men who invented the United States were well aware of the slow, creeping tyranny of government. They knew that without a balance between the people, their representatives, and federal power capable of doing what ever the representatives wanted, despite any input from the people, federal power would usurp anything it could.

James Madison, widely considered the author of Federalist No. 63, describes exactly why the Senate was necessary. In this paper the writer does not discuss only the importance of a bicameral Congress, with the powers of making law divided into two separate houses. Here, Madison also describes the vital importance of tempering the passions of the people, who can be lied to and tricked into supporting legislation they themselves would later regret. Madison says:

Thus far I have considered the circumstances which point out the necessity of a well-constructed Senate only as they relate to the representatives of the people. To a people as little blinded by prejudice or corrupted by flattery as those whom I address, I shall not scruple to add, that such an institution may be sometimes necessary as a defense to the people against their own temporary errors and delusions. As the cool and deliberate sense of the community ought, in all governments, and actually will, in all free governments, ultimately prevail over the views of its rulers; so there are particular moments in public affairs when the people, stimulated by some irregular passion, or some illicit advantage, or misled by the artful misrepresentations of interested men, may call for measures which they themselves will afterwards be the most ready to lament and condemn. In these critical moments, how salutary will be the interference of some temperate and respectable body of citizens, in order to check the misguided career, and to suspend the blow meditated by the people against themselves, until reason, justice, and truth can regain their authority over the public mind?

I am not unaware of the circumstances which distinguish the American from other popular governments, as well ancient as modern; and which render extreme circumspection necessary, in reasoning from the one case to the other. But after allowing due weight to this consideration, it may still be maintained, that there are many points of similitude which render these examples not unworthy of our attention. Many of the defects, as we have seen, which can only be supplied by a senatorial institution, are common to a numerous assembly frequently elected by the people, and to the people themselves. There are others peculiar to the former, which require the control of such an institution. The people can never wilfully betray their own interests; but they may possibly be betrayed by the representatives of the people; and the danger will be evidently greater where the whole legislative trust is lodged in the hands of one body of men, than where the concurrence of separate and dissimilar bodies is required in every public act.

And here, after indicating ancient governments knew well the importance of representative government rather than direct democracy, Madison warns that the failures of the ancient representative governments were linked to the fact that the very officers elected to represent the people in government transcended their representing roles, and essentially cut off connections with the people in order to form an aristocracy for themselves.

From these facts, to which many others might be added, it is clear that the principle of representation was neither unknown to the ancients nor wholly overlooked in their political constitutions. The true distinction between these and the American governments, lies IN THE TOTAL EXCLUSION OF THE PEOPLE, IN THEIR COLLECTIVE CAPACITY, from any share in the LATTER, and not in the TOTAL EXCLUSION OF THE REPRESENTATIVES OF THE PEOPLE from the administration of the FORMER.

How true: that the governed "may possibly be betrayed by the representatives of the people" and that allowing a governing body comprising elected representatives could easily devolve into "the total exclusion of the people". Madison was warning Americans about the dangers of career politicians. What Madison is talking about here is the necessity of having a Senate comprising two members of each state, chosen by the legislatures there of. Originally, in the American Constitution, the Senate was accountable to the states, not to the people, as was the House of Representatives. And being accountable to the states made the Senate less susceptible to the whims of fickle and flamboyant popular movements, because the Senate's constituents were their states' legislators. But with the ratification of the 17th Amendment this changed: now the Senate would be just as dependent on placating and pandering to the people as was the House, until they could assume so much authority they could pretend any disagreement between Senators and a citizen automatically meant the citizen "didn't understand" the situation.

The benefits of having a cool headed Senate ready to slow down the heat of public sentiment and allow reason to dominate any given situation has long been lost. With the 1913 amendment in place the states lost their representation in the federal government. Now any special interest, any lobbyist or popular and temporary wave of fury could influence both houses of Congress equally. And when so many people want the government to take control of an issue there is now no one left to protect the states' rights against federal usurpation. Today we are seeing the results of this tragedy. A federal government which took control of public education and forced us into Social Security has now taken over banking and largely the automotive industry. And taking over our health care is just around the corner.

As big a deal as it is to ignore the 10th Amendment, sadly this is a symptom of a much larger problem. Until the balance of power is restored by repealing the 17th Amendment I fear there will be no stopping the effort to turn the United States into a socialist nation in which we all have so many rights and entitlements that we the people can no longer do anything. In the American government, the ratification of the 17th Amendment spelled the death of the 10th Amendment. Before 1913 Senators responsible to their respective states respected and protected the 10th Amendment, and all the implications that go with it. Without this dynamic of the balance of power federalism is doomed, as is the freedom of the people.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

U.S. Constitution Key Concepts

Four short videos on the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution.

Thanks to Craig Seibert for these videos.

Monday, July 20, 2009

A Party We Can Trust

Let's face it, presently there is no effective difference between the Republican and Democrat parties. The end results of their agendas are essentially the same: moving the United States toward Marxism. The pace at which this tragedy occurs is of little relevance.

Since the 2006 elections, when Democrats took control of both chambers of Congress, it has been widely said the conservative movement is dead. This concept was bolstered with the 2008 elections, with Democrats again picking up more seats in the House and Senate, not to mention the Presidency. For a matter of months after that there were many suggestions the losses suffered by the Republican Party proved it should abandon its conservative base. There were also statements such as "The Reagan era is over." Thankfully, the left wing narrative does not establish the reality of the situation.

Conservatives have been analyzing and investigating the past two elections as well. Right wing understanding of Republican losses is strikingly different from the left wing calls for Republicans to essentially remake themselves in the image of Democrats. Conservative think tanks, pundits, commentators and the like seem to have reached a consensus on the fact that the nature of the Republican Party is in flux, but there are many theories as to what this actually means.

Other than calls to liberalize the Party there is also a movement urging conservatives to abandon the Republican Party for something more true to conservative values. In IS 2008 THE YEAR CONSERVATIVES ABANDON THE GOP? Pastor Chuck Baldwin encourages conservatives to vote for a third political party during major elections, such as the Constitution Party. I personally know people who decided to abstain from voting in the 2008 elections altogether. The fear of the ultra left Barack Obama (often touted as a "moderate" and even "conservative" by left wing pundits so far in left field they can no longer find any extremists to the left of themselves) helped push some of those conservatives to reluctantly vote for Senator John McCain.

Despite the many calls to move left or to abandon the party there is another option. A very popular assumption is that the Republican Party has reached the point of no return: either it must move left to survive, or it will never return to its conservative roots and therefore must be allowed to die. But I believe a third option is more likely to provide the competition needed to defeat Democrats at the polls in future elections.

I do not (yet) accept the presumption the Republican Party cannot be rescued. Another well received theory (mainly by grassroots conservatives) is that the 2006 and 2008 elections did not signal the end of conservatism. In fact, the vast majority of Republicans who lost those elections were not conservative, but "moderate" or "progressive" Republicans. To some of us this phenomenon suggests the Republican losses were a signal that grassroots conservatives desired true conservative candidates, and given the choice between a liberal Democrat and a left leaning Republican, liberals and moderates chose the genuine liberal. Grassroots conservatives had few inspiring candidates, so the Republican base was out performed at the polls.

That's why John McCain actually had a fighting chance during the 2008 presidential race. Not because he inspired the American people, but because Sarah Palin did. Never have I seen such vitriol and hate speech spewed from the left and even the main stream news media as I have seen dumped on Palin. Sara Palin's inspiring life story, of a middle America woman moving up through the political ranks and achieving the governorship of Alaska, was relentlessly ridiculed and mocked. Even today, before and after her announcement to resign as governor, Palin is still viciously attacked as if she were still running for a national level political office.

And what merited this widespread hate speech directed at Palin? She spoke of family values, defending our country and returning the role of the federal government to a more limited capacity as was intended by the men who invented the United States. This is the "extremist" philosophy the self proclaimed sophisticates found so repugnant. Even months after the election, before her announcement to resign from office, in her largely invisible political state of governing Alaska left wing commentators and journalists still attacked Sarah Palin as if she were an enemy of the state.

In a way, she was and is. Palin opposes a statist mentality, where all problems are deemed the responsibility of government to fix. The notion that the government's responsibility is to take care of the people is largely the vehicle by which government has robbed the people of so many freedoms enjoyed by previous generations of Americans. Palin respects the 10th Amendment to our constitution, which declares the federal government can do only what is explicitly spelled out for it to do, which does not include retirement, education and certainly not health care.

I don't like the way our government has handled Social Security or public eduction, and I certainly don't want to let that government take control of health care. I would be very excited to see a Republican candidate in the 2010 and 2012 elections espousing these beliefs. Please notice I have only mentioned a few big picture concerns. I'm not demanding specific, small issues be addressed. I believe a government adequately restricted in its power will cause fewer problems for its people and allow the rest of us greater opportunity to help ourselves and our neighbors.

Many Americans agree with me that a properly limited government is vital to the survival of individual liberty, and that the current state of affairs in America suffers an oppressive and heavy hand of a federal government that has stepped far beyond its proper limited role.

Another major, big picture, issue which needs mentioning is the right to life. A friend of mine told me he would have easily voted for John McCain in the 2008 election, despite other objections, if McCain had a less ambiguous pro-life record. This is a friend who had decided to abstain from voting that year, but was inspired to vote in the presidential race simply by listening to the promises of Barack Obama. My friend had no candidate he wanted to vote for, but the Marxian ideas promoted by then Senator Obama motivated him to vote against the Democrat agenda, something which could have been accomplished much quicker had McCain's pro-life record been better (unfortunately, he voted for a third party candidate). Constitutional protection is afforded to terrorists captured on the battle field, but not to unborn children. I would like to see the 14th Amendment expanded (particularly the phrase "nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws") to also apply to children in the womb.

I will mention only a third big picture issue here. The last is the fact that government's proper role of protecting its people is being severely neglected. Instead of taking the war against terrorists seriously, and instead of adequately guarding our borders, our government is playing politically correct games with domestic terrorism, treating right wing groups as dangerous. This is how propaganda and political pandering become public policy. One group turns their political opponents into public enemies. And this occurs under the auspices of protecting the people from threats to their safety. Currently many Americans worry the real terrorist threat is being neglected with this left wing politrick at play.

As long as the federal government offers a social safety net the issue of illegal immigrants benefiting from that safety net will be concerning to many Americans. What's worse, our borders are so under guarded and immigration laws so pitifully enforced that many of us wonder what is there, if anything, to stop Islamo-facist terrorists from continually infiltrating our country.

To summarize, my basics list for an adequate political candidate are:
* support limited government
* be anti-abortion
* be serious about protecting us from foreign invasion and/or attack

With these three requirements met I've no doubt a political candidate would steer the country back in the direction of respecting and protecting the freedom of the people. But why would a politician of this political flavor have any significant influence? Because “Conservatives” Are Single-Largest Ideological Group, according to a June 15 Gallup poll. So how do we turn the reality of this poll into reality in government? One theory has already been achieved, which occurred at the polls in the most recent two elections: getting rid of lukewarm Republicans. This frees up room for genuinely conservative candidates.

I have another idea that I think will help. The stated goal of this idea is not itself the mission. The process of accomplishing the goal is the mission. Who but genuinely conservative politicians would commit to my three requirements? With the details of many issues come varying opinions and disagreement. I'm confident my short list of general qualifications will meet little objection from main stream conservatives. If I'm right, political candidates proudly professing these sentiments will have a much better chance of winning elections than their opponents. And if my idea is actually accomplished we will restore a vital element of what was so brilliant in the founding of our nation.

But one lesson politicians seem incapable of learning is that rhetoric doesn't win hearts or minds for the long term. It may sway people for a short while, but eventually empty promises turn people off entirely. That friend I mention earlier also holds this opinion:

It would take quite a bit for the GOP to win my trust again. Much more than campaign promises or verbally taking a certain position on certain issues. Talk is cheap in politics. It will take political action, not words, for me to support a GOP candidate again.

My idea is for exactly such action. Click the link below to read about it. All the political promises in the world are worthless if you can't stop the nation's foundation from being eroded.

The 17th Amendment and the Balance of Federal Power

Thursday, July 16, 2009

The 17th Amendment and the Balance of Federal Power

From my grassroots perspective I see a great deal of frustration among conservative voters. Some have given up on the political process by ignoring current events, and some outright refuse to vote any more. In trying to figure out what has exasperated so many grassroots conservatives I believe I have found a common theme. The greatest frustration seems to be so many Republicans appear to be no different from Democrats. True or not, this seems to be the perception.

For many conservatives the idea that Republicans elected to office (federal or state levels) tout their ability to slow the progress of a left wing agenda seems like a shallow victory, at best. Then there are calls for the Republican Party to abandon its conservative origins and embrace a more moderate attitude, which is precisely the approach Senator John McCain employed to lose the 2008 presidential election.

And now with the sprint toward Marxism that has caught the nation there are concerns over where federal power will end, if ever. One question I have is, if federal power continues to usurp individual and states rights, does it matter anymore if Republicans win governorships or seats in Congress?

In any case, the battle to take back our country is, of course, multi-faceted. I have a proposal on the matter.

If the goal is to stop and even reverse the left leaning trend in our nation there should be certain mile markers to that endeavor. One such marker is explained below in an idea I've been considering for some time. While most of the ideas I've heard of late for a conservative agenda have been designed for more immediate and specific issues, this proposal is of a broader and more general nature. If this idea would ever become a reality I'm sure it would help a great deal in reclaiming America from the Marxian push and restore constitutional limitations that protect individual liberty.

But first, a political party must be devoted to this endeavor. And to form (or retake) that party, it must have the trust of the voters. My idea for regaining that trust is as follows.


The 17th Amendment and the Balance of Federal Power

One of the many brilliant aspects of the American experiment is the fact that our founding fathers had the foresight to provide for the balance of powers. I believe the men who invented the United States of America set up this vital element of successful federalism into three dimensions, one of which is entirely neglected in our contemporary American society.

The first dimension of this separation of powers was the fact that individual liberty stems from God, not from government. The understanding that government does not create individual rights, but is instead to secure them, was the first line of defense against encroaching government power - an innate human respect for the nature of liberty.

A second dimension of balancing government power was settled in a triune system, dividing government power into three separate branches: executive, legislative and judicial. However, this mechanism applies only to the employment of federal power. The states indeed were left to construct their own separate governments and these were typically modeled on the federal example, but a major concern of our founders was that the power of the states could eventually be absorbed into a monolithic federal bureaucracy.

The third dimension of separating the power of government, which I believe is entirely neglected today, is of a more elemental nature. With the ultimate recognition of God’s sovereignty on the one hand, and the practical concerns of implementing government power on the other we have essentially abandoned the element of government which compliments these two concerns: an intermediary dimension.

What I call the intermediary dimension is simply the fact that federal power is not merely balanced against itself, but also against the other two primary aspects of a federal construct – namely, the people and the states. The people have representation in the government via the Congress, particularly in the House of Representatives. Originally the states also had representation at the federal level of government in the Senate, helping to balance the tension between the popular sentiment of the people and the long reach of federal power. Unfortunately because of the 17th Amendment to our Constitution, the Senate is now elected much like the House of Representatives, being another venue for the people’s passions. What this effectively has done is eliminate states’ representation in our federal government.

The balance between the people, the states, and the federal government was possibly the most subtle aspect of the delicate separation of powers set up by our founders. But because this dynamic was eliminated with the ratification of the 17th Amendment in 1913 a vital counter weight was lost in the balance of government power, the counter weight between the passions of the people and the heavy hand of the national government. Since 1913 the power of the federal government has grown steadily, while the power of the states to govern their own affairs has dwindled, not to mention the right of the people to live their own lives free of federal meddling. And all this was done largely with the approval of the people.

I believe the repeal of the 17th Amendment is necessary for states to take back the authority usurped by the federal government. Also, without this essential dynamic of balance I fear encroachment on personal liberty by federal bureaucracy will continue unless balance is restored in the Congress of the United States by giving back the right of federal representation to the states.

It would greatly please conservatives to see a major political party undertake this effort. Seeing elected officials fight to stave off the encroachment of their rights would inspire many of us and spark a sense of optimism for the many who have given up on their civic duty. Personally, without restoring adequate balance in Congress by reinstating states' representation, I fear most other efforts to stop the push toward Marxism will prove to be fruitless. As long as the passions of leftists and those obsessed with fairness rule our legislative process I don't see much point in fighting the other battles. Only with the states able to protect their own sovereignty (limited though it may be) can the Marxist push be balanced.

I do not mean to suggest common sense would rule, though that would be a pleasant surprise. I only expect the powerful interests of the states to balance the trend of a left leaning populace sacrificing their own rights for the empty promises of a federal hand out.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

America the Christian Nation

David Barton gives a fabulous talk on the Christian origins of the United States. This is a fourth of July message all Americans need to see. This playlist includes 5 videos totaling approximately 1 hour of viewing.

Thanks to OmniChristianVids2 for posting this video.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Abortion Semantics

Since the recent murder of abortionist George Tiller there has been a lot of buzz on the internet about supposed inconsistency among the "pro-life" movement. I put "pro-life" in quotes since most of this buzz is centered on the term Pro-Life.

I'd like to give the benefit of the doubt to the rabid abortion advocates but I'm at a sort of impasse. Do I presume they do not know how language works, especially in the context of a politically charged issue? Or do I presume they are willfully ignorant, and possibly just not intellectually honest?

The contention seems to be over the fact that "pro-life" is not an entirely accurate term. But there is almost no criticism of the term "pro-choice" which is equally inaccurate. Neither of these terms are absolute, and they're not meant to be. They are monikers, political labels.

Abortion supporters tend to argue that to be truly "pro-life" one should be anti-war and anti-capital punishment. If the term were meant to be absolute this assessment would be legitimate. However, it is equally legitimate to argue that to be truly "pro-choice" one must support school vouchers and be an anarchist.

What is the meaning of "pro-choice"? If the term is absolute it should mean favoring one's right to make one's own decisions, in ANY AND ALL CIRCUMSTANCES. That is the standard to which pro-abortion radicals are holding the term "pro-life". Laws and regulations, by their very nature, limit people's freedom to make their own choices. So if it is hypocritical for a pro-lifer to acknowledge war is sometimes necessary then it is equally hypocritical of a pro-choicer to support the existence government. If it is inconsistent for a pro-lifer to support capital punishment it is equally inconsistent of a pro-choicer to oppose school choice. After all, it is strange to support a woman's right to choose to kill her unborn child, but to oppose letting that same woman choose which school to send that child should she choose to let it live.

Instead of acknowledging both of these political terms are labels, intended to be used only on the context of the abortion issue, so many extremist abortion supporters take offense at only the term "pro-life". Their selective hostile attention to that label and the refusal to recognize the reality of how both terms are used is intellectually dishonest, at best.

Claiming to be "pro-abortion" doesn't sound as good as claiming to be "pro-choice". This is a marketing tactic, which is manipulative, but apparently has been ingrained in the abortion lexicon. The anti-abortion reaction to this marketing ploy was to use the same trick, hence the term "pro-life" was coined. But the pro-abortion horde won't allow their opponents to employ their same tricks. That's why we frequently see the term "anti-choice" used by the pro-abortion mob. Can you imagine if the pro-life movement started using the term "baby killers" as synonymous with "pro-choice"? That semantics trick would generate phenomenal outrage among abortion supporters. And so the term "anti-choice" should do the same for abortion opponents.

If the baby killer movement can use semantic games with no scrutiny of its own rhetoric it should allow everyone else the same courtesy.

The book Notice A Pattern? explains the problem of abortion without using cheap rhetoric, as is ostensibly one of the favorite tools of the pro-abortion movement. This book is an essay addressing the reality of the situation, in historical context and with recommendations as to what can be done about it. No where in the pro-life movement do we find advocates of violence or murder. There are isolated cases, such as with Dr. Tiller's murder, that we find someone outside the mainstream of the pro-life movement who acts alone in committing crimes. But then, we don't see much effort among abortion supports to distinguish between these isolated cases and the pro-life movement. It's not as if we were trying to distinguish between Islam and a bunch of radicals who hijacked that religion.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

The Political Pendulum

"We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion. Avarice, ambition, revenge, or gallantry, would break the strongest cords of our Constitution as a whale goes through a net. Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other."

— John Adams, October 11, 1798

There is a popular myth that extremism is the opposite of moderation. Moderation is not that simplistic, and neither is extremism. In reality, the opposite of extremism is the polar opposite extremist position. A moderate view is often an amalgam of parts of other views and is often just as fixed and uncompromising. Also, in many other instances a moderate view is something quite different, a pliable position, being swayed by any change in the wind. But that is only one reason moderation is not as simplistic as "the opposite of extremism."

Let us briefly review the brilliance that makes the American government what it is.

(thanks to notdemocracy for posting the video online)

Positions on moral, religious, political, economic, philosophical and any other type of issue can vary so widely it becomes necessary to use grand labels. Labels such as "conservative" and "liberal" and "extremist" help us fit a differing view into our lineup, often separating people along ideological lines in our minds. The fact that we often misguide ourselves and make unreasonable assumptions using such labels is inconvenient enough to ignore. We put such emotional investment into strongly held beliefs it becomes almost an autonomic response to pigeon-hole people who disagree with us. Even inventing alternate monikers (such as "progressive" or "centrist") smells of propaganda rather than an attempt to honestly distinguish between certain patterns of thinking so we can pretend to be more open minded than we really are.

Despite the enormous diversity and complexity of thought on such issues there do, in fact, appear to be some patterns. It is not intellectually honest to reflexively use the term "extremist" (or "fundamentalist") just because someone may be "conservative" but it could be perfectly fair to use the label "conservative". After all, there are certain ideals which most, if not all, conservatives share. These ideals typically begin with broad concepts such as individual liberty, which requires minimal government. These general ideas necessarily produce logical implications, such as a desire for low taxation, minimal government regulation, self-sufficiency rather than government reliance, private aid rather than public assistance, etc.

One result of the conservative precept of individual liberty is a powerful insistence on observing consequences. The conservative mindset is fixated with freedom to make one's own decisions, and this attitude requires any attempt to help people must pass the test of end results. If ideas or intentions do not achieve the purported results the conservative is very likely to discard the methods used to implement those ideas or intentions. Public assistance is one example: welfare programs do not encourage self-sufficiency or individual freedom, but instead typically result in trapping people in poverty. This result leads the conservative to conclude welfare is a bad idea despite its compassionate intentions. Trapping people in poverty is not the kind of help they need. This result doesn't help the people it is supposed to, but it robs them of the freedom to live their own lives.

The general reaction to this right-wing position on welfare is remarkably one sided. Regardless of the moniker one chooses (liberal, progressive, centrist, etc.) the criticisms of the conservative objection to welfare are almost a monolithic accusation of greed and selfishness, a lack of compassion. This odd phenomenon is not an isolated case. In fact, this near uniform reaction to conservative ideas occurs on almost every controversial issue. When one steps back from the details for a moment to observe the larger picture even larger patterns emerge. Despite the immense diversity of thought and agenda and effort there seem to be, astonishingly, only two main spheres of influence in American public life.

These two forces each pull in their own direction, which seem to be diametrically opposed to each other. One force, the conservative or the right wing, pulls toward individual liberty, the freedom to makes one's own decisions. The other, the left wing, pulls toward government control - which invariably diminishes individual liberty. America's founders understood this phenomenon.

The concept of a Social Contract is fundamental to the success of the American experiment. The men who invented the United States knew civilization could not survive by anarchy, neither by an all powerful government. They understood government to be a necessary evil to check human nature. The challenge was to find an appropriate balance between the two extremes. This challenge is probably best described by James Madison in The Federalist No. 51:

[T]he great security against a gradual concentration of the several powers in the same department, consists in giving to those who administer each department the necessary constitutional means and personal motives to resist encroachments of the others. The provision for defence must in this, as in all other cases, be made commensurate to the danger of attack. Ambition must be made to counteract ambition. The interest of the man must be connected with the constitutional rights of the place. It may be a reflection on human nature, that such devices should be necessary to control the abuses of government. But what is government itself, but the greatest of all reflections on human nature? If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary. In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself. A dependence on the people is, no doubt, the primary control on the government; but experience has taught mankind the necessity of auxiliary precautions.

America's founders knew that to give control to government was to take freedom from the people, and vice versa. In modern conservatism, as defined by President Ronald Reagan, the ideal balance is with minimal government protecting the natural rights of the individual. These rights center on the freedom to make one's own decisions. In Reagan's view the ideal balance between freedom and the state was where this pendulum swings in favor of individual liberty, while still maintaining minimal government involvement in the lives of its citizens.

This conservative understanding of the Social Contract, as shared by our founding fathers, was that to give government more power was to increase government oppression of the people. Rush Limbaugh correctly describes this political pendulum as (paraphrasing) anything that is not conservative is, by default, liberal. Political momentum is in perpetual motion, with both major forces constantly striving for dominance. Hence, the political pendulum is always swinging one way or the other.

There are many signs available today indicating this political pendulum is swinging quickly to the left. These signs are not limited to the political arena; they affect all aspects of citizen life. And that should be expected when the most fundamental requirement for the success of the American Constitution is eroding: the moral and religious constraints of the people. Ironically, when morality is customizable and based on the fickle whims of individuals moral anarchy results. This does not mean an oppressive application of religion or law is the solution. But it should be acknowledged that the abandonment of religion and morality leads civilization ever closer to self destruction. Unfortunately an oppressive nanny-state application of law is exactly what our nation is embracing now. This may be the inevitable result of abandoning traditional western moral values.

Walter E. Williams has a good column on the cultural impact of such political battles titled Law vs. Moral Values. It's short but poignant. Have a read.