Politics

Will Gun Control Stop School Shootings?

Posted on October 2, 2015. Filed under: Gun Control, Society | Tags: , |

In the wake of Thursday’s mass murder at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon, we have to start asking hard questions. Gun control advocates immediately knee jerk and say we have to pass tighter gun control laws. Pro-gun advocates immediately knee jerk and say that gun control is not the answer, neither of which address the issue of the hatred in the heart of the individual who feels compelled to kill.

In this particular instance, the individual in question was one of those males who apparently felt the need to take revenge on society, because they couldn’t get laid.

Seriously. (more…)

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The Short History of Money in Politics

Posted on October 20, 2014. Filed under: Politics | Tags: , |

I recently posted a photo of Clint Eastwood on my Facebook page that says “I believe in limited government. I believe in fiscal responsibility and all those things that maybe Republicans used to believe in, but don’t anymore”.

It’s a sentiment that I deeply believe in.

What was interesting was that a friend of mine, who is a Democrat, commented that “Republicans will get their party back when they pry it from the cold, dead hands of the Tea Party and the oligarchs”.

Ah, yes. The two favorite boogeymen of the Democrat Party.

Honestly, they sound like a broken record.

“Tea Party!”

“Koch brothers!”

The latest round of America bashing revolves around our “democracy” actually being an “oligarchy”, specifically, the GOP being an oligarchy, funded single handedly by the Koch brothers. Or is that double handedly?

Before I go any further, let’s define what an oligarchy is.

According to dictionary.com, oligarchy means:

noun, plural oligarchies.
  1. a form of government in which all power is vested in few persons or in a dominant class or clique; government by the few.
  2. a state or organization so ruled.
  3. the persons or class so ruling.

It surprises me that journalists have just realized that our form of government, our “democracy”, is in reality, an oligarchy, but not that it has been one all along. We change the clowns every now and again, but the agenda and the results stay the same. The same small group of people stay in charge.

If the American system were based on “democracy”, then we, the American people, would have a say in every single decision the government makes; but we don’t.

We elect representatives and give them the power to make laws to send to the president for approval.

Is that not an oligarchy by definition?

Honestly, I think my friend meant plutocrats, but oligarch has such a, well, Republican ring to it!

Plutocrat: A member of a plutocracy.

noun, plural plutocracies.
  1. the rule or power of wealth or of the wealthy.
  2. a government or state in which the wealthy class rules.
  3. a class or group ruling, or exercising power or influence,by virtue of its wealth.

One of the disparaging claims made against Mitt Romney was that he was a plutocrat, with a net worth a paltry sum of $250 million dollars.

Compare this to “philanthropist” Bill Gates who is worth a mere $82 billion.

Or how about major Democrat donor Tom Steyer?

$1.62 billion.

The Koch brothers? $40 billion combined. That’s about $20 billion each.

Democrat Warren Buffet? $44 billion

Populist Democrat Elizabeth Warren: $14.5 million (2011)

President Barack Obama: $12.2 million. (As an aside, this figure came from celebritynetworth.com, which describes Obama as a “POLITICIAN, LAWYER, WRITER, AUTHOR, LAW PROFESSOR, ACTOR” . That last one certainly explains a lot.)

Secretary of State John Kerry: $750 million.

Average net worth of the House of Representatives: $1 million (7 out of the 10 richest representatives are Democrats)

Average net worth of the US Senate: $13 million.

Finally, George Soros: $23 billion.

This nation has a long history of not just oligarchs, but plutocrats as well, only they were called aristocrats back in the day.

Let’s jump back to the Founding Fathers.

The men who founded this nation were landowners, and some were slaveholders. Two such examples:

George Washington was worth $525 million (about $13 billion by today’s standards).

James Madison: $101 million ($2.5 billion).

Thomas Jefferson (3rd President): $212 million ($5.3 billion).

According to Forbes Magazine, John Hancock was worth $19.3 billion, and Benjamin Franklin was worth $10.3 billion (today’s dollars).

Are you starting to sense a pattern?

John Adams: $19 million ($475 million)

James Monroe: $27 million.

In order to vote in the late 1700’s, one had to be a white, male landowner at least 21. This did not begin to change until around 1828, when the states began to change their voting laws.

Andrew Jackson: $119 million

Andrew Jackson (the 5th president) was among the first to start taking donations for his political campaign. He was also one of the first to organize a staff to facilitate the collection of donations, and to get his message out to the people.

Abraham Lincoln largely financed his own campaign, but he did take donations. Even with these donations, the campaign nearly bankrupted him.

Campaign donations began to grow and become more commonplace after the American Civil War. wealthy donors realized that they could get politicians to owe them favors (if they were elected) if the candidate were elected. Having a politician in office who owed you favors would definitely grease the skids for any projects the donor may have coming up.

However, the first campaign finance law also appeared after the Civil War: The Navy Appropriations bill of 1867 prohibited government workers from soliciting donations from Navy dock workers.

At the turn of the 20th Century, corporations began to make donations as well.

But here is where very staunch Republicans tend to get upset and say that people like me are trying to rewrite history.

The Progressive Movement of the 20th Century came about because of concerns that there was too much money in politics, that lawmakers were beholden to the rich and the corporations. And the Progressives were largely Republicans. The abolition of slavery was a Progressive cause (but they did not call themselves Progressives). Abraham Lincoln, much to the chagrin and denials of Republicans, was a Progressive.

In 1905, Republican Teddy Roosevelt, a Republican Progressive, proposed a law that would outlaw all corporate contributions.  This was, of course, met with stiff resistance from Congress, and never passed.

There have been various attempts to curtail campaign financing, the most recent being the McCain-Feingold Act of 2002. However, any law passed by Congress always has unintended consequences. McCain-Feingold has effectively cut the legs out from under the two major parties, but it has hamstrung the smaller parties. Was that the intention?

Funding has been diverted from the parties, who had to disclose this information, to outside SuperPACs, who don’t have to disclose anything. Transparency? McCain-Feingold has made that a thing of the past.

Now the rich and super-rich can do their thing without the spotlight on them.

Because we have amended the Constitution to move from Senators assigned by the State legislatures to direct election by the people, members of the Senate are now in the hooks of the wealthy, depending on them for campaign funds. I think worries about corruption, which was supposedly the driving force behind the XVIIth Amendment, is less of an issue than the wealthy owning the Senate.

Is there anything that can be done? Not without resistance from the wealthy.

Both parties owe their souls to the rich. Both try to hide it, but the Democrats are far more successful at it than the Republicans. The Dems are very skilled at the shell game, convincing people how the Republicans are owned by the wealthy while being able to obfuscate their own culpability.

No law will ever be able to stop the wealthy or corporations from attempting to buy politicians. If you outlaw SuperPACs, then you are assaulting free speech. Even though the likes of Elizabeth Warren say that corporations are not people, corporations are, in fact, comprised of people trying to make money. They have a life cycle, just like humans, and they will still find a way to contribute money to politicians who they believe can help further their businesses..

One has to ask which is worse, corporate contributions that are disclosed by the political parties, or contributions that are hidden away from the prying eyes of the public.

Before I close this out, let’s take a look at a few more presidents.

Very few presidents had a net worth of less than a million:

  1. James Buchanan
  2. Abraham Lincoln
  3. Andrew Johnson
  4. Ulysses S. Grant
  5. James A. Garfield
  6. Chester A. Arthur
  7. Woodrow Wilson
  8. Calvin Coolidge
  9. Harry S. Truman

Almost one quarter of US Grant’s funding came from a single donor.

John F. Kennedy was the first billionaire president.

Every president, other than the 9 listed, were worth $1 million or more.

Politics is a game for the wealthy. A Game of Thrones if you will.

Your children can grow up to become President of the United States.

As long as they belong to a family of means.

 

 

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Two Party Tyranny

Posted on May 16, 2014. Filed under: Politics | Tags: |

It is midterm election time. For those not paying attention, it is primary time. Time for the two party system to do its worst, and select two candidates for us to choose from, one being an incumbent.

Now that I have gone back to work, I have the luxury of listening to local talk radio host Lars Larson. Sometimes he is hysterical in his beliefs, but he is fairly knowledgeable.

Since it is primary season here in Oregon, the major race is to see who the candidate to go up against incumbent US Senator Jeff Merkley is heating up. Currently, there are at least five candidates running for that slot. One of them called into Lars’ show this afternoon and lamented that he and two others were not invited to the debate. Lars’ attitude was that the bottom three candidates were only going to garner about 5% of the vote between them, so why should they be invited?

What it shows is that if you don’t have a lot of money in your war chest to advertise yourself, you get written off by the Establishment. The funny thing is that Lars kind of considers himself a Tea Party guy. The political parties have become an entrenched, invitation only, exclusive club. If you are on the outside, you aren’t invited to their party.

The Republicrats have gone to great pains to ensure their power, and anyone seeking to break that monopoly of power is shunned.

About 32% of the country are registered Republicans, while about 34% are registered Democrats, from the last numbers I’ve seen. That means that a full third of voters in this country are not adequately represented in the government. And the two parties like it that way.

The two parties control everything from election laws to campaign finance. Ever wonder why campaign finance laws never stick or term limits never gets off the ground?

I mean, it has been suggested that the 22nd amendment, presidential term limits, be repealed so that a president could do like FDR and run until they die. Currently, that’s how it works for more than a few in Congress.

The commission that runs the presidential debates has locked everyone else out of the process. They decide who is invited, the location of the debate, the format, the questions and the moderators. Socialists, communists and libertarians need not apply. They can go hang out in the designated “First Amendment Zone” if they want to be heard, far away so no one else can hear them, either.

These people have a right to be heard, regardless of if they will garner a small percentage of the vote or not. It would give them exposure, and that is exactly what the two party’s fear. A different voice exposing their hypocrisy. I may not agree with what they have to say, but they are being suppressed by the Washington Establishment Elite. The unsuccessful Senate run this year could translate into a successful State Senate run the next time, and the beginnings of a movement as this person may build a following, if they do the right thing.

Of course, there are also those who say that if there were more than two parties, Congress would break down into sectionalism as parties form in different regions. What would be wrong with representatives from different parts of the country forming political parties that looked out for the interests of the region in which they live? God forbid that representatives from Oregon would look out for the interests of (*gasp*) Oregon!

So, we should fear more than three parties because it might break down into sectionalism? So, how did the two party system fare in the run up to the American Civil War? How much sectionalism existed then?

The US Constitution can only attempt to guide and protect us from the government, but in the end, it is still only a piece of paper. The Constitution, however, cannot protect us from the political parties.

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We, the People and Domestic Terrorism

Posted on April 28, 2014. Filed under: Government, Politics |

In the aftermath of the Cliven Bundy standoff, the rhetoric has really been ratcheted up. It’s amazing to me what the left believes about people like me, people who believe in a limited government. The left actually believes its own rhetoric about the right, while the right simply thinks people on the left are crazy. Of course, the people on the left believe that of the right, so I guess that really puts both sides in the same camp.

A couple of people have suggested to me that I should become a polemicist, but I have no desire to become a Rush Limbaugh or a Michael Moore. Maybe that’s why I will just languish in obscurity on the internet, because I believe in calling things like I see them, not fueling anger and resentment that is now ever present in our politics.

Enter Harry Reid.

Harry Reid should have been an advocate for Cliven Bundy. After all, the way the system currently works, Reid is supposed to be a representative of Bundy. Instead, Reid decided to show his mean spirited, ugly side, something he has done repeatedly over his last term of office.

Reid has shown himself willing to attack people; Mitt Romney, the Koch brothers, and now Bundy and his supporters.

As I did more research into the Bundy situation, I eventually came down against Bundy, before his ill-fated remarks about blacks and slavery, and before I discovered that he and his family made up the story about how his ancestors settled the land in the 1880’s. His father bought the land in 1946.

But then Reid and his cronies, and eventually the left, labeled Bundy and his supporters domestic terrorists. That’s where I have to draw the line.

Terrorists. Really?

I ask the following questions about Bundy’s supporters:

  • How many people did they kill?
  • How many people did they taze?
  • How many did they throw to the ground and rough up?
  • How many hostages did they take?
  • How much property damage did they cause?
  • How many buildings did the blow up?
  • How many airplanes/buses/trains hijacked and blown up?

Since when did the BLM become a law enforcement agency? When they deploy snipers and helicopters with the intention of intimidating the people on the ranch, does that not, in fact, make them the terrorists? Bundy’s supporters are considered to be the terrorists instead, because they chose to defend the man and refused to stay in their government mandated “free speech zone” set up for them by the government.

But the left truly believes that the people were the terrorists, while they stay silent on groups like the Earth Liberation Front and the Animal Liberation Front who are constantly causing damage to private property.

I put a photo up on my facebook page that said at the very top “We are not against government”, but yet those on the left don’t process that. They believe, instead, that we are anarchists, that we want no government whatsoever.

That is so far from the truth.

Those of us on the right have been painted as anti-everything; anti-choice, anti-immigrant, anti-government, racists, etc.

And now domestic terrorists.

When you have government officials who are bound and determined that they are going to crack down on individual citizens by any means necessary, you have the basis for tyranny.

Think that’s just an idea that I harbor? Check out the Declaration of Independence:

He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass [sic] our people, and eat out their substance.

The Revolution started because the American colonies did not to pay for a larger share of their own defense. That’s why taxes started going up. We are in the same situation now. We pay taxes, but what do we get for them? A gigantic national deficit and National debt.

It is far past time for the Federal government to divest itself of the lands it owns in the west. It is well past time for the government to stop harassing individual citizens, and to live within its means, instead of brokering land deals with the Chinese for personal gain.

But, we who believe in that, who believe in what this country used to be, we’re the terrorists.

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Obamacare and Me

Posted on April 24, 2014. Filed under: Government, Obamacare | Tags: , |

I had the luxury this last weekend of an extended stay at a luxury hotel, where I didn’t have to get up to use the bathroom, I didn’t have to drink anything if I didn’t want to, I could sleep all I wanted to, and if I needed to get anywhere, I was wheeled around by the friendly staff.

The name of that hotel was the emergency room.

Last Thursday, I developed a slight toothache on the left side of my face. The aching didn’t last very long, but suddenly my upper lip began to swell up. By Friday, the pressure of my swollen lip was pushing so hard into my gums that my teeth were starting to ache. The swelling continued to grow, and I still had no idea what had happened. By Saturday, I decided to go see an emergency dentist. The dentist took a quick look and said I need the ER, so that’s where I went. After sitting around for 2 hours waiting to get a room, I was finally escorted in, given pain medication that I didn’t need (it made my head feel like it was going to explode, and I was fighting nausea for the next 24 hours). I didn’t have pain, just discomfort. They gave me a ct scan and determined I had a tooth infection. They gave me some antibiotics, and sent me on my way. All of this after a rotating circus of nurses who would come in, have their phone ring, and then would leave. The doctor himself came in and said something like two words before his phone rang, and I never saw him again.

I returned the next day, because the swelling got worse. The doctor on duty that day looked at it and said I needed a dentist.

Isn’t that nice. The dentist said I needed a doctor, and the doctor said I needed a dentist.

Finally, on Monday, I went to see an oral surgeon who the ER recommended. Out of all of them, this guy was the best. He looked at my teeth, and said that I had an infection around two of them, and that the cheapest option was to extract them, but they could possibly be saved if I spent thousands of dollars on a root canal.

So I now sit here toothless, with a lot of medical bills.

The question now becomes, would have enrolling in Obamacare made any difference for me?

Probably not. Could my teeth have been saved by having a root canal? Possibly, but the oral surgeon made it clear that it was not a guarantee.

Both sides are spinning Obamacare like crazy. The president and some Democrats are claiming Obamacare is working because 8 million people signed up, and 3 million have been shunted to Medicaid, while the other side is playing up the disastrous rollout and that 4.2 million people, by the last numbers I can find, have lost their insurance. Even some “fact check” sites are trying to spin it one way or the other.

What do these numbers really mean?

Let’s go back to the beginning. Remember 2008, when this was a hot campaign topic? Most probably don’t, but the number of uninsured Americans kept hopping all over the radar like a frog on a hot burner. It changed from 15 million all the way up to a high of 45 million, with stops at 19 mil, 25 mil, and 30 million in between. That is a deviation of 15 million either way. So, we have somewhere around 30 million people uninsured, yet only 8 million people “signed up”. That’s a success only if you set the bar so low that you clear it only by tripping. If we assume a maximum of 45 million uninsured (for argument’s sake), less than 20% of those signed up. For the sake of argument, let’s add the 4.2 million who had their policies cancelled due to Obamacare regulations, bringing the total to 49 million uninsured. That means only 16% of the uninsured signed up.

Rousing success.

Let’s break the numbers down a little further.

Eight million people “signed up”.

How many of those people actually enrolled? Actually picked a plan? How many of them actually paid their premiums?

How many of them are getting subsidized, and are paying very little to nothing? Of course, I wonder if the deductibles are subsidized.

How many “young invincibles” signed up? How many paid? How many would have signed up if they were not allowed to stay on their parent’s plan until the age of 26, assuming their parent’s plan wasn’t cancelled.

How many of that 8 million number are people who had their insurance cancelled, and signed up because they have to have insurance? I’m not talking about the mandate, I’m talking having to have the insurance.

Three million people were shunted to Medicaid. Are those numbers counted in the enrollment numbers? If so, how are they supposed to help prop up the system when they won’t be paying anything?

Besides, there is a dark side to Medicaid that most people don’t know about, like, if you are elderly and use Medicaid, the State can seize your house after you die. We had to sell my grandfather’s house more than 10 years ago when he went into an assisted living facility just so the State of Oregon couldn’t seize it.

If the ACA is such a success, why are so many Democrats whose seats are vulnerable this election cycle backing away from it?

Try as you might to justify and spin it, the American people have been against this monstrosity from the beginning.

And Washington just doesn’t care, because they are looking out for the insurance industry, not the American people.

How will the American people react when the insurance bailouts kick in?

More about my situation. We can’t afford to put me on my wife’s plan. Obamacare is also too expensive, but the deductibles are $5500 to $6500. What I ran up this last week still fails to top the deductible threshold. A root canal possibly still would not have broken that threshold. Which means I would be paying for an insurance policy that would not cover my illness this weekend. Useless and pointless.

I don’t get majorly sick very often. The last time was in the late 1990’s.

What I am trying to say is that with or without insurance, I would be in the same place, only I would have been paying premiums out my backside as well for no gain. Obamacare makes no sense for me.

The president has a vested interest in convincing us it is working. It isn’t, no matter what he says, and I think he knows it. Premiums are going up across all age brackets in most states (they are going down in a few states). Deductibles have jumped quite a bit. But 8 million people is considered a success, when we were told back in 2008 that as many as 45 million people were without insurance?

Can we set the bar any lower?

 

 

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The Assault on the Bill of Rights

Posted on April 4, 2014. Filed under: Government, Politics | Tags: |

The unity of government which constitutes you one people is also now dear to you. It is justly so, for it is a main pillar in the edifice of your real independence, the support of your tranquility at home, your peace abroad; of your safety; of your prosperity; of that very liberty which you so highly prize. But as it is easy to foresee that, from different causes and from different quarters, much pains will be taken, many artifices employed to weaken in your minds the conviction of this truth; as this is the point in your political fortress against which the batteries of internal and external enemies will be most constantly and actively (though often covertly and insidiously) directed, it is of infinite moment that you should properly estimate the immense value of your national union to your collective and individual happiness; that you should cherish a cordial, habitual, and immovable attachment to it; accustoming yourselves to think and speak of it as of the palladium of your political safety and prosperity; watching for its preservation with jealous anxiety; discountenancing whatever may suggest even a suspicion that it can in any event be abandoned; and indignantly frowning upon the first dawning of every attempt to alienate any portion of our country from the rest, or to enfeeble the sacred ties which now link together the various parts…

… All obstructions to the execution of the laws, all combinations and associations, under whatever plausible character, with the real design to direct, control, counteract, or awe the regular deliberation and action of the constituted authorities, are destructive of this fundamental principle, and of fatal tendency. They serve to organize faction, to give it an artificial and extraordinary force; to put, in the place of the delegated will of the nation the will of a party, often a small but artful and enterprising minority of the community; and, according to the alternate triumphs of different parties, to make the public administration the mirror of the ill-concerted and incongruous projects of faction, rather than the organ of consistent and wholesome plans digested by common counsels and modified by mutual interests.-George Washington

George Washington warned, back in 1796, that there would be factions intent on destroying this country, from both the inside and the outside. Today, our freedoms are under constant assault.

New York Governor, Andrew Cuomo, supporter of the unconstitutional SAFE Act, threatened to remove sheriffs from their jobs if they did not stop exercising their First Amendment rights in opposition to his law.

Assistant Professor of Philosophy, Lawrence Torcello (Rochester Institute of Technology) says “With such high stakes, an organised campaign funding misinformation ought to be considered criminally negligent.”

Criminally negligent? For disagreeing over an issue?

He cites the conviction of 6 scientists in Italy who failed to predict an earthquake back in 2009. Three hundred nine people were killed in the quake, and I think the government was desperate to blame someone.

But I think the broader point that Mr. Torcello misses is that predicting future events, such as catastrophes coming as a  result of “global warming”, is a very difficult affair. After all, the weatherman has trouble predicting the weather two days from now. So, if these doom and gloom scenarios that these “scientists” offer (remember, Mr. Torcello is a Philosophy professor), should they be held criminally negligent for inciting fear and panic?

This is what happens when one side can’t produce results in debate. They demand the opposition be silenced.

Look at Obama on Obamacare. He claims Obamacare is “settled law”. Those who are moving through the court system would disagree, but again, it is the Left’s way of saying “shut up” when they can’t debate on merit or facts.

But here is where things start getting nefarious. Our children are slowly being brainwashed into eliminating the Bill of Rights.

In the Bryant School District in Arkansas, sixth grade students were given a worksheet in which the Bill of Rights had been determined to be ‘outdated”, and the students were to decide what two amendments should be repealed, and what they should be replaced with. Mind you, they had to come up with two, and it appears that “none of them” would be an acceptable answer. Follow this link to read it for yourself: http://www.digitaljournal.com/article/359714#ixzz2gv8VWbq5

The lesson is that rights are not natural. We do not have the right to life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness, free speech or religion, self defense, unreasonable searches, et al unless the government says we do.It’s an idea that permeates every level of government, every tyrant at every level.

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio openly said he believes in the heavy hand of government.

Washington Governor, taking his cue from the President, decided to just unilaterally suspend the State’s death penalty, much like Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber.

The President himself has been altering the “settled” Obamacare law by pushing back deadlines and requirements, and handing out exemptions to his donors.

In the last three cases, the executive has done a run around Congress (or legislature), and while Congress bitches and kvetches about it, they do nothing.This is how tyranny is born.

President Obama has said he has a phone and a pen, and he will move his agenda forward.

The Founding Fathers thought that it would be the government who protected these individual rights, but it is not the nature of government to protect the individual. The government will do what it feels is best for the group, even at the expense of the individual, and whatever it needs to do to grow in power.. That’s why the Second Amendment is embattled. They feel the group, the government  needs to be protected from the individual, not the other way around.

That is why our children are being brainwashed. Groupthink.

Attack the individual. Any who disagree with us must be silenced.

 

 

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US Supreme Court Strikes Ban on Campaign Donation Limits from Wealthy

Posted on April 2, 2014. Filed under: Politics | Tags: , , |

In a 5-4 decision, the US Supreme Court declared that limiting campaign contributions from wealthy donors was unconstitutional. (http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2014/04/02/supreme-court-campaign-finance/4481675/)

The immediate conclusion that people are making is that corporations are now going to take over politics. How this is going to increase the influence of unions is generally ignored.

Let’s get one thing straightened out, right off the top. The lifting of this ban only gets rid of the limitation of how many campaigns can be contributed to. The maximum donation per candidate is still in place.

“Money in politics may at times seem repugnant to some, but so too does much of what the First Amendment vigorously protects,” the chief justice wrote. “If the First Amendment protects flag burning, funeral protests, and Nazi parades — despite the profound offense such spectacles cause — it surely protects political campaign speech despite popular opposition.”

As much as people do not like this, or the Citizen’s United decision, the Chief Justice is absolutely right. We may not like seeing Klan rallies, or Nazis marching down the street, but it is these groups that need the most protection.

Why? Because if we find some excuse to prevent them from exercising their rights, then it becomes easier to strip the rights away from the next person or group.

The primary reason that groups don’t like money in politics is because they fear it will create corruption.

You have to ask yourself, will the lack of money prevent corruption?

Time and again, politicians are investigated, and arrested for corruption. Erstwhile Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich was found guilty of trying to sell Obama’s vacated Senate seat. He was trying to make personal gain from it. Was that because of too much money in politics?

Recently, California State Senator Leland Yee was arrested for arms trafficking. Was that because of too many campaign donations from the wealthy?

It’s funny that, back in 2009, the Chicago Tribune ran a piece bragging that it is not Illinois, but Louisiana that is the most corrupt state. (http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2009-03-27/news/chi-corruption-louisiana_wittmar27_1_corruption-convictions-tax-assessor-state-pensions)

In the article, they cite several politicians/state employees arrested for corruption (remember, this is back in 2009):

  • The former president of the New Orleans City Council is serving a 3-year federal prison sentence for taking $15,000 in bribes and kickbacks for a parking garage contract.
  • The former chief executive of the state’s property insurance corporation was indicted in December on charges he stole up to $100,000 in public money.
  • The former head of the Louisiana Film Commission is awaiting sentencing after pleading guilty to accepting $60,000 in bribes.
  • A former state senator is awaiting sentencing after pleading guilty to conspiracy to commit money laundering.

People are weak. People are easily seduced by power and money. No, not everybody, but those who run for office tend to be.

Does the Supreme Court decision make it more likely that corruption will occur? That corporations will flood the system with money to get their person elected? What about the Unions?

Is it corrupt for a politician to try to push a bill backed by a corporation or a union because they donated to the campaign? You may not like it, but is it corrupt?

When cops were on the take back during Prohibition, it was because they weren’t paid enough, and they were supplementing their income by looking the other way.

Again, I ask, is it allowing these campaigns to be flush with money that creates corruption, or is it the politician’s desire to supplement their income that creates corruption? Most House representatives are paid about $174,000 per year. When they started complaining about having to pay for their staff’s healthcare, they complained that most of what they make goes to paying their staffs and running their offices.

Doesn’t it seem like that makes the ground much more fertile for corruption?

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Loose Constructionism and the United States Constitution

Posted on March 26, 2014. Filed under: Government, Politics, United States Constitution | Tags: , , |

A couple of weeks ago, Justice Antonin Scalia gave a speech about the Constitution (http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2014/03/15/justice-scalia-constitution-is-not-living-organism/) in which he claimed that the Constitution is not a living document. There are those who argue that it is, referred to as loose constructionism. We live in a day and age where the Constitution is constantly under fire, and the interpretation is based on whim, depending on the agenda.

Take Obamacare, for instance.

The whole purpose behind universal healthcare, or Obamacare, is constitutional, supporters claim. It falls under the General Welfare Clause:

The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States; but all Duties, Imposts and Excises shall be uniform throughout the United States;

The Founders did not mean the government should provide for healthcare, only they should provide for the general welfare. By general, they meant general health (making sure the food supply isn’t making people sick, etc), general happiness, and the ability to work, be educated, be as safe as we can and to live free. It is not, as some have suggested, the concern of the government for us to be moral. You want to be moral? Go to church. Leave it out of the government.

One of the key phrases in the Constitution is whether a bill is Necessary and Proper, something that is never debated today. The President has taken to issuing executive orders in place of law passed by Congress to try to move his agenda forward. The Constitution not does not give him this power, but doing this would be considered, as James Madison put it, unnecessary and improper. Does it become an impeachable offense? Probably not, and it needs to be challenged in front of the Supreme Court to put a stop to it.

For example, is Social Security necessary? Is it Proper for the Federal government to be behind this program?

Medicare? Medicaid?

If we already have these programs in place for the elderly and the poor, why do we need Obamacare? Aren’t most of the people signing up being sent to Medicaid anyway? So why do the rest of us have to purchase health insurance if we don’t want to?

The problem stems from this concept that the Constitution is a living document, a document that changes in meaning as society changes. I had a long discussion with a local radio personality about whether the Constitution was a living document or not. It was his contention that since the Constitution could be amended, that makes it a living document.

In reality, that is not what it means when someone refers to the Constitution as a living document.

Take the Second Amendment, for example.

A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.

Today, schools are trying to teach that you have the right to keep and bear arms, only if you are in a militia, only if you register them, only if you have not been in prison, and it restricts you to only certain types of weapons.

Wow. Does anyone else see all that in those words?

As I pointed out in my section on the Second Amendment (under the Meet the Constitution tab), the States feared that the Federal government would stop funding the State militias, leaving them defenseless against invaders, and the government itself, not these crazy stories about fearing slave revolts or squads of men hunting fugitive slaves. After all, New York, a State that had abolished slavery, was one of the primary forces behind this amendment. Yes, it means that people in each State can keep and bear arms for defense, self defense; defense of the community, defense of the State, and if needed, defense of the nation. That the State militias were evolved into the National Guard does not render this amendment invalid. The key words are shall not be infringed.

I’ve argued before that the Second Amendment does not limit the types of arms you may own, arguing that it includes cannon, aircraft, tanks, and explosives. Of course the government disagrees with that, but they have their own agenda. I found this interesting website that explains the Constitution to kids, and found this under the Second Amendment:

Bear arms: When the Second Amendment was written, arms meant weapons. [Editor’s Note: It still does] The word arms did not necessarily only mean guns, but it definitely included guns. The Second Amendment did not specifically explain what categories or types of arms nor did it list what weapons were considered arms. When you bear arms, this means you physically carry weapon. You may have arms in your home as well as on your person.

Shall not be infringed: The Second Amendment does not grant any right to bear arms. Furthermore, the rest of the Bill of Rights does not describe any right to do so. These rights are thought of as natural rights or God-given rights. In the Bill of Rights, the Second Amendment is just a reminder to the government that they should not try to stop people from having this right. 

What they said is true, to a point, but they stopped short. The Second Amendment does not categorize weapons, because there are no categories. A weapon is a weapon, this goes for a rifle as well as a cannon. Plus, they are incorrect about their definition. To bear does mean to carry, but it also mean to bring, to possess, to have and to use. And the Second Amendment is not a reminder to the government, it is a prohibition upon the government to keep them from taking the arms from private citizens.

This is the idea of a living document. The notion that we can change the meaning of the words by parsing commas and semicolons, or in the case cited above, by leaving out certain definitions. That we can sit here and say that the Founding Fathers only meant muskets, which is an absurd notion, considering, by that logic, the First Amendment does not apply to social media, the internet, television, radio, etc.

Is not the FCC, government controllers of the airwaves, an anti-First Amendment agency? Does it not say that there are certain things you cannot say on broadcast television, or on the radio, and fines you if such things are said?

I know people who say that the Second Amendment should be abolished, that if we take all of the weapons from law abiding citizens, then somehow, criminals and murderers will never get them. This too, is absurd and naive.

As with most things, people don’t ask “is this Necessary? Is it Proper?” They just jump on the party bandwagon and off they go.

People spend too much time parsing the words on the paper that they tend to forget that the Bill of Rights is not a be all, end all list of rights, and those rights are not subject to the whims of the government.

We tend to forget the Ninth Amendment:

The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

Just because it is not listed in the Bill of Rights does not mean that other rights do not exist.

But it isn’t just those on the left who do things like this. I have friends on the right who do this sort of thing as well.

Let’s go back to the Second Amendment.

California is putting several gun control laws into place. My friends on the right are screaming “California is violating our rights!”

Here’s the problem. The Second Amendment applies only to the Federal government, unless otherwise specified! If you look at Article I, Section 10 of the Constitution, the States are specifically forbidden from doing certain activities:

No State shall enter into any Treaty, Alliance, or Confederation; grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal; coin Money; emit Bills of Credit; make any Thing but gold and silver Coin a Tender in Payment of Debts; pass any Bill of Attainder, ex post facto Law, or Law impairing the Obligation of Contracts, or grant any Title of Nobility.

No State shall, without the Consent of the Congress, lay any Imposts or Duties on Imports or Exports, except what may be absolutely necessary for executing it’s inspection Laws: and the net Produce of all Duties and Imposts, laid by any State on Imports or Exports, shall be for the Use of the Treasury of the United States; and all such Laws shall be subject to the Revision and Controul of the Congress.

No State shall, without the Consent of Congress, lay any Duty of Tonnage, keep Troops, or Ships of War in time of Peace, enter into any Agreement or Compact with another State, or with a foreign Power, or engage in War, unless actually invaded, or in such imminent Danger as will not admit of delay.

The Bill of Rights are a set of guarantees that the Federal government shall not do certain things. In other words, the States are not required to guarantee your right to bear arms. Why not?

The Tenth Amendment:

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.

The problem extends back to the Warren Court of the 1950s and 60s, when they began to apply the whole of the Constitution to the States. This is a gross misinterpretation and misrepresentation of the United States Constitution. They took the concept of the living document to a whole new level.

While I think that what California is doing is wrong, I think the government is well within its power, until such time as California’s constitution is amended. If the United States Constitution applies to all of the States, what is the point of each State having its own Constitution?

Connecticut, on the other hand, is violating its own Constitution by even threatening citizens who don’t register their arms with confiscation and imprisonment. Connecticut does guarantee the right to keep and bear arms.

The Constitution is not a living document, to be interpreted as we see fit. There is no need to divine the Founders intentions, it is all right there in plain English.

But it is also not a document of convenience, that it somehow does not apply when it doesn’t fit our world view.

 

 

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NSA Spying on Citizens Good, CIA Spying on Government Bad

Posted on March 12, 2014. Filed under: Government, Politics | Tags: , , , |

It wasn’t too long ago that California Senator Dianne Feinstein defended the NSA’s program of spying on American citizens. Amazingly, at the time, she said that the data collection program kept the country safe while not trampling on civil liberties. (http://www.latimes.com/nation/politics/politicsnow/la-pn-feinstein-nsa-foreign-policy-20140219,0,7661713.story#axzz2vl44tgLH)

Really? It doesn’t trample on our right to privacy?

Feinstein is one of a growing number of people who believe that if the right is not listed in the Bill of Rights, it doesn’t exist, despite the fact that the Ninth Amendment says that not just because a right is not enumerated in the Constitution, it does not mean it doesn’t exist.

The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

While there is certainly a need for intelligence gathering, must it be done at the expense of our civil liberties?

There is, and always will be, a faction who wants greater security, to be protected. Back in the days of the Revolution, they took the form of the Tories, or Loyalists. They remained loyal to the King because they wanted what they felt was greater security. They felt, like most of today’s liberals feel about people who are talking of over the government today, that the patriots could never overcome Britain’s might and would fail, and ultimately be hung for treason.

But when you give in and start trading your rights and liberties for security, you open the door for tyranny. A few more of your rights are stripped away, but due to spying and invasions of your privacy, the government rounds up thousand more prisoners, not for crimes they committed, but plotting against the state, crimes they may not have committed, crimes they are suspected that they may commit. Certainly, you will be safer, but at the price of no longer being able to say what you want, or think what you want. (http://www.infowars.com/facial-recognition-glasses-to-stop-crime-before-it-happens/)

Enter the CIA.

We have been told repeatedly that the CIA’s charter does not allow them to operate on American soil, despite claims by some that they are, indeed, working within our own borders. (http://www.antipasministries.com/html/file0000062.htm)

Now a brouhaha has erupted between Feinstein and the CIA. She is claiming that the CIA has been “secretly removing documents, searching computers used by the committee and attempting to intimidate congressional investigators by requesting an FBI inquiry of their conduct…”

Well now. Isn’t that special?

What happened to the need for intelligence?

Is it ironic that Mrs. Feinstein is the head of the Intelligence Committee?

Please explain to me why it is okay for the NSA to spy on the average American citizen, but not okay for the CIA to spy on Congress.

The whole thing revolves around an apparent report that the Intelligence Committee is preparing that will expose the CIA’s uses of waterboarding and other “torture” techniques in overseas prisons.

Correct me if I’m wrong, but if the Senate has oversight of this agency, couldn’t they, shouldn’t they have put an end to those practices long ago?

Here’s what I find hysterically funny.

Feinstein, who has been a staunch supporter of other CIA programs including its drone campaign, said the agency may have violated Fourth Amendment protections against unreasonable searches, as well as laws against domestic surveillance.

So, now the government is protected by the Fourth Amendment, while we are subjected to inspection, invasive searches and groping by TSA personnel if we want to board an airplane, a gross violation of our Fourth Amendment rights, and Feinstein, one of the leading Senators in the crusade to remove our Second Amendment rights, is applying the Fourth Amendment to the Senate?

The CIA is now bringing the FBI in on it. I’m not exactly sure why, but it seems to be because Senate staffers made hard copies of some of the CIA files.

Now, a government agency, which is subservient to Congress, is now at war with Congress.

Get some popcorn. This could be fun to watch.

If it wasn’t so pathetic.

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Obama’s “Enforcement Discretion”

Posted on November 14, 2013. Filed under: Government, Obamacare | Tags: , , |

In the wake of the disastrous Obamacare rollout, and the complete exposure of the President as a fraud, the White House has announced an answer to all of the people who are having their health insurance cancelled.

He has announced that he is going to give insurers the “option” of cancelling those plans or not. He is doing so by allowing state health insurance commissioners to decide for themselves if they allow these plans to continue. In other words, each state may be different. The added caveat is that this extension will only be good for one year. Then we are right back where we are right now.

That’s not  a solution.

Since people will have to pay more while receiving less coverage (or coverage they don’t want), how much you want to bet that most of these plans still get cancelled, even if the states let them continue?

It isn’t as simple as that, however.

Along with this decree comes the question on whether or not the President has the authority to change a law by fiat. He has already been granting exemptions and amnesty to big corporate donors and many of the unions out there. The White House is claiming that they have the authority to do so, because it is up to them to enforce it, suggesting that if they choose not to, they don’t have to.

Article II, section 3 of the Constitution disagrees with the idea of “enforcement discretion”:

…he shall take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed…

This president has used executive orders like he has the ability to make law with them. He has, in essence, created his own amnesty program through the use of Executive Orders.

Executive orders are orders to different departments within his administration. They are not for writing law. If the president were to write an executive order saying that all men over the age of 40 must wear tu-tu’s on every third Thursday of the month or face a fine, it would not be enforcable, because it is not a law.

The Affordable Care Act specifically sets out the rules, and Obama, nor his administration can change them without referring it back to Congress.

It is Congress that creates the legislation. They argue over it and vote on it, and if it passes, it is sent to the president. The president can either sign it or veto it. Nothing in the Constitution says he can change it. He can, however, send a message to Congress and say “this is what I would like to see in it.”

Even hardcore leftist Democrat Howard Dean has asked aloud if Obama has the authority to do this.

What does this action actually solve? Nothing.Look carefully at the wording. The insurance companies have the option of renewing those plans. Not the people who are having them cancelled.

Any bets how this works out?

The utter incompetence of this administration is more shocking every day.

 

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