Saturday, May 31, 2008


A few questions that are bouncing about in my overactive brain housing group. Maybe y'all can help me out. IF nothing else it'll make for an interesting day of cogitation. Please click the link just below to read on...

On the 16th of May...
SAN FRANCISCO -- -- The California Supreme Court struck down the state's ban on same-sex marriage Thursday in a broadly worded decision that would invalidate virtually any law that discriminates on the basis of sexual orientation.

The 4-3 ruling declared that the state Constitution protects a fundamental "right to marry" that extends equally to same-sex couples. It tossed a highly emotional issue into the election year while opening the way for tens of thousands of gay people to wed in California, starting as early as mid-June. -- Source

And with that the nation began to debate the issue again. And so, the conundrum for this issue is: If, as the California Supreme court asserts, Gay Marriage is a fundamental right: How can Polygamy be any different? After all both states of marriage are addressed in the same portion of the Constitution.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Basic Civics: The Legislature

Today folks we are going to get back to basic civics. Some of this stuff you won't find in any book. It is what we call "the truth". The truth will not set you free, but it will help you understand the great unwashed power mongers in DC.

Today we look at the three distinct branches of our federal government. Each is unique and actually designed to not compliment each other. It is the only government inefficiency that makes sense. Are you ready? In that case, read on...

The first of the three branches government is the Legislative Branch. Also known as Congress, there are two houses. The first house is the Senate. There are two Senators per state. The second is the House of Representatives. They are apportioned among the states based on population.

Congress is tasked with making all Federal Law within the USA. In fact, according to Article 1 of the Constitution, they are the only body that can write legislation.

Additionally, the specific abilities and limitations of Congress are listed in Article 1, Sections 8 & 9. This is important because it forms a basis of that balancing act known as Checks and Balances.

The simplest explanation is that creating law, the Congress is supposed to be the most forward looking of the branches of government. Any law is forever unless an expiration (sunset provision) is written into it. They, Congress, must consider the effect of that law on society in future decades.

Congress also has the role (specific to the Senate) of confirming key appointments of the President. This has the effect of ensuring that the White House cannot create a dictatorship by appointing in effect "the kings men".

For an example of how the Congress makes law that has a long term effect, all you have to do is look at one that is in progress.

The bottom line when considering a vote for a member of congress is "Are you prepared to have this person making laws for the rest of your life?"

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Memorial Day: Again

Every year we celebrate Memorial Day as the unofficial beginning of summer. Believe it or not it makes me happy that people can do that. That is because Memorial Day will forever mean lost friends and comrades. So, the dual meaning is actually good. It allows one to celebrate life and freedom while remembering those who bought it for us.

Like a mesmerized sailor approaching the sirens, once in a while I cannot help but peruse the names of the dead. I look at them and hope that I cannot find someone that I can confirm was a friend, colleague, former subordinate, or former superior of mine. There are so many names that match with Marines I know/knew that sometimes I have to look them up elsewhere to confirm that it is or was the same person.

Yet, I am comforted that at least one person this year has not forgotten them. My son-in-law is there now, my daughter is ready to go. I've done my part, but somehow feel I should have done more. I'm sure that if I consult a shrink, he will be able to help me so long as I help pay for his Lexus.

Enjoy your weekend, make Memorial Day a time to remember the good times and to continuously honor those who made it possible. Thanks.

Semper Fi,

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Basic Civics: Founding Documents and History

The role of our historical documents as they relate to the founding of this great nation is an interesting study all on its' own. In fact, constitutional scholars and the judiciary reference the following on such a regular basis that knowing them is a must for a layman.

  • Federalist & Anti-Federalist Papers:
    The Federalist Papers were written and published during the years 1787 and 1788 in several New York State newspapers to persuade New York voters to ratify the proposed constitution. -- Source

    In contrast to Hamilton, Madison and Jay who supported ratification of the Constitution of the United States, many others did not. While the former's works were more logically organized (and eventually won the debate), the Antifederalist writers were nonetheless articulate. Serious questions were raised which eventually led to some of the Federalist writings that served as answers to allegations of the Antifederalists.No serious student of the Constitution can be without both sides of the story. Some Antifederalist prophecies have strangely come true. Writings by "Brutus" and "A Federal Farmer," particularly relating to the "necessary and proper" clause (Article I, Section 8, Clause 18), view the future under an unrestrained Congress. Although the "necessary and proper" clause was never meant to be a blanket grant of power, over the years, as the intentions of the Founding Fathers have passed further and further from our memories, all three branches of the federal government have assumed things that simply do not--and never did--exist. As the states have forgotten how to be a check against a Congress run amok, things are getting worse. -- Source

There are a couple of take-aways from this.

The papers (essays) were a debate. While some scholars assign holy-writ status to them, that isn't correct. Every law in the land is debated. Look at the speed limit sign. It clearly says: 55 mph. Yet, that speed limit was both supported and opposed. The arguments never made it into the final written law. Instead, the law was written with the arguments in mind or dismissed. Thus, you cannot speed and then tell the judge that "State Senator so-and-so" opposed this law on certain grounds. To consider the debate would place the debate in a position superior to the law. Thus, you cannot "interpret" the law and place an emphasis on "the intention of the writer". His or her intent is clearly spelled out: "Thou shalt not go faster than 55 mph on this highway".

The understanding of the essays is critical to understanding the context of the Constitution. But you cannot logically use the debates to determine "intent" and from there assign the law to a status of unConstitutional. You must use the literal wording and word meanings from the late 1700's. As an example of this danger, consider:

  • The Danbury Letter: An infamous letter written by Thomas Jefferson to the Danbury Baptists.
    The Danbury Baptists were a religious minority in Connecticut, and they complained that in their state, the religious liberties they enjoyed were not seen as immutable rights, but as privileges granted by the legislature - as "favors granted." Jefferson's reply did not address their concerns about problems with state establishment of religion - only of establishment on the national level. The letter contains the phrase "wall of separation between church and state," which led to the short-hand for the Establishment Clause that we use today: "Separation of church and state." - Source
The take away from all this is that this letter, which expressed the views of one man only, has played a pivotal role in church/state judicial actions. Yet the letter has no lawful authority whatsoever and the contents cannot be found in the Constitution. This kind of activism is decidedly anti-Constitutional and dangerous to your liberties.

Others: There are a score of documents both historical and modern that are outstanding reading if you wish to place the Constitution in context. Some of these documents also aid in understanding the Constitution and its relevance to modern times as well. But, a caution, like the above specific examples they are not superior to the Constitution and cannot be substituted for the literal text.

Beware the Media

As we noted above, the Federalist papers et al were actually essays published in a newspaper. They were editorials. Well written to be sure. And they were convincing enough to win the debate on Federalism. But, the fact remains that they were nothing more than the mass media of the day.

Today we have papers, television, blogs, forums and other gluts of the information age. No judge would dare to base his opinion on anything derived from any of the media. Yet, as noted, the Federalist papers are virtually holy-writ.

Today's media wield an enormous amount of political power. If you cannot figure out who they want for president, then you are blind or ignorant. Strike that, you may also be simply apathetic.
Apathy is how the media plays us all for fools by not delving deep into all aspects of the candidates. Apathy is how the media gets away with not noting the fact that laws we pass are not constitutional. Apathy is how the media can report one sided issues and not pursue it any longer than it takes to fill space on television. Instead of in depth reporting of issues in an unbiased manner, we are programmed to go for the quick sound byte.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Basic Civics: Pertinent Documents

I know we all took Civics back in the 8th Grade. Well, judging from the general state of the electorate in some respects, a review is called for. This post will address the documents used as the basis of our government.

The Declaration of Independence:

On the 4th of July in the year of our Lord One Thousand Seven Hundred and Seventy-Six, Independence from the rule of the British Empire under the reign of King George was declared.
When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
With that opening, fifty-six men boldly told the world on behalf of the people of the colonies that Good King George could pound sand. Imagine today what would happen if such a concise statement were released to the world. Because, while it is a powerful story in and of itself, it really is the equal of a modern press release.

That "press release" has no legal authority in todays USA. It is a one-trick-pony. As the title boldly states, it is a DECLARATION of Independence. So, on the day it was released, it's mission was completed. The world was altered and the lives and fortunes of the signers were forever enshrined in history.

Homework: On the 4th of July, listen to channel 144 of Sirius Satellite Radio. Mike Church will be doing a documentary titled "The Road to Independence". If you can listen to the program and your heart doesn't swell with pride, you are either not an American or your blood runs so thin that you cannot be allowed to breed.

Extra Credit: Read about the Signers and see who paid dearly and who didn't for their act of "treason" against the Crown.

The Constitution of the United States of America:

The Constitution is the sole basis of all Law written in the USA. As legal documents go it is short, sweet, to the point, and often twisted out of shape. Let's get one thing straight. The document is a marvel of simplicity. There is a Preamble, Seven Articles, and Twenty-Seven Amendments. If I recall correctly it's about twenty full size pages and somewhere to the tune of 4500 words in the original.

The key point here is that the Constitution clearly tells us what the roles and responsibilities of the Federal Government are. In other words: You do not have to be a judge to actually read and understand the Constitution.

I carry mine on my old Palm Pilot. You can get a free pocket copy of the Declaration of Independence or the Constitution at the Heritage Foundation.

The Preamble is the "Mission Statement" of the Constitution.
We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.
Homework: Read the Constitution. On Monday read the Preamble and Article 1. On Tuesday read Articles 1 and 2. Then 2 and 3 and so forth. On the first reading, simply soak it in like a Superman Comic Book. On the second reading, really dig it. Get it into your mind. When you have completed the readings, then re-read it again from front to back. As you are doing this, note where each item in the preamble is discussed in the Constitution proper.

Extra Credit: Where in the Constitution do we find the authority to establish the following: The Departments of Energy, Homeland Security, Commerce, and Interior.

Extra Extra Credit: The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)is a part of what department and why is it or is it not Constitutionally authorized.

The Law:

A Law is Legislation properly passed by congress & signed by the President. All law must logically point back to the Constitution. For example, all laws relating to national defense point back to the clauses within Articles One and Two. A Federal Law concerning the humane treatment of animals could be argued to be unconstitutional since the constitution is silent on the subjet. Silence means that the power to make law on that subject is left to the states.

Currently there is a bill in Congress which would require the Congress to cite which of the enumerated powers specifically authorizes the Congress to make law on that subject.

Homework: Check out the Enumerated Powers Act. Why do you think it will or will not ever become law? Here is one persons view. Do you support that view or oppose it? Why?

For more discussion of the relationship of the Constitution to the Laws passed by Congress, read "Men in Black: How the Supreme Court Is Destroying America" by Mark Levin. You can also listen to his talk show. Fair Warning: The word Acerbic in the most current dictionary redirects to a wikipedia entry titled "Mark Levins Sense of Humor". Learn the phrase, "Get off the phone..."


The next rung down the ladder is Regulation. The process of the law is not normally written in the law. Instead, we write regulations which tell us how to apply the law. Regulations must clearly point back to a law which in turn must point back to the US Constitution. The idea is that as needs change we can simply change the regs to allow for it. Regulation allows standardization of process. It makes it easy to ensure compliance with the law.

Uh huh, and Santa Clause is a skinny Rastafarian. The above is regulations greatness if they were written by perfect men who had no need for power or ambition. What we actually get is a spaghetti pile of rules that often conflict and each has the power of law if not the title. Even worse, there is no requirement for congress to be involved, no requirement for debates, etc. In many cases, the authorizer is an appointed civil servant. Beware of Regulations.

That is enough for now. In a day or two, we will cover historical documents related to the above. But for now this will do. Everyone needs to know and understand these concepts in order to be a minimally qualified citizen who can vote without consulting Cleo the phychic.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

So Much For Greatness

This is a dismal presidential election. I absolutely cannot believe that we are going to get saddled with one of three race pandering, tree hugging, head in the sand politicians. It boggles the mind that the American People are so easily manipulated by a media that is out to actually influence the election.

The reality is that we are going to get a lousy President unless the nation comes to its' collective senses and writes in Ron Paul or someone else that has read the Constitution. We have the perpetual Obama and Clinton racism/sexism on both sides and McCain pandering to La Raza of all things. What's next, Obama visiting a klan rally while Clinton commemorates the anniversary of the founding of the Black Panthers? Or maybe all of them can denounce the idea of all male colleges during a speech at Stephens?

We will survive this, but it will take some action by the People, the congress, and whoever the new president is come next January.

First and foremost. We the People need to become educated about what goes on in the Congress. Apathy is the glue that holds incompetent pols in office. Hey, if you only vote for the name you know, then you deserve what you get. But, what you get is also what I get. It's also what my kids get. And it is what our genuine public servants get. And all of that sux.

Next, we need a Congress that is educated on the Constitution and the Principles our nation was founded upon. I think that we the people and the state legislatures need to remind the congress that the fed is supposed to be limited. A prime example is the current price of gasoline. Congress, for the last few decades has capitulated to the tree hugging population that literally cannot see the trees yada yada yada.

We cannot drill for oil. We cannot build new refineries. We cannot increase coal production. We cannot build nuclear plants. But, the Senate can try to blackmail the Saudis with cancellation of an arms deal if they don't up their production to bring relief at the pump. They can demonize the oil companies for making too much money. How do you spell hypocrite? P-O-L-I-T-I-C-I-A-N.

The President often gets a bad rap for Congress. "The Bush [fill in the blank]" is a rally cry among the democrats even though virtually all of the [fill in the blank] had to have congressional approval. Our president needs to exercise his actual legislative power of the veto.

Any legislation that is not clearly referenced in the enumerated powers must be vetoed. Borderline legislation, based on a broadly written clause must be subjected to a hellfire and brimstone debate. Overly broad interpretation is a sure path to ruin. So, the executive must be the protector of the constitution.

Next, even if constitutional, we must ask if that legislation cannot be better handled by the states or private enterprise. Is it really the business of the federal government to make a law that mandates privately owned vehicles fuel economy? I don't think so. Motor trend ratings have more to do with who buys what than congressional mandates. The president should veto anything that can be done better elsewhere.

Then, even if constitutional, and even if it is best handled at the federal level, how are we to pay for it? No new taxes. No tax increases. The president must draw a line on spending, and get the fairtax passed before allowing congress to appropriate new monies. Anything not paid for by current taxes, without raising them, and monies in the treasury must be vetoed.

But, realistically speaking, until the people decide to become reinvolved in the process, I am merely ranting in limbo. The cowards in blue suits with American flag lapel pins will continue to cave in to special interest groups and deep pockets.

A pox on all them.