Citizenship, Economy, Free Society

We fought a war for these freedoms

© 2014 Earl L. Haehl: Permission is given to use this article in whole as long as credit is given. Book rights are reserved.

In 1743, Sam Adams and James Otis, Jr, were admitted to the degree of Master of Arts with Honours by Harvard College. These two gentlemen were both allies and rivals over the next few years and the intellectual fathers of the American Revolution in Massachusetts Bay colony.

James Otis, Jr, was appointed advocate general of the vice admiralty court in Boston where he was an advocate enforcing the onerous Acts of Trade of 1751. As the residents of Massachusetts Bay sought extra-legal relief (Messrs John Hancock and Sam Adams being involved in such activity) Parliament came up with the use of “General Warrants” which allowed the Kings officers to search what they chose, when they chose and where they chose without specifics.

In 1761, partly because Gov Bernard appointed Thomas Hutchinson rather than James Otis, Sr, as Chief Justice, the younger Otis resigned his position as advocate general and took up the cause of the merchants of Massachusetts Bay. He did this pro bono or without fee.

His five hour argument in February of 1761, included the following:

A man’s house is his castle; and whilst he is quiet, he is as well guarded as a prince in his castle. This writ, if it should be declared legal, would totally annihilate this privilege. Custom-house officers may enter our houses when they please; we are commanded to permit their entry. Their menial servants may enter, may break locks, bars, and everything in their way; and whether they break through malice or revenge, no man, no court may inquire.

Does this sound familiar? Does the justification of NSA surveillance by such “defenders of our freedom” as Rep Peter King (R-NY) ring familiar?

James Otis, Jr, had begun his argument with the following.

I was desired by one of the court to look into the (law) books, and consider the question now before them concerning Writs of Assistance. I have accordingly considered it, and now appear not only in obedience to your order, but likewise in behalf of the inhabitants of this town, who have presented another petition, and out of regard to the liberties of the subject. And I take this opportunity to declare that whether under a fee or not (for in such a cause as this I despise a fee) I will to my dying day oppose, with all the powers and faculties God has given me, all such instruments of slavery on the one hand and villainy on the other, as this Writ of Assistance is.

John Adams, Sam’s more conciliatory cousin who had doubts about independence characterized this as the first act of resistance. It was the first action in an intellectual war of small actions which culminated in the shots fired at Lexington Green on 19 April 1775.

The court, presided over by the corrupt Thomas Hutchinson, rejected the argument. But the speech was amplified and published over the years. In December of 1773 Hutchinson was to be the recipient of a shipment of tea that would be forfeit to his warehouse on 17 December of that year. James Otis, Jr’s classmate Sam organized a costume party (it took place on Beethoven’s third birthday) that result in the tea being tossed into the harbor so it could not be unloaded.

Through the assistance of the anti-federalist movement which in the newly free and independent Commonwealth of Massachusetts included Sam Adams and the sister of James Otis, Jr, Mercy Otis Warren, ten amendments restricting governmental powers were adopted and ratified. These included the Fourth Amendment which reads:

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

After “9/11” supposedly changed “our democracy forever” the United States passed the USAPATRIOT Act which greatly expanded the powers of the US Department of Justice, the NSA (LBJ’s Secret Police) and government in general—we now have a Transportation Security Administration and Department of Homeland Security with seemingly unlimited powers. (I could posit that the events of 11 September 2001 did not substantially change the risk level for the United States but only the fear level.)

This legislation is not “the law of the land” in that it is passed, not pursuant to the powers granted in the body of the Constitution and contrary to the limits on federal power bluntly stated in the fourth article amending that Constitution. In other words, the argument is that an emergency grants extraordinary powers to ignore the basics of governing in a free society. In the 1688 Bill of Rights, the British Parliament objected to standing armies in time of peace—and since 1688 every monarch has assured military adventurism as a means to keeping standing armies. In 1798 John Adams wanted emergency powers because he had a gotten into a shooting conflict with France—his successor refused to enforce those powers. Since 1914 the United States has been in conflict with one or more foes—only twice, 1917 and 1941, have there been formal declarations of war although Bill Fulbright posited that the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution might be so considered.

The advantage to the powers that be of “emergencies” is that the electorate, with a dire threat from the outside, is willing to forgo freedoms in the belief that such willingness will diminish the threat. Ergo, since Muslim extremists were capable of flying a couple planes into buildings we are under threat—although we currently have no enemies with industrial capabilities, having reached a rapprochement with Red China and having caused the downfall of the Soviet Union through a massive spending war. However, we have a “Global War on Terror” as a result of G.W. Bush acting like John Adams on steroids and Barack Obama not being Thomas Jefferson in any sense.

Going back to the Fourth Amendment, James Otis, Jr, began a revolution of thought. As the kernel of the idea grew, it was added to and built up pressure. By April of 1775, the American Revolution was over—what lay ahead was a War for Independence. Yes, for these ideas and freedoms we went to war, not to give power over to a government that took crises as a rationale for going back to a time before it all happened and back to a government that made Leviathan look like a gila monster.

 

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Citizenship, Economy, Free Society

Immigration — protection or protectionism

(c) 2013 Earl L. Haehl Permission is given to use this article in whole as long as credit is given. Book rights are reserved.

If you are committed to populist and progressive myths about protecting jobs through immigration laws you do not need to read further. If, like my wife, you believe that the United States government has “inherent” powers to control immigration, I recommend reading Solburg, Winton L, ed., The Constitutional Convention and the Formation of the Union, second edition.

Let’s start with the Constitution. Article I, Section 8, defines the powers of Congress. Paragraph 4 says, “To establish an uniform Rule of Naturalization, and uniform Laws on the subject of Bankruptcies throughout the United States;” This deals with uniformity of laws and deals with the issue of naturalization, not immigration.

The only paragraph that mentions migration is Article 1, Section 9, Paragraph 1 which reads, “The Migration or Importation of such Persons as any of the States now existing shall think proper to admit, shall not be prohibited by the Congress prior to the Year one thousand eight hundred and eight, but a Tax or duty may be imposed on such Importation, not exceeding ten dollars for each Person.” This was a reference to the slave trade and the migration of indentured servants. It expired in 1808 and the slave trade was abolished. This was a compromise to keep Georgia and South Carolina in the Compact—George Mason proposed immediate elimination of the slave trade and elimination of slavery by 1800. In no way does this paragraph provide for regulation of voluntary immigration.

Article XIV of Amendment begins, “All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside.”

So the Constitution does not give a whole lot of guidance. And the early laws did not deal with immigration. Even John Adams, the founding godfather of the progressive movement, did not get Congress to restrict immigration from France in 1898, but rather to require an extended residency period for naturalization.

During the 1840s a number of nativist groups emerged and advocated controlling immigration and deporting aliens. In the late 1860s it turned out that the aliens—specifically Irish and Chinese turned out to be necessary to the completion of the Transcontinental Railroad. Abraham Lincoln and Grenville Dodge had ignored the War Department’s surveys and drawn a line on a map. To execute the Western third of that line required disciplined workers who could be careful with explosives and reliable. These were the Chinese, whom the Anglo-Californians were trying to get rid of.

In 1875 that the first limitation on immigration was passed (the Page Act). Employers were prohibited from importation of “coolie labor” and Chinese sex workers. In 1882 came the Chinese Exclusion Act. It should be noted that both the 1875 and 1882 Acts violated the Burlingame Treaty of 1868 which was renegotiated in 1880.

The current quota based immigration system dates back only to 1921—more than 130 years after ratification of the Constitution. The latest intrusion is the REAL ID Act, a federal mandate on state issuance of identification justified by the so-called “war on terror.”

The progressive movement (and this includes the neo-conservatives and populists currently posing as conservatives) believes in government expansion by crisis. The attack on the World Trade Center in 2001 was not the ultimate attack on the United States. The REAL ID Act was an advance of central control, nothing more nor less.

The anti-immigration movement (including such national figures as Tom Tancredo and Kris Kobach) is nothing more than economic protectionism dressed up as patriotism—see Dr Johnson’s Dictionary. It is not conservative any more than was the Know Nothing party before the conflict of 1861. Economic protectionism, as many know, was the cause of the 1931 recession that was rebranded the Great Depression for political purposes. Ultimately, immigration has generally been positive although the folks who came in through Ellis Island and were socialized in the New York public schools and their descendants have contributed to the dependency culture—we need some hard-working Mexicans to change this.

 

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Compleat Idler, Economy, Humor, Technology

Short commentary

(c) 2012 Earl L. Haehl Permission is given to use this article in whole as long as credit is given. Book rights are reserved.

Susan Rice withdrew from consideration for Secretary of State. No, this will not end the Benghazi debate—it was not the messenger but the message. Obama wanted his narrative.

Obama to meet with Boehner. A headline something like Fighting Intense Near Verdun in 1915 and 16 and 17 and 18. Look for something that kicks the can down the road a year or two.

Michigan passes “right to work.” Do not be surprised by repeal in a couple years.

Obama supports “secular” opposition in Syrian. Of course they can fit in one phone booth. Jordan is next.

Kansas Governor merges adult and juvenile corrections. This is an extremely bad idea which has been around since the early eighties—at least.

Lindsay Lohan is down to one story in today’s Mail—apparently she is impoverished. You might think that playing Elizabeth Taylor might lead her to Paris’s brother Conrad.

There are petitions on the White House website for secession. The state legislators who actually pass secession resolutions are not about to give up their entitlements and funding for their projects by doing so.

Meanwhile there are also petitions to nationalize Twinkies and build a Death Star—the latter being touted as a “jobs engine” on the scale of NASA. I do not see private capital coming forward to finance even part of such a project.

There are some private capital bids for some Hostess trademarks and recipes (take sugar, add high fructose corn syrup, throw in artificial flavors and colors, pump air into the center, throw on some more sugar). Meanwhile, Little Debbie sits there luring customers with her innocent smile—plus sugar, high fructose corn syrup, artificial flavors and colors, sugar frosting, powdered sugar.

There may be something to this petition site. It helps identify the clueless.

The MailOnline reports a decline in the Samurai Caste during the Edo period because of lead poisoning in the make-up they wore. My brother sent me the more nuanced report from MSNBC. As an historical note, in the 1860s the District of Columbia installed new lead water pipes to prevent sabotage of the system. Solutions cause problems.

 

 

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Citizenship, Free Society

Election over – time to pull up the boots

(c) 2012 Earl L. Haehl Permission is given to use this article in whole as long as credit is given. Book rights are reserved.

Many “conservatives” will mourn after the election of Statist Obama over Statist Romney. There are those of us with legitimate fears about Obama and gun control, but that is about it and we will have to work harder to prevail. But the truth is, that this was an election about minor tweaks in the progressive agenda, not a “liberal-conservative” matchup. To get a conservative-progressive contest you have to go back to 1964. To get a liberal-progressive contest you go back to 1972.

First of all, no matter what you read in the press or the right alternative media, there is nothing historic or unprecedented in this election. Franklin D Roosevelt was re-elected twice (1936 and 1940) with a worse economic record and unemployment rate—his third reelection came when wartime production skewed the economic reports. Only eighteen Presidents out of forty-four have failed to be reelected—sixteen if you do not count Cleveland. Both Nixon and Clinton were under a cloud of scandal when reelected.

What mistakes did Romney make?

This is the question that will keep pundits busy for about a week at most—a little longer on the alternative media websites—and then it will be limited to the alcohol assisted venues where “conservatives” whine about every election the Republicans did not win. Note: it had nothing to do with Gary Johnson. I do have some observations.

The establishment machine made sure that Ron Paul delegations did not get to the Convention and that Ron Paul delegates were not listed as winning caucuses. People you demonize in August are not real likely to support you in November. I said as much then. Whether it would have made a difference in the electoral college I am not sure, but it could have told voters Romney could be fair.

I have seen Al Gore looser than Romney.

There is a tendency on the part of politicians to share tidbits with key contributors. Unfortunately you should never say anything in any kind of gathering that you do not want known throughout the connected world. (This parallels my advice to high schoolers not to put nude pictures of themselves on facebook or send them to significant parties.) The 47percent remark, regardless of its accuracy or source, hit a nerve in the populace. This is not fair, you say, since Obama seems to be Teflon(tm). Well, the world is what it is. Any politician unaware of the parameters is fair game.

In a debate, Mitt expressed approval of NDAA and the USAPATRIOT Act. This alienated liberty voters. A very considered answer would have addressed the Fourth and Fifth Amendment concerns and been vague enough to make voters think he was considering the issue.

There was no counter to Warren Buffett. Berkshire-Hathaway acquires companies where families are forced by the tax code to divest a profitable company to pay inheritance taxes–this is not that different in strategy from Bain.

Where to from here?

The good news is that the Republican Party is healthier down the ballot than at the top. And there is an opening for liberty minded individuals to influence what is going on. If the Republicans can shift back to the Robert Taft conservatism and pull out of military adventurism, it can start to reduce the size of the federal government.

This is small group by small group process that needs to be implemented now, not at the beginning of a campaign. And it needs to be done without Super PACs.

An agenda.

  1. Decide what to compromise on and what not to. We have much needless gun control legislation because the NRA and other conservative organizations were desperate to compromise rather than look obstructionist. Remember, the anti-federalists forced the Bill of Rights, not as a compromise but as a condition precedent to ratification.
  2. Target legislation for repeal with research. Most of the Homeland Security legislation is “emergency” legislation. The United States was last in a State of War in 1945.
  3. Encourage Tenth Amendment groups in the legislature.
  4. Be ready to force Obama to appoint “vanilla” judges to the Supreme Court. Encourage filibusters if necessary.
  5. Be ready to oppose all UN technical treaties. Support withdrawal from NATO and other organizations which authorize military force contrary to Constitutional constraints.
  6. Support free trade and oppose economic protectionism.

More guidance will come.

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Citizenship, Free Society

The Electoral College – essential and relevant

(c) 2012 Earl L. Haehl Permission is given to use this article in whole as long as credit is given. Book rights are reserved.

As we look at the polls, the argument over the Electoral College raises its head again. My wife mentioned this to me the other evening and stated the argument succinctly. The Electoral College is a remnant of a time when we did not have an informed democracy. That “our Democracy” has advanced beyond those days and there is no reason to have the EC.

There is the argument, pure and simple. I was informed that just because the founders felt this way is no reason to stick with that system. I replied that there was a reason for my position and I can explain it. It does not matter which candidate wins the popular or electoral vote. And I am not driven by democracy as such—the dictatorship of fifty percent plus one is still a dictatorship.

Benjamin Franklin, who apparently slept through much of the Constitutional Convention occasionally awaking to make a pithy remark, is reported to have had an encounter in which a woman asked whether the Convention had produced a monarchy or a democracy. His reply: “A republic, madame, if you can keep it.”

There were several proposals regarding the selection of the Executive. One was selection by the legislative branch, another by popular vote, another by the Governors. And the compromise was the electoral college. The idea was to balance population with representation of the States, from whom the united States derived its existence and powers. By giving each state a vote in the electoral college equal to its number of Senators and Representatives, the small states were not neglected.

Those favoring the idea of a national democracy rather than a federal constitutional republic see the states as irrelevant—or at best a laboratory for national policy. Those from the District of Columbia complain that their votes count less than those in Wyoming—I did not ever vote on giving electoral votes to DC and would not be upset if they were repealed. The fact is, that with both the popular vote and the electoral vote the current president was elected by those residing in less than ten percent of the landmass of the United States.

It is a token of the Republic that we still have an electoral college, that we still make a distinction of states. As long as we can do this, there is hope that we may recapture the Republic and our basic rights.

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Economy

Unemployment drops – Are you impressed?

(c) 2012 Earl L. Haehl Permission is given to use this article in whole as long as credit is given. Book rights are reserved.

So the unemployment rate dropped below 8 percent. October surprise? We will not know whether this is a sign of recovery for another six to twelve months. This is, of course, a figure that both parties will spend time spinning this figure. (How many campaign spinners will be out of work on 7Nov?) But how much does the figure really mean.

The unemployment rate is based on the number of individuals in the Civilian Work Force unemployed as opposed the total number of persons in the Civilian Work Force. This latter figure is the number of persons ages 16 through 64 minus undocumented aliens, military and naval personnel, the incarcerated, full time students, those committed to mental institutions, those working part time, the disabled (under SS guidelines), those who have ceased seeking employment and those whose unemployment benefits have expired.

I have heard estimates that the “actual” unemployment rate stands anywhere from 11 to 28 percent. Without actual figures there is no way to state an actual percentage and the Bureau of Labor Statistics numbers are, however flawed, what we have to work with. The interesting thing is that both the right and left actually defend or attack BLS depending on who is in office. I have been told by Republicans that 4.9 percent figure was actually too high because it ignored those on unemployment who were “scamming” the system. I was also told by members of the other party that the same figure is too low because it ignores “underemployment.”

Sorry. I know there are scammers. They show up for interviews and get their card stamped, but deliberately offend the hiring authority and get another week by showing that they were “looking.” Near the end of their eligibility they obtain employment which they keep long enough to have worked in two quarters and then be discharged for less than competent work. The number of these folks is not large but they do exist. They will take advantage of any system—the system just needs to figure them out.

Sorry. I do not buy the “underemployment” argument any more than I buy the “overqualified” argument in denying someone employment.

So we are dealing with the numbers BLS uses. But what, statistically, is the difference between 7.8 percent and 8.2 percent? In terms of who is work and who is not, you have to look at factors of economic activity as well. Are factory orders increasing? Is output increasing?

Does the American manufacturing sector show an increase or are these jobs based on the fluctuation of the retail system or the increase of freelance companies wherein the self employed have decided to go it without the capital base they need because there are no other options? And if so, how much of this is going to last? I had a discussion with my late father-in-law back in the late 80s about the surge of service sector jobs without an agricultural or manufacturing base to support them.

Right now, through the Quantitative Easing, the Fed is creating money without wealth. The created money will possibly create some employment in the financial sector—until the next bubble bursts. Without real wealth creation, reduction of unemployment is temporary at best.

To butcher a saying from Abraham Lincoln, “You cannot fool all the people all the time, but you can possibly fool a plurality through election day.”

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Citizenship

Goodbye federalism

(c) 2012 Earl L. Haehl Permission is given to use this article in whole as long as credit is given. Book rights are reserved.

As I have been re-reading Madison’s notes as edited by Solberg I have picked up on some details that the 23 year old college senior (slow learner) missed. In fact, I would recommend a re-read of a lot of stuff as an adult—you’d be amazed at what holds up and what does not.

But I digress—as most of my friends and relative note…often. Reading Madison’s notes on the federal convention reveals a lot. Many of the debates are still unsettled from day one. What are we as a nation. Do we have a general, national government or a federal republic? I can argue it both ways as my old hero Harold Fatzer did on occasion when he was chosen (by rotation) to write a majority opinion against which he had voted—his majority was solid and well thought out but his dissent was masterful, logical and chiding of the majority. I can write a legal paper on the textual federalism of the Constitution. I fervently support a federal republic and believe the national government has done more to destroy than protect.

I am writing this about the fact and not the law. The Constitution of the United States is regarded as antiquated. Franklin D Roosevelt wrote to Samuel B. Hill, Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee on July 6, 1935, stating, “I hope your committee will not permit doubts as to constitutionality, however reasonable, to block the suggested legislation.” I did not find a quote for his reference to the Constitution as a “quaint 18th century document,” but the sentiment fits with his attitude toward Congress and the Supreme Court. And I would posit that most in elective office agree.

What Hamilton and a number of people at the Convention preferred was a national government—some went as far as to propose the elimination of states. At that point even Madison was in favor of a stronger central government than he was after persuasion by Jefferson during ratification. The argument was that the states were a roadblock to a strong (read militarily powerful) nation. And of course the states were a hindrance to commerce—actually California does not recognize the commerce clause when it comes to firearms and the Ninth Circuit says fine.

If I end up interspersing current events with this it is that the same forces are at work today and this is about where we are. There is no provision in the Constitution for a national police force. The federal government has 150,000 “law enforcement” personnel which essentially constitute a standing army within our borders while the natural defense of society—the militia of the people—is further infringed. George Mason who drafted the Virginia Declaration of Rights wrote in Section 13: “That a well-regulated militia, or composed of the body of the people, trained to arms, is the proper, natural, and safe defense of a free state; that standing armies, in time of peace, should be avoided as dangerous to liberty; and that in all cases the military should be under strict subordination to, and governed by, the civil power.” The Department of Homeland Security has become a power unto itself and has voided much of what is left of federalism. Does this bother the electorate—hint, the candidates are both believers in national government. As Clinton and Bush gave up their defense of their gubernatorial powers when they arrived at the juncture of New York and Pennsylvania Avenues, so too will Romney if elected.

The arguments ranged back and forth on the merits of democratic election versus a republic. And at the Convention, there was a compromise. We are told today by those who wish a more powerful and intrusive government that compromise is not a bad thing. The Senate was to be selected by the legislatures of the states as a bone to the republicans. The fear was that a complete democracy would endanger the rights of all. As the growth of democracy gained power in the 19th Century, the Progressives manipulated the Populists into assenting to their power grab and the 17th Amendment was adopted in 1913 leaving the Senate of the United States unaccountable to those states they represent.

The situation we are in now—a national, central and unaccountable government—is not a failure of democracy but rather the natural consequence of democracy. It arises out of a public school system which has, as its primary mission, the indoctrination of the population in the current political system. This sets them up to accept the demagoguery they became acquainted with in school. Unfortunately the progressives have control of education regardless of who holds the government through the NEA and AFT.

The document remains but the reality is different. The courts and Congress cannot control the Executive because they do not have the will. This is not a new phenomenon of the Clinton-Bush-Obama years. Andrew Jackson once said, “Mr Marshall has made his decision, now let him enforce it.”

More quotes:

“I took the Canal Zone and let Congress debate about me.” Theodore Roosevelt whose 1912 campaign made suggestions about the need to revise the Constitution to give the central government more power.

““The President is at liberty, both in law and conscience, to be as big a man as he can. His capacity will set the limit; and if Congress be overborne by him, it will be no fault of the makers of the Constitution, – it will be from no lack of constitutional powers on its part, but only because the President has the nation behind him, and the Congress has not.” Woodrow Wilson who believed there was a “transcendent constitution” that superseded the dead written document.

So we are here with a national rather than a federal government that Republicans and Democrats alike are comfortable with.

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Citizenship

A case for a change

(c) 2012 Earl L. Haehl Permission is given to use this article in whole as long as credit is given. Book rights are reserved.

There are two major candidates, one of whom will be elected in December, with different aspirations. Mitt Romney wants very much to be President. To that end he will promise anything he needs to promise and will have a tough time following through on those promises if elected. This is not intended as an endorsement of Mr Romney.

Barack Obama, on the other hand, is President. He made all those promises four years ago, and to achieve some he ignored others. He wants very much to transform America. It worked for FDR—four times. It was only after World War II ended and Truman lifted wartime restrictions that the nation began to recover from the recession of 1931.

So let us look at the transformation so far. The “bailout” of the auto industry involved a takeover of two companies in order to preserve the union welfare state of those companies and give the government a “stakeholder” place in decision making. The bankruptcy law was violated and preferred stockholders, many of them public employee and teacher pension funds, were left holding the bag to assure government preferred stakeholders—aka the UAW. When franchises were closed, the fact that some had paid serious money for their franchises was not a consideration. Apparently volume of sales was not either.

Another aspect of the transformation of the auto industry is the new green technology. An example of this is the new Chevy Volt. GM loses $49,000 on every one that leaves the factory in order to reach a price point of $40,000. In addition the taxpayers pick up another $7,500 in a tax credit to bring the price down to a level where people will buy the vehicle.

The genius of the American auto industry has been its ability to produce vehicles that capture the consumer. And scuttle those that do not. They did not have to deal with the fiat that “you will build this vehicle” mentality of the Combloc. The Edsel was a failure—Ford ditched it and followed with the Mustang. Despite Ralph Nader the Corvair was extremely popular—there is a 61 driving around town that is in better shape than Ralph.

Ford escaped the “bailout” by having shepherded its resources to where it would not have to take a reorganization. Not to worry. New EPA CAFE standards took care of the the popular Crown Victoria. The company will survive, but a solid, powerful vehicle has been removed from production. Its replacement, the AWD Taurus-SHO, is unlikely to last as many miles and has a higher price tag to begin with. And with Executive Order 13603 in place, Obama has “authority” to seize industries in the name of national security.

The “bank bailout” saved some companies that should have been allowed a quiet demise. The real estate bubble which brought it down was caused largely by federal requirements to “open up” the housing market. To avoid pressure by compliance agencies, the banks loosened credit requirements to the point that massive groups of people were approved for loans they could never pay. There were people in certain counties in Colorado who were refinancing every eighteen months. There was a joke in the consumer community about using Visa to pay Mastercard—eventually the house of cards (so to speak) tumbles.

As the Congress set about remedying the financial situations there were companies that should have gone under, but were “too big to fail” so they were propped up. The regulations bill that the President signed had not been read by its sponsors. Retiring Sen Chris Dodd said it would take a couple years to find out what was in it.

So we come to the quick fix comprehensive health care reform. Like the financial services bill it was rushed and rammed through without time for reading or reflection. So much for the promise of transparency. What is in it—other than a tax that is unlawful because it originated in the Senate or else in the mind of an intimidated Chief Justice—is not clear. What is not in it is: cost control, frivolous lawsuit control, and cost increase control. Without these, the temporary nature of the bill is apparent—the costs will crash the government.

Then we come to the assertion that the President has authority to order the assassination of anyone he deems a threat to the American people. In asserting this power—which was not asserted in the Divine Right of Kings—the President places himself with banana republic dictators as well as Vlad the Impaler, Caligula, Stalin and Rasputin.

The President has also issued executive orders giving himself authority Congress and the Constitution will not. He tires of waiting for Congress. He has always, from his own statements, been frustrated by the Constitution’s negative liberties. He would like to change this Constitution out for one that mandates redistribution. And he clearly is looking for three more appointments to the Supreme Court in order to achieve this.

Mr Obama recently remarked that is is nearly impossible to effect change from the inside. Perhaps the community organizer needs to get back outside.

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Citizenship, Education

Antique Roman

(c) 2012 Earl L. Haehl Permission is given to use this article in whole as long as credit is given. Book rights are reserved.

 

Never believe it.
I am more an antique Roman than a Dane.
Here’s yet some liquor left. – Horatio in Hamlet act V

It takes awhile to find that line though it rings true to me—it always has and yet it is not found in the memorable quotes because it is not “profound” to English lit professors. I admit to having not read the play itself since high school, following the admonition of my Shakespeare scholar father to watch rather than read.

Why I relate to the specific line is that I, too, am more antique (republican) Roman than 21st Century progressive American. The Roman republic was created when Lucius Junius Brutus defeated the tyrant Lucius Tarquinus Superbus (the Proud) and ended the monarchy in 509 BCE. From this republic which was defended by blood—Brutus watched the execution of his own sons for attempting to restore the monarchy. During the Republic 509-44 BCE the people of Rome began referring to themselves as Citizens and at Brutus’ insistence took an oath:

Omnium primum avidum novae libertatis populum, ne postmodum flecti precibus aut donis regiis posset, iure iurando adegit neminem Romae passuros regnare.
First of all, by swearing an oath that they would suffer no man to rule Rome, it forced the people, desirous of a new liberty, not to be thereafter swayed by the entreaties or bribes of kings.

We have never, since the beginning of the American Republic, been required to take such an oath although we insist on school children repeating a mindless pledge to a flag that was written by a socialist minister and used to enforce a belief in a unitary democracy.

At any rate, the antique Romans believed in defending the Republic but not giving power to a king or a dictator. Unfortunately, as time progressed the Senate allowed generals their way and was happy with conquest. While maintaining the trappings of republicanism, the actual form of government that began to develop was an empire. Cato the Elder, Rome’s Joe Lieberman, would end his senate speeches on any topic with ceterum censeo Carthaginem esse delendam or “in my opinion we should destroy Carthage.” While Republicans would counter this, in 146 BCE Rome destroyed the Phoenician port of Carthage and the die was cast about a century before Gaius Julius Caesar crossed the Rubicon.

At any rate, Caesar was content to keep the fiction of a Republic—the Senate made him dictator for life in 44 BCE. Unfortunately, it turned out to be a shorter term than expected as Marcus Junius Brutus, descendant of Lucius Junius Brutus, led the assassination that got him mention in Dante and Shakespeare. With Gaius out of the way, his nephew Octavian defeated Antonius and Brutus to become Caesar Augustus. Plutarch used the term “fall of the Republic” rather than “rise of the Empire.”

I am more of an Antique Roman than a 21st Centuty progressive. I am a citizen of the Republic.

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Education, Free Society

Amending the Constitution

(c) 2012 Earl L. Haehl Permission is given to use this article in whole as long as credit is given. Book rights are reserved.

Amending the Constitution of the United is an arduous process. It was intended to be for good reason. Any questions; try reading the California Constitution. There are several “amendments” in the pipeline at any given time. They vary from definition of life to a balanced federal budget. The primary impact of most of these would be the full employment of lawyers. The really hot one right now seems to be “the People’s Rights Amendment,” a rhetorical attack on the Citizens United decision with the effect of eliminating the Bill of Rights altogether. You may read my analysis posted 24 April.

I divide the amendments into limitations on government, housekeeping, individual rights, powers of government.

Articles I-IX are limitations on the federal government and individual rights.

Article X is limitations on federal power and powers reserved to states respectively and to the people.

Article XI limits the jurisdiction of federal courts.

Article XII is a housekeeping amendment on the method of choosing elector.

Articles XIII, XIV and XV are about individual rights. Article XIV also places the limitations of Articles I-IX on the states and their subdivisions.

Article XVI says the federal government may tax income from whatever source.

Article XVII took the appointment of the Senate away from the legislatures and made it by general election.

Article XVIII was one of two populist amendments, this one created national prohibition—a “noble experiment” that unified organized crime across the country and provided plots for numerous movies.

Article XIX is women’s suffrage. Out west it was not necessary. It was only in some of the eastern states that this was necessary.

Article XX reset the days for commencement of presidential terms and congressional terms. It also provided some flexibility in selection of the vice president and succession issues.

Article XXI repealed Article XVIII and gave ATF authority to enforce state laws contrary to the Commerce Clause.

Article XXII created term limits for president.

Article XXIII allows the District of Columbia the same number of Presidential electors as the least populous state. This basically gives the Democrats three guaranteed electors.

Article XXIV abolished use of a poll tax or other tax as a condition precedent to voting.

Article XXV provides for succession due to the death, disability or resignation of a President. Section 4, which has never been used, is problematic as I could see it as a coup d’etat provision.

Article XXVI provides for suffrage at 18.

Article XXVII Congress cannot raise its pay during the session. No change in compensation will take effect until after the next congressional election. This was one of the original twelve proposed, but it took a while—and a bunch of scandals—to take effect.

While I do not favor amendments for their own sake, I do see some areas that could increase liberty.

Repeal Article XVI. The current mess we are in has come from a monopolization of the taxing power by permitting unlimited taxation of income. When the government had to rely on tariffs and excises it did not expand and it did not engage in worldwide military adventurism. The income tax made military adventures by the Executive possible.

Repeal Article XVII. The direct and democratic election of Senators has increased demagoguery and reduced the accountability of the Senate. The purpose of the Senate was to represent the states—as such senators were appointed by, and accountable to, the legislature. This is extremely important in the Senate’s role in treaties but also in national legislation that may impact on small states. Also, senators with national constituencies may ignore their own states entirely.

Repeal Articles XVIII and XXI. When prohibition was repealed, the government kept in place a regulatory system to protect “dry” states from the commerce clause. Repeal would eliminate the A from ATF.

Repeal Article XXII. This proposal would eliminate term limits on the presidency. A good compromise would include changing the impeachment standard from Treason, bribery or other high crimes or misdemeanors to the during good behavior standard for judges. Term limits reduce accountability and were adopted as a knee-jerk reaction to FDR.

Add Article. Prohibit the bundling of regulatory or criminal laws onto budget legislation. It is a common practice to tie unpopular laws to “must pass” budgets.

Add Article. All federal criminal and regulatory statutes shall have a sunset clause. Most criminal laws at the federal level were passed in the heat of reaction. Reconsideration on a regular basis might result in appropriate corrections or repeals.

Add Article. Prohibit the federal courts from the awarding of punitive damages. Punitive damages are a quasi criminal remedy in a civil case. The motivation arises out of two basic premises. The most common is the feeling that a jury will find conduct so outrageous that it needs to be stopped and can best be stopped by excessive awards. The other is that a prosecutor can meet the preponderance of evidence standard for a tort case (every criminal trespass is also a civil tort) but not the reasonable doubt standard required for a criminal conviction. In addition to tort lawyers using the punitive damage tactic, political entities such as Southern Poverty Law Center and the various Public Interest Research Groups will use it as the means of “shutting down” those entities they have decided need shutting down.

Having escaped the Peoples Democratic Republic of California in 1963 I have avoided the idea that a Constitution needs to address every legal contingency. So I will leave it there.

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