Monthly Archives: February 2009

Let’s Dump Burris and Start Over

minute-man-2-lithoSomething is not quite right in Springfield—as usual.  The cry for Senator Burris to resign his newly acquired post is growing louder by the hour.  On Friday, the new Illinois Governor, Pat Quinn, called for Burris to step down.  It seems he had more contacts with Gov. Blago and staff about a Senate appointment than he revealed to the panel that impeached the previous Governor.

There appears to be mass confusion among political leaders as to how to handle the situation.  Quinn is asking the Legislature to pass a law allowing a special election.  Speaker Mike Madigan, according to the Chicago Tribune is hesitating to ask for a special election due to the high cost during a time of recession.

A Chicago Tribune editorial tells us that,

“Two measures aimed more or less in that direction are in the pipeline—one authored by Republicans, one by Democrats, each shaded accordingly. Lawmakers need to pass one quickly, before the next time we have a Senate vacancy. Which will be very soon, if Roland Burris does the right thing.”

As a Constitution fundamentalist, it seems to me, the whole problem was created and continues to percolate either because Democrats fear a special election, or no one in Springfield understands the plain English of the Constitution.  In fact, the fight over the Senate appointment and the consequent results is a classic example of what happens when our elected officials ignore their oath of office, or are not familiar with the Constitution they swore to uphold.

In the event of a Senate vacancy, the Constitution demands the Chief Executive of the state to call for a special election to fill the vacancy.  In addition, the State Legislature may, by statute authorize the Governor to appoint a temporary replacement to serve until the results of the special election is determined.

When vacancies happen in the representation of any State in the Senate, the executive authority of such State shall issue writs of election to fill such vacancies: Provided, That the legislature of any State may empower the executive thereof to make temporary appointments until the people fill the vacancies by election as the legislature may direct.
~Amendment Seventeen, U.S. Constitution

As we have pointed out before, the command “shall” is used in reference to a special election and the permissive “may” is used in reference to a temporary appointment.  Almost four months have now passed since Obama was elected President and the people of Illinois are no closer to having full and competent representation in the U.S. Senate today than they were then.

The Senate seat belongs to the people of the state of Illinois, not to the Democratic or Republican Parties.  We have had only one full-time Senator in Washington for the past two and a half years.  Obama was a part-time Senator and full-time candidate for President since he announced in ‘07. It is time for Roland Burris to hand in his resignation, and It is time for Illinoisans to demand a special election be held to fill the Seat, in accordance with the requirements of the Constitution.

We do not need a new law, and we do not need a new amendment to the Constitution, as some have proposed.  What we need is politicians familiar with the Constitution and willing to follow its requirements, regardless of which party wins an election.

Is President Obama Really a Socialist?

minute-man-2-lithoMost Americans reject socialism.  After more than forty years of cold war with the Soviet Union and its eventual collapse, the obvious failure of socialism in Cuba and countries of the Eastern Block, most of us realize that socialism simply does not work.  That’s good, except that most of us clearly do not recognize socialism even though it permeates every fabric of our society.

This fact is obvious in considering the reaction by a majority of us to the various attempts to “stimulate the economy” including the “stimulus package” passed by Congress last week and signed into law by President Obama.  We cling to the classic definition of socialism as communal ownership where the state owns and controls the means of production and distribution.  Any system that does not measure up to that definition is not considered socialism.  That is not the way modern western style socialism works, at least, not in the beginning stages.

Because of the negative image of socialism in the West, governments have been content, until now, to allow private ownership of business property, contenting itself with taking a lion’s share of profits through taxation and controlling commercial and industrial operations through regulation.  The dictionary definition of socialism simply does not accurately define socialism in its modern Western form.  Consequently, it is easy to accept the idea that is put forth by pundits and opinion makers in the media that Obama and his policies are not socialist but progressive.

What is not properly understood by many of us is the difference between means and goals.  In socialism, the goal is to redistribute wealth to attain what they believe to be social justice.  Nationalization, progressive taxation, targeted tax policies, and proliferation of social programs are merely the means used to reach this goal.  A necessary by-product of the goal is control over the personal behavior of the people; otherwise, they will not voluntarily cooperate in its achievement.  This is particularly true of those who are heavily taxed only to see those taxes redistributed to less productive members of society.

The litmus test as to whether a policy is socialist or not is whether it results in a transfer of income or wealth from one group of citizens to another.  Policies that take income or wealth from the person or persons who labored to accumulate it and transfers it to other individuals or groups who had no part in its creation is socialism, whatever label might be used to disguise the fact.  By this easily understood standard, President Obama is clearly a dedicated socialist and the policies he proposes are just as clearly socialistic.

Aside from the world wide, historical evidence that socialism is destructive to any society where it is practiced, in America it is also illegal.  The one thing all Americans, including our elected officials, agree on is that the Constitution is the Supreme Law of the Land.  The problem is that not enough of us know what that means.  The Constitution was crafted by delegates to the Philadelphia Convention on behalf of their respective states to provide a means of performing certain necessary functions that could not be effectively performed by the several states individually.  After much debate, it was finally ratified by all thirteen of the original states.  The Constitution had two major purposes.  First, to provide the new government with the powers necessary for national defense and the protection of liberty and property.  The second purpose was to limit that power to the functions spelled out in the document.

Any powers not spelled out (enumerated) in the Constitution that may be necessary to maintain a stable and free society is left to the discretion of the states and the people by the Ninth and Tenth Amendments.  As with most laws, the limited powers of the Federal Government were soon tested in court.  The first Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, George Marshall, wrote in the majority opinion of a Court case in 1803, “Any law passed by Congress not sanctioned by the Constitution is by its nature, void.” (Paraphrased for clarity)

Socialism, which is based on greed, envy, resentment and a lust for power, is undeniably unconstitutional and therefore illegal.  When elected or appointed officials of government impose their will on the people either by legislation, bureaucratic regulation or Executive Order they are in violation of the Supreme Law of the Land and it is the duty of every citizen to resist such unlawful behavior by any means at their disposal.

The Socialist States of America

communist-symbolIt’ Official! We are now the
The Socialist States of America

On Friday, after holding voting open for more than five hours and sending a government plane, at the behest of the President, to pick up an absent Senator, Democrats finally rammed through the “stimulus bill.”  In spite of the urgency expressed by the President before the legislation was passed, Obama took a long Valentine weekend with his family in Chicago.

Finally, on Tuesday afternoon, at a special signing ceremony in Colorado, the president signed the legislation marking the end of a hundred year struggle by socialists to gain control of the American Government.  It also marks the beginning of the end of capitalism as it has been practiced in America for the past four hundred years.  On average, it takes three to five years to bring about major changes in any large organization.  In the case of the American government, because of its size it will take decades, if not generations to make the change over complete.  Its cost in wealth and liberty will be astronomical.

The “stimulus plan” was sold to the American People as the solution to America’s current recession.  However, a close look at the plan seems to indicate that its real purpose is to provide financing for the first stages of the transition from capitalism to socialism.  Most of the expenditures go to projects and organizations that make up the socialist movement in America, environmentalists, unions, public education, universities, and the underachievers of society who make up the core of its “grassroots” supporters.

The $787 compromise bill finally signed by the President today is a down payment on many of the items that have been on the socialist agenda for generations.  The drive toward socialized health care first proposed by President Theodore Roosevelt in the early twentieth century gets a big boost with additional spending in Medicare, Medicaid, and SCHIP.  In addition, it provides funds for computerizing health care records for millions of Americans.  This will help when it becomes necessary to ration healthcare, especially for the elderly.

Education and the Teacher’s Unions are other big winners.  $90 billion will go to public education from pre-school through high school.  $44.5 billions go to prevent cutbacks and layoffs by local school districts.  Another $15 for special education and No Child Left Behind programs with $2 billion earmarked for head start.

An estimated $32 billion will go to higher education, including increasing Pell Grants, and other student aid.  The stimulus package also makes a $2,500 tuition tax credit forty percent refundable allowing families who do not earn enough income to pay taxes to receive up to an additional $1,000 in tuition aid.

The “greenies” also come in for a share of the booty.  From alternative energy development to energy-efficient visitor’s centers in National Parks and wildlife refuges and $7.2 billion to the EPA to protect drinking water supplies and clean up national park lands.  Community Organizing groups like ACORN will also be big benefactors of Obama’s largess.

The worst aspect of Obama’s plan to end capitalism is not that it will burden future generations with unsustainable debt, or that it will balloon the hidden tax of inflation, but that to implement it requires the suspension of the Constitution.   There is nothing in the bill that can be said to be constitutional, in spite of the fact that every Congressman and Senator who voted for it has sworn multiple oaths to protect an defend the Constitution against all enemies, both foreign and domestic.

States Drawing the Line on Washington Power Grabs

minute-man-2-lithoOne of the major challenges facing the Founders in 1787 was how to form a national government while still maintaining the sovereignty of the various individual states.  They solved this problem with the “enumerated powers” section [Art.1, Sec. 8] in the Constitution followed by the Tenth Amendment.  We have a unique form of government, partly national, and partly federal.  James Madison details this quirk in our system in Federalist No. 39.

Almost from its inception, politicians in the central government have attempted to consolidate government in Washington, gradually weakening its republican and federal components.  During the twentieth century, those wishing to consolidate the United States into one central government with branches or chapters in the various state capitols took advantage of the Sixteenth Amendment of 1913 and the power it gave Washington to expand its control over state governments.

The Tax Code is used as a device to reward behavior by states and citizens its deems desirable and punishing behavior it deems undesirable.  Through giving or withholding tax incentives and grants it effectively controls state social programs, education, health care and a major part of its laws dealing with commerce and manufacturing.  As the federal government gains more and more power over state government, it increases the demands made on state governments and taxpayers through “unfunded mandates”.

Of course, the argument over “funded” or “unfunded” mandates by the federal government is not really the issue.  That is merely a question of whether the taxes taken from citizens of the various states makes the round trip to Washington before being spent, or are spent by the state government before Washington gets its “rake off”.  The real issue is whether the federal government has the legal authority to issue the mandates in the first place.

At least twenty states have begun to push back, introducing resolutions in their respective Legislatures that says to the Federal government “enough is enough”.  A number of internet sites have begun to publicize states’ effort to rein in the federal government and regain some of the legitimate powers reserved to the states by the Tenth Amendment.  The article most often quoted is the one by Jerome Corsi in World Net Daily.

A more detailed treatment of states’ efforts can be found here.

This is an important movement that should be supported by every citizen who values the Constitution and the limited government it demands.

Major High Court Reforms Proposed

minute-man-2-lithoWASHINGTON — A group of 33 law professors, former state supreme court justices and practitioners are urging the attorney general and the heads of the Senate and House judiciary committees to consider four changes in the operation of the U.S. Supreme Court, including regular appointment of justices and the involvement of appellate judges in the selection of cases to be decided on the merits. Read article

The Federal Courts, including the Supreme Court have been instrumental in the progress made by the socialist movement within government over the years.  Most of the socialist features that permeates our culture have been brought about through court rulings rather than legislative actions.  In practice, there is little of the “checks and balances” so important to the proper functioning of government that have been considered applicable to our court systems.

Since the Supreme Court appointed itself as the sole interpreter of the Constitution, there has been no checks on its decisions.  Most people accept the idea that Supreme Court decisions cannot be corrected short of an amendment to the Constitution.  The Constitution establishes the Supreme Court and the Federal court system in Article III, setting judge’s tenure in office “during good behavior”.  Article II, Section 2, grants to the President the power to appoint judges and justices with the advice and consent of the Senate.

The condition of tenure, “during good behavior” indicates their susceptibility to impeachment and removal from office for malfeasance, dereliction of duty, official misconduct, or incompetence.  The fact that most members of Congress are not interested in preserving the Constitution does not change the fact that they have the power to do so if they desire.

While at first glance the suggestions of the 33 professors mentioned in the above article might appear to have some merit, this is a proposal  that should undergo close scrutiny by the public before serious consideration.  Perhaps before adding another layer of legislation or changing the structure of the Supreme Court in order to correct its defects, we should first utilize the remedy given to us by the Constitution, impeachment and the balance of power between the three branches.

Passing the Wealth Around

minute-man-2-lithoOne of the questions that has plagued me most of my adult life is about the concept of a progressive income tax.  It has always bothered me that a person who works hard and prospers is required to turn over to the state a larger portion of the fruits of that labor than the slothful person who drifts through life putting forth as little effort as possible.

The moral justification for a progressive income tax is based on the idea that the more wealth a person has the more he or she should contribute to the benefit of society.  I have no problem with that concept.  It is grounded firmly in both history and religion.  One of the earliest records of taxes is found in the Bible, Genesis 14:20 which records Abraham paying a tithe (10%) to Melchizedek, King of Salem.  Under the Theocracy of ancient Israel, everyone was required to pay a tithe to support the Temple and the government.  That practice is still followed today in many Christian religions.

Under that system if a man’s flock increased by ten sheep one of those sheep was given as a tithe.  If his flock increased by a hundred sheep he was required to contribute only ten. By any standard, this is a fair and equitable sharing of the burden in support of government.  However, exempting the man with only ten sheep from having to pay any tithe at all, while requiring the man with a hundred sheep to contribute twenty to make up the difference may be charitable, but it could never be called fair.

With the exception of a short time during the Civil War, income was not taxed in America.  In 1913, the Sixteenth Amendment was added to the Constitution which authorizes the government to tax incomes “from whatever source derived”.  That amendment seems to be universally accepted as the constitutional justification for a progressive income tax.  I have always considered it just another breach of the Constitution by the socialist element in Congress that has existed since the late eighteen hundreds.

However, yesterday Mark Levin, founder and director of the Landmark Legal Foundation, author of a best selling book on the Supreme Court, “Men In Black” and host of a nationally syndicated radio show, seemed to express the same view with a caller.  I consider Mark to be one of the foremost Constitutional Scholars of today; therefore, I have to take into account his opinions.  For that reason, I got out my copy of the Constitution and reread the Sixteenth Amendment which says,

“The Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes on incomes, from whatever source derived, without apportionment among the several States, and without regard to any census or enumeration.”

I am not trained in law; however, I do have formal training in hermeneutics, “the science and methodology of interpreting texts”.  Try as I might, I cannot find justification for a progressive income tax in the Sixteenth Amendment.  I find it in Karl Marx’s Communist Manifesto where he calls for “A heavy progressive or graduated income tax”.   I find it in the platform of the Socialist Party U.S.A, and in the platform of the Communist Party U.S.A, but I do not find it in the Constitution.

Article I, Section 8 grants Congress the “Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defense and general Welfare of the United States; But all Duties, Imposts and Excises shall be uniform throughout the United States;”  ” The remainder of Section 8, specifies the particulars for which Congress may appropriate taxes to “provide for the common defense” and “promote the general welfare”.

Article I, Section 9 provides that, “No Capitation, or other direct, Tax shall be laid, unless in Proportion to the Census or enumeration herein before directed to be taken.”  The Sixteenth Amendment amends Section 9 to allow for taxation “without regard to any census or enumeration.”  It does not authorize a graduated or progressive tax, however.  In practice, the only purpose of a progressive, graduated income tax is for social engineering and redistributing wealth. Using the tax code to control or manipulate the business, social and personal lives of citizens violates both the letter and spirit of the Constitution.

In considering the socialist takeover of our government, it is apparent that it never could have succeeded without the help of our tax code.  Few actions of Congress have been more detrimental to the welfare of America than the progressive tax code.  When we take back the government from the socialists and return it to a Constitutional Republic, one of the first orders of business should be to reform or repeal the tax code so that it applies equally to all citizens at whatever station in life.

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Obama the Community Organizer is Back

minute-man-2-lithoObama has gone back on the campaign trail to sell his trillion dollar spending plan. Those who were asking during the presidential campaign, “What does a community organizer do” can find out by watching him in action as he attempts to sell the American people on the largest expansion of government in history.

Obama learned his skills on the streets of Chicago following the teachings of twentieth century organizer, Saul Alinsky. The two main elements of the Alinsky model are fear and anger. The hard sell part is fear. In community organizing, the organizer canvasses the community to find out what residents are most dissatisfied with in their lives. Next, the organizer gets members of the community together and reminds them of how miserable their lives really are, exaggerating or emphasizing as necessary.

After two years of the Democrats talking down the economy as the “worst economy since The Great Depression” identifying the dissatisfaction is fairly easy. Now as president, it is also easy to get people together in “Town Meetings”. In these meeting Obama continues to emphasize how bad the economy is, although the truth is that it is nowhere near as bad as “The Great Depression”,—I was there. It probably will be soon, however, if Obama succeeds in his efforts.

The next step is to create a common reason for the misery. It is important to convince those suffering that they are not culpable in any way for their problems. At this stage it is important to set up a common enemy or enemies the problems can be blamed on. Organizing in the community, the enemies are always the exploitative employers, greedy bankers and merchants, uncaring landlords, etc., etc. These “straw men” change only slightly on the national stage. Here they are “Wall Street”, the financial establishment, and the greedy mortgage lenders.

To heighten the feelings of despair in the audience the organizer attempts to sell them on the idea that things will only get worse if they continue to do nothing, thereby creating a need for urgency. The objective here is to turn the supposed “victimhood” of the listeners into anger at those victimizing them. If enough anger is aroused they will be motivated to action. In the community, protests and demonstrations are organized to pressure local politicians and businesses to acquiesce to the demands of the group.

Again, the process changes little at the national level. Now we have the President of the United States traveling the country recreating the forums in which he worked as a community organizer during his early career. The main theme today, as then, is unless immediate action is taken the situation is only going to get worse. Instead of explaining in detail exactly what actions are planned and the possible unintended consequences that may follow, the organizer simply paints a rosy picture of how great life will be if they will only trust in him.

This is the strategy that won Obama the White House and he is counting on it to convince the American People to scrap the Constitution, abandon free market capitalism and accept European style Marxist socialism as the economic and political structure of our government. The problem is that if he succeeds, and it looks as if he will, turning back the change will be an almost impossible task.

To accept the first two premises of the socialist/democrats that “we must do something” and “only the government has the means to help us”, is to deny the evidence of four hundred years of American history and almost two hundred years of world history. Capitalism is the only means found thus far that creates universal prosperity. Socialism, which is nothing more than a parasite in the body of capitalism, never works as promised, and eventually kills its host.

The government’s only legitimate role is to get out of the way and allow capitalism to work. It can do this by relaxing some of its counterproductive regulations and stop draining the economy of funds through excessive taxation and social mandates.

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