Tag Archives: bill of rights

The NRA Does Not Endorse Senator Reid—Yet

NRA says the Constitution and nine of the ten amendments in the Bill of Rights, not a factor in decision to endorse candidates.

Recently there has been a rumor making the rounds that the National Rifle Association endorses Senator Harry Reid of Nevada in the November election. A Facebook friend sent the NRA an email requesting they clarify their position. In response, the NRA sent my friend a long and detailed email outlining their position. You can read both emails here.

The NRA response, in part:

“In regards to recent reports that the NRA Political Victory Fund (NRA-PVF) has endorsed U.S. Senator Harry Reid for reelection, the NRA-PVF has not yet made an endorsement in the Nevada U.S. Senate race.

In fact, there have been no announced endorsements for any U.S. Senate seat for the November general elections—period.”

Had they stopped at this point, there would be no problem. However, they continued with an explanation that it is too early to endorse anyone yet. Their policy is to withhold endorsements until just before the general election, in order to make sure they have the most up to date information available. Again, that seems to be a sound and laudable policy.

They then go on to explain the basis for their endorsements.

“It is important to note that the NRA is a single-issue organization. Our ratings and endorsements are based solely on a candidate’s support for, or opposition to, our Second Amendment rights. Other issues, as important as they may be to many people, do not and cannot play any role in those decisions. NRA represents a broad coalition of American gun owners, who are bound together by their support for the right to keep and bear arms.

For us to factor non-gun-related issues into our ratings would foolishly divide our unified base of support on the Second Amendment. This policy has served NRA and gun owners well over the past three-plus decades, making us the nation’s pre-eminent pro-Second Amendment advocacy group.” (emphasis added)

This is followed by six paragraphs listing Reid’s five-year record of support for legislation favorable to the NRA’s agenda. The email sums up with this question for voters.

“All of which leads to a very serious question for all NRA members and gun owners who oppose Sen. Reid to contemplate: who would take Reid’s place if he loses his race—and his critically important position as Senate Majority Leader? Remember, the Senate Majority Leader is the gatekeeper who decides which legislation will be considered on the Senate floor. If Sen. Reid loses, the next candidate for Majority Leader is very likely to be Charles Schumer of New York or Dick Durbin of Illinois —two of the most anti-gun U.S. Senators in history!”

I have always considered the National Rifle Association to be one of the few stalwart organizations we could always count on to defend the Constitution and our founding principles. However, the tenor of their response leads me to wonder if they are not simply using the Constitution and the Second Amendment to further their own agenda.

When the Second Amendment was added to the Constitution, the Founders had two purposes in mind; giving citizens the means to defend their unalienable rights to life and liberty. In other words, the means to defend their own life and the lives of their loved ones, and the means to defend their liberty against the tyranny of government.

The right to life includes the right to self-defense, for us and our loved ones. It also includes the right to hunt for food during hard times to sustain life. Hunting for sport and target practice for recreation are side benefits that do not figure into the purpose of the right to keep and bear arms. The progress of our culture has made the need to hunt for food in order to live obsolete. The only real need for firearms today, from the Founders point of view, is for self-defense. That need becomes even more important as the community safeguards for our personal security continue to break down.

Some “Rambo” types may envision themselves storming the ramparts with their trusty firearm, in the face of bazookas, machine guns and tanks to overthrow the government and take back our liberty; but, let’s face it, in today’s world, that is nothing more than a childish daydream. I fully support the Second Amendment as necessary for our unalienable right to self-preservation. Unlike the NRA, I do not consider it to be, by any means, our most important right. Neither am I willing to give up more important ones in order to preserve it.

While the right to bear arms is important, as a practical matter, in today’s world, it is not as important for the preservation of our liberty as the right to free speech; the right to a free press; the right of free association and assembly; the right to own and enjoy personal property, including the fruits of our labor; or the right to vote. The Second Amendment, though important, is not as important as the First, Fourth, Tenth and other sections of the Constitution protecting the rights mentioned above.

Harry Reid may be Congress’ most important champion of the Second Amendment in the last five years. However, in that same time frame, he has helped to shred the Constitution and many of the freedoms guaranteed in the Bill of Rights. The overall tone of the NRA response indicates they are seriously considering endorsing Reid in the general election. I urge all NRA members to contact their leadership and encourage the organization to refrain from endorsing anyone in the Nevada Senate race, if Reid is their only choice.

It seems to me, the National Rifle Association leadership is faced with its own question to seriously contemplate this Fall. Are they willing to risk the perks they have gotten for their organization from Congress, in order to stand with the Patriots who are working to restore our Constitutional government; or do they consider their special congressional privileges more important?

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Obama's Flawed Constitution

liberty-bellPresident Obama has expressed, on several occasions, his belief that the Constitution is a flawed document.  He has also indicated a primary goal of his administration is to change the way things are done in America to match the principles on which he believes the nation was founded.  Millions of Americans cheer his efforts, believing they will make their lives easier and more rewarding.  Since more than sixty percent of Americans approve of his job performance after four months in office, pursuing his goal to remake America, it is important to understand just what the founding principles of our nation really are.

We will not find a definition of those principles in the Constitution although we do find examples of them.  At the same time, we find several places where the Constitution seems to contradict those principles.  The Constitution is a political document.  As such, it reflects compromises on issues that many of the framers did not agree on. The two most important were those between the federalists and the republicans and between the slave holding states and the anti-slave states.

The founding documents of America are actually three distinct documents written at different times and for different purposes.  They are The Declaration of Independence (1776), The Constitution (1787) and The Bill of Rights (1789).

The Declaration of Independence, often referred to as the nation’s charter, was based on a republican philosophy and contains the founding principles for our form of government.  The first principle is that a legitimate government receives its powers from the people.  The second is that all men are created equal. The third principle is that of unalienable rights endowed by God, not granted by government.  The fourth is that the only purpose of government is to protect those rights in a secure and stable civil society.

During the Revolutionary War, a Federation of the thirteen states was formed to carry out the war and perform other functions of a national nature, under the Articles of Confederation.  The Federation had no taxing powers, no means of regulating commerce between the states, and no mechanism for enforcing laws passed by the Congress.  The Articles of Confederation proved inadequate as a blueprint for governance, and the states authorized a convention in 1787 for the purpose of amending the Articles to correct many of the defects.

The Convention, meeting at Philadelphia, was dominated by Federalists who wanted a strong central government with the states in a subordinate relationship to the federal government, much like the relationship between counties and towns to state governments.  The minority, known as the anti-federalists, was strongly opposed to the Constitution as written.  Fearing it gave too much power to the central government, they demanded a Bill of Rights.  Many of the Founding Fathers we revere today were on opposing sides in the debate.

Federalists Alexander Hamilton, John Adams, and James Madison, among others, were strongly opposed to a Bill of Rights.  Federalist No. 84 by Hamilton was written in opposition, arguing that adding a list of specific rights guaranteed by the Constitution was not only unnecessary but dangerous to the welfare of the union.  Many of the strongest advocates for a Bill of Rights were not delegates to the Convention. Thomas Jefferson was in France on a diplomatic mission during the debates and unable to contribute personally.  However, in a letter to his friend James Madison he expressed a strong concern that the Constitution did not contain a bill of rights.  Patrick Henry, another strong anti-federalist refused to attend the Convention and therefore did not take part in the debates.

However, after the draft of the Constitution was presented to the states for ratification, Henry became one of the dominant leaders in the anti-federalist opposition along with Samuel Adams, and John Hancock of Boston.  Failing in their efforts to get a Bill of Rights included in the Constitution the anti-federalists worked diligently in their state legislatures to secure assurances that a Bill of Rights would be added as amendments to the Constitution as a condition of ratification.  In this, they succeeded.

The discord in the Philadelphia Convention can be seen by comparing the title of the Declaration with the signing statement of the Constitution.  The full title of the Declaration boldly proclaims it to be “The Unanimous Declaration of the Thirteen United States of America”.  By comparison, the Constitution simply says in the last paragraph,

“Done in Convention by the unanimous consent of the states present the seventeenth day of September in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and eighty seven and of the independence of the United States of America the Twelfth in witness whereof we have hereunto subscribed our names.”

This ambiguous wording was drawn up by George Mason and presented by Benjamin Franklin as a way of encouraging delegates to sign the draft and maintain the impression of unanimity on their behalf.  Notice, it is the Convention itself, not the signing of the Constitution that claims the “unanimous consent”.  On the day of signing only 43 delegates representing twelve states were present, including George Washington, President of the Convention and William Jackson, Secretary.  Three of the forty-three delegates that were present refused to sign; hardly a unanimous agreement.

Five states ratified the Constitution shortly after it was presented to the states.  However, it bogged down in Massachusetts.  Only after Samuel Adams and John Hancock had negotiated “the Massachusetts Compromise”, did the Massachusetts Convention vote for ratification. The compromise, recommending amendments to be considered by the new Congress, should the Constitution go into effect allowed delegates to vote for ratification with the prospect of a Bill of Rights being added later.

The Adams-Hancock compromise probably saved the Constitution from certain defeat.  Other states followed their example in their ratifying conventions.  Without the Bill of Rights, there would be no basis in law to protect our rights and restrict the powers of Congress.  The Tenth Amendment is the cornerstone of our founding documents and the basis for the doctrine of “enumerated powers”.  Even with the addition of the Bill of Rights, there were still contradictions between the principles found in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.

These differences were not to be reconciled for another hundred years.  Only after the Civil War at a cost of more than 500,000 lives in battle and the addition of Amendments 13, 14 and 15, was the principle that “all men are created equal” recognized in the Constitution.  Today the Declaration and the Constitution, with its amendments, are in near perfect harmony. Unfortunately, from the beginning, the federal government has seemingly violated the letter and the spirit of the Constitution at will with little if any opposition from the people as a whole.

For the past seventy-five years we have witnessed the wholesale violation of the Constitution by Congresses, courts and Presidents, none more so that our current President and Congress.  When President Obama speaks of “perfecting” the Constitution or “remaking America” he is really talking about discarding the Constitution and tearing down all the traditions and customs that have made America great.

The warning uttered by Benjamin Franklin at the close of the Philadelphia Convention has an ominous ring to it today.

“Sir, I agree to this Constitution with all its faults, if they are such; because I think a general Government necessary for us, and there is no form of Government but what may be a blessing to the people if well administered, and believe farther that this is likely to be well administered for a course of years, and can only end in Despotism, as other forms have done before it, when the people shall become so corrupted as to need despotic Government, being incapable of any other.

Have the American people been so corrupted by the allure of socialism as to be incapable of any form of government other than despotism, as Franklin suggested?  The next few months and years will answer that question for many generations to come.

Forgotten Patriots

liberty-bellEvery schoolchild knows the names, George Washington, Benjamin Franklin and James Madison but few would recognize the names Arthur Fenner, Peleg Arnold or Aedanus Burke. Yet, it is more to the latter than the former to whom we own a debt of gratitude for the remaining liberties we enjoy today.

The foundation of our liberties rest on three documents; the Declaration of Independence that proclaims our status as a free and independent nation; the Constitution that established and empowered a new government; and the Bill of Rights that protects certain unalienable rights and sets the bounds of government beyond which it is not allowed to go.

Most of us erroneously assume that it is the Constitution that limits the scope of government and protects our rights.  It does not.  The Constitution empowers the government and enumerates the powers delegated to it by the people in Article 1, Section 8.  However, it does not specifically state the intent of the Framers that the government is limited to those powers.  History has shown that without that specificity, there is no limit to the powers government will assume for itself.

At the time the Constitution was written the federalists who crafted it assumed that the mere fact that the powers being delegated to the central government were listed would limit the government to those named and future governments would adhere to the wishes of the Founders.  This assumption on the part of the Framers became the number one obstacle to its quick ratification by the states.

Citizens, in the aftermath of the Revolutionary War were suspicious of a central government removed by distance from their close oversight.  Believing the Constitution, as written, did not adequately protect them from the expansive powers of government, they demanded a “Bill of Rights”.  Others feared that the new government would eventually become a “consolidated” government relegating the individual states to the status of provinces subject to the will of the central government instead of sovereign states.

The demand for a Bill of Rights by many of the states became the focus of contention between the federalists who supported the Constitution as written and the anti-federalist who opposed it. Federalist No. 84 by Alexander Hamilton was written in opposition to a Bill of Rights.  In it he argues,

“I go further, and affirm that bills of rights, in the sense and to the extent in which they are contended for, are not only unnecessary in the proposed Constitution, but would even be dangerous. … For why declare that things shall not be done which there is no power to do? Why, for instance, should it be said that the liberty of the press shall not be restrained, when no power is given by which restrictions may be imposed?”

The debate between the federalists and the anti-federalists took place publicly in letters and essays published in newspapers throughout the states.  The writings of the federalists are preserved in the Federalist Papers and have enjoyed widespread circulation throughout our history.  The writings of the anti-federalists, which are just a numerous, have been neglected for the most part, except by historians and scholars.  Only recently, have they begun to be available to the general public on a widespread basis.

The most well-known anti-federalist was perhaps Patrick Henry who refused to attend the Constitutional Convention because he “smelt a rat in Philadelphia, tending toward a monarchy.” Henry is considered to be one of the leaders of the anti-federalists.  Melancton Smith, Richard Henry Lee, George Mason and George Clinton are also well-known anti-federalists.

One of the most vocal was Arthur Fenner of Rhode Island.  Rhode Island was so opposed to the Constitution it refused to send delegates.  Fenner’s opposition to the Constitution was so popular with Rhode Islanders they elected him to the office of Governor in 1790 where he served until his death in 1805.  Rhode Island was the last of the thirteen states to ratify the Constitution.  The final vote was 34 to 32 in favor of ratification and came just three weeks after Fenner was named Governor.

Fenner and the other anti-federalist did not succeed in getting a Bill of Rights before the Constitution was ratified, but they did succeed in getting a promise that a Bill of Rights would be added by the first Congress.  True to its word, a Bill of Rights was introduced in the First Congress in 1789 by James Madison and ratified by the states in 1791.  Thomas Jefferson was one of the strongest supporters of a Bill of Rights although he was out of the country during the Philadelphia Convention and for much of the following debate concerning ratification.

It is to the Tenth Amendment in the Bill of Rights that we owe whatever restraints we have over the federal government.  Without the Tenth Amendment which says, “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”, we would, no doubt, have lapsed into tyranny generations ago.  It is this amendment that gives legal authority to the “enumerated powers” doctrine.

History and current events have shown that the forgotten patriots, known as the anti-federalists, who gave us the Bill of Rights, were well justified in their fears and reveals their wisdom and judgment to be equal to, if not superior to the federalist who gave us the Constitution. Even today, the statists who are, in many ways the philosophical descendents of the early federalist, continue to struggle against the Tenth Amendment.

Obama Claims Victory Over Christianity

minute-man-2-lithoPresident Obama wound up his European apology tour on Monday with a speech to a group of students in Turkey where he announced that America is no longer a Christian nation.  The evidence is that his proclamation of “mission accomplished” is a little premature.  I say “mission accomplished” because for generations one of the core missions of the socialist movement in America has been the suppression of the Christian message and the influence of our Judeo-Christian heritage.

Efforts by the left to suppress Christianity are on the same level as its effort to dismantle capitalism and corrupt the traditional American culture.  They have made impressive gains in all three areas, but we have not yet surrendered.  In fact “we have not yet begun to fight.”  America is a Christian country, always has been and hopefully always will be.  The dominant religion is overwhelmingly Christian, with 3 out of 4 Americans professing Christianity.

In the 2008 American Religious Identification Survey of 54,461 American households, 76% self-identified as Christian, 3.9% self-identified as non-Christian with 5.2% refusing to respond or did not know.  Only 15% claimed to have no religion.  Those who self-identified as agnostic or atheist made up 1.6% of the survey group.

The Christian makeup of America is not new.  The migration of colonists from Europe to America in the seventeenth century was primarily in search of religious liberty, or at least, the freedom to practice their own religion without persecution or interference.  The Declaration of Independence appeals to the “Laws of Nature”, and “Nature’s God”.  The Constitution concludes with the date as the “Year of Our Lord”.  The first article in our “Bill of Rights” guarantees the freedom of religion.  Religion and Christianity has always been an integral part of the American experience and it is today.

Opposition to our Judeo-Christian heritage has increased in tandem with the spread of Socialists philosophy during the twentieth century.  Socialism seeks to replace the Christian’s reliance on God with a reliance on the state.  To accomplish this it disguises its message with the vernacular of Christianity.  It speaks of compassion, healing the sick, feeding the hungry, promoting peace, and raising up the downtrodden, while it delivers scarcity, oppression, intolerance, class envy and strife.  In the name of compassion it destroys families and ambition.  In the name of the common good it robs us of our labor. For our own safety, it tramples on our liberties.

With Orwellian “double-speak” it distorts the language so that nothing is as it seems.  Our Constitution, in the hands of the socialist, becomes the implement of our destruction.  No part of the Constitution has proven more effective in the suppression of Christianity than the First Amendment which was intended by the founders to accomplish the opposite.

The American Civil Liberties Union and Americans for the Separation of Church and State have misused the First Amendment to force Christianity into the shadows and out of the public square.  This certainly was not the intention of the Founders.  The First Amendment differs from the other Amendments in the Bill of Rights.  The subject of Amendments, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 and 9 protects the people’s rights as individuals.  Amendment 10 confirms the sovereignty of the states and the people.  Amendment 1, on the other hand, speaks of the limitations placed on the federal government, particularly the Congress.

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting
the free exercise thereof;”

The first Amendment prohibits the federal government from any involvement in matters of religion, period.  The restriction on the federal government regarding religion however, did not apply to the sates.  Thomas Jefferson spoke of this fact in his second inaugural address;

“In matters of religion, I have considered that its free exercise is placed by the Constitution independent of the powers of the general government. I have therefore undertaken on no occasion to prescribe the religious exercises suited to it; but have left them as the Constitution found them, under the direction and discipline of State or Church authorities acknowledged by the several religious societies.”  Jefferson’s Second Inaugural Address, 1805

Three years later he expressed the same principle in a letter to Samuel Miller, 1808

“I consider the government of the United States as interdicted by the Constitution from intermeddling with religious institutions, their doctrines, discipline, or exercises. This results not only from the provision that no law shall be made respecting the establishment or free exercise of religion, but from that also which reserves to the states the powers not delegated to the United States…”  “…It must then rest with the states, as far as it can be in any human authority.”    ~Thomas Jefferson

George Washington expressed his view of religion in public life in his Farewell Address in 1796.

“Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports. In vain would that man claim the tribute of patriotism, who should labor to subvert these great pillars of human happiness, these firmest props of the duties of men and citizens.”

The evidence is that the need for religion is a part of human nature.  Every society from the beginning of time, civilized or uncivilized, has worshiped some type of deity. In America it has been the God of the Judeo-Christian tradition, and it has served us well.  America has a secular government, but it is not a godless nation.  America is also a Christian nation.  If the left succeeds in eradicating Christianity from our public discourse, it will be replaced by something else.

That is the objective of socialism.  It does not really seek to eliminate religion per se, it seeks to replace the worship of the Jewish and Christian God with worship of the Mythological Goddess “Gaia”, goddess of the earth and the Communist/Socialist God, the “State“. There can be no doubt that we are moving in that direction, as we witness the deterioration of our culture and the dwindling of our liberty, changes that can be traced to our abandonment of the principles on which our nation was founded, including those held by our Christian forefathers.  Today may be a good day for repentance.  God bless America.

Congress Wants To Know What You Bought From E-Bay

It seems congress is only interested in the right to privacy when they believe they can make it appear the Bush administration is violating that right. The right to privacy is great when it allows a woman to kill her baby, and it’s great when it allows America’s enemies to plot their next terrorist act in secret. But when it comes to the privacy rights of the average American citizen? We-e-l-l-l, that’s a little different.

After all, there are some things the government simply must know about its citizens in order to make sure it is getting its share of the fruits of American labor. And then, how is Congress going to know whether or not businesses are taking advantage of their customers by charging too much and actually profiting from the sale of their product or service? There’s always the chance too, that unscrupulous marketers are going to sell us something that we really don’t need or that might even be bad for us.

Yes, watching over the American public to prevent us from facing the consequences of the boneheaded decisions we make is a thankless job, but someone has to do it. Who, better than our faithful servants in Washington?

Look at all the people who purchased homes with mortgages requiring monthly payments practically guaranteed to increase until they reached an unmanageable level. When someone gets into financial trouble, it seems natural they would turn to a rich uncle to help them out, doesn‘t it? And who is richer than Uncle Sam? And, if Uncle Sam is going to provide money to help someone smooth over bad decisions, isn’t it only fair that he should be allowed to look into their affairs so that they do not keep repeating the same mistakes?

At least, that’s how Congress looks at it. Tucked away in the Senate’s 630-page mortgage bailout package presently wending its way through Congress, is a little item everyone should find interesting. Included in the bill, is a last minute addition called: “Payment Card and Third Party Network Information Reporting”.

According to the official Senate summary of the bill, “the proposal requires information reporting on payment card and third party network transactions. Payment settlement entities, including merchant acquiring banks and third party settlement organizations, or third party payment facilitators acting on their behalf, will be required to report the annual gross amount of reportable transactions to the IRS and to the participating payee“.

For plain folk like you and me, perhaps some clarification might be in order. What the heck is a “payment card“? What is a “payment settlement entity”? What’s a “third party settlement organization”? “Payment card” is Washington jargon for what you and I refer to as “credit cards”. Payment settlement entities, organizations and facilitators are card issuing banks and companies like Visa, Master Card, Discover Card and PayPal.

According to Adam Brandon at Freedom Works, the bill is targeted primarily at e-Bay, Amazon and other e-merchants, but also takes in other businesses accepting Master Card, Visa, etc. It’s a little unclear exactly what Congress intends to do with the information it gathers, but it’s certain that one of its outcomes will be a tighter control over the economy and a further decline in our liberties. Once again, we have a concrete example of Congress’ ignorance of and/or antipathy toward our Constitution.

The anti-federalists of 1787-91 forced the first Congress to add the Bill of Rights as an addendum to the Constitution. Amendment No. 4 provides that,

“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“.

You do not have to be a Harvard Law graduate to understand that “papers” would include documents and papers pertaining to our business transactions whether written on papyrus, paper, animal hides, tree bark or the Ethernet/Internet. Such records are private and can only be legally obtained by government with a warrant. Things are really out of “whack” when the Democrats want trial lawyers to be able to sue communication networks for providing the government with possible information concerning terrorist’s communications following the 9/11 attacks, but sees nothing wrong with requiring Banks and Credit Card companies to report the book purchases we make on Amazon.Com.

It’s time to follow Freedom Works advice and “Call Congress and tell them to oppose the eBay reporting provision in the Housing Bill: 1-866-928-3035”.

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