Friday, July 31, 2009

Hush Money

Ok, I think I get it now. It's taken a bit of time to think it through, and I'm not the sharpest knife in the drawer, but I finally think I've worked it out.

When my kiddies (all grown now) were little, we, like most parents, bribed them to show good behavior. On a trip to Wal-Mart or a 'boring' visit with Daddies or Mommies friends, to try to elicit good behavior, we would do things like saying, "Now, if you'll just be good, we'll go get some ice cream when we're done", or maybe, "If you are really a good boy today, we'll get you a toy at the store. Just please be nice." Then, when the little-one started getting jumpy, or crabby while we were trying to have an adult conversation with OUR friends, we'd look at them and say, "Now remember - we won't get you a toy if you don't be good". This usually had the effect of at least reducing the bad behavior to a tolerable level. Sometimes we would go even further and buy the toy BEFORE the activity in the hopes that it would buy us some peace in advance.

Well, you'd think that as adults that we'd be past needing this, or at the very least see through it for what it is. When the federal government offered money to the states, to the car companies, to the banks, it was hush money. There is an implicit bargain being drawn here: If you don't do things our way, we can punish you because you agreed you'd be 'good' when we gave you this money.

Obviously, this isn't new. Remember the federally mandated 55 mph speed limit? The federal government said to the states, "you can have any speed limit you want, but if it's higher than 55 mph, you will get no matching federal funds for your highway system". And if you remember, virtually every state in the union went along with it, even though it was OUR money, the money paid by citizens in every state that built the danged thing.

The key to virtually all of the power-grab by Washington is Article 1, section 8, clause 3 of the Constitution. This is the Interstate Commerce Clause. Basically, this clause says something like, "The Congress shall have power... to regulate commerce with foreign nations, and among the several states, and with the Indian tribes." Prior to around 1887, the understanding of 'commerce' was that it was basically nothing more than trade. However, due to several court cases, the meaning of commerce has been greatly expanded, until today, just about anything can affect more than one state and is considered commerce. Courts have found that not only is it trade between states, but also, communication between states (for example, the phone companies and the internet), and even laws like abortion and gay marriage, because they can have an impact on people in more than one state.

For example, in the gay marriage debate, the argument that this should be a federal law is that if a couple is married in a state that recognizes gay marriage, but then wants to go to another state that doesn't recognize gay marriage, then things like health insurance, tax deductions and the like may no longer apply to the couple. This is one of the reasons why Roe -v- Wade was bad law. It was assumed that people who can't get an abortion in their own state, would go to another state, and therefore, fall into the category of interstate commerce. Therefore, the federal government could take the right away from the state and make it a federal requirement that all states perform abortions, and that if they don't agree, they will lose huge amounts of federal dollars for healthcare.

In nearly all cases like this, that is the stick attached to the carrot. If you don't accept our power over you, we will beat you with the stick (take away federal money). So the problem is two-fold:

1. The states all want/need the money the federal government gives them
2. The states are willing to cede power to the federal government to get that money

So... in the words of the prince in 'Robin-hood, Men In TIghts', "What to do, what to do...". The only way this will change and that power will ultimately flow back to the states is for one of a couple of things to happen:

1. The states decide they won't take the money anymore. This isn't really practical. I'll explain why in a minute.
2. The states (in particular, the representatives of those states) decide that the power must reside with the state and repeal virtually every law that does not directly impact interstate COMMERCE.

Both of these things will lead to some pain. The main reason is that somewhere along the way, the money meter got turned over the wrong way. Today, the federal government takes the lion's share of our money in taxes by a huge margin. Since power was originally to remain with the states, you'd kind of expect that you'd give most of your money to the state, and a small amount to the federal government. Your state would pick up the tab for things that impacted its residents and the fed would pick up the tab for those few things that truly were interstate commerce related. This would shift the use of the collected tax money to the benefit of the people of the state, rather than taking it to Washington so it can be 'porked' back out to the states.

So, how does this happen? Well, for one thing, we have to convince those who are running for national political office that they are REPRESENTATIVES of the people in their states. Just like the upside down tax system, people who go to represent us in Washington must keep their 'feet' in the state they come from. It seems to me that as soon as a congressman or senator arrives in Washington, they believe they are part of something other than their state - the federal government becomes its own entity, almost a state of its own, and not an extension of the desires and needs of the people who should be served by the fed. Every bill must be viewed as a possible intrusion on the rights of the states, and not on the benefit of being a federal law! This is crucial and is ultimately at the core of nearly all of the problems that we see in this truly wonderful country of ours.

What makes this even more difficult to deal with and hard to change is that we have, through television, magazines, books, government schools... you name it... indoctrinated our citizenry that the source of all power emanates from Washington. When was the last time you read a textbook that espoused the idea that the state should have all of the power and that the federal government ruled at the behest of the state? In most books, the idea of the state is just a quaint way to be able to name a flower or a bird as the symbol of that state. It's funny, but other than having to name the state flower of Mississippi, or to list the counties in the state or maybe the names of some character from its past, I can't really recall much else about WHY there was a state at all.

So where does this leave us? Here is my list of things that need to be done to free ourselves from the oppression of the federal government:

1. We MUST remember that we (the states, the people) are the most important unit of this country. The fed isn't the parent! We are!
2. We (the people) need to demand that our states re-assert their authority over the federal government
3. We need to back away from the bribes and hush money that the fed uses to enslave us
4. We must elect people who will return the power to the states

Only then are we actually being responsible!

Some thoughts on Rights...

I was mulling over the 'Bill of Rights' and something came to me that I think is quite profound. These are rights (I can hear you saying 'Doh' - stick with me here)! How would you answer me if I asked you the following question:

"If tomorrow there were no first amendment to the constitution, would we, as individuals, still consider that we had a 'right' to free speech, free religion and free assembly?"

I think the answer is a resounding YES! Americans believe that these are ultimately inalienable rights that come from some place greater than ourselves (to some, God; to some, maybe just because we exist). This is so basic that it seems infantile to even discuss it, but there are some very important ideas embodied in this concept:

1. The Constitution and its amendments are there ONLY to limit government.
2. The only reason ANY of this needs to be written down and codified into law is that GOVERNMENTS have an irritating habit of becoming destructive of the rights of their citizens.

The truth of all of this is that freedom is a HUMAN right, whether of religion, ownership of firearms, speech, assembly or whatever. Therefore, when our president makes a comment that the Constitution is a list of 'negative rights', your skin should crawl. In essence, he's saying that the constitution is establishing the LIMITS on the freedoms we have and that the reason we have those freedoms is because the Constitution says so. When the 2nd amendment says that the right of the people to keep and bear arms in support of a well-regulated militia shall not be infringed, those who believe that the Constitution is a document of 'negative rights' would say that the militia is the ONLY reason that there should be gun ownership. If the government decides that something is not a militia, then the people don't have the right. Any other reason to own firearms could be construed to be counter to the constitution. We are getting pulled into the wrong side of the argument when we have to defend our 'right' to gun ownership. It's a right. End of story (I know; it's not that simple, but it should be). It's not forbidden in the founding documents of our society, and those documents make it clear that, in the case of the United States, those rights come from a benevolent and loving God, not from man or any of his constructs. Therefore, if we agree to continue to be citizens of this nation, we are agreeing that the design of our nation is that, from the perspective of the United States we are all born free with certain inalienable rights given by God and not by man and that our government is limited, not our people.

It's easy to get drawn into the other side's debate about things like what the Constitution says and doesn't say. The reality is that when you get right down to it, the only reason that the Constitution even matters and exists is to prevent the government from infringing on the rights that we already have. The PEOPLE don't really need a constitution to exist except as protection. The government does. The preamble to the Constitution clearly lays out the entire purpose of the Constitution. It was "...ordain(ed) and establish(ed)" to set the rules by which the government interacts with its citizens, not the other way around. Laws within the framework of the Constitution are instituted among men to maintain order and punish those who stray outside of the lines our society and God have established. But the Constitution is specifically to limit government. In the case of the bill of rights, it was to even further limit and define government's role. Have you ever read this line: "THE Conventions of a number of the States, having at the time of their adopting the Constitution, expressed a desire, in order to prevent misconstruction or abuse of its powers, that further declaratory and restrictive clauses should be added: And as extending the ground of public confidence in the Government, will worst ensure the beneficent starts of its institution". Me either. This is the introduction to the Bill of Rights saying that these amendments were to restrict our government even more!

So here's the meat: This means that from the perspective of the citizen, there should NEVER be a question of what our freedoms and rights are. They just are. The only entity that requires reminding is the government. The 2nd amendment doesn't, as most people believe, GIVE you the right to bear arms. It prevents the government from deciding you don't have the RIGHT to bear arms. That's a HUGE difference since we believe that we already have the RIGHT to bear arms. Believing that it gives you the right means you believe that the Constitution is made up of negative rights. The first amendment does NOT say that it's ok for us to establish and exercise our religious preferences and have a free press. It says that the GOVERNMENT can't take that right away from us or even infringe on it. The difference is subtle, but makes all the difference in a free society. We've somehow managed to come to believe that the argument from the other side has merit enough for us to have to defend THEIR definition of our rights. This is insidious and destructive. If we GIVE the government the authority to decide what rights we have, then the Constitution becomes our jail cell, and the government our jailer, doling out freedoms to those they deem worthy.

The only way that we are truly free is by electing those who would agree with the stance that we already have the rights, not that they are there to define those rights, and who will appoint judges who also agree with this stand. When I was a kid, there was a song that played on the radio called, "Helen Wheels". They actually printed that name on the label. The words of the song were ACTUALLY "Hell on Wheels", but at that time, it wasn't allowed to say the word 'Hell' on the radio except maybe as part of a sermon being broadcast from a church. The camel is now nearly fully in the tent - very few words are not allowed on radio, and we have been desensitized to hearing them. The same is true of the freedoms we inherited. While we can still drive around and go out to eat and go to church and congregate, we now need 'permits' to have a regular church meeting in a house, or a protest march or to 'finish' part of a basement in a house that we own. We require a child's lemonade stand to pay taxes and in some places, again to get permits. We are forced to pay taxes to support things (abortion for example) that we don't believe in, that should never have been done at the government level in the first place. Overflowing septic systems are deemed 'wetlands' forcing homeowners to not fix the problems. Housing subdivisions frequently won't allow the display of the American flag. These things have been done in the name of protecting and serving the people, but each tiny item whittles away the freedom to own something, make it your own and build it into something you can be proud of.

The same is happening to our Constitution. Thankfully, we are still (for now) free to stand up for it!

The Bigger Issue of the Beer Summit...

The real issue with President Obama’s comments about the Crowley/Gates issue goes WAY beyond race. Over the last six months, conservatives (and probably many non-conservatives) have wondered just where our President is leading us. We’ve watched as an almost never-ending flood of new programs, ideas, bills, laws and concepts literally gushed from our television sets as the media struggled to find the time to tell us even a little bit about them. So much ‘change’ has come our way that many folks have actually stopped listening to the news because they feel overwhelmed and don’t know what to think about it all.

The bigger issue, finally, is beginning to emerge: Obama is way out of his depth. Many of us have known this since before he was elected, but it’s now very clear. If Obama can’t control his tongue in a pre-arranged press conference where he almost certainly knew the questions ahead of time, what will happen when he meets with leaders of other countries? We have suspected for a long time that he was a true neophyte at diplomacy, but since we, the little people, aren’t really allowed into the inner sanctum of the meetings between heads-of-state, we have only rumors of his… uh, um… performance problems. Now, I think we can say with certainty that our president is almost certainly unfit for the office of President. Here are the key things I think this entire episode has taught me:

1. Obama is not ‘world-class’. When you are a private citizen talking to your friends or family about things in the news, you can get away with saying just about anything. As private citizens, we have freedom of speech. If you’ve ever been in the military, you know that you give up some of those freedoms when you agree to wear the uniform. The President is no different: He MUST put the country (and whether the President agrees or not, that includes us white folks) before his personal feelings. And if his personal feelings are interfering, he should step aside and let others who can do so with a clear head do the job (although I shudder to think about Biden as President…).

2. Obama is a loose cannon. This also applies to our vice-President. These guys don’t know when to keep their mouths shut. Some will find it ironic that I’m talking about this since this is one of my own failings, but, as our president said, “This isn’t about me”. It is axiomatic in virtually every relationship, whether personal, professional or political, that it is far more important what you do NOT say, than what you DO say. The President injected himself into a local issue, putting his own biases and, dare I say it – prejudices – into the discussion. This tells both our allies and our enemies a tremendous amount about the man who occupies the White House. Unfortunately, what it tells them is not good. It shows a weakness that we must not portray. We live in interesting and dangerous times, and weakness, real or perceived, can lead to tragedy and loss of life for our citizens.

3. Obama wants to change society in a fundamentally racist way. What does this mean? It means that I believe that the evidence points to a strong desire to elevate blacks over whites at any cost. I have no problem having a black President or a black boss or black friends. I have never been bothered by people of any color (including white) in positions of power unless it became obvious that they were incompetent at their jobs. In those cases, I believe we all reserve the right to consider the unfit person to be a moron who shouldn’t be in the position. I have over the years strongly supported people like Colin Powell, Clarence Thomas, Thomas Sowell, Ken Blackwell, Condoleezza Rice and Alan Keys (still my favorite presidential candidate of all time after President Ronald Regan). What I see happening today is a radical push to ultimately change our society in an effort to ‘right’ the wrongs of the past. Reparations are just not enough and never will be to those on the left who push racial division rather than racial healing. Rather than attaining power by earning it, it seems, once again, that liberalism is out to correct racism by flipping things over so that whites are oppressed in the same way that blacks were. However, in the words of my mother, “two wrongs don’t make a right” (ok, so she didn’t come up with it – you get my point, right?). Creating racism against whites can never make up for racism against blacks. The ONLY way to ultimately end racism and make our nation truly color blind is to accept each other as we are. If America freely elects Americans who are blacks, whites, Latinos or any other skin color to lead our great nation, then God bless us all – it’s freedom at its best! Destroying our society by generating NEW racial hatred against whites does no one any good.

4. Obama is a racist. This is a direct follow-on to the previous point. I’m certainly going to get into trouble over this one, but hear me out. We live in a society where a black man can wear a T-Shirt in the mall that says “Black Power” but a white man can’t wear a T-Shirt that says “White Power”. While on temporary duty in the Military at Andrews Air Force Base a few years ago, at the Base Exchange (like an on-base Wal-Mart for the military folks), I saw T-Shirts being sold that said, “It’s a black thing. You wouldn’t understand”. I was stunned. This seemed incredibly offensive, and I immediately wondered what would have happened to a white Airman who would dare to wear a shirt that said, “It’s a white thing. You wouldn’t understand”. I can tell you with almost perfect clarity: They would have been hauled into their commander’s office and by the time all was said and done, the poor guy would have likely lost a stripe or possibly been booted out with less than an honorable discharge. He would have been branded a racist (and rightly so). But why, if that Airman was black, would not a peep be said by anyone and why would he not be thought of as a racist? On a side note, I don’t think I know ANY white people who would WANT to wear that shirt, and I’d like to think that most of the black people I know would be sensitive enough of their white brothers to not wear one either. I think that the main reason for this is that most people of any race that I’ve met in my life want to actually get along with folks who aren’t the same color as them. We all are, mostly, wanting desperately to live in a color-blind society. The problem is that, whether it’s true or not, it certainly appears that people like Mr. Obama do NOT want this. They want racial division. Otherwise, why else would these folks work so hard to hurt racial relationships. Don’t believe me? Here’s the truth about what I just wrote: If a black person had written this paragraph, it would not bother anyone other than maybe a liberal black activist; but I can just about guarantee that someone out there will be offended by what I just said and label me a racist for saying it. I’m not. My intent is not to hurt because of race – it is to salve the wound and protect it until it heals.

By the way, I want to take a moment and whack the mole that is ‘Reverse Racism’. I’ve heard this idiotic meme for years. If racism can apply to more than one race (anyone remember hearing how we Americans act in a racist way toward Muslims, Indians (American or Eastern), Asians and just about everyone else in the world we meet?), how is it possible that this word can’t be applied to actions against whites? This is just rubbish. Racism is not based on actions of a single race (whites) against another (blacks); it ultimately is the negative action of any race against any OTHER race BASED on race! The idea that black people can’t be racist is as nonsensical saying that only whites can be racists. A racist is a racist. Period. If you are black and you hate whites BECAUSE they are white, you are a racist. If you are a white who hates blacks BECAUSE they are black, you are a racist. If you act WITH INTENT to harm someone because of their color, you are a racist, and that applies to anyone. As near as I can tell, if you are a ‘reverse racist’ this MUST mean that you are as far from a racist as you can be since the reverse of a racist is a non-racist, right?????

So, where does this leave us? If Mr. Gates had been white, and everything else were the same, would we be hearing about this episode? Maybe – because Mr. Gates is a personal friend of the president. So, if Mr. Gates were a white man, and every single other ‘fact’ of this case were the same, and the president had been asked about his friend being arrested, would he have been willing to comment? Of course not. Therefore, I can only conclude that it was important to our President to pour gasoline on the race fire. This is the normal mode of operation for the black radical left. When you want to heal something, you don’t rip off the scab! You let it heal. You apply salve and you cover and protect the wound.

In the context of race, this would mean looking for ways to defuse the situation, not to take a blow-torch to that fuse. It would mean finding ways to prove that it was NOT race related and to work very hard to show how honorable the intentions of the police were. Unfortunately, I don’t think that President Obama’s performance with people like the King of Saudi Arabia or the President of Russia or the Queen and Prime Minister of England have shown us any better ability to deal with the political aspects of international relations than he has with racial relations here in the U.S. We have, unfortunately, hired a lightweight to fight our heavy-weight bout. At this point in history, that may likely prove to be the absolute worst choice we could have made.