Charlie’s Corner

Charlie's tag

This afternoon I ran up to the store to pick up some extra cooking oil for our fish fry (the kids and Grandpa slayed them yesterday) and the weather just happened to roll in while I was out. On the way home, visibility was probably about 50 meters; and as I came down the big hill to the house I saw a young man walking up the road in the pouring rain, wearing swim trunks and water shoes, so I stopped.

He walked up to the window and said that he and some friends were floating down the river when the rain arrived, so he was walking to get his truck and relieve everyone from the weather. He then asked if I could give him a ride to said truck and added that “he would do me no harm.”

It gave me a chuckle. My first thought was, “Dude, you’re the vulnerable one, if anyone is Zed in this scenario, it isn’t you.” My second thought was, “What kind of a messed up society requires a person in need to immediately and fundamentally assure someone they are not a threat?”

Needless to say, the river doth wind and he was completely confused. I gave him a ride the full 20 miles (round trip) to his truck and even found his friends. I so enjoyed seeing them all safely delivered to their transportation. The question still lingers, what kind of society requires someone in need and vulnerable to assure a good Samaritan they are not a danger?

It saddens me.

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I’ll Take my Chances With that Coffin

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You know all those memes that are floating around all over the place, right? Some of them, especially the political ones are less than accurate. In fact, MANY of the political ones are. Well, there is a quote that has been wrongly attributed to Ben Franklin and paraphrased many different ways that goes something like this: “He who sacrifices freedom for security deserves neither.” Here is an example:

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Ben Franklin didn’t say that. He as much as admitted he didn’t say it in a letter to a colleague. The more interesting story is that the phrase first appeared back in November of 1755, twenty years before the Declaration of Independence, in a letter from the Pennsylvania Assembly (in which Ben Franklin served) to the Governor of Pennsylvania. In it, they were addressing concerns of protecting the people on the frontier from unfriendlies and said “Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.” In 1755.

In yesterday’s post, we talked about the PATRIOT Act. We talked about how it is possibly the worst assault on the Bill of Rights since the time of Lincoln. It was passed while our nation was in a panic, under the guise of “protecting us against terrorism.” Many Americans, like the colonists before them, are not willing to give up individual liberties for personal safety. If only members of Congress would pay attention to what Americans actually want.

A section of that piece of legislation is coming up soon for renewal. While some people in politics, like Rand Paul, aren’t so keen on it, others believe that the PATRIOT Act is the best thing since sliced bread. Take Former Governor Jeb Bush, possibly soon to be running for president, for example. He has said that he believes the NSA surveillance of Americans should continue and that it’s the “best part of the Obama Administration.” Senator Marco Rubio, who also plans to announce soon a run for the presidency, has called for the the PA to be reauthorized. Have either one of these men read the Bill of Rights? Do they know what it says? Better yet, have they talked to the American people? Obviously not.

But I digress.

I saw an article today on remarks made by New Jersey Governor Chris Christie at a town hall forum held in New Hampshire. I’m not sure what the governor of New Jersey was doing in a town hall meeting in New Hampshire, but apparently, he hasn’t read the Bill or Rights either. And apparently he thinks the PA is an awesome thing.

In his remarks he stated the 9/11 attacks stole Americans’ liberty. I’ve got some news for Governor Christie: It wasn’t the attacks that stole our liberty. It was what our government did afterward by passing the PATRIOT Act that stole it.

He urged for more funding and support to increase the U.S. capabilities to prevent terror attacks. More funding? For more agencies to trample all over the Bill of Rights? No, thank you, Mr. Christie. We will take a pass.

He said, “There are going to be some who are going to come before you and going to say ‘Oh, no, no, this is not what the founders intended.’ The founders made sure that the first obligation of the American government was to protect the lives of the American people.” Holy crap. Is he for real? But wait. Jeb Bush said almost the exact same thing in a interview. He said in his comments about the NSA surveillance being Obama’s finest hour, “Even though he (Obama) never defends it, even though he never openly admits it, there has been a continuation of a very important service, which is the first obligation I think of our national government is to keep us safe,”

That’s hysterical. The “best part of the Obama administration”, yet Obama himself never mentions it? Hmm. I wonder why that is? Could it be that he never mentions it because it shreds the Bill of Rights to pieces? Oh, wait. Maybe it’s because it wasn’t passed initially during the OBAMA ADMINISTRATION.

The founders were of the opinion that the government should do nothing more than leave the American people alone. If you read our post from yesterday, you know that Section 215 alone of the USA PATRIOT Act has the founders turning over in their graves and looking for their muskets. They dumped tea in the Boston Harbor over a tax of three pence per pound, for crying out loud. What the hell do you think they would do over the PATRIOT Act???

Okay. Back to Chris Christie. Do you know what else he said? Are you ready for this? You should probably sit down. He added, “You can’t enjoy your civil liberties if you’re in a coffin.” I’ll just let that sink in. I’ll be over here.

I don’t even have any words that I can use in response to that. I’m afraid that I would offend some delicate sensibilities if I said what I truly thought about that statement.

But I will say this. I’ll take my chances with that coffin, Mr. Christie, if it means that the Bill of Rights will be in full effect again before I die.

Rolling Over in Their Graves

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Judge Napolitano asked the question: “What if the rights and principles guaranteed in the constitution have been so distorted in the past 200 years as to be unrecognizable by the founders?”

We don’t have room here to write a book, and that’s what it would take to thoroughly reply to the question, so we’ll limit ourselves to easy targets; The Bill of Rights vs. The USA PATRIOT Act. It’s a no-brainer. We’ve talked about the PATRIOT Act before. It is perhaps the single most worst thing to happen to the Bill of Rights since Lincoln’s War.

1A: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

Patriot Act: Section 215 blows these rights out of the water. The FBI (or any government “agency”) can, without even a shred of evidence of wrong-doing, spy on, bug, and infiltrate any religious or political organization. Goodbye “the free exercise thereof”. So long “freedom of speech”. And, if you decide to get together with others “to petition the Government for a redress of grievances”, expect to have Big Brother watching, closely. But wait, you say? They would only do such a thing to protect us from terrorists. They would only bug or watch organizations with known terrorist ties. They would never bug the Baptist Church on Main Street in my town. But don’t you see? There is nothing to stop them from doing just that. All under the guise of protecting us from terrorists.

2A: “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

Patriot Act: Well, okay, guns and gun owners are not specifically mentioned in the Act. It’s not like they even needed to, with all the other power they’ve grabbed. They can squash militias or gun shops, or anything they want. Let’s imagine that you’re a gun club owner or member, or own a firing range, or are a firearms retailer, and you make any kind of right wing comment on Facebook. It will take exactly zero point four seconds before you find yourself on some alphabet agency’s watch list. Doesn’t that just give you a warm fuzzy feeling? And if you’re part of a militia? The Act’s expansion of the definition of terrorism lets the Feds include just about anything they want to under that umbrella.

3A: “No Soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the Owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law.”

Patriot Act: The 3A is one of the few rights that gets a pass here. Unless you count commandeering your house so they can spy on your neighbor. They can do that now.

4A: “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.”

Patriot Act: I cannot even begin to tell you how totally canceled this is. The Feds, under the Act, can go where they want, snatch what they want – including YOU – any time they want. If they think they might need a warrant to help cover their asses later, they’ve got a pool of anonymous tame judges who’ll give them any paper they want, any time they want. They can grab you out of your bed, take you to a secret location and keep you as long as they want. No phone calls, no lawyer, no habeas corpus, no trial. They can tap your phone, read your mail, sneak into your house and search it without you even knowing it. Oh, and did I mention this popular idea they’ve got that walking around with too much cash makes you a potential terrorist, so they can just take it? Yeah. Civil Forfeiture, they call it. Seriously. Go to the bank, draw out two or three grand, get in your car and head to Vegas: but don’t count on getting there. They can stop you, take the cash, take your car, and leave you standing by the side of the road if they want to. Because you’re suspicious.

5A: “No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.”

Patriot Act: See above, re: 4A. Add; and if they don’t get an indictment or a conviction the first time, they can keep working at it until they do.

6A: In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defence.

Patriot Act: Again, go back and read the part about 4A. They can snatch you, lock you up forever if they want to. No communication, no lawyer, no trial, no confronting your accusers. You just disappear.

7A: In suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury, shall be otherwise re-examined in any court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law.

Patriot Act: I don’t know. Somehow the Feds missed this one. Maybe it’s the “common law” thing. And twenty bucks? Who cares about $20 these days? When the Constitution was written, $20 was a month’s wages for a laborer. The Feds spend more than that for pizza delivery while they’re staking out your house, listening to their bugs, waiting for you to cuss out Obama while you watch Fox News.

8A: Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.

Patriot Act: Hmmph. I think maybe “held without bail” qualifies as “excessive”. Stealing the money out of your bank account because it’s “suspicious” might be called an “excessive fine”. Locking you up forever without a trial is kind of “cruel” – too bad it’s not unusual any more.

9A: The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

Patriot Act: Don’t make me laugh.

10A: 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.

Patriot Act: I don’t know about you, but I’m exhausted. My snark bucket is empty. I’m floating in a pool of bitter irony. I can’t even process it.

Do you think the Founders would recognize things today? I think they are rolling over in their graves, trying to find their muskets. 

It is the responsibility of the patriot to protect his country from its government. – Thomas Paine

How to Sum up Betrayal in Two Paragraphs

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See, here’s the long and the short of it. I’ve used the word “fiat” a few times in previous articles. We need to talk about that some more, because it fits in with everything else we’ve discussed. In fact, it’s really the heart of everything else.

“Fiat” is just another word for “worthless”; a thing of no value. Unless it’s referring to one of those cute little Italian cars – then it’s got value. Otherwise, nada. Zip. Zero. A thing of no value.

Federal Reserve Notes, like that dollar bill in your pocket, are “fiat” currency. They have nothing of value behind them. They don’t represent a dollar’s worth of any real thing, like gold or silver. They’re “notes”. They’re commonly referred to as FRNs.

The only way fiat currency can exist is if the people (that’s us, you and me) are forced, at gunpoint, to use it. The most important way D.C. forces us to use FRNs is to demand we use them to pay our mandatory income taxes. Here’s an experiment for you: Next year, come April 15th, saunter into your local IRS office and offer them a few bushels of new string beans out of your garden as payment on your taxes. See how far that gets you. Or maybe you just got back from your annual European vacation and still have some Swiss francs you’d like to get rid of. Try paying your taxes with them. Go ahead, I’ll wait. Good luck with that.

The sneaky way they get around giving most of us a chance to think about this is the W4; the “Employee’s Withholding Allowance Certificate”. By stealing it from you a little at a time – in FRNs – you don’t get sticker shock come April. Also, since most people are deathly afraid of the IRS, we tend to over-pay on that W4, so we have a “refund” due at the end of year. And we get paid in……FRNs.

We cannot escape using fiat FRNs (okay, that’s redundant. I won’t do it again.) because every interaction we have with D.C. requires us to use them. Taxes, of course, license fees, permits, services, anything that we have to buy from them has to be paid for in FRNs. And they only pay out in FRNs. Welfare of any description, Social Security checks, government payroll, contracts with businesses, all of it. Anything in or out of D.C. has to be FRNs. So that means that everybody – you, me, the grocery store, your employer, even your paperboy (do we still have paperboys?) has to collect FRNs so they can do their business with D.C.

“Well, yeah, because that’s ‘our’ money” you say. Got a news flash for you: that ain’t “our” money at all. We don’t own it. We don’t print it. We don’t control it, in any way, shape, or form.

It. Ain’t. Ours.

We’re just forced, literally at gun point, to use it. Hell, we can’t even barter amongst ourselves unless we declare the values of the bartered items in – you got it – FRNs.

I repeat: it. ain’t. ours.

That money belongs to a private central bank. Every green piece of paper in your pocket is the property of the banks behind the Federal Reserve. Every digital 1 and 0 in your bank account is the property of the banks behind the Federal Reserve. You have temporary custody, but it belongs to the Fed. That’s because every one of them, every bill, every byte, is your copy of an IOU, a loan, made by the Fed to “our” government. Add them all up, all the pockets, all the piggy banks, the penny jars, the bank accounts, the loan balances, all of the little pieces (and the big pieces, like the trillions of dollars “our” government gives to other countries) — and they exactly equal the national debt. They ARE the national debt. That dollar bill in your pocket is a certificate of debt. Our debt. Your debt. My debt. Our children’s debt.

Debt created for us, without our consent, by Congress.

Debt owed to a cartel, an international corporation of bankers, who do business with “our” government via a storefront named The Federal Reserve System. We don’t even know who those bankers are. I’m not sure anyone in Congress, or in the President’s Treasury Department know who they are. We have a pretty good idea who some of them might be, but not every one of them. The storefront, the Federal Reserve, shields them, hides them, protects them from view.

This was all arranged back in 1913. (Funny how we keep going back to that year, isn’t it?) The 16th Amendment, authorizing a direct income tax, superseded the two articles of the Constitution expressly forbidding this kind of taxation. It was absolutely necessary that Congress control your taxes directly, instead of having to deal with the States as go-betweens. Otherwise they wouldn’t have been able to force us to use FRNs.

Hand in glove with the 16thA, the 17thA was ratified a few weeks later, taking away the States power in D.C. (we talked about that in our last article). Then later that year, with Senators now clamoring for reelection donations they had never needed before, Congress passed the Federal Reserve Act. The act set up the structure of exactly how Congress and the bank cartel would do business, and delegated Congress’ Constitutional duty to issue and control our currency to the new central bank owned by the cartel. And the deal was done.

Rereading that last bit, I realize that I just summed up the core of “our” government’s greatest betrayal of us all in just two short paragraphs.

If you aren’t pissed yet, I don’t know what else to tell you.

I can though, very, very strongly, urge you to read G. Edward Griffin’s The Creature from Jekyll Island. You may not agree with his conclusions in the later parts of the book, but he researched the actual history of the plot behind creating the Federal Reserve so well that no one, absolutely no one, can argue the truths he uncovered. It is a fascinating read and WILL piss you off. Please, read it. Please. I’m begging you.

Madison, and The Chicken Farmer

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So, you might have noticed that we’ve made mention of State sovereignty and it’s demise, a few times.

Okay, more than a few times.

The reason we’ve mentioned it is because it’s really, really relevant to what’s going on today. Bear with us and this long post. This is just too damned important.

A lot of people, especially a lot of people involved in State governments, deny that there’s any truth to the rumor that State sovereignty is dead. That’s because they’re in denial. Not surprising; they’d be out of a job if they admitted the truth to their residents.

And a lot of otherwise lucid, logical people, will get all kinds of bent up if you even hint that their particular geographic unit, be it New York, California, Missouri, or even Texas, is really only a province of The District. Okay, maybe we can exclude Texas. Special case, and I don’t want to piss them off. You know how Texans get.

But it’s the truth. States, today, and ever since, like, almost forever, are only around for conveniences like issuing drivers licenses and parceling out money from The District. Money that was taken from the people in that province in the first place, usually. They get to manage some of their own affairs (unless The District forbids it), and the residents get to vote on issues in The District (for all the good it does them), but the State itself has no real power. Not any more. Not for the last 100+ years.

But they used to. The States used to be proud of the fact that they were independent and had voluntarily entered into a kind of marriage, a collaboration, with all the other independent States. United, as equal members, who agreed to use one set of rules among themselves, and to present a unified (there we go with that “united” thing again) a unified front to the rest of the world. Other parts of the country were tickled pink to join up. Bragging rights belonging to the original thirteen colonies, of course.

Here’s a little aside: to become a member of this union of States, even today, a geographic area has to unite itself, identify itself, form its own government (and that has to be a constitutional republican form to qualify), and then create and enact its own constitution. Simply put, it has to become a country, an independent nation. Then it can apply for membership, for Statehood. That’s what all fifty of the States were: sovereign nations, however briefly, who voluntarily joined the Union.

That was before Abe Lincoln so rudely disagreed with their notion that an independent, sovereign State that had voluntarily joined could just as voluntarily decide to un-join, to separate. To secede. Silly States. What were you thinking? That you were sovereign or something?

So Abe broke the dozen or so upstart States to prove his point. I mean, he smashed them. It’s like the Cosa Nostra, the Mob: once you’re in, you’re in. There’s only one way you leave. You don’t get to change your mind.

So much for State sovereignty.

But the Constitution (of the United-whether-you-want-to-or-not States) still left all the States some leverage. James Madison was smarter than Abe Lincoln. Jimmy knew all about how rulers tend to not want to be over-ruled, so he set things up to so that there was a three-way balance: The Executive – the Prez – was in charge of overseeing the running of the government. The Judicial – the Supreme Court – is supposed to be where all the lawyers hang out; lawsuits, interpreting the thorny issues with laws, yada-yada. The House of Representatives was the direct voice of the people. But people are fickle, and change their minds a lot, and get distracted a lot – admit it; you know it’s true. So he made sure their spokesperson was only on board for a short time. Too short to cause much damage. And he let the general population of each State pick their new reps, so they’d have a voice that echoed whatever it was they thought was important that day. And he set the minimum age to be a Representative low enough that a relative kid could get in there. And he made the House flexible in size, so that, as the country grew, so would the House. This means that the House of Representatives is controlled by the States with a lot of people. The only really important job Madison gave the House is called “the power of the purse”. (They haven’t been doing a great job at handling that, lately, but we’ll wait for another episode to talk about that debacle.)

James Madison knew that the House, so large and so disorganized (think “Animal House” and you won’t be far off base), couldn’t stop the President. He knew the Supreme Court couldn’t stop the President because it takes, like, frickin’ forever to get those dudes (and dudettes) to even consider doing any work, and when they do, nobody understands what the frick they’re saying anyway, senile old farts that they are. So Madison, on the third day, created the Senate, and Madison looked upon the Senate, and it was good. I mean, it was really, really good. Madison knew that the States, who considered themselves sovereign equals in a solemn compact, were jealous of their own power, and wouldn’t stand for being dissed by some Supreme Ruler. So he made the Senate their voice. The States, by any method they wanted, appointed two Senators each, so every State, no matter their size, would have an equal voice in whatever went on. That meant that the Senators weren’t subject to being micro-managed by the people of their State and could focus on what was good for their States, long-term. He set it up so the Senators were older, presumably wiser, heads – think Council Elders – and gave them the longest terms of anyone so they could balance out the hot-heads in the House, and, more importantly, so they were there longer than the Prez. And the States, if they didn’t like the way either of their Senators was handling their business, could recall themfire thembefore their term was up, and replace them with someone who would follow orders.

Is that a beautiful thing, or what? I mean, seriously. The dude was a genius. (And a cynic about human behavior, but we won’t go there.)

And then the railroad came to town. And corrupt/corrupting corporations were born.

Well, not exactly, but close. Corporations had been around, but they were pale weak little things, compared to today. The States saw to that. After the debacle with the King’s East India Company and the revolution, powerful corporations were not welcome here. No, sir.

But, people being people, and memories being short, and money being the root of, and all that…

Railroads, as you can imagine, aren’t cheap to build or to run. State-of-the-art technology never is. Only groups of rich people could afford to do it. (This was back before the government thought it was okay to dabble in private enterprise, of course.) So they formed corporations. And those corporations became very powerful, and financial politics was re-born in the United States. We never learn. Sigh. The bigger the corporations got, the more powerful they got and the richer they got. And the more powerful and richer they got, the bigger they got. They branched out. They ran amok. Completely, gob-smack, amok. And big corporate banks were born. Born, and invested in by both now uber-rich Americans, and uber-rich Europeans. With very little regulation, the corporations did pretty much as they damned well pleased, buying and selling politicians and political influence included.

At the same time, average literacy levels were on the rise. Colleges and Universities were springing up, under every other rock, it seemed. Universities, like railroads, aren’t cheap to build, or to run. Guess who invested in them. (Note: we’re not talking about the land-grant, State-run universities. We’re talking about the private, liberal arts kind.)

And in those private liberal arts colleges, bought by the uber-rich, incubated the First Progressive Era. Those first progressives, had no respect for their elders, or what their elders had built. Typical frat boys, they knew they could change the world, if only they were in charge.

And the mega-corporations and their mega-rich stockholders quietly supported them, and eased their paths, and helped them to prominence. Now, you have to realize: in the 100-plus years since the Constitution was adopted, only 5 amendments had been ratified, and 3 of those were right after Lincoln won his war, and dealt mostly with establishing the rights of the former slaves (for all the good THAT did them. Another story, another time.)

But these Progressives, needed only a couple more amendments, and some extra legislation, to change the world. It had been over 100 years since Madison’s time. The world had changed, you see. People were “evolving”. Things were more complicated. Bullsh*t like that was everywhere those days. So, with the mega-corporations funding and fueling their efforts from behind the scenes, they pushed the 16th Amendment, establishing a new, collectivist-friendly way of taxation that only needed one more new department to manage it – the Infernal Revenue Service. And they got it, and the Devil smiled.  Oh, and while we’re at it, the country had grown too much to be bogged down with something as pesky and limiting as a hard currency, and they had this nifty new idea about how they could pay for things by just letting this international bank print paper money as they needed it, giving government issued IOU’s to that international bank to keep it propped up. That way they could save the world. And so the Federal Reserve Act was created, and the Devil chuckled. And then, because letting the States appoint Senators just wasn’t democratic, they pushed the 17th amendment. And they got it, and the Devil laughed and laughed and laughed.

And that, boys and girls, ladies and gentlemen, is how the First Progressive Movement, in 1913, destroyed our republic and turned our States into nothing more than provinces.

We’ll get into the 16th Amendment and the Federal Reserve Act another time. Right now we’re looking at what the 17thA did to us.

Before the 17th, if you were, let’s say, a chicken farmer in Arkansas, and you read something in the paper about a Representative from California, up in DeeCee, submitting a bill that says chickens must have so many square feet of space per chicken in their growing pens, you could march down the street to the local drug store, pick up that new-fangled telephone thing, and call your district representative down in Little Rock, and say “Hey! George! I want you to tell the Governor that I don’t like this crap those morons in California are trying to pull! I want it stopped, you hear? How’s your momma ‘n them?” And George, being your neighbor, would tell the Governor. And the Governor would pick up the phone and call DeeCee and get the senior Senator from Arkansas on the line and say, “Listen, Bob, our people don’t like what that California dunderhead down the House is trying to pull. When that Chicken thing comes up for a vote in the Senate, you will vote No. Got it? Good!” And Bob, liking his job and wanting to keep it, would dutifully vote “No”. Because, if he didn’t, the next time he came up for re-appointment, the State legislature would count how many times he didn’t follow their orders and decide to replace him with someone who would. Or, maybe they wouldn’t even wait that long, if he turned out to be a really crappy Senator.

After the 17th, that chicken farmer in Arkansas could pretty much do the same thing, and his local representative to Little Rock could do the same thing. But when it came time for the Governor to call the Senator…well, that’s where the rub comes. Because the Governor can’t fire the Senator anymore. The Governor, in fact, has nothing to do with the Senator’s job. He gets elected by “the people” now, just like the Representatives down in the House. Which means the Governor isn’t his boss. His boss is the people who help him get re-elected, and we all know who they are. So, now, when the Governor calls old Bob, up in DeeCee, Bob’s secretary tells him that Bob is out having lunch with a lobbyist from General Dynamic Chicken Coop Mfg Corp., and can’t be disturbed, but he’ll get back to him “real soon”.

James Madison would be furious. I know that I am.

Because He Can, That’s Why.

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We’re continuing our responses to Judge Napolitano’s “What If” speech on his Fox News show, questions that strike at the heart of what’s happening to our nation. The Judge asked many questions that are so closely related we’re lumping some of the together. Here are six that we can do that with:

“What if the President, meant to be an equal to congress, has instead become a democratically elected, term-limited, monarch? What if the President assumed that everything he did was legal, just because he’s the President? What if he could interrupt your regularly scheduled radio and tv programming for a special message – from him? What if he could declare war on his own? What if he could read your emails and your texts without a search warrant? What if he could kill you without warning?” And here’s our opinion on them:

Some presidents rule like a dictator because … he has that power. Because he can. And, honestly, sometimes – only sometimes – because he has to. Which kind of makes sense. In an emergency, Congress can’t respond quickly. Hell, they aren’t even on the job half the time. They recess, adjourn, go home. And when they are there, they aren’t, a lot of the time. They’re on the phone or on the run, drumming up campaign funds and support to get themselves re-elected into their cushy spots. Or they’re creating sound-bites and posturing for their up-coming run at the cat-bird seat. And when they really are there, it takes them so long to come to any kind of consensus we’d be toast before they could react. In an emergency, they’re like an entire flock of Chicken Little’s, running in panicked circles squawking like….well, like chickens.

Executive Orders are how a president gets things done, just like the boss of any organization. A president is in charge of running all these dozens, maybe even hundreds of departments, and agencies, and bureaus, and offices, and what-have-you, and Executive Orders are how he does it. Most EO’s are humdrum, everyday housekeeping notes to lower management. A lot of it – a LOT of it – depends on the management style of the particular president. And a lot of it depends on the crises he faces.

But the real issue is the way the presidents can and do use executive orders to forward their personal agendas and rule, if they want, pretty much as absolute monarchs. Since they can do whatever they want, who’s going to stop them? Unless Congress howls loudly enough, or someone gets the judiciary involved, they get away with pushing whatever agenda they want; and they have been known to ignore both legislative and judicial censure for their acts. The only two weapons Congress has is the House’s “power of the purse”, and impeachment. The problem with the purse-strings, other than the obvious political issue of getting a divided group to reach consensus on refusing to fund something a president has done that some of them don’t agree with, is the time interval involved. Even if the House censures a president’s executive action by refusing to fund it, that takes time to take effect. There’s already plenty of money in the pipeline; by the time the supply dries up, the damage is, in most cases, already done. Impeachment is the only real threat, and that, rightfully so, isn’t an easy – or quick – thing to do.

In 1861, when Lincoln issued the executive order authorizing military commanders to suspend the writ of habeas corpus at their discretion, it was immediately struck down by a supremely pissed off Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. (See what I did there? I’m so funny…) Lincoln simply ignored him. And Congress, cowering, was too scared to force the issue. “Just do what you need to do to keep us safe.” It was the first time a Supreme Court justice found an EO unconstitutional. And the first time a president ignored them.

Non-relevant historic sidenote: Lincoln issued that EO to prevent Maryland from seceding and joining the Confederacy. Take a quick look at a map. If Maryland had seceded, as it looked like they were headed for, the District of Columbia would have been completely surrounded, cut off. The Confederacy would have chopped off the head of the snake before it could strike. The war would have been over, the Confederacy triumphant, before another shot was fired. In fact, among the first casualties of the war were Union troops moving to reinforce D.C. and rioting Marylanders trying to stop them. But I digress.

The worst offenders of EO abuse were Lincoln (of course), Hoover, Truman (almost as bad as Lincoln), FDR (worse than Truman, not as bad as Lincoln), Clinton (almost as bad as Hoover), Bush (almost as bad as Truman), and (also, of course) Obama (who is FDR-bad and working diligently on surpassing Roosevelt, and is blatantly, stupendously arrogant about it). Bush has to take at least part of the blame for the Patriot Act, but since it’s legislation, he doesn’t get the “credit” for control by fiat. If the Patriot Act had been an executive order, he’d have out-gunned even Lincoln.

And again, to be fair, excluding his signature ACA debacle, Obama hasn’t really “gotten away with” much more than Clinton did. Possibly, if you compared the details, even less, actually. But Clinton was sneaky. Devious. Clever. Subtle. Obama is just clumsy and ham-handed. Or arrogant and ham-handed. Take your pick. Throw in his ACA shenanigans and agenda to “fundamentally transform”, and he’s shooting for the moon. Get out of the way, Bush. Move over, Lincoln.

Clinton didn’t announce to the world that he was going to defy Congress. He didn’t tell them, to their faces (think, State of the Union address), that he was going to damned well do as he pleased, and they better just fall in line, or else. Clinton simply and quietly went about doing whatever the hell he wanted to do, and if it came to light, waved it off as a misunderstanding – and kept on doing whatever the hell he wanted to do.

Bush drummed up war and patriotic fervor to distract the masses (Google “jingoism”), kept Congress cowering like the famous three monkeys: squatting in denial, their hands over their eyes, their ears, and their mouths – and got what he wanted. “Don’t tell us, we don’t want to know. Just save us.” The Bush dynasty has always been in bed with the industrio-military complex; that’s how they made their fortunes, all the way back to before WWII and before, and to this day see no reason to get off a winning horse, even if now they’ve been forced by circumstance to call on the thinner blood of the dynastic line.

Obama is foolish, simple, and such an arrogant sociopath he doesn’t think he needs to be subtle. And not even a Great Pretender like him can fake it realistically enough to drum up a Girl Scout cheer, let alone patriotic fervor. Socialist, progressive, collectivist fervor, oh yeah. Plenty of that. So he’s left with what he’s totally comfortable with: megalomania that rivals the world view of a three-year-old.

How is all this possible? Why is it able to happen? I hate to bad-mouth something I adore, but the reason is because the Constitution is too vague. Evidently the Founders, back when they were creating this wonderful but humanly imperfect document, were worried about setting up a situation where Congress could micro-manage the chief executive. They knew that wouldn’t be good, but it seems they never figured out any way to avoid it and still keep a reasonable rein on the president. Because of the way the Constitution is written, so vaguely and so briefly covering the duties of the president, and with little language about exactly how he’s supposed to do his job, there’s so much latitude for abuse that an impatient president can easily abuse his powers.

Or a less-than-scrupulous one.

Or a less-than-honorable one.

Or a power-mad megalomaniac.

Or a total incompetent.

Or all of the above.

And get away with it.

And too, because of the Constitutionally built-in adversarial roles of the branches of government, that whole checks-and-balances thing, the president, no matter who he is, Bush, Clinton, FDR, or Joe Blow, is never in agreement with the other branches. (Unless they kowtow to him – usually when his party has a clear majority across both chambers, but sometimes because it’s getting difficult to tell the difference between the two major parties.) So he’s almost always in a position of using his authority to skirt theirs.

The Supreme Court isn’t much help, either, since it’s damned difficult to even get a protest before them, and once you do you discover that the benches have been packed with do-nothing, special interest corporatist whores and progressives. Senile progressives, at that. You’d think that when they slam back a few too many glasses of wine, and start nodding off and drooling on their bibs at official functions somebody would “encourage” them to retire, but nooooo…..

So the answer to these six questions the Judge asked about the president is; “But he CAN. And he does, because he CAN.” If you are naive enough to believe that presidents ordering the death of American citizens without benefit of trial began with Barack Obama ordering the killing of citizens, on foreign soil, with drones, then… I have a bridge for sale I’d like to talk to you about. Obama is just the first one arrogant enough to think he doesn’t need to keep it a secret.

The President – not just THIS president – can read your texts and your emails and eavesdrop on your phone conversations, and bug your home, and incarcerate you indefinitely, and all those other evil, evil things, because the Constitution gave him implicit permission, and Congress gives him explicit permission, to do it. They’ve done it, for the most part, since Day One, and they’ll continue to do it as long as this Republic keeps struggling along.

Size Does Matter; Just Ask Uncle Sam

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Do you know how many federal agencies there are? Does anybody know? In the research that I have done, I can’t find a list of all the government agencies. I’m not even sure the government knows how many there are.

Do you know how many pages there are in the Federal Regulations Code? I do know the answer to that. Well, kind of. From what I have been able to research, it is almost 200,000 pages long. Yes, you read that correctly. If you printed the thing out and stacked it, it would be taller than a three story building. Do you even think for a moment that they even know what it says?

In our continuing coverage of Judge Andrew Napolitano’s five minutes worth of questions, we are now at questions number three and four. “What if the whole purpose of the Constitution was to limit the government?” “What if Congress’ enumerated powers in the Constitution no longer limited Congress but were used as a justification to extend Congress’s authority over every realm of human life?”

Well?

Let me see… The Founding Fathers were so adamant about protecting the people from their government that they wrote the Constitution, and specifically limited the roles of that same government. They believed that the more government that existed, the less liberty the people would enjoy.

Today, we have regulations that tell us what light bulbs we can and can’t buy, how much water our showers are allowed to sprinkle over our heads, what tests our children take in school, what licenses you have to have to be just about anything and… well, you get the idea. There is no part of our personal lives that is not affected by some kind of regulation. It’s like a cancer that has been caught in the late stages. It has spread and spread to the point that there is nothing we can do to stop it. Surgery, at this point, is not an option. Just like cancer cells are immortal, so is this invasion of bureaucracy. The only thing left to do is to keep the patient comfortable until her time comes.

How did this happen? How did we go from a nation based on liberty to living under this behemoth of a government? You would think that there is some long drawn out story about it all. But sadly, there isn’t. Of course there are exceptions, but if you just want to know, then follow the money. Do you really think that Congress just up and decided one day to ban incandescent light bulbs? Do you really think that they just decided that incandescent light bulb was a energy sucking monster and must be done away with? If you believe that, then you and I have nothing to talk about. Instead, let’s imagine that the corporations who made the incandescent light bulb saw that they could make much more money producing and selling LED light bulbs, but couldn’t get people to buy them because they were so much more expensive. Let’s imagine that they then went to Congress and said, “Psst. We need you outlaw incandescent light bulbs for us. Here is some money.” If you believe that, then I see a great future for our friendship. Don’t just take my word for it. Please, do your own research.

I’m only using the incandescent light bulb as an example because it is quite recent and has affected A LOT of people. And, it was all about the money. You can’t do anything in this country without having to pay money. You can’t get a driver’s license. You can’t get a fishing license. You can’t get a copy of the Federal Regulations. Hell, you can’t even renounce your U.S. citizenship without paying them money.

The government tells us we have to wear seat belts. It tells us we have to have health insurance. It tells us we have to follow their rules, or pay the price. It should be the other way around. We should be telling them what they can and can’t do. That is, after all, what the Founding Fathers intended when they wrote the Constitution.