This is a Biggie.

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You know about the Constitution, right? That document written all those years ago, when our country was just a babe, meant to enumerate and protect the rights we were all born with? Well, the Judge’s second question was, “What if the Constitution no longer applied?”

The thought alone should terrify anyone who knows anything about the Constitution. But what if I were to tell you that the Constitution has not applied for years now? Decades even. What would you say then?

Let me give you an example. You all know what happened on September 11, 2001. But what happened after that was, in fact, an ever bigger tragedy. I know, I know. More than 3000 people lost their lives that day. What could be worse than that? It was a terrible thing. I agree completely. Don’t yell at me just yet.

Less than a week after the attack, bills were introduced in Congress designed to combat terrorism. Those bills morphed into the Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism (USA PATRIOT ACT) Act of 2001. It should have been called the “Let’s gut the Constitution because a bunch of crazy people attacked us” Act, but I digress.

This final bill was introduced to the House of Representatives on October 21, 2001. It passed the House 357-66 on October 24, passed the Senate 98-1 on October 25, landed on the president’s desk that same day and he signed it into law on October 26. The bill was 363 pages. 57,896 words. Yep. Now, considering that there were fewer than 30 working days between the attacks and the day the bill was introduced, that was some pretty fast writing. But, again, I digress.

Moving on. Let me give you the shotgun version of what the “Patriot Act” accomplished. Listen up.

“To assist in terror investigation”, the “Patriot Act” allows for:

  • The monitoring of religious and political institutions without suspecting criminal activity. (Translation: wire taps without warrants.)
  • The removal of once public government information, the closing of once public hearings, and the resisting of public information requests. (Translation: what you don’t know can’t hurt you.)
  • The prosecution of librarians or keepers of public records for revealing information about records that have been subpoenaed. (Does this really need a translation? Prosecution of librarians? Really?)
  • The monitoring of conversations between attorneys and their clients, and denying Americans legal representation. (Translation: that pesky little Miranda thing? “You are entitled to an attorney…” Ha.)
  • The search and seizure of Americans’ papers and effects without probable cause and without a warrant. (Uh, there are not words.)
  • The imprisonment of Americans indefinitely without a trial and without being charged or being able to face their accusers. (This just gets better and better, right?)

Well, actually, no it doesn’t. I could go on and list more, but I think you get the idea. If you would like to read further, you can always go here: http://www.congress.gov/bill/107th-congress/house-bill/3162.

My point here is that the Constitution really doesn’t apply any more. Sure, we can moan and groan and say they are violating our rights, but, seriously, who is there to stop them? The government decided, long ago, that they controlled what and which “rights” they wanted to let us have, and when they care to let us have them. The rights our status as human beings gave us, and the framers of our government tried to protect for us, are now only privileges, dispensed by the autocracy at their convenience, revoked at their whim.

So, what if the Constitution no longer applied? We are already there, people. We are already there.

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Are We Citizens or Subjects?

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In 2011, Constitutional scholar Judge Andrew Napolitano spent five minutes of his Fox News show asking a series of questions, one after the other, that strike to the heart of the issues facing our nation. You know, bringing up things that make people think. It doesn’t matter if you agree with him or not. Or even if we agree with him or not. What matters is that every question he posed deserves attention.

That’s where we come in. The Judge’s first question was, “Does the government work for us, or do we work for the government?” Here’s our take on it.

In order to address this question fully, we have to revisit 1861, when that Great Emancipator, Ole Abe, decided to completely ignore the Constitution of the United States and invade the Confederacy. The outcome of Lincoln’s War of Aggression decided that question. The government works, not for us, but for itself. It does not work for the people, and hasn’t for a long time.

Abraham Lincoln’s decision to revoke the ultimate right of the people as stated in the Declaration of Independence, the right to give, or to withdraw, their consent to be governed, reduced the states to nothing more than administrative provinces, and their citizens to subjects of the central authority. Before 1861, the government was truly a servant of the people. Even though it was sometimes reluctantly, from the beginning, to an ever-lessening degree, the government worked for the good of its constituent states and their citizens. It was by no means a perfect Union, just as no large family is perfectly content with its siblings – or with its parents. But each member of the family knew that, if conditions became too intolerable, if compromise or accommodation finally became impossible, it could divorce itself from the family and go its own way.

What? Wait. Are you saying…? Yes, that’s exactly what we are saying. The states that seceded from the Union had every right to do so, and Lincoln did violate the Constitution many times. Those states seceded individually, as a truly sovereign State had every right to do. They then voluntarily joined with the other sovereign states to form a new Confederation – dissolving their ties with their former association –  just like the colonies did, and like the Declaration said they had the right to do. All of this was embodied in the principle of State sovereignty, of the concept that the States had willingly and voluntarily entered into the compact as free agents, and could withdraw if they believed the conditions warranted. (No, we are not saying that the states that seceded had a right to keep slavery alive. Besides, anyone who has seriously studied history knows that slavery was not the real reason for that war, so put that argument away. Put it away.)

Lincoln, with his egregious violations of the Constitution, his willingness to force brother to kill brother to achieve his purpose, accomplished his goal of negating the principle of State sovereignty. His ruthless campaign set us on the inevitable path to where we are today: a centralized, autocratic, self-serving ultimate authority. That authority is an amoral, infinitely avaricious behemoth that treats its subjects no better than it must to maintain its own existence and progression. The 17th Amendment, ratified less than 50 years later, was merely the final blow, silencing the states’ last feeble voice in their, and their citizens’, own destinies. On May 31, 1913, the rulers in the royal province, the District of Columbia, declared itself the unlimited, absolute authority of its subjects. From that day until this, and for the foreseeable future, the government works, not for us, but for itself.

“Stripped of all its covering, the naked question is, whether ours is a federal or consolidated government; a constitutional or absolute one; a government resting solidly on the basis of the sovereignty of the States, or on the unrestrained will of a majority; a form of government, as in all other unlimited ones, in which injustice, violence, and force must ultimately prevail.” – John C. Calhoun

But will it keep you out of Heaven?

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Yesterday I spoke to the LGBT community. Today, I’m talking to the Christians.

Sigh. I’m so tired of having this conversation. I’m so tired of Christians using the Bible as an excuse to be assholes. I’m so tired of arguing with my family members about this. I’m just tired of it. But here goes.

I know by now I shouldn’t be, but I am constantly amazed at the hatred and intolerance I see every day when it comes to gays and lesbians. If you are a Christian, your number one rule should be NOT TO JUDGE. Period. You should worry about your own “sins” instead of damning others.

At no point should yours or anyone else’s religious beliefs dictate legislation in this country. No one, and I mean no one should be kept from having a marriage ceremony simply because your religious book says it is a sin. If we allow religion to dictate public policy, where does it stop? When people of the Islamic faith start demanding Sharia law be implemented? Hmm?

A gay couple pledging their love for one another with a ceremony and a ring IN NO WAY infringes on your right to be straight. They aren’t hurting you. They just want to live their lives and be happy like everyone else.

At no point will anyone in the LGBT community keep you from going to heaven. Them being gay should be no skin off your nose. It doesn’t affect you. They aren’t hurting you. In any way. Hell, you could even choose to be friends with one of them. GASP. What a concept. Imagine what you could accomplish by treating every one with the same respect that you treated your friends from church. You can attract a lot more flies with honey. Ya know?

I was raised in a Christian faith. I know what the Bible says. I know that it says homosexuality is a sin. An abomination. See, though, here’s the deal. The Bible says a lot of stuff that you don’t pay any attention to. Why is the LGBT community such a target for you?

Let’s talk a little bit about what else the Bible says. It says that if you marry, you are married to that person for the rest of your lives. It says that if you divorce that person, and remarry someone else then you are committing adultery. When you are screening customers in your place of business, do you ask if they are divorced? If you own a florist, and refuse to do flowers for a same-sex wedding, do you also refuse to do flowers for a couple who are both divorced? No? Why the hell not? They are all sinners in the eyes of the Lord. According to you. 

While I still support you right to deny service to whomever you choose, I feel that your reasons for choosing are quite hypocritical. If you are going to deny service to gays based on your religious beliefs, then shouldn’t you also deny service to other sinners? You could even deny service to barefoot child in search of an ICE E if you choose. If their money isn’t good enough for you, they can always go somewhere else. But my question to you is this: why? Will it keep you out of heaven? Will it damage your relationship with your god?

Actually, if you were truly a Christian, you would treat all sinners with the same respect you would someone from your church. Did Jesus treat sinners any differently? Aren’t Christians supposed to be emulating Jesus? Trying to be like Him? Well, if you are trying to be like Him, some of you are failing miserably.

Let’s talk about those pesky little religious freedom bills. I get the premise behind them. I get that you shouldn’t be sued for being assholes and denying service to someone simply because they are gay. You already had the right to deny service in your business to whomever you pleased. The courts seem to have forgotten what the Constitution says when they allowed some of those lawsuits. I get it. But do you understand what a storm those laws are going to start? Do you?

Let’s say that I owned a place of business and beside my “No Shirt, No Shoes, No Service” sign, I decide to put a “No Methodists Allowed” sign. Let’s just say I’m doing it because I’m Church of Christ and everyone knows the C of C believes they are the only ones going to heaven. So in my opinion, everyone else is going to hell and I shouldn’t have to serve you. Makes perfect sense, right? Right?

Would you put a sign in your window that says:

“No Catholics allowed”

“We do not do business with Protestants”

“No Muslims”

“Blacks not allowed”

“Absolutely No Gays”

It wasn’t too long ago that there were signs that said “Whites Only” or “Dogs and Irish Not Allowed.”

When and where does it stop?

Please tell me, because I’m really sick of having this conversation. Some Christians are acting decidedly UnChristian-like and it makes Christians everywhere look like a bunch of hate-mongers. Yes, I said it. What are you prepared to do to change it? Because, like I said, making a cake for a gay couple will not jeopardize your place in heaven if you indeed have one. 

I know that all Christians aren’t like this. I know that the majority of Christians are more tolerant, more humane — and most Christian business owners are more intelligent — than the vocal minority that helped start this whole uproar.
But to the moralistic bigots in the crowd that insist on being bigots, here’s your sign.

“…But the greatest of these is love.” 

Shouldn’t we all just love one another?

You can’t have it both ways… And this is still America.

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To the LGBT community:

Disclaimer: I love y’all. One of my best friends is a gay man who I completely adore. My uncle is a gay man who looks at me as the daughter he never had, and I adore him as well. I have no ill thoughts against anyone who identifies as LGBT. If I owned a flower shop and a gay couple came in to buy flowers for their wedding I would be all over that shit. I would make the most gorgeous flowers they had ever seen. I don’t care who you marry, as long as you are happy, and pay the bill.

Do I think you should be discriminated against? Of course not. Do I think you should have the same rights as hetero couples and be allowed to marry and carry each other on your respective insurances? Absolutely. Do I believe that you have the right to live the life you choose, without any interference from a church or the government? You damn skippy. You can have as many husbands and/or wives as you want. You mind your business and I’ll mind mine.

There. We got that out of the way. Now, here comes the hard part. You can’t have it both ways. You can’t expect to be free to do what you want with whomever you want and not give a person with religious convictions the same courtesy. You see, I don’t believe that a person who owns a florist should be forced to do the flowers for your same-sex wedding if their religious convictions are such that they believe what you are doing is wrong. This is still America. Religious freedom and all that. The government doesn’t tell us that we have to worship in a certain church. The government doesn’t tell us which god to worship. The government doesn’t tell you who you can and can’t sleep with.  You shouldn’t expect to go into a bakery and force that person to make a cake for your wedding just because you are gay and you say he or she should. You shouldn’t be allowed to sue said baker because he or she refused to make a cake for you based on their religious convictions. Get over it. Go to another baker. It’s that simple.

Let’s play a game, shall we? Let’s say that there is a Jewish photographer. He is a really good photographer and people hire him all the time to take pictures. Let’s say that there is going to be a Neo-Nazi rally in that photographer’s town and the “event coordinators” (I know this is a stretch, work with me here) call the Jewish photographer to hire him to take pictures of the rally. Do you think that Jewish photographer should be forced to cover that rally? No matter what he believes? Well, hell no, he shouldn’t. Jeezus. Come on, people. Be reasonable. You can’t expect the government to force him to take pictures at that rally any more than you can expect the government to force a baker to bake you a cake for your same-sex wedding, any more than you can expect the government to tell you that you can’t have sex with your partner. Whomever he or she may be.

If a baker refuses to bake you a cake, or a florist refuses to do your flowers, you have another recourse. You can go to another bakery, and another florist. You can post a rant on Facebook and tell all your friends. Your friends can then decide if they want to continue giving those businesses their patronage. It’s called a free market for a reason. The government can’t tell you what florist to go to. If you don’t like one, go to another. It’s just common sense. Like I said, get over it.

Now, here’s the rub. These religious freedom laws that are being passed are ridiculous. We are already supposed to have religious freedom. We are already supposed to have free speech. They are little things called natural rights, granted to us because we are human beings and protected for us by the Constitution. I don’t agree with devil worshipers, but they damn well have a right to worship whoever they damn well chose. Another law will not make religious freedom any more established or secure. Another law will only give the government more power!

To those who are comparing the religious freedom laws to Jim Crow laws that were in effect before the civil rights movement, hear me out. Those laws were put in place to force businesses to discriminate. The fact that the businesses agreed with the laws was and is irrelevant. There was a law on the books that said blacks had to sit in the back of a bus. That blacks couldn’t sit at lunch counters or use public facilities deemed for whites only. These religious freedom laws allow for businesses to refuse service to anyone for whatever reason without repercussions. If a overly obese man goes into a Chinese buffet, and grazes for four hours, that Chinese restaurant can say, “You go home now” if they so chose. They should be allowed to do so without having to worry about the obese man filing a lawsuit.

You walk up to the door of a business and it says “No shirt, no shoes, no service.” Gasp. They are discriminating against barefoot people. I spent a great deal of my childhood walking to the 7-Eleven down the street from my grandma’s house in Florida barefoot as a yard dog to get an ICE E. The guy that owned the 7-Eleven never told me get out because I didn’t have any shoes on. He knew I was there to buy an ICE E and he wanted my money. If a business wants your money, they will make that cake for you. If they don’t want your money, if your money isn’t good enough for them, then go your ass to a bakery who has better sense. It’s that simple.

Yes, this is going open doors that we wish we hadn’t opened. It is going to open the doors for all kinds of discrimination. It is going to allow people to show their true colors as the bigots they are. As repugnant and distasteful as I find that, this is America. Warts and all. The fact that the Ku Klux Klan still exists in this country is deplorable to me, but the fact that they have a right to exist if they so choose is not. As much as their existence disgusts me, there’s not a thing I want the government to do about it. Therein lies TYRANNY.

I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.      -Evelyn Beatrice Hall

Until next time.

The 17th Amendment to the Constitution: The beginning of the end

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Now hold on a minute. I know what you’re thinking. 1913 was the worst year ever? The 17th Amendment was the beginning of the end? Well, yes. On both accounts. 1913 was the worst year ever for several reasons, and we are going to cover those reasons in the next few blogs. The 17th Amendment is only ONE of the reasons. Hear me out.

We have heard a multitude of people who keep clamoring for term limits for legislators. The term limit proponents say that if legislators were not allowed to stay in office for more than, say, two terms, then they would be less likely to be in the pockets of the big corporations. Term limits are not the solution because term limits are not the problem. Term limits is like taking aspirin for a brain tumor. You might feel a little better but you are still going to die.

Originally the Constitution provided for the citizens of a state to be represented by their members in the House of Representatives, directly elected by the people of that state for a two year term. The senators were selected according to state law, (appointed by vote in the state legislature or appointed by the governor with advice and consent of the state legislature) for a term of six years. The senator might be selected from the state legislature’s membership, from a list maintained by the governor or from completely outside government, as frequently happened. Did you get that? The senators were appointed, NOT ELECTED by the public. 

Article 1, Section. 2.The House of Representatives shall be composed of Members chosen every second Year by the People of the several States,

Article 1, Section. 3.The Senate of the United States shall be composed of two Senators from each State, chosen by the Legislature thereof [Modified by Amendment XVII], for six Years;

Essentially, the Senate was designed to represent the interests of the state governments in Washington while the House represented the interests of the citizens of the states.

That all changed with the ratification of the 17th Amendment in May of 1913. It provided for the direct election of senators and effectively left the governors and legislatures without a voice in D.C. The Senate no longer answered to the states but to the citizens. State laws, prior to 1913, allowed governors or legislatures to change their senator at the end of the senator’s six year term. If the governor’s office or the legislative majority changed party then the change in the states senators was essentially guaranteed. That was a true bicameral government. If the bicameral system still existed, then the state governments could put a stop to any type of insanity Washington D.C. might come up with.

Unfunded mandates (a decree from the feds without any funding to pay for it) such as Obamacare would not happen. The governors could say “not just no, but hell no!” The tax rates and IRS would not be out of control. The governors could say “not just no, but hell no!” All the abusive acts by the federal government would not have happened. Governors and state legislatures can be easily changed by the voters. (I could go on and on, but I won’t. Use your imagination.) Alexander Hamilton noted in Federalist [paper] No. 59 that, “The interest of each State, it may be added, to maintain its representation in the national councils, would be a complete security against an abuse of the trust.” That representation ended with the ratification of the Seventeenth Amendment.

Equally importantly, since senators would not be elected by the general population then term limits of either federal legislative body would be moot.

It should be noted that Progressives in the early 1900s stated on more than one occasion that the states’ power to appoint senators stood in the way of implementing their agenda. The direct election of senators became the primary goal of William Jennings Bryan and other influential Progressives. They succeeded in 1913 with the ratification of Seventeen. It has been downhill for the American Dream since then. Woodrow Wilson and William Jennings Bryan led the charge to water down our bicameral system. The progressives knew their agenda would never happen if the states had the ability to stop it. I won’t go into the reasons for the 17th other than to mention that corruption in the appointment process was used as one of the primary argument in favor of the amendment.  Even though reforms at the state level could have corrected the corruption issues, that would not have facilitated the fundamental change in the government that the Progressives were seeking. They used high explosives to solve the problem when a surgical solution was really all that was needed.

Also, importantly, the rise of the influence of lobbyists in D.C. can be traced directly to the direct election of senators. Power abhors a vacuum and something had to fill the power vacuum left when the states were cut out of the federal government. This played right into the hands of the lobbyists working for the big corporations who were flush with new power (thanks to the 1886 Supreme Court ruling about corporate personhood), allowing them to only have to worry about “buying” two senators for each state rather than hundreds of representatives in the state legislatures. The fundamental change the Progressives were seeking happened in a big way. Sound familiar?

Until next time.

Who is this “They” everyone keeps talking about?

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Who the hell is “They”?

Seriously. We hear it all the time. We use it all the time. Who is this “They” we’re always bitching about?

“They” are gonna come take our guns! “They” are watching all of us! “They” control the government. “They” think we’re stupid. “They” are too powerful. “They” want to take away our rights.

“They” ad infinitum, ad nauseum.

So, again, who the hell is “They”?

“They” are the 537 elected plus 12 appointed-for-life asses polishing chairs in DC, and the thousands of elected and appointed asses polishing chairs in the state governments. And “They” are the seven-plus million federal and state employees who work for them, and the countless thousands of county and city officials and the people who work for them. “They” are your local school board and your Home Owners’ Association, and the rent-a-cop at the mall.

“They” are anyone who has taken the power to tell us “You can’t do that” and/or “You must do this”, and can lock you up or even shoot you if you fail to comply.

“They” are also the same ones we mean when we say “Somebody”, as in “Somebody should do something about <insert topic here>.”

Ooops! Ain’t that just a kick in the head? We’re real good about crying over losing our rights, and the big bad “They” stealing from us but “They” are the first ones we invoke when we don’t like something that’s going on.

You don’t get it both ways, people. No cake and eat it too available here. If you want “They” to stop trampling all over your rights, you’ve got to let go of “Somebody” too. And you know how to do that – but you won’t do it. You haven’t done it yet, I don’t think you’ll do it now. To let go of “Somebody” and to kick “They” out, you’re going to have to do things yourself, for yourself.

That’s the price of having a nanny state, y’all. If you want the government hand-outs and the government protection, and government telling other people what they can or can’t do, then you have to accept the government control of your life, too. You can’t have it any other way.

If you want liberty, if you want freedom, then you have to pay for it with actual work. With being involved in your own damned destiny. Get up off your lazy ass and go find out what’s going on at your school board meeting, at your city council meeting. Go meet your state representative. Find out if he’s really as big an asshole as you think he is, and let him know you don’t trust him and have your eye on him.

Vote, fergawdsake! If you don’t want to take the time to do your homework and figure out WHO or WHAT to vote for, I’ll give you the short course in exercising your civic duty. The incumbent is usually listed first – so vote for whoever is listed second, on anything else, vote ‘no’.

There.

Simple as that.

Oh, you don’t vote because if you register they’ll call you for jury duty? First off, that’s part of getting up off your lazy ass and getting involved. But, if you really want out of jury duty, it’s easy: show up the first day with a Fully Informed Jury Association pamphlet in hand. They’ll send you home so fast it’ll make you dizzy.

If you aren’t willing to get involved, to live some other way than as a sheep, then just settle into your recliner with the remote control holster and beer can holder, crank up Duck Dynasty and the football game, and accept the fact that you’re no better than all the welfare mooches you’re always griping about.

I’m just totally fed up with all of you.

What happened to civic duty and virtue?

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“Those who expect to reap the blessings of freedom…must undergo the fatigue of supporting it.”

                                                                                                                                        -Thomas Paine

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Civic duty and virtue… Let me tell you about a friend. Let’s call him George.

Blue collar, no post high school education; he’s worked as a union plumber at the university for six years now, and it’s the best job he has ever had.

He is also an alderman for his town of 350 people. He is integral to their annual festival event (which he was instrumental to bringing back after a 15 year hiatus). He previously served on the school board (they have a k-8 school) and his mom voluntarily served as a temporary mayor when the elected guy quit abruptly.

This town has a single part time deputy from the county sheriff’s department, a volunteer fire department, and one stop light.

Aside from the deputy, his town doesn’t pay any of the officials; they are all voluntary duties. George spends a minimum of several hours each week dealing with town business; often it is more than that, especially if he has to handle a problem with the sewer system or other utility. Keep in mind, he still has his full-time job.

George doesn’t do this because he is an individual in pursuit of self interest; he does it out of civic duty to the common good. He does it out of a sense of responsibility to his community and the people who live there.
That is what America has lost! We lost it because we handed everything over to corporate type management systems, we entrusted our “common good” to managerial systems that we assumed were rational. Essentially, we gave up our genuine individualism by allowing someone else to handle everything for us.
We conformed.
What is wrong with America isn’t apathy. It isn’t uninformed voters. It isn’t passiveness. What is wrong is a system of corporatism that has infiltrated democracy. While that was happening right under our noses, we lost sight of individual civic responsibility to our common good because the narrative was replaced with the concept of self interest.
President Reagan was wrong; government can’t be the problem; because we are the government, collectively. However, we gave up our claim to government and handed those responsibilities to corporate-like groups. Those corporate groups dictate almost every aspect of our lives, and are dictating legislation as well.
Taking it back is our only solution. The only way to do that is to change our perspective to an appreciation for our individual civic duty in pursuit of a shared common purpose.