Monday, January 14, 2013
Abandoning ‘We The People’
For much of its 236-year history, the federal government has accumulated new power by whittling away at the essential protections afforded to American citizens under the U.S. Constitution. In recent years this wholesale abandonment of our founding principles has rapidly gained momentum — accompanied by a skyrocketing government debt that now eclipses our nation’s annual gross domestic product.
“There’s a clear cause and effect here that is as neat and predictable as a law of physics,” former U.S. President Ronald Reagan said in his farewell address to the nation in 1989. “As government expands, liberty contracts.”
No truer words have ever been spoken — yet in the last half-decade this nation has witnessed a stunning (and astronomically expensive) escalation of neo-fascism in America. And no political party, court nor ideological movement has proven able to blunt its building momentum.
During the debate over “Obamacare” — a massive, budget-busting entitlement funded with money our country doesn’t have — former New Jersey Judge Andrew Napolitano pointedly challenged then-U.S. Majority Whip Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.) regarding the constitutionality of this socialized medicine monstrosity.
“There’s nothing in the Constitution that says the federal government has anything to do with most of the stuff we do,” he said.
Therein lies the root of our problem. The overt contempt for our Constitution displayed by Clyburn and other elected officials is precisely why government has become so unruly, so fiscally unsustainable and so dangerous. Tragically for our Republic, the U.S. Supreme Court empowered this view in its Obamacare ruling — inventing a new taxing authority to accommodate this abomination rather than following the law and protecting our liberties.
Decades of legislative overreach, executive power grabs and judicial activism have steadily diminished our freedom and free markets — a disintegration which may have already reached the point of terminal velocity. Our nation now prints unlimited piles of money with no congressional oversight. It taps our phones and emails with no probable cause. It compels us to purchase products or face stiff fines. And now it wants to strip us of our right to keep and bear arms.
Yet even these egregious incursions are not enough for some members of the professional left.
In a recent column published by The New York Times, Georgetown University law professor Louis Michael Seidman argues for the wholesale abandonment of the U.S. Constitution, decrying “all its archaic, idiosyncratic and downright evil provisions.”
“We have to give up on the claim that we are a self-governing people who can settle our disagreements through mature and tolerant debate,” Seidman writes, “we ought to try extricating ourselves from constitutional bondage so that we can give real freedom a chance.”
“Real freedom?” From “constitutional bondage?”
These assertions are demonstrably illogical. Arguing one’s freedom would improve by allowing government to tighten its grip is like arguing one’s breathing would improve by allowing an Anaconda to do the same. Yet we are supposed to accept the ongoing suffocation of our freedom and free markets in the name of expediting a socialist agenda that is bankrupting our country? And give up more of our money — and our guns — to the new overlords?
Like so many ivory tower leftists whose anti-American views hold sway in Washington, D.C., Seidman sees the Constitution as something to be shaken off — like a bad cold. Of course what he fails to recognize is that his prescription for constitutional emasculation would kill the very source of the federal government’s power and legitimacy.
Absent the Constitution, there is no government — only anarchy. One cannot destroy our founding document without destroying the nation it created (or what’s left of it). And make no mistake — once freed from any real or implied constraint, government becomes the tyranny our Founding Fathers (and most present-day Americans) fear.
In other words it ceases to be America.
In California, Gov. Jerry Brown has signed into law an astounding 876 new mandates. They all took effect last week. Now, in the Golden State, you cannot do the following:
--Hunt a bear using trained dogs. Untrained canines are OK, I guess. And how would the authorities be able to tell? Would the dog have to take a test in the forest?
--Sit in an off-road vehicle without being in a seat. You can't sit on the floor or on the roof. Do off-road vehicles even have roofs? I don't know.
--Use a boat in a "freshwater body" without paying a separate fee. The purpose of the fee is to raise money to control the influx of "invasive mussels." I thought that was a 1950s monster movie.
--Drive a party bus without a special license. Can't wait to see that test. "Do you know the words to 'Celebration' by Kool and the Gang?"
The list of new laws is almost endless, and it is clear that Brown and the California legislature have been very busy thinking up ways to control every aspect of people's lives. And that is what's basically happening throughout this country. Politicians, some of them well-meaning, are trying to legislate everything.
New York's Mayor Michael Bloomberg doesn't want us to be chubby, so he's trying to ban soft drinks in large cups. If a child rides his bike, he often looks like a Roman gladiator with all the protective gear. Drive through a yellow light, and you may be ticketed thanks to a camera tied to a pole. Everybody's watching everything -- and then sending it out to the world via technology.
The more laws that governments pass the less individual freedom there is. Any student of history will tell you that. Totalitarian countries ban pretty much everything. The Taliban whipped people in public for dancing. Mao would execute you for saying a prayer. Hitler would send you to a concentration camp if he thought you were gay.
We Americans need to stop this nanny state stuff. Reasonable protections are fine. It should be a crime to text while driving. But in California it is now against the law to park at a broken meter for more time than you could if said meter were working. I can just see the cops standing there with a stopwatch.
I consider myself a law-abiding person. But I'm exhausted. I don't know where to put the bottles, newspapers, cans and other stuff for garbage pickup outside my house. The rules are so thick you need someone from MIT to explain them.
So here's my pitch to Brown and other elected officials: Relax. The bears will be fine. The mussels will invade no matter what you do. The parking meter deal isn't important. OK?
It's all about Obama
Do you remember what the mainstream media mainly talked about as the country careened toward the fiscal cliff? Did they talk about the harmful economic effects of impending tax increases? Did they talk about which tax increases would be worse than others? Did they talk about the need to get rid of waste in government without causing economic harm?
No. None of that. The taking heads and opinion writers focused like a laser on one and only one question: who was going to get the blame if we went over the cliff.
Up next will be the debt ceiling deadline (in a matter of weeks), then the automatic sequester of federal spending (in less than two months), and then (in three months) comes a close-down-the-government-moment, when Congress will have to pass a continuing resolution, because it can't seem to ever pass a real budget. Through it all, expect more of the same. Instead of real issues, the media will treat these events like a boxing match. Who's landing a blow? Who's getting hurt?
Think about that for a moment. If we don't curtail entitlement spending, we're going to end up like Greece. Even the Democrats are unwilling to tax enough to pay the bills. But none of this is interesting to people who talk and write for a living. Only the blame game holds their attention.
OK. I'm willing to devote at least one column to that topic and here is my answer: President Obama deserves about 90 percent of the blame for these crises. Here's why.
During the 2008 election, I was actually hopeful about Barack Obama. He was the only serious candidate in the Democratic primary who said we need to do something about entitlement spending, including Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. For this, he took much abuse from the left, including scathing condemnation by Paul Krugman in The New York Times. Yet he stood his ground.
What made me especially hopeful was that Barack Obama was a liberal Democrat. Just as it took a Republican (Richard Nixon) to go to China, I fear it will take a Democrat to reform entitlements. Bill Clinton was about to do what needs to be done with Social Security and Medicare until Monica Lewinski derailed him. Then George Bush proved that Republicans are never going to be able to reform Social Security. Perhaps, Barack Obama could pick up where Bill Clinton left off. Could that really happen?
After the election, I became even more hopeful. When President Obama appointed Alan Simpson and Erskind Bowles to head a commission to tackle the problem of ever escalating federal debt, even the Republicans in Congress were opposed. But the president forged ahead, despite no congressional support. He met personally with Simpson and Bowles and promised them that he would back their recommendations — let the chips fall where they may.
Alan Simpson is a former Republican senator from Wyoming. Erskind Bowles is the former chief of staff to Bill Clinton. This bipartisan approach was exactly what Barack Obama campaigned on and it is why many people (including many Republicans) voted for him.
The Simpson/Bowles recommendations were released in December 2010. But there was no meeting at the White House. In fact, the president greeted the report with stony silence. In January, there was no mention of the report in his State of the Union speech to Congress. There was nothing in the president's budget that year either. It was as though Simpson and Bowles did not exist.
Then the president did something unforgivable. In the spring of 2011, he invited Paul Ryan to a public event with the promise that "Congressman Ryan will really like what the president has to say." Ryan was head of the House Budget Committee and the main person the president would have to deal with if there was to be any bipartisan solution to our budget crises. Then, in front of a national television audience, the president gratuitously lashed out at Ryan — even accusing him of being "un-American" for his views on how to reduce budget deficits.
Many of us were stunned. Politicians rarely attack other politicians if they don't have to. When they're running against each other, it's no holds barred. But when they have to legislate together, there is nothing gained and a lot to lose by publically humiliating a member of the opposite party.
To this day, I'll never understand why Barack Obama chose to pull off that stunt. It was a public repudiation of every principle he ran on in his quest for the presidency. But I do know this. From that day forward, there has been a different Obama in the White House.
In the latest round of negotiations, the president repeatedly mischaracterized the Republican position. Remember: last fall's election is over. The president now has to work with Republicans to solve critical budget problems. Yet in discussing those efforts publically, time and again the president has gone out of his way to insult and demean the very people he is negotiating with.
The Republicans, according to the president, care only about millionaires and billionaires. He, on the other hand, is protecting the middle class by insisting they get to keep their tax cuts. What tax cuts? The Bush tax cuts. The tax cuts that Obama and most other congressional Democrats voted against, campaigned against and attacked time and again as the cause of spiraling federal deficits!
As I wrote last week, the Republicans were foolish to let the president become the public defender of the very low tax rates for the middle class — the very tax rates the Democrats once opposed. But let me return once more to the blame game.
If the press reports can be believed, it was Republican Senate leader Mitch McConnell who kept us from going over the fiscal cliff. He did it by recruiting Vice President Joe Biden to help reach a deal, while the president was vacationing in Hawaii.
I'm not sure what makes Obama tick. I have no idea what motivates him. I have no idea what he is trying to do. I am sure about one thing: in the current fiscal impasse, Barack Obama is the one who is most at fault.
To top it off, David Brooks reminds us of this bizarre fact:
"President Obama excoriated Paul Ryan for offering a budget that would cut spending on domestic programs from its historical norm of 3 or 4 percent of G.D.P. all the way back to 1.8 percent. But the Obama budget is the Ryan budget. According to the Office of Management and Budget, Obama will cut domestic discretionary spending back to 1.8 percent of G.D.P. in six years."
Panetta warns of hiring freeze, deep cuts at Pentagon
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said Thursday he has ordered the Pentagon to begin planning now for the triple crisis facing the government this March, telling reporters it was a “perfect storm” that could leave the military with a worst-case outcome: a “hollow force.”
Panetta and the nation’s top uniformed officer, Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey, said in a briefing that March’s potential across-the-board budget cuts, the expiration of the continuing spending resolution that now pays for the government and the potential that the U.S. could default on its debt all were too serious not to begin immediate preparations.
“The fact is, looking at all three of those, we have no idea what the hell’s going to happen,” Panetta told reporters at the Pentagon. “All told this uncertainty, if left unresolved by the Congress, will seriously harm our military readiness.”
He said the Pentagon would pull back on military maintenance that wasn’t critical to immediate missions, freeze civilian hiring, stop issuing certain contracts and take “other steps” against the possibility of a roughly $45 billion budget across-the-board spending cut that could take effect in March, unless Congress intervenes.
An even larger cut would have taken place on Jan. 2, but Congress and the White House agreed to postpone it for two months as part of their deal to avert the fiscal cliff.
Congress’ decision to push back that cut, but not to void it altogether, is what has made Panetta and Dempsey pessimistic that lawmakers would be able to resolve March’s triple crisis a timely fashion.
“I’d like to believe that ultimately, Congress will do the right thing,” Panetta said. Now, however, “my fear in talking to members of Congress is that this issue may now be in a very difficult place in terms of their willingness to confront what needs to be done to de-trigger sequester. So all those reasons, plus the uncertainty about what happen on the CR, the debt ceiling, put all that together, and we simply cannot sit back now and not be prepared for the worst.”
Dempsey described why sequestration would be so devastating — the law requires imposing all the first year’s cuts at once, and each passing day leaves less time in the fiscal year to absorb them. If sequester hit on March 1, that would mean only seven months, instead of a full 12, for example, increasing the blow for the services.
“It’s the burn rate,” he went on. “The burn rate is unsustainable. We have to now take measures to prepare for that eventuality.”
Dempsey said that even though he and the heads of the military services would do their best to protect the readiness of units fighting in Afghanistan, they necessarily would have to cut back on the money available to train and maintain other units returning from or preparing for the war.
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The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialist) and the full name of Hitler's political party (translated) was "The National Socialist German Workers' Party" (In German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei)
Franklin Delano Roosevelt was a war criminal. Both British and American codebreakers had cracked the Japanese naval code so FDR knew what was coming at Pearl Harbor. But for his own political reasons he warned no-one there. So responsibility for the civilian and military deaths at Pearl Harbor lies with FDR as well as with the Japanese. The huge firepower available at Pearl Harbor, both aboard ship and on land, could have largely neutered the attack. Can you imagine 8 battleships and various lesser craft firing all their AA batteries as the Japanese came in? The Japanese naval airforce would have been annihilated and the war would have been over before it began.
Posted by JR at 1:48 AM