Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Our Dysfunctional Republic Part 5

Article 1
The Legislative Branch

NOTE: Before I begin discussing the Constitution and what it actually says, I want to state that it would be worth everyone's time to read it, either before or during my discussion of the various articles. There is no way I can keep these essays brief if I go over each Article in microscopic detail. I am only trying to give an overview of what they say, and give a few examples of how our government is not playing by the rules, so to speak.

As we have already discussed, to legislate means to create laws. Article 1, Section 1of the Constitution states "All legislative powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States, which shall consist of a Senate and House of Representatives."

I would hope that most, if not all, Americans are aware that it is the job of Congress, both the House of Representatives and the Senate, to create the laws which govern this country. However I wonder if they are aware of what the Constitution actually says regarding our Congress, and the limits it places upon what they can actually do.

Each branch of our federal government, as outlined in the Constitution, was set up to provide an intricate set of checks and balances so that no one branch held all the power or encroached upon another branch. This was done on purpose and has since been altered by the 17th amendment, which I will go into shortly.

It is clear by the following quote, found in Federalist #48 by James Madison, that the idea of keeping the individual branches of our government independent of each other was of great importance.

"It is agreed on all sides, that the powers properly belonging to one of the departments ought not to be directly and completely administered by either of the other departments. It is equally evident, that none of them ought to possess, directly or indirectly, an overruling influence over the others, in the administration of their respective powers. It will not be denied, that power is of an encroaching nature, and that it ought to be effectually restrained from passing the limits assigned to it."

Each house of Congress had powers that were specifically theirs. For instance the House of Representatives has the power to impeach, yet the Senate has the power to try those impeachments. The House of Representatives has the authority to proposing bills that raise revenue, while the Senate has the power to add amendments to those bills.

All these separations were put into place for a specific reason, and to tinker with that delicate balance of power was to invite disaster. Article I, Section 3 of the Constitution clearly states that "The Senate of the United States shall be composed of two Senators from each state, chosen by the legislature thereof..."

In the Federalist Papers, both Alexander Hamilton and James Madison explain why this specific clause was put into the Constitution. In Federalist #27, Hamilton states,

"Various reasons have been suggested, in the course of these papers, to induce a probability that the general government will be better administered than the particular governments; the principal of which reasons are that the extension of the spheres of election will present a greater option, or latitude of choice, to the people; that through the medium of the State legislatures which are select bodies of men, and which are to appoint the members of the national Senate there is reason to expect that this branch will generally be composed with peculiar care and judgment"

In Federalist #62 Madison states, "It is equally unnecessary to dilate on the appointment of senators by the State legislatures. Among the various modes which might have been devised for constituting this branch of the government, that which has been proposed by the convention is probably the most congenial with the public opinion. It is recommended by the double advantage of favoring a select appointment, and of giving to the State governments such an agency in the formation of the federal government as must secure the authority of the former, and may form a convenient link between the two systems."

It was clear that the framers of the Constitution wanted the Senate to be tied to the state legislatures, which would give the states some say in the makeup and decision making of the federal government. All that changed with the 17th Amendment, which reads, "The Senate of the United States shall be composed of two Senators from each state, elected by the people thereof..." The states no longer have any say in the action of the federal government. The various state legislatures are reduced to mere lobbyists who can only urge the government to act in their behalf, where as before they had direct access via the ability to elect Senators who were beholden to the states.

The 17th Amendment was passed to correct procedural problems in which states went without representation in the Senate due to them being deadlocked when attempting to select a Senator to represent them in Congress. It would have been better to correct this procedural problem while leaving the states the power to select their own Senators. Now the states have slowly begun to lose their sovereignty to the federal government.

Now I would like to take some time to cover the specific powers granted to our Congress according to the Constitution. According to Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution, the Congress is only granted authority to legislate on the following items.

-to lay and collect taxes, duties, imposts and excises

-to pay the debts and provide for the common defense and general welfare of the United States; but all duties, imposts and excises shall be uniform throughout the United States

-To borrow money on the credit of the United States

-To regulate commerce with foreign nations, and among the several states, and with the Indian tribes

-To establish a uniform rule of naturalization, and uniform laws on the subject of bankruptcies throughout the United States

-To coin money, regulate the value thereof, and of foreign coin, and fix the standard of weights and measures

-To provide for the punishment of counterfeiting the securities and current coin of the United States

-To establish post offices and post roads

-To promote the progress of science and useful arts, by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries;

-To constitute tribunals inferior to the Supreme Court;

-To define and punish piracies and felonies committed on the high seas, and offenses against the law of nations;

-To declare war, grant letters of marque and reprisal, and make rules concerning captures on land and water;

-To raise and support armies, but no appropriation of money to that use shall be for a longer term than two years;

-To provide and maintain a navy;

-To make rules for the government and regulation of the land and naval forces;

-To provide for calling forth the militia to execute the laws of the union, suppress insurrections and repel invasions;

-To provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining, the militia, and for governing such part of them as may be employed in the service of the United States, reserving to the states respectively, the appointment of the officers, and the authority of training the militia according to the discipline prescribed by Congress;

-To exercise exclusive legislation in all cases whatsoever, over such District (not exceeding ten miles square) as may, by cession of particular states, and the acceptance of Congress, become the seat of the government of the United States, and to exercise like authority over all places purchased by the consent of the legislature of the state in which the same shall be, for the erection of forts, magazines, arsenals, dockyards, and other needful buildings;--

-To make all laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into execution the foregoing powers, and all other powers vested by this Constitution in the government of the United States, or in any department or officer thereof.

Briefly now I would like to go over some of the authorities that Congress has not followed according to their constitutional mandate.

First off, the Congress has the power to coin money. Repeatedly they have given that power away to a central bank whose only interest is in their own profits. Andrew Jackson, the 17th President of the United States fought long and hard to do away with one of these central banks. Now we are under the influence of the Federal Reserve Bank, another privately owned bank that has been given a charter to coin our money and regulate its value. Thomas Jefferson had this to say about the banking industry, "If the American people ever allow private banks to control the issue of their money, first by inflation and then by deflation, the banks and corporations that will grow up around them (around the banks), will deprive the people of their property until their children will wake up homeless on the continent their fathers conquered." Nowhere in the Constitution does it say that the Congresses can give away the power to coin money and regulate its value to privately owned banks, therefore they have no right to do so.

Another power granted to Congress is that of declaring war. This is a touchy subject for many, with our current involvement in Iraq. Yet it is clearly stated that it is the Congress only who can declare war. How many wars have been fought without a declaration of war by Congress? Congress has given the President the authority to use military force, once again in their history, although in my opinion they made a terrible blunder when they stated in the Authorization For Use Of United States Armed Forces by saying, "The President is authorized to use the Armed Forces of the United States as he determines to be necessary and appropriate in order to.." This was a blank check for the president, which he has abused and put our country into serious debt and at the same time increasing anti-American sentiments among a majority of the Arab countries of the world.

Finally the Congress has the power to call forth the militia to "execute the laws of the union, suppress insurrections and repel invasions" The dictionary defines an invasion as, an act or instance of invading, and one of the definitions for invade is to encroach upon. Illegal immigration on the scale with which we now suffer from can be considered nothing less than an invasion. Yet our Congress refuses to call forth the militia to defend our borders. The National Guard has been sent in limited numbers and with severe restrictions upon what it's duties are, so in effect they are useless against the tide of humanity that breaches our nations borders every day. With the current war on terror this is an unacceptable neglect of their constitutional obligation to defend our nation.

Those are just a few examples of their negligence. I am sure if you wanted to you could find more yourself, but for brevities sake I am trying to keep this as short as possible.

The next area of Article I of the Constitution is Section 9, the restrictions placed upon Congress. Section 9 states,

-The migration or importation of such persons as any of the states now existing shall think proper to admit, shall not be prohibited by the Congress prior to the year one thousand eight hundred and eight, but a tax or duty may be imposed on such importation, not exceeding ten dollars for each person.

-The privilege of the writ of habeas corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in cases of rebellion or invasion the public safety may require it.

-No bill of attainder or ex post facto Law shall be passed.

-No capitation, or other direct, tax shall be laid, unless in proportion to the census or enumeration herein before directed to be taken.

-No tax or duty shall be laid on articles exported from any state.

-No preference shall be given by any regulation of commerce or revenue to the ports of one state over those of another: nor shall vessels bound to, or from, one state, be obliged to enter, clear or pay duties in another.

-No money shall be drawn from the treasury, but in consequence of appropriations made by law; and a regular statement and account of receipts and expenditures of all public money shall be published from time to time.

-No title of nobility shall be granted by the United States: and no person holding any office of profit or trust under them, shall, without the consent of the Congress, accept of any present, emolument, office, or title, of any kind whatever, from any king, prince, or foreign state.

The are two parts of section 9 that I would like to discuss. The first is this, "The privilege of the writ of habeas corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in cases of rebellion or invasion the public safety may require it." On September 28, 2006 the Senate signed the Military Commissions Act, which effectively grants the president the power to do just that, suspend habeas corpus for those whom he deems are attempting to harm this country. According to President Bush, the fact that the media was discussing certain policies the president was using in his war on terror was causing our country harm,. "For people to leak that program and for a newspaper to publish it does great harm to the United States of America."

Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont said the following about the Military Commissions Act, "The bill before us would not merely suspend the great writ—the great writ—the writ of habeas corpus, it just eliminates it permanently. " We are not facing any rebellion, not that I am aware of anyway, and we are not being invaded, otherwise our Congress would have called forth the militia to defend us from it. So would Congress sign a bill which does away with such an important right? It is clearly a violation of their Constitutional powers to do so, and it is something you should be deeply concerned about.

Thomas Jefferson had this to say about the suspension of habeas corpus, "Why suspend the habeas corpus in insurrections and rebellions? Examine the history of England. See how few of the cases of the suspension of the habeas corpus law have been worthy of that suspension. They have been either real treasons, wherein the parties might as well have been charged at once, or sham plots, where it was shameful they should ever have been suspected. Yet for the few cases wherein the suspension of the habeas corpus has done real good, that operation is now become habitual and the minds of the nation almost prepared to live under its constant suspension."

The last part of Section 9 I would like to cover is this, "No capitation, or other direct, tax shall be laid..." Yet the 16th amendment changed all that by stating that, "The Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes on incomes, from whatever source derived, without apportionment among the several states, and without regard to any census or enumeration." To understand the original intent of the Constitution you need to understand what a capitation is. Capitation, in regards to taxes, is a tax on the wages of the earner. Therefore prior to 1913, when the 16th amendment was ratified, there was no tax on your income.

As I previously mentioned in Part 1 of this series, William Henry Harrison said, “The only legitimate right to govern is an express grant of power from the governed.” Now why would any sane person propose a Constitutional amendment that would impose a tax upon the wages he earned? There are numerous people who have studied this and many have come to the conclusion that the 16th amendment was never properly ratified due to procedural mistakes. I am not here to argue that or not. I only want to discuss that as original designed, the Constitution granted Congress no power to tax your wages.

Jefferson said about taxes, "To lay taxes to provide for the general welfare of the United States, that is to say, 'to lay taxes for the purpose of providing for the general welfare.' For the laying of taxes is the power, and the general welfare the purpose for which the power is to be exercised. They are not to lay taxes ad libitum for any purpose they please; but only to pay the debts or provide for the welfare of the Union."

There are numerous cases presently were people have researched the income tax laws and found them to be invalid. These people have petitioned the government to show them the law that states a persons income is subject to a direct tax. The government has refused to provide this information. Why would our government refuse to settle this once and for all by providing proof that this law exists? It does make you wonder about the validity of the 16th amendment and the continual plunder of the wages of the American public. Whatever the case, it goes against the original intent of the Constitution prior to the ratification of the 16th amendment.

Finally, Section 10 of Article 1 outlines the restrictions placed upon the states by the Constitution. They are as follows,

-No state shall enter into any treaty, alliance, or confederation; grant letters of marque and reprisal; coin money; emit bills of credit; make anything but gold and silver coin a tender in payment of debts; pass any bill of attainder, ex post facto law, or law impairing the obligation of contracts, or grant any title of nobility.

-No state shall, without the consent of the Congress, lay any imposts or duties on imports or exports, except what may be absolutely necessary for executing it's inspection laws: and the net produce of all duties and imposts, laid by any state on imports or exports, shall be for the use of the treasury of the United States; and all such laws shall be subject to the revision and control of the Congress.

-No state shall, without the consent of Congress, lay any duty of tonnage, keep troops, or ships of war in time of peace, enter into any agreement or compact with another state, or with a foreign power, or engage in war, unless actually invaded, or in such imminent danger as will not admit of delay.

That is it, Article 1, the powers and authority granted to the Legislative branch of our government. I would urge each of you to read through it in its entirety and ponder the things that our government is doing, or considering doing. This is even more important now that an election cycle is underway. Their is talk among many of the candidates of a government health care program. Nowhere in the Constitution does it say the government has the right or authority to mandate health care. There are so many areas that our government has overstepped it's authority that I could go on for pages. I have only just scratched the surface. I am hoping that you will take the time to think about what your congressman and senator is doing and hold them accountable to their oath to uphold the Constitution. After all, without it they have no power to begin with.

to be continued...

Our Dysfunctional Republic Part 4

It is estimated that close to a million people visit our nations National Archives every year. For many of those people, it must be similar to a pilgrimage to see a sacred part of our nations history. I wonder though, how many of those visitors could tell you what the Constitution actually says? If the percentage is similar to what I have encountered, I would venture to guess that not many at all could tell you much about what the Constitution actually says.

Not only is that unfortunate, it is truly pathetic. This document describes exactly what our government can and cannot do. How can the people of this country know if, and when, their government is overstepping their authority if they do not understand what authority their government has to begin with?

I have used this quote by Patrick Henry on a previous occasion, but I feel it is important enough that it be considered again, "The Constitution is not an instrument for the government to restrain the people, it is an instrument for the people to restrain the government-- lest it come to dominate our lives and interests."

If you were to take the time to examine the laws our government has been passing you would find that our government is doing just what Patrick Henry said the constitution was to safeguard us from. The tables have been turned and that the laws our government is passing are, for all intensive purposes, restraining the people of this country and infringing upon our personal liberties.

Article 6 of the Constitution clearly states that, "This Constitution, and the laws of the United States which shall be made in pursuance thereof; ... shall be the supreme law of the land; and the judges in every state shall be bound thereby..."

To understand what is meant by the individual clauses of the Constitution you must have a rudimentary understanding of English, a decent vocabulary, and the proper usage of grammar. Take the above sentence from Article 6, "This Constitution, and the laws of the United States which shall be made in the pursuance thereof...shall be the supreme law of the land." That could easily be misunderstood, or misrepresented to mean that all laws passed by the government are the supreme laws of the land. Not so! Look up the word pursuance and you will see that it means, the act of carrying into effect. So, in truth what that statement says is that the Constitution, and all the laws that are passed which aid in carrying into effect those contained within it are to be considered the supreme law of the land. It does not mean that every law that our government passes is legal, valid, or to be considered binding.

In the Federalist Papers, #78, written by Alexander Hamilton, we find the following, "There is no position which depends on clearer principles, than that every act of a delegated authority, contrary to the tenor of the commission under which it is exercised, is void. No legislative act, therefore, contrary to the Constitution, can be valid."

The Constitution was, as Patrick Henry explained, an 'instrument for the people to restrain the government'. Think of it as a handbook, a guide, so the people would know just exactly what the government could and could not do. So according to Article 6, it is the supreme law of the land, and according to Alexander Hamilton, 'No legislative act, therefore, contrary to the Constitution, can be valid.' Therefore if we are not informed as to what the Constitution says, we cannot be know if the laws our government is passing are within it's powers or if they are beyond their powers.

Each and every elected official, from the president to all our senators and congressmen are bound by oath to support that document. They are there to represent the people of this country, not to rule over them. Thomas Jefferson once said, "The will of the people is the only legitimate foundation of any government..."

Before I go any further I want to explain something. You will by now have noticed that I rely heavily upon quotations by our founding fathers. The reason for this is best explained in a quote by James Madison, "Do not separate text from historical background. If you do, you will have perverted and subverted the Constitution, which can only end in a distorted, bastardized form of illegitimate government."

What Madison meant is that to truly understand the Constitution, you must rely upon the historical background behind it. If you do not, the Constitution is open to misinterpretation which will lead to a form of government that does not follow the guidelines contained within it. The best way to understand the Constitution is to rely upon the writings of those who created it. Only they can explain what they meant by the words contained within it.

The Constitution was fought for and debated upon by people who had recently fought a war for their independence from a tyrannical government. They wanted to ensure that the form of government they created would never end up like the one they had just fought. Every article, every clause, every phrase of the Constitution should be read keeping that thought in mind.

The Constitution, as ratified, contains seven articles and ten amendments, which are known as the Bill of Rights. Article 1 covers the legislative branch of the government. Article 2 covers the Executive branch, or the President and Vice President. Article 3 covers the Judicial branch. Article 4 covers the rights of the states in respect to the union. Article 5 covers the process for amending the Constitution. Article 6 covers the legal status of the Constitution, and Article 7 covers the ratification process.

One final note before I start my discussion of Article 1. The terms legislative and Executive need be understood by all who wish to understand the functions of those particular branches of our government. Legislative comes from the root word legislate, or to create law. The Executive comes from the root word execute, or to do what is called for (as by law). In the Federalist Papers, # 75, Alexander Hamilton states, "The essence of the legislative authority is to enact laws, or in other words, to prescribe rules for the regulation of the society: while the execution of the laws and the employment of the common strength, either for this purpose, or for the common defence seem to comprise all the functions of the executive magistrate." In other words, the Congress has the power to create the laws, while the president puts them into effect and makes sure they are enforced. If you understand that it will be much easier to understand the violations that have taken place by the various branches of our government. be continued

Monday, October 08, 2007

An Honest State of the Union Address

If Our President Told The Truth
Neal Ross
October 8, 2007

I received some positive feedback from my recent article entitled, "The State of the Union Is Strong-NOT!" That got the gears turning in my head today while I was at work. I began to wonder what a state of the union address might sound like if our president actually told the truth. From there it evolved into something like this...

Mr. Speaker, Mr. Vice President, Members of Congress, fellow citizens, the state of the union is poor. I would go so far as to say that our union is in critical condition. Years of abuse by your government, and neglect by the citizens who should have kept a watchful eye on us have allowed our nation to come to the brink of disaster.

Two hundred and thirty one years ago, the brave founders of this country decided that they had lived long enough under tyrannical rule and they drafted the Declaration of Independence, which severed their ties with Britain.

However, gaining their independence wasn't as easy as signing their names to that document, they had to fight for their freedom. Many patriots lost their lives to provide you with the opportunity to live free of governmental interference and restrictions. You have squandered that by your apathy and ignorance. Thomas Jefferson once said, "If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be."

Your apathy and lack of understanding of the powers delegated to your government have allowed this government to strip away your freedoms and lead you slowly, but surely, down the path to tyranny.

Alexander Tyler once described that path that all democracies must take. They begin in bondage which leads to spiritual faith. They then find great courage which allows them to obtain liberty. After achieving liberty they find abundance. However abundance leads to selfishness, which then leads to complacency. Complacency then leads to apathy. After becoming apathetic a democracy then becomes dependent upon their government, which then comes full circle back unto bondage.

Again I would like to quote from Jefferson, "A government big enough to give you everything you want, is strong enough to take everything you have." This is what your apathy has wrought. Your government is now all powerful, all encompassing. There is little you can do without permission from your government. Your personal freedom and liberty has all but vanished. You are controlled and manipulated into believing that you have a say in how your country is run, when the truth is that you are little more than peasants who feed the machinery of government and corporate desires.

This government that you have trusted to act in your best interests has sold you down the river for corporate and global interests. We have borrowed and spent, and borrowed again until our national debt is upwards of $83 trillion dollars. We cannot tax you enough to pay it off, even if we wanted to. Your hard earned tax dollars, which we steal from you via an illegal income tax goes towards the interest on the loans we have taken to fund our gluttonous spending habits.

Ninety four years ago your Congress began this by signing into law the Federal Reserve Act. We gave away our Constitutional power to coin our own money to a group of privately owned banks. They loan us the money to run our government, while you pay the interest via your taxes. You have been duped my fellow Americans, and it is far too late to do anything about it.

If you had read your history and paid attention to what your founding fathers said, this could not have happened, as you had been warned by Jefferson, "If the American people ever allow private banks to control the issue of their money, first by inflation and then by deflation, the banks and corporations that will grow up around them (around the banks), will deprive the people of their property until their children will wake up homeless on the continent their fathers conquered."

You are probably asking yourself how this could have happened, how could we have allowed this to happen. It is quite simple actually. First of all we stripped you of your faith. You may still believe that you are a Christian people, but in all actuality the politically correct movement, as well as the misuse of the concept of the separation of church and state has allowed us to remove God from your lives.

You cannot openly condemn immorality now without being accused of hate speech, intolerance, or any number of labels that we have created to silence you. Again, if you had paid heed to your founding fathers you would have resisted these impositions upon your right to worship openly and condemn immorality. George Washington long ago told you what would secure your freedom, but you did not heed his words, "Of all the dispositions and habits, which lead to political prosperity, Religion and Morality are indispensable supports. In vain would that man claim the tribute of Patriotism, who should labor to subvert these great pillars of human happiness, these firmest props of the duties of Men and Citizens. The mere Politician, equally with the pious man, ought to respect and to cherish them."

Our nation was at one time virtuous and God fearing. We also were a self sufficient nation. People labored and were raised to be self reliant. Those days are long gone, thanks to former President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. President Roosevelt's New Deal created a dependency that has been growing ever since.

Benjamin Franklin once told us that, "The Constitution only gives people the right to pursue happiness. You have to catch it yourself." Thomas Jefferson also warned you that, "The democracy will cease to exist when you take away from those who are willing to work and give to those who would not."

Finally, we realized that there would come a time when the American people would begin to see what we have been doing, that their eyes would open to the truth. We have prepared for that as well. Under the guise of fighting a war on terror we have signed into law numerous pieces of legislation which gives us extraordinary powers to strip away the last vestiges of liberty as written into your Bill of Rights. All it would take is a stroke of my pen to declare a national emergency and your rights will be gone forever.

Again, the founding fathers warned you of this as well. James Madison warned you by saying, "I believe there are more instances of the abridgement of freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments by those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations." Benjamin Franklin offered this stern warning as well, "They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety."

As you can plainly see, the union that was created by your founding fathers, those men who risked their lives and fortunes for something they held so dear, is all but gone. Your apathy, your ignorance as to the true function of government, has allowed us to steal it away from you.

As I conclude my state of the union address I would like to leave you with one final quote by Samuel Adams. He once spoke to those who were unwilling to fight for their liberty and he had some harsh words for them, "If ye love wealth greater than liberty, the tranquility of servitude greater than the animating contest for freedom, go home from us in peace. We seek not your counsel, nor your arms. Crouch down and lick the hand that feeds you; May your chains set lightly upon you, and may posterity forget that ye were our countrymen."

My fellow Americans, you had all the warning and power to stop this from happening. You chose to watch your television sets and trust that we were acting in your best interests. The time has come for you to pay for you lack of attention to the affairs of your government. Welcome to the New World Order.

Banging my head against the wall

Sometimes I wonder if I suffer from a case of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. I have certain character traits that lead me to believe that this may be true. For one thing I am very organized at home, everything has to be in its place. I also consider myself a creature of habit. I have a pretty strict schedule I set for myself, and if something comes up that throws me off schedule I tend to get a bit disorientated.
What really bothers me though is my compulsion to write, to express myself. I am like those gym rats who feel like a part of them is missing if they don’t go to the gym every day to work out. I feel the same if I don’t write at least something, no matter how small and insignificant.

Like most writers, I hope that I am reaching at least a small audience, and that my words give meaning to someone. When I first started writing to say that my ability to express myself clearly would be an understatement. Over time, and with much practice I feel that I have improved and therefore am able to get my point across much better. This apparently is the case, as I have received numerous e mails containing kudos for the things I have to say and the way that I say them. Even the negative letters I have received have been written more in the vein of constructive criticism than opposing my views.

However with the type of writing that I tend to do, politically based articles and letters, I hope for more than just an e mail response saying something along the lines of ‘good job’, ‘great article’, or something like that. I hope to stimulate people into action. I hope to motivate people into making a change in this country for the better.

When I get e mails after my articles are posted on the internet, I do get some satisfaction in knowing that I am not alone in thinking the way that I do. Unfortunately I also get the feeling that I am sometimes preaching to the choir. The people who subscribe to the mailing lists and visit the webpages where my material is posted already are pretty much in synch with what I say anyway. So my articles are being read by people who, for the most part, agree with me.

I also print out a good portion of what I write and take it to work. I leave it laying around for people to read in the hopes that someone might take an interest in the subjects I write about. For the most part I have been unsuccessful in doing that.
I mentioned that to someone I respect and she reminded me of the scripture found in Matthew 13:57 “A prophet is not without honor except in his hometown and in his own household."

I am not comparing myself to a prophet, but the similarity still is something that I can relate to. Hence the title of this piece, Banging My Head Against A Wall. That is what I feel like I am doing sometimes, banging my head against a wall. It seems like no matter what words I string together, what facts I provide, how obnoxious I get, I cannot seem to break through to enough people to change the course of events that are destroying this country.

I don’t expect to change things all by myself, my ego isn’t that inflated. However I do wish that I could reach at least one or two people who in turn might be able to reach one or two more. I can accept being called a kook or a conspiracy nut by the majority of the people I talk to about these issues. It just seems that I am not reaching the people who need to be reached.

If this seems downbeat and disenchanted, fear not, I am not one to give up that easily. It is just that I am experiencing a bit of writers block. I am stuck trying find a new way to express myself so that my words will make a difference to just one or two people.

And don’t worry, I won’t quit banging my head against this wall. My wife says I am hard headed, so my skull can take the pounding. Maybe if I keep at it long enough a crack will appear and then the truth will begin to find its way to those on the other side of that wall.

As I said, I think I am somewhat compulsive and that I feel I must write something every day. So this is it for today. Hopefully tomorrow will be a new day with new ideas and new subject matter which will compel me to write with a bit more enthusiasm. Until then....

Sunday, October 07, 2007

The State of the Union Is Strong-MY ASS IT IS

The State of the Union is Strong....NOT!!!!

Neal Ross

October 6, 2007

Every year as per Article II, Section 3 of our Constitution, our President stands before the Congress and delivers a State of the Union address. It is almost guaranteed that, whoever is president, will open his speech by saying something along the likes of, 'the state of the union is good', or 'the state of the union is strong'.

BULLSHIT! Anyone who has been watching the news lately knows that our housing market is in serious trouble. Foreclosures are up and many new homes are sitting there empty because people cannot afford to take on the added burden of a mortgage payment. The U.S. dollar, or the Federal Reserve Dollar to be precise, is in a downhill slide in value. Wages in this country have stagnated and the money people do earn don't go as far as they used to. Life isn't rosy for the majority of Americans.

Just awhile back the FED lowered interest rates in the hopes of stimulating our economy and helping people out who are trying to hold on to their homes. The problem with that is that is the FED itself is a good portion of the problem. Thomas Jefferson warned us about what would happen if we gave banks the power to control our currency, "If the American people ever allow private banks to control the issue of their money, first by inflation and then by deflation, the banks and corporations that will grow up around them (around the banks), will deprive the people of their property until their children will wake up homeless on the continent their fathers conquered."

The FED is not my reason for writing at this time. I would like to return to how every president gets up and announces to Congress that the state of the union is good. Whenever they do that, they should be cuffed and arrested for telling a bold face lie to the people of this country.

The CIA, yes, that's right the Central Intelligence Agency, maintains a website that has some very interesting data on the financial status of the majority of the nations in the world, including the U.S. It is a kind of like a peek into the checkbook ledger to see how well each country is doing financially. Here is what it says about the United States:

Out of 120 countries listed, the United States is 30th in the world for public debt, with our public debt being roughly equal to 64.7% of the Gross Domestic Product.

Out of 147 countries listed, the United States ranks 124th for investment back into the country with only 16.6% of the Gross Domestic Product being reinvested into our country. We are behind such countries as New Gu inea, Kenya and even the little known country of Togo invests more of its GDP into its country than we do.

Out of 153 countries listed, the United States ranks a respectable 15th in reserves of foreign exchange and gold, with $ 69,190,000,000. Not bad for the supposed superpower and industrial giant we are supposed to be. We are only surpassed by Italy, Algeria, Malaysia, Mexico, Brazil, France, Hong Kong, Singapore, India, South Korea, Taiwan, Russia, Japan, and China, who has a whopping $1,034,000,000,000.

Now this is where it gets interesting, and where you should be upset that your president has had the unmitigated gall to stand before you and openly tell you a bald faced lie as to the state of our union.

Out of 163 countries listed for their account balance, the amount of money they have on hand to spend, we rank dead last. That's right, we are 163rd with a balance of

$ -862,300,000,000. Of course we are not the only one with a negative balance, but look at China who ranks number 1 with a plus balance of $ 179,100,000,000. You can thank all those Wal-Mart shoppers for propping up Chinas economy for that one.

Finally we have the total debt, this is the amount of money a country owes to someone else. This is where we take first place out of the 203 countries listed we owe a whopping $44,610,000,000,0 00.

That is a huge amount of money to be owing people. Guess what, it is your taxes, the taxes upon your children, and their children that are going to be paying the intereset upon that debt for years and years into the future.

If we do not finally come to realize that our government is not there to take care of our every need from cradle to grave, at the expense of the taxpayer, then they will continue to dig us deeper into financial ruin.

I would like for you to read a segment of an article entitled the Downfall of America, by Don Stott.

"What was America like before Roosevelt? It was wonderful! America was the manufacturing capital of the world, the richest nation on earth, and the happiest as well. There were no abandoned houses and cars in wrecked neighborhoods. Schools turned out graduates who could do math in their heads without calculators. There weren't any calculators! It you wanted to drive, you had to know how to shift gears, and if the wife wanted to prepare meals, she learned to cook, not defrost, microwave, or add water. Mom and Pop both working, was not even thought of, as the man of the house made enough money to support his family. Taxes were microscopic. There was no Social Security, Medicare, welfare, public housing, or handouts of any kind. You prepared for retirement by saving, and the dollar was as firm as a piece of granite. Not only were the coins made of silver, but the dollar was backed by gold, and people carried gold dollars in their pockets. We were the invention capital of the world. No nation had come close to out inventiveness and prosperity."

That is what our country used to be like before FDR introduced a system upon which Americans began to rely upon our government to provide for us from cradle to grave, before they began taxing us and borrowing money to finance their unconstitutional spending sprees. It is an America that Congressman Ron Paul is trying to restore.

I want you to think about these things when you cast your ballot for the next president. Think about all those promises they make and then ask yourself this, "How in the world are they going to pay for that?" After all, it is your money, via the taxes they steal from you, that will be paying for it.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Our Dysfunctional Republic Part 3

The American Revolution and the Constitution

With the Declaration on the Causes and Necessity of Taking Up Arms having been written, and the Declaration of Independence formally signed, America was now formally at war with Britain. Those who signed these documents, and who took up arms to fight against the crown were considered treasonous by the English. Nevertheless, they firmly believed in their cause, stating in the final paragraph of the Declaration of Independence, "...we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor".

Although the American Revolution was already underway, it was not as widely supported as you may have thought. There were still loyalists, those who wished to remain loyal subjects under English rule. The loyalists disagreed with the idea of American independence. Loyalists were numerous and included small farmers as well as large landowners, royal officeholders, and members of the professions. They were to be found in varying strength in every colony. There were also those who were neutral, having not taken either side in regards to the issue of independence. A notable division was between Benjamin Franklin, who supported the fight for independence, and his son William Franklin who was loyal to the crown.

The Revolutionary war began with the 'shot heard around the world', and, depending upon whether you consider it to have ended when General Cornwallis surrendered or when the Treaty of Paris was signed, the American Revolution lasted between 7 to 8 years.

It was not an easy battle, this fight for our nations independence. George Washington lost many of his first battles and the outcome was never certain. Fortunately, with increasing military skill, and aid from our allies, the colonies defeated the British, and in 1781, General Cornwallis surrendered at Yorktown. In 1783, the Treaty of Paris was signed, formally ending the War. America was now officially a free and independent nation.

The colonial patriots knew, that if they were successful in winning the fight for their independence, that they would need some form of government to hold the colonies together. Therefore on July 12, 1776, just eight days after signing the Declaration of Independence, drafted the Articles of Confederation, a constitutional agreement made between the 13 states. However, it wasn't until after many years, and just as many revisions, that they were formally adopted.

The Articles of Confederation, which contained 13 Articles, did such things as establish the name of our country, The United States of America, explained the rights of the individual states and the amount of power they were entitled to. It also bound them together for the common defense, gave people the right to freely move between one state and another, established the ability to extradite fugitives. It also allocated on vote in the Congress to each state, while members of Congress were appointed by state legislatures. It limited the power of the central government to conduct foreign relations and declaring war. Finally it made Congress the final court for disputes among states.

The Articles of Confederation severely limited the powers of the central government. For instance, they could not raise revenue for their operations. There was no executive branch to enforce the laws and no judicial branch to interpret them. There was only a Congress, and a President of the Continental Congress, whose job was similar to the Speaker of the House today, the most notable of these being John Hancock.

The Congress realized that the Articles of Confederation were weak and needed revision, therefore on February 21, 1787 Congress resolved: "It is expedient that on the second Monday in May next a Convention of delegates who shall have been appointed by the several States be held at Philadelphia for the sole and express purpose of revising the Articles of Confederation."

James Madison had for years been studying history and political theory, hoping to find a solution to the problems that faced America. Madison knew that the government and the states were on the brink of economic disaster, the Congress was running on a depleted treasury and paper money was flooding the country, causing extraordinary inflation. Many were being thrown into jail for failure to pay debts and farms were being confiscated and sold for the taxes owed. Madison, and many others understood that something had to be done if the country were to survive.

In September of 1786, commissioners from 5 states met in the Annapolis Convention. Their desire was to discuss how to adjust the Articles of Confederation so as to remedy to problems the country faced. They eventually invited representatives from all the states to Philadelphia to discuss improvements to the Articles of Confederation.

Of the seventy four delegates invited, fifty five attended, Rhode Island had decided not to send any delegates. They thought that the Philadelphia convention was an attempt to overthrow the existing government.

Many others felt the same way, including Patrick Henry, who claimed he 'smelled a rat'. He suspected that Madison had plans to create a powerful central government which would subvert the powers and authority of the states.

The first plan to be introduced at the Constitutional Convention was the Virginia Plan. On May 29, the governor of Virginia, Edmund Randolph opened the debate and outlined a broad plan that would create a government with three branches, executive, legislative, and judicial. Each branch had the power to keep the others in check, the basic framework of our current form of government today. However, under Randolph's plan, the federal government had the ability to veto legislation created by the states. The rat that Patrick Henry had smelled was now exposed.

Many of the smaller states were revolted by the plan for a strong central government. On June 13, delegates from the smaller states proposed the New Jersey Plan, a plan to merely modify the existing Articles of Confederation. This plan, although it showed the great division between ideas for a new form of government, was quickly voted down.

On June 18, Alexander Hamilton offered up his own proposal. Hamilton went so far as to call the British government 'the best in the world'. This did not go over well with many of the members of the convention. Hamilton's plan proposed an executive to serve for life during good behavior. This executive would have veto power over all laws. It would also include a Senate which had the power to pass all laws whatsoever. Hamilton's plan was defeated as well.

On June 29 the smaller states lost their first battle. The convention approved a resolution that established population as the basis for representation in the House of Representatives. This, of course, favored the larger states. On a following proposal which gave the smaller states equal representation, the vote ended in a tie. The friction at this point was palpable, as one delegate thought that the convention 'was on the verge of dissolution, scarce held together by the strength of an hair.'

By July, George Washington was so frustrated that he regretted having any agency in the proceedings. He went so far as to call the opponents of a strong central government 'narrow minded politicians'.

Luther Martin of Maryland, possibly one of those who Washington considered narrow minded responded by saying, "The States have a right to an equality of representation. This is secured to us by our present articles of confederation; we are in possession of this privilege."

The smaller states had become so disenchanted that they threatened to withdraw completely from the Convention. On July 2 they were still deadlocked over this issue so the subject was given to a committee of 11 to effect a compromise. On July 5 the committee submitted it's report, hereafter known as the Great Compromise. The report recommended that in the upper house each state would get an equal vote and in the lower house they would be represented according to population. All bills regarding taxation should originate from the lower house.

With al the animosity, the delegates were still able to put together a draft and on Monday August 6, 1787, it was presented to the convention. It was an actual article by article model which the members could review and consider for their approval. It wasn't soon that the air of compromise quickly evaporated. Controversy soon erupted over the regulation of commerce, with the southern states complaining that they would become nothing but overseers for the Northern States under the proposed Constitution. On August 31, George Mason wearily wrote that he would "sooner chop off his right hand than put it to the Constitution as it now stands."

These differences were eventually worked out and on September 12 a draft was ordered printed. It was then reviewed for three days by the delegates against the previous proceedings. The final draft was ordered printed by Jacob Shallus on September 15.

Even with the compromise and effort, not everyone was satisfied. Some delegates left before the final ceremony and three refused to sign the document. Realizing the impending difficulty of obtaining the consent of the states to the new instrument of Government, they were anxious to obtain the unanimous support of all the delegations from each state. In order that the Convention might appear to be unanimous, Governor Morris devised the formula "Done in Convention, by the unanimous consent of the States present the 17th of September...In witness whereof we hereunto subscribed our names."

On September 17, a speech written by Ben Franklin, was delivered by his colleague James Wilson in which was said, "I think it will astonish our enemies, who are waiting with confidence to hear that our councils are confounded like those of the builders of Babel; and that our States are on the point of separation, only to meet hereafter for the purpose of cutting one another's throats."

Upon leaving the convention on that final day, it was asked of Benjamin Franklin, "Well Doctor, what have we got--a Republic or a Monarchy?" To which Franklin replied, "A Republic, if you can keep it."

The delegates of the Philadelphia Convention had overcome their disagreements and created the Constitution that we now have. Yet the hard part was yet to come, getting the individual states to accept it. Almost immediately groups rose up against it because of the concept of the strong central government it proposed. Chief among these were the Anti-Federalists.

Scores of articles flooded that newspapers arguing against the proposed Constitution. It seemed that after all that work, the Constitution might never obtain enough votes to be ratified by the required number of states to go into effect.
In October, Anti-Federalist Samuel Bryan published the first of his 'Centinel' essays in which he argued against the power of the central government, the usurpation of state authority, and the lack of a bill of rights.

To counter the attacks against the Constitution, Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay penned a series of articles under the pseudonym Publius, which later came to be known as the Federalist Papers. These 85 essays outlined the inherent weaknesses of the Articles of Confederation and the reasons for supporting the proposed Constitution. Thomas Jefferson later called the Federalist Papers the "best commentary on the principles of government ever written."

Although the Federalist Papers had done much to help garner support for the Constitution, the Anti-Federalists still held a powerful card to play, the lack of a bill of rights. In addressing the Virginia convention, Patrick Henry asked, "What can avail your specious, imaginary balances, your rope-dancing, chain-rattling, ridiculous ideal checks and contrivances."

The Anti-Federalist demanded a more concise Constitution, one that out specifically the rights of the people and the limitations of the government. Alexander Hamilton, on the other hand felt that a bill of rights was dangerous, stating, "I go further, and affirm that bills of rights, in the sense and in the extent in which they are contended for, are not only unnecessary in the proposed constitution, but would even be dangerous. They would contain various exceptions to powers which are not granted; and on this very account, would afford a colorable pretext to claim more than were granted. For why declare that things shall not be done which there is no power to do?"

The need to pacify the Anti-Federalists ended up being too great and even Thomas Jefferson wrote to James Madison that a bill of rights was,’...what the people are entitled to against every government...’. By the fall of 1788, Madison had become convinced that a bill of rights was necessary to ensure ratification of the Constitution.

With the bill of rights in place, the Constitution was finally ratified and on March 4, 1789 and the new formed government went into effect. Later James Madison wrote to Thomas Jefferson that the welding of these clashing interests was "a task more difficult than can be well conceived by those who were not concerned in the execution of it." Towards the end of Madison’s life he penned another letter, one which was never sent. In it he stated that no government can be perfect, however, "that which is the least imperfect is therefore the best government.".

The Constitution, aside from various amendments, has been the basis of our form of government all this time. While it may not be perfect, it contains the essential means necessary for the people to retain their individual liberties, while still allowing for the central government to manage the affairs of the nation. All that depended upon us understanding the principles outlined in it and keeping a close eye on our government, watching for any violations or usurpations of power.

So, what does this Constitution actually say?

to be continued...