Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Some Comments On McCain after the GOP Debate

The California GOP debate is over, and while it was primarily a war of words between Senator McCain and Governor Romney, it did provide the candidates more of an opportunity to express their views on the questions.

One of the more lengthy exchanges between Senator McCain and Governor Romney was concerning the War in Iraq. Earlier in the debate Senator McCain had stated that the Republicans had lost the 2006 election due to government spending, not the War in Iraq.

According to two USA Today on June 26, 2006, "A majority of Americans say Congress should pass a resolution that outlines a plan for withdrawing U.S. troops from Iraq, according to a USA TODAY/Gallup Poll taken Friday through Sunday. Half of those surveyed would like all U.S. forces out within 12 months."

Again, according to USA Today, on February 13th 2007 " Americans overwhelmingly support congressional action to cap the number of U.S. troops in Iraq and set a timetable to bring them home by the end of next year, a USA TODAY/Gallup Poll finds — tougher action than the non-binding resolution the House of Representatives is to begin debating today."

It appears that although Senator McCain is steadfast in his belief that we should continue on in Iraq, no matter the cost he is out of touch with what many Americans want.

Congressman Paul then proceeded to state the facts that none of the candidates are willing to discuss, that Saddam Hussein had nothing to do with September 11, and that prior to the War in Iraq there was no substantial Al Qaeda presence in Iraq. Governor Huckabee then stated that we should continue to stay in Iraq to finish the job so that our men and women serving in the armed forces would not have to go back to finish the job at a later date. Senator McCain was asked a question along those lines about the possibility of U.S. troops remaining in Iraq for the next 100 years.

Senator McCain is fervent in his belief that the greatest threat to the United States is from radical Islamic terrorists. Whether he is right or wrong is yet to be decided. If he is correct in his beliefs why in the hell do we continue to leave our borders open for anyone to cross, including terrorists who wish to do this country harm? Why do we tolerate Islamic fanatics who preach hatred against the U.S. to remain within our borders? If Senator McCain is right, then we are fighting a war of ideologies, not of whether or not a stable democracy in Iraq is going to make the U.S. safer from future terrorist attacks.

Senator McCain, as well as Governors Romney and Huckabee all are in favor of remaining in Iraq until we achieve success. It appears that success may be a long time in coming when the Malaki government seems to be incapable of taking control of their own country. While the statistics may show that the current surge of U.S. forces in Iraq is having a positive affect in the sectarian violence and the insurgent attacks, how long are the American people to be expected to fund this war waiting for the Iraqi government to get its act together?

Since this debate took place in California, prior to Super Tuesday, I would like to look at how this war affects the people of California. So far this war has cost the taxpayers $490 billion. For fiscal year 2007 the war cost the taxpayers of California $17.4 billion. For that much money California could have provided 7 million people with health care, or provided 31 million homes with renewable electricity, or hired 324,295 Public Safety Officers, or provided 2.6 million in scholarship funds for our children, or built 1,322 new elementary schools, or hired 262,958 new elementary school teachers, or...oh well, you get the picture.

That was for last year alone. Do the math if this war continues for who knows how long. This country cannot afford to continue to fund this war and remain solvent.

Senator McCain also made a very telling statement when he mentioned some of the people who have endorsed him. Former Secretaries of Defense, former members of the military command structure, and the military complex in general. Of course these people are going to endorse a candidate who was a former military member, a candidate who is prepared to keep the U.S. involved in a war that might never end. The military/industrial complex lives for wars. Do you think they will endorse a candidate that threatens their livelihood?

Finally I have one last comment regarding Senator McCain. I believe the Senator has a chip on his shoulder. As most know Senator McCain was a prisoner of war during the Viet Nam conflict. It is my honest opinion that Senator McCain feels betrayed by his country regarding the time he served in captivity. I believe that since we ended the conflict in Viet Nam without a clear cut victory his time in captivity was in vain. I believe that he will do everything in his power to make sure the U.S. never leaves a war unfinished, not matter the cost in lives or dollars.

As I said, this debate in the Reagan Library proved very telling for me. It made me that much more fearful of what lies in store for our country if Senator McCain does ever make it to the office of the president.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Some Questions About Lou Dobbs

This is a touchy subject and I know I am going to upset a lot of people by what I am about to say, but I feel obligated to say it. I only hope that instead of people getting mad, they think about what I am going to say for themselves. If they do and still find they disagree with me, fine, but at least think about it first.

People talk about Hillary Clinton being a polarizing figure in politics. It could be said that in the journalism business Lou Dobbs is just as polarizing. He is outspoken and tackles issues that most of the other major networks either refuse to discuss, or choose to ignore. In doing so he has developed quite a devoted following. Mr. Dobbs has also made many people and groups angry, particularly with his coverage of the illegal alien problem in America.

As I said his fan base is loyal, at times almost to the point of idol worship. Witness some of the flattering e mails he reads on his show every evening. Also, as an Independent voter he has attracted the attention of many as a possible presidential candidate in opposition to the two mainstream political parties. Americans for Legal Immigration PAC, ALIPAC, has said that 84% of its 25,000 supporters would vote for Dobbs if he chose to run for president as an independent.

While I do think that Lou Dobbs is in fact covering certain issues that other news organizations are not, issues that the majority of Americans are not aware of, I have had some questions running around in the back of my mind for awhile now, questions that I feel need to be asked.

Anyone who has watched Dobbs for any amount of time knows that he talks extensively about our problem with illegal immigration, the war on the middle class, the cost of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, (both in lives and dollars), the problems with imported goods, (mainly from China), our governments failure in numerous areas, and finally the attempts by the Council on Foreign Relations to create a North American Union.

When I first started watching Lou Dobbs my first thought was, 'Wow, I wonder how this guy keeps his job at CNN when he is covering these issues.' I admired his courage, and CNN's management for allowing him the forum to discuss these issues. However, after awhile I began to notice a pattern that started to bother me.

Almost immediately I began to notice that Mr. Dobbs was careful as to who he blamed for the problems he spoke about. It is acceptable and commonplace to blame the government for the problems a country faces and Mr. Dobbs is not lacking when it comes to his disdain for the failures of our government in almost every thing it does. Dobbs also places the blame on special interests who have a stranglehold on the our elected representatives. He is often heard to mention the socioethnic and corporate special interest groups that are pushing forward numerous agendas and attempting to pass certain pieces of legislation.

A good example is when he talks about the proposed North American Union. While the proposed North American Union, under the Security and Prosperity Partnership, is a serious threat to our sovereignty and something the American people need to become familiar with, Dobbs seems to fall short when it comes to fully exposing who is behind this plan. He has been heard to say the CFR is behind it, mentioning the CFR’s own document, ‘Building a North American Community’, he has yet to tell us who the CFR is, and who its members are. I find that interesting, especially since all he would have to do is ask one of his reporters,Kitty Pilgrim, for answers to his concerns. On Kitty Pilgrim’s bio page at, it clearly states that in 2000 Ms. Pilgrim was elected to the Council on Foreign Relations.

I am torn between admiration for Mr. Dobbs and the fact that he even mentioned the CFR, and the lack of investigative reporting that could have been done in exposing who are members of the CFR. The CFR has an extensive roster that reaches into the very center of our nations capital, our justice system, and our media itself. It is no wonder they are not spoken of by the news. That is why I say I have to admire Mr. Dobbs for even mentioning them. However, if you look at their roster you might be inclined to ask yourself why Mr. Dobbs has not actually named names when he talks about his special interest groups. Look for yourself and see just who is listed as a member of the CFR. It is quite interesting that the CFR is not investigated further by Mr. Dobbs, particularly in light of the fact that Vice President Cheney is a member, a fact that he jokingly admits he withheld from people when he ran for office.

Could it be that Mr. Dobbs is on a short leash by both his employers at CNN, and the special interest groups themselves? If I can easily find these references as to who is a member of the CFR you would think that Mr. Dobb’s staff would also be able to uncover this same information for him to report on. Could it be that Kitty Pilgrim is there to keep him in check in case he goes too far in his coverage? Just something to think about when you give Mr. Dobbs kudos for doing such a great job of exposing this threat to our nations sovereignty.

Another area where I have questions regarding Mr. Dobbs is in his understanding of how our government is supposed to function according to the Constitution. Dobbs is quite persistent in his criticisms of the president and his administration in regards to almost every crisis this country faces. I have to admit that Dobbs is equally as critical of our Congress when it comes to their failure to protect the American people, but he is harshest when it comes to criticizing President Bush.

To give you an example of what I am talking about, just the other evening Senator Jeff Sessions was a guest on Lou's show discussing illegal immigration. Senator Sessions said we need to hear more details from our presidential candidates about what they intend to do in regards to the problem of illegal immigration. While I agree with Senator Sessions, and Lou Dobbs, that there is in fact a serious problem that needs to be dealt with immediately, I disagree with both these men on one issue.
It is the job of the president, and therefore any presidential candidates to sign into law legislation and enforce it once it becomes law. It is the job of Congress, both the Senate and the House to pass those pieces of legislation. Therefore it is the job of the Congress to do something about immigration, not the president. It would be well for us to know how the candidates stand on any considered legislation, whether they would support or oppose any proposed steps to end our problems with immigration. That would allow us to make a more informed decision as to who would best represent the people.

You would think that Mr. Dobbs, and Senator Sessions would be aware of this simple fact about how our government was supposed to function. I would hope that all Mr. Dobbs was suggesting is that we find out exactly where our presidential candidates stand in a bit more detail than the generalities we have heard up to this point in the campaign.

While Mr. Dobbs expects our presidential candidates to be forthcoming with specific details about how they would deal with the illegal immigration problem, Dobbs himself has not been so forthcoming in his reporting on the problems this countries economy is facing.

Mr. Dobbs does a very admirable job of reporting on the loss of jobs to foreign workers, both imported and outsourced. Yet he fails to discuss the issue of inflation in any great detail. According to the dictionary, inflation is defined as an abnormal increase in the volume of money and credit resulting in substantial and continuing rise in the general price level.

Economics is a complicated and often boring subject that even I do not understand fully. Yet I do understand a few basic things. Our countries currency used to be backed by gold. As long as there was gold backing the paper we could only print a finite amount of paper money because there was only a finite amount of gold with which to back it. Since our government removed our currency from the gold standard we have given the banks, particularly the Federal Reserve Bank, the ability to print money at their whim that has no backing whatsoever. While all paper currencies by their very nature are fiat currencies, that is they are only paper currencies backed only by the authority of the government, when you begin printing more and more paper that is backed by the promise of the government, you end up with inflation, as per the dictionaries definition.

It amazes me that Mr. Dobbs does not understand, and expose this problem to the people of America. I find it amazing because prior to Lou Dobbs Tonight, his show was entitled Lou Dobbs Moneyline. You would think that anyone who hosted a show that covered financial matters would understand this basic principle, especially so considering that Lou Dobbs graduated from Harvard with a degree in economics.

Another concern with Mr. Dobbs is his sudden push to get people to change their party affiliation to Independent. When talking about independents in America one need only look at the long list of parties that are considered to be independent for you to realize that they are fragmented and often disorganized. There is the America First Party, the American Independent Party, the Constitution Party, the Libertarian Party, the Peace and Freedom party. The list goes on and on ad naseum.

While it is commendable that Mr. Dobbs would encourage voters to become more active in their government, the simple truth of the matter is that for the people of this country to register as independent is nothing more than a token gesture to show our general lack of support for the current state of affairs in government. With so many independent parties running around, not one of them could field a candidate that stood any chance of winning, particularly at the national level.

This ties in to my last concern with Mr. Dobbs, his refusal to talk about candidate Ron Paul. Ron Paul is the closest thing our country has to a living founding father. He more clearly than all the other candidates understands, and legislates, strictly according to the Constitution. He understands more thoroughly the economic problems our country faces. Yet Lou Dobbs refuses to support him, instead he urges us to register as independent, which as I already stated is nothing but a token gesture.

While I respect Lou Dobbs for the job he is doing, I think he falls short in many instances. The issues which he covers, while at first may appear to be groundbreaking, are in all truth subjects which a portion of the public were already aware of. He seems to be holding back from going into greater detail as to who is behind the curtains of the corporate and ethnocentric special interest groups. He could very easily name names and make people aware of the people who are causing this nation great harm. Yet you never hear him mention people like the Bilderbergers, the Trilateral Commission, the Rockefellers and the many other corporate and global interests that are planning and managing the demise of America.

I know I may have upset many of you who think that Lou Dobbs walks on water. I cannot deny that he has done an outstanding job of keeping the issue of illegal immigration on the minds of his viewers. He has done more than anyone else in the news media when it comes to standing up for Border Patrol Agents Ramos and Compean. Yet I feel that there is more that he could be doing. It leaves me wondering if he is allowed to spout off with just the right amount of righteous indignation, but only up to a certain point. Is he kept on a very short leash that gives his viewers the impression that he is more informed than the rest of the media, when in fact he is in fact being himself controlled by those very same special interest groups he rants about? I only ask that you examine these questions with an open mind and not follow him blindly like the followers of people like Rush Limbaugh, Bill O Reilly, and Sean Hannity. That is all I ask.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Our Countries Finances Are In Deep Kimche

In regards to my writings I have begun to receive responses from some that I am becoming quite a Constitutional scholar, and even the ultimate authority on Constitutional issues. While I appreciate the comments, I feel I am far from an expert on these issues. I do however try to do my best to research the information needed to make my articles as informative as possible. However in this instance I am wading in without the protection of a drop of knowledge. I can unequivocally state that I am not an economist. The comments I am about to make are only my own and not any proven theories which are backed up by a PhD from some fancy university. I only know that in my 18 years of being married I have managed to pay off my house in its entirety, I have never bounced a check, I have no outstanding credit, and both my wife’s car and my truck are paid in full. The only bills I have are the routine utilities that everyone has. So although I may not be an economist, I have learned to live within my means and put my money to good use.

Now on the other hand, those whom we have elected to sit in office, to manage our cities, our states and our national governments have done a miserable job of managing our money, and it is our money taken from us in the form of taxes. People seem to forget that, they think it is just the governments money, and it isn’t. Did they go out and work their butts off to earn it? Did they sweat, bleed and come home with aching backs and blistered hands for it? I don’t think so. So the next time you hear your elected official talk about how much they need to raise taxes, or spend tax dollars on some idiotic project, remember one thing, it is your money they are talking about spending!

I consider Thomas Jefferson the ultimate economist. In all the writings of all the presidents, I have found that he most clearly understood the principles upon which I myself live my live, frugality and the elimination, or at least the minimalization of debt.

Jefferson once said, "I own it to be my opinion, that good will arise from the destruction of our credit. I see nothing else which can restrain our disposition to luxury, and to the change of those manners which alone can preserve republican government. As it is impossible to prevent credit, the best way would be to cure its ill effects by giving an instantaneous recovery to the creditor. This would be reducing purchases on credit to purchases for ready money. A man would then see a prison painted on everything he wished, but had not ready money to pay for."

Jefferson also said that “We must not let our rulers load us with perpetual debt.” Yet that is exactly what they have done. Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution gives Congress the power to lay and collect taxes to pay debts and provide for the common defense and general welfare of the United States. It also says that they can borrow money on the credit of the United States as well.

Our government today, and for more years than I can recall, has not operated in accordance with the philosophy of Jefferson by eliminating credit and loading us with perpetual debt. At this very moment this country is saddled with a $9 trillion national debt, that is a 9 with twelve zeroes after it! The War in Iraq alone has run up a debt of $487 billion.

If you had a credit card and went wild buying everything you wanted with it until you found yourself buried in credit, you would have only three options. First you could declare bankruptcy. Second, you could ask your boss for a raise to help pay off your debts. Finally you could stop buying on credit and begin working towards paying off that bill. Those are your only options.

In the case of our government, they could declare bankruptcy, but that is not going to happen if they want to retain their credit rating so that they can continue to borrow money to operate. They could ask their employers, us, for a raise, which would mean much higher taxes to pay off this debt. That won’t work unless they stop the spending at insane levels that got us into this mess to begin with.

It is fast approaching tax time again so it is timely that I make you aware of something. Every cent you pay in taxes does not go towards the funding of the day to day operation of your federal government. It only goes towards paying the interest on the money they have already borrowed to run, and even then it is not enough to make the interest payments, so they have to borrow more to make up the difference plus finance their daily operations. If the federal government were a business the CEO would have been fired by the board of directors and the stockholders would have divested themselves of all their holdings in that company a long time ago.

Unfortunately I am not done. There are an estimated 75 million baby boomers in this country that are preparing to retire. Twenty-nine percent of the United States, over one in four Americans are baby boomers. They will begin to collect Social Security benefits, or will they?

While there are currently no plans to reduce or eliminate Social Security payments to those entitled them, the Social Security Administration itself has stated that if you are 35 years of age right now that, “Unless changes are made, at age 69 in 2040 your scheduled benefits could be reduced by 26 percent and could continue to be reduced every year thereafter from presently scheduled levels.” I would recommend that everyone read the Q and A page the Social Security Administration has put up at

So if you are just entering the workforce, or have been there only a short while, you are most likely paying into a program that will not be there when you retire.

On June 29, 2004 the Commissioner of the Social Security Administration signed an agreement with the Director General of the Mexican Social Security Institute to come to a totalization agreement. While it has not been passed, the basic idea is that workers from another country would not be required to pay into both countries Social Security programs, and that they could apply their quarters of coverage to the required 40 hours of coverage and be eligible to receive U.S. Social Security benefits.

According to the Social Security Administration, “Whether or not a totalization agreement exists, unauthorized immigrants may receive credit toward Social Security for their work, but they cannot collect benefits while living in the United States until they obtain legal resident or U.S. citizen status.”
Yet the minute these workers are naturalized, or granted amnesty, they would be eligible to receive Social Security benefits. These benefits come at a five year cost to the U.S. Social Security system of roughly $525 million due to additional benefits and reduced Social Security tax contributions from foreign companies and their employers.

It is not just Social Security that should be of concern to the people of this country. With the current political campaign for president in full swing, we have the Republicans who all, except for Ron Paul, favor a continuance of the War in Iraq that is open sewer upon which our government is borrowing us into insolvency to fund. We also have the Democrats with their talk of Universal Health Care. This would create another huge bureaucracy on the scale of Social Security or Homeland Security, (notice the term security in both those organizations), which would mean higher taxes and more government involvement in our health care decisions. Anyone who thinks this is such a great idea needs to watch this video on You Tube,

However, it is not just the federal government that is in bad shape, the civilian sector is in bad shape as well. On January 18, 2008, yesterday, the White House Office of the Press Secretary issued a news release saying that “President Bush Asks Congress To Work With Him To Enact An Economic Growth Package That Bolsters Business Investment And Consumer Spending”

As I stated at the very beginning of this article, I am not an economist, but let me explain how I see things. In a basic economy you have people who produce things and people who purchase things. For a company to make a profit they have to be able to sell items at a high enough price to offset the cost of manufacturing it. If they price it too high people won’t buy it and they lose money. If they price it too low they won’t make a profit.

At the same time you have the consumer. Often the consumer also works in the places where products are produced. For them to be able to buy these goods they have to earn a wage that allows them to first, pay their routine bills, then secondly gives them enough extra money to buy non essential items. If their wages stagnate, or worse go down, they will not be able to purchase those items.

Enter into the picture plastic, or credit, that magical invention that allows you to get those things you desire and pay for them later. Now you can get that wide screen TV, that SUV, or that vacation in the Bahamas. However credit, at least for us civilians, has a limit. We must pay it eventually or pay the consequences of repossession and a loss of our credit rating.

Also, credit depends upon your having a job that allows you to make those monthly credit card or loan payments. What happens if you lose your job? Remember in our economy we have the producers and the consumers. What happens when the producers decide that the cost of paying the wages of consumers to produce their goods has gone too high? What if the producers decide to move their operations to another locale where they can pay lower wages or they decide to import laborers who will work for substantially lower wages and benefits?

Like I said, I am no economist, but it would seem to me that this is a bad idea. If you take away the jobs from the people who buy your goods, how are they going to continue to do so? Wouldn’t that eventually hurt your business because people would stop buying those goods?

While it might seem that way, it obviously hasn’t been the case, at least not to the extent to which you would think. Americans are a greedy lot and we have to have our niceties, which leads us to this housing crisis our country is facing.

The American Dream was a house with a white picket fence with 2-1/2 kids blah, blah, blah. However the ability to pay for that dream seemed to lose its importance and people overextended themselves to own that dream. With the greed comes those who would prey upon it as well. Unscrupulous lenders and financial institutions were lying in wait to take advantage of those who just could not wait to own a home. This created an artificial boom in the housing market which is now bursting.

We have friends who told us at the beginning of the housing boom that we should sell our house and move up to a nicer home. Why should I? First off why should I take upon myself the burden of another mortgage when I don’t need to. Secondly I have seen these new, ‘nicer’ homes. They are prefabricated structures with no personality of their own. You can’t tell one home from another as they all look the same. They all have small yards that you could barely plant two tomato plants in. I have a back yard large enough where we had a 45’ x 25’ vegetable garden and could easily have double it in size. Why should I give that up for a tract house?

One of our friends did. She upgraded to a larger house, not once, but twice. Each time their mortgage payment went up and now they are in trouble as they are having difficulty making the payments. Stupid, absolutely stupid!

So now our economy is in deep trouble. The housing market is having a trickle down effect upon everything. Add to that the rising cost of gas which in turn raises the price of everything else, we are in troubled waters. On top of that there is the unmentioned inflationary tax, unmentioned except by Ron Paul, that is caused by our governments continued printing of currency which devalues the dollar. This country is in serious trouble financially and nobody seems to be aware of the seriousness of it.

Yet me, a lowly high school student with no college education seem to understand. I realize that the proverbial crap is going to hit the fan soon, and then all hell is going to break loose. I have read reports from some economists, who do have an education, who are warning of a financial catastrophe of almost Biblical proportions.

Aside from bringing about widespread financial ruin to most families who are extremely unprepared for what is coming, it will most likely give the president the authorization to utilize all those laws that have been passed to declare martial law, declare the Constitution null and void, and put an end to this country as we know it.

This country has one last desperate chance to save us from this impending disaster, and that is to ensure that Ron Paul makes it into the White House. Anything other than a Ron Paul presidency would mean that we have a president who does not understand the seriousness of the mess we are in and would also mean that the end of the United States of America, and all those American Dreams, is all but a done deal.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Our Dysfunctional Republic Part 14

In my last segment I covered the 3rd through the 8th amendments. As I stated, I would now like to cover instances where I feel these particular amendments have been violated. I hope to provide clear examples of how our rights have been infringed upon due to legislation passed in support of the War On Terror.

Before I begin I would like to get something off my chest. Ben Franklin once said, "They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." Our Bill of Rights was written to guarantee us certain liberties and we have become so apathetic that we have allowed our government to trample all over them. We have been brainwashed by our government and the media into believing that these laws have been passed to prevent us from once again being attacked by terrorists. Too many of us have fallen for that nonsense and either because we were afraid, or because we felt it was in our patriotic duty, we have supported legislation that has taken from us many of those liberties, and as a observant writer to CNN recently said, "Liberty is like virginity, once it's gone, it's gone for good."

Folks, our Constitution, including the Bill of Rights, is there for a reason. It is not some document to be taken for granted. We cannot allow our government to trample all over it. After all, if it that document had never been written the government would have absolutely no power and authority in the first place. If we allow them to pick and choose which portions of the Constitution they wish to heed we may as well just forget about being a free people and accept that we are servants to our government, the exact opposite of what our founders envisioned.

Jack Cafferty, of CNN recently wrote a book entitled, It's Getting Ugly Out There. In it he made an interesting point. He said that it was 8 years between the first terrorist attack upon the World Trade Center, and the 9/11 attacks. In that time frame we had no Patriot Act, no Military Commissions Act, No Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act. Who is to say that any of these Acts passed by the Bush administration has done anything to make us any safer? Our ports and borders are still not secured. How can we say that we are not just as vulnerable now to a terrorist attack as we were before they were passed? We can’t, that is the problem. The only thing we can say is that in the course of fighting this War on Terror, we have given up liberties that our founders thought were so important that they wrote specific amendments to the Constitution to ensure that they never be infringed upon. If you don’t believe me, continue reading and then judge for yourself. I only ask you to do so with an open mind. Set aside your party loyalties, your ideas of patriotism, and just examine the facts. Remember that the Constitution is the Supreme Law of the Land, and that no law can be written which violates any portion of the Constitution. Compare what the legislation says and how it goes against what the Bill of Rights says. The end does not justify the means. So after reading what I have to say, you tell me, who is our real enemy, Al Qaeda or our own government.

We have been the target of terrorists for many years, dating back to way before 9/11. The attacks upon our embassies, the Marine Barracks, and the hostage situation in Iran being among the first attacks by radical Islamic groups against U.S. interests. So to say that 9/11 was the beginning of our War on Terror would be a lie.

In 1996 President Clinton signed into law the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act. This was our governments first attempt by our government to limit the writ of habeas corpus. Habeas corpus is a legal action in which a person can seek relief from unlawful detention. It is a fundamental principle of justice in our country since its formation and the courts have ruled on it extensively and have determined so.

In Brown v. Vasquez, 952 F.2d 1164, 1166 (9th Cir. 1991), cert. denied, 112 S.Ct. 1778 (1992), the court observed the fact that the Supreme Court has “recognized the fact that`[t]he writ of habeas corpus is the fundamental instrument for safeguarding individual freedom against arbitrary and lawless state action.' Harris v. Nelson, 394 U.S. 286, 290-91 (1969)."

It is therefore vitally important that we as a citizenry watch for any attempt to infringe upon the writ of habeas corpus. Yet in 1996 AEDPA, as signed by President Clinton made an impact upon habeas corpus in the federal courts. One provision of AEDPA limits the power of federal judges to grant relief unless the state court’s adjudication of the claim resulted in a decision that was 1) contrary to, or involved in an unreasonable application of clearly established federal law as determined by the Supreme Court or 2) based on an unreasonable determination of the facts in light of the evidence presented in the state court proceeding.

Yet it wasn’t until 9/11 that a full scale assault upon our freedoms and liberties was initiated by our government, under the guise of fighting a War on Terror.

The first Act signed into law after the attacks of 9/11 was, House Resolution 3162, otherwise known as the Patriot Act. I wonder how many people realize that the Patriot Act was signed into law before a copy was even available for Congress to discuss and amend? Not that our legislators read every bill they pass, but something of this magnitude should have been read before it was passed into law.

In sections 202 & 216 of the Patriot Act, the government now has the authority to monitor your internet traffic, read your e mails and intercept all your cell phone calls, if they suspect that you are committing a crime. No warrant is required. This violates the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution in that no warrant was ever issued for the gathering of personal information. You may have heard of this practice by the phrase warrantless searches. Whatever you know it as, it is illegal and a violation of your rights as guaranteed in the fourth amendment.

From the text of the Patriot Act, Section 216, “Upon an application made under section 3122(a)(1), the court shall enter an ex parte order authorizing the installation and use of a pen register or trap and trace device anywhere within the United States, if the court finds that the attorney for the Government has certified to the court that the information likely to be obtained by such installation and use is relevant to an ongoing criminal investigation.”

An ex parte order is a Latin legal term which means, ‘from (by or for) one party”. An ex parte order is decided by a judge without requiring all of the parties to the controversy to be present. In other words, it is a legal proceeding brought by one party against another without representation or notification of the other parties.

Section 213 of the Patriot Act also violates the fourth amendment, in that it allows our government to pursue investigations and searches without the use of a warrant. Section 213 states,

“(b) DELAY- With respect to the issuance of any warrant or court order under this section, or any other rule of law, to search for and seize any property or material that constitutes evidence of a criminal offense in violation of the laws of the United States, any notice required, or that may be required, to be given may be delayed if--

`(1) the court finds reasonable cause to believe that providing immediate notification of the execution of the warrant may have an adverse result (as defined in section 2705);

`(2) the warrant prohibits the seizure of any tangible property, any wire or electronic communication (as defined in section 2510), or, except as expressly provided in chapter 121, any stored wire or electronic information, except where the court finds reasonable necessity for the seizure; and

`(3) the warrant provides for the giving of such notice within a reasonable period of its execution, which period may thereafter be extended by the court for good cause shown.'.”

This is otherwise known as the Sneak and Peek Provision which allows any federal law enforcement agency to enter your home or business without you being present to collect evidence and they do not ever have to tell you they have been there. Again, this is a clear violation of the fourth amendment, in that we may be subjected to searches without the benefit of a warrant explaining what exactly we are being searched for.

However under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, or FISA, the government can obtain warrants directly from a special court that requires almost no evidence or probable cause. Passed by Congress in late 1970s, FISA describes it itself and the criminal wiretap statutes as "the exclusive means by which electronic surveillance . . . may be conducted." Yet the Patriot Act nullifies this act by giving the government the power to tap your phones without a warrant.

Section 225 of the Patriot Act grants immunity to anyone who aids the government in obtaining any information on any citizen by the warrantless wiretaps upon your phone or computer. “(h) No cause of action shall lie in any court against any provider of a wire or electronic communication service, landlord, custodian, or other person (including any officer, employee, agent, or other specified person thereof) that furnishes any information, facilities, or technical assistance in accordance with a court order or request for emergency assistance under this Act.'.”

Section 311 of the Patriot Act allows for the government to monitor your financial transactions as well. “The Secretary of the Treasury may require any domestic financial institution or domestic financial agency to maintain records, file reports, or both, concerning the aggregate amount of transactions, or concerning each transaction, with respect to a jurisdiction outside of the United States, 1 or more financial institutions operating outside of the United States, 1 or more classes of transactions within, or involving, a jurisdiction outside of the United States, or 1 or more types of accounts if the Secretary finds any such jurisdiction, institution, or class of transactions to be of primary money laundering concern.” This portion of the Patriot Act is of concern to me personally as I have sent a large quantity of money to the Philippines to help my wife’s family subsist and for medical treatments. The Philippines is a known haven for terrorists, particularly Abu Sayyaf, and I am sure my banking records have been searched without my knowledge.

Again, the Patriot Act provides immunity for those who provide such information to the government in any investigation into a persons financial activity. Section 313 states,

“(b) COOPERATION AMONG FINANCIAL INSTITUTIONS- Upon notice provided to the Secretary, 2 or more financial institutions and any association of financial institutions may share information with one another regarding individuals, entities, organizations, and countries suspected of possible terrorist or money laundering activities. A financial institution or association that transmits, receives, or shares such information for the purposes of identifying and reporting activities that may involve terrorist acts or money laundering activities shall not be liable to any person under any law or regulation of the United States, any constitution, law, or regulation of any State or political subdivision thereof, or under any contract or other legally enforceable agreement (including any arbitration agreement), for such disclosure or for any failure to provide notice of such disclosure to the person who is the subject of such disclosure, or any other person identified in the disclosure, except where such transmission, receipt, or sharing violates this section or regulations promulgated pursuant to this section.”

Not only can they now monitor your banking transactions, they have place restrictions upon the banks for notifying you that your account has been under investigation. Section 351 of the Patriot Act states,

`(A) IN GENERAL- If a financial institution or any director, officer, employee, or agent of any financial institution, voluntarily or pursuant to this section or any other authority, reports a suspicious transaction to a government agency--
`(i) the financial institution, director, officer, employee, or agent may not notify any person involved in the transaction that the transaction has been reported; and
`(ii) no officer or employee of the Federal Government or of any State, local, tribal, or territorial government within the United States, who has any knowledge that such report was made may disclose to any person involved in the transaction that the transaction has been reported, other than as necessary to fulfill the official duties of such officer or employee.

Finally in Section 802 of the Patriot Act, the term domestic terrorist is redefined in a manner which could include anyone who disagrees with the actions of our government and actively tries to change the course this nation has taken, myself included.

From section 802 we read,
(a) DOMESTIC TERRORISM DEFINED- Section 2331 of title 18, United States Code, is amended--
(1) in paragraph (1)(B)(iii), by striking `by assassination or kidnapping' and inserting `by mass destruction, assassination, or kidnapping';
(2) in paragraph (3), by striking `and';
(3) in paragraph (4), by striking the period at the end and inserting `; and'; and
(4) by adding at the end the following:
`(5) the term `domestic terrorism' means activities that--
`(A) involve acts dangerous to human life that are a violation of the criminal laws of the United States or of any State;
`(B) appear to be intended--
`(i) to intimidate or coerce a civilian population;
`(ii) to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion; or
`(iii) to affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination, or kidnapping; and
`(C) occur primarily within the territorial jurisdiction of the United States.'.

As you can see, there were many violations, mostly to the fourth amendment, found in the Patriot Act. Fortunately the Patriot Act was written to sunset, or expire, after a certain amount of time. Unfortunately our government has signed into law, Patriot Act II, or the Domestic Security Enhancement Act of 2003.

Patriot Act II is just as bad, if not worse than the original. Section 312 further dismantles court review of surveillance by terminating court approved limits upon police spying on religious and political activity. Sections 126, 128, and 129 allow the government to obtain credit and library records secretly and without judicial oversight. Section 201 allows the government to authorize secret arrests, which is a clear violation of fifth amendment. Sections 120 and 121 expands the definition of terrorism so that organizations engaged in civil disobedience are at risk of being wiretapped. Section 322 gives foreign dictators the power to seek searches and seizures within the United States, and section 321 allows them to extradite American citizens to face trial in foreign courts.

Unfortunately for us, the Patriot Act is not the only action that has been taken in the War on Terror which has infringed upon our liberties as contained in the Bill of Rights. On October 17, 2006 President Bush signed into law Public Law 109-364, or the "John Warner Defense Authorization Act of 2007" (H.R.5122). According to Senator Patrick Leahy (D Vermont) this bill will actually encourage the President to declare martial law within the United States.

This new law revises the Insurrection Act, (10 U.S.C. 331-335) and subverting the principle of the Posse Comitatus Act, (18 U.S.C.1385). The Insurrection Act and the Posse Comitatus Acts limit the presidents ability to station troops anywhere within the U.S.

The Posse Comitatus Act clearly states, "Whoever, except in cases and under circumstances expressly authorized by the Constitution or Act of Congress, willfully uses any part of the Army or Air Force as a posse comitatus or otherwise to execute the laws shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than two years, or both," . This would include the President, if he calls in to service the National Guard to uphold disturbances or violations of public law.

Section 1076 of the John Warner Defense Authorization Act is specifically titled, Use of the Armed Forces in Major Public Emergencies. Section 333 states, "Major public emergencies; interference with State and Federal law" states that "the President may employ the armed forces, including the National Guard in Federal service, to restore public order and enforce the laws of the United States when, as a result of a natural disaster, epidemic, or other serious public health emergency, terrorist attack or incident, or other condition in any State or possession of the United States, the President determines that domestic violence has occurred to such an extent that the constituted authorities of the State or possession are incapable of ("refuse" or "fail" in) maintaining public order, "in order to suppress, in any State, any insurrection, domestic violence, unlawful combination, or conspiracy."

The John Warner Defense Authorization Act basically gives the president to commandeer the National Guard, over the objections of the state governors, and station them anywhere within the U.S. to quell uprisings. In short, declare martial law. While this does not directly violate any of the amendments to the Constitution covered by this segment, its implications are far reaching in that the president now has the authority to declare martial law and basically suspend the rest of our liberties as contained in the Constitution. Sound far fetched?

In 2005, the Washington Post reported that NORTHCOM had developed battle plans for martial law in the U.S. One document entitled CONPLAN 2005, envisioned 15 different scenarios where these plans could go into effect.

NewsMaxx in November of 2003 reported that General Tommy Franks has said that if the U.S. was ever hit with a weapon of mass destruction that inflicts large casualties, the Constitution would likely be discarded in favor of a military government.

If that is the case, what of our liberties and freedoms then? How do you think your peaceful protests against any issue, to include immigration, abortion, or gay rights would be handled under a military form of government. Your freedom of speech would be severely curtailed. Yet you have allowed our government to pass this law without even a whimper.

This new law does require that the president notify Congress
"as soon as practicable after the determination and every 14 days thereafter during the duration of the exercise of the authority." However, during the signing statement President Bush stated, "The executive branch shall construe such provisions in a manner consistent with the President's constitutional authority to withhold information the disclosure of which could impair foreign relations, the national security, the deliberative processes of the Executive." In other words, the President doesn’t even have to explain himself to Congress if he deems it is in the best interest of national security.

President Bush has even told Bob Woodward, "I do not need to explain why I say things. That's the interesting thing about being the president. Maybe somebody needs to explain to me why they say something, but I don't feel I owe anybody an explanation."

Just about the same time as the President signed the John Warner Defense Act, he also signed the Military Commissions Act. This Act establishes a system of military tribunals to try enemy combatants. Remember now that under the Patriot Act you can be declared an enemy by performing acts of civil disobedience.

Under the Military Commissions Act,
-The use of evidence obtained by torture will be allowed.
-The defense will not have access to all evidence that is deemed 'secret'.
-People brought before a military tribunal will have lost the right of habeas corpus, which means that they cannot petition the court to determine if their is sufficient evidence to warrant their detention.

I have already discussed the principle of habeas corpus, but now according to laws in existence I could be declared an enemy combatant because I disagree with the War in Iraq and am outspoken on my views. Therefore I could be arrested, and held without the right to argue against my detention. I would be tried before a military tribunal, bypassing my 5th amendment rights completely.

Finally, on May 9, 2007 President Bush signed the National Security Presidential Directive/NSPD 51, Homeland Security Presidential Directive/HSPD-20. This gives the President all encompassing powers to run the government. From that document we read, “(6) The President shall lead the activities of the Federal Government for ensuring constitutional government. In order to advise and assist the President in that function, the Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism (APHS/CT) is hereby designated as the National Continuity Coordinator.”

The President is known as somewhat of a cowboy. However his shoot from the hip style of governing is also a direct affront to the Constitution and the power of the executive.

According to the Boston Globe, the president has claimed the right to ignore more than 750 laws enacted since he became president. He has even overruled Congress’s requirement that he report back to them on how he has implemented a number of laws. What ever happened to checks and balances?

President Bush has cited that he has the authority to flout the will of Congress due to his inherent power, and also the unitary executive. According to Black’s Law Dictionary, inherent powers are described as ‘powers over and beyond those expicitly granted in the Constitution or reasonably to be implied from express grants. In other words powers the president assumes he has that are not clearly defined.

The second, and in my opinion, more dangerous reason the president gives is his unitary executive. The concept of a unitary executive implies that the executive branch can overrule both Congress and the Courts based upon his personal interpretation of the Constitution. This overturns the court ruling of Marbury v. Madison (1803) which established the principle of judicial review and the constitutional concept of checks and balances. This if frightening in that the President now has the power to interpret the Constitution, instead of upholding it as his oath of office states he shall.

John Yoo, a who is known for his work in the U.S. Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel once declared that “... the President's ultimate duty to protect and defend the nation gives him the right, if he so wishes, not only to ignore Congress and the courts but also deliberately to deceive them, and the public at large, for the sake of national security.”

There is a report which , “found that these presidential assertions of constitutional authority “undermine the rule of law and our constitutional system of separation of powers.” The entire report can be found at,

In closing I would like to read comments made by two current legislators in regards to much of the legislation that has been passed in the name of the War on Terror. First off, in a letter to Attorney General John Ashcroft, Senator Patrick Leahy made the following comments, "[T]his concept of 'national defense' cannot be deemed an end in itself, justifying any exercise of...power designed to promote such a goal. Implicit in the term 'national defense' is the notion that defending those values and ideas which se this Nation apart...It would indeed be ironic if, in the name of national defense, we would sanction the subversion of one of those liberties...which makes the defense of the Nation worthwhile."

After reviewing the Patriot Act, Congressman Ron Paul said that our forefathers would think it is time for a revolution.

We have lost so much in terms of personal freedom and liberties. While they may not be apparent to everyone, they are in fact liberties that at one time were something guaranteed us under the Bill of Rights. They are now gone under legislation written to supposedly protect us from evil terrorists. My question to you now is this, “How much more liberty are you willing to give up to feel safe from terrorism? As far as I am concerned, we have given up far too much already. Time will be the judge as to whether these laws have done any good to protect us from another terrorist attack. My bet is they won’t make a bit of a difference, they have made our government more powerful and taken away freedoms that were so cherished by our founders that they were willing to fight and die to retain them.

Our Dysfunctional Republic Part 13

As I continue with my discussion of the Bill of Rights, I am going to do this next segment a bit differently. I am going to cover the 3rd through 8th amendments all at once. My reason for doing so is firstly that the third amendment does not require a full article to discuss, and secondly many of the violations, or infringements upon the 4th-8th amendments all have been done in the name of the war on terror. I would inevitably be repeating myself if I did an individual article concerning each of those amendments. I will also be doing this in two parts, as covering the actual amendments, and then discussing the violations of them would make this article far too long.

To get things started, the third amendment to the Constitution simply states, "No soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law."

One needs only to go to the Declaration of Independence to find the reasoning behind this amendment. In that document, two of the grievances listed by the colonists were that, "He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures." and "For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:" The framers of the Constitution wanted to ensure that the people were never required to quarter soldiers in their homes, especially in times of peace.

Now let us begin covering the 4th thru 8th amendments. I have clumped these amendments together because they cover the legal rights of the citizens under the Constitution and they are the ones that I feel have been violated the most under the guise of the War on Terror. Remember, it was James Madison who once said, "It is a universal truth that the loss of liberty at home is to be charged to the provisions against danger, real or pretended, from abroad."

The 4th Amendment to the Constitution states, "The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized."

There is an outstanding analysis of the 4th amendment online. It can be found at
( I would recommend reading it if you are interested in learning more about this amendment.

The 4th Amendment was written into the Bill of Rights to protect citizens from what where then known as Writs of Assistance. Writs of Assistance were legal documents, that served as a general search warrant, which was open ended and required all parties to support the officer to whom it was issued. It basically gave the officer in possession of it carte blanche authority to search your or your home at random and at will. Later I will explain how this concept has again come into play under provisions of legislation passed under the guise of fighting the War on Terror.

Throughout our nations history, the 4th amendment has been argued in the courts. There have been many rulings that came down, interpreting this amendment from different aspects. For instance, in Harris v. United States, the courts ruled as reasonable the warrantless search of a mans apartment pursuant to the arrest of the occupant of the apartment.

Just a year after Harris v. United States, the courts set aside a conviction based upon evidence obtained by a warrantless search. That decision set forth the “cardinal rule that, in seizing goods and articles, law enforcement agents must secure and use search warrants whenever reasonably practicable.”

Two years later it was ruled that, ‘‘is not whether it is reasonable to procure a search warrant, but whether the search was reasonable.’’

Later still, in Chimel v. California, 395 U.S. 752, 761 (1969), the court ruled that, ‘‘The [Fourth] Amendment was in large part a reaction to the general warrants and warrantless searches that had so alienated the colonists and had helped speed the movement for independence. In the scheme of the Amendment, therefore, the requirement that ‘no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause,’ plays a crucial part.’’

So, you can see that the interpretation of the 4th amendment has varied depending upon the particular court that makes the decision. I would like to think that our founding fathers had in mind that we the people be protected by unreasonable searches done without warrants. A warrant, in my interpretation of it, and again I am no legal scholar, is permission granted by the courts, to the law enforcement agencies to go into a persons home and look for evidence of a crime. A warrant should only be issued when the law enforcement agency has provided enough substantial evidence that a crime has been, or most likely is in the process of being committed.

The concept of warrantless searches gives law enforcement agencies the ability to troll for information without specific knowledge that a crime is being committed, and in my humble opinion goes against the spirit and intent of the 4th amendment.

As I now begin to cover the remaining four amendments I will first present the amendments and some historical background, then I will give clear cut instances where these amendments have been infringed upon by our government.

The next amendment to be covered is the 5th, which states, "No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a grand jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the militia, when in actual service in time of war or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation."

The 5th amendment has five clauses within it regarding a persons rights which were guaranteed under the Constitution, they are, 1) The right to be indicted by a grand jury for a supposed crime, 2) The right to not be charged with the same crime twice, known as double jeopardy, 3) The right to not be compelled to be a witness against yourself in criminal proceedings, 4) The right to due process of law, and 5) The right to limit eminent domain without just compensation.

The right of indictment by grand jury traces its roots back to pre-Norman England, but the first reference to it in U.S. Law appears to be found in the Charter of Liberties and Privileges of 1683, passed by the colony of New York.

While the right to an indictment by a grand jury is a legal right under federal law, that right does not apply in many states for criminal proceedings. Instead a grand jury indictment is replaced by preliminary hearings.

The grand jury process was not intended to convict a person of a crime, only to determine if enough evidence existed to continue against an accused with a criminal trial. Therefore many of the rights and exclusions, such as those guaranteed under the 4th amendment, do not apply during grand jury indictments.

The double jeopardy clause of the 5th amendment can best be explained by the ruling handed down in Green v. United States, 355 U.S. 184, 187-88 (1957), in which the court stated, ''The constitutional prohibition against 'double jeopardy' was designed to protect an individual from being subjected to the hazards of trial and possible conviction more than once for an alleged offense. . . . The underlying idea, one that is deeply ingrained in at least the Anglo-American system of jurisprudence, is that the State with all its resources and power should not be allowed to make repeated attempts to convict an individual for an alleged offense, thereby subjecting him to embarrassment, expense and ordeal and compelling him to live in a continuing state of anxiety and insecurity, as well as enhancing the possibility that even though innocent he may be found guilty.''

This was further reinforced by two other court decisions. In Palko v. Connecticut, the Court rejected the argument that the 14th amendment incorporated all the provisions found in the first 8 amendments as limitations upon the states. In its ruling the court decided that the due process theory under which those amendments were written do now apply to the individual states.

Also, in Benton v. Maryland the court ruled that ''that the double jeopardy prohibition . . . represents a fundamental ideal in our constitutional heritage. . . . Once it is decided that a particular Bill of Rights guarantee is 'fundamental to the American scheme of justice,' . . . the same constitutional standards apply against both the State and Federal Governments.''

The next clause of the 5th amendment is probably the one most people are familiar with, the right not to incriminate oneself. When asked a question, which when answered truthfully could be considered embarrassing or incriminating, people often jokingly answer, "I plead the 5th".

Historically the right not to incriminate oneself has been more narrowly applied than it is today. It is now commonly accepted that this clause of the 5th amendment serves to preserve the accusatorial system of criminal justice, and the preservation of personal privacy from unwarranted governmental intrusion.

The next clause of the 5th amendment covers due process. This amendment protects a person from being punished for a crime without having 'due process of law', or in other words a criminal trial.

This clause was found equally applicable to the states as to the federal government in Bolling v. Sharpe, 347 U.S. 497 (1954). In their ruling, Chief Justice Earl Warren stated, "[T]he concepts of equal protection and due process, both stemming from our American ideal of fairness, are not mutually exclusive".

Also in Solesbee v. Balkcom, 119 U.S. 9, 16 (1950) the courts ruled that, ''It is now the settled doctrine of this Court that the Due Process Clause embodies a system of rights based on moral principles so deeply imbedded in the traditions and feelings of our people as to be deemed fundamental to a civilized society as conceived by our whole history. Due Process is that which comports with the deepest notions of what is fair and right and just.''

The final clause of the 5th amendment regards the governments power of eminent domain, the right that a government has to take private property for public use. The 5th amendment prohibits the government from taking such land without compensating the owner of that land.

According to the courts, as ruled in Boom v. Patterson, 98 U.S. 403, 406 (1879), eminent domain ''appertains to every independent government. It requires no constitutional recognition; it is an attribute of sovereignty.''

The right of eminent domain may be an inherent right of any government, however property can only be taken for the effectuation of one of the powers granted the government by the Constitution, as ruled by U.S. v. Gettysburg Electric Ry. 160 U.S. 668, 679 (1986).

The 6th amendment states, "In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the state and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the assistance of counsel for his defense."

The right to a speedy trial dates back to the Magna Carta and was also found in the Virginia Declarations of Rights of 1776. The basic reasoning behind this clause can be found in the ruling handed down in U.S. v. Ewell, 383 U.S. 116, 120, ''an important safeguard to prevent undue and oppressive incarceration prior to trial, to minimize anxiety and concern accompanying public accusation and to limit the possibility that long delay will impair the ability of an accused to defend himself.''

The right to a speedy trial is one of the most basic rights preserved by the Constitution, it is one of the fundamental liberties which the due process clause of the 14th amendment makes applicable to the states as well. (Klpfer v. North Carolina, 386 U.S. 213, 226).

These trials were to be public as well. The idea of public trials was based upon a distrust of private trials, to include the Spanish Inquisition, the Court of Star Chambers, and the French monarchy's abuse of the letter de cachet.

In Commentaries on the Laws of England, 349-350 (T. Cooley 4th ed. 1896), W. Blackstone wrote that a trial by jury is part of a ''strong and two-fold barrier . . . between the liberties of the people and the prerogative of the crown'' because ''the truth of every accusation . . . . [must] be confirmed by the unanimous suffrage of twelve of his equals and neighbors indifferently chosen and superior to all suspicion.''

The last clause of the 6th amendment regards the right to counsel. In Powell v. Alabama 287 U.S. 45, 57 (1952) the courts ruled that ''during perhaps the most critical period of the proceedings . . . that is to say, from the time of their arraignment until the beginning of their trial, when consultation, thor oughgoing investigation and preparation [are] vitally important, the defendants . . . [are] as much entitled to such aid [of counsel] during that period as at the trial itself.'' Therefore the right to counsel has been also settled by the courts as well.

The 7th amendment states, "In suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury, shall be otherwise reexamined in any court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law."

Prior to the end of the Constitutional Convention, Mr. Williamson of North Carolina observed that there were yet no provisions made for juries in civil cases. There was some discussion on the issue but the members of the convention decided that it would be next to impossible to draft a suitable provision. However, this provision was cited by many opponents of ratification, and therefore was included in the Bill of Rights.

Aside from the reasons for the 7th amendment, it is similar to the 6th, and therefore does not need to be covered as in depth as the preceding amendments.

The 8th amendment to the Constitution states, "Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted."

There has been much discussion in the courts in regards to the issue of excessive bail. In Stack v. Boyle, 342 U.S. 1, 4 (1951) the court ruled, ''This traditional right to freedom before conviction permits the unhampered preparation of a defense, and serves to prevent the infliction of punishment prior to conviction. . . . Unless this right to bail before trial is preserved, the presumption of innocence, secured only after centuries of struggle, would lose its meaning.''

Later, in Carlson v. Landon, 242 U.S. 524, 545 (1952) the courts ruled that, ''The bail clause was lifted with slight changes from the English Bill of Rights Act. In England that clause has never been thought to accord a right to bail in all cases, but merely to provide that bail shall not be excessive in those cases where it is proper to grant bail. When this clause was carried over into our Bill of Rights, nothing was said that indicated any different concept.''

In the 1rst Annals of Congress, 754 (1789), Mr. Livermore stated, ''The clause seems to express a great deal of humanity, on which account I have no objection to it; but as it seems to have no meaning in it, I do not think it necessary. What is meant by the terms excessive bail? Who are to be judges?''

This ambiguity comes from a trend in the United States going back to a provision of the Massachusetts Body of Liberties of 1641 which guaranteed bail to every accused person except those charged with a capital crime or contempt in open court. It wasn't until 1984 that Congress authorized preventive detention in federal criminal proceedings in D.C. Code, Sec 23-1321 which was held constitutional in U.S. v. Edwards 430A.2d 1321(D.C. App. 1981)

When the founders were discussing the clause concerning cruel and unusual punishment, there was significant debate regarding the subject. Again from the 1rst Annals of Congress 754 (1789) we read, ''the import of [the words] being too indefinite'' and another Member said: ''No cruel and unusual punishment is to be inflicted; it is sometimes necessary to hang a man, villains often deserve whipping, and perhaps having their ears cut off; but are we in the future to be prevented from inflicting these punishments because they are cruel? If a more lenient mode of correcting vice and deterring others from the commission of it would be invented, it would be very prudent in the Legislature to adopt it; but until we have some security that this will be done, we ought not to be restrained from making necessary laws by any declaration of this kind."

Our Dysfunctional Republic Part 12

The Second Amendment

As I continue covering the Bill of Rights I now would like to move on to the second amendment. Out of all the segments I have written, this may prove to be the longest and most in depth of all. Guns have been a part of my life since I was a child. I feel that they are an essential right that is protected by the Bill of Rights. If we had half the gun control laws we do now back in 1776 we would have lost the American Revolution. Firearms also helped settle the west as our country grew. Finally they provide a means for the people to protect themselves from criminals.

The second amendment states, "A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed."

There has been much disagreement upon the literal meaning of the phrasing of this amendment. The right to keep and bear has been argued to be in support of the militia. It has been argued that the National Guard fulfills the requirement of a militia, and therefore the citizens themselves have no need, and no right to keep and bear arms for their own use. There have been numerous cases where the courts have ruled that there is a clear distinction between the right of a citizen to keep and bear arms for service in the militia, and for personal use. Before I cover those decisions I would like to go over a bit of history on the ownership and usage of firearms.

In the early period of our nations history it was common for all citizens to be well armed. Thomas Jefferson had a small armory in his home and told his nephew to give up all other sports in favor of hunting.

In 1623, Virginia made it mandatory that its colonists travel "well armed". In 1631 it went further by requiring colonists to engage in target practice on Sunday and to bring their firearms to church. In 1658 Virginia required every household to have a functioning firearm within the home and in 1673 it even provided for a citizen who was too poor to buy their own could have one purchased for them by the government.

Virginia was not alone in requiring its citizens to own firearms. In 1644 Massachusetts the first session of the legislature ordered that all men, to include indentured servants, own firearms. They even went so far as to impose a 6 shilling fine upon any citizen who was not armed.

In 1903 Congress passed the Militia Act which created the National Guard Bureau. This Bureau is the federal instrument responsible for the administration of the National Guard, which some claim is our modern day militia. They claim that this Act does away with the need, and rights of individual citizens to keep and bear arms.

However, this premise goes against what many of our founding fathers thought about the militia. For instance, Richard Henry Lee described the militia as, "The militia, when properly formed, are in fact the people themselves,...all men capable of bearing arms..." In 1788 Tench Coxe wrote, "Who are the militia? Are they not ourselves? Is it feared, then, that we shall turn our arms each man against his own bosom? Congress shall have no power to disarm the militia. Their swords, and every other terrible implement of the soldier, are the birth-right of an American ... The unlimited power of the sword is not in the hands of either the federal or state governments, but where I trust in God it will ever remain, in the hands of the People."

This has since been reaffirmed by our Congress as recently as 1982 when the Subcommittee on the Constitution issued a report for use by the Committee on the Judiciary, entitled The Right to Keep and Bear Arms.

From that report we find the following quote, "These commentators contend instead that the amendment's preamble regarding the necessity of a "well regulated militia . . . to a free state" means that the right to keep and bear arms applies only to a National Guard. Such a reading fails to note that the Framers used the term "militia" to relate to every citizen capable of bearing arms, and that the Congress has established the present National Guard under its own power to raise armies, expressly stating that it was not doing so under its power to organize and arm the militia."

That premise is once again clarified in H.R. Report No. 141,73d Cong., 1st session at 2-5 (1933), "That the National Guard is not the "Militia" referred to in the second amendment is even clearer today. Congress has organized the National Guard under its power to "raise and support armies" and not its power to "Provide for the organizing, arming and disciplining the Militia". This Congress chose to do in the interests of organizing reserve military units which were not limited in deployment by the strictures of our power over the constitutional militia, which can be called forth only "to execute the laws of the Union, suppress insurrections and repel invasions." The modern National Guard was specifically intended to avoid status as the constitutional militia, a distinction recognized by 10 U.S.C. Sec. 311(a).

If the National Guard does not qualify as the militia, exactly what does? Patrick Henry once said, "that a well regulated militia, composed of gentlemen and freemen, is the natural strength and only security of a free government...."

This clearly defines that the militia is composed of gentlemen and freemen. In other words, all citizens. The possession of firearms was also meant to provide a way for the people to protect their liberties from a government that might seek to infringe upon them.

Richard Henry Lee, a delegate from Virginia to the Constitutional Convention stated, "To preserve liberty, it is essential that the whole body of the people always possess arms, and be taught alike, especially when young, how to use them."

Noah Webster wrote a pamphlet which was aimed at swaying the people of Pennsylvania towards ratification of the Constitution. In his pamphlet he commented,
"Before a standing army can rule, the people must be disarmed; as they are in almost every kingdom in Europe. The supreme power in America cannot enforce unjust laws by the sword, because the whole body of the people are armed, and constitute a force superior to any band of regular troops that can be, on any pretense, raised in the United States."

George Washington once said, “Firearms stand next in importance to the Constitution itself. They are the American people's liberty teeth and keystone under independence. To secure peace, securely and happiness, the rifle and the pistol are equally indispensable. The very atmosphere of firearms everywhere restrains evil interference - they deserve a place of honor with all that is good.”

Washington not only believed that firearms were our 'liberty teeth and keystone under independence', he also believed “A free people ought not only to be armed and disciplined, but they should have sufficient arms and ammunition to maintain a status of independence from any who might attempt to abuse them, which would include their own government.”

Finally, Samuel Adams stated, "The Constitution shall never be prevent the people of the United States who are peaceable citizens from keeping their own arms."

It is clear, to anyone who would read the history of our nation, that one of the greatest fears of our founding fathers was the usurpation of power and the infringement of liberties by government. They wanted to ensure that the people were well armed and capable of fighting such infringement should they arise again. “No free man shall ever be de-barred the use of arms. The strongest reason for the people to retain their right to keep and bear arms is as a last resort to protect themselves against tyranny in government."
Thomas Jefferson

Throughout our nations early history our courts have upheld that Constitutional right. In 1813, Kentucky enacted the very first concealed weapon statute in our nations history. In 1822, the Kentucky Court of Appeals struck down that law as a violation of the state constitutional right to keep and bear arms, "And can there be entertained a reasonable doubt but the provisions of that act import a restraint on the right of the citizen to bear arms? The court apprehends it not. The right existed at the adoption of the Constitution; it then had no limit short of the moral power of the citizens to exercise it, and in fact consisted of nothing else but the liberty of the citizen to bear arms."
Bliss vs. Commonwealth, 12 Ken. (2 Litt.) 90, 92 (1822).

In 1837, Georgia banned the sale of pistols and other weapons. In Nunn v. State, the Georgia Supreme Court ruled that the statute was unconstitutional under the second amendment. The court ruled that, "the right of the whole people, old and young, men, women and boys, and not militia only, to keep and bear arms of every description, and not merely such as are used by the militia, shall not be infringed, curtailed, or broken in on, in the slightest degree; and all this for the important end to be attained: the rearing up and qualifying of a well regulated militia, so vitally necessary to the security of a free state."

In United States v. Cruikshank, the United States Supreme Court ruled that no indictment could be brought against the defendant since the right, "of bearing arms for a lawful purpose" is "not a right granted by the Constitution. Neither is it in any manner dependent upon that instrument for its existence."

These cases plainly state that our right to keep and bear arms cannot be infringed upon by our government, whether said government be local, state, or federal. The right to keep and bear is guaranteed under the Constitution.

Even for those who would still argue that we have no fear of our government abusing their power and therefore we have no need for firearms, I would like you to consider the following.

John Adams once said that, "Arms in the hands of citizens may be used at individual private self defense." Thomas Jefferson said, "Laws that forbid the carrying of arms. . . disarm only those who are neither inclined nor determined to commit crimes. . . Such laws make things worse for the assaulted and better for the assailants; they serve rather to encourage than to prevent homicides, for an unarmed man may be attacked with greater confidence than an armed man."

It is argued that we no longer need firearms to protect ourselves since we have local police forces which are there to protect us from crime. Professor Don. B. Kates, Jr., an eminent civil rights lawyer and criminologist states, "Even if all 500,000 American police officers were assigned to patrol, they could not protect 240 million citizens from upwards of 10 million criminals who enjoy the luxury of deciding when and where to strike. But we have nothing like 500,000 patrol officers; to determine how many police are actually available for any one shift, we must divide the 500,000 by four (three shifts per day, plus officers who have days off, are on sick leave, etc.). The resulting number must be cut in half to account for officers assigned to investigations, juvenile, records, laboratory, traffic, etc., rather than patrol."

Our police can not be everywhere all the time. Our courts have ruled that they are not liable when they cannot protect us from harm. In Warren v. District of Columbia two women were upstairs in a townhouse when they heard their roommate, a third woman, being attacked downstairs by intruders. They phoned the police several times and were assured that officers were on the way. After about 30 minutes, when their roommate's screams had stopped, they assumed the police had finally arrived. When the two women went downstairs they saw that in fact the police never came, but the intruders were still there. As the Warren court graphically states in the opinion: "For the next fourteen hours the women were held captive, raped, robbed, beaten, forced to commit sexual acts upon each other, and made to submit to the sexual demands of their attackers."

The three women sued the District of Columbia for failing to protect them, but D.C.'s highest court exonerated the District and its police, saying that it is a "fundamental principle of American law that a government and its agents are under no general duty to provide public services, such as police protection, to any individual citizen."

Some states, such as California, have specifically barred lawsuits against State or local officials for failing to protect by enacting statutes such as California's Government Code, Sections 821, 845, and 846, which state, "Neither a public entity or a public employee [may be sued] for failure to provide adequate police protection or service, failure to prevent the commission of crimes and failure to apprehend criminals."

It is therefore obvious that the responsibility for our own personal protection lies with us as individuals. We cannot do that if our right to keep and bear arms is infringed upon. In the 1950's a Ms. Riss was being harassed by a former boyfriend. The police could not station an officer at her residence to protect her so she applied for a gun permit. She was refused. On the eve of her engagement party her former boyfriend through acid in her face, blinding and disfiguring her. She sued the city for failing to protect her, and she lost her case. The lone dissenting justice of the court stated, "What makes the City's position [denying any obligation to protect the woman] particularly difficult to understand is that, in conformity to the dictates of the law [she] did not carry any weapon for self-defense. Thus, by a rather bitter irony she was required to rely for protection on the City of New York which now denies all responsibility to her."

Her inability to get a permit to carry a weapon would have been seen as ludicrous by our founders in Virginia and Massachusetts in the 1600's. This is not the only infringement upon our right to keep and bear arms. It is ludicrous that we are not to expect the police to defend us against crime, yet we are prohibited by laws and statutes from possessing arms to defend ourselves.

Numerous laws have also been passed regulating what type of gun you may own, making the possession of certain types a crime. Sawed off shotguns, automatic rifles and many other weapons are banned, all in violation of our Constitutional rights.

In the United States v. Miller (United States v. Miller, 307 U.S. 175 [1939]) a prosecution for carrying a sawed off shotgun was dismissed before trial on second amendment grounds. The court took no evidence as to the nature and type of the firearm. In their ruling they stated, "must be interpreted and applied with that end in view", when combined with the court's statement that all constitutional sources "show plainly enough that the militia comprised all males physically capable of acting in concert for the common defense.... these men were expected to appear bearing arms supplied by themselves and of the kind in common use at the time," Yet today a sawed off shotgun will land you in prison.

Not only are laws in place which make it a crime to own certain types of weapons, the government is attempting to make it harder for you to obtain one by passing strict rules upon firearms dealers. Witness the following law in California,
(D) Commencing January 1, 2003, except as authorized by the department, no firearms dealer may deliver a handgun unless the recipient performs a safe handling demonstration with that handgun. The demonstration shall commence with the handgun unloaded and locked with the firearm safety device with which it is required to be delivered, if applicable. While maintaining muzzle awareness, that is, the firearm is pointed in a safe direction, preferably down at the ground, and trigger discipline, that is, the trigger finger is outside of the trigger guard and along side of the handgun frame, at all times, the handgun recipient shall correctly and safely perform the following:

(i) If the handgun is a semiautomatic pistol:
(I) Remove the magazine.
(II) Lock the slide back. If the model of firearm does not allow the slide to be locked back, pull the slide back, visually and physically check the chamber to ensure that it is clear.
(III) Visually and physically inspect the chamber, to ensure that the handgun is unloaded.
(IV) Remove the firearm safety device, if applicable. If the firearm safety device prevents any of the previous steps, remove the firearm safety device during the appropriate step.
(V) Load one bright orange, red, or other readily identifiable dummy round into the magazine. If no readily identifiable dummy round is available, an empty cartridge casing with an empty primer pocket may be used.
(VI) Insert the magazine into the magazine well of the firearm.
(VII) Manipulate the slide release or pull back and release the slide. (VIII) Remove the magazine.
(IX) Visually inspect the chamber to reveal that a round can be chambered with the magazine removed.
(X) Lock the slide back to eject the bright orange, red, or other readily identifiable dummy round. If the handgun is of a model that does not allow the slide to be locked back, pull the slide back and physically check the chamber to ensure that the chamber is clear. If no readily identifiable dummy round is available, an empty cartridge casing with an empty primer pocket may be used.
(XI) Apply the safety, if applicable.
(XII) Apply the firearm safety device, if applicable.

When a firearms dealer is found to be in violation of the laws our government has put into place for the sale of guns they can be raided, their business shut down, and their lives ruined. All this over something as simple as some clerical errors or failure to follow proper procedure. Yet according to a CBS news story, former Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld was quoted as saying, "according to some estimates we cannot track $2.3 trillion in transactions." How can we allow the life and prosperity of a small firearms dealer ruined, while the biggest procurer of firearms and weaponry in the country is so incompetent that they cannot keep track of $2.3 trillion in transactions?

I understand that may of these laws were passed to keep guns out of the hands of criminals and that crime is indeed a serious problem in this country. However, disarming the general population who are peaceable citizens is a violation of the Constitution and it is not the answer. How many gun control laws have been passed? Yet crime still exists. Again, from the Subcommittee on the Constitution we find the following, "If gun laws in fact worked, the sponsors of this type of legislation should have no difficulty drawing upon long lists of examples of crime rates reduced by such legislation. That they cannot do so after a century and a half of trying — that they must sweep under the rug the southern attempts at gun control in the 1870-1910 period, the northeastern attempts in the 1920-1939 period, the attempts at both Federal and State levels in 1965-1976 — establishes the repeated, complete and inevitable failure of gun laws to control serious crime."

It is apparent that gun control laws do nothing to control crime, and they only make it next to impossible for us to protect ourselves from those who would commit crimes. It is also clear that the police cannot be everywhere all the time and that they are not totally responsible for our own safety. The possession of firearms is a Constitutional protection provided so that we can defend ourselves, raise a well armed militia, which according to 10 U.S.C. Sec. 311(a) the National Guard is not considered to be a militia, and finally to 'protect themselves against tyranny in government.'

As a final thought, I grew up with guns. I was shooting guns by the time I was 5 yrs old. I learned safe handling practices and I have never pointed a weapon at anyone, even jokingly. If you put a gun on a table in a room full of people it will not harm anyone by itself. It takes an individual to pick it up and use it to do any harm. As Theodore Roosevelt once said, "A vote is like a rifle; its usefulness depends upon the character of the user."

The right to keep and bear arms is a right that is guaranteed by the Constitution and is vital for the people if they wish to remain free. I could have saved all the time and effort of writing this if people would just understand as James Madison once said, "The Constitution preserves the advantage of being armed which Americans possess over the people of almost every other nation where the governments are afraid to trust the people with arms."

Our Dysfunctional Republic Part 11

The Bill of Rights

Before I begin my coverage of the individual amendments that comprise the Bill of Rights, I would like to refresh your memory with a quote by Alexander Hamilton that I used in an earlier segment, "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?"

When it comes to rights and individual liberties, I like to compare it to the age old question, 'What came first, the chicken or the egg', or in this case, which came first liberties or government? I think it is fair to say that the question has been answered already. If you recall, the Declaration of Independence states, "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed..."

Whether or not you believe in God is irrelevant. It is clear that our founders did and they believed that our Creator endowed us with certain unalienable rights. If you look up unalienable you will see that it means, 1) not able to be transferred or taken away, 2) incapable of being alienated, surrendered or transferred. Pick your definition, the fact of the matter is that these rights are yours from birth and they cannot be taken away from you. Since that is the case, governments were instituted among men to secure these rights, not to grant them, and certainly not to take them away from us for that matter.

Although Hamilton believed that a bill of rights 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." the bill of rights was in fact included in our Constitution. Therefore the rights as contained in those first ten amendments are unalienable and cannot be taken away from us by a government, especially a government that is supposed to be representative of the will of the people. I would like to give you three quick quotes by our founders regarding the guarding of our rights and liberties.

Daniel Webster said, "Good intentions will always be pleaded for every assumption of authority. It is hardly too strong to say that the Constitution was made to guard the people against the dangers of good intentions."

Benjamin Franklin said, "Any society that would give up a little liberty to gain a little security will deserve neither and lose both."
James Madison said, "We are right to take alarm at the first experiment upon our liberties."

Now that I have established that these rights are unalienable, and should not be thought of as something granted us by our government, I would like to get started by discussing the first amendment.

The 1rst amendment states, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances."

There are only 45 words in the first amendment, but so much has been written and said about them that volumes could be filled. I do not claim to be any smarter than the next guy. I only want to take these words at face value, supported by quotes from the founders as to their true intent.

In regards to the entire first amendment, Thomas Jefferson had this to say, "One of the amendments to the Constitution... expressly declares that 'Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof, or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press,' thereby guarding in the same sentence and under the same words, the freedom of religion, of speech, and of the press; insomuch that whatever violates either throws down the sanctuary which covers the others."

If I were to paraphrase Jefferson, you can't have you cake and eat it too. You cannot have the open usage of profanity, distasteful images and many other things that are covered under the umbrella of freedom of speech, then have open religious discussion in public places denied because it is a violation of the courts interpretation of the separation of church and state. The phrase separation of church and state is nowhere to be found in the first amendment, so where did it come from?

In 1802 there was a religious minority known as the Danbury Baptists. They were concerned about the majority position of the Congregationalist church in Connecticut. Thomas Jefferson wrote the Danbury Baptists a letter assuring them that their rights would be protected from interference by the federal government. A portion of Jefferson's letter states, "Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between man and his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legitimate powers of government reach actions only, and not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should "make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof," thus building a wall of separation between church and State. Adhering to this expression of the supreme will of the nation in behalf of the rights of conscience, I shall see with sincere satisfaction the progress of those sentiments which tend to restore to man all his natural rights, convinced he has no natural right in opposition to his social duties."

There have been numerous court cases, and civil suits by such groups as the ACLU that have attempted to ban all public display of religion outside the church and the sanctity of your home. School football teams have been told they cannot pray before a football game, prayers have been banned at commencement ceremonies, and almost everyone knows of Michael Newdows crusade to have all mention of God removed from public display.

People like Michael Newdow, who is a renowned atheist, claim that the open discussion of religion is a violation of the first amendment, and is offensive to him and others who choose not to believe in any God. To them I would like to quote Jefferson once again, “The legitimate powers of government extend to such acts as are only injurious to others. But it does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods, or no God. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg.”

Again to paraphrase Jefferson, ‘sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never harm me.’ No one is asking Mr. Newdow, or any atheist for that matter, to believe in God. However to ban all such talk by those who do is a violation of their freedom of speech. Remember what Jefferson said about that, “whatever violates either throws down the sanctuary which covers the others”

Yet the Supreme Court has upheld many instances in which the separation clause has been argued in preventing the public display or discussion of religion. However in 1971 in Lemon v. Kurtzman, (91 S. Ct 2105), the court established a three part test to determine if an action of the government violates the separation clause of the first amendment. In their ruling they determined that to violate the first amendment 1) the government action must have a secular purpose; 2) its primary purpose must not be to inhibit or to advance religion; 3) there must be no excessive entanglement between government and religion.

If we were to take the case of prayer being banned for the players on a football team prior to a game, I find no secular government purpose, especially when the prayer was mutually agreed upon by all the team members. There is no proof that these players were trying to advance their religious beliefs upon anyone, although the banning of their right to prayer sure seems like it inhibits that right. Finally there is not one shred of evidence that there is any entanglement between government and religion when the action was, again, of mutual consent among the players, and not endorsed or forced upon them by the school.

There are far too many instances where the separation clause of the first amendment has been misinterpreted that I could write for hours on this subject alone. However I would like to provide you with the thoughts of James Madison as to why there should be a separation between the government and the church, “The purpose of separation of church and state is to keep forever from these shores the ceaseless strife that has soaked the soil of Europe with blood for centuries.”

Our founders did not want to push religion, or a particular sect of religion upon anyone. They knew that this had led to far too much bloodshed in the past. Yet they did not want to prohibit anyone from freely practicing their own personal beliefs. This is only one instance in which the first amendment has been violated.

The next section of the first amendment regards the freedom of speech. Aside from the freedom of religious speech, our government is now proposing hate speech legislation whereby hateful speech against groups or persons will become illegal and punishable by fines and jail time. If this is not a violation of freedom of speech I do not know what is. I feel that the guarantee of freedom of speech has been abused by many to cover things that are morally reprehensible, such as the lyrics to much of the music, and the things that are considered art, they are still protected under the first amendment. These issues are due to a breakdown in the moral fabric of society, where respect for others, and decency have all but disappeared. Yet to propose legislation prohibiting them is still a violation of the first amendment.

The next section of the first amendment covers the freedom of the press. While much of the media, and that includes network and cable news, as well as talk radio and print news, may have a biased slant on the issues, either liberal or conservative, there is still a good amount of freedom of the press in our society. Witness the fact that my articles, and those written by many others are finding their way into print either via smaller news papers, or the internet. It might be harder for people to find the truth concerning the issues that concern them, but the truth is still out there to be found if people are willing to take the time to look for it.

The final portion of the first amendment deals with the right of the people to peaceably assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances. Our right to assemble still exists, but it is no longer as easy as gathering together to protest an issue. We now are required to obtain permits to do so. I don’t believe that our founders would have needed a permit to gather together to hold a convention for the drafting of the Declaration of Independence, or the Boston Tea Party. It would have been unthinkable for them to ask the British permission to protest against them.

The redress of grievances is an area where I find that our first amendment rights have been infringed upon to a great extent. I write numerous letters to my elected officials, and I keep all their responses. I can show you examples of how on many separate occasions I have received the very same reply from a particular senator or congressman, sometimes two and three times.

A more disturbing disregard for the right of the people to redress their government for perceived grievances is this. A complaint was lodged against the IRS asking that the they provide the statute and clause that clearly states that the average American worker is required to pay an income tax. On August 31, 2005, federal judge Emmit Sullivan ruled that the government does not have to answer the American people’s questions, even though it is guaranteed in the first amendment. This is a federal judge who is sworn to uphold the law, and remember, the Constitution, which included the bill of rights at the time it was ratified, is the supreme law of the land. He is openly ruling that our government does not have to answer our redress of grievances. Tell me, with a straight face if you can, that our government respects your right to petition them.

As you can see, by the coverage of the first amendment alone, we have allowed our government to infringe upon many of those unalienable rights. John Adams once said, “The jaws of power are always open to devour, and her arm is always stretched out, if possible, to destroy the freedom of thinking, speaking, and writing.”

There are many more instances of violations of the first amendment. I hope I have caused enough of you to begin to question whether or not the rights contained in the first amendment are still as unalienable as you thought.