Friday, July 18, 2008


"Liberty has never come from the government. Liberty has always come from the subjects of it. The history of liberty is a history of resistance. The history of liberty is a history of limitations of governmental power, not the increase of it."
Woodrow Wilson

Power is something that is often sought. However, once it is obtained it is like a drug that constantly demands an ever increasing amount of it. Most often it is wielded in a way that only benefits those who have it, with little regard for the welfare of those who do not.

Thomas Jefferson once said, "I have never been able to conceive how any rational being could propose happiness to himself from the exercise of power over others." Our Founding Fathers were wise when it came to the temptations which came with unbridled power. Anyone who has taken the time to research the writings of Jefferson, Madison, and the other founders would know that they were wary of a government with unlimited power.

English historian Lord Acton is quoted as saying, "Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are always bad men." Is that why Jefferson said that rational men do not seek such power, or is it, as author David Brin said, "It is said that power corrupts, but actually it's more true that power attracts the corruptable. The sane are usually attracted by other things than power."

Whichever may be true the fact is that as Albert Einstein once said, “The attempt to combine wisdom and power has only rarely been successful and then only for a short while.” That quote certainly applies to our government today, and particularly to the increasing scope of power sought by the executive branch under the present administration. Unfortunately, Einstein’s thoughts on power turned out to be more realistic than the vision held by Thomas Jefferson when he said, “I hope our wisdom will grow with our power, and teach us, that the less we use our power the greater it will be.”

When the original thirteen states ratified the Constitution of the United States, they granted the federal government certain enumerated powers that were contained within that document. Those powers were specific and limited, yet over time the people of this country have become ignorant as to what powers the Constitution grants to the government, and more importantly, which ones it does not.

Thomas Jefferson stated that concisely when he said, “I consider the foundation of the Constitution as laid on this ground: That 'all powers not delegated to the United States, by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States or to the people' (10th Amendment). To take a single step beyond the boundaries thus specifically drawn around the powers of Congress, is to take possession of a boundless field of power, no longer susceptible to any definition.”

That is exactly what has happened, we, through our ignorance of what the Constitution says, have not only enabled our government to expand it’s powers far beyond the original intent of the Constitution, we have voted for candidates who make campaign promises that they are not authorized to fulfill if they were to govern strictly according to their Constitutional charter.

Our founders realized that there may come a time when the Constitution may not fit the needs of the nation, and they offered us a method to remedy any future deficiency. As we the people were the ones who granted the government its power in the first place by ratifying the Constitution, it is only by an act of the people that the powers granted the government could be increased. Otherwise, as Jefferson said, “Every government degenerates when trusted to the rulers of the people alone. The people themselves are its only safe depositories.”

The proper method for either expanding, or restricting the powers of government are to be found in Article 5, which states, “The Congress, whenever two thirds of both houses shall deem it necessary, shall propose amendments to this Constitution, or, on the application of the legislatures of two thirds of the several states, shall call a convention for proposing amendments, which, in either case, shall be valid to all intents and purposes, as part of this Constitution, when ratified by the legislatures of three fourths of the several states, or by conventions in three fourths thereof...”

Our first President, George Washington felt so strongly about this, that he stated, “If in the opinion of the People, the distribution or modification of the Constitutional powers be in any particular wrong, let it be corrected by an amendment in the way which the Constitution designates. But let there be no change by usurpation; for though this, in one instance, may be the instrument of good, it is the customary weapon by which free governments are destroyed.”

We the people have forgotten that our government cannot simply assume powers not granted them by the Constitution, whether they do so by Executive Order, Presidential Signing Statements, Treaties, or Trade Agreements. Not only have we the people forgotten this fundamental principle, those we have elected to represent us seem to have forgotten it as well.

There is an organization called Friends of the Article V Convention, or FOAVC,, whose webpage states, “We are a non-partisan association of American citizens from every state in our Republic comprised of a broad range of occupations, ethnicities, religious affiliations and political persuasions. Our common bond is a deep commitment to preserving the values and principles embodied in our founding documents - the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution - upon which this nation was founded.”

One of the members of this organization sent out an e mail describing how he had contacted members of Congress in regards to holding a Constitutional Convention to propose amendments to the Constitution. This is part of what he said, "I have openly confronted several Congress members in public arenas now directly. This campaign season is open season, on them. They all respond with thundering silence, completely dumbfounded! One chased me down after the showbiz to ask about it. They don't have a clue what the Constitution says. Its not just that they won't address the issue. Neither the members nor their staff have a clue.”

So, it is not only we the people who are not familiar with what the Constitution says, it is those we elect to represent us as well. When a body of elected representatives do not understand the limitations placed upon them by their charter, in this case our Constitution, how can they be expected to govern within it’s confines?

This also causes one to wonder, are the violations of their oaths of office to uphold the Constitution due to ignorance, or is it something more sinister, intentional violations of the authority granted them?

Could it be that all the special interest groups such the banks, the oil companies, the pharmaceutical companies, ad naseum that lobby Congress, who contribute to the campaigns of these politicians are the ones who actually have the ultimate say in what our government does, or does not do? Could it be that the political parties, who rely upon these special interest groups for their donations, have gained so power, that a candidate who truly understands the Constitution has no chance of ever getting elected?

George Washington warned us about the dangers of political parties, “However [political parties] may now and then answer popular ends, they are likely in the course of time and things, to become potent engines, by which cunning, ambitious, and unprincipled men will be enabled to subvert the power of the people and to usurp for themselves the reins of government, destroying afterwards the very engines which have lifted them to unjust dominion.”

Whatever the case may be, those in power, whether they be puppets controlled by the special interest groups, or merely ignorant people who unwillingly legislate outside their scope of power, we the people have allowed them to become firmly entrenched because we also are ignorant as to the powers which the Constitution grants them.

Whether we have simply allowed this to happen due to our own ignorance, or whether we have been lied to by those we’ve entrusted to govern according to strictly defined limitations, the end result is the same, we now have a government that is totally out of control.

What is worse is that when people try to inform the public as to the truth concerning their government, they are shunned and called all kinds of names. Carl Sagan, the noted scientist once said, “One of the saddest lessons of history is this: If we've been bamboozled long enough, we tend to reject any evidence of the bamboozle. The bamboozle has captured us. Once you give a charlatan power over you, you almost never get it back.”

Folks, we have been bamboozled. Whether it be by design, or by ignorance, the end result is the same. Whether our nation still has the chance to turn things around, or if we are too far gone to survive is something that is being argued by many. In truth, only time will tell.

Unfortunately, if we are past the point of no return, if our nation, as envisioned by our founders, is truly on the brink of self destruction, things are going to get awfully ugly, and awfully quickly. I only hope that people are prepared for what lies just over the horizon. At least they can’t say that they haven’t been warned.

Somewhat of an explanation

In my recent articles I have been pretty harsh in regards to the people of this country. Although my opinion has not changed, I feel somewhat obligated to explain why I feel this way about my fellow countrymen.

When people vote, I often wonder what is the deciding factor for them casting their ballot for a particular candidate. Is it because that candidate stands for certain principles which coincide with what they believe in? Is it because that candidate promised things which would benefit that person? Is it simply because they are better orators than their opponent? Or is it that they feel disgust for both candidates, but still feel it is their civic duty to vote for the lesser of two evils?

With the caliber of candidates we have had to choose from, I suspect that far too many people are forced to vote for the lesser of two evils. Even so, when people do cast their vote, no matter their reasons, I still think that they expect that candidate to live up to some expectations in return for their vote.

However, there seems to be one thing that far too many Americans have forgotten, that those we elect are bound by the Constitution as to what they can and cannot do in their capacity as representatives of the people.

Each person that we elect swears an oath to uphold the Constitution, yet many of the promises a candidate makes, which is why most people vote for them, are promises that are not included in the specifically enumerated powers granted them in the Constitution.

If we used the Constitution as a litmus test for most of the candidates running for office, none of them would ever get elected. That is because if they ran on a platform which conformed to the Constitution, they would not be able to make all those promises they do, therefore the majority of people would have no reason to vote for them.

Consider the following. Let's say there is a town that has a plant that build GM automobiles and the majority of the people in that town do not like Ford vehicles. Is it within the power of their duly elected sheriff to arrest anyone who owns a Ford just because people don't like Fords? What if your neighbor had a nicer house than you, could your duly elected sheriff take money from your neighbors bank account to fix your house up to the same standards as your neighbors? How about if there are a large number of poor in your city, can the duly elected sheriff come into your home, take food from your pantry and give it to the poor? In all the above cases the answer is no. The reason is because the duly elected sheriff is bound to uphold the law. If there is no law that gives the sheriff those powers, then they cannot take it upon themselves to do those things, no matter how large the majority that wants the sheriff to do them.

While that scenario may be farfetched, the same principle applies to every elected representative for whom you cast a vote. If the city charter, state constitution, or U.S. Constitution does not grant a particular elected official a power, then they just do not have that power, no matter how many citizens support it.

Thomas Jefferson once said, "I consider the foundation of the Constitution as laid on this ground: That 'all powers not delegated to the United States, by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States or to the people' (10th Amendment). To take a single step beyond the boundaries thus specifically drawn around the powers of Congress, is to take possession of a boundless field of power, no longer susceptible to any definition."

There you have it, if the Constitution does not specifically grant our government a power, then they do not have it, and they cannot assume it, no matter how many people vote for them because they made a promise to do it.

There is a common mentality that government is there to provide things for us. Government benefits, subsidies, and agencies abound whose job it is to take care of us. We believe that it is the job of the government to do these things for us, to ensure that we have all the things we believe we are ‘entitled’ to. I find it funny that at the same time we are asking the government to take care of our every need, we complain that our taxes are too high. Where do people think the money for all these programs comes from?

There are two quotes that people need to ponder in regards to what our government is supposed to do for us. The first is by Thomas Jefferson, “The policy of the American government is to leave their citizens free, neither restraining nor aiding them in their pursuits.”, and the second is by Ben Franklin, “The Constitution only gives people the right to pursue happiness. You have to catch it yourself.”

So, in our desire to let government pass legislation to benefit us, or to regulate nearly every aspect of our lives, we have opened Pandora's Box. Did we honestly think that once government found it could legislate at will, without restrictions, they would only do what is in our best interest?

Thomas Jefferson warned us that, "Experience hath shewn, that even under the best forms of government those entrusted with power have, in time, and by slow operations, perverted it into tyranny." How much more easily would this be possible when the people refuse to monitor the actions of their elected representatives, and in fact, specifically vote for them based upon promises that are a direct violation of their charter of power as found in the Constitution?

Our system of government has gotten so bad that those who hold office no longer represent the people at all. It would not be too far a stretch to say that they may in fact despise us due to the fact that the Constitution grants us more power than it grants them.

Whether their continued efforts to dismantle the restraints upon them found in the Constitution, and to abolish our freedom and liberty as found in the Bill of Rights is something that is happening by design, or by accident, is not the point. The point is that it is happening, and we the people are sitting back and, not only allowing it to happen, but we are supporting it by electing representatives who refuse to govern according to the limitations that are placed upon them by the Constitution.

If our those who hold power no longer represent we the people, then who exactly do they represent? Think about this for a moment. The amount of money needed to run a political campaign is mind boggling, and it has to come from somewhere. Those contributions come from people, groups, and corporations who throw their lot behind the candidate who promises to support their cause, or fight for things that will benefit them.

Therefore, those we elect have gone from being representatives of the people, to special interest lackeys. That alone should be cause for concern. Benito Mussolini, the Italian dictator during World War II, once said, "The first stage of fascism should more appropriately be called Corporatism because it is a merger of State and corporate power" That is what we have now, a government that cares little for the welfare of the citizenry, instead allowing corporations to run roughshod over the people and to influence policy and legislation, solely for the sake of increased profits and riches.

One look at our government today and we can see what we have wrought by allowing our government to overstep its authority and switch allegiances from the people, to businesses.

One final thought. The question I always find myself asking is this, if the people of this country are unhappy with the state of the Union, why do we always place the blame upon the President when it is Congress who passes the laws? The President merely signs bills or vetoes them, he has no legislative power. If the Congress legislated according to the Constitution many of the programs and agencies of our government would not even exist. Whether they pass laws that are unconstitutional, or if they allow the executive branch to overstep it's boundaries by assuming powers that are not granted it by the Constitution, it is Congress who is to blame for all the problems in this country.

Two recent polls, one by FOX and another by Gallup, show that Congress has a dismal approval rating, wherein roughly 19% of Americans approve of their job performance.

So, why do we see so many incumbents getting re-elected? Why has Senator Robert Byrd, from West Virginia, stayed in office for 49 years, Senator Edward Kennedy for 47 years, Senator Daniel Inouye for 45 years, Senator Theodore Stevens for 39 years, and Senator Joe Biden for 35 years?

My own representatives have been in office for quite some time as well. Senator Diane Feinstein has held her seat since 1992, and my representative in the House, Wally Herger, has been in office for 11 years.

Is it because we are content when our representatives do well in ensuring that our state, or our districts get their slice of the pie from the treasury? Is it because the programs and agencies they create benefit us individually?

That is why I am so critical of the people of this country. We have political stagnation, putrid, rotten officials who have lost touch with the people they represent, yet remain in office because we refuse to vote them out. Sooner or later our apathy and our ignorance of the true nature of government is going to come back and bite us in the ass. With the problems this nation is currently experiencing I fear it is sooner.

If we want to turn things around we must see past the lies and propaganda that is spewed from the mouths of those who seek our votes. We must look past the misinformation that is being told us by the media in regards to the affairs of our government. We must turn off our televisions and take the time to do some research on our own about what our government is doing and how these things affect us. If not, all is lost.

We have allowed thieves, liars, and dare I say traitors, to hold office while they entice us with all sorts of campaign promises in one hand, and rob us of our liberty with the other. All this is happening because the people of this country do not care about whether or not their government has become a polluted cesspool of greed and deceit.

If that is what America wants, that is what America is getting. The only problem that I have with that, is that it affects me as well. And that is why I am so mad at my fellow countrymen.

I would like to finish with one final quote by George Washington, "Let the reins of government then be braced and held with a steady hand, and every violation of the constitution be reprehended. If defective, let it be amended, but not suffered to be trampled upon whilst it has an existence."

Monday, July 07, 2008

Last Of The Sour Grapes Series

It has become common for advertisers to exploit events by holding large sales named after a particular holiday. Usually those placing the ads will brag about dropping prices or having zero percent interest for a certain amount of time.

However, in the ads for car and truck sales that I have seen lately, there is a new gimmick designed to get you into the salesroom and into a new vehicle, cheap or free gas. I have seen ads that promise you $2.99 gas for life if you buy their vehicle. I have seen ads that promise $1000 in free gas if you buy before the end of the July 4th weekend. I find that indicative of our economic situation that auto dealers are playing upon your concerns about the rising cost of gasoline.

As I watch these ads over this July 4th weekend, a wide range of emotions have passed through me. I normally begin by becoming angry that these advertisers desecrate a holiday meant for remembering our nation's independence, and the sacrifices made by our founders, all so that they can sell a few cars and trucks. Then I proceed to thoughts of concern over our nation's floundering economic situation. Finally my thoughts return to the people of this country.

Lately I have been awfully harsh on the American people. My methods may not be as effective as I would like, but I am only trying to get people to open their eyes and see what is behind the damage that is being done, and has been done, to our nation by our government, and by those outside influences who wield control over them. I want people to stop trusting their leaders at their word, to stop trusting the mainstream media to provide them with all the facts, or the truth for that matter.

When something as precious as your individual liberty, or the survival of your country is threatened, ought not you to do all that you can to protect it? Would anyone who holds even the slightest amount of honor and dignity cower in the corner, or sit in another room watching television while the safety of his home or family is threatened? How could that same person refuse to take action in defense of his nation or their liberty, especially when it is being threatened by the very people he has entrusted to safeguard it?

Is this what we have become, a nation of timid little mice, too afraid to be different, to take a stand, speak out, and fight if necessary, with whatever abilities that God has given us, against corruption and evil so pervasive, so coordinated that it threatens the very existence of our nation and our Constitution?

Or could it be that we have become so absorbed in our own self-gratification that anything that requires us to take the time to research and to question the legitimacy of the actions of our elected representatives is considered an unwanted intrusion upon our time?

Our ancestors who fought, and those who paid the ultimate price for our liberty, must be hiding their faces in shame at how we have allowed such a travesty to befall to happen to the principles upon which this nation was founded, to witness this nation deteriorating while our liberties are trampled upon by people of our own choosing.

When we go to the polls to vote for a candidate, we no longer have the slightest idea what the duties are of the person for whom we cast our vote or what his qualifications are. Would you hire someone to do a job at your house if you did not know what first needed to be done? Would you not check that person's qualifications to make sure he or she was trained and licensed to do the job properly? If you would do all that work for something as minor as making a repair to your home, why would you not do the same for someone who has the ability to raise your taxes, send your son off to war, or in the worst case scenario, ruin your country and erase your God-given rights?

When people go to vote, they no longer cast their ballot for the candidate who promises to do what is best for our nation. Instead, they vote for whoever makes the most appealing sounding promises that will benefit them as individuals.

Alexander Tytler is often quoted as saying, “A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the voters discover that they can vote themselves largesse from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates promising the most benefits from the public treasury with the result that a democracy always collapses over loose fiscal policy, always followed by a dictatorship.”

Whether or not he actually said that is irrelevant. The fact is that it aptly applies to us. We now have two candidates running for office who are the most unworthy I have seen in my fifty years of existence on this planet. The people who follow them, particularly the followers of Barack Obama, are almost maniacal in their misdirected, mindless loyalty. They refuse to even consider that their candidate may have some serious flaws that make him unworthy to be President.

It is not just the people to blame. The political parties put their support behind these candidates as well. If you will recall, Ron Paul ran on the Republican platform and was shunned and neglected by his own political party.

I wrote both the national and the state Republican Party offices asking how I might obtain Ron Paul material, banners, flyers and such to post and hand out while he was actively campaigning. I never once heard from them. The political parties had already decided that Ron Paul was not going to get their support.

George Washington had the following to say about political parties, “However [political parties] may now and then answer popular ends, they are likely in the course of time and things, to become potent engines, by which cunning, ambitious, and unprincipled men will be enabled to subvert the power of the people and to usurp for themselves the reins of government, destroying afterwards the very engines which have lifted them to unjust dominion.” Washington also warned us to “Guard against the impostures of pretended patriotism.”

Our system of government is quite simple, and at the same time exquisite in its design. The Constitution grants the individual branches certain powers to do certain things, the whole time we the people have the ability to recall those whom we elect for overstepping the authority granted them. Again, George Washington said, “The power under the constitution will always be in the people. It is entrusted for certain defined purposes, and for a certain limited period, to representatives of their own choosing; and, whenever it is executed contrary to their interest, or not agreeable to their wishes, their servants can and undoubtedly will be recalled.”

However, somewhere along the line, we fell asleep at the wheel, we took our eyes off our government and turned them to our own personal gratification. Our government began to grow in both size and scope of its powers as the power-hungry expanded their domain of power. We were told that the laws they passed were in our best interests. Daniel Webster warned us about good intentions, “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.”

When a person is lied to enough times, without ever having the opportunity to hear the truth, that lie becomes the truth to him. When the truth is finally told, that person is often unwilling to accept it, and those who speak the truth are scorned and ridiculed as conspiracy theorists or whackos.
When people write about our liberties being stripped away from us by our government, those who read these articles laugh at us. They, obviously have not done their homework, and they are not taking seriously the warnings about human nature and power given to us by our Founding Fathers. They do not understand what the true meaning of liberty is.

Thomas Jefferson described liberty as, “Rightful liberty is unobstructed action according to our will within limits drawn around us by the equal rights of others. I do not add 'within the limits of the law' because law is often but the tyrant's will, and always so when it violates the rights of the individual.”

Does that sound like the society we live in today, where all we do is get taxed, licensed and regulated by government? James Madison, who is considered to be the author of the Constitution, once stated, “[T]he powers of the federal government are enumerated; it can only operate in certain cases; it has legislative powers on defined and limited objects, beyond which it cannot extend its jurisdiction.”

When we vote, we elect people to do a job in our government. They are to represent our wishes in government, as long as those wishes are within the powers granted to them by the charter that is the Constitution. They have no authority to take one step outside the powers granted them by the Constitution, yet they do so regularly. That happens because we are, a) ignorant of what the Constitution says, and b) we expect the government to take care of us. Ben Franklin once said, “The Constitution only gives people the right to pursue happiness. You have to catch it yourself.”

Individual liberty means that you are free to do as you please as long as your actions do not infringe upon the rights and safety of others. However, there is also a flip side to that, and that is that liberty means that you are also responsible for your own actions, and ultimately for your own success or failure.

When our government passes a law under the umbrella of the ‘general welfare’ clause of the Constitution, it claims that it has the authority to do what is best for us, whether we like it or not. However, James Madison said this about the general welfare, “With respect to the words, "general welfare," I have always regarded them as qualified by the details of power connected with them. To take them in a literal and unlimited sense would be a metamorphosis of the Constitution…[that] was not contemplated by the creators.”

Therefore, the only way that we as a people can know if our government is doing the job it was hired to do is to educate ourselves as to what the Constitution says, and to keep ourselves informed as to what our government is doing. The consequences of not doing these things are already apparent in the lamentable state of affairs of our nation.

Thomas Jefferson said one more thing that I find interesting: “Bodily decay is gloomy in prospect, but of all human contemplations the most abhorrent is body without mind.”

Is that what our nation has become, a group of mindless zombies who blindly follow along without contemplating the repercussions of our government's actions? I fear that may be the case when I see people throng around a candidate such as Barack Obama as if he were a messiah. I fear it may be so when I am told by people what their reasons are for voting for a particular candidate.

If that is the case, I would ask that people stop asking God to bless America, and instead ask that God save America, save it from itself, for it is obvious that it does not know how to do so on its own.

Friday, July 04, 2008

I don't normally post images like this here, but a friend of mine, The Zombieslayer posted a cool pic of a squirrel on his blog, so I thought I would reciprocate.

I don't normally post images here, but a friend of mine The Zombieslayer posted a pretty neat picture of a squirrel, so I thought I would reciprocate by posting a picture I shot of a bee on one of the flowers on our Hibiscus.

Hope you enjoy.