History


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Today marked the end of the papacy of a good, if not great, and humble man trying to provide moral and religious leadership on an increasingly evil planet. Pope Benedict XVI, now Pope emeritus, served his flock well through (to say the least) challenging and difficult times for the Catholic Church worldwide.

Throughout everything that happened during his papacy, including the sex abuse scandals that have dogged the clergy, he has been a rock solid proponent of rationalism and conservative Catholic doctrine. In 2005 many “cafeteria Catholics” were looking to Joseph Aloisius Ratzinger, as the newly minted Pope Benedict XVI, to make wholesale changes in the Church hierarchy and to embrace what may be kindly termed “progressive” changes in Church doctrine and practice. To his credit, Benedict did not budge to the whims of the populists and the progressives…and his teachings were what might be thought of as a back-to-basics in the individual-Church-faith relationship. He espoused and frequently preached “Friendship with Jesus”, where he saw the love of God as a means and a bridge to loving others who loved God as well. He saw this as an important tool in replacing the rampant secularism and consumerism that has gripped developed societies. He also sought to bring the Catholic faith closer to other worldwide religions by reaching out to other prelates and faiths. But he also had the strength of his convictions to speak out regarding evil when he saw it, and this forthrightness created friction with Islam and many of its teachings.

So as the helicopter that carried him away to the papal retreat, Castle Gandolfo, we should offer our thanks to a man who was unselfish and worthy of his station. A man who put the needs of his God and his Church before his needs. He was a worthy successor to the beloved John Paul II, and he sets a high bar for future Popes to aspire to. We can only hope and pray that the upcoming conclave puts aside political correctness and chooses Benedict’s successor based on his loyalty to God and to the Church, and his fidelity to the teachings of Jesus Christ.

God bless you and thank you, Pope Benedict. May God always shine his grace down upon you.

I was subjected to severe bullying when I was a child in the early and mid 1960′s. I went to Catholic parochial school, so you would have thought that the students there would have had more scruples or have been more humanistic because of their religious education. But let’s be realistic, kids will be kids. And vicious kids will be vicious.

My problem was that I was born with prominent, “Dumbo” ears. From the age of six I was subjected to humiliation and calls of “Ears!” by the older kids. This was usually followed by other insults and flicks of my ears. There was absolutely nothing I could do about this bullying and taunting…my ears were my ears. And once the bullying and name calling started, it didn’t take long for all the kids, of all ages, to chime in. So, I tried as best I could to accept the catcalls and the torture. My parents were as understanding as they could be…but I guess their options were limited in that situation. I also didn’t see much comfort and succor from the nuns at school. They would stop it when they could, but they never laid down any ground rules, etc.

Being kids, the taunting kids were crafty about their humiliation of me…and if one were caught and punished, I bore the wrath. Sure, I had close friends…BUT, even they would occasionally sneak in the “E” bomb to pick at me, for whatever reason. They were after all dopey kids.

When I reached nine years old, my parents and I couldn’t take any more…so they arranged for me to have surgery that would essentially pin my ears back in a more “normal” position. This would make me less of a target of opportunity for the idiots who, unfortunately, were my peers. I underwent my first surgery by a local ENT at a local hospital. The operative word is “first.” The first surgery didn’t go to plan — I ended up with infections of both ears and hearing damage from the infections. I had to wear bandages that looked like giant white earmuffs…and even though the surgery was done in the summer, I still was a kid and insisted to go outside and play. Bad choice! More humiliation due to the complications.

It took MONTHS to heal properly, and after the ear muffs came off the results were hideous. My ears were disfigured…and they were grossly asymmetrical. Good God, the worst case scenario had landed upon me! Add to this the incredible pain, the constant putrid discharge and my inability to sleep much, it was a mind bending experience for a young child. And guess what? The taunting and catcalls increased exponentially. After what seemed an infinite wait, we saw another doctor in Boston (this was a hardship for my parents because we lived 45 miles from the city and they were lower middle class folks, but at this point they would have done ANYTHING for me), another surgery was scheduled with this doctor to repair the damage done in surgery #1. The second surgery was performed at Children’s Hospital. Notice I said “second.” Once started, the doctor decided the damage was so great and the scar tissue so thick that he could only do one ear at a time. This surgery ended with no complications, and after four weeks, I had the other ear done. Again, no complications.

This time the doctor in Boston used new-fangled metal staples behind my ears so I wouldn’t have to suffer the indignity of the earmuffs again. But the disadvantage of these staples was the PAIN that they caused. It was like having hot pokers driven into the sides of my head and into my ears. But thankfully I only needed the staples for 3 weeks or so…and the ears healed just fine.

But the results were less than spectacular. The Boston doctor only had so much he could work with given the damage done by that first local doctor. Although he was able to make my ears bend closer to my head, the accumulated surgeries left them noticeably asymmetrical.

However, after the healing, POOF, the taunting and bullying ebbed and eventually stopped. Occasionally I would get a spurious call of “Ears”, but I would rejoin with a similar physiological insult…and thus I achieved a Mexican standoff with my taunters.

But this whole ordeal really worked on my mind. I would exhibit tics and other habits — like incessantly licking my lips or blinking my eyes. The bullying and taunting left me a train wreck mentally as it really tamped down my self-confidence. But I had a strong will and a loving family, and I was able to rationalize my way through this difficult time in my life. However, I’m left with both emotional and physical scars from my bullying experience. And this bullying has definitely made me a different person than I would have been if it had not happened. No one can be absolutely sure of anything, but I’m quite sure of this.

To this day I’m still hyper-sensitive about the appearance of my ears. I don’t like my picture taken. I wear a baseball cap to deflect attention away from my ears. The “ears” ordeal has left me non-assertive and I tend to shy away from confrontation. And it has left me with an inferiority complex that I constantly work on to overcome. But I am bolstered by the fact that I was able to work my way through the bullying with my head held high. I ended up being the physically biggest kid in my class for a time, so that one simple fact of nature guaranteed that I didn’t have to suffer any longer after seventh grade. But six years can take its toll.

Bullying is not a victim-less endeavor, unworthy of notice by adults. It isn’t just kids play, but it can be a cruel, life-altering ordeal for the recipient. I think it might be hard for someone who hadn’t been bullied to understand what the bullied individual went through. But I assure you that there are many damaged folks out there, and many diverse stories of how they’ve dealt with the consequences.

This was just mine…

My hope is that we never, ever forget what happened on what started out as a crystal-clear, azure-blue-sky day we who were alive experienced as September 11, 2001. And let’s not varnish over who committed this unspeakable act of murderous barbarism, and why, in the name of political correctness.

Let us not forget the 2,977 innocents who were slaughtered by Islamist extremists, nor forget their families who have had to endure for these past ten years the horror, grief and sadness of their loss. We must teach our children this fact and the magnitude of this loss so that it will never, ever happen again in our nation.

There are no amount of remembrances, tributes and memorials that will bring back a single person loss to the attack. There is no amount of revisionist history or second-guessing that will have saved a single soul. The loss of these unsuspecting victims — working men and women, the heroic police and fire personnel who charged into burning buildings to save them, and those truly heroic passengers on United flight 93 who fought back against those who were bent on sacrificing them should be a tragic lesson to us all to remain vigilant and to realize that there are those in the world who hate us beyond description. And those individuals and groups do not care if they kill innocent civilians in the pursuit of their goals.

I am sure that the victims of this despicable terrorist act, a modern day, barbaric, Kamikaze sneak attack, rest with God and that they look from the great beyond approvingly at their flesh-and-blood loved ones who have tried the best to continue on with their lives. God bless each and every one of them.

May God give eternal rest and peace to the souls of our brothers, sisters, mothers, fathers, aunts, uncles, husbands, wives, friends, neighbors and loved ones who perished on that fateful day in 2001. They did not deserve such a fate.

May we American NEVER forget.

God Bless America!

The Obama administration is looking for a do over for the Lockerbie bomber.

You have got to be kidding me!!

Almost nary a tough word was spoken when this vicious killer was released for “humanitarian” reasons by Scotland almost one year ago to the day. But now, learning that Abdel Al-Megrahi is essentially fit as a fiddle and the Libyans are thumbing their noses at us, the Obamites want to push the giant diplomatic reset button (think the Staples’ “EASY Button” and you’ll get the picture) and put Al-Megrahi back into Scottish prison to serve out his sentence. I’ve got two words for ya Barack and Hillary:

FAT CHANCE!

Al-Megrahi is now legend in Libya. And the insane, preening Muammar Gaddafi isn’t going to let his trick pony go that easily. This whole release brouhaha was, from the Libya’s point of view, a masterstroke of deception and one uppsmanship. They’ve been the low guy on the world’s totem pole for a long time, and have received their rightful fair share of discipline and criticism from the rest of the world. But now Al-Megrahi gives them a symbol of ersatz superiority over the US and its allies. Al-Megrahi stuck his finger in the eye of the Great Satan and lived to tell the story — and made it back home to a hero’s welcome to boot. It didn’t matter that through his actions that 270 people died over and in the quiet hamlet of Lockerbie, Scotland on December 21, 1988. They were just collateral damage in a much larger, irrational jihad against the Western world.

So now, in order to stem the impending November election blowback, our newly diligent administration wants to raise their objections a little more strenuously than they did last August. US citizens, many may voters, are FURIOUS that Al-Megrahi was released and this situation portends to be yet another reason to “inoculate” the US from Obama’s failed policies. The Obama brain trust knows this…and there’s little they can do except negotiate with Libya. But these negotiations are from a position of weakness (after all, Al-Megrahi is home now) and the Libyan government can drag its feet for a good long time.

If I were in Obama’s shoes, I’d consider sending special-ops Ninjas into Libya and put Al-Megrahi out of his misery. Perhaps they could explain his untimely demise as a bad case of the “Tripoli flu.”

But in the mean time, we’re going to be stuck on wimpy…negotiating with craven murderers who would just as soon provide our citizens with a Lockerbie a day if they had the resources to do so. Now is not the time for theoretical and the measured diplomacy, it’s time for bare knuckles and blunt trauma.

It’s time for action. It’s time for justice.

Students of the US Declaration of independence will recognize the following quotation:

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.

This quote contains the seminal notion among our founding documents regarding the relationship between the individual and the government. However, it is often misunderstood and the ultimate meaning of these words is often twisted to a different meaning by contemporary politicians.

The key idea of the “endowment” quote is that all men are created equal, and that if they are provided the essentials of life, liberty and the ability to pursue happiness, they may achieve great things. The operative word in that sentence is may. Unfortunately for us all, we have a government and a majority of legislators that constantly insist all men are equal beyond their creation, regardless of their initiative and achievements. In other words, the government has falsely endowed all men and women with unconditional equality.

This is a noble thought, but it is certainly not the concept of equality that the Founders had intended.

Certainly all men are valuable in the eyes of God, but are we all necessarily equal? Do we humans live in a world that is immune to or devoid of natural laws, such as natural selection? In our daily lives we sense for ourselves the inequities between individuals: Some are better politicians (brown-nosers or ass kissers); some are superb athletes; some are talented musicians; some are otherworldly artistic; some are scientific geniuses; and some are financial wizards. And on and on. See, all people have differing abilities that they may exploit, and as such we are not all equal when we reach the ends of our lives. Simply put, some people are more successful or more talented or just plain luckier than others. This difference doesn’t make them better, it just makes them unequal as compared to their peers. (And if we bring in the concepts of lawlessness and crime, then we may observe even greater inequities among men.)

Now, we can dispute this fact or try to legislate fairness…by treating all individuals in an egalitarian manner regardless of their effort in their life or the success that they have achieved. And our legislators can try to impose a false equity with taxes or restrictions on the successful, because it is good politics (as well as lucrative politics) to decry “the rich” and to foster and encourage class envy and warfare. But this is a self-defeating ideology, as it encourages laziness and it robs individuals from their will to succeed. After all, is it likely that a person who is provided a living, after expending as little effort as possible (sometimes the only exertion required is the right vote), will strive to pursue something better?

Well, experience with human nature tell us “NO!” People become inured to this existence, and they come to expect being taken care of — even though the lifestyle that they have can be considered austere. Politicians know this fact and they capitalize and exploit this human frailty. So, what happens is that we have legion individuals willing to trade some of their rights and liberties in order to “be taken care of” by the government. It is a sad fact, but unfortunately true.

And guess what happens? This situation of government-individual co-dependence further enhances the inequity between those who have the will to achieve (and succeed) and those who do not. Rather than a path to an egalitarian paradise, it is a road to serfdom and slavery. The individual is now beholding to the government and dependent upon the “generosity” of the politician.

And this is the rub where the true equity in our society has been co-opted by politicians — the equality of our vote. By encouraging class envy and inflating class differences, politician can create special interest voting blocs that they then may use to neutralize the votes of others. The votes of a smaller number of successful citizens may be swamped by those of a larger group of have-nots, thus creating a tacit inequity. So, the will of the majority have nots may be used to plunder the fruits of success from the haves. This is a sinful, ugly technique used by greedy and sinful politicians whose goals are not equality and “fairness” but rather life-long political power.

But none of what I’ve written should be a surprise to an observer of history and human nature. People are people, and they will exploit whatever circumstances that they are provided with. If that means wealth redistribution through the force of law, then so be it. If it means electing monarchical politicians time and time again, then so be it. If it means putting up with a loss of some liberties and freedoms, well everyone has their price.

I hope that the Tea Party movement restores for many the almost lost concepts of personal achievement and success. American is not and cannot be a great country, a country loyal to the intentions of the Founders, if we choose the mediocrity of government co-dependence. There was a time in the not-too-distant past when individuals of all abilities and classes called out quite loudly for the government to get the hell out of the way and let them take care of themselves. Some called this “pioneer spirit” but I like to think of it as the indomitable part of the human spirit that just wants to live life to its fullest and then let the chips fall where they may.

Please join me in watching for falling chips. Regardless of the outcome, they are far better than the humiliating scraps that will be flung at us by an intemperate government.

After considerable thinking on the subject I have finally formulated in my mind what has happened to our country. Over the past centuries, decades and years since the Constitution was ratified in 1789, the citizens of America have slowly but surely traded their guaranteed rights and liberties as represented by THAT Constitution and have replaced them with an invisible, pernicious set of new rights as represented by the present laws of the United States and not necessarily the Constitution as it stands today.

What do I mean by this and how did it happen?

What I mean by this is that words mean something. And so does intent. We have the actual words written in the Constitution as our guide to what our government may or may no do when representing our interests as a nation. In fact, these words were written quite plainly such that an average American citizen in the 18th century could understand and internalize the content and the intent of this document. There was no interpretation necessary: No lawyers were required to explain their rights and liberties to the citizens of the new nation. They were all in plain view and all citizens, from elected representative to field workers, had a common understanding of their meaning and intent.

The Law

Over time, however, it became clear that divining the meaning of the Constitution and furthermore transmitting its meaning to the hoi polloi was highfalutin business, and certainly not within the scope of intelligent or cognition of the average Joe citizen. On the Constitutional level, because there were so many opportunities for legal and political hijinx, we apparently needed legal scholars, steeped in the precedents and traditions of American law. Gradually, the Constitution itself began to take a back seat to the subordinate laws allegedly written to support it. Immense legal weight was and is given to “settled law,” even though the under-girding of these settled cases may be flimsy or possess the most fragile constitutionality. Law schools began to teach the importance of case law rather than focus on strict constitutionality. So instead of being the subject of the curriculum, Constitutional law and compliance became seminar topics in curricula dominated by case and tort law. Unfortunately in many law schools, including those in the rarefied air of the Ivy League, the Constitution has become a mere footnote when training our nation’s lawyers.

And with regards to the law and the Constitution, something more insipid has occurred. With every interpretation or mis-interpretation of what the Constitution “allows” our elected representative to create as laws of the land, the system maddeningly and chillingly adds layer-upon-layer of complexity upon our original Constitutional rights. The federal government now has rule after rule, dictate after dictate, mandate after mandate, regulation after regulation — you get the picture, that weighs upon the ability of the average American enjoy their life and liberty, or to ultimately pursue happiness.

But what does the legal system have to do with citizens anyway? In the end, the citizenry are supposed to toe the line and obey the dictates of the government, bolstered by the laws that our “representatives” have put in place. Right? First and foremost, we are supposed to be a nation of laws and not men — at least as posited by John Adams. But in a seminal sense, we are a nation of Constitutional liberties and freedoms, which cannot be superseded and subordinated by well-intentioned laws. But indeed this subordination has consistently happened over time. Sometimes for very good reasons, like truncating the freedom of speech to exclude crying “Fire” in a crowded theater, but most of the time it has been done for sinful and self-serving reasons by corrupt and contemptible legislators. Or even worse, determined as the intent of the Constitution using beneficial penumbras and the favorable interpretations of words and clauses by Supreme Court justices who were more ideological politically than they were loyal to the original intent of the document.

Making matters worse its that the Constitution was intended to be a user friendly document…as was supposed to be the nation it provides the operating framework for. The Framers never intended this to be a nation of law givers and law receivers — the rulers and the governed. No, the Constitution used simple, non-legalistic prose to convey its intent and its message to citizens and representatives alike. But again, with the passage of time American citizens have allowed a corruption of both the original intent and the process of governance to occur.

Our government and our society now supports a legal caste system when it comes to the Constitution and to the law. As individuals, the law is completely out of our hands. Ours is not to reason why, ours is but to submit or suffer the consequences! The laws, and their prospective constitutionality, are now in the retinue of high priests and priestesses of a new religious sect. A sect complete with rites and rules and regulations, and secret handshakes if you will, and with impenetrable powers with regards to the laws and the true (and often hidden) meaning of the Constitution. Our law givers have in essence become much like the fire bearers in ancient societies: Functionaries instilled with great responsibilities and importance in our society.

The Congress and the “Governed”

All the while that the legal system was being configured as an ersatz religion, our Congress was being co-opted and configured as a place where the average Joe citizen is unwelcome. It’s almost as if a sign were placed on the Rotunda that says “Citizens need not apply.” This sense of exclusion is anathema to what the Founders intended for the composition of the Congress. From the very beginning of our country, the Congress was intend to be the representative body where citizen-legislators of all occupations could participate. The Constitution makes no exclusions or allowances for the nature or situation of the representatives that each state may send to this body. Yet again, time coupled with corruption have made it difficult for an average citizen to be elected to the House of Representatives or nearly impossible to be elected to the Senate. We have now replaced traits like horse sense and virtue with Ivy League educations, past legislative “experience” and political connections. Couple these new determinants of suitability to the representation task with the fact that it takes a plump campaign war chest to overcome the inertia of a candidate deeply embedded into the two party political system, and you have a dire situation indeed for the average citizen who wants to honorably serve their fellow Americans.

The fact that there exists two political parties is also an unfortunate vestige of past bad practices in our government. The fact that these parties have come to dominate, no rule, our political lives is now accepted as the de facto way that things are done. But what role should parties play in the governance of our nation, given the fact that the Constitution does not mention such political allegiances? How can the real issues and real concerns of the average American be considered in a political process that has been configured for a fight? We now have a Congress that has been Balkanized as a result of these two parties. Primacy of one political philosophy has come to rule the day, and our republic. We now live and fully accept the concepts of majority and minority party rule: Democrat versus Republican. Sure there are so-called minor parties like Libertarians and the nascent Tea Party, but they trail far behind in regards to the political infrastructure, control and most importantly money that the two larger parties can muster and bring to bear.

And certainly making things worse in government is that “representation” has become all about money — all about perks that the government can provide to the citizenry, or more accurately to special constituencies in the citizenry guaranteed to provide generous legislators continued support and grateful votes in the next election. Once upon a time, at least as envisioned by the Founders, our representatives we supposed to, well, represent us…speak for our interests and advocate for our concerns as citizens of an individual state in the Union. Today, we hear a lot of talk about the “consent of the governed” and “doing what’s in the best interests of the citizens” and the “need to govern” being bandied about by our legislative betters. And this is another problem where our representatives have slowly become a select group who governs us. Again, this concept of governance is in direct conflict with the intent of the Constitution. Elected representatives do not govern those whom they represent, they are true advocates and above all they are acolytes of the Constitution. Or at least they’re supposed to be. In a strict Constitutional sense, they should listen to the concerns of their electorate and then voice these concerns to the remainder of the representatives in the Congress and take legislative action if absolutely necessary. Legislation should be used as a scalpel, not as a bludgeon.

But the emphasis on money and entitlements has separated the elected “representative” away from those he purports to represent. Advocacy for the electorate has been replaced by zealotry for the poor, the displaced or other sympathetic constituencies. The new advocacy for the manifold special interests groups in society has become big political business, and an incumbent or a candidate for elective office cannot expect to be (re-)elected without support for these constituencies, even though it may be to the detriment of the vast majority of the people who are supposed to be represented. With this situation, Americans have allowed themselves to essentially be “killed with kindness,” and the result is unsustainable budget deficits and mounting debt that will, unfortunately, never be paid off.

And, worse still, lawyers and the “lawyerly” class have infested our Congress. Roughly one-third of our representatives in the Congress are lawyers. Now considering that 62% of the members of the Constitutional Congress were lawyers, one might not think our modern-day proportion is not so bad. But no fair comparison may be made between the individuals who “studied the law” in Colonial times with our present day bar. Simply put, our contemporary legal brethren are steeped in American case law, precedent and the fine art of skirting the system whereas their historical counterparts were trained in the finer aspects of British law. Colonial lawyers had no preconceived notions about Constitutional interpretation and American jurisprudence, because there weren’t any in existence at the time!

Anyway, back to the proportion of lawyers in our modern Congress. Lawyers make up approximately 0.4% of our population (around 1.5 million of the 310 million total) yet constitute around 33% of our modern Congress. One would expect that based on their proportions in the total population that lawyers would be few and far between in the Congress, yet almost one third of that august body is “skilled” in the law. Why? Because the business of representation has turned from advocacy and rights to legislating and governing. And who better to legislate than lawyers, the ultimate manipulators of law?

The presence of such a preponderance of lawyers serving as representatives has allowed the legislative process to be corrupted from one of service and concerned advocacy to one of conflict between the law givers and the governed.

The Ruling Class

Now that serving in Congress is less about being a true representative of the people than it is about crafting laws, and furthermore since our “representatives” have perfected the process of governance, we citizens now must endure what may be kindly termed a ruling class. The best description of this ruling class may be found in the essay “America’s Ruling Class — And the Perils of Revolution” byAngelo M. Codevilla in the July/August 2010 edition of the American Spectator. It is a long piece, but it is the most accurate analysis of the ascendancy and then primacy of our contemporary ruling class. As such, I’m not focusing on the hows and whys of why we have such as class, but the reason that it came to power and the method that it holds on to this power.

The reason the ruling class came to power is quite simple. Human nature coupled with human frailty, chiefly in the forms of gluttony, envy and greed, were exploited by the individuals who were fortunate enough to be elected. Obviously the situation existed (and still exists today) where there were legion people who had nothing and wanted something, as unfortunately hard work and and a luckless existence did not reward their efforts.  Enter the opportunistic elected representatives! Using a combination of audacity, trickery and legislative hocus pocus, the ruling class (augmented with complicit, appointed judges) started making socio-economic “investments” under the aegis of progressivism.

But these investments, investments for controlling future elections and enabling the primacy of a political ideology perhaps forever, required a willing citizenry to accept them. People being people took the bait, and they made the Hobson’s choice of goodies over a strict conformance to the Constitution. I guess it’s the ultimate confirmation of ‘it takes two to tango.’ And by allowing this craven manipulation to occur by their betters, we have insured that we will get more and more of this behavior in the future from the ruling class.

But the allowance of, then the ultimate endorsement of the ruling class (via our precious votes)  not only emboldened the ruling class into using the electorate as useful idiots,  it once again provided confirmation of a an observation attributed to an 18th century thinker. In 1721, Dr. Alexander Tytler was purported to have said:

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. The average age of the world’s greatest civilizations has been 200 years.

Prof. Tytler may or may not have actually said these words, but this quote must be considered with caution and we should proceed on our self-destructive path with great peril. Because like Dr. Tytler, the ruling class are excellent students of human nature and behavior. And because of this fact they are not likely to let up with their political philosophy, even though the future of our nation may be damaged through their efforts. See, the ruling class is also wealthier than the average Joe citizen through their exploitation of their privileged circumstances. So for them, who cares if the masses have to suffer economic or even political turmoil and upheaval? The ruling class is all but guaranteed to regain their footing regardless of the mess that they get the rest of us into.

The Future

If I were a betting man I would say that the die is already cast and that our future as a nation is dismal. Why? Because we have citizens who are reluctant to refuse entitlements, regardless of the form that they are offered to them in. Another reason for my pessimism is the pernicious and stubborn tenacity of the ruling class. As certain as there are suicide cults, we have among us a political sect hell-bent on implementing their ideology regardless of the outcome, positive or negative. And given the increasing size of the government debt, the ever-increasing budget deficits and regulatory throttles being unleashed upon free enterprise businesses, the outcome of the progressive ideology appears to be quite negative and ultimately most harmful to the nation.

Now understand that things can change for the better. If our representatives can exert some self-control, discipline and a modicum of responsibility — and more importantly, some absolute constitutional fealty and real leadership, we can emerge from our present circumstances in reasonable shape. But this will require corresponding sacrifice as well, but not just sacrifice from taxpayers and “the rich.” We have to embrace a new ethic as individuals understanding that the free ride is over. That entitlements are tolls on the road to perdition. That we have to show the same fiscal restraint in government as we must in our personal lives. To continue to remain a strong nation we cannot trade the future security of unborn generations of Americans for the political gain of the ruling class and the continuation of an underclass co-dependent with government.

These steps are almost impossibly difficult, but like the Hebrews of Moses’ time we have assured ourselves through our own sinful actions that we must wander in virtual desert, free from prosperity as a nation, for a good long time. Only after this cleansing with suffering may we return from the ranks of the governed into the renewed (and hopefully better appreciated) liberty of American citizenship. I’m convinced that time does heal all wounds and that because we are human, we need to have “our noses shoved in it” in order to change our behaviors and to form new opinions — particularly as things relate to politics.

We don’t have many choices left to us. Come November we can re-elect or elect Democrats who will maintain the majorities in the Congress, and buttress the utter madness that the agenda of President Obama has at its core. This would be the ultimate in self-destructive behavior. Or we can elect Republican candidates such that they can achieve majority status in one or both chambers of the Congress. This would effectively grind President Obama’s agenda to a screeching halt. It would be a welcomed half-time in a game where the progressive opponents have been running up the political score with great gusto. And maybe, just maybe, the election of Republicans would lead to the repudiation of Obama the man in 2012. This would be a highly desirable result, but nothing can be taken for granted in the fickle arena of national politics.

Finally, there is a third option, and I believe this is the option that could lead to our ultimate salvation as a nation. We can support, endorse and vote for candidates who are members of a third party. Call it what you will; Tea Party, Constitutionalists, Fiscal Conservatives, we desperately need a viable alternative to ‘None of the Above’ as a category to place our votes. But this new option must not be just a rejection or repudiation of Democrats and Republicans, it must be a real, clear choice that offers voters the promise of Constitutional adherence coupled with fiscal restraint. This option must not be a compromise, it must be an iron-clad guarantee that candidates from this party would not resort to abusing their legislative powers for personal political gain. And it would assure every voter that the Constitution would be respected as it should be, at least according to the oath of office taken by our alleged representatives:

I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.

Except that as members of this new party, they REALLY mean it.

Summary

Like no other time in the history of the United States of America does its citizens hold its future and its fate in their hands. Our actions, or correspondingly our inaction, will bear grave consequences on the future existence of our nation. It is up to us to show that we can steel ourselves to the choices that must be made and then make these choices, sacrificing our wants and needs, in favor of securing a viable future for our nation’s inheritors. The time is now, and history will either remember our generation for its courage and wisdom, or our progeny will curse us for our continued greed and selfishness.

The future is calling us, and it’s time to answer!

An odd title for this essay, but I think an apt one nonetheless. Today in 2010 America, the manner in which we’re being governed is not the way it is supposed to be. We have our leaders at the federal level constantly preaching the benefits of this or that legislation is for the “middle class” or “hardworking Americans”, and that to pay for this or that social scheme that “the rich” will have to bear more of the burden.

Now, maybe I’m just proving myself to be the dolt that a few of my detractors have labeled me, but my reading of the Constitution doesn’t give the president or the Congress any authority to hurt, help or otherwise claim dominion over “the people.” Rather, the Constitution is quite clear and specific as to who and what our elected federal representatives may or may not help. And in all cases, it is the STATES…or the collected assemblage of these states, our Republic. Not people, not individuals or not social classes. But what do I know, I rely on that quaint, outmoded technique called reading comprehension to determine my opinion on the facts placed before me.

How can I prove this? Well, Article I, Section 8 “Powers of Congress” does not mention once the word individual, person, citizen, human, etc. It refers to the powers of Congress in regards to the United States. Certainly the United States is comprised of individuals, but first and foremost it is comprised of 50 independent sovereign STATES. And what’s even more clear is that no such authority or powers over individuals exist for the president as well.

The simple fact is that the only entities with any authority over the people who inhabit them are the STATES. It is only when we get to Article VI “The States” that any authority is granted in regards to ‘Citizens’ and ‘Persons’ by the Constitution. And this authority is furthermore bolstered by the Tenth Amendment. Not the federal government, the STATES!

In my opinion what has happened since the dawn of the 20th century is that individual American STATES and citizens have been snookered and tricked, and in some cases bought off with federal “entitlements”, into allowing an extra-Constitutional intrusion into our individual lives on the part of the federal government. By the rights proscribed to it by the Constitution, the Congress has no power to enact laws regarding health care, education, social programs, jobs, entitlements, etc. as they pertain to an individual citizen. They may only do these things as they pertain to the 50 states in our Union. We have allowed OUR laws to be Shanghaied by the ‘lawyerly’ class and even worse, we have allowed an almost religious sect be formed regarding the Constitution and the laws of our land. We have fostered a situation where there are law-givers and law interpreters, but the PEOPLE bear no place in the process except to obey these laws once they are thrust upon us.

But this is a gross perversion of the intent of the Founders. They wanted the United States to be a user friendly social compact. They didn’t intend to replace an all-powerful monarch, selected by heredity, with another similarly powerful monarchy, selected by our votes. But that’s precisely what has happened. Somehow, we individual citizens have let our collective guard down and have allowed our betters to interpret OUR laws using the vaguest of vague penumbral interpretations and readings. We have allowed two words in the Article I, Section 8 — “Welfare” and “Commerce” to be the ticket to legislative tyranny not seen in this country since the reign of King George.

The saddest part of all is that WE have allowed this to happen, for whatever reason. Millions of people don’t vote, millions vote for personal gain or benefit (or shall I say entitlement?), and millions more vote because they are told to do so and for whom (and perhaps million more vote who are prohibited, like felons and the dead!) And even worse, we are discouraged from discussing the Constitution in an informed manner because our educational system refuses to place much value in us being Constitutionally aware. No, our Constitutional awareness and discourse has been transmogrified into political party bickering and trying to obtain primacy over the goody giving that has become the raison d’etre of the federal government.

So for me, it’s not just enough to throw the bums out. Our problems run deeper than the group of 540 or so individuals who make up our elected federal representatives. No, our problems are systemic and run much deeper and thus need stronger medicine than a mere change of faces. Unfortunately, the change needs to occur in each of us, or in a majority of the voters who turn out each election. We need to place more emphasis and value in those individuals who promise us less, but similarly promise to hold dear and faithfully observe each provision as written in the Constitution. Until we get this tacit fealty, we are doomed. There is just no other way to express it.

But I’m also a realist, as I fear we’ve reached the tipping point in our society where more people obtain benefit from their vote — so why not vote for an utterly anti-Constitutional candidate regardless of the overall impact to our nation? We may have already entered into that democratic suicide pact with our government that cannot be stopped no more than a runaway train may be.

Unfortunately once we’ve reached that tipping point, there is exactly ZERO remaining chance that we can regain a solid Constitutional footing in the operation of our federal government. Let’s face it, only a fool would vote to slaughter and barbecue their cash cow! So, the only thing left that we can do is hold on tight and try not to be too negatively affected by the wild ride to wherever our situation as a country eventually takes us. Perhaps at some point it becomes every man and woman for themselves. Who knows?

Happy landings…

Our contemporary Congress has found it necessary to legislate with frequency and volume…using its power to enact law-after-law that are mind numbingly complicated and comprised of so many pages and so many words. Prime examples of this are Obamacare (2700+ pages), the Dodd-Frank “Financial Reform Act” (2300+) and the Waxman-Markey “Cap-and-Tax” Bill (1400+ pages). The length and the surprising intrusion of these proposed and enacted laws into almost every facet of our daily lives got me to wondering how many pages and how many words the seminal document of our citizenship, the US Constitution, is. So, in order to find out the approximate size, I cut and paste the text of the Constitution along with the Bill of Rights and the Amendments into Microsoft Word. I then formatted the document to double space to approximate the look of modern legislative documents…and I had Word count the number of words in the Constitution.

I came up with 38 pages and 8,645 words. Now certainly all these words weren’t put to paper by the Founders…their work was less by probably a third. But I’m awestruck that this noble and inspired document gets its point across, even with amendments, with such brevity and an economy of words. Our rights as freeborn citizens and the the (what was supposed to be limited) role of the government are defined in just thirty-eight short pages!

Juxtapose this brevity with the verbose and grandiose legislative prose of our contemporary representatives. These idiots use thousands of pages to abridge, limit or greatly infringe on our rights that were codified by the Founders in a little over three dozen pages. It makes me wonder why modern legislation is so excessive.

I hope to God it makes YOU wonder too.

In the mid 1950′s, during perhaps the zenith of cold war tensions, the US government sought a means for demonstrating to the world our nation’s supremacy in technological achievement. At that time there was an urgency to get a man into space, which was considered the next frontier of human scientific exploration. Making this mission to space all the more urgent was our Cold War political and technological rivalry with the Soviet Union. So out of this urgency, and created as a means for the exploration of space and the advancement of aeronautics, was created NASA – the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

The history of NASA is quite clear, and I won’t spend any time rehashing the long, storied and successful past of this organization other than to say that they put a man on the moon (fulfilling President Kennedy’s dream and challenge to do so), they made orbital space flight and almost routine endeavor, and they made possible the exploration of the cosmos (with, for example, the Hubble Space Telescope and numerous unmanned probes to the planets and beyond.) The mostly distinguished record of NASA is largely unassailable as an exemplar of man’s cooperative pursuit of science and achievement.

However, with recent statements made by NASA administrator Charles Bolden, the future mission and potential accomplishments of NASA must be called into question. In an interview with Al Jazeera, Mr. Bolden said the following:

“When I became the NASA administrator — or before I became the NASA administrator — he charged me with three things. One was he wanted me to help re-inspire children to want to get into science and math, he wanted me to expand our international relationships, and third, and perhaps foremost, he wanted me to find a way to reach out to the Muslim world and engage much more with dominantly Muslim nations to help them feel good about their historic contribution to science … and math and engineering…”

These three “things” are a fine mission for the the educational or foreign services arms of our government, but how do they bolster and support any aeronautical or space activities at the present time? In a nutshell, they do not! This is unfortunately PC crazy talk. I can understand that inspiring children to pursue math and sciences is a noble priority — we need young, engaged minds to train as tomorrow’s scientific leaders. However this should be done through the accomplishment of SOMETHING. Nothing inspires young minds like accomplishments, whether it be home run records, best selling songs, or the piloting of the world’s fastest aircraft. One cannot dredge up inspiration out of best wishes and butterfly kisses.

Expanding international relationships is not a traditional NASA task, unless it is performed under the aegis of in-space or scientific cooperation as demonstrated by the ISS (International Space Station.) However, this notion of relationships must be linked closely with scientific endeavors with specific goals and milestones…and not just a blanket feel good statement. Again, a pathway to accomplishment and achievement would provide the perfect framework for successful international cooperation.

As for Bolden’s third, and in his words “foremost” mission to reach out to dominantly Muslim nations and help them “feel” good about their contributions to the sciences, this is pure and unadulterated nonsense. It is politically-correct inanity raised to the power of madness. What would be the goal of such an outreach? Jihad in space? Sharia law on the moon? The naming of the “Great Satan” nebula by distinguished Islamic scholar? To borrow from Ebeneezer Scrooge — “Bah, Humbug!” This “mission” has NOTHING to do with space exploration, space travel or the advance of our understanding of aeronautics and science. It represents the worst of a flawed new-age liberal mindset where we can somehow convert the world to a 1970′s Coca Cola commercial, with all the inhabitants of the world singing “Kumbayah” with locked arms. It is foofarall and nonsense…and is an indication of just how deeply in trouble we are as a nation vis-à-vis our leadership. Or, by all indications, the lack thereof.

Yet, here we are in 2010, a time when the dreams of former star-struck children from the 50′s, 60′s, 70′s and 80′s should be coming to fruition as viable space programs. But this is a time when the NASA budget has been cut, key missions (like returning a man to the moon and the manned mission to Mars) have been canceled or greatly curtailed out of political expediency and a lack of scientific zeal at the uppermost levels of our government. And NASA is then given this grand “mission”…a slap in the face to men and women of pure science. An insipid mission that not only contradicts the vision and spirit of accomplishment of past missions and past administrations, but one that chafes at the sensibilities of most thinking Americans who, by the way, have to pay for this foolishness.

This is yet another example of how refreshing it will be to have a real change in administration in Washington in 2012.Perhaps we will be served by adults with authentic feelings and appreciation for America’s traditional values and exceptionalism as nation. Perhaps we’ll put this four year experiment in “change” for change’s sake behind us…and admit our failure to be more vigilant of our precious votes as a nation. This us unlikely to happen, but it would be refreshing.

Because right now, as this essay is being typed, the “mission” of our crown jewel in national technological achievement has been changed from pure science to political science. And when politics is brought into the equation, only bad things will come as a result. So, goodbye National Aeronautics and Space Administration and hello No Americans (in) Space Anymore.

I’m sure that millions of American schoolchildren will be suitably “inspired.”

The Fourth of July, or as it alternatively known Independence Day. The day our nation put their collective feet down in the latter part of the 18th century to defy a tyrannical monarch and declare that the citizens heretofore were a special breed indeed. We let King George and the rest of the world know that our embryonic nation was a place where freeborn men were endowed with unalienable rights by our Creator, and by no one else. And, rather than serve an autocratic monarchy, we the people would form the government that would lead us with just representation for every citizen.

All in all, a pretty heady concept for the time…and the Founders, I believe, were divinely inspired to first put the words of their intentions to paper in the form of the Declaration of Independence and then codify our rights as freeborn men and women in the Constitution. They were further inspirational to us all by putting their lives and liberties on the line and fighting for their noble endeavor. And the fact that they ultimately won and broke away from British rule against the staggering odds arrayed against them was yet another example of divine Providence and their dogged belief in their cause.

The Founders and their generation left us subsequent Americans with something truly worth fighting for, and in the far-flung conflicts in the interceding years until even today, men and women have sacrificed themselves for a truly noble, higher cause. They gave their lives and many gave their healthy bodies to help secure our collective liberty and to defend the Constitution. But they did not make this sacrifice for the government or the Congress or the manifold unjust and self-serving laws that have been enacted over the years. And the Founders did not leave us a birthright, paid for with their blood and treasure, so that our representatives and our government could squander the fruits of our industry, and replace an autocratic 18th century monarch with a modern all-powerful congress and president.

But, unfortunately, that’s what has happened. We can look back in history at the progression of political events that have slowly yet inexorably veered us off the course of a strict Constitutional nation. Our nation has embraced a lassiez faire attitude regarding our individual roles in our government. We have abdicated our responsibility to be good citizens and we have cast off our Constitutional duties to the very representatives we elect to serve us. The result is that over time, we have assumed a lesser role in serving as the watchdogs of our freedoms and liberties. And, our elected representatives have assumed a greater role and the attendant power to determine what our rights and liberties are. In essence, by laziness or lack of vigilance we have allowed the original intent of the Constitution to be turned on it’s head. We have, in essence, crowned a re-electable monarchy!

Statistics tell us that modern Americans eschew the very act that our Founders bought for us with blood and bullets. Pundits hail an outstanding election when more than 30% of eligible voters turn out to vote. This is considered a “success.” I consider it a tragedy, a travesty and a slap to the face of the spirits of all the men and women who have given their lives for each of us to make a mark on a ballot to signify our free-willed choice. Again, whether due to laziness, apathy or disengagement, most of us have made the choice to neglect and abandon our Constitutional responsibilities. But as sure as the sun rises, I assure you that you cannot entrust anyone else to watch over your rights and liberties for you. Much as you cannot trust someone else with your credit card or checkbook. And, in case you haven’t figured it out for yourself, your Constitutional rights and liberties are far more valuable than mere money.

So, what are we able to divine from the lack of engagement of the average American citizen in regards to their ultimate Constitutional responsibilities? If the majority of modern Americans don’t want to participate in our continued social experiment as a nation of freeborn citizens with the right of self determination, why do we even bother celebrating the Fourth of July. Perhaps for many, this holiday is celebrated for the day off from work, the barbecues and the fireworks. And if it is celebrated for those reasons alone, it is a hollow celebration indeed.

I ask again, why do we even celebrate July 4th any more? In my mind it’s because of a spirit of hope and optimism for the future.  Our Constitution is such a powerful document that we are able to survive and somewhat prosper even when so vast a segment of our nation’s citizens  chose to be disengaged from the process of governance (except to bitch and moan!) However I believe that as Americans, we are inculcated and instilled with freedom and liberty in the marrow of our bones. We have plenty of worldwide examples of tyranny that we can use to compare our nation against. Is America perfect? Certainly not. Will we American citizens recognize the flaws and the deviations from Constitutional behavior and correct them? Given time, I believe that Americans will realize just what is at stake for each of them and they will answer the call to correct the problems and readjust our national focus to one that the Founder’s would approve of. We can see this spirit of the Founders in the grassroots Tea Party efforts, and we can hope that the self-serving and the monarchical in our government will be replaced with the righteous.

I will celebrate this 4th of July with the hope that I can help effect change with my voice and with my words. I want to be able some day to face my God and the Founders and say that I gave a damn about the nation that they left me…and that I wanted to leave a nation worthy of inheritance to future generations. I want to be able to say that I had absolute fealty to the Constitution and its values, and that I lived my life as a proud American.

If I can achieve more than that in my life, when it’s my time, I will certainly die a happy man.

Happy Fourth of July!!!!

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