For too many reasons to explain, the year 2010 has been a lousy year for me and my family. So I say, good riddance as the New Year’s hour approaches.
Life certainly has its ups and its downs. I will not remember 2010 fondly, as it has been a definite downer, and a year that delivered pain, grief and loss in almost unbearable doses.
Good riddance, 2010. Welcome 2011! Happy New Year to everyone! May it bring peace, good health, prosperity, joy and contentment to you all. I pray for a year that provides a respite from all the bad things that the real world can throw at us, and my family in particular.
May God bless you and your families!
P.S.: I promise to be a more diligent essayist in the coming year. I’ve got something to say, a forum to say it (until the FCC regulates me out of existence) and people willing to read/listen to my opinions. I thank God that I am afforded this opportunity, and I will certainly exploit this in the days, weeks and months to come. Also, please look for my occasional essays at The American Thinker (www.americanthinker.com.) I have been truly fortunate to have had several of my essays published there. AGPM
For the past seven decades or so, the three branches of the United States government have participated in the wholesale circumvention of the original intent of the Constitution. Worse, this circumvention is performed by the same people who have sworn themselves to uphold the document. The Congress often makes laws that have no (readily visible) constitutional basis. The president uses executive orders to control the behaviors and lives of the American people – an authority that finds no place in the Constitution. And the Supreme Court makes rulings based on foreign laws, unconstitutional precedents and according to “the way things ought to be.” As a result of these previous actions, our government is now run according to a ‘hidden’ Constitution – one that is not readily apparent to the owners of this document, the American people.
Our elected officials are preoccupied with authority that is beyond what is allowed to them in the Constitution; At least as the document is written in plain English and according to the will of the Founders. Let’s take a recent example of what may be termed extra-constitutional authority assumed by the Congress – the so-called child nutrition bill. This bill, when signed into law as expected by President Obama, will give the Agriculture Department sweeping new powers over the foods that may be served to children at schools, and authorizes the funds to provide after-school meals for children. Who doesn’t care about the wellbeing of kids? But whether they eat or not, or what they eat, should not the concern of the federal government. It is the responsibility of the parents. Or at least it used to be. Article I, Section 8 (AIS8) of the Constitution enumerates the powers of the Congress. Nowhere is written the authority of the Congress to mandate child nutrition programs. However, our representatives cite this power as outlined in the welfare clause…or it that doesn’t suffice, then in the similarly malleable commerce clause.
But if we take a look at these two constitutional passages, we can see the vagueness of these claims (of authority) and the sweeping power that Congress may assume by exploiting the meanings of just two words – welfare and commerce. The welfare clause states:
The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States; but all Duties, Imposts and Excises shall be uniform throughout the United States;
The commerce clause states:
To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes;
Note that in both instances, the welfare that the Congress is charged with looking after is that of the United States: That is, the collection of the various states in the Union. Not the welfare of the individual citizens of the United States. Similarly, the commerce that the Congress is charged with regulating is that among the (several) States, and, again, not for regulating the commerce of individual citizens. The Founders were quite precise in their words and their intent – if they had meant “people” in either of those clauses, you can be sure that that word would have been used. Also, if the Founders had intended the Congress to be assigned infinite powers then there would be no need for the limited, enumerated powers in AIS8, or the 10th Amendment, as the assumed infinite powers of the Congress render this Amendment moot.
But here we are in the year 2010 with a long history of congressional misuse of their powers, codified by many Supreme Court decisions in favor of these vast, hidden powers. We cannot know what the true extent of these powers means for future legislation, because based on previous abuses the Congress has become emboldened to interpret these two words to connote whatever it takes to pass the legislation at hand. This is a dangerous situation, and should give pause to any citizen concerned for their constitutional rights and liberties.
Extra-constitutional abuses don’t begin and end with the Congress. Presidents have used executive orders to exercise authority over a wide range of national issues and matters since the early 1900’s. Supporters of a president’s executive order authority will point to Article II, Sections 3 and 4 as granting this authority. However, a careful reading of these two passages grants very limited powers and authorities to the president, including that “…he shall take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed….” Certainly the words written in the Constitution do not give any president sweeping powers over the lives and livelihoods of individual American citizens or businesses.
Take for example the recent executive order by President Obama to ban oil drilling in the waters of the eastern Gulf of Mexico. President Obama’s action begs the question: Is the president allowed, via the Constitution, to enact a ban on oil drilling without predicate legislation from Congress that precisely authorizes such an action? Any person reviewing Article II in the Constitution would be hard pressed to find few authorities that are assigned to the president beyond implementing and enforcing existing laws that Congress has enacted, appointing Supreme Court justices, selecting cabinet members and negotiating treaties.
So, here is another case of extra-constitutional abuse of power by the office of the presidency. However issuing executive orders is not new to the presidency of Barack Obama. Historically, there have been over 7,300 executive orders from the FDR administration to the present. Unfortunately, these have been 7,300 opportunities for presidents to negatively affect individuals and businesses, unencumbered by the restraints of the law and the Constitution. Also, quite unfortunately, there has been little outrage or action from the Congress or the SCOTUS, or any show of concern whatsoever from the American people.
Making matters worse, our nation has a Supreme Court (SCOTUS) that has, historically, not been reluctant to either ignore the actual words and intent of the Constitution or ascribe the document meaning that simply does not exist in ink on paper. Couple this with the very real and unchecked ability of the highest court to legislate from the bench, and a recipe for Constitutional abuse and chaos exists. A prime example of this misuse of high judicial power is the matter of the interpretation of the First Amendment to the Constitution. This 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.
Inexplicably, in several high court decisions, this Amendment has been interpreted in such a manner that any Christian religious display, such as a Christmas crèche or even a secular symbol of the Christmas holiday, the Christmas tree, may not be displayed on public property in order to achieve and preserve a “separation of Church and State,” or worse, to offend anyone. However, the words separation, church and state (or offend) simply do not appear in the 1st Amendment. Better stated, they do not exist except as a legal construct in the minds of the majority of once-seated Supreme Court justices. This wrong-headed judicial interpretation of the actual words and intent of the Constitution has the force of law – usurping the actual written words of the Constitution and the intent of the Founders.
But the extra-constitutional influence by the SCOTUS to the Constitution does not stop at the so-called establishment clause. Another recent, egregious example of past SCOTUS perfidy is the now-infamous Kelo vs. New London eminent domain lawsuit from 2005 in which the SCOTUS redefined the meaning and stretched the limits of eminent domain laws in the United States. The Kelo decision affirmed past SCOTUS rulings from the 1830’s that allowed the taking of one person’s private land to benefit another person…”as a matter of public use” as permissible according to the Fifth Amendment:
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.
Kelo and the past SCOTUS rulings have eroded our precious property rights to the point where our property may be taken in order to satisfy the profit-making aspirations of another private citizen. How can “just compensation” be afforded to one party if the government intercedes on behalf of another private party for an alleged “public good?”
So the question remains, how far may the Constitution be stretched before it is irrevocably broken? Similarly, how far must the average American citizen’s patience be stretched by this process before it also reaches the breaking point? Most of us believe that our rights and liberties come from God, and that a government of, for and by people is a necessary evil in order to protect these rights from all those who would infringe or abolish them. But how do we rein in a government that is not beholding to the Constitution as its immutable frame of reference? After all, we are presented or faced with example after example of laws, actions and decisions that fly directly in the face (and intent) of the Constitution, and little is done to decry or otherwise challenge each constitutional insult with little more than a shrug of the shoulders and a sigh of resignation.
Unfortunately, the manipulation of the people’s Constitution by any of our three branches of government has become an accepted practice, legal dogma and government modus operandi. We have come to expect and are inured to conservative (i.e. true to the letter) or liberal (more specious or broadly-defined) interpretation, reading and observance of the Constitution by the majority of those who hold office, depending upon their political ideology. However, with our silent assent to this practice, we have allowed for the existence of a phantom, but very powerful “hidden” Constitution that does not physically exist anywhere. This phantom Constitution only exists as un-ratified footnotes in case law precedent, and represents our past and present abandonment of personal constitutional vigilance, as well as our utter lack of action to prevent these (what I propose are) constitutional affronts.
And through our past and present feckless silence we have unwittingly ceded hard-won personal freedoms and liberties that we will never, ever regain; and I am sure that future Americans will certainly and righteously curse our damnable civic neglect.
In a preview of a PARADE magazine interview with Oprah Winfrey released today, several of the questions asked of Ms. Winfrey were published. One of the topics she was asked about was “whether the thought of (Sarah) Palin’s running for office scares her, (to which) Oprah said: “It does not scare me because I believe in the intelligence of the American public.”"
Oh…she believes in the intelligence of the American people to do what? To re-elect an incompetent — a Dolt-In-Chief like our august President Oh-blah-blah. So, let me get this straight…the American voting public is intelligent when they vote for a race-baiting poseur, but they are scary dumb if they consider voting for former Governor Palin?
Oprah is just another shrill diva unashamedly singing ever-so-loudly in our 24/7 American Idiot’s Opera (or is that Oprah?)!!!
It’s official. Scott Brown has transformed from the darling of the few Republicans in Massachusetts to a full-fledged pink RINO. Now all we need is that “I didn’t leave the Republican party, the Republican party left me” Arlen Specter moment and his transformation will be complete. Sure, Brown promised to be an “independent thinker” during his campaign against “Marsha” Coakley, but who would have expected him to cede his thinking to the Democrat caucus in the Senate?
I supported Brown last year. In fact I made contributions to his campaign and held signs for hours in the freezing cold on voting day last January. At that time the future held so much promise, and it looked like ‘Brown 41′ could have made a great impact on the direction of the country, and have had a moderating influence on this congressional lame duck session. Well, experience has shown not so much. Now, our future, at least for Republicans in Massachusetts, looks like the legislative dealings of the RINO twins (Snowe and Collins) from Maine. So far, Brown has done nothing but capitulate on the important issues confronting the Senate, and he has helped to sabotage the unified front of opposition that was required to put a stop to the runaway lame duck session. The latest, and most unforgivable capitulation, is his support and vote for Obama’s START Treaty folly. Unfortunately, your actions of this week regarding the military have traded our strategic and nuclear weapons for a difficult-if-not-impossible social system to implement in the military with your support for the repeal of DADT.
Well Sen. Brown. I’m a supporter of you no more. There is nothing you can do in the future to redeem yourself in my eyes, short of announcing you will not run for re-election in 2012 (that is definitely something I CAN support you on.) Because in 2012 I will not be supporting YOU. If you do not have a credible Republican primary challenger, I will use my vote for a safe bet from my perspective: I’ll be selecting “None Of The Above.” I can’t vote for a Democrat…and I can’t vote for you. So I’ll choose the only viable option left to me when I exercise my right to vote.