Tag Archives: Constitutional law

Republican Government

Article Four, Section 4 of the Constitution reads in part as follows  “The United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a Republican Form of Government,…”.  Just a little known and rarely discussed provision in the document.  I have searched and can’t  find any extensive exposition of that section in the Federalist Papers and only a brief passing reference once by Lincoln.  In those very brief comments the thrust is such provision would relate to domestic insurrection or disturbance.

I have not done any new legal research, after all I am a man of leisure these days and above such mundane requirements.  But I do recall from my Con Law class there was only one case I remember that concerned this provision.  Maybe there were fifty but I don’t think so.   In fact would bet real money on that.  There was a case that arose from some challenge to the Nebraska legislative scheme.  It has a unicameral legislative system.  Someone was unhappy about that and took it to court.  I do not recall if the case made it to the Supremes.  But that doesn’t really matter in the grand view of things.  The Federal judiciary essentially punted on the case.  It did uphold the Nebraska form of government but did not chart out the requirements for republican governmental form as they so often do.  They made clear that the State legislatures would have great latitude in the establishment of their ruling legislative bodies.  The case assumed there was a functioning State government.

But with recent events in Seattle and Portland one should have pause about the invocation of this provision by the Federal government.  It would not be hard to imagine officials or ordinary joes calling on the Feds to “restore” order.   They could quite reasonably allege that the rule of law had collapsed and that the mob was ruling the day and that the citizens no longer had a Republican form of government.  It is not a stretch to imagine legislators or Governors being physically intimated or threatened by the mob and thereby thwarting the normal functioning of Government.  You might have a Governor who decides for personal safety or political calculation that it is best to join the mob and rule by executive order (decree) and dismiss the legislators.  History is replete with such occurrences so don’t just dismiss that notion.  Many happened within the last century.  When the mob takes over is there a Republican form of government any more?

Frankly I am not sure the Judiciary would have a proper rule if the citizens of a State asked for Federal help to restore order and provide for a Republican form of government.  Even if you argue that it would have a role, would circumstances and the violence supersede any deliberation of the Court?  Exigencies might well cause any ruling of the Court to be ignored.  Just as Lincoln did when he ignored the Court’s ruling on Habeas Corpus for the Maryland legislators at the beginning of the War Between the States.

It has never been invoked that I know of for domestic disturbance but there is always the first time.  I do worry about it down the road.  When you have one party in control of the executive and legislative branches and the majority of the States and some minority party  is protesting and demonstrating in a State they still control politically will that majority manufacture a “crisis” and answer the call for a republican form of government there with military force?

I don’t know the future but I can read and know a little history.  If you think no politician would ever take advantage of such a call to “help” people have a republican form of government when it would benefit his prospects and his party, then you know a completely different brand of politicians than I do.

That provision means something.  It can’t just be brushed off.  I don’t like the idea of that provision being invoked by anyone.   But it probably will some day.  If we can think it we will do it at some point.  Ponder this.

Ok,,,,cynical lesson of the day done.

God Bless,


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Separation of Powers Danger

There is a little known or discussed provision in the Constitution that I have wondered about for some time and whether its invocation would lead to major problems.  It concerns the removal of Supreme Court Justices.  Article III governs the Supreme Court.  The very first section states that the Justices “shall hold their Offices during good Behavior”.   That is quite different than any standard for the Congress or President.  Congress has complete authority over its members and either the House or Senate has the right to expel a member.  No reason for the expulsion is mentioned or apparently required.  We are all familiar with the right of Congress to Impeach and convict any sitting President for removal.   Is there another method of removal of Justices besides impeachment?

The Constitution is a contract between the People and the Government.  It is basic contract law that every provision in a contract has some meaning.  You can’t simply ignore it.  So what did the drafters mean with they required good Behavior of Justices but not for the other two branches of government?  I couldn’t find any definitive comments in the Federalist Papers on the topic.   Maybe there is a long article by Hamilton or Madision somewhere but it didn’t get on my radar.

I know most will opine that it is not a problem.  Justices have to be removed through impeachment.  I concur that surely is one method of removal.  But is it exclusive?  Impeachment standards are set out as Treason, Bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors.  If that is the only method of removal from office for a Justice then what was the point of the good behavior specification?  Remember contract law requires its interpretation to have some meaning.

Imagine a highly partisan time in Congress.  One party picks out a particularly offensive Justice in their opinion because he consistently rules against their agenda.  He is not in tune with the times, whatever they may be.   Rather than trying for an impeachment with the 2/3s majority requirement in the Senate vote; that majority in the House and then the Senate by simple majority pass legislation that finds the Justice not acting with good behavior and their party’s President signs off.  Has that Justice been removed from office?  After all the Congress of the US has found him not holding tenure during good behavior.  The Constitution doesn’t specify who or how that qualification of good behavior is to be determined or who is the arbitrator.  The Justices surely don’t get to judge their own behavior.   That would be Napoleonic.  The Supreme Court could perhaps issue some ruling contrary to the determination of Congress and the President.  But is the Court allowed to determine its own makeup?  They can’t just erase the “good behavior” requirement.  As important would anyone pay attention to their ruling?

I would hope such a scenario never occurs but with the hostility prevalent today it does concern me.

Nothing beats the smell of frying bacon and strong fresh coffee on the campfire coals.

Another day we’ll discuss those letters Marque which I would love to have.

God bless and your dream is yours….


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The Pathway To A Better State–IV–Laws

The deep divides within the US today have caused a stagnation in our body politic and the separate camps of Left and Right have less ground for compromise than before.  This is because those disparate parties have fundamentally different views of the role of central government and the power to be accorded to it.  This divide and discord has been evident for a couple of generations and the division has only deepened over that period of time.   There is no logical, legal or moral impediment to dividing the US into two parts so that each is sovereign within its own borders yet retain essential relations for mutual defense and trade.   Such a division would dramatically reduce tensions both political and emotional between those two halves and allow each to follow its own perceived path to a better world and future.   It is possible that each could be “right” in its own way and achieve its goals within constant disagreement with the other side.  A view of the laws to govern each prospective entity is in order.

The basic legal structure of each sovereign would be set forth at a Constitutional Convention called by the States under Article V of the Constitution.   No doubt each would adopt almost without any changes the US Constitution as written and including its Amendments.   Coastal America would probably not make any changes whatsoever but that would be their choice.  Middle America would make modest but significant changes in all likelihood.  This would not be revolutionary or radical.  It is likely that the commerce clause would be tightened so that only laws that in fact directly and materially affect interstate commerce would be authorized under that provision.  This would prevent the Congress of Middle America from passing virtually any law they wish with the claim that the subject of the legislation  affects interstate commerce even though there is no common sense justification for such claim.  The use and abuse of that section has been rampant since the days of FDR.  Coastal America in contrast can leave as much authority to their central government as they wish.   Middle America would likely consider some form of the various  balanced budget amendments that have been proposed.  Lastly there may well be discussion of eliminating the 13th and 14 Amendments since no one is proposing slavery these days and that was their only purpose.   Maybe there would only be slight changes to refine the definition of citizenship in the 14th Amendment so that simply slipping illegally across our border would not qualify such a birth for citizenship.

The fundamental distinction between  the Federal and Constitutional laws of each new nation would be the concept of Federalism.  In Coastal America the central authority would be imbued with substantial powers because that is the desire of the majority of the Left.  They can have what they wish for without interference from the Right.  Likewise Middle America would strengthen the role of the States and diminish somewhat the power of its Federal government to dominate all affairs.   The traditional roles of the States would be preserved in Middle America.  The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau for example has issued regulations dictating the terms of mortgages and deeds of trust which affect the real estate laws of the various States.  Real estate law should be the exclusive domain of the States as it has been from our inception.  The same would apply to contract and tort law and educational laws and all the other that have been historically viewed as within  the police powers of the States.  Coastal America would be free to degrade the authority of their individual States as much as they wish and not be concerned with the actions of Middle America.   Tax laws will be discussed in another chapter at a later date.

The untold tens of thousands of Federal laws existing on the books at the time of separation would be kept intact initially.  Without doubt Middle America would begin paring back thousands of these laws and their companion regulations and the various departments of government and Cabinet positions.  Some departments that would be reviewed for elimination or diminution of authority would be Commerce, HUD, Education,Labor,EPA and Energy.  Likewise Middle America would probably make significant changes to HHS and reform all the welfare programs.   Coastal America would be free to expand these departments and give them even more power if that is their desire.   The Right believes that the Federal laws have multiplied to Kafkasque proportions to the point where individuals and businesses can’t function without violation of some Federal provision which leads to selective and discriminatory prosecution.  The Left could retain all the laws they wish and maintain their faith in the fairness and compassion of the central government.   The changes made by Middle America would not be radical within the concept of Federalism and the proper use of the commerce clause.   Most personal and business affairs would continue on as they have before only with a significant reduction in regulatory burdens imposed by someone thousands of miles away.

Each new sovereign nation would be free to make a nation more prosperous, civil and blessed with individual rights as they see fit.   The Left could increase union power or expand government control over business.  It would be free to even nationalize such business as it thinks best.   The Left could adjust Labor, minimum wage laws and affirmative action laws to their liking within having to do political battle with the Right.   The Left has a vision; let them seek it.  That is not the vision of the Right so allow each the freedom to pursue its chosen path.   This division of the nation will increase freedom for both new nations and unburden them from the drag of the opposing camp.  We are Americans and for every problem there can be a solution.  The difficulties with a division will be present but all are solvable by the respective side when they can do as they wish without having to accommodate the other side.   Those problems you are reminded are certainly no worse than the absolute assurance of consequential and perhaps tragic problems we face if we continue our current course of dispute, inaction, decline and likely civil disorder.

“Even peace may be purchased at too high a price.”  Ben Franklin.   http://www.olcranky.wordpress.com

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Recess Usurpation Of Power

The recess appointments to the NLRB and the so-called Consumer Protection agency have spotlighted the dangerous turn the current White House occupant has taken to exercise power over Americans even at the cost of our Constitutional heritage and freedoms. Just this week one of the prominent supporters and alleged legal experts, Lawrence Tribe of Harvard law school (where else?) made the case that the Senate was not really in session and that the current meetings of the Senate were merely pro forma and thus the Senate was in recess.

That argument and the others submitted entirely miss the Constitutional point and the ominous harbinger of things to come if these appointments are sustained and allowed to exist. The issues go far beyond the immediacy of these particular appointments and the concerned agencies of government. They are a frontal attack on our very system of government. Systems and procedures are critical to our founding and method of governance since the inception of our Union. From the beginning the Constitution was designed to make all three branches of government co-equal partners and independent of one another. No one branch was to have governmental hegemony over the others. Yes, it is a bit awkward and sometimes very frustrating but it has served us very well for over 200 years through difficulties of all sorts both economic and even in war. We have consistently rejected the European style of Parliamentary government where the prevailing party can pass any legislation it choses and the losing side can only vote no and wait for a change in the body politic and new elections. That majority has pretty much free rein while in power. We have built-in restraints even on the majority party in power under our division of power.

There are two references in the Constitution regarding the recess of Congress and the powers of the branches of government. You can read them for yourself.  You will find them in the first two Articles of the Constitution.   The plain reading of the Constitution makes it clear that the appointments were made without proper authority.  But the even bigger issue is the inherent power of each branch of government.  That phrase “plain language  is important because the Supreme Court has always ruled that when a Constitutional provision is challenged that first one must look to the plain language of the document before embarking on some Just as the Senate can not tell the President when to meet with his Cabinet or which foreign dignitary to entertain at the White House, the President and the Supreme Court can’t tell the Senate or House how to conduct their business.  The President can’t order who will be on which committee or when they will meet or how they will consider legislation and make their votes.   The President doesn’t get to make his own interpretation of the Senate rules, they make that determination. 

It doesn’t make any difference what the President thinks about the recess of the Senate or even the Supreme Court.  The Senate and the Senate only makes the decision as to whether or not it is in session.  The determination is binding on the other branches of government and can’t be challenged by either of them.   The Senate was in pro forma session but a session nonetheless and even conducted business like the last  minute deal on unemployment benefits.   As others have noted if the President gets to decide when the Senate is in session then he could make “recess” appointment during the middle of the night when no one is there and take the position the Senate was in recess.  Again, it is not whether that is a silly position or not, it is about whether the President has that power at all, period.  

There will be many more elections and many more Presidents but the Constitution will hopefully live on and the principles of our mutually agreed governance under it.   Just as BO has used executive orders to implement his ideas that can’t be passed by Congress this is a plain and dangerous usurpation of power.   Process and procedure are critically important to our freedoms and method of government.  The Constitution is filled with process and procedure provisions.  Contrary to most countries around the world even our military doesn’t take an oath to defend the country or a particular leader or party but to defend the Constitution.   If our military is asked to die for our Constitution then our President must be held accountable to also defend that instrument and respect the traditions and precedents of the Congress and more importantly its Constitutional authority.

What is particularly egregious is the way these appointments were made and the position taken by BO.  It would be understandable if he had said up front that he believed the Senate was in recess and that it was an important issue to resolve and therefore he wanted to have a determination made by the Judiciary regarding the question.  An honest dispute is one thing but it is quite another to attempt to subvert Constitutional requirements by appealing to the sentiment of the moment and the mob as they did in ancient Rome.   The Courts have consistently ruled over our history that it can’t and won’t get involved in telling the other branches of government how to operate.  They can determine if their actions are unconstitutional since Marbury v. Madison but that is very different from getting into the inner workings of the Executive or Legislation branches.  The Supreme Court would defer to the decision of the Senate and follow whatever it said about its own recess.  Otherwise we have a dictatorship of one branch of government which the whole Constitution was designed to prevent.   For all our sakes and the sake of our progeny let’s hope this action is defeated and that the people will realize the issue rises far above the political disputes of the moment.

A “franchise” is a special privilege conferred upon an individual by the government that is not a privilege granted to the general population.  The President has no franchise to usurp the powers of the Senate.  www.olcranky.wordpress.com

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Health Care Reform and the Constitution

It is amazing to hear so many politicians making proposals in both the House and the Senate regarding health care reform without even a passing nod to the Constitutional authority of Congress to enact such legislation.  I know the idea of Federalism and the Constitution must seem quaint and old fashioned to many of them when they are doing the “right” thing and being modern and progressive (liberal) with the ambitious plans proffered.   I suppose they feel that you can’t a little thing like the law stand in the way of an expansion of government power and taking care of the little people.

We do the dangerous act of looking at the Constitution.  I would like someone to point to the section of the Constitution that grants Congress the power to regulate any kind of insurance.  If you are referring to the “general welfare” phrase of section 8, Article One I would postulate that that is the refuge of all who have no arugment.  The Federalist papers make it clear that such words to not empower the Congress to pass anything it wants.  There are enumerated powers and powers left to the States.  Many areas of law have been left to the States under the Constitution.  Real estate law is controlled by the States.  There is no federal law regarding real estate.  The various States have different appproaches to mortgages and deed of trust for example.  Marriage and family law has been left to the States.  The requirement for marriage and divorce have been different in the States from our inception.  Likewise all insurance law has been governed by State law.  Your home insurance, car insurance, umbrella liability policy and the like are all creatures of and regulated by your home  State.   These are only some of the more common examples of areas left exclusively to State law. 

Those matters are left to State law because of the 9th and 10th amendments.   Please read your copy of the Constitution.  If you don’t have one shame on you.  You can get one easily enough.  The Tenth Amendment in particular makes it plain that any powers not specifically granted to the Congress are reserved to the States.  Those specific powers are set out in Article One.  The States have controlled the insurance industry from our inception as a nation.  Now Congress is proposing to completely ignore the Tenth Amendment and write Federal law that will supercede State laws and regulations.  The States have always had the right to enter into compacts with each other.  They could do that now if they wish to regarding health insurance.  The proposals on tap will establish a national system of health insurance and importantly health insurance contract law.    Your health insurance policy in Vermont does not affect interstate commerce in the slightest anymore than the health treatment you seek to obtain.  The interstate commerce clause should not be held to  include health insurance or health reform.  The Supreme Court a couple of years ago finally pushed back on the ever expanding interstate commerce clause as a justification for any law passed.   They did that in the case involving the guns on school yards.  A legitimate concern but one left to the wisdom of each State.  My having a hand gun on a school yard could not concievably affect interstate commerce but  Congress said it did–if you push a ridiculous argument too far its inanity becomes apparent even to the intellectually challenged.

Next we come to the real puzzeler about the mandate that everyone must buy health insurance on pain of penalty by taxation and criminal proceedings.  You may recall that was one of the matters that people revolted against with Hillary-Care 15 years ago.  They criminal provisions in that one also.  Here they will be requiring you to buy insurance whether you want it or not.  The penalty the guy in the White House refuses to acknowledge is a tax will be paid through the IRS and failure to pay will be enforced with fines up to $25,000.00 and prison up to one year.  That is a tax and it is a crime if you don’t adhere to Government, Inc.’s mandate.   First, where in the Constitution does Congress get the authority to require that you buy ANY product or service?  I am waiting for an answer to that one.   Will Congress also have the power to require that you make all future loans for a house through Fannie or Freddie so their financial positions will be shored up?  Will Congress require you hire a CPA to prepare your tax return?  How about buying a car.  Can Congress mandate that we buy GMs or if not then how about a demand that all auto financing goes through GMAC  since the government owns that now after its arbitrary takeover last spring.   Just imagine Congress thinks it has the power to require you to buy something, it doesn’t matter what the product or service is.  Really think about that.  It would be the greatest usurpation of power by any Congress since our founding and will open the floodgates to rule of the mob rather than a rule of law.

There are other Constitutional challenges that can be made and I sure hope will be made to the health care reform.  If most of us really want it, it can happen through the States and with respect for our Federal system of government.  Whatever we do should be done according to law.   Our Federal system is flexible and the States know the needs of their people.  They can form any compact they want to improve our health care system and health insurance delivery.  Let’s not become some third world entity that rules by dictat, decree and fiat from the elites in ivory towers.  www.olcranky.wordpress.com

“There is no nonsense so arrant that it cannot be made the creed of the vast majority by adequate governmental action.”  Bertrand Russel

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Legitimacy of War on Terror and Undeclared Wars

In the last 60 years there have been repeated questions and controversies over the issue of the US engaging in war with another nation or group without an express declaration of war by Congress.  Depending upon the war and the political envoirnmennt of the moment the challenges have been muted or vociferous.   Those who oppose all military engagements as a matter of principle will vehemently declare that every such engagement is illegal and against the laws of nations.  The most recent clamor  has been over the invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq.  The arguments about the legitimacy of these wars is nothing new.  Such undeclared wars have been part of our history since the earliest days of our nation.   We do have some checks and balances to prevent the Executive from  throwing the traces and going off on a mission that is not supported by the majority or consensus of the people.

Our first undeclared war was with the French.  The French had been our vital ally during the Revolutionary War and were critical to the victory at Yorktown that finally brought the turning point in that War.   Their defeat was overwhelming and the British realized that the fight was not going to go their way and peace was finally made with the Treaty of Paris in 1783.   The French fleet had blockaded the Cheasapeake near Yorktown that prevented any British evacuation and some French troops were even in the land army that assaulted and routed the British positions.  Fast forward a few years and we had adopted the Constitution and become the US and not  a weak confederation.   There were many who adored the French and many who were appalled by the excesses of the French Revolution.  Jefferson was considered pro French and Washington and Adams were generally believed to be more cautious and even pro British in their outlook.  By the term of Adams the French and British were at loggerheads and even outright war on an off and on basis from then until the ultimate defeat of Napoleon.   Most of you are familar with the British harassing our ships and even impressing our seamen into their navy during this period.  But the same thing occurred with the French.  The French were so bad that we created the first navy in the late 1790’s.  Prior to that we had no navy.  That navy was created specifically to figtht the French and to protect American shipping from the French.  It was called the Quasi
War by some.  There was never a declaration of war by Congress.  It was a real war and was fought entirely on the seas.  Guns were fired, men died and battles took place between American and French vessels.  Indeed one Mr. Bainbridge was a captain of one of our ships that was captured by the French during this war.  (The USS Bainbridge of recent pirate fighting fame is named after him for his later exploits against the Barbary Pirates).  This war was never declared and petered out as matters temporarily calmed for a bit between  the British and French.  This all took place on the watch of Adams.   Then came Jefferson who revived the navy  because of the attacks by the Barbary Pirates in North Africa.  Again that was a real war with many US ships involved.  We sent more than one expedition to that area.  It was not a single engagement but a war that extended over a period of a couple of years.  That war was not declared.  It was a real war.   To some extent that was the first war on terror.  The Barbary Pirates were a loose confederation of city states that owed nominal fealty to the Ottoman empire in Turkey but mostly operated independently of any governmental authority much like Al Queda today.

There was never a formal declaration of war against the seceding states during the War Between the States.   Likewise our various expeditions to Latin American during the first half of the 20th century were never declared wars.  Some of these actions occurred under both Democrat and Republican administrations.

When we sent troops to fight against the North Koireans in 1950 under a Democratic President there was no formal declaration of war.  It was called a “police action” by the administration.  That was sure a real war with about 40,000 killed.  There was some strong outrage by the left about that war at the time.  Check the old news headlines and articles.  The left was still very much enamored with the Soviets and Mao and believed our government was opposing the proletariat of the world.  They liked the socialists.  There were demonstrations here and in Europe against that war.

Viet Nam was kicked off under another Democratic President and then accelerated under his Democratic successor.  Ike had a few hundred advisers there when he left office.  Kennedy ramped it up to 16,000 by the time he died.  Johnson took it up over 500,000 troops.  I don’t need to remind you that again the left protested and demonstrated against that war.  It was never a declared war.  The Gulf of Tonkin resolution was not a declaration of war.   The arguments were repeated that it was illegal and even a war crime to be there fighting. 

Now we have Iraq and Afghanistan and the same cries are made by some.  Although they are much more muted with the new guy in the white house.   There was the resolution for Iraq but that was not a declaration of war.  The war on terror has no declaration because you would have to declare war on a fringe culture which makes no sense.

Our commander in chief does have limits.  If there is indeed strong support to stop any military engagement that can be done quite effectively by Congress.  Read the Constitution.  The appropriations  for the military (army) can be no longer than for a period of two years under Article One, section 8.  We do have a political remedy to prevent a rogue executive from engaging in wars that are not supported by the people.  This technique was used symbolically at the end of the Viet Nam war when Congress cut off the funding for the war.  Of course it was only a political ploy at that time because the war was mostly wound down by Nixon already.  During his first term in office the troop level had dropped to 25,000 from over 500,000. 

Let’s have some perspective on Iraq and Afghanistan now.  There is nothing wrong at all with a healthy debate about the strategy and conduct of those conflicts and then we can take action accordingly.  It is true that no war can long endure that does not have popular support.  The people have to believe it is in their interest and for their protection or the enthusiasm will wane.  Congress can always cut off the money if that is their collective wisdom.   Merely passing such a measure would bring everything to a halt.  I don’t support that option.  I think that would be dangerous.  But I don’t like hearing some act like they have no remedy when they do. 

The Spartans when faced with a formidable invader declared to them “If thou art a god, thou wilt not hurt those who have never injured thee; if that art a man, advance: and thou wilt find men equal to thyself”.

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Tea and Sympathy

Surely you recall the old movie of that name.  It was a bit bloated and overwrought but a real tear jerker for the ladies.  We had some tea served yesterday around the nation and the attendance revealed the sympathy the attendees have for responsible and limited government.  I have never been to any type of protest or demonstration in my life.  I am just not that type.  I am truly one of those silent majority figures.  I rant and rave but it is usually only to a captive audience like my long suffering family members.   As always is the case the press gets so much of what they report wrong. 

First I was amazed at the geographic scope of the meetings taking place around the country.  I did some research yesterday out of curiousity more than anything to see where some of these events were going to be held.  It was not organized by any party or organization so there were various websites listing the events.  I looked at those in my state and was surprised to see them being held in even the small towns across the state.  You would expect something in the major cities of Dallas, Houston, San Antonio but they were having them in Abilene, Albany, Chilicothe, Childress, Alpine, Palestine, Kilgore and hundreds of other locations.  Those aren’t big burgs and the attendance was small I assume at most of them but the fact that someone volunteered to sponsor an event and get a time and place and have it announced and then set things up is very impressive.  There were over 200 listed in Texas.  Some were in places you wouldn’t expect like El Paso. 

My wife and I decided we would go to observe and learn something.  I figured there would maybe be a few hundred people in attendance since our rally was at dinner time and many would be going home from work or just worn out from the day’s activities or not interested enough to make the journey to the central business district.   I was stunned when  we arrived.  There were thousands of people there.  I have been to the Dallas city hall plaza many times for races and can judge the size of crowds fairly well from those past experiences at the same location.   We had at least 6 or 7 thousand in attendance, maybe more.  I over heard a police officer talking with some one as we passed him on our way and he said “there is a huge crowd there, you better park where you can”.  The crowd was not Republican.  In fact one of the most criticized politicians by a speaker was a Republican State Senator who is proposing some tax increases.  I stood next to a Hispanic lady with her teen age son and some black folks were within 10 feet of me.  It was quite a cross section of America.  It was peaceful.  It was raucous and emotional and inspiring to see so many people who care about the future of the country.  I didn’t agree with all the comments of the speakers but I did agree with the overarching theme of reining in runaway government power grabs and spending that borders on the criminal.   Indeed if any of us kept our books the way that Government, Inc. does we would go to jail for fraud and money laundering.  That is not an exaggeration but a truth. They put incredible expenses off the books and mislabel and lie about others.  The books of the US government are not “a regular Statement and Account of the Receipts and Expenditures of all public Money” as required by Article One, section 9 of the Constitution.  They are anything but that. 

It is not only ridiculously high taxes that provoke the people it is the government operating now in the Don Corleone mode–making those deals too good to refuse to our private sector.  I didn’t hear any extreme views only concern about the government ignoring the rule of law and seeking to amass empircal-like powers into the maw of Washington p0liticians and bureaucrats.  AIG, GM, a Stimulus bill, and mortgage bailouts for the undeserving, deficits beyond comprehension, and Government, Inc. violating the Fifth Amendment rights of property were the thorns in the side of this crowd.   This crowd was not made up of millionaires.  I can assure you that most of them would definitely qualify as the 95% who are supposedly getting a tax break.  Yet they were there and unhappy.   No one attacked the truly needy or disparaged a charitable nature in man or government.  It was an evening about freedom versus the yoke of Government, Inc. tightening its grip on the necks of the workers and those with aspirations.  

It is tea parties this year.  There will be many more of them come July 4th.  If the government continues its march toward total control of our lives and our property then next year it will be the tax  revolt.  They can’t put us all in jail.  I mean who would they have left to steal from?   Do they think they can fund their operations from the money of that 50% who already don’t pay income taxes or those who can’t even make their mortgage payements?  As much as Geithner might despise and demean we  “wealthy” people he needs us to reach his goal of total government dominance.  If the beast won’t repsond to reason and argument then we will starve the beast. 

Tea was poured out this time.  There was no sympathy for the administration’s grand schemes to make us all lackeys of those in power in Washington.

Jesus wept.  That is the shortest verse in the Bible.  You look up what made him weep.  It will do you some good.

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Sea Power Equals Power

I don’t know the exact details of all the cutbacks just announced in our armed forces by Gates.  The big ones are obvious such as the F-22 Raptor reduction and the cancellation of the laser aircraft to intercept missiles.  What didn’t receive quite as much attention was the cutback in the Navy vessels.   I noticed that the new cruiser fighting ship is to be eliminated.  I don’t know the specifics of its combat capabilities but it was to have the most modern and up-to-date attack and defensive systems on board.   Ships cost a lot to build and I can understand the math of wanting to pare the big ticket items to  reduce the size of defense spending.  It is regrettable in many ways but I believe it is in the strategic and short term interest of the US that we have a very strong military capability.   The world is still a dangerous place and danger seems to sprout up in the most unexpected places.  I mean who would have thought that a signifiicant concern at the beginning of the 21st century would be the threat of piracy on the high seas but it is.

Of all the branches of service I believe that we most maintain a particularly vigorous and large maritime force.   Control of the sea lanes throughout recorded time has been vital to the success or failure of countries, empires and kingdoms.  Many of the earliest battles on land and sea were in the Mediterrean Sea area and they were to control the access to the seas for trade and to protect territory from attack.  The great battle at Thermopolae was heroic sure and a grand display of courage in face of overwhelming odds but it was the sea battles near there and later off the coast of Athens that cemented the victory of the Greeks against the Persians.  The Roman Empire had a formidable naval presence throughout its empire and that control and the ability to move goods and armies at will helped the Roman Empire endure for centuries.   Later it was the Venetians turn to use the seas to create and mightly city-state.  Its fleets kept the Muslims at bay on repeated occasions and gave it a dominate position over its competitors in the entire Mediterranean Sea.  

A look at the map of the world gives a clear picture of why the US must maintain a very strong naval force.  We are the only major power in the world to have immediate acces to the two great oceans of the world.   The commerce of the world travels on those oceans from Asia and Europe and all other parts of the world.  The peaceful use of the open seas is vital to the stability of the entire world not just the US.  It is in the strategic interest of the US to keep those sea lanes open and free.  Just as Britain did for a little over two centuries we must use our navy to literally keep the wheels of commerce turning in a free and peaceful manner across the oceans of the world. 

Our navy has proved its worth on several occasions in the recent past.  We could not have won the Second World War without our navy.  Armies and goods have to be moved from place to place and aircraft simply can’t move the quantity of logistical equipment and supplies necessary to sustain any significant military engagement.   Without our navy in the Pacific being large enough and powerful enough to sustain the loss at Pearl Harbor and still remain a viable fighting force the outcome of that war would have been vastly different.  D-Day itself would have been impossible without a big and robust navy.  More recently it was the huge 16-inch guns of our battle ship that allowed the Marines to move ashore unharmed into Lebanon in 1983.   The Cuban missile crisis would have had a far denouement if not for the fact we had a navy to deploy off the coast of Florida and Cuba.  It was the navy that deterred the Soviets not the threat of our ICBM’s.   They knew that if they challenged our sea embargo around Cuba that they would lose that engagement because of our superior naval forces.  Their ships stood to and didn’t force the issue of bringing to Cuba even more missiles on their ships.  

When there is any new threat around the world of a military nature who do we send there to “show the flag” and be ready to take counter measures?   The navy.  Only within the last week was this illustrated again with the missile launch of the N. Koreans.  It was navy ships we positioned off their coast to monitor the launch and be prepared to take action.   We have pirates now off the east coast of Africa but what if  some enterprising cartel folks decide to try the same scheme in the Caribbean Sea or around the littoral of Cuba.  As long as there is man outside of Eden new dangers will arise.  Many of those dangers will be from action on the seas or within miles of a coastline.   I hope that others in power agree with these sentiments and that we maintain a very strong navy now and for the forseeable future.  It is for our security and for our economic interest that we do so.   Just as Mother Nature abhors a vacuum so do the political and military establishments around the world.  If we wane on the oceans you can be assured that someone else will wax and they may not be our friends.  Reach your own conclusions but please do some historical research of your own and don’t fall into the trap of “things are different now” type of thinking.  They are the same and thus will it be ever so.

Again I urge reading the Constitution.  It does deal with piracy under Article I, Section 8.   I don’t know why there is all this hand-wringing over how to arrest and deal with them today.  Catch, try and hang ’em.

I am not smart enough to know if we should be on a gold standard for our money but I do see the logic of it because it demands monetary and fiscal discipline on Government, Inc.   Anyway, if gold is such an archaic notion for monetary value then why does the IMF still use it?    You may have noticed that this week the IMF announced it was selling 400 tons of gold.  So it is good for some monetary systems, sometimes but not for everyone?   Curious.

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Filed under Foreign Affairs, geography, government, law, military history, War