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Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Scarier than Redistribution

After listening over and over again to the recording of Barack Obama on Public Radio in 2001 discussing the fact the courts didn't go far enough with civil rights, by redistributing wealth, I found what scared me more in his statements.

And to that extent as radical as people tried to characterize the Warren court, it wasn’t that radical. It didn’t break free from the essential constraints that were placed by the founding fathers in the Constitution, at least as it’s been interpreted, and the Warren court interpreted it in the same way that generally the Constitution is a charter of negative liberties. It says what the states can’t do to you, it says what the federal government can’t do to you, but it doesn’t say what the federal government or the state government must do on your behalf.

Keep in mind, this is at a time he was a senior lecturing law professor. One would think he's have read some Constitutional history to understand the roots of the document. Evidently that wasn't required reading when he went to Columbia.

I might suggest that he go back read the Federalist Papers, where John Jay and Alexander Hamilton, James Madison; some of those Founding Father's he found so lacking; discuss why the government built the way it was, and specifically answer questions about the Constitution.

One of the overriding themes of the formation of our government was a restriction of powers, at the local, state, and especially federal level.

It wasn't a "mistake" on the part of the Founders that they wrote a document of negative liberties (for the government). It was by design. If the Constitution didn't give the government power to do something, then that power didn't exist in the government. If the population wanted something changed, there is a provision for amendments the document.

Contrary to Senator Obama's belief, the Constitution does tell the Government; in Article 1, Section 8; exactly what powers it possesses. In Section 9 it tells them exact things it can't do.

If he'd have read the 10th Amendment at some point in his schooling he'd understand that:

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

In other words, if the Constitution doesn't say the Fed's have a right to do something, they don't.

Taxation, trade, and defense, and basic rights of the citizenry were what the document was written to outline. Along with the Bill of Rights, it lays down the basic framework of our government.

The reason that there is no section on what the government is required to give you is that the government wasn't required to do anything but those four items. The rest is up to the citizens. (again, go back to the 10th Amendment)

Obama's views are one of the major problems with the "living document" theory of Constitutional Law. The basic premise that the Founding Father's didn't know what life would be like 200+ years later, and therefore we should interpret the Constitution to mean what we think it should today.

In actuality they wrote, as Antonin Scalia has said, a "dead document". They've given a provision for change should the times change, the amendment. They intended for the Constitution to be a solid framework, not a flexible mold. If the framework needs changing, then you get Congress and the people to agree to that change.

Think of your Constitution as a bridge. If you, the casual user (or President, or Congress person, or Judge) decide you don't like the looks of the bridge, or think it's unsafe. Do you just make repairs yourself, right there? No, you call in a lot of folks structural and design engineers, real construction workers, etc.

When the Constitution needs repair, or revision, the orginal framers never envisioned Congress, the Courts, or the President deciding on those repairs themselves. Yet that's what they've done for the better part of our history, instead of making the changes the way it was intended.

Take for instance, "The Commerce Clause" of the Constitution, from Article 1, Section 8:

To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes

Taken with the (decidedly vague) Necessary and Proper Clause at the end of that section:

To make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution the foregoing Powers, and all other Powers vested by this Constitution in the Government of the United States, or in any Department or Officer thereof.

Congress has decided that pretty much anything can be considered to have an affect on "interstate commerce" and therefore falls under their jurisdiction. In most cases, the courts have upheld them.

The cases where the courts have tossed legislation based on that clause are; unfortunately; few and far between. In fact from the New Deal until today only a handful of Congress's power grabs under that clause have been tossed out by the courts.

I bring that clause up specifically because under an Obama Presidency, and probably with 2 justices being replaced in his first term, we'll see Congress passing all kinds of laws that are in the guise of protecting interstate commerce.

For instance, how hard would it be for them to issue redistibutive remedies, by saying that because some groups have less money than others to spend it stifles commerce? How tough would it be to say that because health care isn't uniform among the states, and a healthy workforce is necessary for the conduct of interstate commerce, they should be allowed to design a national health care system?

Keep that in mind next Tuesday.

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Monday, October 27, 2008

Spreading the Wealth

Charlie, as usual, has found some great clips from YouTube on Barack Obama.
This one is a 2001 Public Radio interview, in which he points out that the Warren Court wasn't as radical as some people think. One of the reasons, they didn't force the redistribution of wealth like he thought they should as part of their civil rights decisions.

So when you hear that clip of Joe the Plumber being told Barack "just wants to spread the wealth", understand Mr. Obama has been working on strategies to do it, both legislatively, and through the courts for a number of years.

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Thursday, October 23, 2008

The First Duty is to Remember

This is a repost of something I wrote 3 years ago, commemorting the events of 25 years ago today in Beirut, Lebannon. (I did change the "22 years ago" to 25 today)

Here is a line to the online
Beirut Memorial, which was offline for a while but seems to be back up and running.

The title to this post is a link to a list that has great meaning to me. If you believe the War on Terror started on 9/11, you definitely need to follow the link, and remember, it started long before that. (I changed it on 10/24/05, after finding a wonderful entry in a guestbook about that day).

25 years ago today was my very first morning waking up on a Navy ship. I was onboard the USS Iwo Jima, waiting for a flight to my ship, the USS New Jersey floating around off the coast of Lebanon.

I didn't get to wake up to a bugle, or reveille, or some droll thing like that. Instead I was shaken out of a sound sleep, and asked what type blood I had, because they needed donations.

My blood type wasn't necessary, so instead I was sent to the flight deck, and told to unload helo's. That was the first time I had a chance to ask "What the hell's going on", and was told the Marine barracks had been destroyed by some kind of bomb.

When the helo's started landing we were told where to go, two at a time, and grab a stretcher. Believe me, this was not what I'd expected when I joined the Navy.

I don't know how many stretchers I carried, I only specifically remember one, that's because it was a SEAL I'd had a few beers with a couple of days earlier in Sicily, while we waited for a flight. I do know that medical overflow on the Iwo Jima held about 100 people, and it was pretty full.

Later that evening I was asked if I wanted to go to "the beach" and help with the search. I couldn't do it. I'd seen more death, and maiming in the first 10 hours I was awake that day than I had in 18 previous years (or the 23 since), and the idea of going and looking for people in ruble just wasn't working. Instead, I spent the next two hours on the fantail of the ship, alternating between crying and puking.

For the next two nights I slept in a Marine berth, directly above the wounded jarheads, sailors, and soldiers, listening to their pain, wondering what the hell I'd gotten myself into.

On 25 October I finally got a flight off of Iwo to my actual duty station, USS New Jersey. I will say I took great satisfaction in the fact that on December 14th we fired our 16" guns on some positions ashore. I was even happier in February 1984, when we fired 288 rounds on my watch. We completely depleted the stores for turret one that night, and had to give the duties to #2.

241 were killed 10/23/1983, hundreds others injured, many families destroyed, I will never forget them, you shouldn't either.

For those of you who believe George Bush or any other American is to blame for the "War on Terror", get a clue, the war started much earlier. It started even before my first hand experience, in April of 1983 when the US Embassy was bombed in Beirut killing 63, including 17 Americans.

I also wanted to note in here, that for many years I was kind of a PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder) doubter. I thought that "hey, I'd been through some trauma, and I'm okay", so folks must be whining. Then one night last year, The Travel Channel replayed Anthony Bourdain's "No Reservations" episode filmed in Beirut on 12 July 2006. For those who've forgetten, a new war started there on that day.

Seeing the images of the same types of landing craft I watched there for months, the same type helicopters (we haven't upgraded many) and shells going off in the same skyline during the evactuation caused me to start shaking, crying, and finally to turn the TV off. I didn't sleep right for the next few nights, and still haven't watched the whole episode. Some day.

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Monday, October 20, 2008

Smart Man?

So, now that Colin Powell has decided to endorse Barack Obama, is he suddenly an intelligent man?

Seriously, for the last 5 plus years we've heard what a rube he was for being manipulated by George Bush and Dick Cheney. We've heard that he's either a moron, or a liar, or worse, both.

So does his endorsement mean that he's now suddenly intelligent, or does it just prove the point that rubes flock to Obama?

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Friday, October 17, 2008

15 Minutes

Last week a radio host I listen to on the weekends got his 15 minutes (actually much more) of national fame. James T. Harris was on just about every cable news talk show around, having to explain himself for two things. One, begging; a word he wishes he had replaced; John McCain to "take it to Obama", two, for the offense of being black and not supporting Barack Obama.

How bad did it get for him? Death threats, thousands of angry e-mails, some rather disgusting cartoons. Follow the link to the comments on his National Conversation Blog and see how he was treated.

Or, watch some of the YouTube video's of him on CNN.

Now comes Joe the Plumber's turn "in the barrel". Joe's crime was that he asked a question that Barack Obama gave the wrong answer to. Now, Joe's getting his tax records looked at, his license (or lack of) checked out by the media.

Everyone is focusing on Joe. There are rumors that some remenant of the Keating 5 planted him at the Obama walk around, or that Fox News had him there as a plant.

The conspiracy theories from the left are laughable. It doesn't matter if "Joe the Plumber" was planted by Keating left-overs, coached by Karl Rove, paid by Fox News, and was the love child of Rush Limbaugh, it was OBAMA who answered the question. Barack was the one who said he wanted to "spread the wealth"; through higher taxes.

No matter what Joe did or asked, he couldn't force "The One" to give that answer, unless of course there is some right wing thought machine out there that can plant those answers in Obama's head. If they had that technology, I'm sure Obama would have been on the debate claiming that Karl Marx was his idol, and that socialism is good for America.

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Thursday, October 16, 2008

Can You Spell Potato?

Joe Biden has his Dan Quayle moment. The only surprise, since Joe is "The GaffeMaster" is that MSNBC actually aired this clip.

Maybe SNL can get a skit together by Saturday of Joe trying to count the number of letters in words.

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Sunday, October 12, 2008