Perspectives is the "opinion" page of War On Terror News. Here we analyze the actions of the battlefield and political arena for what they mean to America's National Security and future.
See information on Author and Book by Blake Hurdis here: http://waronterrornews.typepad.com/home/2009/07/by-blake-hurdis-editor.html
Perspectives is the "opinion" page of War On Terror News. Here we analyze the actions of the battlefield and political arena for what they mean to America's National Security and future.
Have you ever wondered why it costs so much to see a doctor? After all, a Doctor's time can only be worth so much, right? Still, medical care has gotten so expensive that most are willing to pay a 3rd Party to pay the bill instead. Somehow, it's perceived that paying someone else to pay the Doctor will decrease the cost of seeing the Doctor. They call it "insurance," but the definition no longer fits the reality. Insurance is designed as numerous individuals paying a little into a fund that covers catastrophic but unlikely events, while modern "health insurance" pays for routine events and common ailments. But, for the sake of clarity, I'll refer to it as "health insurance," as it is commonly referred to as such.
Let's begin with just a visit to the Doctor's office. The fee charged doesn't just cover the Doctor's time. It also has to pay the time of the Nurse who prepares you to see the Doctor and asks the questions he needs answered to optimize his time with you. It also has to pay for the time of the receptionist who schedules your appointment, pulls your records, and makes sure the Doctor has time to see you, prioritizing those with the most urgent of needs. It also has to pay the mortgage on the building the doctor had built to see you. It also has to pay for the chair you sit in waiting to see the doctor, and the table he examines you on, and all the equipment he needs to have on hand. It also has to pay the costs of those loans he took out to gain that medical knowledge, and the costs of the loans of his Nurse.
Costs are going to snowball quick in this reality, and this is going to get long, while only touching on the generalities of those costs.
Now, your Doctor's Office has set up a fairly efficient system where by he sees many patients in a short amount of time, with each phase of the visit using the lowest cost labor needed, and requiring you to wait a little while longer for his time. So, in a normal free enterprise system, where it was a business and a customer relationship, the visit would probably only run $20 to $40, but we've added a lot of paychecks and infrastructure that has no part in actually providing the service.
Rather than just writing a check, or paying in cash or plastic, we've added the insurance company, which means the Doctor's office has to process the paperwork to justify the charges to someone that wasn't there. The insurance company has to pay someone to ensure the justification is correct, because they weren't there. It has to pay for a building and filing cabinets and phones and cubicles, not only for the verifiers, but for the salesmen, and those that bill the patient for the coverage. It has to pay for lawyers to make sure the paperwork is correct with the State. And it has to charge the patient enough to pay for all of those costs, and to pay the Doctor for his time, and the costs of running the Doctor's office.
In effect, we have just doubled the number of paychecks and infrastructure it requires to pay for the Doctor's visit, just by adding the Health Insurance company to the mix. And many will notice that their co-pay is very close to what the cost would have been otherwise. Of course, we also "added jobs" to the equation, but there is still only one Doctor giving the care, and still only one Nurse checking vitals, and one receptionist helping to maximize efficiency in that care.
A sad reality is that many in America today believe that their best opportunity to "strike it rich," is through a lawsuit. The lottery is high on the list as well, but business ownership is too low on that list. "Medical malpractice" lawsuits are way too common, and combined with this belief that a lawsuit is the most likely means to riches, there are many frivolous lawsuits against Doctors and Insurance companies. That's not to say that all are baseless, but the more common the lawsuit, and the more money awarded, or spent on a defense, or both, the higher the cost of insurance to protect the Doctor in the case, no matter how good he is. The cost of that insurance becomes a part of the Doctor's Fee and is passed on to the patient in the cost of higher insurance premiums.
And then we have all these pills, that companies now advertise to the patient, on TV and patients now demand the magic pills from their Doctor. It may be that each and every pill does exactly what the corporations claim, including the side effects, such as suicidal thoughts. But, those pills require chemists, and scientists, and researchers, and laboratories to test them in. They require test subjects, and then proof to the FDA that they are what they say they are. All of those things cost money, and lots of it, and that's before it goes to production in a sanitary factory, or TV advertising. Doctors can't know every pill made and the companies that make them pay a lot of money to ensure they do know their latest greatest. They pay salesmen to woo the Doctor and educate them on the latest thing out. The patient demands not only a prescription written by a doctor, but also "coverage" for the cost of the pills, and that adds time to the Doctor's billing as well as to the Insurance companies costs, which are again added to the costs of those premiums, while the co-pays likely cover the costs of actually manufacturing, and the rest has to cover the cost of all those middlemen.
This isn't a comprehensive list of all the costs of healthcare, but it does begin to scratch the surface. And in America, we do have the best Health Care in the world. A part of that is the research and development into new techniques and new equipment. The newest advances always cost more than the old tried and true devices. This is why you pay more for a 72" "smart" 3D TV than the old LED flatscreen, or rear projection TV. It is why the richest can afford the latest greatest technology while the blue collar worker has to prioritize cost versus need. The producer of the new product has to pay for research and development costs before he can get it to mass production. That cost is paid primarily by the rich who are too impatient to wait to be shown up by others of riches, and paves the way to affordability to the common man. It weeds out "good ideas" that don't work from great ideas we all take for granted. And they are literally paying a premium to be our guinea pigs.
Patients today are demanding that the latest greatest medical equipment be available within their medical care coverage. That technology is expensive. Its cost is passed from the hospitals through the billing department to the insurance company to the customer, in the form of premiums.
The higher the demand for health care, the higher the demand for the professionals that provide it, the more colleges charge to train people in it. The more patients that demand more tests, the more it costs the insurance company to pay for those tests, the more they must charge the patient in the form of premiums. It isn't that those companies are "greedy." Those companies cannot pay their employees if they can't charge their customers at least as much as it costs to provide the service. The more payrolls they have to pay, the more they have to charge. And no company can stay in business very long if it doesn't break even. Those that risked the money to pay for the infrastructure to create the company expect, rightfully, that they will be rewarded for that risk. You expect a return for the money you invest in a 401k or IRA, and that's where that money comes from.
And when someone takes their kid to the emergency room for the sniffles, that is a very high cost visit that has to accommodate the paychecks and insurance payments and all that equipment available across that spectrum as well as the advertising for the pills and syrups that the mother will demand. That's not free, whether the mother pays the bill or Medicaid pays.
So, by 2008, the combination of all these costs had taken the small cost of a Doctor's visit and turned it into 1/6th of the US economy, partially because foreigners would travel to the United States to get treatment and partially because those pharmaceutical companies sold their pills overseas as well.
Politicians don't like not getting their cut and anything that makes money attracts the attention of the greedy. The related fields have to pay lobbyists to protect their interests and that too is passed off to the customer, the patient in the form of premiums. But, it wasn't enough that those Corporations, Doctors, Lawyers, and Insurance companies were paying income taxes on the profits, the politicians wanted a bigger piece of pie. They enacted special taxes and fees on the various parts of the operations, and sold the electorate on the need for "compassion" to pay for insurance for those that had been priced out of the market.
Well, to be honest, I don't know that they sold the public. It seems that the DNC"s Obamacare was never really supported by a majority of those polled. But the Democrats did take over the House in 2006 and gained total control of the government in 2008. It had more to do with an effective smear campaign on Bush Jr and the Iraq War than it did with ObamaCare. "Hope and Change" was an effective slogan, but never defined. Obama, Pelosi and Reid abandoned promises of transparency and of giving the American people a chance to read for themselves legislation that was being brought to the floor. It also became apparent that they, nor Obama, had any plan pre-conceived, only an empty promise that they now had to pass. Early bills were a mere hundred pages, but as legitimate problems were spotted, the sponsored bill grew bigger and bigger, with more and more legalese into thousands of pages, passed by Democrats, so "we could find out what's in it," before anyone, including the politicians that sponsored it, could actually read it. But if the sponsors didn't read it, much less write it, who did? Lobbyists.
The basic premise, that health care could be cheaper by adding more payrolls and infrastructure to the process is inherently flawed. The idea that a bureaucracy would be more efficient, and more kind, because it has no profit margin is also flawed. One need only go to the DMV to see that bureaucracy is neither kind or efficient. It certainly places no premium on the "customer's" time. It doesn't need to do so. The bureaucracy is a monopoly which you are forced to use. You will sit in the line as long as you have to, in order to get the documents you need to drive on the public roads. And, if you don't? You'll be pulled over and pay a fine for failure to do so and "offered" the chance to go sit in those lines anyway.
The most cost efficient of government agencies is the Post Office (or Police Force if you really look at it). Still, the USPS is hemorraging money, while attempting to compete with the same companies it pays to do its job. That's right, mostly the USPS is only the face of the service you get. It pays FedEx and other companies to get the letters and packages from A to B while providing the sales clerk in the office and the delivery guy at your mail box. And it really is difficult to pay your competition to do your job, while providing the service for a lower price.
So, it really should come as no surprise that insurance prices are going up when you add more regulations and forms to fill out and bureaucrats that must approve them. The linchpin of the politicians' (democrats') plan was to force people that didn't need insurance to buy insurance at prices well above their risk of needing it. If they could force 20-30 year olds to buy a plan they wouldn't likely need, they could subsidize the price of those that actually did need to pay for expensive procedures. And if the youth didn't comply? Well, the politicians turned to the most effective of enforcers, the IRS to fine them for failure to comply with government dictates.
The IRS has an accepted capability of seizing funds without a warrant and forcing Citizens to provide proof of their own innocence. Generally speaking, at the end of the tax year, you've paid the IRS more money than required of you, and they'll write you a check, if you prove to them that you did. Even if you did pay more than you owed, they expect you to file a tax return. You'll be rewarded with a bigger check if you jump through the hoops the politicians want you to do. If you don't, they'll presume you are guilty of tax evasion. They'll "offer" you the opportunity to prove your innocence, by filing the return, but if you don't, they will seize your money, and your property. "You can't beat the IRS," is not just an idle threat. You'll find few allies if you try. Americans have accepted that it is your duty to provide proof of your own innocence every year to the IRS. Most are rewarded by compliance and rejoice that they have a big refund coming, interest free, for providing the government a loan.
If you "didn't file a tax return," not only will the IRS presume your guilt, but most likely the public will as well. Hell, I presume the guilt of Timothy Geitner, who ran the IRS, because he didn't pay his tax bill, and because his defense was that he didn't understand the tax code. Of course, he had been appointed by Obama when he decided to pay the bill, because he was so damned smart.
The Democrats decided that the IRS would make the perfect bill collectors for those "miscreants" that failed to obey their dictates. So, if you are 22 year old man that doesn't choose to pay for "insurance" coverage for your potential pregnancy, it is the IRS that will collect the fine, and that fine will get progressively more expensive each year. The IRS will collect your money, no matter how hard you fight. They'll take your money, unless you prove your innocence, to their satisfaction.
The progressives defend a 22 year old man's potential need for medical care for pregnancy as "only fair," because women do need maternity care. The implication is that forcing men to purchase insurance for a situation that has never occurred in the history of biology, is that it can help decrease the cost of insurance for women who tradition tells us do have a chance of needing that medical care. The reality is that insuring the possibility of a male pregnancy should cost somewhere between a penny and outright laughable. It should rank up there with insuring the cost of a log cabin in Missouri against the attack of Martian invaders. It's just about as likely to happen, and the only reason to charge a premium for it, is the insistence of the customer for coverage of something only found in works of fiction or minds of the insane.
But, if adding an Insurance company's payroll, along with medical equipment manufacturer's, and a pharmaceutical corporation's operations increased the cost of insurance, adding the monopolistic bureaucracy's costs is not going to decrease the price. Government NEVER decreases the costs, nor increases the kindness or effectiveness of a service. No matter how unselfish the motivations of a bureaucrat, selflessness is never implied in the job. No matter how unprofitable government is to citizens, it is never free, or even cost effective. Creating mandatory monopolies does not in any way make the products and services better in cost or quality. Our Founding Fathers knew this. That's why they restricted the reaches of government to the bare necessities that Free Enterprise could not or would not provide.
Adding payrolls, and the cost of buildings they work in, simply cannot reduce the cost of the product or service, not even if they are underpaid and working in shambles, but particularly not if they are overpaid union members working for a bureaucracy in lavish buildings.
If we really want to decrease the costs of health care, we need to step back and see how it once cost so little. We need to buy actual insurance for unlikely events, not pay a 3rd party to pay what is common. We need to set up a system that prevents frivolous lawsuits, while allowing those that compensate those that are truly malpractice. We need to reduce the number of paper pusher jobs that add to the costs, while not providing an actual service. In other words, we need a system that returns us to a doctor-patient relationship, and avoids wasting a Doctor's time on sniffles that only time can heal and paying numerous people to file paperwork in his wake.
That may sound cold hearted, but is it really cold hearted to say that a mother should be able to judge whether it is worth $40 to see a Doctor, rather than pay $20 in co-pays for an insurance company to pay the Doctor $100 instead? Do we really need to pay 10 or 20 people to look or fill out forms in between those two, the mother and the Doctor, and given the natural pre-disposition of Doctors, do we really think it is more advantageous for a paper pusher to decide the value of his time, or the Doctor, who would be able to look at his receptionist to order for a lower charge of the impoverished. In the end, I do believe more in the kind-heartedness of a Doctor than that of an IRS bureaucrat, as well as the cost effectiveness of dealing with him direct.
This is the document that clearly authorizes what the Federal government is allowed to do, what authorities and responsibilities the separate entities of the Government have. It is what Our Troops swear to defend and what our politicians and judges have sworn to uphold:
We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.
Those words in the first paragraph above are the beginning of an article written on War On Terror News back on Constitution Day 2011.
As is pointed out within that article, the US Constitution is but four (4!!!) pages of simple language setting out what America is/will be, and what it is NOT. The foundations upon which a great nation was based seem to have been shaken to the core in recent years, as the current crop of politicians seem determined to over-reach the very clear limits placed upon them within that framework. Today, from where I sit, America is under attack by those very 'servants' of the people who - as noted above - swore to uphold the Constitution.
America is broken: Who will fix it?
Can the same word or term mean different things? When a "progressive" talks about the government of "We the people" is it the same thing that the Founders meant when they wrote "We the People of the United States, in order to form a more perfect Union?" Is the People's Republic of China different than the government "of the People, by the People, and for the People?" Does it tell us anything that the Declaration of Independence refers to "the State of Great Britain," and establishment of "Free and Independent States?"
While many think of the Individual States as subservient to the Federal Government, the word "State" is a synonym of "Nation," not "Province." But, I have addressed the importance and reality of that difference elsewhere.
The question of the day is concerning "the People's government." Communism often used "the people" to describe it's authoritarian government. A tenet of its propaganda was that "the people," meaning the government owned everything, and the Individual owned nothing. Theoretically, "the people" were equal in their misery, in a "utopia" where greed was eliminated, and the "intellectual elite" had equal shares of misery as did the illiterate farmer in the field. The reality was far different as the Rulers had benefit of all things the government owned, while their subjects were given just enough to get by. The subjects' "right to work" was not a right at all, but a demand, and usually a demand to produce more than was possible, because they were not allowed to keep much of any of their labors.
The Constitutional Republic created by Our Founders was an exact opposite of the Communism of Marx, Lenin, and Mao, and yet Our Founders also stressed that government was a function of "We, the People." As the most basic premise of the Constitution is the principal that Individual Citizens are the Masters of government, not the servants of it.
While Communism insinuated that people needed own nothing because they owned everything, the reality was far different. Those that attempted to use materials owned by them and everyone, which had not been authorized to them specifically, found themselves in the Siberian prison camps that they and everyone else owned. It was the People's Prison, where government and "the people" were synonymous.
Conversely, the Founders deemed the government an evil but necessary exercise with no authority but that which was granted it by the People. They did not give the government any more land than they deemed absolutely necessary, nor more power than they felt they must. They wrote the Bill of Rights as absolutes that the government could never take away from the Individual. They did not extend equal results to the Citizen, but rather equal opportunity, and the Right to retain the results by the Individual that seized those opportunities.
The difference between Communism and Capitalism is the difference between equal (miserable) results and equal opportunity and retention of those results, regardless of how unequal. It is the difference between Government ownership of everything and Individual Liberty of the Citizenry.
While the Founders laid out that the Federal governments properties were not subject to interference by the States, they also established that the Federal government needed little land to perform its limited duties. They established a separate district, outside of the States, and donated by two of the States, as that place, so none of the States would exert undue influence over the Federal government.
Often today, when people reference "We the People" they are demanding that some Citizens give up their Rights because they claim a majority of voters support the government having more property, more taxes, and more power. Prosecutors often refer to "the People" taking actions against Citizens, in trials of Citizens, who Constitutionally are presumed to be innocent. "The People" aren't calling for these prosecutions. The Government is. "The People" most often don't even know what has been alleged by the government, and even less often see the evidence in the case. The Founders guaranteed Citizens the Right to be judged by a jury of their peers, to try to balance out the prosecution by the government.
While technically, "the People" are the Individual owners of all public lands, the reality is that the government is the sole property owner. And the government will prosecute you if you decide to take something from its land without permission. The government will put government owned handcuffs on you, put you in a government owned car, transport you to a government owned jail, then to a government owned court, so that a government employee can "plead" the government case, to another government employee, that you should be constrained by other government employees, if you are caught by yet another government employee taking property from "the people's property."
That really doesn't sound all that different from the days when the King's guard threw his subjects in prison for hunting the King's deer in the King's forests, does it? The difference is that today, we call it "the people's property" and explain that stealing it is stealing from all the people, even though one of the People deemed that he needed to use it.
But let's take a walk down the road of Individual Rights of the Constitution. As the Individual Citizen is equal to all other Individual Citizens, and a master of his government, he gets up in the morning, holsters his M9 Beretta under his jacket, slings his M4 over it, and walks down to the town square, where he meets the elected head of government, expresses his opinion that said politician is a low life scum, whom he believes God will damn to an eternity in fire and brimstone. The politician responds with flowery speech of how his parties are open to all, with beautiful women and free flowing wine, as well as the best caviar from the Caspian Sea. Our Independent Citizen points out that the politician is buying votes with "the people's" treasury, and God condemns the debauchery of drunkenness and womanizing.
As the voices elevate, a policeman arrives and sees that no crime is being committed. It is only two men expressing their opinions. A judge arrives and issues no warrants, as the Citizen has presented no proof of bribery or theft. A priest arrives and invites the politician to confessional which the politician declines and no one forces him to go. The man is not searched as there is no cause. The politician is not jailed for there is no proof.
On the other side of the world, an Iranian whispers to his friend that he fears there is no Allah, for the Ayatollah bequeaths so little to the impoverished. A Korean whispers to his neighbor that he wonders if the rice does not come from America, rather than the Dear Leader, for it bears their Flag rather than his seal. Fearing a trap, the friend tells the mullah and the neighbor tells "the Party." The Iranian and the Korean are sent to political prisons for re-education. "The People" have spoken and the Iranian learns to be grateful that only his liberties have been lost, rather than his life, for his thoughts are blasphemy. The Korean learns to be grateful for what few kernels of rice "the People's guard" allots him each day.
Our Citizen on the other hand, after working the day away comes home and begins thinking of his discussion and becomes more convinced that the head of government is wasting the Treasury. He types a letter to the local editor saying so. The editor declines to print the letter as he says it is nothing but rumor and innuendo. The Citizen starts a blog and prints it there. The prosecutor reads the blog and decides to look for himself. He subpoenas the records of the Treasury and finds that the head of government is indeed spending the Treasury on lavish parties. He takes the politician to court and lays out his case. The defense retorts that every Citizen is invited to the parties and the funds are approved by the Council as a service to "the People." The Politician is found innocent of wrongdoing, but the People have learned of the lavishness.
Our Citizen continues his blog and the Politician is incensed. He calls the tax collector and orders an audit, but the tax collector responds that he has no proof of a crime. He tells the politician that the Law states Our Citizen has a Right to be Secure in his Papers and Effects. The Politician calls the Policeman and orders a search of Our Citizen's house. The Policeman responds that he has no warrant. He calls the Judge and demands a warrant. The Judge asks for proof of reasonable suspicion but given none, the Judge tells the politician Our Citizen has a Right to be secure in his home. The politician calls the General and orders his Troops to be put in the new Fort of the Citizens House. The General responds that the Citizen has a Right to be compensated if the Army needs his property.
Being unhappy with the way his government is spending his money, Our Citizen uses his blog to call for the election of a different caretaker of it. A businessman is found, who promises to spend the taxes on schools and roads rather than wine and women. Our Citizen endorses him in his Blog.
We, "The People," are Citizens with inalienable Rights, and are the Masters of the Government, not merely subjects of it. Our Rights are absolute. We cannot take those Rights from fellow Citizens, no matter how many of us agree to do so. The officials of government are NOT Our Masters. They are Our Servants. They are entrusted by us to oversee the organs of government, not endowed by us to subject us to their whims. Law Enforcement officials are not empowered as agents of the ruling class to enforce the will of government on us, but entrusted by us to remove criminals from Our Streets. Properties owned by the government are properties that are no longer putting tax money in the Treasury, but costing money of the Treasury. Bureaucrats are not the authority of which businesses should profit or which should be closed, nor are they the decision makers of who is taxed and who is subsidized. They are additional costs to ensuring that the necessities of the infrastructure needed is put in place.
This Nation was founded on the Principal that each Citizen has the same Rights and equal opportunity as every employee of their government, including the guy that presides over those employees. That's why we call him "the President," rather than the King. It was founded as a Constitutional Republic, not as a democracy, because Our Founders recognized the need for Representatives of the People, and a need to guarantee the Rights of Citizens in the face of politicians and their desire for power.
It is long past time that we recognize the importance of Equal Citizens and the subservience of government to them. It is time that we admit what is "the government" and what is "We, The People." And it is time that when the government acts against a Citizen, we end this propaganda that it is instead "The People" who are acting against a member of their own.
The political debate often degenerates into a call for compassion for the less fortunate. We are asked how anyone could be so cold hearted as to deny handouts to the impoverished. The "progressives" point to wealthy Republicans that only pay millions in taxes on income that had already been taxed, and ask why they shouldn't be taxed more in order to pay more handouts to those in government housing, getting food stamps, and a monthly government check while not working. They claim that the RNC is the party of corporations and the rich, though the richest men in the world are spending hundreds of millions of dollars to elect "progressive" democrats. Though George Soros spreads his wealth to numerous "progressive" groups, from the "occupy" types to "moveon,org," the "progressives" complain that the Koch brothers have donated to grass roots organizations like the Tea Party.
The "conservatives" often reply with figures pointing out how much money Republicans give to Non-Profits, particularly in comparison to the Democrats of the same stature.
There was a time, in America, when a person faced with financial troubles, first turned to family. If family couldn't or wouldn't help, they turned to friends. If they couldn't or wouldn't help, they turned to the church. And the church still has programs to help. There are the "Catholic Social Services," the "Salvation Army," as well as more localized groups like the "Rescue Mission." When people "fall through the cracks," these organizations provide a safety net to pick them up. These organizations are highly effective and efficient, because volunteers prepare meals with donations. The Rescue Mission provides a meal for a cost of under $3, for example. In contrast, it costs Billions in tax dollars to provide food stamps valued at far less, because so many bureaucrats are paid so much to process the paperwork and count the dollars so many times.
But, how compassionate is it, to merely provide a free lunch? To answer this, I must refer to a group of Veterans that worked in Africa. In a war torn and impoverished country, every non-African there was almost instantly beset with beggars. While the locals shopped in open air markets, the westerners shopped at the very few grocery stores in the capital. They had to run a gauntlet of amputees begging for a dollar to get in or out of those stores. The Westerners lived in gated apartments, protected by security guards and rarely ventured out, for fear of the mobs. And most of those Westerners were there as a part of some NGO sent "to help."
The Veterans were there as part of the Security for just such an organization, and they were spread out in small numbers at 3 of the apartments. The boss implemented a rule: Never give money to beggers. He wasn't calloused. He understood the repercussions. He was experienced in the effects.
These Veterans instead, found a way of giving a job to those that wanted or needed money. It didn't take much to make an impact. A "good paying" job in that country was $3/day. When these Veterans went downtown, they might pay a local to "guard" their car, or to wash it, even if it didn't need washing. Sometimes, they paid locals to fill potholes in the road. Sometimes, they would pay to have someone run to the store.
While the internationals there with the NGO's hid behind their walls and feared the diseases on the hands of the locals, the Veterans boldly walked the streets, shaking hands with the Africans, walking with them and talking to them. Discretely, out of view, they'd use some Purell, and shake hands with more locals later on. The locals gleamed when they saw the Veterans, who treated them as humans, even as they begged and guilted the NGO's who pitied them as unclean.
Pity is an injustice. Pity is an emotion that relegates another human as below the one who gives it. While the locals were willing to play on the pity, to beg the NGO's for "a dollar," they gave no respect to, nor received it from those who were "too good" to shake their hands.
One of these Veterans took his boss' rule to a new level. He stepped into the street outside his apartment knowing he'd be beset by beggars. He was. They soon learned there would be no handouts. He made the rule that not only would he not give a handout, but that there would be no begging on the entire street, and then in the entire neighborhood. When he found a particularly industrious young local who had set up a small table (1'x1') to sell sodas to passersby, he "suggested" that another "well-off" local loan him the money to expand his business.
The young businessman turned his table into a 8'x8' shack, and then a 8'x24' restaurant. He went from pushing a wheelbarrel to employing his wife, and then another local.
The street was soon booming with business. Crime stopped. Other internationals began to feel safe walking to the markets. The locals stood straighter. They earned their wages.
But what about the efforts of churches? There were good and bad examples. A bad example was an African "evangelist" who flew in from another African country, preached his sermon for a week, collected bags full of donations, and got on a plane and left with the money. But there were also churches supported internationally who set up schools in every part of the country, spreading knowledge. In a country that was nearly 100% illiterate, a school cost a few hundred to build and very little to teach grade schoolers to read.
There are good and bad in every group of people. In any place that hope is fleeting, there will be wolves that step in to sell snake oil to the impoverished. In every instance that compassion is warranted, there will be those that scam the well-meaning out of their donations. But giving a meal creates a dependency on the giver, while teaching to earn a meal creates an independency and pride that breeds prosperity.
And when those Veterans left that country, the locals cried. They were loved. They were respected, for they had given something greater than money; they had given respect and self-respect. They had not saved the country, but they had positively impacted the lives of those that knew them, even if only for a few minutes.
It seems that the entire political establishment hates the Tea Party these days. The Republican establishment is upset they've stood their ground. The Democratic establishment is upset that they have so much influence. The Progressives call them terrorists and racists and talk show hosts are frustrated that they have no leader and can't be beaten into line.
There are plenty of those that like to pigeon hole people with labels out there, that find it frustrating that there is no real leader in the Tea Party. There are plenty of partisans out there ready to assign the whole of the Tea Party a platform that simply isn't true. And there are plenty of politicians that wish to take on the mantel of leadership of the Tea Party, and to harness its power.
But the Tea Party isn't a political party. It is a political movement. It isn't an organization, but rather a group of Individual Citizens that gather for a common goal: Individual Liberty. By it's very nature, each Individual retains his Right to form opinions on a wide range of issues outside of the basic tenets of small government, relief of burdensome taxation, and supremacy of Individual Rights.
The "Progressives" in particular are scared shitless of the Tea Party. Progressive Authoritarianism has the most to fear from a Citizenry that thinks for itself and stands up for Individual Rights. While the Progressives regularly bus in Unions, Acorn members, and various other groups which march in line to their authoritarian dictates, the Tea Party Citizens show up of their own accord with independent thoughts identified of their own convictions and reasoning.
The biggest threat and biggest advantage of the Tea Party is that disorganization and lack of a leader. There is no single leader to attack into obscurity. True, there are those with loud voices who speak to gatherings of the Tea Party, endorse its principles, and are attacked by the "Progressives," but the Individuals of the Tea Party weigh each speaker on the value of the weight of their arguments. They may or may not find Sarah Palin a valuable spokesman. They are less likely to find Michelle Bachman a great candidate for President.
The Individuals of the Tea Party are more likely to point out the hypocrisy of "feminists" that attack Sarah Palin for successfully balancing family and career than to harbor any ill will for a person based on skin tone or sexual organs.
The Tea Party is the very definition of "grass roots." It draws primarily a working class of Individual. Some are low income and some are middle class. There are even a few of the wealthy. Sure, there are no Michael Moores, or George Soros', or Bill Gates, or Warren Buffets, like the "progressives," the occupiers, or DNC have, but there are some rather wealthy individuals that support the ideals of the Tea Party. The Koch Brothers get a lot of air time, but they don't have the resources that George Soros commits to his vast network of "progressive" propaganda machines.
A rather effective and widespread lie about the Tea Party is that they want to ban abortion. I have no doubt that some Individuals in the Tea Party do believe that it is a human life at the moment of conception and believe that abortion is hence a murder, but abortion is not an agenda of the Tea Party. In fact, there are Tea Party supporters that are staunch supporters of "the right to choose." On the other hand, a greater number of the Tea Party believe that the Federal Governement (and to lesser extents State Governments) have no business funding abortion clinics.
The basis for that opposition to government funding is diverse. For some, it is partially based in the belief that it is a human life, with the Right to be protected from harm, but more widespread is the principle that the 10th Amendment precludes Federal interference in domestic governance, and that taxpayer money should not be spent to subsidize personal choices of individuals.
The core of the Tea Party beliefs is the principal that the US Constitution with its Amendments is the Supreme Law of the Land. The Constitution states that it supercedes all treaties, laws, and State legislation. The Constitution restricts the Federal Government to Foreign Affairs and Interstate issues. It plainly states that everything not authorized to the Federal Government is reserved to State government and Individuals. And immediately, it spells out Rights that are Reserved to Individuals. Those 10 Amendments we call the Bill of Rights are what make up the bulk of Tea Party signs.
"Constitutionalists," "Libertarians," or "Liberals" are all labels that could accurately describe the ideals of the Tea Party. Some would take issue with that last label, on both sides of the aisle, but "liberal" doesn't mean what is popularly perceived. Liberal means, in the political spectrum, a belief in the Rights of Individual Citizens over the authority of governments. It is the opposite of what "progressive" authoritarians want and endorse.
The Tea Party's core principals are that the Individual has Rights which the government does not have authority to remove. While there are members of the Tea Party who believe it immoral and sinful to engage in extramarital sex, as a principle, they do not believe the government has authority to legalize or criminalize what happens between consenting adults.
Pedophilia is a different matter. Current law and modern morals protect those under the age of 18 from contractual agreement. A minor cannot open a bank account or enlist in the military or enter a contractual obligation, without the approval and signature of their parent or guardian. As a general rule, those that support the Tea Party principles believe in Individual Responsibility, and in Parental Responsibility for minors. They don't excuse parents from the responsibility to teach right and wrong, nor authorize the government to indoctrinate those minors with a different set of morals.
One of the most despicable of propaganda lines against the Tea Party is to call them "the American Taliban." This is generally a derivative of those that claim that the Tea Party is primarily formed of Evangelical Christians. While Evangelicals maintain a set of morals that includes that extramarital sex is a sin, that drinking is a sin, and that many other things found in modern society will lead to an eternity in Hell, they do not hold that those things should be criminalized, or that they are the Judge of who is admitted to Heaven or Hell. They believe in the Free Will of humans, and that no one can be forced into a religion or denomination, but that only through true faith, and honest repenting of sin can any be saved. They believe that only God may determine the content of the heart. They believe that the repentant thief (sinner) achieved a place in heaven, but that a charlatan in the pulpit will not. Of course they believe that their beliefs are the right ones, just as Catholics or Buddhists do. If they did not believe so, why would they hold them?
The Evangelicals don't wish to criminalize your sins. They pray for your souls and for their ability to convince you to change your ways. They believe that only by Free Will, and honest, heartfelt choice will you be saved. Of course, it is a natural result that they would support the concepts of Individual Liberty, of your Right to Free Speech, and your Right to the Religion your heart convicts you to believe. You don't have to agree with their religious beliefs to agree with their belief that you have Individual Rights the government has no authority to remove. Evangelicals generally do hold that human life begins in the womb, and hence they often do hold that the defenseless should be protected.
But don't worry, there is no possibility that abortion can be criminalized. It would require a Constitutional Amendment to allow Congress to pass a law making it illegal. It simply isn't even up for debate, no matter how staunchly people hold beliefs in the "Right to Choose" or the "Right to Life." What is up for debate is whether or not Congress can fund groups that fund Abortions or whether State legislatures can codify that a child is born when the head is out of the womb, or that if a baby born alive in a failed abortion must be given the medical care to save its life.
I am not the judge of when life begins. I do not fault those who believe that it is 3 weeks or 3 months, but I do find that if we believe it is human life, we must believe that it is wrong to take that life. If your sincere belief is that it is not life 5 years after birth, then I will not hold you to be a hypocrite for saying that you believe others have the right to take that life, but if you hold that it is a human life at 5 seconds from conception, then I will hold you to be hypocritical if you believe anyone has the "right" to destroy it. I will say that I believe that contraceptives, from abstinence to condoms and "the pill," are responsible measures to avoid unwanted pregnancies, but also that I understand why some would disagree with some or all of those measures. In short, I believe your own conscience must dictate your position on this very sensitive subject. And I respect the conviction of your belief in that, but the reality is that politicians have no authority to overturn Roe v. Wade, and hence it is just an emotional distraction from real issues.
And that is why the Tea Party has supporters that are staunch "Pro-Choice" as well as staunch "Pro-Life."
It is also why you don't see the Tea Party counter-protesting at rallies to legalize marijuana. They believe in the Individual Liberties of Citizens to choose for themselves, even if they don't seem to engage in drugs themselves.
And they believe in Individual Responsibility for one's own actions. In the aftermath of a Tea Party Rally, there is almost no litter on the ground. They throw their trash in the garbage, and even pick up the trash others have left.
This is an extension of their position that an Individual is responsible for their failures at business, or employment, and hence entitled to retain the rewards of those endeavors. It is why you rarely hear members of the Tea Party mention race, even though all races are found in their numbers. They believe each Individual should be judged and rewarded based on their own merits and accomplishments, not the color of their skin. They refuse to accept that one race is too unintelligent and subservient to need special privilege to attain equal results.
It is this belief in Individual Responsibility to form their own opinions and positions and the Individual Right to express those beliefs that makes the Tea Party so uncontrollable and feared by both parties and particularly the authoritarian "progressives." Because the supporters think for themselves, they cannot be beaten into submission by the Republican Party, or threatened to extinction by the Democratic Party. It is why establishment Republicans fear them. They realize that this individual reasoning and decisions based on Constitutional principle can turn on them and throw them out of office if they become tools of corporate lobbyists as easily as it puts other Republicans in office when the Tea Party arose to oppose the abuses of the 2009-10 Pelosi-Reid Congress.
Those like Mitch McConnell, Lamar Alexander, and John McCain are feeling the heat of the Tea Party, because the principled oppose the largesses of the RNC selling out as much as they oppose it when the DNC undermines the Constitution. As a group of Individuals, the Tea Party are unwilling to accept hypocrisy solely because the party in question is closer to their own beliefs. The Tea Party is not about rich or poor, though its supporters are more likely to be workers than employers. So, the millionaire status of Romney didn't bother the Tea Party, but his support for big government did prevent their mobilization in his support.
They opposed the imposition of big government in TARP, in the Patriot Act, in ObamaCare, but were mixed on issues of the Iraq War and cuts to Defense spending. They praise Warren Buffet for his acumen on the stock market, but oppose his support of greater taxation and big government. Rarely though, do they suggest he doesn't have a right to spend tens of millions of dollars to get Obama and Hillary elected, even as they expose the hypocrisy of those that claim the DNC has not sold out to the wealthy.
The Tea Party doesn't demand that you agree with them, but rather hopes to convince you to think for yourself. They don't want to remove your Right to believe things they disagree with, but rather to refuse to allow you to outlaw their Right to believe and speak about what they believe. They absolutely support YOUR Rights as guaranteed in the Bill of Rights. But, that lack of group think means they can't counter the propaganda as a cohesive group. It means that there is a diverse opinion on many non-Tea Party issues.
It is often sloganized that if other countries want Freedom, they should stand up and fight for it themselves. We are not the world's policemen. Yet, in today's America, it is becoming more hypocritical for us to say such things. America has seen a greater loss of Liberty in recent years, than at any time in her history. Sadly, many are not only defending the incursions on Freedom, but cheering it on.
Too many today can't even tell you what the Constitution says, much less why the Bill of Rights was written. While decrying the politicians of the other side of the aisle as heartless, they call for their deaths. While praising the MSM's propaganda for the party, they call for suppression of speech of their countrymen. While demanding tolerance of their own views, they call for the silencing of "Evangelicals." While calling for an end to the war against Islamist Terrorists, they label peaceful protestors in their own land as "American Taliban." In the name of compassion, they defend Obamacare though it has cancelled 100x as many policies as it has provided.
In the name of saving lives, they call for Americans to be denied the Right of Self-Defense. In the name of security, they demand the corraling of fellow citizens through pornographic x-ray machines and sexual assaults by government agents at the airports, and endorse an expansion to sports arenas and trains. In the name of fairness, they call for more earned money to be taken from workers and given to the lazy. In the name of safety, they defend the shootings of unarmed citizens by police forces.
When the US Constitution or Bill of Rights is directly quoted, they proclaim that the plain English must be interpreted. Government officials have actually stated that those quoting the Constitution are to be considered "extremists," and viewed with suspicion, even as the IRS targets political groups which openly endorse it.
And when the IRS seizes papers and properties of those that fail to comply with its demands, the populace cheers it on, never bothering to consider a Citizen's Right to be secure from warrantless searches or seizures. With the advent of digital financial transactions, the mere possession of cash is often considered evidence of criminal activity.
When the NSA is exposed as maintaining a database of every American's every call and text, too many write it off by saying only wrongdoers need fear the government. Nor does the outrage last long when internet usage is added to the database. Judges and politicians on both sides of the aisle defend the "necessity."
When consumers are offered a service in their cars that records their every move, and can be remotely accessed by a corporation far away, they pay for the intrusion. And when government requires all phones to be trackable, they buy them up. When local governments contract out traffic cameras to collect more revenue, subjects of the ruling elite buy into the increased safety, without asking why it pays more to the camera owner than the city government, or why when safety is increased the city removes the former money maker.
"For the greater good," is the excuse used to justify a government takeover of 1/6th of the economy, and "1/6th of the economy" is used as an excuse to claim it falls under "commerce clause," but "commerce clause" is the extent of what they can quote. Even though the extent of their knowledge of the word "interstate" ends with divided highways, they somehow think a doctor and patient fall under it.
While those pesky Veterans who risked their lives and sacrificed their limbs are charged more for the resulting wounds, the same crowd calls for more "stuff" from phones to food to health care to be given to those who have never worked a day in their lives.
In an ironic paradox, people can have equal opportunity or equal (lack of) prosperity, but not both. If people of unequal values and unequal motivation have equal opportunity, they will have unequal results, and if they have equal results, it necessarily means taking from the one that worked harder to achieve than the one that sat back and collected the goods.
As certainly, one cannot successfully call for the suppression of others' Freedoms while having a reasonable expectation of keeping their own. One may be able to justify their desire to remove the right of their neighbor to keep a broken down old car in his lawn by saying it is a health hazard, or that it drives down his own home value, but when they succeed, they open the door for the neighbor to point out that their own shed creates a habitat for rats and is also a health hazard.
And when one calls for the death of a politician of an opposing party, it is a symptom of their own lack of compassion. If your loyalty is to a party before it is loyalty to the Constitution, you are part of the problem. Our system may favor two parties, but until we begin sending Representatives to Washington, instead of power hungry lawyers who get richer beyond their salaries, neither party is our salvation. At best, one is moving us slower towards enslavement than the other. And when either party takes your vote for granted, they will stop caring about what you want or need. When they know you'll parrot their every word, no matter how ludicrous, they won't work too hard to make it believable.
If you praise the SCOTUS for ruling a clearly un-Constitutional law is, you have failed to understand the separation of powers. If you believe a judicial ruling modifies the Constitution, you fail to understand the reason and means of the Amendment process.
It is not in your self-interest that the Federal Government infringes the Rights of your neighbor, and hence of you, nor that the polticians sponsor lobbyist written 2000 page laws in legalese you nor they can comprehend, or that you are breaking IRS regulations that not even their agents know. Ignorance is not an excuse for breaking the law, and breaking those laws means government agents can put you in jail, or take all that you've earned. And guess what, there will always be somebody willing to cheer the IRS or FBI on, for catching you in that crime. Sure, others will decry the abuses, but the chances are that those voices will be fleeting and muted.
Americans, until you stand up for your own Freedoms, and those of your fellow Citizens, you no longer have the moral authority to blame others for failing to stand up for their own, in far more brutal regimes. After all, all you need to do is educate yourself on those Rights, and exercise the Right to Free Speech, and vote for those that do as well, not risk your life fighting tanks and chemicals with shovels and spears.
There's a segment of the population that looks at "preppers" as loons, and much of that comes from the reality that there are some real loons counted amongst the preppers. There's a larger segment of the population that would be reduced to starving lunatics in even a minor natural disaster.
On the other side of the spectrum, environmentalists have taken on a cult like status, with demands that modern conveniences be stripped of everyone to satisfy their doomsday priests of Gore and others.
A man that caters to the high minded environmentalists with more money than sense once told me that the homes he charges more than conventional builders for, can be built by the homeowner for just a few thousand.
Many of those things that have become fashionable and hence expensive are not new at all. They are a return or modification of just plain old Southern common sense. One of the big difference between preppers and environmentalists is how much they pay, and want you to pay, for the same results.
Take organic foods for example. First, what kind of food is non-organic? Yeah, a tomato is organic, whether you buy it at Kroger's or at the Farmer's Market, but if you grow it yourself, you pay about $1/100 lbs instead of $1/lb. More importantly, if you grow it yourself, it has taste, as opposed to just color and texture.
Add a small greenhouse (say 10ft by 4ft) and you can have some fresh vegetables all year round. How expensive that is, is dependent on whether or not you use old windows, or decide to buy a model from Lowe's. How much you pay for dirt depends on whether you buy 5 bags and throw them in the bed of your truck, or have your bed filled up with less than a single scoop for the same price, or have a garden load delivered for the price of 40 bags.
But what about the huge water bill for watering your garden and grass? It's fairly cheap to save your rain for a sunny day. A very small amount of rain on your roof fills a lot of barrels of water. Simply putting some 55 gallon drums on the backside of your house, and connecting them to the downspouts can mean that you have free water during the droughts. Vegetation responds better to rainwater than it does chorinated water out of the city pipes. I'm simplifying it, but your water reserves can be as much or as little as you're willing to build, and you can build roof and walls around it, if you don't want to see it every day. Elevate them a few feet if you don't want to have to use a pump. Gravity is your friend.
If you live in the city, you would probably get fined by the city if you put a chicken coop in your yard, and aren't likely to have space for a cow, but you most likely do have room for enough tomatoes and green peppers to feed you and all your guests (along with any other vegetables you like). If you supplement that with trips to actual farmers instead of overpriced farmer's markets and more expensive upscale grocery stores with "organic" tags requiring 50 page applications to the government, you can add another low cost component of Southern tradition: canning your own food. Pressure cookers aren't just for Islamist terrorists. Pressure canners are low cost one time expenses that lets you can your own food. The jars last for decades and are re-usable. The lids are cheap.
While most households don't have enough food to last a week, by canning fresh vegetables one week a year, you can feed your family for a year, for about the cost of a few weeks' grocery bills.
Freezing meat or even vegetables is another way (and easier) to stock up on food and save money. My family used to buy a side of beef and a pig every year. Chicken was bought whole and frozen at the grocery store, when it was on sale. At the bottom of the freezer were several gallon jugs of ice. In the event of a power outage, it kept the frozen stuff frozen, and supplied potable water if the city supply was contaminated. During parties, we would chip it up for drinks, but a gallon block of ice lasts a lot longer (days) than a bag of ice. Freezers are most efficient when full, and if at least half full will hold the cold for the first few days of a power outage. (Stop looking inside and it'll stay frozen longer.)
A side of beef costs about $300 these days, plus processing fees if you're not willing to butcher it yourself. (That could be well worth the costs.) That's a years worth of meat for a good sized family, for a weekly grocery bill.
Freezers are one of the few things you can still buy that are made in America. Please, take the time to find one made here. That means the smallest you can get is 8.5 cubic feet, but that's still fairly small. And please, make a point of asking where it's made, even if you know the answer. Make the salesman learn that Americans still care, and where to find out the answer. The busy time for freezer sales is in the fall, when others are putting their vegetables up. Think ahead. And freezers have few moving parts. They last decades. Even 30 or 40 year old freezers are pretty efficient. You can buy a used one and likely need to do no more than replace the seal, which is fairly easy and cheap. The best time to get a used one will likely be in the winter or spring, when the year's harvest is being emptied. A lot of times, the seller is moving to the big city and doesn't have room for it in the apartment.
But, if you decide to freeze food, it's a good idea to have a generator on hand. Don't wait for the news to announce a pending catastrophe. Buy yourself a generator at a time of your choosing when they go on sale and people aren't running scared, and when you have a few extra bucks to spend. You may not need your generator for a while after you buy it, but be sure you have all you need to run it: power cords/connections, oil, gas, etc. Do yourself a favor and get one rated at 5500 watts or more. Those little 1000 watt jobs won't even run a space heater or coffee pot.
Speaking of space heaters, pick up a couple. If it's a winter storm that knocks out power, you'll be able to heat a room or two with some 1500 watt heaters. If it's summer, it'll keep your freezer frozen, and run some box fans, and the fridge. I use a 1500 watt space heater in my bathroom. It means I only heat up a small space to not freeze my balls off when I get out of the shower. I crank it up to 75 and when I step out of the shower, the small room is toasty, while the rest of the house is comfortable.
I'm a big fan of putting work in on the front end, so I don't have to do as much in the future. That's why I like fruit trees. Plant them once, and after a few years and for decades, it literally drops fruit in your lap (if you put your chair under it). Do a little research and find out which types of the fruit you like that will grow in your area, but whether you like peaches, pears, or strawberries, there is likely a variety that will thrive in your yard. Blueberries make a beautiful privacy hedge. Combine this with freezing and canning, and you'll have healthy treats and desserts all year round. Plan it out right and you can have fresh fruit from spring until fall.
It's not a bad idea to add the component of dry storage to your plan. Grains like rice can last years if stored right. Rice is pretty cheap and despite the lack of common knowledge in America on the variety of recipes for rice, most of the rest of the world literally lives off the stuff. There are places in the world where a meal without rice is not considered to be a meal at all. There's probably enough different rice recipes to eat a different version every day for a year. If you buy the 100lb bags, you can get it cheap and literally have enough to eat for years. Add some broth cubes and the rice will be tastier without adding a lot to the storage requirements. Add some sugar storage and you have room for dessert recipes.
Do you realize that only a few decades ago, air conditioning was considered a luxury, even in the deep South? Today, people rarely open their windows. They go from heating the house to cooling the house. Ceiling fans are one way to get some air flow, but simply opening windows at the top on one side of the house and at the bottom on the other side will keep it cool, and with fresher air than the best filter you can put in your HVAC system. And if you want to speed that up, put a box fan in the window on the North side of the house.
The norm in the South used to be to have a kerosene heater in the living room. For the most part, this was sufficient and was a lot cheaper than the cost of HVAC or the energy used by it. In the North, they needed a wood stove. Today, you can get a wood stove that is outside the living area and supplements the HVAC. Not only does it save a bunch of money, but it works whether the electric company is or not. Other models of wood stoves, double as a stove. That's a great way to purify your water. Kerosene may be a good backup system, but the fumes can be deadly, or at least depressing.
Rarely do you see stone homes built anymore and they're usually reserved for the rich and famous, but stone is not only more durable, but retains heat. You need to know one primary thing when building with stone: gravity. Everything else builds on the fact that gravity is pulling the stone straight down. If you're willing to put in the work, you can build an awesome sun room on the south side of your house that acts as a passive solar heating system for your house. The deeper you make the stone floor, the better it will soak in the sun's heat during the day, and release it through the night. Keep your south facing walls full of windows to let the light in to heat the floor. Put some fruit trees south of that to shade the sun in the summer, and include a wide soffit (two foot) and when you open the windows in the summer, it'll be an enjoyable place to be, as well as in the winter's warmth. The most expensive part of stone structures is the labor. The next most expensive part is the cost of transportation which is passed off in the cost of the stone. Stone is heavy, but is often found just inches under the dirt, where people complain that it makes digging difficult.
When you live in the country, you learn to embrace Nature's Laws, because Nature doesn't care if it hurts your feelings. The Laws of Nature don't care if you want water to run uphill or for lions to lay down with lambs. Lions will eat and water will run down hill. It's a lot easier to catch water on the down side of the hill and for lions to feed on gazelles at the watering hole. If you find yourself fighting nature, take a step back, look at Nature's way of things, and see how that will help you get what you want.
Now, many live in the city, and even in apartments, and much of this can't be done while renting, particularly while renting an apartment. It's why I've never liked living in an apartment and felt like a caged animal when I have. It's not healthy and it breeds the kind of short term thinking and futilism that big government thrives on. It creates dependency. Some will tell me that they have no choice, but that's simply not true. There are still places in this Nation where you can rent a house, a decent house, for $400 to $500 a month or buy land for less than $2000/acre. These are generally places where people believe in Individual Liberty and Personal Responsibility, but often are distant from the big city and "high paying jobs." Of course, if you cut your bills down by $12,000 a year, then you're still keeping more money if you take a $10,000/year paycut.
And if you just can't cut your ties to the big city jobs, well, there's always the possibility of commuting. Getting just a few miles out of the suburbs can make it financially worthwhile to spend more money on gas. That's what caused the suburbs to grow. One place I know of is 20 minutes from 2 small cities and one medium sized. It's literally easier for those small town folks (and the surrounding countryside) to get to anything they could want "in town" than it is for a New Yorker in the urban jungle. Along one of the roads, there's a natural spring the locals get their free water from, that is purer than anything you can buy in a store. They buy most things locally, but when needed will make the trip to Wal-Mart or Lowe's in the big city 20 minutes away, on the way to or from work.
Being prepared doesn't make you a loon. Saving money doesn't make you an environmental whacko. Doing a few little things can make your life a lot more stress free and comfortable. Though solar power may still be more expensive than the power company, it's not a bad idea to have a few panels, and some devices that run on 12 volt DC, or a power inverter for those things that only come in AC. It may mean the difference between having lights when the power is off and the gas is sold out, or not. When you're shopping for things for solar systems, look at auto parts and truckers supply stores. Truckers live in their rigs and there are a lot of 12 volt appliances. It's more efficient that trying to invert it to AC. More efficient means fewer batteries and fewer panels.
And those solar lights are a lot easier to install than the AC versions anyway. If the power is out, you can literally bring them inside at night.
Candles are another cheap source of light (and potentially heat) as well. Store them in the basement, not the attic, and they'll last until you need them.
Today's society is very dependent on technology. The more "advanced" it gets, the more likely it gets that a small snafu can cause widespread outages and panics. The list of things that can cause a need to be prepared grows along with the number of people that become dependent on technology. But when a hurricane or programming error knocks out power across entire regions is not the time to prepare and even your wireless tablet will be useless in a matter of hours. Add to that, the component of those calling for revolutions, as well as the long running terrorist threat, and disasters can be natural, man-made, or stupid errors of a low level bureacrat or utility worker. Be prepared, not paranoid.
The youth do not always understand the realities of the world around them. Often, their view is tainted by distortions taught to them. Through the lens of history, present reality and future possibilities and probabilities become more clear. When that clarity presents inconsistencies, we should look deeper in history to find the missing pieces.
Today's America is not just fundamentally different from that of the 80's, the 1780's, 1880's, and even the 1980's, it is the exact opposite of the Nation founded by Our Forefathers. This is not just recognized by "The Tea Party" but evidenced by those, including the Department of Homeland Security, which identifies those that quote the Constitution, as "extremists." A sizable portion of the population sees no issue with the present state of America. Many have accepted today's reality as an acceptable trade of "a little Liberty for security." Many justify the incursions into their lives with "if you're doing nothing wrong then you have no reason to fear" the government tracking your words and deeds.
These changes will continue, in the wrong direction, until the People themselves understand why they should not accept them, and send Representatives to Washington to stop them. The People will not come to this understanding, until someone or some persons, can effectively communicate why they should stand up for Liberty, instead of accept the suppression of it. The Constitution was not blindly accepted in 1788. Those that believed in it presented their case, to the People.
Those that opposed it, presented the opposing view. Neither side were convinced that just because they said it was the best plan, the People would just blindly accept it. They may have been some of the smartest people in the room, but they understood that they had to present their case to convince others of the value of the plan.
That is the component missing in today's politics. Today, politicians expect that because they said so, or because the party says so, the partymembers should endorse it. And too often, most often, the members do and then call the opposition names for opposing it, and for supporting their own politicians' policies, blindly. Most legislation is written in legalese even the politicians cannot understand, much less those calling others names for not supporting or opposing the latest bill. Even the budget has grown so complex that few, if anyone, including lawmakers, know where it all goes.
Too often the means are confused with the ends. Too often the ends are used as justification for the means. For example, no piece of equipment or metal is inherently evil, or good. It is just a tool. An Unmanned Aerial Vehicle, UAV, UAS, or drone if you prefer, is not inherently evil. It is a tool, that can be used wisely, and within the confines of International Law and the Constitution, or it can be used in contradiction to it, whether armed or not. While the use of drones is not specifically covered in the Geneva Conventions or the Constitution, both have provisions which makes clear legal and illegal uses.
International Law affords a Nation sovereignity over its airspace. Incursions into that airspace can be considered an act of war, particularly if that incursion is used to drop explosives on the land of that Sovereign Nation. The Geneva Convention forbids the targeting of non-combatants. It really doesn't matter if the invasion of airspace is manned or not. When drones invade the airspace of a Sovereign Nation and drop bombs on a civilian TV station, it is not only an act of war, but a war crime.
The Constitution, or more specifically, the Bill of Rights, guarantees US Citizens the God-given Right to be secure in their persons, their homes, their effects, and their papers. If drones are used to usurp that Right, then it is the incursion, not the vehicle which is un-Constitutional.
How is today's America fundamentally different than the Nation which was founded? It begins with the most fundamental provisions of the Constitution. The Constitution lays out the authorities and responsibilities of the Federal Government. It lays out the means of the branches of government and the authorities of each. Often, the "three branches of government" are discussed along with "the 4th estate" or "branch" being used to describe the press. One could more readily make the case that "the 4th branch" is State government.
The Constitution is clear. The role of the federal government is Foreign Affairs, almost exclusively. It requires the maintenance of a Navy. It allows the raising of an Army. It places the making and agreeing to of treaties as exclusively that of the federal government, but also the minting of a common currency and establishment of postal roads. It requires that all actions of the Federal Government be fair in treatment of all States, but limits the legislative power of the Federal Government to that of Interstate Commerce.
Internally, the Constitution preserves the Right of People to be governed by a republican form of government by the individual State, while requiring the States to respect the Rights of Citizens of other States.
Juxtapose that with the current situation in which the Federal Government requires residents of the Nation to buy certain things and forbids them from buying other things.
Why would it be better for the State Government to make laws for the Citizenry? Well, the people of Arizona face different situations than do the people of New York. It is far more necessary for the people of the peninsula of Florida to have a law forbidding the tying of an alligator to a fire hydrant, than for the peninsula of Michigan. The residents of Massachusetts are far more supportive of paying more taxes for mandatory health care, than are the Citizens of Tennessee.
And the votes of each resident is far more important to a candidate for Mayor than Governor than President. So too are the votes of each resident more important to candidates for Councilman than State Representative than House Representative than Senator. Simply put, you have more power when you pull the lever for Councilman, than for Senator. Hence, that Councilman is going to listen more closely when you voice your opposition to municipal laws and policies than is a Senator, or the President. That is amplified by the fact that so few actually pay attention to the local levels.
The Founders had experienced the abuses of an unresponsive ruler. They understood the frustration of having no non-violent means to remove a tyrant. They wrote the Constitution to preserve the Rights of the People and limit the abuses of a ruler. They gave us a peaceful means to remove the abuser and to correct the course.
They had concerns over the abuses of a standing Army. America's military is unique in the world. Nearly every other country in the world uses their military in a law enforcement capacity, and the British Army of 1770 was one such example. It was used to enforce the dictates of the King on the American Colonists, with the power to arrest and to seize property of Colonists. When the Founders wrote the limitation of funding a Standing Army to two years at a time, it was not to prevent foreign wars, but to prevent incursions on the American People. The intent was closer to preventing a Standing Department of Homeland Security than to prevent Bagram Air Base.
The Founders did not desire a weak defense. Quite the contrary, they recognized the need for a strong defense. They required the provision of a Navy and considered every man to be a member of the Militia. How much stronger a defense can be mounted than one in which every man is ready to fend off invaders?
They recognized that all the limitations of the Constitution and their individual recognitions that Individuals had Rights given by God would not prevent a ruler of tyrannical desire to usurp those Rights. So immediately, upon ratification of the Constitution, and even contingent to ratifying it, they drafted the Bill of Rights. Ten of the twelve Amendments were ratified in less than 16 months, in a time where communication relied on horse borne messengers and ships.
When the Press is caught stealing information they have no authority to have or making accusations without presenting the accuser, they cry "First Amendment Rights," and when atheists decry a nativity scene or a cross, they claim the First Amendment requires a "separation of church and state," but the 1st Amendment clearly states the Citizen's Right to Free Speech, including in religion, the Press, and as a gathering, in Protest. It does not forbid a child from saying a prayer, nor even the teacher. On the contrary, it protects their Right to do so. It does not forbid a person, or group, from speaking out against the policies of the President. It protects that person or group from retaliation by the organs of government.
The 16th Amendment makes the Income Tax Constitutional, but it does not override the 4th Amendment, which preserves the Right of the People from unlawful/warrantless search and seizure of property, to include their persons, papers, and effects. It is necessary for a government to have funds, but the Constitution requires that the taxes be collected fairly. The Founders forbid seizures of property because a government can use that threat as a means to threaten a people into the will of a ruler, without the rule of law. The Founders recognized that the People had a God-Given Right to the fruits of their own labors, to include leaving those fruits in inheritance to whom they pleased.
The federal government still collects all of the taxes that funded it prior to 1913 when the 16th Amendment was passed, and yet the only time in American History that the federal government was not in debt was under Andrew Jackson, long before there was an income tax. It is true that there have been times when there was not a budget deficit, as recently as the late 90's when Gingrich compromised with Clinton to not spend as much on things the other didn't like, but only under President Jackson was there a surplus in the Treasury.
So, how did Jackson bring about a surplus while collecting taxes from fewer resources and expanding the Nation? He budgeted within the confines of what Congress allowed him and within the confines of what the Constitution allowed. The States ran domestic affairs. The federal government concerned itself with external threats (including the threat by the Indian Nations within the Nation).
Why is it important that you not curtail the Rights of your neighbor, and stand up for those Rights, even when you dislike him, or what he is doing on his property? Because if you support the curtailing of the Rights of other Citizens, you also curtail your own Rights. Because if you are successful in curtailing their Rights by force of majorities, other majorities will curtail the Rights you believe yourself entitled to have.
It does not matter how deep I hold my convictions in the importance of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. It does not matter how important those Rights are, if the majority of the Nation is willing to sacrifice their Rights in order to curtail mine. It does not matter how many times I attempt to convince the People of that importance of their Rights and mine, if they remain unconvinced. If we are to return this Nation to a course of Liberty and the Prosperity that Liberty brings, a convincing voice must be found.
Experience demonstrates that few find my voice convincing. This article demonstrates that still today I have not learned the means of messaging to a Nation lost by more than 140 characters. In 2000 words or more, I still haven't touched on the abuses of the Constitution in today's America, much less a convincing argument to change course. I can only hope that it plants the seeds to bring about such a voice. I can only pray that government will recognize my Rights in my part of my domain, and allow me to live in peace, but I fear that like David, they want my meager possessions, despite their possession of so much more, and my history in their service.
It is counterproductive for party leaders and hacks to step up to their bully pulpits and insult the people who follow the opposition. It is an insult for partisans to demand blind adherence to a party leader and platform. An intelligent and educated people can be led astray. It is long past time for a leader to demonstrate the evidence of why we must return to the governance of the Constitution.
Many today, think of the US Constitution as the original Constitution of the United States. It often slips their notice that there is a gap between 1776 and 1787. Most regard George Washington as the 1st President, though he was inaugurated in 1789. There were 10 Presidents from 1777 to 1788, each serving a year, beginning with Samuel Huntington. They served under the Articles of Confederation:
Nov. 15, 1777
To all to whom these Presents shall come, we the undersigned Delegates of the States affixed to our Names send greeting.
Articles of Confederation and perpetual Union between the states of New Hampshire, Massachusetts-bay Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia.
The Stile of this Confederacy shall be "The United States of America".
Each state retains its sovereignty, freedom, and independence, and every power, jurisdiction, and right, which is not by this Confederation expressly delegated to the United States, in Congress assembled.
The said States hereby severally enter into a firm league of friendship with each other, for their common defense, the security of their liberties, and their mutual and general welfare, binding themselves to assist each other, against all force offered to, or attacks made upon them, or any of them, on account of religion, sovereignty, trade, or any other pretense whatever.
The better to secure and perpetuate mutual friendship and intercourse among the people of the different States in this Union, the free inhabitants of each of these States, paupers, vagabonds, and fugitives from justice excepted, shall be entitled to all privileges and immunities of free citizens in the several States; and the people of each State shall free ingress and regress to and from any other State, and shall enjoy therein all the privileges of trade and commerce, subject to the same duties, impositions, and restrictions as the inhabitants thereof respectively, provided that such restrictions shall not extend so far as to prevent the removal of property imported into any State, to any other State, of which the owner is an inhabitant; provided also that no imposition, duties or restriction shall be laid by any State, on the property of the United States, or either of them.
If any person guilty of, or charged with, treason, felony, or other high misdemeanor in any State, shall flee from justice, and be found in any of the United States, he shall, upon demand of the Governor or executive power of the State from which he fled, be delivered up and removed to the State having jurisdiction of his offense.
Full faith and credit shall be given in each of these States to the records, acts, and judicial proceedings of the courts and magistrates of every other State.
For the most convenient management of the general interests of the United States, delegates shall be annually appointed in such manner as the legislatures of each State shall direct, to meet in Congress on the first Monday in November, in every year, with a powerreserved to each State to recall its delegates, or any of them, at any time within the year, and to send others in their stead for the remainder of the year.
No State shall be represented in Congress by less than two, nor more than seven members; and no person shall be capable of being a delegate for more than three years in any term of six years; nor shall any person, being a delegate, be capable of holding any office under the United States, for which he, or another for his benefit, receives any salary, fees or emolument of any kind.
Each State shall maintain its own delegates in a meeting of the States, and while they act as members of the committee of the States.
In determining questions in the United States in Congress assembled, each State shall have one vote.
Freedom of speech and debate in Congress shall not be impeached or questioned in any court or place out of Congress, and the members of Congress shall be protected in their persons from arrests or imprisonments, during the time of their going to and from, and attendence on Congress, except for treason, felony, or breach of the peace.
No State, without the consent of the United States in Congress assembled, shall send any embassy to, or receive any embassy from, or enter into any conference, agreement, alliance or treaty with any King, Prince or State; nor shall any person holding any office of profit or trust under the United States, or any of them, accept any present, emolument, office or title of any kind whatever from any King, Prince or foreign State; nor shall the United States in Congress assembled, or any of them, grant any title of nobility.
No two or more States shall enter into any treaty, confederation or alliance whatever between them, without the consent of the United States in Congress assembled, specifying accurately the purposes for which the same is to be entered into, and how long it shall continue.
No State shall lay any imposts or duties, which may interfere with any stipulations in treaties, entered into by the United States in Congress assembled, with any King, Prince or State, in pursuance of any treaties already proposed by Congress, to the courts of France and Spain.
No vessel of war shall be kept up in time of peace by any State, except such number only, as shall be deemed necessary by the United States in Congress assembled, for the defense of such State, or its trade; nor shall any body of forces be kept up by any State in time of peace, except such number only, as in the judgement of the United States in Congress assembled, shall be deemed requisite to garrison the forts necessary for the defense of such State; but every State shall always keep up a well-regulated and disciplined militia, sufficiently armed and accoutered, and shall provide and constantly have ready for use, in public stores, a due number of filed pieces and tents, and a proper quantity of arms, ammunition and camp equipage.
No State shall engage in any war without the consent of the United States in Congress assembled, unless such State be actually invaded by enemies, or shall have received certain advice of a resolution being formed by some nation of Indians to invade such State, and the danger is so imminent as not to admit of a delay till the United States in Congress assembled can be consulted; nor shall any State grant commissions to any ships or vessels of war, nor letters of marque or reprisal, except it be after a declaration of war by the United States in Congress assembled, and then only against the Kingdom or State and the subjects thereof, against which war has been so declared, and under such regulations as shall be established by the United States in Congress assembled, unless such State be infested by pirates, in which case vessels of war may be fitted out for that occasion, and kept so long as the danger shall continue, or until the United States in Congress assembled shall determine otherwise.
When land forces are raised by any State for the common defense, all officers of or under the rank of colonel, shall be appointed by the legislature of each State respectively, by whom such forces shall be raised, or in such manner as such State shall direct, and all vacancies shall be filled up by the State which first made the appointment.
All charges of war, and all other expenses that shall be incurred for the common defense or general welfare, and allowed by the United States in Congress assembled, shall be defrayed out of a common treasury, which shall be supplied by the several States in proportion to the value of all land within each State, granted or surveyed for any person, as such land and the buildings and improvements thereon shall be estimated according to such mode as the United States in Congress assembled, shall from time to time direct and appoint.
The taxes for paying that proportion shall be laid and levied by the authority and direction of the legislatures of the several States within the time agreed upon by the United States in Congress assembled.
The United States in Congress assembled, shall have the sole and exclusive right and power of determining on peace and war, except in the cases mentioned in the sixth article
The United States in Congress assembled shall also be the last resort on appeal in all disputes and differences now subsisting or that hereafter may arise between two or more States concerning boundary, jurisdiction or any other causes whatever; which authority shall always be exercised in the manner following. Whenever the legislative or executive authority or lawful agent of any State in controversy with another shall present a petition to Congress stating the matter in question and praying for a hearing, notice thereof shall be given by order of Congress to the legislative or executive authority of the other State in controversy, and a day assigned for the appearance of the parties by their lawful agents, who shall then be directed to appoint by joint consent, commissioners or judges to constitute a court for hearing and determining the matter in question: but if they cannot agree, Congress shall name three persons out of each of the United States, and from the list of such persons each party shall alternately strike out one, the petitioners beginning, until the number shall be reduced to thirteen; and from that number not less than seven, nor more than nine names as Congress shall direct, shall in the presence of Congress be drawn out by lot, and the persons whose names shall be so drawn or any five of them, shall be commissioners or judges, to hear and finally determine the controversy, so always as a major part of the judges who shall hear the cause shall agree in the determination: and if either party shall neglect to attend at the day appointed, without showing reasons, which Congress shall judge sufficient, or being present shall refuse to strike, the Congress shall proceed to nominate three persons out of each State, and the secretary of Congress shall strike in behalf of such party absent or refusing; and the judgement and sentence of the court to be appointed, in the manner before prescribed, shall be final and conclusive; and if any of the parties shall refuse to submit to the authority of such court, or to appear or defend their claim or cause, the court shall nevertheless proceed to pronounce sentence, or judgement, which shall in like manner be final and decisive, the judgement or sentence and other proceedings being in either case transmitted to Congress, and lodged among the acts of Congress for the security of the parties concerned: provided that every commissioner, before he sits in judgement, shall take an oath to be administered by one of the judges of the supreme or superior court of the State, where the cause shall be tried, 'well and truly to hear and determine the matter in question, according to the best of his judgement, without favor, affection or hope of reward': provided also, that no State shall be deprived of territory for the benefit of the United States.
All controversies concerning the private right of soil claimed under different grants of two or more States, whose jurisdictions as they may respect such lands, and the States which passed such grants are adjusted, the said grants or either of them being at the same time claimed to have originated antecedent to such settlement of jurisdiction, shall on the petition of either party to the Congress of the United States, be finally determined as near as may be in the same manner as is before presecribed for deciding disputes respecting territorial jurisdiction between different States.
The United States in Congress assembled shall also have the sole and exclusive right and power of regulating the alloy and value of coin struck by their own authority, or by that of the respective States
The United States in Congress assembled shall have authority to appoint a committee, to sit in the recess of Congress, to be denominated 'A Committee of the States', and to consist of one delegate from each State; and to appoint such other committees and civil officers as may be necessary for managing the general affairs of the United States under their direction
The United States in Congress assembled shall never engage in a war, nor grant letters of marque or reprisal in time of peace, nor enter into any treaties or alliances, nor coin money, nor regulate the value thereof, nor ascertain the sums and expenses necessary for the defense and welfare of the United States, or any of them, nor emit bills, nor borrow money on the credit of the United States, nor appropriate money, nor agree upon the number of vessels of war, to be built or purchased, or the number of land or sea forces to be raised, nor appoint a commander in chief of the army or navy, unless nine States assent to the same: nor shall a question on any other point, except for adjourning from day to day be determined, unless by the votes of the majority of the United States in Congress assembled.
The Congress of the United States shall have power to adjourn to any time within the year, and to any place within the United States, so that no period of adjournment be for a longer duration than the space of six months, and shall publish the journal of their proceedings monthly, except such parts thereof relating to treaties, alliances or military operations, as in their judgement require secrecy; and the yeas and nays of the delegates of each State on any question shall be entered on the journal, when it is desired by any delegates of a State, or any of them, at his or their request shall be furnished with a transcript of the said journal, except such parts as are above excepted, to lay before the legislatures of the several States.
The Committee of the States, or any nine of them, shall be authorized to execute, in the recess of Congress, such of the powers of Congress as the United States in Congress assembled, by the consent of the nine States, shall from time to time think expedient to vest them with; provided that no power be delegated to the said Committee, for the exercise of which, by the Articles of Confederation, the voice of nine States in the Congress of the United States assembled be requisite.
Canada acceding to this confederation, and adjoining in the measures of the United States, shall be admitted into, and entitled to all the advantages of this Union; but no other colony shall be admitted into the same, unless such admission be agreed to by nine States.
All bills of credit emitted, monies borrowed, and debts contracted by, or under the authority of Congress, before the assembling of the United States, in pursuance of the present confederation, shall be deemed and considered as a charge against the United States, for payment and satisfaction whereof the said United States, and the public faith are hereby solemnly pleged.
Every State shall abide by the determination of the United States in Congress assembled, on all questions which by this confederation are submitted to them. And the Articles of this Confederation shall be inviolably observed by every State, and the Union shall be perpetual; nor shall any alteration at any time hereafter be made in any of them; unless such alteration be agreed to in a Congress of the United States, and be afterwards confirmed by the legislatures of every State.
And Whereas it hath pleased the Great Governor of the World to incline the hearts of the legislatures we respectively represent in Congress, to approve of, and to authorize us to ratify the said Articles of Confederation and perpetual Union. Know Ye that we the undersigned delegates, by virtue of the power and authority to us given for that purpose, do by these presents, in the name and in behalf of our respective constituents, fully and entirely ratify and confirm each and every of the said Articles of Confederation and perpetual Union, and all and singular the matters and things therein contained: And we do further solemnly plight and engage the faith of our respective constituents, that they shall abide by the determinations of the United States in Congress assembled, on all questions, which by the said Confederation are submitted to them. And that the Articles thereof shall be inviolably observed by the States we respectively represent, and that the Union shall be perpetual.
In Witness whereof we have hereunto set our hands in Congress. Done at Philadelphia in the State of Pennsylvania the ninth day of July in the Year of our Lord One Thousand Seven Hundred and Seventy-Eight, and in the Third Year of the independence of America.
Agreed to by Congress 15 November 1777
In force after ratification by Maryland, 1 March 1781
I am sorry, but let me be clear: What you have done to our precious Fallen Heroes (and their families) of our Military, has crossed MY 'red line'. For your betrayal of that most sacred trust we all must hold with them, YOU are not fit to hold the highest office in the land I know and love as America. You are also not remotely qualified - or worthy - to have the privilege of being Commander In Chief of one of the world's most dedicated armed forces: the United States Military.
Not only are you unqualified to be the President of the United States, you are also an out and out liar, and our Military and their families now are left in no doubt how hollow your words are:
In March 2009 you said, as part of another of your never-ending empty rhetoric diatribes:
"For their service and sacrifice, warm words of thanks from a grateful nation are more than warranted, but they aren't nearly enough. We also owe our veterans the care they were promised and the benefits that they have earned. We have a sacred trust with those who wear the uniform of the United States of America. It's a commitment that begins at enlistment, and it must never end. But we know that for too long, we've fallen short of meeting that commitment. Too many wounded warriors go without the care that they need. Too many veterans don't receive the support that they've earned. Too many who once wore our nation's uniform now sleep in our nation's streets."
It does not surprise me that the most powerful politicians and their appointees feel impervious to the constraints of the Constitution. Those that seek power, ferociously guard the power they've attained, while seeking more to obtain. They'll do whatever they can get away with to obtain and retain power. It's as a natural a characteristic as a lion eating a gazelle. In recognition of that, the Founders constrained the government and politicians, and emplaced protections and rights for the People.
What astounds me is that the American People are not outraged by the abuses of power exposed in recent weeks and months. It has been one scandal after another, each more comprehensive and abusive than the one before it. It is more surprising that some of the media has condemned some of the scandals than that they've worked overtime to condone the scandals.
This cycle began with Benghazi, and an obvious lie by the Administration that it was 'just a protest turned violent.' It took months, but Congress was beginning to get to the heart of the matter, that the Administration wasn't just asleep at the wheel, but willfully turned the lights and phones off. It ignored months' worth of pleas from diplomats for more security, including on the day of the attack. It ordered re-inforcements to not assist. Those who work for the State Department should have been upset. Those with a military background are and were angry.
More recently, we learned that the IRS was targeting the ruling party's opponents. The IRS has become a tool and force to paralyze the effectiveness of groups that support the US Constitution, and call for smaller government. Supporters of the party in power were less apt to be upset than those that were affected by the un-Constitutional targeting by an arm of the Government.
Then we learned that the Justice Department had seized the phone records of AP employees and a Fox news journalist. The MSM was finally mad. True Americans of every stripe condemned the seizures as unlawful, and against the 4th Amendment.
More recently, we learned that a Judge had ordered Verizon to provide the data of every single one of it's customers to the NSA. The information collected is so enormous that the data is updated every single day. Then we learned the NSA was also collecting information via Google, Facebook, and other web based programs, with a program called "Prism." The internet giants deny they accepted their role in it, but that doesn't mean much. The government may have worked with or without the permission of the corporations. Nor can we reasonably expect honesty from those corporations, particularly since they are already snooping on their users.
The worst part about that is not that leaders of both parties knew about it, and defend it, but that so few Americans find anything wrong with it. The Politician in Chief has confirmed that the programs exist, and defends the "necessity" of it. The Speaker of the House defends the program. The Senate Minority Leader condemns not the program, but the individual that leaked evidence of it. There's no one truly denying that the government is spying on every single American, on either side of the aisle, and very few that say there's anything wrong with it.
Sure, there are a few Americans out there screaming bloody murder about the obvious and serious abuses of the Bill of Rights by the government, and they are the same ones that have been trying to wake up Americans for years. At a time like this, those that have been noting the abuses for years, should be sitting back and thanking newcomers to reality. The public outrage should be deafening.
So, why isn't it? The fact that leaders of both parties support this infringement of the 4th Amendment, of the Right to Privacy, silences the partisan loyalists of both parties. The fact that so many Americans have no idea what the 4th Amendment is, or what it says, or why it says it, means that too many Americans are too ignorant to know why this action is un-Constitutional, and as such, inherently illegal. Because too many are too ignorant of the differnce between the powers of Congress versus powers of the Judiciary, they don't understand why a FISA court was a necessity, or why a judge's order does not make an illegal act, legal.
In recent years, Americans have come to accept that a court ruling is sufficient to amend the US Constitution. Not even the Supreme Court has the Constitutional Authority to change the Constitution. In fact, the process of amending the Constitution does not have any judicial component at all.
The bottom line is this: If the events and scandals of 2013 have not awoken the People, it will take the kind of door to door searches the Boston Police executed on a Million subjects of Massachusetts, but then again, they willingly accepted that as well. And if the voice of Veterans and Patriots cannot wake up the American People, then I am wasting my time. If the American People cannot be pried away from American Idol, the Voice, and Survivor long enough to give a shit about their own Freedoms, and those of their neighbors, If they are more concerned with forcing their neighbor to pay for things they don't want, and preventing their neighbors from doing what they do want, on their own property, to understand that their own neighbors will curtail their own rights on their own property, then I am wasting my time.
It does not matter how many terrorists are killed abroad, if we enact a tyranny across the board at home. But let me remind those out there, that believe the rising tyranny at home means a call to revolution: If you can't wake the People up with words, violence will not return us to a Constitutional Republic. If the People themselves prefer giving up their Rights in order to lull themselves to sleep with a false belief that they've attained some security, committing further violence will only entrench them more into calls for greater incursions of Freedom.
Since the people have accepted their road to serfdom, they will only be awoken by the chains and whips of their master. That may come too late. But the time nears, that I become more selfish, that I look only to my own Freedoms. My own dependency on technologies is small in comparison to most. When the self-absorbed awaken to their guard towers abandoned, it's on them, not those that guarded Freedom for half their lives.
Evidently, the Federal Government considers us ALL co-conspirators to terrorism. The Administration may refuse to call the Boston Bombers or the Fort Hood Shooter, or the Little Rock Shooter, or the Panty Bomber, or the Times Square Bomber, or any other Islamist, a terrorist. It may have collected their phone records, their internet activity, and everything else, along with yours and mine, but the Constitutional bar, for a warrant to be issued to collect your information, is that there must be evidence of criminal activity. So, that FISA judge, Roger Vinson, must have concluded that ALL Americans are co-conspirators to terrorists.
Meanwhile, the Supreme Court, with blatant disregard for the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and in particular the 4th Amendment, has decided that any person, innocent or not, without warrant, can be forced to provide his DNA.
The Constitution does not give the Supreme Court the authority to alter the Constitution or any amendment to it. It expressly does not give the Supreme Court the authority to write laws, only to rule on the laws Congress writes, and the Pressident passes, and toss out that legislation that is not authorized by the Constitution.
The precedent had been set. The IRS has ignored the 4th and 5th Amendments for decades. More recently it has become the political arm of the Administration, abusing its powers in order to interrogate officers of non-profit organizations on their politics, donors, and supporters, auditing those that oppose the politics of its unions, and holding up the approval process of those that it believes to be politically opposed to their bosses.
Only a few months ago, when the "Prism" program of spying on ALL Americans failed to stop Chechnyan Islamist Terrorists from exploding their pressure cookers at the Boston Marathon, the Boston Police ordered a million citizens to a lockdown, as they conducted a house to house search, again, without success of finding the bomber. They used military technology in aircraft to search the houses, yards, and bushes. But in the end, it was a vigilant citizen outside of the lockdowned area, who alerted police to the bomber, and only then was the electronic search of property actually focused on the terrorist.
For years now, travelers have accepted that the TSA could commit sexual assault or use high technology to pornograpically view them, as a price for the convenience of air travel.
While these are all the actions of this Administration, we didn't get to this point in just 5 years. It has however gone from progressive erosion of the Constitution and Bill of Rights, to an exponential extinction of Rights. The rulers of this land are not solely to blame. It is in the very nature of the majority of those that seek power, to expand the power they have. It is the very nature of politicians to lie. It is the responsibility of Citizens to keep the government in check, to choose Representatives, to force the executive branch to confine its activities to the Constitution.
The politicians lulled Americans to sleep, with a claim that it could keep us safe. They lied to us. They told us that if we weren't doing anything wrong, they wouldn't intrude more into our lives than was absolutely necessary to keep us safe.
The apologists will tell you it is a necessary and good thing that the government knows every person you call, how long you talk to them, and where you and they were when you called. The apologists will tell you that it is necessary for your safety that the government is aware of your every click on the internet.
Dwight D Eisenhower did not think so. He specifically ordered that no Intelligence Agency would EVER spy on any US citizens, including US persons, including US companies. Posse Comitatus means that if a US Citizen is suspected of a crime, it is a law enforcement matter, not a military or intelligence agency issue. The Bill of Rights explicitly lists the Rights of Citizens from the government.
If the recent news of the government's intrusions on the Rights of the Citizenry is insufficient to wake up Americans in sufficient numbers to call for a return to a Constitutional Republic, it will literally take door to door searches to do so. Police States throughout history and the world would cream their jeans over the thoroughness of collection of the US Government's spy agencies on Americans today.
From the databases they have, with simple programs available, they could literally pull up a profile of you, including ALL of your associations, your intrigues, and your activities. A simple association chart would tell them how often you call your grandma, and if you are likely to be having an affair with a co-worker. Just the number of short calls from close proximity to a hotel entrance to someone in the hotel, would give them a reasonable chance of knowing of your liasons. The association chart would tell them what they needed to blackmail you, of what you didn't want others to know, and what you hold important.
You may tell yourself that you have nothing to fear, because you have committed no crimes. You may apologize for these intrusions into the lives of others, because you like the politics of the current ruler, but I remind you that we don't know who the next one will be, or who will run the country in 2025. In 1910, the Russians never dreamed of the purges of Stalin. In 1965, Persians never dreamed that they'd be forced to wear an hijab, or that a man would be sentenced to death for conversion from Islam. In 1955, Cubans never thought they'd be rounded up for wanting to own their own business. In 1925, Korean fathers did not fear their daughters would be forced into sex houses of the enemy. In 1915, the Chinese did not dream their sons would be lined up in a contest of who could chop off the most heads in a day. In 1975, Afghans did not dream of a day when their daughters would have acid thrown in their face for daring to learn to read.
And this information is a demonstration that we no longer have a Constitutional Republic of Citizens with Equal Rights to the President which runs the government, but are instead subjects of a ruler, who will do what he wants.
It’s an honor to return to the National Defense University. Here, at Fort McNair, Americans have served in uniform since 1791– standing guard in the early days of the Republic, and contemplating the future of warfare here in the 21st century.
[WOTN Editor comments in bold, and brackets.]
For over two centuries, the United States has been bound together by founding documents [I think he's referring to the Declaration of Independence, US Constitution, and Bill of Rights] that defined who we are as Americans, and served as our compass [No, they're not just a compass, they define the RESTRICTIONS on government of what it can and can not do.] through every type of change. Matters of war and peace are no different. Americans are deeply ambivalent about war, but having fought for our independence, we know that a price must be paid for freedom. From the Civil War,
to our struggle against fascism, and through the long, twilight struggle of the Cold War, battlefields have changed, and technology has evolved. But our commitment to Constitutional principles [Those aren't just "principles." The Constitution is the SUPREME LAW, of the land, superceding Congressional legislation, Executive orders, and international treaty.] has weathered every war [though perhaps not every "peace, or the current administration], and every war has come to an end. [All but four have been won. Two of those "ended" without a Victory are now on the record of the current politician in chief.]
With the collapse of the Berlin Wall [Due to the strong defense built by Reagan, breaking the economic and military back of the Communist Empire], a new dawn of democracy took hold abroad, and a decade of peace and prosperity arrived at home [when Clinton not only cashed in the "peace dividiend," but sold the security stock which had paid it]. For a moment, it seemed the 21st century would be a tranquil time. Then, on September 11th 2001, we were shaken out of complacency. Thousands were taken from us, as clouds of fire, metal and ash descended upon a sun-filled morning. This was a different kind of war. No armies ['only" Islamist terrorists that stole the planes of civilian companies and crashed them into civilians of the entire world] came to our shores, and our military was not the [ONLY] principal target. Instead, a group of terrorists came to kill as many civilians as they could.
And so our nation went to war. We have now been at war for well over a decade. I won’t review the full history. What’s clear is that we quickly drove [most of] al Qaeda out of Afghanistan, but then shifted [added to] our focus and began a new war in Iraq. This carried grave consequences for our fight against [put al-Qaeda on their heels] al Qaeda, our standing in the world, and – to this day – our interests in a vital region. [due to a premature withdrawal, i.e. retreat, from a war not yet won, and ceding of hardwon victories to an enemy not yet defeated.]
Meanwhile, we strengthened our defenses – hardening targets, tightening transportation security, and giving law enforcement new tools to prevent terror. Most of these changes were sound. Some caused inconvenience. But some, like expanded surveillance, raised difficult questions about the balance we strike between our interests in security and our values of privacy. And in some cases, I believe we compromised our basic values – by using torture to interrogate our enemies, and detaining individuals in a way that ran counter to the rule of law. [Which was and remains in compliance with the Geneva Conventions, and the Law of Land Warfare.]
After I took office, we stepped up [retreated from] the war against al Qaeda, but also sought to change its course[by ceding the blood soaked victories we had won]. We relentlessly targeted al Qaeda’s leadership [or claimed to do so, without basis]. We ended the war in Iraq [allowing it to fall prey to the current onslaught of Islamist terrorism], and brought nearly 150,000 troops home. We pursued a new strategy in Afghanistan [of denying the facts], and increased our training of Afghan [Taliban] forces [without vetting them, so they could shoot our now unarmed Troops]. We
unequivocally banned torture, affirmed our commitment to civilian courts [which are not a part of armed conflict and the Law of Land Warfare, as per the Geneva Conventions], worked to align our policies with the rule of law, and expanded our consultations with [demands to comply to] Congress.
Today, Osama bin Laden is dead [due to the intelligence developed before this administration, and the risks accepted by Warriors, not politicians watching it on a video screen], and so are most of his top lieutenants. [killed during the previous administration] There have been no large-scale attacks on the United States [as the enemy has changed tactics to numerous small scale attacks], and our homeland is more secure [BS!, attacks are on the rise, and more prolific than anytime in our history]. Fewer of our troops are in harm’s way, and over the next 19 months they will continue to come home. [despite the fact that the enemy has not surrendered, or ended the war] Our alliances are strong [though weaker than they have been in over a decade], and so is our standing in the world. [BS, the Syrians saw that our threats mean nothing, the Israeli's don't think we have their back, and the European allies only want our free equipment.] In sum, we are safer because of our efforts. [If only that were true. We are not, and we won't be for the years or decades it takes to rebuild our military.]
Now make no mistake: our nation is still threatened by terrorists. From Benghazi to Boston, we have been tragically reminded of that truth. We must recognize, however, that the threat has shifted and evolved from the one [single attack] that came to our shores on 9/11. [to many small attacks such as Ft Hood, Little Rock, Times Square, Boston, and Benghazi] With a decade of experience to draw from, now is the time to ask ourselves hard questions – about the nature of today’s threats, and
how we should confront them. [And who is capable of leading Our Military, and Our People to VICTORY, not submission.]
These questions matter to every American. For over the last decade, our nation has spent well over a trillion dollars on war, exploding our deficits [due to UN-Constitutional domestic pork barrel spending] and constraining our ability to nation build here at home. Our service-members and
their families have sacrificed far more on our behalf. Nearly 7,000 Americans have made the ultimate sacrifice. Many more have left a part of themselves on the battlefield, or brought the shadows of battle back home [which the administration now wants to pay for their own health care, and remove their 2nd Amendment rights, while suppressing their 1st Amendment rights] . From our use of drones to the detention of terrorist suspects, the decisions we are making will define the [administration] type of nation – and world – that we leave to our children.
So America is at a crossroads. We must define the nature and scope of this struggle, or else it will define us, mindful of James Madison’s warning that “No nation could preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare.” Neither I, nor any President, can promise the total defeat of terror. We will never erase the evil that lies in the hearts of some human beings, nor stamp out every danger to our open society. What we can do – what we must do – is dismantle networks that pose a direct danger, and make it less likely for new groups to gain a foothold, all while maintaining the freedoms and ideals that we defend. [But instead, this politician in chief will retreat from the enemy, curtail the God-Given Rights and Liberties of Citizens, and leave them naked to the attacks of the enemy at home and abroad, as civilians, or employees of the government.] To define that strategy, we must make decisions based not on fear, but hard-earned wisdom. And that begins with understanding the threat we face. [And being willing to clearly state that the enemy is Islamism, that openly states it will butcher all those that won't convert, and rape women of their enemy (us), that will rob banks, and throw acid in the faces of Muslim women that dare to learn to read, that calls for the deaths of those that dare speak or write or draw, in a way they don't like.]
Today, the core of al Qaeda in Afghanistan and Pakistan is on a path to defeat [and rising in Yemen, Somalia, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Kenya, Dagestan, Uzbekistan, Britain, France, Egypt, Syria, Egypt, Iraq, Tunisia, and so many other places, including Pakistan and Afghanistan]. Their remaining operatives spend more time thinking about their own safety [BS. They love death, even their own, more than we love life.] than plotting against us. [They've gone from mere hopes of plots to actually carrying them out, on our streets, in Boston, in NYC, and in London.] They did not direct the attacks in Benghazi or Boston. [But they did.] They have not carried out [just one, but many] a successful attack on our homeland since 9/11. Instead, what we’ve seen is the emergence of various al Qaeda affiliates [and denials by politicians that Islamist terrorists have committed terrorism, but rather claims by the administration that Ft Hood was "work place violence" and Benghazi was "spontaneous protest" and the Boston Bombing was what?]. From Yemen to Iraq, from Somalia to North Africa, the threat today is more diffuse, with Al Qaeda’s [subordinate] affiliate in the Arabian Peninsula – AQAP –the most active in plotting against our homeland. [the same one that directed the Ft Hood attack and the Boston Bombing] While none of AQAP’s efforts approach the scale of 9/11 they have continued to plot [and succeed in implementing] acts of terror, like the attempt to blow up an airplane on Christmas Day in 2009. [and the Times Square bombing and Ft Hood and Boston]
Unrest in the Arab World has also allowed extremists to gain a foothold in countries like Libya and Syria [and Egypt and Tunisia, due to the actions of the current US Administration, which asked the Egyptian military to commit a coup and ordered allied leaders to abdicate to Islamists]. Here, too, there are differences from 9/11. In some cases, we confront state-sponsored networks like Hizbollah that engage in acts of terror [in fighting Al-Qaeda's attempt to overthrow the Syrian dictator] to achieve political goals. Others are simply collections of local militias or extremists interested in seizing territory. While we are vigilant for signs that these groups may pose a transnational threat, most are focused on operating in the countries and regions where they are based. That means we will face more localized threats like those we saw in Benghazi [where Al-Qaeda "affiliates" on orders of Al-Qaeda attacked our Consulate], or at the BP oil facility in Algeria, in which local operatives [Al-Qaeda subordinates killed peaceful western civilians] – in loose affiliation with regional networks – launch periodic attacks against Western diplomats, companies, and other soft targets, or resort to kidnapping and other criminal enterprises to fund their [international terrorist] operations.
Finally, we face a real threat from radicalized individuals here in the United States. Whether it’s a shooter at a Sikh Temple in Wisconsin; a plane flying into a building in Texas; or the extremists who killed 168 people at the Federal Building in Oklahoma City [15 years ago] – America has confronted many forms of violent extremism in our time. Deranged or alienated individuals – often U.S. citizens or legal residents – can do enormous damage, particularly when inspired by larger notions of violent jihad. [Especially when they are given training and motivation from the very same Islamist terrorist organizations that hi-jacked and flew commercial jetliners into the WTC and Pentagon on 9/11/01.] That pull towards extremism appears to have led to the shooting at Fort Hood, and the bombing of the Boston Marathon.
Lethal yet less capable al Qaeda affiliates. Threats to diplomatic facilities and businesses abroad. Homegrown extremists. This is the future of terrorism. We must take these threats seriously, and do all that we can to confront them. But as we shape our response, we have to recognize that the scale of this threat closely resembles the types of attacks we faced before 9/11. In the 1980s, we lost Americans to terrorism at our Embassy in Beirut; at our Marine Barracks in Lebanon; on a cruise ship at sea; at a disco in Berlin; and on Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie. In the 1990s, we lost Americans to terrorism at the World Trade Center; at our military facilities in Saudi Arabia; and at our Embassy in Kenya. [And our muted or lack of response emboldened the Islamist terrorist enemy, which decided on ever more spectacular attacks, even if it meant that they lost a few hundred dollar mud huts to million dollar cruise missiles.] These attacks were all deadly, and we learned that left unchecked, these threats can grow. But if dealt with smartly and proportionally, these threats need not rise to the level that we saw on the eve of 9/11. [Or as this speech denotes, we did not learn that lesson.]
Moreover, we must recognize that these threats don’t arise in a vacuum. Most, though not all, of the terrorism we face is fueled by a common ideology – a belief by some extremists that Islam is in conflict with the United States and the West, and that violence against Western targets, including civilians, is justified in pursuit of a larger cause. [i.e. the cause of converting every human being on Earth to Islam, or cutting their throats.] Of course, this ideology is based on a lie, for the United States is not at war with Islam; and this ideology is rejected by the vast majority of Muslims, who are the most frequent victims of terrorist acts.
Nevertheless, this ideology persists, and in an age in which ideas and images can travel the globe in an instant, our response to terrorism cannot depend on military or law enforcement alone. [No, the National Leadership or rather the political partisanship can have an extremely detrimental effect on the results of the sacrifices Our Troops make.] We need all elements of national power to win
a battle of wills and ideas. So let me discuss the components of such a comprehensive counter-terrorism strategy. First, we must finish the work of defeating al Qaeda and its associated forces.
In Afghanistan, we will complete our transition to Afghan responsibility for security. Our troops will
come home. Our combat mission will come to an end [without a Victory]. And we will work with the Afghan government to train security forces, and sustain a counter-terrorism force which ensures that al Qaeda can never again establish a safe-haven to launch attacks against us or our allies. [As the rising tide of Islamist terrorism in Iraq demonstrates in the wake of premature retreat.]
Beyond Afghanistan, we must define our effort not as a boundless ‘global war on terror’ – but rather as a series of persistent, targeted efforts to dismantle specific networks of violent extremists that threaten America. In many cases, this will involve partnerships with other countries. Thousands of Pakistani soldiers have lost their lives fighting extremists. In Yemen, we are supporting security forces that have reclaimed territory from AQAP. In Somalia, we helped a coalition of African nations push al Shabaab out of its strongholds. In Mali, we are providing military aid to a French-led intervention to push back al Qaeda in the Maghreb, and help the people of Mali reclaim their future.
Much of our best counter-terrorism cooperation results in the gathering and sharing of intelligence; the arrest and prosecution of terrorists. That’s how a Somali terrorist apprehended off the coast of Yemen is now in prison in New York [glad to hear that you finally admitted that Somali pirates are part of the Al-Qaeda terrorist network]. That’s how we worked with European allies to disrupt plots from Denmark to Germany to the United Kingdom. That’s how intelligence collected with Saudi Arabia helped us stop a cargo plane from being blown up over the Atlantic. [and ended up with the US Administration putting an allied agent that helped us at risk, by telling the world 'how smart they were.]
But despite our strong preference for the detention and prosecution of terrorists, sometimes this approach is foreclosed. Al Qaeda and its affiliates try to gain a foothold in some of the most distant and unforgiving places on Earth. They take refuge in remote tribal regions. They hide in caves and walled compounds. They train in empty deserts and rugged mountains.
In some of these places – such as parts of Somalia and Yemen – the state has only the most tenuous reach into the territory. In other cases, the state lacks the capacity or will to take action. It is also not possible for America to simply deploy a team of Special Forces to capture every terrorist. And even when such an approach may be possible, there are places where it would pose profound risks to our troops and local civilians– where a terrorist compound cannot be breached without triggering a firefight with surrounding tribal communities that pose no threat to us, [if they're shooting at Our Troops, they aren't civilians and they ARE the enemy.] or when putting U.S. boots on the ground may trigger a major international crisis. [Invading a Sovereign Nation's airspace is just as much an act of war, according to International Law, as is sending in a special operations team. Killing people in a foreign country is just as much an act of war if the person pulling the trigger is a lawyer in the White House, or an experienced Soldier on the battlefield.]
To put it another way, our operation in Pakistan against Osama bin Laden cannot be the norm. The risks in that case were immense [to the SEALS that went in] the likelihood of capture, although our preference, was remote given the certainty of resistance; the fact that we did not find ourselves confronted with civilian casualties, or embroiled in an extended firefight, was a testament to the meticulous planning and professionalism of our Special Forces [SEALs, not Special Forces, which are Army. Members of the Special Operations forces.]– but also depended on some luck [While the humble SEALs will confess to luck, politicians sitting behind a video screen watching them take those risks don't get to downgrade their succeses, which come from sweat laden experience, and blood fallen brothers with "some luck."] . And even then, the cost to our relationship with Pakistan – and the backlash among the Pakistani public over encroachment on their territory [rather the encroachment of their sovereignity by our drones]– was so severe that we are just now beginning to rebuild this important partnership. [In 2008, animosity of the Paki people towards the US was at all time lows. In 2012, the Obama Administration had managed to return it to previous highs.]
It is in this context that the United States has taken lethal, targeted action against al Qaeda and its associated forces, including with remotely piloted aircraft commonly referred to as drones. As was true in previous armed conflicts, this new technology raises profound questions – about who is
targeted, and why; about civilian casualties, and the risk of creating new enemies; about the legality of such strikes under U.S. and international law; about accountability and morality. [International Law may not directly address the issue of pilotless planes, but it does make clear that flying a plane into a Sovereign Nation's airspace and dropping explosives, IS an act of war. No where in international law, does it say that if the pilot is outside the plane does the country flying the plane not commit an act of war when it does so.]
Let me address these questions. To begin with, our actions are effective. Don’t take my word for it. In the intelligence gathered at bin Laden’s compound, we found that he wrote, “we could lose the reserves to the enemy’s air strikes. We cannot fight air strikes with explosives.” Other communications from al Qaeda operatives confirm this as well. Dozens of highly skilled al Qaeda commanders, trainers, bomb makers, and operatives have been taken off the battlefield. Plots
have been disrupted that would have targeted international aviation, U.S. transit systems, European cities and our troops in Afghanistan. Simply put, these strikes have saved lives.
Moreover, America’s actions are legal. [The use of drones in enemy territories, in declared combat zones, and when approved by allied nations in their own territory is legal. The use of drones against others is an act of war, and is not authorized.] We were attacked on 9/11. Within a week, Congress overwhelmingly authorized the use of force. Under domestic law, and international law, the United States is at war with al Qaeda, the Taliban, [oops, you said last year that the Taliban wasn't the enemy, and that was why you were leaving Afghanistan, without defeating them.] and their associated forces. We are at war with an organization that right now would kill as many Americans as they could if we did not stop them first. [So why are you "ending" the war while they are not defeated?!?!"] So this is a just war – a war waged proportionally, in last resort, and in self-defense.
And yet as our fight enters a new phase, America’s legitimate claim of self-defense cannot be the end of the discussion. To say a military tactic is legal, or even effective, is not to say it is wise or moral in every instance. For the same human progress that gives us the technology to strike half a world
away also demands the discipline to constrain that power – or risk abusing it. That’s why, over the last four years, my Administration has worked vigorously to establish a framework that governs our use of force against terrorists [that allowed the use of drones to kill American Citizens in an allied country and the release of Islamist terrorists to belligerent nations, and the forced the release of Islamist terrorists into reluctantly allied nations]– insisting upon clear guidelines, oversight and accountability that is now codified in Presidential Policy Guidance that I signed yesterday.
In the Afghan war theater, we must support our troops [2009 would have been a good time to start that. Five years of undermining them means they'd love to see a change of policy.] until the transition is complete at the end of 2014. That means we will continue to take strikes against high value al Qaeda targets [so, you admit Al-Qaeda is still there!], but also against forces that are massing to support attacks on coalition forces [Oh yeah, those Taliban forces you said weren't our enemy in 2008, but admit in this speech are the enemy, and always have been. Why are you retreating again? Because the Taliban are massing?] . However, by the end of 2014, we will no longer have the same [No, force protection needs will be greater, while counter-terrorism capacity will be near non-existent] need for force protection, and the progress we have made against core al Qaeda will reduce the need for unmanned strikes. [So, in addtion to retreating the Troops, you'll also reduce the drone strikes in the most target rich of environments. Oh yeah, there'll be few Troops to tell you where the enemy is.]
Beyond the Afghan theater, we only target al Qaeda and its associated forces. [So, you admit al-Shabab, Boko Haram, Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, Al-Qaeda in the Islamist Maghreb (west), Al-Qaeda in Iraq, Hezbollah in Syria are actually part of Al-Qaeda, but claim that Libyan commercial TV is as well!] Even then, the use of drones is heavily constrained. America does not take strikes when we have the ability to capture individual terrorists - our preference is always to detain, interrogate, and prosecute them. America cannot take strikes wherever we choose – our actions are bound by consultations with partners, and respect for state sovereignty. America does not take strikes to punish individuals – we act against terrorists who pose a continuing and imminent threat to the American people, and when there are no other governments capable of effectively addressing the threat. And before any strike is taken, there must be near-certainty that no civilians will be killed or injured – the highest standard we can set. [Yeah, if I believed half of that, I wouldn't be spending the time to comment on any of this. If you believe half of that, you probably haven't gotten this far into the speech.]
This last point is critical, because much of the criticism about drone strikes – at home and abroad – understandably centers on reports of civilian casualties. There is a wide gap between U.S. assessments of such casualties, and non-governmental reports. Nevertheless, it is a hard fact that U.S. strikes have resulted in civilian casualties, a risk that exists in all wars. For the families of those civilians, no words or legal construct can justify their loss. For me, and those in my chain of command, these deaths will haunt us [I don't even believe you have a conscious at this point. If you did, you would not ask Congress for permission to screw Our Troops, and would not allow Shinsucki to do so when they are in the VA system.] as long as we live, just as we are haunted by the civilian casualties that have occurred through conventional fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq. [The ENEMY killed civilians. VERY few were killed purposely, or even collaterally by US Forces. Less than 1%. YOU know that Mr. Obama.}
But as Commander-in-Chief, I must weigh these heartbreaking tragedies against the alternatives. To do nothing in the face of terrorist networks would invite far more civilian casualties – not just in our cities at home and facilities abroad, but also in the very places –like Sana’a and Kabul and Mogadishu – where terrorists seek a foothold. Let us remember that the terrorists we are after target civilians, and the death toll from their acts of terrorism against Muslims dwarfs any estimate of civilian casualties from drone strikes. [So why the hell are you retreating from the enemy that is killing Our Own Citizens, as well as foreign citizens at the rate of thousands a month?]
Where foreign governments cannot or will not effectively stop terrorism in their territory, the primary alternative to targeted, lethal action is the use of conventional military options. As I’ve said, even small Special Operations carry enormous risks. Conventional airpower or missiles are far less precise
than drones, [NO, they are not. Piloted planes carry a far more varied payload, and include ALL of the drone explosive options.] and likely to cause more civilian casualties [Again, completely false.] and local outrage [Killing civilians, or populaces that are convinced that . And invasions of these territories [particularly drone strikes] lead us to be viewed as occupying armies; unleash a torrent of unintended consequences; are difficult to contain; and ultimately empower those who thrive on violent conflict. So it is false to assert that putting boots on the ground is less likely to result in civilian deaths[No, it is not, because a human looking down the barrel of a gun is far more capable of discerning hostile intent, than a lawyer looking over the shoulder of someone watching a video screen half a world away.], or to create enemies in the Muslim world. The result would be more U.S. deaths, more Blackhawks down, more confrontations with local populations, and an inevitable mission creep in support of such raids that could easily escalate into new wars. [BS! It would lead to politicians having to more carefully calculate the necessity of a lethal mission, weighing the risk of loss of human life, and their ability to explain that necessity to the American people.]
So yes, the conflict with al Qaeda, like all armed conflict, invites tragedy. But by narrowly targeting our action against those who want to kill us, and not the people they hide among, we are choosing the course of action least likely to result in the loss of innocent life. Indeed, our efforts must also be measured against the history of putting American troops in distant lands among hostile populations. In Vietnam, hundreds of thousands of civilians died in a war [murdered by the enemy] where the boundaries of battle were blurred. In Iraq and Afghanistan, despite the courage and discipline of our troops, thousands of civilians have been killed [by the enemy, not by the hands of Our Troops! I'm really tiring of having to point that out to the guy is supposed to be leading Our Troops, but instead decides to imply they are murderers]. So neither conventional military action, nor waiting for attacks to occur, offers moral safe-harbor. Neither does a sole reliance on law enforcement in
territories that have no functioning police or security services – and indeed, have no functioning law.
This is not to say that the risks are not real. Any U.S. military action in foreign lands risks creating more enemies, and impacts public opinion overseas. Our laws constrain the power of the President, even during wartime, and I have taken an oath to defend the Constitution of the United States. [It would be nice if you would start complying with that oath.] The very precision of drones strikes, and the necessary secrecy involved in such actions can end up shielding our government from the public scrutiny that a troop deployment invites. It can also lead a President and his team to view drone strikes as a cure-all for terrorism. [Is that why you have used them so prolifically against our allies?]
For this reason, I’ve insisted on strong oversight of all lethal action. [When!?!?] After I took office, my Administration began briefing all strikes outside of Iraq and Afghanistan to the appropriate committees of Congress. Let me repeat that – not only did Congress authorize the use of force, it is briefed on every strike that America takes. That includes the one instance when we targeted an American citizen: Anwar Awlaki, the chief of external operations for AQAP. [So, are you denying that you targeted the other 3, or saying that you didn't know who all was in the targeted location? That wouldn't be precise in the latter case, but the former seems to be your MO, i.e. denying the obvious.]
This week, I authorized the declassification of this action, and the deaths of three other Americans in drone strikes, to facilitate transparency and debate on this issue, and to dismiss some of the more outlandish claims. For the record, I do not believe it would be constitutional for the government to target and kill any U.S. citizen – with a drone, or a shotgun – without due process. [But you just admitted that you did target an American, and now that it wasn't Constitutional to do so. Nor did you go through the proper procedure of revoking his citizenship, before killing him in a non-combat situation.] Nor should any President deploy armed drones over U.S. soil.
But when a U.S. citizen goes abroad to wage war against America – and is actively plotting to kill U.S. citizens; and when neither the United States, nor our partners are in a position to capture him before he carries out a plot – his citizenship should no more serve as a shield than a sniper shooting down on an innocent crowd should be protected from a swat team. That’s who Anwar Awlaki was – he was continuously trying to kill people. He helped oversee the 2010 plot to detonate explosive devices on two U.S. bound cargo planes. He was involved in planning to blow up an airliner in 2009. When Farouk Abdulmutallab – the Christmas Day bomber – went to Yemen in 2009, Awlaki hosted him, approved his suicide operation, and helped him tape a martyrdom video to be shown after the attack. His last instructions were to blow up the airplane when it was over American soil. I would have detained and prosecuted Awlaki if we captured him before he carried out a plot. But we couldn’t. And as President, I would have been derelict in my duty had I not authorized the strike that took out Awlaki. [Let's not forget that he also commanded the FT Hood Shooter, and the Times Square Bomber, and many others, that you have declared "work place violence" or "lone wolves."]
Of course, the targeting of any Americans raises constitutional issues that are not present in other strikes – which is why my Administration submitted information about Awlaki to the Department of Justice months before Awlaki was killed, and briefed the Congress before this strike as well. But the high threshold that we have set for taking lethal action applies to all potential terrorist targets, regardless of whether or not they are American citizens. This threshold respects the inherent dignity of every human life. Alongside the decision to put our men and women in uniform in harm’s way, the decision to use force against individuals or groups – even against a sworn enemy of the United
States – is the hardest thing I do as President. But these decisions must be made, given my responsibility to protect the American people. Going forward, I have asked my Administration to review proposals to extend oversight of lethal actions outside of warzones that go beyond our reporting to Congress. Each option has virtues in theory, but poses difficulties in practice.
For example, the establishment of a special court to evaluate and authorize lethal action has the benefit of bringing a third branch of government into the process, but raises serious constitutional issues about presidential and judicial authority. Another idea that’s been suggested – the establishment of an independent oversight board in the executive branch – avoids those problems, but
may introduce a layer of bureaucracy into national-security decision-making, without inspiring additional public confidence in the process. Despite these challenges, I look forward to actively engaging Congress to explore these – and other – options for increased oversight.
I believe, however, that the use of force must be seen as part of a larger discussion about a comprehensive counter-terrorism strategy. Because for all the focus on the use of force, force alone cannot make us safe. We cannot use force everywhere that a radical ideology takes root; and in the absence of a strategy that reduces the well-spring of extremism, a perpetual war – through drones or
Special Forces or troop deployments – will prove self-defeating, and alter our country in troubling ways.
So the next element of our strategy involves addressing the underlying grievances and conflicts that feed extremism, from North Africa to South Asia. As we’ve learned this past decade, this is a vast and complex undertaking. We must be humble in our expectation that we can quickly resolve deep rooted
problems like poverty and sectarian hatred. Moreover, no two countries are alike, and some will undergo chaotic change before things get better. But our security and values demand that we make the effort. This means patiently supporting transitions to democracy in places like Egypt, Tunisia and Libya [in two of which the current Administration successfully caused an Islamist rise to power, far worse than that which it replaced] – because the peaceful realization of individual aspirations will serve as a rebuke to violent extremists. We must strengthen the opposition [primarily Al-Qaeda, at this point] in Syria, while isolating extremist elements – because the end of a tyrant must not give way to the tyranny of terrorism. We are working to promote peace between Israelis and Palestinians – because it is right, and because such a peace could help reshape attitudes in the region. And we must help countries modernize economies [such as China, which has overtaken America, while capitalizing our debt, and silencing our factories], upgrade education, and encourage entrepreneurship – because American leadership has always been elevated by our ability to connect with peoples’ hopes, and not simply their fears.
Success on these fronts requires sustained engagement, but it will also require resources. I know that foreign aid is one of the least popular expenditures – even though it amounts to less than one percent of the federal budget. But foreign assistance cannot be viewed as charity. It is fundamental to our national security, and any sensible long-term strategy to battle extremism. Moreover, foreign assistance is a tiny fraction of what we spend fighting wars that our assistance might ultimately prevent. For what we spent in a month in Iraq at the height of the war, we could be training security forces in Libya, maintaining peace agreements between Israel and its neighbors, feeding the hungry in Yemen, building schools in Pakistan, and creating reservoirs of goodwill that marginalize extremists.
America cannot carry out this work if we do not have diplomats serving in dangerous places. Over the past decade, we have strengthened security at our Embassies, and I am implementing every recommendation of the Accountability Review Board which found unacceptable failures in Benghazi. I have called on Congress to fully fund these efforts to bolster security, harden facilities, improve intelligence, and facilitate a quicker response time from our military if a crisis emerges. [The military was ready. It was the politicians that said no, that the military could not respond, in Benghazi.]
But even after we take these steps, some irreducible risks to our diplomats will remain. This is the price of being the world’s most powerful nation, particularly as a wave of change washes over the Arab World. And in balancing the trade-offs between security and active diplomacy, I firmly believe that any retreat from challenging regions will only increase the dangers we face in the long run. [And yet you have demanded retreat in Iraq and in Afghanistan, while leaving diplomats to the hands of Islamists in Cairo and Benghazi on the anniversary of 9/11.]
Targeted action against terrorists. Effective partnerships. Diplomatic engagement and assistance. Through such a comprehensive strategy we can significantly reduce the chances of large scale attacks on the homeland and mitigate threats to Americans overseas. As we guard against dangers from abroad, however, we cannot neglect the daunting challenge of terrorism from within our borders. [It will help if you will admit the fact that those "home grown" "lone wolf" terrorists are taking their orders and inspiration from the very same Islamist terrorist enemy, Al-Qaeda, as you are retreating from in Afghanistan.]
As I said earlier, this threat is not new. But technology and the Internet increase its frequency and lethality. Today, a person can consume hateful propaganda, commit themselves to a violent agenda, and learn how to kill without leaving their home. To address this threat, two years ago my ADdministration did a comprehensive review, and engaged with law enforcement. The best way to
prevent violent extremism is to work with the Muslim American community – which has consistently rejected terrorism – to identify signs of radicalization, and partner with law enforcement when an individual is drifting towards violence. And these partnerships can only work when we recognize that Muslims are a fundamental part of the American family. Indeed, the success of American Muslims, and our determination to guard against any encroachments on their civil liberties [how about ending the encrouchment of Americans' Constitutional Rights as well], is the ultimate rebuke to those who say we are at war with Islam.
Indeed, thwarting homegrown plots presents particular challenges in part because of our proud commitment to civil liberties for all who call America home. That’s why, in the years to come, we will have to keep working hard to strike the appropriate balance between our need for security and preserving those freedoms that make us who we are. That means reviewing the authorities of law enforcement, so we can intercept new types of communication, and build in privacy protections to prevent abuse. That means that – even after Boston – we do not deport someone or throw someone in prison in the absence of evidence. That means putting careful constraints on the tools the government uses to protect sensitive information, such as the State Secrets doctrine. And that
means finally having a strong Privacy and Civil Liberties Board [NO, the Rights of Citizens can be removed only by due process of the Justice System, by a jury AND judge, while enemy combatants have no right or expectation of trial, unless they have committed war crimes.] to review those issues where our counter-terrorism efforts and our values may come into tension.
The Justice Department’s investigation of national security leaks offers a recent example of the challenges involved in striking the right balance between our security and our open society. As Commander-in Chief, I believe we must keep information secret that protects our operations and our people in the field. To do so, we must enforce consequences for those who break the law and breach their commitment to protect classified information. But a free press is also essential for our democracy. I am troubled by the possibility that leak investigations may chill the investigative journalism that holds government accountable. Journalists should not be at legal risk for doing their jobs. Our focus must be on those who break the law. That is why I have called on Congress to pass a
media shield law to guard against government over-reach. I have raised these issues with the Attorney General, who shares my concern. So he has agreed to review existing Department of Justice Guidelines governing investigations that involve reporters, and will convene a group of media organizations to hear their concerns as part of that review. And I have directed the Attorney General to report back to me by July 12th. [The 1st Amendment does not protect the media from breaking the law. It does protect their right to free speech, equally with my own and every other citizen's. The 4th protects their right to be secure in their papers, just as it does mine and everyone elses, including from the IRS.]
All these issues remind us that the choices we make about war can impact – in sometimes unintended ways – the openness and freedom on which our way of life depends. And that is why I intend to engage Congress about the existing Authorization to Use Military Force, or AUMF, to determine how we can continue to fight terrorists without keeping America on a perpetual war-time footing.
The AUMF is now nearly twelve years old. The Afghan War is coming to an end. Core al Qaeda is a shell of its former self. [BS. It is stronger than it ever was, precisely because you have retreated, while denying its strength.] Groups like AQAP[i.e. Al-Qaeda] must be dealt with, but in the years to come, not every collection of thugs that labels themselves al Qaeda will pose a credible threat to the United States. Unless we discipline our thinking and our actions, we may be drawn into more wars we don’t need to fight, or continue to grant Presidents unbound powers more suited for traditional armed conflicts between nation states. So I look forward to engaging Congress and the American people in efforts to refine, and ultimately repeal, the AUMF’s mandate. And I will not sign laws designed to expand this mandate further. Our systematic effort to dismantle terrorist organizations must continue. But this war, like all wars, must end. [Wars end by Victory or Surrender. Any other "end" is a continuation of the war.] That’s what history advises. That’s what our democracy demands. [We have a Republic, with democratic elections, not a democracy, and NO, "the democracy" does not demand that.]
And that brings me to my final topic: the detention of terrorist suspects.
To repeat, as a matter of policy, the preference of the United States is to capture terrorist suspects. When we do detain a suspect, we interrogate them. And if the suspect can be prosecuted, we decide whether to try him in a civilian court or a Military Commission [Only war criminals get a trial in war. Common combatants are released ONLY at the end of hostilities, and are not criminals. War criminals are tried, in order to imprison them beyond the end of the war. THAT is International Law, i.e. the Geneva Conventions.]. During the past decade, the vast majority of those detained by our military were captured on the battlefield. In Iraq, we turned over thousands of prisoners as we ended the war. In Afghanistan, we have transitioned detention facilities to the Afghans, as part of the process of restoring Afghan sovereignty. So we bring law of war detention to an end, and we are committed to prosecuting terrorists whenever we can.
The glaring exception to this time-tested approach is the detention center at Guantanamo Bay. The original premise for opening GTMO – that detainees would not be able to challenge their detention – was found unconstitutional five years ago. In the meantime, GTMO has become a symbol around the world for an America that flouts the rule of law. Our allies won’t cooperate with us if they think a
terrorist will end up at GTMO. [They won't cooperate when they know that the terrorists they turn over will be released back into their streets to kill more of their citizens.] During a time of budget cuts, we spend $150 million each year to imprison 166 people –almost $1 million per prisoner. And the Department of Defense estimates that we must spend another $200 million to keep GTMO open at a time when we are cutting investments in education and research here at home. [How long will that take to add up to a single 9/11? Yes, it does cost money to house foreign prisoners of war. It costs even more when the politician in chief is buying them the most expensive dates and million dollar soccer fields.]
As President, I have tried to close GTMO. I transferred 67 detainees to other countries [that's called "rendition" which you campaigned against.] before Congress imposed restrictions to effectively prevent us from either transferring detainees to other countries,[Congress finally did something right, but I'll credit you for signing the limitations on your plans.] or imprisoning them in the
United States. These restrictions make no sense. After all, under President Bush, some 530 detainees were transferred from GTMO with Congress’s support. When I ran for President the first time, John McCain supported closing GTMO. No person has ever escaped from one of our super-max or military prisons in the United States. Our courts have convicted hundreds of people for terrorism-related offenses, including some who are more dangerous than most GTMO detainees. Given my Administration’s relentless pursuit of al Qaeda’s leadership, there is no justification beyond politics for Congress to prevent us from closing a facility that should never have been opened. [Except that is a complete waste of money to put terrorists in an overcrowded facility when the one they're in is 80% empty, except that releasing them will put them back in the war against us, except that putting them in US prisons will give them a recruiting ground for other Islamist terrorists. I could go on.]
Today, I once again call on Congress to lift the restrictions on detainee transfers from GTMO. I have asked the Department of Defense to designate a site in the United States where we can hold military commissions. I am appointing a new, senior envoy at the State Department and Defense Department whose sole responsibility will be to achieve the transfer of detainees to third countries. I am lifting the moratorium on detainee transfers to Yemen, so we can review them on a case by case basis. To the greatest extent possible, we will transfer detainees who have been cleared to go to other countries. Where appropriate, we will bring terrorists to justice in our courts and military justice system. And we will insist that judicial review be available for every detainee.
Even after we take these steps, one issue will remain: how to deal with those GTMO detainees who we know have participated in dangerous plots or attacks, but who cannot be prosecuted – for example because the evidence against them has been compromised or is inadmissible in a court of law. But once we commit to a process of closing GTMO, I am confident that this legacy problem can be
resolved, consistent with our commitment to the rule of law.
I know the politics are hard. But history will cast a harsh judgment on this aspect of our fight against terrorism, and those of us who fail to end it. Imagine a future – ten years from now, or twenty years from now – when the United States of America is still holding people who have been charged with no
crime on a piece of land that is not a part of our country. Look at the current situation, where we are force-feeding detainees who are holding a hunger strike. Is that who we are? Is that something that our Founders foresaw? Is that the America we want to leave to our children?
Our sense of justice is stronger than that. We have prosecuted scores of terrorists in our courts. That includes Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, who tried to blow up an airplane over Detroit; and Faisal Shahzad, who put a car bomb in Times Square. It is in a court of law that we will try Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, who is accused of bombing the Boston Marathon. Richard Reid, the shoe bomber, is as we
speak serving a life sentence in a maximum security prison here, in the United States. In sentencing Reid, Judge William Young told him, “the way we treat you…is the measure of our own liberties.” He went on to point to the American flag that flew in the courtroom – “That flag,” he said, “will fly there long after this is all forgotten. That flag still stands for freedom.”
America, we have faced down dangers far greater than al Qaeda. By staying true to the values of our founding, and by using our constitutional compass, we have overcome slavery and Civil War; fascism and communism. In just these last few years as President, I have watched the American people bounce back from painful recession, mass shootings, and natural disasters like the recent
tornados that devastated Oklahoma. These events were heartbreaking; they shook our communities to the core. But because of the resilience of the American people, these events could not come close to breaking us. I think of Lauren Manning, the 9/11 survivor who had severe burns over 80
percent of her body, who said, “That’s my reality. I put a Band-Aid on it, literally, and I move on.”
I think of the New Yorkers who filled Times Square the day after an attempted car bomb as if nothing had happened.
I think of the proud Pakistani parents who, after their daughter was invited to the White House, wrote to us, “we have raised an American Muslim daughter to dream big and never give up because it does pay off.”
I think of the wounded warriors rebuilding their lives, and helping other vets to find jobs.
I think of the runner planning to do the 2014 Boston Marathon, who said, “Next year, you are going to have more people than ever. Determination is not something to be messed with.”
That’s who the American people are. Determined, and not to be messed with.
Now, we need a strategy – and a politics –that reflects this resilient spirit. Our victory against terrorism won’t be measured in a surrender ceremony on a battleship, or a statue being pulled to the ground. Victory will be measured in parents taking their kids to school; immigrants coming to our
shores; fans taking in a ballgame; a veteran starting a business; a bustling city street. The quiet determination; that strength of character and bond of fellowship; that refutation of fear – that is both our sword and our shield. And long after the current messengers of hate have faded from the world’s memory, alongside the brutal despots, deranged madmen, and ruthless demagogues who
litter history – the flag of the United States will still wave from small-town cemeteries, to national monuments, to distant outposts abroad. And that flag will still stand for freedom.
Thank you. God Bless you. And may God bless the United States of America.
The "American Experiment" is being slowly strangled. The lust of power of politicians is successfully selling the snake oil of "free" government handouts for the price of citizenship and Liberty. And, it is diametrically opposed to the very foundations of the united States.
The very core principal of Declaration of Independence, the US Constitution, and the Bill of Rights, is that all men have equal Rights and duties of Citizenship, that government is a necessary evil, that must be contained, and rulers are inherently untrustworthy.
The Founding Fathers set out to limit the power of government, and politicians, to base necessary authorities, while guaranteeing that the Rights of The People, Sovereign Citizens, exceeded those of the person they chose to preside over the government. Despite modern perceptions that the President governs the Nation, and rules the people, the very concept of the office in the Constitution is that he is in charge, only over the day to day business of running government offices, employees, and infrastructure of the government.
They wrote of united States, not the United States, as a State, by definition is Sovereign, and our States were united in Foreign Affairs and Defense, and Sovereign in governance within their borders. They knew that politicians closest to the Citizenry would be forced to be most responsive to it, yet that small States were vulnerable to rivalries and invasions. The Constitution specifically forbids the Federal government from interference of the affairs of States within their own borders. It affords for the Federal government to regulate only those issues that cross State borders, to maintain a level playing field.
The only authorized role of the Federal government in the lives of individuals, of Citizens, was to guarantee their God-Given Rights. The Declaration of Independence makes clear the Founders attributed those Rights to be granted by God, not man, and not the Government. Provisions were made for those that betrayed the Nation, that betrayed the Constitution, and for those that betrayed the trust of the People. And protections were built in, to ensure that Rights were removed from Citizens, only with a high bar of evidence, and the conviction by a jury of peers, and rule of judge.
It was given that the fruits of the labor of the Citizenry should not be taken easily by the government, and only in those amounts that were necessary for the functioning of a very limited government.
"Giving power and money to government is like giving car keys and whiskey to teenage boys." P.J. O'Rourke
That's clearly not one of the Founding Fathers, but it does elaborate on the wisdom they shared in the Constitution. It demonstrates the same distrust the writers of the Constitution had for those of not just unlimited power, but of any power, even the limited power they afforded the Republic of the united States.
Today, there are those that believe that the government should provide for the People. There was a time when it was argued that the government should provide a safety net, for those that could not provide for themselves, but that has expanded to arguments that the government should force the Citizen to be caught up in that net. The government simply cannot give everyone everything they need, much less want. The very concept of the fruits of Citizen's labor going to government, in exchange for the government deciding what morsels it will give the Subjects of the Empire, is slavery or serfdom.
It is fundamentally different than the Liberty of Citizens to determine their own futures, to benefit from their own labors, and decide for themselves what goods and services they need and want to purchase. But why would a Citizen prefer to keep his money and decide for himself to buy a service, rather than give his income to the government and receive the same service "for free?"
Let's say you want health insurance. Insurance is a payment to a company in an amount greater than your current costs, in return for defraying the future costs of the actual service you may need. The company invests excess funds to decrease your costs, and attempts to sell policies to those needing less of the service, at present. In order to not go bankrupt, the return on their investments and the total payments of all customers, must be greater than the payments for the insured services. A reasonable amount to charge the insured customer might be $5000.00 a year, with payments in the early years of $2,500.00 a year, with the company investing the rest. Already, the customer is paying twice as much for the insurance, as he would for the direct services.
Insurance is most effective for events that are unlikely, but catatrophic. That's why home insurance costs so much less than car insurance, despite insuring a greater amount of value. A far greater proportion of cars end in total destruction than do homes. The "risk" of a payout is far greater for a car insurance policy. The cost increases due to the government requirement that drivers purchase it. It is also why it costs more to insure a rental property than a homeowner occupied property (the structure, not the contents). Renters are less likely to protect the property from damage than is a homeowner.
So, if you have the option of insuring your own health, you would be paying for the associated risks based on your current health, plus the costs of the company to hire employees that would manage it, and the buildings they would work in.
But if you instead pay the government to insure your health care, you still have to pay (through taxes) the costs of your health care risks (that $5000/year), plus the government bureacrats that will collect those funds (IRS), that will choose your insurance company (DHHS), and disburse those funds (Treasury), as well as those that support those agencies (GSA), and maintain those buildings (ACE), and protect those buildings and bureacrats (DHS). All of those costs are additional to the $5000 you are paying for the insurance, and the base $2500 you would pay for the actual service.
Before the government has even begun collecting those taxes, and before it has even begun paying your health insurance bill, the Federal government is already collecting more taxes and borrowing more money, than any other government in the world.
For most people, it is already financially better to take the money and buy their own health insurance or medical services, than it is to take the health insurance as a "benefit" of employment, but when you add the costs of bureacracy to the equation, your "free" health care is costing you far more than that of even that "benefit," that ties you down to a company. Initially, these costs will be paid with "greater debt" of the Federal government, but already the Administration has pushed through greater taxes and is pushing for more, under the general auspices of government, while cutting back on the amounts they spend on actual Constitutionally mandated affairs, such as Defense and Diplomacy.
Wouldn't it be great if the government provided you all your basic needs, like food, shelter, and water? Or would you chaff at the idea that you were given 3 brussel sprouts, 6 slices of bread, and 12 ounces of meat a day, in exchange for your day's labor? Oh, yeah, that was tried, and it was called Feudalism, and tried again, and it was called Communism. Despite the ideological slogans that one was led by the divine decision of a diety to choose a monarch, and the people's communal property of everything, nothing good was achieved by an enslaved nation of men that were not allowed to make their own decisions. And current day examples of North Korea, Cuba, and Iran afford no better outlook on the powerful few ruling the individual lives of subjects.
The recent scandals at the IRS, DOJ, and Department of State (Benghazi) afford us plenty of reason to maintain, and regain, the limited government Our Founding Fathers prescribed.
To reattain it, those that understand it, must regain the halls of education. History must be taught. It is not just a list of dates and data, but a story of real men, doing things fiction writers cannot fathom. To reattain it, the Constitution and the Federalist Papers must be taught. To reattain Liberty, Citizens must not only understand their Rights, but why Our Founders attributed them to God, not government, but still saw the need to guarantee them from government.
To regain the Rights of a Sovereign Citizenry, the subjects of the Empire will have to give up some of the "free" goods the rulers have promised them.
History is wrought with examples of subjects of a government rebelling against their ruling tyrant, whether King, Emperor, Czar, Caesar, Ayatollah, or Secretary-General of the Politburo. When the tyrant, the dictator grows too overbearing, too oppressive, or too stingy with the goods, the serfs rebel. They rebel not against the rule of kings, but against the oppression of the current king. They cry out, not for freedom, but instead for an easing of their suffering.
The American War for Independence was different. The People fought for Citizenship, for Rights, for Liberty itself. They established the US Constitution, and guaranteed the Individual Rights of Citizens, in the Bill of Rights, given by God, not government, as proclaimed in the Declaration of Independence.
What is the difference? The serfs are demanding the tyrant end his oppression, that he allow them a bit more food, or benefits, while Citizens refuse to allow the government to intrude in their Rights, which are equal to the leader of the government.
Many would pick and choose when they support one or another of the enumerated God-Given Rights, specifically protected in the Bill of Rights, but would deny others their other Rights, when they find them less appealling, or when denial of Rights is deemed expedient. The MSM is particularly frought with hypocritical claims to rights beyond those enumerated, while arguing against the Rights (2nd) of others.
The Boston Bombings provide the most recent example. A 1st year law school dropout could successfully prosecute the case. The evidence is overwhelming, and yet terrorism is not a charge, nor is murder. The excuse is that prosecutors are hedging their bets. They are saying it's not as open and shut a case as everyone that watched the news would note. They are claiming that by not charging the terrorist, now, with murder, they reserve the "right" of the government to charge him later. They point out that McVeigh was also not charged with terrorism, as if that is a reasonable fact. It is a fact, but it is wrong that he was not charged with terrorism, unless the US law defining terrorism as a crime was not yet written. In 1995, and now, my position was that McVeigh should have been tried by a Court Martial, with charges including Treason. He wanted to claim he was a Soldier, and he did in fact have time remaining on his Individual Ready Reserve contract. He should have faced a firing squad, of Soldiers.
In a much more difficult case, McVeigh was convicted for the murder of a handful of Federal Agents. There was no video of him placing the bomb. He was not caught red-handed throwing bombs. LE got lucky that his ideological idiocy convinced him to speed down a highway in a car with no license plate, and a pistol showing under his shirt. Still, he almost was released on the weapons charges. LE got lucky in 1995, because his ideologies told him that the Sheriff's Deputy that pulled him over was a "legitimate" authority figure.
He was not convicted for murdering dozens of kids, or other civilian employees of the government, or senior citizens at the Social Security Admin office. The Janet Reno "Justice" Department and Clinton Administration, had hedged its bets. It did not charge McVeigh with all the murders, because it wanted to reserve "its right" to put him on trial a 2nd time, if the first trial didn't convict him. McVeigh was put in the express line for executions, but his buddy and partner in the act of terrorism is still in the prison system. His buddy only got Life in Prison, and to date, no other prisoner has convicted him to death.
The Bill of Rights says the government has ONE chance to prove your guilt in a crime. It doesn't get to keep trying until it finds a jury that will agree with them. It doesn't get to keep you in jail, or keep you away from a source of income for years, while it keeps trying. It doesn't get to charge you with using an explosive now, and then the effects of that explosive later. It gets ONE chance, and you are presumed innocent, until they do. The jury on the other hand, can convict you of killing the Federal Agents, while finding you "not guilty" of killing the nurse killed by a piece of falling debris hours later.
The Boston Bombing case may very well demonstrate a need for "Immigration Reform," in a way Congress isn't currently discussing, but like it or not, Tsarnaev attained US Citizenship on 9/11/2012. He DOES have Rights, until and unless his citizenship is revoked. He IS an Islamist Terrorist, and it should not be difficult to prove that he perjured himself, under oath, when he swore loyalty to the US and the US Constitution, while acting as an agent of the enemy in attacking American civilians. We DO need to look at the means to prevent such enemies from attaining the shield of US Citizenship, but at the moment, we have an Islamist Terrorist who holds US Citizenship, that should be facing charges of terrorism, treason, murder, and more.
It may be politically expedient, and even popular, to keep putting him on trial, until the warranted death penalty is attained, but it would undermine the Rights of Every American Citizen, if we endorse that. Instead, we should charge him with everything we can in the Boston Bombing case. Throw the book at him. Prove it all. Give him 10 death penalties. The police shootouts may be a separate case, but the two explosions at the finish line of the Boston Marathon, and ALL the effects, as well as ALL of the charges from it, are ONE event, and one trial. Terrorism is a Federal charge, because it is an attack on the Nation, on the US Constitution, not just the individuals in the city of the attack.
If we wish to remain, or re-attain, Our position as Citizens, of Equal Rights to the man that presides over OUR govenrment, not serfs, subject to the dictates of the man who Rules our people, we MUST stand up for the Rights of Our Fellow Citizens, even when we find them despicable examples of evil that should have their lives snuffed out. If we wish remain, or re-attain, Liberty, we MUST protect each of the Rights enumerated in the Bill of Rights, and we must send Representatives to Congress who uphold their oath to the Constitution, rather than those that pander to the lobbyists that pay their way to maintain their power of office. And at this point, I'd almost say that being a lawyer should be an automatic preclusion to office. Let lawyers argue the law in court, but they lack the ability to write in clear, concise, coherent language.
Evidently, when it is not politically expedient to admit terrorism exists. Tsarnaev, a Chechen Islamist Terrorist who killed 4 people in Boston, wounded hundreds, in two shootouts and three bombings, who had more bombs and had planned more attacks, who ran over his own dying brother and fellow terrorist, is not being charged with terrorism. He is being charged with using a "weapon of mass destruction" (I guess Obama is admitting that Saddam had millions of WMD) and "malicious destruction of property resulting in death." Not only has he not been charged with terrorism, but he has not been charged with murder, or attempted murder.
There are at least two counts of terrorism (two bombs), at least four counts of murder, a count of carjacking, and at least 185 counts of attempted murder (injured), that should be charged against him. These are low-hanging fruit, with sufficient evidence, in the public eye, with which the Obama Administration and Eric Holder's "Justice" Department have chosen to not charge the Islamist Terrorist. The White House was slow to admit that the Boston Bombing was an act of terrorism, but to not charge the Islamist Terrorist with terrorism is a slap in the face to every American, not just those that were victims of the attack.
Tsarnaev attained his US citizenship on 9/11/2012, so I can accept the argument to try him in a civilian court. In addition to the clearcut and obvious charges that should be made against him, due to his US citizenship, additional charges of treason, perjury (swearing an oath to the United States and US Constitution while acting as an agent of the enemy) should be levied and his citizenship should be revoked.
In other news, the Canadians announced today that they have arrested terrorists involved in a plot to attack trains in that country. They were far more forthright, clearly stating that this was a plot by AL-QAEDA, In IRAN. Given that currently, investigators are saying they don't know what connections to other terrorists the Tsarnaev brothers had, it is very interesting that the White House was so quick to say that there was no connection between the Boston Bombing, and the Iranian Al-Qaeda plot on the Northern Border.
The terrorists have not "ended" their war, no matter how badly the politicians want to claim the war is over. There is only one way that one side of a war can end it, of their own accord; surrender. There is only one basic goal that must be recognized to win a war; War must take the necessary steps to remove the enemy's will to fight. It appears that the enemy is closer to that goal, despite their heavier losses, than are we.
"There is only way you can be guaranteed peace, and you can have it in a second. That is to surrender." Ronald Reagan, decades before he became President, during the era that politicians were purporting that cutting Our Defenses, and talking the enemy to death was the "right path." Negotiations in weakness did not end the Cold War, and it has not ended the Terrorists' War on Us. Reagan's buildup of Military Strength did bring the Cold War to an end.
While politicians and police slap each other on the back for their "successes" in Boston, they also continue with their calls to cut defense, and to militarize the police. One resident in the search area described the situation as a "police state." And indeed, one of the goals of terrorism is to induce the government to tighten its grip on civilians, while simultaneously demonstrating the lack of effectiveness of the "security blanket" of the government, until the civilians are fed up. The police cannot protect you. That is not their job. Their job is to arrest criminals that have already committed the crimes.
While the first 7 seven years of the War on Terrorism saw a few modest intrusions on our lives, the last 5 of "Overseas Contingency Operations" have seen (TSA) state sponsored sexual assaults and pornographic xrays at the airports, a government which deems your 3 month old email as theirs to read without a warrant, and require new cell phones to update their location to within a few yards.
"Mr Obama and his intelligence community know the threat from al-Qaeda affiliates, but have chosen to downplay it to the US public." Peter Foster, UK Telegraph
The Administration's policies are not one of ignorance, not anymore. They are policies of stubborn partisanship, and party platform to change the very nature of the US Military, from one prepared for war, to one that is utilized only as part of a coalition in peace-keeping operations. Bill Clinton and Eric Shinseki openly espoused that fundamental shift in the 90's, when the world believed we had entered a new era of peace, but the fact of Islamist Terrorism has hampered this Administration from being as straightforward about its goals. It couches the shift in saying that we will pin our defenses on allies given our best equipment, while stripping our own ranks of its Troops and latest equipment.
Islamist terrorists are not just Al-Qaeda. Indeed, islamism is not just terrorism. Islamist terrorists include Hamas, Hezbollah, al-Quds Force (Iran), Boko Haram, al-Shabab, and many, many others. Yet, partisan supporters of the politician in chief would have us believe that various regional commands of Al-Qaeda aren't even part of Al-Qaeda. While at times they proclaim the core element of the former headquarters of Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan and Pakistan has been defeated, they deny that Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, Al-Qaeda in Iraq, or Al-Qaeda in the Islamic West (Maghreb) are the same organization. And yet, reports continue to point out that Al-Qaeda is still active in Afghanistan, and still strong in Pakistan.
Josef Biden has stated both that the Taliban have always been the enemy, and that they are not the enemy, but the Taliban are some of the most fundamental of Islamists, and some of the most atrocious of terrorists, superceded perhaps by the Chechens, in the department of atrociousness.
Islamism is stronger now than it has ever been. It has grown and spread and taken over governments in the last 3 years, through "Arab Spring." The battle lines which had shrunk in 2008, have expanded greatly since 2010. Mubarrak had "contained" Islamists in Egypt for decades. Bashir had pulled back from open support of Islamist terrorists in the Sudan, when he saw the 2001 results in Afghanistan. His final efforts in Darfur were finally ended. Saudi Arabia had quieted and Yemen was slowed. The tide in Iraq had shifted.
Today, Islamism rules Egypt, Tunisia, Iran, and is fighting for Somalia, Yemen, Nigeria, Mali, and Libya. Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, and Turkey are trending towards, not away from Islamism. And while political Islamism espouses the use of tyranny, rather than openly supporting terrorism, to achieve its goal of establishing the caliphate, of conversion of ALL to Islam, it remains diametrically opposed to Freedom, and the Rights of Citizenship, of Human Rights themselves.
The brutality of Islamists towards religious freedom can be seen in the imprisonment (and death penalties in many cases) of ex-Muslims converted to Christianity in Iran, in Egypt, and in Pakistan. Riots have been seen in Kabul, Afghanistan, over the existence of Bibles written in Dari. All Islamism is political, though it does not all use terrorism as its means. It prefers tyranny. In fact, the goal of Islamist terrorism is to attain the reins of government, so that its tyranny can be more complete. The great migration of religiously oppressed from Tunisia, Egypt, and Somalia are testament to this. And many of those religiously oppressed, like the Bahai of Iran, are Muslims.
For the Coptic Christians in Egypt, the distinction between the fire bombs and explosives of Islamist terrorists during the Mubarrak era and the attacks of Islamist tyrannical government forces under Mosri, is the distinction of lost hope. It is the distinction of being opposed by the government to supported and enforced by the government. While Mubarrak never took the measures Bashir Assad did in wiping off the map, and face of the earth, an entire town for supporting the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood, he did keep illegal, though ineffectively suppressed, the organization which called for the brutal oppression of Human Rights.
The Boston attack should serve as a reminder that Islamist Terrorists have not "ended" the war, but so should have the Little Rock, and Fort Hood attacks. In each of these, the terrorists succeeded in killing unarmed Americans, but these are not the only reminders that the terrorists have not lost their will to fight. The panty bomber, the Times Square bomber, the Wrigley Field bomber, the Christmas Tree bomber in Seattle, and many, many more attempted attacks have been downplayed as "lone wolves" or forgotten due to the failures of the enemy to execute the attacks.
Like so many of these others, the Chechen Islamist brothers will likely be played off as "self-islamized, home grown, lone wolves," but the Islamization of those with US passports or greencards is not a new factor in this war. It has long been known that Islamists were trying (and succeeding) to convert violent criminals in our jails. Adam Gadahn, of California, was already a ranking member of Al-Qaeda on 9/11, and the "American Taliban" was captured on the battlefield in the early days of the War in Afghanistan in 2001. It was only a few years ago, that 7 gang-bangers went on a rampage in Oakland, CA in the name of Islamism, after their conversions. The government has known for a decade that the strategy of the enemy was that the first wave of terrorists would be Saudi, the second wave others, and the third stage of attacks carried out by those with US passports and green cards.
A stereo-typical terrorist cell has 4-6 members. It is purposely de-centralized. Tamleran was known to the FBI. He was reported to them by a foreign country, probably Russia, as a potential terrorist. He likely had religious leaders, and terrorist directors, at the Mosque partially paid for by governments in Massachusetts. His Islamization did not occur in a vacuum, and his Uncle has clearly stated that the attack was a dishonor to the family and to all Chechens. But the Chechens were in Afghanistan in 2001, and they are still there in 2013, in lesser numbers, but more often across the border in Pakistan.
While I will agree with Jonn, at This Aint Hell, that Obama was not directly responsible for the Boston Attacks, I must also recognize some of the points made by the UK Telegraph, that the Administration's attempts to claim the War on Terrorism is over, that Al-Qaeda is defeated, has led, partially, to the complacency of the people.
And while "Blame Bush" is overplayed, he didn't quite get it right when he only told the American people to go about their lives. In no way, should he have espoused that the people live their lives in fear, but he should have found a way to give the people a meaningful purpose in the War against Terrorists. He had the foresight to know that this war would not be over quickly, that it would take decades to win, and the humility to recognize that he must change his party platform on "nation building," but in some way, the American People needed to be engaged in the efforts, as were the People, in WWII. That doesn't mean recycling metal, and food rations, or even higher taxes, but it should mean a heightened sense of Situational Awareness.
Neither Bush nor Obama can be blamed for idiots walking around with eyes glued to their iPods, but both should have told the American People to be aware of those around them, to recognize terrorists and criminals. Instead of demonizing Warriors as PTSD afflicted for their heightened sense of awareness after having seen the evil in this world, they should have sponsored people having an awareness of what's around them. They should have reminded the Nation that being aware was not the same as being afraid, that instead that knowing their environs was an innoculation to fear.
The Office of the President, has a mandate to preside over the government, and to lead the Nation, to explain to the People "why" a war is in their interests, and how they can help win it. It is not enough for him to say I'll do what I want, what I believe, because I won the election, particularly not in these times, where we choose from the less bad choice, rather than those we truly believe prepared for the Office. It is not enough for the President to understand the importance of fighting terrorists there, so we don't see American Civilians murdered here. It is his duty to explain that "why" to the American People, so they understand it, particularly when his partisan opponents see the lack of explaination as the means to undermine him, and the Nation, for political purposes of attaining power. And not giving that "why" was Bush's failure.
Three were killed and more than 100 were injured. Two explosive devices (at least) were used. The target was not the military, or even government officials that could be characterized as having a legitimate role in military affairs. That makes it terrorism. Terrorism has a goal of inflicting terror in an otherwise unafflicted population. It does so by making a population feel as if the terrorists can strike at will against whomever they desire. It does so by making security and government officials appear incapable of protecting the populace from the terrorists. It has a goal of convincing the population to force the government to bow to its desires. It does so, for a profit.
It does not matter if the terrorists are white, arab, asian, black, or hispanic. An act of terrorism is terrorism, period. Terrorism is not just a prank, like setting a trashcan on fire, and not just a crime conducted by organized crime.
It is not just a crime, but also an act of war. It is not just an act of war, but a war crime. As an act of war, the Geneva Convention affords that those involved can be held, without trial, until the cessation of hostilities. As war criminals, the Geneva Conventions hold that they can be tried, and if convicted, held beyond the end of hostilities. In particular circumstances, the Geneva Conventions afford a death penalty to war criminals, including those who use terrorism as a tactic or strategy.
While there is no substantial proof in public that this was an act of international terrorism, there is less evidence that it was a case of domestic terrorism. While the media pontificated yesterday that it could have been an innocent natural gas explosion, and when they finally abandoned that theory turned to suggesting it was domestic, their reasoning for both suggestions was flawed.
One of their "explanations" was that the devices were too crude and too small. Everyday, more crude and smaller bombs, aka IED's, are used in places like India, Israel, Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, Somalia, Mali, and Pakistan. In fact, the documented cases of using a pressure cooker bomb have ties to the Taliban, in Pakistan, Afghanistan, and even in New York City's Times Square.
Another of their suggestions was that it was "tax day." The McVeigh types have less connection to 4/15 than they do to 4/19. The 19th of April is the anniversary of Waco, of Ruby Ridge, and of the Murrah Building attack in Oklahoma City, and events deeper in History. One would hope that the backlash from OKC would be enough to force the McVeigh types re-think such a tactic. In the aftermath, American recoiled against such groups, and McVeigh's hopes that it would turn into a Revolution fell flat on the reality that we don't like people killing kids, or attacking unarmed civilians. The terrorist attack in OKC hurt his "cause" far more than anything the government has ever done.
Moreover, the McVeigh types have a beef with the government, not those running the Boston streets. Their target is far more likely to be a federal government installation than a sporting event.
Some have suggested that the Boston Marathon was "not international" or "not global enough" to be a viable target for Islamist terrorists. First, Islamists don't need a target to be international, but this was by far international. More than 90 countries were represented by the runners. Nearly half the nations in the world were represented. That's international! Al-Qaeda in particular does not need an international flavor to an attack. The Times Square attack was less international than this. They gain financial support by attacking Americans. They have a stated position that ALL Americans are considered to be militants, regardless of whether they are running the streets of Boston, or defending a base in Eastern Afghanistan.
Some whackos have suggested that US Government agents conducted the attack on orders of top US politicians. Simply idiotic. Politicians will use any event that pops up to make themselves sound more compassionate, stronger, and get their pet legislation passed, but they have no need to create the events. There are enough psychos out there that will create the events for them.
But the question of the common man is "What can or should I do?!?!" The answer is to reach down inside, and find your resolve, your resolve to not be afraid. There were more people killed and injured on the streets of Massachusetts by traffic accidents, than by explosives, last week. Of 310 Million Americans, this act of terrorism only killed 3 people. We don't fear cars, nor phones on which text messaging has become the number one factor in accident fatalities.
That does not mean that you should pretend terrorism does not exist. You should have a plan for what you would do if someone entered your building or office or shopping mall with a bomb, or even a firearm. You should think about this NOW. You should decide NOW, under what circumstances you would KILL the attacker, and consider the means you would use. You should decide NOW how you would assist the injured, learn how to help the injured, and when your duties would require instead that you protect your child or others.
And you should come to grips with the fact that following an explosive event, your pure intentions to help, could mean that you're just a person in the way. You should come to grips with the fact that an explosion occurs in a split second. You need not fear it. An explosion will kill some, injure others, and leave others unscathed. It is over in an instant. There is little anyone can do about it, and most victims of it have no idea it is coming. You can keep your eye out for suspicious behavior, for suspicious packages, and avoid them, or report them.
What else can you do? You can give to Pro-Troop and Catastrophic events Non-Profits. The American Red Cross not only runs blood banks, but assists with victims, in these types of events, as well as natural catastrophies. If you give in the name of this event, they may use your money for the next one. Our Troops are on the front lines, risking their lives on a daily basis for your safety.
You can pressure your politicians, your Congressman, your Senator, to call terrorism what it is, and to continue to take the fight to the enemy, rather than to bow to pressure to prematurely "end" a war the enemy has no intention of ending.
You can educate yourself on the enemy. You don't have to know the differences in theology of Sunni, Shia, Bahai, Salafi, and Sufi, but you should have a concept of the atrocities of Hezbollah, Hamas, Al-Qaeda, the Weather Underground, and the Animal Liberation Foundation. You should understand the difference between Islamsists and Muslims.
You must come to grips with the fact that evil does exist in the world, that there are a minority of psychotic people who will kill, maim, injure, or steal from you, for nothing more than their own personal entertainment, but possibly by justifying their actions as "part of the greater good," or even to "teach you a lesson." What stands between you and evil, are the Sheepdogs, Military and Law Enforcement, but when the Wolf knocks on your door, it is YOU that is your first defense, no matter how willing the Sheepdog is to deal death to the Wolf that would do you harm.
"Situational Awareness" or being observant and alert to the world around you, to the possibility of evil knocking on your door, is your most potent defense. Paranoia is your enemy, as is anger and blissful ignorance, but recognizing when someone is behaving abnormally can save your life. If the hair on the back of your neck stands up, don't ignore it. Explore why your subconscious is warning you.
Having a plan, preconceived, of what you would do, if you were confronted with any variety of bad situations will help you, if you face any of them. The fewer responses you can identify for the greatest number of incidents is the best. People "freeze" because their mind is overwhelmed, and cannot decide between responses. Decide, and consider, ahead of time, for as many events as you can imagine.
But don't stick your head back in the sand, and don't allow fear to stop you from doing the things you must do. Live your life, but be aware of your surroundings. Support Our Troops, and their mission to keep you safe, but be ready if the enemy slips in, to your door. The Israelis have done it for decades. Our Troops volunteered to fight the enemy in their backyard, so you could be safe in yours.
Laughing Wolf has additional tips for planning for and acting in an emergency situation (natural disaster or terrorist attack) and Assoluta Tranquillita has more common sense to add to the discussion.
Out of GITMO comes word that there are 'clashes' between guards and detainees, as over 40 of them continue to stage a hunger strike.
From the BBC:
13 April 2013
Clashes at Guantanamo over hunger strike prisoners
The move came after detainees covered surveillance cameras and windows, a US Army spokesman said.
He said some prisoners used "improvised weapons" and in response "four less-than-lethal rounds" were fired.
The Pentagon says 43 prisoners are on hunger strike, but lawyers for the detainees say the number is higher.
Margaret Thatcher became Prime Minister of England a few years after I left 'England, MY England,' (D H Lawrence reference for those unaware,) but over the years I have followed her career with interest and watched her undeniable impact on the British way of life.
When I first heard this morning of her death from a stroke, the first thing that came to mind was her unflinching response to IRA Bobby Sands' hunger strike, and her unswerving decision to reclaim the Falkland Islands after the Argentinians decided to occupy those British territories. (An interesting video on the Empire striking back, here.)
In the hours following the announcement that yes, she has actually died, I have been listening to the global responses to her death. I don't know that there is ever a good time to die - for any of us - but I have to think that Margaret Thatcher would not be pleased with the state of the world today. It occurs to me that the current POTUS should probably be relieved that he has not had to face the indomitable Iron Lady during his own term(s) in office. Margaret Thatcher's principles and philosophy were diametrically opposed to every decision, in any arena, which he and his 'most transparent ever' government have forced on the American people - often behind closed doors.
The State of America is in disarray from the priorities of the average individual, to the elitist attempts of politicians to control the everyday decisions of Federal Subjects of the government. We must figure out, at least the major symptoms of what is wrong, and the causes. We must re-examine the body of laws on the books. And yes, we must also study the words, meanings, and intent of the US Constitution, and the Bill of Rights, through the prism of the Declaration of Independence. We must examine where we went wrong.
I've examined, discussed, and expounded upon the US Constitution several times and several ways before this. In short, the Constitution is not the problem. Ignoring the simple rules laid out by the Constitution by legislative judges, elitist power-mongering politicians, and greedy partisans is the problem.
The symptoms of the problem are myriad, far too numerous to discuss in a single body of work. Some of the problems have previously been discussed here: "policeing for profit," debilitating taxation, search and seizure of persons, papers, and effects without a warrant, and more.
The subject of the education system has been touched upon, and it is one of the key roots of the problem. Forty years ago, many children walked to school, while today even those that live next door to the school may be bussed to it, or away from it, to one further away, to mega-schools. While spending upwards of $250,000 per classroom per year, our kids are walking texting while driving away with a diploma that won't get them a job, and barely knowing how to read and write.
Politicians have turned the school system into an instructor of morals, and have used kids to pressure their own parents into behavioral change, while teaching to the test, but not the subjects. Parents have relinquished their parental duties of teaching morals, and accepted medicating their children out of kid behaviors. Parents are using the school system as a babysitting service and teachers have trended towards having the kids teach themselves, via technology, rather than actually doing their jobs. In these inefficient, expensive mega-schools kids learn that they are just another cog in the wheel, while attaining feel good awards for attendance.
Some school board somewhere should seriously consider trending back to the small, neighborhood schools. Schools, that are close enough that kids can and do walk to them. Not only would it have an effect of providing a little exercise for children, reducing the obesity epidemic, but would save the school system considerable money on fuel, as well as the purchase and maintenance of busses. More importantly, these smaller schools would re-build the personal relationship of parent-teacher-student and likely increase the accountability of teachers to actually teaching, and the student to actually learning.
Instead of moving back towards kids getting out and experiencing the world around them, we're seeing kids encouraged to withdraw from an insular, inside buildings lifestyle, to an inside electronic device life. I've literally seen the current generations sit at a party, and text on their "smart" phones the entire time, some of it to those around them, but oblivious to those across from and next to them.
Schools need to get back to the basics: teaching actual subjects, not morals.
Policeing needs to be re-evaluated. Citizens and Politicians need to recognize that the Police do not prevent crime. They catch criminals that have committed crimes. As alluring as it might sound to incarcerate someone before they commit a crime, it would be wrong to do so. But when those criminals are arrested, charged, and found guilty, they should not be allowed to walk back out through the revolving doors of the prison system. Yes, we need to prioritize who should be in prisons, but we also need to recognize that child molesters are not rehabilitated. It also means that we must stop criminalizing immoral behavior.
When the police, or the politicians, break the law, they must be held accountable, and due to their position, held to a higher standard. This needs to come from within their ranks, which currently have a reputation for protecting their own, even when one of their number has disgraced their profession. The badge is not a license to bully Citizens, nor to ignore the laws they claim to enforce.
When a policeman or police department goes on a rampage, shooting up neighborhoods and citizens, because a car happens to be similiar to that of a suspect, their fellow brothers in blue should condemn the lack of professionality, and call for that department to go back to the Academy to learn basics like "positive ID" of your target, announcing your status, and actually aiming your weapon.
And the use of technology to conduct policeing must be evaluated and regulated, in accordance with the Bill of Rights. The use of cameras, for example, is not necessarily an invasion of privacy, but the technology is being used beyond Constitutional bounds. A license plate reading camera that alerts police that a stolen car, or criminal's car, is in the district is not an invasion of privacy, but the maintaining of records of movements of law-abiding citizens does cross that line. Security cameras that record activity in case a crime is committed are not the problem, but use of those cameras and recordings beyond the documentation of crimes is wrong.
The use of the word "Right" has been abused, misused, and distorted. You have a Right to: Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness. You have the Right to Free Speech, to the Religion of your choice, to own Firearms, to not have your home, person, or papers Searched or Seized by the Government. You don't have a right to take someone else's life, or use the government to seize the property of others. You don't have a right to be guaranteed happiness, or to goods and services you can't afford, aside from a Lawyer when the government accuses you of a crime. You don't have a right to a play station, a job, a paycheck, or health insurance.
The word "Citizen" is misunderstood. A Citizen is equal to all other Citizens, including the Politicians, the Lawyers, and the elitist billionaires like Bloomberg. The Citizen is not a subject of the government, as Americans are becoming. A Citizen is not ruled by the Government, but is an equal ruler of the Government. A Citizen is not simply the resident of a locale, of a city, a state, or a Nation, but instead involved in the decisions of the servants selected to run those governments. And that comes with the responsibility to make an informed to decision about those politicians, and to monitor the actions of the employees they selected to run the governments.
Even "State" isn't perceived according to its definition. Israel, Egypt, Britain, and Russia are all States. State is not a synonym of Province, Department, County, or any other form of subordinate government. The States were united in a common defense and common foreign policy, not in an agreement to subordination to the dictates of elite politicians. The term State is regularly used with the adjective "Sovereign," though that is somewhat redundant, and most often used to emphasize that other States don't have the "right" to interfere in their business. "United Nations" means the same thing as "United States" but the UN has no authority to tell the US or any State within it what to do.
It is not better to have a bunch of cheaply made stuff that you bought on credit than to have a fewer quality goods that will last into your grandkid's lifetimes. It is better to have a business, than a job. It is better to be a stockholder, a co-owner, of a good company, than a gambler at the slot machines. It is far better to have quality goods that you can use to make money, than to have the money itself, and having savings and investments is better than having cheap stuff that'll break or be outdated in a month. And having cash on hand, or in the bank, is better than having debt to the bank.
It is better to buy something made by someone you know than someone you don't. It is better to spend a dollar or two more for something made by someone in a Factory in your State, than by kids in Pakistan. It is better to Buy American, than to buy cheap stuff made by political prisoners in China. The more Americans you keep employed by buying their goods and services, the better your own chance of finding and keeping a job. Not everyone needs a college degree. College does not and should not teach the skilled trades, like carpentry, electrical work, and plumbing. A factory worker doesn't need a college degree to push a robot's buttons. It is better to take your car to a mechanic with a HS Diploma, than to a Doctor with a law degree from Harvard as well.
But pointing out that you as a consumer are also responsible for your employment status, is me, using my Right to Free Speech, not me, calling for the government to make a law to force you to act responsibly. Your decisions on what to buy have an impact on the whole economy, but they are your decisions to make, even if your irresponsibility decreases your chances to earn a paycheck.
And me pointing out that the education system is broken is not me being against teachers. It is me calling for School Boards to look back to what did work, and fix it. More money thrown at the problem won't fix it. Better use of the money that is already there is the place to start. It is not me calling for Federal greater involvement of the Federal Government in the local government, but rather in calling for less.
And pointing at the oppressive trend of police forces is not anti-Police. I have great respect for most of my Brothers in Blue, but they need to rid themselves of Wolves in Sheepdog's clothing, and Citizens need to hold responsible the politicians that are ordering them to infringe on the privacy of the People. Ninety-nine percent of the Police Officers I know are upstanding members of society, and avoid even the appearance of wrong-doing, but the unions and administrators who priortize writing speeding tickets over investigating burglaries, or who are paying outsourced camera companies, so they can collect a portion of the fines, over cops walking the beat, have forgotten, or ignored, their mandate.
It is time for the American People to read George Orwell's "1984," and consider the parallels of "Big Brother" watching their every move, of the consequences of "double-think" and a diminishing vocabulary. It is time for the American People to read the US Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and the Declaration of Independence, and re-think what they want politicians to do. It is time for us to stop infringing on the Rights and Liberties of others in order to attain the "free stuff" the politicians promise for subservience.
It is time for all of us to practice Responsibility, rather than to claim a right to infringe on others.
Regardless of the aspect of government, or legislation, or budget of it, "It's complicated," is an apt description, and it should not be. The US Constitution was written in plain English, on 4 pages, with strong, concise language. It clearly defines what is the responsibility of the Federal government, what is within the authority of the State governments, and with the Bill of Rights, what are the God-Given Rights of the Citizens who allow the existence of the Federal Government.
The primary responsibility of governance falls upon the States. The Federal government is charged with external policies; war and diplomacy. And where Federal government is concerned, it is the Representatives of the People that are given the power of the purse, and without which no law can be enacted. The Constitution creates 3 branches of federal government, one to legislate, one to preside over the affairs of government, and one to pass judgement when conflict occurs. All those that take position within the government are required to swear an oath to the Constitution, not the political party on whose ticket they ran.
Consider the prophecies of doom regarding "sequester." If the chief politician is to be believed, there will soon be kids turned away from school, criminals let out into the streets, firemen left to watch homes burn, long lines at the airport, as well as a new invasion of illegal aliens and gnashing of the teeth. And all of this is to come because the Representatives of the People have not submitted to greater taxation of the most taxed population on Earth.
Let's look at the dire prophecy again. The US Constitution does not authorize federal involvement in schools, in local law enforcement, or in fire fighting. That is not to say that government has no role in these things, but rather that these are the responsibility of State and local government, not the Federal government. The taxes collected, laundered through bureacrats at the Federal level, and returned in lesser amounts to the districts and States is money that is not available for the Citizens to pay directly to the Teachers, Firefighters, and Policemen through local taxation.
Contrast the US Constitution's 4 pages with ObamaCare's more than 2000 pages. Any Citizen with a basic grasp of grammar can understand those 4 pages, while even the politicians that sponsored ObamaCare noted they could not comprehend ObamaCare, even with their law degree. While lawyers of the chief politician argued that it was a tax, and hence allowed under the 16th Amendment, the politicians themselves argued that it wasn't.
And even if the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, appointed by the chief politician of the "other party," argued that as a tax, it is Constitutional for the politicians to force Citizens to purchase a service, it is not. Domestic government is not within the Constitutional authorities of the Federal government. Insurance, corporate law, and legislation of Citizens falls under the responsibilities and authorities of the State Governments.
When one considers that for the first 120 years of American History, the Federal government was funded primarily by a tax on alcohol, and tariffs, both of which remain today, and without any income tax, and that it was during that time that Andrew Jackson was the only person to preside over a government of zero debt, one must ask how the most taxed nation on Earth has a deficit greater than the budgets of vast majority of governments on Earth, combined.
The Federal Government has grown to such a great and complicated size, that not even the highest levels of bureacrats or politicians can accurately state its size or nature. Even the relatively small Department of Veteran Affairs has such a complicated set of regulations, and unionized disorganization of bureaucrats, that not even they can understand its complete nature. The much larger, if better organized, Department of Defense has published enough regulations and manuals to fill whole libraries, and require a specialized cadre of lawyers to prosecute. And those are Constitutional bureacracies.
The Constitutional role of Federal government was so small that it was only required for the Congress to convene annually. There was that little for them to do, and it was up to the man elected to preside over the government to implement their decisions. The majority of laws effecting the average Citizen were to be enacted by State governments, not Congress, and certainly not Executive dictates.
If Americans will elect Representatives, instead of politicians, that return government to its Constitutional bounds, Freedom can be returned, deficits erased, and taxes decreased. Prosperity will return. And it really isn't complicated, or at least does not need to be. Yes, State taxes would increase, but to an overall total less than those amounts paid today, without the deficits and debt.
In many minds, Freedom and Democracy are synonyms, where benevolent governments obey the will of the people, and prosperity follows. The spread of "democracy" has been highly heralded in recent years, after a few years of slogans that we can't force "democracy" on others. Our Founding Fathers did not predict the "elections" of Islamist dictators in Iran or Egypt, or the perpetual "re-elections" of Communist Premiers in the Socialist Democratic Republics, but they did understand that democracy can be a detriment to Freedom.
They understood that those that seek power, i.e. politicians, can never be satisified with the amount of power they attain. As they looked around the political landscape of the day, they saw Princes who dreamed of Kingdoms, and Kings who could not be satisfied with Empires.
The Founders rebelled against monopolistic power of Monarchs, against the most democratic Empire of their day, because it had usurped the Rights of the People.
The 20th Century brought a new kind of tyranny, Communism and Socialism, whereby dictators ruled completely by convincing the workers to shed their blood in pursuit of the tyrant's governmental monopoly. Attempts of Empire by Hitler's National Socialist Party and Stalin's International Socialist Worker's Party were equally tyrannical and murderous, all in the name of "the People."
The deciding defining difference between the democracies of the Iron curtain, Islamist Iran, the democratic monarchies, and the United States, was and is the Bill of Rights. The Constitution affords no caveat to the Sovereign Citizen's Right to Free Speech, to Bear Arms, or to Remain Silent in their own defense. The Constitution sets itself as above all desires, or laws, of the politicians. It sets the Rights of the People, above their democratic right to vote the Rights away from their fellow Citizens, or the politicians democratically elected to represent them.
The missing link in "pro-democracy revolutions" of the Middle East, as well "Occupy" movements, has been that while rebelling against a suppression of rights (or perceived rights), they espoused the denial of Freedoms of others. Egypt did not even have a Constitution when the Islamist President called for a worldwide ban on speech that "slandered" Mohammed. While committing violence against fellow citizens, "Occupiers" called for the banning of other Citizens to start or run businesses. Claiming to be "the 99%," they have an unusual number of the top 1% of wage earners, and unrepresentatively small number of "the masses" they claim to be.
It isn't that the rich elites of socialist/communist movements wish to give up their own financial well-being or power, but that they wish to consolidate even greater power under their own hand of government. Unsatisfied with the shared financial successes in a competitive system, they want to control all finance, in a government monopoly.
But large swathes of politicians find the chants of the entitled "Occupiers" intoxicating, and hoped it would find traction. The growth of government means a growth of power of the politicians that rule the government, and popular support for the monopolism of swathes of the economy by those political elite would mean monopolies of power.
While democracy makes allowances for the voters to suppress the Rights of others, Freedom prevents even the most powerful, with widespread support, from removing those Rights. Freedom means protecting the right, but not the implementation of Speech calling to curtail Free Speech. Freedom cannot survive, without the force of the strong protecting the weak, from the masses.
Freedom not only means the Right to pursue success, and happiness, but the right to fail in those pursuits, on one's own merits, and to keep whatever was gained, or to lose what was risked in those pursuits.
While Iran has a "right to speech," as well, it is caveated that the government can ban speech it doesn't like, and does ban that speech which is "anti-Islamic."
"We, The People" laid down rules and restrictions on the Government in the US Constitution, which not even the popular will of we the people can take away, no matter how power hungry the politicians we democratically elect may be. And when, we, the people, accept the specious slogans of the party to overturn the God-given Rights of Our Fellow Citizens, we have given away Our Own Freedoms, and in the end, our own prosperity.
The War on Terror has not been won. The enemy in Afghanistan is not defeated. It is entrenched in Pakistan, and has expanded in Africa. It has taken the reins of government in Egypt and Tunisia, and fighting for power in Syria. The Administration has called for and is implementing an "ending" of the war, while expanding the drone wars, and few will argue to continue a fight the Troops are not allowed to win by the politicians that sent them there.
For years, I have argued that we cannot afford to "end" the war, without Victory. Many times, I've answered the trolls' question of "what is victory?" The simple answer is "breaking the enemy's will to fight." Previously, I've explained the particulars of how and what that is in regard to Afghanistan, and the greater War on Terror. At this juncture, it is immaterial. For the next 4 years, we are stuck with an Administration that will do exactly the wrong thing in nearly every case, and an opposition to the Administration that has less interest in actually righting the ship, than in exploiting how far off course the POTUS takes it.
In 2008, MilBloggers warned Americans that the junior Senator of Illinois was either clueless, or too arrogant, and would make the wrong decision for the wrong reasons, and backstab the Military, the Troops, and Veterans in the process. They were right, and proven right, consistently over the next 4 years. In 2012, MilBloggers pointed out the record. The candidate promised "fundamental change," and he has delivered.
His speeches have called for screwing the military, at the same time he promised to "not break faith" with them. It's like announcing a retreat, while calling for a "surge." Or devoting nearly an hour a week to the "top priority." Or telling Veterans how dedicated he is to them, while adding a few thousand dollars a year in new tax to the the health care benefits they earned.
The current Administration is going to continue those policies, while promising not to, in the same speeches that promise to protect them from it, like opposing sequestration because it'll break the military's back, while calling for greater cuts to the DoD.
The War in Afghanistan is winnable, but this Administration won't allow it to be won. The War on Terror is winnable, but this Administration will continue to commit to the policies that are losing it. Where does that leave us? Fighting to fight for a Victory that the Administration won't allow? Sending Our Troops to risk their lives in a war that will "end" but not be won? The clock has been turned back to 9/10/01. Americans have slipped blindfold over their own eyes. The current crop of politicians will remain in power until at least 2014.
While Our Troops are deployed to Niger, Uganda, and places unreported to the people, and our drones bomb "threat TV stations" in Africa and elsewhere, Liberty and Rights at home are being curtailed. And the same old politicians are being re-elected.
Increasingly, I am reminded that I cannot protect Our Nation alone, and that my words are less persuasive than I would have liked to think.
Is there a point to fighting the War on Terror, including the War in Afghanistan? Yes, but only if we are going to fight to win. Is there a point in fighting to keep Our Liberties at home? Yes, but if I can defend only those of my own, then it will be mine for which I maintain a defense. If Americans won't fight to keep their own Liberty, can it be kept?
If America wants her Warrirors to fight, then Americans must also stand up for their own Rights, and must defend their Warriors from the politicians they put in office.
Today, President Karzai has ordered US Special Forces out of Wardak Province. The US-Afghanistan relationship has changed significantly since 2008 and its unlikely to improve before 2017. To be fair, the relationship has constantly deteriorated since the first trip that then Presidential candidate, and junior Senator from Illinois, but presiding chairman of the Senate Afghanistan committee took to Afghanistan in 2008. The junior politician with no real experience disrespected the elder President, in his own home, back then, ordering the President to bow to the junior Senator's orders, while alleging crimes against his host.
The complete lack of cultural understanding meant that the Obama-Karzai relationship would never be a good one. There is no more enduring memory, than that of an Afghan. They are slow to befriend strangers, and have strict rules of conduct with regards to host-guest. They are loyal to friends, but not to those that attempt to buy them off. Their trust is not given lightly, but once given, it is enduring.
So, when Obama campaigned to install a "counter-weight" to Karzai, despite the elections of Afghans, it was not just in disregard of democracy, but a direct assault to Karzai. When it campaigned to elect Karzai's rival to his position, it sealed the animosity towards Obama, personally. When Obama sent the arrogant Holbrooke to an "AfPak" to tell the two countries what to do, it ignored the proud sovereignity of the Afghan people, and implied the larger Afghan nation was subservient to their neighbors, which still supports the terrorists undermining the Afghan government.
Since 2009, Karzai has demonstrated a less than positive response to the Obama Administration, and has made some demands that are less than positive towards operations there, but until now, it has been mostly bluster, the kind of political mouthing off that is expected of a politician, while the reality of enforcement of those demands was less than forceful. Mostly, it was the kind of talk the Afghan people expected of their own sovereign and duly elected leader, while he winked at US Commanders, though not so much at the "diplomats" of the Administration.
Eikenberry, Holbrooke, and Clinton had all burnt their bridges with Karzai, with a total disregard for Afghan culture, and an attitude of Karzai being a vassal of Emperor Obama. If there was one positive to Kerry's appointment, it was that his previous encounters with Karzai had demonstrated respect of that culture. Despite, all the other negatives of Kerry, Karzai was the one place I expected he would make a positive difference.
Nevertheless, the re-election of Obama, to serve for the rest of Karzai's term, means that Karzai knows relations with the US will not improve while Karzai is President. It means that Karzai has no need to pretend to get along with the Obama Administration, during the rest of his lame duck session. And Obama's insistence on "ending" the war, while demanding the basing of "counter-terrorism" Troops and drones to bomb the neighbors in Afghanistan means that the best Afghanistan can hope for, is a steady stream of dollars, after Karzai is out of office.
There is very little future for Karzai, or Afghanistan's democratically elected government, except the recognition that there will be a steady increase in Taliban, and other terrorist elements. That means the smart money is on a return to Taliban rule, or at least great swathes of Taliban control. It means the smart Afghan politicians are making accomodations to that eventuality. Obama is pulling out, and cutting the number of Afghan Troops he'll have America pay for, while at the height of US, NATO, and Afghan Troops, there was still a great deal of Taliban influence. He's "ending it" to demise of US friends, and the joy of the Taliban, and other enemies.
The post 2008 Karzai-US relationship is in stark contrast to the 2001-2008 relationship. In 2001, Karzai was nearly killed in the fight against the Taliban, alongside US Special Forces Troops. It was a US Special Forces Medic that saved Karzai's life. In 2004, he was asking Bush for a continued US presence in Afghanistan, and even a bigger presence. As late as 2008, he was a strong ally of the US. And it is astounding that few else seem to notice the link between what was and what is.
But then RealPolitik comes into play. The reality is that Karzai's deteriorated relationship with the Obama Administration is terminal. It means that Karzai is moving towards appeasement of the Taliban, in part out of insistence from the Obama Administration, but more due to the reality that they will be too strong to resist with too few Afghan Troops in 2015.
At this point, the US must consider whether to consider the Afghan government an enemy, and fight another war of regime change, or to abandon the country completely, to the Taliban, but the allied relationship is no longer salvageable, and the Obama Administration made a bunch of commitments, but received little in return when it signed the "spike the Football" tour agreement with Afghanistan on 1 May 2012. The greatest gift, and greatest asset, we have to offer Afghanistan is Our Special Forces Troops. Kicking them out of an entire province does not bode well for the future of Afghanistan, the War on Terror, or our continued efforts in Afghanistan related to it.
The only real certainty is that 2017 will bring a new US President dealing with a different Afghan leader, but at this juncture, it's difficult to imagine a scenario where the 2006 US-Afghan relations have returned, or an Al-Qaeda as weak as it was in 2008.
If we are to not watch Liberty and America evaporate for another 2000 years, we must convince American voters that Freedom is more important than "free stuff."
"What has become of society? Common sense has gone out the window. Morality is a lost art. Half the people are getting some kind of aid from the rest who are giving it at the point of a gun. Principles get warped with time. Politicians lie with abandon. What was evil is now good and vice versa." Continue reading at The Caveman
The inalienable Rights of the Citizenry are guaranteed, not granted, by the US Constitution, in the Bill of Rights. The separation of powers, between States and Federal government are crucial to Liberty, and Prosperity
The erosion of the Constitution, and the principles of Freedom, has been steady, but has seen periods of acceleration and slowing. From 2009 to 2011, it was a mudslide, and politicians are again trying to accelerate the un-Constitutional powers of the Federal Government.
But, we did not arrive at this point overnight, and the erosions of the foundations we now see were set up by legislation and amendments of a century ago. But there comes a point in the erosions of a foundation, when the structure itself rapidly collapses, and we are approaching that point. We have arrived here due to the apathy of the voter, and the activism of power-grabbing politicians.
Hence, to rebuild Our Constitutional Republic, we must awaken the voter, and vote in Representatives of the People, rather than the crooked lawyers that have taken over the Halls of Government. Liberty cannot be forced upon the People. Those that understand its importance must use their voices to convince the People of the mechanisms of maintaining it, and rebuilding it.
If the Dorner/LAPD event should tell us anything, it is that the Police cannot protect the citizenry. They may plaster "To serve and protect" on their cars, but they've forgotten whom they are supposed to serve, and their job is not to protect. Their job is to catch, arrest, and bring to the courts criminals who have already committed crimes. Even if they wanted to prevent crimes, they cannot arrest those who have not yet committed a crime. And there are not and can never be enough police officers to be everywhere a crime might be committed.
In fact, IF they are in an area where a crime is being committed, the sooner they are able to stop the crime, the lesser the charges against the criminal, and the sooner the criminal is back on the streets.
The first line of defense against criminals is the Citizen, the potential victim of the criminal, who must decide whether to attempt to stop the crime, to submit to the criminal, or to hope someone else will come to their rescue.
The Dorner case is particularly relevant, as one of the largest police departments in the Nation went to war against a single man, fired thousands of rounds, conducted a manhunt, and shot at many innocent bystanders, without ever hitting their actual target. In at least 3 separate events, numerous LAPD officers opened fire on property and citizens that had nothing to do with Dorner. It remains unknown how much damage they did, but after thousands of rounds loosed at his final location, in an area not only occupied by Dorner, but populated with innocent bystanders, it was not an LAPD bullet that killed him. Dorner killed himself, after the LAPD set fire to a citizens house.
Given audio evidence of Police calling to "Burn it," as well as historical evidence that the LAPD is using devices that are prone to causing fires, denials that the cabin was fire was intentional have the same credibility as the kid who denies getting in the cookie jar, while crumbs litter his mouth and shirt.
The MSM has largely ignored that the incoherent writings of Dorner were in line with Democratic platforms, and prefer to paint him as a "trained military killer," than as a disgraced Navy Reserve officer with little ground combat training, and no combat experience. While much has been made about the "automatic fire" during his final "battle" with the LAPD, little has been said that Dorner was armed only with handguns, and the automatic weapons of the police department failed to be aimed at, or hit Dorner.
It should be pointed out that if a private citizen had fired even one bullet in the manner the LAPD did, the LAPD would have charged that person with felonies and other charges, including reckless endangerment. Video evidence shows that the Police were barely pointing in the general direction of the cabin, owned by an innocent bystander, suspected of being occupied by Dorner, and not at a positively identified threat, much less the subject of the manhunt. It is no wonder they didn't hit their target. They didn't have a target. It surprising that they didn't hit and kill more citizens that had nothing to do with Dorner, or any crime.
But the Dorner case is not the only case that demonstrates a lack of marksmanship training in police forces. In 2012, the New York Police Department shot several innocent bystanders while missing the shooter they were "trying to stop."
Nearly every homicide is a demonstration that the Police cannot protect the Citizenry from criminals. The remainder are those few cases when criminals have penetrated the police forces and murdered those that police officers cannot protect. This should not be taken to mean that my Brothers in Blue are not well-meaning, or that they don't attempt to do their jobs well, but rather that their bosses, the politicians, have set the wrong goals for them, and set false expectations of the people in them.
Numerous cities, particularly the larger police forces, have determined that they don't have the resources to respond to property crimes, except when tens of thousands of dollars have been stolen or destroyed. The same politicians that cut back on police response to crimes against the citizenry, have not cut back on demands for citations for minor infractions of the citizenry. Drivers and pedestrians are still paying fines for speeding and jaywalking, while the police take a "phone it in" response to theft from the vehicles and homes of those taxpayers. The courts are still padding the retirement funds of judges with "court costs" of those taxpayers that don't argue their guilt in speeding tickets, while politicians push for traffic fines, instead of investigations of burgularly rings.
And what is the response of the most powerful politicians? To remove the tools of the citizenry to defend themselves.
While the politicians refuse to prosecute David Gregory for breaking Washington DC laws against possession of 30 round magazines, they push for National bans of private citizens to own or sell their own 15 round magazines.
It is not a surprise that the LAPD failed to hit the target they didn't take the time to identify or aim at, or that the politicians have attempted to increase their own power and influence by removing it from the citizenry, but it still astounds me, that the people have failed to push back against the efforts to subject them to "elected" rulers, and the efforts to remove their Right to Self-Defense.
It is surprising that so many partisan voters have bought into the party line that they should report suspicions that their neighbors are "extremist" supporters of the Constitution, but give up their own Right to prevent a criminal from turning them into victims.
But remember, when life and death is measured in seconds, the police are only minutes away.
A popular question in politics has been "What is the American Culture?" or "What are American Values?" There has been an emphasis in America placed on "multi-culturism" which has implied an equivalency between American Culture to "racism," and excluded it from the realm of multi-culturism. The answer of would be rulers is that there is no such thing as "an American Way of Life," as the real answer is at odds with their own greed for power.
The truth is that American values and culture do not exclude cultural aspects of immigrants of other countries, but rather it is a culture of God-given Rights and Liberties. Americanism means that the Citizen, not the ruler, is the Sovereign. It is a largely unspoken and undefined definition of the American Way of Life. It is implicit in the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights, and understood, if unstated, by those that argue for the restoration of principles and policies of the US Constitution.
The American way of life is not democracy. Democratic election of Representatives in a Republican form of government, was simply the means used to achieve personal freedom, and sovereign liberty of the Citizenry.
Competing forms of government: monarchies, socialism, islamism, theocracies, and the like that have come before, during, and after the "American Experiment" were distinctly different because the government ruled the lives of the citizenry, rather than being the servants of it. Whether King, Ceasar, Pharaoh, Emperor, Premier, Caliph, Holy Roman See, or "Dear Leader," the difference was that these rulers dictated the rules to their subjects, rather than bowing to the rules written by the Citizenry.
The subjects of these rulers were forced to beg the Sovereign for the means of survival, and called the Sovereign a tyrant when allowed to keep too little of their labors.
The "American Experiment" was less that it afforded the Citizenry a means to peaceably change the politicians in government, than it was that it placed the Citizen as Sovereign over the government, and those politicians, by binding them with the constraints of the US Constitution. While politicians have clung to the title of "public servant," they have shed the cloak of what it means to be a Representative.
The American way of life required a new name for the senior executive of government, for he was to preside over the government, not rule the lives of the People it served. He was the President, not the Commisar, King, Emperor, or Czar. He was to preside over the daily business of running the government, based on the authorizations of the legislation, budgets, and constraints of the People's Representatives, and the US Constitution, not dictate to the Citizenry what they could or could not do, or own.
Should the "Post American Century" prove to be a reality, it will not be that the resulting economic prosperity has waned, but rather that the concept of the Sovereign Citizen has been removed from reality. The prosperity of the People, and of the Nation, is a measure of the results of Liberty, not the measure of the American way of life. While that prosperity has attracted many that have not grasped the concept that government is subservient to the people, but Liberty prevents their belief that government is a tool to bar others their own Rights, prosperity is the result, not democracy, of Liberty.
There are aspects of some cultures and religions that are not within the American Culture. Among these are those that would ban speech as a "hate crime," or blasphemy, or that would prevent one religion from converting others from it.
And, as the American way of life places the Citizen as Sovereign to the government, the servants running the government of the People, has no authority to remove or forbid property, including firearms, to its Sovereign, even if the Citizens' Right to Free Speech convinces others of the Citizenry that "something must be done" to include the removal of other Sovereign Citizen's Rights.
The American way of life, the American Culture, means that Sovereign Citizens accept responsibility for their actions, in return for their Rights to their Liberties. It means that they must respect the Sovereign Rights of Fellow Citizens, even when they dislike the manner in which those rights are executed. It means that the government is authorized to step in, only when one Citizen (or government) interferes in the Rights of another, not to remove those Sovereign Rights of the Citizen who has not. It means that sending a bullet into another Citizen's land is an infraction, while the sound of that round being fired is not.
The erosion of these principles has occurred only with the tacit approval of the Citizen, and with the greed of greater power by those that desire to be politicians and rulers, rather than Representatives and servants of their district. The erosion has occurred by means of promises of delving out small bounties of "free" things, taken at greater cost than if purchased directly, from those it is given. The erosion has occurred by means of specious slogans by the would be rulers marketed to the beneficiaries of those "free" things, in exchange for a few Rights removed here or there.
For example, public housing is given freely to those that will promise not to own firearms, and are willing to commit to less in income. For those willing to live in a state of "poverty," by American standards, a financial incentive is available in the form of free housing.
When the American Citizenry have accepted their role as subjects of the Ruler, of the Government, then the "Post-American Century" will have begun. It will not have been a "move forward," but a return to the past, with the illusion that elections have afforded the subjects a choice in who rules their lives, and titles that have lost their meanings clung to, in order to maintain that illusion. The "public servant" who decides the fate of "citizens" is not a servant, but a bureacrat of the ruler whose dictates it enforces. The "President" who rules its people, rather than presides over their subservient government can be as great a tyrant as any King or Czar, as the Iranian People can attest. Then again, elections in Iran were emplaced solely to provide that illusion, not to provide the people a voice in their government.
Following the terrorist attack on our Consulate in Benghazi, in which Ambassador Stevens, and three US Veterans, working for the US Government were killed, a number of Flag Officers, Generals and Admirals have had their careers or positions cut short. Rumors are beginning to circulate that the Russian Military Intelligence Service, the GRU, has concluded that the Flag Officers were fired due to a fear by Obama that they were plotting a coup d'etat. Others are speculating that the same officers were fired for refusing orders to ignore pleas of help by the US diplomats in Benghazi.
These officers include the AfriCom commander, General Carter Ham, the CentCom commander, General Mattis, and, a strike group commander, Rear Admiral Charles M. Gaouette. This would be in addition to General David Petraeus resigning in the wake of the attack on exposure of an investigation into an affair, and General Joseph Dunford, 2nd in Command of the Marine Corps suddenly stepping down, and General John Allen, who is the ISAF (Afghanistan) commander.
While little has been said on why most of these officers are suddenly being replaced early, resigning, retiring, or relieved, vague allegations have been made against some of them, such as "questionable decision making" or unproven and unsubstantiated allegations of improper emails. There is little doubt that so many senior officers having their careers cut short in such a short period of time would spark interest by Russian Intelligence. Intelligence services are always interested in the changes of leadership, the why's, and the implications of the replacements. There is no doubt a report on it, somewhere in the Kremlin.
On this side of the pond, we should have a public accounting for the strange departures of so many Flag Officers, as it does raise questions, and drive rumors.
Is there a possibility that Obama fears a coup? It is a possibility. Those that crave power are often narcissistic, and paranoid. If it's possible that he fears one, is it possible that there is a chance of a coup? Highly doubtful. Our military officers have served under Republicans and Democrats, short of the young lieutenants, who joined in the last 4 years. There is a significant independence of politics in the military. The flag officers in question are not in Washington, for the most part, so they don't have the physical capacity to do so either. Unlike many countries, the opportunity for US Generals to take over the reins of government is incredibly remote, even if they had the motivation and internal support for it.
There are Generals that are very political, as Admiral Mullen and General Dempsey demonstrate, but they served under President Bush, before openly using their positions in support of Obama's politics. So, if Obama fears a coup, it is an unrational fear, ie. paranoia.
Obama does have a record of firing Generals that don't toe the party line, whether they support the party and him, or not. Examples include every General that has been in command in Afghanistan since he took office: General McKiernan, General McChrystal, General Petraeus, and General Allen, none of which served a normal tour as combatant commander, and only one of which is still in the military, but whose next position, as well as current position, is unknown and un-nominated. Several Generals have been nominated for what amounts to a demotion: General Allen (since withdrawn) for ISAF to EurCom commander, General Petraeus from CentCom to ISAF commander, and General Dunford from Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps to ISAF Commander (possibly withdrawn).
The frequent change of command in Afghanistan has contributed to a flailing effort there. Different leaders have different styles, and different ways of accomplishing the same goal, but there has yet to be a commander in charge since 2009 that was able to bring his way into fruition. Consequently, violence in the country has been higher than 2008 (and every year prior) in every year since 2008. Despite claims of "progress," the "end" of the war will be on the heels of its most difficult years, and without victory.
Admiral Charles M. Gaouette had assumed command of Carrier Strike Group 3 in April, 2012. Of the current round of firings, his is the most unusual. He had served less than a year in the position and was relieved during the middle of a "float," which occurs only in the most significant of circumstances, not normally for "questionable judgment." It generally takes proof of a major error, like shooting at civilian craft, or invading a non-warring country, without orders.
According to some rumors, General Ham was physically restrained during the Benghazi attack, for attempting to assist American defenders, and relieved of command by his 2nd in command. Authority for such moves would have had to have been ordered from levels higher than the subordinate officer, ie. General Dempsey, the Secretary of Defense, and/or the President. These kinds of things happen in Hollywood more often than in the US Military.
Nominations by the POTUS for promotions and positions of General Officers are rarely opposed by the Senate. I can't think of a single instance when a nomination has been denied, and only one, General Pace, that the Reid led Senate made known that would be opposed, and hence his continued position was not nominated by then President Bush. And despite rumors and political meanderings, until this POTUS, there has been little substantiation that Flag Officers were being terminated for political reasons, at least in the United States.
Politicians have terminated Generals for other reasons. Abraham Lincoln fired Generals like Donald Trump fires celebrities, likely extending the Civil War by years, but that is an example of why politicians should stay out of military decisions, rather than why Generals should stay out of politics. Hitler and Stalin were both known for not only firing, but executing Generals, and that too proved disasterous.
General MacArthur was terminated for openly opposing the restrictions placed on him in the Korean War, and the war was fought to a truce, and still today threatens to become a shooting war again.
The question in my mind is not whether these Generals were considering a coup. I seriously doubt that. The question, for me, is whether they told the hard truth the politician did not want to hear; ie. that Al-Qaeda is growing stronger (due to the policies of the POTUS), and that they wanted to, or attempted to do something to change that, either in the Battle of Benghazi, or in an attempt to persuade the politicians about the greater War on Terror.
My hope is that the Generals that have served honorably, and retired gracefully, will soon step up and tell the truth about the situation, but that is rare for good Generals. More often, the Great Generals, like Petraeus and Schwarzkopf maintain silence in retirement, unlike the political generals such as Wesley Clark and Shinsucki. And unless the Generals (retired) do step up to the plate, it will continue to be left up to the former NCO's and Colonels to speak out.
In the meantime, the Benghazi and Afghanistan commissions of Congress should call these Generals to testify. The American People deserve to know if the Generals are guilty of misconduct, or they were fired for political reasons. The American People deserve to know if the Generals were ready to save Americans' lives, even if their politicians were not.
To begin with, let's get this straight: the government is the servant of the people, not the other way around. We're making the government, reluctantly, because its a necessary evil, but we're limiting it because well, history proves that government usually abuses power (Preamble).
So, we're going to select Representatives by election, and they are the ones that are going to write all laws. If they suggest a law, the President then has a choice to make it a law or not. The Representatives are going to the people we think are the most level-headed, and smartest, and most like us. ONLY Our Representatives can suggest increasing taxes on us, and they're the ones that will tell the government how much it can spend.
We get to decide when we hold elections, through Our State governments, and the politicians have to work, at least once a year, in December. Since we already have governments (States), and they're closer to us than you are, we're going to have Our Representatives at those governments send Senators to also keep you in line. We'll pay you for the work you do.
Our Representatives can fire the President if he breaks the law or becomes a tyrant.
Don't be taxing us into the poorhouse. Don't be spending Our Money like drunken politicians. You have to tell us how every dime is spent. All your taxes have to be uniform to all. You can't be playing favorites. Only Our Representatives can borrow money.
Our Representatives will make the rules for the Military, and pay Our Troops and build places for training and living of the Troops. And before you go starting wars, you have to convince Our Representatives that we should go to war. No one gets to use Our Troops against us, unless there's a rebellion.
You can't make laws against things that already happened. Any laws you make are only about the future, and no one is guilty of breaking the law before it was made.
Our Representatives get to make the laws for what goes on in Washington DC too. They get to decide about printing money, building post offices and roads to them, and make copyright and patent laws, as well as punishing pirates.
Don't be taxing us a bunch of money. And don't be spending Our Money without Our Representatives saying you can.(Article 1)
And because we know that there needs to be someone to conduct the day to day business with the world, we'll pay a guy to preside over the government we authorize. He doesn't have any authority over us. His job is to run the government, not to rule the People, us. Remember, we're the boss, not you. You don't rule us. We rule you. You work for us.
He can talk to the Ambassadors of other countries and make agreements with them, for us, if Our Senators say its okay. And if the Senators say so, he can pay people to help him run the government. If the Senators aren't around, he can hire someone TEMPORARILY until they start working again.(Article 2)
And since we know people are always arguing over stupid things, we'll let the President suggest judges that Our Senators have to approve, to settle disputes. The judges get to judge. They don't get to make any laws. You have to let us decide, by jury, if the person did what you said they did. And you can't be hauling him off to another place to have the trial.
And you can't be killing people just because you call them traitors. You have to prove they actually helped the enemy, while we're at war, not just because they said they don't like how you act or you think they insulted you. To prove they are traitors, you have to have two people swear they did. (Article 3)
Citizens of one State get to move to other States and be Citizens there if they want to, and the new State will trust the other one's papers. Criminals will be sent back to the State where they did the crime. All the States will be run by Representatives elected by the People too. The Federal government is responsible for making sure foreigners don't invade their borders. (Article 4)
If you don't like the rules we made for you, you can suggest changes, but 2/3rds of the politicians have to convince 3/4ths of the States to change Our Rules. (Article 5)
We'll pay the debt you racked up in the old government, and all the agreements you made.
Our government, Our Rules. These Rules supercede all rules, agreements, and anything else you say or do. If you want to make a rule we said you can't, it doesn't mean anything, no matter how many times you say it does. Now, before you can be part of Our Government, swear that you'll obey Our Rules. (Article 6)
These Rules are in effect as soon as 3/4ths of Our States say so. (Article 7)
Yeah, we figured you'd get too big for your britches, so here are some more rules for you:
We get to say what we want to say, where we want to say it. We can do it in churches, papers, or in petitions and protests. And you can't tell us what religion to have, nor stop us from praying. You can't stop us from telling you that you're a bunch of blood sucking leeches. (1st Amendment)
We get to keep Our Guns. Guns are important to keep us Free. You ain't takin' our guns. (2nd Amendment)
Our Troops won't get free lodging on Our Property, unless there's a war going on. Otherwise you have to pay us rent if you want us to give Soldiers a bed. (3rd Amendment)
You don't get to look through Our Stuff unless you can prove to a Judge that we did something wrong. You don't get to take Our Stuff from us either. That means you can't go through any of Our Stuff, not our pockets, nor our homes, nor our papers. You can't search NONE of Our Stuff, unless you prove to a judge that we did something wrong. (4th Amendment)
You can't try to kill someone, unless a bunch of us (grand jury) says there's a reason to give him a trial. You can't take Our Stuff, until you've proven to us (due process/court) that someone did something wrong or you pay us a fair price for it. You can't keep trying to prove someone guilty. You get one chance. You can't take his Stuff, his Liberty, or his Life, until you have proved he's a criminal. (5th Amendment)
If you're trying to convince us he's a criminal, you have to have the trial right away. It's got to be in public and in the place you said he did it. You can't be using the infamous "someone" as a witness to your allegations. Either the person says it to the guy on trial, or it doesn't get said. And the guy you accuse gets to have one of those educated, double-speaking lawyers too. You're not the only one that gets to hire the liars. (6th Amendment)
Any time more than twenty bucks is on the line, we get to have a bunch of us decide, a jury of us. And if a jury says we're not guilty, you can't take us to a different court and try again.(7th Amendment)
You can't make us pay a bunch a money while we're waiting for a trial. And you can't be making up cruel punishments, even if our peers say we're guilty.(8th Amendment)
Just cause we didn't tell you you couldn't do something doesn't mean you can. Anything we didn't say you could do, you can't. Remember, WE are YOUR bosses, not the other way around. (9th Amendment)
Let me say this again, if we didn't tell you you can do it, you can't. Anything we didn't say you could do, are things we get to do, or Our States get to do. (10th Amendment)
Like we said in the beginning (Preamble), WE, THE PEOPLE, are in charge of the government. You work for us, not the other way around. We tell YOU what to do, what you can and can't do. Don't be getting too big for your britches. Don't start thinking you can tell us what to say or do, or what we can or can't own, or what we can or can't buy, or what we have to buy. Don't be trying to take Our Stuff, or looking through it.
Cpl Joshua Boston, former Marine, stepped into the spotlight following his open letter challenging Senator Feinstein's gun grab legislation, and calling Britain's Piers Morgan to return to the island of Banned Guns. Boston is representing sanity fairly well though Obama has decided not to deport the gun hating Morgan who is on a crusade to scrap the Bill of Rights.
UPDATE: Piers Morgan was fired in May of 2004 from his Editor position at Britain's Daily Mirror for publication of falsified pictures of Troops mistreating Iraqi prisoners.
Meanwhile, someone claiming to have also been a Marine, decides to throw his two cents into the pool:
"Boston’s attitude towards authority is frankly disgusting and his open letter is wrong in both its assumptions about why the gun-control debate has become heated, and the reasons why we should care about his opinions at all. It implies that because he served in Iraq and Afghanistan as a Marine, that he can choose which laws to obey while at home." "Anonymous Marine," as reported at This Ain't Hell
Let's put this in another context: Politicians and journalists attitude towards the Supreme Law of the Land is frankly disgusting and their open contempt for the Constitution they swore to uphold and protect is wrong in both the arrogance that they are above the law, and the reasons why we should allow them to sit in their chairs at all. It implies that because they won a popularity contest in the career pathes of the least trusted people in our Nation that they can choose which instances they will obey the Supreme Law of the Land.
"This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding." Article VI, US Constitution
In other words, the hierarchy of law is: The US Constitution (including Amendments), US Law made in accordance with the Constitution, Treaties, and State Laws. Any law that violates the provisions of the US Constitution is hence not a law, including treaties, including treaties with the UN.
"A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed." Amendment II, US Constitution.
Activist judges included, any law that infringes on the Right of the People to keep and bear arms is hence illegal and NOT a law to begin with. "Common Law" does not supercede the US Constitution, as the Judicial Branch is not given legislative authority, and are specifically bound by the US Constitution above and beyond their bounds of State and US Law, and common law legal proceedings which are also bound by the Law.
Hence, the only Constitutional or legal means by which that Right can be infringed is to amend the Constitution, changing the 2nd Amendment itself. No Vice-President, President, Journalist, Judge, UN body, or even the unanimous votes of the entire Congress can legally infringe the Right of the People, unless the Constitution itself is amended.
The anonymous Marine, along with General McChrystal, need to review their oath, to the US Constitution, and the Constitution which they swore to protect. It supercedes the whims of Congress, Presidents, Governors, Mayors, Politicians, and Pundits of the MSM, particularly those non-Citizens.
Piers Morgan, who is a journalist, a profession that is supposed to report the facts, not to advocate policy, is not an American, and has a passport for a place that has already banned firearms. If he wants to live in a place with the soaring violent crimes of a gun-free country, he can move home. If he wants to advocate for something, it should be for the arrest of his fellow journalist David Gregory to be arrested for breaking current gun laws in that gun-free mecca of violence and hot air, Washington DC.
Piers states (on CBS) that his brother is an officer in the British Army and has served in Afghanistan. That does not mean he "understands," as he claims, what a Warrior sacrifices. That means his brother does, not him. Piers states that he doesn't want his child growing up in a country with assault weapons, which are almost "M4 machine guns," further demonstrating his ignorance of weapons. (M4 carbines are NOT machine guns and the only way that AR-15's are "assault rifles" is by declaration of politicians and parroting of journalists.) The automatic firing M4 is an assault rifle, as is an automatic version of the AK-47. Civilian semi-automatic weapons are NOT.
However, given the updated information above, Piers is probably not very welcome in the Island Nation. I doubt visits to his brother's house are welcomed either. Given his lack of integrity, even by journalist standards, he fits right in at CNN, who must have known of the pictures published by Piers. The Piers Morgan resume ain't so shiny either.
Piers has a place to go, home. It already meets his criteria. As a subject of the British Empire, he doesn't have a dog in this debate. We broke our chains of the monarchy 237 years ago, and restated Our Independence, and the Independent Rights of Our Citizens in 1812, when they attempted to enslave Our Sailors. In both wars, we were outgunned and outmanned, by a Empirical force that was better trained and equipped, but let not the memory of Andrew Jackson and Tennesseans at New Orleans fade too quickly. That battle was fought with the best firearms a civilian could buy, and more Volunteers than Jackson could pay, but a far smaller force than the Empire sent.
No where in the 2nd Amendment does it mention what a Citizen "needs" or "hunting purposes." What it explicitly states is "shall not be infringed."
Despite the facts, some are arguing that long metal tubes embedded in plastic, ie. rifles, are evil. Senator Feinstein is arguing that we should ban and confiscate the tools of self-defense, though she owns and carries firearms herself, and works behind the protection of armed security.
Several politicians have stepped up to the podium to bemoan the electoral muscle of the NRA, but the NRA cannot pull a lever or push a button for any candidate. What it does do, is monitor the politicians and tell the voters how a particular candidate has voted on gun legislation. The influence of the NRA is that the majority of voters are against unConstitutional gun restrictions, in most of America.
Paul Howe, a 20 year Special Operations veteran and weapons instructor, explored the possibilities of how gun confiscation programs would be executed. In essence, he concluded that a forcible attempt to take firearms from the People would result in violent resistance, and that those officials that attempted it would be run out of town. In places like Texas, where Mr. Howe works, and in places like Tennessee, he is possibly correct. In places like Chicago, California, and New York, things could very well be different. In fact, much of the Northeast and the Left Coast have already voluntarily given up huge parts of their 2nd Amendment Right, voluntarily, without a fight. These days, I don't underestimate the people's willingness to tolerate "small" abuses of tyranny, by the government they "know."
“Confiscation could be an option. Mandatory sale to the state could be an option. Permitting could be an option — keep your gun but permit it.”– Gov. Andrew Cuomo, D-N.Y.
Others have opined that the gun control debate is just a distraction technique, to get people's attention off the fact that Obama just raised taxes on 100% of America's workers, and other negatives out of Washington. At a minimum, FICA taxes went up by 2% on the first dollar (and most of the rest)you made this year, and 2% on your employer for paying you to work, as well as the ObamaCare taxes. These tax increases won't pay for the new subsidies to DNC special interests, like "green energy." In their arguments, the politicians know that the House will prevent gun grabs, and are happy that the economy and fiscal cliff are finally seeing reduced air time in the media.
Even General McChrystal decided now was the time to break his silence. He opined that M4's belong on the battlefield, not in schools. Who could argue with that? I'll argue that airplanes belong in the air and airports, not on the roads and rivers, but that doesn't mean that you shouldn't be allowed to land one on your own cornfield, or keep one in your barn. When I was on the battlefield, I preferred that I had better weapons than the enemy, and that the bystanders be unarmed, but that doesn't mean I shot someone just because they had an AK-47, or even took it away from them. It just would have been easier to identify the actual enemy if non-combatants didn't have weapons, and that I could have shot all those that did, from a distance beyond the AK's effective range.
Then again, General McChrystal was fired by the politician he voted for, and ordered that Our Troops unload their weapons inside our bases in Afghanistan. Perhaps, he should have weighed in on why that politician ignored him and his recommendations on Afghanistan, instead of whether or not American Citizens should be stripped of their Rights. Perhaps, he should protect the Constitution he swore to protect, rather than the party he voted to put in power.
The gun industry and sports stores got an economic boost from the "debate," as law abiding citizens stocked up on what they feared would be taxed out of the supply system, or banned outright. Or as others have opined, Americans aren't stocking up before a ban, but preparing for a Civil War.
While the state legislature in Tennessee along with county and municipal officials discuss meaningful means to safeguard Our Children, politicians in other States are passing new laws that infringe the 2nd Amendment Rights of their subjects. Some of the new measures do include armed officials at the schools, as well as controlled entry points into those schools, with locked doors and key cards to get inside. Tennessee is considering the authorization of armed teachers, which has worked in Utah and Texas. The discussion of School Security did not start after Newton, but it was given greater prominence as a result.
On the other hand, Govenor Cuomo is pushing for banning even more rifles in the State of New York. The mayor of Burlington, VT has enacted new laws against rifles, though there appears to be no history of rifles being used in Burlington crimes.
And while the MSM returns to using the Aurora, CO massacre as an emotionally charged call for banning the means of self-defense, it ignores the more recent San Antonio theater shooting, in which a massacre was prevented by a woman with a gun. They ignore the Aurora church shooting which preceded the theater shooting, where an Armed Citizen prevented another massacre. They ignore thousands of such stories every year, because it doesn't fit their argument.
Some are claiming that the NRA and gun-owners are out of touch, and short on facts, or unskilled in debate. I contend that those that defend the Constitution, and Individual Liberty, are instead poor at executing their "marketing campaign." History and facts are clearly behind Liberty and small government leading to prosperity, and national prominence.
I would argue that the MSM's monopoly on information dissemination has hamstrung those that oppose their view. While the internet provides the tools for information to be disseminated outside of the MSM monopoly, even those that report information on websites rely on the MSM for their sources of information. This has created a circuitous cycle where the MSM still controls the debate, while individuals can falsely conclude that they are immune from its influence. The MSM talks about Aurora, or Newton, or Karzai, and the bloggers and Facebookers cite them. If you don't believe me, just look at the topics you discuss on Twitter and Facebook versus what the MSM is talking about.
While there are occasions that the internet buzz forces the MSM to address that which they attempt to ignore, like the Green Movement in Iran, or the Islamist takeover in Egypt, or Benghazi terrorist attack, it is both rare, and again slanted to their views. While CNN has no qualms publishing classified information from the US, it bowed to the demands to keep its reporters out of the streets of Tehran. And as they ignore the persistance of Islamist terrorists taking over the revolution in Syria, their female reporters are indicators as they cover their hair in the presence of Islamists. The more their hair is covered, the more extreme the Islamist faction.
Some facts: 33,808 Americans were killed in automobile accidents in 2009. 4,872 of those killed were not even in a vehicle. 4,092 of those killed were simply walking along. In contrast, 351 people were murdered with a rifle in 2009 (323 in 2011). Personal objects (817 murders) such as hand and feet, blunt objects such as hammers (623), knives (1,836), and shotguns (423) were used in more murders than were rifles of ANY kind in 2009.
Hopefully, there will never be a call to ban hands and feet, though more people are killed with them. It is impractical to attempt to ban hammers, though there are probably fewer of them. And despite the fact that cars kill more people than firearms, by more than 100 times the rate, I haven't heard anyone call for a ban on automobiles, other than the environmental whackos, and that's for an entirely different reason. Ten times as many pedestrians were killed by cars than were all Americans killed by rifles, and yet, there's no call to ban Sports Cars, or Limos, or even Pintos.
And let's look at England, as "gun murders" there are often used as proof that dis-arming the People leads to lower crime rates. The reality is that it does change the weapons used, but that England has a far greater violent crime rate, per capita, than does America. We could look at Mexico, but there are far more similiarities between the English and Americans than there are between Mexicans and Americans. Still, the gun murder rate in Mexico is far greater than in either, and they've banned guns for far longer. More than 12,000 were murdered over drugs alone in our less populous Southern Neighbor in 2011.
In England and Wales, 615 murders occurred in the 2009-10 timeframe, along with 588 attempted murders. Of the 54,509 sexual crimes, 13,991 women and 1,174 men were raped, making Detroit's 427 rapes look like a safe haven. There were 1,868 kidnappings. England and Wales had 55,240,000 people at the end of that period, or roughly 1/6th the US population. There were 871,712 violent crimes in that period, which includes part of 2009 and part of 2010. There were 32,491 charges of illegal weapon possession, along with 9,962 conspiracies to commit murder, in 2007/08. 19% of violent crimes involved a weapon, including 7,995 involving firearms and 33,771 involving a knife.
Only 45% of violent crimes were reported to the Police in England. Of those not reporting, 52% said they believed the Police could not or would not do anything about it (or it was "too trivial"), while 36% said they dealt with it themselves. Another 3% said they didn't report it because it was "a common occurrence." There were an estimated 2.2 Million violent crimes committed in England & Wales in 2010/2011.
England and Wales have a violent crime rate of 1,574 per 100,000 in 2009/10 and far worse than even America's most violent cities, such as Chicago's 1,050 per 100,000 or Washington DC's 1,326/100,000. And far worse than the US National rate of 405 per 100,000. What do Chicago, DC, and England have in common? Anti-gun laws. In contrast, Chicago is far more urban than England, and England is less urban than America as a whole.
Many argue that we "must do something." The "something" so many argue for ignores the facts, and plays on emotion. The "something" almost always calls for greater government interference in the lives of individual Citizens. It may feel like we have "done something" by holding a protest or signing a petition, and sometimes those are the best ways for Individual Citizens to "do something," but the most important "something" we can do is educate ourselves, and point Our Friends and Family to the base information, so that they can as well. It may be emotionally satisfying to "do something" but before we do, we should look at the facts, and make the decision based on logic and reason, not just jerk our knee in reaction.
In this particular case, the fact is that about 1 in One Million Americans are killed by a rifle, so banning rifles, much less a particular type of rifle would have negligible or no effect on anything. The problem is not the means by which a life is taken, but the person who takes the life. As the trend in China demonstrates, evil, or psychotic individuals if you prefer, will use the weapons on hand to commit violence. In their case, is mass stabbings at schools, since that is the weapon to which they have access, and all guns are banned.
And if the government banned cars, more people would be killed in horse accidents.
Sheepdogs don't take the world for granted. They know that not only does evil exist, but that the wolf will attack on his terms, and that he, the Sheepdog, may not be as prepared, mentally and physically, as he would like to be. The Sheepdog knows the battle may come, that he does not win.
“Lord, make me fast and accurate. Let my aim be true and my hand faster than those who would seek to destroy me. Grant me victory over my foes and those that wish to do harm to me and mine. Let not my last thought be “If only I had my gun”; and Lord if today is truly the day that You call me home, let me die in a pile of brass” Rhino Den
The Sheepdog knows that only with constant vigilance, and preparation, will he be ready for the day the Wolf comes, and that only in that moment will his abilities and actions be proven. All of the bold statements before that mean nothing. All of the bragging thereafter will seem hollow. It is that moment in time that matters.
[No advertising partnership exists between WOTN and Ranger Up, nor has RU authorized use of its photos to WOTN. Ranger Up is a Veteran Owned business, with a great blog, and Warrior themed T-Shirts. Sheepdogs everywhere find a kindred spirit in the words expressed there.]
The same vigilance is necessary in verbal and political defense of Our Constitution and Liberties, as are necessary in the physical defense of Our Nation and People. Just as the Wolf may use the same weapons to kill Our Citizens, as the Sheepdog uses to defend the Sheep from the Wolf, so too can the political wolf use words to strip Our Citizens of Our Rights, as the political Sheepdog use to defend them. So too, can a tyrant use elements of Security to oppress the People, as a Statesman uses those elements to defend them from harm.
Unlike most of the world, in America, it requires the tacit approval of the People, to oppress them. The power of words becomes more important. The power of persuasion becomes paramount. But, it may not forever be so.
The ruling class, with the cheerleading of their Main Stream Media, continues to call, to persuade, to use the power of speech, to call on The People to support the suppression of Rights of the People. They continue to call for ever increasing "security measures" to reduce the personal security of the Citizen, while decreasing the Rights of the Citizen from those "security measures."
The Sheepdog alone cannot defend against these incursions on Freedom. And some Sheepdogs may even find themselves a tool of the Oppressor. Our Sheepdogs in blue must guard against the incremental incursion into the Rights of the Protected. They should more strongly condemn those Wolves that slip into their midst than the Wolves they hunt in the wilds, but they must swear allegiance to the law, not the ruler. And should the ruler order them to act against the law, against the Constitution, they must disobey those orders, for the Sheepdog serves the People, not the ruler. The Sheepdog follows the Law, the Constitution, not the whims of the ruler.
As we navigate these troubled waters, Our Sheepdogs need the protection of the Sheep, of the People, from the ruling class in Washington, from the corrupt class in Chicago, from those that would de-fang them, from those that would disarm the Sheepdog.
Those that would suppress Liberty, and oppress The People, have lulled the Sheep with specious speech. Those that would be rulers and those that sing their praises, now try to tell us that if only we disarm the Sheepdog, the Wolf will end his attacks. Despite the reality that Chicago, where they have de-fanged the People, violent crime is 3x greater than in Tampa, where the People are encouraged to provide the first line of defense against the Wolf, they tell us that we should take the means of defense from the law-abiding Citizen, knowing the criminal will retain his ill-begotten weapons.
Those that would suppress Liberty tell us that some speech must be outlawed, and label it as "hate speech." They tell us we should limit our words to only that which is politically correct. They tell us that any dissent from the politician in chief is "racist." They tell us that Our Troops should have no voice.
Those that bid the People to allow them to rule their lives for them, have convinced the voter to ignore their deeds and blindly endorse the Party in all it does. They have succeeded in diverting the Peoples' attention from their actions in Washington to the antics of mis-behavers in Hollywood. They've convinced parents to trust the schools to teach their kids their morals instead of the Bill of Rights. They've bought the compliance and obediance with trinkets to the masses, while ignoring their duties.
Their sirens sing their songs, and condemn their opponents as "do-nothing" as they ignore their duties to control the purses-trings of the People's Treasury, rather than restrict the People's Liberties with new legislation. And it seems that no matter how loudly the Sheepdogs bark, the Sheep will not awaken to the Wolves in their midst.
The Sheepdogs are barking, and it behooves the Sheep to awaken from their slumber.
If a Soldier were to disregard the 3rd Amendment, and occupy the house of a Citizen, the people would be outraged. If he were to follow the orders of a superior and execute a prisoner, they would demand his imprisonment. There is clarity in such cases, and the Soldier understands these immoral and unlawful orders may not and can not be carried out. Superiors understand that such orders will not be carried out and do not utter them. They have sworn an Oath, to protect the Constitution, and have learned when orders are Superceded by higher law.
But what of the lesser transgressions? The more ambigious legal conundrums?
The 4th Amendment guarantees the Right of Citizens to be "secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures...."
What if a bureacrat, or law enforcement official is armed with a law which requires him to search persons and documents? What if it is the job of the bureacrat to search the documents, without a Warrant, or to search their persons without cause? To refuse would be cause for termination? Does not the legislation of Congress or the Orders of the President make lawful what the Constitution prohibits?
No, it does not become Constitutional or lawful just because Congress or the President says so, just as it would not become lawful for the Soldier to commit murder just because he was ordered to do so.
The bureacrat knows however that if he refuses an un-Constitutional order, he will be terminated. In most cases, he was hired by the government to do precisely what he is being ordered to do, though also swearing upon employment to uphold the Constitution which prohibits it. The bureacrat knows that behind him are a hundred people willing to accept those orders, for the sake of the high pay, bountiful benefits, and "safety" of a government job.
So, the bureacrat justifies, in his own mind, that the citizenry is paying him to follow the dictates of politicians, despite the Rights enumerated in the Constitution. The politicians praise the bureacrats as "public servants," even as they order them to disregard the Supreme Law of the Land, the Constitution, to which they have sworn to uphold.
And these abuses are accepted by the People, as recognized by the Founders themselves, in the Declaration of Independence, "that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed." They further noted "that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes." In most cases, the people ignore the abuses, because they convince themselves it's only someone else abused, and often "that there's no reason to worry if you're not breaking the law."
History is replete with tyrannical governments, and the bureacrats which supported them, which subjected and are subjecting their people to far greater abuses than are our rulers, but those in power in Washington should take note that Liberty is ingrained in the DNA of the American People, that it is not a generation removed that the People would have stood up against the current dictates of Washington.
In such discussions, politicians will often point to the "will of the people" as justification for legislation which subverts the Supreme Law of the Land, but there is a reason that the Founders established a Republic, rather than a democracy. There is a reason that they established the Bill of Rights as supreme to any popular legislation by the majority of rulers in Washington, or even a Treaty signed by them.
And while the politicians claim to speak in the name of the people, they do so as they see fit, and do what they desire, regardless of the voice of the people. TARP, the UAW bailout, and ObamaCare were all opposed by the People, yet Pelosi, Obama, and Reid pushed it through anyway "so we could see what is in it." Obama claims his re-election means the people want higher taxes and more spending, though neither were on the ballot, and the people elected a House of Representatives that ran against those things.
And there is a reason that the Founders made clear in the 9th Amendment that "The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people," and in the 10th, that, "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."
The Constitution clearly delineates the authorities of the THREE (not four) branches of government. Legislative authority, as well as the power of the purse, and taxation lies with Congress. The authority to preside over that government lies with the Executive. The President is given the responsibility of running the day to day business of the government, NOT to rule the day to day lives of the People. The power to judge disputes, of law or property, lies with the judiciary. It clearly states that domestic law is the purview of State governments, while interstate and external policy belongs to the Federal Government.
The erosion of Constitutional principles began nearly as soon as the Founders established it. Alexander Hamilton himself accepted it only reluctantly, as better than the document it replaced. He worked the rest of his life to create a stronger central government, with fewer constraints. Then again, what he really wanted was a monarchy, and he knew it wasn't going to happen. It took centuries to get where we are, and would not be possible if the people themselves understood the Constitution, and the reasons for it.
The biggest blows to the Constitution came in the early 20th Century, a series of Amendments to it, which left the States with no representation in Congress, prohibited the sale of the government's primary source of funding, and established a more lucrative form of taxation. The 16th and 17th Amendments were ratified in 1913, and the 18th in 1933.
Few politicians would seriously challenge the Constitution for decades to come. Instead, Congress, with signature of the President, would use the power of the purse, to co-erce State legislation, such as helmet laws, seat belt laws, and speed limits. Because the Treasury could collect more taxes than it needed to run foreign policy, it held those dollars hostage from States that failed to bend to its will. The States became subservient to Washington, instead of the people.
But there has been no period in American History, when the rulers in Washington have so clearly flaunted their disregard for the Supreme Law of the Land. The POTUS is demanding that Congress give up the power of the purse, while he orders TSA to commit searches of persons, and the IRS to relieve the People of their earnings, if they don't buy things he wants them to buy. Congressmen of the 111th Congress have flat out stated that they will not be constrained by the Constitution, and the President has declared that "it is a flawed and outdated document." The Secretary of Defense (Panetta) flat out told Congress that the Executive Branch not only feels no compulsion to get approval for war (Syria, Libya), but that he doesn't even need (or plan) to tell them about it when he decides to bomb foreign TV stations or commit the Nation's aircraft to war.
And Bureacrats, which would demand imprisonment of a Soldier that followed orders to commit murder, face the situation to refuse un-Constitutional orders and be fired, to quit of their own accord and be replaced, or to carry out those orders, as judiciously as they can. These bureacrats, which can see the moral clarity when thinking of problems of enforcing the dictates for Hitler, Stalin, or Ahdiminijihadist, must justify to themselves that they are "only enforcing the law," as did Troops on all sides in World War II. Their very means of survival, their paycheck and livlihood, is at stake if they refuse. They are not forced to swear allegiance to "the party," but rather co-erced to pay the Union, which will be more than willing to hang out those that fail to pay, and eagerly protect those that follow their party decisions, no matter how lazy and inefficient.
I can honestly say I wouldn't want to be faced with the moral conundrum of a Federal bureacrat. I cannot honestly say how I would decide. I like to believe I'd choose to defend my Oath to the Constitution, but the threat of losing one's livlihood is one helluva threat. It's far easier to see the moral clarity from the outside looking in.
And as to the rulers in Washington, remember that Americans may one day awaken to the reality. I can only hope it will be in time to peaceably elect true Representatives, to turn back the abuses, because if Americans cannot be convinced by speech of their need to protect their Rights of Citizenship, no degree of violence will force them to re-establish those Rights, and those Rights themelves would be placed in jeopardy in a Civil War.
In the meantime, if my article of the promised land of low (State) taxes has you considering a move to the South, remember too that low taxes mean greater Liberty for your neighbor as well, and less government, that it means you can't tell your neighbor what to do on his property. It means the government won't enforce your desire to remove his old junk car, or stop him from target shooting (so long as those bullets are not ending up on your land), or make him buy something. So, if you want big government, go to San Francisco, or New York, or Chicago, where its illegal to own the means to defend yourself, and live on thee hope the Police come in time.
Down here, neighbors help each other and you're responsible for the repercussions of your own actions. Bring your snobbiness and you'll likely end up on your own, isolated and alone in a sea of Liberty. Be a good neighbor, and you'll find the meaning of "neighborly" and "Southern Hospitality." You might be awoken by a chainsaw too early in the morning, only to find the tree that fell across your driveway is just firewood, or kept up too late with legal fireworks on the night we celebrate Independence, but you're likely to be welcomed to the neighborhood with a warm Pecan Pie, and that feared phrase: "You ain't from around here, are ya?"
You may have a millionaire neighbor that wears bib overalls, an unkempt beard, and has a trailer home, but don't judge his intellect by how carefully (and slowly) he chooses his words, or how much grease is on his clothes from working on his own car. Don't judge his education by a lack of ten dollar words. You may one day appreciate his hard-working, traditional values of independence when your own car won't start. Yeah, we can get our own cars on the road down here. We don't have to wait 45 minutes for the tow truck to change the tire.
The United States spends $7.9 Trillion between Federal and State governments, including Social Security benefits. These spending programs are wrapped up into one in most other Nations. This amounts to 31.2% of all spending by governments worldwide. To put it another way, US governments spend more than next 4: Japan, China, Germany, and France combined and collects as much tax as Japan, China, and Germany, combined. Of 225 governments analyzed by the CIA world fact book, US governments collects more taxes than 208 governments combined, and spends more than 215 of them, combined, including Greece.
California alone, collects more taxes than all but 13 governments worldwide, and still can't balance its budget. The combined total of India's one billion people pay half as much as Californians do in taxes, and its government spends less than the booming Indian economy does.
The US Federal deficit alone could fund the Italian government, with a surplus, or Britain, or France, or even the 3rd biggest spending government in the world, Germany. There are 53 countries in the world that have a balanced budget, chief among them, Brazil, with a booming economy. The US deficit could fund all of them combined. The US Federal deficit alone is as much as China collects in revenue from its billion people.
Americans are paying enough taxes. 166.3 Million Americans are paying nearly $5 Trillion/year in taxes. That's 2.37% of the world's population of 7 Billion people paying 22.6% of all taxes collected in the world.
State and Federal governments are spending much more money than is necessary, or helpful. If spending or debt caused economic growth, then the US economy would be growing faster than any other in the world.
In the business and finance world there is such a term as "good debt," as well as "bad debt." Good debt is money borrowed that causes more money to come in than what is paid in interest to borrow the money. Good debt would be money borrowed to build the factory that produces the next major consumer item. In households, your mortgage would be considered "good debt," but a rental mortgage would be better debt (assuming you were profitably running the property.)
In economics, it is purported that you can grow an economy by one of two means: cut taxes or spend more. To an extent, that is true. A government that borrows money to provide transportation for goods from an industrial area to a port, will see that money returned exponentially, in new tax revenue. The government that borrows money to throw lavish parties for its bureacrats and politicians will see its debt grow without positive return. The government that borrows money to tear up a good road and build it again ("Stimulus" bill) will also see no positive return. It slows transportation temporarily, without adding any benefit.
Hence, the interstate system built by Eisenhower, as well as the Autobahn system built by Hitler, saw the economies boom and tax revenue spike. And yet Obama's "stimulus" spending that exceeded the spending of all but 8 governments in the world has done nothing to help the US economy.
Every dollar that the government takes from those that produce goods, decreases the amount that they can use to produce more things. You can't run a government, or protect those producers, without taxes, but the government should not take money from the producers without providing necessary services in return. It should not tax, just because it can. Spending for the sake of spending is wrongheaded, and in this case, theft.
China provides an example of the kind of deficit spending that is beneficial to economic growth. It spends about 4.8% more than it collects from its people, but has done so to modernize its military, and to expand its infrastructure, including transportation, ports, and energy production. It was expanding its infrastructure to such a great extent that worldwide copper and concrete prices soared, as well as oil prices. When it doesn't see double digit economic growth, financial markets see it as a downturn.
And Communist China is buying up America, while American consumers are buying their cheaply made goods. Communist China is loaning money to American politicians, so they can keep forcing American factories overseas, to China.
Temporarily, the Federal government is paying very little interest rates on that Debt. When those interest rates return to "normal," the deficit and debt will truly balloon.
The US government is spending more money than 95.6% of all the governments in the world. Not spending enough money is not the problem. Not enough taxation is not the problem. Americans are paying more than 92.4% of world's governments are collecting. 2.4% of the world's population (American workers) are paying 22.6% of the taxes collected in the world. It is time to return to the Constitutional limits of what the Federal government can do. It is time to cut spending to what is Constitutional. It is time to end pork spending. It is time to quit spending by Congress and the President that we don't have and can't afford to pay the interest on.
Ever heard about how you make more money up North? The problem is that it means big taxes, and less money for you. After taxes and costs, you get less and have less if you are the median wage earner in Massachusetts versus in Tennessee. Sure, you start out with $62,859 in Taxachusetts versus $41,693 in Tennessee, but you end up with the equivalent of $29,897 versus $37,417 in Tennessee.
Big government means big taxes and big taxes mean less money for those that actually produce things that pay the taxes. Some believe that making more money is worth having higher taxes, but the cumulative effect is that everything must cost more to pay the extra taxes. Chances are, that if you live in a high tax, "high income," state, you're living on less land, and paying a lot more for a smaller abode, with higher electric and gas bills.
There's a correlation between cost of living and taxes. The cost of living (COL) in Massachusetts is 138% of the cost in Tennessee. Tax burdens are 212% higher there. COL is 156% of TN in New York. The tax burden is 220%. COL is 152% of TN in California. The tax burden on workers is 200%.
I looked at 4 States: California, Massachusetts, Tennessee, & New York. The median income is $55.4, $62.6k, $41.7, and $57.3k a year respectively. They collect $3,157, $1,784.46, $3,350 & $3,477 in taxes per resident respectively. Unlike the other 3, the primary source of taxes in Tennesse is sales tax. There is no income tax. That means if you need to lower your tax bill in TN, all you have to do is spend less money. And with $14.1 Billion in tourism dollars spent in Tennessee annually, that lowers the taxes per resident down to $1577/resident.
Now, not every resident earns or spends income, so the actual cost to workers is different. The Bureau of Labor Statistics tells us that only 58.3% of the population is employed, as of August 2012. That brings the tax burden to $5,415, $5,746/worker in Massachusetts, $2,705/worker in Tennessee, & $5,964 in New York at the state level, in addition to property taxes, which is primarily a municipality/county tax. The average property tax is $1,369 in California, $5,207 in New York, $915 in Tennessee, and $2,613 in Massachusetts. This varies greatly in California, with many areas paying $6k/year in property taxes for 1500 square feet homes on postage stamps and others living in the desert. And yes, renters pay property taxes too. The landlord passes it on to you in the form of rent, because to do otherwise would mean he was losing money.
And then there's the mortgage/rental costs itself. Because everyone pays more taxes in three of those states, everything costs more, including real estate. The average home size varies in the 4 states, but 2500 square feet is not far off the average. In Tennessee the average 2500 square foot house costs $188.7k, where as in New York it costs $305.8k, in California $322.3k, and in Massachusetts $314.8k. On a 4% APR 30 year mortgage, that's $7,356 more per year in mortgage payments between a $315k home versus a $188.7k home, of the same size.
It's not just more expensive to buy a house in the high tax states, you also get less land. There's one person per 4 acres in Tennessee, one per 3 acres in California, where vast areas are uninhabitable, one per .65 in New York, and 1.3 per acre in Massachusetts.
And then there is the electricity to power your home. This too is more expensive in high tax states. The average house uses about 950 kilowatt hours/month. In Tennessee, that is $1022, in Massachusetts, $1743, in New York, $2124, and in California $1744 per year.
These aren't the only things that are more expensive because of the higher taxes, but these are some of the big items. The Cost of Living compared to the National Average is 88.9% in Tennessee, versus 135.1% in California, 125.2% in New York, and 123.3% in Massachusetts. That means it costs 138.7% more to live in Massachusetts, 140.8% more in New York, and 152% more in California, than it costs to live in Tennessee.
And just with the tax burdens and those few major expenses, homes and electricity, the take home income is less when the remainder is divided by the Cost of Living. If you have 2 dependents, your median income Federal tax is $8,537 in Massachusetts, $3,786 in Tennessee, $6,964 in New York, and $6489 in California. The remaining income is equivalent to $36,821 in Massachusetts, $41,676 in Tennessee, $29,263 in New York, and $29,240 in California.
But, how far does that money go? Sometimes, making less, with less government, means you have more to spend.
American States spend $592.3 Billion (State level only) on education alone, and yet our education ranks lower than many Nations in the world. More money doesn't mean a better education. Tennessee spends 29.75% of its budget on Education, or $1,457/resident, while California spends only 26.76%, but $2,029/resident on Education, but California has the worst ranked schools in the Nation. The tick on the back of Education spending is the Federal Department of Education, which has ZERO students, and yet sucks up $77.4 Billion in "Education" tax dollars.
Sources: Bureau of Labor Statistics, US Census Bureau, Property taxes.us, Electric Choice.com
Liberty cannot survive where the majority can strip their neighbors of it. Liberty cannot exist where the individual is dependent on the government. Rights come with responsibilities for your own actions, and for their results.
We live now in a Nation where many parrot slogans paradoxical to themselves. The same people that proclaim a right to "choose" seek to deny the rights of others to choose whether or not to pay for the choice of strangers. The same organized syndicates that proclaim themselves the defender of the worker, violently oppose the right of a worker to be employed without their union. The same politicians that work behind the security blanket of armed guards claim it would send the wrong message to protect children in our schools with the same. The same partisans that blamed W for an attack barely 8 months after he took office was still blaming him for the economy 4 years after he left.
And the same groups that cast criminals as hapless victims of society, call for all society to be disarmed as a result of the crimes those criminals commit. An ancient notion of objects having good or evil inherent in their character has been revived in the party of "critical thinkers." "Critical thinking" itself is used in a manner anything but what the sum of its words mean. It is most often used to defend the blind acceptance of the thoughts others tell them to believe.
The calls for a safety net for everything from businesses too big to fail to able bodied men too lazy to work fail to realize safety nets already existed before the government monopoly began nationalizing the scene. It's called insurance and it has always worked best when it was regulated by the laws of supply and demand. And the more the government taxes the worker to pay the non-worker's grocery and prescription bills, the less incentive the worker has to work instead of take the handouts he's paying for. The problem is that as the percentage of working to to non-working Americans continues to shrink, the less there is available in taxes to pay the non-worker's bills.
The more the government taxes, the less money there is for workers, and the less competitive American factories are against the child laborers of Communist China. And when factories are no longer competitive in America, the corporations have to decide to either go bankrupt, or build factories where they can be competitive. That means fewer Americans have work.
The cost of American labor, through greater regulations, higher taxes, and excessive hidden costs are not the only reason it's now difficult to find anything "Made in America." The American consumer has bought into buying cheap products made in China, rather than paying a little more for quality products made here, by their neighbors. But, cost is a factor. It is now cheaper to ship American cowhides to the other side of the world, to Pakistan, to be tanned into leather and sewn into coats, than to ship it down the street for the same process.
When an American consumer chooses the cheap foreign product over a quality American product, he is contributing to the unemployment rate, he is contributing to his own difficulties in finding work. He can make an excuse that its the corporation's greed, but it was his decision to buy cheap instead of buying American. It is his responsibility that he made those foreign made products profitable, and the American made products unprofitable.
If you want the right to do on your property as you wish, then you must surrender your desire to tell others what they can do on theirs.
Only 4 countries in the world spend more money than the Federal government borrows to spend, and no government in the world collects more in taxes, or spends more than the US Federal government. In fact, only one government spends more money in total than the Federal Government spends on "Social Benefits" alone.
With every new piece of legislation, your liberty is eroded a little more. With every benefit you get from the government, a little more of your right to choose is taken. With every new tax, your income is eroded a little more, as is your chance to find employment. With every liberty you ask to be taken from someone else, a little more of your liberty is lost.
In the practice of special counter-drug patrols, cars and semi-trucks are pulled over on excuses of small infractions. The targets have out of state license plates. They are then "asked" if they will allow a search of their vehicle. (Just say NO!) The police are looking for cash. The cash is then seized on the suspicion that it is drug profits. The driver is pushed to deny ownership to make the legal proceedings simpler. The cash is then kept by the law enforcement agencies involved in seizing it. If the Citizen wants his money back, the prosecutor's office requires them to fight for it, with lawyers, sometimes for years, at considerable cost.
While it was Tennessee's journalists that uncovered it here, these shakedowns are not just happening here. News Channel 5, WSMV, Nashville has been investigating the illegal seizures of property for two years, since the Institute for Justice came out with their report. What they found was an abuse of power, greed, and corruption. It is clear from the words of those in power, those stealing from The People, that it is a breach of the Constitution. The people of Tennessee are outraged over it, even though the police are targeting guests of our great state.
The Institute of Justice points out that this practice is happening elsewhere. It includes Michigan, Texas, and Georgia in its reports as being worse than Tennessee, and more than half the Nation gets graded at least as bad. It found that in 2008, more than $1 Billion had been seized from individual Citizens and was being held by the Department of Justice's Assets Forfeiture Fund. Download Inst for Justice - Policing for ProfitNewsChannel5.com | Nashville News, Weather
I encourage you to watch the video series. The defense of the practice by prosecutors and police officers should enrage you. When a police officer says "he didn't prove it wasn't drug money," it demonstrates a practice of "guilty until proven innocent."
"It is illegal to have proceeds." [of criminal activity], District Attorney General Kim Helper. The "fact that no one ever claimed the money proves it was illegal."
"The doctrine of in rem forfeiture arose from Medieval ideas, rooted in the ancient law of “deodand.” Kings, for instance, could seize an instrument that caused the death of another in order to finance the deceased’s funeral mass. The idea arose from a superstitious belief that objects acted independently to cause death." Policing for Profit, Institute of Justice
There is nothing illegal about using and/or having cash. I understand that in today's world few people use cash, but short of gold and silver, paper currency is still the closest thing to real money.
Constitutionally, it is the burden of the prosecutor and police to prove guilt in a crime, not the accused to prove innocence. This fundamental premise must be upheld in law, in legislation, and in practice.
Constitutionally, you and your property cannot be searched without proof of cause. It cannot be seized without Warrant.
"The right of the people to be secure in their persons, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures shall NOT be violated.." 4th Amendment, Bill of Rights, US Constitution
".. nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation." 5th Amendment, Bill of Rights, US Constitution
If you are pulled over and asked to forfeit your Rights, i.e., "Can we look in your vehicle?" Just say NO! It may be the practice, but it is un-Constitutional, for the government to presume you are guilty because you retain your rights.
What should happen now? The Governor and Legislature of Tennessee should act to remove the excuse for unlawful search and seizure. The Judges should clamp down on the practice and protect the Constitution they swore to uphold. And beginning with the DAG Kim Helper, and including every official uncovered in Channel 5's investigation, demonstrating the corrupt and un-Constitutional "justification" for these roadside shakedowns should be fired, and stripped of any chance of ever being in a position of authority again. Ms. Helper should be disbarred.
And Citizens of other States should press for their governments to do the same. I'm all for seizing the finances of criminal organizations, but that money is not guilty of anything. The owner of the money must be proven to have gained it through criminal activity, before it can be seized.
SSgt Workman is featured in the Hall of Heroes and a book review on this from Marine Till Death that read it as it was written: http://waronterrornews.typepad.com/home/2008/12/shadow-of-the-sword-by-jeremiah-workman-w-john-bruning.html
http://waronterrornews.typepad.com/home/2008/12/ssgt-jeremiah-workman-navy-cross-usmc-iraq-marion-oh.html and links to prior articles.
http://waronterrornews.typepad.com/home/2008/12/ssgt-jeremiah-workman-navy-cross-usmc-iraq-marion-oh.html and links to prior articles.
Reads like an action novel, but gives insight into the way a Special Forces team operates. Go Along as an SF Medic turned Team Sergeant Trains and Fights in Afghanistan and the Invasion of Iraq.