In attempting to explain the authority for the proposed health care legislation's requirement that individuals purchase health care insurance, Rep. Steny Hoyer last week claimed that Congress could require people to buy a great many things on the basis of the Constitution's reference to the "general welfare."
This creates a quandary. It long has been recognized that the reference does not confer any authority or power on the federal government as the "general welfare" is mentioned only as a purpose of the Constitution. So one has to wonder about a great many things, such as:
* Why, if the mention of the general welfare is all Congress needs as a basis for any action it wishes to take, did the founders bother going to all the trouble to enumerate in detail the specific powers the Constitution confers on the government's various branches?
* Why does the Constitution provide that any and all powers not enumerated and specifically conferred on the federal government are reserved to the states and the people?
Now Mr. Hoyer is not just any member of the House of Reprehensibles. He is its majority leader and thus second in the body's hierarchy, only to its squeaker, Nasty Nancy Pelosi, who, incidentally, has made similar bogus claims.
So one is compelled to wonder whether we are being led by people who are crazy, dishonest, evil, ignorant, stupid, or some combination of all of these things.
Whatever the answer, the idea that Congress has the power to impose on the country anything that a majority of its members deems to be (or can pass off as being) in furtherance of the general welfare is antithetical to the concept of a limited government. The idea would justify an unlimited government of men not laws . . . and therefore a tyrannical government.
Why, a new visitor to this blog has inquired, am I so dismissive of government?
I won't try to count the reasons, but I will mention just two or three based on matters currently in the news.
At the national level we currently are witnessing the inability of the federal government to come up on a timely basis with a sufficient quantity of the swine flu vaccine to inoculate all the citizens who should and want to be immunized against the disease.
Locally, in the San Francisco Bay Area we are seeing our transportation system grinding almost to a halt, paralyzed by the failure of a fix to one of its key components. A Labor Day weekend fix to the San Francisco - Oakland Bay Bridge yesterday turned out to have a seven week shelf life before falling apart. As the fix had to be approved by the engineering experts as well as the executives in charge of the governmental infrastructure, one has to question their competence and the safety of all of our tunnels, bridges, and roadways -- every component of the transportation system for which they are responsible.
That's at the micro level. At the macro level, it is noteworthy that the failure of that single component has had such widespread devastating effects on the overall transportation system and the economy of the region. Everything has slowed to something less than a crawl. The lack of redundancy is startling. For a fraction of the economic effects of the breakdown, we could and should long ago have built a southern crossing of the bay that has been talked about -- and only talked about -- for decades. No matter though -- Even if a decision were to be made to construct a southern crossing bridge or tunnel, given the way that things work these days, it probably would take another two or three decades to build it, and that would be after all the political and litigation delays were resolved.
What would happen were a similar breakdown to occur during a real emergency?
And these are the people and organizations that want to take over our health care.
Last week's NRA shocker -- see the October 16 post on this subject -- brought home to me that organizations exhibit protective instincts similar to those we see in living organisms. They all seek to thrive, prosper, and, above all, to survive.
However, in contrast to living organisms, which all have natural life spans, organizations seek perpetual existence . . . and this explains why those that purport to be goal oriented do not in fact want to achieve complete success. Achievement of the professed goal can devastate those who thrived and prospered while seeking it.
Remember the March of Dimes? Back in the days of my youth it was everywhere, collecting money to combat polio. It supported treatment of the disease and research into a cure for it. The organization almost died when a vaccine eliminated the dreaded disease. It frantically thrashed about looking for another cause. Ultimately, it survived by finding other diseases to combat but those diseases are less widespread and less feared and the organization faded into a shadow of its once omnipresent former self.
Just think about the civil rights campaigns led by Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton. Does anyone believe that those hustlers would wave their hands if by doing so they could eliminate all vestiges of slavery and discrimination, and bring their black followers to full economic and social equality with their white contemporaries?
The organizational imperative is to maintain its raison de'etre in perpetuity.
It therefore behooves us to examine the actions of every socially active organization in light of this organizational imperative.
Hispanic organizations have sought and continue to seek bilingual programs in our schools. How much of this is due to fear of Hispanics becoming assimilated into the larger English speaking society? Do they not have an interest in maintaining a support group of individuals bound (and limited) by language to a separate subculture?
The National Rifle Association provides another example of the subject phenomena. It campaigns for the preservation of the rights of Americans to keep and bear arms. If it had the capability to do so, would it eliminate all legal restrictions on the right of Americans to own, carry, and use any and all arms that they wished? Perhaps it would as the NRA does many very worthwhile things in addition to its activities in the legal arena. But it is the perpetual threat to gun rights that brings in the big bucks that sustains the organization and allows it and its leaders to live large.
The lesson drawn from these examples is that to perpetually survive, thrive, and prosper an organization should (i) work for a goal or goals that are not fully achievable or never will be fully achieved, (ii) strive to achieve limited but observable and, preferably but not necessarily, real gains toward such goal or goals, and (iii) regularly present to its supporters credible enemies and threats to previously achieved and/or future gains and to maintaining even the status quo.
None of this is inherently wrong or undesirable. But the organizational imperative is something we should keep in mind and consider in evaluating the activities of any and all activist groups.
More than 50 days have passed since Obama's personally selected commander in Afghanistan said a surge in the number of American troops was necessary to avoid defeat there in what Obama himself called a good and necessary war.
While the President has had ample time since then to engage in a broad range of far less serious -- and some would say frivolous -- matters, he has been and at this writing remains unable or unwilling to reach a decision on the call for reinforcements from his commander in the field. Every passing day without the requested build up in strength, adds to the dangers that our troops on the ground face and the prospects for ultimately being able to succeed in their mission diminishes. Keep in mind that the commanding general, in calling for additional troops, said that their early deployment was essential.
Perhaps President Obama is delaying a decision to avoid antagonizing, and to get the health care reform votes of his leftist allies who are opposed to the Afghanistan effort, or to delay the criticism of conservatives if he turns down the request for more troops.
Whatever the reason, the delay is unconscionable, and if political considerations are behind it, the delay is particularly shameful. As commander in chief the president doesn't have the luxury of voting present as he did when facing tough decisions as a legislator.
Delaying a decision is itself a decision of sorts -- it's a decision to leave the members of our inadequate force twisting in an increasingly dangerous wind in a conflict that has been under resourced from the outset. We need to get on with what it takes to win or get our soldiers out of harms way altogether . . . and the decision needs to be made now.
For more about the forces gathering to restrict the thinking of one and all to what our elite would-be rulers deem to be politically correct, take a look at this essayon the subject and at the other materials to which it contains links.
Look here to see how those in the House of Reprehensibles and the United State Sty are protecting themselves with a gold plated health care that is a far cry from what they are seeking to inflict on the rest of us.
Seven to fifteen extra hours that I can use productively every week during the football season have been bestowed upon me by the National Football League.
That is the time that I usually devoted to watching two to four (supposedly one hour) football games on television and/or to personally going to one in San Francisco or Oakland.
However, I no longer am doing that. Because the League surrendered to, and became complicit in the dishonest campaign -- a campaign based entirely on lies -- to vilify Rush Limbaugh, I no longer will have anything to do with it. Instead, I will satisfy my interest in football by watching on television and in person the younger semi-pro contests at the college level, most of which are at least as much fun as the professional ones.
Stating that I am not going to have anything more to do with the NFL is not quite correct. I will be letting the league, the owners of its teams, its television and radio broadcasters as well as the enterprises that advertise on and support the broadcasts that I will be avoiding them because of their participation in the past week's shameful episode.
Unprincipled Republican Party leaders -- now there's a redundancy for you -- have their knickers in a bunch and are crying fowl over conservatives having the temerity to nominate their own candidates for election to public offices in a number of key races.
This, they despairingly (and disparagingly) note, may draw enough votes from the GOP's anointed Republican In Name Only candidate in any given contest to enable the RINO candidate's Democrat opponent to win election.
Gee. Hard cheese and cheers, I say. If the Republicans want conservative votes they should nominate conservative candidates and not candidates who are only slightly less pink than the red Democrat progressive candidates.
As one who has watched individual responsibilities and rights erode before the rising tide of governmental expansions for more than seven decades, I say good for the conservatives. I am tired of voting for a candidate only because he or she is purported to be "the lesser of two evils."
If the choice is limited to one between a great evil and a lesser evil, one gets evil irrespective of which candidate wins, and that with rare exceptions is what we've been getting for as long as I can remember. Accordingly, I have resolved never again to vote against anyone and to cast my ballot only for individuals I judge to be worthy of support -- candidates who demonstrably are devoted to upholding the principles upon which this country was founded and built . . . to the Constitution.
As is indicated by this* more detailed scholarly analysis and exposition of this point of view, I am not alone or even lonely any more as enough other people -- a rapidly growing number, in fact -- are coming to the same conclusion.
* Note: The link is to the second page of an essay that includes a recommended pledge for every candidate seeking conservative votes. After reading the linked page, it is worth using the arrow at the bottom to go back to, and read the essay's first page.
Peace - That brief, glorious moment in history when everybody stands around reloading.
The above is from the quotes & definitions section of a new website of a truly admirable noncommercial and nonpartisan coalition of freedom loving patriots centered on the peninsula south of San Francisco. In addition to a fine assortment of other pithy and witty quotes and definitions, the site contains links to other somewhat similar groups in different locations as well as other materials relevant to the group's purpose -- to defend our remaining freedoms and to roll back prior incursions that have been caused by governmental expansions beyond constitutional limits on its size and scope. To visit the site, click here.
One of this blog's highly intelligent and very perceptive readers has responded to the preceding post with the following comment:
". . . gun people are just gun people, they are not freedom people. They don't really believe in rights, they believe in guns. Like any other single-issue organization, it's not that the larger picture has succumbed to tunnel vision over the course of time. Tunnel vision was the goal from the outset."
This not so humble blogger got a surprising shock last night at a meeting of a local unit of the National Rifle Association, an organization in which I am and have long been a life member.
I was suggesting that despite its successes elsewhere the NRA over the years has failed in its efforts to prevent the erosion of our gun rights in California*, and intended to initiate a discussion of alternate strategies that might be more successful. This made me a persona non grata at the organization's West Contra County Member Council. Before I was able to get to any details of possible alternative strategies, I was directed to be silent and invited, quite forcefully, to leave the meeting.
While I may have been overly blunt, direct, and forceful, and insufficiently circumspect, deferential, and delicate, it is clear that notwithstanding its professed dedication to the Second Amendment the NRA, at least at the level of this members council unit, has a very limited appreciation and view of the first one -- it is intolerant of, and ready to suppress any expressions of criticism and dissenting views.
It appears that the folks running the NRA show at this unit's level prefer maintaining tight control over a small** unsuccessful organization to even considering cooperation with other liberty loving people in collaborative efforts over which they would have less sway but that might succeed in the essential political arena.
* Other states in which the NRA has been unable to protect individual firearms rights include New York, Illinois, and Hawaii.
** Embarrassingly, the meeting, in a large venue, had fewer than two dozen attendees and almost all of them were very long-in-the-tooth to say the least.
Every survey indicates that a large majority of American believe the nation is headed in a wrong direction, but, as the invariably sagacious Charles Krauthammer points out inthis excellent analysis, the choice is ours to make.
Vermont State Rep. Fred Maslack has read the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution as well as Vermont 's own Constitution very carefully, and his strict interpretation of these documents is popping some eyeballs in New England and elsewhere.
Maslack recently proposed a bill to register non-gun-owners and require them to pay a $500 fee to the state. Thus Vermont would become the first state to require a permit for the luxury of going about unarmed and assess a fee of $500 for the privilege of not owning a gun.
Maslack read the "militia" phrase of the Second Amendment as not only affirming the right of the individual citizen to bear arms, but as a clear mandate to do so. He believes that universal gun ownership was advocated by the Framers of the Constitution as an antidote to a "monopoly of force" by the government as well as criminals.
Vermont 's constitution states explicitly that "the people have a right to bear arms for the defense of themselves and the State" and those persons who "conscientiously scrupulous of bearing arms" shall be required to "pay such equivalent." Clearly, says Maslack, Vermonters have a constitutional obligation to arm themselves so that they are capable of responding to "any situation that may arise." Under the bill, any adult who chooses not to own a firearm would be required to register his or her name, address, social security number, and driver's license number with the state. "There is a legitimate government interest in knowing who is prepared to defend the state should they be asked to do so," Maslack says.
Vermont already boasts a high rate of gun ownership along with the least restrictive laws of any state - it's currently the only state that allows a citizen to carry a concealed firearm without a permit. This combination of plenty of guns and few laws regulating them has resulted in a crime rate that is the third lowest in the nation.
The above is worthwhile even though it has not been verified, and the statement that Vermont is the only state that allows the carrying of a concealed firearm without a permit is incorrect. Alaska also allows the carrying of concealed weapons without a permit.
"Fidel Castro, Hugo Chavez, Muammar Qaddafi and Vladimir Putin have all praised Barack Obama. When enemies of freedom and democracy praise your president, what are you to think? When you add to this Barack Obama's many previous years of association and alliances with people who hater America -- Jeremiah Wright, Bill Ayers, Father Pfleger, etc. -- at what point do you stop denying the obvious and start to connect the dots?"
"After political crusades for 'affordable housing' ended up ruining the housing market and much of the economy with it, many of the same politicians are now carrying on a crusade for 'affordable health care.' But what you can afford has absolutely nothing to do with the cost of producing anything. Refusing to pay those costs means that you are just not going to continue getting the same quantity and quality -- regardless of what any politicians says or how well he says it."
For some inexplicable reason, those who are touted as our intellectual leaders by the mainstream media seem to admire the world's most bloodthirsty tyrants, as is demonstrated in this expositionby the estimable Walter Williams.
"That to secure these Rights [to Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness] Governments are instituted among men, deriving their just Powers from the Consent of the Governed, that whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these Ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it . . . ."
The Declaration of Independence Action of Second Continental Congress July 4, 1776
"There is a time for all things, a time to preach and a time to pray, but those times have passed away. There is a time to fight, and that time has now come."
. . . Peter Muhlenberg From a Lutheran sermon Read at Woodstock, Virginia 1776
Married couples: Two individuals who came together on the basis of mistaken assumptions. The man believed the woman would never change while the woman believed she could change the man. They were both wrong.
Lovers: Two individuals who satisfy each other's sexual and emotional desires.
Ideal lovers: Two individuals who find and share fulfillment and joy by enthusiastically, happily, and honestly satisfying each other's needs and desires.
President Obama piously asserts that the U.S. will not interfere in the internal affairs of other nations.
However, he makes an exception when it comes to tiny and impoverished Honduras. There he is teaming up with leftist despots from Cuba and Venezuela in efforts to bully the Honduran government to reverse its legal removal of a left wing would be despot who was attempting a gradual coup to remain in power as president beyond the term limit embodied in the nation's constitution.
The Obama administration and our despicable mainstream media are joining Hugo Chavez and the Castro gang in persistently calling what transpired in Honduras a coup, and in demanding its reversal even though (i) the Honduran congress voted to remove the offending president, and (ii) that action was upheld by the nation's supreme court, all in full compliance with the Honduras constitution.
When it comes to enabling labor union bosses to stealthily misuse members' funds in their organizations' treasuries, the Chosen One hypocritically throws transparency under the bus. Read all about ithere.
It has been more than a month since the President's chosen Afghanistan commander recommended substantial reinforcement of our troops there, stating that timely action on that recommendation was essential to achieving victory. More than a hundred American soldiers have died while the Chosen One has done nothing other than to mull over what to do.
One cannot avoid contemplating the possibility that what the nation's teleprompter-in-chief actually is thinking about is how to cut and run without suffering adverse political consequences for abandoning what he previously referred to publicly as a "good war" and one in which achieving our goals was essential.
Whatever the case, it is clear that he holds cheap the lives of our troops. They are being thrown away and wasted while he dithers.
He promptly either should give his general what is necessary to achieve victory or get our troops out altogether instead of leaving them in harm's way without everything they need to accomplish their mission.
The Chosen One swings into action but strikes out in his hugely expensive taxpayer funded effort to deliver the Olympic games to and for the Chicago political cesspool that spawned him. However, his lack of effectiveness notwithstanding, he apparently finally did find almost a half hour to meet with his chosen Afghanistan commander.
As the majority party in Congress continues to ignore the wishes of a clear majority of American voters and push for a national health care regimen, our neighbors to the north, having tried that, are, as this report shows, literally sick of their government's one-size-fits-none health care program.