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Tomorrow Begins Today February 25, 2011

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Today America’s leaders, ignoring the example of Dr. Kissinger, have abandoned realpolitik. Otto von Bismarck, the Iron Chancellor who united Germany coined the term.  In its original German it means “the politics of reality.” According to the tenets of realpolitik, foreign policy has only one purpose: the security of the state.  Instead our leaders have subverted it to crusading for the touchy feely advancement of causes and ideologies.

The recent visit of Hu Jintao, the President of Communist China, revealed the fruits of this strategy.  Prior to his arrival he demeaned the status of our currency and announced that he will not compromise over trade deals radically skewed in China’s favor.  And why should he?  He, along with the rest of the world, have taken their measure of  our current leadership and they know even if they don’t receive the infamous bow they will receive the deference reserved for everyone except our traditional allies.

Our trade policies force us to open our markets while those of our trading partners are blocked by fees and regulations.  Our foreign policy is littered with wars we aren’t allowed to win and we won’t stop fighting.  Our once dominate high technology has been given away or stolen.  Our once predominate industrial base has been shipped overseas. And our once prevailing credit surplus has been changed into the biggest debt in History.  This is the record of the last twenty years, and a record that reminds me of an old song, “Once I built a railroad, I made it run, made it race against time.  Once I built a railroad; now it’s done. Brother, can you spare a dime? ”

Ronald Reagan emerged through the ridicule and derision of the establishment to take realpolitik to its logical conclusion: engineering the destruction of the Evil Empire and the absolute ascendancy of the United States.  Since he left the scene our Presidents have led a steady advance to the rear. The North American Free Trade Act ( NAFTA) opened the flood gates as co-called free trade gutted our industrial base.  Social engineering and the colossal spending it requires have bankrupted us.

Are we to be the generation that drops the ball?  Each generation of Americans has bequeathed to their posterity a land stronger than they received.  We were handed the unquestioned leadership of the world and after less than two decades we have frittered it away.  If we are to reverse the slide we must make the decision that from this day forward we will chart a new course.  From this day forward we will face reality and do the hard things necessary to reclaim our greatness and preserve the heritage of America for our children

What are the solutions to the seemingly unsolvable problems we face?  They aren’t hard; mostly they’re just common sense.  Government and people stop over spending and live within your means.  Lower or repeal all taxes.  Cut the regulations on everything.  Abandon so-called free trade and seek equitable trade.  End the wars.  Quit being the policeman of the world.  Bring our troops home.  Seal the borders.  Admit that Social Security has been a ponzi scheme since day one.  Realize that all the money we’ve paid into it over the years has been flushed down a rat hole. It isn’t there.  Now Figure out a fix with that in mind.  Drill baby drill and approve a few permits to build some new refineries while you’re at it.  And if we must buy oil quit buying it from people who hate us in areas where they don’t want us.  Instead buy our oil from Mexico.  This would pump money into our neighbor’s economy instead of Al Qaeda’s and perhaps our neighbor’s citizens might want to stay in their own country.  Quit apologizing for our past and put America first.

If we’re to have a tomorrow we must make today count.  We must live each day as a day worth living for each day lived is one less we have to live, and there are only so many days.  Today is the day to make tomorrow happen.

Dr. Owens teaches History, Political Science, and Religion for Southside Virginia Community College. He is the author of the History of the Future @ http://drrobertowens.com View the trailer for Dr. Owens’ latest book @ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_ypkoS0gGn8 © 2011 Robert R. Owens dr.owens@comcast.net Follow Dr. Robert Owens on Facebook.

 

Don’t Not Do That! February 18, 2011

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For the first time the Federal Government has mandated that all citizens must purchase a product: health insurance.  If citizens fail to purchase the product they become law breakers subject to fines and penalties enforced by the IRS although we’ve been repeatedly assured this is not a tax.  According to the Federal attorneys arguing that this ground-breaking regulation is constitutional the Commerce Clause provides the authorization.  In other words, not taking an action is now considered commerce by the Federal Government.  In effect the Federal Government maintains for the first time in American History and perhaps in the History of the world that not doing something is doing something.  It is this type of newspeak, circular logic, and sophistry which destroys the credibility of those who tell us less is more.

Officially known as America’s Affordable Health Choices Act of 2009, this was the first entitlement passed without bipartisan support.  The only bipartisan part about it was that thirty nine Democrats voted with the Republicans against it.  Thus it passed with a slim majority and no Republican votes.  It was also passed over the objections of a majority of the population.  The new entitlement popularly known as Obamacare purports to insure tens of millions of previously uninsured people maintain the benefit levels of everyone else and lower the costs.  But will it stand the tests to which it is being subjected?  Will it ever be implemented?

With the date for full implementation placed years in the future step-by-step the new regulations, fees, and mandates are trickling into our lives.  However, although the President and his party managed to push this through Congress it won’t stand without a fight.  The debate has moved from the legislature and is wending its way through the courts.  So far two judges have ruled it constitutional and two have ruled it unconstitutional.  These rulings also followed party lines.  Judges appointed by Democrats ruled it constitutional and judges appointed by Republicans ruled it unconstitutional.  This will eventually be decided by the Supreme Court.

If this is decided in favor of the Federal Government it paves the way for a classic 10th Amendment confrontation.  Several states such as Virginia, have passed laws saying that no law can require their citizens to purchase health insurance.  Since nowhere in the document does the Constitution give the Federal Government the power to mandate that citizens purchase anything this would clearly lie with the confines of the 10th Amendment which states, “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”

In contravention to the States appeal to the 10th Amendment the Federal Government will point to the Supremacy Clause which states, “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 the 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.”  Using this as their rational as they did in the Arizona Immigration case the Federal Government using the Federal Courts will force states to legally step aside.  Then buying health insurance will no longer be an option because failing to do so will be illegal. In other words, “Don’t not do that!” or face the full force of the law and miraculously not doing something becomes doing something.

Another issue which might surface along the way is the question of waivers.  It seems many of the organizations, unions, and businesses who supported the law and helped lobby for its passage don’t want to live under its benevolent care.  Consequently the Obama Administration has issued hundreds of waivers exempting the President’s supporters from compliance.  This raises the question of the government passing laws that apply to some people but not to others.  Traditionally legislatures have always had the power to suspend the enforcement of laws in special cases.  However this has never been a power wielded by the executive in any except authoritarian states.  This flood of waivers raises another potential constitutional question with reference to the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment which states that everyone is guaranteed, “the equal protection of the laws” meaning that the state must apply laws equally and cannot give preference to one person or class of persons over another.

In reference to all these matters whatever the courts may say President Obama has already signaled that he will enforce the strictures of the law even if they are found unconstitutional.

Considering not taking an action to be commerce opens the door to many interesting possibilities. I didn’t buy Apple stock when it was $10 a share can I have my profits now?

Dr. Owens teaches History, Political Science, and Religion for Southside Virginia Community College. He is the author of the History of the Future @ http://drrobertowens.com View the trailer for Dr. Owens’ latest book @ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_ypkoS0gGn8 © 2011 Robert R. Owens dr.owens@comcast.net Follow Dr. Robert Owens on Facebook.

 

How Long Did the Limits Last? February 11, 2011

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In 1798, a mere ten years after the ratification of the Constitution war with France seemed imminent.  In reaction to opposition regarding the policies of the government John Adams, hero of the Revolution, co–author of the Declaration of Independence, one of the Framers of the Constitution, and only the second President of the United States Congress passed the Alien and Sedition Acts.

Congress eventually passed four of these laws in an effort to strengthen the Federal government against internal dissent.  The former supporters of the Constitution, now known as Federalists sponsored the legislation meant to silence political opposition which was coming mainly from the Democratic Republicans and their leader Thomas Jefferson.

First Congress passed the Naturalization Act which required people to be residents of the United States for fourteen years instead of five years before becoming eligible for U.S. citizenship.

Then they passed the Alien Act which authorized the President to deport aliens who the government determined to be dangerous or a threat to the peace and/or safety of the United States.   It must be remembered that while many believed America was under a threat of war this law was passed and enforced during peacetime.

Seeking to extend the power of the central government even further Congress next passed the Alien Enemies Act.  This third act allowed the arrest, imprisonment, and deportation of aliens who were from to an enemy country.

Finally Congress added the Sedition Act, aimed at any action deemed by the government to be treason.  This included the publication of any material judged to be false, scandalous, or malicious.   No matter what the Bill of Rights said the government declared these activities to be a severe misdemeanor that was punishable by both fine and imprisonment.

Under these bills twenty-five men, including numerous editors of newspapers, were arrested.  In addition, their newspapers were shut down.

The net of suspicion was spread so far that it included Benjamin Franklin Bache, Benjamin Franklin’s grandson who was the editor of a Philadelphia newspaper.  He was charged with libeling President Adams.  This arrest elicited a mounting public reaction against all four of the Alien and Sedition Acts.

Many Americans questioned the constitutionality of these laws. Indeed, public opposition to the Alien and Sedition Acts was so great that they were in part responsible for the election of Thomas Jefferson, a Republican, to the presidency in 1800. Once in office, Jefferson pardoned all those convicted under the Sedition Act, while Congress restored all fines paid with interest.

The unpopularity and questionable legality of these acts led to Adams being the first one-term president.  And these actions by one of the foremost Framers and most vocal supporters during the ratification process used these oppressive laws to silence opposition.  Here at the very beginning of the Constitutional republic one of the architects of the document believed it gave him and Congress the power to silence the people when the people disagreed.

Jefferson and his Democratic Republicans defeated Adams’ bid for a second term by capitalizing on the public’s disgust at what were perceived to be unconstitutional and repressive actions by the very people who wrote and led the fight for the adoption of the constitution.    Now those who portrayed themselves as the protectors of liberty would make sure that the limits placed upon the Federal Government were strictly observed.

In 1803, during their long wars with England and in need of financial relief France offered to sell Louisiana to the United States.  This caused a novel situation and became the cause of a grave constitutional question and a major problem for President Thomas Jefferson and his ruling party.  Seeing the opportunity to double the size of the United States, President Jefferson immediately wanted to purchase the territory.

This was rather surprising in that Jefferson advocated a narrow or strict interpretation of the Constitution.  And no matter how you read the document nowhere in it does it authorize the President or even the Congress to buy additional territory.   Not debating this point, not disputing this limitation but at the same time feeling the need to act quickly, and believing there was not time for the amendment process to legally change the Constitution.

This being the case, President Jefferson and his Democratic-Republicans merely passed legislation giving the President permission to sign a treaty obligating the United States to pay the money and to take possession of Louisiana.  In addition, the Democratic-Republicans also appropriated the money to pay France for the territory.   Where did Democratic-Republicans in Congress believe they acquired the authority to do this?  They claimed to act under the provision of the Constitution (Article 5, Section 3) which gave Congress the power to regulate the territories.

The third President and a compliant Congress interpreted the Constitution to do what they wanted to do even though it violated their own previously stated position.

As a third and final example of how soon the limited government promised by the Framers of the constitution began to encroach upon the liberty it was meant to preserve let us look at the Monroe Doctrine.

During the presidency of James Monroe there occurred several revolutions against Spanish rule in South and Central America. The United States quickly recognized these newly established countries.  Believing there was a strong possibility that European governments would intervene and try to reassert their control over the former colonies; President Monroe declared the doctrine in 1823. This doctrine declared that from that time forward America saw itself as the dominant power in the Western Hemisphere.  It also warned that European interference in the Americas would not be allowed.  The Doctrine consists of three principles:

1.        The United States would remain neutral in European wars unless American interests were involved

2.        Both North and South America were no longer subject to colonization by European powers.

3.        The United States would consider any and all attempt at European colonization in the New World as an “unfriendly act.”

And although the United States did not have the military power to enforce these claims, the declaration had symbolic importance: announcing the United States’ posture as the power to be reckoned with in the New World.

Monroe’s Doctrine aggressively asserted the position of dominance claimed by the United States in the Americas, and it has been a cornerstone of American foreign policy ever since.

An interesting point that is little mentioned or considered is that this doctrine (and every doctrine proclaimed since) is not law but merely a declaration of a presidential policy.  It is this fact that persuaded Monroe that as President he was authorized without any Constitutional authorization, to establish a foreign policy that commits the United States to military action without a declaration of war by Congress.  Thus following in the footsteps of the second and the third our fifth president moved well beyond the limits the Constitution had imposed.

How long did the limit last?  The Anti-Federalists were still active in politics as the warnings they gave were realized and the children of the Revolution took their first steps down the road to tyranny.  These earliest assaults upon limits were followed by:

Jackson used the spoils system to pack the federal bureaucracy with his supporters.  Jackson advocated the removal of all Native Americans across the Mississippi in violation of numerous treaties passing the Indian Removal Act.  When the Supreme Court ruled that Georgia’s expropriation and removal of the Cherokee was unconstitutional, referring to the Chief Justice  Jackson said, “John Marshall has made his decision, now let him enforce it.”  He then used the standing army the anti-federalists had warned against to complete the deportation acting as ruthlessly and as arrogantly as any Babylonian king.  Lincoln decided that States which had voluntarily joined could not leave though this is stated nowhere in the Constitution.

Teddy Roosevelt ran rough shod over Latin America with his gunboat diplomacy.  He provoked a revolution in Columbia, established Panama as a near colony, seized the Canal Zone, and in many ways used his big stick like a cudgel to establish and maintain an American Empire from Asia to the Dominican Republic in contravention to the advice of Washington and the words of the Constitution.

Wilson rounded up and interred Italians and Germans during WWI, took over mines and factories, fixed prices, took over the transportation and communications networks, and strictly managed the production and distribution of food.

FDR stretched the Constitution in so many ways it never snapped back.  Since our first President for life established the bloated federal bureaucracy and its symbiotic military-industrial complex we have seen a succession of undeclared wars for peace, the welfare state, the Patriot Act, and preemptive war become emblems of a system that practice government of Washington, by Washington, and for Washington.

Congress has declared war on only five occasions: the War of 1812; the Mexican War; the Spanish-American War, World War I, and World War II.   However, this has not been the extent of our involvement in armed conflict.  When American citizens have challenged the constitutionality of these wars without a declaration Federal Courts have ruled a declaration is not required.

Ask yourself: How long did the limits last?  Where did the limits go?  How many limits are left?   Which leads to the ultimate question: How can we get the limits back?  Keep the faith.  Keep the peace.  We shall overcome.

Dr. Owens teaches History, Political Science, and Religion for Southside Virginia Community College. He is the author of the History of the Future @ http://drrobertowens.com View the trailer for Dr. Owens’ latest book @ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_ypkoS0gGn8 © 2011 Robert R. Owens dr.owens@comcast.net Follow Dr. Robert Owens on Facebook.

Meet Dr. Owens at CPAC February 8, 2011

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The Great Civil Debate February 4, 2011

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It is admitted by all except the liberal media and left-wing ideologues jockeying for political and partisan advantage, neither the tenor nor the content of our public discourse had any bearing upon the tragedy in Tucson.  Nevertheless there have been calls for a return to civility in our speech.  I heartily second that motion, believing as I do that civility should always be the hallmark of discussion among ladies and gentleman.  However, that is not the topic of this discourse.

I seek to call my fellow Americans not to a more civil debate but to The Great Civil Debate.  This is the debate we need if we’re to move beyond the gridlock of right versus left, the vitriol of Democrat versus Republican, and the hysteria of a coming conservative authoritarianism or a looming socialist one.  The debate I’m calling for is not an innovation in American History.  Instead it’s a re-play of a previous event and the sequel to our preliminary event: the debate over the ratification of the Constitution.  What we need now is a debate over the relevance of the Constitution with regard to the actions of the Federal Government.

From the day the Constitution was signed, September 17, 1787 to the day it was ratified June 21, 1788, this country rang with the impassioned speeches and stirring essays of both the opponents and the proponents of this our founding document.  Today is the day and now is the time for the debate to once again stir the hearts of the nation, will we have a limited government, personal liberty and free enterprise or are we going to have something else?  There’s no greater admirer of the United States Constitution then the author of this article.  None can be found who gives more veneration to the Framers or who pays more attention to its words.

However, after 222 years there’s no one more convinced that we’ve reached an historical impasse.  The Constitution is still in force.  It has been amended twenty seven times, but it has not been supplanted.  Yet, it’s all but ignored by the Federal Government.  Our continually expanding federal bureaucracy tips its hat to the commerce clause or uses the elastic necessary and proper clause as a political fig leaf to do whatever they want.  This being the current situation this article is in fact an intervention.  It’s well known that until a problem is recognized there’s no hope for a solution.  Therefore, since every other commentator I’m aware of dances around the 800 pound gorilla in the middle of the room, I’ll acknowledge the obvious and take the afore-mentioned primate as my dancing partner and say what must be said: the Constitution has failed.

This is not to say that it is a flawed document, a vehicle for ulterior motives, or that it has always been a failure.  This is not to say that I’m offering or advocating for a replacement.  As I mentioned earlier, there is no greater admirer of the United States Constitution then the author of this article.  What I do mean to say is that this great document which birthed and sustained a limited government for more than two hundred years has now become effectively irrelevant.

The proof for this sad statement can be seen in the unguarded rhetoric of the movers and shakers of our now unlimited government.  When asked where in the Constitution a warrant for mandated health care could be found one congressman answers, “I don’t worry about the Constitution.”  Another congressman says, “There’s nothing in the Constitution that says that the federal government has anything to do with most of the stuff we do. It means what we say it means.”  When asked a question about the constitutionality of health care legislation former Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi’s response is, “Are you serious?”

And we have a President who writes that the Constitution is not “…static but rather a living document, and must be read in the context of an ever-changing world.”  No wonder a liberal pundit finds it odd that a candidate for Congress would promise to consider the constitutionality of legislation saying, “that certainly isn’t the job of Congress. They should just pass whatever they want and let the courts worry about it later.”  These examples are joined by volumes of others, which show that not only is the Constitution irrelevant to these leaders it has become so accepted as irrelevant that they no longer even have to pay lip service to the integrity of the document they’ve sworn to uphold and defend.

We need a reset button.  We need to return to limited government.  But how do we get there from here?  The Tenth Amendment which says, “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people” has been emasculated through court rulings.  The legal system has moved from original intent to precedent.  From what the words mean to what can we say the words mean.  This tsunami of change is led by the Progressives who believe that we need to evolve past the ideas and procedures devised and set down by the Framers and create a New America. A transformed America founded not on the equality of opportunity but on the equality of outcome.  These big government leaders in both parties seek not mere equal justice for all but social justice, not free enterprise but central planning.

This intervention sadly begins with the assessment based upon the current reality that the Constitution has failed.  However, it ends on a note of hope.  We’re the descendants of the Pioneers, the offspring of the Framers, and we can do this.  We can find a way within the legal framework of the Constitution itself to press that reset button.  We can solve this problem, because we’re Americans and we’re a can-do, get-it-done people.  But if we refuse to admit there’s a problem we’ll be doomed to suffer silently in the shadows as our beloved city on the hill becomes a lost dream in the twilight of freedom.  Instead let’s start The Great Civil Debate. How can we restore limited government, ensure liberty and revitalize free enterprise?  How can we get there from here?  Keep the faith.  Keep the peace.  We shall overcome.

Dr. Owens teaches History, Political Science, and Religion for Southside Virginia Community College. He is the author of the History of the Future @ http://drrobertowens.com View the trailer for Dr. Owens’ latest book @ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_ypkoS0gGn8 © 2011 Robert R. Owens dr.owens@comcast.net Follow Dr. Robert Owens on Facebook.

 

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