Constitution 101 (4)

You may review the first 3 lessons here:

Lesson 1

Lesson 2

Lesson 3

Lesson 4:

“The Separation of Powers: Preventing Tyranny”

 

Study Guide

Overview

Separation of powers is the central structural feature of the United States Constitution. The division of power among the three branches—legislative, executive, and judicial—is necessitated because human beings are imperfect. The imperfection of human nature means that well-structured government is necessary, though not sufficient, to prevent tyranny.

The United States Constitution is structurally designed in part to prevent tyranny. Separation of powers is the means by which power is divided and its accumulation in the hands of any single entity denied.

During the 1780s, most states had constitutions that formally divided the government’s power, yet in practice the legislatures dominated. The state constitutions required separation of powers in theory, but failed to deliver it in reality. As a result, the constitutions were little more than what Publius called “parchment barriers.”

In order for separation of powers to work, each branch of government must have the “constitutional means” to resist the encroachment of the other branches. This is what today we call “checks and balances.”

In addition to institutional checks and balances, there exist also the “personal motives” of people that will lead them to resist the encroachment of the other branches. Human nature is constant across the ages, according to Publius, and human beings are naturally ambitious. Instead of ignoring or attempting to suppress ambition, the Framers sought to channel it through the Constitution, so that it might serve the cause of liberty and justice rather than threaten it.

The Framers understood that human nature has noble characteristics that are essential to self-government, but also that it contains baser features, for which government must account. The Constitution’s structural separation of powers recognizes this truth, and in preventing tyranny makes self-government possible.

Obama & 2016

Dinesh D’Sousa will release his movie 2016 which demonstrates life in America under a second Obama presidency. If we think the Obama administration has been destructive, wait until he has no further worries about running for another term. Obama’s game plan can be taken directly from one of the books he allegedly wrote, “Dreams From My Father.

As will be pointed out in the video below, the words “From My Father” instead of using “Of My Father,” unlocks the thought process’ for this very complex individual. His father was an anti-colonialist and a Marxist. Obama certainly seems to be following “his fathers dreams.”

Attribution: Jim Campbell

Constitution 101 (3)

Lesson 3: “The Problem of Majority Tyranny”

Study Guide

Overview

America was governed under the Articles of Confederation from 1781 to 1789. Unable to redress the problem of “majority tyranny,” the Articles were abandoned in favor of the Constitution, which created a “more perfect union.”

Shipwrecked Watch

A pocketwatch belonging to one of the survivors of the Lusitania ocean liner that sunk in 1915, has been valued at £1,000 ($1600) despite its inoperative state.

Frank Holman, a waiter on the liner, was wearing the timepiece when the ship was hit by a German torpedo.

The watch stopped as soon as Holman was flung into the Atlantic Ocean, where he was forced to tread water for five hours before he was eventually rescued.

His daughter Barbara Wiffen who has held the watch since her father’s passing told the BBC: “My late father, Frank Holman, was on the Lusitania at the time she was torpedoed.”

“The torpedo struck, I understand, at twelve minutes past two and his watch stopped at two twenty eight when he hit the water.”

“He didn’t speak about it very much because he found it very traumatic, but he was in the water for five hours before he was picked up.”

“At one stage he found a young boy who was obviously in difficulties and my father swam for some time with with his hands clasped round his neck but as time went on it became obvious to him that the lad had unfortunately passed away.”

“So regrettably he had to release him, and I think that stayed with him for the rest of his life. When I was a child, I use to hear him shouting in his sleep.”

Antiques Roadshow expert Hilary Kay insisted that the watch would generate much interest despite the relic not functioning.

She told the show: “Lusitania artifacts have appeared on the market in the past, and they always create a stir, particularly in The States, of course. I would see this certainly fetching £1,000 at auction, if not more.”

“Over a thousand people were drowned, of which over a hundred were American civilians, and it was what catapulted America eventually into the First World War.”

“So it is an incredibly important piece of 20th century history. And we have a piece of memorabilia here which I find incredibly resonant.”

Despite the estimation, Holman’s daughter has insisted that she would never part with the watch given its sentimental value.

The ship, bound for Liverpool from New York sank in approximately 18 minutes, claiming the lives of 1,959 passengers in the process.
Attribution: David Gerges

Constitution 101 (2)

Lesson 2: The Declaration of Independence

Study Guide

 

Lesson Overview:

The soul of the American founding is located in the universal political principles expressed in the Declaration of Independence. The meaning of equality and liberty in the Declaration is decisively different than the definition given to those principles by modern liberalism.

Liberty is the right to be free from the coercive interference of other people. It is derived from nature itself, and is a natural right—something possessed simply because one is a human being.

Equality means that no one is by nature the ruler of any other person. Each human being is equal in his right to life, liberty, and property, which the Declaration calls “the pursuit of happiness.”

Equality, liberty, and natural rights require a certain form of government: republicanism, based on the consent of the governed. Legitimate government, based on the consent of the governed, must accomplish three things: the establishment of civil laws that protect man’s natural rights; the punishment of those who infringe on others’ natural rights; and the protection of natural rights through a strong national defense.

The people themselves also play a vital role in protecting their rights. They must be educated in “religion, morality, and knowledge.”

Modern liberalism uses the same language of “liberty” and “equality” as the Declaration of Independence. Yet modern liberals mean something other than what the Founders meant by those words. For the Progressives, “equality” means equal access to resources and wealth, while “liberty” means the ability to utilize a right, rather than the right in itself. Both of these ideas necessitate government programs that help mankind liberate itself from its “natural limitations.”

The Declaration of Independence and modern Progressivism are fundamentally opposed to each other. The modern misunderstanding of “equality” and “liberty” threaten not just the Declaration of Independence, but the whole of the American constitutional and moral order.

 

Constitution 101 (1)

The following is Lesson One in a Ten Part program presented by Hillsdale College on understanding The United States Constitution. Now, more than ever, it is crucial that we understand our founding documents, particularly the Declaration of Independence & the Constitution.

Lesson 1: The American Mind

You may feel free to simply watch or follow along with the attached Study Guide

Lesson Overview:

America’s Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson said, was the product of “the American mind.” Our Constitution was made with the same purpose as the Declaration—to establish a regime where the people are sovereign, and the government protects the rights granted to them by their Creator.

The word “constitution” means “to ordain and establish something.” It also means “to set a firm thing strongly in place.” It is linked to two other words: statute and statue. All three words—constitution, statute, and statue—connote a similar idea of establishing something lasting and beautiful.

The Constitution, then, is a work of art. It gives America its form. To fully know the “cause,” or purpose, of America, one must know the Declaration of Independence. Thomas Jefferson, its author, mentioned four thinkers for their contribution to molding “the American mind”: Aristotle, Cicero, Algernon Sidney, and John Locke.

Studying these philosophers is a wondrous task in itself, and it greatly helps our understanding of America, just as it informed the statecraft of the Founders. Knowing the meaning of the Declaration and Constitution is vital to the choice before us today as to whether we will live under a Constitution different than the one bequeathed to us.

Say the Word and We’ll be Free

I’ve heard from many sources, even conservatives, who say the price of gas is no longer in our control. Maybe it never was. Blaming the president is good politics, but that’s all it is.

It is said, there is nothing Obama can say or do to effect the price of gas at the pump. This is a global problem. There are many more competing factions for a finite amount of oil. China, India, etc. They need oil like they have never needed it in the past. We have to compete with them. That drives up the price. Makes sense, I guess.

Then there are all the problems occuring in the Middle East. That whole region could collapse at any moment. That too, is driving up the price. Again, sounds logical.

It is also said by many that we can’t simply drill our way to lower gas prices.

So, I guess we’re just stuck. Or are we?

Before looking for a solution, let’s first take a peek behind the government’s regualtory curtain.

Time for some history.

In 1972 Congress passed the Marine Protection, Research and Sanctuaries Act , which provided for the establishment of National Marine Sanctuaries. Oil and gas drilling are prohibited in these areas.

In 1982, the U.S. Congress directed that no federal funds be used to lease federal tracts off the coasts of Washington, Oregon, or central and northern California. Over the years, buried in appropriations bills,  Congress was able to add other areas until the prohibited area included all the east and west coasts, and the eastern Gulf of Mexico. Congress repeated the effective ban on offshore drilling in these areas every year until September 2008, when an appropriations bill passed the House and Senate without the ban. We’ll cover 2008 in a bit. It’s an interesting year.

In 1990, President George H. W. Bush issued an executive moratorium restricting federal offshore leasing to Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and parts of Alaska. The moratorium banned federal leasing through the year 2000 off the East Coast, West Coast, the eastern Gulf of Mexico (offshore Florida Gulf Coast), and the Northern Aleutian Basin of Alaska. In 1998, President Bill Clinton extended the moratorium through 2012.

In 2002, Congress imposed a moratorium on drilling on or directionally beneath the Great Lakes. The ban was made permanent by the Energy Policy Act of 2005.

Part of the central and most of the eastern Gulf of Mexico was declared off-limits to oil and gas leasing until 2022 by the Gulf of Mexico Energy Security Act of 2006.

The bottom line is, thanks to our government, drilling for our own energy is prohibited virtually everywhere. Now there’s an energy policy we can all be proud of.

Ok, so we’ve established that America’s domestic energy policy is suicidal. What was so exeptional about 2008?

In the summer of 2008, President George W. Bush announced that he would veto any appropriations bill that maintained the Congressional moratorium. Without the votes to override his veto, Congress subsequently let the drilling moratorium expire.

 In July 2008, President George W. Bush also rescinded those restrictive executive orders that had prevented oil & gas drilling.

So what. Politicians say many things and nothing changes. Everyone knows they never mean it. Spoken or written, these are just words. What effect could these policy changes have had?

Well, you be the judge.

Just prior to ‘W’s’ July, 2008 proclamation and action, a gallon of regular gasoline, on average, was a staggering $4.11. By August it was $3.69. A drop of over $0.40 in a month.

Not impressed? How about this. By the end of December, 2008, a gallon of regular plummeted to $1.61. and a barrel of oil went from a high of $147.00 to $30.28.

Am I saying that this precipitous drop was due solely to Bush’s actions. No, but I guarantee it played a big part. Why? Because the rest of the world knew someone in this country finally meant it. They knew Bush was serious about domestic drilling.

It’s human nature. When the worlds oil producing nations concluded we were actually serious, I mean really serious about exploiting our own resources, the price of a barrel of oil would naturally plunge. They simply couldn’t afford for us to produce most of our own energy. Foreign oil would drop just to price out domestic production.

The evil speculators, you know, the ones that always get blamed for jacking up the price of oil. Those same speculators would drive the price down so fast it would make your head spin.

Now, I am not an oil or energy expert. I am neither a foreign policy expert, nor an energy speculator. I don’t have to be.

 This is not about oil or gas or market speculation. As I said, this is about human nature, which is quite predictable.  It happens everywhere & in every industry. With competition comes lower prices. It’s really that simple.

So, why didn’t the prices stay low, you ask? Well, we had an election and Barack Obama won. He reinstated all the moratoriums and here we are again, at the mercy of foreign suppliers and subject to Middle East upheaval.

Attribution: Government/Senate Archives

Abandoned Military Fortress of New York

The purpose of Fort Totten, in Queens, New York was to guard New York Harbor from the Confederates during the Civil War, but never faced enemy fire.

The Fort was to be built to protect the East River approach to New York Harbor, along with Fort Schuyler, which faces it from Throgs Neck

on the opposite side of the river entrance. It was later named in 1898 after Joseph Gilbert Totten.

Plans for the Fort Totten Water Battery at Willets Point were initially prepared by Captain Robert E Lee (yes, that Robert E Lee) in 1857 and purchased by the U.S. Government from the Willets family. After Congress appropriated $155,000, construction began on Fort Totten in 1862.

Construction on the battery employed 400 workers, each earning a wage of $3.00 per day. But soon after its completion, advances in fortification design made it obsolete as a defensive structure.

Ghostly images captured by photographers Ethan Pisz and Ezra Peace show the fortress, and its crumbling surroundings.

Today, stalactites hang from its archways, and a single replica cannon remains.

On the second floor bastion, a crater clings to a shell of rifle artillery shot through a small window during test firing in 1864. The damage inflicted was so extensive battlefield engineers abandoned the project altogether.
Behind its walls, winding tunnels lead the way to torpedo magazines and abandoned artillery rooms

Six batteries, built between 1885 and 1903 as a second line of defense, stand crippled and weather-beaten behind the battery. Uprooted trees are shouldered by much of the mortar structure, left after a century of hurricanes and tornadoes ripped through the area.

The land had last served as a U.S. Army Reserve post in 1974, after a century of housing army schools and artillery headquarters.

After nearly two decades of community lobbying efforts for a new Bayside area park, in 1987 New York City and Parks accepted the gift of ten acres of surplus Fort Totten land from the U.S. Department of Defense. The land officially closed as a base in 1995.

Attribution: Jennifer Madison

Where are They Now?

Has anyone heard the caterwauling from the democrats about high gas prices lately. Wonder why that is?

Nancy Pelosi, May, 2007:

Hillary Clinton, May, 2008:

From Frank “The Laut” Lautenberg (D-NJ), April, 2008: “This week, the price of oil and gasoline both hit new record highs – almost $120 for a barrel of oil and more than $3.50 a gallon for gas. These out-of-control prices mean that hundreds of thousands of Americans are driving to work and spending too much of their day just earning back the cost of their commute. The American people deserve to know why this happened,” Lautenberg said.

He added, “It’s long past time to change our national priorities. We know there’s little hope that President Bush will suddenly wake up and see the light. But unfortunately, his Republican allies in Congress continue to stand by his side, with the oil and energy companies – for the status quo and against the American people… The best way to ensure that gas prices remain high is to vote Republican this fall.”

Democrats and the Media on high gas prices, 2012:

Evidently the “American People” don’t deserve to know what is now happening.

With gas prices higher than they’ve ever been at this time of the year (doesn’t bode well for the summer) and the dems controlling two thirds of the government, how would Frank have us vote this November?

I’m Sorry, I Forgot the Anniversary

Happy Anniversary! (A day or so belated)

On February 19, 1942, President Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066 granting the War Department broad powers to create military exclusion areas (internment camps, or prison camps; whichever you prefer). Although the order did not identify any particular group, in practice it was used mostly to imprison Americans of Japanese descent. However, to a lesser extent, both Germans & Italians were detained. By 1943, more than 110,000 Japanese Americans had been forced at gun point from their homes and moved to camps in inland areas of the United States.

The FDR sicofant historians say that due to the shock of Pearl Harbor and of Japanese atrocities in the Philippines fueling already tense race relations on America’s West Coast and in the face of political, military, and public pressure, Roosevelt accepted the relocation proposal.

Was there pressure? You bet there was.

This letter from Sen. Harley Kilgore, a Democrat (you know, the party of the people & of immigrants) member of the powerful Senate Committee on Military Affairs, is an example of the political pressure to deal with the issue of Japanese-Americans on the West Coast that Roosevelt was receiving. It was sent to the President the same day he signed the order of internment.

The following is the text of the order signed by Roosevelt:

Executive Order No. 9066

The President

Executive Order

Authorizing the Secretary of War to Prescribe Military Areas

Whereas the successful prosecution of the war requires every possible protection against espionage and against sabotage to national-defense material, national-defense premises, and national-defense utilities as defined in Section 4, Act of April 20, 1918, 40 Stat. 533, as amended by the Act of November 30, 1940, 54 Stat. 1220, and the Act of August 21, 1941, 55 Stat. 655 (U.S.C., Title 50, Sec. 104);

Now, therefore, by virtue of the authority vested in me as President of the United States, and Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy, I hereby authorize and direct the Secretary of War, and the Military Commanders whom he may from time to time designate, whenever he or any designated Commander deems such action necessary or desirable, to prescribe military areas in such places and of such extent as he or the appropriate Military Commander may determine, from which any or all persons may be excluded, and with respect to which, the right of any person to enter, remain in, or leave shall be subject to whatever restrictions the Secretary of War or the appropriate Military Commander may impose in his discretion. The Secretary of War is hereby authorized to provide for residents of any such area who are excluded therefrom, such transportation, food, shelter, and other accommodations as may be necessary, in the judgment of the Secretary of War or the said Military Commander, and until other arrangements are made, to accomplish the purpose of this order. The designation of military areas in any region or locality shall supersede designations of prohibited and restricted areas by the Attorney General under the Proclamations of December 7 and 8, 1941, and shall supersede the responsibility and authority of the Attorney General under the said Proclamations in respect of such prohibited and restricted areas.

I hereby further authorize and direct the Secretary of War and the said Military Commanders to take such other steps as he or the appropriate Military Commander may deem advisable to enforce compliance with the restrictions applicable to each Military area hereinabove authorized to be designated, including the use of Federal troops and other Federal Agencies, with authority to accept assistance of state and local agencies.

I hereby further authorize and direct all Executive Departments, independent establishments and other Federal Agencies, to assist the Secretary of War or the said Military Commanders in carrying out this Executive Order, including the furnishing of medical aid, hospitalization, food, clothing, transportation, use of land, shelter, and other supplies, equipment, utilities, facilities, and services.

This order shall not be construed as modifying or limiting in any way the authority heretofore granted under Executive Order No. 8972, dated December 12, 1941, nor shall it be construed as limiting or modifying the duty and responsibility of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, with respect to the investigation of alleged acts of sabotage or the duty and responsibility of the Attorney General and the Department of Justice under the Proclamations of December 7 and 8, 1941, prescribing regulations for the conduct and control of alien enemies, except as such duty and responsibility is superseded by the designation of military areas hereunder.

Franklin D. Roosevelt

The White House,

February 19, 1942.

So the President, by virtue of no authority I can find in the Constitution, duly authorized the Secretary of War & military commanders to pretty much do whatever they want, whenever they want & however they want.

Rather than stand up for what was right and Constitutional, FDR bowed to political pressure,  just As all great Presidents have done.

I always leaders were supposed to lead.

So, Happy Anniversary everyone. By the way; don’t think this could never happen again.

 With the recently minted National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), the President has now the authority to arrest & detain any person, citizen or not, for virtually any reason.

The Act allows for the indefinite military detention of any person alleged to be a member of Al Qaeda, the Taliban or “associated forces.”

The provisions also apply to any person who supports or aids “belligerent” acts against the United States, whether the person is apprehended beyond our borders or on domestic soil.

Of course it doesn’t define a “belligerant” act.

Soon we may have to change that whole “Land of the Free” thing.

Attribution: Roosevelt Archives