Categories
Constitution Founders Government States Supreme Court Truth

Supreme Court Rediscovers States Rights, But…

By KrisAnne Hall, JD

In a baby step back toward protecting reserved state powers, the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday overturned a 25-year-old federal law called The Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA). The Act was originally signed into law in 1992 to target organized markets for sports gambling.  This federal law was not a flat ban on sports-gambling schemes, but only a law that prohibited States from permitting sports gambling by State law.

In an opinion written by Justice Alito, the majority of the court decided this law was a violation of the Tenth Amendment to the Constitution. Alito says, “The legislative powers granted to Congress are sizeable, but they are not unlimited. The Constitution confers on Congress not plenary legislative power but only certain enumerated powers. Therefore, all other legislative power is reserved for the States, as the Tenth Amendment confirms.” The Tenth Amendment limitation is referred to by the court as the “anti-commandeering doctrine.”

The people of New Jersey want to legalize sports gambling but PASPA makes it illegal for States to legalize any “sports gambling schemes.” The people of New Jersey argued that this federal law infringed upon the State’s sovereign authority. The State relied upon two cases; New York v. US (1992) and Printz v. US (1997) that struck down federal laws that imposed improper regulatory powers upon the States. In Printz v. US, the Supreme Court used Federalist Papers 39 as support for their opinion in which James Madison explained:

“[T]he local or municipal authorities form distinct and independent portions of the supremacy, no more subject, within their respective spheres, to the general authority, than the general authority is subject to them, within its own sphere. In this relation, then, the proposed government cannot be deemed a NATIONAL one; since its jurisdiction extends to certain enumerated objects only, and leaves to the several States a residuary and inviolable sovereignty over all other objects.”

In these cases, the Supreme Court recognized that there are separate and independent jurisdictions that exist within the two sovereign spheres of government; the State and the Federal. When the power has not been delegated to the Federal government, that power remains with the State and outside of the Federal government’s power to impose laws upon the State. Following this same standard, established by the Tenth Amendment in the Constitution, Justice Alito and the majority recognized the State’s authority to regulate gambling lies within the sovereign realm of the state’s authority and that Congress directing state legislatures to prohibit sports gambling is not an enumerated power delegated by the Constitution to the federal government. Alito wrote:

“The anti-commandeering doctrine may sound arcane, but it is simply the expression of a fundamental structural decision incorporated into the Constitution, i.e., the decision to withhold from Congress the power to issue orders directly to the States.”

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It is refreshing to see the Supreme Court return to this fundamental and essential truth; that the States are independent sovereigns and the federal government can only lawfully exercise powers that have been properly delegated. This Court also recognized the constitutional principle of the sovereignty of the States in NFIB v. Sebelius when Chief Justice Roberts, writing the majority opinion said:

“In the typical case we look to the States to defend their prerogative by adopting ‘the simple expedient of not yielding’ to federal blandishments when they do not want to embrace federal policy as their own.  The States are separate and independent sovereigns. Sometimes they have to act like it.”

Although this is just a small step, Alito and the majority court may be steering the federal government back in the proper direction; one not only required by the Constitution but also by those who wrote it.  Alexander Hamilton makes this very clear in Federalist #78:

“There is no position which depends on clearer principles, than that every act of a delegated authority, contrary to the tenor of the commission under which it is exercised, is void. No legislative act, therefore, contrary to the Constitution, can be valid.”

Hamilton is explaining in this text that for a federal law to be valid, it must not only comply with the text of the Constitution, it must also be consistent with the “tenor of the commission under which it is exercised.” The Constitution requires adherence to the intent of the drafters as well as the words of the document. In a display of adherence to this intent, Justice Alito quotes the Declaration of Independence and Madison’s Federalist #39 in his majority opinion to once again remind the people and their Congress that the States are sovereign.

“When the original States declared their independence, they claimed the powers inherent in sovereignty — in the words of the Declaration of Independence, the authority ‘to do all…Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do’…the States…retained ‘a residuary and inviolable sovereignty.’”

However, one point Alito seems to miss in his opinion is that the power to regulate gambling is not a power that is delegated at all to the federal government. He claims that “[c]ongress can regulate sports gambling directly, but if it elects not to do so, each State is free to act on its own.” In this broad assertion of power, Alito actually sides with Justice Ginsberg and the dissent; that the federal government is realistically unlimited in its exercise of power. Justice Thomas, in his concurring opinion, is the only Justice who denies this assertion of unlimited authority:

“Unlike the dissent I do “doubt” that Congress can prohibit sports gambling that does not cross state lines.”

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Indeed, you may search the entire text, you may scour the writings of the drafters of the Constitution, but you will never find an authority delegated to the federal government to regulate such activity. The assumed authority to do so comes from an interpretation of the Commerce Clause, in which the federal government stretches the meaning and application way beyond the “tenor of the commission” of the Constitution. As Madison explained in 1792, during the Cod Fishery debate, the clauses within the Constitution are not powers delegated at all; they are merely explanations of “the purpose of the powers which are delegated.” These clauses were never intended to be boilerplate blank checks written to Congress to create whatever law they could somehow justify. Madison issues a very stern warning against using these clauses for that purpose.

“…for if the clause in question really authorizes Congress to do whatever they think fit…it would subvert the very foundations, and transmute the very nature of the limited government established by the people of America.”

What Alito suggests is that the powers of the federal government are not limited by the Constitution, but by mere will enforced by interpretation of clauses. Alito seems to only differ from the dissent in policy but not in principle. However, as Alito does assert in his opinion, the Tenth Amendment is very clear: “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.” However, his final statements seem to assert that there are no reserved powers that rest within the States.

What Alito is really saying is that all power exists within the federal government and anything the feds choose not to use, is then “available” to be exercised by the States. Alito’s claim then becomes the very manifestation of Madison’s warning, transmuting the limited nature of the federal government to one that is limited only by its own interpretation and desire for power. Alito is not supporting a Constitutional Republic, but an unlimited federal kingdom that grants permissions to its vassal colonies — the states.

There should be no doubt as to the limited authority of the federal government. There should be no doubt as to the reserved powers and sovereignty of the States. Both are well documented within the Constitution and in the drafters’ explanations of the Constitution. However, this fundamental and essential principle necessary for the existence of our Constitutional Republic still eludes too many of our justices who claim the federal government can regulate the lives of the citizens in whatever manner they choose, as long as they can create an articulate justification and manipulate the Constitution, irrespective of the tenor in which it was written.

It is a step in the right direction to see the Court once again asserting the Sovereignty of the States.  However, what is the real difference between the majority and minority opinions when they both support an unlimited congressional authority over the people and left over power for the States?

KrisAnne Hall is a former biochemist, Russian linguist for the US Army, and former prosecutor for the State of Florida. KrisAnne also practiced First Amendment Law for a prominent Florida non-profit Law firm. KrisAnne now travels the country teaching the foundational principles of Liberty and our Constitutional Republic. KrisAnne is the author of 6 books on the Constitution and Bill of Rights, she also has an internationally popular radio and television show and her books and classes have been featured on C-SPAN TV. KrisAnne can be found at www.KrisAnneHall.com.


Today’s news moves at a faster pace than ever, and a lot of sources are not trustworthy. Whatfinger.com  is my go-to source for keeping up with all the latest events in real time from good sources.


 

Categories
Constitution Government Guns Liberalism NRA Second Amendment Truth

The Real Costs Of Florida’s Hasty Parkland Legislation Are Coming Out

Rod Thomson

This is the price of letting the mob, even one led by sympathetic teens, rule over sound principles: the loss of Constitutional rights and wrecked budgets.

After the deadly shooting of 17 people at a Parkland, Florida high school earlier this year that resulted in huge protests fronted by students of the school, the GOP-dominated Florida Legislature caved to the emotional mob and passed laws violative of Americans’ Second Amendment rights while causing havoc with the budgets of every School District and Sheriff’s Office in the state.

It’s the dirty little secret largely being ignored. This was not a well-thought-through, studied, principled piece of legislation. And it was not necessary. It would not have prevented Parkland.

Most of the news coverage focused on guns, guns, guns. The media narrative was all zeroed in on how much would the Republican Florida Legislature go against the wishes of the NRA in a pro-gun state. Quite a bit it turns out, particularly when activists bring uninformed teens into the chambers for gimmicky procedural votes specifically designed to elicit an emotional response.

The portion of the law most people know about is the one restricting gun ownership for those under 21 and requiring a three-day waiting period to buy all guns. So you can be in the military and go to war, you can be in law enforcement and engage bad guys, you can enter into contracts, you can drive trucks, you can get married and start a family — but you cannot do what the Constitution of the United States expressly protects your right to do: own a gun.

“This bill punishes law-abiding gun owners for the criminal acts of a deranged individual,” said the NRA-ILA’s executive director Chris Cox. The NRA is suing on Constitutional grounds, which will cost plenty of money, as they have a strong case are not apt to back down.

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The second part of the Parkland legislation news coverage was over whether “we should arm teachers” — as the media framed the verbiage. This provision allows districts to voluntarily create a program where educators can volunteer to be trained on an ongoing basis and then allowed to carry a weapon on campus to defend students and others. Of course, this was roundly opposed by the guns, guns, guns crowd and it appears only a handful of rural school districts will opt in to the program.

But given very little coverage was the requirement to beef up law enforcement at the schools by requiring a school resource officer in every Florida school that did not opt for allowing school personnel to conceal carry. This is a generally popular response, despite the total collapse of law enforcement in Broward County at Parkland — where there was a school resource officer who stayed outside during the slaughter.

This is an extraordinarily expensive provision given the size of Florida as the nation’s third largest state.

There are 4,000 public schools in Florida. Law enforcement figures each school resource officer costs about $100,000 in salary, benefits, supplies and general overhead. So putting one at every school represents a $400 million endeavor statewide, towards which the state only committed $100 million. This is an ongoing, $300 million expense, every year.

And there’s the rub. The Legislature responded to the Parkland tragedy and difficult environment with not only a bad law, but one that shoves its badness down to the local level for payment.

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This has created a mini crisis among school districts, sheriff departments and the counties that fund them around the state. An average-sized school district in Florida (they are all countywide) would need to find $3 million to $5 million to accomplish this task. The big districts would need much more.

Again. Every year. While safe schools are felt to be an urgent need, what this means is taking funding from elsewhere in the operating budget — the largest single cost of which are teachers. So districts are hoping that local sheriffs will either cover all or part of the costs. But sheriffs have their own budget constraints and resource demands, including the desire of the population not inside a school building to be safe.

So this hasty legislation has pitted school districts against sheriffs when those relations were traditionally quite strong and cooperative.

Worse, it may prove impossible to even meet outside the financial constraints. Most sheriff departments have openings they cannot fill because there are not enough qualified applicants. Florida’s economy is so strong and unemployment so low (3.7 percent) that neither sheriff departments or private security companies can maintain full strength, and they are competing with each other for the few candidates that come available.

The guardian program could solve this, as it is much less expensive to train school personnel and they are already on campus, but professional school administrators prevent most from even considering it.

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The Legislature’s action means finding thousands of new sheriff deputies to be trained as school resources officers; or reducing the number of deputies patrolling the streets, making the rest of the community potentially less safe — including students when they are not in school.

This damaging legislation should never have been rammed through so quickly, despite the unconscionable way anti-gun activists marshalled and organized sympathetic students for their cause.

Rod Thomson is an author, TV talking head and former journalist, and is Founder of The Revolutionary Act. Rod is co-host of Right Talk America With Julio and Rod on the Salem Radio Network.


Today’s news moves at a faster pace than ever, and a lot of sources are not trustworthy. Whatfinger.com  is my go-to source for keeping up with all the latest events in real time from good sources.


 

Categories
Culture Free Speech Government Liberalism Truth

2 Simple Reasons Why The American Left Instinctively Seeks Censorship

Rod Thomson

It’s pretty obvious to every conservative in the country by now that the American Left is where virtually all censorship resides. Not every liberal is a censor, but modern liberalism promotes censorship. Of course, you only know this if you get news and information from more outlets than the old, traditional media.

Whether it is college campuses run by the Left and instituting liberal-approved speech codes and tiny free speech zones on campus, their practical goal is censorship;

Or it is demonstrators and marchers who shout down conservative political opponents, refusing to allow them to speak and often threatening the institution that dared even allow them;

Or it is the violent, progressive, Communist, anarchist Antifa that roams the streets of our most liberal cities to attack conservatives or Trump supporters for being conservatives or Trump supporters;

Or it is the social media giants such as Youtube demonetizing conservatives for saying conservative things (Prager U is the most egregious example) or Twitter suspending conservative accounts for tweeting conservative ideas or Facebook blocking posts that are politically incorrect based on the recommendations of liberal organizations such as Snopes determining they are “fake news;

Or it is our public schools indoctrinating students with progressive ideals and punishing those who deviate, such as the New Prague Minnesota High School kid who came out during the national school walkout with a sign that said guns don’t kill people, people do, and the principle forcing him away — this was a consistent theme around the nation, no deviation from the progressive message at many schools;

Or it is the ever-expanding universe of political correctness determining things you cannot say without dire personal consequences, i.e. if a person has XY chromosomes and a penis, that person is a man.

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Each of these areas stem from the American Left, and we can all come up with more. Every one is dominated by progressive liberals and one of their consistencies is a sort of instinctive lurch to squash any speech with which they disagree. Their practical goal is censorship. We wrote about Boston’s liberal mayor shutting down free speech he disagreed with in August 2017.

One is hard-pressed to come up with a single example of an institution on the Right that seeks censorship, to shut down the speech of liberals.

So the question is why? What has happened where the very bastions fighting for free speech 60 years ago, such as universities and liberals in a general sense, are now the anti-free speech totalitarians?

There are at least two explanations.

• Government Knows Best. The instinct of liberals is that government is the best institution for solving societal woes. Not the family. Not the church. Not community organizations. Government. This, of course, is the antithesis of the thinking of the founders and framers of the nation, who saw the government as the single biggest threat to a society made up of individuals.

That’s why socialism is such a cozy fit for a progressive liberal: Benevolent government, run by the smartest among us, owning and distributing society’s wealth and making all the big decisions, is surely far better than selfish capitalists and ignorant masses making those decisions in chaos.

If you prefer central government decision-making over individual liberties — which is not the words, but most certainly the practice on the Left today — then of course you are hardly going to be in favor of uncontrolled speech by the masses.

• Liberal Ideas Don’t Win Arguments. This is going to trip some triggers — so perhaps a trigger warning is in order — but liberalism generally builds its belief structure on emotions, not on rational, data-driven, science-grounded arguments. This is why contradictions and inconsistencies are so common, and why liberals are so quick to resort to demonstrations and protests with signs and placards — those can capture emotional sentiments much better than reasoned arguments.

Consider these hackneyed banalities:

> A baby before the birth canal may be terminated at the mother’s whim, because it is her individual “choice” whether that is a human or not — despite science screaming the baby’s measurable humanity by 4-6 weeks, and what ultrasounds show is going on the whole pregnancy. Moments later when it is out of the birth canal, she cannot because the exact same act would be murder. Inside, can kill. Outside, murder. Same baby, just seperated by moments.

> Two dads or two moms — gay couples as parents — are just as good at parenting as traditional husbands and wives — despite the weight of fully available studies showing just the opposite.

> A man can believe he is a woman and not only is that acceptable and not a mental condition — which it obviously is — but we must contort our society down to school restrooms, showers and sports teams to accommodate gender-confused people. They obviously need compassion and help. That is not it.

> There are 63 genders. So far. Enough said.

> Hate speech is not free speech. No hate speech allowed!

These are laughable, and tragic, but hardly isolated.

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Let’s take a very recent example. The entire liberal establishment — from media to schools to activist organizations — used and propagandized students nationwide after the Parkland, Florida, shootings to push for gun bans even when it came out that the Broward County Sheriff, Broward County Schools, the state of Florida and the FBI all massively failed to do their jobs competently in this case.

A reasonable way to sum up their argument is that government failed at every level to protect us, we need to ban guns and have government protect us.

Conservatives can shoot a thousand holes in the arguments made about the need for gun control after Parkland.

But the reality remains: the more an institution is dominated by liberalism, the less that institution will brook any contrary speech. Alas it is true: Censorship is part and parcel with liberalism.

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Rod Thomson is an author, TV talking head and former journalist, and is Founder of The Revolutionary Act. Rod is co-host of Right Talk America With Julio and Rod on the Salem Radio Network.

Today’s news moves at a faster pace than ever, and a lot of sources are not trustworthy. Whatfinger.com  is my go-to source for keeping up with all the latest events in real time from good sources.

 

 

Categories
Government Guns Liberty Truth

Beware The Siren Call of Government Control On Gun Sales

By KrisAnne Hall, JD

With major retailers such as Walmart and Dick’s Sporting Goods among others deciding to not selling semi-automatic rifles to people under 21 years old, many people are citing federal anti-discrimination laws as a way to stop these businesses from doing so.

Small government Americans ought to be very cautious about jumping on this bandwagon of government control.  

It’s not an issue of the Second Amendment. It’s not a matter of whether we think that is a good idea or not. True freedom requires the allowance for good and bad ideas.

Liberty minded people should be opposed to any and all levels of government telling private business owners how to conduct their business; to whom they can or cannot sell their wares. This is exactly how we get ridiculous government intrusions like forcing cake bakers and photographers to do things contrary to their personal principles and religious freedoms — rather than allowing the free-market to reward or punish. 

All private businesses should have the right to conduct business as they desire; they are private entities, not government agents. If some private business wants to refuse to serve me because of my race, gender, sexual orientation, or even the color of my hair; then individually and collectively you and I can take our patronage elsewhere.

Better yet, we can create an alternative — adversity promotes progress and innovation. To use the force of government to require a private business to conform to my personal desires or principles is definitely a form of fascism and tyranny. 

In a free society it must be up to the free market to reward or punish a private business for good or bad decisions, not government. Any time government takes the role of the free market, the people cannot be free.

KrisAnne Hall is a former biochemist, Russian linguist for the US Army, and former prosecutor for the State of Florida. KrisAnne also practiced First Amendment Law for a prominent Florida non-profit Law firm. KrisAnne now travels the country teaching the foundational principles of Liberty and our Constitutional Republic. KrisAnne is the author of 6 books on the Constitution and Bill of Rights, she also has an internationally popular radio and television show and her books and classes have been featured on C-SPAN TV. KrisAnne can be found at www.KrisAnneHall.com.


Today’s news moves at a faster pace than ever, and a lot of sources are not trustworthy. Whatfinger.com  is my go-to source for keeping up with all the latest events in real time from good sources.


 

Categories
Government Guns Truth

The Solution To Many Mass Shootings…And Homelessness

Rod Thomson

Some of the highest profile ills poisoning American society have the same root cause: closing state mental institutions in favor of out-patient community health centers — not shocking to many people, this is rooted in “reforms” that began in the 1960s.

The state mental institutions certainly had some real problems. But perhaps the biggest public blot against them was the popular book, play and later movie One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest — all of which were quality entertainment. But they were not real. One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest was not a documentary, nor were the dozens of movies following that depicted mental institutions as horror houses with depraved wardens.

Unfortunately, it’s possible that, combined with President Kennedy’s mentally ill sister, Congress decided to make permanent national policy based on fiction. It wouldn’t be the first time. And it’s not surprising that it turned out badly.

The politicized closing of state mental institutions in favor of out-patient community health centers in the 1960s has had unforeseen and tragic consequences across a range of American society — but not least of which on the stubborn homeless problem and on mass shootings. Many people in both of these categories would have been lodged in state mental institutions previous to the “reforms” of the 1960s — possibly including the Parkland shooter, and shooters at Sandy Hook, U.S. Naval Yards, Aurora, Colorado and others, along with perhaps half of the homeless people on American streets today.

Author and research director for the Minnesota Department of Corrections Grant Duwe, and Michael Rocque, a professor of sociology at Bates College write in the Los Angeles Times: “There is a clear relationship between mental illness and mass public shootings.”

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They write: “At the broadest level, peer-reviewed research has shown that individuals with major mental disorders (those that substantially interfere with life activities) are more likely to commit violent acts, especially if they abuse drugs. When we focus more narrowly on mass public shootings…we see a relatively high rate of mental illness.”

Their research puts it at 69 percent of mass killings. Mother Jones also put the rate at 61 percent of known and potential mental illness among mass shooters when the magazine examined 62 cases in 2012.

Unfortunately, any link between mental illness and mass killings, is immediately attacked by NPR, the New York Times, Time, the Atlantic, PBS — you get the idea. That is done because it is seen by those gun-control advocates as being a diversion. But it’s not.

But it is just historical fact that the state mental hospitals closed and that caused a cascading effect. Homelessness is maybe the biggest, but there is no denying that the deinstitutionalization has impacted mass killings in the United States, also.

 

The impact of closing mental hospitals

This impact is spelled out in the meticulously researched 2013 book American Psychosis: How The Federal Government Destroyed The Mental Illness Treatment System by the esteemed psychiatrist and schizophrenia researcher E. Fuller Torrey.

Relying on a deep trough of data and citations, Fuller Torrey argues that transferring responsibility for serious mental illnesses from state to the federal government destroyed the mental illness treatment system. This deinstitutionalization precipitated a disastrous change in how the mentally ill continue to be treated today.

Fuller Torrey does not dispute that the state mental hospital system had serious flaws. But he said it was a system to be fixed, rather than jettisoned. Because for too many of the seriously mentally ill, it was replaced with nothing. Part of the failing of the plan in the first place, beyond poor conception, was that none of the experts the federal government called in to create this change had any experience with mental hospitals. Again, all well cited.

Fuller Torrey writes that: “Unfortunately, the mental health centers legislation passed by Congress was fatally flawed. It encouraged the closing of state mental hospitals without any realistic plan regarding what would happen to the discharged patients, especially those who refused to take medication they needed to remain well. It included no plan for the future funding of the mental health centers. It focused resources on prevention when nobody understood enough about mental illnesses to know how to prevent them.”

His work on this topic has been difficult to dispute.

Elin Weiss writes of Fuller Torrey’s research in Metapsychology Online: “It also makes it difficult to argue with Fuller Torrey because the reader is almost overwhelmed by evidence of how the shift in responsibility has damaged the care of individuals with mental illness.”

 

Why they were closed

This is both interesting and telling of how things happen when the federal government has too much power.

In 1963 President John F. Kennedy spoke to Congress on “Mental Illness and Mental Retardation.” He proposed a new program where the federal government would create hundreds of community health centers to ultimately replace old, dated state mental institutions.

This was all very personal for Kennedy as he had a younger sister who was put in a state mental institution and the family was very upset over it. So, the federal government spent about $20 billion — a lot of money, but even more then — and created some 800 community health centers in the following decade.

At the same time, the number of patients in the state mental hospitals fell from 500,000 to 130,000. But there was a big problem.

These local, federally funded community mental health centers were not taking in the serious cases of mental illness being discharged from the shuttered state mental institutions. Instead, they took the easier cases of people, often those who had not been in the state mental institutions, and cared for them while taking the federal reimbursements.

What happened to more serious and too often dangerous people that had been discharged? Not coincidentally, right around this time America began experiencing its homeless problem, something that grew up precisely at the same time all of the state mental institutions were closed down.

With the advent of Supplemental Security Income, and Medicaid and Medicare, essentially all of the funding for the mentally ill is now through the federal government, at an annual cost of more than $100 billion. That means the distant, inefficient, sometimes corrupt gargantuan government in Washington runs mental health in every corner of the nation. No wonder there are so many problems with the system.

It’s not like there weren’t real and true problems with state mental hospitals. But instead of improving those conditions and creating institutions where the mentally ill could thrive under conditions of conscientious care, they were closed down and what was supposed to replace them did not. Further, in following years laws were passed making it more difficult to commit people who were a threat to themselves and sometimes others.

There was and is apparently no long-term, systemic method and place to commit people who really are not capable of living on their own. So they end up on the streets or in prison. This has now been going on for generations of mentally ill.

Because of the lack of any good way to institutionalize the chronically and dangerously mentally ill, there was no place to put the Parkland shooter or previous mass shooters — or perhaps future mass shooters.

This can be fixed. But it would require real leadership in Congress and at the state level to change laws. An honest and fair media would help, but that seems lost.

Congress could decentralize mental health care, return to allowing states to run modernized mental health institutions and provide guarded authority with reviews to institutionalize those who are a threat to themselves and others. This is a discussion that should take place totally separate from gun control, because it affects other parts of society.


Rod Thomson is an author, TV talking head and former journalist, and is Founder of The Revolutionary Act. Rod is co-host of Right Talk America With Julio and Rod on the Salem Radio Network.

Today’s news moves at a faster pace than ever, and a lot of sources are not trustworthy. Whatfinger.com  is my go-to source for keeping up with all the latest events in real time from good sources.


 

Categories
Constitution Government Guns Politics Truth

Florida Shooting Shows Government Cannot Protect Americans

Rod Thomson

In the wake of the Parkland, Florida school shooting and the wave of well-organized and financed protests using emotionally traumatized students, the Florida Legislature is set to vote on a range of legal responses — including a series of gun restrictions.

This, from a state that has some of the strongest Second Amendment protections in the union, should cause some real alarm. The pressure on legislators up for re-election in November is immense, from the demonstrators, anti-gun activists, their media allies, and the public consuming it all. But it is totally and purposely misdirected.

The real blame in this atrocity — after the deranged shooter himself, never forget that — is the total collapse of the governmental institutions charged with protecting the defenseless students collected into an unprotected public school.

Let’s recap how the Parkland shooting has played out politically. Because make no mistake, it is now all political in Florida and nationally, and it is driven by the activist left and the media pursuing their anti-gun agendas — and not by the facts as they are being revealed.

The FBI failed twice to take any steps when informed about the Parkland shooter being a threat to do exactly this, by his own family members. This is hardly the worst, as the FBI gets a lot of bum tips, but it is still a failure.

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Worse, the Broward County Sheriff’s Office failed to take any steps when called to his home 39 times, including for violent and threatening behavior, and being told he had guns. That is an extraordinary number of red flags missed or blown off by local law enforcement. The FBI and the Sheriff not only did nothing, but apparently they did not communicate with each other with this information.

Worse yet, the sheriff’s deputy assigned to the school did nothing, standing outside with his gun while the killer roamed the halls killing defenseless people.

And then very worst of all, when three more Broward deputies showed up, all of them stayed outside while the monster continued killing inside. They did nothing until Coral Springs police arrived on the scene, at which point the killer had stopped and was slipping away.

With four deputies all doing this, it is clear it was not cowardice. There are just too many good cops for that to be the case. They were almost assuredly following some sort of policy by the uber-incompetent and morally dubious Broward County Sheriff, a Democrat with a history of corruption charges.

The collapse of law enforcement and school security in the Parkland shooting (such as cameras being on a 20-minute delay, not a live feed, sowing more confusion) is perhaps the worst in modern American history. This shooting was eminently preventable, and should never have happened. The systemic collapse on the part of multiple government organizations failed the students, their families, friends and community.

And it will again.

But the entire media and political focus is on the weapon the killer used. It’s not the killer, not the FBI, not the deputies, not the school. It’s the weapon.

None of these protests are about the utter failure of the law enforcement community in Broward County. That’s because there is an agenda, using impressionable, traumatized youth. What there is not with any of these well-orchestrated protests is any effort to look at cause-and-effect solutions in this shooting. They are staring us in the face, but being ignored for the ongoing anti-gun political agenda.

And finally, the pursuit of gun bans and even gun confiscation, as has been suggested repeatedly in the wake of Parkland — using dubious example of Australia as the success of gun confiscation — means Americans would have to simply trust their defense to the same law enforcement and government systems that failed Parkland students so badly. Even in the best of times, police or deputies are several minutes away from a murderous rampage — or a home invasion. In the worst times, apparently they wait until the murder spree has ended.

Compare and contrast Parkland to the Sutherland Springs, Texas, church shooting last year where a civilian heard the attack, got his semi-automatic rifle and took down the mass killer at the church before cops could get to the scene. What was the gun he used to stop the slaughter? An AR-15, the exact type of weapon that is being aimed at for banning by activists and Democrats.

As the protests and politics continues to play out, remember where the real blame lies — after the evil shooter — when you hear all the calls for gun regulations. And ask how you will defend yourself once all our non-musket guns are confiscated. Because that is the only end-game for the anti-gun activists, protestations to the side.

Rod Thomson is an author, TV talking head and former journalist, and is Founder of The Revolutionary Act. Rod is co-host of Right Talk America With Julio and Rod on the Salem Radio Network.


Today’s news moves at a faster pace than ever, and a lot of sources are not trustworthy. Whatfinger.com  is my go-to source for keeping up with all the latest events in real time from good sources.


 

Categories
Freedom Government Liberty Media Obamacare Religious Trump

Freedoms Are Expanding Under President Trump

Rod Thomson

There is an ongoing narrative in the media and by Democrats that President Trump is a threat to everything American, that he is fascistic and that our most basic freedoms are under assault. Therefor, all must #resist!

But the opposite is true when set in juxtaposition to the Obama Administration.

The actual facts on the ground do not support what appears to be only a caricature created to scare the Democrat base and the American people in pursuit of the ongoing agenda to undermine the duly elected president.

When looking at Trump’s actions, compared to Obama’s actions, several things become clear. Not every individual action is pro-liberty, but in the aggregate, there is a substantial net lurch toward freedoms that moves the needle in the opposite direction from the Obama administration’s eight years of restraining American freedoms on several fronts.

The basics make the point.

 

Press freedoms

Ironically, Trump’s expansion of freedoms holds true even for the media that despises Trump and disingenuously considers him fascistic or trending toward Nazism.

Under Obama, we had actual federal government surveillance of Associated Press reporters and an FBI investigations of Fox News reporter James Rosen. Those are the ones we know of. Further, Obama and the Eric Holder Department of Justice aggressively pursued government whistleblowers — the journalists’ sources.

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According to the decidedly non-conservative Freedom of the Press Foundation, Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder used the Espionage Act of 1917 to put a record number of reporters and sources in jail. The foundation said “Obama strongly supported Holder’s war against journalists’ sources, despite once promising to protect whistleblowers when in office…”

Yes, Obama persecuted more leakers and journalists than any president ever. Isn’t it interesting how the media had no heart for really covering these stories?

But under Trump so far, there is no known Obama-era surveillance of reporters, no investigations of reporters. In fact, Trump is perhaps the most accessible and open president in history.

Empirically, there can be no doubt that, so far, journalists are freer under President Trump than they were under President Obama.

 

Religious freedoms

The Obama Administration used federal funds to pay for abortions, meaning individual taxpayers were required to participate in an activity that many find abhorrent and in violation of religious beliefs.

Further, Obamacare (again) allowed Obama to require businesses to pay for abortion and birth control devices for their employees through the insurance they offered, violating the religious convictions of many business owners.

This policy was a major hit to First Amendment freedoms and landed companies such as Hobby Lobby in court, creating a religious freedom firestorm — for those who care about religious freedom.

But last October, the Trump administration changed the Obama policy to allow employers to claim a religious or moral objection to Obamacare’s birth control coverage mandate, sweeping away the onerous, freedom-stealing policy. Naturally, the American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit to block the Trump action, because the ACLU is very selective of which civil liberties they defend — and the obvious bedrock Jeffersonian principle of a right to condoms and abortion are clearly more important than religious freedom.

You can argue for or against the policy as right or wrong, but you cannot argue that the Obama policy was pro-religious freedom when it denied religious freedom to some for the convenience of others.

This alone is a major gain for religious freedom. But Trump has also appointed federal judges, up to and including Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch, who are originalist and will almost assuredly protect religious liberty when it collides with modern conveniences.

 

Individual freedoms

President Obama’s signature action was Obamacare. And there can be no argument from any side that Affordable Care Act was a pro-freedom bill or expanded individual liberties.

The basic premise of Obamacare was to specifically limit individuals’ choices and freedoms by requiring all Americans to buy a product (health insurance) and penalizing them if they did not to create a large enough marketplace to cover the uninsured. This was the infamous individual mandate. You can argue for the cause of ACA, but you cannot argue it was pro-freedom. By definition and mandate, it was not.

Trump and Congressional Republicans essentially eliminated the individual mandate in the tax reform package that has been so successful on the economic front. That was a net step back from the government control of the previous administration and toward individual freedom.

The same can be said of the rest of the tax reform package. Any cut in personal income taxes is at least a tiny step toward more freedom as Americans are allowed to spend more of their money how they choose, not how some distant bureaucrat chooses.

And deregulation allows more freedom from businesses to homeowners, not only helping the economy and general quality of life, but expanding liberties for Americans by removing at least a small part of the yoke of government.

 

A couple of exceptions to watch

There are a couple of small exceptions to this general rule.

Trump’s proposal, at the urging of his daughter Ivanka Trump, for family and medical leave reduces individual freedoms by forcing companies to provide this — meaning the companies have less freedom as do the company employees who must pick up the slack while people are on lengthy leaves via government mandate.

Also, to a very tiny degree, Trump’s $1.5 trillion government infrastructure spending bill is the wrong direction because it ultimately requires taxes to pay for. More government spending equals less individual freedom. It’s just a basic equation.

But these two exceptions pale when compared to the broader expansions of liberties for all Americans.

Trump will get little to no credit for this expansion of liberties because the media’s shared ideology with Obama and Democrats means they either don’t value these freedoms or don’t even recognize their loss.

But there are still enough Americans that prize liberty to appreciate this new atmosphere.


Rod Thomson is an author, TV talking head and former journalist, and is Founder of The Revolutionary Act.

Today’s news moves at a faster pace than ever, and a lot of sources are not trustworthy. Whatfinger.com  is my go-to source for keeping up with all the latest events in real time from good sources.


 

Categories
Capitalism Democrats Government Media Politics Truth

Media Ignorance on Capitalism Hurts Low-Wage American Workers

Rod Thomson

For whatever reason — ignorance, socialist-leaning worldview or laziness — basic economics of free market capitalism seems all but impossible for most of the mainstream media to grasp. And that is a shame. It means they fall for the emotional appeal of fellow Democrats and others who lack an understanding of capitalism, which ultimately ends up hurting low-wage American workers the most — purportedly the people they are trying to help.

Let’s walk through this. Because it becomes blindingly obvious this is exactly what happens. It’s just that consumers of the legacy media may never understand — and alas, they’re unlikely to read this article.

First, the basics on capitalism. At its most foundational, capitalism functions on supply and demand and the ability of a company to make a profit meeting the demand, and the person creating the demand to have multiple supply options to create competition.

Simple, right?

Let’s say I need a pair of shoes. Bob sells shoes. The shoes cost him $20 to make. With all of his overhead — building, electricity, employees, benefits, etc. — he needs to sell each pair of shoes for $35 to break even. He puts the shoes on display for sale at $40, to make a $5 profit. I go to Bob’s store in my tattered shoes and decide if I am willing to pay $40. If so, we’ve created a market and a transaction. Bob makes $5 profit and I get my shoes for $40. Everyone is satisfied.

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At each step in the shoe-production process, and the building where Bob displays them and pays for electricity, there are more markets of demand and supply happening, creating a broader economy. Now let’s say Bob gets greedy — like many liberals tell us corporations are — and tries to sell his shoes for $60 to make a $25 profit. I may go to a different shoe store to find something more affordable. Enough people do this, and Bob is forced eventually to lower his price. This is the role of competition in capitalism, with hundreds of shoe stores vying for my purchase and that of thousands of other consumers.

These capitalism concepts of supply, demand, profit and competition seems to elude most media reports, allowing people like Sen. Bernie Sanders to claim corporations are evil, gouge employees and make outrageous profits. If you are making $9 per hour and working for a company making billions of dollars in profits without any media explanation of the fuller context, this is very enticing to believe.

But it is also largely and demonstrably untrue.

Obviously corporations are not evil. They are legal entities made up of people with vested interests in those entities earning a profit so they can stay in business. Corporations generally pay their employees through the same forces of supply and demand, but for workers not products. They don’t gouge, they make decisions based on their employee needs and their profit needs. This is obviously rational, albeit a little hard to objectively quantify.

What is not hard to quantify is that corporations make outrageous profits. Liberal politicians such as Sanders, and many in the media, always use the anecdote corporation that just made a huge profit, rather than actual data points.

The average corporation’s profit margin is about 7 percent, according to a New York University Stern database. Grocery stores and retailers make much less, about 2.5 percent profit. And your local liberal’s favorite evil corporation, Walmart, squeezes out a paltry 2.1 percent profit. Walmart’s profit margin is less than one-third of what it pays in taxes.

Yet a 2013 Reason-Rupe Poll found that the average American guessed the typical corporate American profit to be 36 percent — more than four times reality. How did Americans get such a wildly inaccurate impression?

The media.

The socialist-leaning, capitalist-ignorant, liberal-sympathetic mainstream media swallowing the nonsense of Sanders and many other Democrats and reiterating it as fair, objective news. This is surprisingly common as media bias and distortion consistently leads media consumers to have opinions that are embarrassingly divorced from reality. For instance, according to a 2011 Gallup poll, Americans estimated that 25 percent of the people in America were homosexual. In 2015, it was 23 percent. The actual number is about 3-5%. 

The corporate profits disconnect is a combination of economic ignorance and liberal agenda. The gay disconnect is pure propaganda by the media and Hollywood.

But while the gay agenda has its share of downsides, the economic ignorance and agenda has done material damage to the working poor in America — by the very people claiming to be watching out for the working poor in America. And it would do a lot more if it could.

Let’s take the minimum wage as an example. Compassionate liberals and their media allies constantly strut around such nonsense as seriously intoning that a family cannot live on the minimum wage. Well, no duh! None were ever supposed to. (And FYI, the vast majority of minimum wage workers are young people still living at home and second incomes.)

Let’s look at what happens when the government passes a law to dramatically raise the minimum wage to, say, $15, which has been all the liberal protester/union rage the past few years. And because they have many workers near minimum wage, let’s force that on Walmart.

If Walmart, with a profit margin of 2.1 percent, has to increase the majority of its employees’ pay by 50 to 100 percent, how will they be forced to respond? Remember, the company needs to meet demands while making a profit. Grade school capitalism. It has four options, which it may combine:

1) It can raise prices. Since all of its competitors will be facing a similar problem because of liberal government action, this will almost assuredly happen for some portion of the cost offset. So the price of everything from bread and milk to shoes and shirts will rise — maybe a lot. Who shops at Walmart the most? Low-income workers, including likely everyone trying to support a family on minimum wage. See the problem? If so, you’re ahead of liberals and the media.

2) Cut the number of workers, particularly full-time workers with benefits. Add more part-time workers and employ the use of technology to replace low-skill workers. Who does this hurt? Right. The very people liberals say they want to help.

3) Cut hours. Walmart is open 24 hours, 365 days per year right now. It’s particularly convenient for people working strange hours — which are most often lower-wage workers. If Walmart reduces the number of open hours to 12 or even eight, which would be one shift, that would save money in many areas, including by cutting employees substantially. Who would be hurt? You guessed it!

4) Close the least profitable stores and keep open the most profitable. Closing large numbers of Walmart stores clearly impacts Walmart consumers, the lower end working class.

The ignorant will say, “Walmart makes billions of dollars! It can pay its workers more!” But remember, their margin is only 2.1 percent. The billions comes from scale. Walmart stores just in the United States employ 1.4 million employees. Without some or all of the four adjustments above, Walmart could dole out only about a $3.50-per-hour raise before it erased all of its profits and began losing money.

And no company can do that for long.

But liberals and socialists like Sanders can’t advocate for higher costs, fewer options and reduced employment for low-skill workers. That would be political insanity. Yet that is exactly what would result from a minimum wage hike. It’s also what results from high taxes and too much regulation. But you don’t know any of this if you rely on mainstream media sources such as the New York Times, Washington Post, CNN, the networks or your local news and media outlets.

The final, real-life proof in the pudding is that the GOP tax reform package President Trump recently signed has triggered an avalanche of employee bonuses, reinvestments in domestic production, tens of thousands of new hires and, ironically, several companies choosing to voluntarily increase their own minimum wage to between $12 and $15 per hour.

None of this is because of government fiat and control, but because government go out of the way.

Hopefully, it is getting harder and harder for the media to obfuscate that reality.

Rod Thomson is an author, TV talking head and former journalist, and is Founder of The Revolutionary Act.


Today’s news moves at a faster pace than ever, and a lot of sources are not trustworthy. Whatfinger.com  is my go-to source for keeping up with all the latest events in real time from good sources.


 

Categories
Budget Congress Constitution Government Truth

True Constitutional Budgeting Would Eliminate Political Brinkmanship

By KrisAnne Hall, JD

Now that the most recent budget panic is momentarily past, let’s speak about the budget truthfully and constitutionally.

Politicians and media pundits seem intent upon deflecting, distracting and deceiving the American public to keep the same old divisive politics churning along. The popular talking points do nothing to identify the real problems nor focus on the right solutions. It’s time to stop the blame game and look at the problem that has plagued America since 1921.

We want to look to the Constitution of the United States and what those who wrote that document say about the budget; how taxing, spending and budgeting are designed to work, who is responsible for that process, and most importantly, what is the designed solution to this current budgeting problem.

First let’s put aside some of the errant deflections that saturate popular media and get to the root issues.

The President of the United States is not to blame for any budget crisis. This is not a defense of any president. This is a factual statement that applies to all presidents since the Constitution was ratified in 1789. The president of the United States, other than submitting a budget, was not established as a “necessary” part of the budgeting process until Congress passed the unconstitutional Congressional Budget and Impoundment Control Act of 1974.

The Senate is not to blame for the failure to pass a budget. The Senate, constitutionally speaking, only plays a supportive role in creating and passing of the budget. From a Constitutional perspective it’s not mandatory for the Senate to approve any budget.

I know this sounds strange. I know that your D.C. politician is likely to vehemently disagree, and some may be just ignorant. However, the budget process that is used today is not only relatively new in our government, but also contrary to the design of the Constitution.

 

The original and long-lasting budgeting method

Ironically, it’s this radical, new budgeting method that makes the process so complicated that it’s nearly impossible to understand. The process created by the designers of our Constitution, the process that was mostly followed until the turn of the 20th century, is plain, simple and expedient. The constitutional process, like the Constitution itself, was designed so that the “we the people” could clearly understand and follow the budget process, easily identify any problems and quickly apply the proper solutions.

Article 1 Section 7 Clause 1 of the Constitution is the governing text regarding this issue of budgeting. It reads:

“All Bills for raising Revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives; but the Senate may propose or concur with amendments as on other Bills.”

Since the Constitution is a contract, in line with contract law, we must look to the drafters of the contract when we need clarity. James Madison, drafter of the Constitution, fourth president of the United States and commonly referred to as the “Father of the Constitution,” explains in Federalist 58 that the budget is to rest firmly in the hands of the House of Representatives. He says:

“The House of Representatives cannot only refuse, but they alone can propose, the supplies requisite for the support of the government…This power over the purse may, in fact, be regarded as the most complete and effectual weapon with which any constitution can arm the immediate representatives of the people, for obtaining a redress of every grievance, and for carrying into effect every just and salutatory measure.”

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Madison also explains that one of the main reasons the House was vested with this important power was to reduce “the overgrown prerogatives of the other branches of government” as the people may demand.

According to the Father of the Constitution, when speaking about the design of the Constitution with those who would ratify the Constitution, the sole responsibility for creating a budget rests in the hands of your House Representatives. Alone.

On May 15, 1789, during the debates on the ratification of the Constitution, James Madison, then a federal representative to his District in Virginia, had a conversation with fellow Virginia Representative Alexander White.

White says: “The Constitution, having authorized the House of Representatives alone to originate money bills, places an important trust in our hands, which, as their protectors, we ought not to part with. I do not mean to imply that the Senate are less to be trusted than this house; but the Constitution, no doubt for wise purposes, has given the immediate representatives of the people a control over the whole government in this particular, which, for their interest, they ought not let out of their hands.”

It is interesting to note that White is repeating the principle of the power of the purse Madison identified in Federalist 58; that it is the duty of the House of Representatives to have a “control over the whole government” to reduce “the overgrown prerogatives of the other branches of government.”

Madison replies to White with confirmation:

“The principle reason why the Constitution had made this distinction was, because they (the House) were chosen by the people, and supposed to be the best acquainted with their interest and ability.”

It really becomes clear, according to the drafters of the Constitution, that the House alone was vested with the power of purse.  

Remember, Article 1 Section 7 Clause 1 says, the Senate may propose amendments and may concur, but now we know it says MAY because their agreement is not necessary.  

As both White and Madison stated, this power rests in the House alone because it is the House that is chosen directly by the people as their representatives and best suited to remedy their grievances and reduce and control all the other branches…as the people see fit.  

Constitutionally speaking, if the House proposes a budget that the Senate refuses to vote upon, then the House budget stands. If the Senate proposes an amendment to the budget and the House doesn’t want it, then the original House budget stands. It is also important to note that constitutionally speaking the president was to have no veto power over a budget.

And this is how our government operated until the 20th century.

 

The new budgeting process confusion

Proponents of the new and then-radical budgeting procedure that began with the Budget Accounting Act of 1921 (which moved many preliminary budget-setting functions to the President, created what is now the Office of Budget and Management in the Executive Branch and required the President to submit an annual budget), want to confuse the specific process outlined in Article 1 section 7 clause 1 with the procedure of passing a law in Article 1 section 7 clause 2-3.

A very important distinction must be recognized: A budget is not a law. Very simply, a budget expires, a law does not. A law must follow the procedure of both houses of Congress, with veto power by the president because in order to get rid of a law it must be repealed.

The arduous process of passing a law is established to be a check and balance to prevent the passing of unconstitutional, harmful laws. Budgets, however, expire and must be renewed each congressional session. No future Congress is ever bound by a past congressional budget. That is one reason why the Senate is not necessary to the process, and president is procedurally excluded from the budgetary process. The budget process does not require the same level of checks and balances; the budget is the check and balance.

We must also remember that one of the chief purposes for vesting this power in the House was to reduce the overgrowth of the other branches of government. It is counterintuitive to ask the House to exercise that control over the Senate, the Executive, and the Judiciary and then require those branches to concur with that control.

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It is highly unlikely that our founders would create such an absurdity within the Constitution, yet the process has been corrupted to take control from the House and consequently from the people so that the other branches are free to run roughshod over the people’s liberty and continue year after year on an unbridled spending spree. This is the most important reason the involvement of the Senate and the Executive are intentionally limited and even excluded from the budgetary process.

Of course, the taxing and spending authority of the House of Representatives itself is not limitless, but is directly limited by the few and defined powers that are delegated to the federal government. Madison warned in 1792 that if the members of the House were allowed to tax and spend outside the delegated authority by the Constitution on things like education, roads, care for the poor, and local police matters, it would transmute the very nature of the Constitution and the limited government it created.

James Madison, in Federalist 45, also explains that the powers delegated to the federal government by the Constitution are exercised principally on foreign affairs. He says these powers are specifically “war peace negotiations and foreign commerce, with which last the power of taxation will, for the most part, be connected.” The power to tax and spend in the House was to be principally exercised through foreign affairs, not through the direct taxation of the people. For the budget to be consistent with the Constitution, it must be limited to spending on powers and programs properly delegated through the Constitution.  

The current budgeting procedures, invented outside the boundaries of the Constitution less than 60 years ago, are contrary to the Constitution and therefore, according to Article 6 section 2 of the Constitution, invalid and unlawful. These corrupted procedures have also achieved exactly what both James Madison and Alexander White have warned and exactly what the creators of the Constitution hoped to prevent: the House has let this vital power out of their hands and placed it into the hands of those not constitutionally fit nor authorized to fulfill the demand.  

We need educated and principled leaders in Congress to stand against this usurpation of the greatest check and balance on governmental overreach. We need educated and principled representatives in the House who are willing to demand and require that all budgeting, taxing and spending are consistent with the Supreme Law of the Land, even if they must oppose current legislation.

We need educated and principled people in America who will expect and demand that every budget will follow the following guidelines as established by the Constitution and practiced in the United States for over a century:

  1. Budget must be firmly in the hands of the House of Representatives
  2. No overriding control by the Senate
  3. No veto power by the Executive
  4. No spending on items beyond the grant of the Constitution
  5. House of Representatives to check the expansion of the federal government by control of the purse strings.

Then America can begin the journey to Constitutional recovery.  

 

If you want to get a full, original source understanding of the budgetary process established in 1789 and followed for over a century, visit www.LibertyFirstUniversity.com and enroll in this online, self-paced, educational program. I personally guarantee that Liberty First University will to teach you the education necessary for demanding a proper Constitutional Republic; an education that you cannot find anywhere else.

KrisAnne Hall is a former biochemist, Russian linguist for the US Army, and former prosecutor for the State of Florida. KrisAnne also practiced First Amendment Law for a prominent Florida non-profit Law firm. KrisAnne now travels the country teaching the foundational principles of Liberty and our Constitutional Republic. KrisAnne is the author of 6 books on the Constitution and Bill of Rights, she also has an internationally popular radio and television show and her books and classes have been featured on C-SPAN TV. KrisAnne can be found at www.KrisAnneHall.com.


Today’s news moves at a faster pace than ever, and a lot of sources are not trustworthy. Whatfinger.com is my go-to source for keeping up with all the latest events in real time from good sources.


 

Categories
Congress Government Truth

Keep The Filibuster, Limit The Damage Congress Does To Americans

by Rep. Julio Gonzalez, M.D., J.D.

“Gridlock is the greatest protection to our personal liberties.”

Justice Clarence Thomas, addressing Stetson Law students

With Congress’ hyperpartisan posture and the difficulty passing legislation through the Senate, interest has grown in doing away with the filibuster rule. Be careful what is hoped for.

Senate rules require a greater than 60 percent vote to forcibly end a filibuster, a supermajority requirement is essentially invoked in order to pass a substantive bill out of the Senate. The difficulty in surmounting this hurdle has many lamenting the filibuster rule and wondering whether it’s time to do away with the supermajority provision so that bills may be passed by a simple majority.  

My answer to this suggestion is quite simple. No.  

One of the great priorities of the Framers in designing the Constitution was the concept of separation of powers and the decentralization of authority. These are the principles that gave rise to the enumerated powers of the federal government and the creation of three co-equal branches of government. Even within the legislative branch, the plan was to maximize the tension between the chambers so as to elevate the hurdle to be cleared to successfully get a bill to the President’s desk.

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According to the Framers, the House of Representatives was designed to be the chamber of the people, reactive to its whims, and directly elected by the constituencies of the various districts. Towards that end, every member of the House of Representatives was subject to reelection every two years so that if Congress were to proceed in a direction contrary to the will of the people, the people themselves could forcibly and quickly effect a change in the direction of Congress.  

The Senate was decidedly different as it was supposed to be the more seasoned, more stable chamber.

First, only one third of the Senate was to change hands each election cycle, that way, while the House could be subject to dramatic, biennial membership changes, the Senate could only change one-third of its members at a time.  

Second, the Senate was equal in representation of each state. This meant that while the number of members in the House of Representatives varied according to each state’s population, the representation from amongst the various states was equally weighted. It also meant that each Senator was responsible for a much larger constituency, which would have a tempering effect on the Senator’s views.  While it is easy to take a hard right or hard left position when one represents a small geographic location with similar views, taking on a population as large as that of a state checks the breadth of a senator’s views as the state as a whole can never be as radical as its most ardent congressional seat.

But there was a third distinction to the Senate, and one that is arguably more influential upon its actions. In the Constitution’s original incarnation, the members of the Senate were elected by each state’s legislature. This was instrumental to defining the actions and the policies approved by the Senate since, under this scheme, the Senate was truly answerable to the states. One can scarcely imagine a Senator voting for imposing a funding mandate upon a state if that senator knew that his state legislature would be negatively impacted by his vote.  

That all changed with the passage of the Seventeenth Amendment to the Constitution. As a result of the Seventeenth Amendment, senators were elected by a direct vote from the people of each state. Instantly, the Senate became less responsive to the state legislature and became decidedly more like the House of Representatives. As a result, it became a lot easier for a bill originating in the House of Representatives, namely the budget bill, to get passed out of the Senate.  

Enter the filibuster. In light of the decreasing tensions between the two legislative chambers resulting from the ratification of the Seventeenth Amendment to the Constitution, it has become much easier for the federal government to pass laws. Power has been centralized, not decentralized, as the Framers had intended.

The filibuster with its 60 percent plus one supermajority requirement to break it, although not constitutionally prescribed, imparts a difference in the inner workings of the two chambers that serves to increase the tension between the two chambers and decentralize power away from the House of Representatives. In so doing, our liberties stand a higher level of protection.

So, in light of the trend toward centralization of power brought to us through the actions of the Progressive wing of our political spectrum, should we encourage the Senate to do away with the filibuster rule?

The answer, clearly, is no — unless we want even more centralization of controlling authority.

Dr. Julio Gonzalez is an orthopaedic surgeon and lawyer living in Venice, Florida. He is the author of The Federalist Pages and serves in the Florida House of Representatives. He can be reached through www.thefederalistpages.com to arrange a lecture or book signing.