Sunday, February 28, 2016

Voting with Responsibility

Emotion before reason and action before fact.  Ready, fire and no need to aim.  Too many people truly do not understand what is required to be a responsible citizen and have relegated the critical action of voting to an emotionally dysfunctional task.  I am reminded of a man who once told me that he voted for Bill Clinton because he identified with Clinton saying “He’s my age, chases women, and smoked marijuana.  I can see myself having a beer with him”.

In that vein, let’s begin elevating how we elect a President in this election cycle.  Here is a plan of action for your consideration:

1.  First and foremost, what does the job of president entail?

In essence the Constitution in Article II provides the President the powers to “be Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy  . . . and of the Militia of the several States, . . . have Power to grant Reprieves and Pardons . . . and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, to make Treaties, provided two thirds of the Senators present concur; and he shall nominate, and by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, shall appoint Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls, Judges of the supreme Court, and all other officers of the United States, and . . . shall have Power to fill up all Vacancies that may happen during the Recess of the Senate, . . . He shall from time to time give to the Congress Information of the State of the Union, and recommend to their Consideration such Measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient; he may, on extraordinary Occasions, convene both Houses, or either of them, and in Case of Disagreement between them, with Respect to the Time of Adjournment, he may adjourn them to such Time as he shall think proper; he shall receive Ambassadors and other public Ministers; he shall take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed, and shall Commission all the Officers of the United States.”

Only Congress is granted the power to make laws, whereas the President must faithfully execute the laws.  The President does have the power to veto legislation to prevent it from becoming a law, but such veto can be overridden by Congress.  So when presidential candidates say they will give free college education or rebuild the military they are merely saying what their policy preference is.  As president they have no granted power to do any such thing unless it is passed by both houses of Congress and withstands any court challenge.

2.  Make a list as to why do you support a specific candidate?

Choosing a candidate should be a somber and reasoned decision.  Make a list of what policies you like and dislike.  A candidate’s policies are critical and should be compared and limited to Article 1 Section VIII of the Constitution.  These 18 paragraphs define the limited powers of the national government and all else is left to the States and people.

You may like Donald Trump but what are his policies beside his tag line to make America great again?  Yes, many are angry at government and media, but anger should be channeled into reasoned research not emotional reaction.

You may like Hillary Clinton for her many years in politics but she has a proven record of deceit and in all her time in Congress and as Secretary of State, what has she accomplished?  Which brings us to the critical point, that for all the talk of a candidate, do they have a reasonable avenue to achieve what they propose?

For example, Chris Mathews grilled Bernie Sanders on how he was going to get 60 votes in the Senate for any of his policies.  Sanders only response was that Mathews did not understand that Sanders was starting a revolution and young people would come into the streets to demand change.  This, by itself, indicates Sanders has no support for his policies and he has a daunting task to get his legislation by a revolution.
3.  Examine your list

Is your list reasonable or simply talking points by the candidate and media?  Does the list pertain to the powers of the President and is it reasonably achievable.  A good candidate is someone who you agree with 50% of the time.

4.  Come to a verdict on each candidate

Question each candidate.  This is a job application and do not limit yourself to one candidate or one party.  If all this results in questioning your prior conception of your support of the candidate – good.  

Being a responsible citizen and voting responsibly is no different than your professional life.  Whether you study or are employed in engineering to the performing arts, you learn a discipline through the practice of it.  Politics is no different.  It requires study and constant practice.  Do not be drawn into a chaotic and emotional disastrous selection – this is what politicians and media want.  It plays us for fools and reduces our choices to identity politics or drama for ratings.  Gather facts, reason judgments and make your decision.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Who Should the Next Supreme Court Justice Be?

It is a matter of record that liberal justices on the Supreme Court vote in a block – there is essentially no dissent.  They see the Constitution for them to rule, as they will without restraint.  They ignore the extensive writings of the Federalists and Anti-federalists, the notes of the Constitutional Convention, and the great political philosophers whose ideas are incorporated in the Constitution - all of which explain and restrain the federal government.  For these justices, the Constitution is subject to their notions of decency and morality.

Regardless of your opinion on abortion, homosexual marriage and the Affordable Care Act, these are all unaddressed by the Constitution.  So when the Court reads “rights” into the Constitution, it steals the democratic process reserved to the people which is to be persevered by the Constitution.  This is the judicial corruption of the Constitution and the subversion of the people’s right to self-governance.

The choice for the American public is to decide if they really do want self-governance or merely five justices to decide what freedoms the other 320 million people do or do not have.  If the former, then people must demand justices from their elected politicians that read, not interpret, the Constitution.  If the latter, then demand justices that will interpret the Constitution.  But remember, going down this latter road it is a path of no return, as freedom once lost has historically only been regained through bloodshed.

Take to heart that tyranny does not start with gulags and concentration camps.  It starts with calls of compassion.  It is disguised as “giving” you rights.  But there is no instance in history when the consolidation of power does not lead to political corruption and eventually enslavement.  It is the undeniable nature of man that power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.


Sunday, February 14, 2016

A Pillar of Liberty Lost

Last night, America lost a great guardian to the light of liberty as Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia died at age 79.  He stood to protect and defend the Constitution that he swore an oath to preserve.  We quote Scalia extensively in our book, Vigilance The Price of Liberty.

In an interview with Piers Morgan in 2012, referring to the question of torture as punishment, Scalia perfectly highlights the importance of the role of the judicial branch of the government and what he stood for to demonstrate his resolute conviction:

MORGAN: Isn’t it down to the Supreme Court to effectively give a more modern interpretation of the spirit of what that means, to adapt it to modern times [emphasis added]? 
SCALIA: Well, that’s lovely. (LAUGHTER) 
MORGAN: Well, I know you don’t think it is. But why don’t you think it is? 
SCALIA: Well, I don’t think it is, because, look, the background principle of all of this is democracy. [emphasis added] A self-governing people who decide the laws that will be applied to them.  There are exceptions to that.  Those exceptions are contained in the Constitution, mostly in the Bill of Rights.  And you cannot read those exceptions as broadly as the current courts desires to read them, thereby depriving Americans of legitimate choices that the American people have never decided to take away from them [emphasis added].
(Vigilance The Price of Liberty, pg.82)

Justice Scalia understood his role as a Supreme Court Justice.  He was extremely knowledgeable of history, the law and our founding document, but he also had the ability to articulate these abstract thoughts into intelligible explanations.

But what happens next?  In essence the President makes a nomination to the Senate Judiciary Committee, currently composed of 11 Republicans and 9 Democrats.  They interview the candidate then typically recommend the candidate go to the Senate for a vote.  However, a vote may be stalled if a 60-vote threshold filibuster in the Senate is not overcome.

The prior attempt to fill a Supreme Court vacancy in a presidential election year was in 1968.  Then President Johnson tried to move Justice Abe Fortas to Chief Justice, but the Senate blocked Fortas and the other nomination (to fill Fortas’s spot as associate justice).  Johnson later withdrew the nomination.

Most people do not remember the excellent TV series, Ethics in America, that aired in the late 80s - and fewer realize that Scalia appeared twice on this show.  It is with the fondest of memories we provide this link to one of the episodes.  Ethics in America, and its examination of contemporary ethical conflicts, was made for Scalia and his ability to take these tough issues and produce logical resolutions.

"To Defend a Killer" episode 2, Ethics in America, Annenberg Learner

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Political Ethics - Does It Exist?

Political Ethics, we would submit, is the practice of making moral judgements about political process and policy of government so that process is not arbitrary or capricious, and policy is in direct correlation to our liberties.

So how is it that politicians idly stand by as arbitrary and capricious processes are used to enact policies that are antithesis to our liberties?  Bureaucratic entities such as EPA, NLRB and IRS, to name a few, can wield legislative and judicial power that the Constitution does not warrant.

Only Congress can make laws but the bureaucratic state that has risen to make rules and regulations outside of Congress have the same effect of law.  All this while politicians largely stand by and focus on their election.

Not only is the word bureau confusing to spell, but the actions of the entity are just as convoluted.  And when things go awry, to the point that the public notices, do not worry because the politicians will join in your outrage and form a special committee to investigate.  But an ethics committee is a laughable concept in the political arena; as a place where survival of the most corrupt reign, an ethics committee is just a nicer way of saying “self-interest bureau”.

Vigilance is not only the price of liberty, but the tool with which we the people can impose ethical political process and policy.