July 25, 2010

The Prescience of George Clinton

George Clinton
Constitutional conservatives are familiar with the collected writings by proponents of the Constitution known as The Federalist Papers.  Less well known and read are the counter-arguments of that debate embodied by The Anti-Federalist Papers.

The term “anti-federalist” for the authors was actually a misnomer.  These were patriots, giants of their time, who argued for a true federal government, limited in scope and power, subservient to the States in most aspects not related to the collective national interests and security.  Noted anti-federalists include Samual Adams, Patrick Henry, and a man considered the father of the Bill of Rights, George Mason.

These men raised serious questions about the vagueness in some of the language proposed.  That same vagueness that allows liberals and statists to claim the Constitution is a “living” document, open to re-interpretation by today’s societal standards.  The first ten amendments adopted, The Bill of Rights, addressed and corrected many, but not all of the concerns expressed in the Anti-Federalist Papers.

George Clinton, first Governor of New York and fourth Vice President under Thomas Jefferson and James Madison, was among those anti-federalists arguing for stricter restraints on the government than those proposed during the Constitutional Convention.  There is some dispute, but Clinton is generally regarded as the author using the pseudonym of “Cato” when writing to the New-York Journal outlining his case against sections of the proposed Constitution as written.

The New-York Journal, November 22, 1787

To the Citizens of the State of New York.
In my last number I endeavored to prove that the language of the article relative to the establishment of the executive of this new government was vague and inexplicit, that the great powers of the President, connected with his duration in office would lead to oppression and ruin. That he would be governed by favorites and flatterers, or that a dangerous council would be collected from the great officers of state, -- that the ten miles square [District of Columbia], if the remarks of one of the wisest men, drawn from the experience of mankind, may be credited, would be the asylum of the base, idle, avaricious and ambitious, and that the court would possess a language and manners different from yours; that a vice president is as unnecessary, as he is dangerous in his influence -- that the president cannot represent you because he is not of your own immediate choice, that if you adopt this government, you will incline to an arbitrary and odious aristocracy or monarchy the that the president possessed of the power, given him by this frame of government differs but very immaterially from the establishment of monarchy in Great Britain, and I warned you to beware of the fallacious resemblance that is held out to you by the advocates of this new system between it and your own state governments.

Fast-forward 220 years after ratification of the Constitution to the Obama administration.  Consider first a $1.4 trillion budget deficit, $13.2 trillion in national debt, over $100 trillion in unfunded Federal mandates – add Obamacare, Government Motors, the housing loan industry takeover, and ‘here a czar, there a czar, everywhere a czar czar’ – then consider the warnings offered by George Clinton.

Dennis P. O'Neil

May 29, 2010


On January 20, 2009, a beaming Barak Hussein Obama strode down Pennsylvania Avenue.  He was President of the United States of America.  Basking in the cheers of the gathered throngs, this was his moment of triumph.  Backed by veto proof majorities in Congress, and supported by high approval ratings, Barak Obama had great plans for the nation he now led.

Weekly parties at the official residence, Air Force One and Marine One at his beck and call, dinners with heads of state, 5-hour days playing golf, whole cities brought to standstills as he enjoyed 'date nights' with his First Lady, Obama clearly relished the trappings of power.  Yet, he was woefully unprepared for the demands on, or criticism facing, the occupant of the Oval Office.

The first indications of how the new president would react to anything other than unbridled adulation came less than a month after his inauguration.  The Democrat controlled Congress rushed through the “American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009” (aka “Stimulus Bill”), ready for his signature on February 17, 2009.  Hundreds gathered outside Dobson High School in Mesa, Arizona the following day in protest as Obama arrived to champion the new legislation.  The presidential motorcade made a last second change to bring Obama in from a different direction so he would not have to pass the signs mocking this great give away of the peoples' treasure.

More protests came, each larger than the previous, culminating in a massive tax day rally.  The TEA Party Movement captured the Nation's attention as millions gathered on the National Mall.  Yet, White House spokesman, Robert Gibbs, made every effort to downplay the impact of such a demonstration, insisting the administration wasn't even aware of masses marching through D.C.

Obama continued his push to “transform America” as fewer and fewer citizens swooned in awe of his personality.  The populace began to see through this political Professor Harold Hill, and started demanding music right here in River City.  Finally, embarrassed after having been called to account for blasting the Cambridge PD as “acting stupidly”, Obama retreated behind the Rose Garden walls, refusing to hold a formal press conference for months.

Vice President Biden continued making inane statements as the Mad Hatter of the House, in concert with the Senate's Harry the Despised, spindled, folded, and mutilated the Constitution to force passage of the president's signature legislation, ObamaCare.  The people were outraged at this naked power grab, especially following the government take over of the auto and banking industries.  Stung by this rebuke, the administration began lashing out at those dissenting.  His followers denigrated tax and spend protesters with a vulgar sexual reference.  Obama personally attacked the banking and financial industries in hopes of shifting the public ire.

Meanwhile, his administration repeatedly demonstrated incompetence when it came to national security.  The right was outraged at the Ft Hood murders and Janet 'Ineedanap' declaring “the system works” as the actions ordinary people foiled attempts to blow up a plane over Detroit, and car bomb the heart of Times Square.  Even Obama's political base grew more and more disenchanted with his failure to deliver on campaign promises regarding the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, closing Guantanamo, “don't ask, don't tell” and a host of other leftist hot button issues.  Obama's popularity and approval ratings fell faster than the nation's employment figures.

Baghdad Bobby Gibbs did his best to gloss over and ignore questions about the thirty some odd days it took Obama to respond on the Deepwater Horizon disaster.  Obama finally came forward himself to answer questions, making every effort to sound convincing in his assertion that he was really on top of the situation.  The news conference ended with a terse non-response to a question about the growing Sestak bribery scandal.

As each news cycle brings more questions of competence, the Obama administration exhibits an ever growing siege mentality.  No longer admired as “the one we have been waiting for”, Obama's fragile ego is shattering under the pressures of a job well above his pay-grade.  He is becoming almost Nixonian with the constant attacks on those he perceives as wronging him.  It is a disturbing revelation about his personality as he retrenches deeper behind those Rose Garden walls.   The most transparent and open administration in history has closed the shutters, and the White House seems to more closely resemble the Führerbunker.  This cannot bode well for our nation.

Dennis P. O'Neil

May 20, 2010

Deliverance on the Potomac

The Obama ship of state is floundering, thanks to Arizona and it's recently enacted anti-illegal alien law.  The Arizona legislature wrote the law to help protect the citizens and legal residents of Arizona.  The law was also a plea to the Federal government for action in stemming the invasion of illegals crossing our borders.  However, instead of a shot across the bow of the Obama administration, it seems Arizona's action was a direct hit at the waterline of the SS Turddodger.  

The crew panicked.  Firing blindly at Arizona while never having read SB1070(as amended), they rushed before cameras of an ever compliant media to denounce the law.  From Captain O himself on down, they implied that all law enforcement officers in Arizona were unrepentant racists, with stout lynching ropes in the trunks of their patrol cars, on the hunt for people with brown skin and accents.

Instead of support and positive action to secure America's borders, all that is coming out of Foggy Bottom is a squealing that would make Ned Beatty proud.   The only thing missing is the banjo music.

Dennis P. O'Neil

May 13, 2010

OK, Let's Rock

National reaction to the Arizona anti-illegal immigration law by open borders advocates is getting out of hand.  Several communities and organizations have called for boycotts – economic blackmail – hoping to force Arizona to repeal the law.

Leading the list of usual suspects are La Raza, NAACP, the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), Louis Farrakhan, and poverty pimp Al Sharpton.  Now, the Los Angeles City Council has jumped in the same cesspool as the cities of West Hollywood, San Francisco, Oakland, CA and Boston with their vote to bar Los Angeles from doing business with Arizona.

The left-leaning old media was all atwitter over the Council's action, initially touting a potential $52 million hit to Arizona's economy, as indicated by a CBS report:
The proposal could affect investments and contracts worth as much as $52 million, including contracts for airport, harbor and trucking services, according to a report from the city's chief legislative analyst.
However, any actual impact would be substantially less according to Councilwoman Janice Hahn.
Hahn, who co-authored the resolution, said it would be impractical to cancel most of those deals and only about $7 million to $8 million in city contracts probably would be affected.
"US Airways is based in Arizona and they certainly fly in and out (of Los Angeles)" and it would hardly be feasible to end those flights, Hahn said before the council vote.
“Hardly feasible” is new speak for against Federal law. Nice dodge on Hahn's part, but the kicker is what other areas this misguided resolution will not force to participate in the boycott.
Hahn said the Los Angeles boycott also won't affect the city's Department of Water and Power, which has wind farm and nuclear energy contracts in Arizona.
That's because the largest nuclear power plant in the free world, Palo Verde, sits just 45 miles west of Phoenix, and supplies a large portion of the electricity keeping those in the dark about immigration from actually living in the dark.  Southern California also draws large amounts of water from Arizona's share of the Colorado River.  If Los Angeles truly wants to make a statement, let them unplug their giant extension cord from Palo Verde and pull their sippy straw out of the Colorado River.

I would like to remind them the Arizona Corporation Commission sets rates and tariffs on resources such as water and power produced in Arizona.  It wouldn't take much of a hike to recoup that $7 million to $8 million lost to Los Angeles petulance from the California citizens dependent on those resources.

It's time for Arizona and its citizens to drop the gloves with those communities and organizations pushing for a boycott in favor of illegal activity.   To the Los Angeles City Council - Jump if you feel froggy.

Dennis P. O'Neil

April 20, 2010

Copernicus Cried

“Oh my God!”
“Oh my God!”
“Oh my God!”
My Grandson's reaction as he hunched over to peer through the eyepiece took me by complete surprise, although I understood his outburst of wonderment.  He was seeing another world for the very first time.  The small telescope was just barely adequate to the task, but the pencil-eraser sized image of a bright ball transected by bright bands was unmistakable.  As he marveled at the sight of Saturn and its rings, I recalled my own childhood fascination with the planets in our solar system.
I was only a year younger than my grandson is now when Mercury-Atlas 6, dubbed Friendship 7, carried John Glenn aloft as the first American to orbit the earth.  Alan Shepard and Gus Grissom had already made sub-orbital flights on Mercury-Redstone craft, but Glenn's was the first manned flight of the fragile Mercury spacecraft thrown into the void atop the mighty Atlas booster.  America was now truly a space-faring nation.
A scant eight years later, Neil Armstrong and Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin would place mankind's first footprints on an extra-terrestrial body as the human race graduated to space exploration.  The planets, indeed the entire galaxy, seemed to be in our grasp.  Thoughts of space travel charged young imaginations world wide. I too even envisioned a time when I might tread upon another world.
Four decades have past since that time.  Mankind became complacent, settling instead for traveling to space stations relegated to low earth orbit.  It was as if Meriwether Lewis and William Clark had decided to camp out in the town square instead of exploring a continent.  Then a President decided that humans should again strive for the stars, and ordered NASA to shake off the dust and start making viable plans for sending explorers to our nearest solar neighbor, Mars.  There was a renewed excitement and interest in manned space travel.  Humans were finally going to take up the challenge laid before them when Nicolaus Copernicus formulated his heliocentric cosmology theory.
Copernicus brought forth the notion that Earth was not the center of the universe, but only one of many celestial bodies circling the Sun.  Copernicus erroneously thought the Sun as the central body, but his observations were limited by the available technology.  Still, he showed there was much more to the universe than this simple rock inhabited by man, and man has dreamed of reaching those far off places ever since.
Now we have a new President who doesn't believe that mankind should slip the surly bonds of Earth, at least not our Nation.  He has ordered a cessation of that ambitious Mars project, and relegated the once premiere leader in space exploration to the roll of beggar, thumb out, hoping to hitch a ride to that town square campground.  His decree is an affront to those who worked so diligently to place those first explorers on the moon.  Even more so, it sullies the memories of Gus Grissom, Edward White, Roger Chaffee, Greg Jarvis, Christa McAuliffe, Ronald McNair, Ellison Onizuka, Judith Resnik, Michael Smith, Dick Scobee, Rick Husband, William McCool, Michael Anderson, David Brown, Kalpana Chawla, Laurel Clark, and Ilan Ramon.

Dennis P. O'Neil

March 17, 2010

Citzen Takes on Governator Over Gun Law

Second Amendment supporters should take note of a lawsuit filed in the Central California United States District Court.   Brian Baker is suing Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and the State of California to throw out the recently enacted California Assembly Bill 962

The law requires that all ammunition sales be made "... in a face-to-face transaction with the deliverer or transferor being provided bona fide evidence of identity from the purchaser or other transferee" and further requires the purchaser to provide a right thumbprint at the time of sale.

Baker's suit alleges these requirements are a de facto ban on internet and out of state purchases of handgun ammunition in violation of Commerce Clause of the Constitution and constitute "... an unwarranted and illegal restraint of trade."

Baker's suit also takes issue with the law's section which he alleges would prohibit internet or out of state purchases of replacements for some handgun parts and accessories by redefining ammunition:
"For purposes of this section, 'ammunition' shall include, but not be limited to, any bullet, cartridge, magazine, clip, speed loader, autoloader, or projectile capable of being fired from a firearm with deadly consequences. 'Ammunition' does not include blanks."
As we follow the progress of Baker's suit, the question looms large: Why was it necessary for Baker, a private citizen, to step forward and file suit to protect the rights of California's law-abiding gun owners?  Where are the major gun rights organizations?

The Case number assigned by the Clerk of the United States District Court, Central District of California is CV10 1843 DMG (JEMk).  As of this posting, it has not made it onto the Court website for easy access.  However, Baker posted his filing for reading on his blog.  

Major H/T to TownHall blogger, BrianR, for taking on what the big boys won't.

Dennis P. O'Neil

March 13, 2010

Through the Eyes of an Urban Camper

I try to live by the motto: “Refuse to have a bad day. Every day is a good day – some are just better than others.”  Lately however, each day is a struggle, not for survival, but for sanity in a world gone awry.  Perhaps most disheartening of all is knowing that my story is not unique in today's economy.  Maybe it would be better to start at the beginning.  After all, that is what beginnings are for.

Life was pretty good until that fateful day one year ago when the notice appeared, taped to the front door.  The house I had been leasing for over five years was going into a bank auction.  I had 10 days to clear the premises.  The absentee owner, after pulling out all equity in a booming housing market, had walked away from his mortgage payments when the market tanked. (A later check of public records showed he had taken out $60K in equity loans during the previous year. The house eventually sold for $80K less than he owed.)

Anyway, first came the mad scramble to move a three-bedroom house into a 10' X 15' storage facility.  Since that months rent payment had already been sent and cashed,  I didn't have funds enough for new accommodations until my next paycheck.  The dogs and I took to spending days at parks and sleeping in the truck overnight.  Two weeks passed before we found a new place.  Things were starting to look up again.  Then recession took firm grip on the throat of our nation.

Businesses faltered or just closed up.  Owners, faced with no work available for their employees, made tough choices.  My employer chose to keep as many on the rolls as possible, but cut schedules across the board to avoid mass layoffs.  Many complained, but I pointed out that they still had jobs, even if only part time.  Some threatened to quit and look for other work.  I wished them well and thanked them for their willingness to help by freeing up hours for the rest of us.  The short paychecks and mounting bills finally took their toll at the end of August.  The dogs and I were back out on the street.

Now, I was not new to this living on the street.  I went through a similar three-month exercise in the fall of 1996.  I learned the gas stations with restrooms in which to bathe, and the safer streets where I could overnight until the parks reopened in the morning.  I also learned which motels and hotels had guest laundries where I could wash and dry clothes, usually at less cost than commercial laundromats, as part of payday splurges for one night in a real bed and a long hot shower.

Everything was geared toward saving enough for more substantial shelter.  Even meal expenses were kept to a minimum, except for my animals who always got top drawer grub as reward for their loyalty.  The main thing I learned was attitude.  Instead of bemoaning my predicament, I chose to view it in the best light possible.  I still had a job, and my animals for companionship.  I refused to accept the brand of “homeless”, adopting the less pejorative self-description of “urban camper” instead.  I saw every day as a new adventure instead of another challenge. 

So it would be this time, or so I thought.  What I wasn't prepared for was the scope, depth, or duration of this economic downturn.  I have noticed distressing changes as unemployment continues to rise.

The faces have changed.  More and more out of work young men and women, even whole families, show up at the parks each day, seeking refuge from their daily plight.  Gone are the retirees who used to walk along lagoon pathways, play chess in the shade, or sit on benches feeding the birds. 

The retirees are now manning counters at fast food restaurants.  Life savings devastated, they wear name tags and paper hats for minimum wage in an effort to keep body and soul together.  Meanwhile a new generation populates their old haunts as homelessness continues to rise.

The mood has changed.  Confusion and agitation over finding themselves, many for the first time in their lives, without steady work and a nice house, have given way to anger and resignation.  Desperate fathers leave their wives and preschool children to wait in parks while they engage in futile searches for a job, any job, that might pay for the next family meal. 

Sometimes there is open resentment toward office workers who come to the parks during their lunches.  The newly dispossessed often view them as interlopers.  They react as if the office workers were out gawking at carnival freak shows of downtrodden.  Hopelessness is almost palpable as despair continues to rise.

Until this point, only a few select family and friends were aware of my situation.  So, why am I telling this story now?  Because it is important for others to be aware of the anger, resentment, and hostility brewing out of sight to polite society.  It is important for local, state, and national leaders to be aware of what their out-of-control deficit spending is doing to ordinary Americans. 

The people I see are not society's dregs.  They are, or at least were, the backbone of an energetic economy.  They are, or at least were, the guardians of a free society's principles.  They can be again, if given the chance.  I cannot predict an uprising or anarchy among these normally good people.  However, the seeds are sown.  Only time will tell if they are allowed to take root.

Dennis P. O'Neil

March 12, 2010

Deja Vu All Over Again

My Irish Catholic parents were understandably proud and excited about the election.  My father counseled me to listen to the handsome, charismatic young man elected to the highest office of our land.  I did listen, and was deeply move by his words:

Ask not what your country can do for you – Ask what you can do for your country.”
I took those words to heart.  Those words, to my parents' surprise and dismay, formed the original core of a conservative belief.  Imagine that, the words of a liberal Democrat senator inspiring the political journey of a conservative.  Yet, I understood those words as a simple directive: “Be self-reliant.”
Today, another young, handsome, charismatic, liberal Democrat senator prepares to become the President of the United States.  This has many conservatives searching for the next conservative leader – another Reagan – someone to deliver their message.  Others fret about what that message should be.
I offer no suggestions about who should carry the conservative message.  However, the message is ready, and has been for a very long time.  There was another orator from that same past era who already delivered the core message:
“Now, my fellow Americans, the tide has been running against freedom. Our people have followed false prophets. We must, and we shall, return to proven ways-- not because they are old, but because they are true.
“We must, and we shall, set the tide running again in the cause of freedom. And this party, with its every action, every word, every breath, and every heartbeat, has but a single resolve, and that is freedom.
“Freedom made orderly for this nation by our constitutional government. Freedom under a government limited by laws of nature and of nature's God. Freedom balanced so that liberty lacking order will not become the slavery of the prison cell; balanced so that liberty lacking order will not become the license of the mob and of the jungle.
“Now, we Americans understand freedom; we have earned it, we have lived for it, and we have died for it. This nation and its people are freedom's models in a searching world. We can be freedom's missionaries in a doubting world.”
That past dilemma described may seem eerily familiar in light of today's political developments.  Many have forgotten those words, still more have never heard them.  Most would be hard pressed to identify the speaker.  Yet, there is one enduring phrase from that same speech nearly everyone will recognize.  The pointed admonition that still applies:
“I would remind you that extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice. And let me remind you also that moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue.”  
There you have it.  The message and marching orders.  Stand ready for a long, hard battle to reclaim our country.

Dennis P. O'Neil

King's Ex! Lessons From the Park

The park area was already alive with activity on this warm July morning.  Arizona's fabled summer sun had yet to reach its skin-melting apex as the dogs and I sought refuge in cool shade at the base a large eucalyptus.  The grandchildren and their new friend flew a kite under the watchful eyes of Grandma and the little girl's mother.  I settled back to enjoy watching the world go by.

The temperature was a still bearable 90 degrees before beginning its inexorable climb into double digits.  Soon, the park would nearly empty during the midday heat, only to refill in late afternoon for an evening of barbecues, patriotic music and fireworks.  For now though, the sights and sounds of children at play filled this green oasis in a desert city.

Not far away, little girls played jacks on a sidewalk meticulously swept of any foreign particle which might affect the bounce of the ball.  Well away from the dainty young ladies, some boys chose to set up shop in a less pristine enclave devoid of concrete or grass.  Playing marbles “for keeps” from a circle scribed in the powdered dirt, they whooped and hollered as a player's favorite aggie fell victim to a well knuckled shot.

A paper bag and bits of cardboard formed the diamond for a pickup softball game.  The teams had only six players to each side. One of the batting team's players acted as catcher – actually, more as retriever of pitches until a ball was hit, then the pitcher became the person covering home plate.  There was no umpire, so there were no walks.  A batter either got a hit or struck out swinging.  Having only two outfielders caused another defensive problem.  Any ball hit past the outfield players became an almost automatic home run as an outfielder chased it down.  No ground rule double in this contest.

The rolling scrum moving toward my lair drew my attention.  A solitary youth bolted from the pack carrying what looked to be a volleyball.  The others quickly turned in pursuit until he threw to ball up and back over his head.  The former runaway then rejoined the group in chasing down the bouncing orb.  The cycle repeated several times as each person grabbing the ball ran as if being chased by the Devil himself, tossing away the ball just before being tackled.  Here was a game I recognized from my own preteen years, the outcome was inevitable.

From my distance I couldn't determine if it was bravado or terror as one runner, refusing to relinquish his prize, tried to run through the closing crowd.  He was quickly enveloped to a chorus of “Dog pile on the rabbit!”  The boys fell back in laughter and cheers as they unwound until the “rabbit” was no longer buried under a writhing stack of humanity.  The hapless “rabbit” stood to brush off dirt and bits of grass, then performed an end-zone dance and spike worthy of Neon Dion.  After a few minutes of rest, one daring soul snatched the ball, and the game continued.

Everywhere I looked, children engaged in the type of politically incorrect endeavors now prohibited in most schoolyards.  Little girls continually raising their own measure of success at jacks, with each pass more difficult than the last.  Little boys risking their own capital in that dirt circle for the opportunity to increase their holdings, putting their marbles where their mouths were, so to speak.  Batters swinging to succeed or fail on their own, with no free passes.  Outfielders hustling to make that put-out throw without benefit of a fence safety net or regulations designed to hobble their competition.

The roughhouse bunch, again coming my way, demonstrated a concept required for prevailing in life's conflicts.  There were times when people must turn and face their adversity.  The runner this time was quick and nimble, executing sharp turns to maintain his advantage on the pursuers.  A shoe came off during one of these maneuvers and he spun toward them with index fingers crossed.  “King's ex!”  The others obliged while he retrieved the wayward footwear and tied it firmly in place.  Once he was ready, they buried him.  Yes, even the budding warriors, engaged in mock combat, still had respect, chivalry, and a sense of fair play.

I was surrounded by Americana on our nation's birthday and couldn't help but think, “Children are such wonderful teachers.  Why can't we learn from them?”

Dennis P. O'Neil

Will Article III Remain Relevant?

Article III of the United States Constitution addresses the Judicial Branch of our form of government, defining the scope of, and limits to, the powers reserved for the Judiciary. For years we have heard about “activist judges legislating from the bench” as the left dragged their every losing cause before the courts, seeking to impose by judicial fiat what they could not accomplish through the ballot. Now that the left has seized power of the remaining branches of government, the courts may be the only remaining obstacle in their march toward socialist domination. Nothing makes this more clear than the events surrounding bonuses paid by companies covered in the “Wall Street” bailout.

The Obama administration and Congress are determined to push through “clawback” legislation against AIG. The legislation is targeted at those current and former employees of AIG who received bonus payments which Obama and Congress find offensive. The legislation seems to be in direct violation of the Article I Section 9 paragraph 3 which provides that: “No Bill of Attainder or ex post facto Law will be passed.”

“These clauses of the Constitution are not of the broad, general nature of the Due Process Clause, but refer to rather precise legal terms which had a meaning under English law at the time the Constitution was adopted. A bill of attainder was a legislative act that singled out one or more persons and imposed punishment on them, without benefit of trial. Such actions were regarded as odious by the framers of the Constitution because it was the traditional role of a court, judging an individual case, to impose punishment.” William H. Rehnquist, The Supreme Court, page 166.

Congress is trying to slip past that bill of attainder provision by broadening the language to encompass bonuses paid by any company receiving bailout funds. They contest that by not specifically naming AIG, the legislation does not target a limited populace and will pass Constitutional muster, a ploy that might just work. However, even the dystopia on Capitol Hill is constrained by the protections of the Fourteenth Amendment, Section 1:

All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside. No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”

While the clear intent the legislation is punishment, Congress had to find a way around all those pesky “due process” restrictions. So they turned to that old Democrat standby, the tax code. This is not a new tactic. Their desire to redistribute wealth goes back to the post Civil War era with the federal income tax law of 1894. This first attempt at soaking the rich was struck down by the 1895 U.S. Supreme Court decision that ruled a two percent federal flat tax on incomes over $4,000 unconstitutional (Pollock v. Farmer's Loan & Trust Co., 157 U.S. 429, 15 S. Ct. 673, 39 L. Ed. 759). The Court relied on Article I Section 9 paragraph 4 of the original Constitution which stated:
“No capitation, or other direct, tax shall be laid, unless in proportion to the census or enumeration herein before directed to be taken.”

Stung by that setback, the Democratic party actually made passage of an amendment a plank in their platform for the 1896 election cycle. They succeeded in gaining passage in 1909, aided by conservatives who were caught up in an early form of “bi-partisanship”and mistakenly believed the amendment would fail in the States. In 1913, the Sixteenth Amendment was ratified giving Congress the power to lay direct taxes upon individuals. It is within the framework this creature of the Democratic party that Congress now seeks its revenge.

Yet, there are still those darned contracts which allow bonuses in the first place. There are three recognized ways to break an existing contract – declare bankruptcy, declare the other party breached the confines of the contract, or declare the contract was legally flawed from the outset. Each of these requires adjudication in a court of law. The beast in DC is not content. Now, the administration is moving for legislation to force not only AIG, but other companies, including those not taking any bailout money, to change those contracts. The in terrorem effect of these proposals being that companies will “voluntarily” re-write contracts or suffer further government intrusion on their operations.

The Obama administration and Congress are embarking on an effort to usurp the Judicial Branch by legislatively voiding legal contracts, in order to make companies comply with their ideas about how a free market should work. To the Judiciary, they are saying, “Your services are no longer required.”

Dennis P. O'Neil

Originally posted at TownHall.com on March 22, 2009

March 11, 2010

Deep Beats a Warrior's Heart

I just finished reading What the Media Missed posted by Rob Banerjee. It describes a US Marine encounter with terrorist insurgents in Shewan, Afghanistan on Thanksgiving Day. I found one statement in the enclosed article particularly moving, the significance of which, most who have not seen combat will fail to grasp:

“I wasn’t even aware of a lot of the rounds impacting near my position, because I was concentrating so hard on making sure my rounds were on target.”

There are sure to be those who question the actions of this outstanding young Marine – even going so far as to brand him some type of insensitive killing machine. They will be in error. Which bring me to the subject of this post.

I was once confronted in a newsgroup by an avid gun control proponent who raised the example of retired Marine, John Lovell, as reason to keep guns out of the hands of private citizens. Mr. Lovell foiled an armed robbery attempt, killing one perpetrator, and seriously wounding his partner in crime. 

The criminal's families were outraged, branding Lovell a vigilante. Family Of Subway Robbery Suspect Says Customer Shouldn't Have Pulled Trigger There were some in group who sided with the families. One poster even suggested that former combat troops be segregated for the “safety of society in general.”
The following was my reply:

Lost is the impact of that encounter on John Lovell. The article states Lovell is a retired Marine. Given his age of 71, I am guessing he started his military service in the mid to late 1950s. That would place him in uniform, and in harm's way, during U.S. Military activities in Indo-China and Southeast Asia. John Lovell is a warrior.
Warriors experience things that would make most polite society wretch in revulsion. Once separated, they long to distance themselves from those horrors, attempting to live their lives as unobtrusively as possible. They seldom discuss their military days except in general, usually amusing, anecdotes unrelated to their actual time in combat. If they do share, it is done almost exclusively one-to-one with a fellow warrior. This most often happens in some quiet corner of the VFW, where their terrible secret is safe from an unsuspecting civilian populace.
What is this burden they bear? What do they strive to protect? Fear. That most primal emotion roils just below the surface. This is not a normal everyday fear, such as fear of the dark, or fear of heights. They fear themselves. They know what they are capable of doing – what they can become. They struggle to subdue this anima lest that demon break free to cry, “Havoc!” Most warriors, in a moment of candor, will admit to taking a quiet, personal pledge upon removing their uniforms that final time: “I will never take another human life.”
Despite the protestations of the would-be robbers' families, John Lovell is no vigilante. Rather, he is a man whose training and instinct surfaced to save his life and that of the innocent employee. The actions of Donicio Arrindell and Fredrick Gadson forced Lovell to let slip his dogs of war.
Did Arrindell and Gadson get what they deserved?
Perhaps not by civilian standards where robbery is a less than capital crime. However, they placed Lovell in a situation with no alternative but to break that silent warrior's vow. For that unforgivable offense, the exacted price can be very steep.

I urge all to contemplate the finest and bravest our country has to offer. Honor the sacrifices they willingly make for our security. Let them live in a peace they have earned.

A Bright Shiny Nickel

My grandchildren first spotted the old guitar in a closet during one of their weekend stays. Now, I hadn't touched the long forgotten instrument in years, but they insisted I play for them. So I played, poorly, very poorly, yet that mattered little to them as we had fun singing nursery songs. Ever since, that relic has become a bond between us.

They are now learning to play that guitar themselves. My granddaughter was first to ask this weekend, so she gained temporary custody for an hour. I watched as she practiced, tiny fingers working to master Lemon Tree. Her older brother came to the study, trying to convince her to relinquish the guitar so he could play.

I should explain a bit about my grandson. He is a master negotiator for an eight-year old. The quintessential used car salesman in short pants. He perfected his craft taking advantage of his younger sibling. Today, he cajoled, pleaded, bargained – all to no avail. She was resolute about using her full hour. She had learned about some of his deals sounding too good to be true.

Three years ago, the children and I walked to the corner market for ice cream on a warm June morning. The little one decided to save her fudge bar and put it in the freezer. The boy wolfed his down on the way home. That afternoon, he asked her if he could have her treat. She told him, "No." I thought the matter was closed until I heard water running in the bathroom.

As any parent can attest, five-year-old boys are not known for spontaneous cleanup. I peered around the corner and saw he was busily washing and polishing a grubby coin. Something was afoot. He went back to his sister and conned her into trading her ice cream for a bright shiny nickel. Only later did she realize that nickel wouldn't buy another ice cream.

I tell this story because of two men in recent headlines. The parallels between these two men cannot be ignored. Both men are master negotiators whose charm and smooth talk gained them great followings. Each made promises involving distributing billions of dollars back to those who would invest with him. Both offered plans that are fatally flawed and cannot be sustained without taking money from some in order to pay others, constantly repeating the process while doling out small amounts to maintain an illusion. Think of it as a giant game of monetary whack-a-mole.

The similarities between plans offered by Bernard L. Madoff and Barack H. Obama are striking. It is too late for those who lost fortunes to Madoff's shenanigans. There is still time for Americans to tell Obama, “No.”

Unless of course, Americans would rather have a bright shiny nickel.