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3/30 lilies broke ground
4/1 roses starting new growth
At a time when Senate Democrats, such as Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon are asking the White House for an outline of the legal and practical rules that underpin the U.S. government’s targeted killing of American citizens suspected of working with al-Qaida, it is time for the nation as a whole to look much more closely at what is going on.
Wyden’s letter to the White House asked some relatively back questions: “How much evidence does the President need to determine that a particular American can be lawfully killed?” “Does the President have to provide individual Americans with the opportunity to surrender before killing them?” And does the White House believe it is authorized to order the extra-judicial killing of U.S. citizens here in the U.S.?
So far the administration has not responded. http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2013/01/wyden-brennan/
But the questions reported coming from Wyden really only scratch the surface of here.
Keep in mind that Obama is putting folks on the “Kill List” based on the authority he claims Congress gave the president September 14, 2001, with that authority allowing the president “to use all necessary and appropriate force against those nations, organizations, or persons he determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored such organizations or persons, in order to prevent any future acts of international terrorism against the United States by such nations, organizations or persons.”
That is the exact, and complete, language of the authorization for the use of force. Nothing else in the resolution allows the use of force.
Now, since we are talking about KILLING PEOPLE here, and that is fairly serious stuff, and since those crazy bastards who ratified the Constitution and the Bill of Rights included some ambiguous language about how “No person shall be… deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law,” (And isn’t it really obvious that “no person” has to really mean “no citizen who we like at the moment” and not some foolishness like “no person”? I mean, isn’t that really obvious?) let’s actually parse the language of that 2001 resolution for the authorization for the use of force.
It first authorizes the use of “all necessary and appropriate force” (and presumably that is unlimited and deadly force, though that is not expressly addressed, and we will set to the side the issue of whether it is “appropriate” or “necessary” to order the killing of someone who could have been captured) “against those nations, organizations, or persons he determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001.”
So just looking at that, while the authorization purports to allow the president to make the call based on his unreviewed and unreviewable determination as to whether someone “planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001,” that language would rather clearly NOT authorize the use of force against those individuals who were NOT involved in the planning, authorizing, committing or aiding of the 9/11 attacks — in other words, aid or support AFTER THE FACT to the folks who were involved, or to the the cause or organization involved, would NOT trigger the authorization for the use of force in that first clause.
So what about the second clause, who does it purportedly let the president kill? Well, it authorizes him to use force against “those nations, organizations, or persons he determines… harbored such organizations or persons,” but then it further includes the limitation that the use of force against those who “harbored” those responsible be “in order to prevent any future acts of international terrorism against the United States by such nations, organizations or persons.”
So in summary he can order the murder of those he decides were responsible, or those who he determines HARBORED those responsible but for those who harbored it is only when that use of force is “to prevent any future acts of international terrorism against the United States by such nations, organizations or persons.” (And all of this ignores the question of the constitutionality of such a broad grant of power to a president to kill people without any review or any way for anyone to determine whether the targets ordered killed comply with the purported grant of power.)
That means that even under that extremely broad authorization for the use of force, he can not order the execution of those who were neither involved in the 9/11 attacks NOR ever harbored those who did so, even if it is believed that the folks he wants to target will in the future assist the group or individuals responsible attack again.
This is why Bush had to go back to Congress to seek separate authorization for the use of force in Iraq. Despite the claims from the left that the Bush administration tried to justify the invasion based on a contentions Iraq had close ties to Al Queda and had somehow been involved, if Bush had in fact made that determination, he never would have needed to go back to Congress.
So 12 years after the 9/11 attacks, with the president ordering ever growing numbers of drone strikes on individuals, we need to ask, at what point does that authorization end? How tenuous can the connections be for us to turn a blind eye to the president ordering extra-judicial, non-reviewable murders? And without any review of those decisions, how will we ever know how tenuous the connections are, or are even thought to be? How will we ever know how often they are wrong? Does the authorization for the use of force and the president’s belief it allows him to use kill lists also insulate him from all liability (civil and criminal) for those murders he orders when he was wrong? Or when he was right in whether someone fit the requirements, but those carrying out the kill order made a mistake and killed the wrong person or people? Or when he was right but ordered the use of force under such circumstances that the risk of injury to others, and the likelihood of success in getting the target was not necessary (because the target could have been easily captured) or appropriate (because the risk of harm to others was outrageously high (such as perhaps poisoning the water supply of an entire city to kill one individual known to be there, even though the city was not harboring him and was inhabited by tens of thousands of innocent and uninvolved people).
When will the madness of our grant of that use of force stop?
Will it stop when a president begins the wholesale slaughter of U.S. citizens on American soil? Or will that even be acceptable so long as whoever is then is office claims it is to “prevent any future acts of international terrorism against the United States“?
Without the opportunity to review his decisions, we will never know.
And in THIS environment we have the president calling for new, tighter regulations on firearms…. and much of the nation seemingly absolutely eager for them.
We have many times heard that the argument over secession or over nullification is strictly a racist reaction to a president seen as black, and that no one ever raised the issue before Obama took office.
As with many of the other defenses of Obama contending his critics are all racist, such claims are wrong (though admittedly ObamaCare has more people looking at secession and nullification than it was discussed previously). To point this out, I offer one of my favorite columnists, Walter Williams, who has been writing about it for at least the last 10 years, and Williams himself appears to have relied rather heavily on the 2002 book written by Loyola University (MD) professor of economics, Thomas DiLorenzo’s The Real Lincoln. (A full list of Williams’ columns from the last 18 years http://econfaculty.gmu.edu/wew/articles.html)
> BY WALTER E. WILLIAMS WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 28, 2012
> Parting Company
> For decades, it has been obvious that there are irreconcilable differences between Americans who want to control the lives of others and those who wish to be left alone. Which is the more peaceful solution: Americans using the brute force of government to beat liberty-minded people into submission or simply parting company? In a marriage, where vows are ignored and broken, divorce is the most peaceful solution. Similarly, our constitutional and human rights have been increasingly violated by a government instituted to protect them. Americans who support constitutional abrogation have no intention of mending their ways.
> Since Barack Obama’s re-election, hundreds of thousands of petitions for secession have reached the White House. Some people have argued that secession is unconstitutional, but there’s absolutely nothing in the Constitution that prohibits it. What stops secession is the prospect of brute force by a mighty federal government, as witnessed by the costly War of 1861. Let’s look at the secession issue.
> At the 1787 constitutional convention, a proposal was made to allow the federal government to suppress a seceding state. James Madison, the acknowledged father of our Constitution, rejected it, saying: “A Union of the States containing such an ingredient seemed to provide for its own destruction. The use of force against a State would look more like a declaration of war than an infliction of punishment and would probably be considered by the party attacked as a dissolution of all previous compacts by which it might be bound.”
> On March 2, 1861, after seven states had seceded and two days before Abraham Lincoln’s inauguration, Sen. James R. Doolittle of Wisconsin proposed a constitutional amendment that said, “No State or any part thereof, heretofore admitted or hereafter admitted into the Union, shall have the power to withdraw from the jurisdiction of the United States.”
> Several months earlier, Reps. Daniel E. Sickles of New York, Thomas B. Florence of Pennsylvania and Otis S. Ferry of Connecticut proposed a constitutional amendment to prohibit secession. Here’s my no-brainer question: Would there have been any point to offering these amendments if secession were already unconstitutional?
> On the eve of the War of 1861, even unionist politicians saw secession as a right of states. Rep. Jacob M. Kunkel of Maryland said, “Any attempt to preserve the Union between the States of this Confederacy by force would be impractical, and destructive of republican liberty.”
> The Northern Democratic and Republican parties favored allowing the South to secede in peace. Just about every major Northern newspaper editorialized in favor of the South’s right to secede. New York Tribune (Feb. 5, 1860): “If tyranny and despotism justified the Revolution of 1776, then we do not see why it would not justify the secession of Five Millions of Southrons from the Federal Union in 1861.” Detroit Free Press (Feb. 19, 1861): “An attempt to subjugate the seceded States, even if successful, could produce nothing but evil — evil unmitigated in character and appalling in content.” The New York Times (March 21, 1861): “There is growing sentiment throughout the North in favor of letting the Gulf States go.”
> There’s more evidence seen at the time our Constitution was ratified. The ratification documents of Virginia, New York and Rhode Island explicitly said that they held the right to resume powers delegated, should the federal government become abusive of those powers. The Constitution would have never been ratified if states thought that they could not maintain their sovereignty.
> The War of 1861 settled the issue of secession through brute force that cost 600,000 American lives. Americans celebrate Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, but H.L. Mencken correctly evaluated the speech, “It is poetry, not logic; beauty, not sense.” Lincoln said that the soldiers sacrificed their lives “to the cause of self-determination — that government of the people, by the people, for the people should not perish from the earth.” Mencken says: “It is difficult to imagine anything more untrue. The Union soldiers in the battle actually fought against self-determination; it was the Confederates who fought for the right of people to govern themselves.”
> Walter E. Williams is a professor of economics at George Mason University.
> States have historical right to secede
> By WALTER WILLIAMS
> Saturday, April 25, 2009 at 8:09 am Updated: 5:35 pm, Wed Jan 9, 2013.
> Texas Gov. Rick Perry rattled cages when he suggested that Texans might at some point become so disgusted with Washington’s gross violation of the U.S. Constitution that they would want to secede from the union. Political hustlers, their media allies and others, who have little understanding, are calling his remarks treasonous. Let’s look at it.
> When New York delegates met on July 26, 1788, their ratification document read, “That the Powers of Government may be resumed by the People, whensoever it shall become necessary to their Happiness; that every Power, Jurisdiction and right which is not by the said Constitution clearly delegated to the Congress of the United States, or the departments of the government thereof, remains to the People of the several States, or to their respectiveState Governments to whom they may have granted the same.”
> On May 29, 1790, the Rhode Island delegates made a similar claim in their ratification document. “That the powers of government may be resumed by the people, whensoever it shall become necessary to their happiness: That the rights of the States respectively to nominate and appoint all State Officers, and every other power, jurisdiction and right, which is not by the said constitution clearly delegated to the Congress of the United States or to the departments of government thereof, remain to the people of the several states, or their respective State Governments to whom they may have granted the same.”
> On June 26, 1788, Virginia’s elected delegates met to ratify the Constitution. In their ratification document, they said, “The People of Virginia declare and make known that the powers granted under the Constitution being derived from the People of the United States may be resumed by them whensoever the same shall be perverted to their injury or oppression and that every power not granted thereby remains with them and at their will.”
> As demonstrated by the ratification documents of New York, Rhode Island and Virginia, they made it explicit that if the federal government perverted the delegated rights, they had the right to resume those rights. In fact, when the Union was being formed, where the states created the federal government, every state thought they had a right to secede, otherwise there would not have been a Union.
> Perry is right when he says that there is no reason for Texas to secede. There are indeed intermediate actions short of secession that states can take. Thomas Jefferson said, “Whensoever the General Government assumes undelegated powers, its acts are unauthoritative, void, and of no force.” This suggests that one response to federal encroachment is for state governments to declare federal laws that have no constitutional authority null and void and refuse to enforce them.
> While the U.S. Constitution does not provide a specific provision for nullification, the case for nullification is found in the nature of compacts and agreements. Our Constitution represents a compact between the states and the federal government. As with any compact, one party does not have a monopoly over its interpretation, nor can one party change it without the consent of the other. Additionally, no one has a moral obligation to obey unconstitutional laws. This is not to say there is not a compelling case for obedience of unconstitutional laws. That compelling case is the brute force of the federal government to coerce obedience, possibly going as far as using its military might to lay waste to a disobedient state and its peoples.
> Finally, here’s my secession question for you.
> Some Americans accept and have respect for the Tenth Amendment, which reads, “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.”
> Other Americans, the majority I fear, say to hell with the Tenth Amendment limits on the federal government. Which is a more peaceful solution: one group of Americans seeking to impose their vision on others or simply parting company?
> Walter Williams is an economics professor at George Mason University in Fairfax, Va.
> © 2013 The Columbia Daily Tribune . All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
> Posted in Opinion, News on Saturday, April 25, 2009 8:09 am.
> Parting Company Is An Option
> written by Dr. Walter E. Williams
> Click here to Print |
> A fortnight ago, in “Let’s Do Some Detective Work”, I provided unassailable evidence that Congress had vastly exceeded powers delegated to it by our Constitution. In last week’s column, “Getting Back Our Liberties”, I argued that liberties lost are seldom regained but there was an outside chance to regain them if enough liberty-minded Americans were to pursue Free State Project’s proposal to set up New Hampshire as a free state. Free State Project (www.freestateproject.org) intends to get 20,000 or so Americans to move to New Hampshire and through a peaceful political process reduce burdensome taxation and regulation, reform state and local law, end federal mandates, and attempt to restore constitutional federalism as envisioned by the nation’s founders.
> Since there was only a remote possibility that we could successfully negotiate with Congress, the Courts and White House to obey the U.S. Constitution, I speculated that liberty could only realized by a unilateral declaration of independence – namely, part company. Quite a few readers criticized the idea, calling secession unconstitutional. Let’s look at it.
> On March 2, 1861, after seven states had seceded and two days before Abraham Lincoln’s inauguration, Senator James R. Doolittle (WI) proposed a constitutional amendment that said, “No State or any part thereof, heretofore admitted or hereafter admitted into the Union, shall have the power to withdraw from the jurisdiction of the United States.” Several months earlier Representatives Daniel E. Sickles (NY), Thomas B. Florence (PA) and Otis S. Ferry (CT) proposed a constitutional amendment to prohibit secession. Here’s my no-brainer question: would there have been any point to offering these amendments if secession were already unconstitutional? I’m guessing, no. But there’s more evidence. The ratification documents of Virginia, New York and Rhode Island explicitly said that they held the right to resume powers delegated should the federal government become abusive of those powers.
> There’s more evidence. At the 1787 constitutional convention a proposal was made to allow the federal government to suppress a seceding state. James Madison, the father of our constitution, rejected it saying, “A Union of the States containing such an ingredient seemed to provide for its own destruction. The use of force against a State would look more like a declaration of war, than an infliction of punishment and would probably be considered by the party attacked as a dissolution of all previous compacts by which it might be bound.”
> Professor Thomas DiLorenzo, in his revised The Real Lincoln, provides abundant evidence in the forms of quotations from our Founders and numerous newspaper accounts that prove that Americans always took the right of secession for granted. Plus, secession was not an idea that had its origins in the South. Infuriated by Thomas Jefferson’s Louisiana Purchase, in 1803, the first secessionist movement started in New York, Massachusetts, Connecticut and other New England states.
> Every single bit of evidence shows that states have a right to secede. There’s absolutely nothing in the Constitution that prohibits secession. What stops secession is the brute force of a mighty federal government, as witnessed by the costly War of 1861. Only one thing good came out of that war. It eliminated slavery. It’s had a devastating legacy for future generations of Americans in that since the issue of secession was brutally settled, the federal government is free to run roughshod over the safeguards envisioned by the Framers, namely the Ninth and Tenth Amendments. There’s little to suggest that the same brutality wouldn’t be encountered if secession were tried again, as one writer cautioned: if New Hampshire seceded, massive troops along with today’s deadly modern military equipment would be on its soil before lunch.
> Walter E. Williams
> December 24, 2003
> Secession or Nullification
> A couple of weeks ago, I reviewed Loyola University (MD) professor of economics, Thomas DiLorenzo’s The Real Lincoln, a book that presented abundant evidence that most of the Founders took the right of state secession for granted. Despite that evidence, some readers concluded differently. Let’s consider an alternative to secession in response to federal government encroachment on our liberties.
> Suppose Congress enacted the Federal Clean Thoughts Act (FCTA) and President Bush signed it. Under its provisions, before books and newspaper reports could be published, and before television and radio programs could be broadcasted, prior approval of their “fitness” would have to be obtained from the Federal Clean Thoughts Commission. Several parties bring a lawsuit before the U.S. Supreme Court charging FCTA is a violation of the First Amendment; however, the U.S. Court finds that under the Constitution’s “general welfare clause” the law is constitutional.
> What do Americans do? Do we accept the tyranny, pick up the sword or do we think about state secession again? I would hope that the response of my fellow Americans wouldn’t be: “Williams, the law is the law. The Court has said FCTA is constitutional and our job is to obey.” What’s clear in this scenario is that the legislative, executive and judicial branches of government are joined with one another to undermine our constitution and destroy our liberties.
> Do we allow the federal government to determine the scope of its own powers? Should we accept whatever Congress, the White House and the Courts say is constitutional? Not according to Alexander Hamilton, who in Federalist Paper 28 said, “The State governments will, in all possible contingencies, afford complete security against invasions of the public liberty by the national authority.”
> One response to federal encroachment is for state governments to declare federal laws that have no constitutional authority null and void and refuse to enforce them. While the U.S. Constitution provides no specific provision for nullification, the case for nullification is found in the nature of compacts and agreements. Our constitution represents a compact between the states and the federal government. As with any compact, one party does not have a monopoly over its interpretation nor can one party change it without the consent of the other. Additionally, no one has a moral obligation to obey unconstitutional laws. That’s not to say there isn’t a compelling case for obedience to unconstitutional laws: the brutal force of the federal government to coerce obedience.
> While Congress hasn’t yet enacted such a flagrant violation of the First Amendment, most of what Congress does, with U.S. Supreme Court and White House sanction, represents constitutional encroachments of varying degrees. You say, “Williams, explain that.” Article I, Section 8 of our Constitution enumerates (lists) those powers delegated to Congress. The Tenth Amendment says, “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.” That clearly says that powers not delegated to Congress by Article I, Section 8 belong to the people and the states.
> In violation of both the letter and spirit the federal government imposes unconstitutional and costly mandates covering the gambit from education and land usage to how much water can be used to flush toilets. I wonder when a governor and his state legislature will summon the courage to declare some of these federal laws null and void and refuse to enforce them. Of course, Washington might respond by not sending back money the citizens pay in federal taxes. Then the potential of ugliness arises because the state can establish a mechanism to withhold the money its citizens send to Washington.
> Walter E. Williams
> April 8, 2002
> Do States Have a Right of Secession?
> Walter Williams (2002.04.19 ) Politics
> Do states have a right of secession? That question was settled through the costly War of 1861. In his recently published book, “The Real Lincoln,” Thomas DiLorenzo marshals abundant unambiguous evidence that virtually every political leader of the time and earlier believed that states had a right of secession.
> Let’s look at a few quotations. Thomas Jefferson in his First Inaugural Address said, “If there be any among us who would wish to dissolve this Union, or to change its republican form, let them stand undisturbed as monuments of the safety with which error of opinion may be tolerated where reason is left to combat it.” Fifteen years later, after the New England Federalists attempted to secede, Jefferson said, “If any state in the Union will declare that it prefers separation … to a continuance in the union …. I have no hesitation in saying, ‘Let us separate.’”
> At Virginia’s ratification convention, the delegates said, “The powers granted under the Constitution being derived from the People of the United States may be resumed by them whensoever the same shall be perverted to their injury or oppression.” In Federalist Paper 39, James Madison, the father of the Constitution, cleared up what “the people” meant, saying the proposed Constitution would be subject to ratification by the people, “not as individuals composing one entire nation, but as composing the distinct and independent States to which they respectively belong.” In a word, states were sovereign; the federal government was a creation, an agent, a servant of the states.
> On the eve of the War of 1861, even unionist politicians saw secession as a right of states. Maryland Rep. Jacob M. Kunkel said, “Any attempt to preserve the Union between the States of this Confederacy by force would be impractical, and destructive of republican liberty.” The northern Democratic and Republican parties favored allowing the South to secede in peace.
> Just about every major Northern newspaper editorialized in favor of the South’s right to secede. New York Tribune (Feb. 5, 1860): “If tyranny and despotism justified the Revolution of 1776, then we do not see why it would not justify the secession of Five Millions of Southrons from the Federal Union in 1861.” Detroit Free Press (Feb. 19, 1861): “An attempt to subjugate the seceded States, even if successful could produce nothing but evil — evil unmitigated in character and appalling in content.” The New York Times (March 21, 1861): “There is growing sentiment throughout the North in favor of letting the Gulf States go.” DiLorenzo cites other editorials expressing identical sentiments.
> Americans celebrate Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, but H.L. Mencken correctly evaluated the speech, “It is poetry not logic; beauty, not sense.” Lincoln said that the soldiers sacrificed their lives “to the cause of self-determination — government of the people, by the people, for the people should not perish from the earth.” Mencken says: “It is difficult to imagine anything more untrue. The Union soldiers in the battle actually fought against self-determination; it was the Confederates who fought for the right of people to govern themselves.”
> In Federalist Paper 45, Madison guaranteed: “The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the federal government are few and defined. Those which are to remain in the State governments are numerous and indefinite.” The South seceded because of Washington’s encroachment on that vision. Today, it’s worse. Turn Madison’s vision on its head, and you have today’s America.
> DiLorenzo does a yeoman’s job in documenting Lincoln’s ruthlessness and hypocrisy, and how historians have covered it up. The Framers had a deathly fear of federal government abuse. They saw state sovereignty as a protection. That’s why they gave us the Ninth and 10th Amendments. They saw secession as the ultimate protection against Washington tyranny.
Peonie, first breaking soil 3/27
Cabbage — 9 transplanted in raised bed 3/27. Within first 3 days pests eat and destroy at least 3 plants, only 5 and a nub left. Using ground cayenne peppers now (nothing initially) to deter pests. All plants dead by 4/8.
Corn — 8 thirty foot rows planted 4/6 in amended soil (6 inches of horse manure topping soil 5 months before and plowed in week of planting). Four rows nearest pine Ferry Morse Peaches & Cream; next four Ferry Morse Silver Queen. Watered immediately after planing. No seed soaking before planting. Temp mid-40′s overnight to high 70′s. Light Osmocote dropped right on top of the two outside rows on both sides on 4/9. First seedlings appeared 4/16. By 6/18 several ears close to being ready to pick
Beans — 3 thirty foot rows of generic white half runners planted 4/7. Seeds dropped on soil, with very light covering spread afterward, and then watered. First seedling 4/15, several more 4/16. First big mess of beans picked 6/15
Onions — Roughly 100 planted in 7×7 bed behind corn 4/8. Full wheelbarrow horse manure spread over bed before planting.
Mustard Greens — Ferry Morse planted 4/8 east of onions. Broadcast. Not one germinated.
Basil — from seed trade. Bed east of mustard, broadcast about 4/17. By 6/15 bed very well established
Okra — 4 seven foot rows in back left corner planted 4/9 by simply digging a shallow trench and dropping in seed from pod from neighbor Luther’s 2011 crop. Osmocote on only first row. No watering. No covering of seeds. Watered 1st time 4/15. NONE germinated.
Roses — 4/4 worms spotted on leaves and bulbs. Yellow bloom, severely damaged by worm chew.
Garbanzo Beans — Three 10 foot rows. Seed from foodstock. 4/13. Soaked for two days before planting, beans sticky when planted. Replant about 2-3 weeks later. NO plants came up.
Potatoes — seed potatoes from feed store. 4/14. Three 15 foot rows. All eyes up. Covered 1 inch in 4 inch trench.
Lettuce — Black Seeded Simpson. Two ten foot rows just south of garbanzos. North row Ferry Morse 2011. South row American Seed 2009. 4/16
Beets — Mayo Seed 2009(?). Bed east of corn and south of mustard. 4/17 Broadcast. First several pulled 6/18, but even those picked mostly still small — only 3-4 large sized.
Radishes — generic from feed store in 2011, in SAME BED as beets. 4/17 Broadcast. NO GERMINATION.
Wild blackberries came in about 6/8
The following appeared originally in 1995 the libertarian publication The Freeman, with all rights reserved. It appears here without modification. An electronic version of what The Freeman published can be found at http://www.thefreemanonline.org/featured/the-economic-safety-net-a-parable/ And an actual image of the publication can be found at http://www.unz.org/Pub/Freeman-1995jul-00439
The Economic Safety Net (a parable)
July 1995 • Volume: 45 • Issue: 7 •
0nce upon a time, far, far away, people lived in a village on an island where life was difficult. But the people were good and worked hard and the village grew. The people called their island “Economy” and they were happy.
On one side of the island of Economy was a big lagoon. The lagoon had warm, crystal clear blue water and beautiful beaches, but the lagoon also was home to dangerous sharks. And the beach had quicksand that could swallow a person clean away, so fast they could not be pulled out before they vanished, never to be seen again. Because everyone on Economy knew of the sharks and the quicksand, almost no one went to the lagoon. They stayed away even though it was the most beautiful place on the island, where the sun was always bright and the birds gave their songs in wondrous and enchanting voices.
At first, life in the village of Economy was so hard almost no one ever had time to do anything but work, and no one thought about the lagoon. When they did think about the lagoon they always thought about how dangerous the sharks and quicksand were and stayed away. People saved and planted crops and made buildings where they could work better. Life became easier, but only a little.
By and by, the people in the village came to have enough food and shelter that they did not need to work unceasingly. Sometimes one of the foolish young men of Economy went to the lagoon, never to be seen again. Each time it happened, perhaps once or twice a year, people of Economy would be sad and would cry about their loss. Then they warned their young again of the dangers of the lagoon.
And it came to pass that the village had a great leader who promised to make life better and safer for all on the island. The great leader said Economy was too rich and too strong to let young men be lost to the lagoon. He had a plan to stop it from happening.
He would cover the quicksand holes with safety nets to catch anyone who strayed upon the quicksand. Parents would still tell their children to avoid the lagoon, of course, but the great leader’s nets would save the foolish who did not listen. He called his plan the Economic Safety Net.
The people applauded the plan. They said that it proved the great leader’s greatness. Everyone said it was good to save foolish young men who went to the lagoon.
In the following years, his Economic Safety Net caught many young men before they slipped into the quicksand. But each year, young men became less afraid of the lagoon because of the efforts to keep them safe. And each year more and more young men went to the lagoon. For the first time, after the Economic Safety Net, some young women also strayed from the village to enjoy the beauty of the lagoon.
As more young people visited the lagoon, more also slipped into uncovered quicksand. This happened even though the great leader forever increased areas of the beach covered by the Economic Safety Net.
The great leader said Economy could not let this happen. He promised to cover the whole beach with a new safety net to protect everyone, but he said parents should still remind children of the lagoon’s dangers.
The next year, after the great leader’s new Economic Safety Net was in place, ever more curious young men and women went to the lagoon. For the first time some parents also went there. All who saw the lagoon were amazed by its beauty and wanted to return.
But the new safety net was imperfect. As ever more people went to the lagoon, still greater numbers disappeared into the quicksand. Some people slipped right through the safety net, though the net still made the beach safer than ever before. Some people felt so safe they went to the very edge of the lagoon’s water. From the water’s edge, some found the crystal clear blue water so beautiful they felt they had to go in.
Once in the water, the sharks often ate the people.
The great leader could not tolerate shark attacks. He called on the village of Economy to protect everyone from quicksand and sharks.
The great leader said Economy could do more to protect those going to the lagoon. He said he would make the whole lagoon safe. The people needed to give him more money for stronger nets. The biggest and strongest men of the village also needed to stop their village work so they could be special lifeguards at the lagoon. The special lifeguards would fight off sharks that attack villagers going into the water.
Some villagers didn’t like the new plan. They said it cost too much. The biggest and strongest men of the village did not want to give up their work to be lifeguards. They said their families needed them on their farms and in their shops.
But the great leader said he was disappointed that people of Economy wanted to put a price tag on lives. He said that if his plan saved only one person it was worthwhile, and he convinced his people that no price was too great to save even one life.
The great leader moved on with his plan, assuring all villagers that together they could make the lagoon safer.
The biggest and strongest men of the village trained to fight the sharks, and Economy spent great sums to improve the Economic Safety Net.
Then the great leader said the improved safety net would save more villagers than ever, both from quicksand and sharks. He repeated his warning that people should avoid the lagoon. But those who did go would be safer than anyone had thought possible.
Now ever greater numbers of villagers than before went to the lagoon. The great leader’s Economic Safety Net saved many, but with the large crowds now at the lagoon ever more still slipped away into the quicksand. The lifeguards also saved countless villagers, but the sharks grew fat both from villagers swimming in the crystal blue water and from lifeguards.
By now hard times returned to the village. More and more shops and fields lay idle because those who worked in them did not come back from the lagoon. Other shops and fields lay idle as the biggest and strongest men who had been working in them worked instead as lifeguards.
Years had passed since the great leader started the safety net. He was now weak and old. From his sickbed he said the village now had but two choices.
The great leader said Economy was close to completing his dream of a real Economic Safety Net. He said Economy could make the island safe by fully protecting everyone from the terrible dangers of the lagoon. Economy just needed to cover the beach more completely with yet heavier nets. Economy also needed more men as lifeguards and needed to pay for better lifeguard training for fighting the sharks. The safety net would then make the water safe if
Economy built special shark-fighting boats for the lifeguards. The lifeguards could use the boats to lower wooden shark-protection cages around swimmers in danger. The great leader said his long years at building safety nets showed only that Economy merely had not done enough to keep villagers safe. If Economy only again redoubled its efforts the Economic Safety Net would work.
The other choice was to give up efforts to make the lagoon safe. The great leader insisted that it was simply too cruel for the good people of Economy to let those going to the lagoon fend for themselves with no Economic Safety Net.
By now many villagers said all of the great leader’s safety-net efforts were useless. Some even said the safety net was actually bad. They said more people were lost now to the lagoon than ever before, more than when the village of Economy did nothing at all to make the lagoon safe. Critics said Economy should return to doing nothing. They said it was better to have no safety net. With no safety net, they would tell their young that the beauty of the lagoon might be tempting, but that it hid terrible dangers from which there is no protection.
The great leader was now near death, but said Economy had changed since the simple days of the past and could not possibly return. He said too many people now went to the lagoon to end the Economic Safety Net.
With that the great leader died, and the people were left to decide between the two options.
Want to clean up Congress? Make it more responsive? Reduce the influence of special interests?
Two very simple measures would do it, as well as ending at least some of the most appalling government waste, cut spending, raise public trust in government and increase approval ratings of Congress.
And any credible candidates running for Congress could do wonders to advance their candidacy by embracing these two simple ideas. The candidate’s party would make no difference, nor would it matter whether the candidate was running for the House or the Senate, an incumbent or a challenger.
All would benefit in the same way and to the same degree. At a time when voter distrust of elected representatives may be at justifiably record levels, with voters increasingly feeling Congress is out of touch, representing the interests of government itself and of those able to hire professional lobbyists instead of the interests of average voters, there are two simple moves which could restore faith in the system, and bring true change.
Though both are somewhat high tech, they are entirely feasible, and easy to understand, both in their technology, and in the way they would likely fundamentally transform Congress.
Live Streaming Video – Body-cam TV
Two political buzzwords of the last few years are “transparency” and “accountability,” but little has been done to actually produce either, even though any member of Congress, or candidate for Congress (or any office), could easily become truly transparency simply by wearing a small camera and microphone at all times. And only with transparency will there ever be any accountability – so long as voters do not know who did what or why, it is hard for them to hold anyone accountable.
C-SPAN may broadcast action on the floor of the House or the Senate, or certain committee hearings, but that is seldom where members of either chamber of Congress actually decide how to vote, or hear or see what influences that decision. Nor can C-SPAN allow voters to tell whether a member of Congress has ever read a piece of legislation before voting on it, or even reviewed any summary of a bill.
But if a member of Congress wore a small camera and microphone at all times, a body-cam, streaming live video of his or her activities, voters could tell. Voters could see when or even if a bill was read, and voters could tell if the member of Congress had any real idea what was being voted on before voting; voters could also see what interest groups or individuals made appeals to influence the vote on a proposal.
This form of transparency, creating strong pressure for members of Congress to actually read legislation before voting on it would do a great deal to curb the expansion of government, because Congress would almost certainly pass less legislation if members tried to read and know what they were voting on. Allowing voters to see the efforts to influence a member of Congress would also create true transparency regarding lobbyists and special interests.
In other words, the actions of members of Congress could become truly transparent…. which may be why many members of Congress will likely strongly resist the idea.
The candidate or member of Congress would effectively become his or her own reality TV program, transmitting live over the internet, only it would be REAL reality TV, not the semi-scripted, highly edited, half-hour or hour long broadcasts popularized in recent years. (Think of the Jim Carrey movie The Truman Show, with a candidate or member of Congress as Truman, only at all times entirely aware of the “show.” There are now several applications available which would allow this.) For times when the candidate or office holder would take part in political strategy sessions, or receive a legitimately confidential briefing, there might be some explained delay of some, or even all, of a transmission until any time-sensitive reason for confidentiality had passed, but such needs would presumably be relatively few and far between.
This would not only end many concerns voters have of candidates or members of Congress essentially for sale to the highest bidder, or secretly currying favor with special interests, or voting on lengthy and complex measures without reading them (or even reading legislative summaries), it would generally mean an end those things actually happening – because the public would effectively be able to look over the shoulder of a candidate or member of Congress at all times.
Louis Brandies famously wrote in 1913 that sunlight is the best disinfectant. And he was right.
If the actions and conduct of members of Congress were exposed to continual sunlight, not only would people be less likely to believe the system is corrupt, but it would in fact be less corrupt.
Voters would be less likely to believe that Congressional votes are effectively bought and sold to various interest groups, or traded and dealt between members of Congress, not for the benefit of the home districts, but to help vague, nefarious “special interests” who persuade members of Congress to support, advance and vote for measures harmful to the nation as a whole. And voters would be less likely to believe it because the true transparency of members of Congress being subject to continual public scrutiny would disinfect the system just surely as sunlight.
(Some might argue the system is not corrupt, or that making candidates or office-holders the subject of streaming live video over the internet would not really address any problems that do exist. But whether there is any reality to the impression is not the point. Even though public opinion is not reality, in elective politics, public opinion often must be dealt with as if it were reality.)
Though personal life needs for privacy and shutting down the camera and microphone would exist, serious efforts to minimize such periods would be advisable, even to the point of changing sleeping habits (such as wearing nightclothes to bed), and those strapping on a body-cam would be well advised to minimize blackouts, since such periods would be inherently suspect. (Because the camera would be from the subject’s point of view as opposed to showing the world a view of the subject, the need for actual personal privacy blackouts would likely be far less than might initially be thought. In the early 1970′s a short-lived TV series called “Search” was built around this “body-cam” premise. The idea is not new, though the fact that technology would now allow it is.)
Any candidate adopting this approach would both instantly create a “buzz” for a campaign (guaranteeing considerable news coverage), and create an emotional investment for viewers, increasing the likelihood they would turn out and vote on election day for the candidate they had been watching. It would allow for the creation of a digital library of speaking events or interviews, or even simply addressing issues directly to the camera. Those digital recordings would lend themself to being further fleshed out with various links to either transcripts of the recordings in the digital library, or to written expansion of positions, or links to what others have written. (With the continuing improvement of voice recognition software, the idea of posting nearly instant transcripts without the time or expense of using a transcription service is a real possibility.)
Just as news broadcasts now often report on a popular viral video in part because such stories help fill newscasts without the time or expense of sending crew into the field, the body-cam would likely increase news coverage of a candidate or office holder at various events, because local newsrooms could pick a 20 second clip of something said without a news crew ever setting foot outside the newsroom. And by using a very small tripod a candidate could set the camera and microphone up to be trained on him any time he was actually delivering a speech or addressing a group.
Because continual streaming would amount to total and true transparency, it would result in considerable trust in anyone using this approach. Even when voters disagreed with a position, or disagree with multiple positions someone using this approach, voters are far more likely to support candidates they trust than, but disagree with, than they are to support those they agree with completely, but do not trust.
(It is also important that candidates or office holders realize that the trust would result not because anyone did actually watch all the time, or even watched at all — it would result from voters knowing they could watch at any time if they wanted.)
At a time when voter sentiment may be more anti-incumbent than any time in memory, continual streaming of every meeting with every lobbyist, every constituent, and every staffer, and of all reviews of legislation coming up for a vote, would go far to innoculate such incumbents from what many see as the disease of incumbency.
Another benefit of the body-cam approach is that beyond the direct interactive feedback it would stimulate, website tracking could allow a candidate to very quickly tell what messages and ideas were playing well, and what ones needed further work or explanation, or which needed to be scrapped.
A great many incumbents in 2012, whether good or bad, face the prospect of being swept up with true “bums” voters will “throw out.” The body-cam approach would play on the underlying doubts the public holds toward all politicians, and erase those doubts for those using the approach, while underscoring those doubts against opponents who would not.
This would in part be accomplished by promising to continue using a body-cam after taking office, and also promising to try to get Congress to allow true district-based representation, to assure the members of Congress actually represented their Districts as the founders originally envisioned.
(It should be noted that the suggestion here is not that anyone be required to offer streaming live video of every minute of their lives when campaigning, or even when in office, or even that they be required to do so during all but the truly personal and appropriately private moments of their lives, or that anyone be required to do this at all. The point is merely that it can be done fairly easily, and that a candidate or office-holder adopting the approach would have a tremendous credibility advantage over any opponent because it would create real transparency, allowing real accountability, not just lip-service to popular ideas.)
District Based Representation fn1
The House of Representatives was intended to represent voters by district, with Representatives coming from those represented, and for the first several terms of Congress, Representatives spent far more time at home, in their Districts, than they did in the nation’s capital. Often they spent much of the year actually working the jobs they held before going to Congress.
But as legislative sessions have lengthened, and Congress has seen fit to legislate everything under the sun, Representatives have come to spend ever more time in Washington, DC, where they are isolated from daily contact with those actually living in their districts. They are instead are in daily contact with other lawmakers, federal employees and Washington-based lobbyists. The interests of the former, those in the home districts, are prone to differ widely from the interests of the latter, those in Washington.
It can be very difficult to accurately represent the interests of those who are not seen and directly heard on a daily basis, particularly when those interests are at odds with the interests of those who are seen and heard every day.
It need not be this way. Teleconferencing is no longer the stuff of futuristic movies. Teleconferencing is here and it is now. Many people use it on a daily basis. Applications such as iMeet are advertised in heavy rotation on TV, with viewers “seeing” Brutus, Cassius and Trebonius plot the murder of Caesar as they are depicted meeting in a teleconference, or “seeing” Franklin, Jefferson, et al meeting in a teleconference to discuss the writing of the Declaration of independence.
The public understands this, and to many it would seem quite natural for members of Congress to actually live in their home districts instead of Washington, conducting legislative hearings and nearly all other business by teleconference, including voting electronically. (All recorded votes are already electronic, and nothing would prevent converting voice votes to quick electronic votes, which would further increase transparency for Congress, creating records for all votes).
While there would certainly be some expense for the needed software, the hardware for any representative could quite literally be any decent laptop computer, costing less than a single round trip flight between the home District and Washington for most members of Congress.
It should actually save money almost immediately, not just in the very obvious reduction of travel expenses, but also by reducing the susceptibility of Congress to Washington lobbyists and interests groups urging ever more federal spending… and the susceptibility of Congress to the siren song of the federal government itself urging ever more expansive government.
Members of Congress would also be able to dramatically reduce travel time between home Districts and Washington, giving them more productive time to do their jobs or to spend time with family.
Members of Congress uncomfortable with teleconferencing and remote electronic voting (as opposed to the electronic voting from the floor of the House) could certainly remain in Washington, DC, instead of working from their home districts, but doing so would likely create problems with voters. As soon as teleconferencing was allowed as an option, the pressure to use it would likely become considerable.
This would bring a fundamental transformation of the relationship between members of the House and those they represent. (Because district-based representation would also likely make it more difficult for professional lobbyists to maintain their current level of access to members of Congress, it should also seriously reduce the degree to which Congress is seen as a route for business to get preferential treatment from the federal government, and hopefully would in fact result in less preferential treatment, particularly from members also using the body-cam proposal.)
Though both proposals are completely independent of the other, they are extremely complementary, and in the minds of most voters would likely be thought of together. Both would also play well with the anti-incumbent mood in general.
fn1 I made this same suggestion in 1994 to a challenge candidate who won election, but who did not use the idea, and even then the idea did not originate with me – it was one I had seen in an op-ed piece in USA Today at the time. I refer to it as “district based representation,” because it would allow members of Congress to do the vast bulk of their work while in the districts from which they were elected, and not in Washington, D.C. With a minor rule change, voting, legislative or investigative hearings, and virtually any other official functions performed by Congress could be done from offices in their home districts instead of in the Capitol Building in the District of Columbia.
Remember how Global Warming was going to cause the sea levels to rise and wipe out coastal communities all over the world?
Remember how Obama on locking up the Democratic nomination announced in a speech on June 3, 2008, that in the future:
we will be able to look back and tell our children that this was the moment when we began to provide care for the sick and good jobs to the jobless; this was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal; this was the moment when we ended a war and secured our nation and restored our image as the last, best hope on earth.
Remember that? http://www.breitbart.com/article.php?id=D912VD200&show_article=1
Well, even thought he hasn’t ended any war, increased our involvement in Afghanistan and got us involved in an entirely new war in Libya, and even though you would be hard pressed to find anyone thinking there have been “good jobs (provided) to the jobless,” and only Obama supporters believe ObamaCare will “provide care for the sick,” it appears that his most audacious claim (slowing the rise of the oceans) may actually have happened.
Actually better than just slowing it. The sea levels have been FALLING about 5 MM a year for the last couple of years. An observation beginning within months of Obama taking office. http://www.real-science.com/uncategorized/sea-level-continues-historic-decline http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/weather-cycles-cause-a-drop-in-global-sea-level-scientists-find/2011/08/25/gIQA6IeaeJ_story.html (The man really is a miracle worker.)
But what does this say about Global Warming?
Remember that the seas were going to rise because the planet was warming, and would continue rising until all of the ice melted as a result of the warming. And that is one of the reasons we all have to give the federal government more more to control our lives, limit our freedoms, and take control of big chunks of the economy….
Only…. if the oceans are not rising…. wouldn’t that also mean that the globe is not warming… or that the entire global warming BS is…. well, BS?
And wouldn’t that mean the justification for expanding government power over the economy and our lives in order to prevent Global Warming is no longer there? No Global Warming == no justification to expand government power to deal with Global Warming (and of course even if there WERE Global Warming, that would not necessarily justify expanding government power, but that’s a different discussion).
So perhaps those of us who support limited government should actually applaud Obama for keeping his pledge about the rising oceans, and his further weakening the house of cards argument the Global Warmists have offered to expand government.
Three cheers for Obama!!!!
Hip, Hip Hooray!!!
1JesBeardPraxisAprilScoreReport Praxis test results from April 30, 2011, on World and U.S. History Content Knowledge, and from March 12, 2011, on English Language, Literature, Composition Content Knowledge and also the results on Writing:
Test 0941 World and U.S. History Content Knowledge — 187 of 200.
Test 0041 English Language, Literature, Composition Content Knowledge — 181 of 200.
Test 0721 Pre-Professional Skills Test: Writing — 185 of 190.
1JesBeardGACE6-16-12TestResults Georgia Assessments for the Certification of Educators program test(s):
Middle Grades Language Arts — score 252 (220 passing).
Professional Pedagogy Test I — score 260 (220 passing).
Professional Pedagogy Test II — score 251 (220 passing).
1-IllinoisCertificationTestingResultsFrom2-11-12 Illinois Certification Testing Results from 2-11-12;
Test: 155 Learning Behavior Specialist 1 — score 261/passed.
Test: 163 Special Education General Curriculum — score 262/passed.
Test: 300 Basic Skills — average score 275, all passed.
1JesBeardTranscriptsAll.pdf – Adobe Acrobat Pro Law school transcripts from the University of San Diego Law School and undergraduate transcripts from Indiana University.
1BeardReference-Robinson Letter of reference from Garry Robinson.
1BeardReference-Jones Letter of reference from Autry Jones.
1BeardReference-Lutz Letter of reference from Steve Lutz