For the past couple of days the internet has been filled with headlines like the following:

  Trump replaces NAFTA and triumphs — New trade deal with Mexico is YUGE win for both countries.

I was thrilled when I saw the headlines.  NAFTA has been an unmitigated disaster for American manufacturing jobs.  After reading the articles and press releases I wasn’t as thrilled because I became concerned over the approach President Trump is using to set aside and replace the deeply flawed treaty.

Here is how President Donald Trump announced the scrapping of NAFTA in this official statement.

It’s a big day for trade, a big day for our country.  A lot of people thought we’d never get here because we all negotiate tough.  We do, and so does Mexico.  And this is a tremendous thing.

This has to do — they used to call it NAFTA.  We’re going to call it the United States-Mexico Trade Agreement and we’ll get rid of the name NAFTA.  It has a bad connotation because the United States was hurt very badly by NAFTA for many years.  And now it’s a really good deal for both countries, and we look very much forward to it.

According to this quote it appears to be a done deal.  President Pena Nieto of Mexico, as quoted in the same statement, alludes to the fact that this is only the first step in a lengthy process, which should only conclude with ratification by the senate, if the Constitution is followed.

I finally recognize this, especially because of the point of understanding we are now reaching on this deal.  And I really hope and I desire — I wish — that the part with Canada will be materializing in a very concrete fashion; that we can have an agreement the way we proposed it from the initiation of this renegotiating process, a tripartite.

But today I celebrate the (inaudible) between the United States and Mexico because we’re reaching a final point of understanding.  And I hope that in the following days we can materialize (inaudible) in the formalization of the agreement.

During the official statement President Trump states that Canada is not part of the new treaty yet.

As far Canada is concerned, we haven’t started with Canada yet.  We wanted to do Mexico and see if that was possible to do.  And it wasn’t — I think, it wasn’t from any standpoint something that most people thought was even doable when we started.

President Trump goes on to say this about Canada being a part of the treaty:

But I think we’ll give them a chance to probably have a separate deal.  We can have a separate deal or we can put it into this deal.  I like to call this deal the United States-Mexico Trade Agreement.  I think it’s an elegant name.  I think NAFTA has a lot of bad connotations for the United States because it was a rip-off.  It was a deal that was a horrible deal for our country, and I think it’s got a lot of bad connotations to a lot of people.  And so we will probably — you and I will agree to the name.

Further proof that the Trump Administration believes that including Canada is not necessary for repealing NAFTA can be found in this Washington Examiner article.

A White House official said Monday that Canada’s consent was not needed to approve the trade deal that President Trump announced with Mexico earlier in the day, even though the administration argued that the deal would “supplant” the North American Free Trade Agreement between the U.S., Canada, and Mexico.

Since Canada was originally part of NAFTA isn’t it essential that Canada be in the replacement treaty for the treaty to be legally above board?  According to this article several republicans believe Canada must be included.

Ambassador Lighthizer had this to say in the official statement about the timetable for passage and the process for passing the replacement treaty:

Well, it will likely be signed at the end of November because there’s a 90-day layover period because of our statute.  But we expect to submit our letter to Congress, beginning that process on Friday…And then 90 days later, it will be signed.

I was confused about the language used by the ambassador and the origin of the 90 day layover period in the previous quote. This Weekly Standard article shed light on this and the Trump administration’s justification.

In order to negotiate trade pacts quickly in accordance with Trade Promotion Authority, the White House has to notify Congress of its intentions in writing. U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer did that in the spring of 2017

In order to accomplish the rapid replacement of NAFTA the Trump Administration is relying on Trade Promotion Authority. which is also known as Fast Track.  Here is a description if TPA:

Since 1974, Congress has enacted TPA legislation that defines U.S. negotiating objectives and priorities for trade agreements and establishes consultation and notification requirements for the President to follow throughout the negotiation process.  At the end of the negotiation and consultation process, Congress gives the agreement an up or down vote, without amendment. TPA reaffirms Congress’s overall constitutional role in the development and oversight of U.S. trade policy.

Is it acceptable to use TPA to replace NAFTA?  I do not believe so because NAFTA was ratified by the Senate on November 20, 1993.  In order to replace a ratified treaty I believe it must be done by another ratified treaty, which includes all participants.  I also believe the Trade Promotion Authority is unconstitutional because it violates the clause requiring two-thirds of all senators approve any treaty.  Every presidential administration that has used TPA to pass trade agreements has violated the Constitution.  I firmly believe President Trump is right to repeal NAFTA; however the Constitution must always be followed.  All that is required is for him to submit the new three party treaty to the Senate for ratification.

Lang’s Skokie office in 2006

Illinois cannot cope with the present, let alone with the future, so it’s fighting a symbolic battle from the past.

Here’s a little history lesson: In 1972 Congress submitted the Equal Rights Amendment to the state legislatures, which read:

Section 1. Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.
Section 2. The Congress shall have the power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.
Section 3. This amendment shall take effect two years after the date of ratification.

There was a rush of states falling over year other to ratify would have been the 27th Amendment before the seven-year deadline for passage, which in an unprecedented move, was extended by Congress for an additional three years. Thirty-five states–nearly all of them did so in the first year after congressional passage–ratified the ERA. Then opposition, led by conservative firebrand Phyliss Schlafly, who ironically lived in Illinois at the time, focused on such concerns that in an ERA America, women would be eligible for a military draft and gender-specific bathrooms would be abolished.

Blogger with Schlafly in 2006

Illinois did not ratify the ERA.

Three states, in a move never tested in a federal court, later rescinded their ratifications. No states ratified the ERA during the extension period and the Equal Rights Amendment died in 1982, three states–or six–short of what was needed to be enacted.

Or did the ERA really die?

Last year, thirty-five years after the deadline expired, Nevada ratified the ERA. And last month the Illinois state Senate voted to do the same. In the House, Rep. Lou Lang (D-Skokie), who nominally represents me in the lower chamber, is the sponsor for the ERA there. It’s a pet cause of Lang, a consummate left-wing political hack. He’s the House deputy majority leader, in reality, he’s the head waiter for House Speaker for Life Michael Madigan (D-Chicago), who Reuters says is “the man behind the fiscal fiasco in Illinois.” Where is Lang’s pension fix? Illinois has one of the worst-funded public-worker pension systems of the fifty states. Its credit rating is the lowest of any state ever. Why? Pensions of course. And those generous retirement plans are in reality deferred compensation in exchange for public-sector union support of the Democratic Party. Yes, a couple of Republican governors, Jim Thompson and Jim Edgar, are also partly culpable. Illinois’ pension bomb, both at the state and local level, and the tax hikes to attempt to pay down that debt, are a millstone for the state and the reason the Prairie State is suffering from declining population.

Other than more tax increases, Lang has no solution to solve the pension crisis. And yes, he’s definitely part of the problem as Lang has been a state legislator since 1987.

What to do?

If you’re Lang, you create a distraction with a nostalgic, for the left that is, flavor. Ratify the ERA. The Democratic nominee for governor, JB Pritzker, is on board.

Of course Congress could vote to pass, with identical wording, a new Equal Rights Amendment. Lang can just call his pal US Rep. Jan Schakowsky, his (and yes, my) representative in the US House. She’s an even bigger leftist than he is. Then the states can have another go-around. That’s what the our nation’s founders would want.

On the other hand, passing an constitutional amendment is very difficult to do. In 229 years it’s only been accomplished 27 times. But the US Constitution has in reality been amended thousands of times–by the courts. Same-sex marriage was legalized in such a manner, as was abortion.

Other than making women eligible for a military draft, what would the ERA do?

Ruins of a LaSalle, Illinois bridge

But that’s not the point. Liberals are obsessed with symbolism.

After the 9/11 attacks author Tom Clancy expressed this notion better, telling Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly, “The political left is, you know, they deal in symbols rather than reality.”

The ERA is a symbol.

“The general difference between conservatives and liberals is liberals like pretty pictures and conservatives like to build bridges that people can drive across,” Clancy continued. “And conservatives are indeed conservative because if the bridge falls down, people die. Where as the liberals figure, oh, we can always build a nice memorial to them and make people forget it happened and it was our fault. They’re very good at making people forget it was their fault, all right.”

The ultimate blame for Illinois’ pension debacle and the resulting people-drain lies with the left.

And Illinois is a collapsed bridge.

Will passing the ERA make Illinoisans feel better?

John Ruberry is a fifth-generation Illinoisan, who, with a 401(k) plan, is funding his own retirement. He regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit.

As the media applauded the student protests against guns, most reporters failed to understand the nature of constitutional law and the First Amendment.

Simply put, students who are not 18 years old don’t, for the most part, have many rights under the Constitution during the school day. Schools can ban websites and social media. Cellphone usage can be restricted. Free speech is limited. Moreover, those who participated in the recent protests could be legally disciplined.

But most news organizations used an advisory from the “always-ready-to-help-and-misinform” ACLU promoting the protests rather than digging into the legal issues.

DaTech3.jpgMost journalists cited Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District, a U.S. Supreme Court decision from 1969 that supported a limited right for students to protest during the Vietnam war. In that case, the court found that students in public schools could wear black arm bands in protest against the war.

The court observed, “It can hardly be argued that either students or teachers shed their constitutional rights to freedom of speech or expression at the schoolhouse gate.”

But the opinion went much further, restricting a number of rights. School administrators could restrict protests if the actions significantly disrupted or interfered with the normal activities during school hours.

Many people, including me, would argue that the anti-gun protests did exactly that.

But many school administrators, toeing the leftist line, decided to use the protest as a “teachable moment.” A few schools in Arizona, Arkansas, and elsewhere followed the essence of the court decisions, saying that the protests were indeed disruptive.

In a dissenting opinion in Tinker, Justice Hugo Black argued that “if the time has come when pupils of state-supported schools, kindergartens, grammar schools, or high schools, can defy and flout orders of school officials to keep their minds on their own schoolwork, it is the beginning of a new revolutionary era of permissiveness in this country fostered by the judiciary.”

 Since the Tinker decision, the courts have been fairly consistent in restricting the rights of high school students. In Bethel School District v. Fraser,  a 1986 case, the U.S. Supreme Court held that a high school student’s speech that included sexual references during a student assembly was not constitutionally protected. In Hazelwood v. Kuhlmeier, the court ruled that schools have the right to regulate the content of school-sponsored newspapers. In Morse v. Frederick, the court held in 2007 that schools may restrict student speech at a school-sponsored event. Several cases have restricted the display of the Confederate flag in schools.

Somehow the ACLU memo didn’t mention these cases, and journalists, as usual, chose to follow the leftist line rather than dig deeper into the facts of the issue.

A final note: An Iowa journalist wrote an excellent column about rural America, where people blame the shooter rather than the weapon. It made sense to me.

See https://www.nytimes.com/2018/03/16/opinion/guns-gun-control-america.html

 

Americans supporting candidates other than Donald Trump had 17 months to make the case to America why he shouldn’t be the next President of the United States. Based upon the rules set forth in the Constitution and subsequent election laws passed over the last 220 years that every candidate agreed to when they initiated their campaigns, Trump won the election. This matter is settled with one viable exception.

Before we get to that exception, let’s discuss the things that are not exceptions to the rules. They are relevant because they’re currently being used by the left in an attempted to sabotage Trump’s victory. As a proud member of the new Federalist Party, it disgusts me that so many Democrats are attempting to invoke the safeguards set forth by our founders to subvert the powers of the electoral college and prevent Trump’s ascension to office.

Fear of ridicule, harassment, persecution, or physical harm are not valid exceptions for electors to change their votes. It’s a sad state of affairs that we have to point this one out, but that’s the tactic that many Democrats are using today. Attempting to bully electors isn’t just immoral. It’s against the law, but it’s worse than that. It’s an action that eats away at the foundation of this nation.

Admiration of Hollywood celebrities and their “enlightened” perspectives is not a valid exception for electors to change their votes. The ridiculous video many of them put out in a plea for electors to change their votes is allowable and almost admirable… if you forget that it’s a ridiculous video. While I’m skeptical about its actual core intention, if we take it at face value, it’s still pretty silly. Again, the attempt would be admirable in a way because it’s a protected expression of an opinion, but in this case their opinion is futile. Even if their message succeeded, it wouldn’t change the result of the election.

Lastly, mass media anti-Constitution propaganda pushed from the highest office in the land and spread through the Democrats’ mainstream media minions is not a valid exception for electors to change their votes. We are a constitutional republic with an electoral college safeguard in place to make sure the worst-case scenario doesn’t happen. Trump may be the worst-case scenario in the minds of many Democrats just as President Obama was the worst-case scenario in the minds of many Republicans, but neither represented a true existential threat to America. Obama did damage, but we can recover. Trump will do some good and some bad, but it’s unlikely that he will single-handedly propel us into the abyss.

That brings us to the viable exception. Of the pieces of the Constitution that were debated by both sides, the electoral college was the most agreeable. It was called “excellent if not perfect” for one important reason. Their fear in the 18th century is possibly a relevant fear today. They believed that the electors could have the discernment necessary to make certain the next President wasn’t planted by a foreign power.

In The Federalist #68, Alexander Hamilton wrote:

Nothing was more to be desired than that every practicable obstacle should be opposed to cabal, intrigue, and corruption. These most deadly adversaries of republican government might naturally have been expected to make their approaches from more than one querter, but chiefly from the desire in foreign powers to gain an improper ascendant in our councils. How could they better gratify this, than by raising a creature of their own to the chief magistracy of the Union? But the convention have guarded against all danger of this sort, with the most provident and judicious attention. They have not made the appointment of the President to depend on any preexisting bodies of men, who might be tampered with beforehand to prostitute their votes; but they have referred it in the first instance to an immediate act of the people of America, to be exerted in the choice of persons for the temporary and sole purpose of making the appointment. And they have excluded from eligibility to this trust, all those who from situation might be suspected of too great devotion to the President in office. No senator, representative, or other person holding a place of trust or profit under the United States, can be of the numbers of the electors. Thus without corrupting the body of the people, the immediate agents in the election will at least enter upon the task free from any sinister bias.

In short, the founders didn’t simply want to prevent a bad choice for President. They wanted to prevent corruption in any form but specifically corruption by foreign powers. While some might make the case that Trump has too many connections to Russia, it’s hard to imagine that he’s an actual foreign conspirator planted in office to bring down the country. I could easily make a case that Hillary Clinton was even more likely to be influenced by foreign powers had she been elected, but she thankfully was not. With that said, I have called on conservative media to help sort this whole Russia business out.

If electors truly believe that Trump is a Russian plant who will intentionally bring down the nation on orders from Vladimir Putin, they should exercise their rights as electors to prevent it. If they believe the more likely scenario that he’s a patriotic American who wants to forge a good relationship with Russia, then that’s simply not viable grounds to change their vote. For the sake of as smooth of a transition of power as possible, the electors should vote for whoever their state’s voters selected as President. The final tally should be 306 to Trump, 232 to Clinton.

Federal regulations place an enormous burden on our economy.  They are strangling every individual and business with red tape.  Earlier this year the Competitive Enterprise Institute released this report detailing the exact size of this regulatory nightmare.  Here are some highlights from that report.

  • The total cost of regulatory compliance for 2015 alone was $1.885 trillion
  • The cost per household that year was $15000
  • 80000 pages of federal rules and regulations were added to the federal register that year
  • There are about 60 different federal agencies writing regulations

The vast majority of these regulations violate several fundamental clauses of the United States Constitution.

All of these regulations are written by departments of the Executive Branch or by independent agencies.  This violates Article I Section 1 which states:

All legislative powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States, which shall consist of a Senate and House of Representatives.

The legislative branch has been derelict in its constitutional obligations.  For the past several decades both houses of congress have written laws which have delegated legislative power to these regulatory agencies.  Congress does not have the authority to delegate legislative authority to anyone.  They are not granted that power.  John Locke, one of the primary influences of the framers of the Constitution, was quite clear on this when he wrote his Second Treatise on Government:

The Legislative cannot transfer the Power of Making Laws to any other hands. For it being but a delegated Power from the People, they, who have it, cannot pass it over to others. The People alone can appoint the Form of the Commonwealth, which is by Constituting the Legislative, and appointing in whose hands that shall be. And when the People have said, We will submit to rules, and be govern’d by Laws made by such Men, and in such Forms, no Body else can say other Men shall make Laws for them; nor can the people be bound by any Laws but such as are Enacted by those, whom they have Chosen, and Authorised to make Laws for them. The power of the Legislative being derived from the People by a positive voluntary Grant and Institution, can be no other, than what that positive Grant conveyed, which being only to make Laws, and not to make Legislators, the Legislative can have no power to transfer their Authority of making Laws, and place it in other hands.

Regulations written by these regulatory agencies are treated as the law of the land even though they are never passed by both houses and signed by the president.  This is in violation of Article 1 Section 7 of the Constitution, which defines the formal legislative process.

The US Constitution created a limited federal government with only clearly defined powers, which are spelled out in Article 1 Section 8.  All other powers are left to the individual States.  This is declared in the Tenth Amendment:

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.

These regulations violate the Tenth Amendment because they grant the federal government the authority to regulate in areas not contained in the powers enumerated in Article 1 Section 8.

The federal government treats these regulations as if they are the law of the land, in violation of the Supremacy Clause, which is Article 6 Section 2:

This constitution, and the laws of the United States which shall be made in pursuance thereof; and all treaties made, or which shall be made, under the authority of the United States shall be the supreme law of the land; and the judges in every state shall be bound thereby, any thing in the constitution or laws of any state to the contrary notwithstanding.

Because these regulations violate several provisions of the Constitution, they are not in pursuance of the Constitution; therefore they are not the law of the land.

Since all of these regulations already violate several articles of the Constitution, a constitutional amendment preventing the federal government from implementing this regulatory nightmare is not the solution to this constitutional crisis.  Thomas Jefferson proposed the solution to this crisis when he wrote the Kentucky Resolutions of 1798.  The States must refuse to implement these unconstitutional regulations and the States must refuse to help the federal government implement them.

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Contrary to what is taught in colleges and promoted by the media today; the government created by the US Constitution is not a democracy, it is a constitutional republic. About a century ago progressives began systematically transforming this country from a constitutional republic into a European style parliamentary democracy. They accomplished this by elevating laws passed by congress, executive orders, federal regulations, and Supreme Court decisions to the status of the supreme law of the land, while completely ignoring the actual text of the Constitution, which is the supreme law of the land.

In recent decades, progressives have taken this transformation well beyond turning this nation into a parliamentary democracy. They have created a form of government that is more dangerous by greatly increasing the power and scope of the Executive Branch. President Obama now wields almost unlimited legislative power through his unconstitutional use of executive orders.

This fundamental transformation has also included the creation of a fourth branch of the federal government. This branch consists of an army unelected bureaucrats who control virtually every aspect of our lives.

The Constitution created a bottom up government hierarchy, with the federal government as the weakest tier. Local governments were supposed to have the most influence on our daily lives. States were meant to be mostly independent nations tied together by a weak central government. The federal government lacked the power to reach down and affect the lives of those living inside the States. This has now been completely reversed by progressives. Virtually every aspect of our lives is closely regulated by the federal government.

These fundamental transformations, which have been greatly accelerated by President Obama, have produced disastrous results for everyone. To reverse these disastrous transformations, “We the people” must restore our government back to a constitutional republic. Here is my step by step guide to accomplishing this.

We must educate ourselves

I would highly recommend everyone read:

The Notes on the Debates in the Federal Convention
The Federalist Papers
The Anti-federalist Papers
The 5000 Year Leap, by W. Cleon Skousen
The Making of America: The Substance and Meaning of the Constitution, also by Skousen.
The Kentucky Resolutions by Thomas Jefferson
The Virginia Resolutions by James Madison

The Kentucky Resolutions and the Virginia Resolutions are essential reading because they contain the blueprint for restoring our constitutional republic.

We must educate others

Please share this article with as many people and groups as possible thru Facebook, Twitter, and other social media outlets. Please read the texts I mentioned in the previous section and share that knowledge with as many people as possible.

We must educate our State governments.

Most members of State governments are completely oblivious when it comes to the extent of the restorative powers that the States can wield when dealing with a federal government that has exceeded its constitutional limitations. Thomas Jefferson wrote the Kentucky Resolutions in response to the Alien and Seditions Acts,which were passed in 1798. Here is section one:

Resolved, That the several States composing, the United States of America, are not united on the principle of unlimited submission to their general government; but that, by a compact under the style and title of a Constitution for the United States, and of amendments thereto, they constituted a general government for special purposes — delegated to that government certain definite powers, reserving, each State to itself, the residuary mass of right to their own self-government; and that whensoever the general government assumes undelegated powers, its acts are unauthoritative, void, and of no force: that to this compact each State acceded as a State, and is an integral part, its co-States forming, as to itself, the other party: that the government created by this compact was not made the exclusive or final judge of the extent of the powers delegated to itself; since that would have made its discretion, and not the Constitution, the measure of its powers; but that, as in all other cases of compact among powers having no common judge, each party has an equal right to judge for itself, as well of infractions as of the mode and measure of redress.

James Madison echoed Thomas Jefferson when he wrote the Virginia Resolutions. The constitutional doctrine laid out in these documents, which is called nullification, is the single most important tool for restoring the federal government to its constitutional boundaries. To implement nullification States need only to declare that a certain action by the federal government violates the Constitution, therefore it is null and void, and the State will not enforce it. States can use nullification on all federal laws, regulations, executive orders, and Supreme Court decisions that violate the Constitution. This process is independent from the Supreme Court.

We must make nullification a major campaign issue.

It is vital that we ask every elected member of State government if they support nullification as a means of restoring our constitutional republic. If they do not, we must find alternative candidates that do, and we must make every effort to get them elected.

I do not believe the Article 5 amendment process is the answer.

The federal government has completely ignored or distorted every single clause of the Constitution and every single amendment. I firmly believe the federal government will do the same with any new amendment that is ratified. The federal government will not reform itself. Under the Constitution, the States were always meant to be the ultimate restorative force.

Please check out my previous articles:

Politically Correct equals Newspeak
The Intoxicating History of Beer
Climate Change Has become a religion
Freedom of Religion not Freedom From Religion
Time to bust some Second Amendment Myths

A note from DaTechGuy: This is the last week of Da Magnificent Tryouts. If you like Jon’s Piece(s) and want him to stay now is the time to hit DaTipJar in his support and share his pieces




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It’s not always fun being a conservative in California. When election day comes around, I’m used to casting my symbolic vote knowing that none of my candidates for national races have a chance of winning. It was the opposite when I lived in Oklahoma. I couldn’t lose. Oh, what fun it would be to live in a swing state. Then again, I would probably be out knocking on doors and making phone calls rather than spending my time reaching an online audience.

There’s a solution that makes total sense, at least for the Presidential vote. Nebraska and Maine have adopted electoral college vote distribution systems that make for a much more interesting scenario. The way the system currently works in the rest of the states, only a handful can have an impact on the election. All of the others are considered safely in the pocket of one party or the other. Only in swing states do the people get the full attention of Presidential candidates. You won’t see Hillary Clinton spending too much time in Texas between now and election day.

In Nebraska and Maine, the winner of the statewide vote gets two electoral votes while the winner in each individual congressional district gets one. This would change the dynamic from having swing states to swing districts. Candidates would be forced to hit nearly every state. It wouldn’t be prudent to ignore entire blocks of the population as it is today.

The Constitution allows states to determine their method of distribution. This is as it should be and I am not an advocate for abolishing the electoral college in favor of using the popular vote. Madison and Hamilton were right in believing that the nation needed to be essentially protected from the potential tyranny of the majority by adopting the tenets of a republic over a pure democracy. If it ever comes down to it, we may have to call on people to change their electoral vote to prevent the wrong move by the majority.

What Nebraska and Maine do is allow for better distribution of attention by the candidates. A Republican would need to come to California for more than fundraising because he or she would have a chance of winning votes in Orange County and a few other congressional districts. President Obama won the only electoral vote from Nebraska cast for a Democrat in the last five decades by picking up the Omaha congressional district. By getting all of the states to adopt this measure, it would be necessary for candidates to spread their message and campaign spending to the whole nation rather than putting all of their focus on the handful of states that could swing in their direction.

Today, my vote for President is absolutely worthless while my friend’s vote in Ohio is crucial. That’s not the way that the founding fathers envisioned it. They never intended for 17% of the population to have all of the power in deciding a Presidential election. They simply wanted to protect against the potential pitfalls of a true democracy. That’s why they put it in the Constitution. That’s also why they left it up to the states to decide how to distribute those electoral college votes.

I won’t say that there are no pitfalls, but the positives clearly outweigh the negatives in my humble opinion. No vote should be worthless and no vote should be crucial. It’s impossible to make them all equal without switching to a democratic system, but a more sensible approach would change the dynamic for the better while staying within the original boundaries laid out in the Constitution.

Some may say that it’s impossible and they are probably right. Others might say that it would disproportionately favor Democrats. We tend to believe that when it comes to Congressional districts, but here’s the reality: if every state and DC had Nebraska’s and Maine’s system in 2012, the electoral college vote would have swung in favor of Mitt Romney. He would have had 274 electoral votes and we wouldn’t be discussing how bad Obama’s second term has been for the country.

A note from DaTechGuy: I hope you enjoyed JD Rucker’s piece. Remember we will be judging the entries in Da Magnificent tryouts by hits both to their post and to DaTipJar. So if you like Mr. Rucker’s work, please consider sharing this post, and if you hit DaTipjar because of it, don’t forget to mention Mr. Rucker’s post is the reason you did so. If you missed his previous pieces they are: The one word to associate with Hillary that would doom her camapign and Trump is Exactly Where He Wants to Be Despite GOP ‘Chaos’




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The_Peacemakers_1868
(L,R) Generals Sherman and Grant, President Lincoln, and Admiral Porter. Linked attribution.

by baldilocks

Originally posted on December 10, 2009.

While hanging out yesterday at Ace’s yesterday [sic; December 9, 2009] as he was flogging racists, I happened to mention that many if not most black Americans view the federal government as beneficial and friendly.  Some other commenters were surprised and I was surprised at their surprise, because it isn’t difficult to figure out why this is.  Whether it’s the Emancipation or the desegregation of the Armed Forces or Brown v. Board or the Civil Rights and Voting Rights Acts, the federal government for the most part had seemed to be on the side of the black American as his constitutional rights were being oppressed by state or local governments.

What needs to be spelled, however is what the federal government did in the above-mentioned areas: it legally removed obstacles to the life, liberty and pursuit of happiness of Americans who are black.  And that is what it was supposed to do.

The present problem in my unlearned opinion is this: the federal government began overstepping its bounds during the Great Depression and did so most infamously in the late sixties via the Great Society programs.  Doing more that getting local racists out of the way, the federal government sought to and succeeded in making itself the suppliers of life, liberty and, putatively, the happiness of many black Americans.  (Try telling a senior of any race that Social Security is sending the country to financial ruin. You’ll get an earful about her “rights”.)

And even many black Americans who do not rely on the federal government still view the fed as our friend because of that history.

What’s needed in order to change this perception is obvious: education–not a new education but the old one, one which contains an objective explanation of the role of government.

Simply put, the role of the American government is to remove obstacles to liberty of the People–even when that obstacle is American government itself.  Supplying all of one’s needs is not government’s role.  That’s God’s purview.

We all remember President Obama’s statement containing the assertion that one of the flaws of the US Constitution was that is only contained a  list of “negative rights,” meaning negative government “rights.”  The idea that a Harvard-trained lawyer thinks that the government has rights or that there was no list of positive responsibilities assigned to government was mockable.  (Hey, you voted for him.)

But what the statement betrayed was a widespread misconception present in those of us who aren’t lawyers of any variety of a friendly fed whose role is to insert itself between God and man’s liberty and to redistribute wealth (aka stealing).  The notion that the founders “forgot” to address this is hilarious.

So when the Democrats came to full power [in 2009], they began to build on the foundation that Democrat Presidents Franklin D. Roosevelt and Lyndon B. Johnson laid.  The good news?  Between Socialized Medicine, Cap and Trade, TARP, etc., the federal government’s active role in overstepping its bounds–in crippling America–is opening the eyes of Americans of all races.  The bad news: there may not be an America left when the federal locusts finish.

Juliette Akinyi Ochieng blogs at baldilocks. (Her older blog is located here.) Her first novel, Tale of the Tigers: Love is Not a Game, was published in 2012. Her second novel will be done in 2016. Follow her on Twitter.

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By Steve Eggleston

In case you haven’t heard, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, chaired by Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN), unanimously reported favorably out of committee a bill that supposedly gives Congress a “right of refusal” on any agreement between the civilized world and Iran on Iran’s nuclear ambitions.

My immediate reaction, in the comments section of the Hot Air post, was that this is the “logical” extension of the 2011 cave on the debt ceiling to foreign policy. To wit, it’s a changing of an active Congressional approval to one of active Congressional disapproval in order to con those of us outside the DC bubble.

Andrew McCarthy has a longer explanation of this. As part of this, he links to the text of the bill itself, and a read of it is quite discouraging. Indeed, it’s nothing more than Kabuki theater.

The big item that is part of Corker’s bill is that it completely accedes to the notion that whatever agreement is reached is not only is an “executive agreement”, but one that requires no actual Congressional approval, much less the 2/3rds approval by the Senate a treaty requires. In fact, the bill explicitly allows for the waiving of all the sanctions against Iran if there is no action taken by Congress. In that respect, it’s worse than the various iterations of the “fast-track” trade negotiation authority that had existed for nearly the last 4 decades. Fast-track at least required the active approval of Congress.

With that said, given there wouldn’t be 2/3rds of Congress willing to override a Presidential veto of a maintenance of sanctions, it really doesn’t matter. According to the Congressional Research Service (courtesy the Federation of American Scientists), all of the statutory sanctions can be waived, and many of them outright terminated, by Presidential authority. In fact, the “prohibition” on those waivers during the Congressional review period specifically doesn’t apply to those made by mid-May, and arguably any made prior to the submission of a final agreement to Congress.

One could point to the fact that Congress would get semi-annual reports on Iran’s compliance with a nuclear deal, with an expedited consideration of a reimposition of sanctions as punishment for non-compliance, as a “positive”. However, given the punishment would require 2/3rds of both houses of Congress (after an Obama veto) to happen, and thus wouldn’t happen, it is equally meaningless.

I was talking with a friend of mine recently about some issues that arise on the nightly news.  Many of these revolve around the Constitution and various things that show up on the nightly news about this document.  The friend was also an Army Veteran and between the two of us have spent enough years in uniform that we like to know what it is we are/were defending.  So this topic does come up.

In particular this conversation revolved around the fifth Amendment.  So for review here is the original text:

Original Text of the Fifth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States

No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

Discussion

This Amendment is usually not one that is argued terribly often, with one notable exception, however it is invoked in ways that it may not apply, and recently.

It basically tells us that the police (or other government authority) can’t hold a Citizen for an unreasonable amount of time (discussed below) without being charged of a crime.  Being charged with a crime means there will be a trial. But, people will complain, there is a long time while the person is in confinement before their trial. This is due to the gathering of evidence phase, not because of anything else.  You can argue what reasonable length of time is but that is where we must argue, not the validity or invalidity of being held.

In other words, despite what prime time television shows have told us, we can’t be thrown in jail, have the key thrown out, and never see the light of day again.  That is, without being charged with a crime.

As we mentioned this is usually not argued by too many people, as even drug dealers and murders see their day in court.

The notable exception to this is the prisoners from the Global War in Terror that to this day still reside at a prison at Guantanamo Bay Cuba.  These prisoners went a very long time without being charged with anything.  Here is the government argument for that exception.

They are not United States Citizens; they are not inside the United States and therefore not subject to our laws and privileges.  They are, and this is where it gets sticky, on a Military Base.  Those are generally considered US Territory.  We really don’t know exactly how that one is gotten around, but somehow it is.

On top of all of that they are considered to be Prisoners of War. While we are required by the Geneva Convention to treat them with basic human rights, they don’t fall under our judicial system.

Is this government argument correct?

Maybe, but maybe not.

That is beyond the scope of this discussion and could probably fill book after book by itself (if you look on Amazon there may already be one).  However, the Constitution does only apply to Citizens of the United States and really only to the area of the globe inside our borders.

The Constitution, and the rights guaranteed by it don’t extend everywhere.  For instance, in Iran one cannot reasonably expect to have the right to indefinite detainment without being charged with a crime.  There, you can be thrown into a prison for no apparent reason and the Constitution of the United States can’t protect you, even if you are a US Citizen.

Another recent possible Fifth Amendment issue in the recent news cycles concerns the Internal Revenue Service.  There was a controversy of them holding up and allegedly harassing groups with one (and only one) political ideology.  That is the claim.

How true is that claim?

Well…enter the United States Congress doing an investigation (what could possibly go wrong now).  The Congress questioned an IRS official, and that official “took the fifth” and refused to answer questions (presumably so they wouldn’t incriminate themselves).

Here is the interesting bit.

That same official was offered immunity for any wrongdoing then pulled back in front of Congress.  So, this amendment says you can refuse to answer so you don’t incriminate yourself.  This person can’t possibly incriminate themselves in the commission of a crime…they have immunity.

So do Fifth Amendment rights pertain to this?  Can this person officially refuse to answer questions without being held in contempt of Congress (for which they can be thrown in jail)?

It is an interesting Constitutional question.

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