Friday, September 30, 2011

The Breakdown

All the conflict in Congress over budget this, and budget that, got me thinking. Would it be possible to break down all the budgetary items and have two main categories: a budget for the operating costs of the Federal government (salaries, operating overhead, etc.), and a separate budget for discretionary spending, capital investment (infrastructure, weapons systems, etc.)? This seems, on the surface, to be a logical means for We The People to see where it is our money goes. Additionally, it would serve to cut down on those pesky “earmarks” and “pork” and the like. Both these budgets would, by law, have to be balanced, and their due dates would be six months apart, so they could truly be separate.
pay a salary : operating budget

build a bridge : capital budget

pay the CIA’s electric bill : operating budget

pay for an “armed conflict” : capital budget

It seems reasonable enough to me. A full audit of the Federal government would be so much more meaningful and clear to the people who earn the money and pay the taxes to run our government. Hey, it is our money. We have the Constitutional right to know where every dime goes; remember the phrase, “ No taxation without representation”? I think we all need to put a lot more muscle behind our Constitution and demand that it be follow more closely than in the past 60 years.

Republicans, Evangelicals, and You

After my last posting regarding the division of Church and State, I thought it may be interesting to “google” the words “GOP and Christian Evangelicals. The reason being is that only hours after my last posting, I tuned into the Rachel Maddow Show on MSNBC. Low, and behold, she had a guest who was a member of the Sothern Christian Evangelical Movement from the 1970’s to the 1990’s.
His name is Frank Schaeffer, and he has written a number of books on the calculated effort by Evangelicals to invade and take over the Republican Party. According to Mr. Schaeffer, this movement intends on the creation of  a Church State; a Nation we like to call The United States of America. The interview with Rachel was short and sweet, but Mr. Schaeffer did get the message across, loud and clear, regarding these intentions and the amount of progress they have made to date. Not even in my most skeptical moments would I have thought that such a movement had gained so much ground as to be a clear and present danger to our Democracy. This is scary stuff!


1.   GOP                      Grand Old Party (Republican)

2.   Christian               (1): (a) one who professes belief in the teachings of  Jesus Christ (b) disciple  (2): a member of one of the Churches of Christ separating from the Disciples of Christ in 1906 (3): a member of the Christian denomination having part in the union of the United Church of Christ concluded in 1961
3.   Evangelical           1: of, relating to, or being in agreement with the Christian gospel especially as it is presented in the four Gospels
4: protestant         3: emphasizing salvation by faith in the atoning death of Jesus Christ through personal conversion, the authority of Scripture, and the importance of preaching as contrasted with ritual:
(a)capitalized: of or relating to the Evangelical Church in Germany: (b)often capitalized: of, adhering to, or marked by fundamentalism : fundamentalist
5: marked by militant or crusading zeal : evangelistic <the evangelical ardor of the movement's leaders — Amos Vogel>

Basic Google search:   the GOP and Christian Evangelicals – just the first page!
1] Rise of the Religious Right in the Republican Party
Dominionism is therefore a tendency among Protestant Christian evangelicals and fundamentalists that encourages them to not only be active ...
2] Will White Evangelicals Desert the GOP? - Pew Research Center
Cached - SimilarYou +1'd this publiclEvangelicals and the Republican Party. Evangelical Christians have been a powerful force in American politics at many points in the nation's ...
3] Huckabee: Evangelical Christians Now Have a Chance to Lead GOP
SimilarYou +1'd this publicFormer Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee touted his candidacy Saturday as a chance for evangelical Christians to lead the Republican ...
4]Religion and Politics in the United States: Nuances You Should Know
One study found that 40 percent of the total vote for Bush in 2000 came from Christian Evangelicals, making it the largest single voting bloc in the Republican ...
5]Evangelical pastors jump into the 2012 political fray - Los Angeles ..
Rick Perry and Bachmann, contenders for the GOP nomination, are openly appealing to evangelical Christian voters as they blast President
6] Romney Faces Challenge in Battling Perry for Evangelical Support ...
WhileGOP candidate Mitt Romney's evangelical support seems stronger than in 2008 when it ... By Stephanie Samuel | Christian Post Reporter ...
It is strongest in the South, where it comprises the core of the Republican Party. ... Although evangelicals constitute the core constituency of the Christian right, ...
8]Tony Perkins Says Evangelicals Could Support Any of The Leading ...
Evangelical Christiansand social conservatives have traditionally been an important base of support for Republicans, arguably reaching an...Cached
Subtitle: When the list of key speakers at the Republican Convention was released, Gay advocates squealed with delight while Evangelical Christian leaders
Subtitle: When the list of key speakers at the Republican Convention was released, Gay advocates squealed with delight while Evangelical Christian leaders
11]Bachmann says she is "comeback kid Michele Bachmann (R-MN), speaks at the California Republican Party fall ...told evangelical Christians on Wednesday that she would be "the comeback kid" in ...I am an Evangelical Christianand have seen the light. The modern day republican party will say anything to get our vote, but we are not at the ...

               Can you say, “1920 – 1940, in German?”

You +1'd this publicly. Undo

You +1'd this publicly. Undo

The Division of Church and State

With the next General Election year fast upon us, there seems to a rumbling, or murmur, once again coming from our Nation’s Southern tier of States. I first became aware of this phenomenon in the 1970’s when Richard Nixon started talking about his “Southern Strategy”. Ever since, I have had the Southern Christian Movement on my political radar. They have had their good years and their lean years, and, from what I hear on the “street”, the coming year may be very, very kind to them. Personally, I wish them success and prosperity; just not when it comes to our Federal Government. Some of their notable members have been expressing a great desire to see the Federal Government become a “church state”. Senators, Congressmen, Governors, and State Legislators across the Bible belt are quietly trying to build a GOP Platform that heavily stresses the need for religion in government.
The following is an overview , basically from Thomas Jefferson, on the original intent, and therefore, definition of the “division of church and state”.

U.S. Constitution - Amendment 1

Amendment 1 - Freedom of Religion, Press, Expression

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Jefferson's Wall of Separation Letter

Thomas Jefferson was a man of deep religious conviction — his conviction was that religion was a very personal matter, one which the government had no business getting involved in. He was vilified by his political opponents for his role in the passage of the 1786 Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom and for his criticism of such biblical events as the Great Flood and the theological age of the Earth. As president, he discontinued the practice started by his predecessors George Washington and John Adams of proclaiming days of fasting and thanksgiving. He was a staunch believer in the separation of church and state.

Jefferson wrote a letter to the Danbury Baptist Association in 1802 to answer a letter from them written in October 1801. A copy of the Danbury letter is available here. The Danbury Baptists were a religious minority in Connecticut, and they complained that in their state, the religious liberties they enjoyed were not seen as immutable rights, but as privileges granted by the legislature — as "favors granted." Jefferson's reply did not address their concerns about problems with state establishment of religion — only of establishment on the national level. The letter contains the phrase "wall of separation between church and state," which led to the short-hand for the Establishment Clause that we use today: "Separation of church and state."

The letter was the subject of intense scrutiny by Jefferson, and he consulted a couple of New England politicians to assure that his words would not offend while still conveying his message: it was not the place of the Congress or the Executive to do anything that might be misconstrued as the establishment of religion.

Note: The bracketed section in the second paragraph had been blocked off for deletion in the final draft of the letter sent to the Danbury Baptists, though it was not actually deleted in Jefferson's draft of the letter. It is included here for completeness. Reflecting upon his knowledge that the letter was far from a mere personal correspondence, Jefferson deleted the block, he noted in the margin, to avoid offending members of his party in the eastern states.

This is a transcript of the final letter as stored online at the Library of Congress, and reflects Jefferson's spelling and punctuation.

To messers Nehemiah Dodge, Ephraim Robbins, & Stephen S. Nelson, a committee of the Danbury Baptist association in the state of Connecticut.


performances of devotion, practiced indeed by the Executive of another nation as the legal head of its church, but subject here, as religious exercises only to the voluntary regulations and discipline of each respective sect.] Adhering to this expression of the supreme will of the nation in behalf of the rights of conscience, I shall see with sincere satisfaction the progress of those sentiments which tend to restore to man all his natural rights, convinced he has no natural right in opposition to his social duties.

I reciprocate your kind prayers for the protection & blessing of the common father and creator of man, and tender you for yourselves & your religious as
The affectionate sentiments of esteem and approbation which you are so good as to express towards me, on behalf of the Danbury Baptist association, give me the highest satisfaction. my duties dictate a faithful and zealous pursuit of the interests of my constituents, & in proportion as they are persuaded of my fidelity to those duties, the discharge of them becomes more and more pleasing.

Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between Man & his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legitimate powers of government reach actions only, & not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should "make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof," thus building a wall of separation between Church& State. [Congress thus inhibited from acts respecting religion, and the Executive authorised only to execute their acts, I have refrained from prescribing even those occasional sociation assurances of my high respect & esteem.(signed) Thomas Jefferson Jan.1.1802. source credit:

The Establishment Clause:
The First Amendment provides that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion….”

The "Establishment Clause" was intended to prevent any governmental endorsement or support of religion. While one might intuitively read this to mean that the clause was meant to preclude endorsement or support of some particular religion, it is important to note that the clause also prohibits the endorsement of religion generally over non-religion. As the Court noted in 1947, “A large proportion of the early settlers of this country came here from Europe to escape the bondage of laws which compelled them to support and attend government-favored churches.”

Everson v. Board of Education, 330 U.S. 1, 8 (1947). The Court went on to emphasize that “no one group throughout the Colonies can rightly be given entire credit for having aroused the sentiment that culminated in adoption of the Bill of Rights' provisions embracing religious liberty,” and that the principles were as apt at the time of the Court’s decision as they had been when the First Amendment was originally passed in 1792. Everson at 11.

The Everson Court also provides a list of state actions which violate the Establishment Clause. Everson at 15-16. The Court does not present this list as comprehensive, but rather as a minimal list of activities prohibited by the First Amendment. These include:
-setting up a state church
-passing laws which specifically aid one religion or aid religions generally
-forcing or otherwise influencing individuals to attend or not attend church
-punishing people for ascribing to certain beliefs or disbeliefs or for attending or not attending church
-taxes levied to support religious institutions or activities
-governmental participation in religious organizations or participation by religious organizations in governmental activities

The Lemon Test:
The three-part test enunciated in Lemon v. Kurtzman which is used to asses whether a law violates the Establishment Clause.

[No, this has nothing to do with the purchase of a used car.]

The three-part Lemon Test asks:
(1) Does the law have a secular purpose? If not, it violates the Establishment Clause.
(2) Is the primary effect either to advance religion or to inhibit religion? If so, it violates the Establishment Clause.
(3) Does the law foster an excessive governmental entanglement with religion? If so, it violates the Establishment Clause.

Note here that these are not factors which are employed in some balancing test, but rather, these are all requirements which must be met for a law to pass review. There must be a secular purpose, the primary effect must not be the aid or inhibition of religion, and there must be no excessive entanglement. If any of these three requirements are not met, the law violates the Establishment Clause. See e.g. Windmar v. Vincent, 454 U.S. 263, 272 (1981).

[This posting lists five “Examples”. I chose the two that easily get to the point.]

EXAMPLE (1) Westernstate University wants to allow student groups to meet in university buildings when the buildings are not otherwise in use for classes (which would create a limited public forum – see Subject 2). The school officials are confident that an open-forum policy which includes nondiscrimination would meet the first prong of the Lemon Test and would also avoid excessive entanglement thereby preventing any issues relating to the third prong of the test. The school is concerned, however, that allowing religious groups to use the space would have the primary effect of advancing religion. Following Windmar v. Vincent at 273, however, it is clear that “by creating a forum, the University does not thereby endorse or promote any of the particular ideas aired there” and therefore the proposed state action would pass all three prongs of the Lemon Test."

EXAMPLE (2) Southernstate’s legislature recently passed a law requiring that a copy of the Ten Commandments must be posted on the walls of public classrooms statewide. No public funds will be diverted for this purpose as the materials will all be privately donated. Below the last commandment on each poster the following words will be printed: “The secular application of the Ten Commandments is clearly seen in its adoption as the fundamental legal code of Western Civilization and the Common Law of the United States.” Despite this footnote and a legislative history which purported to enact the law for secular purposes, mere recitation of secular purpose is insufficient to prevent a first-prong Lemon Test failure and therefore an Establishment Clause violation. See Stone v. Graham, 449 U.S. 39 (1980).

©2003 - 2010 National Paralegal College

source credit:

Our Constitution has been reasonably kind to us over the years, and has withstood many challenges for the right, and left, extremes of our political ideology. Starting in January of 2012, our Constitution will once again be under attack by those who would spin and twist it to their way of thinking and to their benefit. To those who are on that side of the fence, I say, ”Don’t even try to go there.”

Economic Depressions – 103

The Great Depression (1920–1940):
The following is a “summary” of events that occurred on our way to, during, and after our first Great Depression. I am calling it our “first Depression” because, as you read, it becomes painfully evident that we are, indeed, experiencing the exact same symtoms and ailments as those of the 1920’s, 1930’s, and 1940’s. Too many of us are under the impression that we are one little “stimulus”, or just a couple of years away from full recovery. Guess again, folks! The last sentence speaks volumes, and should scare the poop out of all of us.

source credit:
The Great Depression (1920–1940) – Overview
Beginning in 1929, the United States saw one of the most dramatic upheavals in its history, in just a few short years the nation crashed precipitously from the prosperity and glamour of the Roaring Twenties to the desperate hardship and poverty of the Great Depression. Never had the highs been higher or the lows been lower. The Great Depression—the worst economic crisis in the country’s history—left an indelible scar on American society and culture, causing millions of people to languish in joblessness, homelessness, and starvation for nearly a decade. In an American culture that measured self-worth by success, many breadwinners from the Roaring Twenties felt deep humiliation when they found themselves unable even to put food on their families’ tables. Even today, nearly every survivor of the Great Depression can still recall the feelings of hunger and desperation.

The Great Depression in the United States also caused a major worldwide depression, as virtually every industrialized economy—Britain, France, Italy, Germany, Japan, and others—was brought to its knees in the 1930s. The fiscally conservative U.S. government, led by then-president Herbert Hoover, refused to provide any direct relief to the masses. Britain and France took out their economic woes on Germany and demanded payment of exorbitantly large World War I reparations. In this sense, Germany was perhaps hit the hardest, as its economy had already experienced the devastating effects of hyperinflation before the U.S. stock market crashed in 1929. The German economy was saved from complete collapse—only temporarily—by the United States’ offer of the 1924 Dawes Plan to reschedule reparation payments. Even with the aid, the emerging German leader, Adolf Hitler, could only make vague promises to strengthen and revitalize the country’s failing economy.

Not until the presidency of Franklin Delano Roosevelt did the United States begin its long, slow recovery process. FDR’s New Deal policies and programs not only provided relief, recovery, and reform but also drastically changed the federal government’s role in politics and society. During FDR’s terms in office in the 1930′s, the federal government had unprecedented control over and direct involvement in the daily lives of American people. Many critics denounced the New Deal, saying that the policies were transforming the United States into a welfare state. Indeed, the budget deficit skyrocketed every year and the national debt more than doubled in just ten years. Roosevelt applied the economic theories of John Maynard Keynes to his new domestic policies, and the positive results were so widespread that even long after the Great Depression was over, Democrats continued to fight for more government intervention in the economy, greater redistribution of wealth, and increased aid for the neediest.
Despite the criticism that the New Deal attracted, its policies and legislation must be considered a success simply by virtue of the fact that they enabled millions of Americans to survive the Great Depression. Unlike his Republican predecessor, Hoover, Roosevelt’s goal was to help as many Americans as possible, regardless of Congress’s or the Supreme Court’s disapproval. Whereas Hoover’s perspective had been to wait for the storm to pass and let the economy correct itself, Roosevelt took immediate action, passing legislation that created new jobs, constructed houses and shelters, and handed out food to the hungry. Roosevelt did not stop with the average American: he helped inflate agricultural commodity prices in order to assist farmers, he helped banks return to solid ground, and he greatly improved the national infrastructure through public works programs.

Despite these numerous benefits, however, the New Deal ultimately failed to end the Great Depression. More than ten years after the Crash of 1929, millions of Americans were still hungry, homeless, and unemployed. Some historians argue that Roosevelt could have ended the depression completely if he had put more federal dollars into the economy, but this conclusion is debatable. The depression ended only after the United States entered
World War II in 1941, when the increased demand for wartime commodities such as ships, tanks, and munitions gave the U.S. economy the jump start it needed.

This link will give a more detailed description of what happened back then. If you can stand it, please read this in its entirety. You may come away from it as I did with the feeling that, except for the dates and a few names, we are experiencing the same environment today. “Double Dip Recession” should be an ice cream selection, not a description of our current economic situation.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

CCXXXV Years Ago

There are many idiomatic phrases that could apply to my next topic. The truth of the matter is that, after 235 years, we have come full circle.
A scant five generations ago, some folks here on the East Coast got a little frustrated with constantly having to pay taxes, and not having any say as to what those monies were spent on, or where they went. The receivers of those tax dollars were above the fray, and felt that no explanation was necessary to any upstart traitor from a colony.
These days, we certainly don’t worry to much about having to pay a tax when we purchase a bag of tea. I don’t think we are ready to toss all our tea into the “drink”.

But, that was then, and this is now. The games have changed and the stakes are a little bit higher this time around. Some things in life simply go around and around, and I think we may have come full circle on this one. As I have predicted for well over a year, there is finally revolution in the air; and, on the streets. Our captains of industry have finally raped and pillaged the resources of this Country to a point where We The People simply have no choice , but to revolt and reclaim what has been unlawfully and unethically taken from us. The robber barons of Wall St. finally have it all, and they aren’t going to give back without a fight. So, I guess, it’s a fight we’ll just have to give them.

The Second American Revolution has started. As with most revolutions, our Second one has given us the proverbial “shot heard ‘round the World”. The ongoing protest and symbolic “occupation” of Wall St. (New York City) has heralded the start of something big; really big.

The battle cry is even the same: “No Taxation Without Representation”. This coming month of October will let us know whether the Movement is catching on with the folks most affected by our current state of economic affairs. The winter environment may dim the participation some, but the fire will remain smoldering, at least. Cherry blossom time in Washington, D.C. may signal a rebirth of the strength that made this Country great. The timing couldn’t be better. 2012 being a “general” election year, “We The People” will be able to change everything that brought us to this place of economic depression. We will have the opportunity to recreate our manufacturing base and our Middle Class. We will have the chance to remold the shape of our Foreign Policy. We will have a chance to bring a democracy to our Nation in the manner to which our Constitution ascribes. We will have a chance at peace in our lifetime. And, once again, we will have a chance to be the envy of people around the globe; this time for all the right reasons.

So, what’ll it be America? Could we see the dog wagging its tail, or are we quite happy to continue letting the tail wag the dog? You can still watch Dancing with the Stars and, at the same time take a stand, use your voice, and use your vote; your voice and your vote still count!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Political Parties (5 reasons We The People don’t need them)

1]       Why are We The People beholden to any particular political party?

2]       Why do We The People have a burning desire to be pigeon holed as a Democrat, Republican, Right To Lifer, Tea Drinker, etc.?

3]       Why can’t the “politicians” lay claim to a certain platform and We The People simply vote for the “politician” we feel will get the job done?

 4]       Why can’t We The People show up at the polling place of our choice, produce a photo ID as proof of citizenship, and cast our votes?

5]       Why is one “politician” allowed to raise and spend more than another? Why can’t “politicians” be given, or restrained, to spending the same amount, and let We The People decide who will craft our laws and National agenda?

Alright, I’ll stop with the questions. Here may be some possible answers.

 *1]    Nowhere is it written in stone that We The People must adhere to, or pledge allegiance to, any political party.

*2]     In the spirit in which this Nation was founded, We The People should be naturally inclined to express our individualism, especially when it comes to politics.

*3]     This would be so much less complicated, and it would certainly reflect the choices of We The People.

*4]     There are already in place a number of forms for providing proof of citizenship, and to elect local “politicians” you would, by all probability, be casting your vote within your local area. If not, you would be restricted to voting only for the Presidency and the Vice-Presidency

*5]     Let’s  keep the campaign spending within reasonable grasp of  anyone who desires to enter elected public service. We allow the following amounts for the stated positions:

          a]       President = $500,000.00

          b]      Senator = $250,000.00

          c]       U.S. Representative = $125,000.00

          d]      Governor = $200,000.00

          e]       State Legislator = $100,000.00

          f]       County Legislator = $75,000.00

          g]       Town/Village Legislator = $50,000.00

These amounts are maximum amounts, and it will be illegal for    any lobbyist, or corporation, to donate to anyone of these categories. There will be no “political action committees”. There will be no committees, or associations, or any other type of organized group in respect of the election process, with the exception of political Parties. And, last, but not least, the “electoral college” will be a thing of the past. The “electoral college” is an outdated, useless vehicle in the voting process. The “electoral college” assumes we are all idiots, and could never be trusted to pick qualified National leaders. The Federal Communications Commission will not get involved with the question of  “equal time” for all those campaigning for elected office.

Any other points of view, thoughts, or comments on this subject are welcomed.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Constitution - 101

I have read, and re-read, the constitution, and nowhere, in its entirety, does it make mention of a National Savings/Retirement program. Neither does it mention anything whatsoever about a National Health Care Administration for people in need and Seniors. This goes for administering Unemployment Insurance, and long term disability, as well.

The social programs we have in place are neither “constitutional”, or “unconstitutional”. The U.S. Constitution has absolutely nothing to do with Social Security, Medicaid, Medicare, Unemployment Insurance, or Long Term Disability. All these programs were enacted into law by Congress and a Presidential signature; hence, they are Legislative in nature and substance. A society that adheres to a political democracy and a free market capitalistic economic structure implicitly mandates these programs.

I suppose all interpretations are open when someone states “fact”. With that in mind, I have a question that is making my head hurt. Why is anyone calling the Social Security, Medicaid, Medicare, and Unemployment Insurance unconstitutional? I keep hearing that this a country based on the rule of law. Why not stick to that when it comes to properly identifying what is “law” versus what is an “entitlement”. Our Constitution states very clearly what We The People are entitled to. It does not get bogged down in the minutia and detail of specific laws.

No inference can be made to a Constitution when discussing a law. Government and social conduct can be discussed as being legal, or illegal, not constitutional, or unconstitutional unless there is a breach of actual constitutionality in conduct or action.

From this point forward, can we all agree to stick to the actual, printed facts when it comes to attacking some of the very basic and popularly accepted ways in which We The People choose to live?