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Archive for the ‘constitutional issues’ Category

This week President Barack Obama ordered the assassination of American citizen Anwar al-Awlaki. The Obama government has “linked” al-Awlaki to Ft. Hood gunman Nidal Malik Hasan and underwear bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, and considers him an “imminent threat to national security”. Al-Awlaki is believed to be hiding in Yemen.

Pay attention here, people. A very important line has been crossed. Not even King George W. Bush ever ordered the assassination of an American citizen. Not even FDR, when putting thousands of Japanese-Americans in prison camps, publicly proclaimed that one of them be speedily executed without a trial. With this order, Barack Obama has chosen not only to violate the Ford/Carter/Reagan ban on political assassinations, but also the 5th and 6th amendments to the United States Constitution. In case you don’t recall those, I’ll post them here:

Amendment V

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.

[The “time of war or public danger” argument won’t work here; the United States Congress has not declared war on any one, nor have they declared us to be in a time of public danger.]

Amendment VI

In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defence.

We have crossed over into uncharted territory. From this point forward, American citizenship no longer protects said citizens from assassination by their own government. The Constitution has again been reduced to so much toilet paper, and all in the name of “keeping us safe”. Do you feel safer?

I don’t.

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As the House of Representatives and the Senate debate how to governmentalize our health care system, voices of private experts are arguing for a move in the opposite direction. The following 4 videos were put together by the Campaign for Liberty and feature Peter Schiff, Dr. Rand Paul, and Judge Andrew Napolitano.

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ArrowsHello, dear readers. Sorry for the long hiatus, but it has been a very busy summer here in my Sleepy household. Time has been so short and things have been changing so quickly in our republic that it seems to write in depth about any one event would be to do injustice to all of the others. Instead I have been watching events unfold, as I am sure you have, and intend to speak to some of the larger issues in the near future.

Today I had a brief online conversation with a young aspiring politician whose acquaintance I have made. Our topic was the legitimacy of the laws prohibiting the use of marijuana. Early in the conversation he made the following statement:

Fortunately we still have a government that (somewhat) believes in the rule of law, protecting its citizens, and upholding morality–which is, after all, the purpose of government.

I was passingly disturbed by his claim that “upholding morality…is…the purpose of government”, not to mention the absurd claim that “our government believes in the rule of law”, but I let it pass at the time, as the debate was headed in a different direction. However, I feel that this sentiment is shared by many who have not spent a lot of time carefully thinking about the shape of American morality and the government’s role in promoting it.

Let’s go back in time for a moment. It is indeed true that our nation was founded on Judeo-Christian principles. It is also true that many (but not all) of our founding fathers were practicing Christians or Deists, although in some cases I am playing it a bit fast and loose with the term “practicing”. For the sake of brevity I will not go into details, but do a little research on the personal lives of Alexander Hamilton, Thomas Jefferson, and Benjamin Franklin and you will get the gist. The point is that the United States was founded by men who believed, though didn’t always practice, the Christian concepts of morality. In this sense the United States has been, from its birth, a Christian nation.

As time passed, Americans tried several times to unsuccessfully legislate “Christian morality” from the seat of government. The most obvious example was the 18th amendment to the Constitution (repealed by Amendment 21) which outlawed intoxicating liquors. Other issues held dear and vehemently defended by early Americans on moral grounds such as slavery and exclusive male suffrage were overturned as well. In our own time the prohibition of recreational drugs (though not tobacco, which is responsible for over 400,000 deaths per year) has been hailed as a victory of national morality.

There is a clear line where issues of morality and government should meet. Laws prohibiting murder, assault, rape, and theft come to mind. These laws are clearly in line with Christian moral principles and they also prohibit one citizen from forcibly abusing the rights of another. As such, these laws are legitimate methods for the government to legislate morality. On the other hand, there are areas where the government should steer clear of enforcing morality through law. This is where I think things may get a little sticky for my friend, the young politician.

If we believe that the purpose of the government is to uphold morality, then it becomes clear that we must establish a solid and workable definition of the term “morality”. For many this is easy; they automatically jump to their Christian faith for this definition. They believe that the purpose of the government is to uphold, under established law and threat of force, the Christian values on which their faith is based. This would be perfectly agreeable if all Americans were Christians, or if all Americans were extremely easy going, or if the United States was a dictatorship, but none of these is the case. We are a land of many races, creeds, religions, and philosophies. Many have similar moral codes; some have very different moral beliefs or none at all. Fortunately for each of us, we are all still at liberty to believe what our families have believed for generations, or to head in a completely different direction. As thoroughly diverse Americans sharing and subject to the same laws we can not all possibly be forced to hold the same government mandated Judeo-Christian moral standard. We have declared ourselves to be the land of the free, not the land of the same, and, shockingly, not the land of the good.

By way of example, let’s look briefly at the issue of drug abuse. I hesitate to broach this subject because so many people I know will immediately jump to the wrong conclusions. Based on my Christian worldview, I do not believe that using recreational drugs is morally right. I believe that my body is the temple of the Holy Spirit and should therefore be treated with the utmost respect. I know from the experiences of family members and close friends how devastating drug abuse can be. However, I also am able to see that the way drug law has been implemented in the United States has been an absolute disaster. Billions of dollars have been wasted in the futile attempt to stamp out drug trafficking and distribution. Billions more have been spent feeding and clothing incarcerated non-violent drug abusers in America’s prisons. Still the situation is as bad if not worse today than the day Ronald Reagan declared the “war on drugs”. The facts are clear, his war has failed. On the other hand, hundreds of private treatment centers exist across this country that are making a difference in the lives of those affected by drug addiction. These centers often do not receive any public funds, yet somehow they are phenomenally successful. How on earth do they turn drug abusers around without tossing them in jail? The answer, of course, is morality.

That’s where my young friend, the politician, gets it so wrong. He still sees government as the enforcer of morality, the warrior of goodness, the savior of souls at gunpoint. He does not yet realize a key fact: government = force. You can not force morality on people. Christian morality is shared and taught through one on one communication of kindness, compassion, and love. That is why faith based drug rehabilitation programs are so successful. They teach abusers to respect themselves as servants of God. Private secular programs like AA and NA are also overwhelmingly successful because of personal transmission of clear moral principles. While they do not focus on Christ, they still impart to their members the importance of respect for the body, mind, and soul. Our morality is personal, not political. It should never be forced, by governments or individuals, on anyone who is not freely willing. The function of government is not to uphold morality through force of law. The function of government is to protect the rights of its citizens and give them the freedom to choose their own road. I happen to believe that those who freely choose a moral path will have a better life. I also believe that the more Americans turn to God to establish a moral heading, the stronger our nation will become. But Christian morality should be forced on no one; each should have a choice.

So don’t make the same mistake that my friend did. The next time you find yourself thinking “There should be a law against…” what you think is someone else’s moral shortcoming, remember that the government has not been established to enforce your moral standard. Each of us is free to choose; not even God forces us to follow Him.

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I think YouTube is one of the best tools to come along in years. I routinely search for videos on how to perform certain tasks that I am not quite sure about and usually someone on YouTube comes through for me. Of course you have to critically evaluate each video, but you can almost always find something that can help you.

I was looking for a review of a certain firearm some time ago, and I came across a prolific YouTube producer called Nutnfancy. He takes his YouTubing very seriously, calling his excellent series of videos “The Nutnfancy Project” or “TNP” for short. If you are into knives, guns, backpacking, mountaineering, survival, or just general outdoorsmanship, you should definitely check him out. Anyway, occasionally Nutnfancy gets political and philosophical. He released the following video called “Dangerous Things” a couple of days ago, and I thought it was especially excellent and worth re-posting here. It outlines the following philosophy:

dangerous things + proper skill set + personal responsibility = safe society

The first couple of minutes is Nutnfancy driving his car around, so you can skip to about 2:30 if you want. By the way, if you are a whiny nanny-state kind of person, don’t even bother watching.

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seatbeltI now officially live in a nanny state. I was proud that I lived in one of the 24 states that did not have mandatory seat belt legislation, but that all changed on June 30 when Arkansas residents became subject to a new primary seat belt law. Police officers are now allowed to stop drivers and issue citations for no other reason than failure to buckle a seat belt.

This is wrong. Anyone who knows a little physics knows what happens when an object the size of an automobile stops suddenly: the passengers inside will continue traveling at the same speed until they too are stopped by something, be it a seat belt or the windshield. This is called inertia. Anyone with any intelligence will choose to have their inertia curtailed by a seat belt rather than the windshield. However, your state government does not believe you have the capacity for this simple practice of self-preservation in your stupid little head. Therefore they saw fit to pass a law that forces you into compliance, wasting your state tax dollars in the process. It is not the government’s place to forcibly legislate intelligent decisions. It is not a public safety issue; those who choose not to buckle up endanger no one but themselves. It is an issue of your government wanting and getting more control over your life.

I wonder why our state government didn’t legislate that my hands must be at 10 o’clock and 2 o’clock on the steering wheel while they were at it. This would make me much safer, and I don’t really have any business deciding the position of my own hands anyway. Maybe I’ll call Representative Betts and suggest a 10 and 2 law. After all, none of you stupid Arkansans would have thought to keep your hands on the wheel yourselves.

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Heh, heh. These guys remind me of two actual people I know (you know who you are).

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audit-the-fedHere is a letter I wrote my Congressman, Vic Snyder, back on April 2:

 

Dear Congressman Snyder:

I notice that HR 1207, the Federal Reserve Transparency Act of 2009, has been growing in co-sponsors and is now up to 55. This includes both Republicans and Democrats, indicating the wide, bi-partisan appeal of such a basic thing as auditing the privately-owned banking system that was granted power to issue our currency.

One thing that is disheartening me at the moment is your failure to join in as a co-sponsor for this basic common sense piece of legislation. At a time of trillions of dollars of present and future taxpayer money being thrown around like confetti, it would behoove those charged with the Constitutional task of overseeing our money system (the legislative branch, the U.S. Congress) to perform their basic oversight function. It goes without saying that any sensible representative of the people would see the wisdom in understanding what types of assets are being used to back our currency, as we have already unconstitutionally left the gold and silver backed tender in debt payments as explicitly laid out in Article 1, Section 10 of the United States Constitution.

I will continue to follow this legislation online and I expect that, given the above mentioned basic facts of the matter, you will see the sensibility in adding your name, as a representative of the people of our district, as a co-sponsor in this long overdue bit of oversight of the heavily secretive Federal Reserve System.

Failure to act in this regard will indicate a breach of your responsibility under the Constitution and will force me and others who understand the facts of the matter to campaign heavily against you in the upcoming 2010 congressional election.

Thank you for doing the proper thing and supporting this common sense legislation. Again, HR 1207: The Federal Reserve Transparency Act of 2009.

Sincerely,
Garret Myhan

Well, it seems that the Congressman finally got around to reading my letter, because he signed on to H.R. 1207 today. Or maybe he just waited until a majority of his cronies in the House had sponsored it (the total number of co-sponsors is up to 242 now); apparently it is suddenly in fashion to audit the Federal Reserve, and I know how Dr. Snyder likes to be in fashion. Anyway, I’m quite sure that now I’ve seen everything, will wonders never cease, etc.

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