Wednesday, January 23, 2013

It's midnight... do you know what your Senate is doing?

Several months ago, if I searched for "HR 3590," links would appear that would point to at least one or two sources for "The Service Members Home Ownership Tax Act of 2009." Now that appears to have been changed and everything related to HR 3590 only points to "The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act." Why is this important? Well... HR 3590 was the originating bill, sponsored by Charlie Rangel, that somehow morphed into the PPACA, aka Obamacare.

Origin of a revenue bill.

As required by the Constitution, all revenue generating (i.e. power to tax) legislation must originate in the House in order to be legal. On September 17, 2009, Rep. Charles Rangel introduced HR 3590 (see original 8-page bill here, as passed by the House) which was titled the "Service Members Home Ownership Tax of 2009." The bill passed unanimously in the House on October 8, 2009 and was sent to the Senate. Similar legislation was introduced to the Senate in the form of S.1728 on September 20, 2009 and promptly died and was referred to Committee.

The Transformation

Sometime between October 13, 2009 (when the bill was placed on the Senate calendar) and November 19, 2009, HR 3590 was placed on the Senate's operating table and was stripped of ALL resemblance to the original bill. On November 19, 2009, HR 3590 was reintroduced -- "as amended" -- into the Senate as the "Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act" while still wearing the disguise as the original text. Compare HR 3590 as it was placed on the Senate calendar versus how it was presented, as amended, on November 19, 2009).

Note that the original bill, as passed in the House, was only 8-pages, however by the time it got to the Senate floor, it had grown to over 2,000 pages.

The Ruse

This is the trickery that was used by the Obama administration, and the Reid Senate, to get the PPACA started with the revenue (i.e. taxing) power without presenting it for what it was in the House. The original HR 3590 passed the house unanimously, giving the bill... under name only... the power to create taxes to generate revenue to pay for the provisions of the bill. The move by the Senate to gut the bill, in its entirety with exception to the "enacting clause," is masterful deception (see the very first page, below, of HR 3590 as presented on November 19, 2009)

This Senate version of the bill passed with a vote of 60-39 and was sent back to the House for a vote on December 24, 2009. The House finally passed the bill (see the final bill as passed) on March 21, 2010 (with Democrats firmly in control of the House), receiving zero Republican votes and losing 34 Democrat votes. So the big question should be... how does a bill go from 8-pages and unanimous support in the House, to over 2,000 pages and zero Republican support in a period of a few months? This is how the Obama government works folks... like it or not. This is how they will bend in any direction to get what they want... all for the "good of the people." [Read on past the graphic below...]

Note the three items above:
Who proposed the changes;
How they gutted the bill except for the enacting clause;
How they changed the title and the entire purpose of the bill.

Parting Shot

It might be noted that President Obama signed this bill into law on March 23, 2010... just two days after it passed the House and Senate in its final form. This is yet another violation of his promise to let all bills sit on his desk for 5 days before signing them...

"When there is a bill that ends up on my desk as president, you will have five days to look online and find out what's in it before I sign it." (then Presidential Candidate Barack Obama, Manchester, NH, JUNE 22, 2007)

Monday, January 14, 2013

A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Constitutional Convention...

Years ago, I heard someone famous say that (and I'm paraphrasing) the reason we have so many laws that align with common sense is that someone decided that the government needed to enforce the things we're no longer willing to do for ourselves. It is precisely this sentiment that drives my complete opposition to the idea of mandated term limits, as I'll explain below.

Waiting In Line for Bread While Eating A Donut
We don't need term limits. We already have them. The idea that we need mandated (i.e. legislated) term limits is pretty absurd to me. The Constitution already provides for a regularly scheduled removal/approval process for our Representatives and Senators. Anyone who denies this is apparently unfamiliar with the voting process. Some will say that I'm being naive about this and that the American voter is too apathetic to properly work the process nowadays. I argue just the opposite. I say that those pushing for mandated term limits aren't giving the process a chance and aren't thinking the idea through very well. Asking for something that we already have in our hands is pretty lame. What we need to be doing is encouraging voter responsibility and understanding that there are other people in the room who may vote differently than us, no matter how sure we are that they're wrong.

What About The Good Ones?
Most of the knee-jerk, emotional crying for Term Limits fails to consider the Good Ones... those Representatives and Senators who truly are doing a good job of representing the voice of those they serve. They may be far and few between, but they're still there. When we cry that the government should not punish all of the people because of the actions of a few, we should take the same stance when thinking of our government. There's a reason why some members of Congress continue to get re-elected... it's because the people they represent (at least a majority of the voters) ask them to stay, like it or not. If we grow tired of the ones we have in power, then it's our JOB to elect someone new. The real problem is that nobody WANTS their job.

I believe that our Founders left out mandatory term limits on purpose. They had the faith that the good people of the United States would WANT to be involved with their government and would keep it under control by using the tools they had been given. They did, after all, consider the Constitutional government of the United States as a great experiment.

Danger, Will Robinson! Danger! Danger!
Mandated Term Limits, especially on such a broad scale as within both chambers of Congress could have some disastrous effects that most people simply aren't willing to examine. Think about this. Think about having half of the government changing jobs, by force, every 2-6 years. Think about all of the works in progress that will have to be abandoned and handed off to new people who haven't been involved in the process. Think of all the bridges that will be burned in the turnover. If you think that they don't get anything done now, just wait until good relationships between lawmakers are forcibly broken because we, the people, became too complacent to be involved in the process. Think of the corruption... when a Senator of questionable morals or scruples is facing mandatory firing and decides that he or she will do anything they possibly can to mess things up as much as possible... either out of spite or for their own personal benefit... or both. The result of mandatory term limits will be "Lame Duck Syndrome" on a massive scale.

What will we do when we suddenly lose a good Representative, who has been serving the people well, to someone of little experience and questionable character simply because we have to put "someone" in the seat? How will the people react to the practice of "selective grooming" by the corrupt politicians to ensure that "their heir" is the one elected to fill their seat? The dangers of mandated term limits FAR outweigh their perceived benefits. 

Mirror, Mirror
So what do we do? Well, we get involved in ensuring that the people elected to office truly represent our beliefs and listen to us instead of telling us what they want to do. We get involved by holding those we elect accountable for their actions. We do a double check of the reflection in the mirror and make sure we're not being too hypocritical. It's often said that those currently in government are out of control and not representing the public, but there's considerable proof that the opposite is true. We have a government addicted to credit and spending without limits, while a majority of U.S. households are deep in debt, but continue to spend record amounts on non-necessities. We have a government rife with scandal: drugs, infidelity, tax cheats, deceitfulness... and yet we fill our evenings in front of the television to watch shows centered around the same things. Our very lives are full of the same things and we glorify it on television but are shocked when it happens in Congress. 

Reality Check
No, friends, the solution is not term limits. The solution is looking around at our very surroundings... at our peers... at ourselves, and understanding that we are all flawed and no matter who we elect, they're probably going to be flawed too. We have to get involved. We have to replace Dancing With The Stars with educating ourselves as to how our government is supposed to operate. We have to put focus on the States and strip the federal government of so much authoritative power that is has assumed over the decades. We need to come to terms with the fact that this is supposed to be the government "of the people" and that if we fail to take an active, involved, and educated part in it, then we will, indeed lose the Republic that was given to us. Term limits will not do this for us... only we can do it.

Friday, January 11, 2013

The Audacity of Thinking

Over the past few weeks, um... years, this country has been deeply divided on the huge issue of gun control, mostly due to horrible incidents involving young, white males walking into schools or malls and shooting lots of people. Each time this happens, the flames of rhetoric rise up on each side of the argument and the raging debates (or blind arguments) begin. We see lots of statistics thrown around about hammers and England. We see lots of screaming hot-headed radio talk show hosts, foreign commentators (who seem to know what's better for our country because of what goes on in theirs, even though they choose to live here), the proud and defiant public, and -- of course -- the super-informed and educated politicos from the entertainment world.

All parties involved have already set their minds on how they think gun control should be and aren't going to change their minds or the minds of those they're against. To each, their mission is to recruit more ill-informed and emotional citizens to their side as fast as they can to secure "their vote" for the cause. The bigger problem with this is that in the middle, screaming for attention, is the Constitution. It's not just with this situation, but with almost all major social issues that have arisen in the past 3-4 decades, at least. I'll explain.

Most American citizens now view our Constitution, somewhat at least, as an old archaic document written by old white guys a long time ago. Judging by public opinion and the current state of our Federal Government, most apparently believe that these old white guys were ignorant about progress and couldn't imagine anything past beeswax candles for producing light or bloodletting for curing disease. Truth of the matter is that they were all smart fellows living in one of the most productive ages in American history in respect to invention and technological (non-electronic) advances. Most citizens have this opinion because the media or someone else has told them so. It pangs me that 300 million people in this great country have no idea how we got here and what it is that provides the very core of our freedoms... and they don't seem to care.

Most Americans also have no concept of the timeline of our Constitution or the Bill of Rights. The Constitution was not written and approved at just a couple of meetings and then signed in 1776. In fact, it took years of collaboration and intentional debate and wasn't signed and ratified until September 17, 1787 -- over a decade after the Declaration of Independence. Furthermore, the Bill of Rights wasn't adopted until December, 1791. All parts of the Constitution and the structure of our Federal Government (remember the "checks and balances?") were well thought out and intentional. They were constructed to form a new style of government... giving power to the people and the states and preventing one part of the Federal body from wielding unfettered and unstoppable power.

Why is any of this important to the gun control debate?

Well, for starters, I give you the Girandoni Air Rifle, circa 1779 (that's over a decade BEFORE the passage of the 2nd Amendment, for the math challenged reading this). This rifle was carried on the Lewis and Clark expedition and had a high capacity magazine of 30 rounds and could fire them as fast as the operator could drop a new 46-calibre ball from the magazine (via gravity feed) into the firing chamber. It was as effective as the modern .45 ACP (I used several sources, readily found on the internet... none of which were blogs). The argument that the Founders could never have imagined the "assault weapons of today" is pretty absurd. That's about the same as someone from 100 years in our future saying that there's no way we could have imagined "laser beams" or "landing on Mars."

Secondly, there is a lot of talk about repealing the 2nd Amendment or rewriting it for modern times, or worse, overriding the basic provisions of the amendment (for the greater good) through executive order and selective, interpretive reading. The Founders knew this would happen and took strides to put in fail-safe measures, but measures that must be used correctly to be effective. They made the process of repealing an amendment difficult in order to keep "heat of the moment" emotions and knee-jerk reactions from causing damage to the foundation of the nation. They put in specific processes to prevent one man or woman from having the power to change things at a whim... a very real danger we are facing today.

My intent here is not to debate whether you are for or against gun control. It's to defend the Constitution and the due process that should be allowed to take place. I am not going to change the minds of those who are hell-bent on taking every gun and all ammo, down to the last BB, away from every American citizen, and I'm not going to ease the stance of those who have more semi-automatic weapons in their house than socks in their drawers. What I hope to do is encourage everyone to look at the Constitution for order, for guidance and structure... in its purest form. The Constitution is not a living document, as some like to claim... it is a foundation to build upon, not to chip away. It was designed to be built upon by the process of Amendment, which requires the voice of the people... not to be malleable by the so many hammers as might whack at it under the fury of the moment.

I urge you all to step back from the heat for a bit and look at the bigger picture. Whether you are for or against gun control, for whatever reason, be willing to look at the process. Be willing to accept that the 2nd Amendment is real, it was intentional, it was written with forethought as well as with historical consideration, and it was written to protect the citizens. Be willing to admit that, if it needs to be changed or repealed, that it must at least be done in the proper manner... and understand that alteration, dismissal or overriding by any other means is treasonous and renders the rest of our rights as equal targets.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

20 Questions to Help Me Understand

I find myself trying to understand how the people of this nation can be so far apart on basic issues regarding the condition of our country. It baffles me that so many people have chosen to support, and re-elect, a man who has demonstrated such disregard for truth in even the smallest matters... a man who promised transparency, yet has excelled in hiding or spinning things.

I need help understanding this, and getting answers from his supporters. I'm asking all of my liberal, moderate and otherwise non-conservative friends to help me understand by answering the following questions. This note is not intended to be trite or sarcastic... I'm seeking real input.

1. How many times has President Obama allowed a bill to stay on his desk for a 5-day waiting period before he signed it into law? This was a promise he made in the 2008 election cycle and I find no evidence that he has done this at all.

2. Is Gitmo still open?

3. In his first term, did President Obama cut the deficit in half, as promised? If not, what is the status of that deficit?

4. How many former lobbyists are currently, or have been, in Obama's cabinet or on his staff? He made a promise in the 2008 election cycle to hire none of these types of people, yet sources indicate the contrary.

5. What's the current unemployment rate and how many months has it been over 8% in the last 4 years?

6. What percent of our GDP is our current national debt?

7. How many days, in 2012 alone, was President Obama out of the White House... including his "chair" that's supposedly occupied?

8. How many times does "separation of church and state" appear in the U.S. Constitution?

9. How many times does "Congress shall make no law" appear in the U.S. Constitution?

10. Which amendment to, or portion of, the U.S. Constitution gives the federal government the authority to mandate health insurance for every citizen?

11. How many more months or years will pass before President Obama admits that his administration knew about the attacks on Bengazi while they were happening and yet they chose to do nothing?

12. Is 10% of $1,000,000 more or less than 10% of $50,000?

13. Have you ever heard of Greece or Spain?

14. Where is the funding going to come from that will pay for Obamacare and the other social programs that the Federal Government wants to run?

15. Do you know what H.R. 3590 was and what it did? **This one is VERY important!!**

16. Can you name one program that the government runs more efficiently than its private sector counterpart?

17. Can you tell me what "enumerated" means and how it applies to our Federal Government?

18. How many times has the Senate passed a budget in the last 4 years?

19. Have you ever worked for a person who runs a company and makes $20,000 per year? If so, what kind of business was it?

20. What percentage of U.S. spending is currently borrowed from other countries, like China?