Archive for November, 2008

Judicial Activism Will Destroy Our Country

November 29, 2008

Black’s Law Dictionary defines judicial activism as “a philosophy of judicial decision-making whereby judges allow their personal views about public policy, among other factors, to guide their decisions, usually with the suggestion that adherents of this philosophy tend to find constitutional violations and are willing to ignore precedent.” (Source:  Wikipedia)

Basically, it means the misuse of judicial power.  This misuse of power happens anytime judges decide to make law instead of interpret law.  Our Constitution does NOT give the judicial branch of our government the power to make laws.  Article 1, Section 1 of the US Constitution says “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.” Article 3 of the US Constitution sets up and defines the power of the Judicial Branch of out government and nowhere does it give them the power to make law.

Before going any further, I must acknowledge the main objection many would mention at this point.  They would say that we have case law made everyday.  They would be correct but only in a sense.  Case law is basically a collection of interpretations of existing laws.  It should not create new laws that have not been through the proper legislative process.

The problem we face today is that we have courts (meaning judges) all over our country (at all levels) who have taken it upon themselves to overstep their constitutional authority and make laws based what the judges think should happen.  This is judicial activism and it will destroy our country.  As an example of how bad it has gotten I refer you to a recent editorial published by The Washington Times called Judicial Imperialism.

This article highlights two recent events of judicial activism.  Both involve judges furthering the gay agenda.  Both are worthy of mention but I am only going to focus on one in this post.  In California, the voters just passed a constitutional amendment (known as Proposition 8) defining marriage as being between one man and one woman.  This is the second time (Proposition 22 in 2000) a similar proposition has passed in California although the first was not a constitutional amendment.  The May 2008, the California Supreme Court ruled that Proposition 22 violated the state Constitution and was therefore invalid.  As such, the Court overturned the will of the people.  The people then proposed the constitutional amendment via Proposition 8.  It passed.

Now, it would seem the issue is settled.  The people of California have amended their state constitution to define marriage in the way they want.  It should be up to the judges to now interpret the laws in relation to what the state constitution says.  Not so fast, says the California Supreme Court.  The editorial explains the situation this way:

California voters passed Proposition 8, an amendment to the state constitution saying that the only “valid or recognized” marriages are between a man and a woman. Voters effectively reversed a California Supreme Court ruling that legalized that same-sex marriage – contrary to an earlier state-constitutional amendment passed by voters. Now the California Supreme Court is firing back. It has decided to hear arguments that, in effect, the constitutional amendment is unconstitutional.  (Emphasis added by Tom)

I can’t help but ask the obvious question.  How can a constitutional amendment, which has been passed following the prescribed methods to amend the constitution, be said to be unconstitutional?  On what basis can such a claim be made?  They can’t appeal to the state constitution because it now contains the provision in question.  By definition, the amendment would now have to be deemed constitutional.

The article points out the those wanting to invalidate the constitutional amendment will base their argument on the fact that “voters decided on a question that they were not supposed to decide on”.  This is a huge stretch.  It should be thrown out.  The problem is that this challenge will almost certainly end up in the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.  This is court is widely known for how liberal it is.  The judges there are definitely not strict constructionists.  If a single judge, or even a group of judges, seek to invalidate the will of the people in this situation then that will be an example of judicial activism.

What can be done about judicial activism?  At this point in time, I am not sure that it can be corrected.  We have gone very far down this slippery slope and maybe too far to ever recover.  The only possible hope is for the judiciary to be returned to it’s constitutional authority in which it seeks only to interpret laws and not impose the will of the individual judges on the people.  I do not know how to do this.  I don’t have much hope of ever getting back to this.  If you have any ideas, leave then in the comments section and we can discuss them.

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Blowing The Horn Of Plenty

November 27, 2008

cartoon-hornofplenty

Written by William Warren @ NetRightNation Blog

Has The Federal Government Exceeded Its Constitutional Authority

November 26, 2008

“I consider the foundation of the Constitution as laid on this ground that ‘all powers not delegated to the United States, by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states or to the people.’ To take a single step beyond the boundaries thus specially drawn around the powers of  Congress, is to take possession of a boundless field of power, not longer susceptible of any definition.”

—Thomas Jefferson (Opinion on the Constitutionality of a National Bank, 15 February 1791)

This quote came to me via email from PatriotPost.us.  I signed up months ago to get their daily email of founders quotes.  It is sometimes “eye opening” to read these quotes.

Notice what Jefferson says about what will happen if the federal government goes beyond it’s defined authority.  Do we really want our federal government to have a “boundless field of power“?  I think we have passed that point.  I think our federal government has taken hold of that “boundless field of power“.  Once it did, there is no returning to the Constitution?  What do you think?  Agree or disagree?  Vote in the poll and leave a your comment.

Tax Evasion Is Illegal, Tax Avoidance Is Not

November 25, 2008

In any event, Congress long ago decided that corporations should pay taxes on their profits, before distributions are made to shareholders, and no Congress since has seen fit to rescind those laws. Instead, special interests have peppered the tax code with a zillion little dodges that allow something like 65% of all corporations to avoid paying any taxes at all. And their owners and stockholders also enjoy lots of loopholes through which they too avoid paying anything like the percentage of their income that the law specifies. When it’s said that only individuals pay taxes, it should be specified that only salaried individuals who lack access to these loopholes truly pay their fair share.

But most Americans don’t realize the extent to which the law is being evaded, because the corporate income tax continues on the books and most of us are gullible enough (as Paul Harvey correctly observed) to assume they are being collected – because it’s the law!  [emphasis added by Tom, not the author of the post]

This quote comes from another contributor to this blog (click here to read the post). He is replying to a previous post of mine in which I made the case that all taxes ultimately are paid by individuals (click here to read my post).

We must understand that tax avoidance is NOT tax evasion.  There is a world of difference between the two.  There is nothing wrong with tax avoidance.  In fact, I might argue that it is good fiscal management to pay as little tax as possible.  This applies to both business and individuals.  Also, contrary to Joe Biden’s comments during the recently concluded Presidential campaign, paying more in taxes does not mean we are more patriotic.  If it did, then why don’t people who believe that way send in more in taxes than they owe?  The government will not turn it down.

The author of the quote above seems to be implying that it is illegal, and unethical, for businesses to minimize the amount of taxes they (or you) pay.  I must vehemently disagree with this implication.  It is actually “good business” to keep costs as low as possible.  Since taxes are a cost of doing business they should be kept to the minimum for the benefit of the business and the stockholders.

The “little dodges” referred to by the author are legal deductions or generally accepted accounting practices.  We can agree or disagree with them but they are still legal.  Their origin may have been special interest groups (not all are) but the very same Congress that passes tax legislation debates and approves each of these “little dodges“.  As such, Congress is directly responsible for them.

Next, we must deal with the idea that only salaried people pay their fair share of taxes.  This is false.  It completely ignores the accumulated taxes, from every stage of the manufacturing process, that are built into the end consumers purchase price for every product bought.  Thus, it can be said that every consumer pays their fair share.  The difference is that it is not paid directly to the government, it is paid to businesses who collect and remit the taxes to the government.

On a side note, the income tax in not the best system of taxation.  A sales tax if a much better option.  There are many reasons for this.  For more information on a national sales tax and the removal of all income taxes see the Fair Tax website.

Children and Taxes

November 24, 2008

On children and taxes

            Some months ago I wrote in this space of the many ways in which Unicoi County’s children are dependent on the state government for various necessary services.  Here are details on a few of those ways.

·        Of every four children in Unicoi County, one (27.7%) lives in a family that depends on food stamps to meet its dietary needs.

·        Of every four children in Unicoi County, two (44.3%) are eligible for free or reduced price school lunches.

·        Of every four children in Unicoi County, two (45.2%) are enrolled in the Tenncare program.

·        Of every three children born in Unicoi County, only two (69.1%) received adequate pre-natal care.

·        Of every eight children born in Unicoi County, one (13.2%) is born to a teen-aged mother.

         

            In all but the last of these categories, Unicoi County doesn’t differ markedly from state wide averages.  In the last one the state wide average is 33.8%, so we’re well below that figure.  The point of this piece is not to single Unicoi County out as different, but to remind us just what it is that our tax dollars do.  Much state spending is apparent to its citizens: roads, new buildings, state police protection, and so forth.  But what the figures above makes clear is just how invisible a great deal of state spending really is.  I believe it is well for us, now and then, to quit bellyaching about taxes and consider what that money really goes for.  In the case of the programs listed above, it goes to feed and care for those of our children whose parents are unable to provide what their children deserve.

The figures quoted above are taken from documents published by the Tennessee Commission on Children and Youth.  February, 2008.  <www.tennessee.gov/tccy>

Thoughts on Corporate Taxation

November 23, 2008

            The first time I heard the “corporations don’t pay taxes” argument, it was proposed – with a dismissive chuckle – by Paul Harvey.  His seemed to wonder how anyone could be so stupid as to expect the very rich to provide a fair share of the nation’s income.

            That said, there is some truth to the theory.  Businesses can raise prices to cover the cost of taxes – unless, of course, they have genuine competition.  In that case, a competitor may decide to absorb the cost of the taxes in order to take customers from the business that refused to do so, gambling that increased volume will make up for low unit prices.  That is, if the business actually has any real competition.  In this age of merger-mania, many of the largest do not.

            In any event, Congress long ago decided that corporations should pay taxes on their profits, before distributions are made to shareholders, and no Congress since has seen fit to rescind those laws.  Instead, special interests have peppered the tax code with a zillion little dodges that allow something like 65% of all corporations to avoid paying any taxes at all.  And their owners and stockholders also enjoy lots of loopholes through which they too avoid paying anything like the percentage of their income that the law specifies.  When it’s said that only individuals pay taxes, it should be specified that only salaried individuals who lack access to these loopholes truly pay their fair share.

            But most Americans don’t realize the extent to which the law is being evaded, because the corporate income tax continues on the books and most of us are gullible enough (as Paul Harvey correctly observed) to assume they are being collected – because it’s the law!

             Another commentator would have us believe that the real estate bubble was caused by Democrats insisting that minorities ought not be discriminated against in the real estate market.  But one doesn’t need a real long memory to recall Bush extolling the virtues the “ownership society”.  It makes at least as much sense to blame conservatives who pushed home ownership because they thought owners would be more stable and would therefore lean more toward conservative political positions. 

            In fact, both parties share responsibility for the wave of deregulation that, in turn, has encouraged the financial sector to cast caution to the winds in an effort to make as much money as possible as soon as possible.  If a government allows a banker to take unwise chances, and the banker does so, it can hardly be the fault of only the government.  If the banker then misleads a prospective borrower, its takes a real stretch to identify the borrower as the only guilty party.

Last-minute Bush Abortion Ruling Causes Furor

November 23, 2008

A last-minute Bush administration plan to grant sweeping new protections to health care providers who oppose abortion and other procedures on religious or moral grounds has provoked a torrent of objections, including a strenuous protest from the government agency that enforces job-discrimination laws.

The proposed rule would prohibit recipients of federal money from discriminating against doctors, nurses and other health care workers who refuse to perform or to assist in the performance of abortions or sterilization procedures because of their “religious beliefs or moral convictions.”

It would also prevent hospitals, clinics, doctors’ offices and drugstores from requiring employees with religious or moral objections to “assist in the performance of any part of a health service program or research activity” financed by the Department of Health and Human Services.  (click here to read the full International Herald Tribune article)

And this is bad how?  Many of the people quoted in the article seem to say that this is an unnecessary regulation.  I can remember hearing stories of pharmacists being fired for not filling prescriptions for the “morning after pill”.  Click here and here to read about a couple such incidences.  So, it seems that this regulation may indeed be necessary. Sadly, Obama’s aides have already said they will try to rescind the regulation.  I hope they will be unsuccessful in that effort but I fear they will succeed.

You can make the argument that the pharmacists, doctors, etc. should have chosen another profession or discussed their beliefs on such issues with their employers prior to accepting the job and I would not dispute that as a valid point.  At the same time, we already have many protections in our country for various religious beliefs.  This regulation, on the face of it, seems to be basic commen sense.  Read the article and give me your opinion.

Abortion: How Is It Addressed In The 2008 Party Platforms?

November 23, 2008

For many conservatives, especially Christian conservatives, abortion is one issue that we cannot and will not compromise on.  Because we believe that life begins at conception, we have no choice but to extend the full protections of the law to all unborn babies.  But it is much more than legal issue, it is a moral issue.  It is a moral issue because of our belief that life comes as a gift from God.

The Constitution Party best represents my beliefs on abortion.  It is my belief that abortion should be illegal in all circumstances and in all forms.  Abortion actually amounts to child sacrifice.  I know that is harsh but I think harshness is called for.  The vast majority of abortions are elective or, if you prefer, a matter of convenience.  That means they are not necessary to save the life of the mother.  The other primary reason that is given as to why abortion should be legal are cases of rape and incest.  It is true that these are terrible situations and the woman involved is not at fault but neither is the unborn baby.  In no other instance do we punish (with the death penalty no less) the child for the crimes of the father.  But that is exactly what we do when we abort unborn children in the case of rape and incest.  You are free not to agree with me but you must justify this in any discussion we have.

Have you ever wondered what the party platform of the five biggest political parties say about abortion?  This post will give you what they actually say in their platforms.  I will quote the entire section from each platform for you to read and see which one might best fit your beliefs.

Democratic Party

Choice

The Democratic Party strongly and unequivocally supports Roe v. Wade and a woman’s right to choose a safe and legal abortion, regardless of ability to pay, and we oppose any and all efforts to weaken or undermine that right.

The Democratic Party also strongly supports access to comprehensive affordable family planning services and age-appropriate sex education which empower people to make informed choices and live healthy lives. We also recognize that such health care and education help reduce the number of unintended pregnancies and thereby also reduce the need for abortions.

The Democratic Party also strongly supports a woman’s decision to have a child by ensuring access to and availability of  programs for pre- and post-natal health care, parenting skills, income support, and caring adoption programs. [2008 Democratic Party Platform, SectionIII]

Republican Party

Maintaining The Sanctity and Dignity of Human Life

Faithful to the first guarantee of the Declaration of Independence, we assert the inherent dignity and sanctity of all human life and affirm that the unborn child has a fundamental individual right to life which cannot be infringed. We support a human life amendment to the Constitution, and we endorse legislation to make clear that the Fourteenth Amendment’s protections apply to unborn children.  We oppose using public revenues to promote or perform abortion and will not fund organizations which advocate it. We support the appointment of judges who respect traditional family values and the sanctity and dignity of innocent human life.

We have made progress. The Supreme Court has upheld prohibitions against the barbaric practice of partial-birth abortion. States are now permitted to extend health-care coverage to children before birth.  And the Born Alive Infants Protection Act has become law; this law ensures that infants who are born alive during an abortion receive all treatment and care that is provided to all newborn infants and are not neglected and left to die. We must protect girls from exploitation and statutory rape through a parental notification requirement. We all have a moral obligation to assist, not to penalize, women struggling with the challenges of an unplanned pregnancy.  At its core, abortion is a fundamental assault on the sanctity of innocent human life. Women deserve better than abortion. Every effort should be made to work with women considering abortion to enable and empower them to choose life. We salute those who provide them alternatives, including pregnancy care centers, and we take pride in the tremendous increase in adoptions that has followed Republican legislative initiatives.

Respect for life requires efforts to include persons with disabilities in education, employment, the justice system, and civic participation. In keeping with that commitment, we oppose the nonconsensual withholding of care or treatment from people with disabilities, as well as the elderly and infirm, just as we oppose euthanasia and assisted suicide, which endanger especially those on the margins of society. Because government should set a positive standard in hiring and contracting for the services of persons with disabilities, we need to update the statutory authority for the AbilityOne program, the main avenue by which those productive members of our society can offer high quality services at the best
possible value.  [2008 Republican Party Platform]

Constitution Party

Sanctity of Life

The Declaration of Independence states:

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness”.

The Preamble of the Constitution states a purpose of the Constitution to be to:

“secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity”.

We declare the unalienable right of Life to be secured by our Constitution “to ourselves and our Posterity“. Our posterity includes children born and future generations yet unborn. Any legalization of the termination of innocent life of the born or unborn is a direct violation of our unalienable right to life.

The pre-born child, whose life begins at fertilization, is a human being created in God’s image. The first duty of the law is to prevent the shedding of innocent blood. It is, therefore, the duty of all civil governments to secure and to safeguard the lives of the pre-born.

To that end, the Constitution of these United States was ordained and established for “ourselves and our posterity.” Under no circumstances may the federal government fund or otherwise support any state or local government or any organization or entity, foreign or domestic, which advocates, encourages or participates in the practice of abortion. We also oppose the distribution and use of all abortifacients.

We affirm the God-given legal personhood of all unborn human beings, without exception. As to matters of rape and incest, it is unconscionable to take the life of an innocent child for the crimes of his father.

No government may legalize the taking of the unalienable right to life without justification, including the life of the pre-born; abortion may not be declared lawful by any institution of state or local government – legislative, judicial, or executive. The right to life should not be made dependent upon a vote of a majority of any legislative body.

In addition, Article IV of the Constitution guarantees to each state a republican form of government. Therefore, although a Supreme Court opinion is binding on the parties to the controversy as to the particulars of the case, it is not a political rule for the nation. Roe v. Wade is an illegitimate usurpation of authority, contrary to the law of the nation’s Charter and Constitution. It must be resisted by all civil government officials, federal, state, and local, and by all branches of the government – legislative, executive, and judicial.

We affirm both the authority and duty of Congress to limit the appellate jurisdiction of the Supreme Court in all cases of abortion in accordance with the U.S. Constitution, Article III, Section 2.

In office, we shall only appoint to the federal judiciary, and to other positions of federal authority, qualified individuals who publicly acknowledge and commit themselves to the legal personhood of the pre-born child. In addition, we will do all that is within our power to encourage federal, state, and local government officials to protect the sanctity of the life of the pre-born through legislation, executive action, and judicial enforcement of the law of the land.

Further, we condemn the misuse of federal laws against pro-life demonstrators, and strongly urge the repeal of the FACE Acts as an unconstitutional expansion of federal power into areas reserved to the states or people by the Tenth Amendment.

In addition, we oppose the funding and legalization of bio-research involving human embryonic or pre-embryonic cells.

Finally, we also oppose all government “legalization” of euthanasia, infanticide and suicide. [2008 Constitution Party Platform]

Libertarian Party

1.4    Abortion

Recognizing that abortion is a sensitive issue and that people can hold good-faith views on all sides, we believe that government should be kept out of the matter, leaving the question to each person for their conscientious consideration. [2008 Libertarian Party Platform]

Green Party

Reproductive Rights

f.  Women’s rights must be protected and expanded to guarantee each woman’s right as a full participant in society, free from sexual harassment, job discrimination or interference in the intensely personal choice about whether to have a child.

g.  Women’s right to control their bodies is nonnegotiable. It is essential that the option of a safe, legal abortion remains available. The “morning after” pill must be affordable and easily accessible without a prescription, together with a government-sponsored public relations campaign to educate women about this form of contraception. Clinics must be accessible and must offer advice on contraception and the means for contraception; consultation about abortion and the performance of abortions, and; abortion regardless of age or marital status.

h.  We endorse women’s right to use contraception and, when they choose, to have an abortion. This right cannot be limited to women’s age or marital status. Contraception and abortion must be included in all health insurance policies in the U.S., and any state government must be able to legally offer these services free of charge to women at the poverty level. Public health agencies operating abroad should be allowed to offer family planning, contraception, and abortion in all countries that ask for those services. We oppose our government’s habit of cutting family planning funds when those funds go to agencies in foreign countries that give out contraceptive devices, offer advice on abortion, and perform abortions.

i.  We encourage women and men to prevent unwanted pregnancies. It is the inalienable right and duty of every woman to learn about her body and to be aware of the phases of her menstrual cycle, and it is the duty for every man to be aware of the functions and health of his and his partner’s bodies. This information is necessary for self determination, to make informed decisions, and to prevent unintended consequences. Unplanned conception takes control away from individuals and makes them subject to external controls. The “morning-after” pill and option of a safe and legal abortion need to remain available. [2008 Green Party Platform]

Okay, now we have seen how the five biggest parties address abortion in their own words.  Which one most closely resembles your beliefs on the issue?  Are you surprised by any of these?  The forcefulness of the Green Party’s position is surprising to me.  I guess because I am not as familiar with them as I am with some of the others.

What are you thoughts?

Constitution Party Platform Preamble

November 22, 2008

The Constitution Party gratefully acknowledges the blessing of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ as Creator, Preserver and Ruler of the Universe and of these United States. We hereby appeal to Him for mercy, aid, comfort, guidance and the protection of His Providence as we work to restore and preserve these United States.

This great nation was founded, not by religionists, but by Christians; not on religions but on the Gospel of Jesus Christ. For this very reason peoples of other faiths have been and are afforded asylum, prosperity, and freedom of worship here.

The goal of the Constitution Party is to restore American jurisprudence to its Biblical foundations and to limit the federal government to its Constitutional boundaries.

The Constitution of these United States provides that “no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.” The Constitution Party supports the original intent of this language. Therefore, the Constitution Party calls on all those who love liberty and value their inherent rights to join with us in the pursuit of these goals and in the restoration of these founding principles.

The U.S. Constitution established a Republic rooted in Biblical law, administered by representatives who are Constitutionally elected by the citizens. In such a Republic all Life, Liberty and Property are protected because law rules.

We affirm the principles of inherent individual rights upon which these United States of America were founded:

  • That each individual is endowed by his Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are the rights to life, liberty, property and the pursuit of happiness;
  • That the freedom to own, use, exchange, control, protect, and freely dispose of property is a natural, necessary and inseparable extension of the individual’s unalienable rights;
  • That the legitimate function of government is to secure these rights through the preservation of domestic tranquility, the maintenance of a strong national defense, and the promotion of equal justice for all;
  • That history makes clear that left unchecked, it is the nature of government to usurp the liberty of its citizens and eventually become a major violator of the people’s rights; and
  • That, therefore, it is essential to bind government with the chains of the Constitution and carefully divide and jealously limit government powers to those assigned by the consent of the governed.

Source:  Constitution Party Website

Majority of Americans Fail Basic Civics Exam

November 21, 2008

This is extremely sad but fits with what we are seeing in our country today.  National Review Online posted this story by Deroy Murdock highlighting how uninformed the American people are concerning basic civics.  The story is in response to a civics literacy exam given by Intercollegiate Studies Institute.  I guess I should not be but I was shocked reading some of the statistics.  I bet you will be too.

The results reveal that Americans are alarmingly uninformed about our Constitution, the basic functions of our government, the key texts of our national history, and economic principles.

  • Less than half can name all three branches of the government.
  • Only 21% know that the phrase “government of the people, by the people, for the people” comes from Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address.
  • Although Congress has voted twice in the last eight years to approve foreign wars, only 53% know that the power to declare war belongs to Congress. Almost 40% incorrectly believe it belongs to the president.
  • Only 55% know that Congress shares authority over U.S. foreign policy with the president. Almost a quarter incorrectly believe Congress shares this power with the United Nations.
  • Only 27% know the Bill of Rights expressly prohibits establishing an official religion for the United States.
  • Less than one in five know that the phrase “a wall of separation” between church and state comes from a letter by Thomas Jefferson. Almost half incorrectly believe it can be found in the Constitution. [Major Findings from Exam]

All I can say is….well I really have no words.  Murdock sums it up well at the end of his article

The grim results of ISI’s study reveal a crisis in this nation’s defining concept. In 1776, America’s Founding Fathers broke with Britain and established a country where men and women liberated from monarchic despotism would rule themselves — provided they were equipped with the requisite knowledge and wisdom. Will a people mesmerized by the televised humiliation of wannabe pop stars maintain this essential capacity for self-government? Thomas Jefferson’s warning remains as timely as ever: “If a nation expects to be ignorant and free . . . it expects what never was and never will be.” [full article here]

Take the exam yourself and see how you do.  Leave your results in the comments section.  For the record I scored 81.82% (27 out of 33 correct).  Of the 6 I missed, I should have gotten 3 more correct but I didn’t.

Is it time to for voters to have to pass an exam like this before being allowed to cast a vote?  You tell me…..