Thursday, June 30, 2011

Picker found a woman who makes him grin, and grin, and...

Songwriter C.J. Elliott sent me this title track from his latest album. I dig the guitar changes in it and the mantra about loving a woman - what that means - and all such as that. - The Legendary

Click the highlighted area to hear the tune.

To receive your own autographed copy of the CD, please send $ 13.50 (price includes S&H) to:

6020 Tonkowa Trail
Georgetown, Texas 78628

Torn from today's headlines! Pull cord to stop presses...

American voters overwhelmingly believe the economy stinks, and there's little belief that the stimulus plan was effective. In addition, most voters favor a balanced budget amendment -- except if it means program cuts or new taxes. ... Fox News

Daddy said, son, you know, that ain't no kid, why that's...

I said I know it, Dad, but that's just the kind I dig

Germany becomes first world power to abandon nukes

Japanese disaster at Fukushima influenced decision...

ATF whistleblower fired over Operation Gunwalker flap

Vince Cefalu, one of the agents who blew the whistle on BATFE participation in Operation Gunwalker, has been fired by the agency.

Guns were allowed to be sold to suspected "straw purchasers" who then smuggled the weapons into Mexico. Department of Justice officials allegedly encouraged the practice to "pad" the number of assault weapons from stateside gun stores that eventually found their way to Mexico in order to bolster the administration's claims that gun sellers are in part responsible for burgeoning crime on the other side of the border in which 40,000 persons have lost their lives over the past 4 years.

I got a home in Beulah Land, it outshine the sun...

Way beyond the blue...

FROM THE DESK OF SENATOR Charles E. Schumer (D-NY) at Democratic Headquarters

Special Report - "For 2012, the conservative Koch brothers have pledged to raise at least $88 million to fund an independent campaign to defeat Obmama, and the independent group American Crossroads, with Karl Rove as an adviser, has said it wants to raise at least $130 million for the cycle. That on top of the money that the...other traditional Republican-leaning interest groups are likely to spend." - Marc Ambinder, National Journal, March 29, 2011

"Dear fellow Democrat,

"The hard-right Republicans in control of the House of Representatives have set their sights on the demolition of workers' rights and the destruction of Medicare as well as a drastic reduction in the size of the federal government...

"But there's a big, brick wall standing between the GOP and their twisted vision. The Democratic Senate..."

Chrome-wheeled, fuel-injected and ay-ooga horns. too

Who wrote that Good Book? Algorithmic clues, etc...

JERUSALEM — Software developed by an Israeli team is giving intriguing new hints about what researchers believe to be the multiple hands that wrote the Bible. The new software analyzes style and word choices to distinguish parts of a single text written by different authors, and when applied to the Bible its algorithm teased out distinct writerly voices in the holy book.

The program, part of a sub-field of artificial intelligence studies known as authorship attribution, has a range of potential applications — from helping law enforcement to developing new computer programs for writers. But the Bible provided a tempting test case for the algorithm's creators....

From an AP report

Exploding price of farmland and precious metals...

"In 1933, FDR seized all the privately held gold in the U.S. and began creating the massive government programs necessary to implement socialism. To give you some idea of how much the federal government grew during FDR's reign, remember federal spending made up 3% of GDP in 1930 – a level that had been fairly consistent for most of America's history. Almost immediately after his election, he tripled federal spending to more than 10% of GDP. And by the time he died in office, federal spending reached 44% of GDP – an all-time high.

"These policies led to an acute funding problem in 1971, because the debts of socialism couldn't be financed with gold-backed money. It was far too expensive. And so we began a new kind of socialism… the New American Socialism.

"What happened in 1971? The size of America's government deficits forced us to abandon gold. After World War II, the U.S. dollar became the world's reserve currency. In exchange for placing the dollar at the center of the world's economy, we made a solemn promise to always exchange the U.S. dollar for gold at $35 an ounce.

"Nixon broke that promise, calling our creditors "global speculators" and telling them to go pound sand." - Porter Stansberry

July 8 target date for youth, Muslim Brotherhood

Arab Spring shooting for mid-summer confrontations downtown as elections loom

Cairo – Analysts are predicting the Egyptian military will field a candidate for president amid rising street clashes in Tahrir Square.

July 8 is reportedly the target date for the youth movement that occupied the streets calling for the ouster of Hosni Mubarak in January and February. Muslim Brotherhood spokesmen have promised not to run a candidate for president in the upcoming elections.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

U.S. 6th Circuit rules Obamacare constitutional

The U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati concluded that the Affordable Health Care Act of 2010 insurance requirement is constitutional.

"We find that the minimum coverage provision is a valid exercise of legislative power by Congress under the Commerce Clause," a 2-1 majority of the panel concluded, rejecting a challenge by the conservative Thomas More Law Center.

The law faces constitutional challenges in Virginia and Florida.

Lenny Bruce on theater, make-believe, and many things

Lenny Bruce's second from last stand up performance, or dribble, about how much he hates the police and how unfair his trial was around this time lenny had become so obsessed with his court case that he quite frankly lost his fundamental wit., it's not funny, and i have come up with some interesting findings in doing this, about people in general on youtube/the world, not Lenny. - HendrixOstat, May, 2009

Lenny Bruce tried to tell you many things before he died. - John Mayall

The Cowboy In The Continental Suit

Script for change as old and rocky as the Alamo

Third parties don't work – to effect change, “Take over” – Zimmerman

...And I'll know my song well before I start singing... - Robert Zimmerman, known as Bob Dylan, “A Hard Rain's a'Gonna Fall”

Belton – The guy stands up all alone, like a preacher or a teacher, and as he talks, the mind's eye slowly pulls back in long focus, one of those Orson Welles scenes shot in shadow and subtle shadings of light, a vignette around the edges, a picture in a picture that tells a story about a story.

Don Zimmerman is standing under a proscenium of a theater, a place where every bit of schtick, schmaltz, drama, climactic and shocking event, tragedy and comedy has been bought, taught, preached, told, sold, bought -resold, and re-bought. We are in the temple of drama, the house of feelings, of true emotions

He has a story, and it's a good one, this Zimmerman from San Antonio, this politician and activist from Austin.

It's all about his life, his mother and father and brothers.

He's talking back to the night; the night is listening.

As the story unfolds, you begin to see the drama of a story of tyranny acted out so long ago, it's become part of his personal myth, his odyssey and his ordeal – this redheaded and very sharp cookie from the Alamo City.

There is a hero in this story – to be sure. A fourteen-year-old brother who stood a foot taller than anyone else his age, knew how to drive, though he had no license, and ran the family business while Mr. Zimmerman's mother and father languished in jail.

A federal judge presiding in an IRS tax case against the couple put them there for contempt of court because they refused to testify against themselves in abrogation of their rights under the Fifth Amendment. IRS rules often compel defendants to do so if they have any reasonable expectation of getting out of trouble.

Mr. Zimmerman, senior, a San Antonio home builder with deep ties to the John Birch Society and the conservative politics of Senator Barry Goldwater, had no such illusions. He would stick by the principles of the Constitution, according to his son, and eschew the expedience of the deal, the compromise of the ideal, the abandonment of the desired freedom from tyranny.

So the kid took care of his smaller siblings by driving around in the family car, collecting the rent on properties the Zimmermans owned, and the family got by. Someone, somehow, somewhere, mercifully turned a blind eye. They left the kids in peace, let them live a little.

As the story unfolds, the view narrows its focus, you home in on the voice, the facial expressions, the gestures, and you realize you could be listening to such a story often told anywhere, any time, in areas as far flung as Warsaw, Leipzig, Kiev, London, Paris, Rome – or Okeechobee, for that matter.

Like, a pogrom is a pogrom. No way to sugar coat it. It is what it is.

Then comes the comic relief.

“My father always had a bumper sticker that read 'I love Ronald Reagan's speeches.'”

There is a small ripple of laughter, infra dig, in the Beltonian Theater, where the Reagan legacy strikes a resonant chord. Mr. Zimmerman has practiced his pitch early, often, long and hard. He knows how to tell the story and keep their attention, then move on.

The father's jest was not lost on his son, who similarly took his convictions as far as the United States Supreme Court – and won – at least partly – his rights to equal representation under the law.

The Central Texas Tea Party has gathered for its monthly meeting amid a coalition of Central Texas Conservatives, Bell County Republican Party Executive Committee, and the Tea Party. It's been a long time coming, but it represents a rapprochment slowly built by Wes Riddle and his cohorts in the Central Texas Tea Party.

The founding Chairman, former Colonel Wes Riddle, who is an announced candidate for the newly redrawn U.S. Congressional District 25, has just handed over the reins to his successors, and they are taking nominations for his replacement.

He's got other fish to fry as a candidate in a massively gerrymandered new and bodacious District 25, a 13-county area that stretches from Hill County to Burleson and a small part of Tarrant in that southern bedroom suburb of Cowtown, thence in a crescent that takes in Johnson, Somervell, Bosque, Hamilton, Burnet, Brown, Lampassas, Coryell, western Hayes and Travis. The new district is purposely redrawn through a swath of country rich in conservative politics and rock-ribbed Republicanism in order to eliminate the liberal representation of long-term Democratic Congressman Lloyd Doggett of Austin.

Hence, the appearance of Don Zimmerman, an Austin software engineer who has organized Precinct Chairmanships far and wide – a skill he learned at his dad's knee.

“It's a political office,” he says of the position. “You're an elected official.”

He knows the power of that concept.

As an elected official of the Canyon Creek Municipal Utilities District, he got standing to sue the Department of Justice, and won a series of appeals that ended at the U.S. Supreme Court.

The allegation of complaint was straight forward enough. What business did the executive and judicial departments of the federal government have meddling in the affairs of the state legislatures as enumerated in Article 1 of the U.S. Constitution, which provides for apportionment at the exclusion of other governmental entities?

According to the Court's 8 to 1 holding, they don't have any such right.

Here's how that works.

The 11 reconstruction states of the old south, the Confederacy, were subjected to a second period of reconstruction beginning in 1965, with the passage of the Voting Rights Act.

Every decade, the state legislatures redraw congressional district lines following a census year. Because dominant Democratic Party policies prohibited fair and equal voting among minorities – chiefly black citizens – the new district lines are first subjected to the scrutiny of the Department of Justice and the federal court system under the “pre-clearance” provisions of law's famous Section 2.

As a result, Mr. Zimmerman says, “We don't have minority discrimination, but we do have the Department of Justice and the court system.”

He lets that sink in.

“The only way we got that legal standing is because I had won that office.”

A listener asks about challenging other provisions of statutory and substantive federal law – so-alled legislation from the bench – under the terms of the 10th Amendment.

He shrugs, says “I won't advise people not to do it.”

But there is a catch and it's a risky proposition.

Why? Federal judges are appointed for life. They do not face re-election and are rarely called to account for their actions save by other judges similarly appointed for life.

They are known to misinterpret perfectly logical legal arguments, throw suits out, hold their plaintiffs in contempt and punish them, withhold standing to sue either as unfounded or frivolous, and refuse to order enforcement of judgments if and when they are obtained.

Then he plants his feet and leans over the lectern, says, “Spend that time and money to become an electoral force.”

The handbook, self-published and available through and its Kindle electronic delivery service, is just as straight forward.

“How To Swing Votes – Precinct guide to winning elections,” Zimmerman, Don, Morris Pubishing, 2010.

What do you get?
Instructions on how to obtain the kind of information you will need from County Elections offices and the Secretary of State – lists of registered voters, their addresses and voting history.

Lists of contributions to campaigns from the Texas Ethics Commission and its corresponding agencies in other states, and what those campaigns spent their money to buy and from whom.

Practical advice.

“I look for people who sent money to Rand Paul, a Tea Party candidate for Senate from another state – Kentucky.”

He also looks for people who write checks to the Republican National Committee, an organization which, along with the Democratic Party's National Committee, keeps the election rules so abstruse and difficult to interpret and follow that it helps perpetuate their power – for no other reason.

“They are not the ones I ask to become Precinct Chairmen.”

How to win?

He says he remembers many visits to the Shrine of the Alamo, where his mother took he and his brothers to teach them what she considered the most important political lesson of their lives.

“These people in the Alamo, they were ready to fight, to put it all on the line. They were kind of scary,” he says. They didn't play well with others. They sounded the deguello. Every one was put to the sword, their bodies burned to preserve the principles of sanitation.

Ultimately, in a lifetime of experience with political persuasion, Mr. Zimmerman's conclusion is the people sign the petition, make the donation, cast the vote, volunteer to put out signs or make phone calls for one reason and one reason only.

They like the person who is asking for the cooperation. No other reason is necessary. Just like the guy. That's what counts.

“Now, the kind of guy we vote for, the one we like, the nice guy, the one who is so easy to get along with . This – schmuck – he's ready to sell you out at the drop of a hat.”

He nods, shrugs, nods again. He lets that sink in.

Washington, D.C., with its contempt for constitutional principles, its blatantly deficit spending and its disregard for the well-being of the citizens, is beyond control and getting worse.

How to win?

Third parties? It's a waste of time. All you do is split the vote. You give somebody else the nod, vote for someone to vote against someone else. Who needs it?

Get interested in who is your Sheriff, your County Commissioner, Municipal Utilities District Committee member, Precinct Chairman, Party Chairman, State Representative, Tax Collector, District Judge.

You count the votes. That's how you know who won.

To count the votes, you got to get the voters out and get them to cast their ballot.


Get them registered to vote. That's job one, something to do today, now.


Make them like you. Make them want to do it.

He shrugs, nods. This is his story. He knows it so well.

Blue Train a la Coltrane - cognitive dissonance

photos by The Legendary Jim Parks-click here

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Populist radio host decries campaign corporatism

Campaign records show industrialists' backing of “grass roots” Tea Party organizers locally

Austin – Jim Hightower's proposal for this sea change year of conflict – 2012 – between the world's largest corporations and the common man.

You remember him - the common, garden variety man?

He's the one who got his human rights from God, while corporations – those paper creations which live in filing cabinets in Secretary of States' offices from Delaware to the Cayman Islands and Hong Kong - got them from the U.S. Supreme Court in a “landmark” decision handed down in 1886.

They got another little boost in 2010 when the U.S. Supreme Court handed down Citizen United v. FEC. The holding is simple enough. Since a corporation has the same rights as a human being, then corporations should be able to spend their money directly on political advertising under the free speech clause of the First Amendment.

Done. To be filed under "No sooner said than."

Jim Hightower's solution: “Make every politician wear their backers' logos on their suits like NASCAR drivers do!”

The populist former Texas Agriculture Commissioner, liberal columnist and radio pundit says this time the hogs are in the ditch – we aren't invited to the barbecue - and the only way to get those hogs out is “to spread the facts about how the wealthy wield power.”

Mr. Hightower blames America's economic woes on the bailouts of big banks and investment brokerages, insurance companies and automakers.

“Our economy didn't crash because government is too big to succeed but because Wall St. banks were adjudged too big to fail – so we saved their butts with our tax money.

“Who sold this madness to the American people? Some of America's wealthiest corporations, CEOs, and foundations – they are behind the lobbying, the propaganda, and the tea party itself.”

Say what?

Hey, I think the Democrats were in on that, too. It took their Congressional votes and Senatorial support to get that little heist in motion and on the road.

But we'll let that go, for now. Still too early and too close to call.

Mr. Hightower does have a point, to say the least.

“Let's start with the Koch brothers, David and Charles. These guys made a large fortune by inheriting a medium-sized one, and using it to bully their way up to become two of the richest 20 people in America. They are also far right-wing, laissez-faire extremists who fund groups with benign names like Americans for Prosperity..and – those two corporate billionaires are the moneybags behind the supposed 'grassroots' tea party movement.”

There is some local indication that what he is saying is the truth here in Six Shooter Junction.

A careful but quick and cursory check of campaign finance records shows that District 57 State Representative Marva Beck bestowed $3,000 on founding president of the Waco Tea Party Toby Marie Walker on Nov. 1, 2010, the day before the election.
A lot of the Beck campaign's funding came from the ultra-conservative Texans for Lawsuit Reform organization, a coalition of business interests which is fighting the influence of trial lawyers such as former Democratic Representative Jim Dunnam.

Mrs. Beck, a construction company operator who builds natural gas processing plants and booster stations for pipelines, defeated seasoned Democratic Representative Jim Dunnam, a veteran of the gerrymandering wars.

Republican McLennan County Commissioner Ben Perry, a former Woodway police officer and insurance man, defeated long-term Republican Ray Meadows for his seat on the Commissioners' Court.

He bestowed at least two $600 payments on Ms. Walker's Waco Tea Party co-founder, Mike Simon during his campaign. Old line real estate operators and financiers backed Mr. Perry's bid to defeat Commissioner Meadows.

That was then. This is now. The dash for cash is on because it takes walking-around money to get out the vote.

Waco Tea Party activists served as interlocking directors of various Republican clubs as well as their grass roots Tea Party movement.

Shortly before the election, they made moves to purge certain activists from their ranks, as did other Tea Parties throughout the nation.

The money gamble paid off.

Newly elected conservatives in the state house and in Washington have held firm to keep from spending any more than they have to for education while allowing defense spending to go forward as before on the national level.

At the state house, they refused to touch the fabled “Rainy Day” fund of oil and gas royalties stockpiled the last time those commodities paid off big.

As Democratic House Speaker Tip O'Neill often said, “All politics is local.”

He might have added that it takes walking around money to get the job done, no matter what interests from which side of aisle one may represent and advocate.

Oh, yeah, Mr. Hightower wrote all this in a mailing advertising his newsletter, “The Hightower Lowdown.” He stuffs it as chock full of prose liberally studded with thorny rhetoric as sharp as a prickly pear and logic that bites back as hard as a jalapeno – and has for quite awhile.

The price: $10 - “a ridiculous price for a whole year.”

His take on where the money comes from and where it goes:

“You should know which companies are backing Republicans and which are behind Democrats.

“Hint: Time Warner, Costco, and Google are on one side -

“Exxon-Mobil, Home Depot, and News Corp are on the other.”

One more hint: McLennan County Republican Chairman Joe B. Hinton is a retired Vice President of Exxon-Mobil.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Mayhem, incivility on Wisconsin's highest civil court

Madison – Though he denies it, an Associate Justice of the Wisconsin Supreme Court stands accused of choking a female member of the Court during an argument over the rights of public employees to collective bargaining.

Ms. Justice Ann Walsh Bradley, a liberal member of the Court, told a newspaper that Mr. Justice David Prosser placed her in a choke hold on June 13, the day before the Court handed down a decision upholding Governor Scott Walker's bill that eliminated most of that state's public employees' collective bargaining rights.

Justice Prosser is a conservative member of the 4-3 majority which upheld the new law, the subject of massive street protests and the occupation of the capital building's rotunda and galleries by tens of thousands of people for many weeks during this year's session of the Legislature.

“The facts are that I was demanding that he get out of my office and he put his hands around my neck in anger in a chokehold,” Ms. Justice Bradley said in an interview on Saturday.

She acknowledged that she neglected to report the alleged assault to law enforcement authorities at the time.

Anonymous reports of the altercation first surfaced on National Public Radio and in stories released by the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism.

“Once there's a proper review of the matter and the facts surrounding it are made clear, the anonymous claim made to the media will be proven false,” Justice Prosser told The Associated Press through a spokesman. “Until then I will refrain from further public comment.”

In the case under review, the Court eventually held that Dane County Circuit Judge Maryann Sumi overstepped her authority by declaring the new law void. The argument was over the timing of the Supreme Court decision.

On the day of the alleged assault, the Court was under tremendous pressure to hand down a judgment in an appeal of the new law before June 14 so the Legislature could adopt a budget that would call for employees to pay 12% of their health insurance costs and 5.8% of their pension costs, a significant saving to Wisconsin's taxpayers.

According to the Center for Investigative Journalism, the fight between the two Justices has been brought to the attention of the Wisconsin Judicial Commission. James Alexander, the executive director of the commission, said he could neither confirm, nor deny the report.

Prediction of credit cascade into worldwide depression

World War III ended with the collapse of the Berlin Wall; World War IV proceeds apace
If you win, you're a freedom fighter; if you lose, you're a terrorist, and your cash is trash

Vienna - Most Americans were too poor to pay attention when Oesterreichische Credit-Anstalt, the largest bank in eastern Europe before World War II, failed in 1931.

A Rothschild bank, the failure of Credit-Anstalt kicked off the Great Depression and caused Austria to abandon the gold standard. After Germany followed suit, and then Great Britain, America confiscated private holdings of gold and adopted paper money in 1933.

Founded in 1855, the bank's name translated as Imperial Royal Privileged Austrian Credit-Institute for Commerce and Industry. Its failure is universally attributed to the United States' punitively protectionist Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act of 1930, an act which crippled Germany's economy and led French investors to redeem all the capital they had lent to the bank.

According to the U.S. Department of State, though the tariff first proposed by presidential candidate Herbert Hoover to protect American agricultural products did not necessarily cause the Great Depression, it was more of a consequence of the onset of the depression; it didn't do anything to stave it off.

Protection for the industrial sector was added to the bill, and soon the tariff rates for the United States were among the most protectionist in the world.

Imports from Europe declined from a high of $1,334 million in 1929 to only $390 million in 1932. At the same time, U.S. Exports to European shores fell from $2,341 million in 1929 to $784 million in 1932.

According to government calculations, world trade declined by some 66% between 1929 and 1934. "Thereafter, beginning with the 1934 Reciprocal Trade Agreements Act, American commercial policy generally emphasized trade liberalization over protectionism. The United States generally assumed the mantle of champion of freer international trade, as evidenced by its support for the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), and the World Trade Organization (WTO)," according to a historical report from the U.S. Department of State.

Credit-Anstalt has long ago been reincarnated in Italy as UniCredit. Its shares are down by 21% in the last several weeks, and the trend is considered irreversible, according to financial analysts.

Should there be a run on UniCredit, some feel that the losses will be too large for Italy, which already owes 120% of of its GDP, to manage without a huge international bailout.

UniCredit has already borrowed $300 billion from other European banks. Austerity measures imposed in Greece, Ireland, and Spain not having been all that successful, the smart money predicts that the European Union's currency, the euro, will simply cease to exist in the near future, the banking crisis will cascade, and credit markets worldwide, which are already shutting down, will continue this disastrous trend.

The outlook for the U.S. Treasury?

The U.S. Federal Reserve, which holds a staggering $5.31 trillion in U.S. debt, and is the nation's largest creditor, is committed to stop buying $85 billion per month of U.S. Treasury debt, 61% of the federal debt will mature within four years.

About $10 trillion in U.S. Treasury bonds will have to be sold – plus a predicted $6 trillion deficit that will be amassed over the next 4 years.

The financial outlook for Chinese banks is no better.

With a phenomenal rate of fixed-asset investment greater than 50% of its GDP for the 12th year in a row - that nation increased the figure by 25.8% during the first 5 months of the year, according to the China's National Bureau of Statistics, by $1.39 trillion.

At the same time, the Chinese nation is hoarding commodities as a hedge against a time when nothing will be available. China is purchasing massive quantities of raw materials. While its share of the world's economy is only 9.4%, China is consuming 53% of the world's cement, 47% of the world's iron ore, and 46.9% of its coal.

In 2010, Chinese banks loaned $55 billion – up 95% from the year before. This year, regulators have reined the banks in, demanding increased reserves. In May 2011, lending was down 25% versus the same period of 2010.

The signs all point to the same thing, and it's shaky as cafeteria jello.

Analysts are saying that, though it's impossible to predict exactly when the cascade will start, the world is looking at a credit crunch much more severe than that of 2008. Volatility will increase to white hot proportions, increasing interest rate spreads will tighten money supplies to a rigidly clamped condition, and and stock and bond prices will follow suit by crashing down, down and further down.

If the world's governments try to handle the crisis by printing more money, the resulting inflation will lead to inevitable disaster.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Turn off your mind, relax and float downstream with NLP

"It is part of the general pattern of misguided policy that our country is now geared to an arms economy which was bred in an artificially induced psychosis of war hysteria and nurtured upon an incessant propaganda of fear." - General Douglas MacArthur, Speech, May 15, 1951

Russian rapsta a la gangsta - Moscow - and how...

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Failed drug war fueled by hiring private contractors

Billions spent on defense contractor programs renders little results

Washington – According to two Congressional reports released last week, the federal government is throwing money at the drug problem – most of it spent with defense contractors – and has no idea what it's getting in return.

A Senate subcommittee report released on Wednesday shows contract spending increased 32% over the 5-year period 2005 to 2009, with Falls Church, Va., based DynCorp leading the pack of 5 corporations sharing the largest portion at $1.1 billion.

That company is followed by Lockheed Martin, Raython, ITT and ARINC, according to the staff of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.

“We are wasting tax dollars and throwing money at a problem without even knowing what we are getting in return, said Senator Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., chairwoman of the subcommittee on contracting oversight.

The contractors are paid to perform surveillance on boats and planes headed for American shores, train overseas police forces on investigative and interdiction programs, and to train foreign cops on how to use the sophisticated gear with which the Defense Department supplies them, while at the same time spraying herbicide on crops of opium poppies, marijuana and coca.

The resulting carnage in Mexico alone has cost the lives of 40,000 people over the past 4 years.

“The effort has had corrosive effects on every country it has touched, said Bruce Bagley, an expert in U.S. Anti-Narcotic efforts and chairman of international studies at the University of Miami at Coral Gables, Florida.

A high level group of foreign critics joined the chorus, including former Secretary General Kofi Annan of the United Nations, past presidents of Mexico, Brazil and Colombia, all of whom recommended that local governments try legalizing and regulating drugs to help stop the flood of cash taken in by drug cartels and other organized crime syndicates.

Two unintended results of the American programs have been to push the cartels deeper into central America and to step up the surveillance programs and wiretapping methods used to trace cellphone and internet transmissions.

For instance, during a visit to El Salvador in February, William Brownfield, who heads the Department of State's anti-drug programs, opened a wiretapping center in San Salvador and an office to share fingerprints with United States law enforcement agencies.

Rep. Ron Paul and Barney Frank's bill to legalize pot

“We have no Libya” - Rep. Ted Poe, R-Tex

Demos, GOP defectors stop effort to defund Libyan war

Washington – Representatives rebuked President Barack Obama for his operations in Libya, but stopped short of defunding the war effort Friday.

In a vote of 295 to 123, Congressmen denied consent to extend the 3-month-old effort to unseat dictator Moammar Gadhafi for another year. But though 144 Republican and 36 Democrats voted to stop funding the war, the measure that would have denied funding for all search and rescue, intelligence, aerial refueling and noncombat operations failed to pass, 238 to 180.

As a result, U.S. involvement in the operation to prevent Gadhafi from crushing a revolt against his regime can continue.

GOP lawmakers, clearly disappointed, made loud noises as the Congress recessed for a week and a half vacation. Representative Ted Poe, R-Houston, said “We have no business being in Libya.”

Representative Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio, who has along with 9 other Congressmen filed suit against the President for abuse of the War Powers Act, sided with Mr. Poe. He called the Libyan operation a “distraction.”

Friday, June 24, 2011

TSA-groping bill stymied over lack of quorum

House Speaker Joe Straus: “ill-advised” publicity stunt

Austin – The difference between getting groped or being allowed to board a commercial aircraft in Texas with all the dignity accorded a human being will hinge on two legal concepts.

They are “probable cause” and “reasonable suspicion.”

Without addressing the latter, said the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Joe Straus, Texas will become the “laughingstock” of the nation, the bill as drafted by freshman Rep. David Simpson will be the subject of a federal court challenge, and – in any case – the law is a “not well-researched publicity stunt.”

Representative Simpson said the proposed changes are not acceptable to him.

Following a morning session in which there was no quorum to open a discussion, he told newsmen, “The Speaker asked me to remove the language that specifically described the private parts, and I told him that would gut the bill.”

At present, if a traveler opts out of a full body irradiated scan which makes the person so examined appear to be naked on the screen of the scanner, they are detained and an extensive “pat-down” is given to the body, including the area of the groin, inner thighs, under the breasts and in the declivity of the derriere.

Most people – especially women who wear underwire bras which trigger metal detectors, and see their children subjected to such hands-on searches.

They, along with many men feel that the practice is utterly invasive and uncalled for, prompting HB 41, which would make it illegal for anyone to require a traveler at a Texas airport to submit to such a search on the grounds that it is in violation of the U.S. Constitution's Fourth Amendment.

The amendment guarantees that people will be secure in their property, papers and persons against “unreasonable search and seizure” unless first an affidavit of probable cause is submitted to a magistrate and a warrant of search is obtained specifically stating that for which the officers will be searching and its whereabouts.

Law dictionaries define the concept of probable cause as one that “warrant a person of reasonable caution in the belief that certain items may be contraband...” though it does not demand that the belief is correct or “more likely true than it is false.”
When first proposed to the House on May 13, the bill sailed through with no discussion and no opposition, only to be stymied by reluctant Senators who responded to threats from representatives of the U.S. Department of Transportation who told them that if the law passed, they would shut down every passenger terminal at every airport in the state.

“I think the philosophy is right, I think it's the challengeability in court that's the issue, said House Calendars Committee Chairman Todd Hunter, R-Corpus Christi.

Mr. Hunter said that in discussions held over the past few days during the special session, he and his colleagues concluded that Mr. Simpson's bill needs to allow for “reasonable suspicion” for legal purposes.

Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst said he will proceed with the Senate version SB 29, on Monday. He told reporters that the federal objections to bill and the policies of the TSA stem from “the Obama Administration.

Senator Dan Patrick, R-Houston, author of the Senate version of the bill, issued this statement.

“The TSA anti-groping bill is important legislation that sends an important message to the federal government. This is evidenced by the fact that it has more than 100 coauthors in the House and enough votes to pass in the Seante. Even before passage, this legislation has already yielded results in that the TSA recently changed their pat down policies on children. I am greatly disappointed that negotiations on this bill have broken down so badly in the House at this critical point in the special session. If the House can resolve their differences, there is still time if they can pass it to the Senate before Monday.”

Cowboy Cadillac swap for Plain Jane Chevy “turck”

Six Shooter Junction – True, how true it is, that some days the dragon wins; but on others, and few and sweet they are, Fu Manchu the Hard Deputy and The Legendary Scribbler doth prevail.

Witnesseth: It is a matter of record that the McLennan County Commissioners' Court arranged to buy a used Silverado 2500 4WD Ultra Crew Cab Cowboy Cadillac with 40,000 miles on it for $20,000, plus the boot trade at $4,000 of a 2008 Dodge Ram with 100-plus thousand miles on it – N.A.D.A. Blue book value - $9,000.

Neither transaction required a bid because, what with the expenditure of both items being less than $50,000, for the good of the taxpayers, none is required, according to the Texas Local Government Code. Ditto the condemnation as surplus property of the Dodge 4-wheeler.

Public-spirited citizens that we are, we publicized the affair forthwith, and within 24 hours, events changed dramatically.

We have hence received word that Precinct 4 Commissioner Ben Perry and his foreman have made another selection in favor of a 2011 “plain Jane” Chevy pickup with crew cab – with no miles on the odometer.

Mssr. Gates received this message from Mr. Bill Garrett, Precinct 4 foreman, over Facebook:

“Bill Garrett - Ok Scott, Let me explain the deal we are looking for a 4 wheel drive truck to handel (sic) pulling trees from our roads. The truck i looked at was a 2009z71 40,000 miles was loaded so we changed the deal for a 2011 chevy 4 door sometimes i have to carry crew members to job sites in stead of running more (sic) turcks and (sic) useing more fuel plain jane for me so that s the way it is. The 2008 dodge was a blue tec diesel and is the low end of diesels. The blue book is 11,000 great shape, 9,000 good shape. Ben Perry will deal with local venders when ever he can Sorry you comments or incorrect mine are the honest to GOD truth!!!!!!!!”

Well, all righty, then. That's what I'm talking about!

On next week's agenda, the cleanup man arrives at the plate:

Now comes, Ben Perry, and would humbly show unto the Court the following: Notification of Correction and Recording only Correct Year Model - Allen Samuels Chevrolet

This memorandum is a request to have the following item placed on the agenda on June 28, 2011.

Regarding purchase of the truck for Pct 4 in the amount of $19,435.78 from Allen Samuels Chevrolet, the year model is 2011. The first memo had an incorrect year. This is to correct the year model in the memo.

If you have any questions, in regards to this memorandum, you may contact me at 5064.

Thank you

Ben Perry”

Moving right along, we are confronted with the acquisition of a $3,900 desk and chair for the office of County Judge Jim Lewis.

Here's the way that deal was arranged.

The judge requested a budget decrease of $3,100 from the Court Appointed Attorney account for probate cases and an $800 decrease from the account for Tools/Equipment/Furniture, then requested an increase of $3,900 to the Equipment and Furniture account.

The item on the consent sailed on through the swinging doors on the consent agenda, no further discussion necessary.

There is the small matter of adjustment of court appointed attorney accounts for the District Courts.

By reducing certain court-appointed attorney accounts by a total of $452,000, Mssrs. Adam Harry, County Budget Director; and Stan Chambers, County Auditor, were able to increase accounts by the same amount in the District 19, 74, and 170 Courts.

Oil field courthouse war plays out in suits, motions

Gilmer – Political warfare is protracted, feudal, highly symbolic and lasting. It is touched off by the slightest gesture, the symbolic act, the tiniest detail, and often leads to a centuries of adjustment, rapprochment, polarization, disaffection, hatred and healing.

The psy-war is deadly, internecine, emotionally draining – a study in dominance and submission, money, power, prestige and stealthy legal strategies.

There are no real winners. The damage is profound and the public suffers when they can't get their day in court, their hearing before a judge, the facts of their special case recorded by officers of the law.

In this courthouse war, the power players, the knights and bishops, the keepers of the castles, the kings and queens, and rulers of the party, made a rash decision that the public would no longer have their say, would no longer be allowed to voice their opinions, comment on events, or ask questions - rhetorical or otherwise.

A County Commissioner, irked by the strident tone of certain constituents' comments during the period set aside for all such invective, made a motion to end that portion of the agenda - once and for all.

The motion was seconded, the question called and the rest is turning into history - the kind that is dyspeptic, unpleasant and ultimately, laughable, even when it hurts.

Jimmy Caughran went to the Upshur County Commissioners' Court meeting on November 30 of last year and fixed all that with duct tape, which, as any country boy will tell you, is good for fixing just about anything that's broken.

Outraged, the County Judge had the bailiff remove Mr. Caughran from the chamber for his disruptive behavior – that of applying the duct tape to his mouth.

The results have been horrendous, to say the least

Here, in this decent little city perched at the apex of a legendary oil field, a decent little old man touched off a smoldering feud that will be played out in the mine fields of the clerks' offices, the full frontal killing fields of the courtrooms, the venue of the sound byte, the press conference, and the column inch.

The conversation in barber shops, hair salons, church socials and family reunions will resound and remark for decades over what is taking place here - and now.

The names of the places roll off the tongue and out of the pines, places of legend in the East Texas oil fields.

Reading all about it, one runs across the magic names - Longview, Big Sandy, Pritchett, Gilmer, Tyler, Kilgore, the places where wildcatters and shirt tail drillers, plungers, gamblers and great grandfathers threw it all on the line and came up winners on the black gold.

Down this road, Dad Joiner and H.L. Hunt brought in that first gusher, the one that spelled the end of the Great Depression in certain places and bank accounts. Down that way, Elvis sang up a storm in road houses and beer joints, made his first radio appearance at a country station in Gladewater, and went back to Memphis a winner, a proven entertainer with a pocket full of money plucked from the jeans pockets of hands who earned it on the drilling floor, the derrick and the pipeline – only to see it recycled and come spewing out of the tail pipe of the King's long, pink Cadillac.

Everywhere and nowhere is more than an hour's drive down sandy oil roads snaking through the pines and smooth highways streaking from hill to hill and over green fields studded with creeks and lakes, pastures of plenty, and slowly-working pump jacks pulling the big money out of the ground thousands of feet below, in the stratified rock.

A doctor becomes miffed by the way he's treated in a tax collector's office in the Lubbock courthouse over personal property taxes. That leads to events that eventually unravel a presidency and to cause one of the most adroit players in the history of the U.S. Congress, the sitting Vice President, to arise from under a hot towel in the White House barber shop and say, “Billy Sol who?”

Suddenly, every day is get Lyndon day, and it's not long before the whole world stares at television screens as events unfold in Dallas over the course of a terribly depressing weekend in late November.

A few years later, some political exiles – most of them once involved in the failed fiasco of a faux invasion staged to touch off a war in the sugar cane fields of a hell hole Caribbean island called Cuba – are paid to burglarize a political office in a fancy business and hotel complex. Caught red-handed in the act, they were then paid even more to keep their mouths shut.

There followed the revelations of a once-loyal executive of the secret police they call the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Passed over for a promotion he felt he rightfully deserved, he began to blab anonymously to a couple of newspaper reporters who worked for a sheet that was finding itself in a bind to get at their stock and trade – information - and an entire government collapsed; the way the nation keeps records, and the public access to those records, went through an unprecedented sea change.

Hard times.

They called it Watergate. What it was really about was a record period of inflation and a bodacious recession caused by the finance of an inconclusive and undeclared war in Vietnam.

A drunken group of Napoleon's troops raped a young Sicilian girl one afternoon. Her mother ran through the streets of the village, screaming, “Ma fia! Ma fia!” - my daughter, my daughter – and the men of the island, outlaws placed beyond the protection of the law by many generations of invasion and occupation, founded a feudal and warlike society to protect the honor of their women – a society which branched out into other, more lucrative activities.

The rest is history. Ask Assistant U.S. Attorney Thomas E. Dewey, once appointed Special Prosecutor for New York State in the prosecution of Charles “Lucky” Luciano - or, that is, check the record. Mafia dons released from local Sicilian jails led American troops through the mountains, giving invading commanders vital intelligence in their pursuit of Nazi and Fascist defenders.

A small yellow pennant with the single letter “L” flew from the radio antennas of their Jeeps, the jail doors opened and suddenly, everyone knew all about where to apprehend Mussolini and Hitler's tanks, their columns of infantry.

A black Montgomery, Alabama, seamstress refuses to give up her seat to a white man on a city bus and a second period of Reconstruction ensues, one which leads to a flip flop in the nation's two-party system, one in which conservative Democrats become Republicans and federal Courts order all kinds of social changes in the way things are done in courthouses, schools, universities, offices and places of business throughout America.

Funny how the wars, the revolutions, the vast social movements and tax revolts often come down to the most idle actions of the powerful and the slightest remarks of the leadership.

As a result of his order to have Mr. Caughran removed from the Commissioners' courtroom, the Texas Commission on Judicial Conduct suspended County Judge Dean Fowler from hearing misdemeanor, probate and other cases assigned to the constitutional court by the Texas Constitution.

The District Court is taking up the slack.

He, County Sheriff Anthony Betterton, and County Commissioner Lloyd Crabtree soon found themselves charged with official oppression, a misdemeanor crime for which they were indicted by the Grand Jury.
After District Attorney Billy Byrd recused himself from the case, the Special Prosecutor Rick Hagan, a Longview attorney, defended the case against motions by their attorneys that allege prosecutorial misconduct because Mr. Byrd tape recorded conversations with the defendants after taking a statement from Jimmy Caughron, the man who was ejected from the courtroom, the duct tape still covering his mouth.

But, wait, there is even more to the story.

The defendants have now lodged a countercharge against the District Attorney for allegedly paying his employees bonuses from funds he collected from ink-happy consumers and placed in the bad check fund.

Apparently, some folks think writing a check to a merchant is the same thing as signing a promissory note, that the District Attorney will collect the money over a period of time for the merchant, and all will be well. It usually is, until they legal lions of the courts begin to quarrel.

More hard times.

Same story about the economy, the finance of the never-ending, undeclared war, and the economic doldrums of recession, depression, and inflation.

If you can't cover a check, you pay a fee to the District Attorney who is collecting for the merchant. If the District Attorney can't give his staff raises, he finds the money in the bad check fee funds.

The upshot: The District Attorney has been charged with misuse of public funds. DA's have lost their offices, their law licenses and their good names for less.

The special prosecutor charged the Sheriff and the County Commissioner with the Class A misdemeanor of accepting a gift from the attorney who has represented them in court.

One more thing: The prosecutor charged County Judge Dean Fowler with official misconduct for failing to file an affidavit with the County Clerk to disclose his relationship with the First National Bank of Gilmer, which loaned Upshur County $1.43 million.

That ought to hold them.

Whew! Hot, ain't it?

When you get off the whiskey, black sheep of the families, unite! Thou art urgently needed at the courthouse

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Oldest Ice Age animal art found at Vero Beach, Fl

Vero Beach, Florida – The recent discovery of an incised mammoth bone depicting by intaglio one of the beasts electrified this seaside town on the Treasure Coast.

Located just south of famed Cape Canaveral and an hour's drive north of Palm Beach, the town is a retirement mecca, headquarters of Piper Aircraft, the former winter home of the Dodgers, and a major citrus growing area on the Indian River.

The bone fragment is believed to be about 13,000 years old, the oldest and first of its type to have been found in North America, according to Dennis J. Stanford, curator of North American Archeology at the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History, co-author of a report that appeared in the Journal of Archaeological Science.

Cave paintings showing animals have been found in Texas, but those were dated to about 4,000 years in the past – much more recent than the scrimshawed bone.

The image carved on it is about 3 inches long from head to tail and is about 1¾ inch high from head to foot.

Because the bone material is heavily mineralized, it was impossible to date it through standard means of carbon 14 dating, but it is known that mammoths died out 13,000 years ago, so it's got to be older than that, according to the experts.

The bone fragment was found near the Old Vero Site, a place extensively excavated during the period 1913-16, where human bones were found side by side with the bones of extinct Ice Age animals.

“There was considerable skepticism expressed about the authenticity of the incising on the bone until it was examined exhaustively by archaeologists paleontologists, forensic anthropologists, materials science engineers and artists, said Barbara Purdy, lead author of the article and a professor at the University of Florida.

Rep. Bill Flores on releasing strategic oil reserves

Got a robo-call yesterday afternoon from my Congressman, Bill Flores, R-District 17, Texas, a retired oil executive who beat the socks off his fellow Aggie, 10-term Democrat Chet Edwards.

He was taking a survey. He wanted me to answer with one word - yes or no - the question he asked. Do I now, or have I ever wanted to raise the nation's debt ceiling?

I answered by saying "You're not giving me enough information, Mr. Flores..."

I wanted to know first if I was getting the option of a balanced budget amendment to take spending pressure off the equation, but the robot kicked in and said, "If you cannot answer this question with yes, or no, this call will be terminated immediately..."

At that point, I said, "Okay, then, I can handle that. Toodle loo."

Went back to doing whatever I was doing when my phone rang.

Oh, I left something out. I did say soemthing else before I hung up, "Gee, it sure was nice getting to chat with you, sir..."

I think the robot phone mechanism had broken the connection by then, but, oh, well. You know, uh, like...Yeah.


I would also like to know if Congress can make the Federal Reserve Board of Governors stop authorizing increases in the money supply by authorizing the Treasury to print more Federal Reserve Notes. Does that go hand in hand with a plan to hold the debt ceiling at - well, you, know, uh, is it $14.3 trillion? Could that be right?

According to Article 1, Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution, Congress has the enumerated power to mint currency.

I would like to get more information on the ramifications of all this hoo-hah and what's it, you know.

But, you see, the phone call will be immediately terminated if you can't answer the question with a one-word answer of - like - yes, or no.

Is that my job? Couldn't anyone help me to better understand the true implications of the question?

Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain, saith the Wizard of Oz.

I wonder if he was any kin to the Imperial Wizard of the - oh, what's the use?

Pension woes bad news for postal workers and patrons

Cost cutting a "canary in the coal mine"

— The financially troubled Postal Service is suspending its contributions to its employees' pension fund.

The agency said Wednesday it is acting to conserve cash as it continues to lose money. The post office was $8 billion in the red last year because of the combined effects of the recession and the switch of much mail business to the Internet. It faces the possibility of running short of money by the end of this fiscal year in September.

Sen. Tom Carper, D-Del., called the announcement "the canary in the coal mine moment for the Postal Service."

"If we don't heed this warning and act quickly, the Postal Service as we know it will cease to exist in the very near future," said Carper, chairman of the Senate subcommittee with jurisdiction over the agency...

In the long, hot summer...flash robbery the latest trend

Kids plan their raids through use of social media, cell phones

Cut rate trade on a kinda new pickup best deal in sight

I was a freshman Representative – one of the first Republicans in the Legislature since reconstruction. I picked up the phone and called Bobby Bullock – he was the Comptroller then – and asked him which of the state's department heads hurried to spend up all their budget money before the next year came.

He said, “Well, you know, that question will be easy to answer. They all do it...” - M.A. Taylor, long-time McLennan County Republican Chairman and State Legislator

Six Shooter Junction – Be it remembered:

It's been a dry year. Gravel on rural roads hasn't gone down the creek as much as usual. Cattle prices are up, but so are the prices of gas, groceries and gumption.

So, it's time to trade pickups, as they say around the ranch.

So saith Precinct 4 County Commissioner Ben Perry, County Budget Officer Adam Harry and County Auditor Stan Chambers.

Last Tuesday they requested – and got - a decrease in the budget for Grade 5 gravel - $11,000; asphalt – 2,000; tires, tubes, and batteries – 2,000; “other purchased services” - $1,000; and “engineering” - $4,000.

The total: $20,000

They requested a budget increase of exactly $20,000 to the fund for “M&E Pickups.”

The new total in that fund: $47,000

That item sailed on through the swinging doors, and then the matter of the used Chevy Silverado pickup – the 2009 half-ton model with 40,000 miles on it – came on for discussion.

Allen Samuels Chevrolet Mercedes had it for sale out on Auto Row, and it was a total diamond. A bird's nest sitting on the ground, as they say in the show room, priced at $22,995.00, to be exact.

They traded the 2008 Dodge Ram 2500 – the one with 100,390 miles on it and a “N.A.D.A.” blue book “rough” trade-in value of about $13,000 – for $4,000, paid the difference of $19,435.78, tax, title, license and drive-out, as they say in the high volume radio ads – and drove out into the sunset, their fever broken, the hoss trade a done deal.

Commissioner Joe Mashek, whose bailiwick is West, asked if that Dodge wasn't kinda new to be the subject of a trade. That was the only comment made.

Back to bidness.

The Commissioners' Court declared the Dodge pickup surplus property.
No bids were required under state law.

Since the transaction is less than $50,000, no bids are required to acquire the kinda new used Chevy pickup, which is new to its new owner, McLennan County.

So ordered by Judge Jim Lewis.

Horse trading must be in the best interest of the local government, and the legislative body such as the Commissioners' Court - or city council - need only consider which course of action is the best – if not necessarily the lowest in cost.

Asked for her opinion on the matter, a typical rural house wife from the Precinct 4 area of McLennan County, where the gravel and asphalt is holding up okay in the dry heat of a scorching summer, said that, yes, she would be mad at her husband if he came home driving a used pickup he paid that much to get and had traded one still running for less than 40% of its blue book value.

“Do not bring it on the place,” she said, in requesting anonymity.

So it goes, hunkered down here on the prairie, where never is heard a discouraging word, etc.

The VIN number on the kinda new 2009 Chevy truck was redacted "for reasons of privacy" by a member of Commissioner Perry's staff following a Public Information Act request. When we appealed the decision, we received the information and learned all about the trim package on the vehicle.

The official GM nomenclature on the model is this: 2009 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 4WD Crew Cab 143.5" LTZ Crew Cab Pickup.

That's Detroitese for how you call in Een-glaze, Cowboy Cadillac!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Usurping the Constitution - Twelve steps to tyranny

This book review appeared in “Quarterly Review,” Vol. 4, No. 1, Spring, 2010. It contains 12 startling ideas by the authors of a provocative new book about how the federal government has found ways to steal power denied by the U.S. Constitution...

“Who killed the Constitution? The fate of American liberty from World War I to George W Bush,” Thomas E. Woods, Jr., and Kevin R C Gutzman, New York: Crown Forum, 2008.

Zombie: a dead Constitution walking

WESLEY ALLEN RIDDLE, a conservative Constitution Party candidate for U.S. House of Representatives in Texas District 25, endorses a pessimistic analysis of the state of the US Constitution

The United States Constitution is the oldest fundamentally unaltered
governing document in the world – at least textually. Words and
amendments are misleading, however, since they do not capture the
qualitative essence of constitutional regimes. While most recent
amendments are technical, the 20th century witnessed fundamental shifts
in the meaning of the Constitution. Original Intent was dropped in favor of
a “living” interpretation, and this interpretation has made a zombie of the
United States Constitution.

In this book, two eminent scholars come to a startling and disconcerting
conclusion. Their argument is that the Constitution is literally dead. Thomas
Woods, Jr and Kevin Gutzman identify the twelve worst ways all three branches of the federal government used to kill the United States Constitution, by which they mean removing all restraining elements from federal officials so they can essentially do whatever they want.

First of these dirty dozen involves acts during World War I in violation of
the First, Ninth and Tenth Amendments and freedom of speech. The Sedition
Act of 1798 had attempted to criminalize disloyal speech during the Quasi
War with France, but the people were so incensed at violations of the First,
Ninth and Tenth Amendments that a political revolution ensued in 1800
catapulting Thomas Jefferson to the presidency. The Sedition Act expired in
1880 , and for more than a century the federal government did not try to pass
another anti-sedition law. This changed with the Espionage Act of 1917 and
the Sedition Act of 1918.

Second involves overreach by activist presidents, who weaken
constitutional constraints on their executive power – among other things, so
that they can seize and control private property. In 1950 President Truman
ordered his Secretary of Commerce to seize and operate steel mills to aid the
war effort in Korea. No law of the United States gives the president authority
to seize private property, and the steel seizure made its way to the Supreme
Court in the form of Youngstown Sheet & Tube Co. v. Sawyer (1952). The Court
overturned the president’s action but failed to deny the president had implied
or residual power.

Third in the list involves shifts in favor of certain policy positions
regardless of constitutionality. The fact that a government decision is
beneficial, even morally right does not make it constitutional. Positive policy
outcomes do not ensure proper government action and may undermine the
rule of law if adopted contrary to the meaning of the Constitution. Once the
law substitutes a policy preference for decision based on legal reasoning, the
government steps outside the bounds of the Constitution, creating powerful
precedents for more extra-constitutional measures. This is precisely what
happened in the case of Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas
(1954). The popular decision forbade segregation of schools on the basis of
race. It overturned the distasteful ‘separate but equal’ standard handed down
in Plessy v. Ferguson (1896), but it did so on the basis of declaring that the
Fourteenth Amendment’s equal protection clause intended public schools to
be integrated—a basis that was historically inaccurate.

Number Four was an outgrowth of the 1954 decision. In Brown II (1955) the Supreme Court ruled segregation of state schools had to end “with all deliberate speed,” which resulted in forced busing.

Five dates back furthest in nascent form but has turned into the annual
habit of pork barrel spending and congressional prerogative to spend taxpayer
money on earmarks or pet projects. The most famous recent example (2005-
2006) is the Bridge to Nowhere in Alaska, which cost more than $200 million.

In the early years of the Republic, Congress and the president envisioned
national improvements or what we refer to as infrastructure, to facilitate trade
and commerce. Jefferson and Madison recognized the need for roads, canals,
etc., as well as the need for national jurisdiction and a means to address them
systematically. For this latter aspect, they concluded that it would require
constitutional amendment.

Six is dubbed gold robbery. To understand why, one has to realize the US
dollar was defined as roughly one-twentieth of an ounce of gold throughout
American history. Gold was actual money, and paper represented the specie.
Paper notes could be redeemed for gold at any time prior to March 1933,
when the federal government announced a banking emergency and recalled
monetized gold in the U.S. If one possessed gold in the bank or a stash of
gold coins in the closet, the Government ordered one to turn it in! The
Trading with the Enemy Act (left over from 1917) was amended to give the
president authority to “investigate, regulate, or prohibit” hoarding of gold.
The confiscation of gold was done in the name of a banking-and-currency
management crisis so most Americans assumed their gold would be returned
when the emergency abated. The difference between borrowing and theft
has a lot to do with whether the perpetrator gives it back. Since banks had
loaned out too much and held too little reserve, people and corporations were
given an equivalent amount of paper currency for gold holdings because of
temporary gold shortage in the banking system. As soon as the gold was
collected, however, the president and Congress passed a joint resolution,
which nullified the promise to repay in gold. Payment was whatever the
government declared was legal.

Seven may be the most egregious spiritually. From the standpoint of
federalism, it was a deep cut by the Supreme Court into what had been the states’
exclusive purview. Engel v. Vitale in 1962 banned prayer from public schools.
In reaching its decision, the Court reinterpreted the First and the Fourteenth
Amendments and changed the federal government’s relationship vis-à-vis
religion. To judge the degree of change, one has to start with the most basic
fact concerning the Bill of Rights. The first ten Amendments called the Bill of
Rights were put there in 1791 entirely to protect the traditional interpretation
of individual rights enjoyed by the people and powers traditionally exercised
by state governments from encroachment by the federal government. Many of
the Founders felt the Bill of Rights superfluous, since the federal government
was never granted authority to alter such rights and powers. Nevertheless, the
Bill of Rights made certain points explicit, for instance the First Amendment’s
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or
prohibiting the free exercise thereof….” The Amendment went into effect at a
time when nine states had established churches and the others had religious
requirements. The 1962 decision usurped the most ancient prerogatives of
states under the Constitution.

Eight is the power to draft. To say there is no constitutional power to
draft runs counter to conservatives’ patriotic instinct, but it gets to the heart
of what constitutes the American republic and citizenry, the relationship
between them, and the extent of power legitimately exercised. One could
argue as William F. Buckley, Jr. did, that if government is entitled to require
the people to complete twelve years of schooling then a year of labor is
perfectly consistent. Why not sixteen years of schooling or twenty? Why not
one year of labor or ten at community service or in the military? In one of
the few instances where a post-Civil War Amendment reinforces Original
Intent for a majority, the Thirteenth Amendment makes plain that, “Neither
slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof
the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States,
or any place subject to their jurisdiction.” The military draft is nothing if
not involuntary servitude. There is no article or section contained in the
Constitution in which it is written that the federal government may take
children away from parents or parents from their children and compel them
to fight the nation’s wars. Even in declared wars and even in cases of invasion,
such as the War of 1812, this was never the case. The Court justified the draft
after World War I according to the post-Civil War Fourteenth Amendment.
Chief Justice Edward White wrote that the people had elevated the significance
of federal citizenship above that of state citizenship and conveyed with it the
power of conscription.

Nine involves abuse of the Commerce Clause. At the Constitutional
Convention, “commerce” meant trade. Foreign trade was distinguished from
trade or commerce among the several states. The Constitution’s Commerce
Clause found in Article I, Section 8, Clause 3 grants Congress the power
to “regulate Commerce [trade] with foreign Nations, and among the several
States, and with the Indian Tribes.” Commerce among the several states
referred to commerce between one state and another, not commerce inside
one state (intrastate). The point of the Clause was quite frankly to keep
one state from setting up and imposing tariffs on goods coming in from
another state. The provision is thus largely responsible for the Constitution
having enabled a giant free-trade zone throughout the United States, i.e., by
preventing states from obstructing the free flow of commerce.
By the 20th century, precedents were compounded and extenuated to such
a degree as to completely undo the distinction between intra and interstate
commerce. Wickard v. Filburn (1942) overlay Gibbons v. Ogden (1824), such
that, now a farmer growing wheat on his own land was subject to federal
regulation, because while it wasn’t interstate commerce it affected interstate
commerce. Given the precedent in Wickard, it was an easy jump in the case
of Gonzales v. Raich (2004) for the Court to say the federal government may
also ban the use of substances grown and consumed inside a single state—
whether or not they are ever bought or sold, and whether or not there is
a market. The reason is that such substance might “leak” into interstate
commerce and affect the overall economy.

Ten is the transformation of the Chief Executive and concomitant abuse
of power in the exercise of foreign policy. Plain statements by proponents
of the Constitution during ratification debates make clear their intent that
treaty power dealt with external matters and not with matters internal to the
states. As if to make the point doubly clear, the Tenth Amendment was added
after ratification, i.e., after the language conveying treaty power, to make sure
the Federal Government got this message: that it may not make treaties with
foreign governments impinging on sovereignty, rights and freedoms inherent
to each state. Congress may not, for instance, give a state’s territory away
to another nation. Congress may not compromise gun rights, speech rights
or freedom of religion in states, as these are not supposed to be subject to
negotiation with foreign governments. The case of State of Missouri v. Holland
(1920) began a radical change to this presumption. Stating a majority opinion
for the Supreme Court, Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes delimited the federal
government’s power to make treaties and said the Tenth Amendment did
not apply. Today the U.S. makes treaties by Executive fiat without so much as
consent of the Senate.

Eleven has to do with presidential war powers and the extant claim the
president has exclusive control over foreign affairs, including the deployment
of troops, without consent of Congress. Presidential war powers have been
hotly contested since Korea, and especially since Vietnam. Objection
centres around the overall level of national effort, including duration and the
nature of the conflict. Vietnam in its day was extremely costly in lives and
money, and indeterminate in scope and time frame. The defensive nature of
the conflict was buried in the strategic context of the Cold War. Likewise,
contemporary conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq are increasingly viewed this
way, notwithstanding the existential “Global War on Terror”. These wars
are prosecuted at nearly the sole discretion of the President and contrary to
constitutional tradition.

Original Intent was strong in its prejudice towards the Legislative
branch, ie, to the people’s representative body, when it came to committing
the Republic to war. No one wanted kingly powers invested in the president,
such as unilateral power to commit the nation to war. Such power had led
to ruinous results, with which the people of Great Britain and Europe were
familiar. Alexander Hamilton, who advocated a strong executive, nevertheless
conceded that “the Legislature alone [can place] the nation in a state of war”
under the Constitution. John Jay in Federalist No. 4 likewise advocated
the Constitution, in contradistinction to a king’s power to prosecute wars
unchecked. George Washington specifically disclaimed executive authority
to take the country into war, and so confined his operations against the
Indians to defensive measures. When Japan attacked Pearl Harbor in 1941,
the president did not retaliate on his own authority but went to Congress for
a declaration of war. Indeed, until 1950 it was understood that only Congress
could authorize offensive military operations, whereas the president might
take immediate defensive measures only without specific authorization.

Twelfth of our dirty dozen is the use and abuse of executive orders and
signing statements by the president to usurp the powers of Congress and turn
himself into an oracle of law. American presidents tended to be conservative
and cautious men well into the late nineteenth century. George Washington
set the precedent for Chief Executive in many ways, to include his conviction
that the president may not approve or disapprove of various parts of a bill
when it became law. He could not strike portions out of a bill when he signed
it into law; rather, he had to sign and enforce the whole thing or use his veto to
reject the bill in toto. With few exceptions, this was how the Chief Executive
or President continued to approach the office until Theodore Roosevelt.
Abuse of executive orders was steppingstone to abuse of presidential signing
statements, and George W. Bush is to presidential signing statements what
TR was to executive orders. George W. Bush issued hundreds of statements
and, of more significance they contained over 1000 specific exceptions to the
bills he signed. He literally refused to enforce the exceptions, and in hindsight
that’s why George W. Bush used the veto so few times.

The postmortem on the Constitution is incomplete. The American flag has
thirteen stripes, alternating red and white for the thirteen original colonies
and those first states to ratify the Constitution; whereas, the “union” of the
flag is that portion in the upper inner corner that contains a blue background
and constellation of white stars, one star for every state in the Union. Just
as fixed stars in combination make up a constellation in the heavens, states
that ratify the Constitution comprise a political constellation. They are held
together in Union through the aegis of the Constitution. It is the Constitution
that defines their relationship to each other and to the whole. Each star is
an irreducible object, as each state is an irreducible political sovereign.
According to its terms, the Constitution alone defines how the states must
share, divide and mix sovereign prerogatives with the federal government.
If the Constitution is as dead as Woods and Gutzman assert, the Union will
start to unravel – and the suddenly disunited states will inevitably start to
form new and different constellations.

WESLEY ALLEN RIDDLE is a retired military officer and a frequent
contributor to academic journals and newspapers. He may be contacted at

Los hermanos azules con Amy Winehouse...

Black on black in black and back to black - basic black on black in black...with the red wine, too

Hmmmm! Do dat again!

Tenther Radio to broadcast on TSA anti-grope bill

Tenth Amendment Center activists will host Heather Fazio of Texans for Accountable Government tonight at 7 p.m. CDT on BlogTalk Radio.

Listeners may tune in by clicking here each Wednesday.

Ms. Fazio represents one of the groups that persuaded Gov. Rick Perry to add the anti-groping bill to the Special Session underway now.

Passage of the bill would “nullify” Texas' compliance with Department of Transportation regulations because, as Sheriff Richard Mack of the Constitution Party has summed up the Tenth Amendment, “If we left anything out, you can't do that, either.”

Reasonable search and seizure may be carried out only after an affidavit of probable cause has been presented to a magistrate and a warrant of search obtained plainly stating what in particular is sought and the reason for the search, according to the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

Thomas E. Woods, Jr., will be taking live calls at 323-843-6008.

You may listen to an archive of the Tenth Amendment Center's pilot show by clicking here.