Archive for February, 2009

Constitutional Quirk or Cheat?

Friday, February 27th, 2009

Some members of our Congress are once again attempting to override the Constitution of the United States. The argument in their quest to cheat the Constitution is based on what they call a “quirk of constitutional law” which treats Washington, D.C. like it is not a state. Alarmingly, sixty-one of our Senators have agreed that our Constitution is wrong.

Article One of the Constitution allows states to send duly qualified and chosen members to the House of Representatives and the Senate. The District of Columbia was created by territory lawfully ceded from states in order to establish a district under the control of Congress.

As most folks already know, Washington D.C. has never been a state–thus the smart people reading this already know why D.C. does not have Congressmen and Senators voting to change the nation’s laws.

Nevertheless, I will continue before I make my point. I have discovered that it is far easier to write, than it is to speak, with one’s tongue in his cheek.

When James Madison wrote in the Federalist Papers that every imaginable objection seems to be obviated, he thought he had explained it well enough. But in a world where everything seems to be subject to redefinition, maybe he was wrong.

What?

Maybe he was wrong. Maybe districts and territories should have the same rights as states. If so, where would that apply?

If Washington D.C. was given States’ rights we would get two new Senators and then Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton would become a full fledged voting Congresswoman.

Washington D.C. already has a Congresswoman? But the Constitution says …

We’re not talking about what the Constitution says or doesn’t say, at least not since the third paragraph above. This entire discussion is assuming the Constitution is wrong. Right?

Okay, here we go again.

If Washington D.C. gets States’ rights, then why not Puerto Rico? Puerto Rico is filled with American’s that fight our wars and do great things. Just because they’re not a state is no reason to deny them Constitutional States’ rights, is it? Once we do that, we’ll add two more senators (making it 104) to help make our nations laws better and more fair for everyone.

And if Puerto Rico gets states’ rights, then why not the Northern Mariana Islands, the United States Virgin Islands, and American Samoa? There would be no reason to deny them states’ right also–thus the number of senators would increase to 110. Seems fair and it’s not too much of a change–only 10%.

But wait, there are other territories: Baker Island, Howland Island, Jarvis Island, Johnston Atoll, Kingman Reef, Baj Nuevo Bank, Serranilla Bank, Midway Islands, Navassa Island, Wake Atole, Palmyra Atoll ….

What? Most of those places don’t even have a population, why should they have States’ rights?

But they are territories, and if some territories get state’s rights all of them should have it, right?

Well, maybe not, I don’t know. We can’t get help from the Constitution because we already know it is wrong.

How about if we try using logic?

Because states’ rights is all about people, not necessarily the territory or land associated with it–though that counts for something. We shouldn’t give a lump of dirt States’ rights. Okay, but it seems discriminatory.

Maybe we can look at the Constitution for some help here.

Then let’s go back to Article 1 Section 8 and look at those authorities of Congress:

To exercise exclusive Legislation in all Cases whatsoever, over such District (not exceeding ten Miles square) as may, by Cession of particular States, and the Acceptance of Congress, become the Seat of the Government of the United States, and to exercise like Authority over all Places purchased by the Consent of the Legislature of the State in which the Same shall be, for the Erection of Forts, Magazines, Arsenals, dock-Yards, and other needful Buildings;


So that sounds a lot like military bases. Using the same logic, all those Federal properties known as military bases need states’ rights too, right?

Some people might argue against that by saying, “The folks in the military are not allowed to hold public office. None of those military people have a right to states’ rights. The bases were bought and paid for with public money.”

Well, so was Washington D.C. and certainly the wives and families of those military people need their rights too. Using the same logic as we did in passing out States’ rights to all the other non states, each military bases should be given States’ rights. The spouses of the military that live there could be elected to hold offices in the Senate and the House of Representatives.

Let’s see that would bring the number of Senators up to … about 750–give or take a few. Most of the new Senators would be the wives and husbands of the brave, the few, the defenders of freedom. I wonder how that will affect the amount of taxes being levied on Americans. Even more, I wonder how that will affect military pay raises and the defense budget.

One thing is for sure, if we do this, we’re going to need a bigger capital.

Or better yet, maybe our elected officials, who have taken a oath to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution, should reconsider any act that will not preserve the Constitution of the United States.

We have a multi-partisan assault on our Constitution. Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), Sen. Joe Liberman (I-Con) and Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev) are only three of the sixty-one Senators who are supporting giving States’ rights to a non-state. If they believe the Constitution is flawed, they should sponsor an amendment to the Constitution to change it. Then, at least, the states get some say in the process that will degrade their exclusive status given to them by the Constitution.

Constitution cheating can’t continue — unless we the people permit it–we’ve got to stop this.

It just makes sense.

Cheap Constitutional Cheat

Saturday, February 21st, 2009

George stomped his boots on the wooden porch to remove January’s snow and the traces of New Jersey mud he had picked up between the hitching post and the small pub.  The sixty-one year-old mountain of a man was dwarfed only by the legends of his accomplishment.  As he stepped inside, he was greeted with enthusiasm.

“Mr. President!” someone shouted.

“To the President!” shouted another.

“Here here!” echoed the reply as the men held their tankards upward in respect of the man who had done so much to free them from their European monarch.

“Thank you, all.”  George tipped his hat to them, revealing a full head of formerly red hair, which he believed, looked better powdered than the gray to which it had faded.  He hung his three-cornered hat on a post by the door and spoke to the bartender,  “Barbados Rum, if you have it.  And where is Governor Paterson?”

“Over here, Mr. President.  We’ve a good table reserved in the back room.  And don’t worry.  I made sure our fine pub had your favorite rum on hand.”  William Paterson was like most men of the day, shorter than his President.  He also shared the curse of the beginnings of gray hair showing through his once auburn coiffure.  It came with being 48 years old in 1793 as coloring products for men were still years away from being in style.  After exchanging greetings, the men retired to the back room with their drinks in hand.

“You said you had urgent business for me?”

“Yes, William,” George said as his mug thumped against the table.  “I’ll cut to the chase, I need you on the Supreme Court.”

“I’m confused.  Why now?  Why me?”

“The timing is really Thomas Johnson’s fault.  His health inspired him to resign on the sixteen.  I would have preferred him to share his frailties with me back in 1791 before he took the job in the first place, but that didn’t happen.  But it has happened now.  So that leaves our country a Justice short, so we need you.”  George took another sip of rum.  “That’s good stuff.”

“Sorry to hear Thomas’ health is poor.  But I’m afraid I can’t accept the position—I’m not qualified.”

“Ridiculous!  Your credentials are beyond reproach.  You were a patriot throughout the revolution.  You were Attorney General of New Jersey—the most prominent lawyer in the state.  You served at the Constitutional Convention—why you were the one who proposed the solution for equal representation for each state.  You just about wrote the Constitution!  As a Justice, you would make sure our country remains true to the principles in that blessed document.  What do you mean, you’re not qualified?”

“I already hold an office.”

“Being Governor of New Jersey does not disqualify you from accepting a nomination to the Supreme Court.  Of course, I understand if you’d rather remain Governor and forgo being a Justice.”

“Oh no, Mr. President.  I want to be a Supreme Court Justice more than anything.  I believe I’ve been called by God for that specific purpose.”

“William,” said George, who then paused to take another sip of rum.  He hardened his gaze and spoke sternly, “You’re talking in circles.  Explain to me why you can’t accept the position without the ambiguity—lest you try our friendship beyond its limits.”

“Yes, Mr. President.  I was previously elected as a Senator for New Jersey.  Article 1, Section 6 , Clause 2 is quite clear.  No Senator or Representative shall, during the Time for which he was elected, be appointed to any civil Office under the Authority of the United States, which shall have been created …”

“But, William, you left that Senate position to take up service as the Governor of New Jersey.”

“That’s true.  But the Governorship is not a civil office subject to the authority of the United States.  The time I was elected to office of Senator doesn’t end until the third of March of this year, 1793.”

George’s expression softened, as he completely understood William’s objections.  “Oh, so that is a problem.  I did take an oath to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution to the best of my ability.  All oaths are sacred and should never be broken.  But a President’s character should always be above reproach–it would open the door for future problems.  But, I’ve already nominated you to Congress.  What do I do now?”

“Oh dear, that is another problem.  Sir, you need to retract that nomination until after my Senate time has expired—after which, I’ll eagerly report for duty.”

“Yes, that is the only solution.  Certainly, I understand.  But I can’t help but to muse about that clause.  Was it really intended to prevent the most qualified man in the country from assuming his position as a Justice?”

“Not really.  But the godly men who assembled to craft our Constitution knew that we had to have checks and balances throughout the document to prevent future generations from copying the oppressive practices of the ‘royal’ lineages in Europe.  If left unchecked, we could find ourselves with professional public-servants …”

“That is ridiculous.   How could they attend to the businesses that support their families?”

“They could create a level of pay and privileges that would elevate their life styles using the power of taxes on the merchants and producers of the country.”

“Sounds more like a system for highway men than legislatures.”

“Yes, Mr. President.  A republic can be a fragile thing.  Of course, another solid check on such corruption is the second half of that same clause:  ‘or the Emoluments whereof shall have been increased during such time,’ thus restricting any Senator or Congressman from ever holding an office that has been created or given a salary or benefits, or even increasing the salary or benefits of an existing office.”

“I see.  I remember some of that discussion.  James Madison was very concerned about people using an elected office as a gateway to enrich their own life, with no regard to national service.  I still don’t completely understand how unethical people could ever manage to win the hearts and minds of the voting people.”

“Certainly not our in generation.  We’ve paid too much for the freedoms we enjoy today to toss them away.  But it is possible that future generations could be enticed by office seekers who might promise them something for nothing, only to loot the taxpayers in the process.”

“I pray you’re wrong.  A person who believes they can have something for nothing is either a criminal or a fool.  America is better than that.”

———————

No Senator or Representative shall, during the Time for which he was elected, be appointed to any civil Office under the Authority of the United States which shall have been created, or the Emoluments whereof shall have been increased during such time; and no Person holding any Office under the United States, shall be a Member of either House during his Continuance in Office.

             Article 1, Section 6, Clause 2

As clear as the language is in our Constitution, some administrations have chosen to violate it.

In 1968 William Saxbe was elected to the U.S. Senate.  In 1973—before his time was complete—Richard Nixon appointed him U.S. Attorney General, after firing Elliot Richardson who disagreed with him over the Watergate Scandal.
Whatever motivation Richard Nixon had to have a more cooperative Attorney General in power is open to speculation.  Nixon convinced Congress to assist him in violating Article 6, Section 1, Clause 2 by reducing the salary to the Attorney General to the level it was before Saxbe’s term in the Senate had begun.  This cheap Constitutional cheat has been known ever since as the “Saxbe’s fix.”  President Nixon resigned from office in 1974 to avoid impeachment.

In 1980 Jimmy Carter coped the Saxbe’s fix to appoint then Senator Edmund Muskie as Secretary of State after Cyrus Vance resigned in protest of the failed mission to rescue the American hostages in Iran where eight US servicemen were lost.  Muskie appealed in vain to the UN to save the American hostages and was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by Jimmy Carter just prior to ending his single term most noteworthy for a record misery index on the America people.

In 1993, Senator Lloyd Benson resigned from his office and became Bill Clinton’s Secretary of the Treasury.  An interesting note on this “Saxbe’s fix” is that President George H.W. Bush was somehow convinced to sign the bill as one of his last acts in office—thus sharing partial blame for the Constitutional sin.  Talk about leaving office on a sour note.

Following the 2008 election the “Saxbe’s fix” has become standard procedure to fill Obama’s cabinet:

  1. New York Senator Clinton resigned to become the Secretary of State.
  2. Colorado Senator Salazar resigned to become Secretary of the Interior.
  3. California Representative Solis resigned to become Secretary of Labor.


What would George Washington and William Paterson have said about such activity?

And just how does that oath of office for the President go?  The wording is specified in Article Two, Section One, Clause Eight:

“I do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”

That should mean exactly what it says, shouldn’t it?

It just makes sense.

February 15, where is time going…

Sunday, February 15th, 2009

Good Morning and month to the BoBs.

Just a quick update to you all, thank you for letting me know what is going on in the USAF with your posts. I wanted to comment on life away from the USAF.

Yesterday, two things showed me the connection we have through our service. One was a veteran who is ill and in the VA Hospital, and the other was a comment by a UH Professor.

The veteran hired me based upon my military service to help him right a will. What was really neat was finding out that this veteran had served in the Navy, and then transferred into the Army. As he stated the Navy was a Bunch of sissys. His comment made me laugh, and summed up this 1965 era ground FAC. The veterans seemed frail physically, but alert mentally. He told me he selected me to help him write his last will and testament, the living will (durable power of attorney), and the other documents to provide him his end-of-life request. I found it very sad, but pleasing to know that we were connected based upon our military service.

While I was there, the VFW popped in the room and gave the veteran a camouflaged Goodie bag containing some personal hygiene items and a pair of socks. There is also a card drawn by a local elementary student. The veteran was quite pleased with the socks and the card. He also enjoyed the other items stating, “this is quite a haul.”

I discovered he was a private pilot. Moreover, when I asked him about flying he really perked up. We talked about the differences between Cessna and Pipers aircraft, and talked about how he it started to learn instruments sometime in his flying career.

Later that evening, I was talking to a good friend of mine who is a University of Houston Professor. She commented that veterans really do have a special connection. I had responded to two of my friend’s comments about how veterans are treated. Essentially, they thought it was a shame how veterans seemed to be treated, and one reported about the horrible conditions at a VA hospital.

My comments concerned the $798 billion bailout, and there did not appear to be any money for Tricare, which in turn affects veterans. Both of my friends had not even considered why Congress was not helping the veteran. Of course, they thought that the veterans were receiving more care based upon all the photo opportunities that they saw on the TV or in the newspaper.

The proposed TRICARE fee increases show me that once again when everyone is receiving “free money” Congress is not serious about fixing the problems for military members or veterans. Until veterans form, a cohesive voting bloc I do not think Congress will provide the care or respect to veterans.

I am considering how best to support MOAA’s fight against TRICARE fee increases, so if you know of anything please let me know. I may try to include that on my blog of my law firm’s website.

Thank you and God bless. Bob

Stabilizer malfunction blamed in B-52 crash

Friday, February 13th, 2009

This came out today, in the Air Force Times in an article by Bruce Rolfsen – Staff writer and posted : Friday Feb 13, 2009 14:10:10 EST

Here are several extracts from that story:

 

Malfunctioning parts and late recognition of spiraling problems likely led to the fatal crash … the bomber’s rear stabilizers …

… the stabilizers malfunctioned while the bomber was in a fast descent from 14,000 feet to 1,000 feet.

“Even an experienced aircrew could have found it difficult to recognize, assess and recover from the very rapidly developing situation involving the rear stabilizer trim,” board president Brig. Gen. Mark Barrett concluded.

… jackscrew revealed the stabilizer trim was set at 4.5 to 5 degrees nose down …

… the flight was normal until the jet turned left and began to descend about 33 miles west of Guam.

[During the descent] at … more than 240 mph, the stabilizers suddenly unhinged, putting the jet into a dive with the nose pointed down 30 degrees and more.

One of the pilots likely tried to level the stabilizers manually using a control wheel in the cockpit that moves the stabilizer 1 degree every two to three seconds, the report said. However, because the plane was already low, there wasn’t enough time to level the stabilizers.

At least three crew members tried to bail out seconds before the plane hit the water, but the plane’s speed, altitude and angle already were past the point where they could survive the ejection.

http://www.airforcetimes.com/news/2009/02/airforce_b52_crashreport_021309/

Feb 11 – The Chuck’s Comments

Wednesday, February 11th, 2009

Good month. February is a good month. It’s shorter than the rest, so the retirement check comes faster. My Mom’s birthday would have been today. She passed away in October of 2000. I entered the 2009 Amazon Breakthough Novel Award (ABNA) contest.

Did I tell you I entered the 2009 ABNA? If you remember last year, I was cut when the field was reduced to 100. I did make it to the top 836. I took some computer based instruction, then took a continuing education class with published author, engineer, and teacher Connie Cox, it was well worth the investment. Shortly after that, I had to admit my original manuscript for 2008 was pretty bad.

I joined the national American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW), but haven’t found the time to join the local chapter. I was attending meetings with the Centenary Writers Group, but I haven’t been lately because the job got a little demanding, along the time I was putting into my writing to get ready for the 2009 ABNA contest. Did I tell you that I entered my novel?

Oh, I did. Okay.

This year the field was limited to 10,000 entries and they’re going to cull the herd down to 500 on the Ides of March (15 March). Reed could tell you that was the first day of the Roman New Year, which also marked the first day of spring back then. The soothsayer warned Julius Caesar to “beware the Ides of March” but he blew it off like a solo student ignoring his clock at the final approach fix–Marcus Brutus (Caesar’s trusted wingman) stabbed him dead in 44 BC.

Hopefully my writing has improved enough to make it to the top 500. After that the next cut will be that dreaded top 100 rung I failed to reach last year. I’ll keep you posted.

The contest is not only bigger and faster moving this year, it’s also more complicated. We all had to write a description of 300 words or less. Before I post it here, I need to say “Happy birthday” to my Mom. I think they might have the Internet in Heaven–everybody is supposed to be computer literate too.

“Happy Birthday, Mom. Love you.”

Okay guys, I’m back. Here’s the description I promised you:

THE DRAGONEERS by Charles Sutherland

Description: THE DRAGONEERS, a historical fantasy set in the antediluvian nation of Sethica, follows the adventures of Susah–the headstrong daughter of the most famous shipwright in history. Susah refuses to join her three brothers in helping her father build a boat that most people believe will never float. She wants to do something exciting with her life. Against her parents’ wishes, she leaves home on a quest to become one of the dragoneers-an elite fraternity of warriors sworn to defend an ancient garden against all trespassers.

Deep in Sethopolis’ roughest neighborhood, the evil giantess Lilith dreams of seizing the secrets of immortality and other powers, which she believes are hidden within the walls of the forbidden garden zone of Eden. Shortly after a mysterious spirit advises Lilith to kill Susah’s entire family in order to achieve her goal, Susah and her three young cousins enter Lilith’s lair. As they run through the city streets for their lives, death pursues them.

Will the assassins kill Susah before she can learn the Sethican warriors’ ancient martial art secrets? Just how good does Susah have to be before the dragoneers will accept a woman into their ranks? Will the dragoneers succeed in defending the garden zone of Eden against the forces of evil, despite Lilith’s perfectly crafted plan?

Could it be possible that the world that existed before the great flood in Genesis was as advanced in some ways or even better in other ways as our world is today? Read and decide for yourself.

After you’ve experienced Susah’s first adventure outside of her father’s garden, you may find yourself referring to the real scriptures–only to discover that THE DRAGONEERS is quite plausible. As wild as Susah’s ride may seem, there really is more to the story than you’ve been told.

Doesn’t that make you want to read the book?