Rule by Corporations

Norman Jewison’s 1975 masterpiece Rollerball is set in a dystopia in the near future where governments have crumbled and corporations rule the planet.  Bartholomew, played by John Houseman,  is a corporation head that is alarmed by the individual effort of Jonathan E in his playing the sport of Rollerball, a sport that let’s the common man have an outlet for his life  by cheering for teams sponsored by corporations.  Bartholomew states to his fellow executives:

In my opinion, we are confronted here with something of a situation. Otherwise, I would not have presumed to take up your time. Once again, it concerns the case of Jonathan E. We know we don’t want anything extraordinary to happen to Jonathan. We’ve already agreed on that. No accidents, nothing unnatural. The game was created to demonstrate the futility of individual effort. And the game must do its work. The Energy Corporation has done all it can, and if a champion defeats the meaning for which the game was designed, then he must lose. I hope you agree with my reasoning.

Today, the corporations flexed their muscles to force Governor Nathan Deal of Georgia to veto a bill that would give limited amounts of freedom to people who wish to act on their convictions in terms of catering to the LGBT community.  Major corporations such as Delta Airlines, Coca-Cola and the National Football League indicated that if the bill were to become law, the state would take a major hit on its pocketbook due to corporations refraining from doing business with the state.   A similar measure was signed into law in North Carolina where the state is being threatened with withdraw of business.

It is apparent that corporations have tremendous power in dictating to government what to do and how to do it.  Progressives cheered this action today, but it is ironic that the same group of people they deride as the one percenters and evil corporate rulers now sings their praises to high heaven.   It is also apparent to the social conservatives and libertarians that corporations are no friends of theirs.  They are interested in only one thing and that is getting a buck.  They have long since used the government as a form of rent seeking, gaining favor for such things as the Wall Street bailout and the auto industry bailout several years ago.   Meanwhile, the common man gets nothing from the government as its businesses are not “too big to fail.”  Mark Crovelli stated in a March 31, 2014 post to Lewrockwell.com:

I am thus seriously perplexed and enraged to read about government “bailouts” occurring on a regular basis all over the modern world.  … Goldman Sachs, GM, and AIG were all effectively “bailed out” because their previous executives were so outstandingly incompetent and corrupt that they rendered their institutions insolvent by orders of magnitude.

So it is today, that the common man who yearns for a bit of liberty has been squashed again by the corporate junta who really calls the shots in our land.

Shameful AIPAC

Today, almost all of the remaining presidential candidates spoke before the AIPAC convention in Washington DC.   AIPAC, which stands for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, has been instrumental in urging the United States government to maintain strong ties to Israel including providing  financial and military assistance.  The mission of AIPAC is the following:

The mission of AIPAC is to strengthen, protect and promote the U.S.-Israel relationship in ways that enhance the security of the United States and Israel.

Cooperation between the two countries is advantageous for both nations. As America’s bipartisan pro-Israel lobby, AIPAC urges all members of Congress to support Israel through foreign aid, government partnerships, joint anti-terrorism efforts and the promotion of a negotiated two-state solution – a Jewish state of Israel and a demilitarized Palestinian state.

Why, shall we ask, should we give billions of dollars to a country that does not involve the defense of this country?   It is halfway around the world and far from our shores.  Why also should we support a Jewish state where most other nations are derided as racist for not allowing immigration of people whose culture and religion are different from others.  I can think of the nation of South Africa which excluded blacks from political participation until recent times.   That many progressives, including Hillary Clinton, support these policies is the height of hypocrisy.   At the AIPAC conference today, Hillary Clinton stated the following:

Candidates for president who think the United States can outsource Middle East security to dictators, or that America no longer has vital national interests at stake in this region are dangerously wrong.

It would be a serious mistake for the United States to abandon our responsibilities, or cede the mantle of leadership for global peace and security to anyone else.

What is this “mantle of leadership for global peace” she is talking about?  We are exhausted from fighting in the Middle East for the last 25 years and spent between $4 to $6 trillion in fighting losing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.  Not only have we lost, we have also stirred up a hornet’s nest of terrorism that was unheard of just 30 years ago.   AIPAC might think that we in America have bottomless pockets to support their selfish interests.  However, the game is up and it is time to tell Israel that they are on their own.

Romney’s stupid move

The circus that is the 2016 Presidential primary continues apace with special speech made by Mitt Romney in Salt Lake City this afternoon.   Trump’s flaws are well-known with his advocacy of universal health care, invasion of privacy and abuses of due process as brilliantly summarized by Bruce Fein in the Washington Times.   Nevertheless, as of this writing, he leads in the polls and in delegates and stands a good chance to win the nomination.  What has made him so attractive is his stand as an outsider and that he is a man that is not beholden to special as he has funded his own campaign.  It is also a known fact that the public has gradually come to the realization that the men in Washington have thrown them under the bus and that they are more interested in serving lobbyists in the DC suburbs than hearing the people.  Trump has tapped into this discontent with maximum effect.

Into this campaign stepped Mitt Romney, the 2012 GOP nominee for President.  In his ineptitude, he has thrown gasoline on the fire as he said some of these whoppers:

His tax plan in combination with his refusal to reform entitlements and honestly address spending would balloon the deficit and the national debt. So even though Donald Trump has offered very few specific economic plans, what little he has said is enough to know that he would be very bad for American workers and for American families.

Where has this man been in the last decade?  It was the GOP Congress that gave us Medicare Part D that aggravated the deficit and it was Romney’s allies like John McCain and Lindsay Graham that voted to bail out the big banks that sent the debt into the stratosphere.   The GOP Congress under Speaker Ryan has abandoned any pretense of capping spending by eliminating the sequester in early 2015 and setting the stage for larger deficits in the future.  Romney should just be quiet and stop talking about plans.

Mr. Trump’s bombast is already alarming the allies and fueling the enmity of our enemies. Insulting all Muslims will keep many of them from fully engaging with us in the urgent fight against ISIS, and for what purpose? Muslim terrorists would only have to lie about their religion to enter the country.

Again, the irony is stunning.  Our government has constantly aggravated the situation by engaging in Wilsonian nation building and arming rebels that are intent on overthrowing Assad and creating an ISIS stronghold.  We arm the Saudis to the tune of $60 billion and they have used those weapons to kill their enemies in Yemen.    You talk about bombast?  We chant USA!!  USA!!  USA!! as if our country is the only one that matters in this world.

I can go on and on, but the clear facts are that we are $20 trillion in debt, our civil liberties are in great peril and the remaining candidates have no clue on how to get us out of this mess.  Romney’s words might be the stuff of eloquence, but in the hands of “competent” people, we are fast approaching national bankruptcy.  Trump is not the solution, but who is?  Time to stop the world saving and let’s concentrate on home and hearth.

Reflections on Justice Scalia’s Passing

I was sitting and resting in bed yesterday after working at the library when I read on my Facebook feed that Justice Antonin Scalia passed away from a heart attack at a resort ranch in the town of Marfa, Texas, a small town 200 miles east of El Paso.  Scalia was not without faults (most notably his adherence to the incorporation doctrine), but he was one of the few justices on the Supreme Court who did not buy the rubbish that the Constitution was a living, breathing document that had to be interpreted with the times.

The Constitution, as envisioned by our Founding Fathers, gave the federal Congress specified powers that were enumerated in Article I, Section 8 of that document.  James Madison, in Federalist No. 45, stated the following with regards to the federal Constitution:

The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the federal government are few and defined. Those which are to remain in the State governments are numerous and indefinite.

It was clear that many of the powers that the new government had would be restricted and that the states would have much to say as to how their own governments were run.  This practice was maintained for all of the 19th Century and early into the 20th Century.   Even after the convulsion of the War Between the States, the federal government was very small with budgets not even reaching $1 billion a year until our entrance into World War One.   In the aftermath of the war, the country took a decidedly different direction where power would be amassed on the Potomac and that the power of the states would gradually decline throughout the century.

The expansion of federal power greatly accelerated with the Coup of 1937, where the Supreme Court abandoned its place in applying strict construction of the Constitution and began to embrace a more progressive understanding of the document.  Men like Woodrow Wilson were influenced by the theory that law like men were evolving in Darwinian terms and that the Constitution’s meaning changed over time.

Antonin Scalia rightly saw the danger in the evolving theory and stated:

The Constitution is over 200 years old and societies change. It has to change with society, like a living organism, or it will become brittle and break. But you would have to be an idiot to believe that. The Constitution is not a living organism, it is a legal document. It says something and doesn’t say other things.

Obama will now likely replace Scalia with a man that fits his vision of what law should be.  Men like Scalia are few and precious in these days and he will be missed.

Review of “Nine Presidents Who Screwed up America” by Brion McClanahan

Brion McClanahan’s newest book truly shows that the Constitution has been a disembodied ghost for the last century. The author goes all the way back to the creation of the government under the Constitution in 1789 to show that that document was already in trouble with George Washington taking the wrong stance with regards to treaty enforcement with France.

Through the first half of the book, the author takes us through nine presidents that made decisions that caused grave damage to the rule of law under the Constitution. Each president’s transgressions are briefly described with Andrew Jackson growing bellicose against South Carolina, Teddy Roosevelt’s using his office for legislative purposes, FDR’s interment of Japanese-Americans and Obama’s work on Obamacare among the examples of legal abuse. The last chapter in Obama actually takes in the transgressions of the three presidents before him that acted in unconstitutional ways.

The second part of his book tells about four Presidents who did their best to hold to their oath to defend the Constitution seriously. John Tyler was cited as the outstanding example on how to stand against popular opinion in upholding the Constitution. Calvin Coolidge was the last hurrah for our country before things took a turn for the worse legally. Finally, the last few pages of book provides a road map (Article V Convention) on how to salvage the Constitution before it is too late.

Even though this book is just a brief overview, it does a great job in highlighting the awfulness the actions of some of our more famous (infamous?) Presidents. The bibliography in this book provides the reader with in-depth resources in case they want to study the issues further. A great book for your collection.

The ghost of conscription

“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.”

Those words were added into the United States Constitution via the 13th Amendment which ended the formal institution of slavery after the end of the Civil War (War Between the States).  The irony of this action was that just two years before, the United Stated Congress pass the first conscription act in American history.  In essence, it meant that men being were being enslaved by the government in order for the army to free others from slavery…or so we were told.  From this time forward, the draft was used at various times in our history where men had to leave their farms and places of work to fight overseas.

In 1973, President Nixon pulled the plug on the draft and service in military once again became something that was voluntary.  A holdover from the days of the draft still remains with us and that is the Selective Service Act where men ages 18 to 25 must register with the Selective Service System.  It is possible that Congress can call a draft overnight and its odious whiff  will be once again with us.

With the involvement of women in combat, a even uglier aspect of the draft has surfaced where top men in the Army and Marine Corps recommended that women register for Selective Service as well.   It is becoming clear that our country is convulsing in a orgy of egalitarianism and that the call of women to participate in the draft is a sign that our culture is becoming more degraded every day.  Let’s end this foolishness of the draft and relegate it to the dustbin of history.

Misery at the GOP debate in South Carolina

Last night was a night to forget in terms of looking for a candidate at the debate to reduce the size of government and give us more liberty.    It is a given that serious cuts will have to be made, but with no commitment to reduce Social Security or eliminating gargantuan programs, the only only place that one could cut is the military.  Yet, what we heard from the candidates was the cacophonous refrain of “We need to rebuild our military.”  I must ask “with what?”  We are in serious debt to the tune of almost $19 trillion and going up every day and we are in areas of the world that we should have left over 25 years ago once the Cold War was over.  Why are we subsidizing the defense for Western Europe?  South Korea?  With their economies, they could very well handle more spending in their budgets for their defense.   Should we be in the position of supreme leadership in the world as Jeb Bush suggested?  His suggestion that  “We have to eliminate the sequester”  is a a sign that this game is over.  As Mark Kreslins stated so well:  “DC cannot save DC.”

A Convention of States

Yesterday, Governor Greg Abbott of Texas proposed a convention of states to reconfigure the Constitution to stop the growing centralization of government in the hands of Washington politicians.  Some in the media are skeptical of this effort with the Dallas Morning News calling Abbott’s plan “part civics lesson, part anti-Obama diatribe.”  The fact is that the states have been losing power for many years dating back to the end of the Civil War.  It has been only in the last half-century that the concentration of power on the Potomac has shot up in earnest.    For some, there is a concern that such a convention would unleash more power from the central government.  However, as it is clear to many of us, Washington has not been restrained by the “parchment barrier” in a very long time.    Perhaps this convention might do some good as it would be a proper response to desire a return to a more localize government, however imperfect it might be.   Governor Abbott’s plan can be read here.